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View Diary: From JFK to the TPP - The Long March of Structural Sociopathy (30 comments)

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  •  Oy. (2+ / 0-)
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    arendt, joegoldstein

    Sociopathy is structural to being human. Why not take 1963 and march backwards 50 years to 1913?  Even though that was one of the times of greatest progress for human rights, it was also a time of gas warfare, KKK numbering over a million. Joe McCarthy. Joe Stalin. Mao. The coup against Arbenz. Worldwide depression, Nazi death camps, Unit 731, etc.

    Leaders are always betraying us, or seeming to. You should have heard the crap MLK got from his allies. How about FDR and the refugeee ships turned away?

    The rich are always trying to seize power. Ever hear of Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler and the plot to kill FDR? Teapot Dome?

    There are always bad things happening. Who makes the difference are the decent people who refuse to give up.

     

    •  While your point is valid,... (0+ / 0-)

      so is my pont.  My point is that 1963 divides the last 50 years from 1932-1963, a time in which America was a functioning democracy that had finally managed to regulate the rich. It defeated the Fascists and was making a good life for its working class - giving them college educations. We were successfully fighting racism and organized crime.

      The point is the trajectory was upwards, and there was no legitimate reason for it to have changed.

      It is only because of these assassinations that the super rich regained control and started the massive looting of the middle class, the sell off of our industrial base, and the destruction of genuine democracy with puppet candistates like Reagan and Bush.

      After the 1960s, the trajectory was downward.

      ----

      By your rubric, there is no history - only random acts of brutality and kindness. (Sounds sorta like Maggie Thatcher - there is no such thing as history.) You can say that things have always been the same; but you can also say no two situations are exactly the same.

      The 60s were a unique moment; and it was stolen from us by assassinations.

      •  Trajectory is both up and down (0+ / 0-)

        arendt said,

        The 60s were a unique moment; and it was stolen from us by assassinations.
        So were the 1930s, and they were stolen from us by war. So were the late 1940s--a time when people really wanted no more war-- and they were stolen from us by Berlin, Korea, and McCarthy. You're right that these were unique moments: the 1930s for the willingness to create unions and provide social benefits, the 1940s for the cause of peace, and the 1960s for racial and social equality and the creation of a complete set of social benefits. But though moments are unique, they simply represent surges along the arc bending toward justice.

        arendt also said

        The point is the trajectory was upwards, and there was no legitimate reason for it to have changed.
        Look over a millennia, and the last 50 years are a blip. The fact that the solution of so many problems have been repressed merely signals that the pressure is building for a response. Our duty is merely to respond to the coming historical moment with confidence, faith in the human rights embodied in the Constitution (including a few yet to be written down), and a constructive attitude, forgetting old sorrows  and making peace with our former enemies to the extent we can.

        When, instead, people respond with fear and anger, one gets unique moments like the rise of fascism and communism. History decides when movement occurs. We make the decision whether to rise or to sink.  

        •  Your time frames are even more arbitrary than mine (0+ / 0-)
          Look over a millennia, and the last 50 years are a blip.
          The year 1000 was a completely different world with a completely different mentality.

          If any time frame is appropriate, it is from the beginning of the industrial revolution, around 1820. It was that revolution which gave rise to the issues of labor and mass warfare that you mention. It is within the conrtext of the Industrial Revolution, Marxism, and Fascism that the struggkes of the 20th century played out.

          In terms of two centuries of industrialization, my 50 years represents 25% of all the time available. It represents a differentiated set of rules, folkways, and issues that gives the period an identity and a trajectory.

          Another, related time frame is the time until we kill the planet - which some people put within the next 50 years. In that time frame, 50 years is 50% of the time available.

          In general, your attitude

          Our duty is merely to respond to the coming historical moment...
          sounds a lot like Harry Truman's attitude
          The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.
          In other words: the world is unchanging, people are unchanging. Its all random, and we just fight in the particular bar-room brawl in which we happen to find ourselves.

          You make it alll sound so passive - we just wait around for bad shit to build up, and when we can't stand it anymore we do something. I reject this kind of alternation between fatalism and desperate reaction. We should be working harder than the bad guys to create a historical moment in which we win - unlike the last 50 years, when we just kept losing.

          I also have a bone to pick about your use of the word "decision"

          We make the decision whether to rise or to sink.  
          To me, "decision" means picking from a pre-slected set of options - in your case, "rise" or "sink". This is the kind of vending machine logic than has me "deciding" between the GOP candidate and the corporate Dem candidate.

          What we need to do is "choose" - choose to create options that don't exist. Deciding is playing on the other guys turf.

          All in all, I find your stance to be dis-empowering.

          •  Realism gives one strength for the long haul (1+ / 0-)
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            arendt

            Of course we don't just sit around. No one knows when change will come. As Howard Zinn famously said, we keep striking sparks, never knowing from which the conflagration will come.

            The difference I see between you and me is really our degree of optimism. I am quite optimistic that the problems we face will be resolved, and not because I am a Pollyanna. There is a certain anangke to history. The Marxists call it "correlation of forces." Not being a Marxist, I don't have a special name for it. I think I am inherently optimistic because all my life I have been working toward constructive change. Having fought the good fight, I have few regrets.  

            You seem to me to be inherently pessimistic. The resolution will not come soon enough, you seem to think, to save the world. Maybe you are right. If so, I guess we should give up trying to change things.  

            But consider these questions: how well is what Michael Lind called "The Triangular Trade", the coalition of reactionary forces, holding up?  How much damage to American hegemony has been (self)-inflicted by the Iraq War, the financial crisis, and the NSA revelations? Today, countries walked out of the COP to protest US (via Australia) obstructionism on climate change. How long before the US position becomes completely untenable and the world forces changes in fossil fuel consumption?

            When the dawn comes, as it did in 1932-3, it comes entirely unexpectedly. It comes as the consequence of the many people fighting what seem to be hopeless, disconnected battles. What differs, from age to age, is what kind of dawn it is, a dawn of greater democracy or greater repression.

            Realism gives one strength for the long haul. And it is entirely realistic to expect positive change. In the long run, reaction has always, always failed.  

            •  50 years is about as long a haul as I can manage (0+ / 0-)
              You seem to me to be inherently pessimistic. The resolution will not come soon enough, you seem to think, to save the world. Maybe you are right. If so, I guess we should give up trying to change things.  
              If I am pessimistic, I did not start out that way. I have always done well enough in life to be satisfied and personally generous, and I still do well - although retirement is looking a bit iffy, what with the assault on SocSec.

              I can't pick one event that made me pessimistic. It's more like one too many shovels of dirt in the face from the 1% trying to bury me alive. Sometime around the SCOTUS coup of 2000 I realized that our political system was hijacked beyond repair thanks to 20 years of Democratic capitulation on the judicial appointments front and five years of Fox News.

              The pessimism comes from watching things go BACKWARDS. Its one thing to fail to make progress. Its completely different and demoralizing to actually be shoved backwards - especially on stuff you think is immovable bedrock, like hard science and command of the basic facts of history.

              ----

              The resolution will not come soon enough, you seem to think, to save the world. Maybe you are right. If so, I guess we should give up trying to change things.
              That's quite a bit of reading in. Perhaps its like change will not come in what is left of my life; and if I am making negative progress, perhaps I should just do something productive and useful, like science - instead of aggravating myself with politics.

              Of course, as I just mentioned, one can't even do science these days without running into politics. Koch Brothers and Eli Broad buying the research campus and driving down academic wages. Huge fights over biotech (stem cells, etc.) and climate science. Corporate colonization of the universities.

              Maybe I will decide to go become an alternative energy consultant/planner. Apparently, math and science are still welcome in that field; and that field has become very political as the big utilities realize all their calculations are screwed by cheap solar and the pushback against burning more coal and nukes.

              Or, I have the skill set to become a data miner for political organizations.

              Bottom line: I am pessimistic about things in general, but Ok about my personal situation.

              Perhaps I should let the fight come to a ground that I choose rather than inserting myself into someone else's fight.

        •  Perhaps this is more directed to HST than you... (0+ / 0-)

          but, really, there are all  kinds of new things in the world. And the rate of creatiion has been accelerated by science and technology.

          Speed of light communications (from telegraphs to cell-phones) is new and has changed everythhing.

          The ability to destroy the planet (with nuclear weapons or with climate change) is new and has changed everything.

          The ability to snoop on every phone call, every credit charge, every motion in view of a surveillance camera has changed everything.

          Each of these changes puts the lie to HSTs nothing-new-in-the-world talk.

          You say you believe that situations can be unique. Do you also believe they can be new (as in unprecednted - not just the nth gunfight between good and evil).?

          You say there is some kind of moral progress, I think. But  given the climate problems I have mentioned, I don't feel we have the unspecified amount of time you posit to work things out. Instead, I believe that if we do not act right now, the sociopaths will be in charge until the planet is dead and humanity iwth it. That is not my idea of moral progress, except from the viewpoint of Mother Natuire.

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