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Despite the thoroughly daunting, not to say crushing, analysis I am about to subject people to, I am invigorated by the prospect of discussing the most eye-opening analysis of current malaise that I have seen in a long, long time with the intelligent, committed, reflective folks who show up for serious discussion in this series.  Many thanks to the creators of this haven and to the well-informed and serious folks who bring vibrancy to the discussion.

Why has forcing fundamental change become so difficult?  What are the obstacles to re-asserting the power of the masses of people as against the forces of concentrated capital and political power?  Today we will examine this question from a sociological/psychological perspective.  It is my hope that we will each place our own tendencies and social behaviors under the microscope along with those of the wider culture.

My assumptions are that power and capital are more concentrated than ever before, that the trend continues toward greater concentration, that the only hope for reversing this distressing circumstance lies in empowered solidarity from all who place the welfare of everyone above the indulgences of a few.  I accept the scientifically derived truth that, contrary to our subjective senses, emotion is the determinant of thought and of behavior.  I take capitalism to be inherently antagonistic toward democracy and the common welfare, thriving as it does on exercise of control through economic tyranny.  This essay is a cold-eyed assessment of some of the obstacles to mounting an effective challenge by the many to concentrated power of the few.

It is one thing to convince sheep to engage the cause with neither authentic commitment nor personal autonomy.  Such pseudo-movements are doomed to be brushed aside by opinion-makers and controllers of media at the first hint of actual threat to the status quo.  In other words, not only is competing with Fox and CNN for the eyes and ears of the masses a hopeless fantasy; even if success were achieved, real people power would not result from replacing one authoritarian ideology with another purporting to govern on the basis of the common good, even in the absence of inevitable corruption.  Put simply, people who lack autonomy cannot be expected to vote their own self-interests.  Through the Communist regimes of the last century up to the thrilling election of Barack Obama, we have seen enough of such shallow pseudo-movements to take an accurate measure.

The heart of this discussion is the ideas of Stjepan G. Meštrović, Professor in the Department of Sociology at Texas A&M, concerning what he calls the “postemotional society.”  I first noticed this thinker’s name on a list of expert witnesses at war crimes trials.  Upon investigation, I discovered that I share with him not only a burning concern with human rights and war crimes-- he has also analyzed at length and with great insight several other issues I have been worrying in my own mind.  As you will see, many salient and troubling behaviors right here on dailykos are brought into sharp focus when viewed through the lens of an other-directed, post-emotional analysis.

Meštrović re-invigorates the thoughts of David Riesman, author of the best-selling sociology text of all time, The Lonely Crowd (1950).  He extends Riesman’s claims of a new orientation in society—other-direction—to an analysis of a new emotional reality, postemotion.  Meštrović’s more general views concerning culture and current malaise (anomie) are congruent with the thinking of Emile Durkheim.  It is sobering to find dire analyses and predictions from decades ago looking like gloomy but overly-optimistic prophesies of trends in place today.

What is the glue that could hold together a truly empowered mass challenge to concentrated power?  I contend that information is not sufficient, nor is ideology, nor shared values, nor abstract commitment to the group.  With Durkheim and Meštrović, I hold that emotion-based commitment to a flesh-and-blood group is the only force strong enough to counter the inherently exploitative tendencies of us humans.  We are skilled at thinking of ourselves as selfless and forces for good, but our thoughts are unreliable in this regard.  How many instances have we all seen of self-serving behavior being blindly justified with notions of high-mindedness?  Compassion, love, selflessness—these are emotions, not ideas.  Selfless commitment to the group arises only in circumstances of face to face interaction between people.  In addition, compassion and selflessness cannot be taught—they must be modeled.  In short, I offer no definitive solution, but I insist that any viable solution will include bonding of people in authentic community on the basis of actual personal interaction.

So long as we confuse facebook groups and dailykos with authentic community, our commitment to the welfare of our fellow humans will remain far too tepid to actualize meaningful change.  The rest of this essay is an examination of the unique modern phenomena which render formation of authentic community and exercise of real autonomy extremely challenging.  I do not attempt a full explanation of the intricate and subtle notion of postemotion.  The concept becomes more clear with continued discussion.  For me, the more I understand it, the more I see it explaining the behaviors I see everywhere I turn.  Please keep in mind that postemotion is the water in which we all swim, none of us is immune to its effects.  The burning question for me is what steps can we each take to free ourselves from the hypnotic effects of other-directedness and postemotion?  Certainly killing the television is high on the list.  Placed in positive terms, what can we do to create authentic community on the basis of face-to-face interaction?

The term post-emotion intentionally parallels the term post-modern.  It does not refer to an end of emotion, but rather to a transformation of emotion from an idiosyncratic inward force to a commodified quasi-intellectual force suitable for manipulation by the self and others.  In postemotion, the connection between feeling and action is severed, authenticity is lost, and mass manipulation is empowered.  Peer group replaces government as the means of social control.  All the following citations are from Postemotional Society by Meštrović except where otherwise stated.  Keep in mind that this was published in 1997, which explains the references to Clinton, the Balkans, and other then-current topics and the lack of reference to the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations.  For those with eyes to see, the cogency of this analysis with respect to these latter barbarisms is painfully obvious.

Finally, it is possible to misread Meštrović as making subjective judgments.  For example, he might be seen as glorifying the inward-directed type.  He is not.  Trust me that, with the heartening exception of a bias in favor of what is good for humans, Meštrović’s analysis is neutral.  He is presenting facts as he comprehends them.

Other-Directedness, Being Nice, and the Death of Literal Meaning
The starting point for postemotion is Riesman’s notion of other-directed types.  While the mundane need for approval from others is found in all societies and epochs, “it is only the modern other-directed types who make this their chief source of direction and chief area of sensitivity.” [The Lonely Crowd]  Among other things, other-directedness leads to a cult of niceness:

...Being nice is an intricate act that involves the manipulation of self and others in highly predictable and deliberate ways, including: one’s physical appearance, language, tone, eye contact, choice of clothing, smile, choice and length of conversation, among a myriad of other factors....  Note that “niceness” is a synthetic, feigned, and ultimately insincere form of friendliness....
p. 51
...as Riesman observes, the other-directed peer group seeks to eliminate temper, jealousy, and moodiness….  A social transformation has occurred from privately and passionately held rigid moral standards to a publicly and loosely held set of  standardized feelings that are used in predictable ways depending upon social circumstances….
p. 52
I have observed here on dailykos a tendency to discredit argument, not through refutation, but through portraying one’s interlocutor as not behaving appropriately during his defense of his ideas.  Once an accusation of rudeness or worst is hurled, questions of fact, accuracy, and viability of opinion are set aside in favor of resolving the issue of the social acceptability of the person making a claim.  Such behavior is rife here and in the wider society.

Language in general has come to serve a social purpose rather than a discursive one.  Being nice and controlling emotions are not the only badges of membership in the peer group:

Language itself becomes a sort of consumer good.  It is used neither to direct the work economy, nor to relate the self to others in any really intimate way, nor to recall the past, nor yet as sheer word play.  Rather it is used in the peer-groups today much as popular tunes seem to be used:  as a set of counters by which one establishes that one is “in” and by which one participates in the peer-group’s arduously self-socializing “work.”
Riesman, The Lonely Crowd
...The language-as-consumer-good is no longer primarily the carrier of rationally intended meanings, but now carries standardized emotions as well.  In addition, emotion itself becomes a luxury item exactly in Veblen’s and Riesman’s senses above.  In previous eras, one expected that emotion could lead to action of some sort, but in today’s postemotional society, this “natural” relationship between emotion and action has been permanently severed.  Emotions serve no appreciable purpose as such, and the more useless one’s emotions are, the more one demonstrates to one’s peer group that one has attained the level of prestige that makes the owning of emotions a luxury that one can afford….
p. 55
Neither the Pen Nor the Sword:  the Peer Group
The neutering of language renders effectual action in one’s own self-interest nearly impossible.  Unity, once created through emotional commitment, needs meaningful authentic language to act in common cause.  As emotion and language are divorced from personal authenticity and from real-world connotation, information loses value as a springboard for action.
Part of the problem is that in other-directed societies it is nearly impossible to tell truth from falsehood because, in Riesman’s words, the individual “is judged for his attitude toward the audience, an attitude which is either sincere or insincere, rather than by his relation to his craft, that is, his honesty and skill.”  But, “just because such a premium is put on sincerity, a premium is put on faking it.”  Postemotional society has reached a phase in its development in which it values insincere sincerity, synthetic candor, feigned frankness, and affected openness….  So long as one is “nice” in one’s presentation, one can get away with just about any truth-claim.
p. 57
Riesman singled out the emotion of “curdled indignation” for special treatment.  Writing in the 1950’s, he discussed with subtlety two of the most prominent features of life on dailykos:  curdled indignation and inside-dopesterism.  Both stem from perceptions of being powerless.
...contemporary indignation is also not linked to appropriate action, and is another luxury emotion.  It is multi-directional and totally divorced from perceptibly fixed moral standards….
p. 57
...Riesman feels that the other-directed type has concluded that he or she is fundamentally powerless to really change the government or any other social institution….  Hence, the other-directed type becomes the inside-dopester who wants to know the inside scoop on everything as a kind of compensation for being unable to do anything about it.  “The inside-dopester may be one who has concluded (with good reason) that since he can do nothing to change politics, he can only understand it.”…  Our age is drowning in information, but it is not all evident that all this knowledge has contributed to autonomy, informed citizenry, increased democracy, or tolerance.  On the contrary, various information outlets cater to particular groups which preach to the converted....  Thus, information becomes one more commodity to be consumed along predictable lines depending upon one’s membership in a “target audience.”  The same is true for politics.
p. 59
Manipulation of Recycled, Dead Emotions Undermines Autonomy
...Any speaker who wants to be taken seriously or respected in other-directed or postemotional societies must not show personal passion in the presentation of his or her topic....  One must appear to be emotionally detached....  The twentieth-century is the century of emotional cleansing.  Even wars, which used to be the arena of powerful passions and hate, have been reduced to abstractions....  Both apathy and cynicism are hallmarks of the current era, as numerous authors have argued.
p. 61
I would quibble here that personal passion is acceptable in pre-determined instances, such as when those who have been anointed victims by the peer group express their hurt, anger or indignation, even when the triggering affront occurred decades before their birth.
…Postemotionialism can account for the emergence of a distinctly new and mechanized emotion-speak….  Postemotionalism involves the use of “dead” emotions from a nostalgicized tradition and inner-directed past that are almost always vicarious and conspicuous and are treated as objects to be consumed.  The emotions do not disappear, but are socially transformed.
p. 62

…Anger becomes indignation. Envy…now becomes an objectless craving for something better.  Hate is transformed into a subtle malice that is hidden in all sorts of intellectualizations.  Heartfelt joy is now the bland happiness represented by the “happy meal.”  Loving really becomes liking.  Sorrow, as the manifestation of affliction, anguish, grief, pain, remorse, trials, tribulations, and sadness, is magically transformed by the TV journalist’s question “How do you feel?”…into the the typical but vague answer “I’m very upset.”  Old-fashioned caritas or love of neighbor now becomes institutionalized tolerance….
p. 63

…Yet the dead or pale copies of emotions suggested above are part of a larger social framework of making emotional reactions conspicuous and vicarious in a standardized, neo-Orwellian manner.
p. 63
Meštrović discusses three ways in which emotions are vicarious and conspicuous.
…mentally, other-directed types are anxious about the opinions and receptions of their peers regarding all their thoughts, actions, and feelings…. the other-directed postemotional type in all professions automatically rehearse in advance the imaginary emotional reaction of others, and thereby lives the emotion vicariously before it is allowed to be expressed….  In general, old-fashioned spontaneous emotion is now processed ahead of time through vicarious participation in the reaction of the proposed audience.
p. 64
Emotions are also vicarious in the sense of being borrowed from the past, even the recent past.
But the most distinctive, and ominous, form of vicariousness is the one that does not allow the other-directed person to live fully in the present.  The postemotional type is simply incapable of being taken in by the present event, of reacting with spontaneous emotion.  He or she must not only borrow from the past, and rehearse for the future, but must also process the appropriate emotions for the present....this is a revision in status nascendi, literally a revision of emotions as they are being born to make sure that they are appropriate to the peer group.  Hence, opinion-makers tell us what to think, and feel, as an event is unfolding….  The other-directed type thereby lives his or her own emotions vicariously, in the present, through other opinion-makers, and nearly everyone is an opinion-maker in some capacity or other.
p. 65
This concept of opinion-makers explains much of behavior on dkos.  Many a time I have wondered at the urgently aggressive responses I have faced at the mere expression of my view.  I have wondered why I could not be more easily accepted as holding an opinion or mounting an analysis at odds with a fellow progressive.  What happened to a notion of individuals with varying views hammering out areas of agreement with an acceptance that there will always be differences?  Before reading Meštrović, I found occasion to say to someone, “You mean there is only one way to feel?”  (More on the feeling side below in the analysis of Barney and Friends.)  Postemotion makes sense of this behavior.  I was being treated not as an individual, but as an opinion-maker.  In this brave new world, a statement is taken as a claim that everyone should feel the same way; personal views are taken as either worthless or suitable for mandatory adoption by everyone.  It is little wonder that this state of affairs leads to a determined insistence that unfavorable views are not merely mistaken, but are worthless and dangerous.

Rebellion Mollified, Ethnic Cleansing as Metaphor
Historically, autonomous actors and free thinkers effected change through questioning.  But,

…The questioning has now reached an institutionally pathological stage in which it is nearly impossible to ascertain what one truly feels…
p. 66
…postemotional authoritarianism of the peer group represents such a “nice,” friendly, happy, and tolerant face that it prevents traditional types of rebellion.  It was easy to oppose Nazi ideology because it was so offensive, or even Communism, which, as [Thorstein] Veblen noted, threatened the capitalist’s pocketbook.  But who could justify an attack on “tolerance,” even if it is intolerant?
p. 67
As an example of the slipperiness with which postemotional society evades cogent examination, Meštrović notes that his students
…abhor political correctness even as they embrace it, in a sort of schizophrenia that makes genuine rebellion difficult….
p. 68
We find paradox everywhere: advocates of tolerance fanning intolerance, “nice” people providing cover for war crimes, information diluting understanding.  In general, we see the truth that attempts to control human instincts and tendencies through force or denial leads to eruption of these instincts and tendencies in indirect ways.  In the end, we find our age of high civilization, compassion fatigue, and tolerance beset by terrible barbarisms.
…Ethnic cleansing has already become a metaphor for our times, clearly visible not only in Bosnia but in the ethnic partition in many Western cities from Washington, DC, to London and Paris….
p. 68
It is no accident that, with admittedly much less at stake, the fantasy of cleansing unwanted elements has led to a thriving industry right here on dailykos.

The Authenticity Industry: A Disney Land of Happy Consciousness
Over a hundred years ago, thinkers were noticing the loss of authentic, spontaneous emotion and the resulting confusion of the will.  Many believed that during the twentieth century “Life would break through forms.”

… A more academic precursor to the concern with authenticity is to be found in the works of the Frankfurt School, particularly in the work of Walter Benjamin on aura and Herbert Marcuse on “happy consciousness.”  The previous fin de siècle was also concerned with spontaneous, genuine emotion as opposed to the modernist rationalization of feelings, and this concern is reflected in the works of Dostoevsky, Henry Adams, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Thorstein Veblen, Friedrich Nietzsche, Georg Simmel, Sigmund Freud, Emile Durkheim, Ferdinand Tonnies, and many other writers.
p. 73
Meštrović’s assessment in 1997 was gloomy:
…Contemporary mythologies and rituals seem unable to offer an escape from Eliot’s wasteland….  Machines have become a modernist habit of the mind….  A post-society society has emerged in which the authentic (community) is mass-produced artificially.  The notion of an artificial authentic community seems to be an oxymoron at first glance, but appears to be the meaning of Disneyland culture, the McDonaldization of society, Internet “communities,” and other anomalies that postmodernists have already uncovered.  It is no longer [Theodor] Adorno’s culture industry, but a new authenticity industry that seems to characterize postemotional societies.
p. 74
David Riesman’s The Lonely Crowd makes one wonder whether authenticity—in any of the senses used a century ago—is possible to achieve any longer.  As noted previously, Chris Rojek is right to conclude that for postmodernism authenticity is no longer an important issue. De-differentiation and the triumph of simulation have made it seem absurd to ask again, so many years after the 1960’s concern with authenticity, “What is genuine versus phony?” … To the extent that the problem enters contemporary discourse, it is phrased in cognitive terms of ascertaining the true, real, or original….
p. 74
… emotion, not just cognitive representations, is the object of contemporary simulation, virtual reality, and recycling.
p. 74
…  It is not the “reality” question that determines authenticity, but the spontaneous emotion…  Authenticity presupposes a community.
p. 75
All My Best Friends are on Television
I have noticed the skill with which television programs and especially commercials create in one the feeling of community, the visceral sense of interacting with friends.  It’s as though our emotions believe in the Magic Mirror of Romper Room, believe that we matter to the television Friends we love just as they matter to us.  Or perhaps we respond to the subconscious knowledge of being nothings with an increased desperation to do everything in our power to belong.
… Chris Rojek is right to claim that “the twentieth century has been the Disney century,” and that the Disneyesque refers to the general modernist tendency to seek escape.  (I would add that it should refer to the postemotional tendency to seek a perfectly manipulated community, complete with artificial emotions.)…
p. 76
If one is emotionally committed to an artificial community, there is no space for authentic community.  One interacts with friends as though in the presence of Jon Stewart or in Seinfeld’s living room.  Lost is a connection with the particular conditions of one’s individual life, with the vital significance of mutual self-interest.  Actual self-interest is modulated through an unexamined sense of belonging more fully to an imaginary community than to one’s actual community.  How is meaningful solidarity possible in such circumstances?
In the existing scholarly literature on the Disney phenomenon, one reads that Disney World is America’s pilgrimage site; that Marxism explains the class divisions in the consumption of Disney imagery; that Walt Disney’s family background explains the curious family interactions in the fictional lives of Disney characters; that Disney World represents the utopia of American values such as the desire for eternal childhood and the freedom from responsibility; that Disney World represents a New Right utopia of an all-heterosexual world and traditional views of male/female relationships; and so on.  [Max] Horkheimer and Adorno write that Disney cartoons
hammer into every brain the old lesson that . . . the breaking down of individual resistance is the condition of life in this society.  Donald Duck in the cartoons and the unfortunate in real life get their thrashing so that the audience can learn to take their punishment.
All this is well and fine, but the most obvious aspect of the Disney experience is missing in these analyses:  Disneyland, Disney World, and the Disney industry attempt to manufacture emotions.  More particularly, Disney World is an attempt to create an artificial community.
p. 76
I repeat here the distinction between group think based on emotional manipulation and solidarity arising from autonomous individuals motivated by emotional connection.  Attempts by a high-minded elite to wrest control of the mechanisms of manipulation from capitalists does not constitute a viable solution to the problem of self-government.
…The inner-directed type of a generation ago might have been able to imagine artificial emotional experiences in solitary confinement, so to speak.  But in line with Riesman’s analysis, the postemotional type must consume such experiences in a group….  The entire setting of Disneyland as well as Disney World is group-oriented and is meant to serve as an artificial community….
p. 77
…  McDonald’s promises the postemotional utopia of foolproof, friendly service in a “nice” atmosphere in which one is in the midst of a throng.
p. 78
…Thus, if America is Disneyland, as [Jean] Baudrillard suggests, it means that the emotional lives of Americans are being manipulated on a mass and highly organized scale.  Its real meaning is that Americans are duped and dupe themselves into believing that they live in the perfect community, free of racism, ethnic cleansing, and other uncivil phenomena relegated to the rest of the world….  Why would Americans and pilgrims from other Western industrialized nations seek out sites in which their emotions are manipulated such that they “experience” the perfect family life, the perfect community, the perfect Enlightenment ideal and other unreal emotional utopias?  These are among the new questions that the concept of postemotionalism exposes.
p. 78
"The emotional lives of Americans are being manipulated on a mass and highly organized scale."  And emotions triumph over reason.  To me, the bombing of Libya demonstrated the seemingly effortless manner in which emotional manipulation led to support of policy, all seamlessly carried out such that most Americans felt they were mobilizing their rational faculties in order to participate in democratic decision-making.  Setting aside that the decision to bomb was made independent of public opinion (Dick Cheney's "So what?" continues to define the relation between US government war-making and public opinion), even more insidious is the ease with which three days of calculated CNN, Fox, and MSNBC coverage led even war-hating liberal Americans to conclude that they had little moral choice but to support intervention, this despite all they knew about the record of US duplicity and war-mongering over several decades.  The moment I saw a mainstream television segment highlighting the plight of rebels in Libya, I knew that my government would soon be bringing its military resources to bear in the region, and that most Americans would support the action.  Nonetheless, I was painfully unprepared for the extent to which the liberal community would follow the bouncing ball of "benign" U.S. imperialism.
…post-emotions are quasi-emotions in that they partake of the passion-idea dualism simultaneously….
p. 78
… The Enlightenment project is clearly is disarray and one is hard pressed to believe that authentic myth or authentic community or authentic anything will save humankind….
p. 79
Meštrović identifies two aspects of modernity which are in tension but mutually present.  Put simply, Modernity 1 represents the rational, machine-oriented, controlled aspect while Modernity 2 is the irrational, emotional force of disorder.  While theorists have typically chosen sides and argued for one or the other as definitive of modernity, Meštrović holds that adequate understanding will be furthered by accepting the presence of both tendencies
…Modernity 1 has entered a new phase in which it seeks to order and control an aspect of Modernity 2 that has always been seen as the most autonomous and unruly aspect of human social life, namely, the emotions….
p. 79
I Have to Stop Somewhere
There is much more to this analysis.  I have the quotes cued and ready to go, but it would not be “nice” for me to demand more time from an already patient audience.  It looks as though this will need to be a two-part project.  Next time we will look at Meštrović’s discussion of communitarians with respect to the implications of postemotion, at the repressive lessons of Barney and Friends, and at further defining of our Disneyesque, McDonaldized culture.  I’ll leave with these quotes as teasers for next time, the first two because they name the essence of the challenge, the last because it is stunningly powerful, even prophetic, having been written almost fifty years ago.
…knowledge alone is insufficient for establishing communities, because communities are held together by sentiments, not cognition….
p. 94
The present discussion of postemotionalism suggests that words are no longer adequate substitutes for deeds.
p. 90
From One-Dimensional Man [1964] by Herbert Marcuse:
Loss of conscience due to satisfactory liberties granted by an unfree society makes for a happy consciousness which facilitates acceptance of the misdeeds of this society.  It is the token of declining autonomy and comprehension.
Happy consciousness is commensurate with Riesman’s focus on the other-directed type’s obsession with niceness, and, of course, culminates in the McDonald’s happy meal.  Marcuse elaborates:
The Happy Consciousness—the belief that the real is rational and that the system delivers the goods—reflects the new conformism which is a facet of technological rationality translated into social behavior….  Torture has been introduced as a normal affair, but in a colonial war which takes place at the margin of the civilized world.  And there it is practiced with good conscience for war is war….  Otherwise, peace reigns…”the Community is too well off to care!”
p. 82
My postemotionally “dear friends” and virtual neighbors, the real is not rational and the system most definitely is NOT delivering the goods.
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Comment Preferences

  •  tip jar (36+ / 0-)

    The news is discouraging.  This is problematic in two ways.  It calls into question membership in the happy consciousness of the peer group, thus making these claims more likely to be rejected without due consideration.  And then there is the raw fact that the news is actually bad.

    Otoh, understanding these phenomena is surely a necessary step if we are to avoid spinning our wheels in circular and unempowered discussion, mistaking the simulated for the authentic.  It may look like food while containing no nutritive value. It may seem green while doing nothing to tackle environmental degradation.  It may look like democracy while remaining stubbornly unresponsive.  It is time to leave behind magical thinking.  More on that next time.

    Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

    by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 12:55:42 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, this is kind of Marcusean... (10+ / 0-)

      I'm surprised not to see more of One-Dimensional Man here... my favorite Marcuse is the part at the beginning of Eros and Civilization in which he outlines the principle of capitalist discipline as the "performance principle."

      However, it can be said that the various marxist critiques of the capitalist system always cite the "crisis of capitalism" as some great talisman to ward off the owning class faith ("economics") that the capitalist system will last into eternity.  Marcuse suggests this too, in his idea that the system's promotion of eros will at some point massively contradict its own simultaneous promotion of surplus repression.

      Needless to say, crisis theory as a whole hasn't worked, and so now we are at the point where, well, as Slavoj Zizek said:

      Today... we can easily imagine the extinction of human life, of the human race, or the end of the life on earth, but it is impossible to imagine a much more modest change of the social system — as if, even if the whole life on earth disappears, capitalism will somehow remain intact. Again, it's possible to imagine the end of the world; it's not possible to imagine the end of capitalism.

      The problem is that the word "crisis" doesn't mean anything in a marxist sense absent an accounting of the means through which the capitalist system perpetuates itself.  In a happy-hour conversation I had last night, a friend of a friend remarked, "capitalism always finds a way to weasel out of whatever crisis it finds itself in," to which I remarked, "but it's important to consider in this regard what the capitalists DO to weasel out of each crisis."  

      Economic crises prior to World War I (and there were many) were typically matters to be solved by expanding the frontiers of society.  The Panic of 1837 made life difficult for lots of people -- but many of them responded by moving westward and occupying the lands of First Nations peoples.  Life after World War I offered a different story, in which the first contradiction of capitalism, the tendency to overproduce while at the same time starving effective demand, had to be overcome by the creation of a permanent consumer class, a class of people whose lives were devoted to buying things and who were supported economically by (in some version or other) the political state.  In the 1940s, the drift toward a socialist society in the US and elsewhere amidst the Great Depression, abetted by the Communist Party's endorsement of a "united front" (see e.g. Michael Denning's The Cultural Front for a balance sheet of the commitment it received), was halted by World War II and the creation of a consumer society around automobiles, television, movies, airplanes, chemicals, and petroleum amidst the surplus repression of McCarthyism.  

      Now it is difficult to see how the capitalist system is going to weasel its way out of the current crisis.  Not only is it difficult to see how capitalism will grow its way out of the current crisis (despite all of the best wishes of bobswern and others here at Kos); it's difficult to see how growth would even save capitalism.  The rapid global spread of the Internet, for instance, did not prevent the downturn of '08-'09.  We are up against a limit that is not quite the "limits to growth" but which bears a number of resemblances to the predictions of Donella Meadows et al.  If immediate community is to save itself in light of this new situation (call it post-post-emotional or whatever), then it will have to become post-capitalist.

      "You must do what you feel is right, of course." Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

      by Cassiodorus on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 05:59:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That was my point exactly about the notion (4+ / 0-)

        of crisis and crisis theory:

        The problem is that the word "crisis" doesn't mean anything in a marxist sense absent an accounting of the means through which the capitalist system perpetuates itself.

        An economic crisis does not mean the end of the system; they result continually due to the forces of motion within the system ... getting rid of redundant capital to restore profitablilty is one of the most important parts of the crisis along with further centralisation of capital.

        The system will never fall due to an economic crisis, what we need is the subjective component, the organised humanity that will finally bring an end to it. I do agree that we are finally starting to see limits to the endless growth in the system due to the constraints of the planet's survival which were not really relevant until now; but growth does not always occur due to expanding the frontier; more often it arises from intensification of the production process combined with sufficient effective demand to further growth. The extension of the market to 3rd world countries and others previously out of reach can keep economic growth for the system going (if not for the majority in the advanced capitalist world; think of small enclaves of very wealthy people and large areas of not very comfortable people ... that is the future in the advanced capitalist world; sort of how the 3rd world has been but where we live and how things were at an earlier time in the system).

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 06:14:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It is not a self-correcting system. (4+ / 0-)
          The system will never fall due to an economic crisis, what we need is the subjective component, the organised humanity that will finally bring an end to it.

          Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

          by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 06:34:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, I can't agree with that. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lams712, An Affirming Flame

            I know that this sort of thinking is also promoted by Paul Burkett (Marx and Nature), but I disagree.  Capitalism could quite possibly extinguish itself due to economic crisis, and people who think "no, that's impossible" just don't have a wicked enough imagination to dream up the sort of horrific economic crisis that could put an end to the system as a whole.

            "You must do what you feel is right, of course." Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

            by Cassiodorus on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 08:07:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  We aren't disagreeing (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassiodorus, An Affirming Flame

              The choices I see are human extinction or near-extinction and human solidarity demanding a system which can support human life.  When I say it is not a self-correcting system, I'm agreeing with you.  Addiction makes it unlikely for capitalism to extinguish without a horrendous "crisis."  I believe the appropriate and literally accurate model is of the monkeys who were hooked up to brain stimulators.  They could pull a lever and stimulate the pleasure centers.  The ones who were allowed to died pulling that fucking lever.

              Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

              by geomoo on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 06:00:03 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Great stuff, Cass. (8+ / 0-)

        That quote from Marcuse blew me away.  This was 1964.  The situation he describes has become more well-defined since he wrote, and he hit the nail on the head.

        I read this entire comment with interest.  Tell me if the following is too naive to have useful meaning.  Is it meaningful to strip the notion of capitalism from its many complications down to simply meaning those who control capital control society?  If so, one can imagine the situation on Rapa Nui as theorized by Diamond in which rival chiefs competed to cut down all the boat-making trees essential for survival in order to build the largest monuments to their own egos.  (This theory has been disputed, but I find it a useful idea nonetheless.  No observant human would find such a scenario to be far-fetched.)  Iow, a crisis is either when the wealthy face disruptions in their life styles or when the poor are so desperate they may actually cause discomfort for the wealthy.  To the point of this diary, postemotionalism makes it much easier to prevent the starving people from translating their misery into anything approaching an effective challenge.  It is easy for me to imagine extremely wealthy people driving the human race into the ditch with insane howls of pleasure at their own power in being able to race so fast.

        Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

        by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 06:29:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There also has to be a capitalist discipline. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lams712, geomoo

          In order to keep the working class working for the system, the system has to be maintained through capitalist discipline -- people have to be made to work to keep it going.  I don't know if any material disruption would cause a corresponding disruption in capitalist discipline -- tho my friend Kees van der Pijl suggests that there could be a point at which planet Earth and its human society say "enough" to capitalist discipline, and simply stop working.

          "You must do what you feel is right, of course." Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

          by Cassiodorus on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 08:25:01 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You've really got to stop making assumptions... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            geomoo, NY brit expat

            ...about my philosophical leanings.

            I'm a supporter of the New Keynesian school of economic thought; and that means I support heavy interdiction by the state.  In fact, I'd go as far as to say that some folks refer to New Keynesian thinkers as socialists; but, of course, we all know that's not quite true. More of a social democratic "thing," to use a technical term . That being said, we are at a point of converging emergencies in our society (nationally and globally), where the only rational way out of this mess is for more socialistic governance to come to bear, at least amongst those societies that wish to land on their feet, when all's said and done. The only real, remaining question is, IMHO: will this occur before or after societal conditions get much, much worse?

            "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

            by bobswern on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 12:10:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well OK... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              geomoo

              I concede the point -- have whatever philosophical beliefs you want -- but if you're an ecosocialist in the school of Joel Kovel, Saral Sarkar, John Bellamy Foster, Joan Martinez-Alier, James O'Connor, Minqi Li, and the group at CNS, you sure have a funny way of expressing it.

              "You must do what you feel is right, of course." Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

              by Cassiodorus on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 06:27:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  my husband is a neokeynesian that is a (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                geomoo, Cassiodorus

                socialist; that does not mean he is a marxist economist by any means ... he is still a mainstream economist, but his politics guides economic decisions, but those decisions are still trapped within mainstream discussions. He simply does not get the analysis I use from a Sraffian/marxist perspective as the manner in which he understands the economy differs considerably.

                "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                by NY brit expat on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 06:45:40 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How can a NEOKeynesian, in any way, also... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  geomoo, NY brit expat

                  ...be considered to have socialist leanings? New Keynesians and neo-Keynesians are quite different, IMHO. Think: Paul Krugman/Joe Stiglitz vs. Larru Summers.

                  "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

                  by bobswern on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 12:12:55 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  sorry bob, typed neokeynesian when I (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    geomoo

                    meant new keynesian ... had the neos on my mind; actually this is the really weird thing that most people do not understand about economics. With the exception of marxists (whose political and economic theories are one) and the austrians, people of the mainstream of economics  hold various political positions using the same or variants of the same theory ... their politics guide how they use the theory. I have met right-wing post keynesians and socialists new keynesians ... Knut Wicksell (one of the main consolidators of the theory was a socialist), Nicholas Kaldor (before he left the mainstream) attempted to allow for income redistribution in the Kaldor compensation tests (he realised that this was impossible in the theory due to the revaluation that occurs when income is redistributed). What has happened is that many of the mainstream become uncomfortable with the restrictions of the theory. My husband has always been a socialist (along the lines of bernie sanders, but to the left of him), yet he is trapped in the mainstream of economic theory and was a student of Frank Hahn while I was a student of Pierangelo Garegnani (whom joked that I was sleeping with the enemy, not really a joke).

                    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                    by NY brit expat on Tue Jun 28, 2011 at 07:33:17 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Lookup Joe Stiglitz' extensive work on... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Cassiodorus, geomoo

                ...all things ecological, from climate change to alternative energy. The guy's virtually as much of an eco-activist as he is an economist!

                "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

                by bobswern on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 12:15:55 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  I hope you don't think I'm just being nice... (13+ / 0-)

    when I thank you for this extremely thought-provoking diary.

    Some of the more pessimistic implications of this diary are borne out by things I'm reading about the difficulties encountered in the movements in Spain, Greece and Wisconsin (aside from the usual attempts to herd into the veal pen).

    Your application of this analysis to what occurs in DK is especially cogent.  It makes one wonder if we should also shut off the damn computer and spend more time relating to flesh-and-blood human beings.

    •  You're welcome, thank you very much, etc. (8+ / 0-)

      I'm not spending much time on line these days.  As I came to understand this analysis--it takes a little living with--I moved from discouragement over what happens here on dkos to being convinced that little of it will have an impact in the real world.  But it is very, very challenging to turn away from what looks so much like vibrant discussion of real world matters.

      Meanwhile in meat world, my continual pointing out of postemotional phenomena now that I see them everywhere has my company wearing a bit thin.  But hanging out with annoying people is certainly a part of community.

      Thank you so much for reading.  Have a nice day.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:22:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Affinity groups and counter cultures. (9+ / 0-)

    The need for close-knit groups to whom individuals were accountable along with the need to create not an alternative society but a counter-society is one of the things that made the Anarchist/CNT movement in Spain between 1917 and 1937 successful.  The challenge in our more media-dominated age is even greater, and perhaps the need for similar strategies greater as well.

    •  That is an encouraging thought. (8+ / 0-)

      Meštrović, in a suggestion that feels desperate to me, suggest the formation of what he calls guilds.  Something.

      Of course, nothing binds like working side by side.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:24:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think that this is an excellent point and (7+ / 0-)

      also counter-point; it relates to one of my quibbles with the diary which is that people joined revolutionary movements and worked together to bring serious change not to replicate what we have now but with power relations reversed, but to create both societies working counter to what existed and to develop relations and to move towards a completely new phenomena, a society without power relations.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:27:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  in this sense, the counter develops from (4+ / 0-)

        within the opposition to the current system which they can serve as the basis for a new society, I don't know if I am explaining it correctly, but it is more than the "thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis" point, the change is more an organic outgrowth from how we learn to treat each other. My language is failing me in explaining this ...

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:32:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Keep trying, dear. Some of it is coming through. (4+ / 0-)

          I don't yet understand how this is a quibble with the diary.  If I am understanding you, you may be confusing my warnings against the inefficacy of reversing power relationships with a claim that prior successful revolutions did just that.  My thinking on these lines more concerns the present, in which I sense discussants competing for opinion-maker status rather than discussing among equals in order to formulate a mutual response in solidarity.  The infamous use of "professional left" by other self-identified members of the left is an example to me of confusing competing for dominant status with a truly coherent  response.

          All that being said, I still don't fully understand your point, which seems an interesting one.

          Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

          by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:38:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Let me switch this to a different angle (7+ / 0-)

            and see if I am clearer. If you read some older authors of the Left, there is a distinction between what is called agitation and propaganda (this is not propaganda in the manner that we mean them today). Specifically agitation was a short pamphlet around a specific issue whose purpose was to not necessarily win someone over in a rational manner but dealt with some serious injustice and which tried to target people's emotions to win them over. Propaganda usually referred to a longer piece that appealed both to rational argument as well as emotion to explain why something was wrong and to try and win people over.

            These are things that had different purposes; if you look at diaries on the site, we can see different examples of each style. I always unfortunately tend toward the latter and am not great at the former (people tell me I overintellectualise too much and they are correct). I am thinking that reintroducing the ability to actually feel real empathy, sympathy and solidarity is the only way to combat emotional malaise so characteristic of how modern society has been manipulated. I also think that grassroots movements where people work side by side together to build something is an important way to breakthrough the false relationships that are essential to keeping this society functioning.

            Now, to get back to what I was talking about above. Part of the struggle to build a new society required eliminating the social relationships based upon exploitation and oppression that are so important to how capitalist systems functions. In the process of building change and new groups not based upon exploitation and oppression but rather true respect, solidarity and accountability to our comrades, we are building a new method of human interaction and a new society which becomes a template towards the future. Ok, that is what I was trying to say above; the things that I need to do to get to a conclusion are amazing. It was a positive message to try and counter some of the disillusionment in your piece. :)

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:52:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thank you for that effort. (5+ / 0-)

              Very interesting.  I appreciate positive.  As you consider these notions, you will be compelled to confront what it means that today, people are practiced in trying on emotions, then discarding them.  I had meant to mention the NBA negotiations.  The millionaire players wore shirts to negotiations depicting a line of people with locked arms and the message "Stand Strong."  It looked and felt like traditional union solidarity.  My guess is that it was postemotional.  They are trying on the feeling of being union activists with none of the risk, desperation, or actual willingness to take a billy club for the next guy over.  When attempting to build an authentic movement, one would be wise to remain ever alert to the ways in which postemotional types play out emotions.

              grassroots movements where people work side by side together to build something is an important way to breakthrough the false relationships that are essential to keeping this society functioning.

              At my first wedding, my wife read the last line of the following, by Kahlil Gibran.  The entire poem is wise.  I believe work is key to solidarity.  Make of the god part what you will.

              You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
              And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
              And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
              And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
              And all work is empty save when there is love;
              And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.

              Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

              by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:10:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  i have to go now but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            geomoo

            have been enjoying this discussion, as an intelligent, educated person who hasn't "studied" in this vein, and will follow hereafter as a result

            what's here in the diary and comments is provoking my consciousness of having understood what's been going on since i came of age in the 60's; that is, sensing the control of the populace being exerted by the owners (gore vidal) and the feeling of personal powerless leading to degradation of sensitivity to outrage

            i'm grateful to have found this site in kos, a community with at least some serious souls

        •  The means must reflect the ends. (6+ / 0-)

          Or perhaps more along the lines of your thought, the means become the ends?

  •  Excellent and thought provoking diary geomoo (7+ / 0-)

    and I think that you raise several interesting points. I have small quibbles in the introduction, but they are quibbles; there are some points that I would love to discuss and debate with you on human self-interest being a learned or inherent tendency beyond its most simplistic fundamentals. However, I really have learned something and am actually thinking about what you have written here. I have always viewed emotion far more relating to moral issues (sentiment) and as something capable of manipulation by the cynical, but have never thought about the replacement of true emotion by manipulated, group-think and the replacement of reality for said false manipulated group-think in this type of detail. So am very grateful.

    I am looking forward to the second part of the diary. thanks so very much!

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:22:44 PM PDT

    •  You are welcome. (5+ / 0-)

      The idea of quasi-intellectual emotions is challenging, not least because emotion is such an ephemeral thing, often operating subconsciously.  I can tell you for myself that I now am seeing this phenomenon everywhere I look.  For me, this is an eye-opener.

      You are probably way ahead of me on the question you raise concerning human self-interest.  I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts on that issue.  This whole discussion is full of paradox, which makes clarity a challenge.

      I'm so glad you are considering these ideas.  Warning--the more you consider them, the more you come to realize the extent of the challenge of overcoming them.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:30:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I have over-read many enlightenment (5+ / 0-)

        political philosophical and economic authors so I have been thinking too much on this topic for too long. I really need to sit down and get my thoughts together, but much literature has either championed self-interest or altruism as the basis of human behaviour and far too many general conclusions (that are often not based on coherent observation or theoretical consistency) has resulted. Much of what is deemed innate behaviour beyond the basic fundamentals  is actually behaviour reinforced by society and/or religion rather than what can be deemed innate human behaviour. Separating these things are rather difficult; does self-interest force us into human society or is human society in and of itself important for humans beyond the needs of self-interest? I am thinking aloud ...

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:38:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What I appreciate most about Meštrović (4+ / 0-)

          is that he is adding human emotion to analysis that has largely treated humans as rational actors.  I expect much of the analysis you mention suffers from this flaw, with research and theorizing done by people with an unrealistic opinion of the extent to which they themselves are governed by reason.   Part two will have some thoughts on the way the Enlightenment has been treated synthetically involving pure reason, when the Enlightenment also was religious wars and mass executions.

          I firmly believe that, without an emotional commitment to a group, humans are essentially exploitative in their relations with nature and with others.  I believe this is unavoidable, even for well-meaning good-hearted people.  Perhaps there are a few rare, saintly, exceptions to this.

          Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

          by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:54:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am not convinced that humans actually (5+ / 0-)

            function outside of a group context and still function in an human context. I do agree that an individual on its own, without an emotional commitment to a group, will probably enable that the survival instinct in its most base form will take over; but even in the most basic of human interaction (by that I mean interaction not with your telly or with virtual friends) emotions are an essential component of any living society at any level. Groups force us to curb our immediate needs for longer-term needs that go beyond the individuals themselves to the group; hence our personal needs are not only the ones expressed, the needs of the group become essential to us as well due to that emotional link.

            But, even in smaller groups, leaving fruit for others that is beyond our immediate or short-term needs is not unreasonable; the fruit will spoil. I am wondering if we are looking at things from the point of view also of western civilisation and modern western civilisation based upon waste while others starve; this is not necessarily the case in other civilisations at different periods and in contemporary societies outside of the west. The demand for hospitality for visitors is an ancient tradition in many cultures; ensuring the next harvest or next hunting period by not killing every animal is normal behaviour. This choice is beyond immediate self-interest and concerned with not only individual survival.

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:11:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes to all that. (5+ / 0-)

              For father's day I was given the book Super Cooperators:  Altruism, Evolution, and Why We Need Each Other to Succeed.  I haven't begun it yet, but I expect it will have a lot to say about these questions.  I'll give you a report.

              Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

              by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:33:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Cool, looking forward to it ... (3+ / 0-)

                actually I was wondering if you have ever read Ariel Dorfman's stuff on disney? aka how to read donald duck?

                http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                it discusses how disney is a deliberate agent in american cultural imperialism ... thought you may enjoy it, although it is a bit different from the perspective here.

                "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:38:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Haven't read it. Sounds interesting. nt (3+ / 0-)

                  Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

                  by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:39:32 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  it addresses the use of disney to deliberately (3+ / 0-)

                    spread ideas of the US in terms of both its culture, commercialism ... very nice ... it is an essay on deliberate manipulation practiced by disney as agent for US capitalism and society. Dorfman is a chilean writer ... it differs from this, but I think you will find it useful to bring some things into context.

                    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

                    by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:51:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Mestrovic discusses the cultural resistance of Eur (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      lams712, NY brit expat

                      describing the failure of traditional French cafes, which were a haven for inner-directed types, due in part to the need of modern people to experience everything as a group.  He also discusses the changes the Dutch needed to make to Efteling (sp?) in order to appeal to an outer-directed clientele.

                      A kossack, I wish so much I could remember who, once commented to me that he had been in sales some years ago.  The big challenge was how to reach inner directed types.  Without explaining, he said that they had found a way.

                      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

                      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 06:40:41 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

  •  "All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace" (10+ / 0-)

    Adam Curtis' latest explores some similar issues from an entirely different starting point.  He too sees an age where we have given up on changing things, much less working together to do so.  As is typical for him, he finds the source of the problem with some ideologies that we have adopted almost unknowingly.

    Worth watching.

  •  Nice! n/t (5+ / 0-)

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. -Benjamin Franklin

    by martinjedlicka on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:35:53 PM PDT

  •  Great Diary, so much here, (9+ / 0-)

    and it's right up my alley. I read and think about this stuff a lot. I am still determined to live an authentic, inner-directed life and it's damned difficult, let me tell you. I don't speak "their" emotional language and for this reason, though my motives are pure and my ethics impeccable, I am often the object of suspicion. It is my opinion that the influence of television on the group "mind" cannot be overestimated. Consider high-profile criminals. Guilt or innocence is often not as important as whether or not the criminal "shows remorse". Failure to "show remorse" is considered the equivalent of guilt. Or you may be watching Wimbledon coverage. Watch the behavior of the winners, the emotional display. This is for television, emotion draws viewers, it is the lifeblood of the medium. Remember Ivan Lendl ? He was a machine, he won a lot but showed no emotion. The television people didn't like it and tennis players are now coached to jump up and down and fall to the ground and make fools of themselves because the viewers expect it.

    •  Cannot be over-estimated. (8+ / 0-)

      And now include film, the internet, cell phones--similar impact.  One of the more discouraging statements from Meštrović is something to the effect that understanding this is going on does not necessarily do any good.

      Your comment reminds me of a quote I've been trying to remember recently, something about how honesty is dangerous in corrupt times.

      The last time I remember widespread authentic emotion on our major media was during the first two or three days following the 9/11 attacks.  The predominant emotion was some version of grief or sorrow.  Then the sobs were stifled, the flags came out, and a deadly false pride has infected our nation since.

      Thanks for maintaining an authentic presence.  It may be the most radical act of our time.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:47:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for that. At more than a few "healthy (7+ / 0-)

    communities" conferences I've encountered Rojek's post-touristic world -- and what that means for place-based development. I did not know of Meštrović, so it appears I have some catching up to do. Nicely done.

    stay together / learn the flowers / go light - Gary Snyder

    by Mother Mags on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:42:48 PM PDT

    •  I'm glad this was helpful. (7+ / 0-)

      There will be extensive discussion of the "healthy communities" ideas in Part II, so I hope you make it.  To whet your appetite, here are a couple of quotes:

      …Communitarians seek to promote an idealized vision of community, minus its negative characteristics, that can supposedly exist alongside an increasingly bureaucratized, rational-legal, artificial, cold, and individualistic society.  For those who take Tonnies seriously, this is an impossible state of affairs, and constitutes postemotional magical thinking.
      pp. 95 – 96

      Etzioni writes of a “properly constructed” community.  Such a notion is again in line with the cult of the machine uncovered by thinkers from Tonnies through Henry Adams to George Orwell, ans is one of he most problematical aspects of communitarianism. . . .  If modernists can flavor penicillin to taste like bubble gum and have a pink color so that children will ingest it, why not “flavor” bureaucracy with selected, nice elements of community so that the masses will consume it?  It is my contention that a “properly constructed” community can never be genuine.
      p. 96

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 03:57:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In this quote (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    geomoo, NY brit expat, bsmechanic, lams712
    …postemotional authoritarianism of the peer group represents such a “nice,”

    he means "presents" not "represents" right?

    (still reading)

    •  To me your wording is an improvement, (5+ / 0-)

      but I believe the other reading can come to nearly the same thing, which is that something is being represented by the peer group.  In fact, "re" "presented" is an interesting word in light of the notion of synthetic recycled emotions.  In a sense, the emotions are being "re" presented rather than presented once spontaneously.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:16:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think that represents is correct, but (4+ / 0-)

      I will leave that to geomoo whom has a far better understanding of the writer and his intentions.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:16:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Digesting (7+ / 0-)

    Overall, I see the truths and the value in the post-emotional theory but I find it to be too extreme and too cynical.  I do think that this exists but I do not believe it is as all consuming as described and I also have more optimism for human nature.  In other words, I don't think we are doomed to this.  We are social animals.

    The other thing I disagree with is that virtual communities cannot function in some of the ways that face to face contact communities can.  They are evolving.  I am seeing ways that people find to use the technology/tools to interact in many of the same ways that we do interact face to face.  People may have said the same things about radio or the telephone.

    The things that did give me a very icy and dreadful feeling in what I read here were the things about peer groups (much too much to encapsulate here in a comment) but those things rang very true to me, and not just here at dkos, this is the type of society I grew up in, the irish catholic world, and now the nice suburban town world, where conformity is necessary and real change is difficult or impossible because revolutionary ideas are suppressed:

    ...Being nice is an intricate act that involves the manipulation of self and others in highly predictable and deliberate ways, including: one’s physical appearance, language, tone, eye contact, choice of clothing, smile, choice and length of conversation, among a myriad of other factors....  Note that “niceness” is a synthetic, feigned, and ultimately insincere form of friendliness....
    p. 51

    Oh, and this part, well that scares the hell out of me because it rings too true and because I loathe it:

    Part of the problem is that in other-directed societies it is nearly impossible to tell truth from falsehood because, in Riesman’s words, the individual “is judged for his attitude toward the audience, an attitude which is either sincere or insincere, rather than by his relation to his craft, that is, his honesty and skill.”  But, “just because such a premium is put on sincerity, a premium is put on faking it.”  Postemotional society has reached a phase in its development in which it values insincere sincerity, synthetic candor, feigned frankness, and affected openness….  So long as one is “nice” in one’s presentation, one can get away with just about any truth-claim.
    p. 57

    In conclusion, I do not feel up to the task of digesting and analyzing all of this.  But FWIW, one thing that does pop into my mind is that perhaps all of this is a result of overpopulation and as a result having become too civilized.  Maybe all of this is a natural evolution of having so many people in close proximity.  I wonder if we were meant to live this way.  But living in this highly evolutionary world, it is hard to say whether we were meant to live in any particular way. We adapt to our environment.  But until we fully adapt, there might be uncomfortable periods and maybe this is one of them.  I don't know.  As I said, it is just a thought, FWIW.

    •  Obviously, you read carefully. (5+ / 0-)

      These ideas require a lot of time to digest.  I have re-read each chapter at least three times.  It is just starting to come into clear focus.

      You mention evolution, which your comment had already brought to mind.  Who is to say where these changes will lead?  Who is to say what will break through?  I do believe that we can unrealistically consider ourselves free of these behaviors, that we can over-estimate our degree of autonomy.  To that I can only say, I hope people will practice honest self-scrutiny.  We live in a delusional time.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:30:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What about stuff like eHarmony? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    geomoo, Nada Lemming, lams712
    So long as we confuse facebook groups and dailykos with authentic community, our commitment to the welfare of our fellow humans will remain far too tepid to actualize meaningful change.

    You know, they promise authentic community with another human being... on a website...

    "You must do what you feel is right, of course." Obi-Wan Kenobi, in Episode IV

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:49:31 PM PDT

  •  Big difference between "nice" and "kind. (6+ / 0-)

    Nice: I act in an effort to control one's impression of me.

    Kind: I act towards another as I would like to be treated. This one doesn't intentionally invoke smileys.

    Great diary, geomoo. Lots of food for thought here.

    "Keep Looking Up" was my life's admonition; I can do little else in my present position. --- astronomer Jack Horkheimer (1938-2010), self-penned epitaph

    by bsmechanic on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 04:53:09 PM PDT

  •  thanks for diary... (6+ / 0-)

    This really struck me ...

    Postemotional society has reached a phase in its development in which it values insincere sincerity, synthetic candor, feigned frankness, and affected openness….  So long as one is “nice” in one’s presentation, one can get away with just about any truth-claim.

    I've been seeing this here at dkos.

    I am an emotional type, my presentation isn't always nice. I have learned here at dkos there is a price to pay for not conforming.

    •  I used to think it was conscious dishonesty (6+ / 0-)

      perhaps even psyops.  After studying these ideas, I think most of it is unconscious, which is actually more depressing.  And, yes, I really do know exactly what you are talking about.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 05:19:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure this is anything new... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lams712, NY brit expat, geomoo

      Persian culture, for example, has for centuries had the concept of ta'arof, which is basically just excessively praising someone while excessively humbling oneself.  It's entirely fake, but you still have to do it.  It's not only expected, it's required.  If you don't ta'arof, you are considered rude, uneducated, or an ignorant foreigner.  So, I don't really think that this postemotional emphasis on "nice" is anything that hasn't been already been around for a long time.

      Article 196. Health is the right of all and the obligation of the State, guaranteed through social and economic policies that provide... universal and equitable access to programs and services for its promotion, protection, and recuperation.

      by SLKRR on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 07:08:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I disagree strongly (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        An Affirming Flame

        Ritualistic behavior is quite different from postemotionalism.  Ritualistic behavior involves the sacred.  With postemotionalism, the sacred is lost, or rather, because inauthentic and negotiable.

        I considered asking at the outset that folks not assume they could read through the diary and understand the concept.  It isn't that easy to grasp.

        What the Persians did not have is television.  On television, emotions are aroused, for example, simply to associate a certain feeling with a certain product.  Commercials these days often don't even bother to claim their product is effective, cheaper, or better in any way.  Often they do not explain what the product does.  They merely associate an emotion with the product.  This is readily seen.  By participating in this experience and many others like it, other-directed people have grown accustomed to manipulation of feeling or, more precisely, have come to have a relationship with feeling in which they are something one can put on and off.

        Imagine if someone suggested that the praising ritual could be more fun if practiced in some new way.  Such playful suggestions are readily entertained by Westerners, especially Americans, with respect to nearly every ritual.  Our sacred has become inauthentic sacred, and is easily manipulated.  It was a matter of three days to make Americans consider the "protection" of Libyan freedom fighters to be a sacred trust of the U.S.  It would be just as easily to convince Americans not to care a fig for the safety of Libyan freedom fighters.

        Mestrovic devotes an entire chapter to "The Disappearance of the Sacred."  In short, in postemotional rituals, there is no "spontaneous collective communion."

        I would ask you to consider this issue further.

        Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

        by geomoo on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 07:21:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  should be "becomes inauthentic and negotiable" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          An Affirming Flame

          Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

          by geomoo on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 07:52:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I follow you... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          geomoo

          I wasn't trying to say that older cultures are the same as postemotional ones.  I was referring directly to the quote in the comment above which speaks about giving value to insincere sincerity, false candor, etc.  This is certainly present in ta'arof, where exaggerated false generosity can be valued more than actual generosity.

          Of course, it's also important to consider that ta'arof is probably being seen through a postemotional lens these days, too.  Persian culture has gone through shocks of modernity in the 20th century, just like anywhere else in the world.

          Article 196. Health is the right of all and the obligation of the State, guaranteed through social and economic policies that provide... universal and equitable access to programs and services for its promotion, protection, and recuperation.

          by SLKRR on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 04:04:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry I misread you. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            SLKRR

            Your comment stimulated a lot of rumination for me as I was gardening this afternoon.  I realized that an aspect of ta'arof which neither of us mentioned is connected with the notion that the only force which can overcome the human tendency toward exploitation is authentic emotional commitment to a group.  It seems ta'arof is a ritualistic expression of such a commitment.

            So, I was thinking about the emotional aspect of the ritual, how does it feel to the participants?  Of course, ritual can be empty, and I agree that likely modernity has done a number on the value of ta'arof.  Still, I was imagining of there were such a custom on dailykos, how it would affect our relations here.  It can't be easy to humble yourself to someone you dislike; I believe there is real value in having to do so, the value being that the act makes real one's setting selfish concerns as secondary to group concerns.  What one is saying is that "I value my membership in this group, in my village, more than I value my own personal feelings toward this person."  Also, there surely is varying degree of skill in carrying out the obligation.  I expect that much can be learned from reading the hints of insincerity, even hostility, in the ritual.  One can think, this is someone whose commitment to the group is suspect, someone who is struggling with his personal feelings.  There is value in having the society acknowledge such as a problem, although the sincere insincerity surely is a problem here.  Finally, I was thinking of the binding power of such a ritual.  Imagine seeing someone you know dislikes you performing the ritual with commitment.  That would give rise to the feeling, "He doesn't like me, but he is still humbling himself.  I can work with this person.  I know that he, like me, is willing to put his private concerns aside for the benefit of the group."

            I believe it goes without saying that modern Americans are fundamentally incapable of anything approaching such behaviors.

            I am flattered that you follow me.  Thank you.  I'm afraid you won't be seeing much more, but who can tell.  Thanks for the stimulating comment.  I think there is still more to learn by considering it.

            Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

            by geomoo on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 05:40:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Diary Schedule: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nada Lemming, lams712

    July 3,  2011:        NYBritExpat  (U.K. public workers strike of 6/30/11)
    July 10, 2011:        Justina (Use of National History in Developing Revolutionary Spirit, U.S. and Venezuela.)  
    July 17, 2011:           Johnnythebandit
    July 24, 2011:          Geminijen (Cooperatives and the Cooperative  Movement.)
    July 31, 2011:

    We have the 31st open and all of the month of august. If anyone has a diary or an idea for a diary, please contact either goinsouth, justina or ny brit expat here or at the anti-capitalist group: dkanticapitalistgroup@gmail.com

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 06:25:54 PM PDT

  •  Good to see you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lams712, geomoo, NY brit expat

    and good to read something that's worth reading.  Still processing this.  

    Brokn finger. Harder to pick ,\my nose. Typing is about the same.

    by Nada Lemming on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 07:28:35 PM PDT

  •  Extremely interesting and difficult diary to (4+ / 0-)

    digest, though i have certainly spent my share of time considering these issues.

    Since it is very late and I just got back from the Gay Pride March in NYC I will wait until my mind is clearer and I am in a less euphoric mood to deal with this stuff (even, i, a confirmed advocate of it takes a village and not a nuclear family to raise the children, was delighted over the legalization of gay marriage - talk about contradictions between self-directed thought and societal manipulated group think).

    I did find SKLRR's comment interesting as your article also brought to mind other cultures where the group perception is the primary determinant. If you come back and read all your comments Geomoo,  I hope you will consider addressing how the enlightenment concept of rational individualism under capitalism contrasts with these older group oriented cultures and how the new postemotional group culture is different/the same as these older group cultures since it has formed within capitalist commodity culture. I recently saw Ibsen's Enemy of the People which dealt with these issues from a late 18th century point of view even without all the technological changes aind influences.

    Also, will you get in trouble if you give more specific examples of how the postemotional culture has been detrimental at DK? I am new to the community and specifics help.

             

    •  I will be interested in thoughts you have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      An Affirming Flame

      As to the contrast between other-directed postemotional types and group consciousness in earlier cultures, I believe the essential difference is authenticity of feeling.  Mestrovic discusses Ferdinand Tonnies distinction between society and community.  I believe we would call earlier cultures community.  Community is messy, irrational--it's not all love and groupthink all the time.  There is plenty of space for authenticity.  When people experience an emotion, they are aware of the feeling, feel it as their own, and act on it if they are moved to.  This is problematic for the modern other-directed type, for whom his emotions are vicarious and conspicuous, being manipulated by self and others for social reasons.

      Also pertinent is Mestrovic's discussion of Norbert Elias' The Civilizing Process.  Here are a couple of quotes from that:

      ...Social control is not always or unequivocally a civilizing tendency....

      Elsewhere, Mestrovic points out that Nazism can be seen not simply as irrational--there was an element of highly rational social control involved.

      ...Modernity 2 might serve a civilizing function even if it appears disorderly or chaotic....
      ...the postemotional public participates vicariously in behaviors, thoughts, fantasies and emotions that are forbidden in everyday life in societies that are purportedly civilizing through books, film, magazines, and even the Internet.  Modernity 2 comes through the back door of fantasies that preoccupy persons whose manners are in keeping with Modernity 1.
      Postemotionalism alerts one to the possibility that an uncivilizing process runs concurrently with the civilizing process.  The perversion, disgusting habits, explicit violence, and other barbaric phenomena that have been banned from public life in Western, industrialized nations not only reappear but seem to grow stronger with time in the private realm of fantasy.  "Other people's" barbaric reality--such as murders, rapes, and genocide--are watched on television by voyeurs bent on the civilizing process.  This voyeuristic, vicarious aspect of contemporary social life seems to have escaped Elias completely.

      The voyeurism of the West figures prominently  to Mestrovic.  It is amazing that this was written before Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo.  "Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them here" takes on a new significance when viewed through this lens, i.e., let's keep our torturing and other barbaric behaviors away from U.S. soil.

      The following is my favorite aspect of Mestrovic's, and something that is on display here on dkos:

      ...genuine civilizing traits are a matter not of specific habits, but of certain attitudes that are compassionate and that otherwise seek to overcome the brutality that was extant in the past...  This new barbarism [litigation] is dressed up in the refined use of language that characterizes all court proceedings, but this civilized gloss cannot obscure the hostile intent.
      "Economic sanctions" on whole peoples conceal the fact that they are a barbaric recourse to the pre-Enlightenment doctrine of collective guilt in which children and other innocents are forced to suffer or even die because of the faults of leaders of the countries in which they live.

      And now for the money quote:

      The cool contemplation of other people's suffering while one exhibits polished manners in a society that is deemed civil is only a shade less immoral than the direct infliction of suffering.  Thus, civilization, as it is often practiced todays, is really  manufactured, inauthentic civilization.

      If you spend much time here, you will see what I mean.  One example is pseudo-compassion.  Certain groups, such as African Americans, gays, and battered women have been determined to be worthy of compassion, which Mestrovic claims in postemotional society is actually pity.  This compassion does not extend to other members of society.  Here is an arresting example of that tendency.  I'll excerpt to show the callousness.

      The discussion was whether "white trash" is a pejorative and racist term.  My comment:

      When my family and people I knew called someone white trash, I knew exactly what they meant.  They meant that, although a person was white, they were as trashy as a black person, only that isn't the name they used.  The scorn for someone who was white trash was at least equivalent to the scorn for someone who was a "n****r".  The term has the added nastiness of including within its meaning the assumption that it goes without saying that all blacks are trash.  The n word did not need the modifier "black', although it was sometimes added for emphasis.

      I have also listened to people speak of the pain of having grown up being treated like white trash.  Of course, all white trash were poor.  Picture a trailer park.  Picture a bunch of siblings.  No money for decent clothes.  Probably couldn't afford to buy a musical instrument in order to be in the band.  Perhaps had no rides to and from sports practice or after school clubs.  Certainly not invited to the parties the cool kids had.

      Response:

      oh noes!! whatever will the white people do??? (9+ / 0-)

      WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE WHITE PEOPLE!!!!!!?????

      You are a fucking embarrassment.

      Another prominent aspect is the entire racial atmosphere here.  An example Mestrovic's uses is the OJ Simpson trial, which was current at the time.  He points out that authentic emotion would involve shock at the deaths of two people and perhaps an interest that their murderer see justice.  Instead, the primary emotional aspect of the trial concerned racism and slavery, a historical injury from the past.

      Here on dkos it is quite common for someone to accuse the person they are arguing with of saying something racist.  There are plenty of people on dkos who have concluded, as a result of my criticisms of the Obama administration, that I am a racist.  These people will say that their feelings are hurt, not over something said about them, but over something said which they think is generally racist.  It is impossible to argue such, but such claims of hurt feelings seem generally bogus, to put it mildly.

      Here is a specific example of the same thing, one less charged because it does not involve race.  If you read this entire thread, you will get that feeling of surrealism.  Postemotionalism explains this interaction very well.  In case you don't have time, here are the essential excerpts:
      Me

      One of the worst things is that, after taking over the media and nastily marginalizing the left at every turn, after buying Congress, the Presidency, and even, it seems, the Supreme Court, after stealing from the workers, making health care into an obscene profit machine, after lying and scheming themselves into a nearly unassailable position of power and influence, those greedy, psychopathic assholes manipulate suckers like you into to taking pleasure in mocking "us" for being so unempowered, so ineffectual, such a tiny influence on the nation.  It doesn't matter that, on most important issues, polls show our politics to be the politics of the majority even in the face of the most pervasive and most skilled propaganda machine in history.

      And there are always people like you, ready to kick sand in the face of the perceived 90-pound weakling.  I always think of the abuser who enjoys toying with his prey, mocking her for the abuse she has not yet found a way to get out from under.  And worse, of the toady sidekick, always ready to kick someone another person threw to the ground.

      Response:

      Fuck you for calling me a wife beater.
      snip
      The majority of my pro bono work has been for battered women.  My wife represents battered women for a living.   I hear the stories every night.

      Me, excerpted

      If you work with abused women, then you should be able to understand the feeling I am expressing all the better.  I don't make the comparison lightly.  And, quite frankly, I think the outcome is even worse, seeing as how the effects are on a global scale.
      Go fuck yourself. (6+ / 3-)

      If you really think calling me a wife beater was appropriate, you are mentally ill.

      It is a long thread.  At no point in the thread is there any discussion, any whatsoever, of the point concerning the abuse heaped on the left for being ineffectual after trampling all over everything they care about.  If you want a feel for this, read the entire thread.  Here was one of my final statements of how I saw the matter.

      In any case, I know we're not really talking about what we're talking about.  The point is that I'm not a decent person, something which you and a few others are determined to prove about me and others any time we cross paths.  You are wrong about me.  I'm not going to waste my time trying to convince you of that.

      I had a point to express, and I expressed it to the best of my ability.  It may be true, it may be false, it may be delusional, I don't know.  But it had nothing to do with wife beating.  It had to do with what Geekesque had just said in a comment.  It was a response to that comment.  And it was a response to that sort of comment in general, a kind of comment I find abusive and insulting for the reasons I stated.  To claim I was making a statement about Geekesque personally, about his personal life is, please forgive me, idiotic.

      In retrospect, I was arguing against postemotional responses, responses which involve challenging my membership in the peer group rather than discussing my ideas.  Also responses which involve assuming emotions simply for their use in winning an argument.  You can notice that my expression of compassion for the user and his, imho, fake feelings, met with a heated reaction:  "You're not getting away with that."  What I was trying to "get away with" was being one of the compassionate ones.  This is reserved for people who care about racism and other specific issues in the correct way--it was very important that I not be allowed to be an opinion-maker through admission into that group.  You will find that the most vociferous responses arise when a person who expresses unpopular opinions makes a reasonable comment.  The entire discussion is ad hominem, a referendum on whether someone deserves to be an opinion-maker.  I now understand the reason for the ad hominem so rife on dailykos, the question is whether one deserves to be an opinion-maker, deserves membership in the peer group.  It is the new social control through peer group.

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 07:08:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I just saw the comment you referred to (0+ / 0-)

      and posted a response.
      http://www.dailykos.com/...

      Intelligent manipulation of the masses is the invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country. - U.S. propagandist Edward Bernays

      by geomoo on Mon Jun 27, 2011 at 07:21:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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