Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Conspiracy or Culture?

The Times had an interesting article today about the Tea Party movement, focusing on ordinary, previously non-political people who have become involved. Many are the kinds of people who used to tell me that I was paranoid. Well, as we used to say back in the sixties, "paranoia is heightened awareness."

Mind you, I suppose I should be at least somewhat pleased by the rapid growth of the idea that elite groups have undue control over our society and our lives. But, on the other hand, most of the details of Tea Party beliefs are dictated by mouthpieces for those same elite groups — Glen Beck, Sarah Palin, and similar faux-populists. (The persistent problem with populism is that people are such damned suckers for demagogy.)

The chief fear of those Tea Party foot soldiers is that their movement will be co-opted by the Republican Party. It's a rational fear, and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey is leading the charge. It may be that the Tea Party movement will have to choose between co-option and continued fragmentation — although a hostile takeover of the Republicans by Tea Party activists also is a possibility. Frankly, I look forward to that happening. It would leave the Republicans as fragmented as the Democrats.

So, I asked myself, why is it that the right can launch itself into a massive populist tizzy, while the left just sits around with its thumb up its ass?

The answer, of course, is the last election. Most people on the left — not me, regular "view from vicworld" readers may recall — believed we had "won," then were totally stunned when Obama and the Democrats let us down. Nascent populist groups like MoveOn.org were co-opted by the mainline Democrats very early in the election cycle. The innocents who actually bought the hype about "hope" and "change" are crushed, having seen neither.

It's kind of like the left is in a clinical depression, unable to get out of bed.

Is it really all a big conspiracy, as the Tea Parties believe, orchestrated by the Trilateral Commission, the Federal Reserve, and (as some of them doubtless believe) the Elders of Zion to boot? It's kind of fun to believe in conspiracy theories, of course, and when conspiracy theorists get together, they feed off each other.

Sorry, but its not a conspiracy. It's culture — the culture of the modern world. It makes as much sense to say that Italian men "conspire" to pinch women's asses as to say that the rich "conspire" to control the government by buying our esteemed political leaders. That's just the way it is.

And, as Marx correctly noted, if you kick out one pack of plutocrats, a new pack of plutocrats slips right into place. All the tea parties in the world won't change that.

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