Who Is To Blame?

Identity politics too often distracts from the real issues and can even make problems worse. My focus is as much on the victimization cycle as on the victims and victimizers. The victimization cycle puts into context and so offers a larger vantage point.

All of us humans all over are caught up in a globally-connected system of victimization. That isn’t to say all suffer equally, but it is to say we all are equally fucked in the long term on a shared planet with limited resources. What goes around comes around.

I’ve been arguing with one racist guy who keeps saying that American blacks are more violent. I can argue with that on one level by pointing out that whites are more likely to be child molesters, school shooters, bombers, serial killers, etc. But that misses a bigger issue. Why is the entire American society violent? Why is the world in general such a violent place? Why are the wealthiest countries so war-mongering? Why are so many of the post-colonial countries troubled by near endless internal conflict?

Limiting our view to the US, blacks do commit high rates of homicides, although most of their victims are also blacks. It is violence within a community. But how did so many poor black communities become so violent? Before someone committed murder, they were a kid being raised in a particular environment in a particular society. Some thing shaped them.

We know what some of those factors are. We also know that most victimizers were once victims themselves. If we looked at most people arrested for violent crime, we’d probably most often find a personal history of violent victimization: friends, neighbors, and family members murdered; police targeting and brutality; systemic and institutional racism; oppressive poverty and economic hopelessness; et cetera.

We can extend this argument to Native Americans. Native American communities also have high rates of violent crime that goes hand in hand with being the victims of large-scale violence across recent centuries.

As far as that goes, this argument also applies to poor white communities such as in the rural South, specifically Appalachia. They also have high rates of violent crime. All poor communities in this country have high rates of social problems, especially in places of high economic inequality.

Most Americans forget that the raw numbers of poor whites is massive. There are more whites on welfare than any other race. Some of these populations have been in a permanent state of poverty for centuries or longer, going back to the British Isles and Europe.

Race becomes a proxy for class. We talk about the problems of poor blacks when we really mean the problems of poor people, the problems of poverty and economic inequality, which goes hand in hand with historically oppressed groups, even though oppressed in vastly different ways.

Here is my main point:

Every victim has a victimizer. And likely most victimizers were once victims. You can keep going back and back. Where you stop as the original source of victimization can be arbitrary or else ideologically biased.

To focus on those in power: Who is to blame for the world’s present system of imperialism? The first empires who invented this social order? The later empires that introduced it to new populations such as into tribal Europe? The even later empires that turned it into colonialism? Can anyone today take responsibility for the past, whether imperialism forced onto Native Americans or imperialism forced onto earlier Europeans?

Instead of blame, who will take responsibility? What does it even mean to take responsibility for problems so far beyond any individual, for cycles of victimization that extend across centuries and millennia?

Us versus them mentalities are how authoritarian social orders maintain their power. Even many people who fight imperialism and oppression end up internalizing the dysfunction. This is why so many revolutions fail and end up with authoritarian states, sometimes worse than what came before.

All I know is that the world is a lot more complex and a lot more fucked up than most people want to admit. The world is complex. Humans are complex. It is impossible to put people into neat little boxes. We all have immense potential, for both good and evil. That is what many people are afraid to confront, the immense potential that lurks within.

Authoritarians couldn’t get away with most of what they do if not for all those complicit, including among the victimized groups. Take for example the history of blacks. The slave trade was dependent on Africans selling other Africans into slavery, not unusually people selling their neighbors or even family members in hope of saving themselves. Later on, many blacks who, after being freed following the Civil War, became Indian fighters and in doing so violently and genocidally promoted US imperial expansion across the continent.

Both poor whites and poor blacks have been willing participants in American power. These disadvantaged people have always been the majority of the soldiers who fight the wars for the rich and powerful. That is the power of nationalism, of patriotism and propaganda. Even the rich end up buying the rhetoric they use to manipulate others for their minds get warped by the same basic media that warps the minds of all of us. We are all stuck in the same reality tunnel, unable to see beyond it.

If not blame, how is responsibility to be taken? Who will take the first step?

24 thoughts on “Who Is To Blame?

  1. There is one thing I want to note.

    Those doing the blame (right wing white supremacists) are not looking for ways to improve the social well-being of blacks. They are looking for excuses to feel better about themselves and to justify their contempt for people who are not white.

    To a conservative doing the criticizing here, they consider themselves to be superior because they are white. They don’t have to do anything. They just have to be white and to them, that means that they are superior according to their ideology.

    It’s a sick and twisted ideology, but that is the reality.

    • I would say it is a little more complicated. There are many people as you describe, but there are many others who wouldn’t fit that portrayal. Most Americans, even liberals, can’t see outside of the American racial order. It is something we are born into. It infects our minds, in ways we aren’t even conscious.

      I find it sad every time I come across a ‘black’ promoting black power. A person can try to reverse the order of the racial order, but one cannot take the racism out of the racial categories. Black power is just another form of racism. That is how fucked in the head we are, how deep these oppressions get internalized.

      • It’s a legacy of centuries of racism.

        It seems to be in decline slowly, especially now with generation Y, but we’ll wait and see.

        Another issue is the top 0.1%, who would love to play the working class against the minorities and the middle class. They’ve been very successful at it so far, particularly in creating a sort of rural vs city mentality.

  2. The biggest problem I see is a certain level of complacency with people today and their lives.

    I’ve been wondering about what Dunning and Kruger wrote. They became well known for their argument that incompetent people don’t know that they are incompetent because they don’t understand what criteria makes people competent.

    One of the things that they’ve argued is that society is simply too stupid for democracy.


    The other seems to be that people fall too readily for propaganda or the top 0.1%’s messages without critically thinking.

    • Don’t blame democracy for the problemms of our society. We don’t have a democratic society.

      Our politics aren’t democratic. Our economy isn’t democratic. Our mainstream corporate media isn’t democratic. Sure, we have some of the superficial trappings of democracy, but that isn’t the same thing as democracy.

      The people aren’t born stupid. They are made stupid by an anti-democratic system designed to make them stupid through propaganda and social control. The problems we face are a criticism of the lack of democracy.

      I’m generalizing a bit. There are some local examples of democracy in action. New England town hall democracy shows how democracy can function. There are also even smaller scale examples like the East Wind Community which runs both its community and its businesses by democratic methods.

      Democracy works. It works by creating an engaged and informed citizenry. And it creates and engaged and informed citizenry by actually being democratic in substance, not just form.

      The question isn’t whether people are too stupid for democracy. Rather, it is a question about whether the ruling elite are too stupid or sociopathic for democracy. If so, that is all the more reason to eliminate the large centalized government that is controlled by that ruling elite. We need more small-scale local self-governance like New England town hall democracy and East Wind Community.

      The question isn’t whether democracy can work, but whether we want it to work. This is a challenge because it first requires us to free ourselves from the present dysfunctional, oppressive anti-democratic system. Basically, the only way democracy is likely to happen is by a complete transformation or breakdown of our society and then something else replacing it. The social order has so much power that such change is only likely to happen through force, whether revolution or civil war.

      So, is democracy worth fighting for? Do we want to be free or not? We first have to get to the point where most people begin to ask those questions.

  3. No, society is not democratic. But the overwhelming majority do not care. Or more accurately, they do not work to turn their nation into a democracy.

    Is democracy worth fighting for? The issue is that the average person is very complacent about this matter. A better term might be “sheep votocracy”.

    On a local level, direct democracy may work as you’ve noted for local issues. Another reason may be that citizens have to be well informed about local issues because it passes the “does it affect me” test versus say, something happening on the other side of the nation.

    But there still needs to be a strong federal government for large scale projects, healthcare, education, a national welfare system, and a few other major investments, such as research, the military, and infrastructure (need to pool money for large scale projects). That by nature centralizes power.

    • “Is democracy worth fighting for? The issue is that the average person is very complacent about this matter. A better term might be “sheep votocracy”.”

      I think both the argument for stupidity or complacency misses another maybe more important point.

      We forget how young is the idea of democracy. It is still in its infancy. And, to use that metaphor, it is like complaining that an infant doesn’t walk so well. Maybe the infant will grow up to be a cripple. But let’s at least wait until the infant grows up before we declare its fate.

      We are still figuring out even what democracy means in the abstract. The democratic experiment hasn’t so much failed as to yet be fully attempted. We need a good falsifiable hypothesis first. But it is hard to think clearly about something that is so radically new.

      It would be like the Wright brothers criticizing their fellow Americans for being complacent about not flying. The biggest challenge in implementing something never before attempted is first imagining it. Even then, for millennia many people had imagined flying. But it took a special insight for the Wright brothers to finally shift that imagining to something practical. It required endless failures by endless numbers of people over a long period of time before that final successful flight.

      Most experimentation is about failure. We have to learn to be excited about the process of experimentation itself, even when in any individual case it leads to failure. We must remember that each failure is a process of learning and improving.

      I have tendencies toward cynicism. I know the temptation of thinking that way. I’d advise against it, though. Our greatest threat right now might be cynicism.

      “But there still needs to be a strong federal government for large scale projects, healthcare, education, a national welfare system, and a few other major investments, such as research, the military, and infrastructure (need to pool money for large scale projects). That by nature centralizes power.”

      It isn’t just about centralization. It is also about size, a conclusion that I’ve come to. When you look at successful social democracies such as in Scandinavia, what you see is very small countries, as small as US states.

      Maybe the US is too large for democracy. Maybe we need to break the country back down into separate sovereign states, as was origianlly intended with the Articles of Confederation. The Anti-Federalists warned that centralizing power in a large government would be a failure. Many of their precise warnings have come true. Maybe we should take that under serious consideration.

      The American experiment is an ongoing experiment or rather a series of experiments. It is not a finished product. We need to frame our thinking in the right way in order to see more clearly what the experiment(s) mean in the big picture. We need to take the long view. We need to have the patience of a scientist who spends his whole life studying a field without necessarily ever knowing what conclusions or applications will come of his research.

      Maybe more importantly we need to simply have a sense of faith in our own humanity. Our species has made it this far. Our species has built entire civilizations out of the dust of the earth. Democracy should be an easy task in comparison.

    • Social democracy is a good way of thinking about this issue. We Americans obsess over elections and voting while too often ignoring social democracy, which is the larger context.

      A social democracy, in theory, doesn’t necessitate emphasis on electitons and voting. Moreso, what it demands is that the citizenry feel involved, engaged, and genuinely a part of society. There cannot be disenfrancised second class citizens and certainly not a permanent underclass in a social democracy.

      When you look at successful social democracies, what you find (besides smaller countries) is high levels of social capital and cultures of trust. Political democracy such as elections and voting is dependent upon and built on social democracy. Likewise, maybe social democracy is dependent upon and built on social capital and culture of trust. If the foundation isn’t there, democracy can’t succeed no matter how democratic you design the system. It isn’t the form of democracy that is essential, but the substance.

      I think Americans are perfectly able to understand all this. But the discussion never happens in the public. Those in power, both political and media elites, probably don’t want to have this discussion. This is an obstacle. Even so, as I look around, I see this discussion happening in all kinds of other forums outside the mainstream (local media, alternative media, social media, etc), especially among the younger generations.

      I wouldn’t dismiss all that discussion going on outside the mainstream. I’d also not take too seriously when you hear those in the mainstream calling Amereicans stupid. It is the mainstream elite, not the average American, who is most clueless because they are most disconnected from the realities on the ground.

      What do you think? Do you see it differently?

  4. This is an old debate, going back to the Enlightenment and early modern revolutionary era.

    Are the people too stupid to vote or even be allowed to vote? Are blacks too stupid to be free? Are women too stupid to be treated as equal citizens?

    It is almost always white males in the middle to upper classes asking these questions. The poor (when they get fed up enough) just say fuck off, you oppressive assholes! We are going to demand freedom and autonomy, self-governance and autonomy… whether you like it or not!

    But the system of propaganda and social control is powerful. It is no easy thing to fight. When every aspect of your life is controlled by the social order, including the info you get, it is hard to even think straight. The media propaganda model of today serves the same purpose as did denying education to slaves.

    Everything is against the average and below average American. The power held over them is immense. That they ever get their voice heard at all is a miracle in itself. Imagine what the people could accomplish if given a half of a chance. If justice is denied long enough, we will find out what the people will do.

    • As you can tell, I’m feeling in a feisty mood. I’ll always be more interested in the question of why and how the ruling elite keep the people stupid than the issue of stupidity itself.

      After all, it could be argued that slaves genuinely were too stupid to be free, but it was slavery keeping them stupid. So, the only reasonable solution was to both free the slaves and educate them… or at least to have made it realistically possible for them to have educated themselves.

      I know, I know, I’m a radical utopian.

      Instead, slaves just got more oppression and enforced ignorance through propaganda and poor education. In case you were wondering, slavery is the metaphor here for the American people. It is an apt metaphor, since American capitalism was built on and funded through slavery. Our social order and our so-called democracy is modeled on a slave society.

  5. My thinking has been in a bit of a different direction lately. This was actually an older post I started to write and then forgot about it for about a month. I decided to post it, anyway.

    What I was thinking about lately had to do with some other ideas. There is a book I’m reading, Economic Sentiments. It points to how radical the entire Enlightenment was, including economics. Individuality relates to this.

    I was also reading some books exploring Julian Jaynes’ theory on the bicameral mind. One of the core parts of the theory is about how individual consciousness developed. That relates back to the Axial Age which I see as a precursor for the Enlightenment.

    In talking about human stupidity, I like to put it into the larger context. Democracy is a radical new idea. The Enlightenment thought remains radical all these centuries later and remains just as much of an experiment. The entirety of civilization is radical.

    Something almost traumatic happened to the human mind at the beginning of civilization. Humans have never been the same. All of history has been humans trying to come to terms with that trauma/transformation.

    I have a post in the works. I’ll probably finish it this weekend. I think we need to explore more what human nature means at the deepest level. Everything is determined by that, as I see it.

    • Part of my thought is this.

      There aren’t stupid people as individuals. We are social animals. We are only as smart or as stupid as the social systems we are part of. I would argue that there are social systems too ‘stupid’ for democracy. That is to say that democracy itself is a particular kind of social intelligence… or something like that.

      Also, intelligence is a relative concept. This means it is context-dependent. It is an artifact of relationships and a system of relationships. There are many kinds or aspects to ‘intelligence’, in the broad sense of the term. Calling someone intelligent or not is a social judgment based on social standards and purposes.

      I’m trying to develop a line of thought here.

      We aren’t born individuals. Certainly, we aren’t born rational actors. Not any more than we are born with some genetics of race and class. We have to learn these things. They are social roles we play.

      That is what I’m trying to get at. Stupid is made. It serves a purpose. Our system demands it. Or else simply produces it as a side result.

      Our entire social system is haphazard. There isn’t really anyone at the helm. That is the failure of the conspiracy mindset. The system itself has a life of its own and doesn’t require conspirators, not to suggest there aren’t people conspiring about all kinds of things within the system.

      It isn’t so much a ruling elite making the masses stupid to control them. The entire system embodies a kind of stupidity. Everyone, elite included, are trapped in this reality tunnel of ignorance-inducing ‘stupidity’.

      According to Julian Jaynes’ theory, our minds are divided. Our language expresses this where we refer to ourselves as both the subject and the object: “I’m besides myself,” “I’m just not myself today,”
      etc. I’d relate this to how people can know and not know simultaneously. How even the elite fall into traps like smart idiocy.

      Enlightenment thinkers pushed hard this idea/ideal of individualism. It was still somewhat of an alien at the time. Most people in the 1600s and 1700s still identified their sense of selves in terms of social relationships and roles, despite the experience of individuality having been developing since at least when Jaynes theorized the transformation began in the ancient civilizations.

      I think we still are stuggling with this supposed individualism. Our individual consciousnesses are built on a vast and ancient substructure of the psyche. It’s hard to know what this might mean for the hope of democracy.

    • All of this is difficult to talk about. Our understanding of democracy, individuality, and rationality are probably far too simplistic to allow us to usefully grapple with these issues. Both our concepts and our language fails us.

      We take so much for granted. We assume that individuality is just something we are born with, rather than an artifact of civilization. Buut maybe, from infancy, we have to be socialized into the worldview of individualism. Furthermore, maybe this socialization is imperfect at best. There is a superficial quality to our consciousness.

      I might even go so far as to argue that there is a bit of a fictional quality to it all, a self-narratizing. Possibly, the individual consciousness, especially as the rational actor, is a social construction, not dissimilar to races. As there was a project to eugenically enforce race ideology onto reality, it could be interpreted that there was another project to enforce individualist ideology onto reality, and maybe that has been a large motivation behind capitlaism in our society, as a way of producing individuals.

      I’m just thinking out loud here. My basic sense is that few, if any of us, have any clue what democracy is or could be. We are barely even scratching the surface of our own psychologies.

  6. I’m using the comments section here as a placeholder for my thoughts. Democracy is an issue that is always close to my heart. My recent readings, however, have got me thinking about it more deeply than normal.

    One book I’ve been listening to, rather than reading, is Francis Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay. It is the second in what I think will eventually be a trilogy. Fukuyama is an interesting guy. He used to be one of the main defenders of neoconservatism, but lost his faith. He still just as much a defender of capitalism, as far as I can tell, but his views are complex.

    He does discuss democracy in this second book in the series. In the first book, he emphasized how complex and difficult it is to create democratic societies. It doesn’t happen by accident. His views could be used to criticize most of the right side of the political spectrum. He seems to have a genuine appreciation for the necessity of good governance and social capital, and seems to appreciate how too many people take such things for granted in societies like ours.

    I was thinking about this in relationship to the Enlightenment value of individualism. Both democracy and individuality take immense effort to create and maintain. They are dependent upon social systems, social structures, and social institutions.

    They are also social narratives. They are the fictions we believe in so much that we do go to great lengths to make them as real as possible. They become our reality by force of collective imagination and will. Democracy and individuality are bootstrap realities, like how consciousness apparently bootstraps itself into existence out of non-conscious matter. We underestimate the power of social fictions, of social constructions.

    We don’t have a functioning democracy. That is sad. Even so, that misses a major point. The way we most likely will gain democracy, assuming such will eventually happen, is by pretending we already have it.

    So, there is more than mere delusion to the American claims of democracy. If it is proclaimed long enough, eventually future generations will feel compelled to make it real. It is sort of like the bullshit rheotric the slave owning founders put into the founding documents. They talked about independence and freedom, despite their lack of political will to practice what they preached. Nonetheless, later generations took them at their word and demanded our society act accordingly.

    It is like the movie Lars and the Real Girl. Treating a fake thing as real can have value. It can act as a transitional object in human development. That is true for individuals and I’d say it is just as true for societies. At this point in our development, we need our fake democracy. It is a safe way we can play out our imagination and explore what it means.

    A real democracy will be as different from our fake democracy as is Lar’s blow-up doll from a girl in the flesh. We have to start from where we are at. We have this fake democracy and we feel compelled to treat it as real. Where can we go from here. What are we manifesting in our pretense?

    We have many opportunities before us. As mainstream society obsesses over the fake democracy of outward forms, the radicals on the fringe take the collective imaginings of democracy and run with it. At the edges of society, we are flirting with what real democracy could mean.

    As I mentioned with the book Economic Sentiments, a major part of the radicalism of the Enlightenment had to do with capitalism and individualism. There were many people playing around with ideas and imaginings, but no one was quite sure how far it could or should be taken. There was a sense of immense risk and possibility in the air.

    That radicalism of economics never dissipated. It just changed form or maybe just deepened and broadened in its impact. The idea of a free market has caught our imagination. It obsesses us. But what if capitalism isn’t genuinely a free market? Maybe it made for a useful fake free market. What next?

    Now, as we begin to take freedom more seriously with each passing generation, what might we begin to manifest? What if democracy wasn’t just a set of outward forms? What if democracy permeated every aspect of our society? What if we had a democratic economy, an economy by the people, of the people, and for the people? That would be the most radical expression that many a critic of the Enlightenment feared would happen. Give people a taste of freedom and they might start to expect it.

    An aspect of public stupidity is public disengagement. And an aspect of public disengagement is public disenfranchisemment. People only care to the degree they are invested in the system. There is little motivation to make an informed vote if your vote has no real influence or meaning. However, if democracy engaged every aspect of people’s lives, including their economic relationships and behaviors, then suddenly people would be highly motivated to become highly informed. People only spend their time gaining knowledge about what is relevant to their lives. The plutocratic and oligarchic political system in the distant government has little relevance, since nothing they can do will have much impact on it. Public ignorance and stupidity is a rational response to an oppressive system. To change that response requires a change to the system.

    In thinking about new possible systems, I was looking at some books on radical leftist forms of economics. Here are some possibly worthy titles to consider in better understanding this topic:

    The Accumulation of Freedom


    The Citizen’s Share

    Humanizing the Economy

    Democray at Work

    Of the People, By the People

  7. To be honest, I think we have both to blame.

    1. A pretty damn ruthless elite that is exploiting people and deliberately keeping people ignorant.

    2. People themselves do deserve some of the blame.

    Left on their own with the facts, we’d probably chose a social democracy or perhaps a true socialist society with a legitimate direct democracy on the local level and perhaps some form of representation on the federal level.

    At that point, it becomes this sort of chicken and egg problem. People are apathetic, but they’ve been made so by the elite. How to break the cycle?

    • From my perspective, everyone is to blame and no one is to blame. It isn’t so much the fault of individuals or even particular groups. It is a systemic problem.

      To generalize and simplify a bit: We can only be as smart as the system allows. And we are only as stupid as the system requires.

      The system is more complex than any single part of the system to control it. Or to put it another way, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. None of us sees the entire picture. We each have our tiny piece of the puzzle, our small part to play. Some of us might have a slight better vantage point, but even that is minimal.

      We are in a reality tunnel, a mind trap. Most people don’t even fully realize how bad the problem is or don’t want to admit it or talk about it. The system has immense inertia and all of us are along for the ride. A few people on the Titanic see the iceberg ahead, but most are enjoying the cruise or simply trapped deep in the bowels of the ship.

      How do we break the cycle? Escape the system? Or turn the Titanic in a new direction? There has to be a better solution than to dress up as a woman and wait near the lifeboats.

    • I really do think there is something deeper going on here. It is more than than just conspiring ruling elites who manipulate and the stupid people who let themselves be manipulated. That is an old story we like to tell ourselves. But as a story it is too convenient.

      There is something quite strange about human nature. There is a disconnect, a divide. I’m not sure if you’ve read any of my posts about knowing and not knowing, but that captures perfectly this strangeness. It is so hard to grasp what it means or how it operates.

      When we understand how people know and don’t know, we will understand why the people are stupid and why the conman has to first con himself.




  8. From my perspective, everyone is to blame and no one is to blame. It isn’t so much the fault of individuals or even particular groups. It is a systemic problem.

    I would disagree with that.

    The top 0.1% of Americans certainly deserve a much bigger share of the blame than most people do.

    Then there’s the far right, which at best has been ignorant, passive, and enabling the damage, at worst, it has been actively working to destroy with the 0.1% everything that society holds dear.

    I really do think there is something deeper going on here. It is more than than just conspiring ruling elites who manipulate and the stupid people who let themselves be manipulated. That is an old story we like to tell ourselves. But as a story it is too convenient.

    I’m not entirely sure that everyone knows. Certainly a large proportion of the US population for example seems to think that unions are bad.

    This latest 2014 midterm election is proof that not everyone knows (even if turnout was quite low).

    I’d put people into several categories:
    1. The ones that know what is happening and are taking action

    2. The ones that know, but live in fear

    3. The ones that know, but are to indifferent to care

    4. The ones that don’t know and don’t care to know (distracted be everything else)

    5. The ones that don’t know, and actively reject knowing, preferring to believe what they want

    I’d say 4 and 5 are probably bigger categories than you would, and certainly bigger than say in, Western Europe.

    If anything, the fact that the term liberalism is vilified is a testament to that 4 and 5 are quite large categories indeed.

    • We may be talking past each other. I don’t think what I’m saying is actually in contradiction to what you are saying. It’s just that we are focusing on and so emphasizing two different aspects.

      Everything you wrote can be true and yet there can be an underlying systemic problem that is greater than any particular individual or group. This isn’t to say that particular individuals and groups don’t have varying degrees of responsibility for different issues. I’m certainly not claiming blame is equal for all parties.

      I also think you are overlooking or not fully appreciating one aspect I was pointing to. The knowing and not knowing is a complex issue. Entire books have been written trying to grapple with that strange phenomenon. It is the singlemost bizarre thing I’ve come across in my entire life. I’ve been thinking about it for years, ever since I read about examples of dissociation in Derrick Jensen’s work.

      The human mind is an amazing thing. Dissociation is more typical than most people realize. We do it all the time, but we rarely ever get a glimpse of our doing it. That is the nature of it, a splitting of awareness. It doesn’t require a person to be stupid, ignorant, indifferent, or any other such thing. It is simply the normal way the brain operates because consciousness isn’t required for most things.

      The implications of this dissociation for society are immense. Derrick Jensen explores it in great detail. It is heartrending. It is so hard to come to terms with.

      • Perhaps you are right it’s not so black and white. The categories above are generalizations yes. But there’s no way to group people without generalizing.

        The issue is human nature. It is a complex issue and truth be told, many in groups 4 and 5 if you were to talk to them would have a vague idea about the level of corruption in politics, by what they perceive as a wealthy elite, etc.

        But in the end, what matters is what people do with the information they do have. That’s really what it boils down to. The very best intelligence is not useful if it is not acted upon.

        The results a few days ago in the mid-term for example are not very encouraging.

        • I’ve almost completely loss faith in our political system. I’m not sure that even the smartest and most well informed people could save it now, if they were suddenly given control of the government. I wonder if there is a point beyond which reform becomes so improbable as to be a false hope.

          What if it isn’t about getting the right people? What if it isn’t about finding the few morally principled independents to elect into important positions? What if the dysfunction is so deep as to be beyond dislodging? What if our entire government is just badly designed and needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up? If so, what does change mean when change seems impossible? How do Americans find the inspiration to tackle the ‘impossible’?

          Maybe something has to shake our system to the ground before we can face what that system is or has been. Maybe we need to be shook out of our blinders. Isn’t that what happened with the American Revolution? Most people weren’t for revolution until revolution had already begun and was an inevitable event. Then and only then did most people become concerned enough to get informed and get involved.

          My mind is drawn toward the systemic view, as always. I begin to feel more hopeful when I broaden my view. I see shifts happening already. What I want to know is how to push things in just the right place to get things rolling. I’m interested in what might provoke Americans, individually and collectively, into intelligent and innovative thinking. What would get Americans to genuinely try to understand what they don’t yet know and to admit to what on some level they already know?

  9. I think that there will be some sort of collapse.

    To me that’s inevitable. There’s simply too many contradictions in the US economy and the governing system to sustain itself in the long run.

    They say that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I would argue in no democracy have people been very vigilant, but the American people have been quite extreme in that they have actively enabled the elite to destroy them.

    Is it finding the right people? In a working system, arguably yes. In the US case? You might be right. It will collapse under it’s own dysfunction very much like the USSR did.

    • I’ve been attracted to the theory that any large democracy will inevitably fail. Many of the founders and other American revolutionaries thought democracy could only function on the small-scale of local self-governance.

      If even way back then people thought the country was too large to be run democratically, that is saying a lot. The country was much smaller in the 1700s. The entire early American population could have been placed into a single medium sized modern city. The Confederation and true Federalism was based on the idea that local people should mostly self-govern themselves.

      Maybe they were right. Maybe we are trying the impossible by having a large democracy.

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