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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Bad revolution; good revolution

For a while now, the Republicans have pushed two memes: The working class pays no tax, and the poor must be kept from voting. Now the themes merge. Representative Steve King offers the initial outlines of a plan to keep alleged tax dodgers -- that is, underpaid workers, the elderly and students -- from voting.
Now I don't think they're paying taxes. But many of them are voting. And when they vote, they vote for more government benefits.
This is precisely the point Sharron Angle made during her abortive run for Reid's seat: If democracy grants the people the right to push for things like Social Security and Medicare, then democracy must go. (She justified this absurdity by muttering some hallucinated nonsense about the Founding Fathers.)

Is King daydreaming? No. I think he has been tasked with sounding a theme that conservatives will be repeating frequently in months to come. These people want a revolution. They want to remake the country from the ground up.

The outlandish pronouncements of radicals like King and Angle are the reason why I react with both horror and sympathy (and more of the former) when someone like Ian Welsh says something like this:
At this point in time only radical solutions will work. That means radical: everything must go. Every institution in American society has failed. Every single one. They must all be shut down and the purposes they were meant to serve must be assigned to new institutions.
It's easy to guess how a King or an Angle (or their masters) would respond: Yes, by all means. Everything must go. We need a fresh start.

A "fresh start" will mean waking up in Ayn Randland. The Libertarians have their shit together; we don't. They have nearly limitless funds. They also have numbers, the passion of the petty, a formidable media infrastructure, and an unholy alliance with the religious right. (The last-mentioned item would have annoyed Ayn, but she had a Machiavellian streak wide enough to accept the compromise.) Any revolution will quickly become their revolution.

This is why I get the cosmic heebie-jeebies whenever I see a lefty posit the need for a new Constitutional Convention. And who would fill that convention hall? Guys like Representative King, that's who. Never flatter yourself with the pathetic delusion that the revolution will consist of people who think as you think.

The willingness of OWS people to listen does not necessarily mean that they will be co-opted. One means of deflecting a force is to be unresistable and then stepping aside. The force thinks it's landing, but it really just slides on by.

That's not to say that you couldn't be right but you aren't assuredly right. There are other possibilities.

Barbara makes an interesting point. These protesters are definitely doing it their way. I see them again and again on the forums for Occupy Boston saying "not all of us are liberal." But then they painstakingly forge an all-inclusive pact of tolerance that would make a rightwinger run. It's really slow and long-winded and frustrating to watch from afar, and one of my favorite comments from a reader was "I hope he realizes Libertarians are not his friends."

But this is their show. They are doing something new, their way.
This is why I get the cosmic heebie-jeebies whenever I see a lefty posit the need for a new Constitutional Convention.

Me too - as if putting the Bill of Rights up for grabs could possibly be a good thing. The Constitution is difficult to amend for a reason.
The right wingers strongly believe that "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."

The quote is sometimes attributed to Alexis de Toqueville, but apparently it was not he who said it, and it may even have been invented in 1951.

The important thing to realize is that in the history of democracies, it has never happened. What has happened many times over, however, is that the RICH have coopted the political system for their own personal benefit, and to the detriment of the rest of us.

Carolyn Kay
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