Five Bad Myths

Ursula K. Le Guin -- Photo by Marian Wood Kolischby Ursula K. Le Guin

I was impressed by a recent MoveOn.org emailing (November 23, 2011), listing five myths — actually pieces of disinformation — relentlessly propagated by reactionary politicians and news media. There are of course dozens more such myths or lies — President Obama was not born in the United States, etc, etc — but these five are, at the moment, the biggies. To have them all in one place, clearly stated, was useful to my thinking about Republican tactics and the deliberate or unthinking compliance of the media.

These myths have been accepted and repeated by speakers and writers without strong political convictions or who seek to give “balanced coverage” of events, without considering that you cannot balance myths, in the sense of propaganda, deliberate misinformation, with facts.

The murder of six million Jews in Germany did not take place: myth (denial). Six million Jews were murdered in Germany: fact (history). You cannot “balance” or reconcile the myth with the fact and arrive at fact.

You don’t ever get information by repeating disinformation.

Two lies — or five — or a thousand — don’t make a truth.

You can find MoveOn’s myths and debunkings at http://front.moveon.org/top-5-fox-myths-to-debunk-this-thanksgiving/.

And many thanks to MoveOn for all the good work they do!

As I read the list of myths, I began to arrive at my own personal debunks or demystifications, harsher and more radical than theirs.
And here they are:

MYTH #1: The congressional Super Committee failed because both sides refused to compromise.

REALITY: It failed because the Republicans in Congress, following the Party Line, now refuse ANY compromise on ANY issue offered by the Democrats.

Reaganist Republicanism has become a rigid ideology, as Stalinism was.

To be a Republican politician now, you must be, literally, politically correct.

If you don’t correctly parrot the Party Line, you will be exiled to (shudder!) Liberal Siberia.

MYTH #2: Nobody knows what Occupy Wall Street is about.

REALITY: Everybody knows what Occupy Wall Street is about.

But some people are so frightened by the trouble our country is in that they’re in denial about it. The goals of the Occupy Movement make these people morally uncomfortable, threatening their complacency — and so they deny that it has any goals at all.

MYTH #3: Occupiers should stop protesting and just get a job.

REALITY… And the American children who go to bed hungry every night should stop whining and just go buy a supersized burger with fries at MacDonalds, and the homeless should get off the streets and move into a nice house, and the old retired people who are losing medical insurance should ah, umm, well, they should just shut up and get a job. Or die. Or something.

MYTH #4: Occupy Wall Street is intent on provoking violence, especially against banks and the police.

REALITY: A few people have used the Occupy movement as a front for their antisocial behavior, just as a few people have used Republican hatred of Obama as a front for their psychopathy.

The Occupy movement, facing a violent police force in several cities, has so far remained nonviolent. If they can hang on to their nonviolence, they will have made a moral statement comparable to that of Gandhi, or the Freedom Riders, or the young people of Tiananmen Square.

MYTH #5: The biggest crisis facing our country is out-of-control government spending.

REALITY: Our crisis is a loss of active citizenship — a weakening of confidence in democratic ideals and principles. This loss, this weakening, is directly aggravated by Reaganist ideology and propaganda.

Reaganism, seeing extreme inequity as the engine of capitalism, says that the poor should be taxed heavily, the rich more lightly, and the very rich should not have to pay taxes at all. Democracy seeks to share the cost of maintaining government (taxation) equitably, each contributing according to income.

Reaganism says that the government is the enemy. Democracy is the idea that the people are the government.

So, are we our own enemy?

Pogo, thou shouldst be living at this hour.

— UKL
28 November 2011

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King Dog: A Movie for the Mind’s Eye

A little background: The character of King Ashthera, with his dog, and his gambling streak, is derived from King Yudhisthira in the Mahabharata, the wonderful and interminable epic of India. When, towards the end of the story, Yudhisthira gets to Heaven, he is outraged to find some of his enemies are there, and some of his friends are not; and he decides not to enter Heaven at all unless they let his dog in with him.

I stole all that.

King Dog is  available at the Book View Cafe eBookstore.

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Five Bad Myths — 10 Comments

  1. Reaganism says that the government is the enemy. Democracy is the idea that the people are the government.

    So, are we our own enemy?

    Quoted for truth. This is the problem I have with small-government types – there is something fundamentally anti-democratic in their way of thinking.

  2. Yes, there is a loss of confidence in democratic ideals, but I think there is also a failure to realize that we humans are no longer the only players on the field. Corporations, structured with a fiduciary duty to maximize profits — but not to preserve jobs or deliver safe and worthwhile products or true advertising — are competing with humans, and have several advantages including more money than the richest individuals and potential immortality. What would this country be like if most for-profit corps were replaced with co-ops or B-corps (whose fiduciary duty is expanded to include “the interests of employees, community and environment”) and if the remaining for-profits were kept to manageable size by a steeply progressive corporate income tax?

  3. Myth #6 “…our voices must be heard…” truth: our government is broken, not deaf

    Myth #7 “…we have the power of the vote…” truth: that’s what got us in this mess in the first place

    Myth #8 “…we can change the system…” truth: Article V for States call for a Constitutional Convention is a tool for politicians, not citizens.

    Myth #9 “…we can’t have a voted-revolution in the USA…” truth: http://www.JeffBlock2012.com

    We Have Permission to Change the System

  4. My choice of sixth myth, and I think one of the most powerful of all, is “The Republican Right are for small government.” As far as I can see, the only reduction of government they advocate or will tolerate is that particular reduction that occurs in my hand when I clench it into a fist.

    Tamsin, speaking as a small-government type in the other sense, I have no problem with the democratic idea that the people are the government, but every problem with its failed instantiation in representative democracy, in which certain people get to be the government, and the rest of us get about a minute and a millimetre of political personhood a year.

    The government is the enemy of the people just to the degree in which it is not, in fact, either itself the people, or honestly representing them. If I were a corporatist Republican, I’m not sure I’d want people to follow that train of logic very far along its tracks!

  5. The lack of confidence in democratic principals rests on a complete lack of understanding of what a democracy is. Further, competing and winning have become the goals, replacing sharing, helping, working together.

  6. For-profit corporations are set up to make profits for investors and to insulate investors from liability, and that’s what they do. They face negative selection pressures (competition and shareholder lawsuits) if they divert energy to other goals like honesty, fair treatment of employees and customers or keeping jobs local.

    One way to change their behavior is regulation, but that tends to lead to persistent confrontation, with businesses stubbornly trying to repeal or escape the letter of regulatory rules. I suspect a better approach is to re-engineer corporations and corporate law from the ground up with explicit goals (fiduciary duties) beyond short term profit and structures designed to minimize conflicts of interest between investors, employees and customers.

  7. One man’s myth is another man’s mantra. The concept of spin, claim/counter-claim, blame/counter-blame has reached such a state that obfuscation has become the rule of the day. When the measure of right rule is a mere variable of Power, then fear for the vitality of the culture so threatened. UKL’s insights are well spoken but fall prey to the same things against which she hopes to inform: pat answers and accusation. They but feed the engine of failure. We have a whole generation of politicians and corporate faces who have failed the greater ethical challenge. Perhaps we are to blame; everything falls to Power–no matter who holds its reigns.

  8. Is there a verification for the idea that Republicans are for greater taxation on the poor? All I ever hear from Republicans is that they don’t want tax increases, but then wasn’t there a push to let some working class tax breaks expire? That surprised me, from the party that constantly rails against taxes. Not being up to speed on that particular legislation, I could use clarification.

    That being said, I am often appalled to hear some of the things republicans say and do. It really surprises me that they have a following.

    In regards to casting blame, the blame game itself can be a murky pool of misdirection, misinformation, and misunderstanding, usually with multiple factors playing their part in any failure. But le Guin has a point: the Republicans have dug in their heels and refused to compromise on anything. They have put their own careers and their own agenda ahead of the country. Some have even admitted that they would rather see the country get worse so that they can get Obama out of office than allow things to get better.

    Democrats brought compromises to the table, and Republicans demanded more without giving an inch. Every once in a while, one side is far more to blame than the other.

    My advice: focus on your community.. We can try to elect trustworthy politicians (if they exist) on a national level, but lets make our cities, counties, and states better by getting involved, encouraging local businesses and fostering real democratic ideals as well as human dignity and care.

  9. It is possible for this movement to make…”a moral statement comparable to that of Gandhi, or the Freedom Riders, or the young people of Tiananmen Square.” How clear of you to point this out.