The New York Times published last month an intriguing exploration by New School professor J. M. Bernstein of the philosophical underpinnings of the Tea Party movement. Does this analysis remind you of any other movement?:
Where do such anger and such passionate attachment to wildly fantastic beliefs come from?…
Tea Party anger is, at bottom, metaphysical, not political: what has been undone by the economic crisis is the belief that each individual is metaphysically self-sufficient, that one’s very standing and being as a rational agent owes nothing to other individuals or institutions. The opposing metaphysical claim, the one I take to be true, is that the very idea of the autonomous subject is an institution, an artifact created by the practices of modern life: the intimate family, the market economy, the liberal state.
…[H]uman subjectivity only emerges through intersubjective relations, and hence how practices of independence, of freedom and autonomy, are held in place and made possible by complementary structures of dependence….
All the rhetoric of self-sufficiency, all the grand talk of wanting to be left alone is just the hollow insistence of the bereft lover that she can and will survive without her beloved….
The Tea Party rhetoric of taking back the country is no accident: since they repudiate the conditions of dependency that have made their and our lives possible, they can only imagine freedom as a new beginning, starting from scratch.
The whole post is fascinating and, even if it’s overwrought, it’s worth reading at the level it was intended. But try reading it too as about a certain other movement.