I wrote a post a few years ago about a form of social reconstructionism that I recognized as a rebirth or perhaps, a reinvigoration, of the John Birch Society philosophy in American politics. I have noticed of late that others are making this connection as well. 

With the ascendancy of the confederate vaudevillians Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin as well as the Tea Party, Bircher political philosophy is being rediscovered.  Only, I’m certain that few of its new adherents have realized it has a name and is a 50’s cold war relic.  With scholars like Glenn Beck delivering lectures from his Fox TV lecture hall, the Tea Bag side is busily manufacturing consent by doing what preachers have done for a long time. By preaching that our society is in collapse and that the only way out of the impending disaster is to follow their recommendation.  This might be manifested as a more rigid adherence to teaching, or as has happened since the 1980’s, greater assertion of influence in political and social reconstruction. 

The Sky is Falling!!  -C. Little

There is a certain innate appeal to Bircher Philosophy that satisfies the inner fascist in all of us.  It is a manner of thought that feeds directly and almost unfiltered from the fear cortex of the brainstem. When uncertain, be afraid. No need for thoughtful analysis, just reject the unfamiliar. Distrust everything.  If it ain’t ‘Merican, then it ain’t no damned good. Study these principles devotionally, not analytically.

Bircher doctine serves as a political glove over the hand of protestant Christian evangelical fundamentalists who seek to de-secularize American culture, which includes government and the public arena.  They see our country as an errant Christian state taken off-track and into a condition of fallen righteousness by elitist liberal intellectuals bent on some kind of social buggery.  Listening to these folks, it would seem that they are engaged in a great battle between the forces of Heaven and the liberal leather-winged angels of darkness.  I think they have been watching too many Cecil B. DeMille movies.

Running a secular democratic state like the USA is hard to do. At least some citizens will demand an explanation for any given decision.  And they’ll want to argue. But a state run according to some religious conservative principles, well, that’s different.  Iron age justice is swift and harsh.  And how do the leaders know what to do? God came to them and expressed His conservative wishes. See, isn’t that so much easier? None of this ambiguity. It’s all so easy to understand.

I do agree with the conservative side in one way. The federal government is just too large and over reaching. But killing it while the citizens sleep is not the answer.  Neither is replacing it with market-style dynamics or reverting into a Confederate States of America.  The American experiment does not reduce to just a market phenomenon and was not kept running exclusively by righteous church-going people.  It does not reduce to a mere extension of the principles of the founding fathers either. It is all of that and much more.

It is the result of hundreds of millions of hard working, clever people who were born or naturalized into an enabled society without having to adopt narrow doctrines on how to think or without impermeable social strata. The American phenomenon is an artifact of the bell curve. It is the expression of a statistical distribution of individuals making a contribution to the betterment of our society by improving their own lot.  All citizens have the right to think as they please and we do not need conservative clowns to rally the dark side in all of us so that they can achieve their personal needs.