Six reasons for Trump’s rise that no-one talks about by David Wong for Cracked.com.
Archive for the ‘Society’ Category
This is part of a chapter-by-chapter review of THE ECOLOGY OF FREEDOM: The emergence and dissolution of hierarchy by Murray Bookchin (1982, 1991, 2005). Doing this has been harder and taken longer than I expected. The effort is worthwhile for me, but I fear I am not doing justice to the breadth and depth of Bookchin’s thought. I hope videos and links will partly make up for this lack.
chapter twelve – an ecological society
In previous chapters, Murray Bookchin explained his ideas about humanity’s original organic societies, which were family-based clans in which everyone was valued, everyone contributed what they could and there supposedly was neither coercion nor selfish individualism.
He went on to explain his ideas of how hierarchy arose through priesthoods and warrior bands, and the permutations of hierarchy through human history, and how universal religious and philosophical ideals arose as both a product of hierarchy and a reaction against it.
In this, his final chapter, he outlined his hopes for a future society which embodies the best ideals and practices of the original organic society and the newer universal ideals.
He didn’t provide a detailed outline of an ideal anarchist society not a strategy for bringing such a society into being.
Rather he provided a way of thinking that leads me to question my assumptions about what the world has to be like and to realize that things have to be the way they are now.
A good society rejects the idea that humanity and nature are antagonistic, Bookchin wrote. Although the idea that humanity is nature made conscious is only a figure of speech, it is the case that individual human nature is rooted in biological nature and human society is rooted in ecological nature.
Down through history, underneath the layers of domination, there have been “layered membranes” of freedom and community, he wrote. We need a modern vision of freedom that is intentional and not based on tradition and custom, although it will be hard to improve on the virtues of pre-literate societies.
Civilization historically has rested on scarcity, so that the freedom of the elite rested on the labor of the many. From scarcity arose the notion of contract, so that people could protect themselves from being cheater of their fair share.
Pre-literate societies rejected the idea of contract as the basis of society, Bookchin wrote. When you live in fear of being short-changed, you short-change others.
He said we should cease to identify freedom with domination. We should admire Michelangelo, not Gilgamesh, Achilles, Joshua and Julius Caesar.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a writer and thinker whom I greatly respect, wrote an interesting theoretical explanation of how it is that an intransigent minority can impose its will on an apathetic minority.
He argued that the only way for the majority to protect itself is to refuse to tolerate the intolerant.
I have thought about this issue most of my life. I came of age in the 1950s, when liberals as well as conservatives said we should outlaw the American Communist Party inasmuch as the Communists themselves rejected freedom of speech and other democratic norms.
One problem with this is: Who decides what intolerant minority should not be tolerated? Aren’t the deciders likely to be an equal and opposite intolerant minority.
How do you identify the intolerant? Do you assume an individual is intolerant because of that person’s political affiliation or religious heritage?
If you outlaw the intolerant, they do not necessarily disappear. How do you identify the hidden intolerant? Doesn’t it then become necessary to become intolerant of those who are tolerant of the intolerant?
Then, too, effective intolerance of the intolerant is possible only when the allegedly intolerant are a powerless minority. When the intolerant are powerful enough to actually threaten freedom, they cannot be suppressed.
But I don’t deny that it’s possible for an intolerant minority to impose its will on the majority. It’s complicated. I thank Peteybee of Spread an Idea for linking to Taleb’s articles.
During the past week or so, I’ve been reading about the disastrous floods in south Louisiana, which, according to recent estimates, have left tens of thousands of families homeless and destitute.
Middle-class people, living in places that have never been flooded before, have lose everything and depend for food and shelter on the charity of strangers.
But it is a story not only of disaster, but of hope. Rod Dreher, a writer for the American Conservative, who lives in that region, tells on his blog how everyone in the community—white, black and Asian, middle-class and poor, Republican and Democrat—have come together to help in the face of the disaster.
Almost everybody in that part of the world owns a boat, and a so-called “Cajun Navy” has rescued many stranded elderly and sick people who otherwise would have lost their lives as well as their property.
The local churches, of many denominations, have been the main organizers of rescue and relief—which is not to say that unbelievers haven’t helped out or that the federal and state governments haven’t done their jobs.
Many people, including Dreher and his wife, have taken strangers into their homes. Also—
My daughter spent the day at Amite Baptist church preparing meals for people who have no home, while volunteer crews tore out the water-logged carpet and pews.
My boys were part of a crew from their school who have been going out to muck houses of school families who were flooded out. They had to boat in to this one elderly woman’s house (her grandchild goes to the boys’ school) to take out drywall, pull up carpet and floorboards, and suchlike — this, in 91 degree heat, in humidity over 90 percent. While they were there, the elderly lady collapsed with a heat stroke inside the house. My older son called 911, and the crew boated across the water to pick up the paramedics and take them to the house while the others used ice from their coolers to try to keep her alive. They boated her and the paramedics back across the water to the ambulance. The lady made it, thank God, but it was a very close call.
All the boys working on the mucking crew who saved her life learned a valuable lesson today. My boys came home in clothes stinking of sewage water, with aching muscles and stories to tell.
Mucking is a dirty job that is necessary to salvage a flooded structure. It involves getting rid of the filth and mud left by the flood, and everything that is porous, which includes most possessions, and then cleaning up what remains. Otherwise the building will be destroyed by mildew
And here’s something from the Facebook page of one of Dreher’s friends.
A blogger named Fred Reed sees parallels between the United States today and France on the eve of the French Revolution.
I know three young women of exceptional intelligence and talent, all of them mature and disciplined. They cannot find jobs. It is not from lack of trying, far from it. One of them is married to a hard-working man in a highly technical field usually associated with wealth. He is paid a low hourly wage and forced to work on contract, meaning that he has neither benefits nor retirement. His employers know that if he leaves, they can easily find another to take his place. They have him where they want him.
[snip] In numbers that a half century ago would have seemed impossible, the American young live with their parents, being unable to find jobs to support themselves. Waitressing in a good bar pays better in tips than a woman with a college degree can otherwise earn, assuming that she can earn anything at all. Employers having learned to hire them as individual contractors, they move into their thirties with no hope of a pension for their old age.
Desperation and hatred are close cousins.
Meanwhile, Jeffrey Bezos of Amazon makes spaceships and buys the Washington Post as a toy and the newspapers have reported that a Croesus of Wall Street has bought a Modigliani, it may have been, for $55 million dollars.
[snip]. The homeless in San Francisco are now described as “a plague.” There seem to be ever more of them. But not to worry. Never worry. The stock market remains exuberant. In nearby Silicon Valley, a man buys a new Lamborghini every year.
When I look at the lists of women heads of state and women heads of government since World War Two, I see more warrior queens—Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi—than I do motherly social reformers.
The problem with women leaders in a male-dominated society is that, in order to be respected by men, they often repress the so-called feminine weaknesses of compassion and empathy and emphasize the so-called masculine virtues of combativeness and unsentimental moral pragmatism.
I don’t know whether Hillary Clinton became a war hawk in order to earn the respect of powerful men, or whether she had the respect of powerful men because she already was a war hawk, but I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t be a respected part of the political establishment if she were an advocate for peace. The problem is that a war hawk is not what is needed now.
The possibility of electing the first woman President of the United States is a big deal for many of us Americans. But the rest of the world may well ask: What took you so long?
Even in the days when women were not eligible to enter the professions or earn university degrees, they still could be queens and empresses.
Rulers such as Queen Elizabeth I of England and Catherine the Great of Russia showed that women could play power politics with the best of them.
Since women in the 20th century received the right to vote and run for office, they’ve had the opportunity to become heads of government on their own merits and not as family dynasties. Here are some examples.
1969 – Golda Meir (Israeli Labor Party) became Prime Minister of Israel.
1979 – Margaret Thatcher (Conservative) became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
1990 – Jenny Shipley (National Party) became Prime Minister of New Zealand.
1991 – Edith Cresson (Socialist) became Prime Minister of France.
1993 – Kim Campbell (Progressive Conservative) became Prime Minister of Canada.
1993 – Tansu Çiller (True Path Party) became Prime Minister of Turkey. [added later] (Hat tip to S. Glover)
2005 – Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union) became Chancellor of Germany.
2010 – Julia Gillard (Australian Labor Party) became Prime Minister of Australia.
2011 – Dilma Rousseff (Brazilian Labor Party) became President of Brazil
Here are some examples of women who achieved power as members of family dynasties.
1966 – Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, became Prime Minister of India.
1974 – Isabel Peron, widow of Juan Peron, became President of Argentina.
1986 – Corazon Aquino, widow of Benigno Aquino Jr., became President of the Philippines.
1988 – Benazir Bhutto, daughter of Zulifikar Ali Bhutto, became Prime Minister of Pakistan.
2001 – Magawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Sukarno, became President of Indonesia. [added later]
It is an interesting question as to whether Hillary Clinton, if elected, belongs on the first list or the second. She is a successful and effective politician, but would she have been elected Senator from New York or been appointed Secretary of State if she had been Hillary Rodham rather than Hillary Rodham Clinton?
Currently Bangladesh, Brazil, Chile, Croatia, Germany, Liberia, Lithuania, Malta, the Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Namibia, Nepal, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom all have women as heads of state, heads of government or both. Also Burma (sort of).
Hat tip to Jim Rose.
I’ve always thought of the United States as a nation particularly welcoming to immigrants, but the chart shows many other nations have proportionately larger immigrant populations than the USA.
I’m less surprised at the high ranking of Australia, New Zealand and Canada as at nations such as Switzerland, Austria, Sweden and Ireland, which I’ve always thought of as ethnically and culturally homogeneous.
I’d be interested in the figures for Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
[Update 2016/5/19. I came across an interesting interactive graphic, Origins and Destinations of the World’s Migrants, 1990-2015, from Pew Research Center that answers my question. Also, I forgot about peoplemovin- A visualization of migrant flows, an interactive graphic to which I linked previously.]
David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America is a ground-breaking 946-page book I never got around to reading, and probably won’t. But I think I got the gist of it by reading a review by Scott Alexander on his Slate Star Codex blog.
Fischer’s argument is that basic patterns of American culture were set by migrations of four very different groups of migrants from the British Isles:
- Puritans to New England in the 1620s.
- Cavaliers to Virginia in the 1640s.
- Quakers to Pennsylvania in the 1670s.
- Borderers (aka Scots-Irish) to the Appalachians in the 1700s.
Those who came after, he said, had to adapt to social systems established by these four groups—the moralistic Puritans, the aristocratic Cavaliers, the tolerant Quakers and the warlike Borderers—even though the biological descendants of these groups ceased to be in the majority.
It’s interesting and, I think, at least partly true. Alexander’s review is long for a blog post, but much shorter than the book, and even those uninterested in his basic theme will enjoy reading his lists of fun facts about each group.
Source: The New York Times.
The two maps above show the support for Donald Trump versus other Republican candidates in primaries so far. The next chart shows support for Trump based on public opinion polls.
Source: The New York Times.
None of this has any significance in deciding who to vote for, and little significance in predicting who will win. It just reflects my addiction to looking at data on maps.
Below are some more maps with information that might help explain these three maps. First, two maps showing American regional cultures, and then some more demographic information. I leave it to you to find the correlations (if any).
One of the most striking things about much culture in America is the simple meanness of it. The cruelty. Most of this seems to come down to three feelings.
- My life sucks. I have to work a terrible job I hate in order to survive. I have to bow and scrape and do shit I don’t want to do. You should have to as well.
- Anyone who doesn’t make it must not be willing to suffer as I do, therefore anyone who doesn’t make it deserves to be homeless, go without food and so on.
- Anybody who is against us needs to be hurt and humiliated, because that’s how I see my superiors deal with people who go against them. [snip]
This appears to be a result of something simple: at every stage of American life, it’s a zero or negative sum game, and who gets ahead is decided by authority figures.
Source: Ian Welsh
Not 100 percent true, I know of many exceptions, but becoming more and more true. Welsh’s whole post is well worth reading.
A recent public opinion poll found that a majority are willing to consider a “political revolution” to redistribute income from the richest Americans to the middle class.
This includes a majority of Tea Party supporters, of independents and of people who didn’t vote in 2012.
The poll found majorities in favor of raising taxes on the wealthy, raising taxes on corporations, single-payer health care and free college tuition.
But it also found that a majority of Americans think big government is a more serious problem than big business. Majorities of whites, of blacks and of Hispanics agree on this.
The kinds of Democrats who go to college, get an entrepreneurial career or move to a big city — those who embrace a relatively unpredictable life — want an entirely different role for the federal government: they want the state to invest in modernization, with more high-skilled immigration, expansive free trade agreements, and performance-based charter schools.
Source: The Ferenstein Wire.
Startup founders and college-educated liberals fundamentally reject an atomistic conception of Society: government should be involved in personal decisions, such as finishing school or eating healthy, because they believe that personal decisions ripple out and significantly affect most people in Society.
Source: The Ferenstein Wire
Economically, the technology industry exacerbates inequality between the rich and middle-class, but eradicates poverty by making essential goods freely accessible. Ultimately, this will trend toward a two-class society of extremely wealthy workaholics who create technologies that allow the rest of society to enjoy leisurely prosperity. The cost for this prosperity will be inequality of influence
Source: The Ferenstein Wire.
A San Francisco journalist named Gary Ferenstein says the Democratic Party is no longer the party of factory workers and organized labor. It is the party of college-educated professionals and high-tech companies, he says, and this is a good thing.
He has published a manifesto on behalf of the Silicon Valley Democrats—which include Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton—and against “protectocrats” such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
While not all Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and professionals think alike, any more than labor union members, white people or any other large category of people do, I think that Ferenstein does speak for many people from that background, and that his ideas are worth discussing.
His basic idea is that the government should give free rein to creative entrepreneurs, while trying to change individual behavior so as to make people more productive. The high-tech start-up corporation is his model for all the institutions of society.
Unlike the typical neo-liberal, he does not advocate allowing people to fend for themselves. Government should assure everyone an adequate education, adequate medical care and everything else they need to be economically productive.
He believes that the key to better education and better public health services is internal competition. He therefore favors Obamacare over a universal single-payer system, and charter schools over universal public education.
This is a form of radicalism that has appeared time and again in modern history—a radicalism that would revolutionize the way people live, yet leave the structure of political and economic power unchanged.
Ferenstein asserts that change is always good, there are no fundamental conflicts in society and education is the solution to all problems. Nobody struggling to survive in today’s harsh economy would believe any such thing, but I’m sure that there is a constituency that does.
He deserves credit for making that constituency’s assumptions explicit, and showing how they influence the Democratic Party leadership.
What follows is more of Ferenstein’s Silicon Valley manifesto, my comments and links to the full text of his writings.
Two researchers at Princeton University published a study last November indicating that the death rate for middle-aged white Americans was on the increase.
Statistical blogger Andrew Gelman analyzed the figures and concluded that the increase is concentrated among white women in the South.
One thing he did was to adjust the figures according to age. Not everybody in an age group, such as 55 to 64, is the same age, and changes in age distribution can skew the figures over time.
The top chart shows the results of Gelman’s adjustment and analysis.
The Princeton study said the main causes for the increased death rate were drug-related (overdoses), alcohol related (liver disease) and suicide—all indicators of despair. An earlier study said higher mortality among white women was correlated with lack of education and heavy smoking.
Why would this affect Southerners, whites or women more than other Americans? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure, however, that southern white women, like other Americans, would be healthier and happier in a high-wage, full-employment economy.
Hat tip to The Vineyard of the Saker.
An attractive woman walked the streets of New York City for five hours attired in a T-shirt, tight jeans and a cardigan. She was the target of constant unwanted remarks and propositions.
The same woman walked the streets of New York City for five hours in a hijab, traditional Muslim dress. She was ignored or treated with respect.
Modesty in dress is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Hispanics in the United States are nearly as poor, on average, as African Americans. Yet they live longer, on average, than non-Hispanic whites. What’s their secret?
Jasmine Aquilera, writing for Yes! magazine, says it is a combination of close community and family bonds, a healthier diet and la cuarentena, a Latin American tradition in which a new mother rests for the first 40 days after giving birth, not lifting a finger except to breastfeed and bond with her child.
A life in which community and family take priority would certainly be less stressful than a life in which priority is given to climbing the ladder of success—particularly in an economy in which so many people are moving down the ladder rather than up.
The traditional Mexican diet, based on corn, beans and rice, is indeed a healthy one. It should not be confused with the Tex-Mex diet, with its big gobs of ground meat and melted cheese. I think that the Tex-Mex diet may be a big reason Hispanics suffer disproportionately from obesity and diabetes.
I was especially interested in Aquilera’s report on the custom of cuartena. It reflects a culture that is profoundly pro-life in a way that goes beyond mere opposition to abortion and contraception.
I’ve read international surveys of happiness, which in general is proportional to the level of material well-being in various countries. The exceptions are the former Communist countries of eastern Europe, where people are less happy than the statistics would indicate, and the Latin American countries, where people are more happy than the statistics would indicate.
I think Latin Americans have something to teach us Anglo Americans about how to live.
Latinos Live Longest Despite Poverty. Here’s Their Secret by Jasmine Aquilera for Yes!