Postcards:

For all things philosophical.

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d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:43 pm

“More specifically, it [the metaphorical approach to changing belief systems] is to think of truth as something as something that is not already within us. Rather, it is something which may only become available to us thanks to an idiosyncratic genius. Such a conception of truth legitimizes auditory metaphors: a voice from far off, a Ruf des Gewissen, a word spoken out of darkness.

Another way of putting this point is to say, with Davidson, that “the irrational” is essential to intellectual progress.” –from Rorty’s Heidegger and Other Essays

Here again, we come up against that pragmatic overlap between Deleuze and Rorty. And I would note here especially the phrase “a word spoken out of darkness” in which one could easily sense echoes of D&G’s concept of desiring production in the Anti-Oedipus: schizoanalysis. But more notable is the common emphasis of both on the creative act: their common sense that philosophy is as much a creative act as it is a matter of any kind of truth seeking. The main difference between them is a matter of temperament: Deleuze’s radicalism as compared to Rorty’s bourgeoisie liberalism. As D&G wrote in What is Philosophy:

“Dinner and conversation at the Rorty’s”

And what we should also note here is how Rorty’s (as well as Deleuze’s implicit (w/ and w/out Guatarri (point about metaphor is confirmed by contemporary dream research: the generally accepted theory that dreams play a role in neuroplasticity. Earlier in the book, the metaphorical approach to changing belief systems was compared to two other approaches: perception in which its changed by perceiving something that goes against one’s present belief system, and inference in which previous beliefs lead us (through an inevitable tension (to see that we can no longer maintain the belief system we currently hold. And as Rorty also points out, these two approaches leave the language (the underlying framework of thought (we use unchallenged.

Metaphor, on the other hand, opens up the framework (via language (hence Davidson’s rejection of thinking of metaphor as having meaning in any real meaningful sense (much as dreaming does the brain (via neuroplasticity (for the sake of expanded possibilities for the mind.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:30 pm

Dear Diary Moment 1/27/2019:

"To my mind, the persistence on the left of this notion of "radical critique" is an unfortunate residue of the scientistic conception of philosophy. Neither the idea of penetrating to a reality behind the appearances, nor that of theoretical foundations for politics, coheres with the conception of language and inquiry which, I have been arguing, is common to Heidegger and to Dewey. For both ideas presuppose that someday we shall penetrate to the true, natural, ahistorical matrix of all possible language and knowledge. Marx, for all his insistence on the priority of praxis, clung to both ideas, and they became dominant within Marxism after Lenin and Stalin turned Marxism into a state religion. But there is no reason either should be adopted by those who are not obliged to practice this religion." -from 'Philosophy as Science, Metaphor, Politics' in Rorty's Essays on Heidegger and Others

I would start by isolating this particular section:

"To my mind, the persistence on the left of this notion of "radical critique" is an unfortunate residue of the scientistic conception of philosophy.”

While I’m not totally in agreement with Rorty’s use of the qualifier “unfortunate” (I may be a pragmatist at heart, but I’m just not that pragmatic), I agree with the main thesis: a lot of the obscurity (read: radical (we find in philosophy may well be the result of trying to compete with science: the guilt at not being able to create an i-phone which most people are more likely to draw to. And Rorty is right in pointing out that for all of Marx’s emphasis on changing things, he hardly helped himself by working in the ethereal realm of theory. This, I think, is why Marx has become obsolete in that a lot of less theoretical writers have done a real good job of describing the failures of Capitalism without even referring to Marx. In fact, it may well be that Marx didn’t so much become obsolete as he became superfluous to the cause. I can more easily get the information I need to be critical of Capitalism through much lighter reading such as Naomi Klein, Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Ha-Joon Chang and, the book I am listening to lately: Anand Giridharadis' Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World –all of which, BTW, I have come to know through audio books that don’t (beyond the in-depth anecdotal information they offer you (require a lot of in-depth reading.

And such is my pragmatic conundrum: why bother with high theory when I can more easily get the information I need without the pains I go through over such thinkers as Rorty and his other two companions in my holy triad: Deleuze and Žižek? And this question becomes even more pronounced under the threat to our democracy called Trump. And the only answer I can offer is that “radical theory” is a form of play: something engaged in for the same reason one might become a gamer. But it is a form of play with some perhaps serious consequences: that which could change sensibilities. Some of it may well trickle down into the day to day. But let’s not make the mistake, as Rorty is trying to point out (that is from the perspective of someone who has taken the time to understand such philosophical icons as Heidegger and Derrida), of taking it more seriously than it really warrants as concerns social and political policy.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:37 pm

Dear Diary Moment 1/31/2019:

One of the things that are getting crystallized in my present immersion in Rorty’s Essays on Heidegger and Others is the import of metaphor as a means of changing belief systems. But in order to understand it, I have to put in the context of the other two means Rorty presented: perception (which can be associated with the empirical method and correspondence truth test) and coherence (which can be associated with the deductive method and coherence truth test). And it is important to note here that Rorty (via Heidegger (associates these with the mathematical approach to philosophy. And he does this because neither approach, while effectively changing belief systems, manages to change the language we use to explain them and, thereby, fail to change the language game (therefore the logical space (we tend to work in.

That is the gap that metaphor (a loose equivalent of the pragmatic truth test and Walter Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” (tends to fill by changing the language and, consequently, the logical space we work in. And what is important to understand here (via Davidson (is that metaphor has no meaning or content in itself. All it does is change the framework by which we work via the words we use within that framework: the logical space that is either expanded or revised.

(And I would note the overlap here with Marcuse’s concept of operationalism in One Dimensional Man.)

And yet again, I am given an opportunity to point to the pragmatic overlap between Rorty and Deleuze (this time specifically w/ Guatarri –and likely at the expense of the irritation of my fellow Deleuzians. If you think about the Anti-Oedipus, it is about a metaphorical framework in the form of Capitalism that they were attempting to overcome via a metaphorical shift they referred to as schizoanalysis. Now I understand they were arguing that things like desiring machines and desiring production were not just metaphors. But I consider that a mistake –perhaps even intellectual arrogance. By making such arguments, they leave their selves vulnerable to those who take what they argue too literally.

However, by looking at it as metaphor, you leave what you are offering as something the other can either leave or take. You offer it humbly as a framework in which the individual can fill with their own content.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:14 pm

" I can summarize my attempt to split the difference between Lyotard and Habermas by saying that this Deweyan attempt to make concrete concerns with the daily problems of one's community -social engineering- the substitute for traditional religion seems to me to embody Lyotard's postmodernist "incredulity towards metanarratives" while dispensing with the assumption that the intellectual has a mission to be avant-garde, to escape the rules and practices and institutions which have been transmitted to her in favor of something which will make possible "authentic criticism." Lyotard unfortunate retains one of the Left's silliest ideas -that escaping from such institutions is automatically a good thing, because it insures that one will not be "used" by the evil forces which have "co-opted" these institutions. Leftism of this sort necessarily devalues consensus and communication, for insofar as the intellectual remains able to talk to people outside of the avant-garde she "compromises" herself. Lyotard exalts the "sublime" and argues that Habermas' hope that the arts might serve to "explore a living historical situation" and to "bridge the gap between cognitive, ethical and political discourses," shows that Habermas has only an "aesthetic of the beautiful". On the view I am suggesting, one should see the quest for the sublime, the attempt (in Lyotard's words) to "present the fact that the unpresentable exists," as one of the prettier unforced blue flowers of bourgeois culture. But this quest is wildly irrelevant to the attempt at communicative consensus which is the vital force which drives that culture.

More generally, one should see the intellectual qua intellectual as having a special, idiosyncratic need -a need for the ineffable, the sublime, a need to go beyond the limits, a need to use words which are not part of anybody's language game, any social institution." -from Rorty's article "Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity" in Essays on Heidegger and Others

First of all, guys, there is a lot here already in the quote. And I mainly post the whole thing above in order to have what I’m going to post and bounce off of to have it readily available. So it could get a lot longer. And I apologize for that ahead of time.

Secondly, this pretty much encapsulates why Rorty’s pragmatism is so dear to my heart while also justifying why I include him in my holy triad along with Deleuze and Žižek. And I would start with:

“More generally, one should see the intellectual qua intellectual as having a special, idiosyncratic need -a need for the ineffable, the sublime, a need to go beyond the limits, a need to use words which are not part of anybody's language game, any social institution."

I have always described that “idiosyncratic need” as “depth, intensity, and lightness of touch”. There was another French term offered to me via an interview of the actor John Lithgow stolen from ballet: that which meant lifting oneself into pure air –that which is expressed in the pirouette. But, ultimately, what it comes down to is the very rock star approach to intellectualism (via philosophy (that Deleuze had to offer. Hence: my inclusion of him in my holy triad w/ Rorty in that Rorty (while maintaining a distance from Deleuze’s avant-garde approach (showed a knowledgeable respect for it in very sharp contrast to Sokal’s cheap trick and attack on thinkers like Lyotard, Deleuze, Foucault, and other contemporary continental thinkers.

That said, Rorty’s main point here is a very democratic one: that it is going to take a lot of different people dedicated to a lot of different methods for different reasons to fix this: those who turn to the avant-garde in order to change sensibilities (see Lyotard (as well those who choose to accept grand narratives for the sake of social justice: see Habermas.

It comes down to Rorty’s repeated insistence that language is basically a tool with which we achieve desired effects. And under this model, we can see Lyotard’s embrace of the avant-garde and sublime as useful as Habermas’ search for a solid foundation for a liberal politics.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:28 pm

"Economists have a singular method of procedure. There are only two kinds of institutions for them, artificial and natural. The institutions of feudalism are artificial institutions, those of the bourgeoisie are natural institutions. In this, they resemble the theologians, who likewise establish two kinds of religion. Every religion which is not theirs is an invent of men, while their own is an emanation from God. When the economists say that present-day relations -the relations of bourgeois production- are natural, they imply that these are the relations in in which wealth is created and productive forces developed in with the laws of nature. These relations therefore are themselves natural laws independent of the influence of time. They are eternal laws which must always govern society. Thus, there has been history, but there is no longer any. There has been history, since there were the institutions of feudalism, and in these institutions of feudalism we find quite different relations of production from those of bourgeois society, which the economists try to pass off as natural and, as such, eternal" -a quote from Marx's The Poverty of Philosophy extracted from Slavoj Žižek’s First as Tragedy Then as Farce

There is a lot here in the context of my process. Unfortunately, in my IADD (Intellectual Attention Deficit Disorder), I’m a little like Trump in that I’m easily distracted by the next shiny object which could be the next quote I come across in Žižek’s book. But I’ll do the best I can with the window I have. And I would start with my mixed feelings on this. On one hand I’m with Žižek when he says:

“Economists have a singular method of procedure. There are only two kinds of institutions for them, artificial and natural. The institutions of feudalism are artificial institutions; those of the bourgeoisie are natural institutions.”

But I would humbly revise the point by noting a kind of imperative that economists tend to work under. But first we have to drop the loaded terms of Capitalism and Socialism and think in terms of a spectrum between a market economy and a command economy. It is easy to see (to Žižek’s point (why economists might lean towards the market side of the spectrum. The market is dynamic and seemingly unpredictable. The command economy less so: the leader sees that people need more bread and declares that more bread be made –it’s just that simple. So it makes perfect sense for economists (in their effort to be a science (to take on the challenge of the dynamics of a market economy. It’s their bread and butter.

I would even agree with Žižek (as well as Marx, BTW( that this can lead to a kind of religious approach to Capitalism. I mean what is the “Invisible Hand” but some god-like force that neo-liberals imagine. And as I’ve always liked to joke:

It use to be: pray hard and follow these principles and you too can enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Now it’s: work hard and follow these principles and you too can enter the kingdom of success.

Where I depart with Žižek (and Marx as well (is that economists are not always as committed to the above described dynamic as Žižek or Marx or even myself in the above point make it seem. My process of being a critic of Capitalism has been blessed with the influence of such economic thinkers as Paul Krugman and Ha-Joon Chang and Robert Reich (all economists), as well as Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle of MSNBC fame.

I just think that in a confrontation with Capitalism, it would be unwise to dismiss a discipline that is often attacking it from the inside.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:17 pm

"Although the "ruling class" disagrees with the populists' moral agenda, it tolerates the "moral war" as a means of keeping the lower classes in check, that is, it enables the latter to articulate their fury without disturbing the economic status quo. What this means is that the culture war is a class war in displaced mode -pace those who claim that we live in a post-class society...." -from Žižek’s First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

This is the one consolation progressives can take from the despicable authoritarian/antidemocratic tactics of the right: the very fact that the alliance of the evangelical right and libertarian/freemarketfundamantalist (think Ayn Rand (is a very precarious one. In fact, the only thing that holds them together is their hatred of progressives. And while there is the shared Calvinistic tradition between them (this notion that one’s standing in God’s eyes can be known through prosperity: the invisible hand of the market), one can only imagine the conflict that would arise between them were the progressives taken out of the picture. In other words, while the libertarian right might not share the evangelical right’s religious and moral convictions, they share a religious approach to capitalism, one that would easily fall apart once there were no longer progressives around to hate.

Žižek later goes on to explain the very real affects of this religious approach to Capitalism:

"Here one has to ask a naive question: did Madoff not know that, in the long term, his scheme was bound to collapse? What force denied him this obvious insight? Not Madoff's own personal vice or irrationality, but rather a pressure, an inner drive to go on, to expand the sphere of circulation in order to keep the machinery running, inscribed into the very system of capitalist relations. In other words, the temptation to "morph" legitimate business into a pyramid scheme is part of the very nature of capitalist relations. There is no exact point at which the Rubicon was crossed and the legitimate business morphed into an illegal scheme; the very dynamic blurs the frontier between "legitimate" investment and "wild" speculation, because capitalistic investment, at its very core, a risky wager that a scheme will turn out to be profitable, an act of borrowing from the future." -ibid

Madoff, basically, was a true believer. He was saturated with the religion of the “Invisible Hand”, and thought that it would justify and save him. And it’s not hard to understand why he would. Corporations are, by law, required to look out for the interests of their investors first. And it wouldn’t work if they did otherwise. If you’re an investor, the last thing you would want is some CEO going hippy and choosing to do the right thing at the expense of profits. Because of that, it’s not the role of corporations to act as moral agents. That is the role of government.

(And as Brian Musumi pointed out to me in his bounce off of D&G's Capitalism and Schizophrenia: the best model for Capitalism is the inner-city drug dealer who acts as a kind exchange point in the flows of money as compared to someone who simply accumulates wealth.)

At the same time, I agree with Žižek’s absolution of Madoff in that Madoff was basically a man caught up in the system (the simulacrum (of Capitalism. To me, it's no wonder he submitted to his fate like he did in the end: he saw exactly what I'm seeing now and repented.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Mar 10, 2019 7:38 pm

Last week on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver offered one of his typically spot on (sometimes profound (takes on our contemporary economy. What he crystallized for me is that what we’re dealing with as concerns Trump’s hardcore followers is a fantasy world in which we go back to the old manufacturing economy. And you can’t totally blame them. I’ve drank that Kool-Aid. As a teenager in the 70’s, the assumption was that we would either graduate (or not graduate (from high school and move into union manufacturing jobs like our parents. But that’s not what happened. We failed to anticipate the effects of an emerging global economy ushered in by developing technologies in transport and communications. So I can understand the MEGA-nut’s frustration.

But I would ask them one important question: Does any of them remember what it was like to stand in a fucking assembly line staring at the clock as it crawled to the next break or quitting time? I mean at some point or other, they have to ask their selves why it is mainly Mexican immigrants going into meat packing plants every day.

The truth is: globalism is the genie out of the bottle and there is no turning back. Even if these factories were brought back to America, it wouldn’t change anything because of automation. In other words, as John Oliver crystallized, what we’re dealing with as concerns the MEGA-nuts is a fantasy incapable of recognizing the new knowledge economy. What he pointed out is that the job market of today will require skills of a more cerebral quality, things like critical thinking skills and creativity.

And what it inspired in me was cause for hope as concerns the current threat to our democracy: the Republican Party as it now stands under Trump. And we have to think of it terms of evolutionary adaption. If the new economy requires critical thinking skills and creativity, then the MEGA-nuts are a system that can no longer be sustained, that must be naturally selected out of the system as a whole. In other words, it may well be the market (whatever issues I take with it (that makes the republican platform that unconditionally embraces the market obsolete as it should be, that is while the critical thinking skills and creativity required to thrive in the market bleeds into how people think about others, how they choose to treat them, even if it comes at their own minimal expense. It could be how we evolve from the competitive mode of the MEGA-nut and the Republican platform to the cooperative required if we are to survive as a species.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Mar 14, 2019 8:33 pm

Dear Diary Moment 3/14/2019:

Lately I’ve been going through the latest issue of Philosophy Now which focuses on mind and self. And the most telling thing about the experience is how I feel like I’m just shutting down throughout it all –how I’m hardly inspired. And do not get me wrong: this is not some snobbish dismissal of the issue. As a Philosophy 101 thing (as well as a Philosophy Now approach), I’m perfectly aware of how important it is to any philosophical process. It’s just what Philosophy Now does. And you gotta respect them for that. I simply will not dis them.

This is more about how I’m reacting to it and an exploration of the whys. And this is important in that I’m having an equally hard time getting into more contemporary pop-philosophers such as Searle, Dennet, Nussbaum, or even Hofstadter who tend to approach philosophy in terms that would be far easier for me to understand than my holy triad: Rorty, Žižek, and Deleuze (and I mean it: damn the French and their weird/obscure philosophies anyway). It’s almost a kind of masochistic impulse on my part: I draw towards what eludes me. As I’m experiencing it, going back to Searle, Dennet, Nussbaum, and Hofstadter (or the subjects being covered by Philosophy Now (would feel like reading a lot of poetry and going back to Ginsberg’s Howl: it was a cool poem that worked for you at an early stage in your process (inspired you to explore further), but hard to bring yourself to want to go back to.

The question for me is how this came to be:

It could be that I (having the addictive personality that I have (have drawn to the elusive. It’s a little like a gambling addiction in that sense of abuse and reward. As I have described Deleuze for some time now: he’s like some beautiful French Mademoiselle that makes you believe you can have her. Then, when you approach, she turns and walks away.

On the other hand, it could be that I have worked my way beyond such issues. Still, I would have to say that I miss being engaged in such issues.

Finally, I would point out that I tend to turn on with the audio books I listen to based on recommendations from MSNBC and other more social/political sources. It becomes a matter of what I can use. It’s like I’ve pointed out before: one of the nice things about having a Democrat in the White House is that it allows me the luxury of dealing with more abstract and remote issues. But when a Republican one is in it (especially one like Trump), it’s always a call to more political action: a more social/political focus as concerns my process.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Mar 24, 2019 7:28 pm

“For that is what conservatism is: a meditation on— and theoretical rendition of— the felt experience of having power, seeing it threatened, and trying to win it back.” -Robin, Corey. The Reactionary Mind (p. 4). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Think MAGA-Trolls here. This is the very reason that red pill sites (the sanctuary for the sexually frustrated (have become prime recruiting grounds for Neo-Nazi and Alt-Right types.

“Every once in a while, however, the subordinates of this world contest their fates. They protest their conditions, write letters and petitions, join movements, and make demands. Their goals may be minimal and discrete— better safety guards on factory machines, an end to marital rape— but in voicing them, they raise the specter of a more fundamental change in power. They cease to be servants or supplicants and become agents, speaking and acting on their own behalf. More than the reforms themselves, it is this assertion of agency by the subject class— the appearance of an insistent and independent voice of demand— that vexes their superiors.” -ibid

This is one of those instances where we get to straddle philosophical theory and political/social theory. And I would do so by noting the element of solipsism at work in what Robin describes above. But first a little refresher on what solipsism is. First of all, contrary to our intuitions on it, we are, from an ontological perspective, basically objects occupying each other’s space. At the same time, we are perceiving things looking out of our bodies at those other objects. And because of that, we suffer from the egocentric dilemma of not being to see the world from the perspective of the other. We are, in a sense, trapped in our own flesh. On top of that, experiencing ourselves as perceiving things as we do, we have to make a leap of faith to think of the other, the object occupying our space, as having a perceiving thing much like ours. Unfortunately (because everything seems to be happening to us), that leap of faith fails us and we slip into seeing the other purely as an object occupying our space: solipsism.

(And put in mind here that it is the dynamic of solipsism that allows one group of people to force another group of people into ovens while referring to them as “rats”, or a group such as the Hutu’s to attempt to eliminate the Tutsis while referring to them as “cockroaches”.)

And it is this solipsism (or the threatening of it: the undermining of the comfort of it (that is at work when the status quo faces a challenge from revolutionary forces that seek to take power from them. As Corey brilliantly points out, the biggest threat seems to be that the sovereign are capable of agency outside of the master’s will.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Mon Mar 25, 2019 9:51 pm

“But to appreciate fully the inventiveness of right-wing populism, we have to turn to the master class of the Old South. The slaveholder created a quintessential form of democratic feudalism, turning the white majority into a lordly class, sharing in the privileges and prerogatives of governing the slave class. Though the members of this ruling class knew that they were not equal to each other, they were compensated by the illusion of superiority— and the reality of rule— over the black population beneath them.” -Robin, Corey. The Reactionary Mind (p. 53). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

This basically goes to the question that Deleuze and Guatarri (via Wilhelm Reich (asked: what it is about people that seem to seek out their own oppression, to vote against their own interests. And we see it all over the con job that the republicans are selling people today. Take, for instance, the republican tax reform. As Paul Ryan sold it, it was all about putting more money in the pockets of “working families”. But that was hardly the case. You have to put in mind that Ryan was a big fan of Ayn Rand who glorified the rich: the supposed “god-like” that she was so fond of. Ryan didn’t care about working families. All he cared about was his country-club buddies whose asses he had to lick to get where he was –much like Rand. And however he may have spinned it, his retirement (his exit-stage-left (was him getting out of Dodge before the consequences of his tax reform actually took hold. We have to give him credit for being smart enough to foresee those.

And we see this all over the MAGA-trolls. Trump, too, is all about his country-club buddies. But he plays on this common archetype of the “truthful outburst” (think of the movies “Man of the Year” and “Bulworth” (as the book points out, rightwingers are notorious for adapting leftist motifs) in order to convince his followers that he is authentic. And he does it in the same manner those of the Old South did (that is while maintaining a hierarchical advantage over them): by deluding them into believing they are part of his “in-crowd”. It’s exactly what Hitler did while maintaining a distance between him and his fans.

Now add to that the power of media (how Capitalism via media sells possibility more than anything: who wants to be a millionaire?), and you get a sense of how what we are dealing with is a highly evolved form of what the Old South utilized to maintain their power over their slaves as well as the less rich whites.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Apr 04, 2019 8:24 pm

“But to appreciate fully the inventiveness of right-wing populism, we have to turn to the master class of the Old South. The slaveholder created a quintessential form of democratic feudalism, turning the white majority into a lordly class, sharing in the privileges and prerogatives of governing the slave class. Though the members of this ruling class knew that they were not equal to each other, they were compensated by the illusion of superiority— and the reality of rule— over the black population beneath them.” -Robin, Corey. The Reactionary Mind (p. 53). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

“That school of thought contended with a second, arguably more influential, school. American slavery was not democratic, according to this line of thinking, because it offered the opportunity for personal mastery to white men. Instead, American slavery was democratic because it made every white man, slaveholder or not, a member of the ruling class by virtue of the color of his skin. In the words of Calhoun: “With us the two great divisions of society are not the rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.” –ibid but on p. 54

It’s like I’ve always said: when it comes to Capitalism there is nothing new under the sun. When it comes to oppression, Capitalism is little more than a more subtle approach to what despotic leaders have been doing since the beginnings of civilization. And this puts some shine on what Robin attempts to explain throughout the book: that conservatives, as a counter-revolutionary force, have always been forced to adopt revolutionary mannerisms. And the reason they have do so is because their position, in a public discourse that inherently must be about what is best for everyone, have little more to offer than what is best for them (that which is intellectually and creatively bankrupt): how they maintain power.

And where we clearly see the evolutionary legacy of the above expressed is in the privatization of the prison system and the mass incarceration of African Americans. What we are looking at is a situation in which shareholders (mostly white (are increasing their dividends through laws that tend to condemn African American men and women to the prison system –that is by keeping them in desperate situations. Of course, the rest of us white Americans who have no stake in the stock market are suppose to overlook this outright form of fascism because at least it’s not us. And in this sense, we’re as empowered as the non-slave holding whites in the old south felt.

(Afterthought: I need to associate this with Žižek’s point about jouissance through others.)

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Re: Postcards:

Post by 11011 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 4:00 pm

are respected and treated as equals
democracy is not the same as egalitarianism

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Apr 05, 2019 8:22 pm

In order to fully understand the dynamic at work here, we have to understand Žižek’s point about jouissance in The Plague of Fantasies. As he explains, we tend to experience pleasure through the pleasure of the other. We do it, for instance, through our children, grandchildren, and our pets. We even do it through our machines. In this case, Žižek points to our tendency to set our recording devices to record more shows than we’ll ever be able watch. It is as if we take a kind of pleasure in knowing our machines have taken some kind of pleasure in those shows that we’ll never get to experience.

And it was this same dynamic that the old south exploited in that by making non-slave holding-whites part of some “in-crowd”, the non-slave-holding whites were able to experience pleasure through those that could afford slaves. And Capitalism has perfected this dynamic via game shows, celebrity culture, legalized gambling, the glamorization of the rich, and reality TV (and who wouldn’t want to think that their life would be so interesting (so profitable (as to be worth recording for prosperity?) in that what it seems to sell best is possibility: a chance to be part of that “in-crowd”. I mean “who wants to be a millionaire”?

This is all over the case for self indulgence at work on FOX News or any Pro-Capitalist argument. It’s not a matter making their case for the cause of self-indulgence. It is, rather, a matter of snidely dismissing any argument against the cult of self-indulgence via the “in-crowd” sensibility. And that vicarious experience of pleasure is the means by which they seduce those who, from a more rational perspective, are being exploited by those higher powers and only stand to lose by supporting such powers. It's how they get them to vote against their own interests.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Mon May 06, 2019 9:52 pm

Dear diary moment 5/6/2019:

I’ve lately (from the perspective of a Metaphysics of Efficiency: that which is maximized by minimizing the differential between input and output (been thinking a lot about what goes on at the deepest and most micro level of things. It seems to me that, at that level, things become an either/or (in other words binary (situation in which an act either achieves an almost 100% efficiency or a zero one. And this is because of the minimal level of expectations at work.

I would return to the main influence on this conceptual scheme: my sustenance as a maintenance tech. Think about an electrical motor which consists of thousands of windings in order for it to work. Now think about any individual winding. It is either working or it is not, close to 100% efficiency or at dead zero. Now think about the collective effect of multiple windings at dead zero. As that occurs, the tech or the technology at work has to increase the energy input in order to get the same effect from that motor. And in the process, efficiency decreases by increasing the differential between the resources available to a given act and the resources gotten out.

And we see as much in life. We have these complex expectations that consist of various sub-expectations. And in the process, we find that the resources available to us force us to shut down other expectations in order to meet the needs of the expectations that are most important to us. And I understand that I am working in broad swipes here: a little (perhaps a lot (abstract and incomplete in my explanation: that, unfortunately, would take a book.

But my main point here is that it seems to me that at the micro level, things seem to work at a more on/off binary manner which (through a cumulative effect (creates the analogue effect we experience in life that works in the spectrum of the differential between input and output. It works very much like a computer.

Or have I completely confused you? Is there any chance of me being able to drop the mic right now?

d63
Posts: 635
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:35 pm

Dear Diary Moment 6/13/2019:

I have, lately, been listening to the audio book for Vegas Tenold’s Everything You Love Will Burn. And it is a book I cannot recommend highly enough as it has certainly widened my perspective on what is going on among white extremist groups. It’s basically a true story by a progressive journalist who managed to get access to white extremist groups while actually being truthful about his political disposition and his intentions. Just the way these people tend to acclimate to this guy is interesting enough in itself. But really interesting is the main character, one Mathew Heimbach (a.k.a. “The Little Fürher” via the Southern Poverty Law Center) who is really an interesting character who acts as a kind of guide to Tenold through the world of right-wing extremism.

Now the important thing to understand is that the book is not apologetics for the general movement. In fact, one of the things it points out repeatedly is how kind of sad and pathetic the movement is given the meetings that are always haunted by a less than expected turnout: most of what you see are barbeques and beers in empty fields that are the numerical equivalent of friendly get-togethers. On top of that, you find out that among the right-wing, the various factions are not as cohesive as you think they are. For instance, there is a lot tension and animosity between the KKK and Skinheads/neo-nazis. The KKK think the skinheads/neo-nazis are a bunch of thugs while the skinheads/neo-nazis think the KKK are outdated dinosaurs who just drink beer and have barbeques. Furthermore, the story is really funny at times which brings me to think that there may well be a movie in the book –that is should there be a group of actors and a director willing to bring it to the screen.

But the main reason I bring this up is the main character Mathew Heimbach who comes off as a reasonably intelligent and articulate guy. He is college trained. And his main agenda as a highly recognized organizer is to create a white nationalism without the antagonism of white supremacy. He, for instance, rejects the idea that whites are any better than any other race. And because of that, he is more of a separatist very much like some black activists. And there are times when his facts are actually accurate such as when he describes the plight of white people in distressed rural areas.

But like most right-wingers, while you agree with them on many particulars, it’s their focuses and conclusions that become problematic. And in this sense, Heimbach’s asset’s become his liabilities. Once again, I believe that what we are dealing with here is a threshold dynamic. What we are dealing with under Trump are people who have a very low threshold for immigration. So you have to ask what happens when people from south feel more pressure to move north either through a decaying political system or climate change which is predicted to effect equator countries first. You have to wonder how attractive a Mathew Heimbach might be to the next higher threshold that is passed.

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