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Chronicling the collapse of a failed society
“Well, the Tea Party movement itself is maybe 15, 20 percent of the electorate. It’s relatively affluent, white, nativist. You know, it has rather traditional nativist streaks to it. But what is much more important, I think, is the—is its outrage. I mean, over half the population says they more or less support it or support its message. And what people are thinking is extremely interesting. I mean, overwhelmingly, polls reveal that people are extremely bitter, angry, hostile, opposed to everything.
The primary cause undoubtedly is the economic disaster. It’s not just a financial catastrophe, it’s an economic disaster. I mean, in manufacturing industry, for example, unemployment levels are at the level of the Great Depression. And unlike the Great Depression, those jobs are not coming back. U.S. owners and managers have long ago made the decision that they can make more profit with complicated financial deals than by production. …
It destroys the society here, but that’s not the concern of the ownership class and the managerial class. Their concern is profit. That’s what drives the economy. And the rest of it is a fallout. People are extremely bitter about it but don’t seem to understand it. So, the same people who are a majority, who say that Wall Street is to blame for the current crisis, are voting Republican. Both parties are deep in the pockets of Wall Street, but the Republicans much more so than the Democrats. And the same is true on issue after issue. So the antagonism to everyone is extremely high. Actually, antagonism—they don’t like—population doesn’t like Democrats, but they hate Republicans even more. They’re against big business. They’re against government. They’re against Congress. They’re against science.“
Chomsky’s analysis of the Tea Party is highly illuminating. The hardcore Teabaggers represent perhaps a fifth of the population, but a solid half seems to at least approve of their message. At its foundation, the Tea Party movement is nothing more than an abstract, objectless anger. People are bitterly enraged over the state of our society, but they are unable to articulate precisely what – or who – infuriates them.
Essentially, they stand in opposition to everything that they perceive to be beyond their control: big business, Congress, the very concept of government, and rather strangely, science. The antipathy towards science is indicative of a lack of education and awareness of current events. Although surveys have suggested that the most fervent Tea Partiers are relatively well-educated, being churned out of the sausage-factories that represent the American education system does not necessarily indicate that a person is knowledgeable or informed – George W. Bush offers ample evidence of this.
Dangerously upset and frustrated by apparently insurmountable impotence (pun intended), the uninformed masses have reacted in the only way they perceived to be possible: they shifted from the Democratic corporatist party representatives to the remarkably more evil Republican corporatist party. Incensed by the status quo, they responded, like a feral beast trapped in a corner, in the only manner they knew how.
The Republicans and mainstream corporate media have thus far done well in capitalizing on this inarticulate rage, convincing the ignorant rabble that aiding the obscenely wealthy and raping the poor is somehow the appropriate response to our current social and economic disaster. Without any unforeseen – and incredibly unlikely – events, the corporate elite were on an easy path towards at least two more years of extreme regression to the right. Although the unprecedented anger among the general population is potentially dangerous to the ruling elite, they have so far managed to manipulate that fury quite masterfully.
“The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be ‘free’ because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. In states like China, there is pervasive censorship, because speech still has power and power is scared of it. We should always look at censorship as an economic signal that reveals the potential power of speech in that jurisdiction. The attacks against us by the US point to a great hope, speech powerful enough to break the fiscal blockade.”
The reality of pervasive corruption and utter disregard for the concerns of ordinary citizens, as revealed in the various Wikidumps this year, raises the specter of an awakened populace. Contrary to the fictional world portrayed in the corporate media, Wikileaks has provided an authentic glimpse of how power truly operates, which has spawned a previously unthinkable opportunity for the slumbering masses to finally discern a worthy target for their as yet shapeless – and therefore toothless – rage. It will be interesting to observe how the story continues to unfold, but ruthless retaliation against Wikileaks and Assange is almost certainly assured.