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And so it goes...the entire situation seems a natural outcome of the post-literate society we have become.  Reasoning, facts, even political horse-trading are all like so much roadkill in this America where image, emotion, and ideology have emerged ascendent.

I had a conversation about a year ago with an individual who had been studying and educating people about Peak Oil for about the past 15 years.  He had reached a point where he no longer was willing to speak publicly on the topic.  Instead he devoted most of his time and energy to his adjuct professorship in English at the local community college and his vegetable garden.  His mindset, he said, was "we're all observers now".  The magnitude of the issue and the complexity and associated unpredictability of the consequences had outpaced any possible good his investing of time and energy might produce.

More cheerful thought below the squiggle....

For me, the events of the past week have caused a somewhat similar response from within.  I sense that a "sea change" of sorts has occurred.  The charade in Congress, the willingness to inflict harm on the nation over an ideology based on lies and greed, has played surprisingly well based on the conversations I have had with those who identify with the Republican actions.

The genie is out of the bottle...media consolidation, talk radio, use of wedge issues of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, nationalism...I believe that the reactionary forces have decided to act and assert their power based on their assessment that they will be welcomed in varying degrees by a sufficient percent of their base.  

Every attempt i made to reason with those Repub's around me was interrupted by a sound bite or evasion of the issue.  Why reason when "your side" is winning?

"Rich people deserve what they have because they work harder"
"People are poor because their parents didn't make them work hard in school"
"Taxing the rich is just based on jealousy"
"Social programs are just a tool the Democratic Party uses to keep its voter base from improving themselves"

Intellegent people have lost the capacity to follow a narrative to its logical conclusion.  Maybe it is something within our internal landscapes, like the London cabbies who demonstrated a change in brain function when they started using GPS devices instead of their memory of the London streets.  

Post-literate...loss of narrative.  We've traded Wallace Stegner for Glenn Beck.  God help us.

As I examined my emotional response to the unfolding drama and my attention to comments and attitudes by Repub's around me that heretofore would never have been vocalized, I realized that it may be time to recognize my need to grieve.  The country, the nation, the society, that I thought I lived in, no longer exists.  I need to recognize the source of my anger and stop denying that the time that certain individuals with foresight have spoken about is here, now, at this time.

"White man needs to learn to sing the blues", and "we're all being put on the reservation now" are two favorite quotes of a friend of mine.  I look back at conversations we had 5-6 years ago and realize that he was right, he saw this coming, the product of 30 years of full time peace activist involvement against the militarization of space.

The genie is out of the bottle...the fairy tales tell us that the three wishes are often more than the happy individual bargains for.  Very few have the wealth and influence to be spared from the blowback of an ideology based on lies and greed.  

As for me, I suppose that I am learning the meaning of lament.  

Originally posted to Wonton Tom on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 03:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The RW Axis of Evil: Fox, Hate Talk Radio, and... (23+ / 0-)

    Murdoch-type "news"papers have been a very effective brainwashing tool for the GOP. The alliance of super-wealthy politicians, their corporate sponsors, and the rich and famous right wing media types have mastered using propaganda to polarize their audience on social issues and make them believe the victimization rhetoric, so the uninformed and ignorant can be convinced to vote against their own best interests.  

    These rich puppet masters couldn't just come out and say:  "vote for us, because we're rich and powerful and want to get richer and more powerful," so they've successfully found out how to get the fearful and easily duped to vote for them--as many of them don't--or won't--listen to any news outside of the RW noise machine and are totally oblivious to the fact that the puppet masters will ultimately do them harm.

  •  Neurologically speaking, (14+ / 0-)

    ...this is probably the exact mechanism at work:

    Maybe it is something within our internal landscapes, like the London cabbies who demonstrated a change in brain function when they started using GPS devices instead of their memory of the London streets.

    Meanwhile, it takes many years to get past the anger and grief and feelings of betrayal when your country is beamed off the planet to some bizarro cosmos. But after that, comes is a feeling of tremendous freedom and clarity about how to proceed to your own advantage in the post-national realm.

  •  I think our country has come to a reckoning. n/t (12+ / 0-)

    Hope has a hole in it when Republicans come, bringing shackles and sorrow; branding their greed on the backs of the poor. - Wendy Connors

    by Wendys Wink on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 04:54:42 PM PDT

  •  Don't forget the generational wedge. (20+ / 0-)

    They're trying to set Gen X & Y against the "greediest generation", i.e. the Baby Boomers. Yet the Baby Boomers are the only generation in the country that paid into Social Security and Medicare our entire working lives. Our parents and grandparents didn't, yet we didn't begrudge them a social safety net. But somehow, we who have paid and are still paying are greedy little bastards. It makes me sick.

    Sadly, quite a few people buy into this storyline. I guess we're greedy because we want the $2.7 trillion we paid into the trust fund to actually be used for its intended purpose. How silly of us.

    How quickly the Pacifist becomes the Warrior when it's "our side" doing the killing.

    by edg on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 07:50:27 PM PDT

  •  The late Weimer period of our history. (16+ / 0-)

    In Germany, in early 1933, the leaders of a small moderately conservative party had what they considered a positively brilliant idea. They would take the leader of the largest party, radical right winger though he was, and make him Chancellor. They would then surround  him with members of their own and other moderate conservative parties so the majority of the members of the cabinet would be moderate conservatives. Outvoted in his own cabinet Hitler, they thought, would be contained. But Hitler outwitted them and by the middle of the year the Nazi party was the only legal party in Germany.

    I fear our conservatives have made a similar mistake. They though the teaparty movement could be controlled. it was safe  to put these people in the House because when they had to make important decisions they would act responsibly. My understanding is that Boehner himself was of this opinion. Unfortunately it is clear the teaparty can't be controlled. They and their supporters will not act reasonably. The so-called conservative movement is increasing out of control and irresponsible. At some point soon responsible Republicans are going to have to stop using it. The media are going to have to begin calling this hard right movement what it is.

  •  I think your neighbor is right... (8+ / 0-)

    ...its history.  No reason to think she'd treat us special just because things worked out for awhile.

    I read too many alarmist screeds, like most of us.  And all of this shit may yet turn out to be a premature dirge.  Nonetheless, a recent line in one of those screeds is a bit haunting.  "Empires, when the fall, can unravel very quickly" or something like that.  

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 09:05:25 PM PDT

  •  Your express my sentiments eloquently. (12+ / 0-)

    We have fake Democrats spouting Republican bullshit.  We have a completely corporate right-wing media spewing their lies 24-7.  Ordinary people have clearly lost all rights in this particular epoch of history.  Something like what happened in ancient Rome as it slid from a republic to an Emperorship is going on in the USA.  Vast destruction and oppression is already a done deal.

    But people cannot live without hope.  So what can thinking people hope for in such a corrupt and amoral time?  While much is already lost the struggle will not end.  But how does one fight back against the empire?  Our moment of truth has arrived.  It is so terribly sad what has been done to our once decent country.  

    The Long War is not on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran. It is on the American people.

    by Geonomist on Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 10:12:00 PM PDT

  •  I've been feeling so sad (5+ / 0-)

    This diary expresses to some extent why I've been feeling so sad for the past week. It seems clear that the wheel is turning and isn't going to be turned back. My father, who fought in WWII, died three years ago. Before he passed, he was already upset about the direction the country was going in - I'm just glad he didn't live to see this. I keep scanning the news, looking for some element of hope, but they are few and far between. The diarist said it well - I realize now that I am grieving for what has been lost.

    •  I guess that's what (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sb, dirkster42, StrayCat

      I recognized..except for me it was not sadness but anger.  I don't know all the details but the path forward, the "element(s) of hope", exist.  People, individually and collectively, have been here before.  We have the capacity to deal creatively and effectively with this, but we need to work through the honest emotions in order to see clearly, or false solutions will seem attractive.

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 03:27:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  beautifully said (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat

    but the problem is not limited to Republicans.

    "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something." President Obama in Prague on April 5

    by jlynne on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 12:31:32 AM PDT

  •  The Republic has collapsed. Ceasar comes. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sb, Notreadytobenice, Mighty Ike, StrayCat

    IMO it is now only a matter of time.  

    ('course, I've been saying I give the US 20 years for about 2 years now.)

    •  No. Similar 2 collapse of the empire 400 yrs A.D. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      XRAYMIKE79, StrayCat

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...
      "...Bury held that a number of crises arose simultaneously: economic decline, Germanic expansion, depopulation of Italy, dependency on Germanic foederati for the military, the disastrous (though Bury believed unknowing) treason of Stilicho..."

      The collapse of the republic 400 years earlier is not what is now happening to us. There was treason then and there is treason now.

      •  You have this right. The Rubicon time (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Notreadytobenice

        for America was the Viet Nam era.  Things move more quickly today.  The robber baron landgrabbers are here, foreclosing on our homes and farms.  They will be a new aristocracy, owning the whole country and we will only have lesser estates in our own lives.  Bush's ownership society is pure feudalism.  The Senate today is a copy of the Roman Senate after 350 CE.

        Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

        by StrayCat on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 10:39:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  U both are incorrect IMO and missed the pt. (0+ / 0-)

          This is not the collapse of Rome, nor of Empire.  It is the Rise of Ceasar.  We will turn to all powerful executive and 'Supre-congress' "to get things done" b/c one side has purposefully destroyed the ability of the Republics institutions to function.

          "Ceasar comes."

          Now, no analogy is perfect, especially historical analogy.  But, there is no external emeny at the gates or even in sight.  So no sack is coming from outside.  The New Aristocracy will happily pay for mercenaries to defend their Empire and Bread&Circuses for the prols (think about were that word came from), because it will ensure the continuance on the Empire that makes them rich.  The same happened when the Republic became the Empire.  

          Yes, there were mercenaries and games and gladiators in the Republic, but they became central to the military and civil life of Rome under the Empire.  Along with the all powerful strongman, the Emporer.  The same is what will happen to the US over the next 20 or so years, all suitably updated to the 21st C of course.

          'Course, that all just MO.  You may not see it that way.  Sadly, we will all see who is correct as it plays out.

  •  I think a lot of us are where you are. (14+ / 0-)

    I, for instance, cannot see any point anymore in trying on a personal level to persuade right wing sympathizers of anything; nor do I see any effect of writing (although I still do it) my congress creep Paul Ryan or my Tea Party Terrorist senator, Johnson. Every time I look at my next door neighbors, I remember their Palin sign and the Confederate flag they flew for a while.

    I retired completely from teaching about three years ago, but the five years before that I taught two or three online courses at a time for the University of Phoenix, which attracts many far right students. Since I taught courses in writing and research, at all levels, and ethical thinking for graduating seniors, I was constantly reading outrageous things from perspectives of closed minds.

    I had taught freshman composition, among other courses, and had also taught high school English, for a long time, but what I experienced trying to teach these online fundamentalists and rightwingers was different. Students always have struggled with the idea of building a logical argument and trying to keep in mind their readers' perspective and counter-arguments, but many of these people simply couldn't or wouldn't do that. A student's natural inclination is almost always to defend what he has written as logical, but what I was seeing was an unwillingness to accept the fundamentals of critical thinking, which requires questioning and self-examination, as well as research into the facts. There were always students who embraced the process and a few who really changed, but I think many of those people now probably support the Tea Party Terrorists.

  •  enjoy the war..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, StrayCat

    the peace will be much worse

    Don't forget Bradley Manning

    by polticoscott on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 05:57:25 AM PDT

  •  Juan Cole calls ours "a twilight democracy" (10+ / 0-)

    and describes reasons that other more vigorous democracies in Europe and elsewhere have avoided our mistakes.  As he wrote recently in his 10 Ways Arab Democracies Can Avoid American Mistakes

    It is probably too late for us. The aggregate of changes in US law and practice in favor of corporatocracy and the national security state is so extensive and powerful that our constitution has been overwhelmed....In my lifetime I have seen the American state spiral down into a brutal tyranny that tortures, spies, union-busts, engages in illegal wars, and plays dirty tricks on dissidents. We used to have something much more like a democracy.
    His first four items of advice to the new Arab democracies regard elections:  ban political advertising on TV, do not hold elections on a work day, make voting mandatory, and make voter registration automatic. A summary of his views is here: Juan Coles advice to new Arab democracies.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 06:24:49 AM PDT

    •  So America is now the cautionary tale (6+ / 0-)

      To warn others of the pitfalls of hijacked democracy. How utterly sad.

      You cannot enlighten the unconscious.

      by cassandracarolina on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 06:58:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your comment reminds me of something I (6+ / 0-)

        read in Chris Hedges "Death of the Liberal Class", when he was interviewing Father Daniel Berrigan. Father Berrigan said, "The biblical evidence for the survival of any empire is not very large; in fact, the whole weight of biblical history goes in the other direction. They all come down." Later in the interview he says, "The thing is bringing itself down by a willful blindness that is astonishing." I feel we are entering a dark time in this experiment of democratic government. Will we survive this test? I really don't think anyone has an answer. This statement from Berrigan hit home with me, though. "I happen to go with the Buddhist understanding that the good is to be done because it is good, not because it goes somewhere." I suppose all we can do is try to do good in this rotten political climate and hope for the best. I think that this is a battle for our way of government. Will it survive this test? I sa, get a good supply of popcorn!

        If voting made any difference it would be illegal- Philip Berrigan

        by Mighty Ike on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:37:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  But what is it with the Gadsden Flag? (0+ / 0-)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...
    "....As the American Revolution grew, the snake began to see more use as a symbol of the colonies. In 1774, Paul Revere added it to the title of his paper, the Massachusetts Spy, as a snake joined to fight a British dragon.[2] In December 1775, Benjamin Franklin published an essay in the Pennsylvania Journal under the pseudonym American Guesser in which he suggested that the rattlesnake was a good symbol for the American spirit...."

    It's Benjamin Franklin's not Beck's. Geez!

    Or is it following the theme of the diarist, 311's song of the same name:
    "...Some days it seems it's not worth it
    The fight in me is all gone
    And I'm not trying to be perfect
    But just get one damn thing done
    Before I lose control
    I pick myself from the floor...."

    •  I chose it because (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      StrayCat, Notreadytobenice

      i have seen it at photos of tea-bagger rallies and it came to mind as a symbol or an "image" that allows rational thought to cease.  In a post-literate world symbols take on a much larger role and as a result meaningful dialogue across opposing viewpoints becomes more difficult if not impossible.  Or so it seems.  I don't pretend to be an expert in such matters.

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:18:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You know what I miss? (5+ / 0-)

    William Buckley's debate shows.  

    Seriously.  

    These shows were presented in real debate format, with teams of debaters.  Aired on PBS, these shows lasted between an hour and a half and two hours, with real point-counterpoint Oxfordian-style debate, allowing for a very full exposition of the issues and arguments.  

    I disagreed fundamentally with Buckley's politics.  But the man did allow views on his show to challenge his own.  And unlike, say, the Bill O'Reillys or Sean Hannitys of today, he didn't shout them  down or threaten to cut off their microphones.  

    Say what you will about his views -- and they were odious -- he adhered to a principle that a free society is best served when all points of view are heard.  

    And it's a damn shame there aren't many like him left.

    Brilliant diary, btw, tip'd and rec'd.

    The corporation is one of the great unheralded human inventions of destruction. It is a way to absolve from any personal liability a bunch of people. They form together in a massive id and they do whatever they want. -- Keith Olbermann

    by caul on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 07:32:09 AM PDT

  •  I'm not worn out yet. (7+ / 0-)

    I'm only 64. I figure I can tilt at windmills a while longer.

    It took lifetimes to abolish slavery. (And, of course, slavery still exists.)

    It took lifetimes to establish women's suffrage. (And, of course, women's rights are still in play.)

    And so on.

    We won't win, but we must never stop fighting.

    Like Candide (and, like your friend), I will tend my own garden. Like Don Quixote, I will tilt at those windmills, too; they are never going to go away--same as slugs and cabbage moths.

    Joe

    Dear Ayn Rand fans: Please, would each of you just go all John Galt, immediately? Thank you.

    by CitizenJoe on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 08:02:40 AM PDT

  •  From the space you just found we can start (6+ / 0-)

    A certain amount of mourning is required. The progressive movement is dead but progressives are still alive. What we lack is an intellectual framework that encompasses the dramatic increase in information that must be, I repeat, must be digested. We cannot expect to have a clear view of our lives without taking it all in. Somehow we must digest seemingly contradictory bits within a broader framework than the one we were brought up with. What you are experiencing is just the inadequacy of our current frameworks to grasp all this stuff.

    In part, the whole revolt against rationality we see galloping at full career is a healthy reaction to the fact those frameworks we are used to have collapsed and can no longer bear weight. The right seeks to find new frameworks by making everything simple--the way to do that is to rest on the manufactured frameworks supplied by the corporate oligarchy whose soul object is to use people as food. Those people on the right who are comfortable with their manufactured platitudes are the chumps whose wealth will be plundered by the oligarchs and they will die defending the right of those predators to eat them--that's how strong intellectual/mythological frameworks are and always have been if you look at history.

    Our job ought to be in constructing new frameworks--I believe it is very possible and not as daunting as we might imagine. The rest of my life will be dedicated to doing that, hopefully in a collaborative way.

    •  Doesn't it have to be collaborative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      banger, StrayCat

      in order to be sustainable and have power?

      "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

      by Wonton Tom on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:20:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, of course (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dmnyct, StrayCat

        The essential part of the framework I envision is to see rationality and science as the center of the effort. As such, from the newest neuro-science research and from much of what we've learned from social-science research, particularly in the last half-century, we know that human beings are deeply social and cannot do well psychologically without intimate social connections.

        We know that everything we know comes from our social interactions; in short, whether we want to admit it of not most of what we think of as the self is conditioned by society which includes our parents. The idea that we are separate is irrational; however, the idea that thinking of ourselves as separate to some extent is socially conditioned for a reason. The stronger we are as individuals the better we can accomplish social goals. However, with the decline of rationality we lose perspective and forget the utility of "being and individual" for the benefit of society, i.e., diversity is useful when we encounter times of great change.

        We must, at this point begin to bind ourselves to others because this radical separation we experience is actually contributing to our enslavement by predators who don't believe we are connected and thus seek to eat us if they can.

        I'm not sure most people are ready for the project so, in the starting stages I will just go at it alone and I know I will meet others who are doing similar things.

        •  it sounds as if (0+ / 0-)

          you have put quite a bit of thought into your observations.

          The idea that we are separate is irrational; however, the idea that thinking of ourselves as separate to some extent is socially conditioned for a reason. The stronger we are as individuals the better we can accomplish social goals. However, with the decline of rationality we lose perspective and forget the utility of "being and individual" for the benefit of society, i.e., diversity is useful when we encounter times of great change

          I could be part of your "diversity" since although I agree with what you have stated above, my worldview has been a result of a more spiritual/intuative amalgem of my life's experience.  Just the way I'm wired, I suppose.  

          "At macro and micro levels, reality behaves in strange ways that stretch the popular worldview beyond its limit..." Marcus Borg

          by Wonton Tom on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 11:11:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We are more similar than you think (0+ / 0-)
            my worldview has been a result of a more spiritual/intuative amalgem of my life's experience.  Just the way I'm wired, I suppose.  

            That's me exactly. Spirituality is of central importance to me. Fortunately, I see no conflict between it and reason. I think, following reason and science you come to spirituality. The problem is that that subject, because of the perverse nature of Christianity and other dogmatic religions people end up fighting about it, naturally. So, like Descartes and the thinkers that followed the great tragedy of the Thirty-Year's War in Europe, they sought another common language and that was the language of reason and scientific inquiry where arguments could at least, theoretically, be resolved to some degree.

    •  Bang on. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      banger

      Again!

      "Here's another nice mess you've gotten me into." - Oliver Hardy

      by native on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 09:34:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary, mahalo....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    StrayCat

    Rec's provided.

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