I. Fascism Today:

Hitler is to Trump

as
Tragedy is to Farce






Kant: "Thoughts without intuitions are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind."

Hegel: "Philosophy always arrives too late . . . .  The Owl of Minerva takes flight only as the dusk begins to fall."

Marx: "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce."

••• History without philosophy is only a screen on which to project the shibboleths of our time.

••• Hitler is to Trump as tragedy is to farce.



II. Donald Trump and the end of Literacy
the abyss of decognification

Brain plasticity and biocultural niche
The evolutionary context of Trump's response to Covid 19




READ THIS NOW: The Social Origins of Language, excerpts



Cognitive performativity is a context-dependent, biocultural historical phenomenon, not explicable within a discursive field shaped by the Cartesian synthetic a priori.

The election of Donald Trump is a lagging indicator of the disintegration of cognitive performativities.

Language on the threshold of gesture and reflex (Donald)

Regression to infantile narcissism via processes of identification (Zaretsky on Trump)

The war against reason and the politics of patrimonialism: why Trump loves Putin (Weber)

paranoid-schizoid position (the sado-sexual eigenvector of “Trump” performativities: ressentiment and the mechanisms of defense): the lynching for rape discourse; conspiracy "theories" from the Bavarian Illuminati to QAnon. (Clarke)

  the depressive position: "the happy nihilism of the 'last man,' who makes everything comfortable, small, and trivial."*  Victimology. (Nietzsche, Ehrenberg)
 
Donald Trump and the abyss of decognification

herding primates: semiotic regimes, patrimonialilism and the fundamental incompetence of the Trump regime.

*Lawrence J. Hatab, A Nietzschean Defense of Democracy (1995), p. 28

from Levi R. Bryant, Difference and Givenness: Deleuze's Transcendental Empiricism and the Ontology of Immanence (Northwestern University Press, 2008

. . . . so long as philosophy assumes that thought has a natural affinity with the true . . . a specific form of objectivity (natural common sense), and bases itself on the model of recognition, thought cannot help but become unconsciously trapped in its own implicit presuppositions which are culturally, historically, and socially contingent. . . .  Deleuze thus begins with a critique of the transcendental subject as a structure consisting of invariant categories. (17)

 . . . the error will arise in that Kant treats concepts and intuitions as differing in kind, and thus being externally related, rather than discerning the manner in which they only differ in degree. (28)

from Robert B. Brandom, "The Centrality of Sellars's Two-Ply Account of Observations to the Arguments of 'Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind', in Robert B. Brandom, Tales of the Mighty Dead: Historical Essays in the Metaphysics of Intentionality (Harvard University Press, 2002)

. . . according to Sellars's view, the difference between theoretical objects and observable objects is methodologcal rather than ontological.  That is, theoretical and observable objects are not different kinds of things.  They differ only in how we come to know about them." (362)

Jess Keiser, Nervous Fictions: Literary Form and the Enlightenment Origins of Neuroscience (University of Virginia Press, 2020)

Wolfram Eilenberger, Time of the magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the decade that reinvented philosophy (Penguin Press, 2020)

from Christian J. Emden, Nietzsche on Language, Consciousness, and the Body (University of Illinois Press, 2005)

For Nietzsche, language lets us grasp, order, and judge what we regard as reality, and it also gives us the means to reflect on this reality through the development of general terms and concepts, which let us realize similarities and relations among things and see contexts and construct coherent systems of belief about this reality.  Our experience and knowledge of reality . . . is therefore embedded in a network of concepts delineating what we perceive as our environment.

from Karen Barad,
Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University, 2007)

. . . the primary ontological units are not 'things' but phenomena--dynamic topological / reconfigurings / entanglements  / relationalities / (re)articulations of the world.  And the primary semantic units are not 'words' but material-discursive practices through which (ontic and semantic) boundaries are constituted.  This dynamic is agency.

Figure 0.  from the origins of language to the end of print literacy in the United States
g


We are now engulfed in the implosion of neo-liberal "society."
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.

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: schools without books).* 


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 patrimonial assault on rational-bureaucratic institutions (demonized as "the deep state")--i.e., an assault on the very idea of science-based professionalism and public service.

Fourth, the triumph of nihilism** (or as it is known today, neoliberal subjectivity or just plain "liberalism").  This nihilism is manifest in the victim culture of the Democratic Party's appeal, which defines "self" not as citizen but as consumer (Veblen) and victim.  The New Deal's civic republicanism*** is dead.  (In this context, read Satin Island by Tom McCarthy and watch "The Social Dillema."  Also: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, NYT 2-20-13; Ed Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle, NYT July 21, 2011)

 * 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)
** from  Lawrence J. Hatab, A Nietzschean Defense of Democracy (1995), p. 28:
  . . . the happy nihilism of the 'last man,' who makes everything comfortable, small, and trivial.
*** on civic republicanism: Harold Mah, Enlightenment Phantasies: Cultural Identity in
      France and Germany, 1750-1914
(Cornell, 2003)
Analyzing Power Relations: Six Frameworks

Max Weber

Deleuze & Guattari
 
Vincent/McMahon

Piaget/Vygotsky

Michael Mann

This site

Three regimes (charismatic, patrimonial, rational-bureaucratic)

Three regimes (primitive, despotic, capitalist)

Left vs. Right: (topologies of the two-party system)

Cognitive modalities (topologies of the two-party system)

Four networks of power

Five genetic ontologies (topologies of the two-party system)



from Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power.  Volume II: The rise of classes and national states (Cambridge University Press, 1993)

It is a basic tenet of my work that societies are not systems.  There is no ultimately determining structure to human existence--at least none that social actors or sociological observers, situated in its midst, can discern.  What we call societies are only loose aggregates of diverse, overlapping, intersecting power networks.  p. 506

America has not so much been exceptional as it has gradually come to represent one extreme on a continuum of class relations.  America has never differed qualitatively from other national cases.  Differences have been of degree, not kind. . . .  Explanations asserting an original and enduring American exceptionalism . . . have only a very limited truth.  p. 638


Frameworks of Intelligibility
In order to comprehend this phenomenological horror show we need frameworks of intelligibilityAnalyzing Power Relations: Six Frameworks,  assembles six such frameworks.  For example, without Weber's concept of patrimonialism* is it impossible to understand the significance of what "Trump" is doing to the rational-bureaucratic state. 

Herding Primates: Semiotic Regimes: the Two-Party System, provides a conceptual framework enabling the decoding of the rhetorical activity** of hegemonic corporate*** media (MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News).

* from Richard Lachmann, "Coda: American Patrimonialism: The Return of the  
 Repressed” in Patrimonial Power in the Modern World, Julia Adams and Mounira

 Charrad, eds. (Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,  2011)

Patrimonialism, until fairly recently, seemed an archaic social form, largely replaced by bureaucratic rationalism. That confident view of modernity, in the histories that Max Weber and his followers wrote, deserves to be challenged as patrimonial regimes reappear in states and firms throughout the world.

** from F. Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols, "The Improvers of Mankind" (1)

Media statements "are therefore never to be taken literally: so understood, they are always merely absurd. Semiotically, however, they remain invaluable: they reveal, at least for those who can interpret them, the most valuable realities of cultures and psychologies that did not know how to "understand" themselves. [Media discursive practice] is only a language of signs, a group of symptoms: one must know how to interpret them correctly to be able to profit from them."

from Jerome Kagan, The Human Spark: The Science of Human Development (Basic Books, 2913)

A number of abstract psychological concepts remain popular because they satisfy the need for consistency among the investigator's semantic networks. The networks for the concepts of positive emotion and negative emotion are an example . . . .  The problems trailing attempts to preserve semantic consistency are clearest for concepts related to the antonyms good and bad.  Many popular terms for human qualities belong to semantic networks that have good and bad as nodes.  p. 271

*** I use the word corporate not as demonic reference, but to refer to analyzable networks of power, input-output flows, etc.  See

KE in New Deal State and Plane of Immanence:  Progressivism to New Deal: Bildung

"The Origins of the "Welfare State": The Keynesian Elite and the Second New Deal, 1910-1936" (manuscript, 1987): Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Notes, Appendices





 Herding Primates:
       Semiotic Regimes: The Two-Party System
    

gg


 LEFT*
RIGHT
Topology
            depressive
     paranoid-schizoid
Political style
 progressive
         proto-Dorian
Cognitive mode
     concrete & pre-op
    pre-op and gestural
Regime type
   rational-bureaucratic
patrimonial


Here are the sources for this conceptualization of the Two-Party System: Semiotic Regimes:

Simon Clarke, Social Theory, Psychoanalysis and Racism (Palgrave Macmillan; 2003)

Alain Ehrenberg, The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2009)

Eli Zarestsky, Secrets of the Soul: A Social and Cultural History of Psychoanalysis (Vintage, 2005)

Darrin M. McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightement: the French Counter-Enlightenment and the Making of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 48-52**
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
*Note on use of the term "Left."

Progressivism and Liberalism are opposites, not twins.  The genetic ontology of Progressivism is civic republicanism (Bildung and the Will to Power"; The genetic ontology of Liberalism today is commercial republicanism taken to an extreme (Nihilism).  Today's liberalism is referred to as the left, covering over the genetic-ontological transformation of the post-war years (see Hall et. al.)  The New Deal is not represented in the above figure and table, The Two-Party System: Semiotic Regimes. 

** from McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightement, pp. 48-52

What w
ere the elements of this emergent right wing vision?  The fundamental importance of religion in maintaining political order, a preoccupation with the perils of intellectual and social license, the valorization of the family and history, the critique of abstract rights, the dangers of dividing sovereignty, and the need for a strategic alliance between throne and altar . . .  Even more fundamental was a Manichean readiness to divide the word in two: bewtween good and evil, right and wrong, Right and Left.

Yet to say that the anti-philosophe discourse fulfilled an ideological function is not to assert that it offered a fully developed political platform.  Rather it provided a "symbolic template" through which to construe a perplexing and rapidly changing world, a number of "authoritative concepts" and "suasive images" by which they could be grasped. 

By invoking this mythic golden past . . . anti-philosophes revealed signs of a romantic, qasi-utopian yearning for wholeness and social unity that would characterize a strain in far Right thinking for years to come.            

Reactive, reductive, Manichean, this thinking is less noteworthy, perhaps, for its particulars than for its general form.  It was precisely this tendency to view society as a battleground between opposing camps that stands as a hallmark of the bipolar, Right-Left model of politics so fundamental to subsequent European history. . . .  Dividing the world between good and evil, between the pious and the profane, anti-philosphes saw their struggle as a cosmic war in which the winners would take all."

A Psychoanalytic Framework of Intelligibility
Today, many of our socials tensions have been expressed in terms of implosion and
depressive collapse or, in a similar way, its flip side: explosions of violence,
rage, the search for new sensations.
Alain Ehrenberg, The Weariness of the Self: Diagnosing the History of Depression in the Contemporary Age (McGill-Queens University Press, 2010)

We are changing, of course, but that does not necessarily mean we are progressing.  Combined with all the forces that today exhort us to look into our own private lives, the “civilization of change” has stimulated a massive interest in psychic disorders.  It can be heard from all quarters, and it takes form in the many marketplaces that offer inner balance and tranquility.  Today, many of our socials tensions have been expressed in terms of implosion and depressive collapse or, in a similar way, its flip side: explosions of violence, rage, the search for new sensations.  pp. 185-6

As addictive explosion reflects depressive implosion, so the drug-taker’s search for sensation reflects the depressed person’s lack of feeling.  Depression, that crossroads of pathology, serves as a canvas upon which to sketch out the changes in modern subjectivity, the displacement of the hard task of being healthy.  In a context in which choice is the norm and inner insecurity the price, these pathologies make up the dark side of contemporary private life.  Such is the equation of the sovereign individual: psychic freedom and individual initiative = identity insecurities and the incapacity to act.  p. 232




i. the disintegration of the cognitive performativities of modernity and the end of print literacy
•The first axis of ontological catastrophe, the disintegration of the cognitive performativities of modernity itself:

the "human" side of "capital." (decognification, disindividuation; Trump's election is a lagging indicator the implosion of literacy and cognition.) 
This disintegration is comprehended within the context of Figure 0.  from the origins of language to the end of print literacy, with a special focus on the Guttenberg Parenthesis, the period of the emergence of print literacy (the sine qua non of modernity). 

Only now is it possible to comprehend the importance of all that print literacy, on a more than rudimentary level, implies: the ability to think, and the biocultural niche within which modern thought emerges, a domain defined by books most of all, and by the semiotic webs that books embody; and the salons and the public sphere (Habermas) where discussions unfold within the context of the print-based biocultural niche of modernity.*

Conversely, the end of print literacy, so perfectly embodied by the 45th president of the United States, andby the admin  policy in many charter schools in south east Michigan of forbidding students to touch the books on display (for  political rerasons) in the bakc of the classrooms--schools without books--
.involves an unwinding of Mind, a deflation, reduction, simplification of the performativities of post-modern biocultural niches.  Damped harmonic occilations would be an apt image for this process of decognification and semiotic disintegration.  Read these three boxes now:
 


The election of Donald Trump is a lagging indicator of the disintegration of cognitive performativities.  Preceding his election was the decline of mathematical competence indexed by Figures 3a and 3b,  which indicate that a catastrophic decline in cognitive performativity preceded and made possible the fascist-patrimonial victory of November 2016.  The coronavirus debacle that is Trump is a product of and an accelerant of that decline.  As I write this the second time as farce is being played out in a bizarrely idiotic post-election dance of semiotic regimes, Trump's fascist performativities (the sado-racism** that is his hallmark and chief means of mass mobilization) are dialectically bound up with the liberal media's pathetic parries: from that's not presidential to he's an authoritarian.

The cognitive-performative gap between Obama and Trump is two orders of magnitude.  The basis for this statement can be found here (Measures of Cognitive Performativity.  Cognitive performativity is context-dependent (as Ceci speculated twenty years ago).  Emotional overload short-circuits complex thought.

This cognitive-performative gap is a key aspect of the coronavirus mask-fight.

But cognitive disintegration can also be observed in the rhetorical performances of MSNBC, about which I will have more to say later.

* from 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.

**  The sado-racist performativities  are a subgroup of the sado-sexual eigenvector of GOP.  This is interesting, in that sexuality dominantes the notion of the other, and, indeed, if one examines the campaign issues and media productions of the GOP, one finds not only an obsession with sex,  (Freud, Totem)


Figure 1.  The UAW (Unity Caucus): Bildungsproletarians and Plebeian Upstarts, 1933-1943: Detroit and the lower great lakes

y


the bildungs-proletarians of southeast Michigan circa 1935-44
So far this page has moved, perhaps haphazardly, from the origins of language to the contemporary scene in the United States (Figure 0), while making clear at the outset that philosophy (Kant to Foucault, et al) is at the very center of this enterprise, and that one of the major problematics of this enterpise is the decline and perhaps catastrophic implosion of both individual cognitive development and cognitive performativity in real-life arenas (rallies, press conferences, "news" shows, interviews with rally attendees, etc.). 

Enter the bildungs-proletarians* of southeast Michigan circa 1935-44.  Figure 1, The UAW (Unity Caucus) will have many uses and emerge in many contexts on this site.  Look at History of Reading NOW.  Chapter 11 provides an indespensible context.

11. New Readers and Reading Cultures ("The half century between the 1880s and the 1930s was the golden age of the book in the West.")

The first thing that must be said is that these bildungs-proletararians were intensely rather that merely literate.  They were quintessentially modern.  (Red-diaper babies know what I'm talking about.  As I found out when I came to Detroit, the pink-diaper babies who grew up in the Socialist milieu  of Reuther, Mazey, Silver, Kord, Jenkins, Bully, and so on, were similarly quintessentially modern.)**

It is our heritage--we red- and  pink-diapered ones who had been born into  this modernist milieu of bildungs-proletarians--that we are part of the extended mind of working-class modernity (Joe Adams Dodge Main sums it up). 

Now it becomes clearer what I am up to.  These interviews are a set of dialogic unfoldings that form a lens through which to examine the ontologies and events, the transformations and reactions, that are subsumed under the term unionization.  The factories, meeting halls, and neighborhoods of southeastern Michigan are laboratories in which to investigate the play of forces: first, the deep structures, the genetic ontologies (the principles of the production of practices--Bourdieu) that dominate the manifold areas of human activity; and second, the irruption of forces of an entirely different kind (Bordieu), referred to variously as agency, bildung, and the will to power.  In addition, some of these interviews forced me to include the more nebulous concept of jouissance.

It was these bildungs-proletarians around whom formed the action networks of plebeian upstarts (the Unity Caucus) who created the modern UAW in the 1930s.  From the standpoint of praxis both the Unity Caucus and the Keynesian elite should be conceived of as vanguard formations within the biocultural field of Progressivism.  Hence the juxtaposition of Figures 1 and 2.

What made this whole site possible is the literary and cognitive capabilities of the bildungsproletarian whom I interviewed.

In the cell to the right I provide a few examples.

1.  Neil Leighton and the shock of recognition.  All of us historians who interviewed these “workers” back in the seventies and eighties were struck by their powers of mind, and also by what can only be described as their strength of character.

2.  Saul Wellman wasn't a historian.  He was a communist (post-war chairman of the Mich CP). 

3.  Joe Adams sums up the mentalité of his peers

4.  Read these minutes and think of Donald Trump.  These workers were mostly plebeian upstarts, not bildungsproletarians.  Imagine what a Donald Trump in that context would sound like.  To get an idea of this, read Philip Rucker and Carol Leonning, A Very Stable Genius, pp. 129-139, on Trump's first big national security meeting in "The Tank" (when Tillerson called Trump a "fucking moron").

5. Reading the Kraus interview . . . Once I had gotten things organized (Figure 1) I went back to see how Fig 1 would work as a synthetic a priori.  Bingo! (This needs explaining)

* see Marshall W. Alcorn, Jr., Narcissism and the Literary Libido: Rhetoric, Text, and Subjectivity (New York University Press, 1994): excerpts
**




1. NL.: the shock of recognition

one of the most interesting things for those of us working on this project is that after just a very short period of time in talking to a lot of rank-and-file people, you realize that, although they look like everybody else in Flint, they’re not, down deep they’re not. And their views on politics and religion may be the same as everybody else; they may be different. But there’s a certain level below which―and they’ve got these skills. Of course, the people coming out of the academic world, you know, particularly those out of a middle-class background, they cannot believe that anybody that hasn’t been to college can read.

2. Saul Wellman (CP):  on cogntive and cultural "awakening" in Flint immediate post-war years

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.  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. . . .

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.

3. Joe Adams (Dodge Main) interview conducted around 1975-76

“My background on unionism.  Mostly it was like on my dad with the newspaper socialism.  He believed in socialism.  He used to sit there and talk.  I had seven brothers, and hell, the old man used to sit down.  He was a pretty intelligent guy, like the Reuther boys we used to listen to the old man.”

“Religion was a bunch of bullshit.  As a statesman Reuther got to be where he went to some church and just went there once in a while just to make it look good, but shit when he died he [they] let nobody near him—any of them—godddamn rabbis or preists or ministers, he felt the same way about all of them there like [Roy] and him, up your bunhole, just burn it and get the hell over with it.  That’s the way I feel about it.”

 “There are a nucleus of people in any organization that make all organizations function.  I don’t care what you say.  You can have a million members and there can be fifty of them that makes the UAW function, which is what happened there for the last thirty five years.  The Reuthers, the Woodcocks, myself.  You know when a guy like me brings in 250,000 members into this goddamn union he has to have a semblance of some intelligence.  he just can’t go out and say ‘I’m an organizer’.  In Patterson NJ there was 32,000 people in Wright Aeronautical, and I got 23,000 votes out of them people for the UAW.”

4.
Minutes, Murray Body Committee Local 2 at Executive Board Meeting, April 26, 1939, Toledo Ohio, Addes Collection, Box 14.11, Reuther Archives Detroit re. competitive situation in the spring and wire industry

5. Reading the Kraus interview through the lens of figure 1

5.  Packard Rept

6.  Chrysler Emergency Meeting Schiller Hall 1939

7.  Christofel-Lilienthal (and Lindahl): Allis Chalmers (Milwaukee, UAW Local 248), and Packard (Detroit east side, UAW Local 190)



ii. the explosion of fascist performativities

•The second axis of ontological catastrophe is the explosion of fascist performativities within the orbit of the GOP.  Robert O. Paxton, Anatomy of Fascism, provides the most concentrated formulation of the Dasein of fascism:

"The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism."

A corrections officer in Florida put it this way:


subsumable under this concept of fascism are the following well-known performances of sadism:

Donald Trump coming down the escalator
Donald Trump encouraging police to beat up suspects
Donald Trump's holocaust at the border

Fascism is a Concept not an Epithet
Fascism and Patrimonialism
Fascism: history

Theater of ressentiment (2011 re. the Giffords shooting)
The Imus Brouhaha
The Stupid Party

Figure 2. The Keynesian Elite in the New Deal state
h
Source: "Membership List, May 1927," in the Morris L. Cooke Papers, box 66,
FDR Library; and United States Government Manual 1937
Felix Frankfurter Papers (Library of Congress, manuscript division)
for more info on Fig.2 click on Keynesian Elite: Career Matrix;
also see the
Papers of John M. Carmody
Joanna Bockman. Markets in the Name of Socialism: The Left-Wing Origins of Neoliberalism (Stanford University Press, 2011): three reviews

MEMO Ben Cohen to Leon Henderson, June 12, 1939
MEMO Corwin Edwards to Leon Henderson April 22, 1939
FF to FDR 11-21-34 re. Leffingwell


Three Levels of Contextualization re. question of fascism (primate inheritance--family furnishings; ressentiment and the mechanisms of defense)

LEVEL 1

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 socities with large intracultural variations and even rapid transformation of warring societies into peaceful ones.  

The Stupid Party; Limbaugh

from Merlin Donald, "The mind considered from a historical perspective: human cognitive phylogenesis and the possibility of continuing cognitive evolution." In D. Johnson & C. Ermeling (Eds.) The Future of the Cognitive Revolution (Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 360-61

Mimetic representations are evident in human children before they acquire language competence. . . .  They continue to be important in adults, taking the form of highly variable social customs, athletic skills, and group expressive patterns (such as mass demonstrations of aggression or rejection).

Juan Carlos Gomez, Apes, Monkees, Children and the Growth of Mind (Harvard University Press, 2004)

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 socally controlled attention and interactive experiences with humans, and on the other, a new, more explicit form of representing the world, would confer dramatic support to the Vygotskian notion that higher cognition can be created through cultural processes of develoment that change the nature of cognitive ontogeny. (pp. 262-3)

The Social Origins of Language pp. 4-5


 . . . in the case of many nonhuman primates, dominance asserted through violence or threat is the internal principle of social organization . . . . primate-style dominance is periodically overthrown and then restored, only to be overthrown and restored again and again. 

LEVEL 2

from Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers.  It was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage.  There was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them,  and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world.  To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. . . .  They were conqurerors, and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it. p. 40

2. from Friedrich Nietzsche, The Geneology of Morals, II, 14

Here the works of vengefulness and rancor swarm; here the air stinks of secrets and concealment;  . . . and what mendaciousness is employed to disguise that this hatred is hatred!  What a display of grand words and postures, what an art of "honest" calumny! PAUKETET

Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry, passim

The Lynching for Rape DiscourseSEE BEYOND FASCISM--new page

LEVEL 3
backlash--stupid party





x
x

A History of Reading and Writing In the Western World
Chapter headings from A History of Reading and Writing In the Western World PalgraveMacmillan, 2010)

 9. The Reading Fever, 1750-1830 ("Everyone in Paris is reading . . .  Peoplerr read while riding in carriages  or taking walks . . . Women, children, journeymen and apprentices read in shops.  On Sundays people read while seated at the front of their houses; lackeys read on their back seats, coachmen up on their boxes, and soldiers keeping guard."

10. The Age of the Mass Reading Public (“Between the 1830s and the First World War . . . a mass reading public came into existence.”)

11. New Readers and Reading Cultures
("The half century between the 1880s and the 1930s was the golden age of the book in the West.")


Texts & Interviews


E.P. Thompson; Rancier, Rose, Chase

Postel; , Kelly

Joe Adams re modernist atheism
Saul Wellman
Henry Kraus on Wyndham Mortimer
Paul Silver on Literacy and Orality
Minutes Murray Spring div
Luria
Emergence of a UAW Local




















3/4: Third, the patrimonial assault on rational-bureaucratic institutions--i.e., an assault on the very idea of science-based professionalism and public service.**  Why does Trump get along so well with the alpha males of other patrimonial regimes?  Not simply because he is one of them.  The inner logic of such regimes--esp. in the case of Trump--besides predation, is the objective necessity to destroy the entire culture of science-based administration in agency after agency as an existential imperative.  This is the significance of Trump's appointments (Wolf, Caputo, Whitaker, Barr, etc.).  This is the significance of the demonic shibboleth: "the deep state".
In other words, while predation (sometimes the word "transactional" is used) is the goal of indididual actors in the trump orbit, at a deeper level (where one might obserbve the immanent logic of patrimonialism as "strategic" praxis the very existence of a science-based rational-bureaucratic "state"poses an immediaete threat to the nascent patrimonial regime (For the deep state of the New Deal and the Administration of FDR see figure 3, the Keynesian elite in the New Deal state.)

4/4: Fourth, the triumph of nihilism (or as it is known today, neoliberal subjectivity).  This nihilism is manifest in the victim culture of the Democratic Party's appeal, which defines "self" not as citizen but as consumer and victim.  The New Deal's civic republicanism*** is dead.

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.

--
Nicholas Kristoff's discussion of the differences in cognitive performativity of McDonald workers in the U.S. and Denmark is disturbing.  Discussions of Trump’s cognitive perfomativity--in the Tank as well as at  rallies or in interviews--are disturbing, and also in a similar way.  That is, as an indicator of how far homo sapiens maralogsis has become a new kind of pseudo-species, obsrevable within the frameworks of intelligibility that the Absolute 3.0 emerges.  (Absolute?  Absolutely!)

MSNBC and NIHILISM

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1.  prelude to Trump: a half-century of decognification
box 1

Nicholas Kristof, "McDonald’s Workers in Denmark Pity Us," New York Times, May 8, 2020

Think of it this way. Workers at McDonald’s outlets all over the world tend to be at the lower end of the labor force, say the 20th percentile. But Danish workers at the 20th percentile are high school graduates who are literate and numerate.

In contrast, after half a century of underinvestment in the United States, many 20th-percentile American workers haven’t graduated from high school, can’t read well, aren’t very numerate, struggle with drugs or alcohol, or have impairments that reduce productivity.

from Philip Roth unbound: interview transcript (Daily Beast, October 30, 2009)

Tina Brown: You said in an interview that you don’t think novels are going to be read 25 years from now. Were you being provocative or do you believe that to be true?

Philip Roth: I was being optimistic about 25 years really. No, I think it’s going to be cultic. I think always people will be reading them, but it’ll be a small group of people—maybe more people than now read Latin poetry, but somewhere in that range. . . .  To read a novel requires a certain kind of concentration, focus, devotion to the reading. . .  I think that that kind of concentration, and focus, and attentiveness, is hard to come by. It’s hard to find huge numbers of people, or large numbers of people or significant numbers of people who have those qualities.


from Maryanne Wolf, Reader Come Home: The Reading Brain in a Digital World (Harper Collins, 2018), p. 179

The seriousness of the current reality means that at the present rate, the majority of eighth-grade children could be classified as functionally illiterate in a few years' time.


from Edward Frenkel And Hung-Hsi Wu, "Republicans Should Love 'Common Core'.  National standards can revive the way we teach math and science," Wall Street Journal, 5-6-13

Mathematical education in the U.S. is in deep crisis. The World Economic Forum ranks the quality of math and science education in the U.S. a dismal 48th. This is one of the reasons the 2010 report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" by the National Academies warned that America's ability to compete effectively with other nations is fading. . . .  [The report refers to] the current lock-step march to the bottom of international student performance in math and science.





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2.
"He's a Fucking moron":
Trump's cog performativity as seen by those around him

"Fauci Says Trump's Attention Span Is a 'Minus Number,' Only Cares About Getting Re-elected": Woodward, Rage, from Newsweek 9-9-20

from David A. Graham, "The President Who Doesn't Read," The Atlantic, January 5, 2018

Ironically, it was the publication of a book this week that crystallized the reality of just how little Donald Trump reads. While, like many of the tendencies described in Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury, Trump’s indifference to the printed word has been apparent for some time, the depth and implications of Trump’s strong preference for oral communication over the written word demand closer examination.  “He didn’t process information in any conventional sense,” Wolff writes. “He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate.”


from Jonathan Bernstein, "Where Does Trump Get His Odd Ideas?" (Bloomberg Opinion, May 28, 2019)

The reporting is pretty clear: Trump doesn't read briefings, on politics or anything else. He doesn't appear to have absorbed the basics of public policy, whether on health care or national security or even issues, like trade, that he cares about. Instead, he seems to pick up fragments of information in conversation or, more often, from cable television. Often, it's partisan talking points, which isn't surprising since much of what airs on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC consists of partisan talking points.

Philip Rucker and Carol Leonning, A Very Stable Genius, pp. 129-139


from Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, "Woodward book: Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans" (Washington Post 9-9-20)

Trump says he knew coronavirus was ‘deadly’ and worse than the flu while intentionally misleading Americans." Washington Post 9-9-20 LINK

In a separate conversation recounted by Woodward, Mattis told Coats, “The president has no moral compass,” to which the director of national intelligence replied: “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”  PRE-OPERATIONAL!




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3.  Donald Trump and Brain Plasticity: the cognitive implications of literacy

box 3

Daniel Dor and Eva Jablonka, “Why we need to move from gene-culture co-evolution to culturally driven co-evolution"

The range and boundaries of plasticity are not fixed, however, and in some cases plasticity itself can be plastic.  This is especially clear in the case of complex behaviors.  For example, 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. 23

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 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)




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Figure 3a.  PISA Math Scores, 2003 to 2018:
21 Developed Nations & 4 East Asian City-States (SHMC)
H
note 1.   . . . several limitations in the data used in non-response-bias analyses submitted by Hong Kong (China) and the United States.  see"inexplicable anomalies"

Figure 3b.  PISA Math Scores, 2003 to 2018:
                        18 Anglo-European Nations
a
see"inexplicable anomalies"
Problems with the U. S. Data:
Political (2006) and "Technical" (2018)
notes


Cognitive-linguistic Cardinality (orders of magnitude/index of cognitive complexity)
canThe Quantum Heterogeneity of Dasein in the context of Merlin Donald, A Mind So Rare, Table 7.1, p. 260 (apologies to George Cantor)

אi
i =  4  internet and extended mind
i =  3  Foucault (Hegel, Nietzsche . .
i =  2  Formal operational
i =  1  Concrete operational
i =  0  Pre-operational/oral-mythic
i = -1  Mimetic/gestural
i = -2  primate


Michael Cole, Cynthia Lightfoot, and Sheila R. Cole, The Development of Children (Worth Publishers, 2009)


Merlin Donald, A Mind So Rare: the Evolution of Human Consciousness (W.W. Norton, 2001)

from Sue Taylor Parker and Michael L. McKinney, The Origins of Intelligence: the Evolution of Cognitive Development in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999)


[Merlin] Donald . . .  proposes successive levels of mental adaptation (all of which persist in humans): (1) the episodic culture of monkeys and apes, (2) the mimetic culture of Homo erectus, (3) the mythic culture of modern Homo sapiens, and (4) the theoretic cultures of literate humans. (pp. 275-6; emphasis added)

the Lacan-Atwater Signifying Chain
from Wikipedia: (Lee Atwater's Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy)

As a member of the Reagan administration in 1981, Atwater gave an anonymous interview to political scientist Alexander P. Lamis. Part of the interview was printed in Lamis's book The Two-Party South, then reprinted in Southern Politics in the 1990s with Atwater's name revealed. . . . Atwater talked about the Republican Southern Strategy and Ronald Reagan's version of it:

Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now you don't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger"—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a by-product of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

from Lisa McGirr, "Piety and Property: Conservatism and Right-Wing Movements in the Twentieth Century," in A History of Our Time: Readings on Postwar America (Oxford, 2008)

. . . in the wake of Goldwater’s defeat Reagan and other conservatives had refashioned their discourse, moving away from tirades on socialism and communism and toward attacks on liberal “permisiveness,” “welfare chiselers,” and “runaway spending. p. 365-6

National political contenders like Nixon and Wallace picked up on the discourse of “morality,” “law and order,” “welfare chiselers,” and “liberal permissiveness,” and rode a tide of popular middle- and lower-middle-class resentment toward the social changes of the decade. p. 366

Free marketeers, the senior partners in the conservative coalition, have been at the cutting edge of recent historial change.  Religious conservatives, while obtaining new access to the corridors of power, are still waiting to see their concerns over abortion, homsexuality, and obcenity reflected in pubic policy.” p. 370


The excerpts to the right and the next two cells below it assemble contemporary materials from the media and from recent work in the history of cognitive performativities. 



Nicholas Kristof's comparison of the cognitive performativity of lower end of the labor force in Denmark and the United States should send chills down your spine.

Philip Roth's comments on the extinction of reading are equally stunning.

Maryanne Wolf's comment--the majority of eighth grade children could be classified as funtionally illiterate in a few years' time--must now be viewed, in the light of our current crisis, as optimistic.

Frenkel and Wu is another gut punch.  Each of these comments ought to be taken seriously.  Even before this crisis, were were loking into the abyss.
•     •     •
In the next box of quotes Trump's cognitive performativity is addressed. 










In box 2 of quotes Trump's cognitive performativity is addressed. 


k
Public policy making re. the pandemic depends upon an understanding of the concept of exponential growth.  When GOP governors (Texas, Florida, Georgia) reject science-based advice with the standard rhetorical gesture--we will close things down if there are a lot of cases, but there are only a few cases now--they reveal their inability to think on the formal-operational level.  They are actually saying (implicitly) we will only act when it is too late, and not a moment sooner.  Repeat eternally. (Nietzsche laughs). 








In the third box of quotes are examples of contemporary scholarly thinking on the significance of print literacy.  Let what these scholars are saying sink in, and you begin to realize the enormity of what is happening.



Family Furnishings: Our Primate Inheritance
 . . . in the case of many nonhuman primates, dominance asserted through violence or threat is the internal principle of social organization . . . . primate-style dominance is periodically overthrown and then restored, only to be overthrown and restored again and again.  @(The Social Origins of Language pp. 4-5)

The accelerated encephalization in Homo heidelbegensis, both in Africa and Eurasia, from 700 kya, and especially from 300 kya, suggests a runaway feedback process of selection for social intelligence.  (The Social Origins of Language, p. 201)

From Homo heidelbegensis to Homo maralagosis
c
The Map is not the Territory
Understanding the current sitution demands adequate conceptualization of the phenomenological bundles addressed by the concept of fascism.  Fascism is not a thing or a person or a situation or a state of affairs.  It is a heuristic device that must be deployed.  When done either analytically or dialectically, deployment of such "devices" enables us to "realize similarities and relations among things and see contexts and construct coherent systems of belief about this reality.  Our experience and knowledge of reality . . . is therefore embedded in a network of concepts delineating what we perceive as our environment.

I unfold the problematic of fascism first analytically, by analyzing key texts and finding the major themes as well as dealing with various approach.  This work is presented on Fascism and Patrimonialism. 

I then proceed dialectically: the materials on page 1 are forced into an encounter with the American reality, as well as key works on this reality (Carter, ...)

Hovering over this whole enterprise is the ghost of Nietzsche and Joesph Conad's Heart of Darkness.

The map is not the territory.

Understnding the current situation and how we got here is not possibel within the discursive domain of MSNBC


from Imanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (1781/1787)

Thoughts without intuitions are empty; intuitions without concepts are blind.

from
Christian J. Emden, Nietzsche on Language, Consciousness, and the Body (University of Illinois Press, 2005)

For Nietzsche, language lets us grasp, order, and judge what we regard as reality, and it also gives us the means to reflect on this reality through the development of general terms and concepts, which let us realize similarities and relations among things and see contexts and construct coherent systems of belief about this reality.  Our experience and knowledge of reality . . . is therefore embedded in a network of concepts delineating what we perceive as our environment.


Prelude to Trump: the Civil War in the UAW
the AFL federated unions period (the NRA period), sept 1933 to
AIWA and AAWA

The UAW (Unity Caucus): Bildungsproletarians and Plebeian Upstarts, 1933-1943: Detroit and the lower great lakes.


intersubjectivity and shared intentionality: the extended mind of the Unity Caucus

accumultion points and networks of action/purpose and arenas

electorates (hillbillie, foreign language (communist), home townsmen (Mack Walker), black peasants, Polish peasants); patrimonial gangs (Bert Harris, Fisher 1, press room; Pat Zomba, Pakcard)

(Bildung  + חֻצְפָ)

from Charles Yaeger (Buick Local 156 -->594, Pontiac) Oral History transcript, pp. 11-12)

Finally the CIO group [Unity Caucus], the Addes and Reuther forces in the union at that time, called a special convention with the blessing of the parent CIO in Cleveland, and there we organized what became the UAW-CIO.

We attended the Cleveland Convention [March 27, 1939], and it was there that the union was born after all this factional problem.  Then, of course, we had to go back and reorganize the plants because as much as the International was torn asunder the locals were, too.  We took over the local union with(in) our unit of the old amalgamated [Local 156], which became [local] 594.  We took it over with about 7,000 people working in the plant and 503 or 504 members.  This was all the membership we had.  We did not have the union. [7.2]%




Elites:

sources (Burch et. al.; Mann, Mizruchi)
concepts(strategic elites, provincial elites
current usage of the term



from Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Their talk, however, was the talk of sordid buccaneers.  It was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage.  There was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them,  and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world.  To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe. . . .  They were conqurerors, and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it. p. 40
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. Why Trump could not possibly have acted differently re. Covid 19.

Phenomenological manifold

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)