Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ineluctable insanity?

Ed Kilgore thinks that even though the Republican establishment will no doubt dispose of risible malignant clown Donal Trump in due course, the hunger of Republican primary voters for a candidate worthy of their delusions is such that they will ultimately get one. Or I think that's what he's saying.

Wacko conspiracy theorists are certainly nothing new in the U.S.A. Joe McCarthy and the John Birch Society were right in the middle of things. Some commentators, such as Andrew Sullivan, who himself vacillates between reasonable Toryism and more than a touch of wackiness, sees equivalence between the current psychosis of the right and academic post-modernism of the late 20th Century, which claimed some vague leftishism.

I really don't see that. The PoMos were never politically influential or even relevant. They were college professors in vague disciplines like "cultural studies" and eclectic departments such as sociology and literature who spent all their time talking to each other in a language even they probably didn't understand. They had no definable political project, but only an amorphous aspiration that undermining the "hegemony" of rational empiricism would somehow be "liberatory" for somebody. About their only impact outside of the academy was to encourage quack medicine and New Age hucksterism.

What we're seeing today is quite different. It's obviously a substantial movement out there among real people, with a majority of Republicans telling pollsters they do not believe the president was born in the United States and large numbers of actual crazy people actually elected to the United States congress. And they have definite, concrete beliefs, such as Dearborn, Michigan, is under Sharia law; the socialist president is plotting a government takeover of Medicare; the best way to solve the unemployment crisis is to stop collecting income taxes from billionaires; and the earth is 6,000 years old. I really don't see any parallel in the history of the left or liberalism in this country.

What I do see, however, is not in fact a spontaneous epidemic of nuttiness. All of this crap was deliberately ginned up by political operatives in order to bamboozle people into voting against their own interests. It's just gotten a bit out of control, and now Donald Trump is the bamboozlers' Frankenstein monster. As ye sow . . .


robin andrea said...

I always thought of the deconstructionists as right-wingers. Not sure why, but it may have something to do with the influence of Paul de Man. I found them silly with absurd pomposity, using words to decry the absence of meaning of words. Jerks.

roger said...

"the socialist president is plotting a government takeover of Medicare..."

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