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Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:38 pm
by d63
Last week on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver offered one of his typically spot on (sometimes profound (takes on our contemporary economy. What he crystallized for me is that what we’re dealing with as concerns Trump’s hardcore followers is a fantasy world in which we go back to the old manufacturing economy. And you can’t totally blame them. I’ve drank that Kool-Aid. As a teenager in the 70’s, the assumption was that we would either graduate (or not graduate (from high school and move into union manufacturing jobs like our parents. But that’s not what happened. We failed to anticipate the effects of an emerging global economy ushered in by developing technologies in transport and communications. So I can understand the MEGA-nut’s frustration.

But I would ask them one important question: Does any of them remember what it was like to stand in a fucking assembly line staring at the clock as it crawled to the next break or quitting time? I mean at some point or other, they have to ask their selves why it is mainly Mexican immigrants going into meat packing plants every day.

The truth is: globalism is the genie out of the bottle and there is no turning back. Even if these factories were brought back to America, it wouldn’t change anything because of automation. In other words, as John Oliver crystallized, what we’re dealing with as concerns the MEGA-nuts is a fantasy incapable of recognizing the new knowledge economy. What he pointed out is that the job market of today will require skills of a more cerebral quality, things like critical thinking skills and creativity.

And what it inspired in me was cause for hope as concerns the current threat to our democracy: the Republican Party as it now stands under Trump. And we have to think of it terms of evolutionary adaption. If the new economy requires critical thinking skills and creativity, then the MEGA-nuts are a system that can no longer be sustained, that must be naturally selected out of the system as a whole. In other words, it may well be the market (whatever issues I take with it (that makes the republican platform that unconditionally embraces the market obsolete as it should be, that is while the critical thinking skills and creativity required to thrive in the market bleeds into how people think about others, how they choose to treat them, even if it comes at their own minimal expense. It could be how we evolve from the competitive mode of the MEGA-nut and the Republican platform to the cooperative required if we are to survive as a species.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:33 pm
by d63
Dear Diary Moment 3/14/2019:

Lately I’ve been going through the latest issue of Philosophy Now which focuses on mind and self. And the most telling thing about the experience is how I feel like I’m just shutting down throughout it all –how I’m hardly inspired. And do not get me wrong: this is not some snobbish dismissal of the issue. As a Philosophy 101 thing (as well as a Philosophy Now approach), I’m perfectly aware of how important it is to any philosophical process. It’s just what Philosophy Now does. And you gotta respect them for that. I simply will not dis them.

This is more about how I’m reacting to it and an exploration of the whys. And this is important in that I’m having an equally hard time getting into more contemporary pop-philosophers such as Searle, Dennet, Nussbaum, or even Hofstadter who tend to approach philosophy in terms that would be far easier for me to understand than my holy triad: Rorty, Žižek, and Deleuze (and I mean it: damn the French and their weird/obscure philosophies anyway). It’s almost a kind of masochistic impulse on my part: I draw towards what eludes me. As I’m experiencing it, going back to Searle, Dennet, Nussbaum, and Hofstadter (or the subjects being covered by Philosophy Now (would feel like reading a lot of poetry and going back to Ginsberg’s Howl: it was a cool poem that worked for you at an early stage in your process (inspired you to explore further), but hard to bring yourself to want to go back to.

The question for me is how this came to be:

It could be that I (having the addictive personality that I have (have drawn to the elusive. It’s a little like a gambling addiction in that sense of abuse and reward. As I have described Deleuze for some time now: he’s like some beautiful French Mademoiselle that makes you believe you can have her. Then, when you approach, she turns and walks away.

On the other hand, it could be that I have worked my way beyond such issues. Still, I would have to say that I miss being engaged in such issues.

Finally, I would point out that I tend to turn on with the audio books I listen to based on recommendations from MSNBC and other more social/political sources. It becomes a matter of what I can use. It’s like I’ve pointed out before: one of the nice things about having a Democrat in the White House is that it allows me the luxury of dealing with more abstract and remote issues. But when a Republican one is in it (especially one like Trump), it’s always a call to more political action: a more social/political focus as concerns my process.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:45 pm
by d63
“But to appreciate fully the inventiveness of right-wing populism, we have to turn to the master class of the Old South. The slaveholder created a quintessential form of democratic feudalism, turning the white majority into a lordly class, sharing in the privileges and prerogatives of governing the slave class. Though the members of this ruling class knew that they were not equal to each other, they were compensated by the illusion of superiority— and the reality of rule— over the black population beneath them.” -Robin, Corey. The Reactionary Mind (p. 53). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

This basically goes to the question that Deleuze and Guatarri (via Wilhelm Reich (asked: what it is about people that seem to seek out their own oppression, to vote against their own interests. And we see it all over the con job that the republicans are selling people today. Take, for instance, the republican tax reform. As Paul Ryan sold it, it was all about putting more money in the pockets of “working families”. But that was hardly the case. You have to put in mind that Ryan was a big fan of Ayn Rand who glorified the rich: the supposed “god-like” that she was so fond of. Ryan didn’t care about working families. All he cared about was his country-club buddies whose asses he had to lick to get where he was –much like Rand. And however he may have spinned it, his retirement (his exit-stage-left (was him getting out of Dodge before the consequences of his tax reform actually took hold. We have to give him credit for being smart enough to foresee those.

And we see this all over the MAGA-trolls. Trump, too, is all about his country-club buddies. But he plays on this common archetype of the “truthful outburst” (think of the movies “Man of the Year” and “Bulworth” (as the book points out, rightwingers are notorious for adapting leftist motifs) in order to convince his followers that he is authentic. And he does it in the same manner those of the Old South did (that is while maintaining a hierarchical advantage over them): by deluding them into believing they are part of his “in-crowd”. It’s exactly what Hitler did while maintaining a distance between him and his fans.

Now add to that the power of media (how Capitalism via media sells possibility more than anything: who wants to be a millionaire?), and you get a sense of how what we are dealing with is a highly evolved form of what the Old South utilized to maintain their power over their slaves as well as the less rich whites.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:24 pm
by d63
“But to appreciate fully the inventiveness of right-wing populism, we have to turn to the master class of the Old South. The slaveholder created a quintessential form of democratic feudalism, turning the white majority into a lordly class, sharing in the privileges and prerogatives of governing the slave class. Though the members of this ruling class knew that they were not equal to each other, they were compensated by the illusion of superiority— and the reality of rule— over the black population beneath them.” -Robin, Corey. The Reactionary Mind (p. 53). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

“That school of thought contended with a second, arguably more influential, school. American slavery was not democratic, according to this line of thinking, because it offered the opportunity for personal mastery to white men. Instead, American slavery was democratic because it made every white man, slaveholder or not, a member of the ruling class by virtue of the color of his skin. In the words of Calhoun: “With us the two great divisions of society are not the rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.” –ibid but on p. 54

It’s like I’ve always said: when it comes to Capitalism there is nothing new under the sun. When it comes to oppression, Capitalism is little more than a more subtle approach to what despotic leaders have been doing since the beginnings of civilization. And this puts some shine on what Robin attempts to explain throughout the book: that conservatives, as a counter-revolutionary force, have always been forced to adopt revolutionary mannerisms. And the reason they have do so is because their position, in a public discourse that inherently must be about what is best for everyone, have little more to offer than what is best for them (that which is intellectually and creatively bankrupt): how they maintain power.

And where we clearly see the evolutionary legacy of the above expressed is in the privatization of the prison system and the mass incarceration of African Americans. What we are looking at is a situation in which shareholders (mostly white (are increasing their dividends through laws that tend to condemn African American men and women to the prison system –that is by keeping them in desperate situations. Of course, the rest of us white Americans who have no stake in the stock market are suppose to overlook this outright form of fascism because at least it’s not us. And in this sense, we’re as empowered as the non-slave holding whites in the old south felt.

(Afterthought: I need to associate this with Žižek’s point about jouissance through others.)

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:22 pm
by d63
In order to fully understand the dynamic at work here, we have to understand Žižek’s point about jouissance in The Plague of Fantasies. As he explains, we tend to experience pleasure through the pleasure of the other. We do it, for instance, through our children, grandchildren, and our pets. We even do it through our machines. In this case, Žižek points to our tendency to set our recording devices to record more shows than we’ll ever be able watch. It is as if we take a kind of pleasure in knowing our machines have taken some kind of pleasure in those shows that we’ll never get to experience.

And it was this same dynamic that the old south exploited in that by making non-slave holding-whites part of some “in-crowd”, the non-slave-holding whites were able to experience pleasure through those that could afford slaves. And Capitalism has perfected this dynamic via game shows, celebrity culture, legalized gambling, the glamorization of the rich, and reality TV (and who wouldn’t want to think that their life would be so interesting (so profitable (as to be worth recording for prosperity?) in that what it seems to sell best is possibility: a chance to be part of that “in-crowd”. I mean “who wants to be a millionaire”?

This is all over the case for self indulgence at work on FOX News or any Pro-Capitalist argument. It’s not a matter making their case for the cause of self-indulgence. It is, rather, a matter of snidely dismissing any argument against the cult of self-indulgence via the “in-crowd” sensibility. And that vicarious experience of pleasure is the means by which they seduce those who, from a more rational perspective, are being exploited by those higher powers and only stand to lose by supporting such powers. It's how they get them to vote against their own interests.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 9:57 pm
by d63
Dear diary moment 5/6/2019:

I’ve lately (from the perspective of a Metaphysics of Efficiency: that which is maximized by minimizing the differential between input and output (been thinking a lot about what goes on at the deepest and most micro level of things. It seems to me that, at that level, things become an either/or (in other words binary (situation in which an act either achieves an almost 100% efficiency or a zero one. And this is because of the minimal level of expectations at work.

I would return to the main influence on this conceptual scheme: my sustenance as a maintenance tech. Think about an electrical motor which consists of thousands of windings in order for it to work. Now think about any individual winding. It is either working or it is not, close to 100% efficiency or at dead zero. Now think about the collective effect of multiple windings at dead zero. As that occurs, the tech or the technology at work has to increase the energy input in order to get the same effect from that motor. And in the process, efficiency decreases by increasing the differential between the resources available to a given act and the resources gotten out.
And we see as much in life. We have these complex expectations that consist of various sub-expectations. And in the process, we find that the resources available to us force us to shut down other expectations in order to meet the needs of the expectations that are most important to us. And I understand that I am working in broad swipes here: a little (perhaps a lot (abstract and incomplete in my explanation: that, unfortunately, would take a book.

But my main point here is that it seems to me that at the micro level, things seem to work at a more on/off binary manner which (through a cumulative effect (creates the analogue effect we experience in life that works in the spectrum of the differential between input and output. It works very much like a computer.

Or have I completely confused you? Is there any chance of me being able to drop the mic right now?

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:35 pm
by d63
Dear Diary Moment 6/13/2019:

I have, lately, been listening to the audio book for Vegas Tenold’s Everything You Love Will Burn. And it is a book I cannot recommend highly enough as it has certainly widened my perspective on what is going on among white extremist groups. It’s basically a true story by a progressive journalist who managed to get access to white extremist groups while actually being truthful about his political disposition and his intentions. Just the way these people tend to acclimate to this guy is interesting enough in itself. But really interesting is the main character, one Mathew Heimbach (a.k.a. “The Little Fürher” via the Southern Poverty Law Center) who is really an interesting character who acts as a kind of guide to Tenold through the world of right-wing extremism.

Now the important thing to understand is that the book is not apologetics for the general movement. In fact, one of the things it points out repeatedly is how kind of sad and pathetic the movement is given the meetings that are always haunted by a less than expected turnout: most of what you see are barbeques and beers in empty fields that are the numerical equivalent of friendly get-togethers. On top of that, you find out that among the right-wing, the various factions are not as cohesive as you think they are. For instance, there is a lot tension and animosity between the KKK and Skinheads/neo-nazis. The KKK think the skinheads/neo-nazis are a bunch of thugs while the skinheads/neo-nazis think the KKK are outdated dinosaurs who just drink beer and have barbeques. Furthermore, the story is really funny at times which brings me to think that there may well be a movie in the book –that is should there be a group of actors and a director willing to bring it to the screen.

But the main reason I bring this up is the main character Mathew Heimbach who comes off as a reasonably intelligent and articulate guy. He is college trained. And his main agenda as a highly recognized organizer is to create a white nationalism without the antagonism of white supremacy. He, for instance, rejects the idea that whites are any better than any other race. And because of that, he is more of a separatist very much like some black activists. And there are times when his facts are actually accurate such as when he describes the plight of white people in distressed rural areas.

But like most right-wingers, while you agree with them on many particulars, it’s their focuses and conclusions that become problematic. And in this sense, Heimbach’s asset’s become his liabilities. Once again, I believe that what we are dealing with here is a threshold dynamic. What we are dealing with under Trump are people who have a very low threshold for immigration. So you have to ask what happens when people from south feel more pressure to move north either through a decaying political system or climate change which is predicted to effect equator countries first. You have to wonder how attractive a Mathew Heimbach might be to the next higher threshold that is passed.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:34 pm
by d63
“We present our data first as a series of network maps that describe news media sources and their relations to each other by different measures. We provide the more technical explanation of the methods, the data used to make these maps, and high-resolution images of each map in the online appendix.” -Benkler, Yochai; Faris, Robert; Roberts, Hal. Network Propaganda (Kindle Locations 963-965). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Okay, let me try this again since yesterday I got a little distracted and convoluted/ mucked it up. What these researchers did was a survey of the links within the various actors within the media ecosystem as a whole through both the open web (the various news outlets online (as well as social media via the number of shares of articles on these news outlets: what they referred to as actors or nodes. They then mapped them out across the spectrum of extreme left to extreme right in a way that recognized the differences between major players (MSNBC on the left, CNN, NYT, and the WSJ in the center, as well as Breitbart and FOX News on the right) and the secondary players (The Huffington Post on the left and Reddit on the right) as well as all those sources on the outliers.

And it is important to keep in mind here that this is about how these various actors interact through links and shares. And what they found out was that while the media ecosystem on left side of the spectrum extended from the far left of the spectrum to the center (established outlets with high standards of truth seeking: mainstream news outlets), the right side of the spectrum was primarily connected to its own: it was basically a system unto itself that fed off of itself in an isolated feedback loop of propaganda.

Now to give you a better sense of how this works, it is true that hyper-partisan disinformation is created on both the left and the right side of the spectrum among the outliers. But there is a difference in what results. On the left side of the spectrum, the information is passed through the ecosystem until it comes under the scrutiny of the center with high truth seeking standards where it is either validated or dismissed. On the right side, however, there is no center with high truth seeking standards. Therefore, it can pass up the propaganda pipeline to more popular news sources such as FOX News and Hannity.

And what can only result from this isolated feedback loop is radicalization under an isolated reality. This is why the right (as well as Trump (is so fixated on de-legitimizing mainstream news which lies at the center of things and is fully accredited through tradition and a high standard of fact gathering and truth telling. Once again:

Our shared reality is the reality the mainstream/center outlets are reporting on. It may well be incomplete or sometimes mistaken. But mainstream non-partisan outlets are not out to deceive us. There is no conspiracy there.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:32 pm
by d63
“Repeatedly throughout our research for this book we have encountered truly fantastical stories circulated widely in the right-wing media ecosystem, from Hillary Clinton trafficking in Haitian children to satisfy her husband’s unnatural lusts, to Hillary Clinton herself participating in pedophilia on “Orgy Island,” to John Podesta’s participation in satanic rituals, to the Uranium One story in which the special counsel investigating Russian interference in support of Donald Trump’s campaign, Robert Mueller, and the deputy attorney general who appointed him, Rod Rosenstein, were portrayed as corruptly facilitating the Obama administration’s sale of 20 percent of America’s nuclear capabilities to Russia. These are all stories reported widely in the core sites of the right wing, and polls report that substantial numbers of Republicans claim to believe these stories— whether because they actually believe them factually or because claiming to believe them is part of what identifies them as Republicans. 58 But all of these seem so ludicrously implausible that it is difficult to imagine that they are in fact intended to make people believe them, rather than simply to create a profound disorientation and disconnect from any sense that there is anyone who actually “knows the truth.” Left with nothing but this anomic disorientation, audiences can no longer tell truth from fiction, even if they want to. They are left with nothing but to choose statements that are ideologically congenial or mark them as members of the tribe. And in a world in which there is no truth, the most entertaining conspiracy theory will often win.” -Benkler, Yochai; Faris, Robert; Roberts, Hal. Network Propaganda (Kindle Locations 798-810). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Now there are basically two issues I want to address here. Therefore I will start with the one pertaining to the first part of this quote:

“Repeatedly throughout our research for this book we have encountered truly fantastical stories circulated widely in the right-wing media ecosystem, from Hillary Clinton trafficking in Haitian children to satisfy her husband’s unnatural lusts, to Hillary Clinton herself participating in pedophilia on “Orgy Island,” to John Podesta’s participation in satanic rituals, to the Uranium One story in which the special counsel investigating Russian interference in support of Donald Trump’s campaign, Robert Mueller, and the deputy attorney general who appointed him, Rod Rosenstein, were portrayed as corruptly facilitating the Obama administration’s sale of 20 percent of America’s nuclear capabilities to Russia.”

Here again we are looking at a stunted deductive process. Bill Clinton is well known for his sexual proclivities. He was clearly a sexual guy and Hillary, because of her ambitions, clearly may have engaged in some denial concerning that matter. Therefore, it would make “perfect sense” for him to express that sexuality with Haitian children and flying on the “Lolita Express” while Hillary (the hard-nosed politician (stood by and facilitated it all so that she could pursue her own agendas. But if we follow this through, that perfect sense becomes perfect nonsense because Hillary would have to be pretty goddamn stupid (which she clearly isn’t given her ambition and success (to compromise it all in such a flagrant manner.

This goes back to the point I made about this before as concerns transvestites being legally allowed to use the bathroom of their chosen gender. Given the idea, it makes “perfect sense” that some pervert might exploit the situation and dress as a woman in order to stare at women on the toilet. However, were that deductive process followed through, it would come to realize that either way a stall would always be involved. If it were woman that chose the male gender, they would not be able to use a urinal. They would have to use a stall. And if it was a male that chose the female gender, the stall is the only option in the women’s room. Therefore, the pervert would either have to be peaking over the partition or standing in front of stall staring directly at a woman going to the bathroom. Either way, lewd conduct laws would kick in.

Still, for the right-winger both scenarios work because of that “perfect sense” that allows them to shut the deductive process down and exist comfortably in their own little alternative reality.

“These are all stories reported widely in the core sites of the right wing, and polls report that substantial numbers of Republicans claim to believe these stories— whether because they actually believe them factually or because claiming to believe them is part of what identifies them as Republicans. 58 But all of these seem so ludicrously implausible that it is difficult to imagine that they are in fact intended to make people believe them, rather than simply to create a profound disorientation and disconnect from any sense that there is anyone who actually “knows the truth.” Left with nothing but this anomic disorientation, audiences can no longer tell truth from fiction, even if they want to. They are left with nothing but to choose statements that are ideologically congenial or mark them as members of the tribe. And in a world in which there is no truth, the most entertaining conspiracy theory will often win.”

This is very similar to a really interesting point made by Jason Stanley in How Fascism Works. He pointed out that if you really look into the depth of it, most conspiracy theories don’t really seem to be created to be believed. He pointed out, for example, the pizzagate situation in which a guy walked into a Washington DC pizzeria with a gun to investigate reports that Hillary Clinton was running a child prostitution ring. What he noted was how many of the people that were actually propagating this conspiracy theory demeaned the guy for acting on the report. It’s as if they put it out there not to be believed, but to create an association that tarnishes the repetition of the individual. And it makes “perfect sense” that this approach would be easily embraced by someone who has anchored their identity in being a republican or right-winger.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:19 pm
by d63
Intent: Today I want to tell a dark tale about the strange precarious situation we find ourselves in under the emerging fascism we are experiencing in America under Trump and the UK under Boris Johnson by making a comparison between our situation and that of Nazi Germany while noting the primary difference: the fact that we are the ones engaging in the evil this time.

But before I go on, I want to digress into the very Darwinism that NAZI Germany appealed to. The difference between then and now is that Germany was mainly working under the old school understanding of evolution via ‘survival of the fittest’ that resulted in a Spenserian Social Darwinism. However, as more evolved evolutionary scientists have come to understand, it’s not so much a matter of survival of the fittest (that which was based on the metaphysics of power (as eliminating unsustainable systems: the Metaphysics of Efficiency.

And if you think about it, the primary systems that are unsustainable are those that are embracing the emerging fascism in America and the UK. This should be clear from the very fact that many of the people who are embracing it are also engaged in climate change denial because they are afraid the laws we create to address it might take a little power from them in the form of money. In fact, the whole notion of white nationalism is about a desperate attempt to maintain power under a changing demographic.

The scary thing about it is that when it was NAZI Germany and Imperial Japan that were engaging in fascist evil, there was a clear demarcation and it was a lot easier to engage in the elimination of ‘unsustainable systems’. But now we’re dealing with it working within the very system we inhabit. And we would like to think that democracy (being a bloodless form of force (might save us. But just as NAZI Germany did under Hitler, these fascists are working the democratic system in order to destroy it.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:52 pm
by Jakob
You're misguided dude.

You've probably voted for an actual genocidal maniac.

She turned Libya into a slave market. On top of a lot more of actual genocide.
Trump stopped much of the genocide.

Mistakes here are not really forgivable.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 8:27 pm
by d63
The main problem with talking about the semiotics of fascism (as I have (is that it only becomes so within the context of a fascist experiment. In other words, fascism (much like Capitalism (tends to wind its spindly little fingers into everything that might serve its purposes, things that under different circumstances would seem, for the most part, benign and innocuous.

To give you an example: I have, before, brought up the phenomenon of the ‘hot chick’ we often see on media as an evolutionary step up in the fascist process from fascism-proper’s emphasis on the wife’s submission to her ‘domestic duties’. And put in mind here that the hot chick is capitalism’s addition to the fascist process to the extent that while it offers women that have more options than the subjugated housewife, it also offers the fantasy of turning such a woman into one. The perfect life; right?

(And here I would bring in the connection of Eva Braun who was Hitler’s hot chick who was also a bit of a party girl. And I would also ask you to think: Melonia (even Eva Peron).)

And nowhere does this become more obvious than these shows you see where hot chicks are working on cars: the perfect convolution of beauty as we understand it under Capitalism and the hyper-masculinity that is associated with fascism proper. I mean what man wouldn’t fantasize about making such a woman his subservient and doting wife? And what extremes would that man submit to in order to make it so?

That said, we might concede that there is some merit to Hannah Arendt’s assertion of the role that the banal plays in fascist experiments even though some thinkers (such as Žižek (have tried to move beyond it. It seems to me a perfectly working explanation as to how the semiotics of it can evolve like they do.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2019 8:27 pm
by d63
Dear Diary Moment 9/23/2019:

It started with this brain fart or what I refer to as a poetic flight:

“The so-called meritocracy is complete fucking nonsense!!!!!! I mean how much harder is a Buffet or Gates working than, say, some mother or father working three jobs to take care of a sick child?”

And given the drive-by nature of it, mistakes were made. But at worst, I would consider it an informed blunder in that I still stand by it but have come to recognize (thanks to those who responded (and there were a few –hostile ones even (there were some blind spots in my thinking. But then that’s how we tweak and tighten our offerings and reasoning (our conceptual models), right?

The main plot twist came with the introduction of the issue of “value”. (Thanks Grady! Thanks Alex!) And at first I resisted it (rejected it even (as it suggested some kind of Libertarian/Robert Nozick nonsense. However, in my defense, the issue of value was presented to me as if value and merit were interchangeable.

But then I did as I always do and went to work that night, drove around, and thought about the relationship of the two terms. And I had to since a respected ally of mine, Alex, made this argument:

“D Edward Tarkington value has everything to do with it. Who deserves more if I spend the same amount of effort shitting into a hole as you do digging it out? Should we each be paid the same amount just because we put in the same effort? Or, does it matter what we're doing with our effort, whether it's directed towards the progress or detriment of clients or our societies?”

What I came to recognize was that there is a connection between merit and value to the extent that any effort must be working towards value in order to constitute merit. For instance, some people put a lot of effort into theft. But that would hardly constitute merit in most circles –even though it could constitute merit in a circle of thieves. Still, they are two distinct terms. And we can know this by the fact that value can exist without merit. For instance, a beautiful Midwestern girl takes a California vacation and, while walking down the beach in a bikini, gets discovered by an established photographer. He talks her into a 2 hour shoot and, before long, she is making way more money than the guy working 3 jobs in order to get his sick child healthcare. We can, of course, argue she has “value”. But we can hardly attribute merit to her since she hardly achieved her advantage through effort.

Furthermore, what we can assess from Alex’s and Grady’s argument is that what they mean by the term “value” is value to us as CONSUMERS, a very specific form of value. And, as we all know, there are way more criterion of “value” than that.

I stand by my original statement.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:30 pm
by d63
Today on MSNBC, a guest on AM Joy who happened to be a Trump/Republican apologist brought up a point that was actually kind of useful as concerns the hard right Republican MO. He argued that if the Democrats pursue the impeachment of Trump, it could work against them in the next election since it will come down to choice between their hatred of Trump and their hatred of government. And there is something to be said for this. And not only can we see this in the hard right, but we can also see it in the pseudo-intellectual pop hipster cynicism of the left.

“Hillary ain’t much better so I think I’ll just sit this one out or vote for Earth Mother Jill Stein.”

But I attribute this to intellectual laziness among those who want to think they’re enlightened. On top of that, there are those that could really care less about being enlightened and are more focused on the day to day, but tend to go where the wind blows them, what appeals to them coming from whatever ideologue that happens to come around and say something that resonates with them. But either way, it comes down to a failure to recognize how government actually works, the imperatives it tends to work under, and why we can’t always get what we want from it.

There are two approaches to a democratic system: the democratic and the Utopian. The democratic approach recognizes what any Poly Scy 101 class will tell you: that politics is the art of mediating diverse interests. And it recognizes that, because of that, we have to work towards what we want in incremental ways. The Utopian, on the other hand, wants everything right now and exactly in the way they want it to be. And that’s what we are dealing with right now: the very source of our cynicism.

And excuse the shameless opportunism at work here (my pimping of my golden egg), but this comes down to a Metaphysics of Efficiency as compared to a Metaphysics of Power. Once again, the cornerstone of it is Efficiency Potential= Resources/expectations which simply means that nothing can reduce efficiency like raising expectations or lowering resources while nothing, inversely, could increase it like increasing resources or lowering expectations.

So let’s take a really good look at how the high demands (the high expectations (of the Utopian approach has affected the system under which we all live and work, how it has made our democratic system more efficient –that is given the resources available to it. How efficient has our political system really been under Trump who is seeking to meet the high Utopian expectations of his followers?

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Mon Sep 30, 2019 9:16 pm
by d63
Dear Diary Moment 9/30/2019:

Reading Sylvia Plath’s Ariel, I now see a different expression of the dialectic described in Arthur Lupia’s Uniformed: Why People Know so Little About Politics and What We Can Do About It. It basically runs from information to knowledge to competence. The term ‘information’ is almost self-explanatory (but more than that as I will explain below). The term ‘knowledge’ correlates with the bricolage at work as we collect that information and connect it. (And what is important to understand here (that is for reference) is that the process of building a knowledge base roughly correlates with the physical process of neuroplasticity.) Furthermore, it is important to know that this knowledge base is always intertwined with our more base-of-the-brain responses to the environment we are attempting to negotiate. Competence (as compared to intellect which is basically about the ability to process information into competent acts (is about the ability to fulfill a desired task.

And we see this dialectic at work in Plath’s Ariel. What she basically did was collect a lot of information about poetry through reading as well as a lot of personal, emotional responses to things. And the ‘more than that’ of the information phase was the lines she ran repeatedly ran through her head because they gave her pleasure: expressed how she felt. (I know this from having written poetry myself.) And she kept doing this until her knowledge base was filled to the point of bursting.

And as Keats pointed out: poetry results from the overflow of emotions. (Although I would boldly (perhaps arrogantly (revise that to an overflow of emotion and knowledge.) And Ariel was an expression of Plath’s competence as a poet built off of the information/knowledge process set off by her divorce to Ted Hughes –that which likely overwhelmed her knowledge base with emotional information.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 8:25 pm
by d63
As I am finding through my immersion in Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains, one of the things that the Koch brothers recognized (much as Naomi Klein did in The Shock Doctrine (was that there was or is no way that their Neo-Liberal agenda could be forwarded by democratic means. There was/is simply no way you could convince the majority of the voter pool that the best way to go is to give the 1% of our population everything they want. Therefore, as David Koch argued, the only way to go about it is to manipulate the “rules of the game” and exploit the technology available to them via their financial resources and the think tanks those resources created.

(And yes: these people are that dangerous, far more so than the what-about-ism aimed at the left. I mean how much influence does PETA and Vegan societies really have on our political process?)

The thing we have to understand here, though, is that the technology Koch is talking about also involves the language games at work in our political discourses. It basically comes down to doxa or socially programmed responses to socially programmed cues. Take, for instance, the term “liberty”. Sounds liberal and reasonable enough; right? However, when this term is used by the right, what it almost always means is the liberty to exploit others for their own gain. In fact, this very term was used in the Antebellum south by John C. Calhoun to defend the rights of plantation owners to have slaves. And in the context of modern Capitalism, it is used to maintain the right of oligarchs to keep accumulating wealth and power, even if it comes at the expense of the liberty of others.

And I bring this up because I think it about time for Democrats to start taking a few pointers from the right-wing playbook and start taking back a few of the terms they claim to have some monopoly on –including those that the right shamelessly stole from progressives in the first place. They need to make clear that the right does NOT have a monopoly on terms like “liberty” or even “self determinism”. In fact, the right doesn’t even have respectable claim to a respect for market forces. We all know that the market economy can be a useful tool. But that’s the difference: we see it as a tool whereas the right sees it as some kind of religion or grand narrative.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:39 pm
by d63
Today I want to make a couple of deeper points concerning a brain fart I posted a couple of days ago:

“Milton Friedman? Hayek? Ayn Rand? Alan Greenspan? Robert Nozick? Sure they were intelligent people. The only problem is what they dedicated their intellect to: sucking the dick of the rich in the hope that they'll give us our fair share.”

And please bear with my process.

First of all, what we are looking at here is an example of what I’ve been on about as concerns the model offered by Arthur Lupia in Uninformed: Why People Know so Little About Politics and What We Can Do About It. And, once again, it has to do with the dialectic he offered that starts with information which moves into knowledge which moves into competence. Furthermore, it shows why it is far more accurate to talk about competence than it is intellect which is more about one’s capacity to process information into a knowledge base that can suit a given need.

And we see this at work with the examples I offer above. They are clearly intelligent in that they show a high capacity to process knowledge for the sake of a given end. But the only thing they show themselves competent at is offering alibis for those that have an economic advantage. And in the process of doing so, they show themselves competent at succeeding by basically sucking that corporate dick, by acting as true believers. Where they show their selves completely incompetent, however, is in a democratic discourse that generally assumes the goal of reaching a compromise that will work for everyone involved. They basically come into the language game un-armed as it were. And it’s why they have to turn to the cheap and mean spirited tactics that they do. I mean when all else fails, turn to what you’re competent at; right? Which segues to my second point:

I now realize that Deleuze and Guatarri’s opposition to “state philosophy” may have been a little misleading. It makes it seem as if government has been the problem all along when the examples of FreeMarketFundamentalism I offer above are the only voices I hear offering conformist arguments –that is when government is the only realistic check and balance we can hope for against corporate power.

It was never “state philosophy” that was a problem that needed to be addressed –at least not as of the the time of D & G. And they should have known that given their Marxist influence. It was, rather, corporate philosophy.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sun Oct 13, 2019 7:34 pm
by d63
One of the weird things about philosophy (especially of the Continental kind (is how it tends to have some of its most compelling effects when you get away from it for a while, much as I have had to do because of my present political situation in America. And, reading Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, I’m starting to get a more crystallized sense of the implications as concerns Deleuze & Guatarri’s sense of conceptual play for the sake of creating concepts at work in What Is Philosophy.

One of the things that Maclean points to throughout the book as concerns the main player in the history of the right, James McGill Buchanan (not the political foot soldier we all know of in James Buchanan), is how he tended to work with conceptual models and thought experiments while paying little attention to the actual empirical effects of his policies. And we tend to see this at work in most theorists of the FreeMarketFundamentalist right including Rand, Friedman, Nozick, as well as Greenspan.

Now do not get me wrong here: my intention is not to establish a false equivalency between D & G’s understanding of process and that of right-wing FreeMarketFundamentalists; nor is it to engage in the informal fallacy of creating a slippery slope between D & G’s conceptual play and the stealth activities of the right. That would be to succumb to the analytic fantasy of finding some one-size-fits-all solution or what Rorty referred to as some over-riding epistemological system by which we can judge the accuracy of our statements.

My point, rather, is to bring out the difference between what right-wing libertarians are doing and what continentals and pragmatics such as Rorty were doing. Right-wing libertarians, because of their personal investment and self interest in their conceptual schemes, tend not to test their models against reality. They can only be right because they sound right –that is to them at least.

On the left, however, there is always that pragmatic overlap between thinkers like D & G and Rorty that obliges them to test their conceptual schemes against reality in order to see if they fulfill the pragmatic criteria of actually working.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2020 8:05 pm
by d63
“Most Classical economists believed in the so-called Say’s Law, which states that supply creates its own demand. The reasoning was that every economic activity generates incomes (wages, profits, etc.) equivalent to the value of its output. Therefore, it was argued, there can be no such thing as a recession due to a shortfall in demand. Any recession had to be due to exogenous factors, such as a war or the failure of a major bank. Since the market was incapable of naturally generating a recession, any government attempt to counter it, say, through deliberate deficit spending, was condemned as disturbing the natural order. This meant that recessions that could have been cut short or made milder became prolonged in the days of Classical economics.” -Chang, Ha-Joon. Economics: The User's Guide (Kindle Locations 1291-1296). BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING. Kindle Edition.

Here again, I return to the point I have been trying to make for some time as concerns the relationship between the exchange value of the products we buy and the buying power and demand it creates. FreeMarketFundamentalists would have you believe that exchange value equals buying power. They work by the formula exchange value=demand & buying power. (And note that I use the symbol “&” as compared to “+”. I do so because there is a lot of overlap and interchangeability between the two which would not lead the cumulative effect the “+” symbol would suggest –something I’m certain FreeMarketFundamentalists would agree with.) But if this were true, buying would just defuse and sweep through the population and everyone would get they need and even want within reason.

But that simply is not the way it works. The important thing to understand here is that the rich do not shop at Walmart: the kind of place that most people derive their income from and gives them the buying power to buy the products they participate in producing and distributing. What rather happens is that as the money that comes from exchange value moves to the top, the buying power and demand it creates contracts. This is because as people get richer, they turn away from large scale producers that employ large numbers of people to high end boutiques: exclusive outlets that employ far fewer people and, thereby, creates less buying power. On top of that, we have to consider how much of that excess buying power goes into savings where it just becomes static.

Of course, the FreeMarketFundamentalist will pose the argument that the rich will offset that through investment. But the important thing to understand here is that investment doesn’t create a strong economy, demand does. It may create a short-term boost through the people it hires: the buying power it produces. But that buying power created can never match the exchange value it produces. In other words: all the investment in the world won't do shit unless people have money to buy the product.

(This, BTW, is why we live in a debt society in which it is not a matter of how much you have as compared to others, but rather how much others owe you.)

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2020 8:07 pm
by d63
One of the things Ha-Joon Chang does in his user guide for Economics is describe the various schools of economic thought. He, of course, covers the Austrian School. And one thing that I discovered is that I, as a social democrat, actually agree with them on one point: that people are not always rational actors and that there is always an element of randomness involved in the history of our economy. Where I depart with them is their conclusions and prescriptions. And social democrats need to understand this and articulate it to the public a little better if they are to have the success I think they’re capable of.

The problem with the Austrian School’s conclusions is that they’re letting the perfect get in the way of the better. Since randomness and complexity is ubiquitous throughout our economic system, why attempt any government interference in the market at all? This, of course, is the false dichotomy we social democrats deal with everyday, even among left of center media outlets such as MSNBC which grilled Elizabeth Warren on whether she was a “Capitalist” or not.

And I bring this up because Social Democrats seem to assume the Austrian School’s point without being forthright about it. They seem to recognize that there is no way the central planning of a purely socialist economy could possibly work. This why they tend to work in more incremental ways. The problem is that they have, thus far, failed to concede that point and left most people with the impression that it is an either/or dichotomy. I mean God forbid any Social Democrat admit any overlap with a FreeMarketFundamentalist.

And it seems to me that now is the best time for them to get that point across by pointing to that other side of that coin (or double edge sword if you will (as expressed in the collection of essays: Can it Happen Here? In it, they make the valid point that while Trump might try to turn America into some kind of authoritarian state, the system is just too complex for him to pull it off. (He, in a weird sense, has mostly attempted to engage in a kind of central planning centered on him.) And thus far our recent history has shown that to be correct. It has been our complex bureaucracy that has resisted him at every turn. Therefore, it would seem imperative upon and beneficial to Social Democrats to show their intellectual prowess by publicly expressing their hesitation when it comes to “central planning” in any general sense.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:00 pm
by d63
“Production has been seriously neglected in the mainstream of economics, which is dominated by the Neoclassical school. For most economists, economics ends at the factory gate (or increasingly the entrance of an office block), so to speak. The production process is treated as a predictable process, pre-determined by a ‘production function’, clearly specifying the amounts of capital and labour that need to be combined in order to produce a particular product. Insofar as there is interest in production, it is at the most aggregate level – that of the growth in the size of the economy. The most famous refrain along this line, coming from the debate on US competitiveness in the 1980s, is that it does not matter whether a country produces potato chips or micro-chips. There is little recognition that different types of economic activity may bring different outcomes – not just in terms of how much they produce but more importantly in terms of how they affect the development of the country’s ability to produce, or productive capabilities. And in terms of the latter effect, the importance of the manufacturing sector cannot be over-emphasized, as it has been the main source of new technological and organizational capabilities over the last two centuries.” -Chang, Ha-Joon. Economics: The User's Guide (Kindle Locations 3067-3076). BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING. Kindle Edition.

Here again, we return to the problem with the Neo-Liberal/Republican/Libertarian agenda: this erroneous notion that an expanding economy will solve all problems. Or as their John F Kennedy, Reagan, put it:

“A rising tide raises all boats.”

This is why they put, above the interests of ALL parties involved, the interests of the rich. And this is why they seem completely oblivious to the very real effects of their policies on very real people. They focus on quantifiable matters such as the GDP without so much as a consideration of how individuals are actually doing: the quality of their lives. Take, for instance, a point made by Robert Reich. If you suddenly lose a union job in manufacturing that was paying 20$/hr. and had to maintain your quality of life with 10$/hr., that would mean that you would have to work 16 hours a day. But as if that wasn’t bad enough (and to add insult to injury), you would find yourself having to pay for things you didn’t have to before. Instead of cooking your own meals, you would to buy them from restaurants. Instead of mowing your own lawn, you would have to hire a lawn service. In other words, you would be increasing the GDP while significantly decreasing the quality of your life.

Furthermore, what Chang is getting at here is that manufacturing (despite all claims to it being a “post-industrial society” (is still more important than the neo-liberals would have you believe. And as much as I agree with him, this is where I would depart with Chang in that he didn’t include it. If you think about it, a thriving economy depends on people like you and me being able to walk into a store or shop and being able to exchange money for goods or services. In fact, I have to wonder if a service isn’t secondary to goods –somehow dependent on the production of goods. Yet the Neo-Liberals act as if we can somehow carry on under an economy that no longer seems anchored (a kind of Simulacrum if you will (in the manufacturing of goods –that is given that about 40% of our economy is based on finance.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2020 8:46 pm
by d63
“Changing minds is essential to any revolution, then. Social shifting is about changing people’s minds, I’d say, because with peoples’ minds come their goals, and so their lives. And the battle for minds and hearts is a battle for aims and ideals.” –Bartley, Grant. The Metarevolution (2nd Edition) (Kindle Locations 1167-1169). Punked Books. Kindle Edition.

I hesitated to post this. (If I have, you're reading it.) I originally started out with this immersion in Bartley's book with the intent of taking a stealth approach in going thoroughly through the book and submitting an article. But as I vacillate on the choice to click the post button, I can’t help but consider the possibility that taking the stealth approach might be a little like ambushing him and not giving him a chance to respond to any commentary I might have on the book. I mean I am commenting and playing off of what he clearly put a lot of heart and soul into. Plus that, I have always considered what I do on these boards a process in public (consider this Dear Diary Moment 4/17/2020) and it would give me a chance to develop my thoughts on it before I actually sit down to write the article.

That said, Bartley is right here. We’re not just going to vote our problems away. It will require a paradigm shift, a complete change in sensibility. For instance, in America, we would be a lot better off with the social democrat position of Sanders. But as a Social Democrat myself, I recognize that now is not the time. I recognize that before we actually institute the radical change that Bernie represents, we have to convince a little less than ½ of American voters to stop hearing psycho-shrieks every time anything something remotely Marxist is mentioned. And that holds a lot better odds than the above 50% we were looking at 10 years ago.

That said, I want to comment on another quote:

“Well, we clearly need some sort of revolution, even if just to free ourselves from the numbing effects of the conditioning misinforming our heads. We need more freedom because we don’t even know we need more freedom! (If you think you live in a world of optimal freedom, think at least twice. What does that freedom amount to, economically and intellectually? What are its boundaries and limitations? Generally we’re free to seek success as socioeconomically defined, which is currently a very limiting condition, as it means expansionist materialism.)”

There is a lot more to freedom than a choice between Coke or Pepsi.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2020 12:01 am
by MagsJ
..and you’re as boring and dull as ever.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2020 7:22 pm
by d63
“The central problem with our ideologies and their ideals is a problem with our thinking about them, or rather, with the extent of our lack of thinking about them. We endure bad basic ideas as individuals or as societies because we lack effective criticism of those ideas. Thus, one of the core ideas motivating this manifesto is that uncriticality in ideological thinking is the source of profound sociocultural problems, including the paradox of revolution. We could therefore say that the way we respond to the continuing need for fundamental change needs to fundamentally change. Since this deeper change will possibly never be finished as long as history isn’t, it would therefore be eternal revolution. So ideologically-critical thought recommends ideologically-critical thought as an eternal revolution which keeps overcoming the deficiencies of our limited revolutions. This eternal revolution is the metarevolution.” -Bartley, Grant. The Metarevolution (2nd Edition) (Kindle Locations 2978-2987). Punked Books. Kindle Edition.

Ultimately, what this comes down to is recognizing the distinction between the democratic and utopian approach to political, economic, and social policy. The democratic approach recognizes what any Poly-Sci 101 class will tell you: that politics is the art of mediating diverse interests. The consequence of this is that the individual accepts that the only real and effective democracy is one in which everyone has things they like while dealing with things they might not. The utopian approach, on the other hand, wants it all and they want it the way they want it. That is when, regardless of the ideology or belief system involved, things get dangerous.

Re: Public Journal:

PostPosted: Fri Apr 24, 2020 7:58 pm
by d63
Guys: as concerns Trump’s suggestion that we swallow disinfectant, we need to keep one important thing in mind:


And don’t get me wrong here. I’m not being condescending. I took it seriously too –at first. But I mostly got a laugh out of it in the sense that I was fooled into thinking that he actually believed what he was saying. But such a statement is just way too absurd to think that anyone, even Trump, would believe it. And I even saw highly intelligent people on MSNBC suggest that his statement could actually lead someone to ingest disinfectant.

I think one of the most enlightening books I’ve listened to on Trump is James Poniewozik’s An Audience of One: Television, Donald Trump, and the Politics of Illusion. And I highly recommend it as an antidote to the BS (in very much the Frankfurt sense of it (that spews out of Trump’s mouth. The thing to understand about Trump is that throughout his career, he has come to learn that what ultimately wins the day is chaos, disruption, conflict, and provocation. It is his secret sauce to success. And if you look at it, you will see this has been at work throughout his career and lies at the very heart of his success with The Apprentice.

And what he did with that statement was apply the same secret sauce he used for reality TV to politics. He basically baited us into an over-reaction then backed away by holding up his hands and saying he was only being sarcastic. Now imagine how pleasing that must have been to his supporters. The joke’s on us; right?

However, this is not to say the man’s not dangerous. As Poniewozik also points out: one of the most notable aspects of dictators is their ability to get people to accept a lie even if they don’t believe it. Note, for instance, a Trump supporter who stood outside of a Trump rally and pined wishfully for a day when he could go to the southern border on vacation, pay for 25$ for a permit, and get 50$ per confirmed kill. Then, when pressed on it, backed away, held up his hands, and claimed to only be joking. Now imagine anyone of you are with someone really attractive at a party and someone walks up to you and notes how hot your date is, claims to want to put their hands all over them and then, when you respond, holds up their hands and claims they were only joking. Would you take them at their word? Or would you recognize that they had basically baited you into a reaction that they could then mock?

Neither the truth nor reality matters to these people. All that matters to them is winning the language game by controlling the rules of it. And they only control those rules as long we over-react. This is why we have to do to them what we eventually learn to do with online trolls: thicken our skins and quit dignifying their nonsense by reacting to it and start analyzing and responding like the intelligent people we are.