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Are We Too Comfortable?

Are we too comfortable to feel urgency about the future?

By Stuart Heady

This is from a manuscript in progress for a book to be titled, “Our Politics is Too Small.”

Are we lulled, by all the pretty images in the advertising bubble we live in? Do we see that our greatest problem in our democracy, our Republic, is our collective Achilles Heel, our ignorance and lack of critical thinking?

The one ready antidote we all have at our disposal to all the concerns about money flooding into politics and drowning out the voice of the people, is startlingly simple:

Wake The Fuck Up!

This is a rude way of saying that we need to think more critically,  more deeply and with more penetrating honesty, and promote this with anyone and everyone possible.

Where is the great battle of our time to be joined?  The field of battle is right in that space between our ears.  It has moved off of nearby TV screens with images of other people modeling happiness, directly into our conscious attention, even shortening our attention spans.  We are a nation with collective learning disability, because our brains are full of parasites – virtual, viral, sticky.  We all enjoy advertising.  We love jingles and slogans.

We should not be awed that this is super sophisticated and beyond us, like rocket science or quantum mathematics.  It is dumb stuff that smart people do.  It isn’t that hard to come up with a viral idea that gets picked up and repeated, like a catchy advertising slogan and which might have an effect on the thinking of those involved in a public discussion or public policy.

In the midst of an early nineties discussion in our local community, Austin, Tx, about the new wave of computers in the home and the question of right of way support systems, I found that a lot of people did not seem to see these desktop boxes as having much economic potential. I started repeating “kitchen table wildcatters” and it stuck for a while and I heard people repeating this, and I know it had some small effect on resulting public policy.

We all repeat phrases which seem tro capture a thought about something in a nifty way.  It is classic advertising.  See the USA in your Chevrolet.  People did!

Shift money from advertising agencies working overtime to promote consumer products and consumerism, and into a psy ops war on progressive thought itself. Staff up with smart people in order to sell a special interest agenda of profit before all else, profit at all costs, profit as the only  measure of all things, and especially to promote politicians who are blind to all else.

If you had tens of millions to spend every year, perhaps billions, the biggest and boldest possible goal could be conceivable:  Change American culture.

But here is the kicker:

A billion dollars, hell a trillion dollars, worth of crafty, nifty persuasion from inside your own head will not influence one thing if you develop the habit of being a critical thinker who pays attention, exposes oneself to first hand experience about how government action works, how legislative decisions are made.  If you cannot be fooled by mere suggestions you build up immunity.  All that money is now a waste.

This has very urgent implications.

What kind of government do we have if it is full of people put there by an ignorant public that can be led by appeals to fears, bigotries, superstitiousness and neuroses? Do we want to find out? No.

Before it is too late, we need to up our game and point out the need to do so for anyone else who will listen.

Certainly, we have to start with ourselves, in our lives and in taking serious time to question our assumptions. Taking the journey to becoming aware, conscious and perceptive in a critical was suggests in its unfolding, ways to teach consciousness.

This is not about lotus petals.  If you talk to real people, try to get involved in real things, you learn.  Possibly through disappointment and pain.  But, there is not real learning without that.

Does the Enlightenment continue or do we sink into a morass of fascist delusions?

We should contemplate evolution and the internet.

The internet goes back to Hertz and his experiments with controlling small amounts of electricity, about 150 years ago and Von Planck’s development of the mathematical basis for electrical engineering.  Since that time there have been many, many inventions and innovations by an uncountable number of people from anywhere in the world.  It is the product of the human race.

What have we built?  Really, it is becoming a prosthesis for putting the distributed intelligence of the entire homo sapiens species online.  We began to learn how to use language, probably 180,000 years ago, to share thoughts, to be in each other’s minds. Now we can have a planetary consciousness formed by having intelligent distribution of the means of communication.  Doubt this?  Just watch the news as statements by one world leader are reported with the reactions from other parts of the globe,  within hours if not minutes.

That is evolution and it transcends the attempt to control it – or even to comprehend it. The urgency comes from a more instinctive place in our minds that is beyond our ability to define it precisely.  It is less like a legal framework and more like a jazz band.

We aren’t using this technology to its potential yet.  It may be that we need generations who have gone through the developmental phase of learning how to use language with the internet as a presence in the environment from the beginning and we may see several generations develop the further dimension of deliberative interaction.  Deliberation really requires more than mere opinion slinging.  People who really participate in decision making will go through information gathering and assessing so they more or less agree on a body of knowledge together.  Then they debate relevant points and then they locate possible ways to come to an agreement.  Most conversations online are not this.

Most online discussions are at the flinging feces at each other stage!

What will it take for mankind to come together in a necessary and urgent deliberation about the conditions in our world we most need to be aware of and do something about?

We can easily relate to how, in our lives we see the need to do something to change a behavior and how much it may take.  We may die before we actually change the way we do things.

We could slide into a flirtation with fascism and totalitarian police state control, we could see a worldwide lack of urgency turn into billions of people starving. We could see more wars.  We could see a nuclear exchange.  We could wake up in the world depicted by the Mad Max movies.

At some point, the intelligent part of the species will exert itself through the use of available means.  At what point?  When enough people have had enough of the results of rule by the stupidity of the shortsighted, venal and selfish few.

That could happen this year.  Or, it could take another fifty years.  Or maybe another hundred.  Hard to see our situation getting worse for decade after decade before things become an undeniable crisis.  We have already been in a building crisis for probably fifty years.

The intelligent response we need begins with our fighting back to regain our own heads, through penetrating honesty about the larger conditions in the world that are normally out of consideration because people tend to think that only the immediately interesting and entertaining current fascination is real.  We must enlarge our view.  Our politics is too small.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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