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Mon Feb 18, 2019, 10:10 AM

Parasitic Ideas and the Endarkenment make us the victims of our own successful civilization

I've been thinking a lot lately about ideas which are parasitic. Parasitic ideas are ones that are inherently anti-civilization, but they can only take root where a successful society has made their absurdity almost invisible.

Like the parasitic idea of anti-vaccine mania. Through thousands of years, our understanding of disease has slowly increased, slowly slowly, through painstaking work and careful documentation. We only figured out the germ theory of diseases about 150 years ago. And then, in the 20th century, we took all of that information and began devising ways to manage our immune systems to the point where horrible, life-threatening and -altering diseases were averted and almost wiped out. Suddenly, childhood was rid of a ton of the misery and death and fear and suffering that had always attended it.

And then naive people were born into this relative utopia, grew up without suffering through measles, whooping cough, polio, etc. looked around and decided that they weren't going to have their children vaccinated. This is an idea borne of ignorance - of not having any visceral feeling for either what vaccines can help us avoid, or how well they have worked.

The same thing with Libertarians, who seem to have been born into this wonderful society we have, built on the sweat and cooperation and taxes of millions before them (and also slave labor), opened their kitten-like eyes and decided that they didn't have to participate. "I want to live like a parasite in this infrastructure which is already all around me and for which I have no clue how hard it was to create, how long it took to develop, and which I haven't taken a minute to think about how much I value." They live with the naive fantasy that they don't have to pay taxes, and everything will just continue to be great, tra-la, because they are ignorant fools.

Trickle Down Economics also falls into this category. The societies of the 60s and 70s, having a thriving middle class built up by progressive taxation, strong labor policy, and a social safety net, were charmed into thinking that everything was going to be OK, even as the rich and powerful dismantled all three of those things. With no regard for the massive fight and sacrifice labor leaders put in to getting us there, we allowed the very basis for our pretty great society to be attacked and start to crumble.

"Voter Fraud" is another one. We have democratic elections where more people's votes count than ever before, thanks to all of the people who fought to expand the franchise - to women, to minorities, to younger people. But the rich and powerful don't like democracy, because their greedy ideas can be voted down. So, while committing election fraud with one hand to subvert the will of the people, they scream about non-existent voter fraud with the other. And people ignorantly let them take our rights away.

Every victory that we achieve as a species, as a society, can be taken away from us when that victory (and the struggles behind it) fade from the popular memory. We are, as species, remarkably easy to con into throwing away our advantages in fits of naive ignorance.

Other parasitic ideas:

killing off Social Security, because the problem of old people in dire poverty doesn't seem to be around anymore.

killing the EPA, because the air and water seem clean enough and regulations interfere with profits

etc.

I leave it as an exercise of the reader to reflect on which groups of voters are most susceptible to Parasitic Ideas.

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Reply Parasitic Ideas and the Endarkenment make us the victims of our own successful civilization (Original post)
ProfessorPlum Feb 2019 OP
rampartc Feb 2019 #1
empedocles Feb 2019 #2
hunter Feb 2019 #3
certainot Feb 2019 #4
ProfessorPlum Feb 2019 #5
certainot Feb 2019 #6
radius777 Feb 2019 #11
DemocracyMouse Feb 2019 #18
Locrian Feb 2019 #7
DemocracyMouse Feb 2019 #19
Locrian Feb 2019 #20
DemocracyMouse Feb 2019 #21
Locrian Feb 2019 #23
DemocracyMouse Feb 2019 #22
pecosbob Feb 2019 #8
Firestorm49 Feb 2019 #9
lunatica Feb 2019 #10
Pobeka Feb 2019 #12
proud patriot Feb 2019 #13
tclambert Feb 2019 #14
Tumbulu Feb 2019 #15
Lars39 Feb 2019 #16
MrScorpio Feb 2019 #17

Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 10:24 AM

1. an incredible post, professor

i'd nominate for the greatest page

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 10:27 AM

2. Another one - the ultra wealthy?

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 12:23 PM

3. Right on!

Yours is an important observation.

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 12:56 PM

4. i like that term - the republican/parasitic political party sold all those

on rw talk radio except maybe your first eg, which i never heard on national talk radio from limbaugh or from my local blowhards but that doesn't mean local blowhards in particular states didn't

most of those parasitic ideas have been heard on rw radio for 3 decades

anti vax may also be partly thanks to the general anti-science and anti-intellectuality sold on talk radio. or people who think that george bush's "deep state" with guys like john bolton working for putin in charge might want to might want to give us all some weird virus....

political talk radio as a 20-1 monopoly has been the perfect vehicle for selling these idiot concepts and alt realities. it's a parasitic medium, hiding from thinking people who would rather listen to music or just turn it off than hear team limbaugh repeat lies over and over until they become commonly held 'facts' because those thinking people never challenged them until it was too late and republicans acted on them or they saw it on fox.

in most parts of the US it's the only major medium with no free easy alternatives on the other side of the political spectrum but the people most offended by those parasitic ideas believe the rw talking points that that 20 -1 monopoly represents american demand for those lies and hate and ignorance.

take voter fraud, which has been exaggerated for decades on talk radio, along with and tied to immigrant hate to very successfully sell voter suppression legislation and help republicans to rationalize and excuse their own election thievery. it ramped up right after 2000. now the entire republican party is tied to it and we're stuck with ""the wall" disaster, and the real leader of the republican party - limbaugh- can go on fox in prime time and repeat to chris wallace that democrats want the 'illegal' immigrant invasion so they can use them to take over the country/vote dem/socialist....

so by ignoring talk radio, the biggest political mistake in history, democrats/liberals/left have allowed these parasitic ideas grow in the dark and now we have a pResident who actually believes that shit - the trump campaign actually got sam nunberg to listen to 1000s of hours of it in 2014 (ny magazine 4/3/16 by gabriel sherman)

and it appears more an more clear that the russians may have been using talk radio since at least 2008 when manafort was mccain's campaign cochair and may have gotten limbaugh (paid?) to not endorse mccain until he chose palin - who was being wooed by russian oil and gas interests.

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Response to certainot (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 01:37 PM

5. You're right, I think talk radio is a major vehicle for these ideas

how do we protect our citizens from propaganda, when they won't protect themselves?

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Reply #5)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 01:48 PM

6. i think the dem party and progressive orgs must get active re talk radio and stop ignoring it

they can and must do something

at the very least they can use recent advances in AI assisted transcription to digitize and analyze it so it can't keep hiding from analysts who read and watch

otherwise any community around those universities can protest those universities until they start lookign for apolitical alternatives - that would spread and destroy the rw radio monopoly - advertisers would head for the hills

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Response to certainot (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 05:25 PM

11. 2000 was the turning point.

The GOP realized they could steal elections, and no longer bothered trying to convince voters of the effectiveness of their ideas. Instead we got outright lies and "truthiness" while they lied us into war, wrecked the economy and drove the country into the ground.

Agree, we can't ignore parasitic propaganda (like talk radio) - I would also add social media and tabloids (like National Enquirer, TMZ, etc). We can't just shrug and think of these mediums as stupid/unserious. Many Americans (even smart ones) are influenced by these narratives, which become (to quote Paul Krugman) "what everyone knows".

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Response to radius777 (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 12:59 PM

18. Many, many Democrats were fooled into "being patriotic" and supported the misconceived war in Iraq

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 04:13 PM

7. Other parasitic ideas:


Cheap energy. We forget about conservation and think we have an endless supply of fossil fuels, so we buy big trucks, waste energy on a way of life that isn't sustainable.... etc.

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Response to Locrian (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 01:05 PM

19. THANK YOU for saying that. Democrats buy gas guzzlers too.

The Republicans are in with Big Oil, but Dems need to be honest and wean themselves too.

We need to treat Global Warming like it's a war WE ALL CREATED AS CONSUMERS. Then switch to solar as soon as fucking possible. All the most tuned-in Dems support a Green New Deal and there's no other viable and sexy alternative emerging to prominence.

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Response to DemocracyMouse (Reply #19)

Wed Feb 20, 2019, 03:15 PM

20. yes

EVERYTHING that we know is because we've gotten used to very cheap energy.
We don't even really have a concept of what that means.

It's not going "back to the stone age" - but it does mean living very differently.

The reality is that we have to stop being used to create wealth for the few by producing and consuming all of our resources. At the present rate - it's no different from cancer.

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Response to Locrian (Reply #20)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 10:01 AM

21. You've touched on something new there.

At least I haven't run across it before:

"We have to stop being used to create wealth for the few"

We think of our lust for unnecessary, and environmentally damaging, products as an exoression of individual freedom. It's being manipulated by marketing and peer pressure to trickle up money to corporations and their investors.

We all know about the manipulation, but rarely do we connect it to the concentration of wealth. I might add that it also contributes to the depletion of local activity and well-being. While we're doing that second job to buy that gas guzzling abomination, or out earing fast food, shopping, in malls, etc. (the whole consumer trap) we're not home cooking and making imaginative toys out of found objects or playing stick-ball with our kids.

We need to event a new economy of local wealth and starve the cancer.

Anyone here heard of the NYC-based protest choir called the Church of Stop Shopping? Fantastic environmental group. Addresses a lot of these "intersectional" issues.

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Response to DemocracyMouse (Reply #21)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 04:16 PM

23. we don't even know how to "live" anymore

It's the way our "system" was basically designed to work.

The way money and the concentration of wealth works is to require ever increasing "activity" to prevent the collapse of the entire pyramid scheme.


>>We need to event a new economy of local wealth and starve the cancer.
YES - this ties in with the way local currency used to be the norm and it was not based on hoarding wealth, and on EXTRACTING wealth from areas.

In Life Inc., Douglas Rushkoff presents the unnerving, unbelievable, but ultimately undeniable proof that our world has been overtaken by an absolutely artificial economy.

https://rushkoff.com/books/life-inc/


How you get completely away from it I have no idea. Gradual ideas? Yes.... somehow we have to change the system but absent the hard reality of natures' limits I don't know.

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Response to Locrian (Reply #20)

Thu Feb 21, 2019, 10:08 AM

22. You've touched on something new there.


"We have to stop being used to create wealth for the few"


We think of our lust for unnecessary, and environmentally damaging, products as an expression of individual freedom. But it's being manipulated by marketing and peer pressure to trickle up money to corporations and their investors.

We all know about the manipulation, but rarely do we connect it to the concentration of wealth. I might add that it also contributes to the depletion of local activity and well-being. While we're doing that second job to buy that gas guzzling abomination, or out eating fast food, shopping in malls, etc. (the whole consumer trap) we're not home cooking and making imaginative toys out of found objects or playing stick-ball with our kids and grandkids. When we watch TV (or cell phones) we're not watching our our own lives unfold before us.

We need to event a new economy of local wealth and starve the cancer. That's wealth-as-being.

Anyone here heard of the NYC-based protest choir called the Church of Stop Shopping? Fantastic environmental group. Addresses a lot of these "intersectional" issues.

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 04:17 PM

8. Sovereign Citizen is a prize winner

I wonder how much wear and tear trucks delivering stuff sold by Amazon do to the roads and highways, and yet they claimed a tax rebate with over 50 billion in profits...

In Texas when I was a young man vehicle registration fees were determined by weight of a vehicle and not value...a sensible idea when they were actually concerned about keeping roads repaired.

Corporations were illegal once upon a time and were allowed only to finance large public works that were beyond the capability of government to achieve, like major canals and railroads. The government was relatively small back then compared to today. Corporations conceived to avoid taxation on profits were illegal, and should be today.

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 04:46 PM

9. Thanks. This was a very good post.

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 05:07 PM

10. This is succinctly brilliant

Its both a wonder that humanity has made it this far and a question of where we would be if we took the past into consideration all the time.

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 08:24 PM

12. Excellent. k & r n/t

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 08:48 PM

13. Thank You Professor

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 09:03 PM

14. Good post. There is a flip side to this that gives me hope--the historical arc of good ideas.

Good ideas, ideas that we now think of as obviously good for the country, like medicare, the minimum wage, votes for women, ending slavery, all first came up decades before they became law. At first, the people in power dismissed these ideas with scorn and ridicule.

But a good idea survives and comes up for air again. This time, the people in power said, "Sure, it's a good idea, but how could we ever implement it? It's just not practical." And they wouldn't even consider voting on it.

The next time the idea comes up, the powerful say, "Yes, everybody wants that some day. But today, we just don't have the votes in Congress." But at least they counted the potential votes.

The idea keeps coming up until one day, it gets the votes and passes into law. People act surprised for a bit, then start to wonder "why didn't we do this obviously good thing decades ago?"

We see this happening right now with gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and medicare for all. In the 1980s, each of these ideas would have been laughed at, and were. In ten to twenty years, they will all seem obvious. And the people of the future will think the people of the past were idiots to have waited so long.

That's my hope, anyway.

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Mon Feb 18, 2019, 11:38 PM

15. Really thought provoking,

Ive been thinking about this all day.

Thanks!

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2019, 04:39 AM

16. You've heard of "Rags to Riches to Rags in 3 generations "?

It applies to knowledge also.

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Response to ProfessorPlum (Original post)

Tue Feb 19, 2019, 06:20 AM

17. Excellent post!

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