I think some people don’t realize the extent to which movement conservativism is not about policy, but an existential sense of self. I realize that I come across as pretty partisan, but, for me, it’s ultimately about objectives: if I want a public option for healthcare, it’s because I think it will improve healthcare. If there were compelling data that wearing pink mumus and whirling rubber chickens around our heads would improve healthcare, then pink mumus and rubber chickens it is. But what strikes about movement conservativism (which is very different than a conservative impulse–there’s nothing wrong with being cautious) is the extent of dogmatism: X is bad, and everything else follows from that declarative statement regardless of the consequences (one might call it anti-humanist).
Obviously, everyone (hopefully) has some absolutes (e.g., rape, murder). But the extent to which things are defined as bad because…well, just because is pretty astonishing: gay marriage, any government spending on anything (except killing brown people), life starting at conception. What you’ll notice is that these aren’t really negotiable positions–we’re way past what the marginal income tax rate should be. These define positions that are defended and can only be defended in existential terms. Which brings me to an excellent post by Stiftung (italics mine):
Seemingly bright ‘mainstream media’ still do not understand the dichotomy. Or its implications. They still treat ‘Republicans’ and Democrats as equivalent political actors playing the same game by the same rules for the same prizes. As long as relative neophytes view politics in this prism, the Movement wins.
What we here at STSOZ call the Movement within the conservative base always plays a different game for a different prize. The Movement may speak in normal political talking points from ‘Republican’ institutions. Yet is is not committed to Dahl-esque pluralistic politics. It has has never sought compromise or ‘moderation’. That’s because for the Movement, politics is existential warfare. Compromise is defeat.
…For the Movement, as we said, politics is existential. And when survival is on the line, pluralistic compromise is for chumps. Democrats still are playing for political advantage within the confines of traditional two party politics. How to give a concrete example? When the other side’s world view is existential, then the stakes are higher than something so trite as the Constitution, etc. We saw this in part through Addington, Cheney et al. with their view on the Unitary Executive. As I wrote a while ago, during a lunch with John Ashcroft after his tenure as AG, he quite blithely said the President is entitled to ignore Congress and its laws — the only thing that matters is the plebiscite on a president because it is national. He then added if the president is re-elected that by definition means the country ratified everything he has done, even secret stuff the nation doesn’t know about.
Existential combat in ideological struggle for survival with a natural affinity for hierarchical organizations and militarized speech and thought patterns. Do you see now why to the Movement any criticism of Bush as Warlord was akin to treason? It’s not only mere warfare for any given news cycle, but deeply rooted in the non-liberal democratic, pre-Enlightenment agenda.
The Krugman and Joan Walsh fantasy that some ‘Republicans’ are going to put a stop to the Movement is a joke. At one time there was a functioning Republican apparat apart from the Movement, capable of independent action. The Movement long ago slipped the leash. Once it was the learner. Now it is the master. This overall operational pattern is precisely why a moderate Republican (not obeying hierarchy) is actually the Movement’s greatest enemy. More than any Democrat. We know. We’ve been in DeLay’s, Armey’s and other offices as famous ‘moderates’ were called ‘Communists’ or worse – much, much worse. Same on the Senate side. As we’ve said here many times before, if Teddy Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi or Daschle/Harry Reid didn’t exist, the Movement would create them. They need them as foils and useful idiots. But a moderate Republican must be destroyed or marginalized where ever possible. (In polite company they are denounced as ‘squishes.’ In private, the language is eliminationist). The latest diss on General Jello (Powell) an after the fact formality.
What this means as a social, cultural and political actor, the Movement is unable to accept loss of power or control through liberal democratic means. The Movement’s eschatology is to higher truths than liberal democratic government: race, security, nationalism, order, security. The Movement’s psychology compels the rage as its Counter-Enlightenment agenda is revealed, in power and then snatched away again. Fear, anger and rage at losing hierarchical control compel instinctive de-legitimization of any political figure or movement that does not share its essential values and cultural (including racial) agenda. Last time it was Whitewater, State Troopers, Vince Foster, Black Helicopters, now it is Birthers, and so on.
Who are ‘Mainstream Republicans’ the Joan Walshes of the world call out to take on the Movement parasite? The Movement is still shooting their own in Stalinist purges. Tom Davis in VA and Arlen are old news. And to what effect? The Movement has already destroyed the RNC as an independent entity and the party nationally.
It’s important to note that the ‘Joe the Plumber’ base isn’t that different from the ‘conservative intellectual’ class:
As good as they and others are understanding finally the Movement’s nature, many probably don’t understand the dynamics of how key issues like race unify the Movement up and down the educational and socio-economic ladders. Even when they wear there ‘mainstream conservative or Republican facades.’
In one sense, some of it is obvious to outsiders. In the case of racism, overt comments allow all quickly to depict a discovered outburst as ‘isolated, unacceptable incident’, etc. The nativism swirling around the immigration debates are an easy example. ‘You look different than me’ or the White trash psychology of another era trying to pick on someone below them socially is an ugly but known practice. The same argument on more upscale level is to mask it behind NAFTA, globalization and now economic free fall. Beyond the socio-economic critique, alleged health dangers, welfare freeloaders. Pat Buchanan long swam in those waters now plied by Lou Dobbs.
But what Krugman likely knows and won’t say is that some of the most refined, intelligent ‘conservative intellectuals’ at the highest so-called refined levels also trade in racism behind hi tech euphemism. It’s by code word, by invitation, but at its core is the same pseudo genetic babble from Chamberlain (not Neville) and that pasty faced Austrian. Again, most of it recycled from the Old World but now trussed up with slick Silicon Valley tech talk to mask (and sanitize) the Old European roots.
Gender hierarchy issues play out the same way. Here, anti-abortion intensity plays out differently along the socio-economic ladder. At the top, while mouthing the religious words, etc. the real agenda is increasing the breeding stock of White Europeans. Sound ridiculous? You’d be surprised.