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Sunday, November 7, 2010

On Persecution, and the Inalienable Right to Be Weird

(Or, Against Cultural Hegemony)

One often hears Jefferson's words, "Life, Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness".
These words, and the Document containing them, are trotted out, and waved around, by the Put- Upon Militant Right, whenever they feel that they have been given short shrift.("Compromise" = "give us everything we want.")
Someone has convinced them that they are, somehow, a Persecuted Minority...that "Liberals" in Government and Hollywood and Academia are actively endeavoring to enslave them; indeed, that there is a sinister Conspiracy of Left Wing Elites attempting (and succeeding!) in making this encircled lot of True Americans, variously, Gay, Effete, Poor, put the Liberal Bootheel on the neck of these Chosen of God.
I have searched, and researched, the available data...History, News,etc...and , for the life of me, cannot find a single instance of this actually happening...besides those many instances where we all....All of Us....are in that situation.
The Record is filled with evidence that All of Us are, indeed, Put Upon, and Enslaved by an Elite....I'll not argue the contrary.
Where the Narrative breaks down, however, is in the Identity of this Elite...and It's They are the very insitutions, individuals and Think Tanks and Cabals, who fund, and Lead, these Fired Up Rightists.
The same ones that they defend.
The same nefarious ones who's bidding the Put-Upon Right willingly does.
The record is not, in any way, Clear...there has been copious Mud thrown into that Water....(see Beck and Jonah Goldberg)
But the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence is that the Right has (however unwittingly) supported their own, and everyone else's, Enslavement...
By what I have termed the Machine.
There is, however, a quite large contingent of our Culture who has felt the Boot more sharply than any on the Right....those who work against the Machine.
Those who are Different, somehow, than the "Mainstream"....whose Dignity will not allow them to Conform for Conformity's Sake.
From the Progressives of the late 19th Century, to the Socialists of the first Labor Movements, to People of Color, to Beatnicks, Queers, Hippies, Intellectuals, Women in General, Young People, in General....anyone, it turns out, who was not White, Christian, Male, and supportive of the Dogma of Corporate Capitalism and the Cultural Homogenaity that goes with it.
These are the Folks who have been Beaten and Killed, had Dogs set upon them, been Discriminated Legislation, Officially...or by "Regular People", as in the Strange Fruit Phenomenon of the Civil Rights Period in the South, or the Queer strung up in the Barbed Wire.
There is even copious amounts of Video/Film Evidence...
I can find no instance of Political Violence being visited on the Put-Upon Right, by Liberals, Socialists, or anyone...unless one counts the American Civil War.( quite a stretch)The Usual Suspects, the Weathermen, et alia,are used to refute this...the Pullman Strikes, and on and on...but who, in these instances (which are quite Rare) brought out the Nightstick, in leiu of Dialog and Compromise?These , rare, instances were, at best a Reaction to Violence from the Right...from the Machine. Find me an example of "Liberals" instigating Violence on "Innocent" Right Wingers. Indeed, the current "Liberal" Administration has lost the support of what remains of the Left, by bending over backwards, in an illadvised attempt to Placate these Put-Upon Rightists.And when this Administration released a report regarding the rise of Right Wing Violence, they were the Right...with Violent, Eliminationist Rhetoric!
In the field of is not, as is so often said, with anguish, Christians who are beaten, or pushed out of Society...but, rather, Non Christians. From Wiccans, now Muslims, even the more Tolerant and Peaceful Christian Sects, Quakers,etc...all of these have bourn more than their fair share of theWiretap,the Boot,the Dog and the Gun....with the Self-Righteous and Whole- Hearted Support of the very people who then Cry Persecution when they are Questioned or Challenged.
Currently, in this Surreal Time of Tea Party Politics, the Right seems to believe, with all evidence to the contrary, that they are the Agrieved and Threatened Minority. That it is their Victims, on the Left, who are the Oppressors.
They have fashioned, with much Corporate help, a Narrative that is Upside Down, Inside Out....and no one can disabuse them of their percieved status as Put Second Threatened.
They seem to honestly believe that, for instance, the Government is "Out to Get Them"...when they and theirs have been in Control of that Government for 30+ years....that 2 years of an, at best, Center-Left Administration and Legislature, has somehow put us all in Communist Chains....and undone the Damage that their Control of that Government has done.
This Surreal Narrative has become, amazingly, the Conventional Wisdom...the dominant Political Narrative of our times.
And there is no, Zero, Objective Evidence to support it.
It is entirely Fictional.
It is, of course , their Unalienable Right to believe such Nonsense....and I will defend that Right....herein lies the Difference.
I am a Weirdo...a Strange Anomaly.
Almost every descriptor one can use for me puts me in that segment of Society that is ,Truly, Put Upon.
I represent, in my very Being, those whom the Machine, and it's Unwitting Supporters on the Right, has Demonised at every turn.
Intellectual, Liberal (in the Classic,Pre-Propaganda Sense of the Word), Dope Smoking, Hippie...Non-Christian...Egalitarian...Feminist...Non-Racist....Pro-Union...Anti-War.
I am Poor, which in many ways, is the greatest Sin in America, today.

As I've said before, Outside the Box, Personified.
The only area where I am not is Race....and Gender....I am a White Male.
But I am married to a Mexican Woman, my kids are "Half-Breeds"...and I am descended from Czechs, the Irish and the Cherokees...all of whom have, at one time or another, been despised and beaten by the" Mainstream".(See the Etymology of "Slavic",the "Tril of Tears", and the treatment of Irish Immigrants during the Great Migration.)
Where are those on the right who will stand up and defend me?
Few and Far Between.
Instead, I am "Traitor", America-Hater", "Socialist/Commie", "Faggot", "Satanist"(!?), "Lazy"....
I , and folks like me, are to be Eliminated...we are "Vermin". (see Glenn Beck, et alia..."Cockroaches"...and, yet, it is somehow wrong to label them Fascist).
The Right has claimed America for themselves, to the exclusion of everyone else, save (unknowingly, for the most part) their Corpo-Elite Masters. The Narrative is that the Rest of Us are Insufficiently American....and, therefore, don't count.
A casual listen to Talk Radio, Fox News, the Right Wing blogosphere (Freepers, I'm speaking of you.) gives credence to my accusations, and the Lie to the Right's Denial of these Objective Facts. Rhetoric Matters.
What remains of the Left, "represented" by the Non Blue Dog Democrats, is too Polite, I call this what it is...
Instead, they bend backwards, prostrate themselves to "Bipartisanship" (how's that working?)...and allow the Right to control the Debate, and even the Language of the Debate.
The Right provides the Narrative, and the Definitions of Words...and "Liberals" accept this, without a Peep.
I Fear for my country.
If the( Nominal) Left Wing continues it's Appeasment Policies, if they continue to refuse to Stand Up, the Right....and their Neofeudal Corporations, Hedgefunds, "Think-Tanks", and Legions of what can be accurately described as Brownshirts....will have won.
....and that would spell the end , not only of the American Experiment, but the demise of the Enlightenment, itself.
Forgotten, in the Narrative of the their Version of American the concept of "Pluralism".
Pluralism assumes that there is not one, but many sources of Power, Value, and that there are many Paths to God, Ways of Living.
That these many are Valid...
Pluralism is in direct opposition to Monism...that there can be Only One...whether it's Religion, Economic System or Value System.
The Right is Monist.
Only "My" Religion is the "True" Religion...all others are, necessarily, Evil...and in Opposition to "My" "One True Religion".
Similarly, only Capitalism, as "We" concieve it, is Valid.
The Power Structures of Preenlightenment Feudalism, and the Social Norms of 1950's America, are percieved as the "Best", and "Only" ways of doing things.
All others are, of neccessity, Evil, "Wrong"...and to be "Stamped Out".
Pluralism is , on the other hand, Egalitarian...and Diverse.
Under a Pluralistic System, like Federalism, there are "Many ways to skin a cat"...different States are Laboratories, wherein different ways of doing things are tried, then evaluated.
Different Religions, as in the Interpretatio Graeca of the Classical Period, are seen as Equally Valid...You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine, as long as we Agree that we each have a Right to Exist.
This Coexistence is at the Heart of Pluralism,whether Political, Cultural or Religious,'re Good is not necessarily My Good...the only Commonality that is Required is that we "Agree to Disagree"...Peacefully.
As I have said often, when arguing with Trolls, "I don't care if you Worship my long as you do not Force me to...and don't Annoy my Geese."
This view embraces Diversity, as long as the Common Good can be found.
What business is it of mine, if the Speaking in Tongues Church on the corner believes that theirs is the Only Path to Heaven?
So long as they don't force such views on the rest of us, I will defend their Right to believe such nonsense.
Similarly, if Oklahoma decides to become a Theocracy...doesn't matter to me, and might be interesting to long as they allow those who don't agree to leave, or be let alone.
The problem is Force.
No one should be Forced to believe a certain way, behave a certain way, except where such behavior is necessary for Coexistence.
Under this view, it can be argued that Corporate Capitalism is Harmful to our continued Coexistence...and thus should at least be Regulated, to limit the Damage to "The Rest of Us".
Inherent in Pluralism is the Idea of Common Good....a nebulous concept, I admit.
The Common Good can be aprehended if Everyone has a seat at the Table...
In fact, this is the underlying Philosophy of those who set up our System...the Founding Fathers.
They, in the Constitution, set up both a Fence and a Floor...a Fence around the Federal Government (this far, and no further)...and a Floor underneath the People (this much Freedom, and No Less.).
We are, according to our Founding Document, designed to be a Pluralist Civilisation...not Monist.
The Concepts of "Common Good"," Freedom of Religion" and Freedom of Thought and Speech are rooted in Pluralism.

The Right, however, insists that There Can Be Only Religion(currently Xianity...but if they succeed in that, they'll turn on each other.History Rhymes.), one Economic System, one Morality, one Value System, one acceptible Mode of Dress, Sexual Preference, Cohabitation (one man, one woman),etc, etc.
Under the Monism of the Right, a Cultural Hegemony is necessary...
The problem with this, aside from it's lack of Historical Underpinnings in America, is: Who's Culture,etc is to be The One?
Who shall decide what mode of dress is acceptable?What Church? What choice of Intoxicant/Relaxant?
What Language?
It is assumed, without Thought, that "Ours" is to be the One...whithout ever bothering to define "Ours". Who is "We"?

I, a Liberal Wierdo...a Square Peg,...under Pluralism, have the Inalienable Right to be Strange, Wierd, Different....with the Necessary Caveat that I harm None.
If my Actions, Beliefs,etc do not Harm Anyone, I am Free to persue them.
What does it matter if I decide I'm a Pagan, and build an Altar to the Godess in my Garden? does it Harm the folks at the Falling Down on the Floor Church on the corner?
Or if my Neighbor is Gay, and Marries his Boyfriend, adopts some unwanted Child as their own?
Or if my other Neighbor prefers Marijuana to Alcohol?
Nudity to Textilism?
As long as they/we are not Harming anyone, nor Forcing our own Beliefs on anyone, it's All Good.
Pluralism, not Cultural Hegemony, is the American Way....and to forget that essential Fact is to hand Our Future over to the Violent Right...who will, in time, find that there is much disaggreement among their own Hegemonists...which Brand of Xianity is to be Ascendant, etc.
Monism is a Sure Path to War and Violence...and Liberals must construct a Narrative, Post Haste, to counter the Hegemony that is inherent in that of the Right.


Evie said...

Positive Thought & Action ~ WE are the change we are waiting for ~ we have ALWAYS been the change we are waiting for ... it is time to stop waiting and start acting. In Perfect Love and perfect Trust ~ Positive Thought & Action.

Anonymous said...

My god, Joe, that is absolutely incredible! I wish I could force every lunatic right-winger to read it! But then....I'd be doing exactly what you've so eloquently spoken against, wouldn't I?

To a brighter future for our children.


Anonymous said...

The writer says he has searched high and low for an instance of the Left's hegemonism. As there are numerous instances now of conservative and religious teachers and students being disciplined, ostracized and expelled because of their beliefs, will this writer retract his global statement? Or is it, "right wing lives don't matter"?

amfortas the hippie said...

I have seen no evidence of what you allege....Right Wingers/Christofascists, et alia, being on the run...a ragged band of persecuted wastrels, just longing for peace and a place to lay their weary heads.
That woman in Kentucky...the county clerk who failed to do her job...that wasn't persecution.
As a thought experiment: lets say I was, somehow, the county clerk here, in Rural Texas(I know my demographics, and don't feel like looking up that of Kentucky)...and I was an Atheist.
Perhaps I became an Atheist after I was elected/hired(this woman, if I remember correctly, found Jesus after her hiring)...and took it upon myself to not serve Christians.
(my county is approximately 10% non-christian)
I would be immediately fired...and likely excoriated, if not lynched,lol.
It would be perfectly right to fire me...not because I was an atheist...but because my job was to serve the Citizens of this county...all of them, without distinction.
Ergo, this ain't persecution.
This Kentucky saga is merely the first instance that comes to mind.
I'd be happy to knock down any others you may have....unless it really was persecution; then I would defend such victims with all my might, be they Christian, or even the KKK.
That's what it means to be a Liberal, in my taxonomy.

amfortas the hippie said...

Or, lets take the usual allegation of Good Christian Teachers being fired for Preaching, rather than Teaching, in a public School.
We have enjoyed, in this county, a 20+ year run of a dual credit, civic/economics "teacher"(who is also a "Lay Preacher") who forced his students to watch Fox "news", and to Boo when Bill Clinton was mentioned, and cheer when St Ron the Befuddled was...and who's Economics Curriculum was mimeographed material from the Heritage Foundation(right there at the bottom of each page).
He finally retired...with, I assume, all his benefits intact.
We also have an English also retired...who regularly held forth about Evil Liberals and Commies and the Bad bad Mooslims...and that Kenyan Usurper in the White House...
and(!!!!)...we also had a Biology Teacher who was fond of ruminating on Genesis and Noah when the topic of Natural Selection was reached...Thankfully, she's retired, too.
None of these folks were called on the carpet...although the Lay Preacher did finally get his TV taken his last semester...
This, after numerous complaints, by me, and folks I know.
We've got the Gideons wandering around at will at the elementary least twice...and these are just the things I've heard about happening regularly and in class...
I often hear tell of Liberal Professors, indoctrinating our my own college experience(2 jr colleges and Sam Houston State), I had maybe 3 Liberal-ish Profs...but they never preached.
The numerous right winger profs, on the other hand, preached often.
I have heard similar anecdotal tales from numerous folks I know.
I don't know how to determine if the oft heard lament of some Liberal Invasion of Academia is really a thing or not...aside from reading Academic Journals...and considering the source of such laments. David Horowitz, for

All of this is to do not Retract.
I stand by it.
It seems perfectly obvious.
We've been in an Anti-Enlightenment Phase of Civilisation for my whole life, after all...and now that Liberals are finally, at long last, emerging from the closet...along with Gay Folks, and People of Color, the Right is freaking out.
I weep for their plight...having to share the world with people who are different from them, and whom they don't like.
Perhaps a little Butthurt on their part is good for their souls...and a fine example of Karma...
It's sad that their learning curve is so steep and tall.