Of the hundreds of entires I’ve posted since starting this blog, the least interesting, as far as I can see, is the passing banal comment I made on the contretemps between Travis Patron and Bernie Farber. And yet, for some reason I haven’t yet been able to fathom, it’s received more views from more readers than anything else I’ve posted. Since there’ve been no comments on it, I can’t tell whether it’s garnered attention from anti-Semites or from anti-anti-Semites or from some of each. I’m delighted by the attention, but could someone PLEASE tell me who’s reading it and why? I’m not asking for names, I’m just asking for insight. Inquiring minds just want to know.
It seems to me that the woke ascendancy has comprehensively overplayed its hand with a set of narratives that have become so overwrought, dogmatic, hysterical, aggressive, intellectually blunted, language mangling, dripping with ideological clichés and stereotypes and increasingly clericalist in its intolerant authoritarian reactions to perceived ‘heresy’, that it is creating a blowback which contains all the very things it most fears, which is any dissonance at all, whether neo Nazi or anything else…..And audiences are literally rivetted with horror and consternation at seeing their world disintegrating into an incoherent and semi comatose fever…like some postmodernist nightmare of dysfunctionalized jerks, splits, mismatches and broken artifacts.
Your blithely innocent comment became a lightening rod for all the above. It wasn’t your fault.
Okay, but which SIDE is getting all exercised over my post, and why aren’t they honouring me with even a single comment?
The answer to your question is all sides. You hit what they say in the therapeutic massage industry, is a ‘trigger point’; a point of particular sensitivity, where the .muscle is in spasm & inflamed.
And the reason it is in this state is that story you are averring to; i.e., the successful registration of a Neo Nazi party in Canada that is going to provide a real version of fascism.to answer Antifa with on the streets of Canada…..& the kind of chaotic street fighting that characterized particularly Berlin in the late 1920s.
People know in their hearts that war is coming & your comment crystlized that moment of recognition.
In 1968, when troops fired on students at Kent State Uni, it prompted a general pullback from an existential cliff from which there would be no return. That won’t happen this time. War……
I think you’re right about “all sides” are reading, Christopher.
I don’t know about war being inevitable, though I do worry about self-fulfilling prophecies. Priming others for a fight by putting them on alert for a fight, creating a hyper vigilant situation, makes a fight more inevitable. Then, when someone yells “fight”, others readily pile on. I think heightened internal security has the same effect. If security is kept visible, if the rhetoric warns of terrorism and enemies, a population is ready to go when the war cry is called.
Anyway. Not all civil unrest leads to war, but clearly some can.
Here’s a problem. I’m going to do a very crude paraphrase of Martin Van Crevald, men [humans] like to go to war. There’s something titillating about a fight. (Think of the excitement of a school yard crowd yelling “fight, fight, fight!”. Same impulse.)
And. There’s something titillating, as Aristotle notes in his Rhetoric, about the prospect of revenge. Aristotle isn’t alone. In his time, just as now, we’re familiar with the phrase: Revenge is Sweet. I think this notion is given some scientific support, such as via Daniel Kahneman’s notion of cognitive ease (also described by Aristotle, though not in the same jargon). The idea is: Something isn’t right, it’s out of order, it’s threatening. And we have an impulse to put things in order, mitigate the threat. Find some equilibrium (not necessarily to put things back to where they were, which is incoherent, but only to reach an equilibrium whatever that might look like.)
The Omega wolf in a wolf-pack probably plays a similar role, relieving tension in the pack by being something of the scapegoat that bears the brunt of a pile-on by the pack.
Anyway, the pleasantness, using Aristotle’s terminology (the class of pleasant things) of behaviours like the revenge impulse complicates matters because it makes it hard to curb the behaviour. I know that pleasantness and the terribleness of conflict is a bit of a mind-*F* — but, behaviour needs a driver.
I have more to say but I am making supper — my pasta is boiling over! I hope I’ve made sense thus far. More shortly … P
Hey Paul, Have you had any more views on your Patron and Farber blog post since you asked the question?
I wrote a post on ‘Fist Pumping’ that I think is apt to share here:
If anyone reads my post and wonders what might be done to avoid self-fulfilling prophecies my advice is to be aware of one’s own fist pumping and not give uptake to the fist pumping of others, i.e. stay calm, keep some perspective. Easier said than done sometimes.
My dear Paul, all you are saying is true as far as it goes, but what we are looking at isn’t more than marginally some school yard fight over scapegoating, or the dominance behavior of particularly male egos, or the desire for a bit of gratuitous Clockwork Orange ‘ultra vi’.
The showdown that is coming has been in the making for at least 30-40 years. The appearance of
Trump as a phenomenon has all the hallmarks of a fourteenth century peasant rebellion against its aristocratic rulers; a hayseed ‘Jacquerie’ amongst whose adherents the word ‘liberal’ as become one of vehement anger, revulsion and disgust at the betrayal of their America, both economically and culturally.
And that one has woven itself into a bitter internal regime fight at the elite level between traditional hydrocarbon intensive and environmental constraint averse ‘free market’ industrial manufacturing and mining capital, backed by its present and past working classes, and the low energy/knowledge intensive coastal tertiary mega cities of the coasts, and their petty bourgeois administrative and professional class workforce. And the cultural clash coming out of that is traditional social and religious values versus the environmentalist wokes.
Both sides represent fundamental regime deregulatory and privatization agendas, but the indulgence side of indulgence capitalism (whereby a disciplined economy and culture of needs and wants is subsumed by ones driven by rules, intellectual/moral boundary dissolving and reality suspending fantasies of desire and immediate satiation at any price) is the tertiary social administrative and services industrys’ special woke baby, and has been since the 1960s, as tertiary capital and its marketing system took over consciousness, exported manufacturing and jobs, and saved prosperity and security for people from affluent middle/upper middle class homes, armed with degrees their poor white and equally displaced working class black populations couldn’t afford.
Finally, the woke regime social administrative arms of capital proceeded to deregulate and privatize the social system, which after three generations has left the social infrastructure on which it has battened in ruins, producing highly dysfunctional, chronically fragile, perversely delusional. but completely colonized and conformist social product. The manufacturing and hydrocarbonized side of capital has exported and globally expanded indulgence driven consumer production to environmental infrastructure wrecking levels that parallel the damage to the society and culture
The only defenses against these twin thrust is fundamentalist religious refusal to countenance woke indulgence and deregulation driven cultural ideological damage, and the woke refusal to countenance further environmental damage. Both sides equally have the measure of the other’s regime misbehavior and both are reaching a snapping point at the obtuse denialism of the other. In the US, where the issues have become so urgent and the present trajectories so intractable, it will come to blows.
And for those of us who live outside in other parts of the affluent old west, the take home is an urgent return to the political and cultural center, whereby the ‘right’ sees the necessity to abandon hydrocarbonist free market delusionalism, acknowledge the ecological facts of life and see the economic opportunities there are to be had in moving towards at least a rapid decarbonization of the economy, and ‘the left’ sees the necessity to reign in woke postmodernist fantasizing and its wretchedly delusional identity politics, especially in the humanities schools that presently produce most of the apparatchiks of social administration.
That is a virtuous circle in the sense that both sides cut their radical fruitcake wings adrift and adopt less divisive and more sustainably small c conservative policy. But it is too late in the US now. The armies are already assembling…….and they are playing for keeps.
Just so Paul’s readers can follow who said what in this thread: It was I, Pam, who made the comments your refer to; e.g. the school yard fight. Not Paul.
Food for thought:
1) The behavioural drivers I roughly described are non-trivial, as any skilled rhetor is apt to know as it is these drivers the rhetor aims to leverage.
Behaviours (including reason) need a driver, some passion (aversion or desire). Ask yourself, what do people want? Something they must believe attainable if it is to drive behaviour, i.e. is possible to attain. If a want is fulfilled or deemed impossible to attain, it is no longer a want. What are the kinds of wants that lead to war?…,
2) Thomas Hobbes observes “that in the nature of man, we find three principle causes of quarrel. First, competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.
The first taketh men invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for reputation. The first use violence to make themselves masters of other men’s persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue, either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their nation, their profession, or their name.” (Leviathan, Book 1, Chapter 13, 6.&7.)
The bottom line is that humans are driven by some pretty basic things. Socio-cultural things, political commitments, ideologies, and so on are all add-ons.
3) Here’s an example. My husband and I visited a tiny church in one of the the white towns of southern Spain, just to take in it’s charm. The only other people in the church were a parishioner and his young family who were setting up a nativity scene. The man told us some history of the church but one thing in particular is important here. He pointed out that one of the statues lining the walls was markedly different than the others. It was antique, the others were new. During the Spanish civil war, the church was reduced to rubble. This one stature survived the destruction. When peace returned, villagers rebuilt the church.
At this point, the man became teary. He told us that the fighting way up in the north was an ideological battle. In the south, he explained, the fighting was different. It was largely feuding — personal grudges. And it’s the personal nature of the fighting that the man found particularly painful. A similarly painful aftermath is found in rural Peruvian communities as divided families and neighbours, many with blood on their hands, must coexist following their civil war. Some were Senderistas, some military, others, civilians, were playing out their own feuds.
In each case, a fight broke out between some over some one thing, and others jumped into the fray to play out their own grievances. But not for everyone everywhere within the warring regions. In spite of swaths, or pockets, of devastation, during these and other wars, the busses still tend to run on time.
4) The polarization in America looks bad – with no small part of appearances attributable to media sensationalism. But consider the following (which anyone interested can Google — try Pew Research). There are people on the right and left political poles. My understanding is that these particular polarized groups haven’t grown so much in number as in intensity. And it’s these people who tend to both be politically active and make the news. But, between these poles are the silent majority. A lot of people are in the centre-ish. And life for most of these people most of the time is okay.
There are problems, and some very serious problems, to be sure. I’m sure skirmishes will continue for a while. Whether we’ll draw a line around them and call them a civil war, time will tell. I’m no seer on these matters. But, for what it’s worth, I don’t think we’re in for “W” war (‘we’ as in Canada wouldn’t be unaffected by a war next door).
Thank you Pam for identifying yourself and taking so much trouble to elucidate your point of view. I enjoyed reading it and savored it all the more for its reasoning powers and the depth of its references.
As I said in what you were responding to, I agree with you as far as it goes, but human struggle and concurrence for that matter, occur in great many more dimensions than their particulars. None of them are but merely the sum of their humors, attitudes, and personal motivations, or what happens here and then what happens somewhere else with the same overall theatre of action,
It seems to me that our affairs are fundamentally guided by much larger forces that engineer trends and a pattern of events that throw up certain sorts of people and attitutudes, problems and solutions to them in varying degrees of success or failure, depending on how well those actors and the forces that are driving them, are leveraging or swimming against the tides of their times.
When you are winning, you have the initiative and your mistakes are more likely to be forgiven. If you are losing, you always struggling to stay in the game, your victories only keep you in it and every error means further retreat.
In a period where the forces of the status quo come under pressure from emerging ones, conflicts will occur that play out as distributed points on a trend line defined more by the new forces and ever less by the old ones. That does not mean that all the ordinary social politics aren’t going on, but they are being shaped and defined by the larger agendas that are being rolled out by the historical processes at play.
And this is what is going on now. A guy like Trump doesn’t appear in the political firmament unless certain sorts of things have happened that make him a likely and plausible actor for the constituencies that he acts for and the agendas that are driving them….that have come out of the transformation of capitalism in America over the last 50-70 years.
Now whether that has a denouement that ends in war yet to be seen. But if my analysis is correct, that we are moving into post modern devolution of the modern period, we can look forward with some confidence to the kinds of protracted wars of toleration that marked the beginnings of this great and yet terrible period in the history of our species.