Monday, May 28, 2007

"Neocon" is the new "Liberal"

liberal vs. neocon copy

A while back I was reading a blog entry (I forget exactly where) which called for the labeling of neocons as "regressives". I thought that was pretty slick. In the immortal words of a great President: "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward."

In the early seventies a bunch of crafty old men began meeting in dark rooms, their fear flowed from the previous decade of hippy love and mutual cooperation which meant American business was under attack. In order to swing the pendulum of popular opinion back in these old codgers' direction they needed to enunciate the goodness of corporations through a tide of propaganda. This tactic rested upon the demonization of a political philosophy, liberalism, and the adoption of the hitherto shunted idea of neoconservatism. It is difficult to comprehend what variety of mountain these men needed to scale. Liberal politics was the prevalent view at the time, it was the word "conservative" which carried the stench of disgrace. But like all capable propagandists, they had money. Enough money to found their own think tanks, and so disinformation collectives such as The Heritage Foundation, Accuracy in the Media, the American Enterprise Institute and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture sprung from the void. They told the "capitalist story" and handed out booklets to Republican Presidents with talking points. Reagan became the realization of neoconservatism, the religious right and "free market" mentality (I would go so far as say "free market morality"). You can find a remarkably well-written essay on the decent of liberalism here.

Neoconservatism was popularized simply to aid American corporations, what's more elitist than that? To smash workers' rights, deregulate environmental restrictions and militarize our culture, this is the origin of the culture wars. Meaningless, polarizing issues such as gay marriage to divert attention from the thievery happening in plain sight. This wealth of deception lead to a "Happy Meal" mindset amongst consumers. It's about the quick fix of sugar and starch followed by a minor prize at the end, something cloying and disposal to temporarily take our minds off how miserable we feel. It breaks, we cry and the cycle begins anew. Instead of buying what you need with business and government placed at a comfortable distance from the other the two have become nearly indistinguishable. The result is calamitous, a niche society of selfish toddlers. Perhaps that's why religion is so important or maybe that's why we act offended by sex but privately giggle at Britney Spears' naughty parts. Where are the risk takers? In Venezuela, people are protesting over a television station - the government is reading our ecards! Where's our march on Washington? Why are we not packing the jails as a conspicuous demonstration of our discontent - Thoreau-style? I am as guilty as the next guy for this complacency. The revolution can always come tomorrow, we think, but today I've got a pilates class.

But as the tried and true cliche goes, the pendulum will swing the other way, and it seems the neocons are strangling themselves with the very leash they fought so hard to control. Progress is slow and it takes a true superman to overcome the trappings of his or her culture. However, I believe "neocon" is turning out to be the next "liberal". It isn't the result of any propaganda mills or dark room planning, it's due to bombast, the kind which allows the gross national happiness to plummet while the super rich get richer. Nobody's investing in Republican campaigns. There's no viable mainstream Republican candidates and the "big tent" can't rival the diversity and charm of the other side. Hopefully, I'm seeing the growing pains of a nation ready to become an adult.

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