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Belmont Club

But Words Can Never Harm Me

July 8th, 2013 - 3:44 pm

I’ve just finished another pamphlet titled the War of the Words, available as ever on Amazon. It tries to show that the crisis gripping the world seems so unreal because it is substantially an information crisis. It’s there but we can’t feel it the way one did World War 2 or during other conflicts of the past. That’s because the international system virtualized conflict, money and now politics to a degree never before in history.

Conflict was substantially reduced to an exchange of signals during the Cold War. Nixon, by finally untethering money from anything tangible, took the last step toward making it a database entry. Now politics has been virtualized in the Narrative by which the system “prints” legitimacy and binds the other two pillars to itself like glue.

The modern structure of legitimacy is very powerful. So powerful that it is a temptation to abuse.

The question of whether the Narrative would be used for Good or for Ill did not arise at first. Like power in every form, the Narrative presented itself as an opportunity for virtue. Like the poisoned benefices distributed by Tolkien’s fictional “Lord of the Gifts”, who was Sauron in disguise, the Narrative dangled the prospect of improvement in exchange for seemingly trifling cruelties. At the outset its agenda was not to benefit the political elites but to deliver a “nudge” – in the words of Cass Sunstein – to mankind and trick them into making the world a better place.
No single person sits down and writes ‘the Narrative’. Rather, it writes itself through a process whereby a variety of political actors negotiate the agreed storyline. It begins as ‘consensus truth’ but under the influence of political temptation it soon becomes the ‘consensus lie’.

The Narrative today is both our ruler and our enemy. We may love it or hate it, but never be unaware of it. I also describe the possibility of an anti-Narrative … “not an opposition narrative, another storyline only of a rival kind or another new fiction designed to supplant the old. A genuine anti-Narrative is a completely different animal. It is meant to find the truth for comparative survival advantage.”

As I write in the pamphlet:

Because the current crisis is an information problem, conflicts of the near future will primarily take the form of information fights within countries, not the traditional warfare between nation-states of the last century. The Cold War showed that modern weapons were too powerful to be used on a very large scale because they destroyed the very objects they were used to obtain. Therefore conflict itself will be largely virtualized.

It will be a battle of narratives, or alternatively a struggle between the Narrative and the Anti-narrative.

To avoid self-destruction the contest will be over the control of information. The Edward Snowden scandal, involving “a former technical contractor for the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who leaked details of several top-secret U.S. and British government mass surveillance programs to the press” shows the extent to which this struggle has already taken this form.

The object of such information battles will not be for the physical possession of conquered lands guarded by giant industrial-age armies but for the control of data, technology and the tokens we call money.

The beginnings of this process are already in evidence and it is gathering steam. Video camera surveillance, extended perhaps through worn appliances like Google Glasses, will become ubiquitous. Hate speech codes will severely restrict political speech, little of which will go unmonitored. The widespread use of email, telephone and intercepts will make communications privacy largely extinct. The regulation, not only of firearms but of any potentially threatening object such as fertilizer, electronic fuses or pressure cookers, will increase.

The pamphlet is not really meant as an “answer book” but as an additional way of looking at the complex crisis we’re facing, one that is almost ghostly in character. And that is the element that needs emphasis. The ghostly can hurt you.

For a long time we have been conditioned to believe that “what is intangible can’t hurt you”. But information, working through instrumentalities, changes that rule. Many of the instrumentalities that surround us are really neutral in themselves, waiting to be filled by purposeful information. It is the information, not the things, of which we should increasingly beware.

It is tempting to think of the Narrative as a deliberate conspiracy. But at heart it is just data corruption. It’s losing track of the truth. Recently the White House put out these talking points on Valerie Jarrett:

The magic of Valerie is her intellect and her heart. She is an incredibly kind, caring and thoughtful person with a unique ability to pinpoint the voiceless and shine a light on them and the issues they and the President care about with the ultimate goal of making a difference in people’s lives.”

They really believe this sh**. It’s not a put on.

About a year ago, Peter Beinart wrote in the Daily Beast, “Egypt Policy Shows How Well Obama Has Managed America’s Decline”. He was not writing tongue in cheek. He was really delirious with happiness that things were going so well.

Barry Rubin argues some in the administration actually believe that if you fight political Islamism, it will only make them mean. Now you may laugh at this statement. But cry at this one: they actually believe this stuff. Sincerely. Hand on heart.

They’ve bought their own narrative. It’s no longer some cunning Commies playing to the useful fools. These may be true believers drinking their own Kool-Aid. The Daily Mail reports we should be shocked to learn that Osama bin Laden (described by the Pakistani inquiry as a victim) wore cowboy hats to escape detection and that “Dr. Shakeel Afridi, now imprisoned in Pakistan for helping the U.S., wasn’t arrested for three weeks following the raid, allowing the CIA time to help him escape if U.S. officials had wanted to help him.”

My guess is that many are no longer shocked at public policy insanity and that is the really shocking thing.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of
information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In, a novel at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99
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Top Rated Comments   
"They really believe this sh**. It’s not a put on." Not only do they believe it, they hold in the highest contempt those who don't buy it, "hook, line and sinker." You stray from the liberal narrative at your own peril.
For 30 years I was married to a true believer. I silently endured decades of radio-blaring NPR; PBS, CNN, MSLSD spewing out of 3 TV sets and gabfests with her liberal friends. On November 1, 2012, I was upstairs in my workshop/refuge when she appeared on the landing and "dog-cussed" me for publicly humiliating her by supporting the Romney campaign-not monetarily or any other way, but for the capital offense of hitting the Facebook "like" icon on my co-worker's ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT banner.
The next morning I threw some clothes in a sack, left behind my hard-earned gorgeous home, 5 beloved pets and my bank accounts, and moved into a 150 square-foot hovel. After 8 months, I wouldn't go back on a dare.
Maintaining the narrative in it's entirety is that damn important to liberals-friendships, relationships, marriages, etc. are no match.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm a retired academic and sometime in the late 80s I began to notice the uniformly politically correct consensus among academics. Too many Volvos in the faculty parking lot with the same bumper stickers on them. Way too many. And I thought I was being different by riding a motorbike! After years of increasing discomfort I encountered Rush Limbaugh (aka The Counter Narrative) and I realized he was articulating that still silenced voice inside me that had been putting up with The Narrative. Once I got past that stage, I began to notice I didn't always agree with Rush either. What was going on? Ah, yes underneath all this using words to exercise power there is truth. You actually have to listen and look and not judge things through the lens of ideology, preconceived ideas, with as much open mindedness as you can muster if you want to approach it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
BC readers and NYT readers inhabit different informational worlds.

Different worlds, different languages; we are very different peoples. TWANLOC. We no longer have enough in common to paper over our differences. And that bears on legitimacy. If they are not our countrymen, their legitimate authority over us vanishes. And there is ultimately only one answer to illegitimate authority.

Is it still a "civil war" if there is no longer any connection between the two peoples? For they want nothing but to subjugate what they consider to be subhumans [us]. And we just want to be left alone.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (55)
All Comments   (55)
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disada,

"Now therefore make a confession unto the Lord God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives."
Ezra: ch. 10, v. 11

Not that I am recommend this or living my own life by such a standard but hoping that you may take some small comfort in the precedent.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How is a Christian supposed to approach this world? I'm pretty sure that I cannot pray for the demise of TWANLOC. And yet I long for the day when the troubles begin and this endless temporizing is over.

We can only get to the other side by going through what is coming. There is no getting around it, no avoiding it. I feel like we have been climbing an immense activation energy mountain, but the horizon is forever revealed to be only another false summit. The descent is going to be dangerous and brutal--but the descent is the only way back to camp. Let's get on with it while there is still sunlight to see. While I still have the strength and energy to get my family off this God awful peak.

God, end this endless waiting.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How is a Christian supposed to approach this world? I'm pretty sure that I cannot pray for the demise of TWANLOC.

Since I am not Christian, feel free disregard this. Pray for the restoration of freedom and the Constitution for ourselves and our descendents. I'm pretty sure that will necessarily entail said demise of TWANLOC. If some few convert or escape what they deserve while achieving that goal, so be it.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, here's some good news for a change.

Illinois passed a conceal carry bill, overriding governor Quinn's veto of same.

The application process will start in 180 days. I will be among the first to apply.

Btw, Quinn, in his last election, won only 3 of Illinois' 102 counties. Unfortunately one of those counties was Cook County. So he won. He became, in effect, the governor of Cook County; and the tool of the Illinois legislature controlled by Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (chairman of the Illinois Dems and a Cook County resident).

If there were an electoral college for Illinois gubernatorial elections, the Republicans would have won in a gigantic landslide. So you see, we're not all bad here.

Passage of CCW over Quinn's veto is a major victory for the forces trying break the Democrat's regime of one-party rule in Illinois. It's a crack in their monolith. Quinn is vulnerable. Many Dems outside Cook County joined Repubs in voting to override his veto. This is significant. This is good news.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
''They really believe this sh**''

I wasn't aware that IL meant that all states allow concealed carry tho I knew the number was growing steadily. These days I frequently wonder if facts like this point to a largely silent (because the 'media' aren't reporting it) undercurrent going on around the country that only bubbles to the surface here and there.

Only reported on the samizdata, unknown in DC.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
ask your brother to bring you a "béret basque" from St Jean de Luz

http://beretbasque.fr/fr/content/8-la-fabrication-du-beret-basque

you might impress your partners while competing with your Sheepherd dog

http://www.beretbasque.fr/fr/berets-basques-homme-elosegui-fabriques-au-pays-basque/92-modele-11-5-pouces.html
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nixon, by finally untethering money from anything tangible, took the last step toward making it a database entry.

About a year ago, Peter Beinart wrote in the Daily Beast, “Egypt Policy Shows How Well Obama Has Managed America’s Decline”. He was not writing tongue in cheek. He was really delirious with happiness that things were going so well.
.......................
Take a look at the chart on this page. Its shows two phenomenal things. First that, US oil production peaked in 1970, or a couple years before the US went off the gold standard. The second thing the graph shows is that US oil production currently is going straight up.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/1538602-chart-of-the-week-u-s-oil-supply-growth-exceeds-growth-in-global-demand?source=google_news
.........................

Barry Rubin argues some in the administration actually believe that if you fight political Islamism, it will only make them mean. Now you may laugh at this statement. But cry at this one: they actually believe this stuff. Sincerely. Hand on heart.
......................
It is no coincidence that the salafists of Saudi Arabia and the Khomenists of Iran rose to power at the same time as OPEC. Nor will it be a coincidence that they fall back into obscurity as US oil production rises.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This graph show saudi oil production. What it shows is that saudi oil production went straight up -- just as US oil production is now going straight up-- from 1970-1975.
http://www.theoildrum.com/files/Saudi%20Arabian%20Oil-Barrels.png
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/5154
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7465
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"They really believe this sh**. It’s not a put on."

This leads to our current form of government - "Idiocracy"

Idiocracy: A government whose policies are so obviously nonsensical that a rational observer must conclude that said government is run by idiots.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"They really believe this sh**. It’s not a put on." Not only do they believe it, they hold in the highest contempt those who don't buy it, "hook, line and sinker." You stray from the liberal narrative at your own peril.
For 30 years I was married to a true believer. I silently endured decades of radio-blaring NPR; PBS, CNN, MSLSD spewing out of 3 TV sets and gabfests with her liberal friends. On November 1, 2012, I was upstairs in my workshop/refuge when she appeared on the landing and "dog-cussed" me for publicly humiliating her by supporting the Romney campaign-not monetarily or any other way, but for the capital offense of hitting the Facebook "like" icon on my co-worker's ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT banner.
The next morning I threw some clothes in a sack, left behind my hard-earned gorgeous home, 5 beloved pets and my bank accounts, and moved into a 150 square-foot hovel. After 8 months, I wouldn't go back on a dare.
Maintaining the narrative in it's entirety is that damn important to liberals-friendships, relationships, marriages, etc. are no match.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

dlsada

I went through much the same process over the last several years. I nuked more than a few 'friendships' in the process and converted still more to acquaintance status. After many long suffering years I determined to not suffer a fool of grace their bs with toleration or my presence anymore. They are TWANLOC.

In their eyes, speaking the truth and/or standing up to claptrap is a capital offense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sir, you have illustrated what Subothai and I have been saying for years now most eloquently with your example.

My condolences for the loss of your marriage. That's a hard, hard thing, on all levels. That takes courage.

I have to ask, though.......THIRTY YEARS????

You are a saint. An absolute martyr.

You are also totally enlightened, now. We ALL must become that way in the near future, I fear. No amount of past good times together, no amount of great sex, no amount of growing up together or avoiding the oblivion of anxiety about loneliness justifies sticking around these leftist thugs and thereby validating their worldview. A True Believer will be one who "dog-cusses" people with whom they are supposed to have friendly or even loving relationships who dares not to march lock-step with the entire leftist program because dedication to the cause is the highest loyalty. Nazi Germany and the USSR both had numerous eexamples of party loyalists "ratting out" non-loyal immediate family members knowing full well that doing so would lead to their incarceration in concentration camps. The leftists living in the US are not more intelligent, well informed, moral or ethical than those individuals in those other societies. They will do the same thing. The IRS scandal is only the barest hint of what lies in the capabilities of the wives, husbands, kids, parents, and "friends" of almost everyone who is reading this blog.

I have separatied from longtime "friends" because I couldn't stand their company, their willfully ill-informed (even though they believe themselves to be the complete opposite) Narrative©, and the outright bigotry and dehumanization directed towards me for my Christian sensibilities and my desire for a return to limited government.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Reference the previous thread.
Narratives in one form or another have always been with us. Throughout most history they were linear, arriving one at a time, growing, becoming predominate until the paradigm shifted again.

Now we are beset by many narratives, some competing, some simply variants of others. People are not wired to handle more than one life narrative at a time...yet.

What happens when, beyond the signal to noise ratios mentioned below, we get feedback? Narrative information becomes viral, amplifying itself to be heard and echoing back in sub-narratives and counter-narratives.

Cognitive Disonance used to be the term. Or Chaos.

Unfortunately the societal filters needed to smooth and damp the information feedback loop are part of the narrative, part of the problem.

I see only a massive cluster ***k and a new, yet to be conceived do-over.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Question of the day - Is it ethical to shift accounting periods so that they do NOT cover the same period of time?

http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/07/08/federal-appeals-court-skeptical-of-bp-argument-in-gulf-spill-claims-fight/

"At issue is BP’s assertion that claims administrator Patrick Juneau is misinterpreting key terms of the deal, resulting in huge sums of BP money going to businesses that didn’t suffer losses. The company wants the appeals court to force Juneau to change his interpretation.

A key to the dispute is how to calculate profits and losses before and after the spill, an element in quantifying damages.

The settlement calls for comparison of “corresponding periods.” The administrator has accepted claims that count revenue in months when businesses receive cash and expenses in months when they spend it.

BP argues that the words ”corresponding periods” call for an analysis in which specific expenses are matched to revenue generated from those expenses. That could spread cash received or spent in one month over several months or different months depending on terms of sales and vendor contracts, and in turn the business might not show any loss at all."

It seems that the plaintiff's bar believes in "I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv60xdKJPNQ

Even the lofos must recognize that promise!

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Although it is true that some people equate “Americanness” with acquisitiveness, that is not the only definition of America. To talk of “The American Dream” is inherently totalitarian because it presumes there is only one dream for America, only one dream for Americans, that one cannot be American without somehow seeking “The American Dream”. Yet, America is a land of liberty – not the only one, but one among many. In America, one has the freedom to be different. Freedom to reject the “narrative”. Freedom to walk alone.

In his speech “I Have a Dream”, Martin Luther King Jr used the phrase, “We cannot walk alone,” he was warning against the perils of black racism. He said, “The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up in our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

Yet, Martin Luther King's warning against black segregationism has been twisted into a refrain of collectivism coming from the mouth of Barack Hussein Obama. “We cannot walk alone” is a refrain – perhaps the main refrain – of Barack Hussein Obama's entire presidency. What had originally been an admonition against black racism has become an admonition to march lock step in the path of Barack Hussein Obama, a totalitarian call to all Americans to dream the same dream and march on the same shining path.

There is more than one dream in America. There is more than one dream of America. There are those who would equate America with Mammon. There are those who would equate America with People's Temple. There are those who would equate America with the promise of Utopia. There are those who would equate America with something better. Yet, for so many of us, America is home. It is where we live. It is where we can be ourselves. We seek to live in peace, yet we will fight to preserve our liberty from those who seek to enslave us. And that includes those who would enslave us to the ideals of any one philosophy, even if it is called the so-called “American Dream”.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ah, that men had instant and enduring access to Truth Entire, but we don't. We peer sporadically at the Mind of God glimpsed through a shard of Creation. What we see, or think we see, we then attempt to order in a pattern - meaning. We express meaning through the crude tool language and hope to convey it, and we do convey it, albeit imperfectly, despite signal degradation (Hello, narrative!). Understanding follows, then consensus - paradigm! Men's minds perform intellectual acrobatics to fit observation into paradigm - Faith, sometimes even so called. Faith becomes culturally embodied in institutions which foment and protect it - religion. Institutions by their nature are resistant to change as they have a vested interest in their own existence.

Sometimes, infrequently, contrary evidence results in paradigm shift and a new or modified faith. More often faith in a version of reality can and not infrequently does persist in the face of contrary evidence even unto death. At the outset the Left employed Active Measures to effect a paradigm shift in the world at large, particularly in the Western world whose intellectual and moral leader was the United States. In so doing they have created a religion whose Gospel narrative is founded on the deliberately conceived lies of cultural warfare.

Those not confessing the religion of the Left can see that adherence to their tenets of faith lead inexorably to death and destruction. Whatever the intent of the founders of this religion it has taken on a life of its own. As it presses its good works on the world their consequences spiral out of control guided solely by the internal logic of its faith, the passion of its adherents and the vested interests of its religious institutions.

Shall the Progressive narrative move us towards a collectivist cargo cult? Shall the anti narrative move us towards a paradigm shift in the direction of greater individual freedom and happiness? The failure of the former understood in therms of the faith of the latter does not guarantee that the latter will in fact occur. I hope not, but it may be that the American Experiment may wind up like Christianity in North Africa.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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