Facebook Knows What It’s Doing

Facebook knows it’s in the business of delivering eyeballs to big business marketers.

It also knows — and does not care — that, in doing this, it is fueling the American right’s continuing flight from rationality.

The WSJ reporters go on to explain that the FB brass know about this and choose to ignore it.

What was it that Upton Sinclair said about incomes and their effects on human minds?

Sports and Racism

For all the talk about “culture,” it’s still pretty rare that the stuff actually gets studied with any care. In this vein, the brouhaha about racist football fans in England revealing themselves seems like a bit of a microcosm.

The team manager says “It’s just not what we stand for.”

Well, what all do you stand for, sir? It’s not sufficient to pick and choose. You have to own up to the whole package.

As Chomsky always says, for all the positive aspects of sports, it remains true that part of the effect of being a sports fan is strong irrational attachment. From a power-elite perspective, there’s more than a little beauty in having huge swaths of your underlying population give themselves over to that.

As for race, one aspect of the more recent formulations of racism is the hypothesis that those whom we call “black” are mentally and morally inferior yet athletically superior. Hence, one major irony of the cessation of white-supremacist segregation in sports is that the subsequent diversity burnishes this neo-classical racist assertion.

And, for once, this English thing might provide a small bit of consolation for those of us laboring under the ultra-capitalism of the American Way of Life. At least here, our sports loyalties are mostly tied to somewhat harmless collectivities — mostly schools, colleges, and the businesses known as “teams” or “franchises.” For all the importance of public enterprise, sports + nations is not better than this.

The Reagan Catastrophe: More Evidence

trickle down cartoon

The Reagan Revolution (h/t Thatcher and Huntington) was a set of assertions about how to make life better for people. Despite possible cracks in the ice, TPTB in the United States have not yet come close to renouncing this still-regnant framework.

Meanwhile, the evidence is absolutely mountainous that the Reagan Revolution has been one of human history’s most catastrophic failures. All of its core claims about the benefits of allowing capitalists to return to their pre-WWII level of comfort and command have proven to be utterly wrong.

The most recent piece of evidence showing this trend pertains to media ecology. Here is what the Reuters Institute discovered in its latest survey of trust in news media in 92 countries:

Trust in the news has grown, on average, by six percentage points in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic with 44% of our total sample saying they trust most news most of the time. This reverses, to some extent, recent falls in average trust bringing levels back to those of 2018. Finland remains the country with the highest levels of overall trust (65%), and the USA now has the lowest levels (29%) in our survey.

This is major evidence.

Of course, given the problem it expresses, it will not be treated as such here in the market-totalitarian United States.

Instead, our pundits will make up silly explanations, to the tiny extent they mention it. Like, for example, this:

One explanation, though not necessarily the only one, is the extreme political polarization in the U.S. This study, like many others, found extremely high levels of distrust — 75% of those who identify as being on the right thought coverage of their views is unfair.

Yes, not necessarily.

Would we have the burgeoning crisis of an increasingly anti-rationalist “conservatism” if we hadn’t so completely surrendered our media to the lords of commerce? The thought never occurs, of course.

Neither does appreciation of the basic fact that the evidence shows that letting “markets” dictate media form and content is proving to be a complete and total disaster.