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We are currently witnessing the death of society.

In place of a structure of nurture and mutual support and a prime directive that obligates us to look to the ongoing viability of our species, (the fundamentals of any functioning, viable social structure), we have now entered a period where that is all cast aside, decried and devalued.

In its place we have a burgeoning casino culture, with attendant cults like the American Tea Party Movement, in which anti-intellectualism dominates, facts are to be damned and empirical reality is to be discounted as some type of plot by the mainstream media, "liberals," or "elites."

What is casino culture?  To see it in full flower, just look at any of the advanced western societies (America is the “best” example). Rational decision making, based on sound scientific knowledge is set aside in these societies, and in its place we have the adoption of irrational, high-risk strategies. These strategies are based not on knowledge but on dogma.  Like all dogma, it needs no foundation in truth, it is “right” because it is “believed”.  In the place of valid climate science and the theory of evolution we have the absurdities of creationism and “praying for rain”.

Empathy, love and social justice are cast into the rubbish bin of social values by the casino culture and replaced with greed, self-centeredness and immediate self-gratification.

Hence, we have decisions being made now regarding the use of the planets resources that threaten the very viability of our eco-sphere and all species in it, including ourselves.  But in casino culture, where high risk taking behavior and irrationality predominate, the high rollers are betting against all odds that they can survive. Supposedly what they win will make them immune to the catastrophic outcomes that their high risk decision are imposing on the entire planet, such as irreversible global warming, poisoning of the oceans and permanent degradation of the arable lands. The high roller is blinded by his immediate wins and “forgets” that money doesn't get you or your children far in a world of poisoned air, filthy water and barren wastelands.

In casino culture there is no society, only individuals, acting alone.  There is no web of life connecting all the planet’s species. There is no mutual obligation only the pursuit of self-aggrandizement through greedy risk taking.  All “others’ are merely the means of your own self-promotion.  Teamwork, cooperative behavior, social cohesion and compassion for others are seen as negatives and labeled as dysfunctional.  

Real functional social units such as the family are essentially being destroyed and degraded.  You will get lots of lips service paid to “family values”, but practical supports for or assistance to the cohesive family unit are non-existent. Children are now brought up in chaotic, insecure and unstable environments in which stable authority is next to non-existent.

It is little wonder that children raised in the casino culture at best embrace confused values and at worst are dishonest, indifferent to casual violence or aggression, and devoid of respect or consideration for others.  If you have no way of properly determining right from wrong, life becomes a giant game of “Red or Black”, in which random decision making predominates, and morality and virtuous behavior are marginalized or decried as boring.

In casino culture if you bring good manners, honesty and a concern for others to the table, you can expect be aggressively shoved aside, bullied or intimidated by the casino high rollers. In casino culture collective decision-making is bad, free markets are good. Greed is actively promoted by an army of PR men who spend a fortune sparking personal dissatisfaction in the masses.

The biggest high rollers of the casino culture are the bankers.  At the very heart of corporate banking structures is the vociferous adoration of insatiable greed. The corporate banker is essentially a psychopath who would sell his soul for material acquisition. The pay packets of bankers can’t be justified except as reward for embracing and espousing massive risk. It’s clear that psychopathology is at play. How else can you explain the repeated bubbles of “debt” being continually inflated then burst?

The risk addict is king in casino culture and the obsessions of these unwell psychopaths are praised and labeled as acceptable and "successful" and handsomely rewarded.  If your not “maxing out” your debt you’re a loser. Ironically, on occasions, the odd high roller is labeled as running a “ponzi scheme” or tagged as a “rogue trader”, and dealt with harshly.  In reality the whole banking system is a ponzi scheme, run by rogues, maintaining a thin veneer of order, overlaid to deceive the general population.  

If you’re down on your luck in the casino culture you can expect to be vilified and your plight is a manifestation of some personal flaw (your lazy) or cultural deficiency (your black and lazy). The “winners” and high rollers label the unfortunate as “lazy losers” on a daily basis, consigning millions of people who are down on their luck to some subhuman underclass. The winners propagate the belief that there exists a large pool of "undeserving poor" who suck the lifeblood out of the rest of society.  This belief lies at the heart of the narrative of the casino culture. Its bizarre counterpart is the high roller spin that says the rich are "wealth producers" and "job creators."

Television and other media that rejoices in and celebrates dysfunction, violence and anti-social behavior perpetuate casino culture.  Selfishness, shallowness and often sheer nastiness are “normalized” and presented as “valid” realities. If you haven’t got the newest, shiniest and latest of everything, in the casino culture you’re a loser.

If we are not to be sucked into the black hole of irrational risk-taking at the center of casino culture we need to get back to genuinely supporting functional families and adequately provisioning economic safety nets for the truly unfortunate.  As Martin Luther-King said: 'The institution of the family is decisive in determining not only if a person has the capacity to love another individual but in the larger sense whether he is capable of loving. . . The whole of society rests on this foundation for stability, understanding and social peace.' It is in family that obligations and values are learnt.

Real, functional, solid family units are based on secure work incomes. Living from paycheck to paycheck is a recipe for relationship instability and the eventual disintegration of the functional family unit.  A society that has solid family units and builds genuine caring institutions will flourish.  

Casino culture on the other hand is the sure and unpleasant route to hell in a hand basket for mankind and the vast majority of the species that currently co-habit the planet with us.  Not even the cockroaches will survive when we have smashed the web of life on the roulette table of greed and self-gratification.

Originally posted to newsofthewild on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 01:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Royal Manticoran Rangers and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I really appreciate this (5+ / 0-)

    "Casino culture" is a fair metaphor for the mix of the competitive, superstitious, greedy and something-for-nothing behavior we have been seeing for a long time. Nice take on its extension into the absurd, these days.

    What do you think is next? If your hypothesis is true, what should a wise person do?

  •  Additionally (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA

    You make a good point about supporting functional families. How about our work lives?

    What kind of work should we be aiming for in order to regain some control over our economic and social stability?

    •  I've had the same answer for that question... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb, tobendaro, nextstep

      ...for over 40 years and it's been road tested now - work on things essential to life - shelters, food, education, natural resources, health, government or IOW, engineering, science, education, law, analysis, design, construction, communication - things you or your neighbors can't live without.

      You want to design high end fashion, illustrate comic books, develop high tech war weapons, or build yachts go for it but don't expect a good life. You may get money, you may find happiness for a short while,  but don't expect it. Judgement happens one decision at a time and the path is begun at infancy.

      Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

      by kck on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 07:28:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  IMO this is all the result of decades of our (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MKSinSA, walkshills

    elected politicians acting subservient to the true power in our beloved country, the monied interests.

  •  Thank you for pointing out how economic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks, hester

    factors impact the well-being of familes and child-rearing in our country.

    Keep up the good writing.

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 07:28:19 AM PDT

  •  And lottery economy. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks, notdarkyet, salmo, tobendaro, Matt Z

    The myth is pushed that everyone has a "chance" to strike it rich, and that this justifies incredible levels of inequality.  Your casino culture (great characterization!) parades examples of "nobodies" who strike it rich through sports or music or now, just idiotic "celebrities" created by "reality" TV.

    The real "reality" is that this is a predator economy where those with money and power subjugate and exploit everyone else ruthlessly.

    •  I always use Bruce Springsteen as an example (0+ / 0-)

      There's maybe a dozen artists who are as talented or more so than him whom you've never heard of. They hone their craft, work hard, tour, record, etc., but megastardom didn't happen but for some random, isolated incident.

      Casino culture convinces you that you and Bruce Springsteen have the same odds of "winning," and discounts the reality that most life lotteries draw from a shallow pool that require you "do the leg work" to swim in, but don't guarantee results.

  •  What about the average American family today? (0+ / 0-)

    Most people's lives don't revolve around a casino culture. You're describing a TV projection that may be reflected in enough pedestrian traffic to fill a mall perhaps, BRAVO or MTV values. But the vast majority of Americans are home living their lives of value revolving around children, churches, clubs, teams, offices, Y's, gyms, parks, beaches, yards, and streets. I think you're on to something but the perspective seems to be unclear for me.

    Real solid families are dependent on secure work, as are disintegrated families. And we're in a growing recession of a world-wide scale. The jobs are not there right now and won't be restored for a while. So stress and hardship are here, for a while.  

    But do we really need to change our values or recognize the true marginalization of mass media and start demanding that government reflect the same values and start enforcing the laws?

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 08:01:02 AM PDT

    •  Do you have an XBOX? (0+ / 0-)
      •  No, and no debts. (0+ / 0-)

        Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

        by kck on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 08:16:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm guessing you don't need to change your values (0+ / 0-)

        ...and clearly the diarist doesn't, and I don't...so maybe to build a bigger, more diverse set of coalitions, we need to clarify our perspectives of what/where change is necessary, question the media projections and how they're invaded the ways we see each other, and not project negative assumptions onto others.

        Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

        by kck on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 08:30:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You're half right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb, tobendaro

      The fact is American families have chosen to live significant parts of their lives within narcissistic fantasies aided by many industries from drugs to all the features of entertainment from techno-fads to sports to fasion to celebrity culture and so on. To the degree that our people can move away from narcissistic and escapist behavior we will see political and economic change. We are stuck now, not because the political and economic systems are broken but because our culture is broken and people have weakened themselves and their connections with others often, paradoxically, by trying to connect with others in bullshit virtual ways rather than face-to-face.

    •  There are other pieces of the puzzle (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tobendaro

      "Casino culture" could be extended to suburbia and the American Dream. That vast majority you speak of are not nearly as engaged in clubs, neighborhoods and teams as they once were because of economic stressors, long commutes, poorly engineered neighborhoods and cities, car culture, mass media and plain old desperation.

      The jobs currently not there will never be restored as we once knew them, and we are in for painful restructuring of our priorities as we find a new way of life and a new collective dream.

      Want an MBA? You might as well major in women's studies, for the employability that will soon confer. The party's over. My hope is that we will soon be as engaged in streets, clubs and most importantly, with each other, as you claim we currently are.

  •  "Family Fued" The harbinger of casino culture. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    qofdisks

    That is the first game show that I had seen where consensus rather than knowledge was rewarded.  As if the underlying reality did not matter as much as being in agreement with the sample population, however ignorant that population may be.

    With the teabaggers and rabid conservatives, consensus is reality and the mass of people, who only want to be told what to do and think, go along.  Reality by consensus needs to be expansively ridiculed, not merely on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, but in everyday life; in schools, in public, everywhere.  It is unacceptable in society to be stupidly ignorant.

    If you see the world in terms of Left & Right, you really aren’t seeing the world at all . . . Barry Ritholtz.

    by Fossil on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 08:21:07 AM PDT

  •  This is one of the best diaries I have ever read (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhubarb, tobendaro, SherwoodB, Matt Z

    on this website and it gets 9 comments?  I just wrote a long comment on this, and promptly erased it.  Let's just say, my life is seriously impacted by the Casino Culture.  I recognize it and understand it in a personal way.
    Human waste.  Not just waste created by humans, but wasted human beings.
    Growing up in the post 60's and after Vietnam, we were all so optimistic that war had become obsolete and humanity could get on with the higher order job of evolving into higher functioning, more sophisticated godlike beings.  Now we are looking at degeneration en mass.

    •  I would like to read what (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb

      you have to say.  The fact that this isn't a must read diary here is perhaps, some sort of proof of what the diary is about.  The excitement and porn isn't available in this diary so many may pass it by for a different sort of stimulation, the easy adreneline rush.  That is the casino culture in action.  Even as we protest it, we still want the rush.

      And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

      by tobendaro on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 11:09:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Death of Society? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhubarb, forester

    What, again?

    Freak it, people have been claiming society's on the edge of death for what... 400 years now? A thousand? As long as written language has been around? Before that?

    What a shame to start off a diary of salient observations with such a trope.

    I'm a concert pianist with a double doctorate... AND YOU CAN BE TOO!

    by kenlac on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 08:45:31 AM PDT

    •  Trope (0+ / 0-)

      Valid criticism.  Was trying to capture the idea of collapse of social infrastructure such as families and social safety nets, combined with the reckless gambling away of our future, as in destruction of the sustaining environment.  Maybe should have opened: "Are we gambling away the future?"

  •  You need to go further in this (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester, tobendaro, wiseacre, SherwoodB, Matt Z

    Why are people so attracted to what you describe as casino culture? We need to ask that question to be able to understand how to move towards alternatives.

    I will be brief here: casino culture exists because we have produced no viable alternatives that meet real human needs. Thus, increasingly, we are meeting those needs through fantasies, gaming, virtual worlds, technology, entertainment, drugs (legal and illegal), and activities that produce pleasurable brain chemicals (too many to list). We need to create an alternative culture that meets basic human needs for community, acceptance, and sense of meaning and inclusion as well as food, shelter, medical care, healing and communal celebration.

    •  I think it has to do (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      banger, rhubarb, SherwoodB, Matt Z

      with pleasure centers in the brain, adreneline and ease.  I was brought up to be extremely suspicious of what society has to offer in this regard.  We were taught that television is nothing but fluffy brain candy.  Fun but not of value to what you really want to accomplish.  We were discouraged from any kind of fad thinking.  One needs to think sensibly and unemotionally about making choices not swayed by advertisment or popular thinking.  Because of my upbringing I look at what our culture is and see it for the shallow, underperforming, mess it has become.  I do not have trouble distinguishing what is shallow opportunism and what has meaning for my life.  However most of my aquaintances do not see the distinction.

      And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

      by tobendaro on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 11:28:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clearly we know our function (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhubarb, tobendaro, SherwoodB, Matt Z
        However most of my aquaintances do not see the distinction.

        Same here, for the most part. The invisible lines that rule so many people are not seen. In a way they are like sorcery--people don't know the spells they're under. Quite a job to reorient others but that is the single most important thing to do. I am working on something of the sort right now.

  •  Honesty is a character flaw (6+ / 0-)

    To those on Wall Street with whom I dealt, honesty was a character flaw, to be exploited.  One of the worst consequences of repeal of Glass Steagall was the intermingling of that aspect of our capital markets with normal community banking.  Capitalism cannot survive with capital markets as dysfunctional as ours have become.  Sure enough, the portions of our economy that are not sustained by corporate welfare are in a state of collapse.

  •  Great diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hester, rhubarb, Matt Z

    Although, as noted above, humanity's collapse has been predicted since we all sat around fires ten thousand years ago, you raise many excellent points for discussion.

    Repubbed to Royal Manticoran Rangers. Thanks.

    It's not how many votes are cast, but counted.

    by ozsea1 on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 10:03:08 AM PDT

  •  Normally I don't come to another person's diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, forester

    and tell them they're wrong.... but in this case you're wrong.

    The premise of your diary "casino culture" is wrong.

    I work in the casino industry, have for years. Table games, I specialize in high rollers.

    The people you're describing are the people I'm paid to identify and have security remove from property.

    Yes people like that exist, but it's sort of like how a tobacco shop wouldn't want a bunch of lung cancer patients with oxygen masks hanging out by the counter, it's bad for business.

    The casinos don't want people like that around because it reminds people that what they're doing, or are about to do probably isn't the best idea in the world, and should go somewhere else. The last thing the casino wants is the cautionary tales reminding people of an episode of "Intervention" hanging about the place depressing the hell out of everyone in sight.

    Yes the desperate and the assholes exist, but they're a dirty little secret, and they are absolutely not celebrated. Generally they've got a pit boss and two security guards watching their every move waiting for the excuse to have them escorted from property.

    Also the money to high rolllers doesn't matter, because they have so much money while winning more would be cool to them, they don't really sweat losing it either. It's about the high, an adrenaline rush, or for some of them it's relaxing, either way it's not the money.

    They could probably get the exact same feeling they're looking for jumping out of an airplane, or laying on the couch watching tv (depending upon their specific personality traits) and spend a lot less, but instead they go to the casino.

    You know how you have an entertainment budget? Maybe $5 or $10 a week to rent a movie or whatnot, some set amount that you've decided isn't going to make or break you either way, and you deserve a little fun?

    The high rollers do too... only their entertainment budgets are drastically different from ours. As in I regularly see them in a single hand lose more than I make in an entire year and not even blink, because it simply doesn't matter to them... and I'm not poor, I'm solidly in the median middle class income range for the United States, so we're not talking a little bit of money, but a LOT...

    Pissed away every 10 seconds and not even a twitch. It's nothing to them.

    Most people go to the casino for the sense of community. For the "yeah, we're all sticking it to the man (casino)" mentality.

    Everyone is cheering each other on, congratulating wins, commiserating losses, buying each other drinks, telling jokes, asking the table if they should take a hit or state whatever is best for the table, sharing stories, etc.

    With the exception of poker, they're all in it together, they WANT each other to win, because it isn't like if their neighbor wins a hand it's taking money from directly their pockets... If the neighbor wins, that means the casino loses, and everyone wants the same thing, for the casino to lose.

    Of course in the end the casino never loses, but that doesn't matter to the players, they go hoping the casino will lose.

    And if it isn't them beating the casino, they hope like hell it's the person sitting next to them. No one gets pissed when the guy sitting next to them gets a blackjack, they cheer them on and are happy for them.

    Yes the casino culture is an apt description for society, but not for the reasons you've listed in your diary, it's an apt description because of this...

    In order to win big, you've got to have a lot of money to bet big in the first place.

    The casino's big winners are almost always the people that already had shitloads of money in the first place, and didn't need more.

    Inside the casino the odds are set so that the more money you have, the more money you can win.

    It's the same outside the casino, too.

    "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

    by MichiganGirl on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 11:09:39 AM PDT

    •  You are missing his point (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rhubarb, SherwoodB, Shockwave, Matt Z

      somewhat.  The fact that people find pissing money away gambling to be a fun activity is part of the casino culture.  I find it odd that anyone thinks it is entertaining to sit in a casino pushing a button and loing money with every movement, nevermind the fact that one spends hundreds or thousands to travel there to do it.  Like a rat in a cage who pushes the button to get food, we are trained to this behavior.  We are being manipulated to spend our money on crap and what should be unacceptable behavior has been represented and accepted as normal and fun.

      And she's good at appearing sane, I just want you to know. Winwood/Capaldi

      by tobendaro on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 11:39:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Rogue traders? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave

    Interesting point about so-called rogue traders.  Yes, they're risk takers.  But what's the difference between a top producer and a rogue trader?  The rogue trader is somebody whose gamble lost!  If his guess -- and trading is basically about making educated guesses -- were correct, he'd be a hero.  Guess wrong and he's a criminal. That's the culture.

    Casino culture fits with the winner-take-all culture of recent years. The very rich get richer and everybody esle does worse.  But then look at modern game shows, too.  Some older contests (think horse races, the Boston Marathon, etc.) have a top prize for the winner, but smaller prizes for second, third, etc.  And game shows used to feature a "consolation prize".  But now game shows are "reality shows" (be it The Apprentice, Cupcake Wars, Project Runway, etc.) and it's a big prize for the winner and zilch for second place.

  •  It's the idea that you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rhubarb, Shockwave, Matt Z

    play a random lottery, because "Hey, someone has to win, it might as well be me," as if you can tilt random odds in your favor.

  •  Internet was the death of society. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave

    Internet was the death of society... Or more like the death of what was left of society.

    Casino culture? That was like the 90’s

    Empathy, love and social justice are cast into the rubbish bin of social values by the casino culture and replaced with greed, self-centeredness and immediate self-gratification.

    I think that was the credo of the 80’s. Nowadays they’ll rip the skin off your back and sell it back to ya

    Cyberspace, welcome to the machine...

    Nudniks need not apply.

    by killermiller on Sat Oct 01, 2011 at 03:09:22 PM PDT

  •  When was this glorious perfect past? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Utahrd

    I must have missed it.

    I don't know when you think a "structure of nurture and mutual support and a prime directive that obligates us to look to the ongoing viability of our species" existed, but I can't find it in any of my history books. Society, for as long as we have been able to write, has been a constant struggle between the individual and the group.

    By any historical standard, social cohesiveness shows a constant trend up, culminating in our current position. Yes, I agree the last 30 years have been a step back; but try comparing to the last 300. At no other point in history has any government ever considered the fate of humanity 50,000 years in the future; whereas our government required nuclear waste storage facilities on that time scale.

    If you can't make your point without distorting facts, then maybe your point isn't as valid as you think it is. More to the point, people who do know the facts will ignore you, even when your point is valid.

    "The idle chatterer is the sort who says that people nowadays are much more wicked than they used to be." - Theophrastus

    •  Governments coonsidering the future. (0+ / 0-)

      Mmmm.  I don't see many government decisions being made lately that even look beyond the next election, let alone look 50,000 years into the future.

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