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Monday, June 7, 2010

Attention Tea Party: We are radicals, progressives and anarchists who have transforming this land on our mind.

Came across this article and found it to be very interesting. Please read and post your thoughts, comments, questions, etc. -s

Re-posted from Spots in the Sky

Attention Tea Party: We are radicals, progressives and anarchists who have transforming this land on our mind.
April 23, 2010

On the importance of identifying and pro-actively confronting the emerging reactionary movement in the United States.

If I were not the aforementioned bogeyman I would definitely be somewhat afraid. See, Glenn Beck is right, we are everywhere and we really do want it all. When I say want it all I mean all of the issues on the table. No compromising anymore. If you own a corporation that pollutes, we want to cut right into your profit, take it away and turn your shop green. You know what, scratch that, we think your workers deserve most of that profit. Sorry, maybe you’ll have better luck next time. It gets worse. No compromise at all in terms of gay marriage. Do you want to know the interesting thing about gay marriage for many of us? Of course we want civil rights for everyone, no compromise there either. But generally we have a strong disdain for religion, most likely your religion. Speaking only for myself, I am fully, 100 percent aware that allowing gay people to be accepted as members of our society shakes your organized religious experience to its core. Great.

The Tea Party and what it stands for

Reactionary movements are always around, at certain periods in history more active than not. Pick any of these currents from around the world, the social and political aim is always the same;

“defense of the existing social norm and traditional power in society.”

It makes sense then that these movements will be most active during times of upheaval and change. It is at these times when the old, traditional foundations of society are being shook. The Tea Party along with other socially conservative elements are utilizing the language of reaction, it certainly does not take long to find it. Even the more moderate, umbrella organizations have the basic creed of “defending a constitutionally limited government” and “free market.” This is nothing new of course, politicians and the more privileged among us always defend the free market indefinitely. They have the most to lose when it is threatened.

As unwavering support for the free market is a defense of the economic status quo, agitation for a constitutionally limited government is a defense of the social one. A convenient way of refusing to accept social change for a limited time until federal and state power is wielded by the right. The absolute rejection of progressive ideals through campaigns of intimidation and fear. The defense of God and Nationalism by those who benefit, this is the Tea Party and more so, it is the face of the reaction.

Beyond the Liberal and Democratic Party consensus

I should make clear that the grassroots Tea Party groups and individuals not only speak the reactionary language, they represent it. From the inception of this movement the left was quick to write it off, claiming that it was Astroturf. A fictional representation of the Republican party base that only existed due to corporate money and free television publicity. How incredibly disingenuous and naive! In a short amount of time the United States has gone through massive upheaval both in social and economic terms. To think that a massive loss of wealth, and beginnings of United States loss of global dominance will not cause a rift in society is not only foolish but dangerous.

Are Television and Radio stations actively promoting the reactionary agenda? Yes. Are there big business and rich conservative supporters behind the Tea Party movement? Of course. Does this mean it is fictional? No. These are simply the people who make up the movement along with many other individuals who intend to defend their interests.

We need to apply this to all liberal critiques. Of course there are racist, homophobic, sexist and all sorts of close minded individuals in the tea party movement. The defense of tradition, god and country will attract people who want to defend these values. Although, this does not mean the countless liberal commentators who claim the movement is the new KKK or dominated by those obsessed with race is true. Claiming it to be is just an easy way to cast aside the actual implications of a broad based social movement determined to move backwards.

It may also be amusing to focus on the seemingly inane statements coming from the figureheads and members of the reactionary movement. Simply, can we afford to ignore this political force because they say things that are illogical? If we are so aware of history, we should clearly know this is a poor idea. The arguments that people like Glenn Beck make, who many on the right revere, are not intended to make good points or convince the masses. In fact, these arguments give voice to a segment of American society that cannot truly say for differing reasons, what is on their mind.

The Democratic Party is a really big part of the problem. The Democrats have managed to convince way to many people that they represent left leaning interests. Even anarchists who understand the implications of electoral politics fall for it time and time again. This phony-progressivism creates an officially sanctioned monopoly on ideas, arguments and strategy. And the official Democratic Party strategy for dealing with the Tea Party is? Move along folks, nothing to see here but a bunch of freaks and weirdos. The reason being is simple, an actual progressive argument against the reactionary majority of the Tea Party would undermine the Democratic Party agenda.

Heads up friends, this stuff is serious

Right now we have groups of libertarians, conservatives, disaffected voters, business owners, middle and working class people coalescing around right wing ideology. Their leaders are attacking both ideas and groups of people. Progressives, leftists and immigrants along with Health Care and Internet Neutrality legislation are fascistic and Anti-American. The current economic collapse and resulting bank bailouts are to blame squarely on Marxist ideology.

Hundreds of thousands of people have joined in street demonstrations across the country under this banner. Organizations that are generally supported by the left such as Acorn have been shut down while many more are under attack. Representatives are already being elected by reactionary currents. The Democratic Party along with Obama has been unable to carry out the change promised due to right wing electoral procedure, propaganda and direct action.

There has not been a movement like this in the United States for some time, and it is gaining steam. It is essential to understand that this is something new and different than the normal reaction to a new political administration. The Tea Party does not intend to strengthen the Republican Party, they want to become the Republican Party.

Completely possible scenarios nobody wants to think about

The reactionary movement has strengthened right wing elements in the United States. In doing so many elected and aspiring politicians have aligned themselves with the Tea Party. As we know, many of these political figures are adopting and promoting even the most incendiary rhetoric. This is not a political ploy for more votes. It is instead the new and emerging voice of the Republican Party.

The Tea Party folks may be in the streets, active at town halls and even organizing outside official channels but their strategy is essentially an electoral one. This electoral strategy is made up of multiple tactics:

Block all efforts by the Democratic Party that do not benefit the right
Influence and intimidate(through loss of votes) elected officials to adopt Tea Party positions
Elect new representatives that come from the Tea Party and other reactionary currents
This overall strategy seems to be working. The Democrats, due to wishy washy tendencies and outright fear of electoral repercussions have been unable to put forth a clear agenda. This has allowed the right to galvanize and the Democrats to lose supporters, the same supporters that propelled Barack Obama into the electorate. The Democrats are set to lose out in a few short months, when they do, say goodbye to any chance of promised change or reform. This will set into motion a scenario that includes a dissolution of the activist base that was already weary of the Democratic Party line.

The gaining voice of the new opposition through official channels will consistently attack progressive legislation, ideas and voices in order to satisfy their supporters. There will be no lightening of rhetoric. Under this scenario there is no way the Democrats hold onto the presidency in 2012. The political conventions will be a true turning point for American democracy. The Democrats, unable to come to terms with themselves will be in complete melt down. Republicans on the other hand, will put forth a right wing agenda that has been witnessed many times throughout history. The defense of god and tradition, the promotion of nationalism and business. A display of the worst aspects of American history and culture.

When reaction dominates, everything is at stake

Net neutrality is the general theory that Internet providers should stay out of regulating content. Meaning that your cable company is not allowed to tell you that Google is more important than Yahoo. It is a good place to start in terms of issues that are at stake and threatened. Since the beginning of mass availability to Internet access the free flow of information has not only hurt corporate America but has shaken the whole foundation of traditional American society. Is it really surprising that Tea Party figureheads have deemed net neutrality socialist and anti American?

It is an incredibly important focal point, not only because it threatens access to information, but it seems far fetched that the Internet could indeed be threatened. Something basic, the unregulated digital world that a generation now takes for granted is under attack. This is indeed part of the program, reel in this free space, bring it under control. As the printing press threatened the ruling classes centuries ago, the Internet threatens them today.

The Tea Party has came out decisively against projects and services apart from the free market that help the poor. Don’t be fooled though, the idea here is not to weaken the state and move these services towards capitalist ventures. It instead represents the desire to cut the programs completely. From public education to welfare. Of course we never hear from the right that the military and prisons need a cut in funding. If we cut the defense and prisons budget where would all the poor people who are jobless with no help or recourse go? Do not expect non governmental organizations or unions to help either, we already know what happens when organizations such as Acorn draw the ire of the Tea Party movement.

We can only assume that groups making inroads towards greater civil rights will not fare well. Immigrants are already being scapegoated and attacked. Gays and Lesbians, even with mass support have watched as the little rights they do have are taken away. The right of women to have domain over their bodies has always been under attack. It can be assumed at the very least, that certain states dominated by the new right will have success restricting these rights.

The groundswell of reactionary sentiment has been building well before the last election. We quickly forget how right wing ideologues went after Ward Churchill, an American Indian activist and professor. How during the economic collapse, instead of blaming the bankers and big business the right singled out poor people who should have known better. Or the backwards religious zealots across the country campaigning against the teaching of evolution.

I am not suggesting we are heading towards a black hole, an inevitable confrontation with an authoritarian anti progressive state. The general state of society is much more positive than it seems. The wealth of information younger generations have had access to has created a situation very difficult for the right wing in society to battle against. The older generation of progressives and radicals who have held it down over the years and gave us guidance are still a force in and of itself. So we come to this juncture; the old society ready to fight for their world and the rest of us, who are ready to move forward.

We are radicals, progressives and anarchists who have a new world in our hearts

For everyone who has been fighting, struggling, arguing and supporting the new freedoms and ideas springing up over the past decade it is not even a question what side we are on. There has been many dips and turns we have found ourselves in. There are so many people who really get it, who are ready to push forward the changes that we feel are absolutely necessary. We may as a group understand that gay rights, immigrant rights, the environmental movement and anti-prison movement are all connected but no matter how pie in the sky it sounds, our efforts are not connected. And why should they be? For so long business, the Democrats and Republicans have criticized and shut down any organizing outside their realm.

It is way past time to quit being shy and engage each other in actual discussion. Radical activists who many see as rigid, professor like and PC need to step outside their box and talk to people who may not agree with all tenets of your philosophy. Those who tout the stereotypical idea of the “activist” need to realize that without direct action, speaking up and organizing outside the Internet we will not be ready for the challenges ahead. And it is a shame that we are so many but at the same time so insulated. Let us move past the dogma, realize that we all come from different places and build on it. When we do that, we are ready.

A proactive strategy to engage the Tea Party and build a new response

The reaction is not a united entity. Many in the movement are looking for the same answers that we are and that has to be recognized. The Libertarian party types who are there with us when we talk about the surveillance state, prisons and defense are ripe for engagement. As a whole we need to articulate our position and provide an alternative platform. More so, in our writings, arguments and organizing we need to present a clear position as to why the right wing reaction does not make sense for them. It is my personal opinion that as the Tea Party develops into a more cohesive force after the elections, the libertarians who are part of it will drop out. The social conservative and false small government ideology will become much to clear for them.

More importantly, the Tea Party has attracted so many regular non party affiliated Americans who are sick of the bank bail outs and two party government. People looking for answers to the problems that nobody is willing to answer for. We can think of it like religion whereas it gives people hope but can also lead down a dangerous path. This path is pushing working class Americans towards anti progressive, nationalist ideology. The blame is shouldered by many who held out hope that the Democratic party would be able to provide an alternative. It has not, it will not, it is time for us to do so.

Holding meetings that provide counter arguments and solutions to the reactionary agenda outside the Democratic and Republican spectrum. Writing, discussing and responding in ways that counter the conservative myths as to why the big parties gave bailouts to the rich. If we can handle limited and basic counter organizing we can at the very least slow the momentum of the right. And at best we can peel away sections of the American public to our side.

Moving forward towards the long term

No matter how it looks, the old society, however hard they fight will lose out in the end. It is up to us to not only defend our ideals but be prepared to put them into practice. If we do not, it may be decades before even our basic hopes and desires become reality. Beyond the Democrats or Republicans, we know the world we must win starts from the bottom. The more of us there are, when millions are on the streets determined to fight for it all, that is when we win.