Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What is Glenn Beck politically?

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We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them.”
Samuel Adams

In order to determine what Glenn Beck is politically, what his political values are, we need to first consider the following,  a taxonomy (ordering) of political values:

It’s clear that political values do not follow a straight line from left to right as Beck indicated on his May 3rd show, but rather they form a mandala or, more simply, a circle.  This is a modification of the same taxonomy presented by William Irwin Thompson, and it’s used with permission of the author.

I’m going to further use his May 3rd show to make points about where Beck is politically, but first I want to make some points about the taxonomy above first. The area at the top between conservative and liberals is where the country normally operates.  You can see that slightly liberal Sen. Lieberman is just to the left of the very top (Order) and Sen. Lindsey Graham is just to the right of the top.

At the most left tip of the mandala is President Obama, and across from him is President Reagan.  Both were charismatic and slightly outside of the mainstream, and both presidents brought out opposition in protests. For President Obama, this array of groups is represented by the Tea Party but also includes gun rights advocates, Libertarians and either the wealthy and connected or those who represent them, so called AstroTurf groups.

In Reagan’s presidency, the opposition protesters were nuclear freeze advocates, peace activists, socialists, labor activists (union members), ACORN,  anarchists, Marxists and other progressive activists (those who represented the poor and unconnected).  In Reagan’s time, everything those protesters wanted the Administration to do was ignored, and it’s likely that what the Tea Party wants will likely be ignored today (although if TEA = Taxed Enough Already, then they have the lowest tax rates in 50 years albeit not to their credit).  For Reagan, the protesters were wrong.  Ditto for Obama.

Where exactly one gets placed upon this mandala is based upon judgement about someone and the issue at hand.  For example Congressman Weiner is more progressive on health care reform than President Obama because he favored a single-payer, government run health care insurance plan. It’s likely that on education reform Weiner might be less progressive than the President, so his position on that mandala would be above, not below Obama’s.

Beck likes to roughly equate the Communists and the Nazis, but this is just one more point where he is wrong in his historical and political analysis.  They might both want larger, activist government, but what puts the Nazis on the right, the far, far right, is their racism.  Racism–even Mr. Beck can agree–is an immoral and unjustifiable mental framework of the past.  That’s why they are positioned near the KKK on the mandala.

Although not indicated on the mandala, progressives operate on the left. The further down the left side of the mandala you look, the more progressive actors are. On the right are the regressive actors, and again the further down the right side, the more regressive.

Radicals generally do not want to reform a system; they want to discard it and start over with something new and untried. We often hear of people being described as “radicals” who are not. Islamic terrorists fall into this group.  Nazis and anti-technologists are often called “radicals” or their views are deemed “radical.”  This is a misnomer.  Radicals aim to leap forward; those who aim to leap backward in time, back to outdated modes of thought, are called reactionaries.

Reactionaries do not like the current system any more than radicals, but they are less interested in discarding or destroying the system (of government, the economy and/or culture) as they are interested in returning to some condition of the past.  Thus, the further down the right side one moves down the mandala, the more regressive they are, the further back they want to push the system.  Reactionaries are nostalgic.

How far right?

This brings us to Glenn Beck.  He does not try to hide the fact that he wants to return to a perceived (by him), golden time when government didn’t interfere in our lives, when life was most free and people were generally happier than they are today.  When Beck talks about reforming America, he’s not being a conservative. He’s being a reactionary.

During his May 3rd show, he claimed that “You don’t fundamentally transform something you love,” referring to Obama’s claim before the election that he was going to “fundamentally transform America.”  Beck claimed that instead, he wants the “preservation and restoration” of something you love. Don’t we preserve what’s dead?  When we restore something, isn’t then used mostly if not exclusively for show like an antique care or old painting?

When Beck was strung out on cocaine and alcohol, someone, who loves him, fundamentally transformed him into sobriety to keep him out of jail or the ground, six feet under. Right now, America is addicted to oil as George Bush pointed out. In order to survive, we need to fundamentally transform the energy systems of the United States.  Putting a radical like Van Jones in the position to advise the President about green jobs makes sense to all but those who still have an inordinate fear of Communism.

Beck will never agree to this no matter what amount of evidence he is confronted with; that would go against everything he has made a handsome living on in the last year.

Beck wants us to believe that President Obama is a “radical.”  Mr. Beck, can you then agree that President was a reactionary?  Again, on May 3rd you placed Reagan to the right of the line you used to show the distinction between big government and small government and accurately claimed that “Ronald Reagan took us back.”  Beck conveniently forgot to mention that Reagan also tripled the debt and did cave in to one interest group to use the Federal Government to change our behavior and limit our freedom.  That interest group was MADD, Mothers Against Dunk Driving; and the freedom that Reagan curbed was our freedom to drive after a few drinks.

Why did Reagan act against his ideology?  It was a political decision to be sure; he didn’t want MADD fighting against his re-election.  It also made sense because it is not in the public interest to have drunk drivers on the road.

This is the crux of the argument to be made against reactionaries like Glenn Beck and libertarian Congressman Ron Paul.  There is only one structure, one organization that can effectively protect the public interest, the public in general; and that is government.  There is no one else, no other structure that can do that.

The argument, Mr. Beck, is not between big government and small government as you would have your viewers believe.  The debate is about how much do we protect the public.  What kind of balance is there between protecting the private interests (individual and corporate behavior) and protecting the public’s interest in clean air, clear water, atmospheric stability, park space, road safety, children’s safety and people’s safety when they get sick?

Progressives want a better balance between the public and the private interests; regressives want to tip that balance toward the corporations that put profit before people.  Mr. Beck, regressive reactionary, you can whine and cry and stomp your feet, but your side lost the last election.  Now is the time for change, change we can believe in, change that we need to move forward into a post-carbon energy fueled and thus sustainable economy whether you like it or not.

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racetoinfinity said...

Sorry, but I think you put Obama and Lieberman too far to the left. Obama has proven to be a corporatist, not a progressive man of the people, and Lieberman is an opportunist, with no firm principles, I believe, as I believe Beck is. In my opinion, Beck's only concern is with his bank account, and his method to enrich himself is suckering dumb reactionaries (yes, less developed, less evolved) by telling them what they want to hear (as incoherent and irrational as it may be) - I don't think he believes what he says - his tears are crocodile tears, "Lonesome Rhodes" - he's a fake, putting on an act, in my opinion.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

You may be right. I also think that Reagan is positioned too far to the right given the actual taxes he ended up raising. Professor Green, author of The Regressive Antidote, certainly agrees with you. My position is that Obama is a successful liberal. Be success I mean getting his agenda passed through Congress. Liberals are corporatists for the most part.

We have no disagreement about Glenn Beck. He is a charlatan, a liar and a hypocrite. The latter two failings he could do something about, but the only cure for being a fake pundit is to go to a university and become a real pundit with a real education. That's not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

I love how your fundamental basis for evaluating Beck's political philosophy is a completely subjective chart some random guy made up. I mean, you treat this chart as though it is the de facto standard of objectivity and then, with a straight face, you proceed to define Glenn based on it. It's completely laughable that you take yourself and your obsessive analyses of Beck any more serious than a fortune-cookie saying.

You are a joke. Stop wasting your life trying to tear down Glenn. I hope one day that you wake up to how completely and utterly wrong you are about him, and about the perilous direction our country is currently headed in.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Beck has a political philosophy? If you think this taxonomy is "random," then you are showing your utter lack of political education. So be it.

There IS a degree of subjectivity in deciding where to position Beck on this "chart." In foreign policy, he is a neo-con. In domestic policy, he wants to reverse 100 years of protections of the American people. That makes him a classic reactionary. With his violent rhetoric, he bumps his butt up against the bottom of the mandala where there is chaos and violence.

I am not wrong about Beck; I've never been as certain about someone as I've come to be about Beck. I'm still discovering his racist past, and I'm seeking confirmation about this.

Actually, the joke is on you and the rest of his willing tools. You are following a pied piper over the cliff and into yester-century. Yes, Glenn Beck is a reactionary and not a conservative by any stretch of your beliefs.

Anonymous said...

I find it incredibly humorous that otherwise intelligent folks feel the need to take it on themselves to persuade other otherwise intelligent folks that one single man is a liar and a fraud?

Here are a few questions you may like to answer:_

1. So what if Beck is not what he appears to be? Are you? Am I? Who actually cares?
2. What gives you the moral authority to denigrate anybody? Maybe Beck is as charged...maybe he isn't...but who are you that we should listen to you? It is clear that you have an agenda. It is clear that Beck has an agenda. What is the difference?
3. Have you ever really considered the meanings of the words you use. I am sure you have.....take the word progressive...a reasonable interpretation could be forward moving, new thinking, ones who make progress...the exact OPPOSITE of what the left does. And regressives...backward thinking, going backward etc....very clever...and almost as pathetic and laughable as your great leaders car driving analogy.

I remain mystified how so many people can think Obama is great...he and his stooges, including you, are simply pathetic. Great orator? Laughable!

Anonymous said...

The only people who could take this chart seriously are those who cannot think for themselves. Putting Nazis on the opposite end of order is ridiculous when you consider how orderly and efficient the slaughter of millions of Jews was. Trying to place anyone on this chart is a waste of time.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

1) So what if Beck is a fraud? So what if Beck actually has a history of racism? So what if people are following an ignorant charlatan? His followers should care but do not.

2) Who am I? Someone who knows a lot more about the subjects that Beck addresses than Beck does. This has nothing to do with moral authority and everything to do with exposing a master deceiver.

3) Your "understanding of "what the left does" is pathetic and twisted by the propagandists on the right. You don't seem to have a clue what progressives at Huffington, Crooks and Liars and other left blogs are conveying.

Beck wants to reverse 100 years of progress in government programs that protect the public. That IS backward thinking and going backward.

You obviously have not read where I have expressed criticism of President Obama on this blog, but that's OK. Your ignorance is very telling.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Anonymous, by your logic, categorizing is a waste of time.

Nazis are the opposite end of this order from Communists, but they are both near chaos. That is what you're referring to. Stalin, in the name of "order" killed millions of Russians. Hitler was marginally worse and more violent to be sure, but they do not belong on the same side of the chart. They belong, as they are positioned, near chaos (violence). The event in Greenville, NC years ago is exhibit A for this categorization.

Anonymous said...


I never said taxonomy was "random", I said the guy who threw together the chart that you hold up so high is a "random" person (i.e. unimportant and inconsequential). Reading comprehension for the win. The point is that your foundation for classifying Beck's political philosophy/worldview is utterly subjective and, therefore, worthless.

How about this: instead of trying to make up your own definitions (or use outdated/old definitions) for "conservative", "progressive", "reactionary", "revolutionary", etc., why don't you look up what those words actually mean TODAY and, together with Beck's words, see which political label he falls into. Hint: If you think he falls anywhere outside of the libertarian/conservative "area", you're doing it wrong.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Have you ever read a word by William Irwin Thompson? He was referred to me as a graduate student by the chair of my graduate committee, Edward Weisband. That in itself makes Thompson far more thatn "random," but I suspect that you'd have no direct experience with distinguished professors.

If you were reading the chart and text, you'd see that Libertarian is reactionary, and yes, that's why Beck belongs.

How about this? You read texts by Thompson and Weisband, and then we'll be on common ground. Using Beck as a source for anything only places on the quicksand of deceit and ignorance.

Anonymous said...

And I suspect you are one of the gobs of elitist hoity-toity liberals who were indoctrinated by their "distinguished" communist/socialist professors in college over the past 40 years. Oh wait...I don't suspect it, I know it from reading a bit of your site.

You say using Beck as a source for anything is foolish, but I would submit that attempting to build a persuasive and BELIEVABLE argument against Beck (to anyone that cares to have an open mind) by using sources like "News Hounds, Media Matters, PolitiFact and Liars and Crooks" is roughly the equivalent of asking hardcore anarchists what they think of structured government. To people outside of the extremely hard left, PolitiFact is the only source even worth mentioning.

You've been educated by, and now surround yourself with, a liberal echo chamber and now seriously think that you can fairly and convincingly expose Beck. I've got news for you: leftist Americans like you are a dime-a-dozen, especially in the media. Glenn provides overwhelming evidence in the form original audio, video and text to back up the vast majority of what he says, whereas people like you regurgitate the exact same attacks over and over again.

One thing surprises me though. It's apparent you consume quite a lot of Beck's material. If you really have an open mind when listening/watching him like you want your readers to have when they come to this site, how do you not see the error of your ways/thinking? If you are just referring to the out-of-context clips and commentary MM and MSNBC decides to spoon-feed to its sheeple, then I can understand. But if you are truly consuming to a good amount of his radio/TV/website material, I have a hard time believing that you could believe the stuff you say about him. Try having an open mind for a week while you listen to might open your eyes.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Anonymous, you are expressing ideas about my graduate experience that make huge assumptions, and they are wrong. Weisband was invited by Mondale to join his campaign as an advisor. So now you're going to tell me that Mondale was a socialist to further prove that you have no idea what you're talking about, right?

Sock puppet, you have me wrong. I subscribe to Politico and Media Research Center. I've also invited News Busters to scrutinize this blog for inaccuracies.

What Beck provides is usually video taken out of context. I've documented this. He Breitbarted Obama, but only two people noticed as far as I can tell.

So the consumers of MM and MSNBC are "sheeple" but the viewers of Fox Republican Propaganda are what? Well informed citizens? Puleeeze spare me the histrionics and obvious selective perception. How many news networks do you watch?

I have a hard time believing that anyone can believe anything Beck states when Beck systematically deceives his viewers (you).

I'm afraid that it's you who lacks an open mind. Some of Beck's followers admit that Beck plays loose and fast with at least some of the facts, but it takes a hard core Beckerhead to defend the mental illness Beck tries to claim is political analysis.

Have you even bothered to notice that I do take note when Beck gets something right?

Anonymous said...

1) What happened to you refraining from name calling? I guess that flies out the window when you're actually challenges on something. BTW, I never said I wouldn't name call, so don't try that angle.

2) And you've assumed much about my level of education as well. But, I don't have to make assumptions about your socialist roots and's all here!

3) It's disingenuous at best, and flat-out lying at worst, to admit Beck is a libertarian but not a conservative. If you actually decide to let his words seep into your brain, you would know he understands the need for a basic level of government to enforce and uphold what the Constitution sets up. He's a mixture of conservative and libertarian, and no amount of star charts or definition games is going to change that fact.

4) You might want to try rereading your own drivel of a site once in a while to see if you've contradicted yourself. You've admitted in the comments above that based on that silly chart Beck is a libertarian yet you say on the Contents page "A call to corporate scrutiny of Beck (he is no libertarian)". I'm sure there are plenty of other contradictions but I'll leave it as an exercise for you to scrub your own site, smart guy.

Anonymous said...

By the way, if you subscribe to those sites, why not say so? You might actually keep the one or two conservatives that visit this site a month from clicking "Close" immediately after seeing that you reference the likes of Media Matters.

Also, if you have indeed asked News Busters to scrutinize this site, I hope sincerely hope they do. I have no doubt they could easily rip your arguments apart. I spend five minutes reading one of your topics and little ol' me can see the gaping holes and half-truths in your statements, so no doubt NB would, ah, "enlighten" you a bit. I’m just too lazy to do it myself (aka I won’t get paid for it). I won't hold my breath though.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

1) "Beckerheads" are what Beck's ardent supporters are called. I haven't been challenged here yet. However, I won't call Beck names and fall into that trap. When one of his gullible followers wants to start with a Limbaugh word of disdain, then the door is opened.

2) Even though your assumptions are flat out wrong. You can read my bio; what IS your level of education. It doesn't seem political in any sense.

3) Case in point. Reactionaries, including Libertanians, are not conservative. I know Beck supports minimal government, so get off your high horse. What you're suggesting is that radicals are liberals (the flip side of your logic). That's not true either although many may have ideals that are shared with liberals; they are not reformers. Likewise, Beck has not interest in maintaining the status quo. Beck is not a conservative, a philosopher that he just yesterday referred to as people who "have lost their soul."

4) I do reread this and will actually work soon the improve the formatting issue of this editor. To your point, how often do you see me criticize Beck for contradictions? Hypocrisy pertains to Beck saying things that violate his own principles, but contradictions in logic are part of the human condition. To quote Emerson, "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds".

Guess my "scubbing" is settled, huh little man?

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Anonymous, why won't you use your name? Are you ashamed of your faulty logic and lack of contradictions?

Are you afraid that George Soros will hunt you down?

I can't control when a conservative is going to shut their minds and stop reading here. Adding News Busters to my blogroll won't change that, but that is a good idea. The issue of conservatives not trusting Media Matters is their ignorance. For my purpose, all media watchdogs are useful, but the ones on the right ignore conservatives and reactionaries as if they are beyond reproach. Media Matters this week has criticized the New York Times and WaPo.

Your laziness is not surprising to see acknowledged. BTW, The Glenn Beck Review is an unpaid hobby.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure it's not apparent to you, but you are just as closed-minded and deadlocked in your ideological thinking as you accuse me of being.

While I understand it's mostly an exercise in futility, I speak to and criticize you in generalities because, quite honestly, you and the material you present here isn't worth the time to refute. Like I said before, you're a dime-a-dozen educated socialist, and taking the time to debate you issue by issue would be grand waste of my time.

Maybe one day if/when America turns into the socialist utopia morons like you pine for, you'll realize what a hellhole that actually is and what an idiot you've been your entire adult life. Have fun screaming into the wind.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

You offer a hollow rationalization for being too lazy to address my claims.

Now you're calling my baseless names, so you think you've got my pegged on this mandala. Except you're wrong. I'm not a socialist. I have rejected Marxism on a number of grounds. I am not a collectivist, but it's clear that you are too closed minded to grasp this.

If there's a future "hellhole" that is America's future, it will be the hell scape of a planet to hot to sustain our civilization. It's well on its way in this direction, and pols who are in bed with corporate America - conservatives and liberals alike - who oppose the fundamental transformation of the energy system from fossil fuels to sustainable and renewable energy sources, are the "morons" and "idiot" protectors of the vested interests.

When you actually have something constructive to offer, you are welcome to make more comments. So long as you continue to call names, you demonstrate the intellectual gullibility that Beck's followers exhibit.

I'm relieved to read that you think this is a waste of your time; because responding to supports of Beck like yourself is a waste of mine.

I have had interactions with some who acknowledge that Beck plays loose and fast with the facts; but the really gullible and anxious followers swallow Beck's deceit hook, line and sinker.


The big man said...

You need to spend more time reading the constitution and less time obsessing over Glenn Beck. Get a life dude. At least a girl friend. It is not you or your friends job to determine how big government needs to be. the job of government is to follow the constitution has chosen. This group in Washington just choses to ignore the constitution becasue they are smarter then everyone.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Big man, you have a small mind. First, you make false assumptions. I am married. Second, I have read the Constitution. Tell me how the Constitution is being ignored. I know, that's one of Beck's favorite memes, but it's bullshit! We have a very conservative SCOTUS in place that will protect our Constitution. Mandates in the comprehensive health care bill may go by the wayside in front of the bench, or maybe not.

Actually, it is up to the voters, my friends and yours, to decide how government is to protect people, or you your case, ignore the problems we have.

Anonymous said...

Dang... You really seem to have your hands full with these DittoHeads.

It's amazing how Junior opened the door for some folks proud arrogant ignorance and vapid circuitous logic. Personally I'm pretty tired of the ignorant low-information loudmouths.

In one of your "fans" cases... "Cowardly" is obviously another parameter.


“Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
~Stephen Colbert

Unknown said...

"You need to spend more time reading the constitution and less time obsessing over Glenn Beck. Get a life dude. At least a girl friend. It is not you or your friends job to determine how big government needs to be. the job of government is to follow the constitution has chosen. This group in Washington just choses to ignore the constitution becasue they are smarter then everyone."

Implying that liberals are stupid, deceitful, and/or arrogant may feel good as it comes out, but it doesn't prove anything. You think Victor is wrong? You think his entire blog is a fantasy of liberal propaganda? Then freaking prove it! Or at least show up with some facts, for crying out loud! You and your right-wing cohorts put NOTHING on the table and declare yourselves the victors. In a debate society, you would be laughed out of the room. In true deliberations between elected representatives, the kind that happen between Boehner and Pelosi every day the House is in session, you would be a speedbump, with even your allies doing end-arounds to cut you out of the loop.

If you want to convince people of your rightness, you have to do better than platitudes, false equivalencies, and anger - you have to be convincing, and back up your assertions with facts. I know anger sometimes feels like it's enough, and with children it often is. But the people you're talking to are adults and expect you to bring adult conversation to a real debate. If you can't act like an adult, you have no business engaging in politics. Period.

Jorgon Gorgon said...

Blecch. INvolving things like "order" and "chaos" in political analysis is plain silly, and belongs in AD&D. A better schema would be that of economic/social liberal/conservative. I recommend taht one and wonder where Beck would fall on it.

That said, i wholly endorse your cause: Beck's idiocies and lies are more than just annoying, but positively dangeours to this democratic republic.

The Glenn Beck Review said...

Jorgon, my graduate advisor, Prof. Weisband, recommended Thompson's work for me to read. I cannot adequately convey how brilliant Weisband is, so you're going to have to take my word for it when I argue that if this mandala made sense to him, then it is anything but "plain sill."

Order is Congress and peaceful debate.

Chaos is the radical and the reactionary forces at work this week in Libya.

I'm open to better schemas, but this is the best I've seen to describe the four basic value orientations. Beck doesn't fall in a liberal/conservative range; he is an extremist and proudly so. He is a reactionary in the extreme. He personifies reactionary politics: liar, blowhard, hypocrite and advocate for pre-welfare political economy.