re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives


Richard Moore

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From: “Claudia Woodward-Rice” 
Date: 10 October 2009 21:53:34 IST
To: “‘Richard Moore'” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: beliefs, progressives, and conservatives

Hi Richard;
Your post “some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives”  is one of your best and I’ve posted it at:

The media and the internet now allow partisans to clump together in echo chambers and avoid exchanging ideas. Which keeps them from recognizing how damningly similar their fears and complaints are! 
In the 20 years I’ve lived in Hawaii I have become achingly sensitive to the consequences of Colonialism and the resulting cultural dysfunction, and sense of powerlessness.  The destruction of human culture in favor of popular culture in the US has changed us from a “Can do” people into colonialized captives.
Your thoughts are timely and ripe to spread!

Hi Claudia,
Thanks for posting on your website. I like your term, “echo chambers”. I suppose the reverse of the rejection syndrome is the agreement syndrome. We like to reject what challenges our identity, and we like to hear what echoes our identity. Both syndromes inhibit learning. And perhaps both of these syndromes are encouraged by our educational system, which is structured to make learning as painful and unrewarding as possible. 
I also like your emphasis on culture, human culture vs. popular culture. I would reframe that however as folk culture vs. synthetic culture. Folk culture evolves and is passed down as our shared heritage. It arises from the people, as language, music, art, and shared perspectives and values. It can be a powerful force against undesirable change, and the destruction of culture has always been part of the capitalist-imperialist project. Missionaries: the first wave of capitalism’s shock troops, as so clearly illustrated in Hawaii, where they came to do good, and did very well – as regards lining their pockets and destroying the local culture.
If you control the culture, you control the people. The USA has always been a great innovator in the control of culture, and the production of synthetic culture. It began with the creation of a mythological culture, pluralistic democracy, and it purged immigrants of their cultures with it’s melting pot ethic. Then we have synthetic culture developed as a high art form in Hollywood, and as a science on Madison Avenue.
TV series and films present various synthetic cultures, telling us what doctors are like, and crime-scene investigators, politicians, blacks, feminists, environmentalists, CIA agents, terrorists, etc. The same synthetic creations show up in different series and films, and in the news. We feel we are being exposed to ‘what the world is like’, from ‘multiple sources’, and it’s all mirrors reflecting the same puppet show. 
From: Margaret Wyles 
Date: 10 October 2009 17:13:50 IST
Subject: RE: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives

rkm> The media doesn’t say We want to destroy the family, rather it talks about a woman’s right to a career… 

Over a year ago last June I was relieved of my full time position in the financial industry.  I had worked there for 10 years with true dedication, often sacrificing all or part of my weekends and weekday evenings to help support the company.  I have two kids, but managed to ‘juggle’ my various responsibilities, like the superwomen we’ve all been conditioned to emulate.  My time with the kids was sandwiched between cleaning, washing, getting ready for work and decompressing from the day’s work.  I would bark orders, hurry them along to keep everyone on schedule, and not infrequently vent my frustrations by taking it out on them.  Our family vacations were brief – I could never steal more than a week away from work at a time.  You get the picture.  I thought I was liberated, but I was no more than a wage slave that happened to be a woman.
      With time on my hands now to play cards with them, listen attentively to their issues and teenage tribulations, make their favorite foods, I’ve come to realize what a disservice we are doing to our kids when both parents work.  But few families can survive now on a single income.
      As you point out, and as needs to be said by people other than right wing religious fanatics, the media/government/whomever seems to be doing its best to create a rift in families which is quite easy to do when the media is able to spend more time with the kids than the parents.  I recently spent a great deal of time investigating the music industry and had occasion to watch several music videos that the kids are watching….  Many border on pornography (a very thin border, I might add) and have very dark messages about possession.  I’ve talked to parents and none of them have even seen them, though I’m sure their kids have.  I don’t blame the parents.  They’re doing what they can to put food on the table and can’t be with their kids 24/7. 
      But it’s clear to me as a parent of two teenagers that the media serves (intentionally or not) to either create or exacerbate a rift between the generations.  I’m constantly at war with the media, with my children as the battleground.  But to most teenagers, parents are idiots…just like out of the Simpsons. 
      Oh, and by the way, before anyone makes any suggestions…..I turned off the TV years ago, we live in a rural area and are surrounded by trees, nature, gardens, neighbors.  According to my daughter, high school was awful as the only thing anyone cared about was money, clothes, cars, etc.  So unless you’re willing to hide your kids in a basement, they cannot be protected from the outside world. 

Hi Margaret,

Hi Margaret,
Thank you very much for sharing your personal story. Very refreshing and grounding, given how theoretical we can be here on cyberjournal. I think we need more personal stories, and I’ll say more about that further down.
This ‘rift between the generations’ is related to the discussion above, about synthetic culture. The rift creates a break in the chain of folk culture, opening the way to reprogramming the new generation to the latest synthetic productions. Again, one of the good things about Ireland is that the rift seems to be less severe here. The adolescent years are always difficult, but here it seems to be dealt with in a more understanding way by both generations.
Consider the film Rebel Without a Cause, which has been characterized as marking the beginning of the teenager as an identifiable social segment. The question implicit in that film is, What is the cause? I’d never really thought about that question, but now it seems to me that the cause was the perception that the existing adult culture was sterile and bankrupt. The teenager wants to escape from that parental culture and find a better one, but doesn’t know of a better one. 
It’s really more an expression of frustration and cultural homelessness than rebellion. James Dean expressed that sense of homelessness very well. Like his peers the Dean character rejected the adult culture, but unlike them he couldn’t lose himself the high-school culture.  Pauline Kael describes the character as the “archetypal misunderstood teenager”. I’d say that ‘misunderstood’ is a symptom of cultural alienation.
It was the Dean-era teenagers who became the sixties radicals and hippies. Cultural homelessness had matured into cultural creativity. All over the world the youth were creating a new culture, and their music articulated it. There were even attempts to create a culture of self-governance, but they weren’t sufficiently developed to protect the cultural movement from political reaction. Out of some of those threads, however, came the consensus processes of the later anti-globalization movement. 
From: “Brian O’Leary” 
Date: 11 October 2009 15:08:14 IST
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives

Hi Richard,

Thanks for sending along your insights on the puzzling resistance to new ideas shared by the so-called progressives.  This addresses the nub of the problem that even folks like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore and other progressive superstars resist 9/11 truth, and just about everyone resists free energy.  Most people don’t understand that, and the situation continues to be perplexing without the kind of deeper understanding you are sharing here.

Warm regards,

Hi Brian,
And thank you for presenting that paragraph in your book, from Zwicker. With your research into free energy you are challenging the mainstream conclusions of thermodynamics. Those conclusions are based on the assumption that closed systems exist, systems in which mass-energy is neither created nor lost. As you point out, such an assumption has not been proven, and is at variance with Schrödinger’s equations, and with the experimental results of the many researchers you write about. 
Let’s consider this word, progressive. It implies not only a faith in progress, but also an imperative to pursue progress. Progressives always have a list of complaints, and a list of corresponding reforms. They are always wanting to change the culture, and they see government coercion (aka legislation) as being the way to get the changes they want. Legislated culture is synthetic culture. By their good intentions progressives pave the way to cultural destabilization and centralized tyranny. Be careful what you ask for.
From: editor@serendipity
Date: 12 October 2009 09:11:01 IST
Subject: Re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives

Hi Richard,
Thanks for this.
You make Ireland sound like a nice place to live, even if it is in the EU.

Hi Peter,
Thanks for reposting, and please add my email address. That’s how I meet new people  – my version of social networking. 

From: “Sue Skidmore” 
Date: 10 October 2009 06:24:58 IST
To: “‘Richard Moore'” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: RE: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives

This is extremely interesting.

Hi Sue,
I’m glad folks are responding to these ideas. And we need to realize that it applies to each of us. We all have dysfunctional learning patterns to one degree or another, in one area or another. Otherwise, we’d be enlightened. Speaking of enlightenment, let me say something about the Sufis.
I’m thinking in particular of a book by Idries Shah, Learning How to Learn. The Sufis are very conscious of the tendency of teachings to become dogmas and religions. Indeed, much of the Sufi literature is about the nature of conditioning, and ways of overcoming conditioning. It’s a great book, and not easy reading.
From: j fadiman 
Date: 10 October 2009 07:26:25 IST
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives

well said, thoughtful and wise. you’re getting clearer and clearer. 

Thanks Jim, and thanks for introducing me to the Sufi materials. 
It seems to me there are two lessons we can take from this discussion. First, we may hopefully become a bit more humble regarding our own beliefs and assumptions, and perhaps a bit more observant of our own tendencies to become defensive when challenged – at such times we might try listening instead. Might learn something.
Second, we might gain more appreciation of the fact that ‘educating the masses’ is a hopeless undertaking. Not only would we need to overcome the mass media propaganda, and the school conditioning, but there are all these rejection syndromes to deal with as well. And the psy-op professionals who program the media spins are aware of the syndromes and how to manipulate them. 
Let’s consider these lessons in the context of cyberjournal. To what extent are we just another echo chamber, talking to ourselves about what we already agree on? Are we wasting our time by exploring the depths of the depravity our civilization, when all we really need to know is that it’s got to be changed? 
What keeps me going here are the hundreds of messages I’ve gotten from you folks, saying that you’ve gotten a lot of value from what we talk about here. And compared to other lists I’m familiar with, I think we have more real ‘learning’ going on here than with most lists. We don’t just share information, we share our thinking, and we develop ideas collaboratively. I’ve learned a great deal from you folks, both in what you’ve shared, and in the challenges that have been raised to own ideas, forcing me to think things through again, and again. 
Nonetheless, I wish we could be more productive in an activist sense. For me, effective activism translates into just one thing: promoting community empowerment through inclusive dialog. I’m not sure how many of you agree with that view. To the extent there might be some general agreement, at least among some of us, let me pose this question: How could our work on cyberjournal make an activist contribution to community empowerment? 
––> One possibility would be for us to share reports about our own communities. What kind of activism is going on in your community, if any? What kind of locally divisive issues are there? Are there identifiable factions? What’s happening economically at the local level? I’m not sure what the right questions are, but if we start discussing our real communities, rather than theorizing about communities in general, perhaps we’ll stumble onto some ideas that we could carry into practice.
From: michael kirk-smith 
Date: 11 October 2009 21:18:18 IST
To: Richard Moore <•••@••.•••>

Hi R,

rkm> Ironically, most of my sentiments are in harmony with those of progressives, and yet my understanding of reality is more in harmony with conservatives.

This reminds me of the differences between optimists and pessimists. Optimists are happier people, but pessimists have a better grasp of the real situation (that’s a well-known research finding).

Hi Michael,
Perhaps both are over-identifying with their beliefs. It is possible to be pessimistic about the state of the world while being optimistic about the conditions of one’s daily life. In the studies you implicitly refer to, I’d like to see the measures that identify one as being a pessimist or optimist, and I’d like to see a category emerge of people who don’t fall into one of those characterizations. Without an insight into all three categories, I suspect interpretations of the data will be a bit blurry.
From: Thomas Schley 
Date: 10 October 2009 15:23:10 IST
Subject: RE: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives


There’s so much you brought in this posting.  I haven’t digested the half of it, but hope you bring us more thoughts on Zwicker’s work.  It rings true to me.  A good accounting on your part of people’s reactions when reading your book…a lot of room for self-reflection there.  How do I personally respond when I read it?   What is conservatism and liberalism?  Which am I?  Both I would say, much as you found by asking yourself that question.
You’re right about leaders being part of the problem.  Humans don’t need leaders any longer (did they ever? that’s another question).  
As to Irish culture being more human and family-orietned than you find in the States, I think back a generation (I’m 60) when my relatives actually spent time recounting the old days and family history going back at least 400 years in America and Europe.  This way of life was here in the U.S., but progress came much earlier here than Ireland, so not much is left but what the media tells us.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time in New Zealand where I have relatives.  New Zealanders are still friendly! It is still a bit like your description of Ireland.  Especially amongst the Maoris there are still strong family ties, respect for elders and tribal tradition.  A lot of this has broken down of course, but there is some resurgence of tribal values in the schools  Why?  I think it’s because people demanded it.  The same is true in Alaska where I’ve seen Native Alaskans trying to counter balance TV and computer games with Native skills and language in public schools.
I thought you might like to read the following I found in surfing the web.  I especially like the “cock-up theory” which I believe somewhat equates with your view of what Progressives believe…I’ll have to research that one a bit more.
The 21st Century: Humanity Comes of Age
In his endeavour to discover the truth behind the 20th Century’s disastrous record of conflict and war, Terry Boardman considered two seemingly opposite approaches to reading history, the so called ‘cock-up’ theory and the conspiracy theory; i.e. the assertion that events are manipulated by hidden (and not-so-hidden) groups or individuals.

Hi Tom,
Thanks for your contribution. I like your self-reflection, which is in line with the comment I made above about ‘learning’. And thanks for sharing about your early experiences with personal histories, and about New Zealand culture.
Like the rest of the progressive belief system, the ‘cock-up theory’ is exactly what the mass media promulgates. Thanks for the link to the article. 
Personally, I’m not eager to dig deeper into Zwicker. We got a big dose of his insight, and I don’t see much value in more doses, unless some need arises. What we need to do is keep what we learned in mind as we move on to other considerations. 
If we want to understand this complex world we need to be generalists. There are techniques to the science of generalism, a vastly underrated branch of science. One of those techniques is to delve deep enough into each discipline to understand the main principles, and then incorporate those principles into your world view. Too little time in a discipline leads to misunderstood principles, and too much time is a wasteful indulgence, as regards ones overall learning. 
And by principles, I don’t mean just conclusions. The principles of a discipline include its assumptions, its conclusions, and its open questions. In the case of mainstream cosmology, for example, there is an assumption that gravity is the only important force at very long distances. Based on that assumption, we get conclusions like the Big Bang and Black Holes, and open questions like Dark Matter. When we dip our generalist toe into the field of plasma physics, however, we find that the gravity assumption is on very shaky ground, given that 99% of the matter in the universe is in plasma form, governed by much stronger magnetic and electrical forces.
Mainstream cosmologists, however, reject such considerations. Like all specialist scientists, the assumptions of their field have become part of their identity, and their normal human rejection syndrome blinds them to such challenging information. We might say that specialists can’t see the forest for the trees, even in their own domain of investigation. The forest is the province of the generalist – the holistic scientist. And the forest is the whole forest, everything related to the human condition.
The same kind of blind spots exist in economics, history, and political science. In every field there are unexamined assumptions that throw all ‘consensus’ conclusions into serious question. The progressive habit of seeking reliable sources, based on independent experts, is a highly dysfunctional way of seeking greater understanding. Understanding requires thinking through questions for yourself, and keeping open to new insights and observations. ‘Experts’ give us only a superficial glance into a field’s conclusions, and tell us nothing about the underlying assumptions.
Thinking through questions is exactly what I’m doing right now. I never know where these dialog postings are going to lead. I’m as intrigued as anyone else by the insights that sometimes emerge. Thinking through, and mulling over are two more techniques of us generalists. If we aren’t satisfied with the consensus wisdom of the ‘experts’, we must develop our own syntheses.  
Do humans need leaders? How does one investigate such a question? To the generalist, the first step is to identify the best knowledge domain in which the question can be framed. The domain that occurs to me is that of cultural anthropology. Humans, being social animals, always exist in a culture. So our reframed question becomes, Have there been cultures without leaders? The answer to this is a clear Yes, if by leader we mean one who has authority over others, or who makes decisions for others. Such hierarchy doesn’t come into the human picture until after agriculture was invented, which is very recent in species and cultural terms.
Do we need leaders now? The fact is that we have lost the culture of self-governance, just as we have lost the knowledge of how to grow our own food, make our own clothes, etc. Until we re-learn how to govern ourselves we will be looking for leaders to save us, either of the political or the activist variety. But saving us means very little until we learn to govern ourselves. Like sheep, we might be led onto green pastures for a while, but like sheep those green pastures can be taken away, as we in the West are now learning.
From: “Howard Switzer” 
Date: 11 October 2009 02:40:34 IST
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: some thoughts on beliefs, progressives, and conservatives

Really excellent post Richard.  Loved it.  thank you.
  I am posting you my column for next weeks local paper because you mentioned the “great divide.”
 Best wishes,
Howard Switzer, Architect

Hi Howard,
I posted your column to newslog: