autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

The dangers of our dichotomies

The false dichotomy in a single image

I have come to an awareness that, perhaps for the first time in our country’s history, the United States has fallen to being aggressively indisposed toward its constituency.

Be it by the bludgeoning of over-informing, the divisiveness of misinforming, or the profound distraction of both in the national and community commons, a somewhat corporatist, political, and  theocratic “community of common interests” now exists. 

This “community of common interests” has an understanding of itself as an agent in the world; it understands and makes use of information warfare to acquire and hold hostage the intellectual promise, potential, and prowess of “we, the people”. 

That sounds hyperbolic, doesn’t it?

But consider that I say we are hostage because, within the greater ecology of our nation, this “community of common interests” by the sheer breadth and depth of its presence and solidarity, the ability of the constituency it controls, the effected and affected, ARE captive in both servitude and of potential to the whims and mercies of these conglomerate, often compassion-less, agencies and entities. 

Why else does anyone “put up with” being treated poorly? Being paid less than their true value? Being abused and summarily discarded if they attempt to right matters or seek recompense from their abuser(s)? Being unable to access or afford the tools to gain entrance to this “community of common interests”? 

More pointedly, why is access to this “community of common interests” so exclusive? So withdrawn? So purely obsessed with itself?

A careful review demonstrates that, over decades, the combined authority, command, control, and power of this “community of common interests” has shaped our critical thinking and culture; and it seems that very, very little of that shaping has been in the public interest or can be traced in any way TO it.

The “best” arguments are always economic, of course, but even the most conservative outlets of discourse on economics now knows we’re in trouble, even if they’ll debate for decades more, even they admit labor/resource issues are systemic and worsening. 

Additionally, care has obviously been taken to assure all avenues of discourse are flooded by deconstruction of their most precious and important concepts; chief among which is that dissent must be courted, valued, and understood in order for a healthy public discourse to hope to sustain itself. 

I assert to you that what once was our national, common ground – the land of our constituency – has become, sometimes literally, a battlefield; parley and truce long ago fell to this total war wherein any given constituency is the first, primary “competitor” of the “community of common interests”

That is to say, when the desires of  the “community of common interests” encounter the needs of any given constituency, they are interpreted as being competitive, and thus, naturally, corrosive.

In this reality, shaped not by conspiracy but by a combination of generalized constituent complacency (in no small part due to exhaustion), and by the common interests of competitive drives and needs of the “community of common interests” to sustain itself, the ability to dissent, whether active or passive, is ALWAYS treated as a threat.

By shutting down opportunities and venues of debate, discourse, and dissent, any given constituency deemed a competitive threat is driven out of the discourse or is delivered with an opposing escalation with which to contend, or worse, layered escalation upon as many areas of dichotomy are are available. Over time, competition is either exhausted, or enticed (entrapped?) to violence, allowing for the now “viable”, “reasonable” use of force. 

Succinctly, a total war on dissent is a total war on discourse as one does not HAVE “discourse” where dissent is prohibited or punished.

Given this, the health and wellbeing of any given constituency is directly determined by the degree to which the validated elements of their perspective are contained in the public record:

  • If their perspective is readily available within the public record,
  • If their dissent is readily available within the public record,
  • If their dissent is validated by the dissenters as being accurately represented within the public record.

Since we all know that “history is written by the victors”, one can hardly say this an ideal that humans are particularly good at realizing. That said, it does not seem to be an unreasonable “ask” for the public record, nor for a self-proclaimed democracy to have as a primary aspiration (not to mention a criterion). 

For my part, I take a specific interest in such things when considering the morass of conflicting and competing information and misinformation that calls itself “news”. 

I think it important to subject “news” to self-verified assessment across channels and brands. I regret that it is now such a “slog” to manage it, and I suspect that is not entirely coincidence, which makes me frustrated and disenchanted with all of the systems of this “community of common interests” that has so quickly inflamed our constituency for it’s own benefit. 

If you are reading this post, you probably understand enough of the world around you to have (at the very least) a vague sense of alarm combined with a healthily moderate degree of skepticism on matters of determining things like, “Is this [information set] accurate?”

But I would ask you to consider the health and well-being of a system that, given its full range of choice over time, has so consistently demonstrated that it prefers an ecology of false dichotomy. 

When two statements, ideas, or positions are presented as the only possible options, though in fact one or more other alternatives exist, this is a false dichotomy—Newsvine

I would also ask you to consider that in an environment that you know is less concerned with your interests as a constituent than their own as a competitive consumer of resources (and where discussion of “managing a brand” means influencing you to consider their interests as your own), how much confidence and trust should you have in their advertising, their marketing, or their interest in your well-being (particularly if/when it competes with their own)?

Culture is created and preserved mainly by communication. In modern societies, communication takes many forms: newspaper and magazine articles, television and radio broadcasts, Internet content, books, films, music, art, and, of course, advertising and marketing communications. – “How Global Brands Compete” from Harvard Business Review

Today, corporate, political, and religious organizations are actively competing not only with one another, but with “we, the people” and candidly, “we, the people” are not as competitive as are they; further, being less competitive is not only a state preferred for any given constituency by the “community of common interests”, but frequently the baseline beyond which any given constituency is punished for asserting themselves against.

Faced with a seeming Everest of global competitive interests that rarely (ever?) look beyond their own needs, what hope is there for any given constituency to sustain parity or pluralism?

I think the answer lies in being as willing to insist upon it for everyone around us as for ourselves. This is, of course, the “hard work” of being democratic, work that we have fallen out of habit of enforcing.

Any given constituency cannot be a competing “community of common interests” without falling into the same, unfruitful and ultimately unsustainable outcomes. 

In this discussion of means, any given constituency must be a “community of common benefit” wherein collaborative effort to a baseline of shared benefit is core. This, of course, sets off the carefully polished “Communism Alert” in many today, but we were a communal and largely collaborative country, even in the midst of profound dissent and even war. There is a difference between the total war competition and a more just war one; I believe, feel, and think we’ve really lost sight of that. 

I also think that it really is up to “we, the people” to enact and embrace collaborative communities of shared benefit rather than competitive communities of shared interest. 

Most of all, I hope this meandering bit of thought set to page may be a means of re-introducing concepts and ideas that we seem to have lost along the way. 

I do not think such things should ever be lost to us; I believe, feel, and think that our foundational humanity depends upon them being remembered and, wherever possible, restored.

I believe that our race, the human race, has a larger obligation as a species than any we may hold to a given ethnicity or culture or even nation. 

I feel that our ultimate fate is bound in one another, so long as our species exists. 

I think we must be strategically and tactically aware of the challenge that our “normal” presents to our greater longevity.

Most of all, I believe, feel, and think that a reconciliation between ourselves AS human beings must occur if we are not to fall and fade just as did so many species before us.