We Were More Likely to Question Authority When We Lived in Prosperous Times – Creating an American Mind and Personality
“The Rise and Fall of ‘Obvious Truths’” discusses the history of the American Republicans’ incredibly disciplined, relentlessly persistent, and amazingly cohesive, seemingly coordinated nearly fifty-year campaign to gain advantage and wealth for their benefactor corporations and the “filthy rich” through totally concocted untruths.
Changing the World?
This started when I was reading over another post I had made. The title was relevant, and it triggered this whole thing. The title was “On Cultural Change, Consciousness, and Music.” And I described it as so: “The perfect confluence of context, moment, and person makes history…Obama’s astonishing rise to the Presidency, for example. But the perfect alignment of a nation’s or world’s deep mood, the moment, and a musician or artist can change the world forever. For example, The Beatles.”
Times Weren’t Always Like This
After reading that, I imagined someone else viewing it, and I considered how chances are it would be someone younger than me-—for I am old enough. That is part of what this is about. I am old enough to have seen some things and I remember some things that people growing up in this day and age would have no conception of. Those more recently coming of age are used to a particular American setting somewhat different than the one I knew. Growing up in a particular context, naturally they would think that is the way things are and how they have to be; they could not know any differently.
“Obvious Truths” Is About How I Saw Things Change
I was born in 1950, so I am aware of other ways that America has been. This series of posts is a lot about how I saw things change. Specifically, I look at the changes in the way we view ourselves, our lives, and authority; I have yet to hear anyone else mention these kinds of changes.
But, Really, Change the World We Did
Getting back to that younger person reading that description, I imagined this other person seeing what I wrote about the Beatles and all that, about changing the world…changing the world! In the harsh light of their cold-hearted reality and the comfortable assuredness of their beliefs, I figured they would consider me naive, if not more. How could that person understand? But, really, change the world we did.
Music’s Power to Persuade
Addressing that younger person, I started writing, “If the title’s claim sounds silly or trite to you then you are operating out of a social prejudice we carry from childhood, particularly around status. And you haven’t stopped to evaluate and compare.” Now, I know that sounds kind of harsh, but it comes together you’ll see. For one thing, leaders and politicians, even great ones, can only alter the course of events slowly and meticulously. Sweeping changes cannot happen by fiat as they depend on the people’s passionate involvement, which you cannot create. In the case of a dictatorship-—for example, Hitler’s Germany, or Kim “Big Little Man’s” North Korea of the present-—that passion might be faked, probably it would need to be faked. Still, even in a free society, politicians can only use words; and no matter how stirring those words, they can reach only so deep inside. It is with great difficulty that political leaders try to move the soul of a nation; most of that mood is untouchable to them.
Meanwhile music, in particular, more potently than any other art form, has the capacity to alter consciousness. I will explain that later; it is an area I have done a lot of study in. It is a part of my profession.
Anyway, music affects your feelings and so it affects your consciousness. So its effects will really stay with you more than words will. Music is a more powerful thing, and it has been used consciously to try to sway the spirits of humans ever since the times of shamans.
But music is a much more powerful thing when the perfect combination of mood, context, and music come together. If you think music is not so powerful then explain why music is required at virtually any social gathering…particularly, when there is involved any attempt to persuade the feelings of the attendees. Have you ever noticed that? What is truly shocking is how music can even be more powerful than vast piles of money put against it.
I said, can be. In talking about music’s power to persuade I am reminded of political rallies and such.
The Persuasive Power of Money…When You Happen to Be Poor
On the other side from the power of leaders’ words of inspiration, which is limited, of music’s more effective persuasions, and the potency of passion and heartfelt feeling naturally arising in people, consider the power of money. Money in the hands of the “filthy rich” is used in a variety of ways and obviously has tremendous persuasive powers of its own. And here is what I am getting at: Money, as arrayed against music, passion, and social movements is especially more powerful in a situation where the people have been put in financial jeopardy because of the prosperity of the rich. As an aside, I remember a time in America’s past when people were more prosperous and confident about their abilities to manage their lives. I do not believe it is a coincidence that in those days money wielded by the wealthy had less power to persuade and people were less easily bought than today. It was said that people then were wont to question authority more than they were likely to bow down to it. I will get back to this later. Anyway, these are the things I was thinking about when this started.
Continue with Culture War, Class War, Chapter Eight: Creating an American Mind
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