Progressives must come to terms with the fact that the 35% or so of Americans who make up the conservative base have been radicalized far beyond the point of no return. They are activist class warriors on behalf of the top 1% of "producers." They are activist culture warriors against minority communities who will happily advance minority figureheads as exceptional standardbearers in order to prove their point.This is the "Two Tribes" Digby has been writing about for the last decade. I am going to write more about these two tribes in the near future but until I do, I strongly recommend Francis Fukuyama's new book The Origins of Political Order.
We are now a nation hopelessly divided. On one side is a large faction of people who understand that the financial classes and the super-wealthy are mostly a parasitic class; that the middle class has much more in common with the poor than it does with the wealthy; that workers produce wealth, and that demand produces prosperity; that poor communities are disadvantaged not by the inherent failings of their people but by the oppressive nature of their circumstances; and that we humans and creatures of this earth are all in the same boat together.
On the other side is a large group of people who believe that over half of Americans are parasitic dead weight who should not be allowed to vote; that the interests of the middle class are aligned with the interests of hedge fund managers; that only a select few very wealthy people produce society's goods; that poor communities are poor through their own moral failings; and that the society's "producers" should behave however they please to people and creatures unfortunate enough to find themselves at their mercy.
And in the middle are about 20% of Americans paying too little attention to have much of an opinion either way.
Fukuyama writes of the shift from tribal government to the national state. The national state is based on bureaucracy, which is an impersonal rational organizational structure of the type which is required to achieve control over large populations and especially to field large professional armies. Once a state exists, then history has shown it becomes unified when the king provides justice to the population and protects them from the predatory behavior of the aristocracy. But this protection only occurs in a strong state. A weak state cannot provide as much protection and cannot afford to field large professional armies over long periods of time.
Fukuyama describes the characteristics of tribally governed organizations and compares those characteristics of nation states which are based on bureaucracies. But he also points out that historically nation states have broken down, and when they do the default form of governance is tribal. The aristocrats prefer tribal governance because they are predators and such tribal governance allows them to plunder the population.
The aristocrats of France from three centuries ago are today's moneyed elites. Keep in mind that the working classes create value. The modern moneyed elites do nothing but collect rent without adding value to the society. Their rent is based on their positions of power, not on their economic value. Since the Great Depression the federal government has protected the working population of America from the predatory behavior of the moneyed elites, but with the rise of Reaganism that protection has broken down. Today Wall Street banks, large monopolistic or oligopolistic businesses and inherited wealth all conspire to weaken the federal government so that they can plunder the working population.
They are far along on their effort, but the Occupy Wall Street movement has begun to react to their predations. It's time for America to regain control over the financial predators who are attacking us.