September 12, 2006

Post-Game: Fear Factor

Post-Game: Fear Factor

A good hour. I was really interested in Robert Jay Lifton’s idea of the communal construction of disaster narratives, and it was important to have Daveed Gartenstein-Ross there to tell us — call him a fear-mongerer if you will — that there are people out there who want to kill us.

But the one question we didn’t get to — the one question that bugged me for the rest of the evening — is this: are we actually afraid or are we just faking it? The people on the street in Cambridge, MA, who were more afraid of U.S. policy than terrorist plots, might not be representative of the country as a whole. Nor, perhaps, was our cultural studies professor from North Carolina (never been afraid in her life) or our anti-terrorism expert in New York (nothing keeps him up at night). But speaking personally, I’m a whole lot more afraid of dying from a car crash than a dirty bomb. And a quick poll around the office bore this out (in short: more bike helmets than Cipro). All of which begs that question. I mean, is anyone losing sleep about terrorists? Or rather: are enough people scared enough that we can actually call ourselves a fearful nation? And if not, what’s to make of all the talk about fear if it’s nothing but talk? Echoing nother’s point, perhaps we’re just playing at fear, testing it out for fun, like a long-term societal ride on a roller coaster — one that doesn’t let you bring your own toothpaste?

Related Content

  • 1st/14th

    Is there a third idea here, perhaps while people are not too frightened of something that might happen to them they worry about what could happen to their neighbors, family and friends?

  • Perhaps. Does that describe you?

  • 1st/14th

    To a certain extent. I take risks all the time. I am a reservist thrice deployed in the past 5 years, drive a motorcycle, smoke cigarettes, climb up the side of cliffs for fun and think nothing of it, but would shit a brick if I saw any of my kids/nieces/nephews do any of the more dangerous activites I take part in.

  • 1st/14th

    And on the whole theme of “Fear Factor� and of its political use in intimidating people into doing things and supporting policies, would global warming and the “politics of fear� that goes along with the more dire consequences of it qualify, or is this too holy a topic to impugn?

  • Potter

    1st/14th: Global warming does qualify. This is fear based on a reality that is substantially backed up by science. The politics of fear is necessary and appropriate in this case for non partisan-political ends. Indeed for the survival of the planet in it’s present form, to avoid possible catastrophe people need to be awakened more.

  • 1st/14th

    I see .. so unlike terrorism, the politics of fear used in global warming are being used exclusively for altruistic purposes and have not or will not be used by its advocates to advance non-altruistic or selfish ends?

    Also, since anyone who questions the science of global warming, unlike those serious thinkers who question either the nature of the terrorism threat, is by definition advocating for catastrophe on an apocalyptic scale. And as such they should be ignored and castigated to the realms of insignificance or worse yet, exposed as the fraud and liars they must be?

    Isn’t there a fundamental similarity between these two? Why is it all right to hold an absolutist stance on one, but not on the other?

  • bft

    I’m afraid that will affect the kids.

  • rc21

    1st/14th ; Because one is a policy that the left embraces and the other is a policy that it doesn’t. It is really just that simple.

    I once thought Global warming must be a real threat also. Then I found out that its biggest supporter. The man who cares so much about our world,that he has made it his lifes goal to to end global warming was acting as if there really is no problem at all.

    You see it is very hard to imagine a man who now owns 3 giant homes one with 10 bathrooms, and refuses to use environmentally friendly electricity even though it costs only a few pennies more really believes his own rhetoric. So why should I.

  • Potter

    There is a difference between questioning the existence of global warming when the non-political empirical evidence is overwhelming and questioning how to deal with terrorism (or various terrorist groups) where the assessment of the threat and the reaction to it (war) by those in power are corrupted and driven by transparent partisan needs not national consensus. In the former the more absolutist view is proper. In the latter the frauds and lies need to be exposed.

    Anyone who questions global warming needs to present their facts free of selfish partisan interest. That is not to say that no one is using global warming for political ends but in so doing they have something real and tangible/observable plus altruistic ends working with them.

  • Potter

    A person can only use one bathroom at a time last I knew. If Gore keeps the heat down in his homes, noone should have a problem either. He drives a hybrid car.

    Bush and his entourage go in SUV’s. Notice? How many homes, how many bathrooms?

    What’s the point? I notice that the parroting above originates from a guy in a right wing think tank. So this is what they do for lack of any believable evidence to the contrary re global warming : weaken the message for partisan gain.

  • Potter

    Peter Schweitzer, Al Gore, and hypocrisy

    About a week ago, USA Today published a piece by Peter Schweitzer, who’s a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. It accused Al Gore of hypocrisy, for asking viewers of An Inconvenient Truth to scale back their lifestyles and carbon emissions while … well, there were a number of charges. According to Schweitzer, Gore owns three homes and stock in Occidental Petroleum, still receives royalties from a zinc mine on his property, does not participate in the green-power option his utility offers in Nashville, and lets Paramount pay for his carbon offsets.

    As per standard practice, the conservative media machine spread the charges far and wide — most recently they popped up on Glenn Beck’s show on CNN and, bizarrely, in a recurring poll on AOL’s homepage.

    Gore’s communications director, Kalee Kreider, sent a letter to the editor to respond to the piece, but we all know only a fraction of the folks who read the original piece will read the letter.

    First things first: I talked to some of Gore’s people today, including Kreider, about the specific charges. Suffice to say, they’re false. Gore receives no royalties from the mine, which shut down in 2003. (USA Today actually printed a correction about this, way down on page 10A.) Gore owns no stock in Occidental, and never has (his father did; it was all sold over six years ago). Gore does in fact take advantage of the green power options his utility offers, and was in the process of adding photovoltaic solar cells to his house when the article came out. He pays for his own personal carbon offsets, in addition to the institutional offsets purchased by Paramount (movie distributor) and Rodale (book publisher), which make both the book and the movie completely carbon neutral.

    — read the rest here:

    Also read these responses to the article including one from Gore responding, correcting the lies:

    This is so typical of right wing tactics I am sorry to say. They go below the belt ’cause they got nothing on the substance.

  • rc21

    Gore only decided to change to solar cells when he was confronted with the question. He is only one of many on the left who would have us do as they say not as they do. The list is endless. From Streisand to Joe Kennedy the wind farms off the cape are a perfect example. NIMBYS all of them. If the wind farm was going to be off of New Bedford or some other poor city then the rich libs are all for it . But you see it is going to block there beautiful ocean front views so the fight is on. They have a million excuses as to why the wind farm shouldnt be off the cape. Everyone of them is B.S.

    I dont think people doubt global warming they just question how much is man made vs a natural change in climate.

    Just because someone talks to Gores people We are supposed to believe they are being honest, please give me a break.

  • 1st/14th

    Thats the thing Potter, while the “empirical evidence” put forth is not really in question, the earth has experienced a recent warming trend, the conclusions made with that evidence most certainly are. The “unanimous conclusions” made with the evidence sound a bit too much like the Club of Rome’s “unanimous conclusions” made 30 years ago. In my other life I do quite a bit of finite element analysis and using climate models that have, as of yet, failed validation to construct what could be the most sweeping public policy decisions of all time is irresponsible at best. And despite what you might read in Harpers and Utne, not all who question the conventional wisdom are industry schills (Lindzen and Leroux being two of the more credible with Leroux sharing my beliefs on the validity of current climate modeling). The problem with individuals who do pass the par of “presenting their facts free of selfish partisan interest” is that they are completely ignored, but ignoring their criticisms do make them go away.

    Your mistake is that you are divining the motivations of people you do not know based on your personal biases of them. Thats a shame.

  • 1st/14th

    Potter, funny you should bring up Al Gore and defend him while taking a swipe a Bush. Did you know that Bush commissioned architect David Heymann to design his crawford ranch, which is one of the most eco-friendly housing designs around? Did you also know that in 2002, the White House had a solar roof put on? So, who is putting their money where there mouth is, Bush or Gore? I could say that “this is so typical of left wing tactics” because they suffer from foot in mouth lemming syndrome, but I will assume some good faith and assume you did not know.

  • nother

    David, like you I asked some people around the restaurant about their fears and most said nothing of terrorism or foreign policy. This was obviously an informal survey but the immigrants and work release prisoners all had answers concerning personal survival. The white middle to upper class people at the bar talked more about foreign policy and Islamist fundamentalism.

    Driving home I had a revelation. The middle and upper class whites in our country are consumed by this War on Terror because it could ultimately affect their standard of living – the highest in the world. The dishwashers and busboys and cooks do not spend time worrying about terrorism because no matter how events transpire it would be hard for their standard of living to get any worse.

    The more I think about it the more I realize this is a war of avarice and our desperation to hold onto our materials is shameful.

    With that said, Chris is convinced we are an empire in decline, but I push back, maybe it’s false hope or my own desperation, but I believe we have passed the apex of fear. The House will go to the Democrats and the accountability of oversight hearings will snap us back to reality. In the fullness of time, America’s flowing sails of diversity will withstand the storm, the ship will be righted and onward we will travel in our pursuit of happiness.

  • Potter

    1st/14th: Your friend rc21 brought up Al Gore to aid in diverting the conversation:


    Global Warming is a subject covered in depth by ROS-check the lower left column of this page for the series and listen. Also recommended the series from the New Yorker by Elizabeth Colbert on Climate Change This gives you a better idea of what these conclusions are based on and why it is so alarming.

    It’s hard for me to be more swayed by your argument based on your own element analysis than what I have read and heard so far. The very few who are questioning ( and who should be questioning) perhaps are being ignored because consensus ( formed over a number of years of debate and observation and analysis) is to be given a lot more weight at this point. Throwing the Club of Rome’s projections into this is a distraction. I refer to not only the fact of Global warming as well as the man-made causes of it.

    But we digress.

  • Cave_Blogem

    Maybe it is like Don DeLillo said about work in _Underworld_, that we are middle managers acting like middle managers. Or like a play within a play–just because you are acting doesn’t mean you’re not an actor.

    Our biggest fears are usually about money (as nother points out) or being proved wrong. So let’s just say you voted for a President because he was supposed to be good for the economy. He has turned out to be pretty good for the very wealthy, while the middle and lower classes have continued to see a drop in real wages, while the stock market has languished, interest rates are rising, etc. And he’s an embarrassing mean and petty simpleton. But he _appears_ to be strong on terrorism. So the real fear is that you were wrong when you voted for that guy, that you’ve been used. So you act like the country needs to be tough, because you don’t want people to know that you know you were so, so wrong. Don’t want others to see how easy it is to use you.

    So maybe the fear is a pose, as David and nother suspect, but one born of fear.

    I took my (eight-year-old) son sailing last weekend, his first time, on a windy Boston Harbor. He spent much of the time gripping the high side, knuckles white, an odd of grimace on his face. Enjoyed the ride, but he was terrified the boat was going to tip over. Children have to get a lot of mileage out of fear because so many adult pleasures are closed to them. As adults, though, we can enjoy many other things. And we can identify our problems so that we may fix them. So let’s admit it: we were wrong, we were all so wrong. It would be a good first step, maybe.

  • 1st/14th

    I am not diverting the conversation, simply focusing on a point and illustrating the hypocrisy that while you seem to think that the fear of terrorism is manufactured by wicked people who use it only to advance a political agenda the fear of global warming is used by people’s whose intentions are pure as the driven snow and whose intentions are purely altruistic. The Club of Rome’s projections where hysterics that proved to be false even when the “scientific consensus� agreed with it at the time. It was also a salient point that while Al Gore talks green, Bush lives green. Why you fail to even recognize this puzzles me.

    I also brought up my experience in finite element analysis to illustrate that I know first hand how complex numeric nodal modeling is and how easily its results can be either misinterpreted or flat out wrong. When you increase the complexity of a model, you also decrease the accuracy and this is compounded the less comprehensive the model is. This is why, to date, no climate models have been able to provide historical validation; i.e. you put in the inputs from 1850 climate data and get 2005 results. To date, climate models have not been able to do this, and that’s a fact. Your links to the New Yorker only show how easy it is to confuse someone with a journalism degree.

  • Peggy Sue @ work

    nother, your observations about class and fear make sense. It reminded me that Howard Zinn said “All war is class war” and asked us to consider, “Who does it serve?”.

    Out here on the west coast 9-11 was a different experience. People were of course concerned and worried about friends and relatives back east but there were no toxic clouds of debris or people jumping out of buildings in fact because where I live we are usually inundated with the nerve grating sounds of small aircraft the days after 9-11 were uniquely if oddly quiet and peaceful. We are going through a dark age no doubt about it but 9-11 was just part of a continuing chain of dreadful events that started with the Supreme Court’s appointment of George Bush.

    As for the people who do not believe in global warming you have to wonder… they probably don’t believe in evolution or round planets either.

  • 1st/14th

    I am sorry Peggy Sue, but what exactly is your background in? Let me guess, comparative literature, art history, sociology? What makes your opinion on global warming worth even 1% of mine? Oh, that’s right, probably nothing. And just for the record, I do believe in evolution, round planets, and I do believe the earth has experience a warming trend during the last century, but unlike the compliant steeple who gobble up the worst Greenpeace has to offer, I do not think the prior evidence supports the current conclusions with a high degree of reliability. Want to argue specifics with me, go for it; want to quote from the New Yorker and look like a poser who cant from an original though, that’s fine too.

  • rc21

    The problem is distortion and spin by the liberals and media. Just look at The NAS release on surface tempature reconstructions for the past 2,000 years. Otherwise known as the now famous”hockey stick” temperature curve,which Gore used so prominently in his movie.

    The Media portrayed the findings of the NAS review panel as a new statement as to how warm the earth is at present,and totally ignored the real news,that the original claim by Mann et al of unprecedented warmth in the last 1,000 years is dubious at best.

    The statistical and data analysis methods that were used have been strongly criticized . The hockey stick model played down the warmth of the medival warm period of a 1,000 years ago,as well as the later coolness of the ”little ice age”

    In their attempt to not publicly scold Mann and his co authors for questionable data analysis methods the authors of the new report instead chose to restate the evidence for how warm the earth has gotten recently.

    What the media didn’t notice, however is that the 1,000 yr figure central to the whole hockey stick debate had now been replaced in the report by by a figure of 400yrs. Since most of the last 400yrs were dominated by the “Little Ice Age”. It is no wonder that the earth has warmed.

    I could go on but whats the point. You can see how the game is played by the left and the media. The truth is that over 50% of all scientific research papers are later proven to be false. The further back you go in time the harder it is to use valid methods of approximating what the earths tempature was. The thermometer was not even invented until the 1600s.

    Dont get me wrong I think we should be concerned with the environment, and conservation is a positive step. But Gores use of scare tactics and his usual I know more than you so just do as I say rhetoric doesnt play well with many of us. I’m still open to listening to others also.

  • Potter

    I am not diverting the conversation, simply focusing on a point and illustrating the hypocrisy that while you seem to think that the fear of terrorism is manufactured by wicked people who use it only to advance a political agenda the fear of global warming is used by people’s whose intentions are pure as the driven snow and whose intentions are purely altruistic.

    Those are your words. You said wicked. If the shoe fits……… NO question in my mind fear of terrorism was and still is being used to advance a political agenda. Bush gave a speech the other night where he STILL connected Iraq ( mentioned it 17 times) to HIS failing “War on Terror”. This was to be a speech that was non- political in memory of 9/11 5th anniversary. I was just generous in a recent post where I said this gang is not conscious.

    Genuine scientists ( climateologists- not you, I would not trust you for your politics) are not driven by politics in theri assessments.

    What makes your opinion on global warming worth even 1% of mine? Oh, that’s right, probably nothing.

    That’s an amazing statement and should end the conversation.

  • “That’s an amazing statement and should end the conversation.”

    If not amazing then certainly rude and against the spirit of this site. Keep it civil, 1st/14th, or find another forum.

  • Old Nick

    It’s darn interesting that the bloggers who most frequently and stridently represent recognizable rightwing views do so while using, far more often than the leftists and centrists they scorn, snot-nosed insults like those making waves in this thread (and others).

    What the righties don’t seem to grasp is that they’re coming across as, oh, something akin to belligerent teenagers pretending to understand the world far more accurately than the ‘liberal adults’ they deride.

    What I’d like to see instead is a civil exchange of ideas: wherein blogger ‘Right’ suggests to blogger ‘Left’ that he’s got a differing analysis and then offers it with kind words instead of snot. And then backs up the analysis with links to online articles by scholars of some sort, instead of just bloviating the sorts of tantrums any of us can hear any day of the week from insufferably hateful Goebbelers like Limbaugh and Hannity.

    But I’m ever decreasingly hopeful for this sort of exchange here in ROS, since the right-wing propaganda machine, which effectively informs and molds American rightist opinion, is intellectually bankrupt, and therefore has little choice but to resort to the tactics of scorn and smear in its attempts to score the ‘points’ that its putative ‘philosophy’ can’t. (All the worse for us that the rightwing machine is so effective in its underhanded tactics, too.)

    So, what the hell: prove me wrong. Show me, by politely and empathetically offering conservative analyses that run counter to the progressive opinions that dominate the ROS bloggership, that my hopes aren’t forlorn.

    I promise it won’t dismay me should my complaint prove groundless.

  • 1st/14th

    Genuine scientists, I already gave you two of them, if you choose to ignore them because they do not reinforce a narrow and dogmatic interpretation of the facts that you perceive as the gospel truth, then that is your failing and an indication of the limitations your beliefs have placed on your ability to process information. A shame to be sure, but not an uncommon affliction.

    David: I apologize for any perceive rudeness, but there is plenty to go around, so please don’t single one contributor out.

    Old Nick: belligerence is a trait that no one group holds a monopoly on, so spare the treatise in piety and sanctimony. I know that it makes the “progresive” community sleep well at nite thinking that onle their “enemies” are capable of hate and malice, but these traits are found equally in all extremists (ever wonder why Mussolini made such a smooth transition from radical socialism to fascism). If stating that a particular skill of mine makes me more qualified to comment with some degree of authority on a subject than so be it. I come here to expand my horizons, challenge what I believe, kill some time at work and relay some of what I experience to those that have not. Sometimes the rhetoric is a bit heated and, dare I say, even rude, but thats life.

  • nother

    Thats life? rudeness? What would your mother think if she heard you say that? I’m serious.

    Anyway, very nice analysis Old Nick.

  • Old Nick


    Here’s the sort of unthinking smear that turns off the very minds you’d probably prefer to communicate with constructively:

    “ever wonder why Mussolini made such a smooth transition from radical socialism to fascism�(?)

    Why? Because it conflates, on purpose and yet utterly daftly, contemporary progressives with early 20th century fascists.

    Why ‘daftly’? Because the very sort of transformation-of-totalitarianisms you are apparently accusing contemporary progressives of is entirely more applicable to the neo-conservative jingoists your posts seem bent on championing.

    In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, try, :

    “Author Michael Lind argues that the neoconservatives are influenced by the thought of Trotskyists such as James Burnham and Max Shachtman, who argued that ‘the United States and similar societies are dominated by a decadent, postbourgeois new-class’. He sees the neoconservative concept of ‘global democratic revolution’ as deriving from the Trotskyist Fourth International’s ‘vision of permanent revolution’. He also points to what he sees as the Marxist origin of ‘the economic determinist idea that liberal democracy is an epiphenomenon of capitalism’, which he describes as ‘Marxism with entrepreneurs substituted for proletarians as the heroic subjects of history.’�

    In other words, the neo-cons may well be ‘conservative’ in some matters of their philosophy, but they are Trotskyite in their tactics.

    I ask you – you non-ideological progressives, that is – does this Trotskyite “export the revolution as fast as possible and damn the consequences� not aptly describe the fanatical “export corporate-capitalism disguised as ‘Democracy’—and hope for the best!� doctrine that has ruinously corrupted American foreign policy since the overturning of Gore’s popular-vote victory in 2000?

    Anyway, and back to the point: respect shown to fellow bloggers will serve your political points a whole lot better than smears like the one in red that heads this post – and its like that consistently deface the ROS threads.

    Oh, and hey, it’s not OUR problem if your political heroes are and their simplistic ideology (like the complete and utter jingo called American Exceptionalism) can’t stand up to the harsh light of reality outside of the pathetically jingoistic US of A.

    Lastly, if your purpose here is only to insult those who represent points of view other than yours (rather than trying to reach those minds with respectfully-offered alternative analyses), then David is spot on in suggesting that you take your rhetorical toxins to another forum. Again: go ahead and prove me wrong—please.

    If you can succeed, I won’t whine.

    I promise.

  • Old Nick

    One addendum and one correction:


    Oh, and hey, it’s not OUR problem if your political heroes and their simplistic ideology (like the complete and utter jingo called American Exceptionalism) can’t stand up to the harsh light of reality outside of the pathetically jingoistic US of A.

    Addendum: Thanks, nother.

  • Potter

    1st/14th I come here to expand my horizons, challenge what I believe, kill some time at work and relay some of what I experience to those that have not. Sometimes the rhetoric is a bit heated and, dare I say, even rude, but thats life.

    Well as far as I am concerned if you can’t be civil you can “kill some time” elsewhere.

    If one wants to have a genuine conversation here the usual ( by consensus as well as the host’s requirement) is to argue the points and give links and EVEN give the courtesy of reading or skimming the others guys links and address the points (if one is serious that is) civilly.

    If one is here MERELY to argue the right vs. left thing or to defend Bush ( who happens to be in the hotseat now, not Gore) this diverts. Fine but the conversation devolves when it gets to my guy versus your guy. You and Rc21 devolved it.

    The apology for the attack and the bullying above should be addressed to Peggy Sue and Potter not to the thin air. And it should be sincere. It’s not.

    1st/14th, you probably have a lot to offer and MAYBE, POSSIBLY, something to learn but you shoot yourself (end the conversation) with bullying, rudeness and the ( futile) attempt at puffing yourself up. If you have anything of substance on the subject to offer, your style destroys it.

    I had to look up Lindzen and Leroux myself. I wonder if you would follow the links I provided and actually read Colbert after you degrade her articles as (mere) journalism. Is this how you “expand your horizens” ?

    Oh well “that’s life”.

  • Potter

    Gore was in Australia this month and gave this interesting interview:

    quote from it:

    So look at the facts. The so-called ” gloomy predictions” are predictions of what would happen if we did not act. It’s not a question of mood. It’s a question of reality. And, you know, there’s no longer debate over whether the earth is round or flat, though there are some few people who still think it’s flat, we generally ignore that view because the evidence has mounted to the point where we understand that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. And that is the case with the consensus view of the National Academy of Sciences in Australia, in the United States and every advanced country, with the international group, an unprecedented body of 2,000 scientists in 100 countries who’ve worked for 20 years, each year coming with a new version of their consensus.

  • Potter

    The President: Shades of Green

    George W. Bush thinks of himself as a conservationist, but activists call his policies destructive to the environment.

    By Richard Wolffe


    July 17, 2006 issue – Before moving into the White House, George W. Bush built the kind of vacation home that Al Gore might have designed. His Texas ranch captures rain and wastewater for landscaping. Solar panels line the roof and an underground geothermal system provides heating and air conditioning. There’s even a protected forest that is home to the rare golden-cheeked warbler.

    Unlike his caricature, Bush is not monochromatic when it comes to the environment. During the final weeks of the 2000 campaign. he lampooned Gore’s plans to cut taxes for those living a green lifestyle. “How many of you own a hybrid electric-gasoline-engine vehicle?” he would ask at rallies. “How many of you have a rooftop photovoltaic system?”

    But following his green-tinted State of the Union address in January, Bush now travels the country promoting both hybrid vehicles and solar power. Just last month he created a huge national monument around the remote northwestern islands of Hawaii.

    Has Bush turned green in his six years in office? Both environmentalists and the White House say no—but for different reasons. To activists, Bush’s record is unremittingly bad. They accuse him of relaxing clean-air standards on power plants and refineries, and of blocking Kyoto-style measures to halt global warming. They even question the sincerity of his plan to protect the Hawaiian Islands, given the Navy’s nearby use of powerful sonar that can harm whales. “Whatever motivated him to build a green ranch before he was president hasn’t been translated at all into policy,” says Frances Beinecke of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    (read the rest above link)

  • 1st/14th

    Old Nick: Whoa, slow down there champ, I happen to agree with a good deal of what you wrote and ironically it only reinforced my prior post.

    My comparison of fascists (or the hard right of the early 20th century) with “progressives� (or the hard left of the early 20th century) is a smear but your demeaning comparison of neo-conservatives with Trotskyites is not a smear? How does that make sense? I know you will tell me it’s inherently different (like the “justifiable� scare tactics of global warming with the “unjustifiable� scare tactics of terrorism) and if that’s where you are going, thank you ever so much with making my point for me … again. The same traits that make fascists so scary are the same traits that make Marxists so scary.

    The fact that neo-cons so much in common with Trotskyites illustrates the meaningless nature of artificial political labels when dealing with the more extreme elements of the spectrum, because, guess what, they are all fundamentally the same! Although I would argue that the neo-con legacy in Trotskyism is many times more benevolent than the mainstream lefts roots in Bolshevism/Stalinism. And that’s an interesting point too; perhaps the modern progressive movement hate of the neo-cons is a throwback to the old feud of the Stalinists and Trotskyites.

    James Billington and Joshua Muravchik make these points far better than I do here and it might do you good to read some of their work, especially Muravchik as he is an old Maoist himself.

    I am most certainly not here to defend Bush or eviscerate Gore, but so much of the demagoguery that goes on here, while being ludicrous and pathetic, is repeated so often that it simply becomes a given, and one that we are woe to questions lest we be labeled as “one of them�. Case in point, when asked how the constitution has been shredded since 9/11 (a concept so sacrosanct, that no one dare question it), no one could offer a half way decent example and it was admitted to be a hyperbolic sound byte.

    The one sided conversations that are flowing on the web are breeding a level of insanity not seen in a long time, and its leading nowhere good. We refuse to disconnect ourselves from these bullshit political labels because they provide us with a level of comfort we need to justify our irrational hate of the “other side�. And while some people really cannot or should not be engaged in debate, this is certainly not true with the vast majority of people in this country who are not talking with each other. I was recently disappointed when I learned that the National Review and The Nation Magazine stopped running advertisements for each others publication (something they have done for years now), it’s a sad sign of what’s going on. One this is certain though, the

    And, if I am a jingoist, then I could care less; if the label fits me, then I will wear it proudly.

  • 1st/14th

    Potter, most of Kolbert’s links are dead; I don’t know what the other two clips are trying to illustrate; and you are right, that is life, and I am not leaving for a while so get used to it.

  • 1st/14th

    Oh, and hey, it’s not OUR problem if your political heroes and their simplistic ideology (like the complete and utter jingo called American Exceptionalism) can’t stand up to the harsh light of reality outside of the pathetically jingoistic US of A.

    You know this reminds me of something Keith Windschuttle on postmodernism and its effects on the minds of those it poisons: “The abandonment of objectivity and truth amongst academics has bred a generation of young people taught to scorn the traditional values of Western culture – equality, freedom, democracy, human rights – as hollow rhetorical tools used to mask the self identify of the wealth and powerful. This teaching has bred a cynical, amoral, self-centered younger generation who lacks any sense of inherited wisdom from the past, and which constitutes the crisis of our civilization.”

    More than anything, I feel a little sad for you.

  • jazzman

    Fear is the most primal emotion known to humans – therefore the cultivation and exploitation of fear is a well-worn tool (as old as mankind) to control those who can’t see that their fear is in the driver’s seat making decisions. I wrote in the “Fear Factor Thread�

    that Theistic religions are based on fear – fear of pissing off God, and this fear has held sway for millennia and has been exploited by many for as long. Laws are obeyed by fear of retribution and not by the idea that many laws are simply reminders of how to act in a society. Exploitation of people’s fears by those with agenda is usually the easiest means to their desired ends in their view, and it works at least in the short run. I have suggested in many ROS threads that FEAR is the root of all putative evil that is postulated to exist. I say postulated because I do not believe in the existence of evil outside of people’s beliefs, it’s just another concept to exploit fears – suggesting that there is the “axis of evil�, evildoers, etc. is rhetoric to frighten people. FRIGHTENED PEOPLE DO NOT WANT FREEDOM – mental or physical. They want protection, rules and someone to make decisions for them and tell them what to do – it doesn’t matter if a little (or a LOT) of freedoms are curtailed as long as an illusion of safety is proffered. When people are so scared that they have no choice but to give up and die or commit violence, it’s no wonder that violent behavior is prevalent. There is no reason to fear anything. Fear based reasoning is not the way to make intelligent decisions. Roosevelt knew that fear amplifies fear in an open loop so he recommended fearing fear but that’s like hating hate. Fear nothing and embrace Absolute Morality

    and you will know peace.

    Peace to ALL


  • Old Nick

    1st/14th: “your demeaning comparison of neo-conservatives with Trotskyites is not a smear?�

    No, it’s not a smear. Perhaps you read it too quickly. It wasn’t my comparison, but Michael Lind’s (and others’) via Wikipedia. Here’s the relevant link:

    Moreover, and notwithstanding that I can’t link it to you online, here’s a better quote, which explains the prefix ‘neo-’ in ‘neoconservative’:

    “…the neocons were a group of ex-Communists, ex-leftists, and disaffected liberals who had drifted from out of the Democratic Party when the political leaders with whom they had allied themselves failed to gain national power. Kristol’s early intellectual history as a follower of Leon Trotsky, the anti-Stalinist Communist military general and writer, brought to conservatism a belief in the paramount importance of disseminating ideology, rather than gathering votes, as the way to win political power. Kristol was interested in ideas not for their own sake, as an academic might be, but for the purpose of influencing public opinion through a ‘war of ideas’.

    “…In a kind of inverted Trotskyism, Kristol adapted to conservatism the Communist style of putting forth an endless series of journals, op-ed manifestos, position papers, public letters, and magazines…�

    So no, it’s not a smear to compare the neocons to Trotskyites. The prefix ‘neo-’ in fact denotes their philosophical conversion from hardcore Leftists to Rightists.

    Lastly, I was writing here about public figures, not the private citizenry whose only venue for community dialogue and ‘journaling’ are forums like this. Public figures such as politicians and the talking-head ideologues monopolizing FOX News and talk-radio are fair game for public pillorying—and they know it.

    I don’t think that sort of thing is part of the ROS site-mission, however. We should respect one another here, even when rival opinions get our molars a-grinding. Doncha’ think?

    My compliant about smear, in other words, applies to this forum I participate within, and to no other.

  • Potter

    Sorry about that: Here are the articles. At the bottom of each there is also a link to the rest as well as an interview with Kolbert.

    1st/14th- The real “shame” and all that’s “sad” here is that we cannot have a decent conversation ( especially if you have something to offer). For instance completely lost was a conversation about the difference between sounding an alarm, well waranted, and fearmongering. Your pugnacious style is so off-putting that it becomes the issue.

    the other two clips were for RC21 who brought up Gore and made this a partisan argument.

    For you more: How to Be a Real Sceptic ( apparently the British spell skeptic that way)

  • Potter

    Thanks Jazzman-Good to have you back!

    I never parsed the Roosevelt quote that way and I think you are right. But that worked for Roosevelt’s purpose anyway. You also echo what Robert Jat Lifton was saying in the Fear Factor show regarding frightened people not wanting freedom, but protection.

    yes ( may we have) Peace, ALL.