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(Crossposted at Voices on the Square and at FDL)

There is a passage in Derrick Jensen's newest book, Dreams, in which he bridges the gap between his usual anarcho-primitivist plain talk and the more "expert" advice of scientists such as James Hansen and populists such as Bill McKibben.  It goes as follows:

We all know what we must do to curtail global warming.  We must dismantle every oil refinery, every pipeline, every oil and natural gas well.  We must dismantle the infrastructure that is killing the planet. (p. 249)
The first step in such a process, were it actually to happen, would be to phase out the pumping of the oil, the coal, and the natural gas.  I pointed this out some time ago in a blog entry over at Docudharma/ DailyKos.com.  If we really wish to mitigate the disasters that global warming will bring us, we need to keep some of Earth's fossil-fueled heritage in the ground, rather than pumping it into the atmosphere.  

The problem, in real life, is that nobody's talking about such a solution.  Oil, like oil-consuming infrastructure, is a commodity, as are petroleum-based instruments such as cars, airplanes, furnaces and so on.  The solution proposed above would be a wholesale divergence from the capitalist system, which accumulates capital (i.e. money and the good things it buys) through the circulation of commodities.  The change that's needed, in other words, is a change nobody dares to advocate.

Enter Paul Loeb, published in some reading circles as Paul Rogat Loeb.  Loeb wants to explore what makes some people activists, in order to assure that there be more activists.  Certainly if we are to have a movement that will push through the changes that are needed to curtail global warming, we will need more activists.  

I found Loeb's most recent piece (written with co-authors Alexander Astin and Parker J. Palmer) in a glance at the blog Docudharma, where it had been cross-posted.  It's titled ""My Vote Doesn't Matter": Helping Students Surmount Political Cynicism."  The problem, of course, is that students today have good reasons to be politically cynical, especially if the solutions to their problems are not on offer.  We are not going to get past the cynicism, then, by encouraging participation in a system which does not cater to real human needs.

Moreover, we can establish a rational cause for the cynicism that infects American politics.  In the frontstage of American politics is a spectacle, sometimes regarded as "Kabuki theater," in which candidates offer rhetoric calculated to woo the votes of the public.  In the backstage is the world of meetings in Washington DC, in which deals are made between actors of various ideological persuasions and financial needs.  The ultimate source of "cynicism," in this regard, is the belief that what happens in the political frontstage might have very little to do real policy as formulated backstage.  Here I will explore, with Loeb and his co-authors, what it would take to change this situation.

The authors start this piece by discussing the increase of cynicism among youth in America today, and then with a mis-step:

For those of us who follow elections closely, this is one of high stakes, with salient differences between the two major parties.
The idea of "salient differences between the two major parties" wasn't clear at all to the authors of Political Compass, who positioned the Democratic Presidential incumbent at (+6,+6) and his Republican challenger at (+7, +6.5).  So if the authors of Political Compass are right, there is good reason for apathy, at least as regards the Presidential race.  

It isn't clear, however, that the authors' argument depends critically upon the misconstruction of "Democratic" and "Republican" that dominates folk wisdom about American politics.  Thus it might suit readers to address the authors' main arguments regardless of whether or not they have the context right.  

Further down, this piece address the standard constructions of apathy in American political life:

But even when students understand the math, many still resist participation. They'll say they don't know enough and that "the issues are too complicated." They'll insist the candidates are really "all the same." They'll say this even when candidates hold very different positions on issues from health care, climate change, sexual politics, and immigration to tax policies, higher education budgets, student financial aid, and likely Supreme Court appointments. For some, saying they don't know enough may just be an excuse for withdrawal, though we've heard such statements even from many who are very involved in other ways. Others hold back because they feel helpless to change things. Caught in a self-fulfilling perception of powerlessness, they decide it makes little sense to take on the challenge of following candidates and issues.
This construction of political non-participation agrees well with the reading of political non-participation in Nina Eliasoph's ethnographic study Avoiding Politics: How Americans produce apathy in everyday life.  Eliasoph's discussion of apathy is quite thorough -- she documents the many ways in which Americans avoid political life.  

As I read Eliasoph's work, however, the main hurdle for those wishing to produce activism rather than apathy is one of creating spaces in which political discussion can once again be public.  We, in short, need to frontstage politics as it affects issues of real human need, so that real human beings will participate.  Here the Loeb et al. piece's suggestion is on-target:

If we want them to fully participate, we need to create a commons where they can reflect on issues and candidates, and provide a rationale for why their involvement matters.
However, I don't feel that the authors really focus upon the extent to which American social life, including politics itself, has been depoliticized.  Their initial tactic falls on those grounds:
The more students see their vote as promoting the kinds of changes they'd like to continue to work for, the more likely they'll be to show up at the polls, bring others along, and stay involved after the election.
The problem here is that neither my vote, nor the votes of millions of students across America, will promote any of the changes I really want after November.  Rather, Americans are invited in every election year to vote for the popular faces of their choice, and the winning popular faces will then implement technical "solutions" which will for the most part be beholden to those with money and power.  This reality will stand in November regardless of who we vote for.  

However, there is one present-day political movement which did follow the authors' prescriptions -- Occupy.  The Occupy encampments provided a public sphere for political participation which wasn't merely a "backstage" -- a place where deals can be made in private.  Here is the authors' discussion of Occupy:

The movement highlighted our distribution of wealth in a way that liberal economists had been trying and failing to do for decades. And many students still seem passionately interested in what's happened with it. But because Occupy has been so adamantly non-electoral in its approach, and often ambivalent about coalitions with allies like unions, its impact on political policies and choices has so far been muted.
We can contrast Occupy, however, with the various Veal Pen movements, which have only been able to affect politics to the extent that the political classes will endorse their legislation, and which have been ineffective when co-opted.

In the Avoiding Politics book I mentioned above, one of the groups Eliasoph studies evokes a profound difference in the tenor of their gatherings.  "Frontstage" gatherings are non-serious affairs, in which a party atmosphere is promoted.  "Backstage" gatherings are places where more serious issues (including politics) can be discussed.  Unfortunately, as Eliasoph points out, the "backstaging" of the serious can be detrimental to engagement in serious politics.  Indeed, in our political system, the "backstaging" of the serious has allowed political power to be concentrated in private hands.

Toward the end of this piece the authors offer a ringing appeal to professors, or at least those who tend classrooms full of students:

Our challenge is to make our classrooms and campuses venues for thoughtful debate, reflection, and discussion, bending over backwards to ensure students of all political perspectives feel welcomed.
Toward that end, I would hope that the conclusions of this diary, as written by me, be picked up and discussed in a classroom setting.  Political hope depends not merely upon our wish that college students be engaged, but rather upon the frontstaging of the concerns of ordinary citizens with real human needs.   This is the true importance of taking it to the streets.  What we get now is the electoral show and spectacle which currently grants Americans with only the waning illusion that they have some say in the political system.  No wonder college students are apathetic.

Originally posted to Frustrati on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Great stuff Cassi, as always. (5+ / 0-)

    Like terrorism or any number of other things, apathy doesn't happen in a vacuum. I believe Occupy is just the beginning of a system-wide reset...or I hope that, at least. Thanks again for your continuing efforts. I always learn something worthwhile from you.

  •  My response to Loeb (9+ / 0-)

    When he posted that essay here:

    It's interesting to note (2+ / 0-)

    That while you call on students and those trying to motivate them to sacrifice, to compromise, to work for the advancement of the career interests of politicians, you ask exactly nothing of the politicians.  You think students are so stupid that they don't notice this?  You think that the fact that this is the very best they are offered, that pols are asked nothing, doesn't have  a deflating effect?  That when you add that to a political program that ran a campaign of "yes we can" and a governance of "no we can't" that it's just the folly and naivete of students to be disillusioned?  That when the White House chief of staff strolls out and ridicules those who hoped that the promise of hope and change meant hoped-for changes are nothing but foolish "libtards", that doesn't have consequences?  (Yes, I know, he was eventually forced to apologize to the retarded for comparing them to liberals.)

    Instead of seeing things from the seat of the party honcho, try to put yourself in the student's sneakers, and see how all that resonates.

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:00:02 PM PDT

    •  Right. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ActivistGuy, priceman, ozsea1

      It's not as if apathy exists in a vacuum.

      Oh, it's a disgrace To see the human-race In a rat race -Bob Marley

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 03:21:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe not such a focused reply from me, but... (5+ / 0-)

      Ask from polititians? They won't do shit for you unless you get inside their carrot and stick game and turn it on them.

      No effective "stick", from the polititians' perspective, unless and until you remove the carrot.

      IOW, remove and then seriously re-regulate money in politics; threaten their goddamn cash cow like they've been threatening our very survival.

      I hope this makes some sort of sense. It's been a very very long day, I'm beat to shit and yet here I am.....

      The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

      by ozsea1 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:26:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course it takes organized power (5+ / 0-)

        to have leverage.  But the only way to begin the process of building organized power is to point out what is needed and who can deliver what is needed.  It's with those facts in hand that you being the process of organizing and struggle.  Without those facts out front, no one will join in building organization, building our own independent power tht other centers of power, such as politicians, are forced to respect.  Making no demands ensures permanent apathy.  Making demands is no guaranty apathy ends, but it is a prerequisite to the possibility.

        Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

        by ActivistGuy on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:06:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Understood (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus

          and fully agree.

          Occupy, college campus and political finanace reform.

          Hit 'em hign, middle and low :)

          The "extreme wing" of the Democratic Party is the wing that is hell-bent on protecting the banks and credit card companies. ~ Kos

          by ozsea1 on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 11:17:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Up with Chris Hayes showed a segment (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ozsea1, Eyesbright, peptabysmal

        where Todd Akin said, when asked about how the constituents could get his attention, said "those people who campaign for me and write me nice checks, I remember them!" (I paraphrase cause I never can remember exact wording.)

        American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

        by glitterscale on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:11:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Politicians giving back would mean (5+ / 0-)
      You have the power!

      - Howard Dean, 2004

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 09:34:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  to date, the most correct analysis i've read (5+ / 0-)

      this is where the problem lives: being told by Loeb or by Solnit (see MB's front page post yesterday) to VOTE because...

      with all due respect to Ms. Solnit, hope is for suckers and, apparently, democrats.

      we don't need hope. we need to find our own power and our courage to act on what we believe instead of allowing this splinter of technological modernity to fester into what appears to be an unstoppable killing infection.

      but i guess the first thing is to really accept reality as we see it. it's not easy to simply walk away from a system into which we have been ingrained akin to farm animals as surely Mr. Orwell captured so well.

      vote "D" for damage control. but let's stop this stupid partisan vote for the lesser of two evils for crumbs that don't change the bad ending in sight. let's create real strategies for taking back control in our neighborhoods, towns, villages, counties, and states and following Vermont in its brilliant tactics disowning Citizen's United and trying to use eminent domain to acquire foreclosed homes that they then give back to original owners with terms they can afford.

      this is where we need to be... not putting all this energy into Obama or Romney. either way, these guys represent the worst part of the greatest generation and the even worse spawn of the greatest generation.

      •  It is interesting to me that none of us have (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pfiore8

        decided to challenge the GOP from within. We have ruled out 3rd parties so if we want a choice we will have to make sure we have one somewhere!

        American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

        by glitterscale on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 11:14:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  speaking truth to power? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          glitterscale

          or politicians is useless...

          the best option, imo, is to walk away from the system. just walk away. we can't fight this way of thinking or change it with facts or calling them idiots or common sense. but we can change how we spend our money, interact in our communities, and vote on our school boards and town councils... we decide who sits on county seats and in state houses. this is where we still have leverage and options.

          voting nationally? i guess voting "d" for damage control buys us more time, but not much.

          i've said it for years now: it's time to change the game, the board upon which it is played, and the rules. we need to stop playing "their" game and start our own thing.

          •  But you AREN'T walking away from the system... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peptabysmal, pfiore8, glitterscale

            ...if you vote on town councils and school boards and state houses. I totally agree with that approach. But the reason for voting at the national level is as a holding action, a rearguard action, if you will. A few steps forward on some issues, stasis on others, in few place backward steps. But, though the gains may be minimal, they make some difference. Meanwhile, those who spend most of their political time outside the electoral system are laying the groundwork for real change.

            But starting "our own thing," as you no doubt have noticed, is no easy matter. Even those ready, able and willing to do so don't agree on how to do it. That's one of the main reasons, albeit not the only one, of course, why it hasn't happened and why so much of what I think you would describe as real political work is mostly carried out at the cell level with only the occasional coming together of the cells. Getting ourselves to the  level of a larger organism is the challenge. We've been on the brink of it occasionally.

            Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

            by Meteor Blades on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 06:45:54 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  then why not use a forum like Daily Kos (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassiodorus

              to get some cohesion on "how to do it."

              No, not rocket science, I agree... it's more difficult.

              there is one very clever format, engaged by the devious Ralph Reed. and Howard Dean got it as well.

              Vermont is another very good example of how to fight federal insanity.

              The biggest gap I see is this: seeing the trees for the forest. what are the overarching one/two maybe three issues that define how we behave, our values, our expectations.

              i say it's this: THE LAW. issue one. issue two? climate change and how we prepare for it, live through it, and create perhaps another greatest generation in pushing creativity, collective effort, and community.

              issue three? understanding how real economies work.

              and while we all clamor for health care, we don't seem to understand the issues driving our desires and fears. we are willing to pay any price, it seems, to be "covered."

              i think it's ridiculous. we are temporary beings and maybe it's smarter to protect the infrastructures (ecological et al) that sustain all of us temporary beings. Safe food/water/air/soil. Social justice and safety nets.

              And we're not even talking about attaching the net profits of societal killing machines, like cigarette companies, to pay into the health care system.

              it's like we aren't seeing the real problems and digging down where we need to start to unravel this mess.

              •  To me it seems to boil down to (0+ / 0-)

                a vision thing. As MB said, it is very difficult to get people to agree. People on this blog are the same as people in Occupy. They come from all points on the political spectrum. Occupy hasn't been able to come up with a vision statement (although some people are still working on it) because, imo, getting a vision of where we want to be in the next 25 years is damn hard, especially since we have a hard time laying down the baggage of NOW and finding an unfettered view of where we would like to be.  But the real kicker is getting people to agree on any one vision.

                Just take voting for instance. Some people are thinking that a kid gets registered at birth and when s/he gets 18 voila' the ballot is there waiting for them.  Or email or tweet voting has been called into the mix as well. But those ideas aren't visions per se but implementations of that vision. The vision might be we all have unfettered access to the ballot box.

                Yes the hard part would come in how we implement that vision, but just having the vision would be a start.

                American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

                by glitterscale on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 06:40:36 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  we have a vision: sustainability & stability (0+ / 0-)

                  since maybe 800 million people decide the future for the rest of the 7 plus billion, i'd say this:

                  no more CHEAP goods or labor. regionalized economies must be the backbone with global markets relegated to only a piece of and not the driver of economy.

                  just this one thing would reverse a lot of problems keep us out of other people's countries.

                  if markets rule, then let's rule. but we don't.

                  second... we need to stop exporting our western world view as the saving grace of humanity. it isn't. if we want to help people in developing countries (as we call them), then we need to understand them within their cultures and how things work in their world... not how we would do it in ours. I saw one crazy poster, but it made me think: billions of dollars for vaccines for third world children, but no food.

                  I mean, do we have a coordinated clue about what the fuck we're doing? and how much of what we've done, in the name of humanity, has screwed things up even more?

                  lastly, as I now can claim half a century and more, i find it alarming that we, as temporary beings, are so fixated on clinging to our own lives at any cost... instead of understanding our place in this world and our obligation (if we see it that way) to leave a sustainable planet for those who follow... and hopefully imbue them with a love of this living planet and all of the earthlings on it. because we all have a stake in this place...

                  •  We may not have either stability or sustainability (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    pfiore8, Meteor Blades

                    in the next few years because of global weirding. But I agree that we should envision both and work towards both even though it is very possible that the in between years will be rough. But we should add, imo, a vision that resources like clean air and water are not free for the taking and that environmental impacts must hit that companies bottom line and not the communities exchequer. So things that have a hit and need some kind of recycling, that has to be added to the product's cost.

                    This will make all kinds of people scream, but it is what we should have been doing all along rather than sticking our heads in the sand. Instead of the maxim "there is no such thing as a free lunch" we should instead be saying "there is no such thing as free resources". (And there isn't. The taxpayer is on the hook, when the companies get off free!)

                    American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

                    by glitterscale on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 08:03:29 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  water should be free to citizens (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      glitterscale

                      and NEVER EVER privatized, as we are now be conditioned by paying for all this bottled water... as though it is better than tap.

                      your statement about environmental impact is at the heart of no more CHEAP goods. we have to pay what a thing is worth, including the clean up.

                      this is key and something that must include the impact of cigarettes etc... it never ceases to amaze me that we find it a regulatory "must" that companies pay for cleaning up their messes (and I totally agree) but somehow never include tobacco companies their (or alcohol)... it isn't good enough to lay it at the feet of users. it takes two and in fact, more. many of us have been collateral damage around one or the other.

                      •  We pay for our water with our tax dollars (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        pfiore8

                        We pay for environmental clean up with our tax dollars. I think that the products that use our water, use our air and return both with pollution ought to pay for that out of their profits.

                        When the rethugs go on and on about privatization, what they really are talking about is giving those tax dollars to companies who may or may not have exorbitant profits for the doing. It is crony capitalism, imo, giving away our exchequer to corporations.  And with privatization, we always have to pay for that corporation's profit on top of the regular tax bite.

                        What we never have done (probably because both parties are in bed with the corporatists, is to ask for a reasonable debate about the pros and cons of any privatization. Instead at the political level all we hear about is that government is bad.

                        American Television is a vast sea of stupid. -xxdr zombiexx

                        by glitterscale on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 12:13:24 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  I don't see anything stopping Daily Kos... (0+ / 0-)

                ...from including such a discussion in its forums.

                Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

                by Meteor Blades on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 02:40:12 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  ahhhhh... (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Cassiodorus

                  well, i'm looking for more than another forum.

                  but some move toward a non-partisan strategy and putting issues center... not candidates or national political brands.

                  if we are to be successful, we indeed need a big tent of ideas and that comes from all kinds of places. some kind of non partisan rudder is needed to bring good people to the table and help to clarify what combinations of ideas and strategies might work...

                  Daily Kos has a platform... i cringe when i read it with hyperbole and over-the-top headlines that are the mirror image of sites on the right.

                  all this noise doesn't make us different, stand out, or more credible. holding decision makers accountable despite party would help get dKos there and perhaps change its trajectory towards an independent town square in a virtual world truly needing some detachment from all the side taking.

    •  George Carlin pointed out that politicians are us (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eyesbright, penguins4peace

      They graduate from our universities and live in our neighborhoods.

      If we get bad politicians, it's because good people aren't choosing to run for office.

  •  Looking back from years in the future... (9+ / 0-)

    I know people who have struggled with political activism for well over half a century and I know people who are struggling with their first election.

    There is something to reflect on about  how our lifetime of experience may affect what we see.  

    As I look at this election, I cannot be any more committed to the need to warn people that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan represent a maturing of a political infection that has been causing the body politick pain since the time of Hoover and it is very dangerous.  

    It is in fact disappointing that we don't have a more affirmative choice on the table than this situation offers.  I mean, my God! these people want to bring back the era Charles Dickens described.  Lines from present day GOP speeches are echoing from Dickens' pages.

    I think what is going on is the death throes of the
    "Ancien Regime" that would take us all down with it.  We need to do something to get past this.  Vote.  Get the GOP off our backs.  Help them get cured of their sickness.  

    One might indeed be chagrined that there isn't a great debate about the true underlying dynamics.  

    But I can see why that is the case.  There are too many special interests who make it their business to keep the discussion limited.  They are simply selfish and blind.  

    Some of the people behind this are the very kids I was in college with, back in the 70s.  

    What I did not anticipate back then was that the prospect of continuing progressive reforms, building on the Civil Rights movement, the Women's Movement, and the whole energy of opposing the Vietnam War and war in general, became instead a backlash against progressivism.  

    A lot of progressive thinkers went off and did stuff, like really dig in and invent ways to use alternative energy.  That effort actually took decades of serious hard work.  

    But the kids I went to school with that were born again Christians who were all into getting power so that they could oppose reforms from the Great Society and even the New Deal, weren't just bullshitting.  They inherited major oil fortunes.  They were able to buy up media organizations and they funded many think tanks.  They sponsored political careers.  

    That is the problem.  You can't know what everyone in your generation is thinking and they may be on a different track.

    But it also points out something worth considering.  This year's election, while important, isn't the end game.

    The work of a generation, for the next 20, 30, or 50 years or so could be taking what seems obvious about the way the economy of the world is structured and governed and making the changes that really need to be made in order to bring about the potential future that the human race really ought to be moving towards.  

    It isn't really worth it to consider smaller goals.  The real issues are big ones, unprecedented motherfuckers.  

    The reason that our politics at present is not addressing these very well is that we have inherited a system that is still adjusted to a level of complexity and speed that is very backward.  Indeed, the right wing is hoping to actually put the gear into reverse.  

    All our institutions are geared for a world that we once could assume we knew and we understood in terms that were understandable decades ago.  

    That world is no longer in effect and there are a lot of people trying very hard to disbelieve that or to find another way to get back what they thought was theirs to inherit.  

    Reality, in short isn't going to be popular.  A lot of people actually want to be lied to about what is going on.  

    So the challenge, for those in college now, is to look ahead and try to be tough.  Tougher than anyone who came before you has been, except perhaps for the WWII generation.  

    It will take a lot of discipline to gain the skills and then the mastery over systems like economics or governance to be capable of overcoming the disparity between the paradigms.

    It will take a sustained effort that is serious for years and it will be the work of a lifetime.  

    It will take getting involved in politics at every level and really getting to understand the nuts and the bolts of it and the ways that communication in public works and doesn't work.  

    There isn't a lot of use in indulging in cynicism about the fact that the big issues don't seem to be on the table.  They are, just not in direct language.  The challenge is going to be to take this whole thing to the next level and that begins with being in the game now.

    If you can see clearly, you can see that you have inherited a hell of a challenge.  In just a few decades there may be some real intense circumstances arising that could test the human race to its greatest survival stress.  Or not.  But the road ahead doesn't look like the prosperity of the 1950s.  

    Since it is not possible to escape this state of affairs, the best thing to do is to fully embrace it and work it.  

    The Presidential contest involves people who were educated and went through a period of experience gathering in the real world, testing out that education.  

    Thus, what you see and hear are the results of thinking about things for years, coming out of the past three or four decades.  That is how human life works.  

    What will those who bring the next two or three decades worth of education and life experience to the table debate?

    Will you be standing at that lecturn?  You might.  Why not?

    If there is any advice worth passing on, it is this:
        Don't sell yourself short. You will be here.  

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 12:18:19 AM PDT

    •  You should repost this as a diary! (3+ / 0-)

      Good food for thought and discussion.

      Thanks!


      The Fail will continue until actual torches and pitchforks are set in motion. - Pangolin@kunstler.com

      by No one gets out alive on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:32:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I appreciate the lengthy expression of thought (3+ / 0-)

      here -- but I don't feel secure that you are paying attention to what I have said above, or for that matter to political reality.  It appears, in fact, that the promoters of the current "Kabuki theater" of political rhetoric have stolen a page from you, or is it you from them?  Let's take, for instance, this passage:

      I think what is going on is the death throes of the "Ancien Regime" that would take us all down with it.  We need to do something to get past this.  Vote.  Get the GOP off our backs.  Help them get cured of their sickness.
      The Democrats lost in 2010.  Did the "Ancien Regime" miraculously recover from its "death throes" -- the ones which Kos himself proclaimed after looking at the statistics back in 2009 and showing definitively that the GOP was shrinking in every region of America outside of Appalachia?  

      You know, like when the Democrats lost in 1994 after holding all of the good cards then?  

      Or is it that a few voters discovered that the Democrats were the "ancien regime" too, and stopped voting?

      It's not like you can point to the employment-population ratio anymore and tell us that the Republicans are entirely at fault.

       Also, this one:

      There isn't a lot of use in indulging in cynicism about the fact that the big issues don't seem to be on the table.  They are, just not in direct language.
      This is patently untrue.  The real issues -- war, poverty, global warming -- are in fact off the table.  This is why they continue to be real issues, if only among a small avant-garde dedicated to discussing them -- if they had been on the table, we could have decided on a proactive approach to all of them a long time ago, and democracy would have a chance.  

      Clearly none of this is happening -- there's no antiwar movement, austerity is spreading everywhere, and carbon emissions are accelerating.

      Maybe your issue here is located in this statement of yours:

      Reality, in short isn't going to be popular.  A lot of people actually want to be lied to about what is going on.  
      This may be the truest thing you've said, but mostly it's true in its application to you.  I gave you a real picture of American politics today -- there's a frontstage in which the Kabuki theater is performed, and a backstage in which the real deals are made.  To how much of what I said did you pay attention?

      Oh, it's a disgrace To see the human-race In a rat race -Bob Marley

      by Cassiodorus on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 05:40:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  First off, Stuart's piece is well thought out. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eyesbright, penguins4peace

      Action reflects experience, which makes for a deeper sense of responsibility in choosing what we do.

      The reply by Cassiodorus seems to me more a reflection of feelings, frustrations. Facts appear, but not with logical connection to the processes that are being addressed.

      Restating an analogy does not address the evidence at hand.

      The frontstage/backstage analogy feels good going down on a keyboard. That is not effective use of inductive logic. Liking your own analogies is not much for debate work.

      From Stuart:

      "We need to do something to get past this.  Vote.  Get the GOP off our backs.  Help them get cured of their sickness."
      That needs framing, highlighting.

      The billionaire-paid *&^$%^& GOPer professionals -- Karl Rove, for one -- are as poisonous as coral snakes. Issue after issue after issue they push policies that are destructive of country and planet.

      They are Know Nothings on hallucinogenic drugs. We can stop them in their tracks or else see America get much worse off.

      •  A response to what I said would be nice. (0+ / 0-)

        Or maybe you and "Stuart Heady" could make your own diary?

        Oh, it's a disgrace To see the human-race In a rat race -Bob Marley

        by Cassiodorus on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 07:26:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  One reply to Cassiodorus (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bontemps2012

          Your request for a response is worth a well considered effort.  I popped in here just to see what the discussion became after I logged off.  Usually a lengthy post like the one I dropped in with gets ignored.  Mostly because of the length.  I apologize.  I must have been in a reflective mood and should have edited.

          It is hard to disagree with the various points in the diary.  I only can add something which comes from looking at this stuff awhile.

          I spent a good deal of energy for about a ten year period grappling with the public education and communication issues that are necessary to politics.  I now look back on that as a kind of school of hard knox and have been considering what that has taught.

          Mainly, I would say that in addition to the foreground and background, which is preceptive, there is the short term and the long term.

          The long term doesn't emerge quickly.  Why is that?

          I think that is the structure of communication in our society.  If you look at it from the perspective of the opportunities available for public education, which are very limited, the short term nature of things fits the sound bite best.

          Long term requires depth of thought and consideration and that is not an easy process.  It can't be hurried.  

          But perhaps there are ways that more people can pursue a larger dialogue about what is really important.  

          This text here on this screen suggests a pathway that wasn't here before.  

          hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

          by Stuart Heady on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 10:08:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Cicero had the same problem. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Eyesbright

            His tools for developing memory and for internal structures to support analytical thinking have remained important for the many centuries.

            Teaching people to think's a xxxxx.

            How many people memorize poems?

            Or build internal buildings in memory with "rooms" for storing keys for things you want to recall?

            Understand the importance of the Trivium and Quadrivium?

            Much less, how does any form of analytical thinking compete with texting and twitter?

            I went to public school. We learned Latin. Read it, anyway. Find that anymore....

            (Meanwhile, Cassiodorus is displeased. Kicked off a big discussion, but instead of following it, she wants it to be about her. That's the Internet !!)

            •  The media problem is a problem here (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Eyesbright, bontemps2012

              Discussions on this forum normally are not sustained.  Diaries roll down off the front page pretty quickly so most of what passes for dialogue has a video game quality to it.  

              The potential for a long term, deeper and more sustained dialogue exists, but it isn't really in the software.  

              We have to learn how to do something we don't know how to do and invent ways to facilitate it.

              I think this is beyond anyone's ability to invent, rather this will evolve out of necessity.  

              hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

              by Stuart Heady on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 01:16:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  foolmoon.com is set up for that. (0+ / 0-)

                We posted our big attack on Romney for careless driving that killed Leola Anderson and then lying his ass off (slandering a Catholic bishop.)

                -- Here it ran off the page -- then got 6,700+ SHARE clicks and 900+ FB Likes. No where near enough to make a broad impact. Gets to Cap Hill. That's all.

                -- At foolmoon it has 40,000 distinct URL reads and it's floating near the top of the Domestic Affairs group.

                -- Now it's getting roughly 1,200 new readers a day.

                -- There's also 180,000 mailers out and in USPS. That'll grow. At a couple million, the end run around electronic media starts to matter.

                The anti-abortion people got their "A Child Is Not A Choice" campaign to full power with no electronic support.

                Do what works. Attract resources before you get buried in the project, itself.

  •  Well done n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 02:21:20 PM PDT

  •  We live in a democratic republic (0+ / 0-)

    where our various individual and collective interests are promoted or demoted or just plain ignored by our elected representatives, and the ONLY ways of getting them to promote them is by either electing ones who are likely to do so and/or convincing those already in office to do so, by one means or another, be it gentle persuasion, forceful advocacy, or plain old political pressure. Since we're not the only ones with interests, we have to compete with them for our representatives' support. And since we don't have the big bucks that many other interests have, we have to come up with other ways of competing with them.

    Like numbers. As in numbers of people. Large numbers of people. Who vote. Only through numbers, and the effective organization of such numbers, can we hope to compete with the big bucks of special interests. The only reason that politicans like interests with money (aside from the fancy dinners and hotels and "perks" that they obtain for them) is because their money makes it possible for them to pay for the sort of PR they need to get the votes of swing voters, and the sort of GOTV effort that gets their base to vote. But if we could come up with enough votes to counter all the votes that this money effectively buys, then suddenly money becomes less important in politics.

    Money vs. people. Who wins this war is who wins the country.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Tue Oct 02, 2012 at 08:41:50 PM PDT

  •  What stopped me when I was young (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    Was one thing: the Electoral College.

    Once I realized that my vote for president was really irrelevant, and that people that I didn't vote for were  making the decision, I was totally discouraged and disgusted so bowed out for over 20 years, pursuing my own life without doing anything political.

    As I see it, the Electoral College is one of the worst things we have. It takes away the most important vote and gives it to the unelected, bought crowd.

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Sat Oct 06, 2012 at 02:44:31 PM PDT

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