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The Counterrevolutionary Delusion

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Man the barricades and toll the bells, raise the snake flag high! The counterrevolution is coming! Again.

It won't work this time either, but that doesn't mean they can't have their fun.

Don't call them conservatives, call them what they are, counterrevolutionaries, fighting the good fight. There's only one problem. There was no revolution.

All the explanations of what is happening on the right, right now, are unsatisfactory, because it's not about "right now." To understand what's going on you have to travel back into the mists of time, all the way back to the 1960s, when there wasn't a revolution in this country.

The sixties were the culmination of a profound, prolonged evolution in American society. A "tipping point," in modern parlance, when more or less everything changed forever.

But it was no revolution, it wasn't made, it happened, and it was leaderless. The hated liberals didn't create the changes that appeared in the sixties, but they were mostly okay with them; they accepted the new way of things.

The conservatives did not. Will not. They've been fighting against history ever since, they've been waging counterrevolution against a revolution that never happened.

It started with Nixon and the "silent majority." That was a counterrevolution among the white proletariat; it brought us hard-hat's for the war, the lunchpail conservatives and the Okie from Muskogee. Ten years later counterrevolution was in bloom with a new name, the Reagan Democrats, Joe Six-Pack and Up With People. Next it was the neo-cons, the purest counterrevolutionaries of all because they're products of the 60s non-revolution.

The neo-cons lived like revolutionaries, with their high divorce rates and their drug problems, but they preached counterrevolution, especially for the masses, and some of the masses bought it. Not enough to give up their mistresses and meth, but enough to go to church a lot and brag about it.

Now counterrevolution is back, but, in America, it has no place to go. The culture has moved on, gays aren't going back into the closet, women aren't going back to the kitchen, minorities aren't going back to their place.

The battles of the sixties are over and mostly won. You can see it in the terms of debate about an impossible-before-the-sixties issue like "don't ask, don't tell." Pre-sixties it was "kill the fairy." Now even the counterrevolutionaries pretend to be tolerant of gays, mostly. The ground is conquered, the counterrevolutionaries are fighting over the last few yards around the bunker, and even that is lost; it's just a matter of time.

But the counterrevolution is alive and well. Doing better than they have for years. They don't have a revolution to overthrow but that's a detail. They don't need a revolution to be against, all they need is a boogie man. And that they've got.

Barack Hussein Obama, a mildly liberal Democrat of mixed parentage and no particular ideology, is the face of pure evil to the counterrevolutionaries. They don't really believe that themselves, but he has an indispensable role to fill.

He's the poster boy. His job is to embody everything they hate and fear about American culture, and all the regrettable changes that happened while they were down at the Rotary Club. That's why they call Obama, a moderate if ever there was one, a Marxist. Obama is no Marxist, but he's a boogie man nonpareil.

Are there blatant racists in the counterrevolution? Of course there are, reactionaries have always welcomed the sordid, squalid, and vulgar into the movement. When you're fighting against history you need all the help you can get, thugs included.

But racism isn't the point of the counterrevolution, it's an unpleasant side-effect, a grimy underbelly to be tolerated until the counterrevolution succeeds, then purged, but it's not the point.

The point is, well, there isn't any point. You can't undo a revolution that never happened. A revolution can be reversed, evolution cannot. This is a cry against history, this is nostalgia as a political movement. It cannot succeed, it can only disrupt.

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San Francisco based columnist, author, gym rat and novelist. My book, "The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie" is the best memoir ever written by a cat. Available on, or wherever fine literature is sold with no sales tax collected. For (more...)

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This counterrevolution will have no more luck than... by Allan Goldstein on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 9:18:57 AM
But they can harm us a lot, in particular by preve... by BFalcon on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 12:31:53 PM
your article, "You Blame Obama, I blame you", are ... by Laura Roberts on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 2:12:26 PM
I love that line, Laura! It makes me sound like t... by Allan Goldstein on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 8:48:00 PM
And the route I'm chosing is to start taking more ... by Laura Roberts on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 11:44:33 PM
Laura, you first comment was great, as was the sec... by Arthur Avalon on Saturday, Oct 23, 2010 at 7:49:35 PM
You are right! This totally explains the sense I ... by JGStakeholder on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 2:55:49 PM
I think it's true that the days of the Reaganite N... by Arthur Avalon on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 7:33:59 PM
... and it was the New Deal. Did the 60s really ... by j dial on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 8:33:55 PM
about the New Deal, jdialo, but it wasn't a revolu... by Allan Goldstein on Friday, Oct 22, 2010 at 9:07:44 PM
not too much vitriol toward the Tea Party. You hav... by sommers on Saturday, Oct 23, 2010 at 3:22:46 AM
The point is, well, there isn't any point.That sum... by Perry Logan on Saturday, Oct 23, 2010 at 5:24:26 AM
But maybe it's my bad writing, Perry. I wasn't ca... by Allan Goldstein on Saturday, Oct 23, 2010 at 12:59:01 PM
in tone and idea: you take a simple, readily under... by Robert S. Becker on Saturday, Oct 23, 2010 at 1:15:00 PM
Goldstein makes an excellent point. Putting the Re... by Daniel Noel on Saturday, Oct 23, 2010 at 9:52:37 PM
A huge delusion is believing that the Founding Fat... by Arthur Avalon on Sunday, Oct 24, 2010 at 2:23:39 PM
The biggest problem is not the demagogues who appe... by Guy Dwyer on Sunday, Oct 24, 2010 at 2:39:24 PM
First time I have seen this phenomena thought of l... by Daniel Penisten on Sunday, Oct 24, 2010 at 2:28:55 PM