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    Post Truth In A Dystopian Present

    We are in a time when things are so insane that there is a background refrain of "you can't make this stuff up." Unfortunately, at least two authors have. One is so well known that there are periods (like now) when his name-cum-description is frequently invoked: "Orwellian." The other is Max Barry, who is the author of Jennifer Government - a world where you are born into a corporation or government, and assume your positions at the appropriate time. It is the ideal of the corporatist state on a global scale.1 For me, there is an eerie echo of it as I watch businessman Trump, with zero knowledge (or interest) in the functions nor purpose of government, ride roughshod over the Constitution as he reshapes it to his comfort level.



    'Emperor Trump's Clothes' by Steve Sack, Minneapolis Star Tribune. Reproduced with license permission.

     

    It is clear Trump feels he has completed a hostile takeover of an unruly adversary. It is also increasingly clear he feels that all those both inside government, as well as the country as a whole, owes him not just loyalty, but fealty. One should not question his actions or decisions much less openly challenge him, for he sees this as tantamount to treason - now in the legal sense as well as the emotional sense. All one needs to do is to look at two examples that seemingly happened within 24 hours of each other. First was the 'dissent memo' regarding his Executive Order on banning refugees and immigrants, signed by a reported 1,000 diplomats from the State Department, and the other was the refusal of the Deputy Attorney General/Acting Attorney General to defend the same ban.

    Sean Spicer's, Trump's Press Secretary, message for the dissenting diplomats, was:

    “Either get with the program or they can go.”

    "This is about the safety of America, and there’s a reason that a majority of Americans agree with the president,” Spicer said. “They should understand it’s his number one priority.” (Salon)

    This is a complete violation of the State Department's formal policy regarding dissent memos which is that there can be no retribution against State Department personnel who enter and sign a dissent memo. These memos go directly to the top and are required to be addressed. Personnel must sign their name. Therefore, threatening these personnel is in clear violation of formal guarantees. However, it also speaks directly to the nature of leadership Trump provides. Neither he, nor his staff, concern themselves with the rules and policies, or law for that matter. The initial response is not to consider the issues being raised, nor why highly experienced personnel would object. The response is fast, vindictive, coercive and personal. There is no separation between policy and person, for Trump sees his policies and decisions as direct extensions of himself. Therefore any disagreement or resistance is a personal affront to him - the supreme ruler.

    In the case of the Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, statement that she (and the Department of Justice) would not support Trump's ban on immigration until she was convinced that it was legal, she was fired outright, and immediately. Then she was publicly attacked by Sean Spicer:

    Two minutes later, the White House officials lashed out at Ms. Yates in a statement issued by Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary.

    “Ms. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration,” the statement said. (NY Times)

    This was then followed by the inevitable twitter attack by Trump himself. Apparently attacks by flunkies being inadequate to quench his ire:

    The Democrats are delaying my cabinet picks for purely political reasons. They have nothing going but to obstruct. Now have an Obama A.G.

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 31, 2017

    <script>

    Trump takes it all personally because there is no separation between him and anything he sees as "his". For some time, Trump has been characterized as 'thin skinned." I heard someone say, 'he is not thin skinned, he is no skinned.' This is a much better characterization. Like an infant, Trump sees no separation between himself and the world, or at least the world he embraces. He believes that he controls everything with this world, and he regularly rearranges reality to fit his needs of the moment. This is what many are referring to as "Trumpland."

    Trump is not a particularly successful businessman. He was not the head of a corporation. Instead, he was in charge of a FAMILY business - making him not just the CEO/president of Trump Industries and its subsidiaries, but the Patriarch of the family. Therefore, there is a crossover between his business and his family. Those working for him are little more than serfs and owe him their lives - in his worldview.

    This is a man who by nature, as well as by his insulation within the economic elite, is a wrecking ball. His orders are law and he crashes through his life. He pays people to clean up his messes, and if they are not sycophants they do not last long in his "organization," they re-spin disaster in the most positive light. Now his sphere of influence is the United States and all of its governmental resources (every last frightening component thereof). His minions surround him and if they don't maintain the boundaries of his fantasy  land, they are either out, under personal attack, or both.

    Enter 'Post-Truth", or the Infrastructure of Trumpland

    Now that we are 'officially' living in the world of "post-truth2," we need to decide if we will let that stand, or if it does, how it will shape and populate our future. Is there a difference really between post-truth and un-truth? The reality is that emotion has always moved people faster than facts - unless those facts themselves elicit strong emotion. The question is how and why truth came to such an eroded state of affairs.

    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.” ― Robert A. Heinlein, Revolt in 2100/Methuselah's Children

    I believe that our arrival at this point is the result of an assault on the truth. It is the consequence of real actions by real people and the callous introduction of specific memes into the field of public consumption and discourse. There has been an outright war on facts and on the producers and finders of fact; namely on science and on education, on scientists and the educated, and on the institutions that produce and support both. I believe there has been a conspiracy to steal fact and truth to meet the unbridled avarice of the power elite (and a rapidly rising Christian Dominionist element - Pence, DeVos, and Erik Prince in the Trump inner circle) .

    A quick look at what is happening under Trump brings it from the world to the very structure of our government. From asking for the names of all scientists and staff involved in global warming (along with records of all work produced, conferences attended, etc), to selecting Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education when it has been her life's work to destroy public education. The implications of these changes at the very foundation of government are nightmarish.

    Some would argue that this is the path and reality of capitalism, but I think our current situation is more complex than this. It is a campaign that has been successful in some nations more than others and the United States most of all. This reflects a cultural interface, or a certain weakness in the American psycho-socio mindspace that was either accidentally or deliberately discovered and exploited. Specifically, certain industries found that their processes or products were dangerous to earth or its inhabitants, and if that were known they would be stopped. Therefore, more than the suppression of the truth, or even outright lies became necessary. In time the danger became so dire, or capitalist expediency so necessary, it brought brought them to the point that it was necessary to put the fact creators on the chopping block. This also required reaching out to the rule makers to destroy the institution that produced fact-finders - education. They have become so successful in this hideous campaign that the United States can no longer produce the workforce required for business and industry. Therefore, business must now import high skilled labor from elsewhere.

    While I have spoken in generalities above, if would point to specific industries as the primary culprits in this conspiracy that has robbed the nation of both its curiosity and of its rigor of intellect. These industries are the chemical industry, the tobacco industry, and the petroleum industry. The chemical industry covered up the harm caused to workers and consumers for decades, and largely escaped wide public scrutiny until Bill Moyers documentary, Trade Secrets. Likewise the tobacco industry denied the findings of independent scientists and doctors for years, producing their own "counter-research" to stand against the truth. Finally, the petroleum industry has lied and paid pet researchers in an array of fields to cover up a number of issues - from toxic waste to peak resources, to global warming. All of this has well conditioned the American people to almost literally lose history in the dust in the rear view mirror. However, there is a desperate price to pay for all the deception and misdirection, in that the heart of a nation is equally erasable. One could even argue that it was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the revolt of the scientists who created 'the bomb' which then required essentially the reprogramming of an entire nation into believing the unquestionable necessity of totally blowing away two highly populated cities. I strongly recommend reading Henry A. Giroux's essay "The Responsibility of Intellectuals in the Shadow of the Atomic Plague..." in his book Dangerous Thinking in the Age of Authoritarianism.

    What was learned was that an uncritical public, and particularly a public lacking the skills to think critically, was much easier to manipulate along an array of life critical issues - be that as citizens, consumers, community, or even individual identity. "It's all a matter of opinion" has become a mantra. We have arrived at the point where the person who fills the presidency as of 12:01 on January 20th, 2017, is either a compulsive, pathological liar, or simply lives in a stream of consciousness world where truth and reality are as pliable as  shape memory polymers.

    The problem is that sooner or later reality does come home to roost. People either come to realize that the world is falling around them, or they go down in the flames of ignorance, desperately clasping lies to their breasts even in the face of a totally contracting reality.

    However, in the American socio-scape, the recrafting of history and reality precedes the development of industry. It essentially goes back to the remaking of the early history of the United States when it became, shall we say, unseemly, to bloodily and gleefully celebrate the brutal decimation of the indigenous peoples, and the capture and punishment of slaves seeking freedom. So multiple times over our history, literally, the books have been rewritten, and education tasked with creating a new nation to inspire the patriotism of children and of adult immigrants seeking citizenship. The rest follow, and stories, songs, and repetition takes care of most issues. If there are problems and people raise the specter of truth, they are accused of rewriting history (in select circles 'revisionist' history). Since authority is laying the claim, it is difficult for truth tellers to gain traction.

    We have arrived at a point where failure of social institutions has become not a self-fulfilling prophecy, rather the hollowing of those institutions has weakened them beyond the point they can continue to stand.  As they fail, those who have crafted this destruction point and say "this proves we were right all along." There is a negative immediacy that brings a growing since of dread to most people's daily lives.

    Welcome to the Dystopian Present.

    This issue of negative immediacy is a sad truth when trying to get people to realize the critical nature of the problems facing us - from infrastructure failure, to resource depletion, to global warming, and on. All these things are f a c t - not simply "a matter of opinion."

    Whether the people, or politicians, want to deal with it or not, there are hard core realities that don't change regardless of how you want to paint it. For example, there are capitalists who say that global warming will be great for commerce because it opens a sea lane over the (north) pole, and this would radically shorten transport times. The reality is "in what economy?" The same warming that removes the (inconvenient) polar ice also dramatically raises the sea level, thereby inundating many of the major cities and ports around the world.

    We can allow ourselves to be dazzled or distracted. We can fight to live inside of a dreamscape. but every dreamscape is a redrawing of an actual lifescape. When we are living with someone like Trump who has spent his life free floating in a deluded reality, but whose reach now embraces the planet, it is time and beyond that we must wake up, and take action to save ourselves and our planet.

    When it comes to lasting analogies of dystopian futures, we may find that it beyond Orwellian that a Max 'Barryian' present has dropped like a rock on the White House steps.

    ---

    1 Less known than "Orwellian" is a newer author whose vision eerily predicts the current trends. That author is Max Barry, and his book "Jennifer Government." This is a book that is set in the not so distant future where corporations rule the world. Everyone is linked into the world via corporations. So you have folks like Max IBM and Susan Toyota (made up and not actual characters). A government still exists to perform various mundane tasks. People are born into the corporation and live within their functions (jobs) of the corporation. However, as today, corporations do not necessarily play well together and the competition for dominance can be deadly.

    2 Post-truth - "Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief" (Oxford Dictionary).

    "Post-truth politics (also called post-factual politics) is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of truth by rendering it of "secondary" importance." (Wikipedia)

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    Comments

    Bravo!


    "Big" anything is a problem.

    It's possible ,but not likely, for a small company to behave well. Compensate its workers, honor its commitments,  make a product which is save to use and not harmful to the environment. 

    Not true of large corporations. The rewards for success are so irresistable  that there is no such thing as a good company. The top managers of every company will act not just illegally but immorally : the tobacco industry;  Exxon which fully understands global warming but lies about it.

     The abyss calls out to the abyss and the existence of large , and therefore immoral, corporations requires the existence of large governments to control them. Fifty years ago Galbraith called this "Counterveiling powers".  But even though they are primarily motivated by self interest the Conservatives are not altogether wrong in warning of the dangers of Government overreach.  The more removed the bureaucrat is from the citizens to whom he is issuing directives the more chance of his promulgating bloody minded directives that serve very little purpose other than enhancing his self esteem.

    Wear your underwear on top of your suit!

    That said,sadly there's no choice. Capitalism works.It creates value. Socialism's been tried.It doesn't.

    So we're stuck with the need to live with Capitalism and therefore with a powerful enough government to make the capitalists work  for us rather than  themselves. . Which means - the Founding Fathers got that right,   we are dependent upon some sort of Constitution to protect us from the inevitable day when ,as bound to happen,  the President is a Trump instead of an Obama.

    Doesn't mean the "originalists" are right. They're not.  It's a quaint concept that a bunch of bewigged slave owners in Philadelphia 230 years ago were capable of telling Steve Jobs how to run Apple. But that's getting too far from topic so I'll stop here.

      

     


    " That said,sadly there's no choice. Capitalism works.It creates value. Socialism's been tried.It doesn't. "

    At one point in history, even the history of the US, the economy was just one of the institutions/structures of our lives. Then there was a shifting of forces and it increasingly has occupied virtually every corner of our society and our psyche. Because of the, and because of the drumbeat of economics, it has even become the metric by which we evaluate that which should NEVER have an economic valuation; things like family, community, life...

    Capitalism is an economic system. It can operate under an array of political system, Socialism is a political system that among other things, addresses the economy by reserving part of production and exchanges as critical to social fabric and therefore within the control of the government.

    We could well argue that capitalism has been tried and failed. Look at the concentration of wealth - both in the US and globally. Right now, 62 people control as much wealth as the lowest 50% of the GLOBAL population, 62 people. That is insane.

    Capitalism operates in an environment of endless growth (and endless exploitation), We do not live in an unlimited environment. We live in a closed system and capitalism has run us to the virtual limits of life on this planet. Every ecosystem is in decline, if not collapse. The oceans are failing and when they become dead sea, so is all life on this planet.

    Capitalism creates "value" by commodification. It has gone from the macro level of things created, down through living systems, and now (literally) the genetic material of life on earth - including us. Is it really appropriate for others to own and trade our genetic material? For me, this is beyond the pale. If we do not even control the stuff of which we are made (and we are moving in this direction) then we control nothing at all.

    All of this is on capitalism which was not even the main point of my essay. ;~)


    Right, of course the problems posed by capitalism wasn't the main point of your essay.

     Sorry.

    I feel guilty about hi-jacking your impressive essay, Even now   I found myself automatically going on with more of the same but I've deleted it and I'll get out of the way of those who rightly want to respond to your basic thrust.

    Cheers.

     

     

     


    Flavius and barefooted, I appreciate your courtesy. Discussion of capitalism and socialism is hardly out of bounds as I raised it as one of the forces shaping the rewriting of our social memory and lives. I had chosen to follow the path of the control of the cultural consciousness. I did not mean to exclude or shut down the discussion. I was just sharing that it was not my intended point. However, I am the one that put it in the original article. I would love to see you all loop this back around to the construction of reality. I am fascinated to see what you do with that!


    As a caveat, I would like it *not* to devolve into the familiar "tastes great"/"less filling" back-and-forths on known topics, and that we push ourselves to find some new insight to discuss.


    "Capitalism works. It creates value. Socialism's been tried. It doesn't."  There are many examples of successful socialism in the United States - the Post Office, Medicare, and the US Park Service are three.  Likewise, there are many examples of unsuccessful capitalism.  The U.S. in 1929 and 2008 are two.


    The examples of "successful socialism" you name are parts, not the whole, and they are in ever-expanding crisis.

     


    You make two arguments in opposition to my first point and ignore my second.

    1) You claim that the programs I describe are merely "parts" of the whole not the whole.  The parts comprise the whole.  If the whole includes socialist parts than it is not wholly capitalist.

    2) You claim that the programs are in "ever-expanding crisis."  To the extent any of the three - USPS, Medicare, and the Park Service - are in crisis, it's because of budget cuts and the refusal of Republicans and some Democrats to fund them appropriately not because they are intrinsically doomed to fail.

    3) You ignore the point that there are examples of failed capitalism.


    I'll follow Flavius' example and not further help to "hijack" this thread.  My apologies to librewolf.


    Many of us are already convinced of the danger represented by Trump. Many of us will search out your book references. The problem that we face is a number of citizens will fall into lockstep with Trump. Facts don't matter. They will never read a book, following the lead of Trump. We are Trump's enemies. His supporters dismiss our observations. The real question is whether we can prevent a new Civil War.


    "The problem that we face is a number of citizens will fall into lockstep with Trump. Facts don't matter."  We agree rmrd more often than you may think.  The questions your accurate analysis beg in my view are: 1) Can we reach these citizens without compromising our core values?  If so, how?  2) Do any facts matter to these citizens?  Which ones?  I think you can guess my answers.


    First they came for the Muslims and I said nothing because I wasn't Muslim

    Then they came for the Latinos and I said nothing because I wasn't Latino

    Next they came for the Gays and I said nothing because I wasn't Gay.

    When they came for blacks, there was no one to speak up for me 

    Trump supporters stood mostly  in silence with some applauding each round up.

     

    In a previous post I noted three articles pointing out the glee Trump supporters are experiencing.

    Trump is applauding rule-breaking used to get Sessions out of committee. Look forward to Stop and a Frisk on steroids and the absence of oversight of police abuse. This will be aided by the SCOTUS nominee.

    Trump supporters love Sessions and the Supreme Court nominee. They are not open to change.

     


    So you don't believe there's any hope for change or a better world?  More specifically, to be clear, you reject the notion that you could find common ground on any issues with any Trump voters? 


    The bigger picture is that Trump voters wish for my demise. Working with them on infrastructure  comes with the reality that they would support militarization of police forces and the deaths of unarmed black people. They would be working to minimize the numbers of jobs available to blacks. Trump, Bannon , and Sessions are white supremacists. Life will not be good with them in charge. The light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming high speed rail train.


    We are post-truth. I don't see Trump supporters changing their beliefs. Blacks live in carnage. All Muslims are terrorists. There are alternate facts. WH officials won't appear on CNN. I don't see how to correct things when we are post truth.


    It's called persuasion. Progressives used to be good at it. Not so much anymore, especially with the attitude that no one who voted for Trump could ever see things differently. That's why we lose.


    The persuasion that needs to happen is to appeal to those who voted for Stein and Johnson. The activists at the Women's March, the airports, and who show up at Democratic legislator's homes seem to be forcing Congressional Democrats to function as the loyal opposition rather than as rubber stamps. If Democrats show more backbone, we may enlarge the number of people who show up at the polls.People who are willing to back Sessions, Bannon, etc.are a lost cause. Those folks are not persuaded by facts.


    Democrats did not become the smallest minority since the 1920s because of Stein and Johnson. They did not lose blue states like Pennsylvania because of Stein and Johnson. They lost the White House and the Senate and Congress and the state houses because a lot of people who used to be Democrats have become or are becoming Republicans. Those voters changed their allegiances because conservatives believe in persuasion and have become very good at it--much better than progressives.

    It's not just about facts. You don't convince people by throwing facts in their face. You tell them a story that makes sense and is meaningful to them--the way progressives used to do, the way conservatives do now. You speak to their minds but also to their hearts. All the great persuaders of American history--Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, MLK--understood this. 

    But if you start with the conviction that people who disagree with you will never change their minds, then you are destined to fail. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy.


    We disagree on where the persuasion should be addressed. Democratic turnout was down because Democrats were perceived as having no backbone. We agree that focusing on turnout is important.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-democrats-real-tur...

    2018 is critical. One meme that will not help, especially with minority voters, is that identity politics should be abandoned. Another meme is tolerate the guy who calls you a n*gger. Both those message will decrease turnout for minority voters. 

    Once again I'm going to point out, that when people show up at the polls, only one group has a majority buying the Republican message.

     


    Turnout is a short-term electoral strategy, not a long-term strategy for creating social change. MLK did not change American attitudes about race by get-out-the-vote campaigns. He helped people understand why racism is wrong. Before the legislative victories of the civil rights voting rights acts, he and other activists had to convince the majority of Americans that we needed the legislation.


    King influenced Lyndon Baines Johnson. Johnson pressured Congress to pass laws that forced people to allow blacks to vote, be considered for employment, and have fair access to housing. Democrats lost the South after the Civil Rights Acts passed. Nixon ran on Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy and Ronald Reagan began  his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi. A significant percentage of the country was not happy.

    To be honest, there was a steady exodus of whites from the Democratic Party as the party became more friendly to blacks, The Civil Rights bills gave people an excuse to flee.

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/11/why-did-democrats-lose-whi...


    King did not only influence LBJ. He influenced people across the country, around the world. His words still influence people.

    Do you think that every white person who was racist in 1950 remained that way their entire lives? Many did, of course, especially the old. But many others changed. Most people came to understand that racism was wrong. They were persuaded.


    The Democratic base in the South was destroyed. Democrats picked up rational whites. Democrats have never had the majority of white voters since LBJ. My argument is that we have a viable pool of whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, etc. to win. White Trump supporters are happy with his action. The whites in the base of the Democratic Party are not happy. Whites who supported Stein and Johnson are not happy with Trump. It is much more logical to go after Stein and Johnson votes as well as voters who tend to stay home than it is to chase racist whites.


    The persuasion that you describe is different than I remember.  Both of my parents used the "n" word occasionally, usually as a "joke."  My aunt had a maid (Mary) who had 9 children and they all lived in a shack on my aunt's property.  When my uncle became terminally ill, they gave their house to Mary and moved to Charlottesville so he could get treatment at UVA.  Each of Mary's children went to college with my aunt's help. My daughter went to Sweetbriar College, and I was delighted to see that one of Mary's daughters was an administrator there.  

    My father often referred to his black friends as "boys," but he also did that for some of his white contemporaries.  I honestly don't believe that he had any hatred for black people (I do however think he thought of them as inferior, which is yet another way to hate someone.  

    My father was the kind of republican who could have been persuaded.  I am not so certain that the current far-right GOPer could be anything except a bigoted asshole, but there may be some who want this country to survive.  

    We shall shall see.


    I gave the historical context simply to point out that Martin Luther King Jr. pushed for Civil Rights. Pushing for Civil Rights led to white voters in the South leaving the Democratic Party. Barry Goldwater allowed blacks to eat at his Arizona department store. When Goldwater ran for President. he supported State's Rights and had the support of white supremacists. I was using history to show that race caused whites to flee the Democratic Party. I think the same thing elevated Donald Trump. I don't think those whites are coming back to the Democrats. Trump supporters are not the only white people. Can people change? Yes, Robert Byrd was a Klan recruiter who changed and had a spectacular record on Civil Rights during his tenure in the Senate.

    Donald Trump is a white supremacist. He has Bannon and Sessions on his side. He embarrassed himself at his Black History Month photo-op. We now know the Trump hung up on the Australian Prime Minister and threatened to send troops to get the "Bad Hombres" in Mexico. Trump is mentally unhinged. Those who still support him are stupid or racist.

    If black voters had chosen Trump over Hillary, you had better believe that there would be a great deal of vitriol directed at black voters. Black voters would not be treated with the kid gloves being suggested for white Trump supporters. As examples, blacks got backlash when they supported Proposition 8 in California and when 20% of blacks in Ohio voted for George W Bush as a means of voting against a Democratic candidate who supported Gay marriage. Why the double standard? 


    I fully admit bias. I think that anyone who sides with Trump is stupid and/ or racist. Today, Trump had a meeting to acknowledge Black History Month. He invited his Blacks. It is unclear to me that Trump realizes that Frederick Douglass is dead.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/frederick-douglass-amazing-terrific-...


    Your comment here reminded of personal experience having to work with a lots of educated millenials as temp workers over the last few years, mostly college students in arts and humanities. They clearly look at things in general along the lines of the Postmodern philosophy definition of "narrative." They don't seem interested in simple facts, especially historical ones, unless they are woven into a narrative, don't seem to have much interest in individual facts outside of a narrative nor in keeping facts separated by historic eras or periods. And they also seem to disavow that such narratives are a problem, they see them as the way humans naturally think and should think. They have been educated to think this way.

    I know I'm not imagining this from personal experience only (though that would be my "narrative," hah,  because the hottest movement in the art & culture museum world is to present artifacts within a narrative rather than in a historic context.( One of the most popular speakers around on this revolution in looking at cultural history is curator Luke Syson of the Metropolitan Mus., his TED video on topic has had over as million views.This later lectuire is even more clarifying.)

    So working this way in politics is definitely the wave of the future. Until the current generation disavows their youth, I guess. wink


    I don't think we can blame this on the much-maligned millennials (and not just because postmodernism predates them by a generation). Narrative persuasion is older than the Bible. We may be more aware of how it works these days, but people have been using narrative very effectively for a long, long time--both for good and evil.

    My own view is that narrative is unavoidable. We're all constantly using stories to understand ourselves and our world, whether we realize it or not. The narrative is not in competition with the facts; rather it is the frame through which facts are understood, and we all favor the facts that fit our stories and downplay or avoid the facts that don't. The difference is more a matter of degree. Some people are so in love with their stories (e.g. Islamic fanatics, urban carnage!) that they flagrantly fabricate or deny the obvious.

    Thanks for the TED link. I'll check it out.


    Just to be clear, I wasn't really blaming anyone about anything, I was just trying to look at the crystal ball, i.e. trends.


    Narrative a must, eh? That's funny, because I was going to blog on how narratives are going the way of the dinosaur. Daily newspapers here have largely gotten replaced by the free version that devoted 1/20th the space to any story - the basics is all we need. Twitter of course is anti-narrative collaboration, closer to online Japanese Whispers (yes, the story really morphs despite being written). I agree that historical context is also outmoded. But I'm not sure what to call these drive-by assaults with "memes", whatever they are. But we know for sure that the OrangeMan isn't doing "narrative", since he can barely muster 7 words without going into repeat, and he used roughly the same speech for Holocaust Day as Black History Month - there is 0 detail in his case, little in many others'. It's also why disproving things is difficult - the original contentions aren't based on explanation or detail - they're just posited as a given event, a mini-happening, without any justification, so counter-justification doesn't even have a role - just 1 hand clapping, shadow boxing with itself.

    I don't think anyone has the attention or staying power to handle an MLK anymore - just the soundbites and the PPT outline will suffice. We want to consume in quantity, not concentrate and focus down. So little time, so many places to be....


     concentrate and focus down is precisely what happens with alternative reality narratives like that of the Pizzagate shooter. Being able to "Google" a world of  info. to fit one's narrative is what makes this happen.

    The new Luke Syson way of doing things is very controversial in the museum world. To take things out of historical context and mix historical eras to make a curatorial point. Because that's also the way conspiracy theories and propaganda are made.

    Everyone in the art world is sick of seeing the word "curated" applied to everything. It's past the stage of making a joke. Everyone is a curator now, no matter what they are doing, a party, a fashion show, a Meetup.com group, it;s "curated" according to someone's narrative.

    Newspapers, of course, were always "curated".


    Yeah, by narrative I don't mean a novel. I mean a story with good guys, bad guys, and a narrative arc that is used to frame current events. They are often very simplistic, e.g. Islamic extremists tried to destroy America, but the hero defeated them. Or: The crooked media and corrupt establishment repressed average Americans (but the hero defeated them). You get the picture.


    Michael - Democrats did not lose blue-collar bastions because they stopped being good at persuasion.  They lost these bastions because they stopped championing blue-collar workers.

    Edit to add: The above is of course far too simplistic.  Right-wing media has played a huge and ugly role as well.  Innate suspicion of outsiders and the "other" and evangelical preachers are also villains in this piece.  In the end, though, enough voters in swing states who previously voted for Clinton and Obama voted for Trump because their life prospects had eroded under Democratic presidents, they were really angry, and Trump gave them easy targets for their anger.


    It's all connected. In the 1960s, the civil rights narrative (free-thinkers vs racists) supplanted the labor narrative (workers vs capital) as Democrats and liberals shifted priorities. The narrative shift was both caused by and a cause of the evolving priorities.

    After the civil rights era, Republicans embraced the "Middle America" narrative (liberals/minorities vs white Christian conservatives), which helped them peal off white Christian social conservatives from the Democratic Party. They also adjusted their priorities (a little) to embrace cultural issues, but they don't champion blue collar workers either.


    In order to deal with a problem, you have to understand the problem. You repeat the meme that Democrats abandoned your white working class. The truth is that Obama wanted infrastructure problems but was blocked by Republicans.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-donald-trump-...

    Republicans wanted tax cuts for the wealthy that would adverse impact the white working class.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/economy-budget/239360-why-do-blue-...

    Even after losing the coal miner vote, Democrats in Congress tried to keep coal miner health benefits intact, they were thwarted by the Republicans.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/democrats-congress-coal-miners-heath...

    Other members of the working class realized the game played by the GOP. The white working class votes against it's own interests, The fear that the "other" will make gains plays a major role in this stance.. If the white working class can see the "other" suffer under a tax plan, they will vote against their own interests. The white working class has to be willing to work with the "other". Currently whites in the working class are not willing to join a diverse coalition.


    A) The Republicans are worse for the working-class than Democrats are but, because the former exploit bigotries and have a larger percentage of media in their pocket, they can be worse and still win elections.  Dems must be much better than Republicans for working people or they will lose many of their votes.  This is true regardless of the race and sex of the voters.  Dems will lose fewer female and minority voters but they will still lose some.  Non-white voters respond to appeals to bigotry as well. E.g., attacks on GLBTQ, reproductive, and immigrant rights have been met with approval from segments of the African-American and Latino communities.

    B) Some examples of the failures of Democratic leaders to champion working people since 1992 - 1) "free" trade deals, 2) repeal of Glass-Steagall, 3) no prosecutions for 2008 financial meltdown, 4) paying lip service to unions, 5) the Baucus-Lieberman sabotage of the "public option", 6) Banks, not people, bailed out in 2009, 7) Obama's offer in 2011-12 to cut social security payments.


    Blacks have become more open-minded in their voting pattern. The 20% of blacks who voted in proxy against Gay marriage can no.longer be found. The majority of white voters stick with the Republicans against their own economic interests and they are willing to support administrations that openly state that they will target LGBTQ and minorities.

    In fact, even the vote on Prop 8 shows that younger African-Americans rejected the anti-Gay legislation.

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/prop-8-myths/

    Your list in B also applied to non-white working class. Only the white working class viewed the Republicans as the better option. Any re-education program has to target the white working class. The Democrats are acceptable to everybody else.


    We have been through this repeatedly. We need to deal with the situation in 2017.

    Currently, activists are pushing Democrats to resist Trumpism. Some Democrats are responding. We will see if the base remains energized and ready for 2018. We will also find out if Trump's irrational behavior costs him support.


    What was it Chris Rock said about blacks evolving, like all these white crackers be crazy and genocidal, but it's *blacks* that have come a long way? But it's nice to see an example where the shoe's on the other foot, and still blacks manage to be tolerant and quick to adapt. Somewhere someone's saying, "what else we got, we keep throwing shit and it doesn't seem to stick..."


    At the National Prayer Breakfast, Trump asked for people to pray for better ratings for "Celebrity Apprentice". Trump is a national embarrassment, but the Evangelicals will back his every move as along as he whispers "I'm against abortion" in their ears. Evangelicals love fetuses but hate the poor who are living among us.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-national-prayer-breakfa...


    Hal, this doesn't make sense, no matter how many times you try to pawn it off.

    The average person in the street has *0* idea what Glass-Steagall is. Nor Baucus-Lieberman (and overall people didn't like Bernie's health proposal once they looked at it). Hillary speeches to Goldman-Sachs? Sure, they've heard that one a million times.

    "Paying lip service to unions" - unions haven't been that popular, and only the last few years has it reversed a bit - perversely because of the slow recovery they've drawn more fans. in 2009, support for unions dropped below 50% for the first time in a really long time. Ironically, labor unions were blamed as much for the crash as government and business.

    Yet it's all illusory - the # of people in a union keeps drifting downwards towards irrelevant.

    But that's misleading. Private sector union membership is only *6.4%*, while public sector unionization is 34% - tell me if you think the working class thinks positively about government work.

    Over and over you bring up these points, but never seem to acknowledge that *THE WORKING CLASS DISAGREES WITH MANY OF THESE*.

    How long do you keep telling them they want what they don't want before you change your message or style or something?


    Dude, I've heard you go on and on and ON about "women," and then huge numbers of them voted for Trump.

    People vote against things that can be really powerfully in their interest.

    The key is, you have to put together a storyline and a method of discussing it that turns their cranks.

    Let's take this out of the [now ancient] debate around working class consciousness. Take the environment.

    Very VERY large numbers of people gain from getting lead out of gasoline, etc. But the storyline shoved out by the Right convinced a lot of people into opposition to that.

    So, gee, you know, some working class people may actually have been convinced, post-2008, that the banks and investment houses had to be supported... and free trade extended... etc. And yet, it may not have been good for them.

    Nothing wrong with that logic, methinks. [Even if I don't have any easy way to cure it.]


    C'est moi, BTW.


    And your point is?


    There's an interesting article in The Atlantic regarding political persuasion.  The focus is on how to frame your argument in such a way that the "other side" will relate to it on a gut level.  Of course, there's a huge obstacle to mounting such an argument:

    “We tend to view our moral values as universal,” Feinberg told me. That “there are no other values but ours, and people who don't share our values are simply immoral. Yet, in order to use moral reframing you need to recognize that the other side has different values, know what those values are, understand them well enough to be able to understand the moral perspective of the other side, and be willing to use those values as part of a political argument.”


    Ditto


    Orwell's 1984 dystopia or Huxley's Brave New World?

    By Stuart McMillen, from 2009, even more relevant now.

    Huxley in the lead it seems.

     


    The Progressives I know are panicked because they are taking in information and separating truth from fiction. 

    Edit to add:

    Trump administration officials will not appear on CNN. Trump is using the Orwell model,

    http://www.theroot.com/white-house-will-no-longer-send-officials-on-air-...

    CNN can choose to go all out in criticizing the new administration, or they can kiss butt and fall in line.


    TeeVee news is about eyeballs, money, both sides to blame bs, and as Driftglass describes:   

    In this country, politics and corporate media are incestuously co-dependent to the point where the players are often interchangeable.  The careers and "credibility" of disgraced political has-beens and sleazy Beltway PR flaks are perpetually replenished and swapped around through the magic of our corporate media's revolving door. 

    Of course, its also where most Americans get their 'news' and from which they form opinions, as nobody reads much, comprehends when they do, and what they do read must reinforce and validate their preconceived and immutable bias...... coherence, confirmation from other reliable sources and indisputable facts don't matter.

    I note Trump's first antiterrorism foray was a deadly fiasco in a boots on the ground mission in Yemen. One American dead, many wounded,a $70 million Osprey lost and not one but two rescue forces had to be deployed to get the Seals out. Trumpkins of course blamed Obama, (who had refused to authorize the mission.)

     


    Apropos of the comment I just made elsewhere on this thread, this kind of explanatory image is the future, too. No desire or time to read books with narratives, the population at large raised on the internet needs them translated into images. Including the young educated subset of the population. Images that have a narrative are the most popular. Images that do not have a narrative are quite simply "not in style." Ask any art dealer.


    Dear NCD, mrd0000, artapraiser, moat

    Thank you for this line of investigation. It is a stimulating and really enlightening thread. The comparisons and selections are truly excellent. When I look at the examples you all have put forward, and at what is coming out of the WH, much of this is spot on. It is a dialog that shines a bright light on the multi-layered obscuring strategy that is being thrown around, and is clearly meant to hide even worse that lies beneath and ahead.


    Thank you for allowing the discussion.


    Thanks for your contributions too libre.


    If Orwell and Huxley are to be mentioned, Baudrillard is also worthy of consideration when discussing the "real."

    He took the approach that language changed as result of the way communication became a device to influence consumer selection. He started off presenting his ideas in terms of "means of production" as put forward by Marx but came to see language formation as something that had it own process. So, his ideas are different from those who see the matter purely in terms of control of peoples' consciousness.

    One sentence from his early work seems to me to jive with the later stuff:

    "The system of needs has become less integrated than the system of objects; the latter imposes its own coherence and thus acquires the capacity to fashion an entire society."  [from page 15 of the System of Objects]


    Interesting Huxley from his 1958 Brave World Revisited describes how demagogues mobilize the mob, he calls it 'herd poisoning':

    The demagogic propagandist must therefore be consistently dogmatic. All his statements are made without qualification. There are no grays in his picture of the world; everything is either diabolically black (carnage disaster) or celestially white (Great, fantastic). In Hitler’s words, the propagandist should adopt “a systematically one-sided attitude towards every problem that has to be dealt with.” He must never admit that he might be wrong or that people with a different point of view might be even partially right. Opponents should not be argued with; they should be attacked, shouted down, or, if they become too much of a nuisance, liquidated.

    My additions in parentheses. Pretty good description of Trump.


    I see the parallel to Huxley's narrative.

    By quoting Baudrillard, I was hoping to introduce an element that was not so much about the power of those who have power but to point to a few things oddly up for grabs: People organizing to get what they need.
    Baudrillard is taunting us to do this. It is the only thing that could counter the forces set against the process he describes. What makes Baudrillard interesting is that he doesn't talk about the inevitability of history. He just says:

    You could lose. Probably will if what you have shown is all you have got.


    I thought I was the only person to quote Baudrillard. Great post!


    Dammit, Moat - give Danny back his Baudrillard right now, and you kids play fair or it's off to your rooms without supper.


    #winning


    This is everything!


    Gidday everyone ... I'm free to voice my opinions ... and it's a whole new world.

    Librewolf, I appreciate your measured responses. They're extremely to the point with barely a noticeable bias that doesn't deteriorate from your message. However, I'm from the outside looking in ... in Europe ... and I've noted everyone in the US have yet to realize Trump's influence ends at the 12 nautical mile territorial shore line limits of the US. In other words, he has no sway beyond that point.

    Beyond US borders Trump can only exploit other leaders weaknesses. For example, Theresa May (not Teresa May the stripper) came to Washington as a " Penitent Man " seeking the almighty trade agreement necessary for Britain to keep their heads above water in the Brexit storm the unenlightened public forced upon them. Whereas, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull stood his ground on the refugee exchange angering Lord Trump. Unfortunately for Turnbull he's just a vote or two above a no confidence vote which Lord Trump could use to influence his opposition into action. Anyone with a political weakness can be exploited by Trump to his advantage.  Which brings me to Angela Merkel.

    Angela Merkel schooled Trump ... period ... her East German upbringing came in extremely handy dealing with obnoxious political leaders like Trump. And Germany is toying with increased diplomatic relations and trade with Russia too. In fact, I saw an article on Op-Ed News where a blogger is saying Angela Merkel is now the leader of the free world. A title US Presidents have held until 20 Jan 2017.

    So global leaders who can't be exploited will be the one's to put Trump in his place and limit his options. Which brings me to Congress.

    Congress is " s u p p o s e " to be a check on the Executive. However, I've noted republicans seem to be testing the waters and may capitulate some Article I enumerated rights and privileges to Trump in return for fast track, no questions asked approval of their agenda they've been wanting to make law for decades. Congress is the internal control point to keep Trump in check and from the outside, I'd say they're greasing the rails for Trump. Everyone in Europe is watching to see what it will take for Congress to act to control Trump or the public to riot because no one is listening to them.


    Welcome back, Beetlejuice! Interesting point about Merkel. I wonder when/if other leaders will start publicly mocking or disparaging Trump.

    I suspect that Congress and Trump will not cooperate as smoothly as you predict. In theory, the quid pro quo you outline makes rational sense from their point of view, but the Republican caucus isn't unified and Trump is...Trump. So what happens if John McCain, say, decides to hold hearings on Flynn or Bannon. Trump goes ballistic and demands that McConnell shut it down. But McConnell may lack the power or will to strong-arm McCain, which could lead Trump to aim his firehouse at the "Republican establishment," and then it escalates from there. Just one possible scenario, but the point is that we're not talking about a deal between two rational individuals. There is much that could go wrong.


    Thanks !

    Odd thing I was able to login on my old account yesterday without a problem, but today it says It doesn't have a record and when I try to use my old name it says it already exists. So I created a second account and waiting for an e-mail confirmation.

    Business aside, on OpEd news I wrote a reply that opens a whole new point of view as a response to what you wrote ...

    " ...

    Problem is ... republicans in Congress see Trump as an opportunity to establish a single political party rule with Trump vilifying everyone standing in their way. Yet I see Trumps executive order maneuvering as a test to see if he can use them to legislate without congressional approval which would make Congress useless thus allowing him to invoke Article II, Section 3, Clause 3 -- Calling Congress into extraordinary session; adjourning Congress.

    Note : adjourn - to suspend the meeting of (a club, legislature, committee, etc.) to a future time, another place, or indefinitely.

    When Congress no longer has a useful function to perform for Trump, his use of alternative facts ... which Congress and the media have yet to challenge ... could become a tool to disband the institution, especially if they challenge his authority.

    That Congress and the media both are penitent, not challenging his perceived authority, only adds to his hubris and any extreme is a possibility when checks and balances are abandoned due to fear of loosing personal political power. ... "

    Of course my feeble understand of said constitutional article and clause leaves much to be desired, however, with the use of alternative facts being used as if they were real could easily mangle the true intend to suit a more different approach the founding fathers never intended.


    There are many things to worry about with Trump in the WH, but disbanding Congress isn't one of them. The Constitution was specifically designed to prevent a populist demagogue from assuming unchecked power. Some anti-populist restraints have been diluted, such as indirect election of senators and the autonomy of the Electoral College, and executive powers have expanded somewhat, but dissolving Congress is way, way out of bounds. He'd need a constitutional amendment or a military coup.

    PS Wtr to Article 2, the President can only adjourn Congress "in case of disagreement between [the House and Senate], with respect to the time of adjournment."


    I understand, but with the introduction of alternative facts, what is normal ? It would be a Hail Mary play for Trump and his entourage to purposefully misread the intent to further their agenda if Congress doesn't play ball by his rules.


    But it can't possibly work outside of Trump's delusions. We have enough real concerns to worry about, why spin imaginary ones?


    And I figured out what I was doing wrong on my log-in issue.


    As for response from other countries to Trump and his hubris, here's a few short videos ...

     

     

     

     

    and from Germany ...

     

     

    The German video has other web sites where EU protests are being created. While the host is speaking German, it doesn't take much to get his drift because he throws in English which bridges the gaps. The 10 minute point is a real journalist shove-it-up-our-rear Mr. Trump all in English.


    This is in response to the whole thread.

    How much influence Trump has outside the US depends on the influencing we are talking about, but let me back up (or jump over) to the vaunted "balance of powers." I think we are in a tremendously vulnerable period right now because there are forces within the GOP that (for different reasons) see Trump as having hit the trifecta. He is a gravy train that will sign on - go along with pretty much anything they throw out there. This is true whether it is the corporatist bunch that is ready to push everything out into the private sector, sell off all national holdings (resources, land, whatever), or whether it is the hard right Tea Party right and Christian Dominionists who want to establish a Theocracy. All of them are drooling more than Pavlov's dog.

    Trump is a wrecking ball. He ran as a wrecking ball. The Republicans are Norquist devotees and want to "drown it (government) in a bathtub. He has Bannon on his should issuing both hatefulness, and trajectory for greatest destruction because HE (Bannon) wants to destroy the US as well. Trump by himself is a bombastic narcissist with an abuser personality. The constantly shifting "truth" and point of focus is not just high drama, it is classic abuser tactics to keep the abused unbalanced and in a constant one down situation. His constant throwing out of "Executive Orders" (at least 1/2 of which aren't anything more than intention memos because he does not have the authority to do whatever. I don't know if he doesn't know the difference, or it is all part of the show and keeping (most) of the nation on edge.

    Then within the administration we have Pence a heart beat away from the Presidency. He is a confirmed Dominionist, and has is the closest they have ever come to seizing the reins of power. BTW DeVos is also a Dominionist, as is her brother Eriik Prince (who is also reportedly advising Trump.

    So can President Wrecking Ball cause significant damage outside the US? I would say "Certainly", and it would not have to be by playing on the weakness of other leaders. Stir things up by taking nuclear pot shots at Iran? How about "getting tough" with China? What if he calls all US troops serving with NATO home? Or how about sending troops into Mexico? PWB does not give a damn about laws, agreements, or convention. He is clearly showing that in relation  to domestic and international issues. He should have been locked up for violation of the Logan Act dozens of times before he was sworn in.

    If the rest of the world decides to just ignore PWB there is another issue. How about the biggest power vacuum on the planet? See the mess the US has created in South Asia and the Middle East? "Color Revolutions, Arab Spring, regime change... a deadly, unending nightmare for millions of people. Now ask how destabilizing a US that is swing wildly in the wind with a President who seems to have little concern about using nuclear weapons. 

    Maybe I am just not getting enough sleep, but I am having a very hard time finding my way to even a "least damaging" scenario here.


    Regarding the "power vacuum" element, the Balance of Power model is important but not as important as Trump's withdrawal from the global dialectic struggling to find a way to preserve a system of sovereign states while also advancing the influence of human rights throughout the world.

    Hannah Arendt did as good a job as anybody at pointing at the limits of sovereign states to solve the problem they foist upon each other, especially as they become "failed states":

    Man, it turns out, can lose all so-called Rights of Man without losing his essential quality as man, his human dignity. Only the loss of a polity itself expels him from humanity. The right that corresponds to this loss and that was never even mentioned among the human rights cannot be expressed in the categories of the eighteenth century because they presume that rights spring immediately from the "nature" of man-whereby it makes relatively little difference whether this nature is visualized in terms of the natural law or in terms of a being created in the image of God, whether it concerns "natural" rights or divine commands. The decisive factor is that these rights and the human dignity they bestow should remain valid and real even if only a single human being existed on earth; they are independent of human plurality and should remain valid even if a human being is expelled from the human community.

    Trump's removal of the United States from this dialectic won't stop it. The role we played will be taken up by others. If you want to talk about power, how do we measure what is lost by leaving that room in a huff?

    Are we going through a dynamic reversal of our Revolution where the rest of the world becomes the workshop of Republics and Federations while we devolve into cantons of dynastic privilege managed by deranged interbred clowns?

    My Kingdom for a horse.


    Well said, Moat. I find it frightening to consider, but I fear we will see all too soon.


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