Archive for the ‘ History ’ Category

Critical Thinking

This is something most Americans no longer want to do.

They can think about the small problems of everyday life – but not the big problems that are doing them in.

They will react indignantly to anyone’s suggestion that their problem-solving powers are not up to the job. That they are in big trouble, because they cannot see what is going on. When this is clearly the case.

Their critical reasoning powers have moved into their unconscious minds – where they can act without being observed.

This discovery of the Unconscious was one of the major discoveries of our time – but this knowledge has been strongly resisted. I can remember my Mother saying, as strongly as she could “I am not an animal!” When she was the mother of four children, formed in the usual manner – by her unconscious body.

If I had access to her unconscious mind, I would have seen some powerful, conflicting forces – that she did not want to know about. The struggle of her entire race was going on there. A struggle reduced to its simplest elements – the life-and-death struggle between Good and Evil. In which I played a minor role.

This universal struggle has been played out in the last several centuries, all over the world – with puzzling results. The most important of which – has been our determination to not see this struggle at all! But to participate in it unconsciously.

In our own lives, we enact the struggle between Success and Failure. And it is not clear which one is going to win.

Americans are Nice

And this self-knowledge is bred into their bones. They can get away with anything, because they know they are right – no matter what they do – no matter how crazy they are.

And this is why they have failed so disastrously – without knowing it in the least. They are not allowed to know what they really are. They are nice, and that is all they need to know.

There was another adjective that my parents liked to use – they were respectable.

Why they had to be respectable was clear enough – underneath their clever facade, they were not respectable at all – but were quite the opposite. This is why they were so religious – and their church affiliation made them even more respectable.

This worked in the boom economy right after WWII – they could proudly show off their possessions – their new houses and new cars. These proved they were good people.

When the economy faded, in the Sixties – they shifted their attention elsewhere. They went from the Great Society to Vietnam.

And gradually they went from being respectable to being nice – a state harder to define. But one they could observe easily on their Televisions.

The second half of the last Century was influenced by TV, and then the Computer. These produced some very complicated changes, that are still going on. But one overall effect was clear – Americans (and Europeans, and nearly everyone else) became self-destructive.

They were living in another reality – much better than the real one! Nero fiddled while Rome burned – and we are obsessed by our Phones, while our world burns.

Perhaps some day historians will describe the complicated transitions in the 17th through 21st Centuries. A huge undertaking that we cannot begin now.

Success Was Disgusting

I use the past tense here, because this happened in the second half of the 19th Century. in the Industrial North – Northern Europe and North America. I will concentrate on America.

America had gone from being an Enlightenment project – to the most Industrialized nation in the world. A huge change, and one we were not entirely comfortable with. The Enlightenment ideals were noble, but the Industrial ideals were crass “Get more power, make more money, grab more land!”

One hundred years later – America still struggles with this problem. How to be wealthy, and how to be good – at the same time.  We were unable to solve this problem – and in disgust, turned against ourselves – and started destroying ourselves. A powerful process that is still going on.

We had gone from constructing a nation – to destructing it. While being completely unaware of this.

I was aware of this (vaguely) when I was in High School, in the Fifties. Our teachers did not like us – and our parents agreed with them “Punish the little rascals!” This was also the attitude at work (in the Office) where people had become superhuman (they thought) – and hated any humans in their midst.

One result of this, was the reaction against Science – a big part of the Enlightenment project. Science was about seeing things as they were – and they didn’t want to see that!

Is the situation impossible? No, because it is so complex, and unstable. The situation now is bad – no question about that. But the human race is not going to disappear – and may eventually solve their problems.

It may dawn on them that they have to change fundamentally – much as they hate to. They might like being good. Stranger things have happened.

1954 Guatemalan coup d’état


This article was featured on the front page of Wikipedia, when I went there looking for something else.

This article would have a shocker when it happened, back in the Fifties – but this information was successfully covered up then. And Americans went on believing in their Righteousness. As far as they were concerned – none of this ever happened.

Note the side bar on the right – Covert United States Involvement in Regime Change.

This would eventually kill millions of people closer to home – in San Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

The Reconstruction of the South

I learned about this from listening to The History of the United States

The South lost the Civil War, that made Slavery illegal. But it retained most of the same social dominance, of Whites over Blacks – that existed before the War. And it resisted these reforms violently – in large sections of the South, no one dared vote as a Republican – the party determined to reform the South.

It wouldn’t be until LBJ (a Democrat) and his Civil Rights reforms (a century later) – that these reforms would finally take place.

The Independent Existence of the Mind

We have a body like any other animal – but we also have a mind, that is something different. How to manage this difference is one of the problems of our human existence.

You may be saying “I don’t want to think about it!” Which is a typical reaction for our time. If that is your policy, you will not be interested in what follows.

I can remember the Sixties, when this was a hot issue – although it was not defined this way. Instead, people wanted to know how to make themselves better – it was called Personal Growth. And they could not imagine anything as abstract as – carefully defining what they were. That was too mental – and they were interested in emotional issues.

If they had redefined their problems, and thought about them more abstractly – perhaps the Sixties would have continued – instead of gradually fading away.

How strange, to be not interested in the mental problems that had fascinated people for thousands of years. People had separated themselves from their minds – with devastating consequences!

Perhaps they simply became afraid – they were trying to make fundamental changes to their world – and the forces in charge of their world, were dead-set against that.

From Mass and Energy to Information

Newton revolutionized our thinking by reducing everything to Mass and Energy – and a few mathematical formulas. Everyone was amazed – even the poet Wordsworth, as romantic a poet as ever there was. He knew Newton was talking about the real stuff.

But Physics moved on, into Quantum Mechanics. I will not dwell on this, because I cannot understand it – no one can, really. But fortunately for me – the Computer came to my rescue.

This I could understand. All anyone had to understand, was that this strange device could follow the orders people gave it – if you spoke to in a way that it could understand. If you gave it long strings of ones and zeros (arranged in exactly the right way) – it would reply with different strings of ones and zeros – also arranged in the exactly the right way.

That was all it could do – and is still all it can do. But people (being the clever beings that we are) have made it very useful. We are smart (some of the time) but it is stupid all of the time.

This makes no sense to you, but it did to Ada Lovelace, whose amazing history you can read here.

Eventually, computer languages were developed that people could write and read – and could be compiled into the digital input the Computer could use. It would respond in the same way – but its responses could be changed into a variety of forms – and eventually, human words that could be formed into sentences.

Now people can talk to their computers – and they can talk back! People do not realize the long, long process required to do this. They think it understands human language – when it does not at all. It is going through some long calculations, using its Silicon hardware. That is not the least bit like the processing the brain does, with its biological hardware.

They are the same in one way only – information was being processed – but in two different ways.

The natural way any child can learn – but only some people can do it the artificial way.