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[Xmca-l] Re: fact and fake

Andy and Alfredo:

I'm in the USA right now, my first visit in three years. I don't want to
understate the depth of the ideological changes: there has clearly been a
remarkable coarsening and vulgarization of the national discussion, and
there is undoubtedly a normalization of racism well underway. But when we
speak of the new regime as a significant source of material, real suffering
for working people, I can't think of any assault on the livelihood of
workers that wasn't first pioneered by the "pragmatic progressives" of the
previous administration. In other words, at least so far, the changes seem
more at the level of faith, and the facts point to continuity. (People who
actually live here should correct me if I am wrong.)

Take for example the two issues Andy raises. First of all, "Last Night in
Sweden" appears to simply be another instance of the president's watching
late night television and confusing a report on crime in Sweden with an
actual terror attack occurring in real time. When you look at the
transcript of what he says, it is quite possible that the confusion is not
in his mind but only in his language: he actually MEANT to say "if you look
at the what WAS happening in the report I watched last night in Sweden" and
the syntax was too much for him. This is the kind of poor language that
happens all the time in everyday discourse, including that of the head of
state; it's just that thanks to a combination of poor impulse control and
new technology, we now get all this confused and confusing language in an
unedited form. This is a semiotic change indeed, but it's not a material
one in the sense that nobody has yet died over it, either in Sweden or in
the USA.

Secondly, Obamacare seem to be as far as ever from being repealed; there is
a basic contradiction between the ideological commitment of the government
to ensuring the speedy death of those who cannot afford treatment and
stability in the insurance markets. The latter is still very much
predominant, just as it predominated over the (weak) ideological commitment
of the previous regime to expanding health care to include everyone. What
the current head of state actually SAYS about health care has, at times,
gone well beyond that weak commitment: "GREAT healthcare for EVERYBODY".
For a while, Republicans in the Senate were trying to interpret that
statement as "potential access" to everybody who can pay for it, but this
was dropped when the insurance markets responded negatively.

I think that this basic factual continuity combined with constant breaches
of faith is the source of the tension and excitement that Alfredo mentions.
The previous regime liked to speak of being workmanlike and practical, with
an emphasis on getting things done, and if anything the regime was actually
rather proud of its inability to communicate the wonky facts of their
supposed accomplishments to working people. The argument was that good
policy would eventually make for good politics, and if it didn't, then it
was better to have the former than the latter. But the argument for human
equality is an argument of good faith, except in the trivial sense that we
all have more or less the same physiological hardware: the argument for
human equality must now be made on emotional grounds and not in the
language of "facts".

Precisely because the Obama regime was, at bottom, so right wing,
opposition to Obama was increasingly focused on the "fact" of his race
alone. And precisely because the current regime is so outspokenly white and
at the same time so amateurish, incompetent and utterly incoherent, it is
able to convey the bankruptcy of white supremacy to white people in direct,
emotionally accessible ways that were impossible for Obama. This is not
progress towards a de facto equality, but it seems to me to be the
harbinger of a giant leap of faith.

No matter lies, and all lies matter.

David Kellogg
Macquarie University


On Tue, Feb 21, 2017 at 12:16 PM, Alfredo Jornet Gil <a.j.gil@iped.uio.no>

> Totally relevant, Andy. As you say, it's so interesting to follow how
> issues of faith and truth will be unfolding and changing in all sectors of
> society. This has been going on for quite long time, I think, not only
> about Trump but more generally with regard to socioscientific issues such
> as climate change. But, perhaps fortunately, it seems this is turning into
> crisis (and hence change), with those same features becoming more
> exacerbated. It's scary and exciting at the same time.
> I've been (as many of you) following the multiple testimonies and analyses
> that are emerging in the media, intended and unintended, lots of
> working-over in the form of analysis. It's amazing how much material for
> analysis and how many actual analyses are being produced. Is as if as
> history was shaking, so too was consciousness shaking, producing more and
> more.
> Alfredo
> ________________________________________
> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu <xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu>
> on behalf of Andy Blunden <ablunden@mira.net>
> Sent: 21 February 2017 02:43
> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
> Subject: [Xmca-l]  fact and fake
> The Washington Post has a series of interviews with people
> attending Trump's rally where they were the first to learn
> of the Swedish terrorist attack in Trump's imagination,
> planted there by FOX News. The faith of these Trump
> loyalists seems unshakeable, though the resignation of Flynn
> was causing a little difficulty, but I wouldn't put it more
> strongly. It was still the fault of the "mainstream media".
> Is there no point beyond which Trump can step where fact and
> fake can be distinguished from trust and favour? In the
> discussion we had around his Inauguration Day speech I
> suggested it would be people getting ill and discovering
> that they had lost the coverage they had under ObamaCare.
> I would be interested in hearing early anecdotes of people
> who are Trumpistas up till now but who change their mind and
> what it is which does the trick. It seems almost like we
> have to discover a hole in political space-time to escape
> this black hole!
> Andy
> --
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> Andy Blunden
> http://home.mira.net/~andy
> http://www.brill.com/products/book/origins-collective-decision-making