Author Nato Thompson explains how art and culture became a weapon aimed at the public - by expanding the influence of the powerful across society, and revealing the deeply emotional dimension to life and politics long concealed by liberal appeals to rationalism - and what Roger Ailes understands about human nature that Plato just couldn't get.
Nato is author of Culture as Weapon: The Art of Influence in Everyday Life from Melville House.
One symptom of my depression is that I will find any excuse to give up. This stems from a general background belief that life is not worth living, yet if it must be lived, then it had better justify the effort and not pull dirty tricks like ruining my marriage or breaking the antenna off of my car or hiding my wallet, tricking me into thinking I've left it on the sand at the beach.
Depression is funny because the rational thoughts initiating throes of it are taken to such irrational extremes. The simple notion, Maybe such and such isn't worth the effort, extends instantly to all things, from washing my hands to keeping the myriad pieces of the cosmos in motion. Which, if you didn't know, sometimes requires great effort on my part.
So idealistic people puzzle me. I don't know if they have unquenchable faith or resilient hope or just some lifelong autopilot setting that keeps them going. Being a hopeless sort, but not so hopeless I'm ready to throw in the towel altogether, at least not all the time, I cling to stories of these people and watch them through their struggles waiting to see exactly how the perverse universe or at least hateful humanity will thwart and ultimately crush them.
I've been reading about one of the greatest disasters in history, the Independence and Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. The events surrounding it provide delicious fodder for anyone who suspects fate is manipulated by a demon. It's far too complicated a mess to even scratch the surface here in a Moment of Truth, but some of it bears sketching out in relation to the existential question of whether anything is worth the effort. The existential question of hope.
Dickie Mountbatten, one of Queen Victoria's grandsons and a kind of Teflon goldenboy screwup in the British military, was appointed Viceroy of India in February of 1947. It would be his job to negotiate and organize the transition of India from the Jewel in the British colonial crown to a sovereign independent nation.
Pakistan at that point was only a theory, albeit supported with a great deal of evidence, such as the existence of millions of Muslims. India was a fact, as much as a nation can be without actually being run by its own people.
When Mountbatten got to Delhi, there were many characters he had to cajole and appease, but I'm going to compress them into three: Nehru, leader of the Congress Party, who would be... read more
On this date in the year 314 – (1,702 years ago) – two rival Roman emperors met in battle on a field in what is now Croatia. The armies of Licinius and Constantine fought all day until Constantine led a cavalry charge that turned the tide. Twenty thousand of Licinius’s men were killed, along with an unknown number on Constantine’s side. But after nightfall, Licinius managed to retreat and escape with remnants of his army. For the next ten years, the two co-emperors would maintain an uneasy truce in the sprawling, fragmented empire. But in the year 324, another civil war would erupt between them. Once again, Constantine defeated Licinius, and this time he had him imprisoned. A year later, he had him hanged. Constantine was later declared a saint by the Orthodox, Anglican, and Byzantine churches, for having decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire.
On this date in 1871 – (144 years ago) – a fire broke out in Chicago that would burn down the city center over the next three days. The Great Chicago Fire killed some three hundred people in the city, destroyed a third of its real estate, and left more than one hundred thousand people homeless. To this day, its original cause remains unknown, despite many theories advanced by historians. The popular myth of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicking over the lantern was debunked long ago. Several other major fires occurred on the same day in Michigan and Wisconsin — including a forest wildfire in and around Peshtigo, Wisconsin, that was far more deadly than the one in Chicago, killing an estimated two thousand to twenty-five hundred people. Some people have speculated that the simultaneous fires across the Great Lakes region were perhaps ignited by red-hot meteorite fragments fallen through earth’s atmosphere from an exploding comet. But scientists have pointed out that hot meteorites cool off before reaching the ground, and that the fires were probably just due to high winds in the region following an unusually dry summer.
On this date in 1952 – (63 years ago) – during the morning rush hour at the Harrow and Wealdstone station in London, a high-speed express train arriving from Scotland plowed into the rear end of a passenger train standing at a platform. Within moments, another express train came smashing into the other two. Sixteen... read more
Jennifer is author of the new book Feeding the Future: School Lunch Programs as Global Social Policy from Rutgers University Press.
Mara is author of the new book Black Ops Advertising: Native Ads, Content Marketing and the Covert World of the Digital Sell from OR Books.
Steve wrote the article Obama Admin Quietly Enables Oil and Gas Drilling on Public Lands and Waters, Weakens Endangered Species Act for DeSmog Blog.
Todd is a migrant himself, but he'll be in Sacramento for this segment, for the first time in seven years. He'll be talking about that too.
Laura wrote the article Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize! for NACLA.
Jeff is already sitting backwards on a chair in his "gets real" pose.
Walter is author of Folding The Red Into The Black: Or, Developing A Viable Untopia For Human Survival In The 21st Century from OR Books.
Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the thirst that is the drink.
Before I begin, I'd like to pre-amble on a personal note and say that, based on my experience the morning after, I don't think vegan pepperoni is any healthier for you than regular pepperoni.
In other news, the redundantly named Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (as opposed to the Massachusetts Supreme Arthurian Court, maybe?) has vacated charges of illegal possession of a firearm based partly on its findings that it's reasonable for a black man to run away from the Boston police. Yes. If you're black and you run away from the Boston police, your flight can't be considered probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the cops to stop you. Harassment of black citizens by Boston cops is so disproportionately frequent and abusive that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts deemed it completely sane, normal, non-suspicious behavior for said citizens to flee from them. It's like running away from a rattlesnake, a ticking time bomb, or any other possibly lethal nuisance.
Speaking of possibly lethal nuisance: Mike Pence, professional asshole, running mate of GOP presidential candidate and celebrity id Donald Johann Drumpf, tweeted recently about Skittles. He's suspicious of them. He seems to think three out of every 72-or-so Skittles is laced with cyanide. And he compares this with his feeling that three out of every 72-or-so Syrian refugees is a suicide bomber. And he believes we as a nation should make policy based on his candy paranoia, which is evidently rooted in a trauma-induced eating disorder he has yet to engage professional help in dealing with.
A similar calculation was attributed to Vice President and amoral ambulatory conflict of interest Dick "Dick" Cheney by journalist Ron Susskind in his book, The One Percent Doctrine, summarized in this slightly edited quotation from Cheney: "If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty. It’s not about our analysis, or finding a preponderance of evidence.”
Not about evidence, just about what we want to feel about stuff and make others feel in order to get what we want. Susskind helped elucidate the difference between the reality-based community and the ideologically-driven petro-mafia wing of what was by then an already discredited Republican... read more
On this date in 1846 – (170 years ago) – After several days of bloody urban warfare in which some nine hundred combatants on both sides were killed or wounded, a US army of occupation led by General Zachary Taylor defeated Mexican forces in battle at Monterrey, northern Mexico. Taylor then negotiated a truce with Mexican General Pedro Ampudia that allowed the Mexican soldiers to give up the city and march away with their weapons. US President James K. Polk was infuriated when he learned of the deal, fuming that he had authorized no such agreement, and had simply ordered Taylor to kill Mexicans and take their territory. But Polk’s war was opposed by many in the United States—not only by such luminaries as Frederick Douglass and Ralph Waldo Emerson, but even by many of the soldiers and officers who fought in it. Ulysses S. Grant, who served as a second lieutenant under Taylor, later called the war “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation... an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.” As for Taylor, he later succeeded Polk to the US presidency, only to die after sixteen months in office.
Rotten History is written by Renaldo Migaldi
Alan is author of the book American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 from W.W. Norton.
Valérie is a public defender working the North of Quebec.
Sarah is a pediatrician, and one of the first pipeline resisters arrested in August.
Peter is author of Hard Sell: Work and Resistance in Retail Chains from ILR Press.
Thomas wrote "Permanent States of Exception: A Two-Tiered System of Criminal Justice Courtesy of the Double Government Wars on Crime, Drugs, & Terror" in Valparaiso University Law Review.
Not sure if he means the Ron Suskind book, or just a general doctrine of the One Percent. Probably the later. Understand the Skittles thing though.