Saturday, September 01, 2007

If It Feels Good, Suppress It: On Neo-Prohibitionism, Why Republicans Can't Be Openly Gay, And Such


There's a severely conflicted quality about right-wingers on the issue of pleasure. No one else is supposed to have any. Actually, they themselves aren't supposed to have any, either. But, they cheat. Then they feel guilty and beg God to forgive them. Then they do it again. And so on.

I'm not going into anything detailed here about Adorno's The Authoritarian Personality, although I think there's a connection. I don't have enough hours in psychology to expound upon that much-debated 1950 study, and it's been almost 30 years since I read it and wrote a required term paper.

I am going into general, personal observations -- everybody has those and something else. Right-wingers seem obsessed with sex and intoxicating substances -- obsessed with anything that will make you feel good temporarily. They don't want people to have free and open access to those things. And yet, they seem to have just as much trouble with that stuff as we left-leaning libertines do, and maybe more.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has brought this to wide attention lately, as did former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., a while back. An amusing memory comes to mind. A Republican lawyer ex-friend told me back in the early '90s that Republicans don't go into politics for the sex, because there isn't much action for them. If I were still on speaking terms with him, I'd like to reprise that discussion. And -- back then we were talking about the "hetero" action, a la Bill Clinton.

I grew up in a time of false hedonistic promise -- in the late '60s, the mantra was, "If it feels good, do it." Forty years later, I realize that a society ultimately can't function that way most of the time. Work must be done. Faith should be shown to life partners. It's better to be sober in many situations.

But, there are times when it seems like a bit of transient pleasure is the only reason to be alive.

Since the '60s, the overall society seems to have moved sharply the other way, toward broad repression of anything that feels good. The sanctions typically run against anything any individual likes, even on their own time and with their own money.

It has been the political right wing that has mostly led this neo-prohibitionist, neo-Puritan crusade. And yet, ironically, it's largely their Washington icons who are being caught with the Blackberry messages and playing footsie in the stalls.

I'm a diametrical opposite of these Republican reprobates. I have no secrets. Back in the old days, I inhaled, among other things. I drink alcohol and enjoy good cigars. But, I've been married to the same woman for 22 years, and before her there were just a few steady girlfriends with whom I very sorrowfully parted. I guess I'm ultimately too square to understand the urges that compel some among us.

But, this seems all the more reason to chill out and not judge. I very strongly disagree with Larry Craig's political views, but I am unconcerned about how he spends his spare time. He says he's not, nor has he ever been. But even if he is, that's the least of my worries. Hell, let him start the first Washington chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, if he wants.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.


Anonymous said...

>>>>>I realize that a society ultimately can't function that way most of the time. Work must be done.

I think the problem is, that Americans have their priorites wrong. They live to work. Whereas in Europe, the approach is more along the lines of "work to live." In Europe, the purpose of the economy is to serve the people. In the U.S., it's the other way around: people (at least working-class people) live to serve the economy. Most Americans I know wouldn't know the concept of leisure if it ran over them on the highway.

Manifesto Joe said...

It amuses me to think back on the futurists of the '60s and '70s predicting that we would all be working 25-hr. weeks by now. They obviously didn't understand or anticipate the American style of capitalism.

Anonymous said...

The game plan of the GOP (and their billionaire corporate paymasters) is divide and conquer. It's always been that way. Back in the 1800s, the robber barons pitted Poles against Irish and thus got them at each others' throats, instead of united against The Man and forming unions, etc.
Today, the GOP thugs pit gays against straights, blacks against whites, Red States against Blue States, etc. Get us all fighting against each other and as a result, we don't join forces and do general strikes. And while we're fighting each other, the GOP billionaire class is robbing the nation blind.

Manifesto Joe said...

A general strike sounds like a great idea. But how to get enough people to do it?