Saturday, October 4, 2008

The American Public

I have for a long time had a theory about the role of media in the way the worst kind of capitalism works – all capitalism not being by any means bad. I'm not an economist, nor a political scientist, nor a sociologist, but I have my own little theories. jdid says I overestimate the intelligence of the American public. I've known the American public since I went to college in the US, at age seventeen, and I respectfully submit that the Democratic Party would not have a black man named Barack Obama running for president in the upcoming US election if the American public of now, this day and time in October 2008, were stupid people. I've already written about this. As I’ve said, I never thought I would live to see a black person as a viable candidate for president of the US. That it has happened in my lifetime says a lot of very positive things about our neighbours to the south and I rejoice in that. But being a victim of Bad Capitalism can leave a person open to manipulation. Here’s how it works. Bad Capitalism is rapacious. It has no conscience and its greed is limitless. Bad Capitalism wants to control not just the economy, but also the political system, the educational and health care systems, the transport system, the media, the entertainment systems, and so on, and so on. Once it controls all those systems, it ensures that they work together to achieve one purpose: making Bad Capitalists richer and more powerful. The Bad Capitalist system makes everything really hard for all but the privileged few: hard for a person to get a good education unless they have parents who can afford private schools or afford to live in areas where there are good public schools, so many middle and lower income folk have to make do with schools that aren't so good, and getting from those to college or university isn’t easy. It’s hard to find a job anyhow, and a not-so-well-qualified person must fight to get one, and must often work two or three jobs to make ends meet. The two- or three-job person gets caught up in a daily grind where work dominates and takes up all their time, and stress affects their health. Because this person is working so many hours, it’s hard to find time to spend with family, much less find time for reading books and newspapers to keep abreast with what is going on. Now, here's where some of the Bad Capitalist owned media come in on behalf of the greedy Bad Capitalists: they offer the public, not serious analysis and solid facts, but sound bits-and-bites and biased packaging of information. (jdid, you are absolutely right in this regard.) Television becomes a place where an exhausted person can sit and be diverted – by almost any foolishness. (I'm telling you. I know. I've been diverted in this way more hours than I care to count, especially if I'm depressed and frightened about how to meet the next month's mortgage payment.) And there is mostly foolishness on the Boob Tube. So the tired overworked person ends up picking up information where and when he can, and doing the best with it that he can, with two consequences. (1) He or she can end up reading and trusting only some kinds of programs, newspapers and magazines, and end up under-informed or misinformed. (For example, there’s an article on John McCain in Rolling Stone by Tim Dickinson (online, posted October 19th) that’s worth reading, whatever your politics. But it’s long, and though it’s well worth reading, many people will just not stick it out.) (2) People can end up thinking that such a person is stupid, because they are pressed and stressed by a difficult life. The amazing thing is, this overworked average Joe or Jemima in America really has not been fooled in recent elections. Let’s ignore for a moment that George Bush may well not have been elected President in either of the last two elections. (Lots of evidence for this, for anyone who is interested.) But if one takes the number of voters who voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and calculates it as a percentage of voters eligible to vote (estimates say between 55 and 60% of voters actually did vote in the 2004 election) then President Bush was most certainly NOT elected by the majority of the American people. Gallup polls distinguish between eligible voters and likely voters in their polls. Give thanks, that never mind things are so hard for so many people, never mind that their lives may be squeezed into very narrow spaces, they manage to find the truth. which means, for me, that the Spirit is alive and well and blows where it wishes. I have one plea this fall. Say your prayers, if you pray, fast if you fast, and for the sake of God and good citizenship – be a likely voter! Go out and vote. Once more, your life may depend on it… Selah!


FSJL said...

As a very wise poet put it, some time ago:

It sad and getting more bad,
I say doux-doux, capitalism gorn mad.

Jdid said...

I agree on your take but I still think some of them lack certain abilities to be rational even if we blame it on the capitalist sytem. Take for example this one.

A few months ago they did a poll which concluded that some significant percentage of americans still believed that obama was muslim. This occured way after every possible form of media was flooded with the news about his supposedly black militant pastor. The fact that so many people believed him to still be muslim even though hearing about his fellowship at Wright's church leads me to believe that the ability to process information may be lacking.

Is it due to the capitalist system yes.

Also and maybe this isnt capitalist or education issue but have you noticed the swing towards an anti-intellectualism in the US/ I used to think it was just black kids but its not its a significant portion of the population. Its happening here too. But in the US aside from the race issue in this election there is this focus on Palin being one of us a regular joe sixpack or jane sixpack as you will have it while they are saying Obama is elitist.

Now maybe he is or maybe he isnt but I think clearly there is a great difference in the intellectual fortitude of both these candidates so wy would you want the dumber one to be your leader. The argument is she is like us but shouldnt the counter argument be do you really think one of us has the capability to lead credibly? Its the same reason bush got voted in before too. strange I say.

clarabella said...


Capitalism gorn mad, in truth! As Winston Joker Devine wrote in the 1983 Calypso of that name penned for the Mighty Sparrow. (This info is sake of anybody who don't know what we talking about.) We can all endorse Devine's sentiment, also from the calypso: "It's outrageous and insane..."

clarabella said...


Sorry to take so long with this reply to your response, and on a matter that is important to me and clearly one of great concern to you as well. As someone who is a former teacher and, hopefully, still an educator, I have to agree with you about the anti-intellectualism, which indeed is not confined to black youth at all, but has spread to young people across North America and also, apparently, in the UK as well. At my most cynical, I think that's also part of the plan, especially where black youngsters are concerned. Professor Errol Miller has done research that shows the British in colonial times closing a teachers' college for men in a deliberate attempt to block opportunities for them to obtain education, thus eliminating the threat of a core of black intellectuals who might form a middle class. Interestingly enough, they started one for women not long after. Miller theorizes that they felt women would be easier to co-opt into the colonial agenda so it didn't matter so much if they were educated. After all, people who are ENCOURAGED not to develop their intellectual abilities are not going to have the curiosity, the dogged determination required to figure out the runnings, which 'runnings' don't just include what is and is not true about political things, but extends to how things work overall: the economy, health (including mental health) and education systems, housing systems, distribution systems, concepts like social cost, opportunity cost, and so on. But people who believe that it's a sissy, nerdish thing to take steps to be informed will be easier to manipulate. And that's the frightening thing...

FSJL said...

My father used to say 'I don' talk bout di good ol days, dem was neva good.' Now we seem to have reached the days of his youth once more (he was just about to turn ten when the stock market crashed in 1929, not that this would have been of much significance to him at the time I suspect). I note that the former chairman of Lehman has just found out that his actions don't meet with universal approbation (

clarabella said...


Aw but he shouldn't get away with just that punch, should he? He should be sent off to be re-educated! In fact, there's a lot of folks in your neck of the woods who'd best re-educate themselves or things are going to grow even more grim.