I plan to keep this up with short essays on time-topical issues. I have pages of larger, grander essays on various subjects, but here, on this page, I'd like to present more-frequent snips on whatever is currently bugging people politically, or at least what's bugging me at the time. Let's see how well I do.
Politics was sound bites long before Internet social media made politics into sound bytes. I think I remember the commercial for Lyndon Johnson's campaign In 1964 showing a little girl picking dandilions while a scary male voice counted down to nuclear war, or something like that. It presented the Republics as being war-mongers over the peace-loving Democrats. Somebody spent a lot of time, money, equipment, and expertise to prepare such a vivid and emotional appeal. That equipment and expertise was available only to a limited community in 1964.
The ease and availability of Facebook memes, puts that kind of misdirection in the hands of a larger community. Pictures of a lonely little girl or an aborted fetus evoke powerful emotions that often have little to do with what is true or real. Words are used, abused, and mis-used with reckless abandon as the abusers and mis-users face no personal consequence for their abusing and mis-using misdeeds. When I've confronted some of these on their deliberate deception, They reminded that they are entitled to their own opinions about facts and meanings of words, but they're wrong. We're all entitled to our opinions of what should be, but not our own facts and not our own meanings of words.
That's why my first essay is about the meanings of words, particularly two words that have precise meanings intended to communicate precise information about precise policy that are being banded as emotional fodder instead.
2019 July 23 — Meanings of words.
I've noticed several social-medium web pages defending "socialism" because it's low rent for poor people, justice for the downtrodden, living wages for the underpaid, and just about anything nice. Maybe socialism also is cuddling cute puppies.
The same pages paint "fascism" as evil. It's dictatorship, tyranny, evil, and rottenness. One of these postings came from a medical doctor (MD). Would he be so comfortable if a hospital catalogued everybody with abdominal pain as having "colorectal cancer"?
Let's look at the meanings of three social-political-economic terms:
In the 1880s Karl Marx developed a theory of social-political-economic evolution called "communism" (with a small C). Marx's communism tripod stood on three legs, or maybe the removal of three legs, like John Lennon's song "Imagine," end of religion ("opiate of the masses"), end of national boundaries, and end of private property. (The Israeli kibbutzim are touted as a success of "small-C" communism, voluntary societies with communal distribution of their internal wealth. They're quite different from the "big-C Communist countries like Russia, China, and Cuba.)
Starting in 1917 in Russia there has been a wave of politically Communist conversions of countries. Remaining countries calling themselves Communist are China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba. How faithful to Karl Marx these countries are is a subject for debate and discussion, but these countries clearly don't look like our United States of America, or even like the sort-of democracies of western Europe.
Back off several steps from any form of communism and we get to a system where people can own their own stuff but all the mechanisms of production are owned and run by a central government. This is called "socialism," or at least that's what I was taught. It's not anything nice or anything nasty, socialism is a country having government own all the factories.
When the same mechanisms of production are owned by private individuals but are still run by the central state, then we call the system "fascism." I went to high school and learned this stuff without all the emotionalism.
So posting socialism-is-love pages and all-evil-is-fascism pages betrays a terrible lack of education. You have every right to put it on Facebook, but it suggests ignorance. More importantly, such misrepresentation of verbiage makes discourse divisive. If I want to point out that actual socialism is bad, then it invokes pictures of poor people being punished. If somebody wants to point out positive aspects of fascism, then it invokes pictures of dictators violating human rights. There's plenty of good and bad to be had in socialism and fascism, but coloring those with this sort of emotionalism makes it impossible to discuss these issues.
That may have been the point all along.
2019 July 30 — Brexit.
There was a flurry of fuss about England leaving the European Union (EU). The media hype name was "Brexit." What happened, so far as I can tell, is that England had an election referendum proposal to separate from the EU and it passed with a 52% majority.
Okay, I'm an American. While I'm entitled to an opinion on just about anything, I realize that other countries's politics have all kinds of shades of gray that get lost in translation, never mind media misreprentation. So what's the story behind the story?
Well, I happened, recently, to be on a tour of South America, a British tour actually, and my poitically like-minded friends D&D were there, so I asked their opinion about Brexit. I expected a strong opinion one way or the other. Maybe England should join up and be part of the team, maybe even embrace the Euro. Maybe England should reject the fascism and hate of the European Union and embrace its own principles, although fascism and hate are hardly foreign to England these days. What's the answer?
The answer I got was more profound than either of those responses. D&D said trusting the voters with that question is just plain wrong. We elect people to Parliament whom, we suppose, have the time and knowhow and intelligence to make good decisions. Even if they're lacking in knowhow and intelligence, at least they're spending their time in the halls of government thinking about and discussing these issues. The relationships between England and continental Europe are complicated the issues can be divisive, and the decision are difficult. So what did these carefully selected and deeply entrusted members of Parliament do? They threw the issue into a referendum and tossed it into a sea of emotional voters. Fifty-two percent vote one way and we stay or fifty-two percent vote the other way and we go. That's it.
So rather than give me a direct opinion, D&D said they didn't themselves understand all the issues that insiders in government would be familiar with and they wanted their representatives in London to do their jobs and to make an informed decision. I admire my friends D&D not only for being politically astute, but for knowing when to let the mechanisms and mechanics of government do their jobs.
In similarly democratic fashion, I remember a bunch of ecology types trying to save wolves in Michigan from being hunted, they got a 52% majority on a referendum to ban hunting wolves, and they felt comfortable in their victory. Democracy was done and they didn't worry that somebody might later win a few percent of those votes for a referendum the other way. I feel they were naïve in many ways, like those comfortable in the 52% vote for Brexit.
Imagine something as hateful and vitriolic and negative as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel being decided by a majority vote! Representing naked anti-semitic hate as "Freedom Justice Equality" is scary enough, but, here in the United States, we have a republic with rules of engagement specifically to prevent this sort of emotionism to turn into the genocide that has happened before.
I find one of the differences between my conservative community and the progressive, liberal movements is their comfort in ceding to the will of the people, even and especially when that will is all about hate.
Today is 2019 August 17, Saturday,
14:43:55 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
21 visits to this web page.
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