The Denunciad

my philosophical manifesto

The Denunciad

Last updated on April 28, 2010

1.
These Things Don't Work


democracy
the world is too complicated to be run by 'individuals'
we are misled by the media
our representatives don't care about the issues (just the votes)
and we are guide by useless old genetic maps
and leaders with vested interests
and lacking in self-awareness.

arguing with people
people don't want to hear what they don't already believe

thinking things through
things are way too complicated
we are both stupid and easily distracted

coming to a consensus
ha!

settling things by war
war just (really) pisses people off
for generations

the media
usually goes for the lowest common denominator
never fessing up
and pretending they are just giving people what they want

education
the more money we devote to education, the less effective it gets.
we don't know (and can't agree) on what we are doing
we are educating for a future we don't know what will look like

the individual
can be negated by another individual who disagrees with you
our lives are generic and commonplace
and there are way too many of us

politics
shows contempt for the voter.

religion
is combative and petty
and nationalistisc

science
creates as many problems
as it solves
while thinking

philosophy
hides its head
in ancient sands.

art?
don't ask
what art means.




2.
Your Worst Fears Are True
(things are as bad as you think)
(maybe worse)


governments (including my own) are corrupt
this cannot be fixed
(you don't have enough money)

governments (including my own) no longer work as a force of good
they work for special interests and work hard to keep getting elected.
(In the US most seats are not even in play.)

individual freedoms (liberty) are disappearing
(for our own good!)
we don't care.

privacy is gone
ditto
(yet we can't accept the truth)

reason is of limited use
we salivate over words like terrorism and sex-offender,
and reasonable caveats are discouraged and shouted down.
Reason never came up with much anyway.

we have no common over-arching narrative
we even have a theory that such a narrative is impossible.
People feel free to return unselfconsciously to their favorite simplistic scenario.

no one knows
what to do.
People have radically different intuitions.

more and more people
are disabled, uneducated or incompetent.

rule-breaking is the worst crime
you broke our rule!
you will have to pay!

if you are outside our accepted group
we don't give a shit if you are innocent
or of your crime is victimless.
The snap judgment is the final judgment.
(don't make us think)

we torture without concern
This is a failure of moral leadership
by politicians and religious leaders.
Do not forget that Hitler attended church.

everyone is scared
of what the powers that be can do to them.
(we know) we need the money-numbers.
We seem like peons.

our thoughts
don't matter much.
if we don't.

serious global concerns
like overpopulation and pollution
seem outside any human control

change is hampered by
vested interests and corruption.
Some topics (like overpopulation) are politically impossible to discuss.

sure we are comfortable
though perhaps we are not comfortable with being comfortable.
We can't handle it.
And we know
that others are not.
Any real solution to our problem is going to hurt




3.
Negative Traits of Human Beings


we are easily distracted
a story starts and everything else is blotted out and forgotten
this cannot be fixed
It does not matter much if the story is true or fictional.
(the untrue ones are usually more interesting)

we are victims to group think
Put a small group of people around us who agree with us and we are certain
we are certain

local think
If I am happy and those around me are happy, everything is fine.
If those around me are not happy, I can change my focus.
My attention range is also very limited.

people are into their status
all the time.
It poisons the public dialog.

loss of sympathy (racism)
put a scary name on an easily identifiable group (not our own) and we are willing to harm them casually and deeply

we are hypocrites
They say and think one thing while they do another.
They don't notice and they don't care.

people disagree
all the fucking time.
They think that makes them smart.
People are disagreeable.

people are cowards
They are afraid of almost everything.
Especially other people,
who, in turn, actively worry to enhance their fears.
We are brave on paper
and in big crowds.

it is easy to manipulate us
Use fear, talk loudly, and carry a big stick behind your back.
Money works really well.
Look strong or attractive and we will follow you.




4.
We Think with Lies
(and we know it!)
(but thinking is too hard)


we love our simplicities
this cannot be fixed
It does not matter much if the simplicities are true or fictional.
We like the attractive ones.

it is easier to be emotional
than to think.

we overgeneralize
about everything.
And then we believe our own oversimplifications.

How do we deal with things?
We love them.
We hate them.

wait a minute!
Aren't you doing the same thing?
Yes.
I know.
Feel free to put qualifiers, like 'many', 'some' or 'most' on front of many of my generalizations.

And keep in mind
Right now I am talking to you.
Are you guilty as charged?
Do you believe your own simplicities?

why talk with people?
it's too frustrating.
Much better to listen to those who agree with us.

it is better
to let sleeping minds
lie.




5.
Our Religions
(unreal and hypocritical!)


the great majority of people
say (and mostly think)
they belong to a religion
with a loving god
who cares equally for each individual
and aims at moral goodness.

yet they kill
casually, brutally.
and hate at a moments notice.
And they do not notice.
They have their reasons,
and their group that supports their decision.
(They think this is part of their mission from god.)

worldwide, religious people
can come to no agreement
on the nature of the true religion or of god.
They can prove nothing.
Yet they argue and act as though theirs is the only true one.

religion should
provide personal contentment and
foster harmony among people
Does yours?

as a deep and difficult spiritual development
religion should be something that develops over a lifetime.
There should be a mature as opposed to an immature religion.
Does yours?


6.
Our Media
(are base and muddled)


there are a million disembodied voices
in our culture.
(which is a problem in itself)
but i am speaking here of the mainstream media

the media feed us
murders
human interest stories
celebrity news
personality quirks
bureaucratic infightings
mindless patriotism
unexamined attitudes
and lots and lots of ads.

News does not cover the creative things.
A great song was written yesterday, a painting completed.
This does not make the news.

all without much reflection.
The media pose as the definer
of the world.
The exemplar of the normal, natural and permissible.
(These usually reflect the attitudes of the government, the moneyed interests and the ruling classes.)

Local news
is too hysterical.

here is an idea for a better news program:
three or four people are sitting around a table, with coffee, tired,
reading the AP bulletins to us,
making intelligent speculative comments —
a show where people actually think about the news.




7.
Our Governments
(corrupt, inefficient and unfixable)


democracy
is the watchword of Western governments.
But what do you get to vote for?
Who do you get to vote for?

in a democracy
elected representatives care most of all
about being re-elected.

"the people are in charge"
really?
How much of what you don't like did you get to vote on?
How often did you get to vote for someone you really wanted?

"your vote counts"
but not for anything much

"your representative represents you"
if you have the money

why bother
being thoughtful
if your vote can be negated
by the opposing vote of an unreflective moron.




8.
Our Businesses
(greedy and blind)


we have bought into a corrupt
mindset:
that the world will improve best if we do not regulate
business too much.
(even as we regulate)

is this our alternative
to react and regulate?

we look at this in two ways
One is to think of our large functional bureaucracies
as public service organizations serving the good of mankind,
who work hard and making a small profit on the side.
Another is to see the people
who have been given a large amount of legal power
backed by threats of force, incarceration and money
as being primarily out for themselves.

as we see more and more people in the higher echelons
of the bureaucracies
enrich themselves at the trough,
and nothing being done,
our moods change
towards the latter.




9.
Our Sciences
(tell us much less than they think)


it claims to know all
while it evades our most desired truth. It tells us nothing about:
  • what is love?
  • where do I find it?
  • where do I live?
  • how long will I live?
  • will I find happiness?
  • what should I do?
  • what will the weather be like next week?

it is another bureaucracy
an organization with funded slots
to allocate out money.

the cliché way of saying this
is to say it allocates "our" money.
Sure.
(And we are a team, right?!)

science may start out by looking at the big picture
(albeit highly segmented big picture
where they discount the questions they cannot answer)
but they get lost in the minutia
and the difficulties.




10.
The Medical Profession
(pretends to far too much)


it talks in an authoritative voice
even as it has misled us
within recent memory
(and of course historically)

it fails to explain
that we are talking about
risk
and that they know little about the actual patient.

in practice they
try one thing
and if that does not work
they try another.
("Better?")

it wants us to care about being healthy
even when it knows
that it knows not how
and cannot discuss why.




11.
On Nationalism
(unreal and hypocritical!)


we are told to love our country
mostly by people who want
you to accept the current bureaucracy
and the laws they promulgate
and who are not harmed by their injustice.

and the flag
the flag?!
what a remarkably primitive concept.

they distract us
(distractable us!)
with the tribalisms of fear and war.
They brutalize us
and turn us against each other.




12.
Wait a Minute
(you're not being fair!)


you rail against oversimplifications,
but aren't you presenting your own oversimplifications?
yes.

don't you have to be more kind?
no.

people are just taking the world as they find it.
i know.

will this story have a happy ending?
That is unclear.
It would be wrong to root for a happy ending at this time.
I know it is a powerful and universal psychological human quirk.
The paradox is that
though there are countless good people in the world
that does not make for a good world.

don't you have anything positive to add?
I do.
(I think I do.
But first I will write about how little we know.
I want to clear the deck of our comforting fabrications,
and view the the abyss
of ignorance
we like to deny.

you seem a little angry. Why is that?
I should not have to do this
so late in the game.
I am simply stating the obvious.

can you really do this?
I don't know




13.
PART I:

On Our UnUnderstandings
(where do we go from here?)


I will now sketch out
ways in which we do not fully understand
many fundamental aspects of our world.
I will cover, among other topics, science, music, art, language and mathematics.

i know
this seems arrogant.
it is.
(and foolish!)

no one (and certainly not I)
can cover the complexities of such fields in
a page or two.

i am even against people
who make casual generalizations
using such far-ranging words
like science and art.
(I call these big-system words,
or BS words for short.)

it is not that these fields are mistaken
I cannot do better science than the scientists,
or create better music than the musicians.

but there are a number of facts we tend to gloss over
in thinking about our large-scale activities,
like science, art and religion:
  1. we do not know the source of their fascination
  2. we often use a false casual description of their fascination
  3. we take an overly simplistic overview of these fields
  4. thereby taking as an explanation of something that is not an explanation
  5. we fail to see them as a deeply integrated part of complex human social (animal) behavior
  6. we fail to see (and admit, and understand) that our lack of self-understanding does not matter very much

these fields are demanding
and tend feel as though they are
a world unto themselves.




14.
We Do Not Understand Science
(our most public source of knowledge)


NOTE: it is remarkably silly of me
to take on science
in a few short aphoristic paragraphs.
(and next math, and soon religion)



I am firing a shot across their bow
But my arrows are tiny.
The juggernaut huge.
My aim erratic, my words ambiguous.

in a Part III of this work
I will consider better ways
of talking about such wide generalities.

i am not talking here
about the fact that you
don't understand science.
For of course you don't — the sciences are too difficult
and there are so many specialties.
(Isn't it interesting though,
that you still have faith in it.)

[1] even if science solved all its problems
it would still not understand everything.
Science knows this
but ignores it.
The field demand full concentrate attention,
and in a way that is all we need.

science talks a good rap
the physicists think they are talking about
the fundamental structures of the world.
How did the mathematical description of bodies with mass
come to be the paradigmatic description of the universe?

Why do we so easily fall for the metaphor
that the physical world is really the world?

science positions itself as though each part
of what it ignores
is being adequately covered by someone else.
(These parts coincide with the academic fields of study)
But the structure is ancient and a bit of a sham
and leave out much of what concerns people.

many people
think that in the circumstances
science is the best we have.
They do not get this opinion from facts,
because the facts are not in
and never will be.

other people
do not.
And people who appreciate science
do not know how to deal with this.

i especially enjoy
when science punts to philosophy.
"We'll leave that to the philosophers."
How can they not know
that philosophers never solve anything!




15.
We Do Not Understand Mathematics
(it's a beautiful world)


most of us
study math
until we fail.

the difficulty of math
has its own appeal:
knowledge is out there
though I may fail.
(We await the Hero with A Thousand Classes)

yet it remains
the Queen of sciences
We study it in school
though it is nearly useless in the course of our actual lives.

though undeniably useful in science
mathematics establishes
its own beautiful, hypnotic world.
A place where things can be proved,
unlike the hurly-burly of the people world.

mathematics after all
is the place without people
the place without substance.

this in spite of the fact
that mathematics has proven itself to be
incomplete [Gödel]
tautological [Russell and Whitehead], and
capable of alternative and incompatible worlds [geometries].

mathematics does not see its own limitations
it too is demanding discipline
fully sanctioned, and honored, by society.

but when you solve a math problem
you're not solving a problem at all.
you are solving a puzzle.
(Math is mostly an ongoing intelligence test.)




16.
We Do Not Understand Knowledge
(and the Truths we seek)


we seek
knowledge, wisdom, information
yet we know not exactly what we seek.
(These are some of the big words we use in lieu of a goal.)
We think it may be something like a fact
or perhaps a secret
or is it a puzzle?
It is a suitably slippery word
to use and move on.

there is too much knowledge in the world today.
The presses are busy night and day.
Millions of people are at work.
Our minds can't keep up.
knowledge is not information
information is a word for words, books, sentences and bytes.
Nor is knowledge books.

so what is it?
I didn't think you knew.
And I didn't think you knew that you didn't knew.

the mirage of knowledge
is we always think we know everything
(or could if we studied enough)
(or someone could, if they studied enough)
Perhaps if we read the twenty-five greatest books ever written.

knowledge always appears complete
As the Internet contains everything
even though it is missing almost everything
because of copyright restrictions.

so much knowledge
so little understanding.




17.
We Do Not Understand Understanding

we want to understand
(something/everything)
but we don't understand why
or exactly what that would mean.

the word is too big
for clarity

unclarity
is an essential part of our nature.
We need to move on, discover and explore.
We live with a horizon of ignorance.
(And we love to disagree.)

we know:
  • we are missing far too many facts: most of the facts about the past
  • all of the facts about the future
  • most of the facts about the present
  • the universe is way too big
  • the universe is too complex
  • history shows us that the contemporary understanding of the universe is always wrong and incomplete.
    Consequently our current contemporary understanding is incorrect as well.

yet we sit here
puzzled and ready
to understand.

as we do with so many broad-words
we make a different sense of the word "understanding"
all depending on the context.
Yet, foolishly, we still think the word means
some one thing.




18.
We Do Not Understand History


we study history
we do not understand why we study it
we do not understand what it is to understand history.

consider these sentences:
In 1858 there were 20,000 Norwegians in Minnesota.
In 1870 there were 400,000.

Think of the human activity in this small slice of time.
Do you know what that means?

do you even understand
your parents?
your spouse?

we are missing
nearly all the facts
about nearly all people and events in history.

we take sides in history
There is an emotional side to history.
We root for the English over the French,
the North over the South.
Or vice-versa.

History is uncomfortable.
In addition to anything else we do to remedy a situation,
we must wait it out
until the day that only extremists and weirdos
care about past injustices.

though we think history can be objective
a matter if facts.
If the the Anglos, the Native Americans and the Mexicans were to write their own
politically correct history of Texas,
they would hardly be identical.

our small collection of important dates
are but a minuscule part
of what has happened.
The dates may be objective.
The selection of the dates may not.

we have a shared history
as we have a flag.
(What are we holding on to?)

how is it that
so few people read history,
but love to visit historical sites when they go on vacation?

would we see human history more objectively
if we imagine the events, concerns and worries of the past as taking place as among monkeys chattering, instinct ridden primates in fur, seemingly incapable of caring for anyone but themselves and their band?
When we look at a picture of a monkey, we do not bring up the many pre-judgments we make whenever we see a picture of a man, or a woman, or a child, or someone who looks a lot like us, or someone who certainly does not.

History is often our common and low denominators:

  • our tales of sex, killing, murder, status, justice and blood. (all with the added tingle of truthiness)
  • tales of team identities
  • tales of the great bureaucracies — the tribal bands: the simplistic tale of the nationstaterace.




19.
We Do Not Understand Bigness


we understand the numbers 1,2 3 and a few more
Higher numbers are ungrokable
though not uncountable.

in the course of lifetime
we have 100, 200 (possibly 500) acquaintances
but no more

right now there
are 6,800,000,000 billion
people/selves/ego/dreams/sources of pain and happiness
in the world.
We do not understand this at all.

fly into any major city
and look down at the apartment buildings
and think of meeting those people.
Perhaps you understand.

do the math:
there are 336 cities in the world with a population of over one million. here
Each has at least 2000 times more [people than you could ever meet in a lifetime. Some have 20,000 times that.
So we love/know other people?

do the math:
There are 1,221,353 new books published in a year [here ]
You can't possibly keep up.
(Do not read them, and weep)

can't even do the math?
there you go!

you see people everywhere
but you don't see them
because you don't look at them.

you say the world is now small?
start walking




20.
We Do Not Understand Smallness


we have a number of ways
to keep our universe small enough
for our minds to think we understand it

here are some of the ways we keep our world artificially small
  • we have a small circle of friends
  • a number of favorite tales (and books and facts)
  • top ten lists
  • top ten commandments
  • the three-part soul
  • we overgeneralize
  • we adopt a simple philosophy or religion
  • we dismiss huge parts of the universe as unworthy
  • we seldom venture into the unknown
  • we have our routines
  • we seldom learn new things
  • we seldom walk.
we are happy keeping our world small.
A few friends and activities, and we are happy.
We lose ourselves in a small things:
  • soduko
  • solitaire
  • we remain ignorant
  • television
  • we remain ignorant
  • the needs of kids and pets
  • we specialize
we do not see hour small-sizing at work.
For the point is to not see what we avoid.
whether we do it out of fear or out of necessity.




21.
We Do Not Understand Religion


religion
taken in its widest sense of thinking/feeling about supernatural being(s))
is universal.

ewt there is no agreement
on the nature of god
or how he (or she or it) should be worshiped.

yet most people act
as though they really know this
for sure.

(even though
most religions state that
man is ignorant
and sinful.)

we are ignorant
about the nature of god
and why we are drawn to such interests.

religions are a radical oversimplification
of the world.
Telling us this and only this is important.
And following this set of rules
is enough to make you acceptable to god.

there, there
There is no need for you
to think about this
any more.

religions do reinforce morality
but religions confuse things
by making no distinction
the moral with the tabu.

religions have many ways
developed over time
to make the irrational seem
perfectly normal.




22.
We Do Not Understand Language


humans live in language
Look around.
People are talking ALL the time.
It is rare to see two people sit down without talking.
Talking is a kind of grooming.

we do not speak only with words
and most talking is not thinking.
It is more like a speak-along.

language is
(among other things)
a form of behavior
that puts us at ease.

no one understands language
in the sense of having a clear way of speaking about it.
(This includes the present writer.)
Since understanding takes place in language
we may well wonder if we can understand language in language
or indeed if we can ever understand language.

the range of language
is at least coextensive with the world.
Yet we search for an understanding of the language
that we do not do for the world.

for every thing
and action and reaction
there is a word.
There are also words for things that do not exist.

we slide so easily
and unconsciously
from world to word.

we think
we can talk
about anything?
(Do we really know if we can talk about the world?
Do we have the concepts for that?)

language in its basic form
presupposes a behavioral context.
Ordinary language philosophers found the context to be
subtle, largely unconscious, and very difficult to put into words
(and therefore to think about).

in addition to a statement about the world
a statement in language often includes
  1. a statement about what you think
  2. a statement about you
  3. a statement about what i heard
  4. a statement about me

the ordinary language philosophers
of the mid 20th Century
(Wittgenstein, Austin)
thought it would be a useful philosophical project to describe
how language and words are used in everyday life.
This proved immensely difficult
and philosophers soon moved to simpler pursuits.




23.
We Do Not Understand Metaphor


metaphors are apparent sense
they are like little models
that seem to indicate that something is like something else.
We use metaphors in our understanding
especially when we are trying to simplify a complex situation.

"To resonate"
is a metaphor for a metaphor.
The criteria for something being metaphorically correct is
(metaphorically speaking) resonance.

metaphors are everywhere
If you look at the etymology of most word
you will find a metaphor
that resonates.
This is a source of intellectual nuance.

To discuss language without using metaphors
the basic trick of language,
would be like explaining words without using a words.

What is the importance of etymology?
Surely we could invent new words for all our words?
Or do the hidden metaphors and cross-references provide essential subconscious mind-holds for our brain?

the metaphorical aspects of words
are not essential for most uses.
Some technical terms have no underlying metaphors.
(Although we like a new term to resonate and be memorable.)

it is not clear that a philosophical
(i.e. wide-ranging) understanding of the world
is possible without using a metaphor.

let nmw stand for
a Non-metaphorical word.
Is it possible to think of nmw
in a non-metaphorical way?

we do not understand metaphor
in that
(1) we do not see the metaphors we use as metaphors,
(2) consequently we do not see their limitations.
This can have negative consequences for your reflection.

consider
  • Our bodies are metaphors for ourselves.
  • A child is a metaphor for the man.
  • Presents are a metaphor for love.
  • The child is a metaphor for wonder.
  • Nature is a metaphor for us.
  • The physical world is not the best metaphor for the world.
  • The heart is not the heart. "The heart" is not even a metaphor.
    What then is the heart?
  • The bridge you want to cross, the mountain you want to climb, are the metaphorical ones.
  • That we live on the world is a fact. The we live in the world is a metaphor.




24.
We Do Not Understand Music


music is all around us
all the time.
Almost everyone likes music.
But why should the sounds of music,
(describable as a complex wave,)
be the source of universal interest?

most discussions of music
soon begins talking of pitch, timbre, volume.
It is what passes for explaining music.
(It is traditional.)
But it does not explain music.
The question can be re-framed:
Why should the sounds of pitch, timbre, and volume,
be the source of universal interest?

another common approach
is to take classical music
as the true form of music.
Everyone begins with non-classical.
The fact that not everyone likes classical music,
is bonus aspect for this idea.

explanations in words
is no substitute for listening to and enjoying music.

here are a few things we do not know about music
How does music express emotions?
How does music soothe?
Why do we like music? (It is a simple structure)
Why does it give us such deep satisfaction?
Why does it seldom fail?

it may not help
if I use a self-referential metaphor:
Music sings to me.

music is people
safely abstracted:
The parts of music are after all the parts of different people.
The power of music is the power of the Many.


music is an impressive skill
It is hard to make good music.
Even collecting music is a skill:
Look! I am a good hunter and gatherer.
And better than you.




25.
We Do Not Understand News


we may read philosophy and religion
and study postmodern structuralisms
but we get our picture of the world
largely from the news.
We take this as normal
and even responsible behavior.

yet news is not
news and not give a representative picture of the world.
Why these stories?
Why such uniformity?
Out of tens of thousands of stories each day,
the news chooses twenty.


nor can we see
why we are engaged in such news,
and why we do not turn away in disgust.

There is war in Iraq.
Israel is not getting along with the Palestinians.
There has been a murder, an explosion, an accident.
This is not news.
This happens all the time.

On the news people say
"Can the US drive a wedge between Syria and Iran?"
They forget they are talking about government bureaucracies and not usually the ordinary people on the ground.
Instead of saying Syria they might say "the bureaucracy that runs Syria"

you can probably
not make any valid generalization about all Americans.
you cannot make them about Iranian.
So why do they keep on doing it.

the news
keeps the world artificially small.
and removed.
and frightened.
To hear about another's death is a kind of good news.
Hearing news is a sign of life.

basis of small talk
Like sports and weather.

news is not really a good way
to think
about what is going on in the world.

news is a kind of celebrity
"News" is a series of ongoing stories
with a limited number of characters.
It is a kind of soap-opera.

Here is the kind of news would I like to hear
Intelligent people talking and thinking about the news as it shows up on the wires.
They can disagree and even get excited, but they would then analyze why and how disagreements and emotions could arise between two intelligent people.
Attitude is key: they do not get carried away by the teapot-tempest of the day.
They would treat our news as human comedy; currently it is being treated like soap opera.
"Why is this news?" they would say, or "This is silly" or "No one is getting hurt", "Why does anyone care about this?" or "This is bureaucratic propaganda."




26.
We Do Not Understand Television News


given the still extant primacy of broadcast news
(perhaps because it can be cast out
by the ruling structures)
it's fallacies deserve a special opprobrium.

visual and (to a lesser extent) aural news
comes with an attitude.
It is presented by people,
often with firm decisive voices and attractive bodies.

We now watch feelings on TV.
We treat them as news
News organizations now do stories about how people feel after a disaster.
I know how people feel after a disaster: they feel bad,
and they hardly want to talk to anyone.
If they were not to feel bad, that would be news.

television news
affirms the rules of normalcy


television news
lets us watch the suffering of other in the safety of our comfort.

television news
focuses on the frightening and the salacious
making the world a more frightening place.

so where is the ignorance here?




27.
We Do Not Understand Nations


when we speak of a country
like The United States
we can mean
  • the land in the formally defined borders of the US
  • the characteristic landscapes in the area of land called the US
  • the people living in the land
  • the government bureaucracy ruling the nation state
  • the people living around you, the local community
  • if the formal borders were to change we can also speak of the land traditionally thought of as the US
  • sport teams competing against teams identified with other nations ("The US beat Mexico in the World Cup")
most talk about the US
only confuses these meanings.
We speak of Iran when we only mean
the current government of Iran,
or someone plausibly permitted to speak for the current government of Iran.

this (never mentioned) equivocation
which could be solved by using a few phrases
permits:
  • the putting down of a whole people based on the actions of their government
  • which makes it easier to dismiss the people as a group, or to wage war against them
  • sound like the Palestinians and the Israel's are solving a problem, whereas in fact the actual Palestinian people are no better off than before.
political philosophies notwithstanding
most people, even in first world countries
do not live under regimes and governments they would choose.
And no we did not "choose"
[see my section on Politics below]

there is not a valid generalization
you could make about Americans.
There is not similar generalization you can make about Palestinians or Iranians.
The failure to make this distinction is shameful
because it leads to muddled thinking and immoral reactions.




28.
We Do Not Understand Bureaucracies


this topic
is too huge to cover here.
It has a long and rich history
some of which is outlined in the article in Wikipedia.

the trouble with bureaucracy
in modern times is that:
  • it is too entrenched
  • it can be manipulated by special and entrenched interests
  • it is hidden under a corporate/bureaucratic identity
  • the vested interests have little incentive to speak clearly about itd
  • it is difficult to change
  • it is too large, and has a tendency to grow
  • it encourages mindless rule-following for rule-following sake
we cannot evaluate a bureaucracy very well
The term has come to have a negative connotation (bureaucrazy)
yet it is the foundation of a contemporary society.

most of our employment
is now found in bureaucracies.
The news of nations and politics is actually the Tales of the Great Bureaucracies.
They have used language to co-opt a sense of nationhood and of a super-person.
This is wrong.

they encourage mindless rule following
The bureaucracy is angry:
"We made a rule and you're not following it!"

the jobs of a bureaucracy are unsatisfying
although not strenuous.
The problem of leisure, as it used to be called,
was solved by creating more bureaucracy.
Paperwork is a form of busy-work leisure.

the skills needed to survive in a bureaucracy
are not the skills needed
to improve the bureaucracy.




29.
We Do Not Understand Work


work is
what you humans used to do
to stay alive.
[let me oversimplify]

at first it was direct work
gather the food,
hunt the animals.
Store the food.
Our bodies were adapted for this.

then it was industrial work
Do physical labor
(often boring, repetitive and debilitating)
done in exchange for food
and shelter and etc.s

now it is paperwork and monitoring
of machines, video screens and each other.
The body relatively useless.
There are not as many backbreaking jobs
(in the developed countries)
but there are more mindbreaking jobs.
Our society generates so many unsatisfying jobs.

but that is not what we do not understand about work





30.
We Do Not Understand Power


because
we do not like power.

99.9% of us
have no power
and are at the mercy of those who do.
(All we have is the right to pretend
we have some power.)

here is what we do not understand about power:
all the time our brain hums, evaluating,
the status of those all around us.
We respond to power and force
at a very low level.
But we remain unaware of it.

power
is the ability to move us.
It can be done by force
or reward
or threats of destitution.

we know
we are weak and foolish
and that we would perish
if left to ourselves.
The salmon are long gone.
The earth depleted.

yet we like to believe
we are powerful,
god-like,
independent.




31.
We Do Not Understand Force


it does not take much force or violence
to traumatize us.
We are weak and easily frightened,
and cowed.
A robber, a rapist
a crowd of thugs.

fine
just don't pretend
you are not.


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