Thursday, October 28, 2010

Astroturfing

So, it turns out that the Koch brothers are the ones who own the Tea Party. And here, all along, I thought it might be Rupert. He, I guess, is only their devoted head cheerleader. An interesting recent take on the teabaggers is available through the Guardian – see The Tea Party movement: deluded and inspired by billionaires, by George Monbiot of the Guardian.


The central question for me, raised by his article, is why this fairly public knowledge has not been broadcast across America. It is not exactly a secret that the Koch’s and Rupert are the central supporters of the Tea Party—an “astroturf” organization as characterized by Mr. Monbiot—astroturf being the term of art to designate fake grassroots organizations. His article says, in part:

“The Tea Party movement is remarkable in two respects. It is one of the biggest exercises in false consciousness the world has seen – and the biggest Astroturf operation in history. These accomplishments are closely related.

An Astroturf campaign is a fake grassroots movement: it purports to be a spontaneous uprising of concerned citizens, but in reality it is founded and funded by elite interests. Some Astroturf campaigns have no grassroots component at all. Others catalyse and direct real mobilisations. The Tea Party belongs in the second category. It is mostly composed of passionate, well-meaning people who think they are fighting elite power, unaware that they have been organised by the very interests they believe they are confronting. We now have powerful evidence that the movement was established and has been guided with the help of money from billionaires and big business. Much of this money, as well as much of the strategy and staffing, were provided by two brothers who run what they call "the biggest company you've never heard of".

Charles and David Koch own 84% of Koch Industries, the second-largest private company in the United States. It runs oil refineries, coal suppliers, chemical plants and logging firms, and turns over roughly $100bn a year; the brothers are each worth $21bn. The company has had to pay tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements for oil and chemical spills and other industrial accidents. The Kochs want to pay less tax, keep more profits and be restrained by less regulation. Their challenge has been to persuade the people harmed by this agenda that it's good for them”.

So, knowing this, what gives? How can this group of people allow themselves to be led around as though they are a herd of sheep being led to the slaughterhouse (or to a nation controlled by the Koch’s). Two possibilities occur:

1. The teabaggers are actually that stupid, perhaps they really have been rendered stupid by religion; or

2. They are willing participants in this game of selling the nation to the highest bidder, perhaps because they believe they will be personally rewarded by the Koch’s and others of their ilk; which probably also suggest profound stupidity

It is inconceivable to me, though, that the Liberal establishment has not been broadcasting this relationship in every venue in which they have appeared. Are they that timid, or also that stupid?

Stay tuned to see what November 2nd brings us. We will know then what kind of nation we have become.
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