There used to be a term thrown around, often at Latin American countries, with the typically American oh-that-will-never-be-us mentality. The term is “banana republic.” It was a term used for unstable countries with rigged elections, widespread political corruption, a militarized police force, terrible infrastructure, unfair and arbitrary application of laws, and daily propaganda reinforcing a dictatorial police state. It involves the celebration of snitch culture and deadly retribution for political crimes. In a banana republic, heads of state and advocates of social change are frequently assassinated, and those murders covered up or blamed on anarchists.
In the past, Americans would have tuned in to the sight of burning cars and people being teargassed and felt comforted knowing that those images were being beamed in from Somewhere Else.
That’s not the case anymore, and it hasn’t been for a couple of generations now. It’s only getting worse. That pejorative (and ultimately racist) term “banana republic” fits the U.S. quite well these days. It turns out the problems of those troubled Latin American countries wasn’t their lack of Founding Fathers but rather outside intervention from the Founding Sons – as Michael Parenti has said so aptly, Third World countries aren’t underdeveloped, they’re overexploited. And it’s perhaps only natural that the high priests of monopoly capitalism would eventually take aim at their own populations. Driven by ideologues birthed from the University of Chicago, the globalists have largely won. They have, like the Demiurge, remade the world in their own image.
However, it is a Pyrrhic victory at best, and in fact it looks to me like Samson pulling down the temple around their heads. This may seem a fairly obvious point, but the tiny percentage of human beings who actually have a voice in our policies seem to not have grasped it. They’ve destroyed the middle class and declared war on people of color, relying on blue centurions to defend their property. And when their police murder someone, they can do so secure in the knowledge they will withdraw unpunished.
How can this strategy work? Is there no single voice of reason in these meetings, in these corporate offices, suggesting that continuing down this road can only lead to revolution? That relying on a psychotic quasi-army will only work for so long before a revolt occurs? Do they really think they can maintain the current absurd levels of inequity?
Or, borrowing from Langston Hughes, what does happen to that raisin in the sun?
Monopoly capitalism was never going to be a viable long-term solution for human social existence. A child can see it – resources aren’t infinite. There’s only one planet. The idea that technology and innovation will provide for the future indefinitely, given finite resources, can only be a mass delusion.
However, in addition to the murder of Michael Brown, and the predictable subsequent injustice in the handling of his case, we have also had Bill Cosby much in the news of late. It’s a suitable metaphor. The Cosby Show was the first popular television program to concern itself with an upper-middle class black family of professionals. It was the most popular show on TV for many of the Reagan years. It was a signpost of a kind as well – Pryor had asked which way was up, the Jeffersons had been movin’ on up, and now the Huxtables had finally gotten there. Life was good.
Except it all turned out not to be true. The Reagan years were the beginning of the annihilation of the middle class, and the removal of opportunities for many people of color, and worsening of the oppressive poverty that remains to this day. At the same time, as we have all discovered, Cosby himself did not live up to the symbol he presented in his personal life. In other words, we were sold an illusion. The final teardown of that illusion will require a mass movement of perpetual resistance. I think it’s coming.
OFFICER DARREN WILSON'S DESCRIPTION OF SHOOTING MICHAEL BROWN:
Just like the Jimi Hendrix tune, it's the 51st anniversary...not of an extinguishing love affair but of the assassination of John Kennedy. I will be at the grassy knoll for the Moment of Silence on 11/22/2014 at 12:30PM. That is not unusual. What is unusual is that normally I would be accompanying John Judge as part of the annual COPA conference, but now there is no conference and there is no John Judge. So it’s always been a reflective moment – John, pausing to honor John Kennedy, and also Penn Jones, his mentor – and so it will be for me, pausing to honor John Kennedy, and Penn Jones, and now John Judge as well. Unlike JJ, I won’t be giving any speeches.
There are some idiots to deal with up there as well, but I expect that meeting to be perfunctory. Life goes on, alliances crumble and form, and the work continues. It won't be the same without John. I’m sure it will be strange and somber. But I’ll be there.
Excerpted from From Modernism to Post-Modernism by Joseph E. Green (unpublished manuscript c. 1998)
...Hume destroys Empiricism entirely. The truth is, he says, we have no way of finding out what substance is. In fact, all of our most cherished beliefs are based on the past. For example, why do we believe the sun will come up tomorrow? Because that's what it always does. However, the sun can 'rise' every day for a billion years, and this provides no evidence that it will tomorrow - unless the universe is assumed to be internally consistent. That is, the future will be like the past. However, this point must be taken on faith; no evidence could ever brought to support this position without using circular reasoning. The end result is that the whole of reality has no rational foundation whatsoever.
The dialogue form was a favorite of Hume, and that might prove helpful in presenting his point. In my chosen example, he has run into Oscar Wilde in a temporally dubious dinner party.
WILDE: Good evening, sir. It has been reported to me that you disbelieve in cause, for which unwilling fathers should rejoice to hear.
HUME: How wonderful to meet you. Yes, it's true. I illustrate it thus: imagine a game of billiard. When the white ball strikes the eight ball, what does one see? Motion, a sound, then further motion, but never cause. We see constant conjunction - one ball 'strikes' another, apparently changing its direction - but we can never observe cause. We infer it.
WILDE: I never play billiard. It seems to be a veritable obsession among charming people, and there is nothing quite so loathsome as charming people.
HUME: It is merely an example. The point is that constant conjunction does not imply fixed regularity. The fact that two objects may exhibit movement when in close proximity with one another at a certain point of time does not guarantee that they will continue to do so.
WILDE: Ah yes. One need only view my romantic entanglements for illustration.
HUME: Quite. Mr. Wilde, that the universe is orderly can be but a convenient mode of thought; indeed, it is thoroughly undemonstrable. One can only make the circular argument: why will this chair continue to exist? Because it always has previously. And so on, with all experiences. I am afraid that all we believe is sophistry and illusion.
WILDE: (wistful) And isn't it lucky for me that it is so. For without sophistry I should never have what I desire, and without illusion they should never enjoy it.
HUME: Ahem. Yes. Pardon me, I do hearken the call of cucumber sandwiches.
There is a real-life example in favor of Hume. It used to be that one of the standard examples of an absolutely true proposition, appearing in philosophy books, was "All swans are white." It doesn't appear anymore because black swans were discovered in Australia. No matter how many instances we have of a particular event, it will never be illogical to think that something else might happen.
Now as a practical matter, rational science continues on and we do not consign all to the flames, as Hume himself suggested. We still have to make our way in this universe, and empiricism remains our best tool to obtain knowledge. However, the recognition that we cannot, in the last analysis, rationally justify our tool should teach us to be careful about our declarations. We do the best we can with what we have, but we might be wrong. In fact the odds are, we are.
This is Joe Green's blog.