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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Republican Death Cult

Dahlia Lithwick:
Either you believe in government or you don't. The current field of Republican contenders for president are hard at work to prove they don't. The best government, they insist, will leave you alone to repair your own ruptured kidney while your neighbors bring you casseroles and cigarettes. In recent weeks, leading Republicans have made plain they don't believe in government-run health care (lo, even unto death). They don't believe in inoculating children again HPV (lo, even unto death). They don't believe in government-run disaster relief (ditto, re death), the minimum wage, Social Security, or the Federal Reserve. There is nothing, it seems -- from protecting civil rights to safeguarding the environment -- that big government bureaucracies can't foul up. But there is one exception: killing people. These same Republicans who are dubious of government's ability to do anything right have an apparently bottomless faith in the capital-justice system. Everything is broken in America, they claim -- except the machinery of death.
Although Lithwick is framing these observations as the delineation of a contradiction or an hypocrisy, nothing could be clearer than that Movement Republicans are perfectly consistent here. "[W]hen you hear Republicans moan about the bureaucratic burdens and failures of government-run education, health care, and disaster-relief systems, doesn't any part of you wonder why they have such boundless confidence in the capital justice system that stands poised to execute Troy Davis next week in Georgia?" asks Lithwick.

Well, honestly, I have to say I do not. That is because I think Republicans like it when people they think of as "too different" from themselves suffer and die -- whether different because of the way they look, different because of the sorts of people their families contain, different because of the stresses they cope with in their lives, different because of what they want from their lives or for their kids, different because of the things they cherish in their hearts -- and I think they like it when government or when culture or when any other form of association makes these different ones suffer and die and they dislike it when these ameliorate their suffering or diminish their death.

Even the most strident "minarchists" and "anarcho-capitalists" jostling one another inside the Republican Pig Tent, declare that government has a legitimate and necessary role to play in Defense -- in an era when such Defense inevitably involves fantastically huge sums of money and hordes of people and huge swaths of territory and acres of machinery and ubiquitous surveillance, amounting to a Big Brother co-ordinating national and global economies while maintaining authoritarian command and control hierarchies millions upon millions of enlisted strong.

Why is all that okay for Republicans? Because, like the vast police state prison archipelago they also adore, Defense deals death and suffering to the different, and such death and suffering is what you worship in the Republican Death Cult. Republicans don't think government fairly and effectively administers the death penalty but cannot fairly and effectively administer anything else -- they don't care if the death penalty is unfair or ineffective. They just like seeing the corpses of the different pile up.

No doubt such assertions will be dismissed as partisan rancor or hippy pinko faggot hysteria or what have you. But I am compelled to point out that it would likely not have occurred to me to declare organized Republicanism in its contemporary consummation as a kind sub(cult)ure in the first place if it were not for the fact that the Republicans themselves declare themselves members of such a sub(cult)ure: A Culture of Life.

Survey the commitment of these "pro-life" cultists in support of civilian casualties in wars of choice, of lethal back-alley abortions, of poisonous material environments, of accidental executions of the wrongly convicted, of ever more guns and bullets in the streets, of children living in poverty, of seniors thrust out into the streets to fend for themselves if their investment portfoilios don't pan out, of billions dying in overexploited regions of the world of starvation, from unclean water and from treatable diseases all so that a miniscule minority can bask in a surfeit of privilege that yields them little meaning or satisfaction in life.

It takes little intelligence or imagination to make the leap from their declared membership in a "life cult" to the realization that Republicans are little more any more than a Death Cult. There's nothing inconsistent or paradoxical about their views, it's just that the obvious truth is almost too ugly and too terrible to believe.


mtraven said...

Spot on.

Another scary and obvious piece of the Republican ideology is the devaluation of concepts like "empathy" and "justice". Around the time of the Sotomayor nomination this went from implicit to explicit, and "empathy" became a curse word. This makes perfect sense if the main goal of your ideological apparatus is to create a class of people who can be freely shat upon.

jimf said...

> There is nothing. . . that big government bureaucracies
> can't foul up. But there is one exception: killing people.
> These same Republicans who are dubious of government's
> ability to do anything right have an apparently bottomless
> faith in the capital-justice system.

And, of course, the Defense Department.

For Republicans, "government" means essentially
two things -- police (& prisons), and the armed forces.

Mostly it's about protecting the haves (well-off
folks and corporations) from the have-nots (domestic
and foreign).

So what else is new?