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KILLING THEM SOFTLY epilogue
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Gamecock



Joined: 26 Nov 2003

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:38 am    Post subject: KILLING THEM SOFTLY epilogue Reply with quote

Quote:
Don’t make me laugh…that we are one people. It’s a myth created by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson is an American saint, because he wrote the words, “All men are created equal.” Words he clearly didn’t believe since he allowed his own children to live in slavery. He was a rich, white snob who was sick of paying taxes to the Brits.

So yeah, he wrote some lovely words and it roused the rabble and they went out and died for those words, while he sat back and drank his wine and fu##ed his slave girl.

This guy (Obama) wants to tell me we’re living in a community…don’t make me laugh! I’m livin’ in America. And in America you’re on your own. America is not a country, it’s just a business. Now fu##in’ pay me!


Watched this fairly mediocre movie a couple nights ago, but the end really got me thinking. Then, last night watched the new documentary by Ken Burns, The Dust Bowl, which is amazing and heart-breaking. As I saw what happened to the "Okies" the more I've come to the conclusion that the above quote may be true. The greed and general disdain of the hardworking "poor" or anyone else who puts a crimp in the myth of the "American dream" is not a new thing in the history of the United States, whether they be Native Americans, Slaves, Irish Immigrants, Okies, Hispanic Immigrants, African Americans (again), the uninsured poor, etc., etc., etc.

Have we ever really been a community? Even during the "greatest generation" when we were fighting our "noble" war we couldn't help but locking up Japanese-Americans without cause. Has America just been a business from the beginning? Is everything else smoke-and-mirrors, an illusion to keep the masses feeding the greed of the few at the top of the pyramid?

Beyond the propaganda, most Americans DO feel like they are on their own. They don't trust the government, and they are afraid or at least wary of their neighbors, 50% of whom they see almost as an enemy through the prism of politics. We kill each other at a rate no other modern, civilized country has ever seen. I know there are a lot of good people and exceptions to the rule, but...

Thoughts on the above epilogue?
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visitorq



Joined: 11 Jan 2008

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:10 am    Post subject: Re: KILLING THEM SOFTLY epilogue Reply with quote

Gamecock wrote:
They don't trust the government

If only this were true...
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Fox



Joined: 04 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:13 am    Post subject: Re: KILLING THEM SOFTLY epilogue Reply with quote

Gamecock wrote:

Have we ever really been a community?


Not on a national level, no, but certain regions of the country have historically had a large degree of cultural continuity based on the type of people who settled them. That shouldn't be surprising at all; the entire point of the United States -- the entire point of Federalism -- is to defy the need for such a continuity. I would say, though, that the Civil War and its aftermath have shown the flaw in such a concept; without a relatively continuous culture, you're going to have ever-growing tensions. An increasing focus on federal-level governance has kept the nation intact, but it hasn't bridged the cultural divide. In the modern media age, in fact, it has arguably exacerbated the divide.

I do not think a peaceable termination of the Union would necessarily be a bad thing at this point, frankly. It would introduce huge humanitarian problems (much of the American South cannot effectively manage itself even with substantial Northern aid flowing in, and even "success stories" like Texas only make ends meet because of oil wealth), but I have barely more in common with the average Southerner than I do with the average Nicaraguan, so if Nicaragua's poverty doesn't mandate political union, neither does Mississippi's. It's not that I begrudge them the money, but the endless self-destructive stupidity of their collectively philosophy makes it feel like a futile gesture.
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comm



Joined: 22 Jun 2010

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 1:43 am    Post subject: Re: KILLING THEM SOFTLY epilogue Reply with quote

Fox wrote:
I would say, though, that the Civil War and its aftermath have shown the flaw in such a concept; without a relatively continuous culture, you're going to have ever-growing tensions. An increasing focus on federal-level governance has kept the nation intact, but it hasn't bridged the cultural divide.

I would argue the opposite. The Civil War showed how deep conflict could become when Federal (specifically interstate) laws were applied on communities that opposed them. Further, I'd argue that the origin of our current tension is the 1940's decision on the 'commerce clause' which gave the Feds authority over everything bought and sold in the U.S. It should be common sense that satisfying fewer citizens with Federal legislation rather than more with State legislation will destroy the sense of community. Almost by definition, Federal laws are less responsive to the will of the people than State laws.

Fox wrote:
...but I have barely more in common with the average Southerner than I do with the average Nicaraguan, so if Nicaragua's poverty doesn't mandate political union, neither does Mississippi's.

Precisely. So think about these two options:
50 countries with independent armies, currencies, tariffs, trade regulations, etc.
OR
One country where each of the 50 territories is run very much independent of the others, but have a single currency, a single military, and a few very basic rights that the territorial governments cannot deny to their citizens.

Isn't the second option the obvious choice?
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Fox



Joined: 04 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 2:54 am    Post subject: Re: KILLING THEM SOFTLY epilogue Reply with quote

comm wrote:

I would argue the opposite. The Civil War showed how deep conflict could become when Federal (specifically interstate) laws were applied on communities that opposed them.


The South didn't secede based upon any such laws. The issue at hand was slavery, not just as a legal institution, but as a cultural institution, and it served as an icon of a broader cultural divide.

comm wrote:
Further, I'd argue that the origin of our current tension is the 1940's decision on the 'commerce clause' which gave the Feds authority over everything bought and sold in the U.S.


The fact that the biggest cultural dividing line in the United States so perfectly mirrors the major political dividing line is no accident. There are some very legitimate attacks one could make on that judicial decision, but it's not what is tearing our nation apart. Hell, most people don't even know what the commerce clause is or how it affects their lives. No, something much broader is at work here; it's a problem you cannot conveniently blame on a broader federal government than you'd personally like, and one that's never really gone away.

comm wrote:
It should be common sense that satisfying fewer citizens with Federal legislation rather than more with State legislation will destroy the sense of community.


There has never been a real sense of community. Hell, one of the reasons given by Hamilton in favor of the Constitution was the fear of America turning into another Europe, with the states all at one another's throats. Does that sound like a "community" to you? It doesn't to me. And at the time he was probably right. Today things are different; the dissolution of the Union would not result in endless petty warfare simply because of how the global society has changed since his era. It's the same reason Canada doesn't have to worry about the American military menace.

comm wrote:
Fox wrote:
...but I have barely more in common with the average Southerner than I do with the average Nicaraguan, so if Nicaragua's poverty doesn't mandate political union, neither does Mississippi's.

Precisely. So think about these two options:
50 countries with independent armies, currencies, tariffs, trade regulations, etc.
OR
One country where each of the 50 territories is run very much independent of the others, but have a single currency, a single military, and a few very basic rights that the territorial governments cannot deny to their citizens.

Isn't the second option the obvious choice?


If I had to choose right now, based on all available information, I would choose a modified form of the first wherein states were organized into regional confederations based on cultural similarity. Pacific Confederation, Western Confederation, Southern Confederation, Texas (which I would assume would go it alone rather than join the Southern Confederation, but maybe not), Great Lakes Confederation, Northeastern Confederation. Totally workable, no needless gridlock because of vastly differing culture, no state-level political interference by out-culture groups halfway across the continent who are worried about the national-level implications of state-level politics. You and yours don't want all that nasty federal economic regulation? Not a problem anymore. Me and mine want such regulations to be the supreme law of our land? We can pursue it (something states cannot effectively do now due to regulation of interstate commerce being a federal power).

Nothing about the above ought to offend your philosophy, comm. Are you so lost to Constitution worship that you cannot see that? Why should you and I live under the same national government? We have almost nothing in common beyond the continent we were born on and, evidently, the desire to see people get health care. Even there, though we disagree on how such programs ought to be administered, with me insisting it ought to be handled federally, and you at the state level. If we were citizens of two different confederations, we could both have our way. Isn't that your philosophy? Satisfying the most people possible?
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When you look at the total number of signers of the secessionist petitions submitted, you see an itsy bitsy teeny weeny minority of bad losers whining about losing the last election to a black man. That's akin to the liberals who whined about the Supreme Court stealing the 2000 election and who threatened to emigrate to Canada or wherever.

Lord knows I get discouraged from time to time. Who doesn't get tired of re-fighting every single battle time after time?

In spite of the anti-federalists losing every vote in 1788, they haven't given up. However, do you actually know anyone who identifies with his section or state rather than the country as a whole these days? I have never ever met one of these people.

The real debate, it seems to me, is whether we as a people choose to be a plutocratic oligopoly in service to the rich masters, or whether we find some way to spread the wealth and power around so as to aviod that kind of servitude. That was what the Founders tried to do when they divided power among many different levels and centers.

Having said that, I do not discount the possibility of the right wingers destroying the country in their attempt to impose their right wing social engineering plot to turn the country over to the wealthiest among us. The French did that just before the masses hauled out the guillotines.


Quote:
There has never been a real sense of community.


I do not wholly agree with this.

I don't remember where I read it, but it sounded accurate. Someone wrote that after the Constitution was ratified, along about 1800 no one admitted to having opposed it. Then up till the Mexican-American War everyone was gung-ho for the Union (except for those embarrassing moments when New England, then South Carolina, threatened to opt out of the Union. After the Civil War pretty much every one went along with the concept of one nation up until Rick Perry put secession on the national agenda again. (I don't consider 3 drunks on bar stools indicative of a national movement. I don't care what Mr. Sarah Palin says.)

The real question is, will 'government of the people, by the people, for the people' survive? (I think it will, although it may take some of Sharon Angle's Second Amendment fireworks to whip the anti-federalists into line).
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

America is too big to form a single community. In evolution's terms we are supposed to care about roughly 150 people. Dunbar said of this limit:

Quote:
this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size ... the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.


But suppose we can form communal connections beyond our neocortex's limits. After all, I can care about you, and you can care about someone else, and that someone else can care about a fourth person, and that fourth person may care about me. Still, 150 squared is only 22,500. Squared again, at three degrees of separation, we arrive at 3.375 million. Thus, you have the personal network (100-230), the locality (10,000 to 52,900), and the state (1 million to 12.167 million). I don't understand how humans are supposed to empathize beyond three degrees of separation. Note that these estimates really push it, as Dunbar explains that social groups as large as 150 only exist when 42% of the group's energy is devoted to social grooming. I doubt we could say that kind of energy is devoted regularly among American individuals to achieving cohesion, although social American females may spend 42% of their time engaged in social grooming.

Thus, a community of elite has turned the apparatus of America into a wealth creation machine for themselves. Don't get me wrong, the apparatus is clumsy and not always reliable. But it serves them, not us. For a slowly changing locality of the mega-rich, America works very well. Corporate welfare keeps their enterprises and capital intact, and the mass of labor serves their interests.

America wasn't meant to be united this much. Indeed, the New Deal required the Nazis and an Imperial Japan (not one foe, but two!) to establish itself. But the great war machine "united" the country. Prosperity followed, for as long as the meritocrats devoted themselves to altruistic principles. Yes, it is possible for humans to work for the benefit of those outside their social localities, especially under such favorable conditions as the United States enjoyed. But this attitude seems unlikely to sustain itself across generations, and other factors would contribute to an American sunset besides.

The movie is wrong. In America, you're not necessarily on your own. You might be born into a network or scrabble your way into the right network. But the idea that America could be a community? That's laughable on its face.
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More or less from the days of the Sumerians we have been living in social units larger than 150 people.

Isn't the real issue who we define as 'us' and not 'them'?
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Ya-ta Boy



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: Established in 1994

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
America wasn't meant to be united this much.


Hmmm. In a time when communication could only go as fast as the fastest horse could run or the fastest ship could sail...

You wouldn't be imposing your preferred political views onto the people of the past, would you?

Additionally, while I can appreciate the wisdom of those who have gone before, I do not feel I am chained to their views. I most vocally and definitively object to you tossing virgins into volcanoes in order to control eruptions.

So, no. Washington most definitely wanted to establish one country, with a centralized government.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ya-ta Boy wrote:
Quote:
America wasn't meant to be united this much.


Hmmm. In a time when communication could only go as fast as the fastest horse could run or the fastest ship could sail...

You wouldn't be imposing your preferred political views onto the people of the past, would you?

Additionally, while I can appreciate the wisdom of those who have gone before, I do not feel I am chained to their views. I most vocally and definitively object to you tossing virgins into volcanoes in order to control eruptions.

So, no. Washington most definitely wanted to establish one country, with a centralized government.


A bunch of strawmen but you don't address the national oligarchy?

Let me ask you this: why is it so hard for Washington to make reductions to military spending over 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall?
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Unposter



Joined: 04 Jun 2006

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has America always been an oligarchy which supports the wealthiest few and doesn't care about anyone else?

For the most part, yes.

It is kind of confusing because most of us were born at the tail end of any real efforts to care about our communities but the actual historical answer is our sense of American community really is a construct of the New Deal/Worl War II politics, fed by a more liberal-mythical interpretation of America's founding fathers, which pretty much ended with the Vietnam War, though there are still people who are trying to keep the dream alive against the overwelming forces of money which are trying to push it back.

In the New Deal, the American government stepped into the American economy in ways which the American government had never dreamed it could before. The reasons were of course the Great Depression had left far too many people unemployed or under-employed and the government stepped in and gave people jobs when businesses seemed uncapable of doing it. Of course, they were able to do it because American infrastructure was so under-developed and there were was a very real worry about communist revolution, which had over taken Russia less than 20 years earlier.

Before this time, there was no sense of national unity in the U.S. and no concerns about the people. But, some people were so impressed by the U.S. government's efforts to get people back on their feet and make sure that they were taken care of in their old age, many people in the U.S. looked at their government differently.

This sense of unity may have helped an otherwise insular looking American population to be more proactive about engaging in World War II.

It was not 100%, but there had never been greater feelings that American people should help their government and the government should help the American people in return, in those time just before, during and after World War II.

The American oligarchy was actually very pleased with the American people after World War II and voted for all sorts of largesse (social programs) for the surviving veterans of World War II and to a certain degree their offspring.

All this was true to the Vietnam War when the sons of World War II said No to fighting in Vietnam and the American oligarchy turned their heads away from the American people again.

In sense, they said fine, you don't want to fight in Vietnam, you don't have to, but you are now on your own. We don't want to give anythign to you.

Social programs still exist in the U.S. But, the best funded are all for the U.S. military.

You want an education, early retirement and social security? Well, you better do enough time in the U.S. military, and you might just get it.

Otherwise, you are on your own. Die in sweat shops or on the streets for all we care, not one penny more to you.

Yes, there are still politicians who want to keep the New Deal/World War II sentiment open to all but they become fewer and fewer and the American people just sit and stew about how their government has abandoned them, except when a hurricane hits and a Democrat is in the White House.
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Unposter



Joined: 04 Jun 2006

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As for regionalism, I don't think it is anything like people have been making it out to be. I have family that live all over this country, and we are culturally the same. I have had plenty of friends who have moved to the various regions, and have made the move smoothly. It is not like moving from England to France, at least.

I think one of the main reasons for this is media - TV, movies and radio. In some ways, if we are seeing a break down of culture, it is because of the Internet, which is a much more atomizing media.

I think separating into 50 countries, or 50 states with unique laws and culture is a mistake. It assumes that each state is a continuum into itself. They are not. They are in flux with people from all over the country moving in and out of them. And, it works because of our shared culture.

My best friend at graduate school was born and raised in Alabama, had done his undergraduate in Florida and was now in Ohio, where I am from. It was not like making friends with someone from another country; it was two people who became friends because we had so much in common. One o the things that definitely added to our connection was a shared sense of common culture, especially TV, Movies and Music and even to a certain extent educational system (though there were some differences).

We are much more a unity than you may think.
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Titus



Joined: 19 May 2012

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unposter wrote:
Has America always been an oligarchy which supports the wealthiest few and doesn't care about anyone else?

For the most part, yes.


The nature of the oligarchy changed. From the leftist The Nation:
http://www.thenation.com/article/our-gilded-age :

Quote:
And what about the sources of the fortunes that dominated the two Gilded Ages? The elite of the nineteenth century was fresh from building a massive industrial infrastructure, like steel mills and a transcontinental railroad system. Yes, it came with massive amounts of securities fraud (a reminder that financial chicanery is hardly a recent innovation in American economic history), not to mention waste, surplus capacity and shoddy workmanship. But it did result in the transformation of the United States from a relative backwater to a global industrial power.

...

How did Schwarzman and his colleagues in the private-equity and hedge-fund rackets, probably the most prominent members of today's overclass, make their money? Mainly by taking over existing assets and milking them for fees, dividends and interest payments.


Incredible hubris.

If the oligarchy generally benefits the nation then I have less opposition to it. The present class of usurious bastards have exactly and precisely zero concern for the well being of the United States or her citizens.

My favorite quote from our usurious overlords comes from Schwarzman:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/08/15/schwarzman-it-s-a-war-between-obama-wall-st.html
Quote:

President Obama and the business community have been at odds for months. But in July the chairman and cofounder of the Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms, amped up the rhetoric. Stephen Schwarzman—the leading John McCain supporter in a firm that, in 2008, gave more money to Obama—was addressing board members of a nonprofit organization when he let loose. “It’s a war,” Schwarzman said of the struggle with the administration over increasing taxes on private-equity firms. “It’s like when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.”

Attendees at the board meeting (who provided details on condition that they and the organization not be identified) were shocked. “War? Hitler? Poland? A little over the top for a proposal to make hedge-fund managers pay their fair share in taxes,” one attendee says about the comments. Neither Blackstone nor the White House would discuss Schwarzman’s statement, which came in the wake of strong, but less stinging, criticism this summer of the administration from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.


I don't know.. I just don't much care about WW2 analogies anymore.
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Fox



Joined: 04 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuros wrote:
I don't understand how humans are supposed to empathize beyond three degrees of separation.


They cannot, generally speaking. So far separated, unity becomes an abstract endeavor more related to identity than empathy; maybe you cannot all care directly about each other, but you can all link yourselves to something greater, in part subordinating your identity to it. In America's case, though, no such something exists. There is no sufficiently potent racial, religious, or ideological core shared by our whole nation; even broad, vague issues often split the nation "5/4," so to speak, and shared identity cannot function by majority vote.

I think Unposter grossly overstates the degree to which American culture is homogenous. Shared media experiences may allow for a degree of shallow, superficial similarity, but that is all. I freely admit (even insist) that the Internet has the potential to break down regional culture, but it has not seriously begun to do so yet. The notion that there is not serious cultural disjunction between Wisconsin and Georgia, between New York and Texas, or between Wyoming and Florida just seems bizarre to me. These are societies actively pulled together by nationalizing forces for quite some time now, yet still offer quite distinct social experiences. And as far as, "We don't need 50 sets of laws," goes, ignoring the fact that on any topic not reserved to the federal government we already have 50 sets of laws, the notion that a few more federal-level divisions on the North American continent would be some problem in itself is dubious.
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caniff



Joined: 03 Feb 2004
Location: All over the map

PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:16 pm    Post subject: Re: KILLING THEM SOFTLY epilogue Reply with quote

[quote="Fox"]
comm wrote:

The South didn't secede based upon any such laws. The issue at hand was slavery


I know I'm cutting your quote here, but starting out like that has a tendency to cloud what really went down. Abe himself explicitly stated the slavery issue wasn't his primary motivation for entering into the war.

I'll wait to hear how I'm wrong and be edumacated.

BTW, Happy New Year, Dave's peoples.
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