cj#1010> a posting from the past…

1999-11-12

Richard Moore

Dear cj,

I was checking my files to find out when the cj list started.  The earliest
message I could find is the one below from Jan 1995.  I was struck by the
themes covered in this posting.  Most of what we've discussed since is
touched on here.  Some of the ideas have remained basically the same, but
have been further developed since.  The biggest shift has occurred in the
issue of 'the right'.  When I wrote this, I still believed 'liberals' had
all the good answers and that the 'right' was simply the enemy.

from memory lane,
rkm


============================================================================
Date: Sun, 22 Jan 1995 11:31:42 -0800
From: •••@••.••• (Richard K. Moore)
To: Multiple recipients of list <•••@••.•••>
Subject: democracy; corporate power

I am writing in response to the interview with Sara Diamond that was
carried in PNEWS -- "JAN 21: THE RIGHT/News & Views".

I believe that the resurgence of the right is one of the most important and
frightening things happening in the world today. It reaches beyond the
borders of the USA in the same way that Hitler's rise to power had
consequences far outside the boundaries of Germany.

When we consider the storm trooper wing of this movement (see Berlet's Jan.
15 posting "Salvi, Armed Militias, & Fascism"), together with the rigid,
intolerant ideology of the fundamentalist right, I believe the direct
comparison with Nazism is both appropriate and necessary.

The parallels are too numerous to mention -- they evidence almost a
conscious modelling on the Nazi precedent, a recognition perhaps (at some
elite level of the rightest movement), that Hitler is the single most
successful and innovative "fascist entrepreneur" the world has seen (up
until now.) Given the right's agenda and mentality, they would indeed be
foolish to overlook the lessons from that era.

I'll list these few parallels just to establish the point:
   -appeal to "root national values"
   -self portrayal as victims, when in fact on the attack
   -fear-mongering re/ ominous and threatening conspiracies
   -an implicit policy that "the ends justify the means"
   -use of multiple channels to power
   -disrespect for democratic and liberal values
   -a vindictive attitude toward oppostion
   -innovative propaganda and organizational techniques
   -use of cult technology for mobilization (cult: an in-group
    which shares uniform beliefs dictated centrally)
   -an aggressive, militaristic posture re/ foreign policy
   -an anti-establishment rhetoric, as regards government
   -a pro-establishment agenda, as regards corporate power
   -intimate but downplayed ties with the corporate elite

---

As you'll soon learn from my postings, my concerns have two areas of focus:
(1) corporate power and (2) democracy.

Behind nearly every change occuring in the world today, including the
Christian Right, can be seen a single root cause: the strivings of
corporations to collectively increase their hegemony over the world economy
and power structures. This is not a conspiracy theory, because the evidence
is all-too-available, and the aggrandizing mission is openly avowed by
corporations themselves, and the foundations, associations, and commissions
that have been set up to pursue their collective agendas.

Only the rhetoric -- echoed continually by subservient media -- fails to
acknowledge the obvious corporate machinations. Events are clothed in the
terminology of "democratic reforms", "increased competitiveness",
"requirements of a global economy", "smaller government" and the like. Such
terms are employed effectively in the Orwellian doublespeak sense: they use
a populist label to mask a hidden agenda.

Democracy -- the setting of national priorities along lines harmonious with
popular will -- is a rare breed in the world and always has been. "Western
democracies" is an often-used term that deserves far more critical
examination than it gets. I personally found Castro's Cuba and Sandanista
Nicaragua far closer to a democratic model than what the USA has.

I know I risk ridicule for such a remark, and I'm no advocate of communism,
but I point to the earnest efforts of those governments to set their
priorities around medical care, education, sound economic development, and
the encouragement of popular participation in setting and carrying out
policies.

The mechanism of government did not involve competitive elections in those
cases, and for that reason was dismissed instantly by most Westerners as
undemocratic. But there are many means that can be used to carry popular
will to the seats of power -- elections are only one. And if you judge by
results, elections hardly deserve to be accepted as a panacea.

In any case, I have total respect for democracy, rightly understood, as the
only hope for sound government and a progressive world.

And corporate power -- as I will endeavor to articulate -- is the only
essential threat to democracy -- the only threat which is self-generating.
The other threats are derivative.

That's why the two together command my attention.

---

I hope it's OK to use quotes in this posting, as it is an analysis of an
outside source, not a critique of a Peace-Net member's contribution.

-rkm

-----------------------------------------------------
/* Written by marcyrein in igc:act.news4peopl */
/* ---------- "Dec. '94: Q&A: Dr. Sara Diamond" ---------- */
from the December 1994 issue of News for a People's World. For
more information e-mail <•••@••.•••>

Q&A: DR. SARA DIAMOND TALKS ABOUT
The Christian Right, the GOP & You

...Q: Can we assume that all Republicans are under the influence of
the Christian Right,  even if they have no obvious ties to it?
SD: If the Republicans are looking at who are the people who are
going to not only vote for them but help them organize their
campaigns and get out the vote, in most parts of the state they
cannot help but conclude that the Christian Right will be a very
important factor.

---
rkm: This accepts the unspoken premise that the "Republican party" and the
"Christian Right" are themselves original seats of power. It fails to look
at the possibility that both are being exploited to achieve the objectives
of other interests. The interview does reveal the structure of the dance
between the two groups, and is useful in that regard, but it fails to seek
out who's playing the tune for the dance.

---
...Q: It strikes me that one of the sources of the right's success is that
it speaks to some very deep needs people have, for spiritual
connection and a sense of community. What do you think?
SD: What's important about the Christian Right's ideology is its
coherence and multifacetedness. So, for example, if you listen to
something like Focus on the Family's daily radio broadcast, they
literally talk about everything from toilet training to how to run
an anti-gay initiative campaign.
People can be brought in at so many different levels. In addition
to that, there's all kinds of rewards for being involved in the
movement.

---
rkm: Now we are at the heart of the rightest phenomenon. It is a movement
that has been created and managed from the top; it did not evolve from the
grass roots. It is something people "buy in" to -- not something they
create out of their own experience. The radio programs, the publications,
the network of stumping guest-preachers -- these are top-down
movement-creation mechanisms, not the rising to the top of people's
spontaneous organizings, as we saw for example with Martin Luther King and
the Selma bus boycott.

To be sure, once the movement took hold, it utilized a genuine grass-roots
organizing style to propagate itself further. But the ideology and
priorities continue to be set from "on high", and are distributed downwards
with a coherence and singleness of purpose that should be suspicious to
anyone who still thinks of the "Christian Right" as a self-generating
people's movement.

---
...Q: Are there organizing skills we can learn from the right?
SD: It's not very glamorous, but one thing the right has been
extremely successful with is legislative hotlines and being able
to mobilize almost immediately on practically any piece of
legislation. Through all the newsletters and broadcasts they have,
they've developed really terrific phone tree and fax tree
networks. So when something like lifting the ban on gay military
personnel came up, almost overnight and with very little effort,
cheaply in fact, they were able to jam the Congressional
switchboard.

---
rkm: Here's the place to look for the behind-the-scenes forces: what are
the specific public policies that are being espoused?

There's a lot of media attention given to abortion, gay rights, prayer in
schools, and the like. These are issues which are irrelevant to corporate
interests, and insignificant to anyone in any real-politik sense -- they
don't effect the balance of payments; they don't further or hinder
corporate domination; they don't significantly increase or decrease the
domestic economy; they make no difference to USA influence in the world, or
GATT or NAFTA or Bosnia or Grozny or anything.

>From the point of view of corporate hegemony they are all non-issues. But
they serve excellently to arouse people's emotions, to distract their
attention from more central political issues, and to get people to take
sides against one another.

The real mission of the Christian-Right-Rebublican created-from-on-high
movement is revealed by the those aspects of their emerging agenda which
*do* matter to corporate interests.

These include dismantlement of regulatory agencies, undermining the
Consitution, still further reductions in corporate taxes, and will soon
evolve into a corporate feeding frenzy that will startle many, but not me.
The Newt/telco blitzkrieg towards an unregulated NII monopoly is only one
of many such power grabs we will see.

The central agenda is clear: shift of power from government and the people
to corporations. "Smaller government" does not at all mean more power to
individuals, it means more control over the nation and world by
corporations. When they say "less government", they mean "fewer avenues for
representative participation" as a couner-balance to their own power.

Quite likely prayer in schools will also happen. The "Christian Right"
would thus get its spoils, and civil liberties would suffer -- but this is
only a sideshow. Acutally side-show is the wrong metaphor. It's more like
the magician's white gloves -- the thing that distracts your eye while the
trick is being performed elsewhere.


-rkm


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