What looms ahead?

The entry Hate and Special Status discusses a little of Pankaj Mishra’s talk at A.S.U. The rise of anger (his talk and book are Global Citizenship in an Age of Anger) around the world seems a response on several levels to the globalization of the title. A friend who attended the talk also pointed out that Mishra did not define modernity. I believe he did and went over some of the characteristics of modernity: secularization, the dominance of growth models, the undermining of traditional authority, urbanization and other factors like universalist creeds like Marxism, Christianity, Islam, Democracy, mass education, rapid transportation and communication, and so on.

My friend declared he did not like the bifurcated view adopted by so many: it has to be either or, black or white, which tends toward an ever-widening gap between ideological segments of society like urban/rural, churched/unchurched, rich/poor, democratic/undemocratic, etc. I agreed with him but see that as a matter of rhetoric. What are the dynamics of our society? Just as you look at the dynamics of wave action to understand what is happening to a beach, you have to examine the geographical, physical, climatological, demographic, economic, historical, cultural and political wave action against the mass of humans you are examining. Wave action is a good metaphor b/c the effects of these factors do tend to occur in waves. The churning and counter-action of this wave effect accounts for the immense difficulty in predicting what pressures will lead to what effect on a particular society.

In order to examine this in a bounded and realistic manner, we can look at our own society, which is certainly in a state of flux much like the bounding and rebounding waves against a beach. What is yet to be determined is just how strong the waves are, what changes can they work. Never have I considered myself a Marxist, but I do consider economics to be the bedrock of a society, it’s how people make a living. That’s as basic as it gets. (NB this entry is tagged Basic)

Trump and his sidekicks have forced the U.S. to look at the basics of our government and even our way of life, the norms that Trump tramples every day. Are they worth preserving? A large number of Americans sneer at the concept of norms; they see the norms as ways of tormenting them b/c they don’t know them and that puts them outside the circle of power. They have to watch others ascend to positions of power, thus giving those in such positions a clear path to manipulating the powerless. Thus Trump and the Congressmen supporting him can tell their constituents anything and the constituents have no choice but to believe and follow. What else can they do? They don’t read books. They paid little attention in school. There’s a reason they are often labeled “less educated;” they are less educated. They have no purchase on the wheels and workings of society, certainly not on the economy. They feel left out b/c they are left out and those right wing politicians are their only link to power.

We Liberals bash the right wing media like Fox and Limbaugh, Beck and Dobbs, Alex Jones and just about any evangelical preacher, but ask yourself just where these people are to go if they have no road map. The map was passed out in school but they didn’t get one. Is it their own fault? How many of you remember your Government class with fondness? Your history teacher as making the past come alive? Some of us do (my h.s. history teacher was great), but most of us don’t. Nevertheless, we got through school with a bit of knowledge clinging to us. But the kids from families and even whole areas with only a tenuous grasp on the larger society, where people are dimly aware if at all of how Washington fits into their towns and lives, of what their Congressman has to deal with in Washington, of what power their state legislator has, and so on, those kids aren’t swimming, they’re treading water and lucky to graduate.


March 10 Just don’t! 🙂 I don’t know where I was going with that ‘don’t’, but since the 28th of February much has happened, esp in the my world. We went to a funeral where the lady had been a sister in a family my wife knew. I knew 3 members of it, incl. one who I had met on my own at work. I was excited about it only for my wife to say, “Oh, that’s so-and-so’s sister.” So we wound up having a nice friendship with her and her boyfriend. That was the person who was described as having been to India and Australia and inviting us over for fish curry and my wife saying, “He’s White”, enraging my Liberal sense of not stereotyping. Of course, he was White. So the four of us presented quite a sight in the late 60s, two White guys and two Black women (I almost said ‘girls’ in the spirit of the times). The sister (in both senses of the word) and us are still friends and she came for the funeral and made time to visit us amidst all her family obligations. Very nice.

The other members are brother and sister who came into our family when their mother, the sister of our friend, was killed and the father took the kids and then married my wife’s sister. Not a good move and my wife wound up taking the two kids under the auspices of being their school counselor and had CPS remove them due to abuse. My sister-in-law abused her own children, too and over the years several of them wound up living with us. Some turned out well and others not so well. The younger ones have done well or at least are doing so now.

I give all this personal stuff to show how educators deal with kids in all types of situations. Their job is to educate, not be social workers or counselors. We see school counselors staying out of personal counseling, sticking to schedule changes, graduation, and college applications. Safe. The things my wife did as a counselor would not only get her fired today but might have landed her in jail.

(Brief linguistic note: note that I’ve used ‘wound up’ several times where some people might say ‘landed up’. Here I used ‘landed’ but not in the sense of ‘landed up’. “landed up” has always bothered me. I think it’s a conflation of ‘wound up’ and ‘landed’, but I may be wrong. Also, ‘land’ or ‘land up’ relates, I assume, to aircraft, so ‘land up’ seems odd to me. But I’m no doubt missing something. See my post of St. Augustine, coming up.)

One of those kids, now 60, came to visit the other day. He hadn’t seen my wife since high school, so he insisted at first on calling her Mrs. Barrett. Ha! Anyway, we had a good time reviewing all the crazy things those kids were going through and how several, like him, still revere her for leading them through perilous times in their young lives. Sadly, the conformists have won the day, warning school personnel of bad results if they interfere in family matters like abuse, drug use, incest, sexual identity, mental illness or just mental distress. So much goes back to the family and the rigid structure of a good many authoritarian families does not permit interference by professionals. IMHO, all goes back to religion: get right with the god of your choice (not really) and all will go as He intends.

Well, that leads to my entry on St. Augustine, which I will get to shortly…… I hope.

March 18 St. Patrick’s Day went well for me. Not so for Trump. Republicans are applauding the firing of McCabe just hours before his being invested in his retirement, a typical Trump move implemented by Sessions. It is beginning to look like any decent Republican will have to resign from the party, leaving us the question as to whether they can form a new party. If the 2018 elections, just seven and a half months away, blow the GOP out of the water, there may be a coup isolating McConnel and Ryan, esp if Ryan loses his reelection, as party stalwarts who have not compromised with Trump step forward. Who are they, if they haven’t left the party yet?

The legalities of the Stormy Daniels situation are convoluted and her lawyer keeps stating that her interview on 60 Minutes will give people the chance to judge for themselves how credible she is. To me, that is not about her personality and demeanor but about things she will reveal, things she can back up…. maybe with photos or other recordings. The money seems to tie all the scandals together: the Russian connection is about Trump being cut off from loans here due to bankruptcy and getting them from Russian oligarchs/mobsters; the woman issues seem to revolve not around salacious details but over illegal payoffs to the women; the ‘best people’ Trump has brought in are leaving in droves, most in disgrace over financial misdealing, including his long-time bodyguard; and the illegal use of campaign money is indicative of the Mafiaesque nature of Trump’s whole operation and style. The few people who have left or been fired who are without financial scandal taint, like Tillerson and Comey and now McCabe, no doubt have much to tell and Comey’s book is coming out soon. The way Trump treats people, McCabe, mentioned above, is a prime example, is a reflection of the way his supporters think: vindictive, punitive, petty, stupid, self-destructive, short-sighted, and even criminal, or at least thuggish.

Once this country steps back and takes a long look at what this presidency has brought us, we will all engage in a collective vomit. The real problem, as I see it, is the shame attached to Trump supporters, many of whom were vociferous in declaring their allegiance. They have self-identified. Once Trump stands revealed in his tighty-whities with a Kremlin label, no amount of rational thought will excuse their vote b/c Trump was explicit during the campaign about this values and plans and his appeal was clearly divisive and hate-filled, promoting political violence and revenge. Revenge against Obama was apparently the reason he ran in the first place b/c Obama did do a number on his at the Correspondents’ Dinner. So his supporters have nowhere to hide, no succor by burning their MAGA hats. We know who they are. So what are they going to do? My guess is double down. Insist it was all a conspiracy – maybe Bannon will make a come-back – and go underground the way the Evangelicals did after the Scopes Trial in the 20s. It’ll be interesting to watch. [see the current post in the What I’m Reading Now category]

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