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27 April 2015

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Imagine

Excellent and useful; thank you!

Robert Anton Wilson addressed this system in his masterpiece "Prometheus Rising", chap. 16, calling it "nescience" [anti-knowledge, or black-hole knowledge, which annihilates knowledge]. Best current example is U.S.'s opinions/knowledge of Israeli nuclear weapons. RAW describes a paranoid master power that spies on everybody; but then the spies have to be spied on by an inner circle as they can't be trusted; but then the inner circle has to be spied on; until the system collapses under its own weight. Cf. Saddam Hussein; USSR; Hoover's FBI; and current NSA (which offers raw feeds to Israel).

This is inherent in the nature of reality creation. What you put out comes back to you. Paranoids create a reality of constant threat and victimization; we live in the results now in America. Saints and Bodhisattvas create a reality of peace and empowerment; which is why hanging around Gandhi, Theresa, Dalai Lama is such a buzz. Reality creation is poorly understood and little studied. Until people in power truly understand that you reap what you sow, what goes around truly does come around, we will continue to be trapped in the nightmare of Maya.

[RAW is about 100 yrs ahead of his time; pls read his masterpiece; it makes sense of what's actually going on.]

different clue

Fred,

Perhaps we can turn this into a "if life hands you lemons make lemonade" situation. However late Mr. Angelos is in coming to this understanding, he seems to understand it now. If someone in the counter TPP/TTIP movement who could personally reach Mr. Angelos were to move his mind forward to understanding that the Obamatrade Agreements are more of the same but worse,
he might decide to make his opposition to them public while it might still tip the ongoing battle. Perhaps his newfound attitude can be deepened, broadened and weaponised.

What if he were to reach millions of sports fans and say: "as one sports fan to another, Obamatrade threatens your basic survival. You may not be interested in Obamatrade, but Obamatrade is very interested in you. Lets fight it while we can." Could that be useful if it happened fast enough?

LeaNder

"the news publication Foreign Policy assumes American exceptionalism and is not a reliable source of serious US policy critique (for the most part). "

Ever since I discovered the Berlin correspondent(/propagandist) of the Jerusalem post publishes on Foreign Policy it's on my to be handled with care list.

But I'd like to join your thanks to Patrick. Valuable contributions no doubt.

Imagine

Iran intercepts a cargo ship from the Marshall Islands, under Iranian court order. US sends a destroyer. No mention of the US intercepting an Iranian ship outside of Yemen last week; this would appear to be tit for tat. US can now easily escalate; our move. Developing situation Apr 28 '15. Speculations?

readerOfTeaLeaves

It's insightful comments like this that make SST my #1 reading.

I suspect that part of what has happened over the 40 years or so that Mr Angelos references in terms of the decay of American cities is that we've been in the maw of what I call "Business School Logic", which became the fundamental operating system of not only US business, but US government. And it's a whole lot easier to create curriculum around 'capital': stocks, bonds, accounting, budgets... than it is to teach about the unique, individual, sometimes downright ornery complexities of dealing with labor. Capital became far more dominant than labor, and we are reaping very high social costs for that error.

During the period that Angelos references, several things happened in the US - including the rise of multiversity's and the increasing removal from what I call: 'knowing - or figuring out - how stuff actually works'. Because 'figuring out how stuff *actually* works' is a time-consuming, often frustrating endeavor, and in my experience, it's far easier to write a few papers, show up for lectures, and get a few college credits than it is to build a large database system, or collect a body of solid data.

I would add that 'knowing how stuff actually works' is generally in the domain of labor: mechanics, engineers, farmers, physicians. If something doesn't work, they have a real-world accountability experience.

In contrast, we've developed layers of society (universities, think tanks) devoted to *describing* how things work, without actually ever having to provide evidence that what they claim is true or accurate. But this tends to be the realm of capital: intellectual property, contracts, agreements, legal documents. Unfortunately, theres not a lot of feedback about whether a trade agreement is working out over a period of ten years (and if it's not, we can tweak the stats to make it look presentable). But for many years, 'white collar' employment gained financial advantage over 'labor', and that has skewed American politics.

We Americans seem to have developed a weakness for diplomas (and a hierarchy, depending on which institution granted them). Meanwhile, we far too often dismiss or overlook 'real world' experience: which I define as "the kind of knowledge that has the greatest chance at supplying people with good bullshit detectors."

To take one example as a potential Cautionary Tale, let us check out the Wikipedia page for Victoria Nuland: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Nuland
I see from her Wikipedia entry that she has a very reputable education: Brown, in Russian lit. And (wait for it!) political science.

Let us see whether we can discern any evidence that she has ever lived in Ukraine, done business in Ukraine, had to develop a business network in Ukraine, or other any credible evidence that would show she actually understands the culture, the cities, et cetera.
I look at a Wikipedia description like Nuland's, and think, "Hmmm... "
Not a lot of experience there for building and creating a solid set of bullshit detectors; but unfortunately, I would not be in the least surprised to learn that Ms Nuland is convinced that her information is terrific, and that she's smarter than all the rest of us because of her illustrious education.

Nevertheless, as a friend once said, "Does she understand the (Ukrainian) jokes?" Because if she doesn't then she does not understand the language(s) or culture well enough to prevent the proverbial wool from being pulled over her eyes -- and, consequently, ours.
IOW, if she doesn't understand the jokes, she's a sitting duck for being suckered by bullshit.
And given her position, that has some rather nasty implications for the rest of us.

As I read her Wikipedia entry under 'Career', I see -- synopsisizng -- Chief of Staff, envoy, Assistant to ... IOW, she appears to have spent her career commuting in DC -- and I greatly fear that she assumes that she knows how the world works and the rest of us are a pack of hopeless nincompoops.
This kind of 'diploma with no experience' has become a blight in American culture.
And lest anyone think that I type this out of envy, I don't; I am speaking from experience, and hold multiple degrees that I sweat blood to obtain.

If I have learned anything in my life, it is that n-o-t-h-i-n-g trumps real world experience.
And often, the people with real world experience can be grumpy, cantankerous, and otherwise contain what might be called 'sharp edges'. This is partly because they actually know what they are talking about, and they have no time or patience for bullshit.

I have a weak bullshit detector at the best of times.
But one thing that I have learned in life is that the smartest, most capable people that I know have superlative bullshit detectors. And almost always, those are related to experiences that grounded them: real problems to solve, real complications to resolve. Et cetera.

I think this problem of a lot of education but low bullshit detectors is a peculiarly American trait, and the neocons as well as the R2Pers personify it to an alarming extent.

(FWIW, I'm intrigued that Mr Putin, who apparently administered multiple levels of government: city, region, federal, appears to be more skilled at governance than the OLFSC or the other members of the US Senate, who blather on about foreign policy. I attribute many of our current problems in governance to the lack of hands-on, concrete experience among US Congressional electeds: I doubt there are many former mayors or governors in D.C, which means they are missing the basics in governance that made someone like Teddy Roosevelt skilled.)

Dave Schuler

It's hard for me to see how anyone might have expected the "color revolutions" to flourish. You can't graft liberal democracy onto any old rootstock. It must be based on social and political institutions in order to grow. There is no instant social and political institutions kit.

Charles I

Well the show I saw on PBS on the Draft the other night pointed out how the all volunteer army and globalization reducing the standard of living of the poorest of the wealthiest countries has disconnected domestic society from the realities and implications of now constant foreign war.

They still wear the insignia; their society does not wear them as it did during the Viet Nam war, whether rioting in the streets and spitting, or saluting as the drafted survivors returned to their communities.

Further, latent dissension as a function of the draft and returning draftees vectors translatable into broadly based popular political sentiment requiring an end to the war does not function in the same manner in an "all volunteer" reserve army of the unemployed.

The meme is that you signed up, you need to be here, do your job and never mind your duty to conscience or public sentiment. Or your child may not eat and you may be a terrorist. The latent pool of constrained frustrated resentful dissent and their vectors are substantially reduced to parameters easily manipulated by government, think tanks and the msm.

So perhaps the draft would at least bring the wars home and democratize the psychological and consequential sequelae of them.

Charles I

It'd be colorfully revolutionary if 1.5 million black men were let out of jail

confusedponderer

IMO Foreign Policy is a tabloid, a glitzy one, but a tabloid nontheless. The way they present their stories speaks for itself.

Charles I

The beauty of bullshit is that as its generally as fact-free as it is outright-lie free, once you're caught out,any practical or moral dilemma is squared by denying any intent to deceive and decrying one's ignorance, which after all, is no crime. Oh, what were we talking about. . . ?

It may be that bullshitters are even less concerned with where their courses of action may lead than compulsive liars or truth tellers, never mind their predictive power. Truth is eternal, bullshit of the moment and lies a temporary tactic looking to the future.

This seems to comport with our current politicians blithe facility at the art, the hoi polloi's well-schooled imperviousness to all of it, and the glaring absence of strategic leadership from the top. They operate only in 2 contexts. 24 hour news cycle and T minus X to the next election day. Who's got the time or cojones for the truth? Lie with good intent, well now there's the web, so bullshit it is.

kao_hsien_chih

In some sense, the social compact that produced the social safety nets in Europe is what undergirds the peculiar parochialism in United States.

Yes, it is true that United States has a strong Calvinist undercurrent in the macro-sense, but on micro-scale, Americans are also a deeply generous people--if they know whom they are giving to at a personal level. They are distrusting of the outsiders (including those from Washington) meddling in their communities' affairs. This is compounded with many Americans being deeply ignorant of the matters outside their own communities and are given to extreme prejudice about those whom they are not familiar with (this extends to the allegedly cosmopolitan city dwellers as much as the residents of the flyover states.)

In Europe, medieval (and early modern) kings made compacts with town dwellers against the aristocracy and consolidated their power. In North America, without the kind of entrenched rural aristocracy like Europe (or at least of the kind that townspeople and landowning peasants were constantly at war with, figuratively or literally), there was no occasion for the central authorities to join together with the "middle" classes. The middle classes were left in their bubbles, mostly wanting to be left alone. Central governments' "protection" schemes were looked upon with suspicion (perhaps rightly so) as there was little that most middle classes saw as a threat (in the form of rural nobility that their European counterparts were at odds with.)

I actually think that the times are changing, even if the politicians have not yet caught up with them. There are a host of threats to the American middle classes' sense of safety today, and both parties seem reluctant to offer them the kind of protection they desire--in fact, the "cosmopolitans" among them are actually eager to side with the "outsiders" against the American middle classes: whether these outsiders are various "foreigners," int'l corporations, strange and variously "blasphemous" ideas, or indeed politicians themselves subverting their implicit and explicit mandates from the public by taking on contrary obligations (to their parties, int'l agencies, trade agreements, etc). I have no qualification to judge whether the public prejudice against them are justified or not, but it seems clear that it will be absolutely counterproductive to force these down the throats of the public.

VietnamVet

Dr. Silverman,

Thank you for your excellent post.

I was shocked at John Angelos’ eloquent statement of the new American reality since this truth is ignored by corporate media. The current situation of a forever war in the Middle East, Cold War 2.0 and race riots brings back memories of the late 60’s and 70’s that led to the Reagan-Thatcher elite counter-revolt. Austerity, globalization, and war profiteering are a direct result of that revolution. Clearly things cannot stay the same when the youth are without jobs. They cannot afford families and homes and are burdened by unpayable debt. Revolts happen when the young want more and have nothing left to lose.

My problem is that my armor of youth is long gone and the government pension that I need to stay alive is the first thing cut when unjust empires collapse; as they always do.

Altoid

Could be this kind of ride; I lived in Bawlamer about 30 years ago. Very high-tech police operations for the time, each officer with a lapel radio, and they used helicopters with searchlights to chase down suspects. Their main job, it was clear, was to protect the white enclaves from the black menace out there. They were the uniformed supplement to the high stone walls that set many of the white areas apart, and it was kind of dystopian now that I think about it.

OTOH, my money is partly on the moment when (I believe) they threw him on the ground face-down and jammed a knee in the back of his neck, full weight. Maybe he didn't have a chance to turn his head to the side. (A full autopsy should find signs of anything like that, but of course they're not releasing it.) Dumping people face-down on the ground is one of the most common moves we see-- it's what they were trying to do with Eric Garner-- and they often stick one knee on the person's back, it seems, like the poor guy in Huntsville who was partly paralyzed last I saw. Whether that would come out, if that's what happened, is iffy.

I used to think these specific tactics were imported from war zones like Baghdad and adopted here on the theory that American citizens are an occupied populace. Now, though, I'm inclined to think they were developed here, say as late as the 90s, and taken to Iraq. Same justification in both directions.

Adam L. Silverman

Matthew,

What's amazing is that the same Senators that were screaming about needing to have a major say in the P5+1 Iranian nuclear negotiations and that are getting ready to do the same thing in advance of the upcoming climate negotiations, are not interested in having as much of a say here. Also, there seems to be a lot of overlap in that crowd with the crowd that always screams about US sovereignty. Consistency, hobgoblins, small minds...

Adam L. Silverman

Jerseycityjoan,

I think it goes beyond this. For over forty years one political party has told Americans that they, as a self governing people, cannot do anything together via self government that is any good and that in fact they need to get out of the way and let the private sector do it. The other political party has fought a rearguard defense to protect what existed, but hasn't really aggressively fought back against this idea. The result is that the US is the wealthiest society on the planet, most likely in history, and one that looks back at the great accomplishments in the post WW II era, shakes its head and says we can't/won't/don't do that stuff anymore.

Adam L. Silverman

Patrick,

I think CP has this right. This is going to quickly become about the few who rioted rather than protested and as is the case with Muslim terrorists who are considered to be representative of all Muslim, those who've engaged in violence here will be considered to be representative of the actions of all African Americans. The actions of Law Enforcement will consider to be an isolated incident pertinent to only the unfortunate death of an African American Baltimorean in custody.

Adam L. Silverman

Valissa,

While I can't speak for where Patrick was going with his thoughts, the Color Revolutions all fit the parameters for a revolution, so they are, by definition, revolutions. As for Foreign Policy - they are correct on the facts: none of the color revolutions consolidated. Finally, I have a very different take on the origins of the current Ukrainian/Russian dispute than many of the other authors here. In many cases we're looking at the same facts/event/data, but have simply come to different conclusions. That said it is clear that the US was seeking to advance some of its policy interests in Ukraine, as was the EU, at the expense of Russia's interests. I don't think that was really the end all be all of the start of the dispute or of Yanukovych being driven from office, but that's a discussion for another day.

Adam L. Silverman

Hank,

I think that's a plausible explanation. It'll be interesting to see what comes out of the investigations.

Adam L. Silverman

Charles I,

This is a huge problem. The All Volunteer Force was never intended to replace a mobilization of Americans for war, should such an event occur. It has been a very small percentage of Americans, uniformed military, DOD/Department of Army, Navy, Air Force civilians, and civilians from the interagency that have actually been involved, let alone deployed. That's not sustainable. Even worse, its not good for the country to have a small cadre do the dirty work and everyone else treat the dirty work as something they see on the TV.

Adam L. Silverman

David,

You are correct - its not just will, its also having a strategy to achieve an acceptable outcome. And the latter is sorely lacking.

As for the BS/conspiracy theory nexus - I've got something for you to sink your teeth into on that tomorrow AM (my time...).

Adam L. Silverman

Dave Schuler,

You're correct. Part of what's happened is that, amazingly, the easy part is the revolution. The hard part is the post revolutionary work to establish a functioning state and society that actually lives up to the expectations of those who were willing to risk - often everything - for the chance at something better. No one seems to have a handle on how to do a really good job at the post revolutionary work.

Matthew

KHC; I think every great nation has a particular mythology. Oftentimes, this mythology is a source of strength. The British sent vast numbers of talented people overseas to administer their empire who toiled under the belief that Britain was special.

The American Dream is a much kinder--and real--myth. But it is a myth in both senses of the word. Every American knows someone with a great success story (particularly an immigrant). Statistically, these stories are overrated, but they are important. If we cease to believe in the American Dream, I fear that much of America's optimism will disappear too. I doubt the world would welcome a sulking, bitter superpower.

nick b

Altoid,

I remember the walls around the Guilford neighborhood and the streets that were all only one way (out) as you turned onto Greenmount ave. I never thought of it as distopian, but it was a clear message just the same. Back then (30+ yrs ago) it was common knowledge even among college students, that if you ended up in the back of a police wagon in Baltimore it meant a bruising ride to the station.

Patrick Bahzad

You're welcome Valissa. I'm glad to share my views on SST and happy if you found those posts interesting ! I'll try and keep up with the standard you've set now with your comment ;-)

nick b

DC,

A review of John Angelos' twitter feed shows that he has expressed these views at least once before publicly. I doubt that he has just arrived at these conclusions. More likely, it's just the first time anyone outside of Baltimore has noticed. I'd wager he is surprised at the attention his words have received nationally.

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