Monday, May 24, 2010

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11 Positively Brainwashed

In Blog 10, I introduced the reader to Barbara Ehrenreich’s essay “Why Forced Positive Thinking Is a Total Crock”.* Perhaps some will have read the essay and are ready to appreciate the fact that “positive self-spinning” may result in right wing politics and demographic extinction.

What does this have to do with NOT-VOTING? Let me continue with Ehrenreich’s trend of thought: [The late billionaire Templeton who founded The Templeton Foundation was also a political ideologue, which ideology waited for its full expression through his son, his successor at the Foundation, who…] “…helped found Let Freedom Ring, which worked to get out the evangelical vote for George Bush in 2004. In 2007 he contributed to Freedom’s Watch, which paid for television commercials supporting the war in Iraq, often conflating Iraq with al Queda.” In short, The Templeton Foundation is for getting out the vote to support the political system in power, and against the NOT-VOTE that would present a political alternative.

The Templeton Foundation is also a major supporter of positive thinking, contributing as much as $2.2 million to the Seligman Positive Psychology Center in the first decade of the 21st century. Ehrenreich herself does not suggest that positive psychology is part of a right wing conspiracy, though positive psychology leans heavily toward outspoken conservatism. However, Ehrenreich points out that “The real conservativism of positive psychology lies in its attachment to the status quo, with all its inequalities and abuses of power. Positive psychologists’ tests of happiness and well-being, for example, rest heavily on measures of personal contentment with things as they are.”
I suggest that pro-vote campaigns of Latvian organizations such as the PBLA and ALA, not to mention the current government of Latvia, are political institutions heavily committed to positivist thinking and the status quo, and, thus, attempt to intimidate the public against protesting in any meaningful way against establishmentarian corruption. Better a corrupt Latvia than a changed Latvia. Better loose 200,000 of the population to emigration than permit the people in the countryside raise Johns Grass that would keep Latvians in the countryside, have them raise children, and be able to educate them. Ehrenreich’s goes on to list five propositions of the so-called “Satisfaction with Life Scale” developed by positive psychologists. If I substitute the world “my life” with “Latvian politics”, I arrive at the following:

• In most ways Latvian politics is close to my ideal.
• The conditions of Latvian politics are excellent.
• I am satisfied with Latvian politics.
• So far I have gotten the things I want out of Latvian politics.
• If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing [in Latvian politics].

Positivist psychology supports Latvian politicians and media in their stock answer to criticism from the Latvian public that it tilts toward the NOT-VOTE. The political and media rant goes: You (the public) are to be blamed for who you elect. You deserve what you get, because your leadership comes from your midst, which is no better than the midst of the leadership currently in office. We know no such thing as leadership by example. There is no better state than being happy with the way things are, that is, with the status quo.
There is no denying that the NOT-VOTE campaign is at odds with the peddlers of happiness and status quo. Indeed, the NOT-VOTE campaign arises out of unhappiness and unease with the way politics is in Latvia, especially its anti-populist leadership and media establishment.

The populists (the boundaries of this group not yet identified except by thousands of individual subjectivities) nevertheless find themselves becoming the Latvian Jews of the 21st century. As one email respondent at wrote: “Eiropā monarhijas ir tas pats kas LV Jāņi—tradīciju nesējas.” (My transl.: In Europe monarchies are the same what the Festival of Johns is about in Latvia—a bearer of traditions.) In effect, the vehicle of Latvian traditions, the Children of Johns (now repressed), by a curious inversion of mimesis by oligarchs and their media supporters, find themselves identified as monarchists, the latter often falsely presented as totalitarians.

I have thought of the monarch in Latvian politics in passing (mostly in the context of sacred kings of the past), but the theme may be worth exploring. It may turn out that government with a monarch at its head is still relevant in our day, because while the state (valsts) may be corrupt, the monarch perhaps is not.

The Latvian populace (read populists) finds itself linked by its liberal democratic leadership and media to the disenfranchised Children of Johns (Jahnis). Who are the Johns? The traveling Johns were once the teachers and healers of the proto-Latvian people. The Festival of Johns was (as late as the middle of the 20th century) the Latvian equivalent of Community Day. The festival coincided with the Summer solstice, and John was thought of as a God or Demi-god. As a God, John is related to the Jewish Yahweh, though this parallel is neglected with determination lest it be investigated. But the parallels becomes apparent when we note that the “h” in Yahweh need not be read as “ā” (Yāweh), but may represent the letter “n”, thus Yanwen; just as King Arthur’s right hand man Gawain echoes to Yawain.

If some readers are not aware that the name John is a cognate to the names above and many others, let them draw courage not only from my interpretation, but from a reader at, whose response to the observation that “In Europe monarchies are the same what the Festival of Johns is about in Latvia—bearer of traditions” is even more far reaching: “Vēl vairāk—latvieši ir tie, kuru tradīciju, paradumu un vērtību grozu ilustrē Jāņi visā to modernajā kompozīcijā….” (My transl.: Additionally —the Latvians are the ones whose traditions, habits, and values are illustrated by the Johns Festival in all its modern varieties….)

Interestingly, the forces of secularization (the advertising dependent media) are renaming the Johns Festival as the Midsummer Festival, Solstice Festival, Great Picnic Festival, Family Festival, Lihgo Festival, etc. The mention of John (Jahnis) is being erased. Equally, the Children of Johns [those identified now as “tauta” (folk) by those born outside the traditions of the Children of Johns] are no less discriminated against by positivist psychology (displacing the word religion) than by the crusaders. While voting for a partidocratic democracy is proclaimed by the establishment to be everyone’s civic duty and responsibility, casting a NOT-VOTE on behalf of John (the populist leader) and as an alternative to partidocracy is said to be irresponsible.

Of course, when we think of it, the existent system of voting with no opportunity to cast a NOT-VOTE is a system with no scientific basis. As a positivist psychologists interviewed by Ehrenreich said: “The science of positive psychology has not necessarily caught up with the promise of positive psychology.”

The same unfulfilled promise is reflected in the so-called democratic system of voting. This is why it is not only Latvia, but every country in Europe and beyond, that needs to reform the voting system and include the NOT-VOTE.

Latvians may show the way, because all they have to do is fight their way out from under the paper bag pulled over their heads by a succession of positivist thinkers. Just tear the bag off your head and NOT-VOTE!

Asterisks & Other Readings
* Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided Bright-Sided
Compulsory voting in the EU Parliamentary elections
The abstentionist elephant
On the Meaning of Voting
British Government Attempts to Bracket the Constitution
Why Forced Positive Thinking Is A Lot Of Crock?
Click here 

These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.

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