The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance. John Philpot Curran
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
A Heightened Sense of Vulnerability
The gap between the happy-story fantasies of easy fixes to institutionalized corruption and systemic stagnation and the fraying-rope reality is widening, straining the bonds holding the whole contraption together to the breaking point
Am I the only one sensing an increase in systemic vulnerability? I'm not talking about TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) so much as a sense of things fraying beneath the surface of normalcy.
I for one have never seen the outpouring of negative emotional energy from partisan political disagreements. It has become more a matter of quasi-religious faith than a matter of fact as to whether the Russians "hacked" the U.S. election and the Democratic National Committee. The "facts" are highly dependent on one's faith in this quasi-religious conflict; if you're anti-Trump, the now-discredited report by a private firm reporting to the FBI (red flag #1--doesn't the FBI have its own digital forensics assets? Why hire a flaky contractor to do this critically important national security work?) is the gospel truth.
If you're in the other camp, Julian Assange's declaration that the DNC material was offered to him by an insider is the obvious gospel truth.
There doesn't seem to be any neutral ground left in this quasi-religious divide, and that in itself creates a heightened sense of vulnerability: if we've reached the point where verifiable facts no longer matter, and one's faith in a partisan narrative is the deciding factor in what each citizen declares as "true," we are vulnerable to a breakdown not just of consensus but discourse.
We have reached the state where you have to be as cautious in revealing your political views or doubts as any Catholic or Protestant revealing their faith and doubts in the Reformation wars, in which faith alone decided life or death if you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
That the issues dividing the nation into these faith-based camps are fundamentally unimportant no longer matters. Is it really consequential to the nation who sent the DNC emails to the media via Wikileaks? The answer is no: the DNC is not a governmental agency, it is a private-sector political organization.
Does it really matter if Russia attempted to influence the U.S. elections? There are a few ways this could be consequential, but they are speculative and lacking factual evidence.
One is a very unsavory hypocrisy. Has the U.S. government ever attempted to influence elections in other nations? Please don't even try to claim the answer is "no." There is simply too much documentation to claim the U.S. has a saintly policy of never attempting to influence the domestic views (and thus the election results) in other nations.
Since the U.S. constantly seeks to influence public opinion and elections in other nations, how falsely do our protests ring to international ears? How many observers in other nations are reckoning the U.S. is deservedly reaping a tiny shred of its own karma?
The other consequential possibility is if Russian government (or government sanctioned) hackers actually modified election results in voting machines or official tallies. To date, there is no evidence whatever of such direct tampering.
This quasi-religious conflict has blown unsupported speculations about Russian influence into the critical deciding factor of whether you are a member of the hated "other side" or not. Simply casting doubt on the criticality of this issue slips a noose around your neck in the so-called "Progressive" religion.
Does anybody else feel that the financial ropes holding the whole contraption together are fraying? When I post data-based charts illustrating the impossibility of paying all the promises that have been made to hundreds of millions of Americans without borrowing destabilizingly vast sums of money from future generations, some readers dismiss it as "doom and gloom." In other words, where's your American optimism that all challenges can be met and all problems solved, without any adjustment or sacrifice in our lifestyles or socio-economic systems?
Remember switch grass? This miracle weed was touted as the "solution" to the low energy yield on bio-fuel replacements for fossil fuels. We don't hear about it any more because it was a chimera, a PR "solution" as opposed to a real-world solution.
We have already reached the state of joyously embracing delusional PR "solutions" rather than grasping the nettle of addressing our systemic problems. Technological advances will not only solve every problem, we're assured, these advances will generate unprecedented wealth and prosperity.
Well, maybe so. That would certainly be convenient for us all. But I am not so sure technology will dislodge the systemic corruption of our economy and machinery of governance, the cartel-state status quo that smothers any advances that threaten its profits and/or power.
If there is a cheap and easy techno-fix to wealth and income disparity and declining productivity (i.e. declining profitability of labor and capital invested), then I'm all ears.
But it seems to me that the gap between the happy-story fantasies of easy fixes to institutionalized corruption and systemic stagnation and the fraying-rope reality is widening, straining the bonds holding the whole contraption together to the breaking point.