Sunday, December 16, 2007

Huckabee tickles my inner Lenin

David Seaton's News Links
Huckabee is interesting, he has all the weird social positions that typical southern Bible thumpers have, but he never, ever panders to southern racism even in code terms. This is in contrast to everything the Republicans have been doing in the south since Nixon discovered his "Southern Strategy".

Huckabee's nuance is important because a great many African-Americans are just as socially conservative as southern whites are. Both are far below the national averages for wealth. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of black Arkansans voted for Huckabee. Repeated nationally those numbers would make him a landslide winner in 2008.

It is a timeworn, but evergreen cliché, that keeping working class white people from realizing how much they have in common with working class black people is one of the secrets of American capitalism's stunning success... And Huckabee is playing with that. He is against tax breaks for the rich, he attacks Bush's "arrogance". The Cato Institute gave him an "F" as governor of Arkansas, because of his taxing and spending on education and he calls the ultraconservative political action committee, "Club for Growth" the "Club for Greed". He even makes positive noises about the environment.

What is Huckabee after?

My reading is that he wants to take control of the political and social juice of the American Evangelical movement and that includes the black Evangelicals too... The mind boggles.

It should be remembered that Southern Evangelical Protestantism is resentful and anti-elitist before it is anything else. It is against any "expert" opinion. They feel that these "experts" look down on them with contempt and they are probably right. Lenny Bruce did a routine once that describes the whole thing perfectly:
Southerner: Mah 'pinion about New-Klee-heer Physics is

(interrupts sneeringly) Vadda you know about nuclear physics, you smuck?
Both poor white people and poor black people face this kind of contempt all their lives. The Evangelicals love for creationism and the literal reading of scripture is because the Bible trumps the "experts"... any hick quoting the good book is superior to a PhD from MIT quoting Darwin. The same psychology holds true for "Rapture" enthusiasts, they will be saved, taken directly up to heaven and all the people who have ever treated them so shabbily here on earth will suffer indescribable torment and humiliation, which the chosen will be able to watch from heaven. It is interesting to note that Tim LaHaye the author of the "Left Behind" series has enthusiastically endorsed Huckabee. This has all the signs of being a "movement", not just another primary campaign.

I titled this post, "Huckabee tickles my inner Lenin" and what I mean is this:

The entire American economy is based on making people feel bad about themselves, making them feel poor, ugly, sick, helpless, stupid, inadequate and then offering to sell them something to relieve the pain of rejection and failure. What, despite all its grotesque fanaticism, is truly healthy about all this Evangelical, rapture, mishegoss is that it is a real rebellion against the basic, inhuman tool of the system... Its unhappiness factory. Here we should note the significance of Huckabee's losing a hundred pounds. If you knew anything at all about southern cooking you would understand that such weight loss by any southerner, either black of white, could easily be taken for a miracle of God... a SIGN.

Of course many of the same old vultures feed off this rebellion, in the same way that they feed off all the other unsatisfaction, but this is a true rebellion for all of that.

America's first Nobel prize for literature, Sinclair Lewis once said that, "when fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross". I would go a bit farther and say that any rebellion in the USA would have those characteristics to begin with. What, for me makes, this Huckabee thing not exactly fascist is that he is not and has never been a racist. Racism for me is the core of all American fascism that I have ever seen and up till now this thing isn't racist.

For it is self evident that any popular movement that would ever hope to change the status of the poor in United States would have to begin by uniting the resentment of both poor whites and poor blacks and that could probably only be possible around the figure of Jesus Christ, as he is painted by southern Christianity both black and white... and, as any South American will tell you, once the poor begin to march, Jesus is more easily a figure of the left than of the right DS

Huckabee Taps Renewed Fervor Of Evangelicals - Wall Street Journal
Abstract: Evangelical voters, dispirited with their options in the Republican presidential field for much of the year, are feeling new energy and intensity as they flock to former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. And with their support, Mr. Huckabee's campaign is soaring to heights that seemed unimaginable just a month ago. The turnaround is personified by evangelicals Valerie and Larry Domagalski, who waited more than an hour recently to greet Mr. Huckabee after a speech in Greenville, S.C. When they finally got their chance, Mr. Domagalski looked Mr. Huckabee in the eye: "We've been praying for you," he said. "We know this is entirely in God's hands, but we're continuing to pray for you." Mr. Domagalski, who says he has never been active in politics before, now regularly emails close to 100 friends and colleagues encouraging them to vote for Mr. Huckabee. The candidate's quick rise is a vivid demonstration of the power social conservatives continue to wield in Republican politics. It also illustrates the bloc's evolution. Grass-roots churchgoers no longer necessarily follow their national leadership.(....) Mr. Huckabee's gains are threatening to shift once again the political balance between evangelicals and the rest of the Republican coalition of social and economic conservatives, Wall Street executives and national-security hawks, whose agendas have come into conflict in recent years. While Mr. Giuliani has tried to rebuild the coalition around security and economics, playing down social issues, Mr. Huckabee is tinkering with it in a different way. By talking about economic hardship and bashing free trade, he combines his appeal to religious voters with outreach to so-called Reagan Democrats -- working-class families viewed as socially conservative but economically liberal. Over the weekend, Mr. Huckabee took on his party's national-security hawks with an essay in Foreign Affairs, blasting "the Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality." While all the other top-tier Republicans have embraced President Bush's aggressive foreign policy, Mr. Huckabee wrote that the country "needs to change its tone and attitude, open up and reach out." Mr. Huckabee's approach to economics and foreign policy mirrors a broader change in the political outlook of evangelicals. A new generation of leaders has begun to replace some of the old guard. Many of the new breed, like Rick Warren, pastor of the mammoth Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., are either nonpolitical or interested in a range of issues -- such as poverty, the environment and AIDS in Africa -- that go well beyond abortion and homosexuality. "Younger pastors may very well bring in things like protection of environment as God's creation" to the political mix, says Corwin Smidt, director of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. In addition, disappointment with Mr. Bush, both for his failure to enact some of their priorities and over the Iraq war, has eroded some evangelicals' enthusiasm for Republican politics. Mr. Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor who quotes readily from the Bible, is working hard to capitalize on the new evangelical spirit. Among his tools: grass-roots organizing, television advertising and targeted messaging to reach evangelicals. And a growing number of evangelical Republicans have embraced him.(...) For now, however, many evangelicals are relishing their revival. "We haven't really had a candidate who represents us, a true conservative -- not one that morphs depending on the circumstances or crowd," says Mrs. Domagalski of South Carolina. "There's been an explosion of people like me who have found Mike. We are so excited about this man." READ IT ALL


Anonymous said...

This tickles my inner Marxist-Leninist to say that any ideology should be based on the reality of class struggle otherwise it's just something misguided.

And the sleep of reason gives birth to monsters, too. Huckabee may be politically correct but he's still retrograde if not medieval.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

First you have to have a class struggle. Who exactly is struggling right now?

Right now the "struggle" is all from the top down. First you have to have a rebellion, things have to start moving... that could develop into something. Like Mao said, Stalin's error was to ignore the peasants. Anything that get poor whites marching in step with poor blacks has potential for changing things. My caveat is that this is not racist... it it were racist it would be fascist.

Anonymous said...

Well Mussolini wasn't "racist" either. The worst in that context was Evola who thought of "race" as inner nobility or something.

The Italian fascists also had this Ethiopian war, that is so totally like the one in Iraq.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I see your point, it is well taken. However, I find any rebellion of the "lower orders" in the USA positive per se. Like I say all the "struggle" is coming from the top against the down.

There has to be rebellion for anything to happen and the culture of the people has to be taken into account. The poor people of America are religious and we have to start from there. "Liberation Theology "in Latin America has squared this circle very neatly.

George M said...

On southern Christians - the elite are episcopalian; the middle class are methodist; the lower classes are baptist. Huckabee is baptist.

Before you claim that he is going to somehow lead a proletarian revolution bear in mind that Huckabee is for eliminating the income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax of 15%; this would be extremely regressive.

If Huckabee is nominated he won't be elected - he will come across as a snake handler. He has said environmentalists are responsible for the moral decline of America, homosexuality is morally equal to pedophilia, gender equality in the work place hurts women, and people with AIDS should be quarantined.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Everything you say is true, but...
I start from the premise that it is really the poor, the excluded and the disadvantaged; what you call the "lower classes" that have to be the protagonists of any authentic change. The poor men and women of the south, both black and white, don't like gays and they handle snakes? We can only start from where we are.

It so happens that the "lower" classes in the United States (both black and white) are socially conservative... even one of my favorite people, Howard Dean, thinks the key to a real Democrat renaissance in the south is in attracting the "values" voter. This is the raw material of social change. Do you really expect the poor to be "cool".

Southern populism up till now has been predicated on racism, on "keeping the n*****s down". Stimulating racial division is the classic tool of the powerful in America for dividing and confusing the poor. For me any populism that brings the poor whites and the poor blacks together is therefore revolutionary in the strictest sense. It would mean the beginning of a class consciousness that cut across race.