The Tea Party: More left than you think

November 10, 2010

By any standard, I am not calling a Tea Partier a liberal. With the recent loss for Democrats in the recent midterm elections, the party is not only grieving, but is furious about this right-winged group. However, mostly going unnoticed, the Tea Party has some uncanny resemblance to another radical political party of the past: the New Left.

The 1960’s represent a time of rebellion and change. Through this, the New Left represented a social movement that was  anti-government and anti-establishment. Today, the Tea partiers represent a social movement that are also anti-government and anti-establishment. David Brooks explores the issues in his article, “The Wal-Mart Hippies

“There are many differences between the New Left and the Tea Partiers. One was on the left, the other is on the right. One was bohemian, the other is bourgeois. One was motivated by war, and the other is motivated by runaway federal spending. One went to Woodstock, the other is more likely to go to Wal-Mart.”

But Brooks also explains that the similarities between the two opposing groups are more frighteningly evident than we notice. For one, the Tea Party uses the same demonstrative tactics that the New Left utilized. Seen as militant and confrontational, you can see both groups in enormous rallies, taking the streets for public spectacle– but also for the outlandish public statements that are designed to shock American society. However, Brooks also states that these intentions are not accidental, stating:

“Dick Armey, one of the spokesmen for the Tea Party movement, recently praised the methods of Saul Alinsky, the leading tactician of the New Left.”

But the real similarity comes from the core beliefs and mentalities of the two groups. The New Left and the Tea Party both believe that man is born free and virtuous until the corruption of the elites come and poison this virtue. And it is this belief of innate innocence that Brooks believes is both group’s core motivation.

That “core commonality” provides for both parties to believe in big conspiracy theories that argue against governmental control. They both worry about being co-opted by “corrupted forces of the establishment” coming, and disrupting their ranks. And it is because of this that both parties have  a problem with authority. However also similar, neither party has a clear plan of what to do beyond destroying the establishment. They do not believe in a system, but rather “a spontaneous uprising of participatory democracy.”

And for this reason, both parties also set their selves apart from conservatives.

“The New Left and the Tea Party movement are radically anticonservative. Conservatism is built on the idea of original sin — on the assumption of human fallibility and uncertainty. To remedy our fallen condition, conservatives believe in civilization — in social structures, permanent institutions and just authorities, which embody the accumulated wisdom of the ages and structure individual longings.”

An interesting political commentary on 60’s political style- from two different extremes.


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