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Rule of Law? Obsolete. Rule of Narrative? We'll see.

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Code of Hammurabi - Pergamon Museum - Berlin
Code of Hammurabi - Pergamon Museum - Berlin
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Ages are named for their dominant technologies, e.g., Bronze Age, Industrial Age, Atomic Age. Some time during the Obama Presidency communications infrastructure reached critical saturation, and the balance of power shifted profoundly. Welcome to The Attention Age.

This is a paradigm shift. This one happened because of a technological breakthrough as significant as the discovery of electricity. When this kind of change happens, nothing works the same anymore.

Some of the obvious impacts we've seen are:

  • Questions carry equal weight to well-known, long-established facts. Like, the Germ Theory.
  • More people are aware of a pair of senatorial mittens than the unprecedented ethnic slaughter being carried out in West Asia (aka "the Middle East").
  • The rise of a psychopathic attention-addict to the most powerful office in the world.
  • A billion people are thrown into amygdala-panic in seconds. By a "Tweet."
  • The Rule of Law was superseded by rule of "narrative".

It's now effective PR strategy to accuse the other political party of cannibalistic child-trafficking out of a pizza joint run by sentient lizards, while simultaneously literally caging thousands of children and then losing track of them.

When paradigm-level change happens, it's no good accusing the other political party of a coup-attempt, standing in the crime-scene within hours of an actual televised bloody attempted coup by the president hisself. Nobody even remembered that other attempted assault and lynching, in Michigan. The juice had already been squeezed out of that event. The "news cycle" has already moved on now. All over but the elevation of the Winning Narrative.

In the Attention Age, this is what we mean by stupid catch-phrases like "moving forward". As if we had a choice about that. There are now "gyres" in the Pacific Ocean, rotating with new currents driven by greenhouse gases, barnacle-encrusted acres of wasted phrases, like "moving-forward" and "this-moment".

What we're actually expressing with such language is that we're in War Time. In this compressed blackhole gravitywell, Justice has already been delayed and denied at the front of a crime while the back is still being perpetrated, so what's the use? There's no time to deal with ancient history now: "now" is ancient history. It's barbarians-at-the-gates, and everyman for theirself.

But this too shall pass. We're getting a grip.

Action is no longer louder than words, we realize that now, after the collapse of everything Roosevelt was made to set up for us. He wasn't planning to sign the New Deal, but the moguls got caught in an attempted coup. I think it was Gen. Smedley Butler who blew the whistle on Prescott Bush and his cronies. There was a park named for him in my home town. Probably built by the CCC or WPA or some other New Deal operation. There was a triumphal arch straddling Route 1. It was torn down to widen that old road. But nobody there knew about that other thing.

But the bois may be back in town now. Maybe we're about to be treated to a Star-Studded Spectacular, just as soon as negotiations are wrapped up. We haven't even formed a Commission yet. You remember those. The one that will write the Narrative, so we can all Move Forward.

Maybe the moldy Old Deal gets some new green vinyl siding. Something like, ok, you can give back Bears Ears and the North Slope, but your daughters are gonna be emancipated and sent Over There and put in Harm's Way next to your sons. MLK would be so proud. 45 grabbed us by the SCOTUS, so maybe Reproductive Freedom gives too much autonomy to Labor (pun intended), and you can have boner-pills, but not abortion-pills, gotta boost the ranks of the desperate-for-work, enough to keep that pesky minimum wage to a measly fifteen dollars, gotta flatten that curve. (More on this in the important book by Jenny Brown, "Birth Strike".)

Maybe we can deal with the pandemic at the federal level, but the bare-faced lie that masks are wimpy has 72, no, 75 million chanting true believers (still counting those ballots?). You can mandate seatbelts and airbags and motorcycle helmets but not antiviral masks. Men and Women in Uniform have to mop up those easy riders, but dead covid victims get wheeled away by undocumented people. License drivers but not gun-owners, so scofflaws can drive. It's a Free Country! And we're rethinking that motorcycle thing. At least make those cool Kaiser Wilhelm spike-helmets qualify as "helmets".

Maybe voting is not a Right after all, much less a Responsibility, of Citizenship. Maybe it'll remain a Privilege of the privileged.

But it's not Democracy that's at stake now anyway.

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I'm an old Pogo fan. For some unknown reason I persist in outrage at Feudalism, as if human beings can do much better than this. Our old ways of life are obsolete and are killing us. Will the human race wake up in time? Stay (more...)

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