After years of "debating" Tea Partiers, Libertarians, Christian Fundamentalists, and other varieties of far-right ideologues, I compiled a summary of some of the major dimensions of the folly of their ideology. (I did not really address the evangelical Christian follies as much as the Tea Party/Libertarian follies.) We all know that these "debates" will never change anyone's mind, but we still have to engage in the ongoing struggle over our shared national zeitgeist, the competition of narratives, in the effort to move the center of gravity ever-so-slightly and ever-so-gradually in the direction of reason and humanity.
(Cross-posted at ColoradoConfluence.com)
The following was in response to a right-wing poster who had “steam coming out of (her) ears” over some left-wing commentator suggesting that “conservative values” was code for racism. She ended by saying that “we have to take back this country, or we are all screwed!” A historical tour through the Constitution, "States Rights," John C. Calhoun's "Union and Liberty," the Civil War, the Great Depression, Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, modern American anti-Latino-immigrant hysteria, and "The Great Recession" put her admonition into historical perspective....
(Cross-posted on http://coloradoconfluence.com/)
One of the great paradoxes of American history and society is that we are simultaneously a country founded by religious zealots committed to the promotion of religious zealotry, and a country established on Enlightenment principles committed to the creation and preservation of a secular Constitutional Republic. In an honest debate over which direction best serves current and future generations of Americans and humanity, I personally believe that there is no contest: Religious fanaticism and Theocracy are the authors of untold horrors in the world, and it is not a model to be emulated.
(Cross-posted on http://coloradoconfluence.com/)
It’s not possible to fully understand American politics without understanding the language that is employed in political discourse, and how the terms are defined by those who use them. Interestingly, one American political faction has come to define all terms as precisely the opposite of what the rest of us have long understood them to mean.
Christmas is a shining growth in the social institutional landscape, a holiday rich in various heritages, colorful, good-humored, and devoted, for most, to a sentiment of universal goodwill. As a Jew with religious beliefs somewhere between pantheism and atheism, the Christianity of this ostensibly Christian holiday is as relevant to me as Halloween’s Celtic connection, which is to say, relevant, but not in the expected way.
Christmas is a cultural snowball rolling down a seemingly endless slope, growing as it goes. Its journey began long before the birth of Christ (which certainly did not occur on the 25th of December, which just happened to be the date of the biggest Roman holiday beforehand, the Saturnalia, chosen to make the early Christian celebration inconspicuous), and has traveled through diverse cultures and religions ever since, accumulating their material along the way.
Extreme Individualism was dead. Even Economics, the most individualistic of Social Sciences, knew that it was dead. But Abandoner Screwage didn’t. (“Abandoner´s” real name was “Abner,” a Tea Partier who attended Sarah Palin rallies in a Medicare-supplied “Hoverround,” along with hundreds of others similarly equipped, like a confused geriatric biker gang).
Abandoner saw the ghost of Extreme Individualism everywhere, as if it were alive and well. He saw it in a century-old non-empirical Austrian economic philosophy and in a century-old poorly written and conceived novel expressing an adolescent superiority complex. He saw it in his caricature of the American Constitution, and in fabricated economic principles that no living economist actually adhered to. He saw it in his door knocker, heard it ringing all his bells (like a drunken hunchback defecting from another novel of the same era), filling his dreams with the slack-jawed stupidity of blind fanaticism.
(This is cross-posted on Colorado Confluence, with live hyperlinks to the related posts embedded in that post: http://coloradoconfluence.com/...
Republicans claiming to represent fiscal conservatives signed a pledge not to raise taxes, though even conservative economists such as Alan Greenspan are adamant that continuing the Bush tax cuts for the uber-wealthy is irresponsible and indefensible. Those who decry the national debt, and exaggerate its significance, have proven that they are also unwilling to maintain a revenue stream capable of paying it down.
(cross-posted on Colorado Confluence: http://coloradoconfluence.com/...
The title quote, uttered by President Obama to describe the choice we have in the 2010 elections, captures the essence of the on-going struggle between humanity's inner-angels and inner-demons, a struggle which produces the realization of both our dreams and our nightmares, depending on which prevails in any given moment of history.
Following is a full exposition of what that phrase means, including how it relates to the U.S. Constitution, U.S. and World History, and the Colorado gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races
It has been often rightly said that the far right has done a superior job of messaging, of distilling their agenda into pithy slogans that appeal to the existing frames and narratives defining many minds. The left is accused of being overly cerebral, overly verbose, unable to put their message on a bumper sticker. Some argue that we should not sacrifice that depth and complexity that characterizes progressive thought for the platitude-laden sloganeering of the far right. I agree: We must find ways to integrate the two demands. We must frame thoughtful discourse in accessible ways, working with our minds as they are, to keep moving them in the direction of what they can and should be.
I've recently written two essays on Colorado Confluence describing in more detail what this means:
Colorado Confluence is a new kind of political-plus blog, Colorado-based but not geographically (or topically) exclusive, "to articulate the genius of the many with the expertise of the few, the simple pleasures of daily life with the sublime pleasures of aesthetic and intellectual discovery, the roiling surface of the political sea with the surging depths of the human mind."
Colorado Confluence is an issue-oriented community blog dedicated to political, economic, social, and cultural analysis, as well as imaginative explorations of our world, and discussions about matters relevant to daily life. All are welcome.
Adam Schrager of 9News in Denver, Colorado, referred to the following campaign email as "hands down, the most creative fundraising pitch I've seen in 20 years of covering politics."
Martin Luther King, Jr. said that "the arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." John Maynard Keynes (later plagiarized by Winston Churchill) said that "[people] will do the rational thing, but only after exploring all other alternatives." I believe that they both are correct: Reason and social justice prevail in the long run, though we seem to take the longest rather than shortest route possible. So the facile answer to the subject-line question is: Be patient.
Of course, much suffering occurs in the meantime, and there is never any guarantee that humanity will survive long enough for the arc of history, and the lathe of trial-and-error, to work their magic. So the question becomes: How do we accelerate the "natural" processes that bend the arc of history toward reason and social justice?
It helps first to understand those processes.