As we await news of the latest atrocity from the U.S. Supreme Court pertaining to health care reform, we are reminded of earlier game-changing assaults on core democratic institutions inflicted by this court – their only consistency being their gross prejudice in favor of the rich and privileged.
It was before the first such egregious action (Bush vs. Gore) that I heard Justice Antonin Scalia speak, defending his so-called “theory” of law. Boiling it down to essentials, his radical view was that he and his colleagues on the court don’t interpret the law, they are the law.
From almost any universal moral standpoint, this is the height of arrogant heresy. Moses didn’t write the 10 Commandments, God did, our western Judeo-Christian tradition tells us.
In any number of ways in any number of global traditions, it is taught that when any man, or tribe, ignores God to act alone, the judgment will be harsh.
So, Scalia’s viewpoint was the height of apostasy. But it is that apostasy which is now ruling our nation.
Others who have joined him on the Supreme Court have internalized the same misguided and dangerous cult-like frame of reference. It owes its roots in the modern era, to the ideologies of the radical counterculture, the amorality of “if it feels good, do it,” “might makes right,” and “do it because you can!”
This is the radicalism that morphed out of the 1970s U.S. counterculture into the Reagan Revolution. It drew from the most extreme 19th century philosophies of political reaction, from those philosophies of divide-and-conquer “egoism” that were cultivated to prevent anything like another American revolution from ever happening again.
With the notion of a “superman” by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, this evolved into fascist theory in the early 20th century adopted by Mussolini and Hitler.
Unfortunately, the ideology was not confined to fascist tyrannies, but was seen by many in the “military industrial complex” of the U.S. (that President Eisenhower warned against) as an effective counterinsurgency weapon against labor unions and collective bargaining.
It was in the socially-engineered mainstreaming of the radical counterculture in the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s that such extreme views gained a foothold in the general population.
In his book, “The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters” (1999), Frances Stonor Sauders wrote that covert intelligence efforts aimed at changing cultural mores required two key features.
One was the “positioning of intellectuals and their work like chess pieces to be played” in accordance with the goals of operation.
Another was to create the environment where “the subject moves in the direction you desire for reasons which he believes to be his own,” where “people think they are acting freely, when in fact they are bound to forces over which they have no control.”
The author asked, “How many of those writers and thinkers who acquired an international audience for their ideas (thanks to the CIA – ed.) were really second-raters, ephemeral publicists, whose works were doomed to the basements of second-hand bookstores.”
There’s no doubt such covert operations flourished in the U.S. in the 1950s, as documented in the 1970 Senate Church Committee investigations into illegal CIA domestic operations after World War II, including the infamous Operation MK-Ultra that spread LSD on 40 campuses in the U.S. and sponsored the pro-Goldwater Ken Kesey’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test,” propagating drugs and radical individualist ideology across the nation in the 1960s.
This is the stain on the body politic of our nation that Scalia and his ilk on the Supreme Court come from: throw an election to Bush by ordering vote counting to cease, allow unlimited corporate contributions to election campaigns in the “Citizens United” decision, and now, flush health care reform?
In her new book, Rachel Maddow wrote in “Drift, the Unmooring of American Military Power” (2012) how the “we do it because we can” mentality was introduced in the Reagan administration, leading to Iran-Contra scandal and perpetuated in arch-conservative corridors of power to this day.
It, all of it, is in sore need of a roll-back.