When is a coup not a coup?
This transcript of Rush Limbaugh talking about the NSA/Prism business is an interesting example of how the paranoid style has evolved. Three things strike me about his argument here. First, just how self-conscious – or even self-aware – it is. Limbaugh spends a lot of time explaining that he knows how this sort of talk will be perceived – it will strike many people as crazy. So his way of showing that it is not crazy is to keep reminding people that he is aware how crazy it sounds. Likewise, he makes an absurd Hitler analogy but then says he knows it will sound absurd: he is just doing it because he has to grab your attention.
Second, he is careful not to use the language of conpsiracy. He says that what he calls a coup is not really a coup because it doesn’t fit the classic definition. It is not the result of an overt plan to take over the governmnet. Instead it is more insidious than that: people doing what a coup would require without having to be told. They are so bought into the project (though it’s not clear whether the project is Obama himself or the socialization of the American state) that there is no need for an actual conspiracy. So is this a conspiracy theory? I’m not sure. If it is, it’s a conspiracy theory without a conspiracy.
Third, there is a nice aside in the bit about capitalism having abolished poverty. Cited in evidence is the Economist, which is described as ‘a lefitst publication in London’. The idea is that if even the lefties can see it’s happening then it must be true. This is reminded me of Hofstadter’s line about ‘the special significance that attaches to the figure of the renegade from the enemy cause’. Though a worldview in which the Economist counts as a leftist publication makes anything possible.