“Obama is not Hitler. It is not the President who would put the state in exclusive service to corporate interests; it is the “Teabaggers”. It is they who are the foot soldiers of fascism.”
---from the “Quotations of Chairman Joe”
I bring up this business with the EGG movement from 1995 by way of illustration. Like the contemporary “Teabaggers” this group represented a movement long on rhetoric and short on solutions; a movement giving vent to anger and frustration but exhibiting a pervasive ignorance not only of how our world is organized, but of our collective history; a movement purportedly representing the hopes and dreams of hard-working ordinary people, but in fact servicing the narrow interests of a select and wealthy few.
The most singular issue sparking the emergence of the so-called Ethics in Good Government movement was opposition to zoning. Ionia County was then one of only 2 remaining counties in the state that had not adopted a county-wide zoning ordinance with such issues left to the local townships to decide and enforce. No one had proposed county-wide zoning but that didn’t prevent a group of right-wing nuts from launching the movement. Appearing on the local radio program “Viewpoint”, spokesmen for the group openly cited references to zoning in the 1920 Communist Manifesto as evidence of evil intent. It was, of course obfuscation, a smear. I don’t think there is such a thing as a 1920 Communist Manifesto. I’ve read the works of Marx and I can testify that nowhere in his writings does the word “zoning” appear. In any case, like old Joe McCarthy, they would level these charges but never produce the documentation. Nevertheless such nonsense went unchallenged on the air, giving credence to the cretins and further fuelling the fires of fear. The real problem with zoning was of course the implicit threat such a regimen would impose on the freedom of our slumlord to further exploit and abuse his neighbors. What the eggheads in the EGG movement refused to understand was the implicit contradiction in their behavior: they thought they were foot soldiers in the cause of justice and freedom, when in fact they were acting in the narrow interests of a cheap-jack real estate hustler.
Fast forward to the present: today we have on our hands a national movement funded entirely by billionaires through their henchmen. The singular issue sparking the so-called “TEA” movement is taxes. As in Taxed Enough Already, as their placards proclaim. This movement emerged full-throated in April of 2009 just in time to protest tax deadline day. Never mind that no one was proposing a tax increase, never mind that the tax code being the object of such protest was that of George W. Bush, never mind that President Obama had just cut the taxes for 95% of the American people. Moreover, the United States ranks 23rd among the top 30 industrial countries in taxes, and Federal Taxes under Obama have claimed the lowest share of personal income since 1952. Like the zoning issue in Ionia years before, this was a completely bogus issue designed only to gin up a growing rage that would subsequently be used in the service of greed.
Moreover, like the EGG movement those many years ago, the “TEA” movement has been revealed to be nothing but a so-called “AstroTurf’ movement. Like the EGG movement it purports to be an entirely grass-roots effort, but is in fact organized and funded for the purpose of servicing the moneyed interests. Where once only a local slumlord stood behind his spokesman shouting from atop his soap box, now stands the Koch Brothers and other Billionaires through groups like the so called “FreedomWorks” and the “Club for Growth”, working the ropes upon the national stage. The national Scumlords have here replaced the local Slumlord; with the operatives in question behaving none the wiser. It is a bitter irony. The populist revolt has been hijacked and put in the service of reactionaries. Progressivism is threatened by an emerging Regressivism, Reform has taken the form of Reaction in the service of the emerging corporate dictatorship. None dare declare what stands clearly before their very eyes: protesters in paramilitary camouflage; people showing up to political meetings armed. None dare call the TEA movement what it is. None dare call it Fascism.