Republican Neoliberalism is Touching Us All.

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God bless Thom Hartmann. He has changed discussion boards numerous times since 2004, but he saved the second discussing board at http://thomhartmann.org/eve/forums that have my original research on fascism still up. I backed up the threads myself a longtime ago.

We are witnessing the consequences of forty years of Republican deregulation policies. BP and American energy companies has done everything humanly possible to not obey and comply with any safety regulation: they bribe, legislated loopholes, lobbied, got exemptions, propagandized, and simply ignored the safety regulations that the US Government complied to prevent an oil spill catastrophe. But in spite of all the subterfuge, the companies still had to install the blow out preventer--but nothing says the BOP actually has to work. Private Enterprise made another bet--a national security risk-- and we all lost.

With the current ongoing Oil Spill catastrophe in mind, I will quote myself from last January, 08.January.2005 8:51 PM.

Antifascist wrote...

No progressive individual is ever going to change the minds of conservatives into believing that this syndicate of fascists is leading to catastrophe. The only person that will do that is George Bush himself. Bush and the NeoCons are the ones that will create the massive conversion when government policies actually touch the skin of each American and not a moment before that time of personal crisis. They are too loyal, too committed, and too proud to admit failure. The body count however must reach the threshold of catastrophe and we are not there just yet. The threshold cannot be predicted because the State has unlimited power to hide the casualties of war and suppress economic failure. With mass media help, these fascists can go a longtime concealing crisis before total collapse and so be prepared for the body bags, war casualties, and the economically injured.

Secondly, the fascists have a system of massive fraud that cannot indefinitely defy the laws of gravity, the laws of economics, the laws of societal hegemony. So it will not collapse because we call it evil, but will collapse because it is evil and fundamentally unsound.

At this very moment entire ecosystems are dying. A dynamic cloud of toxic oil and dispersants is drifting under the ocean into the richest and consecrated biological Life Engines on planet earth. Death is washing upon the shores. Maybe the Gulf of Mexico Loop current will transport the toxic cloud all the way to Cape Kennedy, Florida where the US Government in 1970 dumped 3,000 TONS of nerve gas 280 miles off the Florida coast.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/images/1030-04.jpg1964, mustard gas canisters are pushed into the Atlantic Ocean off New Jersey

Or the undersea cloud of death may make its way to the New England Coast. This is where many oligarchs live.

The Army now admits that it secretly dumped 64 million pounds of nerve and mustard agents into the sea, along with 400,000 chemical-filled bombs, land mines and rockets and more than 500 tons of radioactive waste - either tossed overboard or packed into the holds of scuttled vessels.

A combination of the private corporation BP, and the government are systematically suppressing information and visual documentation of the flow of oil onto the beaches just as they suppressed the devastation Katrina 2005 and Ike in September 2008 to hide the lack of preparation. Before the BP Gulf of Mexico spill, the government is said by Republicans to be "interfering" with private enterprise, but after the spill they say the government is responsible--responsible to bailout out BP.

The government is in fact responsible to enforce safety regulations which they did not. Liability laws were left unchanged to reflect true liability costs, "The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, the operators of the offshore rig face no more than $75 million in liability for the damages that might be claimed by individuals, companies or the government, although they are responsible for the cost of containing and cleaning up the spill." BP actually filled out the safety review forms themselves and gave to regulators. It goes on, and on....until something happens that is so outrages, so grievous, so criminal, so violent that the government and the oligarchs they serve are clearly seen as the Enemy of all Humanity and this Earth.

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Antifascist
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I feel you, Antifascist.

However the term neoliberalism makes my eyes glaze over as do most other neo-somethings and post-somethings.

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It's a lot easier just to use the term neo-liberal than to explain basic precepts. However:

THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers' rights that had been won over many years of struggle.

CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES

DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.

PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.

ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" and replacing it with "individual responsibility."

http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/econ101/neoliberalDefined.html

Dems and Republicans both embrace neo-liberalism. Thus a continuation of outsourcing, private firms smack in the middle of health care reform, trickle down economics, the appointment of neo-liberal economists to head Obama's economic team, and the re-appointment of the Chief Neo-Liberal Economic Twit Bernanke to head the Fed.

Does that help the glazed-over eyes or do you require an explanation of neo-liberalism every time it's referred to? It's been explained over and over, Richard.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thanks for the deconstruction of neoliberalism, polycarp2.

Can't I just keep on lumping republicans, libertarians, conservatives, and neo-liberals in one basket and calling them Tories?

There are a lot of ways to break the issues separating camps of people today.

But what is the primary axis on which the US people are divided?” Is it liberals vs conservatives? Neo-conservatives vs neo-liberals? Rich vs poor? Religious vs secular? Young vs old?

I suggest that there is a deep underlying axis of difference that divides humanity into two groups. I suggest this axis could be defined as authoritarian vs egalitarian. I have made a list of attributes and ideas that are characteristic of each group at my blog Poor Richards Almanack 2010.

The page is called Town Hall Meeting: Class war, culture war, or holy war?.

I hope you and others will take a look and give some feedback either there or here.

(I would post it here but the formatting wouldn't transfer well)

Poor Richard

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Poor Richard
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I still don't quite see why the need for a new term, "neoliberalism", when the term "economic liberalism" means the same thing. In fact, the article cited seems to indicate the neoliberalism is in fact economic liberalism being advocated after a period of having fallen out of favor:

But the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That's what makes it "neo" or new.
In how it relates to ecnomics, are there new ideas in neoliberalism that would distinguish it from liberalism? Or are the two essentially synonyms? If they are synonyms, then I would argue that the term neoliberal hinders rather than enhances clarity.

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sg563
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As a left-winger it makes me ill to see the word "Liberal" (as in Neo-Liberalism) attached to anything having to do with conservative right-wing Republican ideology.

America is not a one-winged bird.

kwikfix
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Apr. 9, 2010 1:51 pm

Good question about this term “liberal.” Of course it’s a politically loaded term and inherently ambiguous—not that ambiguity is a bad thing. Terms like “conservative,” “liberal,” “Left and Right” can mean vastly different things even in the same conversation, but this ambiguity is what makes them useful and convenient labels.

In the economic schools of thought the meaning of “liberal” is vastly different than the ordinary meaning in politics. What is meant here by “liberalism” in economic theory is 19th century “classical liberalism” in which economic policy is an established stable medium of exchange, and removal of some regulation to commerce. What isn’t meant is the modern liberalism of Franklin Roosevelt or any liberal political party. NeoLiberalism in a variation of the old economic classical liberalism, but so are other schools of thought—like Keynesianism.

Neoliberalism is a political philosophy and a political-economic movement beginning in the 1960s -- and increasingly prominent since 1980 -- that de-emphasizes or rejects modern, New Deal, or statist liberal doctrines (new liberalism), focusing instead on achieving progress and even social justice by more free-market methods, especially an emphasis on economic growth, as measured by changes in real gross domestic product. Because of close association between this philosophy and neoclassical economics, and confusion with the overloaded term "liberal", the term "neoclassical philosophy" is advocated by some.

This doesn’t mean there is no funny business going on with this term “Neo-liberalism.” “Neo” is a Greek prefix that means “New,” or a “revival” of an old idea. “Neo” doesn’t necessary mean “better,” “true,” or even “coherent.” And I have seen the lame effort by some apologists to extract the term “liberal” and argue that the current economic failures are really the failures of political-economic liberalism over-regulating the marketplace. This propaganda point sort of works for Teabaggers, and the “Reptilian Brain.”

Before discussing the other schools for economic thought, I want to keep in mind the question: “Should markets be regulated or deregulated?” NeoLiberalism argues that markets should be deregulated, and then promptly regulates markets with monetary policies and monopoly forces.

Another tactic is to equivocate the term “Classical Liberalism” to mean all historical types of Social Liberalism before the 20th century, and then shift its meaning to mean “Free Markets.”

“Classical Economics” developed in the 18th and 19th centuries as the first school of economic thought and includes early philosophers as Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, Karl Marx, and John Stuart Mill.

Neoclassical Economics

By the middle of the nineteenth century, English-speaking economists generally shared a perspective on value theory and distribution theory. The value of a bushel of corn, for example, was thought to depend on the costs involved in producing that bushel. The output or product of an economy was thought to be divided or distributed among the different social groups in accord with the costs borne by those groups in producing the output. This, roughly, was the "Classical Theory" developed by Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Thomas Robert Malthus, John Stuart Mill, and Karl Marx.

But there were difficulties in this approach. Chief among them was that prices in the market did not necessarily reflect the "value" so defined, for people were often willing to pay more than an object was "worth." The classical "substance" theories of value, which took value to be a property inherent in an object, gradually gave way to a perspective in which value was associated with the relationship between the object and the person obtaining the object. Several economists in different places at about the same time (the 1870s and 1880s) began to base value on the relationship between costs of production and "subjective elements," later called "supply" and "demand." This came to be known as the Marginal Revolution in economics, and the overarching theory that developed from these ideas came to be called neoclassical economics. (The first to use the term "neoclassical economics" seems to have been the American economist Thorstein Veblen.)

...Neoclassical economics is what is called a metatheory. That is, it is a set of implicit rules or understandings for constructing satisfactory economic theories. It is a scientific research program that generates economic theories. Its fundamental assumptions are not open to discussion in that they define the shared understandings of those who call themselves neoclassical economists, or economists without any adjective. Those fundamental assumptions include the following:

1. People have rational preferences among outcomes.
2. Individuals maximize utility and firms maximize profits.
3. People act independently on the basis of full and relevant information.

Theories based on, or guided by, these assumptions are neoclassical theories.

So the next school in economic theory or meta-theory (“meta” is another Greek term meaning “after” or “beyond” as in “meta-logic” stating the rules for making logical axioms, or “meta-physics” as in Aristotle’s comments “after the physics” ) was the “Marginal Revolution” that characterized Neoclassical economics.

NeoLiberalism:

Neoliberalism is a market-driven[1] approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that maximise the role of the private business sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state.

By the 1990s, however, the term "neoliberalism" had become a pejorative to classical liberal critics, who dismissed it as a catchphrase invented by academic radicals to denigrate the ideas of Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek.

And that is the way I define “NeoLiberalism”: warmed over Hayek, and Uncle Milton. The goal of NeoLiberalism is to stop regulation of private enterprise by manipulating manufacturing, and financial markets for corporate benefit exclusively. They claim that markets will regulate themselves and intervention is rarely needed and rely instead on Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand. This belief could be called, "NeoLiberalism's Theory of Immaculate Conception in Market Management"-- human intervention is unnecessary. Today we see the matured structure of Neoliberalism that evolved into a mutant strain of Capitalism wherein its own financial capital is used to bet against itself: high finance is a parasite consuming its host with debt peonage.

We see the same meta-theory argument in the debate of Constitutional interpretation--hands off or laissez faire--let it be. The Federalist Society argues that the constitutional should be interpreted according to the original intent and meaning. This is a new theory of legal interpretation since Reagan in the 1980s. It draws upon other schools of legal interpretation like Positivism and Textualism. The Originalists argue that activist judges harm the meaning and purpose of the United States Constitution by creating new rights and laws that were not originally in the US Constitution. It’s a “hands off” principle of interpretation that prohibits application of constitutional principles to modern society. Yet, members of the Federalist Society get on the Supreme Court, the are the most activist of all. Take Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Justices, 5-4, rejecting corporate spending limits for an example of this very activism the Originalists condemned. This question of spending limits wasn’t even in the original case about a documentary called “Hillary: The Movie,” a 90-minute political hit piece released during the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008 produced by Citizens United, a conservative nonprofit corporation. This court decision resulted in fully opening the unlimited money boxes of corporations to purchase political power.

Originalism's avoidance to making normative legal decisions is a calculated effort to hold back the legislature from making broad regulatory government policies. Judges, like Scalia, are deceptively advocating a theory of legal interpretation which is designed to diminish the court’s role in protecting society and realizing democracy. Originalism's goal is to undermine the legislative and judicial function of the courts by instituting a dysfunctional interpretive ideology that achieves its goal by abstaining from reinforcing the values and principles of a normative democratic legal framework. Originalism is activist by its commitment to omission of upholding the principles and norms of democracy. But publicly this laisser passer, do-nothing, doctrine of constitutional interpretation is presented as being cautious, objective, conservative, and original to the constitution's meaning. Originalism is an ideological mechanism for changing the minds, judgments, and values of its adherents by providing a frame of reference for systematic falsification.

We can see this same NeoConservative principle in both their legal and economic theories. NeoLiberalism rejects regulation for the common purpose and wants a “do-nothing” economic model—except when such intervention is meant to save the “Free Market System,” or their private industry. So it really turns out that both schools intervene into the marketplace to control money supply, prices, interest rates, and production. The real question then is "What kind of intervention should we be doing?"

Antifascist's picture
Antifascist
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Dictionary definitions with fancy words sound intelligent but read awful. No one cares about this stuff as it's full of opinion. Get over it and do something that matters.

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brother
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

That's your opinion. You don't write fancy neither. Go to 7-Eleven and get a big gulp. u feel better.

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Antifascist
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Quote Antifascist:
Neoliberalism is a political philosophy and a political-economic movement beginning in the 1960s -- and increasingly prominent since 1980 -- that de-emphasizes or rejects modern, New Deal, or statist liberal doctrines (new liberalism), focusing instead on achieving progress and even social justice by more free-market methods, especially an emphasis on economic growth, as measured by changes in real gross domestic product. Because of close association between this philosophy and neoclassical economics, and confusion with the overloaded term "liberal", the term "neoclassical philosophy" is advocated by some.
NeoLiberalism:

Neoliberalism is a market-driven[1] approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that maximise the role of the private business sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state.

By the 1990s, however, the term "neoliberalism" had become a pejorative to classical liberal critics, who dismissed it as a catchphrase invented by academic radicals to denigrate the ideas of Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek.

Well, you've done your usual good job with the overview explanation of an ambiguous and complicated subject, stuff we've worked over many times over the last six years or so. And yes, the principles of Originalism are embedded in conservative thinking, just as one can embed them in discussions of authoritarianism, which one finds in some versions of thought labeled liberal. But they are not the Enlightenment version of liberalism -- the radical individualism that tends towards anarchism and a self actuated, freedom of association social democracy, not in principle.

So I just thought I'd share one of my resources, if you're interested, so you don't get the famous Wiki Slam that the cons like to toss at ya when something, even from Wiki, is actually not that bad as a starting point (for the interested, which they generally are not). You know how they love to use the logical fallacy of attacking the source instead of the substance:

Neoliberalism: origins, theory, definition

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Neoliberalism is well understood in Latin America. Go South of the Border ! We in the US need to take some lessons from Americans who have struggled for decades against neo-liberalism. In Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil and even El Salvador and Nicaragua they are beginning to turn the tide.

Now that neoliberal policies have come home to roost with 'austerity' programs imposed on our states in crisis they are being felt viscerally in the US. It seems to me that both the rank-and-file Tea Party and the left fed up with Obama are reacting to the similarities between Obama's kind, corporate, neo-liberal policies and the neo-con (=violent neo-liberal) policies of GWB.

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LeMoyne
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Thanks for the resources--I have seen it before on your website "An Assembler's blog " a few years ago and is one of the best summaries around. Wiki is fine for getting background facts about a subject. I always check out the parts of a article I quote and that it doesn't contradict the information in other academic economic text books and histories. I have taken enough economics and 19th Century History of Philosophy courses to know if there is something fishy.

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Antifascist
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Quote Antifascist:

Thanks for the resources--I have seen it before on your website "An Assembler's blog " a few years ago and is one of the best summaries around. Wiki is fine for getting background facts about a subject. I always check out the parts of a article I quote and that it doesn't contradict the information in other academic economic text books and histories. I have taken enough economics and 19th Century History of Philosophy courses to know if there is something fishy.

:-)

Do they even teach 19th Century History of Philosophy these days?

Problem is when you try to bring the topic to the board, there's all this background no one knows much about, and then you get some jerk off telling you to go do something useful and stop boring them with the details.

LeMoyne... true enough. South America is way ahead of the definition game on this neoliberal globalization topic. And the distinction between the neocon imperial violence and the neoliberal imperial democracy promotion is worth a discussion for those who haven't been there.

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.ren
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William K. Black Banking regulator (1,000 S&L successful felony prosecutions) describes the present banking fraud which is 40 times larger than the 1980s S&L theft (6-10-15 Trillion dollars). Where are the bank loses?

-The drop in net demand in this recession is about $6 Trillion dollars. Obama's stimulus plan is $800 Billion.

-Goldman Sachs is a SDI (Systemically Dangerous Institution)

Interview starts at 12:49 minutes into video.

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Antifascist
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Hooray. Here come the posts where I actually feel like I am learning something again.

I hope you fellows will remain here, you have been missed. And you add vital, intelligent debate which seems to have been intentionally drowned out over the months/years(?)

What is going to happen if the banks collapse again? Where is the bailout going to come from?

These institutions seems to have these governments (and its not just happening in the USA) by the nads...(so to speak)

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meljomur
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Quote Antifascist:

William K. Black Banking regulator (1,000 S&L successful felony prosecutions) describes the present banking fraud which is 40 times larger than the 1980s S&L theft (6-10-15 Trillion dollars). Where are the bank loses?

-The drop in net demand in this recession is about $6 Trillion dollars. Obama's stimulus plan is $800 Billion.

-Goldman Sachs is a SDI (Systemically Dangerous Institution)

Interview starts at 12:49 minutes into video.

Excellent link, Anti.

Kaiser brings up a number of important points in the video, important at least for those interested in understanding what's taking place. If you read the collapse literature, one of the key factors of all the different forms of human social collapse is a perpetual ignoring of human created environmental degradation and resource depletion.

At the beginning, Keiser points out that the present day problem goes back two hundred years (he may be a bit short sighted in his vision with that number). He relates it to a philosophical ignore--ance embedded in Adam Smith's conception of the free market in capitalist systems while formulating his Wealth of Nations, which we do find prevalent in much of modern economic theory. Smith, Kaiser notes, neglected to factor in environmental costs in his Wealth of Nations accounting system.

I too have found this blank spot over and over in the thinking of most economic theorist, at least until I ran across thinkers like Herman Daly, once the Senior Economist in the Environment Department of the World Bank, a position he walked a way from in frustration as he turned to academics I suppose in hopes of building a future cadre of thinkers who would at least be introduced to the concepts in ecology. Daly is noted as one of the founders of a somewhat newish school of economics that includes ecology: ecological economics. It's a set of ideas that is probably too little too late to influence and possibly save the current system before it collapses, but the ideas are beginning to get some legs because they figured into the latest Nobel Prize Award in Economics, which went to Elinor Ostrom, founder of the International Association for the Study of the Commons and I believe she's a member of the Society for Ecological Economics, or at least she's considered one of their colleagues.

Along with raising alarm bells about the parts of the system that's currently unraveling, It's worth understanding and contrasting this still developing perspective in economics. With that contrast, we have something besides a mute blankness to imagine if we are going to attempt to understand just how bankrupt the current system has become, and exactly why that bankruptcy was inevitable, as Kaiser suggests, and why it will inevitably repeat until the entire self centered philosophical paradigm it rests upon is fully exposed so a new paradigm can unfold. Here's a little bit from Herman Daly from this ecological economics perspective:

VALUING THE EARTH: Economics, Ecology, Ethics

Sustainable Growth: An Impossibility Theorem

Impossibility statements are the very foundation of science. It is impossible to: travel faster than the speed of light; create or destroy matter-energy; build a perpetual motion machine, etc. By respecting impossibility theorems we avoid wasting resources on projects that are bound to fail. Therefore economists should be very interested in impossibility theorems, especially the one to be demonstrated here, namely that it is impossible for the world economy to grow its way out of poverty and environmental degradation. In other words, sustainable growth is impossible.

In its physical dimensions the economy is an open subsystem of the earth ecosystem, which is finite, nongrowing, and materially closed. As the economic subsystem grows it incorporates an ever greater proportion of the total ecosystem into itself and must reach a limit at 100 percent, if not before. Therefore its growth is not sustainable. The term "sustainable growth" when applied to the economy is a bad oxymoron—self-contradictory as prose, and unevocative as poetry.

Challenging the Economic Oxymoron

Economists will complain that growth in GNP is a mixture of quantitative and qualitative increase and therefore not strictly subject to physical laws. They have a point. Precisely because quantitative and qualitative change are very different it is best to keep them separate and call them by the different names already provided in the dictionary. To grow means "to increase naturally in size by the addition of material through assimilation or accretion." To develop means "to expand or realize the potentialities of; to bring gradually to a fuller, greater, or better state." When something grows it gets bigger. When something develops it gets different. The earth ecosystem develops (evolves), but does not grow. Its subsystem, the economy, must eventually stop growing, but can continue to develop. The term "sustainable development" therefore makes sense for the economy, but only if it is understood as "development without growth"—i.e., qualitative improvement of a physical economic base that is maintained in a steady state by a throughput of matter-energy that is within the regenerative and assimilative capacities of the ecosystem. Currently the term "sustainable development" is used as a synonym for the oxymoronic "sustainable growth." It must be saved from this perdition.

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.ren
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One problem:

Keiser repeatedly refers to the economic collapse of Argentina. I'd suggest the U.S. has intensified the policies that brought about the Argentine collapse...and have posted video links explaining precisely how that collapse came about..

Repeated here. 12 parts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH6_i8zuffs

World class economist Michaell Hudson refers to it as "one last, great heist" when he refers to the U.S..

Another problem: The environment. A sustainable economy is one that can continue doing what it's doing indefinately. Obviously, we can't. The environment is in a rapid, accelerating meltdown. That's pretty obvious when you watch foreign news sources....they cover it!

Then we have empire:

QUOTE: "The first step in fighting back against this onslaught is the realization that America is A, an empire, and B, on the downward slope of something bigger than a U or V shaped recession. We aren’t fighting just against Republicans and Democrats won’t save us unless forced to do so. The contradictions inherent in our system have finally finished it off and we are all caught in its death throes. When we organize it must be because we realize the enormity of our situation. Yes, we must fight against gentrification and war and we must fight for environmental sustainability. Yet none of those desired outcomes will ever come to pass unless we know precisely what we are up against".

"We are up against an empire which like its predecessors will not go quietly. They never do, but they can be beaten and real civilization can be saved if we acknowledge who and what we are fighting."

Full article here: http://www.counterpunch.org/kimberley08132010.html

Unless people begin getting that we are on the verge of a very real, highly probable collapse...they'll continue debating who can marry who, the size of bankster bonuses. (rather than jail time for fraud) ..and continue attempting to tweak a system that has become untweakable.

The system itself has led to capture of government by the very power brokers that prevent solutions being adopted that would substantially change the direction in which we are heading.."One last, great heist", described by Mr. Hudson says it all. We're quickly running out of time.

Nothing, absolutely nothing substantial has changed under Pres. Obama. We continue heading towards a fast approaching cliff. Frankly, I don't know what the solution is when the people who have solutions ...including Nobel Laureates...are locked out of government and the decision making processes...while those intensifying the problems are firmly entrenched..

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thank you meljomur for taking the time to read my endless boring posts!

Yes, this is a new ground for me: factoring in environmental costs.

Let me say before going on...That was the best interview I ever heard about our current economic situation. I have been listening to Keiser and some the interviews are just phenomenal. But William Black was the best. I listened to the interview three times, and parts more than that. All of these details are absent from the mainstream press. William Black sees it all happening again except bigger and covered up by Wall Street government regulators, aka, Obama’s administration.

I liked your summary Polycarp2. I knew you would enjoy William Black...."They are hidding the debt as unsold inventory like the Japanese have for two decades." Will Wall Street hold out for two decades hiding its debt? Wall Street has a tremendous abiltiy to endure indefinitely the suffering of others.

External costs. It's a black hole concept and it distrubed me: a black hole into which all questions of values and possibilities are consumed. Thom has mentioned this many times. The problem arose for me also reading, "The Technological Society," a massive and dense work by Jacques Ellul--the Christian anarchist. My kind of Christian. I never finished the book.

The relevant concept--I promise it's relevant-- is "The Autonomy of Technique" in which organization work in the most "efficient" manner. Any other consideration harms performance. This concept saturates our society.

...industrial plant is a whole in itself, a "closed organism," an end in itsef. ...What is fabricated in this plant and what is the goal of its labor--these are questions outside its design." The complete separation of the goal from the mechanism, the limitation of the problem to the means, and the refusal to interfere in any way with efficiency...lies at the basis of technical autonomy.

The Technological Society,Jacques Ellul,1964, page 133.

So the rest of the world is an externality to the industrial plant. "Nature is a service station" as Heidegger once said. Jacques goes further and actually argues that technique is autonomous with respect to economics and politics: separating technology from economics (same page 133). This is a non-Marxian interpretation.

I could develop an excellent argument that in fact our economic system is dictating technology. Corporations determine research and development projects along with directing University research for technology in the use of mass commodity production. Economics shapes technology for mass commodity production, or GNP Growth. Or is this how the autonomy of technique is expressed in our society? A scientific methodology that stresses specialization, means and not ends, scientific positivism, and efficiency would compound this very problem. In other words, there is a built in bias with a methodology that focuses on “Fact” and then tries to derive Values from Fact. Rigged conventional wisdom, or worse, narrow special eco-political interests fill the ethical void with other proprietary goals.

Value cannot be derived from Fact. This is to say that “ought” cannot be derived from “Is.” We cannot appeal to facts to define values. Philosopher G.E. Moore called this the “naturalistic fallacy.” This is the fallacy from construing the “is” of attribution as an “is” of identity. For example, because pleasure “is” good, good is identical to pleasure. This is the naturalistic fallacy. If we equate the meaning of “good” with some determinate characteristic, we make it impossible to discuss whether that characteristic is good. Because if these said characteristics are what “good” means, there can be no point in asking whether they are good. Ethical terms cannot be defined in terms of non-ethical ones.

We can build thousand nuclear power plants, but nuclear science cannot be used to resolve the question of should we, or “ought” we, build nuclear power plants. “Ought” cannot be derived from “is.” The facts of nuclear science cannot be used to settle essential “normative” (ethical) questions of how we should utilized that science. Nuclear technology may be used to determine means, but not ends. Currently, the situation with technology is “if it can be done, it should be done.” This is the distinction between “calculative” thinking (quantitative) and “meditative” thinking (qualitative)—Heidegger again.

The “externalities” turned out to be our living room. The gulf oil spill is a good example. What was external to BP was internal to Gulf of Mexico fishermen. So one method--this is back to my frustration with how to address distinction between what we can do and what we should do—is to bring the externalities back into our decision making for mass consumer production and distribution with the “Impossibility Theorem.” Increasing consumer production is linear and upward growth that is essentially a technological reproduction project, but “development” is about organization and prioritization of goals and purposes. The logic of possibility/impossible is called “modal logic.” Questions about “potentialities” are dangerous because such thinking necessarily contradict the perceived facts—another symptom of a specific type of positivistic empiricism. It’s best to stick to the “facts” as the Plant would say. The goal is obvious--more production --focus on the Objective and do not acknowledge the Subjective where possibilities reside. Herman Daly is showing us one way to make this paradigmatic shift. These are new values that the collapsing "GNP Growth Virus" is teaching: failure to plan for the long term, industrial disasters, financial disasters, and ecological disasters are costly for individuals and the markets.

Let's not forgot that the death of ecologies, above and below the ocean surface, is accompanied by a side show in the collapsing of mass consumer production. At the same time we experience ecological damage from uncontrolled growth, we also suffer when production, for whatever reason, winds down.

In every crisis, society is suffocated beneath the weight of its own productive forces and products, which it cannot use, and stands helpless, face to face with the absurd contradiction that the producers have nothing to consume because consumers are wanting.

Engels, March 1880

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Antifascist
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Antifascist wrote: I could develop an excellent argument that in fact our economic system is dictating technology. Corporations determine research and development projects along with directing University research for technology in the use of mass commodity production. Economics shapes technology for mass commodity production, or GNP Growth. Or is this how the autonomy of technique is expressed in our society? A scientific methodology that stresses specialization, means and not ends, scientific positivism, and efficiency would compound this very problem. In other words, there is a built in bias with a methodology that focuses on “Fact” and then tries to derive Values from Fact. Rigged conventional wisdom, or worse, narrow special eco-political interests fill the ethical void with other proprietary goals.

So one method--this is back to my frustration with how to address distinction between what we can do and what we should do—is to bring the externalities back into our decision making for mass consumer production and distribution with the “Impossibility Theorem.” Increasing consumer production is linear and upward growth that is essentially a technological reproduction project, but “development” is about organization and prioritization of goals and purposes. The logic of possibility/impossible is called “modal logic.” Questions about “potentialities” are dangerous because such thinking necessarily contradict the perceived facts—another symptom of a specific type of positivistic empiricism. It’s best to stick to the “facts” as the Plant would say. The goal is obvious--more production --focus on the Objective and do not acknowledge the Subjective where possibilities reside. Herman Daly is showing us one way to make this paradigmatic shift. These are new values that the collapsing "GNP Growth Virus" is teaching: failure to plan for the long term, industrial disasters, financial disasters, and ecological disasters are costly for individuals and the markets.

-----------------

poly replies:

Exquisitely and exactingly stated...and why I continually state that the structures themselves contradict finding solutions.. They are creating the problems.

An example: The existing structures developed mass auto production/sales possibilities....because we technologically could. Included was a means to maximize production AND distribution. One way to develop that was to buy and dismantle existing light rail systems. That was effectively done by GM, Firestone Tires and Standard Oil of Calif. ...the 3 top structural beneficiaries at the time..

They bought them, sold rights of way, tore up the tracks....and then dysfunctional and slow GM bus systems were relinquished back to local authorities. The creation of a market for autos/tires/gasoline accomplished. It shaped the urban spraw that our cities developed into.

Rather than long-term planning years ago, we're now playing catch-up at enormous costs to regain was what torn apart... and could have been added to over a long period of time...way cheaper than the parking lots we call freeways. Our cities have spread into cities a hundred miles wide or more divided up only by lines on a map....making true mass transit almost unfeasable when it's most needed.. Cities grew outward rather than upward.

Externalities...consequences.... outside of our decision making processes. They are self-feeding by the structures themselves...and the thought processes that make them up..

Just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should.

We have the technolgical expertise to blow up mountain tops and scrap out the coal with massive machines...and do it. The means for immediate cheaper technological extraction doesn't consider the end....a poisoning of water supplies already underway from heavy metals, mercury, arsenic, etc....and the disappearance of close to 1,000 miles of streams. Externalities.

Excellent post, Antifascist. Excellent.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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I just have to add, I do find it ironic that Max Keiser broadcasts on Russia Today.

I mean Russia is one of the most corrupt economies out there. We lived in Moscow for a year, and the street we lived on had 24 hour machine gun clad guards, to protect the VIP residents of the area. It was both "private" citizens and government officials.

Russia is still operated by oligarchs only now in partnership with the government. Which I suppose is the same thing which is happening in the US.

Do the Russians think if they focus more on the corruption of America, it deflects from what is happening in their own borders?

I can't help but wonder what Max Keiser REALLY thinks about all of this.

Anyway, not trying to get off topic, its just an observation.

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Note RT news is generated for English-speaking audiences...and is a profitable enterprise. While revealing the functions of market ideology in the U.S., it doesn't threaten the oligarchs in Russia who profit from the same behaviors in Russia.

The pot calling the kettle black doesn't change what's actually so. His interview with the man involved in cleaning up the S& L mess was right on.

The current crop of banksters should join the previous crop of 1,000 S & L . banksters...in prison. Same sort of thing.

Kleptocracies plunder the countries they function in.

An interesting thing about Keiser...what he reports can be verified by U.S. sources/economists when you dig for them outside of the very silent mainstream. That works the other way around as well. Sometimes, Keiser verifies what I already know. from U.S. sources....Roberts, Hudson, Stiglitz, Hedges, etc.

What is so is what is so...regardless of what one thinks about it.

The structures themselves contraindicate solutions...its the structures themselves...and how they function, that are creating the problems.

Global warmng is one exmple of that. The oil comanies are merely doing what their strucures lead them to do ...the externality, global warming, doesn't enter into their decision-making process which is merely concerned with maximization of extractions of oil, maximization of sales, and maximization of profits.. Costs ot the externality, global warming, are born by someone else. It isn't a part of their decision making process. The same could be said of finance, etc.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Considering even the simple fact that meanings of words change over time, ignoring intent can bring about an interpretation of law that is the opposite of what it was intended to do..

The intent of the 14th Amendment was to assure civil rights guarantees for freed blacks. It's intent wasn't to give personhood to corporations.

The Supreme Court has ruled that as long as due process was adhered to....evidence in support of even absolute innocence can be ignored if it's presented after all legal processes....the texts.... have been adhered to. That probably isn't the intent of the justice system. Texas,in particular adheres to that ruling. Guilt/innocence become irrelevant on the way to the gallows.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

polycarp2
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Thank you Polycarp2 and Meljomer.

I know your background is in economic Polycarp2, and I am so glad you liked my post.

The auto industry is an excellent example of this systemic contradiction. We are married to fossil fuels because the drilling, refinement, and distribution of oil is the source of money and power for an oligopoly of companies. We are married to an obsolete and self destructive energy source because it maintains the power status quo.

The irony is that the destruction of the Bay Area Rail system was a "plan" and it worked. Plans are implemented all the time, but we just don't know what plans are being put in place until after the fact, like private for profit prisons, or stun guns, computerized voting, wiretapping, or ultra deep sea experimental drilling.

“…the structures themselves contradict finding solutions....”

And that is when the stalemated contradictory situation forces an antithetical solution. It’s pure Logic! ...meaning, this is a rule of Logical necessity. This is the Hegelian notion of “determinate negation” to find a force for change and agent for the transformation of society. Hegel, a philosopher and Christian theologian, viewed historical movement as following a universal law (Logic) of dialectical movement between opposing thesis, antithesis, and resulting in a higher synthesis. There is a process of conflict and negation before a synthesis can be reached, but the synthesis is only possible because of the original conflict between to opposing poles. So in a sense the negation is retained in the new form of a synthesis. It really counts to have Logic on your side.

Meljomer you have really traveled and even lived in a number of countries. I am sure you can tell us a lot about Russia. Max has gone to Russia a few times and has been on their radio programs and the TV programs are likely taped somewhere else. He is based in France. He also does three other weekly radio program named, "The Truth about Markets" for London, US, NewZeland.

What does Keisier really think? That is what I like most about Keisier: he thinks out loud. You can hear him formulate his ideas on the spot and they are often brilliant with powerful insights. Thom does the same thing. I have learned a lot from both.

Melijour wrote, "It was both "private" citizens and government officials. ... Anyway, not trying to get off topic, its just an observation."

Not at all. In fact I wanted to follow Ellul's further where he explains how the Autonomy of Technique works in law enforcement organizations. We really need to talk about Law Enforcement while it's still "civilian" but it may already be too late.

"The police must be independent if they are to become efficient. They must form a closed, autonomous organization in order to operate but they must by the most direct and efficient means and not be shackled by subsidiary considerations. And in this autonomy, they must be self-confident in respect to the law. It matters little whether police action is legal, if it is efficient. The rules obeyed by a technical organization are no longer rules of justice or injustice. They are "laws" in a purely technical sense. As far as the police are concerned, the highest stage is reached when the legislature legalizes its independence of the legislature itself and recognizes the primacy of technical laws. This is the opinion of Best, a leading German specialist in police matters. "

The Technological Society,Jacques Ellul,1964, page 133.

This is exactly the reasoning we have seen with the massive growth of security organizations that have sprung up in the last ten years. Fear and efficiency are the two conceptual tools being used to reinforce the Police State. We have discussed extensively this shift from law as justice to law as technique.

Our current Supreme court is dominated by a school of legal interpretation known as, "Original Meaning" and is actually a combination of three legal theories of interpretation: Legal Formalism, Legal Positivism, and Textualism. Firstly, it analytically separates empirical legal reasoning from normative issues and political concerns. Authorial subjective intent is irrelevant. Originalism assumes legal formalism which is concerned with what the law “says” and not with what it “should say.” True interpretation of law requires analytic understanding of language, formal logic, and definitions. Secondly, this theory of legal interpretation is also positivistic because it views law as strictly an institutional, or bureaucratic process of government. Again, intent of the author is irrelevant. Thirdly, the theory of Original Meaning is a form of Textualism that holds that a legal text’s ordinary meaning (not just dictionary definitions) as understood by a reasonable person’s reading of that text should determine interpretation. Non-textual information such as intention, purpose, system objectives, designs, fundamental values, or goals is external --ex post facto-- to the interpretative meaning of law. Subjective “intension” is expelled from legal reasoning by three different interpretive criteria by Originalism.

Definition of Serfdom.

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In my experience, the USA and Russia are far more alike than they are different. Its funny there is still such a propaganda war going on in both countries, to counter the other.

Regarding your last comment Anti., I have always been perplexed at the original intent argument of the Constitution. I mean how on earth can anyone (without a shadow of a doubt) fully comprehend what the Founding Fathers wanted for this nation.

The fact that the Constitution has been amended so many times over the centuries, certainly shows that original intent is a bit meaningless.

This is why its so difficult for me to take the whole Tea Party movement seriously. I mean do most of those people even understand what it is they are advocating for? Are there really so many people in America, who are so easily brainwashed?

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What difference does the originators' intent make. Isn't that concern itself the very basis for authoritarian thinking? A kind of unacknowledged reverence for authority of those who "know better" (like children may think of parents) instead of having the courage of self reliance on our own minds in the circumstances we find ourselves? Don't we have our own problems to deal with today that are far different than the ones they were struggling with? They took their best shot at creating some rules of order for their time and circumstances. The "laws" of the land aren't immutable laws of the universe. They aren't set in stone for eternity because some superior being(s) knew best and thereby designed and set up the perfect universe. Some people just manage to convince themselves to believe that. That's how hegemony works. In the end their ideas, formulated as a Constitution, are rules we must agree to, and as a whole must actively continue to legitimate by our free will and daily association with each other in order to keep orderly relationships and mutual respect amongst ourselves at some modicum of civility.

This bold kind of self actuated thinking is, of course, the basis for the despised "liberal" theories of law that you will find referred to by fundamentalist, positivist legal thinkers in some of the foulest terms. There's a certain irony about the whole issue of responsibility that comes into play here. Responsibility from an authoritarian outlook is being responsible to the word of the strict parent and following the rules. While responsibility to a liberal thinker is related to the self and an existential action in the moment based on a whole array of human factors that make the authoritarian cringe at the possibilities for chaos and anarchy that could take place. (Hence you need a police state to make this messy behavior orderly and efficient.) Makes me wonder, not for the first time: Why are they so afraid to be responsible for their own actions in dealing directly with each other? Why do they give away their autonomy in an appeal to the intent of now long gone people who wrote those words?

I think this brings us around to how Jacques Ellul's concept of sociological propaganda actually takes place in society, how free thinking people become programmed, and how his notion of the technological society becomes the rule... a harsh rule of linar logic that evolves into the dominating technique of efficiency, where efficiency becomes the authority that rules, rather than the interpersonal, empathy founded in the whole brained reasoning of a living human being. Technology is entirely logical, machine-like in creation as well as our employment of it. It is oddly enough the result of the Age of Reason where the dominance of "reasonable men" transforms into a dominance of reason, or logic, which comes down to who is the best at interpreting what that ontological truth really is. And they beome the elites leading the sheep. Here's a video where Jacques talks about how this takes place through The Treachery of Technology.

Is there life in the machines....? We ask those questions in our literature sometimes: Books and movies like I Robot, the Terminator series, Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Which was the basis for the movie Blade Runner.

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Speaking of "Bladerunner" (movie based on Dick's book) we seem to be headed towards that world unless we throw up a lot of resistance. Ridley Scott in his commentary to the film calls the form of government in that movie "corporate communism." That would be where the corporations run everything including the government. It's up to us to stick out our feet and trip them on the way.

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Antifascist wrote: At one point he stated Freedom and Technology will always conflict. It depends if "conflict" is an essential part of his definition technology, but then he would be arguing a tautology. I don't think Ellul would reason that way. I think he is saying the two are incompatible like organized Religion (codificaton) and Spirituality are incompatible

poy relies: Yep.

I noted from the video how he pointed out all previous societies held nature itself sacred....now technology is sacred and nature irrelevant.

If it's a question of extracting a resource, and nature gets in the way, nature has to go. It doesn't even enter into the equation. If the planet has to go...I guess the planet has to go. It's a self-feeding mindset. Self-feeding institutional set.

Note addressing global warming comes down to..."how do we keep our toys?"....not in seeing our "sacred" ties to that which gives us life which traditional societies saw so clearly. Giving up toys and embracing a new life-style isn't in the equation. The movie Avatar stuck a note...at some level, people are aware something vastly important to their lives is missing...and their toys don't fill the void...I wish they'd think it through.

It's tragic not only because of what we do to other species...but what we are doing to ourselves.. We were created innately to live within nature...we are joined to it physically and emotionally at the genetic level. Popping pills is one way we address our self-induced alienation from it..Technology...and the stuff if creates...can't replace that basic human need recognized by traditional societies..

What is drug addiction but an adaptation of the "Roman Circus"? Ditto the other diversions we partake in to replace something missing...that we can't put our fingers on. Those who can't afford such things as anti-depressants or diversions crack. Our mental health facilitiies are overwhelmed. A kid i mentioned the other day in ahother thread was hauled away again...mental problems. The nearest available bed is over 100 miles away..

I was taken by the video's plastic, half-dead people hastening to plastic jobs to maintain their plastic unsatisfying lives...to maintain the very structural technologies that are killing them...

It sometimes seems we are on a self-perpetuating treadmill...carrying humanity to a shredder...like expired plastic credit cards.

I once mentioned to Ren that we needed large scale enterprises like steel so we could build bridges and the like. I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't be better off going back to wooden ferries on a pulley to get from one side of a stream to another. ...and stop the racing of trucks from one end of the continent to the other carrying produce from distant farms, Stop covering unrecoverable farmland with concrete and grow foods locally.

A small stream down the road was put into a pipe to build light rail. They should have let the stream be, and put a walking path beside it...with an occasional bench to rest on. I suppose the animals/birds that depended upon it will die..There was room for the light rail and the stream. It never flooded. They "piped it" just because they technologically could...and someone made money doing that.

If we keep racing towards environmental collapse, choices like that may be made for us. Man's best friend may become a horse rather than a dog. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing with a global population unwillingly reduced by billions...by nature..The U.S. will participate in that reduction.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

...

polycarp2
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That is the first time I ever heard or saw Jacques Ellul. Thank you Ren. I see the film date as 1996. Notice that Ellul doesn't use Marxian language (I saw his library in the video) and does his analysis of Capitalism, from my point of view, in terms of "Technique." He is critiquing Capitalism at a deeper ideological level. Just when you think you have identified most "sociological propagandistic," traps, new ones embedded within scientific methodologies emerge. We may not be able to escape methodological biases, but we must a least identify them in order to be conscious and therefore, Free to chose. Ellul wants us to ask Ethical and Spiritual questions about risk, efficiency, cost (a very central Neoliberal economic concept), and reflexive use of power. The issue of cost by the way can be carried on in the same terms as Keisier 's does of market finance and investment--"What is the "true" cost including all "externalities" of having oil and Clorexit settle upon the deep scattering layer (DSL)---a massive community of living creatures thousands of feet below the ocean surface?" At one point he stated Freedom and Technology will always conflict. It depends if "conflict" is an essential part of his definition technology, but then he would be arguing a tautology. I don't think Ellul would reason that way. I think he is saying the two are incompatible like organized Religion (codification) and Spirituality are incompatible.

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Hey, Polycarp2,

You quoted me before I saved my post! That's pretty neat.

To address this question about religious doctrine or, "Ortho" (true) "Doxy" (belief) or orthodoxy.

Amazingly this issue of the incompatibility of religious codification (Objective Law) and true Spirituality (Subjective Intent) is the major theme of the Christian New and Old Testament. Someone should tell the Christians. As Kierkegaard said of the essence of Christianity, "Truth is Subjectivity." The whole point of the New Testament is that the "Old Law" failed, or served its purpose, and a new covenant was to be created. Remember Abraham being ordered by God to sacrifice Isaac in violation to the religious laws of his time. Remember the trap the Pharisees set for Christ in asking him if the prostitute should be stoned to death as Old Testament law demanded: If stoning was the legal punishment, then what was the intended trap?

This rejection of ridged codified Religious Law (The Torah) earned Christ the death penalty. Shouldn't all law breakers be punished? The Romans effciently completed the necessary technical steps for Capital punishment.

Ironically, Progressivism is identified by some as anti-religious but we--here- seem to appeal to historical religious debates and theologians more than the so called Conservative Christians.

Being a Spiritual persons means embracing ones beliefs and living by those principles as consistently as possible. You would think this critical lesson of Christianity, that Faith, not institutionalize codified doctrine, is the path to Spiritual salvation would be a natural annotate to dogmatic State subsidized Churches . Instead of wariness, Conservative American Christians build their faith on organizations that are more like corporations than Churches.

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Antifascist wrote: You quoted me before I saved my post! That's pretty neat.

--------------

Well,, when I see you'vre made a post...I jump right to it....eager to see what you've written. Maybe moderators get a preview before a post hits the board. I'll ask about that..

And yep, the law wasn't serving it's purpose...those adhering to the letter of Old Testament law and ignoring the intent of it were condemned as hypocrites.....thus the New Testament and clarification. Sort of like a Supreme Court ruling over-turning corrupt lower courts..

At this point, we probably need a Newer Testament!.A re-discovery of intent.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Such theological paradigm shifts--New to Old Testament-- is where Hegel, the great German Christian Theologian, developed his theories of historical movement: Dialectical development, Negation, Determinate Negation, and Spirit. World History is the Incarnation (Latin for 'meat') of God's Thoughts in Time. History is the phenomena (appearance) of Mind (God's Mind)--or the "Phenomenology of Mind," which was published in 1807. It is more of an encyclopedia of philosophical concepts than just historical data.

For Hegel, the inner movement of reality is the process of God thinking as manifested in the evolution of the universe of nature and thought; that is, Hegel argued that, when fully and properly understood, reality is being thought by God as manifested in man's comprehension of this process in and through philosophy.

Karl Marx turned Hegelianism on its head. Hegel was a philosophical Idealist, but his student, Marx , was a Dialectical Materialist (a term that cannot be found in any of Marx's writings).

For Hegel, Truth descends from Heaven to Earth; for Marx, Truth ascends from Earth to Heaven.

Marxism is a Christian heresy, not a non-Christian heresy.

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I admire you gentlemen tremendously. However I am stuck with the impression that you think that the only model the US can aspire to, is a much more simplistic existence. Where mass consumerism doesn't exist, and we embrace nature over technology.

Do any of you honestly believe that this is the next step the USA will take? I am not even sure which nations you are looking at as a model in which to move (I think poly likes some of the South American models). But how will this happen?

I mean the USA is the biggest polluter (per capita) on the planet. This means that for mass consumption to move toward (per capita) levels of say Bolivia or Argentina, you would have to fundamentally change the lives of 95% of the US population. Do you think that is feasible, well in our lifetimes?

Which is why I think as a more gradual step, moving toward a European model makes more sense for the USA. Now I have been struck down before on this board for this idea. But I have not been convinced at all that the USA is a nation which will go from being the biggest consumer/polluter to a more humble/ equal nation of the South American model.

Please explain to me how this could occur. While I think all of you add brilliant analysis to all these discussions. No offence, but I don't know if you look at the reality of what you are proposing.

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meljomur
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Quote captbebops:

Speaking of "Bladerunner" (movie based on Dick's book) we seem to be headed towards that world unless we throw up a lot of resistance. Ridley Scott in his commentary to the film calls the form of government in that movie "corporate communism." That would be where the corporations run everything including the government. It's up to us to stick out our feet and trip them on the way.

I think you have a good point. Not sure what you see that we can do individually to trip corporate institutions and all that they have come to mean to us as "the world." Could you perhaps elaborate?

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Quote Antifascist:

That is the first time I ever heard or saw Jacques Ellul. Thank you Ren. I see the film date as 1996. Notice that Ellul doesn't use Marxian language (I saw his library in the video) and does his analysis of Capitalism, from my point of view, in terms of "Technique." He is critiquing Capitalism at a deeper ideological level. Just when you think you have identified most "sociological propagandistic," traps, new ones embedded within scientific methodologies emerge. We may not be able to escape methodological biases, but we must a least identify them in order to be conscious and therefore, Free to chose. Ellul wants us to ask Ethical and Spiritual questions about risk, efficiency, cost (a very central Neoliberal economic concept), and reflexive use of power. The issue of cost by the way can be carried on in the same terms as Keisier 's does of market finance and investment--"What is the "true" cost including all "externalities" of having oil and Clorexit settle upon the deep scattering layer (DSL)---a massive community of living creatures thousands of feet below the ocean surface?" At one point he stated Freedom and Technology will always conflict. It depends if "conflict" is an essential part of his definition technology, but then he would be arguing a tautology. I don't think Ellul would reason that way. I think he is saying the two are incompatible like organized Religion (codification) and Spirituality are incompatible.

I've had that clip in my Jacques Ellul bookmarks for a couple of years, Anti. I've used it more than once to illustrate a point. Yet I guess I hadn't used it with you; after all, you have been talking about Jacques in your writings on and off since we first met on this board, so I never really felt a need to make such points with you, I suppose. I'm glad I could finally bring it to your attention. I certainly appreciated it. There is a great deal of wisdom in that 53 minute clip.

I first came across Ellul when I was studying the French Structuralists and their ideas about cultural systems. In a very broad sense, structuralism is a method of analyzing mental phenomena, so obviously it's connected to the philosophical systems that represent phenomenology, and your reference to Hegel touches on the many thinkers involved in developing that system. I tend see a correlation between Ellul's theological analysis and the structuralist critique. I don't quite know what you mean by "Marxian language" but for my part, I see Marx as an early version of the 19th Century structuralists, as did the people who introduced me to structuralism in anthropology, who thought of Marx as an early model for anthropology's structuralism and in fact all of the social sciences, and somewhere in there is the difference between hard sciences and soft sciences, and their correlation with the long traditionw of thinking we put in a category called "philosophy."

The idea of structuralism was derived from the study of language, and I see you sort of naturally resorting to linguistic structures with your occasional key emphasis on certain morphemes (smallest unit of grammar in a language that has meaning) to help with your conceptual analysis as well.

Noam Chomsky is another example of the use of structuralism to make sense of the cognitive abilities involved in human language aquisition, and it was through that kind of structural analysis that he made monkeys (joke) of the positivists who were trying to make behaviorism (i.e., B.F. Skinner) the predominant school of thought in psychology about the middle of the Twentieth Century.

I think in general I would find a deep philosophical chasm between the poitivists approach to human mind (who also tend towards the legal theory you brought up earlier, "originalism" is an example of that family of theory) and the philosophers who tend towards a study of phenomenon available to the human mind, and then speculate about what that mind can do with it. Positivists tend towards of view that something they call "objectivity" is possible and the objective "facts" are or at least ideally should be the determinants of thinking.

Contrasting with their view, the phenomenologists tend to see the active human mind as the determining source, and so they attempt an analysis of concepts. This I would say is the thinking that makes it possible to develop a discussion on these issues of the human spirit and the questions of freedom Jacques is interested in as a theologian. These issues therefore bear upon how we can actually go about exploring the deeper questions like those that Ellul is exploring, some of which come up in that video clip... issues that bear on human freedom, freedom of the will, and what that will has to work with (phenomena, structures, and the complex systems that we create with mind), how what it has to work with can in its turn be determining of what comes about, such as a million people all getting in their cars at once and driving to the Meditaranian for a holiday, and so forth.

I see all of that underlying your discussion on this thread of what's going on in the financial calamities we are undergoing, and I can see that it is related to this deep difference in thinking about the world. The difference comes out in terms of what can be discussed and explored and what can't. Phenomenological thinking is like a key to thought. I can unlock a door in the mind to a whole realm of imagination the positivists have tried desperately over the centuries to keep under raps, probably because they recognize that they don't have a very good system of thought (with their emphasis on "objectivity" and the notion of using "facts") for dealing with human mind and it's perception of abstract phenomena.

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.ren
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Quote meljomur:

I admire you gentlemen tremendously. However I am stuck with the impression that you think that the only model the US can aspire to, is a much more simplistic existence. Where mass consumerism doesn't exist, and we embrace nature over technology.

I failed utterly in making a connection between what I am saying to your conclusion that I have an "only model" in my thinking.

"Do any of you honestly believe that this is the next step the USA will take?

I don't think human society works like that... that is, making consciously logical steps for the good of all in a process. I think people who call themselves "progressives" might imagine the world in that way, but I don't.

I am not even sure which nations you are looking at as a model in which to move (I think poly likes some of the South American models). But how will this happen?

South America has a number of participatory democratic movements under way, which appear to be generating from the grass roots level. Chomsky talks about this a lot, as do some of his colleagues you can find at Znet. Thinking in tems of actual in place models and making those work in some fashion is contrary to doing a phenomenological analysis of what is actually taking place in the world, I would argue. I don't look for models to emulate and engineer into place as if I or anyone could actually manage such a feat. I leave that to Hitler or the Neocons. That's, to me, an inevitably authoritarian form of thinking, because somehow you need to begin to imagine how you are going to organize people to match that model and in doing so that brings about all the horrors of a scientifically managed institutionalism organized in such a way that the organizer implies the result can somehow be managed into place in the very institutional, hierarchically ordered manner that underlies this horror of technology that Jacques Ellul is talking about. As David Bowie puts it in Cat People, it would be like putting out a fire with gasoline.

I mean the USA is the biggest polluter (per capita) on the planet. This means that for mass consumption to move toward (per capita) levels of say Bolivia or Argentina, you would have to fundamentally change the lives of 95% of the US population. Do you think that is feasible, well in our lifetimes?

If you study the collapse literature, you will find many historical instances where organizational superstructures (the "United States of America" as a federal institution is one such superstructure) have dissolved because they became unable to remain organized. What happens in the collapse process after that is worth examining because there is a possibility for seeing patterns in which the humans reorganize themselves without the abstract concept of that superstructure present. What occurs is actually a kind of mental redesign where people detach from their dependency on sets of ideas and begin to reorganize their lives according to what's available. What I think is likely to happen will be a collapse. That will invoke change. The people will act locally because the vertically integrated systems in place now will fail, the grid of support they depend on will fail, and the change will take a form that I don't see any way to predict with any certainty. I see too many variables. Much of what Anti talks about is related to the massive superstructure of organization, the Federal government, getting ready to deal with an unraveling process that could also be called collapse. A police state is an ultimate form of coercive hegemonic control. What do I mean by hegemony? I'll let Stan Goff explain:

Quote Stan Goff: It’s much easier to exercise control over a population whenever they consent to their own domination. They sort of accept the official story, accept the official ideology and then we all just sort of go around and cooperate. That kind of control, where we internalize the control, is hegemony. Where when I come up and hold a gun on you and you do it out of naked fear, that’s coercion. And the idea is you’ve got sort of hegemony on one pole, exercising ruling class power and coercion on the other pole and as hegemony fails then coercion becomes the more prominent instrument.
Quote meljomur:Which is why I think as a more gradual step, moving toward a European model makes more sense for the USA. Now I have been struck down before on this board for this idea. But I have not been convinced at all that the USA is a nation which will go from being the biggest consumer/polluter to a more humble/ equal nation of the South American model.

Got any plans for making that take place? (wish the smileys worked)

Please explain to me how this could occur. While I think all of you add brilliant analysis to all these discussions. No offence, but I don't know if you look at the reality of what you are proposing.

Lol.

Here's the implied question I see in your notion that anyone is proposing anything. Why bother to analyze anything if you aren't going to fix it? Jacques actually expresses the why many of us might come up with towards the end of that video clip I linked earlier:

The search for sense implies that we must have a radical discussion of modern life. In order to rediscover a sense, we must discuss everything which has no sense. We are surrounded by objects which are, it is true, efficient, but are absolutely pointless. A work of art, on the other hand, has sense in various ways, or it calls up in me a feeling or an emotion whereby my life acquires sense. That is not the case with a technological product.

And on the other hand we have the obligation to rediscover certain fundamental truths which have disappeared because of technology. We can also call these truths values, important actual values, which ensure that people experience their lives as having sense.

In other words, as soon as that moment arrives when I think that the situation is really dangerous, I can't make do any more with purely technological means. Then I must employ all my human and intellectual capacities and all my relationships with others to create a counterbalance. That means that when I think that a disaster threatens, and that developments threaten to lead to a destiny for mankind, as I wrote concerning the development of technology, I, as a member of mankind, must resist and must refuse to accept that destiny.

And at that moment we end up doing what mankind has always done at a moment when destiny threatens.

And with that kind of thinking, we come upon the basis for participatory democracy, not democracy by the elite (polyarchy) where the elite -- supposedly legitimized in some sort of election process -- make the decisions for the flock of sheep. And the elite of the private tyrannies (corporations) don't even bother with the facade of "democratic" representation, they have, instead of Sheldon Wolin's "Inverted Totalitarianism," totalitarianism in its naked and pure form.

Do you want to be the dictator that manages how society changes? Do you want me to be? Bush? Obama? I don't, I don't want any of that.

.ren's picture
.ren
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Quote .ren:
Quote captbebops:

Speaking of "Bladerunner" (movie based on Dick's book) we seem to be headed towards that world unless we throw up a lot of resistance. Ridley Scott in his commentary to the film calls the form of government in that movie "corporate communism." That would be where the corporations run everything including the government. It's up to us to stick out our feet and trip them on the way.

I think you have a good point. Not sure what you see that we can do individually to trip corporate institutions and all that they have come to mean to us as "the world." Could you perhaps elaborate?

First off make people aware of what corporations are doing to the planet economically. People are very confused, they protest the government when they should be protesting Wall Street. Do what you can to spread the meme while you can. This is a web site that is read by few so I when I see an article on MSNBC's site I will often drop into their comment service, Newsvine and post a comment which is read by many more people than will ever read it here. Stir things up. It's interesting to see when you go against the tide who comes out of the woodwork. Sometimes memes go viral. You may be the one to plant the seed. Is it any wonder that bigwigs want the Internet reined in?

Also remember the people who run these companies aren't perfect and make big judgment errors. They can be their own worst enemy. As bad as BP was during the spill the US should have seized the company and held it's assets to make payments. Think of how smug Tony Hayward was. Corporate boardrooms are filled with brats like that. They are the well heeled fraternity brats that run things. They hate you and me and think of us as peasants. Thing is we were probably the ones that lowered the class curve at the colleges they attended. We're the nerds and they're the jocks. I'm not imagining this at all, I've known some of the corporatists and how they think.

Many of us are now Baby Boomers who are senior citizens. Time to awaken the spirit of the 60's in the boomers again and create a national of Gray Activists. That will scare the hell out of the corporatists and corrupt government officials. What do we have to lose?

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captbebops
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Okay, I feel slightly out of my depth on this thread, but when has that ever stopped me...

Ren and Anti, your posts are brilliant, and no doubt your intelligence is pretty much unparalleled on this board. However, as much as I appreciate reading all your links and comments, what are you trying to achieve? Do you have an end game in mind? Or do you just like to write about your observations on the path of America (mankind).

Perhaps it is too late for America, and all one can do is sit back and observe the unravelling of a BIG nation. But I guess for me, I would like to still believe there are workable solutions.

I think capt offers some ideas. Get involved, stay active. (Don't just isolate yourself). I agree with him, I think places like this MB are important, and even if only a few people are touched by what is posted here, it can make a difference.

I mean there must be a reason why Thom has kept Anti's thread going after all these years and through all the board changes. If someone like Thom has been impacted by your thoughts and words, he has the ability to get that message out to millions of people. I suppose in a way that is addressing the problem and moving toward a solution.

An informed population is half your battle. Of course it might be the more difficult part of the fight, but its worth an attempt.

Besides, I dare say there are plenty of people out there who don't want this message or any of Thom's messages to get out to the public. Which might be why we have such a pesky problem with the trolls here.

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meljomur
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thanks for expanding on your thought, captbebops.

Yes, I think you have something workable to offer there. I have a good friend who was involved in the Seattle WTO demonstrations in 1999. He's one of the commentators in the documentary: This is what Democracy Looks Like. (Source for the DVD) He was speaking in his little snippets for the unions and their involvement in the process. Like many who were there, he comes from a background where he has troubled to inform himself through his lifetime, and developed deeply held convictions about the force of corporations on our lives, and the need to do something about it. As he notes in one of his comments in the documentary, "we scared the shit out of them."

I think there are other ways we gray hairs are finding ways to be active. After all, the corporate collusion with government is steering demonstrations towards corralling the demonstrators to keep their private property intact, and the increasing levels of police state control can make our public protests more and more difficult. And lets not forget the wonderful controls that take place through corporate run press. A number of us are turning our life long experience into a kind of active retirement where we are creating new, localized life styles. Yes, there are many of the hippies turned yuppies driving the highways with their motorhomes. But other have turned to a different kind of retirement, one that is kind of like starting a whole new life. Some of us have analyzed this society, seen what it is coming to, and along with our analysis, are actively trying to create simple, organic based life styles.

I have friends within a few miles who left the Bay Area of California and bought a hundred acres here in the Willapa Watershed of SW Washington, and they are producing organic based foods and setting up solar powered back up systems to remove themselves from the national corporate energy grid as much as possible. While it's an exciting learning process for them, they also work with groups of young people, like the WWOOFERS, who stay at their place and learn-by-doing how to produce these foods themselves, in lieu of purchasing them through the vertically organized industrial food system that all the protests in the world will not end. Protest is important, but so is creating viable alternatives to the corporate life that entraps everyone, or as Jacques Ellul sees it, the corporate life is the purveyor of domination by technology on our lives and minds.

I have another group of friends just a ways south of me on the other side of the Columbia River near Astoria who who are taking the potential of collapse seriously and started the Titanic Lifeboat Academy, which is also their home, a work in progress of how to set up survival strategies that are not that dissimilar from the localization strategies of those folks on the 100 acres near here.

And I am involved with the Twin Harbors Coalition, another group of folks, many of us baby boomers, with a similar philosophy.

These are all forms of informed protest. Some of us figure there's no better way top wire trip an institution based on selling you things than not to buy their things, but instead produce them yourself while creating a lifestyle that frees you of that dependency.

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.ren
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Quote meljomur: Ren and Anti, your posts are brilliant, and no doubt your intelligence is pretty much unparalleled on this board. However, as much as I appreciate reading all your links and comments, what are you trying to achieve? Do you have an end game in mind? Or do you just like to write about your observations on the path of America (mankind).

I find myself wondering why you imagine there must be an ulterior motive involving some sort of goal in our writing efforts. That is, a goal beyond the joy of sharing information with others who have an interest in such frivolity. I'm well aware that some people came to the board to disrupt that process and prevent us "ditzy liberals" from engaging in such nebulous activities without it turning into a food fight. I see that you moderators and administrators have tasked yourselves with preventing that form of silent movie entertainment and disruption, and to some extent you are having success lately, which I appreciate. So that implies to me that there is a kind of general Message Board attitude of appreciation for this simple form of entertainment and a desire to make it possible. Is that not enough?

In truth, I felt like I answered your "end game" question in my last post. Once again, I'll let Jacques Ellul offer the words. I think he is speaking for many of us who live our life with the joy of using our minds, talking about ideas, struggling with abstractions, and trying ever to achieve some sort of understanding about the world that, as he so eloquently puts it, "makes sense." It's a joy and an enterprise that has its own internal rewards, not one that any one of us needs to impose on others. And, maybe it's worth saying that sometimes it's just not possible to say something directly to answer someone's questions. I find one just has to say what one has in mind to say, and let others do the best they can to make sense of it. So in this case, I'll resort to someone else who says what I think most of us who enjoy the art of thinking about things would say. About forty four minutes into the Jacques Ellul video about the Treachery of Technology, he begins to open up about his own reasons for talking about these issues, as people like Anti, poly, DRC and others do on this board, just talk and philosophize from their perspective, so to speak. He starts with:

The question now is whether people are prepared or not to realize that they are dominated by technology. And to realize that technology oppresses them, forces them to undertake certain obligations, and conditions them.

You see, what he's doing there is setting up the circumstances of life that obligates him to undertake the task of figuring things out and making sense of his life, his world, and the world we all take part in -- the world where at the beginning of the video a million individuals independently and of their own free will decide to drive en mass down the highways of France to the Mediterranean beaches for a holiday, which from the perspective of outer space may look something like a lemming migration.

Then he holds his finger up and says, emphasizing it with a look in his eyes and expression:

Their freedom begins when they become conscious of these things.

And I immediately connect with that. Jacques is really saying his freedom begins when he becomes conscious of these things.

The issue is personal freedom, then. What is it? How do we become free? That became an issue to me many years ago, and I embarked on a life long journey to try to make sense of that word: freedom.

For when we become conscious of that which determines our life we attain the highest degree of freedom.

And from there he elaborates his own personal philosophy of why he takes the trouble to sit around and think about things, to write about them and share what he thinks with others.

I think if you get that part, then the part I quoted above for you might make better sense. If not, then I'm afraid that there's little more I can add personally that could help.

The search for sense implies that we must have a radical discussion of modern life. In order to rediscover a sense, we must discuss everything which has no sense. We are surrounded by objects which are, it is true, efficient, but are absolutely pointless. A work of art, on the other hand, has sense in various ways, or it calls up in me a feeling or an emotion whereby my life acquires sense. That is not the case with a technological product.

In other words, as soon as that moment arrives when I think that the situation is really dangerous, I can't make do any more with purely technological means. Then I must employ all my human and intellectual capacities and all my relationships with others to create a counterbalance. That means that when I think that a disaster threatens, and that developments threaten to lead to a destiny for mankind, as I wrote concerning the development of technology, I, as a member of mankind, must resist and must refuse to accept that destiny.

And at that moment we end up doing what mankind has always done at a moment when destiny threatens.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Hey Ren,

Why can’t you write short posts like me? I stumbled on Ellul while studying the nature of propaganda. Yes, Thom still has my study of fascism posts index. It’s about two years work, of the five years I researched. I didn’t get my Structuralist thinking from the Structuralists, but rather from Kant, Hegel, and Marx. If Marx is a structuralist, then...I would not want to be a member of any organization that would take me. My favorite school of thought is “Critical Theory” or the Frankfurt School, and especially Herbert Marcuse.

(After thinking it over Ren, according to the Structuralist definition, the Frankfurt School is definitely Structuralist.)

The Frankfurt School fled fascist Germany and these scholars attempted to understand how fascism emerged out of a Capitalist society.

1.) They extended ideological critique to social psychology. The psychology of the individual is an important agent in the rise of fascism. They did the first studies on the authoritarian personality and family structures (which turns out to be a key source).

2.) The Frankfurt School explained the self-reinforcing qualities of Capitalist social infra-structure and the process of power legitimation. Our Practical Reason (values) to achieve Freedom evolves into “Instrumental Reason,” (technology) to the point that there is an “Eclipse of Reason.” The Enlightenment has been replaced by Positivism to reinforce Capitalism. The tendency of instrumental reason is to dominated both Human Beings and Nature by a systemic internal process using social organizations. Instrumental Reason has redefined Human Beings. Now “surplus repression” is necessary to exploit surplus value.

3.) Frankfurt rethought the concept of the “Negative” or the possible as opposed to the “Positive” or actual. Marcuse uses ideas from Freud, and the Existentialist like Jean-Paul Sartre’s ( Being and Nothingness), Heidegger’s "Non-Being," and the Hegelian concept of "negation" to rediscover a tool, or method to carry on a Negative Dialectic, or imagination for possibilities. Adorno contributed “Negative Dialectics” to redefine and refine its meaning:

The motivation for Adorno's negative dialectic is not simply conceptual, however, nor are its intellectual resources. His epistemology is "materialist" in both regards. It is motivated, he says, by undeniable human suffering—a fact of unreason, if you will, to counter Kant's "fact of reason." Suffering is the corporeal imprint of society and the object upon human consciousness: "The need to let suffering speak is a condition of all truth. For suffering is objectivity that weighs upon the subject … " (ND 17-18). The resources available to philosophy in this regard include the "expressive" or "mimetic" dimensions of language, which conflict with "ordinary" (i.e., societally sanctioned) syntax and semantic…. he argues that no object is simply "given" either, both because it can be an object only in relation to a subject and because objects are historical and have the potential to change.

Adorno, Negative Dialectics.

The genetic influence of Hegelian Idealism in Marxism allows the Critical Theorists to legitimately shift the analysis from its historical emphasis on Marxist materialism --a Positivistic Dialectic-- to a Negative Dialectic. My words.

4.) Habermas brings a new hermeneutic or interpretation of the theory of politics. Capitalism has changed modern "politics" from the Greek “polis” of participation and Hebermas attempts to reclaim communication from distortion, and Orwellian contradictions.

I am trying to keep this short. .

My habit of using word studies actually came from studying ancient Greek and translating parts of biblical scripture, then Platonic scripture, and then it was too late…Hegel and I was assimilated. Heidegger used word studies in his book “Being and Time.” In contrast, I hated Analytic Language Analysis, as in the early Logical Atomists like the “Early Wittgenstein,” and Bertrand Russell, and the Vienna School of Logical Positivists... Karl Popper, Carnap, and …I am going to throw up. …these guys were the “Fundamentalist Language Philosophers,” not your nice civilized French structuralist language philosophers. The word “structure” would not even survive analysis. They’ll kill it like the kill every “concept.” They are the Frank Luntzs of philosophy.

But I digress…

Meljomur, good honest question. I think Ren did a better job than I could ever in answering your question. But, I won’t use that as an excuse to not give my opinion.

I hear a question about possibility, or “is it realistic or practical?” (pragmatos—a Greek word meaning ‘business’ or ‘fact’). “Let’s get practical.” We were talking about it all along. And we said that the problem was what is meant by ‘fact’ as opposed to non-fact, or ‘value.’ This is a question of values. Well, Pragmatism is a philosophy to! See the “…ism?” A different criteria of ‘fact’ changes what is perceived as ‘possible.” You got the "Impossibility Meme." So here is your answer.

1. The USA is the biggest polluter: reversing this isn’t a logistical impossibility. Numerous countries have had numerous types of electric cars for decades for consumer production. The USA hasn’t switched to solar panels and electric cars because it would undermine their power. During the 1980s the USA flew space shuttle missions to build a telecommunication network through which the USA could export its back office and office work to India. The USA exported nearly its entire manufacturing base to China in just a few decades. When it’s something that corporations want, the money appears and it gets done without us even knowing, until it is too late.
2. The problem is a matter of values and political will. Here is my prediction for the future. The power elite and corporations have a tremendous ability to endure indefinitely the suffering of others so they will not change over to non-petroleum energy in any way. There will be periodic catastrophes like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but nothing will change. There will be more crisis cycles until finally the cost will be so high, and the impact so detrimental that the USA will start to seriously develop and impliment another energy source infrastructure. This will mean a change from the previous GNP Growth model, just like during wartime.

Hello Captbebops,

I’m right there with you! Ren and I have been on Thom’s board since 2004, Ren was here before me. We have gone through four or five boards as Thom switched interfaces over the years. He still has my posts for the first board, or it may be the second. I also had indexed threads at “Project For Old American Century” which is down now. I had over 90,000 views of just one of my economics thread. I still have everything backed up on DVD discs.

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Why does the thread which Anti posted yesterday keep getting pushed to the bottom?

ren, I feel like capt and I asked a similar question and you answered in a completely different way. Perhaps my articulation didn't match my meaning. Anyway, I have no doubt there are people out there pursuing alternative existences in the USA.

I guess what I meant by an end game; is do you see that there is something a collective group of people could do to fundamentally change the (political, economic, environmental) course of the USA? In any capacity? Not just for them as an individual, but as a larger community?

Yes, its great to share information here. And no we aren't trying to find a cure for cancer, but how do you want the US to change? Obviously you see it on the wrong course. Do you feel that maybe you are just too old, and set in your own life to want to embark on a greater goal of changing the entire nation? Or is it just a case of dealing with the problems locally?

I don't know. I see the US as a great big place, which seems to be slightly schizophrenic in its direction. It is the most divided of nations (in my opinion) and yet I am not entirely sure which personality it will eventually decide is the best one to present to the world.

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meljomur
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote Antifascist:

Hey Ren,

Why can’t you write short posts like me?

Lol!

Quote Antifascist: I stumbled on Ellul while studying the nature of propaganda. Yes, Thom still has my study of fascism posts index. It’s about two years work, of the five years I researched. I didn’t get my Structuralist thinking from the Structuralists, but rather from Kant, Hegel, and Marx. If Marx is a structuralist, then...I would not want to be a member of any organization that would take me. My favorite school of thought is “Critical Theory” or the Frankfurt School, and especially Herbert Marcuse.

(After thinking it over Ren, according to the Structuralist definition, the Frankfurt School is definitely Structuralist.)

The Frankfurt School fled fascist Germany and these scholars attempted to understand how fascism emerged out of a Capitalist society.

Structuralism is simply a form of analysis (or is it the analysis of form? lol), and anyone can be a structuralist by looking at the form things take beyond and beneath the mere meaning. That does not mean exclude meaning from the mind, it simply means that to understand the organism and how it moves one needs to be able to analyze its skeletal structure. Chomsky, for instance, felt that to understand how the human mind creates language, how it shares language with others, the meaning of what people say must be held in abeyance. His famous example was to say that something can be meaningless yet grammatical, and he would say something like: "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously."

Of course, with a little metaphorical thinking, it's not entirely senseless to me! In fact, I find it quite poetic.

Ellul is being a structuralist when he says, starting at 44:47 into the video:

The question now is whether people are prepared or not to realize that they are dominated by technology. And to realize that technology oppresses them, forces them to undertake certain obligations, and conditions them. Their freedom begins when they become conscious of these things. For when we become conscious of that which determines our life we attain the highest degree of freedom. I must make sure that I can analyse it just as I can analyse a stone or any other object, that I can analyse it and fathom it from all angles. As soon as I can break down this whole technological system into ists smallest components, my freedom begins. But I also know, at the same time, that I'm dominated by technology. So I don't say: I'm so strong that technology has no hold on me. Of course technology has a hold on me. I know that very well.

Then he gives some examples to show that he is aware that he is continually benefiting from technology.

The point is, he is doing a structural analysis of the culture (where culture is a human created, human engaged phenomenon, such that we are that culture if we are part of it, just as we are the English language if we speak it) which is dominated by this phenomenon he calls technology. That's why the linguists who attempted to analyze language were some of the first formally considered structuralists, because they were trying to analyze the structure of what they used and took for granted on a daily basis. This is really just a form of philosophical thinking, which I'm quite confident you are familiar with, and we are only being pedantic in clarifying terminology here. Mostly this is not necessary for you and I to reach an understanding because we are multi-lingual, so to speak, in our philosophical lexicographies. My original interests in philosophy was probably due to some vague, romantic connection with beatniks, coffee shops and these colorful characters I saw around the U of Michigan Campus when I was growing up. Somehow or another that evoked a curiosity and a desire to understand what they were babbling about that has never dwindled.

When you use the term "positivism" you are referring to something that has a structural form that we can analyze and elucidate, and you and I have done so in the years we've discussed such topics, but the same is not necessarily so for others, and for them, a structural analysis of sorts is in order so we can all together use the code word "positivism" as you and I do. Without that analysis and an concurring free and uncoerced agreement by all parties, the misconceptions seem to be endless. It's not that agreement is fact, it's just that we all agree that this is the structure we are talking about with this abstraction labeled: positivism.

Without understanding how you (and many others in the various philosophical discioplines) use the term, your point about negative dialectics gets utterly lost, and who knows what becomes of it in the minds of the folks it gets lost in:

Quote Antifascist: 3.) Frankfurt rethought the concept of the “Negative” or the possible as opposed to the “Positive” or actual. Marcuse uses ideas from Freud, and the Existentialist like Jean-Paul Sartre’s ( Being and Nothingness), Heidegger’s "Non-Being," and the Hegelian concept of "negation" to rediscover a tool, or method to carry on a Negative Dialectic, or imagination for possibilities. Adorno contributed “Negative Dialectics” to redefine and refine its meaning:

I think the word freedom comes to play here, and the way the Jacques Ellul is using it in his talk during that video has to do with comprehending that necessary ""Negative Dialectic," or imagination" which is necessary for the creative endeavor of human beings coming up with possibilities. One can see how the positivists use facts to shut down possibility thinking but one must first have these structural understandings of how these abstract concepts work in order to see how the logic itself is a conditioning and conforming factor in human thinking, and that an individual actually self conditions by using these structures in a thinking process that limits the imagination.

My primary search has always been about freedom. When I got out of the horrible, coercive conditioning that is our military institution, my search went into high gear. I found two pieces of writing on freedom which I read back to back, one by Chomsky (It contained the essay Language and Freedom from 1970) and one by B.F. Skinner (Beyond Freedom and Dignity). Without having a clue about the deeper structural issues involved with positivism, I got those two very different versions of philosophical outlook in those two very different takes on the meaning of freedom. My visceral response to both was quite different, and my curiosity about why that might be was aroused. And I think that's how our curiosity works if we care to understand things. You cannot drive into someone's head a sense of curiosity. And without curiosity, no one is going to bother to take the trouble to understand the difference between a positive dialectic or a negative dialectic. Explaining that difference to the incurious thinker is like explaining a joke. Or maybe it's like explaining it to the Frank Luntz's of philosophy, lol.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am
Quote meljomur: ren, I feel like capt and I asked a similar question and you answered in a completely different way. Perhaps my articulation didn't match my meaning. Anyway, I have no doubt there are people out there pursuing alternative existences in the USA.

Well, to start with, I felt like capt didn't ask a question, he made a comment based on the movie Blade Runner, and he saw that we needed to do something to wire trip the corporations that were taking us to that world. I asked him to elaborate, he did, then I made my comment about his elaboration.

I think you asked a question that involved my intentions and my thinking, sort of as if I can't do one without the other, which also assumed that I had an endgame in mind, which it seems you assumed I should articulate. I don't know how many ways to say this, but I don't have a vision of what the U.S. should look like. Backwards and forwards, that's to me contradictory to my values of freedom for myself, which also involves allowing other people the freedom to create something I can't imagine. You might imagine that sort of thing. I don't try. I don't really want to. I just want to understand and maybe through understanding I can manage not to get run over by the truck bearing down on me at 70 mph, or something more subtle.

Quote meljomur: Obviously you see it on the wrong course. Do you feel that maybe you are just too old, and set in your own life to want to embark on a greater goal of changing the entire nation? Or is it just a case of dealing with the problems locally?

My dog, my cat, or a two year old child might not recognize that standing on the freeway with a truck bearing down on them at 70 mph is dangerous, but if they did come to understand that in time, they might do something about it to save themselves from being flattened. It's kind of like that with me talking about what I see here. I see danger in not understanding the ontology of technology and how it conditions us. I say what I see about that, I offer others who see it similarly, so does Anti, so do a few others. There are those who thoroughly disagree and they may say why. In the end it's up to the reader to decide for themselves. I think anyone who wants to live will do what it takes to avoid danger. Some dangers are harder to understand than others. The way propaganda works might be one of those.

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.ren
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Quote meljomur: Why does the thread which Anti posted yesterday keep getting pushed to the bottom?

Some quirk I've noticed in the software that happens when I edit. Anti likes to edit his stuff, therefore... You might ask the webmaster and maybe he can tell you. Maybe he can even fix it!

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In regard to the "end game" question. Let me quote Marcuse because I like his simple and clear thoughts:

In classical Greek philosophy, Reason is the cognitive faculty to distinguish what is true and what is false insofar as truth (and falsehood) is primarily a condition of Being, of Reality — and only on this ground a property of propositions. True discourse, logic, reveals and expresses that which really is as distinguished from that which appears to be (real), And by virtue of this equation between Truth and (real) Being, Truth is a value, for Being is better than Non-Being. The latter is not simply Nothing; it is a potentiality of and a threat to Being — destruction. The struggle for truth is a struggle against destruction, for the “salvation” (sozein) of Being (an effort which appears itself to be destructive if it assails an established reality as “untrue”: Socrates against the Athenian city-state). Inasmuch as the struggle for truth “saves” reality from destruction, truth commits and engages human existence. It is the essentially human project. If man has learned to see and know what really is, he will act in accordance with truth, Epistemology is in itself ethics, and ethics is epistemology.

...Analysed in the condition in which he finds himself in his universe, man seems to be in possession of certain faculties and powers which would enable him to lead a "good life," i.e., a life which is as much as possible free from toil, dependence, and ugliness. To attain such a life is to attain the "best life": to live in accordance with the essence of nature or man.

One Dimensional Man, (1964).

Negative Thinking: The Defeated Logic of Protest. page 124.

So why can't a dog do algerbra? Because that's how it's wired. I am the same way. The end goal, or "telos" is Freedom--I'm wired for it.

(Sorry for the editing. It's a compulsion).

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"it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness" - Marx

A school of fish living in a muddy lake...has no concept of any other possibilities. Societies themselves can be compared to that....consciousness itself being molded by the "lake" each new generation is born into.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a diseae"

polycarp2
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Ren wrote,

The point is, he is doing a structural analysis of the culture (where culture is a human created, human engaged phenomenon, such that we are that culture if we are part of it, just as we are the English language if we speak it) which is dominated by this phenomenon he calls technology.

Interesting point about Ellul's handling of "culture" I discovered. A few years back I was reading the book (expensive son-of-a-gun) "Perspectives On Our Age: Jacques Ellul Speaks On His Life and Work." Edited by Willem H. Vanderburg. And the very question of propaganda, technique, and culture came up. Vanderburg knew Ellul and studied with him. Vanderburg wrote:

"As my five-year stay with Ellul was coming to an end in spring of 1978, I presented him with a first draft of what was later published as 'The Growth of Minds and Cultures.' After reading my manuscript, he asked me if he had more or less said all of this already. I confessed that this was entirely possible, since I had not read everything he had written, and asked him to provide me with the appropriate references. He agreed, and after a few days we met again. He told me that nowhere, in fact, had he explicitly developed such a concept of culture. I readily acknowledged that this concept of culture was implicit in his courses and writings, however. I had developed it in part by asking how people got by before technique, and how this 'before' continued to exist alongside technique in contemporary societies. Ellul concurred, and some of his other observations are set out in his introduction to my book."

"Perspectives On Our Age: Jacques Ellul Speaks On His Life and Work." Edited by Willem H. Vanderburg (2004), page 92.

Vanderburg then follows with a section entitled "The Cultural Approach to Life." Here he brings in the concepts of Logos, language, symbolization of experience, and reification of life by technique. Vanderburg reinforces Ellul's thesis. So propaganda is high on the epistemological pyramid above technology which is above culture anthropological categories of meaning and interpretation of daily life-experience.[/quote]

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Quote polycarp2:

"it is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness" - Marx

A school of fish living in a muddy lake...has no concept of any other possibilities. Societies themselves can be compared to that....consciousness itself being molded by the "lake" each new generation is born into.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a diseae"

Well, do you agree with Marx poly? If so, what do you think that says about this passage from Jacques Ellul (which you will find at about 44:47 minutes into the video)?

The question now is whether people are prepared or not to realize that they are dominated by technology. And to realize that technology oppresses them, forces them to undertake certain obligations, and conditions them. Their freedom begins when they become conscious of these things. For when we become conscious of that which determines our life we attain the highest degree of freedom. I must make sure that I can analyse it just as I can analyse a stone or any other object, that I can analyse it and fathom it from all angles. As soon as I can break down this whole technological system into ists smallest components, my freedom begins. But I also know, at the same time, that I'm dominated by technology. So I don't say: I'm so strong that technology has no hold on me. Of course technology has a hold on me. I know that very well.

If you don't agree with Marx, what do you think about consciousness?

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Quote Antifascist: Vanderburg then follows with a section entitled "The Cultural Approach to Life." Here he brings in the concepts of Logos, language, symbolization of experience, and reification of life by technique. Vanderburg reinforces Ellul's thesis. So propaganda is high on the epistemological pyramid above technology which is above culture anthropological categories of meaning and interpretation of daily life-experience.

That's a bit ambiguous without some references to an anthropological context. I am not familiar with any set "anthropological categories of meaning and interpretation" that any one in the field puts forward as "the authentic conclusions of anthropology." Generally that comes from neophytes who use cherry picked versions of anthropology in their writings, but who have never really had an argument within the field. Such a person would be, in my opinion, the much acclaimed geographer, Jared Diamond, who thoroughly murders the subject in his writings. What you'll find is a broad range of differences that span the major figures who have influenced the field. People like Victor Turner, Claude Levi Strauss, Gregory Bateson, or Rodney Needham would look at culture and interpretation in very different ways from Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard, Meyer Fortes, or Radcliffe-Brown. The former would have a more cognitive basis for what they say, looking at how people think about the world (usually in the Straussian proposal of binary opposites) while the latter's notions were informed by 19th Century empirical positivism. And that of course is not all.

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Consciousness? Two things.

One, it's psychological and built on belief systems. Each individual see's their own belief systems as being correct. When people's beliefs are challenged as being wrong, they get upset. Wars are fought over beliefs. Beliefs are made up...otherwise they would be called truths...they aren't.

There is a "cure" for that. In psychology it's called self-actualization. In religion it's called enlightenment. Same thing. It removes the discomfort associated with finding one's beliefs "wrong'.One is then more likely to be amused by their uncovering. . The "Self" no longer identifies itself by belief systems. A person just is..

Two: Beliefs are molded to a a great extent by the culture in which people are born into....shared world-view belief systems, shared national belief systems, shared, social belief systems...whether they work or not...are true or not is irrelevant ...it's t he belief that is important.

Most aren't inclined to challenge their own belief systems. Finding a deeply held belief wrong.that one has based their life upon, is unsettling..When a trauma of "truth" challenges a belief, it gets examined or the next stop is a mental ward. A traumatic-based examination of a belief opens the door to examining them all. One reason societies seldom change except in their crises stage.

Marx made some amazing observations that still hold true today...and I disagree with most of his conclusions. One I do agree with is...individuals should directly own their own workplace (not government ownership) and the state should play a minimal role. He said the state should "wither away".

Conservatives want a strong state, army/police ...to protect their accumulations of property/wealth. Progressives want a strong state to protect the interests of the majority. It's a false dichotomy. with bad results in either direction.

When has a strong state not evolved into being directly opposed to democratic institutions...or as Wolin refers to our own... as a "managed democracy"....and an illusion of democracy".? In a democcracy, if the majority were opposed to wars of choice, there wouldn't be any. We are involved in two...opposed by the majority..

Societies should be more egalitarian as they were in the Native American Nations.....making a minimal government role workable and the capturing of government by "special interests" an impossibility.. A minimal state under those conditions is my own preference.

I don't throw out all of Marx with the dirty bath water.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"..

polycarp2
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Quote polycarp: I don't throw out all of Marx with the dirty bath water.

Ah, but does your above answer mean you'd throw out the quote you threw down in this thread? That was my first question. I'm not entirely clear about the intent of your extensive response, I'm afraid.

Quote ren: If you don't agree with Marx, what do you think about consciousness?
Quote polycarp:

Consciousness? Two things.

One, it's psychological and built on belief systems. Each individual see's their own belief systems as being correct. When people's beliefs are challenged as being wrong, they get upset. Wars are fought over beliefs. Beliefs are made up...otherwise they would be called truths...they aren't.

There is a "cure" for that. In psychology it's called self-actualization. In religion it's called enlightenment. Same thing. It removes the discomfort associated with finding one's beliefs "wrong'.One is then more likely to be amused by their uncovering. . The "Self" no longer identifies itself by belief systems. A person just is.

Two: Beliefs are molded to a a great extent by the culture in which people are born into....shared world-view belief systems, shared national belief systems, shared, social belief systems...whether they work or not...are true or not is irrelevant ...it's t he belief that is important.

Most aren't inclined to challenge their own belief systems. Finding a deeply held belief wrong.that one has based their life upon, is unsettling..When a trauma of "truth" challenges a belief, it gets examined or the next stop is a mental ward. A traumatic-based examination of a belief opens the door to examining them all. One reason societies seldom change except in their crises stage.

Fair enough.

If we were sitting in a coffee shop having this discussion, I'd perhaps be inclined to pipe up and suggest a modification of your expression of your beliefs about these things by appealing to the previously discussed notion that in a positivist's frame of mind, the notion of correct and incorrect are predominant issues. They are, then, a logical basis of judgement, and in turn, judging is a process that predominates that thinking. The very idea that facts can be objectively determined and judged becomes the logical course of thinking about things. Within that framework of thinking, "correct" may be seen as belief that derives from the self determined notion that there are, indeed, objective facts that can be empirically determined. Grammatically, versions of the verb "to be" saturates the language. If enough people can self determine that idea -- i.e., that facts can be empirically determined -- then together they can go about creating a world based on a belief in the possibility of facts, and of the right and wrong of those facts.

In that light, I'm not sure how many wars are actually fought over beliefs -- that is, if you factor in the thinking of the people who actually direct the wars. I think the leaders motivations are often quite different than a disagreement about beliefs -- rather, their motivations can be described in terms of power, control of geopolitical territory and forces of economics that involve resources. But the cannon fodder who patriotically march off into battle for love of their freedom as defined by their beliefs (which they think of as facts) as held in common by their fellow cultural believers, are often fighting over a notion that they at least express as a belief that they are correct and that they are superior over others with regards to their convictions about the facts of their freedom.

Realizing that, the context based, interpretive thinker does not cognitively determine that beliefs are facts that stand alone, but rather sees the world as a system of relationships which an individual must interpret as best one can, and the very idea one bothers to create of something is of necessity relative to its relationship with other things, and much of those set of relationships are beyond anyone's ability to actually internally experience, and thus the notion of a fact, which is but a human cognition, or an idea about something we have to perceive in some phenomenological manner, is inevitably merely an interpretation of something that may be real or perhaps even in some way illusory, which, for we mere mortals, is ever filtered through all sorts of potentially faulty mental perceptions. Hence, much of what we think of the world is in the form of, at best, hypothesis, most of which we can't even test in any consistent manner.

In that framework of consciousness, the whole issue of getting disturbed over right and wrong can be avoided. Eckhart Tolle, for instance, calls that process of avoidance being conscious, as contrasted by what is generally a normal unconscious form of being. He claims that most people who fail to go through that process of self awareness about the fallacy of facts remain unconscious. I don't know how he knows that, but it's an interesting hypothesis.

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The Ferguson Effect On Our Great Grand Children

A few weeks ago, Congressman Paul Ryan released his latest proposal for tackling America’s poverty epidemic. Unfortunately, the plan does very little to combat poverty in our country, and instead, continues the devastating austerity policies that Ryan himself helped to create. Thanks to those policies, entire communities across America are underwater, and struggling to survive in tough economic times.

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