Pop on over an have a read at this interesting statement featured on Treehugger from the Texas State legislature. I feature it because it is a fascinating window into where the American mind is headed:
Texas Republicans Attack Agenda 21, Smart Growth, Sustainable Development and All of Europe*
This is not unique to Texas by a long shot, Tennessee passed an almost identical statement, and many red states are following suit. Even in blue states, most Republicans claim fealty to these ideas.
If you twist this statement around a bit, this quasi-religious and absolutist doctrine is indistinguishable from the most radical Communist gobbeldy-gook emanating from Lenin's Soviet Union or Mao's China. If you need proof, substitute "Western running-dog agents of capitalist imperialism" for "Freedom-hating collectivist multinational socialists," and the United States and Great Britain for Europe*, and you have pretty much the same kind of meaningless symbolic drivel that was spewing forth from the Politburos during the heady days of communist expansionism (or modern-day North Korea). Like those statements, it is nothing more than a reassertion of fundamentalist ideology, fighting against nonexistent phantoms in the imagination of a paranoid cult. Just like communism, they need an overarching enemy to fight against to stoke hatred, fear and paranoia in their followers to cover up the fact that their ideology is failing in actual practice. Agenda 21 is to Texas Republicans what the international Zionist banking conspiracy was to the Nazis, or a proletariat-exploiting Western imperialist bourgeoisie was to the Soviets. This sort of hidebound ideology is about as far from true classical conservatism as you can get. And the Nazis and Communists loved their guns, too!
Again, the Texas Doctrine, as I will now refer to it, is simply an inversion of communism. Where communism saw religion is just a tool used by the rulers to enslave the masses, in the Texas Doctrine property rights are sacred and bequeathed by God himself, like the ten commandments from the mountaintop. Whereas in communism everything must be centrally planned and communally managed down to the nearest coffee shop, in Texas there must be no planning or interference by the state whatsoever into the workings of the anarchic free market. Where even a vegetable stand needed to satisfy an army of regulations just to get going under Communism, even the most powerful multinational corporations will do as they please with no regulatory oversight in the Texas Doctrine. Where communism eliminated religion entirely, the Texas Doctrine is absolutely drenched in it. And like communism, anyone not ideologically "pure" is excluded from the leadership hierarchy and shamed and denounced by party apparatchiks. (Mitt Romney: "I am a severe conservative", see also John Huntsman, et. al.) As I've noted before, it sure is odd how a supposedly anticollectivist ideology marches in rigid lock step. It even features the requisite rewriting of all of world history in service of their ideology, just as communism did (compare paragraphs 2 and 3 with "all of history heretofore has been the history of class struggle..." and Marxism's stages of history).
Both the followers of Communism and the Texas doctrine see their absolutist methods as delivering a utopia. Just as communism believed it was inevitably the final stage of history and so logically needed to expand around the globe to fulfill its destiny, so do followers of the Texas Doctrine believe they have reached the end stage of history, with absolute property rights, a "free" market and a weak state. The only problem is they have not expanded enough. Things are still standing in the way of the promised utopia, things like government, which must be abolished by any means necessary (or 'drowned in a bathtub'). According to the Texas Doctrine, once every speck of sand, blade of grass and drop of water are privately owned, taxes eliminated, and the commons completely privatized, a golden age freedom will reign, and prosperity will be unleashed for every man woman and child, free from any coercion or obligations to society. And despite their hatred of the state, they have no compunctions in keeping an enormous military to wage war, state support of religion, burgeoning prisons, or giving the state the ultimate power of life and death over its citizens in the form of the death penalty**. The Texas Doctrine seems to be every bit as expansionist as was communism, with their ideology emanating out and influencing legislatures in every state around the country through various means. Ideologues in Texas, both individual and institutional, are inserting a "heroic" vision of the U.S. in school textbooks, fomenting doubt about climate change, pushing creationism and religion-based social engineering worldwide, and funding political campaigns throughout the fifty states. When George W. Bush was elected president, the Texas Doctrine even reigned supreme in the White House over the entire nation and through that, the world (with predictable results***).
Of course, much like the communists, their utopia is not going exactly to plan. First off, there's that a nasty drought going on, making entire towns shrivel and die for lack of water. This is not the fault of climate change in Texas, because climate change would disprove the ideology, and therefore must be reasoned away in a modern-day version of Lysenkoism. Instead of the atheist state, there is the pious state, where the chief executive prays for rain, rather than taking any direct governmental action. And boosters of the Texas idea always cite the state's supposed phenomenal economic growth and low jobless rate, without citing the myriad of burgeoning social maladies that are only headed in one direction - up. The child poverty, poor schools, homelessness, drug addiction, violence, desperation, lack of health care, etc. are all swept under the rug in favor of a celebration productivist expansionism, again much like the SU. Still, no amount of failure in the real world will discourage them from doubling down on their ideology, insisting that rather than failing, it simply didn't go far enough.
This absolute rejection of even the most common-sense adjustments to an age of scarcity like smart growth and public transportation are beginning to limn a future for the United States as it loses it's economic and political supremacy: a retreat into ideology and sheer and utter, absolute madness. America seems to be adjusting to a world of hard limits by collectively losing its mind. All of the darkest and most unfortunate elements of the American Id are emerging and coming to the fore as never before. The world can only stand by and watch, mouths agape, as the world's most powerful nation retreats into a quasi-medieval world where creationism is taught in public schools, abortion is illegal in all cases, homosexuality is criminalized, and sex-education is banned, with abstinence the only permitted means of contraception. Scientific conclusions like climate change and Peak Oil are denied, even in the face of record high temperatures, lingering droughts, increasing freak weather events and soaring gas prices. Public transportation projects are cancelled, even as road building continues unabated and car sales are subsidized. Unemployment festers and public debt rises while ever more tax cuts and benefits accrue to the one percent. The current rash of shootings seems to indicate we will take out our troubles by turning on each other, all too easy in a nation wash in guns with absolute freedom to use them with no restrictions (in fact, the recently debated "Castle Doctrine" practically enshrines an incentive to kill). This seemingly points to large areas of the country that will become dystopian war zones, with no checks on the powerful and any sort of cooperative behavior rejected in place of force and raw exercises of power. Texas is enshrining a war of all against all type scenario in their government. This cannot end well.
Sure they're a minority, but history has shown that it only takes a lunatic fringe gaining access to the levers of power to do an enormous amount of damage, even if the greater public is dragged along reluctantly. As the Nazis showed, once you gain power, people by nature want to associate with power and will adjust their thoughts and behavior accordingly. It's a sort of halo-effect of power - if an ideology attains power, the thinking goes, it therefore must be good. The bandwagon effect takes over and people go along to get along until the ideology implodes from its own self-contradictions. Then people will denounce it and say they never believed in it in the first place. Anyone who's read an online comment from one of these people knows that they are full of bile and hatred, impervious to reason and civil debate (or proper spelling), and full of a reliable and predictable cache of epithets and preferred enemies (Muslims, socialists, terrorists). Such people exist in every society, but they're coalescing as never before under one banner for the first time in the United States, and that's what's scary. Can we say that the Republican Party has completed its transformation into a very powerful, nationwide John Birch Society?
What was true for communism is equally true for the Texas Doctrine: a flight to extremism is always the last gasp of a failing ideology. This is because when the facts turn against you, you need to hijack the emotional brain. It's repeatedly been shown that people will predictably disbelieve what is before their own eyes if it conflicts with what they have been indoctrinated to believe. Their psyche is protecting them from cognitive dissonance.
A final shimmer of light: I've obviously focused on the bad here. Many places in America are pulling together and doing what's needed. I have and will continue to feature them on this blog as an example of what to do, and how not all Americans are as lunatic as the Texas Republicans. But their powerful and growing presence casts a dark shadow over the future.
* Western Europe can't win. The Russians and Chinese accused them of attempting to ram capitalism down their throats. Western Europe was part of NATO - the front line of defense in opposition to communist expansion. The Chinese were occupied by Western nations for a century, and the Opium war was one of history's most blatant attempts to exploit a population for mercantile gain. Now, according the U.S. Republicans, Western Europe is attempting to make us all into Communists. *Sigh.*
** Ron Paul fans excluded, of course. However, The success, or lack thereof, of Paul's presidential bid should indicate that his ideas are hardly the majority in the Republican party. And even Paul has expressed support for religion in public life.
*** Ironically, both attempted to rebuild Afghanistan on the basis of their respective ideologies. Both failed.