Friday, July 10, 2009

One step forward...

Last month, I wrote on the democratic elections in Iran, India, and the US, and how the popular responses all hinted at broad coalitions forming in response to third different authoritarian ideologies that quite literally, want to watch the world burn.

Perhaps, I spoke too soon. Since then, we've seen some serious set backs in a number of places.

Early in the morning hours of June 28, 2009, the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was dragged from his house still in his pajamas, and put on a plane to Costa Rica. For the past three days, he had had an arrest warrant placed on him by his Attorney General.

The leaders of this coup, most notably the interim president Roberto Micheletti, have already framed this event in the context of Zelaya's "corruption" - that he had supported a non-binding plebiscite concerning the possibility of a constitution convention to address the radical disparities in wealth between the Honduran upper and lower classes and other issues. Only, of course, the media outlets owned by the wannabe banana corporations and the upper-class dominated officers of the military who together led the coup have claimed that he wanted to... get rid of term extensions. A coup, in response, to that? Huh?

The fact that Zelaya had more and more consistently attacked the anti-labor factions of the government and hinted at radically changing Honduran policy to the benefit of labor unions, which threaten the semi-feudalistic caste system in Honduras which in turn supports those same wannabe banana-republic-leading-corporations and military-dominant upper class, of course had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the coup. Right.

Meanwhile, in the US, Palin apparently feels comfortably leaving her post in Alaska with six months left on her term, because of her fan base in the rest of the country. In other words, she's going national. Many have pronounced this political suicide, and perhaps quite rightly, but keep in mind that many authoritarian movements have no real memory - their leaders and policies can change, but they still claim a constancy and unchanging truth. Her base, clearly, doesn't see this as a failure, and thankfully, she needs to convince more people than her fan club of her potential - for the moment.

"For the moment" is the real thin line protecting us there. What happens if voter turnout lowers? What happens if there's another cataclysmic event that she can effectively spin? What happens when the Democrats blow it? We need certainty and stability, not low possibility.

She probably feels so comfortable due to the far right's increasingly distorted perception of the tea parties. They expected giant crowds and massive publicity for their second series of rallies, planned for Independence Day. Instead, they got a few small groups and rather spotty media coverage, because insane and inane rants are only entertaining the first time. Watching reruns of those are rarely captivating.

Nonetheless, "secular" authoritarian extremists have skillfully transformed these failed revolutionary rallies into recruitment camps. The "secular" white supremacists and neo-Nazis have managed to incorporate huge numbers of previously free radicals into their own authoritarian structures. We're seeing a solidification of a minor, radical right wing block, centered on the "secular" aspects of that political landscape.

I say "secular" because the Dominionist and Dominionist-leaning right have so far stayed their distance, even though many have participated in the same tea party rallies and similar events, and there's been an alarming degree of continuity between the conspiracy theories within the Dominionist circles and those in other extremist right wing groups. The anti-Semitic neo-Nazi subgroup and the fanatically pro-Zionist Dominionists have clear ideological rifts that could easily be exploited to divide them. If any one interested in opposing this "loose-bundle" movement actually means it, we need to use this fracture to our advantage.

This is the primary distinction between the modern Western ultra-nationalist palingenic movement and those occurring in the Hindu and Islamic worlds - the Western variant has largely lagged behind the other two (who have already become major political forces in several countries instead of minor influences on larger coalitions as in the US) in part because this split has kept the more violent race-based nationalism from the more widespread and organized faith-based nationalism.

Similar splits existed decades ago in the Middle East and in India - Arab nationalists such as the Baath party in Iraq and Nasser's Arab Union led from Egypt were bitter enemies of various early Islamist groups like the Iranian and Saudi governments and the now national Hindutva movement began as a number of small, local movements as angry at each other as they were at left wing and centrist opponents. Islamists waited out the gradual collapse of Arab nationalism and now dominate much of the Middle East, although the Sunni-Shia split still haunts them. At least three local right wing movements - Shiv Sena in Gujarat, the early Uttar Pradesh movement surrounding the Babri Masjid, and the increasingly alienated upper middle class Brahmins stung by land reforms scattered through out central India - which were frequently in opposition to each other were the base out of which the modern Hindutva movement grew. A parallel movement developed in South India, and the split between these two twin authoritarian groups has been maintained, but it stands that these countless small basic groups merged until two major powers and forced allies remained.

Something similar is brewing in the US. When the splinter radicals build significant alliances, we go from run-of-the-mill extremists into a political force, which all three of these major groups have seen. The two others, however, went further, melding these small angry pockets into sizeable broad movements. That's when India transitioned from panderers to the Hindutva running the legislature to actual Hindutva believers controlling the government. That's when the Islamic world found itself plunging from a variety of horrific despotic governments into a dangerous international Islamist movement.

I don't want that here.

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