The Diagnosis Seems Accurate–What About the Prescription?

Over the last year or so, the Guardian has assumed a place alongside the New York Times and the Washington Post as essential reading. In addition to excellent reporting, the publication carries thought-provoking columns--one of which prompts this post.

George Monbiot, the author, reminds us that what we are dealing with in the U.S. is part of a very troubling worldwide phenomenon.

You can blame Jeremy Corbyn for Boris Johnson, and Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump. You can blame the Indian challengers for Narendra Modi, the Brazilian opposition for Jair Bolsonaro, and left and centre parties in Australia, the Philippines, Hungary, Poland and Turkey for similar electoral disasters. Or you could recognise that what we are witnessing is a global phenomenon….

In these nations, people you wouldn’t trust to post a letter for you have been elected to the highest office. There, as widely predicted, they behave like a gang of vandals given the keys to an art gallery, “improving” the great works in their care with spray cans, box cutters and lump hammers. In the midst of global emergencies, they rip down environmental protections and climate agreements, and trash the regulations that constrain capital and defend the poor. They wage war on the institutions that are supposed to restrain their powers while, in some cases, committing extravagant and deliberate outrages against the rule of law. They use impunity as a political weapon, revelling in their ability to survive daily scandals, any one of which would destroy a normal politician.

It’s hard to argue with any of this. Monbiot says we are in an era of “new politics,” one built on “sophisticated cheating and provocative lies,” and that we need to understand just  what it is that we are facing, and devise new strategies to resist it. No argument there. He points to Finland as a country that has resisted this trend. (I would note that Finland is widely recognized as a leader in public education…and I would wager a substantial sum that there’s a connection…)

In Finland, on the day of our general election, Boris Johnson’s antithesis became prime minister: the 34-year-old Sanna Marin, who is strong, humble and collaborative. Finland’s politics, emerging from its peculiar history, cannot be replicated here. But there is one crucial lesson. In 2014, the country started a programme to counter fake news, teaching people how to recognise and confront it. The result is that Finns have been ranked, in a recent study of 35 nations, the people most resistant to post-truth politics.

Monbiot suggests that “progressive parties” hold  Google, Facebook and Twitter to account, and form a “global coalition promoting digital literacy, and pressuring social media platforms to stop promoting falsehoods.”

It’s hard to fault that prescription. His next one is more dubious.

 At the moment, the political model for almost all parties is to drive change from the top down. They write a manifesto, that they hope to turn into government policy, which may then be subject to a narrow and feeble consultation, which then leads to legislation, which then leads to change. I believe the best antidote to demagoguery is the opposite process: radical trust. To the greatest extent possible, parties and governments should trust communities to identify their own needs and make their own decisions.

Monbiot compares his approach to ecological “rewilding.”

Rewilding – allowing dynamic, spontaneous organisation to reassert itself – can result in a sudden flourishing, often in completely unexpected ways, with a great improvement in resilience.

The same applies to politics. Mainstream politics, controlled by party machines, has sought to reduce the phenomenal complexity of human society into a simple, linear model that can be controlled from the centre. The political and economic systems it creates are simultaneously highly unstable and lacking in dynamism; susceptible to collapse, as many northern towns can testify, while unable to regenerate themselves. They become vulnerable to the toxic, invasive forces of ethno-nationalism and supremacism.

He cites examples: participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre in Brazil, the Decide Madrid system in Spain, and the Better Reykjavik program in Iceland, where, he says, local people have “reoccupied the political space that had been captured by party machines and top-down government.”

The results have been extraordinary: a massive re-engagement in politics, particularly among marginalised groups, and dramatic improvements in local life. Participatory politics does not require the blessing of central government, just a confident and far-sighted local authority.

Monbiot is calling for “radical devolution.”

Unfortunately, “devolution” is a lot more complicated than he seems to realize.( I’d hate to be black, gay or Muslim in a “radically devolved” Alabama, Kentucky or even Indiana–states with a noticeable deficit of “confident and far-sighted local authority.”)

It depends upon what you are “devolving”–and who to.

 

 

 

 

 

29 thoughts on “The Diagnosis Seems Accurate–What About the Prescription?

  1. I, too, have noticed that Trumpism is contagious what with the rise of mini-dictators around the world. Civic illiteracy is partly to blame, of course, but there are movements beyond that which deserve consideration. One, I think, is the enormous movement of refugees from war, dictatorship etc. which have brought millions of people across borders into a mix with resentful citizens and, unfortunately, I think this is going to intensify as we have a new and different kind of refugee, i.e., climate refugees. If I am right (and I hope I am not), we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

    It seems to me that these are the kinds of movements, political and environmental, that we could better spend our time preparing for than celebrating the Dow and the success of the economic system, both of which are at risk with wholesale refugee movements. It is not so far-fetched to see a connection between an effort to save the planet and blunting the refugee move largely from south to north, and I also see a connection between the refugee move and our foreign policy, which could be employed to work against foreign dictatorships and thus make for an environment that would make potential refugees stay home.

    And so it goes (per Vonnegut), there are many connections to be made between weather, race, power grabs, climate, dictatorships, acidic oceans etc., and the article from which Sheila has quoted is an excellent look at such admixtures and interconnections. We have a lot of work to do and for a lot of different reasons, and I would (for a lot of different reasons) place climate control at the top of the list.

  2. Devolution is contrary to the basic idea behind the US: the Constitution, which created an overarching set of principles that supersede local considerations and prejudices. Hamilton had the right idea, in the Federalist, about electing qualified people (of course, he meant only men) to office, who would make the right decisions. I’m not sure where we find those people today, and if they exist, whether they would want to take on the necessary jobs.

  3. From above: Unfortunately, “devolution” is a lot more complicated than he seems to realize.( I’d hate to be black, gay or Muslim in a “radically devolved” Alabama, Kentucky or even Indiana–states with a noticeable deficit of “confident and far-sighted local authority.”)

    This brings mind to something I recently read:
    =====================
    It is a well established Achilles heel of human civilization that individuals are more motivated by immediate private reward than by long-term, collective benefits. This effect is particularly evident when considering payoffs that will take longer than a generation to arrive – a phenomenon called inter-generational discounting. In short, we as a species are motivated to betray our own descendants. Our inability to focus on long-term threats will lead to the destruction of our environment, overpopulation, and resource exhaustion – a built in timer for our own destruction.
    =====================================
    What I read is the long version of, What is in it for Me.

    This What is in for Me, plays across the politics of voter suppression, and gerrymandering. You see this same theme when politicians accept massive amounts of campaign donations from the 1% or Oligarchs via various mechanisms such as Pacs, and Super-Pacs.

    Steroid Capitalism maybe the ultimate example of What is in it for Me. The future be damned, today is all that counts. At times we become aware of the nefarious results, of What is in it for Me, when products are revealed to be defective or in some cases poisonous or deadly. Instead of looking at a corrupt system, the one Bad Apple excuse is used.

  4. If the past three years have shown us anything, it is the power of people united in a common goal, willing to take action, and taking action. Here in southwest Florida, the action has come from people wanting to have clean water. Now we are building reservoirs that have only been talked about for fifteen years. We are actually spending money to study the toxic algal blooms to find the causes and the cures. On the national scene, we saw the defeat of the repeal of the ACA, but now we have a lot of work to do to fix the tattered remains of that program and generate a more cost effective health care system.

    I know the results aren’t perfect, but then again, we aren’t perfect either. We just need to keep going until we see progress. We also need to VOTE!

  5. This from ML:
    “Steroid Capitalism maybe the ultimate example of What is in it for Me. The future be damned, today is all that counts. At times we become aware of the nefarious results, of What is in it for Me, when products are revealed to be defective or in some cases poisonous or deadly. Instead of looking at a corrupt system, the one Bad Apple excuse is used.”

    This bit, plus Gerald’s opinion today, helps explain what Marx was driving at when he wrote “Das Kapital”. What we’re seeing, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, is not “devolution”, but rather an expression of who and what we’ve always been. Marx talked about the self-immolation of capitalism, and the self-serving, selfish, greedy moguls of economics around the world have (always) succumbed to the siren song at more profits at the expense of everybody and everything (our planet) else.

    Moreover, in Rebecca Costa’s stirring book, “The Watchman’s Rattle”, she points out – with plenty of examples – that humans have evolved much faster socially than biologically. Now, however, our lack of biological evolution is showing its backward-thinking head and merely pasting the facade of economics over the core instincts of tribalism…of the most ancient sort.

    It’s going to take a massive community level intellectual leap to overcome this descent into our most basic nature. Why else do you think that Republicans keep suppressing the vote? Why do they keep trying to underfund and undervalue education? Why else do you think Republicans of the Trumpian nature work to dismiss real science and the real supporting facts of our misbehavior?

    Does anyone see rays of light for the EVOLUTION of the human intellect that can overcome this descent, not devolution, into our past? Anyone?

  6. Your blog points to a three part prescription. Almost everyone that commented got stuck on the last concept of radical devolution.

    I think the first idea of teaching people how to spot and counter fake news is a huge step. It would lead to radical changes in American politics right now. It might eventually lead to the next steps, but teaching people how not to get sucked into somebody else’s fake narrative would be a fantastic first step.

  7. As I recall, anarchy was a dirty word. It was always linked with left-leaning candidates and governments. So why have many of these politicians listed above, embraced anarchy. Anarchists basically tear down government institutions, they claim, everyone should be able to govern themselves and everyone should volunteer for this governance, a cooperation across institutional lines. It sounds great, but that’s like herding cats, it ain’t gonna happen! But, anarchy does provide a starting point in reshaping and even overthrowing the government. Once the gullible have served their purpose, (evangelicals) they will be gotten rid of. And then, true authoritarian nationalistic fascism slides right into the void.

    So what do you do? This had been brewing for a long time, and nobody seemed to pay attention. I remember all of the main left-leaning stations along with many of those talking heads, crowing about the demise of the GOP. How far from the truth is that statement? But they had a false sense of security, and while they were all snugly tucked in their beds, the anarchists kept building their infrastructure. Now here we are. These right wing rallies are just an example of Mobocrisy so to speak. There is no rhyme nor reason, it’s just gibberish, but, manipulated to appeal to the willfully ignorant and willfully disaffected.

    I’ve said before, there will be blood. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t believe there’s any going back. I don’t think we’ve seen anywhere close to the zenith of the turmoil that will be produced by this administration and the enablers behind the scenes. Our country and many other Democratic leaning governments recognize that freedom of speech had its limitations, even though we like to think anybody can say whatever they like as long as someone else is there to refute those who spread disinformation. It was called the dunking stool, if you continued to spread false rumors, you would be tied to the dunking chair and repeatedly dunked in the water. In the 1960s, we had what was called rumor control centers that were established to refute any burgeoning rumors that interfered with government function. So we act like this is never happened before, when, it’s part of human nature. So free speech seems to be an oxymoron, we’ve forgotten how to fight back.

  8. Is it coincidental that the international Fascist leaders are all supported by the USA, while socialist countries are either under direct attack by the USA or have government restrictions placed upon them?

    The USA is using its foreign policy to “convert” socialized countries into free-market capitalism where state-owned institutions are privatized so resources can be extracted from the country and its peoples.

    We are using Neoliberal economics and CIA led coups instead of bullets to wage war against the Oligarchy’s foes. This is playing out globally as multi-national corporations seek their own brand of globalism versus people-driven globalization.

    This is why folks like George are speaking of “devolution.” He doesn’t want the Oligarchs leading globalization because they will do so only for economic motives. The people have different motives and would better manage resources than Wall Street bankers who look at quarterly profits and compounding growth.

    There was an attempt in Davos last year to make these multinational corporations more friendly to workers and other stakeholders by signing onto the Davos Manifesto. Most corporations have been reluctant to do so.

    This has never been more evident than our endless oil wars in the Middle East and all the embargoes against Iran and Venezuelan oil which is literally starving its peoples.

    I’ll use the words of Indiana’s very own generals, Smedley Butler in 1933:

    “I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

  9. Capitalism worked fine for us when what we needed and could afford was growth. It was as successful as we would have ever imagined but has reached it’s limits due to human population, the limits on natural resources, the spread of pervasive means for advertising/fake news/propaganda/brainwashing all capped off by extremely inequitable distribution among the population of the most important asset of all, knowledge.

    Our civilization is crashing not suddenly but slowly and how catastrophically is yet to be revealed.

    Now what is no longer rhetorical. We simply don’t know. Those who have become the most skilled at capitalism as a means of wealth redistribution their way know what to do in order to take maximum advantage of maximum capitalism but they will be in the end no better off than the rest of us. The cause of the crash, pursuing it’s benefit for them at the expense of everyone else will not win in the end because they are among the most helpless in imagining and building better although people like Nick Hanauer and Tom Steyer are waking up to the sustainability of the game that they won.

    Now what? Now what? Now what?

  10. John Neal,

    Sure. A new species that evolves from the nearly 8 billion of us current humans. Not gonna happen in your great-grand children’s lifetimes. We current members of THIS species will have made our planet uninhabitable for human life by then.

    As resources shrink, exacerbated by habitat destruction caused by climate change, the 8-12 billion humans will do what they did 200,000 years ago: Kill as many of the “other” tribes as they can to secure their own survival. BUT, if nuclear weapons become active and used, the game is up altogether.

    Simply put, there won’t be enough time for a new species to change the way we behave.

  11. Todd, oh Todd say it ain’t so!

    What’s going on in government right now is no different than my grandfather running the numbers on the north and west sides of Chicago. You had enough muscle, you kept the competition at bay, if you weren’t ruthless enough, you invited trouble. I doubt if anyone is going to have an epiphany, the halos aren’t going to materialize over people’s heads. So, you could have a government that still allows the grift, but includes everyone, LOL. Instead of the government being hypocritical about the grift, which it has its hands firmly around its essence in a love embrace, it can be acknowledged as a Mobocracy. As long as the tumultuous ocean (people’s/citizens) is calmed by a social safety net, and enough room for ruthless advancement, then I believe there would be enough support for a Mobocracy. Of course it would be based on lies and innuendo, but hasn’t it always been that way, LOL?

  12. Hey Vernon,

    It looks like John Neal wants to be a contrarian today!

    You make some valid points Vernon, there is not enough time, and it is not speculation, we are already at the tipping point, it’s going to be 60° here tomorrow, there are usually snowdrifts 4 feet high. There has never been this much warmth in the recorded history of this area. So, yeah, your points are valid.

    Evil men cannot understand justice.(Proverbs 28:5.)

    I think that sounds about right.

  13. John Song and Vernon,

    Vernon asked: “Does anyone see rays of light for the EVOLUTION of the human intellect that can overcome this descent, not devolution, into our past? Anyone?”

    I’m not being a contrarian. That’s the only ray of light I see for the evolution of the human intellect.

    John Neal

  14. John Neal,

    Punctuated equilibrium, the thesis of Stephen J. Gould, requires millions of years too. The fossil record, incomplete as it is, still shows that bursts of speciation over great spans of time. BUT, compared to Darwinism, aka gradualism, punctuated equilibrium seems like a relative blink of the eye. It isn’t.

    None of this will matter regarding our plight as a species. The “human intellect” will only “evolve” as a function of will. Without the will to change, we revert to our wild type…as I suggested earlier. Our intellect is our most fluid characteristic, and when it isn’t fed needed information, it also reverts to wild type. As I said earlier, why else do you think Republicans are so eager to make people less informed? THEY are the wild type. THEY are the backward party. THEY wish us to be ignorant so they can control our money and our lives. THEY do NOT believe in free will, or independent thought, because it causes them to lose power, power over our purses and thus not providing the necessary profits their bosses and donors ask of them. THAT is about as primitive as we can get these days. Notice how so many follow in that vein of “thought”.

  15. It seems strange to me that those who wail against being governed by “people you wouldn’t trust to post a letter for you” are all in for being governed by people you wouldn’t trust to post a letter for you, as long as you call it “radical devolution”, “rewilding”, “radical trust” or “bottom up governing”.

    Contrary to the myth spilling down from ivory towers, the governing we are getting now is NOT top down governing; it is bottom up governing. Trump is not setting the agenda; his base–the deplorable “bottom”–is setting the agenda.

    What we have here now in America is bottom up governing, and it demonstrates unequivocally the stupor we get from inhaling our founding fathers’ pipe dreams. Even folks like Hamilton and Jefferson knew better and, while talking a good con that promised government “by the people”, they tried their best to make sure that government by the people would never happen–restricting the vote to only male property holders, etc.

    It is a little understandable that ivory tower minds get confused and conclude that the Trump phenomenon is an outbreak of authoritarian top down government. It is an understandable mistake, because instinct and semi-sentient insight reveals correctly that authoritarian government is where the next stage of American governance is headed.

    But to get to authoritarian government America must go through this bottom up, “radical devolution”, “rewilding”, “radical trust” stage of governing. That stage of governance is the part of the analysis that so many otherwise thoughtful people are missing, perhaps because it–bottom up governance–can be so short-lived as to be not even noticed.

    Bottom up governing is the perfect incubator for dictators. Even Hitler got his start through bottom up governing. In speeches at rallies, Hitler would toss out a few contradictory statements, listen to his bottom crowd response to each, and then he would tailor the rest of his speech based on what the deplorable bottom was most excited about. Hitler’s base set the agenda–bottom up–and then gradually, it didn’t.

    I purport that Jefferson and Hamilton et al, known to be diehard fanatics against ever having a king or dictator as president, were also fanatics against ever having a deplorables up government.

    What they tried to set up was a government of contested consensus. They desired a “Contested” consensus, because they knew governing would always be contested; which is why they wrote the rules of the fight–the Constitution.

    Our solution now is to force the various governing champions to return to fighting by the rules. Yes, fighting. The Constitution was not meant to instill peace and Kumbaya into governing; it was meant to referee the contest. To get back to that–the fair fight–means that all the various work-arounds devised by all sides in Congress to cheat the fight, cheat the argument, cheat the Constitution be discarded.

    Unfortunately, it may require blood to accomplish that.

  16. Larry, I agree 100%. If men had the answer to self-governance, then there would not be the rise and fall of empires. Mankind would be able to get along for the greater good. Unfortunately, I believe mankind’s flesh is too corrupted to make a change. As far as John Neal’s evolutionary aspect, that’s an awful long stretch of time and I highly doubt if there will be a kumbaya Star Trek future waiting for us.

    Evolution is fine and dandy when it comes to wishful thinking, but it’s no different than creationism, you have to have faith in what you are reading/investigating. The fossil records don’t show as much as we would like. There are a lot of folks “guessing” and that’s why they call it the theory of evolution instead of a scientific law of evolution. Of course there is no creationist law that has been mulled over for generations by men. It basically is taken from scripture. The laws of Moses, the laws of Abraham, the laws of Christ.

    What man has done though is, manipulate written scripture to suit himself. So even the hierarchy that claims to believe really does not. I personally I’m not a fan coming up through some primordial ooze eons ago. And the fact remains, that amino acids make proteins, there are hundreds of amino acid variants, there are hundreds of protein variants. So, the probability of just one amino acid coming together on its own is almost incalculable let alone all of the combinations and variants. And the same with those amino acids coming together to form
    complex proteins.

    There are 400 distinct proteins of 2 amino acids, 8000 with 3, 160000 with 4, and 3, 200,00 with 5. So, myself, I think there is more than just mankind..

    If there is intelligent design, if there is creation, then mankind chucking its manufacturers operation manual, it’s kind of like someone jumping into one of the Elon m
    Musk’s new starships and taking it to Mars building a settlement or Mars base and coming back without any training. Or, for that matter, another galaxy. Ain’t happening!

    So if you’re going to wait for mankind to”evolve” into something that he never has been able to do, there really is no hope.

  17. John Sorg,

    Actually evolution itself is a FACT. There are two operating theories attempting to explain the dynamics and processes involved with speciation and the changes in life forms over time. Those facts are irrefutable. Only churches and the uninformed choose to use the term “theory” when discussing evolution.

    For better clarity, I recommend reading Stephen J. Gould’s books beginning with “Ever Since Darwin”.

  18. Vernon, with all due respect, I’ve read many many books on both sides of the aisle.

    the fact remains that it’s still called the theory of evolution, not the law of evolution. Why is that?

    Men have been trying to create life in a laboratory for well over a century. They have put the theories to the test to create simple Life. It hasn’t happened. Mankind has been able to manipulate life, splicing genes and such, but actually make it from scratch, nope. I asked a particular leading scientists at the museum of science and industry about this very conundrum. And I also inquired about the fossil record being far from complete. We see deformities in animals all the time, we’ve also seen a lot of hoaxes, but if a deformed skull was found, how would you know it was deformed? Unless you found many others, and realized one was nothing new but a deformity.. But when you’re making complete judgments on an evolutionary leap based on a couple of small pieces, to me that seems short-sighted. Adaptability does change a species. But that is not making anything brand new, it’s just adaptation not evolution. Say for instance, humans had to touch the bridge of their nose with their tongues to survive because of a climate situation or whatever Undoubtedly, there are humans that can touch the bridge of their nose with their tongues, I’ve seen it myself. But if that depended on survival, all of the short tongue humans would die out, and the genetic variant would survive and the others would die out. If you read the study of Darwin’s finches, that pretty much says the same thing.

  19. Vernon,

    I assumed you were asking a fact of science based question: “Does anyone see rays of light for the EVOLUTION of the human intellect that can overcome this descent, not devolution, into our past? Anyone?”

    That’s what I gave. What’s the evolutionary science behind your answer:

    ‘ The “human intellect” will only “evolve” as a function of will. Without the will to change, we revert to our wild type…as I suggested earlier.’

    Really?

  20. I really don’t believe that human intellect has the ability to evolve Vernon. One would hope that there would be an epiphany, but oh, if it hasn’t happened yet, what would make anyone think it’s coming down the pike? All men have done is persecute their fellow man. We’ve waged war and genocide, not just in the distant past, but all the way up until present day. We can still be waiting for the epiphany, but I doubt if that will ever come. Animals can adapt to changing situations, climates and even social structures. Mankind, with all of his intellect, cannot. it seems to be easier to try and wipe out those that are considered inferior or undesirable to have room to expand and resources to do so. If men had all sprung from animals, what happened to any instinctual conduct? Mankind has no instinct, mankind has a conscience which usually doesn’t mean much. These are all questions that have never really been answered, so, just as you, I slog along until I find something that seems to make sense. If I was a follower I never would put in my opinions on the printed screen so to speak. As far as adaptability, mankind seems to have lost its ability to adapt. Greed and perceived superiority have taken its place. Does our history suggest anything else?

  21. John Song and Vernon,

    It’s been fun guys! I’m going to saddle up my dinosaur, go for a ride, and see if I can will my intellect to evolve.

    Seriously, I enjoyed the exchanges. Thanx.

    John Neal

  22. John,

    There is but ONE side, and that’s the proven side. Read the facts. Know the fossil record and its analysis.

    I’m not trying to get involved with intellectual gymnastics. The intellectual evolution is called the better angels of our nature, vs. the evil within us all. Otherwise, how do you explain the “good Christians” actively preventing the rescue of the Jews before and during WW II?

    We are now experiencing a government of, by and for the rich. There is NO true intellectual energy involved with answering the call of your sponsors. If we can’t recover from that, we are asking for a reversal of everything and embracing slavery in one form or another.

    How’s that for intellectual devolution?

  23. Vernon, apologies!

    I digressed a bit, I have been having a debate with another individual on another site and he is quite assertive. That shouldn’t bleed over, I usually agree with your viewpoints, they are quite thoughtful and intellectual.

    I don’t think humans can D’evolve much more than most already have. You are absolutely correct about what happened during World War II. But that goes to show, that when people are given a permission slip, when they feel they have free reign to feed the beast in the deepest darkest recesses of their id so to speak, they very rarely take the conscientious approach. Conscience is very rarely a guide now days, and I might add anywhere else in history. The slave trade, the slaughter of native tribes, including women and children, the persecution of minorities, the demonization of Jews, we could go on and on, but, if there was going to be a change, it would’ve happened by now.

    Has there ever been, in recorded history, and epiphany on conduct and conscience? Absolutely not, and don’t count on it now. Man will always persecute his fellow man, despise the foreign resident, cheat his neighbor, covet his neighbor’s wife and possessions, murder the foreign resident, the widows, and the children. If mankind had some sort of a universal conscience, it died a long time ago. Men with good inclinations, men who truly believed in something better, are/were few and far between. They were burned as heretics, tortured, discredited, and any other bad thing you can think of. People blame religion for the world’s problems, but, it is dishonest men manipulate religion and try and bend it to their will. To use it as a bludgeon against their fellow man. This in itself is unscriptural, but it is also pointed out that it will happen.

    King David stated in 1st Chronicles 28:9 which reads; “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind; for Jehovah searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.”

    But it seems most people listen to the propaganda of how evil Scripture is, instead of realizing how evil the men are that manipulate it.

  24. John Neal,

    You have a dinosaur? Wow, cool. Personally, I don’t think that men ever saw a dinosaur walking on this planet. Considering how long man has been here, dinosaurs died out Hundreds of thousands of years before that, LOL. I know you’re being humorous, but hey, the exchange of ideas and opinions done civilly is never bad.

  25. John Sorg – not to get into any long discussions, but in common parlance, a theory is some notion or idea. In scientific parlance, a theory is a framework that makes sense out of a large number of facts to give a more general sense of how things work. A law is actually much less and is limited to describing a more simple relationship (for example, Newton’s Second Law of Motion, F=ma, Force equals mass times acceleration – simple and explaining a single relationship)

    Now back to our main topic – I will read John Neal’s use of evolution as being in the metaphorical sense and not the biological, so he isn’t being the contrarian – I will be.

    I am not so certain that Monbiot is making a diagnosis. I think he is still just describing the symptoms. Sometimes that is enough, sometimes not. Keeping in the medical theme, if a high fever is dangerous, an anti-pyretic to reduce the fever is a good treatment, even if the cause is unknown. However, we really do need the correct diagnosis to cure the illness.

    Once again today I heard a TV “pundit” say that the people rejected the liberal policies of George McGovern (suggesting that Bernie would achieve the same fate). A bad diagnosis. Actually, the people rejected a feckless George McGovern who couldn’t decide whether to support his VP choice, or to throw Tom Eagleton under the bus. Wishy-washy George tried to do both — and ran a disorganized campaign to boot.

    Capitalism, campaign finance, gerrymandering and other single themes are all important, but none is THE single thing to concern ourselves with. I think that looking at the voters in these countries might lead to a common theme.

    As a digression, I think one of those “treat the symptoms and worry about the cause later” solutions is to mobilize the opposition (like in 2018) and not try to “win the hearts of Trump voters”. Also, I think too much emphasis is placed on “It’s the economy stupid”. People react to bad economies; if the economy is booming, most people become focused on other things. We take our homes for granted — unless we don’t have, or can’t afford one. The economy is the same.

    Back to the main issue. I think that Obama’s comment about people clinging to their guns and their religion, while being poorly phrased, was on target. I have been reading Eric Hoffer’s The Ordeal of Change. While he was discussing Nazis and Communists and it was written over a half century ago, I think his analysis stands fairly well in today’s political scene. We are undergoing huge upheavals in our societal structure. While there are some “elites” who don’t want to lose their privileged position, this isn’t the initial cause among the “masses”.

    We can no longer count on lifetime employment; we may spend many months, or even years “in between” jobs. Adding to the economic uncertainty is the demise of pensions. You may get a 401K, but nobody really knows how much will be needed and if you follow the “expert estimates”, we will all have to retire as multimillionaires. This leaves many, many people feeling lost and not in control.

    Add to this the need of younger (and middle aged) people to leave their farms and small communities and get thrown into the “go where the jobs are – today” market. Hoffer describes this as a loss of community for the individualism inherent in industrial capitalism. He suggests that in the mid 1800s European immigrants were able to leave their small towns in Europe and integrate into the individualistic model in America because of abundant opportunity. When that opportunity doesn’t exist, people substitute religion, pride and allegiance to a group and/or leader.

    I think with our “ownership economy”, AKA “you are on your own”, many people are feeling displaced, powerless, and lost. They substitute religion, guns, and the cult of Trump.

    A quote from Hoffer:

    Things are different when people subjected to drastic change find only meager opportunities for action or when they cannot, or are not allowed to, attain self-confidence or self-esteem by individual pursuits. In this case, the hunger for confidence, for worth, and for balance directs itself toward the attainment of substitutes. The substitute for self-confidence is faith; the substitute for self-esteem is pride; and the substitute for individual balance is fusion with others into a compact group.

    That sounds to me like the cult of Trump.

    My two cents for the day.

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