2010 September 05 Sunday
Derb: Glenn Beck As Beggar In Chief
Derb takes a look at Glenn Beck.
On the one had, of course I was glad to see the Beckites/Tea Partiers out there in such numbers, and glad for the success of the rally. They jabbed a finger in the eyes not only of the left-liberal elites, but of the clueless and pusillanimous Republican establishment, who wouldn’t touch Glenn Beck and his followers with a barge pole, other than to coo some sweet nothings at them when there are votes to be harvested. I hate liberals and I regard the Republican establishment the way Evelyn Waugh‘s friend regarded the modern world: “with calm despair.” So put me down as, if not precisely pro-Beck—still not knowing enough about the guy and his views—quite definitely anti-anti-Beck.
At one level of my thinking my attitude about being against or for news/commentary channel celebrity personalities is that this is a waste of time. The discussions that occur even on the supposed right-wing TV media are so lame, shallow, and fenced in that being for or against is for rubes. These personalities give people to say (quoting Steven Stills from What It's Worth) "Hooray for my side". I also hear him in the same song "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong". That's how I see the mainstream debate on most political issues. The truth isn't even allowed into the room.
Derb sees Beck as forming his arguments based on liberal assumptions. Hence the irrelevance (at least as I see it).
On the other hand, as with most conservatism nowadays, I was left with the impression of a crowd of people marching east on the deck of a west-bound ship. The underlying concepts of Beckism are all liberal. They dare not be otherwise, or Beck would lose his TV show, his O’Reilly spots, his publisher and sponsors, Sarah Palin (and all his other links to official Republicanism), and be cast into outer darkness. To pursue the ship analogy, he would have jumped overboard. All public displays in our society, from 30-second TV commercials to Acts of Congress, are constructed on liberal premises. That’s the direction the ship is sailing—westward, to the left.
If the mythological premises of liberalism motivated a system of laws and regulations that made things better then at this point in my life I would make peace with the mythology. I've been around enough years now to know that the competition is between mythologies. The masses lack the attention and intellectual capacity to build up political belief systems firmly grounded on truths. Plus, feminization has reduced the standing of objective truth.
Even a large fraction of all intellectuals want to believe myths. We do not have an innate religious tendency so much as an innate mythological tendency. We want to believe we live in stories and we want the stories to make us happy about ourselves and our society.
As for America's political direction: Yup, we are headed leftward and downward. This trend is going to last for decades. Though possibly the Singularity will bring it to a halt before offspring genetic engineering does.
Here is why Derb sees Beck as Beggar In Chief.
Political scientist Karl Wittfogel coined the phrase “a beggar’s democracy.” This refers to the more relaxed sort of despotism in which the lower orders—the beggars—are permitted some modest freedoms of expression, so long as they do not challenge the basic assumptions of the state ideology too boldly.
The intensity of the TV talk show dramas aim at making people feel like they've got defenders who are fighting for their tribe. But there's the rub: Most do not. I'm not just talking about conservative white people as being without defenders. The apathetic middle and especially the vast majority of poor blacks lack defenders too. Watch the objective measures.
Society has no choice but to stop moving left once the costs of leftism become too great to bear. A stable, wealthy society can bear such inefficiencies, but there is substantial evidence that we are at the point where we no longer can. Wealthy societies can afford to believe the fiction that you can't do racial profiling. Struggling ones cannot. Wealthy societies can afford to believe the fiction that all our chirrens are equally capable of becoming theoretical physicists. Struggling ones cannot.
The fact that people can entertain seriously the idea of eliminating birthright citizenship or government pensions without the media being able to effectively demagogue it is just one sign we are on our way. And there's a high degree of probability we will move back to the right (with or without Glenn Beck's help), since this economy ain't going nowhere anytime soon - which is why I was actually thrilled that Obama won in 2008. We are out of OPM to spend, and Americans will not stomach a drastic reduction in our lifestyles. That leaves only one choice. If and when we realize the costs of political correctness its proponents will be thrown overboard without any love lost.
Derb, by the way, is a curmudgeonly god among mere mortals, and We Are Doomed was terrific. Another book that got it right - and a decade before its time - was the late Christopher Lasch's The Revolt of the Elites. Revolt was published in 1994 - just a few years before congress passed the last semi-serious immigration enforcement measure. Do you think even the next Republican congress would go so far? Not willingly.
I think the real question, about which The Derb is appropriately pessimistic, is whether the demographic balance of this country will ever recover to a point where we can remain an economic and political leader in the world. We went from a 90% white country to a country where 50% of newborns are minorities in the space of just 2-3 generations, so - given the right conditions, primarily a cultural shift, policies favoring births among the better educated, the elimination of easy welfare for the poor - it's possible the reverse could happen. Possible, but not likely.
There is something else which causes me to be optimistic, and that is John Derbyshire himself - the fact that someone with his flagrantly politically incorrect views can remain employed at a magazine like National Review that is the indisputable opinion leader of the right.
"If the mythological premises of liberalism motivated a system of laws and regulations that made things better then at this point in my life I would make peace with the mythology. I've been around enough years now to know that the competition is between mythologies. The masses lack the attention and intellectual capacity to build up political belief systems firmly grounded on truths. Plus, feminization has reduced the standing of objective truth."
In one sentence you've summed up perhaps the entire pathology of the West. Good show!
I think Beck is high jacking the Tea Party with religion. The Tea Party is economics oriented. They were angry at bailouts due to the mortgage bubble etc.
Now Beck is playing it as some religious movement. Sure, some Tea Party folks are religious, but the Tea Party is not. Rick Santelli set it off with his rant about paying losers' mortgages from the floor of the Chicago commodities exchange. He suggested dumping derivative securities into Lake Michigan on the 4th of July.
I liked Beck when he was on CNN and was talking about the economy. He is starting to get on my nerves. Really religious people are not into political rallies with a mix of religions. Duh, it goes against their religion.
"If the mythological premises of liberalism motivated a system of laws and regulations that made things better then at this point in my life I would make peace with the mythology."
If they motivated laws which made things better then they'd be based upon a solid foundation of truth, and therefore would not be myth - or at least would have truth to go alongside the myth. Whatever.
Let me posit one more reason things will probably improve: The Lie is dead. There is no longer any ability for the government to keep big secrets from us. We used to have the three networks, one or two local papers, and that was basically it. They could keep lies from us. They could hide John Kennedy's philandering. In my state, Utah (unfortunately), the press kept the cigar chomping habits of Calvin Rampton, who was governor from 1964-76, from the public eye, and patted themselves on the back for doing so. The lie is dead, and that's why the Left can't hold onto power for any more than a single election cycle: 1992-1994, and 2008-2010.
"I think Beck is high jacking the Tea Party with religion. The Tea Party is economics oriented."
Maybe. But the business establishment is doing so, too, via Dick Armey and FreedomWorks. They will use it to justify making permanent the cap gains tax cut and the elimination of the estate tax, though neither actually increases economic growth, and doing so will hasten the day towards fiscal insolvency. They're also hijacking the movement to try to silence any talk of cutting off their supply of cheap labor.
Only really cheap DNA sequencing can kill the biggest lie of all. I figure that lie dies by 2015. But I'm in search of more expert knowledge on that point.
What's more interesting from our perspective about this Glenn Beck phenomenon is that "The Folks in Control," however one might characterize them in terms of race, status, class, wealth, geographic location or whatever, allowed our current situation to develop over arguably the last 50 - 100 years, and now there are complaints by a vocal group of concerned citizens.
Is it possible, as postulated by some, that the liberal, conservative, progressive, corporate and banking interests, and libertarian POWER FORCES in our society are laughing all the way to the bank, and that we minions with little money and power (the members of the Institute for Applied Common Sense included) are the ones complaining? And that because of new technological advances in communication and the power of the Internet, the voice of the minions is now being disseminated with greater force, essentially saying, "Stop! Enough is enough!"?
Furthermore, is this a case of the minions fighting for limited scraps at the bottom of the heap, while the real riches are controlled by a few? Have we at the bottom been pitted against one another?
Is this arguably a populist movement somewhat similar to the one led by "the Great Commoner," William Jennings Bryan at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Centuries?
Is what we are experiencing simply the most vocal expression of the perhaps 80% of we citizens at the bottom of the heap?
The general trend in the West since about 1979 has been for a shift to the right on economic issues like trade and taxation (lower income tax and higher GST) and a move to the left on social issues. This is due to a combination of industrial decline, liberal social views among elites, and an increasing percentage of welfare dollars going to minorities, causing an economic conservative backlash, of which the tea party is the latest example.
The problem that is starting to occur now though is that the white majority is shrinking to the point where the minorities are able to vote in governments which suit their interests, and poor or retired whites don't know who to support.
Eventually we are likely to reach a stage where the wealthy elites give up on democracy and there is a South America-style pattern where the poor mixed-raced masses support left-wing populist democrats and the wealthy respond by supporting pro-capitalist dictatorships.
just a bunch of damn molecules bumping into each other