The HCR debate has highlighted some real faultlines in American society, politics, and everything, and one of the murkiest faultlines is that between Incrementalism and Bold (sometimes called Revolutionary) Action.
(This oddly mirrors the cleavage between Uniformitarians and Catastrophists in Geology and Planetology back in the day, and we should return to that as a potential model for resolution anon.)
All through the Bush years, Incrementalism was touted on the so-called Progressive Internets as the Only Appropriate Response to Bushevik Radicalism. The very fact that the Busheviks were Radical and (counter)Revolutionary, especially in their foreign policies and their overthrow of the remnants of Constitutional law and so forth, was frequently denied or obscured by prominent Lefty bloggers (I'm looking at a very insouciant picture of Glenn as I write this) so as not to stir up the masses too much about what was going on. Or one supposes the rationale behind the Incrementalist fervor during the Bush years was simple self-protection.
After all, the Stasi was watching, and at any time, so the thinking went, the round ups could begin, starting with anyone and everyone spouting off against the Regime and calling for Revolution Now! There was one incident over at Glenn's that highlighted what THAT was about when Mona freaked over something I said: "Who should be first against the wall when the Revolution comes?"
O. M. G. You'd think the Marxist Cell that is the Greenwaldian patch of the Internets had been discovered. I'd used the quote before (it's from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, c. 1972, and it has a long history in geeky comic lit. The quote from Hitchhiker's Guide runs as follows:
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who'll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes," with a footnote to the effect that the editors would welcome applications from anyone interested in taking over the post of robotics correspondent.
Curiously enough, an edition of the Encyclopaedia Galactica that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation as "a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came."
And this has been making the rounds for decades. Yet both times I used the quote/idea in postings on the internets the proprietors and/or their agents (I've always considered Mona to be Glenn's lawyer -- of course she'd deny it!) have gone ape shit in fear that someone would break down their door at midnight and drag them and their family away to the Konzentrationslager forthwith.
For advocating "Revolution."
Honestly. The mind boggles.
When I explained it as patiently as I could to Mona (who claimed to be familiar with Hitchhiker's Guide, but then she lies), she still didn't get it and was convinced that certain key-words (Revolution, anyone?) would trigger NSA surveillance and shut-down of websites, in this case Glenn's. What was really curious about it to me was that none of these lawyer-types -- including Glenn -- was willing to risk that kind of trouble or oppose the imposition of the National Surveillance State despite their big shows of chest-beating and knuckledragging for blogospheric consumption. When I pointed out that the NSA surveillers were probably laughing their heads off at the stupidity of this exchange and noting well the utter failure of the lawyer-types to stand by the Freedoms they claim are so Important. No, instead, they eagerly serve the State Security and Surveillance Aparat. Ohhhh. Might be a clue there. Well.
At any rate, let's get back to my point, the cleavage between Internet Incrementalists and (What You Call Your) "Revolutionaries."
Nearly all the prominent so-called Progressive bloggers advocate Incrementalism as the only appropriate way to make and hold lasting political or any other change. You do it step-by-baby-step, slowly, bit-by-bit, over however long it takes, and you do not engage in or advocate sudden upheaval revolt or revolution of any kind. It's essentially a moral imperative.
Well. That is until there's Democratic control of Government.
All of a sudden, we have a thoroughgoing incrementalist regime in office, acting incrementally to mitigate the worst abuses of the Bushevik Regime just past, and Internet Progressives are not just dissatisfied, they're openly calling for Revolt -- if not outright Revolution. (Jane has surged to the fore on this front, my goodness she likes the attention almost as much as Holy Joe.)
My goodness. How did that happen?
Such a sudden transformation. Well, certain things are clear: they were literally terrified of crossing unstated boundaries in The Debate during the Bush years. They are fearless now. Apparently they believed there was a Real Threat from the Busheviks to round them all up -- if they said or did anything the State Security Aparat found the least bit threatening to the Program. So they worked overtime not to threaten in any way the Powers That Be, so as to -- one supposes -- preserve their Freedom of Expression. Without, obviously, understanding that their self-censorship put the lie to the whole "Freedom" enterprise.
Now that they believe there is no perceived threat from the State, under the Incrementalist and Mitigationist regime of Obama, they're free to say and advocate whatever they want, including Revolt and Revolution. And so they do. Over something that they fear will impact their pocketbooks negatively -- Health Care Reform legislation.
As one, they cry: "We won't Pay! You can't Make us!"
And Jane, for one, is busy cobbling together Progressive/Teabagger alliances, going on FOX and otherwise sticking hot pokers into the bloated Establishment. Not just shouting from the rooftops but manning the barricades and gathering pitchforks and torches. What a transformation.
When the issue is the pocketbook. And the State Security Apparat is perceived to be weakened.
Good to know.
So all you would-be Revolutionaries out there, strike when the Iron is Hot, bring down the oppressor when the State is weak and Incrementalism reigns on high.
Well, but here's the other thing. This HCR debate -- especially lately -- has brought out the Libertarian troops like I don't think we've seen since the Ron Paul Confederation and Delayed Uprising. They are Everywhere, declaring their fealty to Jane or whomever the Leader of the Moment will be, their adamant opposition to Authority and Convention (only applicable when the Stasi is on hiatus) and so on. It's quite a sight. "We won't Pay! You can't Make us!"
Of course, being Libertarians, they're actually not going to do anything -- except argue themselves to exhaustion, then turn on their putative Revolutionary Leader, whoever it winds up to be, and go back to hibernating or masquerading as Progressives until next they are aroused.
That's what Libertarians DO.
Nevertheless, the current state of Blogospheric hoo-hah does clarify just how deeply interwoven Libertarianism and Libertarians are in the whole so-called Progressive blog matrix. As I say, they are everywhere, asserting wildly and making furious demands, threatening and calling for revolt, resistance, and on the margins Revolution -- because they believe their Sacred Pocketbooks are threatened by Health Care Reform.
And they won't have it.
Of course what's happening in the Real World is that the Obama regime is pushing that rock up the hill, step-by-baby-step, just as the the progressives on the net said had to be done for any lasting change to occur, and as flawed and faulty as the whole process is, it is oddly working. Mitigations are occurring. Very gradual Change is taking place. International relations are improving.
And so-called Progressives in the Blogosphere hate it. If they don't, they're obviously paid operatives of the Devil, Rahm Emanuel.
(Note to Rahm: I prefer payment in Gold Bullion. Thanks. You're a mensch.)