Monday, January 9, 2017

Choose Your Trances Carefully - 8

Fig. 1 Policy makers of Trancelvania
I. Start Here

By definition we can't make sense of insanity, nor conversely demonstrate insanity to be sensible.

Yet, there are vast industries that have been trying to do just that for about a century in the  (The Deceit Business).

They had to give up on that ultimate difficulty, so they chose to call their mixing up of the 'unmixable' by the name of "pragmatism" rather than calling it what it really is.

The result of course is that the masses have lost their way to fall into trances (Citizenship: The Art of Hallucinating Properly) after being told that sanity is not all that it is cracked up to be, nor is insanity all that bad (The Ways of Bernays).

II. The Three Most Deadly Trances

The trance-makers are so into their own trance (Bernays Trance) that their once-carefully-crafted impositions have now morphed to the point that they are doing it now without using those two words (sanity, insanity) in any reasonable context (at times even swapping the two words surreptitiously along the way).

The predicament boils down to two ways (Trance II, III) to destroy civilization, which includes the human species:
As we are all surely aware, we now face the most ominous decisions in human history. There are many problems that must be addressed, but two are overwhelming in their significance: environmental destruction and nuclear war. For the first time in history, we face the possibility of destroying the prospects for decent existence -- and not in the distant future. For this reason alone, it is imperative to sweep away the ideological clouds and face honestly and realistically the question of how policy decisions are made, and what we can do to alter them before it is too late.
(Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch - 2, quoting Dr. Noam Chomsky). As long as those predicaments can go wrong they will go wrong.

For the remainder of this post, let's look at the two "what could go wrong" trances we face at the fork in the road ahead.

III. What Could Go Wrong

Yes, even at those times when they were asking "what could go wrong" they would stumble, somewhere along the way, into Murphy's Law ("Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong").

 But once that law was discovered it was quickly abandoned for a more "pragmatic" policy:
The fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1989 abruptly ended one historical era and inaugurated another. So, too, did the outcome of last year’s U.S. presidential election. What are we to make of the interval between those two watershed moments? Answering that question is essential to understanding how Donald Trump became president and where his ascendency leaves us.

Hardly had this period commenced before observers fell into the habit of referring to it as the “post-Cold War” era. Now that it’s over, a more descriptive name might be in order. My suggestion: America’s Age of Great Expectations.

Forgive and Forget

The end of the Cold War caught the United States completely by surprise. During the 1980s, even with Mikhail Gorbachev running the Kremlin, few in Washington questioned the prevailing conviction that the Soviet-American rivalry was and would remain a defining feature of international politics more or less in perpetuity. Indeed, endorsing such an assumption was among the prerequisites for gaining entrée to official circles. Virtually no one in the American establishment gave serious thought to the here-today, gone-tomorrow possibility that the Soviet threat, the Soviet empire, and the Soviet Union itself might someday vanish. Washington had plans aplenty for what to do should a Third World War erupt, but none for what to do if the prospect of such a climactic conflict simply disappeared.

Still, without missing a beat, when the Berlin Wall fell and two years later the Soviet Union imploded, leading members of that establishment wasted no time in explaining the implications of developments they had totally failed to anticipate. With something close to unanimity, politicians and policy-oriented intellectuals interpreted the unification of Berlin and the ensuing collapse of communism as an all-American victory of cosmic proportions. “We” had won, “they” had lost -- with that outcome vindicating everything the United States represented as the archetype of freedom.

From within the confines of that establishment, one rising young intellectual audaciously suggested that the “end of history” itself might be at hand, with the “sole superpower” left standing now perfectly positioned to determine the future of all humankind. In Washington, various powers-that-be considered this hypothesis and concluded that it sounded just about right. The future took on the appearance of a blank slate upon which Destiny itself was inviting Americans to inscribe their intentions.

American elites might, of course, have assigned a far different, less celebratory meaning to the passing of the Cold War. They might have seen the outcome as a moment that called for regret, repentance, and making amends.

After all, the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, or more broadly between what was then called the Free World and the Communist bloc, had yielded a host of baleful effects. An arms race between two superpowers had created monstrous nuclear arsenals and, on multiple occasions, brought the planet precariously close to Armageddon. Two singularly inglorious wars had claimed the lives of many tens of thousands of American soldiers and literally millions of Asians. One, on the Korean peninsula, had ended in an unsatisfactory draw; the other, in Southeast Asia, in catastrophic defeat. Proxy fights in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East killed so many more and laid waste to whole countries. Cold War obsessions led Washington to overthrow democratic governments, connive in assassination, make common cause with corrupt dictators, and turn a blind eye to genocidal violence. On the home front, hysteria compromised civil liberties and fostered a sprawling, intrusive, and unaccountable national security apparatus. Meanwhile, the military-industrial complex and its beneficiaries conspired to spend vast sums on weapons purchases that somehow never seemed adequate to the putative dangers at hand.

Rather than reflecting on such somber and sordid matters, however, the American political establishment together with ambitious members of the country’s intelligentsia found it so much more expedient simply to move on. As they saw it, the annus mirabilis of 1989 wiped away the sins of former years. Eager to make a fresh start, Washington granted itself a plenary indulgence. After all, why contemplate past unpleasantness when a future so stunningly rich in promise now beckoned?
(Tom Dispatch, "How We Got Here"). As it turns out then, even 'here' turns out to be just another word for a 'nothing left to lose' freedom trance (The Matriarch of The Matrix).

IV. The YAH Trance

How we got to where ever we are seems to be less pragmatic and less probable, especially if we climb up to peer over the trance walls, and are able to look deep enough into whatever 'here' we have arrived at.

As it turns out, 'here' is not here (You Are Here).

Where we have ended up is where "the resistance" is a struggle for our very lives, rather than a struggle to bring peace and prosperity to ourselves and others (the 'here' we were told we were going to).

But more than that, the place where the powers that be are located, and where resistance to them is located, is really not 'here'.

V. Conclusion

The video below shows that various governments are performing their duties as if they live on two different planets.

That inexorably leads to some countries being "pragmatic" in a way that is diametrically opposite to another country's "pragmatism," even as they claim to be 'here'.

Some European nations are hard at work on projects to protect their coasts, while in Florida, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, "climate change" is being removed from official public discourse.

Yes, the data that are being interpreted by the consensus of scientists are being heeded with gasps by one official group, while being denied by another official group.

The previous post in this series is here.


  1. Are we 'there' yet? or are we 'here' yet? or is that neither 'here' nor 'there'?

  2. Randy, I believe we are in the present which isn't here nor there. It is merely now and what we do singularly and collectively now will take us to a new present. If we look critically and objectively at the past and learn from it singularly and act collectively on these lessons than a better present will be possible. If, as it seems to be going, we do not learn from our collective past than the coming present will be much worse than anything we can imagine. Old dogs can be taught new tricks, it's the old wolves that are in control that seem incapable of learning anything. Stay the course and damn the torpedoes. The torpedoes are about to score a direct hit. Brace yourself for impact it's going to be a hell of a ride!


  3. Very interesting reading " the psychology of lost". All the more so being from Nova Scotia. The thing is I don't believe we are lost so much as being mislead. " The temptation to deceive is as old as the human race, and so is the inclination to succumb to deception, which is credulity." Joseph Jastrow.


    1. Red,

      You wrote "The thing is I don't believe we are lost so much as being mislead."

      You speak for "we" in a sense of the unified whole, when the point of this post is that there are multiple "we" realms that are in different cognitive places even while thinking "we" are in the same place.

      The European "we" is already well into preparing engineering marvels in response to the global warming science, and what that means for sea level impact (note the second speaker in the first video for some examples).

      In the the current official federal government "we" movement is in a direction away from that European "we", and moving increasingly into the denial direction (president, controlling party in congress, and courts are primarily conservative and denialist at the top).

      A guide / leader who gets a group lost (misleads) is as lost as the rest are.

      Deceit is not always the intended result, and can be the product of neglect, ignorance, incompetence, and the like (Etiology of Social Dementia).

      Being lost (dementia) as a result of neglect, deceit, or being misled has no bearing on the ramifications of being lost.

      Your point (quoting Jastrow on deceit) about the ancientness of the things that can cause lostness misses the magnitude issue.

      Only recent civilization has the power to make it permanent via nuclear war and/or global warming.

      The ongoing 6th Mass Extinction (utter destruction of the human species by suicide / murder) is a power only modern nuclear / fossil fuel civilization has attained (whoopie, we're number one).

      "In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown." - A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee

      "Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this --hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension." - Sigmund Freud

      As to Jastrow: "One of his goals was to use the scientific method to identify truth from error, and educate the layperson, which he did through speaking tours, popular print media, and radio." (Wikipedia)

      Why Jastrow failed, along with everyone else, for one thing is that "belief" masked as "knowledge" is the primary cognitive component of civilizations that are lost.

      Trying to change that is another ancient endeavor which fills many a scientific journal (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?) with descriptions of the one and only Highway 61 (War is the Highway 61 of the 1%) ... the only highway that ever wrote a song about itself ("I Am The Highway").