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Excelent diary, thanks. We had a discussion about narratives in Ephemera's diary Framing the UK Abortion Debate. This EID diary is certainly complementary to read with that in mind.

It's interesting in how the left are much less successful at creating the narratives on their terms than the right.  If we constructed similarly contradictory narratives, the right would pick it all apart immediately, taking their audience with them.  yet when the left try to remind of the lies and false statements/hypocritical actions of the right, somehow we are not so successful in opening eyes to that.

Is that because we are contradicting a deeply ingrained and widely accepted narrative that isn't questioned by people?  We are challenging a 'truth' therefore we must be lying and the right can smack us down for it because they still hold the dominant discourse and quickly bury our objections and statements. And the audience remembers how the left contradicted the comfortable and reasonable sounding mainstream story, but they never remember the left pointing out continued lies of the right.

by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 02:54:59 PM EST
It's media, media , media that we lack (money, money, money) .. and the structures behind it.  Plus, once youg et a certain mythology some sort of "tradition" sets in... and then it is tough.

As Bit would say... Bbuy media!.. and as Chris would say... create new structure!!!

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 03:32:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's interesting in how the left are much less successful at creating the narratives on their terms than the right.  If we constructed similarly contradictory narratives, the right would pick it all apart immediately, taking their audience with them.  yet when the left try to remind of the lies and false statements/hypocritical actions of the right, somehow we are not so successful in opening eyes to that.

That's because "the left" actually believes in the enlightenment narrative of facts and consistency.

First of all, there's this idea that the facts are the narrative. Then the idea that creating narrative is lying, and then an expectation that the narratives will be true, which makes the allegiance of the base vulnerable to "consistency" and "honesty" attack from the right.

"The right", on the other hand (see Altemeyer's "The Authoritarians" for evidence at least within the Western™ cultural matrix - kcurie is not convinced it is a cross-cultural universal) doesn't have a problem holding contradictory ideas in their head (at different times, that is), doesn't have qualms about building narratives, and the base doesn't expect consistency or intellectual honesty from their leadership (they have other values) so their allegiance is not vulnerable to consistency attacks.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 03:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely dead on.... plus media.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:25:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
About media... The sad thing about Publico.es is that it is supposed to be on the left side in the media fight for the soul of the Spanish left (more pro-PSOE than the increasingly economic-liberal ElPais.es) and yet they reported the IMF thing about the mortgage market as if it were a serious opinion as opposed to evidence that even the IMF is not to be taken seriously any longer. And the director of Publico.es is Escolar of Escolar.net! Why bother starting a new newspaper of the left if they don't have their eyes on the ball?


When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:29:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I still hope that there was some kind of "we know this is bull" in the subtext.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:29:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No such luck. The byline is "agencies". It's not even a signed article.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OOooopss..

then feel free to forward anything to Escolar... although a tranalated version is time consuming for sure.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:31:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was thinking of polishing the English a bit for the Front Page (it's going there on Monday morning!) but I'll consult you over e-mail because I don't want to "correct" any intentionally peculiar turns of phrase.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
just keep the doomed instead of the doom.. and it is fine..:) Others turns.. feel free.. I actually make the phrases with a clear spanish background... hoping that the turn is the same in spanish.. or at least that it can be interpreted.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:54:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand there are 17 reader comments to the story and they are universally cynical and mostly well-informed about the nature of the subprime "financial innovation".

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:37:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you get an article/LTE published in it? (Theoretically - I know it's too late for this one.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:52:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When one reads the article you quite do not know if there is  subtext of "look how stupid the IMF is" or not. It is really tricky.... sometimes  it seems they think it is serious, other times not...a dn always in very subtle things.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:54:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But even if so, making it explicit with some infusion of collected ET wisdom[TM] would be great.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:03:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely... but you were trigth before.. thsi was like some weeks ago? I do not recall..so it would sound weird...

but a translation can be given to escolar, that's for sure. Migeru knows the mail... so he can feel free to pass it...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:07:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wonder whether Escolar will allow it as an op-ed...

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:15:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
First of all, there's this idea that the facts are the narrative.

Well, the idea that all you have to do is explain facts to people and they'll work out the narrative for themselves.

Narratives are always moral, in the sense of promoting certain kinds of behaviour and discouraging others. But where the Left attacks very specific behaviours, the Right works by promoting feelings first and then adding a narrative wrapper around them.

It's literally Pavlovian conditioning. Make people scared about their jobs and tell them immigrants are coming to take them from them, and in no time you'll have people who hate immigrants.

It's like I said yesterday about 'show don't tell.' It's not just the bedrock of fiction, it's the bedrock of all story-telling, which makes it the bedrock of all politics and economics too.

The mistake the Left makes is putting the feelings last. That's why most campaigns are so ineffective - campaigners feel the outrage, but it's rarely communicated in a way that people who aren't already persuaded can get personally excited about.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:30:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... learned since the enlightenment.

Well, the idea that all you have to do is explain facts to people and they'll work out the narrative for themselves.

There are no such things as free-standing facts with relevance independent of systems of cause and effect.

A certain number of people will be able to build those kinds of systems for themselves that are sufficiently close to coherent that the facts they already "knew" suddenly snap into a new focus.

But that is not enough to bring enough people along quickly enough to build a change coalition. Its not enough to make the raw materials available to people for them to build those systems on a do it yourself basis ... we've also got to provide modular kits and pre-assembled models.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon May 12th, 2008 at 11:57:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]

That's because "the left" actually believes in the enlightenment narrative of facts and consistency.

The enlightenment project was always an affair of the  middle class. It was most influential at those times when this class composed the majority of the electorate. As the franchise was extended to those lower down the ladder the enlightenment narrative became less compelling. In the USA Freemasons served to convey many of these values to emerging members of the middle class.  However the majority of the population retained allegiance to "that old time religion." One of the reasons emerging members of the middle class found enlightenment values so attractive was that gave them a perspective on religion that enabled them to develop a relatively integrated, rational faculty, which is useful in business and public affairs--until the adherents of "that old time religion" figure it out and react.

It was elites who proclaimed in the famous 1960s issue of Time Magazine that "God Is Dead."  The right seized on this and rode the backlash into dominance in the 1980s.  What left there remains in the USA has been swimming against this "dark ages" undertow every since.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 13th, 2008 at 01:23:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I never get tired of pointing out to clients, what you have to say is less important than what your audience needs and is ready to accept. The age of the Monologue is long over. Even Dialogue is ineffective where either party has their hands over their ears.

The most natural state is mutual feedback. An understanding of how this works is essential to modern politics, IMO. The aim would be to build a totally organic, dynamic system. It is not so fanciful as you might imagine. What we are doing at ET is examining the rules for such a future system.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 03:55:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's interesting in how the left are much less successful at creating the narratives on their terms than the right.

It's always worth to point out that this has not always been that way. Currently, the Right is rolling back progress - progress earlier Leftists managed to achieve not without resistance from the then Right.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:09:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did the left at some point just declare victory left, or something?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:14:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean declared victory and left...

Preview is your friend.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:30:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think everyone assumed that the post-WWII consensus was a given, and was never going to change.

Mission accomplished.

I don't think anyone on the Left was expecting the ferocity of the counter-attack. It's taken a couple of decades just to come to terms with the fact that it happened at all, never mind what to do about it.

I partly blame the academics and the intellectuals we've had for the last couple of decades. Instead of making Thatcherism and Reaganism look juvenile and ridiculous they've mostly been more interested in playing intellectual games like deconstruction, apparently with the delusional belief that this is somehow profoundly influential, rather than spectacularly irrelevant.

Which is why the Left has lost the universities. There's a bit of token claptrap Culture Theory on many media courses in the UK, but in terms of political influence - forgedaboutit.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:39:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you elaborate on they way in which "the left has lost the universities"? In what sense did it have them before?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:55:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it was more of an Anglo thing, but from the 70s onwards you very nearly couldn't do any of the humanities without being exposed to left-wing critiques and positions.

Right wing faculty positions weren't common, except possibly in science and engineering, and there they were never talked about in class.

The London School of Economics used to be a bastion of the far left. That was partly because of radical student action towards the end of the sixties, but partly because the culture was already pre-existing from the 30s onwards, and being an intellectual meant you were almost certainly a communist or communist sympathiser.

From the start of the 90s MBA culture started to erode that, and now it's becoming formulaic and marginalised, and is being replaced with a much more small-minded and pinched entrepreneurial spirit.

This has done so much damage to universities that the current meme is - why bother? You'll get a better paid job more quickly with vocational experience.

Which is quite true. But there's no longer much sense of going to university to learn, or question, or challenge - it's strictly about finding yourself a shelf on the job market in the hope that someone rich and important notices you.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:09:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was really pleased to realise with the Open University that they deliver their social policy course with a strong left wing narrative.  On the student's feedback page I noticed a number of complaints that the teaching was too biased and militant and refused to allow 'modern thinking' from students on the course!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 04:55:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was specially awful in the 70's...indeed.. it was like deserting the battlefield...they completely forgot what they should have known about narratives,a bout narrrative feelings, and about media, and about..well about attacking the other narrative.

As you said, they thought fact contained the narrative...most accademics at that time would have failed to explain any story-telling coherently...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:32:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I remember a documentary on politics and music a decade ago, which saw the change (in the US at least) at a very specific point: the success of the more private-personal songs of The Carpenters, from May 1970, just after the Kent State shootings. (The argument was more detailed than that, mentioning a lot of parallel processes, but this stuck in me.) This giving-up however was not in victory, but defeat: failure to stop the Vietnam War, and the winding down of the spirit of 1968.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:00:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they've mostly been more interested in playing intellectual games like deconstruction, apparently with the delusional belief that this is somehow profoundly influential, rather than spectacularly irrelevant.

and the right is going to seize advances in neuroscience for its narratives (We are greedy killing machines, therefore, we must legislate this and codify it culturally) while the left ignores what is happening by clinging to its obsolete century old theories.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 12:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Social interpretations of neuroscience.. or the fact that we look for has right-wing narative is quite dangerous.

the number of false theories about how the brain works is astonishing... the number of DNA nonsense you can read in the major newspapers is amazing...

And there is noone out there fighting back..why brain plasticity suddenly dissappeared from major media? why the fact that DNA cannt code anything relevant int he brain because it doe snot ahve aenoug information never expained?  because most of the scientists either beleive the interpretation crap or just do not know what it is hitting them.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 05:08:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I understand you -- there may have been a point in the early seventies that was a zenith, when a rising large generation in the wealthier parts of the world was feeling sure it had flung the old order arse over tit and joined forces with a workers' movement that was far from past its sell-by date.

Too cool, too easy, too short-lived.

A good friend in those days never stopped telling me that the backlash was going to be terrible.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:58:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your friend was a genius..a t least comapred with most people.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:33:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He was. Of the "it ain't paranoia if they're out to get you" kind.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 05:46:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is your friend up to these days?

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 06:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I knew I'd have him on ET.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun May 11th, 2008 at 05:08:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.. we moved the future.. ans now when we are gettign to benefits of years pushing world poverty, hunger and war as ethic world issues,and the generation with this mindset got into midle-levels of power we see that the poverty rates, infatility rates, adn wars are at an all time low... Just imagine what the rigth will get in ten years if we do not fight back.

The left declared victory and left...because things were self-evident.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Sat May 10th, 2008 at 04:28:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think so.  I think the relative success of the right in propagating their narratives has had more to do with owning most of the megaphones for the past half century or so, at least since the invention of television.  And it doesn't hurt that their structure is inherently top-down and authoritarian.

But I think the worm is turning with the rise of the internet and particularly with the rise of forums such as this one.  The Republican party which strutted and talked confidently of an enduring majority just a few short years ago is now in full panic mode.  Even their loudest cheerleaders see only dark clouds on the horizon.  They no longer control the narrative to the extent they did even five years ago.  Looks a little like the internet platypi are eating their corporate media dinosaur eggs and they don't know what to do about it.

The blurker formerly known as ignorant bystander.

by b--- (budr at hughes net) on Mon May 12th, 2008 at 12:36:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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