What the Hell is Going On in the World? LINKS 11/15/17

IDEOLOGICAL FRACTURES in AMERICA

Justin Murphy on whether America has become more conservative or more liberal:

If there is one substantial ideological shift in American public opinion in the post-war period, it is the dramatic and near-universal increase in social liberalism since the 1950s. There has not been a general shift to the left or right because economic conservatism has not changed much (although it has polarized on the left and right). There has been some cyclical, “thermostatic” movement in opinion (which is normal). There have been changes in symbolism (“liberalism” became stigmatized in the 1960s). And there have been some dramatic shifts in party identification (a pretty massive Republican resurgence with Reagan). Otherwise, one cannot say the American public has moved to the right or left as a whole, in any significant way, in the long-run or recently, except that it has become more socially liberal. There have been some interesting and substantial ideological shifts within groups, but that would need to be another post.

RUSSIA

Alexander Blum on anti-Russia paranoia as it pertains to the failures of American centrism:

The entire ‘Russian election meddling’ narrative is among the most elitist concerns in America. It reflects a tacit acceptance of financial disturbance in our democracy that is only upsetting when other nations do what we allow our own professional class to achieve each and every day. In the ultimate contradiction, centrist media have evoked nationalism to make us care about this issue, the same nationalism they decry in Trump as racist and exclusive. The Russia narrative is nothing but an attempt to shift blame away from the failures of centrism to stop Donald Trump and onto an amorphous foreign enemy.

Sheldon Richman: Quit Worrying About the Russians in Our Borderless World:

I see more than a little irony in the fact that those who would use the state to shield us from “Russian influence” also urge us to trust the “intelligence community” – in the absence of any evidence – when it (more precisely, a group of handpicked analysts) says Russia is working night and day to destroy America. The threat to peace and liberty is homegrown and resides largely in Washington, D.C.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Scott Locklin on decoupling from Facebook:

One of the sinister things about [Facebook] is having as an audience hundreds of people you barely know (and if your privacy settings aren’t set to maximum; the entire world). You begin to censor yourself. While this is natural in any community; these people are not really your community. There is no existing actual community where your Aunt Sadie, three of your ex girlfriends, a half dozen people you knew in the third grade, your second boss and some guy you met at a party once all watch your every interaction. Such an agglomeration of people is actually a nightmare.

Social networks should not be owned by profit-making companies; in this situation you are the product, and your very being is strip mined for nickels and dimes. It is inherently and trivially wrong to do this. We know now that some people catch depression from logging into this corporate dystopia. Some of the finest minds of our generation have worked very hard to make FB as addictive and misery spreading as a slot machine.

THE MIND AS A LABORATORY and/or HOLY MECHANISM

—This Erik Davis paper “diagrams the matrix of Jungian alchemy, Marshall McLuhan, and science fiction that underpinned the protocols and conceptual apparatus of [Terence and Dennis McKenna‘s ‘Experiment at La Chorrera’].” An excerpt:

On February 6, 1971, a handful of young Americans left the gritty Columbian river town of Puerto Leguizamo for the remote jungle village La Chorrera. They were embarking on a mission that could be described at once as hippie escapism, an ethnobotanical expedition, and an errant metaphysical derive. The instigators of the voyage were Terence McKenna and his younger brother Dennis, both of whom who would come to leave significant marks on Western psychedelic culture, both above and underground—Terence as a popular and influential raconteur, celebrated for his captivating mushroomfueled speculations and apocalyptic obsessions alike, and Dennis as an ethnobotanist and neuropharmacologist who studied ayahuasca and other Amazonian psychoactive preparations.

…Dennis and Terence were not just speculatively diagramming circuit-board descriptions of cosmic pharmacology. Instead, they were preparing to activate those schema within the metabolic and possibly ontological theatre of experiential phantasmagoria. If they had developed a sort of program, they intended it to run it within their own phenomenological laboratories. As Dennis writes, “The goal wasn’t simply to test the hypothesis but to fabricate an actual object within the alchemical crucible of my body”…

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