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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bailing Out the Rich on the Backs of the Workers

Bailing Out the Rich on the Backs of the Workers
Image © Austin Cline
Click for full-sized Image

Republicans have been put in a difficult and interesting situation: should they choose public, political demagoguery by attacking the Obama administration over things like the AIG bonuses, or should they defend such bonuses as just compensation against the machinations of evil Demon-crats who just want to tax the rich in the name of communist revolution? Both are intrinsically appealing to conservatives today, but they are also mutually exclusive — you can't both oppose the bonuses and oppose doing anything about them without looking especially stupid, as Eric Cantor so effectively demonstrated.

Republicans have made it clear that their only real interest right now is politics, not the public interest, and therefore are only looking for ways to attack the Obama administration. This shouldn't be surprising to anyone, or at least anyone who has read my sermons over the past couple of years, because this follows naturally and logically from the political philosophy of Carl Schmitt, a jurist in Germany before and during the Third Reich.

Carl Schmitt basically argued that politics should be treated as little more than a power struggle in which all is permitted for the sake of defeating one's enemies — not opponents, much less colleagues, but enemies. In Hitler's Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, Ingo Muller writes:

Carl Schmitt — who can aptly be characterized as the "state thinker" of the Third Reich — was the first to make this polarized attitude of "friend or foe" respectable in scholarly circles. In 1927, in his book Der Begriff des Politischen (The Concept of the Political), he expressed as no one else had how conservatives then understood politics.

In his view, "the specifically political decision on which political actions and motives are based" was "the distinction between friend and foe." Its purpose was to characterize "the most extreme degree of intensity in a connection or a separation," for a political foe is "precisely that other, that alien being, and it suffices to identify his nature to say that he is existentially an other, an alien in a particularly intensive sense, so that in extreme cases conflicts with him are possible which can be decided neither by a previously determined general norm nor by the verdict of a third party who is not involved and therefore impartial" — that is, by neither law nor judicial decorum.

According to this doctrine, the concepts of "friend, foe, and struggle" acquire "their real significance through the fact that they exist in a framework of the real possibility of physical killing."

The ultimate aim of this sort of politics is to eliminate one's political opponents — either eliminate them as an independent political force or elimination entirely. The former was expressed quite well by Rush Limbaugh at the recent CPAC meeting when he said "To us, bipartisanship is them being forced to agree with us after we politically have cleaned their clocks and beaten them. And that has to be what we’re focused on." In other words, bipartisanship isn't about compromising in order to get things done, but rather about one side surrendering so the other side can rule unopposed.

We should keep firmly in mind, though, how Schmitt envisioned that if one's opponents cannot be eliminated by forcing them into a permanently subordinate role, they may legitimately be eliminated through physical extermination. He couldn't have readily argued otherwise because that conclusion follows logically from the rest of his arguments.

If the end goal of the political process is for one group or party to exercise complete control and dominance over the political system, then the presence of former political opponents — even in a subordinate and submissive role — simply isn't necessary. The ultimate and most permanent means for eliminating one's political opponents is to physically eliminate them, and we can see a number of conservatives today pushing the envelope on justifying exactly that.

There is no obvious or necessary reason for politics to function in this manner; it's simply the way politics naturally has to be according to adherents of this doctrine. The idea of pursuing a course of action for the sake of the community's good or best interests never even enters into the political calculations. This is why any attempt by observers to reconcile conservative talking-points and Republican policies with the pursuit of the public good keeps failing. No such reconciliation is possible. These Republicans want to exercise power simply for the sake of exercising power, not for the sake of serving the public or advancing any public interests.


  1. Because that's how democracy works!

  2. Comrade Clinebergsteinfarbgeldski:

    Your point? You say all of this as if it is a bad thing for your betters to be the deciders.

    BTW, did you feel like you were being watched the other day when you went to the grocery store. Well, you were. I was ready to lay a serious beatdown on your scraggly, commie ass but the General pulled me off the detail and sent me to get him some chinese. I worry sometimes that he is being seduced by the bright side.

  3. It cannot be said often enough: You cannot compromise with someone who wants you dead.
    You cannot say, "Okay, you want me dead, and I don't want to be dead, so why don't you just break both my legs...for now...and if youo STILL want me dead, come back in aq couple of weeks and we'll work it out..."

    To the extent that the Puke leadership does NOT repudiate Rushbo, and Beck, or the "Savage"/Weiner, we may take that as an endorsement of the eliminationist rhetoric and prepare to reply, in kind, if necessary.

  4. These Republicans want to exercise power simply for the sake of exercising power, not for the sake of serving the public or advancing any public interests.

    Theat's the basis of the 'post-structuralist' critique of 'power.' Power is an end in itself. The purpose of power is to acquire more power. Power to do what? Anything you want. Thats what power is.

  5. Simultanesouly holding two conflicting ideas without being conflicted is the very definition of the Republican messaging system. Why should this instance be any different? It takes a true warrior to be able to self-contradict on national television without flinching. Or blinking. That's why Ann Coulter is my personal hero. She has taken the ability to tell a known lie to ninja grandmaster level. She is only surpassed by His Awesome Majesty Richard Cheney.

  6. .

    Mein General,

    OK fine. You have concisely assessed the current situation.

    The troubles of the world are real. A percentage of the 'players' are actively trying to sabotage the constructive efforts of people wanting to fix the problems?

    Now what? Given what you say is true, how do civil people act in the described environment?

    Deine Ema Nymton


  7. Ema Nyton:

    By preparing to be uncivil, for starters.

  8. What the gooey heck is all of this nuancing about? Cutting taxes is the answer! I thought we went over this!


  9. I'm just trying to figure out how comrade Klinski avoided the rendition he so richly deserves. Apparently Dick and his pet chimp's oversite wasn't comprehensive the last eight years.

  10. Listen, dummies - here's how it goes.. Whatever is necessary to ensure the predominance of our point of view is acceptable, because our Glorious Leaders are right. So it doesn’t matter what argument we use to achieve our objective, as long as we reach our goal. That’s why we can contradict ourselves over and over with righteous wrath, a straight face, and a clear conscience.

    Get it?


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.