What I Like About Bernie

. . . is that he knows very well what his role is in this election and he’s not shirking it. Here, for instance, is a message I got from Bernie’s campaign:

I know, and you know, that the best chance for this country is to discuss the issues that matter. Republicans aren’t going to do it, so we need more Democratic debates — more than the four scheduled by the Democratic National Committee before the Iowa Caucuses.

And I know that if Secretary Clinton wants more debates, we’ll get them.

Sign my petition and tell Secretary Clinton to encourage the Democratic National Committee to schedule more debates before the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary in February and to allow important constituencies within the Democratic Party to host their own debates.

Bernie is well-aware that the election is about getting Hillary elected because she’s the one with the best chances. His campaign messages are insistently telling the supporters, “Hillary is the Big Cheese here, don’t forget who’s really the boss. Hillary gets what she wants. Hillary is in charge.”

And he’s right: we should all work together to let the 10 gentlemen on that stage last Thursday know how very irrelevant and outdated their ideas are.

There Is No Propaganda

In the USSR, there were closed borders and no access to any information other than Soviet propaganda. Yet nobody believed the propaganda and spent all day ridiculing the Soviet leadership. People crawled on their knees for food but at least they hated those who reduced them to it.

In today’s Russia, borders are open, foreign travel is available to many, there’s Internet, there’s easy contact with foreigners, there’s satellite TV, etc. Yet everybody believes every word of Putinoid propaganda and worships Putin. They crawl in the dumps and worship the government that makes them do it.

The only conclusion I can reach is that there’s no propaganda, no brainwashing. People simply choose to believe whatever they want to believe at any given time.

So here’s the question: if in the 1980s Soviet people refused to believe in the “evil West”, why do the same people so eagerly believe in it now?

The only answer I have is that in the Soviet times, “the West” offered a fantasy of living in extreme opulence while doing absolutely nothing. And people were unwilling to let any propaganda to rob them of that dream.

Since then, it’s become clear that “the West” of paradisiacal riches and endless leisure does not exist. People feel betrayed by their most cherished dream and engage in the joyful collective excoriation of the traitor.

Rigidity

There’s nothing people enjoy more than hearing what they already know and there’s nothing they detest more than being presented with new information.

We keep hearing that humans don’t use a significant part of their brain but in reality people tend to act as if by the age of 20 they have completely run out of space to store any new information.

Those who manage to avoid total brain ossification into their mature years are few and far between.

Cultural Differences

Saturday, 7 pm. Everybody is busily at work in my small American town. Construction is going on in several places. The stores, the salons  -everything is open.

In Montréal, good luck spotting any movement at a construction site even on a work day. And stores triumphantly close the moment people emerge from the offices.

The Vagaries of Nationalism

In this photo, Russians are crawling around a garbage dump trying to salvage the condemned food that hasn’t been burned yet:

image

Hundreds of tons of meat, fresh produce and cheese are being destroyed in Russia because they supposedly come from the evil West. In the meanwhile, there are more abandoned, hungry children who live in the sreeets and orphanages in Russia today than there was in the aftermath of the civil war back in the 1920s.

Russians say they support Putin because he gave them back their national pride. Of course, it’s hard to see how crawling on your knees in a garbage dump hunting for a few tomatoes is such a hugely proud activity but nationalist sentiments are never guided by reason.

The great thinkers of the Enlightenment with their love of reason came up with a system that exploits those who don’t value reason above all. Nationalism is that system’s name.