Sunday, November 10, 2019

Late-Stage Capitalism, twists our thinking, and gives us the right to hurt others

If you've noticed, I haven't been blogging much lately. I've been distracted by bigger societal concepts that I'm finding aren't easily explained. But as a lifelong Wisconsinite, one issue does hit closer to home.

The bottom line is this: The fight to change Wisconsin is nearly impossible now, not that anyone should stop trying. Real change is at least 10 to 20 years off, so if you're already over 50, what we have now isn't going to change much.

Scott Walker's Wisconsin has always been ahead of Trump's dystopian authoritarian movement nationwide. The state is now sealed up tight by confident gerrymandered Republicans who can spitefully and arrogantly block every move by elected Democrats. And right-wing voters won't vote against their own party, ever. 

Lost Decade and More...: Wisconsin's "real Americans" have made it perfectly clear; if we don't like it here we should leave. In other words, "liberals" should give up on over 50 years of investment in our families and homes, all treasured values made as irrelevant and worthless as downloadable music. The "radical liberal" agenda has been stopped, so we can preserve our amazingly perfect state.

Enter...The Thinking made possible by Late-Stage Capitalism: The effect on all of us emotionally is a weapon used by Republicans to create fear, division, and mistrust. The following is normalized:
“How is it so many of the poor vote against their economic interests by putting robber baron Republicans into power?” The benefit these Republican voters are getting is a visceral one ... Better a stable world that’s familiar, in which I’m doing pretty poorly, than dealing with all the ambiguity of a changing world. It is catharsis. You get someone who’s good at manipulating those emotions and what they do is to raise every terrifying prospect one could imagine: “We’re being invaded by hordes of rapists and drug dealers, etc. The whole world is laughing at us, but here’s the solution. The solution is me.”
This is the stress that pushes people towards parochialism and banding together with comfortingly similar faces. This type of stress pushes people towards being less empathetic. It pushes towards the worst kinds of stress management, which is scapegoating.
Capitalisms Worst: Welcome to Fitzgerald/Vos's World: How we got here is explained to some degree, and it makes you wonder how we're ever going to pull ourselves out of this deepening resentful morass: 
How capitalism created the post-truth society — and brought about its own undoing: When historians are studying the rise and fall of capitalism, they might look back at Glenn Beck’s 2010 Earth Day meltdown as a seminal moment.

8 years ago Glenn Beck essentially prophesied the brand of spite politics that animates much of the right today. Beck gleefully … turn on as many lights as possible in his home during Earth Hour, and to intentionally pollute as much as possible on Earth Day. “I’m going to burn garbage in my backyard with Styrofoam.” Beck told a caller on his April 22, 2010 radio program, “Have you cut down your Earth Day tree yet and put it in your living room? It’s great.”

Beck seems to believe it is his individual choice — his individual freedom, he believes (or is told to believe), and that burning Styrofoam is somehow as American as apple pie. Beck, of course, doesn’t own the atmosphere. We all have to breathe the same one.

 Yet capitalism begat this culture, this notion that we alone have the individual right to do whatever we want with our time, money, or our lighters — even (or especially) if it hurts others. Capitalism, to function, requires us to collectively deny the sheer idea of the collective good. The ideological core of late capitalism is the supremacy of the belief in one’s individual beliefs and actions — regardless of how they make others suffer, or are morally or factually wrong.

Neoliberal capitalism requires us to have the maximum degree of consumer freedom, yet almost no economic or political freedom. One might come to believe that we have the right to believe whatever we want to — even if those beliefs are immediately provably untrue. Freedom to believe in one’s own, individual universe; freedom to pick and choose facts, and discard those that are disagreeable. My slightly shocking proposition, then, is this: what if capitalism, ultimately, has created its own undoing by normalizing a post-truth society? 

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