Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tribal bullshit ruins everything

How can some conservatives be so perceptive, yet be so dense? I just read this thing by Arlen Williams, and he actually understands or perceives the same damn things that liberals understand or perceive: the end of the nation-state, the erosion of American sovereignty/empire, the slide into Third World status. Not only that, but he understands that transnational corporations are at least partially responsible for all of that. AND NOT ONLY THAT, but he understands that free-traders and libertarian conservatives like Grover Norquist are enabling it. In other words, Williams and me are on the same fucking page! But unfortunately, my dear readers, we can never be friends because the anti-free-trade, or hyper-nationalist wing of the GOP thinks tribally, and I am not of their tribe. Glenn Greenwald talked about the same problem a few days ago.

Williams gets very profound here:

"Overriding or deconstructing the fact of the American nation is treason and we have been warned about it from all prior generations. Realizing this shows we need a new paradigm in the Soft War against American Sovereignties* — the real paradigm. Words without a objective core, such as "conservative" and "liberal" do not fit American vs. anti-American conflict. Conservative transnational... conservative communitarian... please."

Liberals have also tried to reframe the ideological spectrum into something that more properly reflects the actual allocation of power in our country and around the world, and I would say that our new spectrum looks very much like their new spectrum. From their perspective, the anti-Americans are some invisible Marxist, Trotskyist, Progressive cabal somehow allied with McDonalds and Levi Jeans (see the groundbreaking scholarship of Glenn Beck for more of that). From our perspective, the anti-Americans are just McDonalds and Levi Jeans, as well as thousands of other corporate pirates and the banks that finance them. The difference in our new political spectrums is who belongs on the American side. From their perspective, Americans are people who adhere to a narrow, fundamentalist Christian faith, have lots of money, and eat lots of meat. From our perspective, the Americans include everyone who is exploited by the aforementioned anti-Americans, which I suppose includes pretty much everyone in America and around the world.

So that's of course a huge difference. We liberals consider everyone, no matter their nationality, to be potential Americans-- a very non-tribal concept. It's enscribed right there on the Statue of Liberty: give us your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to be free. And this consideration of everyone as a potential American is not and should not be limited to immigration. Indeed, everyone around the world who embraces human rights and democracy should be embraced as our ideological brethren. For people like Arlen Williams, foreigners including Muslims, Africans, Chinese, Russians, and even Europeans, will always be suspect no matter what they profess. Exhibit A is the Egyptian revolution.

The people who Williams and I agree are anti-American-- people like Grover Norquist and GW Bush-- consider as friends and allies only those countries that (a) support our global supremacy and (b) let transnational corporations ruin their economies. Despite what Williams sees, there is no common ground between true liberals, who are internationalists on ideological grounds, and neocons or corporate pirates, who are internationalists on hegemonic and materialistic grounds.

Clearly, there is a new trans-ideological perception in America and abroad of who our common enemies are. This perception is based in reality, but one side of the ideological divide is hopelessly mired in tribal warfare and will not be joining the revolution anytime soon.

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