A reckoning is inevitable. It will come one of two ways. Soon, as an act of collective awakening, or too late.
It will involve a fundamental shift in our relationships, with each other and with the planet.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bill Bradley's Blind Spot

I was engaged by Scott Shafer's interview with Bill Bradley on KQED. I thought the digressions onto hoops and Trayvon Martin were unnecessary and distracting. It was very good to get caught up with his thinking. I have recognized and respected his voice since he served as Senator. I agree with most of his take and will buy his book.

I continue to be appalled however, and it happens all too regularly, to hear such interviews go down without a single mention from either party on Global Warming and the broader Global Eco-Crisis. For sure the paralysis in government, the economy, and international politics are important. But if anyone listens to the scientists - does Scott? - does Bill? - the Global Environmental Crisis is soon going to overtake all three of those issues and others, in urgency, in its impact on state, national and international politics and most extremely on the national and global economies. But, without drastic action, say in the coming decade, by the time the crisis pops up on the public’s radar, it will be too late to do anything meaningful.

Extreme weather continues to increase exponentially. Droughts and floods and fires place ever increasing demands on emergency services and will continue to upset the stability of agriculture globally. Supplies of fresh water will continue to diminish. The oceans are already in a crisis state and large sections of the oceans will start to die off. Fisheries are already depleted. Population will continue to spiral to 9 or 10 billion. Only in a few countries in N. Europe, and in a few other isolated areas around the world do we see anyone talking about or beginning to deal with this accelerating emergency.

The United States has lead the world down the path of war, waste, exploitation and eco-destruction, without the slightest nod to unintended consequences or a long term plan. It is our moral and pragmatic responsibility to admit the depth and breadth of our mismanagement and poor stewardship, and take a lead in reforming the global economy on a model of sustainability and economic justice. Before we are forced to follow.

It is the duty of journalists like Scott Shafer and writers and thinkers like Bill Bradley to - at the very least - factor the Eco-Crisis into your conversations. The corporate “press” in the U.S. has done an abysmally bad job at cutting through the denial and delay. What is the explanation for YOUR denial? Do you two think your elite status will protect you? It is deeply disheartening to listen to another hour of experts ignoring the most serious crisis mankind has ever faced.

There is a deep structural relationship between politics, economics, the information media and the Eco-Crisis. Do you not see it?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Different Conclusion

The time is rapidly approaching when what passes for the Left in the U.S. will be forced to name and expose the fundamental thrust of the Right wing ideology.

Background? OK. The Left has been conned into moving into the position of “center right” by the insidious pull of the Right toward the extreme right. By trying to play by the rules of honesty and fairness, compromise and the common good, the Left has allowed themselves to be co-opted and undercut by a less honest, less fair, less flexible and more damaging mindset: an adherence to a formulated, reactionary ideology that refuses to consider science, fact, reason, the public good, or a long term vision. With any luck, the merger of Fox and the blind ideologues will finally kill the GOP and bury its cancerous mental frame.

In the Huffington Post, author Chris Mooney cites and summarizes a total of 18 scientific and academic studies that define psychological trends that cohere with political alignment. People who hold Conservative and Liberal views divide along a growing and more detailed list of psychological tendencies. This is not the point here, only background, so you can look them up yourself. (Bill Moyers recently featured one not on Mooney’s list: by social psychologist Jonathan Heidt.) But to summarize the trends: Conservatives are: more likely to hold to traditional or familiar beliefs even in the face of contradictory facts; more driven in their basic psychological reactions by fear, including fear of the new; less likely to respond to or use irony or to value a sense of humor; less sympathetic or empathetic to less fortunate or disadvantaged people; more likely to justify wealth than economic fairness; less willing to acknowledge negative aspects of U.S. history; more likely to be strictly religious and less tolerant of other religions, and so on. Liberals are more: empathetic; open to new experiences; curious and creative; flexible in their thinking, more willing to question their own assumptions, and tolerant of other points of view (often to a fault); appreciative of art, irony, humor and the ambiguous in literature; and so on. Some of the studies suggest obvious causes like parental influence or life experiences that push the various thinking trends. Other studies attempt even to show hereditary differences in the way Liberal and Conservative brains are structured (similar to differences between males and females).

Analysts and commentators come up with a fairly broad range of conclusions. Some have the courage simply to ask (but not to assert) “are conservatives stupid?” Others suggest these trends should bring greater tolerance for the views of others. This is based on the assumption that some of the preferences are involuntary and extremely difficult to alter, either by choice or external pressure. And a pervasive tendency is to assume that these differences exist at similar “levels of thinking,” “levels of intelligence,” “levels of complexity,” or “stages of moral or ethical advancement.” This false assumption leads to another: that these different “mindsets” are therefore objectively comparable. And it is here that I jump off the Liberal “tolerance train.” Because I am sick, exhausted and angry at having my life compromised and my world destroyed by fear-obsessed, stupid, closed-minded (not to mention corrupt) people who think their beliefs are inherently superior to mine.

It must be said that two these trends represent nothing less than two stages in American intellectual and moral evolution: one more primitive, destructive, ignorant, immoral and inferior, one more advanced, wise, ethically superior and sustainable.

It’s time to call out the fear-based false patriotism and the hypocritical righteousness and to reverse the dumbing-down of the general public initiated in the Reagan years, and to elevate the value - the indispensable importance - of knowledge, rationality, insight, complex and flexible thinking in general, to their rightful place among American ideological values. Democracy is founded on the principle that an intelligent, aware and well-informed populace can be trusted to choose its own path into the future. When a national party and pseudo-intellectual movement base their authoritarian and backward-looking platform on willful ignorance, fear and an allegiance to dead ideas, they should be publicly shamed and run out of the political arena altogether.

So many commentators, right, left and center, are snickering up their sleeves at the absolute lack of competence among the candidates, it looks like the Republicans are on track to demolish themselves. Best case scenario: the Titanic right wing is heading, blindly and at full speed, toward the iceberg that is its own paralyzed thought process.

Friday, January 13, 2012

HuffPosts' questionable "Good News"

For all the good work Arianna does, her 'moderators' have an apparent bias against anything that questions or offers alternate visions to their 'experts.' My comment to Huffington re: their new 'Good News' page, has been edited out and not posted:

This is all well and good. But. Surely it's a good thing to feature good news in this, what I see as nearly the darkest chapter in our de-evolution. But it's tinged with a cloud of denial when we are not really dealing with the bad new on any substantive level. To wit: the fact that there is not an "ECO-CRISIS" heading up there. Aside from and prior to this complaint, I will criticize almost every 'news' outlet over the ceaseless numbing and dumbing-down created by the juxtaposition of bad news, good news, election news, dirty campaign news, cute pet news, abused animal news, titilating fashion news, domestic abuse news, war news, et f#%$King cetera. The juxtaposition, I argue, has the ultimate impact of trivializing all the news and numbing us to the worst of it, b/c we see there's a happy distraction after or under the next ad. The Global Environmental Crisis is, again, IMHO, the only issue worth citing, bad news mostly, good news rarely, solutions delayed so far into the future that they are unlikely to matter. Good news can only be appreciated or understood in the context of the worst case scenarios, which less than 1% seem willing to observe.