Survival of the US as a united entity

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Sean in Ottawa
Survival of the US as a united entity

I think that when a population gap grows to a certain point where there is no common understanding, eventually they cannot remain in a united country. This is how empires have ended. The differences become unresolvable, the country ungovernable, the national government is either shifting incoherently or lacks legitimacy consistently in one region.

We are not talking about some misunderstandings we are speaking about a lack of acceptance of any fact or source in support of the other – by definition.

The United States is now in such a crisis. It is not like previous ones. The US, and many countries, has huge differences in terms of desired directions for their country. These have long been open to discussion and negotiation. There have been lies and ongoing duplicity. This crisis is different and one that, prior to Trump, had not reached this point previously.

The issue is agreement on enough stated facts to have any productive engagement at all. It is no longer even an advantage that they speak the same language since they cannot agree on any narrative of fact. There are no commonly accepted sources of facts either so there is no future source of a theoretical compromise. They no longer fight over a story going to the media but which media is legitimate – in absolute terms. The US now has two unreconcilable universes of facts and sets of sources of facts. There is no basis for conversation.

One reality has to rule the other for the US to be a single country, but each has no hope of ever winning over the other through logic or persuasion. Both look at power by the other as a coup based on falsehoods. There is no purpose in an election campaign since nothing the other says can be meaningful.

Are things as bad as I say? If so I will argue that this is the start of the end time for the US. There is no way out of it. Unless the US can find a way back to some common agreements about the present, it cannot have a semblance of democracy to consider directions for the future. We can argue about the fairness and the function of their democracy but it is based on a consensus among enough people that it is viable in order for it to continue.

In fact, this collapse of a common narrative is unprecedented anywhere in the world although it is starting in other places at the same time.

It is certainly possible to govern a country where there is this wide disagreement on facts, but the way to do so is brute power. The two sides, where there are competing universes of facts and sources, cannot be represented in elections. One has to suppress the other. This approach to reality requires dictatorship or separation.

It is possible that the red states and the blue states could co-exist as separate countries but they cannot exist in the same country where they compete in elections without any sources of accepted information. There must be a meeting place of common fact upon which differing opinions are based.

I am not raising alarm over an issue of trust. This is further than that. This is the consequence of all negative news being defined as fake news. It is not fake because it is not true as truth has no longer any meaning, it is fake because there is a decision not to believe anything that as negative. This is more akin to the religious wars of the past than any democratic disagreement you may find.

If a substantial number of US citizens subscribe to this approach to what is real and unreal, they will make the continuity of the US as a single country with differing opinions competing in elections unsustainable.

So, the question is, how far are we from that? I think not very far. What is the exact point of no return? I think I can point to it. The point of no return is when the US has an election that the loser cannot recognize as legitimate – in any way. The last election was not questioned by the Democrats in terms of result, although they questioned the fairness.

What if Trump wins a new term? Will the Democrats accept that as a legitimate democratic expression? I doubt it. They will see the propaganda and the lies of a four-year presidency, they will question the changes that Trump wants to bring to the electoral process. They may not accept the result.

What if Trump loses? His followers (armed to the teeth and hard to control, even if Trump wanted to control them), will not accept a loss. They have been trained for the last year to see everything negative as fake and every stated fact as a conspiracy. A win by the Democrats, no matter how convincing in numbers will be a coup of the deep state.

At present the winner is governing (in a fashion) and the loser is imagining governing after the next election. But if that election cannot produce a result that the other is willing to accept, you will have reached the point where the US as an enterprise is no longer viable.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I'm inclined to agree, for the most part.  I think the U.S. is moving further and further from a "normal" distribution of opinion (and electoral intent) on the spectrum from left to right, and closer to a "bipolar" distribution -- the classic "you either love it or you hate it".  What's always fascinated me is how close the numbers consistently seem to come to 50-50.

Conversely, while it's true that folk seem very intolerant of their political "other", we mostly do seem to coexist in terms of things that we might expect to me even more important -- atheists and evangelicals, vegans and meat eaters, etc.  Not that there's no overlaps, of course.  :0

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I'm inclined to agree, for the most part.  I think the U.S. is moving further and further from a "normal" distribution of opinion (and electoral intent) on the spectrum from left to right, and closer to a "bipolar" distribution -- the classic "you either love it or you hate it".  What's always fascinated me is how close the numbers consistently seem to come to 50-50.

Conversely, while it's true that folk seem very intolerant of their political "other", we mostly do seem to coexist in terms of things that we might expect to me even more important -- atheists and evangelicals, vegans and meat eaters, etc.  Not that there's no overlaps, of course.  :0

I have been reading studies about how the polarization is reaching the point where once people know the political view no other contact is possible --the difference is unreconcilable. We are at the point where each does ntosee the other as having a different point of view but that the other is a traitor and/or stupid to the point if not possible engagement.

 

I think a lot of difference is functional but that the US as it polarizes is flirting with the outer edge of that such that they cannot function in the same space and do not even want to.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
We are at the point where each does ntosee the other as having a different point of view but that the other is a traitor and/or stupid to the point if not possible engagement.

I'm still not disagreeing, but I'm still pointing out that that's true of vegan vs. meat eater or evangelist vs. atheist.  There's no middle ground for either of those, but people seem to manage.

Although, to be fair, when there *is* a conflict, I suppose it comes back to politics and the idea of one choice for all.  I don't care if someone wants to eat Tofurkey, or worship Jesus, so long as I don't have to, and I hope that they can similarly accept my choice to eat salmon, or not worship Jesus.  But if we're talking about a new law about what can be sold in supermarkets, or prayer in schools, then I suppose it's all politics in the end.

cco

The red state/blue state division seems rather simplistic to me, and I say that as someone who grew up in a red state. Urban/suburban/rural is more relevant (note how the swing states are those with a fairly even balance in density). As appealing as it is, when looking at the electoral vote map, to imagine America splitting nicely into Trump-America and Clinton-America, the divide is neither that geographically clear nor that consistent. West Virginia had been overwhelmingly Democratic (even resisting the 1980 Reagan landslide) for most of the 20th century, and it provided Trump's largest margin of victory. Many of America's most Republican southern states have Democratic fortresses in their largest cities. Pennsylvania went for Trump narrowly in 2016, but Philadelphia is as solid a Democratic stronghold as it gets. Same with Michigan and Detroit, or Ohio and Cleveland.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Well, when the Great Divide Act of 2018 becomes law, it's for sure that some people will have to (or just want to) move.  It could literally give a whole new meaning to voting with your feet.

josh

Lincoln should have let the south go.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Technically, he let some of them go.

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
We are at the point where each does ntosee the other as having a different point of view but that the other is a traitor and/or stupid to the point if not possible engagement.

I'm still not disagreeing, but I'm still pointing out that that's true of vegan vs. meat eater or evangelist vs. atheist.  There's no middle ground for either of those, but people seem to manage.

Although, to be fair, when there *is* a conflict, I suppose it comes back to politics and the idea of one choice for all.  I don't care if someone wants to eat Tofurkey, or worship Jesus, so long as I don't have to, and I hope that they can similarly accept my choice to eat salmon, or not worship Jesus.  But if we're talking about a new law about what can be sold in supermarkets, or prayer in schools, then I suppose it's all politics in the end.

I think the difference is that I am speaking about facts that ought to be and normally are verifiable as opposed to beliefs and opinions.

It is one thing to disagree on if you believe in eating or not eating animals. This is different. It is more like the difference between acknowleding that the animals exist or that other people are eating them than whether you agree with and want to eat them yourself.

News about concrete events is now beyond agreement when it used to be just views about what they mean or what will happen tomorrow. There used to be substantial agreement on the facts.

Sean in Ottawa

cco wrote:

The red state/blue state division seems rather simplistic to me, and I say that as someone who grew up in a red state. Urban/suburban/rural is more relevant (note how the swing states are those with a fairly even balance in density). As appealing as it is, when looking at the electoral vote map, to imagine America splitting nicely into Trump-America and Clinton-America, the divide is neither that geographically clear nor that consistent. West Virginia had been overwhelmingly Democratic (even resisting the 1980 Reagan landslide) for most of the 20th century, and it provided Trump's largest margin of victory. Many of America's most Republican southern states have Democratic fortresses in their largest cities. Pennsylvania went for Trump narrowly in 2016, but Philadelphia is as solid a Democratic stronghold as it gets. Same with Michigan and Detroit, or Ohio and Cleveland.

I do not suggest that opinions are not diverse within states but there are majorities in these states and they are governed as states. Those states are making state law and they are having a huge influence over federal elections. The idea that individual states could be divided is less realistic than staying or going on their own.

I am not saying the US will split up, but increasingly it is looking like reconciliation is less likely than a split which is quite something. It would be messy. But now it is looking no less messy than how the results of the next election will be handled.

For his selfish purpose Trump has divided the US in ways that are impossible to see how they may be healed.

Rev Pesky

Well, Sean, I think you're on to something, but there are limiting factors. In many countries, people of different views are separated by geography. As cco has pointed out, that's not really true in the USA. I think one could say that the west coast of the USA seems to be more or less similar politically, but most states are mixtures of political belief.

One way to perhaps get back to some normalcy would be to change the way states handle the Electoral College. Right now most states award all of their electoral votes based on who won the popular vote in the state, but there's no law that says they have to. They could award the votes in the same percentage as the popular vote. 

No more red or blue states, but states with a mixture of both. 

At the same time, I think you may be right that it's too late. The USA is so riven with intractable issues I don't see how they can fix themselves. Think of the issue of blacks in the US. What's going to solve that problem? 

And I for one, don't want to be around when the shooting starts. Canada will be accepting, like it or not, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of refugees. And they could very well bring the battle across the border with them.

Let's hope you're wrong, Sean, let's hope you're wrong.

Sean in Ottawa

Rev Pesky wrote:

Well, Sean, I think you're on to something, but there are limiting factors. In many countries, people of different views are separated by geography. As cco has pointed out, that's not really true in the USA. I think one could say that the west coast of the USA seems to be more or less similar politically, but most states are mixtures of political belief.

One way to perhaps get back to some normalcy would be to change the way states handle the Electoral College. Right now most states award all of their electoral votes based on who won the popular vote in the state, but there's no law that says they have to. They could award the votes in the same percentage as the popular vote. 

No more red or blue states, but states with a mixture of both. 

At the same time, I think you may be right that it's too late. The USA is so riven with intractable issues I don't see how they can fix themselves. Think of the issue of blacks in the US. What's going to solve that problem? 

And I for one, don't want to be around when the shooting starts. Canada will be accepting, like it or not, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of refugees. And they could very well bring the battle across the border with them.

Let's hope you're wrong, Sean, let's hope you're wrong.

I am not predicting shooting -- that is an unlikely and remote possible outcome. The US is very tied to propaganda and still has trauma from their civil war.

My point is more that a coherent government is impossible, not sustainable and that this division Trump has feed is not resolvable when you now have permission to believe whatever you want and no sources of facts can exist to draw people back to a common starting point.

I do not see there being a clean division -- when I am speaking of red and blue states but the majority are clearly majority one way or the other. The cities in the blue states and the rural parts of red states are outvoted by the state majorities.

My point is if this cannot be resolved there are a number of possible outcomes:

1) civil unrest / violence -- not coordinated vicil war but significant. We are already seeing this and it has always been there. But this fuels it such that it will get worse and each will believe stories that the other does not recognize.

2) Political division -- this is remote but a logical consideration if this impasse prevents the country of governing effectively to the point where the quality of life of a majority is affected. I think this problem is already underway and it is only a matter of time before people not see that this may be the only way out -- we are seeing some of this as well. The form of political division that you will most likely see in the US is a recognition that national agreement is not possible. The Republicans want to diminish the national government. You will see the division when Democrats (whose strong states tend to have more money) give up and agree with them. They will see that they can achieve things at the State level and loosen the bonds of the federal government knowing that consensus is no longer possible at a federal level. Whille the US may have the same colour on the map and a single national government, that government would be increasingly meaningless as individual states take on more power. A formal political division is harder to contemplate and the risk of violence so great that the reduction of the federal government i a more likely outcome. The effecitve result is that over time these become really different countries with different values over time. I can see a political rupture after a century of a retreat by the federal government where consensus is increasingly impossible.

3) Unrecoverable Non-function of government: Another option is also something we are seeing the potential start of -- keeping things as they are but having the federal government weaken due to gridlock, disagreement and political paralysis. Effectively the US would weaken economically, politically to the point where the bonds with the people themselves loosen. This will be as a result of the fact that the government cease to be effective and unable to manage on behalf of the people. A 100 years of the rpesent situation could be enough to break it down. Again -- if they cannot fix the present loss of a common foundation of reality, they can never find enough agreement to stop this.

Trump, if he cannot destroy the whole world, may be the marker of the start of the end of the US. The decline will take time but it is his reckless destruction of any basis for the US to continue as a common idea, that will doom the country to eventually over enough decades to no longer be viable politically or culturally. I think all the patriotism we see now makes it unthinkable but the fires he is stoking cannot burn out becuase the water to put them out is this common ability to return to at least some widely agreed facts and narrative. The United States is a tough beast and will take a long time to die but what Trump is doing risks becoming terminal soon if it is not already.

The problem today is that the other narrative is increasingly unrealistic. US people ought to be very worried. The dynamic is serious because the division is so incredibly close to equal when it comes to power. The US is literally facing a political/cultural impass that is unsustainable and a where the stalemate is is such that is is also unresolveable so they cannot live with it and they cannot fix it.

So now Trump may have set in motion the destruction of the US. What happens to the rest of the world? On many issues he could do global damage.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I tend to mostly agree with #2, and in fact that's what I would imagine will happen -- as the federal government becomes less able to earn the confidence of more than half of the people at the same time, federal powers will devolve to state powers (which is how the U.S. seems to like things anyway).  If that happens, there'd be no need to draw a line on a map, nor even to acknowledge the inherent ideological divide.  There are already states with legal marijuana and those without, states with "bathroom" laws and those without, states where you can refuse to bake a wedding cake for someone and those where you cannot.  For decades, they've already been the "notwithstanding clause" on steroids.

The fly in that ointment is that so many of their problems and challenges and contentious issues are federal-level:  health care, immigration, welfare, military spending, climate change, etc.

We'll know things have hit a critical point when states start forming their own militaries. :0

6079_Smith_W

josh wrote:

Lincoln should have let the south go.

That would have been a really shitty move actually. As much as the outcome of that war was a half-measure, at least it put a spike in the legal institution of slavery. Even as things turned out it almost survived.

On the actual question, I think they have been a lot closer to the edge than they are now. I don't see a breakup anytime soon.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I tend to mostly agree with #2, and in fact that's what I would imagine will happen -- as the federal government becomes less able to earn the confidence of more than half of the people at the same time, federal powers will devolve to state powers (which is how the U.S. seems to like things anyway).  If that happens, there'd be no need to draw a line on a map, nor even to acknowledge the inherent ideological divide.  There are already states with legal marijuana and those without, states with "bathroom" laws and those without, states where you can refuse to bake a wedding cake for someone and those where you cannot.  For decades, they've already been the "notwithstanding clause" on steroids.

The fly in that ointment is that so many of their problems and challenges and contentious issues are federal-level:  health care, immigration, welfare, military spending, climate change, etc.

We'll know things have hit a critical point when states start forming their own militaries. :0

Healthcare will become a state mandate -- they are heding there. Climate change policies are also heading i that direction. welfare is going there. The Federal government will get a smaller pie of taxes and the states will tax for what they will spend.

Military spending might be the thing the US does agree on.
 

Immigration could even be a shared state and federal responsibility -- eventually people may lose mobility rights within the US over this but that would be a while coming.

Sean in Ottawa

6079_Smith_W wrote:

josh wrote:

Lincoln should have let the south go.

That would have been a really shitty move actually. As much as the outcome of that war was a half-measure, at least it put a spike in the legal institution of slavery. Even as things turned out it almost survived.

On the actual question, I think they have been a lot closer to the edge than they are now. I don't see a breakup anytime soon.

 

Please explain. I think they had disagreement on policies and values all along but now there is a strong disagreement on the facts of the day than ever. This makes any compromise impossible. That is a new thing and a result of the segmentation of news. Previously there was a single media that generally favoured the right over the left. While sharing propaganda it was not as blatantly obvious to half the population that it was lying all the time.

6079_Smith_W

It isn't for me to explain; it is your thesis. California and cities opposing the federal government is one thing, but so far there is no serious secessionist movement. If anything there is more talk of that on the far right.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I think they had disagreement on policies and values all along but now there is a strong disagreement on the facts of the day than ever. This makes any compromise impossible.

I see that that's a definite problem.  But I think it still comes down to opinion -- specifically, one's opinion that this or that thing is a "fact".

Consider some "facts":

FACT:  climate change is a real thing. (I believe this).

FACT:  the earth was created in six days, roughly 6,000 years ago. (I don't believe this).

FACT:  Meat is murder! (I don't believe this).

FACT: Immigrants are taking our good jobs.  (I don't believe this).

FACT:  Putting some cans in the blue bin is not going to save the planet. (I believe this).

FACT:  Rich "fat cats" made the recent financial crisis happen so they could profit even MORE. (I don't believe this).

... and so on.  The problem isn't so much that we cannot agree on "facts" any more, but that what we want to believe (or disbelieve) to be facts typically cannot be measured by a ruler.  Or, we cannot agree on which ruler to use.

cco

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Please explain. I think they had disagreement on policies and values all along but now there is a strong disagreement on the facts of the day than ever. This makes any compromise impossible. That is a new thing and a result of the segmentation of news. Previously there was a single media that generally favoured the right over the left. While sharing propaganda it was not as blatantly obvious to half the population that it was lying all the time.

I've seen some variant of this thesis a lot lately (typically mourning the demise of the "gatekeepers"), and it mystifies me. The brief era of unified establishment television was an era when far fewer people had access to it than do today. Much of the South wasn't even electrified until the New Deal, and functional illiteracy was fairly widespread until after World War II. The average Alabaman's conception of the world in 1925 was shaped by what s/he heard at church -- a segregated and sectarian institution by definition.

The current American population is the best-educated and has the greatest access to information of any American population in history. There hasn't been a sudden outbreak of morons; you can just read them on Twitter now. And the supposedly-less-partisan media of generations past featured William Randolph Hearst as much as (more than) Edward Murrow. Yellow journalism and "fake news" have been around since Suetonius.

Pondering

Thirty-two percent of Americans polled said they approved of Trump's handling of his job nine months into his presidency, while 67 percent of those polled said they disapproved.http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/354325-poll-trump-approval-hi...

The US is no where near splitting up. Some states have some very weak separation movements, much weaker than Quebec's. They will never gain traction because economically and militarily the US is better off as a single unit. I am pretty certain that the majority of Americans consider themselves to be living in the best country in the world. Social conservatives don't want to split the country they want to convert it. Same goes for social liberals. Both sides are willing to live and let live for mutual benefit.

Trump is a horrible president who has likely emboldened white supremacists and endangered the world and the country through brinkmanship but he hasn't actually changed much in the day to day lives of most Americans. The ship of state turns very slowly indeed. Obama did some big things, like created their weird complusory health insurance system, but in the grand scheme of things he didn't change much even in his first term when he had a lot of power. I don't see the Republicans and Democrats as all that different economically. Trump talks crazy but the .001 will not allow him to rip up NAFTA. The individual states won't allow it. Congress and the Senate answer to the people. If they destroy the economies of their states they will never be elected again. Republicans are against Trump. He has a core of ignorant Tea Party types but most of them are still too comfortable to risk an actual revolution. Even if they did any rebellion would be instantly put down using the military if need be with the strong support of the grand majority of Americans.

I think people who are into activist politics don't understand people who are not interested in politics. Just because people vote doesn't mean that they are into politics and want to know all about it. They don't, and they don't need to because we have representative democracy. In the US and Canada we elect representatives who then take decisions on our behalf. When most people vote they are voting for the person most likely to make the decisions we would agree with. We all know there is no one who would make all the same decisions as us so we choose between whats on offer. There may be some interest in a couple of secondary issues if candidates are judged equally strong on the economy. Positions on other issues do help form the overall impression of the competence of the politician but as long as the politician is considered competent the economy is the primary deciding factor.

Many Trump voters stated they would consider voting for Bernie Sanders. Why would a person vote for either Trump or Sanders, but not for Clinton?

Because Clinton was corrupt establishment and that is never good for one's wallet. The results of all the US elections I'm aware of were really close, within a few percentage points of each other. It has never threatened the unity of the country because the Republicans and Democrats are not that different economically.

All "they" have to do is keep everyone squabbling about anything other than how money is being sucked up by the wealthy.

Mobo2000

All "they" have to do is keep everyone squabbling about anything other than how money is being sucked up by the wealthy."

Yes, and they are doing a good job.   Great time to be a capitalist in the USA right now.  

I see the impending and ongoing death of the mainstream media gatekeepers as wonderful news.    There is almost no bandwidth for foreign policy, any substantive economic issues, or matters of war in the mainstream American press.   Poor and middle class americans fighting with other poor and middle class Americans over ideology or worldview is, by the internal logic of the 1%, great for business.   Keeps the clicks up for all the media companies, and keeps the mob too busy fighting to interfere with the substantive decisions made behind closed doors.  

In this regard Trump will be the gift that keeps on giving.   Facebook and Google, through their opposition to the Orange one, can brand themselves as progressive.   They will manipulate, rank and evaluate the content on their networks, and some of the left will thank them for it.   Other transnational companies may be able to similarly rehabilitate their image.   And after Trump is gone, both Democrats and Republicans will blame the former king, rather than his court.

WWWTT

Ya I don’t see the US splitting up. I don’t think there’s any US state that actually has the courage to say by by you fuckin pain in the ass, we’re out of here. 

But realistically I believe the US has already gone through separation/division and the federal system in place circumvent from any states separating 

Pondering

Mobo2000 wrote:
I see the impending and ongoing death of the mainstream media gatekeepers as wonderful news.   

I agree. They have lost their monopoly on spreading "information". News is slowly becoming crowd-sourced and freely shared. It's both an opportunity and a challenge. Occupy happened because we weren't reliant on the news media or traditional forms of communication. It's how Corbyn and Sanders were able to rise without establishment support.

Mobo2000 wrote:
 Poor and middle class americans fighting with other poor and middle class Americans over ideology or worldview is, by the internal logic of the 1%, great for business.   Keeps the clicks up for all the media companies, and keeps the mob too busy fighting to interfere with the substantive decisions made behind closed doors.

There is only one topic that has to reign above all others. Trade deals. Trade deals are at the heart of locking in neo-liberalism. Trade deals could be at the heart of worker protection while entrenching the power of the people over corporations. We could be agreeing to a 20% tax on corporations world wide. Once we get money flowing down it will be much easier to fight sexism, racism, poverty and ignorance.

Mobo2000 wrote:
In this regard Trump will be the gift that keeps on giving.   Facebook and Google, through their opposition to the Orange one, can brand themselves as progressive.

Closer to home Trudeau brands himself progressive based on marijuana legalization, feminism, immigration, and now, CETA is being touted as a progressive trade deal that changes were made to due to Trudeau's efforts.

Facebook and Google can frame themselves as progressive but I don't think it really matters one way or another. Either the left focuses its might on neoliberalism or we win battles but we will lose the war.

Mobo2000 wrote:
And after Trump is gone, both Democrats and Republicans will blame the former king, rather than his court.

They may do so but it doesn't really matter. Occupy did not depend on giant corporations and it could have done so much more if it had focused on Wall Street and the one issue that unites the 99%.

 

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
News is slowly becoming crowd-sourced and freely shared. It's both an opportunity and a challenge.

I guess one of those challenges is stuff like "Vaccines cause autism" spreading around the world before the truth gets its pants on.

And similarly, the opportunity is that we no longer have to wait for the corrupt MSM to disobey its corporate masters and finally tell us that vaccines cause autism.

Quote:
Occupy did not depend on giant corporations and it could have done so much more if it had focused on Wall Street and the one issue that unites the 99%.

The Occupy movement, as originally envisioned by Adbusters, was intended to focus all of its energies on one thing.  But then Occupy tweaked that ever so slightly to focus their energies on every possible thing.

Rev Pesky

One of the problems Occupy had was confusion between income and wealth.

The top 1% of income earners is a different group from the top 1% of wealth owners. Many in the business media added to the confusion by focussing on the top 1% of income earners, while Occupy was focussing on wealth owners.

Perhaps if Occupy had been a bit more clear about the difference between those two groups they might have been more successful.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:
 

Quote:
News is slowly becoming crowd-sourced and freely shared. It's both an opportunity and a challenge.

I guess one of those challenges is stuff like "Vaccines cause autism" spreading around the world before the truth gets its pants on.

And similarly, the opportunity is that we no longer have to wait for the corrupt MSM to disobey its corporate masters and finally tell us that vaccines cause autism.

There's no filter on books either yet the printing press still meant more people became informed and educated. In any case there is no need to educate everyone on every issue. The point is the opportunity exists for individuals to deseminate information widely and instantly. That is power that has never before been in the hands of the average person. Occupy was very much a child of the internet. It was international without any backing like Earth Day. The majority of people in the developed world and beyond have a video camera and internet service so they can send information in a blink of the eye. That is powerful. Sure not everyone uses that power well but some people do. Protests can and do go viral so there is some filter.

Mr. Magoo wrote:
 

Quote:
Occupy did not depend on giant corporations and it could have done so much more if it had focused on Wall Street and the one issue that unites the 99%.

The Occupy movement, as originally envisioned by Adbusters, was intended to focus all of its energies on one thing.  But then Occupy tweaked that ever so slightly to focus their energies on every possible thing.

Yes. I found it very frustrating. Even so all that energy hasn't vanished. If anything it has grown. It just needs to be harnessed behind a single goal internationally if possible but certainly nationally. Everyone has to be very angry about the same thing.

I don't think there is any chance of a state or province in North American separating. Each state or province has a lot of power within its borders. While separatist movements exist here and there none are strong because most people are relatively satisfied with their lives. In fact look at the Greeks. With all the misery visited on them the population still didn't revolt. They thought a party had risen to defend them but they betrayed the people. The people of the UK have allowed their social programs to be hollowed out.

No state or province is so bad off that they are willing to risk what they have for an unknown political future.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The point is the opportunity exists for individuals to deseminate information widely and instantly. That is power that has never before been in the hands of the average person.

But does that information have to be factual?  Or can people also spread nonsense widely and instantly? 

Because that's not necessarily some "better" thing.  All it does is make the old battle between lies and the truth wider and faster.

Sean in Ottawa

The US arguably already has seperated. The don't talk, except to scream at each other, cannot agree on basic facts nevermind what to do with them. One is sleeping on the couch.

I do not think that the US would split formally anytime soon -- althoguh if the damage continues to the point where there is a standoff such as the country becomes ungovernable somethign would have to happen.

My argument here is that this may be a rift nobody wants but they cannot fix. They may stay in the marriage due to chest thumping and flag waving but they may effectively go their own way. The kind of seperation I see in the fairly short term -- especially if Trump manages to get his coalition for a second term through enough of the low populated states -- is one where they do agree to live and let live but not agree to live under the same rules.

The US is not like Canada, there are many more shared or State jurisdictions where spending may occur by a State for its own benefit. There are many things the federal government does -- almost all social policy -- that individual States can do for themselves if they have the money. As the Right wing cuts federal taxes States can tax and spend on what the States want. This can get to the point where one part of the US can be like a different country to another.

It could stay like this for a long time, gradually eroding that nationalism into a more State identification. An actual split may or may not occur one or two hundred years from now -- if the planet and everythign else is still here to ahve the conversation. This split that Trump is provoking could become irreconcilable. It will take considerable political talent to make it anything else.

I am not predicting the disolution of the US in our lifetime. Rather I am asking if what we are seeing now has a path back to unity or whether this division gets worse until the parts no longer recognize each other.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
The point is the opportunity exists for individuals to deseminate information widely and instantly. That is power that has never before been in the hands of the average person.

But does that information have to be factual?  Or can people also spread nonsense widely and instantly? 

Because that's not necessarily some "better" thing.  All it does is make the old battle between lies and the truth wider and faster.

You can say the same about the printing press. The printing press also made propaganda and pornography easier to publish but that doesn't negate the fact that it also made education widely available.

Even so printing and distribution remained expensive. Digital communication is virtually free and much more difficult to control. The playing field will never be even but activists have access to social media as powerful as any tv network. They have access to great production tools. In the past these tools were limited to people with lots and lots of money. 30 years ago Occupy would not have happened.

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
 

The US arguably already has seperated. The don't talk, except to scream at each other, cannot agree on basic facts nevermind what to do with them. One is sleeping on the couch.

I do not think that the US would split formally anytime soon -- althoguh if the damage continues to the point where there is a standoff such as the country becomes ungovernable somethign would have to happen.

In a sense it already is ungovernable. There is no sense of forward momentum, no vision of a better future on a political level. It exists collectively to protect itself and its power in the world. I kind of get what you mean. Culturally Vermont, Florida and California might as well be on different continents. Hawaii and Alaska are physically separated. The US exists as an economic and military unit in the service of the wealthy.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
My argument here is that this may be a rift nobody wants but they cannot fix. They may stay in the marriage due to chest thumping and flag waving but they may effectively go their own way. The kind of seperation I see in the fairly short term -- especially if Trump manages to get his coalition for a second term through enough of the low populated states -- is one where they do agree to live and let live but not agree to live under the same rules. 

I see that as already happening. Federally cannabis remains illegal but they are not interfering with states that are legalizing nor changing the law. They are in limbo. They are unable to act federally. All of Trump's ranting and raving have done little to actually change laws. NAFTA is not going anywhere.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
It could stay like this for a long time, gradually eroding that nationalism into a more State identification. An actual split may or may not occur one or two hundred years from now -- if the planet and everythign else is still here to ahve the conversation. This split that Trump is provoking could become irreconcilable. It will take considerable political talent to make it anything else.

I am not predicting the disolution of the US in our lifetime. Rather I am asking if what we are seeing now has a path back to unity or whether this division gets worse until the parts no longer recognize each other.

Trump's approval rating is in the toilet. He is down to his core of deplorables. Economically there is little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Social conservatism is dying a very slow and agonizing death but the trend is unmistakable.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
You can say the same about the printing press. The printing press also made propaganda and pornography easier to publish but that doesn't negate the fact that it also made education widely available.

I remember, fondly, the good old days when education outnumbered propaganda and pornography.

I think it must have been because printing a book -- or, propaganda or pornography -- required some investment in ink and paper and a printing press.

Today, if your friend sends you a link about how climate change is a hoax, you can forward it to twenty more people and it's totally FREE.

I kind of agree with you, at least insofar as I'll never suggest that we should try to put the internet back in the bottle.  But despite all the promises, it sometimes seems like it's benefitted the propagandists and the the pornographers -- and really, just the idiots -- more than it's benefitted education or equality or any other good thing. 

FWIW, one of the first "big" uses of moveable type was to allow the church to mass-produce (and mass-sell) plenary indulgences -- basically a contract that allowed the wealthy, in exchange for lucre, to be a glutton for a day, or to lust for a day, or whatever.  It would literally be centuries before it was used to ensure that everyone who wanted to learn to read had a book.

WWWTT

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
You can say the same about the printing press. The printing press also made propaganda and pornography easier to publish but that doesn't negate the fact that it also made education widely available.

I remember, fondly, the good old days when education outnumbered propaganda and pornography.

I think it must have been because printing a book -- or, propaganda or pornography -- required some investment in ink and paper and a printing press.

Today, if your friend sends you a link about how climate change is a hoax, you can forward it to twenty more people and it's totally FREE.

LOL!

Free????????

is your internet free? How about your computer/Android you read it on? If all this you speak of was free, then Bill Gates would be a poor man!

cco

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I remember, fondly, the good old days when education outnumbered propaganda and pornography.

Do you? Or do you just remember the days (childhood) when you read more of the former than the latter?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
is your internet free? How about your computer/Android you read it on?

I'm only suggesting it's free to publish a blog, if not to read one.

Quote:
Do you? Or do you just remember the days (childhood) when you read more of the former than the latter?

I'm just remembering that in the bygone day of ink and paper, there seemed to be more textbooks than porn books.  If my highschool days were more about the nudies, I think I'd remember.

 

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
 

The US arguably already has seperated. The don't talk, except to scream at each other, cannot agree on basic facts nevermind what to do with them. One is sleeping on the couch.

I do not think that the US would split formally anytime soon -- althoguh if the damage continues to the point where there is a standoff such as the country becomes ungovernable somethign would have to happen.

In a sense it already is ungovernable. There is no sense of forward momentum, no vision of a better future on a political level. It exists collectively to protect itself and its power in the world. I kind of get what you mean. Culturally Vermont, Florida and California might as well be on different continents. Hawaii and Alaska are physically separated. The US exists as an economic and military unit in the service of the wealthy.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
My argument here is that this may be a rift nobody wants but they cannot fix. They may stay in the marriage due to chest thumping and flag waving but they may effectively go their own way. The kind of seperation I see in the fairly short term -- especially if Trump manages to get his coalition for a second term through enough of the low populated states -- is one where they do agree to live and let live but not agree to live under the same rules. 

I see that as already happening. Federally cannabis remains illegal but they are not interfering with states that are legalizing nor changing the law. They are in limbo. They are unable to act federally. All of Trump's ranting and raving have done little to actually change laws. NAFTA is not going anywhere.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
It could stay like this for a long time, gradually eroding that nationalism into a more State identification. An actual split may or may not occur one or two hundred years from now -- if the planet and everythign else is still here to ahve the conversation. This split that Trump is provoking could become irreconcilable. It will take considerable political talent to make it anything else.

I am not predicting the disolution of the US in our lifetime. Rather I am asking if what we are seeing now has a path back to unity or whether this division gets worse until the parts no longer recognize each other.

Trump's approval rating is in the toilet. He is down to his core of deplorables. Economically there is little difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. Social conservatism is dying a very slow and agonizing death but the trend is unmistakable.

I agree with everything you say here. However, the fact that Trump's apporval rating is in the toilet is not part of the point I was making. It is the division I am speaking of. He is hated by a majority but his supporters are not budging much. He has lost the independents but his most ardent supporters now live beyond reach of any fact or logic. The chance of reconciliation is so distant as to look impossible. This cannot end well.

My point is that I think that the gap which was always there has widened to the point of no compromise being possible. We are in new ground. Many hate the other side when they win -- but in this case they will not accept it. If Trump loses the next election his supporters will think it is fake news / stolen election and they would have if Clinton had managed to win the electoral college.

The only agreement I see that is possible is a seperation within the marriage - a reduction in the federal jurisdiction such that the states who want a more central policy can tax and spend it themselves while the others can have the kind of right wing government they will not live without.

This is not as dramatic as a formal breakdown of the country, a recognition that the country is ungovernable or a civil war, but it is the outcome of an irreconcilable difference in terms of what government people will live with. I think Trump has pushed so hard to the extreme that he has presented a vision - his people will now accept nothing less and the opposition will never accept it.

Pondering

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
He has lost the independents but his most ardent supporters now live beyond reach of any fact or logic. The chance of reconciliation is so distant as to look impossible. This cannot end well.

I see what you mean. This ignorance was fed by Republicans as a means of control and ignored by Democrats. That depth of collective ignorance is practically cemented in like a cult.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
We are in new ground. Many hate the other side when they win -- but in this case they will not accept it. If Trump loses the next election his supporters will think it is fake news / stolen election and they would have if Clinton had managed to win the electoral college.

The question is how far would they go in protest.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
I think Trump has pushed so hard to the extreme that he has presented a vision - his people will now accept nothing less and the opposition will never accept it.

I think you over-estimate their strength. Either that or I am over-estimating the power of corporations and the wealthy people behind them. A strong federal government suits them just fine. They will rid themselves of Trump and until then they will block him because he is bad for business. They are not going to sit back and let Trump endanger billions of dollars in profit or the value of their companies.

Sean in Ottawa

Pondering wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
He has lost the independents but his most ardent supporters now live beyond reach of any fact or logic. The chance of reconciliation is so distant as to look impossible. This cannot end well.

I see what you mean. This ignorance was fed by Republicans as a means of control and ignored by Democrats. That depth of collective ignorance is practically cemented in like a cult.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
We are in new ground. Many hate the other side when they win -- but in this case they will not accept it. If Trump loses the next election his supporters will think it is fake news / stolen election and they would have if Clinton had managed to win the electoral college.

The question is how far would they go in protest.

Sean in Ottawa wrote:
I think Trump has pushed so hard to the extreme that he has presented a vision - his people will now accept nothing less and the opposition will never accept it.

I think you over-estimate their strength. Either that or I am over-estimating the power of corporations and the wealthy people behind them. A strong federal government suits them just fine. They will rid themselves of Trump and until then they will block him because he is bad for business. They are not going to sit back and let Trump endanger billions of dollars in profit or the value of their companies.

The desire for tax cuts at any cost is driving many wealthy people to accept policies they do not agree with. We shall see. This is a difficult to predict moment.