Some of this confusion is attributable to the fact that Beck himself doesn’t really appear to have any actual, identifiable political beliefs; he just mutates into whatever is likely to draw the most attention for himself and whatever satisfies his emotional cravings of the moment. Although he now parades around under a rhetorical banner of small-government liberty, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the merger of corporations and government (as exemplified by the Bush-sponsored Wall Street bailout), it wasn’t all that long ago that he was advocating exactly the opposite: paying homage to the Patriot Act, defending the Wall Street bailout and arguing it should have been larger, and spouting standard neoconservative cartoon propaganda about The Global Islamo-Nazi Jihadists and all that it justifies. Even the quasi-demented desire for a return to 9/12 — as though the country should be stuck permanently in a state of terrorism-induced trauma and righteous, nationalistic fury over an allegedly existential Enemy — is the precise antithesis of the war-opposing, neocon-hating views held by many libertarian and paleoconservative factions with which Beck has now associated himself. Still other aspects of his ranting are obviously grounded in highly familiar, right-wing paranoia. […]
Is opposition to the Wall Street bailout (supported by both parties’ establishments) left or right? How about the view that Washington is inherently corrupt and beholden to the richest corporate interests and banks which, through lobbyist influence and vast financial contributions, own and control our political system? Is hostility towards Beltway elites liberal or conservative? Is opposition to the Surveillance State and endless expansions of federal police powers a view of liberals (who vehemently opposed such measures during the Bush era but now sometimes support or at least tolerate them) or conservatives (some of whom — the Ron Paul faction — objected just as vigorously, and naturally oppose such things regardless of who is in power as transgressions of the proper limits of government)? Liberals during the Bush era continuously complained about the doubling of the national debt, a central concern of many of these “tea party” protesters. Is the belief that Washington politicians are destroying the economic security of the middle class, while the rich grow richer, a liberal or conservative view? Opposition to endless wars and bankruptcy-inducing imperial policy generally finds as much expression among certain quarters on the Right as it does on the Left. […]
Are the views expressed in that paragraph liberal or conservative ones? They’re neither. Instead, they’re the by-product of a completely different dichotomy that is growing in importance: between system insiders and their admirers (those who believe our national political establishment and its elites are basically sound and good) and system outsiders (those whose anger is confined not to one of the two political parties but who instead believe that the political culture itself is fundamentally corrupted and destructive).
Glenn Greenwald: Glenn Beck and left-right confusion
Is there enough common ground between various oppositional forces to stage even a modest “revolution” (for lack of a better word)?
September 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm
Glenn Beck is a fascist. He has every trope of a fascist. Right-wing populist rhetoric directed against banks. A mob made up of the middle class and unemployed as his army. Racist rhetoric. He’s Father Caughlin 2.0
While there may be surface similarities, Glenn Beck has NOTHING to do with the “left.”
September 23, 2009 at 10:20 pm
Glenn Beck is a Libertarian. I’m appalled at how misunderstood the man is.
September 24, 2009 at 6:15 pm
I’ve been saying this for a long time. The outsiders, both liberal and libertarian, need to band together to put a stop to corruption. If we were not so divided along cultural and economic lines, if we were not crippled politically and economically by the system insiders, we would be an unstoppable force. Then, once the nation is returned to at least some semblance of freedom and justice, we can go back to arguing over economic policy.
Glenn Beck will not be the man to lead that movement. Dude may call himself a libertarian, but I remember too well his pro-establishment fascist rants of the Bush era. He is an opportunist, one who may admittedly have his finger on the pulse of the disenfranchised libertarian right, but could possibly never gain respectability among the disenfranchised liberal left. That said, as an opportunist, who’s to say what his politics will be in the future?
It may be idealistic, but I do see most people in this country as fundamentally sympathetic to the goals of eliminating corruption and restoring liberty and democracy. It is tied to the core principles of the nation, it’s a part of our national identity, and if properly tickled it can be a great motivator even among those who lack the education and/or the critical thinking skills to become a leftist. Regardless of where they individually lie on the political spectrum, these are common values among workers across the board, more common than those of the christian conservatives, and more deeply held.
It seems to me that a worker’s revolution that doesn’t co-opt and in so doing fundamentally change the tea party movement is doomed to failure. You gotta reach people where they are, and quite frankly the tea party movement has vastly more respect from actual workers than the left has had since WW2. Also, they actually have the balls to bring guns to their events, and the respect from the cops to avoid getting beat up for exercising the first amendment. You simply cannot foment a worker’s revolution without making your message accessible to that crowd. And you’d better believe that means populist rhetoric directed against the banks.
Additionally, co-opting the tea party movement and getting them talking more about ending bipartisan corruption, dismantling the police state and prosecuting financial crooks is the single best way to disrupt both the theocratic christian wing and the fascist neocon wing of the republican party, splintering their efforts even further, all while gaining access to push an anti-corporate message to the most ideologically amenable sub-group of the right. The Ron Paul fans need not be the enemy, is what I’m saying.
September 24, 2009 at 6:34 pm
“The outsiders, both liberal and libertarian, need to band together to put a stop to corruption.”
I used to think this, but over the past year or so I’ve seen this as less and less of an option. The Ron Paul campaign (in which libertarians rallied behind a theocratic ex-publisher of hate speech just because he promised to get rid of taxes), and the response to the economic meltdown (“Banks need to be EVEN LESS regulated in the future!”) made me realize that I have much less common ground with libertarians than I’d previously thought.
OTOH, Kevin Zeese managed to run as a joint candidate for the Green, Populist, and Libertarian party. But that was 2006, which even though it wasn’t that long ago were starkly different political times.
September 25, 2009 at 2:38 am
You’re decidedly over-simplifying the Ron Paul candidacy there. A anti-tax theocratic ex-hate speecher he may be, but the content of his campaign was not focused on those issues, nor were most of his supporters. Additionally, I have faith that the liberal viewpoint can be conveyed simply and convincingly to a libertarian audience, in particular with regard to focusing on the issues I outlined above. It is an already existing common ground that should be leveraged, whatever the inane idiocy of their public leadership. I think you can woo the membership away from the leadership. I don’t think you necessarily need to do coalition building with the likes of Glenn Beck.
Incidentally, after reading more about Beck today, I think he may be on the way towards more significant obscurity, which is to say off Fox News. Note the Beck-bashing by his Fox News cronies, likely a harbinger of hard times for that opportunistic creep.