Monday, October 04, 2010

Internet Addiction



That's a screen shot from Mark Fiore's recent political cartoon video, which is well worth watching if you're into that sort of thing. I particularly liked it because it introduced the "cashocracy" which had already nested in my conspiratorial mind.

I am into Internet videos and the myriad distractions of the Internet. I've been avoiding writing because I know my last post was garbled at the end and I couldn't be arsed to come and fix it up. One aspect of my life that follows a regular schedule is preparing supper. Sometimes I find myself with a bit of time in the afternoon to write a post. As often as not I get distracted by the Internet. That's what happened with the last post. I found myself surfing, as the post seemed almost done and it was supper-making time I simply hit publish without reading it over. That's a big mistake as I'm apt to write gibberish.

What I write online is the epitome of what people who argue there's too much trash online are talking about. I know that I'm not the only one who posts gibberish, but I also know the Internet makes genius accessible. People post really smart stuff and finding it is like a narcotic fix to me. I'm too easily distracted! But I like to post so I can point to some of the neat stuff that engages me so.

Dougland Hine pointed to an article at The Guardian newspaper with this tweet at Twitter:
This is a really excellent reading of the complexities of the British class system and how it gave us Cameron & Clegg -
What struck me is how unusual it would be for an American to point to an article in a major newspaper having anything to do with the complexities of the American class system.

My Internet addiction is made visible when I do searches and find links to my own banal writing in the results. For example in my last post about conspiracy theories I searched "netocracy" and found a bunch of links of me pointing to Phil Jones. And when I searched "cashocracy" most of the search results were to Fiore's excellent cartoon, but there were a number of links to my ravings about cashocracy.

What disturbs me about links associated with me about cashocracy is it's a term coined by Haroldson Lafayette Hunt, Jr. H.L. Hunt is to my mind an important American figure and certainly the Hunt family is quite significant. But there seems much less written about them online than I would expect. So it's disconcerting that stuff I write would come up high in search. I generally take comfort in the fact that nobody reads what I write. I probably could track people coming to my blog by searching cashocracy, but I'm too lazy to look.

A Village Voice article, White America Has Lost Its Mind, got passed around quite a lot this week. I suspect that for those outside the USA the headline hardly seems news. The article features mostly the ravings of media figures, and while they're rich they're hardly the ruling class in the USA. I suppose it's fair to assume that major media personalities reflect what the ruling class thinks in some ways. But the problem with this is the media personalities themselves have to affect populism. I doubt the ruling class consider themselves populists; I mean why bother? It seems to me that most Americans seem remarkably incurious about what the ruling class thinks. Dougland's Twitter post made me think think people in the UK are much more receptive to thinking in terms of class. That we aren't so much so seems a detriment to Americans making sense of what happens.

H. L. Hunt was on the radio when I was a kid. He didn't have an intermediary like the scions of the rich do today, so his Fascism was straight from the horses mouth. Because he was rich, few said he'd lost his mind, at least in public, instead referring to him as "eccentric." In 1967 Hunt published a book, his vision of Utopia, entitled Alpaca. Here's how Rusty Crawley in the Dallas Business Journal explains part of the cashocracy mechanism Hunt proposed:
The perfect society, according to Hunt, would give the most votes to the oldest, the wealthiest and the most ambitious. Citizens younger than age 22 would get one vote. Older voters would get two votes. The top 25% of taxpayers would get an extra two votes.
Who really knows what the rich in the USA think today? My suspicion is Hunt's proposal didn't seem favorable enough so they've sought to improve it towards their ends by other means.

Mostly I hear the radio when I'm driving and that isn't too often. Last week while grocery shopping I heard a fascinating interview with journalist Mark Feldstein on Fresh Air. Feldstein has written a book Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington's Scandal Culture. For people of my age the Nixon presidency holds a particular fascination. Feldstein has done a great deal of research and I'm sure the book is a great read, although I have not read it. Feldstein uncovers that not only was Nixon taking corrupt money, but his journalist nemesis Jack Anderson did as well.

So far as I can tell his book doesn't really tell us much about the powers that be behind the corruption, except that some of it was "mob" money. Here's the thing, the very rich in the USA are not just rich from conventional business, but also criminal enterprise. That latter bit makes it all the more difficult to know what the rich think and to understand how the class system works here. Although from anything I can gather there isn't much distinction made among the rich how they got rich, simply having tons of money and influence are sufficient class markers.

Rick Perlstein is a historian who has written about the Nixon administration. The book previous to his Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America was Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. Alas, I haven't read either. But I did find of review of the Goldwater book by the wonderful reporter Robert Sherrill in a 2001 issue of The Nation. Sherrill's piece is entitled Conservatism as Phoenix and sheds light on the rich who rallied around Goldwater in the 1960's, H.L. Hunt among them. Sherrill writes about the book:
You will be carried away to those exciting days of yore--the 1950s and 1960s--when several large parts of the national psyche became so twisted, so gripped by fear, so almost comically, sometimes viciously, mad that they got behind a senator from Arizona named Barry Goldwater--who himself, by the way, was free of all those characteristics--and if fate hadn't intervened, just might have made that right-winging mediocrity what he apparently had little ambition to be: our thirty-seventh President.
Crazy white folks are nothing new in the USA. What's different today it seems to me is while ordinary Americans are quite ready to paint various media personalties as nuts, we're less ready to think the ruling class so than we were in the 1960's and 1970's.

Vinay Gupta wrote a very perceptive post touching on how middle-class Americans think, We have everything we need, but not for this…. Sally Kalson a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also explores hat theme in the paper today Bamboozled by the colonel: Voters should not let the fox back in the hen house. Kalson's post is a great read, but what's missing is much about the ruling class. I think it would really help to understand, at least in rough outlines, how the Bamboozlers in the USA think. The candidates Kalson rails against are just lackeys of the rich speaking in a populist voice.

What I can't understand is why most Americans aren't more interested in the rich. Inequality in the USA exceeds most Central and Latin American countries; it's on track with Uruguay. Why don't we want to know more about the plutocrats? And surely it must be obvious that the interests of the rest of us have little in common with theirs. Tea and crumpets anyone?

1 comment:

phil jones said...

re: internet addiction. Tell me about it :-(

I've got a list of 45 things to do in my notebook, and I haven't been able to get to more than 4 of them for the last 3 days for all the internet flaneuring I've been caught up with.

BTW : for the record, I'm an optimist.