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Sat, Mar. 19th, 2005 09:29 am
Racist robots

48CommentReplyFlag

bugpowered
bugpowered
Sun, Mar. 20th, 2005 05:50 pm (UTC)

Again with public opinion. Would you say that public opinion itself has a significant effect on policy in either country? I don't mean how policy is portrayed in the news, how they pretend that domestic outrage is responsible for sudden lunging course corrections (read: pre-planned steps in a relatively static plan), but what actually happens. U.S. policy towards managing the world hasn't altered significantly since the 1950s.

Well, that could be why american psyche hasn't changed much since the 1950s.

Sure, some fads and fashions, even ones that marked whole generations,
have passed. But has the inner core of America changed?

We still see the same core in Americans as De Toqueville saw two centuries
ago (the previous millenium, If I can be pedantic).

The more celebrated values in american life, success, money, the american
dream, celebration of self, puritanism, god, the good and the bad things
all have their say on its policy. Is Walt Whitman very different from a modern
american rocker?

Yes, some people protest against Bush. You can protest against something
and still have the same core values as it. Furthermore, a hell of a lot more
people don't give a damn, or support Bush. But, as I said, that is beside
the point.

The idea that political leaders "cheat" the people, and manipulate the
public opinion, etc, while has some merit in the short run, on the
long run and over the course of history it is naive.

We don't use the "cheat" idea or the idea that public opinion and people
have no say in order to understand history (this notion is only in vogue
in certain conspiracy theory circles).

Hitler didn't cheated the Germans. We know what where the historical
currents that made him stand out as their leader. Napoleon wasn't a
smart guy who made the French invest in him. In the long run, people
get what they want.





ReplyThread Parent
stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Sun, Mar. 20th, 2005 10:26 pm (UTC)

You say:

Yes, some people protest against Bush. You can protest against something
and still have the same core values as it. Furthermore, a hell of a lot more
people don't give a damn, or support Bush. But, as I said, that is beside
the point.


...which seems to confirm what I say about there being a disconnect between public opinion and decisions that are made behind the media curtain which ultimately affect the organization of power.

Then you say:

The idea that political leaders "cheat" the people, and manipulate the
public opinion, etc, while has some merit in the short run, on the
long run and over the course of history it is naive.


...which seems to confirm the opposite.



We don't use the "cheat" idea or the idea that public opinion and people
have no say in order to understand history (this notion is only in vogue
in certain conspiracy theory circles).


This is essentially only an ad hominem dismissal.



Hitler didn't cheated the Germans. We know what where the historical
currents that made him stand out as their leader. Napoleon wasn't a
smart guy who made the French invest in him. In the long run, people
get what they want.


So, if there had been no Benjamin Franklin, Napolean, Hitler, history would have invented them?
Are individuals really only manifestations of their times, or do certain individual trajectories intersect with the flowing currents of power, producing results?

My own view is that the contribution of individuals is as important as the cumulative desires which either grind them up or crank them to the top of the heap. The many are, after all, composed of the few. Certainly, America might have still come about without Franklin and Jefferson, but would it have assumed the same character? Would we be having quite the same discussion about its inherited faults? Without Hitler and Goebbels would Nazism have acheived power via the same method, riding the currents of anti-Jewish propaganda? I do think individuals, and the choices they make, matter. Why this is only seen as valid when those individuals act overtly, with some sort of ambiguously phrased 'support of the people' is a mystery to me. Could not these same individuals, correctly positioned, exert influence without being widely supported?

Were the American people at fault for the firebombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nakasaaki? How exactly can they be responsible, in a direct way, for something they could not have been aware of until it had already been done? Perhaps someone will suggest that the Japanese were manipulated sixty years ago, and would not have individually agreed to subject Manchurians (to pick a single example out of the hat) to scientific experimentation. Might be a plausible point.

In the larger view, I disagree that people always 'get what they want,' because I don't have that much faith in a human being's ability to control reality. I think things happen, and people make up stories to convince themselves that it was all according to their plan, in the end. To my mind, any other perspective reveals a hidden metaphysical egotism that borders on the pathlogical. Perhaps this is the defining feature of the American character -- this puritanism of will to power -- that is being scrutinized by Momus, above.



ReplyThread Parent