Revolution?

I was a bit dismayed by the lack of response to a guest blog I posted not long ago written by Jerry Stark. It struck me as extremely insightful and even a bit alarming. It is certainly worth a moment’s reflection. If Jerry is correct then we are in the midst of a revolution — which may or may not be a bad thing. Thomas Jefferson thought we needed a revolution every 20 years to clear the air, as it were! But this revolution is assuredly not a good thing, I fear, as it radically alters our perception of our world and other people in decidedly negative ways. I suspect it goes hand in glove with our cultural narcissism and may be exacerbated by our numerous fears and uncertainties. At the very least, it expresses the ressentiment of a growing number of people in this country who feel disenfranchised, excluded from the centers of power and influence, on the outside looking in.

In any event, I have selected the ten points that Jerry lists as evidence of the revolution in our thinking and will leave it to my readers to decide whether or not this alteration is a good thing — or indeed if it is widespread. I cannot argue against the fact that it is taking place. The only question is whether or not we will benefit from it in the long run. After all, like the oligarchy that has replaced our Republic, it replaces much of Western Civilization as we have known it for hundreds of years.

Here are Jerry’s ten points as he posted them:

(1) There is no truth other than the truth of the powerful. Any truth other than that of the powerful is not only false and fake; it is evil. The Leader is the source of Truth.

(2) Bigotry in defense of white supremacy is good. Non-white people are inferior. Social equality between races and religions is a dangerous lie.

(3) Nationalism, nativism and authoritarianism are good. Globalism, cosmopolitanism, and intellectualism are forms of weakness.

(4) Men are superior to women.

(5) Christians are superior to non-Christians.

(6) Real Americans, that is white Americans, are superior to all others.

(7) Strength is better than weakness. Military and economic strength are all important. Diplomacy and cooperation are signs of weakness.

(8) The strong are morally worthy; the weak are morally unworthy.

(9) Leadership is action for its own sake. Destruction is better than reform. Intelligence and policy analyses are unnecessary. All that is required is the will to act decisively and to prevail — in Trump’s words, to be a winner.

(10) Ignorance is virtue; intellect is vice.

 

13 thoughts on “Revolution?

  1. Happy New Year to you, Hugh!

    Here’s a very concrete response from SoundEagle to you with respect to Jerry Stark’s ten points, which I would like to echo with my cartoon created in the parlance of political satire, recently published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2017/10/18/the-quotation-fallacy/best-quotation-to-win-an-exclusive-loyal-contract-to-make-pig-boss-company-great-again/

    I thought that it is the least that I can do in the post-truth era, very graphically speaking, and considering that a picture is worth a thousand words.

  2. I remembered your initial post/guest blog by Jerry Stark, remembered that I had even re-blogged it, and recalled that it had been the cause of some angst, some sense of hopelessness. But I did not remember all the details, so upon reading this post, I returned to the original to refresh my memory. And, as it did the first time ’round, it left a heavy rock in the pit of my stomach. It also reinforces the every-growing certainty I have that the troubles we, and other nations, are facing today are not going away … at least not any time soon, if ever. Do you sometimes get the sense, my friend, people like you and I have outlived this world, that we no longer have a place in it?

    And to add to the darkness … there are days … usually only Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday … when I am convinced that none of it is going to matter before long, for we are only going to keep talking about the effects of climate change while waiting for ‘somebody else’ to do something about it until one day, there is no potable water, no safe food, and no air to breathe. Else the madman in the Oval Office may get an itchy finger one day and decide to try out that “big button” he’s been dying to play with.

    Jerry Stark is indeed astute and understands our situation, what led us here and what is likely to follow, altogether too well. Sigh. Hugs, my friend.

  3. Just a footnote to the post: When I refer to “Western Civilization” I refer to such things as the Greek notion of heroism and honor coupled with Roman Law and the Judeo-Christian moral code summarized in the “Golden Rule.” If Jerry is right, and I fear he is, such things are gradually being replaced by the ten “principles” he enumerates. The question is how far has this new ethos permeated into our culture?

  4. Hugh, the succinct summary of these principles is frightening. There are moments in the movie “Vice” about Dick Cheney that make these comments even more frightening. He uses his behind the scenes power to make the Executive branch a unitary, regal authority. The key phrase he used was if the President does it, by its nature is legal. This is post-Watergate.

    Keith

  5. As I consider the list you have reposted for purposes of discussion, bearing in mind a good deal of social science research and public opinion polling, it appears that attitudes and political opinions in this country are becoming increasing polarized.

    At one pole, are those whose statements and actions reflect the specific form of ressentiment outlined in the list I originally posted. If there is another pole (or more than one?), then the suggestion is that another form of ressentiment might be at work. This one might be oppositional to both the extant cultural framework AND the emerging morality revealed in the list you have offered for discussion.

    I haven’t thought this through very well, but there does seem to be an upsurge in some important attitudes:

    (1) An appreciation, not merely a tolerance, of cultural diversity.

    (2) A skepticism about how well traditional institutions and traditional institutional leaders serve the public– corporations, religions, governments, schools, etc.

    (3) The traditional gender stereotypes of males and females are widely questioned, to the point where they are regarded as irrelevant or harmful.

    (4) Acceptance of political and economic ideas once considered “communist / socialist” by large percentages of the American populace, especially the young, under the general terms of “progressivism”, “fairness”, and “public safety”. (Think health care, education funding, anda gun control, for example.)

    (5) A greater commitment to political engagement and increased support for candidates who challenge traditional party platforms and candidates.

    (6) A high regard for science and technology, and a subsequent acceptance of the reality and critical importance of climate change.

    This list is broadly stated. It leaves much room for specifics and nuances, to be sure.
    The list of emergent moral standards you have posted is depressing. No question about that. Equally depressing is that it represents the thinking of almost a third of the adults in this country. That is also frightening, but bear in mind that this sector of the population tends to be older, Evangelical, Republican, disproportionately rural, male, and white.

    This category of the public will not last long, as a simplae matter of demographics; further, this sector is shrinking politically. One of the reasons the support for Trump appears to be rising among his base of Republicans is precisely because the number of people who call themselves such is steadily diminishing. This leaves the harder-core supporters representing a larger percentage of Republicans without an increase in their actual numbers. The same holds true for Evangelicals, whom I hesitate to refer to as Christians.

    The sector of the population likely to express opposition to the emergent morality listed in your post also appears at this point to be about a third of the populace. Crucially, however, it is younger and growing. It is increasingly non-white, it includes a wider variety of religious and non-religious views, it has little faith in the so-called “free market” , it is more urban and suburban, and it strongly values economic and social fairness.

    Whatever the attitudes this sector of the population brings to the table, one important point is unavoidable: these people will be around for a long time. Republicans have known this for decades and have been working to take over state and local governments, to undermine labor, to defund the public sector, to rig elections, to pack the courts, and even to pursue amending the Constitution to maintain the power of wealth and whiteness in this country. To a remarkable degree, they have succeeded.

    The ultimate measure of the success conservatives have enjoyed in the past forty years will depend largely upon whether this emerging third of the population does, indeed, develop and act upon a conscious ressentiment of its own. An inflection point where this country could go one way or the other appears close at hand.

    Hope springs infernal.😎

    Regards,

    Jerry Stark

    • Well said, again. I expect the portion of the culture that reflects the ethos summarized in the ten points you listed is most vociferous at this time. This does not mean it is the dominant ethos of this culture (Jill will want to think about that. There is hope!). But however we shade it, there is a revolution going on in this country — but it may be more hopeful than I have suggested (or you suggested in your original comment!) Many thanks, Jerry. Always worth thinking about!

      • Two additional points to temper our hopes: (1) The ethos reflected in the ten-point morality in the original post is directly reflected in governmental power and policy at both state and federal levels; (2) The sector of the populace that reflects and celebrates this ethos is comparatively homogenous ideologically and emotionally — they appear to be almost a constant factor in current discussions of politics.These are not small matters.

        (1a) If there is to emerge a moral and political ethics of both Amerikkka AND Trumpistan, then it must soon be reflected in more widespread control of government and policy than is currently in evidence. There are positive signs, indeed, but much is left to do nationwide.

        (2a) Though the social bases upon which a new positively transformative ethos might be built are broadly identifiable, they are far from unity. Beyond a general disgust with Trumpistan and its occupants. Ideological unity is not characteristic of this sector of the populace. There are many agendas at work here and there appears no real likelihood of a level of solidarity thus far exhibited by those whom Secretary Clinton very accurately called “a bag of deplorables”.
        Indeed, the prospects for true consensus on political issues among the more progressive elements of the population seem remote.

        This “progressive” sector of the citizenry reminds me of why it is difficult to get Unitarians to sing together from the same song text: They keep reading ahead to see if they agree with the lyrics. 😎 (Thanks to John McCutcheon for this observation.)

        While hope remains, real prospects are always in the balance. That takes a lot of tiresome and time-consuming political and intellectual work.

        Yet, the alternative…

        Regards to all.

      • I am working on a post that includes your clarification above. I will refer my readers to your further clarification! Mention that this is a work in progress!

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