by Gary Farber
This is my sign-off post for at least three weeks or so, as a front-pager, as I'm in the final stages of my move to Oakland. (Any help, as described, much appreciated.)
Meanwhile, the Texas Supreme Court has been only logical: Texas Supreme Court Cites The Wisdom Of Spock On Star Trek.
(Via David K. M. Klaus, who should feel better.)
And last weekend put to my mind Tom Lehrer in 2000 on the keen effectiveness of political satire:
[...] O: Do you feel that you had any impact?
TL: That's hard for me to say. I don't think this kind of thing has an impact on the unconverted, frankly. It's not even preaching to the converted; it's titillating the converted. I think the people who say we need satire often mean, "We need satire of them, not of us." I'm fond of quoting Peter Cook, who talked about the satirical Berlin cabarets of the '30s, which did so much to stop the rise of Hitler and prevent the Second World War. You think, "Oh, wow! This is great! We need a song like this, and that will really convert people. Then they'll say, 'Oh, I thought war was good, but now I realize war is bad.'" No, it's not going to change much.
Going to a Comedy Central show is not working for political change.
A source for the Cook quote, if you'd like one, is Peter Cook's obiturary in The Independent:
[...] "Satire" is sometimes given at least part of the credit for the collapse of the old order (in the form of Harold Macmillan's administration); another view is that it was just a lot of undergraduates repaying the state for their expensive educations by being rude to the Government. Cook's own view of the satire boom was as disenchanted as his view of its targets: he said of the Establishment Club that it was to be modelled on the political cabarets of Berlin in the Thirties "which did so much to prevent the rise of Adolf Hitler". [....]
And read the rest of what Lehrer had to say in 2000 about political satire.
And as you watch tonight's election, and may feel despair, I leave you with:
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
|f you're a Democrat, you can ponder the words of H.P. Lovecraft on the Republican Party, via digby. [UPDATE, 11/03/10, 7:52 a.m; I've decided to include the quote, which is only two sentences, but one a typical Lovecraft sentence.]
"As for the Republicans—how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical ‘American heritage’…) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead."
And if anyone would like to argue how different the Republican Party of 1936 is to that of today, we can also talk similarities. After I get back.
And when you want to take your mind off politics, and laugh, rather than cry, try some Beyond The Fringe.
Be excellent to yourselves, and to others, while I'm away!
Update, November 3rd, 2010, 8:16 a.m.: But do read Sara Robinson's The Myth of the Self-Made American: Why Progressives Get No Respect:
[...] Unfortunately, this is just a symptom of a much larger problem, one that progressives need to resolve if we are to prevail in the future. The bizarre fact is that most Americans who've made it into the middle class got there with the help of seriously life-changing government investments and subsidies -- and yet, ironically, if you ask them if they've ever used a government program in their lives, they're very likely to tell you: Nope. Never. I did it all on my own.
Suzanne Mettler, a professor at Cornell, actually documented this effect in a 2008 study. She asked people who'd been the beneficiaries of 19 specific government programs -- including some of the most popular and widespread programs in the country -- whether or not they'd ever used a government social program. Here's what she found:
There it is, in black and white. Sixty percent of people who get home mortgage interest deductions (one of the most important and lucrative middle-class subsidies going) don't see this as a form of government help to their households, even though many of them wouldn't be homeowners at all without it. Fifty-three percent of the people who got through college on student loans -- and 40 percent of GI Bill beneficiaries -- also think they've paid their own freight. And 44 percent of Social Security recipients don't think that Social Security is a government program -- which comes as no surprise to those of us who remember the ubiquitous calls during last year's health care fight to "get your fllthy government hands off my Social Security."
What's going on here? How can so many people receive so much, and yet remain in such obstinate denial about where it all came from? [....]