Search This Blog

Showing posts with label FaceBook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FaceBook. Show all posts

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Face Book Politics

Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

Last year I argued with a lot of my friends on Face Book. We argued a great deal during the primaries. We argued about Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, old BS, and HRC.
I was, and am a Hillary supporter, the nation lost out on a good leader when we failed to elect her.
I love to argue, I have an instinct for it, maybe an addiction. I find certain things in politics very hard to resist. I think it is a character flaw.
Ultimately, I had to result in a program of self-censorship. In an argument I can be aggressive uncompromising, this largely stems from my conviction that I am right (I am not giving that up). It also comes from my desire to cut back all the noise, to go for the close when I am in that argumentative mode.
As I have said, I have a character flaw, I love to argue. I like to win. I believe I am right, and I can sometimes be impatient.
These are all good reasons not to argue with people that I genuinely like, on Face Book.
Sometimes I cannot resist.
I waded into an argument yesterday. A friend of mine posted a link to an article by Harvard Professor, Dr. Cornell West.
Dr. West has been arguing for progressive thinkers and voters to abandon the Democratic Party. The basis for this is his interest in social justice. He believes that the Democratic party cannot cure itself of its racism, homophobia, militarism, or its alignment with big, banks, big agra, big oil, all of which perpetuate grave injustices on the people, but more importantly on those who are the most marginalized already.
While Dr. West sees the problem for it is, the Democratic Party, like the majority of Americans, is deeply tied to economic forces, those fears, those corrupting social issues, those matters of identity politics. He is right about that, but he is wrong, and absolutely wrong about the prescription.
My response to this post was simply to say that Cornell West is an idiot. That was not very nice, but it is true. When he, or anyone speaks about dividing the political power of the Democratic party, of abandoning it, they is being idiotic.
I quickly edited my response to remove the incendiary language. My edited comment read, Cornell West doesn’t know what he is talking about.” This is true. Cornell West, who has legitimate roots as an activist, who is a brilliant writer, public speaker, public intellectual, he is also someone who stopped living in the real world some decades ago. Because he is disconnected from the world, he finds himself, like Noam Chomsky trying to solve problems from his office in the ivory tower at Harvard square.
His answer to the real problems of social injustice have become, “take an ideologically pure position and make a lot of noise.” When the real solution has to be, “change public policy.”
The social injustices that beset the poor and the marginalized, are matters of law, and public policy. We cannot bring justice without changing law and policy. To make those kinds of changes, we need to win elections. We need to elect people to public office, at every level of government who will do the right thing. Put the bills on the floor, bring them up for a vote, and pass them into law.
I understand if people want to take umbrage with democratic lawmakers, and policy shapers, for being sellouts, and not being good at their jobs. Those individuals are a fraction of the party, the party is tens of millions of people, slightly larger than half of the electorate, spread throughout the nation.
When Dr, West argues that we should abandon the Democratic Party, he is saying, abandon those people. Stop working with them. The very people he purports to want to help.
Politics is a game of compromise, and compromise never satisfies anyone. Politics should be informed by idealism, but cannot be held hostage to it. Advancing public policy requires political legislative victories, and that requires victories at the ballot box. We on the left need to stay together, work together, collaborate and compromise if we are to have any hope getting control of the ship again.
Dr, West, Noam Chomsky, people like my friend who I argued with yesterday, they look right past this point. They want to draw power away from the place where it is most heavily concentrated, rather than add to it. They want to divide and diffuse it, because they believe that being right, is more important than doing right.

That is a shame.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bread and Circuses - Editorial, The Week in Review – Analysis, Commentary, Opinion


Bread and Circuses

If you keep the people “fat and happy” you can get away with anything. This is a common synthesis of the phrase first attributed to the Roman poet in the first century CE, “bread and circuses;” he said. Give the people bread and circuses and you will have their support. They will not object to anything you do, and they will follow you anywhere.

In the Roman context, the call for circuses meant; give the people games to entertain them. Gladatorial games, yes, but the reference to the “circuses” meant the great racing track of the Circus Maximum, the round “ovular” course where chariot races took place.

“Fat and Happy” fairly approximates the sense of “Bread and Circuses,” but “Fat and Entertained,” is closer to the original meaning. Some historians have viewed this political philosophy as a strategy of appeasement; as if to say, if you keep the people fed and entertained they will not revolt. Others have seen it simply as a strategy of distraction; as if to say, if you keep the people fed and entertained they will not notice the crimes you commit, or your mismanagement of government. The same philosophy can serve both strategies, and it can also be a strategic means of fostering loyalty; as if to say, if you keep the people fed and entertained, you can count on their continuing support,

Bread and Circuses, Bread and Games, is not exactly the same as Fat and Happy. We may just as easily be saying Fed and Entertained, wherein entertainment could also mean angry, hostile, and vehement.

In America today there is no end to the supply of food. This is not to say that some people to not suffer from food insecurity, food scarcity, even malnutrition; this is a resource management problem and has nothing to do with the abundance of food available in the market place.

Americans are fed, fat, and completely distracted.

We are entertained by games, sports, Pokemon Go, by television, movies, and social media, we are distracted by partisan politics, by protests, by injustice. We are do distracted by ephemeral issues like racism, classism, and sectarianism that there is little opportunity for us to come together and hold our government accountable for providing the basic services we require, such as; health care, education, public safety, roads and bridges, and the most important thing of all, justice.

Another ancient axiom is this A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand. We live in a divided world, we live in a divided country. There is not an American Society, there are thousands of little societies, each doing its own thing.  

American are distracted by their differences, and by their sameness. We have gay society, and straight society, and the rest that just don’t care. We have white societies, and black societies, and Latino societies, and Asian societies, and humanist societies, and allied societies. We have gamer societies, and comic-con societies, and Facebook groups, and band followers, meth heads, and pot heads and drunks, we have protest societies, and police societies…and so on, and so forth ad nauseam.

It is natural and normal to differentiate ourselves from one another. It is good to stand up and fight for your rights. It is good, and it is our duty to demand justice in the face of injustice, but those natural and normal ways by which we come to differentiate ourselves from one another, when they become the focus of our energy and identity rather than the interests of justice and human rights; then those modes of differentiation have failed to serve any meaningful purpose.

In my community there are protests taking place. People have gathered to protest another (in a long line of) unjustified shooting of a black man, by police. People are angry, and they are protesting, they are stopping traffic, they are fighting with police. They have no leadership, they are not talking to the media, they have no coherent voice. I am trying to understand what it is they want. What is the object of their protest? What do they want to see happen?

The ultimate answer is that they want the shootings to stop and they want reform of the criminal justice system, the full enfranchisement of African-American citizens.

I am with them on those goals.

However, the people on the protest line are distracted. They are angry, and distracted, they are whiling away their days shouting and throwing bricks, or singing songs and playing games. Sending out messages for coffee and food delivery, alienating those whom they perceive as not having a sufficient commitment to their cause; those who are not doing the same thing as they are doing.

They are so distracted by their passion that the justice they seek; systematic reforms in the criminal justice system; may be slipping away from them. It is almost certain that the ability of the protest leaders to have an influence on public policy, and possible legislation has. And so, in the greater scheme of things, that have become the pawns of the status quo.

The bread and circuses stratagem is working