Barry Spector's Blog (198)

Barry’s Blog # 270-273: The Myth of the Good War

Part One

I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars. – Franklin D. Roosevelt, 10/30/1940

In spite of the risk involved, however, in letting the Japanese fire the first shot, we realized that in order to have the full support of the American people it was desirable to make sure that the Japanese were the ones to do this so that there should remain no doubt in…

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Added by Barry Spector on May 4, 2019 at 4:45pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog #32: The Two Great Myths of the 20th Century

 My point, once again, is not that those ancient people told literal stories and we are now smart enough to take them symbolically, but that they told them symbolically and we are now dumb enough to take them literally. ― John Dominic Crossan

Where were you (or your parents) on October 12th, 1944? If you were a teenage girl in the New York City area, you might have been in or, more likely, outside the Paramount Theater, …

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Added by Barry Spector on April 18, 2019 at 6:14pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 268, 269: The Singing Policeman

I’ve been a sports fan my whole life. As an adult I coached little league and played softball and volleyball for 25 years. I used to love to go to baseball games. I don’t anymore.…

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Added by Barry Spector on April 2, 2019 at 11:39am — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 14: The Royal Wedding

In April 2011 a million people gathered in London. News reporters showed that many were apparently weeping with joy. Broadcast in over 180 countries to perhaps 160 million viewers, the wedding was one of the most watched events in TV history. With an additional 70 million live internet streams, the Guinness Book gave it the record of “Most Live Streams for a Single Event”, beating out 2009’s memorial service for Michael Jackson (see below).

Hundreds of…

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Added by Barry Spector on March 6, 2019 at 3:01pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 31: The Race Card

The root of the White man’s hatred is terror, a bottomless and nameless terror, which focuses on this dread figure, an entity which lives only in his mind. – James Baldwin

As I considered the dark anniversary that is approaching, after all the writing I’ve done about race in America, it came to me as a shock of insight. It was so obvious, yet I hadn’t noticed it before. I was talking with a friend about white privilege, when he interrupted me and…

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Added by Barry Spector on February 16, 2019 at 12:01pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 9: The Presidential Dilemma — February 2011

Every American president at least since Harry Truman, and arguably for much longer, has encountered a unique political dilemma created by two conditions. The first is a political reality. Capitalism and imperial expansion have dominated American politics since the beginning of the republic – and, if we are to properly understand the events of November 22nd, 1963 as a military coup – the end of the republic. In this context, all Presidents since Lyndon Johnson have been servants…

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Added by Barry Spector on February 13, 2019 at 5:23pm — No Comments

Barry's Blogs # 262, 263: Breathing Together – On Conspiracism and Gatekeepers, Parts 3 and 4 of 4

Part Three

Who is he, who even were truth on his tongue, his way of speaking it would make truth almost as offensive as falsehood? – Melville

In America part of this heritage is channeled through our unique emphasis on individualism, and, I would add, our narcissism:  What is true for…

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Added by Barry Spector on February 8, 2019 at 2:22pm — No Comments

Barry's Blogs # 260, 261: Breathing Together – On Conspiracism and Gatekeepers, Parts 1 and 2 of 4

Part One:

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. – Yeats

In a previous blog series I offered my perspective on how the gatekeepers of our culture deliberately exclude and demonize much progressive thought by associating it in the reader’s mind with excessively bizarre right-wing claims, thereby…

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Added by Barry Spector on February 8, 2019 at 2:00pm — 11 Comments

Barry’s Blog # 33: The Predator

Psychologist, author (The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief) and ritual leader Francis Weller has evolved a useful psychological concept.

The Predator is a…

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Added by Barry Spector on January 15, 2019 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Barry's Blogs # 258-259: A Vacation In Chaos

Part One

To really understand our stubborn attachment to the myth of American Innocence, we must become familiar with our heritage of the paranoid imagination. It combines eternal vigilance, literalistic religion and constant anxiety with contempt for the erotic and a highly creative style of sadism. Why these last two features? Because what we will not allow ourselves to desire becomes a vector of judgment, fear and hatred of those whom we perceive as being willing…

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Added by Barry Spector on December 29, 2018 at 6:53pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 7: The Outside Agitator

In America’s fevered, paranoid imagination the “internal other” as drug dealer tempts the good citizens and leads them from the clear air of the palace roof down into the basements of sin. But the terrorist, the “external other,” wants to tunnel under the walls and destroy the palace itself. Since long before 9/11/2001, the fear mongers have been in the lucrative business of reducing rational human beings to quivering children, willing to trade their celebrated freedoms for a thin promise of…

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Added by Barry Spector on November 23, 2018 at 3:42pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 16: The Other Is You; Maybe Even More You Than You Are

Lately, perhaps more than at any other time in recent history, Americans find themselves in a full-blown epidemic of “othering.” We are obsessed with cataloging the qualities of those individuals and groups who appear to embody everything that we cannot accept about ourselves.

Pick one or more: Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un,…

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Added by Barry Spector on November 19, 2018 at 12:26pm — No Comments

Barry's Blog # 255-7: The Mythic Foundations of Libertarianism, Parts 4-6

Part Four

Myth is conveyed – and consumed – in narratives and images. So it is important to understand our most fundamental mythic image. The American obsession with individualism has been built up and buttressed by three centuries of stories, repeated in thousands of variations, of the lone, violent hero.

All societies evolved versions of Joseph Campbell’s classic…

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Added by Barry Spector on September 29, 2018 at 11:17am — No Comments

Barry’s Blogs # 252-4: The Mythic Foundations of Libertarianism, Parts 1-3 of 6

Part One

An earlier version of this essay was published in 2013 as the introductory chapter in Uncivil Liberties: Deconstructing Libertarianism, published by the Praxis Peace Institute.

You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself. – Ivan Boesky

This is America. If…

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Added by Barry Spector on September 28, 2018 at 2:50pm — No Comments

Barry's Blog # 244-247: False Equivalencies, Parts 1-4 of 8

Part Five

Whether they are uttered by Trump or by respectable media pundits, false equivalencies typically come into use in order to marginalize progressive alternatives when actual counter-arguments to them would be unconvincing. Here’s the logic:

A is the moderate opinion acceptable to those in power.

B is a progressive alternative, which gatekeepers ignore.

C is a loony, right wing conspiracy theory.

Eventually, public…

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Added by Barry Spector on September 6, 2018 at 3:32pm — No Comments

Barry's Blog # 244-247: False Equivalencies, Parts 1-4 of 8

Part One

In January 2013, Chuck Todd, chief White House correspondent for NBC, addressed a conference of professional vote-counters. His audience included sales reps for voting machine and software companies, as well as several state secretaries of state. Todd ridiculed critics of electronic election machines, saying that they must…

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Added by Barry Spector on September 6, 2018 at 12:04pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 243: Between the Worlds

11:00 A.M. – I leave Sebastopol in a good mood, after a wonderful poetry salon and a great breakfast with close friends. I have plenty of time to attend to today’s projects: get home, check the chickens, clean up, review the poems I might want to recite this evening during my KPFA interview about Rumi’s Caravan (www.rumiscaravan.com), meet another friend for coffee at 3:00, go to the Finnish Hall in Berkeley,…

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Added by Barry Spector on June 27, 2018 at 2:19pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 241-242: The Mythic Sources of White Rage, Parts 6 and 7

The third archetype we need to discuss is that of the Apocalypse. 

It is critical to this enquiry about rage in American life to remember that the myth of American innocence began to take form while Puritanism was still dominating all intellectual discourse and most politics in both Britain and North America. Then, the idea of “America” – and along with it, the…

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Added by Barry Spector on May 19, 2018 at 5:02pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 239-240: The Mythic Sources of White Rage, Parts 4 and 5

Part Four

 

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand…Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different. – F. Scott…

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Added by Barry Spector on May 19, 2018 at 4:56pm — No Comments

Barry’s Blog # 236-238: The Mythic Sources of White Rage, Parts 1,2 and 3 of 7

Part One

 

Who are the angry white males?

Sociologists tell us that the populations from which most reactionary activism arises are those who think they may be overtaken economically by groups below them in social class. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan have always been comprised mainly of lower-middle class men, not the poor. Similarly, most anti-abortion activists have been baby boomers who make less money than their parents.

But economics…

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Added by Barry Spector on May 19, 2018 at 4:35pm — No Comments

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