GYMNASTICS

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.

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23 Responses to “GYMNASTICS”

  1. Tor user Says:

    Corporatism is code for ZOG, silly.

  2. US in the UK Says:

    It has been my impression that whenever the Right starts on a new meme, it means that are actively doing/encouraging it or about to start (see: Voting Rights). Corporatism applies perfectly to what the Right in the US is doing – giving direct political power (not access, power) to corporations so that they can get their business of gutting the country over more quickly. It does three further things.

    They love doing things right in your face or out in the open. The more brazen the better. I mean, who loves them some Oliver North, eh!?!

    It provides them media cover: "Republicans have been caught suppressing voters but claim that Democrats do as well". This makes it super easy to be a journalist: whew! now I don't have to do any actual reporting and confront anyone, i can just write a blurb on the generic sadness of not voting becuase… .both sides do it(!)

    It also allows them to imprint the concept on their listeners brains so that when you are confronted with a Rightwing relative/friend, they "know" what it means and your pointyhead definition is wrong/ideological.

    Brilliant, I tell you, brilliant. and This has been working since about 1980.

  3. Anonymouse Says:

    US in the UK, wow, yes, this is it exactly.

  4. c u n d gulag Says:

    I'm waiting for our Reich-Wingers to "discover" Vladimir Putin's "lost American birth certificate."
    "Look! He was actually born in a little tenement house on Delancey Street, in NYC!"

    He's their dreamboat.
    A manly, often shirtless, macho dictator, and good friend to Plutocrats and Oligarchs.

  5. waspuppet Says:

    It's going to take some work for Our Serious, Objective Media Stars to pretend that the party that a year ago was running behind a guy who said "corporations are people" is the party of the common man. But I have faith in David Gregory and Chuck Todd; they've performed tougher tricks.

  6. MS Says:

    Language is diverging, certainly, but no one seems to realize it yet. The difference in language between the Fox-news-atariat and the rest of the country is substantial – perhaps as large as the difference between UK English and American English.

    "Let's take a lorry to the tube and then go to my flat!"

    "Libruls Benghazied the corporatist healthcare rollout! I've got my zombie rifle ready!"

    We can still understand each other, mostly, if we make an effort – there are enough words in common. But there are enough different words to mess up communication if we don't realize who we are speaking to or if we try to craft a communication to be received by both sides.

  7. bb in GA Says:

    "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."

    I know you do stand-up comedy, but I think you were unintentionally funny with this line. Just swap two words and viola :-)…mirror image.

    //bb

  8. Anonymouse Says:

    You wrote: "So there is very little cost to throwing around terms like "socialist" or "Marxist",", which completely explains why in the Fux-Noize-world, anyone they don't like can be simultaneously a Marxist and a socialist AND if they REALLY don't like the person, a Communist, also too.

  9. c u n d gulag Says:

    MS,
    As I believe Churchill once said: "The United States and Britain – two people separated by one language."

  10. GunstarGreen Says:

    The three Great Premises of Idiot America:
    · Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units
    · Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough
    · Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it

    With all due credit to Charles P. Pierce.

    Republican lexicons are simply a manifestation of these premises, specifically the second and third. It is entirely possible to be the party of 'corporations are people my friend' while simultaneously being the party that denounces 'corporatism'.

    Just as it is possible for my father to be a man that denounces 'liberals' as lazy and shiftless moochers, while simultaneously having a son that is both 'liberal' and more successful than he is by orders of magnitude.

    Idiocy is not bound by petty notions of 'truth' or 'fact'. Those can be invented as needed.

  11. negative 1 Says:

    Is 'corporatism' as a right-wing talking point really a thing? Can anyone really be that dumb? One party fetishizes free trade, is against any kind of labor protections, thinks the government should 'get out of the way of business' and wants to abolish the corporate tax. Truly no one can be dumb enough to fall for this? Or at the very least it will confuse the idiot base who was told for 30 years that everything business does is inherently good.

  12. hackenbush Says:

    The single largest hole in the "free markets fix everything" grand economic unification theory, which has become the recent style in many pseudo-intellectual right-leaning circles, is that it doesn't fix anything except for *money*.

    The easiest way to explain this is that the interests of businesses are generally *money*, and that interest increases with the size of the business. We can't expect a business to give a rat's ass about the environment — not when they can give a few extra dollars to their shareholders. In this way, stripping regulation (which has become an increasingly vocal right-wing fetish, at least in the circles which I travel) will do nothing apart from accelerate the process of richer people stripping money from poorer people by increasingly slimy means. Money is neither good nor bad, fair nor unfair, but pursuing it seems to result in the nastiest part of human nature emerging.

  13. hackenbush Says:

    Also, it has been insanely disheartening to see that the "populist movement" (no matter how faux or astroturfed it may be) which has caught on has essentially been the one which provides hand-jobs for the richest among us, while leaving everyone else to fend for themselves. I am, of course, referring to the Tea Party, nee Teabaggers. I had thought that there would be a cohesive populist movement from the left, which would arise from the ashes of the 2008 economic clusterfuck — but instead, we get faux populism from conservative thinktank marketing weenies.

  14. Well mostly Says:

    Always liked gymnastics – the gravity defying, bone and ligament torturing twists and turns. All that flying through the air. Don't know how they do it or why. Just stand back and marvel.
    That hyped-up, intensely irritated, mean-minded folk put on shows of mental gymnastics is also amazing. Interesting to watch, solely as a thing. Not exactly a corner they get themselves into – but it's a place. A nasty place.
    Cuba policy by itself demonstrates all this. It truly is policy based on "shit we don't like."
    Applied hate has no boundaries.

  15. Alan C Says:

    You forgot "fascist" as a catch-all for "any ideology I disagree with," which is why in right-wing usage it's synonymous with liberalism, socialism, Marxism, communism, botulism, etc.

  16. clark Says:

    If Republicans denouncing corporatism is a thing, then perhaps it has a tactical purpose in the class war. Perhaps the PTB want the waters muddied– anti-corporatism made meaningless (and powerless) because both sides claim it.

  17. Ten Bears Says:

    It's really rather simple, a mere matter of rearranging the words: with "Capitalism" (Consumerism, Corporatism, Fascism) the means of production, the corporation, control the means of distribution, the state. With "Communism" (Socialism) the means of disribution, the state, control the means of production, the corporation. Subtle but distinct, and beyond the comprehension of our reich-wingers measly mental comprehension .

    No fear.

  18. Nick-B Says:

    Yeah, I'm glad to hear this pointed out. I very rarely venture into the comments section of any Yahoo article, because the stupidity there in blaming EVERYTHING wrong with America on liberals and democrats actually – honestly – depresses me. Sometimes, I try to venture in there, but short of writing out a research-paper-sized comment post on the spot, I can't refute every single argument and end up with a weak comment just as badly structured as they have.

    In particular, one comment that got me up in arms is the idea that is it DEMOCRATS that "love" big business and is a patsy for large corporations. I don't know how in the hell they came to that conclusion, what with Republicans loving to cut corporate tax rates, ease regulations and restrictions, and favor businesses over the common man in everything.

    It's like they don't see the corporation, but instead see a "small business" all run by a single smart (and insanely rich) man who is generously employing millions of people. They ignore that the only reason they employ people (which costs moneys!) is because it is a necessary evil to these companies.

    I am always appalled at the choices companies make at the expense of their employees. Why can't they – I always mutter to myself – just be a company whose sole purpose is to provide good paying jobs to a community? The product they sell is – itself – the "necessary evil" a company has to do in order to keep employing people, not the other way around.

  19. Shane Says:

    Funny thing is, a variant of Corporatism would be a vast improvement over Tea Party ideology.

  20. Mo Says:

    We've all enjoyed Tom Tomorrow's latest, amirite?

  21. Southern Beale Says:

    We've seen conservative play this game before, though. We called the Bush policies fascist when he was trying to hand everything over to corporations, like Blackwater. And then along comes Obama and the right calls him fascist because as you point out that's merely shorthand for "stuff people don't like."

    I don't know why we don't use this against them. You don't like corporatism? Great! Let's pass a constitutional amendment saying corporations aren't people, then!

  22. mothra Says:

    Weeeeeeell…..I can't say as I disagree that Obama's policies have largely benefited corporations over people…but it is hilarious to see the pot trumpeting from the stovetop about that kettle over there.

  23. Arslan Says:

    From my experience "corporatism" is most often used by libertarians as a No True Scotsman fallacy to explain why nothing is capitalism's fault. According to them, we don't have capitalism but corporatism, which is nothing like capitalism. Then you ask them when we had "true capitalism" and the following occurs:

    1. They say an era.
    2. You point out numerous historical examples of why life in this era sucked for most people, and was far worse than 21st century or post-war 20th century America.
    3. They blame those problems specifically on the state, even when they had nothing to do with the state, and then claim that wasn't capitalism either.
    4. You eventually back them into a corner where they admit that capitalism never existed and they usually at this point re-define capitalism according to the English-Austrian School of Economics Dictionary.

    Of course corporatism or "crony capitalism" is often used by privileged liberals who are too afraid to point out that the system is inherently flawed(possibly because they are benefiting from it). In many ways liberals hold identical views to conservatives about the past being better.