Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dave's Not Here

By Mrs. Robinson

For the four years Orcinus has been in existence, Dave's been known to take off for a week or three now and again. Always before, he'd just put out the "gone fishing" sign, lock the place up, and paddle off into the Pacific sunset, leaving an open thread and a six-pack on the porch for any friends who dropped by.

This time, for the first time, he's decided to leave the keys with a housesitter -- someone who can keep the conversation going while he's off communing with whales.

Hello: I'm Sara Robinson -- the notorious and ubiquitous Mrs. R -- and I'll be your blogger this month. Stick around and put your feet up. I'll do my best to keep the posts coming, the quality high, and the trollish horde from making a mess on Dave's rug.

In keeping with the dominant themes of this blog, which include the patterns and prognosis of far-right movements, I'd like to begin my tenure with a short series on John Dean's newest book. "Conservatives Without Conscience." Dean has been everywhere right, left, and center in recent weeks flogging the book, so I'm probably safe assuming most of you are well-acquainted with his basic arguments. What I'd like to do over the next week or so is delve a little deeper into the book's specific points -- the ones that never quite got covered on the book tour -- and then apply some of Dean's truly fascinating research to the various issues Dave addresses here at Orcinus, as well as some other stuff I've been involved with.

Often, the discussions here have taken a dark and daunting turn. It's been sobering to watch the shadow of proto-fascism creeping across the soul of the America we thought we knew. We find ourselves besieged by authoritarians everywhere we turn, in every possible flavor -- political, economic, cultural, religious, military, sexual, you name it, we've got it. Where on earth did these people come from? How did they amass such power? Why do we seem to be breeding so many of them? And -- most importantly -- how can you negotiate with people who live inside such tightly closed logic loops that they are impervious to fact, and regard any compromise as weakness?

These are the questions that make our heads hurt. While Dean's book offers potent answers the first three questions, it doesn't attempt to answer the fourth one. But between his analysis, plus Dave's astute observations of the behavior of right-wing extremists, plus my own long experiences with people recovering from fundamentalism, I think I'm seeing the outlines of at least a few possibilities that could change the dynamics of the situation going forward. These people may be a special kind of crazy -- but Dean's gift is in revealing the patterns and logic that underlie the craziness. Once we understand that, we just might finally find the tricks that will break the spell.

That's my hope, anyway. At the very least, we can maybe move the dialogue forward a bit, out of rage and despair and on toward more practical solutions. More on Friday: see you then.

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