Monday, July 18, 2016

10. Dissidents in American Politics: Beliefs, Facts, and Future Shock

"Dissidents" are people who actively challenge established doctrine, policy, or institutions. This post is the tenth and final in a series of 10 posts regarding the confusing "revolutions" of the 2016 Presidential Election.

That there is a chance the United States could experience an authoritarian revolution shouldn't be a surprise, as was recently pointed out in in The New York Times article Why We Need to Pick Up Alvin Toffler's Torch:
More than 40 years ago, Alvin Toffler, a writer who had fashioned himself into one of the first futurists, warned that the accelerating pace of technological change would soon make us all sick. He called the sickness “future shock”....

...Future shock wasn’t simply a metaphor for our difficulties in dealing with new things. It was a real psychological malady, the “dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future...“unless intelligent steps are taken to combat it...millions of human beings will find themselves increasingly disoriented, progressively incompetent to deal rationally with their environments.”

...It seems clear that his diagnosis has largely panned out, with local and global crises arising daily from our collective inability to deal with ever-faster change.

But even though these and bigger changes are just getting started...futurism has fallen out of favor.
The article was written by author Farhad Manjoo who wrote the book True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society in which he explains that the advent of the popular internet "when we dissolved the mainstream media into prickly niches, and when each of us began to create and transmit our own pictures and sounds, we eased the path through which propaganda infects the culture."

He points out instead of becoming better researchers because of access to more sources, we choose from the confusing milieu a few sources that reinforce our view of the world. We have ceased to seek objective knowledge in favor of virtual worlds supported by propaganda.

And so we have an early 21st Century Voter Revolution against the American Academic Oligarchists. It is dependent upon and stimulated by propaganda selectively gathered using technology created by American Shareholder Capitalists to create and reinforce beliefs.

Manjoo in another article explains why in much of the rest of the world the American Shareholder Capitalists have created a potential revolution against themselves:
There is Facebook co-opting your news media. Amazon is dominating book sales, while YouTube and Netflix are taking over television and movies. And the smartphone, arguably the most important platform for entertainment in this era, is controlled almost entirely by Apple and Google.

This backdrop of social anxiety explains why Europe is on the march against American tech giants. European governments have been at the forefront of an effort to limit the reach of tech companies, most often through privacy regulations and antitrust investigations....

The European efforts are just a taste of a coming global freak-out over the power of the American tech industry. Over the next few years, we are bound to see increasing friction between the tiny group of tech companies that rule much of the industry and the governments that rule the lands those companies are trying to invade. What is happening in Europe is playing out in China, India and Brazil and across much of the rest of the globe, as well.

...Over the last decade, we have witnessed the rise of what I like to call the Frightful Five. These companies — Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, Google’s parent — have created a set of inescapable tech platforms that govern much of the business world. ...These companies thoroughly dominate the news and entertainment industries, they rule advertising and retail sales, and they are pushing into health care, energy and automobiles.

“What’s happening right now is the nation-state is losing its grip,” said Jane K. Winn, also a professor at the University of Washington School of Law, who studies international business transactions. “One of the hallmarks of modernity is that you have a nation-state that claims they are the exclusive source of a universal legal system that addresses all legal issues. But now people in one jurisdiction are subject to rules that come from outside the government — and often it’s companies that run these huge networks that are pushing their own rules.”
The rest of the world through their nation-states are beginning to respond to the threat. "The Ugly American" now has the face of an iPhone, the threat of a privacy-stealing Google, and the depth and brains of a Tweet. Unlike the average American, the rest of the world factually experiences the impact in its full context.

Whether it's the Koch Brothers or Apple and Google using Congress, it is a fact that American Shareholder Capitalists have successfully bypassed the natural response of the American Academic Oligarchists to limit or tax excess corporate retained profits and regulate the operations of and limit the size of international corporations.

The political result in 2016 America has been the demagoguery of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

What we needed were 21st Century anti-trust laws and tax laws that heavily penalize Shareholder Capitalist bad behavior not reward good behavior. Those laws can only come when the revolution is also against members of Congress and state legislators.

That is not the revolution of the Romantic Populists.

It was the revolution of the Mythical Reactionaries. But they were confused by the belief, the mythology, that every American through diligence, hard work, and an adherence to "Christian" values can live a secure rewarding life - they believed the fictional "Horatio Alger story" despite all the factual evidence to the contrary that has existed since the Pilgrims landed.

In the middle of it all, Trump’s politics of aggrieved white nationalism - labeling black people criminals, Latinos rapists, and Muslims terrorists - succeeded because the party’s voting base was made up of the people who themselves or their parents in 1964 opposed civil rights and who left the Democratic Party for the Republican Party of Barry Goldwater.

Capitalizing on the frustration that belief inherently creates, the conservative Shareholder Capitalists have hijacked the Mythical Reactionary revolution to achieve their own ends eliminating two centuries of balance between the Shareholder Capitalists and the Academic Oligarchists.

An authoritarian revolution establishing a President who uses force to bring things into alignment with that Horatio Alger mythology seems the easy way, another untruth seen as fact by 21st Century Americans who have all learned through electronic media - movies, TV, and games.

It is simply fact that the only way Shareholder Capitalist Donald Trump, who knows next to nothing about government, could somehow restrain his fellow Shareholder Capitalists is through the authoritarian revolution he has promised his dissident Mythical Reactionary followers.

If, as demanded by Bernie Sanders' Romantic Populist followers, Hillary Clinton is going to significantly rein in American Shareholder Capitalists she will need new Congressional majorities, and new state legislators and new governors, all put in place by Bernie's Romantic Populists working diligently over the next four years.

The only alternative would be if events force Hillary Clinton to take even a limited authoritarian stance similar to that of Franklin Roosevelt who had to threaten the Supreme Court with a court packing plan.

The real question is: How do we undo the negative impacts of the Information Age?

We have to understand that the Information Age has effectively traded the pre-20th Century anonymity for the constant gathering of information on our daily activities which is being used by
  • Shareholder Capitalists to make greater profits creating greater economic disparity between the "Stinking Rich" and the rest of us and is now about to extend the effects of automation into the Information Age workforce, eliminating jobs for tech workers; and 
  • the Academic Oligarchists to find potential threats to public safety creating greater risks of misuse to restrict basic freedoms. 
Can these negative impacts be undone without eliminating the benefits of the Information Age? That is the question to be answered by Americans who will be living in the second quarter of the 21st Century. But there are questions to be answered in 2016.

Does the iPhone generation really want authoritarian Presidential intervention in American society? Will a majority of  voters really want to risk having President-for-Life Donald Trump find the answers for them?

We'll find out in November. But if you didn't see it, you should watch Hillary Clinton's acceptance speech in its entirety:

No comments: