Friday, July 21, 2017

The "First Casualty" In Any War Has Been Famously Described As The Truth

That this sort of thing inevitably gets one to start considering the history of propaganda makes it almost too intimidating to even begin to consider (see here and here just for starters). But we must because the stakes are much higher than the outcome of a certain, current, political crisis.

I bring this up because the divide in perception illustrated by the Atlantic article linked below (via Digg) is still truly astonishing: On the one hand people seeing not only a looming Constitutional crisis, but also seeing our sovereignty as a nation being sold cheap. And on the other people seeing all of the events, and the hoopla surrounding it, as simply incompetence mingled with a whole lot more overblown, partisan blather, from a political faction that lost an election.

And in discussing this, lets forget for a moment who is right or wrong on the principle issue of Russian election interference, or the criminal, and/or impeachable, offenses that certainly seem to a very significant number of Americans to be true. What I want to talk about here is how we came to this pass, and what we can possibly do about it; because no matter which side of this issue you are on, the one thing both sides ought to be able to agree on is the terrible question it begs of us by its very existence: How can a democracy survive if its electorate is so fractured, and fragmented, of view, in what ought to be a certain, limited number, of core consensus understandings; understandings that make us a viable, cohesive social grouping. So disconnected from such understandings, in fact, as to make even determining what is important, and what isn't, nearly impossible, let alone making decisions as to what actual courses of actions should be implemented to address any particular priority.

The other, not so surprising, revelation one makes in thinking about this, is that we have been "at war," in one sense or another, for quite a long time now; perhaps never really stopping after WW 2 at the very least, and perhaps even before that with WW 1. And in this you have your usual suspects certainly: The Cold War in particular to Russia. The war on Communism in general. The economic warfare that may well have started with Colonialism at its very beginnings, and which now has morphed into very high tensions over markets, resources, and who controls what vital lands, or sea ways. Do that for enough decades and of course religion will form a big chunk of the stakeholders, as well as all of the non spiritual ideologies that would argue from various perceptual starting points.

So it would seem that history has bequeathed us with a motherload of causality for why one might want to start being quite paranoid indeed about how we are to proceed with the process of determining a social consensus for those "certain, limited numbers, of core consensus understandings." And make no mistake here. This is no trivial concern. Because many of the current players in this game would like nothing better than to have this situation carried to its quite terrible, but also quite logical, outcome: that the ultimate social chaos that will inevitably come to pass here will make it seem quite proper for a "strongman" (the term for a dictator, whether he be so from a Fascist's point of view, or from a Communist's point of view, which I wish the media would stop using) to come in and just settle the matter by "might makes right."

The bottom line here, of course, is that we all have a point of view. And our interests, and desires, affect those points of view. If you have a very strong interest, as well as a desire, you are understandably going to want to argue as persuasively as you can for the point of view that these factors create. Getting rid of Capitalism, certainly, isn't going to change any of that. We started, after all, as very tribal entities, struggling under great deprivation, to survive. That scarcity, and that struggle, are huge parts of why so much of what history has bequeathed us has been nothing but a big feces sandwich, for so much of the world. And Capitalism was simply one way to organize to allow us to at least rise materially above that scarcity. In doing so, however, it also laid the foundation to make finding consensus about "truth" fundamentally more difficult. It did that because it first made it possible for individuals to have unprecedented amounts of power to work their personal "interests." And it then also created the technological changes that would allow message to be "amplified" way beyond the notion of simply being louder, or spread further (bringing in the notions of psychological engineering, and message consistency over both time, and a host of new communication channels).

What we need to be asking ourselves here is this: How do we come up with an organizational framework that both levels the playing field as far as "messaging" goes, but also makes it more structurally demanding that we find ways to continue to cooperate with each other. In that, it seems to me, creating more situations of ever more competitive self interest to hold sway is not going to be very helpful at all. Any more than leaving too much power in the hands of too few has ever been a very good idea.

This is but one more reason why we are at a pivotal moment in the course of human development. This brand new operating environment carries not only the ills that history has left us with, but with with an old operating system mutated way beyond what its originators ever conceived. So some very big choices confront us. If we don't make them thoughtfully they will be made for us by those who have only the most narrow of interests in mind.

What Congressional Republicans Really Think About Trump and Russia