Should I be silent?

I recently came back after a long silence. My first essay was the reason. The two that followed were the product of the sadness in me after seeing no change in people's attitudes after all that has happened. I come across as disrespectful when I don't respect things that are echoes of the same litany over and over again. I'm sorry for the effect that has had on some of you but I will not pretend to respect views I see as destructive. Right now it is very destructive to ignore the situation we are in.

You can ignore what I say as you have all along. I spent my life studying our situation and, as my book with Jim Coffman spells out in good academic clarity, I am very pessimistic. I am pessimistic because of the evidence. I am pessimistic because each new experiment in trying to make all this clear ends up with a large majority of those responding missing the point and ignoring the gravity of our situation.

So tell me if you can't handle my style or my message. I'll go back to playing chess on line. I'm pretty good.

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dance you monster's picture

A debate between some who look for some way to get elections to work even minimally for the 99%, because nothing else that's currently operative is working for them, and some who think opting out of voting in a rigged system is the solution but who also haven't offered any real pro-active alternatives for concrete action. You took that latter side from the start, and you garnered the pushback from those here who've been pushing back already against such arguments. Don't take it personally. Everyone is rather desperately looking for an effective path forward, and the options so far in this debate have been reduced (usually by one's opponents) into vote in a rigged system and expect to lose, or don't vote and just assume something better will happen out of that. Two options that for one reason or another suck.

There's no reason to avoid contributing your thoughts here. As long as you are respectful of those who may disagree, bringing more voices into the discussion brings more nuances to the thinking.

But please do offer something of an outline of what you see as a fruitful path forward. Not just don't vote, as that does nothing but cede the field to the 1%, who own it now. You say you're a pessimist, but pessimists seldom lead the people forward. If you hold to the don't-vote mantra, explain how that actually works for us, not just how it absolves us from thinking we're part of the problem. Folks here want to know what to do, not just what to avoid doing. They want to make a difference. Help them do that.

Just my $0.02.

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26 users have voted.
don mikulecky's picture

@dance you monster thanks. You are a bit off on a number of things. I entered the "debate" about elections in the 1960s and have read people like Helen Keller who told me about them. Part of what is frustrating is this so called debate has had better contributions for over a century. What does that say about what goes on here?

I came back to write a first of series of blogs on political philosophy and human social evolution. I have a lot to say about these topics because of my research.

I wrote a warning in that first essay that the mention of elections would receive my disdain. So it goes.

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An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the time. It stands or it falls on its own merits.

dance you monster's picture

@don mikulecky

. . . I am not saying you were born yesterday and only looked at the political world this morning. I meant you re-emerged on this particular board after a hiatus that you mentioned yourself.

As for elections, you can't come to a political (albeit nonpartisan) board and discuss Trump as if he's simply a natural phenomenon that would inevitably materialize out of the ether into the Oval Office. There are steps to getting into that office, usually involving elections, and not just his. You can't speak of "Bernie's betrayal" without discussing elections, where he was betrayed. So when you say you'll disregard any talk of elections, you are being disingenuous, because you wrote of them yourself. So what are you actually driving at?

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13 users have voted.
don mikulecky's picture

@dance you monster Try reading what I wrote after you get over your self righteous "you can't..." attitude I think it is pretty clear.

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1 user has voted.

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dance you monster's picture

@don mikulecky

I did read what you wrote, repeatedly, looking for anything cogent in it. I wanted to find something of merit in it.

You appear to misunderstand evolution, citing only one of its outcomes, a narrowing of possibilities for one line of succession, and not all the widening others. Or maybe you understand the other side but just aren't interested in it.

Yeah, the question of whether elections are of any use is an old one. And you seem perturbed that a younger generation than Debs's feels the need to review that question. Does this mean we as a society repeat ourselves? Yup.

You offer no alternatives to that discussion endlessly repeated, asking others to do that for you. Oh, and to grow up. So who's self-righteous?

You say you won't consider any discussion of elections, but you bring up political candidates in your essays, so it's apparently okay for you, but for no one else, to make those connections. Got it.

The essays are disjoint and to all appearances aimless. But as I said elsewhere, pessimists don't lead. You have no conclusion (yet, at least) but that this is an old discussion. And elections don't work. What deep insight did I self-righteously miss?

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4 users have voted.
don mikulecky's picture

@dance you monster Go to our book for a more complete understanding of evolution which evolutionary scientists have given high praise. Thanks for your opinion wrong as it is.

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snoopydawg's picture

@don mikulecky

I have no problem voting no on whether you should keep writing here. You are rude and condescending to everyone who you don't like their opinion or answer. You have been told more than once that the only rule on this site is don't be a dick. Do you understand what that means?

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don mikulecky's picture

@snoopydawg yes thanks for the demonstration...I will try to avoid being like you

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CS in AZ's picture

@dance you monster

is not accurate, at least from my point of view as one of the mostly now silent former participants in that debate. But I’ll bite and go ahead and elaborate on a few of these points.

some who think opting out of voting in a rigged system is the solution

No one (that I’ve seen) has made the argument that not voting is the “solution” to anything.

What has been pointed out, many times, is that voting is Not a solution. Because, evidence: It. Does. Not. Work.

If the lessons of 2016 were not enough, if the hope n change from electoral victory in 2008 being a mirage isn’t enough, I don’t know what it would take. But there have even been legitimate scientific analyses done that show conclusively that the US government does not respond to what voters want; the government is owned and run by plutocrats. Voting for a certain politician or party will not change that. This is a fact.

So, those who insist on electoral politics as “the solution” and

look for some way to get elections to work even minimally for the 99%, because nothing else that's currently operative is working for them,

are actually the ones who need to explain why they continue to advocate a “solution” that we all KNOW is fake and designed not to work for effecting change.

It’s not “working for them” in any way except enabling them to maintain an illusion of power and image they are having a say.

It’s also not true that no one has offered any other ideas. Some have advocated a boycott, which is an active protest, not just sitting out. A boycott of the democrat-republican duopoly may not be workable or realistic to achieve, but that doesn’t mean no one suggested anything. Other ideas have been discussed as well: we have some people calling for “general strikes” or work stoppages, or for massive consumer boycotts of capitalist giants like amazon. Those are not going to happen either, but they are still ideas that have been discussed.

The default position seems to be that ultimately nothing will work, short of complete societal breakdown via a true revolution, or a nuclear war, or an environmental disaster. And no one (well, not too many people anyway) actually wants any of those radical changes.

So the thinking seems to be, the only thing to do is keep on doing the same thing... following the same rut of political team sports, with playoffs elections held every two years, root for your team, wear the team colors, and hope against all reason this will produce a solution. Even though we know that won’t happen.

But it allows the team followers to feel like they are acting, and superior — “at least I’m “doing something” — “I haven’t given up (like you lazy quitters)”.

For many of us who have decided to stop playing that game, we know it’s not a “solution” nor do we claim it is. What we see is people walking in circles, being led by the nose and propaganda, to keep doing something ineffective just because it makes them feel better.

Someone here (I forget who) said recently that voting is a ritual and an act of faith. Very much like attending church. I agree with that view. That is what it is. And if it “works” to make them feel better, much like attending church does for some, then whatever, they can do what they like obviously.

The bothersome part is the pressure to conform. These people who believe in politics are evangelical. They are pushing it on all of us. We have literally been called evil for not voting for Hillary to stop Trump. We are blamed for the insane reality created by politicians that we don’t support in any way. We are not allowed to simply live according to our own values, without being subjected to constant bombardment and pressure and judgment for not being on the team.

There’s no grand solution to the political and environmental maze we wander in. So vote your heart out if it makes you feel better. Give your time and energy and money to democrats if you truly believe they are the solution. Or send it to a mega-church and pray for divine intervention. Same difference. But either way, I’m not going to be participating in those “solutions” that I know are nothing but con games.

Yes, there’s an urge to try to stop others from being taken like that. It’s the part of me that would also like to tell my elderly neighbor that sending her checks to that mega-church is a waste of her money. But clearly such advice is not appreciated. If I did and she demanded “well then, what’s your solution? If god won’t answer my prayers, how do you suggest I get magic money?” ... well, no, sorry but I can’t help you there. I could still point out the church is running a con game, but if you won’t hear that unless it is accompanied by a different magic solution, then just carry on.

I can (painfully) live with that. But what I won’t abide is knocking on my door, or calling my phone, or texting me, or filling my mailbox and my eyes and ears everywhere with incessant pressure to join that phony church. I won’t be told that my lack of playing along with your beliefs is to blame for why god (or democrats) aren’t coming through for you.

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dance you monster's picture

@CS in AZ

. . . that my comment, written in haste between other tasks, was oversimplified. Mostly because that contrast of the positions was not really the point of the comment, just its context and the context into which Don M had dropped his first essay in many months -- which was the point of the comment: Don was not taking the context of his readers into account and seems unhappy that the response was not what he anticipated.

To address your comment, though, I first would thank you for the fuller presentation, and then over time I'd love to see someone delve deeper into the organizing of any of those alternatives to voting that you cited. There does not seem to be the energy expended into those that there is into the voting on the pro-voters' side.

And before anyone mischaracterizes my position in all this, I stated that stance long ago in a Resilience essay just days after Trump was elected. That is what my tasks today are that I am taking a break from to read here.

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12 users have voted.
CS in AZ's picture

@dance you monster

I agree that trying to inform Don about the recent debates here around this subject was a good idea, as he did seem surprised it was such a mine field. I also wanted to try to add some clarity to that effort, and address some of the key points that are frequently misrepresented about the “two sides” on this issue.

This is actually another key point, in my view:

I'd love to see someone delve deeper into the organizing of any of those alternatives to voting that you cited. There does not seem to be the energy expended into those that there is into the voting on the pro-voters' side.

.

Exactly. The fact is, the mind boggling amount of energy (e.g., time, emotional investment, and massive amounts of money) that is channeled into electoral politics is why we have this massive pressure to conform coming at us from every direction. That is the reason no other options even get discussed, much less “organized” or seriously considered.

One argument often made is that “they” don’t want us to vote. That is obviously absurd, when you stop for just one minute to think about the hundreds of millions of dollars expended on getting people to vote and the myriad ways they manipulate us and exert so much pressure on everyone to participate in this sport. Politics is a massive corporate business! That’s why it sucks up all the energy. That is actually one of its main purposes.

As long as we keep looking to electoral politics as the only option, there’s no room for anything else to sprout, much less to grow onto a real movement. That is exactly how “they” want it.

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lotlizard's picture

@CS in AZ  
The idea is that by participating in the ritual, on a subconscious psychological level you are implicitly endorsing the system and the claims it makes for itself.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@lotlizard

And, of course, this is not an original notion. it is the bedrock of social engineering. The tactic has been explored up one side and down the other over the centuries. The idea never gets old because it always, always works.

To wit:

“What better way to enslave a man than to give the vote and tell him he's free.”
—Albert Camus

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7 users have voted.

If it is a monopoly, then it IS your government.

don mikulecky's picture

@CS in AZ I was not surprised about the nature of the so called "debate". I was surprised that you are still repeating the same old stuff over and over again at this point in time.

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dkmich's picture

Of course I/we want your voice heard and here. You can disrespect things all you want. Just please don’t disrespect people who do things you don’t respect. I am sympathetic to how hard that is particularly when it starts to sound like an unending broken record. I want to smack the crap out of Trump trolls and Hillbamabots. It makes it very hard for me to be civil or respectful to them. I know the frustration you feel.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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don mikulecky's picture

@dkmich I don't respect many people. Trump and his followers for example. I don't respect people who offer worn out arguments without doing a lick of research. I don't respect anyone willing to bring us further along the path to extinction we are on.

Respect is something you earn.

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An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the time. It stands or it falls on its own merits.

dkmich's picture

@don mikulecky

I hold Trump trolls and Hillbamabots personally responsible for all that is currently wrong with my world.

Is respect earned or entitled? I’m torn. How about health care, food, an education? Who decides? When do we become what we don’t respect?

The sheep were left at dailykos. The people here are basically kindred spirits with an exception here or there. C99 only has one rule. Don’t be a dick. I think we owe each other the benefit of a doubt. If not, how does it make us different from the thugs and bullies at DailyKos?

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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Raggedy Ann's picture

@dkmich
To me, respect is earned. I’ve known and worked for people who have never earned my respect.

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4 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

dkmich's picture

@Raggedy Ann

Maybe it is just plain ol' civility and good manners I'm talking about. I know of ton of people who I don't respect, but I still feel an obligation to be civil.

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7 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

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don mikulecky's picture

@dkmich how do you decide that? Would you be civil to Hitler? Trump?

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0 users have voted.

An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the time. It stands or it falls on its own merits.

@don mikulecky get slapped for this, but we have no Hitlers or Trumps here on this site. We just try to keep it civil is all, and I guess by civil I mean assuming there are good intentions on this site. I am here to learn and I don't learn anything from snide remarks unless they're directed at those who really deserve them.

You can be intimidating and I am personally very hesitant to even comment. But saying that being civil here on this site would in any way equate to being civil to Hitler or Trump seems very uncalled for. IMHO.

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dkmich's picture

@lizzyh7

Don's question is an academic exercise. Your response is pragmatic and common sense.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

lotlizard's picture

@don mikulecky  
even if one believes what has been happening for decades borders on genocide and/or apartheid?

Or the other way around, if one supports Israel, should one hound supporters of BDS one comes in contact with, denouncing them to their faces as anti-Semites and Nazis?

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7 users have voted.
dkmich's picture

@lotlizard

No matter how wrong, harmful, ignorant or of evil intent I believe someone to be, do I have a right to judge, jury, and executioner? The answer is it depends. As long as voting is legal and private, I guess who they support and the politics they support is up to them. Yet, their actions impact me and destroy the future I want for me, mine, and yours. How can I not feel anger and resent that?

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5 users have voted.

"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

*donate to c99 *like us on Facebook *follow us on Twitter

@don mikulecky
respect is by agreeing with you (preferably, though not necessarily, after wandering off somewhere to plow through your extensive published work).

Well, back in the day I posted 10,000 (precisely) comments over on dailyKos, and a dozen or so diaries. Feel free to go read them, then come back and agree to agree with me. I'm sure we'll get along just fine after that.

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5 users have voted.

Sigh

don mikulecky's picture

@UntimelyRippd some of the people I respect most are those who disagreed with me and I learned from them

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2 users have voted.

An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the time. It stands or it falls on its own merits.

you feel you gotta do. Thanks to eyo, I went back and tried to read some of your work(and references) and came away from that effort feeling like I usually do when reading treatises from academe-more lost than when I entered.
Not just your work, it's the issue I have with All academe writings-they are Not written for the layman//non-grad type. Yet we get bitched at for Not Seeing/Knowing what you do. I'm Expected to understand what eggheads are discussing when they reference six different authors fifteen books over the previous twenty years-W.T.F. Really?
As to All the diagnosis/analysis of what is wrong with the System and what we need to do to change it-Bullshit.
You're Right to be pessimistic. I console myself(sometimes) with the fact that, what? 99% of All the species that ever lived Went Extinct.
I believe Humans are the only species that ever Volunteered to do so.
THAT'S Exceptionalism!

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18 users have voted.

Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly

Not just your work, it's the issue I have with All academe writings-they are Not written for the layman//non-grad type. Yet we get bitched at for Not Seeing/Knowing what you do. I'm Expected to understand what eggheads are discussing when they reference six different authors fifteen books over the previous twenty years-W.T.F. Really?

Sauce that with the insistence of academic writers to use far more complex mathematics than is actually required to get the ideas across, and you've got what I've spent decades of my life complaining about! Although advanced calculus is sometimes required for the journey, very seldom is anything beyond high school algebra required to describe the end result.

It's all an academic game of keep-away.

Diablo

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11 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

don mikulecky's picture

@Tall Bald and Ugly not everything I have written is for my academic colleagues. The book with Jim Coffman is on topic and written at a number of levels. We had to please our academic critics while speaking out to everyone. My hundreds of blogs are not for academics. I do have good credentials and I write with confidence that I will get good feedback from people who understand. I have been publishing for over half a century and rely on honest critics To help me grow. I am still learning. My complaints here stem from the sparse opportunities to learn.

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5 users have voted.

An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the time. It stands or it falls on its own merits.

@don mikulecky we view this site differently. It's a Very rare day when I come here and Don't learn something, or see something in a different light. Does that make me a dumbshit? Most likely. And I'm okay with that.
See, when I was younger, i Did know it all. Then, I started to smarten the fuck up and realized I'm Never Going To Know It All.
"Specialization is knowing more and more about less and less, until you know everything about nothing at all."
Wish I knew who wrote that(giggle is Not your friend). Probably some anti-education asshole(which I'm not[anti-education, that is]). My interests are varied, and I'm pretty good at what I do,but I ain't Great at it. Competent, absolutely. Craftsman-like most of the time. Flirting with Master Craftsman on a fairly regular basis even. But. I'll never know Half of it. And I'm okay with that, too.
It's also a rare day when I meet someone(anyone) that I Can't Learn Something From. Now, does That make me a dumbshit?
Maybe you've done it before; drop some links to the pertinent writings you're talking about(more accessible ones, that is) and I'll go look and try to understand what you've spent fifty years doing. It won't happen overnight obviously, but I will try.

peace

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9 users have voted.

Ya got to be a Spirit, cain't be no Ghost. . .

Creosote.'s picture

@don mikulecky

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EdMass's picture

I read here every day.

I am mystified by this note as well as those from JtC once and awhile.

I have learned much from your thoughts and posting for years.

As said, you're opinions and thoughts don't bother me and I don't get offended if they do. I look forward to your continuing contributions - regularly.

We all have feelings. Here's a little Andy Williams to make it all better.

Just trying to lighten it up so we can get back to being friends don't y'a know.

Heh!

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12 users have voted.

"I'd love to change the world
But I don't know what to do
So I'll leave it up to you"

Alvin Lee - Ten Years After

Stop the War!

gulfgal98's picture

as others of us here. Your background is in academia with years of study and upper level degrees. I do not claim to be particularly smart, but I do have some experience. My background is simply a bachelor's degree from a public institution and over 30 years of experience in government at the local level. Just as your views are shaped by your studies, my views have been shaped by seeing how the system worked by working within that system. Yes, local government is not the same as the state or national levels, but surprisingly, there are many more parallels than most people looking in from the outside would ever see.

Even if we come from different perspectives and backgrounds, we should be able to try to understand the rationale of thinking of those who do not think as we do. Communication is a two way street. It involves both listening and trying to understand as well as speaking. This is the single most valuable lesson I learned from 4 and a half years with a weekly Peace vigil in a small Southern town.

As for the issue of voting or not voting, I have been very clear and vocal about where I stand. First on voting. I will only vote for someone who reflects the majority of my beliefs. There are certain disqualifiers for any candidate, the first of which is war and regime change. There are many others too, but that is my number one disqualifier. Still some local offices are worth the participation in elections by voting.

Regardless, I also believe that voting will not translate into actions that reflect the will of the people, particularly the higher the office. Politicians are the guardians of the status quo at best and the foot soldiers for the oligarchy at worst, which is the majority of our national politicians, both elected and appointed.

Real change comes from the bottom up in the form of social movements. And social movements take time to gain a critical mass before becoming too big to ignore. And still most will be ignored because of the influence of money (legalized bribery) in our system at all levels. I have tried to make a small amount of activism (Occupy & Peace vigil) as a part of my own life even if it fails. At least I have tried and perhaps have educated a few people along the way.

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24 users have voted.

"I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~Dr. Cornel West

"There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare." Sun Tzu

thanatokephaloides's picture

@gulfgal98

Real change comes from the bottom up in the form of social movements. And social movements take time to gain a critical mass before becoming too big to ignore. And still most will be ignored because of the influence of money (legalized bribery) in our system at all levels. I have tried to make a small amount of activism (Occupy & Peace vigil) as a part of my own life even if it fails. At least I have tried and perhaps have educated a few people along the way.

As the sole famous sentence I have ever posted here says, "the little things you can do are more valuable than the giant things you can't!" (h/t Wink)

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9 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

edg's picture

Maybe JtC should change the site color scheme from blue to orange.

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4 users have voted.
thanatokephaloides's picture

@edg Occasional pie fights are the price of freedom under honesty, which is our culture here and very much not there. So changing the color scheme would be quite inappropriate at the very least.

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8 users have voted.

"I say enough! If Israel wants to be the only superpower in the Middle East then they can put their own asses on the line and do it themselves. I want to continue to eat."
-- snoopydawg

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6 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Right now it is very destructive to ignore the situation we are in.
You can ignore what I say as you have all along.

We have been having numerous discussions about how we can change what has been happening for quite some time and know that Trump is just another symptom of a long festering disease that has affected the country. Trump may be escalating things, but he isn't doing anything that other presidents before him haven't done.

Secondly I don't think it's fair of you to expect us to know what you have written in the past and what your views are on certain topics. This is why I asked you what your ideas were which wasn't an outrageous question. You could have replied by reiterating what you have expressed before instead of attacking me personally.

Thirdly if you are going to ask people what they think should happen to change things then when they tell you their ideas you don't get to belittle them for their ideas or opinions. People are entitled to think and believe what they want here. If you disagree then open a dialogue with them instead of insulting them.

Respect is something you earn.
This goes both ways, Don.

If you can respect the members of the site then I'm all for you to continue to writing here. If not then I vote no.

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22 users have voted.

Don't be silent. Thank you for your lack of silence.

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3 users have voted.

dfarrah

Big Al's picture

other than comments, I think it's a matter of how much frustration you can take and whether it's worth it. Cuz it ain't gonna change as you have pointed out.

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don mikulecky's picture

Try reading what I wrote after you get over your self righteous "you can't..." attitude I think it is pretty clear.

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0 users have voted.

An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the time. It stands or it falls on its own merits.

But only if that's how you hope to be treated by people who disagree with you.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: You are NOT smarter than I am. Make your case, if you can, but if I disagree with you, the Bayseian prior on me being wrong and you being right is low, and you might keep that in mind before getting snippy and condescending. I don't tolerate that, not from anyone -- not even people who are smarter than I am.

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6 users have voted.

Sigh

Pluto's Republic's picture

@UntimelyRippd

...on Count Bayesie's website and I thought to myself, "This is something that will never come up in conversation." What are the odds?

One of the most memorable errors in statistical analysis is a scene from The Empire Strikes Back! Han Solo, attempting to evade enemy fighters, flies the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid field. The ever knowledgeable C3PO informs Solo that probability is not on his side:

C3PO: Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1!

Han: Never tell me the odds!

How did he pull it off?

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4 users have voted.

If it is a monopoly, then it IS your government.

@Pluto's Republic
of successfully navigating the asteroid field.

reminds me of the star trek episode where spock informs the court that the enterprise is equipped with a technology that allows them to amplify the sound from anywhere on the ship by a factor "one to [some large number, maybe 100?]" kinda like jethro bodine doing his ciphering. nought times nought is nought. one times nought is nought. one times one times one times one blah blah times one is one.

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1 user has voted.

Sigh