MoveOn and the Tea Party are, at least in my view, two sides to the same coin: tools the ruling class uses to co-opt popular sentiment and to squash any sense of an authentic people’s movement. Folks often think voting matters. Sometimes, maybe, but a lot of the time it doesn’t, and is only useful in reasserting the problem – leaving it unsolved. What matters more is the building of popular movements beyond the control and influence of private and state power.
Tools of Tyranny; MoveOn Tea Party
I saw a recent Quinnipiac University poll that recently came out that said something like 75% of self-described tea baggers vote GOP. That’s not at all surprising. The same is true for MoveOn and Democrats.
True, many of the tea baggers have many ignorant conceptions about economics and government – not to mention immigration, race, culture, abortion, etc. I don’t need you liberals and lefties pointing me to youtube videos and huffingtonpost slideshows of rallies showing off their signs.
… the same is true for the MoveOn folks – and by folks I loosely include supporters, and I realize there are various shades of grey. I know many liberals who fall into the “dove” category of Chomsky’s dove-hawk analysis (here is a great example), or who are apologists for capitalism, or who are so blinded by partisan bullshit that it doesn’t matter what the Democrats do they reflexively support, excuse or play apologia for them. The point is that MoveOn works primarily to cement them to a political party that due to the structural realities of our political system (if each dollar of a private campaign donation is seen as a kind of vote then due to income inequality the rich get to vote more) does not and will not represent them. "We know you’re fed up but come out and vote Demorat and send Washington a message!" This does nothing to challenge how private interests lubricate government.
I have gotten sucked into listening to Rush Limbaugh during my lunches, and on my way home: Mark Levin. That these two men are shills for capitalist, imperialist thugs is probably difficult to detect by their listening supporters. They say the right things that touch on our dissatisfaction with government even if much of it is nonsensical and partisan to boot. It’s their silence on the business community that I wish their followers would pick up on.
Anywho, back to the coin issue. On both sides there are real concerns. The working class people whether from the Right or the Left are in broad agreement that things are not going well. Wages are down, the economy is a wreck, government is out of touch with the average person and we can look all around us to see things just aren’t right.
We know that politicians are too close to private power and only concerned with getting elected and re-elected. Being the social species we are we naturally seek out others who share our concerns, though we may often be blind to how the groups we find ourselves in are misleading us or holding us back from real or deeper solutions.
And that’s largely the function of MoveOn and Tea Party. These are tools the two tyrannous ruling-class political parties use to exploit popular discontent while simultaneously leading them back to (part of) the source of the problem: them. The function is to encourage the malcontents to vote for the Democrats and GOP. That’s how MoveOn got the Dems back in control of government, and that is what Tea Party is currently trying to do for the GOP – notice Sarah Palin’s recent comment at a re-elect McCain event: “Everyone here supporting John McCain, we are all part of that Tea Party movement.”
If we want to look for differences we can find them but what’s the point? To further divide us, to weaken us, to keep us from building a movement and focused on pointless ideological warfare? I think we will be better served, assuming we want meaningful resolutions to our concerns, by looking for and exploiting commonalities. This doesn’t mean moving from our positions. I am still a participatory anarchist. I still favor abolishing markets and capitalism. I still favor building a non-sexist, non-racist, non-authoritarian society. I want a participatory economy, and I think pinpointing our commonalities on healthcare, housing, education, the environment, getting government on the working class people’s side (which includes the Right and Left) will help me with realizing that.
Take Robin Hahnel’s essays on climate change late last year. He advocates a particular cap and trade treaty to help resolve climate change. By improving on the Kyoto Protocols we could lay seeds for a participatory economy. How we structure a binding international treaty between the developed and developing world helps lay those seeds of equitable cooperation for later germination. This kind of a treaty is not distinctively a parecon treaty. It’s something that many people from all walks of life can and should organize around.
I don’t think it will prove fruitful to try and create an Iteration Facilitation Board or workers and consumers councils at this point in time. But political and economic reforms that reduce the gaps between the have’s and the have-not’s while not immediately changing the institutional structures may be helpful steps leading us there.