Friday, July 11, 2014

The Tea Party, Communists, and Utopianism

The Tea Party drove me out of the Republican Party some time ago.  They convinced me that they were right that I was a RINO (Republican in Name Only).  I have always been socially liberal, and for quite a while I was an economy and defense conservative.  But, W’s war and the financial collapse of 2008 made me rethink my politics and change my mind. The absolutism of the Tea Party sealed the deal.

I stopped believing in W’s war when I decided that we were creating more terrorists than we were killing, and that we were setting off a region wide Islamic civil and religious war that could consume the world.  I reluctantly conclude that the democratization of the Middle East by attacking it has been a big failure.

I stopped believing in Reaganomics when I had to admit that the lack of regulation, the cutting of taxes on the wealthy, the "Freeing of the Markets" by gutting the effectiveness of the government ended up gutting the prosperity of the middle class rather than unleashing a prosperity for all.  We need a new Teddy Roosevelt to restore the power of the government to crush the Oligarchs and free the markets back to competitiveness.

I believe it is no accident that one of the Tea Party’s guiding lights is Ayn Rand.  When I was 20 I read “The Fountainhead” and was totally captured by her image of a Truly "Masculine Man", Howard Roark – flawlessly self-sufficient, hard, tough, a real "manly man".  But, time passed and I grew up and that ridiculous caricature of manliness, a kind of comic book version of manhood, fell away, and I found that being a man was not about being chiseled out of stone, or being heartless, or denying any needs for other people. 

Fortunately, we are very human, flawed, and interconnected.   Indeed, the whole Survival of the Fittest notion needs to be replaced by the understanding of Survival of the Collaborative, that’s the way it is with wolves, bees, redwood forests, all of nature actually. 

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the high tech age that we live in, where all of the exponential advances come on the shoulders of last week’s exponential advances, and progress is made by collaborative teams rather than Lone Rangers riding in with Silver Bullets.  The idea of a future created by the hyper-masculine men dreamed up by Ayn Rand that so excites the imaginations of adolescent boys (of all ages) is best replaced by an idea of the future of synergistic collaborations of all the talents in the country and the world, men and women, young and old, all races, collaborative growth and change.

Back to Ayn Rand: she fled communism and started up her ideology of hyper-individualism.  But, temperamentally, she never really stopped being a communist.  That is, just as communism is based on an utopian view of a humanity that is unrealistically altruistic and caring, Ayn Rand’s hyper-individualism is based upon an utopian view of humanity that is unrealistically self-sufficient and independent.

Utopians become radicals who want to tear it all down so that their utopian notions of an ideal society populated by their utopian notions of ideal people can flourish.  Of course, the tearing down part is easy, makes the revolutionaries feel really important and powerful - they bravely would rather die than give in to compromise.  But the utopias never happen, they are always dystopias instead, and then we all have to live in the nightmares that they created. 

Communism is one failed nightmare, Tea Party’s super masculine individualism and fierce independence would be another.  But I expect that the Tea Party will destroy itself before it destroys the rest of us.  We can hope.