Friday, July 20, 2012

Individualized Conformity

Corporate America -
They who have to be
For the past few days, Mitt Rmoney and the entire corporately-controlled right wing of the nation has been attacking President Barack Obama for part of a speech he gave. The quip which they are using as their attack base was, as you'd imagine, taken out of context and conflated to mean something other than the original message, which was pointing out the simple fact that no one is not the beneficiary of being part of society and that we are all in this together. Instead, the right has twisted this message into saying it was a slap at those that have "succeeded."

Scott Feldstein gives us the entire context of Obama's speech, as well as some astute observations
When we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. Radical, I know. And when he’s saying “you didn’t build that,” he’s quite obviously referring to the “roads and bridges” of the previous sentence. If you seriously don’t get that…well, no. I don’t even believe someone doesn’t get that.

But wait! The president is still awful and a communist! He doesn’t seem to realize that the business owner himself paid the taxes that built those roads in the first place! He doesn’t get it!

Or maybe it’s the right-wingers who don’t get it. Sure, the successful business owner paid taxes for the roads. (Well, some of them do.) But here’s the thing your’e forgetting: So did everyone else. It’s not that “you didnt build that”–it’s that you didn’t build it alone. We built that road together, through our taxes, through our government. And having done so we created an environment where business can thrive–your business, my business, everyone’s business. If you are successful in America, you owe a little of that success to other Americans. The ones who helped pay for the infrastructure in which your business could thrive.
Obama's statement is not original in its concept. It's been something that has been repeated in different ways for centuries and even in modern times by - gasp - Republicans!

In fact, my colleague Jeff Simpson stole some of my thunder regarding this the other day, including using the Benjamin Franklin quote I was planning to use.

Zach Wisniewski, over at Blogging Blue, astutely points out that even Romney said basically the same thing as Obama. But Romney isn't an African-American Democratic President, so that makes it OK, apparently.

I would add to this Hillary Clinton's "It takes a village" meme as well as this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt from a speech he gave in Pasadena, California on May 8, 1903:
"There is not a man of us who does not at times need a helping hand to be stretched out to him, and then shame upon him who will not stretch out the helping hand to his brother."
So with something so easily disputed, why is the corporofascists using this line of attack?
Well, for one, it gives them the easy soundbite that the teahadists love, regardless of how incongruent they may be (See: Keep government out of my Medicare!)

But more importantly, it is another weapon in their arsenal to attain and maintain control of the country.

By selling the artificial construct that Obama's statement, like many of the others before them, is an attack on our individualism and just another example of overreach by the "nanny state."

I recall a conversation I had in June with Laura Hauser-Menting, candidate for the 71st Assembly District, regarding this mindset from the right. We both agreed that this was a depressing, and frightening, attitude to take.

By selling the people that the government, especially anyone on the left, wants to take away their individuality and their chances of success is not only blatantly false, it's utterly hypocritical.

You have teahadists like Ron Johnson, Eric Hovde and Marc Neumann who have gained by feeding at the government trough, even as they gripe about it. Even Scott Walker, who claims that Noah would never have been able to build the ark if the government was involved, turns around and dishes out government money to "successful" companies like Halloween candy even as he asks the feds for assistance.

Nor do the right encourage individuality. Look at the grief that State Senator Dale Schultz took whenever he voted his conscience and with his constituents, even when it opposed the corporate-driven agenda of his fellow Republicans. If one dare steps out of line, they get called a RINO or crazy or both. And if the gentle reader looks at any random picture of a teahadist gathering or Republican political rally, but I repeat myself, you will be able to quickly note the severe lack of diversity in those pictures.

Ironically, it's the left's encouragement of true individuality which often puts itself in a bind. While the right is able to provide an unified front, regardless of how self-destructive their position might be, the left is too busy herding cats to get much accomplished successfully.

By encouraging the false sense of individualized conformity, it enables the right to gain even more control and fortify the control they have. If a company or wealthy person does harm to a person, the person is pretty much screwed when it comes to receiving due reparations. Few people can afford to pay the legal fees that would build if they were to sue the malefactor.

If a company decides that their profit margins just aren't big enough, or if the CEO feels he needs a bigger bonus, they cut the workers' pay. If the workers complain, or God forbid, try to unionize like they're doing at Palermo's, they'll just fire the workers and tell the rest they should be grateful just to have a job, no matter how crappy they get treated.

In other words, they know that if they can thoroughly make people corporate serfs, they can break them of the will and the ability to stand up for themselves.

This is exactly why the corporate right has been attacking the unions with everything they have. By joining together, people in unions are able to pool their money and have more clout in getting reparations, and even more importantly, preventing the harm in the first place. In other words, unions act as an equalizer to the corporate interests and can prevent its members, and the community at large, from being exploited.

In sum, when the right is telling you that people like Obama are trying to belittle the "job makers," and push people to think that the only way to succeed is by pulling themselves up by their own personal bootstraps, they are not doing this to help the people. What they actually are doing is reinforcing the fear and smear attacks in order to keep themselves at the top of the food chain and to keep the unwashed masses in line.

And then the downward spiral where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer continues at an ever-increasing pace. It's time and then some for us to reverse this course.


  1. This doublespeak, this mendacity is so typical of so many that align with the right in all aspects of their lives. Examples abound, one of my favorites and one which I'm reminded of almost every time I take a drive is the naming of real estate developments, for example something like "Oak Springs" when the oaks have all been cut and there is no longer a spring.

  2. Give credit to Elizabeth Warren for making the original remarks, in a more eloquent way, a few months ago. And give Ben Franklin credit for creating the first community organizations in Philadelphia, including a volunteer fire department.

  3. "So with something so easily disputed, why is the corporofascists using this line of attack?"
    I think that between the ongoing plight of Bradley Manning, the extrajudicial assassination of a 16 yr old American Citizen without even a presentation of evidence (much less due process), the pro-profit health insurance mandate (without even a Public Option like RomneyCare gave in MA), the escalation of wars, TPP, ACTA, etc, it becomes clear to all but the most cognitively challenged observer that we have one group of corporofascists attacking another group of corporofascists here, and you are defending one from the other.
    As their corporofascist policies are basically the same, such attacks are obviously part of the creation of an illusion of choice.
    We need to look beyond this illusion.

    1. Johnny- spot on.
      Two groups of corporofacists attacking one another, and both robbing from the people.

      But so many buy into the media hype, and support their own enslavement.