Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We Stand A Chance, Liza

At my Nine Inch Nails post, a particularly dark rant observing the inherent bankruptcy of our current political system and its complete addiction to money, a thread of discussion developed where Liza postulated that all is probably lost. Evil has prevailed and will triumph. She challenged me to argue otherwise.

I will. Make no mistake. We are in a horrible mess. As I pondered human history in the context of Liza’s question, I found that I could not identify a period in history where we were not in a mess. I will disaggregate the human equation into major components and address each. I use hyperlinks rather profusely to support the remarks.

VIOLENCE
I suggest a quick scan of massacres and atrocities for a sense of the extent to which we’ve been killing each other on massive scales as far back as we can look. What is the global trend? Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works (excellent reads) recently wrote a short essay A History of Violence noting we are improving our sensibilities. Fuzzy Signals earlier January 2006 publication Tracking Global Violence (short and well worth reading completely) is consistent with Pinker’s remarks. It ties to the Human Security Report. On a global scale, violence is dropping and our tolerances are changing with, a critical distinction. Browse the report to your own satisfaction, but I will summarize the key take away point: A rise in global awareness has produced activism that is making a difference. Web 2.0 has dramatically escalated this phenomenon. Yes, we have Darfur. We have Iraq. Globally, however, violence is dropping.

HUNGER
The rise in global awareness is also having an impact on hunger around the world, but here the progress is slower and more difficult. While somewhat dated, a perusal of the following statistics shows declines in malnutrition world wide, but some areas fail to improve, or in some cases, have deteriorated. The reader can conduct further inquiries to verify my assertion that although slow, global awareness is reducing hunger. Granted, this provides little comfort to the six or seven million children that starve to death every year.

ECONOMIC DISPARITY AND POVERTY
Unfortunately, while the global activism that has borne fruit in stemming overall violence and produced less but some fruit in reducing hunger, it has failed regarding concentration of wealth and poverty. Don’t freak because they are socialists, but consider the WSWS take on the World Wealth Report, which confirms what we already know, the rich keep getting richer. The facts on poverty are painful and infuriating.

Here Liza’s gloom is most justified. The world continues to fail to distribute economic opportunity. Put most simply, the rich do not help the poor. They just don’t. Think the developed nations help the developing ones? Are you sure? The developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants. The course that began with Ronald Reagan in the 80’s, slowed by Clinton, and then dramatically accelerated by Lord Cheney, has produced the widest gap between rich and poor both in the United States and in the world, and the United States, the richest country in the world, now has the widest gap. In Europe and North America, the slice of the cake taken by the richest 1 percent is the same size as that handed to the poorest 57 percent.

Run by the wealthy for the wealthy, the government has implemented structures where the rich systemically take from the poor in the form of regressive taxation and ridiculous stratification of compensation. I don’t think Lord Cheney understands that if the right 550 people decide the US Government has a right to every nickel he owns in this country, they can take it. Of course that won’t happen, but if the trend continues, something will. The wealthy have forgotten that they prosper through a system that allows them to prosper. Effective leadership is required to remind them that payback is appropriate on a progressive scale. The longer we wait, the more blood accumulates on the other side of the dam, and the more brutal the inevitable adjustment. I am not predicting 1917 Russia (oversimplifying, the government slaughtered the rich and took everything they had).

We are talking about physics and thermodynamics. If the numbers grow too severe, a lot of people with nothing to lose will snap. Someone will find a voice that taps into this rage and it will resonate with the masses. Before they can kill this person, the message will be wildfire on the Web. Astute politicians will ride the wave. The rest are extinct.

RACE / GENDER RELATIONS
Ah, some good news. The progress on race and gender consciousness has been nothing short of extraordinary. Of course we are not finished, but look how far we have come in fifty years and give credit where credit is due. By 2050 the issue is toast minus a few pockets in pencil head idiots we can pop in their place as necessary. The progress varies by nation and culture, but all move in the same direction. Many nations (U.K., India to name two) have had women in charge, and the US may do so soon. We have a woman Speaker of the House, many powerful, successful, respected African Americans in Congress, and gender or racial bias in our work place is one of the fastest ways to get fired. The race/gender conversation is a snowball that cannot be stopped and as conditions develop will run over the pockets of areas not yet enlightened.

SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY,
Another bright spot, despite the momentary glitch by Lord Cheney’s usurpation of the findings of academic research, involves the advancement of science and technology, in particularly information technology, which is like greased lightning cutting across all fields and disciplines. I’m in higher education, but to watch me work you would think I am a computer scientist. I’ll spare you, but folks in higher education could not do what I am doing just 15 years ago. Not even Cheney can suppress Web 2.0. He may break the law or make the law to listen to us, but he can’t shut us up. He could grab me, then go get Sirocco, and then have you disappear, but that takes a lot of effort.

Not even Nazis can kill fast enough to stop Web 2.0.

ENVIRONMENT AND BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS
A frightening area, we face threats on several fronts. I won’t discuss global warming except to note that international pressure is mounting and once Lord Cheney leaves office the planet will begin the process. I fear China. Let them build nuclear reactors, and we should be on a mission from God to harness clean energies like solar, wind, and water. I’ll also skip the rain forest and tree slaughter conversation.

Few seem to consider front lines of the biological war we fight with nasty little things that want to kill us. Our ridiculous overuse of anti-biotics on our farms is a breeding ground for something small and awful. That gets little attention. What gets even less attention is in the absurd addiction to the perfect drug and the almighty profit, our farms commit the obscene. For example, read Fast Food Nation and you will learn that we feed chicken manure to cattle. In 1994 alone in Arkansas alone, the cattle that make our hamburger consumed tons of chicken manure. Then we pump the cows full of medicine to keep them from getting sick while eating chicken shit. Enjoy your hamburger. Far more dangerous are the military explorations into biological agents so powerful they cut through us like a Samurai sword cuts air. The worst agents are not public or listed on Web sites. Would a fanatical terrorist unleash such a monster knowing it means the death of everyone? YES. Seen Twelve Monkeys?

Unfortunately, Liza, the level of brutality from which we came makes for a long journey, and we have much farther to go.

If you are going through hell, keep going.
Winston Churchill

I wish had more for you, but not to worry:

We are making progress.

16 Comments:

Anonymous The Navigator said...

You continue to amaze.

Your closing line is poetry of the first order given your earlier posts, and I concur with the doctor's remarks regarding your images. You are a Web 2.0 poet crafting a new art.

Exquisite.

8/07/2007 10:30 AM  
Anonymous dustin said...

are you getting some of these images from deviantart.com?

8/07/2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Interesting post, x4mr. I'm impressed. I have some thoughts, but will respond later.

Navigator really likes you, x4mr.

8/07/2007 2:21 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Liza,

Navigator and I have some things in common. He may like me, but not enough to contact me by email or meet me for coffee. I have offered several times. I think he might be afraid of me.

Dustin,
Images can come from anywhere and I have a particular methodology. If it isn't obvious, I regularly modify the image to suit its purpose. For example, the original ghoul image had no green.

8/07/2007 4:17 PM  
Anonymous The Navigator said...

x4mr: Damned straight I'm afraid of you! I've read "Something Else" and am fearful of anyone who "has a friend" formally diagnosed with severe PTSD after a "border incident" and used EMDR to mend the psychotic break.

Did your friend already know about EMDR before he tossed his mind over the fence? How did he know EMDR would pull it back?

I'm glad he's better (mostly?). Make sure he doesn't watch "Flatliners."

Liza: I read x4mr's blog everyday and think it is terrific. As for the person who writes it, I am keeping my distance.

I gave up trying to guess what x is going to do with Premiere, but I have a good guess about the soundtrack.

8/07/2007 5:21 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Navigator:

I am delighted that you enjoy reading this blog, and you are most welcome. Your comments are also welcome.

However, I do remember a certain navigator stating that his "keyboard was sealed" regarding certain content. I also remember writing "thank you" to said navigator for making said promise.

The above remark is hardly in compliance and I seriously considered nuking it.

My friend is fine. If you go there again, I promise, your comment will be deleted. You may have noticed my relationship with my promises. I am not Roach.

I promise you risk nothing by having a cup of coffee with me, but if you wish to keep your distance, fine.

You know exactly what I am talking about.

LEAVE IT ALONE.

Oh, you are spot on about the soundtrack.

8/07/2007 7:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Cleveland.

I was surfing around. This place showed up on a google search. I can't relate to the cloth publishing, but your publication about the perfect drug and corruption and your letter to Liza are about the most refreshing words I have read in a long time.

Your pictures are great. They give texture (or something) to your thinking.

Good luck to you. Please, run for office. You get it better than any of them do.

8/07/2007 8:21 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

x4mr,

The list of the 21 worst atrocities that you link to is a real eye opener. I wonder how many people know that the annihilation of the American Indian claimed 20 million lives. World World War II tops the list at 55 million lives, of course, but that is mostly attributable to the advanced weaponry. I’m kind of surprised that Vietnam didn’t make the list given that all the wars starting around 1945 until the end of the American war add up to over 5 million estimated dead.

I think it’s worth noting that if we are less violent now than at other times in history, it is completely dependent upon our collective restraint in using our weapons of mass destruction. Not so long ago Lord Cheney wanted to bomb Iran with low yield nuclear weapons, and probably still does.

Also, we can’t measure violence strictly by the number of lives lost. There is a great deal more to violence, but I won’t go into it.

Aside from that, I would just say that I appreciate your perspective and I can agree, at least philosophically and on a very broad scale, that there may be some isolated reasons for optimism.

I choose to focus on the last six years of Bush/Cheney rule. The US, unquestionably, is the most influential nation in the world because of our military superiority, wealth, and the willingness of our government to intervene in the affairs of other nations whether justified or not. Our level of influence massively increased with the fall of the Soviet Union, and it is not likely to change for many years until some type of balance of power is re-established in the world. I would not suggest that there will be another military superpower, but there will be economic consolidations that will have tremendous power and considerably more control over their own destiny. Indeed, this is why the Mideast is such a threat to the neoconservative agenda. They own the largest share of the world’s remaining known oil reserves.

As for the rest of it, x4mr, there is no need to rehash the damage that Bush/Cheney has done so far to this nation and to the Mideast. We would agree on most of that as well as the presence of underlying forces of evil that compel them to do what they do. Our point of difference may perhaps be the extent to which we perceive the damage to be irreversible. You seem to have much more hope for Democratic rule than I do. Nonetheless, that leaves me with one remaining point based entirely on my own observation and life experience.

To remember anything that even comes close to the level of hatred that Americans now have for each other and for other people in the world, I have to go back to when I grew up in the south in the pre-Civil Rights era. Yes, it’s that bad.

Many political analysts have credited Bush/Cheney with “dividing the nation” with their extreme political agenda and the fear tactics they have used so well to advance their agenda. I would argue that it’s much deeper than a political divide. What may turn out to be the most devastating part of their legacy is that they have successfully turned us against one another, liberal against conservative, Christian against agnostic, undocumented immigrant against citizen, friend against friend, and the list goes on. These hatreds don’t reverse themselves when the opposing political party is elected. These hatreds become ingrained, a part of the culture, and they only subside when successive generations are exposed to and accept different values. It is a long process.

In the interim, we just hate everyone who has been identified as some kind of threat and disseminate our hatred as never before with all of our cable and internet resources. Worst of all, we turn our backs on the Iraqi people and refuse to acknowledge the dire humanitarian crisis that we are responsible for in the war ravaged country. We have turned against the occupation, but not because of them. So, what could this be about other than racism and hatred? And why do we so easily succumb when the ruling elite encourages us via their complicit corporate media to hate others when it is so clearly not to our benefit?

I do not sense that change is imminent, x4mr. Not any time soon.

8/08/2007 11:53 AM  
Blogger Liza said...

x4mr,
It appears that your fan base is expanding. Congratulations, you deserve recognition.

Also, have we established that Navigator is male? I have always thought so, but cannot be sure.

8/08/2007 12:03 PM  
Anonymous the navigator said...

Liza,

Intelligent post. I imagine x4mr will agree that improvement will not come quickly, but he can speak for himself, and speaking of x4mr,

I would like to note that you mentioned the PTSD and EMDR at an earlier site including that it was the result of a "border" incident.

I was only repeating earlier material YOU posted. I considered pre-published material fair game. I now understand your position and will avoid the topic entirely.

I can't recall if my gender has come up. I am male.

8/08/2007 12:20 PM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Navigator,

To understand my perspective, recognize that I am not anonymous. Anyone with an interest and even a little cerebral horsepower can find where I live in under a minute.

A fair number of people read this place, and I don't know who they are. You write that you fear me. Well, let's say there might be some folks out there that I fear. Got it?

Liza,
I completely appreciate your sentiments and concerns, and I hope you know that I realize such sweeping global statements are not meant to downplay the horror that continues. We agree on Lord Cheney and his damage.

Now don't anyone freak, but I think our country is having a "mini-holocaust." We have a terrible dictator and a party that allowed him to operate unchecked. We don't have Auschwitz, but we have Abu Graib and Guantanamo and who knows what other prisons.

Germany went into "never again" mode and I think we will too.

I think human history has been four steps forward, three steps beck the whole time. The bad news is that the three is brutal. The good news is that four is bigger.

8/08/2007 1:16 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

x4mr,
How long do you think it will take to go into "never again" mode?

Aside from the ACLU and the Amy Goodman/Dennis Kucinich followers, I didn't notice Americans being overly concerned about Abu Graib, Guantanamo, or CIA prisons. I shudder to think how all of that has been covered on America's favorite fake news channel, Fox News.

The problem is far deeper than a political party that successfully promoted an extremist agenda. It is about us, the citizens, the voters, and it is about racism, hatred, and evil.

8/08/2007 2:58 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

You don't live all that far from me, x4mr.

8/08/2007 3:10 PM  
Anonymous The Navigator said...

Well, x4mr, apparently Liza had the curiosity and the cerebral horsepower.

Got it. Consider the matter resolved.

8/08/2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Yeah, maybe someday I'll show up on his doorstep and pretend I'm a Mormon.

8/08/2007 7:54 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

I can dig up old copies of The Watchtower you could offer him.

8/09/2007 7:30 AM  

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