The first post tells why. It may be too little, but hopefully not too late.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

No Aurora, or Parrot paranoia

"А надо  бояться только того,
Кто скажет: "Я знаю, как надо!"
Гоните его! Не верьте ему!
Он врет! Он не знает - как надо!
But fear only the one who'll say,
"I know exactly, how."
Do not trust in him! Do drive him away!
He lies. He does not know how. - Alexander Galich

Economics is not my forte. So I won't talk much of it - but does our ruling Party really think that "command economy", as the Soviet variety used to be called, is the way the US should take? On the top of it, do they think financing it with the Barry-HOodean highway robbery of taxing "the rich" ever more makes it more hopeful?

Why I ask? In my continued discussions with the esteemed colleague from the previous post, he has recently come to what was the logical stage in the development of his "child disease of leftism" (as Lenin termed it, albeit speaking of leftism in communism). As the stages he passes through closely correspond to those of the world view of the Democratic party, it is instructive to mark this one. To wit, in his view, the example for America to follow is China. Not the Republic of China, prosperous despite (or maybe due to) its precarious existence. His beacon of hope is the People's Republic of China, a communist dictatorship that has only relatively recently allowed its citizenry to stop starving - by making them employable by the Western corporations, decentralizing and permitting free enterprise, and making the country the leading exporter in the world. In my colleague's view, however, this inclusion of China in the world economy is not the reason for the current improvement. In his opinion, the reason is that the Chinese government massively subsidizes all that's needed to get ahead.  Because no corporation can compete with the government, the US, with its backward capitalist small-government system, is doomed, as he thinks. Unless, that is, this country follows China's guiding light and gives the reins of the economy fully to the government, growing it more and more. Big government that ensues is thus a necessity, not a burden as we the benighted "conservatives" are misled to think by the "Faux News", having no brain of our own.

You'll say, "Solyndra"? Solyndra-shmolindra - it's just an unfortunate exception. You'll say, "the Soviet Union, which failed with its command economy"? Union-shmunion - and you are paranoid. See, it's completely different. In China, corporations are there, are they not, and they are surely capitalist - but the government is always just exceedingly smart and wise. In contrast to capitalist owners and the market, it knows which corporation is to swim and grow, and which is to drown, and spreads the wealth accordingly. For instance, some corporations are "too big to fail". Like GM, saved by the bailout, i.e., the money robbed... oops, taxed out of you. It does not matter that they may fail because what they make ain't good enough to be bought. My progressive colleague would never buy a GM-made car. They are entitled to be bailed out by the People's money because too many people would suffer if they fail - like Obama's friends from GM management and the UAW that gives him so many votes. It would be unfair and socially unjust to allow them to stand on their own. See, when millions are unemployed and get their checks because of (and sometimes for) not working, it is only just for us the People to pay others for working and making something people don't buy. That's why we the People now own 500 million shares, 26% of the company whose stock is worth less than 40% of what it should be to at least cover the bailout. After all, as my colleague's argument goes, aren't we subsidizing our farmers? Yes, we are - but at least we all eat, while not all of us drive Chevrolets, Cadillacs, and literally fire-breathing Chevy Volts, Cruzes, etc. 

And who indeed says that agricultural subsidies are good? One of their likely results is the catastrophic epidemic of obesity in this country - in part due to low prices on unhealthy subsidized foods. According to CDC, more than one third of the adult population and almost 20% of the young are obese. The latter proportion has tripled since 1980's. The unfair advantage granted to the producers of those staples - soy oil, corn syrup and corn starch, that is junk food (no fruits and vegetables except, very little, apples) - not only distorts the market, but kills. Yes, it is a personal responsibility to control one's food intake. It should not be discounted, however, that humans have not had time to fully evolve mechanisms for adequately dealing with refined and concentrated high-energy nutrients at virtually unlimited availability. This combines with effects of also very recent - on the evolutionary scale - low mobility that cannot be expected to be universally offset by voluntary physical exercise. Not everybody has the means, the time and the knowledge for that. Most importantly, not everybody has the will for that even when critically needed - otherwise there would likely be no obesity to start with. The government would rather try to tax and control people who are addicted to high-calorie foods from their childhood than to change its own agricultural policies that encourage the farmers to produce the enormous surplus of unhealthy food at the cost of healthy nutrition. Unlike drugs, where governmental attempts at supply control are negative and do not work (addiction rates have not decreased in decades), the governmental control of agriculture is positive and works quite well - to our grievous detriment. The government tends to know best - like it used to in the USSR. Or in China, which will eventually be the downfall of the Chinese economy unless they change more. Or may be I am just imagining, and nothing like that has never happened.

Indeed, I have more than once heard an opinion that those who came from the now extinct Soviet Union have a distorted perspective of paranoid obsession with the ongoing communist transformation of this country. Like Monty Python's parrot, communism is no more, we are told, it has ceased to be, - even in its own cage. It is even less likely to fly in this free country, and we should not try to sell the dead bird to the enlightened US public. Well, okay, it is possible that so many of us have gone if not postal then Forrestal, at least as the legend of his yelling "The Russians are coming!" goes. There surely have been mass delusions before. Judeophobia, for one, has affected Christian Europe and has been a major component of Islam since Muhammad. Nevertheless, all cases of mass paranoia have been due to intensive indoctrination, usually from a very early age, acquired, as they say in Russia, with one's mother's milk. One may be also prepared for accepting a paranoid cult based on prior prejudice and a lacuna where axiomatic religious feelings should have resided, like in the cases of the Manson family or Adam Gadahn, the American Taliban. We, who grew up in and escaped from the Soviet Union, have successfully withstood communist indoctrination, which not only presented the USSR as the pinnacle of human social achievement, but also depicted the Western society as hell on earth, where the rich and strong devour the weak and the poor, where "millionaires and billionaires" are ready to destroy the world in nuclear fire once promised some profit - never mind how they'd use it in the destroyed world, "stupid" as they are (another favorite term of the progressives). It is highly unlikely that having been immune to the Soviet propaganda, with its virtual monopoly on legal information and the scarcity of any illegal alternative, we'd be driven out of our minds by the weak, inconsistent, and contradictory ideologic information supplied by the "conservative" sources. 

It is much more likely that our dissent from the crowd educated at a comparable level in the US is due to our scale of reference, which is extended far beyond the abstract perceptions of communism that are available to US intelligentsia. This allows us to see the social phenomena not as discrete "line-item" events and occurrences, but as indicators of larger ideological constructs. Unfortunately, it is not (just) the economy, "stupid" (why can't they do without cussing?). Human history, even not so distant, has shown that people are capable of completely disregarding economy and their own material advantage - even their own lives - for an ideology's sake. Sometimes those are self-sacrifices that may be noble, altruistic and indeed result in a better future for others. Very often they are sacrifices of others by the ideologically driven leaders who themselves are doing quite well. It does not matter what this latter category calls itself - Secretary General and the Politburo, or President and his advisors, or Rais and his Authority - the result is the same. They are beyond critique, and they know exactly, how. Naturally, they also rely on unquestioning worship, like that accorded to Stalin, Mao, the Kims, and now - oh miracle! - Obama: watch the horrific Soviet-parroting organized mantric brain-washing of American kids, no different from that in today's North Korea. Those who are brought up worshiping an idol will hate his perceived human enemies - which is everybody who doubts his divinity and divine ideas.

The polarization of the country that took good root in the 1960's, despite apparent changes soon from hippies to yuppies, has created the indoctrination climate. One could say it was not communist indoctrination, even though "commune" was the name in vogue for the hippie groups. Communism as the term had lost much of its shine since Khruschev's denouncement of Stalin and become synonymous with oppression - not a good thing to accept when you preach love. Nevertheless, while not called by the dreaded name, not marching under the sickle and hammer banner, the anti-establishment, anti-capitalist and pacifist ideology was in service if not to communist goals, then to the goals of communists. Telling examples were the Jane "Hanoi" Fonda affair, and the "peace movement", in large part set up and funded by the KGB. No, the yuppified "flower children" generation did not become communist - they fought for peace and human rights. Along with the racism of the prior generation, however, they also rejected its other values - religious and thus ethical. Today, the generations of flower children and grandchildren rule the US and decide our future. It is not by accident that communists, terrorists, America-haters and Mao-worshipers keep popping up among Obama's coterie. Nowadays, it is the time-adjusted communist ideology of the current US government itself that works to destroy the hated capitalist system or, at the very least, to enable the benevolent power of the new Politburo over the "stupid" masses. For this kind of revolution, you don't need any cannonade from the Aurora, the cruiser that gave the signal for starting the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. No shooting, no civil wars - only the soft but firm congealing of power in the Kremlin, oops, the White House. Going by the same book of slogans of fair share, redistribution of wealth, "millionaires and billionaires" (used to be "bourgeoisie") - but with the book cover and the title and "the spectre of communism" cautiously stripped off.

To illustrate paranoid thinking, Robins and Post (1997) in their Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred note that for a paranoid "[w]hile there may be merit to the aphorism 'Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get me,' it is also often true to state 'Because they have been out to get me, I had better trust no one and assume I am surrounded by enemies.'" From this "often true" statement follows that paranoia can also be readily used as a political quasi-diagnosis that dichotomizes a continuous variable of perceived risk, making it easy to assign the individual at a first "symptom" to the affected group and dismiss any legitimate fears any group or its individual members might have. The progressives like to attack their opponents as mental cases. When they are in power, as in the USSR,  punitive psychiatry becomes a method of choice for dealing with political enemies, that is anybody who disagrees. Interestingly, however, it is exactly paranoids who "do not have adversaries or rivals or opponents; they have enemies, and enemies are not to be simply defeated and certainly not to be compromised with or won over. Enemies are to be destroyed" (ibid.). The paranoid log has always been lodged in the progressives' own eye. With Obama and his unconditional supporters, mainstream media filled with sticky-sweet adulation for him and hate for the half the country of enemies, communist demagoguery and deep reach into the control of economy - the parrot is alive and kicking. And it hurts.

1 comment:

  1. What do you know - an FB "friend" (FBF) of an FB "friend" of mine has posted (with the original accent) "Of course, fewer abortion than more ppl for the bourgeois to take advantage of." For those unwilling to decipher themselves, this means that the anti-abortionists' true goal is to ensure more labor force for bourgeoisie. To which the said FBF responds approvingly, "Gotta keep the labor supply up and the labor costs down. They also want to do away with minimum wage." This, of course, means that the goals of the contemporary US proletariat and progressive intelligentsia should be getting abortions up (perhaps precluding child birth would work the best), decreasing the labor supply, and raising the labor costs. That's going to be to the workers' benefit, but will punish those "bourgeois".

    Anybody still doubts of which feather are these birds?