How do those of us on the left (and both rightwingers wedded to reality – jk) fight the right? How do you have a constructive policy-based debate with people who are immune to evidence, have no shame or standards and do not acknowledge the legitimacy of their political or ideological opposition? How is it possible to hold a debate and reach compromise with such people?
The Divine Right, Corporate Socialism, and Political Survival: How?
In recent history, the right-wing has become increasingly politically inept, openly authoritarian corporate socialists. They despise the poor and the middle class and they have no qualms about showing it. Whether it is drug-testing or otherwise demonising welfare recipients, gutting health services (freezing the medicare rebate or sabotaging the ACA) or spending without limit on the armed forces and corporate subsidies, the platform is pretty clear. They are brazen corporate cuckolds who care not a fig for anyone making less than 6-figures per annum.
Now, in a democracy (laugh along with me) a platform that is so openly hostile to the majority and favours the minority would not be long for this world. But we in the west have not been democracies for almost half a century now. This goes far to explain the continued political existence of a movement so hostile to the people. But there are other factors at play too.
Secret Weapons of The Right, Part One: Immunity to Evidence
As the title suggests, the two chief weapons of the modern right-wing are their complete immunity to evidence and their utter shamelessness.
The fact that the right does not care about evidence utterly nullifies the chief weapon of the left: facts. Whether the issue is climate science, the economy or anything else, the right is not interested in any countervailing opinion. Whatever they have decided (or been told to say) is already correct and the opinion of a communist is not worth listening to anyway. They do not care what the facts are: ideology comes first and the facts must be bent or otherwise distorted to fit. Simply put, to the extent that they believe in evidence at all, the right believes in policy-based evidence rather than evidence-based policy. Examples abound, but Mr Morrison on climate change is perhaps the most blatant: he either does not know or does not care. Either way, he has no business in politics.
Secret Weapons of The Right, Part Two: Utter Shamelessness
The second great weapon of the right is their utter shamelessness when it comes to pedalling their lies. When Morrison left the country earlier this week (because that’s what a good leader does mid-crisis), his department lied and said he was not there. Mr. Morrison has since cancelled his holiday and will return, but I hope the damage is done (again, laugh along with me). Previous efforts on his department’s part to use national security (the age-old cry of the oppressor as Captain Picard said) to hide his whereabouts were even debunked by the Errorgraph. Ok – when a Murdoch rag debunks your lies, you need to get better ones. But the point here is the utter lack of shame in their lying. This renders them immune to any and all charges of hypocrisy, lying and other transgressions. They do not care what the facts say (up to and including their own words), we have always been at war with Eurasia, ie the truth is what we say it is at any given time.
Secret Weapons of The Right, Part Three: Deny the Legitimacy of the Opposition
The modern right continually denies the legitimacy of their opposition and has done so for some time. Whether the GOP uses the term ‘Democrat party’ (something Bush 43 made up) or the LNP dismisses out of hand anything that anyone says that deviates from their preconceived ideas, the right does not see any value in the opinions of their opposition (or even their existence). They do not see the value in a conversation with someone who does not already agree with them. They expect lockstep compliance with everything they say and any talk of reform is socialism. They claim to be all about free speech and the exchange of ideas. Indeed: as long as they already agree. You know there is much to be said for Bill Maher’s quote
Whenever a Democrat seeks ‘common ground’, he always seems to find it where the Republican was already standing
Other western tories are no different: their opposition is illegitimate and compromise is treason. Indeed, the term ‘compromise’ only ever seems to apply to their opponents. Tories are the stereotypical entitled partner in an unhealthy marriage: there is compromise alright – the other one compromises and they get what they want. As with such a marriage, this is not a healthy model for politics, since the other partner eventually grows tired of the situation.
Conclusion: Fighting a Political Hydra
We return to the question asked at the beginning of this piece: how do you fight such an enemy? If facts and evidence do not matter, and you cannot shame them or in some other way convince them to change their minds, and they are not even open to considering other opinions, how do you make progress? This is where I would usually insert some thought out potential solution, but I have nothing. I am genuinely at a loss.
The chief weapons of the left, namely evidence, the political dialogue, and our opponents’ better natures, are all nullified. The modern right hates the facts (and the media is on their side anyway) and they cannot be shamed or otherwise convinced to change their minds. The right-wing is a modern political hydra: every fact you present and every quote of theirs you offer just results in more heads growing.
The disappointment is strong in this one, but we must fight. The only problem is – I do not know how. Even with a competent opposition (which Labor and the Democrats are not), it is not clear how to kill this hydra of ineptitude, proven lies, and reckless (and ruthless) planetary destruction.
If anyone has any ideas, I am all ears. A new strategy is required, but I am not sure what it is.
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