Friday, November 3, 2017

Elastic politics

Among the more effective strategies employed by the right in my lifetime is intransigence. Or it could also be described as moving the target. But I like best to think of it as elasticity.

Here's how it works:

One takes a strong, possibly even unhinged political position. Usually this is done preemptively at the point where reform you don't want seems necessary. Any right wing issue will do here, guns, opposing climate change action, but let's say taxes. The concentration of wealth is a crisis, so the position aggressively to be taken is that the rich are overtaxed in this country and it stifles and hurts the economy.

This is verifiably false, but one must keep in mind that arguing one's point is largely irrelevant here. Yes, one must say something to justify, but so long as it's crudely plausible and comes from a constant state of grievance, that's plenty for our purposes. The key and absolute thing is to not compromise. The strategy of elasticity relies upon never ceding any ground. On the contrary, what one always must do is step even further away from one's ideological opponent.

So let's say, and now I'm just making stuff up to illustrate, let's say that the top tax rate is 40%. And you are a rich Congressman who firmly pretends to believe that this is crippling to the economy and an enemy of freedom. So you propose it be reduced to a more sensible 30%. That's a good start. Now when the inevitable arguments against this come towards you it is not a point for discussion. It instead should be taken always as a hostile attack. In response you move even further into your position. Your opponents hate the rich even though they create all the jobs blah blah blah, and it is unfair that the rich pay far more taxes than other people when they etc. etc. and the top tax rate should simply be 25% for everyone.

You moved right. Now accuse the other side of refusing to compromise. Call for compromise. But don't you yourself move from your position, call for the other side to compromise. Now you have stretched the field of argument, making the midpoint which, perhaps, should have appropriately been somewhere between increasing effective taxes on the rich and the status quo of 40 percent, to instead being somewhere between 40 percent and 25 percent. Technically that would be 32.5 percent, but you are always shifting so that that is immediately unacceptable and the true fair tax rate should be more like 20 percent. You will never agree to anything. You just keep moving right. It does not matter how far.

Because the thing is you are not looking for legislation. You are not looking for a fix or solutions. You are looking to destroy peoples' spirits and change the frame of the world we operate under. If somehow you broke down people to the left of you so badly that the center ground became: "The rich, who contribute so much creatively and in purchasing and employing, should be exempt from taxes", you would never agree with these radical leftists, rather you would argue that money should be tithed to wealthy people who do the most for the economy with it. Taxes should not go to government, but rather directly to rich people who are more effective at filling society's needs than government ever could be.

There is no end game. There is only destabilization, moving the center, and infuriating and frustrating your opponents. The process is what's important. The legislation can come on its own and ever be claimed as not enough and no one listening to you.

I have been thinking of this approach. I would like to apply it to an issue of the left instead to see what it would be like. That's what we'll try tomorrow.

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