Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies


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Comment on this entry

Major Ideas in Henry Giroux’s “Orwell, Huxley and America’s Plunge into Authoritar


John G. Messerly


Reason and Meaning

December 29, 2016

Orwell, Huxley and America’s Plunge into Authoritarianism,” Counterpunch, June 19, 2015, by Henry Giroux, the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University.


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COMMENTS



Posted by instamatic  on  12/29  at  03:19 PM

Am nonplussed by this article: you are in effect asking for a new Constitutional Convention. A definition as quick refresher:

A Constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single document or set of legal document”... it is a written Constitution.

Frankly, though what rightists want is apparent, what leftists want is more difficult to discern. For brevity’s sake, will conclude with one observation: everywhere, everyone wants what others have. How can a progressive civilization—or any civilization—be built when everyone, everywhere, is squabbling unceasingly over pieces of The Pie?

In closing, the question is: can you provide any specific detail as to how to go about building a genuine civilization?





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/01  at  10:21 AM

Instamatic,

I don’t think it’s possible to build a “genuine civilization”.  At least not in a finite system.  The Pie you speak of is the availability of exploitable resources, I’m sure.  And yet if everything within the observable universe was exploitable, we couldn’t use it all.  There are “sacred” objects that exist that can’t be abused.  Namely it boils down to “ourselves”.  We can’t tolerate the notion that we would be expendable, or used in a way that doesn’t confirm our beliefs.

To draw upon a possibly poor analogy.  Consider a bucket of Lego with a couple of children playing with said toys.  Lego in this context being the finite/exploitable resource.  As a child, one is generally/potentially indifferent to the plights of others.  A little more selfish perhaps than an “adult”.  As odd as it may seem (not really), the children are made of “Lego” too (say both kids, and Lego are forms of a certain element…like Carbon).

Well, if each kid has their idealized “utopia”/perfect project they wish to construct (eg a “Genuine Civilization”).  That draws upon the entire pool of available resources (the Lego Bucket), but can’t be finished until the “Other Lego Child” is consumed too.  How does the project ever get finished/resolved?

Ignorance/self-absorption would imply that we wouldn’t care about the other Lego child, and that we’d consume them in some sort of way (forcibly, or voluntarily).

This is what happens when one has a “Infinite Probability/Possibility Space”, and a “Finite Resource Space”





Posted by instamatic  on  01/04  at  05:35 PM

A little more selfish perhaps than an adult

Have thought about this for a few days: it is the only thing I disagree with you re this comment. Adults are far more selfish—and better at hiding it.





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/04  at  09:30 PM

Instamatic, perhaps.

In regards to the article, my thoughts are that how is one supposed to tell/discern between one type of “justice”, and another type of “justice”?  This probably ties in with Instamatic’s remark about adult’s being more selfish in that it’s the central conceit of society.  Liberals/Progressives are seeking a form of “justice”, and so are the Conservatives.  The form of “justice” both parties seek are apparently at odds with each other, or is it just the means of implementing said justice?

Consider for a moment, the origins of justice/law.  The Hammurabi Code:  Law #196: “If a man destroy the eye of another man, they shall destroy his eye. If one break a man’s bone, they shall break his bone. If one destroy the eye of a freeman or break the bone of a freeman he shall pay one gold mina. If one destroy the eye of a man’s slave or break a bone of a man’s slave he shall pay one-half his price.” - via Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi ).

Notice that if taken at a certain value, it is more costly to be the offender than the “victim”.  The offender loses both their eye, and has to pay a mina.  To pervert this Law as written a little bit, it doesn’t imply that the “victim” is the one to return the loss of limb (eye), and being that I don’t know how this Law was practiced.  It is clearly more “expensive” to injure a freeman for one eye/bone is worth 1 mina whereas a slave’s is 1/2 a mina (*provided they aren’t referring to the price of the slave).

To apply some cruel math/logic to this situation.  If a freeman blinded a slave (both eyes) it’d be worth at least one of his eyes…maybe both, depending if the slave can identify him.  At a level, a freeman could blind two slaves completely (2 mina’s worth).  And maybe more if he was never caught. Say those that witnessed the act of blinding was in favor of the freeman up to a point.  Thus they wouldn’t turn him in (he’s a friend…., a “good man”, and the slave did something stupid/offensive to the freeman).  If said freeman kept blinding slaves, and was eventually turned in.  It’d be up to the king/ruler to finally decide his justice.  Is the King exempt from his own laws?  If he were to take the final eye of the offender.  He’d have to lose one of his own in return.

This is justice, a king/ruler isn’t above the laws/rules they codify/enforce.  Is the king able to foot the costs of losing an eye?  I’d assume so being that they’d have the entire royal treasury to pay off the 1 mina.

According to my brother, a civil servant, Hillary had a tendency to see herself as above the state/law (opinion based upon email scandal, and stories from other civil servants).  Trump, may or may not be brought to heel.  And if he’s as vindictive as portrayed, he’ll hemorrhage himself fairly quickly I’d assume.

Also, one question/thought.  If Trump’s as narcissistic, as again portrayed, you’d think he’d distance himself as much as possible from Hitler’s sort of leadership/ideology when the time is right.  It’s not possible to be “loved/admired” (whatever narcissists crave…recognition) when one is being compared to one of history’s most vilified humans.





Posted by instamatic  on  01/07  at  06:43 PM

You cover a good deal. Haven’t been able to think of anything to add that wouldn’t go on ‘n on spin doctoring (or whatever the latest buzzword for it is). Don’t want to think about Trump, not out of dislike but because he represents x: Trump is a bona fide unknown.
For real—this time around we’ve got a real x on our hands.

And if he’s as vindictive as portrayed, he’ll hemorrhage himself fairly quickly I’d assume

Agreed. Now if he were younger, would be frightened of Trump; however at 70, he is no superman and the pressure will eventually tire him. (Am old, too, and dread the future.. which comes back to x.)

Will give Trump a chance; however he has to keep in mind that he will be a public servant who will work for us—we will not work for him. Come Jan 20th, Trump is no longer a private citizen.
—————————————————
Can write one thing for sure. Justice and morality—as we know justice and morality to be—are not words I associate with the 21st century.





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/07  at  07:17 PM

I don’t fully have an informed opinion on said “X”.  Mainly because as I’m in my late 20’s I know I don’t have quite the political/social experience that elders would have.  As a plus, I also don’t hold as many “prejudices” because of said limited experience.

Personally though, I think the World/Era one is a part of is as Just as they make it, or it is allowed to be.  Shining a historical light upon justice, and morality.  It can be said that it is always increasing, but the drastic changes that could happen won’t happen in our lifetimes.  Either because they’ve already been established conceptually, or because of the slowness of mainstream culture.

Considering that Universal Male Suffrage (in the U.S.A) was established 1870, Woman’s Suffrage (still U.S.A) was 1920.  Sure the numbers seem like it happened ages ago, but to put generational perspective into play.  My Grandparents, who are approaching their 90’s, are effectively the “first/2nd” generation born where both genders were allowed to vote.  The Civil Rights Movement was in the 50’s-60’s which is around when my parents where born.

Taking those dates into a different perspective.  It’d deeply imply that Universal Suffrage of any sort was not a agreed upon thing.  1870? That’d imply that there was at least 1870 years of repressed rights to some groups (if one count’s down to 1 A.D., and the Calendar used).  Does anyone honestly think that hatreds/prejudices die out in a generation or two?

I guess, at some level I feel “safer” with the “X” over the status quo because it implies (good, or bad) things are changing.  Trump’s bringing to bear all the old/repressed hatreds of past generations.  Sure there’s some in the “New Generation” agreeing with it, but overall?  I don’t think so.  And it may catalyze further developments of Justice/Morality down the line because of the “atrocities” that are played out.  Think of how the German’s reacted the years after Hitler’s fall.





Posted by instamatic  on  01/10  at  09:31 PM

Does anyone honestly think that hatreds/prejudices die out in a generation or two?

This has been—and still is—a difficulty with Marxists and Marxist-Leninists; they expected improvement in their grandchildren’s lifetimes. Nikita Krushchev:

Your grandchildren will live under Communism

No way they could grow out of their hatreds/prejudices in a generation or two. Frankly, am looking to the 22nd century, not the 21st.

I guess, at some level I feel “safer” with the “X” over the status quo because it implies (good, or bad) things are changing.  Trump’s bringing to bear all the old/repressed hatreds of past generations.  Sure there’s some in the “New Generation” agreeing with it, but overall?  I don’t think so.  And it may catalyze further developments of Justice/Morality down the line because of the “atrocities” that are played out.  Think of how the German’s reacted the years after Hitler’s fall.

Never thought of the above; sounds plausible. At any rate, the exact core of my fear is what Churchill said prosaically to his doctor once:

“what good is there in any new thing?”

Change, expediency, excitement, pleasure are to come in the future—yet goodness*? Does goodness become lost in the shuffle? In ‘building’ greatness do we lose all goodness?: what I fear most.

As a plus, I also don’t hold as many “prejudices” because of said limited experience

Now that is good to read. You must have read of children in war-torn nations who play on the rubble of their towns and cities. Their elders may live in a state of prejudice and fear; however the war-children can filter it out.
————————————————

*Whatever one’s definition of ‘goodness’ happens to be.





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/11  at  11:28 AM

Your anecdote about war-children points to the notion that prejudice, and fear are learned.  Doesn’t this imply that they could be unlearned, or simply not “taught”?

Biases, for all they’re worth, are neutral.  You can’t discern between a good, or a bad thing if you weren’t biased towards a certain outcome.  Having said such, I realize I’m biased in favor of the “Unknown”, and “Uncertainty”.  Mainly because I’ve aligned myself into that axis, and in part because I was pushed into it.

I’m being treated for schizophrenia, but the doctors really don’t have solid proof/evidence for it.  It’s based upon their “judgement/biases”. As is my resistance to said diagnosis.  Is either side 100% right?  Probably not, so in effect we keep resisting each others efforts.  Every time I’ve been in the clinic due to stress/complications with living conditions.  They’ve wanted to commit me.

Clearly from our numerous conversations, I generally don’t exhibit characteristics such as “word salad”, or whatever.  I think the biggest issue they have is that I stand for the “Unknown”.  I don’t fit their models of how I’m supposed to be.

In essence, they don’t know how to understand my worldview which is understandable because I don’t get it all the time either.  I mean is it “normal” based upon “social norms” to do this over this (in an abstract sense).  And yet, aren’t social norms conditioned into a person?  The language we’re using, the mental models we develop, the methods of meaning making…all are conditioned into us via “socially acceptable” means.

Going back to the war-children, if they didn’t have a conditioning force from above (parents/grandparents…Death/Shame/Guilt pressures).  How would they develop?  They’d develop however they needed to in order to survive.  They’d come to a choice though, would they “plateau”, or continue striving to become better at living?  (Tie in thoughts from this article: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/Danaher20160703 ).

Thus in response to Churchill, and you.  I’d say with every new thing therin lies the potential for good, evil, and whatever depending upon what is brought to the table.





Posted by instamatic  on  01/11  at  05:33 PM

Your anecdote about war-children points to the notion that prejudice, and fear are learned.  Doesn’t this imply that they could be unlearned, or simply not ‘taught’

Happily, yes. It is one bit of good news—for overall, would say the world is morally schizophrenic. And though Trump is not the monster he is portrayed as being, he is without doubt a moral schizophrenic. A Republican potty-mouthed quasi-paranoid? (Trump is case study- though it has to be noted that paranoia is not a crippling condition.)

Thus in response to Churchill, and you. I’d say with every new thing therin lies the potential for good, evil, and whatever depending upon what is brought to the table

The following is the bad news: by changing the world radically, and Trump is a clear symptom of this, all virtue as we know virtue to be (conventions of all sorts for everyone save for those without consciences) is being erased. Such cannot be denied any longer; no purpose: everybody can now see the bridge-burning humanity is doing. Which segues…

Going back to the war-children, if they didn’t have a conditioning force from above (parents/grandparents…Death/Shame/Guilt pressures).  How would they develop?  They’d develop however they needed to in order to survive.  They’d come to a choice though, would they “plateau”, or continue striving to become better at living

Yes, and also something culture-war children are going to have to do the hard way. War-wars end; culture wars do not end. I can remember the beginnings of the culture wars 1965- all of them ongoing to this day.
Keep in mind this is all relatable to Trump; his ascendancy was not inevitable, but he was quite predictable.

In essence, they don’t know how to understand my worldview which is understandable because I don’t get it all the time either.  I mean is it “normal” based upon “social norms” to do this over this (in an abstract sense).  And yet, aren’t social norms conditioned into a person?  The language we’re using, the mental models we develop, the methods of meaning making…all are conditioned into us via “socially acceptable” means

And the world is horribly corrupt, it is a little-known fact that the Cold War corroded all institutions from the school system up to the military. As of 2017, to be normal is to be corrupt; abnormal is to be uncorrupted. The author, John, doesn’t grasp this: Americans deserve Trump i.e. because they enabled him.

I realize I’m biased in favor of the “Unknown” and “Uncertainty

Nothing wrong with that. What makes me nervous is how the world is increasingly being radically dislocated yet we are expected to ethically hold onto nothing. An absolute, not partial, schizophrenia. Trump is merely a symptom and is not to be held culpable, believe it or not. If morality no longer exists albeit is being enforced through laws, Trump himself can be considered a victim. Or at least just another gamer.

 





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/11  at  08:15 PM

I’ve rationally tilted at that concept of Nothing that you referred to in the last paragraph ( https://wolframgand.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/the-meaning-of-nothing/ & https://wolframgand.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/stone-upon-stone-in-an-allegorical-mental-construct/).  In essence it is Nihilism which was seen coming by Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard (19th century philosophers).  Nietzsche referred to it as the great “revaluation of values/Gott is Tot” (or something like that), and Kierkegaard called it the “Great Leveling”.  Both probably stem from “too much Democracy” as Plato would put it.  We’re slipping into decadence which is sort of why I feel Islam is so hostile towards us lately.  We’ve lost our “moral core”, but being that we’re aware of said loss.  We can do something about it.  It is a moral challenge to either recuperate, or live in ethical squalor.

This isn’t a “conservative, or progressive” challenge. It is a HUMAN challenge.  Oddly I want to say I have “Faith” in the Human Spirit though.  Not because it is blindly placed, but because, as a species, we’ve fought/struggled for so much.  We are left to devise a “Human Morality”.  Not a Universal one, for everything (sentient/aware species) goes through their own environmental/social history.

If there is a God, it is through with the days of “Mass judgement”, and is now on to the days of “Personal Judgement”.  Essentially, I think it boils down to the notion(s) of Suicide, Y/N?  Existence, Y/N?

Practically, can you as a person live with yourself?  And can/could you live in a community of your peers?  That I think is the beginnings of a “New Morality”.  Assume that you are “Nothing” (cause you’re stardust), and what do you do?  Every act you take, every belief you hold will set you apart from others, but also bring you towards others.  We are a species divided against itself, but we’ve almost always been that way.

“War Is Merely the Continuation of Policy by Other Means.” - Carl von Clausewitz, On War

This applies to both cultural, and physical wars, I think.





Posted by instamatic  on  01/12  at  04:49 PM

We’re getting close to the center of it.

Now, don’t want to judge anyone’s morality, at least not too harshly. Am libertarian-conservative, more/less. Still, though individuals can stumble through, families cannot. Once a family is busted up it is Humpty Dumpty. I do not expect a truly moral world at all (boredom kills, too), only that minimal ethics are retained…

This isn’t a “conservative”, or “progressive” challenge

No moral challenge presented to progressivism, whereas conservatism is challenged. Progressives want justice; conservatives want morality.
—————————————-
At any rate, Trump’s totalitarianism is latent, not clear ‘n present. Trump or at least his braintrust (Trump is more or less a figurehead, no matter how adroit he is) are an x.
Y is—just say—our responses to Trump and his brain-trustees.
Z is the outcome.

America probably will not evolve into a kleptocracy—a totalist kleptocracy such as Russia is at this time. One positive factor in our abrasively petty American ways is Trump will be scrutinized continuously and his brain-trustees will feel the heat. So Trump can be contained. Attacks on Trump personally (and they will occur) will be unfair.. however attacks on certain erroneous policies will be absolutely mandatory. No letup.

 





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/12  at  09:30 PM

This may be a moment of ignorance, but what’s the difference between “Justice”, and “Morality”?  Isn’t justice applied morality, or am I thinking about it differently?  A person has to have some sort of moral foundation upon which to judge.  Otherwise they’d be considered unjust.

I can see a slight difference in that Progressives want those who are “downtrodden” to be brought-up through statist intervention.  Whereas Conservatives would prefer personal-accountability/responsibility.  They are both addressing the same problem, but from different angles.  The problem, as I see it, is how to have a “better life” for more people (at least one of the issues), and how to secure said “rights” for oneself.

I generally identify myself as “pseudo-anarchist”.  If solely because I have a hard time affiliating with groups.  Even if it’s in my “Best Interest”.  I’ve seen too much of the “mob mentality”, “mob justice”, or “mob morality”.  It just seems to be when more than two people gather, there’s an “offshoring” of intellectual rigor, and responsibility.  It either goes to the “top”, or gets dispersed amongst the “bottom”.

The Two person “psychopath”.  One says shoot, the other shoots.  Both deny culpability.  One says, I was just following orders.  The other, I didn’t pull the trigger.  And yet, someone ends up “dead”.





Posted by instamatic  on  01/13  at  03:24 PM

Isn’t justice applied morality

Yes it is.

but what’s the difference between “Justice”, and “Morality”?

No difference between justice and morality—one can’t know justice in the first place without morality; and no morality exists without justice to back it up.

I’ve seen too much of the “mob mentality”, “mob justice”, or “mob morality”

Exactly. Which is why though libertarianism is v. attractive (who with few exceptions would not want to be free?), it also would lead to hyper-democracy. Look what happened to Russia: Russia became freer after Communism finished there, but the rabble (the mob became freer) and the new oligarchs (the Mob, high-case ‘M’) simply replaced the old Nomenklatura. Not only predictable, but inevitable.

Can’t be objective about the following: perhaps am more conservative now because I’m old; or—going back to the Churchill quote—because, deep down, have never thought progress led to anything other than physical change. Utility, expediency, material abundance, excitement, pleasure derive from progress; and vice versa.
Yet that is the extent. No true ‘goodness’; no real morality or happiness. A trade-off; we gain pleasure and excitement, just say, yet lose morality and happiness.

The above would be a secular take on ‘gain the world, lose the soul’.

Thus the soul in this spin would be morality and happiness.
——————————————-
America is a loudmouthed, power-grasping nation (after all, it is the greatest power since ancient Rome), so given this, here are two related questions addressed to progressives:

a. don’t Americans have to learn, the hard way, not to be loudmouthed power-graspers similar to Trump himself?

and until such learning,

b. doesn’t America deserve Trump?

What is happening now with Trump validates a theory that we have to learn things the hard way. 





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/13  at  09:38 PM

whelp, according to psychology, progress is an illusion (I think).  It is what it is which is my take on what it is.  I figure from the “Science” I know, and realizing that no one has an “Absolute understanding” of Reality.  It’s just as easy to say I’m fully incarnate in who/what I am.  Humans create God, God creates Humans.  It’s a tidy little narrative, but in reality I don’t see a difference other than the label upon the box.  We’re both incarnate in a Universe, Western thought holds humanity as external/above to their environment.  Not true, otherwise there’d be no “environmental disasters”.  Now replace “humanity” with “Deity” in the prior sentence.  What are the implications?

It is as it almost always seemed to have been is us working against ourselves.  There is no need to “learn the hard way”, just as there is no “need to learn the easy way”.  It being It.  No grandiose meaning, no secret agendas,....all of it is based upon what you see in yourself/others.  Not solipsism, but an entity gazing into a Mirror.

As you said, “Does America deserve Trump?”, and “Don’t we have to learn the hard lessons?”?  What do you think?





Posted by instamatic  on  01/14  at  06:13 PM

“Does America deserve Trump?”, and “Don’t we have to learn the hard lessons?”?  What do you think?

It was not as surprising that Trump was elected as it would have been if Schwarzenegger had not been elected governor of Ca. long ago. California is America’s most populous state—and that Schwarzenegger became its governor was a shock, at the time.

Trump was until last year best known for being a businessman and for hosting the TV program ‘The Apprentice’. Whereas Schwarzenegger was best known for making gruesomely violent films.

Thus the celebritization of politics began long enough ago that Trump’s ascendancy was rather predictable..albeit not inevitable.

Going back even further, Reagan was a movie actor who was elected governor of Ca. and later on, president.

There is a trend in the history of celebrity politicians stretching back 50 years ago, to when Reagan became a governor.

Since so many Americans (and others) live vicariously through celebrities, it would seem America as a nation was at least partially culpable in enabling Trump to power—and, yes, deserve him.

There is no need to “learn the hard way”, just as there is no “need to learn the easy way”

True, yet that there is no need to learn the hard way, just as there is no need to learn the easy way,

may be something people have to learn the hard way!
—————————————————————————-

That under Trump America will become fascist does not look, at this time, to be high probability. However that the coming years will be tawdry is almost-certain. Such is the essence of the celebritization of politics.
Depends on one’s age. A very young person might find the next decade to be glamorous, exciting. An older citizen may find the next decade to be empty, boring. I feel an intense fear of the future; not of possible fascism, but rather, fear of the celebritization of politics combined with disorienting change.

But then again, some will enjoy the future—as some enjoyed Schwarzenegger’s films and Trump’s ‘The Apprentice’. No accounting for taste.

Perhaps life is a sim: a Hollywood sim. What does not make sense, IMO naturally, is to demonize Trump. One person alone cannot be held responsible for the time we live in nor what is to come. I can’t see personalizing the opposition in a 70 year old loudmouth.

Trump is merely a figurehead.





Posted by RJP8915  on  01/14  at  10:06 PM

In a certain sense, the celebritization of politics goes back to Washington…  I think with democracy it’s more about being known as a figurehead, and the spirit of the times over a rational choice in some sense.

Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush senior…Eisenhower…Lincoln…et al.  I’d bet almost all of them ended up in the White House because of said spirit.  This is contrary to Monarchies, and Oligarchies because the zeitgeist of the People isn’t involved in those.

...it’s easy to learn the hard way, but hard to learn the easy way, I suppose.  The trick I think is knowing when to stop, and ask over pushing ahead alone.  Although in the end, a person has to make their own mistakes in entirely their own way.

Anyways, I think we’ve hijacked the comment section of Messerly’s post long enough…






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