Archive for August, 2014

Moving Forward.

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

-J.A. Young

 

We live in a world that has tragically left both critical thinking and general literacy behind. If you tell the average person in the United States that you are enjoying a philosopher’s work, or taking a class on political theory, or God forbid pursuing a career in a critical academic field, you will probably be sneered at. Our modern society has taken to glorifying scientific, tangible achievement while at the same time becoming more and more ignorant about the technology that we use. The problem that people see with philosophy and cultural studies is that it they are not useful or pragmatic to the real world. So many people ask: what can thought experiments and literature teach us about the real world? Nothing, most materialists will say. These people focus only our need for biologists, engineers, and economists who understand physical variables and will improve the way that the world works. The humanities are being left in the dust at nearly every major university in the world. In the process, we miss the point that toxic corporate states have become entrenched in America and the UK. If you want to try and change these systems, you have to think outside the box and not just follow the path towards money, social recognition, and political apathy.  We need the humanities more than ever in order to be critical of the political and economic forces that have torn the global economy apart.

 

The real question is: what happens after we reach the point that many developed countries are now at–a time where we begin to see the system crumbling around us.  No major political or economic changes have been made to stop the speculative lending and widespread fraud that caused the world economy to collapse in 2008.  The system remains largely unchanged, as Chris Hedges states, “speculators in the seventeenth century were hanged. Today they receive billions in taxpayer dollars and huge bonuses.” (1) Our Western corporate cultures have spent so much time convincing younger generations that it is their duty to serve the capitalist state, to accrue wealth at the expense of others and live their lives without any prospect of sustainable happiness. This is ironically a problem that is perpetuated and fostered in our most intelligent young people at leading Universities like Yale, Harvard, Stanford etc. In his book Empire of Illusion, Hedges lifts the veil on our false view of education and enlightenment. At our most prized schools, there is a direct pipeline that pushes students from the dogmatic, unquestioning classrooms and into jobs where they do nothing more than perpetuate wealth inequality. He says, “(Our best students) learn to placate and please authority, never to challenge it. By the time they graduate, they are superbly conditioned for the drudgery of moving large sums of money around electronically or negotiating huge corporate contracts.” (1)

 

Meanwhile, prestigious degrees offered in English, Philosophy, Anthropology, History, and Sociology are mocked and disregarded.

In the end, these sort of problems — the kind that are building America and other countries into grotesque, authoritarian capitalist machines – are thinking problems. They are not the kind of issues that are solved by engineers and mathematicians; they need to be illuminated and exposed through reading, understanding and reflecting.

 

Thinking may, in fact, be what we need most. Opening ourselves up to rational inquiry and study of the systems that rule our world is the only way we can move forward with hope for the future. In a world that has become so caught up in the importance of things, money, and status — thinking has greater power than ever.

 

(1) Hedges, Chris. Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. New York: Nation, 2009. Print.

 

More Quick, by Tony Stavely

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

rasta-lion-wallpaper-10

 

More Quick

By:  Tony Stavely

 

More quick than thought is fear.

Alive? A lion? Under trees

thirty meters away. Some way beyond

someone runs a noisy machine beside a house.

 

 

Not a lion, a shadowy statue of one

in stride, mouth open. Two trees

to his left, a lioness with a cub in her mouth

or an outrun creature later to be lunch.

 

Quick or dead or never so,

poppets up from the edge of vision,

an undertone given shape by ever-ready angst.

Breathe into it.

 

 

The State of Affairs at Can the Man

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

ctm discussion

When writing this week’s blog I began to think about all of the horrors taking place in the world while I sat in a coffee shop, listening to indie rock with little flecks of brown coffee splattered on the page.  As the travesties taking place in the Middle East, the pandemic threat of the Ebola virus and ballooning economic inequity swirled together in my head, I felt a destructive crescendo building.  I set my pen down and took a deep breath.  I began to think about the article that my friend and colleague Spencer Santilli published on August 1, 2014 entitled “Have I Reached the Tipping Point?”  In the article Spencer captures the difficulty in simply being cognizant of world events in these tumultuous times.  He lays bare the pain in doing what we do here at Can the Man week in and week out for no pay.  The lack of pay is but a small part of the angst.

 

The greatest problem is the sheer disheartening effect of contemplating the malfeasance of the Man and his impact on society.  There exists a great struggle for millions of human beings who are denied basic rights on a daily basis, often living in squalor with little hope.  A problem that is glaring when one considers the fact that 85 individuals have as much wealth as half the world’s population.  This fact is even more astonishing when one considers that 50% of the Earth’s population lives on less than $2 a day.

 

Being aware of the incredible inequality and writing about humanity’s many foibles creates discomfort, which is compounded by the fact that so much goes unreported.  When I try to explain the difficulty in what we do, with little tangible compensation or a name like Amnesty International, people usually stare at me blankly and the vast majority reply with some version of “you do this shit for free…why don’t you quit?”

 

At this juncture I want to emphasize a point that Spencer made in his article: Billions of people on the planet have it worse than us simply because of where and when they were born.  Moreover, we are not risking our lives on a daily basis like journalists dodging bullets in warzones.  It is also important to point out that these journalists are simply visiting warzones unlike those innocent bystanders who happen to live in the epicenter of conflicts and are killed daily.

 

This situation does not change the fact that, in our own humble way, we are devoting a great deal of time (and sanity) to produce content and share important news from the international media.  Why do we do it?  Why don’t we just pack it in?  Because we share the belief that there is a duty that comes with our direct and indirect benefit from living in a nation that is an indisputable hegemon.  The U.S. has expanded its imperial state while profiting from the blood of innocent people in foreign countries.  In that perspective, our contributions at CTM are quite humble, but if we can use our collective abilities to at least expose the problems, we are accomplishing something.

 

As James Joyce once wrote, “history…is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” History’s harsh lessons weigh heavily on our fragile human psyches and with the internet and various “smart” devices the news is always resting a fingertip away.   This sense of duty to learn, expose, expand, and create information can feel insufficient in the face of digesting harsh reality, reproducing it and pursuing hard truths.  The sacrifice can feel insufficient, or it can feel as if it is too high a price to pay.  Are we doing too much or too little?

 

Sometimes we are so distraught we feel that we can’t continue.  When these moments arise, magically there comes a word of encouragement from one of our readers.  Many encouraging comments come from friends and family, but increasingly there is encouraging feedback from other interested parties.  We collectively were entering a moment of despair (the countenance of this contained in Spencer’s Aug. 1 article), which was answered in an email by a reader named Kimberly.  Her eloquent letter reminded us all of exactly why we continue to dedicate a large portion of our lives to Can the Man without the usual measures of success that generally drive people: money, fame, etc.  It reminded us that we as humans are often searching for purpose and meaning, CTM offers us both in an unusual and at times beautiful way.

 

It is easy to get lost in the sheer mass of information and the messiness of the world.  CTM is a place where we can sort out what we believe is important (and often underreported or omitted in the vast majority of media outlets).  We are able to grow as people and writers while challenging our minds and worldviews.  The brave souls who continue to follow, support, and grow with CTM are engaging in an important process that we call “an evolution of thought.”  We believe that as the discussion evolves and changes so do our minds, ultimately we hope that the evolution will manifest in a better reality for all of us.

 

Loren

Donald Dick

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Remember the fad of right-wing “birthers” clamoring for Barack Obama’s birth certificate to prove he wasn’t some radical Islamic immigrant from Africa?  There were few more vocal in support of that movement than Donald Trump.  But of course, that wasn’t poorly disguised racism to Trump; it was an important matter that the American people needed to solve.  Nobody was picketing the GOP events for Mitt Romney’s birth certificate, and most voters seemed to blatantly ignore Romney’s Mormonism.

 

From his hair, to his unfathomably gorgeous wife, Donald Trump has always been the butt of jokes from comedians and pundits everywhere.  There are even some who believe that Trump’s opinion, as a once bankrupt and born-again wealthy Republican, is valuable enough that he should be considered a candidate for Presidential campaigns.  Great, that’s just what this country needs. An orange comb-over clown campaigning for alligator moats along our southern border and getting to the bottom of the Hardy Boys mystery of Obama’s “true” past.

 

Yet the low can always stoop lower, as Trump did in last week.  Everyone is aware that the horrific Ebola virus is at crisis level in Africa.  Recently, two American doctors who placed themselves in the heart of the epidemic were transferred to the United States after contracting the virus while working in the field.  For any sane and normal person willing to listen to reason, there was absolutely no cause for concern that these two doctors would spread the virus.  Unless their ambulance crashed and someone just happened to rub the infected doctors’ bodily fluids all over them self, the risk for spreading the disease was almost null and void.  However Donald Trump, in all his compassionate wisdom, tweeted that “The US cannot allow EBOLA infected people back.  People that go to far-away places to help out are great — but must suffer the consequences.”  Effectively, Trump contradicts his own opinion when he states that these people are “great” but must also “suffer the consequences” of doing great things.  I’d hate to see what people who do horrible things deserve.

 

Donald Trump is a billionaire jack-wagon, and I have serious doubt in humanity if anyone thinks he would make a decent, upstanding politician.  Donald you should stick to what you know, combing your hair forward and pretending that a woman far too hot for you isn’t “in it for the money.”  Trump, my only wish is that if Ebola does happen to spread to this country, you’re the first to contract it, then we’ll see who should “suffer the consequences.”

 

 

 

-Spencer James

MH17 breakthrough: owner of Volvo truck that transported missile fears his life

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Vice News: Ukrainian Military Recaptures Occupied Cities: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 64)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Uncut Chronicles: Gaza-Israel War

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014