Monday, August 13, 2012

Week of 08/13/2012

Token Enemies
– by David Matthews 2

What is it with both liberals and conservatives? With all of the faults that each side has, why do they feel compelled to manufacture enemies? And, more specifically, why choose enemies that are dead?

Let’s start with the liberals. The liberals seem to have an obsessive fixation on denigrating objectionist author Ayn Rand. Ms. Rand, of course, cannot defend against these accusations because she died about thirty years ago. But that doesn’t stop liberals in their continual assault on Rand, and libertarians, and linking them to the GOP and both conservatives and neo-conservatives.

The problem started when conservatives, and especially neo-conservatives, began referencing Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged” as arguments to selectively slash government services. Congressman Paul Ryan, the GOP’s head “right-sizer” and new Romney running-mate, invoked Rand’s book as the supposed reason why he joined public service in the first place. Certainly the so-called “Tea Party” crowd has been quick to invoke Rand’s works in their demand to “fix government”.

Apparently that brought Ayn Rand into one of the key tenants of political warfare: Find the other side’s gods and then kill them. Of course the liberals were a few decades too late to literally do that to Ms. Rand, but they can quickly denigrate her name and her positions.

But if Ms. Rand were alive today, she probably wouldn’t be happy about the people using her words for their causes. She challenged many institutions, including and especially religion, one of the key pillars of the conservatives. She denounced statism in all its forms, but she also denounced libertarianism, which she attributed to being anarchism. She condemned same-sex relationships, but she also condemned the laws prohibiting it. She condemned a military draft, but she also considered draft-dodgers to be “bums”.

Now for libertarians, these contradictions make sense. But to simplistic black-or-white minds in liberal-versus-conservative world, these contradictions are confusing.

In fact, when faced with the truth about Ms. Rand’s paradoxical positions, Congressman Ryan immediately condemned the late Russian immigrant and invoked his own Soviet-style historical revisionism about his love of her works and words. Don’t worry, though, Congressman Ryan will have a few months to try to get that sorted out.

Listen up liberals, I’m going to give you the dirty little secret about the conservative and neo-conservative fascination about Ayn Rand: like everything else they claim to support, cons and neo-cons only have a selective love of Rand’s words, and that’s only for the stuff that gives them political power.

They love the part of cutting government, but only for the programs they personally don’t like. They’ll use her words to decry socialism and communism, but they won’t touch the parts that also decry fascism and theo-conservatism. They love the part of her hating draft-dodgers and condemning homosexuality, but they forget about her wanting to bar the draft and repeal the sodomy laws. They love her love of true laize-faire capitalism, but they despise the part where she believes it’s a better god than religion could ever provide.

In other words, they don’t really love Ayn Rand or truly support what she believed in. They only love power.

And it’s not just Ayn Rand. They’ll do the same thing to just about any book that would help them in their love of power. They would cite line and verse from comic books if doing so gave them that power. Come to think of it, comic book villain Lex Luthor did get elected President of the United States back in 2000.

Oh, but don’t get so hoity, conservatives and neo-conservatives, because you’re next! The liberals are rank amateurs compared to the character assassination and false-god tactics that you guys practically invented.

Let’s talk about Charles Darwin, a man who died back in 1882 but is still being blamed by both evangelicals and conservatives for all of the evils going on in the world today.

Darwin established a theory of natural selection, of which plants and animals came to be as they were in the 19th Century. It is a theory that is put in practice today by pet breeders, animal trainers, and botanists. Much like Copernicus and Galileo, Darwin was castigated by religious leaders for noticing something that went contrary to the supposed “established religious doctrine”.

And yet evangelicals will still spend countless hours on the pulpit condemning a man that has died over a hundred and thirty years ago. Conservatives will spend time on television and radio and in newspaper columns talking about crime rates and mass-murder sprees, and then point to Mister Darwin and pompously proclaim that all of it is “his” fault! How dare he make an observation about plants and animals that led other people to create a process known as “evolution” that is now taught in schools instead of the sanitized Book of Genesis! How dare he!

Even today, conservatives and theo-conservatives are waging war in the school boards of the South over that very subject; constantly reliving the Snopes Trial of the 1920’s in the vain hope of finally getting it right. After all, they won the original court case, but they lost the argument. And no doubt they’ll blame that on Darwin as well!

And yet, while they deride Darwin, they will also cheerfully embrace one of the offshoots of his observation of evolution; namely Social Darwinism! They argue even to this day that their successes, and the successes of the business world, are all a matter of just being better than rest of the people. They claim that they work harder and better than other people, so they prosper while the “weak” fail. That’s Social Darwinism, guys! You are embracing the benefits of a theory that you categorically object to in the name of politics!

But their token hatred of Charles Darwin pales in comparison to the passionate hatred conservatives and neo-conservatives exhibit towards German-born Karl Marx, who died in 1883.

Conservatives and theo-conservatives and neo-conservatives all like to beat their chests and claim that they like to compare the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and “The Communist Manifest”; a book written by Marx along with Friedrich Engels.

So let’s see, you have on your supposed reading list:

1. A declaration of separation and war that includes a list of charges made against the King of England which are not entirely the truth or have been exaggerated for effect. (Read the part about the Indians if you don’t believe me.)

2. A framework for establishing a new country based on principles that the authors themselves were not yet ready to fully embrace, including a list of amendments that the conservatives and neo-conservatives and theo-conservatives are guilty of sabotaging at every opportunity.

3. A speculative book written by two 19th century authors about how they see society eventually becoming.

No, I’m not kidding. That is all that “The Communist Manifesto” really is. It is speculation about social evolution beyond the 19th century timeframe. It is fiction!

You could substitute Aldus Huxley’s book “Brave New World” or Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” or H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” for all the good that it will do! In fact you would find more accurate social trends using Bradbury’s book along with the works of George Orwell and Robert Heinlein.

But, again, they’re fiction! And you’re trying to compare them to historical documents? That’s like complaining because the world didn’t turn out the way Gene Roddenberry painted it in the 1960’s for his TV series “Star Trek”! Yeah, where’s the Eugenics War and Kahn Noonian Singh? Where’s the Mars Colony? The “Great Bird of the Galaxy” said we should have done those things by now.

And yet conservatives and neo-conservatives and theo-conservatives want to get on their soapboxes and get in front of the radio microphones and cable news cameras and talk about Marx, a man that has been dead for almost a hundred and thirty years, and blame him for all of the ills in society today.

You can’t even apply Marx’s theories to world affairs today! The failure of the Soviet Union proved you can’t force society to suddenly “evolve” which was what Lenin and the other leaders of the Soviet Union tried to do. And it’s easy for other nations to embrace tyrannical dictates when they never really had a democratic system to supposedly “evolve from”. All you’re doing then is just swapping one dictatorial form of leadership with another and then calling that “communism”. It doesn’t make it so any more than claiming that democracy in and of itself produces freedom.

Let’s get brutally honest here… much like what the liberals do with Ayn Rand, the conservatives and neo-conservatives and theo-conservatives are fixated on Karl Marx and Charles Darwin because they are nothing more than token enemies. It’s like picking a fight with Godzilla, knowing full well that Godzilla won’t just come up behind you and stomp on you.

You can’t even call this the “straw man argument”. This is the “Dead Argument”. Dead people can’t fight back. Dead people can’t call you a liar or challenge you to back up your claims, or to take you to court for defamation. Perfectly suited for stagnant political parties with nothing to really offer society, except to waste their time and a lot of our money.

And that’s really the whole purpose of focusing their energies on token enemies that happen to be dead. If liberals are wasting time and energy harping about Ayn Rand, and if conservatives and neo-conservatives and the evangelicals are wasting their time and energy harping about Charles Darwin and Karl Marx, then they don’t have to spend one scintilla of energy or effort on today’s issues and today’s problems.

Liberals don’t have to answer for their spineless incompetence when they could go on and on about whether or not Ayn Rand accepted government assistance in her final years. Conservatives and their allies don’t have to deal with the problems of a broken economy or their own role in wasteful spending if they’re harping about Darwin’s theory of how plants and animals got started, or if they’re calling people “Marxists”.

Nothing gets done because both groups are busy bitching about dead people.

Ayn Rand is dead. She died long before the movers and shakers of big industry would screw over the rest of the United States. Her only “sin” is that she wrote books that espoused ideas that are currently being used to further screw over the nation.

Charles Darwin is dead. His only “sin” is that he had eyes and a mind and made some simple observations about how the world really operates as opposed to what the statist religious doctrines pronounced. And while he wasn’t the only one that made those observations at the time, he certainly is the one that gets the undeserving attention from those that are quick to castigate it.

Karl Marx is dead. His only “sin” is that he wrote a piece of fiction that other people think should become reality. He provided an idea that sounds appealing to those that have little, but it really is no different than the delusional fantasies you see on those “Get Rich Now” infomercials on late-night TV, or, for that matter, of the promises made by religious leaders of kingly rewards for fidelity and loyalty.

Both conservatives and liberals need to stop wasting time harping on dead people and start focusing on the problems affecting those currently alive. And if it is the ideas of those dead people that is what truly frightens these political groups, then the solution for them is simple: prove those ideas wrong.

1 comment:

YhuntressE said...

I have my own issues with Ms. Rand and Objectivism, but even I'm getting sick of them ranting about her. Though my issues are more with her theories creating some of the biggest jerks I ever came across, inspiring some really bad financial ideas (even her fanboy, Greenspan, recanted) and with the exception of Steve Ditko, inspiring authors who have some very creepy views on women. I know with some people it's not their fault that a huge chunk of their fandom are creeps (Lauren Faust of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), but when you feed people the idea of pretty much everyone else is a stupid parasite who should be barely tolerated at best because they want to destroy the elites (which is you and a select few), greed is good while empathy is bad and have a big messiah complex, you reap what you sew.

The whole "The Market is a religion" thing is dangerous since it excludes ideas of compassion, love and things money can't buy as frivolous. I can see the concern, but it's starting to get old even for me.