|Bobby Jindal: GOP
Should Stop Being
The Stupid Party
The 2012 Election: Results and Prospects
(first time as tragedy, second time as farce)
a cultural-historical, cognitive-developmental approach
meaning is to use as theory is to observation*
Hegel is to Kant as Vygotsky is to Piaget
tragedy is to farce as Hitler is to Trump
*Robert Brandom, Towards an Analytic Pragmatism, p. 5
Landscape with Cardinal, Passenger Pigeon and Enormous Cat Head
Map 1. 2012 Congressional Elections: Results
Map 2. 2012 Presidential Election, by county
Click here to see the New York Times interactive map
Click here to see House Vote 659 - Passes Fiscal Cliff Deal (Jan 1, 2013)
Click here for a set of reference maps and charts
Scores, 2003 - 2009:
21 Nations +U.S. New England + U.S. South + OECD average
source. PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do – Student
Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I)
The bottom red line is the Trump zone, Bobby Jindal's Stupid Party.
The two maps (2012 Election Results) show the geographical distribution of the electoral base of the Party referred to by Bobby Jindal as "The Stupid Party" (Huffington Post 11/13/2012). Jindal is Governor of Louisiana and incoming president of the Republican Governors Association, and thus might be said to speak with some authority.
Figure 1 is about more than test scores, even about more than education. Formal schooling is only one moment in the unfolding of cognitive development, and data such as appear in Figure 1 therefore reflect the various cultural historical forces that promote or retard development.* This complex systems approach is emphasized by Pasi Sahlberg, "A Model Lesson: Finland Shows Us What Equal Opportunity Looks Like" (American Educator, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2012):
Importing a specific aspect of Finland’s education system, whether it is curricula, teacher training, special education, or school leadership, is probably of little value to those aiming to improve their own education systems. The Finnish welfare system guarantees all children the safety, health, nutrition, and moral support that they need to learn well in school. One lesson from Finland is, therefore, that successful change and good educational performance often require improvements in social, employment, and economic sectors. As described by theoretical biologist Stuart Kauffman, separate elements of a complex system rarely function adequately in isolation from their original system in a new environment.
In the United States this approach has been rejected by political elites (of both parties), despite the fact that it represents the state of the art in educational theory and practice whose efficacy is indicated by Figure 1 (in this respect it is similar to the standard model of particle physics and the modern evolutionary synthesis). Instead, the shibboleths of provincial Protestantism dominate educational policy in the United States, helping to bring the United States to the sorry state revealed by Figure 1.
Figures 2 and 3 (birthers and evolution) together with map 1 and 2 (red and blue counties and congressional districts) and figure 1 (PISA math scores) provide a synoptic view the cultural praxis of the Stupid Party.
*Dewey, Vygotsky, Bronfenbrenner: counter-developmental forces, unmentioned in classical CHAT, now appear, in the U.S., to dominate K-12 education. These counter-developmental forces are: 1. desire; 2. war on modern thought/media, attack on teachers, anti-science; 3. poverty and polarization; OUTCOMES: a set of deformed subcultures
Figure 3. Public Acceptance of
Evolution, 2006: from "Why doesn't
America believe in evolution" by
Jeff Hecht, Science: August 20, 2006
Figure 2. percent who doubt Obama's
from the DailyKos, "Birthers are mostly
Republican and Southern," July 31, 2009
The Research 2000 findings were pulled
together from a survey of 2,400 adults.
Poll question: Do you believe that Barack
Obama was born in the United States of
America or not?
Choices: Yes No Not sure
No + Not Sure = variable graphed
No Child Left Behind: the Stupid Party Makes its Mark (continued)
Consider the implications of this excerpt from Richard E. Nisbett, Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count (W. W. Norton & Company, 2009), p. 197
The No Child Left Behind Act demands that the differences in academic acheivement between the classes and betweeen the races be erased in half a generation by the schools alone. This is absurd. It ignores the fact that class and race differences begin in early infancy and have as much to do with economic factors and neighborhood and cultural differences as with schools.Absurd . . . and yet the Stupid Party is allowed to set the parameters for any possible discourse on education. I propose overcoming this cognitive liability by shifting these discursive parameters. Instead of arguing with the Stupid Party over questions of education, women's rights, and guns, etc., this site is devoted to analyzing and contextualizing the discursive praxis of the Stupid Party. When confronting the discourse of the Stupid Party we should recognize that we are dealing with symptoms (e.g., the discourse on guns, trans-vaginal ultrasound), not modern cognitive processes. By taking the rhetorical maneuvers of the Stupid Party at face value (e.g., by making the mistake of responding to the right in their own terms rather than analyzing what they are saying and in what context the saying occurs)*, we degrade our own capacity for thought. Now that Bobby Jindal has spilled the beans, we can stop the special treatment of the GOP--the assumption not only of good faith but also of a certain level of cognitive competence in their discursive performances. That is, we overlook or merely mock what should be taken seriously as an object of analysis: the primitive and disease-laden discourse (see Fascism) of the Palins and Bachmans together with the responses of their audiences.
The map and the graph are juxtaposed for good reason. The forces undermining our development as a nation are many, and they are complexly interrelated. These forces have triumphed in a policy--No Child Left Behind--based on the substitution of simple-minded shibboleths for genuine educational theory. Ideologically, NCLB is an expression of free-market fundamentalism.** NCLB's hostility to modern pedagogical theory and practice is cut from the same cloth as climate change denial and creationism, and is part of the crusade against reason and science that has been a mainstay of the GOP rhetorical appeals for decades. This demonization of reason, which to a considerable degree has been institutionalized in the major media, is a major force in subverting the development of human capital in the United States. NCLB's refusal to consider the educational experience of Finland and other high-achieving nations should be taken as prima facie evidence that the main concern of our educational reformers is something other than educating America's children.
(Hint #1. It's about money. Hint #2. It is identical in purpose to G. W. Bush's attempt to privatize social security. Hint #3. When you hear the word "reform" think "predation" and scrutinize the financial not corporate backers of "reform" organizations such as Relay University, Democrats for Eductional Reform, and Students First.)
*"But as semiotics it remains of incalculable value: it reveals, to the informed man at least, the most precious realities of cultures and inner worlds which did no know enough to ‘understand’ themselves. Morality is merely sign-language, merely symptomatology." Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, p. 55 emphasis added.
**Michael W. Miles, The Odyssey of the American Right (Oxford University Press, 1980); Paul Krugman, Free-market Fundamentalism; John Quiggin, Five Zombie Economic Ideas That Refuse to Die.
"Stupid" is more of an epithet than it is a concept. Richard E. Nisbett, in Intelligence and How to Get It (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009), and Stephen J. Ceci, in On Intelligence: A Bioecological Treatise on Intellectual Development (Harvard University Press, 1996) provide an intellectual resource for addressing Jindal's concerns. This excerpt is from Ceci:
The term intelligence is often used synonymously with "IQ", "g", or "general intelligence", especially in some of the psychometric literature. . . however, the ability to engage in cognitively complex behaviors will be shown to be independent of IQ, g, or general intelligence . . . cognitive complexity will be seen to be the more general of the two notions and the one most theoretically important to keep in mind when referring to intelligent behavior. (Ceci, p. 22)
"The possibility that there exists a more restless relationship between intelligence and context, in which thinking changes both its nature and its course as one moves from one situation to another, is enough to cause shudders in some research quarters. It represents a move toward a psychology of situations . . . " (Ceci, p. xvi)
Intelligence used to be thought of as something genetic, given at birth, and unchanging. Now intelligence is thought of as a cultural historical achievement that is the result of developmental strategies, deliberate policy efforts undertaken by the state that include well-educated teachers, a secure and supportive environment, and a national (and family) culture that is pro-science. Finland exemplifies this approach.
Thus, cognitive performativity is not only an extremely variable developmental outcome, it is context-dependent as well.*
Nevertheless, Bobby Jindal has renamed his party the Stupid Party, and I will continue to use this term, but only as a proper noun. I will never refer to a specific remark as stupid (take your pick among the GOP primary contestants for tempting examples--a temptation that must be resisted). On the contrary, the specific cognitive performances of the GOP will analyzed through the deployment of the conceptual matrix indicated in xxx. Terms such as gestural, pre-operational, concrete operational, and formal operational, derived from the discursive field of developmental psychology; and projection, displacement, paranoid schizoid position, depressive position, and other concepts derived from the psychoanalytic discursive field will be deployed in order to understand the Stupid Party.
*Dynamic process methodology in the social and developmental sciences, Jaan Valsiner, Peter C.M. Molenaar, Maria C.D.P. Lyra, and Nandita Chaudhary, eds. (Springer, 2009):
Phenomena of nature, society, and the human psyche are context bound, constantly changing, and variable (from book description--see Amazon page).
from the backcover: "Reality is dynamic: filled with variables and constantly in flux. So are the physical, psychological, and social processes that make up our lives—so much so, assert the contributors to Dynamic Process Methodology in the Social and Developmental Sciences, that phenomena science often dismisses as "anecdotal" evidence are in fact the valuable record of highly individual dynamic systems."
See Jerome Kagan, The Human Spark: The Science of Human Development (Basic Books, 2013)
Stupid as the rhetorical performances of ressentiment and demonization
The immediate context for Jindal's characteriation of the GOP as the "stupid party was these two comments by Tod "legitimate rape" Akin, and Richard, "rape is God's will" Mourdock. For comic relief, click here: Legitimate Rape Song.
We have to infer the above, since Jindal provided no specifics, no examples of "stupid," thus opening the door to this enquiry. While it appears that Jindal is referring to the cultural-emotional hallmark of the far Right--the sado-sexual obsessions of the GOP and its demonization of the other (e.g., birtherism), he could also be referring to the cognitive dimension of the politics of ressentiment, which ranges from gestural to pre-operational (i.e., from homo erectus to the modern five year old child).
Was Jindal refering to the birthers? To the GOP's opposition to science (biology, the social sciences as they relate to education, and climate science)? Or did he mean the cognitively challenged performances of Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Mike Huckabee, Christine O'Donnell, Joe Miller, Tod "legitimate rape" Akin, Richard, "rape is God's will" Mourdock, and so many others? (See The Crackpot Caucus, New York Times, August 23, 2012)
Perhaps he was he referring to Rush Limbaugh's sado-sexual performances:
Rush Limbaugh - "It Makes Her A Slut, A Prostitute" Feb 29, 2012
"What does it say about the college co-ed Sandra Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She's having so much sex she can't afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We're the pimps."
On today's show (3-2-12), Limbaugh turned up the heat and suggested that women who use insurance-covered birth control should post sex tapes online: "So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch," he said.
Or to the GOP's Transvaginal Ultrasound Bill in Virginia, another case of the right's sado-sexual obsession. This event, taken together with the Akin and Mourdoch rape comments, and others like it, are discussed in the media in terms of insensitivity and political stupidity. Unconceptualized is the primary character of the GOP Right: its sado-sexual discursive practice.
One might wonder about the response to this of white women voters who support the GOP: how is it possible that this does not offend them? I have an answer, derived immanently from three encounters.
As a member of the Reagan administration in 1981, Atwater gave an anonymous interview to political scientist Alexander P. Lamis. Part of the interview was printed in Lamis's book The Two-Party South, then reprinted in Southern Politics in the 1990s with Atwater's name revealed. . . . Atwater talked about the Republican Southern Strategy and Ronald Reagan's version of it:
Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.
Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?
Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."
Exclusive: Lee Atwater's Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy
Gravely Ill, Atwater Offers Apology
Stuart Hall, Race: the floating signifier (video), and transcript
Lowndes (From the New Deal to the New Right) refers to the "foundational violence of modern Republicanism" (p. 2): "The fashioning of Wallace's antigovernment populism was a moment of founding violence for the modern Right . . . " (p. 78) (For the centrality of violence in the performatvity of the Right see Alex Jones vs Piers Morgan On Gun Control (CNN 1/7/2013).
Senator Lindsay Graham on why we need assault weapons:
“In 1992 you had the riots in Los Angeles,” Graham said. “I think it was the King event, but you could find yourself in this country in a lawless environment through a natural disaster or a riot. … And the story was about a place called Koreatown. There were marauding gangs going through the area, burning stores, looting and robbing … and raping.”NRA’s Wayne LaPierre, Lindsey Graham play the ‘racial scare’ card in gun control debate, the Grio, Joy-Ann Reid February 14, 2013
a 1960s encounter with two old irish women in a laundromat; an encounter with three white women at an anti-porno meeting in the Ferndale High School auditorium; and the reaction of white fundamentalists in the basement of their church to the bombing of bagdad in 2003.
1. I remember when in the '60s I lived on 107th street just off Amsterdam Avenue in a neighborhood once mainly irish but now (that is, then: 1960s) black, puerto rican, and dominican (the latter working class revolutionaries fleeing the repression in their own country) as well as a still numerous Irish remainder.* One day I went to the laundromat and was fortunate to overhear a conversation between two old irish biddies waxing wrothfully on the imagined sexual freedom of the female students (or should I say 'coeds?'). Ah! The bitterness! The ressentiment! In that moment I was wallowing in it, as were they--the acheive, the mastery of the thing! [Gerard Manle Hopkins] (To call it racism is to whitewash its overwhelming existential presence, to substitute a mere concept, a representation (see Deleuze) for its forceful unfolding in real time, for the way their rage filled the room (but I never felt threatened; I was honored to be accepted as a guest at their table so brimming over with ressentiment. Only later did I realize that Nietzsche was the emminence grise presiding at this feast.
*In fact, my building was all "white": elderly Irish dying off and being replaced by white students. A strategy, as was clearly stated to me, to keep i'm not sure how it was said but it clearly meant you know who ('nigger' ws problably said, but I can't be sure) out.
church student Fundamentaist church in RO response to bombing Bagdad
three women in ferndale anti-porno scene
Bridges of Madison County
Coetzee on Roth: the hunting seeason can commence-->Zimmerman
Santorum: Obama "A Snob" For Wanting Everyone To Go To College
The above examples are moments in the unfolding of the dialectic of elite-party-base relations. In this dance of politics far-right political leaders (both party hacks and super rich backers such as Koch brothers et. al.) utilize the cultural-psychological resources available to them. The Atwater interview to the right is as clear as clear can be. The available cultural-psycholgical resources are described by Levien (Anatomy of American Nationalism) below right. An updated equivalent of Atwater's deconstruction of the racist intent of the GOP is Hispanic group to GOP congressmen: Watch your language (The Hill, 01/28/13)
Sometimes rightwing political elites abandon their floating signifiers (second amendment, freedom) and express the signified directly: Lindsay Graham--->
Had these sado-sexual rhetorical maneuvers succeeded in the Presidential election of 2012, no doubt Jindal would have sung a different tune. Nevertheless, without intending to do so Jindal has raised the question of psycho-cultural and cognitive performativity in the public sphere (the semiosphere). In fact, from the Goldwater campaign of 1964 (see Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: the Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan) to the present, deployment of sado-sexual rhetoric has been the public posture of the GOP.
sado-sexual rhetorical practices that are deployed in the work of
mobilization do not necesarily provide a measure
of the cognitive competence of Right-wing demagogues--but they do
provide us with an "assessment" of the (situated) cognitive competence
of the base (this is done in Developmental
Divergence and American Politics: Cognitive Development in History).
The question posed by Jindal really involves the cultural and historial analysis of the rhetorical maneuvers and semiotic elements that constitute the GOP base-oriented game plan. These rhetorical materials, whose theaterical settings must be taken into account, must be analyzed in the context of two sets of texts:
One set (Wilbur Cash, The Mind of the South, Levien, Anatomy of American Nationalism (excerpt at the right), Paxton, Anatomy of Fascism (excerpt below), Walzer, Puritanism as a Revolutionary Ideology, Frank, What's the Matter With Kansas, Gibson, Warrior Dreams: Violence and Manhood in Post-Vietnam America, etc.) addresses the question of ressentiment. These and other texts are assembled and discussed in Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense.
Gibson's Warrior Dreams: Violence and Manhood in Post-Vietnam America, says much about the psychological sources of the politics of redemptive violence (the NRA and the Tea Party). There are many moments of stupidity in America politics, but the furor around gun regulation takes the cake. One has only to acknowledge the role of fantasy in everyday life--including fantasies of revenge. The gun is not a tool primarily utilitarian in nature. It is a prop in the theater of revenge, a symbol of manhood (see Gibson), and thus linked to the whole culture of violence, revenge, and righteous slaughter (Katz, Seductions of Crime). While discussions of the 2nd Amendment can be interesting, they completely miss the cultural historical forces behind the American love affair with recdemptive violence (Remember the 2008 GOP primary debates where torture--that is, sadism--was a key issue).
A few of these texts are assembled on this page. For more go to Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense and Developmental Divergence and American Politics: Cognitive Development in History.
Donald, "The mind considered from a historical perspective: human
phylogenesis and the possibility of continuing cognitive evolution." In
D. Johnson & C. Ermeling (Eds.) The
Future of the Cognitive
(Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 360-61
"mimetic representations are evident in human children before they acquire language competence. . . . They continue to be important in adults, taking the form of highly variable social customs, athletic skills, and group expressive patterns (such as mass demonstrations of aggression or rejection)."
from Merlin Donald, A Mind So Rare: The Evolution of Human Consciousness (W. W. Norton & Company, 2001)
. . . modern culture contains within it a trace of each of our previous stages of cognitive evolution. It still rests on the same old primate brain capacity for episodic or event knowledge. But it has three additional, uniquely human layers: a mimetic layer, an oral-linguistic layer, and an external-symbolic layer. The minds of individuals reflect these three ways of representing reality. (p. 262)
E. V. Debs
Philip Murray on "I think I am a man"
Ted Cruz Supporter Offers Truly Bizarre Take On His Canadian Birth…
“Well, as far as I’m concerned, Canada’s not really foreign soil. You know, that’s the way I look at it.” Look at the video (and listen) and observe the woman's chuckling as if she knows how silly she is being. A Piaget Primer _____ describes the pre-operational child's maner of discourse
childish facetious giggle, a shrug of the sholders; I actually realy am not as simple-minded as I now appear to be, so that's my laugh; know I'm being infantile, but, ha ha, ha ha (the expressive modality of performed white spremacy)
titter, chortle, giggle, snicker, smirk
|Kathleen Jamieson stumbles into the Heart of Darkness
This paragraph from a study of Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Establishment inadvertenly provides a glimpse into the heart of darkness:
from Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Joseph N. Cappella, Echo Chamber: Rush Limbaugh and the Conservative Media Estabisment (Oxford Univeristy Press, 2008), p.p. 188-89. (Emphasis added.)
Limbaugh's attempts at gender-based "humor" are of the locker room variety. As the California gubernatorial recall was heating up, Limbaugh informed his folowers that Leutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante--"whose name loosely translates into Spanish for 'large breasts'--leads the Terminator by a few pionts" (August 18, 2003). A photomontage on the Limbaugh website shows a photograph of Schwartzenegger's head and shoulders from his Pumping Iron days as a body builder. A naked woman has been transposed onto his shoulders. Over her breasts is a sign reading BUSTAMONTE. When Madonna endorsed General Wesley Clark, Limbaugh reported that she had "opened herself" to him. Why the vulgarity in this message does not alienate the churchgoing conservatives in his audiences a question for which we have no ready answer.
What Jamieson and Cappella don't understand, and can't face, even as they stumble into it, is the heart of darkness, the black hole, of civilization. Why the vulgarity in this message does not alienate the churchgoing conservatives in his audiences a question for which we have no ready answer. Really? But isn't the interest in Limbaugh predicated on his relationship to his mass audience? And thus, shouldn't the purpose of the study be to illuminate this relationship? Isn't it possible that the vulgarity and sadism of Limbaugh's rhetoric is the main event in this theater of ressentiment, while the "issues" are merely the occasion for the expression of emotionally appealing sexual inuendo and sadism? This is the stuff of Nietzsche's ressentiment.
Hypocricy is also brought to bear in comprehending this phenonomenon. How could these good Christians even tolerate such crude expressions, wheras in fact it is the self-righteousness and racial-clan arrogance
the Proto-Dorian Convention--the answer to Thomas Frank's question:
What's the Matter with Kansas
from Bruce Clayton, "No Ordinary History: W. J. Cash's The Mind of the South", in Charles W. Eagles, The Mind of the South: Fifty Years Later (University Press of Mississippi, 1992)
Cash offered a gripping argument that the elite had so drilled its superiority into the psyche of the common whites that they intricately and mysteriously connected themselves once and for all with their betters. Here was Cash's "proto-Dorian convention." Because of slavery, and the common white's psychological needs, color elevated the common white "to a position comparable to that, say, of the Doric kight of ancent Sparta," Cash wrote. The planters were admired and obeyed not because they were inherently good or capable, but because the lowly white saw in their masters--cotton patch Doric knights, in other words--examples of what they might become. This belief was a fantasy that coddled the ego of the common man and was thus integral to maintaining the proto-Dorian bond. When Helper,* Cash wrote, "and others began at last on the eve of the Civil War to point out the wrongs of the common white and to seek to arouse him to recogizing them, they could get no response." Why? Becuse "the common white, as a matter of course, gave eager credence and took pride in the legend of the aristocracy which is so valuable to the defense of the land. He went further, in fact, and, by an easy psychological process which is in evidence wherever men group themselves about captains, pretty completely assimilated their own ego to the latter's--felt his planter's new splendor as being in some fashion his own." (pp. 11-12)
from W. J. Cash, The Mind of the South (Alfred A. Knopf, 1941)
Yeoman and cracker turned to the planter, waited eagerly upon his signal as to what to think and do . . . because he was their obviously indicated captain in the great common cause. "The stupid and sequacious masses, the white victims of slavery . . . believe whatever the slaveholders tell them; and thus are cajoled into the notion that they are the freest, happiest, and most intelligent people in the world," wrote the bitter [Hinton Rowan] Helper, gazing in baffled anger at the scene. (69)
*Hinton Rowan Helper (December 27, 1829 – March 8, 1909) was a Southern US critic of slavery during the 1850s. In 1857, he published a book which he dedicated to the "nonslaveholding whites" of the South. The Impending Crisis of the South, written partly in North Carolina but published when the author was in the North, argued that slavery hurt the economic prospects of non-slaveholders, and was an impediment to the growth of the entire region of the South. Anger over his book due to the belief he was acting as an agent of the North attempting to split Southern Whites along class lines lead to Southern denunciations of 'Helperism'. (Wikipedia)Collective Violence: Comparison Between Youths and Chimpanzees