Thom drops the "F-Bomb!"

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Steve.I.Am
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No.  Not THAT "F-Bomb."  The other "F-Bomb" - FASCISM!  And "good on him" for doing it.  We ALL have to get use to speaking the TRUTH!  And the simple truth is that today's GOP fit  Mussolini and Gentile's definition of "fascism" to a T.

As for the dangers that today's fascists pose to the world . . . I don't think that threat can be overstated, either. 

See Thom's spot on analysis here:

http://youtu.be/yb1I5vZ1mpQ

ONWARD!

Steve

 

 

 

 

Comments

.ren
.ren's picture
If there is any sane way to

If there is any sane way to get at what's happening in American politics today, and to understand the conservative mindset, it might best be through that word that they collectively have come to fear.  We do have a tremendous depth of understanding of the make-up of fascism, and its correlation to the corporatocracy that's taken over this nation along with the powerful and increasingly influential Christian Fundamentalist Right.  Whether that can be incorporated into any marketable form is another issue, however.

When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross,” --  Possibly from Huey Long or from Sinclair Lewis in It Can Happen Here.  But no one has actually found that quote written by either.  Since this thread is about Thom's "It can happen here" talk, the following are some possible attributable lines that bear similarities from Lewis' works:

Quote:

Here are passages from two books Lewis wrote that at least hint at the quote attributed to him.

From It Can't Happen Here: "But he saw too that in America the struggle was befogged by the fact that the worst Fascists were they who disowned the word 'Fascism' and preached enslavement to Capitalism under the style of Constitutional and Traditional Native American Liberty."

From Gideon Planish: "I just wish people wouldn't quote Lincoln or the Bible, or hang out the flag or the cross, to cover up something that belongs more to the bank-book and the three golden balls."

Be that as it may, the quote still has punch if you look closely at the American extremist right going all the way back to the uprising against FDR in his attempts to "Deal" with the last financial pit into which the corporatocracy dropped the nation.  In case anyone wasn't paying close attention, there was a very specific reason why Sarah Palin was called upon and put up on stage with McCain in the last Republican attempt to stay in the White House, and it wasn't because of her erudite understanding of politics.  The powerful Christian block was having some difficulties with McCain's positions at the time.

The following quote from another version of "It can happen here" summarizes the course fascism was taking during the Bush Administration, and this course has a long history, it did not start with the shrub and his neocon gang in 2000.  It's most recent resurgence can be marked by the 1971 Powell Memo written to Lewis Powell's pal in the Chamber of Commerce (and everyone knows Lewis Powell became a Supreme Court Justice shortly thereafter, right?):

Quote:

In every realm of government, the White House imperative is to remove protections for consumers, workers, and soldiers; deregulate corporate management and subsidize corporate profits; privatize public services and government agencies; cut corporate and top-bracket taxes; and surrender public assets to private ownership.

Conason, Joe (2010-04-01). It Can Happen Here: Authoritarian Peril in the Age of Bush (p. 140). Macmillan. Kindle Edition.

So many pillars of government were put in place during that most undisguised period of Unitary Executive promotion that the current administration seems to be incapable of living up to any of its campaign promises to reverse that trend.  It's quite debatable as to how hard the president has even tried, given how quickly he's given in when negotiating with the opposition, noble though his intentions may be. 

But it should be noted how difficult it can be for any president to change the very nature of the bureaucracy and deep seated political structure he inherits upon taking the oath of office.  Politics may be represented in the spectacle of campaigns as simplistic, but it is anything but.  Decency of character and a slight degree of naivete with regards to the deep anti-democratic nature of the opposition can make for a degree of ease in characterizing decency as ineptitude in an administration. Actually trying to live up to the democratic intentions of the Constitution can work against one's political image, and that's where maintaining the power of the Unitary Executive comes in, and why a president will tend to keep whatever power is handed off from the previous administration, whether anti-democratic or not.  That's been the trend according to scholars on this topic like Chris Kelly.

Decent moral and ethical Americans who want those characteristics in their White House representative will always be inept in the face of radical fascists.  It's almost impossible for decent people to imagine the real depths of depravity that drives the fascists' utter self-centeredness disguised as patriotic and theocratic thinking.  As a result the decent tend to bring doves of peace to what will always be a gun fight.

Karolina
Karolina's picture
.ren wrote:Decent moral and

.ren wrote:
Decent moral and ethical Americans who want those characteristics in their White House representative will always be inept in the face of radical fascists.  It's almost impossible for decent people to imagine the real depths of depravity that drives the fascists' utter self-centeredness disguised as patriotic and theocratic thinking.  As a result the decent tend to bring doves of peace to what will always be a gun fight.

This is brilliantly said. It's giving voice to what has been troubling me, but I didn't have the courage to face...because it certainly is very frightening, after all. Daniel in the lion's den. How to fight with energy that just wants to devour you and leave nothing behind.

Laborisgood
Laborisgood's picture
And doesn't decent Thom

And doesn't decent Thom always bring doves of peace?

Karolina
Karolina's picture
Indeed. However, with Thom's

Indeed.

However, with Thom's words on fascism this week, he is also giving voice to the ugly truth about what is being done here and globally. The neocons were no doubt taken aback.

drc2
As long as they are not

As long as they are not brought to sacrifice on the idol of Greed in the vain hope that being nice to them will bring charity in return, bring the doves.  Be "wise as serpents, and gentle as doves."  Peace and non-violence is not the problem here.  Naivete, romanticism and idealism may well deserve criticism and rejection.  But it is not peace, healing or reconciliation that need hide from reality and power.

.ren, as always, does a fine job summarizing what the predators and propagandists can do to overcome reason and decency in their manipulations.  Being naive about the political fight and the nature of the opponent ought to be what the Right struggles with.  Their trivialization of socialism and liberalism with dismissive ideological hubris ought to make them vulnerable to just that carelessness and 'innocence' we see in the dove handlers at the gunfight.  Except for what we need to know about the power of media and the allure of mythology, we ought not bemoan the task our side confronts or the cards we hold in the game.  We are not drunk on power nor are we partying unaware that the servants hear us talking about them.

Those who are confident that force and corrupt power will work fine and hold together for their class and kin are playing the long odds here.  

.ren
.ren's picture
I'm not giving up my moral

I'm not giving up my moral integrity so I can shoot it out at the OK corral with these creatures.  It's a real challenge to my creative thought process though.  Knowing that their goal is to murder my core sense of morality and ethics gives me an edge, even when I let the doves of peace out of the cage.

If enough of us hold true, they lose... at their own hands.  We won't have to lift a gun.

They are crude, brutish and Machiavellian in nature.  If we can regain our moral eloquence, maintain our civility, then their innate sense of violence won't impress anyone at the polls.  It's not that hard to expose.  Remember what Ghandi once said about Western Civilization.  I think so too.

JoyceFinnigan
JoyceFinnigan's picture
It seems unwise to

It seems unwise to charactarize this current strain of fascism as a conservative mindset. I think that this "fascism" is being driven and strengthened by consumerism, which is, of course, an American mindset.

It is hard to remedy a particular problem if you cant identify its source.

On a tangentally related topic: Has anyone seen the documentary called "The Century of Self?" It provides one of the most poignant and interesting explanations of why America is the way it is. It also identifies and gives a partial biography of perhaps the most influential and powerful Americans of the twentieth century. Most people have no clue who he is.

.ren
.ren's picture
I've been promoting Century

I've been promoting Century of Self since it became available on the net.  I strongly recommend the three that follow in that vein as well, The Power of Nightmares, The Trap and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

I'm sure you are familiar with Wilson's Creel Committee that spawned Eddie Bernays.  And of course Eddie Bernays influenced the Nazi PR genius behind Hitler, Joseph Goebbels.

I agree with you that we need to recognize how everyone takes part in this fascism.

Books I recommend that I feel really get under the crust of what's taking place begin with a couple companion pieces by Jacques Ellul from the sixties:

The Technological Society

Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes

Then there's

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media

And many more.

JoyceFinnigan
JoyceFinnigan's picture
.ren wrote: I've been

.ren wrote:

I've been promoting Century of Self since it became available on the net.  I strongly recommend the three that follow in that vein as well, The Power of Nightmares, The Trap and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

I'm sure you are familiar with Wilson's Creel Committee that spawned Eddie Bernays.  And of course Eddie Bernays influenced the Nazi PR genius behind Hitler, Joseph Goebbels.

I agree with you that we need to recognize how everyone takes part in this fascism.

Books I recommend that I feel really get under the crust of what's taking place begin with a couple companion pieces by Jacques Ellul from the sixties:

The Technological Society

Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes

Then there's

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media

And many more.

Just a phenomenal documentary.

I am currently writing a law review article on the US/Media/Corporations handling of Jullian Assange and the Wikileaks scandal. The article accepts the Propaganda Model as a matter of fact, and argues that Wikileaks and the internet more generally are destabilizing that model of information control. It argues that the Wikileaks Scandal, provided valuable insights into how the propaganda model can exert itself more robustly to censor the internet.

Not surprisingly, the best way to acheive this end will be through utilizing the private sector to supress free speech (thereby bypassing the first amendment protections) under the guise of copyright infringment. Many of the techniques used against Wikileaks--especially the financial blocade were codified in various sections of the PIPA and SOPA bills a few months later. Public outcry and failure of drafters to apply the proposed laws equally (godaddy.com and a few other big companies obtained special exemptions to the law, while google and facebook did not) derailed these bills, but then there is the highly secretive ACTA Bill.

 Not sure if this article will get published or not, but it has been wicked fun to write.

I am unfamiliar with The Power of Nightmare, The Trap, and All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. But I will check them out.

I read the reviews of Ellul's Technological Society. On cursory reading it seems that Ellul's "technique" is be very similar to Dewey's institutional theories or Foucault's concept of "Discipline". Seems interesting and I will give it a read. (hopfully he isn't prone to the inconsistencies of post-modern thought--like many french "philosophers" from that period are). 

 

.ren
.ren's picture
Congrats on the law review

Congrats on the law review article, hope you can get it published.  I don't know where you are in the profession but it can be risky to do something like that.

I think Ellul is anything but a post modernist.  Yes, I do see some parallels between his and Dewey's Institutional theories. You'll discover that he uses that special term: technique to encompass the notion of an institution as a peculiar social element in the evolution of modern technology.  When I'm in my literary mode I get visions of Cameron's Terminator movies.  I'm not familiar with Foucault's Discipline, I'll look into it.  I have enjoyed some of Foucault's thoughts.

Here are pages 62-68 of Propaganda: The Formation...etc.:  Sociolgical Propaganda  It may give you a feel for his scholarly approach to his subject, which I find both thorough and imaginative.  I was also fascinated by this video: The Treachery of Technology - Jacques Ellul

I find interesting ties between Ellul's analysis of the power of technology to form society and Curtis's last documentary, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

My own challenge is to try to find ways to express this in ordinary language to people who have not tried to get outside the framework of their own embedded sociological propaganda, which in anthropology we would call enculturation.

douglaslee
douglaslee's picture
thoughtmaybe.com is another

thoughtmaybe.com is another source for documentaries, many from Adam Curtis.

Joyce, have you noticed the assault on civil law? SCOTUS overturning the exxon jury award is the most blatant. TX is proud of denying this particular constitutional right. There are some attorneys general aware of it and instituted legislation.

corporatecrimereporter.com/top100.Russell Mokhiber covers criminal law regularly corporatecrimereporter.com. The tortfeasers ought to have their own monthly.

btw, George Orwell was in the trenches fighting fascism, literally in the trenches in Spain.

top ten prosecutors '04 it pays to know the record of your own state's AG, and deputy ag, and district prosecutors.

Elliot Spitzer paid the price of biting a too big to fail. Honeypots are still effective.

Karolina
Karolina's picture
drc2 wrote:Being naive about

drc2 wrote:
Being naive about the political fight and the nature of the opponent ought to be what the Right struggles with.  Their trivialization of socialism and liberalism with dismissive ideological hubris ought to make them vulnerable to just that carelessness and 'innocence' we see in the dove handlers at the gunfight.  Except for what we need to know about the power of media and the allure of mythology, we ought not bemoan the task our side confronts or the cards we hold in the game.  We are not drunk on power nor are we partying unaware that the servants hear us talking about them.

I want to make sure that I understand what "the power of the media and allure of mythology" means here, DRC. Are you talking about the power of propaganda? If so—always speaking the truth, and consequently potentially educating people to the truth would be our task, yes?

Karolina
Karolina's picture
.ren wrote:I'm not giving up

.ren wrote:
I'm not giving up my moral integrity so I can shoot it out at the OK corral with these creatures.  It's a real challenge to my creative thought process though.  Knowing that their goal is to murder my core sense of morality and ethics gives me an edge, even when I let the doves of peace out of the cage.

This is why I find arguing with the supposedly libertarian, neocon or neoliberalist characters that surface here, to be a pointless activity—they are not here to discuss or even argue. The goal of many is simply to destroy, disrupt, and raise blood-pressures, either for money (shills) or just for the fun of it (trolls).

.ren
.ren's picture
Karolina wrote: .ren

Karolina wrote:

.ren wrote:
I'm not giving up my moral integrity so I can shoot it out at the OK corral with these creatures.  It's a real challenge to my creative thought process though.  Knowing that their goal is to murder my core sense of morality and ethics gives me an edge, even when I let the doves of peace out of the cage.

This is why I find arguing with the supposedly libertarian, neocon or neoliberalist characters that surface here, to be a pointless activity—they are not here to discuss or even argue. The goal of many is simply to destroy, disrupt, and raise blood-pressures, either for money (shills) or just for the fun of it (trolls).

I think realizing that can give you an edge, Karolina.  They get legitimized for their efforts, whether for fun, pay or whatever their motivations, when we let them hook us with their talking point bait.  Pretending they are trying to discuss anything is just that, once we've realize what you've pointed out.  That can take us to a different level.  A thinking about thinking level, which is how we can shift perspectives in our mind and recognize strategies that are above and beyond the trees in the forest of words and symbols thrown around.

douglaslee
douglaslee's picture
Karolina, if you have the

Karolina, if you have the time [I do] surf the alternative universe, too.  http://www.newsprism.com/  is a compendium of sources,  there will be the talking points, and then on some other left sites in the comments the same pasted tripe you find here. I agree there is no point in trying a rational discussion, some of the pastes are automated, too. They are launched when key words or phrases trigger a program. Some sites are labeled such, Hartmannwatch used to be one.

Laborisgood
Laborisgood's picture
I’d like to take a moment and

I’d like to take a moment and say thanks to all the fine folks in Thomville for personally giving me hope in a (seemingly) hopeless world.

It’s ironic how those who bring awareness of looming fascism (despotism) and peril of our planet are also those who best bring hope of persevering.  Most of the people in my daily life bring the exact opposite.  They relish their ignorance as they plunge head first into the abyss of facilitating fascism and destruction of our planet.  I come here as therapy and I owe you all a deep debt of gratitude for the exceptionally high quality of services rendered.  I can’t imagine ever adequately repaying you all.

Enough of that, as you were ….. fascism sucks!!!

Karolina
Karolina's picture
I was thinking — maybe it

I was thinking — maybe it would help if there was at least some sort of idea for the way the globe could be designed to actually be the kind of place we unknowingly expected it to be, way back when we spent all of our time just reacting to everything, while enjoying the blissful ignorance of youth.

Yesterday on the TX thread, I had a suprise idea in response to a poster's attempted derision — what if our globe became a planet of public corporations run democratically, in sovereign Constitutional Republics, with democratic governments? I think that pretty much sums up what I naively, optimistically, and unknowingly expected the world to become, while I was becoming whoever I was destined to be...

As a child I was very aware that I was living in a wonderful country and that I was very lucky to be born here. It troubled me that there were countries, and even continents, where living conditions were nowhere nearly as good as what I had here, and I hoped that the resources and living conditions would improve for all people on the planet. 

Does anyone know if there are any ideas out there, born of thinking outside of the box and coming up with another design for our globe, besides the grossly polarizing "Globalism" which would be the opposite of what we expected as children?

douglaslee
douglaslee's picture
There are third world

There are third world communities that are poor, but healthy and happy.  I have been to a few, one was a fishing village in the Phillipines, that was a staging area for boat people refugees from Vietnam. The housing was on stilts over the water, no locks to speak of, bamboo doesn't hold up too well. There was electricity, but no plumbing. The village common meeting hall had a satellite dish and a tv. This is poor by western standards, but they had food, fresh fish and rice and veggies, shelter, little chapels shinto & christian. Some enterprising residents had a shelf on their front door selling cigarettes, individually. Children were playing in the dirt paths connecting the village, they were playing with a type of handball that was really a beanbag, and they could kick it, catch it, and throw it. They were having fun, were safe, well fed, laughing, what else matters? 

Even Mexico can stand up to exploitation but not America.

.ren
.ren's picture
Karolina wrote: I was

Karolina wrote:

I was thinking — maybe it would help if there was at least some sort of idea for the way the globe could be designed to actually be the kind of place we unknowingly expected it to be, way back when we spent all of our time just reacting to everything, while enjoying the blissful ignorance of youth.

Can you envision a design and also successfully implement it that is essentially voluntary and democratic in nature?

The United Nations is a democratic design whereby independent nation states in an essentially anarchistically (non)governed world voluntarily get together to work things out.  As the United States alone has demonstrated, the UN does not tell it what to do. 

As I've pointed out a number of times to conservatives who want to destroy the current U.S. government, as a governing structure the UN is about as toothless on a world scale as the Articles of Confederation were on a national scale here, and that was when there were only thirteen states.  There's a good argument that if we had never gone to a Constitution, we would never have become a 50 state nation, nor a world scale Empire as we are now. 

But then look at the conspiracy theories that crop up from within the US about the malevolent nature of the UN when these voluntary nations attempt to come up with a management template that might benefit all nations.

If you look closely you'll find that those UN management templates generally have some of the same overall public good features that are being thwarted so successfully in the U.S. by a group of self-centered and powerful thug-like people (and their apparently easily programmed followers) who want the freedom to own and control things.  As a group they have demonstrated that they can quite successfully thwart efforts to develop public safety nets, environmental regulations, public safety regulations and so forth.  They are therefore quite powerful.

Which brings me back to my question of successful implementation.

Karolina
Karolina's picture
I agree with everything that

I agree with everything that you wrote there, Ren. But before there can be implementation—there needs to be a plan.

The thugs and their weak-minded followers came up with a plan—destroy everything that keeps US citizens safe from thug-greed, destroy democracy, divide & conquer, establish a police state, privatize everything.

After they had this plan, they then came up with the way to implement it—organize, take control of the US money, accomplish moves forward in secrecy, buy the US government. They are not quite done with the implementation of their evil, selfish, short-sighted vision, but you have to laud them for the fine job they've done so far. :)

I am just saying, that we need to have a vision and a plan of what it is WE want to create, and only then can we —organize..........and figure out how it can be implemented. 

The thug plan of self-empowering destruction is disgusting. A very negative energy, anti-life plan.

We need a vision of what our country and our earth could possibly be at its (and our) healthiest and best. It would be something to think forward to, like an artist planning a work. Otherwise, we are just reacting to the thug-plan implementation horrors, and consequently, unknowingly supporting their creation of a pain-filled and dying world.

I volunteered my vision—and would love to hear anyone else's.

.ren
.ren's picture
I don't think we lack for

I don't think we lack for vision, Karolina.

The United Nations was once such a vision.

Here's an economic vision you'll find at ZnetParecon

Quote:

Parecon stands for Participatory Economics which is a vision for an alternative way to operate an economy, instead of capitalism or twentieth century socialism

And believe me, they work very hard to explain their vision and how it can work.  Many involved are some of our best intellectual thnkers at some of our finest universities from MIT to Berkeley.  I mean, they can think this stuff into incredible detail.  Their patience and range of thought simply amazes me.

The problem I'm trying to bring out is this: we can probably pretty successfully operate in groups of 25 or so on a democratic basis as our ancestors did for about 200,000 years as hunter/gatherers.  But once you attempt to extend a "vision" to 313 million, or 7 billion, then vision starts to break down into organized cells and the cells don't necessarily support each other.

So then you come up with not only an integrated common vision problem but an implementation problem.

Laborisgood
Laborisgood's picture
Your vision is clearly a

Your vision is clearly a beautiful one Karolina.  The implementation is hazy at best.

However, I think the gluttonous greed of the global fascists that can always be counted on like a Swiss watch may be the catalyst that helps facilitate your vision.  I see a trap baited with the stench of money that lures those evil bloodsuckers to their demise.  Their hubris blinds them from the realization that carelessly overextending themselves opens them up for a downfall.  Look at Jamie Dimon last week as a microcosm of the banks as a whole.

The integrated common vision "problem" ren speaks of becomes less of a problem when 312.9 million of us Americans or 6.999 billion of us earthly citizens are getting an all-to-common type of screwing by the same few evil pigs.  Unfortunately, our planet might not make it.

Karolina
Karolina's picture
What douglaslee posted

What douglaslee posted yesterday about the people in the Phillipines is just such a cell, I imagine. A cell that is nearly completely isolated from the rest of the world, and whose people cannot ever become some of the world's best intellectual thinkers. Should there be any geniuses among them, no one will ever know.

Our species, with our brain is capable of so much good, so much brilliance. It is a heartbreaking idea that because we have not evolved sociopathology out of our species, we are doomed to a future of going back to live like the caveman, in small groups. We should have educated, thinking, creating people throughout the world.

Of course where one lives, it is always good to be in a community of people that one trusts and feels safe with, and with whom one enjoys mutual understanding. But there is no reason why the entire planet, with its individual countries and cultures, can't be in communication with each other (like we are right now) and ALL have the mind-expanding benefits of strong education and excellent health and all-just economies.

Unless, of course, the thugs prevail, and in places like right now Africa or India, people are kept subjugated because their land's resources, or their people's wealth, is another thing the sociopaths' feel that for some reason they are entitled to. 

Karolina
Karolina's picture
Laborisgood wrote:I think the

Laborisgood wrote:
I think the gluttonous greed of the global fascists that can always be counted on like a Swiss watch may be the catalyst that helps facilitate your vision.  I see a trap baited with the stench of money that lures those evil bloodsuckers to their demise.  Their hubris blinds them from the realization that carelessly overextending themselves opens them up for a downfall.  Look at Jamie Dimon last week as a microcosm of the banks as a whole.

The integrated common vision "problem" ren speaks of becomes less of a problem when 312.9 million of us Americans or 6.999 billion of us earthly citizens are getting an all-to-common type of screwing by the same few evil pigs.  Unfortunately, our planet might not make it.

I like to think that there can be an easy transition out of the hey-day the fascists are having, into a wisely regulated world where they are sent to sit in the corner for a decades long "time-out."

Thanks for the compliment. :)

JoyceFinnigan
JoyceFinnigan's picture
.ren wrote: Congrats on the

.ren wrote:

Congrats on the law review article, hope you can get it published.  I don't know where you are in the profession but it can be risky to do something like that.

Yes, I am very aware that Chomsky's political theories are pariah in the academic community. If it gets published, It will be published  under a pseudonym. This topic could certainly harm me career wise, but dammit all this is a story that needs to be told. America would be shocked if they actually understood how these powerful institutions destroyed Wikileaks. (I have lost all respect for the Guardian)

The acedemie is full of such hypocrites. There are tons of media scholars, such as McChesney, Baker, and Benchler  who are saying the exact same thing that Herman and Chomsky said almost 30 years ago; however, they acknowledge Herman and Chomsky's contribution in the most begrudging and backhanded way--carefully tucked away in foot notes with deprecating prefixes such as "radical", "extremist", or "leftists" etc. Meanwhile, they authoritatively cite back to quack pseudo-academic polemicists such as Ben Bradikian for many of their assertions.

.ren wrote:

I think Ellul is anything but a post modernist.  Yes, I do see some parallels between his and Dewey's Institutional theories. You'll discover that he uses that special term: technique to encompass the notion of an institution as a peculiar social element in the evolution of modern technology.  When I'm in my literary mode I get visions of Cameron's Terminator movies.  I'm not familiar with Foucault's Discipline, I'll look into it.  I have enjoyed some of Foucault's thoughts.

Here are pages 62-68 of Propaganda: The Formation...etc.:  Sociolgical Propaganda  It may give you a feel for his scholarly approach to his subject, which I find both thorough and imaginative.  I was also fascinated by this video: The Treachery of Technology - Jacques Ellul

When I read the excerpt above, my initial reaction was "Oh boy...I have heard a rant like this before." This was largely based on the impression that Ellul was suggesting omnipotent/omni-present sociological propaganda to the exclusion of individual agency. (this type of belief undermines and diminishes many of the arguments made by Foucault as well as many so called "third wave feminists" such as Judith Butler and Susan Bordo.) I find these types of premises to be insufferably backwards.

After watching his video on The Treachery of Technology, I realized that maybe I was mistaken. I will probably check out his book Propaganda: The Formation from the library some time this summer and explore his thoughts more thoroughly. 

 On the Treachery of Technology video: Ellul is spot on in his assertion that technology alleviates social responsibility (and with that individual risk which I believe can have devastating consequences (such as the ballooning student loan bubble)). 

His criticism on the dangers of replacing the sacred with the profane is also compelling. (Although I am not sure that I necessarily agree with his historicism on what the sacred traditionally is).

One of the most intriguing parts of the video was the story about the Surgeon and organ harvesting at the beginning of the video. It is strange how fast an institution develops a symbiotic relationship with the very thing it is charged with preventing or fixing.

I have a theory that at some point institution's become living beings whose sole purpose becomes to grow and survive--rather than to correct the problem they were originally created for. I have been toying with this theory in relation to the criminal justice system and wrongful convictions/the criminalization of victimless crimes.

I have only recently began to proactively study sociological theory of the institution. There seems to be a large body of literature analyzing the effects of the institution on society and the individual; however, very little attention seems to be given to the shift in normative values from within the institution itself. (Perhaps this in not the case. I study this type of theory for pleasure not work. I may be unintentionally selecting authors who focus on the external consequences of the institution.)

.ren wrote:

I find interesting ties between Ellul's analysis of the power of technology to form society and Curtis's last documentary, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

My own challenge is to try to find ways to express this in ordinary language to people who have not tried to get outside the framework of their own embedded sociological propaganda, which in anthropology we would call enculturation.

I take it that you are a anthropologist by training (linguistic? or semiotic perhaps?).

 

JoyceFinnigan
JoyceFinnigan's picture
douglaslee

douglaslee wrote:

thoughtmaybe.com is another source for documentaries, many from Adam Curtis.

Joyce, have you noticed the assault on civil law? SCOTUS overturning the exxon jury award is the most blatant. TX is proud of denying this particular constitutional right. There are some attorneys general aware of it and instituted legislation.

Are you referring to the 2008 Exxon Vladez decision? It has been an exciting 2 years in the High Court. I may have missed it. I can't comment on the punative damages issue, because I am not terribly familliar with the case. That being said Civil court is the best way to hold business associations accountable--and this liability should only be diluted for good cause.

From a Criminal Law perspective, I am very uncomfortable with the concept of white collar-crime. I am extremely pro-defendant and believe that all criminal acts must have the requisite mens rea. Often times the act is commited in white-colar crime is not even illegal (although it certainly would be if the Legislature understood the intricacies of financial transactions), and as a consequence prosecutors rely on novel theories of law (i.e. policy) or dubious interpretations of existing laws to secure convictions.

That being said, in situations, such as Madolf and Enron criminal law is entirely appropriate. Prison may be to good for those people.

 

.ren
.ren's picture
JoyceFinnigan wrote: .ren

JoyceFinnigan wrote:

.ren wrote:

I find interesting ties between Ellul's analysis of the power of technology to form society and Curtis's last documentary, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

My own challenge is to try to find ways to express this in ordinary language to people who have not tried to get outside the framework of their own embedded sociological propaganda, which in anthropology we would call enculturation.

I take it that you are a anthropologist by training (linguistic? or semiotic perhaps?).

I'm not an academic. Anthropology was my major through the Master's level, but I dropped out of the Phd program and all of academia at that point.  It was never my primary interest, just a long sidetrack with many branches and dead end spurs.  I think of it now as an extended exposure to some interesting ways of looking at things.

I appreciate academics and people who strive for that level of expertise, but I prefer to figure things out for myself, and I wish only to express myself as a common person.  My exposure to PoMo for instance comes from my participation in a Bay Area art group during the late eighties and through the nineties.  PoMo was both an intellectual object of interest and subject of ridicule amongst many artists I knew at the time.  I imagine from your characterizations so far that we probably have different senses of it. 

I tend to see institutions more as forms of culture, but not on the level of a full fledged organically derived and independent culture, so cult might be a better characterization. It's a kind of sub culture that interacts through its own rule set with a larger cultural set, and that involves a dynamic process on the part of the participants as they imagine and articulate the rule structure of the institution. Considering that living human beings take part in them, I can see your metaphor about them becoming living beings.  If they could be completely and perfectly defined and that definition were carried out to the letter, they'd be more like machines to me than living beings, and the humans would be just about the same as if they were programmed cyborgs.  But I'm more interested in the form, which tends to be hierarchical, and how that shapes both the individuals involved as well as its evolution within the larger cultural context, rather than whether or not it's alive as an entity of its own.  There are limitations that go with hierarchies, and those involve the rules of formation that go with forming an institution.

I do not look at any of this deterministically.  I'm looking at it more phenomenologically and therefore existentially.  That is, as the way individuals may come to shape and define a world view for themselves through their own perceptions and experience.  And Ellul has been acused of suggesting a determinism through his descriptions of technology and technique himself.  But I don't read him that way.  Also note that he's been described as a Christian anarchist.  Now that would mean that he probably wouldn't fare well in a fundamentalist institution.  Which is another reason why I don't read him as a determinist.

douglaslee
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Harry Kriesler short

Harry Kriesler short interview, 'authoritarian is illegitimate by assumption' is key phrase.

Karolina
Karolina's picture
Roberto Mangabeira Unger is a

Roberto Mangabeira Unger is a philosopher and a Brazilian politician, who has taught at Harvard Law School. Barack Obama took Jurisprudence and Reinventing Democracy with him. 

In a recently released video, Unger states the political situation in the United States and then imagines beyond the current paradigm. 

Quote:
Neither of the two major political parties offers [the United States] what it needs.

The Republican Party imagines that if government became less costly, less restrictive, with lower taxes and fewer regulations, economic growth would make up for inequality. If this party had its way, inequality would become even greater than it is now, and threaten freedom and prosperity even more than it now does.

The Democratic Party proposes no new direction. Its idea is to put a human face on the program of its adversaries, to implement their program with a humanizing discount. Give the bond markets what they want. Bail out the reckless, so long as they are also rich. Use fiscal and monetary stimulus, to make up for the absence of any consequential broadening of economic and educational opportunity. Sweeten the pill of disempowerment, with a touch of tax reform, even though the effect of any tax reform is sure to be modest. This is less a project than it is an abdication.

America seeths with vitality. Nowhere in the world is there more energy and ingenuity diffused through the whole population. Much of this talent goes wasted. The deepest cause of the financial and economic crisis that the United States has recently undergone, is that the country stopped producing at competitive prices, enough goods and services that the rest of the world wants.

[The US] then tried to escape the consequences of this failure, by living as if the failure had not occurred. It put a fake credit democracy in place of the property-owning democracy — that it turned into an ever more distant idea. The government bribed, placated and finally abandoned the people, instead of equipping them. 

What then should the program be? 

Enlist finance in the service of the real economy, rather than allowing it to serve itself. 

Broaden the gateways of access to the vanguards of innovative knowledge-based production, and disseminate advanced experimental productive practices among the small and medium-sized businesses that form the heart of the American economy. 

Make available to all Americans a type of education that accords priority to capabilities, both conceptual and practical, of analysis, synthesis, and recombination of ideas and of things.

And to this end, reconcile the local management of the schools, with national standards of investment and quality. 

Engage society in the competitive provision of public services as the best way of enhancing their quality, while using the powers of government to ensure a universal minimum of provision.

Insist on the high level of taxation required for the financing of such alternatives. What matters in the short term, is the overall level of the tax take and how it is spent. Later on it can be made more progressive, through a steeply progressive tax on individual consumption. 

And above all—take politics out of the shadow of money.

This program fails to fit within the limits of the two major progressive traditions in American history. One tradition defends small-scale property and small business. Another tradition seeks to regulate big business so that it not damage the public interest.

It is no longer enough to protect small business or to regulate big business—or to attenuate economic inequalities through compensatory redistribution by taxation and transfer payments. We need to democratize the market, to renew its institutional arrangements, so that more people can have more access to more markets in more ways — so that they can stand on their own feet and make something of themselves.

We cannot democratize the market economy, unless we also deepen democracy. President Obama must be defeated in the coming election. He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States. He has spent trillions of dollars to rescue the monied interest — and left workers and homeowners to their own devices.

He has subordinated the broadening of economic and educational opportunity, to the important but secondary issue of access to healthcare, in the mistaken belief that he would be spared a fight. He has disguised his surrender with an empty appeal to tax justice. He has delivered the politics of democracy to the rule of money. He has reduced justice to charity. His policy is financial confidence and food stamps. He has evoked a politics of hand-holding.

But no one changes the world without a struggle. Unless he is defeated, there cannot be a contest for the reorientation of the Democratic party as the vehicle of a progressive alternative in the country.

There will be a cost for his defeat in judicial and administrative appointments. The risk of military adventurism, however, under the rule of his opponents will be no greater than it would be under him. Only a political reversal can allow the voice of democratic prophesy to speak once again in American life. Its speech is always dangerous. Its silence is always fatal.

.ren
.ren's picture
douglaslee wrote: Harry

Thanks doug.  I always appreciate Harry Kreisler's interviews.

Chomsky's underlying philosophy is the anarchist tradition, which for him is the root American revolutionary tradition as well.  Correlating wage slavery to chattel slavery, and even the Republican tradition of the 19th Century as expressed by Abraham Lincoln is part of his anarchist tradition.

Even though he insists he doesn't include the anarchistic tradition in his work in linguistics, I can find it there.  The first time I noticed I saw it embedded in that debate he had with B.F. Skinner back in 1960. His own arguments about the acquisition of language essentially destroyed the 19th early 20th Century tradition of logical positivism as it had become embedded in behaviorist psychology. 

The behaviorists' determinism comes from a mistaken assumption that imputes objective reasoning above our other human characteristics.  That, it turns out, is a formal logical fallacy at the heart of that positivist tradition in science.  By questioning the assumed authority of positivist science, Chomsky helped bring both psychology and linquistics into the 20th Century to join quantum physics and the philosophical traditions that followed Wittgenstein's Tractitus Logico-Philosophicus where he exposes the fallacy that reason supercedes all; the exposure was expressed in the elegant and koan-like conclusion of Proposition 7: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof on must be silent." 

Chomsky's argument about how an individual acquires language implies that we are the masters of our own language, that it comes from within as a part of our human nature.  It is not the result of some external force that programs language into us by various schedules of reinforcement as Skinner tried to prove in his rebuttals to Chomsky, and as he later expresses in a more general way in his famous tome: Beyond Freedom and Dignity.  Paradigm shifts do not come easy to those wedded to their logical fallacy assumptions, and Skinner, like the flat earth believers of an earlier century, continued on with his.

To behaviorists, the very concepts of freedom and dignity are a hindrance to us because they are abstract ideals that cannot be measured or quantified.  The very core of that thesis is also embedded in the nature of modern techno-industrialism as a force that disdains human beings.  A force that comes from individuals who view common people as little more than machines to be programmed to do work in these production-oriented institutions that dominate our existence. 

In Chomsky's interview with Kreisler, he once again turns the behaviorist tradition on its head.  He does that with an inductive reasoning that simply and cleanly rebels against the authority of reason itself. Power (and authoritarianism) must prove itself to be legitimate.  It must prove itself to be legitimate to each of us. And we each, individually are in the position to decide that legitimacy.  And if we choose to accept it as legitimate, that becomes our choice, not a necessity, thus power never can prove itself legitimate unless we want to accept its reasoning.  But the reasoning itself is inert.  It requires our participation for whatever it proposes or assumes to take place.  Reason itself is not power, we are the power to act on reason, reason is just our tool. Language is ours, we are not language's.  This is a lot like awakening through a Buddhist koan.

Chomsky uses the wage slavery = chattel slavery correlation that many of our early American forbears recognized as the very reality of authoritarian indignity they were seeking to overcome.  The assumption is that power and authority are illegitimate, as you note.

Many rebelled against it, and from that rebellion arose a whole tradition of movements we now see as the progressive movement.   As others, like Chomsky's long time friend Howard Zinn, have pointed out -- and today we have people like Chris Hedges keeping that tradition alive -- the corporate state began to systematically crush those kinds of public movements early in the 20th Century with very sophisticated forms of mass propaganda.  As a result, the unions today are a kind of vestigial remnant of those traditions, almost as useless as an appendix in modern neoliberal corporatocracies.  And yet the corporate state continues its relentless efforts to crush that form of collective progressive rebellion against the forces of industrial institutionalism.

Now nearly two century's later we continue the rebellion against the various techniques of mass propaganda that deaden our consciousness and try to get us to believe their legitimacy without their need to prove it.  Those sales techniques were developed during a 20th Century in which Machiavellian-like perpetrators. such as Eddie Bernays and Joseph Goebbels, employed insidious communication methods along with commodified behavioristic schedules of reinforcement on a population as if to prove that a corporatized government need no longer legitimize itself through any concerns about human dignity, decency and ultimately our freedom to think for ourselves.

That is the exact opposite of the anarchist tradition, and, as Chomsky attempts to show, remains the source of our own rebellion against this machinery of state and economics combined to put us to sleep.

Noam Chomsky on the State-Corporate Complex: A Threat to Freedom and Survival

Chomsky's talk starts about 19:45 in.

.ren
.ren's picture
Thanks for that link to

Thanks for that link to Unger, Karolina.  This is very much in the anarchistic tradition I tried to show that I find in Chomsky's thinking:

someone at Wikipedia wrote:

Although modernist projects, such as neo-liberalism and Marxism, saw society as a creation of the human imagination and not of an underlying natural order, they failed to carry this insight to its natural conclusion: that all social arrangements are political, and social theory is not beholden to social typologies or necessitarian developments. As a result, these movements, according to Unger, turned to narrowly framed explanations for narrowly described phenomena.[14] To fully realize the liberation of humanity from the constraints of social hierarchy and the degradation of economic enslavement, and to actuate the ideals of empowered democracy and individual freedom, Unger's work attempts to rethink these projects by bringing "insight into the actual and imagination into the possible."[15] He has put forth bold institutional alternatives in the realms of politics, civil society, and the market.

 

douglaslee
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I put both Chomsky and Zinn

I put both Chomsky and Zinn in the Lamed-Vov category [the 36 souls that civilization itself depends on to survive] Some others doing so through information like Hedges you mentioned, and   Thom Englehart,it-couldnt-happen-here-it-does-happen-there.

The Lamed-Vov is told here as the Zen of Ken

.ren
.ren's picture
douglaslee wrote: I put both

douglaslee wrote:

I put both Chomsky and Zinn in the Lamed-Vov category [the 36 souls that civilization itself depends on to survive] Some others doing so through information like Hedges you mentioned, and   Thom Englehart,it-couldnt-happen-here-it-does-happen-there.

For anyone interested in reading from some our best investigative minds how Empire is proceeding I highly recommend getting the email feed from Tom Englehardt's tomdispatch.com site.  I bought a copy or his Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050 to help support a site I value and found it well worth the reading time.

That particular article you linked puts the international and the national anti-terrorist insanity gripping our government together in a riveting way.  Since I don't have access to 24/7 news feeds I wouldn't have known about the suburban San Diego Wells Fargo bank robbery incident even if it did happen until I read that piece by Tom the other day.  The lesson it teaches of fascism taking place right here, right now, ought to be sobering to anyone who thinks it's not.  A hypothetical bank robbery:

Tom Englehardt wrote:

The events that followed -- now known to everyone, thanks to 24/7 news coverage -- shocked the nation.  Declaring the bank robbers “terrorist suspects,” the police requested air support from the Pentagon and, soon after, an F-15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base dropped two GBU-38 bombs on the bank, leaving the building a pile of rubble.

You can't make up absurdist comedy about human foolishness more extreme than that.  And people wonder why I don't go to cities any more.

The reality he points out is that much the same sort of thing is taking place at U.S. military hands elsewhere on this planet.  Afghanistan and Pakistan to name a few.  I tried to express my own take on that in a review of our recent Iraq adventures and the aftermath on another thread the other day.  Chalmers Johnson told us about the government's not much advertised notion of Blowback.  You can't help but wonder about that going into this stew and how helpful that can be to enforce fascist practices.

Very nice, doug.

drc2
The Unger stuff is

The Unger stuff is interesting.  I think he draws some conclusions and describes American politics at a less than adequate level, but his basic prescriptions for what we should be doing are very good.

Then he shows that he understands nothing of American politics by shouting that Obama must be defeated.  Not if you want the alternatives Unger is describing in place of what has been going on that he shows to be wrong.  I am not going there again.  I do not believe that the disaster Romney would bring would clarify and mobilize the effective Progressive revolt or the uniting of Libertarian and Progressive opposition to Corporate.  I think it just gives Corporate more power and control to do more damage before we get around to doing the repair.  

I was hoping he was going to advocate movement politics and some outside/inside strategy where we would push Obama outside the Democratic Party DLC managers.  He could be correct about the party and still see that there was nothing left of health on the Right.  Giving the keys back to the drunk drivers is not a good idea.

.ren
.ren's picture
DRC, no one I know who would

DRC, no one I know who would turn away from Obama for the philosophically-based reasons Unger expresses would consider voting for a supreme corporate example of fascist leadership like Romney.  Nor would they consider Ron Paul. 

The people's minds are what is really important in this struggle. It's the people and their consciousness that the right really fears. Maybe Unger is seeing a different picture than you are.  Maybe an Obama defeat at the phony freedom of speech of big money corporate power would clarify and mobilize what you think it won't.  Maybe Obama is exactly the very odd mixture symbols that are holding back a full and clarified expression that can bring the growing OWS vision to fruition. 

Ours is a much more diversified population than either Germany's or Italy's were in those versions of fascism, and the present day neoNazis have little hope of being as hegemonically strong here as they became in Germany.  The biggest force they have now in their favor, aside from the looming threats of Patriot Act coercion, is mass fear and confusion.  Those are not persuasive forces but they do serve to immobilze a large sector of the population that's becoming increasingly restless. But the white patriarchy is very much more diluted here, maybe not quite as much as it is in Unger's part of the world where the neoliberal expression of white patriarchal power has been on the run for a while now, but it's getting there, especially in the metropolitan areas where the true forces of elite oppression are coming to bear.  In some cases these areas are a hair trigger away from conflagration.

I don't think the following is all that much a less than adequate understanding of what is taking place in the U.S. than I can see. The left continues to formulate these binary false dilemmas and as a result discussions spin off into eddies and whirlpools that leave off any from any sense of concerted direction that could offer alternatives to the relentless main stream in which both options in the next election ride:

Quote:

The Two Lefts

Unger sees two main Lefts in the world today, a recalcitrant Left and a humanizing Left. The recalcitrant Left seeks to slow down the march of markets and globalization, and to return to a time of greater government involvement and stronger social programs. The humanizing (or ‘reformist’) Left accepts the world in its present form, taking the market economy and globalization as unavoidable, and attempts to humanize their effects through tax-and-transfer policies.[44]

Unger finds the two major orientations of contemporary Leftism inadequate and calls for a ‘Reconstructive Left’ – one that would insist on redirecting the course of globalization by reorganizing the market economy.[45] In his two books The Left Alternative and The Future of American Progressivism, Unger lays out a program to democratize the market economy and deepen democracy. This Reconstructive Left would look beyond debates on the appropriate size of government, and instead re-envision the relationship between government and firms in the market economy by experimenting with the coexistence of different regimes of private and social property.[45] It would, like the recalcitrant and humanizing Left, be committed to social solidarity, but "would refuse to allow our moral interests in social cohesion [to] rest solely upon money transfers commanded by the state in the form of compensatory and retrospective redistribution," as is the case with federal entitlement programs. Instead, Unger's Reconstructive Left affirms "the principle that everyone should share, in some way and at some time, responsibility for taking care of other people."[45]

The heart of his reconstructive left goes to our long discussion on Anti's thread regarding the limiting effects on our human spirit of the context created through a logical positivist rationality that constructs this techno industrial framework we experience as life.  Of the three key factors of our life's work that make our lives important to us, the instrumental factor that empowers through the intrinsic authority of the work itself, conferring dignity and direction to our lives, can be rendered meaningless by this framework -- especially so for those of us not in line with the sociopathologies of industrial production processes and their effects on our humanity as well as the very life processes of this planet.  I think that describes a lot of us who can be categorized as the "left" (out) of this mythology narrative.

Quote:

Ungar's Philosophy

At the core of Unger's philosophy are two key conceptions: the infinity of the individual, and singularity of the world and reality of time. The premise behind the infinity of the individual is that we exist within social contexts but we are more than the roles that these contexts may define for us—we can overcome them. In Unger's terms, we are both "context-bound and context-transcending;" we appear as "the embodied spirit;" as "the infinite imprisoned within the finite."

A similar correlation of the individual infinity that is context bound is in what Chomsky has pointed out as the infinite creative potential of language that comes out of the context of a limited alphabet and a grammar.  Many people do not appreciate and explore this infinity of expression, but nevertheless it is there for each of us.

Unger's proposals for a reconstructive left are not that different from the proposals of people like David Korten.