Modia Minotaur

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Mobilizing the Masses

It is very remiss of me not to have blogged for the past several days. I've been in the middle of changing jobs, I've been taking a few minutes to eat and sleep, I've been fighting for my rights at work (of which more from the 7:30 Report), but an item on Stoush.net about the Menzies Government's attempts to abolish the Communist Party reminded me of an interesting observation I had while watching SBS's fascinating documentary on Republican party tactician Karl Rove.

Rove has often been described as `the brain of George W. Bush'. What was clear from the documentary was that quite beyond this, Rove's ambition since youth has been to reshape the political complexion of the US, to the point of identifying a likely state (Texas) and a likely candidate within that state (George W. Bush) through which this change might best occur.

One observation particularly stood out. A political analyst noted that while George W. Bush is strongly religious, Rove struck him as a person who had no particular religious convictions, but had identified the strong potential of the religious right as a supporter base. `Rove saw these people as like the new labor unions', this analyst said.

What an interesting comment - and of course, he's absolutely right. Unions and churches share, in their support of particular political parties, a certain fundamentalism that make them very reliable supporters - ideologically, financially, and in the case of the Labor Party, structurally. This isn't to say that conservative churches don't support the US Republican party structurally - but at least there's some transparency. This is what makes the WorkChoices bill so alarming (apart from all the obvious reasons that it's alarming), and so plainly ideological, especially combined with lesser known but equally egregious attempts to undermine Labor's supporter base.

The difference, of course, with churches, is that there's an additional twist in the tale. If you can tell someone `God told you to vote in this way', and this person feverently believes they must do everything God tells them, they're damn well going to vote in this way, whether they deeply believe it's a good idea or not. To me, the collusion of political and religious fundamentalism is one of the most dangerous and disturbing emergent elements of modern politics. To Karl Rove, it's clearly the most tantalizing, because it works, and anything that works is going to gain currency with those who want to maintain power.

(As an aside: For those who have been asked `Hey, you know a lot about politics - what's up with this Scooter Libby/Karl Rove/Valerie Plame business, the best executive summary so far is available in The New Yorker)

6 Comments:

At 11:12 am, Anonymous Guy said...

Interesting analogy isn't it? I'd never really though of the churches as the "unions" of the Liberal Party before, but it's a credible way of looking at it.

Particularly interesting in the context of IR reform and the almost uniform opposition of religious bodies to the Howard Government's proposed changes.

 
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