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Make Them Accountable / Another Lesson in How To Defeat Democracy

Another Lesson in How To Defeat Democracy

Here’s another lesson in how to defeat democracy. Merwin K. Hart was the predecessor to Peter Peterson, the Koch brothers, and the other rich, right-wing families (Ahmanson, Bradley, Coors, Olin, Richardson, Scaife, and to a lesser extent, Walton)  who have spent so much money to keep Americans from voting for policies that benefit the vast majority of us.

From Mark Ames, author of Going Postal:

From “Operation Wetback” to Newtown: Tracing the Hick Fascism of the NRA

The formula is simple: The more batshit malevolent the gun cult gets, the more power they exert…

So what’s really going on here? Why the crazy? It’s not exactly a revelation to learn that the NRA is run by hick fascist nutjobs, although we quickly forget just how toxic they are without constant reminding. But each time you peel off a layer, it’s more shocking than you expected it be.

But what’s the purpose, what are the deeper ideological politics of that sort of gun-cult fanaticism?

Looking back at Big Business’ violent reaction against the New Deal and the political culture that it created: a more “collectivist” political culture, as the libertarians derisively call it, where people were more deeply involved with each other and their communities, and with that involvement in their politics and communities came greater trust in their communities. That political culture — where people were more involved in their politics and trusted government more than they trusted business — was a big problem, according to pollsters and PR experts hired by business lobby groups in the postwar era, groups like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce.

Much better is to pour arms unrestricted into the population, give them legal cover and political encouragement to take political matters into their own hands with laws like “Stand Your Ground”. That way you wind up creating a political culture of atomized, fear-fueled citizens who think they’re literally at war with each other, and their only way out is to fend for themselves and their family.

One of FDR’s first and most powerful opponents in the 30s and 40s was a New York lobbyist and public relations heavyweight named Merwin K. Hart. He was the brains and organizing force behind far-right big business groups like the American Liberty League, the isolationist America First Committee, and the far-right National Economic Council, fighting labor unions and waging nonstop war on democracy, which Merwin Hart equated with Communism. He also served as PR flak for Spain’s fascist dictator…

In place of democracy and “collectivism” and community activism, Merwin K. Hart promoted “individualism” and fear.

And that naturally led Merwin K Hart into promoting the sort of fanatical gun-politics that shocked the public in his time, but today is accepted as part of the mainstream discourse, as if NRA gun-fanaticism was always in the air, rather than a political project with political ends in mind…

It takes years to cultivate a political mindset that voluntarily neutralizes itself by convincing itself that its contribution to world revolution comes down to purchasing a few guns at K-Mart, then blogging about it. That’s what reactionary plutocrats like the Koch brothers understood about the deeper politics of gun fanaticism, and why their outfits like the Cato Institute have been at the forefront of overturning gun regulations and promoting “Stand Your Ground” vigilantism as a substitute for political engagement: That by poisoning the political climate, it poisons the minds, which circulates back to the external environment, and back into the minds, until you lock the culture into a pattern in which you always get more and they always get fleeced, which makes them more fanatical and you more powerful…

This is what I missed or ignored about gun control: The longterm view that the Koch brothers and the Scaifes and everyone backing gun-nuttery understood about how gun laws or the absence of those laws can completely transform the surrounding political climate.

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