Right-wing "tea party" demonstration in Washington, DC

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Steven.
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Sep 15 2009 12:58
Right-wing "tea party" demonstration in Washington, DC

Saw this video of the bizarre Conservative demonstration in Washington at the weekend (12 September)

Conservative websites are saying it had 1-2,000,000 people at it, haven't looked to see if this is true, I'd imagine it's a big over estimate. But this "movement" is just so weird...

Any thoughts, or anyone go check it out?

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Farce
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Sep 15 2009 13:07

The whole thing really is so bizarre as to be beyond parody. The left looks positively sane and rational when compared to something like this:

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 15 2009 13:15

shit like this makes me side with Ché's desire to nuke 'em all.

"i'm annoyed about the bank bail-outs, so i'm here to protest universal healthcare" confused

Boris Badenov
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Sep 15 2009 13:29

2 million dorks who are into dressing up like 18th century colonists and bags of tea? I don't think so.

petey
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Sep 15 2009 13:55

the numbers are rightwing propaganda, now exposed.

Quote:
But yesterday, someone told a real whopper. ABC News, citing the DC fire department, reported that between 60,000 and 70,000 people had attended the tea party rally at the Capitol. By the time this figure reached Michelle Malkin, however, it had been blown up to 2,000,000. There is a big difference, obviously, between 70,000 and 2,000,000. That's not a twofold or threefold exaggeration -- it's roughly a thirtyfold exaggeration.

The way this false estimate came into being is relatively simple: Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, lied, claiming that ABC News had reported numbers of between 1.0 and 1.5 million when they never did anything of the sort. A few tweets later, the numbers had been exaggerated still further to 2 million. Kibbe wasn't "in error", as Malkin gently puts it. He lied. He did the equivalent of telling people that his penis is 53 inches long.

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/09/size-matters-so-do-lies.html

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Sep 17 2009 17:12

You see what we have to deal with? This is a large segment of the white working class here...

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OliverTwister
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Sep 17 2009 19:50

roll eyes

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klas batalo
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Sep 17 2009 21:01
Dead End wrote:
You see what we have to deal with? This is a large segment of the white working class here...

exactly...

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888
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Sep 17 2009 21:17

"McCarthy and John Wayne were right" says the woman wearing an 'Obama: a new McCarthy" t-shirt (???)

Boris Badenov
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Sep 17 2009 21:24
888 wrote:
"McCarthy and John Wayne were right" says the woman wearing an 'Obama: a new McCarthy" t-shirt (???)

Impossible to make this shit up.

tsi
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Sep 18 2009 05:25

Did anyone else catch the bit where Jimmy Carter just came right out and said what everyone else was already thinking?? "C'mon, everyone knows you guys are really only doing this because Obama is black"

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Entdinglichung
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Sep 18 2009 10:10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fevga9jUC48 & http://www.talk2action.org/story/2009/9/16/164418/768/Front_Page/6_Questions_With_Harper_s_On_quot_Republican_Gomorrah_quot_

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fingers malone
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Sep 18 2009 14:20

My friend from Oregon was over in the States recently and she thought a lot of the healthcare hoohaa was manipulation, relying on people not knowing the facts, eg, there is some notorious story about a picture of Stephen Hawking saying something like "If he was British he wouldn´t stand a chance" relying on people not knowing that he IS British.

But she said that she thought it´s very important to understand that in America many working class people really don´t belive in free healthcare, they think it´s correct that you have to pay and that the state doesn´t have a responsibility to provide for you if you can´t. This is not true anywhere I´ve ever been in the whole world, in England the NHS is kind of sacred. Every party has to speak in favour of it.

What is interesting for me is how people believe vociferously in something that is totally against their own interests.

petey
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Sep 18 2009 16:42
fingers malone wrote:
What is interesting for me is how people believe vociferously in something that is totally against their own interests.

that was the thesis of what's the matter with kansas

fingers malone wrote:
But she said that she thought it´s very important to understand that in America many working class people really don´t belive in free healthcare, they think it´s correct that you have to pay and that the state doesn´t have a responsibility to provide for you if you can´t.

yyyyyyyyup

laozi wrote:
Dead End wrote:
You see what we have to deal with? This is a large segment of the white working class here...

exactly...

yyyyyyyyup

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Sep 18 2009 17:42

petey-- i read a couple of chapters of that and it seemed really interesting. is it any good? i had put off reading it because i was pretty sure it was liberal malarkey, but like i said the bit i read was really interesting.

as funny and crazy as they seem i think this is a movement that should be taken very seriously because the populist appeal is very, very strong and allows poor white folk who feel like they have no control over their lives a sense of empowerment.

plus, in person they're real scary like when they're all together.

redtwister
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Sep 18 2009 19:09

As I have spent the last few years trying to make sense of this, I think post-WWII recomposition of the US working class, the role of the US globally, and the changes in post-1970 capital formation are very important for making heads or tales of this madness. The following is a bit scattered, to say the least. I have spent the last couple years writing and re-writing bits and pieces on this, but it is a lot to pull together. Anyway, maybe some of it will be useful.

The first thing to note is that already during the Great Depression welfare frequently took the form of bolstering private consumption or subsidizing private businesses rather than traditional Social Democracy. Massive state involvement in the economy was frankly often behind the scenes.

For example, in housing in order to bolster and protect the very large private home owner base (already around 45% of households in 1928), Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his New Deal crew completely restructured the mortgage and home building industries into their current configuration of federally-insured, long-term, low-rate mortgages and extensive government subsidies for home builders if they built in suburban areas, all done in an extremely racialized manner (the official Underwriter's Manual of the Federal Housing Agency automatically marked any community with non-white residents with the lowest rating and refused to loan to Black people or any home builders building in Black or "mixed" communities.) This was extended during and after WWII where the so-called G.I. Bill, which gave veterans access to college grants and mortgage assistance, only gave mortgage assistance to whites (99% of all GI Bill Housing Loans were given to whites). Federally guaranteed and GI Bill mortgages and home construction constituted over 50% of post-WWII housing growth, and almost all of it was mandated to be for new homes only and in the suburbs. also, until 1948 it was mandatory for any FHA backing of new housing communities that they adopt a racially restrictive covenant making sure that no non-whites could be sold to and no one selling their home could sell to a non-white person. This remained in place defacto well into the 1960's as federal policy despite being outlawed in 1948 by a Supreme Court ruling.

In turn, public housing, which had frequently been built during WWII as emergency housing for rural folk being brought into the factories for war-time production, was, during WWII, extremely multi-racial, but with the end of WWII and US housing policies, with their strict racialization, as whites were offered the opportunity to buy their own homes, predominantly in the suburbs, Black people were pushed towards public housing. the location and construction of public housing in the US went hand-in-hand with what policy-makers from 1935 on referred to as "Negro Removal" from the centers of cities and away from industrial areas. Thus public housing has been racialized openly and systematically in the US since the mid-1940's.

Public transportation systems in the US were also systematically minimized where they existed and largely ignored in newer cities, in place of the US government policy backing private automobile ownership, which helped to enable suburbanization and the fragmentation of the working class so that people less and less frequently lived anywhere near where they worked, and they lived in areas that were increasingly racially, ethnically, and income-wise very uniform. this transportation policy went hand-in-hand with one of the largest public works projects ever undertaken, the Interstate Highway System, under Eisenhower in the mid-1950's.

All of this has to be combined with the extreme racial segregation of the trade unions, the use of seniority to keep non-white workers in lower-paying positions, and the CIO working with the KKK in the South after WWII to break the Communist Party Unions, which were the only strong Southern unions and almost always integrated. The result was that a section of working class, mostly white, received private pensions and healthcare benefits that allowed them to effectively receive free care, while those who were not able to get into those unionized jobs did not receive such healthcare plans.

In effect, Social Democracy in the US was achieved through highly racialized means, and through the medium in every case (except for Medicare/Medicaid and social Security) of private businesses and personal accumulation of wealth. White workers were handed a base of genuine wealth that further gave them access to equity and therefore extensive cheap credit. As suburbanization proceeded apace and de-industrialization (both of the cities and in general) took place, work moved to the suburbs and the cities were hollowed out comparatively, allowed to fester.

The Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, as well as the Women's Movement, whatever their potential (which is not the issue since that chance has passed us by), largely were about equality of access to these things. the hyperbolic response of whites across classes in the United States was to a threat that might undermine an existence that was in practice predicated on female dependence and racialized access to wealth and income (housing, cars, jobs, health benefits, etc.) Ronald Reagan was preceded by the flight of the Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) into the Republican Party and the rise of Barry Goldwater. The overt racism of the segregationists and the white-flight from the cities only increased as frustration over racial oppression and the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. led to riots (whites had not left the cities in the 1920's and 30's when the race riots were typically white racist massacres of Black communities.) Whatever one thinks of King's politics, he displayed a degree of civility that clearly many Southern Whites and Northern White-Ethnics met with hysterical violence and barbarism. The tone of the tea baggers is exactly the same and their politics bear a great deal of resemblance.

The post-1973 (that date is somewhat arbitrary as no one year is when this began) crisis and the re-placement of more and more productive workers with machinery, electronics, computerization, etc. has led to a very high level of productivity and a permanent layer of redundant workers. The suburban scheme was no longer working out and it led to the tax revolts that put Reagan into power, but which themselves were heavily marked by the racist foundation of suburbia and the decline of industrial production and trade unions.

This structure has become both increasingly tied to the corporations, as many workers employed in big corporations get part of their pay and benefits from company stock (thus seeing the company as "theirs"), and the privatization of retirement into 401k plans, which made those workers heavily dependent on corporate financial health and speculation. Needless to say, this structure was overhwelmingly, though no longer "lily", white.

Welfare has also increasingly split into what is commonly referred to as subsidies to business and transfer payments to individuals. This process too is highly racialized in the US, where even though a majority of the population receiving direct transfer payments is white, it is disproportionately important in the non-white, urban population. However, despite this, subsidies to heavily suburban, white areas is a far greater portion of taxes. This is not only in the form of corporate subsidies, such as to farming, but in the form of military spending which employ a lot of Southern and Plains states white workers, and the predominance of military bases in Southern and Plains states in rural and suburban areas. The result is that, contrary to their denials, the populations most proclaiming the virtues of capitalism and private property are the most dependent on federal money (they pay in the least taxes and take the most federal money in return), but it is money again fed in via private interests, the military or prisons/policing.

At the same time, a large part of the population has become redundant, both inside and outside the US. If we fail to grasp the contradiction between capital's tremendous capacity to produce material wealth without much human labor, but its continued dependence on human (abstract) labor as constituting the social form of wealth qua Value and as the substance of value, we miss one of the biggest problems now making itself apparent in this crisis.

This redundancy is obvious in many parts of the world, where the absence of access to legal wage-labour coincides with thoroughly monetarized, capitalist social relations. The result is a massive expansion of illegal sectors, most notably the drug trade, prostitution, and slavery. In the US, the drug trade in particular has been racialized as well. The result is that the inner city populations suffer much more deeply from the constitution of extremely precarious and violent daily social relations. It is certainly worse outside the US, one need only compare Baltimore to Ciudad Juarez to see that, but the features are largely the same. This is a global phenomenon. A political activist in Baltimore would be in as much danger in certain parts of the city as they would be if they lived in Sao Paolo in some of the slums there.

There has been a shift, as a result of the decreasing importance and prevalence of industrial workers relative to the amount of wealth produced, and the tenuousness of their position, of which they are well aware. I would argue, following Moishe Postone, that with this deepening of the Real Subsumption of Labour, we have also moved from a society where identity is defined in production to one where it is defined in consumption.

This has played out in particular ways in the US due to some specific circumstances. One of these is the US role as global cop after WWII. Also, the role of the dollar as world money. The US is a rentier state at this point able to indulge a massive debt at the expense of the rest of the world. Also, the particulars of the US that allowed for extensive suburbanization, such as an abundance of cheap land and cheap building materials and innovations like the balloon frame house.

The result we see today is that both the suburbs and the inner cities are composed of, for lack of a better term, hillbillies. The Southernization or hillbilly-ing of the US has been a deeply pernicious and damaging process, but one which is largely due to the outcomes of long struggles and the way in which capitalist society resolves the class struggle (replacement of living labor with dead, extension of money relations, creation of new markets.) I do not specifically mean rednecks or country folk, but a particular kind of barefoot, gun-toting, isolated, individualistic, anti-intellectual, provincial buffoon who wants nothing so much as to talk shit and get into fights. I think that Debord was quite correct to see the suburbs as giving rise to a new techno-peasantry, with all that goes with that, but he missed that the same process would happen in the cities too.

I am not claiming that this is per se worse than the narrowness of ethnic whites I grew up among in Chicago, at least those connected with the political machinery of Chicago politics, especially Italians and Irish and Poles, who were the people in Marquette Park of whom Martin Luther King, Jr. said he had never in the south met such violent racism. Rather, structurally there is no longer a counter-weight to it in the same way.

Most workers do not live where they work (see Ret Marut's very interesting write-up of the Ford/Visteon strikes, where the importance of that work/community relationship for collective militancy was highlighted nicely). They do not see themselves as workers. There is little or no working class identity left. I am not saying that this is good (it was always a masculinist, racialized identity) or bad (weak or no sense of collective interests or solidarity), simply that it is, and that a communist politics that trades on such an identity will fail.

I also think that the tea baggers and the revanchist politics to which they ascribe is not explicable as racism, though it is deeply racialized because the way of life, the values, they defend in fact were built on government-funded racism, but is deeply expressive of the current impasse of capitalist society. It reflects a shift in the organization of capitalist social relations on a global level which presents itself in peculiar way sin the US based on the way that massive state intervention expressed itself through the medium of private corporations, private property, and private wealth along deeply racialized lines.

I believe that the foul stew that is brewing has a lot of explosive potential, but I see the US as likely lagging far behind for a while because of its status as world's rentier via the dollar and its ongoing military role. However, I also believe that this is a very fragile state of affairs. When something does break, I suspect it will be very violent, akin to a psychotic break.

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Sep 19 2009 00:08
Quote:
The result we see today is that both the suburbs and the inner cities are composed of, for lack of a better term, hillbillies.

didn't see that one coming. good analysis though.

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Sep 19 2009 03:25

http://i30.tinypic.com/2pq89w0.jpg

muwahahahaha

petey
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Sep 19 2009 12:10
jesuithitsquad wrote:
petey-- i read a couple of chapters of that and it seemed really interesting. is it any good? i had put off reading it because i was pretty sure it was liberal malarkey, but like i said the bit i read was really interesting.

i haven't read too much myself, and frank is a complete establishment liberal, and he makes more than one point in the book, but his big thesis seems incontestable. there's a brief list of critiques here, some good, some stupid.

redtwister wrote:
I also think that the tea baggers and the revanchist politics to which they ascribe is not explicable as racism

i can't decide how far it is racism. obama's policies are different in degree, not kind, from bush's (and mccain's): statist, militarist. so where were these people then? i'll give the an-caps this, that they were shouting as loudly about bush's policies as they do now about obama's. and that tells me that the ideas that are said to underlie the teabaggers' protests were circulating during the last administration. put this with the birther stuff and any other number of looney rightwing talking points and what could be the motivation? i agree that it isn't solely racism, that there is a complex of cultural stuff, like having the name barack hussein obama and spending some part of your youth in a majority-muslim culture; an army-brat president named alan keyes wouldn't draw the same reaction. but racism at least provides a top-up to whatever else is going on there.

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MJ
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Sep 25 2009 03:45

redtwister, thanks for posting that.

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flaneur
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Sep 25 2009 11:38

Unarmed, this time!

Best threat ever.

Caiman del Barrio
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Sep 25 2009 12:25

Woah fuck

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8274065.stm

Quote:
US police are investigating the death of a man who was found hanged from a tree in rural Kentucky with the word "Fed" scrawled on his chest.

Bill Sparkman, 51, had been going door-to-door in Clay County collecting census data.

The FBI is investigating whether Mr Sparkman was victim of anti-government sentiment.

appledoze
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Sep 27 2009 05:02

Living in America, this madness really scares me. To think that these people are actually becoming mainstream and right wing extremists have massive influence on politics. Where as if you say, "health care is a right" you are labeled an left wing extremist and a communist. Declaring yourself left wing in this country has become social suicide, where as right wing lunacy is rampant and even acknowledged.

Convert
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Sep 28 2009 07:16

Couple of passages out of 'Demanding the impossible' which im reading atm may cast some light on why workers often act against their own interests?

'The utter hopelessness of the modern citizen can often lead to the primary masochism of internalized submissiveness so that he begins to identify with the agent who has thwarted his vital energy'
Wilhelm Reich

'Isolated and rootless individuals in modern society readily resort to devotion and submission to authoritarian organizations or the state.'

'Randolph Bourne not only noted that war is the health of the state but also that herd instinct drives the individual into obedience and conformity since 'You feel powerul by conforming, and feel forlorn and helpless if you are out of the crowd,. The state - the organization of the entire herd - is founded on these impulses and makes careful use of them.'

Not sure if there is anything to these ideas but im sure there is next to no class consciousness where i live and presume its similar in US - maybe worse.