“Imagine what it would be like if you didn’t know that the evening news was funded primarily by Big Pharma. You would actually believe the stuff that they’re saying. You might even think those are the stories that matter. “ - Douglas Rushkoff (Source)
Once upon a time, political observers fretted that the free press, the government and the democratic process itself were under threat of being overwhelmedRead More
Over the past 250 years, as the industrial revolution progressed and was then superseded by the modern technological age, an epistemological crisis began to fester and grow quietly in the shadows. Our ability to obtain, disseminate, and – most importantly – apply knowledge, has been severely hindered by our industrial and technological success and our response to that success. We have achieved great feats with little or no perceived negative ramifications, thus establishing a false sense of stability in ourselves, our place in the natural order, and the way in which we process and use knowledge. Our ability to shoot for the moon – literally – meant that we presumed we could do no wrong. A precarious place to be to be sure.
And, as the decades rolled on, each continual success served to confirm our superiority over all – even the truth was manipulated. Responsibility fell to the way side. And, if a negative ramification presented itself, we quickly waved it away with the simple justification that the world and everything within it was ours to do with as we wish, and profiting from it was a natural act. Our birthright. It never occurred to us that building an economy based primarily upon a single finite resource – oil – would some day place our entire civilization at great risk of collapse.
Adolfo Doring‘s excellent documentary Blind Spot, contains an interview with Jason Bradford, who explains this epistemological issue very succinctly and eloquently as it relates to our inability to see reality and deal with the responsibility of our massively consumptive society.
We have lost the ability to deal with the concept of responsibility in a proper manner both as individuals and as a society. It’s quite important because lack of responsibility, and its consequence of not confronting reality, leads to the inability to solve complex problems and establish consistent ethical boundaries. Both are the cornerstones of a successful society. A society that is unable to deal with important issues responsibly, and use that knowledge to its advantage in a way that is beneficial to a majority of its citizens is a society that will die. We see the results today in the current culture war. Everyone senses that something is wrong, we simply can’t agree on the truth. It’s as if we’re entrenched in a form of madness.
Which brings us to Charlie Sheen.
As the mass media exploits and the public gorges itself on the ever-unfolding tragic life of actor Charlie Sheen, it has become apparent that Sheen is a practitioner of this epistemological disconnect. So is the mass media. They are by no means alone in this endeavor. It’s widespread. We are all in some way or another, practitioners of the epistemological disconnect from responsibility.
We now face the challenge of rebuilding how we think, how we acquire knowledge and information, and how we apply that knowledge. It is, as Douglas Rushkoff has said, a new renaissance.
Jules Marshall posted a must watch animation from RSA Comment:
…radical sociologist David Harvey asks if it is time to look beyond capitalism, towards a new social order that would allow us to live within a system that could be responsible, just and humane.
Very much worth watching. My comments are below the video.
The trigger to the financial mess is greed. The idea that the system is open-ended, that the sky is the limit, is simply irresponsible. All systems have limits. We’ve reached the limit of capitalsim. And, to be sure, many will simply dismiss this argument as “socialism”. But, as Harvey’s argument posits, there are important points to be gleaned from a socialist approach. You can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater on this issue. This doesn’t mean that people don’t have the right to pursue financial success. What it does mean is that the way that success should be measured needs to change. Warren Buffett has the right idea. There’s a responsibility that comes with financial success. It’s good economics. And, Buffett understands that. The problem is, it’s become a political football.
The tragedy for the USA is that the political atmosphere is super-charged with partisan political nonsense. True discussion is almost impossible. At the moment, Conservatives have shown themselves to be more interested in refuting their core beliefs, at the expense of the stability of the country, for political power. Liberals are lost in an over reactive loop of fixing failed Conservative policies with overreaching programs that miss the big picture. The result is inconsistent economics. Add to this the polarized atmosphere of the poltics of fear that dominate, and it’s a mess.
Engaging in a coherent debate under these circumstances is impossible, let alone implementing a cogent economic plan.
I fear that something truly horrendous will have to occur for people to break free of their ideological constraints and deal with the issues at hand properly with intellect and maturity.
We shall see.Read More
The more things change, the more they stay the same:
Mayor Vaughn: [to reporter] I’m pleased and happy to repeat the news that we have, in fact, caught and killed a large predator that supposedly injured some bathers. But, as you see, it’s a beautiful day, the beaches are open and people are having a wonderful time. Amity, as you know, means “friendship”. – From the movie “Jaws“.
But we haven’t had, really, any impact. I mean, we haven’t had enough oil hit Mississippi’s beaches to fill up a milk jug. Now, we’re prepared and we’re prepared for the worst. But thus far, we haven’t had any kind of incursion, except the news coverage is killing our tourist business. – Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi.
More on Barbour’s links to big oil over at Think Progress.Read More
If you haven’t watched Bill Moyers on Real Time with Bil Maher, it’s worth watching. The point that conservatives are simply employing a scorched earth campaign to insure that Obama fails is important, and has to be confronted. And, he covers corporatism as well.Read More
From Glenn Greenwald – It’s time to embrace American royalty:
…all of the above-listed people are examples of America’s Great Meritocracy, having achieved what they have solely on the basis of their talent, skill and hard work — The American Way. By contrast, Sonia Sotomayor — who grew up in a Puerto Rican family in Bronx housing projects; whose father had a third-grade education, did not speak English and died when she was 9; whose mother worked as a telephone operator and a nurse; and who then became valedictorian of her high school, summa cum laude at Princeton, a graduate of Yale Law School, and ultimately a Supreme Court Justice — is someone who had a whole litany of unfair advantages handed to her and is the poster child for un-American, merit-less advancement.
From Motorman Mark – Why Middle America Must Be Crushed:
There are a large number of US citizens, traditionally referred to as “Middle Americans,” who are engaged in small, private industry-jobs that have an uncertain future and that live and die on the prospects of a marketplace that is unhindered by taxes and government regulation. Even if they live in a rental unit, they live in communities dominated by the concerns of low-income home owners-people who do not know how to get along with more than $500 a month spent on housing costs-to whom the yearly property tax bill is a very big deal. They can’t spend too much breath decrying the expense of the local school system, or the roads, or the courts and emergency services-each of which provides them an obvious benefit. So what do they get mad at?? “Government.” Whatever that means.
A pattern emerges. We worship an ideal which most of us will never attain and deny what we truly are in order to insure at least the fantasy that we are part of the aristocracy. An aristocracy that devours us as we cheer it on in the hope that they will let us in the door.
It’s a perspective that is enforced and propagated by advertising and marketing as well.
Something better lay ahead to be sure… Break free.Read More
While conservatives can’t seem to govern, they know who to sling propaganda with the best of them. The current theme is twofold: right wingers are the victims, and anything bad that happens, liberals are to blame for it. A few examples plucked from the interwebs…
- Beck and Goldberg team up to claim that James von Brunn was a left-winger
- A ‘PRESCRIPTION’ FOR A MANUFACTURED CONTROVERSY….
- White “Separatist” Turns “Bad PR Lemons Into Lemonade” In TV Interviews
- Toil And Trouble…. – In case you were wondering what Glenn Beck thinks about all this right wing violence (and who doesn’t?) here it is…
- Sarah Palin’s Politics Of Grievance Are Back!
- Beck: ‘[W]e’re in the same situation here’ as in Iran.
- Bill O’Reilly Selectively Edits Joan Walsh Interview
Douglas Rushkoff on how to take back our world by seeing the current economic crisis as a great opportunity.Read More
Over the past several months, I’ve helped shoot a short film that does an excellent job of introducing the important ideas in Douglas Rushkoff’s new book Life Inc.: How the World Became a Corporation and How to Take it Back. The first chapter of the book is over at Boing Boing, where Doug is guest blogging. Watch the movie!Read More
The other day on Hardball on MSNBC, an interesting moment occurred.
Chris Matthews and guests Howard Fineman and Andrea Mitchell started out discussing Obama’s looming VP choice, the various “front runners” on the “short list” (a completely made up list by the media, since no one has a clue, but they make it sound like they do.) and then they switched to discussing McCain’s choices for VP, (which they are equally as clueless about) in particular Joe Leiberman. It went like this:
FINEMAN: Well, I don‘t know. First of all, I think a lot of conservative activists, including Rush Limbaugh, wouldn‘t take Joe Lieberman, either. They respect him. The same with Sean Hannity. But they…
MITCHELL: They wouldn‘t take him. They‘ve already said (INAUDIBLE)
FINEMAN: They said they wouldn‘t take him…
It’s an extraordinary admission that went entirely overlooked. Here are three major media players discussing how conservative media pundits have a powerful role in choosing who will be the Republican choice for VP. The equivalent simply does not exist on the Liberal side. Which Liberal media pundit has that much power? None. An important point to remember in these times.
One of the basic tenets of the modern conservative movement is a hatred for the “mainstream media”. The “conservative wisdom” is that it’s riddled with Liberals and that Liberals control it. Far from the truth obviously.
Yet, by their own logic, Limbaugh is the enemy, since he is a member of the mainstream media who literally has a role in controlling our lives and our government functions. Yet, they don’t seem to mind. It’s about ideology of course. It has nothing to do with the higher ideals of democracy and freedom of the press and everything to do with limiting the message to only those ideals they profess, limiting it to conservative ideas. It’s basic fascism and eliminationism.
And, seeing it referred to in such a blase manner on Hardball was shocking to say the least.
When I was a boy, I would read about how military and press people had control of the process of government in the Soviet Union, and it sent a cold, rippling shiver down my spine that I always remembered.
That feeling has returned.Read More
Billmon (of Whiskey Bar fame) has been posting a little over at Daily Kos. (After a long hiatus from his own blog.)
His latest is on the conflict between Russia and Georgia and the US role in it… It’s fascinating reading…
The conflict caught many by surprise, but it’s been a “diplomatic” initiative for the Cheney Boys for awhile… These tools see all conflicts in the world as a opportunity to make money and increase US power. Nothing else matters. And, we are all pawns who will end up paying the price for their arrogance and short-sightedenss. This paragraph sums it up:
If you caught Andrew Bacevich on Bill Moyer’s show the other night, you may have noticed that his biggest complaint was not that US foreign policy is misguided and destructive (although he clearly thinks it’s both) but that it is being conducted in a democratic vacuum — despite all the florid rhetoric about promoting democracy. We may still go through the motions of a republican form of government, Bacevich says, but the fabric has gotten pretty thin: or, in the case of our national revival of the Great Game in the Caucasus, damned near invisible.
Read the entire thing. It’s where we are in the US now, and a bit of where we are going right before our eyes…Read More
Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used, that will make it – that – when it wishes to deliver a message, and that’s its military power. That’s not the way to deal in the 21st century.
Now that you’ve closed your mouth to stop your chin from hitting the ground…. An intelligent adult is left with only one of two conclusions: either Sec. Rice is an idiot or she’s so audaciously arrogant to think that we are idiots. Either way, it’s pathetic to a degree that just makes me cringe. They are such complete amateurs. It’s embarrassing.
And, Iraq and Afghanistan rage on…. because extremists are in power here as they are in Russia.
Lest we forget that the current president called the Russian leader “Putty Put” and looked into his soul and trusted him. What a clown.