Pseudopopulist conservatives have destroyed reason
People Vote Against Their Best Interests: how do conservatives do that?
We condense this article posted on AlterNet December 7, 2007, then add what works to engender equality.
By Digby of Common SenseVoters are growing increasingly hostile to undocumented foreign workers. As a result, illegal immigration is a top economic issue in South Carolina's Jan. 19 Republican primary. Itís a key test for candidates being the first in the South.
In a time of rising income inequality, a housing and credit crisis, and conservative corruption of epic proportions, the Republican Party has worked their rank and file into a frenzy over very poor people who work for next to nothing in hot, dirty fields, blood-soaked poultry plants, and steaming restaurant kitchen sinks.
South Carolina has about a 3% Latino population, both illegal and legal. It isn't actually a problem at all, much less a big one. What is is manufacturing losing jobs. The losses have been slightly less in the last few years, but they are losses nonetheless. (The biggest job provider in the state is actually government, which is somewhat ironic considering what a rock-ribbed conservative state it is.)
South Carolinians, like most working Americans, are genuinely threatened by economic forces that are making people rich -- but not them. They are, however, content with that state of affairs, but are upset by an extremely small population of foreigners who are doing dirty work for low wages. How does this happen?
Once the common people started becoming educated, sophisticated methods of domination were required. Modern conservatism's most successful strategy was to use modern marketing methods to convince people to vote against their own interests. In that sense, right-wing populism is a marketing campaign for aristocrats.
Public relations distinguishes between messages -- the things you want people to believe -- and facts. Messages should be vague enough that it is difficult to refute by rational means. A steady stream of facts is selected (or twisted, or fabricated) to fit the message. Contrary facts are ignored. The tactic is "message repetition."
One repeated message stokes a fear that the "American Dream" is being threatened by hordes of undeserving interlopers. Who's looking out for the common man? Why, it's the conservatives, your liege lords, who want to close the borders and keep those people out!
The key feature of conservatism is deference: the assumption on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better than they are. It is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. People who believe that aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth.
It is no accident that illegal immigration has emerged as a theme at a time of epic corruption among the conservative aristocrats in business and government. Someone must be blamed for the fallout. Immigrants -- inarticulate, voiceless, and powerless -- make the ideal scapegoat.
JJS: Itís that same lack of self-esteem that also misleads people to conclude that others know better. Weíre OK with getting social services if mediated by a bureaucracy, such as public schooling or socialized medicine, but feel unworthy of an income apart from our labor -- the exception being the Alaskans feeling worthy of their oil dividend. Yet in all fairness, everybody deserves a fair share of natural advantages.
And itís this same acceptance of class that indoctrinates us with the erroneous belief that we must always pay taxes to the state. There is a better system of contribution -- far more efficient than taxes on income, sales, or buildings. Have owners of sites and natural resources pay land dues into the public treasury.
Since aristocracy is founded on ownership of land and retention of its rent -- as bureaucracy lives off collecting taxes and parceling out funds and favors -- no reform could do more to level hierarchy and create equality than the geonomic shift to sharing Earthís advantages directly and equitably.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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