Sunday, June 16, 2013

All Your Base Are Belong To Us

If for no other reason than pinning this here makes it easily available for my own personal future reference (which is what these "Web Logs" sorta used to be about) I wanted to put up a particular comment from my own comment section.  

But for it to make any sense to future generations, I'll will need to first put up the context in which it was made, then the comment itself, then a few thoughts.

The Context:

An Anonymous commenter asks...

Anonymous said...
I hate the ever expanding global surveillance State and want to do use the democratic process to stop it or at least curtail it. I'm even willing to move. Should I move to California so I can help reelect democratic senator Diane Feinstein or should I move to South Carolina so I can help reelect Lindsey Graham?
My reply:

driftglass said...
"I hate the ever expanding global surveillance State and want to do use the democratic process to stop it or at least curtail it."

I agree. Emphatically.

And if that is your issue -- your only issue -- then you are doing better than me. I'd like all of that plus I'd like to live in a state and support politicians who do not surveille women by jamming ultrasound wands up their vaginae because Jesus tells them to or work overtime to strip workers of their rights including their basic right to have a private life off the job. I'd like to live in a state and support politicians who do not allow private corporations to collect your personal medical history and then use it against you. Who do not permit extraction industries to dig up and then burn the country. I'd like to live in a state and support politicians who do not think every psychotic has the right to own as many bazookas as he wants. I'd like to live in a state and support politicians who do not actively interfere in American citizen's right to vote. Who do not think science should be driven out of the public schools along with those nasty union thugs who teach our children. Who do not treat LGBT citizens as subhuman freaks that do not deserve the same, basic rights as we hets.

I have not yet found the formula that lets me reduce my entire constellation of concerns down to one issue...and then to condemn the entire system for not delivering on my one issue to my exact specifications.
The comment in question (with emphasis added):

Coldtype said...
I'm gratified that these are the kinds of politicians that you would prefer to support Drifty but how do you reconcile this with your support for Obama? This the man who has arrogated to himself the "right" to indefinitely detain or kill anyone on earth including Americans without due process based on secret evidence? Everything on your list of preferences is nullified by this entirely.

Imagine it: I'll work to ensure the rights of women, I'll bring forth effective legislation regarding gun control, and my administration will not erect barriers to your right to marry whom you choose regardless of gender, but if I determine it prudent I'll have you killed and you will have no recourse.

Right there -- "Everything on your list of preferences is nullified by this entirely" -- is the core of True Believer thinking.

This is why it's often so hard for us to make any sense of each other; why some who are on the often very real front lines of, say, voting rights or reproductive rights or civil rights find people like the Greenwaldians so infuriating. I genuinely do not mean to single out or pick on any one person in particular and I do not doubt that commenter Coldtype is perfectly sincere. But this is such a concise summary of the kind of dismissive vocabulary -- this "Your concerns are soooo adorable. And maybe I'll get around to giving a shit about women's/ worker's/ children's/ voter's/ minority/ LGBT rights once everyone drops everything and does exactly what I want them to do exactly as I want it done right now" attitude -- that rolls so effortlessly off of the tongue of the True Believers that I wanted it topside for discussion.


First, because something in the wiring of the True Believer apparently makes them incapable of understanding or caring that this kind of approach often succeeds only in alienating the hell out of people who otherwise might be supportive of their position.

Second, it strongly reminds me of the same sort of paternalistic, knee-jerk elitism that, for example. constantly relegated the concerns and contributions of women to permanent second-class status in both the civil-rights and antiwar movements.  Fuck equality, babe: we have a War To Stop!!! Now get me a fucking sammich!

Third, being blind to why anyone would take offense at being told A) their causes are trivial and, B) that they are fascist assholes for not lining up with the One True Cause 100%, the True Believer often compounds the problem by reading the alienation that their own condescension and patronizingly Manichean worldview has created as some kind of counterrevolutionary disloyalty. To which they respond by doubling down on the scorn-heaping and the "Worse Than Cheney! Worse Than Nixon!" shouting.

It is currently a free country and we are at liberty to do and say pretty much whatever we please, but if you are trying to build a coalition to shove the government or the media or public opinion in a particular direction, treating the legitimate concerns and interests of everyone else as the yapping of ignorant peons who don't know their place in your revolution will not win you any allies.


Pinkamena Panic said...

Rich White Male Privilege.
They has it.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

That's very well said indeed.

I had an a Internet Acquaintance, An Imaginary Digital Friend, who falls into the True Believer category, and our disagreements escalated in just the way you describe. Finally, I had to cut off contact with him, because it was becoming a toxic relationship. Had become, actually.

It seemed to me at the time, that the TB had more desire to be Pure and Right than to work toward actually improving anything; in the "Perfect Is the Enemy of the Good" vein. When it as (is) pointed out that not everything is Worse Than It Ever Has Been, TB bristles and becomes angry, lashing out scornfully, condescendingly, and vituperatively.

It was a sad episode, and I look back over my behavior; the only way to avoid t would have been to accede to everything TB said, even when it veers into crazy uncle tinfoil hat land.

Anonymous said...

I'm annonomous from the first comment and I thought that you made a valid and significant point in the comment section about what I had snarkily written. As I reflected on what you wrote I wondered if there is such a thing as a "meta-concern.". By that I mean a concern that in some way creates a space for or protects other very significant concerns. Gun nuts tend to think of gun rights in this way and progressives often see fhe combined rights to free associatiom, freedom to assemble, and the freedom to speak freely along with a free adversarial press as such meta concerns. I haven't drawn any conclusions but I suspect that the constant state of war, the job insecurity, fear and the surveillance that Americans must endure precludes some of your legitimate concerns from getting the traction they deserve.

My original comment essentially said "both sides do it". In several significant respects this is true. In Congress both parties support war, telecom immunity, non prosecution of Wall Street criminality, government secretary, government non accountability, globalisation and the war on terror. These are significant areas of agreement.

There is no doubt in my mind that Republicans are a much worse party, that Republicans have been lying to their base for so long that the Republican Party is now full of imbeciles that believe things that Nixon and Bush I thought were chump bait to be eaten solely by the rubes. Further, I believe that the country would be better off if both Houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats.

Having said that (here it comes) I believe the Democratic Party is full of truly awful politicians that don't give a damn about or serve the interests of those they represent. I also believe that Obama has proven himself to be a mediocre president at best. I'd rather have Obama than Romney and Obama is no Hitler, but for me he certainly has been a bummer. And yeah I do realise their is constant obstruction on certain parts of his agenda.

So I'm conflicted. I see two inadequate parties that are primarily the servants of financial, military and surveillance power. This leads all our politicians to have near identical positions in some significant areas of concern to me regardless of what they say thay will do. And I'm beginning to believe that these significant areas of agreement make, higher wages, equal rights, freedom of inquiry much less likely.

Anonymous said...

I have seen several things lately that point out what seems to be a cogent theory:
As wealth inequality and economic conditions become more and more pronounced, since about 1980 (unprecedented now since the 20's) people from both extremes of the ideological spectrum look to lay blame somewhere.
In the 30's, they placed the blame (rightfully so) at the feet of the industrialists and capitalists who created the disaster and elected FDR to 4 terms. The war gave FDR the real power to enact huge changes to the system, changes that worked, until wealth dismantled them.
We face the same conditions today,(with the same villains at play) but the right has been so successful in it's characterizations of the government as the "real cause" of all of problems, they are now able to draw in those from the opposite end of the political spectrum to blame the government based on issues of "privacy" or "civil liberties"...even though both of those areas have actually improved greatly over the last 40 years.(Think seriously about what it was like in the 60's and 70's if you or a women or gay...things are not by any means resolved, but certainly better)
The new crop of "True Believers" seem to lack a sense of proportion or historical perspective...even though this is not a new scenario.
There is only one battle really being waged... and it is between wealth and power, and the only check we have seen successfully counter it to any degree in history...liberal democracy.
Lashing out at the few still defending it in any real sense only serves the interests of the short term and the long.
Scared, paranoid and nihilistic is no way to run a only plays into the hands of those who would take everything you have.

CMike said...

Anonymous @ 3:36 PM

Forget it, Driftglass has quaffed the Kool-aid. The Democratic Party taught him long ago that only dumb buck-toothed hillbillies types are single issue voters and that if you're a serious citizen you can't be drawing any lines in the sand at all, you have to be willing to compromise on everything except, of course, if you're a decent human being, the career opportunities open to the most talented of the talented tenth (i.e. the 1% of a certain demographic which doesn't include any hillbillies).

The fourth chance since the Civil War for an American president to move the politics and the economy of our country to the left in a dramatic way fell to Barack Obama and he ended up keeping us headed on a rightward trajectory because of his incompetence (but that can't be it, only some racist who thinks he's from Kenya could think he's in over his head) or because he is what he's always appeared to be, an inveterate greasy pole climber who figured out early in his life it's all about sucking up to the people who have the most Benjamins.

Then again, he did want to raise the marginal tax rate on earned income from 35% to 39.6% so maybe I'm being unfair in not realizing what a visionary force for transformational change he's been all these years, and there was that one whole weekend he devoted to arranging a protest against the asbestos in a public housing project back when he was a sponsored start-up political wannabe.

*Previous chances for a president to move the country to the left immediately followed the regularly scheduled presidential inauguration in 1933 and the unscheduled ones in 1901 and 1963.

Anonymous said...

Wow! He managed to completely exemplify everything you said about them in one comment!
Was that intentional?

Coldtype said...


Do you really think that you or anyone else retain any "rights" whatsoever under conditions in which the chief executive may arbitrarily erase you at any moment? Seriously? If any of the causes that you value are to be actually realized rather than flit about as comforting illusions then a functioning democratic republic is the first necessary condition. Clearly we live in no such place.

Repeating now, Obama claims the right to kill or indefinitely detain anyone on earth including Americans without due process on the strength of secret evidence. Any rights that you claim to posses under these conditions are illusory.

marindenver said...

Someone is quite enamored of his/her own made-up victimhood!

Slumpbuster Douglas J said...

bloggers do need them some cheerleaders. drifty seems like a blogger "true believer" or someone has recently called him/her on their bullshit. The point being you can call anyone a true believer as a way of dismissing them.