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The Right's Garden of False Narratives

By Phil Rockstroh
September 20, 2007

Editor’s Note: At the core of the rot that is destroying the American Republic are the many false narratives that have replaced the nation's real history. The Right has proved adept at creating these alluring story lines and selling them through a vast and sophisticated media apparatus, while the mainstream press goes silent or plays along.

In this guest essay, poet Phil Rockstroh explores the personal and societal implications of foisting false reality on a nation:

One would think that from the cries of (feigned) indignation and calls for repentance arising from conservatives regarding's ad in the N.Y. Times that the liberal-leaning group had not simply questioned the insights and intentions of a public servant, promoting, in a public forum, the policy of an illegal and immoral occupation of a sovereign nation; rather, the folks of had committed blasphemy against the holy name of some revered saint -- General Mary Petraeus, Mother of God.

The false outrage of perpetually offended conservatives serves as cover for the true outrages of our era, including: truncated civil liberties, rising levels of social and economic inequality and injustice, and foreign wars of aggression waged by an insular and secretive executive branch and fought by a permanent underclass.

The outrages keep arriving, because the collective imagination of the citizen/consumers of the US, arbitrated by a careerist media elite, has been, for decades, in the thrall of false narratives that serve the interests of the elite of the corporate/militarist classes.

Concurrently, a sense of unease and despair, due to a sense of personal and collective powerlessness before exploitive power, has created the tone and tenor of the times, and begot the phenomenon of supine liberalism and Viagra conservatism. (In this way, liberals stand fecklessly by, as the public is, time and time again, screwed by the decrepit schemes of the right.)

In this way, liberal paternalism is insufferable; worse, it is dangerous.

This has been the right's craftiest accomplishment: inducing "reasonable" liberals and "sensible" centrists to enable their crimes, from stolen elections to their present preparation for a massive bombing campaign of Iran, by intimidating them with the fear that any protest on their part will cast them among the ranks of America-hating, lefty moonbats, who wish to see the terrorist win, dumpsters piled high with discarded fetuses and metro-sexuality made the official state religion.

Moreover, these assaults upon both reason and the republic (what's left of it) will persist until progressives begin to effectively counter the narratives of the predatory right. Some call it shameful demagoguery; although, conservatives call it career advancement.

This is not a novel situation. Throughout history, these kinds of pernicious mindsets have always been with us; it is our tragedy that they have been allowed to prevail. 

Conservatives are eager to embrace false narratives: The surge is working; the terrorists hate us for our freedom; Fred Thompson is Ronald Reagan incarnate, but with a touch of Jed Clampett "folksiness."

Accordingly, when the times are roiled with uncertainty, when thoughts of the future are tinged with dread, conservatives, like a character in Southern Gothic literature, will fall into a swoon, longing for the return of an imagined, purer past that never was.

One can picture these right-wing sorts wandering the streets, wearing a faded prom dress and a broken, prom queen tiara, twittering and cooing, while repeating over and over again, "the surge is working; Anbar Province is now a beacon of freedom unto the world...") in an imaginary dialog with the ghost of their long lost beau, Ronald Reagan. 

Ronald Reagan, an ungifted actor, by means of playing the role of a "resolute" Cold Warrior, was able to gain the approbation and wealth that had alluded him as a contract player in Hollywood. In truth, Reagan's greatest accomplishment was convincing himself of his own sincerity. 

To the Exits

Constantin Stanislavsky, who is considered the father of modern acting technique, is reputed to have said that when an actor starts to believe he is the character he's portraying it is time to escort him from the theatre.

Withal, Fred, Rudy, Rush, Hannity, O'Reilly, et al., can you find the exits on your own or will you need to be medicated, strapped to a gurney, and wheeled from the public arena?

Rather than being candidates for President of the United States, most of the Republican field seems to be vying for the title of National Crazy Uncle -- the kind of guy who corners you at a family gathering and rants that the PTA is a terrorist front group and gangs of illegal aliens are engaged in a vast conspiracy to steal single socks from his washer-dryer.

The Republican candidates for president and their fantasy-prone constituents wish to set the Way Back Machine to the golden days of the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was impersonating a man just arrived via the 1940s.

This phenomenon is known as the Law of Republican Special Relativity, which states: When events begin to accelerate forward, the conservative mind will be cast, at an equal rate of speed, backwards in time.

But the paradox is: they arrive in a parallel universe, an alternative past that never existed on this earth -- a low probability dimension, comprised of platitudes and false pieties, where white male privilege is sacrosanct, only for the reason (according to their reality-proof perspective) that it serves to provide all mankind with all things good and holy.  

This law can be tested by performing the following simple exercise: Engage a conservative true believer in a dialog regarding the manner by which "state's rights" was misused in the Jim Crow dominated Deep South of the pre-Civil Rights Era in order to propagate and maintain segregation, and your conservative-minded test subject will respond as if those realities transpired long ago and far away on a planet that he has never visited. 

Yet, paradoxically, rightists have manage to create a Time Retrieval Device, a device that has summoned from the past wonders, such as the following: a reversal of many of the rights of working people; the return of unsafe and unsanitary practices in the food industry; widening gaps of wealth, health and privilege between social, racial and economic classes; in short, many the excesses of plutocratic rule inherent to unfettered capitalism.  

As a result, a generation has inherited power who are devoid of the concept of causation and consequence. Ergo, we have developed a political class who rule by narratives of denial and shallow self-justification.

An example of this is the blaming of the people of Iraq for the blood-drenched debacle that has resulted from the illegal and immoral invasion of their nation. As well as, an enabling cadre of media elitists who served as cheerleaders for the invasion, because they deemed it to be good for business, and, to this day, are unwilling to admit their complicity.

All of the above leads to the question: What are present-day conservatives striving to conserve?

Historically, conservatives gave their utmost to conserve institutions such as slavery, Jim Crow, child labor -- and, of course, the use of leeches for medical purposes. (Perhaps, they simply couldn't stand the thought of a fellow blood-sucker being deemed dangerous, and they feared the start of a trend.)

Central Paradox

At present, the central paradox of contemporary conservatism is this: How does one practice conservatism within an all-encompassing economy based on disposability? This is analogous to establishing a brothel devoted to the goal of abstinence. 

When engaged in a dialog with many conservatives, the question becomes: Are their reactions and responses evoked therein simply borne of plain ignorance, willful ignorance, or outright lying? Or are their responses the result of a group hallucination?

All progressives have experienced the following nonsensical encounter of the conservative kind. Present a reasoned argument to a conservative -- and, all at once, completely ignoring the tenet, tone and thrust of the point, they begin hallucinating a creature, only known to exist in the right-wing bestiary, known as a "moonbat" -- a mythological beast that, ironically, seems to appear when a conservative is confronted with reality.

Accordingly, the time has come for a study of political zoology and to posit who are the true moonbats now making their habitat in the United States.

Case study: Unregulated, wish-fulfillment-based conservative economic policy has created those suburban arrays of mold-incubating petri dishes known as products of the housing boom. Moreover, the bursting of the whole bubble-prone Ponzi scheme has sent shock waves throughout international economies and is surging the economy of the U.S. towards recession.

Furthermore, conservative anti-regulatory policies have rendered us babes in a cheap, plastic Toyland.

What has an era of conservatism wrought? Answer: a culture that has all the value, integrity, sustainability and safety as a toy manufactured in China.

Apropos, contemporary life, as conceived and manufactured by conservative "values," is shoddily made, toxic and not a lot of fun.

In addition, it has spawned a culture ridden with public relations fabulists and media-savvy confidence artists who tell us that the taste of corporate ass-suck is the ambrosia of the gods.

The locked-down, stultifying mindset and ideological barbarianism of present day conservatism is directly linked to the steep decline of the quality of life in the United States.

The recent revelations regarding the "I'm-not-gay-I-simply-engage-in-same-sex-encounters-in-public-restrooms" wing of the Republican Party are instructive in understanding the rightist's worldview and its effect on our times.

Covert sex in a public bathroom stall is an apt metaphor for how contemporary conservatism limits and restricts the possibilities of human life. In the same way that a closet-case gay conservative stunts the possibilities of his love life, the conservative mindset limits the scope of a culture's possibilities.

Accordingly, economic life must be ruled by ruthless, unregulated competition, and the nation's meaning can only be found in war. Hence, under the Bush Junta, we are told, as far as international relations go, that the nation has few options other than its present policy of predatory capitalism and "wide-stance" militarism.

Regarding perma-fools such as these, Ernest Becker wrote: "Once you base your whole life striving on a desperate lie, and try to implement that lie, you instrument your own undoing."

Accordingly, the republic is dead; its ghost howls online only in pixelated protests such as this one. This grim reality will remain, until we rise up and repudiate the false narratives that have created and continue to comprise these tragic times.

Phil Rockstroh, a self-described auto-didactic, gasbag monologist, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at [email protected].    

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