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First Turning "purge"
#61
(08-15-2020, 03:34 PM)beechnut79 Wrote: One need not be reminded, as it should be quite obvious to most, that for the past four decades the poorer people of this country, regardless of skin color, have been treated as livestock at best, vermin at worst. In the city of Chicago the poor are now nearly invisible with a sanitary conforming look in areas where the less well off among us used to often congregate. Not even referring to the few areas of the city where you pretty much take your life in your hands venturing into them.

Sometimes, it takes a book. Isabel Wilkerson's Caste finally addresses what should have been obvious to everyone: we, like most of the world, live within a caste system intended to keep the rich and powerful and the poor and powerless right where they are. She puts racism inside that system: a tool of repression, but not the system itself.  Like the more famous caste system of India, there always has to be a lowest caste. In America, it's Black. But just because you aren't at the bottom, the next few rungs aren't all that great either: Native American, Latinx, poor white, immigrants, Asians -- everyone trained to look down on the castes below them and accept the primacy of the casts above them.

Maybe ... just maybe ... that's finally changing.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#62
(08-16-2020, 08:30 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(08-15-2020, 03:34 PM)beechnut79 Wrote: One need not be reminded, as it should be quite obvious to most, that for the past four decades the poorer people of this country, regardless of skin color, have been treated as livestock at best, vermin at worst. In the city of Chicago the poor are now nearly invisible with a sanitary conforming look in areas where the less well off among us used to often congregate. Not even referring to the few areas of the city where you pretty much take your life in your hands venturing into them.

Sometimes, it takes a book. Isabel Wilkerson's Caste finally addresses what should have been obvious to everyone: we, like most of the world, live within a caste system intended to keep the rich and powerful and the poor and powerless right where they are. She puts racism inside that system: a tool of repression, but not the system itself.  Like the more famous caste system of India, there always has to be a lowest caste. In America, it's Black. But just because you aren't at the bottom, the next few rungs aren't all that great either: Native American, Latinx, poor white, immigrants, Asians -- everyone trained to look down on the castes below them and accept the primacy of the casts above them.

Maybe ... just maybe ... that's finally changing.

On Hispanics -- they are developing their own worlds complete with a commercial infrastructure in the knowledge that Corporate America offers little other than abysmal pay and no opportunity for advancement. often recent immigrants or children of recent immigrants, they have seen Corporate America at its worst. Owning and operating a small business, often a bodega, is often more promising than working in a sweatshop or a store. Second, some can pass as white because they are or are very close... and they intermarry heavily with non-Hispanics. Whether they assimilate into Anglo culture or assimilate non-Hispanics into Hispanic cultures is unpredictable. 

"Native American" includes people who, perhaps as little as 1/8 in origin, are basically white and have some choice. I have known someone stereotypically white (blond with blue eyes, and with a very fair complexion) who identifies as Native American for one reason: access to peyote. Such is hardly a noble reason. The "one-drop rule" does not apply for First Peoples as it does for blacks.  

Asian-Americans, with relatively few exceptions (probably Hmong) on the average have higher social-economic status (SES) than most white people. White men often marry Asian women, if often for the wrong reasons (as in expecting a servile and submissive wife. For that, avoid Korean women who come from a relatively equitable society in gender relations... and highly-assimilated Japanese-Americans who know America well because they are American). Higher SES means that someone is ahead of the system. I can easily imagine people of east-Asian origin being recognized as "white" if only for skin color. European skin color would fit in well in Korea, Japan, and much of China... and vice-versa.  

Blacks have long had their "Talented Tenth" who can compete with the white middle class in ability. Note well that the "one-drop rule" still applies to blacks, and no achievement -- not even becoming President of the United States -- can "whiten" someone. Almost invariably any assimilation between white people and the African-American "Talented Tenth" goes one way, with the non-black genes of anyone marrying and having children by one of the Talented Tenth being absorbed into the African-American gene pool. "Passing" is rarely possible, and it requires that someone with any sub-Saharan African ancestry win the 'genetic lottery' so that one looks white. The best that African-Americans can ever hope for from white people is to be treated with dignity, something that many white people do not do to white people who lack some social advantage. If white elites treat poor blacks badly, then remember that those white elites also treat poor whites badly.   

Over the last forty years, comprising the tail end of the Boom Awakening (when it became largely the discovery of religious fundamentalism among political and cultural conservatives), the Culture Wars, and most of the current Crisis Era (I say most because I see it approaching an end), we have been expected to accept that the only way in which to create some super-prosperity is to intensify poverty, destroy economic security of anyone not in the Master Class, to redefine labor-management relationships so that ownership and management has nearly-absolute power, to promote monopoly and vertical integration that make small business irrelevant, and to change tax laws to reward people for doing horrible things to most people. As one who remembers times before that, I recognize few improvements: technology is more marvelous, America is more culturally diverse (which means that we get a wider variety of cuisine and festivals), and entertainment is slicker (if often witless). Except for the diversity which makes life richer due to the diversity, some technological and medical improvements, better roads, and a richer stock of entertainment (in literature, art, and film, if not music.. .rap is ugly and country is witless) I am not sure that we are that much better off than we were in the 1970's. 

The elites are certainly better off, being able to live like sultans while they treat us much like sultans treat the fellahin in their countries -- expendable people, cheap labor to do the dirty work including service as cannon fodder in war. Intensify inequality in American life, and American soldiers drafted into wars for profit will be cannon fodder as in aristocratic societies in the final stages of decadence -- and such a war will culminate in a disaster like World War I for Germany, Austria-Hungary, or imperial Russia... or the Confederate States of America. 

High technology is nice, but most of us do what we used to do by some other means. It is not that different to read a book on a Kindle Fire than a dead-tree edition, and YouTube offers what many of us used to get on records and tapes. We use e-mail as an over-worked telegraph... oh, what I would like to do with all the spam e-mail! Job offers to work for minimum wage in different and unattractive parts of the country, job offers for what I am unqualified, 419 scams... maybe communication is too cheap for our own good.

The super-rich have told us to spare them of responsibility so that we can do better. Now many of them threaten us with consequences for 'failing' to adequately suffer for their unrestrained greed. We must call their bluff if we are to have any dignity at all.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#63
There is an interesting article on the New York times commenting about how the current intense focus on racial issues may be a distraction for what Aldoph Reed argues as the more important issue of economic class and opportunity in America.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/us/ad...sContainer

I largely agree with what he believes in, and what has been written before here, that a lot of the racial problems we're experiencing can be explained by the economic stratification of society at this time, with Black Americans getting the short end of the stick. I think the most important thing, for me, in this article was the comment that the experience a person has is more closely tied to their economic situation now more than ever. A poor white man and a poor black man has largely the same experience compared to a poor black man and a rich black man, for example.

Of course, there are still many other non-institutional issues with racism, such as the very real problem of discrimination, which have to be tackled separately, but I think the point that race and identity politics cannot and shouldn't be applied to everything is very important. All the large companies donating millions to BLM causes masks the real exploitation and damage to our society these companies are doing. The executives can boast about how much "good" they've done to society with a clean conscience, while the public just buys all these donations as "progress", but in reality the root of the problem is unsolved.
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#64
(08-16-2020, 01:46 PM)RadianMay Wrote: There is an interesting article on the New York times commenting about how the current intense focus on racial issues may be a distraction for what Aldoph Reed argues as the more important issue of economic class and opportunity in America.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/us/ad...sContainer

I largely agree with what he believes in, and what has been written before here, that a lot of the racial problems we're experiencing can be explained by the economic stratification of society at this time, with Black Americans getting the short end of the stick. I think the most important thing, for me, in this article was the comment that the experience a person has is more closely tied to their economic situation now more than ever. A poor white man and a poor black man has largely the same experience compared to a poor black man and a rich black man, for example.

Of course, there are still many other non-institutional issues with racism, such as the very real problem of discrimination, which have to be tackled separately, but I think the point that race and identity politics cannot and shouldn't be applied to everything is very important. All the large companies donating millions to BLM causes masks the real exploitation and damage to our society these companies are doing. The executives can boast about how much "good" they've done to society with a clean conscience, while the public just buys all these donations as "progress", but in reality the root of the problem is unsolved.

The class argument has been made, rejected, made again and rejected again.  It's no less true, just hard to sustain.  As soon as the argument becomes one of rich and powerful v. the rest of us, the rich and powerful circle their luxury wagons, hire whatever legal, propaganda and muscle support they need, and squash the argument (and the arguers) cold. The best that occurs, and it's rare, is a retrenchment -- think both Roosevelts as prime movers.  But ultimately, the system is not outlawed, so it reemerges, just like the weeds in your lawn.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#65
(08-17-2020, 09:36 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(08-16-2020, 01:46 PM)RadianMay Wrote: There is an interesting article on the New York times commenting about how the current intense focus on racial issues may be a distraction for what Aldoph Reed argues as the more important issue of economic class and opportunity in America.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/14/us/ad...sContainer

I largely agree with what he believes in, and what has been written before here, that a lot of the racial problems we're experiencing can be explained by the economic stratification of society at this time, with Black Americans getting the short end of the stick. I think the most important thing, for me, in this article was the comment that the experience a person has is more closely tied to their economic situation now more than ever. A poor white man and a poor black man has largely the same experience compared to a poor black man and a rich black man, for example.

Of course, there are still many other non-institutional issues with racism, such as the very real problem of discrimination, which have to be tackled separately, but I think the point that race and identity politics cannot and shouldn't be applied to everything is very important. All the large companies donating millions to BLM causes masks the real exploitation and damage to our society these companies are doing. The executives can boast about how much "good" they've done to society with a clean conscience, while the public just buys all these donations as "progress", but in reality the root of the problem is unsolved.

The class argument has been made, rejected, made again and rejected again.  It's no less true, just hard to sustain.  As soon as the argument becomes one of rich and powerful v. the rest of us, the rich and powerful circle their luxury wagons, hire whatever legal, propaganda and muscle support they need, and squash the argument (and the arguers) cold. The best that occurs, and it's rare, is a retrenchment -- think both Roosevelts as prime movers.  But ultimately, the system is not outlawed, so it reemerges, just like the weeds in your lawn.

In more wholesome times, class is better defined by one's desires than by how much one has. Thus someone who prefers a sailboat to a motorcycle probably has a higher social class than the person who cherishes a motorcycle.  

Reflecting such a time is  book called Class by the late Paul Fussell, who split America (other than some Bohemian types who seem to have come to recognize that class identity is a sham) in which he sees nine distinct classes in America:

1. Upper out-of-sight. Old money involving very old inheritance, typically from the early-industrial era. Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Harriman. Of course, any surviving planter families of the Old South, as inheritance from the slave era. This class generally avoids publicity.

2. Upper. Newer, big money. More recent inheritance, perhaps from someone not living. Descendants of Sam Walton (even if it was from prole Wal-Mart) are in this category now. 

3. Upper Middle. This class really is rich, but it is still working to get rich. It may rely on a highly-successful business such as real estate or be at the professional apex as a physician, architect, college professor, or attorney. 

4. Middle. This is the class of lower-level professionals such as salesmen, engineers, accountants, dentists, teachers, clergy, and school administrators, and geologists. It thinks that it is getting ahead, but really isn't. Such people often have very rigid thought. Most have graduated from unimpressive colleges.

======== THERE IS NO REMAINING LOWER-MIDDLE CLASS ========

...and really there has not been one since about World War II. Having a solid eighth-grade education was once a valid means of doing better than blue-collar workers once invariably poor. As a clerk one was somehow 'better' than people who did labor. That is over. Clerical work pays badly, and it is now largely machine-paced as if it were assembly-line work. Most clerical workers are women whose class identity comes from their husbands  .

5. High prole. This is generally skilled labor, perhaps operators of very sophisticated equipment such as locomotives, aircraft, boats, and cranes or earth-moving equipment. Also included are contractors, blue-collar supervisors, cops, fire-fighters, and nurses. The craftsmen are here above all else. These people live well, often rivaling even the upper-middle class. But the distinction is not so much how much they earn as how they spend what they earn. This class buys the RV's, something that the upper-middle class would not go near. Its cultural tastes are generally hard to distinguish from those of 'laborers' with which they don't want to be confused. Only rarely are their kids "college material".  

6. Mid-prole. There are the semi-skilled machine operators and (when Fussell wrote his book) the largest class in America. It heavily works the assembly lines and drives the vehicles (as cabbies, truck drivers, or  bus drivers). The store cashier (one of the largest occupations) is mid-prole because of running a cash register or whatever it is now called. They commonly hate their work as 'too small for their spirits', in part because it is repetitive and under rigid, oppressive supervision. The clock (for a vehicle driver) or a machine paces their work and takes away their discretion. 

7. Low prole. Unskilled workers such as warehouse workers, cleaners, pickers, packers, and servants. They are badly paid and  face frequent lay-offs. But they do legitimate and necessary work. Their lives are unenviable to any class above them. But contrasted to what lies below them in the pecking order even they can be envied.

8. Destitute.  People who survive on welfare, disability income, charity, meager retirements, or suspect sources of income such as crime. They are often grossly ignorant and superstitious, which marks 'successful' gangsters.  They somehow avoid getting caught if they deal drugs or do prostitution.

9. Bottom out-of-sight. People incarcerated or institutionalized due to criminality, extreme incapacity, or senility. 

.....

Money seems to matter little, but vocational classification matters greatly. Education matters greatly, and so do consumer tastes. Sailboat (high) or motorcycle (low) even if the two items are similar in cost. Foreign travel is high, but driving about in an RV isn't. Culture does... so believing in lucky numbers isn't impressive. Relying heavily on television for entertainment is of course very prole.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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#66
(08-17-2020, 07:33 PM)pbrower2a Wrote: Money seems to matter little, but vocational classification matters greatly. Education matters greatly, and so do consumer tastes. Sailboat (high) or motorcycle (low) even if the two items are similar in cost. Foreign travel is high, but driving about in an RV isn't. Culture does... so believing in lucky numbers isn't impressive. Relying heavily on television for entertainment is of course very prole.

Maybe, prole-life is the new high status choice. Most people are not cut out for an intellectual life, and culture choices tends to be popular rather than high -- even among the more well-to-do.
Intelligence is not knowledge and knowledge is not wisdom, but they all play well together.
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#67
(08-18-2020, 10:38 AM)David Horn Wrote:
(08-17-2020, 07:33 PM)pbrower2a Wrote: Money seems to matter little, but vocational classification matters greatly. Education matters greatly, and so do consumer tastes. Sailboat (high) or motorcycle (low) even if the two items are similar in cost. Foreign travel is high, but driving about in an RV isn't. Culture does... so believing in lucky numbers isn't impressive. Relying heavily on television for entertainment is of course very prole.

Maybe, prole-life is the new high status choice. Most people are not cut out for an intellectual life, and culture choices tends to be popular rather than high -- even among the more well-to-do.

Fussell wrote his book in a time in which social class was more a matter of the expression of cultural values that it has become in a society that has become increasingly plutocratic, vulgar, and anti-intellectual, and in which having the means of meeting basic human needs is much in doubt for many. It is far easier to control people if people focus on a basic need that gatekeepers can deny. Figure that one can look at Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs and  recognize the means of achieving great happiness for people who  are stuck in a rut (OK, self-actualization is at the top)... but on the dark side one can see the very bottom in the Gulag or the KZ-Lager in which even survival, let alone food and rest, are in doubt. In such a horrific place one might simply give up all hope and die, whether by doing something that gets one executed, casting oneself onto electrified wire, or giving up on eating. Or perhaps a torture chamber as some torturer points a blowtorch at one's genitals or threatens sudden death to a loved one. 

Maybe we are not that bad, but homelessness and hunger are now real threats to far more people than was so in supposedly poorer times. Not long ago I recall seeing that food insecurity was more severe in the United States than in Indonesia, the latter a much poorer country. When class means the distinction between preferring country music or classical music, then it is benign. When it is the difference between ostentatious splendor and gross deprivation, class is a gigantic issue. When class is an issue of masters with no responsibility and subjects with responsibilities but little opportunity, 'class' is anything but innocuous. When the class structure reminds one of a Marxist critique of capitalism, then something is seriously wrong with the local manifestation of capitalism that compels change in that system.

No, I am not blaming our advanced technology. I blame instead the primitive greed of people who have privilege that pharaohs and tsars could envy.

[Image: maslows-hierarchy-of-needs.jpg]


Maybe we aren't yet in torture chambers or concentration camps. But think of what happens if people able to control the terms of employment make a travesty of safety -- keeping people heavily in debt despite meager pay, reminding people on the job that someone else could take their job at any moment in the event of a slip-up or the capricious decision of a boss, when people are obliged to sacrifice the welfare of one's family because the profit and compensation of executives is deemed by law or practice far more important, when people have no recourse against a dangerous or demeaning situation except to quit with no prospect of employment, when rent is exorbitant enough that people who work hard live in harsh crowding ("Twelve in one room in A-May-REE-Caw"), when a supervisor might be in the position of getting someone to do sexual favors for better terms of (or initial or continuing) employment... we are not a rich nation. We have only the veneer of prosperity, with comparatively few people doing obscenely well. 

A wholesome economy makes it easy to achieve basic human needs easily. It does not make human happiness a near-impossibility. 

I recognize that some people have built-in problems that make love difficult (ask me about Asperger's Syndrome) -- I could get away with it for a long time with the aid of some cheats, but those cheats no longer work.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist  but instead the people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists -- Hannah Arendt.


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