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Can Brock See Yet?
April 18, 2002
By David Swanson

David Brock's Blinded By the Right is an apolitical book, and while it denounces and apologizes for the "conservative movement" that replaced politics with sex scandals, it does not make a political apology.

Brock does not say he is sorry that people died and suffered in the richest country on the planet because they had no health insurance. He does not say he regrets seeing families booted off welfare and offered no assistance toward becoming self-supporting. He doesn't apologize for the dwindling of labor rights, massive layoffs, loss of protections in hazardous workplaces, environmental destruction, or the radical increase in the inequality of wealth. He's not sorry for the divestment of resources from positive efforts and the explosive growth of the prison industry. He doesn't comment on the devastation of inner cities, the demolition of rights for criminal defendants, the routine bombing of civilians in foreign countries, the abandonment of public education and efforts to privatize schools for profit. He doesn't seem concerned that corporations pay no taxes or that loan sharks pay no penalties. None of this sort of ungossipy, less-than-warlike stuff is of interest to him, at least not in this book. But then, neither was it of interest to Congress for over a year of all-Monica-all-the-time or during the past 7 months since September 11, 2001.

Brock is writing about an all-out struggle between two "teams." He could have been a supporter of the pro-Israel rally held in DC yesterday (April 15, 2002) or of the pro-Palestinian one scheduled for Saturday (which I hope becomes, rather, pro-peace). He could be routing for the Catholics or the Protestants in Ireland. He chose a team, but his choice had nothing to do with any merits of that team. If you had nothing but Brock's book to go by, you might believe that all conservatives found their positions as a result of some childhood trauma or Freudian drama plus a big dose of opportunism. And you might also believe that an honest and polite conservatism, in contrast to that described by Brock, would be a possibly good course to follow.

In reality, conservatism in all of its forms is largely motivated by greed, religion, timidity, antidemocratic abuse of power, and a big dose of opportunism. The New Republic doesn't check its facts any more than the American Spectator did. The conservatism of George Bush the First condemned more Americans and Iraqis to death than the lunatic ravings of Grover Norquist, at least as the count stands now. There is no honest conservatism, and that should be the lesson of this book. Right-wing arguments only win if they are massively funded.

It takes a vast conspiracy and millions of dollars to promote ideas that seek to harm the many for the profit of the few. Spinners and statisticians and muckrakers don't come cheap, and those who can afford them are able to give life to ideas that deserve to die and in many cases will soon die anyway. On the "social issues" the conservative foot draggers denounced in this book already look out of date. On the "economic issues" the arguments of the conservatives have been proved disastrous again and again and again, but they will continue to be funded.

Brock thinks his mistake lay in going too far to one extreme, but even then he doesn't think he went very far. He resents a comparison to Nazi doctors and how they rationalized their behavior. But this is Brock continuing to fetishize the personal and the hands-on. He says he could never have voted for a right-wing politician. Yet he sees relatively little harm in his probably having swayed thousands to do so, not to mention his helping confirm a Supreme Court Justice who later appointed a wing-nut president to top all wing-nuts.

Things must seem pretty meaningless when you're supposedly working for a cause and yet you manage to squeeze in THAT many dinner parties and cocktail receptions. It's amazing! Left-wing D.C. activists that I'm familiar with are lucky if they get to sleep and eat. Time and money constraints make Brock's sort of lifestyle impossible as well as undesirable for lefties. And a good deal of time for any left-wing movement that sought to duplicate the intensity of Brock and Company's right-wing attack would have to be devoted to talking to low-income and shutout people beyond the Beltway. Brock's schedule was not constrained by such needs. Even when he recognizes the hypocrisy of the adulterous "pro-family" talking heads in D.C., he imagines their provincial supporters really are all heterosexual monogamous unmisogynistic teetotalers.

Brock has finally started on the right road by leaving the extreme conservatives, and has avoided the potentially fatal mistake of embracing the Democratic party. But will he work to give power to the people or will he promote a Third Way of screwing the majority without talking so much about screwing? Washington is plagued with those who speak up too late, but Brock can redeem himself by putting his talents to noble, not just moderate or respectable, use. He can join the fight for more democracy and less stock market, more world and less bank. And he is in a unique position to be able to do so without making the mistake of demonizing the conservatives. The extremists are now the Administration, but Brock knows they are human beings and knows that they can be swayed - even if only by means of humiliation.

In New Orleans community activists recently raised the minimum wage. When big business owners challenged it in court, repeating myths that had sounded good to them for years but didn't have any evidence behind them, the judge dismissed their case as "biased," "speculative," and based on "no specific study." They immediately denounced her as "popularly elected."

If Brock is really looking for something to do with the rest of is life, I'd like to encourage him to put his skills to work trying to make "popularly elected" into a compliment.

David Swanson's website is at

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