Beware The Perception

Ronald Thomas West

Beware the Perception

A cautionary tale of the developmental psychology or first 70 years of the USA and resultant contemporary social psychology of the Americans; for my friends in Russia (Western reader short attention span warning, 7,000 words)

In my observations of Russia, I’ve noticed a consistent misapprehension of reality concerning the West. The West, particularly the USA, is a social phenomenon that largely defies self-understanding, let alone understanding from without, even by the titan observer Solzhenitsyn, who lived a number of years in Vermont.

To begin this analysis, we’ll note the USA’s ‘enlightenment’ founders were Deists, and James Madison’s animus to Christianity was not an animus towards a deity per se, but an animus towards political Christianity and the history of the several incarnations of western church meddling in the affairs of men and nations, pointing to a particular arrogance:

“Experience witnesses that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the…

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The birds, the bees, and Holden Caulfield

Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

In “Catcher in the Rye”, one sign of Holden Caulfield’s looming nervous breakdown is his worries over the ducks in Central Park:

The funny thing is, though, I was sort of thinking of something else while I shot the bull. I live in New York, and I was thinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Central Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozen over when I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go. I was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they just flew away.

The title of the novel stems from Holden’s misreading of Robert Burns’s “Comin’ Through the Rye”. He sees himself as protector of children playing in a huge rye field near a cliff. If…

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The productive human cannot love.

Cold and dark stars

Technocrats defend the current power structures in the West by the real or perceived imperatives of productivity and efficiency; they say that a society organized in a different way would limit capital growth and therefore cause more poverty and precarity. The Left is often accused of having visions that will lead to economic ruination and inefficient allocation of resources, for privatization and wage-labor ensures that the land, hospitals, and energy companies remain productive and efficient. The ruling class portrays history as driven by a linear development of technology and optimization- a straight line from the discovery of fire to the splitting of the atom.

Many twentieth century writers have disputed this naive conception of history. Most of human history was alien to the privatization of the Earth for the sake of growth and optimization. The glory of the warrior and fealty to the King organized the hierarchies and structures that…

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The War on Dissent (Part 2): The Spectre of Divisiveness

Consent Factory, Inc.

A spectre is haunting Western democracy — the spectre of “divisiveness.” After eight blessed years of peace and prosperity under the glorious reign of Obama the Benevolent, suddenly, we find ourselves besieged on all sides by Russian-sponsored sowers of “discord,” disseminators of “disinformation,” inculcators of “confusion” and “chaos,” and other enemies of our “democratic values.” These devilish instigators of “disunion” and “distrust” are determined to deceive us into doubting “the truth” by exposing us to “divisive ideas” and seducing us with their cynical skepticism into questioning the integrity of our political leaders, our intelligence agencies, and the corporate media, who would never, ever dream of lying to us … or so goes the new official narrative being rolled out by the corporatocracy.

It is utterly stupefying to watch as millions of Americans conform their beliefs and behavior to this official narrative like Inner Party Members in 1984. Apart from…

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The War on Dissent

Consent Factory, Inc.

Just when you thought the corporatocracy couldn’t possibly get more creepily Orwellian, the Twitter Corporation starts sending out emails advising that they “have reason to believe” we have “followed, retweeted,” or “liked the content of” an account “connected to a propaganda effort by a Russia government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency.” While it’s not as dramatic as the Thought Police watching you on your telescreen, or posters reminding you “Big Brother Is Watching,” the effect is more or less the same.

And if that’s not creepily Orwellian enough for you, Facebook has launched a Ministry of Counterspeech, manned by “a dedicated counterterrorism team” of “former intelligence and law-enforcement officials,” to “disrupt ideologies underlying extremism” (see Chris Hedges’ recent essay for details). The Google Corporation is systematically disappearing, deranking, and maliciously misrepresenting non-corporate news and opinion sources, and the “thought criminals” who contribute to…

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