Tuesday, July 31, 2012

America Inside Out 2012

This has been my thesis since the mid-1990s: America has its inside out, and its outside in.  It internalizes external problems while it acts out its inner struggles, or more briefly, it acts as if its unconscious were its conscious (rational) self, partly as a way to avoid acting on the dangers of the outside world.

This plays out in all sorts of ways, but its function at the moment is explaining the utter madness of the Rabid Right.  It's more than being convinced of an alternate reality proposed by institutions and media promulgating the fossil fuel industry line, or even by the sense of belonging to a mad as hell talk radio fan club/tea party. 

It's more than believing and (in the case of certain increasingly craven politicians like Tim Polenta) repeating the vile Romney lies, although it does explain why the Romney people feel no pressure to stop lying even when the usual news media arbiters call them on it. 

It's the complete refusal to believe what a marginally sane society regards as proven facts.  This is willed ignorance, with a substructure of reasons (as all unconscious shadows produce) but coming from those unconscious dark depths.

The most important example is the dogma that the climate crisis isn't happening, that it isn't caused by greenhouse gas pollution, etc.  This in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus, which now includes one of the more respectable (former) skeptics.

But there is that additional and very powerful factor of fossil fuel money and power--from companies (including 7 of the top 10 largest) that have most of the money in the world.  This however is not the case when it comes to simple biographical facts about Barack Obama.

A new poll shows only half the Americans surveyed "know" that Obama is a Christian.  Some of that (some part of the 31% who 'don't know') is attributable to nonexistent attention ( only 40%  know how many Supreme Court Justices there are.)  But there is a persistent set that refuses to accept all the evidence concerning Obama's birthplace, his education and so on. 

And it is refusal.  David Maraniss recently published a biography of Obama that included original research, naming sources and quoting people all along the line.  But he keeps getting resistance from people who claim the opposite from the facts he carefully presents.

There is enormous appetite for the lies however.  Another purported biography, by Edward Klein, has been widely denounced as scurrilous and scandalous tripe.  Klein is well known for this in recent years.  Even when he seemed to be legitimate, as the editor of the New York Times Magazine for instance, he had the contempt of the people who worked for him.  I was told by someone who was in the room that when it was announced to the staff that he was leaving the Magazine, they stood up and cheered.  That, believe me, is (or at least was) very unTimesian behavior.

But Klein's diatribe is #1 on the Times best seller list.  Klein was interviewed by C-Span as if he is a legitimate author.  And as Political Wire noted on Monday, his book has sold 137,000 copies, while Maraniss' has sold 19,000.

So what's on the outside, masquerading as rationality, is hate.  And there's no fact that can change it.

This clearly has the legitimate media flummoxed.  Because without an agreed-upon standard of fact, the whole rational system collapses.

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