"Rally Mohawks, bring out your axes!
Tell King George, we'll pay no taxes…
On his foreign tea!"
~ Chant in the streets of Boston
on the night of the Boston tea party
Amid colorful signs and often in costume, the self identified tea baggers of today hold the celebratory energies of that revolutionary spirit. At a rally in New York City, Lou Dobbs, amid chants of "Throw the bums out" channels the same defiant zeal as those who once threw the tea overboard and marched in the streets of Boston. Exhorting the crowd to grasp their power in solidarity, he exclaims: "You are scaring the hell out of them." He tells them "You, my friends, are dangerous—and I love that about you." In translation, he is affirming that the ones in power (King George/Obama,) will not get our taxes for their foreign tea, be it a brew of tea leaves, health care reform or bank bail outs.
What distinguishes tea baggers from past right wing insurgencies, writes columnist Jacob Weisberg, is its “anarchist streak- its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent self expression; and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns.” Yes, and so it was with the 30 – 130 colonists who marched over to the docks thinly disguised as Mohawk Indians to cast out the tea; they too had no coherent program, they too showed their displeasure in belligerent self expression and they too had had enough of authority and rational discourse. In fact they came directly from a large gathering in which they learned that no resolution had been found for what to do about the disputed tea.
It’s not that supporters of the tea party do not have a coherent program but rather that they share a belief that the details can be worked out later.
One of the protesters at the New York rally notes he does not want to be considered scary, but rather someone who is here to fix things. He is 56 and has lived with chronic pain for 17 years from a fall while doing construction. From his perspective, he is barely getting by and blames the government in some way reminiscent of how the colonists must have felt at the hands of the British, powerless and frustrated. Resentment toward those that represent authority or power over them pervades the tea party movement. And this is where hauntology takes on added significance. Whenever there is a highly volatile mix of defiance and resentment, all the displaced ghosts of the past come rushing in.
Read Part IV of this five-part series: The Authoritarian Personality in Us All