Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Case of Mass Hysteria Writ Large

Keepers of the Holy Shit: We take brownnosing to a whole new level.

A Deliricum of Wisdom

The current global rise of identity politics including the apparent immunity to facts and inherent preference for false albeit bias-confirming news seems to have all the hallmarks of a biological pandemic not unlike the flu pandemic that swept the world in the aftermath of WWI. That is, it actually represents an objective phenomenon that has all the basic characteristics of a serious viral infection. It spreads mostly through the internet by using “alternative” networks and channels, ones that have emerged all too gradually and whose creators may not have given much thought to any potential long-term impact of their activities. If in time there appeared specific outlets and groups that intentionally sought to disseminate and amplify certain fake news in service of certain parties and causes, this development does not necessarily give any control to these parties over the larger phenomenon involved, albeit it might position them to benefit from it at least on the short term. This does not make them any less susceptible to the potential destructive long-term consequences than the rest. Immunity to this particular outbreak involved cannot be built in such manner.

Meanwhile, those who are interested in stopping the outbreak have to also ponder how to best manage and mitigate its diffusion and impact. Since the infected are too many to quarantine the actual challenge seems to call for finding ways to immunize those who have not contracted the disease, starting with those whose social, educational and ideological background make them more predisposed to getting infected than others.  

Since we cannot reason with a disease, those already infected may be unreachable at this stage, that is, we may not be able to directly debate the issues with them for the time being. The common language has disappeared. The best that we could do at this stage is to let the thing run its course while helping to boost the natural immune system of the people involved and their natural defense mechanisms. This task requires showing them more empathy and care than hitting them on the head with “our” facts. Those of “us” engaged in the latter practice have themselves contracted the disease. Indeed, we cannot deal with others armed with a holier-than-thou attitude seeing that is one of the main conduits for the infection.

The “us” vs. “them” dichotomy involved here is not based on ethnic, religious, ideological or political background but on the ability to remain attentive to what one is saying and doing at very given moment in order to ensure that one’s words and deeds do actually correspond to the values that one claims to hold.

The disease is manifested more as a mindset than as a set of specific ideas, that is, as an inherent predisposition to irrational tendencies and heightened alarmism that seems to plague our human nature. Ideas are important components of it of course, but the disease cannot simply be reduced to them. The ideas in this case are mere symptoms of the phenomenon confronting us.

At its core, ours is not a simple battle of ideas, but a test of our ability to empathize with those who are different from us however each of us defines themselves.

In practical terms, this requires to us to try to see things from their perspective and to listen to what they have to say in order to identify their underlying concerns and try to help them address these concerns. We cannot ignore their concerns any more than we can ignore ours. If we could reflect this in our behavior towards the, they might, in time be able to do the same. Empathy, too, can be infectious.

And… that’s it. That’s what we need to do. We need to fight one pandemic (Mass hysteria) by stoking another (mass empathy).  

The Delirynth  
A rundown of developments from around our labyrinthine world. Readers are advised to constantly remind themselves that we actually do live in the world where these things are happening.

North Korea Accuses China of ‘Mean Behavior’ After It Tightens Sanctions.” But China says “North Korea's nuclear plan is a problem between U.S. and North Korea,” while Trump complains that North Korea “Should Have Been Taken Care of During the Obama Administration.” For background on this gripping saga featuring fratricide, pop stars, pranksters and deadly nerve gas BuzzFeed has us covered.

‘Moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood Mourns Terrorist’s Death. This hands the Trump Administration more ammunition in its ongoing efforts to classify the movement as a terrorist organization, even as its plans to do the same with the far more deadly IRGC seem stalled. At end of the day, in the absence of a coherent strategies for dealing with Iran and Islamist extremism, both measures, if adopted, will likely backfire.

ЯeveЯsed Polarity (ЯP)
Яeal news and headlines from the age of the infamous TrumPutin when ЯeveЯsing the polarity of our minds is a Яite of Passage.

Comment: Идиоты всего мира, саюдинитесь!

Comment: Any accusation levelled by Mr. Trump only serves to reaffirm the meaning of the term “trumped-up charges.”

Comment: Yet, this is Mr. Trump’s primary source of information!

Beyond Polarity: Yes, this all too sincere and heartfelt warning actually comes to us courtesy of the very people who helped facilitate the Obama’s Administration’s disastrous “blundering” in regard to Syria, Iran, Ukraine, Russia and beyond: Robert Malley and Marc Lynch. They apparently think that enough time has passed for them to safely rear their ugly shit-filled heads out of whatever “safe space” in which they sought shelter over the last few weeks. But today’s incompetent ideological lot should not make us forget yesterday’s. Indeed, we should never forget, not for a moment, that the global mess we are witnessing unfold today comes to us as the storied legacy of the Obama Administration, especially its accumulated missteps since 2009 and its failure to support the Green Revolution in Iran. In fact, the current mess is the cumulative product of the worst that both the Left and the Right have had to offer over the last two decades. Opposing Trump’s worldview should lot lead us to embracing Obama’s. Condemning Trump should not lead us to forgive Obama. For all the highfalutin rhetoric and the layer of civility that the latter and his advisers adopted, their policies were no less cynical than those currently advocated by Trump and his associates. It’s by policies that politicians should ultimately be judged not by their rhetoric and personal appearance and manners. Trump, Obama and their  trusted advisers are all creatures of the swamp, and the swamp is far bigger than Washington D.C.

Beyond Polarity: America is deeply flawed, but, at almost every critical historical junctures in its history, it managed to land on the right side of it. It did it in the face of its flaws not because it had none. It did it because its institutions worked, and they worked because enough people attached to them managed to remember the ideals upon which this country was founded. We cannot afford to let our ideals blind us to our flaws, or vice versa. We should be mindful of both to keep moving forward.  We are never immune to the temptations of authoritarianism and fascism, but we do possess what it takes to overcome them. 

The Golden Leek Award: An award given annually by the White House and the U.S. Congress to those public institutions, state and federal, that succeed in keeping their leaks below certain proposed and annually revised levels. The choice of a leek as the shape of the golden statue embodying the award comes as a reflection of the dry sense of humor of the American political elite.

* Though many of us may be unable to see this, inaction is no less conducive to evil and mayhem than action.

* Oh how oft we have done this before, that for fear of losing control over who we are, we willingly give it up to shadowy figures and entrust them with our protection.

* Not every impulse is evil, but every evil begins as impulse. Not every choice is good, but every good is essentially a choice. We don’t get to be good by instinct, but by choice.

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