A New Tragedy of the Commons — Tea Party Attack on America’s Civic Dignity

                       DIAGNOSIS:  MASS HYSTERIA AT THE TEA PARTY

There was a story earlier this year about 18 high school cheerleaders who, one by one, developed mysterious tics, spasms and vocalizations which were eventually diagnosed as conversion disorder, a condition causing Tourette-like symptoms, but with no underlying neurologic cause.   The more it was publicized (and it was), the worse the outbreak became. It was not until the media started reporting it as mass psychogenic illness (mass hysteria) that the girls started to magically get well. Oddly, their families were still desperately seeking a more sinister cause, and seemed genuinely disappointed that it was in fact a self-induced condition.

A similar, but much larger outbreak of hysteria is taking place across the nation, infecting millions of Americans. They have developed an irrational phobia about the commons — that which is the public realm — publicly held tangible assets, resources, services, and shared culture in general — all have become the source of utter terror to many susceptible minds. It’s much more than just old-timey rugged American individualism run-amok here, this is true clinical hysteria on the grandest and most awful scale. It is a mass delusion — a mental wasting disease spreading its necrotic stench from shore to shore.

Many are familiar with the 1969 seminal work The Tragedy of the Commons, by Garrett Hardin — a breakthrough insight that laid the groundwork of the accepted premise behind the modern environmental movement. Hardin eloquently defined the nature of the problem as the over use and abuse of limited common resources. — land, water, air…

Now we see the new tragedy of the commons moving beyond the lakes, forests and skies — invading all of the shared human experience. It is an attack on the very notion of community — an all-out assault on the great American tradition of civic life. More →