The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

Mrs. Dinh Nhu Ngo firing .38 pistol.

 

Chapter 11.
The Huxleyan Warning

There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque.

No one needs to be reminded that our world is now marred by many prison-cultures whose structure Orwell described accurately in his parables. If one were to read both 1984 and Animal Farm, and then for good measure, Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon, one would have a fairly precise blueprint of the machinery of thought-control as it currently operates in scores of countries and on millions of people. Of course, Orwell was not the first to teach us about the spiritual devastations of tyranny. What is irreplaceable about his work is his insistence that it makes little difference if our wardens are inspired by right- or left-wing ideologies. The gates of the prison are equally impenetrable, surveillance equally rigorous, icon-worship equally pervasive.

What Huxley teaches is that in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours. There is no need for wardens or gates or Ministries of Truth. When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.

In America, Orwell’s prophecies are of small relevance, but Huxley’s are well under way toward being realized. For America is engaged in the world’s most ambitious experiment to accommodate itself to the technological distractions made possible by the electric plug. This is an experiment that began slowly and modestly in the mid-nineteenth century and has now, in the latter half of the twentieth, reached a perverse maturity in America’s consuming love-affair with television. As nowhere else in the world, Americans have moved far and fast in bringing to a close the age of the slow-moving printed word, and have granted to television sovereignty over all of their institutions. By ushering in the Age of Television, America has given the world the clearest available glimpse of the Huxleyan future.

Those who speak about this matter must often raise their voices to a near-hysterical pitch, inviting the charge that they are everything from wimps to public nuisances to Jeremiahs. But they do so because what they want others to see appears benign, when it is not invisible altogether. An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan. Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. We are not likely, for example, to be indifferent to the voices of the Sakharovs and the Timmermans and the Walesas. We take arms against such a sea of troubles, buttressed by the spirit of Milton, Bacon, Voltaire, Goethe and Jefferson. But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?

I fear that our philosophers have given us no guidance in this matter. Their warnings have customarily been directed against those consciously formulated ideologies that appeal to the worst tendencies in human nature. But what is happening in America is not the design of an articulated ideology. No Mein Kampf or Communist Manifesto announced its coming. It comes as the unintended consequence of a dramatic change in our modes of public conversation. But it is an ideology nonetheless, for it imposes a way of life, a set of relations among people and ideas, about which there has been no consensus, no discussion and no opposition. Only compliance. Public consciousness has not vet assimilated the point that technology is ideology. This, in spite of the fact that before our very eyes technology has altered every aspect of life in America during the past eighty years. For example, it would have been excusable in 1905 for us to be unprepared for the cultural changes the automobile would bring. Who could have suspected then that the automobile would tell us how we were to conduct our social and sexual lives? Would reorient our ideas about what to do with our forests and cities? Would create new ways of expressing our personal identity and social standing?

But it is much later in the game now, and ignorance of the score is inexcusable. To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple. Moreover, we have seen enough by now to know that technological changes in our modes of communication are even more ideology-laden than changes in our modes of transportation. Introduce the alphabet to a culture and you change its cognitive habits, its social relations, its notions of community, history and religion. Introduce the printing press with movable type, and you do the same. Introduce speed-of-light transmission of images and you make a cultural revolution. Without a vote. Without polemics. Without guerrilla resistance. Here is ideology, pure if not serene. Here is ideology without words, and all the more powerful for their absence. All that is required to make it stick is a population that devoutly believes in the inevitability of progress. And in this sense, all Americans are Marxists, for we believe nothing if not that history is moving us toward some preordained paradise and that technology is the force behind that movement…

– Neil Postman
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Paperback (1985)

 

The Little Duck Wants To Lie Down

 

VIETNAM WAR: NEW KEN BURNS DOCUMENTARY DISMISSES THE ORIGINS OF THE FUTILE, DISASTROUS CONFLICT
BY JEFF STEIN
Sept. 17th, 2017

 

Anticipating the Forthcoming PBS Documentary, ‘The Vietnam War’
by Camillo Mac Bica
July 20, 2017

 

Fruit Ninja

Is the new font too small?

The Real Scandal: Americans Don’t Care About Afghanistan
Will kids who weren’t yet born when the war began have to fight it ?
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • July 26, 2017

After all, what’s the point of getting hung up on the past when you are facing a dauntingly tough job in the here-and-now? That job requires Turner to do what a run of previous U.S. military commanders have been attempting to do without notable success for almost sixteen years: to pacify Helmand Province. Were he to reflect too deeply on the disappointments of those sixteen years— the U.S. troops killed and wounded, the billions of dollars expended, all to no evident purpose—Turner just might reach the conclusion that he and his charges are engaged in a fool’s errand conceived by idiots.

 

The Tragedy of Doctor Who

The new Doctor Who is a woman. “All the cool humans are thrilled,” cooed Mashable; “Pissboys Are Melting Down,” added Dorkly (when did nerds start talking like bitter drag queens?). The Telegraph was slightly more sober and wrote off the whole thing with “Who cares?” It doesn’t matter to the establishment left because we’ve already established that men are exactly the same as women—especially when it comes to fiction. They see nothing wrong with female superheroes and action stars. It’s 2017, after all.

Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde got a $30M budget and she’s been scoped to become the new James Bond. Thor thinks she’d be great and women’s magazines declare she is “the James Bond we need now.” They also like the idea of Bond girl Halle Berry from Die Another Day trading in her orange bikini for a tux and becoming 007. If Jaws from Moonraker tried to rip her head off she’d just grab him by his seven-foot frame and toss him aside like a bag of dirty laundry. We’d sit there pretending physics doesn’t exist and rejoice in the egalitarianism of it all.

 

What You Actually Spend on the National Security State
Hundreds of billions of dollars outside of the official Pentagon budget.
By WILLIAM D. HARTUNG • July 26, 2017

 

‘The best growth story in tech’: What Wall Street is saying about Facebook’s explosive earnings

 

Are Amazon’s Shareholders Suckers?
DEAN BAKER AND BRIAN DEW • JULY 20, 2017 • 1,300 WORDS

 

Why Hollywood Is Trying to Turn Everything Into Movies — Even Mindless Games Like ‘Fruit Ninja’

 

CULTURAL CAVIAR
Nolan’s Finest Hour
by Steve Sailer
July 26, 2017

The three stories come together in a giant set-piece encounter in the English Channel. Nolan has lowered the cognitive demands of his film by adding huge amounts of redundancy, with the same events replayed again and again from different angles until you finally understand what happened in all its cruel magnificence.

This isn’t the usual Rashomon-style retelling of a plot from conflicting perspectives. Instead, it’s more like sports broadcasting, such as showing multiple replays of that Tom Brady–to–Julian Edelman completion in this year’s Super Bowl.

Dunkirk represents redundancy lifted to an art form.

Critics have tried to position Dunkirk as anti-Brexit or anti-Trump.

 

‘Wages and wives’ are a big reason the rich are getting richer

 

 

Are You and I So Different? (2010)

Eloquent Obfuscation Expressed With ‘High Confidence’

06.15.2017

So Good:

 

The ‘Global Order’ Myth
Teary-eyed nostalgia as cover for U.S. hegemony
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • June 15, 2017

The world has changed in fundamental ways. So too has the United States. Those changes require that the principles guiding U.S. policy also change accordingly.

However ill-suited by intellect, temperament, and character for the office he holds, Trump has seemingly intuited the need for such change. In this regard, if in none other, I’m with the Donald.

But note the irony. Trump may come closer to full-fledged historical illiteracy than any president since Warren G. Harding. Small wonder then that his rejection of the mythic past long employed to preempt serious debate regarding U.S. policy gives fits to the perpetrators of those myths.

 

NBC’s Kelly Hits Putin With a Beloved Canard
To prove their chops, mainstream media stars can’t wait to go head-to-head with a demonized foreign leader, like Vladimir Putin, and let him have it, even if their “facts” are wrong, as Megyn Kelly showed
June 13, 2017
by Ray McGovern

As I noted in a Jan. 20 article about Obama’s news conference two days earlier, “Did President Barack Obama acknowledge that the extraordinary propaganda campaign to blame Russia for helping Donald Trump become president has a very big hole in it, i.e., that the US intelligence community has no idea how the Democratic emails reached WikiLeaks? For weeks, eloquent obfuscation – expressed with ‘high confidence’ – has been the name of the game, but inadvertent admissions now are dispelling some of the clouds. …

 

kILL yOURSELF

Ms. Carter, then 17, was about an hour away at the time. But she had urged him, through screen after screen of texts, to kill himself.

As a judge considers whether Ms. Carter is legally responsible for Mr. Roy’s death, the pain and dependency of two desperately unhappy teenagers have spilled into the courtroom here in excruciating detail. Both had a history of emotional instability and, in his case, four failed suicide attempts. The copious texts between the two provide a stark window into their mind-sets, and the case will probably turn on the question of whether one person’s words can cause the suicide of another.

 

A GOLDEN AGE FOR DYSTOPIAN FICTION
What to make of our new literature of radical pessimism.
BOOKS
The New Yorker
JUNE 5 & 12, 2017 ISSUE
by Jill Lepore

 

Anything goes and nothing matters:
Corinne kept ‘sliding under water’ and DeMario tried to ‘hold her up and at the same time he appeared to be having intercourse with her’

Filming on the fourth season of The Bachelor spin-off was suspended on Sunday, over allegations of misconduct.

The incident that caused Warner Bros to halt production and launch an investigation centered on a hook-up between cast members Corinne and DeMario on the first day of shooting.

DeMario admitted to performing oral sex on Corinne when she put her genitals in his face, but Corinne says she was blacked out drunk and could not have given consent, according to sources who spoke to TMZ.

 

Police Hunt For Suspects In Bronx Avocado Assault

 

Incompetence

04.19.2017

Yet compromise and negotiation with Hitler’s Germany were impossible, because the policy objectives of National Socialism were irrational and unlimited. Expansion and aggression were built into the system and, short of accepting German domination in advance, i.e. choosing not to resist the Nazi advance, war was unavoidable, sooner rather than later. Hence the central role of ideology in the formation of policy in the 1930s: if it determined the aims of Nazi Germany, it excluded realpolitik for the other side. Those who recognized that there could be no compromise with Hitler, which was a realistic assessment of the situation, did so for entirely unpragmatic reasons. They regarded fascism as intolerable on principle and a priori, or (as in the case of Winston Churchill) they were driven by an equally a priori idea of what their country and empire ‘stood for’, and could not sacrifice. The paradox of Winston Churchill was that this great romantic, whose political judgment had been almost consistently wrong on every matter since 1914 – including the assessment of military strategy on which he prided himself – was realistic on the one question of Germany.

Conversely, the political realists of appeasement were entirely unrealistic in their assessment of the situation, even when the impossibility of a negotiated settlement with Hitler became obvious to any reasonable observer in 1938-39. This was the reason for the black tragicomedy of March-September 1939, which ended in a war nobody wanted at a time and in a place nobody wanted it (not even Germany), and which actually left Britain and France without any idea of what, as belligerents, they were supposed to do, until the blitzkrieg of 1940 swept them aside. In the face of the evidence they themselves accepted, the appeasers in Britain and France still could not bring themselves to negotiate seriously for an alliance with the USSR, without which war could neither be postponed nor won, and without which the guarantees against German attack suddenly and heedlessly scattered around Eastern Europe by Neville Chamberlain – without, incredible as it may seem, consulting or even adequately informing the USSR – were waste paper.

– Eric Hobsbawm
The Age of Extremes (1994)
p.154

 

What Russia-gate Has Wrought
April 16, 2017

For five months, there was a daily drumbeat on Russia-gate, the sprawling conspiracy theory that Russia had somehow put Donald Trump in the White House, but suddenly the “scandal” disappeared.

 

Is Our Political Class Mentally Ill?
Sadistic commentators hail death and destruction
by Justin Raimondo, April 17, 2017

 

Thomas Friedman’s Perverse Love Affair With ISIS
By Adam Johnson

 

Ann Coulter: Lassie, Come Home

 

Pompeo vs. WikiLeaks: It’s No Contest
by Thomas Knapp
April 19, 2017

If I have to choose between believing WikiLeaks or believing Mike Pompeo, I’ll believe WikiLeaks six days a week and twice on Sunday.

Over the course of more than a decade, WikiLeaks has built a sterling reputation for delivering the real goods on various governments (including Russia’s). The next document it releases which is shown to be fake will be the first. WikiLeaks has earned the trust of the public – and moreover, it has shown that it trusts the public with information about what our governments are doing in our names and with our money.

The US intelligence community, on the other hand, spies on us, lies to us about it, and expects us to pick up the check even after decades of irrefutable evidence of its dishonesty and incompetence.

 

The Great Western Economic Depression

Growing economies use more energy; shrinking economies use less energy. And if the Corrupt West wasn’t using its energy-intensive war machine so regularly, the collapse in energy demand in the Western world would have been even more pronounced. No economy with flat energy demand can pretend to be growing. No economy with its interest rates set permanently at near-zero levels can pretend to be growing. Both of those preceding statements are economic tautologies. Absolute proof. Western economies are not growing because two absolutely unequivocal economic fundamentals indicate such growth to be impossible.

Vault 7

03.18.2017

A Bad Week and Getting Badder Bigly Fast

Well, of course they bugged Trump Tower. Why wouldn’t they? Trump’s big blunder du jour is that he tweeted “wiretapped,” like some hapless sap out of a 1950s I Was a Spy for the FBI movie. (I know people who still say “ice box,” too.) So he left himself — or rather poor Sean Spicer — open for a week of legalistic pettifogging by reporters acting as litigators for the Deep State’s intel corps.

Anyway, Wikileaks “Vault 7” document release earlier in the month made it clear that US intel has the ability to cover and confuse the tracks of any entity —including especially US intel itself — that ventures to penetrate any supposedly private or secure realm. And, by the way, that probably settles the matter of who “they” are. Whatever statutory restraints once existed against CIA spying on American citizens is long gone by the boards.

 

Fox’s Andrew Napolitano Stirred the Pot for Trump’s British Tempest

 

Do We Live in a Police State?
The latest WikiLeaks revelations tell us the answer is yes

by Justin Raimondo, March 10, 2017

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange would have gone down in history as the greatest enemies of government oppression of all kinds in any case, but their latest release – a comprehensive exposé of the US intelligence community’s cyberwar tools and techniques – is truly the capstone of their career. And given that this release – dubbed “Vault 7” – amounts to just one percent of the documents they intend to publish, one can only look forward to the coming days with a mixture of joyful anticipation and ominous fear.

Fear because the power of the Deep State is even more forbidding – and seemingly invincible – than anyone knew. Joyful anticipation because, for the first time, it is dawning on the most unlikely people that we are, for all intents and purposes, living in a police state.

 

The Bag Holder and His Bag
by Jim Kunstler, March 10, 2017

I think many professional observers-of-the-scene are missing something in this unspooling story: the Deep State is actually becoming more impotent and ineffectual, not omnipotent. Case in point: RussiaGate — come on, let’s finally call it that — the popular idea that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election. It’s popular because it’s such a convenient excuse for the failure of a corrupt, exhausted, and brain-dead Democratic establishment. But all the exertions of the Deep State to put over this story since last summer were negated this week by two events.

 

US Marines Deploy to Raqqa, Artillery in Tow
Intend to Offer Artillery Support for Kurdish Invasion
by Jason Ditz, March 08, 2017

Details are still scant. Officials refused to confirm the size of the unit or other details, beyond them having a number of M777 howitzers, and a support unit of infantry Marines along with them, marking the first time US artillery has been deployed into Syria.

 

Obama’s Book Deal: The $60 Million Selfie
MATTHEW STEVENSON • MARCH 3, 2017 • 3,500 WORDS

The first book earned for Obama more than $10 million in royalties and established his political identity, as did The Audacity of Hope. If later, it turned that ghostwriters had a hand in turning out one or both books, would we not feel about Obama as we do about cyclist Lance Armstrong—that he had used some of “mother’s little helpers” to get to the finish line?

Lance cheated because “everyone did it” and because seven-time winners of the Tour de France earned $100 million and rode private planes to beachside manors, while less successful domestiques (support riders) ate bananas for lunch and worked during the off-season as a wrench in a bike shop.

Would Lincoln be Lincoln if it later turned out that he had spent his early years living in a split-level suburban ranch house, playing video games after school?

Would Obama be kite-surfing off Richard Branson’s private island if his first book had sounded like a downloaded term paper?

 

Why go near the book when you can just read a thousand words by Andrew Bacevich?

Debunking America’s “Good” Occupation
The Good Occupation: American Soldiers and the Hazards of Peace, Susan L. Carruthers, Harvard University Press, 384 pages
By ANDREW J. BACEVICH • March 9, 2017

Marring this otherwise very fine book, however, are large numbers of careless errors. So, for example, Carruthers describes the Chicago Daily Tribune as part of the Hearst chain, which would come as news to the ghost of Col. Robert McCormick. She refers to George Marshall as secretary of war, a civilian post; during World War II, General Marshall served as army chief of staff. “Until 1945,” she writes, “officers were not permitted to vote.” That is simply not true. She identifies Woodrow Wilson as “an alumnus of the University of Virginia.” Wilson had diplomas from Princeton and Johns Hopkins, but none from UVA. She characterizes Eisenhower’s controversial agreement with French Admiral Jean Darlan, a representative of the puppet Vichy regime, as “Washington’s first retreat from ‘unconditional surrender.’” But the so-called Darlan Deal dates from November 1942; President Roosevelt did not announce the policy of unconditional surrender until the Casablanca Conference of January 1943. The USS Missouri, site of the final Japanese surrender, does not have “massive twin sixteen-inch guns.” Mighty Mo’s main battery consists of three cannons in each turret. The Marine Corps does not have “cadets.” Why the family and friends of a GI convicted of murdering two Japanese civilians would have “joined forces with the Foreign Legion to mobilize support” is, to put it mildly, unclear. Is Carruthers referring to the American Legion? Finally, and perhaps more egregiously, among American military decorations there is no such thing as a “Purple Cross.”