Tuesday, June 30, 2015

America's Dark New World of Total Mistrust

Lately it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it's been.
Grateful Dead: Truckin'

Grateful Dead: Truckin' [image]
Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me;
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me What a long, strange trip it's been.

What in the world ever became of sweet Jane?
She lost her sparkle, you know she isn't the same
Livin' on reds, vitamin C, and cocaine,
All a friend can say is "Ain't it a shame?"

Hardly anyone would question that the United States has been on a long, tormented journey for some time. And now, after such a long strange trip, what a strange election this one has become. There's little to be gained from "waxing poetic" as we consider the state of the nation, but -- sooner or later -- we find ourselves inevitably abandoned with the conclusion that we Americans have officially become the "circus of the bizarre."

Many of the trappings of the old democracy remain in place -- at least carefully convincing images of them. There are voters, and there are elections. There is plenty of politics, and there are plenty of politicians. But, even in the close presence of all of this reassuringly stoic, insistent "same as it's always been," ghost-like stability, we see unsettling, intrusive glimpses heralding the wraith-like arrival of a "new order of things."

This post might, at this point, rush off to embrace any number of matters arising from such strange happenings, but, instead, we'll spend a little time looking over the really toxic "state of trust" which seems to have drifted over our nation like a dismal morning fog.

A Few Thoughts About Trust and Mistrust

Trust is an interesting human trait. The term and the concept supporting its meaning are passed around "fast and loose," usually with "implied meanings" which happen to be conveniently appropriate to support arguments being expressed about someone's thoughts or behavior. Still, the word should call to mind some sort of usable context when its use is more deliberate or, perhaps, even objective. Here, we can indulge in a short anecdote to illustrate both the strength and weakness of such hypotheses.

Person "A," the one preparing to "trust" person "B," is hosting a mental model of "B" which is comprised of all sorts of values, priorities, fears and so forth. Some of these foundation elements are the product of "A's" conclusions based on experiences with "B" in the past; some may be based on things which have been related to "A" by person "C" about person "B;" and yet some others may be founded on little more than person "A's" flimsiest hopes, dreams or fears about person "B.

Of course this last bunch of "flimsy hopes, dreams and fears" can, in an undisciplined mind, slowly congeal into a concrete-like state which can be described as "mistaken certainties." Once these little hobgoblins have managed to attain this "apparently logically solid" state, person "A" has, generally speaking, established the set and script for an endlessly repeating stage play establishing absolute, unquestioned "victim-hood."

Naturally, the final product which person "A" develops will have a great deal to do not only with precisely what sorts of "flimsy hopes, dreams and fears" person "A" brings to the party, himself, but also with the motivations and ambitions of this "third party" player, person "C," especially with respect to any particular appetites this person "C" might hold in hopes of being considered "quite trustworthy" by his listener, person "A."

After tediously acting through enough repetitions of these brazenly fabricated, utterly inauthentic, soul wrenching, maudlin, "lipstick drenched lamentations," person "A" is, finally, feeling completely justified in no longer, ever, trusting anyone ever again. 

At this point, person "A" has transformed himself into a "trust nihilist," that is, an irredeemable cynic. Further, although this "wall paper" of patented pattern skepticism may have originally been limited to a specific arena of human experience such as religion, politics or "the market," once this "nihilism" is firmly in place, person "A's" cynicism effortlessly spreads to everything...absolutely everything...including, tragically, even person "A," himself!

Humans have a long, successful history of cooperating on projects from building stockades to keep the wolves away from prehistoric flocks of sheep to creating each one of the forty million parts required to build a space shuttle. All this cooperation, boiled down to its bones, has been the manifestation of trust between the parties undertaking such projects.

Trust also comes in degrees and grades. Toward the end of WWII German troops made great efforts to surrender to western armies rather than to the Russians. After stripping the attractive fantasy of "foolish nobility" from these allied troops, we face the real possibility that very many of these "victors," left to their own conclusions about Germans in the day, would have been "quite untrustworthy" as captors, yet it was not the troops the surrendering Germans were "trusting," it was the command. The policy of the allied militaries was, in fact, at least more trustworthy than the corresponding policy of the Russian military command.

And even this example also paints the picture of the converse argument. Perhaps the Russian command was extremely trustworthy with respect to the treatment the surrendering Germans could expect. It was simply that what the Germans trusted the Soviets would do with them was, frankly, horrible.

Trust can be equally motivated by the prospect of realizing an advantage or the prospect of avoiding a disadvantage based on the cooperation of another. This means that the very essence of trust resides in the expectation that one thinks he knows what the other will do or think once that other one encounters a certain circumstance.

This principle is at the foundation of modern religionist logic as it is connected to the "mysterious" transactional behavior attributed to various dieties. While there is a suspicious paucity of details of such actual "transactions" between mortals and gods -- no action taken by a mortal is guaranteed to elicit a specific reaction on the god's part [i.e. the "transaction:" this for that], the believer is encouraged to "trust" his god blindly. Such a "trust" is carefully designed to reflect what might be more accurately considered a "confidence" that the nature of the god is, in fact, what is propounded in the tenets of the religion.

Consistently focusing on the "wickedness" or "deceitful nature" of "untrustworthy" mankind, religions, generally, promote mistrust of Earthly issue for the precise reason that it protects their franchise. Further, when mistrust and cynicism are running at their highest intensity here on Earth, the "religionist option" becomes more and more attractive to those lost in the depressing mire. They have been charged to "interpret" the success of all these efforts quite positively regardless of the generally less than persuasive, material results.

When we "trust," it is the result of our conclusion that we are transacting with a consistently predictable system. When we do not "trust," our appraisal of this system has left our conclusions about it unpredictable. The "reasons" which have led us to such conclusions come in a very wide variety. Those reasons have a certain quality to them that can allow them to sometimes become unchangeable.

When we can no longer "trust" anything or anybody, we have become hopeless nihilists.

While this nihilism may, at first glance, seem to describe a useless, terrible state for human experience, even this pitiable condition can be converted to a certain, dark utility. A handful of our fellow humans have "bet the bank" on exploiting precisely this opportunity.

Those would be the Owners of the Republican Party, the "puppet masters" promoting this mistrust in the hope of ultimately fulfilling their dream by eliminating the possibility of a large, powerful, voting majority committed to anything which might oppose them. Not unexpectedly, the particular mistrust about which they hold to have the very greatest promise is the mistrust of our own government. Of course there are issues meriting caution with such a large, powerful entity, but these oligarchs will settle for not one iota less than complete mistrust of every possible part.

Of course, having so crudely visited these hypotheses, this post must now return to politics.

America's Dark New World of Total Mistrust

Who Would Purposefully Foster Such Mistrust?
And Why?

Each time the "political season" rolls around, trust becomes the currency of the day.

How often we hear the almost robot-like complaint about the President: "I just don't trust him." Lately, the billionaires have rushed headlong into the financing the promotion of this same complaint about Mrs. Clinton. "She's simply not trustworthy. Her behavior is not transparent."

These common opinions are not coincidences.  Fomenting fear based on the trust issue is, apparently, one of "the last arrows in the quiver" for these frantic, overpaid think tankers. Their marching orders may well be to soil, bruise and tarnish all politicians who might possibly interfere with the "plans" of the oligarchs.

Naturally, in the think tanks these professional democracy haters would prefer to "plant their daggers" deep enough for a mortal blow into the backs of those who would dare frustrate the ambitions of their clients, but given the seriously adverse political environment where too many "trust problems" are now boiling up to visit their own plutocratic bosses, they may have concluded that quiet, relentless, mud throwing is their best strategic tactic -- at least for now.

The GOP's trailer park base has been humiliated more than enough times in their day to day lives to voluntarily enlist in the maneuver. The voters in this demographic were a "waiting resource" for those interested in promoting mistrust, and the think tankers have rushed to take advantage of this. From these voters they have carefully fabricated a horde of petulant, dismally suspicious, "ground troops" eager to volunteer their democratic enfranchisement to support the oligarchs' coup d'etat.

How Nation-Wide Mistrust Will Manifest in 2016
Mistrust, as a "silent voice" will take a seat at our debates.

Interestingly, both Parties have been "frightened" into proposing candidates who are not suffering the automatic mistrust now saturating the entire political field in the country. We see the wife of a popular President who is openly espousing many of the same ideas which made her husband successful previously. We see the brother and son of a dynastic family of cold, political creatures with a dismal record of war, economic disaster and acts of unspeakable degradation done in our name.

They're just not exciting
if they're not abusive. [image]
In terms of candidates what used to be considered a "bright new face" has become a nightmarish horror show stirring up ideas of reckless plunges into the unknown thanks to the astonishing level of mistrust awaiting any candidate who hasn't already been President or, at least, lost a few electoral attempts at it. The electorate has become so cynical and disgusted that individual "ballot casters" are rarely even bothering to ask themselves whether or not they trust the human attached to the name they've just selected.

These "road weary" types of candidates may claim that their political traction is the result of name recognition, but the suspicion is that their popularity is simply a result of their causing "less dread" than the candidacy of a complete stranger might. This new breed of GOP candidates isn't even making promises any longer. Instead, each one maps out additional "sacrifices" which must be endured to compensate for the "wickedness" done by those they blame.

The well financed propaganda flowing from the industrial media has never relented on its three favorite, hope crushing themes:

Both Parties are the same.
Just pick the lesser of two evils.
Election results cannot change the present course.

From our cynical viewpoint, we have been led to think that elections have become so ineffective that they no longer actually pose a threat to those dreaming of destroying the democracy for their own advantage, but this is a misconception. Literally billions have been channeled into the effort to establish a universal, domestic, reactionary media -- certainly FOX -- but also the other industrial forms of the Fourth Estate have sold everything for a "place at the table" when the oligarchs' take over scheme has been completed.

The Republicans, now fielding a bench of almost 20 candidates which is expanding every day, remind MeanMesa of the cook in an Italian restaurant throwing threads of spaghetti at the wall to see if one will stick. It's as if the line controls in a gigantic dog food factory are stuck on "full speed ahead." No one seems to notice that not a single one of all these candidates has any business being even close to the Oval Office.

None of these people have any discernible history of ever governing effectively. None of them are even promising to attempt such a frightening feat.

The Oligarchs Have Finally
 Frightened Even Themselves
The mistrust used to be for fun and profit.
Now it's become a terrifying mayhem.

The only thing the oligarchs really fear is elections -- voters. The democracy had to be fractured to the point that a majority of voters to rise up against them was no longer possible. This means that the electorate had to be fractured to the degree that a majority could never be mustered to even rise up with policies against their schemes for further looting.

Isn't it interesting that in a country with more than 300 million citizens, these are the faces appearing on the screen? Isn't there a single Republican out there somewhere who still thinks that a certain minimum degree of competence in governance might be a reasonable criteria?

"Arms" become ballots. [image]
Aristotle understood that an armed citizenry could spell real trouble for ambitious tyrants and oligarchs, but...only if that armed citizenry could act in concert -- only if that citizenry were not mortally divided by mistrust of each other. The 21st Century version of Aristotle's admonition is about voters, elections and ballots. As for the tyrants and oligarchs, they haven't "changed their feathers" much in 2,400 years.

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