Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fumento: A voice of reason from the Right

          Michael Fumento is a self-avowed man of the right. Given his beliefs on global warming - he believes it exists but spending money to deal with it is hopeless and prohibitively expensive - I would even consider him a reactionary. When people like that begin to get cold feet over the way the Right is heading it is undoubtedly time to start worrying (unless you have already given up trying to reason with them..)

            Fumento words are interesting because he is not an armchair theoretician. He served in the US military, was wounded in action several times and worked for right wing think tanks and other neoconservative organizations. He is one of a small, but growing number, of Right wing turncoats who are scared by what they see emerging on the Right end of the political spectrum. The words of these people carry a lot of weight with me: a Lefty might, after all, be expected to engage in pro forma Right bashing but not a dyed in the wool conservative.

             Mr. Fumento is afraid of a new Right which, in his words, has "co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger". Democrats are accused of being members of the Communist Party (?? do Communist Parties still exist??). Mitt Romney lets pass without comment tirades from the public demanding President Obama's indictment for treason. Whatever happened to the notion of the "loyal opposition", of respect for one's opponent's good faith and the parliamentary tradition of transparent, open debates on IDEAS?


              As the following video of tea party theoretician, Andrew Breitbart, demonstrates Fumento does have reason to worry. Our democracies in the West are dying; such rhetoric is the symptom of the internal cancer as Fumento justly oberves. Breitbart is seen here engaged in hatefilled provocation of peaceful Occupy demonstrators in Washington, DC: “You're freaks and animals! Stop raping people! Stop raping people! You freaks! You filthy freaks! You filthy, filthy, filthy raping, murdering freaks!”


              While I may disagree with many of Fumento's opinions and analyses of fact, I can't do better than cite his wise words:

"As a conservative, I disagree with the political opinions of liberals. But to me, a verbal assault indicates insecurity and weakness on the part of the assaulter... - the name-calling, the screaming, the horrible accusations - all are intended to stifle debate, the very lifeblood of a democracy."

               Amen! Mr Fumento - Amen! Our democracy in North America is in deep trouble indeed.

               As indicated earlier, there is something of a nano-trend going on. Fumento is not the only "traitor" to the "extreme right" (Fumento's term). Before him, there was the curious case of David Brock, Right wing hatchet man / spin-meister turned media watchdog, catching out the "extreme Right" in its dirty tricks campaign against political opponents.


                As both Fumento and Brock argue, the objectives of the "New" or "extreme" Right are not transparency, truth or morality in government but power. It is the machiavelean drive for power: the end justifies the means. If lies, character assassination and - ultimately - self-deception are needed to obtain power or negate threatening change, so be it. I personally suspect that the rise of what has been called the Authoritarian Personality is symptom / cause of a deep seated pathology in Western Industrial societies. We cannot adapt - not easily - to the breakdown of our dominant paradigm of Infinite Growth (for example: Peak Oil and other non-renewable resource depletion). Becaue we can't - or refuse - to confront our real problems head on, we retreat into a fantasy world where Magical Thinking still works: God has made a pact with man as recorded in the book of Genesis. In return for man's obedience, God will give man "dominion over the earth". 


                 This is ultimately a suicidal path. Not only do our real problems not go away (they fester and worsen) but the unresolved inner fear promotes mad acts. Scapegoats are sought in an attempt to reduce internal stress by finding a sacrificial victim whose death or humiliation provides some temporary relief from our fear and guilt. Thus, in Russia when crops failed, pogroms were organized. The "sacrificed" Jews diverted the misery of the peasants onto "expendable" targets, sparing the elites (landed gentry, clergy). As said earlier, we are on a dangerous path. Witness the hunt for "terrorists" and "islamofascists".

                  As an example of what populist politics looks like in a Canadian context, we can do no better than to draw the reader's attention to the Robocalls Scandal during the last federal election. Typically, voters with preferences towards parties other than the Conservatives were called on election day and given misleading information. The caller might identify themself as an employee of Elections Canada. The voter would then be told that their poll had been moved. They would waste their time going to the wrong address, perhaps losing their vote in the process. We are on a dangerous path..



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