Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Republican Party

I recently commented (elsewhere) that the Republican party is a Ménage à trois among racists, plutocrats and religious fanatics. On reflection, I left out an element, which is hard to define, or at least to name.

Let's call it ultra-nationalist anarchism. This overlaps to a considerable extent with the racists and religious fanatics, but it has a distinct -- and distinctly American -- flavor.

These are people who on the one hand consider themselves the only True Patriots, and who hold the idea of the United States in quasi-religious awe. They believe that the United States should dominate the planet and that it enjoys moral exceptionalism; that the U.S. is not bound by the norms and expectations of international behavior that apply to other nations, and that to criticize the U.S. for actions which U.S. officials routinely condemn in other nations is treasonous "moral relativism." They glorify the military and are cheerleaders for U.S. military action whenever some global actor annoys us.

On the other hand, they view government as inherently oppressive and the federal government in particular as fundamentally illegitimate. They have an unexamined assumption that government is the only entity that can constrain their freedom, apparently unaware of the ocean of private coercion in which they swim. The subculture of firearm worship is an essential component of this philosophy. With a gun, a man makes himself free, protects his own interest, without having to rely on the oppressive state.

I need hardly point out the multiple intersecting and cross-cutting contradictions in this world view. Its historical roots are evident in the bitter defeat of Southern slave culture and white racial resentment generally, the anarchistic conditions of the frontier and the continuing urban/rural divide, and Christian dominionism which delegitimizes the secular state. But it is a very dangerous combination because it includes all of the ingredients of fascism. 

The plutocrats, of course, merely exploit it to convince people to vote against their own interests. But that so many of them are willing to do so today is very worrisome.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a nice dialectical analysis of the film '1900' I got from a Vietnamese office mate over three decades ago. He showed me that the subtext of the movie was how the plutocrats of the era used the fascists to do their dirty work of keeping the masses down.
I think your analysis is spot on. Anyone who can build their identity on so many contradictions can be made to do anything as long as their orders are couched in the right language.
I am very afraid.