Furthest Right

Unplanned obsolescence

At any given time in history, most people are oblivious to what is happening because they are focused on what has just happened. They are after all doing what is normally the smart thing in civilization, which is to look at what has succeeded and emulate it.

Their problem is that the events that transpire are the result of an ongoing process, so any time you emulate those events, you have missed the timeless part (the process) in favor of a signal of its existence, a result specific to a certain time that has now passed. We can see this in current politics.

Most people out there are following the cues they get from movies and pop stars. These people suggest that the same values that people trotted out in 1968 are still valid. Even more, they hint, the only way to stand out in a crowd is to be different, progressive, fair-minded etc. by accepting this stuff.

But even the 1968 values were backward-looking. A society wracked by two hot wars and a cold one was scanning over its past mistakes, trying to find an easy way out. It took many years for people to realize the situation was not as simple as appearances suggested, and that a solution would require not dodging unresolved issues but tackling them head-on.

However, in 2011, the 1968 values endorsed by politicians, entertainment figures and television commercials are even more backward-looking. Those endorsing them are looking for symbols of the hip, the young, the good and the exciting. They can’t invent something new; they need something we already know.

And so the propaganda rolls on. Any time they want to sell a car, for example, as being hip and young, they trot out the same stuff and hope we all jump at the mention of something so obviously socially promoted. Yet because they’re looking backward, they’re missing the real story.

A new report from the Military Leadership Diversity Commission says yes. It argues that the battle lines in Afghanistan and Iraq have been so blurry that women basically are in combat, but don’t get the formal combat credit needed to advance in rank. That’s because of a 1994 Pentagon ban — the so-called “combat exclusion rule” — that keeps females out of small units where most combat takes place. The rule should be junked, the commission says.

The panel, created by Congress in 2009, spent 18 months coming up with ways for the Pentagon to improve the promotion of women and minorities as the nation becomes increasingly diverse. “The armed forces,” it warned Monday, “have not yet succeeded in developing a continuing stream of leaders who are as demographically diverse as the nation they serve.” – Time

The writers of this article, and this report, are attempting to be good guys. They want us to think that they’re including everyone and being fair to everyone equally, so they’re on the side of the right and progressive. There’s only one problem: their crusade has absolutely no bearing on the quality of our armed forces, e.g. can they win wars.

It’s like being at a job where they insist the new client team have members from every floor. While that makes the team more representative of the workplace, it has zero bearing on how well it performs. Often the best teams don’t represent the organization behind them faithfully, but show a specialized ability. Even more, other factors determine the effectiveness of the team: its organization, training, equipment and direction.

1968-logic is to make a shiny happy symbol out of everything. Make sure everyone is included. Results? — err, not our department. We need to make everything fair, everything new and exciting, everything different. The rest will work itself out, or not, but at least we did the right thing, and gained social popularity, votes or product buys from it.

Social democratic parties across Europe are losing elections on an “unprecedented scale”, according to former foreign secretary David Miliband.

He said the parties were “fragmenting as the right is unifying”. He named six countries – Britain, Sweden, Germany, France, Holland and Italy – that he said had a “good claim to represent the historic heartland of European social democracy”, but that are no longer run by the centre-left.

“Not since the first world war has there been this kind of domination from the right. The whole era of democratic suffrage,” said Miliband. – The Guardian

How could this be? The right wing is future-oriented, even if it uses the methods of the past. The right cares about results, and about having goals in common, where the left is about individualism and fond notions that may or may not be true but sure are interesting.

While they want you to think that leftist thought is new and exciting, the truth is that it’s old. Not only is it a calcified ruin held over from 1968, chaperoned by the now white-haired burnt-out hippies who tell us in drooling repetitive detail about their glorious victories, but also, it’s irrelevant. We face a new world in which no absolute morality exists, or even any shared culture. Instead, people want results and stability.

Let one of the leading thinkers of the 1990s, who proclaimed that liberal democracy had taken us to the final stage in history before recanting that progressive Utopian theory, show us what’s replacing our “moral” and social judgments:

Dr. Fukuyama, a political scientist, is concerned mostly with the cultural, not biological, aspects of human society. But he explicitly assumes that human social nature is universal and is built around certain evolved behaviors like favoring relatives, reciprocal altruism, creating and following rules, and a propensity for warfare.

Because of this shared human nature, with its biological foundation, “human politics is subject to certain recurring patterns of behavior across time and across cultures,” he writes. It is these worldwide patterns he seeks to describe in an analysis that stretches from prehistoric times to the French Revolution.

Previous attempts to write grand analyses of human development have tended to focus on a single causal explanation, like economics or warfare, or, as with Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs and Steel,” on geography. Dr. Fukuyama’s is unusual in that he considers several factors, including warfare, religion, and in particular human social behaviors like favoring kin. – NYT

In the past, we took one thing out of thousands and called it a cause; more accurately, it would be called a symbol of that cause, or a subset of factors representing all other factors.

Now we need to look at multiple causes at once and figure out that rather than being puppets to whatever political aspect strikes our fancy, nations are organic. They operate as a result of multiple causes and with multiple results, simultaneously.

This negates the idea that a social or symbolic factor could trump all others. Morality and popularity are just one factor of many, and they are explained by other things. Morality is a means to an end for these civilizations; they decide what they want, and backfill the moral charge to make it stick.

For those in 1968, or even in 1996, this would have been unthinkable. It’s a reversal of all they have worked for, which is a moral society, and replaces it instead with a practical society that adapts to realistic expectations of the world in response to its actions. Such a society is consequentialist, or concerned with results more than feelings/popularity/symbolism.

Time has marched on, yet many people remain stranded in 1968-think, probably because they’re accustomed to using the 1960s as a marketing flavor. Want it to be edgy? Put Bob Dylan on it, or Jane Fonda if you dare. Want it to be fun? Led Zeppelin or hippies with a giant doobie. Profound? John Lennon or Pink Floyd.

It’s just like adding a little cream flavor to your cheap bread and calling it “Dutch style,” or covering a normal chair in chrome and calling it “urban style.” It is just as false as the advertising we distrust, the speeches of politicians we know are lies, and the little white lies people tell in social situations that we know are false (the stripes do make you, or anyone else, look fat).

A whole generation is about to be caught unawares as they continue to spout the hide-bound, calcified and stale ideas of the past and insist they are new. We have real problems instead:

Government payouts—including Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance—make up more than a third of total wages and salaries of the U.S. population, a record figure that will only increase if action isn’t taken before the majority of Baby Boomers enter retirement.

Even as the economy has recovered, social welfare benefits make up 35 percent of wages and salaries this year, up from 21 percent in 2000 and 10 percent in 1960, according to TrimTabs Investment Research using Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

“The U.S. economy has become alarmingly dependent on government stimulus,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of Macroeconomic Research at TrimTabs, in a note to clients. “Consumption supported by wages and salaries is a much stronger foundation for economic growth than consumption based on social welfare benefits.” – CNBC

Our economy is a circular Ponzi scheme. We depend on importing new workers and paying them nothing so we can all rise, and then pay everyone through the government, robbing the active parts of the economy to put money directly in the hands of the citizens, who spend it in ways that generate no further wealth. Dead ending it, in other words.

The result is predictable:

Cities across America are facing dire financial distress. Meredith Whitney, a banking analyst turned independent adviser who correctly predicted the banking meltdown, has issued an Armageddon-like prediction of mass municipal defaults. Others — notably Newt Gingrich — have suggested that state governments as well as cities should be allowed to file for bankruptcy. Congress held a hearing to examine the idea.

These forecasts of apocalypse have touched a nerve. Americans, still reeling from the devastating impact of the mortgage debacle, are fearful that the next economic disaster is only a matter of time. To anyone reading the headlines of budget deficits and staggering pension liabilities, it takes little imagination to conclude that the next big one will be government itself. The problems of cities are everywhere. – NYT

These are real problems. They are bigger than economics; you don’t get into such radical debt spending unless you’re also having trouble with leadership, or at least leaders who refuse to make the tough decisions and instead pander to the crowd by offering “free” bonanzas. These problems are the sign of a civilization veering out of control, careening off the walls of its own problems, yet unable to plot a course away from inevitable collision.

And yet the people who are accustomed to getting popular, rich and acclaimed by pandering to us using the played-out symbols of the past keep at it. They keep hitting us up with that 1968 symbolism, forgetting that most of us were not alive back then and have no allegiance to being hippies, at least if we’ve seen past the marketing and realize being a hippie doesn’t make us cool, it makes us a perfect consumer.

On the tapes, Schiller wastes little time before attacking conservatives. The Republican Party, Schiller says, has been “hijacked by this group.” The man posing as Malik finishes the sentence by adding, “the radical, racist, Islamaphobic, Tea Party people.” Schiller agrees and intensifies the criticism, saying that the Tea Party people aren’t “just Islamaphobic, but really xenophobic, I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

Schiller goes on to describe liberals as more intelligent and informed than conservatives. “In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives,” he said. – Daily Caller

It would be threatening if it weren’t so simplistic. He’s used to saying such things and having a crowd of people applaud him, so he keeps saying them, like everyone else whose acquaintance he has made. Even more, he will refuse to get to know someone who feels differently, so it’s the only perspective he’ll see.

And right now, the circular favoritism continues unabated. But it is a small group, and while they keep themselves occupied, the world is pulling away from the tired and washed-out ideas of 1968. It’s not enough to just call your opposition racists anymore; you need a practical plan instead.

If history follows the usual patterns, these folks will keep bleating the same obsolete dogma up until they are removed from power by popular will or political crisis. They have shut their minds, and are using expired symbols to manipulate each other, but are not looking to the road ahead. The future belongs to those who can focus on that path.

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