the age of incompetence

Are our government’s in the West incompetent? No doubt the nation state is in crisis and its future of more than passing concern. Whether in terminal collapse as some libertarians seem to be wagering on, or some from of re-tooling and orderly or only partially chaotic reformulation given the wealth involved, is subject to serious consideration, given that an series of established canon, economic and social will be questioned and in many cases overturned. …Yet, despite the individual inclination to selfish and self-serving behavior, the species has shown flashes of an equally contradictory tendency towards a flexibility; a saving grace in the game of survival. As Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

---China will suspend the broadcast of all television dramas related to spies, criminals and romance from May to July as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prepares for its 90th anniversary celebrations on July 1. The unexpected order, issued by the State Administration of Radio Film and Television (SARFT), the agency that regulates and censors film and television content in China, forced Chinese television stations to change their program schedules and select more appropriate programs as required. --- Read More:

Is it intentional incompetence or is it an “accidental byproduct” of our elected officials not having the wherewithal to deal with the issues. Also, the electorate tends to be attracted to aspiring public leaders who resemble them to some degree, whom they can relate to; thus, if a politician is overly intelligent there tends to be foreboding dread, something disquieting about the process of stepping into the unknown. The result is said to produce what is termed as a “mediocracy” or rule by the kind of smart. A dictatorship of the mediocre is a form of totalitarianism, especially if one finds themselves in the minority. It undermines, to some extent the conventional critique of rule as theorized by Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand, turning it towards a kind of nihilism. Or maybe, its the “too big to fail” philosophy. Certainly, the American incarceration rate and its monopoly on the global supply of lawyers portends to the police state scenario and the theory of a chaotic and law-detesting society.

---But for all its success, the party, whose 80 million members comprise the wealthiest and most powerful people in the population of 1.3 billion, retains a brittle edginess born of its lack of legitimacy. The party's right to rule still fundamentally emanates from its civil war victory three generations ago over a nationalist government worn down by its decade-long fight against the invading Japanese. "All power comes from the barrel of a gun," Mao pronounced. In lieu of formalising that legitimacy by seeking electoral approval, since Mao's death in 1976 the party has relied chiefly on its impressive material catch-up with the rest of East Asia. That legitimacy also comes from the story of modern China, which the party has framed its own way. And it is sealed by the party's incorporation of the key emblems of what it means to be Chinese today: the flag, the state symbol, the national heroes and role models, the public rhetoric and, crucially, the People's Liberation Army -- the party's army, accountable primarily to the party leadership.--- Read More:

According to Michael Ferguson of the Polymathica Institute, there is an elite that actually controls the choices of the elected officials who are ostensibly brighter than their bosses who will then transform the message down the food chain to the mass of voters. At least in principle. Ferguson’s assertion, which is coherent, is that in the early twentieth-century, this system worked quite well since the issues were simpler and could more easily be communicated and understood. Today, the problems are much more complex, beyond the scope of the formerly savant advisers to explain. When advisers do figure something out, they can’t explain it to the decision makers, whom, if they swallow it on faith, worry that the voters will decide they have lost their mind so to speak.

In this photo provided by the Department of Defense, Lieutenant Col. David Cogdell helps Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin test out the Engagement Skills Trainer at the training village on Camp Beuhring, Kuwait, on July 24, 2007

The issue is that the voter lives in the expectation of being able to understand the solution. Whether they can or cannot is debatable. A theory X or theory Y drama. However, there is no doubt a complicated game results. To quote Ferguson: “the advisers are being charged with the task of finding solutions that will work, at least a little, but that also can be presented to the electorate under the ruse of a purpose that they can understand.” …

…”What is happening is that nothing, or almost nothing, is being done for the reason that is given. That is working less and less well as the complexification of society continues unabated. What we need is one of two things. One, we need either a smarter electorate or two, we need the electorate we have to accept that they aren’t smart enough to get it. I don’t see either happening- which is one of the reasons why I say that the nation state is terminal.”

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…of complex theories and historical debates with which some readers may not be familiar. One risks providing either too much or too little theoretical background, thus either losing less knowledgeable readers or boring others…. in which digital technology reconfigures the abstract and the material in an unprecedentedly complex amalgam.

Debord said: “In the modern conditions of production, life announces itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles” (#1). The society of the spectacle is still a commodity society, ultimately rooted in production, but reorganized at a higher and more abstract level. “Spectacle” is a complex term which “unifies and explains a great diversity of apparent phenomena” (#10). In one sense, it refers to a media and consumer society, organized around the consumption of images, commodities, and spectacles, but the concept also refers to the vast institutional and technical apparatus of contemporary capitalism, to all the means and methods power employs, outside of direct force, to relegate subjects passive to societal manipulation and to obscure the nature and effects of capitalism’s power and deprivations. …Baudrillard’s argument against Debord is that during the phase of political economy theorized by the Situationists in terms of the society of media, consumption, and spectacle, a generalization and complexification of the sign form extended throughout the entire culture and environment leading to a hegemony of sign value in which commodities are produced, distributed, and consumed for their conspicuous social meaning. The object is converted into a mere sign of its use, now abstract and divorced from physical needs. The whole cycle of production, distribution, and consumption, Baudrillard claims, is transformed into a semiotic system of abstract signifiers with no relation to an objective world. In the imaginary world of sign value, one consumes power or prestige through driving a certain type of car or wearing designer clothes.  This is a new stage of abstraction, a dematerialization of the world through semiological (re)processing in which images and signs take on a life of their own and provide new principles of social organization. … Read More:

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