The Long Decent

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Quote .ren:Conditioning to social norms is something humans also do. That conditioning creates a world view, and people tend to act according to the world they see, or at least think they see. So, getting people to see a world in a certain way influences whether or not they will go along with things. In a form of government where people need only legitimize the elites who make the key decisions that shape their society conditioning people to see that society as the best way life can be turns out to be a very effective way to maintain the system. And a Technological Society is one that is shaped primarily through hierarchical systems, both governmental and corporate so you just need to get people to be willing to believe in the efficacy of that system. That's simply what people like Ellul (and many others I could reference) attempt to reveal.

Not wanting bad news may be part of it, as you note, but changing social belief systems and norms that seem to be working is the real issue I see in getting people living within this system to recognize the need to act to move outside their daily routines, which are deeply embedded in the system, now a globalized system.

Ren, thanks for clarifying what I have long been very aware of — but never understood that it was social conditioning that brought most people to stay and work within a system where they have no power and are required to give up their sense of importance and allow other human beings, whom they had no part in choosing, to have authority over them. I just always thought that it was the result some sort of fear that was passed on from one generation to the next, but which people in my own family of creative artists and medical doctors seemed to lack.

"Now a globalized system." That's disconcerting.

Quote .ren:
Quote olenzekm:The 1980 election set the template for governance ever since and the template is to continue our non-sustainable ways as long as possible. I have seen no evidence that we are prepared to behave differently.
I do believe, by the way, that template was set a long time ago, and was just reiffied when corporations got their front man into the nation's Presidency. About that time their legal staff was developing the Unitary Executive Theory, and the Federalist Society (also see Wiki for a decent overview) came out of that around 1982 (five of the current Supreme Court Justices are associated with it and its legal philosophy). After all, you can best control a hierarchy by controlling its head. That's the nature of a corporate system. Fortunately for those who want to maintain that system, the U.S. Constitution appears to be compliant.

If the Federalist Society members were all patriotic lawyers, the U.S. Constitution would be "compliant" to creating a strong Constitutional Republic, as it was meant to do. There was a reason why Ben Franklin coming out of the Constitutional Convention answered a lady who asked him "What kind of government did you give us?" by saying "A Constitutional Republic, madame, if you have the wits to keep it."

Instead the Fedralist Society has been a "wonderful" place where conservative & libertarian lawyers have been getting together for over 25 years to "discuss ALL sides"— and to decide that the US should turn into an oligarchical plutocratical corporatocracy, that should be driving full speed ahead towards Fascism. So very NOT the plan of the "Founding Fathers" !

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Karolina
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Nov. 3, 2011 7:45 pm

hey poly, I acknowledge that the party has died, but not all of the party. Times change...deep wisdom often seems crazy....perhaps we have to lower our standard of living for the greater good....outsourcing does that

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MEJ
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Thanks for your thoughts Karolina.

I agree, globalization is disconcerting. I was, just to be clear and hopefully tie this back together, referring to the well known global system that began with colonization. The Americas both North and South were at the beginning of that. At first it involved the merchants and a search for cheap goods to bring home. Then, as industrialization took off, the search for resources from the colonies to feed the industrial machine growing back home. And of course eventually the making of those colonies safe for industrial growth so the production centers can move closer to the cheap labor and resources, then ship the goods back home. The whole system goes under the broad ideology of "free trade". Sometimes these days it's referred to as "neoliberalism" though many conservatives don't like it. Maybe it's the word "liberalism" they find distasteful. Anyway, I find it nicely described by Eric Wolf in his ironically titled: Europe and the People Without History.

The process of making the once colonies now fledgeling states "safe" has been called "democratization" with all the patron-directed ironies from the big mommy and daddy democratic states that go with that. Like the showcase democracy now established in Iraq thanks to the help from Big Daddy Uncle Sam and his pals around the world, at the cost of a few irrelevant human lives and disruption of many of the survivors of that transformative process from their living circumstances as well. After all, those circumstances couldn't have been worth living for them, they weren't democratic. We all know that.

Then there's the once self-created attempt at their own form of democracy in Iran that was getting out of hand in the fifties (they were thinking of nationalizing their oil! The Cretins!) so then that was disrupted, a Shaw installed, and then in the late seventies the religious faction took over. And the democratization process goes on. The Iranians are a danger to the planet and must be democratized before they learn to make their own nuclear bomb (but they'll be ok to have one if they are democratized. Look at Israel.)

All of that is related to the "Long Descent" now that the easy pickings of the planet's resources are gone, production costs of the industrial revolution's growth systems are rising, and the ecosystems of the planet are precariously unbalanced.

Just thought I'd take a stab at getting this topic back on the rails.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

.ren, Thank you for your post. Your posts are so meaty that they require a lot of time to digest.

The cause for our collective inaction on our predicament is both very important and very interesting. I think the main cause is embedded in basic human nature as opposed to specific acculturation, but I will get back to you on this.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

Thanks for what your post and attempt at getting this high-speed train back on its rails. I apologize if I contributed to the temporary derailment with my juvenile delight for having something click into place in my mind! As Olenzekm just stated, your writings are always filled with extra helpings of knowledge and brilliant deductions.

I just want to say one more thing that I hope will not be detrimental to the original topic here. I think that the power & money mongering "Musters of the Universe," who are apparently accutely aware of the continuously shrinking state of the earth's depleted resources which once were plentiful, are consequently IMO now undoubtedly focused on also inducing a shrinking of the world's human population, excluding themselves of course. This may be a solution to their dilemma, from their point of view, whether it is a temporary one or not....and it would certainly be just buying time until the inevitable for them. They are not psychologically nor spiritually equipped to do what is necessary to keep our species from extinction, and bring our planet to being abundant with life-sustaining resources.

The only way to go is scientific expansion. That is what Kennedy was touting, and also why his Camelot administration felt to everyone like a mini-Renaissance. Also why we have never understood who killed him and for what reason. He wanted to build a stronger infrastructure in the USA, including building a system to provide water to the Western States, as well as to provide more electric power to the entire US. Also he was commited to getting the space program growing, so that earth could eventually inhabit other planets, if possible, in the centuries to come. AND, of course, he wasn't going for the Vietnam WAR.

Fear of poverty (i.e."lack of resources"), starvation, and death, even if it seems to be many decades into the future, and even if one is in denial, causes all people (rich or poor) to be frozen in anxiety, and to do desperate things.

That includes dumbing down potential future scientific geniuses with an overly expensive, inferior educational system, or even with NO education system at all—to name just one desperate move in oh-so-very-many....

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Karolina
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I think California is an example of direct democracy through their ballot initiatives. Some circles consider the state now completely unmanageable. Which leads to the language in the initiatives being coopted or framed to not achieve the intended results. Dodd Frank bill being pilloried as gov. overreach, while since it's passage the too big to fail increased their market share from 44% to 57%.

http://thoughtmaybe.com/ is a site with a lot of relevent films re:propaganda or PR, and corporate malfeasance. Ecology is addressed as well. I recently viewed the FBI orchestrated supression of blacks, their movement and recently their vote. Gasland is there, too.

One thing about change and organization, I think it takes a multi-level, multi-pronged push. Thom has written about the precinct captains, then instant runoff elections. The color of change boycott has been successful, and social media is proving to be either a genie out of the bottle, or a pandora's box.

An often overlooked element of the constitution is the right to a court proceeding against the tortfeasors. Civil law is the last bit of justice not completely bought and bribed [5 out of 9 is almost complete].

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douglaslee
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Quote douglaslee:I think California is an example of direct democracy through their ballot initiatives. Some circles consider the state now completely unmanageable. Which leads to the language in the initiatives being coopted or framed to not achieve the intended results. Dodd Frank bill being pilloried as gov. overreach, while since it's passage the too big to fail increased their market share from 44% to 57%.

Not a surprise—it was written to silence those who were demanding a return of Glass-Steagall, but framed to not achieve "intended results."

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Karolina
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Quote MEJ:

hey poly, I acknowledge that the party has died, but not all of the party. Times change...deep wisdom often seems crazy....perhaps we have to lower our standard of living for the greater good....outsourcing does that

Sure outsourcing does that. It also puts people out of work and gives us a nation that can't even put clothes on its own back.

if we are going to outsource to lower U.S. environmental demands, we'd best re-structure society in a way that those whose work was outsourced don't become destitute...and produce something in exchange for the goods we've outsourced besides Treasury Bonds......I.O.U's..

I'm not willing at this point to concede that Bill Clinton put outsourcing on steroids to save humanity from a resource/environmental collapse. The Dem Party party took a sharp turn to the right a long, long time ago. maybe you're just not old enough to have perceived the change.

Everytime a right wing wacko says liberal Dems are doing this or liberal Dems are doing that, I want to ask, "what liberal Dem?" The only true liberal I know of just lost his seat in Congress.. Kucinich...defeated in a Dem primary by Democrats...

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Don't forget Bernie Sanders. I saw an interview of the primary challenger to IN senator Lugar. He says hoosiers don't think he is conservative enough because he voted to confirm a SCOTUS nominee. He wanted Bork, and went on about strict constitutionalist [I think that is dog whistle talk for nazis]. So now anyone not a fascist is a liberal.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

.ren – I will only discuss the aspects of sociological propaganda that I see impacting the Long Decline.

I think that human behaviors fall into three categories with examples:
1.Biological needs – eating, breathing, defecating, etc.
2.Drives – sex, social association, mobility, comfort, etc.
3.Other behaviors – fashion, kind of food, marriage customs, etc.

These behaviors can overlap. For instance, we all need to eat but different cultures prefer different kinds of food. So #3 determines how #1 is done but it cannot eliminate the need for #1, etc.

I think that you are comforted by your belief that sociological propaganda could modify human behavior well enough to lead us to a sustainable future. In principle I agree but I would add that there are several hurdles that must be overcome.

The most severe hurdles occur where there is a strong drive (#2) for something which has an excellent technological solution. I would like to use the automobile as the example.

Think how well the car solves the “drive” for mobility. It can take you from door to door anytime that you want. It does it in comfort. If it is raining it will keep you dry. If it is cold it will keep you warm. If it is hot it will keep you cool. If you are bored it can entertain you. If you are lonely it can carry your friends. If the distance is great it will get you there very quickly. When you aren’t using it, it patiently awaits your return. No other form of transportation is as convenient, fast, cheap, and as well suited to mobility as a car.

The article written by Mr. Ellul talks about how sociological propaganda is used to determine our culture. I agree but with reservations. In the case of the car the human drive for efficient mobility attracts all mankind. It is a natural affinity and needs no propaganda to create its use as a social norm. As soon as developing countries get somewhat developed, they want cars. This is not due to propaganda, social or otherwise. It is a natural affinity.

I heard a story told by John Kenneth Galbraith where he told about gasoline rationing in WW2. He said that for other rationed goods, namely butter, shoes, meat, sugar, etc. people went along with rationing fairly well. But with gasoline people would do any kind of chicanery, cheating, and lying to get a larger ration. This shows me the intense drive that people have for mobility. Maybe it goes back to our nomadic origins, I don’t know.

I hope that I have not rambled too much, I just want to point out that for an technology like the car that is both non-sustainable and highly desirable, it will be very difficult to modify behavior. People will want to put it off eliminating their car for as long as they can. You can see how they howl at gasoline price increases.

Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

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olenzekm
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Quote olenzekm:

I think that you are comforted by your belief that sociological propaganda could modify human behavior well enough to lead us to a sustainable future. In principle I agree but I would add that there are several hurdles that must be overcome.

You have just made an assumption. You are not agreeing with me in principle nor any other way because your assumption is erroneous. Deeply and seriously erroneous. I don't believe any such silly thing about sociological propaganda.

I look at Ellul's sociological propaganda as a very complex conditioned impediment to the change we need to start initiating, not a cure for the ongoing resistance to change. Sociological propaganda isn't so much used to determine culture as it is culture. It's how we become enculturated from birth. What I've said is people can wake up from their conditioning, and I've seen it happen. I'm not in any way hopeful it will on a mass scale. I just say I've seen it happen. People tell me I'm too pessimistic, well, I try to say something positive now and then.

By the way, that wasn't an article, those were pages 62-68 from the book: Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes cited at the top. I thought that excerpt might be suggestive of more to think about, but I see it wasn't.

I don't really have anything else to say at the moment.

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.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

I apologize for mischaracterizing your position. I did misinterpret it.

My point was that industry has found excellent solutions for age-old human problems. The only problem with these solutions is that they are unsustainable.

Our problem is not so much to provide the mass of people with information as to convince them to accept “inferior” solutions to their needs in the name of a sustainable future. Powerful and well-funded groups will be telling them that they do not need to sacrifice; they only need to subscribe to unfettered free markets, etc. That will be very difficult if not impossible.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am
Quote olenzekm:

I apologize for mischaracterizing your position. I did misinterpret it.

My point was that industry has found excellent solutions for age-old human problems. The only problem with these solutions is that they are unsustainable.

Our problem is not so much to provide the mass of people with information as to convince them to accept “inferior” solutions to their needs in the name of a sustainable future. Powerful and well-funded groups will be telling them that they do not need to sacrifice; they only need to subscribe to unfettered free markets, etc. That will be very difficult if not impossible.

Yes, those are very much in the nature of the impediments I'm referring to. What you are calling "industry" I would broaden to "the technological society" because everyone subscribes to it pretty much one way or another. "Progress" is considered a human ontological given, and we've finally been freed -- thanks to technology -- to fulfill our destiny. The "propaganda" includes images of freedom and other ideological factors that support their belief in their newfound middleclass power.

For instance, thanks to liberation movements bringing all manner of previously designated underclasses into the fold, we now have the power for women to dress up in the latest designs in high heels and nylons, expensive stylish dresses and overcoats, get in their very own cars, drive on a pavement that covers what used to be living, thriving earth, to a large, very smart looking building. It's a wintry day, temperature is in the twenties, they park their freedommobiles in a broad, paved parking lot with rows and rows of parking slots and teeter precariously on icy sidewalks reserved just for humans into that large, heated impressive temple of modernity where the lords of the planet magically create all these wonders, and where they will sit at a desk and do their jobs, thus their part in it all.

Fortunately, because only a tiny percentage of humans know how to grow their own these days, "somehow" packaged food is always displayed beautifully on shelves in their nearby supermarkets, some of it coming thousands of miles to get there through a vertically integrated food system -- which is another way of saying "a house of cards". It now costs only about 10% of their pay to feed themselves, down from about 20% in the nineteen fifties (source, p.47). Nobody is told by mass media that this "miracle" in agricultural productivity is the result of turning oil and natural gas into food (agriculture is the single largest consumer of petroleum products in the U.S (source, p.48)), nor that it results in planet wide massive erosion, salinization of soils, deforestation, fertilizer runoff, dead zones around the mouths of many rivers, loss of biodiversity, and a growing scarcity of fresh water.

Meanwhile, in the comfort of their heated, modern homes, the technological society dispenses perpetual images on TV screens that doing all that is human advancement, and that in doing it, people have gone from some deprived, primitive stage of peasant serfdom to freedom. The very notion of sustainability doesn't even enter their daily equation. They don't feel the slightest bit trapped by their technology that's engulfed them, a vast technological system that forms the very nature of their lives.

That's sociological propaganda.

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.ren
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poly wrote: Everytime a right wing wacko says liberal Dems are doing this or liberal Dems are doing that, I want to ask, "what liberal Dem?" The only true liberal I know of just lost his seat in Congress.. Kucinich...defeated in a Dem primary by Democrats...

DouglasLee replied:

Don't forget Bernie Sanders. I saw an interview of the primary challenger to IN senator Lugar. He says hoosiers don't think he is conservative enough because he voted to confirm a SCOTUS nominee. He wanted Bork, and went on about strict constitutionalist [I think that is dog whistle talk for nazis]. So now anyone not a fascist is a liberal.

poly replies: Bernie Sanders isn't a Democrat. He's an independent. And yep. Anyone not a fascist is considered a liberal.,,,no matter how regressive they may actually be.

The only traditional liberal I know of in Congress was Kucinich...defeated by Dems in the Democratic primary. The best that can be said for the rest is that they aren't outright fascists.. However, incremental fascism ...the rise of the marriage between corporations and the state isn't much better, is it?.

The Constitutional crimes of Obama vie with those of Bush...Bush was. accused by Dems as leaning towards fascism.. Of course, Obama is a "liberal" so his continuation and intensification of the crimes is o.k LOL

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/02/the-constitutional-crimes-of-barack-obama/

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease".

polycarp2
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Fertile fallacies – George Soros, philosopher

.ren, thank you for coming back to this thread, I value your input.

I think that I understand your take on sociological propaganda better now. It reminds me of George Soros’ concept of “fertile fallacies.” I read them in Mr. Soros’s book “The Age of Fallibility.” I will reproduce part of it here:

I call the separation of thinking and reality a fertile fallacy. ... I contend that all cultures are built on fertile fallacies. They are fertile because they flourish and produce positive results before their deficiencies are discovered; they are fallacies because our understanding of reality is inherently imperfect.

If follows from our fallibility that social arrangements cannot be based solely on knowledge or reason; they must also incorporate the accumulated biases of the participants. The collection of biases is commonly described as “culture.” That is the basis on which I claim that all cultures are built on fertile fallacies.

I would say that the propagation of these fertile fallacies is your sociological propaganda. I also think that Mr. Soros’ description of how these fallacies are fertile until their deficiencies are discovered is exactly our current predicament.

Our fertile fallacy is the belief in the infinite growth of technological society mediated by the free market. It has produced fantastic results. However, now its deficiencies are becoming more and more obvious. It is becoming more fallacy than fertile. We must take corrective action to avoid “unpleasant” results.

George Soros is a very accomplished economic philosopher. This, together with his wealth and therefore influence, is why the Right has attacked him so vigorously.

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olenzekm
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Oct. 26, 2010 11:01 am

Thank you for sharing that about Soros. i've never read anything he's written. I had no idea he had any such notions. And I agree, I see the similarity to sociological propaganda. It's good if we can be flexible and find different idea structures that represent similar thoughts, that's part of the fertility aspect of culture. And it's also part of the human gift of poesy and poiesis, important elements in imaginative thinking, words that the Greeks understood and perhaps invented, words that are detrimentally forgotten and disused in the world Frank Loyd Wright called "human filing cabinets" -- his term for the epitome of big cities, skyscrapers, which he aesthetically despised.

I'm glad we finally got those concepts aligned. I think you bring some valuable ideas to the board that need a lot of exposure right now. The more of us doing it the more it looks like a movement of thought in a direction. People are more apt to pay attention to movements I suspect than some rag wearing soap box preacher in the park. And, indeed, different words can express similar concepts, and in so doing may give others a chance to access an idea whose time maybe has come. That's also part of the fertility aspect of culture.

People who wake up and express intelligent criticism of the system are seldom welcomed by those who want to conserve what is in place. I looked up your referenced book and I can understand why establishment propagandists attack Soros. But what's so laughable and sad, thus tragic, is they also appear to see him as some sort of guiding force directing some vague apparition they think of as "the left" -- kind of a projection I'd think from their own subconscious and fallacious authoritarian premises, because their imagination fails them in seeing a world presented in different ways. Of course authoritarian and hierarchy works... until it doesn't. Which says more about them than those they despise off-handedly simply because they are the left or perhaps even the left outs.

The people who think outside the box have never needed a wealthy patron to guide them, but Soros would certainly be welcomed at our peasant feasts.

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.ren
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Currently Chatting

Earth's credit card has been maxed out!

If Earth's resources were a credit card, we have already maxed out our entire allocation for this year. The think thank Global Footprint Network announced that August 19th was “Earth Overshoot Day,” meaning that all the resources we use after that day exceed what our planet can produce in a single year.

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