by geezer in Paris
Fri Dec 29th, 2006 at 01:32:41 PM EST
George Soros is right- there is a political process driven by the principles of consumerism that devours thought and endangers any rational public discourse. But it is more than that, I think. There is much recent evidence that we come into the world with a lot of preprogrammed responses and behavior- far more than hitherto though.
For almost a century now, it has been unfashionable to suggest that human beings are born with a lot of preprogrammed behavior and behavioral tendencies. "Like father, like son" is seen as cruel and false.
The "Blank slate" theory of human development is currently fashionable. Without much evidence, I think.
When I must explain to my kids some inexplicable, often painful event in their social lives I tell them that human beings- each one- is like a crystal with many facets, through which the human heart and mind can be seen-- a different view through each facet. I do not yet mention that these facets can be doors as well as windows, through which the personality can be "managed".
Why is it so hard to quit smoking? I think I know. It's because fire has been our essential friend and servant for at least a half million years, and a whiff of smoke and the sight of a glowing ember stirs up a deep, atavistic feeling of security and satisfaction in most of us. So also does the possession of "Stuff" stir something very deep in the human psyche. Even if the stuff is crap. My first wife Joyce could never resist a garage sale- she understood well that part of herself, and laughingly called it "the crow in me", while doing serious battle with it.
The marketing gurus who are most successful sell by tapping into these deep patterns, but since the whole concept of inherited behavior is suspect these days, let alone inherited knowledge, they construct a quasi-logical conceptual framework to explain why their stuff works, without getting into the heresy.
The battle with racism is endless and universal because that facet of human psyche which reveals a human willingness to crudely typecast the "us" and the "them", and then label according to our ancestry is universal and powerful, and is therefore terribly tempting as a handle to use to manipulate us.
An awful lot of us DID love Ronnie, and Dubya. Even some of those who would croak before admitting it. Our reasons remain unexamined, since we cannot admit the attraction.
The German people were deeply anti-semitic at the end of the Weimar Republic- they were living in a hell of a collapsing economy and the sour taste of defeat, and needed a scapegoat, someone to blame. But find one today who will admit- or perhaps remember- that secret satisfaction that came when the evil Christ-killers were drug off to--- somewhere they didn't want to think of.
A well-attended event in French history was the guillotine.
"For a time, executions by guillotine were a popular entertainment that attracted great crowds of spectators. Vendors would sell programs listing the names of those scheduled to die. Regulars would come day after day and vie for the best seats. Parents would bring their children. By the end of the Terror the crowds had thinned drastically. Excessive repetition had staled even this most grisly of entertainments, and audiences grew bored." ----Wikipedia.
GWB is a product that is being marketed to us in the US by his handlers because he appeals to, I think, several of the darker facets of the human character, -particularly to some of us who believe ourselves to be beyond such things. In public, we deny the attraction, but it is effective on a deeper level. If not, --why do we tolerate torture IN OUR NAME for even one day? We could change it practically overnight, you know. What would be the future of Guantanimo, if a million people showed up one well-publicized day in Washington, all wearing a blood-red article of clothing, --or carrying a length of electrical cord, or a waterboard"-like object? Too busy, are you?
To know that we are "being sold a bill of goods" offers little if any protection from the pitch. The only protection is what Neil Postman called a "built-in crap detector" in his 60's book, "Teaching As a Subversive Activity", and the creation of this crap detector is the real function of education. We no longer do this kind of teaching. Quite the contrary. We teach regurgitation, get-along acceptance, sycophancy, and the value of greed.
I believe that GWB is, for some, an instrument to act in ways that they would not dare to act themselves. A surrogate to take bloody vengeance.
To some, I think he is the father figure, the patriarch who will relieve them of the obligation to think for themselves.
To others, he is an instrument of religious fulfillment, whether their religion is Christian Fundamentalism or Neoconservative doctrine, or Neoliberal Marketworship. Bizarrely, he has become an instrument of doctrinal support- the face that proves the case- for the Jihadist Muslim. For who in the world more perfectly represents their stereotypic American imperialist, than GWB--and us, by association? He is America's symbol, the US's archetype.
Ronnie was also such a powerful public product, and we bought the package. We need to have the courage to admit that we are the ones who sat on our ass while our cute little pop-up land mines, designed at Ft. Huachuka, Arizona, cut the legs off their children. We need to know why we bought. It aint the elites here, ducky, who sat on their asses. It's us. The info was all there, on C-span, where I learned it. You didn't know? Could it be that you didn't want to know?
Another thing I tell my kids, and that I live by, is, "Hope that it's your fault. Because if it's THEIR fault, it's really hard to change. But if it's YOUR fault,--why, YOU are in charge of that problem." The bogie man is ephemeral, smoke, conveniently immune to occam's razor. But if it is us,--then we can deal with it.
We will never be safe from "products" like bush and Reagan until we can show people what the real cost of these delusional products are- the real costs that come with that comfortable "package".
We will never be able to spot these pied pipers until we reconstruct our educational system into a place where young people learn again to persistently and skillfully question all things, including their own motives and beliefs.
The rest is word games.