October 28, 2010
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
First, Leftie commentators ignored the Tea Party: throughout the summer of 2009, its rallies were barely covered except by Fox. Then, as it grew, they sneered at it: what a lamentable gaggle of rednecks, birthers, truthers, stump-toothed Appalachian mountain men and assorted survivalists. When these laughable Frondistes began to win primaries, pundits assured each other that they had made Republican Party unelectable. Now, with a week to go before polling day, and the GOP comfortably ahead in the polls, columnists have had to come up with a new line. Predictably, they have hit on the argument that Tea Partiers are a bunch of thickos, dupes being manipulated by powerful Right-wing corporations.
There is a classic of the genre in today’s Guardian. George Monbiot describes the Tea Party as “one of the biggest exercises in false consciousness the world has seen”, and goes on to explain that the poor, deluded saps who turn up to its meetings are puppets on the strings of two wealthy industrialists, Charles and David Koch.
A telling phrase, that, “false consciousness”. It was coined by Friedrich Engels, and became a mainstay of Marxist theory. Marx argued that, because proletarians didn’t always understand their true interests, democracy was open to abuse. Reactionary and bourgeois elements could make the workers think that they wanted one thing, when what they really needed was something else. It was the doctrine of false consciousness which Lenin and, later, Stalin, used to justify their tyranny.
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