The Tea Party's Brew
April 26, 2010 12:55 PM   Subscribe

The Tea Party's Toxic Take on History (single link Slate) The piece has interesting internal links. The points about history distortions are at the end. Here's a little more about the author. The Tea Party is a significant preoccupation for him. Previously (briefly!) on Metafilter, but taken down at poster's request.
posted by bearwife (119 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know this joke is probably overplayed, but I wondered for more than a moment why Jeff Martin's band was back in the media 5 years after the breakup.
posted by Fraxas at 1:02 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for re-posting this with supporting links. My original post didn't do it justice.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:04 PM on April 26, 2010


Man, I never flag anything, but flagged. Don't we already have enough open teabagger posts, and better framed one's at that, to have an unproductive discussion in?
posted by cgomez at 1:05 PM on April 26, 2010


I thought we'd established in several MeFi threads that the Tea Baggers are highly educated, financially secure, perfectly reasonable people with nice breath. Why would you post something attacking them like this?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:06 PM on April 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


Earlier today I was like "Jesus H, another juggalo post?" Now this post and I'm all like "Jesus H another Tea Party post?" But who wants to be a negative Nancy? I gave it a thought and tried to turn that frown upside down and I got to thinking about how great a Juggalo Tea Party would be. Imagine a sea of people dressed in old timey clothes and clown makeup, and then imagine them holding misspelled signs upon which they've angrily written their favorite miracles: "DON'T TREAD ON MY MAGNETS!" Now that would a front-page post BE!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:07 PM on April 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


This piece is about a couple of different things than any open thread -- first, the Tea Party's mis-takes on 20th century political history, and secondly, Mr. Rosenbaum and his big, big concerns about the group.
posted by bearwife at 1:08 PM on April 26, 2010


Man, I never flag anything, but flagged.

It's flag and move on.
posted by delmoi at 1:11 PM on April 26, 2010 [33 favorites]


Perhaps this is the best Tea Party open thread to post Jill Lepore's recent feature in the New Yorker, Who Owns the American Revolution?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


The speech.
posted by interrobang at 1:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


That was actually a really well-written polemic against a very specific strain of American ignorance, one that recalled (but thank God didn't use) the cliche about being doomed to repeat history.

So, yeah, worth a read. Thanks, Bearwife.
posted by klangklangston at 1:14 PM on April 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


How many open threads about the Tea Party do we really, truly need?
posted by stoneweaver at 1:14 PM on April 26, 2010


43
posted by spicynuts at 1:18 PM on April 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


Previously (briefly!) on Metafilter

There are already discussions about the Tea Party on Metafilter? WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?!

Seriously, though, I actually kind of enjoyed this article, and I especially liked the part about how calling their enemies "fascists" and/or "communists" is a real disservice to the victims of fascism and communism. This is a pretty important point, and arguably more effective than just dismissing the Tea Part members as a bunch of ignorant hicks or mocking their spelling and grammar or whatever.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:20 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


And it suddenly occurred to me that Tea Partiers really should read this pamphlet, because it would teach them something about what "tyranny" is actually like. It would teach them something about what "communism" was really like. It would make them ashamed of themselves for whining about a health care bill turning America into a tyranny, for slandering liberals as communists who want to impose tyranny on them. It might snap them out of the intoxicated hysteria they whip themselves into.

hahaha yeah they should read something good luck with that
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:24 PM on April 26, 2010 [26 favorites]


Has being concerned, worried, or preoccupied with a significant frightening trend become a disqualification for ones opinion. I'm not ready to get out a tin foil hat over anything, and I don't think Rosenbaum has one either. It's not paranoia when the fear is real. And I don't think this has been discussed enough because these people are putting real bodies into political races and some are going to win. Each week the disconnect between their words and reality becomes larger, and they are absolutely protected from any rational responces made to their accusations.

At the very least we can keep in mind there is a huge difference between years of schooling (which supposedly the tea bags are above average in), and education, which they clearly have very, very little of.
posted by Some1 at 1:25 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pardon my derail, but is it kosher to revive dead posts? I get Afroblanco is happy, I just didn't know.

Back on topic, I don't know if the Tea Party would take the speech seriously as proof that Obama isn't a closet Soviet. Their whole philosophy is built up on the idea of slippery slopes. They think healthcare reform is bad, because it's a slope to a public option, which is bad because that's a slope to single payer, which is a slope to the death of all free enterprise. They don't get that the concept is (generally) a rhetorical fallacy. It's pretty easy to tell they're "new to politics," as they often claim.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:26 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I saw this the other day I thought "I guess Rosenbaum isn't writing for PajamasMedia anymore ..." (I kid because I love, mostly.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:27 PM on April 26, 2010


Mr. Rosenbaum seems to believe that the Tea Party is actually a coherent movement.
posted by blucevalo at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I promise, dear MetaFilter, to craft the fabled Lady Gaga Sarah Palin Juggalo Tea Party post someday before I die.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


Legitimate derail question, mccarty.tim, I think. I didn't realize this piece had been up in Metafilter until I previewed it. I was planning not to post but then saw afroblanco had asked to take it down very early on in the thread's life, so thought it would be OK to repost. And now I will be quiet for the rest of this thread.
posted by bearwife at 1:31 PM on April 26, 2010


They're both a coherent and incoherent movement. They're based on a consistant push from think tanks and Fox News (hurf durf same difference) to get a hodgepodge of right wingers, each with their own motivations (pro-life, anti-immigrant, anti-minority, pro-gun, pro-Israel, etc), to lobby against laws they don't like from the current administration.

It's really more or less like there is no Tea Party. There's just a right wing distortion machine that gets people on the street. It's not like the groups are debating issues and taking up their own stances.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:32 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


The comments pretty much exemplify his point.
posted by spicynuts at 1:35 PM on April 26, 2010


I know this joke is probably overplayed, but I wondered for more than a moment why Jeff Martin's band was back in the media 5 years after the breakup.

Because his new stuff sucks.

And, anything after Tryptych, for that matter.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:37 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before you dismiss this as TeaPartyFilter, read the article. It's an interesting analysis of a particular strain of, not just Tea Party but current American "right-ist" discourse and its fundamental reliance on not just an ignorance of, but a misreading of history. Flagged. As informative.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:38 PM on April 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


The other Tea Party thread is about what if they were black. This one asks what would happen if they understood history.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:47 PM on April 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wanted to read this, I really did, but the opening graf made me want to chew my own teeth off. The first sentence is 'I am a great believer in used-bookstore serendipity.' What is this--an article on the tea party or a personal essay about two Smith undergrads bumping into each other between the photography and self help sections and then realizing that they share an interest in chai lattes? The rest of the graf doesn't get much better and so I would rather waste my time writing snarky comments on the blue than reading the rest of the article.

Also: do we really need ANOTHER article on how wrong the tea party is? Isn't it kinda obvious and now at this point boring?
posted by festivemanb at 1:48 PM on April 26, 2010


The first sentence is 'I am a great believer in used-bookstore serendipity.

Uh, I think you misread that "graf," festivemanb. It doesn't address interpersonal used-bookstore serendipity so much as textual used-bookstore serendipity, which I can attest is a powerful force. Not nearly as powerful a force as TeaStupid, but still. But thanks for flagging and not moving on.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:50 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also: do we really need ANOTHER article on how wrong the tea party is? Isn't it kinda obvious and now at this point boring?

It's almost like John Fogerty asking us to keep on chooglin'. DUDE, we're already chooglin'! Of course we're gonna keep on chooglin'!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:51 PM on April 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I wanted to read this, I really did, but the opening graf made me want to chew my own teeth off.

Your use of the word "graf" had a similar effect on me.
posted by brundlefly at 1:52 PM on April 26, 2010 [31 favorites]


Before you dismiss this as TeaPartyFilter, read the article. It's an interesting analysis of a particular strain of, not just Tea Party but current American "right-ist" discourse and its fundamental reliance on not just an ignorance of, but a misreading of history. Flagged. As informative.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:38 PM on April 26


Yeah; despite my comment above it's a very good read.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:53 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks for tracking down that speech, Interrobang. That was the most interesting part of the article for me.
posted by freebird at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2010


I flagged it as flaggable, which is an interesting flag to have and I have never noticed it before now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's almost like John Fogerty asking us to keep on chooglin'. DUDE, we're already chooglin'! Of course we're gonna keep on chooglin'!

Sometimes I change it up and shake my head like this: "No, no! Don't stop a-rockin'!"
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:57 PM on April 26, 2010


You know, I don't think the Tea Party started this way. When I was first exposed to it, iit seemed pretty sound in a lot of the fundamental issues (fiscal responsibility, bailouts, central management of the economy through manipulation of the money supply), although it was, admittedly, strangely timed in its creation, since we had most of those problems well before the black guy won the election. I remember posting to one guy cheerleading the Tea Party, early on, "where the hell were you in 2004, when we passed that insane Medicare drug benefit to buy a few votes from old people? Why weren't you pissed off then? Obama's spending is chump change in comparison. It's just happening now, instead of a decade from now." (Of course, that was before we nationalized FNM, FRE, and AIG, so at this point, he's getting into the same league of taking on liabilities we can't pay for, but that won't blow up until some later President's term.)

But then, man, all these freaking yahoos showed up out of nowhere. It feels like the original ideas have been completely hijacked by some very, very bad people. This is why education, REAL education, is so important, because it's inoculation against this kind of ignorant hate. History matters, but it's taught so horribly in schools that everyone ignores it. And we end up with a population that has no memory of the time before they were born; they're practically tabula rasa with regard to the great evils that have come before us. And, in being told that their opponents embody that evil, they are themselves becoming precisely what they're told to fear.

Can this even be fixed? The fact that this kind of nonsense could be getting this kind of traction is deeply frightening. Even my siblings buy a lot of this shit... they actually watch Fox News and believe what they see. This is forty years of neglect we're seeing, it's not something we can just patch over quickly.

There have been times in our history when bad movements got some traction, and we managed to weather those all right, but this feels different to me. We're not supposed to have a population this ignorant in the 21st century. What the hell are we going to do?
posted by Malor at 1:58 PM on April 26, 2010 [34 favorites]


Malor, I think the Tea Party did start in 2007, as a thing Ron Paul set up. It didn't get much momentum outside of the internet, like most Ron Paul ventures.

Then, after Obama got elected, a bunch of sore loser Republicans wanted a movement and a bunch of think tanks and Fox News decided to hijack the libertarian Tea Party movement and make it into the neoconservative bash we know today.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:04 PM on April 26, 2010


The efforts to pretend that the Tea Party started as anything but a crazy-ass right-wing response to the black guy getting elected would be funny if the situation were less serious. Their most proximate origin is in last year's Town Hall protests, where the proto-Tea Partiers forcibly shut down public political discussion in order to get their way. This did not start as anything reasonable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:11 PM on April 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Do we really need more comments from people who haven't read the article?
posted by ob at 2:16 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Trust me, I'm not defending them. It's just that many of the Tea Partiers get their panties in a bunch if you say they started after Obama got elected, even though the truth is the Tea Party didn't matter until after the neoconservative machine got behind them used anger at a black president to gain momentum.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:17 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I see "graf," I just think of a delicious malt cider beverage. Mmmm.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:19 PM on April 26, 2010


I promise, dear MetaFilter, to craft the fabled Lady Gaga Sarah Palin Juggalo Tea Party post someday before I die.

Hipsters, sir. Don't forget the hipsters.
posted by spoobnooble at 2:23 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It's important to expose the lies for what they are before they further debase the language with their false use of words *snip*...Few paid attention, but they got to the truth."

Doesn't fill me with hope.
The premise is fairly solid (I've said as much myself that this current bit of violence is more akin to the brownshirts because of the more open political and media support). But I don't think the cult of Obama is that relevant. He's had a fair amount of mystique from many quarters (and indeed, many folks on the left are saying they feel betrayed), but he's just a convenient target.
With the caveat that once people start to box or label you there's often friction if there's resistance to that label.

Taking them on is a necessity. But it will take more than emotionalism, it will take methodical calculation. Especially given the political sympathy there.

But hell, some people you can't reason with. Talked to one guy who was into this a bit ago and he wouldn't shut up about socialist this and commie that, kept trying to say I'm wrong for asking questions (I can be aggressive sometimes, but I wasn't being - hell a lot of folks here know my M.O.) and saying people like me were a drain, how great his dad was for being in the service, etc. etc. I finally told him that I was prior service, and it didn't make a dent. Somehow when his dad was in, that wasn't socialism, but this modern generation of troops and recent veterans are all commies. Apparently because they're willing to serve under Obama.

Some people man, you just have to fight them because they won't let you reason with them at all. (Not that I'm going to let some loudmouth dictate the terms, I took a walk).
posted by Smedleyman at 2:30 PM on April 26, 2010


People who knock and flag posts without reading the material are kinda like teapartiers. Neither group is very helpful.
posted by snsranch at 2:31 PM on April 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


I went to the tax day Tea Party in Eugene Oregon a couple weeks back. I am far from being a supporter, but I was pleasantly surprised. I wore an Obama shirt from the last election under an open jacket to ensure my presence wasn't misconstrued as support if anyone I know spotted me. It was an older and more sedate crowd than at other protests I've been to (IMF/Worldbank stuff mostly), everyone was very polite (signs were all correctly spelled), several people were interested in having discussions about my support for Obama's policies. The speakers were not so impressive, but their rhetoric was less inflammatory than at any left-wing protest I've attended. They focused pretty exclusively on fiscal conservatism and the projected costs of the healthcare plan. These strike me as pretty reasonable concerns given the last couple years and while I disagree I think all the mefi hate is pretty ridiculous. They have differing political and social views than you and I do, but this doesn't make them evil, it doesn't even necessarily make them wrong. Ascribing to them the worst plausible motives is unpleasant and uncharitable, though hardly a surprise from certain mefites who regularly come close to driving me to conservatism just to avoid sharing an opinion with them.

The boyscouts were selling hotdogs, which seems a little weird, but I couldn't blame them. A crowd of a thousand oldish conservative white people in a park for several hours is a good place for boyscouts to sell a lot of hotdogs and soda.
posted by pseudonick at 2:35 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think the Tea Party did start in 2007, as a thing Ron Paul set up.

Odd, that's the first I remember hearing of Ron Paul being associated with the movement/whatnot. Apparenly my memory is poor. That was then, this is now - he's facing 3 opponents in his re-election bid, all of them part of the Tea Party.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:37 PM on April 26, 2010


Ascribing to them the worst plausible motives is unpleasant and uncharitable, though hardly a surprise from certain mefites who regularly come close to driving me to conservatism just to avoid sharing an opinion with them.

Yes, because Tea Partiers (at least the ones that look for cameras to scream at) are so unlikely to ascribe to their opponents anything but the most charitable and unicorn-filled motives.
posted by blucevalo at 2:46 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]




I'm not impressed. His point is that the Tea Partiers misuse the words "tyranny, communist, Marxist, fascist, and socialist" to describe Obama, but I'm not entirely convinced that he knows what those words mean either. He seems to equate fascism with Hitler and Communism with Stalin. Both concepts have plenty of history outside those two men. He could have used plenty of more poignant and fitting examples of tyranny than (again) Hitler and Stalin, and he didn't address Marxism or Socialism at all (other than socialists fought Hitler - so Obama can't be both fascist and socialist).

I'm completely in agreement that there's a whole lot of ignorance among Tea Partiers about what those words mean. But I think simple definitions would have made a much better explanation of how they're being misapplied than this attempt to show off his superior understanding of . . . whatever it is he understands.

Is there really any reason this couldn't have gone into one of the eight or so still open Tea Party threads?
posted by Dojie at 2:58 PM on April 26, 2010


I'm not entirely convinced that he knows what those words mean either.

Really? Did you look at the Wikipedia link about Rosenbaum? Especially:

Rosenbaum spent more than ten years doing research on Adolf Hitler including travels to Vienna, Munich, London, Paris, London, and Jerusalem, interviewing leading historians, philosophers, biographers, theologians and psychologists. Some of those interviewed by Rosenbaum included Daniel Goldhagen, David Irving, Rudolph Binion, Claude Lanzmann, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Alan Bullock, Christopher Browning, George Steiner, and Yehuda Bauer. The result was his 1998 book, Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil (Harper Collins. ISBN 0-679-43151-9).

As for me, when the people you are criticizing are comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler and the German Socialists who fought the Nazis, the historic points he is making seem pretty darn apropos.

I have to say that for me, theinaccuracy of the Tea Party rhetoric about the American revolutionary period grates even more, but I'm not prepared to say Rosenbaum isn't an expert on the fascism he is talking about.
posted by bearwife at 3:07 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


After reading a bit on von Papen, referred to by Rosenbaum in his article, it occurs to me that all the Tea Party needs now is a strong leader for events to get truly out of hand. So far they don't have anyone power hungry enough with adequate smarts leading the charge, and Glenn Beck is making way too much money to give it up for a political job. But if such a leader comes along, it seems like this country may be genuinely threatened at that point.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:10 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"single link" does not mean what you think it means.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:13 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wanted to read this, I really did, but the opening graf made me want to chew my own teeth off. The first sentence is 'I am a great believer in used-bookstore serendipity.' What is this--an article on the tea party or a personal essay about two Smith undergrads bumping into each other between the photography and self help sections and then realizing that they share an interest in chai lattes? The rest of the graf doesn't get much better and so I would rather waste my time writing snarky comments on the blue than reading the rest of the article.
Fair enough. This is a Ron Rosenbaum article. Just imagine that this, like anything else written by the esteemed Mr Rosenbaum, had an invisible first first paragraph. It would go something like this:
"Hello, my name is Ron Rosenbaum, and I am kind of a narcissist. You understand that everything is ultimately about me. What follows is a more or less endearing piece of pseudo-scholarly dilettantism in which I (over)-compensate for dropping out of my PhD program at Yale all those years ago. But since I am a bitchy, compulsive gossip, what follows will probably be at least fitfully entertaining. Bye!"
If you think this is bad, try reading Explaining Hitler, or worse, The Shakespeare Wars, which is essentially just 300+ pages of gossip about Florida State professor Gary Taylor, interspersed with Rosenbaum pretending to care about the state of contemporary textual criticism and waxing lyrical about Shakespeare Survey. Why he gets published, I don't know. But it can be fun.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:14 PM on April 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


By the time of my serendipitous used-bookstore discovery—more on which in a moment—I was already troubled by the Obama/Hitler/socialist/fascist comparisons. But it was the ignorant trivialization of the Holocaust—the identification of Hitler as a "socialist"—that really got to me.
...
Few paid attention, but they got to the truth. And they were Socialists fighting the Nazis, you might recall. Listen up, T.P.ers: The Nazis were not Socialists. The Socialists were not Nazis. They were blood enemies. In fact, the Socialists fought the Nazis, while conservatives and nationalists stood by and thought Hitler would be their pawn. Hitler, need it be said, was not a Socialist. He hated the Socialists. Had thousands of them murdered as soon as he came to power.


I usually really like Rosenbaum's stuff, but Jonah Goldberg is right when he points out that this argument has a pretty hand-wavey move in it. He makes a key shift... from "socialist" to "Socialist".
posted by Jahaza at 3:16 PM on April 26, 2010


As for me, when the people you are criticizing are comparing Obama to Adolf Hitler and the German Socialists who fought the Nazis, the historic points he is making seem pretty darn apropos.

But people aren't comparing him to Hitler and the German Socialists who fought the Nazis . . . they're comparing him to Hitler and "socialists." He makes a great case for the ridiculousness of the former. But he doesn't seem to consider that Tea Partiers are not talking about those specific Socialists from that specific time frame. They're talking about the big scary bogeyman of socialized this and socialized that, which has very little to do with Germany in the 30s and more to do with a fear that the guvmint is gonna take what's mine and give it away.

Rosenbaum may well be an expert on Hitler (no, I didn't read the Wikipedia link - I'm not interested in his credentials), but he seems to have blinders on about the wide history of the terms he lists outside of Hitler and Stalin.
posted by Dojie at 3:38 PM on April 26, 2010


Jonah Goldberg is right when he points out that this argument has a pretty hand-wavey move in it

Did you read Goldberg's piece critically? Talk about hand-wavey: You know who else fought — and killed — socialists? Stalin, Mao and a host of other socialist dictators.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:41 PM on April 26, 2010


Good article. As I said before.
posted by Artw at 3:54 PM on April 26, 2010


it occurs to me that all the Tea Party needs now is a strong leader for events to get truly out of hand.

This is what I have been thinking about. There are a lot of angry, confused voters out there who don't have the vocabulary to express what they are feeling so they fall back on words and phrases that equate with bad/evil in their minds. The question is, why are they so angry?

I wonder if we as a nation have become too focused on national news and politics? We only elect one guy to preside over 300 million people, so it stands to reason that there will always be millions of people who aren't satisfied with that choice. Perhaps those who are feeling as if their votes don't count or their voices are not being heard would get more satisfaction on a local level, yet there is less interest in city or state politics and more focus on Washington DC as local newspapers and TV stations fall by the wayside while Fox News pounds the drum of discord 24 hours a day.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:56 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I usually really like Rosenbaum's stuff, but Jonah Goldberg is right when he points out that this argument has a pretty hand-wavey move in it. He makes a key shift... from "socialist" to "Socialist".

You're aware that Jonah Goldberg's entire career over the last few years has been to try and spread the meme that American liberals are the intellectual heirs of Hitler, right?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:58 PM on April 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


The tea party's exaggerated importance - Part of the reason is the timeless truth in media that nothing succeeds like excess. But part of the reason is a convergence of incentives for journalists and activists on left and right alike to exaggerate both the influence and exotic traits of the tea-party movement. In fact, there is a word for what poll after poll depicts as a group of largely white, middle-class, middle-aged voters who are aggrieved: Republicans.
posted by Artw at 4:00 PM on April 26, 2010


The way the right uses "socialism," they don't seem to usually care about the distinction.

Further, they consider anything to the left to be socialism, when socialism (at least in my education) means extreme liberalism, slightly to the left of Europe and to the right of the USSR. Calling a small amount of reform "socialism" is like calling an 80 degree day hellishly hot because it was 70 degrees last week. It's technically true, but it's hyperbolic in spirit.
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:03 PM on April 26, 2010


I think the big issue is that nobody's been willing to sit down with the Tea Party and say "Dude, Google Godwin's Law." Until Obama starts rounding people up in camps, any comparison is daft (quiet, Alex Jones).
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:05 PM on April 26, 2010


Both concepts have plenty of history outside those two men.

But in no case is it sensible to equate "socialism" with Hitler, who was not a socialist by any stretch of the imagination. That's the point, and part of the TP foolishness the author is pointing out.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:07 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't get why there is some disconnect between the socialists (aka the party still known as the SPD) of the Hitler era and the "bogeyman" socialists many in the Tea Party claim to fear. We are talking, still, about people on the left side of the European spectrum, who favor government administration of services and support trade unions. That's who the Tea Party folks demonize, along with the further left folks of the communist persuasion. And it was the SPD and its members who were critical to the Weimar Republic government, who fought the Nazis, and who, with communists, were the very first to be sent to the concentration camps. The big reason for appeasement, too, was that Neville Chamberlain and his party thought that Hitler and his cronies were going to hold back the tide of socialism and communism.

I.e., it is absurd, in historic terms, to conflate Hitler and socialism.
posted by bearwife at 4:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Perhaps this is the best Tea Party open thread to post Jill Lepore's recent feature in the New Yorker, Who Owns the American Revolution?

"'All the government does is take my money and give it to other people,' Hess told me. Hess's own salary is paid by the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security."
posted by kirkaracha at 4:19 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, at least it's not another GaGa post.
posted by ovvl at 4:23 PM on April 26, 2010


homunculus: "46Yes, the American Right really has gone insane"

The second video on that page is a good example of how many (most?) Tea Party demonstrators are angry AND confused AND misinformed. For example, when asked "What should we do with the illegal immigrants who are all ready in this country?" the responses they suggested would all require larger government: more people to 'close the borders,' more people to round up the illegals, more detention centers, more hospitals and personnel to check for communicable diseases, yet the number one TP priority is to shrink-- or even do away with entirely-- the federal government including the EPA, the IRS, and Social Security. If we got rid of the Federal government, who would deal with illegal immigration issues?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:36 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


What will you do for me to keep me from putting this on the FP, ovvl?
posted by mccarty.tim at 4:38 PM on April 26, 2010


Be interesting to see what their take on rounding people up and putting them in camps when immigration reform comes up.
posted by Artw at 4:52 PM on April 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


But in no case is it sensible to equate "socialism" with Hitler
it is absurd, in historic terms, to conflate Hitler and socialism.


There's a world of difference between saying "Hitler was a socialist," and saying "Obama is like Hitler and he's also a socialist." Rosenbaum refutes the first statement. But since the second is something one might actually hear from a Tea Partier, I'd be much more interested in an article that addresses that. Rosenbaum in no way explains why the actual real-life "New Face of Hitler" or "NO COMMIE $OCIALI$M" signs pictured in the article are historically wrong. Instead he addresses the imaginary T.P.ers who "had major, life-changing, "aha!" moments when they first learned that Hitler's party was the National SOCIALIST German Workers Party."

There's no meat here - just more of the same "Tea Partiers are morons, amirite?" that's already been pretty thoroughly covered on the blue.
posted by Dojie at 4:58 PM on April 26, 2010


I'm pretty sure the "No Commie $OCIALI$M" was a protest against Nancy Pelosi's socialist reforms for Ke$ha and Lady Gaga.

/wonkroll
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:15 PM on April 26, 2010


Perhaps those who are feeling as if their votes don't count or their voices are not being heard would get more satisfaction on a local level, yet there is less interest in city or state politics and more focus on Washington DC as local newspapers and TV stations fall by the wayside while Fox News pounds the drum of discord 24 hours a day.

I am actively involved in my local government.
It's exceedingly difficult to get people to take an interest in things that actually affect their day to day lives, more than I think it should really be.

Part of it is, as you say, a predominant focus in the media on national issues, but some of it is because local issues can be so damn boring.
It's much more ..enlivening to rant about the death tax or birth certificates than it is to spend 5 or 6 hours discussing infill or zoning overlays.
They're just hard to get excited about.
posted by madajb at 5:27 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy: among the many, many things which frustrate me about the Teabaggers is that, well, you're right. 300 Million People is too many to be ruled by one person effectively, and part of what the (more coherent) members want is greater state control over issues. Of course, they also want that state control to send things back to the middle ages, but there's a legitimate question to be raised about the need for greater local representation on important issues. I bitterly recall from the Bush Years how I felt like I was holding my breath the entire time until the ship got righted again. I imagine that's how the teabaggers feel now. Unrepresented.

In a way this is all horseshit, of course - they've got representation, but all their guys can do is stonewall right now. Also, greater local control, in a way, just localizes the problem more. Having spent some time as a liberal in Northeast Oklahoma, I can tell you that there are a lot of us there, just not nearly enough to not be railroaded on our interests even at the local level. Every state is really purple these days, and people will always be left out.

Furthermore, we're at a point where federal regulation is really and truly so necessary as to be a non-issue. Lives are at stake, and we've already moved into making inroads on global regulation. It's just got to be done. But that doesn't mean that it won't sting when it's not your candidate wielding that much power.

Take Islamic extremists - by and large these are people who know enough to feel powerless against the forces of the West, which they vehemently disagree with. So take a powerful guy like bin Laden, who knows how to speak to them and organize them and mobilize them, and suddenly you've got a powerful group of powerless individuals exercising their collective agency in horrible ways. And feeling completely justified in doing so.

The same is, Godwin aside, obviously true of the Nazis. Take a people feeling flattened by the failure of WWI, take a powerful and charismatic leader, and point them at the group that the leader says is to blame. Or the South after reconstruction - same thing leading to the KKK.

If modern history teaches us anything it is that few things are more dangerous than a sect who sees themselves as powerless falling under the control of a leader who knows how to manipulate them. For the teabaggers, it is Glenn Beck, which is bad enough, but it could get much worse very quickly.

I don't know the solution, because I'd rather the teabaggers have no power to move their misinformed agenda at all, but lack of power makes them easier to mobilize and manipulate, so I'm pretty sure that mocking them and dismissing them isn't the answer.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:35 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, somebody really needs to write a first-hand account of Al Franken and Victoria Jackson working on SNL together.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:06 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


“The question is, why are they so angry?”
There’s plenty going on in the U.S. to be angry about. The wealth disparity, predatory lending and foreclosures, war, torture, unemployment, loss of infrastructure, government corruption and inefficiency, education, health care (whether one likes the change or not there is a great deal of uncertainty there), wages being so depressed in proportion to inflation, the crazy machinations with credit ,etc etc.
Lots of folks feel there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that they have no power or influence over.
And I think more people should be passionate about politics and involved in their system. People have different needs and different opinions. But mostly they’re angry because they’re scared. It's fear that drives most of this.
And they don’t trust their leaders who have mostly proven to be untrustworthy and beholden to corporate and other moneyed interests to help them.
They don’t trust their neighbors either, because they seem apathetic and unwilling to do anything.
They don’t trust the loyal opposition because the opposition is no longer loyal and the opposition itself is spiteful and done by rote and not from genuine interest to achieve any real goal or common understanding.
Meanwhile the airwaves are mostly controlled by those interests through advertising so a great deal of disinformation is spread in order to further an agenda.

Fear and anger usually derives a focus rather than the other way around. Racism might seem like there’s some root there (and granted, it’s a learned trait) but typically the emotions, hate, frustration, etc., are there looking for something to glom onto.
Couple that with good old fashioned Glen Beck rabble rousing and it can get volatile.

But I don’t see any reason not to be pissed off generally. I think a lot of people might not want to admit they got hosed by the previous administration. Very few people like to admit they’re wrong. On the other hand, many tea partiers aren’t too happy with the GOP either.

But then, generally, few people look to communicate in any meaningful way beyond asserting their point and are typically unwilling to be open to being changed by ideas. And the media can take it’s share of blame for that, in terms of constantly flameframing the issue. (Are you pissed off about Obama? Does he suck? – well, it’s more convoluted than tha… DOES OBAMA SUCK OR NOT!? Well, ok, yeah)

For a long time I thought this latter bit was because of inherent character flaws. Now though I think it’s because it’s easier to be angry and blame others instead of taking responsibility to go and do something about the problem.
And again – you’ve got the Palin/Beck/O’Reily types telling folks ‘ yeah, you’re right, it’s this guy or that guy that’s the problem. Just be pissed off at them instead of thinking critically and assessing the situation and finding systemic fixes for these problems and you won’t get pissed on anymore!’
And movements tend to look for leaders.
Look at McCarthy. What a disreputable tomato can that guy was. Faked his service record, said American troops had tortured German soldiers (without proof), hit the booze all the time - people said from the outset his communist witch hunt was b.s., but people were scared and they still followed him. For a bit.
Not a lot you can do with someone in that situation. I sympathize but it doesn't mean I'm not going to oppose what I think is wrong. Tactically it's better to reach behind what ever is driving it and pull the plug.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:06 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


But in no case is it sensible to equate "socialism" with Hitler, who was not a socialist by any stretch of the imagination.

I think this is really quite misleading (and that Rosenbaum is wrong on the point). Hitler was indeed a socialist: he believed (and practiced) a kind of collectivism and statism that were the hallmarks of all socialist thought after the "utopian" socialists of the early/mid-nineteenth century (they were really anarchists of a sort). What he hated (and tried to destroy) was international socialism, the kind that Marx theorized and Lenin/Stalin tried to realize. He hated it because its proponents wanted to destroy the thing he loved most: the nation, and particularly the German nation.

This interpretation (I would call it a "fact") can be found in any credible Western Civ textbook.
posted by MarshallPoe at 6:18 PM on April 26, 2010


There's a world of difference between saying "Hitler was a socialist," and saying "Obama is like Hitler and he's also a socialist." Rosenbaum refutes the first statement. But since the second is something one might actually hear from a Tea Partier, I'd be much more interested in an article that addresses that.

But how can one be like Hitler and also be a socialist? What exactly is the overlapping set of characteristics shared by Hitler and socialists? This seems to be a diminishingly small set. Maybe if you think socialism is a terrible evil, they're both bad I guess, but that doesn't carry a lot of descriptive power. You might as well say Obama is like Hitler and Freddy Krueger.

Instead he addresses the imaginary T.P.ers who "had major, life-changing, "aha!" moments when they first learned that Hitler's party was the National SOCIALIST German Workers Party."

Sadly, this describes my coworker. When I made a joke that he's a Nazi, he responded (seriously, I think) "No, I'm not a SOCIALIST!"
posted by me & my monkey at 6:20 PM on April 26, 2010


Hitler was indeed a socialist: he believed (and practiced) a kind of collectivism and statism that were the hallmarks of all socialist thought after the "utopian" socialists of the early/mid-nineteenth century (they were really anarchists of a sort).

What industries did he nationalize? Both fascism and socialism blur the lines between state and society, but they do so in different ways.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:22 PM on April 26, 2010


Hitler was indeed a socialist: he believed (and practiced) a kind of collectivism and statism that were the hallmarks of all socialist thought after the "utopian" socialists of the early/mid-nineteenth century (they were really anarchists of a sort).

Ah, I was wondering how you guys were going to shoe-horn Hitler, Stalin, and brick-throwing anarchists all into the left wing of the political spectrum.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:41 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Did you read Goldberg's piece critically? Talk about hand-wavey: You know who else fought — and killed — socialists? Stalin, Mao and a host of other socialist dictators.

You deny that this is true? Regardless, Goldberg can be right about one thing and wrong about others.

You're aware that Jonah Goldberg's entire career over the last few years has been to try and spread the meme that American liberals are the intellectual heirs of Hitler, right?

Yeah, and even if I wasn't, it's mentioned in the Rosenbaum article. That's part of what makes his response interesting.

And actually, while I haven't read his book, from reading some of his writing about his book, he seems to be more equating American liberals with Benito Mussolini. But it's Hitler and the stache on the smiley face that grab the headlines.

Wikipedia has a useful section on Nazism and Anti-capitalism.
posted by Jahaza at 7:11 PM on April 26, 2010


Being anti-capitalist doesn't make you left.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:17 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Attempting to establish, or demanding evidence of, a 1:1 correspondence between economic, political, and racial/social conditions in Weimar Germany and early 21st century USA is about as silly as pissing on a spark plug, and just as likely to start one's motor.
posted by Mister_A at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


But how can one be like Hitler and also be a socialist? What exactly is the overlapping set of characteristics shared by Hitler and socialists? This seems to be a diminishingly small set. Maybe if you think socialism is a terrible evil, they're both bad I guess, but that doesn't carry a lot of descriptive power. You might as well say Obama is like Hitler and Freddy Krueger.

No, it's more like saying Obama is like Freddy Krueger and is also a socialist. Or like saying he's like Hitler and also a bad driver. Like Freddy, Hitler is not best known for his economic policies (or driving skills). I don't personally get what would motivate someone to carry a sign with Barack Obama (or Bush back in the day) made up to look like Hitler. Most likely, it's because Hitler is just an iconic symbol of an evil head-of-state rather than because of any actual similarities. But I guarantee there are not many people on this planet who would respond to the name, Adolph Hitler with, "Isn't he the guy that introduced compulsory labor service and profit controls in Germany back in the '30s?" So, no, Hitleresque does not equal socialist, but the two are not mutually exclusive.

What you and Mr. Rosenbaum are missing is that the Tea Party signs are not about Hitler and socialists. They are about Obama and Hitler . . . and Obama and socialists.
posted by Dojie at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Early Nazi rhetoric included anti-capitalism, especially anti-finance capitalism. In attacking the ills of Weimar democracy, Adolf Hitler spoke of a “pluto-democracy” Jewish conspiracy that favoured liberal democratic parties in order to maintain the integrity of capitalism. Throughout his political campaigning, Hitler emphasized the background role of Jewish financiers in the ills of Weimar democracy. In opposing finance capitalism, the Nazis emphasized a supposed "Jewish conspiracy" of bankers who controlled international finance, and thus the countries of the world. Furthermore, a leftist faction of the Nazis attacked the corporation as the leading instrument of finance capitalism’s oppression of the worker (later, the faction was purged from the party).

You know who else has recently started spouting vaguely conspiracy tinged stuff about an ill defined threat od "corpratism" that leans over into bakers conspiracy like territory... so I suppose they're socialists now.
posted by Artw at 7:29 PM on April 26, 2010


Being anti-capitalist doesn't make you left.

And your point is? I didn't say it did.
posted by Jahaza at 7:30 PM on April 26, 2010


When I see "graf," I just think of zeppelins. Ooooh.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 7:35 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Tea Party: rage, rage against the dying of the white.

Having sold their birthright for a pot of message, the Tea Partiers are now trying to spin the straw of buyer's remorse into political gold. It would be funny if there weren't a 24/7 right-wing propaganda channel amplifying the lies and selling it to gullible idiots.

But you hafta hand it to the GOP: hoodwinking white people of modest means into voting against their own best interests (for two generations now!) is masterful politicking. It's easier in an environment of active anti-intellectualism and the denigration of curiosity, sure, but still: somewhere Machiavelli claps appreciatively.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:52 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree with Bitter Old Punk – this is the end of an era, the death of the failed ideology of Reagan and his heirs. The party's over and this is the chick or dude you've been dancing with for the last 30 years.
posted by Mister_A at 8:06 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Hitler was indeed a socialist: he believed (and practiced) a kind of collectivism and statism that were the hallmarks of all socialist thought after the "utopian" socialists of the early/mid-nineteenth century (they were really anarchists of a sort)."

Well, no. Hitler was a statist, but "national socialism" was not socialism; it was fascism. And it was only tangentially an outgrowth of utopian philosophy of the 1800s, and they were anarchists of precisely no sort.

"National" modifies "socialism" like "people's" modifies "republic." States that call themselves "people's republic" are not "republics" except in the most obtuse reading. Hitler's "collectivism" was far more similar to fascism's corporatism than any collectivist movement.

The obnoxious part about this is that it's essentially ad hominem reasoning where because two bad things are similar anything else similar to them must also be bad. It's as reasoned as yelling "Hitler was a vegetarian!"

"This interpretation (I would call it a "fact") can be found in any credible Western Civ textbook."

Once again, Texas fucks the rest of us.
posted by klangklangston at 8:12 PM on April 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


Malor wrote: "(Of course, that was before we nationalized FNM, FRE, and AIG, so at this point, he's getting into the same league of taking on liabilities we can't pay for, but that won't blow up until some later President's term.)"

Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so much worse off than the commercial banks. They book more loss reserves and have a lower loss rate than the commercial banks, so they must be doing something wrong!

Dojie wrote: "There's no meat here"

Other than the history lesson that is the point of the article...

Smedleyman wrote: "”There’s plenty going on in the U.S. to be angry about. The wealth disparity, predatory lending and foreclosures, war, torture, unemployment, loss of infrastructure, government corruption and inefficiency, education, health care (whether one likes the change or not there is a great deal of uncertainty there), wages being so depressed in proportion to inflation, the crazy machinations with credit ,etc etc. "

This is exactly what the Tea Partiers are on about, but they don't see that their proposed "reforms" only worsen the problems they complain about.
posted by wierdo at 8:14 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


As to Hitler being anti-capitalism, he was anti-capitalism in the exact same way that Tea Baggers are anti-capitalism, in opposing vague banking threats while still expounding the patriotic virtue of Aryan businessmen.
posted by klangklangston at 8:14 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


They were really anarchists of a sort should win some kind of prise for upping the level of silliness though.
posted by Artw at 8:15 PM on April 26, 2010


As to Hitler being anti-capitalism, he was anti-capitalism in the exact same way that Tea Baggers are anti-capitalism, in opposing vague banking threats while still expounding the patriotic virtue of Aryan businessmen.

I would only suggest that you look at Hitler's speeches, especially those in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Goebbel's speeches are even more full of pro-socialist and anti-capitalist language. You might also look at the way Hitler imposed state-control on nearly every enterprise in Germany after he came to power. And then there were "Four-Year Plans," the national-labor service, price controls, universal "free" welfare programs (for Germans), etc., etc. Private property was preserved, but just what "private" could mean in such a circumstance is hard to understand.

They were really anarchists of a sort should win some kind of prise for upping the level of silliness though.

Except many of the utopian socialists would be called anarchists today insofar as they were trying to design purely voluntary societies without central authority. Proudon, who was nothing if not a socialist, called himself an "anarchist."
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:42 PM on April 26, 2010


Yeah, if there's one thing the Nazis were known for it was their voluntary societiy without central authority.
posted by Artw at 9:06 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You might also look at the way Hitler imposed state-control on nearly every enterprise in Germany after he came to power. "

State control does not make something socialist, especially when you look at how Hitler imposed "state control"—he allowed corporations to retain private ownership while directing the object of their production. You might as well argue that England of 1776 was socialist because it had extensive state control of corporations. Looking at "the way" that Hitler imposed state control makes explicit the differences between socialism and fascism; looking simply at the fact that he did is facile.

"I would only suggest that you look at Hitler's speeches, especially those in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Goebbel's speeches are even more full of pro-socialist and anti-capitalist language."

Again, only in the vaguest terms were they anti-capitalism, versus anti-banker, anti-investment, anti-Semetic, anti-modern (another key difference between socialism as an ideology and fascism).

"Proudon, who was nothing if not a socialist, called himself an "anarchist.""

In socialism, the issue of who owns the means of production is inherent; Proudhon didn't believe that anyone could own it, as he didn't believe in property. Proudhon is a socialist like Mill is a libertarian.
posted by klangklangston at 9:13 PM on April 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


BitterOldPunk: But you hafta hand it to the GOP: hoodwinking white people of modest means into voting against their own best interests (for two generations now!) is masterful politicking.

That sentence actually contains a lot of what's splintering America, although perhaps not in the way you expect. Your fundamental expectation is that "I should vote for what's best for ME" instead of trying to vote for what's best for the nation as a whole.

That shift away from "us, and our collective future", to "me me me me now now now now" is corroding absolutely everything.

Those people are probably perfectly aware that they're sacrificing on a personal level to try to build a better system. They're trying to protect a system that allows talented and intelligent people to prosper, because a rising tide lifts all boats. You can believe that this is a good idea while being perfectly aware that you, yourself, are not one of the talented citizens.

Don't mock these people; they're far more adult and responsible than anyone who thinks one should vote only for one's own benefit.

If citizens purely vote their own interests, you don't have a nation, you have a mob.
posted by Malor at 1:48 AM on April 27, 2010


Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are so much worse off than the commercial banks. They book more loss reserves and have a lower loss rate than the commercial banks, so they must be doing something wrong!

How about the fact that they should not exist anymore? They engaged in reckless and stupid lending, borrowing short and lending long. They blew up in 2008, and should be gone, gone, gone. Instead, we've propped up that bad business model. The government, the government, has become the primary source of funds for mortgages, the primary insurer OF the mortages, and the regulator of that market. All the risk of the mortgage market is now on government shoulders, while almost all the profit is going to private hands. This is a bonanza strike for speculators; they can lend freely and reap the profits, while relying on the government to cover all risk. This will be a wealth transfer from the public treasury to the financial system that will make Halliburton's war profiteers green with envy.

What happened in 2008 was the truth peeking through; we've deployed unbelievable amounts of resources to hide that truth and try to maintain business as usual. We took on more than ten trillion dollars in liabilities, in the middle of the biggest crisis since the Great Depression, to not change anything. All the problems are still there, simmering, and getting larger. And it WILL blow up again. It may take a number of years yet, but we fundamentally cannot keep issuing debt at this rate.

At the core, we have a gigantic debt problem; we've collectively taken on far too much, and w're addicted to the new issuance of debt. We need to stop taking it on and pay it down, and simply switching to net-positive economic output, after decades of conspicuous consumption, will be incredibly wrenching and painful.

So, facing this mountain of debt, with strong signals that there wasn't enough wealth to pay it back, what was our systemic answer? Taking on more debt, and transferring it to the government's books, where it never goes away and can't be reneged on without terrible, terrible national consequences. To avoid losing a foot today, we promised a leg in a few years.

What will we do when they come for the leg?
posted by Malor at 2:14 AM on April 27, 2010


Don't mock these people; they're far more adult and responsible than anyone who thinks one should vote only for one's own benefit.

If citizens purely vote their own interests, you don't have a nation, you have a mob.


What you say is true.

However, this is all the sadder: it means that many people are having their best interests turned against them.

The wealthy groups that are gaining from this situation are often not people of social conscience. What they are doing is not benefiting society as a whole. The rising tide, it turns out, does not lift all boats.

I don't think people get frustrated with working and middle class people who wind up voting or acting against their own interests because they see these voters as too selfless. They aren't animated by some twisted hippie ideal that people should be selfish all the time, as a matter of principle.

I think it's because there is something in us that rebels at the sight of someone sacrificing themselves to benefit somebody undeserving.

Furthermore, it is a false dichotomy to split decisions up into "selfless" (good) and "selfish" (bad). [I realise that you talked about people who voted "only" for their self interest, so I'm not suggesting you subscribe to this.]

I think it's possible - and sometimes the best idea - to make decisions that are rational and selfish. This tends to be the case when you are thinking in the long term. And you give a very good example of that, with regard to banking regulation, in your very next post.
posted by lucien_reeve at 3:25 AM on April 27, 2010


"That sentence actually contains a lot of what's splintering America, although perhaps not in the way you expect. Your fundamental expectation is that "I should vote for what's best for ME" instead of trying to vote for what's best for the nation as a whole."

This is nonsense. Look, I am on the socialist side of things, and I get you regarding the tension between the individual and the group, but the American system is explicitly predicated upon the assumption that everyone acting in their own interests is a feature, not a bug. Further, for someone who pounds the drum all the time about markets, that's how markets function—people making transactions which benefit them.

"That shift away from "us, and our collective future", to "me me me me now now now now" is corroding absolutely everything."

This statement is of the type that's corroding everything: It makes a bold claim that's entirely tautological and can be applied to whatever interpretation the listener wants. Right, so emphasis on the individual is corroding everything—so you endorse universal health care at the expense of more taxes. You endorse centralized banking as the best way to guide our financial future. You think that people are poor judges of their economic destinies, so you're all for wage controls and materials price controls.

"Those people are probably perfectly aware that they're sacrificing on a personal level to try to build a better system. They're trying to protect a system that allows talented and intelligent people to prosper, because a rising tide lifts all boats. You can believe that this is a good idea while being perfectly aware that you, yourself, are not one of the talented citizens."

This is also nonsense, especially in the context of the Tea Baggers. They're advocating policies that explicitly do not lift all boats, but rather exacerbate the inequality of boats to their own detriment. And no, they don't realize they're sacrificing personally to build a better system—they also don't realize that they're better off now under Obama. The majority of Tea Baggers think their taxes have gone up when they've actually gone down.

These are magical lottery thinkers, people who assume that because they believe themselves to be talented and intelligent, they will be rich soon. They don't realize that they're actively working against their own interests in that very sphere.

So knock off the talking points, this isn't Fox.
posted by klangklangston at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are Tea Partiers Racist?
A new survey by the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality offers fresh insight into the racial attitudes of Tea Party sympathizers. "The data suggests that people who are Tea Party supporters have a higher probability"—25 percent, to be exact—"of being racially resentful than those who are not Tea Party supporters," says Christopher Parker, who directed the study. "The Tea Party is not just about politics and size of government. The data suggests it may also be about race."
posted by MythMaker at 8:43 AM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Malor, much of what you say is true. Except the part about Fannie and Freddie. They were among the more responsible lenders; they were brought down by a marketplace full of far, far worse lending. They would have been fine if the real estate market didn't get overheated and crash due to the practically free money being handed out by the other guys.
posted by gjc at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2010


However, this is all the sadder: it means that many people are having their best interests turned against them.

Gah. I meant "best impulses".
posted by lucien_reeve at 9:26 AM on April 27, 2010


I appreciate this article, but I agree it's only scratching the surface at what's wrong with the Tea Party interpretation of history, in which Obama, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, the Russian Czars and probably Megatron are all rolled up into one historical fascist-socialist-communist-liberal supervillain who can only be defeated by lowering the marginal tax rate on the upper class. What's especially interesting to me about that, besides the fact that the bad guys they identify were themselves each others' mortal enemies, is that the Tea Party doesn't seem to have any social agenda to offer up in contrast. I mean, I understand that teabaggers are against taxes, but was it really Hitler's economic policies that he was known for? Besides taxes and maybe ending the Fed, what is the Tea Party's policy platform? How do they feel, say, about the role of the military? What about immigration reform? Education? Law enforcement? Foreign policy?

I don't know, but I'm eager to find out. It's just a hunch at the moment, but I'm willing to bet the entirety of the tax cut I received this year (thanks, Mr. President!) that, with respect to any issue other than taxes, the predominant Tea Party agenda will tend towards the textbook (ok, wikipedia, in this case) definition of fascism:
Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus rejects individualism. In viewing the nation as an integrated collective community, they claim that pluralism is a dysfunctional aspect of society, and justify a totalitarian state as a means to represent the nation in its entirety. They advocate the creation of a single-party state. Fascist governments forbid and suppress openness and opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement. They identify violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality.
Sound familiar?
posted by albrecht at 10:17 AM on April 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


“But how can one be like Hitler and also be a socialist? What exactly is the overlapping set of characteristics shared by Hitler and socialists?”

The Tea Partiers are essentially just a mass of emotional energy looking for a focus. They’re rational in terms of what they’re angry about – that is – they can give specifics from their perspective (lost my job, my kid is sick and can’t get any health care, the road is busting up my car, etc) but tend to lose it in extension because there’s a disconnect and lack of information on specifics as to remedy the problem. Which is the bigger problem.

(Good example – 9/11 conspiracy folks. First thing many people are going to think when they read that is the cruise missile aimed at the Pentagon or drone planes or pre-set explosives in the towers, etc.
But think about the fact that a such a powerful event occurred – in the face of longstanding massive military power to which the litany has always been that it’s worth giving tax resources to – and what? No one got fired. Censured. There was no real resolution. So some of the more bizarre elements of the facts of the conspiracy theories aside – the crucial bit is, there’s no accountability, no information on how to stop it from happening again, and the same litany is being repeated (more taxes for defense) despite it not working to prevent 9/11 in the first place.)

So the fear – whatever form it takes in language – is grounded in that blackness of ignorance forced on us by the powers that be. Hell, I don’t know what really happened because the official story is so facile, there’s no semblance of accountability and the entire process was fairly opaque (indeed, the 9/11 commission chair and vice chair (Kean and Hamilton) said in their book they were set up to fail – they were repeatedly lied to by senior officials and didn’t get enough funding to do a decent investigation in the first place – etc)

So too – the Tea Partier proposals are predicated on a kind of institutionally enforced ignorance.
Which, indeed, is something everyone should be angry about. Not the proposals, but the fact that there’s nothing to work with.

I think that’s been one of the Obama administration's big failings, but it’s been a failure from the Dems and Congress as well, to really get at the truth of what happened last administration. One can debate that this might do more harm than good (I dunno, but I'm with William Murray: Fiat justitia ruat caelum). But what is certain is that there will remain a lack of trust and a kind of institutionally enforced ignorance in American politics for some time because we didn’t pursue this path.
Tea Partiers are a symptom of that. And there are others.

And too – the history lesson here isn’t regarding the terms – that is Obama/Hitler and the socialist thing. The history lesson is that the reaction is the same regarding Nazi propaganda.
Lemme pause here – I think some people are doing the Obama/Hitler thing because other people did the Bush/Hitler thing. While those two things seem opposed, they’re both rooted in the same thing.

Which is that if the government (or whatever authority) refuses to adhere to an objective reality then any opposition likely feels that it too is not bound by objectivity.
This is incredibly dangerous. And indeed something I mentioned when opposing Bush (other than advocating FedExing him big hunks of feces).

And it’s something Rosenbaum alludes to but (apparently) doesn’t express clearly enough. (He uses a lot of hyperbole and digressions and trips over his own feet in getting to the point – but hell, I do that myself oftimes)
Given strong enough motivational forces - Truth is purposefully obfuscated when it is politically expedient. And Truth is being destroyed here.
In part this is social conformity, and I’ve written about adherence to social/religious/political perspective as an element of personal identity, but there are other forces at work.

In essence: If what YOU say doesn’t matter – then what WE say doesn’t matter. ‘You’ being authority, political opposition, the government, or whatever.
Orwell wrote about this obviously, but he did borrow from the Nazi ethos – it is not merely that objective truth doesn’t exist, but that subjective experience is sublimated into the (held as more valid) party collective.

But (as Huxley imagined), they don’t need to threaten you with death, a kind of implicit excommunication is enough (and that was a true terror in the past) and indeed – (again, with Orwell) what is terrifying is that perhaps they’re correct. It is natural for some folks to think so since so much of our life is dominated by symbolism and analogy that we live and interact mostly in metaphor as it is (from the internet to the U.S. dollar – which is based on, what? Nothing. A word. Faith, at best).

So it’s very easy to mistake this as rustic, crude thinking on the part of the users, but Joe Peasant who lived in terror of being excommunicated by the church lest he lose his immortal soul understood he was connected to, and at the mercy of, a very sophisticated system of symbol which demanded his adherence to a certain kind of identity. The practitioners were very sophisticated in their understanding of what constituted merit within this system.

Indeed, the loud shouters are at the bottom of this hierarchy, and know they are, hence the shouting and desire for attention and fanatic, almost crazed displays of loyalty to the core ideas (or opposition to those who oppose them ‘Kill the communists!’) and the display of willingness to disregard external reality.

Wikipedia has some nifty quotes from Orwell (and Goering) on 2+2=5, but there’s an excellent speech by Goering which illustrates this better:
“For one of the most important points in the program of National Socialism is the due recognition of the worker and the peasant and of their labor. The scope no longer is individual profit but the joining of all individual forces for the benefit of the German racial community and the nation. It was the great and powerful work of our Fuehrer, which was built up in the pre-war days, after his coming to power. To realize this work he had waged a unique war, beginning with his own person and his seven companions and ending up with hundreds of thousands and millions, who enrolled under his banner to fight for the creation of a racial community, and this racial community we now have. It constitutes our greatest happiness, but also our greatest strength:-our greatest happiness because we feel confident in the thought that there are no longer individual professions, trades, classes, and cliques, but only one powerful cohesion within the frame of our German racial community, because we all feel as members of one great nation and because we see in each comrade a fellow enjoying the same rights as ourselves, because we know that we can go ahead only by sticking together, and because we know that, if it is thus decreed, we may go down together.”

Hopefully it’s clear what he’s doing there and how close it is to the current rhetoric in American politics. The racism, all that, are just tools to deliver the “powerful cohesion” that limits the scope of one’s thinking to within the parameters set by the party (or group, movement, etc).

So when Rosenbaum says the Tea Party’s take on history is toxic – he’s alluding to the same (if you’ll forgive the hackneyed expression) doublethink that made Nazi Germany possible – the same historical revisionism, yes, but more the demand for orthodoxy in refusal to accept external reality or the evidence of one’s own senses as meaningful.

Not that someone ragging on me for being a slacker and refusing to acknowledge my ample military service, wounds, and medals are valid is going to understand all that. But y’know, just because all someone is going to understand is a boot to the head, doesn’t mean you have to deliver it.

We’ve survived worse. As long as men of good conscience and good will remain involved we can make it. And people like this – even in the worst case scenario yes they can do a lot of damage, but they will always lose. Precisely because they release themselves out of fear. Fanaticism can make one more dangerous, but not stronger. Someone of character in peace is someone who has courage in conflict. That’s based on the daily choices they make which grows habits that support good moral choices and the strength to do what's just.
That strength doesn’t just suddenly magically appear in a conflict just because you're pissed off.
And for the most part that’s what the exploiters of these kinds of things always forget. They build on a house of cards.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:43 AM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm still surprised so many people who have ever been employed by a medium-to-large corporation fail to realize that "Corporatism" IS a form of "Collectivism", the one difference being that the Bosses are specifically loyal to someone other (investors) than those they rule over (employees).

And when you realize how much of the Internet is built upon actions OTHER than Entrepreneurism, it's hard to hold onto any love for Capitalism. If you want MetaFilter (an enterprise based on decisions that never maximize profit) to turn into Microsoft, GET OUT.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think we should instead buy stock in insightful comments. We get rid of the favoriting mess, and people will make good comments as it is in their rational self interest.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:39 PM on April 27, 2010


Malor wrote: "How about the fact that they should not exist anymore?"

Only in the sense that the large retail banks and brokerage firms should also not exist. Your rhetoric is being co-opted by the right wing to try to make the case that commercial banks should take up the entirety of the housing market. I don't think that that's really best for us.

I fully agree with your general premise that blowing up another bubble is not the way to long term economic prosperity. I fail to see how preventing mass displacement is doing that, however. (Well, presuming we get decent regulation, otherwise the investment banks will continue to borrow at 0% and use the money to speculate in the market)

By "more debt," I guess you're referring to the bailouts, which were handled quite shamefully. After all, most of the money we'll never see again (as opposed to what we will probably be repaid) went into Goldman's pockets with AIG as the middle man. It seems corrupt on its face. That said, presuming real financial reform makes it through and we actually learn from what happened, the "more debt" shouldn't be an issue. I'm not yet convinced that my idealistic fantasies will come to pass, however.
posted by wierdo at 3:51 PM on April 27, 2010


He hated it because its proponents wanted to destroy the thing he loved most: the nation, and particularly the German nation.

But what you just described there, Marshall Poe, is not socialism, but classic republicanism--in simplified terms, the notion of free people working together for the advancement and glory of their republic, as in the Roman empire (which Hitler consciously evoked and saw his "Third Reich" as the historical continuation of) and other historical republics.

That's another one of the amazing historical ironies in all this. Modern American Republicans seem to have muddled up "socialism" with "republicanism" and reject the basic principles of both, despite in many cases self-identifying as Republicans.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hawaii tells birthers to fuck off.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on April 28, 2010




Charlie Crist is coming late to a three-way race, which is more important to why he won't get elected.
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 PM on April 28, 2010


Charlie Crist is coming late to a three-way race, which is more important to why he won't get elected.

He's been running all along.
posted by Jahaza at 6:13 PM on April 29, 2010








So... these guys are no longer fringe and are now the new official face of the Republican party then? uh oh...

Mark Williams, Tea Party Leader, Says Muslims Worship "Monkey God"
posted by Artw at 8:48 AM on May 20, 2010


That's hilarious. Williams subsequently apologized... to Hindus.
posted by brundlefly at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2010




Gingrich Publishes Book Arguing Obama Poses Hitler-Like Threat

That's rich. Accuse them of what you are.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:10 PM on May 20, 2010




(of course the flipside of that is that large numbers of Americans could actually turn out to be crazy and racist, and actually vote the teabaggers in)
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on May 20, 2010


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