scroll down this page for an overview of the site
(key terms: extended mind, transcendental empiricism, rhizome)
American Exceptionalism: the Psychometric Data
Developmental Divergence: Cognitive Development in History
American Exceptionalism: Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense
Appetite and Entropy: Subverting Cognitive Development
Semiotic Regimes (cognition, ressentiment, and desire)
Education in Finland and the United States
Progressivism to New Deal: the Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State
Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?
The Present as History
"Philosophy always arrives too late . . . . The Owl
of Minerva takes flight only as the dusk begins to fall."
American Exceptionalism: the Psychometric Data
"Evolution is theory, not fact," a key intellectual assertion made by the Right, should be placed in the context of Figure 1 (PISA Math Scores, 2003 - 2009: 18 Nations + U.S. New England + U.S. South + OECD average). The bottom red line (the U.S. South) is the Palin-Trump-Bachmann et al. socio-cognitive/rhetorical zone. This is where the rhetorical performances of the anti-evolution crusade unfold. (But this is only one of many expressions of anti-modernism and demonization, the inner logic (ressentiment) of the entire set of right-wing "social issues".)
Hypothetically, one should be able to place this assertion--"Evolution is theory, not fact"-- as cognitive performativity in its correct place on the scale to the right. Only one assumption is necessary: that correlated with higher test scores is a higher percentage of the tested population performing at the formal operational level.
It is critical to raise the question of formal operational cognitive performativity precisely because it is on the development of such competency that the fate of nations depends in the 21st century. [James R. Flynn, What is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect (Cambridge University Press, 2009)] * What is formal operational competence? This excerpt from Cole is helpful. For more go to developmental diveregence.
from Michael Cole, The Development of Children (W. H. Freeman and Co, 1996), p. 485
"R. Murray Thomas illustrates the difference between concrete operations and formal operations (which are said to appear in early adolescence) with the following two questions:
Concrete: If Alice has two apples and Caroline gives her three more, how many will there be?
Formal: Imagine that there are two quantities which together make up a whole. If we increase the first quantity but the whole remains the same, what has happened to the second quantity?
What is striking about the rhetorical manuever "Evolution is theory, not fact," is that it is a radical rejection of the very sine qua non of modern (formal-operational) thought: abstraction and concept formation. In the performative domain of the populist semiosphere, this amounts to the demonization of formal-operational thought as such. The impact of this national crusade against not simply "science" but formal operational thought itself is evident in Figure 1.
Figure 1 is about more than education. Formal schooling is only one moment in the unfolding of cognitive development, and data such as appear in Figure 1 therefore reflect the various forces that promote or retard development.*
In Developmental Divergence: Cognitive Development in History, the concept of Zone(s) of Proximal Development, first developed by Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky, and Uri Bronfenbrenner's Ecological systems theory, are applied to an understanding of the divergent modes of congitive performativity evident in the public discourse of the United States.
For more on Figure 1 go to American Exceptionalism: the Psychometric Data
*This complex systems approach is emphasized by Pasi Sahlberg, "A Model Lesson: Finland Shows Us What Equal Opportunity Looks Like," American Educator, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2012
Figure 1. PISA Math Scores, 2003 - 2009: 18 Nations +
U.S. New England + U.S. South + OECD average
PISA 2009 Results: What Students Know and Can Do – Student
Performance in Reading, Mathematics and Science (Volume I)
Time Magazine assesses the cognitive performativity of its readers:
from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, February 14, 2012:
TIME Magazine's U.S. Edition
The Missing Data: Why Was Twelfth Grade Testing Discontinued
This chart compares the fourth, eighth and twelfth grade mathematics test scores of a number of Asian and northwest European nations with those of the United States, grouped into three regions as indicated by the graph. This study was conducted by TIMSS (see Wikipedia Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) in the Spring of 1995. At that time this was the largest and most thorough international study of mathematics and science education ever conducted.
from U.S. Department of Education, Pursuing Excellence: A Study of U.S. Twelfth-Grade Mathematics and Science Achievement in International Context, NCES 98-049. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1998. Chapter 2.
One explanation for our low performance that has been suggested in the past is that, because of our diverse population, there is a greater range of scores among U.S. students, and the difference between our lowest-scoring students and our typical student is greater than in many other countries. These low-scoring students, it has been argued, "bring down" the U.S. average. Available information suggests that this is not the case in TIMSS.A
A Specifically, the difference between students with a median score (fiftieth percentile) and those at the fifth percentile is 129 points in the United States; looking at all countries, the average difference between fifth and fiftieth percentiles is 137 points. In addition, the difference between the scores of students at the fifth and ninety-fifth percentiles is similar in most countries. In the United States, 296 points separate these two groups of students, and the average difference is 292 for all 21 countries.
Testing of 12th graders was subsequently discontinued.
Since PISA only tests 15 year old students, a major segment of relative decline of the United States, as indicted in the 1995 TIMSS results, is unobserved.
Periodically one gets news reports such as Students Make Gains in Testing on Science, by Richard Perez-Pena (NYT, May 10, 2012)
American eighth graders have made modest gains in national science testing, with Hispanic and black students narrowing the gap between them and their white and Asian peers, the federal government reported Thursday.
But this is only for eighth graders. (And PISA only tests ninth graders.) Until we get international comparisons for twelfth graders, we are left in the weakened position of having to make inferences from the 1995 data shown to the right. We are also left wondering why the testing of twelfth-graders was discontinued.
from James R. Flynn, What is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
Reasoning skills are essential for higher mathemtics. Therefore, by the twelfth grade, the failure to develop enhanced mathematical problem-solving strategies begins to bite. American schoolchildren cannot do algebra and geometry any better than the previous generation. p. 22* Countries Participating in TIMSS Advanced 1995 and 2008 Armenia, Islamic Rep. of Iran, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Russian Federation, Slovenia, Sweden
Figure 2. Divergent developmental trajectories
Fig 1 poses the question of the fate of intelligence in the 21st century. The enlightenment assumption of the rational citizen as ontologically prior to history is now only a tired shibboleth. Development divergence is now a fundamental feature of postmodernity. The liberal-Enlightenment presupposition of a cognitively homogeneous citizenry collapses in the face of this data.
Such developmental divergence figures critically into understanding the rhetorical productions of political actors (town-halls mobs, tea party rallies, auto bailout Congressional debate, the 2011-12 GOP debates). The standard presupposition--that the set of all voters is cognitively homogeneous--is itself a key shibboleth of liberalism.
Thus, instead of a cognitively homogeneous citizenry, there is developmental divergence (Nisbett, Calvin) producing 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 newscasts and talk show interviews.
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, including those born here of immigrant parents. (See, e.g., lists of Intel Science Talent Search Finalists for 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. In developmental diveregence I show how the concept of Zone(s) of Proximal Development, rather than the concepts of race and ethnicity, helps not only to explain "Asian" dominance, but also deconstructs the "white" minority subset into ZPDs. For an early albeit implicit demonstration of the effectiveness of the concept of ZPD, see Zena Smith Blau, Black children/white children : competence, socialization, and social structure (Free Press, 1981))
The current convergence, in the United States, of economic decline, attacks on teachers and on the public sector as a whole, and the evangelical crusade against formal-operational thought (the impact of which is made clear by application of the ZPD concept), might reasonably be expected to deepen this inter- and intra-national developmental divergence. Cognitive decline--the decay of structure and discipline in cognitive performativity--is well underway, and has been for decades.
Thus, Figure 1 can be taken as marking an inflection point in human history, the point where occurs an ironic twist to the Hegel-Marx notion of the internal contradictions of capitalism. But now it is intelligence itself (and thus technology) that is undermined by the further development what we call capitalism.
Or is it? For the question that remains is whether this is a fundamental process of post-modern capitalism that will sweep all before it (Steve Hall, Simon Winlow and Craig Ancrum), rather than a peculiarly American phenomenon. The first set of pages on this site, subsumed under the rubric American Exceptionalism: decoding the semiosphere, addresses this question.
Few consider the historicity, fragility, and reversibility of cognitive development. Cognitive development is not a normative, inevitable process. It is an effect of history and politics, as well as evolution, and can suffer reversal or collapse. One might consider the 2011-12 Republican debates in this context. This is one area where that which is called Marxism has most markedly failed. While celebrating the technological dynamism of capitalism, Marxism (but not Marx) was silent on the human capital dimension of capitalist development. In this what has been called "Marxism" shared the naiveté of the Enlightenment in which an inborn rationality is presupposed.
Critical to understanding developmental divergence is the concept of Zones of Proximal Development (Vygotsky et. al.), which is discussed in Developmental Divergence: Cognitive Development in History. The developmental psychology on which I rely is the antithesis of the implicit racism of public discourse and much of social scientific discourse on "intelligence" which takes "race" as an ontological given.
PISA scores: bias to the abstract
One can create a new measure of cognitive performativity by analyzing the spread between reading and math scores for each nation. Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao and Shanghai show a large positive divergence between reading and math. The United States showed the largest negative divergence beween reading and math.
Jersey Shore (is there a correlation between this and the above?)
Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense--short version
(full page: Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense)
Marx, and the enlightenment ethos of which he was a part, was also wrong in a second decisive area. Not only did the Enlightenment not acquire a proletarian or popular embodiment. The ‘people’, even in its 'working class' moment, became the mass base for right wing, nationalist, racist, xenophobic cognitive modalities, political cultures, and socio-culturally contextualized character formations. (Manning, Paxton, Clarke, Sugrue) These modalities of ressentiment are ontologically prior to the political forces that utilize, absorb, and manipulate them (see Elites in the Mobilization of Ressentiment, Red Scare, Steiman*). That is why answers to such questions as What’s the Matter With Kansas? cannot be given in political terms or through political analysis.
Ressentiment is the dark energy against which the Enlightenment is powerless. It bubbles and explodes in the 2009 anti-"Obamacare" town hall meetings. Some see ressentiment as backlash--as episodic and event-driven (ie, as reactions to ghetto rebellions, school busing, student radicalism); they are wrong. There is a deep structure of rage that is endemic to our more broadly conceived historical situation (Nietzsche)--inchoate rage expressed in the theater of ressentiment that politics provides. This is the heart of darkness at the center of civilization--and the core psychodynamic logic that generates the rhetorical performances at the heart of the Right, magnificently in your face and on display in the 2011-12 GOP primary debates. It is in this context that I present the next two panels, which suggest that on the deepest level that which is called "Fascism" is still a live question. After considering what Levien and Paxton have to say, go to Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense, examine the mass of empirical muck now available over the Internet, and judge for yourself.
The power of politically organized ressentiment to retard and undermine cognitive development is made very clear through the application of the ZPD concept.
*Lionel B. Steiman, Paths to Genocide: Antisemitism in Western History (St. Martin's Press, 1998), is much more than an account of antisemitism. It is about the political processes and the political actors involved in the manipulation of ressentiment. It must be read if one is to put today's GOP in context. xx
the mechanisms of defense
the other as constructed
construction of the other
mechanisms of defense
Anatol Lieven, America
Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (Oxford
University Press, 2005)
America is the home of by far the most deep, widespread and conservative religious belief in the Western world, including a section possessed by wild millenarian hopes, fears and hatreds—and these two phenomena are intimately related. . . [A]t the start of the twenty first century the United States as a whole is much closer to the developing world in terms of religious belief than to the industrialized countries (although a majority of believers in the United States are not fundamentalist Protestants but Catholics and “mainline,” more liberal Protestants). p. 8
In the United States, this sense of defeat and embattlement resides in four distinct but overlapping elements of the American national tradition: the original, ‘core’ White Anglo-Saxon and Scots Irish populations of the British colonies in North America(1); the specific historical culture and experience of the White South; the cultural world of fundamentalist Protestantism; and the particular memories, fears and hatreds of some American ethnic groups and lobbies.” p. 91
The Greater South extends beyond the borders of the former Confederacy and even the Mason-Dixon line . . . to cover large parts of the Midwest and the West. According to some cultural geographers, the northern border of the Greater South lies rightly along route 40, which runs from east to west across the middle of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. In the West, the Greater South includes Oklahoma and other states largely settle from the Old South.” p. 107
. . . the fundamentalist wing of the evangelical tradition is a very powerful ideological force in large parts of the United States and retains elements of thought which have come down with relatively few changes from much earlier eras. Its origins are pre-Enlightenment, and its mentality to a very great extent anti-Enlightenment. p. 124
1. See The Association of Religious Data Archives, which distinguishes between Mainline and Evangelical Protestants. This distinction is also critical in the decoding of the category "white" of the Intel Science Talent Search Finalists. (Even the media sometimes--in exit polls, for example--stumbles into this most important of distinctions, but don't count on it.)
from "Why doesn't America believe in evolution?"
Science: August 20, 2006 by Jeff Hecht
from Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004):
The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism. p. 84
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion. p. 218
Today a "politics of ressentment" rooted in authentic American piety and nativism sometimes leads to violence against some of the very same "internal enemies" once targeted by the Nazis, such as homosexuals and defenders of abortion rights. p. 202
The languge and symbols of an authentic American fascism would, of course, have little to do with the original European models. They would have to be as familiar and reassuring to loyal Americans as the language and symbols of the original fascisms were familiar and reassuring to many Italians and Germans, as Orwell suggested. . . . No swastikas in an American fascism, but Stars and Stripes (or Stars and Bars) and Christian crosses. No fascist salute, but mass recitations of the pledge of alegiance [one minute and 45 seconds into the video to the right]. These symbols contain no whiff of fascism in themselves, of course, but an American fascism would transform them into obligatory litmus tests for detecting the internal enemy. p. 202 (Emphasis added)
Note that Paxton does not refer to the Holocaust in his characterization of the inner logic, the essence, of fascism. The Holocaust was a contingent (see Browning, The origins of the Final Solution) not necessary feature of German fascism, a removable singularity. When this is recognized, the application of the concept of fascism to the contemporary American scene is not only possible; it is necessary.
"I want my country back!"
("The languge and symbols of an authentic American fascism . . . ")
Capitalism builds on two fundamentally opposed processes: organization and discipline, and appetite and desire. The former, organization and discipline, is the more widely applied conceptual framework. On the other hand, appetite and desire are simply taken for granted as the good, and the former is judged in terms of how well it serves the latter.
Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture: crime, exclusion and the new culture of narcissism shatters this complacent and simple-minded view that is at the heart of most thinking about modern politics. In my judgement this is one of the most important books of our time. Without a grasp of its major assertions no serious understanding of our own time is possible. Hence the lengthy excerpt to the right.
Before I came across Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture, I had written the following, much more limited and less analytical than this book, but at least I was on the right track. Here it is:
Capitalism builds on two fundamentally opposed processes: organization (as a form of discipline), and an entropic drive emergent out of the proliferating appetites and desires of a population driven by increasingly complex psychological needs, stimulated and expressed in the marketplace. Vast sectors of the mass consumer market are built out of and through the perversion of primal needs (Butler), and these perversions are the content of the semiotic atmosphere that shapes and limits most minds. These appetites and desires of postmodern capitalism gnaw away at the potential for self-discipline that is central to cognitive development.
The media penetration of the nooks and crannies of everyday life, its orchestration of desire, its deployment of demons and heroes, its influence on reconfiguring the reference points for self-discipline, has yet to be appreciated, for it is not only as a theater of desire that the media functions. It also functions as a theater of ressentiment. And most importantly, perhaps, it provides powerfully influential models of language use and cognitive processing for a large subset of the population.
One effect of exponentially increasing appetite and desire that is the central cultural/institutional/economic feature of late capitalism makes its appearance in United States: Obesity Rates, 1990 -- 2009. This graph is about appetite and desire, about cravings irrepressible and irresistible, about deeply buried needs that can never be met. Figure 2 is the history of these moments. How much of this is the ultimate outcome for an animal subjugated to the disciplinary order of capital but liberated to consume? Is it the price paid for the discipline endured, the secret out-creeping of what’s left of the animal man, the last place where one(‘s appetites) can roam free?
United States: Obesity Rates, 1990 -- 2009
1990 1995 2000 2005 2009
In the United States especially, an extreme culture of individualism and pursuit of instant gratification radically undermines the cultural disciplines that are essential developmental resources. [On the Edge, Getting Paid]"Obesity fight must shift from personal blame-U.S. panel," (Reuters, May 8, 2012)
A weak public sector, a defeated and broken enlightenment, and a triumphant culture of ressentiment and demonization hegemonic at the level of the public transcript, are all negative factors undermining cognitive development.
The demonization of science, the permanent war against evolutionary theory and bans against advanced forms of stem-cell research, must also be counted as a negative force.
At the level of social and economic policy, a high child poverty rate and a sharply destabilized economy for the bottom half are major factors undermining development.
Under these circumstances decognification and cultural decay are not only inevitable, but already and irreversibly underway.
Read this article and marvel at the obtuseness and cognitive limitations of even the better mass media. What do they miss, in this "issue" of obesity?" The fact that the essense of postmodern capitalism is precisely . . . the massive cultivation of desire by all the institutions connected with mass marketing, from the corporations that produce and sell crap to the media that advertise crap to the politicians and academics who celebrate the accumulation of crap. The most democratic part of the Amerian Dream is . . . fast food. To fight obesity means a double treason: to fight the corporate domination of everyday life, and to limit consumption: to say no to the culture of narcissism and the culture of desire. (But that's "communism.")
What’s the Best Way to Break Society’s Bad Habits? NYT JUNE 2, 2012
Evolution’s Sweet Tooth By DANIEL E. LIEBERMAN (New York Times, June 5, 2012)
What Is Food? (New York Times, June 5, 2012) By MARK BITTMAN
Obesity fight must shift from personal blame-U.S. panel (Reuters, May 8, 2012)
from DBC Pierce, Vernon God Little (Harcourt Brace, 2003), Vernon God Little Wiki Quotes
Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill, by NYT, by Alan Schwarz, NYT (June 9
In Their Own Words: ‘Study Drugs’ by Alan Schwarz, NYT (June 9, updated June 13, 2012)
At Stuyvesant, Allegations of Widespread Cheating,
By ANNE BARNARD and ERIC P. NEWCOMER
Published: June 26, 2012, NYT
February 5, 2010, 4:25 PM NYT
At Top City Schools, Lack of Diversity Persists
By JENNIFER MEDINA
compare below with neoclassical and institutional economics. the making of the strange new being--the postmodern "consumer" as really a bundle of patholigies and institutionally and ideologically constructed appetites. see also Wrangham et. al. re biology of consumption (competition for status). This is the organism as consumer. But the organism as voter (not as citizen, which is meaningless in context of RMD and DD). These two pages shatters the complacent and simple-minded view of the voter, as CriminaL Identities shatters the received semi-official view of the consumer and his sacred desires, and of consumption as the universal goal and the universal good.
from , Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture: crime, exclusion and the new culture of narcissism. Steve Hal, Simon Winlow and Craig Ancrum (Willan Publishing, 2008)
This specific mode of identification and desire, motivated by the terror of helplessness and insignificance that afflicts each prematurely born and maladapted human being in early childhood, is, of course, infantile narcissism, and it creates and sustains precisely the types of unconscious desires and drives that consumer culture and its para-political civic life require. Most cultures that preceded consumerism were equipped with functional Symbolic Orders replete with the moral prohibitions and reality-testing mechanisms that can engender a maturation process. As the individual enters such an order the unconscious can be brought under control, and consequently the incessant and insatiable demands of the infantile narcissist tend to be pushed back into the background throughout the later stages of the life course, to be displaced by passions for art, science, politics and love. The infantile narcissist does not die, and lapses must be tolerated, but its mode of desire is eventually outweighed and diminished by more important and mature concerns. Thus we must suspect that consumerism somehow interferes with the maturation process, preventing the individual's interest from being drawn towards objects and signs--especially those which are ethically, politically or scientifically charged and thus attractive only to the mature individual--that lie outside the consumer sphere. . . . Once fully unleashed, as it was in the 1960s, consumer culture simply betrayed, brushed aside and demolished the weak forces of the liberal-left, whose rather apologetic appeals to social justice and meritocracy and half-hearted support for the democratic socialist political movement that was attempting to properly replace the old order could not compete with consumer culture's immensely seductive imagery and economic dynamism . . . (173)
Despite this capture of the narcissistic ego by its sources of reflection and recognition in the environment, and the durability of the wish to sustain the attractive option of primary narcissistic identification, in a healthy culture with a rich and mature Symbolic Order all is not lost. The Symbolic is the site of language, the sludge of slipping signifiers that refer to each other and to the signified in the connotative order's receptacle. At the end of the mirror stage, although the primary fantasy does not disappear, accession to the Symbolic Order should at least provide the individual with the linguistic and conceptual means of reflecting critically on the fantasy itself, its source, its functions, its politics and its consequences for the self's autobiographical future. During the entry into the Symbolic Order at the end of the dominance of the mirror phase and the beginning of the Oedipal phase, the child, who has become accustomed to the pleasure of the primary narcissistic identification with his mother's body and her recognition of his identity and physical needs, must accept that the father's right to the mother's body takes precedence. This is the first experience of the deep prohibition of primary desire, much more profound than the minor behavioural prohibitions that the parents and significant others have already introduced. This is not the prohibition of affective bodily contact but the withdrawal of what the child imagines to be exclusive rights to pleasure and identification through pleasure and the traumatic realization that the primary object also recognises and gives pleasure to others. This paternal intervention, expressed verbally, is the first indication that the Law is constituted by prohibitions and taboos that disallow narcissistic identification as the primary sense of being, but in doing so it opens up the reflective, symbolic gap in the narcissistic connection between the Imaginary and the Real. In simple terms, this is a command to 'put away those childish things', to start growing up and engaging with symbolism that allows reflection of the self as a social being; to grow up and consider others. It demands entry into the structure of laws and language that constitute the Symbolic Order as a social code. Better the infant enter a conservative Symbolic Order--in the hope that he or she might one day turn its linguisitic-conceptual tools back on it in a dialecical challenge--than none at all. The alternative is the narcissist's joyride driven by the fetishistic command to circle permanently around objects associated with others who seem to offer vague recognition of the self and represent a concrete form of competence in the immediate environment. (185-6)
(Smith, Revolution and the People in Russia and China, on consumerism)
CBC Eat Food Love doc. on individual freedom . . . to do what? To eat! (me! me! me!) Holbach on freedom . . . to become (bildung) intellect, culture, public service
(Gary Cross, An All-Consuming Society)
In the context of the above, a must read: Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre (Cannongate, 2003)
Also see Robert Pattison, The Triumph of Vulgarity: Rock Music in the Mirror of Romanticism (Oxford University Press, 1987)
For a different, more expansive (but not contradictory) view of narcissism see Marshall W. Alcorn, Jr., Narcissism and the Literary Libido: Rhetoric, Text, and Subjectivity (New York University Press, 1994): chapter 1. "Political Ties and Libidinal Ruptures: Narcissism as the Origin and End of Textual Production."
Alcorn, it seems, is presenting a theory of naricissism (based heavily on Kernberg and Kohut) that could be characterized as developmentally progressive. Hall et. al. use the term narcissism to refern to a more limited--and pathological--process that is developmentally regressive. More on progressive narcissism in Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?
The Novels of Michel Houellebecq: The Map and the Territory (2010), The Possibility of an Island (2005), The Elementary Particles (1998), and Platform (2001), provide a portrait of late capitalism consistent with the inner logic of this site (developmental divergence/Bildung, ressentiment, and desire).
A note on Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture vs. Houellebecq: the differences can be seen as sociological not psychological. Houellebecq is upscale, Criminal Identities downscale . . . but are there significant (psychological) differences?
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, but as the moral failings of a newly designated underclass. Jim Capatelli's comment in WSJ article above:
Jim Capatelli Replied:
. . . Charles Murray has never "gotten it". He's written essentially the same book, over and over again, for more than 30 years. It goes like this:
"Rich people are just smarter than everyone else. What you make is always what you're worth. Whites are smarter than blacks in general, but an individual black can be smarter than an individual white, but not very often. Government programs never work, unless it's a program that my backers approve of. Food stamps cause hunger. Head Start is for bad mothers. Public Schools cause ignorance. The sixties ruined a perfect country. Taxes cause government deficits. Tax cuts cause government surpluses. Environmental protection laws cause pollution. The minimum wage makes people poor. Unions create unemployment. Shipping jobs to China creates more and better jobs in the US. Men were always reliable before the sixties. Girls never had sex before marriage, until the sixties. People who go to church are better people than those who don't. The ultra wealthy who own and control almost everything don't cause any social or economic problems. The REAL Social and Economic Elite are liberals working as teachers, social workers, professors, government employees, trial lawyers, scientists, writers, artists, journalists, photographers and child care workers. Why? Because they're stuck up and act like they know more than everyone else and they don't smoke or like fast food and they look down on those who do. And the only mistake the very rich are making is overlooking their obligation to righteously lecture the lazy, shiftless, bums who could also be rich if they just went to work, joined a church, and waited until they were married before having sex.
I only wish I were exaggerating Murray's claims. But I'm not. If anything, I'm understating them.
It gets old.
Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America, robert whitaker
The Myth of the Chemical Cure: A Critique of Psychiatric Drug Treatment, Joanna Moncrieff mel
Crazy Like Us: The Globalization of the American Psyche, baldwin
HEALTH 616.89 WATTERS
from Episteme (Wikipedia)
Foucault's epistemes are something like the 'epistemological unconscious' of an era; the configuration of knowledge in a particular episteme is based on a set of fundamental assumptions that are so basic to that episteme so as to be invisible to people operating within it.
Hegel's historicization of Kant's a priori, Nietzsche's politicization of this in his concept of perspectivism, and Foucault's concept of discursive formations, can be seen as a continuous process of development away from the primitive notions of positivism and scientism (see Margolies) that still grip the masses of educated people. (An even larger mass of homo sapiens today are still gestural and pre-operational in their contextualized cognitive performances--see Donald.) This historical post- and anti-Cartesian development of thought now makes possible a systematic appraisal of the sphere of public discourse. When combined with the mass of material now available over the Internet, this mode of thinking can take off into realms hitherto impossible to enter (see Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense, and Developmental Divergence: Cognitive Development in History)
The next three rows summarize some of these findings.
Semiotic Regimes: topography of the two-party system
Red Field--bourgeois (1): CNN/MSNBC bourgeois (2): Universities/NPR (modern corporation) (human capital, cultural capital)
Concrete Operational (and preop.) Concrete + Formal Operational (limited)
Preoperational + GesturalBlue Field--ressentiment: Fox News (rentier + predatory
sectors; provincial capitals; racist political ecologies)
(I don't remember the source of this graphic. I found it via a Google search)
from Nietzsche, Will to Power, § 863
“The values of the weak prevail because the strong have taken them over as devices of leadership.”
from Juan Carlos Gomez, Apes, Monkees, Children and the Growth of Mind (Harvard University Press, 2004)
Here Tomasello is extending the ideas of Vygotsky about the power of adult mediation in cognitive development to nonhuman primates. The appliction of a regime of human mediation to some nonhuman primates would be able to change the minds of these apes . . . (p. 253
The possibility that, at a reduced scale, the mind of an ape can be upgraded by giving him, on the one hand, a regime of socially controlled attention and interactive experiences with humans, and on the other, a new, more explicit for of representing the world, would confer dramatic support to the Vygotskian notion that higher cognition can be created through cultural processes of development that change the nature of cognitive ontogeny. (p. 263)
from CNN newscast, 4:00 to 6:00 PM, 9-15-07: pro- and anti-war demonstrators' signs (applying the concept of cognitive regime):
pro-war demo signs: "Traitors Go to Hell!""Deport Anti-war Protesters!"
anti-war demo signs: "End the War Now!""U.S. Out of Iraq!"
"Support the Troops! End the War!"
Topologies of the Two Party SystemLEFT RIGHT
TOPOLOGY depressive* paranoid-schizoid*
POLITICAL STYLE progressive proto-Dorian
COG MODE formal + concrete pre-operational + gestural
*Simon Clarke, Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Racism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)
and anti-war demonstrators'
signs above, and the
table to the right, are moments in the unfolding the two-party
In the competing demonstrations there are references to issues on the one side. On the other side
one sees only the
demonization of the anti-war demonstrators. The rage directed
against the other
is a principle axis--an eigenvector--of the right.
large percentage of
right-wing expressions are of this character.
Thus, pro- and anti-war demonstators' signs provide two distinct topologies on the semiotic manifold of the public sphere.
Rabids vs. Thoughtfuls (right) also provides two distinct topologies on the semiotic manifold.
By topologies* I mean the following: take the set of all statements made in a well-defined bounded discursive space (the two-party space).
First, the rhetorical elements form two disjoint sets.
Second, there is a structure on each data set: a left structure and a right structure. Each data set has both a psychoanalytic and a cognitive dimension.
These psychological-semiotic structures are provided by Simon Clarke, Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Racism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). The Clarke text is deployed as interpretive grid.
The cognitive-semiotic structures are provided by standard developmental theory. Pre-operational and gestural cognitive modalities dominate the right rhetorical set. More abstract (formal operational) and factual (concrete operational) dominate on the left.
The cognitive structures on the discursive manifold are provided in Developmental Divergence: Cognitive Development in History.
Note that the psychological dimension of the Right is discussed in American Exceptionalism: Ressentiment and the Mechanisms of Defense. (I have not yet dealt with the Left as discursive set on a semiotic manifold.) Now I go one theoretical step further: the Mechanisms of Defense provide the structure on the set of all right-wing semiotic productions. In Clarke's text, this is the paranoid-schizoid position (after Melanie Klein): rage seeking a target; exclusion.
The psychological structure on the set of all left-wing semiotic productions is given by the depressive position (Melanie Klein again): concern for others; inclusion.
Note that the discursive manifold of the public sphere does not include elite discursive activity, such as the internal correspondence of the Keynesian elite. (see Person to Cooke)
*I venture forth into an area I have only an extremely limited knowledge of for compelling reasons, largely as a result of the observation and study of rhetorical elements only now available in large quantities over the internet. Nevertheless, I am comfortable with the basic intent of this section, which is to see that there are distict sets of rhetrical elements, and that each set has its own distict rule that generates those elements.
from Wikipedia, Topology
The term topology is also used to refer to a structure imposed upon a set X, a structure that essentially 'characterizes' the set X as a topological space by taking proper care of properties such as convergence, connectedness and continuity, upon transformation.
The comments summarized in the table were sent to the Connecticut Post at the end of August, 2006 in response to an awful story of mistaken revenge. (Click on Rabids vs. Thoughfuls to see the comments. These comments are no longer available online.)
from Jonathon Edington, wikipedia
Jonathon Edington (born October 29, 1976) is a Fairfield, Connecticut, United States, patent lawyer who achieved national notoriety when, on August 28, 2006, he murdered his neighbor, Barry James, after being told that James had molested Edington's two-year-old daughter. There has been no evidence found that Barry James molested Edington's daughter or anyone else. On August 30 Edington was released on $1 million bond. It was widely expected that Edington would attempt to mount a psychiatric defense at his murder trial, however Edington instead pled guilty to the crime and was sentenced to 12 years in prison on August 31, 2007.The story generated a large amount of press coverage in the United States and overseas.
The responses to the Connecticut Post story have been organized into two categories--rabids and thoughtfuls.
These two sets of responses also provide two distinct topologies on the semiotic manifold of the public sphere.
from Wikipedia, Group (mathematics)
In mathematics, a group is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with an operation that combines any two of its elements to form a third element. To qualify as a group, the set and the operation must satisfy a few conditions called group axioms, namely closure, associativity, identity and invertibility. Many familiar mathematical structures such as number systems obey these axioms: for example, the integers endowed with the addition operation form a group. However, the abstract formalization of the group axioms, detached as it is from the concrete nature of any particular group and its operation, allows entities with highly diverse mathematical origins in abstract algebra and beyond to be handled in a flexible way, while retaining their essential structural aspects. The ubiquity of groups in numerous areas within and outside mathematics makes them a central organizing principle of contemporary mathematics.
about the media's lack of accuracy, bias, etc. are more than naive;
they are effects of power, signs of a profound cognitive-political
weakness. Competing networks of corporate elites dominate the
major media. Rhetorical elements peculiar to the two major
competing alliances (called Democrats and Republicans) dominate the
semiosphere. Fox News, mainly hard-right Republican, deploys
the rhetorical elements of ressentiment: demonization, incitements to
violence, and a primitive cognitive performativity. MSNBC and
CNN give a platform to both Democratic and Republican rhetorical
elements, including as well hard-right Republicans. Their
anchors and talk-show hosts deploy standard democratic rhetoric.
In terms of their topologies,
the Right is paranoid-schizoid, the Left (vapid as it now is) is
depressive. A favorite rhetorical maneuver of the Left is to
the "hypocrisy" of much of right-wing discourse (on hypocrisy
Ressentiment and the
Mechanisms of Defense).
NPR is not a major player, but it
represents what there is of a modern bourgeois-professional discourse
in the public sphere.
Their respective levels of cognitive performativity are
indicated in blue. (This is more suggestive than it is
Note the distinction between the topology (where there is a structure on a set of elements) and the topography of the two-party system.
Any politics of the future must make the questions raised by Figure 1 central.
One can imagine a politics of the future in which the media is problematized, becomes a question not of passive viewing (and complaining) but of active intellectual confrontation--where indeed such active confrontation is a means to cognitive development and moral discipline. This is a possible response to the rampage of narcissism and consumerism that are so antithetical to Bildung. What has only been glimpsed earlier--the importance of culture and Bildung in politics--now becomes the central question of our time (and not only in relation to Fig. 1). One can imagine online critiques of media coverage, of all aspects of the media, including its cultural messages. One can imagine discussions at work, at lunch, in classrooms. One can imagine . . . a politics of Bildung. . . . but one can more easily imagine that J.G Ballard, in Kingdom Come (2006), Criminal Identities and Consumer Culture: crime, exclusion and the new culture of narcissism, by Steve Hal, Simon Winlow and Craig Ancrum (Willan Publishing, 2008), and the novels of Michel Houellebecq, portray a present already pregnant with its own future. All that remains to be seen is more of the same. An end game of cognitive decline and physiological decay, the unforseen outcome of a triumphant primitive capitalism (vs. the nascent then aborted advanced capitalism of the New Deal).
Holocaust and Global Warming in the Context of the Concept of Semiotic
||reason has lost its nerve (this is what remains of Marx and Lenin: reason had balls, marched to its own drummer, was not subservient to prevailing popular sentiments)|
Education in Finland and the United States
Figure 1 is the resultant of several fundamental forces and processes, each different from the others in critical ways. As mentioned above, Figure 1 is about more than education. Formal schooling is only one moment in the unfolding of cognitive development, and data such as appear in Figure 1 therefore reflect the various forces that promote or retard development.
Finland's leading place among European nations, acording to Pasi Sahlberg (Finnish Lessons: What can the World Learn from Eductional Change in Finland: Teachers College Press, 2011) is rooted not just in the educational reforms of the 1970s, but in the immediate post World War II political environment in which the three major parties--Social Democratic, Communist, and Agrarian Centre--made education their major goal (pp. 16-17). Especially important was the work of three key political education committees. The first, the Primary School Curriculum Committee, established in June of 1945, was led by Professor Matti Koskenniemi. A second, the Education System Committee, began its work in 1946, and was chaired by the National Board of Education's Director General Yrjö Ruutu, an ally of the Finnish Communist Party. The third, the School Program Committee, was established in 1956 . . . under the leadership of Reino Henrik Oittinen, Director General of the National Board of Education and a Social Democrat. The work of these three committees laid the foundation for subsequent developments. (pp. 17-18)
Sahlberg emphasizes the importance of Finland's societal values. In Finnish Lessons reference is made to the core Finnish values of social solidarity and a committment to equality. In addition, Finland was and is a society of readers. Omitted in Finnish Lessons (possibly because Europeans are as yet unable to grasp the profundity of the American crusade against science), but of vital importance when contrasted with the United States, is respect for science. A major factor in the decline and fall of Amerian society (which is not the same as American capitalism) is the enormous developmental impact of our national values, one of which is anti-intellectualism. In addition, the hyper-individualism of a deeply narcissistic culture is a major force subverting cognitive development. Regressive narcissism (what Hall et. al. write about) negates the characterological sine qua non of cognitive development--self-discipline. This, combined with the derogation of science, has a powerful effect on motivation, and therefore on cognitive development.
" . . . it would appear that no theory is capable of handling the diversity of findings reviewed earlier, unless it consists of the three prongs of biology, environment, and motivation." Ceci
Ulla Härkönen's article (right panel) provides an overview of the scientific foundations of the Finnish educational system. On the other hand, Hung-hsi Wu's article (right panel) describes a quite different situation in the United States.
from Ulla Härkönen (University of Joensuu, Finland), "Current Theories Related to Early Childhood Education and Preschool as Frames of Reference for Sustainable Education," in Institutte of Sustainable Education, conference, 2004
In Finland, for thirty years, theoretical frames for early childhood education and preschool have been outlined through Bronfenbrenner's ecological approach, Vygotsky's developmental theory, didactic theories and the psychological theories of learning, among which the latest is the constructivist theory of learning.
Bronfenbrenner's theory of ecological development (1979) has in Finland for almost thirty years been one of the most generally used theories to analyze the phenomena of early childhood education and, at the same time, of preschool. The importance of the theory of ecological development lies in the fact that personal development is seen in relation to different kinds and different levels of systems. This has introduced to the methodological principles of educational research a systems approach, according to which an object is studied as a system of its structural and functional relations.
Early childhood education and preschool have received strong theoretical stimuli from developmental psychology. This is true of Finland even today and evident also in this article. Developmental psychology theories are represented here by the often referred to theories of Bronfenbrenner and Vygotsky. They both focus their attention on human development and both have introduced a systems dimension to their ideas.
from Bringing the Common Core State Mathematics Standards to Life, by Hung-hsi Wu (American Educator, Fall 2011)
Proper school mathematics textbooks for teachers and students, model lesson plans, diagnostic assessments, and professional development are absolutely necessary. These things are often discussed as instructional “supports,” implying that only weak teachers would need them. That is absurd. Is it only the weak chemists who need proper lab equipment or only the weak basketball players who work with coaches?Tell that to the corporate sponsors of Relay University. (See Below)
In mathematics, the most difficult part of a teacher’s professional development is the acquisition of solid content knowledge. Preparing to teach proper school mathematics is not about learning a craft; rather, it is about learning a discipline that is cognitively complex and very hierarchical.
was governed by what we in this country would call a strong New Deal
coalition, made possible by the relative weakness in Finland of the
kinds of reactionary cultural and economic forces that now dominate
American public life, and even in the late 1930s were demonstrating
their strength. (The crusade against science in the United
has its roots in the reaction the New Deal that set in in 1938, was
moderated by the exigencies of war, and burst forth in the late 1940s
in what would in the fifties be called "McCarthyism.")
This historical trajectory--Enlightenment to New Deal--while institutionalized in Finland, was aborted in the United States--aborted and demonized. Some ask naive questions such as 'what would Roosevelt do today?' But the historical Being that is symbolized by FDR, that Being which was the culmination of an entire historico-developmental trajectory, is dead. There is, in America, an ontological absence of monumental proportions. Figure one cannot be altered.
The educational consequences of this are catastrophic. After comparing the cognitive performance of American educational reformers with the cognitive performance of the educational professionals of the OECD (see an assessment of the cognitive performativity of the rhetoric of reform), I reached the following conclusion:
The contrast between the limited cognitive processes of American educational reformers and the state-of-the-art scientific thinking of the PISA analysts is striking. While the OECD's cognitive performativity in their discourse on education is on the formal operational level, the level of cognitive performativity of America's "reform" leadership is at best concrete operational (ages 7 to 11). Comparison of the cogitive performativity evident in the PISA reports with the rhetoric of educational reform in the United States suggests that the educational reformers themelves suffer from strategically disabling cognitive limitations.
The corporate attack on public education now includes the cognitive degradation of the teaching profession itself, as the article on Relay University ("Ed School's Pedagogical Puzzle," in the right panel) clearly indicates. In the U.S., the war against science now includes attacks on educational theory as well.
Figure 1 is a reflection of a deep process of societal transformation whose effects have only begun to be felt. Figure 1 is prelude.
Read the articles in the right panel. I don't think we in the United States have really begun to appreciate what is being done to our communities--and to our future as a modern nation--through the politicization and corporatization of education. Figure 1 is only a reflection of what has been done in the past thirty or forty years. The forces of cognitive degradation are just coming into their own. Nothing can stop Murdoch and Gates et. al. from sucking the life blood out of the public sector, of which education is by far the most important part. The decognification of the United States is only now picking up steam. The past is prelude.
Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle, by Sharon Otterman
(New York Times July 21, 2011)
This is about the Relay Graduate School of Education, part of the corporatization of American education.
“I can study Vygotsky later,” said Tayo Adeeko, a 24-year-old third-grade teacher at Empower Charter School in Crown Heights. She was referring to another education school staple — Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet theorist of cognitive development who died in 1934. “Right now,” she added, “my kids need to learn how to read.”Move to Outsource Teacher Licensing Process Draws Protest, by Michael Winerip (New York Times, May 6, 2012)
The debate mirrors a larger concern nationally, which is that by treating teaching as a trade instead of an art, and permitting new teachers to run their own classrooms from the first day, alternative education programs will, in the long term, reduce the quality of America’s teaching force. A great teacher, critics of the new approach argue, should also be trained in advanced work in his or her field, as well as be versed in child psychology, cognitive theory and educational philosophy, so he or she can work in any setting.
Lin Goodwin, the associate dean at Teachers College, describes Relay thusly: “What they are doing is teacher training, to follow a protocol, to be able to perform in a particular context, to know how to work in this way. And I think that what that does is it dumbs down teaching, and takes us back a few steps, in terms of our struggle in the profession for teachers to be seen as professionals.”
Steering Murdoch in Scandal, Klein Put School Goals Aside, by Amy Chozick (New York Times, May 7, 2012)
Mr. Klein’s political instincts may have helped News Corporation, but his involvement has delayed his own ambitions within the company. He was hired by Mr. Murdoch to lead his company’s aggressive push into the education market. But just over six months into his tenure, the news broke that the company’s News of the World tabloid in Britain had hacked into the phone of a murdered 13-year-old, Milly Dowler, and suddenly, Mr. Klein became Mr. Murdoch’s legal compass in the ensuing British firestorm.
While Mr. Klein still worked for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Klein became close friends. They talked frequently about the state of public schools and Mr. Klein was lured to News Corporation with the promise that he could use the company’s deep coffers to put in place his vision of revolutionizing K-12 education. Mr. Murdoch has said he would be “thrilled” if education were to account for 10 percent of News Corporation’s $34 billion in annual revenue in the next five years.
Joel Klein's Misleading Autobiography, RICHARD ROTHSTEIN American Prospect, OCTOBER 11, 2012
this paper I apply network theory* to the analysis of the genesis and
structure of the Second New Deal state apparatus in the following
ways. First, I look at the input-output matrices of different
sectors of accumulation, and show that the chief executive officers of
leading corportions intersected with the polity in such a way that the
"state" under FDR could be better characterized as a segmented state
within which the Keynesian elite (rooted in mass consumption) finally
achieved parity with the two older elite formations--commodities in
international trade (cotton, tobacco, wheat, copper together with their
financial, legal, and commercial service providers), and the securities
bloc (rooted in infrastructure capital (iron, coal, railroads,
telephones and the financial institutions connected with marketing and
trading their securities, and the legal firms that serviced
them). Second, I examine the state apparatus itself and find
that the administrative core of the Secnd New Deal was a well-defined
personnel matrix comprised of a cadre of lawyers linked to Felix
Franfurter (FF) and Louis D. Brandeis (LDB), and network of technocrats
drawn from or closely associated with the Taylor Society
(TS). Within this analytical context I reconstruct the
history of LDB-FF x TS. And third, by applying
network theory to the Taylor Socety as inter-organizational matrix, I
find that the strategic discourse as well as the internal structure and
compostion of the Keynesian elite in the Second New Deal was determined
by the circuit of realization of mass capitalism.
Johanna Bockman, Markets in the name of socialism : the left-wing origins of neoliberalism (Stanford University Press, 2011). Review by, Zsuzsa Gille, in Slavic Review Vol. 71, No. 3, FALL 2012, pp. 655-657
From this review it appears that I am on the same wavelength as Johanna Bockman. Waiting for book to be delivered to my library.
Kalecki’s Economics Today Edited by Zdzislaw L. Sadowski and Adam Szeworski
Neoclassical vs. Institutional Economics
Bandera, V. N., 1963 "New Economic Policy (NEP) as an Economic Policy," the journal of political economy 71:265-279
U.S. Political Economy by Sector
The New Deal coalition that lay the foundation for Finland's educational success not only existed in the United States as a significant force; in some ways it more clearly demonstrated the advanced capitalist nature of what is almost universally misconceived as some kind of coalition of middle class reformers, workers, and farmers that was anti-business (such is the fairy tale told by historians). In fact, a close study of the Keynesian Elite in the New Deal state shows that not only was the leading institutional formation of reform not anti-business (they represented important parts of modern capitalism); and not merely middle class reformers (they were part of the emergence of the higher-order functions of advanced capitalism that transcended the merely localized praxis of the firm); they were the vanguard of advanced capitalism. (Morris L. Cooke refered to the Taylor Society as the spearpoint of modern business.)
What was demonized in later years as the welfare state was in fact the emergence of higher-order functions of capitalism itself. Bear in mind that the advanced capitalism of the 21st century depends above all on human capital formation, precisely what the Finnish political economy is so good at.
The figure to the right--the Keynesian Elite in the New Deal state--must be the point of departure for understanding the New Deal. Notice that it is possible to group the administrative agencies of the New Deal state into five major groups: infrastructure, human capital, labor, planning, and credit. Each group was staffed by a set of Taylor Society "technocrats" and a Frankfurter-linked lawyer. (See The Brandeis/Frankfurter Connection: The Secret Political Activities of Two Supreme Court Justices.) This can be shortened to KE = ∑ (LDB/FF × TS)i (i = 1 − 5)
The Taylor Society emerged in the course of the Eastern Rate Case (1910), and is the zone of systems synthesis of mass/advanced capitalism, the locus of the emergent functions of the 'welfare state. The force-field of input output relations out of which the Keynesian elite emerged is suggested by the membership list (when interpreted in the context of the origins and history of the Taylor Society and its milieu).
This is the Brandeisian wing of Progressivism: cosmopolitan, enlightened, and above all, committed to science. Much attention has been paid to the middle class, professional character of this wing of progressivism (Otis Grahan Jr. Old Progressives and New Deal); almost none to the vast array of modern firms that constituted the business milieu of Progressivism.
Taylor Society I: Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State
Source: "Membership List, May 1927," in the Morris L. Cooke Papers, box 66, FDR Library
capitalism can be viewed as a phase in the unfolding of
complexity. Its cosmopolitan, technocratic orientation lends
itself easily to demonization from the right. Ironically, a
cult of the primitive values of a nostalgically remembered golden age
of small business becomes in the public sphere true capitalism, while
advanced capitalism's systems approach and its concern with human
capital formation is demonized [see Zombie Economics].
capitalism is politically weak in the United States, undermined by an
alliance of small business, evangelicals, provincial elites, and
rentier industries (energy, insurance, securities bloc) and now a new
and entirely predatory form of finance (vampire capitalism)--and it
shows, especially in the
area of the development of human capital. Human capital
development in the twenty first century means
competence among an expanding proportion of the
Thus the modern state of the twenty first century--committed to the broad development of human capital within a political framework misleadingly referred to as the welfare state--is virtually non-existent in the United States.
My work in decoding of the input-output flows that defined the KE was done within an economistic context, even if the KE was seen as an example of an emergent phenomenon. What was missing was an undestanding of the psychological dynamic, the emotional forces, that I have only recently been able to conceptualize adequately.
The concept of Bildung, so central to early ninetenth century German philosophy, became critical to understanding both the Communist Party of the United States and the Brandeis wing of progressivism. (See Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?)
The Taylor Society II: Member Firms, 1927
Source: "Membership List, May 1927," in the Morris L. Cooke Papers, box 66, FDR Library
papers of Morris L. Cooke (FDR Library, Hyde Park), document an inner
intellectual life of the New Deal administrative elite that was
absolutely stunning. One can also get a sense of the
intellectual dynamism of this network by reading the issues of the Bulletin of the
Taylor Society. Loius D. Brandeis played a
critical role in
the formation of the Taylor Society in the course of the Eastern Rate
Case (1910); his letters are available in Harold Urofsky, ed., Letters
of Louis D. Brandeis (State University of New York
Press). Alon Gal, Brandeis
of Boston (Harvard
University Press, 1980), provides a detailed account of Brandeis'
business milieu. The business milieu of modern
Progressivism, circa 1910, is also indicated by the members of the
Association and by the set of New England witnesses who were interested
parties in the Eastern Rate Case.
to New Deal: Charts).
The cognitive/psychological dimension of capital as such is not appreciated. Capital is thought of in terms of property, individual greed, and profit. I propose that capital also be thought of as an active force that is cognitive-organizational (and at varying levels of development), from the small shopkeeper to the major science-based multinational organization to the investment and regulatory activities of the state. The key document wherein one can see emergent Keynesianism as cognitive/psychological revolution is
Evidence Taken by the Interstate Commerece Commission in the Matter of Proposed Advances in Freight Rates by Carriers, August to December 1910, Senate Doc. 725, 61 Cong., 3 Sess.
The institutional context out of which Keynesianism emerged (already well-developed by 1910!) was the input-output matrix of mass consumer capitalism. (see Progressivism to New Deal: Charts and Progressivism to New Deal: Documents)
The calculating, planning, organizing mind, as individual and as aggregation of individuals, is at the core of capital as activity. Conversely, the market wherein desire is stimulated and gratified and stimulated again is the antithesis of this inner, cognitive-organizational dynamic of capitalism. This fundamental contradiction within capitalism has yet to be appreciated. (Although its effects are now evident. See Hall, et. al. above.)
from Shlomo Avineri, Hegel's Theory of the Modern State (Cambridge University Press, 1972)
. . . America has never been a state (in the Hegelian sense), only a 'civil society', where the common bond has always been viewed as a mere instrument for preserving individal life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . . In the American social ethos, the 'tax payer' always comes before the 'citizen'. n. 6, p. 135
*I have just come across this dissertation by Carlos E Pabon, University of Massachusetts - Amherst "Regulating capitalism: The Taylor Society and political economy in the interwar period"(abstrtact).
The Taylor Society III: Non-Mfg Organizations, 1927
Source: "Membership List, May 1927," in the Morris L. Cooke Papers, box 66, FDR Library
Institutions, Environments, and Inter-organizational Networks:
This m-by-n matrtix is from the Wikipedia article on Matrix (mathematics). See Wikipedia article on Input-output model for application to economics. For more on this, go to Chapter 2 Input-Output Analysis from the Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University.
I utilized this concept as the basis for my analysis of the Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State.
With the advent of the Internet, and especially with the availability of campaign contributions data now easily accessible at the Federal Election Commission website, it is possible to decode the capital patterns of the two-party system. An incomplete example of this is given in the right panel.
An input-output matrix is only one analytical framework useful in decoding capital patterns in the two-party system. A cosmopolitan-provincial analytical framework is also of great value.
For example, in the panel to the right I have listed the contributors in descending order, including for starters only those giving $2,400. A striking pattern emerges, demonstrating the utility of both input-output and cosmopolitan-provincial analytical frameworks.
This kind of work, based on access to such a (wonderful) mass of well-organized data (you can sort each candidate's contributions on several variables) is a natural for students in history, economics, and political science, and would make a good student project that would simultaneously be an original contribution to our understanding of capital formations in politics.
Institutions, Environments, and Inter-organizational Networks:
Iowa Congressional Districts 2009-10
Iowa 3rd Cong Dist: Boswell, Democrat, 2009-10
Contributor name Employer/Occupation City State
Deal, Pamela Retired*
Knapp, William C. II Knapp Properties Anoka MN
Taylor, Maurice Titan Tire Johnston IA
United Contractor's, Inc. Quincy Ill
United Contractors (bridges)
Jensen Construction Co (bridges)
CONLIN PROPERTIES (comm. real est)
SYNGEST (green industrial)
DORSEY & WHITNEY, LLP (superlaw)
YOUTH SERVICES INC
NEWLIN, DORIS JEAN Prominent philanthropist (Elite)
Iowa 3rd Cong Dist: Zaun, Republican, 2009-10
Contributor name Employer/Occupation City State
Frank Brownell Brownells, Inc.
from Robert W. Gutman, Mozart, a Cultural Biography (Harcourt Brace, 1999)
Let your reason furnish the answer . . . ," the second priest in Mozart's The Magic Flute advises the questioning birdman, Papageno. The philosophe believed that through rational analysis the world could be understood, explained, and regulated. Its good was to be cherished, its evil conquered. European thought became permeated with the idea that society had the means to construct a better civilization, that through the exercise of reason, the human lot might be enobled. (20-21)
The Progressive mind assigned the Bible's revelations and miracles as well as the Church's sacraments to superstition and looked upon ideas like God and the soul at best as ideals, at worst as illusions. The three boy messengers in The Magic Flute would assuredly proclaim: "Soon superstition will die, soon the wise will prevail. . . . Then the earth will be a paradise, and men will be like gods. (21)
Science, though in its infancy, particularly threatened the credibility of the Bible. As early as 1712, the Marquise de Lambert observed that in the salon the Christian Mysteries had become a laughingstock: "Anyone but venturing a belief in God was thought to belong to the lower orders." Cardinal de Bernis remarked in his Mémoires that by 1720 people of quality for the most part ignored the Gospels. (25).
Was Mozart a Communist?
In the 1970s I interviewed more than a hundred UAW activists, including many Communists. One of them was Saul Wellman, in the postwar years the chairman of the Michigan CP. The transcript below is a striking expression of the cognitive and cultural dynamic of becoming a Communist:
Wellman: Flint is what I consider to be the asshole of the world; it's the roughest place to be. Now we recruited dozens of people to the Party in Flint, and they came out of indigenous folk. [that is, native white Americans, not immigrants] And those are the best ones. But we couldn't keep them in Flint very long, once they joined the Party. Because once they came to the Party a whole new world opened up. New cultural concepts, new people, new ideas. And they were like a sponge, you know. And Flint couldn't give it to them. The only thing that Flint could give you was whorehouses and bowling alleys, you see. So they would sneak down here to Detroit on weekends--Saturday and Sunday--where they might see a Russian film or they might . . . hear their first opera in their lives or a symphony or talk to people that they never met with in their lives.
P. Friedlander: to me that's one of the most significant processes of people becoming radicals, is this . . .
SW: but you lose them in their area . . .
PF: right. You lose them, but I think something is going on there that I think radicals have not understood about their own movement . . .
SW: right . . .
PF: something about the urge toward self improvement . . .
SW: right . . .
and cultural advancement . . .
SW: right, right . . .
PF: and not to remain an unskilled worker in the asshole of the world . . .
SW: right, right. But there are two things going on at the same time. The movement is losing something when a native indigenous force leaves his community. On the other hand the reality of joining a movement of this type is that the guy who is in the indigenous area looks around and says this is idiocy, I can't survive here.
the above two rows are excerpted from Bildung: Was Mozart a Communist?
Saul Wellman, Robert Thomson, David Doran, at Fuentes de Ebro, during the Spanish Civil War
from Robert K. Logan, The Extended Mind: The Emergence of Language, the Human Mind, and Culture (University of Toronto Press, 2007)
"The computer and the Internet are the most recent techniques for organizing human thought in a long series of techniques and technologies, beginning with speech, for communicating, storing, retrieving, organizing, and processing information. The series includes spoken language, pictures, tallies, clay tokens, picture writing, logographic (pictographic or ideographic) writing, syllabaries, the alphabet, abstract numbers, numerals, mathematical sigs (+, −, ×, =), the concept of zero, geometry, mathematics, logic, abstract science, maps, graphs, charts, libraries, the printing press, encyclopedia, dictionaries, bookkeeping techniques, the scientific method, photography, the telegraph, the telephone, cinema, radio, audio recording, television, video recording, optical disks, computers, control theory, cyberntics, and the Internet.
"Computing and the Internet, however, are more than just new technologies. They represent new forms of language, if we accept that language is defined as a system for both communications and informatics. Computing and the Internet, which encompasses the World Wide Web, are part of an evolutionary chain of languages, which also incudes speech, writing, mathematics, and science."
from Truth and genesis : philosophy as differential ontology / Miguel de Beistegui. Indiana University Press, c2004.
The transcendental in Deleuze's sense amounts to a double twisting free, therefore: first, from transcendance, whether of God, of being, of the subject (of consciousness), or the object; second, from the problematic regarding the conditions of possibility of experience and knowledge in general, irreducibly complicit with the logic of resemblance. Deleuze replaces the classical problematic of the transcendental as involving transcendance and possibility with that of immanence and genesis. Transcendental empiricism is concerned with isolating the genetic and immanent conditions of existence of the real. And metaphysics is the sole instrument available for understanding what is real within the real, the only access to its inner movement, rife with novelty. (p. 244)
from Bruce Baugh, "Transcendental empiricism: Deleuze's response to Hegel," Man and World 25- 133-148, 1992
The empiricism of Gilles Deleuze is no a dogma about the essence of mind, nature, or reality, or "the doctrine according to which the intelligible 'comes' from the sensible."(1) It is rather a concern for "the concrete richness of the sensible" (D 54), for contingency, difference and incommensurability, and a resistance to universalizing abstractions through emphasis on the particularity of situated, historical practices (see D 112). But it also wants to be a metaphysics, a transcendental empiricism: "transcendental" in the sense of "necessary condtion," but not in the sense of providing foundations for knowledge claims; empiricism, because it searches for real conditions of actual experience, not because it bases all knowledge on generalizations from experience. It is meant to be an empiricism that would be immune to Hegel's critique of empiricism as the poorest and most empty kind of knowledge, ora post-Hegeliam empiricist metaphysics.(2)
This is the end of the overview. I am not attempting to write a book--in fact, I'm not sure where this is going, although I am sure it will never be finished. Perhaps the term rhizome will do.
from John Marks, Gilles Deleuze: Vitalism and Multiplicity (Pluto Press, 1998), p 45
The rhizome is a figure borrowed from biology, opposed to the principle of foundation and origin which is embedded in the figure of the tree. The model of the tree is hierarchical and centralized, wheas the rhizome is proliferating and serial, functioning by means of the principle of connection and heterogeneity.
Deleuze and Guatarri argue that the book has been linked traditionally to the model of the tree, in that the book has been seen as an organic unit, which is both hermetically sealed, but also a reflection of the world. In contrast, the rhizome is neither mimetic nor organic. It only ever maps the real, since the act of mapping is a method of experimenting with the real: and it is always an open system, with multiple exits and entrances. In short, the rhizome is an 'acentred' system; the map of a mode of thought which is always 'in the middle'.
These are not the owls of Minerva
Vincent Van Gogh - Crows Flying Over A Wheatfield (1889)