The New Dickensian World View of the Far Right


Picture 3To understand the world the far, libertarian right wishes to inflict upon we the little people, one must understand Charles Dickens and his background. Because his father was deeply in debt, the entire family was thrown into debtors prison.

“…John Dickens was imprisoned in the Marshalsea debtors’ prison in Southwark London in 1824. Shortly afterwards, his wife and the youngest children joined him there, as was the practice at the time. Charles, then 12 years old, was boarded with Elizabeth Roylance, a family friend, in Camden Town. Roylance was “a reduced [impoverished] old lady, long known to our family”, whom Dickens later immortalised, “with a few alterations and embellishments”, as “Mrs. Pipchin”, in Dombey and Son. Later, he lived in a back-attic in the house of an agent for the Insolvent Court, Archibald Russell, “a fat, good-natured, kind old gentleman … with a quiet old wife” and lame son, in Lant Street in The Borough. They provided the inspiration for the Garlands in The Old Curiosity Shop.

On Sundays—with his sister Frances, free from her studies at the Royal Academy of Music—he spent the day at the Marshalsea. Dickens would later use the prison as a setting in Little Dorrit. To pay for his board and to help his family, Dickens was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days at Warren’s Blacking Warehouse, on Hungerford Stairs, near the present Charing Cross railway station, where he earned six shillings a week pasting labels on pots of boot blacking. The strenuous and often cruel working conditions made a lasting impression on Dickens and later influenced his fiction and essays, becoming the foundation of his interest in the reform of socio-economic and labour conditions, the rigours of which he believed were unfairly borne by the poor. He later wrote that he wondered “how I could have been so easily cast away at such an age”…”

Something very nasty has happened to the far right.  Instead of moving forward, they have evolved, back to a world more comfortable for them.  It is basically a Victorian world, where robber barons grow fat off the backs of their workers, and smoke huge cigars.  It is a world where, still, a child could be severely punished for stealing a loaf of bread.  It is a world where there are no unions, rules, regulations, and no requirement for a minimum wage.  Workers are so terrified of losing their jobs, that they don’t even take vacations, afraid they will return home to no job.

“…Dickens’s novels were, among other things, works of social commentary. He was a fierce critic of the poverty and social stratification of Victorian society. In a New York address, he expressed his belief that, “Virtue shows quite as well in rags and patches as she does in purple and fine linen”. Dickens’s second novel, Oliver Twist (1839), shocked readers with its images of poverty and crime: it destroyed middle class polemics about criminals, making any pretence to ignorance about what poverty entailed impossible….”

UK Daily Mail

“…At a time when Britain was the major economic and political power of the world, Dickens highlighted the life of the forgotten poor and disadvantaged within society. Through his journalism he campaigned on specific issues—such as sanitation and the workhouse—but his fiction probably demonstrated its greatest prowess in changing public opinion in regard to class inequalities. He often depicted the exploitation and oppression of the poor and condemned the public officials and institutions that not only allowed such abuses to exist, but flourished as a result. His most strident indictment of this condition is in Hard Times (1854), Dickens’s only novel-length treatment of the industrial working class. In this work, he uses both vitriol and satire to illustrate how this marginalised social stratum was termed “Hands” by the factory owners; that is, not really “people” but rather only appendages of the machines that they operated. His writings inspired others, in particular journalists and political figures, to address such problems of class oppression. For example, the prison scenes in The Pickwick Papers are claimed to have been influential in having the Fleet Prison shut down. Karl Marx asserted that Dickens …”issued to the world more political and social truths than have been uttered by all the professional politicians, publicists and moralists put together”. George Bernard Shaw even remarked that Great Expectations was more seditious than Marx’s own Das Kapital. The exceptional popularity of his novels, even those with socially oppositional themes (Bleak House, 1853; Little Dorrit, 1857; Our Mutual Friend, 1865) underscored not only his almost preternatural ability to create compelling storylines and unforgettable characters, but also ensured that the Victorian public confronted issues of social justice that had commonly been ignored. It has been argued that his technique of flooding his narratives with an ‘unruly superfluity of material’ that, in the gradual dénouement, yields up an unsuspected order, influenced the organisation of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species….”

Enlightened societies do not lash out and punish entire segments of the population because things do not go their way. Unfortunately it is becoming increasingly clear that the far right haters are far from enlightened. We’re dealing with a group of individual whose hatred of Barack Obama is so great and irrational that they would almost like to see the country destroyed, in order to punish those of us who voted for him.

Charles Dickens died in 1870.  Nearly twenty years later, Victorian society had become even more oppressive, the poor living in even worse conditions.  It took a series of horrific crimes to wake the “civilized” world up to what was happening in the slums of London.  If you don’t seen the analogy to modern day America, then go back and read today’s headlines.

Cal UC Davis

In this new, hate filled world, the far right minions even think that a dying man who is not in the US legally, should be allowed to die and not get a new kidney.  Or, how about a recent American Thinker piece by Daren Jonescu, against public education.  I gather the fools of the right are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history.  They’re so busy reading David Burton’s revised version of the world that they have become ignorant wretches. This piece by Jonescu is a prime example of the stupidity that is now the far right.

American Thinker

Do people like this even comprehend that all parents don’t have the luxury of being able to home school or take a direct roll in their community.  Evidently, Jonescu lives in this rose colored libertarian bubble in a world that even Frank Capra would not recognize.  He does not even begin to comprehend our world today.

When you live in a small town, try and let a “poor” parent step in and so something in their child’s school, and see what happens.  It is not pretty.

“...The truth is that most of the poor do work, and are getting poorer all the time. Far more people are working part-time, often at several jobs. It has become essential for almost all women to work, yet more and more women are driven out of their modest part-time jobs by the soaring costs of child care. The coalition government talks about unemployment as if it were a chosen way of life rather than the tragedy it is for so many families these days….”

What I don’t get is the fact that the far right thinks that they are on a mission from God. There is no other logical explanation for their self-righteous version of things as seen by Michael Medved in a recent column.

“...The left’s contempt for religious conservatives stems in part from the false assumption that people of faith place irrational reliance on the role of God in solving all the world’s problems. Occasional comments by Christian right-wingers—like the rightly derided suggestion that the Newtown massacre resulted from an absence of prayer in public schools—give some credence to this unflattering caricature.

But mainstream conservatism has never denied the importance of human effort or governmental leadership in addressing dire circumstances or everyday difficulties: after all, Republican heroes of history from Lincoln to Reagan have been powerful presidents, not merely passive and prayerful observers. Yes, most religious conservatives hope for divine favor for the land they love but simultaneously embrace the old saw, “God helps those who help themselves.”…”

The problem with the old phrase is it has NOTHING to do with anything Judeo-Christian. It comes from PAGAN Greece!

“...The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is a popular motto that emphasizes the importance of self-initiative. The phrase originated in ancient Greece, occurring in approximately equivalent form as the moral to one of Aesop’s Fables, Hercules and the Waggoner, and later in the great tragedy authors of ancient Greek drama. Although it has been commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the modern English wording appears earlier in Algernon Sidney’s work. The phrase is often mistaken for a Bible quote, but it appears nowhere in the Bible. Some Christians have criticized the expression as being contrary to the Bible’s message of God’s grace….”

In fact, Ben Franklin stole the phrase for Poor Richard’s Almanac.

“...The poet George Herbert published a collection of proverbs, Jacula Prudentum (1651), which included “Help thyself, and God will help thee.” But it was the English political theorist Algernon Sidney who originated the now familiar version, “God helps those who help themselves”, apparently the first exact rendering of the phrase. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, used it in his almanac in 1736 and has been widely quoted. As a deist, Franklin believed in God but that God did not intervene in earth’s affairs, so all responsibility was incumbent upon people….”

The phrase is so much a part of the American self-help, Puritanical lexicon that seventy-five percent of American teenagers think that it comes from the Bible!

“…The beliefs of Americans regarding this phrase and the Bible has been studied by Christian demographer and pollster George Barna of The Barna Group. To the statement “The Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves”; 53% of Americans agree strongly, 22% agree somewhat, 7% disagree somewhat, 14% disagree strongly, and 5% stated they don’t know. Of “born-again” Christians 68% agreed, and 81% of non “born-again” Christians agreed with the statement. In a February 2000 poll, 53% strongly agreed and 22% agreed somewhat that the Bible teaches the phrase. Of the 14 questions asked, this was the least biblical response, according to Barna. A poll in the late 1990s showed the majority (81%) believe the concept is taught by the Bible another stating 82%….”

It is even considered a Christian heresy!

“...the statement actually conflicts with the Bible’s view of God’s kindness towards people, none of whom deserve it – “grace”. It “suggests a spiritual self-reliance inconsistent with Christianity” according to David Kinnaman, vice president of the Barna Research Group Christian minister Erwin Lutzer argues there is some support for this saying in the Bible (2 Thessalonians 3:10, James 4:8), however much more often God helps those who cannot help themselves, which is what grace is about (Ephesians 2:4–5, Romans 4:4–5, Luke 18:9–14).[18] The statement is often given as an example of the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism…”

A history of the phrase is fascinating.

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin needed filler for Poor Richard’s Almanac, so he stole the phrase God helps those who help themselves from English political theorist Algernon Sidney, who stole it from George Herbert’s 1651 book Jacula Prudentum.  It should be noted that Algernon Sidney was executed for treason against Charles II of England in 1683.  A staunch anti-monarchist, who literally lost his head for his views, Sidney tremendously influenced political thought in Colonial America.

Sidney is considered one of the founding gods of the libertarian world.

“...Sidney had a significant impact on the American conception of liberty. He was a hero of John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, “the best-read and most widely regarded pamphleteers of prerevolutionary times,” whose “Cato’s Letters (after which the modern libertarian think tank the Cato Institute is named)” adopted Sidney’s argument that “free men always have the right to resist tyrannical government.” Thomas Jefferson believed Sidney and Locke to be the two primary sources for the Founding Fathers’ view of liberty….”

John Adams wrote:

“...I have lately undertaken to read Algernon Sidney on government. … As often as I have read it, and fumbled it over, it now excites fresh admiration [i.e., wonder] that this work has excited so little interest in the literary world. As splendid an edition of it as the art of printing can produce—as well for the intrinsic merit of the work, as for the proof it brings of the bitter sufferings of the advocates of liberty from that time to this, and to show the slow progress of moral, philosophical, and political illumination in the world—ought to be now published in America….”

The far “Christian” right is in love with the libertarian world view, which uses the life of Algernon Sidney as a model.

“…... a man of the most extraordinary courage, a steady man, even to obstinacy, sincere, but of a rough and boisterous temper, that could not bear contradiction, but would give foul language upon it. He seemed to be a Christian, but in a particular form of his own. He thought it was to be like a divine philosophy in the mind, but he was against all public worship, and every thing that looked like church. He was stiff to all republican principles, and such an enemy to every thing that looked like monarchy, that he set himself in a high opposition against Cromwell when he was made protector….”

Fast forward a couple of hundred years.  The GOP, now controlled by the Tea Parties, which are bought and paid for by the Koch Brothers, really doesn’t believe in charity. Even The Pink Flamingo’s very own Congressman, Steve Pearce, who voted for Katrina Relief, and very quickly sought emergency federal relief when 250 homes were lost here in Lincoln County last summer, voted against Sandy Aid.  The once august Charles Kruathammer called the relief bill a rape of the US Treasury.  Never mind the only thing relieved was the federally mandated replenishment of national flood insurance, screw the people who need help.

“…The idea that giving assistance to Americans in need is wrong permeates the Republican Party, and why Republicans are outraged when the policy hits home epitomizes hypocrisy.  Chris Christie, in fact, is as hypocritical as any Republican because in September 2012, he headlined a fundraising event for Representative Steve King because Christie desperately wanted Republicans to maintain their majority in the House; King famously refused to vote for federal relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina. King announced in October 2012 that he would not support aid for Sandy victims unless there were specific provisions so the funds were not used for “massage parlors and Gucci bags” like after Katrina.  After King was criticized for his extreme stance on disaster relief he said, “Sometimes you have to take lumps, but you have to do the right thing,” and in Republican circles, doing the right thing is telling victims of disasters and Republican economic malfeasance to “suck it up and be responsible.”…”

I guess that just about explains everything.  For some strange reason, the Brother’s Koch don’t approve of anyone but the ultra wealthy receiving any sort of government assistance.  Their idea of charity is a donation to the American Ballet Theater (not that there is anything wrong with that), but they really don’t like to get their manicured hands any near the unwashed masses.

I really don’t know what more we can expect of these people.  When one considers that Tony Perkins who is one of  the leading “Christian” conservative religious leaders, purchased his mailing list from David Duke, can we expect much more out of these people?

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The Pink Flamingo doesn’t see much difference between these lovely organizations and the John Birch Society, of whom the Koch family is well involved.

“...You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.

Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might.

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president.

Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.” That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today….

The other major sponsor of the Tea Party movement is Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, which, like Americans for Prosperity, is promoting events in Washington this weekend. Under its original name, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks received $12 million of its own from Koch family foundations. Using tax records, Mayer found that Koch-controlled foundations gave out $196 million from 1998 to 2008, much of it to conservative causes and institutions. That figure doesn’t include $50 million in Koch Industries lobbying and $4.8 million in campaign contributions by its political action committee, putting it first among energy company peers like Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Since tax law permits anonymous personal donations to nonprofit political groups, these figures may understate the case. The Kochs surely match the in-kind donations the Tea Party receives in free promotion 24/7 from Murdoch’s Fox News, where both Beck and Palin are on the payroll….

This is hardly true of the Kochs. When David Koch ran to the right of Reagan as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian ticket (it polled 1 percent), his campaign called for the abolition not just of Social Security, federal regulatory agencies and welfare but also of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and public schools — in other words, any government enterprise that would either inhibit his business profits or increase his taxes. He hasn’t changed. As Mayer details, Koch-supported lobbyists, foundations and political operatives are at the center of climate-science denial — a cause that forestalls threats to Koch Industries’ vast fossil fuel business. While Koch foundations donate to cancer hospitals like Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, Koch Industries has been lobbying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying another product important to its bottom line, formaldehyde, as a “known carcinogen” in humans (which it is)….

Yet inexorably the Koch agenda is morphing into the G.O.P. agenda, as articulated by current Republican members of Congress, including the putative next speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Tea Party Senate candidates like Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and the new kid on the block, Alaska’s anti-Medicaid, anti-unemployment insurance Palin protégé, Joe Miller. Their program opposes a federal deficit, but has no objection to running up trillions in red ink in tax cuts to corporations and the superrich; apologizes to corporate malefactors like BP and derides money put in escrow for oil spill victims as a “slush fund”; opposes the extension of unemployment benefits; and calls for a freeze on federal regulations in an era when abuses in the oil, financial, mining, pharmaceutical and even egg industries (among others) have been outrageous….”

Quite frankly, The Pink Flamingo doesn’t know how much more of this I can stomach. It’s all about making the world better for the Brothers’s Koch. They don’t give a damn about anyone or anything else.  They want a world that looks like the Whitechapel of Charles Dickens’ day.  Hungry people will work for less money.  It’s that simple.


4 thoughts on “The New Dickensian World View of the Far Right

  1. Not only dying illegals are denied kidney transplants. I have a neighbor, who has been on the transplant list for about four years now. She is only 56 years old. She was near the top of the list, but the rules changed. Now, kidneys go to younger people and older people are pushed further down the list regardless of how long they have been waiting. She has given up hope of ever getting a transplant ……..One of my representatives also voted against the Sandy relief bill. The democrats added all of their favorite earmarks to the bill. The bill was comprised of 85% of pork spending. What do fisheries in Alaska and buying expensive new cars for Homeland Security have to do with Sandy relief? Boehner should have sent the bill right back to the Senate for amendments….I hope people don’t really believe that all that money will go to the victims of the storm. I have been through all of that. Most of the money will go to the local governments to rebuild their infrastructure. Most of the victims will never see any of that money. This is what happened down here with FEMA. Only the people who had taken bankruptcy or had bad credit got the grants. Everyone else was expected to take out a low interest loan to rebuild. The payments were not cheap. For many people including myself it was not worth it. Nobody should get the idea that the government is going to do anything to help the victims for free. The only real help I got was from volunteers and Catholic Social Services.

  2. I forgot to mention that billions of dollars worth of Mobile Homes were allowed to deteriorate before they were used by people devastated by Katrina. People who did get trailers were exposed to dangerous levels of formaldehyde. Nobody profitted from taxpayers’ money used to buy trailers but the Corporate Campaign Contributors in the Mobile Home Industry. Insurance Companies who made about $10 billion in profits the year before refused to pay wind claims if the property was also damaged by flooding, letting FEMA pick up the tab. Another case of corporate welfare.

  3. In the meantime, they brainwash people into this myth of American self-reliance and the “sinfulness” of communitarian impulse — when one of our strengths has always been the ability of the little people to depend upon, to look out for one another. And if I was to pin one of the factors in why our societies are crumbling, it would be our loss of that impulse.

    The Lord does help those who help themselves — but that saying has always necessarily needed the addendum of “no man is an island” and “I am my brother’s keeper”. We help ourselves — it’s always been individual and communal in spirit at the same time (but that’s been forgotten completely). Time we started remembering~

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