I'M not sure which it is. For one thing, I'm so old now that I've long-since dealt with the dealing with the middle-aged (for me) recognition that Freud was, if anything, a hopeless optimist (and that, whatever else was wrong with that 30-volume fairy tale he spent his life on, it wasn't the Theory that Zum Dickvads neffer git ofer ze potty training). The fact that a goodly proportion of people on any given bus would lie to you, outright and without the barest hope of surviving minimal scrutiny, and just for the exercise, I learned so long ago that I don't remember exactly which junior high school girl gave me my first lesson. And that, of course, is just the amateurs.
On the other hand, even the withered charlatan observer of today's Wal*Mart of Ideas has to ask himself whether these time-honored behaviors really have increased exponentially over the past three decades, as it appears, or whether this is just an artifact of not confining one's time and attention to the Sane, Rational, or the Mildly Interesting, coupled with the de-advancement of communications technology. And no, we do not mean "Mildly Interesting" as in "it's mildly interesting that a sniveling, talentless, careerist hack gets a prime spot on the Op-Ed page".
(Brooks was pretty damned painful on Colbert this week, for that matter, something that wasn't helped by Stephen choosing to play up Brooks' "moderate" credentials. For some reason this must have appeared, if not Comedy Gold, perhaps the one way to get Brooks to play it straight. This failed miserably, of course, merely encouraging Brooks to join in the quipping contest, with increasingly dismal result. If that was the idea it was a complete misreading. Treating Brooks as though he is, rather than plays, a "moderate conservative" just puts him in his element, which is nowhere you want to be if your purpose is entertainment. Or information, but that's another matter. It was like having Foster Brooks as your guest, and warning the audience beforehand that you saw him backstage, and he might be a little inebriated. I suppose there's no chance at this point that Brooks will ever stop simpering--maybe it's the most natural thing there is about him; I don't know--which just highlights his passive-aggressive faux-moderate routine in a way that reminds you that some kids on the playground deserve to get picked on. Brooks doesn't just deserve a punch in the nose; he'd be improved by one, by the taste of his own blood in his mouth. He waltzes unscathed through the Newshour; he gets to write about how "serious" Afghanistan had become seven years after he'd been the worst whooping warflogger in print, the pep band kid taunting the losing football opponent from row 27, in between hits on his asthma inhaler. Honestly, Brooks doesn't deserve the Pass, and god knows phony "moderate conservatism" doesn't. )
Everybody know about this POS by now? Teabaggers are just like Hippies--I mean the New Left--because they don't like The Establishment and their tailors are de trop. Hating the Establishment, to Brooks, is the same thing as not knowing the Establishment, which he's sure they'd love if someone could just teach 'em enough manners that they could be invited to the Hamptons for the weekend.
There are many differences between the New Left and the Tea Partiers. One was on the left, the other is on the right. One was bohemian, the other is bourgeois. One was motivated by war, and the other is motivated by runaway federal spending.
Y'know, Dave, the anti-war movement opposed Vietnam when a Democrat was running things, and then when a Republican-Psychopath was. When the Teabaggers demonstrate their opposition to federal spending of whatever stripe, while Bush III is running it, not after he's become a liability to Their Side, then the similarities will be more striking than the differences.
One went to Woodstock, the other is more likely to go to Wal-Mart.One wore Tea Shades; the other carries Tea Bags. One failed Drug Tests; the other passes Purity Tests. One "grooved" on "Free Love"; the other is a collection of knuckle-walking Troglodytes with handguns in place of penises. Thanks, I'm here all week.
But the similarities are more striking than the differences. To start with, the Tea Partiers have adopted the tactics of the New Left. They go in for street theater, mass rallies, marches and extreme statements that are designed to shock polite society out of its stupor. This mimicry is no accident. Dick Armey, one of the spokesmen for the Tea Party movement, recently praised the methods of Saul Alinsky, the leading tactician of the New Left.
Okay, one: if there was some way to put Dick Armey, Dick Cheney, and Phil Gramm in a cage and determine who was the biggest lying shitbag, preferably involving the death of the other two, who would you bet on? How would anybody handicap that? Two: I keep hoping someone with the rights to the Alinsky estate will pull a Graceland™, and start suing every goddam wingnut who mentions him for copyright infringement. Seems like poetic justice.
But mostly this: that "extreme statements designed to shock". This is how the "moderate" Republican chooses to portray the
And look, I understand why Brooks, like Douthat, feels really threatened, in a way he didn't when the purest eight-year test of an ideology in the nation's history--that's Mr. Brooks' ideology, as well as Mr. Friedman's, Mr. Reagan's, and Mr. Bush's--produced, well, the most colossal disaster in the nation's history. What I don't understand is, after Bush II cemented the final nail in the coffin of foreverness, who th' fuck is supposed to be listening, aside from the other shit-scared plutocrats who suddenly found out they're the bottoms?
IS there anything else in American cultural or political life to which Brooks affords this sort of innate seriousness? Certainly nothing on the Left has ever been entitled to it, unless he's doing one of those periodic "I read in Psychology Today pieces that explain why the Left is still wrong even if it is right" pieces. (Because "Conservatism" has its finger on the Truth about Human Nature, y'know. Sorry to give away the ending.)
These days the same people who are buying Alinsky’s book “Rules for Radicals” on Amazon.com are, according to the company’s software, also buying books like [blah blah blah blah Hillary Clinton George Soros blah blah blah]. Those last two books were written by David Horowitz, who was a leading New Left polemicist in the 1960s and is now a leading polemicist on the right.
Which goes to prove that the laws in the US governing the public use of "leading polemicist" are the same ones governing the use of "North Atlantic Cod".
But the core commonality is this: Members of both movements believe in what you might call mass innocence. Both movements are built on the assumption that the people are pure and virtuous and that evil is introduced into society by corrupt elites and rotten authority structures. “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains,” is how Rousseau put it.
I will give the man his due: Brooks gets more out of a Cliff Notes tour of PoliSci 101 than any other Canadian-born practitioner of Right Wing Satyagraha* living or dead.
Because of this assumption, members of both movements go in big for conspiracy theories. The ’60s left developed elaborate theories of how world history was being manipulated by shadowy corporatist/imperialist networks — theories that live on in the works of Noam Chomsky.
Teabaggers have Ideas, however misguided; towering Left-wing intellectuals have theories. And outdated ones at that. And you just know Brooks was smiling that Retirement Community Salesman's smile when he typed it.
In its short life, the Tea Party movement has developed a dizzying array of conspiracy theories involving the Fed, the F.B.I., the big banks and corporations and black helicopters.
One: like those theories aren't the goddam building materials the Republican sump pump was constructed of fifty years ago. Two: like no sane person could imagine the Fed, the major investment banks, and Trans-Global Multi-Mega Butt Rape & Associates could possibly be involved in any shenanigans.
Because of this assumption, members of the Tea Party right, like the members of the New Left, spend a lot of time worrying about being co-opted. They worry that the corrupt forces of the establishment are perpetually trying to infiltrate the purity of their ranks.
So neither of 'em wanted you? We know. You wanted to go skinny-dipping with that hippie chick in '77, but Mater insisted you get home by 3:45 sharp, and, besides, she went with that Senior with the unicorn mural on his van. Let's move on.
Because of this assumption, members of both movements have a problem with authority.
And again, just like that problem with federal spending run amok, I'll believe this when the Teabaggers have a problem with authority being exercised over other people, not just themselves, their penis substitutes, and the corporations they admire.
Recently a piece in Salon astutely compared Glenn Beck to Abbie Hoffman
Zzzt…wha? Sorry, I must've dozed off there. Nothin' like getting the definitive history from some other guy who wasn't there, and you know you can trust a capsule biography of Abbie Fucking Hoffman written by some "Centrist" sinecure with a chip on his shoulder about the battle over Western Civ at Stanford. (And who, into the bargain, lets us know that this sort of lunacy associated with liberalism is why decent, middle-of-the-road Americans [such as, uh, himself] were drawn to the intellectual model of the Republican party, once William of Buckley slew the Birchers. In other words, he chose his political affiliation by the same method normal men use to choose the width of their ties or the style of their sunglasses. And we are not just supposed to understand this. We're supposed to fucking applaud it.)
Okay, fine. It doesn't deserve it, but let's just answer this. Hoffman was a huckster. Beck is a prostitute. Hoffman was a witty and occasionally wise one; Beck is a particularly shameless and successful one. I got to the party late, m'self, but I knew people who were in Lincoln Park in '68, and people whose politics were leftward of Tom Hayden, and I never knew anyone who claimed Hoffman (let alone Jane Fonda), as an inspiration, and certainly not a "leader". The only person I knew who owned Steal This Book was a steel-town trades union socialist who had, in fact, stolen it, or so he said. If I go to Barnes & Noble right this minute I'll find four feet of Beck's pickled puss staring back at me in the Current Events section, and if I follow the first person who buys one and engage him in a political conversation I guarantee 90% of what comes out of his mouth will be a Telephone game away from directly quoting the Big Man or his henchliars on FOX. And the length of time required to elicit either a racist remark, or some snopes-worthy lunacy, assuming I try, will be measured in seconds, not minutes, extrapolating from the ones I happen to know. The most doctrinaire Marxist of the New Left era may have been wrong, wrongheaded, or a terminal prevaricator, but the thing he couldn't be is smugly cocooned inside his own alternative reality. He didn't have the luxury. He trucked through a country where he and his kind were The Enemy. Your Teabagger, product of three decades of Reagan On The Fifty and fingers in the ears whenever the Impure were speaking, imagines himself to be The Real America.
And you Reagantots believe this because it was force-fed you in infancy, and because you never bothered to distinguish between what you were told and the motives behind the telling. Like Randianism, this sort of thing can be excused through age twenty-two or so, for late bloomers, but no further. To suggest, in middle age and after most of the dust has settled, that Buckley and Goldwater are not forever tainted by a racism too vile to be excused even by the standards of their own day, or that the baldfaced history of the United States propping up European colonialism throughout the 20th century, or its willingness to use nuclear proliferation and nuclear brinkmanship to further economic aims, which were then divorced by Buckley/Goldreagan from benefitting 95% of Americans even economically is somehow beneath your notice because Abbie Hoffman wore shirts you wouldn't be caught dead in, is simply inexcusable. Even, or especially, for paid mouthpieces.
Sure, sure, it's the nature of the beast that you'll say anything to maintain the illusion that the people in power are doing your bidding. Might be worth a whirl or two around the dance floor, except it follows the pure and pervasive Goat Fuck of the past decade. (Not that I'm suggesting anyone needed to wait for the Bush-Cheney administration for an empirical test; it's just that thanks to the last administration, and Goldman Sachs, the Emperor's been caught on tape, tried, convicted and sentenced for Public Nudity.) It's just a mite curious how this "philosophy" predicated on Original Sin seems to be blind in one eye. Your vision's 20/20 when it comes to the Unintended Consequences of liberalism, but call up the results of unbridled capitalism and you can't see the blackboard. You're wise enough to lecture Teabaggers on their theological error, but too incurious to note the contribution of multiple wars and trillions in unnecessary military gizmos and axiomatic overkill to the National Debt. There was a time this Reagan worship was just a maddening tic of the improperly toilet trained. Today, with a cesspool the size of ten S&L scandals, and two more Vietnam-like defeats--two you keep insisting are successes so long as you say so, the way an earlier seraglio of warfloggers insisted we didn't lose Vietnam, we weren't allowed to win! later, revised for the next generation of indifferent student, as forced to pull out just when we were winning!--none of which can be blamed on Abbie Hoffman's bell bottoms, in which you have both feet planted up to the neck, it is simply contemptible. The Teabaggers are yours, in a very real sense, not the sense in which political opponents and conniving Scoop Jackson Democrats pinned the Hoffman on the Donkey. There's nothing at a Teabagger rally that Ronald Reagan wouldn't or didn't campaign on, though he, like you, would have scrupled at drawing Hitler mustaches on Obama in the daylight. Teabaggers embarrass you, now? Pity they didn't when you thought you owned their votes. Pity no one taught you, back when all that PolySci bushwa got caught permanently in your brain, that the one and only solution for being covered in shit is coming clean.
* Right Wing Satyagraha differs from its better-known progenitor in that the practitioner vows to abstain from practicing violence himself, though he's free to encourage, cajole, or demand that others take care of it for him.