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Saturday, April 4, 2020


More and more strongly I am coming to suspect that America will emerge from this medical crisis changed in significant ways.  Perhaps better, perhaps worse, but changed.  Changed economically, changed politically, changed socially.  I was born in the fourth year of the Great Depression and grew up as a boy during the Second World War.  Those two events changed America fundamentally.  I do not yet have anything like a coherent analysis or set of expectations, simply a suspicion.  This is different, different from the Oil Shock, different from the Great Recession, different even from the Viet Nam War.


TheDudeDiogenes said...

It is certainly unprecedented in my almost 38 years on this planet. The pandemic itself, but also the economic contraction caused by the response to is all rather mind-boggling

Jerry Brown said...

I'm thinking you are right professor.

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

This is epistemologically creepy. For three years, I've been waiting for the fact that would break the executive spin. One thing after another has been spun by last rate minds. It has been just absolutely creepy. Now, along comes Covid19. You'd think that that since it its as close to a sense datum as one could get, along with kicked stones, it would be immune to spin. But, his followers are out there expressing their contempt for liberals and their fake news by flaunting social distancing, not to mention an open set of other things perceived to be liberal. Of course, they're getting violently ill, and in some cases, dying. So, the pragmatic contradiction is palpable to anyone who isn't from their planet. But, whether any of this will result in fundamental change depends on the power of ideology or marketing to sell this as insignificant. I can hear it now, "Since there was so little testing, we don't really know whether Covid19 caused any significant number of deaths...." The Trumpets hate science and liberals so much, they'll suck this up like gin after Prohibition. If that happens, there will be no fundamental change. The corporate world has been scientifically studying marketing for something like a hundred years; they figured out how to sell carcinogenic gases, and now they have applied this to the selling of class subservience. What reason do you think we have to believe that they won't also be able to sell Covid19?

Hey Man said...

I fear that Andrew is correct. The echo chambers stand ready to assist with the necessary spin/marketing. It does feel that significant change is coming, but I suspect it will be in the direction of screwing the poor and middle class once again, as when we got the tea party after the last economic collapse. "We're broke from bailing out the country, there is no way we can continue funding Medicaid, etc." It has long been obvious to any reasonable person that Trump and the Republicans pose enormous threats to their base of voters, and yet they continue to receive the needed support from that base. Why would it be different here? There will be a lot of anger, I assume, but that is just an opportunity for soulless messengers to direct that anger at preferred targets (China, Obama, immigrants, whatever). As we have seen, plausibility hardly matters in making these "arguments." I hope I'm wrong, of course.

mmorano said...

Andrew - I agreed with creepy. The most recent photos of and statements from Kushner particularly so. He looks like something out of a nightmare. Well, I suppose this is a bit of a nightmare, so he fits the part. The degree to which the spinning seems to actually be effective is tough to comprehend. Especially in an age where there is plentiful textual and recorded evidence. I personally think it has something to do with a pervasive resistance or perhaps inability to acknowledge history. Modernity or modern politics seems fixed on the present, and even with the advanced resources at our disposal to review history (long past and more recent), there seems to be something missing; a disconnect exists. Something is also missing from appropriately positing the future. I have not quite thought it all through clearly, but perhaps I will take it up in my MA thesis. I think there is potentially something interesting to be asserted related to temporality, self- identity, and authenticity - especially in connection with emerging technology. So, you'll find me reading more Kierkegaard, Baudrillard, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas...I remain open to additional recommendations, of course.

As an aside, if you go back far enough, you can find the initial sprouts of inauthenticity - for example, Donald's family's last name was at one point in time Drumpf. Or something like it. But, not Trump. Fake last name. Fake everything. Do patterns of inauthentic behavior make you a sociopath? It seems troubling living in an ever-growing web of ironies and falsities.

Unknown said...

I'd be interested to hear what predictions you have actually.

For me, Australia and Japan are my homes and are both on the two extremes of how to deal with this crisis. Funnily enough Japan is the one pretending it's all just dandy lol!


Andrew Lionel Blais said...

I don't have a prediction, but I do see this as an experiment to determine the limits of the power of ideology, spin, marketing, et cetera, if any, that is. It could be that the web of social meanings is boundlessly plastic, that is, capable of absorbing anything that one might think is completely and utterly factual. Not that it is interpretation all the way down, but as a matter of practice, it is as if it is interpretation all the way down. But, it is also an experiment to see what happens when spin wins. To paraphrase Kant, something that always piques ears in these parts, lying is bad because it requires the denunciation of social institutions that are necessary for lying. Similarly, a spinning that could embrace the denial of Covid19 requires the denunciation of similar social institutions. What will be the consequences of this?