Could the Debt Default Crisis Turn into Our Reichstag Fire?

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Something Chris Hedges wrote back in August of 2010 about our American anti-Enlightenment right (a.k.a the Tea Party) is haunting me a bit this week:

The next catastrophic attack, or the next economic meltdown, could be our Reichstag fire. It could be the excuse used by these totalitarian forces, this Christian fascism, to extinguish what remains of our open society.

It’s now apparent that America has its first fundamentalist party–practicing religious and economic fundamentalism–and that party is the Republican Party. And to my mind, this is one of the most difficult-to-stomach results of Republican debt default hostage-taking: other countries are looking to decouple their fate from ours. This is in The New York Times this morning:

In Britain, Jon Cunliffe, who will become deputy governor of the Bank of England next month, told members of Parliament that banks should be developing contingency plans to deal with an American default if one happens.

And Chinese leaders called on a “befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.” In a commentary on Sunday, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua blamed “cyclical stagnation in Washington” for leaving the dollar-based assets of many nations in jeopardy. It said the “international community is highly agonized.”

When the GOP lost the 2012 presidential election, it looked like its pathologies would be worked out over the next several years in a corner–a Southern corner. That process might fracture the party, but not harm America as a whole. The contagion seemed contained. But now it’s evident that there are so many religious and economic ideologues in the Republican Party prepared to blow-up the economy “just to see what happens,” that now everybody in the world is hostage to them. It’s infuriating, but it’s where we’re at. The GOP is literally in the imaginative grip of Tim LaHaye’s apocalyptic novels and Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged at the same time, and no one–especially the Republican leadership–seems to know how to break the fever.

How odd that the most extreme faction within a single fundamentalist political party–and in a single country–can cause so much global mischief. It’s not the world one would have predicted for the 21st century.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Could the Debt Default Crisis Turn into Our Reichstag Fire?

  1. Mikels Skele says:

    They know how to break the grip, but it means splitting the party and surrendering their majority in the house. In other words, giving up power. Ironically, they have done just that, surrendering it to the TP. Perhaps they hope to cling to some form of it as a coalition member. Bottom line: no integrity, so no courage.

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