Social Identity

Should We Be the Beatles or the Stones? Whither Goes the States?


Anyone who has read through the posts from the past six weeks or so or read the lively discussion in the comments knows that Ye Olde Blogge has been struggling with the best course for the United States to pursue:

  • Should we make like the Beatles and split up?
  • Should we be like the Rolling Stones and stay together?

Going The Way Of The Beatles

On the one hand, we could conclude that the best course of action is for the blue states and liberals and the red states and the conservatives to go their separate ways like the Beatles did. It won’t be necessary for Russia to play Yoko Ono or anything because she didn’t really break up the Beatles. They broke up because they couldn’t agree on the direction the band should be going in… kinda like we’re disagreeing now.

MAGA Nation wants to go all authoritarian fascist and put a boot on the necks of Blacks, Browns, Muslims, women, the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants. They’ve concluded that democracy poses too much of a risk to the continuance of white supremacy, so they’d rather go for the sure thing of authoritarian single-party pseudo-democratic minority rule.

Liberals like our quasi-egalitarian quasi-democratic republic and like to think that we’re making it better by providing a stronger social safety net and asking for acceptance of people the way they are. Sure, there is corruption around the edges and politicians still serve the elite better than they serve the rest of us, but we are demonstrably better off with liberal social and economic policies than anything else. So, liberals want to ride the democracy rollercoaster and let it take us where it will. Eventually, democracy, they say will correct its excesses and wrongs.

In this scenario, I guess that would make liberal America Paul McCarthy and once MAGA Nation is peeled off, we have to settle for the musical companionship of Linda McCarthy and the hits of Wings, but it’s better than nothing… I guess? I don’t know. Maybe it isn’t such an appealing analogy. Wings? Band on the Run?

But, who would best represent the course that MAGA Nation would take if they were cut lose? George Harrison? Ringo Starr? Pete Best? Maybe Best is the best analogy. He’s usually described as mean, moody, and magnificent who couldn’t or wouldn’t get along with the others. He didn’t even get a Beatle haircut.

I’m not sure that making like the Beatles makes the most attractive analogy of breaking up the US a la the Soviet Union in 1991.

Going The Way Of The Rolling Stones

We could end up like the Rolling Stones, though. Aging rock and rollers who defy all odds and actuaries and turn out the occasional hit and manage to a tour every now and again and look slightly better than warmed over zombie. The momentum of having a combination of economy, nukes, and universities could keep us going for quite a while before anyone really noticed that we had died some years ago.

Who would you rather be Paul McCartney or Mick Jagger?

Unfortunately, breaking up a country isn’t as easily done as the Soviets made it look, especially when one party’s approach to governance is to privatize its services by wrecking the agencies that deliver them and prevent the government from doing anything, including paying its bills or debt, if the other party is in charge. It’s not like we can just pack a bag and go stay with our cousin and hope they don’t find us before we all move on, right? They’d actually have to want to break up too.

Let’s face it. They won’t want to. First of all because we want to. But, most importantly, because they need us much more than we need them. They need to scapegoat us. An authoritarian government that only serves the interests of the elite needs to have someone or something to blame for the miserable lives of their populace while they rape their breadwinners and milk their children of their last living breath. If there’s no one that they can convince them that they are better than, then they won’t be willing to hand over their wallets. Once we’re gone, they can’t blame us no more.

In fact, even if we leave, they will just keep coming for us, because who else are they going to blame? They’ll just launch terrorist attacks from whatever states they end up with against us and continue lying about all the dastardly deeds we do to stop them from succeeding.

What Should Our Goals Be?

Maybe breaking the band up isn’t the right question, but what is? We’ve tried to co-exist with them. We’ve tried to change our deep culture so that it no longer supports racism, but they manage to keep it all going. They manage to come out from the woodwork and from under the bridge even when the lights are on and it is broad daylight. Now they aren’t even trying to hide their racism, misogyny, fascism, or authoritarianism. They aren’t even pretending to govern.

They are openly smashing the windows of every middle class family that live in their jurisdiction, brazenly grabbing their wealth with both hands, and flaunting it in our faces as they hand it over to the elite. When we complain and pretend like we can legislate against that kind of behavior, the elite wantonly and openly hand cash to a select few senators — cough cough Kyrsten Sinema cough cough — and stymie the vote because filibuster or just nuh-uh.

My conclusion is that there is no clear path ahead. We have no good choices to make. The only thing that is for certain is that we are in the fight for our lives and that some of us won’t be living through it.

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Image Attribution

“Beatles vs Rolling Stones” by laverrue is licensed under CC BY 2.0

18 replies »

    • Howdy Ten!

      Great comparison and intriguing. Psychology says we are all reacting to impressions of sincerity whether it is in person or via video recording. One of the issues with many of the psychology studies is that most rely on video recordings of people doing and saying something — job interview, university lecture, or presentation — and compare the reaction of the participants to the emotions the actors displayed using the same script. Given that there are some in person studies, the lesson here is that the human brain is easily fooled, especially by emotion. It’s why people think their cats love them.

      The problem “Brave New World” has is that it relies on pleasure, and people don’t view it as being sufficiently motivating to cause the effects that Huxley attributed to it. Kinda like Dante’s “Inferno” is a big thick book detailing the sins of the elites while his “Paradisio” is a little thing thing that no one ever reads. Kinda like everyone thinks of Freud’s Id, penis envy, and Oedipus complex, but not so much his pleasure principle, but, if anything Freud said was true, it was his pleasure principle.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Like

      • Well, it was, afterall, his pleasure principle. I stay away from that Freudian stuff, it’s too easy to slip; and as the bastard no one wanted I doubt I can objectively speak to Oedipean complexes. Or maybe I can, just won’t. I like the Dante` analogy, been there, but the ongoing conversation is of others’ perceptions, and the manipulation thereof.

        I was as sick of hearing the Stones by nineteen and sixty-nine as I was Dylan, and The Beatles. There are others, Clapton, the Who, come to mind, but all through the sixties ~ I remember them ~ you couldn’t swing a dead rat without hearing a few bars of one of them, and those three are probably the best example we all have at hand to draw on of a product mass/over produced, mass/over marketed, mass/over-sold to the point fifty years later whither you liked ’em it not you just can’t get ’em out of your head, oh no no no. The industry dates back a little further, into the fifties at least, depending on your reading of history, and the promotion of mediocre white-boys covering negro classics; the forties war propaganda, both-sides did it, though one did it better. It could be argued the principle of the big lie, repetition in not establishing the truth but the narrative, is winning.

        Which brings us back to our pleasure devices. While Burma, and some of the ethnic backwaters of the Chinese hegemon may suffer the jackboot, we do not. We do what we do willingly. Seriously, it’s one o’clock in the morning and I’m typing in the dark. Orwell may well be moot in this context. Let’s consider where Huxley was right: Orwell feared those who would ban books, Huxley feared there would be no reason to ban books because nobody would want to read one; Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information and conceal the truth, Huxley feared the truth would be drown in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture, that what we hate will ruin us; Huxley feared would become a trivial culture, fearing that we will love what will ruin us. The only thing Orwellian about all this is the double-speak. We are unwittingly engaging in it now, confusing Big Brother with herding cats.

        The only one out of that bunch that’s really impressed me down through the years hence is Keith Richards and the reggae stuff he’s done indigenous Australian instruments. Otherwise I still hear them all as just another bar band(s) from Britain.

        Let’s not get distracted …

        I usually respond to secession talk with “what are you gonna’ do when the Social Security dries up?” Doesn’t matter who: Texas, Cascadia, the Maritima States, they can all merrily go their own way, the money will stay in DC. Not just SS. Not to mention that the “red” state’s dependencies on the blue are not dependencies of the blue on red. I usually say “go ahead on’er, we’ll be keeping the welfare.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Ten!

          You gotta watch that Freudian talk for fear of the slip… the Freudian slip. The more I’ve studied the late 19th century and early 20th century social theories ranging from psychology to sociology to anthropology to neurology (okay that one isn’t a social science), the more impressed I am with what they got right. They didn’t get everything right, but they, including Freud, got some of the big pieces right. Kinda like Galileo’s heliocentric model of the solar system versus the earthcentric model. The earthcentric model got some things right. They got big pieces right using introspection and documentation, essentially Galileo’s scientific method instead of using model instruments and careful controlled studies. They were impressive. Just not everything was impressive.

          Similar arguments can be made concerning both Huxley and Orwell. They got some things right. For example, the truthiness that repeating a big lie imparts is from the repetition itself. It makes it more likely that you’ll remember having heard it before somewhere and that sensation of familiarity is enough to make most people believe that it is true. Once the truthiness becomes established, it can be difficult to convince people that it isn’t true, propaganda, big lie, or not. Many of the dietary recommendations from the ’80’s fall into this category.

          If we could parse it further, I think Orwell was describing the base and Huxley the independent white voter. LBJ said it best when he said that a poor white man will give you his wallet if you tell him he’s better than the best Black man. That’s the base. It is built on fear and hate to sharpen the distinction between them as an in-group and the rest of us as an out-group.

          Whereas the independent white voter is distracted by all those dopamine-inducing alternatives to thinking and being concerned that we’ve produced. They can’t be bothered to read, sort out truth from fiction, or be concerned about anything deeper than their navel. Their love of shopping and easy fixes will ruin us. They just can’t be bothered to go out of their way to fix anything that isn’t bothering them right now.

          Like I’ve said, just like the abusive asshole spouse, MAGA ain’t letting us go. They’d rather see the whole thing burned to the ground than let that happen.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Like

  1. Yeah, I was gonna say. A few weeks ago, the question came up in our local newsblog; the majority of (anonymous) voters chose allowing people to pick a side and move there. There were rightwing votes to secede, with comments to the same effect. (No comments from those of us who’d prefer they just leave, even though we believe they take only what’s theirs as they go.) But, the MAGA trolls immediately answered with, “Hell, no! Why should we give up half the country?” I knew then that this will not be decided peacefully.

    I have concerns that this is going in a direction similar to that of Germany in years past. My maternal great-grandparents moved here to escape that. Where would people here go, now?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Ali!

      The irony there, Ali, is they would go back to Germany. Not that the Germans are immune to the temptations of authoritarianism or that they are free of having active authoritarian parties, it’s just that they are doing so much better with managing it all.

      The MAGA folks need the blue states much more than we need them. They need our GDP and to scapegoat us in order to maintain their lifestyles.

      If they do leave, they will be taking much more than what is there with them. That much is guaranteed. The nihilism of the right is just breathtaking.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The last time breaking up the band was tried here, there was a pretty clear line of demarcation for the fracture, the Mason-Dixon Line. Although that Southern block of states is still here, it has spread up the middle of the country. Also, when push came to shove, the party that wanted to stay together had the industrial and financial centers, and the Army, and a moral cause. Now, despite some talk on the Right about secession, neither side wants to, or probably can afford to, actually break up. The authoritarians want the whole pie, not half a pie.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy Bob!

      One assumes that it would be difficult to break us up into two or more separate political entities, but the Soviet Union managed it. I reckon we could too, but the authoritarians want the GDP that the blue states provide because their break-even analysis tells them that governing just the red states won’t keep the elite in the style that they’ve grown accustomed to being kept in. And by governing, I mean looting.

      They need us. We don’t need them. Now that we freed the slaves, we can cut them loose and not worry too much about the moral ramifications.

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • There is a consistent pattern that the blue states pay more in federal taxes than they receive back in federal spending, and the reverse is true of red states.

        There would be a lot of people trying to move in each direction, very large numbers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kinda like the Pakistan-India partition. There is precedence of dividing countries.

          Another precedence is the shifting of a country’s type of government from kingdom to republic to empire to dictatorship. Governments come and go. There is hope in that. Unfortunately, I think lots of people are going to suffer from our switch from republic to authoritarian minority rule.

          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

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