brain plasticity and biocultural niche:
the evolutionary context of Trump's response to COVID 19:
Donald Trump and the end of literacy
the big picture: how far back must we go to understand "Trump"?

Youtube now makes it possible to closely analyze thousands of performances of political theater, including the various manifestations of the Tea Party beginning in 2009 (for some of these see Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense).  But there is more than politics, more than cognitive development, that is at issue here.  Are we entering a postmodern dark age, and are the debt-ceiling crisis and recent cognitive assessments moments in the unfolding of such a postmodern dark age?  The Enlightenment presupposition of the rational individual in a market economy--of the Cartesian self as the ontological foundation of society--can no longer be seriously entertained. (Neither can neoliberalism's two other main shibboleths--that markets are magic and institutions don't matter.)

Figure at the right, KE in New Deal, should be placed in the context provided by the time-line above.

Human beings were never born to read
from Maryanne Wolf, Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World (HarperCollins, 2018), pp. 1-2

Human beings were never born to read.  The acqusition of literacy is one of the most important epigenetic achievements of Homo sapiens.  . . .  The act of learning to read added an entirely new circuit to our hominid brain's repertoire.  The long developmental process of learning to read deeply and well changed the very structure of that circuit's connections, which rewired the brain, which transformed the nature of human thought. 

from Daniel Dor and Eva Jablonka, “Why we need to move from gene-culture co-evolution to culturally driven co-evolution," in The Social Origins of Language, p. 22

. . . the cultural technologies of reading and writing seem to have extended human memory, enabled abstract chains of reasoning, and guided new ways of scanning visual items, thus making human[s] even more cognitively plastic.


the cognitive implications of literacy
from David R. Olsen, "History of Writing, History of Rationality," in Eurasia at the Dawn of History (Cambridge, 2016)

Quotes Ong: "Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does. . . .  More than any other single invention, writing has transformed human consciousness." (48)

David R. Olsen, The Mind on Paper: Reading, Consciousness, and Rationality (Cambridge, 2016)

to understand the cognitive implications of literacy it is also necessary to see writing not only as a tool for solving problems but rather as a generalized means or medium for repesentation and communication that give rise to those unique forms of human competence we in modern society define as intelligence and rationality.

from David R. Olsen, "History of Writing, History of Rationality," in Eurasia at the Dawn of History (Cambridge, 2016)

Quotes Ong: "Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does. . . .  More than any other single invention, writing has transformed human consciousness." (48)

from Almudena Herndando, "The Impact of Social Differentiation on Identity," in Eurasia at the Dawn of History

Research on the contrast between orality and literacy unanimously confirms that writing individualizes people. . . .  writing allows subjects to establish abstract, more rational connections with phenomena outside their own personal experience, whereas in oral societies only that which can be experienced in person may be processed as part of reality." (58)


prerequisite to understanding "trump": the 2nd copernican revolution
Elementary particles and associated comments, lists, transcripts, remembrances of things past (civic republicanism 1933-1943: Bildung  + חֻצְפָ), cognitive regimes, intersubjectivity and shared intentionality, proximal processes, biocultural niche (Schiller Hall, Fox News, MSNBC), brain plasticity, cognitive performativity*, paranoid-schizoid position (the sado-sexual eigenvector of “Trump” performativities: ressentiment and the mechanisms of defense), the depressive position ("liberalism": nihilism, nietzsche, and you), the lynching for rape discourse, herding primates: semiotic regimes, patrimonialilism and the fundamental incompetence** of the Trump regime. fascism.

Deep structure of ressentiment and the precarious cultural-historical achievements of “civilization”: defining barbarism (while being mindful of James C. Scott’s discussion of the “barbarians” in Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States (Yale, 2017)).  The collapse of a civilization in the context of advanced capitalism; regression to primate; collapse of cognitive performativity across the board by one order of magnitude* in post-Fordist USA; the journalism of disintegration (Who Killed the Knapp Family? NYT 1-9-20);  hapless liberalism . . .  and more.  The show goes on.

Now we are witness to a patrimonial bacchanale and the wholesale destruction of the rational-bureaucratic organizations of government that continues unabated.***  

 * see Measures of Cognitive Performativity  The gap between Obama and Trump is two orders of magnitude.  Cognitive performativity is context-dependent (as Ceci speculated twenty years ago).  Emotional overload short-circuits complex thought.  More.
Also see Proximal Processes
** the fundamental incompetence of the Trump regime, a regime of schmoozers, hucksters, operatives, marginal real estate and gambling, financial operatives  of a preadatory not productive significance. Modern capitalism's cultural-historical intersubjective discursive field, the formal-operational systems thinking of modern management (Keynesian elite, Committee for Economic Development and more), is far beyond Trump's  . . .   
***(Marie Yovanovitch says State Department 'being hollowed out from within' (UPI November 15, 2019).  Statement from leader of federal vaccine agency about his reassignment (April 22, 2020)


the implosion of neo-liberal "society"

Above figure is point of departure.  Notice the interval from the Reformation to the New Deal.  The development of print literacy is not simply another skill tacked on to an unproblematic concept of the individual as Cartesian self.  it involved a revolutionary supra-organization of the mind as biocultural historical pehnomoneon, not as a property of the individual.  I provide excerpts from 5 or six of scholarly, and one literary, formulation and explication of this phennomienon, which is utterly foundational, 
and central to modernity and modernization.[Siegel and Siegel]

Science is embedded in this supra-organizational field

What we are now engulfed in is the implosion of neo-liberal "society."  The term "society" is bracketed because, in the conventional use of the term, an ontological stability is implied, whereas in reality this society is in the process of blowing its brains out, and that along four axes of ontological catastrophe. The historical process that generated the election of Donald Trump and the subsequent destruction of the rational-bureaucratic state cannot be easily characterized, but I will give it a shot.

•First, the disintegration of the cognitive performativities of modernity itself: the "human" side of "capital." (decognification, disindividuation; Trump's rhetorical performances seen from the standpoint of literacy and cognition as contingent not normative, fleeting in their time of promise (the Gutenberg parentheisis).  In the figure above

•Second, the explosion of fascist performativities within the orbit of the GOP (Robert O. Paxton, Anatomy of Fascism: "The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism.").

•Third, the assault on rational-bureaucratic institutions--i.e., an assault on the very idea of science-based professionalism and public service.

•Fourth, the triumph of nihilism (Nietzsche).  Some call this neoliberal subjectivity; I sometimes call it the incredible shrinking self.  The Democratic Party, once the party of bildung, is now the party of nihilism.



Our World in Data

A History of Reading and Writing in the Western World (Palgrave macmillan 2020)



E.P Thompson

_____ Chase, The Chartists

Trump is the apotheosis of the GOP's core performativities.  In this sense there  is nothing new.  But what is new with the Trump campaign--and decisively so--is that a non-charismatic demagogue has literally hijacked the base of the Republican Party.  The genetic ontology of ressentiment produces a subject.  But that subject--the Trump enthusiasts one sees at rallies and in interviews and focus groups--has been embedded in the cultural-historical field of the biocultural niche denoted by "white" supremacy (see The Imus Brouhaha and that which is called "Racism").  The containment of white rage has depended on two things.  First, an economy of white affirmative action guaranteeing great masses of "white" folk sole access to those sectors of employment embedded in local government (police, fire, govt administration, utilities, transportation, building services, construction, and even manufacturing).  And second, a semioitic regime of ego-reinforcing symbols (positive and negative identifications).  When you add the election of Barak Obama to the economic consequences of the regime of neoliberal globalization (which includes declining wages as well as job losses) you add insult to injury, and one gets a psycho-cultural crackup of world-historic proportions.  This is what Trump exploits.

Until now, the activity of provincial, archaic and traditional elites (Mayer, Persistence of the Old Regime), together with newer firms in the west and south and newly emergent crony capitalist formations (Enron, World Com), and a whole new set of predatory financial institutions played a critical role in the politicization of ressentiment. (NYT Ch. of Commerce)

The activity of these old and new elites, in aiding and abetting the construction of the political structures of mass mobilization (Town Hall meetings), is decisive in determining the political effectiveness of anti-modern right wing movements, which otherwise might languish in a populist stew of ineffectual rage. (Dallas 1963, Red Scare; Moore, The War on Heresy)  But they do not call into existence these ontologies of ressentiment, of the right, of anti-modernism.  They merely utilize and shape them.  (See Right-wing Elites in the Postwar era.)

However, this utilization and shaping was mediated by the locally-based GOP organizational apparatus, which itself was embedded in the provincial cultures of town and county.  (Michael W. Miles, The Odyssey of the American Right, 1980; The Kansas Experiment, New York Times August 5, 2015).)  This laid the groundwork for the radical shift to the right--e.g., the debt-ceiling crisis, in which a loathsome babbittry of ambitious opportunists seized hold of the Atwater-Lacan signifying chain and intensified its sado-sexual character in a successful process of self-advancement in which the noun primary became the verb to be primaried.  This prepared the ground for the next stage of this process of the mobilization of ressentiment: the takeover of the so-called base (the herd animal of the right) by a political outsider who in fact was and is perfectly suited to the task he accomplished.  Donald Trump seized the herd and led it in a rampage over the political landscape.  In so doing he and his relationship to his herd (which once belonged to the GOP "establishment") embody a new reality now being investigated by scholars: the patrimonialism of highly developed post-modern societies (see links at the right.)
racism itself is a complex phenomenon involving (1) a specific genetic ontology of the subject (ressentiment and the mechanisms of defense--paranoid-schizoid position) embedded in (2) an associated milieu (habitus—IMUS) resulting in (3) a metastable configuration of cognitive and characterological performativity.  That is, the term racism, which in use is more of an epithet than a concept, points the problematic of the emergence of specific ontological modalities and their relationship to neighorhood, state, and media.  (see Bronfenbrenner diagram)POWER



--you may ask, How could the entire apparatus of the rational-bureaucratic state be taken over by the hodge podge of mostly bit players (the provincial part of gop business and their political flunkies

This election result was decades in the making. On the one hand, a variety of fascist and ultra-nationalist currents worldwide found fertile soil in the displaced and discarded "white" populations that were the enormous if unintended by-product of post-industrial capitalism's truly explosive development. On the other hand, the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt, which in its heyday (1935-1947) understood and attempted to deal with this underlying dynamic of human capital liquidation and the need for a global trading regime that was subservient to the objective of national development--this party, over a period of decades, ceased to be.

The remnants of that party of FDR (Bernie, Sherood Brown) were eliminated by the Clinton revolution--the taking over of the Democratic Party by the forces arrayed around the Democratic Leadership Council. In place of the social democratic orientation of yesteryear,and more, general systems orientation

we got globalization uber alles. In place of an appeal to working class needs and recognition of the life experience of working people, we got, in this election, an appeal to college-educated women, a variety of life-style groups, and minorities. Democratic surrogates and media talking heads actually showed contempt for those stupid white people who lived, for example, in my state of Michigan.

Now those chickens have come home to roost. I saw this coming. Michael Moore saw this coming. Polls presuppose a certain underlying existential stability. The polls were wrong because the ground had shifted (and the cartesian trap exposed).

But also consider the role played by the Democratic Party in producing this electoral result: In place of an appeal to working class needs and recognition of the life experience of working people, we got, in this election, an appeal to college-educated women, a variety of life-style groups, and minorities. Democratic surrogates and media talking heads actually showed contempt for those stupid white people who lived, for example, in my state of Michigan.

Racism is real but also mutable, a psychological resource exploited by right-wing politicians but dependent on context: globalization, and the failure of the Democrats to address this existential threat to my rust belt neighbors.

The four axes of ontological catastrophe can be placed in historical contexts.  Instead of the great dream of the Enlightenment that was the core sensibility of Progressivism (the New Deal), Socialism (Scandanavian Social Democracy), and Communism, we have:

a. the wreckage not only of socialism but more broadly of Progressivism, of the entire cultural-historical self-formative project (Bildung) that grew out of the Enlightenment and gave us the Russian revolution, Scandinavian Social Democracy, and the American New Deal.  Bildunsproletarians and plebeian upstarts

b. the persistence of the political culture, psychological dispositions and praxiological modalities of ressentiment (the inner life of racism and fascism)

c. the triumph of nihilism as the socio-cultural engineering project of global corporate networks of unimaginable reach and power, generating an entropic process of disindividuation.  Mass consumption as a mode of absorption and transformation of the organism.  The fiction of freedom, the subversion of individuation, the inner logic of addiction, the commodification of distress, the infantilization of public discourse . . . in short, the dissipation of the species homo sapiens sapiens into a proliferation of effects.  DSM-V as the operating manual of the post-human ontology.  The incredible shrinking self.  This is the new Democratic party  whose rhetorical vector is liberal not progressive
deal with cognitive and emotional processes.  Such processes are central to human existence.  The brutishness in language and behavior that are the chief characteristics of Trump's mass-oriented performances must be understood as manifestations of something of great ontological significance.  The sado-sexual eigenvector of “Trump” performativities goes back to the Know-Nothing roots of the GOP (Gniepp), later 19th century anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic political rhetoric, the lynching for rape discourse, the southern strategy, and the infamous Willie Horton episode in George H.W. Bush’s 1988 campaign.  Trump's performance coming down the stairs ("They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.") and the plaint of one of his supporters ("He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting)" should be placed in this broader context.

The herd, psuedo-speciation, The ontologically indeterminate nature of homo sapiens as cultural-historical primate, the historicity and enormously complex variability of really existing humans, all of which unfolds in the post-biological era (Dupre; Nietzsche); or, the Quantum Heterogeneity of Dasein.

two commentaries on Victor Nell, "Cruelty’s rewards: The gratifications of perpetrators and spectators," Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006) 29, 211–257

1.  from Mika Haritos-Fatouros, “Cruelty: A dispositional or a situational behavior in man?” Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006) 29, p.230

The basic question remains, however: How far are aggression, violence, and cruelty in humans today the result of predisposition factors, or biological or archetypal processes, and how far are they the result of cognitive/emotional processes evoked by situational factors?

2.  from Albert Bandura, “A murky portrait of human cruelty,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2006) 29, p. 225

At the macrosocial level, Nell greatly exaggerates the prevalence of human cruelty.  There exist wide intercultural differences representing both warring and pacific societies with large intracultural variations and even rapid transformation of warring societies into peaceful ones.   

the performative complex of the Southern strategy

*from Dan T. Carter, From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counterrevolution, 1963-1994 (Louisiana State U. Press, 1996), pp. 8-9.

The depth of Wallace’s racism—the degree to which it was part of his core beliefs—was always unclear.  He sometimes manifested an air of apologetic cynicism; when forced to break away from informal gatherings because of a speaking engagement, he would often turn to his friends and ask to be excused with a sheepish grin and a half-embarassed explanation: “I got to give ‘em a little nigger talk.”

Seymour Wolfbein, a Labor Department expert in the Kennedy administration, was convinced it was all an act. . . .  Wolfbein found Wallace fascinating and amusing, but hardly sinister, a kind of roguish political con man eager to let him in on the joke.

When confronted with the question of whether Wallace was “sincere” in his racial views, a Montgomery attorney who knew the governor well said it best.  “If George had parachuted into the Albanian countryside in the spring of 1962,” reflected John Kohn, one of Wallace’s advisers in the 1960s, “he would have been head of the collective farm by harvesttime, a member of the Communist Party by midwinter, on his way to the district party meeting as a delegate by the following year, and a member of the Comintern in two or three years.”  George, said Kohn, “could beieve whatever he needed to believe.”

Youtube now makes it possible to closely analyze thousands of performances of political theater, including the various manifestations of the Tea Party beginning in 2009 (for some of these see Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense).  But there is more than politics, more than cognitive development, that is at issue here.  Are we entering a postmodern dark age, and are the debt-ceiling crisis and recent cognitive assessments moments in the unfolding of such a postmodern dark age?  The Enlightenment presupposition of the rational individual in a market economy--of the Cartesian self as the ontological foundation of society--can no longer be seriously entertained. (Neither can neoliberalism's two other main shibboleths--that markets are magic and institutions don't matter.)

This assumption of an already formed and unproblematic character is a staple of modern liberalism*BOOK (of which Marxism, as I will argue later, is only a variant).  This page is based on the opposite assumption (and on the work of William Calvin, etc. REF): that an extraodinarily rapid phase of post-biological development (or evolution by mans  other than genetic--cultural) (cultural evolution) man is a bridge.html  -- the uncertaintly of its further development, the pssbliity of regression, the fundamental role of the state (euphemistically refered to as th public sector) in the development of huan capital; Bildung; what next?

Stephen J. Ceci, On Intelligence: A Bioecological Treatise on Intellectual Development (Harvard, 1996)

 . . . it is time to ask about the nature of the resources responsible for intellectual growth.  . . . .  In a recent article Uri Bronfenbrenner and I proposed specific mechanisms of organism-environment interaction, called proximal processes, through which genetic potentials for intelligence are actualized.  We described research evidence from a variety of sources demonstrating that proximal processes operate in a variety of settings throughout the life-course (beginning in the family and continuing in child-care settings, peer groups, schools, and work places), and account for more of the variation in intellectual outcome than the environmental contexts (e.g., family structure, SES, culture) in which these proximal processes take place.  Proximal processes refer to sustained interactions between a developing organism and the persons, symbols, and activities in its immediate environment.  To be effective, these processes must become progressively more complex and interactive over time." 244-5

Jerome Bruner (1997), "Celebrating Divergence: Piaget and Vygotsky," Human Development, 40(2), 63–73.

the political construction of identity

from Joseph E. Lowndes, From the New Deal to the New Right: Race and the Southern Origins of Modern Conservatism (Yale Univesity Press, 2008)

Politics is not merely the realm where preexisting interests, grievances, and passions are given expression.  Rather, it is in and through politics that interests, grievances, and passions are forged and new collective identities created.  Backlash, the ideological cornerstone and justification for modern conservatism, masks what was a long-term process whereby various groups in different places and times attempted to link racism, anti-government populism, and economic conservatism into a discourse and institutional strategy through linguistic appeals, party-building, social movement organizing, and the exercise of state power.  In the process, the very interests and self-understanding of these groups were continually under construction as they moved from coalition to collective political identity.  As opposed to being entrenched and traditionalist (or reactionary, depending on one's politics),  the Right that developed is better viewed as contingent, mobile, and highly adaptive, constantly responding to changing conditions on the ground. 4-5
What is exceptional in regard to Ressentiment is not its presence in the contemporary American scene.  Ressentiment is civilization's evil twin.  It accompanies the rise of the state, and persists with greater force and effect into the twenty first century than anyone--except Nietzsche--thought possible. Ressentiment is the deep structure of the real, a fundamental element in the making of the West. 

Ressentiment emerged as an adaptive response to the discipline imposed by power in the first civilizations.  According to Nietzsche, ressentiment is more than simply a form of adaptation of an otherwise intact organism to power.  Ressentiment is the chief characteristic of “natures that, denied the true reaction, that of deeds, compensate themselves with an imaginary revenge.”  (Bernstein 102)  It is a fundamental reconfiguring of the organism, an alteration of Being, a transformation of Becoming.  It is something new, contrary to the existence of hunter-gatherers.  It is a particular type of Being that is the characteristic element of the age of ressentiment: the age of civilization and the state.

This adaptive response is empirically and clinically developed in psychoanalysis's concept of the mechanisms of defense.  (And is one way of thinking of eternal reccurence.)

What makes the United States exceptional in regard to the question of ressentiment is twofold. 
First, America is the home of by far the most deep, widespread and conservative religious belief in the Western world (Levien, below)--an ontological-demongraphic uniqueness.

And second, the way in which ressentiment has been mobilized and integrated intopisas the Republican Party (Edsall) has led to an unintended systems effect: taken together, the war on reason and science and the war on the public sector is having a powerful effect not merely on the sphere of public discourse, but on the process of cognitive development itself.

The dramatic divergence in cognitive performativity, as seen in figure 1, between the United States and the modern nations included in the PISA reports (among which the U.S. can no longer be counted*), is the signal although unintended result of the enormous success of the Right in undermining the very conditions for the development of modern, educated citizens.  The subversion of cognitive development in the United States is the great achievement of the right-wing in America.
I do not know to what extent this miltidimensional enlightenment continued in the nations of western Europe.  Certainly it seems to have weakened.  But in the United States it has been virtually destroyed, as the current state of public media, politics, and education will testify.  All the huffing and puffing about our educational crisis is itself not merely a symptom of that decline; it is also an active force driving that decline even further (Watch CNN and MSNBC to see what I mean).  One can say with confidence that the socio-cultural-political forces key to the creation of modern minds, having developed over two and a half centuries, can hardly be recovered by some blue ribbon committee, the posturing of a Bill Gates, the demonization of teachers' unions, the implementing of a punitive regime of testing, and the predation of financial entrepreneurs in education.  For the United states, the enormous success of reaction in breaking the backbone of the enlightement as a cultural force has just begun to be felt.  Figure 1 is prelude, a lagging indicator, of cognitive decline.  What has been set in motion by the forces of reaction has an unstoppable momentum. One can see that for decades down the road the United States will continue to decline.  Charles Murray's sequel to The Bell Curve (Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010) applies his racist methdology to the white working class, ignoring all of modern social science, focusing instead on the moral failings of non-elites whites.  While taking note of the growth of narcissism among poor whites, he views it not as a major cultural trajectory of modern capitalism (see Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture), but as the moral failings of a newly designated underclass.  (see comment in WSJ article above by Jim Capatelli)
Until recently it was assumed that somehow cognitive development would keep pace with scientific, technological, and organizational change.  Increased demand from employers and institutions could somehow take for granted that the modern minds neccesary for modern work would be produced by modern society.      

Not so, Figure 1 suggests.  Far from being a natural and inevitable development, higher-order cognitive performativities are products of civilization and public policy, of cultural and social evolution, and of individual socialization.   Not only are such performativities not inevitable in their development, they are downright fragile.  This is because cognitive development is a subjective, conflict-laden process.  Outcomes are sensitive to a whole range of conditions of which socioeconomic variables, while important, miss much that is critical in the shaping, obstructing, and perverting of cognitive development among modern humans in postindustrial societies. (Ceci, OECD)

Figures 1 and 2 suggest that there are different developmental pathways for different subgroups of the world’s population.  These developmental pathways are systems-related restraints and inducements operating on the levels of psychology, culture, history and political economy.  It is within such systems processes that minds are formed.  It is this systems approach that renders intelligible the actual process of cognitive development and intellectual performance, as well as the enormous developmental consequences of different configurations of inputs related to different socio-cultural and political-economic settings. 

Thus, the divergence in test scores between Asia and northwestern Europe and the United States is more than just a “learning gap.”  The socio-cultural context of cognitive development in the advanced capitalist countries is sufficiently divergent to generate radically different levels and types of cognitive competence as well as outright decognification. 

Instead of a cognitively homogeneous citizenry, there is a developmental divergence and fundamental differences in cognitive functioning among different historically and sociologially defined subgroups of the population.  These subgroups can be defined by the nature of their cognitive-linguistic practice, including inventories of basic expressions and rhetorical maneuvers, such as are seen in the Youtube videos of the Palin and McCain rallies, Tea Party protests, and the mass of political ads produced for TV, as well as videos of talk show interviews. (see theater of ressentiment)

The inability of American society to generate the advanced minds critical to the development of advanced capitalism is masked by the enormous inflow of skilled and educated Third World middle classes into the U. S. labor force.
The point of all this--linking Mozart, Lenin, the CP of the New Deal era, and the Taylor Society--is to demonstrate the enormous breadth of the force field of the Enlightenment as cognitive-developmental process at the center of the making of modernity.  Conversely, one can recognize that it was modernity itself that the right demonized [Steinman].  Indeed, the entire range of right-wing issues in the Twentieth and on into the Twenty First Century involves the mobiliation of the forces of ressentiment in a series of holy crusades against various demons (anti-communism is properly called a witch-hunt), combined with a defense of a mythic form of property, the latter being conceived of in its most primitive and developmentally reactionary form.  This is little more than an expression of the shibbleths of provincial protestantism dressed up as economic theory.  One has truly failed to grasp the deep pathology of our times if one takes this primitive form of cognitive activity at face value.  And liberalism as feeble remants of the enlightenment dynamic enacts its bancruptcy everytime it accepts as valid the demonic constructions of reactionary political elites (e.g., Obama's birth certificate) and seeks to answer rather than decode them.

This successful destruction of the left in the post-war years beginning with McCarthyism meant the undermining of the forces of cognitive development so vital to the strength of nations in the twenty first century. 

The purpose of the above is to demonstrate not only the enduring but the central significance of cognitive development in the making of modern/modernization/moernist--bourgeois and capitalist--society, and to delineate some of the major components--the major developmental trajectories--of this process.

The discussion of the popular enlightenment and the elite enlightenment (TS) puts intopisa perpsective Figure 1.  An esential element in the making of a cognitively advanced population is a powerful enlightenment ethos rooted in cuture, modern institutions, politics and the state.  Educational instititons are embedded in society considred as a quasi-totality.
This rhetorical performance of the right is not only cognitively primitive.  It should be obvious that on the right there are not issues, but postures, gestures, various encodings of the same sado-sexual reflex (the inner logic, the generative matrix, of racism).  Rage enacted in a political-media theater of violence (psychologically, the "issue" of immigration is the script for a generalized lynch-mob): This is the essence of what is called "Conservative" today.  And not only rage, but political pornography.  Sex and violence make up the entirety of the inner logic, the generative matrix, of populist Republicanism.  These sado-sexual fixations may dress themselves up as issues, as if they were subject to rational debate and beholden to empirical checks (remember Willie Horton?).  Language on the threshold of gesture and reflex.  Regression to infantile narcissism via processes of identification, to a politics of patrimonialism.