Now Politics: the Political Opinions of Thomas Sarebbononnato

A Friend of the People Opposing Elites; Social and Political Commentary of Thomas Sarebbononnato; Publishing and Contributing Editor, Jay V. Ruvolo [Copyright (c) Jay Ruvolo 2018]

Archive for October 2018

THE FALLING LEAF REVIEW, WINTER 2018: CURRENTLY POLITICAL

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Written by jvr

October 10, 2018 at 10:21 am

JFK and a New Left Legacy

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So you imagine that JFK was a great champion of freedom. You believe that he had a moral center, that he was not both a security risk to the US and a travesty as a leader of a free people, a man ruled by his appetites, a man whose moral compass was demagnetized. You must also think that his most famous quote about not asking your country to do for you, what it can do for you –because it can’t and won’t and has insisted we believe it shouldn’t do anything for us–was not the prophecy of a future America where government control through media manipulation has sold us down river at the behest of Wall Street. You must then imagine that greed and corruption are not greater today than they were at his time, that the rule of law has not become an inside joke on Capitol Hill–or in the Oval Office itself, and especially at the NSA. You then must also believe that Obama is not a puppet of Goldman Sachs? That he is not the b!$&* of Blankfein. You believe that none of these things are true? I know. You imagine that we have not gone too far past the point of no return for democratic politics truly being at the behest of the people and not a manipulated masquerade of democratic politics choreographed by an oligarchy of power and monied elites. I too would like to believe this. We do continue to wonder what has happened to democracy all the while continuing to support policies of under-education and economic strategies that continue to feed the tape worm driven financial gluttony of the elite, supported by the power structure in Washington, the imaging of which is managed by a media allied with power and money, sometimes itself being the power or the money or both . . . Allons infants de la patrie . . .

Ask not what your country can do for you–and it can do things for you, it just doesn’t want to–yes, ask not what it can do for you because it figured out how to get you to do more and more, all the while it manages messages through the media that allow you to imagine you are free. With semi-literacy masquerading as literate enough to manage the affairs of democracy for the people and not just for the elite has persisted long enough for most of us not to have a clue that we are genuinely less free than we were. Politics has become so horribly corrupted by Power and Money that I fear the only response we will conclude is appropriate at some future date is a horribly violent one, in line with the responses of Les Jacobinsa little over two centuries ago in France. Don’t waste your time trying to imagine that that cannot happen here. We do need to wake up . . . sleepwalking around at best, others of us just walk back into our caves, in love with shadows in opposition to our contempt for Truth in the light of day. The number of men with rifles who are fucked by power and money, raped and told its love, and laughed at in board rooms and closed door conferences by the impossibly rich is scary to consider. When the soldiers not far from most of these citizens with rifles get the idea that they are fighting wars for oil or so real estate moguls can get rich on sky scrapers falling, or so the power elite in Washington can make sure their sons never serve in Iraq . . . of course, I do understand that wars today are going to be fought over resources like oil, especially the way we live. Was the war in Iraq about oil–of course it was. But why that securing of oil for our future has not filtered back into the economy is a question soldiers should ask when they can’t pay their mortgages.

The Allegory of the Cavewas once universally understood by those who had received a university education, and not because white men said it should be known but because it revealed something inherent in our nature–and yes, there is a human nature, even if I also believe that that nature cannot be generalized in the ways it has been, grossly and even grotesquely–but more specifically inherent in our social nature, if you will. There is a nature for society–not the nature that stands in contrast in some arguments for civilization, but in as much as societies form similarly, we can note how they do and in what ways they do. There are appropriate analyses to be made. Our society is on a precipice and Democracy hangs there barely. We can irrevocably change the course of Democracy, destroying it through ignorance, narrowness and a horribly degraded sense of being literate enough when in fact most of us, even those of us managing, are no better than Alphabetic, having achieved not advanced literacy in our universities, but a more complicated alphabetisme, great negotiators of the alphabet so we can at least spell the received ideas we live by. And when these semi-literate manage the affairs of literacy, I laugh in horror.

Written by jvr

October 8, 2018 at 10:41 am

NEMESIS HUNTS THE IGNORANT

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There is no horror from the past we cannot aggrandize. Our culture’s blindness is responsible for much of the terror in our lives. I’m not here to insist that Americans are the only blind people in the world; that is clearly false. However, knowing that blindness is a pan human condition regardless of the sightedness or lack thereof in any person of any people does not lessen the effects of said blindness. Is there anything knew anywhere concerning human frailty, human foibles? Have we grown less fallible, less likely to break under extreme pressure? Has there ever been at any time in any past, whatever history we examine–really historiography–a people of greater error in the matters of their humanity? Again, questions beget questions, answers left wanting in spite of how many responses are made . . .

I’m of the mind that history happens irrespective of who writes the historiography. One is not the other. There is history that is unwritten, unrecorded, unremembered, untold . . . I wish we did read enough to know who George Santayana was, let alone what he said about history and historical consciousness, that those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it, but then reliving our past horrors seems one of the longest and strongest of all past times. We do ignore more than we should. We have become overbearingly tempo-centric, narrowly prescribing a dogma of a unified now and new as the only means by which we verify or validate.  Multicultural though should extend to the culture of time as it is oriented historically. What means history thus historiography, historicism in a culture as contempocentric as ours. Multicultural would thus be something like Mexico now, Mexico a generation ago, Mexico a century ago, two centuries ago, a millennia ago . . .

History is a river? History is an ocean with tides and currents? History is a tunnel we pass through; history is a moving arrow flying by. These metaphors helpful or not, I am not going to entertain a definition of history and how it differs from historiography and historicism. History for all people infers recorded time. I posit this simplistic reference with historiography. Again, history is what happens irrespective of who writes history or if the history ever gets written or recorded in some other fashion. So, history may or may not be historiographic, but historiography is linked with history.

With respect for time and its passage in what we call history, let me say that there has never been any generation in our history–America’s history–more tempo-centric than this one. But again, even if there were other ages more tempo-centric than ours, it would not lessen how much so we are currently. The beam in my own eye does not remove the mote in my neighbors eye, or vice-versa. A corrective must be applied. We are in need of a revised vision of ourselves, our society and its position in the world, in history, in the continuum we imagine time to be.

Ours has become virtually the only time, but every age has some sense that its age is the best or the worst of all ages that have ever been. A sense of the past, a sense of proportion about the past has gone the way of believing that we can uncover the truth about things, or that there is a Truth, both transcendent and absolute. We no longer believe in the possibility of objectivity, therefore we only assert one subjectivity after another and another and so on in a petty pace of the solipsist spinning his wheels.

The thing is that we also imagine we are the zenith of forever; that all future ages are dependent on us, and this has arisen simultaneously with a severing from all past contingencies or continuums. We are iconoclastic as we have never been before, while we each discover our own personal Sinai to ascend and descend, complete with each one of us carrying his own tablets, his own commandments.

A new intellectual hegemony has been won by those who have revised the past in order to justify their present, much the way Czar Ivan had chroniclers revise Russian history to justify the Romanov dynasty. This was not new then; it is not new now. Ignorance and degraded literacy has gone a long way to bolstering this tendency.

Ignorance is literally to ignore, and no one ignores the past more than we do. There has been no generation in any age more in love with the moment now than ours. Even Whitman seemingly gives credence to this excessive American desire to own the present. Doesn’t he declare that there is no more time than now in Song of Myself. I don’t mean to belittle Whitman; Walt is not reinforcing tempo-centrism any more than Sylvia Plath was romanticizing suicide, but it is an interesting product of our cultural vision.

Ours has become the great displacement of the past, and in as much as we are the guardians of the future, as far as we have made the future now. This is interesting from a culture that has abandoned the metaphysics of Truth because it finds the idea of transcendence absurd. The future has become current for us, and believing, for better or for ill, that our choices irrevocably affect all time until the end of time has led us to a couple of false notions. This belief has brought about for us either castrating fear or a hubris as grandiose as any in antiquity that brought Divine Retribution at the hands of Nemesis.

Written by jvr

October 5, 2018 at 10:42 am

NON VOTE, PRO ACTIVE DISSENT

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In 2008, I non-voted for President; that is, I went to the polls as someone who wanted to vote but could not pick a candidate, could not determine from the policy ping-pong played between the candidates which candidate I thought should be President. I pulled the lever in 08 to close the curtain of my voting booth; I was counted as someone who came to vote. I even cast several ballots for local candidates and propositions. I did not however flip any of the switches for President. I was unable in good conscience to do so. I suspect the responses from many of my readers; I understand the reaction you might have, as I have heard before something near to what I suspect you are saying now. I have heard all about the waste and the irresponsibility that my particular way of voting incurs. I do hope, though, that you have not deluded yourselves that there are ideological differences between Democrat and Republican parties. There are not. I know that the lack of ideological differences is not in itself the first or the last reason one should go to the polls to vote but not choose one of the Status Quo candidates.  I have asserted as much elsewhere in one or more essays that we the United States are a uni-ideological nation, a virtually Totalitarian Capitalist one; but this aside, there are other reasons for not supporting the Status Quo in politics, which means opposing how elections are conducted, how candidates get chosen and survive the weeding process of primary elections. I know the Republicans and Democrats are trying to salvage the view that they are distinct, and that no new party realignment is necessary. Furthermore, standing diametrically opposed to each other, even to the point of almost shutting down the government, which virtually backfired, helps perpetuate the illusion that the two major parties are mutually exclusive. Nothing is further from the truth.

Non-voting in the way I have asserted is something I take seriously because it is pro-active and not passive. Staying home is a choice, and no politician ever cares about those who have chosen to stay home; political parties deal in certainties, at least predictable certainties (whether they are ever going to be realizable or not is not the question, but whether they can be packaged as a certainty is); and the apathy of anyone who stays home on election day is a certainty they can do without. It is no kind of protest. The government goes about its business and the politicians go about theirs.  It doesn’t shake the status quo in confidence and self-assurance. People who stay home are free to stay home and they do not want to play in the game. Only people with interests or who are interested are negotiable; only they have something to bargain with, and in the case I herein present, it is a vote. To go to the polls as someone who wants to be counted is the player in a game who questions the game. The one who stays home is like the one who stands as a spectator to game he chooses not to play and does not question how the game is played. The players of the game respond differently.

To vote for one or the other candidate or any of the candidates, though, as you do when you pick a horse at the race track is a vote fore-mostly for the status quo.  A vote for any party is an acceptance of the Status Quo. Non-votes on the other hand are sure votes up for grabs.  They are tangible. They say, I don’t like how we have been playing the game. I think we need a revision of the rules, or a different attitude when playing, or different forms of how the game is played. Tens of millions of Americans, though, would have to non-vote in order to shake up the system, and for the time being it does not seem as if that is going to happen, but that’s because the media and the politicians are always against this and try to sell the idea that the only real exercise of one’s freedom as well as the only viable support for democracy is to pick a candidate. Non-voting will be played up as a wasted vote, throwing away one’s privilege–which is in itself heinous because voting is a right and not a privilege, and the right to vote is one that exists in face of obstacles or denial of those rights. My notions of voting rights is two-fold: first is the right which exists independent of lawful guarantees and protections, and the law that ensures the right is enacted and protected.

Written by jvr

October 3, 2018 at 12:01 pm

QUANTITY TRUMPS QUALITY

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If we are lagging in production, medical services, wages, quality of life, education–it all has everything to do with the margin of greed we have accepted as a fact of nature as certain as death. This then promotes the petite bourgeois bureaucratic mentality that governs virtually all thinking and managing on the job, everywhere. I do understand that there are qualified people who want to serve, but mostly they get weeded out by the petty authority that usually gets promoted because petty authority is more easily managed and gets on board with the less-than-qualified-good-enough mentality. Also, they are less inclined to promote people who are as qualified or more qualified as they are; their positions most likely having been secured by what quota they fill. But this is integral to the general inefficiency anywhere hiring and promoting practices emulate this pattern. I am still trying to figure out how this helps anyone. It does not.

There are enough people who can turn a blind eye to bigotry–just ask white people. There will always be enough who will deny that any kind of on-the-job prejudice against Italian-American men exists, some who might even say it is about time because I am white, and others who to themselves will say you don’t like it, do you, as if two contrary wrongs make a right–actually they would only result in a zero for everybody, including the people who the organization serves. But let this not sound like sour grapes from a white catholic Italian-American man, and only like a genuine critique from a citizen who sees quantity again triumphing over quality and race centered hiring and promoting and rewarding on the job for what it is, racist, racist, endemically racist. I do understand when people of color say America is an endemically racist society. Of course, we are, and everybody, I mean everybody, participates. All of us everywhere all the time.

Waste is  managed, not eliminated, except where government grants fund the operations. Then a pseudo-marketplace mentality is assumed, and administrators get to play in a pretend big-time world where their decisions are judged as they would be in a for-profit company, at least in so far as the bureaucracy manages its quotas for performance evaluation.  There is generally no regard for time of service, seniority, or for quality of work because again, less qualified can be manipulated into good enough to meet the government’s numbers at the end of the fiscal year. This we see in education across America–particularly in ESOL where for sure, less qualified seems to be rewarded more greatly than qualified, particularly if it is in New York City and the less qualified or those with less seniority are people of color, better, women of color, even better, African-American women. If you are a Jewish woman, then this is better than being a white Catholic male, Italian American, absolutely. I am speaking from experience, yet I understand that if the shoes were on another foot, then speaking about discrimination based on race and/or gender would be accepted without question. I am, though, a white man, a Catholic, an Italian-American. I know that I am being excluded from the inner circle of operations at work based on race and ethnicity. We cannot say that African-Americans can be racist. We’re not allowed. I know that my time of service, my rate of retention in the classroom and my student’s rate of advance is among the highest. My scores on the refresher course we have to take to continue administering the computer based exam we give to our students are among the highest, yet, I am excluded from post testing, I am given a lot fewer assignments at registration and teachers with years fewer on the job than I have are given extra classes over me. Race, race and race.

The inefficiency or even the buffoonery that arises from time to time in policy decisions–but mostly decisions by race, by ethnicity or by gender–that get made are primary in an organization that does not have to show profits to survive. In the marketplace, presumably, the more qualified should get hired irrespective of race or gender or ethnicity, but oftentimes even in the marketplace, quality coupled with bureaucratic quantification is primary. Age discrimination has become one of the most acceptable forms of job discrimination, rationalized by the idea that younger workers, although less experienced, will give more for less–and this less is important. To maximize profits, profits determined by margins of greed not endured in the west since before the French Revolution, costs need to be minimized. First, this is accomplished by cutting benefits or eliminating them, most easily by increasing the number of part-time employees and decreasing the number of full-time employees. (ESOL programs across America are notorious for treating their dedicated and long serving teachers as if they were serfs, management and administrators acting with impunity as they play hop-scotch with people’s livelihoods).

Non-profit or virtually non-profit organizations do not need to seek quality workers for any of their positions. Good-enough is the marker of determination, more specifically, what racial or ethnic quota can be filled from any of the semi-qualified to quantify that the non-profit is not racist or prejudiced in their hiring. Of course, this infers that the only kind of racism in hiring that could exist is one where white HR workers hire white appliers. Except in how many people of color HR hires and promotes, there is no way to prove that the company is not racist when it hires anyone based on qualifications that have not been lowered. Qualified people of color need not apply. Quotas in hiring are privileges established to address actual or perceived or media received inequalities. However, they only add to the stress of inequality in society; they do not eradicate the inequality; they were never meant to do so. In fact, they reinforce inequality, oftentimes causing us to look for or create the illusion of inequality if it did not persist. This kind of privileging does not demand quality and therefore, there is a lessening of the need to acquire quality in skills or talents. Furthermore, quality, actual quality is ignored. The preference is for the less qualified man or woman from among the established quotas because  the man or woman of quality from among the quotas is only going to think of his job as a right and not a privilege. It’s not that qualified people of non-color get hired either–mediocrity is sought to rationalize or even silently justify the lower rate of pay.

 

Written by jvr

October 1, 2018 at 4:33 pm

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