Sunday, June 10, 2012

The ecology of spreading ideas

Bryant's 6/10/12 post on rhetoric is hammering a theme I've also recently been focused upon, the materiality of ideas. Given that big money is now free to buy elections, this is part of how ideas are spread and reinforced. It matters not so much whether the ideas are right or better, since how much space/time they take up on tv ads is the strongest determinant and to which memes get elected. To wit, the witless Scott Walker getting re-elected. Bryant says:

"In our materialist approach, we look at ideas as populations or actors in the world, we examine the ecosystems to which they belong, their spread throughout a population, and the mechanisms by which they exclude other ideas, thereby maintaining certain power relations. The point is not to exclude interpretation and the evaluation of truth and falsity, but to recognize the way in which ideas have a reality, a material existence, of their own such that strategies must be developed for both weakening certain ideas and for promoting others and enabling the existence of others."

The conservative Republicans have known this for ages, how to not only frame their ideas but how to spread them like viruses with money. They know repetition is a significant key, and that the tv ad market is quite a pervasive and persuasive medium to reinforce their ideas. They often spread not just spin but outright lies, but that matters little to most attuned to tvs like zombies. For if a lie if repeated often enough it programs a stimulus-response behavior, even in 'smart' people.

The conservatives also know that Unions have been the main source of funding to propagate liberal ideas. Hence their effective political strategy of attacking unions in legislatures around the country, Walker in WI being the most prominent example. Walker eliminated collective bargaining and neutered the public unions, hence membership is down and funds are dwindling. This is not an isolated incident but a well coordinated conservative effort to eliminate unions altogether, and with it the money necessary to “catapult the propaganda,” as that idiot Bush revealed unknowingly.

As Lakoff has often pointed out, liberals tend to believe that better ideas themselves will win the day. That people will come to their senses because an idea is better or has more truth value. But as Bryant points out, they falsely “believe that it is enough to debunk the [wrong] ideology, without attending to the conditions of possibility for that critique and its alternative to proliferate throughout the social system.” And in the case of winning elections, money talks and bullshit walks.

1 comment:

  1. Maher (last post) is also dealing with the ecological materiality of enacting ideas. It is not enough to drum and sing and camp, for to enact these ideas requires the kind of political 'ground game' lacking in OWS. Which (en)activism could generate more money for the cause, money being a HUGE (with Donald Trump's intonation) material component.


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