Tuesday, November 27, 2012
  How did we get all Mobiused?

How did we go round this Mobius strip? How did we twist the normal set of human and social connections so weirdly?

Article on the new Canadian head of the Bank of England shows the twist perfectly:
Diana Carney has expressed sympathy for the anti-banking Occupy movement and suggested that global financial institutions are “rotten or inadequate”.

She has described the notion that humans should halt all consumption to save the environment as a “good point” but “very hard given the way our societies function”, and has also lamented the “relentless exhortations to buy and the fact that much of our sense of self is tied up in our possessions”.

In an article this month, Mrs Carney said that income inequality in countries such as Canada and Britain was “the defining issue of our time”. ... Attacking the “visibility and excess” of top earners, she added: “I perceive a fear that the institutions that underpin our country and the global system are either threatened, rotten or inadequate to face down the challenges of the future.”

Mrs Carney also urges readers of her website to live frugally. Describing herself as a “farmer’s daughter” she wears recycled vegan shoes, describes environmentally-friendly ways to tackle head lice and recommends “gardening with cow poo”. “Reducing consumption, or returning it to levels that are sustainable, is critical overall,” she wrote online. “Fortunately, it has been repeatedly shown that having more stuff does not make us happy, so we should be able to make that step”.
Frugality. Live within your means. Global institutions are rotten.

Until very recently, these attitudes were solidly bourgeois, firmly associated with political parties that could be called conservative or right-wing. Jennings Bryan and Calvin Coolidge talked this way and meant it.

Even recycled vegan shoes and gardening with cow poo used to be more closely linked with 'right-wing' attitudes. Think of Henry Ford and W.K. Kellogg.

Now all of these bourgeois and agrarian values are solidly associated with the Left, and with apocalyptic ecowacks. The parties with 'conservative' or 'right' labels are now the advocates of wretched excess, living on credit, and rotten bankers. Tax evasion (i.e. not paying your obligations) is the sole unifying principle of modern Repooflicans.

Before 1970, Diana Carney's attitudes would have seemed quite proper and admirable for a banker's wife. Now they're peculiar and inexplicable.

How did we get here? I'm tempted to start with the 1968 LBJ/Nixon cultural switchover, but I suspect that was more symptom than cause. The twist was already underway at a deeper level before that event.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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