Sustainable Humanity or Enlightenment by soundbyte
For after all, didn't' John Lennon admit as much when he so memorably sang, "you say you want a revolution…. It is a mark of the silliness of these claims that they even subjected to ridicule by Rush Limbaugh on his August 20, radio show. Even he had to point out that the Beatles were on the side of social change, not opposed to it. Limbaugh, to be sure, ignored the other most blatant absurdity in Estulin's scheme, which was attributing to the Frankfurt School a position precisely opposite to what its members had always taken.
That is, when they discussed the "culture industry" it was with the explicit criticism, ironically echoed here by Castro, that it functioned to reconcile people to their misery and dull the pain of their suffering. Whether or not the Frankfurt School's argument is fully plausible is not the issue here, but rather the pathetic miscomprehension of Estulin and the credulity of Castro in seeing them as agents of the Bilderberg project to make the world safe for capitalist elites.
The even weirder fantasy about their assigning Lippmann the job of reconciling theory and practice is so outlandish that it is impossible even to guess how it might have been concocted. I have no stake in exonerating or blaming the Bilderberg gang for ruining the world. Until this episode, I had, in fact, never heard of them.
Like other candidates for the role of chief conspiratorial clique—the Masons, the Illuminati, the Trilateral Commission, the denizens of Bohemian Grove, take your pick—they can surely take care of themselves.
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Anyone, moreover, who believes, to take one of Estulin's sillier claims, that Watergate was a frame-up devised by Bilderberg kingpin Kissinger to get rid of Nixon because he was failing to carry out their orders is not going to convince many sober-minded observers. What concerns me here instead is the transformation of "the Frankfurt School" into a kind of vulgar meme, a charged unit of cultural meaning that reduces all the complexities of its intellectual history into a sound-bite sized package available to be plugged into a paranoid narrative able to sucker no less a figure than Fidel Castro.
Although the process was foreshadowed in the 's when Herbert Marcuse became the media's favorite "guru" of the New Left and was often portrayed in simple-minded terms, it wasn't really until a decade or so ago that the School as a whole entered the netherworld of garbled memedom, and began circulating in a wide variety of narratives, such as that promoted by Estulin and Castro. Most of these, to be sure, came from a very different political direction. Patrick Buchanan's best-selling screed against the nefarious impact of immigration, The Death of the West, was one major source, stigmatizing as it did the Frankfurt School for promoting "cultural Marxism" a recycling of the old Weimar conservative charge of "cultural Bolshevism" aimed at aesthetic modernists.
But the opening salvo had, in fact, been fired a decade earlier in a lengthy essay by one Michael Minnicino called "New Dark Age: Frankfurt School and 'Political Correctness'," published in in the obscure journal Fidelio. Larouche and his followers have, to be sure, always remained on the fringe of the fringe, too confused in their ideology to be taken seriously by either radical left or right, with little, if any significant impact on the real world.
But the germ sown by Minnicino was ultimately to bear remarkable poisonous fruit. The harvester was the Free Congress Foundation, a paleo-conservative Washington think tank founded by Paul Weyrich, who was also in on the creation of the Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority movement. Much of the financial support came from his collaborator Joseph Coors, who knew how to turn all that pure Rocky Mountain water into a cash flow for the radical right. The FCF sponsored a satellite television network called National Empowerment Television, which churned out slickly produced shows promulgating its various opinions.
Weyrich himself appeared only at the end during a question-and-answer session with viewers who called in. In addition to Lind, a number of the usual suspects—the right-wing pundits Roger Kimball and David Horowitz, and the former football star and homophobic religious preacher Reggie White—comment on the School's history.
There is as well one anomalous figure, the author of the first history of the Frankfurt School, The Dialectical Imagination. The book was itself displayed at the end of the show, and recommended to anyone interested in the full story, albeit with the cautionary reminder that its author was himself a dangerous apologist for the School's philosophy. Later Lind would crow in a column in The American Conservative, "The video is especially valuable because we interviewed the principal American expert on the Frankfurt School, Martin Jay, who was then the chairman of the History Department at Berkeley and obviously no conservative.
He spills the beans. When I was approached for the interview, I was not informed of the political agenda of the broadcasters, who seemed very professional and courteous. Having done a number of similar shows in the past on one or another aspect of the history of the Frankfurt School, I naively assumed the end results would reflect my opinions with some fidelity, at least within the constraints of the edited final product. But what happened instead was that all my critical remarks about the hypocrisy of the right-wing campaign against political correctness were lost and what remained were simple factual statements confirming the Marxist origins of the School, which had never been a secret to anyone.
Interweaving my edited testimony into the larger narrative may have given it an unearned legitimacy, which I now, of course, regret, but it's likely the effect would have been pretty much the same without my participation as "useful idiot. These in turn led to a welter of new videos now available on You Tube, which feature an odd cast of pseudo-experts regurgitating exactly the same line.
The message is numbingly simplistic: all the ills of modern American culture, from feminism, affirmative action, sexual liberation and gay rights to the decay of traditional education and even environmentalism are ultimately attributable to the insidious influence of the members of the Institute for Social Research who came to America in the 's.
Nor do most of the commentators attribute responsibility to the Communist International, although occasionally, as in the case of Cry Havoc! Although there is scarcely any direct reference to the ethnic origins of the School's members, subtle hints allow the listener to draw his own conclusions about the provenance of foreigners who tried to combine Marx and Freud, those giants of critical Jewish intelligence. At one point, William Lind asserts that "once in America they shifted the focus of their work from destroying German society to attacking the society and culture of its new place of refuge,"  as if the very people who had to flee the Nazis had been responsible for what they were fleeing!
A number of years later a fringe neo-Nazi group called "Stormfront" could boldly express what had hitherto only been insinuated, and in so doing really spill some foul-tasting beans: Talking about the Frankfurt School is ideal for not naming the Jews as a group which often leads to a panicky rejection, a stubborn refusal to listening anymore and even a "shut up" but naming the Jew by proper names.
People will make their generalizations by themselves - in the privacy of their own minds. At least it worked like that with me.
It was my lightbulb moment, when confusing pieces of an alarming puzzle suddenly grouped to a visible picture. Learn by heart the most important proper names of the Frankfurt Schoolers - they are except for a handful of minor members and female "groupies" ALL Jews. One can even quite innocently mention that the Frankfurt Schoolers had to leave Germany in because "they were to a man, Jewish," as William S.
Lind does. Can we free ourselves? Are conflicting value systems hardened beyond flexible growth? What have we really learned about the world over the last 15 years? We still seem to lack systemic understanding about the problems of the world and how to tackle them. We are confused, individually and collectively. Individuals with strong personal conviction in their understanding of the way that the world works are frustrated that others cannot simply see things their way.
We can see this as an interpretation of the combined effects of: the growing irrelevance of traditional values and continuing failure to evolve new value systems; insufficient understanding of Continuous Critical Problems; the growing use of distorted information to influence and manipulate people; and the fast obsolescing of political structures and processes.
These CCPs result in a confused population, with no way to fathom drastic social change. Considered together this might be seen as a prescription for fundamentalism or fascist takeover. Each individual problem in the global problematique carries a world of facts, figures, meanings, and futures. The full set of problems is not comprehensible in its entirety by any one mind. What the application of SDD does for a class of students — or a committee of policy makers — is to focus attention on issues and ideas that matter by framing those ideas in a consensually constructed systems view and considering the nature of their interactions.
With good data from the past, and equally hopeful participation in the present and the future, we can look for trends which may indicate changes in pressure points for resolving the problems. It is important that such views be provided to the public in a transparent, simple and actionable form.
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Currently, media and government portray an essentially confused and a deliberately? Top down national or global views fail to reflect the understandings, intentions, and true priorities of humanity from our vantage points within our communities. Global economic growth today comes face to face with local sustainability. Powerful special interests continue to pigeon-hole complex issues into separate and easily marginalized boxes.
This happens because communities do not make use of available tools which will allow them to form sophisticated consensus statements about complex situations. Based on experiences in communities, classrooms, and online classes, Structured Dialogic Design is emerging as an important tool for discovering community consensus. It is perhaps not a great surprise that groups who reflect on our global state of affairs agree the 49 CCPs identified at the founding of the Club of Rome all still persist today.
It has been said that even great persistent evils, over a sufficient passage of time, seem less evil and more like a part of the fabric of life.
It is not enough that we identify deeply influential problems impacting the global problematique — we must find the strength and courage to attack them. The power of tools such as SDD is that they can focus our efforts for transformative change.
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To follow up on their identifying the root causes of the global problematique, the students suggested actions that would impact the problematique's deep drivers. For example, new courses could be established in relevant planning and policy making programs. Online tools like SDD could guide students through a reflective analysis and position them to focus on options for attacking specific deep drivers.
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At a university level, interdisciplinary learning is often a mixture of ideas that falls short of a synthesis of a new view and a new approach. Students, educators, and community stakeholders might be invited to investigate how their views on the global problematique will lead to actions in local communities, which might begin to change the culture of the world. The Democracy and Sustainability PoAd course as offered at Flinders University has been a beginning and it falls to us to decide if we will find a way to extend its lessons into action. Many universities are currently providing online and blended learning opportunities for students at multiple levels of academic training.
Such systems typically integrate registration with course work and student records; however, the choice of any one system and its attendant management policies can unintentionally erect access barriers for experimental courses which pool students from different university systems.
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To maximize accessibility and replication of this experimental course, a decision was made to use components of a communication platform that are publically available to all without cost. An alternative, of course, would be a philanthropic offering by a global information company to host academic courses for global audiences when the subject matter of those courses meet both social and academic standards.
The significant liability in the ad hoc platform we have used in this study is that components themselves will be unfamiliar to many first time students.
Individual and collective accommodations with the use of the communication platform will be required by new teachers as well as new students, and this can delay diffusion of the learning experience to many audiences. Course participants were engaged using individual email accounts, some of which may be supported through their home universities.
Email was used to guide students to registration processes, to present class schedules, and to distribute instructions for accessing other components of the learning platform.
None of our course participants reported difficulty with their email communications; however, high volume use of email alone as a means of exchanging and contributing to rapidly updated information is impractical in even modest size classes. Users need to have personal computers that include microphones and speakers and need to have administrative control over the computers that they are using so that they can download and install free SKYPE software.
We have used this resource for groups of up to 16 participants. At the start of the course, email instructions for acquiring a Skype account were presented to students, and faculty Skype account names were shared. Students and faculty established individual calls amongst themselves in anticipation of an initial conference call.
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The initial conference call convened the class to elicit collective reflection of the course design, review of the syllabus, and questions related to assignments. This call also allowed class participants to discuss other components of the online learning platform. Easy voice contact adds an important mechanism for working with students who may be participating from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.