Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category
Amy Lee Huffington Post 10/10/11
Occupy Wall Street got some Slovenian philosopher star power on Sunday, as Marxist academic Slavoj Zizek joined the movement.
“We are not destroying anything,” he said. “We are only witnessing how the system is destroying itself.”
Using the “Human Microphone” system, where protestors repeat back the words of the speaker so that others can hear, Zizek spoke for over an hour to the enthusiastic crowd, who whooped and cheered as he went on.
While in China, entertainment programming that depicts alternate reality and time travel has been banned, in the U.S., we have a different problem, according to Zizek.
“Here we don’t think of prohibition, because the ruling system has even oppressed our capacity to dream, ” he said. “Look at the movies that we see all the time — It’s easy to imagine the end of the world, an asteroid destroying a whole life, but you cannot imagine the end of capitalism. So what are we doing here?”
Zizek also advised the people to see the Tea Party as a sister movement — “They may be stupid, but don’t look at them as the enemy,” he said.
But he warned the protestors against succumbing to the excitement of the immediate events instead of keeping their eye on the prize: True social change.
Zizek is just the latest of the prominent figures who have come to lend their voice in Zuccotti Park, alongside activists like Michael Moore, writer Naomi Klein as well as actors including Mark Ruffalo, Susan Sarandon, and Roseanne Barr.
Also: Slavoj Zizek: The Delusion of Green Capitalism
Eye-balling the Fifth Century
July 21, 2011 By Fred Reed FredOnEverything.net
When a country works reasonably well—when the schools teach algebra and not governmentally mandated Appropriate Values, when the police are scarce and courteous, when government is remote and minds its business and works more for the benefit of the country than for looters and special interests, then pledging to it a degree of allegiance isn’t foolish. Decades back America was such a country, imperfect as all countries are, but good enough to cherish.
As decline begins, and government becomes oppressive, self-righteous, and ruthless yet incompetent, as official spying flourishes, as corruption sets in hard, and institutions rot, it is time to disengage. Loyalty to a country is a choice, not an obligation. In other times people have loved family, friends, common decency, tribe, regiment, or church instead of country. In an age of national collapse, this is wise.
A fruitful field of disengagement might be called domestic expatriation—the recognition that living in a country makes you a resident, not a subscriber. It is one thing to be loyal to a government that is loyal to you, another thing entirely to continue that loyalty when the Brown Shirts march and the government rejects everything that you believe in. While the phrase has become unbearably pretentious, it is possible to regard oneself as a citizen of the world rather than of the Reich.
First, define it. (Tough one, huh?) In an era of plausible deniability, drone over-kill and high-tech surveillance it is perfectly reasonable to suspect both events and motives. I expected this article might be another to put tin foil hats on the usual suspects but it has a little different approach, and it’s worth reading.
What was ‘reality’ when people were encouraged to “Remember the Maine!”? We still don’t know for sure. But with the sophisticated and highly paid perception management industry busy twisting facts into talking points, we need to keep our critical thinking caps on 24/7. It’s too easy to obscure a nasty black-op with a “conspiracy theory” label.
Truth Decay: Conspiracy Theories and Hoaxes Are Blurring Reality
How about some accountability for the false prophets, gross opportunists, and irresponsible rumor-mongers who threaten society with truth decay?
After his End Times prediction failed last week millionaire radio prophet Harold Camping eventually came up with an excuse. During his show “Open Forum” in Oakland on May 23, he explained that the world will still end in October. It’s a process and we’re just getting started. That’s a relief. At first I thought millions of people had just wasted days of time and energy fussing over some hairbrained idea.
There are so many theories out there. Obama is a secret Muslim – millions of people believe that, secular humanists want to repress religion, and liberals are plotting to confiscate people’s guns and push a “gay agenda.” At the opposite end of the political spectrum, there’s the assertion that 9/11 was an inside job and all that this entails. No offense meant. I’ve been called a “conspiracy nut” myself, specifically for saying that we should know more about the attack on the Twin Towers. Still, a modern-day Reichstag fire at multiple locations does qualify as a radical conclusion.
I usually resist the urge to challenge the controversial theories of fellow travelers, at least in mixed company. The other night, for example, during a discussion about Al-Qaeda after Osama, a speaker casually asserted that President Roosevelt knew about the attack on Pearl Harbor in advance and let it happen. No one said a word. I considered questioning the notion but let it pass.
Anything’s possible, right? Why be rude? But some theories and predictions are too important. They are widely accepted as indisputable and part of an overall world view, usually linked with an anti-establishment ideology. They have practical consequences for social action, can spark deep divisions, and influence how people see and treat others. In some groups, if you question the conclusions of a prevailing theory you’re either a dupe or a collaborator.
Deep skepticism is often at the root, a good thing in general. After all, so much of what we once believed has turned out to be a lie, or at least a very selective version of reality. But still, shouldn’t there be standards? Also, why do some theories get all the attention while others, perhaps more credible ones, get buried? And can’t we at least call people to account when their claims repeatedly lead down false trails?
March 28, 2011
We don’t last, and there’s no warranty
By Fred Reed
Jocotepec, Mexico — Joe lived awhile down the lake. We would visit him of an afternoon, Vi and I, and find him, a bear of a man, bearded mountain Buddha, writing on the porch of his one-room place in Ajijic. Always he wore his old fishing vest, in which I suspect he was born, and sometimes he carried a small laptop in one of its pockets. Usually we adjourned to the living room, which was also the bedroom, dining room, and salon. He would fetch bottles of local red, or make the jalapeño martinis he invented — there was a bit of mad chemist in him — and we would talk for hours of art, music, the news, politics, and people. Especially people. Sometimes he grabbed one of the guitars from the wall and sang blues, at which he was good. I guess growing up dirt poor in West Virginia puts that kind of music in you.
Joe could fool you. He talked slow and Southern, lacked pretensions, and you could talk to him for weeks without realizing how very damned smart he was. One day we dropped in and he said he had just found that he had cancer. It went fast. He died Saturday.
A news discussion on CNN yesterday revealed the Army’s reversal of charges of dereliction of duty by superior officers Army accused of covering up mistakes in Afghan battle evidently in the hallowed tradition of “protecting the institution” and blaming the dead……
I noted another article in The Scientist which discusses the same inclination in scientific circles:
Sometimes going public with an accusation is the only way to bring the truth to light……..the local commission investigating the case might delay, play down or even suppress incriminating evidence, perhaps going public was the only way to see that justice was served.
A South Carolina news item Ideology trumps health reports:
Dr. David Cull, a prominent vascular surgeon in Greenville, had invented a small valve system that, if it works, could spare 300,000 dialysis patients across the country enormous suffering and save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.
But Cull’s hometown senator, Jim DeMint, would not write a letter supporting the surgeon’s application for a federal grant under the landmark health care bill that President Barack Obama signed into law a year ago today….
DeMint vowed in 2009 to make health care Obama’s “Waterloo” and is leading Republican efforts in Congress to repeal or deny funding to the law.
All our institutions are prone to cover their butts, choose ideology over the public good and discard those who seek justice.
In effect this delays institutional ability to learn from mistakes, and it used to go on for generations. New technology and recognition of the value of “transparency” (in word if not in action) are game changers. Recent comments by Fouad Ajami about WikiLeaks in Foreign Policy magazine included observations that nothing particularly new was revealed, just confirmation of what people already knew but was not officially acknowledged.
The powers-that-be are certain to push back in order to censor or punish those who reveal painful truths. But those with the courage to go public today are challenging traditions of smirking hypocrisy, institutionalized corruption, and blaming the victim. I applaud them!
see also: Despite Reforms, Whistleblowers at Development Banks Face Retaliation
By Charles Davis