What is going on in the Arab world today, I argued, is a relentless push, also funded by fossil fuels, for more monocultures. It’s Al Qaeda trying to “purify” the Arabian Peninsula. It’s Shiites and Sunnis, each funded by oil money, trying to purge the other in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
The more these societies become monocultures, the less they spark new ideas and the more susceptible they are to diseased conspiracy theories and extreme ideologies. It is no accident that the Golden Age of the Arab/Muslim world was when it was a thriving polyculture between the 8th and 13th centuries.
The same is true of the Republican Party in America today. Tea Party conservatives funded by the Koch brothers and other fossil-fuel donors are trying to wipe out whatever is left of the Republican Party’s polyculture and turn it into a monoculture. When Senate Republicans last week first offered their compromise proposal to end the shutdown, Representative Tim Huelskamp, a Tea Party congressman from Kansas, warned that, “Anybody who would vote for that in the House as a Republican would virtually guarantee a primary challenger” from the Tea Party. In short: They’d be purged in favor of a monoculture…
The Tea Party is not a terrorist group. It has legitimate concerns about debt, jobs and Obamacare. But what was not legitimate was the line it crossed. Rather than persuading a majority of Americans that its policies were right, and winning elections to enact the changes it sought — the essence of our democratic system — the Tea Party threatened to undermine our nation’s credit rating if the Democrats would not agree to defund Obamacare. Had such strong-arm tactics worked, it would have meant that constitutionally enacted laws could be nullified if determined minorities opposed them. It would have meant Lebanon on the Potomac.