Trend Spotting… (Stream of Consciousness - Part #1)
Ok, so I’m going to take an offshoot of the typical LGF pages that are focused more on news and current events. Consider this part 1 of an ongoing series of posts chronicling some more general themes that I’ve been meaning to put down on paper.
I’ve been planning on doing this for some time now, but the Sherrod meltdown has prompted me to take a more active look at what is going on in the tea parties. I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I wanted to look a little deeper into the larger causes of the nationalism that we are seeing with the tea party today.
I’ll preface by saying that, I’m really not a fan of crying “fascist.” This exercise should be considered more of a fact finding mission, than a trial and sentencing.
The article below was written in 2002 (well before the inception of the tea parties) regarding the far right political factions that formed in Western Europe in past decades. That said, even with just a casual read through the article, it’s nearly impossible not to make any connections to the modern political issues in the US. See if you spot any trends…
The similarities are blatant and go a long way towards explaining why the tea parties have taken such strong stances on immigration, civil rights, business rights, etc. I’ll highlight a few points from the treatise:
“Whereas many party families are characterised (sp) by common names - such as ‘communist’, ‘green’ or ‘socialist’ - the extreme right is more of an extended family in which different nomenclatures abound. Some of the parties do not even accept that they are right-wing, often claiming that they represent a ‘neither left nor right’/’third way’ position. A further classificatory problem stems from the fact that many of the parties, especially with fascist factions, have good reasons to hide their exact paternity. Partly as a result of this, there can be a disjunction between what is said in public and what appears to hold sway in a party’s inner circles…”
“Arguably the most common claim is that these parties are ‘anti-system.’
“Partly as a result of these problems, there has been a growing tendency to use the term ‘populist’ to refer to a subgroup of extremists parties or to a separate family. Most typically, the term ‘populism’ denotes a particular political style, including charismatic leadership and anti-establishment rhetoric… Both the emphasis on style and voter-oriented approaches divert attention from the fact the extreme right family of parties does have a common core doctrine. This is nationalism - which is often expressed through a demonisation (sp) of the ‘Other’ as much as by a precise definition of the sacred homeland. Indeed, this nationalism is sometimes implicit more than explicit, a reflection of the taboos which until recently have surrounded proselytising nationalist doctrine in some countries.”
“In some countries, where the state has arguably taken on too great a role in economic management, extreme right parties stress economic salvation through a more market economy.”
The article wraps up by pointing out the reasons why political movements and voters turn right:
“The above analysis points to three broad motives for turning to the extreme right. These are: the desire to find a new sense of belonging; the belief that it is economically rational to support at least some extreme right policies; and the influence of community norms… Turning the focus towards individual views of party and the political system reveals three further triggers. The extreme right tends to gather strength when: the insurgent party is perceived as in some ways legitimate; voting for it is seen as some way efficacious; and there is a notable loss of trust in the mainstream parties, even the entire system. The last of these - declining trust - has been a necessary condition for recent extremist breakthroughs…”
The portions quoted here don’t really do justice to just how thorough and well thought out this article is. Well worth a read of the full 18 pages.
As I mentioned, I’m not a fan of painting every tea party attendee or even all of the leadership as “Nazis” or “fascists” but I do believe it is important to learn from history and spot the trends. When the economy turns south, public sentiment starts to turn towards nationalism and the utter breakdown of the GOP has lent credibility to this far off the reservation movement pushing ideology and extremes, in lieu of actual solutions for the real world.
I also owe an apology to LVQ, as we’ve argued before on this topic. While I still hold that broad stroke accusations are not entirely helpful, I’m starting to see where that sentiment is coming from…