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The Big Answer

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Newt vs. the '60s

an article by Eric Alterman

(our site's article review)

Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich

The 60s were a critical time of questioning of authoritarianism, which was long overdue. Philip Slater and Rianne Eisler are among dozens of brilliant authors who see authoritarianism as the main negative force in the world. As the Tofflers say, the fundamental reliance on force (low-quality power) characterizing the Second Wave’s brand of power was not about to be the appropriate type for the Third Wave—if we are to survive as a species. Third Wave, highest quality power—knowledge—must be the basis of power now, and authoritarianism/force/threat from the old, mechanistic-reductionistic paradigm worldview simply is anachronistic as the main power source. The Third Wave began in the 50s, so when the 60s manifested the discomfort and awkwardness of adjusting to the arriving new civilization, the old guard forces of the Second Wave blindly reacted.

Newt was both a rebel wanting revolution and a conservative bitching about the 60s rebels
Newt was both a rebel wanting revolution and a conservative bitching about the 60s rebels

Newt Gingrich, focused upon in this article, was ironically both a rebel wanting revolution (and a welcoming of the Third Wave and the new, ecological-holistic paradigm worldview, as well as futurism in general and futuristic communications technology) and a conservative who blames the liberals of the 60s for eroding America’s values.

The author of the article, Eric Alterman, is amazed that Gingrich pulled off the 1994 Republican coup and sold the Contract With America to his party, and the way no Democrats stood up to defend Gingrich’s attack on them. He also claims that Newt once led a University protest as a grad student to pressure the school administrators to allow the school newspaper to publish “obscene” pictures, threatening to disrupt campus life for weeks if campus officials refused. As Yogi Berra said, “it was déjà vu all over again.” (We’re referring, of course, to the “shut down the government” tactics Newt used, not that long after his 1994 coup, that blew up in his face and made many Republicans reevaluate the wisdom of following this “bomb-thrower.”)

Many Republicans have reevaluated the wisdom of following Newt, the 'bomb-thrower.'
Many Republicans have reevaluated the wisdom of following Newt, the "bomb-thrower."

The author also says that: “That Americans would buy into this charlatan and his [Newt's] charade so eagerly, just two years after repudiating Reaganomics, is perhaps the single most powerful indictment of the timid politics of the Clinton administration.” Of course, some would say the politics were more distracted than timid. By what? Wrong question. The right question is By whom? We all know the answer:

Monica Lewinski—irresistably distracting (to some)
Monica Lewinski—irresistably distracting (to some)

Is Newt a “charlatan” or merely a confused, inconsistent, conflicted person reflecting a conflicted, authoritarian upbringing? Does he really sell out to anyone (like pretending to be in sync with the religious right) to further his career as his detractors say, or is he simply blindly at effect of an extremist upbringing which has made him angrily pursue a career aimed at “getting” all the negative father figures around to express perpetual inner hostility and hurt? Only Newt knows for sure. But since his departure from the scene in 1998-1999, perhaps only Newt even cares. Could anyone really have taken serious his anemic presidential bid in 2012?