We're so small, us humans: we use the only thing we have, our minds, to simplify the vastness around us; we think in order to fit the big everything out there into our little heads.
That's why something as rich and sprawling as language is wont to collapse into well-worn cliches. We can't think without banal summations, dumb generalizations, blind ideologies, the cutting down of the everything-around forest to a few simple stripped-down tree statements. "Jesus died for my sins." "The free market is the end of history." "Obama is a socialist." The very falseness of our thought constructs is what makes them useful; their effortlessly bogus effronteries allow us to continue on our not-so-merry way. It may be the reason why Zizek can review a movie without seeing it: he doesn't need the movie to interfere with what he thinks about it.
I've been trying to understand the Tea Party movement, and found it tough and confusing, a vexing bafflement. Tea Party people appear to have no core, no leader, no central anything to latch on to. No simple cliche to sum up the movement. Hence, impossible to think about or understand. Where's the Construct box to stuff them in? So I've invented a personal nutshell, which not only explains the Tea Party, but all American politics. Yep. I am here to verify, instruct, inform curiosity and carry report. Read on.
1. A USEFUL NUTSHELL ABOUT AMERICAN POLITICS
You see, calling the Tea Party phenomenon out as populist rage on the right is not enough for me. Nobody in all the articles I've read about the Tea Party people can tell me what they're for, only what they're against -- and they are against so many things, it's hard to tell who they are.
Their rage is one clue: it affirms that today's politics is driven by blind emotion. Not sweet reason.
Gone are the days of politics as compromise -- when political opponents Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill could sit down with cigars and Jameson's Irish Whisky and hash out a deal, and then exchange Irish stories afterwards. These days we're in Carl Schmitt territory. He defined politics as an existential battlefield: “Just as in the field of morals, the ultimate distinctions are good and evil; in esthetics, beautiful and ugly; in economics, profitable and unprofitable -- so the significantly political distinction is between friend and enemy."
Aha. There you go: politics is about having an enemy. I'll be damned. Nice nutshell, that. Much obliged, Carl. And while you're at it, blow me with a tea cosy.