Saturday, September 12, 2009

9.12. Now what?

First, the nice young lady above is Lori Harfenist of The Resident. I imagine a lot of people, whether they lived in NYC in 2001 or not, share her view that fretting about conspiracies is redundant, while allowing that a generally corrupt government is likely. I wonder if she actually does look at things that way, given how she characterizes suspicion of the government, and I wonder what she and Bob from Pacifica would make of each other's views.

As you may have noticed, I closed the comments on Rob's 9.10 post, "Riding old 9/11". For now, comments still aren't moderated. I'd prefer to avoid that, and I don't want to have to reprimand anybody, regular visitors especially. I regard all the persons who participated in the previous comments as regular visitors, and feel all are due respect, and need to offer it in kind.

Over at A Tiny Revolution, Bernard Chazelle posted "Everything's a Lie" discussing some the same issues Rob and the commenters touched upon below, in Rob's post.

Here's Chazelle:

But here's the funny thing. People don't seem to mind [i.e.the lying] very much. This is pure Hegelian alienation: the acceptance that some creatures, by virtue of their function status, are normatively alien from us. They may do things (lie, kill, steal) that no one else would be allowed even to consider. Normative is the key word here, because they can't just do anything. They are strict norms of conduct they must abide by. So a senator who steals a stamp may go to jail, but if the same senator pushes for a billion-dollar bill to favor a baby-killing (military) industry that will make him mega-rich once he leaves office, that's fine. He can go on and give speeches about taking on the baby killers. If a president lies about his intern's extracurriculars, he gets impeached. But if he lies about a bogus threat and bombs the crap out of the Sudan, that's OK. So it's not true that anything goes. The modalities of lying have to be accepted. It's what you might call a normative alienation. See the division of labor: they get to lie and the little guy doesn't, but the little guy gets to approve the norms and they don't. This applies not just in politics but across all modes of power.

Here's part of what I wrote over at ATR:

I don't know if Walter Mondale was uniformly honest, I imagine he wasn't. But he was honest about the possibility of raising taxes, and got walloped in '84. Bill Clinton promised everybody that he would be a warm, huggable kind of conservative-- essentially-- and was wildly successful.

I'm lying myself, because that's not what Clinton said in '92, but a more accurate description of how he refashioned himself in '95.

If regular readers of lefty blogs all sit on their hands and stay out of the 2010 midterms, I'm guessing this will reduce turn-out by 1 or 2 percent at the most. If those same blog readers go and vote for whoever among 3rd party candidates make the ballot-- even if it's libertarians-- then presumably 3rd party candidates might poll at 1.5 to 2.0 percent nationally, instead of 0.5 to 1.0 per cent.

But some liberals would blanch at the thought of doing this, in part out of fear that the TV talking heads would spin it as support for social security privatization. (But most who think of doing it but decide against it, I'd wager, would only stop themselves because of the thought that it might mean the republican might get in or stay in.)

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At September 13, 2009 3:16 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

While I am leery of conspiracy theories on general principle I do believe that conspiracies do exist. There are plenty of examples. I suppose the trick is the ability to decipher what is a conspiracy and what likely isn’t. This in regard to Harfinest.

It’s interesting how Harfinest sounds bitter about 9/11 and as horrible as 9/11 was people in Afghanistan have been enduring this kind of thing for just about ever what with the Russian invasion and now the American invasion so I can’t get too broken up over Harfinest’s 9/11 experience.

Generally speaking I think the Republican versus Democrat thing is a huge waste of energy and time. From my point of view the only thing of real importance is our foreign policy because I believe our ability to resolve domestic issues hangs on our foreign policy but far more importantly to my way of thinking is that the endless slaughter and the suffering we cause has to stop. And it is in the arena of U.S. foreign policy that we find identical thinking in both political parties.

At September 13, 2009 7:40 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

To me Lori Harfenist is sometimes interesting, other times more pedestrian. She has a video clip she calls "greenwashed" in which she intelligently suggests that exhortations to regular people to "do something" to save the earth have an insincere quality to them.

She does a lot of clips of interviews with people on the street in Manhattan, which are generally more interesting than the UPI videos I sometimes embed.

Her recent(Aug 20th,09) video asking people about Afghanistan, sadly, never touches about whether the war is just plain wrong, nor even the more limited questions of whether the Afghan people resent our presence, or the airstrikes.

"Afghanistan: Ready for Decades-Long War? aug 20th"

At September 13, 2009 9:16 PM, Anonymous Jenny said...

I kind of disagree with the greenwashed video. Yes it's up to the government and corporations when it comes to policies,but guess what? the government and corporations aren't responding to these matters so it is up to us to push and fight for good environmental policies.

At September 14, 2009 6:34 AM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

Hi Jenny,
Possibly I am misconstruing her meaning in "greenwashed", but I take it to mean that the "promoting awareness" angle is a substitute for action by the more powerful.

In other words, she's suggesting that the real purpose of the ads is to encourage people to see individual actions are more significant than large-scale government orchestrated solutions, and that is the proper way to look at things, as opposed to pressuring governments and corporations to be more responsible.

And you are pointing out they're not mutually exclusive. Is that right?

At September 14, 2009 12:25 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

I liked the other two videos though I must say I find some of the man in the street interviews to be quite distressing. On the other hand it seems that a lot of people have a fairly good grasp that our reason for being in Afghanistan isn’t what they are being told the reason is even if they don’t know the particulars.

I agree with Jenny that our politicos need to be prodded by the public if you want any concessions from the Democratic leadership. I’m not saying it would work but it couldn’t hurt. Still, the video on green made some excellent points.


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