Derrick Jensen on Tea Party victories listen11/08/10 Kelly Benjamin
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The results of last week's mid-term elections have been described as a Tea Party "tidal wave" by pundits and Republican supporters. Yet, author, social critic, and environmental activist Derrick Jensen sees the rise of the movement as a predictable phenomenon that happens when capitalism comes up against it's ecological limits. WMNF's Kelly Benjamin spoke with Derrick Jensen on how scapegoating and fear came to dominate the national dialogue rather than deep analysis of the US's economic and environmental problems.
"So far as the current ascendancy of the right among some working class people, among a lot of working class people, I think that's pretty predictable too. In fact I've written about that in terms of exactly what happened in the 1920's and early 1930's and it's exactly what happened in Germany what led to the rise of Nazi Germany. It's a very, very big danger that when some groups of people have their privilege threatened they respond by turning to hatred of various out groups and that was exactly what happened in the 1920's, 1910's and 1920's with the rise of the KKK at that point.
"What I'm saying is the Tea Party is, in great measure, made up of people who are, because of ecological, in this case, because of draw down of ecological resources. I hate the word, because of the destruction of the natural world, capitalism is running up against it's natural limit and they are finding they're privilege threatened because of that. And when a group of people who have been previously privileged in one sense or another find that privilege threatened, they often times turn to scapegoating out groups.
"And so, instead of recognizing that one reason that the economy is tanking is because it has exceeded ecological limits, and we've passed peak oil, and so on, instead it's those, in their perspective, it's those damn illegal immigrants. Or it's because we've turned away from God, or it's because of, whatever, which is why, once again, why I keep stressing that we need to simply tell the truth and say that it has to do with ecological limits.
"So, I think that it's been, and the best part of it, another part of it has been, frankly, has been a very successful organizing campaign, going back to the 60's of working class people who vote against their own interests based on, so-called 'cultural ideas.' This was a conscious plan by the right wing starting, once again, in the 60's, 'how are we going to get working class people to vote against their interests'. Well, at the time a lot of them were Catholic and so the right wing chose to make a big, big, big, issue of abortion because that's how they could get the Catholic people working class members, at least, to vote against their economic interests. And, by the way I want to be really clear, I'm not suggesting that the Catholic working class people were, or are, Tea Party members. Or were, and/or are, racists. I'm simply saying that that was one tack that they chose at that time, and today the same sort of organizing, successful organizing is taking place.
"When you get people like the Koch brothers who have boatloads of money who use it to propagandize all sorts of scapegoating that will keep people from attending to the fact that the Koch brothers make their money through energy extraction."