Posts

President Trump: the fall of Rome and the collapse of industrial society.

My Psychohistory maillist said: "The "id candidate" has won.” America’s unconscious, the return of the repressed. Psychoanalytic models for understanding collective behavior.
Sounds right to me. We already know that resentment drives anti-establishment movements. Trump supporters represent the American unconscious: a little boy, angry at being frustrated in his desires and fearful of losing his self-coherence if he turns to his mother for succor.
And monied though Trump is, Hillary is too much the face of the existing system. He’s the rich kid who makes trouble right alongside the class losers. So everyone who feels rejected by the elite can find it easy to identify with him.
Or, more simply, (sociologically, rather than psychologically) America has failed sufficiently to educate her populace. Conceiving of education as a private benefit rather than as a public good, and refusing sufficiently to finan…

"Unthinkable": Merging Foucault and Lakoff/Johnson via Borge's fantastic "Chinese" taxonomy

A light flashed for me, things clicked into place. I asked what Foucault meant when he said the Chinese taxonomy is unthinkable. That we could speak it and write it out, but not think it?
I know what “unthinkable” means here. Reading Foucault in the context of Lakoff/Johnson clarifies it. (Now that I see it, it’s obvious. Isn’t that the way of things?)
I’ll provide a more thorough account later, but for now I can say that the Chinese taxonomy’s unthinkability is due to it being inconsistent with the cognitive unconscious, which functions as a kind of transmission band for the mapping of the sensorimotor domain onto the abstract thought/self-awareness domain(s). Foucault writes:
"The monstrous quality that runs through Borges’s enumeration consists, on the contrary, in the fact that the common ground on which such meetings are possible has itself been destroyed. What is impossible is not the propinquity of the things listed, but the very site on which their propinquity would be possi…

Right-wing Republican Extremism as Rooted in a Medievalist Epistemology

The attitude toward knowledge exhibited by the extremist supporters of right-wing Republicans seems to be a reversion to the kind of thought that pervaded medieval Europe. It's an anti-modernism. The modernist attitude toward knowledge, which developed in the Enlightenment of the 15th to 17th centuries, with the growth of technology and the emergence of science, relies on reason and empirical evidence developed and tested by a community of independently thinking individuals. The medieval attitude toward knowledge, which had been locked in place for at least a millennium and a half, was that knowledge was only created by the Deity and only revealed in the Bible; thus, no new knowledge could ever be created or found outside the official interpretations of the Bible. Medievalist knowledge is strictly authoritarian and a priori, while modernist knowledge is anti-authoritarian and empirical.

Authoritarian knowledge tends to be extremely prejudiced, rigidly unchanging, and …
There is an unacknowledged diversity of sexual reproduction in nature: "Welcome to the world of shelled sea-butterfly sex, in which the all-male population mate, store sperm, then change into females that fertilize themselves."

From: 
Bipolar Disorder, by Gretel Erhlich
a review of Lost Antarctica: Adventures in a Disappearing Land, 
James McClintock, Palgrave Macmillan.
onearth, winter 2013   http://www.onearth.org/article/bipolar-disorder

Profit-&-Cost vs. Values (Comment to a student in my Sociology of Popular Culture course)

Mature capitalist industrialism has become so intensely commercial, so driven by the profit motive, that its influence intrudes into every corner of our lives. And it's difficult even for us to question whether this is a good thing. (For many of us, at least.) It's "just accepted." To some extent, they bribe us into accepting it, but to some extent, they don't even have to bribe us, we're so inured to the practice. We're deluded --not just by advertising, but by a whole complex of factors-- into thinking that "cost" and "profit" are the most important principles of decision-making. (Not just business decision-making, but political, public-policy, even personal decision-making.) We get distracted from what we really want and what we really need, like health and kindness and creativity and clean air. Money is too easy to count, so its more and more widespread use degrades our ability to reason in a more complex fashion than money allows.…

What is Occupy today?

The Occupy movement receded because the crisis receded. The Occupy movement is a reactive social movement; such movements gather in participants when the public space becomes sufficiently chaotic, when distress increases enough to knock people off their normal apathy-balance point and makes them willing to join together in ways which the apathy of normality does not allow. Furthermore, the organizational kernel of Occupy is not the classic rational-hierarchical model typical in the West. This makes it difficult for the bureaucratic-rational mind to understand. Rather, it is the emergent co-operative/distributive model that has only recently been evolving from the Western counter-cultural reaction against the dominative individualism pervasive in Western culture.
Occupy is not dead. It has not failed "to grasp the moment." It is in an "in-breathing phase" of creating connections between activists, establishing a workable culture of consensus/participation/co-operat…

A Monetary Policy for the 99%: Twelve-Year-Old Reformer Goes Viral

Image