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December 20, 2004


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The pseudoconservative style of activism fits neatly into what our governing class wants to do already. The blue noses are eager to participate in a giant dog and pony show and "feel" like they've made a difference. They're much like the wet noodle neoliberals of MoveOn. Soft, cheesy erotica won't be going off Fox any time soon and Mel Gibson's next chainsaw Jesus massacre will be slurped up by people looking for torture porn. Cretins are easy to govern.

The long term consequences of prizing mindless consumption over thrift and conscience are already here. Our children are commodities and sales vectors rolled into one and this is eagerly defended by their parents. There have already been two generations raised by the television. Propaganda news reels were bad enough. Now we have that pumped into every house for almost every hour people are not at work or sleeping.

Yellow journalism at least required literacy. I've argued with people who cite articles that directly contradict the point they're trying to make. Perhaps that's not new.


The points Shor made about social dynamics and peer bonding were particularly telling, I thought, particularly in light of fad marketing, like the Yellow Bracelet thing. Reading those kid's comments, they do so desperately want to fit in, do good, be accepted, be in step. To study that with an eye to profiting from it seems almost psychopathological. No wonder some of the marketers alluded to in the article express remorse. But, as you say, we are less and less sensitive to manipulation as one generation of tv-bred consumers raises the next.


Take a look at the sponsors of Social Edge if you get a moment or two. They are not culture jammers, radical greens or anarchists. They are mainstream religious people. Our concerns are widely shared by many, many people. The people who are "out of touch" are the manufacturers of ideology and the cosmetically prettified talking heads.

What we've had for the last century is a well-documented tutorial in how badly people can be fooled into acting against their values and interests. That's evil science, if ever such a thing existed, and it's called public relations.

Here's the link http://www.thesocialedge.com/sponsors.htm


Very interesting, Harry, thank you. Stuart Ewen has brillinant book, PR! The History of Spin, that records the co-evolution of PR, military propaganda, and military disinformation from WWI through the second World War to the present. Key figures in that evolution worked for the allies in WWI and some say with Goebbels in WWII as well as holding down thriving practices with corporate clients. That science of of disinformation/misinformation/idol-making is now what we call "branding" in our post rational political age. We accept it as a matter of course, as do children who have been abused all their lives. "Suffer the children to come unto me," now Jesus is less their mentor than the machiavels on Mad Ave. No wonder the Carmelites and others find this repugnant. Yet the voices of decency are marginal. The free market is a bordello, Wealth Bondage, yet we call ourselves, enslaved by our passions, "Free." The moral inchorence of the right is so readily visible; you cannot worship God and Mammon, or espouse free market free for alls, and also our responsibility as moral agents to God and man. The views presented between the lines on WB are those of a classicly educated moralist with a Catholic moral sensibility. Hence my interest in whipping these money changers from the temple, as did Jesus; would that he could scourge Heritage et al today for putting markets above God, or making God himself a shill for a politics of market squalor, and moral selfishness. Jesus did not come on behalf of worldly interests.


Once the doctrine's been co-opted truth is heresy, speakng it is blasphemy. No big deal for the unbeliever, that's like saying Santa Claus is just some out-of-work bum in a fake beard. But if you believe, or did, if you grew up believing, and still have that connection, or a memory of it, stepping away from the great train of souls can be disheartening. It leaves you on your own in the wilderness, bewildered.
Which, I'm here to suggest, is exactly the point.
That template is being applied across the board.
Want God? Worship the President. Want food? Worship the GM seed bank and the slaughterhouse. Want your children to see tomorrow? Give them to us to raise.
I'll second Harry's two generations into the disembodied limbo of TV, and raise him another. I know grandparents who had TV hook-up from the cradle. But I'm not so sure Gibson's sanguinary Passion Play is trivial, or even misdirected. I haven't seen it, I've heard the shrieks of outrage, and certainly anything that empowers the selfish bigotry of the mainstream at this dark late hour is suspect, but I was raised, as I think Phil was, in the Lenten solemnity of draped statues and silenced bells; the Stations of the Cross to a kid with a science-fiction-augmented imagination were plenty bloody indeed, nightmarishly. But that is the story there.
Too much of the current Jesus tale is like the sanitized bio of a young GOP Congressman, all can-do smiles and successful legislation.
When really it's the story of a man who was executed brutally, and tortured before he was killed - for speaking the truth fearlessly, and dissolving existing power architectures with love.
Accent on love.


Ironically, many of the central tenets of the conservative intellectuals' critique have proven to be true. It's cheap schadenfreude to point out they're forming the ideology of a post modern Children's Crusade, made possible -- as a public service -- with grants from people who will have morally illegitimate influence on government whether it's Democratic or Republican.

Big government projects do foster dependency, drive out moral values and reduce human dignity to nothing.

Watching television does create cretins, lead to moral relativism and foster effete, squishy permissiveness.

Public schools are a breeding ground for uncritical thinking and serve mostly as playgrounds for crackpot social engineering types.

Twentieth century progressivism was inspired by Bismarck and served mainly to cement the rule of a liberal elite.


Vernaculo, I can't even bear to watch the trailers for The Passion. The way of the cross is what Christians are called to. Not the way of the red carpet and the market. To walk that way is unbearable. I would rather imitate Diogenes, the trickster, than Christ. At least he lived to a ripe old age.


Harry, you share some conclusions with Lenore Ealy. Will stripping away the apparatus of democracy, leaving capital markets, provide a solution? What are the obligations of the rich to their fellow man. Asked that on Lenore's list, as I ask it everywhere, like Diogenes going about in broad daylight with a lamp looking for an honest man. The answer, as everywhere else was, "The rich can do as they please within the limits of the law." I don't see how on that foundation we will restrain these Devourers except by law. What they owe is computed via the IRS, since they have no higher calculus. A stiff marginal tax teaches virtue, moderation, and thrift. Were the wealthy to be taxed down to a total net income of $15,000 a person they would work harder, to make ends meet, driving the economy, and causing all kinds of indirect benefits. If they have too much money, over, $50,000 a year, it tends to sap their desire to work.


Conclusions, maybe, but not solutions! I rather like the incentivisation program of asset stripping and would add dunce caps in a forced march down the streets. Our latter day Maoist vanguard, albeit in Lincoln Navigators and working in think tanks, should appreciate the irony. Let all the reluctant ones get back to learning the value of trust and wholesome pursuits in FEMA camps :-)

There are, realistically, a number of sensible things that can be done without my hyperbolic fantasy and it's silly to treat a big central adminstrative center as wholly without merit. None of the conservative intellectuals seriously propose doing away with it anyway. They need it to enforce their vision and _that_ shows up in the disgracefully large amounts of money they make it borrow and spend. The intellectuals don't even have to give up on trickle down or graft for their patrons.

The first is my own version of the one dollar, one vote policy. Simply reverse it. Then the ease of use of FOIA must be facilitated and government secrecy must justify itself in front of juries.

Eh, who am I kidding? The policy intellectuals use the words and concepts of anarchist thinkers and democratic philosophers without meaning them. The proof is in the outcome.


Ordered liberty, Harry, that much is literal.


Who wouldn't rather live to a ripe old age?
Car wrecks are the #1 killer of people under 30. You probably feel the same way about watching them on film too. Still it's easy to ignore as long as it doesn't hit too close to home.
But then that was why Butler's Lives of The Saints were held up, that's why the Christ-ian narrative is held up. That's also why the stories were sanitized and turned into cartoons.
Christianity passed through the mirror sometime in the 16th century.
SUV's with those smug fish medallions, that were once the recognition symbols for people who were being hunted down and killed for their beliefs.
Paul - martyr. Peter- martyr. And Christ himself. These men suffered greatly and died horribly. And the ensuing centuries saw more blood, until the force of the Church became a secular power and co-option tipped the balance.
We ostensibly revere these people because they sacrificed so much, including their lives, for the greater good. But then we don't do we? Not really. There's almost no connection at all between that church and modern Christianity.
I understand preferring comfort to suffering, but I thought that was the point, there's higher things.
Maybe I missed the intro, or misread it. Or maybe it's just more b.s. - the same pukey sidestep that's panendemic now.
We all want radical change in our designated problematic areas, but status quo across the board in all the things we approve of and enjoy. We want the world to get better along with our personal fortunes, it's natural, and very common.
The religion is selfishness, that's it, done. All the rest is mewling and whining and slow erosion toward compromise.
Except for those who don't bargain.

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