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Enter Stage Right

Good friend and co-author Michael Lotus, a.k.a. “Lexington Green has a feature article as he debuts at The RIGHTNETWORK. Congrats Mike!

The Insurgency

Mass political movements often begin with a single, striking event. The Insurgency began in the fall of 2008, when President Bush, Senator Obama, and Senator McCain appeared together to endorse the TARP bailout.  At that moment the lights came on for many Americans. It was glaringly obvious that both political parties jointly operated the system, and the system existed to protect the well connected at the expense of everyone else. The public opposed the TARP bailouts; the banks got their money anyway. The Insurgency, long brewing, began.

The Insurgency is a movement of citizens directed against unsustainable government taxation and regulation, and spending, both of which benefit insiders rather than ordinary people. The target of the Insurgency is a leviathan in Washington, D.C. that will ruin us all if it is not dismantled. 

The Insurgency is part of a long tradition of mass political movements in our history. It has the potential to make a fundamental change in American life-for the better.

….2.  What is the Insurgency? Why now?

For now the Tea Party movement, ignited by Rick Santelli’s “Rant Heard Round the World,” is the dominant component of the Insurgency; Glenn Beck‘s gathering of hundreds of thousands of people in Washington, D.C. is another, overlapping one. The people who have gathered around Governor Sarah Palin form yet another part of the Insurgency, as do the libertarian-minded citizens who read blogs like Instapundit. Many of Rush Limbaugh‘s, Sean Hannity‘s, and Mark Levin‘s listeners are part of it. Various long-established conservative groups that have always opposed big government are now parts of the Insurgency.

There are appear to be three factors that have caused the rise of the Insurgency now, and the particular form it is taking: 1) technology, 2) a new, heightened awareness of the problem, and 3) the shock of the current crisis.

First, new technology allows massive, decentralized and horizontal organizations to form quickly. The Tea Party is the best current example: There is coordination, but no central direction. There is no one in charge, giving orders, but rather many people and groups cooperating. This is only possible due to current technology. 

“[Technology] enabled the Insurgency,

but it did not cause it.”

Technology, however, cannot by itself explain the rise of the Insurgency. After all, the political Left actually pioneered in this area: MoveOn was a highly effective internet-based organization, for example. It does seem odd, in retrospect, that a tech-savvy Left would cast its lot with a top-down, government-centric political culture. And there may be some overarching affinity between libertarian-style thinking and the new technology. But that technology is ultimately neutral. It enabled the Insurgency, but it did not cause it.

Read the rest here.


Michael has published the second part of his essay: 

The Insurgency, Part II

….Mass political movements have come along several times in American history.  Some have transformed the country, and others have fizzled out. 

The movement that elected Andrew Jackson, against the vicious opposition of the existing establishment, swept through all levels of American government, rewriting state constitutions and extending the franchise to all adult White males. Jacksonian democracy caused a permanent and irreversible change in American life.  

The Populist movement looked like it would have a similar impact.  Led by the charismatic outsider William Jennings Bryan, this movement held gigantic rallies and seemed like a revolution in the making. It provoked fear and a hostile response from the establishment of its day, in both political parties. Yet the Populists ultimately failed to make a significant impact on national policy, and were absorbed into the Democratic Party. 

Today’s Insurgency could go either way. Success is not inevitable. 

10 Responses to “Enter Stage Right”

  1. Charles Cameron Says:

    Congratulations, Michael!  I’m looking forward to part II.

  2. Mithras Says:

    As Kevin Drum says:

    Too many observers mistakenly react to the tea party as if it’s brand new, an organic and spontaneous response to something unique in the current political climate. But it’s not. It’s not a response to the recession or to health care reform or to some kind of spectacular new liberal overreach. It’s what happens whenever a Democrat takes over the White House. When FDR was in office in the 1930s, conservative zealotry coalesced in the Liberty League. When JFK won the presidency in the ’60s, the John Birch Society flourished. When Bill Clinton ended the Reagan Revolution in the ’90s, talk radio erupted with the conspiracy theories of the Arkansas Project. And today, with Barack Obama in the Oval Office, it’s the tea party’s turn.

    I think that’s right. The Tea Party is just the latest manifestation of that abiding mix of nativism, religious and cultural reactionarism, xenophobia, and a Social Darwinistic set of beliefs that I call "just plain mean."  I think it comes out of the Civil War, where the losers never really accepted the ideas of the winners, and the fact that the World Wars never touched our territory (while they burned similar traits out of the social fabric in Europe for a long time). It’s Calhounism married to unquestioning belief in Empire and a perverted, belligerent Christianity.

  3. Mithras Says:

    Oops, forgot the link to Drum.

  4. Lexington Green Says:

    Mithras should read his Sun Tzu.  If you simply project onto your opponent your own dream of vileness incarnate, you won’t understand your opponent.  A Leftish thinker who tried to be fair, went in person to look, and had something interesting to say, is Jonathan Raban: 


    Jonathan Rauch, not a Right-winger, also was open minded and had some interesting things to say, links here:



  5. Stuart Berman Says:

    Lotus has published a great pair of posts. Not only do the established powers fight change to protect their interests, but their world view as well. While those who believe the world is getting better each and every day (and especially once their ‘program’ is enacted), the Tea Party represents the view that the course we are on is both reckless and unsustainable.

    One worldview points to Europe as a shining beacon of what we need to become (and then some) while the other (oftimes by those from Europe) screams ‘Don’t go there!’ knowing the dirty little secrets of European inside/outside culture.

    One worldview says that it is the government’s duty to take care of our needs while the other knows that government can’t take care of itself let alone the rest of us.

  6. Purpleslog Says:

    Mithras…I am not surprised that a Mother Jones contributor would want to characterize the Tea Party-ers as crazies/bigots/racists/stupid/meanies/evil-mongers/crypto-fascist etc.

    I am aware that the lefties I have interacted with my entire adults life can’t understand why anyone would disagree with their policy prescriptions…unless those people are crazies/bigots/racists/stupid/meanies/evil-mongers/crypto-fascist or just not yet fully informed/educated as the awesomeness of the philosophy of the left.

    No democide body county threshold seems to ever convince the left they are wrong.

    No failure of policy ever seems convince the left that anything but more of the same – passionately more so – isn’t the solution.

    I will give the left this…they are tenacious.

    Anyways…I think this works as a summary of the Tea Party principles [1]:

    (1) Public Policies must be at their core fiscally responsible/conservative
    (2) Ruthlessly end corruption/cronyism/ethic-less-ness in GOV
    (3) Preference for Individuals and Markets over Central Planning
    (4) Federalism…more please.
    (5) Reduced complexity and quantity of GOV laws, regulation, and programs.
    (6) America doesn’t need to apologize or be ashamed for being America
    (7) Remember and follow the principles in US Constitution

    I think the left will continue to strongly attack the Tea Party-ers as alternatively crazies/bigots/racists/stupid/meanies/evil-mongers/crypto-fascist and of people of significance whatsoever ("move along, nothing to see here").

    I think the big biz/big gov/elitist right and the social conservative right will mildly attack them and continue to try to co-opt them.


  7. Purpleslog Says:

    Stuart…right on.

  8. zen Says:

    Mithras pointed to Kevin Drum’s piece in Mother Jones. After reading the article, it seemed to me that Kevin was channeling a lite version thesis of Richard Hofstadter’s classic essay, The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
    The problem with this, other than Kevin may not have read Hofstadter firsthand, is that the latter either did not understand American populism of the 19th century or Hofstadter chose to gloss over the substantial differences between the agrarian populists and postwar anti-communists in scoring polemical points.
    There are major issues related to elitism and cultural freudianism in that blind spot that Drum simply assumes into his own argument, not to mention that Hoftstadter was factually wrong in his assumptions about such figures as, say Alger Hiss or the extent of Soviet espionage in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

  9. Lexington Green Says:

    Got the coveted Robb link.  Whoa. 

  10. onparkstreet Says:

    Cool beans, Mr. Green.
    Nice thoughtful pieces.
    – Madhu

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