Shorter David Brooks: ‘You’re all paranoid idiots’
In this thrilling issue of the NYT, David Brooks explains how teabaggers are like the New Left because they distrust authority figures and protest in the streets. Of course, this is all very silly and zealous, Bobo explains. But just in case anyone dares accuse him of portraying protesters as cartoonishly simplified lemmings, he clarifies:
There are many differences between the New Left and the Tea Partiers. One was on the left, the other is on the right. One was bohemian, the other is bourgeois. One was motivated by war, and the other is motivated by runaway federal spending. One went to Woodstock, the other is more likely to go to Wal-Mart.
And there you have it. You’re either stoned out of your gourd — probably naked and covered in mud — in some Hudson Valley field, or you’re a poor redneck who has to buy tube socks in bulk at Wal-Mart. (I smell a sitcom!)
Either way, if you’re protesting, you’re a fucking lunatic.
Members of both movements believe in what you might call mass innocence. Both movements are built on the assumption that the people are pure and virtuous and that evil is introduced into society by corrupt elites and rotten authority structures. “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains,” is how Rousseau put it.
Yeah! What’s with protesters holding the authorities responsible for going to war and bailing out Wall Street, while citizens lose their jobs and homes, accountable for those actions?
It’s not like you’re so innocent, protester. I’ll bet you’ve done shady stuff before. Maybe you downloaded a song illegally, or slipped out of work a few minutes early on a Friday evening. Well, that’s stealing, and don’t pretend you didn’t know that! You’re just as bad as the people responsible for killing a million Iraqis, building weapons that burn the flesh off children, sending thousands of US and allied troops to die, and stealing trillions of dollars in taxpayer cash. ”Mass innocence,” my ass. I think Rousseau said that, too.
Because of this assumption, members of both movements go in big for conspiracy theories. The ’60s left developed elaborate theories of how world history was being manipulated by shadowy corporatist/imperialist networks — theories that live on in the works of Noam Chomsky. In its short life, the Tea Party movement has developed a dizzying array of conspiracy theories involving the Fed, the F.B.I., the big banks and corporations and black helicopters.
Yeah!! You guys and your crazy conspiracy theories about corporations holding enormous power and influence within the United States.
I mean, sure, massive mergers and privatization mean that fewer corporations control more aspects of American culture than ever before in the country’s history. For example, around ten conglomerates own pretty much every major media outlet in America, but you have TEN to choose from! Suck on that, Chomsky! Savor the rich differences between an AOL/Time Warner cable service or an AT&T package. (FYI: You may want to go with AOL. AT&T will probably wiretap your phones).
Some paranoid maniacs claim that just because SCOTUS voted in Citizens United that corporations are protected by the First Amendment that those corporations can now spend unlimited funds on electing or defeating candidates. Except, that’s really nothing new. The Supreme Court already opened the flood gates for corporate spending in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC (WRTL) circa 2006.
That case held that advertisements capable of an interpretation other than an admonition to vote for or against a candidate are protected under the First Amendment. In other words, even before Citizens United, a corporation could spend all its treasury money on ads days before an election urging listeners to “call Congressman X and tell him his liberal policies are destroying America.”
So there you have it. You’re being paranoid if you think new laws permit corporations to shape politics. It’s been that way all along.
Stop right there. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, the blue dog Democrats received more health industry cash than any other lawmakers, and — surprise, surprise — they’re the ones voting against reform.
Okay, and, look: maybe AT&T spies on you. And maybe corporations pour vast amounts of money into electing politicians who end up shaping policies based on the bribes that got them elected in the first place. And maybe fewer conglomerates control more of your life then ever before. Regardless: quit acting paranoid.
Teabaggers are just as bad. I mean, if you can’t trust the banks that stole trillions of dollars from taxpayers after engaging in a giant Ponzi scheme involving unethical lending and derivative trading, then who CAN you trust? Chomsky?? Fuck that guy.
Because of this assumption, members of the Tea Party right, like the members of the New Left, spend a lot of time worrying about being co-opted. They worry that the corrupt forces of the establishment are perpetually trying to infiltrate the purity of their ranks.
Because of this assumption, members of both movements have a problem with authority. Both have a mostly negative agenda: destroy the corrupt structures; defeat the establishment. Like the New Left, the Tea Party movement has no clear set of plans for what to do beyond the golden moment of personal liberation, when the federal leviathan is brought low.
Quit worrying about being co-opted, crazies. It’s not like front groups try to organize tea party events disguised as grassroots events, or the government has ever infiltrated protest groups in the past. Sure, the NSA spies on everything from landline phones to cell phones, and internet, and has done so since before 9/11, but they’re just keeping us safe. You can stop fretting about “The Man” popping your purity cherry, okay? Yeesh.
Bobo and I know you guys are worried about authority figures. You’re probably thinking: How do I know I can trust the people who led my country into unwinnable quagmires with two Muslim countries, want to nuke Iran, spy on me, refuse to give my good healthcare, and brought the world’s economies to the brink of extinction?
Just believe, you guys. Just believe. Bobo says everything is going to be alright, and you can trust the Very Serious People In Control. Bobo’s never been wrong about anything, ever…except maybe all the times he was horrifically, horribly wrong.
That “wrong” stuff is in the past, though. Protesters need to believe that the government is in control, and elected officials are their intellectual and spiritual betters. A long time ago, a bunch of old white dudes got together and decided the hysterical herd couldn’t be trusted with any kind of decision-making.
To remedy our fallen condition, conservatives believe in civilization — in social structures, permanent institutions and just authorities, which embody the accumulated wisdom of the ages and structure individual longings.
That idea was rejected in the 1960s by people who put their faith in unrestrained passion and zealotry. The New Left then, like the Tea Partiers now, had a legitimate point about the failure of the ruling class. But they ruined it through their own imprudence, self-righteousness and naïve radicalism.
You see, liberals don’t believe in civilization. After electing a Democratic president and Democratically-controlled Congress, I’m honestly surprised America hasn’t deteriorated into a scene from 28 Days Later. Somehow, the buses are all still running on time. Water still comes out of the faucets. Weird. There must be an apocalypse delay, or something.
As for you smug, aging hippies, just answer me this: what did the lunatics from the 60s — the ones filled with that “unrestrained passion and zealotry” — get us?
I mean… other than the African-American civil rights movement…and the feminist movement…and the gay liberation movement.
…Fine, maybe you guys got some stuff done, but then you ruined it by pointing out the fact that you were right all along, and The Man was wrong. Way to be a bunch of egotistical showoffs!
Do us a favor, the next time you’re right about everything with all your “outrage” and “political protest,” keep it to yourself, okay? You’re upsetting Bobo.