Wednesday, January 23, 2013


It's a virtue don't you know! 

In my life I've observed a depressingly common tendency to very casually and matter-of-factly equate mental certainty with physical courage or strength.  Even on matters not necessarily related to politics religion or what have you.  In trying to understand why this is I am pointed towards the endorphin rush we all feel after having made a major life decision.  It is a feeling of great potency and liberation to decisively choose a college major, to quit smoking, to accept or reject a marraige proposal, etc, even if this is nothing more than feeling the power over ourselves that we have always had.  I can see how deciding that there must be one universal answer to questions of morality or politics can create a very similar high; a high that is if anything even more intense for creating the godlike sense of having invented the answer. 

 Of all the false certainties that people hold this you can be well assured of this unambiguous truth To embrace dogmatic belief for oneself is one in the same act as to demand this belief in others.  More essentially it is to assert the right to demand this belief in others.  It is to assert paternal lordship over others. 

When pundits express polite abhorrence at the dogmatic drift that the US right has taken over the years they express mainly confusion over why it continues despite being obviously bad politics.  Well it is that, and has probably contributed to the Reagan/Bush majority falling out several years before 'nature' would have dictated.  But it is a bad politics that is clung to not out of stratigic cunning but out of emotional need.  Over time the GOP position on say taxes has gradually morphed from that
of general skepticism to a fierce insistance that outright hostility to taxes has always been the American norm.  The reason for that shift is not cynical calculation by the puppetmasters at the top of right-wing media, but rather the need to feel entitled to tell others what the American norms are.  This is a need felt by the right-wing establishment and rank-and-file voters both alike, and it is this need that lies behind increased absolutism on taxes guns immigration or whatever else you can think of.  However much this increased dogmatism may have accelerated the loss of conservative hegemony it is all the same an invarible reaction against a loss that the smart set on both sides have long seen coming.  As the American right continues to lose actual power it increasingly has no other means of feeling powerful except to claim the exclusive right to dictate what the United States is to everyone now and forever.  That is what the "new' fundamentalism and obsession with doctrinal purity is all about; and it is only fitting that Wayne Lapierre, head of the Yankee chauvinist's most obvious expression of desperate defensiveness, should offer some window into this mindset of loss helplessness and fear.

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