Posts by Dennis Frank

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to andin,

    Sympathy for the underdog seems often so widespread as to be a part of human nature. Then one notices that this huge crowd vastly outnumbers those who are ready, willing & able to translate that feeling into political action. Like more than a hundred to one, perhaps a thousand to one.

    Then look at all those refugees from south of the border, voting with their feet, trying to get in to join the falling through those cracks? As if all the other countries seem worse.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to linger,

    Time will tell, but consider those as consequences of a trend rather than stable states. So when folk start gravitating toward the big picture in preference to a focus on parts of it, a cultural shift will ensue. The USA seems in dire straits to us, culturally, but to them it may be just a structural adjustment to the end of empire. If you keep in mind that the empire was tacit rather than real, I mean!

    So making America great again is a task in which operating in a multipolar geopolitical context is the reality underlying Trump's nostalgic stance. That requires finesse, which Trump seems to lack. Does his recent success disprove that he lacks it? Maybe. I'll reserve judgment awhile. If his success in geopolitics isn't sustained, that'll suggest he's just another right-wing partisan.

    But in regard to your question, it's a basic survival skill for humans, whether to focus on the whole of what's happening around them or just what's being presented as sensory input. So the social trends of culture get primarily driven by holism, as the ecosystemic trends in nature are, and the polarities and fragmented world-views of local cultures are eventually sufficiently influenced by other parts of the world-system that they end up shifting - whether evolving or devolving...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to andin,

    Yeah, good question. And, despite writing it casually, I do observe a serious cultural context - which is that the coming generations currently seem more like Trump than like me.

    Macro pendulum swings in culture have great inertia and long periods, but the swing to extreme superficiality will produce the inevitable reaction back towards gritty realism eventually. Hegel may have intended his dialectic to apply only in philosophy & politics but we see cycles all through nature if we look carefully.

    So media culture in the USA is currently too polarised to be helpful but some media enterprises will be designed to navigate upstream against this flow - such as https://www.ecosophia.net/ Even if weeds take over a garden, in amongst that wild ecosystem you'll find useful plants.

    Yes to both of your final questions, but I don't see total selfishness in him. If that were the case he wouldn't be able to keep shuffling useful like-minded folk in from the US military/industrial establishment when others drop out. Put his anti-establishment stance to one side, because it is directed against the Washington political establishment. Just a microcosm. His team know he's a player for the entirety of the US establishment, to pull the Washington insiders back into line,and that's a deeper game.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…,

    Trump gets that the media are for entertainment, not facts. In postmodern culture media success is proportional to the variety of perceptions it creates, because perception trumps reality. So Trump trumps the media.

    Thus this from a ThinkProgress reporter: "Trump repeatedly asserted that Giuliani simply didn’t know what he was talking about."

    “He started yesterday. He will get his facts straight,” Trump said while leaving the White House on his way to the NRA convention in Texas. “Virtually everything that’s been said has been said incorrectly.”

    Why bother briefing your new lawyer when anything he says wrong will generate a new headline? For a narcissist, this strategy works perfectly. He tosses out competing perceptions from the White House much as the Roman Emperor tossed out competing gladiators, lions & christians into the Coliseum to entertain the masses. And notice his "incorrectly" - tossed like bait to those few in the audience who still think the right answer is what matters. That tantalising possibility that this reality tv show might end up with the truth revealed. Subtle. Keeps the viewers hooked to the screen.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…,

    The new US Secretary of state has faith (in Jesus). He was sworn in Monday of last week. Tillerson's resignation took effect the first day of Easter, so Pompeo was in North Korea negotiating with the Supreme Leader during Easter weekend as acting-secretary. Pompeo's career path was West Point graduate, five years in the army, Harvard Law School graduate, congressman, CIA Director.

    Campaign funding from Koch, according to his Wikipedia page. He's a member of the Tea Party. Told his presbyterian church in a speech that politics is "a never-ending struggle … until the rapture." Hope he passed that bit of good news on to the Supreme Leader (could be why the guy was smiling so much). Anyway, you can see why some Democrat senators voted to confirm him, eh?

    Trump probably now has faith in the Nobel Committee. On One News tonight Simon Dallow told us that Trump's Nobel is looking likelier - citing the South Korean President. “I give President Trump huge credit for bringing about the inter-Korean talks, and I’d like to thank him for that,” Moon said at a news conference in Seoul.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to steven crawford,

    Yes & no. I was brainwashed by christians until age 13.5, when I told my mother I was never gonna go back to church or sunday school. To my eternal surprise, the usual thrashing from my father didn't happen. Transcendence was the result.

    I suspect faith in something is a psychological necessity for most humans. Where you're right is in regard to religion. Spirituality is personal, religion is social (social conformity, from Latin religare = to bind, from memory). I'd say Trump has more faith in himself, and in enterprise culture, than anything else. I doubt any christian affiliation is more than lip service or political convenience.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…,

    That cartoon captured the interpersonal mutuality of style well. Thomsen's piece has one notable reference to "international relations experts, whose discipline unashamedly admits that it believes cultural context doesn't matter." Anyone who thinks cultural context doesn't matter is so obviously a fool as to mask the fact that most i/r experts are top academics.

    All meaning is relative to context. Identity derives therefrom. For instance, we got taught in college physics that the electron has the nature of a particle in some experiments and the nature of a wave in others, then had to replicate those discoveries ourselves to prove it. If the Chinese govt suggested to the Koreans that they use their synthesis of socialism & capitalism as a model, and if re-unification proceeds on that basis, it will play out differently in the different cultural contexts of North and South...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Oh yeah, forgot that. Interesting that the result was obtained via "United Nations Security Council Resolution 418 of 4 November 1977 introduced a mandatory arms embargo against South Africa, also requiring all states to refrain from "any co-operation with South Africa in the manufacture and development of nuclear weapons"."

    Presumably this strategy didn't work with N Korea due to Chinese opposition, but maybe China threatening that strategy recently in behind the scenes diplomacy was what got the shift happening.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to Russell Brown,

    North Korea has no intention of denuclearisation. Trump is talking up a nuclear pact that doesn't exist even as he prepares to wreck one, with Iran, that does.

    Well, it would depend on the incentive, wouldn't it? But insofar as I don't recall any other nuclear state totally denuclearising, I agree. My point is that Trump's bluster actually worked. As we saw on the news tonight, the sabre-rattling has been displaced by smiles & hand-holding. In the court of public opinion, it makes Trump seem like a guy who gets the suitable result. I bet more people are impressed by that than by leftist moral outrage about his personal life & character.

    Yeah, his Iran stance is one to watch. Sounds like he has a problem with the devil in the detail of what was agreed & is keen eliminate whatever it is. Could be just a tweak required rather than ditching it - in which case they'll announce a trip to Iran by Tillerson sometime soon.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The remarkable rise of…, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Nothing there I disagree with, Tom. Both main parties in the USA got a reputation for shady dealings in the 19th century, both became notably corrupt during the 20th. The Bush dynasty have been personal friends and business partners with the bin Ladens through three generations in the oil industry, Reagan ran the Contra operation and supported fascist dictators in central & south America, so for me Trump still seems benign, compared to them & Nixon. Crass etc ain't evil.

    Democrat regimes maintained CIA direction of coups in an entire spectrum of foreign countries just as enthusiastically as Republicans did, and that same method was used prior to the formation of the CIA, traceable back into the 19th century. Still, it does appear that the mafia has been rendered more marginal in recent years so maybe there's an overall trend toward credibility despite the left/right shambles.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 167 posts Report Reply

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