A Formless Society Of Tweets, Burps And People Named “The Situation” Ruled By Negative Implication

DeMint, Armey and the rump Movement et al. largely already won their initial objectives. Just by saying ‘boo!’ since August 2009.

From a shadow fallen so low none could foresee its rise again in 2008, the Movement now is a confidently self-organizing dominant voice in our rootless, meme-soaked apolitical consciousness. It’s a remarkable achievement. True, willfully inept enablers in the Obama Administration and on Capitol Hill played their vital part, flinching on cue, passively reacting. The rump Movement (still fragmented and at partial strength) governed this country increasingly by negative implication.

You, Dear Reader, know the Movement is apart and separate from Republicans. We’ve discussed this in depth for 5 or 6 years. Some like Chuck Todd are reporting this today, September 15th, as breaking news and insight. But at least he knows what the soup of the day is in the White House before the rest of us.

If Republicans take the House or more remotely, the Senate, ‘Republicans’ regain perks like Chairmanships, larger staff and subpoenas. The Movement’s notion of winning is not so pedestrian. Like all Movements from the Continent before, today the American subset is bent on acting out its narrative of grievances. That Narrative as always before is too expansive for mere institutional titles and rules.

Why ‘Renewal’, ‘Restoring’ And ‘Honor’ Are Dead End Slogans Of Movements Across Time

We’ve written at length here for years why ‘renewal’, ‘restoring’, ‘dignity’, ‘honor’ are all code words from the history of anti-liberal democratic Movements since 1789. And before that, the Counter Reformation. Each Movement repeats the same cant, often thinking themselves unique or different. This clarion call to a romanticized past is a sign of decadence, of course. But it’s a dead end because it shows the exhaustion of the central idea at the Movement’s core – it can not create something new and purposeful but clutches at past myth (betrayed and under siege) as a substitute.

This explains why once any Movement seizes power — and it is a seizure and celebrated as such rather than a mere electoral win — the narrative code in practice can only find expression by abolition, repeal, erasure and destroying. True whether the robes were purple and the language Latin, or the shirts Red or Brown. It can’t be otherwise. For one Narrative to win, all others must be extinguished. The Ur Script across time at the core is irrational nihilism.

Armey, DeMint et al. see this larger truth. Movement puppeteers can better exploit their growth vector playing the aggrieved, victimized outsider mythos. This is what DeMint means when he’d rather be in the minority than compromise. People outside the Movement don’t get what these words mean. He is NOT talking about pluralistic politics. DeMint is saying they are militant about maintaining the internal coherence of their self-organizing, self-identifying Narrative. They can’t compromise. If they do, it all falls apart. That’s their take away from the Warlord years.

Babbling Talking Heads and the Chattering Class continue to equate the Movement as just a militant portion of political pluralism like on the ‘Left’ [sic]. They don’t get its historical antecedents from the Continent. If one understands the Movement and its psyche, then one knows for them to compromise their Narrative is an existential act. That’s why the cable channel unconstrained by objective fact is central to it all.

Playing Badminton In The NFL

The Movement and News Corp together understand profoundly well they can govern without responsibility as a splinter minority without any formal institutional control. They set the parameters, the tone and often the subject of political discourse by sheer daunting (and Democratic flinching). The majority of this disintegrating, formless society of tweets, burps, and people named “The Situation” haplessly drift along. To maintain this government by negative implication, NewsCorp and the Movement must maintain their minority’s energy and periodically create public theater ala the Mall recently.

One possibly could argue that one solution might be to lock the Movement into institutional forms as one way to sap their frisson. Perhaps make them part of a House majority. What could blunt the ardor of their currently unfettered Narrative better than boring rules, votes and procedures. Didn’t Clinton show it’s possible to let the whole circus implode upon itself? It’s an experiment tried before in Europe by people confident that they could ‘manage’ the ignorant, uncouth know-nothings bringing them into government. They routinely failed. In many cases their disastrous miscalculations unleashed a Narrative bringing suffering and death to millions.

Clinton may be the exception that proves the rule. By any measure the current White House and so-called professional politicians in the Democratic Party are a particularly feeble crew. Obama can’t counterpunch. One must hope the levees hold. For *something* (undefined) better to come along.

What happens when “We suck less” is a difference with no meaning? A Democratic congressional majority and White House let a small minority and one cable tv station effectively govern the country by negative implication. 8 years of Bush didn’t wake them up. They’ve learned nothing from the 2009-2010 car wreck. What will Democrats need to understand they’re playing badminton in the NFL?


  1. Anon says

    Heh.. I’ll be glad if we don’t take the whole world with us.

    I was always more afraid of the nihilism sect than of the GW Bush junta. GW had to do some form of governing. Hence we are only having “Burlington coat factory”-gate now, post Bush. Makes my blood grow cold seeing GW “sucking less” than current GOP.

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Aldershot :
    The question is, can we end up on top?

    No. The best we can do is manage the inflection and trajectory now. Too much structurally has been wantonly squandered.

  3. Aldershot says

    “What happens when “We suck less” is a difference with no meaning? A Democratic congressional majority and White House let a small minority and one cable tv station effectively govern the country by negative implication. 8 years of Bush didn’t wake them up. They’ve learned nothing from the 2009-2010 car wreck. What will Democrats need to understand they’re playing badminton in the NFL? ”

    Doc, Movement or no Movement, Continental origins notwithstanding, isn’t the jig up? Obama’s in, and dialing up Afghanistan; all of Congress is on the take and embedded in the game. Even with control of both Houses the Dems couldn’t make Bush leave Iraq, and were shamed into passing bill after bill for troop support. Now the Dems have both Houses and a Dem prez, and we’re still in Iraq and Afghanistan. The status quo just works too well for everyone in power. Aren’t we just going to switch out Germany and Japan for Iraq and Afghanistan? The question is, can we end up on top?

  4. Dr Leo Strauss says

    @curious onlooker
    Curious, some readers after your comment recall this 9/2010 Movement post.


    Looking at it, we’re kind of surprised. For a Cliff Notes summation, it’s pretty good if we don’t mind saying so – don’t spare our blushes.

    The more nuanced and detailed posts and conversations examining that the Continental strands of anti-liberald democratic philosophy and how Americans unknowingly repeat them, likely are on the original STSOZ 1.0 site.

  5. DrLeoStrauss says


    To us the sight of Powell as a sought-after-interview on domestic politics in particular a sign that nothing was learned 2001-08. It’s also interesting to see the Talkng Head and Chattering Classes position themselves now to be persona very grata under the Movement Restoration. When the city gates are about to fall, how they scramble.

    We should celebrate the small things, at least. We will be spared Father Meacham’s preposterous preachings from his sanctimonious pedestal this go around. It’s also entertaining to think that the Bi-Pedal Shark, Tina Brown, might poach it all from a website.

  6. Comment says

    Contentless babble is coin of the realm – General Jello on MTP now sort of implies he was anti Wall St. bailout, but he was not not – He does this on pretty much every issue — no wonder the DC insiders love this guy.

  7. Tbilisi says

    I love/d that quote machine. Here’s one for it:

    Shape without form, shade without colour,
    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

  8. Comment says

    We predict that if O’Donnell wins – down the road there will be a falling out/rivalry bet. her and Palin. Palin is sure to be jealous as attention shifts away from her to someone like O’D. Nikki Hayley is different

  9. Comment says

    Leo – just went to stosz 1.0 and your old quote machine is going strong – ever time refresh is pressed, a new quote comes up – Lots of good quotes – some great Nixon ones.

  10. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Yup, some code gone astray during various engine upgrades or clumsiness. A new thing on to do list.

    Most of the more considered (but not all) posts laying out the philosophical and psychological dimensions of ‘movements’ in Western history likey are at STSOZ 1.0. By the time the site migrated to 2.0 the references – at least in imperfect memory – were already becoming adumbrated — or so it seems.

    Collecting some of the 1.0 and 2.0 efforts a good idea. Also now on to do list. Thanks for suggestions.
    Dr Leo Strauss recently posted..A Formless Society Of Tweets- Burps And People Named “The Situation” Ruled By Negative Implication

  11. curious onlooker says

    Dear Dr:

    For those of us joining you recently, perhaps you could provide a survey of links to notable posts of the past in which you have delineated the nefarious doings of the Movement? I often feel like I am missing some crucial background when I read your always provocative posts. Many thanks!

  12. Hunter says

    Have you seen this post over at archein?
    I notice he’s not on your blogroll, and probably should be.

    Anyway, it points out that world-historical changes are occurring in our productive infrastructure, and notes that adaptations by our politics really should follow soon (and your post adds a definite ‘or else’ to that message). Does this begin to point the way to the “*something* (undefined) better [we need] to come along”? If so, it’s clearly not the Democratic party that’s going to build the kind of new political economy that can deal with the (or really any) Movement. Given the ur-narrative, whatever is to come must be a positively built future world. The Dems are essentially conservative: they want to regain the Clintonian status quo, and preserve it into the future. This might work in the absence of a movement, but not now.

    The real question is this: as our society attempts to adapt to the new networked world, is there enough strength of spirit / intelligence / *whatever* left in the ‘citizenry’ to do the work that needs doing in terms of creating a new politics? The Tea Party sure seems like a bunch of angry know-nothings screaming “NO!” a lot. This is even less helpful than the Dems’ cowardice. Among the (many) changes that need to be made, some will likely have to be Constitutional. I recall a few weeks ago on this blog the idea of a Convention was pointed out to be an incredibly dangerous, stupid idea right now. Because we *don’t* trust the people. Because the only *actual* people (as opposed to party hacks of one variety or another) speaking out right now are the stupid, dangerous Tea Partiers.

    I want to say more, but I think I’ll save it for a future comment…

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