Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Conspiracies, Elites, and the Politics of Marginalization

I see a concerted effort on the part of "mainstream" political officials and media talking heads to trivialize and ridicule as "conspiracy" right-wing nuts all those individuals who subscribe to the idea that the US Government is unduly influenced by corporations, particularly financial corporations, and thus acts in ways that are not conducive to the general interest.

[I am not referring to people like Anne Coulter or Rush Limbaugh who deliberately promote hate and irrationality but rather people like the blogger at the Burning Platform]

For instance, after the terrible shooting in Tucson, the media have emphasized over and over again that the shooter felt that the US dollar was worthless.

The media representations suggest that such a view point is utterly absurd and that this belief demonstrate's the killer's insanity.

I have no doubt the killer was mentally ill.

However, his belief that the dollar is worthless is actually shared, in moderated form, by many economists who are concerned that the U.S. deficits and quantitative easing programs might provoke a currency crisis.

Another belief represented as outlandish is the idea that elite interests control US foreign and domestic policy.

Yet, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are hugely unpopular, opinion polls show.

The bank bailouts were hugely unpopular as well.

Moreover, the U.S. populace feels the nation is in decline, according to a Pew Research survey.

The gap between the wealthy elites in this nation and the remaining 90% of the population hasn't been bigger since the 1920s. Jacob Hacker's new book documents not only growing and vast inequality, but the lack of mobility.

So, in fact, the belief that US domestic and international policies reflect elite interests is probably right on target.

I'm left, not "right," but I do read economic and political commentary by a variety of populist and academic right-wing or libertarian thinkers (e.g., zero hedge). I don't agree with many of their prescriptions for fixing problems, but I do think their analyses of the nature of the propblems are often similar to my own understandings.

The concerted attack by mainstream media pundits and politicians against those concerned with the severe nature of the problems in this country seems to me designed to marginalize and ridicule any real debate about these problems and their solutions.

The easiest way to ridicule a position is to call it a "conspiracy theory."

However, conspiracies do occur sometimes. And sometimes elite act in concert to protect their interests without hatching specific conspiracies. I encourage readers to weigh labels carefully and research issues before dismissing claims that strike at the heart of the legitimacy of the status quo.

Recently, the venerable Seymour Hersh was quoted as describing how an elite group seized power and influenced foreign policy in ways counter to longtern US interests:

The article reads: "He [Hersh] also charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative "crusaders" in the former vice president's office and now in the special operations community."

Hersh was quoted as saying: "What I'm really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over," he said of his forthcoming book. "It's not only that the neocons took it over but how easily they did it -- how Congress disappeared, how the press became part of it, how the public acquiesced."

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