Overweening Generalist

Friday, November 11, 2011

#OWS and Origins, My Delusion, Taking Pulse of Zeitgeist

I've known possibly too much about the problems Unistat has fallen into for, oh, about 23 years now. And in a consciously unrelated event, after reading about the practical purposes of having a blog from fellow writers, I started one on May 6 of this year. At the time, what I saw in national politics was utterly dismal, and if anything, politicians were talking about making things worse (in their special language). If they were talking about solving problems at all.

I never thought I'd write about the all-but-hopeless political situation on this blog, but events led me to feel compelled to. It seemed only left-ish online magazines and blogs were talking about the same political problems I'd seen and cared about, and they were addressing possible solutions in a way that made sense to me, or at least seemed legitimate. There was virtually nothing in the corporate media.

So I wrote for awhile about what a sham I thought the Economics game was. (See here, and there, and over there, up on that branch, down here in this bog.) I could do another 15 like that, easily, but then the Intergalactic Committee for Legitimate Generalists might revoke my license, and you really don't want that, do you? I know I don't want that.

I'll have to space out my Potshots from here on in.

Along those lines - of politics and economics and money and slander and vituperation and Who Gets What (which reminds me of a funny line from Timothy Leary, who said the only honest way to talk about politics with someone else is when you're both down on all fours) - I started writing about what I thought were Missing Public Discussions. The ideas were, as I saw them, being discussed only in far-flung hamlets of Internet, and not on, say, the Six O'Clock Newshour with Pretty Blonde and Good Hair. (See here, here, here, here, and a few other places, for example.)

Now here's the funny thing: I did most - if not all of those - before Occupy Wall Street hit the news. Suddenly, most of those discussions started to show up in "public."

Naturally, I thought I caused it all. I was the Tipping Point or something. Maybe the groundswell was building, people were angry, desperate, scared, at wit's end...then the Overweening Generalist showed up and straw/camel's back...BLAMMO!: We had ourselves a Movement, buckaroo.

                                          The Great Canadians at AdBusters came up with this one

Now, I really didn't believe I had anything to do with it. It was a felicitous delusion. I had simply tapped into the zeitgeist. Those ideas were in the air. Part of the basic job description of the relatively unattached, free-floating intellectual is to articulate what's not being said yet.

But there was a primitive part of my brain that I think we all have which has to do with causality, observing that first this happens, then that happens, so this first must have "caused" that. It's a very primitive circuit and it no doubt did well by us for at least a million years. Which made me laff. My primate brain at work! There were millions of others articulating those ideas. And I'm glad we're talking about them. Very glad. (The discussions about automation replacing many jobs forever, what does work "mean" now?, what are alternate ways we can exchange value now?...these discussions still seem in the remote vanguard. But they will appear, as things accelerate toward some sort of - hopefully benign - eschaton.) The real work can finally begin, at any rate.

Now I've seen a few Origin stories about OWS, and I'll link to two of them here and here. These timelines/narrative of origin help sober me up...

49 million in poverty in Unistat, the richest country in the world...and we only have a little over 300 million. I find that disgusting and shameful. This should lead the Six O'Clock News every night in a sane society. But we do not have a sane society. We currently have something like a kleptocratic-plutocratic oligarchy that likes to call itself a democratic republic. We have to change that. And as long as money is in politics in the way it is now, not much will change. So we have to change that.

I was planning a long Missing Public Discussion on Ending Corporate Personhood, and one on Publicly Financed Elections, but then the Occupy movement started, I went down to the ones in Oakland and Berkeley, and those ideas were on the minds of most.

(This blog and its writer are overweening in their chauvinism. They seem to only care about Unistat's economic worries. Yes, it's true, the OG is ethnocentric and self-centered. But we DO care about England, and follow what's going on there. We DO care about the Euro and Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain. And we're trying to imagine the mindset of the Germans right now. We are greatly concerned about our cousins to the Great White North. All of us want to end the War on Certain People Who Use Certain Drugs, if only to stop the headless corpses on playgrounds in Mexico. We care about South American, Malaysia, Indonesia, and maybe especially Japan. I'm sorry to all our brothers and sisters in countries I haven't named. Believe it or not, we do care! But even an overweening generalist has his limitations, if only of space.)

A recent poll of 1005 people (not a very large sample, granted) had Occupy at a 35% favorable rating, with Wall Street and corporations at 16%. The Tea Party was at 16%, too. There are polls galore out there to Google or Bing or Yahoo. Things are moving fast. Things are exciting. Maybe at times a bit too exciting, but hey, you go with what brung ya. (<-----what the hell does that even mean?)

There was my delusional episode. There are timelines of origins in the links I provided above. But I think the second President of Unistat had the better perspective on these moments in history.

John Adams, long out of office, in 1815 received a letter from Dr. J. Morse asking for information about the American Revolution, its origins, causes and course. This information was to be used for a history of that period. And Adams wrote back:

A history of military operations...is not a history of the American Revolution, any more than the Marquis  of Quincy's military history of Louis XIV...is a history of the reign of that monarch. The revolution was in the minds and the hearts of the people, and in the union of the colonies; both of which were substantially effected before hostilities commenced.

In subsequent years Adams uttered variations of this. The Revolution took place in the minds and hearts of the people 15 years before a shot was fired.

Let us hope for a relatively peaceful adjustment. The revolution is now borderless. I fear for what hopes and dreams we were allowed to legitimately carry within us until December of 2000, September of 2001, March of 2003, August of 2008...whenever my Dear Reader thinks we truly began to be loose our tether.  But let's not give up hope; we need to preserve capitalism for its tremendous dynamic, creative force, but we need rules in place, and those rules enforced. We need a safety net...or what are our values? The values of Las Vegas?

I personally don't know anyone who wants that. Carry on!


SatoriGuy said...

Great post. I like to think that in times like these the overweening generalists are the ones who can perceive and articulate the infinitely complex problems humanity is facing.

Keep doin what you do!

michael said...

Thanks, Satori Guy.

I think you're probably a similar generalistic thinker.

Here's a version of my process on that level:

A constant: reading/talking/listening/watching and becoming overwhelmed by the dizzying welter of events, perceived possible forks history might be inching toward in certain domains, then doubting I have a handle on any of it, feeling "at sea" and then meditating/walking/free-writing/yoga/sex/smoking pot and listening to great music intently....then some IDEA comes at an odd moment. Something that seems to have coalesced. Then a testing, then a "what the hell I'm going to make some observations in a public forum and try to not be boring..."

And then the cycle repeats.

I appreciate your readership and kind remarks, man!