In Dutch, this means to “call the beast by its true name.”

Absolutely brilliant series of postings at Glen Greenwald’s blog today about the cult of personality that seems to dominate what used to be the conservative wing of American politics.  I’ve long held that it is necessary to have conservatives – as long as they ACT like conservatives.  If you lower taxes, you must also shrink government spending. If you believe in the right of people to be free from government interference, you must also believe that the government should not be allowed to spy on its citizens.  And so forth.

Unfortunately, what we’ve got here (say this in the voice of the warden from Cool Hand Luke) is the worst of both worlds.  It is instructive to pay attention to the previous cults of personality, to see what parallels exist, because it is instructive (although comparing the purges of George Will and Arlen Specter to the Stalinist Great Purges of Trotskyites is a little strained … I think … )

Anyway, here’s a bit I found instructive.  We’ll be back “on message” with more about New Media and Old Journalism after this:

In thinking about your post of yesterday, I’ve come to the conclusion that what is going on with the Right is not a personality cult. It is, as Digby said, an authoritarian, party-based cult, which almost always features a personality cult as an adjunct.

Seen in this light, Harriet Miers is the “exception that proves the rule”. Bush is the head of the party, but he is not in absolute control of the party. Harriet Miers is a case of where Bush went against the will of party, and the party smacked him down.

As such, this is not mature Stalinism. It is more like the party under Khrushchev. He is the head of the party, but still answerable to the “politburo”. As the head of the party, he symbolises the party. So an attack on Bush is an attack on the party.

The word “Conservative” is used now in much the same way that “socialist” or “revolutionary” was used in the old USSR. Essentially, the word has lost any of its original meaning, and now becomes little more than a synonym for the party. I’m sure early soviets suffered the same kind of bemusement as modern conservatives when they were labelled as being “anti-socialist” or “counter-revolutionary” for criticizing the party, when their socialist beliefs hadn’t changed at all. Instead, the words had changed when they weren’t paying attention. Words do that, especially when the party controls the media of communication.

I’ve seen these kinds of doctrinaire infights before – mostly on the Left. It’s usually a precursor to some really fun (read: horrifying) descent into a schism between the “realists” and the “ideologues” … usually about the time that those who have two working neurons to rub together start to realize that the nitwits with the death-grip on the steering wheel have us all headed straight for Satan’s Jaws. Or an iceberg.

The ideologues will shoot their wad stirring up the sorta-true believers into stringing up the dissenters among them for a while, and this will keep everyone happy.  Until the rumblings get so bad that the sheep start to look around and notice that the ground is collapsing beneath their feet (hooves?).  Christ, it’s easy to start to beat metaphors to death.

There’s a great book called “Therapy Gone Mad” that delineates how this happens.  Maybe I’ll post an item about that – about how a cult eventually implodes – they way the French Revolution and The Terror imploded when M. St. Juste stood up to speak and suddenly found that his throat had constricted so that he could not utter a sound…

When the emperor’s nudity is exhibited … and people start to jeer … and the emperor looks around, suddenly afraid, and tries to frantically re-establish control … I’d like to think that that’s what is happening right now.  But it isn’t.  It’s going to take an economic/military meltdown for that to take place.  Sadly.