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The Switch

by geezer in Paris Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 01:17:43 AM EST

In the privacy of my musty attic, among the boxes of experiences filtered by each other and the piles of old insights turned stale or perhaps even (god forbid) wrong, I too cannot resist the urge to indulge myself in futurology. Risky business. This rather chaotic diary grew out of a comment to fairleft's important diary called "Obama cancels Withdrawal", etc


That said, I see most of the same trends and events he does, but there's a big difference in the starting point in my analysis, and so in the outcomes.

Here's what I think is the starting point that needs to be addressed first.
The draft was important, perhaps key to stimulating a lot of the resistance to Viet Nam, but not the real issue of the day. The real issue has been surgically removed from the public consciousness.

What was happening in 1967  was something far more subversive than any mere war resistance. It was a growing gut-level revulsion with consumerism, informed by a peek into the huge and growing attic filled with residue- often merely empty but sometimes  bitter- outcomes of our parent's consumerist lives. Stuart Brand and the Whole earth Catalog, Coevolution Quarterly, the communitarian movement, were all elements, voices of this real issue, and the real threat.

It's one thing to question a war. But when you question comsumerism as a life model, you spit upon God's grave.

It was this anti-consumerist heresy that Nixon and his attorney General Mitchell, that day in his office when CoIntelPro was created, set out to eradicate, and there are a thousand other examples of this sort. No conspiracy needed, just a common response to an obvious enemy.
it was relatively easy to erase. It was, like all revolutionary notions, only one face of the public beast, and a painful spot anyway That's why the beast thrashed so violently when their kids poked the spot.

Americans are quite happy to have the God of the enlightenment buried, particularly those inconvenient moralistic parts about social justice, being your brother's keeper and all that nonsense. but we won't tolerate any heresy or desecration of the vast monuments we've built to honor the god of the "Work Ethic"-- every giant bank, evey junkyard, every landfill, every vast teeming barrio with one or two television antennas on each trashy shack. And now the  crowning achievement of our consumerism, the Gulf of Mexico.

Since I no longer live there, my son is my link to the US. He's a lot smarter than I am, and though his insights are narrower, as befits someone just embarking on the process of stocking up his not-yet-musty attic, I listen to what he says.

I asked him a while ago about a picture we shared- an image that shows an Iraqi father squatting in the dirt, cradling the body of his dead eight year old daughter in his arms. A single tear marks her lovely cheek, as he closes her eyes for her. His haunted eyes look over her, directly at the camera. Not yet in anger. In desolation.

I asked him, "How can you overlook this? Without doing whatever you can to stop it? Can't you see where this is going? Your own sister is her age. This could be her."

His answer tells us a lot that we don't want to know.
He says he has a switch in his head, after ten thousand hours of video games (his hobby, his token of parental rebellion) that simply goes off when he sits down to the slaughter of hundreds for enjoyment. Speaking of his acquaintances, his peers, he said,
"Dad' it's not that they overlook it, it's that they just don't care. I don't feel a thing"
Is my son a psychopath? I, of course, don't think so, because he is horrified by his own switch. Or perhaps that aspect of psychopathology is now the main line of behavior among a subset defined as "Normal". What seems unavoidable is this:

We now have an inexhaustible supply of warriors, of brutal killers, murderers, who were, and are, easy to manipulate, easy to seduce. And they have their switch. We will never have another draft because we don't need it. The desperate need for a job will produce all the recruits we want, and that switch will enable anything. And they will come home, and reinfect their families, their peers with the need to justify, and the means.

We are now a nation in which a great deal of what remains of our real economy is dedicated to the support of the war machine, and, with an endless supply of enemies, we will dig deep. Think about the WWII wartime production boards, that command economy that cannot ever work for our enemies but worked so well for us. Think of the  majority support for the Arizona profiling law, the great fence (wall), the shooting murder of the teenage boy in Juarez. That support can go on for a long, long time. As long as the bullets, and the supply of enemies holds out.

Any attempt to look at future possibilities must begin here, I think, with a cold, hard look at what we have built, at what that machine is good for, what it can do- and what it cannot.

It can make war. Of all kinds, including nuclear, without the impediment of conscience. We have all the enablers we need, all the Chicago-school panderers, and the neo-con psychopaths and neo-liberal pawns who consume and distribute their products.

"The Switch"  represents an infantilized population who, once the switch is thrown, can delete uncomfortable, atavistic things like compassion. Or, if not delete, redirect them into Japanese Anime or Plastic ducks, or dogs or wounded pidgeons.

Can it restrain itself?

Think Black Shirts
Think Youth Corps
Think Stanley McCrystal's staff.

Display:
How can you overlook this?

In fairness to your son, the switch in his head is a necessary psychological tool to prevent himself from becoming either a sociopath or a self-harmer. Believe me, I know. Only recently have humans been able to get audio and visual evidence of damn near every horror occurring around the planet. Prior to the industrial revolution nearly everything not occurring in your neighborhood was out of sight, out of mind. It is so much to take on.

That said, we're so emotionally depleted over here that switching it off is the only option. We don't have the emotional strength to allow ourselves feel what is happening even in our own neighborhoods.

What is so wild to me about this culture after I went traveling is how completely emotionally non-existent it is. We hand wave all things mental and only consider physical limitations (money, power, time, space) as variables in how to live and think about living. "Man up," "deal with it," "there are children starving in Africa" - these are the phrases we use to deny all that silly emotional and spiritual stuff.

Intellectually I kind of knew this years ago - blame Luther, Calvin, centuries of living in very difficult, marginal environments - whatever. I needed the actual experience of feeling it from the other side to understand how destructive it is.

A month or two ago I noted here that the left has nothing to offer, and the above is why. Forgot the material redistributive benefits it offered during the postwar era - those goodies are running out. If this culture is going to mature further, we're going to have to allow, legalize, and encourage emotional and spiritual freedom.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 03:03:18 AM EST
MillMan:
What is so wild to me about this culture after I went traveling is how completely emotionally non-existent it is

it's an emotional cauterisation, to stem the hemorrhage of unacceptable, cognitive dissonance between mediated image and buried feelings, knotted in confusion.

myths, like warriors, die hard.

i have had 6 different nations' youth pass through my reality since february, and the one most distinguishing psychological characteristic in n/ americans was the hoovering up of screen violence.

gratituitous, slapstick cruelty evoked coos and gurgles of infantile contentment, and these were highly educated people, just grandchildren of Mad Men, the generation that supplanted civic sense with worship of the ersatz, the chimera of sell baby sell.

"can you sell?"

"depends what"

"no, can you sell?"

the media drench is so absolute, so truman show, and has encoded a national myth, john wayne, ronald reagan, george w bush, braindead swagger is all.

feelings and god forbid empathy are for pussies, basically. cauterisation complete...

of course the repressed subconscious deals with pressures that make deepwater horizon seem slight, and is ultimately equally uncappable for ever.

n. americans are hardwired mostly for simplification-through-brute force, and nuance -so french- is driven off the mental reservation.

the present systems of education produce brain damage, as does the national diet, especially among the budweiser/frito-pork-rind set, and there's your pool of combustible... congenital asbergian idiots like rush and beck dance around with matches, cackling with glee.

it's become a cartoon parody of itself.

these n.americans are already cracking the egg of ignorance by travelling at all, it's the ones that don't give themselves that opportunity that concern me.

i think you're realising some hardwon truths, millman, since you made the choice to look at your own culture from the 'outside'.

ET is so great for this, and i repeat my respect for all americans who undertake the de-hypnosis needed.

unfortunately much euro-brainwash is just as toxic, just to be clear, and regards more subtle, sometimes just as dark forms of neuroses. we just don't despise intellectuals as much, right now, just mostly ignore them, or install them as bought off pundits. maybe we compete to do hypocrisy better.

'thinking big' ain't bad in itself, sometimes it's great, but the macho stuff has to be seen for the empty bullshit it is, RIP hemingway...

thinking small is beautiful.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 04:22:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I learned didn't come from traveling to country x and thinking "wow, this culture really knows how to do it." Being away from American culture was a good lesson on how utterly neurotic Americans are (which is a soul killer), and most cultures (even other anglo cultures) don't promote social isolation like we do. Both are big disadvantages. But no culture that I got a picture of seemed significantly more resilient in total.

What happened was this (yeah yeah this is post-hoc analysis): I was around people (other backpackers) who were high on life and just happy to be alive on a regular basis, and my day to day life was neither monotonous or bland. From being connected to those people and having an interesting daily life flowed my own love of life. It felt like a very natural and correct way to live. I've had good years of life, but nothing like what I felt during that year. It was like being in love with a person - you know it when you feel it, and it felt just the same, actually. (Brave New World reads as non-fiction now.)

In theory any human in any culture can get to that place - there is nothing special or magical about it. What I outlined in my previous comment are some of the challenges that have to be overcome to get there in America. Other cultures throw up different levels and types of barriers. In hindsight now I can think of people I've known throughout my life who were in that happy place in some way - and the list is maybe even long. But people get there in spite of the culture - it has to be fought for. I happened to luck out and run into it. That can be improved upon.

I don't know if any culture present today doesn't actively discourage what I'm talking about. From my vantage point countries like France or Italy seem like they might, but I think that would only be true if the positive stereotypes of said cultures were the sum total of said cultures, and of course they're not.

We idealize indigenous cultures for this, correctly or not. Native Americans, Tibetans, Aborigines - actually the Na'vi world and culture invented for the movie Avatar fit the bill for my own idealized culture (Cameron knew what Americans were desperate for - the hair-frond emotive-internet thingy the Na'vi had is the opposite of social isolation):

  • Love of life is promoted by their culture, allowing individuals to take it for granted, and focus on other things rather than wasting most of their time and effort following fruitless paths in life.

  • They live sustainably - that is, they won't be the architects of their own extinction.

  • They are non-utopian, meaning they acknowledge their existence in a harsh and indifferent universe and have tools to deal with this pain and difficulty directly, rather than constructing a mythology that sweeps all their fears away in an un-self reflected and unsatisfactory manner.

Peacenik cultures get all shot up, though. Cameron decided to let the "good guys" win as an eco-message.

Speaking of shooting up cultures, the power-for-its-own-sake world we live in is dismal. What are the benefits? What is the point? An ego boost from controlling other humans and having sex with a lot of women? Is this all that humans aspire to?

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 03:20:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
MillMan:
What I learned didn't come from traveling to country x and thinking "wow, this culture really knows how to do it." Being away from American culture was a good lesson on how utterly neurotic Americans are (which is a soul killer), and most cultures (even other anglo cultures) don't promote social isolation like we do. Both are big disadvantages. But no culture that I got a picture of seemed significantly more resilient in total.

america is so hybrid, i think it will be resilient in ways other cultures may not. it's also dynamic and vital, and once that energy is harnessed into the right direction, i think for ingenuity, know how, can-do, etc it probably still can't be beat.

it hasn't done fascism yet, and is itching to try.

i have a feeling obama is like the wave of ignorance retreating, before coming back in tsunami force.

the new resilience may be nothing more than the re-discovered need to stop throwing away so much shit.

save bits of string, and a few mementoes. compost.

4/5ths of the world know what austerity's all about, that's all they ever knew. if we can't use what we know to bring a fairer deal to them, then our fate is to lose what privilege we have.

which will not be half as bad as we fear, for the simple reason that if you're putting out a fire, or building a levee, you don't fucking care if the guy helping you is an iraqui, a queer, or is a different skin colour. shared suffering is a great equaliser, not to mention sometimes the only goad to self-education and political consciousness.

we gotta make that xmas spirit last the other 364.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 09:18:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(Brave New World reads as non-fiction now.)

My reaction to Brave New World almost fifty years ago was that it was part satire, part warning. Also I had the shock of recognition for parts of it. But my breadth of understanding was insufficient to really appreciate it. And that is my post hoc analysis.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 11:35:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the most positive thing about emotion al/cultural travel (as opposed to just physical travel to an identikit tourist "resort") is that it exposes you to different cultures, not necessarily ideal or idealised ones.  Being exposed to different cultures helps to relativise your own, so that it becomes no longer the only, real, or natural way of life - but is exposed as one choice amongst many. Different people may ultimately make different choices which may be better for them but not necessarily the only possible "correct" ones.  

I left Europe and hitch-hiked around N. Africa as a student in an attempt - not so much to find myself - but to see myself from a different non-european perspective. You grow up into a consciousness thinking it is the only "real" one.  But to really grow up you have to learn to see reality from a number of different perspectives in order to become truly self and other aware.

The notion that there is a clearly right and wrong way to see the world is one of those black and white fantasies which N. Americans seem to specialise in - although it is of course by no means restricted to them.  Those who have been oppressed by a dominant imperial power, for example, know that the key to their survival is to cling on to other non-imperial world-views.  That is also why it is often easier to liberate the oppressed than the oppressor.  They are not so invested in one world-view.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 09:23:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I think the most positive thing about emotion al/cultural travel (as opposed to just physical travel to an identikit tourist "resort") is that it exposes you to different cultures, not necessarily ideal or idealised ones.
Just because you're not going to a lxury resort doesn't mean you're not doing "identikit" travelling.

MillMan:

I was around people (other backpackers) who were high on life and just happy to be alive on a regular basis, and my day to day life was neither monotonous or bland.
When I was in Thailand the night train going South from Bangkok was full of backpackers. The whole thing was not "adventurous" at all, backpacks or not. And most of these backpackers were on the way to the rave "Full Moon" party in Koh Pha Ngan. So the whole thing is just like going to Ibiza, but with backpacks and mud to make it feel "radical" or something.

Not trying to deprecate Millman's experience here, but if illumination comes from hanging out with other backpackers it has precious little to do with "experiencing other cultures".

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 09:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed except insofar as the "backpacking culture" (insofar as there is one) may be quite different from a travellers culture of origin and thus still an educational experience. Note I said different rather than ideal culture as being key to relativising the cultural norms of origin.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 11:02:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Not trying to deprecate Millman's experience here, but if illumination comes from hanging out with other backpackers it has precious little to do with "experiencing other cultures".

i too was pretty disappointed with the 'backpacker tourism' of s.thailand, but i did meet more interesting people in guest houses in Bangkok and Chang Mai.

s. thailand was dire... noisy, dirty, polluted with those fishing boats with the long propellers, seedy. quite shocking, how different from the Thailand i'd know up till then, thoroughly disposable experience.

but to return to millman's experience, i think it was moving into a non-american space, meeting travellers from other matrices, less career-oriented, more 'in the moment', that permitted him to see outside his box.

not being a hitherto untravelled american, it would be perhaps less exotic or life-changing to you.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 11:21:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
not being a hitherto untravelled american, it would be perhaps less exotic or life-changing to you.
All I saw was a bunch of ravers, to be honest. They were probably "high" though possibly not "on life" necessarily.

While in Bangkok I stayed in a guesthouse that tried to maintain a 1950's colonial Indochina feeling and charged something like 800 THB a night for a double room ($25 at current exchange rates), not the $150-a-night hotels for western tourists.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 11:27:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's mostly too late to do the SE Asia 50's style  except maybe in Laos.  What was left of "old" Bangkok disappeared some time in the 90s and probably elsewhere in Thailand as well. Even Udorn, to which I had taken a night train in 1991 and met Tony Poe, a living legend of the area, was still a sleepy village, but it seemed a modern metropolis by 2000.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears
by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Fri Jul 2nd, 2010 at 09:11:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is where writing that wrap up diary would have been useful.

On one end there is the package resort where you are fully isolated from the culture surrounding the bubble; on the other end there is the living for multiple years in the jungle with the natives kind of thing.

Without turning this into a 2000 word comment, I was all over the middle of that space.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 01:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That would have been (still would be) interesting. in particular because I have a feeling especially in middle-class "Anglo" culture there's this trope of the gap year which everyone is supposed to take and which I suspect in many cases doesn't lead to any sort of enlightenment, but it does include a lot of intoxicated raving and passing out.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 02:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
2000-present: online developments, global growth, natural aging

July 2005 Mintel Gap Year Reports show a market valued UK outbound at £2.2bn and globally at £5bn. The fastest growing travel sector of the Millennium, predictions are that the global gap year market will grow to around £11bn by 2010. The market demographic is split into those aged 18-24 (pre, during and post university), 25-35 ('career gap', also known as 'Career Break' and 'Career Sabbatical') and 55-65 (pre and post retirement gappers). Very much an option for all in transition between life stages, the effect on the entry into higher level Education, the changing travel markets and staff retention in businesses around the world is staggering.

Gap Year growth is accelerating across all age groups in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. The US is expected to witness a boom in the coming years as the small percentage of those who have passports starts to rise.

You see, gap-year backpacking can be "identikit tourism", too.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 02:27:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
whatever 'enlightenment' is probably a by-product of as a slice of life taking your nose off the study grindstone, before getting it back on to the 'salaryman' one.

some are taking to it as lifestyle, though, and each year away makes it harder to reconform, viz millman.

it's the modern equivalent of the old hippie trail, without so much of the accent on cheap drugs and eastern woowoo.

or maybe it's entering the 'economic refugee' stream before you get pushed into it.

it also reminds me a bit of 20's-30's american hoboing, people knocking on the back door and offering labour for a meal, then moving on.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 1st, 2010 at 09:24:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The notion that there is a clearly right and wrong way to see the world is one of those black and white fantasies which N. Americans seem to specialise in

From what I saw - the "we own the world" patronizing arrogance is common among middle class and rich people from wealthy countries and from wealthy people from all countries. When I was in eastern Turkey I could often tell who was visiting from Istanbul or Ankara, as that arrogance shows through in body language and tone of voice (even in a language I don't understand).

Poorer people from all countries are as prejudiced as anyone - although when exposed to it it felt like traditional human tribalism vs the institutional propaganda people from wealthy countries are infused with.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 02:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MillMan:
What I learned didn't come from traveling to country x and thinking "wow, this culture really knows how to do it.

quite... it's more like each country has another piece of the puzzle.

MillMan:

In theory any human in any culture can get to that place - there is nothing special or magical about it.

it's a return to 'original mind', and yes it is an universal human right.

for millions of years we were nomadic, no fixed address, i find it natural we still thrive from hits of that life, it is vitalising because it's so much harder to get in a rut, habituated. (with all the attendant symptoms of that state, principally the numbing of the senses, and flattening of emotions).

it also revolutionises one's assumptions that the proverbial 'settling down' that supposedly marks the onset of 'maturity' may be as big a myth as could be.

after travelling and expatting 2/3rds of my life, i have found that the trick to contentedly staying still is to keep travelling mentally, and the trick to enjoying travel is to keep staying still inside.

sounds so simple, but it's tricky all the same...

MillMan:

I don't know if any culture present today doesn't actively discourage what I'm talking about.

i hear that... i think it's because the anglo model is being rammed down the global throat.

would the japanese (to pick one) have been better?

each has its own insights, each its own lumps. it's phasic and personal too, what works for one in one's 20's may have run out of charm another decade, what works for one, maybe be terminally irritating for one's S.O.

when you travel, you carry (and share) baggage from every culture you have imbibed, and pollinate the cultures you visit with your uniqueness too. it's very fluid in reality, though it (cultural differential) seems so deeply rooted and slow to shift meaningfully.

there are earthquakes though, when the rigidity and relativism melts, and we 'get it' how we're all one really, and so much more similar than we are different.

the young get this, because of freer movement, and better world media coverage, great travel documentaries, and the part of globalisation that's healthy.

of course the downside is that the more a place gets discovered by mass tourism, whatever's authentically particular gets devalued and erodes into homogeneity.

sometimes i read goethe's descriptions of travelling in italy to get a taste for what it was like before.

course, he had to deal with malaria at the time, travel was dangerous. now so many edges have smoothed away, and regionality has to make pathetic attempts to exaggerate its charms, like the awful blurb of travel brochures, further devaluing through sheer cliche...

perhaps france and italy appealed because they are two traditionally ungovernable countries, italy because of its history and geography, france because it can put the fear of god into its government, when it goes too far.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 07:09:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i've also been thinking, though, in regards to everyone that asks me if they are a sociopath or not. my thought is this, either you believe that sociopaths exist, or you don't, you think that they are self-aware narcissists or have ADD or asperger's or autism or are borderline or manic depressive or schizoid, or not loved as a children, guarded, unemotional, or the myriad of other "disorders" that if you stack them on top of each other in the right combinations could explain everything a sociopath is. but if you believe that 1-4% of the population has a condition called "sociopathy," then ask yourself -- in a room full of 100 people, am i the most coldhearted, remorseless bastard in that room? if the answer is yes, than that is probably a good indication that you are a sociopath. if no, or if maybe, then you probably aren't, or your aren't enough to really be concerned about it. and as many have said before, labels do not have any intrinsic value, just the value from being able to explore the truth about yourself and others.

Read more...

belated ht ATinNM

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 08:37:54 AM EST
It was this anti-consumerist heresy that Nixon and his attorney General Mitchell, that day in his office when CoIntelPro was created, set out to eradicate,...

One of the chief tools for that eradication turned out to be The War On DrugsTM, despite the fact that most of the younger members of his Administration used drugs. They correctly calculated that demonizing drugs would do the counter-culture more damage than it would do them. But the anti-consumerist heresy was potentially more dangerous than the sexual revolution and the anti-war movement together, and stoned counter-culture figures were publicly laughing at "the Establishment" and their values.

Is there a public domain account, especially one that is in digital format, of "that day in his office"? It was so long ago, even if only like yesterday.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 10:04:08 AM EST
My knowledge of that seminal event comes from multiple sources, such as accounts written about or directed at the watergate affair, my memory of some very good reporting on the conversations in John Mitchell's office, but the most important event to illuminate how the FBI and the other alphabet soup agencies broke the back of the "movement" was a huge breakin at the Pennsylvania offices of the FBI.
The best web site for detailed information is gone, site up for sale. Was called "www.Cointel.com".
A good short account of the break-in can be found here:
Biggest underreported story ever, perhaps?

Remember that the focus on the anti-war movement is a diversion, in my opinion. The real battle came focused on preventing any "deviant" discussion at all, and the heart of this battle was a nationwide redesign of college campuses based on Durkheim, Mill, Weber, but most directly Joachim Wach's model of collective behavior, which did these things:
(if there's interest, I'll do a thumbnail of the model's main points in a comment.).

-Eliminate campus newspapers entirely or regulate (censor) them rigorously. Failing that, drive them off campus where local authorities can deal with them.

-Redesign the physical campus to include "cooling off zones" between classes, including reorganizing to maximize transit or walking time between classes or points of assembly or discussion.

-Identify and Eliminate as many as possible of the  places of assembly or discussion as much as possible: Minimize the size of the rest

-Keep all auditorium seating to a size that will preclude their use for tghe growth of a widely held opinion or discussion of issues.

There were many more, and the program was highly effective.
The eradication of the notion of personal empowerment as inextricably tied to community, and implying action as effective and necessary was at the heart of the effort, not the neutering of the anti-war movement. That was encomassed in the first objective.

How many times have you heard "All that street action, boycott shit is so--sixties- so futile. Never worked then, won't work now." -or words to that effect?  
 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 02:50:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
geezer in Paris:
There were many more, and the program was highly effective.

It was aimed at circumscribing physical interaction, and was successful in those terms.

The game-changer is that they can't circumscribe network interaction, and basically, in the fact of the Internet, they're fucked.

Brzezinski - no fool, he - mentioned a 'Great Awakening' going on.

IMHO he's right, and this dialogue is part of the evidence.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 05:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We've awakened, true, but I see young people (well, everyone) in this society of 2010 as much more oriented toward their class interests, simply because there's a lot more at stake at the upper end, income distribution having greatly skewed over the last 40 years, and a lot more economic insecurity. In that context, I'd be surprised to see upper-middle class college campus kids making common cause with the interests of the de-unionized working class or even wanting to be in the same room with them.

Many Americans have awakened, but are checking out and tending to support the economic interests of ourselves, our friends and our family. It'll be interesting to see when/if the bottom half (or two-thirds) latches onto the internet as a massive mobilizing tool, but at this point most of us on the nets are 'top half' economically and mostly acting as I suppose Marx would expect us to act.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 01:27:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Biggest underreported story ever, perhaps?

Great link, GiP! That was three months and nine days after we left LA for Arkansas, so I missed the article. (My first response was: "I read the LA Times for forty years! How could I have missed this?" Perhaps the J. Edgar in a dress photo, etc. was part of an operation to instill the idea: "All of that stuff is so J. Edgar Hoover era. We are beyond that now." The mid-70s self congratulatory mood of what passed for the US left would have facilitated acceptance of that meme.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 11:49:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The ultimate "link" to "that day in his office" should be Nixon's famous tape recordings. Wonder if that one has gone missing.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 12:01:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amerika's a complicated place, and if 'we' bash its young people, it's because we remember how conformist, constipated and castrated most of their elders always have seemed to be. I grew up expecting but then just hoping for better from the young. After all, there was a time when the young played a major and critical role creating a ferocious civil rights movement, and then did the same getting the U.S the hell out of Vietnam.

Why did those things happen in what was more or less a just as de-intellectualized and juvenile culture? Because young people could still feel; they hadn't yet shut themselves down like their careful parents. And all you needed was to look at the pictures and feel. The wrong and right was dead obvious, and that got enough young people off their ass.

Well, let's hope your sense of things is an exaggeration, and that there's still a lot of good ol' feeling American kids out there. And they look at the Afghanistan pictures and do what's right. The wrong and right is obvious again.

More likely, it'll be the 55-plus generation continuing to shoulder a disproportionate burden of anti-warism. And looking so-o-o-o uncool doing so. Oh well ;-).

Finally, thanks for complimenting my diary. The following is for you, ARgeezer:



fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 05:49:42 PM EST
Oops, got my geezers mixed up: that should be geezer in Paris.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 05:52:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seen one, ya seen 'em all.  :-)

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 02:52:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Adrian was had.
He knows it, and resents it, but it's a part of him that will not be erased. It's too late.
It's not the culture of video mayhem as enjoyment, but the whole culture of "To survive, I gotta turn these things off" that is so pernicious.
"The Switch" is not a survival skill at all. It's a death skill, for everyone involved, and begins with the notion that "survival" as freedom from the anguish of empathy for those whom you kill can in some way be equated with the anguish of those who die.

It's the above sort of subversive opinion and insight that I keep in my attic, and drag out once in a while, and usually quickly put away again, once the smoke clears. But I review and update them, and I hold to this one.

To address another implied point:
To generalize about a nation or culture is to automatically be wrong, for huge sectors of the society. Granted.
But how many bolshevics did it take to make the Russian revolution?
How many Americans actively supported and took part in our own revolution? How many were Tories?

The most common figure is that it takes six percent of or so of a population to make a revolution, given the right conditions and dedication.
In our case, the revolution came, and after a little competent applied sociology, it went without anyone noticing it.
What was it I read? 56% of the American viewing audience thinks Fox is their best source of news?

I was once told by a taxi driver that the bacchanalian party that is the celebration of the storming of the Bastille, at the cost of over a hundred French lives, and has become Bastille Day is a reminder to the powerful of France that "We can do it all again, if we must."

Hope that's true.  


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 03:29:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you think the biggest part of the "official" celebration of Bastille day is a long show of force by the armies, quite similar to those that used to happen in Soviet times in the Red Square ?

"Won't happen to us" says the elite. And the way any insult to Sarkozy when he goes around France means jail for the insulter quite reinforces that message, nowadays.


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 04:30:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
first off, amazing discussion, thanks geez and fairleft especially for kicking it off.

geezer in Paris:

Adrian was had.
He knows it, and resents it, but it's a part of him that will not be erased. It's too late.
It's not the culture of video mayhem as enjoyment, but the whole culture of "To survive, I gotta turn these things off" that is so pernicious.
"The Switch" is not a survival skill at all. It's a death skill, for everyone involved

that nails it perfectly. whether it can be erased is doubtful, but it is not irreversible as an attitude, and he has stared into the abyss, and retained his inner witness in the process.

the only lower hell circuit would be to erase the consciousness that it was he that decided to throw the switch, with the slim, faint, but real possibility that he could unthrow it later.

many people spending a lot on therapy in their late thirties and forties trying to find the switch again, or if they find it, they find also it has rusted into 'off' position, and the strength they had while young to change core values is no longer there.

but the pain of the separation never goes away, and drives ever more erratic efforts to expunge, leading even to an attitude, of 'yes, we know we are morally damned through complicity, but it's not relevant as long as we feel we're on top, and grooving on privilege.'

the nut becomes cased, the will to sprout and grow has been suffocated in the chamber/prison, self-selected, and the manic efforts to prove that 'it's all good' become subject to diminishing returns, it needs further buying in to the negative values to assuage the dis-ease, new golf clubs, a new diamond for the miz, another killer deal, more schmoozing with the dark side.

empathy as luxury for guilt driven middle class liberals, who have time for it, and the info from studying history and 'high' culture.

whereas the typical deer hunter for jesus, or underemployed thug hanging around dark streets looking menacing, they don't have these intellectual understandings, history is what happened last month, and politics is what happens behind whitehall or white house veils, and it don't care about them.

they are easily riled up into idiot fervor, just to belong, we have scads of them here in europe, fistpunching the air and telling their impressionable, equally under-educated younger brothers how hitler is misunderstood, how he wasn't nearly as bad as some make out, or in the usa south, cultivating a veneration for the military that's solidly, and sordidly interwoven with the barble, guns, apple pie and the flag.

many of these working class, good ole proles, or boys, show up for their social pact, they look decent, often attend church, fiscal conservatives not for understanding macro economics, but because they inherited thrift as a virtue from their ancestors, and distrusted economies instinctively that made las vegas style promises.

proles for years, farmers or factory workers, they never really trusted gubmint, yet the bubble was going all around them, and when they saw others tripling fortunes through 'creative finance', multiplying landscrapers, stripmalls, fluff'n'flipping on the never-never, why it was plumb irresistible, unless all they had was a union card and a job that a chinese could easily do.

but the wars... they thinned out the competition, and paid regular. without them, men would stay at home and learn macrame, become pussies, all testosteroned up, nowhere to go.

my grandpa taught me how on xmas day in the front lines WW1, the men fraternised, shared song, laughter and smokes with each other. i remember the strange feeling i got from that conversation, a mixture of wonder at how the kill-spell was broken for a day, and an even greater horror, that after that brief epiphany, they could be told to go back to business as usual the next.

something broke in my heart, the pain of knowing how much war had marked him, and grokking how easily the common man became pawn of forces to whom his life was a mere abstraction, a statistic. how destructive of humanity the established ways of thinking...

those who love and promote violence, directly, or worse by proxy, invite return of such one day. their philosophy of 'nothing is sacred but the holy freedom of the dollar' fits on the way up, but on the way down not so much, when it's their families in danger, caused by their insatiable compulsion to out-compete.

the giants struggle and the earth shakes, nothing can be done to quench their desire to own everyone, there's no escape but servitude, death, or put on the uniform. these cauterised know they've paid the price, there's even a strange honour in admitting the depth of the compromise. life has no worth, even one's own, so you suck it up, obey orders, and stop pretending you're special, that your life is worth more than your neighbours, go die like a man, take down some ragheads before you go.

or strap yourself into your work station, and let the matrix do its thing. credit default swaps, drone attacks, click, click...

peace isn't the absence of war, it's what you can do when you stop creating all the pain, and use that energy to further best practice right living, and yes that means seeing the cornsumer kulcha for what it is, what it has become, tawdry kitsch, all the more so when you know how under the glitter what a dehumanising, unecological merch-to-market moving bidness it all is. supply negative energy, demand/waste more positive energy to try and remake what should never have been broken.

truck florida oranges to california and vice versa. undermine democracy for the haitians, then drown them in false pity and IMF NGO's.

your son has to hope the switch still works when he needs his feelings back again. some manage to balance on that tightrope, some remain warmly human, their compartmentalisation hermetic, hatches firmly battened, demeanour relaxed, sleep like babes.

let's hope he's one of those.

thanks for this very personal, moving diary.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 08:50:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't wanna be critical, because I love what you've written and appreciate, I think, where it's coming from, but perhaps it's a bit too bleak, perhaps we're all too bleak. There are right-wing cretins, but my impression is there are relatively few (5 to 10% of us, maybe, at most) of the following in the U.S.:

many of these working class, good ole proles, or boys, show up for their social pact, they look decent, often attend church, fiscal conservatives not for understanding macro economics, but because they inherited thrift as a virtue from their ancestors, and distrusted economies instinctively that made las vegas style promises.

proles for years, farmers or factory workers, they never really trusted gubmint, yet the bubble was going all around them, and when they saw others tripling fortunes through 'creative finance', multiplying landscrapers, stripmalls, fluff'n'flipping on the never-never, why it was plumb irresistible, unless all they had was a union card and a job that a chinese could easily do.

but the wars... they thinned out the competition, and paid regular. without them, men would stay at home and learn macrame, become pussies, all testosteroned up, nowhere to go.

The (white, Christian) "proles for years" . . . A lot of such folks are going through cognitive dissonance now, and many have reached out irrationally in both the Palin and Obama direction. But I don't see blood lust in such folks, or raghead hate; fear, yeah, conformism, yeah. Most are worn out folks, many trying to survive paycheck to paycheck, or fearing they might soon be doing so; I bet most on a gut level finally 'get' that government of either big party ain't gonna do much for them, and the talking heads on the radio won't either. I view many of these people, including even Sarah Palin fans, as people who can be talked to and persuaded by leftists, if left politicians and activists are willing to respect, listen to and compromise with them. (But any compromise is unthinkable, of course ;->, so why listen to or respect such people?)

DailyHowler.com today -- SNARKERTAINMENT IS US! We were enraged by what Palin had said-until we clicked the link -- writes about knee-jerk progressive sneering at propped up symbols of the right, like Sarah Palin, even when, for example, she's saying progressive stuff about strong regulation of oil companies. That knee-jerkism to me is glaringly cultural -- rooted in upper-middle-class yuppie bonding through making fun of 'gauche', uncool Palin supporters (or something like that) -- and it's basically very counter-productively anti-left.

http://dailyhowler.com/dh062910.shtml

I suppose it's younger people, especially former military, that might surprise with fascist, gun-laden ideas in the near future (unless by some miracle this recession/depression doesn't become a very long one), and with the popularity of those ways of 'solving' what they think are our problems. That's where your scary parallels with Hitlerism and all that may be warranted.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 12:20:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for your thoughtful reply, fairleft.

fairleft:

But I don't see blood lust in such folks, or raghead hate; fear, yeah, conformism, yeah.

they're not born that way!

but the populist clarion call to blame someone else and project fury on 'the other' thrives on their insecure reaching for a phantom sense of manhood, and their contempt for those more educamated, those who can discuss abstract things.

they are encouraged to 'prove' their nuts are harder than their competition, whether it's furriners or neighbours, and the chip on their shoulders is mighty and weighs heavy on them.

they feel gypped by smooth talking pols and betrayed by their own willingness to go along with the myth.

i agree that the teabaggers' concerns are not fundamentally that different than progressives', and if obama weren't cinnamon, or if he chimed with the working class better, his desire to unite the poles might work.

but because they're uneducated, the t-b's are all so easy to rechannel, so they rail against government, big biz and liberals, gays, immigrants, dems etc.

the religious right has a lot to answer for in this respect, but that vein has been around for ever.

it's tribalism at its most parochial, and into the vacuum of low- or dis-info pour the old atavistic attitudes. kill or be killed, grab and run. cheat the next guy before he cheats you...

teachers should be paid like bankers, that'd sort it out in a couple generations.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 06:10:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with most of what you say. But, I don't see the severe tribalism except among the Christian right. One reason I don't think it's there is that, like Geezer in Paris (or a different geezer?) says, Americans are very socially isolated, outside of our churches.

The thing that ties the right together is the right-wing TV and radio networks; people sitting in their living rooms watching Bill O'Reilly or Glen Beck, or just having them on in the background, or listening to some right winger talk show guy.

But I bet more people -- well, more guys -- listen to sports radio than to right-wing radio here in Chicago. Where's LEBRON going!? It seems to me the vast majority of us, including on 'the right', are turned off by and just escaping from the political bullshit. That's where I think you might be off, that there are 30-40% of Americans actually interested enough in our obviously sold-out politics to be fanboys and fangirls of people like Palin or worse. Yeah, 10% mebbe, and they're mostly just obediently frothing automotons of right-wing Christian churches.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 12:49:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
fairleft:
that there are 30-40% of Americans actually interested enough in our obviously sold-out politics

i think unfolding realities will sharply affect this ratio...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 02:05:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the policymakers force this long-term recession/depression on us, then I hope so, but I also hope the new interest in politics breaks left instead of right.

The right wing looked pretty damn dominant in the 1920s in the states, including controlling the mass media, lots of police brutality, and preventing pretty much any unions from forming, and then the left came on strong the very next decade.

fairleft

by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 04:47:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
me too, and i do believe it will, but we haven't hit bottom yet, have we?

not even close, really.

america has only one notch further right to go anyway.

and about a gazillion reasons for the left to prevail, common sense being the prime one. just a paroxysm away...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 05:50:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup, it looks like a long slow slide down rather than a crash. A 1929-style crash definitely would wake a lot of people up (and bring them together), especially to the still good idea of working class solidarity.

fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 07:03:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Melo,
As always you drift toward the heart of the issues.
Education- real education- won't help.
We tried that, and the natives got out of hand fast, so we gave it up.

We've redefined "Education"- rebranded it?- as the process of collecting together the mental equipment necessary to win the war against--everyone. Near-total social atomization as a base for defining "society".
My oft-repeated reference to a crap detector, and any other reference toward problem solving or world- comprehension no longer apply, except to a radically narrowed slice of the learning population.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jul 1st, 2010 at 12:24:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
geezer in Paris:
Near-total social atomization

that's the sickness of soul that millman describes so poignantly.

other societies haven't managed that feat so thoroughly...yet.

but the chinese, islamic, russian models are not-too-dissimilar atomisations too. it has globalised, world elites agree with each other much more than they agree with their fellow citizens. it's just the us media has been honing its craft for longer, with more special FX.

smeared with the jelly of fea-righteousness, the dirty deed is done, whom will jesus/obama bomb today? who will be the lucky recipients of democracy in action?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Jul 1st, 2010 at 05:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some impressions and random thoughts:

  1. It's funny how girls grow up playing entirely different (and generally non-violent) video games than boys do, and women do hold up half the sky and all that.

  2. Thinking back on the civil rights and antiwar movements, in a similarly de-intellectualized and infantile U.S. culture, a helluva lot of those activist kids were Jewish, from leftist intellectual families, and maybe most important were from big cities. There's a physical disconnect of modern youth in suburbia from the 'under class' that wasn't there among the 60s activists. Easier to merge wholly into that feeling that 'these are not my people,' and disconnect from caring accordingly. (One of the flaws of that activist class as it grew older (and of those who follow today in its intellectual footsteps), I think, was how disconnected it was from non-urban, non-underclass, 'white' America, but that's another far-afield topic.)

  3. The thing about playing violent video games (created by the U.S. Army!), and developing that switch: it's not the fact of playing but the huge number of hours doing so. I analogize to the soul-and-reality deadening effect of watching 6-7 hours of TV a day: it's not 'TV' itself, it's that you've become your TV by watching that much.

  4. In a way, we're fighting the last war: the next U.S. revolution -- tattered, disorganized, and unsuccessful though it may be -- won't come from upper-middle-class and so on college students allied in some way with the urban underclass. It'll probably be led by smart boys too poor to go to college who've played a helluva lot of those extremely violent (but free to download, sponsored by the U.S. Army!) video games.


fairleft
by fairleft (fairleftatyahoodotcom) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 01:09:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While I share your horror and frustration at America's current role in the world, I have to say I think these emotions are keeping you from realizing that there is nothing uniquely modern or American about it. The switch to which you refer is a very important survival skill, defense mechanism that most humans have and utilize. Even if your government is not perpetrating unfair wars, everyone is surrounded by day to day injustices, whether in the home, the community or on the tv, which we are limited in our capacity to change. The survival instinct is powerful and most people are too focused on trying to get through each day that taking on the status quo or those in power only becomes imperative once those things directly threaten your personal survival. Your son is not a psychopath. He's quite normal.

There really isn't much media coverage of the war itself in the US. It is very sanitized and out of site, out of mind.

I guess the reason your post annoys me is that in my own frustration and horror at what the American people support or tolerate, I feel I have gained significant insight into how the events in Europe in the 1st half of the 20th century were allowed to happen. And even less typical references to tyranny, like the Brezhnev era. Were all the citizens of Russia psychopaths for 70 years? No. Mostly they were just trying to lead normal lives.

It is what humans do. Outrage alone is not a solution.    

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Sun Jun 27th, 2010 at 08:53:19 PM EST
poemless:
While I share your horror and frustration at America's current role in the world, I have to say I think these emotions are keeping you from realizing that there is nothing uniquely modern or American about it.

fair and excellent point... i should have not been so geographically accusatory, especially when the whole predatory capitalism thingy has just as many or more roots in europe and points beyond.

as for being modern, well i believe that the pattern dynamics may be old, but the cut and presentation has updated and modded itself to better fit todays' disaffected, who maybe thanks to better world coverage, can see and indentify with similarly disaffected people everywhere else.

and here we come back full circle... american media doesn't really report on what's happening outside the miniverse it purports to serve.

so it's easier to demonise the 'other' when you never shook his hand, or sat and talked with him/her.

every step brainwashing young people into this mentality creates a more nastily complex set of problems to unravel later on, at great social cost.

thanks poemless, for the reminder. they way i was going on, you'd think the usa invented thuggery and low-grade brain use, lol.


'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jun 30th, 2010 at 06:19:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Its safe to allow people to be employed in small business, because small business can be herded in whichever direction the lay of the commercial terrain dictates - and transnational corporations dictate the lay of the commercial terrain.

Employment at big business, on the other hand, intrinsically involves allowing the enemy inside the gates.


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 Jun 28th, 2010 at 01:59:07 AM EST
Interesting.
"Employment at big business, on the other hand, intrinsically involves allowing the enemy inside the gates."

You don't see compartmentalization as an obvious solution to the problem, --or are we only talking about the policy makers and managers?


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 02:59:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Part of the growth of the small business sector is compartmentalization - the spinning off of labor contracting firms as employers with the large business hiring the work of the employees of the small businesses.


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 Jun 28th, 2010 at 11:11:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All pairs of strategies sum to less than zero.  

On average--which is a big caveat, of course--to play is to lose.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 03:49:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Picky, picky.

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 Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 07:46:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a cute figure, but why isn't it normalised to the number of people employed in the different sorts of business?

The Danish experience from the business cycle starting with the dotcom crash has been that low-level employees and the self-employed take the biggest hit (and their employment seems to not recover before the next crash), while mid- and top-level employees seem to do fine. Top management took a hit, but rebounded to their previous levels.

NB: I'm not quite finished crunching the numbers, so these conclusions should be considered provisional - I can have a figure up when I come home, but right now I have to go.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 06:14:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
re: why isn't it normalised to the number of people employed in the different sorts of business?

The granularity you might expect of firm characteristics is no longer supported by either Census or ADP methodologies. Firm-size less than 1000 employees used to be divided into nine classes.

"sorts of business"-- BLS stopped reporting firm census and (un)employment by firm size class  several years ago. I've not monitored since how the US reports to OECD, whose economists used to attempt to harmonize classification.

I suspect the policy is governed by political expedience; authorities prefer to cater to a corporate constituency employing 1,000+ persons rather than SMBs --1-999 employees. Large firms --1,000+ employees-- were 0.2% of total firm pop in 2005 and employed 37% of workforce. pdf . I hope we can agree, it is safe to assume that in the US large firm shares have not changed significantly.

"sorts of business"-- Industry coding varies across OECD. BLS did not fully implement NAICS until 2004, iirc, including reclassification of all firms by NAICS characteristics.

Also I don't know of any organization that classifies the US labor force by according to a scale of supervisory or non-exempt status, e.g. "low-level," "mid-level," "top-level" classes. BLS does estimate average wage and hours per week, over all, and average earnings by employee function (Occupational Outlook handbook) which doesn't necessarily correspond to NAICS parameters.

I read the trend above strictly to represent ADP client population. Business reporters often cite ADP statistics in advance of BLS releases as if the estimates were comparable.

ADP is a private company. It processes payroll tax reporting and disbursements for 570,000 corporate clients of any size, including one. 570,000 is also about 100x the BLS sample for either HH or establishment surveys in any given month.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 09:24:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 09:27:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Note what makes the figure so striking ~ that the small business employment growth is greater in the period preceding the recession and the employment decline is smaller.

If its just a matter of the small business sector being a smaller employer explaining the smaller decline, that doesn't explain the larger growth, and if it is just a matter of the small business sector being a larger employer explaining the larger growth earlier, that doesn't explain the smaller decline.


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 Jun 28th, 2010 at 11:09:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Colleagues of mine in Southern California, who work in organizing among communities of color and the poor, have been conducting an interesting set of social values research since about 2007. Among their insights is that acceptance of violence as a legitimate tool to resolve disputes has risen significantly even over the last 3 years.

My own experience is that many young people in the US would prefer a different way to live, along the lines of what MillMan is describing, but lack the knowledge of how to make it happen - and certainly lack the financial resources and other social organizing tools that would be required.

Older generations appear to have either given up on the hope of a better future, or have decided to tenaciously defend the status quo. When combined with a political and economic system designed to deny power and independent action to the non-elite, this makes for conditions that are ripe for switching off. Perhaps that is the thing underlying the similarity to early 20th century Europe that poemless described above.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Mon Jun 28th, 2010 at 02:20:18 PM EST
Would like to know more about their work
.My own experience is that many young people in the US would prefer a different way to live, along the lines of what MillMan is describing, but lack the knowledge of how to make it happen - and certainly lack the financial resources and other social organizing tools that would be required.

Yes. That is, of course, what the Whole Earth catalog was all about. Tools, both physical and mental.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jul 1st, 2010 at 12:39:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting. The last time I heard about 'the Switch', it was a Vietnam veteran and former POV describing how some people managed to stay sane in captivity while others didn't.
by Number 6 on Tue Jun 29th, 2010 at 08:17:15 AM EST
Yes. Good comparison. I too am familiar with that story.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jul 1st, 2010 at 12:35:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the recurring questions in this diary has been the relationship between "The Switch" and the draft- the need for lots of cannon fodder in what I see as what has become a warrior culture.

The long strategy we seem to have adopted has two phases:

  1. Destroy the existing society
  2. Build another one in our own image- thoroughly indoctrinated and atomized, "Westernized".

Here's another piece of the puzzle.

Speaking at a town hall in Racine, Wisconsin, Obama called for sending a "civilian expeditionary force" to Afghanistan and Iraq to help overburdened military troops build infrastructure. His remarks were first reported by The Associated Press.

"So what I'm trying to say is, don't put all the burden on the military.  Make sure that we've got a civilian expeditionary force," said the president, adding that the civilian force would build schools, bridges and roads in regions cleared by the military as safe.

Obama last December renounced the possibility committing the US to a lengthy "nation-building" project. "I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests," he said in a speech at New York's West Point Academy.

Department of Defense Directive 1404.10, dated January 23, 2009, set up a "Civilian Expeditionary Workforce" that would "be organized, trained, cleared, equipped, and ready to deploy in support of combat operations by the military; contingencies; emergency operations; humanitarian missions; disaster relief; restoration of order; drug interdiction; and stability operations."
Story continues below...

Its intent would be "to maximize the use of the civilian workforce to allow military personnel to be fully utilized for operational requirements," according to a Defense Department statement reported by the American Forces Press Service.

In other words, the warriors will do the killing, and most of the dying (that's what they are good for) and the civilian support corps will do the logistics of support and "nation re- building". Note that it didn't take long at all for Obama to completely reverse course and embrace the need for "nation building". Note also-- the mission description is deeply military in it's descriptions-- "Expeditionary force", for God's sake.

So here's the other shoe:
A way to draw into the "war business" another segment of American society, with the advantage that even the favored, valued children of the lower elite can participate, (the death rate will be low enough) and the narratives about humanitarian endeavors and patriotic duty will seem believable. Consider: if even half of the support duties can be "outsourced" to civillians, and the total number of troops remains the same, it's equivalent to a HUGE increase in fighting strength. Like, doubled.

It's a new Peace Corps- Pax Americana, with the emphasis on corpses.


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Jul 1st, 2010 at 01:47:59 AM EST
The long strategy we seem to have adopted has two phases:

   1. Destroy the existing society
   2. Build another one in our own image- thoroughly indoctrinated and atomized, "Westernized".


Market based economies have always destroyed traditional cultures, not immediately on contact, but steadily and surely. Perhaps a better dichotomy would be between traditional and modern societies. Markets turn traditional societies into modern societies, some of the characteristics of which are atomization, isolation and commodification.  Polanyi's The Great Transformation is the foundational analysis here.

The US frontier before 1900 was a sort of polyglot traditional society, or collection of societies, but as the frontier was followed by efficient transportation those societies were transformed into market societies. Charles Sellers describes well how this process unfolded in the USA over the 19th Century in The Market Revolution. The transformation occurred first in the U.K. and is what Wordsworth was lamenting in his poem  "The World Is Too Much With Us":

         THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
          Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
          Little we see in Nature that is ours;
          We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
          The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
          The winds that will be howling at all hours,
          And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
          For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
          It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
          A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;                         10
          So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
          Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
          Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
          Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
                                                              1806.

Near the cusp of the change from traditional to modern societies in Western Europe Wordsworth clearly saw some of the major downsides of the coming change. But all of this was usually taught as "progress", at least into the 1960s.

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

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jul 1st, 2010 at 11:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ARGeezer, I can't buy into this one.

First,
One of the advantages of having chosen to leave academia before the pattern was finally set is that it's perhaps easier to see that many of the convenient definitions, European as well as American, we use to describe things social really are dangerous to the truth. They are filters rather than descriptors.
The more years I spend outside the US the more obvious this becomes.

 They seem to stem from a need to remain divorced from the world of people living lives. They function as walls instead of windows. Since it became fashionable to see society and life as machine-like, obeying immutable laws and relationships, we've failed spectacularly to understand most of human existence. "Social Scientists" have spent a century at least searching for reductionist cookie molds into which to stuff the lives of those with whom they had no real contact and about whom they had little understanding.

Social Skinner Boxes.

 Put another way, I understand what you mean when you say "Market Based" economies" But I think such labels obfuscate instead of illuminate, and "Traditional Cultures" is--pretty incredible.
If I had to name one thing that seems to me to epitomize American academic and social thinking, it would be our immense stack of labeled boxes- into which we put our brains. And close, and lock.
I apologise for what may seem as an attack, but I am taken honestly aback.

Second,
My point had to do with a brilliant but deeply dangerous device emerging from the Obama administration- a way to replace the draft and manage a huge increase in effective troop strength without seeming to do so, and mobilize more American cannon fodder by playing to the cultural myths  about "America the defender of the oppressed, the bringer of progress", and neutering negative press coverage all in one swell foop.

A true perversion of Sargent Shriver's sweet but culture-centric child.

Who could fault American youth for wanting to rescue people from the stagnation and degradation of their "Traditional Cultures"?
And simultaneously enable a gigantic effective increase in warrior strength?

That said, Thanks for the poem.
I have fond memories of my mother reciting Wordsworth to me as a child, and this one in particular. Wistful, romantic, my mom very much.

Here's mine humble offering, from the time of morning:

1

AWAKE ! for Morning in the Bowl of Night

Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:

And Lo ! the Hunter of the East has caught

The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

And from the time of mourning:

27

Myself when young did eagerly frequent

Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument

About it and about: but evermore

Came out by the same Door as in I went.  

And, for those who think survival is to not have to feel for others,
here's one from an old Persion,(That's Iran, whose demise may well be on our strategic horizon): a vision that will outlive all of them:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

    Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

    Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

 

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Jul 2nd, 2010 at 01:36:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you have not already done so, and if, like me, you are occasionally up for visiting or revisiting an earlier work I would suggest reading The Great Transformation - The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time. I would like to do the same at some point.

I beg your pardon if you were taken aback by my brief characterization, or caricature, of Polanyi's thought. I did not even attempt to do him justice. With the rise of Hitler he fled from Continental Europe to England, where he did the research that provided the basis for The Great Transformation. He moved to Bennington in Vermont in 1940, where he did the writing and later lived in Canada, because of his wife's former membership in The Communist Party, while commuting to Columbia University.  He was clearly influential but never one of the Serious PeopleTM as his Wiki biography shows under LEGACY:

Polanyi is remembered today as the originator of substantivism, a cultural approach to economics, which emphasized the way economies are embedded in society and culture. This worked against mainstream economics but was popular in anthropology, economic sociology and political science. Polanyi's approach to the ancient economies has been applied to a variety of cases, such as Pre-Columbian America and ancient Mesopotamia, although some scholars have denied its utility to the ancient societies in general[2]

His book The Great Transformation also became a model for historical sociology. His theories eventually became the foundation for the economic democracy movement. His daughter Kari Polanyi-Levitt is Emerita Professor of Economics at McGill University, Montreal.

When I read The Great Transformation suddenly whole areas of the history I had studied fell into a meaningful whole. Meanwhile, from Wiki

First published in 1944, it deals with the social and political upheavals that took place in England during the rise of the market economy. Polanyi contends that the modern market economy and the modern nation-state should be understood not as discrete elements, but as the single human invention he calls the Market Society.

Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inexorably linked in history. His reasoning for this was that the powerful modern state was needed to push changes in social structure that allowed for a competitive capitalist economy, and that a capitalist economy required a strong state to mitigate its harsher effects. For Polanyi, these changes implied the destruction of the basic social order that had existed throughout all earlier history, which is why he emphasized the greatness of the transformation.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jul 2nd, 2010 at 05:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have not read it. An old college professor of mine, Phillip Bosserman, suggested it to me a long time ago, but I never got around to it.
It sounds like something I'd like, and profit from.
God, if there were just time.

My last review of that event series and historical time period came from a book called "The Many-Headed Hydra" by Markus Rediker and Peter Linebaugh.
In the same category as "A people's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn, it's more diverse in it's references, less limited geographically.

I'll read Polyani if you'll read Rediker and Linebaugh.

 It's 20 years of work, and a powerful and informative point of view.


Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 at 12:25:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I will order both Polanyi and your recommendation, along with Bernays' Propaganda, which I have been intending to read. I will say that Polanyi is a good read. One of my favorite passages refers to the inapplicability of economics, (classical formulation) in 19th century USA. He notes that economics has been described as the science of the allocation of scarce resources to various competing ends. He then notes that in the 19th century USA there was free land, via The Homestead Act, free labor, via unlimited emigration and free money, via minting of coin from gold and silver. Pretty funny.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jul 3rd, 2010 at 12:53:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeh.
Read Edward Bernays long years ago, and it was one of the early sources of my growing awareness of and doubts about a consumer culture as a habitable psychological environment.

I was fortunate enough to take a course in mass communication at Ohio State under a prof who put Bernays on the required reading list.
He was, in an earlier life, in charge of advertising for one of the largest and most powerful radio-TV stations in Cincinnati, called WLW, the Nation Station. For some reason he turned on his fellow associates in propaganda and spin. He brought us lots of early video ads kinescoped onto 16mm film, and showed them to the class, and taught us exactly the logical process whereby they were created, such as the list of fears and prejudices that were most effective in marketing, and how they were used. He was instrumental in the creation of a lot of young people who had sharply honed crap detectors. Can't remember his name, but his gift to me has not been forgotten.

They fired him, in the common coward's way, by putting him in a teaching assignment with no students and no classroom, etc. Needless to say, his old profession was-- unwelcoming on his return.
An unsung hero.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Tue Jul 6th, 2010 at 11:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My son had a sociology prof for an intro course that taught his students to critique films, etc. as to whether they portrayed a liberal or a conservative point of view. That was in southern California.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Jul 7th, 2010 at 12:05:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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