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Sewage

2012 February 20
by Ian Welsh

Why is Francis Fukuyama considered an intellectual?  Why is he considered an intellectual worth of praise, his opinion important?

I ask this not because I don’t know the answer, I do, and I’ll get to it, but because so many people seem to believe he is an intellectual.

Let me quote Francis Fukuyama himself, from “The End of History” for no words I could write could condemn him as well as his own:

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.

Have more stupid words every been written?  Probably, but these are certainly in contention.  The stupidity was evident at the time (I heard the title, in my twenties, and knew immediately the author was a high functioning liar or a high functioning moron), and the piece should have been published only as a way of letting him drive a stake through his own heart, at which point he would slink of into well deserved obscurity, being sure to never show his face in learned society ever again, to spare himself the titters, coughs and awkward “oh, umm, hello”s.

Our system actively promotes people who will lie in the right way without even having to be told to and actively gets rid of anyone who is not a useful idiot – by which I mean anyone who does not tell the lies useful to the powers that be.  (Well, they can tell the occasional truth, on the rare occasion when it is useful).

Still, Fukuyama at least made it look good.  The newer generation, on both “left” and right barely even goes through the motions.

48 Responses
  1. Ghostwheel permalink
    February 20, 2012

    I always thought him and his little thesis quite ridiculous myself.

    As Noam Chomsky says, if you can internalize the prevailing paradigm and say what those in power want to hear, success and rewards follow.

    Fuku-boy said what the elite wanted to hear clothed in the appropriate pseudo-intelllectual, readily disseminated, gobbledygook.

  2. February 20, 2012

    Ian, you know I think the world of you, but I must beg to differ, at least a little bit, about Mr. Fukuyama.

    I have not read “The End of History,” probably because I had the same reaction as you did to the title. (You could have included another such title, The End of Ideology, by Daniel Bell back a few decades earlier: equally wrong in its prediction).

    Because I haven’t read the book, I can’t quibble with you about its thesis. However, I have read two other of his books, and they are phenomenally good. One is called Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. The other is The Origins of Political Order.

    Each of them contains a sweeping view of human development –one focusing on cultural influences on economic development, the other on the influences on political orders. Despite Fukuyama’s early flirtation with neo-conservatism, I find both these books about as apolitical and non-ideological as you can get.

    In each case, he asks an intelligent question: basically, Why do different nations develop different approaches to economic development, and to forms of political organization. His answers draw on a sweeping knowledge of historical data, but are simply good theories that fit the sweep of the data. At least, I find them very sensible.

    As to calling him an “intellectual,” I have always considered that a dirty word. Jacques Barzun exemplified that term to me: a hoity-toity elitist snob who amasses data the way hoarders amass their obsessions. By that definition, I don’t believe it fits Fukuyama. I have seen him speak as well as having read those two books: I’d say he lies somewhere between humble and straightforward. What he isn’t is bombastic, full of himself, or otherwise conceited.

    As I said, I had the same instinct as you about the title of the book for which he will undoubtedly be best-known, hence I never even read it. But I am very glad it didn’t dissuade me from reading at least those two other books, which I count as among the best I’ve read.

  3. beowulf permalink
    February 20, 2012

    Cut him some slack. Leaving aside the fact that book was published in 1989, he’s hardly the worst conservative out there.
    Fukuyama began to distance himself from the neoconservative agenda of the Bush administration, citing its overly militaristic basis and embrace of unilateral armed intervention, particularly in the Middle East. By late 2003, Fukuyama had voiced his growing opposition to the Iraq War and called for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense.
    At an annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute in February 2004, Dick Cheney and Charles Krauthammer declared the beginning of a unipolar era under American hegemony. “All of these people around me were cheering wildly,” Fukuyama remembers. He believes that the Iraq War was being blundered. “All of my friends had taken leave of reality.” He has not spoken to Paul Wolfowitz (previously a good friend) since.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Fukuyama

    Fukuyama declared he would not be voting for Bush,[20] and that the Bush administration had made three major mistakes:[citation needed]

    They had overstated the threat of radical Islam to the US;
    They had failed to foresee the fierce negative reaction to its “benevolent hegemony.” From the very beginning they had shown a negative attitude toward the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations and hadn’t seen that this would increase anti-Americanism in other countries; and
    They had misjudged what was needed to bring peace in Iraq and had been overly optimistic about the success with which social engineering of western values could be applied to Iraq and the Middle East in general.

  4. February 20, 2012

    Except there are risings throughout the world. And what do they want? Freedom, democracy, and and an end to corruption. (And the internet) It’s not quite Western democracy, but it’s not that different, either.

    Maybe Fukuyama was on to something, after all. (One more book to read…someday.)

  5. Ian Welsh permalink*
    February 21, 2012

    Charlie,

    I have great respect for you, so I’ll take your word that his other books are better. And I suppose we should all hope to be judged not by our worst writing, but by our best. But my God, what a stinker.

  6. Ian Welsh permalink*
    February 21, 2012

    Western liberal democracy is not thriving, it is failing. Greece, Italy, America, etc… But who cares? Assuming we don’t kill ourselves off (which he did not suggest) it will go on for a hell of a long time. I cannot image that the way we will be governing ourselves in 1,000 years will be recognizable as “Western liberal democracy”. It may have won the case with state capitalism (aka. “communism”) but that means squat. Different technological bases of production will occur, as will different dominant forms of organized violence and they will occasion different types of government. This is a given. Attempts are already underway to do this. You don’t think they went to a professional military and are moving towards an automated army because they care about peons dying, do you?

  7. February 21, 2012

    I feel that people usually criticize “The End of History” for the wrong reasons. It’s not stupid because he says there will be no more conflict – Fukuyama says we’ll keep having wars and terrorism. It’s stupid because he puts so many conditions in as to make the article almost a tautology, with the end of the Cold War meaning the end of the Cold War.

    He says:

    - The failure of fascism wasn’t necessarily it’s political failure but its material failure.
    - Few in the USSR, including the leadership, really believed in the Marxist-Leninist ideology.
    - China and Russia haven’t become liberal democracies, probably won’t anytime soon, but they’ve stopped pretending to fight for another ideology.
    - There’s likely to be a rise in religious movements, and they might even try to take over in some places, but their probably won’t be a theocratic state in the west.
    - There very well might be conflicts from rising nationalism, but that it doesn’t represent an alternative ideology to liberalism.
    - There will continue to be a lot of conflict in “the Third World”.
    - In general, there will probably be fewer wars between major powers and colonialism.
    - Eventually, there may be another competing ideology that crops up and challenges liberalism.

    All fairly bland stuff. It’s just wrapped in an “End of History” title.

    Fukuyama brings up some of the major shortcomings of his piece (ones that often get ignored by his detractors) in the piece itself – that communism was never much of an internal threat to the US or UK, or that history in fact ended in 1806. He counters these with…well, nothing.

    It’s an odd piece. Fukuyama is at least smart enough to see the idiocy inherent in the statement “The End of History”, brings up all the reasons why it could be wrong, and qualifies his statement to the point where he’s making a few banal and obvious points. I’m always surprised whenever I see it elicit such strong emotions in people. I guess his marketing strategy with the title worked.

  8. February 21, 2012

    I think it’s very clear that global society is changing radically as a result of, first, better control of energy and, second, better transmission of information. Isn’t the dream of universal access to knowledge an Enlightenment dream? And–unless we are plunged into a new dark age–it is being achieved, will be achieved in the lifetimes of children born today if not sooner.

    It’s not a case of “Different technological bases of production will occur, as will different dominant forms of organized violence.” Different bases of production and forms of violence are emerging now.

    “and they will occasion different types of government.” Isn’t this already in progress? Occupy Wall Street crowdsourced a 325 page SEC comment letter. That’s never been done before–was never imaginable before.

    And, no, it’s not Western liberal democracy of 1950, but then Western liberal democracy of 1900 was very different from that of 1950. It is however a descendent of that tradition. Will it stick worldwide? The Arab Spring is a hint. Look at Moscow. It was even tried–and suppressed–in Beijing. If this succeeds, it will not be Western liberal democracy–it will just be governance.

    I am concerned about our current militarized world–this level of preparedness for violence can only lead to actual violence, repeating. But then, it may not last. The radicals have been right so many times now–just maybe they are right this time, too.

    We may hope.

  9. Ian Welsh permalink*
    February 21, 2012

    The idea that liberalism is the last effective ideology is buttfuck crazy. It will not be. The idea that neoconservatism or neoliberalism are not ideologies, and that they are not different from liberalism, is buttfuck crazy (the Washington Consensus was/is entirely indifferent, bordering on hostile to democracy, and their definition of liberalism is certainly not that of a generation before). There is also, I would point out, less centrally managed and effective state control capitalism: see Singapore, who constantly wonder what all this moronic talk of democracy and capitalism going together is about.

    There will always be more and new ideologies. Eventually one or more of them will overthrow “liberal democracy” whatever that means (assuming that liberal democracy is the reigning ideology in more than kow-towing today, which it isn’t. An essay making that argument would be fairly easy.)

    Fukuyama argues that liberal democracy has won at the point where Liberal Democracy had spent more than a decade in becoming illiberal, the beginning of the policies which led to where we were today (Thatcher/Reagan) and at the point where they were about to completely rape the ex-USSR (happiness rating crashed in the ex-Warsaw pact. They have NEVER recovered.)

    That, of course, leads to the whole question of what is liberal democracy, of course.

  10. Celsius 233 permalink
    February 21, 2012

    Here’s a link to a 1 hour interview with Francis Fukuyama regarding his book. The interview was in 1992; so it’s right after it was published.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZWJETpfbzM

    I don’t yet have an opinion and may post my thoughts later. Cheers

  11. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 21, 2012

    It may have won the case with state capitalism (aka. “communism”) but that means squat.

    I’m not so sure it has. Sure, to us here, theoretically, one appears to have won out, but I believe that’s just a cover for global State Capitalism under the guise of Neoliberalism. From my vantage, China and the U.S., the preeminent leaders in this effort, are converging to a singular point from opposite directions. At some point in the not too distant future, that convergence will be complete, and the similarities between the two formerly distinct Nation-States will far outweigh any noticeable distinctions. What has led me down this line of reasoning, amongst other things, was Naomi Klein’s Rolling Stone article entitled China’s All-Seeing Eye.

    Now, as China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of this vast social experiment. Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range — a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.)

    The security cameras are just one part of a much broader high-tech surveillance and censorship program known in China as “Golden Shield.” The end goal is to use the latest people-tracking technology — thoughtfully supplied by American giants like IBM, Honeywell and General Electric — to create an airtight consumer cocoon: a place where Visa cards, Adidas sneakers, China Mobile cellphones, McDonald’s Happy Meals, Tsingtao beer and UPS delivery (to name just a few of the official sponsors of the Beijing Olympics) can be enjoyed under the unblinking eye of the state, without the threat of democracy breaking out. With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement like the one that grabbed the world’s attention at Tiananmen Square.

    Remember how we’ve always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state, fortressed with American “homeland security” technologies, pumped up with “war on terror” rhetoric. And the global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.

    This is how they’re going to manage the decline, or attempt to manage it. We’ll see how that goes….or hopefully not….meaning you might want to pass from this here existence before the project is complete, or die fighting it.

    We know the following is not too far away for us here in the West, especially the U.S., but it will be the U.S., Canada and Mexico before too long.

    Mobile Execution Vans in China

    Lethal injection is a much cleaner procedure and use of the bus also makes it easier to extract organs from executed prisoners for transplant, with doctors and nurses on hand to make sure organs are transferred swiftly. This practice has been attacked as inhumane, although the government insists it takes place with permission from donors and their families.

    The mobile death chamber means the ultimate sanction can be applied in towns and villages around a particular province, with executioners travelling between different jurisdictions. “Firstly, we established there was demand for execution cars. Then we designed the cars and applied to the government for certification to produce mobile execution vehicles. This procedure is a must,” Zhang added.”

    Wait until they establish a World 1 Child Per Family Policy, turning mothers into criminals, subject to a carbon tax if they have a child and offered carbon credits to get an abortion. This is complete 1984 global population control eugenics. If they succeed, we’ll be under the threat of death from a mobile execution van that lethally injects you before they harvest your organs. They already have drones and helicopters flying everywhere. This is what they love and what they promote, the UN, George Soros, Al Gore, Rockefellers, Kissinger, Brzezinsky, Rothschilds, Queen of England, and many more in the pyramid scheme are pushing this agenda under the guise of global governance and saving the planet.

  12. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 21, 2012

    Isn’t the dream of universal access to knowledge an Enlightenment dream?

    I’m certain they had no idea of the implications of that dream, if it was the dream. I don’t believe it’s universal access to “knowledge” that is being accomplished. Maybe universal access to “information” and/or “data”, but without the appropriate capacity, and time, to process that information/data into something useful such as knowledge, what’s the result? According to proponents of the Singularity, the result is a precipitous rise in the anomalous, to the point where the anomalous becomes the rule and overwhelms any of our constructs and models. Perhaps once we reach that point, and maybe we’re currently at its inception, it will be the apocalyptic salvation long-awaited, except it has come like a thief in the night, disguised and unrecognizable.

  13. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 21, 2012

    The idea that liberalism is the last effective ideology is buttfuck crazy. It will not be.

    I think the idea that it was effective is disputable, or in the least, debatable. It certainly may have been useful for some, but let’s face it, it is, and was, a far cry from ideal, and one could argue, its advent could possibly have precluded something much more ideal from manifesting.

  14. groo permalink
    February 21, 2012

    Well,
    to his rescue one has to say that
    …Fukuyama began to distance himself from the neoconservative agenda of the Bush administration, citing its overly militaristic basis and embrace of unilateral armed intervention, particularly in the Middle East. By late 2003, Fukuyama had voiced his growing opposition to the Iraq War[17] and called for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense.

    (wikipedia)

    A similar calibre is Hungtinton.
    Cannot find the reference at the moment, where he relativized his views.

    This is significant:
    …the architects of power in the United States must create a force that can be felt but not seen. Power remains strong when it remains in the dark; exposed to the sunlight it begins to evaporate. …

    You get what You ask for.
    Conspiracy for example.
    If the PTB and its associates promote conspiracy-techniques as a tool of power, why do they complain that conspiracies flower, where the conspiracy-theorists try to uncover exactly that, what power does, expressed by the loose-mouth Huntington?

    Am I mentally retarded, or what, if I draw some conclusions?

    When exactly will Logic be excluded from the American curriculum, because it contradicts the american way of life ?

  15. February 21, 2012

    Yeh, This theory that Western liberal democracy is the end all and be all is, yes, “buttfuck” crazy. One has only to read books like anthropologist David Graeber’s “Debt: The First 5000 Years” to see how many alternatives there are to neo-liberalism. “Gift societies” are one example and the French intellectuals MAUSS group are advocating a look at them. Fukuyama, like most main stream economists, are propagandists. They have an ideology; a religion; to prove right. Has not much to do with critical thinking. Give me philosophers and anthropologists any day over this odd branch of academia called “economics” or “political science” (an oxymoron in my book).

    For further enlightenment, I prefer Scott Adams (creator of the “Dilbert” cartoons) “Way of the Weasel” for a study of human behavior. He contends that 5% of people are evil, 5% are good, and the rest are weasels. Food for thought.

  16. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 21, 2012

    What MontanaMaven said, in spades.

    I was going to ask Charles to hook me up with some venture capitalists to start our pilot Montessori School, but I don’t think he, or those with the capital, would trust me or my wife.

  17. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 21, 2012

    And of course, we would be remiss to discuss Fukuyama, and by association, Samuel Huntington without giving equal room to Edward Said and his rebuttal to this line of thinking.

    Edward Said Lecture The Myth of ‘The Clash of Civilzations’

    Note Said’s notion of what “American” and “America” are, and can be, depending on your perspective. He applies the same perspective challenge to the Islamic/Arab world.

  18. Jumpjet permalink
    February 21, 2012

    I haven’t read the book either, but I’ve been in classes where it was discussed, and much of that discussion centered on the concept of history. Apparently Fukuyama draws on a very Hegelian idea of history, the movement of the world spirit, the flowering of ‘freedom.’ Not that this legitimizes him, because Hegel doesn’t get universal love either. In his own day Nietzsche was quite critical of Hegel.

    Still, when he talks about ‘history,’ it’s important to realize the specific use of the term.

  19. LaughingCat permalink
    February 21, 2012

    Fukuyama is not an idiot. I like your term, high functioning moron, but it does not quite sum him up. Fukuyama is an intellectual who lacks ALL wisdom. Fukyama and his hero Leo Strauss were both intellectuals with a profound lack of wisdom. And now we’re supposed to give Dr. Frankenstein some credit because he’s tried to distance himself from his pigfuck of an ideology? I think not. People act like thinkers like Fukuyama aren’t indispensable. Fukuyama only tried to distance himself AFTERWARDS, when the damage was done and his theories utterly rejected from all notions of reality. Throw the ratfucker to the winds. No one will remember his name in 100 years, except as a minor footnote to history that he so grandly proclaimed would be over by then. The only purpose catch phrase intellectuals like Fukuyama serve is as a buffer for people like me. If I hear someone who spouts neoconservative tenets, deserves to be ridiculed like the cultist nuts they are.

  20. Kropotkin's Beard permalink
    February 21, 2012

    Of all the isms, anarchism seems to have weathered the storm pretty well. It is more relevant today than ever, considering that decentralization and horizontal democracy are almost necessities in a world of diminished resources.

    Top down authoritarianism, a legacy of the 20th century, must be destroyed, whether it be couched in fascism, communism or liberal democracy. Mostly because….democracy can’t operate under a highly centralized state. This is why the US is dying. We have an oligarchic elite which has no sense of the reality of the everyday working man/woman.

    At least, that’s my take. But you can’t predict history…

  21. February 21, 2012

    I doubt many in Singapore think this talk of capitalism and liberalism is moronic. They are a democracy on paper, and half of one in practice, where there’s been movement in a more liberal motion. Liberal democracy is the ideology of the day. Even if they became a very illiberal country, Fukuyama, per “The End of History”, would say that it only matters of they decide to follow an ideology that could have a global presence.

    Whether or not their are movements away from liberalism wasn’t the point, but rather there was a competing ideology other than broad brush liberal democracy. Not whether or not there were illiberal states – he says in the article that Russia, China, and much of the third world may remain “illiberal”. Not whether or not any competing ideologies might come again one day – he says that they might. Not whether or not their would be religious or nationalist challenges – he said they’re will be. But whether their are ideologies competing with a very broad brush notion of liberal democracy on the global stage. There isn’t.

    As to whether or not we’ve become more illiberal in the past couple of decades – again, that’s not important if you’re talking about what Fukuyama wrote. He says he’s talking about the “basic principles” of liberal democracy, ones that (he says) were in place in 1806. I doubt anyone would argue that we’re more illiberal now than we were 200 years ago.

    It’s a stupid article for a number of reasons, but it’s also one where people keep reading into it much more than what’s actually there.

  22. groo permalink
    February 21, 2012

    I agree that Fukuyama is sort of a Hegelian.

    But let me go back to Huntington, who phantasized a ‘clash’, i.e.,
    contrary to Fukuyama he envisioned not an end, but an ongoing battle in a dialectical struggle, which has to be won.

    So H. was in a sense a step behind F.
    That this is a bogeyman, he put up, is outside his mode of thinking.

    To put it in Jungian terms: It is the shadow, which we battle, which is the negative of our self.
    Iain McGilchrist would term this a left-brain bogeyman, which is a problem for the integrative ‘right brain’.
    Believe it or not, but this take at least has the advantage, to internalize the issue, in contrast to engaging in bloody battles with other beings.

    Proof?
    See this:

    When people think seriously, they think abstractly; they conjure up simplified pictures of reality called concepts, theories, models, paradigms. Without such intellectual constructs, there is, William James said, only “a bloomin’ buzzin’ confusion.”

    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/49414/samuel-p-huntington/if-not-civilizations-what-samuel-huntington-responds-to-his-crit

    This is very left-brain, and W.James does not come out good either, with this token.

    It is something like ‘The emissary’, in McGilchrist’s terms, trying to make sense of the world.

    What unites F. and H., is a rejection of a multipolar world.

    Not that multiculturalists are immune to that.

    In sum I would say that F&H were lost in abstraction, and/or abused it to promote an agenda.

  23. groo permalink
    February 21, 2012

    A general question (multiple choice):

    Is killing ideas better than killing people?

    a) killing ‘ideas’ has absolute preference over killing ‘bodies’
    b) ‘blood’ and ‘idea’ are equivalent
    c) only ‘blood’ creates new ‘ideas’

    Answer that.
    Thank You.

  24. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 21, 2012

    Killing ideas is a form of killing people. Allegedly, ideas are what defines people and distinguishes people from other animals/creatures. Kill that, and people are nothing more than hairless apes who walk funny. Maybe that’s all people are anyway. It depends on the eye of the beholder.

  25. February 21, 2012

    Huntington in the 70′s wrote that democracies that don’t focus on external enemies run the risk of falling apart (see “Crisis in Democracy”). I’ve always wondered if his “clash” theory was an effort to construct such a threat.

    The sad part is, when they teach international relations in universities they often speak of Fukuyama and Huntington as if they are important thinkers. Hell, they even throw in Thomas Friedman sometimes. That should be enough to tell you all you need to know about most academic international relations.

  26. February 22, 2012

    Why would anyone open up a book with that statement or something close to it somewhere on the book jacket? Put it down and step away from the remainder table.

  27. Mary McCurnin permalink
    February 22, 2012

    Friedman

    Shudder.

  28. Bolo permalink
    February 22, 2012

    Huntington in the 70′s wrote that democracies that don’t focus on external enemies run the risk of falling apart (see “Crisis in Democracy”). I’ve always wondered if his “clash” theory was an effort to construct such a threat.

    I wonder what would happen if a democracy were oriented toward a large project (or projects)–for example, “establish a base on the moon” or something else kind of far-out there. Something that would exercise people’s imaginations and provide challenging work for a large number of people. Doesn’t even have to be something so materialist, though my own bias is in that direction :) .

  29. John Puma permalink
    February 22, 2012

    I would suggest that getting decent food, clothing, shelter, running water and plumbing to the entire world’s population should be more than sufficient to “exercise imaginations” and provide great deal of challenging work.

  30. February 22, 2012

    @groo:

    a).

    My internal battlefield is strewn, and the war goes on.

    May it ever be so.

  31. groo permalink
    February 22, 2012

    @Petro,
    thank You.

    ofcourse my ‚multiple choice’ was poisoned in a sense, because killing ‘ideas’ is different from killing people.
    On the other hand we see this mixing in the burning of the Koran-scandal by NATO-forces.
    This is a classic confusion of levels.
    Cultures, where the holy scriptures are the literal word of god, can get quite upset, if the word of god is not treated with respect.
    We -ahem- enlightened people should be very careful with those sensibilities.

    The ordinary soldier/mercenary is neither an enlightened person nor interculturally literate.
    So it happens, that all those multiple-choice-options are instantianted, and the worst of them ultimately dominates.

    So it seems, that ‘we# have to work our way up, failing most of the time.

    Which requires a lot of frustration-tolerance, which only a tiny minority can stand.
    Decently educated, good peers, no personally experienced violence and such.
    At least this is my experience.
    I had the luck of having a decent father and a loving mother.
    What more can one ask for in life?

    If one digs deeper, it seems quite obvious to me, that the majority of political actors and P.-scientists/economists have character-problems.

    As such they phantasize a world which fits their deficiencies, which is a -ahem- left-brained world, where they construct an instrumental system of connections, where a holistic view is absent.
    If You follow this path, eg the transhumanist phantasy totally collapses.

    Maybe I should stop here, and devote a separate comment on the Fukuyama/Huntington-’problem’, as seen from my POV.

  32. Sanity permalink
    February 23, 2012

    I sometimes wonder if you guys are real people or just parodies. Because all you ever do is complain about how horrible life and the world is, and how worthless and stupid the people are. How have you not made yourselves sick with such a hopeless outlook on everything?

  33. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 23, 2012

    Sanity, the trick is to balance that hopelessness with the intoxicating elixir that goes by the name Raffi.

    Here’s Some Baby Beluga

  34. Celsius 233 permalink
    February 23, 2012

    Sanity
    February 23, 2012
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    When all is said and done, just remember;
    Eat when hungry, sleep when tired…

  35. February 23, 2012

    Thanks everybody for much food for thought and for Baby Beluga. (Now I have to swear off caviar?) I wrote a review of the new original series for Netflix called “Lilyhammer” starring Steven Van Zandt (of the E Street Band and “The Sopranos” about a mob guy in witness protection relocated to Lillehammer, Norway. Before I listened to Edward Said (Thank you, Morocco Bama) I took away from this series that there is no “clash of civilizations”. There are good people, bad people, a lot of weasels, and some fixers no matter where you live. And it’s kind of Jungian, yes. There are the Guardians of the status quo, very literal, very detail oriented. They attempt to keep order. And they are needed. Then there are the dreamers, the people who see in patterns. What I call the helium balloons. (I’m one). You need them to point out possibilities. But you need the other types to keep the balloons from drifting off into space. Unfortunately, according to Myers/Briggs studies, the order people are in the majority by quite a bit. So we balloons have our work cut out for us. Yes, they like to not just hold us down, but sometimes burst our bubble.

  36. February 23, 2012

    @Sanity, that’s ironic. Here you are bemoaning our bemoaning. Do you have something wonderful to offer that will lift our poor spirits?

  37. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 23, 2012

    Yeh, This theory that Western liberal democracy is the end all and be all is, yes, “buttfuck” crazy.

    MM, admit it, it felt cathartic to type “buttfuck”, didn’t it? I’m only half joking. There really is something to it. Remember this Larry David skit? Doesn’t that look like a blast?

    Curb Your Enthusiasm – Tourettes Outburst In Restaurant

    We will check out Lilyhammer per your review. It looks intriguing. My all time favorite is Breaking Bad. I’m addicted to it. It is pure genius, and I am an extremely tough sell. Also, it’s pertinent to the decline.

  38. groo permalink
    February 23, 2012

    ‘Sanity’ presents himself as an optimist of sorts.
    Due to his missing record here, it is unclear to me, what he has to say.

    Let’s see:
    “Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes : Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact”
    (Hodgson/Busseri jan-2012) — http://pss.sagepub.com/content/23/2/187

    This is perfectly compatible with Bob Altemeyer and others.

    Right-wingers divide into two types:
    a) the manipulators (authoritarian leaders)
    b) the followers (the not-so bright bulbs)

    There is a THIRD category: the ‘intellectuals’ of the like of Fukuyama and Huntington, who, more or less unconsciously enforce this relationship a-b.
    Somehow these ‘intellectuals’ make fools of themselves, because they rely on instrumental rationality, which is a left-brain issue.
    Here we are.
    This is very obvious in the US, Germany and France, somehow different in GB, which I currently do not understand, why this is so.

    Hegelian dialectics as a possible mode of progress is not bad in itself, but we have to acknowledge, that ‘we’ not necessarily are going into the direction of ‘progress’, but can equally go in the opposite direction.

    Habeas corpus is not a valid principle anymore.
    We are right in the middle of the way into the middle ages. Backwards.
    ‘Reasons to be cheerful on that?’
    Or moderately optimistic?
    Not invented here.

    Quite similar to modern physics, where the ‘arrow of time’ is indeterminate.

  39. February 23, 2012

    For the record – death is a part of life, so I embrace personal death, species death, even the death of Gaia herself. These are all inevitable, in their own time scale, and do not depress me at all.

    It is suicide that I rail against.

  40. Sanity permalink
    February 23, 2012

    Petro, you shouldn’t need me to tell you that your life is filled with so many treasures to be thankful for.

  41. Ian Welsh permalink*
    February 23, 2012

    I hadn’t heard Dilbert’s way of the weasel. I have long said that 5% of the population is good, 5% is bad, is the rest are just weak, which is almost the same thing.

    Sanity: I can only imagine you, 30 years before the sack of Rome – “your life is filled with so many things to be thankful for.” “I have hope! Things should get better again in about 500 years!”

    Yes, so what? People like you are why things like Fukushima and Katrina happen. Go be hopeful and thankful far away from anything that, should it fail, will hurt a ton of people. Lose your house, wind up on the street, and be “thankful”. Get born in the Congo, get gang raped, then have your limbs cut off, and be thankful.

    There’s lots of good stuff in my life, and that’s nice, but what worries me more are all the people for whom life is bad, and all the people whose lives are going to get worse when it’s not necessary and could be prevented.

    You go tell them to be thankful. Me, I’ve lived in places like Bangladesh.

    Sanity is not, “I’ve got mine, so who cares about everyone else or the future.” That attitude is why we’re in this mess to begin with. Be thankful all you want, but don’t tell those who worry for those who have little to be thankful about to smile and be happy.

    A few less self-satisfied people in key positions being “thankful” and instead worrying about what was going wrong and what could go wrong and a lot less people would be homeless, a lot less wives beaten and a lot less people dead or suffering.

    As for hope, I prefer realism. Hope where hope is not called for is delusion.

    Thankful and delusional. A large part of how we got here.

    “I’m so thankful I’m not one of the women being gang raped, or one of the workers who has to put together batteries with my hands or one of the millions who lost their jobs or one of the millions who can’t get healthcare so they spend my life in misery and pain which could be alleviated if the “thankfuls” gave two fucks about people like them.”

    Me, I hope that climate change only kills a billion people. And I’m thankful I was born in a first world country and so far have avoided the economic collapse. But who cares? What I’m concerned about is the people who are going to die and suffer who don’t need to.

    But you’re “thankful for all the wonderful things in your life.” Good for you.

  42. Sanity permalink
    February 23, 2012

    Good god, Ian. I’ve never seen a left-winger bitch so much about how hopeless the situation around us is and do absolutely nothing.
    If you are this aware about all the problems people in the world have, then get active! Don’t just sit around blaming everyone else! In fact, why don’t you run for office? You seem to know what needs fixing. I mean, if people like you aren’t going to run for leadership positions or support candidates who you can agree with, then what do you expect? Of course that leadership will be left up to awful people. Instead of talking about how much people are going to suffer, get involved in trying to solve the problem!

  43. February 23, 2012

    Ian didn’t say it was hopeless. He just said that fatuous and self-satisfied thankfulness leads too many to be sanguine about the misfortunes of others.

    I’m one of the happiest people I know. You mistake my expressions of concern for the fate of the collective as ingratitude for my own fortune. No, it’s just that talking about my own fortune is, at best, boring to others and, at worst, rude to those who struggle with less.

    You do know that there are those who struggle with less, right?

  44. S Brennan permalink
    February 23, 2012

    Dunno Ian,

    From my Facebook February 5th

    S Brennan
    Somebody will not be get invites to the DC-NYC cocktail circuit.

    Fukuyama: We should never have permitted the Chinese to deindustrialize a large part of the world. The Chinese have managed to play one Western country against another, stealing their technology basically. They succeeded because everybody in the West has got this short-term view saying: “I may be clobbered by the Chinese down the ro…ad, but if I do not make my money now, somebody else will get in. So I make business with them even if they rip me off.” This view is very short-sighted. We should have been much tougher with China.

    SPIEGEL: Could that trend still be reversed?

    Fukuyama: It is too late, at least in the United States. We have lost all crucial manufacturing industries to China.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,druck-812208,00.html

    Political scientist Francis Fukuyama was once the darling of American neo-conservatives. In a SPIEGEL interview, the author of “The End of History” explains why he now believes that the excesses of capitalism are a threat to democracy and asks why there is no “Tea Party on the left.”

  45. Celsius 233 permalink
    February 23, 2012

    S Brennan
    February 23, 2012
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thanks for that link. Fukuyama seems to have a pretty good grasp of the present situation.
    I’d have to disagree that it’s too late for American manufacturing, however; at least in the physical sense.
    There may be no will to bring it back in any meaningful way, but the physical capability is certainly there.
    I remain pessimistic regarding the future, because Americans lack a coherent vision of said future. They have also lost all apparent sense of any unity; preferring instead to hide behind their various isms.

  46. jcapan permalink
    February 23, 2012

    As Ian said, “Delusion” would be the better alias for the hopemonger. And you don’t have to go as far as Bangladesh to find reason to despair. In our own “1st world” digs:

    In 2011, “80% of residents [on the Pine Ridge Reservation] are unemployed (versus 10% of the rest of the country); 49% of the residents live below the Federal poverty level (61% under the age of 18); Per capita income in Shannon County is $6,286; The Infant Mortality rate is 5 times higher than the national average; Native American amputation rates due to diabetes is 3 to 4 times higher than the national average; Death rate due to diabetes is 3 times higher than the national average; and Life Expectancy in 2007 was estimated to be 48 for males and 52 for females”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Ridge_Indian_Reservation

    Just like a brothel, apparently some are also be born into houses with rose-coloured windows. Count yourself among the lucky and turn away from those of us with a more perceptive sense of reality.

    And electoral politics as a solution to what ails us or our society—the best comedy writes itself!

  47. Morocco Bama permalink
    February 24, 2012

    And electoral politics as a solution to what ails us or our society—the best comedy writes itself!

    Yeah, I caught that myself. I laugh out loud whenever anyone says “call your Congress Critter”, or “run for office” as a solution to these complex systemic issues.

    Also, Fukuyama, despite his quasi reversal, still has it wrong. It’s not the “excesses” of Capitalism. It’s Capitalism, or what is called Capitalism. I say what is called Capitalism, because despite what Capitalism was once supposed to be, what matters is what Capitalism is in practice, and this is what it is…….Excess….for a very few….destitution and poverty for the many….ultimately.

  48. S Brennan permalink
    February 24, 2012

    My comment on the post

    S Brennan
    I’m not that worried about how this will evolve…but then I don’t have children, if I did, I’d be scared to death for what will happen to them. Voting for the lessor of two evils got us here, it surely won’t save us.
    February 5 at 12:13pm · Like

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