Democracy


#1

And Polo said: “The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”

from Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino


i acknowledge the hesitation in “topical” communities to engage in politics, but to the extent that politics is life and (i expect) most of us are all scrambling to better understand our current moment, i would like to share my own findings and hope to learn from your own. slogans and hastags do not make progress, just as FUCK TRUMP and JAIL HER do not promote dialog.

for the moment i’ll point at others’ analysis:

be well.


Internet + 4chan + gender politics
Patreon(/Soundcloud) - the politics/power of the middleman
#2

I have been spending quite a bit of time on Facebook encouraging people to raise the bar on their media consumption habits and (ironically) to spend less time on Facebook.

I don’t usually post “Public” on Facebook, but I did make this post public:

Links in that post to a Pew Research study about how various media sources are perceived by people ascribing to various political ideologies. Also a link from a media studies professor warning about “fake news”/click-bait sources (with a list of such sites to be wary of). And finally, a selection of my personal favorite “long reads”, because I feel that, as described in Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow, by Daniel Kahneman, we are more likely to influence people if we engage their “thinking slow” intellect, than if we stick to snap judgements and surface impressions.


#3

i liked this analysis:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-the-making-of-trumpthe-blind-spot-that-created_us_58264d03e4b02b1f5257a1ca?

and this podcast about trump supporters made back in october 2015:


#4

Friendly correction: it’s Daniel Kahneman.


#5

and there was recently a dutch tv documentary about people supporting Bernie Sanders. was really inspiring and hopeful to watch.


#6

just dropping the link here, don’t know much about it but looks interesting and promising


#7

‘There’s something very interesting about civics and selfishness, and we get to ride the crest of it. Here in the US, we expect government and law to be our conscience. Our superego, you could say. It has something to do with liberal individualism, and something to do with capitalism, but I don’t understand much of the theoretical aspect—what I see is what I live in. Americans are in a way crazy. We infantilize ourselves. We don’t think of ourselves as citizens—parts of something larger to which we have profound responsibilities. We think of ourselves as citizens when it comes to our rights and privileges, but not our responsibilities. We abdicate our civic responsibilities to the government and expect the government, in effect, to legislate morality. I’m talking mostly about economics and business, because that’s my area.’

‘What do we do to stop the decline?’

‘I have no idea what we do. As citizens we cede more and more of our autonomy, but if we the government take away the citizens’ freedom to cede their autonomy we’re now taking away their autonomy. It’s a paradox. Citizens are constitutionally empowered to choose to default and leave the decisions to corporations and to a government we expect to control them. Corporations are getting better and better at seducing us into thinking the way they think—of profits as the telos and responsibility as something to be enshrined in symbol and evaded in reality. Cleverness as opposed to wisdom. Wanting and having instead of thinking and making. We cannot stop it. I suspect what’ll happen is that there will be some sort of disaster—depression, hyperinflation—and then it’ll be showtime: We’ll either wake up and retake our freedom or we’ll fall apart utterly. Like Rome—conqueror of its own people.’

david foster wallace - the pale king

(i would have posted greenwald, so instead here’s a quote i tend to return to
i’ve been a fervent supporter of bernie, and really hoped for a bernie/warren coalition…)


#8

This text from 1935 by Bertolt Brecht felt, to me, like one of the best comment I’ve read on Trump’s election, so I’m sharing it here. It’s a reminder that this is not only about Trump, and in some ways, not about him at all, but about us as a civilization, as individuals and/or groups of individuals trying to communicate to eachother, even when the social gaps separating us are harder to cross than actual geographic barriers and distances.

So here goes : http://ada.evergreen.edu/~arunc/texts/theater/brecht/fiveDifficulties.pdf


#9

Fixed it, thanks…


#10

A couple of essays I’ve found helpful - the first widely shared, I think, but the second (more quantitative) perhaps not as much:

http://www2.nybooks.com/daily/s3/nov/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival.html


#11

At this hour of the night

The great watchmen are dead.

Doubtless THEY killed them.

The weak glow of their solitary stubbornness disturbed the party of sleep too much. That, at least, is what we think, we guess — we who’ve come so late — in light of the perplexity that their name still stirs up at certain times.

Every living trace of what they did and were has been erased, it seems, by the maniacal obstinacy of resentment. In the end, all that’s left of them for this world is a handful of dead images that it still haloes with the villainous satisfaction of having conquered those who were better than it is.

So here we are, orphans of grandeur, marooned in a world of ice where no fires light the horizon. Our questions have to remain unanswered, the old ones assure us; then they say, all the same: “there’s never been a blacker night for intelligence.”


#12

The United States’ unminded, always-present fascist vein allowed to roar and thrash about due to an inclination (whatever the cause in this period) for willfully ignoring “undesirable” views and expressing violence rather than discuss, learn, and love from our myriad perspectives. The capable (financially fortunate) bathe in our comfort, complacency, and privilege to individuality.

Having said all that, I’m not sure what it would take for me to make what I would consider substantial action (a career in politics) which would amount to really trying and investing real effort to enact some specific change. I know most (including me) would rather regurgitate other person’s perspectives on Facebook, Twitter, or wait on a ballot and call that enough. And then there are the apathetic late-night discussions with my friend who was once an intelligence officer.

In what ways do you cope with ignoring the perpetual mass suffering taking place RIGHT NOW in the world?


#13

I fill up my time with complicated problems that I know how to solve. It only partially works. I still wake up in the middle of the night panicking about things I feel are beyond my control.


#14

Here and here!! I often think we collect based on how we cope


#15

What worries me is I don’t think art is resistance anymore. It’ll be perceived as such - there’s a future you can see from here (and of course, a past we still remember) in which a lot of our modular noodlings will be flat-out illegal because they don’t make musical sense to a majority of people. But I’m not convinced that art can still make any real change. (In part because we destroyed the apparatus by which any but a very tiny sliver of it can get substantial attention. And I’m a web developer, so that’s a very personal “we.”)


#16

The other way I cope? I think about how bloody revolution tends to be and how much I love my family and I thank the universe for my incredible good fortune.

Then I go back to fretting about whether I could be doing more. Generally ineffectual, but occasionally I get a useful idea about it.


#17

#18

One thing is call your senators and representative and tell them what you want them to do.

Call the district offices. All three of my calls were answered in one or two rings, no hold, no phone tree; all three were fielded by courteous, sharp, attentive people, and I said what I needed to, it was recorded (in writing I mean), and will be forwarded to my senators and rep at the end of the day.

Don’t email. Don’t tweet. Don’t FB message. CALL. It’s way, way more effective.

I’m in CA district 34 (93.7% Democratic in this past election), so it’s a bit of preaching to the converted, but some of you may live in more hostile territory.

Call.

EDIT: https://twitter.com/i/moments/798297193559904258


#19

That we can sit here and act as if Donald Trump’s indecency is a
singular pathology rather than a systemic mode of politics (I don’t have
time to get into here the ways in which the Democratic Party has often
enabled this rightward march over the years, but suffice it to say, that
must be part of any real historical reckoning); that we can treat his
arrival on the scene as a novelty and an innovation rather than the
logical outgrowth of years of right-wing revanchism; that we would
invoke against Trump the memory of an earlier, more decent Republican
Party, present as recently as one election ago: that is itself a kind of
collusion, an erasure of the past, a collusion with indecency.

(formatting’s a bit weird, sorry)
from an article i read a while back, thought it might be interesting to others as well: http://crookedtimber.org/2016/08/02/trumps-indecent-proposal/


#20

Thanks for linking that discussion Brian, A really thoughtful talk.