Adventures in integral reality: Amusement parks for angry citizens

31. VIII 2019

There is no longer anything on which there is nothing to say. (Jean Baudrillard)

Back in the day, long before flat screens, in the times of cathode tubes, watching news was a compulsory ritual, like a shower or shave, which took place once every day at 6:30 pm. The news was a basic reflection of reality — people watched them to get informed. From 6:30 to 7:00, a solemn cloud would descend on the households – during that time, activities would slow down and the kids had to get quiet while adults (mostly fathers) would tune in to hear what really happened on that day. The news were dry, boring, and unremarkable, delivered without embellishment; they had to be endured. Those 30 minutes felt different than any other 30 minutes of the day. As if the clocks slowed down, the flow of time changed, becaming thicker and slower. It felt like there was nothing that couldn’t fit inside that half hour.

The arrival of the 24/7 news cycle changed everything. By occupying the entire program, the news became both news and entertainment. Suddenly, there was always something going on somewhere, or so it seemed, something one was supposed to be afraid to miss. The news became less news and more opinions, and they provoked counter opinions and set the stage for the contest between different opinions. And the public started taking sides. There were winners and losers and everyone liked the winners, so the newscasters and political commentators became new inadvertent media stars. By then, people were watching news all the time, in the morning, during the day, before dinner, during dinner, and after dinner, between shows and during commercial breaks, before going to bed or if they couldn’t sleep at night. In order to fill the time, news channels had to expand beyond basic reflections of reality; they became a production of reality and the source of its excess. There was hardly anything left for us to imagine anymore. It spelled a slow death of the Real by suffocation of the imaginary.

Consider the following example of 1970s Italy from the perspective of modern media and 24/7 news. Those were the times when bombs were going off regularly in its cities as a result of the activity of the Brigade Rose and their likes.

Is any given bombing in Italy the work of leftist extremists; or of extreme right-wing provocation; or staged by centrists to bring every terrorist extreme into disrepute and to shore up its own failing power; or again, is it a police-inspired scenario in order to appeal to calls for public security? All this is equally true, and the search for proof, indeed the objectivity of the facts, does not check this vertigo of interpretation. We are in a logic of simulation which no longer has anything to do with a logic of facts and an order of reason. Simulation is characterized by a precession of the model, of all models based on the merest fact — the models come first, and their orbital circulation constitutes the genuine “magnetic field” of events. The facts no longer have any trajectory of their own, they arise at the intersection of the models; a single fact may even be engendered by all the models at once. This anticipation, this precession, this short-circuit, this confusion of the fact with its model (no more divergence of meaning, no more dialectical polarity) is what allows each time for all the possible interpretations, even the most contradictory – all are true, in the sense that their truth is exchangeable, in the image of the models from which they proceed, in a generalized cycle[1].

The politics of Simulacra

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth — it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true. (Ecclesiastes)

These developments opened the door for alternative modes of reproduction of reality to enter the mainstream. According to Baudrillard, besides basic reflection of reality employed in traditional news casting, there are three additional stages of reproduction[2]: perversion of reality (e.g. William Barr’s summary of Mueller’s report); pretense of reality (Larry Kudlow’s statemet: “President doesn’t make things up”); and simulacrum, which bears no relation to any reality whatsoever (e.g. Fox News).

Simulacrum is the map without a territory, a copy without an original, the avenue by which accepted ideals or privileged position could be challenged and overturned. Pinocchio is an example of simulacrum, and so is Frankenstein’s monster, and TV evangelists, hipsters, The Picture of Dorian Grey, Pygmalion, painting of a photograph, or Disney World.

Simulacrum contains a certain aspect of creation ex-nihilo. The intrinsic circularity between the real and imaginary is essential for its sustainability. For example, Disney World exists, it is permanent, undeniable; it constantly serves as a benchmark against which the Real is compared and measured. In contrast, Pretense and Perversion of reality are transient; they cannot take root and must be followed by another pretense or perversion in order to have any consequence.

However, the most important practical dimension of simulacrum, one which defines its appeal and longevity, is its intrusion into the value system. As Umberto Eco pointed out, when visiting Disney parks, we not only enjoy the perfect imitation, but the conviction that imitation has reached its apex, in comparison to which reality will always be inferior. This is the same motif found in Frankenstein (intention to produce a superior human from superior parts, Pygmalion, or Pinocchio. All these examples capture the desire to achieve perfection by design, improve reality by creating its copy, elevating it to the level of the real, and using it as a surrogate[3].

Very early on, the 24/7 news concept inevitably began to deviate from basic reflection of reality, although in varying degree, depending on the network. However, no one has gone further in that journey than the Fox News. Their accelerated departure from the rest of the news media coincides with the arrival of Roger Ailes who was the first to realize the endless financial potential of manufactured reality, long before anyone else, and adopted it as the network’s business model — We deceive, you believe — to create a simulacrum as a perfect surrogate, more appealing and in many ways superior and more desirable than actual reality itself.

Once reality gets passed through the cognitive sausage making processing plant of Fox News, it emerges transformed and utterly unrecognizable, immunized against facts. In that process, Fox has created a fictional world of arbitrariness that has no reality corrective, but one that resonates with a growing segment of the American society.

The real and the imaginary: From fusion to confusion

Integral reality has no imaginary. Everything becomes real, everything has a meaning, whereas it is in the nature of meaning that not everything has it. (Jean Baudrillard)

As much as the sociopolitical developments catalyzed the evolution of the media, changes in political climate and a general shift in sentiment were largely shaped by the media, so much so that in the last decade it has become impossible to see the beginning and the end of their causal connection.

At the core of this all reside the deep social changes of the post-industrial West. Technology, globalization, tighter environmental regulations, and decline in manufacturing have resulted in accelerated deplition in demand for unskilled white labor, a similar social configuration experienced by the black sub proletariat in the early postindustrial decades.

Such developments, whenever they take place, produce insecure, fear-driven masses that can be coopted by ethno-nationalist forces. While for a shrinking minority, money can buy security and act as a replacement for identity, for a growing majority without money, there is nothing left – neither identity nor security. They are forced into the imaginary. Fear for oneself unconsciously fosters a longing for the enemy. They invent an enemy for themselves. The enemy, even in imaginary form, is a fast supplier of identity[4].

For a significant (and rapidly growing) segment of the American population, reality has become a nightmare without an escape path. The surrogate offering of Fox presented itself as a far more attractive alternative than the one that governed their lives – a copy had becomes superior to the original. The underlying rage of the white underclass was abundant, it presented itself as the new political capital ready to be deployed and invested. Its emergence as a portal to power and influence defined the political inflection point, and was seized by Roger Ailes when he joined the Fox. His version of right wing populism became ventriloquism of the excluded, a well-tried and bankrupt political maneuver of the right, a regressive anti-globalist surrogate for the general identity loss.

This was a novel, ingenious shot at the old and probably the most acute problem faced by the developed world: the problem of excess population. The number of people that fall through the cracks and are unable to get reintegrated into the normal functioning of society has been growing unstoppably, their size exceeding the managerial capability of the planet. Their discontent has reached toxic levels and their presence inside the enclosure of prosperity has been making the “normal” segment of the population uncomfortable and nervous. So far, attempts at draining of the excess population have been centered on either their incarceration or outright physical elimination via opioids. The newest proposal, championed by the right-wing populist outlets, is to open amusement parks for angry citizens and keep the excess population sequestered inside those parks, not merely as spectators, but as interactive extras; create attractions and make them angrier so they never want to leave.

For the excess population, the reality created by Fox is the only thing to cling to. Rage is their political currency, an asset and investment, which Fox and the right-wing media promise to reinvest and manage. It is the source of dividends, their 401K, and bitcoin at the same time; their present and their future, and the last chance of reclaiming their social identity.

The arrival of Trump was an extension of Fox’s vision beyond media. His election was perceived as a rebellion against the Real. However, Trump was not a novelty here. The script had already been written well before he was even in the picture. Fox News is the theme park; Trump is just a character in it, the Fox’s Pinocchio, there merely to entertain the visitors.

And with the strange twist of fate, as one political idea gets recycled after a century of hibernation, and ideology undergoes a face lift from National Socialism to National Capitalism, the Nazi wet dream of harnessing the power of media for political gains comes to life again, only this time as a perversion of itself: It is not the media that are in the service of politics, but politics in the service of media.

Semiotic insolvency and the great flood of arbitrariness

Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth[5]. And as lies continue and become bigger, our deficit to the truth grows. And this debt will have to be paid one day – that day will inevitably come. By inventing new lies in order to diffuse the old ones, we finance the old (semiotic) debt by issuing a new one – we borrow more in order to pay old debts. This is a semiotic pyramid scheme.

Being allowed to lie without consequences is like having an unlimited credit line; it feels like free money. And when free money is readily available, we don’t need a rationale, we take it, although we know all too well how it will end. And despite all that wisdom of hindsight, we fall repeatedly into the trap of pyramid schemes because we always see ourselves not as victims but as perpetrators.

In the culture where money is elevated to a supreme metrics and profit to the highest principle, it is no wonder that non-financial liabilities, like deficit to the truth, have been perceived as secondary and allowed to grow without a bound as long as they continue to bring profits.

What we are facing, in the not so distant future, is the bursting of the semiotic subprime bubble, ignited and carried out by Fox News and accelerated and brought to unsustainable levels by the current administration. The conditionally insolvent are allowed to borrow until they become unconditionally illiquid: People with no credibility or qualifications are appointed to positions of high responsibility and are allowed to cover up the consequences of their incompetence with further lies and distractions until their lies are no longer transactable — when no one believes in them any longer. This is when the system will clear. However, when the criminal incompetence of the current administration can no longer be covered up, its toxic debris will have already affected a significant part of the planet. It will be the political equivalent of the 2008 crash, a global Chernobyl, a chain reaction of defaults with huge casualties and unforeseeable long-term effects. This will be a generalized meltdown of credibility of trust, a default of the magnitude never seen in human history, an analogue of the 2008 financial crisis extended beyond financial markets, a meltdown of all frames of reference. There won’t be a firm spot to put a foot on. This is the great flood of arbitrariness.

[1] Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Stanford University Press, 1988), pp. 166-184

[2] Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation, University of Michigan Press; 14th Printing edition (1994)

[3] Simulacrum comes to life in three stages. In the initial stage, a faithful copy of the original emerges as an object is replicated, but the image is recognized as a counterfeit of the original. In the second stage, the distinction between the original and its replica begin to break down as a mass production of copies emerge. In the final stage, the replica precedes the original; there is no longer distinction between the reality and representation. Simulacrum anesthetizes the imagination numbing it against reality. It is ultimately a replacement of substance with symbols.

[4] B. C. Han, Die Austreibung des Anderen, S. FISCHER; Auflage: 4. (2016)

[5] Valery Legasov in Chernobyl

6 thoughts on “Adventures in integral reality: Amusement parks for angry citizens

  1. disperser

    A lot to digest . . .

    Let me ask . . . do you think the other networks (and many commentators) are following in the footsteps of Fox News? Meaning, is the constructed model idea so powerful and successful that other media use their own version to incite their own base?

    I ask because much of what you reference and write about seems to apply (in the current political and social climate) to other news organizations and a much broader range of individuals (politically, socially, economically).

    Whereas one could once see a clear demarcation between the made-up-model-driven presentation of the Right (Fox News) and the more “mainstream” media, that line is blurring.

    Oversimplified and purposefully distorted models are regularly fed to a broader spectrum of society. Anger is no longer the playground on which only Conservatives and the Right play. Constructed models aiming to promote discord and unhappiness are no longer restricted to Fox News.

    And yes, Trump was the catalyst . . . we saw the rise of the strident and angry Left after his election. And while we’re perhaps tempted to justify said response to what is an obviously unsuited President, we might ask if it’s ever justified to manufacture what we loosely call “truth” in the service of our own desires. Especially when we decry the practice when used to obtain power over others.

    To be clear, I’m not arguing against the basic tenet of the above; I’m only asking if it applies to a broader spectrum of both the news apparatus and the population. I believe it does; it’s why I’m extremely pessimistic of the road ahead.

    One side note: history shows us this is not the first time the press was used in such ways. We have a long history of very partisan and often vicious press getting their hands dirty by dipping into the political cesspool. The fact we’ve repeatedly risen above it gives a tiny sliver of hope even as I think it’s just as likely this time we don’t recover.

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  2. notesfromdisgraceland Post author

    Each network operates with its own blend of facts and opinions. Each of them has its own audience and target group, which determines that blend.
    Fox’s business plan is to monetize on the discontent of the excluded — the part of the society that fell through the cracks and has a difficulty reintegrating into the normal functioning of the society. They are mostly, but not exclusively, white low-skilled labor for whom the future looks grim, and for whom there is little hope of ever regaining their position of privilege that whites used to be disproportionately entitled to. For them, all the doors are closed. They see no future for themselves and no prospect for change of their predicament in the realm of the real. Their discontent is the loudest and its expression the most aggressive.
    The role of the Fox and other right wing outlets is to manage this discontent. They do it in the most unusual way by creating a narrative aimed at convincing their followers that what is good for the American billionaires is best for them. This is achieved by bundling together the objectives that favor the rich with cultural determinants embraced by the white subproletariat, and use their growing number to push that agenda in the ballot box. This obvious nonsense dictates the exact imbalance between facts and fictions and, at the same time, underscores the threat facts and truth present for the right wing outlets.
    To be clear, there is no true left in America, only in name — they represent the political center. However, whatever assignment one wants to use, there is no parity between the two ends of the spectrum.
    The angry right wing is trapped and their frustration lies in the fact that there seems to be no real life solution for them, except the anger itself. The centrist audience, on the other hand, is less unhappy with their predicament and, therefore, less frustrated – their discontent is related less to their own existential problems and more to the common problems of the future and the general questions of justice. They are more inclusive and they advocate for a more symmetrical distribution, comprehensive healthcare, educational reform, better conditions of living, and environmental regulations. These are their talking points and, as such, they define the agenda of the lcentris (and “left” leaning) media. Consequently, the blend of facts and opinions for those media outlets is markedly different. What is being identified as the “angry left” is the segment of this segment of society that is still harboring some nostalgia towards the antiquated notion that revolution can lead to change, an outdated myth that has no place in the current sociopolitical configuration.
    However, these partitions are not necessarily the endogenous choices of the media outlets. These corporations are profit driven organizations –not there to perform any public service, but to make money. Right-wing, centrist or left, their objectives are identical – to make more money than their competitors, which means to have larger audience, which in turn means to generate more attention. However, the most important innovation in that business, the scandal, confabulations, reality production, and entertainment in general, have already been appropriated and patented by the Fox. The rest of the media is left with its residual, which has forced them to define themselves as the outrage industry.
    All the media is equally conflicted when it comes to manufacturing reality, facts and truth. Trump is their patron saint and their golden goose at the same time. The opening monologues on pretty much all talk shows are 90% about Trump or about the segments from the Fox News. It would not be at all in their interest to ignore or undermine him completely. Their revenues would drop precipitously if he disappeared. They would be lost without Trump. although they could probably find something to talk about, there would be nothing with such frequency, shock value or similar level of adrenaline.
    Given that layout of land, it is difficult not to be pessimistic about the future. In all likelihood, the current trend of reality manufacturing will evolve in a predictable direction until this course of things results in some kind of global disaster with massive collateral damages. This is unlikely to take shape of an event, but a slow moving process with accumulation of statistical evidence that would tip the scales (something like the evidence that smoking is harmful for our health). Only then will the system clear. The entire media conglomerate will be perceived as a source of systemic risk and will have to be regulated.

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    1. disperser

      Interesting answer. I want to clarify my reply before giving it; I’m not mad, angry, dismissive, or doing anything other than putting down and sharing my thoughts. If anything, I’m a bit frustrated by what I read and I’m doing something I try not to do; give an answer on the fly; a first impression, if you will. Here goes nothing . . .

      Consider, for one moment, that you might have a bias and said bias colors your view of the Fox audience and the Right in general. Consider also that the same bias might have you minimize and marginalize what are serious problems in the Left by labeling them mostly Centrists.

      Further, consider this; I can take your reply and swap the entities around and it can easily pass for something pundits for the Right might say (have said) about the Left and CNN and MSNBC et al., complete with the (paraphrasing) there is no true Right, only centrists.

      I’m not sure what circles you travel in but let me posit the following regarding your statement about the Fox News business model:

      “… monetize on the discontent of the excluded — the part of the society that fell through the cracks and has a difficulty reintegrating into the normal functioning of the society.”

      In my opinion, that’s a distorted view of both the Fox News audience and “the excluded”. For one, you conflate them as being the same. I would suggest “the excluded” are part of that audience but not even close to approaching a majority (although, if watching a Trump rally, you might think so).

      Side note: what is “normal functioning”? I’d be interested in a definition. Perhaps point to an example of what you consider a “normal functioning” society past or present.

      I now live in an area of the country where it’s not unusual to see MAGA hats and “Trump 2020” bumper stickers (interestingly, that was also the case in Hawaii despite the state consistently voting Democrat; perhaps I’m just lucky that way). I also overhear conversations (at the gym, stores, etc.) and none of these people are discontent or excluded (and, no, I’ll make no friends here, and that’s fine). They didn’t fall through any cracks. They drive nice cars, have nice homes, families and lives and interests that keep them engaged. They are not idiots, are diverse, and their motivations span a broader spectrum than what you seem to assume.

      Are they right? I don’t think so and my initial reaction is one of disdain . . . but I have nothing to engage them with because the argument isn’t with what they believe or want; the argument is with how they choose to go about achieving it. You and I might not choose Trump and they might not either, if given a better choice, but don’t assume any given Democrat (or the Left-supposed-Center) offers them a better choice just by virtue of not being Trump.

      Let me also say “the excluded” aren’t all that politically active; they have other issues to worry about. Yes, some support Trump . . . but they are just as likely to fall for the (different but the same) false promises from the other side. In fact, tell me it’s not the DNC’s whole current plan to cater to the “discontent of the excluded”. Different excluded, maybe, but the strategy is the same. The rhetoric is the same. The lies are the same.

      I won’t argue too much because we see the same things and interpret them differently and that goes to a whole other discussion. I will say you’re making the same assumption the media and many on the Left made in 2016; you assume demonizing the other side is a winning strategy. The plays right into Trump’s wheelhouse; he’s just better at it.

      By the way, your characterization of Fox News vis-à-vis the rest of the media is also making a huge assumption . . . that the media outlets before Fox News were largely impartial reporters of the way things were.

      Consider this: Fox News did something like what Trump did in the 2016 elections . . . they came onto the scene and spoke of things people could see with their own eyes and experience in their lives but that no one mentioned before. Sure, they are slimeballs, but that doesn’t mean everything they say is a lie. Biased, for sure . . . but then, who isn’t? It’s also worth noting that approach worked to draw in initial viewers because the other outlets were obviously skewed a different way. Whenever you leave a vacuum, someone will come in to fill it.

      But, again, this goes to interpretations, and it starts with assuming “the other side is much worse”. Amazing how I get that argument from both sides. No one wants to admit any weakness or fault of their own side. “Surely,” they say, “you can see how ‘they’ are much worse!”

      On individual issues, maybe that can be argued (depending on the issue) but overall? Sorry, no.

      In your characterization of the media, you seem to criticize and marginalize a large portion of the electorate; if you’re right, I agree there’s no hope because by definition there’s no helping the excluded and our changing world will just generate more “excluded” driven into a frenzy by the media . . . bad things happen when the excluded become the majority, regardless of their color or creed or social/political affiliation.

      If I might make a suggestion toward offering a ray of hope; there are no adversarial camps; think more in terms of one large melting pot of people with similar hopes and goals. That requires addressing points of contentions instead of just condemning what one doesn’t agree with. So far, neither political party thinks that’s a winning strategy and I suggest we shouldn’t reinforce that belief.

      Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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    1. notesfromdisgraceland Post author

      Just a partial reply re some concepts.

      1) I discussed the ideas related to the excess population and the exclusion in almost every other post. This, I believe, is the most acute problem the (developed) world is facing in general. Various ideologies and political parties have all addressed it in one way or another. it goes back to Jim Crow, ghettos, prisons opioids, populism, etc. Here is the description

      “One of the most extensive by-products of globalization is a surplus of humanity that is unwanted, inconvenient, and ultimately displaced. The volume of humans made redundant by capitalism’s global triumph grows unstoppably and comes close now to exceeding the managerial capacity of the planet; there is a plausible prospect of capitalist modernity choking on its own waste products which it can neither reassimilate or annihilate, nor detoxify.” (Z. Bauman)

      Think of coal miners in WV, for example. They have no other skills away from mining. But they are closing the coal mines left and right because this is an inefficient source of energy (technology!) and is environmentally unfriendly (regulations!). These people have no future and no prospect for improving their position. They are on the bench permanently. Probably facing extensive welfare support. they cannot be reintegrated into “normal functioning” where they can get a job, get a mortgage, their kids education, healthcare, retirement… and where their offspring will have a shot at a better future. Not dissimilar are other segments of white subproletariat in the rust belt where they have been closing the factories where white unskilled labor used to work and moved them to the countries where labor is much cheaper (globalization!). All these people are victims of decades of centrist policies.The problem is that no one wants to speak about them and their problems. But they exist and they are people too. They are entitled to being represented politically. However, if you are an unemployed coal miner, you become susceptible to all the ideas that conflict with your interests, so you buy into the narrative that climate change is a hoax, that coal is not a cause of pollution, or that foreigners are here to take your jobs, etc. — the whole package. This is where Fox and the right wing outlets come in with their irresistible reasonableness of nonsensical.

      2) There is no real left in America! What is considered as “radical left” by the existing political standards, is represented by Sanders and AOC, for example. This is not radical left, they are just asking for things that any civilized social democracy already has and which are for some perverse reason denied to the American people. They are the civilized center or slightly left of center.

      3) Corporations like media conglomerates are money making machines. they are meant to accumulate wealth for their shareholders. Unconditionally. This means, irrespective of costs and consequences. And they will exploit as much as they can because that is the only thing they are supposed to do. The questions of truth and ethics never enter the equation. They are never immoral, they are amoral.

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      1. disperser

        I think we are pretty much in step with many things.

        Where we diverge is in the belief that the Sanders and AOC are a) suggesting something viable, and b) understand the ramifications of what they advocate. You make them sound like moderates but what they propose is, to my eyes, drastic. Perhaps I’m wrong; perhaps I can’t understand how all this would work out.

        Take, for instance, immigration. AOC et al seem to purposefully conflate illegal immigration with immigration in general. So, let’s talk a moment about immigration . . . how does letting an unfiltered and unchecked stream of low-skill workers help the currently displaced and disenfranchised workers you reference in your writing? How does it help current low-wage workers? By the way, I’m an immigrant. And, when I was a business owner, we oversaw many H1-B visas and the subsequent path to a green card. I think immigration is crucial and beneficial, but not the way it’s being sold by the Left and Democrats.

        Of course, Republicans are hypocrites as well. They could end illegal immigration tomorrow if they wanted and do so without building a stupid wall.

        On the minimum wage, when AOC and others speak of a “living wage of $15/hour” (an arbitrary number that sounds good on paper) do they understand the ramifications of that suggestion? The implications and risks of doing so? The actual net value to workers? The cascade effect? We have some data now, and it’s not as clear as it’s being sold.

        I agree with the sentiment. We should provide better opportunities to working families. We should have a functioning ACA, but we don’t. I railed against the ACA when it was pushed through because I bothered to read the fine print and what it would mean to workers and middle-income families. I have relatives who were hurt by its passage. Understand, it helped me, but I didn’t need the help.

        So, yes, we should have better working conditions and pay and opportunities, we should help bolster the middle class, we should have a base health care system that provides a reasonable safety net . . . but we are a country approaching 400 million people. Again, perhaps I’m naive and uninformed, but it doesn’t seem realistic to compare the US with other civilized countries who don’t have a tenth the population and expect systems to work once scaled up. That goes for many things, not just education, health, and wages.

        The thing that bothers me is that it’s easy to criticize and promise stuff to get power. It’s another thing to act on it to the benefit of all. I mentioned I don’t know the answers and I don’t . . . but I do know something; I know that complicated problems don’t have easy solutions. Complicated problems require solutions that call for realistic measures and compromise and sometimes drastic measures that require across-the-board sacrifice. And, most importantly, a long-term vision.

        As for corporations . . . yes, they are the problem and all I have to say about that is that as long as politicians (on both sides of the aisle) crave money for reelection (what appears to be their main motivation for doing anything) nothing will change and corporations will do whatever they want with impunity to the detriment of the middle working class. Realizing that’s the cold truth of it makes this discussion of which is worse/better (DNC/Left or RNC/Right) a silly argument to offer up.

        In my opinion, real change can only come from an educated electorate with realistic expectations and a longer time horizon than the next two years. That’s unlikely to happen as long as media, pundits, political parties, and just about everyone works hard at demonizing one side or the other . . . and glossing over the shortcomings of their own preferred side.

        An educated electorate should be able to offer reasons why one side has a better idea than the other but at the same time be able to point out where those ideas fall short and need work instead of selling them as the be all to end all. Perhaps even adopt ideas from either side, not just champion one side over the other.

        I want it clear I’m not defending Republicans, the Right, Fox News, etc. If asked to give an opinion, I would say the majority are little more than wasted flesh. They have the additional baggage of being affiliated with religious fanatics.

        The difference is that I hold the same opinion about Democrats, the Left, and CNN (and the like). I only need to be lied to once to lose trust. I only need what little intelligence I have to be insulted once for it to make me jaded.

        Here, in these comments, I’m reacting to what appears as giving a pass to individuals and entities who seem to offer nothing more than a different side of the same coin.

        I see the DNC and the RNC as for-profit corporations, and their profit and currency consist of power (and, yes, money). I can’t buy into the idea they give a hoot about us other than as means to an end.

        Would you trust Facebook but not Google? Microsoft, but not Apple? Twitter but not Instagram? How do we even differentiate between those?

        Why would we trust either the DNC or the RNC to be more than what they’ve already shown us? The illusory choice of only one versus the other seems (to me) a trap that can only offer more grief and no answers for the foreseeable future.

        Oh, heck . . . I’m ranting. I really should stop both reading and commenting because it’s not a net positive in my life. Really, I shouldn’t care. I should just concentrate on living as best I can for the short time I have left.

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