Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tea party contradictions

Great reply by George R. R. Martin in response to a comment from a reader on his blog.

The blog post was about the eerie similarity he observed between a video of a Tea Party political rally or town hall meeting, not sure which, and the biergarten scene in Cabaret where a Hitlerjungend sings "Tomorrow belongs to me". I think George's observation is spot-on. He's picking up on the emotionalism of people, the kind of emotions that lead to fascism, as people cling ever more strongly to failing narratives about American individualism and American exceptionalism.

Pugix says (in his serious, professorial mode) that the Tea Party is a type of libertarianism. They want minimal government; they want to be left alone. The desire to be left alone by government was the founding impulse for Americans to move West. This may be why the Southwest part of the country demonstrates so well the consequences of libertarian pressure on government: note Arizona selling off their government buildings to try to meet debt obligations as a consequence of both economic downturn and severe cutting of taxes.

Pugix thinks that Tea party attitudes toward social problems like poverty are descended from the Calvinist religion that influenced the Puritans: if you are poor and struggling, it's your own fault, and God would bless you if you were worthy and tried to be good. Therefore, it should not be the role of government to intervene in human services; let charities (and business interests) handle the treatment of social problems.

It seems to me that people who are clamoring to cut taxes don't understand the functions of government in a civil society. That's a whole topic in itself.

Back to the fascism parallel: when your own contradictions bedevil you, and you lack the humility and honesty to recognize it, the coward's way is to attribute as many ills as possible to a scapegoat, and make it one's holy mission to eradicate that scapegoat, believing in one's own purity and goodness. Exhibit A: Arizona's illegal alien law.

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