23 February 2012

The right wing's ancient evil

I suppose this proposed Virginia law, which I first heard about via Progressive Eruptions, was the final straw -- but I've known for a long time that there's far more at stake this year than in an ordinary election. We're facing a bizarre, atavistic evil here. It does not control the whole Republican party -- yet -- but wherever they attain power, so does it.

It's not enough that our country has become a land where a few people who have learned to game the system accumulate obscene wealth by destroying jobs and producing nothing of value, while the incomes of the workers who produce everything of value stagnate. It's not enough that taxes on the wealthiest have been cut relentlessly for half a century until, we are told, the government can no longer afford to provide even the threadbare safety net we've come to know. It's not enough that the opposition elite's hand-picked candidate for the Presidency is a man whose career exemplifies these nation-wrecking trends. No, there's something even more dark and horrible looming behind all that.

This is a war against modernity and modernity's central premise, the value system based on the individual's right to self-determination so long as his or her actions do not interfere with the self-determination of others, in favor of the older value system based on arbitrary taboos and edicts recorded in ancient religious texts, where our lives should be shaped not by our own desires but by the plans supposedly drawn for us by an imaginary deity. I could fill paragraphs with examples of the sophistry and obfuscation I've seen Republicans use to re-frame opposition to abortion and birth control so as to avoid mentioning the issue of women's self-determination -- to make the question about anything other than individual choice. That's the basic clash of world-views here: is your life your own, to be run based on your own wishes, or are you created as a utensil for some divine plan?

Theirs is clearly a religious world-view, even if the divine plan was replaced by the will of the state in earlier, semi-secularized variants of it (Fascism and Communism). Hence, too, the sin-and-punishment model exemplified by the Virginia law. Any supposed medical purpose is window dressing; the point is to humiliate a person who (must have) violated a sexual taboo and is now trying to evade the divinely-ordained punishment. If the Old Testament's dietary laws were still taken seriously by fundamentalists, they might be proposing laws to require similar degrading treatment for people who seek medical help for food poisoning after eating shellfish.

The sin/punishment model suffuses all their thinking. Republican rhetoric about the poor and unemployed is laced with a penalizing stance. Drug-test them, take away their benefits, impose this or that rule -- punish, degrade, humiliate. In the religious model, suffering is redemptive, so the more of it the better. It's sadism and deliberate cruelty, puffed up with a stance of moral superiority.

One sees the same in the conservative austerity policies being forced on southern Europe by the EU bureaucracy, privileging deficit reduction over jobs at a time of brutal unemployment. Never mind that the economic contraction caused by austerity is destroying the basis of future growth which would actually reduce the deficits. Solving the problem is not the point. The bureaucrats ignore the terrible suffering austerity creates -- if anything, they seem to relish it. Sin must be punished. The moral superiority of the north over the south must be asserted. And of course Republican deficit hawks in the US are eager to impose the same sick model here.

It's no wonder that gays are such a target of choice. Their very existence is not allowed by the taboo system. In the fundamentalist world-view, there are no gay people, just a special case of sinful temptation and the necessity of resisting it. Even if gay sex can't be criminalized any more (and don't doubt for a moment that these people would still do that if they could), gays must be excluded from marriage, excluded from the military, excluded from teaching, excluded, excluded, excluded. The casting-out of the taboo-breaker, the branding with the scarlet letter, the public verdict "there is something wrong with you, you are not fit to be among us" -- that is the point.

Everywhere where they took power in 2010, they've been showing their true colors. Attack gays, attack women's self-determination, attack the poor.

It's always mostly about sex, of course. Repressed people are always fixated on it. There was never any real-world possibility that shellfish would be an issue. 95% of the Christian Right's obsessions are about other people's sexual self-determination and how to stop them from transgressing taboos. And like other psycho-sexual criminals, they escalate over time. So they have now reached the point of decreeing that women in Virginia who seek abortions be subjected by law to a procedure that meets the legal definition of rape. And make no mistake, if they get away with that, the next thing they come up with will be worse. It won't stop until somebody stops it.

The opposition today no longer embodies the spirit of Eisenhower and Goldwater, but that of the robber baron and the Grand Inquisitor of centuries past. Its face is no longer Reagan's sunny optimism, but the rapist's triumphant snigger.

There is one other matter which is seldom raised, but which is desperately important for the future of our country.

The world is entering an era in which proficiency in science and technology will outweigh everything else. The pace of technological change has accelerated beyond what seemed possible even a decade or two ago. In the world of the near future, it is the nations with the best brains that will lead. A nation that bets on cheap labor will not lead. A nation whose science classes teach that the Earth is 6,000 years old and that solid scientific fact must be rejected if it contradicts primitive dogma, will not lead. A nation where every proposal for major government investment in public education is met with whining about the burden on the taxpayers, will not lead. The right wing is setting up our children to be the hewers of wood and drawers of water for the Germans and Japanese.

We've got to win this thing. Re-electing Obama is necessary (think Supreme Court picks) but not sufficient. We must take back the House from Boehner and the teabagging lunatics who are so extreme even he can barely cope with them. We must restore a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, plus a margin of error to allow for a few Blue Dogs. We must make sure Elizabeth Warren gets in this year, so she'll be in position to run for President in 2016 and finish the work Obama started. We must get Walker and the other union-busting Kochroaches out. But beyond that, we must smash the troglodytes and bullies on the other side so hard and bury them so deep that they can never, ever dig themselves out to torment and destroy the decent people of this country again.


Blogger B.R. said...

Christianity is such a vile load of shit that it's hard to describe it. Everything the far right does is what the church has been doing for centuries. But of course, it's atheists and non-conservatives in general who are the bad guys. I know! Let's amend the Constitution so we can burn 'em at the stake for... something.

23 February, 2012 06:01  
Anonymous Ahab said...

Powerful and insightful. You've identified just how much is at stake in the struggle against the Religious Right, and how far-reaching the consequences will be if they gain traction.

23 February, 2012 06:51  
Blogger Leslie Parsley said...

Ditto Ahab. I even printed this, so I could take it to lunch with me in order to absorb it in totality. May have to read it a couple of more times to get "it all."

"Punish, degrade and humiliate." And not just gays and women but Hispanics, Blacks, Seniors (although many of them have as yet to understand this), Students, the ailing, liberals, laborers, and even "main-stream" Christians, etc., etc., etc. There is a thug mentality here which, of course, invites mob rule and a fascist coup.

We must stomp hell out of them from the ground up or we're sunk. Not a very encouraging thought. I just hope those on the far left who have stormed away in anger and frustration will come to realize what is at stake here by election day.

23 February, 2012 12:12  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Great post Infidel!

23 February, 2012 20:31  
Blogger Jack Jodell said...

It is almost as if this dark force is aware of uts own pervasive evil and is doing all it can to suicidally destroy itself, and unfortunately us, too, along with it. VERY creepy and extremely convoluted as well!

23 February, 2012 20:41  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Jack Jodell, it's like Doctor Morbius in Forbidden Planet and the "monsters from the id."

24 February, 2012 05:35  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

BR: They would if they could -- in the meantime, they defy the First Amendment as best they can.

Ahab: Thanks. getting across what's at stake is my main concern here.

LP: Thanks. This is what we need -- to realize just how monstrous this problem is, to be inspired to fight back.

TK: Thanks!

JJ: The suicidal aspect bothers me -- earlier in the race, my worst fear was the thought of someone like Perry or Bachmann with who-knows-what ideas about Armageddon and the Last Days getting control of the US nuclear arsenal -- "If we can't have the world our way, no one else can have it at all".

TK: And like in Forbidden Planet, we're under threat of being murdered by someone else's delusion.

24 February, 2012 07:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you...thank you... thank you.
some one out there "gets" it.
I will share this far and wide.

24 February, 2012 08:54  
Blogger Robert the Skeptic said...

You know, I believe the power brokers in this country look at Mexico, India and the like, and think, "why not here"? After all the economically oppressed minions in those countries are not routing their noble overloads with pitchforks and torches.

I don't understand why there are no million family marches on DC of families broken by medical bills and bankruptcy? (Maybe they are too sick or poor to travel?) Or, more likely, a goodly portion of our 99% are distracted by "American Idol" celebrity worship and hopefully buying lottery tickets.

What frightens me is that if GW Bush was elected to office TWICE, it certainly is not beyond imagination that we would be staring at a President Santorum next January.

24 February, 2012 17:12  
Blogger Lisa G. said...

Thanks for the post Infidel - you are spot on and 100% true. You hit this one out of the park!

25 February, 2012 05:36  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Wow! Just got here to read this excellent post. I'm sending it around to my "purist" lefty relatives who, because Mr. Obama hasn't done everything they want him to do or because he is, y'know, acting like a politician to get his policies through, have decided that Mr. Obama is "evil!"

Yes. I can't tell you how many times I've read that on Liberal blogs and in Liberal emails.

Those self-destructive Democrats need to read this and understand what evil truly is.

Thank you for your fine writing and articulating exactly how I feel on this very important election.

I like to post other writers' good work every once in a while and would like to put this up on my blog in a few days, with your permission.

Of course with attribution.

25 February, 2012 08:27  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Anonymous: Thanks.

RtS: There's not mass rebellion in Mexico or India because the mass standard of living, while low compared to ours, is rising. The real standard of living for most Americans has been more or less stagnant for decades. If it starts actually falling, watch out. Of course the financial parasite class is perfectly capable of miscalculating and thinking its position is far more secure than it really is. Louis XVI did.

LG: Thanks -- love the avatar by the way. I hope it will prove prophetic.

SK: Thanks much for the kind words, and yes, I'm very familiar with the "purist" element you mention. Be sure to read Smartypants and Norbrook, who are more than willing to take on those people. Luckily I think there are not very many of them.

And yes, if you'd like to re-post the piece, I'd be flattered.

25 February, 2012 11:33  
Anonymous Kvatch said...

We've got to win this thing. Re-electing Obama is necessary (think Supreme Court picks) but not sufficient.

Indeed. Once we've re-elected Obama, we should find someone better and elect them. Oh for a credible primary challenger...

25 February, 2012 12:32  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

In conjunction with Infidel753's post, here's Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi's take on where the GOP is today and how it got that way.

25 February, 2012 13:10  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Kvetch: Please let's leave the circular firing squads to the other side. Obama's the man for 2012; the last thing we need is the kind of primary battle that's dividing the Republicans. After four years -- Warren 2016!

SK: Interesting piece, thanks. He's right -- paranoia ends up devouring its own.

25 February, 2012 18:29  
Anonymous NickM said...

Well, I come from a rather different perspective - libertarianism (Don't think of Ron Paul - please!) and I have to say that is a hell of a piece Infidel.

hat really struck me was the control thing and the comparison with fascism and communism. Spot on. I could have said similar myself. In fact I think I did


... about dear Rick. I am an Ameriphilic Brit and the USA I know and love is not the Republic of Gilead these loons want to create. I hope you guys win. Not least because as sure as evolution created little onions it'll be coming over here soon after if you don't!

There have already been rumblings here from Baroness Warsi (chair of the Tory Party) about "Militant Secularism".

25 February, 2012 18:58  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

NM: Thanks. This is another point, of course -- a government of real militant fanatics in the US would potentially endanger other countries too.

I heard about Baroness W's blather (alarming if religious intolerance is starting to rear its head in European conservatism) and mentioned it in the last link round-up. Luckily there has been some push-back.

25 February, 2012 20:03  

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