Monthly Archives: November 2012

NeoCon Papers #2: Symbols over Substance

The neocon philosophy has many glaring weaknesses. One of them is the placing of  symbols over substance.  Remember the campaign ads of Reagan and his “Morning in America”?  Then came Bush’s “Willie Horton” and more recently Obama’s lack of a flag lapel pin.

What these have in common is the glorification of symbols at the expense of facts.” Morning in America” with flags waving and happy little white faces beaming , freshly scrubbed  and clean. What the REAL America was supposed to look like. Then came Willie Horton. Dark. Criminal. Black. No need to explain. He was the essence of evil.  That evil loosed on the world by Democrats like Dukakis. Both of these campaign ads were effective. Both worked. Both distorted reality.

Then, of course , there is the flag. Even the flag pin itself has achieved some semblance of holiness to the far right. The lack of a flag pin on a politician’s lapel is tantamount to treason ! A disqualification for public office.

What is a flag pin? Really? A cheap piece of plastic or toxic metal painted with stars and stripes. Gaudy. Most likely made by child labor in some factory  in Asia. A piece of junk.  But it symbolizes the flag. And here is where the neocons go off the deep end.

The neocons, as I suggested in Paper#1, are lost in delusions. Their attachment to and misunderstanding of symbols, like the flag pin, reinforces that point. In their world view the flag is not a “symbol” of the United States, it IS the United States. So wearing a cheap foreign made flag pin identifies a politician as  a patriot. Conversely, not wearing one means the politician must “hate America”. There is a logic to that, if you accept their faulty premise.

How many times have we heard some neocon pundit or politician pompously declare that “American soldiers died for that flag”? Utter nonsense. Silly and childish. Except within the narrow confines of neocon logic, where it makes sense. Symbols become reality. In fact no one has ever died for the flag. Thousands have died in wars, either wars of defense or wars of occupation. True. And the flag has been used as  a banner for those wars. True enough. But soldiers do not die for it. They may die for freedom or for oil or to spread democracy or for corporate greed, but the flag itself is simply a prop.

It is this confusion of symbols with reality that leads neocons down logical dead ends. Example. The flag is sacred. Anyone who honors the flag is therefore a patriot. Anyone who does not pay lip service to the flag is anti-American. If Adolf Hitler pranced around with a flag pin today the neocons would proclaim him a great American patriot. If Jesus of Nazareth arrived on the scene and refused to honor the flag he would be condemned as a communist.

Does the flag stand for something? Yes. Generally, to Americans it stands for freedom and democracy. To many Latin Americans and Asians it stands for brutality and death. A symbol may have many interpretations. This is not to deny the significance of the symbol, but understand that it is only a symbol. It is a design on a piece of cloth. No intrinsic value.

The neocons have tried to convert what should be a symbol for freedom into a religious icon.  A sacred object to be venerated and worshiped. It is a misunderstanding of the fundamental difference between the symbolic and the real. No different, really, than the fundamentalist Muslim response to offending the Koran.  Both put the value of inanimate objects above the value of human life and freedom. Both would jail those who refuse to deify  symbols.

This is just another one of the fundamental weaknesses of the neocon philosophy. The triumph of symbols over substance.

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The NeoCon Papers # 1: Delusion

The election of Barack Obama has lead to meltdown by neocon pundits far and wide. Some, like Karl Rove, are offering self-serving convoluted explanations as to why  Romney lost. Others, like Bill O’Reilly are citing some fantasy of a new “non-white” majority as the reason. Some, like Mary Matalin, are exploding in anger and bitterness. And a few, like Paul Ryan, are simply shell-shocked, so deep was their commitment to delusion. Their “future-world”, as they perceive it,  has unaccountably crumbled. Destroyed by a biracial community organizer.

None of them, however, seem to be grasping some of the real reasons Mr. Obama won reelection and the Democrats made gains in both houses. The neocon philosophy itself is the problem. When one carefully examines this worldview it is amazing that anyone voted for them at all, much less the fact that they were able to attract millions of votes.

This is the first in a series of short papers examining the neoconservatives, what they believe and the problems with their philosophy. I will start with the concept of “self-delusion”.

To fool others, at least temporarily, is easy. Magicians do it. Card tricks. Disappearing statues. Bent spoons. Politicians do it. Part of the job description. David Copperfield and David Blaine are masters. They are honest illusionists. Others, like Yuri Geller, are clever frauds. The end result is the same. They make one believe that something exists , when in reality, it does not exist.

The great illusion or delusion of the 2012 election was that Romney was ahead in the polls.  Well ahead and was coasting to a massive 300 plus electoral majority. And an overwhelming popular vote. This neocon belief was not based on an objective look at the polls or any other evidence. In fact, most polls pointed in the opposite direction. It was a delusion based on desire.

Perhaps it stems from the “whomever wants it the most” nonsense that is spouted by sports  commentators.  Somehow wanting something badly enough will magically make it happen. Or perhaps it is based on the very narrow circle of neocon “punditry”, reassuring and reinforcing each other’s gut feelings.  Deny the “lamestream” media. Refuse to accept the idea that the emperor has no clothes. Deny reality.

Whatever the cause, the noecons denied and nurtured this delusion. Our guy will win. Done deal. America is saved. It is reminiscent of the preacher who predicts the end of the world. When the world doesn’t end and the delusion is shattered, the preacher finds an excuse. And carries on with the same delusion. Maybe next year.

This self-delusion (for no one outside the neocon punditry predicted a Romney victory) is one of the building blocks of the neocon movement. It has been from day one. From the first days of the Reagan presidency reality has been ignored or denied and “visions” and slogans have been sanctified. This self-delusion demands ignorance. and denial. It refuses to recognize math and science. So polls cannot be trusted. Facts are treated as opinion. Reality is created from whole cloth. Evidence is seen as an enemy. The search for evidence and facts in and of itself becomes evil.

This attitude underpins not only the faulty predictions of the 2012 election. This self-created alternate reality based on hopes, wishes and predominantly, fears, is a cornerstone of the neocon philosophy. Hope is fine. Wishes are nice. These can be great motivators for real change in a real world. But as the only basis for a worldview they fail miserably.

Which is why the neocon movement is gasping and sputtering today. In denial. Spewing vitriol. Shooting the messenger. A cornerstone has been shattered. Is in shambles. Reality does exist, after all. The grand delusion was just that. A delusion. Shattered forever? Not likely. Just like the doomsday preacher the neocon punditry will simply continue to reconstruct a new reality.

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