It’s Still About Class War
Posted on March 16, 2016
It is important to understand the larger patterns revealed in the destructive legislation perpetrated by the radical right. Generally speaking, the RR has (in effect) one overarching goal–class war–which is supported by objectives that include:
1. taking government action that directly redistributes power and wealth upward to the oligarchs
2. creating or exploiting divisions and splits between everyone else, generally by encouraging hatred and exclusion and stratification and scapegoating
3. creating a general atmosphere of irrationality and mystification.
The last two objectives are intended to make it as hard as possible for the 99% to launch an effective collective defense against class war.
This is not to say that most rank-and-file right wingers are attached to these goals and objectives. Most of them are motivated by specific hates and resentments, or by ressentiment more generally, rather than by any larger objectives. Also some of them hate some of the oligarchs, especially the bankers. However there is a natural coalition between the oligarchs and the haters. It is that coalition that defines what we mean by the “radical right.”
Thus, today the Kansas legislature passed a law (which Brownback will surely sign) that requires public universities to give money to student organizations that exclude members based on religious beliefs. This is ever-so-right-wing-cool in many ways.
1. It is an attack on equal access to public educational services, creating preferred status for members of exclusionary and discriminatory religions. It also creates a subterfuge that allows discrimination on any basis whatsoever, provided you make it a tenet of your religion.
2. Since it is unconstitutional, it guarantees a future useless struggle which the radical right will eventually lose–but also win, in the sense of diverting everyone from issues that really matter, while also weakening adherence to the Constitution (as traditionally interpreted).
3. This struggle will use up resources of the public universities, which are institutions the radical right hates, for many perfectly valid reasons:
a. Public higher education tends to support upward mobility and break down class barriers.
b. Public higher education tends to oppose irrationality and mystification.
c. Public higher education tends to be rooted in values that oppose oligarchical rule.
d. Public higher education is disproportionately supported by middle and lower-upper class people, so attacking it tends to split them from working class people.
Of course there are some much more specific objectives.
One objective is spreading the spoils of office. The existing radical right junta in Kansas is a coalition of the Protestant radical right, Catholic antiabortionists, bigots (at present mostly fixated on Muslims, blacks, and Latinos), and anti-government libertarians. However a majority of their solid votes in Republican primaries come from the Protestant right, a group that receives a disproportionately small share of the political rewards doled out by the junta. The primary goal of the Protestant right is Christian nationalism, meaning a formal recognition of their particular religion in the public realm. This law is a sop to that goal. (The bitterness that fuels Christian nationalism is historically rooted in racial bigotry, Southern revanchism, and working class ressentiment, but that is a story for another time.)
Another specific objective is sticking it to KU, an institution especially hated for its eastern Kansas liberalism.
It is also relevant that our American radical right has a general strategy of attacking all government institutions as such, with universities as special case. Note that oligarchies in most countries do not attack the very idea of government. Instead they view government as their main instrument of rule. The leading faction in our oligarchy has other plans. It has long pursued the goal of minarchy, i.e. minimal government, with real power resting in what would amount to corporate feudalism.