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Thu Apr 12, 2012, 08:58 AM

Soviet Communismís Collapse Left Americaís Far Right Without a Real Foe


Soviet Communismís Collapse Left Americaís Far Right Without a Real Foe
Lee Siegel
Florida congressman Allen West said heís heard that there are 80 communists in Congress, which Lee Siegel says is just further proof that Americaís archest conservatives have no one left to fight with.

When Allen West, the Republican congressman from Florida, said he had ďheardĒ that up to 80 members of Congress were members of the Communist Party, but refused to say who they were, I began once again to worry about the declining standards of excellence in American life. Once upon a time, Joe McCarthy (eventually) named names.

Oh, what a falling off was there! To see figures like West stumbling around and accusing liberals of communism, the Democratic Party of socialism, Obama of militant Islamic sympathies is like watching a Broadway revival of Oklahoma! performed by tone-deaf weightlifters from Bulgaria. There were once high standards for rabble-rousing. Think Father Coughlin. Think Joe McCarthy. Think Pat Buchanan. They played on American paranoia as if on a violin. (OK, fiddle.) They had a unified vision of conspiracy that encompassed Jews, blacks, Zionist bankers, greedy plutocrats, and Bolsheviks. The problem with todayís demagogic paranoids is that they are struggling with the same relativistic, politically correct universe as everyone else.


But the most important element of right-wing demagogic populism is the most impossible to retrieve: Soviet communism. Commentators and pundits love to draw tiresome analogies between todayís Tea Partying radical right and the rise of the radical right in the Goldwater, John Bircher, National Review '60s, but there is simply no basis for comparison without the Cold War. Bolshevism was the linchpin that held all the other facets of conspiracy together. Jews, unions, Zionists, even plutocratic bankers somehow all comprised a tainted trail that always led back to Moscow.

The effect on the radical right of the loss of communism is incalculable. The right wing is like a vulnerable adolescent who has suddenly been jilted. Hatelorn, you might say, the right is on the rebound from one substitute bÍte noire to another, but nothing sticks because there is no unifying adhesive on the order of the menace from the Kremlin. This is why you get the utter weirdness of the right talking about Obamaís Washington as if it were actually Soviet Moscow: a totalizing, centralizing monster out to collectivize American life and crush personal freedom and individual rights. There was a time when Stalinís murder of tens of millions haunted the American imagination. Now itís the possibility that everyone can have his tonsils out for free.

From hipsters to Mad Men to A Streetcar Named Desire to pompadours and victory rolls, nostalgic revivals are everywhere. In the political realm, expect the next six months to be full of retro-red menace, as the GOP searches desperately to recapture the love of its life.

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Reply Soviet Communismís Collapse Left Americaís Far Right Without a Real Foe (Original post)
babylonsister Apr 2012 OP
IDemo Apr 2012 #1
JHB Apr 2012 #2
hifiguy Apr 2012 #3

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 10:43 AM

1. Otherism doesn't have far to travel to find new enemies, real or imagined

It's pathetic that West, Bachmann and their ilk still take to conjuring up the long-deceased Soviet Union. But even if the grand bugaboo of the Red Menace has disappeared, any one of Dark Skinned, non-Christian, non-"wealth creator" classes will ultimately work just fine to keep the sheep stirred up and ready for a fight.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 01:54 PM

2. I noted at the time that "political correcteness" became a national matter at the precise moment...

...in history when not even the most dinosaur conservative could still blame "on orders straight from the Kremlin" to explain why we had liberals at all, at least without even other conservatives thinking he was a loon. Once upon a time it was easy to ignore sincere differences of philosophy and attribute everything to agents of Moscow stirring things up, and their duped useful idiots following along.

Then the Berlin Wall came down, Peristroika, the failed coup, dissolution of the USSR... and liberals were still there!

Exit foreign influence and propaganda, enter the weird ideological fog that made people strident for no particular sensible reason (since "because treating ____ that way is wrong!" does not count as 'sensible').

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Apr 12, 2012, 03:02 PM

3. Noam Chomsky predicted this very phenomenon


more than 20 years ago as the USSR began to disintegrate. The masses must be kept stirred up about impending doom. The USSR was plausible (even though most of its actions - as appalling as some were - were within their own sphere of influence) because it had a large nuclear arsenal, substantial army, and a blue-water navy.

Using drug dealers, terrorists doesn't work over the long run. These attampts all run out of gas quickly. Attempting to demonize the current administration (which has reversed few if any key Boooosh policies on civil liberties, privacy invation and indefinite detention) is all the paranoids and fear-mongers have left. Without Faux and AM radio, it would never have gained any more traction than the Birchers and the Klan did in the 1960s.

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