Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Brother Gerald's New Project: "Stand Up And Do Something"

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Dear Ger,

Thanks for your email.

Your RBJ article gives a great overview of "Stand Up and Do Something!"

Are you aware that "your" acronym is the memorable word "SUDS?" 

Maybe you could hold intermittent promotional "festivals" -- with live music and a free keg of beer -- and call those events "SUDS." 

It occurs to me that Jimbo's nephew, MB (the brilliant and charismatic RIT History professor and Democratic political activist who's thinking of running for office) might become an ally - someone who could promote SUDS on the RIT campus, maybe even assign SUDS projects as "field work." 

Michael and wife E (a rare books librarian at UofR) both enjoyed your company a couple years ago when they came to Honeoye for a Labor Day celebration at your home.

But back to business...

Saturday, July 14, is a good time to chat - any time between noon and 7:00 p.m.

I'm happy to hear that upstate New Yorkers are responding well to your SUDS shirt!

Except for white people..


White people...

Here's a pertinent excerpt from my recent essay about Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset:

In a nutshell, "the masses" - starting in the late 19th century - became unconsciously contemptuous of cultured people, people who actually "knew things," people who used their well-of-knowledge to create the material advancements craved by the uneducated "masses."

Newly-inebriated by the discovery that they could sell their labor to the highest industrial bidder, the masses were, for the first time in history, able "to take care of themselves" without a workplace patronand soon disregarded the previous social hierarchy.

Too poorly educated to understand the depth, breadth and critical importance of trans-generational culture, the uneducated have come to threaten "ordered society itself" through inordinate focus on purchaseable pleasures without any overarching sense of cultural or historical meaning.

Increasingly skewed by a way of life intent on material gratification, the "social" citizens of yesteryear morphed into isolated "consumer units" dedicated to continual enhancement of their personal "pleasure domes."

Welcome to Xanadu. 

Not only were "the masses" devoid of intellectual accomplishment and intellectual rigor, they quickly became hubristically proud of their ability to be self-provident and, as a corollary of their single-minded focus on - and pride in - their ability to provide for themselves, they became implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) contemptuous of any social order that pretended to know better than they did.

The upshot has been the ongoing decline and threatening collapse of the social order itself.

'Bring on the six gun" and laud every man or woman "courageous" enough to "stand their ground" - even if mostly dark-skinned people end up dead. 

Re-Vision: "Was José Ortega y Gasset The Most Important Philosopher Of The 20th Century?"

As for older white people, I immediately think of RG. 

I realize R is just a single anecdotal "reference." 

I also realize that he is, like all of us (to a greater or lesser extent) a "victim" of his circumstances.

Even so, in my mind R is typical of yesteryear's "true believers" who got so locked in their doctrines that they had to defend them unquestioningly - despite facts, logic and rationality -- in order to keep their own personal identity from shattering.

Nor does it help that most older white people grew up in very comfortable times - the two decades after World War II - and thus were easily seduced by the ubiquity of purchaseable pleasures. 

"Price" and "value" are two very different things, and often at odds with one another. Their confusion is has been a cultural wrecking ball. 

I strongly encourage you to read the section of "price" and "value" just below my "Grab them by the pussy" meme in the following blog post. 

If you were to talk with Matt Cornelia or other people of The Greatest Generation who grew up in The Great Depression, I think you would find much more compassion and sense of social responsibility since those folks -- overwhelmingly "New Dealers" -- valued right down to the marrow of their bones the "concepts" of a Social Contract, The Common Good and The General Welfare.

Please let me know within a couple hours what's the best time for you to call me on Saturday.

Pax et amore


PS Here is the "price"/"value" passage I mentioned above:

Overshadowed by the dominion of Cowboy Capitalism, our "Social" Contract has become a pastiche of commercial contracts individually purchased with "cash on the barrelhead."

How exactly, does "value" degrade into "price?"


The "value" of grandparent baby-sitters (in the traditional "three-generation family") is replaced by the "price" of "live-in nannies" and "the kid down the block" who can use a couple o' bucks.

At bottom, capitalism makes most human interactions money-only-transactions that are as interchangeable as anonymous "worker-cogs" in industrial -- and post-industrial -- society. 

The cornerstone of capitalism -- at least the cornerstone of unregulated "Cowboy Capitalism" -- is a narrow-and-narrowing economic system that degrades social value by substituting  impersonal transactions based on "price" for the rich interactions of healthy society based on interpersonal "value".

"To Raze A Village: The Modernization Of A Thousand Year Old Culture," Helena Norberg-Hodge

Just this week, the state of Oregon ratified capitalist depersonalization statewide by eliminating the legal requirement that gas station employees "fill your tank" for you, and instead devolved this ubiquitous "personal interaction" between "attendant" and "car owner" to the automaticity of "self-help gas-pumping" and "credit card payment mediated by machine."

Donald Trump -- with his trophy wives and passion for impersonal sex -- is The Capitalist Dream come true. 

A Friend Close To Trump's "Podiatrist" Confirms Reports Of Philandering And Kinky Sex

In Trump's world, there is no need for interpersonal  relationship, only the solipsistic determination to grab personal pleasure within the gated confines (and non-disclosure agreements) of each individual's Xanadu fantasy.

Catholic priest and 20th century intellectual titan Ivan Illich described the disappearance of "value" at the hands of "price" - a capitalist battering ram that renders transactions impersonal, if not prostitutional.

Until Cowboy Capitalism "won" The Industrial Revolution, economic transactions -- which had been "look-me-in-the-eye neighborly" -- were now impersonal and merely monetary, the only requirement being to "cross a person's palm with silver" in much the same way that the Chief Priests of ancient Israel "bought" Judas with a sackful of coins. 

At least metaphorically, Judas hung himself when he realized that material rewards mean nothing against the loss of personal relationship.

The functional primacy of Cowboy Capitalism's "merely economic transactions" (between-and-among de-socialized individuals) is effluvium in comparison to the social validation and pervasive nurturance of social relationships that inform peasant and tribal societies from the ground up.

NPR: "Islamic Exceptionalism" And The Need To Hate One Another Peacefully

In effect, peasants and tribaists have always put "the horse before the cart," whereas hell-bent Capitalism puts it the other way 'round.

And so, peasant society -- humankind's dominant social form since the dawn of civilization -- presupposes The Primacy of Society, whereas individualism -- indispensable in its derivative way -- performs a secondary role.

In peasant communities, local society is identical to consanguineous family in which every member of the community is related by blood or marriage. 

And in peasant society The Whole is the synergistic amalgam of its individual parts. 

Alternatively, in advanced capitalism, "rugged individualism" is a narrowly economic (and anti-social) system in which individuals, wrenched from comprehensively meaningful society, have enough money to purchase the consolations of "priced products," whose role is, on one hand, to satisfy humankind's material needs, while simultaneously orchestrating an economic matrix in which "purchaseable products" attempt to fill the unfillable void left by the destruction of humankind's indispensable social matrix. 

In turn, the destruction of social meaning inflames the desire to purchase "priced products" marketed as "fulfilling" but intrinsically incapable of replacing lost social meaning.

In a word, Capitalism insures that "what's bad for society is good for business."

In capitalist society, The Individual is apotheosized and Society is systematically dismantled.

As Episcopalian minister and Jungian analyst John Sanford put it: "Isolation is the breeding ground of evil." 

"Gender," Ivan Illich

Gender And Division Of Labor

Ivan Illich Compendium

"The People's Priest," An Ivan Illich "Obituary" From "The American Conservative"

Evil: What The Shadow Knows
An Interview with Episcopalian priest and Jungian analysit, John Sanford

On Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 10:14 AM, GA wrote:

I would like to speak with you this weekend regarding the initial content for launching the Stand Up and Do Something website.  I think you mentioned that you have a website developer who could help us as well.  I understand there would be a cost I would cover for any consulting services required. 

Please read the attached RBJ column, which was published recently.  The content of this article, plus many of the suggestions that you have made regarding the types of content that could be included on the website, are the next step in this process.  I am hopeful that the website can be fluid and frequently updated as it relates to content, so we also need to discuss whether or not you or your website developer contact could serve as our webmaster. 

Of interest but not surprise is that the t-shirts get rave reviews and demand from anyone in the minority community, including Hispanic, African-American, Asian, and Eastern European.  It has been fascinating to me to see the cowering reactions of complete avoidance expressed by the Caucasians who do not know me from any previous interactions.  Accordingly, we have a significant challenge to overcome, and I am not entirely sure what strategy should be employed to enlist the support of Caucasians who have an interest in social justice and addressing one or more of the issues that these shirts identify.

In any event, let me know if there is a time this weekend when we could spend an hour on the phone discussing these matters and our next steps.

P.S. One interesting observation is that while you and I are over the age of 60, the other Caucasians I have interacted with in our age range tend to be the most difficult in terms of having an educated conversation on these topics. 


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