The Collapse of the Great Society

I lived through this, in the Seventies – and never noticed it happening!

This was the era of LBJ – who was responsible for Civil Rights in the South, an amazing accomplishment – and the Vietnam War, another amazing accomplishment, of the opposite kind.

We saw the Civil Rights disturbances, and the Vietnam War protests – without understanding what was going on. The final collapse of Enlightenment hopes for a better world.

This was such a huge disappointment, we could not believe it was happening – and still cannot believe it. We keep telling each other “We are going to come out of this!” But we never do. Building a better society is a far more difficult task, than we ever imagined.

And we have never been able to recognize this – a simple fact, that we cannot recognize.

Why Should I Help a Bad Situation?

This is a question I have been asking myself for a long time – probably even before I was born. It was clear to me, as a fetus, that my mother did not like me – two fetuses before me had been smart, and bailed out. Much to the shock of my mother who wanted babies very badly.

Perhaps my mother assured me she would be a good mother – a promise she promptly violated. Or maybe I decided I would put up with a bad situation, and do the best I could – under the circumstances.

In any case, I was born – into what would be known as a dysfunctional family. A bland description that covered up the horrors of the situation. And from then on, a situation that everyone (or almost everyone) refused to acknowledge – a huge problem that no one could see, and didn’t want to see.

This family situation was enlarged into the work situation – that was also bad for people – but this was considered normal – and this thoroughly bad behavior was allowed to continue, and even encouraged – in what became known as The Office.

To summarize – people lost control of their world – and gave control to other forces they were only dimly aware of – but were certain they were there. They were there, all right – and promptly took control.

This takeover was no doubt part of our religious heritage. People wanted to be part of something bigger – and now they were! They did not stop to analyze, what this new arrangement was. As with all religious establishments – this questioning was not permitted.

I am fortunate to live in a situation – where I can question this situation – in this blog. And I have plenty of company – perhaps ten percent of the population. But the remaining ninety percent have political control – which they are exercising vigorously.

And using it to wreck their world.

China Is Perfecting a New Method For Suppressing Dissent On the Internet

Slashdot

The Chinese government has long been suspected of hiring as many as 2,000,000
people to surreptitiously insert huge numbers of pseudonymous and other deceptive
writings into the stream of real social media posts, as if they were the genuine opinions
of ordinary people. Many academics, and most journalists and activists, claim
that these so-called “50c party” posts vociferously argue for the government’s side in
political and policy debates. As we show, this is also true of the vast majority of posts
openly accused on social media of being 50c. Yet, almost no systematic empirical
evidence exists for this claim, or, more importantly, for the Chinese regime’s strategic
objective in pursuing this activity. In the first large scale empirical analysis of
this operation, we show how to identify the secretive authors of these posts, the posts
written by them, and their content. We estimate that the government fabricates and
posts about 448 million social media comments a year. In contrast to prior claims,
we show that the Chinese regime’s strategy is to avoid arguing with skeptics of the
party and the government, and to not even discuss controversial issues. We infer that
the goal of this massive secretive operation is instead to regularly distract the public
and change the subject, as most of the these posts involve cheerleading for China,
the revolutionary history of the Communist Party, or other symbols of the regime.
We discuss how these results fit with what is known about the Chinese censorship
program, and suggest how they may change our broader theoretical understanding of
“common knowledge” and information control in authoritarian regimes.


These researchers use the techniques of Data Mining – where huge amounts of data can be scanned, multiple times – searching for useful information. The search techniques can be continually refined – yielding better and better results.

The huge efforts of Chinese Government to deceive its people – can be easily exposed, to Americans who read Slashdot. But the Chinese people have no access to these discoveries.

Good People do not See Bad Things

In fact, what people see, depends very much on what they the are supposed to see. Instead of saying “Seeing is believing.” We should say “We see what we believe.” And this results in huge errors in perception and judgement.

The world people believe in, is often far different from the way it really is. And they strongly resist changing themselves, and what they believe. They would rather die, than change – and many times, do go to their graves, firmly believing they are in possession of the truth.

More frequently, however, they manage to live with more subtle alterations of the way things are (or Reality). This is not good for their health (especially their mental health) but this damage is something they can live with – and may enjoy very much. And may attract other people to them.

People can enjoy some kinds of craziness. And even find it entertaining.

People are Not Smart Enough for Today’s World

But they do not realize this.

I am not so smart myself – but I am stubborn. When I hit a brick wall, as I often do – I keep hitting it – until it dawns on me – that this is giving me nothing but a sore head. Then I step back and take a good look at the situation.

I notice other people who are not just giving themselves a sore head – they are self-destructing! Without noticing this either.

I can only come to one conclusion – things have changed so much – they can no longer cope.

They are stone-age people who have survived for millions of years, because they were so adaptable. But today’s world – has tripped them up.

No problem, you may say – there a still a few around who can cope, and they will take over.

Millions will die – but they do not matter.

Hierarchy

This has been part of human society for so long, people assume that it is necessary for all kinds of things, in addition to the companies, where they spend their working lives – although they may work very little – but spend most of their time, climbing the social ladder – as hard as they possibly can.

It’s time we reexamined this process, and its assumptions. Or we may end up someplace – where we don’t want to be.

The first step, is our recognition of the problem – what is the best way to get things done? We have always assumed that a strong man would arise, chose his subordinates, and conquer all. This is the language of warfare, that we have assumed was necessary. And it was very important to be on the winning side – because it could claim all the spoils.

But Americans, early on – recognized the problems with this approach. And came up with something different. More pragmatic – concerned with getting things done.

In this, they followed the example of England – and its Industrialization. They even fought a war over this – their Civil War – that the Industrialized North won, over the Agrarian South.

This produced a new kind of leader – the Robber Barons – hardly the best of men, but able to amass great wealth – and employ thousands in their industries.

The inequality this produced, late in the 19th Century – the Gilded Age – produced a reaction by those left out – notably the Farmers, in the country – and the Union Members in the cities. This gradually produced a Middle Class that stabilized America.

They had jobs, the most precious of all possessions – and they assumed this situation would last forever. It didn’t.

The Industrial economy, on which all this was based – ended!

It did not end completely – plenty of goods were still available, and lined the aisles of their supermarkets – and were sold in their shopping centers. But there were not many jobs, to furnish the money to buy things with.

The reasons for the loss of all those jobs, were complicated – but one thing was clear, at least to me – Americans did not try to save these jobs – but just watched, as they went away. They were helpless, and stayed that way.

The older generation, who had gone to college, and developed careers – still had jobs. But their children were in bad shape.  Some of them were able to migrate to the Computer economy – but only a few.

The vast majority were stranded – like fish without water. And without the brains to understand what was going on.

Being stupid is never a good strategy – but in Software, where all the money is now being made – it is even stupider.

Human Rights are Now a Strange Idea

Tenants Under Siege: Inside New York City’s Housing Crisis

Human Rights were invented as part of the Enlightenment – and were part of the American Declaration of Independence – written by Thomas Jefferson himself, using a quill pen. Quoting directly from John Locke.

It was self-evident, it declared, that people were endowed with certain unalienable rights. This overlooked slaves – which Jefferson had and even had sexual relationships with one of them. Which was not considered unusual for its time and place.

Fast-forward to the 21st Century – where it is clear, from the link at the top of the page – that these have been forgotten, and not even mentioned, in the confrontations it describes.

This was a problem immigrants always faced – and still face. One of the huge problems of our time – how to provide for immigrants?

My hometown of Nauvoo, Illinois, was settled by German immigrants in the 1860s – who build successful fruit farms here – mostly vineyards, that grew table grapes that were shipped to Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City, on the Railroads.

By the Fifties, when my family arrived, there were still many small businessmen, and family farms. But by the Sixties, these were gone.

The loss of respectable, independent jobs was enormous. I went to college, and became an Electronic Engineer – but there were not many engineering jobs – compared to the agricultural jobs previously.

This trend continues – there are not many Computer jobs compared to the Manufacturing jobs of the 20th Century.

This leaves the many, many Homeless – as we now call them. They are not all technologically obsolescent – some of them are just poor, for many other reasons.

But in any case – they have no rights.