John Hopkins on Wed, 28 Jan 2015 20:28:33 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> [John Hopkins / Tapas Ray Re: The Greek elections?]

On 27/Jan/15 11:56, Brett Shand wrote:

    I'm sorry Dr Hopkins, but I don't buy your hopelessness.

It's a third-party observation, not a personal emotional state.

And here, following, I reflect on the US condition, though I've most my adult life outside the US.

Nah, it's not hopelessness, it's a simple recognition that the election process (an election), overall, in most places and among most social systems, is something akin to a 'play' in (Amurikan) football: highly choreographed, operating under very strict behavioral rules, in a strictly delineated space. In that setting, each play occurs, giving thousands of "fans" enough variability (aka, "change") to keep them talking for decades about particular points in an endless banal string of "conflicts" between highly paid groupings of people that somehow represent the fan's aspirations of a sort.

The game rules sometimes "change" through litigation by aggrieved parties (ex-footballers with scrambled brains), but mostly through a bunch of wealthy white guys in backrooms deciding that this rule needs tweaking here, that one there (to increase the 'addictive' quality of the broadcast of the games in many cases). (Witness the history of the NFL response to head trauma and domestic violence -- their decision-making process is utterly opaque and is unable to compensate for social pressures coming from sources that they are simply unaware/ignorant of or that they are aware of the negative monetary impact of.)

So it is with 'elections' -- enough 'change' to keep a broad swath of the population attached to/entertained by the process (which itself is composed of much spouting of this or that dogma in mediated forms that the masses are addictively consuming). The pendulum swings one way, then another: "Watch out, you might get hit!"

It is when the change begins to crumble the established rule set when things get interesting. Maybe this will happen at some point in the near term of the neoliberal wet-dream, when resources get scarce, and a few billion humans decide that they should have more than they are getting.

Based on campaign work I did some decades ago for one of the most successful independent candidates in contemporary US history, it was clear that the rules of the playing field were structured very much in the way that I just described for the "institution" of football. And that there was little-to-nothing that a voter or many millions of voters could do to change the rules of the game. I certainly haven't noticed any huge improvement in the potentials for regular folks (at least back to the Reagan election times) up to now... If there are improvements (or any positive changes in the rules), someone please point them out.

All that said, it's great to be optimistic about elections, I recall when Vaclav Havel got elected in Czechoslovakia, wow, a dissident writer as president. SO much better than a B-movie nitwit. Or Sarah Palin.

But what has 'improved' under Mr. Obama?

The question in the Greek case -- will the rules be re-written on the widest scale in such a way that will change everyone's life in Greece and the EU and the world for the better? We'll see. Don't forget to re-visit your enthusiasm in a year or two -- pragmatism is not about hopelessness, it's an attempt to frame things "as they are" with a dose of "as one has seen/experienced them." There could be a link between pragmatism and age, too. Cynicism isn't far off, though, for a growing number of people that I am in communication with these days. That's a form of social hopelessness; it's different than personal hopelessness. It seems such that some portion of folks survive and sometimes even thrive *despite* the politico-economic conditions/game rules imposed by national/quasi-national/multi-national/nationalistic interests. Many others are materially driven under/down by those same imposed conditions.

So it goes. (Ted).


Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
grounded on a granite batholith
twitter: @neoscenes

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