Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Tea Party: fascism, or therapy?

Jared Loughner's bloody attack on Gabrielle Giffords and a random group of her constituents in Tucson has understandably prompted a great deal of comment from both the left and the right of the blogosphere.

Over at The Standard, which probably nowadays counts as New Zealand's most popular left-wing website, a couple of bloggers and scores of commenters have argued that Loughner's shooting spree presages an explosion of violence from America's far right. The Standard's line on the Tucson shootings is not particularly original. Many left-wing websites in America have warned that the right wing of the Republican Party, and the Tea Party movement in particular, represent the beginnings of a mass fascist movement which may well attempt to seize political power by force of arms.

There are certainly actions by leading members of the Tea Party movement which can be invoked to support the sort of analysis put forward by The Standard. Sarah Palin's decision to put gun sights around portraits of Giffords and some of her other political enemies has been justifiably criticised in the aftermath of the Tucson massacre, and Tea Party favourite Sharron Angle's talk of finding 'second amendment remedies' to America's problems has also become infamous. There are hundreds of blogs, some of them quite popular, which couple support for the Tea Party with calls for violence against Obama's 'communist' government.

It seems to me, though, that commentators who present the Tea Party as some sort of nearly-unstoppable movement, motivated by a sharply-drawn ideology and ready to launch a civil war in America, are giving Sarah Palin and her friends far too much credit. The Tea Party is in reality a fragmentary, chaotic, and ideologically very confused response to the continuing decline of America as an economic and geopolitical power. The Tea Party is filled with people who want to escape from reality, not change reality.

As I noted last year, the very incoherence of the Tea Party's rhetoric - its frequent condemnations of Obama as a 'fascist communist, or a 'Muslim Nazi', and even a 'corporate-loving socialist' - point to its essential lack of seriousness. The Tea Party supposedly demands massive cuts to government spending, but neither its leaders nor its rank and file membership have been able to specify in much detail which areas of spending they want to cut. Elderly Tea Partiers rail against Obama's healthcare legislation as an evil plot against America, but are aghast at the suggestion that their own state-funded Medicare programme ought to be abolished. Sarah Palin poses as a champion of ultra-small government, but as governor of Alaska she was happy to keep that state's most profitable asset in public hands, and to continue the almost Keynesian economic policies of her predecessors. The reaction of the Tea Partiers to the criticism they have received in the aftermath of the Tucson attack shows the hollowness of the aggressive rhetoric that sometimes appears in their speeches and on their blogs. If they were serious about pursuing a 'second amendment' remedy to Obama's government, the Tea Partiers would surely have offered some sort of tactical support to Loughner, or at least have accompanied condemnations of his killing of bystanders in Tucson with a justification for his attack on Giffords.

The fact is, though, that even the most overexcited Tea Party activists and bloggers - the sort of people who call for Obama's trial and execution, or for his deporation to Kenya, or for a 'Second American revolution' against his policies - have reacted with horror to the suggestion that they might have anything to do with, or any sympathy for, Loughner's spree. Palin's complaint that she has been subjected to a 'blood libel' by the liberal sections of America's media perfectly sums up the outraged self-pity of the keyboard and megaphone warriors of the American right.

The recent statements of one of Sarah Palin's staunchest Kiwi fans can be used to demonstrate the essential unseriousness of the movement she leads. In recent years, a Tauranga resident named Russell Fletcher, who uses the nom de plume 'Redbaiter' for political activities, has gained notoreity for the frequency and intemperance of his polemics against 'liberal fascists' and 'creeping communism' on popular centre-right websites like David Farrar's Kiwiblog.

Fletcher, who considers even John Key and Judith Collins 'cultural Marxists', has long denounced the timidity of most right-wing blogs, and recently established his own rival to them, which he calls, appropriately enough, True Blue NZ. A gun and the slogan 'Don't run - you'll only die tired' grace the upper right hand corner of the home page of Fletcher's site.

Egged on by a gaggle of Tea Party visitors and by one or two local fundamentalist Christians, 'Redbaiter' has repeatedly cast his eye beyond New Zealand and endorsed the notion of a violent struggle against Obama's 'communist' regime, while at the same time talking about Sarah Palin in almost desperately passionate terms. In a post made shortly before the Tucson shootings Fletcher really let rip:

There has been a bit of talk around about a civil war...I think its long overdue. These poisonous communist bastards are out to destroy the US from the inside. They have been tolerated too long. Its time to defend the Constitution, or abandon the Constitution. The choice is that simple, and there really is no choice. The Constitution must be defended, and therefore its time to recognize the Democrat Party and their supporters as traitors and fifth columnists and take whatever action is necessary to restore the correct degree of respect for the Constitution and the freedoms it protects. I’m not in the US these days, but anytime you guys over there feel like really starting something, just let me know. I’ll be there with bells on...

I’m well aware the Republican Party has its fair share of anti-Constitution traitors too. It too is basically a vehicle for the imposition of cultural Marxism. That is essentially what the Tea Party is all about. Countering that Marxist influence in the Republican Party and everywhere else.

We might reasonably assume, on the basis of this and many similar statements on his site, that Fletcher approves, at least in principle, of violent attacks on senior political allies of Obama like Gabrielle Giffords. In the aftermath of the Tucson attack, though, Fletcher began to protest indignantly that he was a man of peace, that Sarah Palin was being unfairly associated with bellicosity, and that leftists were the real advocates and exponents of political violence.

It would be unfair to accuse Russell Fletcher of hypocrisy, or even of chutzpah. Like the rest of the other armchair warriors who characterise Obama as some sort of cross between Hitler and Stalin and issue ever-shriller calls to arms, he is engaged in a sort of therapy, not in politics. And, for all his sabre-rattling and his calls for a war against the left, Fletcher suffers from an ideological incoherence as great as that of Palin and the rest of the stateside Tea Partiers. On the homepage of his website, beside the gun and the slogan which threatens leftists with death, is a quote from that lifelong socialist George Orwell.

To get a real sense of the meaning of the Tea Party movement we ought to drop the comparisons with Hitler's Stormtroopers or Mosely's Blackshirts, and instead consider the deep similarities which connect Palin and her fans to their supposed opponents on the liberal side of American politics.

It may seem counterintuitive to suggest that Sarah Palin and Barack Obama and their respective sets of supporters have much in common. Palin and Obama are certainly, in many respects, very different people. Obama is a cosmopolitan intellectual who likes nothing better than to slip into the White House's extensive library; Palin is a backwoods ignoramus who didn't have a passport until 2007, and who was famously unable to name a newspaper during a 2008 interview. The grassroots movement which gathered around Obama in 2007 and 2008 drew its members from America's big cities and universities; the Tea Party movement Palin leads is strongest in rural and small town America.

But there are interesting similarities between Obama and Palin. Both were obscure figures who became, in a very short time, objects of veneration for sections of the American population; both won their support not with nuanced political arguments but with essentially apolitical rhetoric about national crisis and national salvation; and both continue to avoid any detailed discussion of the real problems which face their country. Neither Palin nor Obama is ever likely to make the crisis of profitability of American manufacturing, the export of jobs to Asia, the long-term fall in the average American wage, the rise of China and India as world powers, and America's loosening grip on regions like the Middle East and South America into the subject of a speech. Instead, they both like to appeal, in their different ways, to a mystical American national 'soul', and to a mythical American history. Both are heirs to a very American tradition of political evangelism.

And both Obama and Palin owe their success to a popular desire to evade rather than confront the problems that America faces. With the end of the Cold War twenty years ago, the wilting of the radical section of the US labour movement, and the decline of a left-wing intelligentsia which once appeared so dynamic, the space in which American capitalism used to be critically analysed has largely disappeared. There is a sad irony at work here. In the 1960s and '70s, when American capitalism was still in rude health, campuses and the streets were full of radical political scientists, economists, and sociologists ready to diagnose the ills of the system, and prescribe alternatives to it; today, when capitalism is obviously failing tens of millions Americans, as factories close, whole suburbs are abandoned in cities like Detroit, Baltimore, and Flint, and Chinese and Indian investors snap up properties at mortgagee sales, there is an almost total absence of serious discussion of the travails of the nation's hegemonic mode of production. In the absence of such discussion, confused and frightened citizens turn towards the rhetoric of messianic figures like Obama and Palin. Politics becomes therapy. The aggressive political talk of the Tea Party is comparable to the fire and brimstone rhetoric of the fundamentalist churches many of its members favour. Just as a happy clappy congregation's love for God is heightened by the contemplation of the Devil and his domain, so the Tea Party's celebrations of an idealised America are intensified by a contemplation of another, fallen America - a hellish America of welfare queens and drug dealers and flagburning protesters and perverted college teachers and corrupt trade unionists. Because of his skin colour, his geographical and sociological support bases, and his air of intellectual arrogance, Obama has come to symbolise this 'other' America for many Tea Partiers. For Obama's hardcore supporters, who are just as prone to hysteria as the Tea Partiers, Palin has become, especially in the aftermath of the Tucson shootings, a sort of rival devil, the leader of an America where Klansmen stand before burning crosses and Darwin is banned from schools and gun nuts shoot at anything that comes within a hundred metres of their fortified homes.

EP Thompson liked to talk about the way that, faced with the economic crises and challenges to British economic and political power created by the French Revolution and later by the Napoleonic Wars, both rich and poor Britons took refuge in hysteria. While the upper classes raged against the perfidy of a handful of 'Jacobite' intellectuals who supported the French revolution, and furiously appealed to a non-existent 'national spirit', the poor escaped from their plight into the new creed of Methodism, which rejected calls for social justice and political reform in favour of hysterical but vague appeals to moral renewal.

In his masterpiece The Making of the English Working Class, Thompson argued that the 'psychic masturbation' represented by Methodism and similar escapes from reality helped explain the failure of British society to reform or revolutionise itself in the nineteenth century. It seems to me that both the Tea Party and its opponents on America's liberal left are practising forms of 'psychic masturbation', rather than engaging with and suggesting solutions for the very serious problems which are behind America's decline as a world power. By buying into the rhetoric of Obama's supporters, blogs like The Standard obscure the real nature of the Tea Party and, by extension, the real situation of American society in the second decade of the twenty-first century.


Anonymous blunt truth-teller said...

As a practical thinker, one not overly prone to emotional decisions, I have a choice: I can either believe what the objective pieces of evidence tell me (even if they make me cringe with disgust); I can believe what history is shouting to me from across the chasm of seven decades; or I can hope I am wrong by closing my eyes, having another drink, and ignoring what is transpiring around me.


Understand that there isn't any smugness in that knowledge. The duties attendant on being the custodian of that knowledge don't leave a lot of room for smug.

9:01 am  
Anonymous blunt truth-teller said...

People, there is a reason why mankind are sheep. Throughout time, we as mankind have been led astray. By Satan himself, false idols, and false Christs like Obama. This has been written in the Bible and it is so true. Nothing can be done about it anyway, it will happen. As sheep we have and will be led astray until the end. God has warned us of what is too happen in the end times. Then wait and listen for the time and be ready. As Jesus said, keep your robe clean. All I know is, Jesus doesn't know the time or the hour or day. He will come back as a thief in the night. There have been many Anti-Christs but only one true Satan in the flesh. Obama.

9:19 am  
Anonymous blunt truth-teller said...

One more thing everyone. This video should put to rest this debate on whether or not Obama is the antichrist. It contains never before seen information PROVING that Obama fits EVERY SINGLE Biblical description of the antichrist. He also admits it in his backwards "Yes we can" song. He admits causing the oil spill, he refers to himself as our "soul christ", he talks about the mark of the beast, and World War 3. PLEASE help get this out there.If someone got this public, it could save so many people.

9:25 am  
Anonymous ray said...

Wow, just read the comments
I have no publishable comment on them


I read blogs of the left and right and I think you have made more sense than the lot
I am really enjoying your work keep it up

10:33 am  
Blogger Scott said...

Nice. A good analysis of the essential incoherence of the Tea Party movement.

12:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet again Maps has sounded the trumpet of rightousness and will seek to conquer the evil that is facism !

You really are a prime example of "Godwin's law" at work.

2:32 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Cheers Ray. You don't read very carefully, do you anon? Godwin's law is meant to apply to people who needlessly bring analogies with Hitler into an argument, but I criticised the claim that Palin and the Tea Party represent some incipient fascist movement. Such a claim vastly overrates their ideological coherence and seriousness. They're far to be silly and self-contradictory be summed up by any -ism.

3:01 pm  
Anonymous Redbaiter said...

Pathetic. So many factually incorrect assertions and so many other incorrect assertions made simply upon the basis of political pig ignorance and bigotry make it so clear that all one needs to do today to earn a PhD is to agree with the political persuasions of your Professors.

Really. Just third grade rubbish, so bad it does not even warrant counter argument.

4:34 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"Really. Just third grade rubbish, so bad it does not even warrant counter argument."

And that's being unduly charitable. What a hopeless collection of false assumptions, half-truths and deliberate omissions!
There's more than one way to lie, more than one way to deny reality and this blog post demonstrates that perfectly.

5:33 pm  
Blogger AHD said...

Would you say, Redbaiter, that you're not proffering a logical counter argument because you can't make one?

Out of all the abuse of Maps so far in these comments, not one person has actually demonstrate how and why he is 'wrong'.

6:24 pm  
Anonymous Nemesis said...

I have read this post and find it a well written and thought out article that instead of providing evidentiary examples puts forward the authors opinion based obviously on what the author believes. Also, in the authors summation of the Tea Party movement nothing is written in the article that is remotely factual regarding this grass roots movement.

If the Tea Party is so incoherent as this author has suggested, how is it that there are now 63 extra Republican Congressmen and women in the House of Reps than there were before November 2? Which BTW has been regarded as a landslide not witnessed for nearly 70 years. And which organization was responsible for most of those congressmnen being elected?

The author has labelled the right, and I'm guessing as meaning conservatives, as being the instigators of violence and likens them to fascist organizations. In my opinion the authors lack of knowledge of the political spectrum belies his ignorance when labelling any group right of centre as being fascist.

Maybe the author could also study up on politics before labelling any groups as having fascistic tendencies.

6:42 pm  
Blogger maps said...


I think the essential otherworldliness of the Tea Partiers and their ilk is shown by some of the comments in this thread.

As I say repeatedly in the post, I'm quite clearly differentiating my opinion from that of many other people on the left, by disputing the argument that the Tea Party as some ideologically monolithic and militant movement. I explicitly distance my interpretation of the Tea Party that put forward by, for instance, The Standard.

This is, despite what Redbaiter may believe, how political discussion on the left (and indeed most parts of the right) works: people put forward competing analyses of events and ideas and argue the toss.

Is there anyone else on the left, in the USA or in this country, who has put forward the same view of Tea Party as the one contained in this post? Perhaps someone has - I don't think it's a wildly original point of view - but I haven't seen it.

Being committed to the presupposition that the left is a monolithic and evil force whose brainwashed operatives relentlessly put forward certain memes, though, Redbaiter and KG accuse me not of putting forward my own point of view but of echoing some sort of party line - and of echoing the opinions of the poor old professors who, back in the mists of time, had to supervise and mark my PhD!

I don't know what we can possibly do to disavow Redbaiter and his ilk of the their belief that the left is an evil and monolithic army, because the belief has a therapeutic rather than practical political purpose. It makes them feel all strong and righteous. I suspect that nothing makes Redbaiter more uneasy than the idea that leftists are as idealistic and confused and human as the vast majority of people with one or another shade of right-wing opinions. The fantasy of firing lead at commies in a civil war doesn't seem to trouble Redbaiter, but I think the idea of having a friendly beer with a socialist in his local down in Tauranga would terrify him.

As an aside, I doubt whether the man who supervised my PhD, the brilliant Professor Ian Carter, has any opinion of the Tea Party, or has even heard of them: his nearly all-consuming passion is trains!

6:59 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Hi Nemesis,

you're quite right when you say I'm having a bit of a stab at the subject of the Tea Party and American politics without doing an exhaustive empirical study. I was really just frustrated at the analysis which has put forward by much of the left - I use The Standard's stuff as an example - and wanted to present an alternative point of view. People can fill it out with more data or revise it or try to refute it as they wish.

I have in fact studied fascism and written and spoken about it in various places, and in the post you're commenting on I argue that the Tea Party is not some incipient fascist movement. I don't think the Tea Party is a politically coherent movement, and I don't think the undeniable sabre-rattling of some of its members - the talks of second amendment remedies and the rhetoric about civil war and so on - are to be taken seriously.

You argue that the Tea Party's political coherence is shown by the way many politicians it supports have just been elected to the House of Representatives. But the Tea Party doesn't control these politicians, in the way an ordinary political party controls its MPs. It simply endorsed them.
And the newly-elected members of the House are already backsliding on how much they want to cut government spending and the deficit, inviting Tea Party criticism. In six months they'll be as damned as traitors.

As Michael Tomasky and several other journalists have noted, the Tea Party is actually quite a small movement. Many of its 'grassroots chapters' have already withered to a website and, at best, a handful of members. Many of the members it does have are, like Redbaiter, content to do their political 'activism' (I argue that it's really a form of therapy) online, in splendid isolation from the real world.

Today the Republican Party as a whole has only half the membership of the Democrats. I don't think the Tea Party is anywhere near as significant as the explicitly Christian moral majority that supported Reagan in the '80s and was reanimated by Bush jnr in 2004.

What defines the Tea Party is not political importance but its incoherence and its apocalyptic rhetoric. It has none of the unity of vision and tight organisation and political nous of the old grassroots groups put together by Reagan and Bush jnr. As I noted in my post, its own members are unable to explain in any detail what they concretely want to do with America, and its own leader, Sarah Palin, pursued an interventionist, redistributionist path when she was governor of Alaska. In fact, her economic policies as governor were well to the left of those pursued by the evil communist Obama in Washington. Such is the irrationality of American politics in the twenty-first century...

7:25 pm  
Anonymous Redbaiter said...

"Would you say, Redbaiter, that you're not proffering a logical counter argument because you can't make one?"

Someone suffering from a low degree of natural comprehension might assume that, I will concede.

However, we on the right are under no obligation to travel the net dealing with the delusional world views of a multitude of deranged leftists. They are so numerous and their delusions so remote from reality and so deep seated, it would be hard to think of a more unrewarding or boring or infinite task.

This damn fool boasts of his PhD, and by that boast automatically declares himself to be a person suffering psychological problems, and that is a shame, because really, a PhD used to mean something, but has nowadays been rendered almost worthless by means of so many untalented by rote mentally suspect buffoons like Maps who have managed to scam their way to receiving one.

Let's just take one example herein. Your hero with the Phd makes the bold and irrevocable statement that Redbaiter is the person referred to in the newspaper article by Gordon McClauchlan. Ask him to explain how he came to this conclusion, and how he was able to use the powers of reasoning he should possess if his PhD is worth anything at all, to arrive at this conclusion.

He is ready to so boldly make this assertion with no doubt as to its fact or fiction, so ask him. He should have no problem explaining the path of logic by which he arrived at this certainty.

I suggest that his will provide you with the essence of truth you ask for, and show that Maps is just a low intellect repeater of opinion and ideas initiated by others and that he has no real ability to complete any logical analysis involving reason and truth himself.

He's just another brain damaged incompetent leftist, repeating the words of other brain damaged leftists, and we have no ambition to argue with such a plague of fools, only to remove them from where they do such unending damage to our civilisation and our liberty.

8:25 pm  
Anonymous blunt truth-teller said...

book of the apocolipse states that satan will rise again in the form of the underdog of the time. he is black and muslim,obvious enough. It also states that he will only be visited by his father a few tiems in his life and will leave him during childhood years. his father died before he reached ten. It prophasised that after this he would never see his father again, his father died (appaently).. It states that will come as the percieved saviour and all will be enchanted by his charm. come on! we do not know everything. these prophesies did not come from no where, and if they did they are very coincidental and also very convincing, that is, to anyone who is not blinded by media and holly wood endorsements. he has not done the job we all expected. he has blatently reneaged on promises that he made before he got elected. it could be said he is no different to any other politicion but then again they didnt get cut the same amount of slack as he has. he knew all to well what mess the country was in but made those promises anyway. FOR POWER.

8:44 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Redbaiter, your identity as Russell Fletcher is pretty common knowledge - I just offered a hyperlink to give an idea about the background to your views and some of the ways you communicate them.

And, as I noted, I was explicitly disagreeing with the analysis of the Tea Party which seems most popular on the left at the moment, and putting forward my own interpretation. You won't agree, of course, agree with that interpretation, but you can hardly accusing me of 'relaying' the views that others on the left have offered on this subject.

I've seen your comments on various blogs, and I think the ironic thing about your vituerpation is that it is so all-consuming that it ceases to be vituperative, and acquires a strangely neutral quality.

You expend enormous energy polemicisng against 'Marxism', but you consider so many people, from figures in the National government and in the Republican Party leftwards, to be Marxists that the term loses all meaning. You pile on the insults, using this and that adjective against your opponents, but forget that insults only get their impact if they are used judiciously. The law of diminshing returns applies to vituperation, as well as economics. Perhaps one day you'll decide that thinking is better than raving.

I'm pleased that we do seem to share an enthusiasm for that fine old socialist George Orwell!

8:57 pm  
Anonymous Redbaiter said...

There you have it AHD. Just as I predicted, Maps has no other basis for his prejudicial pronouncements other than what he terms "common knowledge", the same old Goebellian system that states that if enough people say something, no matter that it has no rational or factual basis, it must be true.

He has no ability to analyze information and arrive at his own facts, his worldview is based on assuming that what others have said is true, and he is happy to go on repeating whatever he is told without researching the truth.

He is just a cheap violin being played in a cheap orchestra of fools being conducted by evil. He knows nothing of truth and he can tell you nothing.

Learn well from this revelation, and do not be so ready to buy into the words of such weak posturing charlatans, for they will without doubt lead you far astray. As he has done for you here.

9:11 pm  
Blogger Sanctuary said...

Oh come on. Goebellian? Is that even a word? I bet you used that word in therapy to try and impress the receptionist, didn't ya Russ? You old scallywag you! But before you get tooooo carried away with courting the nice lady at the clinic counter, just remember most nurses vote Labour. Just sayin'.

maps, whilst I agree that the tea party is ideologically inchoate and engaged in 'psychic masturbation' I am not so sanguine as you as to whether or not it shall always remain so.

One of the most worrying aspects of the whole "redbaiter right" psychopathy is the objectification of "liberals" and "progressives". Further, whilst the tea party is ideologiclly confused, that may just offer a demagogue an oppoertunity to be all things to all men.

The general Fin de siècle atmosphere in the USA, of in a decadent society decline, of a middle class in crisis, and of a polarised society increasingly held together only by one shared institution - the military - has more than a passing similarity to the ingredients of the political crisis in the late Weimar Republic.

9:35 pm  
Blogger maps said...

But your name is Russell Fletcher, Redbaiter. I've talked to people who knew you back in the infancy of political discussion the New Zealand internet in the '90s.

The fact that you, along with so many Tea Party-aligned web warriors, can't even own up to your identity underlines the point my post makes about your essential lack of political seriousness. If you were genuinely interested in building a political movement to change the world you'd be eager for people to know who you were, get in touch, and join you in real activities offline. But I think the idea of actually engaging in the messiness of real-world politics, with its need for manifestoes and debates and careful analysis, would terrify you. You're in your comfort zone here on the internet, fulminating at the forces of evil and talking darkly about civil wars from behind a moniker, knowing that you'll never have to back up any of your words. You're roleplaying, in other words, and there are many in the Tea Party like you.

9:36 pm  
Anonymous Redbaiter said...

Your PhD is worthless. You boast of earning it when you cannot reason your way to even the most simple and patently false assertion you have made on this page.

Like all leftists, you are a liar and a deceiver and a fool in the thrall of bigger liars and bigger deceivers and bigger fools.

Your original post was reinforced by an irritating smugness and assumed superiority but by the time of your last comment defending it, you have degenerated into a flailing wailing fisher wife.

Don't mess with the big boys little fellah. Go back to school and get a real education before you ever think of trying it again.

First though, do something about that low IQ and that appallingly naive gullibility, and stay in your delusional and cheap gossip mongering brain dead comfort zone until you can.

9:49 pm  
Anonymous Nemesis said...

Hello Maps. Your take on the Tea Party is either badly misinformed or you are in complete denial of the effect this movement has had on American politics. Your inference that the Party is withering on the vine is so far of the mark that it smacks of ignorance. Why is it do you believe that the mouthpieces for the radical left came out with guns blazing only hours after the Tucson massacre? That reaction speaks volumes, in my opinion, as the instability and insecurity of the American Left who can see their dream of socializing America evaporate before their very eyes.

Your referral to the political rhetoric fails to mention that kind of talk is issued by both of sides of politics, the more radical language can usually be tied to a Democrat member or one of their media mouthpieces. I've heard that communist bastard Obama say 'if they bring a knife-we'll bring a gun!' You would be hard pressed to find a more divisive president than him, ever!

Again I remind you that without the rise of the Tea Party there would not be a house dominated by the Republicans. Full stop! How can you argue that fact! The Tea Party may not be in control of their nominated representatives, but if you scan the names you will note that all have been chosen wisely, and they all know they are on notice to perform.

As for numbers of Tea Party members there have been many estimates from 30 million on down. I think the Washington march in 2009 where a conservative estimate was over 1,000,000 with some putting the figure higher and many other sources, read left wing media who played down the numbers, suggests that there are many more Americans of like mind than the left wing media and their enablers would like to admit to.

The Republicans have never held high numbers of members as the Democrats have. You should know the reason for that, do you?

What Tea Party rhetoric is apocalyptic? Stop the spending, don't tread on me?

I gather from your flippant remark about Obama that you really have no idea of his radical upbringing and the type of mentoring and friends, if indeed that is what you can call them, he has continually surrounded himself with. Do you know anything at all about him?

The Tea Partiers may not speak as one on political policy, and that is not what brought them out to protest, what they are on about is the socialist direction that they see their nation heading in and they don't like it!

10:00 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Russell appears to have disappeared into the Redbaiter persona by now. I expect there'll be rhetoric about a hail of bullets and commies going down in their dozens in a minute. Who said life was dull in Tauranga?

I will have to track down his address and send him a copy of my forthcoming Manchester University Press book: there are a couple of chapters in it on our common hero George Orwell. I imagine that he might be a little discomforted to read about the unrepentant socialism of the author of Ninety Eighty-Four.

Sanctuary, I take your point about the dangers of irrationality in general, and I agree that the Tea Party can hardly be seen as a positive phenomenon, but I don't see a parallel between Weimar Germany and contemporary America.

The rise of the Nazis was possible because of the way the far left, with its massive base in organised labour, was putting the squeeze on the German bourgeoisie, and making it search around for extreme solutions. There's no comparable challenge to capitalism in America, and one of the side-products of that is the lack of any sort of serious analysis, by the right or the left, of the decline of the country as an economic and geopolitical power.

Looking at both the Tea Party blogs and the likes of Huffington Post, one would think that the future of America hinged on the rival personalities of Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, and on 'culture wars' issues like prayer in schools, abortion, and so on. Little things like the disappearance of the country's manufacturing base and its loss of control over its traditional backyard in South America and parts of the Middle East seem to go unnoticed amid the furious and pointless exchanges between the devotees of Obama and the fans of Palin.

10:15 pm  
Blogger KG said...

"...the poor old professors who, back in the mists of time, had to supervise and mark my PhD!"

then this: "..I don't know what we can possibly do to disavow Redbaiter and his ilk of the their belief"

No wonder you describe him as your "poor old professor", if that's the standard of writing he had to deal with.

10:30 pm  
Blogger maps said...

I don't think we're likely to convince each other of much vis a vis the Tea Party and Obama, Nemesis. I think you vastly overrate the ideological coherence and importance of both.

It might be more productive to discuss what you think the Tea Party's answers are to the really significiant factor in twenty-first century American life, which is the disappearance of large parts of the economy to China and, increasingly, other parts of the Third World. Do Palin and co have a solution to the deindustrialisation of America, and to the increasing departure of even service sector businesses?

A long view of history suggests that this sort of thing has happened to great powers before - we can think of Britain being usurped by Germany and then the US in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for instance - and that it is something very hard to counter, because it is the product of the dynamics of capitalism. I've argued that neither Palin nor Obama has a solution to the disappearance of America's manufacturing base and its decline as an economic power, but I'd be interested to hear what you have to say.

10:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Its [sic] time to defend the Constitution, or abandon the Constitution. The choice is that simple, and there really is no choice. The Constitution must be defended, and therefore its [sic] time'

Hint to baiter: if you want to pose as the defender of Western civilisation learn how to use apostrophes.

Why are all the defenders of the honour of white race such boneheads?

11:12 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Hmm. Looks like Redbaiter and I will both be taking remedial classes in English!

I meant disabuse, not disavow. I solemnly refudiate my blunder.

For a mere sixty pounds my PhD thesis can be suffered in full from April, courtesy of MUP:

11:18 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is more socialist Palin or Obama interesting article

11:42 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Well written Maps. The hysterics against Obama does seem to reflect a deep frustration. The intellectuals and the passionate protesters of the 60s and 70s U.S. who indeed then signaled hope for the U.S., including the culture then, is gone or has lessened. We are left with the memories or present realities of the (failed) invasions of Korea, Vietnam (really an attempt to take China), and many other nations, Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, Iraq and so on ..we left with places such as the Marshall Islands - radioactive places and destroyed Islands (sea creatures destroyed, flora destroyed and polluted, people corrupted or displaced from their way of life, or their own homes or nations) and places with displaced people where suicide rates are huge.*

* As described of Kwajalein and nearby Ebeye to Oliver Sacks by a US nurse at the military hospital (in 'The Island of the Colour-blind' by O. Sacks)

The people, the poor and lower income working classes people of the US (and other capitalist nations), the majority either are in need of a voice or a way to get access to act, or are to busy trying to live to "fight". But things can change.

And Redbaiter is clearly a sad case.

Clearly advocating attacks with guns on politicians is puerile.

Every time I turn on the TV I turn it off quickly as someone in a US film or TV show is running around shooting at someone else. Obsession with killing, car chases, explosions, gore and guns.


The Tea Party people and others are clearly not facing reality.
(Mao also said: "A revolution is not a tea party" !!)

Obama is attacked by the "left" and the "right". To the right wing he is communist etc an to the left wing he is in league with devil of Capitalism...and so on. He is damned whether he does or not. Caught in the trap of history.

As if what is wrong with the world can be allocated to individuals such as Presidents etc ...

It is not a case of The American Dream, but the American Nightmare.

11:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other than the ability to manipulate and control its people and to
export destruction to the rest of the world, the US empire seems to be
fading in the midst of an emerging mulipolar world. The US is a strong
exporter of weapons, agricultural products, and intellectual property --
and little else.

Cutting back on education, health care and other services that
government should provide is hardly a way to build a strong economy.

One of the symptoms of decline is the weakening of the attraction of US
culture. In Asia, Korean culture seems to be in ascendance. The Wall
Street Journal recently reported as a fluff piece about this phenomenon.

What is it that the US will be able to offer the rest of the world other
than its culture of looting, shooting, and polluting.

- Michael Perelman

12:14 am  
Blogger maps said...

Just on a book-related but otherwise completely different note: I wanted to let any regular readers of this blog who are suffering through this thread and were interested in picking up a copy of Private Bestiary know that a new run of the book has finally arrived from the Massey printery.

There should be copies coming down to Wellington Unity and UBS, where there were waiting lists (rather short waiting lists, admittedly), and I will able to post off the copies I promised but didn't deliver to certain chaps before Christmas. The new copies are also available through the Titus Books site:

12:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Redbaiter has been banned from most blogs in NZ. Right and left. He is nuts. Don't bait him.

12:58 am  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anonymous said...

'Its [sic] time to defend the Constitution, or abandon the Constitution. The choice is that simple, and there really is no choice. The Constitution must be defended, and therefore its [sic] time'

Hint to baiter: if you want to pose as the defender of Western civilisation learn how to use apostrophes.

Why are all the defenders of the honour of white race such boneheads?"

All this stuff about being able to spell or not or write or not (or where to put the commas etc) reminds me of (the book in question) '1984' by it Winston is in the Ministry of Truth "re-writing history" (as one does) and he wonders if it is crime to put the full stop after bracket or inside the bracket. That is either:

(That was in 1924).


(That was in 1924.)

The point is obvious. '1984' is a great satire and here he is satirizing those who are obsessed about absolutely "correct" spelling and grammar. All of which issues are of course quite puerile, quite superficial.

1:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...










9:43 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yeah right:

'DERRY, New Hampshire - Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney easily won a poll of several hundred Republican delegates Saturday about whom they would choose to take on Democrat Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.

The poll was held at the New Hampshire Republican State Committee’s annual meeting in Derry, by television station WMUR-TV and ABC News, as a way of finding out which potential candidates were generating an early buzz.

Also at the meeting, conservative Tea Party activist Jack Kimball beat Juliana Bergeron to be New Hampshire’s new state Republican Party chairman — an outcome that could influence presidential campaigning in the state.

Romney won 35 percent of the poll, trouncing Texas Congressman Ron Paul, with 11 percent, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, with 8 percent, and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who took 7 percent.

10:45 am  
Anonymous Edward said...

Aren't anonymous internet commentators charming. So brave, like modern nights riding across the electronic battlefield, spewing fourth nothing but truth from their oh-so-well-informed mouths. Truly, internet anons make me proud to be human.

On an apparent side note, I rather enjoyed this post and found Maps' take on it refreshing rather than the he-said she-said polemics of right vs left (or the "we're always 100% right and you're always 100% wrong"). It is a pity some people didn't actually bother to read it before commenting. Or much else outside of paranoid internet-land for that matter.

10:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...



11:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mitt Romney conservative Mormon and former Repub governor is a communist now?

If Romney was in NZ he would be on the right of the ACT party - he'd be way to the left of National.

So...National and Act are communist too?

Who isn't communist?

Funny seeing the Republicans fighting each other as the Tea Party nuts finding reds under more and more beds.

11:24 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Communists have taken over the Democrats and 90% of the Republicans.

Look look just look at Romney. He explicitly denies that God made the earth in six days. He goes in for all that Darwin-atheist drivel.

He's a big government socialist. His RomneyCare state run health care system is a big government boondoggle. It's tyranny. Government provided, er, forced health care is tyranny not freedom or free markets. Do not believe the socialist propaganda supporting such nonsense.

Socialized medicine is simply another step to socialized government. Government solutions at the point of a gun are the opposite of what we need. This is socialism! Fascism! Mitt Romney is proud of his big government socialist creation and thinks it would be great for all of America. He wants to force you to accept what the state says is right for you. Your taxes will go up as government costs soar and the quality of the care you receive declines. High costs, long waits, rationing, poor or no service, big government force in other areas is where it leads.

"Hello, we're from the government and we're here to help you." Believe that and you are a sucker!

Say NO to socialism! NO to RINOism! NO to Mitt Romney!!

Rebellion is brewing!!

11:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He’s the enemy within.
He’s the enemy within.
He’s the enemy within.
He’s the enemy within.
He’s the enemy within.
He’s the enemy within.

He is the reason we lost!

11:32 am  
Anonymous Edward said...

oH yOu CraZy YaNKeeS. heRe cOMe thE cOmmIEs aND thE bAby-EatINg AthIEsts!! MoRE lOud NoISEs aNd ScreAMinG CapITAls! DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING!!! Rah.

12:09 pm  
Blogger Sanctuary said...

Abuse of the caps key is sure evidence that the end of days is upon us.

And evidence of psychic masturbation.

To wit,

I'm off to get tracking data of liquid damage keyboard replacement sales & kleenex tissue sales when charted against Sarah Palin appearances on Fox news.

12:24 pm  
Blogger Sanctuary said...

P.S. would a backsliding Tea-Party endorsed Republican congres sperson be a rinoplasty?

12:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI new from WPo

After health-care reform repeal, Tea Party disappointment
By Stephen Stromberg
The Tea Party has its sop. The new Republican House has passed a bill repealing President Obama's health-care law. The Democratic Senate won't.

Now the Tea Party politics really begin. Not just between left and right. But between conservative activists and other Republicans. Because once the fleeting euphoria following today's vote diminishes, the Tea Party won't just be able to ask the GOP majority, "What have you done for me lately," but, "What have you done for me ever?" Only the most deluded of conservatives could have thought that the House's outright repeal of health-care reform would have much practical effect. And those who did will only be more disappointed that the flame of repeal didn't catch the way they expected.

After this bit of political theater, what happens when the ideals of the Tea Party actually conflict with the practical business of governing? The impending test seems to be over raising the national debt limit. Some conservatives are already explaining that refusing to raise the debt ceiling wouldn't lead to default -- merely the near collapse of the federal government, which would have to subsist on sporadic revenues almost certainly inadequate for it to function in a way Americans would recognize. Conservatives, such as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) -- are now speaking and even legislating as though this were a serious, reasonable contingency.

Assuming that Democrats don't capitulate to all of the demands the GOP ties to raising the debt limit -- and Toomey seems to think that will involve the politically toxic question of serious entitlement reform! -- how will the Tea Party react when Republican leaders choose not to see through the most spectacular government shutdown ever? And what happens when Republican promises on spending more generally and other items don't materialize? Will Republicans have public optioned themselves with their base?

Typically, conservatives are more forgiving of their politicians than liberals. With all the populist fervor on the right, will that be true this year? Because Tea Partyers will have reason for disappointment, starting now.

12:57 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'The decision to release and then defend the ‘blood libel’ video is a double tragedy for the Republican party, who took a strong lead in the November mid-terms, and have now missed the best opportunity in a decade to consolidate that lead by looking like the calm, sober, conservative adults they claim to be and to represent. Palin’s decline may be better for them in the long term; many commentators are now confirmed in the belief they held before the mid-terms that she had outlasted her usefulness as an energising agent, and is now simply a liability, a distraction from the serious business of government to which the GOP must now turn its attention.'

Lew at Kiwipolitico

2:04 pm  
Blogger pollywog said...

The Revolution will not be televised. The Apocalypse will be...STAY TUNED !!!

5:51 pm  
Anonymous Nestor N said...

guess you missed the state of the union address, chico? wasn't that more or less on economic issues. aren't you just assuaging those tea baggers by including post-election Obama with pre-election Palin?

8:27 am  
Blogger maps said...

But Obama has been waffling on about how the US can reindustrialise by focusing on on new, high-tech 'green industries' for years. Such talk is reminiscent of the 'knowledge economy' discourse here in New Zealand. It's accurately been likemed to cargo cultism. There's no detailed discussion of the reason for deindustrialisation, and no explanation about how millions of jobs are going to conjured up in the dysfunctional rustbelt of the US.

10:41 am  
Anonymous Nestor N said...

yeah, i guess you're right, though there were plenty of numbers thrown around about the investments to be made. Surely not all of those investments would be simple mimicry of what they want to be achieving.

4:36 pm  

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