Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Tea Party and Stockholm Syndrome

The house slaves think they're free men.

It's my contention that the Teabillies are slaves to their corporate masters.  House slaves, but slaves nonetheless.  How else can you explain the adherence to the principles of greed and capitalism from a group of people who will never, ever be allowed into the capitalist club?  They will never be Donald Trump, David Koch, or John D. Rockafeller.  Never ever ever.

I believe, like Patti Hearst, these folks are suffering from a form of collective Stockholm Syndrome.  They so identify with their capitalist captors that they think they are part of the capitalist world.  But they're really just house Negros brought in to clean up after the big party.

Let's review what is required, according to the FBI,
The following are viewed as the conditions necessary for Stockholm syndrome to occur.
  • Hostages who develop Stockholm syndrome often view the perpetrator as giving life by simply not taking it. In this sense, the captor becomes the person in control of the captive’s basic needs for survival and the victim’s life itself.
  • The hostage endures isolation from other people and has only the captor’s perspective available. Perpetrators routinely keep information about the outside world’s response to their actions from captives to keep them totally dependent.
  • The hostage taker threatens to kill the victim and gives the perception of having the capability to do so. The captive judges it safer to align with the perpetrator, endure the hardship of captivity, and comply with the captor than to resist and face death.
  • The captive sees the perpetrator as showing some degree of kindness. Kindness serves as the cornerstone of Stockholm syndrome; the condition will not develop unless the captor exhibits it in some form toward the hostage. However, captives often misinterpret a lack of abuse as kindness and may develop feelings of appreciation for this perceived benevolence. If the captor is purely evil and abusive, the hostage will respond with hatred. But, if perpetrators show some kindness, victims will submerge the anger they feel in response to the terror and concentrate on the captors’ “good side” to protect themselves.
Let's break these down as they might apply to the Teabilly phenomenon.  In the context of this discussion, we will assume the following. First, the Teabilly captives are not necessarily facing death, but rather economic ruin and the associated social stigma of things like bankruptcy, diminished socioeconomic status, foreclosure, etc.  Second, the Teabilly echo chamber as exemplified by Fox News, WorldNet Daily, the National Review, etc. constitute a forme of intellectual and social isolation akin to actual physical separation from the world.  This is driven by a herd-mentality technique that identifies non-approved media outlets as the "liberal media" or, in the words of Sarah Palin, the "Lamestream Media."

The giving of life by simply not taking it

In the Teabilly worldview, the capitalist is the ultimate ideal.  This is exemplified by the Teabilly adherence to the works of Ayn Rand.  Rand, a pseudo-philosopher whose turgid and obtuse novels form the foundation of a worldview centered around selfishness and self-aggrandizement act as mental shackles for the Teabillies.  They see the powerful elites in Rand's writing as the givers of material life to the slothful and lazy underclasses.  And when the underclasses revolt, these capitalist Ubermench rise up and, in the words of the Teabillies, "Go Galt" by withholding their productivity from society.  It's the concept of a capital strike, a kind of labor strike but in a twisted, fun-house mirror image.  A strike with a goatee.
Spock and Kirk go Galt in Mirror Mirror
Of course, the Teabillies have no idea what Rand was really writing about.  Rand was reacting to the works of Karl Marx and his idea that the industrial proletariat would eventually form the basis for a more just and sustainable society.  Most (dare I say all) Teabillies have never read Capital and have only a child-like understanding of the world Marx was critiquing.  A world of filth, squalor, widespread poverty, huge wealth disparity and exploitation. Child labor, workhouses and early death for the vast majority of the population were the norm.  Rather than address the works of Marx from a rationalist perspective, they prove incapable of separating the complex and thoughtful analysis of 19th century lassaiz-faire capitalism that Marx did from the failed implementation of his ideas in places like Russia, China, Cuba and the DPRK.  They conflate analysis with implementation and then call them all "stupid."  It's easier than thinking, I suppose.

Hostage isolation
While the force of this isolation may not seem as strong, the Teabillies have shepherds in the media who ensure that the flock doesn't disperse.  People like Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Neal Cavuto provide a comfortable consistency of message that reassures the Teabilly sheep that the world is ordered in the way they think it is.  There is very little content on these media outlets that contradict their world view.  Some, like WorldNet Daily and FreeRepublic brook no distention whatsoever.

Teabillies are often seen to confront challenges to this inherited world-view with vitriol and ultimately dislocation from the challenger.  They hurl epithets and ad homenim attacks in an attempt to ward off contrary views like a superstitious Sicilian grandmother who gestures to ward off the evil eye. Anything to avoid challenging the inherited "understanding."  This kind of self-imposed exile in an echo-chamber universe is a key defining feature of Teabilly Stockholm Syndrome.

Aligning with the captor
How do the Teabillies align with their captors? In every way.  Let's look at the Teabilly phenomenon as a whole.  It is a fully astroturfed organization.  Much of the funding comes from large corporate donors like the Koch Brothers.  They fund these organizations to push their agenda of unrestricted capitalism at the expense of American values.  They regard their Teabilly partisans as the shock troops in their ongoing war against American workers.  As noted above, these willing Teabilly participants seem to identify with their corporate masters more than their fellow working people.  I believe this stems with a form of admiration / enthrallment to men who control large fortunes and weild them to the betterment of them and their class.  This produces a kind of envy in the Teabilly masses that these individuals can wield such power.

Of course, the hero of the capitalists, Adam Smith, warned against just such idolization of wealth.
This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages. –Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments pt i, ch iii (1759).
(I don't expect most Teabillies have read Adam Smith either...)

What they don't see is the massive government support our corporate overlords receive, the massive tax incentives and other benefits that enable these so-called Masters of the Universe to thrive and prosper.  The Teabillies regard their fellow workers who are attempting to reign in the capitalists as "enemies" and "collectivists" who should just shut up and take what the master gives them and be happy.  They're good house Negros.  The rest of us are the field Negros.

Kindness of the Captor
Finally we come to the issue of kindness.  How do the capitalists treat their Teabilly captives well?  What do they do to ensure ongoing loyalty? They do it through a number of channels.

First, through the manipulation of the media, the capitalists ensure that there is always a "raging insult" to the nation that can be used to enflame the passions of their followers, give them purpose and direction.  Currently it's the fear of Sharia law and the greed of public sector unions.  Come October, it'll be the War on Christmas (again). In the past, it's been Obama's birth certificate, Obama's pastor or Clinton's peccadillos.

Second, the capitalists create astroturf organizations that operate very much like company sponsored unions. They are there not to give voice to real issues that people have, but to direct their legion of their Teabilly followers what to say and how to think. They give a comforting reassurance that the Teabillies are right and everyone else is wrong.  They provide pseudo-facts (most are distortions or actual lies).  The uniformity of message is both shocking and somewhat awe-inspiring.  I imagine this is what it must have felt like in Germany, circa 1937 when the coalescence of German culture around the Nazi ideals solidified and the message became quite uniform.  Josef Goebbels had nothing on Roger Ailes.

Then the capitalists identify potential threats to their interests and wrap them in the kind of packaging that their astroturfed followers can easily digest.  Mostly it's to simply label ideas that they don't like as "liberal" or "socialist."  Take, for example, anthropogenic global climate change.  This is not a subject of debate in the scientific community.  At all.  There is no "controversy" beyond the one the capitalists engaged in the carbon extraction and pollution industries have created.  The same goes for healthcare reform.  The data are clear.  Single-payer systems are more efficient and better able to deliver care to more people for less money.  The Veteran's Administration Medical System has higher patient satisfaction ratings than private insurance providers and it is a single-payer system.  Vermont just approved a single-payer system for their state and are expected to save hundreds of millions of dollars for Vermont citizens and businesses.  This is not in dispute in the medical community.  But the insurance industry can't have that because it would destroy their ability to profit from illness and despair.  So they label them "socialist medicine" and talk about "death panels."  The Teabillies digest and then spew these talking points uncritically, they are completely oblivious to the fact that these "death panels" exist today in every private industry insurance company and they deny care to dying people every day.

Make no mistake, the Teabilly phenomenon is the tip of a very large corporate iceburg that threatens to sink the United States of America like the Titanic.  The Teabillies will be singing "God Bless America" as our ship sinks into the icy black deep.

1 comment:

  1. "Kindness of the Captor" you might also note the overplayed refrain of how Corporations "create jobs," and to the extent that teabillies buy into this notion hook-line-and-sinker, they will never stop seeing corporatists as being benevolent and giving.