Monday, August 5, 2013

Shades of Fundamentalism in the GOP

The Republican Party, which dedicated itself anew during the 2012 election to a savage, free-wheeling, corporately-governed country, shows no sign of moderating its fundamentalism.  Indeed, its attacks on the President and its internal debates on economic and security issues have demonstrated just how many flavours of fundamentalism the party offers to those to whom its mixture of economic radicalism, hatred, bigotry, and embrace of violence, inequality, and exploitation appeal.

Just when you think there might be a well-hidden vein of reason running through the party, you’re reminded that lunacy is never far from the surface.  For example, Rand Paul recently accused Peter King—one of the foremost proponents of U.S. terrorism abroad and security overreach at home—of “being a part of a Republican wing that’s ‘all for blowing stuff up, but not too concerned with fiscal responsibility’”.  Paul represents a version of his father’s libertarianism which favours U.S. isolationism, and some of his critiques of U.S. foreign policy are on point.

However, he suffers from the same immoral, America-centric view that afflicts many of his Congressional colleagues.  For instance, he hammered the Obama administration’s policy of murdering people using drones...until he was reassured that only foreigners could be killed in this extrajudicial manner, at which point he dropped his objections.

Paul’s invocation of “fiscal responsibility” is also telling, for this is a short-hand for neoliberalism.  Paul is one of the foremost economic fundamentalists in Congress, subscribing to the historically- and morally-bankrupt fantasy of something called the “free market”, a supposedly liberating state, sustained by faith rather than reason, in which all of society’s interests magically align and create a Darwinist’s Utopia, in which an invisible hand that bears a suspicious resemblance to the Koch Empire and its ilk sorts out the virtuous for financial uplift from the undeserving who are condemned to a hell on earth characterised by exploitation, opprobrium, and penury.

Paul summed up his lunacy in an election-night speech wherein he claimed that “There are no rich, there are no poor, there are no middle class [in America].  We are all interconnected in the economy”.  Paul Sr., famous for his indictment of U.S. war-making abroad, at least had the guts to ask Americans how they would feel if their country was set upon, blitzed, and occupied by imperialist invaders.  And yet he was equally famous for telling a moderator at a GOP debate that society should let an uninsured individual die, because people’s poverty, and the structural inequality against which they vie, is their own fault.

If Rand Paul represents a chillingly amoral approach to foreign policy, and a distressingly immoral view of economics, Peter King represents the radical right on issues of national security.  King (who supported the IRA’s bombing campaign in Britain) has advocated the prosecution of whistleblowing journalists, is a keen proponent of American terrorism abroad, and one of the foremost defenders of our self-defeating domestic security escalation which shreds our legal protections, dispenses with civil liberties, and is the surest way of assuring a victory for “terrorism”—whether the acts of terror be those carried out by “enemies” abroad, or those executed in our names by our government, tarnishing our nation and ensuring the perpetuation of a never-ending series of wars across the world.

King declared it “absolutely disgraceful that so many Republicans voted to defund the NSA program which has done so much to protect our country”, ignoring the fact that the claims about the importance of the NSA’s program to the plots it is alleged to have foiled were deliberately manipulated to inflate the importance of its domestic spying.  He also ignored the fact that there will be precious little of our values and identity left to defend if that defence requires that we forego our civil rights and abdicate our democratic rights to a set of irresponsible, fearmongering security organs with criminal track records and terroristic tendencies.

Then of course there is Chris Christie, who invoked the spectre of 9/11 to defend national security overreach, ignoring the role that U.S. colonialism has historically played in inciting attacks on the U.S.  Foreign policy fundamentalists, whether moronic jingos or avowed neoconservative ideologues, are totally disinterested in the operations of cause and effect, and show not an iota of motivation to understand the actions of the people who comprise the global society of which the U.S. is merely one, increasingly fragile part (to ask “why?” with reference to 9/11 still invites attacks on one’s patriotism). 

Ted Cruz, another blustering egomaniac, is closer to Rand Paul in his zealotry, and seems poised to launch a self-righteous purge of our politics, attempting to bully members of his own party who break from his fundamentalism.  It is a sad commentary on our society that almost to a member, one of our major political parties believes the path to power runs through the domains of fear, hatred, ignorance, exploitation, and mutual distrust. 

But perhaps it is no wonder they feel so.  After all, Dick Cheney, George W Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz walk free after conspiring (or in the case of Powell staying silent in the face of such conspiracy) to manufacture a war by using lies and false premises.  That war has cost the U.S. trillions of dollars, thousands of lives, killed at least 100,000 Iraqis, levelled whole cities, and destroyed a country’s infrastructure in order that war profiteers connected to the administration could rebuild under the guard of lawless, murdering mercenaries which comprise a growing for-profit war industry.

The Nazis were charged with similar crimes at Nuremberg, before the international legal structure had designed a framework under which it could punish them for the violence of the Holocaust.  The International Military Tribunal’s charter described the Nazis crimes as “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy [to do so]”. 

The massive crimes of the Bush Administration, and the failure of Congress to challenge them and of the Obama administration to punish them (and his administration, with the collusion of Congress and the incitement of the security services is guilty of its own monstrous crimes), has created a culture of impunity.  The same culture which allows mass murderers to walk free after they allowed their foreign policy fundamentalism to run away with them extends to the economic sector, where financial criminals—crimes implemented under the regime of deregulation, labour casualisation, and free market thuggery—are equally unaccountable.  Such are these twin versions of fundamentalism that there appears to be no sin too ugly and no crime too brutal that it cannot be excused by invoking “national security” or the “free market”.

The Democrats are culpable in all of this, and there are disturbing signs that they are in danger of signing up to what has become a broad, right-wing consensus.  But they are driven more by fear of the GOP, moral cowardice, and electoral expediency than by the sadistic evangelism which seems to characterise so much of the Republican Party’s fundamentalism.  This unwavering commitment to a worldview which extols social disunity, makes a virtue of exploitation, and encourages mutual disrespect and societal irresponsibility is a very dangerous one.  The physical and social violence that these people are visiting on our country and on people in other parts of the world should be stopped. 

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