October 29, 2007

How We Thought Ourselves Into This

As I noted the other day, I dislike it when impersonal forces are credited with responsibility for outcomes produced by human action. It's lazy and not very instructive. So this country, all of us in it, thought and acted our way into this mess. Now we need to think our way out. Let's start by looking at the first obstacle: people without a firm grasp on the peril of the situation. Driftglass quantifies that level of resistance in a paraphrase of Lincoln's words, pointing out that apparently, "You can fool 27% of the people all of the time." (h/t The Sideshow)

For everybody else, the 27% crazification factor people manage to get their way because our brains tune out repeated stimuli, and that makes it easy for authoritarianism to creep in unnoticed.

When people without respect for the law have taken over the system, what do you do then? Paul Rosenberg discusses what it looks like to break the rules and uphold principle at the same time. How to coordinate such a thing? If only there were a series of tubes that allowed for cheap, instantaneous, mass communication between large numbers of private individuals ...

"Any definition of culture which automatically excludes roughly 240 million out of the nation's 300 million citizens is, one would think, inherently ridiculous." - John Rogers at Kung Fu Monkey

Posted by natasha at October 29, 2007 02:25 AM | Philosophy | Technorati links |

If you haven't read it, Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians bears out the 27% theory. As he said in a recent podcast on Electric Politics, the way to defeat this hard-core 27% of non-thinkers is to mobilize an equally hard-core group of equal size on the left. Obviously this is next to impossible, since any 10 lefties in a room will have a minimum of 8 agendas and will insist on absolute purity on all their agendas before they will get excited about a candidate.

I'm beginning to think that we need to forget about everything else and work on one overarching prerequisite to every progressive political issue: returning the United States to Constitutional government. If we allow the Executive to flagrantly violate the Bill of Rights, the separation of powers doctrine, and habeas corpus then we are on the superhighway to fascism.

If concerned Americans on the right and left (say from Kucinich to Ron Paul) united to insist that every candidate for office be absolutely committed to the Constitution, we might be able to get somewhere. It's a long shot, but there's not much left.

Posted by: Charles at October 29, 2007 06:22 AM