Inquiry: The Death of an Idea called America, Part II. Technological Tribalism? Revised

Source: David Bartus, Photographer. Pexels.

by LJ Frank

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 I wrote the following:

Our most intimate and revealing clothing is our language (and the actions that follow that language). Is racism, misogyny, bullying, hate, greed, “arrogance of deception,” disinformation and fear now more than ever potent ingredients in the language of politics surrounding the American dream or fantasy? Populist fantasies when they are played out may have unsettling if not unplanned and alarming results.

Communication between differing opinions requires diplomacy, tact, knowledge of the cultures and of people of all races and gender identity. The challenge of a demagogic fantasy in small part is that when shame is lost the question then becomes will it ever return again? Facts and evidence are essential in public dialogue where a democracy and civility are at stake.

Within the dialogue is the nature of compassion that is critical to the concept of democracy. Compassion has no pretext, it has no agenda, political allegiance, party, geographical or cultural identity or boundary.

The voices of the disenfranchised, disabled, unemployed, impoverished and the new emerging homeless class are drowned out by an election and presidency founded on anger, distrust and deception. What are the downstream effects of any election when founded on anger, meanness and fanned by fear and retribution?

It appears we are experiencing the death of a noble idea. That idea was fragile from the beginning as men such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams so well understood. Again, it’s critical that we acquire a taste for truth based on the facts. I wonder how much time this democracy called “America” has when the truth is cast aside for expediency, power, profit and exploitation?

Friday, September 13, 2019 

We are now witnesses to a transformation of democracy in America. We are living in an unabashed oligarchy masked as a democracy with a president whose authoritarian values allow him the opportunity to persecute those he views as his political enemies. We are indulging in a technological tribalism.

The historical precedence for the president’s actions is piecemeal and shrinking. All leaders are imperfect and few are pure in their corruption. In the current theater of politics the president’s impeachable offenses appear as significant if correct – obstructing justice, profiting from his presidency while in office, treasonous conduct – collusion with Russia, abuse of power, advocating political and police violence, reckless conduct while in office, persecution of political opponents, attacking a free press, violating immigration due process laws and otherwise engaging in unethical national and international conduct.

What is the intent of any given leader? In the case of the USA, shall we examine the evidence that involves an effort to obstruct justice as in the Mueller investigation or the most recent being the case against Andrew McCabe, former FBI director by the Justice department as rules are bent to support the president?  Shall we itemize the lies and the purposeful deceptive maneuvers? The list appears endless.*  History will be the foremost judge.

The Technological Tribalism issue I speak of may initially be viewed in the words of Marshall McLuhan who once said, “When you give people too much information, they (the people) resort to pattern recognition.”  We become technological tribes seeking those “others with similar beliefs” that support our views while stereotyping the opposition. True believers in the eyes of Eric Hoffer would rather have a Chosen One to rely on and place their faith in, rather than think for themselves and to the point of denying the facts and creating false testimonies. Does technological tribalism allow people to fall back on their clichés and labels?

Is all reasoning and action filtered? We are developing a police mentality where we shouldn’t be surprised when we hear a knock on our door in the middle of the night with guns drawn by police, based on the “intelligence network” of suspicion – a voice, speech or facial recognition…the possibilities have no boundaries like the metal mesh walls on the country’s Southern border to keep in as well as keep out and to control an emotional and physical rupture. Still, the chastity device of the mind tightens as the pressure builds.   The boundary plays out in many scenarios. A fear of loss – of a paycheck, of a family member, of physical and emotional pain and the self-query of – with whom do you trust?  

What is the demarcation between the actual and false save the facts which by now become distorted on a daily basis from the highest levels of authority? The US Supreme Court is not non-partisan, though the justices are obligated to say that he or she is. And it appears the lobbyists own Congress and most of the Republican Party though many a democrat has no bragging right.

We departed the previous theater of democracy and are now experiencing a leadership instilled message of exactly what? We are indeed witnesses to the death of an idea that perhaps was on the decline not unlike one might suppose as a political variation of the 2ndLaw of Thermodynamics. 

Where will the resilience be found except in the terrible and uplifting existential responsibility of being an individual separate from the growing technological tribalism and away from the dichotomy of false choices? Are we experiencing an alternate set of circumstances from which we might emerge as a citizen/product of a new and improved oligarchy? Will some of us be offered as candidates for an artificial intelligence blending?

Under the existing political theater will we continue to march down the nationalistic road to a future with a revised dictatorial fervor without regard to the outcome? Does liberty belong to those who have the financial resources to afford it? And is equality merely a tool of propaganda while the citizen tries to exist under the radar, living their life in quiet angst in the unquiet streets?

Perhaps we are waiting for an outsider to aid us.

Are we one planet circling a star in hope the arrival of an alien spaceship  to alert us that we are a diverse yet “singular civilization” and to remind us we are indeed just one inhabited planet among millions of others.

How resilient is the Earth?  And would our death create a void in the cosmos? Or are we mere passersby?