The culture of deception exists all around us. For Christopher Hedges, “the culture of illusion is the culture of death.” Is the U.S. such a place? In the supposed “land of the free” how often in the culture does one speak freely, let alone speaking so that “the truth” thunders mightily? The censor is always around. We are all socialized, consciously and unconsciously, in the techniques of self-repression, conformity and self-censorship in order to survive, especially on the job. And one’s job is life itself. “Telling the truth” there about oppression is risky in circumstances where the powerful can injure or silence you. In an inverted totalitarian age where corporations control the culture’s agenda and citizen passivity is deftly enforced, workers know that they must keep quiet on the job since going against the hierarchy and telling the truth about corruption, inequality, labor conditions, occupational and environmental hazards and class exploitation can get one demoted, fired or worse. Outside of work one loses the ability to tell the truth publicly as well, since one’s place of employment is always potentially watching, especially in cyberspace. Even journalists, teachers and activists are at risk. Telling the truth frankly about capitalism and government secrets can have serious consequences as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and alleged leaker Army Specialist Bradley Manning know well. But there are several avenues to let the truth be known outside of a direct challenge to authority. In anthropology these are known as the “weapons of the weak.” One of the most profound of these weapons is art.
This is more or less the official ideology of the political and corporate and financial establishments, shared by centrist New Democrats as well as by most Republican conservatives in their practice as opposed to their preaching. Shared by Barack Obama and Bill Clinton with George W. Bush, neoliberal globalism combines moderate conservatism in economics with the idea of beneficial U.S. global military hegemony.
In the minds of Democratic and Republican neoliberals, their orthodoxy was validated by three events in the early 1990s: the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic crisis of Japan and the Gulf War of 1990-91. The collapse of the Soviet Union was interpreted to mean the superiority of capitalism to socialism. The prolonged stagnation of the Japanese economy was interpreted to be, not an omen of similar bubble economies in the U.S. and elsewhere, but rather proof of the superiority of the Anglo-American version of capitalism to more statist kinds of capitalism in East Asia and Europe. The swift victory of the U.S. in the Iraq War, at a relatively low cost in American lives, was interpreted to mean that the Cold War had been succeeded by “unipolarity,” in which the U.S. could maintain unquestioned military dominance at low cost on the basis of its gee-whiz military technology. This premise led to the mistaken assumption that technology would permit the Iraq and Afghan wars to be as quick and cheap as the Gulf War had been.
Neoliberals continue to believe that at home governments should provide basic public goods like infrastructure, healthcare and security by “market-friendly” methods, which in practice means vouchers, tax incentives or government contracts for for-profit corporations. Because trade by definition is supposed to be a force for progress, neoliberals see little role for government in trade beyond promoting trade liberalization, providing a business-friendly infrastructure and educating citizens to equip them to compete in the supposed global labor market of tomorrow (in reality, most Americans now and in the future will work in the nontraded domestic service sector, immune to direct competition with foreign workers).”
“Liverpool have always been a club with a mentality, an identity, that I like. They are a club trabajador [humble, hard working, people’s club]. They are a team that maybe doesn’t have as many stars as other clubs but it has traditionally been as successful, or more so, because of the…
“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”—Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/058.html
Longer words tend to carry more information, according to research by a team of cognitive scientists. It’s a suggestion that might sound intuitively obvious, until you start to think about it. Why, then, the difference in length between ‘now’ and ‘immediately’?
For many years, linguists have tended to believe that the length of a word was associated with how often it was used, and that short words are used more frequently than long ones. This association was first proposed in the 1930s by the Harvard linguist George Kingsley Zipf.
Zipf believed that the relationship between word length and frequency of use stemmed from an impulse to minimize the time and effort needed for speaking and writing, as it means we use more short words than long ones. But Steven Piantadosi and colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge say that, to convey a given amount of information, it is more efficient to shorten the least informative — and therefore the most predictable — words, rather than the most frequent ones. Zipf’s original association is roughly correct, as implied by how much more often ‘a’, ‘the’ and ‘is’ are used in English than, say, ‘extraordinarily’. And this relationship of length to use seems to hold up in many languages. Because written and spoken length are generally similar, it applies to both speech and text.
“There’s an old joke: An Oxford professor meets a former student and asks what he’s been up to. The student tells him he’s working on his doctoral thesis, whose topic is the survival of the class system in the U.S. The prof expresses surprise. “I didn’t think there was a class system in the U.S.,” he says. “Nobody does,” the student replies. “That’s how it survives.”—via azspot.net
“They only thing I’ve ever found, with my wife, is that I can find my way around better than her without satnav. Everything else, she does a lot better than me.
So why can’t a linesperson be a better linesperson than a man? Her decision as I saw it on the telly was absolutely bang on. My experience of it is that is some of these people are at the so-called top of the game then lets have a look at some fresh people and see how good they are.”
Thanks for following me! Awesome blog. I can already tell that I'm going to like it.
Thanks. Ur’s making me think which i like. BTW, I went to American Uni in DC to get my PhD (just finished last yr). I also was born in London and went to Uni of London for my masters. If u have any questions about your phd move to London i made be able to answer them. Also i see you want to get a Boren. Did u know they r funded by the US military? Some countries, companies, and fellow anthropologists have big time ethical problems with any one who has a Boren, not letting them work with them or in their countries, so you might wanna check that out as well as see if u can get other funding. Or maybe not, just wanted to let you know that in case you didnt know.
“The moral outrage of the liberal class, a specialty of MSNBC, groups such as Progressives for Obama and MoveOn.org, is built around the absurd language of personal narrative-as if Barack Obama ever wanted to or could defy the interests of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase or General Electric. The liberal class refuses to directly confront the dead hand of corporate power that is rapidly transforming America into a brutal feudal state. To name this power, to admit that it has a death grip on our political process, our systems of information, our artistic and religious expression, our education, and has successfully emasculated popular movements, including labor, is to admit that the only weapons we have left are acts of civil disobedience. And civil disobedience is difficult, uncomfortable and lonely. It requires us to step outside the formal systems of power and trust in acts that are marginal, often unrecognized and have no hope of immediate success.”—
Spot on. Read the whole piece. This weekend in fact, a sociology colleague tried to silence me at a conference when I made similar points. He claimed such sentiment was a point of view and not based on research. That I must present data to make such claims. To say I backed down from his bullying is of course incorrect. I was also pleased that some other scholars (more senior ones too) offered me support for my position. What’s most scary is the professor who tried to fight me down is convinced there is only one way of seeing the world and that is through data and statistics. He is removed from humanistic understanding and brain washed by the holy grail of empiricism. While we might think his believe in raw science is a great thing, the point is the conference was about change, yet no one there was willing to talk about real substantive change, only on what conventions are best for researching problems. People need to stop being polite and get political.
You see the pattern everywhere: the top 1% of the population control 35% of the wealth. On Twitter, the top 2% of users send 60% of the messages. In the health care system, the treatment for the most expensive fifth of patients create four-fifths of the overall cost. These figures are always reported as shocking, as if the normal order of things has been disrupted, as if the appearance of anything other than a completely linear distribution of money, or messages, or effort, is a surprise of the highest order.
It’s not. Or rather, it shouldn’t be.
The Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto undertook a study of market economies a century ago, and discovered that no matter what the country, the richest quintile of the population controlled most of the wealth. The effects of thisPareto Distribution go by many names — the 80/20 Rule, Zipfs Law, thePower Law distribution, Winner-Take-All — but the basic shape of the underlying distribution is always the same: the richest or busiest or most connected participants in a system will account for much much more wealth, or activity, or connectedness than average.
Furthermore, this pattern is recursive. Within the top 20% of a system that exhibits a Pareto distribution, the top 20% of that slice will also account for disproportionately more of whatever is being measured, and so on. The most highly ranked element of such a system will be much more highly weighted than even the #2 item in the same chart. (The word “the” is not only the commonest word in English, it appears twice as often the second most common, “of”.)
This pattern was so common, Pareto called it a “predictable imbalance”; despite this bit of century-old optimism, however, we are still failing to predict it, even though it is everywhere.