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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tea Tantrum Indeed: The right-wing populists have officially taken over movement conservatism | Crooks and Liars

This is a phenomenon known as Producerism, which is a hallmark of right-wing populism. It's defined as:

a syncretic ideology of populist economic nationalism which holds that the productive forces of society - the ordinary worker, the small businessman, and the entrepreneur, are being held back by parasitical elements at both the top and bottom of the social structure.

... Producerism sees society's strength being "drained from both ends"--from the top by the machinations of globalized financial capital and the large, politically connected corporations which together conspire to restrict free enterprise, avoid taxes and destroy the fortunes of the honest businessman, and from the bottom by members of the underclass and illegal immigrants whose reliance on welfare and government benefits drains the strength of the nation. Consequently, nativist rhetoric is central to modern Producerism (Kazin, Berlet & Lyons). Illegal immigrants are viewed as a threat to the prosperity of the middle class, a drain on social services, and as a vanguard of globalization that threatens to destroy national identities and sovereignty. Some advocates of producerism go further, taking a similar position on legal immigration.

In the United States, Producerists are distrustful of both major political parties. The Republican Party is rejected for its support of corrupt Big Business and the Democratic Party for its advocacy of the unproductive lazy waiting for their entitlement handouts (Kazin, Stock, Berlet & Lyons).

Chip Berlet has written extensively about the long historical association of producerism with oppressive right-wing movements and regimes.

It is, in essence, predicated on the psychology of celebrity-worship: convincing working-class schlubs that they too can someday become rich and famous too -- because when they do, would they want to be taxed heavily? It's all about dangling that lottery carrot out there for the poor stiffs who were never any good at math to begin with.

And with right-wing populism, it's the wealthy who stand to benefit, which is why they so willingly underwrite it. This is why Henry Ford -- the ultimate enabler of fascism -- is such a seminal figure for American right-wing populists. It's also why Ayn Rand and Atlas Wanked are so important in their mythology.

It might, in fact, more accurately be called "sucker populism."

We certainly saw an upsurge in right-wing populism in Republican ranks in the 2008 campaign, reflected both by Sarah "Evita" Palin's unmistakable right-wing populism, as well as Ron Paul's insurgency (there were a lot of Ron Paul supporters at these Tea Tantrums). There's been Glenn Beck's soaring popularity -- during which time, you'll also recall, he eagerly defended the AIG bonuses. And now the Tantrums.

I doubt that either Palin or Paul have the actual political wherewithal to surge to the fore of the Republican Party as the chief of its populist wing (neither were particularly visible at the Tantrums). More likely, a corporate Republican who's good at faking the populism -- like Newt Gingrich or Mike Huckaby -- will claim the mantle.

It will be entertaining to watch, but it almost certainly won't be fun.

Tea Tantrum Indeed: The right-wing populists have officially taken over movement conservatism | Crooks and Liars

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