Early Cold War Liberalism

Most of the Negroes I know do not believe that this immense concession [Brown v. Board of Education] would ever have been made if it had not been for the competition of the Cold War, and the fact that Africa was clearly liberating herself and therefore had, for political reasons to be wooed by the descendants of her former masters.
~ James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (from Corey Robin)

The following two passages are from quite different writings. But both describe the early Cold War atmosphere. It is strange to read about that long ago time. I only have a childhood’s glimpse of the ending of the Cold War. The generation following mine has no living memory at all of that era.

The first passage below is from Lillian Smith’s Killers of the Dream. She wrote the book in the late 1940s, but the foreword wasn’t written until later and published in the second edition in 1961. The Cuban Revolution had just happened and there now was a Communist government at America’s doorstep. That worried her.

This was a Cold War wake up call for Americans, from conservatives to liberals, Lillian being the latter. Communism was no longer a distant political system to be debated as abstract theory. Four years after she wrote in distress about Communist influence, the 1965 Civil Rights Act was passed. The Cold War forced the hand of the political elite, for fear of what would happen if the Civil Rights Movement became further radicalized.

The second passage is from John Hartley’s introductory essay (“Before Ongism”) to a work by Walter J. Ong, Orality and Literacy (from the 30th Anniversary Edition). Hartley puts Ong’s academic work into perspective. Ong was beginning his academic career just as the Cold War started, following the Second World War. That was a new era for America, then a rising global power.

In the 1940s, the CIA was formed and the FBI took on a greater role in national security.The Cold War was seen as a potential total war and one of the emerging weapons was propaganda, media manipulation, and an oppressive variety of culture war. In the 1950s, Americans fell under influence of domestic covert operations like that of CIA’s Operation Mockingbird and FBI’s COINTELPRO. Also, America came to be dominated by McCarthyism. The Civil Rights Movement, even as it was having legal successes, was increasingly targeted. It was seen as a breeding ground for Communists and radicals.

American universities were a battleground. Long before the protests of the 1960s, the CIA and FBI were focusing intently upon academia, both in looking for threatening activists and for potential recruits. The CIA was also interested in shaping academia and its influence. The CIA used its funds to promote particular artists, writers, and thinkers. Some professors were even spymasters.

This was the world that Walter J. Ong entered. There is no evidence that he knew about any of it, but it certainly shaped everything around him. The US government understood that ideas had power. Lillian Smith wasn’t part of that Cold War academic world, but she did have a 134 page FBI file. She was considered dangerous because she wielded ideas to promote change and all change was deemed dangerous to those in power.

The mid-twentieth century was a time when liberalism, both as a liberal ideology and liberal arts, was simultaneously striving and constrained. It was being carried along by far greater historical and political forces.

* * * *

Killers of the Dream
by Lillian Smith
Foreword (1961)
pp. 15-17

And its relevance for this hour we are living in astonishes me. For what was based on intuition, on a kind of prophetic guess, is now boldly actin itself out on a world-size stage. I had felt the curve of approaching events but I could only warn, I could not prove. And now here it is: the new African nations, the hatred of colonialism, and the Communists’ shrewd exploitation of this word so fatefully tied to “the white man” and to Western democracy—and to everyone’s future.

When I wrote those chapters I was afraid—I am more afraid, today—that we may not break our bondage to past errors in time to win the confidence of young nations who need our help. And whom we desperately need. I watched with a sense of horror—I am still watching—the hands of the Southern clock (and the American clock) move with the death-slowness while the world clock speeds along as if stuffed with the energy of a rocket.

And now, there is Cuba. Ninety miles away, a Communist government. How could it have happened! Why are we so blind to each disaster as it begins slowly, slowly, and then rushes toward us! Is it complacency? But what causes this kind of complacency, so unreal, so without substance? Why are we suppressing anxiety, denying danger? Why apathy—when we desperately need moral energy? Why flabby spirits when we need iron strength?

Colonialism was once a harsh exploitation of peoples; today, it is a symbol stalking the earth. And men live and die by their symbols. To Asia and Africa—and Cuba, yes—the word means shame and degradation, it means dehumanization, poverty, pain. And here, in this great country whose people love freedom and respect men as human beings, colonialism’s twin brother, segregation, not only lives but wields power, and earth-shaking decisions are made by its followers. But the new nations of Asia and Africa are making earth-shaking decisions, too; they have it within their power to do so not only in the United Nations, not only in secret sessions with Russia and China, but in the secret rooms of the people’s memory.

Why can we not see the pattern laid out so plainly before our eyes? Ghana . . . Mali . . . Guinea . . . Tanganyika . . . Kenya . . . Liberia . . . Nigeria . . . Mauritania . . . Republic of Chad . . . Republic of Niger . . . Angola . . . Southwest Africa . . . Nyasaland . . . Southern Rhodesia . . . Northern Rhodesia . . . Mozambique . . . Sudan . . . Somalia . . . Central African Republic . . . the Congo . . . Bechuanaland . . . South Africa . . . Malgasy . . . Basutoland . . . Swaziland . . . Gabon . . . Republic of Ivory Coast . . . Senegal . . . Ethiopia . . . and others and others. Mixed together, as I have jumbled them here, the free and the not yet free, they are Africa below the Desert, Africa in struggle with itself, Africa smeared by old bleeding memories, reaching out for a future called “Africa for the Africans” which may turn into mirage because of a too urgent hunger to become. Too urgent? Yes. For starvation can be exploited by unscrupulous leaders; it is easier to arouse hatred of others than love for one’s own freedom and future; it is easy, to, for these leaders in their difficulties to appeal to color just as southern demagogues did when the South was in chaos after the Civil War. We should not be surprised if we hear in African accents words about Black Supremacy, just as we still hear in southern accents words about White Supremacy. The fine concept of the human being may get lost in the shuffle and we may face  a black racism just as white racism is disappearing. this is possible although it would be tragic error.

But whatever wisdom or irresponsible ambition their leaders may show, these new nations need us: our financial and technical aid, our moral support, our acceptance of their citizens as human beings.

But we cannot give them support or acceptance, no matter how eloquently we may offer it, until we rid our own country of racism and its primitive rites of segregation. The President may try, the State Department, the USIA and Peace Corps may try, but no matter what they do or say, the offer of help and friendship will be without psychic and moral substance as long as we practice segregation here at home. And at the critical moment, many of these nations, too, will turn to communism, rejecting what they call “white democracy.”

Our President and his executive office can achieve much; and the State Department is not without the means to persuade; and the Peace Corps, with its young members’ person-to-person contacts which transcend governmental activities, will be of service in overcoming misconceptions and resentments. But to change our foreign relations wsith asia and Africa our symbols must change. For neither we nor they are animals: we live by our symbols as do they: we cannot change their feelings about us as long as we are acting out, symbolically, the concept of White Supremacy in schools and parks and movies and churches and buses and restaurants.

Why don’t we see this? Is there a tendency to blindness in those who overvalue their whiteness? Sometimes, I think so; even in those who cannot be called racists there is blindness. If we were not blocked off by our racial feelings would we not realize that segregationists, South and North, are our country’s dangerous enemies, even when unwittingly so? Would we not realize the threat they are to our survival as a strong free nation? For the sake of a mythic belief in the superiority of their “whiteness”—a strange mad obsession—they are willing to drag us to the edge of destruction because they have actually lost touch with reality. Think of the irony, the terrible absurdity of those racist U.S. Congressmen investigating everybody’s subversive acts but their own—when it is what they are doing by their blunt, stubborn refusal to give up segregation that is pushing us closer and closer to disaster.

* * * *

Orality and Literacy: 30th Anniversary Edition
by Walter J. Ong
“Before Ongism” by John Hartley

Without wanting to overstate it (as American supremacism, for instance), there is a vein of political philosophy running through the literary-historical scholarship of mid-century America. The mood extended well beyond Harvard. Across the country, literary scholarship seemed determined to give substance to Walt Whitman’s post-Civil War vision for America’s “democratic vistas”; 13 a vision newly urgent in a post-World War II world. Richard Altick at Ohio ( The English Common Reader, 1957) and R. F. Jones at Stanford ( The Triumph of the English Language, 1953) come to mind. 14 Most notable, perhaps, was Yale, where American Studies was established in the same period, not least for political reasons. American Studies was:

an enterprise that would be, among other things, an instrument for ideological struggle in what some among them termed the American crusade in the Cold War, and what others among them saw as virtually a second civil war. (Holzman 1999: 71)

A leading figure in this enterprise was Norman Holmes Pearson, who, like Perry Miller at Harvard, was a secret agent for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) – precursor of the CIA – during World War II. Where Perry’s protégés at Harvard included the Jesuit priest Walter Ong, Pearson’s at Yale included James Jesus Angleton, who learnt there the craft of practical criticism of decontextualised documents. Angleton went on to apply it as chief of counter-intelligence at the CIA, where he remained for a generation (Holzman 2008). While at Yale, as Terence Hawkes has pointed out, Angleton was much influenced by the New Criticism, especially as practised by William Empson (1930), whose theory of the irreducible ambiguity of expression served Angleton well in his search for double meanings as evidence of Soviet “double agents,” within the CIA itself. His obsessive search for spies turned to domestic suspects during the Johnson and Nixon presidencies, among them the liberal and countercultural elite of American society, including Martin Luther King and Edward Kennedy. Hawkes draws the parallel between literary criticism and counter-intelligence:

When agents may be recognized as “turned”… they themselves become “texts” which demand complex analysis. A sensitivity to ambiguity then becomes a crucial weapon. The improbable but undeniable impact of modern literary criticism on practical politics has no better model, and Angleton later described his work in counterintelligence as “the practical criticism of ambiguity.” (Hawkes 2009)

Strangely, it seems, the study of rhetoric, of literary theory, and the practical criticism of arcane texts at Ivy-league colleges, intersected both personally and institutionally with the career of high-stakes political Americanism during the crucial period of its global ascendancy. As a Jesuit, presumably Ong was not involved in the counter-espionage shenanigans of active spy-masters like Perry, Pearson and Angleton, but he was brought to prominence in an intellectual environment where literary history, linguistic analysis and an expanded doctrine of the USA’s “manifest destiny” were brought into alignment.

91 thoughts on “Early Cold War Liberalism

  1. Society has moved a lot to the political right since then I fear.

    Whatever the other failings, there was a compression in income and there was investment unlike today.

    • Yeah, a lot has changed. But I do wonder how much of this kind of thing still goes on. Back then, the Communist threat actually created a fierce defense of liberalism, even as that liberalism was divided against itself. The situation is not the same. It is harder to know what liberalism stands for these days.

  2. I’d argue at this point it is keeping what little is available still to pursue freedom of thought.

    As it stands, capitalism is totally incompatible with democracy.

    – Inequality
    – People are told to “watch” what they post online for fear it may hurt them professionally
    – Low taxes mean less money for research and other things

    There’s the matter of protecting what is still there. I am convinced that Generation Y will be another Lost generation and will have to fight for another New Deal.

    • One thing that has changed is that liberalism has become more independent of capitalism. People in general are now more willing to consider alternatives or at least rethink our present system.

      During the Cold War, liberals more clearly separated themselves from communists and from the entirety of left-wing and radical politics. Liberals had great influence partly because they sought respectability. Even in the Civil Rights movement, the liberal leadership made sure to defend cases where the people involved were upright citizens.

      In recent history, liberalism has become unmoored, but this has also given liberals more freedom to be critical. Liberalism today is a more messy movement, as it was before the Cold War. But this also makes liberal rhetoric open game for almost anyone, including demagogues.

  3. Maybe, but it will need more widespread acceptance.

    I think that one of the consequences of America’s poor education system is that people are less able to think critically. They know they are being screwed over, but cannot understand by whom.

    • In the US, liberal ideas and rhetoric is everywhere. Yet most people don’t identify as liberal, including most of those who support liberal positions and policies. Liberalism is everywhere, but it isn’t genuinely dominant. Liberalism lacks a coherent narrative in this country. Some of that has to do with the history of hypocrisy. Still, there is more to it than that.

      The 20th century was a confusing time for liberalism. In many ways, liberalism has become the rhetoric of empire, corporatism, or whatever; and at the same time liberalism is the only voice of criticism that much gets heard, as the left-wing has never regained its influence since the Cold War oppression.

      Ideology is a mass of confusion. Because of this, labels often seem meaningless. I’m sure much of this can be blamed on failure of education. Americans used to be more confident in what they thought liberalism meant, but I don’t know that was caused by any greater knowledge.

      It’s more of an issue of vision and imagination, as I see it. It has become harder for people to clearly see alternatives, even as people are ever more dissatisfied with the status quo. People just have the sense that there should be alternatives. Most Americans know there are problems to no end, but they don’t understand who or what should be blamed.

  4. I think that the other problem is the unwieldy combination of distrust of rationalism, combined with the greedy rich, have resulted in this scenario.

    In a way, this is a vicious cycle that demonstrates the Dunning Krueger effect of the political right. They are ignorant, but don’t realise how much.

    The Tea Party is a good example. They are contemptuous to younger citizens, scientific research, and pretty much everything that does not seem to fit their world view. Yet they desperately need to have good doctors and medical advances. Go to a Tea Party rally. Note the numbers of obese people there and the volume of medical equipment..

  5. It will take a long time to change the culture though.

    Generation Y and most of X I think will have to take over at some point. They were screwed over by the richer parts of the last generation.

  6. I’ve begun building my own website as well. It’s under construction and there’s nothing on it right now of course.

    I don’t think there’s anything better than wordpress, although I did buy my own name for a domain name and paid for cheap web hosting as well.

    • What do you plan to do with your website? Do you intend to start blogging?

      I agree about wordpress. I spent a lot of time looking around. I did blog at My Opera briefly and for time at a community that is now defunct. WordPress seems to be the best option for the average person.

  7. Yeah I plan to start blogging. Probably about personal stuff and maybe some professional as well.

    Drupal seems more complex and doesn’t do much right now that WordPress cannot.

    I bought a cheap theme as well for about $10 CAD.

    There are a few other things I looked at, but probably more advanced. The Genesis Framework, but it seemed too advanced. Mostly geared towards eBusiness.

    The other thing is that I wanted to buy my name in domain names (at least for Canada) in case someone else buys it (apparently there are people who do that – they buy names they think will sell later at a higher price).

  8. I’m actually worried about what to blog about these days.

    Controversial opinions these days apparently can harm job prospects. Employers check social media these days as well.

    Genesis is pretty advanced, so it’s not worth it unless you want to program. It does however lead to some very nice looking websites.

    • I have heard of such worries. My life is fortunately simpler. I’m not looking for a job and the job I have is a unionized government position. Even though I’m somewhat careful in what I write about, I don’t have to be overly concerned. It gives me a certain amount of freedom to write as I desire, within reasonable limits.

  9. Professionally I would hesitate to guess that I may be more muzzled. Apparently many companies refuse to let other people friend each other on Facebook for example.

    If you think about it, in a sense, it’s not 100% freedom of speech we have because we now have to “watch” what we put on social media or online in general. It can apparently harm professionally.

  10. I do feel like compared to the past as well, universities as whole seem to be more muzzled in their direction and their willingness to stand up to censorship.

    Tenure too seems to be under attack.

    • That is also reminiscent of the early Cold War. There was greater freedom in the latter 20th century, especially when the Cold War was winding down and after it ended. But then the War on Terror began. GenXers and Millennials were born during a brief period when oppression happened to be low in society.

  11. They got rid of tenure for example in Wisconsin.

    Anyways, this is worth a read:

    Likewise, across the US and increasingly Canada, there seems to be a huge attack on teachers as well, trying to portray them as parasites.

    Professionally though even for people like me, I have been told to watch what I say if I run a blog by my friends and people around me. Apparently 51% of employers said they had reconsidered hiring someone based on what they found online.

    • Tenure in the US became more fully established after WWII. It was offered to attract professors, as there was a short supply of them. The GI Bill created more students than there were professors to teach them. That shortage continued for a while.

      The problem is today there is no longer a shortage. In every type of work, there is a surplus. Employers have always used worker surpluses to take power, benefits, and good pay away from workers. Globalization magnifies this further. This is inherent to capitalism. But it took a while for capitalism to take over the universities.

      The University of Iowa here in my town just hired a corporate CEO to be president. He has absolutely no experience in managing an education institution.


      It has been a trend going on for a while. It used to be that professors held most of the positions of management. But it has become more common to have people specifically trained in management to be hired. All of this is inevitable in capitalism.

      On a related note, after minimum wage increases, McDonald’s have gotten rid of cashiers in some places. They have replaced them with touch screens to place orders. Workers have no leverage in this kind of economy. Not even professors have much leverage.

      Humans are increasingly irrelevant to capitalism, besides as consumers. In the US, the third biggest employer is the prison industry, and of course prisons are becoming the place to store all the surplus workers who end up in prison for doing illegal work because most of the legal employment disappeared from their communities.

      When humans are useless, what is done with them? You either put them in prisons, put them on welfare, or let them become homeless and maybe starve to death. That is the reality we are facing. I fear the rise of a fascist police state of the likes not seen before. You might feel lucky if all they do is allow you to starve to death.

      • It seems to be in the college scene, that increasingly, we are seeing a more and more bloated administration. Like hiring ten admins for ten admin positions when five will do. It’s redixulous. And the tuition climbs and the tenured profs’ salaries stagnate and even decline, and my classes are taught by minimum wage exploited adjuncts who are driving taxis at night

      • Increasingly the professors are less and less of a voice, it’s increasingly admins, and bloated admins. Like people are hiring admins and making up bullshit titles for all the admins. Admins everywhere! Whereas before you might have has director and assistant director… Now you have director, junior director, assistant director, junior assistant director, etc etc. Meanwhile professors are getting screwed over and tuition just keeps climbing

    • I think McDonalds is just using the machines as a convenient way to deflect. Even if the minimum wage was lower, they’d just introduce it in 2-3 years when the cost of the machines went down.

      • I don’t doubt that. These are changes that are happening no matter what. Corporations will always blame someone else. Even if there were no minimum wage at all, eventually most human workers won’t be able to compete with machines.

    • In light of my recent readings, this article does bring up at least one interesting point:

      “Next we wondered if temporarily changing people’s thought style would change their political opinions, so we asked participants to think analytically—even if that was the opposite of their own style. Then participants read articles about social issues like welfare and drug sentencing. The temporary analytic shift made people more likely to support the liberal side, and a temporary intuitive shift made them more likely to support the conservative side.”

      So, it really isn’t the West versus the rest. It is liberals or rather the liberal-minded and the rest. (By the way, most liberal-minded people don’t identify as liberal, not in the US anyway. If given the option in questionnaires, most Americans choose labels such as ‘independent’, ‘moderate’, and ‘progressive’—instead of either liberal or conservative.)

      This fits into the Moral Flynn Effect. Liberal-minded cognitive style is dependent on fluid intelligence. This includes analytical thought, but also such things as pattern recognition. This is the part of IQ that is increasing the most and the part that is least dependent on education and least culturally biased (people learn fluid intelligence probably more from peers and media, and it should be noted that media is becoming international and hence the sense of peer cohort is widening.). This is the part of IQ that is increasing in many countries around the world.

      The only way conservatives could possibly win the so-called “culture war” is by keeping the population literally stupid. They would have to stop the rising IQ and all that goes with it. Could this be why conservatives attack education so harshly, not so much for what it teaches but for what it represents. Education is a symbolic target, not unlike the Twin Towers, both representing liberal modernity. But a reactionary attack against a symbol doesn’t really change anything.

      The average IQ has been steadily rising across most populations for generations. It is growing the fastest among the most disadvantaged, because most of the factors holding IQ back are environmental. The average black already has a higher IQ than the average white of a few generations ago. What will this mean when even the most poor minorities have a higher average IQ than even the wealthiest whites of the past?

      Higher IQ hasn’t just been correlated to liberalism as a political label. More importantly, it is correlated to social liberalism. For example, studies have found that racists are on average lower IQ. This relates to other factors as well. Studies also have found that people who grow up in diverse communities tend to be more socially liberal as adults; and, if we are to extend our thought here, probably on average higher IQ.

      All of these factors are converging: rising average IQ, increasing social liberalism, growing diversity, etc. What will it all add up to? Is this the reason that so many of the old culture war issues no longer have the punch they once had? Homosexuality, pro-choice, interracial marriages—all of this has become increasingly normalized, some combination of accepted and tolerated, which is a massive leap forward from the past. This change does lead to loud reactionary voices, but they are fewer in number than they once were and more isolated.

      It does make one wonder if this trend will continue.



    • I get his point, but I don’t get that this guy is particularly smart or insightful.

      “So what most of us fail to understand is, a person cannot BE educated. Each individual must educate himself. Thus, to allow someone else to educate you is not education at all – it’s indoctrination.”

      That is bullshit. A great teacher most definitely can educate another. You could raise a human child with monkeys and a pile of books, but you aren’t going to get an educated adult human out of that situation. Part of education is teaching someone how to learn.

      “Now, I have no evidence to suggest that that’s what’s going on, but it wouldn’t be the first time that Cornel West has engaged in the tactic of dividing the vote. West joined forces with Ralph Nader in the 2000 election and helped to get George Bush elected”

      What a freaking idiot. If ignorant fucktards like this would actually vote for a real liberal, whether Nader or Sanders, then we wouldn’t have all these problems in the first place. That opinion piece demonstrates what is wrong with this country. He attacks a public personality like West while avoiding the substance of real issues.

    • Capitalism has already been tried. We know where it leads to. It seems to me that people are deluded if they believe it can lead to anything else. I’d prefer other countries not already fully invested in capitalism to try out entirely alternative economic experiments. The world needs radically new ideas right now. But no one asked for my opinion on the matter. Capitalism will have to run its course, until it fails catastrophically enough to force countries to try something new. Environmental problems (and the international conflicts that will follow) might bring that on sooner than some expect.

    • I think so. The nature of a Cold War is that there needs to be no overt conflict involved. It is all about vying for power, involving propaganda, social control, and covert operations. That said, the War On Terror probably is part of this new Cold War, if only indirectly. Even during the first Cold War, there was a lot of proxy conflicts, including wars that were fought over turf, from Vietnam to Korea, not to mention in South and Central America.

  12. It does look like more administration is everywhere in education, both for the schools and universities. Not sure why, but I have no doubt it has to do with corporate power.

    Apparently administration costs are a huge part of rising healthcare costs as well.

    • With all this new computerized technology, why can’t we get rid of most of the administration/management? Those should be easier jobs to get rid of than even the working class jobs. But for some reason as technology increases so does administration/management. And along with this new employment being created at the top there is ever more wealth being concentrated at the top. I see a pattern in this. You’d think so-called fiscally responsible conservatives would be bothered by this. Apparently not. One suspects it has nothing to do with actually saving money.

      • Maybe to give people jobs?

        I recall on a NR forum someone saying Japan had a more peaceful society because they gave people jobs more. Japan, for such a modern country, is very ”old” in many ways, including the uses of faxing machines and other dated stuff in their everyday lives. This results in people being employed rather than replaced by automation

  13. Something I was thinking… but i remember reading somewhere that people are more likely to abort babies with retardation and other mental disabilities, than they were to abort babies with just physical disabilities like blindness and cleft palate. Even now a lot of the scare propaganda targets people’s fear of having kids iwth mental disabilities (autism, etc) rather than say, blindness.

    I remember academic snarkign that people talking about down syndrome always talking and focusing on DS people’s mental retardation, erather than say, the many physical issues DS people have. He was being snarky, but I was intrigued on why us humans, really put a greater prenium on mental than physical ability in many ways. It almost seems preferable to be physically disabled but intelligent, than say, retarded but able to walk and do shit

    • It is not surprising that this what people prioritize in choosing to abort or not. People would make the same decision in relation to themselves. If you asked someone that they must choose between being physically handicapped or mentally impaired, almost everyone would choose the former. People connect human identity to the mind and hence the brain. You can chop off someone’s legs and arms and they will still feel like the same basic person, but take a bat to their head and they likely will be a new person, possibly a brain-dead person.

    • I think Republicans want to build border walls to the North and South for a simple reason.

      They know if they implement their full vision for America, a lot of Americans will be trying to escape across the borders into Canada and Mexico. They aren’t trying to keep terrorists and immigrants out. They intend to keep us all walled in.

      I’m only half joking. We really might get to that point sometime in the future. The US essentially is already a police state. It’s not as if our freedoms are likely to increase as time goes on. Quite the opposite, if anything.

  14. You may have a point. It may be like the Iron Curtain or the Berlin Wall, preventing Americans from heading to Canada for prosperity.

    Remember this?

    I suspect that in the coming years, the gap is only going to keep on growing.

    My real concern here is the direction that Canada is heading. Next month we have our elections. The question is will our right wing Prime Minister stay or be trampled out and a Social Democratic one take over?

    If so, we could see a direction towards Scandinavia. In that case the gap will not just grow, but accelerate. I suspect that even if Harper remains, we will be likely better off in most regards.

    • That could be said about many things, especially in the US. There are massive numbers of people in this country with various conditions and problems that don’t get the help they need or get abused, killed, etc. Imagine the list, for example, of homeless children who have died in America, not to mention those forced into prostitution or other horrendous fates. Also, consider that American prisons are filled with the mentally ill. Those are the lucky ones who didn’t get shot by the police or had some other bad ending.

  15. There are some things still that Canada does do better in terms of “for the people over corporations at times”.

    This for example would not be possible in the US:

    The American courts had originally blocked this last year:

    ON the other hand, Canada like the US is caught up in things like this:

    I just hope we get some sanity in our government.

    • What worries me is that maybe everything is going to get worse everywhere until either another world war or a global catastrophe. The forces at work in the world (neoconservatism, neoliberalism, corporatism, or whatever it is) are to powerful to be controlled by the citizens of any country. These are transnational concentrations of wealth and power, a continuation of centuries of European imperialism and colonialism. I fear that even the best of countries will only be able to hold out for so long.

  16. So, listen. A high IQ test score can be great news, and a low IQ test score can be devastating news.

    But you know what things can alter them? What race you are. What gender you are. How much reading you have under your belt, to date, and in what genres. Your culture, and the kinds of reasoning it emphasizes. Your economic class, and the kinds of problem-solving it required of you. What kind of music you’ve listened to before taking them. What kind of meals you’ve had that day, and how long ago. What your stress levels are like. Your level of focus. Test anxiety. Whether you’re more creative than a question’s authors. Having cognitive functioning that’s higher than anticipated for someone of your age/developmental level. Like, yes, the goal for IQ tests is to be an unbiased predictor of intellectual capacity, but the thing is–there’s a lot of research that supports the idea that they *aren’t*.

    If you want to be a theoretical physicist, figure out what coursework you need, what research experience you’ll want to accrue in grad school, what academic programs are out there; and then go give it a shot. IQ tests tell you a little bit about potential, sometimes, except when they don’t. If you can do the work, and want to, you can be a theoretical physicist. If you hit a point where you aren’t achieving the way you want to, and can’t find a way forward, or just don’t want it enough to stick it out–might be time to evaluate career paths as a physics teacher, or science journalist, or whatever.

    But nobody can tell you what profession you’re suited for, based on a single IQ test-score.

  17. So I went to my school’s job fairs, and I came away feeling absolutely demoralized. LOL.

    I basically feel umemployable in the private sector in conventional corporate jobs, with my major and experience. Everything is wither engineers, or admin stuff like HR, marketing. If I want to snag a corporate job I needed to major in engineering, or a major in the business school like marketing, supply chain management, management, etc:/
    But at the same time I feel like I don’t even want that. I’m just lookign at it for money on the table. We millenials are weird, we were raised to be lofty. but most of us are just settling into corporate drudgery. I know I woud just see my job as a day job, not as something to be passionate about, LOL.

    But idealism aside, realistically, none of these guys want a kid like me. It seems all the jobs are engineers or admins …

    So for now I’m really only looking at stuff with Uncle Sam (State Public Service departments, geospatial intelligence agency, US embassies) or NGO type of stuff.

    But the thing is I feel like I’m throwing stuff away. Like I’m just looking for a job to put food non the table, not fulfilling my ”potential” and real passions. Perhaps I’m American in that sense. But It just feels demoralizing to feel like most of my adult life will consist of slaving away at a corporation, tying to climb the corporate ladder. if I’m lucky.

    Maybe it’s becuse I’ve always had a contrarian, free-spirited personality, but still. At heart I’m a bit of an artsy-fartsy writing, creative type, lol. I just feel like I’m throwing it away ecept I can still see the possibility of ”making it” yet it is so slim and I am still lost. My stories are stuck becaue I haven’t sorted out my own ideologies, for example

    • There is something strange about our society. I look at most of the work done, whether in the public or private spheres. Most of it seems pointless and irrelevant. Just busy work. We humans are afraid of what would happen if we stopped working. Capitalism is simply the way we ensure no one stops working long enough to think how fucked up it all is.

      We have enough wealth and resources that we could create a society akin to Start Trek: The Next Generation. But if we gave people that kind of freedom, they would start thinking all kinds of crazy ideas. They might start demanding freedom and democracy or even justice and fairness. Those in power can’t allow that. If we went down that road of free time and free thought, the entire status quo would be upended. We might suddenly decide to stop submitting to the ruling elite and turn to self-governance or something radical like that.

      Without an oppressed underclass of laboring masses, capitalism would be impossible. But without an oppressed underclass of laboring masses, capitalism would be unnecessary.


  18. I think a lot of it is that there are many people who are uncomfortable in an increasingly multicultural country, and in a world in which the United States is no longer the world’s policeman and steward and instead functions in a multipolar world economically and politically. They feel that something has been taken away from them, and they look to a demagogue like Trump to reassert their “right” to cheap gas, lots of guns, etc., and in a larger sense some sort of superiority they feel they’ve lost – a “loss” they blame on “liberals” and whichever scapegoats they can blame it on. For these people, life isn’t a balance of interests and a series of hard choices; it’s more like a Tom Clancy novel in which the United States always wins and any subtlety of thought is regarded as weak and a waste of time.
    Unlike · 6 · Reply · More · 10 hours ago

    Jen Burns
    From what I’ve heard his supporters say, they like that he isn’t a politician. They see him as a smart, successful business man who can turn around the economy. They think he “tells it like it is.” He plays on their racism, fuels their hatred for Obama with the birther nonsense, and gets them all riled up about immigrants getting free stuff that THEY are paying for while taking their jobs. They want a President who comes off as the biggest bully on the block, that everyone will be afraid to mess with. They don’t strike me as particularly smart people.
    Like · 9 · Reply · More · 9 hours ago

    Renée Hoppe
    What she said.^
    Like · 3 · Reply · More · 9 hours ago

    Brian Yarbrough
    you have to remind people hes not a self made millionaire. he was born rich, filed bankruptcy 4 times to avoid his taxes, talks with a 4th grade education and just tries to get louder and bully thru arguments when hes intellectually beaten.this man doesnt understand the constitution, or the law, and hes talking out his ass. 2 month before he announced his candidacy he said the economy oft his country was better under the democrats.. if he is a plant to take attention for the other candidates, hes doing a great job, hope he drops out and leaves them high and dry
    Like · 5 · Reply · More · 9 hours ago
    1 reply

    Jen Burns
    I don’t think so. I think Trump really does want to be the most powerful man in the world. I can’t wait until Bernie eats him alive in the debates.
    Like · 3 · Reply · More · 9 hours ago

    Cambria E. Jensen
    A smart Republican sounds like an oxymoron…
    Like · 2 · Reply · More · 9 hours ago

    Kristen Hall
    From what I have witnessed, those supporting Trump are staunch Republicans who will vote for anyone running with an R next to their name and are backing him because they are too stubborn to admit that he is a horrible, unqualified candidate. I thought for sure his running was an elaborate attention-seeking prank, intended only to bring him more fame. And then people actually started supporting him so he just kept going with it. I keep telling myself, as a whole, Americans are too smart to elect him. I really hope that is true.
    Like · 4 · Reply · More · 7 hours ago
    1 reply

    Nikkey Bargeron-Smith
    People are angry. Plus they like Trump because he is rich. They think that if he is rich people make our government rich. But what’s the purpose of a rich government if your government never plans to share it with the people?
    Edited · Like · 3 · Reply · More · 6 hours ago

    Malcolm Stuart
    You don’t have to be stupid to be a racist. It helps, but it isn’t a requirement
    Like · 3 · Reply · More · 5 hours ago

    Joanna Langworthy
    Hey. Since when are we a group of people who believe everything we read just because it’s on the Internet? Be smarter than that. If you talk to Trump supporters, it’s easy to see why they like him. And it’s not because he’s rich. It’s not because he’s racist.

    Trump supporters are fed up with the backroom deals in DC and think that electing Trump will shake up incestuous deals that are going back for years and years. (They think those deals are what really run the show.) They do not think that will happen with Bernie, because he’s “been in DC for too long already”. The loud, bombastic Trump persona they see as an act or as a “fun”, entertaining bonus, but it has little to do with the actual reason they support him. The racist opinions (the opinions that people like him for racist reasons) are the media portraying the weirdo fringe of his supporters as the majority. Don’t fall into their trap.

    Why is this important? Why must we have an accurate assessment of Trump supporters? If the primaries were tomorrow, it will be a Bernie/ Trump election. It is imperative that we have an accurate assessment of the other side.
    Like · 2 · Reply · More · 4 hours ago

    Joanna Langworthy
    Talk to Trump supporters face to face, and you will quickly see that I am giving accurate information. Listen to the media or only talk to Trumpette Trolls, and you’ll say I’m full of crap. Your choice.
    Like · 1 · Reply · More · 4 hours ago

    Malcolm Stuart
    If their primary reason is anger at the status quo, then they could come over to Bernie
    Like · 2 · Reply · More · 4 hours ago
    1 reply

    Sean Vernon
    The issue is there are smart people that don’t like paying taxes. Those people will generally vote republican and Trump runs as GOP. Also entrepreneurs and business people generally read business books and Trump has several. I’ve personally read 2 of them. They were fun and I had a favorable impression of him in some ways until all the bigotry.
    Like · 2 · Reply · More · 4 hours ago

    Joanna Langworthy
    Trump is not going to lower taxes on the rich. He is going to raise them. He has stated this in the debates.
    Like · Reply · More · 4 hours ago

    Jenny Harrell
    People support Trump for many of the same reasons we support Bernie though on the complete other end of the political spectrum. Many see Trump as not your typical status quo politician. Many think having a “successful” (used very loosely here lol) businessman as POTUS would be a good thing. And sadly, Trump is also resonating with closet racists who think all the Mexicans need to be deported and read “Make America great again” as “Make America white again.” Lastly, there are some who just gravitate to his “no f**ks given” attitude. As for me, I stand with Bernie because I give a shit about people other than myself and I believe Mr. Spock-“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few.”
    ‪#‎FeeltheBern‬ ‪#‎BernieSanders2016‬ ‪#‎BernBabyBern‬ ‪#‎TheRevolutionWillNotBeTelevised‬ ‪#‎ItHasBeenMobilized‬
    Like · 4 · Reply · More · 4 hours ago

    Michelle Turner
    I can say that growing up in a republican Christian home, republicans Christians follow whoever they are told to by their pastor. All I ever heard growing up was vote for so and so because Pat Robertson and the pastor says so. No thought given, no answers given. No explanation as to why…… simply “this IS how you will vote” period
    Like · 1 · Reply · More · 3 hours ago
    3 replies

    Liz Clark
    I don’t understand it. I mean he’s a business man not a politician, he’s racist and sexist which we don’t need in our country that is already in a divided state as is. He doesn’t even answer the questions he’s asked, just gives more questions.
    Like · Reply · More · 1 hour ago

    Eleanor Hutcheson
    While I do know people who support Trump, I do not know any people I would consider smart who support Trump. He says he is an outsider from the political game — but that is BS he plays the game very well and has donated for years to both sides so whoever is in power “owes” him. If he is a elected President I will live elsewhere for 4 years.
    Like · 1 · Reply · More · 46 minutes ago

    Gloria Patricia Dawn Scott
    Thanks everyone for your help. I think I understand a little better now. It really warms my heart to speak with level-headed, intelligent people that share the same beliefs as I do. I think if we continue spreading the word about Bernie in a non-condensing way, we can all be a huge help to his campaign!

    ‪#‎bernie2016‬ ‪#‎feelthebern‬
    Like · Reply · More · 45 minutes ago

    Phoebe Cassandra Smith
    I think a lot of Trump supporters have the feeling that they somehow deserve more and want to lash out at someone. Trump is great at lashing out. If they were more rational they would look at how our system has been rigged so that the rich can continue to get richer at the expense of everyone else. It is smart to be angry but not smart to blame immigrants, etc the way Trump does.
    Like · Reply · More · 20 minutes ago

    Nikkey Bargeron-Smith
    I think ppl think that since Trump is rich he will make our country rich. Therefore they are rich. But what’s the point if the government doesn’t share the wealth with the ppl!!!!????
    Like · Reply · More · 19 minutes ago

    Alli Drummond
    From what I see, from my friends on FB who are voting Trump – or GOP really, it’s all about selfishness. It seems to me there are a lot of white Christian people who are afraid they one day they will be the minority, and they’ll be treated the way they treat the minorities now. That’s the short story to my opinion, but I feel it’s pretty valid. I say this as a white Christian woman. – Just this morning, while expressing disgust at Ahmed’s arrest, I debated a conservative friend of mine. This man, this FATHER, was not disgusted or appalled at the arrest, he was appalled that a Muslim kid would get an invite to the White House, while other smart white kids do not.
    Edited · Like · Reply · More · 7 minutes ago

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  19. I’ve decided to start an open thread:


    My main inspiration is hbdchick’s blog. She had an open thread and it seemed to work well there. People were always bringing up various things and an open thread creates a space for the random or off-topic comments.

    I wanted to do this for a long time. But I’m naturally lazy and put things off. I figured I had to just create a page for it and not put too much thought into it. It is needed.

    My main purpose is that I want to keep my regular posts from getting too cluttered up. Seeing hundreds of comments on a single post might discourage some people from commenting, especially when the discussion is going off in various directions that have no connection to the post itself. I want readers to feel welcome to join in, rather than overwhelmed by massive number of comments under a single post.

    So, in the future, I’d like to keep comments on specific posts as relevant as possible. All other comments should be posted at the open thread. I don’t like rules, but this rule should help clean up the chaos. It doesn’t mean that every comment to a post has to be directly or entirely on-topic, although it should at least resonate with or somehow be inspired by the subject matter in the post itself.

    I also wanted somewhere I could throw out my own thoughts on various things. Sometimes I have something on my mind, but I don’t want to write a post about it or I’m not yet ready to write about it. The open thread will be a place to throw out interesting ideas and tidbits, just whatever I come across, probably some links and maybe sometimes a quote.

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