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Chaos USA

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  • Chaos USA

    Since I used to spend a lot of time in this forum, and I’m glad that it is back, I feel compelled to start a
    thread.

    As a U.S. citizen who studies social institutions, I’m continually alarmed at how fragile they seem these days. Worse to me is the amount of time people and groups spend actively and gleefully chipping away at them. I thought Heath Ledger’s joker was chilling because of how he famously just wanted to watch it all burn, and that seemed so over the top. Now it’s every day, and it’s my neighbors.

    I’m all for shaking things up. A little chaos is often productive—without the nihilism. But we seem to be wallowing in nihilism and cynicism. What weird times to be alive...

  • #2
    Worth considering is how long these fragile institutions have lasted then. It rather implies that folks were, all unknowingly, protecting and nurturing them for quite some time. Hopefully the current age of over-simplification and iconoclasm won't last tool long and we can rebuild.

    Comment


    • #3
      I like the optimistic view. I think a lot of people who are in the fever pitch of tearing everything down are going to realize that they actually want a functioning government even if they hate politics. Eventually. We’re still fighting Reagan’s “government is the problem” battles, (and Ayn Rand’s BS) but I think that COVID is demonstrating why that is so overly simplistic, even if it makes a great bumper sticker. I hope we’re starting to see that complex problems require complex solutions.

      On a related (and admittedly petty) note, I sometimes (half-) jokingly think everyone who questions the legitimacy of any science should be prohibited from receiving medical care.

      But seriously, Rothgo, thanks for a different take. It’s hard for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel sometimes and need the reminder!

      Comment


      • #4
        The pessimism I have isn't that chaos will lead to nihilism but rather that the short attention span and lack of any true foresight by the general American masses will prevent long-term positive change for fear of continued short-term discomfort. There is a prevailing attitude for Americans to hop on an issue for a week or a month and then promptly forget it. Normally, it isn't so detrimental because the focus is usually on unimportant pop-culture events or icons--however, there are times when it can be dangerous. Take the 2008/2009 recession, for example, when the very real weaknesses in the foundation levels of our economic engines were revealed. Instead of actually taking the time and suffering the pain of examining and repairing the foundations the solution because to throw a few trillion USD at it and patch it up with some jury-rigged institutional supports. I liken it to a crumbing bridge being hobbled together over the generations by adding more braces and bolting on a few patch-work structures: sure, it allows traffic over the bridge again, but the bridge will just break anew in a different place or when a patch decays.

        I'm not advocating for watching it burn, as it be, but I do wonder if some degree of pain could get us in a better long-term place.

        Take the Health Insurance industry, for example. If the current pandemic has revealed nothing else it is that Universal, Guaranteed, access to quality health care is needed. Given the over Trillion USD industry and about 1.5 Million jobs and livelihoods dependent on propagating the current private insurance driven system there is no clear way to institute universal healthcare without causing severe pain and a huge economic impact. It will be far easier to accept a political patch to avoid major discomfort and forget the whole issue until yet another weakness shows itself. It is this lack of willingness to accept true change at the very roots of our system that I worry most about.

        On the flip side--part of me is deeply hopeful that the amounting pains of the past few decades culminating in the chaos of this year will be enough for people to take a deep breath and display the courage to face the troubles head on to suffer so that their children needn't.
        "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
        --Thomas a Kempis

        Comment


        • #5
          I really agree with the short attention span, which really is connected to the absence of any long view. It seems that the things that get long-term traction are wedge issues that are no longer even proxies for larger concerns.

          Having said that, healthcare is one of those issues (and institutions) that is facing a reckoning in the U.S. Obviously the pandemic has exposed many of the systemic problems that critics have pointed out for years, but healthcare lost its potency as a wedge issue and a move away from the present (racket) model seems to be in the cards.

          Surely we blow up that system without blowing up the institution. The problems may arise if the changes are too small to address the real problems. There is real potential for the productive chaos of reshuffling, rather than simply tearing things down. There’s a repeal and replace joke here somewhere...

          To use your bridge example, healthcare is an absolutely necessary bridge for so many people, so they can’t be distracted by a short attention span, but others cross the bridge once and don’t care?

          Sorry (but barely) for my open musing, but I like thinking about this macro situation without the yelling and screaming (even in print) of most stuff I read.

          Comment


          • #6
            Here in Brazil, we do have a health care system provided by the government, albeit not as good as it should be. We also have many health insurance plans mostly provided by employers because the unions force them to provide. None of them perfect and sometimes if you want to get the help you need to pay yourself. Medicines at a basic level can be acquired through these systems either for free ( not a long list of drugs but the essential for most common pathologies ) or with a discount. Extremely expensive meds are also provided but some times we have to use the health insurance plan to get them.

            With the recent crisis, most health professionals considered that working for the public system is the best for them, so the best professionals now work there. Our team working with infectious diseases is pretty good and experienced so in theory, Brazil should not have been so affected, however, this insane battle between ideologies has compromised everything.

            That said, this seems ideal but Brazil is a large country with different types of people and cultures and in the poorest places corruption widespread just debunks the idea of a perfect system since these places are more difficult to watch and more easily explored by politicians that deviate the funds that should've been given to these places. As a general sense, the Brazilian law is pretty good but it is usually not applied or twisted and the politicians simply make it impossible to be completely followed.

            "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
            "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

            Comment


            • #7
              Brazil certainly knows a thing or two about the chaos of ideological pandering in the pretense of government. Sad that it gets in the way of science and medicine there, as well as in the U.S.

              I keep thinking the pandemic will expose the problems of demagoguery over governing in many nations. At some point a failed response simply cannot be framed plausibly as a success. Or are there people who are so ideologically tribal that they will declare victory over the bodies of dead people and move on...


              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Doc View Post
                At some point a failed response simply cannot be framed plausibly as a success. Or are there people who are so ideologically tribal that they will declare victory over the bodies of dead people and move on...
                I don't think there is any doubt there are such people. The 20th century is practically one long cautionary tale about the carnage that comes when they gain power.

                Unfortunately, pretty much every nation, every ideology, can give rise to such people and, even more unfortunately, there are masses, or at least significant minorities, of people willing to support them.

                That said, right now, I think the relentlessly blinkered ideological grandchildren of reaganism and thatcherism have a lot of dead bodies, and economic wreckage, to answer for. With them in charge "government is the problem" is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                [BTW, while I know it's quite common, I've been trying to avoid using "tribal" that way. It seems to me that that degree of ideological commitment is a rather modern phenomenon, whereas "tribal" in that context pretty much denotes a primitive throwback (itself a somewhat problematic usage). I think the behaviour you're trying to get at is more akin to a gang mentality.]
                Last edited by Heresiologist; 08-05-2020, 10:09 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
                  I don't think there is any doubt there are such people. The 20th century is practically one long cautionary tale abou

                  That said, right now, I think the relentlessly blinkered ideological grandchildren of reaganism and thatcherism have a lot of dead bodies, and economic wreckage, to answer for. With them in charge "government is the problem" is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

                  I think the behaviour you're trying to get at is more akin to a gang mentality.]
                  I am stealing “relentlessly blinkered ideological grandchildren of reaganism and thatcherism” as
                  often as I can.

                  The legacy of Reagan is troubling to me. I’ve seen a “I miss Reagan” bumper sticker so often that it’s painful, especially since half of the people putting them on their cars were born after Reagan was president. The legend is bigger than the accomplishments. And of course, many of the people with the sticker would call Reagan a RINO in today’s political climate.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Doc View Post
                    I am stealing “relentlessly blinkered ideological grandchildren of reaganism and thatcherism” as
                    often as I can.
                    Uh... be my guest. Glad to be of service. Actually, that's the nice version. Feel free to substitute criminally for relentlessly if the situation calls for it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I’m inclined to think “criminally“ will be a part of the theft. After all Barr is the U.S. Attorney General, and his actions have certainly not stabilized anything.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I’m reading the Pyat novels at this time, and Machiavelli’s Discourses. I’m always pleasantly stunned when I read things that are so predictive. Both seem to have much to say to our current state of politics, but I suspect that this is because the whole mess is so incredibly cyclical, although 2020 seems particularly ugly and exaggerated in its crises. But I think the part that is kind of jumping out at me is that “both” sides (forgive me for over-simplifying) can look to these books and say “See! It’s right there! History supports my viewpoint.” I think, especially in the US, we’ve allowed the two-party narrative to predictively shape our thoughts and divide us to look for enemies instead of solutions and our common humanity. And there’s too many victims when we do that, and the ones playing politics are not the ones who pay the price. I don’t have any solutions to offer, beyond “examine everything.” We’re too quick to accept arguments we like and reject ones we don’t. One of the things I always liked about the Multiverse was that it brought such brilliant but disparate minds together, usually amicably.
                        "Self-discipline and self-knowledge are the key. An individual becomes a unique universe, able to move at will through all the scales of the multiverse - potentially able to control the immediate reality of every scale, every encountered environment."
                        --Contessa Rose von Bek, Blood part 4, chapter 12

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by J-Sun View Post
                          I’m reading the Pyat novels at this time, and Machiavelli’s Discourses. I’m always pleasantly stunned when I read things that are so predictive. Both seem to have much to say to our current state of politics, but I suspect that this is because the whole mess is so incredibly cyclical, although 2020 seems particularly ugly and exaggerated in its crises. But I think the part that is kind of jumping out at me is that “both” sides (forgive me for over-simplifying) can look to these books and say “See! It’s right there! History supports my viewpoint.” I think, especially in the US, we’ve allowed the two-party narrative to predictively shape our thoughts and divide us to look for enemies instead of solutions and our common humanity. And there’s too many victims when we do that, and the ones playing politics are not the ones who pay the price.
                          We’ve forgotten the wisdom in Benjamin Franklin‘s “If we do not hang together we will surely hang separately.” We’ve gotten you where beating the “other side” has become more important than governance or even our own interests. And the wealthiest shrug and keep cashing giant checks while someone else thinks they’re winning.

                          Maybe a topic for a different thread, but I’ve often thought about reading Pyat in today’s political climate. It might hit too hard. I suspect Breakfast in the Ruins would also seem to close right now. Inhumanity for sure.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The political iconoclasm and upheaval in Byzantium Endures hit a little too close to home. Laughter of Carthage is lighter in the first half, but I know it’s going to hit me hard in the second half. I’ve no idea if it’s good to read books in your own context or not. I mean, it’s unavoidable to an extent, but at what point are we asking for our context to overwhelm the point the author is trying to make? I hate 2020 for doing this to us.
                            "Self-discipline and self-knowledge are the key. An individual becomes a unique universe, able to move at will through all the scales of the multiverse - potentially able to control the immediate reality of every scale, every encountered environment."
                            --Contessa Rose von Bek, Blood part 4, chapter 12

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by J-Sun View Post
                              I’m reading the Pyat novels at this time, and Machiavelli’s Discourses. I’m always pleasantly stunned when I read things that are so predictive. Both seem to have much to say to our current state of politics, but I suspect that this is because the whole mess is so incredibly cyclical, although 2020 seems particularly ugly and exaggerated in its crises. But I think the part that is kind of jumping out at me is that “both” sides (forgive me for over-simplifying) can look to these books and say “See! It’s right there! History supports my viewpoint.” I think, especially in the US, we’ve allowed the two-party narrative to predictively shape our thoughts and divide us to look for enemies instead of solutions and our common humanity. And there’s too many victims when we do that, and the ones playing politics are not the ones who pay the price. I don’t have any solutions to offer, beyond “examine everything.” We’re too quick to accept arguments we like and reject ones we don’t. One of the things I always liked about the Multiverse was that it brought such brilliant but disparate minds together, usually amicably.
                              That is one of the things I loved the most about the Multiverse too.
                              "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                              "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

                              Comment

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