There is a lot of talk about Patriotism these days. The New Right has proliferated the internet with their “Patriotic” terminology. There is this trend towards Revolutionary Era nostalgia mixed with patriotic terminology that seems to obscure any true meaning.
Sarah Palin stepped on the scene and decided to resign as Governor and proceed with her speaking engagements and book writings. Many people cannot figure out why Palin has become such a national figure. She is quite symbolic. Sarah Palin puts a lot of words together and actually says very little. Sarah Palin said, “Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reason, and not just to mingle with the right people.“* What does that mean? It can really mean whatever you want it to mean. Everyone can attribute whatever preconceived notion that have to it.
The New Right is full of these comments, insinuations and rhetorical devices. I went to “Norcal Freedom Fighters.” In the “About Us” page, it states the following:
- Dedicated to defending the principles of our Nation, as established by our forefathers for the advancement of the people of these United States of America, under God
- Ensure that the principles of the Constitution are preserved, communicated, understood and used as the basic premise for all Government in these United States of America (Local, State and Federal); creating an environment for fiduciary responsibility, the motivation of opportunities, individual choice, self-determination and generosity
- Support for political candidates that supports conservative ideals
- Provide Constitutional education to empower and advance opportunities for all citizens
- Promote the greatness of this Country and not apologize for being the envy of the World
- Promote our principles and respecting others, not apologize or be subjugated to other doctrines of the world
If you “[p]rovide Constitutional education to empower and advance opportunities for all citizens,” does that include non-Christian citizens? What about the education that contradicts that the “principles of our Nation, as established by our forefathers” were not based on a Nation “under God“?
I could really spend the entire time dissection just this six point page. “Promote the greatness of this Country and not apologize for being the envy of the World.” Envy of the world? That is a lot like that attitude that some women have where they truly think people dislike them simply because they are beautiful regardless of their behavior (or breath). At the very least, this is such a subjective statement, one can’t help by wonder exactly what it is supposed to mean to the general public. How Palin-esque.
I’m going to do something I have been doing too much lately and draw a direct quote from Wikipedia. My apologies in advance. I just want to make sure we are using the same terms. Far too many people throw around words with reckless abandon and then want to debate the semantics of it.
“In Marxist terminology, reactionary is a pejorative adjective denoting people whose ideas might appear to be pro-working class, but, in essence, contain elements of feudalism, capitalism, nationalism, fascism or other socio-political characteristics of the ruling class. Reactionary also denotes supporters of authoritarian, anti-communist and fascist régimes such as Vichy France,…”
These groups that refer to themselves as “Patriotic” are, in reality, reactionary. They claim to be for the working class. Like on the NorCal Freedom Fighters page, they say “empower and advance opportunities for all citizens.” Whether they like it or not? Opportunities for all citizens? Really? Or is this about preserving the status quo?
I constantly harp on this point, but I think it cannot be understated. Professor G. William Domhoff, Sociology Department, University of California at Santa Cruz states very clearly in “Who Rules America“
In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth (total net worth minus the value of one’s home), the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 42.7%.
The bottom 80% of Americans have to share 15% of the wealth. So, preserving this status benefits whom? Let’s think about the New Right’s political platforms (because there is not one central place to get this information). They want “Limited Government” or “smaller Government,” claiming the United States Government has grown “too large” and is encroaching on the “Freedoms” of Americans. They want “tax reform” – usually in a Flat Tax or Fair Tax. They want less regulation on the Market, claiming that Federal intervention on the economic system will inhibit economic growth and something about how they hate Socialism. They want a repeal to any form of Universal Health Care. Many want the United States to be officially a Christian nation. (And there’s usually some tripe about “immigration” that is really about treating Chicanos as less than equals and I don’t feel like even getting into that.)
Well… Let’s look at how responsible corporations have been with the “expanded government” we have today. The housing/real estate bubble burst, the Auto industry failed, the financial institutions bet against their own clients and benefited as the American economy collapsed, police and teachers are being laid off, the cost of “higher education” has increased… and on top of all of this, the Gulf of Mexico is now filled with crude oil – the worst environmental disaster in American history – ever.
We are supposed to think that easing up restrictions for these corporate entities is going to help the majority of Americans? That is Patriotic? To let corporations pillage the people? A smaller government will do what to curtail these issues? Lack of regulation will do what to stop profiteers from manipulating the markets for personal gain? Less regulations will make oil drilling safer? This is absurd. Limited government serves only to lift restrictions on the accumulation of wealth for the top 1% of the United States. How patriotic.
I already went into some facts about Flat Taxes. If you want to know more, you can check out Laurence M. Vance‘s article “The Flat Tax Is Not Flat and the FairTax Is Not Fair” from the Ludwig von Mises Institute (a Libertarian think tank.) It stands that this type of tax reform serves to benefit the top 1% of the United States.
On the topic of health care, the Commonwealth Fund just released a study that repeats what every other study conducted already concluded:
Despite having the most expensive health care system, the U.S. ranks last overall compared to six other countries on measures of health system performance.
So, the wealthy have great health care in the United States. Unfortunately the poor do not have access to it. Well, considering that 80% of the country has to split 15% of the wealth, who has access to the “excellent health care“? (Here’s a hint: it is not the majority.) Why do we oppose Universal Health Care? How Patriotic to deny superior health care to a majority of Americans because “they can’t afford it.”
The New Right is Reactionary. Completely and totally. They use “patriotism” as a guise, when the real agenda is to keep things the way they are, and make the wealthy even more wealthy. Who really supports a Plutocracy? The people who want to give everyone health care or those that want excellent health care for the wealthy? Or those who would let corporations have less restrictions or those who want to hold these corporations accountable? Who is more patriotic to the “forefathers“? How does this “empower and advance opportunities for all citizens“?
“Reactionary feelings were often coupled with a hostility to modern, industrial means of production and a nostalgia for a more rural society.” I find this also is highly applicable to the Tea Party Movement, and the New Right in general. They reminisce about a bygone era and long to bring it back… regardless of how plausible that would be. (Much like the part of the Dynastic Cycle in China, where the people would reminisce about the glorious days of the last Dynasty, and ignore all the problems that were incurred.)
So now we have this culture war, with the Patriots calling those that would move forward names such as “Communist” and “Socialist” and then calling them “Nazi” and even making up oxymorons such as “Liberal Fascist.”
“The streets of our country are in turmoil. The universities are filled with students rebelling and rioting. Communists are seeking to destroy our country. Russia is threatening us with her might, and the Republic is in danger. Yes – danger from within and without. We need law and order! Without it our nation cannot survive.”
~ Adolph Hitler
The Nazi party sought to destroy Communism in any form. Hitler used his Sturmabteilung (Brown Shirts) to stand against the Communists and Socialists. Those with seemingly limited understand of the situation, or purposefully manipulating language point to the Nazi party having the word “Socialist” in it. This is only a half-truth. They were “National Socialists” which was NOT socialism. National Socialism IS fascism . . . it was their “third way economics.”
The dialect of the NorCal Freedom Fighters and majority of the Tea Party Patriots is tiring. Do they really represent the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse, and the homeless? Does all of this Patriotic rhetoric really mean they value freedom and equality? Or is it a reactionary position to defend the aristocracy and the owners of capital? Why such outrage at the possibility that the bottom 80% might deserve more than 15% of the nation’s wealth? They will say that the reason they oppose this is “because people should have to work for what they receive.” So, are they saying that 80% of this country doesn’t work? That the CEOs at Goldman-Sachs work harder than a steel mill worker? Or that the ENRON CEO was a harder worker than a single mother with 3 jobs in retail?
I’m not being sarcastic when I say that it is arrogant and elitist to believe that 80% of the United States are lazy and undeserving. That is what this “patriotic rhetoric” is really saying when they oppose increasing opportunity and providing basic social services. I understand that this is a valid view. So is fascism and so is support of a monarchy or a dictatorship. I dislike all of those options.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
‘ With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
~ Inscription on Statue of Liberty
McCarthyism technically ended. The Red Scare and the Cold War are over. The Soviet Union is gone. Stalinist/Maoist Communism is almost gone. North Korea and Cuba are the last bastions of this style of governance. Now we have to deal with this reactionary “Patriotism” that is really an attempt to revive a dying system of Plutocracy.
I do not believe oil spills, unemployment and corporate profits over people are very patriotic.
“Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.” ~ Samuel Johnson
*I could not find a reliable source for this quote. It is meant to be exemplary, anyway.