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What about Rush Limbaugh?

by John Spritzler

January 27, 2014

Rush Limbaugh, the American conservative talk radio host, according to a Zogby poll in 2008, was the "most trusted news personality, followed by Bill O'Reilly and Tom Brokow." How many people listen to Limbaugh is not known, but here's a reasonable estimate:

"Figuring out the size of Limbaugh's flock 'is an art, not a science,' says Michael Harrison, the editor of Talkers magazine, a trade journal about the talk-radio field. 'It's very hard to come up with an exact answer. It really reveals the embarrassing state of radio ratings.'

"Harrison's own calculation -- that Limbaugh typically attracts about 14.25 million listeners weekly -- is based on Arbitron figures from about 30 cities and spot checks of a similar number of stations. Harrison stands by his guess even though Limbaugh's program is heard on more than 600 stations across the country. 'Once you get below the big markets, [the audience] doesn't add up to critical mass,' he said."

Were it not for liberals such as President Obama and the folks at MSNBC T.V. and NPR radio, nobody would listen to Rush Limbaugh. How come? Limbaugh's appeal is to people who see how hypocritical, self-contradictory, unprincipled, arrogant, dishonest, incoherent and contemptuous of ordinary people the liberal politicians and pundits are. Limbaugh offers, in contrast, a coherent and principled criticism of liberals. It is not a criticism I agree with, but because it is coherent and principled it is persuasive to the many people eager to hear a no-holds-barred denunciation of Democratic Party politicians and their highly paid media supporters. And yes, these liberal politicians and media pundits deserve to be denounced as much as humanly possible because they are agents of the mass-murdering, anti-democratic, oppressive, exploiting and selfish plutocracy that runs the United States at the expense of ordinary people in the United States and around the world.

Rush Limbaugh's overarching theme is that there are two kinds of people in the United States: 1) good people who take responsibility for their lives, don't leech off of others (like welfare cheats do), work hard, try to get ahead, don't waste their lives "smoking dope and playing video games," and create small businesses that provide jobs for other people; and 2) lazy bums who expect and rely upon the liberals in government to take wealth from the good hard working people and hand it over to them as an "entitlement." The reason the liberals are so determined to take from the first category of people to give to the second, according to Limbaugh, is to make sure that that famous "47%" of the population are addicted to being on the "teat of the government" so they will keep voting for the liberals.

This is the basis on which Limbaugh rejects the Democratic Party. But with or without Limbaugh, it is only a matter of time before most working class Americans reject the Democratic Party on one basis or another. How come? Because the Democratic Party serves the plutocracy by keeping ordinary people weak and divided by offering working class Americans nothing but deliberately ineffective leadership (e.g., strengthening unions that sabotage workers struggles) and deliberately incoherent ideas (e.g., saying that illegal immigration must be stopped while using NAFTA and subsidies to U.S. agribusiness that dump cheap corn into Mexico and force Mexican farmers to migrate illegally into the U.S.) that only paralyze the working class ideologically. The question facing Americans is not whether to reject the Democratic Party, but how, on what basis, in pursuit of what alternative..

Will Americans reject the Democratic Party--as Rush Limbaugh urges--only to embrace the "more pro-capitalist than thou" Republican Party (or Tea Party) who are beholden to the same plutocracy as the Democratic Party? Or will it be to embrace egalitarianism and reject capitalism?

One thing is for sure: criticizing Rush Limbaugh by defending the liberals he attacks is stupid. It just tosses him red meat. The only way to criticize Rush Limbaugh in a coherent, principled, moral (and hence persuasive) way is to argue that egalitarianism is the only just, decent and practical alternative to our present society. Only an egalitarian society, with a sharing economy based on "from each according to ability, to each according to need," can root out the injustice of some people taking unfair advantage of other people--Limbaugh's main theme. Only an egalitarian society with decision-making done by voluntary federation of local assemblies of egalitarians can root out the anti-democratic practices of a powerful central government that so outrage most of Limbaugh's listeners.

Most Rush Limbaugh listeners have probably never heard liberals attacked from the standpoint of egalitarianism. They have probably never heard things they oppose (and that liberals support) attacked because they are in violation of egalitarian principles; they only hear these things attacked because they are (supposedly) in violation of the way "real capitalists" would have things be.

How many Limbaugh listeners, for example, know that in an egalitarian society based on voluntary federation questions such as whether to make same-sex marriage legal or allow people to own and carry guns would be determined by ordinary egalitarian people in their local assembly where they would all have an equal say and no higher government authority would be able to impose its will on them?

How many Limbaugh listeners know that in an egalitarian society based on "From each according to ability, to each according to need" nobody would be allowed to be a freeloader who takes but doesn't give even when they are able to give, and ordinary people in local assemblies would decide what is reasonable and what is not reasonable?

How many Limbaugh listerners know that in an egalitarian society there would be a huge incentive for people to be smart and innovative to create better ways of making things and ways to make better things? The incentive would be what actually motivates people: satisfaction in doing something very useful and very well, the enjoyment of public respect and even acclaim for this, and the pleasure of living in a society that one has made better for oneself as well as others?

The reason Limbaugh listeners don't know these things is because there is hardly any substantial, organized and explicitly egalitarian movement in the United States. The only "games in town" when it comes to a coherent criticism of American society are libertarianism (Limbaugh's ideology) and various flavors of Marxism. The former embraces the legitimacy of inequality as the natural condition of people and a necessary feature of any society that wants people to be motivated to be productive. The latter embraces the legitimacy of inequality by arguing that society needs to be ruled undemocratically by a strong central government controlled by a Communist Party (or Marxists in either case) because only Marxists want a classless society and know how to get it.

The task of egalitarians is to let people know that there is "another game in town." The Ring the Bells of Revolution campaign promoted at PDRBoston.org is one way to do that.

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Books

We Can Change the World: The Real Meaning of Everyday Life by Dave Stratman

The People as Enemy: The Leaders' Hidden Agenda in World War II by John Spritzler