Listen to the voice of America’s decline. Can we bring these people into the 21st Century?

Summary:  Many comments sent to the FM website speak from the heart, sharing the writer’s response to the new world described on these pages.  Sometimes clear, hard, and rational.  Sometimes visionary.  Sometimes delusional.  But most often angry, expressing the anger that so often marks modern America’s relationship with the world.  It’s the voice of America’s decline, both a response to and a driver of that decline.

The FM website receives many messages.  Like this one from “Jarhead” (many, like his, from a fake email address).  The internet overflows with similar expressions.  They tell us much about today’s America.

I took the time to review many of your blog posts, and in my opinion, your intentions are scurrilous and designed to foment confusion and doubt.

Fact: GWBush dealt al-Qaeda a strategic defeat in Iraq and everyone, including the enemy, knows it.
Fact: Pentagon payroll must be met without regard to what troops are doing, so your $1T figure for the cost of the war is substantially overblown.
Fact: Tea Party members are substantially more educated than the average voter.

Your high-handed disdain for the general public betrays your elitist presumptions; such presumptions are irrational, parochial, and fundamentally anti-Democratic. I joined the Marines in my disgust at anti-American propaganda such as yours. My antipathy over the years has not waned a bit.

I wrote my first internet article almost 8 years ago.  Since then in replying to the 16 thousand comments on the FM website I have had dozens of dialogues with people like “Jarhead”.  Generalizing (this email provides too little data to speak about him specifically), they fervently believe a interlocking constallation of falsehoods about history and economics (much like communists from an earlier era), they are immune to facts which challenge their world view; and they tend to reply with a combination of insults, rebuttal by making stuff up, and changing the subject.  Above all, they are angry, perhaps with impotent rage at a world changing in ways they neither like nor understand.

  • Demographics, as white Europeans become a minority.
  • Economic stagnation, rising pressure on the middle class.
  • Loss of America’s global supremacy to emerging powers such as Brazil and China.
  • Loss of faith as children drift away from traditional values.
  • Gays out of the closet, even openly joining the military.
  • A Black President (the Birther delusion is IMO the clearest evidence of our problem).

They cry “What’s America coming to?”

A similar mindset often appears in the writings of jihadists, seeing western values rapidly erode away traditional Islam.  Rock music.  Young men dissing their fathers.  Woman thinking they have rights — driving, marrying boys of their choice.  It’s an odd parallelism, but one with many precedents in history.

I feel sorry for “Jarhead” (but not for jihadists).  I feel pity for a nation with so many people like him, making adaptation to change very difficult.  Unfortunately the response of such people is often anger.  For foreigners (or Americans who they call enemies) torture, bomb and assassination.  Domestically, drastic and often irrational policies hoping to turn back time:  cut benefits to the poor, return to the gold standard, slash spending on infrastructure and education.

Although largely irrelevant and even self-destructive responses, they fulfill the need to act, to feel in control of events, fueling dreams of a better future.  Unfortunately the mixture of fear, anger, and dreams seldom produce good outcomes.  Political reform in America requires either overcoming such people, or helping them adjust to the 21st century.  Neither will prove easy.

Specific responses to “Jarhead”

Responses to the few specifics he provides.

“Fact: GWBush dealt al-Qaeda a strategic defeat in Iraq and everyone, , including the enemy, knows it.”

There is near-zero evidence that AQ was in Iraq before the US invasion (Saddam’s intelligence services had contacts with persons presumed to be affiliated with AQ, as did ours with Soviet agents during the cold war).  Nor is there much evidence that AQ contributed substantial resources to fighting the US in Iraq.  The local nationalist group “AQ in Iraq” was a result of the invasion, and its defeat of little consequence (except to the Iraq people, especially the Sunni Arabs who unwisely aided and later fought it).

Only time and research will determine the effect on AQ of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.  Many experts believe that it helped AQ, positioning the US as an enemy of Islam and boosting recruitment.  Furthermore Iran is clearly the primary beneficiary — along with Iraq’s Shiite and Kurdish peoples (China seems likely to get most of the oil contracts).  Stratfor and other expert organizations have written about this in detail.

“Fact: Pentagon payroll must be met without regard to what troops are doing, so your $1T figure for the cost of the war is substantially overblown.”

An odd response, as the many expert estimates of the war’s cost clearly account for that fact.  Such as these:

  1. The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11“, Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service, 29 March 2011
  2. The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond“, Joseph E. Stiglitz (Columbia) and Linda J. Bilmes (Harvard), Washington Post, September 2010 — They are co-authors of The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.
  3. On the Costs of War, Eisenhower Study Group, June 2011 — “Ten Years, 225,000 Killed, and More than $3.2 – 4 Trillion Spent and Obligated to Date” since 9-11  (update)
  4. The Wikipedia page, as usual, has useful links (but read the text skeptically).

“Fact: Tea Party members are substantially more educated than the average voter”

There are two answers to this.  First, it’s probably not true.  The Tea Party has neither organization nor “members”.  Its amorphous nature make surveys less accurate than usual.  A Gallup poll in April 2010 found that “Tea Partiers are fairly mainstream in their demographics; skew right politically, but have typical profile by age, education, and employment.”  A CBS/NY Times poll the same month found Tea Party supporters to be somewhat more educated than average Americans.  Neither compared them to the “average voter.”

Second, while TP supporters may have degrees many hold beliefs that range from mistaken to delusional (see here and here for bits of the ample evidence).

Third, what is your point?  The Harvard facility is better educated than members of the Tea Party.  Would you prefer them to govern?   I agree with William Buckley:  “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

“Your high-handed disdain for the general public betrays your elitist presumptions; such presumptions are irrational, parochial, and fundamentally anti-Democratic.”

I doubt you can find quotes from the FM website to support those accusations. You are just making stuff up.

“in my disgust at anti-American propaganda such as yours”

In my experience, accusations of being “anti-American” are the STOP button on the American mind.  It’s an admission of defeat, that you have nothing reasonable to say.

“My antipathy over the years has not waned a bit.”

Perhaps better sources of information will help.  As a first step, try writing a rebuttal based on facts.  Cite sources and specifics.  Don’t bother telling us how you feel about the facts; this we’re not grade school teachers coddling your self-esteem.

For more information

See these FM reference pages about

27 thoughts on “Listen to the voice of America’s decline. Can we bring these people into the 21st Century?

  1. Fact: If the minority that makes up the Tea Party were actually substantially better educated, their disdain for the majority that elected Obama must mean they’re what?

    I guess it’s OK to be elitist as long as your opponents are all anti-American.

  2. Voices lose their strength, the timbre becomes indistinguishable, anger runs its course and recedes into numbness. Despair arises. Perhaps only in moments of despair (similar to an addict’s bottom of shame) can one expect to penetrate what you describe, FM.

    What is ever more painfully lacking than minds capable of understanding the simple realities of political trends, finance and economics and their History in the USA is a group of Leaders who can formulate a set of paths forward, a leadership meme that has the Common Good in focus and can speak to it in a way that even the average man/woman can assent to.

    The sheer amount of propaganda injected upon the citizen’s is simply mind boggling. (Witness the overwhelming nonsense surrounding the recent Debt Ceiling episode!) Confusion abounds; no wonder anger is everywhere.
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    FM reply: I agree, the fraction of the news that is straight propaganda is astonishlingly high. Because it works.

    I wonder if we don’t have good leaders is because we are bad followers. Perhaps even because we want to be sheep, not citizens. Today would we elect a Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, Jackson, or Lincoln?

  3. I don’t know where you get the energy FM. Been reading this blog for years, I’m not an American, but I find that despite its focus on American issues, this blog speaks to anyone who is committed to maintaining Liberal Democracy as a form of Government.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. FM offers: “Today would we elect a Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, Jackson, or Lincoln?”
    …………………….
    Only 50.1% is needed. And I think we would elect one if….

    However it is a moot point, in my view,simply because the ground upon which such individuals have grown is now so long lain fallow that one wonders how long it would take to grow one of these. Where are the discussions these days, where can you hear talk of the philosphical and spiritual principles upon which an American (And French) Revolution arose? No doubt they occur some place, perhaps in some Depts at some Universities.

    Yes we are sheep and yes we like that role as it has been until recently a ground of being that serves the basics of life —for most. That to me is the “evil genius” of today’s American experience. But once the Table is not so full, once the basics are NOT a given—watch out!
    Only then may we see a beginning of a new Social Meme….perhaps a Tom Paine will arrive from Norfolk!

  5. I have to admit that I at first I did not like your opinions -I still don’t agree with them all. However, you can’t just dismiss what you don’t like. I think that is the problem with people in general (Americans, especially) – we don’t like to have our views challenged and definitely not changed.

    My values/world view has changed dramatically, much of it from spending time overseas in the military (Germany, Iraq, E Africa – 4+ years). Many of the people I grew up with have never left the local area and are still stuck in their limited view of the world and they like it. It took more than 10 years for me to change how I think and then a few more to change my way of living – the internal conflict can be gut-wrenching especially when dealing with family along the lines of religion and politics.

    I think this inner conflict is one of the main issues that we have – we don’t want to deal with the change and we keep looking inward to deal with our issue instead of looking at (solid) evidence to determine a logical course of action.
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    FM reply: Thank you for this interesting analysis!

    A question for you — which of my opinions on the FM websute do you not like? About the changes in the US and global economy? US military structure and operation? Our foreign wars? Climate change? Peak Oil? US social and political change?

    So far as I can determine, both Left and Right disagree passionately with some of these. For examples see About the Politics of the FM Website.

  6. Comment are open again on the FM blog! wow.

    Dear FM,

    You are clearly of the elites. The “Jarhead” types you criticize confuse being “of the elites” with “elitist”. I don’t think you are elitist, on the contrary, your defense of the constitution is honorable, insightful and unique, within the best traditions of american democracy.

    Given your posting of the very interesting material on (Corporate) “Plutocracy” recently, isn’t the poor quality product of State Capitalism’s education system inevitable?

    You also posted a while ago on de Toqueville’s statement that democracy would decline and create a culture of people that were “weak and servile” to State Capitalism and Centralized Power.

    Please correct me if wrong:

    What I find fascinating is that the most vigorous and dynamic areas of american culture, which are mainly at the fringes of postmodern culture, and are presumably the areas from which the most “adaptive” ways of thinking will emerge, go largely unexamined by you because they are not in the (failing) mainstream!

    This is of course a somewhat un-nuanced analysis. You are saying that there is a traditional basis for democratic reforms and economic stability (or just plain morality) that needs to be rediscovered.

    What you do not explain is how a traditional model – that is evidently already discredited by the forces of Corporate Plutocracy and related Evils- can be reformed to withstand the forces that have already eroded it. (!?!)

    If american culture is to “adapt” to a future in which imperial american power is in decline, why not examine the areas on the fringe that are most critical of imperialistic culture and have begun to experiment with alternatives?

    example of evolutionary spirituality here. (excerpts to follow)
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    FM reply: My dream comment, at last! Someone who says ”
    Please correct me if wrong”. OK, I try to please.

    “You are clearly of the elites.”

    We must define “elite” differently. I use “elite” in the sense of at the top of society’s hierarchy of status/wealth/power. God no doubt sees things differently, but his view does not seem to have much impact down here. Judging from the commments here and elsewhere I am an outcast — or heretic. If I risk self-dramatization (or being delusional), perhaps the FM website is a voice crying in the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3-5).

    That the posts here during the past eight years have proven to be remarkably prescient (i.e., citing the correct experts), but that carries little weight in our world (as Paul Krugman has learned). On the other hand, events have proven my big message wrong — the US political regime has rotted more quickly than I imagined. Guilty, as some said at the time, of delusional optimmism.

  7. additional background on evolutionary spirituality: excerpt:

    As each new holon emerges, it emerges into an already existing worldspace–that is, it emerges in an AQAL space that already has various sorts of waves, streams, states, systems, and so on, each with its own inheritance. (Again, yesterday’s a posteriori have become today’s a priori.) Each newly-emergent holon therefore must prove itself capable of existing or surviving in that already-existing worldspace- it must mesh with the already-existing AQAL matrix. It is therefore subjected to various selection pressures (or validity claims) representing the types of fit to which it must adapt in order to survive. Of course, it will not only or merely mesh: it will also bring its own moment of creative novelty that goes beyond all meshing altogether; but if it does not mesh to some degree, it will simply be wiped out by existing selection pressures and never get a chance to express or pass on its creativity.

    Because each holon has at least four quadrants or four dimensions of being-in-the-world, and each of those dimensions must mesh with the already-existing worldspace, there are at least four types of selection pressures: each holon must mesh to some degree with its own I, we, it, and its. Thus, each holon must be able to register the external it-world accurately enough (truth); each holon must be able to register its internal I-world accurately enough (truthfulness); it must be able to fit with its communal or social system of its (functional fit); and it must be able to adequately negotiate its cultural milieu of we (meaning).

    Those validity claims of tetra-mesh (it-truth, I truthfulness, its-functional fit, we-meaning) are not clunky representational pictures but mutually-evoked enactive engagements; and those tetra-selection pressures apply to all holons, from atoms to cells to trees to worms to wolves to apes. Any holon that fails to adequately negotiate all of those selection pressures simply ceases to exist.

    This quadratic formulation gives us purchase on the nature of the relationships between the subjective, objective, intersubjective, and interobjective dimensions of existence.

    Also see here.
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    FM reply: Please keep these excerpt to a reasonable length. Esp when so off-topic. My patience is not so great as it was, and too-long excerpts risk deletion.

  8. I weary of friend and foe arguing about the Tea Party in erroneous ways.
    The original Tea Party was Perotista…protectionist but otherwise small government, anti-bankster but also antiwar. Ron Paul fans’ revival of it was even more markedly antiwar.

    Then corporate fascists took it over and appointed Islamophobic Big Government warmongerers who cul de sacced it from anti-bankster bailout themes to Michelle Bachmann-Mark Rubio styled war hawking and Patriot Act-approving.

    Thee is no real Tea Party remaining.
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    FM reply: all great points! Of course it is the fate of historical events to be exploited later, because people value tradition more than logic. Deuteronomy, the ancient book of law, was “rediscovered” by Hezekiah. The British Higs were esp inventive and successful at re-imaging history to suit current needs.

  9. (FM & All – again, please correct the following if wrong, in whole or part.)

    KenHoop: I’m sure you are aware of the Koch Bros. pivotal role in funding the corruption/founding of the Tea Party, so why not just mention it? This is one of the most cynical moments of gross political corruption that I can recall in american politics (in at least 100 years?) Here are some anti-corporatist polemics that you might find interesting:

    http://exiledonline.com/a-peoples-history-of-koch-industries-how-stalin-funded-the-tea-party-movement/
    http://exiledonline.com/cat/tea-party/
    http://exiledonline.com/why-should-taxpayers-be-forced-to-subsidize-billionaire-koch-brothers-donations-to-republicans-tea-party-right-wing-libertarian-groups/
    http://www.billionairesteaparty.com/about/
    The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party“, By FRANK RICH, op-ed in the New York Times, 28 August 2010

    Did both Obama’s mother and father (and step father) work for the CIA, or CIA funded cold-war “front” organizations in the “3rd world”? Was Obama’s grandfather in the military organization during WWII that later turned into the CIA?

  10. (FM & All – again, please correct the following if wrong, in whole or part.) re: #8. Hey FM,

    Thanks for reopening your blog to comments. Sorry for any confusion. I use “elites” and “elitist” according to standard social-science definitions (as best I recall them).

    “Elites” are simply the people in the upper echelons of social status, power, influence, etc.. They typically enjoy various privileges (including access to knowledge) not available to most common people. Some, like yourself, are people of considerable talent and rare life experience.(a meritocracy is supposed to allow such people to move up in society for the common good.) Elitists are people that have a false and/or arrogant sense of superiority, and sometimes use corrupt means to maintain their privileges and status.

    Anyways… At this point I think there is little question that the “system” is well on its way to crashing for the reasons you have cited with such extraordinary insight and acumen over the last few years. I just got back from Spain, and doom is heavy in the air there (along with denial/delusion).

    Side note: in case you haven’t heard already, rumor has it that software engineers are flocking from the rest of europe (and other places in the world) to Germany.

    The reason people (especially Jarhead types) don’t want to listen to your analysis of impending doom is because they (generally) have no way to prepare for a doomed future. Denial is required in the moment because it is the only thing possible, psychologically (again, for most people, not all). Compassion and altruism are almost always a good things. The Jarheads are people that have been socially conditioned to be exploited, and to blame their exploitation on the wrong people.

    So, given that the system is doomed, what can be done besides be in denial? My main point is that you appear to be very reticent to acknowledge that the counterculture’s critique (which includes a “spiritual” component that later produced the transpersonal psychology movement and Integral Theory) of the american mainstream has been aware of the “unsustainability” of the system for many decades.

    As an 11 year old, I read the Whole Earth Catalog in 1967, and became aware that the american system was unsustainble and imperialistic (I had an intuitive sense of this from having grown up in a military family in other countries). 40+ years of observation of the USA and world simply confirm the truth.

    As a buddhist (former Sufi), it is obvious to me that american’s are “clinging” to ideas that are the source of suffering. Clinging to things that are not “real” is the definition of what is “maladaptive” in social evolutionary terms. As far as I can tell, you are a primarily a rationalist/. Voltaire and other enlightenment thinkers proposed that Rational debate, in open public spaces, was the foundation of democracy. Yet, rationalism has failed, and is now deeply distrusted.

    The old paradigm is played out. Why not examine the counterculture’s various critiques of the old paradigm as one aspect of attempting to “adapt” to a future decline?
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    FM reply: We’re using the same definition. It’s not accurate to say that I am “in the upper echelons of social status, power, influence.” I wish I was.

    “If I were a rich man,
    Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.
    All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
    If I were a wealthy man”

  11. To use FM-speak, the intellectual elites are “fighting the last battle” in their defense of the underlying paradigms that were the premise of representative democracy.

    From a counterculture (Integral/Holistic) viewpoint, representative democracy is necessary, but not sufficient. Enlightenment rationalism is necessary, but not sufficient. BECAUSE THE PARADIGM IS SUFFERING A CRISIS OF DELEGITIMIZATION, PEOPLE ARE ANGRY AT THE RESULTING INSTABILITY, DYSFUNCTION AND BREAK DOWN. Follow up on the decline of Rationalism:

    The Decline of Scientific Rationalism by John Artz, 24 Feb 2002

    The End of Rationalism: An Interview with John Ralston Saul

    John Ralston Saul is perhaps best known for his international bestseller Voltaire’s Bastards, a forceful and wide-ranging jeremiad on the decline of Western civilization. Published in 1992, the book is still at the center of a lively debate about the trouble with reason in contemporary Western culture. One critic aptly described it “a hand-grenade disguised as a book.”

    … Reason is a wonderful human quality, but it’s just one of the human qualities, and it’s by putting it up on the throne all by itself that we’ve cause it to do the opposite of what it ought to be doing. We’ve turned it into unreason.

    So we haven’t actually corrupted it. By putting any human quality in power in isolation, you automatically make it do the opposite of what it’s intended to do, because it isn’t supposed to be in isolation, because we aren’t people of only one quality …

    Saul: It seems to me we have about six qualities which are: common sense, creativity, ethics, intuition, memory, and reason. … Voltaire and all his friends were caught up in a very close battle, and it was a battle against arbitrary power and superstition — the king and the Church. We have misinterpreted what they were saying. They weren’t saying, “Go out there and build a society based on reason.” They were saying, “Go out there and build a humanist society — but you have a couple of weapons that are particularly good for a public fight.” There are a lot of weapons that are kind of hard to use in a public fight, whereas reason is something that you can walk out the door with everyday …

    So instead of knowledge coming together into a great whole, knowledge has been broken up into tens of thousands of isolated corporations or specialist groups. It’s meant two things. It’s meant, first of all, that society loses all sense of direction, [note the similarity to de Toqueville] because if everything is separated into little groups that don’t really talk to each other in an honest manner, except to negotiate between each another for power, then there is — [note the similarity to Habermas and Rheingold’s “Disinformocracy”] no possibility to have any kind of directed conversation about society. … [PLEASE note the advocacy of Holism and Integralism]

    Saul: Yes. When I talk about expertise, what I’m talking about is the way in which we approach education. We’re clearly not following the humanist approach, which is a sort of integral view of human intelligence — putting together things. Our education system is a) based on the taking apart of things and the isolating of smaller and smaller elements of knowledge; and b) increasingly, whatever the area, it’s essentially a management, rational approach toward education. So it’s not the content that matters, it’s the methodology that matters. It’s not the content, it’s the form. …
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    FM reply: Last notice. Arbitrary and discretionary deleltion will follow further long posts.

  12. Final statement on the issue of the counterculture’s contribution to an understanding of the decline of the system.

    Besides upholding the traditional (rationalist) value of scientific objectivity (which is detachment from ones biases, expectations, and assumptions about material truth), the best counterculture views also uphold the value of transcendence in *other areas* of consciousness.

    Again, the classic Buddhist approach is to avoid clinging and attachment to ideas that are not “real”. This is why Jeff Bridges has become popular. Bridges epitomizes the “cool” version of counterculture detachment, which I call “Dude-ism” (The Big Lebowski). “Dude-ism” even sounds like “Buddhism”. Duddhism.

  13. last follow up: re: FM states that the following is off topic: “Any holon that fails to adequately negotiate all of those selection pressures simply ceases to exist. This quadratic formulation gives us purchase on the nature of the relationships between the subjective, objective, intersubjective, and interobjective dimensions of existence.”

    Question: With reference to John Ralston Saul’s work on the decline of reason (many other similar sources are available), please indicate exactly how Ken Wilber’s theory about Holons is “off topic”. Rationalism is a “holon”. Rationalism (“objective existence”) has failed to adequately negotiate the selection pressures that exist in a world where the paradigm underlying the american system has been broken down by postmodern culture.

    Postmodernism itself has undergone a similar breakdown. What Ken Wilber and other Integralists are advocating is that Holism and Integralism (evolutionary spirituality) are more “adaptive” to the changing paradigms of the world (emerging culture). Holism and Integralism (evolutionary spirituality) are more able to “adequately negotiate all of those selection pressures”.

    the greek god Hermes is the god of information and deception. (postmodernism)
    the greek gods Apollo (reason) and Promethius (industry) are the gods of modernism. (Bernie Neville, Latrobe U.)

    side note: re: “bloom nietzsche nihilism” – Bloom is right (on Dionysius), but misses Neville’s point. Nevertheless, pleas note: {Wikipedia}

    Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind is a critique of the contemporary university and how Bloom sees it as failing its students. In it, Bloom criticizes analytic philosophy as a movement, “Professors of these schools simply would not and could not talk about anything important, and they themselves do not represent a philosophic life for the students.”

    Analystic philosophy = “objective/scientific rationalism” (?) — Again, I welcome all corrections, alternative viewpoints, etc.
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    FM reply: Criticism of the great Allan Bloom is by itself sufficient to trigger the eratic and unsystematic deletion mechanisms on the FM website. Since it is Sunday, God’s day of rest, this off-topic excursion will be allowed to remain. But this is the last notice.

  14. Recommended reading (to fill in some of your deficiencies in understanding of educational and financial institutions and their history, and motivate you to further close reading of additional background texts since these are only introductory):

    Underground History of American Education“, by John Taylor Gatto — Also see a PDF version here.

    … a critique of the U.S. education system by John Taylor Gatto. Gatto, a former teacher, left the classroom the same year in which he was named New York State Teacher of the Year. He announced his decision in a letter titled “I Quit, I Think”. Using anecdotes gathered from thirty years of teaching, Gatto presents his view of modern compulsion schooling, describing a “conflict between systems which offer physical safety and certainty at the cost of suppressing free will, and those which offer liberty at the price of constant risk”. Gatto argues that educational strategies promoted by government and industry leaders for over a century included the creation of a system that keeps real power in the hands of very few people.

    The Central Banks (1995) (out of print, and being purged from academic libraries, if the used copies I acquired are any indication – one from Harvard library system, the other from Univ of Colorado), by Marjorie Deane and Robert Pringle, Foreword by Paul Volcker

    An in-depth study on the Bank of England, the Bundesbank in Germany, and the Federal Reserve offers insight into how they are run, discussing their histories, monetary policies, and how they are affected by such events as the Savings and Loan debacle. Deane, the Economist’s former deputy business editor, and Pringle, former editor-in-chief of Banker, contend that central banks’ power and influence have risen during the past decade. This increasing freedom from governmental interference, they add, has brought risks such as currency competition and a greater potential for fraud and corruption, but also a growing involvement in policy issues such as the reconstruction of emerging democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and the formation of the European Union. Covering central banking from China and Japan to South Africa to the Third World, this survey draws lessons for citizens who want to make central banks more accountable to the public in achieving price stability.

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    FM reply: Thanks for the references, but not for the gratuitous insult. You have cited no errors on this website.

  15. re: “eratic and unsystematic deletion mechanisms”

    lol. Bloom was right about the limits and problems of analytic philosophy, and corresponding Dyonisian culture. That does not mean that the Straussian viewpoint is the end of all truth. If classisicm was so great, how did we end up were we are?

    Again, you ignore the contributions of counterculture, specifically evolutionary spirituality, in the debate about these questions. After accusing others (Jarhead, etc.) of being “narrow minded”.
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    FM reply: I look forward to writing such critiques about your blog posts. Let’s see if you can cover ever aspect of a subject in a thousand words. Please send the links; I am already preparing sarcastic mockery.

  16. “Fact: GWBush dealt al-Qaeda a strategic defeat in Iraq and everyone, , including the enemy, knows it.”

    Argh it’s so stupid it’s unbelievable! Saddam Hussein was the leader of the Ba’ath party of Iraq. Try looking it up some time, dummy. Ba’ath was a political movement opposed to Islamic government. It was founded by *Christians*, and later supported by secular Muslims. Al-Qaeda was set up to oppose Ba’ath spread through the Arab countries. Al-Qaeda are delighted that Saddam is dead, he was their second biggest enemy, after the Ayatollah.

    People who think Saddam was Al-Qaeda, are like people who think Jerry Falwell is catholic bishop … morons, they’re worse than that they’re moorororororoorooooooooooonooons!

  17. re: elites/elitism. This is getting silly. To someone at or near the bottom of the social hierarchy, someone in the middle seems very much so in the “upper echelon”. Differences seem much smaller from a distance. Some one 3/4 of the way to the top seems “upper echelon” from the viewpoint of those in the middle. Someone in the upper 5% seem “upper echelon” from the viewpoint of someone at 85%.

    Sorry to belabor the obvious, but your access, experience and knowledge place you in the category of someone with privileged status in comparison to 98% the population. If it was otherwise, your blog would have little interest. You may be too honorable to whore yourself out like many people in a similar position to the establishment for more power and money, but that does not lessen your actual accomplishments, and the honor and status that flows from them.

    You do make rigidly contradictory authoritarian statements. They are becoming predictable. I guess it has something to do with your background and values absorbed from military life, but I’m just guessing.

    Please note that I have no interest in engaging in a fight based on “daddy-son” archetypes. If you threaten to arbitrarily delete posts that are criticial, you simply demonstrate your willingness to not argue from reason and fact, but to be authoritarian and autocratic. Again, this only makes you different from Jarhead in that the ideas that your “cling to” are less misinformed than Jarhead’s ideas. The rigidity with which you hold your ideas itself isn’t all that different.

    It is absurd of you to insult and demean “Jarhead” for having fixed, unexamined ideas and then to complain when others observe that you are similarly rigid.

    re: “FM reply: I look forward to writing such critiques about your blog posts. Let’s see if you can cover ever aspect of a subject in a thousand words. Please send the links; I am already preparing sarcastic mockery.”

    You already have the ability to use sarcasm and mockery on your own blog, and have done so. I have invited corrections, but you do not seem to be prepared to actually make any that are of substance. Similarly, you seem to have little or no interest in reading references I’ve posted, or in responding to their content. (presumably because you do not see them as real competition?)

    Example: Boomeritis & Me. Not Just a Book Review by Elizabeth Debold — Boomeritis by Ken Wilbur

    I have no interest in style, but probably should. It is clear that, in spite of your great charm, wit, insight and expertise on other areas, you have no interest in transcending the limits of your perspective, tastes, and values. No sarcasm or mockery was intended or is necessary to make that point, it is a pure, dry objective fact. It does not detract from the great value of your perspective that it has its limits.

    It is also a fact that most people have extreme difficulty transcending their paradigm and understanding the limits of their perspective.

    Premodern culture is based on dependence, Modernist culture is based on independence. Postmodern culture is based on interdependence (holism/integration). I fail to see why anyone would worship Bloom or Strauss. Their viewpoint has great value, and the truths they expressed should be honored, not worshipped slavishly.

    Their critique of postmodernism is not unique, it is similar to a whole class of criticism that exists both outside (indeed, please let me know how Ratzinger’s critique of postmodernism differs significantly from the Straussian classicists) and within the counterculture (the Holistic/Integral movement).

    Straussians and other classicists attempt to locate authenticity in the past. Holistic/Integral thinkers attempt to locate authenticity in the past, present and future. How can we get to a better future by *ONLY* looking backwards?

  18. William said, 21 August 2011: wrt: [Jarhead] Fact: GWBush dealt al-Qaeda a strategic defeat in Iraq … “Argh it’s so stupid it’s unbelievable! ”

    Yes and no. The Neocons openly published a document on the Rand website for years which contained a petition signed by various Neocons in the military-industrial complex to President Bill Clinton in the late 90s requesting that he immediately imvade Iraq. Clinton declined.

    Stratfor stated early on in the Iraq war that the “real” objective was to scare the cr*p out of the Saudis, Syrians, etc., and to get them to stop supporting AQ by allowing resources to flow to AQ via Islamic “humanitarian” organizations (the networks for these organizations is a thousand years old.) Stratfor further stated that the objective was largely satisfied. So, yes, the invasion of Iraq did stop a great deal of support from flowing freely from people sympathetic to AQ within Arab states. But, no, since as FM states, AQ was never actually in Iraq, it is silly to think that the Iraq war directly attacked AQ.

    To be generous, Jarhead might simply be conflating the Arghan and Iraq wars as two separate parts of a larger regional attack on AQ.

    In any case, the larger problem, as FM has written many times wirth great acumen and insight, is that the american military actions “against AQ” have frequently worked against the best long term interests of the west. This is simply a continuation of a very long history of failed western interventions in the middle east. The architects of those actions were largely ignorant of the realities of that part of the world.

    (Jarhead probably is not capable of understanding the nuances of that discussion, but neither are most other westerners. The main difference is that Jarhead irrationally believes that something good can come from trying to subjugate and exploit places like Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas most rational people do not.)

  19. re: desierasmus: “Recommended reading (to fill in some of your deficiencies in understanding of educational and financial institutions and their history, and motivate you to further close reading of additional background texts since these are only introductory)”

    fyi – as far as I can tell, FM does not usually embrace people arriving from libertarian blogs or similar, so beware. FM has critiqued central banks in the past (and Plutocrats in the present), and their role in the “vaporization” of the middle classes, specifically the history of such “vaporization” in the 1800s by central bankers and other corporate interests.

    Note: anyone that has seen the movie “The Wizard of Oz” has learned the story of central bankers (the “man behind the curtain”), but they might know that that is what the movie is about.

    FM has also critiqued the educational establishment in the USA frequently. I would be surprised if FM has any major problems with the gist of Gatto’s analysis of the problem with the USA educational establishment.

    FM is a fan of Alan Bloom, the Straussian classicists and their critique of the education establishment. If you do not have an allergy to eastern establishment academics, you might want to check out Harvey Mansfield’s work. Mansfield is an outstanding Straussian. {See Harvard bio}

    Mansfield is openly critical of Ayn Rand and her followers, and stated such on C-SPAN a number of years ago.

  20. (re: reply to #21) — FM, Thanks for the links to some excellent critiques of Ayn Rand.

    Scalzi: [Rand’s work] “can be summed up as Sociopathic idealized nerds collapse society because they don’t get enough hugs. ”

    lol. From what I can tell, the original “libertarians” were Radical Whigs, such as John Locke, in the 1640s. fwiw – not all “libertarians” are fans of Rand. E.g. “Free Enterprise: The Antidote to Corporate Plutocracy

    1. (1) IMO the Scalzi quote is an excellent summary of Atlas Shrugged. Not so much for The Fountainhead, whose protagonist (Howard Roark) is just a dick (and a criminal, deserving some jail time).

      (2) Projecting a contemporary label like “libertarian” to people so far back in time is an anachronism. It’s a logical flaw, heat but no light. I suspect if we could communicate with Locke, he’s consider the Libertarians as antisocial nutbags. But we can only guess.

      (3) Rebuttals in the form of “not all XXX are YYY” are usually a waste of time. Although absolute statements are usually wrong, that’s usually irrelevant — we’re looking for patterns, frequency. Most libertarians are fans of Rand, which is why she is their posterchild — and her work illustrates the foolishness of it as a political philosophy. BTW — how do you know that the author of that article is not a fan of Rand? Her name does not appear in it. (I searched, rather than read it)

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