Bullying in service to powerful institutions (reply to Nigel)
Jun 01, 2005 06:20 AM
Thanks for following up on my remarks. Nothing you say strikes me as
incorrect, exactly, but it presents only one side of the equation,
and the weaker side at that (at least with reference to the
situations in US political discourse and Theosophical historical
discourse.) You wrote:
> This age of postmodern relativity has brought more of a sense
> of "freedom" to think and speak for ourselves.
Actually, I think not. Certainly the mainstream press in the USA has
muzzled itself in service to the powers that be. Impeachment would
have been mentioned thousands of times by now had a Democrat done the
things done by the current administration. Much of the press has
been bullied into subservience and silence. Bombast and abuse is the
stock in trade of such administration supporters as Bill O'Reilly and
Sean Hannity (you're lucky if you don't know who these guys are) and
any liberal guest on their shows is subjected to relentless
hostility. Meanwhile, they feature honored guests like Ann Coulter,
famous for wishing that Timothy McVeigh had destroyed the New York
Times building as well as the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
Every word out of her mouth is hatemongering drivel, and because she
is a fervent Bush supporter she is treated as a serious pundit. The
TV networks are not much better; nor are the newsmagazines. The true
scandal of "Rathergate" and the Newsweek Guantanamo stories are that
undeniable facts (Bush's evasion of military service and repeated
abuse of the Koran as a method of torture in US prisons) were
completely submerged by story lines about mistakes in details made by
the news sources. Moreover, the administration might well have
planted these dubious documents/sources in order to discredit the
news media so that the population is totally "postmodern" in its
perception of facts. At least, the administration was given an
opportunity to correct these stories in advance (itself an abuse of
press freedom) and failed to do so, yet mounted a ferocious campaign
of denunciation once the stories came out. We are living in an age
of propaganda and disinformation. That is also true in Theosophical
> Subsequently perhaps, this has brought with it its commensurate
> bedfellows, fear and insecurity, through loss of previously "safe"
> boundaries from accepted "truths."
I would suggest that the 9/11 attack has had a major share in
changing the tone of discourse in this country, so questioning the
administration becomes "supporting the terrorists." This does seem
to be fading, but another such attack would bring the effect back in
> On the one hand, this has lead the mind to modalities of
resistance, defensiveness, protectionism and feelings of persecution.
"Why do they hate us?" was a mantra after 9/11.
> Alternately, this has awakened the mind to untruths, deceptions and
> manipulations, and a recognition of the dominance and control of
> those less well informed.
Yes, and there is an edge of exasperation and desperation in what
alternative press we have, mostly in the blogosphere. But the real
hatemongering is overwhelmingly from advocates and supporters of the
administration, e.g. Michael Savage whose relentless attacks
on "liberals" include wishing death on gays and lesbians. (Telling a
caller to his TV show to "get AIDS and die" got him fired, but he
continues to reign on talk radio.)
> This has generated a sense of outrage and intolerance at this
breach of "trust."
> This has lead to a greater demand for truth in reporting ie; more
> rigorous and accurate investigation and inferences.
> And maybe the general populace, who finally has a voice which can be
> heard, uses it a little indiscriminately at times.
The general population has less voice in this country than it ever
has had. Even with opinion polling showing Bush's approval ratings
sinking below his disapproval, the media continue their drumbeat of
calling him a "popular president."
> Perhaps this combative style is the interim price we must pay for
> clearing and cleansing?
No, the combative style is the method the powerful use to bully the
powerless. That is true in the Theosophical world as well as the
American political scene. In your admiration for Daniel's relentless
attacks on powerless individuals like me, please stop to ask yourself
whom he *never* attacks and *always* defends and supports. The
answer: the most powerful organizational interests in the
Theosophical world. Is that just happenstance?
> If so, so be it. Rather this than returning to the days of blind
> acceptance, blind faith and blind following.
Focusing now on the Theosophical milieu, what I experienced in the
80s and 90s was never blind acceptance, faith or following. It was
an atmosphere of openminded investigation of a complicated and mixed
legacy. An atmosphere of respect for alternative approaches to
Theosophy. That came to an end because it ultimately was perceived
as a threat to powerful individuals and institutions.
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