Posts tagged politics

The New Yorker The New Yorker
image from The New Yorker
"It is the choice between thinking that whatever is happening in reality is, by definition, acceptable, and thinking that some actual events in our current reality are fundamentally incompatible with our concept of ourselves..."
I think this is an important concept that I'm trying to understand. I wish there was a term for this idea: If the problem was really bad someone would have stopped it already. My hunch is this line of thinking is pervasive.
Nice to see a tech company prioritizing something other than growth at all costs. Good for Salesforce for acting when our governments are failing us.
New Republic
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"'Electability' is a way to get voters to carry out a contrary agenda—not their own—while convincing them they’re being 'responsible.'"
I think this article is getting at a central problem with Democratic thinking right now. I agree that it’s impossible to know other people’s minds and trying to read minds (or public opinion) hurts my own ability to reason.
Vox Vox
image from Vox
I’m on board with this plan. Take a look if you haven’t seen it yet. I’m even more on board with the widespread online mocking of this type of reaction to it: Elizabeth Warren's plan to cancel student loan debt would be a slap in the face to all those who struggled to pay off their loans. My favorite response from @petridishes: "this plan to stop slapping people in the face is a slap in the face to all those who were slapped in the face."
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I agree with this. Repeating a frame or an idea—even to mock it—distributes and strengthens that idea. I love Colbert but I stopped watching a long time ago. Laughing wasn't enough to make up for the disturbing source material. It reminds me again that the old Internet cliché don't feed the trolls is something the media hasn't adopted yet. See also the great way Jay Smooth put it: Don't Link to the Line Steppers.
Medium Medium
image from Medium
Dave Pell asks us to vote against hate. Bonus link: Vote for Democrats Everywhere by Brent Simmons. Bonus link 2: Your vote determines the future of others by Sarah Kendzior. Bonus link 3: Why I, a young person, probably won’t vote by Alexandra Petri. Bonus link 4: Nancy. Voters get ice cream. Medium
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Here's another great article by linguist George Lakoff about our current media environment. It's frustrating to see the same dynamics play out over and over again. It's like seeing legacy code in action while lives depend on refactoring. Two other folks I tune into for analysis of the media are Ezra Klein and Jay Rosen and they recently had a conversation about what's happening now. Also also, don't miss Klein's article about Enemy of the People. And after you digest all of that important garbage, a reminder from Warren Ellis: You can tune your Internet connection until it is useful and fun.

Saturday Links

Bleak edition.
Puerto Rico
Web Design
And after all that you'll probably need to recoup with some Ronnie James Dio singing as a psychedelic frog:

I'm a fan of Douglas Rushkoff and Team Human, but this episode makes me angry. And I can't completely reject it.

Anti-Authoritarian Immune System


You know, we have a strong history of opposing authoritarianism. I'd like to believe that opposition is like an immune system response that kicks in.

In 1995 Umberto Eco tried to put together a description of Fascism that basically has a listicle in the middle. It might as well be called You Won't Believe these 14 Elements of Fascism. He called it, Ur-Fascism. It's hard to click and read a dry article about political theory from an Italian semiotician, so here are the highlights of Eco's Ur-Fascism:
  1. cult of tradition
  2. rejection of modernism
  3. action for action's sake
  4. disagreement is treason
  5. fear of difference
  6. appeal to a frustrated middle class
  7. obsession with a plot
  8. enemies are portrayed as both too strong and too weak
  9. pacifism is trafficking with the enemy
  10. contempt for the weak
  11. everybody is educated to become a hero
  12. machismo via weapons
  13. selective populism
  14. use of an impoverished vocabulary
When you see these elements all working together, you can put a name to it and make decisions from there. It's not just Eco who has worked to help us recognize this pattern. One of the reasons everyone reads 1984 in school is because it's something we need to be prepared to work against. One of the reasons we all sang This Land is Your Land is because we need it to help keep us on track.

In 2004 I collected some of my favorite books about the media: Guerilla Media Literacy List. I still think that's a great list and I plan to revisit some of those books now. (I might add Aristotle's Poetics to that list if I wrote it today.) I think we have a lot of art and literature we can turn to that helps us prepare for living with a more authoritarian system. We still have to do the work. But we can start to get our immune system prepared.
George F. Will: Donald Trump is the GOP's chemotherapy. The last paragraph here burns so brightly with rage that it transcends rant and becomes oddly beautiful.

Election Profit Makers

Someday this election's going to end...

And when it does, the Election Profit Makers podcast will end. But today is not that day. When life hands you election absurdity, one response is to transform it into better absurdity. That's EPM: better absurdity. If you're not already gathering intel and riding those waves, it's time to invest while you still can.
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