THE DON JONES INDEX…
LESSON for JUNE 4, 2013
DOW JONES INDEX 6/3/13… 15,254.03
This following has been adapted from Jack Parnell’s “Entropy and Renaissance”, serialized each week in major media outlets…
Of late, it has become more difficult to profile Americans on an existent political spectrum. This is a consequence of voter disenchantment with Barack Obama, his bureaucratic allies and the Democrats in Washington and the Republican Congress. For some years now, Republicans… especially since Nixon… have embraced the jackboot thuggery of big government, at least on a selective basis. Meanwhile, recent Supreme Court decisions have goaded Democrats into an attempt to compete with the G.O.P. in raising the sort of money which decides elections by selling their souls to Wall Street.
As the donkeys and elephants slide closer and closer together in their big bed of corruption, ordinary Americans react in varying ways. Some throw away their minds and become robotic advocates of the one party or other… seeing Americans who disagree with them as enemies, to be vanquished (if not just plain killed). Quite a bit of this has to do with race, but this trend was underway before Mr. Obama took office, and will remain long after he is gone.
To these, politics is a spectacle… a blood sport, to be sure, but sport nonetheless. The herds of “dittoheads” (left or right) root for their favorite party the way that they root for the Cubs or the Cowboys or Dale Earnhardt.
The majority, however, look upon Washington (and, often enough, their statehouses and, even, local governments) with disgust. Increasingly, they refuse to vote. They are not lazy… they are appalled by the Potemkin choice so often given. In legislative races, the advantage to incumbents already swollen by special-interest money is magnified by a sort of “gentlemen’s gerrymandering”, where poor and minority voters are crowded into bizarrely-shaped districts that will ensure them representation, but no influence.
In the past, you could mark the measure of a man (or woman) on a 7-point, two dimensional line as ran left to right, like this: Communist, Socialist, Democrat, Moderate, Republican, Libertarian, Anarchist. Then, some intellectuals put their minds to pondering as to whether the heft of gumment’s foot against the free market might count for as much as intent, so they drew up a sort of gridly diamond, a plane with four points and a big, square football field inbetween as measures a society by both its economic and social issues, and is graded by yardmarkers… call them north/south or east/west… as measure how one stands (economically) on Security versus Opportunity and, on the other, (socially) Authority versus Liberty. You can see a different picture emerging – your orthodox Soviet propagandists were over there in that corner as ranks high on Security and Authority (even if reality failed to measure up to the rhetoric) while your average corporate CEO also ranks high on Authority (which, of course, is always exerted upon other folks, never yourself) but moves across the way towards Opportunity (aka“the American Dream”which remains, for most, only a dream until they day they are planted in the ground. Opposite them you have them old New Lefties as wanted the right to collect welfare and have sex with goats (high Security, high Liberty) and then that small, but growing, cranky bunch of libertarians over there as don’t want to pay taxes, and also care not if the majority of American wealth is siphoned off by a few creative accountants - but also don’t care what other people do in their bedrooms unless they take it out onto the yard.
A two-dimensional ideology, I suppose, shows a smidgen more respect to Americans, but still fails to take in the vast spectra of beliefs, prejudices and codes which – for good or for ill – have made this country what it is. Reality, for the present, is grounded in three dimensions. Politics deserves no more, and nothing less,
But, once I saw the NAFTA lines forming up without seeming sense or substance except a commonality of inevitable corruption with both the extremes on the old linear left-right spectrum winding up in the same bed, I determined that the political lay of the land was less like a diamond and more like the ring it rode in on… except there was a tiny chasm where the far Left, curled back against sellout Democrats, and Rightists recoiling against Republicans were looking at one another cross a strait narrow as that way up in Alaska where Sarah Palin said she could see Russia. Meaning that both of the next cycle’s minor candidates… Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader… were agreeing with one another. And meaning that the corruption of the existing factions had itself transcended the traditional lines of political reasoning. And the rustier and corrupt that old ring goes, the more that the activists and extremist of both major parties… as well as those as have given up on them altogether… form an alliance based on the premise that we throw the rascals out… all the rascals!... and start over.
Tommy Jefferson thought this should happen about once in a generation… and maybe that’s too extreme for this old extremist to countenance. But however the mathematics go down, it’s clear that such a reshuffling of the deck (if not even throwing the whole joker-riddle deck in the trash and breaking out a new deck from a different card company) is long, long overdue.
But even the prospect of taking radical action frightens most decent Americans, who have become inured to the give and take of Democratic/Republican goals, even as the process and results decay and continue to decay into a foreseeable future – until the inevitable conclusion (whether with a bang or whimper). Radicalism, like its nearest neighbors Communism and Anarchism, is used as a synonym for mindless violence and, moreover, is presumed to augur a politics of extremism. However, the origins of the word… radix, or root…simply means that the radical assesses a problem, determines its root cause and solves it (rather than buying off this faction or that, or nurturing a festering sore on the lip of democracy so as to exploit the inherent passions aroused for personal gain).
Let’s contemplate a visual of typical line and grid ideologies…
Communism Socialism Liberalism Moderation Conservatism Libertarianism Anarchism
Here is the typical spectrum (line, one-dimensional) representation of ideology as most Americans and, indeed, most literate humans perceive it. Issues are, for the most part, packaged by the political parties – even among Independents, positions on the spectrum tend to cluster based on factors such as race, religion, regionalism, class status, age and so forth. Designations themselves are often in dispute as to the identity of the questioner… the academic liberal may prefer to term himself “progressive” (a designation derived from radical Republicans of a century ago) and dismiss his enemies as Fascists and Nazis, rather than Libertarians or Anarchists, while the working-class conservative may reject all four epithets, preferring nonideological yet emotional terms such as “patriot” or borrowed identities, as in the case of “tea partiers”. The term “radical” is seldom used to designate ideology, rather, it is associated with violence as may arise from either extreme. The spectrum, being one-dimensional, often does not fairly represent most Americans who do not consider themselves proud “dittoheads” of left and right – of late, in consequence, a two-dimensional or “grid” reckoning has been proposed… one that takes the measure of a man based on predilections for 1) a preference for either security or opportunity (usually, but not always, applicable to economic issues – for example, the government’s role in protecting Americans from themselves), and 2) for authority or liberty (most often applicable to social issues). The resultant diagram may look something like this…
Middle o’ the Road
Maximum Moderate Moderate Maximum
Authority Authority Liberty Liberty
The resultant profile seems fairer and more comprehensive to those who consider themselves politically sophisticated as, for example, employees of the U.S. State Department and political commentators who have graduated from talk radio to talk television. Again, however, it is morally neutral… the fascist or Nazi, after Wagner and Nietzsche and other philosophers of the late 19th century, may espouse freedom and nature, but only for themselves. At the other end, there have never been large modern societies that practiced utopianism or anarchism for long – the former is perhaps best represented by the strange interlude of the French Revolution or the efforts by heroic (and often demented) dictators to create new men for a new society… people like Pol Pot, Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier and, perhaps, Ralph Nader. The only anarchist state, meanwhile… and a not very anarchical one at that… was the Spanish Republic, which found it attacked from both sides by the Communists and Fascists and sank beneath the tide of history. Nonetheless, the margins have some merit in defining the limits of the whole, much as the earth is surrounded by an atmosphere with a density that lessens and lessens the farther away from the surface that one might go. Again, however, the radical view… that emerging problems should be solved by appropriate means irrespective of ideology is viewed as laughable. This is because the core of the grid model, underlying even the banality of a consumerist center, is corruption. So, then, we proceed to what some have called Catfish politics but, in all modesty, I prefer to refer to as ring ideologies (not to be mistaken, of course, with Mr. Wagner’s ring cycle… which proved to be fine opera, but rather shaky politics)…
THE RADICALS Ʊ
FINALLY, A FEW DIRECTIONAL REFINEMENTS and EXAMPLES…
OLD OLD LEFT – Labour advocates; the New Deal; traditional morality (somewhat misogynist); internationalist (often interventionist); civil rights (if at all) through nonviolent protest. HABITAT: Small, rural family and sharecropper farms; urban factories, docks, union halls. REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: William Jennings Bryan; Teddy Roosevelt (after 1910); FDR; LBJ; JFK (except for that sex thing); Joe Biden; Huey Long; George Meany; Castro; Frank Capra; Ronald Reagan (as union boss); J. K Galbraith; Gandhi.
TRANSITIONAL FIGURE: Bob Dylan (before/after he went electric)…
OLD NEW LEFT – Peaceniks; Vietniks; noninterventionist; sex/drugs/rock and roll; civil rights through armed revolution. HABITAT: College dorms; urban ghettos; rural hippie communies; “the street”. REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: the Yippies; Black Panthers; MLK and Malcolm X (who were broadening their perspective when assassinated); RFK (also assassinated); Che (ditto); those Easy Rider dudes (ditto – does a pattern suggest itself here?); McCarthy and McGovern; the Beatles; Jane Fonda; Timothy Leary; Shirley McLaine; Nelson Mandela.
TRANSITIONAL FIGURE: Edward Abbey
NEW NEW LEFT – Political correctness; domestic and international policies based on hierarchy of victimology; morality of “choice” (someone misanthropic); civil rights through litigation and bureaucracy… except when people have to be protected from their own bad choices by insurance, public scolding or the law. HABITAT: College faculty lounges; foundation boardrooms; law offices; Hollywood; some media outlets; organic grocery stores. REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: Gloria Allred; Mayor Bloomberg; PETA-philes; assorted doctors’ and insurance lobbies; tree-spiker environmentalists.
TRANSITIONAL FIGURE: Paul McCartney (post-divorce)
NEW OLD LEFT – mostly nonexistent, to date… perhaps best represented by Eminem’s teenage loser in a dead-end fast food job spitting into people’s burgers. Hard to contemplate, much less organize, a labor movement when jobs are being shipped to China faster than you can whistle Nike. HABITAT: Hobo camps; College student loan offices; pawnshops. REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: Mass murderers; furloughed government workers and the vast armies of the disgruntled.
THE SYNONYMICAL DEPTHS – where one finds MODERATES, INDEPENDENTS, UNDECIDED, APATHETIC, APOLITICAL, “TURNED OFF”, DISGUSTED, and also a few potential radicals for, as Dante presumed, the quickest way out of Hell is through its centre.
OLD OLD RIGHT - isolationism; morality variable (but discretion prized). HABITAT: East Coast enclaves; small town businesses; country clubs REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: McKinley; Harding; Coolidge and Hoover; Teddy Roosevelt (pre-1910); the Rockefellers; Bushes and their imitators; Lindbergh; Churchill; Billy Graham (who could be civil towards pre-Clintonian Democrats); William F. Buckley; Richard Nixon (an economic progressive).
TRANSITIONAL FIGURE: Barry Goldwater
OLD NEW RIGHT - Supply-siders and “muscular” Christians who envy and admire Francisco Franco (if not You Know Who); snake-handlers; think-tanks; favorite tactic for dealing with dissenters is to lock ‘em up and throw away the key. They hate the Kenyan/Islamic President Obama (but have a sneaking admiration for the way he used the IRS to torment his opposition. HABITAT: the South; the West; suburbs and exurbs; urban white minorities; VFW halls; churches; oilfields; corporate boardrooms. REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: Ronald Reagan (as union buster); Newt Gingrich; John McCain; Franklin Graham; Falwell/Robertson/LaHaye et. al.; Rush Limbaugh; Pat Buchanan and Bob Barr and David Stockman (20th century).
TRANSITIONAL FIGURE: The Tea Party
NEW NEW RIGHT - organized and angry. May not know what they want… but certainly know what they don’t want. Angry enough to occasionally make common cause with angry leftists over issues like NAFTA, China and the government’s secret role in promoting the World Trade Bombing. Some even admit to having had sex and smoking marijuana! HABITAT: bunkers and compounds across America; state and local legislatures; school boards; churches; talk radio. REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: Ron and Rand Paul; Paul Ryan; Sarah Palin; organized and disorganized militias; Pat Buchanan and Bob Barr and David Stockman (in the 20th century); Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
TRANSITIONAL FIGURE: Adam Sandler
NEW OLD RIGHT – still struggling to be born, but slightly more developed than the NEW OLD LEFT. Minorities not only welcomed, but wantonly pursued. Most are still Republican, but can speak of a “big tent” without breaking out into laughter and some can even laugh at themselves. HABITAT: Armani and Gucci raves; internet blogs; wine tastings, house-flipping seminars; REPRESENTATIVE ICONS: Bobby Jindal; Marco Rubio; Christ Christie; Dennis Miller; P. J. O’Rourke; the guys who made South Park.
Anybody who feels out of place among all of the above.