Summary: After scores of posts attempting to discover the core of America’s problems, recent events highlight one candidate — we don’t see the same world. It makes us easy to rule. We are a gift to the 1%. And the clock’s running out on us.
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, not his own facts.”
— Attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
- In an oligarchy every peon has their own facts.
- Why citizens need clear vision.
- For More Information.
(1) In an oligarchy everyone can have their own facts.
”We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
— From “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush” by Ron Suskind, New York Times Magazine, 17 October 2004.
When starting the FM website I thought we’d present facts that would provoke debate in the comments about their interpretation and analysis, and the resulting recommendations. People would express their different values and forecasts as we ran through the OODA loop, starting with observations, and discussing our Orientations, Decisions, and Actions.
I was naive. We almost never got beyond debate about facts. No matter how authoritative the sources or clear the data, partisans of Left and Right came out to debate the facts. Or more often, ignore them while denying them. I have often written about the similar reasoning and behavior of Left and Right in America (reliance on propaganda, reliance on ideology over facts) — both are Americans, after all — and this is the clearest demonstration.
Both sides love their facts, however fake. Scientists speak to us about the warming pause — its causes and likely duration — while Leftists deny their work (literally, they refuse to see it). Leftists build hysteria over a phony campus rape epidemic.
The Right too has a long history of refusing to see reality. The fiercest discussions on the FM website since 2003 were push-backs to my posts showing that the US was failing in Iraq and Afghanistan; millions still believe we won. Also provoking rebuttals were posts early 2008 about the ample data showing that the US was in recession (the NBER made it official in November 2008). As late as Summer they denied it — believing no recession was possible under Bush Jr. See these quotes from June 3 and some weird ones here.
Many on the Right believed that the government deliberately understates the rate of inflation. Some even pay Shadowstats to confirm their beliefs, despite the overwhelming evidence otherwise (details here). Others have crazy beliefs about Obama — that he’s a foreigner, Muslim, radical Leftist. Or that Saddam did have WMDs, and was an ally of al Qaeda.
(2) Why citizens need clear vision.
“Keep everything hazy in their minds now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in them the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords.”
— The demon Screwtape counseling the 1% about managing the transition from the Second Republic (under the Constitution) to the New America now under construction on its ruins. From The Screwtape Letters (1942).
We face a bleak future if we cannot find a common clear vision of our world. We cannot organize and take collective action without a common vision on some aspects of life. And if taking action, it cannot succeed unless based on a foundation of facts.
We see this in the fascinating comment thread to yesterday’s post about the murder of Tamir Rice and “our” (the White middle class’) discovery that the police frequently shoot unarmed Blacks. Since the police seldom hire evil monsters, there must be some reasons for this, however inadequate. Our typical response, erecting mental shields against new ideas (e.g., “denier”, “racist”), leads only to a dead end.
We have to confront our centuries of history. Slavery for Blacks in America, the following century of oppression, then the stormy civil rights era, and then the disintegration of Black families and communities. The result is generations scared by fetal alcohol syndrome, early age malnutrition, eating paint chips, lack of social stimulation in the early years (e.g., left in the crib to cry), absent fathers, minimal schools, and life in high-crime ungoverned zones.
We see the result in the racial disparities in the FBI’s collection of the Uniform Crime Reports by race.
The people who deal with this each day on the streets cannot afford our illusions. It’s a burden that must affect and alter their world views. As the NYPD shows us, we should expect resistance when we impose advice from the bleachers on those working the streets.
If we understand perhaps we can craft solutions that address both inner-city crime and over-policing. But nothing good will happen until we learn to see not just our side’s happy vision but the other side’s disturbing insights.
“… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5)
For More Information.
- Does America have clear vision? Here’s an “eye chart” for our minds., 15 June 2009.
- Are we blind, or just incurious about important news?, 6 July 2009.
- Facts are an obstacle to the reform of America, 20 October 2011.
- Examples of America’s broken vision. Here’s why we cannot clearly see our world., 21 October 2012.
- What does a “broken OODA loop” look like?, 23 October 2012.
- A nation lit only by propaganda, 3 June 2013.
- Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance., 29 October 2013.
- The missing but essential key to building a better America, 21 November 2013 — Clear sight about our condition.
- Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America, 24 November 2013.
- Today you can take the first step to reforming America, 6 February 2014 — Seeing the world clearly is revolutionary.
- We live in an age of ignorance, but can decide to fix this – today, 15 April 2014.