National Commentary

What Makes the Tea Party Tick?

What makes the Tea Party tick? Mainstream elected leaders and pundits who got their start in politics by majoring in political science in college or by graduating from law school are ill equipped to grasp the mindset of the those who’ve been energized to rattle the chains of government, including of the Republican Party establishment.

This is not something rational or pragmatic. It is not religious or spiritual, either, in the classic sense. No, its inner circles are something more cult-like, having roots in the 1970s when tightly-organized “true believer” communes and cults became the surviving forms of the drug-sex-rock-and-roll counterculture of the late 1960s.

Among the basic tenets of cults are their us-versus-them quality. Usually, cult members huddle together, often alienated from parents, families and former social networks because of drugs, radical beliefs or chronic unemployment. They seek the comfort and camaraderie of like-minded vagabonds or misfits so as to belong.
This may not seem much like today’s average Tea Party devotee, on the surface at least.

Bound together in a cult, inner circles require enormous dedication and loyalty to their cause, as it is the only way to maintain cohesiveness. This is done by identifying an evil, a threat to the very existence of the cult, and of civilization as a whole.

The cultist’s head can be stuffed with any jibberish as long as it reinforces the core paranoia operative for holding the cult together, and for achieving its goal. The goal is determined behind the scenes by the cult-master or controller. Only he or she really knows what the cult is intended for.

In the case of the Tea Party, the cult master is, along with some less visible others, Dick Armey. He, of course, denies this publicly. But he’s got the organization, FreedomWorks, that carries the Tea Party project out, and implements it.

What is the goal? Don’t ask anybody in the Tea Party. Except for a vacuous notion of being anti-government, they don’t know, beyond electing more candidates sanctioned by their movement.

Mostly the Tea Party conforms to the shallow ideological parameters of the classic anarchist model.

In a little handbook entitled “Anarchism: Arguments For and Against,” by Albert Meltzer (1920-1996), called “one of the most enduring and respected torchbearers of the international Anarchist movement in the second half of the twentieth century,” the “inalienable tenets of anarchism” are boiled down to five succinct points.

They assert the primacy of inherent rights of individuals as free from the burden of obligations to any higher authority or privilege. They contend that property ownership is at the heart of inequity, requiring maintenance by means of force or coercion from the state, and depriving some of the fruits of their labor to achieve.

Without hereditary privilege or dominant classes, they claim, the state becomes unnecessary, but if retained, becomes tyranny as the only way to maintain its hold. And finally, if government is tyranny, anarchy is liberty.

“Anarchy means the opposite to what government guarantees,” they state. “If government is the maintenance of privilege and exploitation and inefficiency of distribution, then anarchy is order.’

More tortured in their presentation than what I’ve boiled down here, these tenets set the individual, with a claim on everything, against any authority, especially governments put in place to maintain inequities deriving from property and the special privileges that accrue to one person over another as a result. Therefore, the freedom of the individual requires the tearing down of the government to be realized. End of story.

Thus, from this model we can see why the Tea Party doesn’t stand for anything, but only stands against the government. It stands against any tax, any regulation, any restraint that government imposes

This is an ideological, cult-like belief which is not susceptible to reason or a pragmatic, problem-solving approach to governing.

It informs the Tea Party devotee of one thing, and one thing only: to be against whatever government (as in, Obama) “solution” is being proposed at any given time.

A big question in this context is whether, if a leftish Tea Party clone arises out of the current Wall Street demonstrations, it will be much different.