Posted by: Harold Knight | 05/06/2011

Oligarchy, Texas Style

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I’m exactly smart enough to scare myself to death in the age of caroming and all-consuming vicious “conservatism.” There. I’ve said it. I believe what passes as “conservatism” in the United States today is really nothing more than the apex of the worst instincts of society and the sniveling hyperpnea of the masses of those of us who feel somehow left out and betrayed by institutions that have none of our best interests at heart—although they have gained absolute power over us by pretending they do.

I could wile away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain. . .
I’d unravel any riddle
For any individ’le
In trouble or in pain. . .
Oh, I would tell you why
The ocean’s near the shore
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I’d sit and think some more. . .
I would not be just a nuffin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain (1)

Most of the time I’m clueless about the genesis of what’s going on in my brain. My thinking when I woke up this morning was one short inch this side of nihilism (Dictionary.com gives the philosophical definition as “an extreme form of skepticism that systematically rejects all values, belief in existence, the possibility of communication, etc.”).  Of course, all of this has to be taken with a grain of salt. I have to write, so sometimes my brain is already churning with something to write before I wake up. In fact, I think sometimes that churning is what wakes me up.

That means that, if you are reading this, you should stop because it may well be the ravings of an out-of-control (perhaps) TLEptic brain. I might be better to be a Scarecrow than to have this brain. I admit it. I may just have Geschwind Syndrome (2).  I dunno. Several neurologists think so. I have most of the symptoms in spades, and I’m not telling which I’m missing. (If you think I’ve got a sense of humor, you’re as twisted as I am.) At least I’m in important company. I’d most like to be like Ezekiel—one metaphor like “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones, now hear the Word of the Lord,” and my legacy would be set for at least 3,000 years.

This morning I have something of an idea what started this rant. In fact, I know exactly where it came from.

A bill requiring women to get a sonogram before having an abortion is just a signature away from going into law. Texas Governor Rick Perry who just needs to sign the new recommendations into law actually put the bill in emergency legislation at the beginning of the year making it a priority, which means he is expected to sign it without any hesitation.

The Texas Legislature passed the bill requiring doctors to perform a sonogram at least 24 hours before a woman gets an abortion. Once the doctor conducts the sonogram the woman has the opportunity to see the results and hear the heartbeat of the fetus. The woman can choose not to view the images or hear the heartbeat but the doctor must describe what the sonogram shows, including the existence of legs, arms and internal organs. The opposition says this instills guilt into women and may force them to have an unwanted child (3).

If you think I’m naturally humorless, pedantic, or compulsive, wait till you hear what I have to say about this! You can hear what I’m thinking right now on any recording of a George Carlin routine. I’ll destroy my ethos as a writer and simply ask, “Who the f**k are these tyrants?”

There. I can use the obscenity any thinking person would want to use because this is my space and I can say what I want. My guess is that anyone who is reading this really would like to use the f-word to describe this tyranny/idiocy/evil, but we’re all too nice.

This was churning in my mind this morning because I had a brief conversation with a colleague about it yesterday. I had some inaccurate information, so I came home and Googled it. And then this morning I woke up to discover the draconian, despotic, dogmatic law had, in fact, passed.

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston

State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston

So here’s where I need a brain. I cannot explain this despotism.  I am dumbfounded. This hypergraphic cannot write.

So I will submit a style of writing I warn my students about. A successful argumentative essay is not simply the successful stringing together of quotations. Sometimes a subject is so mind-boggling that’s about all anyone can do.

First. Political expediency has overtaken any kind of philosophical underpinning among conservatives. Pandering to a social agenda that a minority of Americans believe in to gain the political support of enough voters to get elected is far more important than advancing a philosophical/political framework of belief.

On the one hand, many people on the right, in modern America at least, promote what they regard in principle as ‘truth’. . . On the other hand, many right-wing preachers, think tankers, journalists, talk show hosts, and politicians speak to promote particular social and political objectives rather than to achieve logical consistency and philosophical rigor. The result is that, in the conservative world, even while advocates proclaim devotion to fixed and enduring truths, leading ideas in the short run are sometimes replaced by other ideas. . . (4).

Second. The clearly religious nature of legislation like this is an indication that conservatives have conflated religion with the uses of power. The economic/industrial/commercial powers of the United States (and of globalization) have joined forces with conservative religion. Conservative religion gives economic forces their political power base, and commercial interests then repay religious conservatives with the power to enforce their social agendas.

. . . religion and industry have been codependent as institutional bodies, as social organizers, and as moral vantages for national life. Industry did not just provide funding sources for religion, and religion did not just supply affirmations for industry. Together, their institutional structures codified and conveyed a set of practices to engage the new world orders they sought to propagate (5).

The result is the erosion of constitutional rights and the institution of an almost Inquisition-like license for a “conservative” minority to force their quasi-moral and theological beliefs onto the majority, which seems to have neither the insight to see nor the will to care what is happening.

Although conservatives still invoke powerful traditions and deeply rooted identities as the enduring foundations of social order and political authority, today they also refuse to set limits on personal ambitions, economic progress, government activities, and even leverage their fundamental values. In America [conservatism] has emphatically challenged the limits that existed in the past. It has unleashed a global politics, indeed, a global crusade, that is redefining national borders and constitutional doctrines with astonishing speed (6).
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(1) The Wizard of Oz. Dir. Victor Fleming. Stars: Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan. Music, Harold Arlen and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. 1939.
(2) Comings, David E. “The Neurobiology, Genetics and Evolution of Human Spirituality: The Central Role of the Temporal Lobes.” NeuroQuantology 8.4 (2010): 478-494.
(3) Valverde, Martina. “Pre-Abortion Bill One Signature Away From Law.” News. kfoxtv.com. May 6, 2011. Web. 6 May 2011.
(4) Ricci, David. “Political science and conservative ideas: the American case.” Journal of Political Ideologies 14.2 (2009): 155-171.
(5) Callahan, Richard J., Kathryn Lofton, and Chad E. Seales. “Allegories of Progress: Industrial Religion in the United States.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion  (2010). Oxford University Press / UK. 1-39.
(6) Love, Nancy S. “Anti-, Neo-, Post-, and Proto-: Conservative Hybrids, Ironic Reversals, and Global Terror(ism).”  New Political Science.  31.4 (December 2009).

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