GYMNASTICS

Posted in Rants on December 17th, 2013 by Ed

We're all capable of holding conflicting beliefs, but that kind of mental hypocrisy – intentional or not – is subject to the same rules of stupidity. Everyone is entitled to be stupid, of course, but we must be careful not to abuse the privilege.

The recent right-wing freakout over Nelson Mandela (who was a TERRORIST!) is a perfect example of how little sense their worldview makes when taken as a whole, not to mention how embarrassingly little critical thinking that worldview is subjected to. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist who, I guess, should have fought Apartheid with peaceful protests. Even though black South Africans were denied any semblance of basic political rights – Do right wingers get mad when governments try to take away individual rights? I can't remember – American conservatives remain staunch in their belief that peaceful protests are the best way to change a government. Which is why they hoard guns like they can't breathe without them and banter freely about overthrowing the government by force because of a health care law passed by Congress.

On the most basic level their beliefs make no sense, unless they're willing to admit that racism is a fundamental part of their worldview.

Mike Konczal, because he is a more patient person than me, wrote out a long examination of just how ludicrous the new right-wing talking point about "corporatism" is. We know that the GOP and its noise machine love to play fast and loose with ideological language; we've known for decades that few Americans organize their belief systems with ideological language like "liberal" or "conservative", and in fact the number who can use those terms correctly is depressingly small. So there is very little cost to throwing around terms like "socialist" or "Marxist" or "corporatism". Since nobody knows what they mean anyway, it's a simple matter to use them pejoratively and turn them into a slightly classy sounding insult. Listen to how your Teabagger friends use the word "liberal" and it won't take long to figure out that it basically means "Things I don't like" to them.

That said, to anyone who does understand what "corporatism" means it is simply mind-boggling to hear it come out of Mitch McConnell's mouth with a straight face. My guess is that this meme developed because the word sounds unpleasant, invokes Corporations (which even conservatives realize no one likes), and has a historical connection to fascist movements of the 1930s that only Republican voters are old enough to remember. Republicans have long been desperate to nurture some kind of populist cred – they embody the herculean challenge of being against The Man when you are, in every conceivable sense of the term, The Man – and this is no more than its latest incarnation.

To take the claim seriously, as the linked article does, leads rapidly to the conclusion that "the entirety of capitalism and the last several centuries of property rights are corporatist through and through." And the last time I checked, conservatives like capitalism and their property rights. Again, I understand the basic problem here: people using this term don't really understand what it means. Nonetheless it's exhausting to think of what kind of mental gymnastics are necessary for the few who do grasp its true meaning to make Barack Obama the paid servant of the Robber Barons while, you know, Louie Goehmert is the champion of the little guy. Since the Gingrich Era the GOP has tried selling the idea that because they talk a lot about individual rights they are the true defenders of the common man, conveniently ignoring the fact that "rights" is a code word for "power" in their talking points.