(I added this material today to the bottom of the preceding Post on Ellen Langer. But it occurs to me that folks don't always go back and notice such things, so I'm also putting it up here as a free-standing Post.)
I don’t usually do this, but I ran into so much material today that seem relevant to what I said in this Post that I’m going to do this extended and somewhat wide-ranging addendum.
In the April issue of ‘Reason’ magazine, there is an article entitled “Five Lies About the American Economy”, enumerating five of the biggest whoppers the government is trying to tell folks about the economy. It refers to “a fictional economy that bears little resemblance to the economy that the rest of us inhabit”.
The first thing to note is that this seems simply par for the course in the Beltway now: they are so wrapped up in keeping up the illusions that their political pandering and their indenture to PACs have demanded that they are now indeed presiding over a “fictional America”, one that is in the Beltway mind, corresponds only modestly to the actual America ‘out there’ that the rest of Us inhabit, and that is – by operation of the consequences of their decades of programs and wars – becoming further removed from reality every day.
On top of the economy (the article is well worth a look) there is the military where gender-integration has merely added to the complexity of a military sharing in the decline of its nation; see Politics Daily today with an article about American military and naval decline (including links to three significant official reports in pdf).
Nicely, the current Pentagon solution is a concept called “Air-Sea Battle” which is being widely touted as the Next Big Thing although the article politely notes that there seems to be no substance whatsoever behind the concept and nobody knows what this marvelous all-conquering Air-Sea Battle would look like (or how to pay for it).
A concept with no substance or even vision comes mighty close to a dream or a pipedream, in my book.
The ‘Reason’ article then continues with a discussion of Ben Bernanke’s “distortion field”, the tissue of diaphanous murmurings and outright untruths that are supposed to make Us all feel better and to reassure Us that We are not facing a situation where – in Lincoln’s anguished phrase – “the bottom is out of the tub”.
Once again, while governments always ‘spin’, they usually do so with some circumspection.
After all you can only go to that well just so often before folks catch on.
BUT there has been so much ‘positive thinking’ and spinning these past Biblical 40 years, enforced by a government-approved Political Correctness and ‘sensitivity’, that huge slabs of unreality have started choking the national lanes of thought like bergs in the North Atlantic. As I have said before on this site, you only have to glance through a couple of recent feministical ‘victory lap’ histories of their ‘revolution’ to see not only ‘spin’ but ‘self-delusion’ on an industrial (and a Beltway) scale.
Add to that a little more on the consequences of Carol Gilligan's psychological insight that mothers - dealing with children - easily learn to look beyond appearances (an 'ugly' child, say for example) to the goodness and uniqueness of the self and the person beneath those physical appearances. Well and good. BUT it doesn't translate to the 'male' world of 'ideas' and 'abstractions': a baaaad idea ('ugly', so to speak) is not something that should be 'accepted' because it has some other more genuine underlying aspect that overrides the 'judgment' that it is, indeed, a baaaaad idea.
AND most certainly you don't want to go and make 'accepting baaaaad ideas because you don't want to be 'judgmental'' into a principle of national policy-making. But of course, in a frenzy of pandering by accepting whatever agendas, based on whatever baaaaaad or at least apparently very dubious ideas were pushed forward in their support, the Dems and then both Parties precisely would have found the (mis)application of Gilligan to be a great help in justifying the absence of deliberation and the stampede-making claim that the 'emergency' of 'oppression' or 'victimization' was simply toooooo great to permit the normal political deliberative analysis to proceed. Or, to put it in the more pithy and acute Maoist insight: "The past is indeed an obstruction to unrestricted innovation" ... and the new American 'revolutionaries' had read their Mao.
And added to ‘positive thinking’ is the ‘virtue’ of not committing to belief in anything at all. The young UK writer Zadie Smith burbles that “ideological inconsistency is practically an article of faith” for her; thus she is mentally (and morally?) ‘flexible’ and no doubt ‘non-judgmental’.
Katherine Hepburn is often quoted for her remark that “the time to make up your mind about somebody is never”. Well, certainly if she spoke in the context of what Hitler at that time was screaming about the Jews there in the 1930s, then she has a point. Or if she was speaking about her own famously noncommittal relational life. But you can’t make a national policy out of this sort of thing, or build or sustain a culture and a civilization upon it.
It’s one thing when sailing a ship across the ocean toward a chosen destination that you might make various alterations in the base-course in order to avoid storms or account for temporary conditions; it’s another thing altogether to refuse to set a course, refuse to choose a destination, and just sorta sail along and sail around and see what turns up. The Boomers didn’t need that kind of ‘philosophy’ and the revolutionary cadres didn’t need to be allowed to ‘deconstruct’ the whole value of sustained conscious and purposeful activity (while, of course, they were tenaciously pushing their own demands and agendas into the vacuum thus created).
And while Vince Lombardi had a useful point when he told his players that you’ve only lost if you accept that you’ve lost, this sort of exhortation – accurate in the arena of individual motivation – doesn’t translate well into larger encounters with reality. There comes a time when you have to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em – as the songster saith. This is true not only for poker, but for war – as in Vietnam, as in Little Big Horn.
And of course, ‘positive thinking’ and ‘believing the impossible’ and 'getting beyond your preconceptions' were – along with outright hostile ‘deconstruction’ – absolutely essential elements in the ‘success’ of the radical feminist agenda. And again, I offer the military – especially the Navy’s – experience with the beast as an example whose awesome and awful ultimate consequences are still not fully revealed.
But of course, to notice such things is the problem; an ‘attitude problem’ and a ‘perception problem’ and once they figure out how to change everybody’s ‘attitudes and perceptions’ then everything will be solved, so why bother Us with dark reports now? Once We are all ‘re-educated’ for ‘attitude and perception adjustment’ everything will be fine. And the band plays on.
And who can forget the many send-ups of ‘positive thinking’ in that marvelous – and stunningly early – 1975 Monty Python movie, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”? Remember the Black Knight at the ford whom Arthur has to fight? He loses an arm – it’s just a scratch; another arm – just a flesh wound; a leg – “I’ll do you for that!”, and the second leg and Arthur walks on – ‘Running away are ye? Come back here and I’ll bite yer legs off!”.
Or the whole image of Arthur and his knights ‘riding horses’ when really they are just hopping along on their own two legs like toddlers, with servants making clip-clop sounds by banging coconut shells together rhythmically? Is there a better image of the Beltway over the past 40 years? And perhaps of the country now?
And of course, if you get to define your own ‘reality’ – which is a core element of the feministical agenda – then you run a serious risk of thinking that ‘your’ reality is ‘reality’.
And indeed the whole idea behind imposing the feminist revolution was that ‘women’s’ reality (not all women, I quickly add) would become everybody’s ‘reality’. This was the dynamic behind Political Correctness: to force people to stop thinking in certain ways and to make them think in certain, Correct ways. And the Beltway made the decision as to what 'Correct' was going to be.
And so when the government (led by the vote-addled Dems) bought into the project, that was a decision fraught with hugely anti-Constitutional consequences. But then, the Constitution, which those who 'get it' just know was put together by oppressive and patriarchal white males is “quaint” anyway, as they have been teaching in feminist law courses for decades now – though We haven’t been officially told yet.
And how ‘real’, really, is ‘reality TV’?
And how realistic is it for large numbers of folks to spend their time and energy and precious attention – what they have left – ‘participating’ in reality-TV polls and ‘votes’? While the country slides deeper now down the Rabbit Hole and through the Looking Glass.
It won’t be long before this won’t simply be a pleasure-binge; rather, it will be an ‘escape’ from the frightful realities which untended consequences have created and which are now too far advanced to be corrected without massive changes to the way things are done (think the USSR in the 1980s). And is anybody in the Beltway going to go into that night gracefully?