Re-envisioning the FM website, becoming soldiers in the war for American’s future

Summary:  The FM website has changed in recent months.  This is an annoucement of that change.  This is what they call in serial fiction (e.g., TV,  comic books) a retroactive continuity (retcon).

This site was born as one providing analysis.  It’s readers were not satisfied, demanding solutions — and rightly so.  After months of evolution, we must know re-envision the purpose of the FM website.  The FM website was originally created as…

a discussion about geopolitics, broadly defined, from an American’s perspective.

On 20 August 2009 this site crossed the Rubicon from analysis into advocacy with You can end our war in Afghanistan, so now we add second line to its statement of purpose.  The FM website is…

a discussion about geopolitics, broadly defined, from an American’s perspective, about ways to reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold.

Here is my view of the what that means, one path to reforming America.

The first step:  understanding — and revulsion

The first step to reform is not knowledge.  Not logic.  But rage, contempt at what we have become.  From that other things can flow, good or bad depending on our character.

Weber points us toward Nietzsche as the common source for serious thinkers of the twentieth century. He also tells us what the single fundamental issue is: the relation between reason, or science, and the human good. When he speaks of happiness and the last man, he does not mean that the last man is unhappy, but that his happiness is nauseating. An experience of profound contempt is necessary in order to grasp our situation, and our capacity for contempt is vanishing.

Weber’s science presupposes this experience, which we would call subjective. After having encountered it in Nietzsche, he spent the greater part of his scholarly life studying religion in order to understand the non-contemptible, those who esteem or revere and are therefore not self-satisfied, those who have values …

— From The Closing of the American Mind, chapter “Values”, Allan Bloom (1987)

This is the opposite of most proposals offered today, which suggest blaming the world, the rich, the poor, terrorists, foreigners.  Or our leaders, who don’t kiss our boo-boos and cut the cake unfairly.  Everybody is responsible, except us.  Folks proposing such views suggest that we adopt the attitude of alarmed cattle.  Or mice. 

Posts about America’s spirit:

The next step — anger

“Anger is easy. Anger at the right person, at the right time, for the right reason, is difficult.”
— Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, book IV, chapter 5 (lightly paraphrased)

“Telemachus, now is the time to be angry.”
— Odysseus, when the time came to deal with the Suitors. From the movie The Odyssey (1997)

Anger is a dangerous tool — stoking us to take action, but a bad master.   I believe is the only path to reform, except in the face of disaster.

The third step:  responsibility

We must accept responsibility for our fate, our lives.  Others might be enemies or obstacles, but we must stand upright to begin walking the road to reform.

The next steps…

What comes next I do not know, and cannot even imagine.  I have confidence in our judgement, that our next steps will be the right ones.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the following:

Some solutions, ways to reform America

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  2. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
  3. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008  
  4. Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  5. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  6. Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008
  7. What happens next? Advice for the new President, part one., 17 October 2008
  8. What to do? Advice for the new President, part two., 18 October 2008
  9. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  10. How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
  11. The first step on the road to America’s reform, 29 May 2009
  12. Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…, 16 October

Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

33 thoughts on “Re-envisioning the FM website, becoming soldiers in the war for American’s future

  1. Our current fate is the result of between 64 and 95 years of adaptive social processes. We are this way for the same reason that VHS won over Betamax: In the measures THAT WE ACTUALLY VALUE, this is the most ‘energy’ efficient. Anger and revulsion is an appetizer, but to truly change, we will have to endure a re-instrumentation of our daily lives. History suggests that such a re-instrumentation was never undertaken voluntarily. . . and rationally so. “Why would I,” nay, “How could I redistribute my energies in a way that leaves me with less of what I have been raised to think is important?” The consequences are, like they were in Japan in 1944, and Germany in 1943, are unthinkable.

    The question is not ‘How?’ The question we will have to answer before if we are to voluntarily overcome what we have become is ‘Why?’

    For your cause to succeed, you must re-commit the Long March. And how would someone with 2 cars, and cable television willingly undertake that?
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    FM reply: I don’t understand. Many of the key inflection points in history were taken voluntarily — even taken with the known liklihood of great heartship. Since wars are the best-known of these events, consider the 13 colonies revolt against the Crown — and the South’s revolt against the Union. Neither forced, both taken by prosperous people (by the standards of that time and place).

  2. “…. about ways to reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold.”

    Bravo!!!

    Fine analysis without a call to action seems like a bit of a shame. A natural progression that some find themsleves drawn to.
    Honorable, sir.

    I re-read “About Fabuius Maximus and this Blog” and came across this:

    “Are these things discussed here good or bad? Please consult a priest or philosopher for answers to such questions. This author only discusses what was, what is, and what might be.”

    Maybe a little bit of a priest and/or philosopher is in this Blog and appropriate?

    The “opening of the American Mind” is essential and it is tremendous to have abother place dedicated to such.

    Thank you. Greg

  3. What a wonderful goal: “ways to reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold,”–or put another way– how to build a structure of democratic assertion that is strong enough to contest many elements of our politics and culture while simultaneously drawing on other elements of that same politics and culture for our strength and guidance.

    Democracy begins with the attempt to have it.

  4. Earlier this year, you posted a very interesting link to a history of the Soviet war in Afghanistan, (“The simple, fool-proof plan for victory in Afghanistan“, FM, June 1, 2009). Toward the end of the linked article, it says:

    The force, however destitute in materiel and numbers, that can rely on the moral qualities of strong faith, stubborn determination, individualism and unending patience, will always be the winner. Although these may not be the optimum qualities stressed in Western armies, they prevail in guerrilla-style warfare.

    This may be more or less a recommendation for someone who wants to affect the politics of their own nation, but isn’t politically connected. Especially the determination & the patience. You might need the patience of Sisyphus.

  5. I also commend your courage and foresight, FM.

    But, fair warning, I have already traveled down the road you describe and came out at a different destination than the one you envision. If you can get enough influential people to travel this road and arrive at your chosen destination and successfully reform this country I will be unstinting in my efforts to get you recognized as saint and cite this as a miracle. Or more appropriately, about 10 miracles.

    I wish you the best and will support your efforts as best I can, the road ahead is long and difficult.
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    FM reply: Just another guy pushing the wagon. Individually de minimus. Collectively we have great force.

  6. In Olaf Stevenson’s book ‘The Last Men’ the 20th incarnation of man (the last men) were a bunch of self satisfied jack offs, who seemed to spend there time looking at the sweep of human history as a sad struggle leading up to the crowning glory of their present Civilization. Perhaps he read Nietzsche too.

  7. All the best to you on your new course.I think you will find solution seeking far more gratifying and useful than analysis,and far more challenging! I have complete faith that you are up for the task.Best regards to you and yours for the holidays!

  8. Me: “You might need the patience of Sisyphus.”

    Sorry, don’t mean to make being political seem like a drag. It’s not, and can even be quite a blast! As long as you are willing to do a lot of losing.

    On the bigger picture, it has been cool to see your blog transform from analysis to advocacy to being on a mission. I’m glad you have made this change. Good luck, and there’s nothing wrong with “retconning”. We all do it in one way or another. We all change, just as naturally as the weather, and when we change our reasons change with us.

  9. Preach it, Fabs! Not merely this nation, but every human within the nation lacks a sense of purpose – once upon a time we had the myth of Manifest Destiny and unimaginable wealth trapped in the hills of the Western Territories, but now our dreams are scaled back to that of owning homes and pimping their kitchens out to impress the Jones. Class competition is not a driving force for an innovative nation, but a recipe for moral decay as we compete our way into ballooning loans and ever-larger televisions.

    I push the “return to space” narrative. The short version is this: we’re only constrained by local resources if we refuse to look beyond our planet. It is possible for humans to live in space if we can overcome the cost of escaping the gravity well. We will only build a space elevator by lowering it down. We’ll only build such a structure with materials extracted from low-gravity zones of the solar system by autonomous robots.

    To that end, I advocate that every person dedicate their lives to the full spectrum of the sciences, or a speciality within. We will need habitat designers that understand how to design self-sustaining ecologies (and so support biologists and ecologists), engineers to build the next evolution of the skyscraper (in space, natch) and the artists and artisans that make modern civilization such a pleasant place to live.

    The unifying project I propose is a robust effort to preserve our genome and our planet’s stunning biodiversity in the face of catastrophic climate change and local resource exhaustion. Many are the druids heralding the end of western industrial civilization, but I hold that dedicating our fantastic powers of innovation and creation and knowledge discovery to the problem of preserving ourselves and the rest of the planet will pay off for those who believe and take part.

    Not to mention, there’s gold in them thar hills.
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    FM reply: But what should those of us do who don’t believe in “catastrophic climate change and local resource exhaustion”?

  10. Geopolitical reform intersects with counterculture and “green heresy”:

    Note: some time ago, Stewart Brand (founder of the Whole Earth Catalog, and The Well, the first BBS/social networking site) wrote that his father’s libertarian influences were the foundation of his ideas. “Talks Stewart Brand proclaims 4 environmental ‘heresies’“, Ted – ideas worth spreading, June 2009 (video and transcript) — excerpt:

    The man who helped usher in the environmental movement in the 1960s and ’70s has been rethinking his positions on cities, nuclear power, genetic modification and geo-engineering. This talk at the US State Department is a foretaste of his major new book, sure to provoke widespread debate.

    About Stewart Brand: Since the counterculture Sixties, Stewart Brand has been a critical thinker and innovator who helped lay the foundations of our internetworked world. also see his website

    An earlier (2006) article on Stewart Brand’s 4 “Environmental Heresies” {Conservation Magazine, April-June 2006} — Summary: The Green Movement (and Green economy) will be driven by urban slum culture in developing countries. The center of global power will shift away from europe/usa within a generation or two. Depopulation is a bigger problem than overpopulation. Cities are more “green” (and better in general) than rural villages. This directly contradicts the “spiritual” (romanticist) notion that rural life is better. Nuclear power is the only viable solution to global warming (which is mainly caused by coal pollution). Solar/wind are only supplemental. Genetic engineering (of foods) can be part of the “green” movement/economy.

    Bye!

  11. Give or take an invented climate catastrophe, we will absolutely certainly hit a resource crunch in raw materials within my lifetime. Human-driven resource extractors (counting from the medieval era and stretching back to 4500-5000 BC in the cases of gold and copper) have found ALL the easy above-ocean mineral deposits. For example: over the past few decades copper extraction has gone from 30 tons of ore for one ton refined copper to 300 tons of ore for one ton refined product. No citation, but the story prevails across the whole field.

    The next big tech step in mining will be the giant ocean-floor hoover/drill/grinder machines and their associated refining and pollution-remediation outfitting. The ocean floor is littered with metals vented from deep below the crust dissolved into water and then precipitated out on top of the seafloor. To get a feeling for how I view our resource picture for the next forty years, I suggest you consider the historical trajectory of the oil extraction rate: a long, multi-year phase of low output from the sector as the technology develops and is standardized and workers are trained followed by large capital inflows and an explosion in the rate of extraction from ocean-floor deposits. The people involved in the mining industry are very aggressive about improving their technology and making buttloads of money from improvements, so I anticipate a rapid exhaustion of seafloor mineral reserves.

    It’s not so much a question of “belief” as you put it (the agw reference was for internal chuckles) but looking at where the raw materials our civilization runs on come from, and trying to understand their rate of extraction in relationship to reserves. If you think that we’ll exhaust our local (planetary) reserves, ever, it makes sense to plan for the future and make a land-grab out where the next big gold rush will be.

    Another way to think of it is in terms of energy in for minerals out: the cost of digging a ton of rock out of the hill is a function of the cost of the equipment, the cost of labor, and the cost of fuel. To set boundary conditions on the gedankenexperiment, the costs of labor and fuel do not decline, while the quality of the ore continually decreases. In this scenario, the cost per ton of mined material stays constant, but the smelters require successively more tons of rock to refine into a ton of finished product. Thus, the energy inputs for a ton of finished material will continually increase as ore quality decreases.

    In this scenario, it will eventually make sense to go get asteroids for their materials, but if we wait until the price pressure actually happens we might be totally screwed.
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    FM reply: Do have any analytical basis for this forecast? We’ve seen these forecasts repeatedly during the past century or so, all proven false. Price increases have a proven history of bringing forth new supplies, reducing demand, and driving substitution. Such as we’ve seen happen with copper (for details see the work of the great copper expert, Simon Hunt).

  12. “….it will eventually make sense to go get asteroids for their materials,….”

    My goodness.
    I would warmly suggest that you plan a respite.

    Travel to a desert area.
    Alone.
    Far away from any ambient light.
    Summer, preferably.
    Find a Yaqui Indian and beg some Peyote.
    Bring a nice bottle of Bordeaux, at least 7 years old.
    Watch the Milky Way and fall asleep
    Set an alarm to awaken at 2 AM.
    Drink the wine, eat the buttons and ponder or preferrably just WATCH the sky and the asteroids.

    Return when you wish.
    Take some Poetry Classes at the local Univ.
    Life is good.

    Asteroids are right where they need to be.
    But thx for the idea.

  13. Today, Juan Cole writes of {the “Top Ten Worst Things about the Bush Decade; Or, the Rise of the New Oligarchs“, 22 December 2009}:

    “… We have always had robber barons in American politics, but the Neoliberal moment created a new social class. At about 1.3 million adults, it is not too large to have some cohesive interests, and its corporations, lobbyists, and other institutions allow it to intervene systematically in politics. It owns 45 percent of the privately held wealth and is heading toward 50, i.e. toward a Banana Republic. Thus, we have a gutted fairness doctrine and the end of anti-trust concerns in ownership of mass media, allowing a multi-billionaire like Rupert Murdoch to buy up major media properties and to establish a cable television channel which is nothing but oligarch propaganda. They established ‘think tanks’ like the American Enterprise Institute, which hires only staff that are useful agents of the interests of the very wealthy, and which produce studies denying global climate change or lying about the situation in Iraq. Bush-Cheney were not simply purveyors of wrong-headed ideas. They were the agents of the one percent, and their policies make perfect sense if seen as attempts to advance the interests of this narrow class of persons. It is the class that owns our mass media, that pays for the political campaigns of ‘our’ (their) representatives, that gives us the Bushes and Cheneys and Palins because they are useful to them, and that blocks progressive reform and legislation with the vast war chest funneled to them by deep tax cuts that allow them to use essential public resources, infrastructure and facilities gratis while making the middle class pay for them.”

    It says here these people have to be peacefully overthrown, and that it will take an organized movement to do so. Unless we get their money out of the political temple, what you see is what you get. These are the oppressors and it is the use of money to control the government that has led us to this pass. Any such movement would have to be organized around principles rather than policies, as otherwise it will be easy to fragment along ideological grounds, especially when it comes to social issues.

  14. Thanks, Greg (and Juan Cole). “Anger and responsibility” are fine, but anger at what or whom? Xon’s comment at #1 is also right on. This will be a long process, involving education and awareness, sharpening of goals, building of coalitions, and acceptance of new conditions of living (which are being forced on us anyway, already.)

    “anger” and “responsibility” by themselves will only result in a hundred different political movements based on the immediately perceived self-interests of hundreds of separate groups. Populist anger is a pre-requisite of change, but it is also volatile and dangerous, if not directed in the right direction. Populist anger is already being exploited by the political right in ways that will simply reinforce our current social disfunction.

    The new movement should have only two goals: economic fairness, and real democracy. Everything else should be tabled until the first two are achieved.

    Side note: Funny that Juan Cole in the quote above omits any mention of Democrats as servants of the ruling class, even as the bank bailouts and healthcare “reform” show them to be even more blatant and craven than their predecessors.

  15. FM: Come on, now. You know well what the next step is. It is the tipping point for the country; TJ wrote correctly when he observed that a republic like ours needs a revolution every 20 years (generation) or so. We haven’t had one since 1865.
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    FM reply: Perhaps, but I don’t agree with Jefferson in this. Some of his thinking was nuts, as seen in his love of the French Revolution. Adams and Madison were IMO sounder thinkers.

  16. re: Comment #14 by senecal: “Side note: Funny that Juan Cole in the quote above omits any mention of Democrats as servants of the ruling class, even as the bank bailouts and healthcare “reform” show them to be even more blatant and craven than their predecessors.”

    Cole is a self-admitted advocate of what he calls “liberalism” (“nanny state” progressivism), and has pretty consistently deemed any kind of conservatism as “evil” as far as I can tell (presumably this would be expected at Univ. Michigan “the UC Berkeley of the midwest). fwiw: Cole’s father was in military intelligence.

    Cole frequently invokes the values of “classic liberalism”, such as free speech, and pays lip service to the need for critical thinking, rationalism, and so forth. This is somewhat selective, and is usually the basis for attacking either those that disagree with Cole’s ideological biases, or those that do bad scholarship, or some combination.

    Cole has long been an open advocate of ideas at the left/progressive end of the spectrum in the “culture wars”, even when he was a bahai, and was supposed to adhere to the (weird) bahai policy of “political/partisan non-involvement”.

    I’ve known Juan Cole since 1996, via some controversial reform/dissident bahai email lists, and met him once, briefly, at a bahai scholarship conference. I’m fairly sure that I met Cole in about 1973 a hippy/counterculture bahai youth meeting in Alexandria, Virgina. Cole was a central players in a group of bahai dissidents that waged an interesting, but mostly futile, campaign against a rising tide of authoritarianism/fundamentalism in bahai administration in the 80s/90s. Cole was more or less forced to resign from bahai by that administration because he refused to conform to their agenda.

    I believe that Cole cynically used a number of naive bahai scholars and supporters to further his reformist “agenda” (which some traditionalists saw as a power grab, or at least an attempt to form a counter-clique). Some have directly told me that they felt that Cole “played” them as part of a scheme to try to reform bahai administration. (Note: I was a supporter of the dissidents/reformers, but being libertarianish, parted ways when many of them attacked me for criticising their doctrinaire pc/left/liberalism/progressivism).

    Cole poses as an “objective” scholar, but endlessly engages in “spin”, some more obvious, and some less obvious. He is a source of lots of information, but careful analysis of his biases is needed to determine its real value.

    I would say that Cole is a very scholarly, borderline radical. He is a smart guy that has a vast array of knowedge at his disposal that he uses for some clever polemics.

    I do not consider myself qualified to comment on most of Cole’s expert scholarship, but felt that my personal experiences with his ideological tendencies might be interesting to the readers of this blog.

    Bias disclosure: I withdrew my bahai membership several years ago (after 30+ years) due to a series of increasingly bitter conflicts with bahai fundamentalists/authoritarians and inept bahai administrators. I had also begun to re-evaluate basic bahai theology after I started studying integral theory (Jean Gebser, Ken Wilber).

    bahai theology rests on an untenable set of attempted modifications of sufi/islamic belief to adapt to modernity.

    unfortunately the basic problem with all western religion remains: the requirement that the believer/follower adopts a servile attitude toward the “prophets”, which places the “believer” in a position of spiritual/psychological slavery to a religious/priest class that “protects” the “scripture” from “misinterpretation”. I believe that Buddhism, and other spiritual traditions that support the direct experience of transcendance, are more valid forms of practice than western religion’s systems of “prophetology”, which are basically a “middle man scam” (Ken Wilber).

    the fact that the bahai founding dads prohibited priesthood (ulama) has not stopped bahai administrators from adopting all of the corrupting “memes” of the preceeding religious elites as part of their efforts to create a movement that aims to establish world government.

    Cole is correct in some (maybe many) respects, but has some definite biases.
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    FM reply: Cole has biases, but who doesn’t? And objectivity is only a mask when discussing politics.

  17. Bill Moyers (of PBS TV) and other progressive media commentators are now dropping their deferential attitudes toward the liberal (Democratic party) elites by openly referring to them as “corporate democrats”, as opposed to the “real democrats” (progressives/populists). The “corporate” Democrats are supposedly “only” 40% of the Democratic Party(!), but they have gained power by getting in bed with the wealthy and powerful “oligarchy” (plutocracy).

    The whole problem of the “self disempowerment” of progressives (the 60s New Left movement) was explained in painful detail (as a form of atonement) by Rabbi Michael Learner (of Tikkun Magazine fame) in a book called “Surplus Powerlessness”. Learner openly admits that progressives have fallen into political traps laid by the “mainstream” of the leftist/liberal movement. As an alternative, Learner proposed a “Politics of Meaning” (spiritual capitalism) to counter the corrupting influences of the Clinton’s embrace of Corporatism as the means to gain power for the Democratic Party.

    George Orwell of course exposed the archetypal failures of the original forms of european leftism long before Learner wrote of the failures of the New Left (60s USA). For example, in “Homage to Catalunya”, Orwell described the cannibalistic infighting on the Left during the Spanish Civil War (1930s). Learner states quite clearly that because of the hostility/estangement of left/liberalism to spiritual issues, that the left opened itself to huge weaknesses as the people turned to the Right for alternatives.

    Now that both the Left and Right have proven themselves to be morally bankrupt in at least three major political “cycles” in the USA (since the 60s), the culture is on the brink of an abyss of meaning, morals and ethics. Bye!
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    FM reply: I agree. This is a common situation in history, when the two parties grow stagent and complacent — irrelevant to the current situation. It’s a situation with great promise — and peril.

  18. Also, to his credit: Rabbi Learner was kicked out of the White House by Hillary Clinton for criticising her embrace of Corporatism (oligarchy/plutocracy).

  19. FM reply to #16: “Cole has biases, but who doesn’t? And objectivity is only a mask when discussing politics.

    The older I get, the more I realize how true this is.

  20. I greatly appreciate FM and atheist’s excellent feedback. Apologies for blabbing at length:

    FM reply to #16: “Cole has biases, but who doesn’t? And objectivity is only a mask when discussing politics.
    Comment by atheist: “The older I get, the more I realize how true this is.”

    Further bias disclosure: in case it isn’t obvious, I was extremely dissapointed that Cole and the other leaders of bahai dissent did not have an effective strategy for bringing about much needed reforms within the bahai community (instead they attempted to create a leadership counter-clique rooted in failed 60s anti-authoritarianism and leftism). Having moved on from bahai, I see a parallel with wider politics.

    Cole states: “2. The September 11 attacks on New York and Washington by al-Qaeda, an organization that stemmed from the Reagan administration’s anti-Soviet jihad in the 1980s…”
    Comment: I guess Cole never watched “Charlie Wilson’s War”? (sarcasm). excerpt from Wikipedia:

    Historical context…

    Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated that the U.S. effort to aid the [Afghan] mujahideen was preceded by an effort to draw the Soviets into a costly and presumably distractive Vietnam War-like conflict. In a 1998 interview with the French news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski recalled: “We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would… That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap… The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, “We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War.”

    Comment: here again, we see Cole absurdly “spinning” the facts to support his biases. In reality Reagan’s anti-Soviet policies were an outgrowth of Carter’s anti-Soviet policies (Charlie Wilson was a Texas Democrat!), which were both part of a long continuum of cold war policies whose deeper origins preceeded WWII by decades!

    I do agree with what I presume is Cole’s view that the whole Afpak mess is a sickening example of the consequences of stupid, if not racist, western imperialism in the middle east that has gone on for a very long time, and which was preceeded by muslim imperialism, which was preceeded by roman imperialsm, which was preceeded by greek imperialism, persian, mongolian, egyptian, etc.

    — So, explain the inconsistency of Cole’s posturing on one hand about how he is “objective and rational” (unbiased=better=”more scholarly”), with his unwillingness to critise the Corporate Democrats (or, the liberal establishment in general)?

    What is Cole’s grand strategy? What are his real values? Tribal progressivism, opportunism, support for a political class that funds and supports Cole’s form of liberal academia?

    Cole’s flaw is the same as most people that are emotionally invested in strident/radial liberalism: lack of self-criticism, lack of honesty. Such lack of self-examination usually leads to the “sin” of demonizing “opponents”. Which leads to the absurdity of covering up the flaws, problems and weaknesses of liberal/PC/left ideology. (Yes, the Right does the same thing, so “the pox on both their houses”.) Cole is clearly opposed to american imperialism (for reasons I partly agree with), the question is, what does he believe is better (if anything)? The answer was basically “more dogmatic liberalism” (more jobs for dogmatic liberal professors with aspirations of minor fame).

    What I aked Cole and others of similar persuasion for years, without satisfactory answers, was if the sins of the PC/Left would ever be atoned for (as those on the PC/Left demanded that the Right atone for their sins)?

    Orwell clearly identified the tendency toward doctinaire leftism in the 1930s. In Europe, the Left eventually adopted prgamatism in response to occasionally getting into actual power (a virtue of a non-two-party system). In the USA, ultralibs/leftists by contrast tend to be driven to ever more extreme, impractical, doctinaire positions because their ambitions are invariably thwarted by the dominant conservative-centrist-populist culture.

    The rise of neoliberalism was the result of the failure of the New Left to fulfill its promises to working class people of meaningful reforms (explained by Michael Learner). The rise of neoconservatism was the result of the abyss of meaninglessness and self-absorbsion that the PC/Left attempted to take the culture into in the 70s/80s (feminism, multiculturalism, etc.) The reason that I think this aspect of the Culture Wars is important is that I believe that there has to be a reform paradigm “beyond” (better than, more honest than) leftism/liberalism. The absurd reality is that we have extremists on both the left and the right demonizing each other and calling each other liars while the country goes to hell around them.

    What is needed are pragmatic, populist, trans-partisan solutions that can embrace the essential truths of both liberalism and conservatism. Until the Cole’s of the Left admit that the liberal establishment that they depend on for a living is as much in bed with the plutocrats/oligarchs as are conservatives, their dishonesty will undermine any appeal to populism. Bye!

    The original point was: “Side note: Funny that Juan Cole in the quote above omits any mention of Democrats as servants of the ruling class, even as the bank bailouts and healthcare “reform” show them to be even more blatant and craven than their predecessors.”

  21. J. Cole, 2008 is on the phone, it seems there was some kind of election, and now some guy named “Obama” is President, along with a democrat congress. They are sending an email to update you.

    Comment #11: “For example: over the past few decades copper extraction has gone from 30 tons of ore for one ton refined copper to 300 tons of ore for one ton refined product.”

    Technology obviates this problem. Do you know how much copper is freed up, by replacing transformers in a factory yard, with a superconducting bus? LOTS. Ditto fiber optic networks, packet driven communications, plastic plumbing. It’s like things change!

  22. From #20: What is needed are pragmatic, populist, trans-partisan solutions that can embrace the essential truths of both liberalism and conservatism.”

    Fubar, it is a wonderful dream. But honestly I don’t think you should hold your breath. If you will remember, Obama made big noises about trying to do exactly that, but you can’t bridge the chasm between today’s right and left.

    People like to talk about “the emerging post-partisan realignment”. To be blunt, I think they are fooling themselves. The talking heads on TV want us to “move beyond ideology”. This is a misunderstanding about both human nature and ideology. If a person could somehow transcend ideology, the result would not be what folks expect.
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    FM reply: Agreed. It’s the dream of folks all coming to their senses and adopting right thoughts — just like “me” — giving up their false and hurtful views. Not only will this probably not happen, but the historical record suggests it’s a bad thing. List the times one view becomes very widely adopted; most have ugly outcomes.

  23. Long overdue I say. I’ve always been a doomster about the trendline that the US (and a lot of the rest of World) has been on. But I’ve always been an optimist about the long term for the US (barring some low, but not insignificant, probability events of course). And I once posted to FM that he needs to get into the mainstream .. take the fight to the ‘enemy’ (he disagreed .. then).

    Plus I agree with Justin Raimondo (Antiwar.com) that there is now an urgent need to create a ‘Grand Bargain’ between the Old & Liberterian Right and the Old Left to save the Republic, based on common shared values (we can argue about our differences later, right now we have more in common than we have disagreements (just like WW2 the US Right and Left buried their differnces in a common cause).

    While some Right go on and on about FDR, actually he saved (though in other ways damaged) the Republic, compared to the, currently being faced collapse into a pseuedo-facist (kindly called ‘crony capatilism’) totalitarian society, he was a saint. Now what he (and theoretically Keynes, another fighter for democratic capitalism) proposed then, is not what is needed now (though we should always loot good ideas from the past). But the underlying philosophy, the desire to try new ideas, to really understand what is happening, to fix problems, to concentrate on basics (=ordinary people) .. that we can take on board.

    Free societies always out perform totalitarian ones in all ways .. the evidence of history is conclusive. If we make ourselves ‘unfree’ then …….

    So start with the basics. Maintain freedom, unwind the oppressive legislation (no more ‘unpersons’), slash the budgets of the letters* by 90% (well they did so well recently didn’t they .. again it took ordinary persons to fix things). Look after people (several calculations show that the amount spent on ‘Wall St Bailouts’ woud have paid offevery credit card and mortage debt in the US). Let things fail, but build things on top of it. Invest in real things, not ponzi schemes, fusion power, solar power, wind power, tidal power, 3rd generation fission are just a few things to come to mind.

    Peak oil is real and it is today .. trains, fast trains. Public transport, the list is endless. All these provide real wealth and share that wealth by generating massive amounts of jobs.

    Education. Your debt to the next generation. Pony up, pay for it. You got free education then pay the taxes so they can. But it has to be real hard tough education based on results. No more ‘degrees for a dollar’. Technical education .. the World is desperate for best class welders (a real roadblock for PWR nuclear reactors, though not AGR ones). Like, have real apprentiships again (and again pony up through your taxes you owe them that).

    The list is endless. Good start FM.

    * The ‘letters’ as I call them CIA, FBI, NSA, MI5, ASIO, ANI, Echelon … the list of useless idiots is endless. Fire them all they do sod all but always manage to stuff us up, especially the people who are trying to fix things.
    .
    .
    FM reply: I agree on all points. But getting there is the problem, getting people to see viable alternative pathways to the future.

  24. And I will add passion. Passion to change things (memo to self, since I’ve becomee so old cynical, so tired, so many past failures). You know a year before Talib’s “black Swan’ book I did a technical paper on the uselessness of risk and investment and derivitative models .. and came up with a crude, but roughly workable alternative. My analysis showed they had 2-3 orders of magnitude differences in risk levels (for the uneducated 100-1000).

    Response .. zero, though some young people said in the pub after a few drinks that they agreed with me … “but everyone uses these models so we have to”. Talked to an (ex) banker a few months ago about this issue. His comment was that was what we had so we used it. So, in his lexicon was “wrong is right”. Translated: therefore if I can make a buck out of it then a bridge made of silly putty is ok.
    .
    .
    FM reply: This is inevitable. Valuation systems tend to be based on consensus views, although non-consensus valuaation systems have greater utility (even from a marketing perspective). And all accounting tools tend to reflect the needs of senior management. As seen in the old joke about a successful interview for an accounting position.

    Executive: “How much is two plus two?”
    Applicant: “What answer would you prefer?”

  25. From #24 — “You know a year before Talib’s “black Swan’ book I did a technical paper on the uselessness of risk and investment and derivitative models .. and came up with a crude, but roughly workable alternative. … Response .. zero, though some young people said in the pub after a few drinks that they agreed with me … “but everyone uses these models so we have to”.

    OldSkeptic, I think that, in spite of the mountains of bullshit & the oceans of stupid, progress still can happen. (At least, it is helpful to believe that, regardless of what one sees, to keep from becoming completely apathetic.)

    Seriously though, this lady has a point: “Copenhagen: Getting Past the Urgency Trap“, Grist mag, Sara Robinson, Dec. 21 2009.
    excerpt:

    But the hard truth of the matter is this: change of this magnitude never happens with a single conference, a single treaty, or even a single disaster. The structural changes required to get us off carbon and onto a truly sustainable footing challenge the economic assumptions that humans have lived by for 2500 years. Change that wide and deep will be the work of an entire century, maybe two. … humans change only as fast as they change, and forcing the issue isn’t likely to help. And it may even hurt us in the long run.

    I dunno, I’m big on patience lately.
    .
    .
    FM reply: There will be no substantial progress on public policy regarding global warmings while the underlying datasets are secret, the adjustments (which produce almost 100% of the warming) are secret, the models remain without review or verification by 3rd parties, and a large body of peer-reviewed research attributes climate changes to non-CO2 factors (e.g., soot, solar).

  26. Stewart Brand (founder of the Whole Earth Catalog) on “The rise of the West is over”: “Stewart Brand proclaims 4 environmental ‘heresies’“, at TED (ideas worth spreading), June 2008 — Video. Note that Brand is (thank goddess) still advocating a “rationalist/systems” perspective, even after a significant portion of “green meme” (postmodern) culture has become “rigidly orthodox”, and resistant to innovation and hostile to profound self-examination of its premises and assumptions.

    Also see:
    * “Rethinking Green”, Stewart Brand, Seminars About Long-term Thinking, 9 October 2009
    * Whole Earth Discipline – An ecopragmatist manifesto, Stewart Brand (2009)

    Re: futurism & transformation, utopia vs. pragmatic integralism:

    As Ken Wilber has pointed out, over and over, the problem is that the “mean green meme” is rooted in some illusions that originate in romanticism. Example: “The New Great Transformation”, Paul Hawken, Seminars About Long-term Thinking, 8 June 2007 — Paul Hawken is the author of BLESSED UNREST and co-author of NATURAL CAPITALISM. Excerpt:

    … Much of the new movement, Hawken said, was inspired, at root, by the slavery abolitionists and by the Transcendentalists Emerson and his student Thoreau. Emerson declared that “everything is connected,” and Thoreau wound up going to jail (and making it cool) by taking that idea seriously in social-justice terms.
    Now, as in the Axial Age, activism comes from acting on the realization that “all life is sacred.” …

    Transcendentalism was probably america’s archetypal form of romanticism. Again, both contain valid perspectives about consciousness, culture and ecosystems, but tend toward “green orthodoxy” and related “pathologies”, such as political correctness, thought policing, and inaccurate analysis and faulty assumptions about pre-modern culture. (For more on Hawkens’ current work, also see: WiseEartth) Also, as integralist Bernie Neville (Latrobe U., Australia) has pointed out in his explication of greek archetypes, transformation is based on Hermes, who was the god not only of transformation (postmodernism), but also of lies/deception. Lies/deception = paradigm regression.

    (I see Corporatism, in both {“nanny state”} public sector and private sector forms, as a paradigm regressive version of capitalism that shares an attitude of the “nastiness” with the mean green meme.)
    Neville contrasts Hermes (postmodernism) with Prometheus (modernism). So, what I see Brand doing is attempting to stand with one foot in the rational/modernist/industrial world, and the other in the green/postmodernist (information) world.

    Perhaps because he is a “systems thinker”, it seems that most of the references to spirituality in all his work, from the WEC on, tend to be to pre-modern/indigenous culture. As opposed to the integral approach to spirit. I’m not aware of Brand taking a explicit “position” on integral theory, but would love to know if he was done so, and what it is. Note that there is no value placed on “ancient wisdom” (spirituality, cultural pattern languages, etc.) in the modernist world {in the pure form of the paradigm}.

    So, green/postmodern critics of modernism (rationalism/industry/technology), have two basic choices when establishing a standpoint on “spirit”:
    1) Regress to pre-modernism/romanticism, which usually leads to fake (inauthentic), pathological, transformative practice, or
    2) Progress toward “healthy” forms of transformation based on holism and integralism.
    Since #1 always leads to narcissism/nihilism and eventually the dead-end of fascism/marxism/totalitarianism (which are anti-democracy/anti-liberty), it can’t represent “something better” for the future of humanity. Thus, as far as I can tell, the only viable choice is engaged integralism.

    Another choice, less viable, would be for people to “stick their heads in the green sand”.

  27. From #22:
    Fubar: “What is needed are pragmatic, populist, trans-partisan solutions that can embrace the essential truths of both liberalism and conservatism.”
    Atheist: ” Fubar, it is a wonderful dream. ”

    Context: in the 70s, Ivan Illich wrote an interesting article for the CoEvolution Quarterly titled “Vernacular Values”. In it, Illich explained the rise of the forms of imperial (bureaucratic/centralized state) culture that led to the age of industrialism, and the corresponding destruction of vernacular/indigenous culture, loss of “meaning” (spirit), self-reliance, localism, and so forth. Habermas similarly spoke of the “colonization of lifeworld by systems”. Pragmatic, holistic/integral solutions are a last resort as chaos/desperation increase under the influence of the “mean green meme” and “conservative” counter-reactions. (Anthony Giddens, of the London School of Economics, spoke of a “Third Way” that was “beyond left and right”, but Bill Clinton had a hidden agenda when he used the term.)

    Its about maintaining a “functional” (non-dysfunctional) system that can
    1) meet the “coherence needs” of emergent forms of culture (consciousness) in ways not previously possible, and
    2) adapt to emerging paradigm shifts, and social change.
    The current “reality” is that Modernism marginalizes spirit and Postmodernism further fragments (deconstructs) consciousness. The result is dysfunctional culture, alienation, increasing narcissism/nihilism. As such, new ways of using spirit to “heal” alienation and focus self-absorbtion into self-realization are needed. Same tools (meditation, yoga, etc.), different context/purpose. The only tools that an individual has in becoming liiberated from ego (developing a mature psychological state, bringing Jungian “shadow” into light) are what have traditionally been considered “spiritual”:

    “There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade, unconditioned. If, monks, there were no unborn… no escape would be discerned from what is born, become, made, conditioned. But because there is an unborn…, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, become, made, conditioned.”
    ~ The Buddha, Translator: Bhikkhu Bodhi, Udana 8:3, In the Buddha’s Words, Bhikkhu Bodhi (ed), Wisdom 2005, p. 366.

    The Right attempts to instrumentalize spirit, the Left is hostile to spirit. Modernism (the traditional constitutional paradigm), has been destabilized, and the “dream” if there is one, is that postmodernism’s corrosive cultural effects can be reversed by a retreat into nostalgia (William F. Buckley, Jr., and Ayn Rand’s ideas gave birth to the “disasters” of Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Corporate Democrats and Bush-Rove).

    Cynicism (instead of nostalgia) is understandable, but reinforces the loss of vision/purpose/belief. The “middle” in the USA has been swung around by the tail for so long by schemers and charlatans, on both the left and right, that it is dizzy.

    Both Right and Left have clearly and repeatedly demonstrated, for at least 50 years, that they can’t effectively govern or manage things in such a way as to prevent the downward spiral into dysfunction and corruption. The history of theorists and futurists proposing that a (non-romanticist) holistic/integral paradigm is emerging goes back to pre-WWII: Sri Aurobindo, Jean Gebser, Rudolph Steiner. Clare Graves (who won various arguments with Maslow about human nature) wrote futurist articles in the 1970s predicting that the existing paradigms were deficient, and thus, a new holistic paradigm was evolving.

    In the 80s culture wars, consideration of new possibilities was set aside as left and right entrenched into niches in the establishment, and grabbed and held onto all the power they could, shattering traditional “pragmatic” coalition politics.

    But honestly I don’t think you should hold your breath. If you will remember, Obama made big noises about trying to do exactly that, but you can’t bridge the chasm between today’s right and left.

    Obama couldn’t, but why is that definitive evidence of anything? Obama didn’t run as an integralist, he just tried to appropriate integral themes and images as part of a “feel good” politics (as did Carl Rove in 2000! with “compassionate conservatism”).

    Note: Ken Wilber mentioned Obama, briefly, at JFK Univ. in 2003, as someone that had started making statements that resembled holistic/integral ideas.

    People like to talk about “the emerging post-partisan realignment”. To be blunt, I think they are fooling themselves. The talking heads on TV want us to “move beyond ideology”. This is a misunderstanding about both human nature and ideology. If a person could somehow transcend ideology, the result would not be what folks expect.

    Post-partisan resembles, but is not the same as, Trans-partisan. Trans-partisan is based on a model of human consciousness that is holistic/integral, and attempts to find ways to “honor” the truths of previous paradigms, while moving beyond their limits, and seeking “something better”. Wilber refers to this as “embrace and transcend”. Basically, it is possible to have both science and spirit, it is possible to have have “spiritual capitalism”. In a purely traditional model of modernism, capitalism is inherently hostile to spirit (because religion was the foundation that aristocracy and ecclesiastic oppression, the hand-in-glove of slavery, mercantile/manorial economics, rested on).

    At the time that Natural Law theory began to emerge (John Locke, 1640s), people called it a “dream”. If it wasn’t for that “dream”, the USA, as a constitutional republic, would not have come into existence, saved the world from fascism and communism, etc. The pragmatic reality at that time was that feudal/imperial systems could not satisfy the “coherence needs” created by the social changes that were emerging in the european world and driving people toward new forms of culture (open scientific inquiry, rationalism over superstition/myths, participatory republic/democracy, free markets, separation of church and state, etc.)

    FM: “Agreed. It’s the dream of folks all coming to their senses and adopting right thoughts — just like “me” — giving up their false and hurtful views. Not only will this probably not happen, but the historical record suggests it’s a bad thing. List the times one view becomes very widely adopted; most have ugly outcomes.

    Agreed – to the extent that “conformism” is a characteristically of paradigm regressive (tribal/feudal consciousness), thus it leads to backward thinking, suppression, corruption, and ideologies that “demonize” opposing perspectives. For instance the “thought police” on the PC/left become fascistic/totalitarian/conformist, initially out of frustration, when they are incapable of forcing their ways on people that are not on the PC/left, or when they are just generally not able (due to incompetence and bad ideas) to make the changes that they promise they will make.

    Holism/integralism is not conformist. It embraces the “truths” of previous paradigms, and is able to use those truths in forming coalitions, in their the proper context.

    One clear piece of “evidence” that a new paradigm is emerging is that the previous paradigms lose their pure forms. For instance, David Brooks explains, in “BoBos in Paradise” that the clear categories of bourgeoisie (capitalist) and bohemian (anti-capitalist) have become blurred in postmodern culture.

    This blog seems very “systems/rationalist” oriented. Systems people, justifiably in most ways, are distrustful of the snakepits of human nature, and spirituality is arguably the biggest snakepit.

    Any feedback/criticism is welcome. Thanks!

  28. fyi – see below for some additional background (in recent MSM comments, news analysts have stated that no “movement” is behind people’s frustrations and desires to push Obama into a hard, anti-Corporatist reform position.)
    Comment: I think there *is* a “movement”, but the manner in which it “constructs meaning” is so different than most people are used to, that it gets ignored, or misinterpreted and marginalized.

    The New Great Transformation”, Paul Hawken, Seminars About Long-term Thinking, 8 June 2007 — Paul Hawken is the author of BLESSED UNREST and co-author of NATURAL CAPITALISM.

    Introduction: “Humanity’s immune system”, Stewart Brand — Excerpt:

    “I now believe there are over one million organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice. This is the largest social movement in all of history, no one knows its scope, and how it functions is more mysterious than what meets the eye. What binds it together is ideas, not ideologies. The promise of this unnamed movement is to offer solutions to what appear to be insoluble dilemmas: poverty, global climate change, terrorism, ecological degradation, polarization of income, loss of culture.”

    Comment: green/postmodern critics of modernism (rationalism/industry/technology), have two basic choices when establishing a standpoint on “spirit”:
    1) Regress to pre-modernism/romanticism, which usually leads to fake (inauthentic), pathological, transformative practice, or
    2) Progress toward “healthy” forms of transformation based on holism and integralism.
    Since #1 always leads to narcissism/nihilism and eventually the dead-end of fascism/marxism/totalitarianism (which are anti-democracy/anti-liberty), it can’t represent “something better” for the future of humanity. Thus, as far as I can tell, the only viable choice is engaged integralism. Another choice, less viable, would be for people to “stick their heads in the (green) sand”.
    .
    .
    FM reply: Although I am by nature one of those with binary viewpoints (A or B), I have learned that this is almost always an incorrect perspective. Anyone saying there are “two basic choices” is almost always wrong, IMO. That’s easy to say in this case, as I have little idea what either of these choices mean.

  29. Here’s the interesting part, change can be made incredibly quickly in democratic societies.

    I have just been reading a 1955 book on the Australian war economy. Basically how they transformed a country in 1939 that was little more than a farm (with some mining), broke (Oz had a terrible Depression), with such a low manufacturing base that they couldn’t even make enough explosives for the guns … that they also couldn’t make.

    By 1945 we were making ships, computers, radar, combat aircraft (the most advanced in the World at that time, the Mustang and Mosquito … in today’s terma a bit like us now making F-22’s and SU-30’s), etc.

    The transformation is such a short period of time, with the manpower contraints due to all the men in uniform, was amazing. Post WW2 that created the base from which we made nearly all our own electronics, consumer durables, cars, etc … and gave Oz the greatest period of growth we ever had … and with one of the highest living standards in the World (on a PPP basis maybe the equal of the US at the time).

    All gone of course now, now we are up to our eyeballs in debt have a chronic trade deficit, make nearly nothing and are a mine with a bit of farming.

    But it does show the potential. Naturally it was not easy, for the 1st 18 months not much happened as that was the time taken to plan, put in the infrastructure, organise & train people, etc, etc. Then things started ramping up rapidly.

    Thought experiment (not saying it should be done, just an example): could the US (say) replace every coal fired power station by nuclear in (say) 15 years? Probably, though it may have to use some AGR designs to get round the comtainment vessel bottleneck (the weakness of PWR designs).

    Even more probably (approaching certainty) if a mixture of solar, wind, geo, nuclear,etc is used.

    Impacts on jobs, US manufacturing, etc, massive (especially if a large proportion of renewables used). Add in a huge (19th century scale) build of inter and intra city high speed rail and (for the heck of it) a brand spanking new smart electricty grid. Total cost? Say roughly a trillion, but unlike the 20 trillion (yes really) spent on bank bailouts this would generate a massive return on investment for multiple decades. The multiplier effect on the rest of US manufacturing (and hence jobs) would be equally huge.

    How to pay for it: well this is a case where printing money actualy could work in a non inflationary way … alternatively just shut down the DOD … frees up the best part of a trillion a year and also frees up a lot of skilled people in uniform and the defence industries. Heck get those boys at Los Alomos away from making things that go boom, jeez you would probabaly have working marketable fusion in a decade.

    Impossible? No the precedent, even in the US is there. Look at how the US, correctly, shut down its military after WW1, even after WW2 (sadly it started ramping up again later).

    Low skilled labour what do you do with it …well thats easy, there’s a lot of constuction to do and a lot of environmental damage to repair. Plus, again wartime proved it, a heck of a lot of it can be turned into medium/high skilled labour with accelerated technical training. Look at all the housewifes who made planes and ships as an example. Or the illiterate farm boys who became fighter or bomber pilots, or mechanics or … you get the picture.

    Sounds like a command ecnomy, well yes and no. It is a planned economy and the simplest way to deal with it is to prepare plans and put them to a referendum. Then Govt’s get measured on how well they impliment the democratically agreed plan. Repeat 5-10-15, etc years later.

    Open bidding processes (I mean open .. every document gets publicised after, say, 12 months) so companies can compete for contracts. Create prizes for new technology development, encourage new companies to start up and bid (tax breaks, easy credit, Govt grants, etc) … the list is endless. Get some REAL competition in there.

    Add in crippling taxes on non-useful (ie rentier and speculator) wealth so that money has to move around, massive R&D deductions, massive real capital expenditure deductions, massive basic corporate taxes to encourage them to spend profits on R&D, capital investment, workers and shareholders (caveat: ordinary Joe Soap shareholders, you and me, get dividends tax free, rentiers and speculators get taxed into oblivion, encourages us to invest our savings into real productive investments), instead of putting it into the elites pockets.

    Make the tax system simpler for the ordinary but brutal for the top (the reverse of our current system). Easy an low up to (say) 5 x average earnings, 90% and the gates of hell after that. If you have money spare than if it is invested in real things then low taxes … hedge funds get 110%.

    Put on the internet (as Norway and Finland do) every persons wages and taxes paid every year…. shame the tax evaders.

    Could carry on like this for hours. Democratic dramatic change is actually far easier than most people think because it is voluntary, its actually totalitarian states that find it difficult to change (e.g. Nazi Germany, USSR, etc, etc).

  30. FM reply to #25: There will be no substantial progress on public policy regarding global warmings while the underlying datasets are secret, the adjustments (which produce almost 100% of the warming) are secret, the models remain without review or verification by 3rd parties, and a large body of peer-reviewed research attributes climate changes to non-CO2 factors (e.g., soot, solar).

    FM if it was possible to sidestep the content that Mrs. Robinson is talking about in that article, would you agree with her general template for social change?:

    1. a small subgroup decides there is a problem and studies the problem
    2. the subgroup works to convince the larger group that the problem exists
    3. the larger group tries to fix the problem with small tweaks to the system
    4. the tweaks fail in a way that is clear to most people
    5. the needed large changes are actually made by those in charge
    6. wrap-up/defense against reactionary elements/final tweaks

    I know it’s vague when stripped of content but still I wonder if you could apply it to, say, withdrawing from Afghanistan (I’d say we are in step 2). Or, say, enacting Social Security in the USA (longest 6 in history).
    .
    .
    FM reply: It’s not only vague but wrong in specifics. I do not believe it applies meaningfully to most periods of social change. Such as the Vietnam War (neither in or out), let alone larger ones (e.g., Civil Rights).

  31. From #29: “Here’s the interesting part, change can be made incredibly quickly in democratic societies.”

    OldSkeptic, I see your point here. Still it seems to me that changes made during wars are a bit different from, for instance, the changes to the financial system that you envisioned and spent time elaborating/testing. Wars are periods where society is more fluid than normal, and you can make those large-scale changes (for better or for worse) more easily. Wouldn’t you say, this is somewhat expected by folks over the centuries?

    While making changes to, say, the financial system, you’re in a much different situation. The vast majority of people don’t understand financial markets (I know I don’t, and I work for a futures brokerage), there is no obvious reason to change, and finally there’s an almost religious mandate for obedience to capital in western culture. Maybe it’s less nutty in Oz, but over here in the USA, if you mention anything about altering the financial system, or regulating the activities of corporations, or nationalizing certain industries, you immediately and magically transform into a communist with horns, a tail, and a red hammer n’ sickle emblazoned across your forehead. People find it very distracting and lose the thread of the conversation.

    The point, anyway, is the difference between change people expect, and change that people not only don’t expect, but don’t understand, and also which sounds “wrong” to them.
    .
    .
    FM reply: There are many periods of rapid social change in the US outside of wartime. The big examples are the Administrations of Teddy Roosevelt (the fair deal), FDR (the new deal), and LBJ (the great society). The first two saw massive regulation of the business sector.

  32. From #28

    (in recent MSM comments, news analysts have stated that no “movement” is behind people’s frustrations and desires to push Obama into a hard, anti-Corporatist reform position.)
    Comment: I think there *is* a “movement”, but the manner in which it “constructs meaning” is so different than most people are used to, that it gets ignored, or misinterpreted and marginalized.

    Fubar: What movement do you believe that is? “Progressivism”? “Socialism”? If you had to name it succinctly, what would you call it, may I ask?

  33. Re: #32, which replied to #28 – name of the anti-Corporatist movement?

    atheist, thanks for the feedback. short answer: “MoveOn.org and Tea Parties working together??“, Joseph McCormick, 20 December 2009

    (fwiw ~ Ron Paul has agreed with the need for a trans-partisan movement.) long answer:

    My personal perspective is Integral/Holistic.

    Living in a liberal state, liberal city, and working mainly around liberals (academia), most of the deeply evil people that I’ve been “close up” to were liberals (narcissistic/controlling). Most of the people that I’ve known that deeply questioned the status quo were ex-liberals or non-liberals. If I lived in a conservative-dominant place, the opposite would probably be true: the deeply evil people would be conformists that value orthodoxy and rigid order (the “one truth above all” anti-pattern).

    It seems that the human brain contains (as a product of evolution) “pattern wiring” software that sets up such “archetypes”:
    George Lakoff, Linguistics Univ. Cal., Berkeley, and Mark Turner (among many others) have done some interesting “brain” research that was not available to previous theorists, historians, philosophers. example: http://markturner.org/cin.web/cin.html

    In a sense, these theorists are proposing an atomic structure of consciousness that explains how complex matrices of consciousness are built up into higher levels of meaning. Thus, words like “ideology”, “conservative”, “liberal” can be broken down into networks of subcomponent memes with some common elements/patterns, and some different network patterns and elements.

    All life (and thus all consciousness) came from primitive colonies, so a model of consciousness based on networks/patterns (connectivity, dynamic collectives) seems valid.

    previous (rationalist/modernist) models tended to be static, and “newtonian” – reflecting the dominant “image” of a system in the industrial age: the machine. Please note that it is in a postmodern context (level of culture) that such “deconstruction” takes place. The postmodern age’s archetypal systems “image” is an information network.
    1. premodern=agriculture=conformism+myth=blue meme
    2. modern=industry=rationalism=orage meme
    3. postmodern=information workers/ecology=deconstruction=green meme
    At each “stage” of cultural development, the techno-economic “mesh” (as 1st described by Marx) drives the development of new paradigms, practices, and so forth.

    Once the next stage of development (or archetype) begins to emerge widely, the previous archetype, or paradigm, begins to suffer a “crisis of legitimacy” since it no longer satisfies the “coherence needs” of the new age. The “crisis of legitimacy” results in regression, corruption, dysfunctionality as “things stop making sense”, and the common good is subsumed as more “primitive” self-interests take over.

    Anyways, by being “integral”, I validate, honor and embrace the truths of all previous paradigms: tribal, feudal, conservative, libertarian, marxist, progressive, liberal – while transcending their limits and rejecting their “absolutisms”.

    As stated previously, this is one of many maps of consciousness that is typically used to provide structure to concensus processes, such as Spiral Dyanmics.

    Paradigm regression: In the wake of the rise and fall of fascism (WWII), Jean Gebser, Jungian and integral pioneer, who wrote “Ursprung und Gegenwart” (The Ever Present Origin) to explain how “structures of consciousness” become “deficient”. In current terminology, this is called “paradigm regression”. For instance, the PC/Left “regresses” to a conformist (non-progressive) paradigm in which thought policing and “projection” is common. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Gebser

    Corporatism: The basic area of original agreement is that representative constitutional government was an adaptation to the “coherence needs” of a new age of humanity in which tyranny, oppression, rule by arrogant elites, oligarchy, plutocracy would be revolted against, and then made illegal.

    Corporatism “reanimates” the underlying “memes” (beliefs, ideas, values, anti-patterns) of various historical forms of tyranny (systems in which liberty is repressed). Corporatism seeks to corrupt the power of government in service to the powerful and wealthy elites, to the detriment of both the principles of the constitution, the practical interests of the majority, and the diminishment of existing “social contracts” made between various subcultures.

    Whereas the conventional political “narrative” (template) forces discussion into artifical, narrow “right vs. left” confines that “leave out” some important details about the manner in which big government has gotten into bed with big business (the practical circumstance in which the “reanimation” of tyranny, oligarchy/plutocracy plays out), transpartisans seek common ground in resistance to such corruption of the system, and culture.

    the anti-Corporatist “movement” has no name, and no major leader. it hasn’t cystalized into a political constituency that is organized enough to force specific demands. However, some elements of the Left and Right do have some common “anti-Corporatist” ground, which in the USA has a basis in populist history (resistance to growth of centralized state apparatus that uses coercive state power to force the non-elites into unfavorable circumstances).

    that is why I put “movement” in quotes in post #28.

    the “movement” is at this point about how lots of people are changing how they think and feel about conventional definitions, categories, and how such “transformation” is being put into action. Some theorists have tried to understand the nature of social change, paradigm shifts, and so forth. Integral theory is one attempt, and its basic premise is that a developmental model (evolutionary theory) can be brought together with spirituality. the transpersonal psychology movement is one early example of an attempt to find areas of “complementarity” between the rational and spiritual.

    For people like me, that came out of a 60s counterculture experience, but saw the “culture wars” as an example of the failure of leftism/progressivism, the question is “what’s better?”
    The “establishment” Right, as documented on this blog, misappropriated populist dissatisfaction with the failures of 60s leftism (and postmodernism in general), and, via “talk radio” twisted such dissatisfaction into a giant ripoff (neoliberalism/neoconservatism).
    The Left “demonizes” conservative populism to cover up its dysfunctionality, and secret agendas. The Right “demonizes” progressivism to cover up the dysfunctionality, and secret agendas, of the neolibs/neocons.

    Contrary to FM’s feedback (which I partly agree with), there are “binary” conditions that are valid the vast majority of the time:
    * 98% of the time, mammals, including human beings, are either “male” or “female”.
    * 98% of the time corruption diminishes democracy.
    In the case of the latter, the elites that benefit from a corrupted system will initially resist reforms with all their might, but will, when a significant, populist, reform movement develops, be forced into agreeing to reforms put forward by “mainstream” politicians, so as to not “break” the social contract with the non-elites.

    To return to the theme of this blog, such a process is essentially a form of ritualized warfare (as is law). The elites know that civil war (or revolts of some kind or another) is a real possibility if they “go to far” in undermining representative institutions and practices.

    Their chief weapon against populist democracy for about 100 years has been mass media “disinformocracy”. As such, it has been possible to “dumb down” the culture to the point where most people do not know, or care about, the basic requirements and duties of being a responsible citizen in a democracy/republic.

    Both the Left and the Right establishment subcultures have been complicit in subsuming “duty to country”. With the recent massive failures of the system, people are finally starting to throw off the illusion that the “experts” (that have defined conventional wisdom) actually know what is going on. The establishment Left’s “nanny state” mentality is in collapse. The establishment Right’s attempt at oligarchy/plutocracy is in collapse.

    Both of those establishments are in a fragile alliance to hoodwink the people into accepting the idea that it is possible for a giant, corrupt ripoff to take place without breaking the social contract (between wealthy and working people).

    The Conservative-Liberal (Conserberal?) establishments distract by inflaming the differences between grass-roots conservatives and liberals in order to cover up the ripoffs and corruption of the Corporatist elites. The elites keep non-elite conservatives and liberals at each other’s throats so as to create distraction from the real problems.

    As far as I can tell, any anti-Corporatist movement(s) will have to articulate a message in which existing ideologies (that have been twisted for corrupt purposes) are transcended.

    FM’s fears of unitary transpartisan conformism are valid. Integralists have been aware of that problem from the beginning, and avoid it by stressing the need to embrace all forms of truth, regardless of the ideological context in which they are imbedded. What integralists reject are the absolutisms that are associated with various ideologies and paradigms.

    Thanks again, look forward to more feedback/criticism.

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