Archives for posts with tag: politics

Good Old Politics used to be about identifying the common ground.
And making it wide enough to harbor the foundation for a stable – as in ‘sustainable’, future.
A future where ‘everybody’ could claim a place. As in ‘fulfilling the American Dream’.

Nowadays, politics is about identifying the most effective way to pull the rug from your opponents’ feet.

How wise is this?

How sustainable is it?

We learn from Michelle Obama’s book – Becoming, 2018, that her father, a blue collar worker, was the only breadwinner who provided for the family. A family of four, leading a decent life in a decent home. Who was earning enough to send both kids to school.
Is this still possible today? In America? The Land of Opportunity?

Trump got elected after a huge number of well paying blue collar jobs had been exported.
After wealth disparity had become ridiculous.

What convinced so many people into believing that Trump, the billionaire, was the answer to their plight?

Historian Nancy MacClean has just published “Democracy in Chains”, a book in which she looks at a group of ultra free-market thinkers who have been working to change the government systems of the United States since the 1950s. While Donald Trump was not part of their plan, MacLean says “there is no way Donald Trump would be in the White House were it not for their strategy”, which includes gerrymandering and taking control of the judiciary. She joined us for Perspective to tell us more.

No, this is not yet another post about Trump.
This is about Political Science.

You see, physics and chemistry are hugely important sciences.
Physics has taught us how to build planes. And atomic bombs.
Chemistry how to make life saving drugs. And deadly explosives.

And so on.
Science is nothing but a formalized method of gathering consistent information.
What we subsequently do with the technology built around the above mentioned ‘consistent information’ is something else.
It no longer depends on ‘science’.

It solely depends on us. On what plans we have for the future.
On how we – the ‘meaningful’ amongst us, to be more precise – chose to use the above mentioned stash of ‘consistent information’.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, had eventually figured out that “Never before had mankind possessed destructive power that truly posed a threat to civilization“.

Nowadays we’re toying with even more powerful tools.
Tools which are able to turn back the flow of history.
To make a joke out of the fabled ‘checks and balances’.

The H bomb is such a blunt tool that nobody in their right mind would ever consider using.

Tools made possible by political science are way more insidious.
So insidious that most of those who wield them ignore the true amount of fallout their actions will unleash.

Compromise – give some to get some, is debatable to start with. But, ultimately, workable. History is full of successful examples.
Kompromat is nothing but mutually assured destruction. MAD. Made worse by its trivial appearance.

By engaging in compromise, you give hope a chance. The other has a scope. For as long as negotiation is going on earnestly, both sides have a fair chance of getting out alive.
By engaging in Kompromat, the aggressor actually sends the message: ‘I’ll stop only over your dead body’.

Sustainable?!?
Are you kidding me?

One-Time
Monthly
Yearly

Make a one-time donation

Make a monthly donation

Make a yearly donation

Choose an amount

$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00
$5.00
$15.00
$100.00

Or enter a custom amount

$

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!
Another very efficient way to help would be to share my posts.

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

DonateDonate monthlyDonate yearly

Later additions:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked creation of a bipartisan panel to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, displaying continuing party loyalty to former President Donald Trump and firm determination to shift the political focus away from the violent insurrection by his GOP supporters.”

“Antonio, who wore a patch for the far-right anti-government militia group The Three Percenters, is charged with five counts, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder.
Joseph Hurley, Antonio’s lawyer, said he won’t use his client’s belief in false claims of election fraud in an attempt to exonerate him. Instead, Hurley will use them to argue that Antonio was an impressionable person who got exploited by Trump and his allies.
“You can catch this disease,” Hurley said. Misinformation, he said, “is not a defense. It’s not. But it will be brought up to say: This is why he was here. The reason he was there is because he was a dumbass and believed what he heard on Fox News.””

“Many of us have been disappointed of late by the actions of some people who’ve chosen the easy way, playing to the crowd, itching the ears of the resentful with conspiracies and accusations,” the Utah Republican said Wednesday. “I take heart in the fact that such displays are still newsworthy and are generally met with disdain.”
The domestic political squabbles are having a real impact, Romney said, by diverting the nation’s attention away from three great challenges facing the country: the rise of China, global climate change and the “degradation of the national balance sheet.”
Romney said there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“Some of us on the right infect the nation with claims of election fraud, tech and media outrages, even vaccine fantasies. From the left come hyperwoke accusations and antipathy toward free enterprise, the very means of our prosperity,” the Utah Republican added
.”

In nature, most organisms feed on other organisms.
Deer eats grass, wolf eats deer. Scavengers and microbes eat poop and corpses. All together ‘eventually’ enrich the soil. Allowing for more grass to grow.

One way to look at this is to call it ‘fight for life’. ‘Survival of the fittest’.
Yet this entire ‘carnage’ has a very interesting ‘conclusion’.

A fine tuned ecosystem. Which has lasted, as a system, for a couple of billions of years. Becoming more and more elaborate in the process.
And which has survived – as a system, I repeat, momentous events.
Asteroids, geomagnetic reversals, continental drift…

The ecosystem has been so stable that it allowed one creature to evolve so much as to develop a special trait.
Self-awareness.
Which has eventually given birth to ‘reason’. To ‘rational behavior’.

Which means that while wolves eat deer to satisfy their hunger we start wars to satisfy our egos.

We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses. That the tendencies and views of policy shall not be incompatible with these means, the Art of War in general and the Commander in each particular case may demand, and this claim is truly not a trifling one. But however powerfully this may react on political views in particular cases, still it must always be regarded as only a modification of them; for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception.

Carl von Clausewitz

Which wars have proven to be so destructive that we finally found a way to dissuade ourselves from starting new ones. New majors ones… until now…

And if you don’t have any clue about what I’m talking about, click on the next word.
MAD.

Don’t fret. It is actually a very rational concept.
Not reasonable at all, only rational.

Acknowledgment.
I was inspired to write this by David Sarac’s Twitter profile.
“Theory of evolution points to the conclusion that becoming, not being, is the essence of reality”

And no, this is no joke! Alas…

Populism is scientific because its ‘adepts’ have a very rational behavior and use scientific tools to increase the appeal of their public messages.
And, on the other hand, populism is scientific because its advent is perfectly explainable given what we currently know. About our society, about our brains, about our psychology….

Let me start from the beginning.
In Thomas Kuhn’s terms, the last 60 or so years have witnessed a tremendous paradigm shift.
Science has replaced religion as the main paradigm and ‘religion’ has been demoted to  ‘religions’.

Science becoming the main paradigm means that we have grown confident about our knowledge. We might be aware that we don’t know everything yet but we continue to believe that we’re able to learn everything. That if we are diligent enough we’ll sometimes be able to look under every rock that is.
This attitude has led us to search for ‘perfection’. ‘Efficiency’ has displaced ‘redemption’. We have ceased our quest for salvation and are now obsessed with ‘buy low, sell high’. In other words, ‘make the most of it but strain yourself as little as possible’.

Which makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of sense… mainly when you no longer perceive the guy next to you as being a full-fledged member of your community. Your religious community, that is. Of your church.

You see, ever since Emil Durkheim, the sociologists have been aware that religion was not so much a story about the making of the world as a ‘common ground’. The ‘common core’ shared by the members of a given community. Which ‘common core’ makes it possible for those who share it to have respect. For themselves and for the other faithful members of the community. By sharing that common core, the individuals find their bearings in the ‘wide, wide world’ and, thus, know how to behave relative to their ‘neighbors’. With enough mutual respect among the individual members that the community is able to function. To survive, that is.

We no longer have that kind of community.
Our primary allegiance is no longer towards ‘church’. Most of us consider themselves primarily as members of a nation – something governed more by formal laws than by public sentiment, and only secondarily – if at all, as members of a ‘religious’ community.

Now, putting two and two together, it’s very simple to understand that in the given circumstances ‘populism’ was inevitable, right?

Too many of the would be leaders have no qualms about how they get what they want.
Power.
‘Buy low, sell high’ is the current mantra, remember? Accepted by all of us. Buyers, sellers, by-standards…
Too many members of the general public are willing to accept promises which are in line with their own expectations, even if those promises being put in practice means a lot of misery for OTHERS. Who cares about those others, anyway? They are not members of OUR ‘church’!

I’ll let you decide how sustainable is such a situation. I was going to use ‘community’ instead of ‘situation’ but it would have been horribly wrong. We no longer live in communities. We only happen to live in the same place.

For how long?

takes-a-village-quote

I’ve spent the first 30 years of my life under communist rule.

One of their many ‘mantras’ was: ‘Children are the future of mankind’.

Communist rule had brought about so much happiness in Romania that people had stopped making children.
Concerned about the future the communists had decreed that from then on abortion was to be considered a crime – after it was freely available until that time,  October 1, 1966.
As a consequence more than 10 000 women died after botched abortion attempts – all other methods for birth control had been banned also.
Add to those deaths the individuals, mostly youngsters, killed while attempting to flee communism by sneaking across the borders.

But there was one good thing that communist rule had brought to the people. Not that much because the communists really cared about the fate of the individuals but because they needed skilled laborers in order to put their plans into practice.

Schooling was free.
You could learn as much as you wanted without having to pay a dime.
One had to pass some exams, positions were limited for higher education, but if you were smart enough and diligent enough you could go really high. Specially in the area that is currently known as ‘STEM’. ‘Humanities’ were somewhat off limits, because one could get ‘funny’ ideas when delving too deep in that area but STEM was OK.

Fast forward to our days.

Half of my University mates – I have a MSc in Mechanical Engineering – have emigrated right after Ceausescu was toppled while political power in Romania has fallen under the constant grip of a small coterie which doesn’t really care about what’s going on and/or has not enough intellectual flexibility to understand that we are currently running towards a dead end.

In the end the ‘good’ thing has proved to be a poisoned apple. By tuning the schooling system towards their own goals the communists had created many generations of  superb engineers – who were welcomed by the ‘greedy capitalists’ – but also had completely discouraged independent thinking – the kind needed to breed honest politicians and effective public figures, if you can accept those concepts as anything more than empty words.

Gazing over the borders I became even more despondent.

Forget, for a minute, about child pornography, sweat-shops and so on. These are absolutely horrible but we might console ourselves with the thought that those who are involved in them are either mentally disturbed or blinded by greed.

But something like this?

rape threats

Supposedly a feminist writer is followed by either like-minded people or opponents of her ideas only both categories belong to the wider category of ‘intellectuals’ – people concerned with ideas, human rights, philosophical thinking, etc., etc….
In this context to threat a mother that you are planning to rape her child is way above anything that was imaginable until this moment.
It’s as if being able of sophisticated thinking is no longer one of the venues towards becoming a better person – by simply being able to understand how much pain is produced by evil or careless behaviour.

Then I came across the meme at the top of my post.

I must confess that I don’t like her. For various reasons that do not fit here. Enough to say that while watching the DNC 2016 I had the distinct impression of being transported back in time to one of the congresses organized by the Romanian Communist Party.
Because of my dislike of her I had the tendency to believe that she had actually wrote that.

trust-but-verify-quote-2

So I did that.

false

“While it’s true that Hillary Clinton published a book in 1996 called It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, it does not include the above-displayed quote, and Clinton (a parent herself) has not said at any point that she believes that children should be raised by the state with parents taking a secondary role.

 

OK, some of you will tell me that Snopes is leaning towards the left and that you cannot always trust its findings.

I can agree with that. Sometimes you should not believe your own eyes, let alone what you read over the Internet.

But my argument still stands.
What has happened to us?
Why are we so willing to involve even our children in our political lies? It doesn’t matter here who lied – Snopes or those who ‘cooked’ this meme…

What are politics for if not for securing a future for our children?

What kind of future can be build on lies?
On this kind of lies and on this kind of threats…

When are we going to understand that the state which side-lines the parents is a fascist one – fascism and communism are close authoritarian cousins, that no one can survive for long outside a community and that the community, as a whole and each of its members, fare better if all its members have a real chance to develop their potential?

Education and health care should not be treated as ‘individual rights’.
It is obvious to the naked eye that societies who take good care of their members while simultaneously respect their freedom fare better than those who let their members fend for themselves without helping them train for today’s job market and without extending them any safety net.
We keep saying that we need better skilled individuals and do nothing about it. We keep saying that in a free market there are risks that have to be taken yet we step back when a risk taker who happened to have failed, honestly, asks for our help.

OK, I understand. The communists dissuaded their children from studying ‘humanities’. Simply because they might have started to ask the very same questions that I’m asking today.

But what happened to the rest of the world?

Who is thinking about the future, beyond planning for future cash-flows (extremely unreliable in the first place), anyway?