Witness to Wisconsin
The American Revolution was fought against British colonial rule and its corporate empire in the form of the British East India Company. We won the war but did not defeat the mentality of violence, slavery or rapacious greed. A hundred years later the Union North prevailed against a southern confederacy of slave states but again failed to defeat the mentality of slavery, exploitation or injustice. Wisconsin may be the Boston Tea party of 1773 whose demeaned, manipulated and defrauded citizens have revolted against the corporate control and destruction of their wages, quality of life, and state treasury. But regardless of Wisconsin's outcome, unless a progressive democratic leadership steps up to frame and take control of the message, then the corrosive mentality that continues to bankrupt the nation and devastate the lives of everyday Americans will continue unchecked, unabated, and undefeated.
Wisconsin's current outbreak of virulent corporatism has been rebuked by an epic outpouring of resistance. This may indicate America is on the brink of a new awakening or a new paradigm of collective thought but it will not be the first time. We may even be at the proverbial tipping point necessary to successfully supplant their sacred free-market of unregulated disaster capitalism with an economic model that instead, creates, maintains and serves a free people. But unless a progressive message, a union message, a liberal, socialist, feminist, radical democratic or green message begins to speak truth to power in terms that both disable the opposition and out votes them at the polls then the risk of total collapse and complete capitulation of democratic institutions is as foredoomed as the air, water, lands and people of our nation -- all at the hands of the same corporate forces operating in Wisconsin.
The gloves came off in the presidential election of 2000 when the Supreme Court bypassed law and pronounced George W. Bush president. Later in 2010, the same Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United which effectively sentenced democracy to death by the lethal injection of unlimited multinational funds into elections. With fair elections toppled the right-wing will continue to rob, control or destroy everything else fundamental to a democracy: a living wage, collective bargaining, health care, education, social support services and more. Their voracious mentality is unquenchable in its thirst for whatever wealth it can extract from the hard work, futures and commonwealth of our nation. They are self-possessed and self-justified and will use any means necessary to possess and control others -- whereas liberals seek to liberate and empower others.
So in addition to the debate on particular issues such as health care, pensions, or the environment, the challenge will be to make this underlying distinction of character the overriding issue of a successful progressive message. It is time to pull the rug out from under right-wing talk and dispossess them of their humanity the way they have dispossessed us Americans of our rights and freedoms. For example, they pretend to represent Christian values. But how would they do in a poll that examined their economic policies under their own golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? This approach is a way to decouple the pretense of Christianity from their platform and make it our own, not as Christians but as Americans who walk their talk.
It is a way for the left-wing to appropriate their signifiers, rob them of their memes and capture their Christianity the way the right-wing has captured government regulatory agencies and have fraudulently made themselves into the party of fiscal responsibility or strong defense. To expose them as loveless, cruel and diabolical will change the debate, shift the playing field. It is a way to convince a sizable percentage of the religious community that social democratic solutions are the very essence of Christ's message. It is a way to speak to them in their own language, to empower them with a way to turn their beliefs into practice and resurrect their own religion from the same pirates that have high-jacked America. It is a distinction that needs to be hammered home as a kind of characterological metatag so that the debate is no longer between democrats and republicans but between two different mentalities.
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The opposition in Wisconsin is led by republican Governor Scott Walker. He is an "end of days" Pentecostal Christian, the second generation of Reagan era religious right-wing political activists. The first upsurge included figures like James G. Watt, Secretary of the Interior, 1981-1983. Watt resigned in personal disgrace but not after defunding and eliminating massive environmental protections and selling off large tracts of undeveloped federal lands to the ravages of private industry. He believed that the environment and its natural resources were all meant to be expended in conjunction with the return of Jesus Christ. Another of this generation is Grover Norquist, a highly influential republican strategist and political operative who became notorious for his 2001 quip on National Public Radio: "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." (<14 March 2011> "Conservative Advocate". NPR's Morning Edition. 25 May 2001.) The entire panoply of these right-wing anti-government, anti-environmentalist policy makers wrap themselves in the higher authority of their beliefs when, for example, at a 2009 congressional hearing on global warming U.S. House Representative John Shimkus (Republican-Illinois) brushed aside all the assembled studies and data from national and international scientific commissions and said, "I do believe in the Bible as the final word of God. And I do believe that God said the Earth would not be destroyed by a flood." (<14 March 2011> http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44958.html.)
This is not the Power to the People crowd. This is the ultra right-wing evangelical Power to the Lord crowd, the slash and burners, heirs of Zippo democracy that would light a Vietnamese village on fire to save it from communism. Except this time they have invaded Wisconsin and are in the business of burning away the rights and benefits of union employees, crippling the state's capacity to provide necessary social and civic services while transferring all wealth and revenues into corporate coffers. At his 2011 inaugural prayer breakfast the newly elected forty-three year old governor said, "I don't believe God picks sides in politics. I believe God calls us to be on His side." (<14 March 2011> "Scott Walker Believes He's Following Orders from the Lord," Matthew Rothchild, The Progressive, March 7, 2011.) As the son of a Baptist preacher and full-fledged Eagle Scout, it is understandable that God would do and believe whatever Scott Walker says, but when he goes on to say, "The Great Creator, no matter who you worship, is the one from which our freedoms are derived, not the government," then his freedom of religion is not at stake. On the auction block are the hard won rights and freedoms of the American citizen along with Wisconsin's infrastructure and resources that he proposes to dismantle and sell-off to his right-wing billionaire handlers.
To a man of Governor Walker's conviction any and all rights and freedoms guaranteed under a government of the people, by the people and for the people stands as a blasphemous affront to the well-ordered and purported authority of his God. At the breakfast he proclaimed, "The way to be complete in life is to fully and unconditionally turn your life over to Christ as your personal lord and savior and to make sure that every step of everyday is one that you trust and obey"" Nothing about trusting or obeying the Constitution of the United States or of Wisconsin. It is as if they do not exist except as misbegotten impediments to the will of his personal lord and savior, be it Koch Industries, the Republican Party, or Jesus of Nazareth. As a good scout for God, it is painfully obvious that unconditional obedience is to become the new normal and liberty and self determination can go begging for takers.
These are the possessed, the chosen ones who seek to possess others. They are the under godders who are filled with everything but a sincere and genuine love for their fellow man, for America, or for life itself. To compensate for their lack of authenticity they seek out authority and willingly substitute thoughtless obedience for the struggle towards human enlightenment. Rather, they are hatched in churches like a McDonald chicken, strictly reactive, unsympathetic, robotic and dogmatically driven by ideology rather than justice. It is what they call manliness -- a loveless disconnection from life. By virtue of their creed, they consider themselves separate, special, and apart. It is the rationale used by religious groups throughout history variously known in America as separatist, puritan, protestant, orders of Catholicism, Lutheran, Congregationalist, Calvinist, Baptist, Methodist and so on. Those are the labels they coined for themselves long before Sigmund Freud identified the separatist character as symptomatic of schizophrenic psychosis.
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George Orwell brought the word doublethink into the world as a way to describe the schizophrenic or separatist mentality. It is the condition in which two contradictory statements are held in the mind while both are believed to be true. The examples he uses are the Big Brother axioms of his novel, 1984: War is Peace, Slavery is Freedom, Strength is Ignorance. When these irreconcilables are thought to be equivalent then the entire moral compass of human conscience becomes inoperable, the power of human will has been surrendered to a well adjusted life as a mindless drone in dystopia, an obedient slave to a corporate master, or a resident of an authoritarian dictatorship. However, in America the most overheard expression of doublethink is camouflaged in the biblical: God is Love. To a rational mind love is the creative joy of life that is felt and shared equally by all while the concept of a God is nothing more than an irrational delusion . The separatist removes the human heart and humanity from the equation. To them, love is something that belongs to God and is what He bestows upon His trusting and obedient servants and to whom all thanks and tribute must be given. The rational mind is repulsed by the mental posturing necessary to put oneself into such a position whereas the doublethink mentality cleaves to it like sheep to a shepherd.
A simple diagnostic will show what I mean. The phrases: under foreign rule, under tyranny, under dictatorship, and under God can all be read as grammatically correct, emotionally familiar and intellectually sound. But read: under love, under liberty, under freedom, under happiness and the mind goes awry. They are unacceptable and as ridiculous as they are intolerable. So Wisconsin is not about control of the economy, it is for hearts and minds and the power to control the destinies of men, women and children. And as Orwell went on to illustrate, the authoritarian mind is not content with mere obedience. It must make people suffer; cut benefits, cause hunger, joblessness, homelessness, crumble education, pollute the environment, jack up incarceration rates and multiply the sick and dependent. It is the only way the dictatorial mentality can be sure people believe and not merely obey their otherwise impotent and illegitimate grip on power. Wisconsin is not a budget war, it is the war of worlds -- two separate and distinct worlds.
In 2010 the University College of London's, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience (<14 March 2011> http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342239/Brain-study-reveals-right-wing-conservatives-larger-primitive-amygdala.html.) scanned the brains of two groups comprised of those who identified themselves as religious and political conservatives and those who described themselves as left-wingers or liberals. What they found correlates with another study conducted in 2007 by New York University and UCLA (<14 March 2011> http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-politics10sep10,0,5982337.story.) that tested the neurobiology of political attitudes through various cognitive response procedures. The brain scans revealed a scientifically significant difference in shape, density and size between the right-wing and left-wing brain. The right-wingers had a more pronounced right amygdala, the most primitive or rudimentary part of the brain that stores rage and fear. Whereas liberals showed enlarged or more pronounced anterior cingulates, that part between the two halves of the brain where the nerve cells of neurons flow into the frontal lobes. The cingulate forms the connections and associations necessary for thought and social networking as distinct from the amygdala's fight or flight function.