Trout Fisting In America # 52 – The Conservative Movement

‘The market is rational, the government is dumb,’ says the republican congressman, a member of the government, thinking himself smart.

It goes by many names: anarcho-capitalism, libertarianism, free-market capitalism, public choice, the radical right, but they eventually settled on conservative b/c it would sound better to the general public. The Conservative Movement (TCM from here on out) spends a lot of their time & energy trying to figure out how to get US voters to elect candidates who will enact legislation that benefits wealthy people and fucks over everyone else. Their agenda is real. It is public & easily accessed. There are plenty of good, timely, readable books about TCM. And TCM, as well-coordinated a national movement as you will ever see, a pretty movement that’s been building since the 1950’s, pretty much defines our current political landscape.

TCM hates & fears the power of the collective, because a collective is powerful. There is power in a union, formal or otherwise. And so they work to divide, to stoke divisive anger & seething resentment among the poor, break down the trust between the governing & the governed. They are on record as working for ‘the effective curtailment of majority rule,’ simply b/c they don’t like the way the majority votes.

Today’s conservative movement, which for all intents & purposes is today’s republican party—no dissent or intra-party dissent allowed or we’ll primary your ass out of existence—is the single biggest threat to US democracy today. They envision a government for the billionaires, of the billionaires, and by the billionaires. They believe in freedom—but only for themselves. They believe in democracy—but only if they control it. And they’re willing to do anything to make that happen. Their vision of America—complete and total freedom for them & their business, and slavery & suffering for everyone else, including the people who (ahem) create their fucking profits, i.e. their employees—is built on a tower of untruths: the idea that tax breaks for the wealthy will benefit anyone besides the wealthy, that exploiting the general population, the nation’s resources, and our entire planet is their god-given right. They believe they work harder than anyone else, that they are smarter than anyone else, and that is why they have the wealth they do. The fact that nearly all of them were born into wealth, that all of them are white, all of them male, all of them given the greatest gift of higher education—that is, the kind of access to the powerful you can only get at an Ivy League school—seems to never have occurred to them, these sad aristocrats.

If democracy is ‘one person, one vote,’ then we’re rapidly & deliberately being steered into a country where the philosophy is ‘one dollar, one vote.’

It is a top-down movement. That is to say the people at the top create the movement, and like everything else in their small empty lives, it only exists b/c they’re able to pay for it. These men have names: Charles Koch, David Koch, Robert Mercer, Sheldon Adelson, Joe Ricketts, and there are many, many more of them. They fund think tanks, they fund candidates, they fund conservative news. They are the point in space-time where the difference between idealism & self-interest collapse into a single tiny dark star the size of the pinpoint. TCM has one guiding principle, a principle so strong that it means no other principles (or ethics, or morals) are necessary. I’ll write it in big block letters.

THEY WANT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO STOP MAKING THEM PAY TAXES AND REGULATING THEIR BUSINESSES.

That’s it. Anything else you hear come out of a conservative’s mouth is bullshit. It’s a cover. It’s a way to get people to vote them into office. They believe taxation is theft. They believe the government has no right to take their hard-earned (usually inherited) money and spend it on poor people, or roads, or public schools, or anything except the military & the police, and if that exception sounds strange to you—why fund that but not fund food?—you have to understand that they are in favor of anything government-wise that benefits them directly, but against anything that benefits somebody else. TCM isn’t just selfish, it’s insanely selfish, absurdly selfish. It’s a class war, not just against the poor, but against every single fucking american who isn’t insanely wealthy. They see self-government, legitimate self-government, the citizens of a country deciding how the country should govern, as a threat to their wealth—or as they call it, a threat to their freedom. They don’t give a fuck about anyone except for themselves, and they especially don’t give a fuck about the misguided confused souls who vote their puppets into office.

And let’s address those voters. TCM, that is to say, the republican party, doesn’t give a fuck about gay people, or abortion, or the military (they send them into unnecessary wars and cut funding for their hospitals when they get back). They don’t give a fuck about state’s rights, or big government (they love big government when they control it). They don’t give a fuck about illegal immigration (most of them like it b/c it means they can pay people less, or universities (they try and stock them w/as many of their co-thinkers as possible b/c they love the legitimacy academia gives their bullshit ideas). They don’t give a fuck about the glory of the white race. They don’t give a fuck about any of that. They only care about making, and keeping, as much money for themselves as possible. All that other stuff? That’s just a way to get people to vote for them. Because ‘More Power To The Billionaires’ isn’t much of a slogan. If their candidates ran on what they actually believe in: gutting social safety nets, disempowering the poor in the workplace & election booths, deregulating environmental protections, etc. they couldn’t get elected.

And don’t give me that ‘trickle down’ shit. TCM doesn’t believe in any kind of science that contradicts their wealth-accumulation project, especially economics. They hide the bias of their politics behind the rationality & science of economics (similar to how racists try and use biology to back up their bullshit) except there’s little actual economic theory involved. The shit they’re selling doesn’t work in theory, and it’s never worked in practice. It’s a science w/no empirical research, anecdotal or otherwise.

But then it doesn’t matter whether tax cuts benefit anyone else. It benefits them. TCM, as an ideology, is a big fucking con. And for the people who take their money, it’s a big fucking grift. For a group that hates giving their away money, they sure have made a lot of people rich. A person without any scruples, or without any intelligence, and sometimes without either (get you a congresscritter who can be both), can make some serious bank getting billionaires to fund their shit. Want to start a far-right website that panders to white nationalism while peddling free-market propaganda? The Mercer family will make you fucking rich (consider the simultaneous video ads playing on this link to a Newsweek article a sort of immersion in contemporary hypermodern reality). All you have to do is push free-market ideology (i.e. Mercer gets to keep all his money) with one article while you race-bait w/the other.

A system where you advertise that you’ll give money to anyone who peddles your ideas pretty much guarantees that the people who flock to you will be craven, amoral dipshits, or as they’re known on their birth certificates: Paul Ryan & Ted Cruz.

TCM has a long & sordid history. It began in the 1950’s as a rebellion against New Deal reforms, but the spark that lit the fire was the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision (for anyone who slept through high school history, that’s the one where they ruled segregation was unconstitutional). To them the reforms of the depression era was ‘an illegitimate revolution.’

Their rallying cry was freedom. Their cause, they say, is liberty and justice. But they didn’t believe in any of ideals as anything more than vehicles for their own crude self-interest. The very real lack of freedom, liberty, injustice in this society that affects other people means nothing to them. Their vision of a ‘free society’ allows no dissent; it insists on total control of society by a select few—themselves.

They ignored how the US Constitution is already set up to favor the wealthy and create inequality. the way its famous checks & balances functions as a brake on the masses.

At first they called themselves libertarians, but it didn’t have the populist kick they were looking for. They tried out ‘racial’ but thought it was too polarizing. And so they settled on ‘conservative,’ touching off a pattern—the need to hide their unpopular ideas under a cloak of reasonableness—that continues to this day.

So they did the only thing that rich people do well. They spent money. Shitloads of money. They poured it into think tanks where they paid people to strategize and come up with economic theories to make their philosophy sound smart. So instead of calling it the ‘it’s better for everyone if I just keep all my wealth, thanks’ theory—they called it ‘trickle-down economics.’ The capitalist as hero. Employees aren’t the ones who create your wealth—you are the one who creates their jobs. Without you, everyone would starve. Seen in that light, you’re a hero. And you pocketing all the excess money generated by your employees—refusing to invest it in things like their health-care, job security, a living wage—well why should you? You’re the man who made it all happen. You aren’t someone born into privilege who invested his inheritance. No sir, you are a bold visionary. You are proof that the system works. That anyone can be wealthy if they just work hard enough (to be born into a wealthy family, I guess). The people who, uh, work for you? The ones who do work? Fuck them. Lazy, stupid and ungrateful, that’s all they are. You’re not an asshole for starving them. You’re doing them a favor. Making them work harder..

They funded universities and their programs, an ideological quid pro quo, where they would pay in order to dictate the curriculum, b/c TCM wanted an intellectual vocabulary that justified an economy like the US had in the 19th century. They wanted feudalism to sound rational. And so places like the University of Chicago and University of Virginia began to produce decades of rhetoric & pseudoscience that disguised the true aim of TCM’s only one real goal: more wealth for the wealthy.  

They funneled money into universities, in order to attach the prestige of academic thought to ideas that were unscientific and driven by their own personal agenda. The University of Virginia, reeling from the federal government’s demand that they integrate their schools, was enthusiastic about creating a school of economics that railed against federal government and preached free-market economics. A decade of so later, when UVA realized their economics department wasn’t teaching actual economic theories, or hiring teachers who’d never taken a course in economics, they fired the TCM’s professors. One professor insisted, back in the early 1960’s, that his lack of economic training made him ‘less biased.’ He was one of the ones fired, but today that kind of thinking might get him elected senator.

These professors were lapdogs for the wealthy. They weren’t paid to conduct research; they were paid to create propaganda. And once they took over George Mason University, then in its infancy, the university’s proximity to Washington D.C. made it possible to turn the university’s law school into a training ground for conservative lawyers/judges and turn the university itself into a lobbying firm.

They launched publishing arms—books, magazines, etc. They worked to generate better coverage in the mass media. They, the rich, invested their money in magazines, in publishing books. They could shovel money into this shit forever. And unlike most magazines, theirs didn’t have to make a profit, or generate revenue. It just had to get the message out. It just had to be taken seriously by enough people to sway opinion ever so slightly towards the idea that what’s good for the rich is good for the poor (though they had to admit, what’s good for the rich is good for America sounded a hell of a lot better).

But getting back to the 1950’s, an idea I’m sure any conservative readers will greet with total enthusiasm, in 1956, there were no billionaires in the United States. It’s impossible, 60 years later, to imagine living in this kind of world. When Republicans talk about returning to the good old days, i.e. the making america great again-ness of their worldview, they leave out the part about taxing the fortunes of billionaires in order to fund infrastructure projects and create a more just society. The past they truly long to get back to isn’t the 1950’s—that’s just one more rope to lure in older voters—they want us to live in the 1910’s, or maybe even the 1850’s.

And if anyone thinks Bill Clinton, who failed to implement liberal policies like universal health care while succeeding in implementing conservative policies like welfare reform, or Barack Obama, whose healthcare plan was developed by the fucking Heritage Foundtion, then you have no idea what a liberal, let alone a socialist, let alone a communist, actually looks like. It’s all propaganda. It’s not just lying, it’s lying and knowing that you’re lying but rationalizing that it’s good to lie b/c it’ll advance your fucking ‘philosophy’ or ‘belief,’ as if attaching a profound word to something as sordid as ‘simply your own crude self-interest’ made it somehow profound, made it somehow less sordid.

Today, a toxic cynicism pervades every aspect of our country. This is intentional; it is by design. They prey on our fear & mistrust of the federal government—literally the only check against private power—as a way to get elected. No group has done more to corrupt our politics than. TCM. They hijacked the republican party as a means to an end. THE CM, through ALEC, writes legislation for the legislators they help get elected and they expect some return on their fucking investment. Of course if the congresscritters actually passed the legislation their donors want them to, they might get voted out of office, so they’ve spent this year—a year in which republicans have controlled all branches of govt.—somehow not passing any legislation. Their donors are currently, how should we put this, less than happy. I hate to say, though, that in their desire to spit on Mitch McConnell, there is at least some ideological common ground between myself & the billionaires.

If the current tax bill goes through, it will quite simply be the end of America as we know it. Public education will be crushed. Debt, both national & personal, will reach unsustainable levels. Health-care will be crippled. Jet owners can write off their jets, but public teachers can’t write off school supplies. Students will pay taxes on the value of their scholarships. This is the country they want us to live in. This is intentional; this is by design. Private school tuition will be deductible; student loan interest will not. Even people on Wall Street think it’s a ‘ponzi scheme.’ The stock market is higher than it’s ever been. The wealthier are wealthier than they’ve ever been. And it still isn’t enough for these sociopathic, narcissistic fucks. This is a real life game of Monopoly and they won’t rest until all of us are bankrupt.

This is all TCM has ever been about—all the racism, the homophobia, the cruelty, the endless propaganda. It’s robbery plain & simple. Some days it feels like that’s all capitalism has ever been about. And for a certain group of Americans, the only thing America has ever been about is a system for them to increase their own vast personal wealth at the expense of the country & the people living all around them.

Trout Fisting In America appears here every Tuesday unless the weight of being alive proves so crushing that we’re unable to work. We’re going to keep going until we reach #55, or until the Trout begs for mercy. You can check out previous installments HERE.

About ScottCreney

Scott Creney lives in Athens, Georgia. He is the author of "Dear Al-Qaeda: Letters to the World’s Most Notorious Terror Organiztion".
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