What’s the Connection?

The Common House of Europe

Casualty has always been a mystery – but a mystery most people are determined to have. They had to have it for their world to make sense – whether it existed or not.

In any machine, it is possible to say this part causes this to happen to that part – even though they were all happening at the same time. The machine does not need this explanation – but the human mind does.

This is why people have embraced the Computer with such a passion – the algorithms that make it work, seem to have a built-in causality – first you do this, then you do that. It’s so simple it’s idiotic. Computer software does have its own kind of causality, however – where blocks of code call other blocks of code – but here again, we are talking about a different kind of causality – which is a form of communication – where different things talk to one another.

This has been formalized into a visual language called UML – the Uniform Modeling Language. Containing lots of rectangles, with lines between them, showing how they are related. I think this is great – but it has never caught on too well.

Any novel does the same thing – with complicated interactions between the characters in the novel. I am listening now to The Idiot by Dostoevsky. I am fascinated, but few Americans are interested in Literature.

This article in the NY Review speaks of yet another kind of causality – referring, near the beginning – to the great anonymous forces of history. Somehow, the nations of Europe have a unity of their own. This is painfully obvious in the case of Germany – East Germany and West Germany. It is painful because impoverished East Germans have been flooding into prosperous West Germany. In fact, their Prime Minister is from the East – and is very popular.

Gorbachev is mentioned – and favorably so. This will baffle Americans – who have little awareness of anything outside of their borders. He wanted Europe to include the USSR – which was about to end – forever.

I have even done this philosophizing myself – making a connection between the coming of Television, in the Fifties – and the loss of Manufacturing in the Midwest, that I came from. The connection here has puzzled me – but I was sure there was one.

The people back home in the Midwest, however – can see none at all. A connection has to hit them over the head, before they can see it. And perhaps not even then.

I will end with an extended quote from the article:

As we bury Bolshevism—because if it were to be reborn it would most likely be a repressive regime without ideological pretension—we should remember that Bolshevism was the Leninist-Russian distortion of Marxian socialism. But the unintended service that democratic socialism in Europe rendered to capitalism is incalculable: its organization and discipline, whether in France or Germany, forced unbridled capitalism to reform itself, to attempt to move from a variety of capitalism that even today Jacques Delors calls “savage capitalism” to a capitalism with decent regard for humane values. In the years between the two world wars Bolshevism split the working classes, thereby ensuring the survival of a traumatized but transformed capitalism that during the last forty years has shown remarkable resiliency and dynamism.

And here, if I may quote one more book Prisoners of Hope: Lyndon B. Johnson, the Great Society, and the Limits of Liberalism. This was something LBJ was very aware of – even if his fellow-Americans were not.


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