At CPAC, Glenn Beck gave his usual rant about The Coming Apocalypse to an enthusiastic crowd. Along the way, he mentioned that he learned what he “knows” (LOL) at the library.
Cue realization of contradiction for comedic effect in 3…2…1…:
“Glenn, the library isn’t free! It’s paid for with tax money. Free public libraries are the result of the Progressive movement to communally share books. The first public library was the Boston public library in 1854. It’s statement of purpose: every citizen has the right to access community owned resources. Community owned? That sounds just like communist. You’re a communist!”
Good for a chuckle, but there’s a larger tell of what this says about the Right & its incoherence. It’s obvious why Shouty Glenn didn’t realize what he was saying with that line: he, like myself & like most reasonable people, sees nothing particularly bad about public libraries. In fact, I think it’s safe to say if the extent of government were merely communal availability of books then there’d be little for all but staunch Objectivists to complain about.
Now, since Beck & presumably most other right-wingers in the U.S. aren’t including libraries on their list of Absolute Collectivist Evil, they can’t possibly be as purely anti-collective as their rhetoric suggests. Of course, we already know this because they hold sacrosanct even more such things as the public army, public police forces & public national bouncers AKA “immigration agents”. Their true argument, as a result, is haggling over what should be collectively provided for & what shouldn’t — making them no different than the people they scream about on the means.
As if that wasn’t enough, we have the fact that government is not the only way to do collective provision of goods. Some on the Right even mention charity, of course, but there have also been co-ops, mutual aid associations, various cultural organizations, myriad methods of providing something to and as a group. If something is a collective outside of government then there is no grounds, political or moral, to interfere. Approve of it? Then join. Disapprove? Then don’t. Simple.
Sure, there’s the hypocrisy of using anti-collective rhetoric when you don’t have a problem with collectivism for things that you personally like. But I would go further & say that other than the most devout of Ayn Rand followers, we’re all collectivists to some extent.
I personally want “public” to actually mean the public rather than the state, which makes me a radical. Others, though they acknowledge their collectivism, don’t make that distinction, so they’re part of the mainstream. Those who make arguments that suggest the mere idea of commons is downright wicked, when their true reasoning is “my collective is wonderful, yours is evil”, have a more appropriate label: dumbass.