Struggling To Gain Insight Into Obama: Begin With Chicago
Everyone knows that Obama worked in Chicago as a “community organizer” (whatever that means, and the definition has been uninformative and imprecise enough to leave this newsletter wondering just how deceptive it might be). Was he effective, and was the organization he worked for effective? What does it mean to “organize” a community, how do you go about it, and how is the community different once it has been “organized”? What assumptions does a CO make when he signs on, and what are his working principles?
Asking those questions would frustrate and anger Obama and his followers, of course. The faithful would consider the queries hostile, and take them as admissions of ignorance and stupidity, to boot. TLB maintains, however, that the questions are rational and intelligent ways to approach Obama’s curriculum vitae, and that so far answers to them have been vague to the point of evasive.
A recent article in City Journal sheds some light on the issue, fortunately, and you are advised to read it in its entirety. It is not politically correct, which suggests the article to anyone hoping to get a better grasp on reality. Here’s a quote that may whet your appetite:
Alinskyite empowerment suffered its worst scandal in 1960s Chicago. The architects of the federal War on Poverty created a taxpayer-funded version of a community-organizing entity, the so-called Community Action Agency, whose function was to agitate against big-city mayors for more welfare benefits and services for blacks. Washington poverty warriors, eager to demonstrate their radical bona fides, funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into Chicago’s most notorious gangs, who were supposed to run job-training and tutoring programs under the auspices of a signature Alinskyite agency, the Woodlawn Organization. Instead, the gangbangers maintained their criminal ways — raping and murdering while on the government payroll, and embezzling federal funds to boot.
The disaster failed to dim the romance of community organizing. But by the time Obama arrived in Chicago in 1984, an Alinskyite diagnosis of South Side poverty was doubly irrelevant.
After you have read the entire article, ask yourself whether you agree with these generalizations:
1. Violence and social dysfunction in some Chicago neighborhoods are not matters of race — understanding them means beginning with the prevailing family structure.
2. The governments (local, state and federal) do not have solutions to Chicago’s problems. That is because the solutions proposed by Alinsky and Obama are collectivist.
3. Obama’s experience as a “community organizer” did not enlighten him about the limitations of collectivist approaches to social distress. He learned next to nothing because his mindset was not open to valid alternative paradigms; he remained in the grip of Alinsky’s ideology, which teaches that all social discontents are reducible to power differentials.
4. Obama is a Utopian who firmly believes that government can empower social groups to create a better world. When he assumes that groups are the seminal and operative elements in the political process, he overlooks the facts of social dynamics and the ethical insights of the USA’s founding fathers. That makes him an alien in his own nation.
Well. The piece in City Journal provokes meditation on a number of themes. What follows is a critical view of the implications of “community organizing” that notes their roots and their current importance to the USA.
The fundamental error made by both Karl Marx and Saul Alinsky was their reduction of reality to mechanistic chains of causes and effects. For Marx, the morphology of the economy was the sole determinant of culture, and for Alinsky, everything wrong could be explained in terms of power and powerlessness. One might as well try to explain how a car works by dealing only with electricity.
It took the pioneering work of a theoretical biologist — Ludwig von Bertalanffy, the least-known of the genuinely great scientists of the twentieth century — to demolish the conceit that is reductionism. Von Bertalanffy’s foundation of and contributions to general system theory are a shattering assault on the antiquated thinking that has given the world Marxism, behaviorist psychology, and mechanistic evolutionary theory (among other rank absurdities).
In spite of this biologist’s relative obscurity, the fact is that a competent modern scholar will apply a systems approach to social problems. While it is an oversimplification of the concept to put it as follows, one can explain that a systems orientation means understanding that there is no single cause or ruling principle that governs phenomena. Systems analysis is a scientific approach to complexity (or even chaos) that disdains political ideology, and it makes a mockery of sociological posturing.
Candor requires plain language: the customary methodology used to understand the maladaptive responses of segments of society is primitive.
(A very great deal of material could be cited to support this contention, but perhaps the best introduction to the basis for it is to be found in Susanne Langer’s Philosophy in a New Key. She fired among the first salvos into reductionism. Then von Bertalanffy administered the coup de grace with his revolutionary contributions.)
To a reductionist, the world is an essentially simple place in which you can alter one cause, and the result will give you the effect you want. This approach inspires the discovery of a “covering-law,” a universal principle that could explain simply and quickly the reasons why certain events and phenomena are (or were) inevitable.
Unfortunately the “covering-law” always turns out to be a mythological concept, the evidence for which is one or more unfalsifiable hypotheses.
As a consequence of all the pretentious geomancy, the world suffers from a plethora of seeming explanations and irrational schemes for charting mankind’s course. In one of TLB’s predecessor newsletters it was noted that if historians could explain the past, they could predict the future. They can do neither. A chronicle explains nothing, though it pretends and seems to.
Marx, who had studied the chronicles and believed he had discovered the fundamental process of history, incorporated the Quixotic notion of the “covering-law” with the hoary concept of social evolution and predicted the inevitable appearance of a global communist society. His was an age when the universal applicability of science was increasingly assumed and all phenomena were expected to submit to understanding. The educated elite believed mankind was on the verge of total knowledge. That conceit still drives people today, and nowhere is it more significant than in the fantasies of Utopian dreamers.
Alinsky, too, was a reductionist who knew what the fundamental rule of human existence was. He knew that people suffered because they were weakened and victimized; give them control, and their suffering would cease. While Marx knew that humanity’s distress would be relieved with the passage of time that allowed economic behavior to mature, Alinsky thought of progress as anything but inevitable — and available only to those who banded together to force it to happen.
Both Marx and Alinsky were not just naive. They were clever, self-deluded thinkers who created ideologies and strategies that are traps for the unsophisticated.
And “unsophisticated” exactly describes Obama. His focus on the group rather than the individual reveals his primitive ethics — a moral code that knows next to nothing of the Enlightenment (Marx and Alinsky were similarly bereft). His experiences in Chicago taught him precious little if anything. Failure has yet to convince him that his approaches are flawed. The experience of others does not deter him from aping their mistakes.
Behind all this obsessive stupidity is a primitive authoritarianism that leads Obama to say that in order to achieve “…the national security objectives we’ve set” we need “…a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded” as the current military.
That may seem a contradiction of the Marxism Obama is accused of promoting. In a limited sense, that is exactly what it is. As much as Marxist economic concepts dominate Obama’s legislative program, at base he conceives of class warfare as eternal, and almost an end in itself. While Marx sees violence between classes as a temporary condition, a step to a higher level of development, Obama does not. Probably thanks to his understanding of Alinsky, Obama is bluntly Hobbesian: power is the engine of change, progress and perfection. Its importance will remain, for there will be no perfectly classless society of selfless humans who do not need governance. Utopia will have cops.
Now and forever: the round peg will go into the square hole, or else!
One can see in Obama’s odd mix of pretentious philosophical wool-gathering, self-delusion, faux, antiquated sociology and attempts to cope with fractious mankind the dilemma of the contemporary Marxist of whatever stripe. This pathetic reformer/activist can impose a dictatorship and call it “of the proletariat” — charismatic thugs with guns and fanatical followers do it all the time. But he can go no further toward the Marxist paradise. The withering away of the state is impossible, and Obama knows that. So conflict, violence, and class envy/jealously/hatred/warfare are ineradicable parts of the authoritarian future Obama offers his nation. To achieve “fairness,” the government will have to keep adjusting punitive tax laws and tightening the bonds that limit entrepreneurship. Voluntarism does not work; one can’t “spread it around” fairly without carrying a pistol.
For political lunatics of all types, Utopia comes hard and bids to depart. If they are candid, its planners/rulers will tell you why: “The individual, damn him, keeps pressing for release from perfect governance.”
Socialists inevitably find they must use force — the police power of the state — to impose their reforms. The Castro brothers mean exactly what their slogan says: “Socialism or death” (everyone understands that the intent of the phrase ends with “take your pick”). Textbook communists can’t trust the people to be unselfish and productive. Every regime that has Utopian pretensions must collapse into tyranny, if it is not swept away first.
They all need “civilian national security forces.”
A Major Advance In Science
This stunning report will be public knowledge in a few days, but TLB has obtained a copy of a forthcoming press release that outlines the breakthrough. It does not take a genius to see at once that this research could easily be rewarded with a Nobel. Thanks go to reader GB for pulling strings to allow TLB to scoop the world’s press!
PU-311, A Dangerous new Addition to the Periodic Table
The densest element in the known Universe has been found!
Pelosium: (Redacted), a major research institution in (redacted), has just announced the discovery of the densest element yet known to science. The new element has been named Pelosium.
Pelosium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311. These particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
The symbol of Pelosium is PU. Pelosium’s mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons within the Pelosium molecule, leading to the formation of isodopes.
This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Pelosium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as Critical Morass.
When catalyzed with money, Pelosium activates CNNadnausium, an element that radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons as Pelosium.
Cultural Relativism, AKA Multiculturalism
The scene: India, perhaps a hundred sixty years ago. Indians considered it appropriate to force widows onto the funeral pyres of their deceased husbands; it was called the suttee.
Rational people might ask why the widow had to be alive when consumed by fire. If she was absolutely required to join her husband nowin the afterlife (absurd notion, but the setting is India), why not kill her as soon as he dies, and then burn their bodies together?
The answer is pure speculation, you understand, but TLB notes that the prospect of what could and just might happen as the woman’s unimaginable agony began probably guaranteed large crowds at cremations.
And…does anyone honestly believe that the suttee would not be practiced today, had the British never ended it? Imagine the mob of Indians at each cremation, everybody holding video cameras up to get a good recording of the widow’s lethal excruciation (in death-dealing color, and with every scream preserved digitally). Doubtless there would be a lot of tourists in the crowd, as well; the stench of evil does attract the depraved.
It was not to be, for, back in the bad old days, General Sir Charles Napier addressed the Indians thus:
You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.
For sheer literary purposes, it would be best, of course, to conclude this item with the general’s acerbic remarks. His stinging wit is a perfect exclamation point. Well, this is not a novel, but a newsletter, and it often asks its readers to question the phenomena on which it reports.
So, Pilgrims, ponder these points, please: first, is it possible for an entire culture to be depraved? Second, if that can happen, could it be reformed from within, and if so, how would the reformers proceed? Third, can there be occasions when being conquered is just about the best thing that can happen to a region?
The questions are not sterile. Remember the mindset of Muslims who honestly believe in the inerrancy of the Koran. Focus only on the commandments, ignoring non-scriptural customs such as “honor killings.” Consider the embrace of death demanded by the god of the Muslims. Islamist warriors leave home hoping not to return. Muslim children are slaughtered to the delight of their parents. How is this not utter, Stygian depravity?
Saul Alinsky never explained how to conduct foreign policy. That’s probably one reason why Obama’s been such a Keystone Kop of a diplomat and formulator of policy (although there are less charitable explanations). And Hillary? She’s much too small to have such a big job. “Small”? Yes. Lacking in basic education (“ignorant”), inexperienced, uninterested, and just another lawyer who thinks her law degree qualifies her to do anything except brain surgery.
What is Wretchard the Cat getting at when he says, “The freaks are everywhere”? You can’t imagine, but you should find out. It’s one of his best commentaries on the times and the inanities, so TLB rates it highly recommended.
Another “Oh, shit” moment for the White House.
Remember AGW? Like Mithraism, it’s probably still considered a big deal by a few folks. But when NASA admits things like this, the future popularity of the concept is not a good bet.
A good response to charges of racism: “Do you honestly think I’d be in favor of Obamacare if Obama were white?” That’s a modified version of an idea reported here.
Related: Tea Party racism examined.
Obamacare for children: the president spells it out, and what he says turns out not to be true. Was he lying? No, he just did not know what he was talking about (whew, that’s a relief). Says a commenter: “I think that Obama, by merrily conflating ‘pre-existing condition exclusion’ with denial of coverage, is trying to make domestic policy by gaffe the same way he has tried to make foreign policy by gaffe.” Once again, this confidence-inspiring administration earns the astonished Oohs and Aahs of a fascinated public. — By all means, follow the twisting path to the facts — it’s all in two highly-informative posts, found here, and then here. Well, do that only if you have children. Or if you want to see how clever Congress and the bureaucrats are. Or if you want to see how careful with the facts Obama is.
Oh, no…heaven help the nation: the Mistress of Disaster is back! — If you want a list of her appearances in this newsletter, or if you would like to have copies of the relevant issues, send The Eagle Wing Palace a message.
You can trust The One. He won’t lie to you. He keeps his promises. When Obama speaks, the very stones harken to the immutable truths that testify to the glory of Hopeandch…. Wow! Typing those words has a faster and more explosive effect than two tablespoons of syrup of ipecac!
It’s a plot! Yes, it really is. And that’s not baseless paranoia. The USA’s version of the Brown Shirts has plans to infiltrate and shatter grassroots democracy. The Tea Partiers are aware of it, though — and now you are, as well.
Given the political realities surrounding the AGW hoax — which means the imposition of unnecessary laws on the public in order to increase taxes is an aim of governments in the USA and UK — this comes as no surprise.
For some silly reason, one TLB staffer has been fretting about how Obamacare will affect him. “I’m a legal resident of the USA,” he whines, “but I have not been in that country for years, and don’t expect I ever will be again.” Everybody here is really bored with his noisy anxiety attacks. Maybe this will shut him up.
Michael Yon from Afghanistan.
Here’s an interesting attempt to trace the origins of the values of various political factions. The consequent claim is that Liberalism is actually a religion. That is not the case, in TLB’s view, because faith and religion are distinct constructs — but it can be debated, as there are suggestive parallels. TLB has claimed that many AGW believers constitute a cult, for example. Recommended.
Hatred of the Tea Party movement, part what-is-it-now? Lots of links, too. Inform yourself about the folks who portray citizen participation in politics as unpatriotic.
How many times have you heard that the wide availability of firearms is the cause of injuries and deaths? And how many times have you looked at the facts? Well, facts won’t convince the corrupt ideologues at the UN.
Not worried about Obama’s “civilian national security force”? Oh, OK. Maybe you think the feds play fair?
What’s prolonging the depression? Among other things, this.
The collectivists have the nerve to call it “democracy“.
“Who Knew?” news: David Letterman, who still has his job, is polite to a lady who agreed to lend some credibility to his show.
“Sure, it’s unpopular now, but trust me and pass it, and it will be accepted. Everybody will like it. Love it, in fact.”
Obama vs. federalism. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
How to explain the sudden proliferation of victims of bigotry and violence? If this brief, lucid discussion can’t do it, nothing is likely to. — Also noted, a surge of paranoia that TLB considers bogus. Example: “…when the ruling classes think that the masses are out to get them, that means there’s revolution in the air.” Whoa! Whatever odors there are on the breeze now, the Bicoastal Elite is not genuinely frightened, no matter how much clucking and squawking you hear. Nobody expects a violent revolution; the culture war will heat up, yes, and militia members may kill some feds before being wiped out, and worse may happen — who knows — but there will be no classic (French, Russian, American, Mexican) revolution. Nor will there be another American Civil War or Spanish Civil War. Right now the collectivist fuss is all make-believe, that is, theater with a purpose, scripted and directed by the likes of Janet Napolitano.