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Rise of the right-whingers

Written By: - Date published: 9:59 pm, January 17th, 2011 - 37 comments
Categories: class war - Tags:

Say what you like about the old school right wingers they at least had the courage of their convictions and a bit of mettle. Your Roger Douglas’s and BRT types knew they were right because they had the money and the power and the strength. They’d have the argument about why they were right. Hell they welcomed opposition. And the last thing they’d want would be for someone to feel sorry for them.

Somewhere along the line though, those rich white males decided that they didn’t just want the power that comes with being rich and white and male but also needed grievance as well. Maybe it was because they realised they couldn’t win a rational argument or maybe they’ve just got lazy.

As Eyle Press puts it in the Nation:

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, authors like Dinesh D’Souza loved nothing more than to take the multicultural left to task for being overly sensitive to criticism and invoking victimhood to silence opponents. Such analysts had a point: sometimes, those who impulsively wrap themselves in the mantle of victimhood are trying to short-circuit debate or change the subject rather than engage the arguments of their critics.

Yet today, the deftest practitioners of the rhetoric of victimhood are not multiculturalists on college campuses. They are Republicans like Palin and talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who, after his quest to become part-owner of the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams was derailed back in 2009 because of inflammatory racial statements he’d made, portrayed himself as the victim of “race hustlers” and “Obama’s America.”

Fortunately this kind of rhetoric hasn’t made itself quite as mainstream in New Zealand as it has in the States but it’s likely to become more popular as it’s alive and well in the blogosphere and amongst right wing pundits (and some ACT and ex-ACT mps) such as David “OMG they’re taking away my light-bulbs it’s like living in Zimbabwe!!!” Farrar, or Mathew “Helen Clark would have suppressed the media in a fourth term!!!” Hooton or anyone involved with the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Hell even Don Brash has had a go at it and who could forget the crazy “attack on democracy” response to legislation that was *gasp* limiting people to only $120,000 worth of election advertising spend.

And, of course, we get it all the time around here when right wing trolls cry about being mistreated by the big bad lefties. Come to think of it it’s generally the ones quickest to smear their opponents who are the quickest to claim themselves victims. Must be some kind of psychological thing.

Most recently there have been attempts to use the language of grievance to stifle serious debate about Pike River including accusations that questioning John Key’s actions is tantamount to desecrating the memory of the 29 men who died in the mine. There’s also been draconian earthquake legislation passed without dissent because the government painted any opposition to its actions as opposition to the people of Christchurch and the other side of the house was too cowardly to call them on this scam.

So apart from the vaguely distasteful sight of privileged individuals having a whine about how hard they’ve got it and being taken seriously, the right’s use of victim rhetoric stifles debate and, with it, democracy.

As with most rhetoric simply pointing it out helps a great deal but the left also needs to take right-whingers to task about their crying. For some lefties this may be hard because they’ve grown up accustomed to take people’s grievances seriously. And fair enough too – the subjugation of individuals or groups based on race or gender or any other real oppression is something that should be taken seriously.

But when a powerful right-wing minority starts acting like they’re being oppressed because someone wants to tax their seven figure income a little or challenge their right to pollute or to anonymously use their wealth to influence the democratic process there’s no way they should be taken seriously, let alone deferred to.

37 comments on “Rise of the right-whingers ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    I saw an online presentation recently which said that the Right Wing has essentially co-opted the arguments developed by the Left around not being victimised, and having the freedoms to do as they please, and to practice not religion – but business – as they please.

    They use basic arguments that the Left developed to push for racial, religious and other behavioural freedoms. For people to be free from oppression, peer pressure and societal conformity.

    Now of course wealthy right wingers (and their badly paid overseers and enforcers) do exactly that – whine that they are having their freedoms taking away. That they should not be constrained in their activities or be asked to conform to standard community and behavioural norms. That they not be looked down upon, treated unfairly and envied (gag).

    Interesting huh.

  2. infused 2

    CV. You really need to stop hitting F5 on this site all day and go outside. It’s just an observation, but I see you reply to pretty much everything 8am-12pm.

  3. M 3

    So the RWNJs are feeling aggrieved that they can’t get away with murder, not without some resistance anyway.

    These fat, useless, white worms need to take some of the advice they dole out to the poor and dispossessed “Harden up, bitch!”

  4. tsmithfield 4

    I don’t believe in a victim mentality from anyone, right or left.

    The moment someone gets into a victim mentality they start believing things always happen to them rather than due to them. Therefore, people with a victim mentality who feel the world is against them due to bad experiences in life are likely to expect the world to make good things happen to them as well. When it doesn’t they end up with a chip on their shoulder.

    It is much more beneficial, rather than dwell on the uncontrollable aspects of ones life, to consider the aspects where individual choices have contributed to outcomes. Even where individual choices have led to negative outcomes, there are seeds of hope. This is because the individual is no longer viewing life as “happening to them”. The individual can begin to see that just as individual choices have contributed to negative outcomes, individual choices can also contribute to positive outcomes.

    Sitting around moping about the injustices of the world will only lead to hopelessness and developing a chip on the shoulder. Seeing how individual choices can make a differences is much more empowering.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      Therefore, people with a victim mentality who feel the world is against them due to bad experiences in life are likely to expect the world to make good things happen to them as well.

      Worked perfectly for the bankers.

      Countries about to go under, bankers back to sharing out their billion euro bonus pools.

      Sitting around moping about the injustices of the world will only lead to hopelessness and developing a chip on the shoulder. Seeing how individual choices can make a differences is much more empowering.

      Hey no doubt the bankers were very hard working and persuasive. They used their initiative to get the maximum hand outs that they could.

      As for the injustices of the world – you are right, we should not mope about them, we should get out there on the streets in the hundreds of thousands and change them. I like your proactive message mate.

    • Bob 4.2

      Is that like sending the missus or the kids 10 ks down the track to pick up and carry home some dodgy water ? Now THATS REALLY EMPOWERING , take your blingers off and see the real situation . But then to do that you have to leave your comfort zone .

      • tsmithfield 4.2.1

        “Is that like sending the missus or the kids 10 ks down the track to pick up and carry home some dodgy water ?”

        Probably not the optimal or most equitable option. But certainly a lot better than sitting around waiting for it to rain and moaning because its not.

        There are heaps of examples of people who have come from terrible circumstances, who had every right to play the victim, yet made positive choices that enabled them to get out of their circumstance and achieve far beyond what anyone thought possible.

        • tsmithfield 4.2.1.1

          BTW, here is a good example of someone with incredible difficulties and disadvantages who decided not to play the victim and get on with life instead.

          • Colonial Viper 4.2.1.1.1

            Or like Martin Luther King, who decided that he was going to get on with life and undermine systematic oppression while he was at it.

            People get on with their lives in the context of a larger society. And if that larger society needs to be changed to help out then lets get to work hammer and tong.

      • Rich 4.2.2

        Yeah, it’s a real struggle when you’ve got to drive all the way from Ngaio to go to Moore Wilsons for some decent mineral water. And then you get a parking ticket just for leaving the SUV half an hour on a dashed line. Fascism, I tell you, fascism!

    • Puddleglum 4.3

      I think this confuses two ‘positions’, TS.

      For the first person ‘position’ I completely agree with you. It is often only when a truly oppressed people/person come(s) to realise that they still have some power that they can exert to correct injustices that there is some chance of progressive change. I’ve linked to it before, but here’s mention of the shift in young people’s sense of their ‘locus of control‘ over many decades (towards an external locus of control). External locus of control beliefs are linked to depression (and, I think, aggression). Interestingly, it notes that individualism in our consumer society is partly responsible for this shift (not lefty-liberal ideology!). As they say (p. 310):

      Paradoxically, increases in individualism may lead to greater externality. Individualism promotes the use of the self-serving bias, which occurs when people attrib- ute good events to themselves and bad events to outside forces. A recent meta-analysis found that the self-serv- ing bias was significantly stronger in individuals with an external locus of control (Campbell & Sedikides, 1999).” [It’s a good read for this topic.]

      But, from the third person perspective (i.e., I see what is happening to someone else and notice the circumstances that led to it) the only moral way forward I can see is to:

      (a) encourage them to use what power they have and provide them with any resources I/we have to help them exercise that power;

      (b) agitate to ensure that the circumstances that reduced someone’s power over their own lives are altered so that it doesn’t happen to others.

      In short, personal responsibility can be a ‘good thing’ from the first person viewpoint but can be utterly heartless to demand from a third (or second) person viewpoint. It can even end up undermining the chances of someone having the capacity to exert control over their life.

      The trick is not to undermine someone’s ability and capacity to determine their own life while at the same time helping that control to be achieved.

      As the old maxim puts it: “From each according to his ability; to each according to his need.”

  5. Speaking Sense to Unions 5

    white skinheads are working class.

    middle class white liberals hog unveristy funding on maori issues.

    maybe reality is a bit complicated

  6. Jenny 6

    The Right’s claims of victimhood usually have some foundation of truth to them. This is why these ideas are often so powerful and their adherents so murderously fanatical, believing in their victimhood, that the crimes they commit in the name of the wrong that was done to them is justified and even necessary.

    The German Nazis infamously used the undeniable injustices in the treaty of Versailles as directed against Germany, as an excuse for the Holocaust and World War II.

    The Boers used the oppression and murder and racist internment visited on them by the British Empire as an excuse for apartheid.

    The Zionists invoke the Holocaust by the German nazis as a excuse for their racist subjugation and usurpation of the Palestinians.

    Wallowing in the role of victimhood after 9/11 America launched two hugely murderous wars, one against a country that could not even be vaguely linked to that crime and as a secular regime was an enemy of the 9/11 perpetrators as much as the US.

    The whole point of victimhood is as an excuse for the inexcusable, and as a justification for acts that are unjustifiable.

    Could the Nazis have got away with the Holocaust if they couldn’t have invoked Versaille?

    Could the Zionists have got away with the 1948 Nakba and the continuing oppression of the the Palestinians without invoking the Holocaust?

    Could Bush have got away with invading Iraq and even Afghanistan if he couldn’t have invoked 9/11?

    The real reasons for all these crimes against humanity is often not the one stated, but the one that will get the emotive response to allow you to commit them, while hiding the real reasons and motives..

  7. NX 7

    What a lovely post. I hope lots of people read it. Especially undecided voters.

    • orange whip? 7.1

      Yeah it’s pretty close to the bone for you isn’t it?

      • infused 7.1.1

        Personally I find it quite extreme. It’s quite an in-site in to how the left think. That’s what he probably means.

        • IrishBill 7.1.1.1

          The word is “insight”.

        • orange whip? 7.1.1.2

          Of course you find it extreme, infused. That’s because politically/ideologically you happen to be smack bang in the centre.

          Convenient, isn’t it?

  8. Pete 8

    And, of course, we get it all the time around here when right wing trolls cry about being mistreated by the big bad lefties. Come to think of it it’s generally the ones quickest to smear their opponents who are the quickest to claim themselves victims.

    I do see victimhood claimed often, especially amongst right whingers (maybe that’s because of where I mostly read and blog). But it’s hardly confined to the right. How often do lefties whinge about the media backing the other side? I see that as much from the left as from the right.

    Most blogs seem to present a significant whinge quotient. Maybe it’s just easier to notice when the other side do it.

    • Marty G 8.1

      “Most blogs seem to present a significant whinge quotient. ”

      the founders did consider naming the site ‘assorted stroppy lefties’ but The Standard had a better ring to it. 😉

      • Pete 8.1.1

        Opposition parties need to be wary of too much negativism, it can be perceived as a trademark.

        Beware the binge whinge cringe.

    • orange whip? 8.2

      How often do lefties whinge about the media backing the other side? I see that as much from the left as from the right.

      Me too, but there is a difference in the whinging:

      Lefties whinge about how the media is largely owned by corporations who have a natural self-interest in promoting right-wing ideology and that at an institutional level, in serving this self-interest, left-wing views tend to be marginalised.

      Righties otoh believe this to be the “natural order” and whinge when the paradigm is sidestepped and someone dares to publish/broadcast a voice to the left of Mussolini.

      • PG 8.2.1

        Righties whinge that, while most media are privately owned (but some significant ones are publuc), the journalists tend to be left biased. Ok, they say it a lot more strongly than that.

        Just about anyone who has been quoted in the media will understand that good reports seem balanced, negative reports seem biased against them. Funny.

        • orange whip? 8.2.1.1

          Precisely. Any journo who doesn’t toe the line 100% of the time is “left biased”.

          It’s this breaking of ranks that upsets the righties.

      • Olwyn 8.2.2

        Within the media, corporatism is for the most part presupposed; after all, journalists do have professional jobs, do have mortgages to pay and are no doubt reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them. At the same time, they tend to speak with an urban liberal voice, expressing shock and disapproval at offenses of the racist, sexist or similar kind. Because of the former, lefties think they show a right wing bias, because of the latter, righties think the opposite. In fact they end up framing the debate in terms with which the corporate mind is not uncomfortable, since both left and right wing sensibilities end up being reduced to opposing fashion statements. In the end they might just as well be discussing mods versus rockers, or indie versus mainstream, rather than opposing political positions.

  9. Bill 9

    Nice post Irish.

    I couldn’t possibly comment on why I’m suddenly remembering having to deal with toddlers who would from time to time insist, through screaming the house down and reducing themselves to a blubbering snottery mess, that the cup they were clutching was their cup while similtanaously getting all het up because they had no juice or the ‘wrong’ juice.

    Okay. I could comment.

    Firstly we have the ‘My brain hurts’ syndrome- which means (obviously) that some ‘bad person’, some ‘other’, is causing it to hurt and so they must be drowned out at all cost.

    Secondly, and not unconnected to the above, we have some ‘junkie’ sense of entitlement that screams victimisation when any perceived threat to whatever the fix is presents itself.

  10. prism 10

    IB You express what I have noticed in browsing the comments particularly on Pike River. Merely wondering if a certain possibility had been thoroughly checked out by experts brings all the RWN Uriah Heeps to the surface. For those of you who have never heard of this oily Dickens character, he was described as wringing his hands and offering mournful and unhepful comments.

    The right to have freedom of discussion, a fairly elected government and transparency of its spending, respect for all people and special consideration for those doing dangerous jobs for society are important to NZ’sm both Maori who were here from the earliest days, and to those who have travelled here since wanting a better life and political system. Those who want to touch their forelocks to wealthier people with the power and wish to weaken and wipe this, are the weaklings who would throw away the gains made by numerous, often unremembered sacrifices of activists for better human rights and conditions.

  11. The Baron 11

    Irish,

    What is the point of this post? I understand you hate everyone with a different political perspective to you, but you usually channel that into saying something productive. This is just a great big rant about how people from the right are all rich, white whiners (stereotype much?)

    The only thing of substance that I see is this:

    “But when a powerful right-wing minority starts acting like they’re being oppressed because someone wants to tax their seven figure income a little or challenge their right to pollute or to anonymously use their wealth to influence the democratic process there’s no way they should be taken seriously, let alone deferred to.”

    So are you worried that this is happening in NZ? If so, who is doing it, and to what end? And what, pray tell, would you do about it to stop it?

  12. Lew 12

    Bang on, Irishbill. The latest example of this phenomenon is Sarah Palin’s ‘blood libel’ canard; the delusion that, when all’s said and done, she was the real victim of the Tucson shootings. They can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

    L

  13. Ron 13

    We do have the phenomenon in our extreme Right.
    I have heard them arguing the government “has a gun to their head” over taxes, car registrations and human rights legislation. They definitely feel and express a victim attitude to being normal members of sosiety, constantly whining that their individual rights are being attacked.

  14. Drakula 14

    I’M NOT ONE TO GOSSIP BUT:-

    Did any of you hear the latest? An ex- banker from Switserland has blown the whistle to Wikileakes about some thousands of tax dodgers hording their ill gotten gains in the vaults of Swiss banks.

    Those poor millionaire tax dodgers are very scared and are complaining bitterley about how their right to privacy has been denied.

    All that money grafted on land, drugs, bribes, people smuggling and tax evasion will be opened in full view of the global public.

    Isn’t that terrible to all those billionaires, banksters, politicians that have thrived under the neo liberal zietgiest!!!!!!

    [lprent: Hard to see how this related to the post. Why don’t you put these revelations in OpenMike? ]

  15. DeepRed 15

    For lack of a better term it’s a subset of “anti-PC gone mad”.

    It seems the latest wave of whingers are sensing that their little empire is crumbling. The US Tea Party movement isn’t so much a show of muscle-flexing, but more a desperate squealfest akin to the old League of Empire Loyalists in Britain, who resisted the inevitable breakup of the British Empire.

    And to name just a few examples of Anti-PC Gone Mad:

    – the reactions to Fahrenheit 9/11 and the Dixie Chicks’ critique of Dubya
    – the English Defence League’s Birmingham Winterval disinformation (these fellas recently made nice with the Tea Party)
    – the reactions to WikiLeaks

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