Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Fake Needs and Real Power

This is a potentially vast area which I haven't yet thought through, nor can I be sure if there's anything to my hunches, or even if I'm equipped to deal with the subject at all. So, the usual. It may turn out stupid and trivial, but whatever. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I'm just thinking out loud anyway...

It all started a couple weeks ago, wondering how Al Sharpton became wealthy and powerful. Which he is of course permitted to do in a free market economy. But it is interesting in itself that a person who devotes his life to undermining our way of life is able to enrich himself in so doing. Is that ironic or is it the whole point?

White liberals tell us that Al Sharpton is a "black leader." They should know because they created the office and gave him the job. He is purely a top-down creature of white liberals, not the product of any spontaneous, bottom-up movement. That would be such an insult to blacks that one doesn't want to go down that path.

To the extent that Sharpton has "power," it is at the pleasure of his white liberal masters. If his masters wanted to destroy him, they could do so in a nanosecond. The easiest way would be to simply turn off the camera -- as they routinely do when one of their clowns becomes an embarrassment or liability, say, Cindy Sheehan or Jonathan Edwards -- but they could also just enforce the law and put him away on charges of tax evasion.

Thomas Sowell -- well, first of all, he is not a black leader. This alone tells us what qualifies a person for the title. Remember, we're talking about white liberals, not blacks per se. If the ultimate purpose of a black leader is to make white liberals feel good about themselves, then Thomas Sowell is not fit to serve. Among other liabilities, he does not help white liberals assuage their guilt and feel morally superior to others.

Anyway, Sowell puts forth the classic view that economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses. That's all it is.

Why are resources scarce? Two main reasons, 1) reality, and 2) unreality. In other words, some things are scarce because there is a limited supply of them; but other things are scarce because the human imagination is infinite. Therefore, no matter how much we have, we can always want more: human desire will always drive scarcity, irrespective of how much abundance we have.

Another way of talking about this difference is through the concepts of absolute and relative poverty. Absolute poverty is lacking the necessities to sustain life. But relative poverty is just having less than the guy next door.

In America we have conquered absolute poverty. No one here is starving. To the contrary, our poor tend not only to be obese, but to suffer first world diseases of affluence such as type II diabetes. Consider what Sharpton himself looked like before he did whatever he did to make himself look like an emaciated hippo, with all that extra skin.

Probably the one thing that animates leftists above all else is "income inequality." This is another case of "infinite desire," since we have already achieved equality under the law. That was the original goal of liberals, and in that important sense, I am the same liberal I have always been.

But remember what was said above about economics and scarcity. If there is no "scarcity" of legal equality, then the "civil rights leaders" have nothing to sell; or, what they had been selling is worthless, because now there is an abundance of it.

Therefore, to stay in business, a new form of scarcity must be discovered and promoted -- no different from any other company that must invent new products and innovations to stay in business. So, instead of equality, they began selling income inequality; instead of justice, social justice.

With this shift, they assured that they would never again be threatened with going out of business, because they essentially elevated desire -- which is again infinite -- to right -- with the unfortunate consequence that human desire enlists the power of the state to satiate itself.

This then leads to an arms race in the so-called "war on poverty." Probably few people realize that when LBJ first proposed the idea, it was with the promise that this would under no circumstances become the institutionalization of a welfare state. Rather, this would be different, maybe lasting for a generation, just to get a few economic stragglers over the hump.

But, desire being infinite, poverty is always relative, so "the poor will always be with us." But now they serve as political pawns for retrobates such as Obama or Ted Kennedy or Elizabeth Warren to acquire real power.

So the poor have great power. What is interesting is that the left doesn't want them to think they have any personal power in the conventional sense. Rather, they want them to believe the opposite: that they have no power -- that, in the words of Obama, white mans' greed rules a world in need.

So, how is the powerless power of poor people converted to the real political power of the left? Again, it can't have to do with real scarcity, but must flow from the infinite imagination.

Analogously, think of how the power of a battery is the result of its positive and negative polarity. Just so, the power of the left is a function of the polarity between desire and world, or between what I have and what I want. It is as close to a perpetual motion machine as we'll ever have, but in so doing turns the gift of the soul's infinitude into a perpetual liability. It places envy at the center, which is to confuse the parasite with the host.

To be continued...


Blogger mushroom said...

Jonathan Edwards -- Gruber?

How many people remember "Sunshine"?

But I think "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is still on the charts.

12/03/2014 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Why are resources scarce? Two main reasons, 1) reality, and 2) unreality.

If only we could get more people to grasp this concept.

Sharpton really did look better fat. Did he, perhaps, have a stroke or something? He just ain't right.

12/03/2014 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Magister said...

"Fake needs" sounds like Bourdieu ("distinction"), Girard ("mimetic desire"), Zizek ("ideology"), Deleuze/Guatarri ("desiring machine") ... all the so-called postmoderns.

All of them boil down to the concept of mimetic desire: that is, we come to desire by imitation. We observe other people's ways of desiring, and what they desire, and we imitate that.

We have difficulty understanding ourselves in a society that hammers us constantly with all manner of wares (physical and spiritual). We have difficulty therefore in identifying our own needs and desires. So much comes second-hand.

That is one reason why Christian faith is ebbing in the West. All the devil has to do is wave something shiny and show us all the other people gadding after it. We are too insecure to resist and soon mistake their desires for our own.

12/03/2014 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

If his masters wanted to destroy him, they could do so in a nanosecond.

Yes, just so. In such a way, we see the hammer coming down on Cosby. Granted, he was never one of their darlings, but for whatever reason he was granted a pass all these years. While I don't know the truth behind all the allegations, even at the mildest (carrying on with multiple women while projecting the image of a decent, family-oriented and conservative man) none of it reflects well on him. At worst, he really is monstrous. BUT - we already know the media and the left (but I repeat myself) don't care about this stuff when their guys do it, and will happily sweep everything under the rug so long as the public figure in question plays for their team. The only real question about Cosby's outing is, why is he being thrown under the bus now, instead of years ago? I'm cynical enough to wonder whether it isn't as an example to anybody else who might be in a position to step on the wrong toes.

12/03/2014 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Magister - the place where I meet for Bible study is one of those megachurches that looks more like a concert venue than anything else. Today they were advertising for their upcoming family Christmas extravaganza, followed by a preview of an actual concert they're hosting soon. Talk about waving something shiny!

I realize that for many people, this is how they are reached, and I sort of get why it appeals to them. I'm sure my kids would love it if I brought them to the show. At the same time, I had to contain my gag reflex.

It occurred to me at some point this morning that the phenomenon of megachurches and contemporary worship, which draws all of its appeal from the same sources as mass media (rock concerts and live sketch comedy), isn't all that different from when the Jews looked around and saw that everyone else had a king, and so they wanted one, too. Everyone else gets to be cool, why can't Christians be cool, too?

The sad thing is, this may bring in the crowds but it's exactly as cool and dignified as the aging rockstar belting out tunes about teenage angst. Or Madonna flashing her boobs.


He finds us, wherever we are...

12/03/2014 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should know because they created the office and gave him the job. He is purely a top-down creature of white liberals, not the product of any spontaneous, bottom-up movement. That would be such an insult to blacks that one doesn't want to go down that path.

Um, you just implied that blacks are so stupid they can't pick their own leaders, or tell real from fake (so they need you to do it). But thanks for all the sensitivity!

12/03/2014 02:01:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

As I said, I would not impute something so vile to an entire race.

12/03/2014 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

And by "vile," I mean looking up to the likes of Al Sharpton. Sharpton speaks for the left, not for blacks.

12/03/2014 02:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Cap'n Obvious said...

That white liberals crowned Sharpton their Zulu King tells you all you need to know about what they really think about blacks, i.e., the depth of their contempt.

12/03/2014 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger EbonyRaptor said...

Anonymous said "Um, you just implied that blacks are so stupid they can't pick their own leaders, or tell real from fake (so they need you to do it). But thanks for all the sensitivity!"

How you can read that into what Bob wrote speaks volumes about you.

12/03/2014 02:34:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm reminded of something else that occurred to me today. I wonder if it's possible for an entire culture to have Munchausen by Proxy syndrome?

12/03/2014 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So who are the authentic black leaders that you have decided are right for the black community? I'm sure they are eagerly awaiting your council.

Oh right, Thomas Sowell. I can feel the groundswell of support.

12/03/2014 02:54:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Munchausen by Proxy

That's an excellent question, and I think the answer is, Yes.

It's not stupidity. The whole point Bob was making was about people being sold the unreal and being told everywhere they turn that all this bad stuff -- crime, poverty, violence, conflict -- is caused by the oppression of a bunch of white people living out in the suburbs.

The truth is that it is caused by lifestyle choices as basic as out-of-wedlock pregnancies. Which brings us back to Bill Cosby who fell out of favor for saying that.

12/03/2014 02:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I can't imagine why blacks should not turn to Bill Cosby for moral guidance. He quite fits into the William Bennett mold of conservative scold.

12/03/2014 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

" who are the authentic black leaders?"

There are none, just as there are no white leaders. There are liberals, who want to be led, and there are the rest of us, who prefer liberty. It's not an issue of race, but of ideology.

12/03/2014 03:29:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

It's why the left freaked out about the "government shutdown," while the rest of us didn't even notice.

12/03/2014 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Interestingly, most of the early "black leaders," such as Booker T. Washington, were freedom-loving liberals who encouraged independence and self-improvement, quite the opposite of state-sponsored grievance peddlers such as Sharpton:

"There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs — partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs."

12/03/2014 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not only is it a huge industry, but it is truly a kind of crony capitalism, since the state is what makes it so profitable. But it's worth it to the state, because they get votes in return...

12/03/2014 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Yep. Speaking of Munchausen by proxy...

12/03/2014 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Sowell on why members of congress perpetuate the lies about Michael Brown:

"Oh, for political reasons. I thought of Joseph Goebbels' doctrine, people will believe any lie if it's repeated often enough and loud enough. They're repeating it often enough and loud enough. And it will pay off for them personally and politically. People who are out to forward their political careers say and do things that have no relationship whatever to reality or to anybody else's interests but their own. I think what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, it is going to adversely affect blacks yet unborn who will still be paying the price for it 10, 20 years from now because you're not going to have businesses there that you had before. I've seen this happen in other cities. Detroit, is a classic example. Harlem. You run through the whole list of them. A city doesn't get over this kind of stuff in a few years."

12/03/2014 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A map of the state-media-academia-entertainment complex. Each is just a reflection of the other, which explains how it is that Obama is the Kardashian in chief.

12/03/2014 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Appropriately, at the other end of the spectrum is food, energy, and housing -- you know, the things people actually need to live.

12/03/2014 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

But they also need meaning, which is what the cult of the left provides its victims.

12/03/2014 04:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Good thing our ancestors had no use for leaders:

"Our ancestors did not much like being told what to do, and we — and the world — are immeasurably richer and happier for that....

"They were just a little bit more free — and a little bit more determined to be free — and that little bit made an incalculable difference, not only to them, but to the world.

"They built something remarkable. And the idiot children of the Left are today cheering those who would literally burn it down, in Ferguson and elsewhere."

12/03/2014 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

Gagdad said "There are none, just as there are no white leaders. There are liberals, who want to be led, and there are the rest of us, who prefer liberty. It's not an issue of race, but of ideology."

Exactly. And as you said, it's why at each threat of a govt shutdown the lefties shriek "Nooo!!! OMG What will we do without leaders to tell us what to do!!!"

I work in Ferguson now, had a fireside seat for the latest biz roasting... so very sad. Went to lunch today on the main drag, several newsie types still hanging around with their camera men, lunching in their blackberrys. Just a block down, all the businesses are fronted with plywood, now painted in festive swirls and the desperately cheerful 3' letters "We're Open For Business!!!"

The real people of the community are being gagged and presented in total Munchausen by Proxy syndrome mode by the leftedia, while trying so hard to say "I'm not dead yet! "

But you know the next line in the Python gag.

12/03/2014 05:50:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"With this shift, they assured that they would never again be threatened with going out of business, because they essentially elevated desire -- which is again infinite -- to right -- with the unfortunate consequence that human desire enlists the power of the state to satiate itself."

And in so doing, destroying life, liberty and personal property.

Desire can be very destructive and expensive. Particularly when it gets to the point of selling one's soul to gain the world they are so eager to destroy.

And by what authority are desires elevated to rights?
Why, the authority of the god of Envy and Greed that those on the left worship.

12/03/2014 06:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Black lives matter, except the ones murdered by blacks.

12/03/2014 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I believe blacks are about 100 times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by police officers. Which makes you wonder: why aren't blacks as afraid of young black men (who commit most of the murders) as anyone else with rudimentary logic and common sense? I'm sure they are, but they just don't talk about it (or no one listens to them).

12/03/2014 06:27:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"This is what we call Smart Power, using every possible tool…leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems [and] determine a solution, that is what we believe in the 21st century will change the prospect for peace."

Yes, we just gotta empathize with Iran's desire (and the terrorstinians) to wipe Israel off the map.
I'm sure smart power can negotiate a reasonable middle ground with the Jihadists.

12/03/2014 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye Bob. And we have seen what the troubled youts do to black businesses, even the black business owners who back their cause.

It's very telling that the leftist media refuse to cover the black patriots that are defending businesses including the ones owned by whites.
Doesn't fit their victim hood narrative. How dare those blacks do something good and not rely on the State that helped caused the destruction to begin with.

12/03/2014 06:36:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I had to get that book by Dr. Sowell. It's my Christmas present to me. Using Bob's Amazon link, natch. :)

Man, I wish Thomas Sowell was President. Can't blame him for not running though.

12/03/2014 06:40:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I pray you stay safe, Van. Hopefully you can avoid all the protester road blocks as well. It would really suck to be stuck in traffic for hours because of those idiots.

12/03/2014 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The real purpose of a riot isn’t to benefit the rioters. It’s to benefit those who incite the riot. The rioters and looters react in response to riot-friendly conditions created from above. If you build the political infrastructure for a riot, the rioters and looters will come."

Dan Greenfield

12/03/2014 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The American justice system is not broken.

12/04/2014 07:21:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Iz'll give you this, anonymous, at least you are consistent. Consistently racist, that is.

12/04/2014 07:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Say What? said...

Anon, did you have a point?

12/04/2014 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

A stupid liberal law gets a man killed and liberals wanna blame whitey rather than their own inherent tyranny.
But hey, at least they stopped evil tobacco.

12/04/2014 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A guy finally gets killed over cigarettes, and liberals complain about it. Some people just can't be satisfied.

12/04/2014 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

How Not to Get Shot by the Police. It's pretty complicated. If your IQ is below 50 or 60.

12/04/2014 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I'm looking at a sign from a "Justice for Eric Garner" protest:

"Down with capitalist austerity and police terror!"

As if "capitalists" give a crap if some guy sells individual cigarettes, and as if police union protectionism isn't a big part of the problem.

12/04/2014 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

But yeah, generally speaking that's a pretty comprehensive list for not getting shot by cops. Lots of white people get shot by cops, too, and it's almost always because they break at least one of those rules.

12/04/2014 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Notably, white people don't riot when it happens, no matter what race the shooting cop was, and no matter how big of a news story it is.

12/04/2014 07:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

My son knows he'll get no sympathy from me if he acts as stupidly as Garner or Brown. Although, such behavior would constitute undeniable feedback that I had failed as a parent, so maybe I'd just shoot myself.

12/04/2014 08:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Liberal Geneyus said...

If we just outlaw Hawaiin Punch that will stop people from getting killed by Hawaiin Privilege!

12/04/2014 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Julie said...
Notably, white people don't riot when it happens, no matter what race the shooting cop was, and no matter how big of a news story it is."

And it's a privilege to do so. Not riot that is.

12/04/2014 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Note that leftists always insist that if a system isn't perfect it must be broken. Then they do things that make it far worse since they cannot make anything perfect, except for nonsense, they have perfected that.

12/04/2014 08:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Skully said...

Usually lefties throw the baby out with the bathwater before they are born.

12/04/2014 08:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Typical Lefty said...

Abortion = good.

Selling cigarettes = evil.

12/04/2014 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

VDH has a good article about the breakdown of the rule of law, here.

12/04/2014 08:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, you guys loudly proclaim your independence from the state and government, and also favorably cite an article that tells black people they have to dress a certain way to avoid being murdered by agents of the state.

You people have absolutely no self-awareness, do you? It must take a lot of effort to maintain this degree of utter cluelessness.

12/04/2014 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Actually, it's good information for pretty much all people, regardless of pigment, for avoiding getting shot by the cops. I plan to impart that knowledge to my kids just as soon as they're old enough to understand it. Especially my son, who is currently extremely fond of pointing pretend guns at pretty much everything that moves, including neighboring vehicles while we drive down the road.

As to the "independence from state and government" bit, maybe you should try smoking less crack? Pretty sure nobody here is in favor of that.

State and government have their places. The problems come when they exceed their limits, and refuse to be bound by the rule of law. This is true of both presidents and police officers, except that when presidents do it the results affect pretty much everyone, whereas individual cops can only oppress so many people per day.

12/04/2014 11:31:00 AM  

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