Kollective Krazy: can we move beyond it?

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

I see things in wholes and in parts at the same time. We are each part of the Kollective Krazy of this time. Tea Baggers are examples of millions of Mad Hatter Tea Parties. We are not in the realm of reason — Marx would never have foreseen that Lewis Carroll would be the great thinker of our age.

Since WWI there has been a conscious and concerted attempt to control the minds of the American people. To rule in a democracy requires that minds be controlled and programmed–there is no alternative. Naturally, that is what has happened.  We are so used to it we normally don’t see it. We have to get out of our normal consciousness to see it–I think most of us here know this from having a long experience of being on the outside looking in.

I believe there is no hope at all for anything resembling the ideal view of a Constitutional Democracy ever flourishing in the USA. That period is over never to return. I suggest we adjust to that reality and try to build something relatively sane for our family and friends. I think life will go on but we have to get rid of the hope that anything can stop the march towards the clearly discernable neo-feudal order. There is simply no force in society that can help us at this time. American intellectuals and progressives have given up on integrity, reason and courage and are as much corrupted by konsumer kulture as the Tea Baggers — perhaps even more so.

First let’s examine the reality of our civilization such as it is. If we look at the average American’s view of the world — and I don’t mean just the outside political world and the facts about it. I mean the way we view our everyday world. We are stunningly ignorant how things actually work. How many people know how their cars work? How many people understand computers or their operating systems? How many people understand where their food comes from? How many people know how their own bodies work? I mean their musculature, their endocrine system and so on. How many people can build a shelter or even repair the basics in their house? My point is we know very little about the essential things that make up our daily lives (I’m sure you can think of more things). But we know a lot about trivial facts about obscure movies, past contestants on American Idol, sports stars past and present, personal lives of “celebrities” and so on. Even fundamentalists who claim to live by the Bible are stunningly ignorant of the Bible — I’m often dumbfounded (I read the fucking book) at the outright lies that preachers are able to get away with. Not to say that all fundies are ignorant fo the Bible or haven’t read it just that the major part of their religion emphasizes trivial issues (Biblically speaking) like abortion and homosexuality and ignore bigger issues like social justice and Jesus’ main teachings, particularly his parables.

We can laugh at the evangelicals as being incredibly stupid (they mostly are) but what about the rest of us? Do we actually know more than them? Do we actually know the basis of leftist philosophy? The answer is often no. Like the evangelicals we just have emotional positions about war, poverty, social justice, sexual politics, immigration etc. If I go on DKOS and say that 9/11 was never investigated using normal methods like, for example, using forensic evidence to establish facts and so on — I would be banned from the site. But what I said was factually correct. If I were to go on DKOS and say that if illegal immigration is illegal then the law ought to be enforced I would get and have gotten a furious tirades about me being a racist etc. The fact is if there is a law it should be either enforced or eliminated or you should come right out and say that the law ought not be enforced — like I do when I look at drug laws since I believe all drugs should be legalized — I don’t believe that just because I like drugs (I really don’t care one way or the other about them) but because I have a reasoned argument for the legalization and free availability of all drugs with some restrictions which I would be able to articulate.

But things don’t work that way in our country. No one is asked to clearly articulate anything not on leftist blogs, not in government, not (most sadly of all) in intellectual disputes where sophism is all-pervasive.

How did this happen? How did the oligarchy (yes there is an oligarchy and we better start finding out who these people are and how that system works) manage to destroy the minds of several generations of the American people? Here’s my list:

  1. Public Schooling: the curriculum is based on a model established in the late 19th century. It focuses on creating a compliant population easily enlisted into factories and willing to comply with authority. It encourages an approach to knowledge that has little or nothing to do with our daily lives or what we really need to know to function as human beings. It encourages isolated and unrelated facts as being “education” – that approach has nothing whatever to do with education. It encourages passivity in the face of these established facts and, with some wonderful exceptions, does not encourage discovery and unfettered discussion or even knows what the term “dialiectic” means. Most glaringly, the public schools system almost totally ignores social science research and developmental psychology as well as common sense. For example having children sit at desks through much of the day, particularly boys, is utterly insane in the early grades or really anytime. I can go on and on about this  because I’ve raised four children. Worse that all that is that public schools have failed to deal with the mind-control techniques and assault or reason that are contained in the medium of television.
  2. Television: it provides a kind of artificial sweetner effect. It fools the brain into thinking that we are living when in fact we are plugging into a matrix that has two goals: (1) to manipulate our minds to spend money on things we clearly don’t need (otherwise we would not have to be persuaded); and (2) keep “the people” misinformed so that they do not question authority, i.e., the power-elite who run TV stations and cable networks. In addition TV encourages us to adopt a very shallow view of reality, i.e., things are shown out of context and the trivial is not divided from the important and essential.  The way to get audience is to appeal to not only the lowest common denominator (in any given demographic) but to the lower parts of our brains. This would be natural since the whole point of TV is to manipulate brains-the rewards are simply to great to not want to do that.

These two public institutions that determine, largely, the information we receive both present the world as a confusing buzz of unrelated facts and subject matters that change by the hour. The bell rings and time to move to a new class in a subject that has absolutely nothing in common with what preceded it; or, change the channel from a woman crying because some soldiers killed their children to a comedy show with a laugh track and then move to a sporting event and so on. This gives a very warped view of reality that is unquestioned because we lack the cultural tools to examine issues. So is it a surprise that the Health Care Reform “debate” was not in any way shape or form a debate. Practically none of the facts related to the issue were brought out by anyone because the solutions to the crisis in HC we face would easily flow from those facts and studies. As would the solutions to any of the major problems we face from the climate change, the drug war, to education to terrorism, to crime, to the financial crisis. The solutions to those problems are all inherent in the facts and studies that surround them. Yet these easy and relatively painless solutions are never considered. I repeat NEVER considered. Because, quite simply, they interfere with some segment of the oligarchy which is an increasingly precarious assemblage of very different forces. This is where we need to focus.

The left should reconstitute itself as a segment of the population that wants to use facts and reason to solve collective problems/issues. We don’t have to be socialists we just have to start with that. We should also be spending more time trying to figure out how the oligarchy works and what forces are at work. Learning this would enable us, collectively, to have some way to be effective, i.e., to know where the soft spots are to be able to make changes happen–but that is assuming we can create a genuine community. It only takes a few thousand — we could do it.

In the meantime my suggestion is to stop worrying about trivial issues whether it is American Idol, the latest sex scandal, or the fate of HCR.  

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  1. President Merkin Muffley: Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the War Room.  from Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

    sorry, couldnt help myself.

    Yes, you are, once again, spot on, banger.

  2. In the meantime my suggestion is to stop worrying about trivial issues whether it is American Idol, the latest sex scandal, or the fate of HCR.

    See, a lot of people are going to be hurt by this.  The stupidity of many of those that supported this is a real issue also. And, a powerful lobby just became more powerful.

    So, not so much like American Idol.

    There are more important things, I agree. Afghanistan. Militarization. The schools (as you mention).  

    The other part of this I disagree with is about intellect. Sometimes anger is the most important thing-the only thing that moves anything forward.  Maybe it always is.

    The judge said five to ten but I say double that again

    I’m not working for the clampdown

    No man born with a living soul

    Can be working for the clampdown

    Kick over the wall ’cause government’s to fall

    How can you refuse it?

    Let fury have the hour, anger can be power

    D’you know that you can use it?

    – The Clash / Clampdown

  3. and your analysis is spot on. But when you say this:

    The left should reconstitute itself as a segment of the population that wants to use facts and reason to solve collective problems/issues.

    I am left to wonder, is this really an effective strategy in a post-rational America?

    The problem is, as you point out, that people can no longer comprehend or evaluate facts and reason. The world is too complex, and there is simply too much noise for the average person to sift through. Facts and reason are drowned out, even in supposedly “rational” and “reality-based” discursive forums.

    Take the recent HCR debates, for example. The soundbite repeated ad nauseum on television and elsewhere is that HCR will “provide health care to 32 million Americans.” This is a profound distortion of the facts of the matter, if not an outright lie. Republicans claim that HCR is socialistic, also a fabrication. And most people believe either one of these lies or the other, when they both contradict “reality,” facts, and reason. I have repeatedly and steadfastly pointed these things out, with little to no effect. In fact, many people have pointed this out, to no effect. To make matters worse, even prominent activists, such as slinkerwink, have reiterated these claims, even though they know that they are lies:

    http://www.dailykos.com/commen

    So what are we to do? Reality seems to be slipping in its purchase on our collective political imaginations, and I’m not sure how to combat that. It would appear that we are devolving into a post-rational society, and I don’t see how that can be stopped. We can register our protest, but is this anything more than a moral/ethical obligation to Enlightenment values, that is, is it an effective strategy for political change? I’m not convinced.

    What we should advocate something like “Situationism” in addition to rationality, I don’t know, I’m at a loss.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S

  4. I saw your name here so I will take this opportunity to bring up Prof Igor Panarin and his right on schedule breakup of the US by June of this year.

    Either that or projectcamelot.org, bombing Iran to start WWIII.  Think of it though, no more IRS tax returns!

  5. all this shit will sort itself out.

  6. public education and…..

    television……

    a world far more complex than the scope of the average individual……

    a recipe for the fall……

    fire water ice…..

    the evolutionarysieve…….

    • Xanthe on March 22, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    is that something entirely improbable could take place and all bets are off – not necessarily a disaster either.

    I like the idea of reading the Russians for a view of the States.

  7. http://petervanpeetzen.punt.nl

    During the next several decades Bernays and his colleagues evolved the principles by which masses of people could be generally swayed through messages repeated over and over hundreds of times. Once the value of media became apparent, other countries of the world tried to follow our lead. But Bernays really was the gold standard. Josef Goebbels, who was Hitler’s minister of propaganda, studied the principles of Edward Bernays when Goebbels was developing the popular rationale he would use to convince the Germans that they had to purify their race. (Stauber)

    As the science of mass control evolved, PR firms developed further guidelines for effective copy. Here are some of the gems:

    – dehumanize the attacked party by labeling and name calling

    – speak in glittering generalities using emotionally positive words

    – when covering something up, don’t use plain English; stall for time; distract

    – get endorsements from celebrities, churches, sports figures, street people—anyone who has no expertise in the subject at hand

    – the ‘plain folks’ ruse: us billionaires are just like you

    – when minimizing outrage, don’t say anything memorable

    – when minimizing outrage, point out the benefits of what just happened

    – when minimizing outrage, avoid moral issues

  8. … and I don’t see any conclusive contrary evidence … we need to develop the political equivalent of the medieval Free Cities.

     

  9. IMHO, banger is correct. There needs to be a philosophical core to an effective progressive movement, and it should be one that can be articulated and intellectually supported.

    When Obama ran on “Change”, it was sloganeering at its most

    basic level. It meant nothing. Our political debates are pathetic. We talk at each other and not with each other.

    Even in blogging, it’s very difficult to follow up with a comment if dispassionate reflection is required. I think this site has the potential to work out a type of understood approach for improved discussion without having to have too many rules.  

  10. … a fact check:

    If I were to go on DKOS and say that if illegal immigration is illegal then the law ought to be enforced I would get and have gotten a furious tirades about me being a racist etc.

    Those who blog intelligently on immigration (and there are a few at the Orange) would simply respond that for too long enforcement-only policies have created the untenable situation we now find ourselves in.

    Those are simply the facts on the issue.  I would define comprehensive immigration reform as also dealing with the human rights issues and moral issues that have arisen from our own illegal actions towards both undocumented immigrants (deaths in detention centers, torture, etc.) and our poor global policies that cause the migrations in the first place.  At this time the only US policy on immigration is of enforcement.  If you’d like a list, I can provide it.

    Now I am not optimistic that what I see as “progress” on the issue will happen, so I agree with you entirely that we shouldn’t get worked up over reality being the way it is.

    My only goal at this point is to be an informed citizen and to be a witness in my words when writing about the events of the day.

    Great essay.  Highly recommended.

  11. I submit that before we can (as a society) arrive at some viable solutions to our pressing difficulties, we must first refrain from what I call linguistic, guerilla warfare. Terms are used that are really nothing more than emotional hand grenades. People utter and don’t communicate.

    The mass media outlets and Madison Avenue focus on these ejaculations as if they’re collectively understood, when in reality they’re nothing more than conditioned Pavlovian responses to other Pavlovian responses. Banger’s point is well taken when he/she points to education as a central cause of this problem, structured and ordered in such a way as to make social reality appear concrete and thus

    “locking” the learner into being a helpless participart in what actually is nothing more than a “language game”.

    Language, political and otherwise, is a game/tool for  framing our reality. It’s very old indeed. Who are the prime manipulators of these “signs” and how are emotional reactions so easily connected to these utterances? Do prime manipulators really exist? Do our present language games separate us from seeing people as they are? Again, as banger implies, does our modern media even make communication more symbolic, abstract and a type of reality in itself?

    It’s as if politics now exists to respond to itself via  symbolic packages of “utterances” and has no connection to the physical and biological world. Just some random thoughts this A.M.——

    • Temmoku on March 24, 2010 at 2:17 am

    It is the modus operandi of the insecure, especially the insecure in power…which has been just about every plutocrat since the beginning.

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