Cloward Pivening

Once upon a time in the mad 60’s a pair of mad lefty (but I repeat myself) socialist sociologists refined a strategy for bringing about the blessed socialist utopia by overloading and bankrupting the welfare system. This, they confidently hoped, would crash the capitalist system and bring about the longed-for socialist utopia. Essentially, they drafted the poor and unprivileged into an army demanding services which the state ultimately could not provide; somehow, this would crash the system and bring about radical social reform. The whole thing sounds rather like the Underpants Gnomes theory of economics or the cartoon showing a pair of white-coated scientists examining a complicated mathematical sequence on a chalkboard with a notation in the middle of it which says, “And here a miracle happens.”

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Titanic Metaphors

It’s been 110 years since the RMS Titanic sank on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.  The event has been a prolific source of books, movies–and metaphors.  Titanic has often been viewed as a metaphor for the complacency and arrogance of Western civilization before 1914, a symbol of technological overreach and hubris.  (The Onion had some fun with the Titanic-as-metaphor theme)

I think that there are a couple of other Titanic-related metaphors which are worth considering in our present era:

‘Working Cape Race’…around noon on April 14, Titanic received wireless messages warning of icebergs. The captain altered course to the south, a path believe to be free of ice, but maintained a speed of 22 knots.  That evening, senior wireless operator Jack Phillips,  was dealing with a flood of messages from passengers to friends ashore, when the SS California attempted to broadcast another ice warning to ships in the area.  The message was broken off by Phillips with “Stop Sending! I am working Cape Race.”  (‘working’ means ‘communicating with’, Cape Race was a Marconi Company shore station)

Not long afterwards, Titanic hit the iceberg.

Apparently the term ‘Working Cape Race’ has been adopted by some people to refer to those who are too preoccupied with the task at hand to perceive very important obstacles and hazards.

The phrase often seems apt these days–for example, when tv networks focus on the Johnny Depp defamation case when there are plenty of truly critical national and world issues to talk about.  I’m sure you can think of many more examples.

Progressive Flooding.  The compartmentalization which made the Titanic supposedly unsinkable obviously did not work.  One reason was that the iceberg was hit at an angle such that multiple compartments were torn open; the other reason was the phenomenon of progressive flooding.  This is a nautical architecture & operations term referring to the phenomenon where one compartment gets flooded…leading not only to the ship settling somewhat in the water, but also to a change in trim, namely, bow down…which can lead to other compartments overtopping their watertight bulkheads and spilling water into previously-safe compartments.

Again, I think the concept is sadly applicable to some of our political and social problems.  Failures in one aspect of society can lead to failures in another aspect…which can feed back to that first aspect, making it still worse…and so one.  Malign positive feedback, that is, a network of interconnected vicious circles.

For example, long-term unemployment can lead to an increase in drug addiction…both of which can lead to dysfunctional families…which drives reduced educational achievement for kids.  That reduced educational achievement drives further unemployment.

Discuss, if so inclined.

 

The Odessa Steps

The early Soviet propaganda movie, The Battleship Potemkin, culminates in a prolonged and shocking sequence of local citizens – men, women and children – gunned down by remorseless Czarist soldiers on Odessa’s famed harbor-to-town staircase. The sequence remains a shocker. (And is still studied in film schools, apparently, for being ground-breaking effective and technologically ahead of the time.) Historically, there was never such a massacre on the Steps, but the sequence served as a kind of cinematic shorthand for State brutality aimed at essentially harmless, unarmed, unthreatening civilians in a public place; civilians who were seen to be defying the authority of the State. And so the armed minions of the State acted – because even the mildest defiance of Authority on the part of ordinary workers and their families is a stab at the heart of those Authorities. They cannot brook defiance, and so out come the armed police, just as they have this week in the streets of Ottawa with regard to the truckers protesting vaccine mandates. All the forces of the law, with the cheerful approval of the Canadian established media, the intellectual and ruling class – it’s really rather breathtaking, this concentrated venom and enthusiasm for breaking heads and bones, all aimed at the workers participating in a civil and well-organized street protest. (It would seem that as far as the RCMP are concerned, Dudley Do-Right and Constable Benton Fraser both have left the building – so much for Canadian ‘polite.’)

What will happen now that the ordinary working stiffs of Canada have been so casually abused by their native ruling class; threatened with having bank accounts frozen, their means of earning a living confiscated, themselves arrested, while their pets and children given over to the tender care of animal shelters and the child “protection” authorities? How far will this protest go now, bouncing down the Odessa Steps like a runaway baby carriage? It could be that Canadians, with the ethos of being polite, courteous, and truthful, may be truly shocked, shocked to the point of open rebellion over being consistently lied about and bullied by their ruling elite. In America, our own flyover country residents are perfectly accustomed to being abused as stupid, red-necked rubes by our own elite class. It’s what we have come to expect of NPR, the political ruling class, the New York/Hollywood cultural axis and the inside-the-Beltway-Washington DC denizens; what we have come to expect of them anyway. It may be a new and shocking development to ordinary, working-class Canadians, this contempt for the working class, though. Comment as you wish.

The Proper Frame for the Narrative

I am watching matters develop with regards to the trucker strike, with appreciative interest, seeing that is really another variant of a grass-roots spontaneous civic spontaneity, much like the Tea Party was, some years ago. The Canadian trucker protest has that in common with the Tea Party protesters – but the difference might be that the independent trucker community is a smaller, a more cohesive and even more media-savvy and self-disciplined party. The various Tea Party protests were more general, cut across class lines (at least the urban-focused one that I was involved in was, no matter what the establishment national media might insist) and focused more upon voting in various political races then upcoming, and protesting the general monetary incompetence of the Obama Administration.

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A Pretty Decent Example of Government Public Communications

The FAA information page on the 5G vs radio altimeter issue.

Note especially the visual explanation of the answer to the question “if it’s safe in other countries, why would it be a problem here?  (linked in the text with the word ‘France’)

It strikes me that this is significantly better done than most government communications (whether federal, state, or local) regarding Covid.