12 September 2011

The GOP as Death Cult

I found this essay by a Congressional staffer about the contemporary Republican Party to be an insightful description of the state of the legislative branch. While his comparisons to the Weimar Republic era Reichstag and to totalitarian governments are a touch overblown, the similarities do need to be taken seriously.


  1. I don't necessarily think that the likening of the Republicans to the Weimar Germany right is all that off. The conditions are different and the politics are different, but the tactics are not. I think Gaspar Tamás captures this similarity (which is a global phenomenon) elegantly in his analysis of contemporary communitarian politics:

    "Post-fascism finds its niche easily in the new world of global capitalism without upsetting the dominant political forms of electoral democracy and representative government. It does what I consider to be central to all varieties of fascism, including the post-totalitarian version. Sans Führer, sans one-party rule, sans SA or SS, post-fascism reverses the Enlightenment tendency to assimilate citizenship to the human condition…

    …Our moralistic criticism, however justified, customarily precludes the comprehension of the lure of the phenomenon, and leads to a simplistic contempt for barbaric, benighted racists, rabble-rousers, and demagogues, and a rather undemocratic ignorance of peoples, fears, and desires.
    An alternative line of argument, suggested by this tradition, begins by observing that the breakdown of egalitarian welfare states frequently means a shift in the focus of solidarity, fraternity, and pity. If there is no virtually equal citizenship, the realization of which should have been the aim of honest, liberal democrats and democratic socialists, the passion of generosity will remain dissatisfied. A feeling of fellowship toward kith and kin has always been one of the most potent motives for altruism. Altruism of this kind, when bereft of a civic, egalitarian focus, will find intuitive criteria offered by the dominant discourse to establish what and whom it will desire to serve. If civic politics cannot do it, racial feeling or feelings of cultural proximity certainly will. Identity is usually outlined by affection and received threats. He who will define those successfully wins. Nobody is better at describing this identity panic than Bataille…"

  2. Really interesting piece, by the way. Aside from the information, this struck me:

    "Take away the cash nexus and there still remains a psychological predisposition toward war and militarism on the part of the GOP. This undoubtedly arises from a neurotic need to demonstrate toughness and dovetails perfectly with the belligerent tough-guy pose one constantly hears on right-wing talk radio. Militarism springs from the same psychological deficit that requires an endless series of enemies, both foreign and domestic.

    The results of the last decade of unbridled militarism and the Democrats' cowardly refusal to reverse it[4], have been disastrous both strategically and fiscally. It has made the United States less prosperous, less secure and less free. Unfortunately, the militarism and the promiscuous intervention it gives rise to are only likely to abate when the Treasury is exhausted, just as it happened to the Dutch Republic and the British Empire."

    The psychological explanation is obviously inadequate, especially as the key to the war mongering is actually present in the last line. The GOP and the Democrats are aware that the U.S. is no longer the hegemonic power, that is, a power which can organize a certain world order without the constant use of violence. The limits of U.S. hegemony already appeared in Vietnam because it was always a hegemony uneasily shared with the U.S.S.R., but there was no real doubt that the U.S. was the hegemon of the West. The collapse of the Soviet Union however went hand-in-hand with the decline of the U.S. and today an actual competitor for the title may emerge in the form of China. The difference between Republicans and Democrats is a difference in how to cope with that loss of status and the threat of an actual competitor.