Barbarian at the Gates: A study of paradigm shifts–The Iliad and the Odyssey, Vichy Dems and Bernie Sanders

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    • #241513
      Ohio Barbarian
      • Total Posts: 21,911

      If you’ve ever read The Iliad, you know it’s a tough read; not so much because of the subject matter, but because of how the characters think. The gods are very real and talk to or even possess the humans in the story on a regular basis. Unlike in the movie Troy, where Brad Pitt’s Achilles frees a Trojan princess from Agamemnon’s soldiers for his own reasons, in The Iliad Achilles explains himself to Agamemnon by saying some god told him to do it, and Agamemnon matter of factly accepts his explanation.

      Throughout the book, rival gods use, empower, undermine, and possess humans who are helpless pawns in game the gods play and the humans don’t understand. As for the humans, they just accept that this is how reality works. There’s nothing they can do about it; it’s just the way it is.

      The Odyssey is a completely different ball game. The hero, Odysseus, cleverly outwits gods, monsters, witches and Titans. He overcomes every obstacle some of the gods throw in his way to achieve his goal of returning to Ithaca and his beloved Penelope. And he succeeds brilliantly. Odysseus is a man who thinks for himself, inspires his men, and proves the value of his own humanity.

      What happened here? It was a paradigm shift from a world where people thought they were totally at the mercy of the gods to one where they were learning to understand how the world worked by observation and deduction, a process that ultimately culminated in the great classical philosophers who came up with various theories on why some things changed and others didn’t, and transformed governments from monarchies to oligarchies to democracies in just a few generations. IOW, people went from manipulated beings who did what they were told to independent thinkers, artisans, traders, and explorers.

      The Vichy Democrats arose in the aftermath of the reactionary Age of Reagan. They understood that without access to oodles of corporate money, the Democrats simply couldn’t compete with Republicans in most elections. So they adopted a political paradigm where they had a public position of supporting liberal social issues, and a private one of bowing to wealthy corporations, Wall Street, the MIC, and the FIRE sector in order to get cash for their campaigns. In the process they set up a whole interlocking, revolving door network of consultants, politicians, and corporate board members where it is common for one individual to become all three in just a few years.

      It’s a closed system that shuts nearly everyone else out, a big club of which you aren’t a member, though some people at SV are. Their paradigm worked exactly twice. It got Bill Clinton elected against the elitist Poppy Bush in a recession, and Barack Obama against the proud warmonger John McCain in another one. Their paradigm assumes that the only way to win is to preach moralistic platitudes to the masses, promise more humane government, and then deliver little to nothing to the voters in exchange for that campaign cash that is the lifeblood of the entire system that keeps them healthy, wealthy and members of the ruling elite.

      The only changes allowed are small, incremental, technocratic adjustments to a system they assume is The Only System Possible, The Way It Is, or the Indomitable Global Market to which the rest of us should bow down to as the only possible reality. If we don’t, we’re obviously insane, crazy, dangerous, undesirable, immoral losers who are too stupid to understand how politics and economics work.

      We have Barack Obama to thank for shattering the illusion that the Third Way is the only way. By running on a campaign of hope and change, by inspiring millions of new voters to flock to the polls, and then blatantly and systematically selling out to the ruling elites in exchange for a retirement more opulent than that of the old robber barons, by disillusioning an entire generation of new voters, Obama proved that the Vichy Dem way would never, ever, substantially reform the system into a more just one or improve the standard of living of ordinary Americans.

      To the contrary, he told us to tighten our belts and eat our peas while he let his paymasters who had wrecked the economy and tens of millions of lives skate away scot free with more taxpayer cash than ever in their bank accounts. Then his designated successor, Bill Clinton’s wife of all people, promised more of the same and we didn’t have a choice anyway because her opponent was so morally reprehensible.


      Then along comes this old curmudgeon from Vermont with the crazy hair and waving arms and Brooklyn accent to challenge the Vichy Dem paradigm with his own that both draws from the halcyon days of FDR and the New Deal and the stark necessity of changing the system in order to survive a future of climate change which was directly caused by the same system which rewarded the existing political power structure.

      Instead of government serving the economic elites, government should serve the people. Instead of having elections for show and profit every couple of years and then ignoring the voters, the voters themselves need to be involved in governing on a continuous basis. Instead of trusting the markets to handle whatever Mother Nature throws our way, government needs to plan and mobilize so we can have a rational and effective response. Instead of allowing economic fortune to decide who gets health care and who doesn’t, who gets an education and who doesn’t, who gets invaded and who doesn’t, who lives and who dies, government should guarantee economic rights and halt wars that serve no other purpose than to line the pockets of a wealthy few and to finance political campaigns.

      Aided by new technologies and mass information distribution methods supplied by the supporters of the old paradigm themselves, the message of the new one is spreading at the speed of a click and a touch and a share. The new paradigm shows people that they are not powerless and subject to the whims of distant corporate gods and their political minions. OTOH they can out-organize, outsmart, and even raise more campaign cash than the big money donors.

      That last is definitely one of Bernie’s greatest contributions to this political paradigm shift in which we find ourselves; by daring to shun wealthy donors and rely on We The People, Bernie has shown that it is in fact possible to have success by taking a little money from millions of small donors instead of a lot from a few large ones. Not only that, but those who do donate are far more likely to vote for the candidate they believe in than those who just do what the old media tells them is acceptable.

      In short, Bernie Sanders has a completely different way of thinking about how campaigns should be managed and financed, and how government should work, than the Vichy Dems do. The latter simply don’t understand what Bernie is about because they don’t think that way. For them, what Bernie is proposing is literally impossible. OTOH, Bernie and his growing hordes of supporters understand both paradigms, and like his a whole helluva lot better than the old one. They have nothing to lose by giving it a chance, and nothing to gain by adhering to the old one.

      This is what paradigm shifts look like. Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg are like the characters in The Iliad, beholden to and directed by their wealthy corporate gods, while Bernie is Odysseus, outwitting those gods time after time and inspiring loyalty from his followers because they trust him far more than they do the gods of old. A new world is coming.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #241587
      • Total Posts: 7,550
    • #241620
      • Total Posts: 4,376

      I never cared much for Odysseus, when a god tells you what to do, you should hop to.  However, I do like this Bernie Sanders fellow.

      Corporate America consists of totalitarian entities laser-focused on short-term greed.

      If you just got finessed into calling the medicine that won the 2015 Nobel Prize for its role in treating human disease ‘horse de-wormer’ then you need to sit the next couple of plays out.

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