Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Republican goals

I'm struggling with great difficulty to figure out the ultimate goal of the Republicans and Randian fascists. On the one hand, they've mastered the strategy and tactics of the struggle for power within the capitalist class and American "democracy"; their victory is almost assured in 2012 (a right-wing Republican president, a Republican legislature and a Republican-friendly Supreme Court). But what then? It's like a dog chasing a car: what will he do if he catches it?

The Republican party was in almost exactly the same position after 9/11: Formal control of the government and carte blanche among the people to use that formal power arbitrarily. They could have sent a million soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of a few hundred thousand, and they could have completely conquered them with Roman ruthlessness. They could have obliterated the Democratic party and liberal/progressive political organization, either with mass arrests or relentless propaganda. They could even, I think, have pretty much overtly pressured "liberal" Supreme Court justices to resign and packed the court to make their assumption of formal governmental power absolute.

They didn't do any of this: whatever their goals were (and we can feel confident that adhering to democratic standards of fair play are not among them), they failed to realize them, and they failed for reasons other than lack of opportunity. I don't know why they failed. I suspect they concentrated on "getting to the Superbowl" that when they got there, they didn't have the oomph to win it. To the extent that they had a plan, it was the narrow, unimaginative and immature idea to fight a few cool war: when they won it, everyone would like them.

The thing is, what do you do with power? In 1940, it was pretty clear what power was for: to take over the world. The Germans, Japanese, Americans and Russians all wanted to take over the world: In the 1980s, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the internal collapse of Chinese communism, the Americans finally won: we literally took over the world. It was a hell of a lot of fun winning the world, but actually running it, not so much.

The Nazis didn't take power just so they could act like assholes, they were assholes because that's what was necessary to be to take power. The world was up for grabs, and they wanted a try.

So I have to ask myself (and I still don't know the answer) why do the Republicans want power? Why do they want the kind of power they can get by being gigantic assholes? Why bother to oppose universal health care? Who cares if we have a $2 trillion stimulus? Why let 30,000,000 working-age adults sit around with their thumbs up their asses not even producing for the exclusive benefit of the ruling class? Over what is one faction of the 1% who own most everything fighting the other faction? They're not fighting for any standard of living; the capitalist ruling class avoids sybaritic decadence by choice, not necessity. They're not fighting over the world: they own the world. (They could, if they chose, subjugate the angry Islamic masses in six months. That they don't do so indicates only that they don't want to; they lack only the desire or will, not the means.)

Are they really fighting, as Orwell opined, just for the power to be as arbitrary, assholy and cruel as possible? Is the banal dystopia of 1984 really what hundreds of thousands of years of human development and ten thousand years of civilization, art, culture, science, philosophy, literature and human effort is leading up to?


  1. I think they have a lust for power, period. They want power for power's sake. Every move they make is to get more power. What they actually DO with the power, other than gathering more power, may be beside the point.

    I think that is probably why the GOP is so much better at ruthlessly exploiting and gaining power - the people who truly lust for it like nothing else all become GOP. People who have even the slightest hint of the notion that they might acutally do something GOOD with power, become Democrats, and when they spend time trying to accomplish things, they are undermined by the GOP who don't care about that, they only care about power. If only one side is ruthlessly seeking power (and exploiting it) while the other side isn't, that other side will always lose, and lose badly. Just like the Dems always lose.

  2. I think they have a lust for power, period.

    Perhaps. It's hard to say: it's not like the capitalist ruling class is letting a lot of shrinks or anthropologists into their heads.

    On the other hand, power simply for its own sake, with no underlying goal, plan or specific desire as to how to exercise the power, seems incredibly shallow and boring.

    Orwell's speculation that people seek the power to be cruel seems trivial. After your tenth Winston Smith, once you know precisely how the scene will play out time and again, where's the challenge? Where's the satisfaction? Even de Sade started running out of ideas, and he was constrained only by his imagination.

    People usually seem to gain power -- at least more power than needed for sybaritic decadence -- to remake the world according to some ideal. What is that ideal?

  3. I really think the national GOP is just about power lust, period. That would explain why there would seem to be no reliable way to predict what they will do other than that which gives them more power.

    True, there are the "true believers" - the tea bagger types - but then they are invariably disappointed as the GOP won't totally do what they want because the GOP knows to do so would be to lose power.

    The GOP seems to have no definitive goals - they will oppose a bill that they themselves supported when they had power, simply to deny power to the Dems. There is no rational reason to do so unless it is all about power rather than the underlying legislation or issue.

  4. I think an anthropological study of the Republicans as a culture would make interesting reading.

    I, too, have often wondered about the reasons for some of the Government's actions. If we treat the American ideals of liberty and prosperity as a species, and the supposed long-term goal is the survival of the species, then our Government seems to make an inordinate number of contra-survival decisions. One conclusion is that Government is a metastasizing cancer in the body politic.

    In my opinion, a more accurate description would be Government (especially by the current incarnation of Republicans) is composed of individual members of the American species who have evolved dramatically different values from the rest of the country.

    This is not to say that any group of more than three Americans could reach an agreement on much of anything, but that most Americans share a series of traits (largely unspoken shared cultural values, history, and mythology) which had proven to be survival oriented for the species in the past. The US Government, on the other hand, has a different set of survival traits, which have less and less in common with those of the general populace as time goes on.

  5. Do sociopaths need a reason for anything they do?

  6. Right now, the goal of the core of the Republican party -- the old men in the back room who really make the decisions, as opposed to clowns like Palin or puppets like Steele -- is to make the Democratic party look good by comparison to people who are still bothering to follow politics in any detail.

    During the 1960s and -70s, the two parties spent a lot of time making it more or less impossible that any third party would ever gain enough momentum to challenge them again. This seemed like a good idea to the leadership of both parties, who could not conceive that the world would change in any significant way.

    The first of the two parties whose leadership lost its grip was the Republicans. In 1980, Reagan was allowed to be the Republican candidate for President because (as happened again later with Palin) the party higher-ups figured that a moron would stay docile to hide his own doltishness. Instead, Reagan pushed a far right agenda, and brought in a crew of folks who had spent the '70s doing a variety of unsavory things, like writing propaganda in favor of Apartheid. This brought the religious right into serious prominence, which was not part of the plan.

    The non-religious part of the party regained control under Bush, and around the same time, the old leadership of the Democrats lost control. Thus in the early 1990s, the two parties made a deal: the Republicans would be theocratic "bad cops", while the Democrats would be the apparently populist "good cops". (That's the legacy of Clinton: the core of the Democratic party now has a policy of agreeing with the Republicans.)

    Unfortunately, the religious right has continued to gain momentum, and may soon take full official control of the Republican party, while the public is starting to notice that the Democrats don't really do anything for them any more. (The Democrats weren't actually supposed to do anything for the public; they were just supposed to avoid being too conspicuously bought.)

    Which of course suggests that you're right about some sort of American fascism in the near future. People who are smart are pretty thoroughly disillusioned with the Democrats now, which means most of the votes in the next race or two will come from people who are stupid, which has a lot of overlap with people who are religious -- and Republican.

    I can see four ways this could be avoided, or at least staved off.

    First, the old controllers of the Republican party could decide to jump ship to escape the theocrats. These are the folks who run the media, after all. Unlikely, but it could happen if the Teabaggers are successful at taking over the party by the end of 2010.

    Second, the Teabaggers could try to build a third party. This would almost certainly fail (see above), but it would split some of the religious vote away from the Republicans for a while, which could let the Democrats maintain power if they manage to backpedal enough.

    Third, the Democrats could actually manage to accomplish something popular between now and the 2012 election. Unlikely, because they're too beholden to a short list of rich special interests to be able to produce the sort of shakeup which would be necessary, but it could happen if they realize the consequences in time.

    And, lastly, something completely unexpected could happen which would change the political landscape significantly. Party leadership aren't the only people who are unable to foresee the unexpected, after all -- you and I could be wrong. It's hard to imagine what could do this, but that's kind of the point. I can think of at least one thing which could potentially do it: if the Yuan were unpegged from the dollar, it would have a wild and unpredictable effect on world economics during the following few years, with at least some superficial benefits in the west. And, what's more, it's more or less guaranteed to happen sooner or later, because the Chinese are getting tired of buying up our debt, and they can't keep the Yuan pegged without doing that.

  7. “why do the Republicans want power?” for the same reason many people want power. Maybe, subconsciously, for this very simple reason, is that ultimately all human endeavor remains useless no matter what you do. Because human consciousness is nothingness, the power hungry can’t just live with that alone, in opposition to thingness, the material. Freedom which itself has no particular purpose has become a tool for human struggle and so just to deny someone of it feels good for assholes.


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