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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 08:05 PM
Original message
Princes and Powers

(1) "Contemporary conservatives have become extremely contentious, confrontational, and aggressive in nearly every area of politics and governing. Today they have a tough-guy (and, in a few instances, a tough-gal) attitude, an arrogant and antagonistic style, along with a narrow outlook intolerant of those who challenge their extreme thinking. Even more troubling, the right-wing presidency of George W. Bush and Richard B. Cheney has taken positions that are in open defiance of international treaties or blatant violations of domestic laws, while pushing the limits of presidential power beyond the parameters of the Constitution." --Conservatives Without Conscience; John Dean; Viking; 2006; page xi.

One of the things that I enjoy about the Democratic Underground is that often, other participants will suggest interesting books. This morning, in a discussion about the concern that the Bush administration may be moving the nation away from Constitutional rule, and in the direction of dictatorship, a friend mentioned the importance of John Deans most recent book. In it, Mr. Dean discusses the increasing role of authoritarian conservatism in our culture, including in our government.

It is unlikely that those who have rigid, authoritarian personalities to be tolerant of a democratic society. We often find that while those with authoritarian personalities profess to admire humankind, they do not have much respect for individuals. Authoritarian governments are unlikely to place value on concepts like those expressed in the Constitution, particularly in the Bill of Rights, because of the individual worth that is expressed therein. For this reason, in his 2004 book "Worse Than Watergate," Dean notes that the neoconservatives "view civil liberties with suspicion," and "despise libertarians, and dismiss any arguments based on constitutional grounds." (page 104)

Deans most recent book reminded me of some of the works of Erich Fromm. I was first introduced to Fromm in the foreword of A.S. Neills classic book on education, "Summerhill." (Hart; 1960) That book addresses the concepts of individual worth, in terms of "freedom," in the educational system. I was lucky enough to have a good teacher who suggested I would enjoy the book.

(2) "Overt authority is exercised directly and explicitly. The person in authority frankly tells the one who is subject to him, You must do this. If you do not, certain sanctions will be applied against you. Anonymous authority tends to hide that force is being used. Anonymous authority pretends that there is no authority, that all is done with the consent of the individual. While the teacher of the past said to Johnny, You must do this. If you dont, Ill punish you; todays teacher says, Im sure youll like to do this. Here, the sanction for disobedience is not corporal punishment, but the suffering face of the parent, or what is worse, conveying the feeling of not being adjusted, of not acting as the crowd acts. Overt authority used physical force; anonymous authority employs psychic manipulation." Summerhill; foreword by Erich Fromm; page x.

Fromm continues in the foreword to describe modern western society as needing adults who "cooperate smoothly; men who want to consume more and more. Our system must create men whose tastes are standardized, men who can be easily influenced, men whose needs can be anticipated. Our system needs men who feel free and independent but who are nevertheless willing to do what is expected of them, men who will fit into the social machine without friction, who can be guided without force, who can be led without leaders, and who can be directed without any aim except the one to make good." He adds that this persons "consent is obtained, as it were, behind his back, or behind his consciousness." (page xi)

That theme of rigid, anti-democratic rule requiring an unconscious population is, by no coincidence, the central concept I discussed in my recent essay on Malcolm X (see: Make It Plain). The difference between a conscious individual and an unconscious group is strangely summed up in the old saying from Stalin, that a single death is a tragedy, while a million deaths is a statistic. It would not be surprising to hear those very words to come dripping from the lips of Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney. These are examples of authoritarian "leaders" who speak in glowing terms of the nation-state, but who place no value on individual rights.

(3)"I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a productive force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this deterioration. Unknowing prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the nave, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can only find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society." Why Socialism; Albert Einstein; Monthly Review, volume 1,I; 1949; pages 9-15.

Politicians have long known that in order to get people to willingly give up their humanity, and their ability to think and act as individuals, it was important to use the fear of an enemy. This leads the group to hate the "enemy," while losing awareness of their own low level of being. More, it leads to the willingness to follow the rigid authority of the "leader." On page 59 of "The Sane Society," (Fawcett; 1955) Erich Fromm notes, "Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism are the most drastic manifestations of this blend of state and clan worship, both principles embodied in the figure of a Fuerhrer." On pages 208 through 211, Fromm discusses "Authoritarian Idolatry," a concept that is, of course, exactly what John Dean addresses half a century later. It requires a large number of alienated, unstable people to follow the authoritarian leader.

Where Einstein described the idea that I learned as a child "think for yourself, and act for your community" the authoritarian idolatry requires that one not think for themselves, while acting for the leaders definition of "community." It has been hard for me to think of President Bushs ranting about "the war on terrorism" being defined by his aggression in Iraq as anything other than a symptom of this type of social psychosis. It seems that whereas a majority of Americans accepted the claims about WMD that lead to the war initially, that more and more people are conscious of the fact that these were lies. And as that awareness grows, we see the administration attempt to inject fear and hatred into the public debate.

(4) "Only a large-scale popular movement toward decentralization and self-help can arrest the present tendency toward statism." Brave New World; Aldous Huxley; Vanguard; 1952; page 11.

Erich Fromm quotes liberally from Einstein, Huxley, and Albert Schweitzer in Chapter 7, "Various Answers," in which he attempts to provide the reader with ideas for healing the sick society. The ideas expressed in his book, and in those he quotes from, are not unlike those ideas that John dean and others speak of today.

"A new public opinion must be created privately an unobtrusively," Schweitzer noted (The Philosophy of Civilization; Macmillan). "The existing one is maintained by the press, by propaganda, by organization, and by financial and other influences which are at its disposal. This unnatural way of spreading ideas must be opposed by the natural one, which goes from man to man and relies solely on the truth of our thoughts and the hearers receptiveness for new truth. Unarmed and following the human spirits primitive and natural fighting method, it must attack the other, which faces it, as Goliath faced David, in the mighty armour of the age."

In that sense, I believe that those who participate in discussions on DU, and who exercise those muscles defined in the Bill of Rights, have discovered what it means to be an American.

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 08:19 PM
Response to Original message
1. You never cease to amaze me, H20 Man. This
Edited on Sat Oct-28-06 08:22 PM by babylonsister
is so fine to read, the comparisons that we know of but which you articulate so well. And thanks to Mr. Dean and Mr. Fromm for also enlightening us; hopefully we'll take their words to heart.

"A new public opinion must be created..." based on truth and people's willingness to know it, learn it, understand it, and embrace it.

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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 08:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Thank you.
I certainly appreciate that you enjoy reading what I post here on DU. I'm getting pretty excited about the elections, and the opportunity for the grass roots to get this country back on track.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 08:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Me, too!
I want to overflow with optimism, but am trying to maintain, because of past disappointments.
Being optimistic, I'm enjoying myself. Voting today was sweet; the polling place was bustling, and
I was told it'd been like that all week. Yay for us, I hope!
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 09:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. Great Piece
Reading, it made me think of Lynne Cheney's little tantrum on CNN yesterday. It was clear from her attitude she expected little Wolfie to follow her script and when he didn't her threat was unveiled. I was also struck by the fact that she or one of her people have their ear pushed down into the ground. She expressed her displeasure with IMUS and the program "Broken Government". In a perverse way, the * administration may have given us a gift. People are literally starting to feel forced to think for themselves. At this moment it is generally the pubs. Those like Haas, Viguerie, Sullivan, Will and many others. As expressed by Noonan's op-ed in the Journal. They are looking at what they have wrought in putting * in power and are becoming horrified. They're still at the stage where they're looking for confirmation, looking to see if others agree with them, testing to see if what they are beginning to think and feel is "right". It must be such a psychic schism for them. The democratic leadership, the DLCers also need to come to such a pass, and as you say, it is those who sought asylum in places like DU and the grassroots who may have to bring that message home to them after this election.

*shadow government*
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. I expect that
there will be more of the ugly emotional outbursts in the upcoming months. Ms. Cheney has a personality that reminds me of Barbara Bush. I do not intend that as a compliment.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. About BB
I read an article couple of years back, a writer invited into the enclave, to do a fluff piece, who spent time with them and wrote what it was like. The thing that stuck with me was the 41 refers to BB as Frank/frank. There are several ways one could go with that, but no matter, the inescapable conclusion is that they're dysfunctional and not a happy lot. Thanks Frank and George for foisting your offspring on us.

*shadow government*
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Jcrowley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 09:37 PM
Response to Original message
7. To paraphrase
Fromm stated: "Simply because you can convince 10 million people that their insane behavior is normal does not make that behavior any less pathological." That's where we are at present. When our very mundane and everyday acts cause extraordinary suffering and planetary destruction this "normalcy" is indeed insane.

"War and automation are our great perils. Our only remaining alternative is to radically leave the wrong path and set foot on the road to human self-realization. The first condition for this is to remove the threat of war that grips us all, and that paralyses faith and initiative. We must take responsibility for all people's lives and internationally develop that which all great countries have established internally up to now, namely a part of prosperity for everyone and a better distribution of the economical sources of prosperity. This should finally lead to the formation of an international economical cooperation, of global government and to full disarmament. We must maintain the industrial method, but decentralize labor and state so that they gain human proportions, and allow a certain minimum of centralization required by industrialization.
What we need in the field of economy is participation of all who work in a company to obtain their real and responsible cooperation."

- Erich Fromm

"The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots."
- Erich Fromm
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 09:47 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. That first one
is wonderful! "Simply because you can convince 10 million people that their insane behavior is normal does not make that behavior any less pathological."

Many years ago, I worked in a defense industry factory. I was on 3rd shift, and when things were slow, I would read Fromm. I ended up going back to further my education, and work in human services.

"It is beneath human dignity to be a mere cog in the machine." -- Gandhi
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:07 PM
Response to Original message
9. Thanks for posting. I look forward to reading it. H2O
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:09 PM
Response to Original message
10. I agree that Schweitzer offers a kind of 'roadmap.'
Edited on Sat Oct-28-06 10:15 PM by TahitiNut
"A new public opinion must be created privately and unobtrusively," Schweitzer noted. "The existing one is maintained by the press, by propaganda, by organization, and by financial and other influences which are at its disposal. This unnatural way of spreading ideas must be opposed by the natural one, which goes from man to man and relies solely on the truth of our thoughts and the hearers receptiveness for new truth. Unarmed and following the human spirits primitive and natural fighting method, it must attack the other, which faces it, as Goliath faced David, in the mighty armour of the age."

Liberals have been virtually silent for nearly 30 years. Silenced by hijacked epithets like "hippie," "commie," "pinko," "flower child," and even "queer." Even after having felt the propulsion of Maslov's higher order 'needs,' the mundane activities of living in the 'mainstream' brought us face-to-face with survival, safety and acceptance. Thus, we adopted the "let live" more than the "live" and complied with Archie's demand that we "stifle ourselves." Business dinners? Don't make waves. (Even if the boss wears a small moustache.) Happy hour? Don't call that coworker an "ignorant facist" - just "let live." We deluded ourselves into thinking that "they" were the fringe and found ourselves on the fringe without the warp and woof of interconnectedness. When we stopped participating in our democracy, lobbying and petitioning those at the 'top' (our fellow citizens) at every opportunity (life's ordinary daily activities), we surrendered that democracy to those motivated by appetite, not aspiration.

The 'roadmap' is one we carry in our gut. So, it's been 'gut check' time. Speak up. Adopt the "of course" posture of one who must be convinced, not one who begs to be heard. Be the boss - since it really must be OUR democracy. Use every tool - ridicule, logic, sneering condescencion, kindness, compassion, and patience as with an insane but beloved sibling.

And buy a gun. :evilgrin:
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:19 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. It's interesting
to look back at those insults that were directed at people in the 1960s and '70s. One of my favorites was when some grumpy person would say, "Would ya look at him! I can't tell if he's a boy or a girl!" And of course all of the progressive left had a group identity, but there was also the individual identity .... often similar to the tribal concept of a "vision quest" that gave a group member that individual meaning. And that was often what upset the larger society.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. A kind of 'bitter grapes' atitude, throwing that which is handiest ..
... in a projection of indistinguishability. Yet the truly active and alive were keenly aware of their individual paths - as individualistic as could be imagined. (No wonder Taoist insights became poular on the left.) That's not to say that plastic, imitation 'styles' weren't adopted. Very little that's essential is visible to the eye - as true then as now.
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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:09 PM
Response to Reply #10
19. That was a
beautifully expressed response.
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 01:22 AM
Response to Reply #19
21. Arigato, bleever-san.
Edited on Sun Oct-29-06 01:24 AM by TahitiNut


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Jcrowley Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:16 PM
Response to Original message
11. For whatever reason
whenever Fromm is brought up I immediately think of Paul Shephard's, "Nature and Madness."

An excerpt:
In the midst of these new concerns and reaffirmations of the status quo, the distance between Earth and philosophy seems as great as ever. We know, for example, that the massive removal of the great Old World primeval forests from Spain and Italy to Scandinavia a thousand years ago was repeated in North America in the past century and proceeds today in the Amazon basin, Malaysia, and the Himalayan frontier. Much of the soil of interior China and the uplands of the Ganges, Euphrates, and Mississippi rivers has been swept into their deltas, while the world population of humankind and its energy demands have doubled several times over. The number of animal species we have exterminated is now in the hundreds. Something uncanny seems to block the corrective will, not simply private cupidity or political inertia. Could it be an inadequate philosophy or value system? The idea that the destruction of whales is the logical outcome of Francis Bacon's dictum that nature should serve man," or Rene' Descartes's insistence that animals feel no pain since they have no souls, seems too easy and too academic. The meticulous analysis of these philosophies and the discovery that they articulate an ethos beg the question. Similarly, technology does not simply act out scientific theory, or daily life flesh out ideas of progress, biblical dogma, or Renaissance humanism. A history of ideas is not enough to explain human behavior.

Once, our species did live in stable harmony with the natural environment (and in some small groups it still does). This was not because people were incapable of changing their environment or lacked acumen; it was not simply on account of a holistic or reverent attitude; rather, there was some more enveloping and deeper reason. The change to a more hostile stance toward nature began between five and ten thousand years ago and became more destructive and less accountable with the progress of civilization. The economic and material demands of growing villages and towns are, I believe, not causes but results of this change. In concert with advancing knowledge and human organization it wrenched the ancient social machinery that had limited human births. It fostered a new sense of human mastery and the extirpation of nonhuman life. In hindsight this change has been explained in terms of necessity or as the decline of ancient gods. But more likely it was irrational (though not unlogical) and unconscious, a kind of failure in some fundamental dimension of human existence, an irrationality beyond mistakenness, a kind of madness.

The idea of a sick society is not new. Bernard Frank, Karl Menninger, and Erich Fromm are among those who have addressed it. Sigmund Freud asks, "If the development of civilization has such a far-reaching similarity to the development of the individual and if it employs the same methods, may we not be justified in reaching the diagnosis that, under the influence of cultural urges, some civilizanons-or some epochs of civilization-possibly the whole of mankind~have become neurotic?" Australian anthropologist Derek Freeman observes that the doctrine of cultural relativism, which has dominated modern thought, may have blinded us to the deviate behavior of whole societies by denying normative standards for mental health.

<snip>

Among those relict tribal peoples who seem to live at peace with their world, who feel themselves to be guests rather than masters, the ontogeny of the individual has some characteristic features. I conjecture that their ontogeny is healthier than ours (for which I will be seen as sentimental and romantic) and that it may be considered a standard from which we have deviated. Their way of life is the one to which our ontogeny has been fitted by natural selection, fostering cooperation, leadership, a calendar of mental growth, and the study of a mysterious and beautiful world where the clues to the meaning of life were embodied in natural things, where everyday life was inextricable from spiritual significance and encounter, and where the members of the group celebrated individual stages and passages as ritual participation in the first creation.

http://www.sacredlands.org/madness.htm

K&R
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:40 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. There is a
Joseph Bruchac poem "Water Thanks":

The drop of water
hangs from the faucet
pulsing, the heart
of the well still beating

I never drink water
Harold Elm told me
even from the sink
without saying
a prayer of thanks

the drop of water
trembles, holding
the face of all the worlds

There are, of course, many levels of consciousness. Mr. Elm would have a different relationship to water than say the person who buys a bottle of it at the local 7-11, much as Mrs. Elm will have a different relationship to the corn she grows in her garden, compared to someone buying a can of corn at Price Chopper. How we relate to the world is a huge part of that, which is why there is such a strong disagreement on drilling in Alaska.





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Imagevision Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:26 PM
Response to Original message
13. What occured in Deans time compared to today is no comparison of
the events of the 21 century, the control this President and his administration are using to manipulate the american people and others in the world are quite obvious but uncontrolable it seems.

Bush managed to pull off a phoney war and today is using this as a campaign stratagy with no problem whatsoever and I'll simply stop there because most know what this traitor president is guilty of.

Republicans own the White House, the Senate and Congress, Example: we see what role the Attorney general has been playing, he works not for the american people he (excuse me) works for the pleasure of serving the President.

John dean states the current administration is much worse then in the Nixon Watergate days but some say that is where/how Rove made up his current "playbook". Capitalizing on the mistakes made from Nixon, Viet Nam and The Watergate era.

These times are a chagin in deed...

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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:41 PM
Response to Original message
16. Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, Sept. 23, 1800:
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson would be leading the charge against the bush administration.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:46 PM
Response to Original message
17. After reading a good deal but not all of Dean's book, it seems to
me that "authoritarian conservative" is a redundancy because conservatism seeks to impose dogma - values, no matter how hypocriically - rather than offer them for public discussion.

So, minding that idea, in your last sentence: do you mean, "liberal American"? :)
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 04:57 AM
Response to Reply #17
23. "Liberal American"
Now that sounds better, thank you!

I had read your response last night, as I was signing off. And I found myself thinking about it late at night, and early this morning. I've mentioned before that my normal brother left the East Coast three decades ago, as a liberal democrat. Somewhere along the line, he became more conservative, and a registered republican. (Curiously, the same thing happened to two of my father's brothers who moved to California, as well.)

He isn't invested in the rigid dogma of the conservative right. Rather, he is primarily a fiscal conservative. He correctly has concerns about the wasteful spending of tax dollars. Years ago, he and I discussed "social work": he wondered if I thought the programs were fine as they were, or areas they could be improved to benefit everyone. I remember quoting an old commercial that some might remember .... about you can pay me now, or pay me later.

I also explained to him that there is a huge investment in poverty in this country. A number of people are lining their pockets on other's being poor. He challenged me on that, and I pointed out the neighborhood in upstate New York where we spent our early childhood. It is the largest "low income" neighborhood in a 3 county region. There were, when we spoke, 120 rental units. The landlords charged high rents, knowing that public assistance would pay to keep poor families there. The buildings were run-down, rarely getting any repairs, and were assessed very low, so the landlords paid little in taxes.

I was working, on my own time, in coordination with Janet Fitchen, a respected cultural anthropologist from Ithaca College, because a private group wanted to use (actually abuse) HUD funding intended to benefit the poor, by evicting the 120 families, and building expensive condos there. In upstate, rural counties, it is not possible to relocate 120 poor families easily. It was a bitter struggle.

Anyhow, I recall my brother mentioning a program that Jack Kemp had developed, to benefit the poor. My brother said it was an example of the superior insights of the fiscal conservatives. I had to play along .... and then explain that Kemp had "recreated" the concept of RFK's "Bed-Sty Corporation," from the impoverished Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The truth is that liberal Americans are more fiscally conservative that most conservatives.
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upi402 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 10:50 PM
Response to Original message
18. Individuals with high memory capacity
seem to be the most susceptible to media propaganda. They are not usually mean people. They aren't stupid and function very well. Yet they love to repeat the jingoisms and espouse the self-destructive policies of corporatist masters. They are like chickens carrying Colonel Sanders on a throne down the parade route to the slaughterhouse.

They lack the type of brain function that leads them to contemplate the input. Instead, the input seems to embed quickly and deeply. Input in this case, is the media -the propaganda organ of the state.

If these high functioning individuals are to be removed from the toolbox of the corporate state, they will need to be replaced. Conservatives I know are very resistant to new information which threatens their views. So an aware youth who will replace these bushbots must be given a chance to germinate.

1)The media and
2)clean elections must be priorities if Democrats retake power. I have some hope, but just some.
Then getting the money out of politics stands a chance. Then we can cut the cancer of corporatism from our democracy, or trim it back.
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bleever Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-28-06 11:19 PM
Response to Original message
20. When the. individual becomes a commodity,
as it has to Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld, and of course their spokesmodel Dubya, all the ideals of American democracy have been subsumed to primacy, dominance, and force, and thus been completely overturned.

It becomes the obligation of the dominated to set it right, which is in fact the process written into the DNA of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

We don't want to have to do it, but it's our job.

And since we're Americans: we'll do it.



:thumbsup:

]
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 04:59 AM
Response to Reply #20
24. Right.
Democracy isn't something that was "won" by past generations, and sits safely in a Washington museum. It's alive. It's how we live our lives.
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upi402 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 01:01 AM
Response to Original message
22. kick
:dem:
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Annces Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 08:43 AM
Response to Original message
25. kick - Thanks - n/t
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Pithy Cherub Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 08:59 AM
Response to Original message
26. Courage is the virtue
that is most required to live a life of worth and value. As Socrates says a life unexamined is not worth living.

First, a start with the Truth of self and then bringing the self to a higher order of magnitue by helping those closest. A reaching out to the community with authenticity and understanding of one's value will be richer for accepting and acting one's Truth and acquisition of meaning in Life.

What a Beautiful essay, H2O Man! The comments are enriching as well.
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conning Donating Member (60 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 09:34 AM
Response to Original message
27. As James Joyce observed,
history is the nightmare from which we are trying to awake. That history seems to be about 5000 years old. Leonard Shlain, in THE ALPHABET VERSUS THE GODDESS, identifies the written word as the primary catalyst in the development of this nightmare; his book is beautifully written and tightly argued.

The United States, more than any other society, was forged by the medium of print. As the print medium has given way to electronic forms, many people in the culture have felt their identity very threatened. These fearful people form the basis for the authoritarian personalities described by Dean and others.

The DU discussion forum, although based upon written words, carries with it many characteristics of oral culture. It offers depth involvement, simultaneity, and potential harmony.

H2O Man, with your varied interests, including those having to do with the oral cultures of the Native Americans, the African Americans, and the Irish Americans, I think you would find Leonard Shlain's book very well worth your time.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 10:32 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. I thank you
for the book recommendation. I will be heading back to the bookstore in a couple of weeks, and am always interested in reading the variety of good books that other DUers suggest.

I agree with you that DU has many of the characteristics of oral traditions. It also reminds me of the "hedge schools" of the Irish.
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Me. Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. !
*shadow government*
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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 10:39 AM
Response to Reply #27
29. We're far too dismissive of our elderly to realize the full benefits ...
... of oral traditions, imho. The elderly are called "geezers" on DU. We're a cult of youth - crediting our youth with not just their 'promise' but with the preemptive credit for accomplishments manifesting that 'promise.' We tend to deify innocence - forgetting (or never realizing) that wisdom's prerequisite is the loss of innocence. No - age does not automatically confer wisdom ... but youthful innocence precludes it. Of what value is a 'promise' unfulfilled?

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Annces Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 02:06 PM
Response to Original message
31. I see examples of what you are talking about
around me a lot. The authoritarian mind set. I see it vividly in China recently with the way they treat people as a collective entity, and don't see a person as being valuable. It does seem like an awful way for people to live, everyone's lives are denigrated. Why Cheney or others would like this kind of existence, I don't know.

We are such a large country, and I think that makes it easier to try to try to make people dependent on the state. I hope we have enough of our natural wildness to shake off any efforts at authoritarian state.

I have often had friends or family who if you discuss something like people being treated fairly, they act like that is a dream. I was lucky to have a father who always taught by example that a person is important and valuable. When Mayor Marion Barry was busted for cocaine possession, I said to my father - "Barry is not being a good role model". And my father replied - "Be your own role model". And I knew he was right.
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. "Be your own role model" ....
Oh, I like that. It's getting late in the afternoon, and so I hope that I'm able to make sense. But: in terms of being a mature individual in the context of family and society, that is a key. We need to grow beyond the child and youth who looks up to Mom & Dad, in all of their manifest forms. It means reaching a level of self-awareness, where we do not rely upon others to determine what we think, or how we behave.

In his book "Escape From Freedom" (1947), Fromm notes that "If man is to have confidence in values, he must know himself and the capacity of his nature for goodness and productiveness." Yet, as you say, for many people -- intelligent people, at that -- this is considered unrealistic. People have become conditioned to accept less than they should, and too often to accept the unacceptable.

It would be good to have an exodus, so to speak, though we cannot all venture into the wilderness. But we can become the mature human beings needed to create the awareness that is needed to transform the group around us, and to reach that higher ground. It is an option available to us.
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civildisoBDence Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 09:22 PM
Response to Original message
33. H2O Man, are you familiar with Theodor Adorno's "The Authoritarian Personality"?
Adorno was part of the Frankfurt School of critical studies, sort of the sociological counterpoint to Fromm's psychology.

I've only read snippets, but it seems as relevant now as ever.

Newsprism
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H2O Man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 04:40 AM
Response to Reply #33
35. I am not,
though it sounds interesting and, as you note, "as relevant now as ever."
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-29-06 10:36 PM
Response to Original message
34. That was a great read. Thank you H2O man. Thank you.
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