Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tea Party Extremists? You Bet!

The word from the Democrats at this time of partial government shutdown is "Tea Party extremists" and "fairness."  And any Republican or conservative automatically winces.

Because we conservatives are not extremists, and we are not warring on fairness.  Are we?

Of course we are.  We want to reverse the century of progressivism, of administrative free stuff.  And you know what they call that?  Extreme.  And not just unfair to present government dependents, but cruel, unjust, and mean-spirited.

There is a word to describe who we are: Revolutionaries.

Anyone that wants a revolution is an extremist.  You are sidling up to that famous line in the Declaration of Independence, to "pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."  And indeed most of the signers of the Declaration did lose their lives and their fortunes to the American Revolution.

Jeffrey Lord makes things clear this morning.  It's a battle of the crusades he writes.
Mr. Obama and his friends are on a crusade to turn America ever further left than it was when they took charge...

For conservatives, this shutdown and the response to Obama is about nothing less than the life of America itself. A crusade to restore America to the constitutional republic it was designed to be.
But here is the point.  We, the conservatives and Tea Party extremists are the progressives, striving to create a new thing.  The Obamis and the liberals are the reactionaries, reverting back to the old thing.

OK.  What do I mean?

I mean that identity politics and the big man handing out the free stuff -- and 40% of Americans think that Obamacare is free -- is the old way.  You can see it in chimpanzee culture where the males conduct continuous border wars to enlarge the troop's territory.  The result is the free stuff, the food and fruit that is free for the taking for the females.  And the bigger the territory the more baby chimps that grow to maturity.

You can see the old way operating in Homer's Iliad.  Homer's warrior culture was a simple culture of loot and plunder.  And the plunder included well-born women.  The conflict at the heart of the Iliad is the argument between Agamemnon and Achilles over the woman Briseis.  Here's the Wiki story:
Briseis, a daughter of Briseus, was a princess of Lyrnessus... When Achilles led the assault on that city during the Trojan War, she was captured and her family (including her father, mother, three brothers, and husband) died at his hands.[2] She was subsequently given to Achilles as a war prize to be his concubine. In the Trojan War, captive women like Briseis were regarded as objects to be traded amongst the warriors.[3]
That's nice.

The other interesting thing about the Iliad is that the warriors assume, as a matter of course, that they must sacrifice cattle to gain the favor of the gods.  Whenever some warrior wins a fight, it is assumed that the gods are on his side, and the action of the Iliad is constantly interrupted while the gods decide who is to win the next round of the battle on the plains of Troy. 

Isn't that pretty well how Democratic politics works?  You need to "pay to play."  The name of the game is getting in power and using the power of government to hose pensions and subsidies at your supporters.  You use the tribal loyalties of "identity politics" to divide off your constituents from the overall nation, encouraging people to think of themselves as African-Americans, Hispanics, feminists, gays, rather that 100% Americans.  Wise experts decide who will win or lose.

But conservatives are different.  We are the heirs of a new thing that started around 3,000 years ago.  Karl Jaspers called it the Achsenzeit or Axial Age.  The new idea was that each individual had a personal covenant with God.  The relationship with God was no longer the supplicant buying favors with sacrifice, but a contract with God.  God is no longer playing favorites between the Greeks and the Trojans, as the mood takes him.  He is saying: here are the rules which both you and I should observe.

The Axial Age heralds the entry into history of what I call the People of the Responsible Self.  When you have a covenant with God then you are responsible for your life.  You cannot say, oh well, I would have been OK but the exploitation done me down.  You cannot say the capitalists or the Jews or the rich or the bankers are to blame.  You are responsible for your life, even in the face of evil and overwhelming power.

My guess is that this revolution in human consciousness was confined to the early cities.  It's in the city that each actor is individually responsible.  It's in the city that contract comes to the fore.  It's in the city that you start to deal with people who are not your kin.

And my guess is that the expansion of the new idea reflects the growth of the city.

But the revolution in consciousness is not easy.  It really is a complete turning over, the revaluation of all values.  That means it is an incredibly hard thing to do.  That's why, as soon as the Industrial Revolution got started, movements of reaction like Marxism and Fabianism began, each with a nostalgia for the comfort of the tribe, and the constant demonizing of the Other that is necessary in the eternal border wars of the hunter-gatherer and agricultural ages.

Only, of course, the old ways don't work any more.  They were perfect for the hunter-gatherer tribes with their hard-won territory, and the feudal states with their vulnerable grain stores.  You had to stick together and above all defend those borders.

We know the old ways don't work because the Soviets conducted an actual experiment in class tribalism and, after unimaginable cruelties, disintegrated in 1990.  We have Argentina, a perennial basket case of charismatic leadership and class warfare lurching from one devaluation to another.  We have Detroit.  We have Chicago coming up.  In the industrial age you simply can't operate on the old patronage/clientage model.

But we humans are still programmed to love that free stuff, and politics is still run on the old Homeric model: join with me and get your share of the spoils.  And so it is with the authoritarian welfare state.

We Tea Party extremists, we revolutionaries, we Few: we want to reverse the backwards lurch to the tribalism and serfdom of the authoritarian welfare state.  We are the People of the Responsible Self and we long for freedom, the freedom to do the responsible thing rather than kowtow to the knout of the welfare-state enforcement officer.

And that is why the battle is joined.  It's a fight to the finish between the nostaglic tribalism that goes under the name of "identity politics" and the universal freedom and responsibility of the thriving citizen in the thriving city.

Call me an extremist for the new way, the Way of the People of the Responsible Self.

No comments:

Post a Comment