Posts Tagged ‘Participatory Totalitarianism’

Grover Must Be Smiling Today

January 15, 2019

What’s not in the news? An intriguing question indeed. Analysis finds an accounting of the “government shut down” that is not oriented from the perspective of a high school civics class or college political science class to be one answer. How so? Well, what about a perspective that stems from the “all or nothing” fundamental logic of capitalism? Rand Paul is on his way to Canada for a medical operation (Rand Paul to travel to Canada for hernia surgery By Elizabeth Landers, CNN, 1-15-19). “Paul, a respected eye surgeon, has been a vocal critic of socialized medicine. At the height of the Trump administration’s most recent effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act in July 2017, Paul said on Sean Hannity’s radio show: “This is about freedom. This is about whether we as Americans should be free to buy what kind of insurance we want. What’s best for us and our families. And it’s about whether the individual knows best or government knows best. Are we too stupid that President Obama has to tell us what kind of insurance? Does he think Americans are too dumb to make their own decisions?”” “All or nothing” in the sense that this same freedom exists in Canada yet those unable to afford the “open market” of health care can still be healthy through the support of their government (if they choose). Not so here, or at least in the capitalism (without other socialist “competition”) envisioned by Mr. Paul, and many others involved with the government shut down. Oh yes, the shut down. We have hundreds of thousands of employees and affiliated folks out of work. We have hundreds of thousands required to work for no pay. The civics class/poli sci class perspective can’t seem to rectify this disparity. America’s civil war of the 19thcentury supposedly definitively settled slavery as abolished in the United States. Yet, those working are likewise not free to refuse work (sounds a bit enslaving). No, the civics class/poli sci perspective is inadequate. It lacks the substance occurring before our eyes that is not spoken – the growth, evolution, and development of “all or nothing” capitalism (no competition from other ideologies, in whatever way). “Consumerism and capitalism are too often confused with democracy and freedom. They are not the same things.” “For a variety of reasons including economic precariousness, an unresponsive political system, a fear of violence and punishment from and by the state, and a culture of distraction and entertainment, the American people are stuck in a state of learned helplessness. What social scientist and futurist John Feffer has described as “participatory totalitarianism” conditions the American people (and others in the West and elsewhere) to desire and approve of constant surveillance. It has become normalized and incentivized by social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.” (Faced with the “greatest scandal” in our history, what will the American people do? Is America too deeply cocooned in consumerism, too blind or too cynical to take action against a traitor president? Chauncy Devega 1-14-19). “Learned Helplessness” sounds aptly descriptive of the contemporary shut down situation. But it also sounds like a lot of intellectual idealism. After all, since assuming the mantle of leadership, the GOP has improved capitalism by slashing taxes, imposing tariffs (which “levels the playing field” but the consumer pays for it in the end), shrinking the size of government meddling through the elimination of regulations and agencies, and now shutting the government down entirely. Not the stuff of Marvel civics class/poli sci comics! But definitely the stuff of “all or nothing” capitalism, resentful and envious of anything not “privatized.” “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” (Interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, May 25, 2001) “Our goal is to inflict pain. It is not good enough to win; it has to be a painful and devastating defeat. We’re sending a message here. It is like when the king would take his opponent’s head and spike it on a pole for everyone to see.” (from the National Review, quoted in The Republican Noise Machine by David Brock, Crown Publishers 2004, pg. 50) Two quotes by Grover Norquist. Wiki gives: “Grover Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is an American political advocate, who is founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, an organization that opposes all tax increases.” Analysis can only conclude that Grover must be smiling today.