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Sat Mar 20, 2021, 01:16 PM

Dust Bowl

"Our whole social environment seems to us to be filled with forces which really exist only in our own minds." -- Emile Durkheim


I was thinking about the shootings in Atlanta this morning as I was sweeping the kitchen floor. The Beatles' "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was playing. The line, "I look at the floor and see it needs sweeping" stood out, immediately reminding me of Durkheim's line about a late-stage society being "a disorganized dust of individuals."

Durkheim, along with Max Weber, organized the studies known as the social sciences. Durkheim's concentration in sociology was primarily on the factors that were associated with social coherence versus those connected to social disintegration. Might the theories of a man w3ho died 103.5 years ago be of value today? If so, is it possible that a crank old man, educated by way of the abacus and overhead projector rather than computers, translate these theories in a meaningful way?

There was confusion even in Emile's lifetime. His "sacred-profane dichotomy," which has to do with society's religious cohesion, has often been mistaken for placing a value judgement on religion. Yet it has nothing to do with "good versus bad." Let's consider it in another way, that may make more sense in today's world.

When I was a student, more than a half-century ago, Walter Cronkite of CBS News was recognized as the most trusted man in the country. Those at ABC and NBC delivered the news in as close to Walter's manner as possible. Thus, while the country was divided on issues such as the war in Vietnam and Civil Rights, it was possible to engage in discussions and debates, based upon interpretations of the same set of facts.

Today, there are the television networks, 24/7 cable news, talk radio, and a massive quantity of internet sites of inconsistent quality, for people to get their information. It is hard to discuss politics in general with a person who "knows," for example, that Barack Obama is an Islamic atheist, born in Kenya, who sought to destroy our nation. And it is near impossible, if not totally impossible, to debate one who "knows" that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

"Yes," you say, "but what about Durkheim's ideas about the impact of 'social facts' and a 'collective consciousness'?" Let me be clear -- I not only appreciate your mentioning these, and agree that they are both extremely important. "Social facts" are those things that exist in and of themselves, and often have an independent reality not connected by the group or individual's beliefs. Durkheim used the example of suicide. For sake of this discussion, I'd use the example of our society's environmental practices: the fact that humanity is, in effect, committing species suicide by poisoning the natural world is independent of if Ted Cruz believes in the human role in climate change. Ted doesn't have any meaningful connection to the great outdoors, for heaven's sake.

The "collective conscience"-- which he also refered to as the "common consciousness" -- is the sum total of the belief systems within a society. Again, "belief systems" can include, but is not limited to "religion." When the society shares these same value systems, it forms the glue that holds things together. An important factor in this, Durkhein noted, was the emotional responses insures common responses in given situations. But when, for example, half of the population believes in science (independent of individual religious beliefs), while the other half puts total faith in a religion (and does not trust them there scientists), the glue no longer holds. And those emotional responses are at risk of shutting out the potential for rational thought.

I imagine that if anyone has read this far, they recognize that all of this is factoring into our current societal disintegration. In my opinion, the largest division in our society is between the collective of conscious people and the collection of unconscious republicans. We tend to recognize that our country has numerous sub-groups that form overlapping identies for the vast majority of people.

One of these sub-groups, which we will refer to as "white people" for sake of accuracy, contains a significant number of folks who are convinced that they are America. They view the non-white people as less than fully American. And they are convinced that their ownership of America is threatened by "others" who are, in fact, just as much American citizens as they are.

Within this sub-group, I would like to focus upon a specific segment, the young males, ages 15 to 25. Within this collection, there are numerous important factors, including education, economic class,and more. They include issues that result in what is known as "dysfunctional families," which in turn create the roles for the children (hero, lost child, scapegoat, caretaker, etc). While the children of dysfunctional families can overcome the associated negatives of any role and become healthy, high-functioning adults, not everyone does. More, even in relatively "normal" families, there can be children who take on characteristics of these roles.

For those familiar with family systems, it is not difficult to recognize those children and young adults who are most at risk of illegal and/or violent behaviors. Add factors such as racism and right-wing media's influence, along with a shit-stirrer like Trump, and as awful as the violence is, it comes as no surprise. More, one can anticipate the differences that this violence may take -- from the group invading Congress on January 6 to the quasi-incel in Atlanta.

What was his motivation? A "really bad day"? Sexual frustration? Oh, race played no role? Bullshit. Look at the family system he grew up in. An adopted Asian-American brother who is extremely successful in life, compared to his being a "loser." Despite a seemingly "normal" family life, a fuck-up in a society where a large percentage believe that violence is an acceptable form of problem solving, of dispute resolution.

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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Dust Bowl (Original post)
H2O Man Mar 2021 OP
leftieNanner Mar 2021 #1
H2O Man Mar 2021 #2
Saoirse9 Mar 2021 #3
EYESORE 9001 Mar 2021 #4
Saoirse9 Mar 2021 #17
malaise Mar 2021 #5
ms liberty Mar 2021 #6
H2O Man Mar 2021 #9
H2O Man Mar 2021 #10
CaliforniaPeggy Mar 2021 #7
H2O Man Mar 2021 #8
H2O Man Mar 2021 #11
Hekate Mar 2021 #12
Martin Eden Mar 2021 #13
PoliWrangler Mar 2021 #14
KT2000 Mar 2021 #15
kentuck Mar 2021 #16

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 01:24 PM

1. Fascinating Post H20 Man

May be a typo in the third to last paragraph "ages from 15 to 15". Guessing you mean 15 to 25.

Thanks for this thoughtful essay.

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Response to leftieNanner (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 01:35 PM

2. Yikes!

Thanks for pointing that out! I'll fix it. And you are right: I meant 15 to 25.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 01:36 PM

3. I know too many people who believe

conspiracy theories.

Your theory about why the Atlanta shootings happened sounds like the most logical reason.

Today I found out that a young girl I know, although she is NOT a 45 supporter, believes that COVID 19 is a hoax and refuses to wear a mask. She was unable to attend her beloved grandmother's funeral because she refused to wear one.

My boss believes firmly that the election was stolen from 45 because Biden's (nonexistent) rallies didn't have as many people as 45's did.

A good friend who we've discussed before belongs to Q-Anon and routinely copies Mike Flynn, the FBI, CIA and DOJ on her completely nonsensical tweets. She believes she speaks to them in code.

I can't understand why otherwise reasonable people go off the deep end like this.

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Response to Saoirse9 (Reply #3)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 02:23 PM

4. Conspiracies are a reality

Not to say all conspiracies have credibility, however. Crazy CT casts a shadow of doubt over the real deal, and thatís a likely reason why the crazy shit is pushed so relentlessly.

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Response to EYESORE 9001 (Reply #4)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 05:49 PM

17. I'm sure you're right

They prefer to believe anything other than their idol is human equivalent of garbage.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 02:41 PM

5. A Must Read OP

Nice to see you WaterMan. Was going to check on you today

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 02:49 PM

6. I didn't know he had an adopted brother who was Asian American

His story has a few layers of dysfunction, that's for sure. Excellent piece, WaterMan. Good to see youam!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 02:56 PM

7. Another excellent essay, my dear H20 Man!

I always appreciate your calm and reassuring manner when you write about these divisive trends. You help me see where the truth lies.

Thank you! ♥

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)


Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 03:39 PM

11. CORRECTION!!!!! (Important)

As I tend to do more frequently as I age, I made an error. This was from my mistaken interpretation of an article a friend sent me. But I own the error, 100%, and apologize.

The articles I confused:

https://www.enjoycherokee.com/2021/01/06/tony-baker/?fbclid=IwAR0ALoRHno7_D6mKTMgHh-xTZH7hUVPaH44bVmCsm9hAAGom7Mb5v00sqUo

and

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/atlanta-shooting-suspect-robert-aaron-long/2021/03/19/9397cdca-87fe-11eb-8a8b-5cf82c3dffe4_story.html

Although the scum does not have an Asian-American adopted brother, I still think his spot in his family-of-origin provides the roots of his violence.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 03:47 PM

12. Interesting throughout. One paragraph I've been grappling with for several years that saddens me...

...beyond words is this, and made tears well up:

One of these sub-groups, which we will refer to as "white people" for sake of accuracy, contains a significant number of folks who are convinced that they are America. They view the non-white people as less than fully American. And they are convinced that their ownership of America is threatened by "others" who are, in fact, just as much American citizens as they are.

Well into my middle age I used to think we could reach these people, but it was not until Trump that I recognized that we are not even speaking the same language, much less dealing with the same set of facts.

Iím in my 70s now, and it leaves me feeling bereft of the country I loved and thought I knew. I cling to the fact (yes, a fact) that people who align with Trumpism remain in the minority. Whether they and their corporate sponsors manage to undo our republic remains to be seen. But the fact that they donít speak for most of the rest of us reminds me that America as an idea remains so much more than they can ever comprehend.

This Spring Equinox may we all find balance as we move into the season of growth and light.
☘️🌺🌸☘️


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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 03:49 PM

13. Societal Disintegration

Broadly speaking, we have two Americas with different realities. There are of course many subsets, but the divide between opposing societal belief systems has become a gaping chasm -- with no bridge in sight.

Concerning how we have arrived at this impasse, I believe we need to ask and explore answers to an existentially important question:

Are the deep and bitter divisions between Americans inherent in the people themselves along with irreconcilable conflicts of interest -- or have our differences been exploited and deliberately exacerbated by other forces pursuant to their own narrow interests?

It seems to me the vast majority of Americans (left and right) have many interests in common, whether we realize it or not. Good paying jobs. Affordable education and healthcare. Security against crime, foreign adversaries, environmental toxins. Constitutional rights and freedoms.

Our great experiment in democracy has never come to full fruition for many reasons, perhaps primarily because of the "other forces" -- those whom FDR referred to as the malefactors of great wealth.

The American economy has always generated great wealth, but never equitably. The chasm most in need of bridging is between the filthy rich and everyone else.

The malefactors understand this all too well, and have always acted to protect their vested interests. A truly functional democracy Of By and For The People is their greatest Fear.

So they employ the tried and true strategy of divide and conquer. They find wedges to divide the common folk and use the power that money buys to drive those wedges deeper.

As long as we are at each others throats we will not be marching united with pitchforks and torches to the gates of their castles.

Until that reality is more fully exposed and widely acknowledged, the societal disintegration of separate realities will persist.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 03:49 PM

14. Not a bad take on it ...

... offered in a most Minnesota spirit. Excellent post H20Man.

"Today, there are television networks..." I think this paragraph illustrates something important, probably more unique to USA than elsewhere. In short, information is now coming at us so fast it's exceeded human ability or learning to filter it. When some of that info is serving a purpose opposite to factually inform, we got a mess.

Exchange students we've hosted are always surprised at the barrage of advertising invading every aspect of our environment. At least the advertising is mostly honest in purpose of wanting your money. But still it's layers and layers of studied psych persuasion. I can see why people stop accepting information at some point, the bucket is already full. Especially if new info is discordant with what's in the bucket.

Geez, your post merits hours of discussion. Thanks!

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 03:55 PM

15. Jan. 6 - there were no meetings

There was no meeting of minds but rather people with various connections on the internet joined to cause chaos. Some were there to kill Pence, others to kill Pelosi, many were white supremacists, others wanted to kidnap all members of Congress, many were there to vent their rage at their own failures, still others wanted to express their vanity, etc. Of course the vortex of all of it is trump.

The virtual world is the slippery slope.

As for family culture, it was not until I moved to where I live now that I realized there are families - many, who teach their children to be losers. They start their boys drinking at an early age and teach them resentment as a solution to their failures. That becomes their comfort zone. Many parents ought to be jailed along with their juvenile offenders.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sat Mar 20, 2021, 04:27 PM

16. A couple of other factors that may be involved in this social "disintegration"...

...in my opinion, is denial and guilt.

They deny that their "allies" had anything to do with the seditionist act of attacking our Capitol. By denying that it happened in the way that the "fake media" reports it, they are able to cover up their guilt in participating is such a treasonous behavior.

It is always easier to blame someone else.

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