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View Diary: The Death of Collectivism (11 comments)

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  •  I may be able to take a shot at about how we got (3+ / 0-)
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    Gooserock, Tam in CA, Chi

    to this point, but I'm too weary to try for a cogent response this evening.  Basically, I think that Rand's philosophy is not that important in its own right. Actually it's not important at all. It's a silly mish-mash of sophomoric interpretation of Nietzche, Burke and Adam Smith.  Her importance is derived from the resonance her writings have in present day America where she has more impact than she did while she was alive - and I'm old enough to remember her interviews in the '50s.  I'm guessing that one thing you are asking is how can that be?  My answer is that, in the words of one of her recent biographers Rand “is the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.” (Jennifer Burns, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right 14-15), so the answer reduces to how did the right get in control of our political process.  Primarily I believe that happened because the right wing plutocrats represented today by folken such as the Koch bros, were able to play to the fear of loss ofwealth, status, power, etc. in enough middle and working class whites and the American sense of independence to build a strong right-wing movement culminating in the Tea Party.  They did this in part I propose by promising that the Right's approach would enable all white people to maintain the power relationships they enjoyed historically.  To this was added a patina of assurance that all who joined them would be part of the new aristocracy. This is where I think Rand has her biggest pull - she is all about those who are better than others and that this is somehow a natural order of things.  I've not articulated this well, but when it is, it has incredible power - it certainly worked for the slave-holding class prior to the civil war and it's working now.  Interestingly enough there is room in this for African-Americans as long as they have assimilated themselves into the conservative culture so the Tea Party members aren't really lying when they say that the TP is not about racism.  However, the result is to keep the disenfrachised out of power, which is the entire point.  It just so happens that the largest groups of disenfrachised poor and blue color are not black or hispanics.  This is sort of interesting to me because it goes back to the Nixon Southern Strategy.  Lee Atwater was one of the second generation who used this strategy when Reagan was president.  In a surprisingly candid interview he summed it up as follows:Atwater talked about the GOP's Southern Strategy and Ronald Reagan's version of it:
    Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.
    Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?
    Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

    Thus this is an unconscious part of the Republican approach and allows conservatives to get to the same end point without even realizing that the effects are indeed racist even if theconscious intent isn't.  Now if that is not a beautiful political ploy, I don't know what one would be.  There's a lot more to this then I can write about, but I hope that this at least provides a snack to start some thinking about where liberal/progressives missed the boat.

    Any Jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one. - Sam Rayburn

    by Old Gray Dog on Sat Aug 18, 2012 at 04:26:11 PM PDT

    •  I think this is articulated quite well (1+ / 0-)
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      Chi

      and I buy it.  Amazing Atwater quote.  But what does surprise me is that the strength of this movement remains strong in the face of so much destruction.  Southern States fair poorly in wealth generation, lifetime happiness, lifespan, and dozens of other measures.  Indeed the very principles of enlightened self interest would suggest some lessening impact of policy positions that have devastated so much in the south.  In some ways it is noticing a hole in the boat and taking out your gun to make a few more rather than bailing. Most social development models would suggest some reduction of support from these principles.  But maybe that is what you are getting at.  Given power structures may not reflect this.

      Your point at Ayn Rand is particularly well taken.  I suppose I use her as the lightning rod because of Ryan.  However, the treatment of causalities and impacts within her novels are so shallow that it does suggest she didnt understand them (as opposed to ignored them).  

      Thank you for the response.

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