Thompsons ur-text is The Art of Rhetoric, in which Aristotle discusses the constituent features of rhetoric before proceeding to discuss three types. For Aristotle, rhetoric consists of logos (dialectic or pure argument), pathos (the speakers ability to sense the audiences mood and work it, in Thompsons description), and ethos (the power of the character and integrity of the speaker), and he advocates a balance between these elements in public language. Of the three kinds of rhetoric, deliberative rhetoric is the language suited to politics forensic and demonstrative rhetoric are for other occasions.
Against the backdrop of disillusionment with mainstream politicians, the rise of the anti-politician, the burgeoning of communications, and a media eco-system that is more competitive than ever, Thompson does justice to a number of dilemmas currently faced by politicians and broadcasters. But, more interestingly, he also examines unmistakable trends in politics and media which represent causes for concern. Four striking contentions, shaped by Aristotles thinking, emerge over the course of the books remarkable main chapters.
First, Thompson characterizes todays rhetoric as speech in which logos is sacrificed at the altars of ethos and pathos. Todays anti-politicians are guilty of this, but this tendency already has an extended history: New Labour and spin are discussed in terms of these conceptions, and in one section, Thompson traces it back to Reagan, although balance still inheres in Reagans rhetoric. Second, he argues that political parties, whether they are in power or in opposition, often use the language of campaigning throughout terms of office. Third, many of todays politicians are authenticists. It is authenticism that separates, say, Tony Blair from Donald Trump: although both place a premium on pathos and ethos, the anti-politician discards focus groups and aims for a less mediated authentic effect though that may of course may be the result of just as much micro-management of communications (its all smoke-and-mirrors). And fourth, rather than conducting our affairs in deliberative rhetoric, the invasion of marketing-speak into political rhetoric means that, more and more often, we hear a form of demonstrative rhetoric when a politician orates.
It goes without saying that the media should somehow help us to process political acts of persuasion: politicians speak to us through the media, but news and current affairs programmes have the power to filter, reject, refine and so on. But Thompson alerts us to a number of dangers in this domain as well. Across a number of chapters, he provides us with a history of the process whereby sources of news have been denatured. That history begins in his account with television news coverage in the United States in the 1980s, when news was shortened and simplified. The age of digital journalism only exacerbates a decline in such programmes. Legacy publishers need to compete with all manner of alternate news sources against a background of far greater choice, and as a result they have been unable to stick fully to the old somewhat paternalistic practice of generating serious-minded content. Across the board, Headlines, brief summaries, lists, and other formats which can be absorbed in seconds is the new norm. Stories are maximal. Logos gives way to ethos. And what dialectic remains is more doxa (opinion) than episteme (knowledge), especially on Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere, a limitless marketplace for doxa.
Our entire capitalist system is built on a bedrock of White supremacy.
Moved by the need for control, for an unchallenged top tier, the power elite in American history has thrived by placating the vulnerable and creating for them a false sense of identificationdenying real class differences where possible.
Nancy Isenberg, White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America
Laws have been written to oppress and exploit particular identitiesNative Americans, Black Americans, Asians, homosexuals, transgender, and womenin a successful effort to maintain a system of White supremacy. Yet, members of these communities have worked for the rights and equality of everyone. In turn, White allies have joined in these anti-racism fights.
The Redneck Revolt is one such organization. The self-described anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-fascist group challenges working-class White people to stand against White supremacy.
Jeffries: Can you give an example of what you mean by changing hearts and minds. What does that look like?
Brett: A really great example would be back in June. The ACT for America folks did an anti-sharia law march. Redneck Revolt was there. We were on one side of the barricades along with a slew of other leftist organizations. On the other side of the barricades were Proud Boys, Vanguard America, and a hodgepodge of other alt-right groups. But one of the most prominent was the Michigan Liberty Militia, which is famously racist and famously exclusionary.
Toward the end of the demonstration, this one older gentlemanhe was an older White man up at the barricade with all the gear on, and armedhad his rifle. One of my members and I went up to this guy and were like, I understand mixing state and religion is not good. Nobody here wants to mix state and religion, nobody is protesting that. its clearly anti-Muslim. This protest is against Muslims.
Furthermore, its against all people of color because this neighborhood [is] first-generation Somali, first-generation people form sub-Saharan Africa who are fleeing abject poverty and warfare, starvation, disease. So how can you be in this neighborhood and be like, This is what America stands for?
Not only that, if you look to your left and right, those kids with the sun wheel on their shields, and the eagle on their shirts, those guys are self-described, literal Nazis. We fought a war about this. I thought we were all in unanimous agreement that Nazis are bad.
And this guy he kind of started tearing up, and he was like, You know, Ill tell you, my dad died in World War II in Europe fighting Nazis. And he goes, This really has given me [something to think about]. You know I may not agree with everything you say. But associating myself like this has really given me pause, and has really made me think about what Im doing here.
I get that economics in an important factor. I did not share this to start another economics vs identity debate, but to share a story of activists in the field, working on making the world a little better, doing the difficult task of persuading hearts and minds and the reasoning behind their approach and strategy.
from The National Review of all places ...
by KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON ( who, for all his other flaws, managed to write an insightful opEd critiquing conservatism)
My disagreements with him are where he dismisses external factors which worsen outcomes and falls back to the trope of "Pulling yourself up by own bootstraps" etc. Other than that, he is spot on in his dissection of anti-elitist populism.
Its opposite is the sneering, leveling, drag-em-all-down-into-the-mud anti-elitism of contemporary right-wing populism. Self-respect says: Im an American citizen, and I can walk into any room, talk to any president, prince, or potentate, because I can rise to any occasion. Populist anti-elitism says the opposite: I can be rude enough and denigrating enough to drag anybody down to my level. Trumps rhetoric ridiculous and demeaning schoolyard nicknames, boasting about money, etc. has always been about reducing. Trump doesnt have the intellectual capacity to duke it out with even the modest wits at the New York Times, hence its the failing New York Times. Never mind that the New York Times isnt actually failing and that any number of Trump-related businesses have failed so thoroughly that theyve gone into bankruptcy; the truth doesnt matter to the argument any more than it matters whether the fifth-grade bully actually has an actionable claim on some poor kids lunch money. It would never even occur to the low-minded to identify with anybody other than the bully. Thats what all that ridiculous stuff about winning was all about in the campaign. It is might-makes-right, i.e., the politics of chimpanzee troupes, prison yards, kindergartens, and other primitive environments. That is where the underclass ethic thrives and how smart people came to be a term of abuse."
No less a virtue entrepreneur than Bill Bennett dismissed those who pointed out Trumps endless lies and habitual betrayals as suffering from moral superiority, from people on high horses, and said that Trump simply is a guy who says some things awkwardly, indecorously, infelicitously. Thus did the author of The Book of Virtues embrace the author of Grab Em By the P***y.
We need a Moynihan Report for conservative broadcasters. The problem, in Bennetts telling (and that of many other conservatives), isnt that Trump is a morally defective reprobate but that he is aesthetically displeasing to overly refined elitists. That is a pretty common line of argument and an intellectual cop-out but set that aside for the moment. Lets pretend that Bennett et al. are correct and this is simply a matter of manners. Are we now to celebrate vulgarity as a virtue? Are we to embrace crassness? Are we supposed to pretend that a casino-cum-strip-joint is a civilizational contribution up there with Notre-Dame, that the Trump Taj Mahal trumps the Taj Mahal? Are we supposed to snigger at people who ask that question? Are we supposed to abandon our traditional defense of standards to mimic Trumps bucket-of-KFC-and-gold-plated-toilet routine? "
Carole Cadwalladr asking the right questions:
What on earth was Farage doing advancing Calexit Californian Brexit? And why did I find a photo of him hanging out with Dana Rohrabacher, the Californian known in the US press as Putins favourite congressman? The same Dana Rohrabacher whos met with Don Trump Jrs Russian lawyer and wait for it also visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy. And who is now interceding on his behalf to obtain a pardon from Don Trump Juniors dad.
In a gerrymandered map, you concentrate opposing voters in a few districts where you lose big, and win the rest by modest margins. But its risky to count on a lot of close wins, which can easily flip to close losses. Justice Sandra Day OConnor thought this risk meant the Supreme Court didnt need to step in. In a 1986 case, she wrote that there is good reason to think political gerrymandering is a self-limiting enterprise since an overambitious gerrymander can lead to disaster for the legislative majority.
Back then, she may have been right. But todays computing power has blown away the self-limiting nature of the enterprise, as it has with so many other limits. A new paper by a team of scientists at Duke paints a startling picture of the way the Wisconsin district map protects Republicans from risk. Remember the Volkswagen scandal? Volkswagen installed software in its diesel cars to fool regulators into thinking the engines were meeting emissions standards. The software detected when it was being tested, and only then did it turn on the antipollution system. The Wisconsin district map is a similarly audacious piece of engineering.
When the overall Republican vote share in the state is 50 percent or more, the authors of the paper show, the map behaves much like an unbiased one. But when the map is tested by an electorate that leans Democratic, its special features kick in, maintaining a healthy Republican majority against the popular headwind. To gain control of the State Assembly, the authors estimate, Wisconsin Democrats would have to beat Republicans by 8 to 10 points, a margin rarely achieved in statewide elections by either party in this evenly split state. As a mathematician, Im impressed. As a Wisconsin voter, I feel a little ill.
"Most significantly, there is the backlash against affirmative action by 'angry, white males.' I do not question a persons belief that affirmative action is unjust because it judges people based on their sex or the color of their skin. But something far more insidious is afoot. For some white men, preoccupation with oppression has become the defining feature of their existence. They have fallen prey to the very aspects of the modern ideology of victimology that they deplore
.They must remember they if we are to play the victim game, the very people they decry have the better claim to victim status."
From "Victims and Heroes in the Benevolent State"
Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, Spring 1996,
Suicidal Mass Murderers tend to have a messianic view of themselves, and their motives are tied to status or loss of it whether they're jihadists, Christian apocalyptics, white supremacists, or just bitter and angry.
For one horrifying moment, they become judge, jury and executioner, inflicting as much terror on the world as they could....If this sounds like someone wanting to play God, it is precisely that: exacting their vision of divine revenge on others, in Paddock's case targeting people enjoying a concert and having fun.
There may be other layers to Paddock's personality that would add more depth to his profile, but ascribing motives like neurological disorders and health issues ( based on no evidence) are all bits of interesting speculation but ultimately a distraction.
This was a man who wanted the world to hurt and had the weaponry to exact as much maximum damage as he possibly could in a short space of time.
From Robert King at Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hive-mind/201710/mass-killings-evolutionary-perspective
Attention to our evolved natures can cast some light on this. (1) Notice I say some light. The evolutionary perspective adds depth to existing accountsit is an added value aspect of psychology, not a replacement for othermore localexplanations such as individual pathology, or why a location or victim was chosen.
Ive likened the evolutionary account of a trait, to knowing the etymology of a word. For instance, knowing that the origin of the word lemur (those beautiful dark-eyed primates) comes from the Latin for spirits of the dead adds something to our understanding of the word. Not everything. Something. Sorry to have to keep saying this but, well, apparently I have to keep saying this. Lets move on.
Male humans swim in worlds of status, like trout swim in complex currents of water. Anyone who is not aware of this (or in denial about it) finds things like the high rates of male suicide, or the fact that males are massively over-represented in apparently senseless crimes, utterly baffling. (2) Glib talk of toxic masculinity barely scratches the surface of what is going on. (3) Toxic does not explain the half of it, and it is worth noting that even the most toxic of masculinity does not put off all possible sexual partners.
Paddock seemed to have also been a general asshole and enjoyed berating his girlfriend in public: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-las-vegas-shooting-live-updates-at-his-local-starbucks-vegas-shooter-1507060195-htmlstory.html
because this level of mass violence won't end.
We may not know the exact moment when another mass shooting will occur but we know it will happen again and again.. and again.
These events aren't contingent upon some random flare-up of a disgruntled and paranoid person, these events happen in societies where anyone with a grudge can subject a city to terror with maximum effect - all they need is some cash, maybe a couple grand, and they can turn a city into a slaughterhouse.
"Thoughts and prayers" sentiments and " lone wolf" explanations won't change the fact we need mental health care reform.
"Thoughts and prayers" won't change the fact that as we speak, more weaponry is being produced that anyone with a diseased mind can access without too much trouble, depending which state they live.
"Thoughts and prayers" won't change the fact that in a country with a massive military budget, America seems incapable of preventing her cities being turned into slaughterhouses, because Arms merchants have their thumb on the scale.
And this is also historical. America has whitewashed the original sin of wiping out native American populations by twisting genocide into heroic fables of the wild west and a romanticization of the frontier - and the gun is central to this symbolism.
Now we have the religious apocalyptics, the resentful angry losers who hate to see people have fun because of their own failures, nurtured in a society where the gun is as American as apple pie.
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