Wednesday, October 19, 2011

energy vs. analysis


Video - Futurama Do the Hustle

MorrisBerman | Like most folks reading this, I want the Wall St. protests to succeed, though at this point I'm not exactly clear as to what that would look like. Minimally, the arrest and trials (preferably at the World Court in The Hague) of numerous CEOs for financial terrorism; confiscation of the wealth of the top 1% and the redistribution of it among the rest of us; immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan; reduction of the Pentagon budget by 90%; massive reparations, plus heartfelt apologies, to Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Iraq, and several other countries, for the horror we visited upon them through the CIA and our foreign policy; and so on. In terms of what needs to be done in order to turn America around, these are admittedly very small steps—baby steps, really—but one has to begin somewhere, after all. However, this is to get ahead of ourselves. Right now, as far as Occupy Wall Street goes, anything might happen. Historically speaking, demonstrations that seemed tame suddenly caught fire, as in the case of, say, the Russian Revolution. So it’s hard to predict the outcome of these protests in any definitive way.

That being said, I confess it doesn't seem likely that these protests can reverse 400 years of a culture based on “hustling,” as I call it in my most recent book, Why America Failed, or the post-Civil War consolidation of corporate America. Which brings to mind a quote from Lincoln: we must "disenthrall" ourselves, he said. Are we now clutching at straws, and getting all enthralled? Look at the enthrallment over Obama in 2008, and how he turned out to be the very opposite of what he said he was. (Basically, a George Bush who can speak English.) I hear Michael Moore saying how these protests will sweep the country, and I think: but you thought Obama was going to sweep the country. Maybe it's time to look at our tendency toward enthrallment, and figure out why “sweeping” is not very likely.

So much is made of the role of the “social media” in these types of uprisings; I remain skeptical on a number of grounds. I mean, Facebook didn’t play much of a role that I know of in Paris during 1789; and where is the Egyptian “revolution” now? But it goes much deeper than this. Even if we credit the social media with being able to mobilize youthful energy, this is only Stage 1 of any successful protest. Stage 2 is really being able to know and analyze what this country is about, or what a new US foreign policy might consist of; and on this score, the very things that made Stage 1 possible now ironically serve to make Stage 2 extremely difficult, if not impossible. For it is because of these media, and the cumulative impact of television and the Internet in our lives, that young Americans are literally unable to think. They don't know what the difference is between information and knowledge, nor do they really understand what an argument is; and thanks to the new telecommunications technologies, they now have the attention span of a gnat. Printed books take time; they are designed for thinking and reflection, whereas screens are designed for scanning, for bouncing around, for “Whassup, dude?” And if these folks should happen to attend a lecture, they typically sit there and check their e-mail or text-message their friends. In such a context, Stage 2 of the protest is not likely to come about.

4 comments:

Greg Thrasher said...

Jim....Yawn

CNu said...

For it is because of these media, and the cumulative impact of
television and the Internet in our lives, that young Americans are
literally unable to think. They don't know what the difference is
between information and knowledge, nor do they really understand what an
argument is; and thanks to the new telecommunications technologies,
they now have the attention span of a gnat.


So brotherbrown, I'm listening to this morning's deconstruction of Ron Paul on Morning Joe and why the media essentially maintain a Ron Paul blackout, no matter how well he performs in the "mainstream" corporatocratic news and views feeds. The excuse is that he's unelectable yesterday's news, and not a new face like the goon squad participating in the republican debates.

Hmmm....,

I think there's much to be said for the "facelessness" of OWS, and, I believe that over the next few weeks and months, the movement will refine its modus operandi beyond the corny call and repeat, and get something closer to the democratic slashdot effect it's looking for. Too bad Cobb hasn't recognized the X-Republic potential of what's unfolding, but I think I see an opportunity to put together an app that would help facilitate this evolutionary endgame.

ProfGeo said...

So, there's no way I could fail to check in after someone shared this visualization with me: 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2051008/Does-super-corporation-run-global-economy.html

There is a little of "ooh, a sparkly" (Secret of Nimh) in why this one caught my attention, but I do like the source and the [relative] lack of agenda in the model.

CNu said...

Spectacular as always Prof. Thanks for sharing! p.s., when you gone resume putting something up every now and again at the other two-fifths?