My colleague at work, call her Jane, is British by birth and is still British by citizenship. She has been living here since the 70's, so I often kid her about being a Yankee by default. She is highly intelligent, well-traveled, and well-educated. We see eye-to-eye on a variety of issues. We are both lovers of literature, the great Romantic tradition, and have had some lively conversations about art, poetry, philosophy, and even politics. It is in the latter, however, that our perspectives begin to diverge.
When I told her that I was thinking about going to protest the government today, she seemed a bit surprised. She truly believes that the "tea party" movement is dominated by racists and narrow-minded white men clinging to their guns and their religion. While I could not disagree with her more, she did get me to thinking about what the tea party has become.
The tea parties began with the Ron Paul revolution. From what I remember, it was dominated by Libertarians, a strong "End the Fed" sentiment, and vocal 9/11 truth activists. I count myself friendly to each of these.
Now I see what my British friend sees: Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity... republicans.
I think it's unfortunate such a genuine anti-establishment, anti-tax, anti-big government, anti-big-brother movement has been captured by the familiar Left versus Right schism. It is a proven tactic that has worked well for our rulers in the past -- divide and conquer.
As long as people on the left, like my British friend, see divisive figures of the neo-con establishment serving as the lauded representatives of the tea party movement, then they will likewise view the movement itself with reflexive disdain -- a common reaction engendered by years of hating country-club, bible-beating, blow-hard republicans.
Once the establishment figureheads on either side of the political isle co opt an organic grass-roots movement -- half the audience is lost. The fight degenerates quickly along party lines. This makes our masters very happy.
-- I appreciate the old adage preaching to the choir. I think it aptly describes the relationship that most people have with Information. It is no secret that the human mind is quick to discard information that does not correlate with a preconceived world view. It is also no surprise that we seek media and sources of information that reinforce our systems of belief.At this stage of my life, I'm trying to get down to the brass tacks: Liberty. Freedom. Repeat.
If it does not harmonize with my fundamental belief in the absolute sovereignty of the individual, then I will do more than disregard it... I will actively fight against it.
For someone coming from the political right, this means a willingness to criticize and question the military-industrial empire. The intelligence apparatus. The Patriot Act. The idea that the U.S military should be used in preemptive wars. Or that it should be deployed in over 130 countries with over 730 military bases for the purposes of democracy. Or that "free speech zones" and check-points and body-scanners and CCTV surveillance and a militarized police force keep us safe from the 'terrorists' lurking in every grandmother's luggage.
As someone coming from the political right, these and many other sacred cows have been sacrificed on the alter of a new awakening. Yet I must also remember that there are always greater and greater truths to be discovered and that time has a way of making fools of most.
Perhaps ages hence, after our decayed society has long since rotted away, our primitive progeny will build monuments to lament our dystopic ruin. The few who were actually on to something will be venerated as prophets. The rest remain history's fools.
-- As for Jane, my British friend, we will never see eye to eye. When we get down to the heart of the matter, our difference is an issue of philosophy. She is a collectivist. I am an individualist. She believes in the potential power of the state to create social justice. I do not.
So while we may be able to sit down and agree on a variety of political issues, in the end, there can never be a kindred revolutionary spirit.
I'm just glad that she can't vote.