Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Influencing Machine

_The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media_ by Brooke Gladstone, illustrated by Josh Neufeld
NY:  WW Norton, 2011
ISBN 978-0-393-07779-7
(xiv)  The American media are not afraid of the government.  They are afraid of their audiences and advertisers.  The media do not control you.  They pander to you.

(52)  Erstwhile reporter Mark Twain said that concocting amusing lies for money was nothing compared to the "clammy stillness" of the press when confronting such horrors as, say, slavery.  He called it "the lie of silent assertion that there wasn't anything going on in which humane and intelligent people were interested...  Why should we help the nation lie the whole day long and then object to telling one little individual private lie in our own interest to go to bed on?  Just for the refreshment of it, I mean.  And to take the rancid taste out of our mouth."

(62) Commercial Bias:  News needs conflict and momentum.  It needs to be _new_.  
Bad News Bias:  emphasizing bad news is good business.

(63)  Status Quo Bias:  our preference, all other things being equal, for things to _stay the same_.
Andrew Cline's Rhetorica Network offers an incisive breakdown of bias.

(64)  Access Bias:  The problem, of course, is that when journalists are held captive by their sources, they are susceptible to Stockholm syndrome.  They empathize with their jailers.

(65)  Visual Bias:  News that has a visual hook is more likely to be noticed.
Narrative Bias:  Some news stories, science stories for instance, never really end.  _They're all middle.  It's a narrative nightmare.

(69)  Fairness Bias:  Journalists will bend over backward to appear balanced by offering equal to opposing viewpoints, even when they aren't equal.

(95)  Michael Herr:  We all knew that if you stayed too long you became one of those poor bastards who had to have a war on all the time...  I don't know -- it took the war to teach it -- that you were as responsible for everything you _saw_ as you were for everything you _did_

(98)  Adolph Ochs, owner of the NY Times:  It will be my earnest aim that the New York Times give the news... impartially, without fear or favor regardless of party, sect, or interest involved... to invite intelligent discussion from all shades of opinion...  Nor will there be a departure from the general tone... unless it be... to intensify its devotion to the cause of sound money and tariff reform... and its advocacy of the _lowest tax_ consistent with good government and _no more government_ that is absolutely necessary to protect society...

(120)  Most of _biases- are unconscious too.   Shankar Bedantam, _The HIdden Brain_

(146)  Marshall McLuhan:  It is man who is the content of and the message of the media, which are extensions of himself.  Electronic man must know the effects of the world he has made above all things.

Andrew Cline's Rhetorica Network offers an incisive breakdown of bias:
  1. Commercial bias: 
  2. Temporal bias: 
  3. Visual bias: 
  4. Bad news bias: 
  5. Narrative bias: 
  6. Status Quo bias:
  7. Fairness bias: 
  8. Expediency bias: 
  9. Glory bias:

Sunday, February 12, 2017


Propaganda by Edward Bernays
Brooklyn, NY:  Ig PUblishing, 1928, 2005
ISBN-10:  0-9703125-9-8

Introduction by Mark Crispin Miller
(11)  Napoleon was especially incisive on the subject [propaganda], as well as an inspired practitioner…

(19)  Always thinking far ahead, his [Bernays] aim was not to urge the buyer to demand the product now, but to transform the buyer’s very world, so that the product must appear to be desirable as if without the prod of salesmanship.  What is the prevailing custom, and how might that be changed to make this thing or that appear to recommend itself to people?

(21)  “Convictions in a demagogue are a weakness and may prove a very serious injury,” asserted social psychologist Frederick C Venn in 1928.

(22)  Hitler, Goebbels, Mussolini, Father Coughlin, Joe McCarthy, Gerald L K Smith, and many others were fanatical and cycnical at once, neither wholly in control nor totally ecstatic.  Such agitators work within a certain mental borderland, where one can never clearly see conviction as distinct from calculation.  Indeed, that inner murkiness appears itself to be the very source or basis of the mass manipulator’s enigmatic power, and so we cannot comprehend it through schematic dualistic formulas.  (Orwell’s elusive concept of “doublethink” is highly pertinent here.”

(27)  In fact, the “[Light’s Golden] Jubilee” was but a stroke of propaganda on behalf of General Electric and its National Electric Light Association (NELA), which was the secret means of GE’s stranglehold on America’s electric power.  From 1919 until 1934, NELA carried out the largest peacetime propaganda drive in US history, intended to discourage public ownership of the utilities.  That private capital should wield complete control over the nation’s power supply was a notion evidently not to be debated.

Similarly, in 1953 Bernays helped put across the myth that Guatemala was at risk of communist subversion - a serviceable legend that the propagandist actually believed, as he makes clear in his memoirs.

(38)  Chapter 1:  Organizing Chaos 

(52)  Modern propaganda is a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise, idea or group.

(57)  Only through the active energy of the intelligent few can the public at large become aware of and act upon new ideas.

(66)  The first recognition of the distinct functions of the public relations counsel arose, perhaps, in the early years of the present century as a result of the insurance scandals coincident with the muckraking of corporate finance in the popular magazines.  The interests thus attacked suddenly realized that they were completely out of touch with the public they were professing to serve, and required expert advice to show them how they could understand the public and interpret themselves to it.

(73)  Trotter and Le Bon concluded that the group mind does not _think_ in the strict sense of the word.  In place of thoughts it has impulses, habits, and emotions.  In making up its mind, its first impulse is usually to follow the example of a trusted leader.  This is one of the most firmly established principles of mass psychology.

(79)  Under the old salesmanship the manufacturer said to the prospective purchaser, “Please buy a piano.”  The new salesmanship has reversed the process and caused the propsective purchaser to say to the manufacturer, “Please sell me a piano.”
NB:  One of the ten rules of the con:  "In the put-up, he picked us out of the crowd with care.”  The con man picks his/her mark with care.

(89)  While the concrete recommendations of the public relations counsel may vary infinitely according to individual circumstances, his general plan of work may be reduced to two types, which I might term _continuous interpretation_ and _dramatization by high-spotting_.  The two may be alternative or may be pursued concurrently.

Continuous interpretation is achieved by trying to control every approach to the public mind in such a manner that the public receives the desired impression, often without being conscious of it.  High-spotting, on the other hand, vividly seizes the attention of the public and fixes it upon some detail or aspect which is typical of the entire enterprise.  When a real estate corporation which is erecting a tall office building makes it ten feet taller than the highest skyscraper in existence, that is dramatization.

(92)  Propaganda, since it goes to basic causes, can very often be most effective through the manner of its introduction.
NB:  Cialdini - influencers:  Sales and motivation consultant Cavett Robert:  "Since 95 percent of the people are imitators and only 5 percent initiators, people are persuaded more by the actions of others than by any proof we can offer."

(98)  Propaganda is potent in meeting unethical or unfair advertising.
NB:  industry sector associations

(103)  These special types of appeal [originality or some other attraction besides price] can be populatized by the manipulation of the principles familiar to the propagandist - the principles of gregariousness, obedience to authority, emulation, and the like.  A minor element can be made to assume economic importance by being established in the public mind as a matter of style.

(109)  The great political problem of our modern democracy is how to induce our leaders to lead.  The dogma that the voice of the people is the voice of God tends to make elected persons the will-less servants of their constituents.

… The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion.  It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and clichés and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders.

(111)  Politics was the first big business in America.  Therefore there is a good deal of irony in the fact that business has learned everything that politics has to teach, but that politics has failed to learn very much from business methods of mass distribution of ideas and products.

(119)  The important thing for the statesman of our age is not so much to know how to please the public, but to know how to sway the public.

(127)  Ours must be a leadership democracy administered by the intelligent minority who know how to regiment and guide the masses.

(139)  Men who, by the commonly accepted standards, are failures or very moderate successes in our American World (the pedagogues) seek to convince the outstanding successes (the businessmen) that they should give their money to ideals which they do not pursue.  Men who, through a sense of inferiority, despise money, seek to win the good will of men who love money.

(153)  In applied and commercial art, propaganda makes greater opportunities for the artist than ever before.  This arises from the fact that mass production reaches an impasse when it competes on a price basis only.  It must, therefore, in a large number of fields create a field of competition based on aesthetic values.

(161)  There is no means of human communication which may not also be a means of deliberate propaganda, because propaganda is simply the establishing of reciprocal understanding between an individaul and a group.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Concentrated Essence of Strategy and Tactics and the Object of War

_Strategy_ by BH Liddell Hart
NY:  Frederick Praeger, 1968
from pages 347-351

The principles of war, not merely one principle, can be condensed into a single word - “concentration.”  But for truth this needs to be amplified as the “concentration of strength against weakness."  And for any real value it needs to be explained that the concentration of strength against weakness depends on the dispersion of your opponent’s strength, which in turn is produced by a distribution of your own that gives the appearance, and partial effect of dispersion.  Your dispersion, his dispersion, your concentration - such is the sequence, and each is a sequel.  True concentration is the fruit of calculated dispersion.

The Concentrated Essence of Strategy and Tactics
1.  Adjust your end to your means….
2.  Keep your object always in mind, while adapting your plan to circumstances….
3.  Choose the line (or course) of least expectation….
4.  Exploit the line of least resistance….
5.  Take a line of operation which offers alternative objectives.

...There is no more common mistake than to confuse a single line of operation, which is usually wise, with a single objective, which is usualy futile.  (If this maxim applies mainly to strategy, it should be applied where possible to tactics, and does, in effect, form the basis of infiltraton tactics.)

6.  Ensure that both plan and dispositions are flexible - adaptable to circumstances.  Your plan should foresee and provide for a next step in case of success or failure, or partial success - which is the next common case in war.  Your dispositions (or formation) should be such as to allow this exploitation or adaptation in the shortest possible time.

7.  Do not throw your weight into a stroke whilst your opponent is on guard - whilst he is well placed to parry or evade it….
8.  Do not renew an attack along the same line (or in the same form) after it has once failed….

The essential truth underlying these maxims is that, for success, two major problems must be solved - _dislocation_ and _exploitation_.  One precedes and one follows the actual blow - which in comparison is a simple act.  You cannot hit the enemy with effec unless you have first created the opportunity;  you cannot make that effect decisive unless you exploit the second opportunity that comes before he can recover.

The importance of these two problems has never been adequately recognized - a fact which goes far to explaining the common indecisiveness of warfare.  The training of armies is primarily devoted to developing efficiency in the detailed execution of the _attack_.  This concentration on tactical technique tends to obscure the psychological element.  It fosters a cult of soundness, rather than of surprise.  It breeds commanders who are so intent not to do anything wrong, according to "the book,” that they forget the necessity of making the enemy do something wrong.  The result is that their plans have no result.  For, in war, it is by compelling mistakes that the scales are most often turned.

… the unexpected cannot guarantee success.  But it guarantees the best chance of success.

… The military objective is only a means to a political end. Hence the the military objective should be governed by the political objective, subject to the basic condition that policy does not demand what is millitarily - that is, practically - impossible.

…The object of war is a better state of peace - even if only from your point of view.  Hence it is essential to conduct war with constant regard to the peace you desire.  This applies both to aggressor nations who seek expansion and to peaceful nations who only fight for self-preservation - although their views of what is meant by a better state of peace are very different.

… History shows that gaining military victory is not in itself equivalent to gaining the object of policy.  But as most of the thinking about war has been done by men of the military professon there has been a very natural tendency to lose sight of the basic national object, and identify it with the military aim.  In consequence, whenever was has broken out, policy has too often been governed by the military aim - and this has been regarded as an end in itself instead of as merely a means to the end.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

Peak:  Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool
NY:  Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt Publishing, 2016
ISBN 978-0-544-45623-5
(15)  Purposeful practice has well-defined, specific goals.

… The key is to take that general goal - get better - and turn it into something specific that you can work on with a realistic expectation of improvement.

Purposeful practice is focused.

(16)  You seldom improve much without giving the task your full attention.

(17)  Purposeful practice requires getting out of one’s comfort zone.

(19)  Generally the solution is not “try harder” but rather “try differently.”

(22)  So here we have purposeful practice in a nutshell:  Get outside your comfort zone but do it in a focused way, with clear goals, a plan for reaching those goals, and a way to monitor your progress.  Oh, and figure out a way to maintain your motivation.

(23-24)  As we shall see, the key to improved mental performance of almost any sort is the development of mental structures that make it possible to avoid the limitations of short-term memory and deal effectively with large amounts of information at once.

(56)  …meaning… allows us to make sense of the words using preexisting “mental representations.”  They’re not random;  they mean something, and meaning aids memory.  Similarly, chess masters don’t develop some incredible memory for where individual pieces sit on a board.  Instead, their memory is very context-dependent:  it is only for patterns of the sort that would appear in a normal game.
NB:  random versus  pattern;  the importance of context everywhere

(56-57)  These years of practice make it possible for chess players to recognize patterns of chess pieces - not just their positions, but the interactions among them - at a glance.  They are old friends.  Bill Chase and Herb Simon called these patterns “chunks,” and the important thing about them is that they are held in long-term memory.

Simon estimated that by the time a chess player becomes a master, he or she has accumulated some fifty thousand of these chunks.  A master who examines a chess position sees a colleciton of chunks that are interacting with other chunks in still other patterns.  Research has shown that these chunks are organized hierarchically, with groups of chunks arranged into higher-level patterns.

(60)  This explains a crucial fact aobut expert performance in general:  there is no such thing as developing a general skill.  You don’t train your memory;  you train your memory for strings of digits or for collections of words or for people’s faces.  You don’t train to become an athlete;  you train to become a gymnast of a sprinter or a marathoner or a swimmer of a basketball player.  You don’t train to become a doctor;  you train to become a diagnostician or a pathologist or a neurosurgeon.  Of course, some people do become overall memory experts or athletes in a number of sports or doctors with a general set of skills, but they do so by training in a number of different areas.

(61)  The thing all mental representations have in common is that they make it possible to process large amounts of information quickly, despite the limitations of short-term memory.
NB:  Alzheimer’s and chunking?

(71-72)  The superior organization of information is a theme that appears over and over again in the study of expert performers.

(75)  The main purpose of deliberate practice is to develop effective mental representations, and, as we will discuss shortly, mental represenrations in turn play a key role in deliberate practice.  The key change that occurs in our adaptable brains in response to deliberate practice is the developoment of better mental representations, which in turn open up new possibilities for improved performance,  In short, we came to see our explanation of mental representations as the keystone of the book, without which the rest of the book could not stand.

(76)  Obviously the mental representation for a book is much larger and more complex than one for a personal letter of a blog post, but the general pattern is the same:  to write well, develop a mental representation ahead of time to guide your efforts, then monitor and evaluate your efforts and be ready to modify that representation as necessary.

(79)  The researchers found, among other things, that the more accomplished music students were better able to determine when they’d made mistakes and better able to identify difficult sections they needed to focus their efforts on.

(83)  It’s like a staircase that you climb as you build it.  Each step of your ascent puts you in a position to build the next step.
NB:  Not quite how you build stairs, first layout notches on stair stringers, setting the run and the rise

(90) … more than a dozen bowing techniques in all.  Spiccato, for example, involves bouncing the bow off and back onto a string as the bow moves back and forth across the string, producing a series of short, staccato notes.  Sautillé is a faster version of spiccato.  Then there are jété, collé, détaché, martelé, legato,  louré, and more, each technique with its own distinctive sound.

(94)  But two things were strikingly clear from the study:  First, to become an excellent violinist requires several thousand hours of pracice….  And, second, even among these gifted musicians - all of whom had been admitted to the best music academy in Germany - the violinists who had spent significantly more hours practicing their craft were on average more accompllished than those who had spent less time practicing.

(98)  First, it [deliberative practice] requires a field that is already reasonably well developed - that is a field in which the best performers have attained a level of performance that clearly sets them apart from people just entering the field.

…. Second, deliberate practice requires a teacher who can provide practice activities designed to help a student improve his or her performance.

…. With this definition we are drawing a clear distinction between purposeful practice - in which a person tries very hard to push himself or herself to improve - and practice that is both purposeful and _informed_.  In particular, deliberate practice is informed and guided by the best performers’ accomplishments and by an understanding of what these expert performers do to excel.  Deliberate practice is purposeful practice that knows where it is going and how to get there.

(99)  Deliberate prctice develops skills that other people have already figured out how to do and for which effective training techniques have already been established.  

… Deliberate practice takes place outside one’s confort zone and requires a student to constantly try things that are just beyond his or her current abilities.  This it demands near-maximal effort, which is generally not enjoyable.

… Deliberate practice involves well-defined, specific goals and often involves improving some aspect of the target performance;  it is not aimed at some vague overall improvement.

… Deliberate practice is deliberate, that is, it requires a person’s full attention and conscious actions.

… Deliberate practice involves feedback and modification of efforts in response to that feedback.

… Deliberate practice both produces and depends on effective mental representations.

(100)  Deliberate practice nearly always involves building or modifying previously acquired skills by focusing on particular aspects of those skills and working to improve them specifically;  over time this step-by-step improvement will eventually lead to expert performance.

(103)  In practice this often boils down to purposeful practice with a few extra steps:  first, identity the expert performers, then figure out what they do that makes them so good, then come up with training techniques that allow you to do it, too.

(105)  Research has shown that the “experts" in many fields don’t perform reliably better than other, less highly regarded members of the profession - or sometimes even than people who have had no training at all.

… Contrary to expectations, experience doesn’t lead to improved performance among many types of doctors and nurses.

(106)  In many fields it is the quality of mental representations that sets aprat the best from the rest, and mental representations are, by their nature, not directly observable.

(113)  There is no point at which performance maxes out and additional practice does not lead to further improvement.  

(121)  The first step toward enhancing performance in an organization is realizing that improvement is possible only if participants abandon business-as-usual practices.  Doing so requires recognizing and rejecting three prevailing myths.

The first is our old friend, the belief that one’s abilities are limited by one’s genetically prescribed characteristics.

…. The second myth holds that if you do something for long enough, you’re bound to get better at it.  Again, we know better, doing the same thing over and over again in exactly the same way is not a recipe for improvement;  it is a recipe for stagnation and gradual decline.

(122)  The third myth states that all it takes to improve is effort.  If you just try hard enough, you’ll get better…  The reality is, however, that all of these things - managing, selling, teamwork - are specialized skills, and unless you are using practice techniques specifically designed to improve those particular skills, trying hard will not get you very far.

… The deliberate-practice mindset offers a very different view:  anyone can improve, but it requires the right approach.  If you are not improving, it’s not because you lack innate talent;  it’s because you’re not practicing the right way.  Once you understand this, improvement becomes a matter of figuring out what the “right way” is.

… One particular such approach is what Art [Turock] calls “learning while real work gets done.”

(122-123)  It might go like this:  The speaker chooses a particular skill to focus on during the presentation - telling engaging stories, for example, or speaking more extemporaneously and relying less on the PowerPoint slides - and then tries to make that particular improvement during the presentation.  Meanwhile, the audience takes notes on how the presenter’s performance went, and afterward they practice giving feedback.  If done just once, the presenter may get some useful advice, but it’s not clear how much difference it will make, as any improvement from such a one-off session is likely to be minor.  However, if the company makes it a regular practice in all staff meetings, employees can steadily improve on various skills.

(123)  One benefit of “learning while real work gets done” is that it gets people into the habit of practicing and thinking about practicing.

(131)  When you look at how people are trained in the professional and business worlds, you find a tendency to focus on knowledge at the expense of skills.  The main reasons are tradition and convenience:  it is much easier to present knolwedge to a large group of people than it is to set up conditions under which individuals can develop skills through practice.
NB:  simulations, role play, games

(137)  It is not just the medical profession that has traditionally emphasized knowledge over skills in its education.

… The general argument has been that the skills can be mastered relatively easily if the knowledge is there.

…. Again, the assumption is that simply accumulating more experience will lead to better performance.

(138)  This strategy [of replacing knowledge based learning with skills based training] acknowledges that because what is ultimately most important is what people are able to do, training should focus on doing rather than on knowing - and, in particular, on bringing everyone’s skills to the level of the best performers in a given area.

(144)  It is already clear, however, that a major factor underlying the abilities of the world’s best doctors is the quality of their mental representations.   This implies that a major part of applying the lessons of deliberate practice to medicine will be finding ways to help doctors develop better mental representations through training - a situation that holds in most other professions as well.

(250)  As we discussed in chapter 5, a major difference between the deliberate-practice approach and the traditional approach to learning lies with the emphasis placed on skills versus knowledge - what you can do versus what you know.  Deliberate practice is all about the skills.  You pick up the necessary knowledge in order to develop the skills;  knowledge should never be an end in itself.  Nonetheless, deliberate practice results in students picking up quite a lot of knowledge along the way.

(151)  Remember:  if your mind is wandering or you’re relaxed and just having fun, you probably won’t improve.
NB:  Fun isn’t improvement

….All of the singers, both amateur and professional, felt more relaxed and energized after the lesson than before, but only the amateurs reported feeling elated afterward.  The singing lesson had made the amateurs, but not the professionals, happy.

…For the professionals, the lesson was  a time to concentrate on such things as vocal technique and breath control in an effort to improve their singing.  There was focus but no joy.

(154)  Focus and concentration are crucial, I wrote, so shorter training sessions with clearer goals are the best way to develop new skills faster.  It is better to train at 100 percent effort for less time than at 70 percent effort for a longer period.  Once you find you can no longer focus effectively, end the session.  And make sure you get enough sleep so that you can train with maximum concentration.

(157)  … the Internet offers just about everything except quality control…

(158)  It does no good to do the same thing over and over again mindlessly;  the purpose of the repetition is to figure out where your weaknesses are and focus on getting better in those areas, trying different methods to improve until you find something that works.

(159)  To effectively practice a skill without a teacher, it helps to keep in mind three Fs:  Focus.  Feedback.  Fix it.  Break the skill down into components that you can do repeatedly and anlayze effectively, determine your weaknesses, and figure out ways to address them.

(165)  This, then, is what you should try when other techniques for getting past a plateau have failed.  First, figure out exactly what is holding you back.  What mistakes are you making, and when?  Push yourself well outside of your comfort zone and see what breaks down first.  Then design a practice technique aimed at improving that particular weakness.

(169)  As a rule of thumb, I think that anyone who hopes to improve skill in a particular area should devote an hour or more each day to practice that can be done with full concentration.  Maintaining the motivation that enables such a regimen has two parts:  reasons to keep going and reasons to stop.  When you quit something that you had initially wanted to do, it’s because the reasons to stop eventually came to outweigh the reasons to continue.  Thus, to maintain your motivation you can either strengthen the reasons to keep going or weaken the reasons to quit.  Successful motivation efforts generally include both.

(172)  Studies of expert performers tell us that once you have practice for a while and can see the results, the skill itself can become part of your motivation.  You take pride in what you do, you get pleasure from your friends’ compliments, and your sense of identity changes.

… Another key motivational factor in deliberate practice is a belief that you can succeed.

(173)  … if you stop believing that you can reach a goal, either because you’ve regressed or you’ve plateaued, don’t quit.  Make an agreement with yourself that you will do what it takes to get back to where you were or to get beyond the plateau, and then you can quit.  You probably won’t.

(177)  One of the best bits of advice is to set things up so that you are constantly seeing concrete signs of improvement, even if it is not always major improvement.  Break your long journey into a manageable series of goals and focus on them one at a time - perhaps even giving yourself a small reward each time you reach a goal.

(224)  The program [Jump Math] used the same basic principles found in deliberate practice:  breaking learning down into a series of well-specified skills, designing exercises to teach each of those skills in the correct order, and using feedback to monitor the progress.  

(233)  And here we find our major takeaway messeage:  In the long run it is the ones who practice more who prevail, not the ones who had some initial advantage in intelligence or some other talent.

(245-246)  In the deliberate-practice class the goal was not to feed information to the students but rather to get them to practice thinking like physicists.  To do that, Deslauriers would first have the students divide up into small gorups and then pose a “clicker question,” that is, a question that the students answered electronically, with the answers sent automatically to the instructor.  The questions were chosen to get the students in the class thinking about concepts that typically give first-year phiscs students difficulty.  The students would talk about each question within their small groups, send in their answers, and then Deslauriers would display the results and talk about them, answering any questions that the students might have.  The discussions got the  students thinking about the concepts, drawing connections, and often moving beyond the specific clicker question they’d been asked.  Several clicker questions were asked during the course of the class, and sometimes Deslauriers might have the student groups discuss a question a second time, after he had offered some thoughts for them to ponder.  Sometimes he would offer a mini-lecture if it seemed that the students were having difficulty with a particular idea.  Each class also included an “active learning task” in which the students in each group considered a questions and then individually wrote their answers and submitted them, after which Deslauriers would again answer questions and address misconceptions.  During the class Schelow would walk around among the groups, answering questions, listening to the discussions, and identifying problem areas.

(246)  Although there was no difference in engagement between the two groups during weeks ten and eleven, during week twelve the engagement in the class taught by Deslauriers was nearly double what it was in the traditional class.  But it was more than just engagement.  The students in the Deslauriers class were getting immediate feedback on their understanding of the various concepts, with both fellow students and the instructors helping clear up any confusion.  And both the clicker questions and the active learning tasks were designed to get the students thinking like physicists - to first understand the question in the proper way, then figure out which concepts are applicable, and then reason from those concepts to an answer.

(248)  For instance, it has always been surprising to me when I talke to fulltime athletes and their coaches how many of them have never taken the time to identify those aspects of performance that they would like to improve and then design training methods aimed specifically at those things.

…Furthermore, very little has been done to learn about the mental representations that successful athletes use.

(251)  However, if this information is assimilated as part of building mental representations aimed at doing something, the individual pieces become part of an interconnected pattern that provides context and meaning to the information, making it easier to work with.  As we saw in chapter 3, you don’t build mental representations by thinking about something;  you build them by trying to do something, failing, revising, and trying again, over and over.  When you’re done, not only have you developed an effective mental representation for the skill you were developing, but you have also absorbed a great deal of information connected with that skill.
NB:  “mental representation” = context, try fail revise try again = OODA Loop [observe, orient, decide, act]

… When preparing a lesson plan, determining what a student should be able to do is far more effective than determining what that student should know.  It then turns out that the knowing part comes along for the ride.

… when teaching a skill, break the lesson into a series of steps that the student can master one at a time, buuilding from one to the next to reach the ultimate objective.  While this sounds very similar to the scaffolding approach used in traditional education, it differs crucially in its focus on understanding the necessary mental representations at each step of the way and making sure that the student has developed the appropriate representations before moving to the next step.  
(253)  Begin by identifying what students should learn how to do.  The objectives should be skills, not knowledge.  In figuring out the particular way students should learn a skill, examine how the experts do it.  In particular, understand as much as possible about the mental representations that experts use, and teach the skill so as to help students develop similar mental representations.  This will involve teaching the skill step by step, with each step designed to keep students out of their comfort zone but not so far out that they cannot master that step.  Then give plenty of repetition and feedback;  the regular cycle of try, fail, get feedback, try again, and so on is how the students will build their mental representations.

(254)  One benefit that a young student - or anyone, really - gets from developing mental representations is the freedom to begin exploring that skill on his or her own.

(255)  They no longer need a teacher to lead them down every path;  they can head down some paths on their own.

Something similar is true for academic subjects.  Students who develop mental representations can go on to generate their own scientific experiments or to write their own books - and research has shown that many successful scientists and authors started their careers at a young age in just this way.

….  Having students create mental representations in one area helps them understand exactly what it takes to be successful not only in that area but in others as well.  Most people, even adults, have never attained a level of performance in any field that is sufficient to show them the true power of mental representations to plan, execute, and evaluate their performance in the way that expert performers do.  And thus they never really understand what it takes to reach this level - not just the time it takes, but the high-quality practice.  Once they do understand what is necessary to get there in one area, they understand, at least in principle, what it takes in other areas.  That is why experts in one field can often appreciate those in other fields.  A research physicist may better understand what it takes to become a skilled violinist, if only in general terms, and a ballerina may better understand the sacrifice it takes to become a skilled painter.

(256)  In most fields we still don’t know exactly what distinguishes experts from everyone else.  Nor do we have many details about the experts’ mental representations.  We need to map out the various factors that make up an expert over his or her entire lifespan in order to provide direction for other people who want to develop expertise.

(258)  And I would argue that we humans are most human when we’re improving ourselves.

(259)  Ultimately, it may be that the only answer to a world in which rapidly improving technologies are constantly changing the conditions under which we work, play, and live will be to create a society of people who recognize that they can control their development and understand how to do it.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Folding the Red into the Black: Developing a Viable Untopia for Human Survival in the 21st Century

Folding the Red into the Black:  Developing a Viable Untopia for Human Survival in the 21st Century by Walter Mosley
NY:  OR Books, 2016
ISBN 978-1-944869-06-9

(13)  And so I propose the untopia.  This is not a physical place, not an eternal city but rather a frame of mind that has as its goal the dismantling of expectations of perfection when it comes to the working of the quasi-philosophical systems of government.

The untopia announces that we are unruly beings that need time to play and room to move.

(16)  Anyone who believes anything with fervor is somebody’s enemy.

(21)  We are thinking beings.
And therefore we can be wrong.
NB:  Karl Popper, Open Society, and fallibility

(29)  What is so sad about this economic juggernaut is that, as Steinbeck puts it so beautifully in The Grapes of Wrath, there is no one to blame.  It is the _system_ that is guilty.  The system creates workers, overmasters, and even the owners of capital.
NB:  Frank Norris’ The Octopus

(34)  We lay claim to things that cannot be owned.

…Ownership, on any level, is at best a temporary contract for any living being.

(35)  We can lease and borrow, we can claim and use, but the ability to truly _possess_ is beyond us.  The material world cannot be owned;  nor can it hold value in any unique sense.
NB:  usufruct

The only value that can truly fluctuate is the price put on labor.

(41)  We have to stop and pull back, look at ourselves and each other and wonder if there is a way that each and every one of us (or at least the vast majority) can agree on the elements that make a world that is tolerable:  a world with enough food and warmth and pleasant distractions;  a world where love and belief are okay, even primary.

(43)  Because all capitalist wealth is based on labor.  A tract of land is worthless unless there is human-conceived labor to reap its value.  Someone or some machine has to till and plant, excavate and mine, construct and sell.   The world, the universe, might seem infinite but labor is a fluctuaing and forever finite number.  On Monday there are one billion workers.  On Tuesday there are one billion four thousand and six in the workforce.  A week from Friday, due to a fracas in Congo, the worldwide workforce lowers to nine hundred ninety-nine million four hundred three thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven.  Whatever the figure is, that is the limit of wealth that can be produced (excluding the independently operating robots, of course).

(49)  Also I want revenge for all the pain I feel inside for no reason that I can articulate.
NB:  Trumpistas

(51)  We want and cannot have, mostly.  We want and should not have, often.  We want while trying to forget that, if our desires are met, there will be consequences for which someone else will have to answer.

I believe that we have to see our wants in relationship to our needs and the needs of others.  It’s okay to have a big house or an exercise class that makes millions of dollars.  It is not okay, however, to cause poverty and hunger.  It is not okay to create suffering in the shadow of opulence.

It is human nature to want and want more.  It is human necessity to share.

(58)  poet William Matthews

(59)  We can say we hate the work, we can point out its shortcomings, we can even say things that we don’t understand exactly.  But the one thing we can never ask for is silence.
NB:  Teacher in a CCNY poetry class

(64)  And make no mistake, the goal of humanity is pleasure:  laughing babies, full bellies, blissful kisses, knee-shaking orgasms, winning the game, freeing the slave, feeling the wind on our faces, learning perspective, or toasting your friends afrer splitting the atom - it is all just a feeling.

(65)  We should put happiness before profit while understanding that profitting from our labors is a primary human enterprise, and maybe even, in some limited way, a right.  We have to put freedom before organization but still it is obvious that there is no chance of freedom without organization.

… We have needs, wants, and require (as far as possible) unhindered expression.  Undergirding these three elements of human _rights_ there must be equality among all people, equality which equates to freedom.

(72-73)  Without labor, property - be it intellectual or physical - is just raw material.  Without property, labor makes no financial sense.

(78)  The proletarian side offers sustenance while the Moneybags-end glows with the promise of unlimiited wealth, which is interpreted as freedom.  On one side you are a part of everything.  On the other you can, potentially, own everything.

(83)  Therefore, the cost of interest is the root of capitalism.

(87)  This struggle between capital and the social must end.  We individual citizens must see that while there are spheres in our society that need to be private, privatized, and freely owned by individuals and groups of individuals, there are also elements in social life that must be controlled by the state for the greater good of the people.

(89)  There are many spheres of modern society where capitalist and social ideals coexist.  The police are a good example.  They protect the property of the capitalist but they also perform the social function of shielding the bodies and minds of the general population from harm.  Hospitals charge outrageous fees but many and most are still constrained to help people, in certain situations, that cannot afford the toll.  Public roads are maintained for commerece but anyone can travel them.  These are acceptable terms in modern American political and economic culture but we have to go much further if we want to save our sanity and our planet, our peoples, and their potentialities.
NB:  Not so acceptable these days

(89-90)  Let’s see if we can enumerate what a person in the twenty-first century needs for her or his survival:
Clean water.  Enough to drink and wash with.
Healthy food to keep us strong, alert, and hale.
A safe place to sleep and relax where we can garner our resources and consider our lives.
Education through six years of college or technical school that prepares us for the workplaces of today and tomorrow.
Medical care.
Free access to information.
A share in the natural resources of the nation where those resources are not owned by capital.  (These resources include the coastal oceans, the wind and rivers, mineral rights in the public domain, and an imposed income tax on non0human labor for profit, i.e. the robotic labor force.)
The eradication of laws that limit personal freedom only or mainly to protect the income of hierarchical capital.
NB:  there is at least one national resource bank proposal to benefit all citizens proposal out there.

(96)  Capitalism has no ties to democracy, nationalism, or the good of the people.  Capital is _only_ about the relationship between profit and competition.

(97)  As far as food is concerned I believe that the federal governmetn should subsidize nine or ten basic foods, covering all the major food groups and charging the consumer a greatly, greatly reduced price.  The basic cost should be no more than a dime.

... For the most basic amount of money, loose change someone could earn bringing in glass bottles for reclamation, any man or woman could feed themselves and their dependents.

(98)  The American government already subsidizes at least nine major foodstuffs.  We or, more accurately, our capitalist controlled Congress, subsidizes corn, wheat, soybeans, rice, beer, milk, beef, peanut butter, and sunflower oil.  These foods are paid for by our tax dollars.  These basic foods give great help to fast food chains, agribusiness, and the giant food-processing corporations.  The greater the poison the cheaper it is.  In the last ten to fifteen years we have paid in excess of seventy billion dollars on corn subsidies alone.
NB:  He forgot sugar.

(99)  I suggest that the governments (city, state, and federal) work in concert to make a plan to build rudimentary apartment housing, let’s say cubicles of about 550 square feet per person, that _any citizen_ is qualified for.

… The rent on this type of public housing will be 10 percent of the person’s salary, no matter what that salary is.

(103)  We are born in debt - this is the proper interpretation of Original Sin, I believe.

(109)  If a wage earner does not have enough money salted away to navigate a year or two of economic adversity, then that wage earner is a solid member of the working class.  But if everyone goes along with the fiction that they belong to small percentage of the wealthier population then they are likely to throw in their lot with a class of citizen that has nothing to do with them, their needs, or their fate.  

We have been brainwashed to believe that we are members of an elite economic class that does not share the fate of stevedores and farmers.  

(112)  When my good friend was a child her mother used to tell her, whenever they were about to cross the street, “that car is not your father.”  She was stating the obvious:  that we, pedestrians, cannot trust in the love of the mechaistic juggernaut of the modern world - ever.

(113)  We must tear down the utopian belief systems that imagine that there is a world where multi-ton unfeeling machines and social structures can be expected to care for the frail human beings that exist only to service their operations.

… Violence buries its spear into the soul of history.  Once death becomes the tinder of our struggle - our payment for freedom - then revenge is the irrefutable return.

(114-115)  We must realize that it is only in the general agreement of the masses that a world of _untopic_ revelation can come into existence and endure. 

We must create a very human prayer, a hopeful villanelle that will repeat over and over that we are free to be who we are and that we are bound to help others along our way.  To repeat - we are free to be who we are and yet bound to help all others along our way.  Let me say that again.  We are the others and they are our freedom.  The certainty of this knowledge is the only revolution that will work.  Without you I cannot exist even though once I reallize myself I am different - and there is a kind of mortal divinity in this difference.  This odd equation is the bulwark of a world without pure systems and thieving machines.  It is a world worth living in, where the limits are purely human, not systemic.

(117)  First we must limit capitalism.  The wealth garnered by the capitalist must be barred from influencing the needs (rights) of people.  No one (be they rich, poor, or _corporate person_) should be able to give money to political campaigns, elected officials, employees of social bureaucracies, or union leaders.  And while it would be fine to donate to charities it must be recognized on a broad political level that the need for charity is the signpost for the failure of the society, if the people’s needs are not being met by their citizenship we have not addressed the persons whose happiness are our primary, our ultimate, our only true concern.

(118)  This is the nature of capitalism - to continually lower the value of labor in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. 

(120)  We need socialism in our lives.  We need the regulation of capitalism and hospitals, fire departments, police forces, and a social welfare safety net to make sure that each and every human being has a shot at having a life worth living.

(121)  Socialism cannot tell us what to think, say, wear, or feel;  it cannot tell us how to learn or love or what to do with our bodies or the labors our bodies perform.

….. Socialism cannot confiscate our property or tell us what we are worth.

(122)  Socialism is our general agreement to support one another and it must be open and clearly worded.  It must work fairly and with oversight from citizens who do not profit from the execution of socialist duty.

There is no system of government that rises above the rights of individuals.  There is no economic system that can replicate the genetic makeup of love.

(124)  School and education in general should show us how to realize ourselves, and each other, through creativity, technolgy and informed intelligence.  Work should be toward the betterment of our peoples and our ecology.  Crime should be defined by how much any action or human-wrought thing limits the potential for the happiness of the people.

(125)  The world I am offering believes in happiness inside of mortality, of human beings outside the prisons of social debt and corporate profit.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Breaking the Barrier: The Rise of Solidarity in Poland

_Breaking the Barrier:  The Rise of Solidarity in Poland_ by Lawrence Goodwyn
Breaking the Barrier: The Rise of Solidarity in Poland by Lawrence Goodwyn
NY:  Oxford University Press, 1991
ISBN 0-19-506122-5

(xvii)  But protest moves from idea to action when it becomes social - that is, when it is organized so that people are acting rather than writing or talking about acting.

(xix)  The study of Solidarnosc that follows proceeds from an understanding that I believe is essential in providing the necessary connecting link between idea and action in history - quite simply, that social knowledge is experiential….

But while the inevitable disputations that ensue are frequently conducted in a vocabulary of high principle and in terminology arranged to project logical power, the beliefs and customs being projected are passionately held precisely because they have been experientially confirmed in daily life.  For better or for worse, social knowledge is experiential, and the beliefs so shaped are taken to be “normal.”

..In considering that vast and varied area of human activity that can loosely be described as “the politics of protest,” the first thing that must be acknowledged is that the social activity suggested by the phrase is emphatically not perceived as ”normal.”  The phrase itself refers in some general way to a dim arena of human activity, emotion, perception, and belief that is connected to unusual acts of unsanctioned assertion by previously little-known persons.

(xx)  In essence, most “ideas” do not move to “action” because people are afraid to act on their ideas.  Quite simply, they do not know what to do that is safe to do.  The problem is one of power and the social fear that power can stimulate.  Power generates in people experiences that teach the merits of caution.
NB:  People also do not know what is effective, where the levers they can actually move are

(xxix)  To summarize, at the heart of Solidarnosc was highly relevant social experience, not literary craftsmanship or erudite political analysis.

(10)  Lech Walesa welcoming the government team on behalf of 370 enterprises: “The fact that we represent hundreds of thousands of people makes us feel sure that the cause we are fighting for is just.  Coming here may bring home to you what a shipyard is like when the workers are governing themselves.  You can see for yourself how orderly it is.”  Walesa then provided the government team with its first indication that the strike committee did not intend to be stampeded:  “The serious matters we must settle require us to act prudently and without haste.  We have been waiting patiently for nine days, and we have plenty of patience left.”

(13)  The twenty-one Gdansk demands were so sweeping in this intent that most Polish intellectuals, including the most respected and militant of the leaders of the democratic opposition, concluded they went much too far.  The first demand, particularly, was seen as excessive and unrealistic, an example of militancy carried to the point of “impossibilism.”  The workers were unmoved by this advice.  Unbelievably, they acted as if there were issues even more vital than the twenty-one demands. The duality is starkly visible here:  the status of the workers’ “helpers” - and all the contentions about police repression than even the far-ranging first demand which called for free trade unions independent of the party.
NB:  Situationism:  be realistic, demand the impossible

(18)  There is a necessary human rhythm here - the pent-up needs of voiceless people when they are at last able to speak and a Chief Censor who is forced to listen.  It is a fine moment in history, one that does not happen enough in any society or in any unbalanced human relationship.  A bit of excess seems always to be visible the first time;  its presence verifies the humiliation and tragedy of the past and signals that some basic realignment is in the offing, or is possible, or is at least passionately longed for.

(19)  All governments lie when it is considered necessary, of course, but the form and extent of deceit often illuminate the kind of functioning social compact that actually connects the rulers and the ruled.
NB:  IF Stone

(29)  Only veteran organizers knew that “patience” was a quality that could also be described by two other words - “sustained militancy.”

(33)  It is not simply “fear” or “apathy” that immobilizes people;  it is knowledge they have been taught about how power works in their lives, in their jobs, in their neighborhoods, and, indeed, in most of their social relations.  They desire change and yet do not believe they can get much of it.

Aspiration conjoined with anxiety - it is the essential political tension of modern society, as unwanted coupling deeply rooted in subjective experience and one that surfaces in many guises every day in every human being and in every public political action.  A relatively simple condition to describe, it is also a pervasive condition, and its endurance through the generations mocks the pretension of much that passes as high political theory in the late twentieth century.  But to understand this equivocal tension and to respond to it is the starting place for democratic politics - a juncture that marks the point at which democratic organization must begin. 

(41)  Solidarnosc Strike Bulletin no. 10 carried a deeply felt and highly ironic reflection of the corrupted socialist aspiration:  “Workers of the World… my sincere apologies.  [Signed] Karl Marx.”

(56)  The slowdown meant that factories producing parts for production lines in other factories set in motion a chain reaction of routine shortages that pervaded the entire system. The phenomenon ensured that full-scale production rarely began before the fifteenth and sometimes even the twentieth of each month, insuring yet another round of end-of-the-month frenzy.  The custom acquired a name - “storming.”  It was a folkway of the entire Eastern bloc, nowhere more intractable as a system than in the Soviet Union itself.  In Poland, production averages were ludicrous;  first ten days, 7 percent of monthly output;  second ten days, 22 percent;  final ten days, 71 percent.  The practice was wasteful of human and material resources and yielded additional waste in the form of shoddy products that quickly wore out.  Since waste was literally structured into labor itself, the incoherence of storming seemed to undermine prospects for a better future.

(60)  Grievances do not translate into movements;  they merely make them possible.  Movements happen when they are organized.  They happen in no other way.

(109)  We may characterize this moment of time [after the collapse of the “Spirit of October” in 1956] as one of “private insurgency.”  It is a pivotal juncture, but in the literature of political theory, it has no name.  As a component of social relations, it is one of the most uninvestigated areas of political science, a palpable lacuna rife with theoretical and practical import.  The “moment” of private insurgency generates no historical records:  it is, in a sense, invisible;  it may therefore be understood to be pre-political.  Nothing that might be characterized as a movement has yet emerged.  It is, in fact, the last moment before movements become historical.  It is that juncture when future activists are talking to each other and have not quite begun to ponder how to reach out and connect either with the larger society or with social groups other than their own.

(111)  People had serious complaints, but seemingly nothing much could be done.  So “politics" became the art of complaining to one’s acquaintances.

(113)  Lawrence Weschler:  “It occurred to me that our Western newscasts always offer us bite-size morsels, little digestible snippets that disguise the true horror of conflict - that is, that it just seems to go on and on and you have no idea when it’s going to stop.  

(115)  The occupation strike has a storied reputation in the American working class, among whose organizers it has long been known as the “Polish strike” and more widely as the sit-down strike.  Its American popularizer was a militant trade unionist name Wyndham Mortimer, who in 1934-1935 successfully organized the work force at Cleveland’s White Truck Company, which contained a substantial number of Polish-Americans.  In 1936, Mortimer was the organizing strategist behind the “great sit-down” at the Fisher Body plant in Flint, Michigan, that finally brought General Motors to the bargaining table and launched the United Automobile Workers of America.  In turn, the Flint sit-down promptly became the organizing model for the CIO in other mass-production industries in America;  it was the tool successfully employed to combat police and company thugs in the tense and often bloody recognition strikes int he steel, electrical, and rubber industries in the late 1930s.  The CIO’s debt to the sit-down strategy was sizable indeed - and it was a debt to the Polish working class.  The occupation strike had gained great fame int he early 1930s in Poland where socialist and communist trade unions battled the nation’s right-wing prewar government.  By 1936, it had become a finely ones and widely used instrument of working-class assertion, a tactic so tested and so heralded that it made the long ethnic journey across “Polonia” to the CIO in America.
NB:  Occupy, also Goodwyn’s idea that the lack of the sit-down strike doomed the farmer/worker alliance attempts of the Populists

(116)  At party headquarters, a junior official tried to bring calm by suggesting the workers name deluges to come inside and negotiate.  The workers turned this down out of fear, born of past experience, that anyone named would be arrested when the confrontation was over.  
NB:  Occupy

(139)  Lech Walesa, for one, also found a way to put his highly prized electrical and mechanical skills to work in the cause.  By some miracle of labor, ingenuity, and scavenging of parts, he was able to resuscitate an ancient Warszawa automobile, obtain a driver’s license, and plaster copies of the democratic constitution of 1791 over its windows.  He thus created a kind of mobile democratic exhibit that signaled the presence of self-activity down every street he drove.  Public display of the constitution was not, per se, illegal;  it was, after all, a historical document.  But in the social climate the party’s police strove to maintain, its public flaunting violated proper deferential form preferred by the authorities in People’s Poland.  Walesa’s relic of a motorcar thus became a mobile symbol of opposition in Gdansk.  It also represented one more small but tangible step toward taking back some of the public space that had long been enclosed within the party’s monopoly of civic expression.
NB:  speaking loud at the bus stops

(142)  The evolving status of dissent in Eastern Europe over the long years since the end of World War II was once explained to a British trade unionist by his Czechoslovakian counterpart:  “Listen, my friend, twenty-five years ago, these people could have been tried and shot.  Fifteen years ago they would have been put in prison. Now they simply lose their jobs.  That’s progress under Socialism.”  In Poland in the late 1970s, the organizing challenge was to avoid even the last-named sanction. 

(150)  In 1978, the police decision to take away Walesa’s driver’s license was merely part of a long-running psychological campaign aimed at destroying the jaunty confidence that was such a telling aspect of his recruiting ability.  His response was to turn his new immobility into a recruiting tool.  When he emerged from a forty-eight-hour detention, he would get on a bus without money and borrow zlotys from total strangers while telling all on board the details of his false arrest and his activities in the free union movement.

(156)  The process by which Baltic workers constructed the building blocks of the house they called Solidarnosc was not mechanistic.  Although in retrospect it is relatively simple to array the organizing pieces aside one another in sequential order so that (1) an occupation strike may be seen as the necessary step toward (2) an inter factory strike committee dedicated to (3) the achievement of a self-governing trade union independent of the party-state, the decisive prehistory of the Polish August was not set in place in such an orderly manner.  Each component was a product of knowledge acquired through collective assertion over thirty-five years in an ever-changing social setting that continued to generate distressingly persistent social and economic problems.

(157)  For all those who are skeptical of the presumed universal benefits of science, history has a wonderfully disorderly quality about it - inevitably so, given the unscientific character of humanity’s social relations.  Everything that the Baltic working class had taught itself was in place on the coast on July 1, 1980.

(160)  But beyond this essential starting point, he [Walesa] had learned over the years - in the shipyard in 1970-71 and again in 1976, at ZREMB in 1978, at Elektromontaz in 1979-80, and in the free unions - that the key to solidarity was communications.  Uncertainty and the weakening resolve appeared when rumors appeared, and rumors came when people did not know what was happening.  Walesa addressed this problem on the first morning.

… Director Gniech and the strike committee moved toward their first negotiating session, whereupon Walesa made his move:  “It must be done so everyone can hear - over the loudspeaker.”  Gniech was taken aback.  A negotiation conducted over loudspeakers?  It could not be done, he said….

Thus in one negotiating sally, and with technological finality, Walesa solved the entire problem of internal communications in the shipyard for the duration of the strike.  The most anxiety-ridden worker in the last rank of the shipyard would be as informed as the most active militant.  In one stroke, the rumor factor had been reduced to an absolute minimum.  If the worker leadership could now keep both its poise and its programmatic militancy, the entire work force would support them.  They would be politicized by events.  They always were - when they could get information one events.  To anyone who understood the worker milieu on the coast, the incorporation of the loudspeaker into the movement was an important step toward binding the community.

(162)  Together with another worker, [Stanislaw] Bury secured all the acetylene, gas, and electrical equipment so that no party hooligan could come in and set off an “accidental” explosion as a pretext for bringing militia into the shipyard.  The same thought occurred to other coastal workers with long memories.  A worker militia was formed, given distinctive arm bands, and put in charge of security throughout the shipyard.  The strike committee also banned all alcohol from the shipyard.  Experience - the occupation strikes of the 1970s - informed action.

(164)  He [Gniech] had tried to explain that the area outside Gate No. 2 where the workers had fallen in 1970 had been set aside for a new supermarket.  Strike committee members were unmoved by this piece of intelligence, and one of them walked up to the microphone and addressed the massed thousands listening in the shipyard:  “Do you want a monument?”  The thunderous answer not only reduced Gniech’s maneuvering room, it impressed on him the extent to which the public nature of the negotiations robbed authorities of the strategic advantages normally adhering to power itself.

(165)  It was, of course, a thoroughly undemocratic way out, though he found a way to exonerate himself as a person if not as a worker representative.  Speaking in a loud voice he [Walesa] said:
“We must respect democracy and therefore accept the compromise, even if it is not brilliant; but we do not have the right to abandon others.  We must continue the strike out of solidarity until everyone has won.  I said I would be the last person to leave the shipyard.  And I meant it.  If the workers who are gathered here want to continue the strike then it will be continued.  Now, who wants to strike?”

… Walesa’s inquiry “who wants to strike?” could have only one honorable answer, for it was the ultimate loaded question.  

(169)  For intellectuals - novelists, economists, poets, journalists and scholars, people whose life gained meaning by the expression of their understandings of life - the crippling moment came with the censor’s blue pencil.  Things ended not at the typewriter but at what the typewriter produced;  creativity stopped dead at the party’s censorship office.  But for workers, censorship came at the very point of production itself - on the shop floors where incoherent production relations made for waste and inefficiency, where party disdain made for dangerous safety conditions, where worker creativity about organizing production ran afoul of “the plan” or the prerogatives of those in charge of the plan.  There was no “bottom drawer” where workers could hide their creative thoughts from the party.  Their very creativity itself was consumed by the blanketing control that the party’s trade union ruthlessly imposed on the shop floors of Poland.  it was for precisely this reason - verified by the experiences of daily life - that workers understood the censorship in structural terms that went beyond the understanding of the intelligentsia.  This was the reason workers understood the centrality of the first Gdansk demand in ways intellectual could not.  It represented the very essence of their struggle for free expression.

(171)  But as Walesa’s own organizing career had vividly demonstrated, such was not the self-conception working-class militants had of their movement.  They saw the Interfactory Strike Committee as the entering wedge into Leninist Poland for the benefit of the whole population.  The objective was to pressure the party to come to democratic terms with society and thus transform the style of governance in the country.

Men and women who had spent their working lives under the shop-floor tyranny of the official trade unions and who had been harassed and even deprived of their jobs because they dared to breach the censorship by specifying the duplicity of the party’s unions knew in their bones that the forthcoming struggle with the state turned on finding ways for the MKS to fashion as much institutionalized protection for itself as was strategically possible.  Internally, the independent union movement needed to solidify its fragile mass base in the Lenin Shipyard when the working day began on Monday;  in the meantime, it needed to augment as rapidly as possible the number of enterprises on the Baltic coast that could generate shop-floor meetings and elect delegates to serve on the Interfactory Strike Committee.  In ideological terms, it needed to be understood that anything that worked at cross purposes to these internal prerequisites - whether free elections or free expression at police stations - was conceptually counterproductive.  Even the most self-important spokesman for an opposition grouplet had to be conscious of the strategic orientation imparted by the simple location of the meeting room - in an industrial enterprise protected from a police raid by organized workers conducting an occupation strike just outside the meeting room.

(177)  As has often been said, history is not “what happened,” it is what people persuade themselves happened.

(185)  To read, observe, and learn without becoming contaminated - that was the challenge of every minute of every day in Polish life.

(193)  The great challenge, one that many besides Lenin failed to meet, was to remain democratic while at the same time remaining insurgent.

(211-212)  A central reality concerning the cultural components of democratic politics, as distinct from the familiar fabric of elite politics, here comes into full view.  For ordinary people remote from power to be encouraged to collective action, clarity of purpose is needed.  For widespread resignation, carefully instilled by centralized power, to be transcended, a clear and patently worthwhile objective is needed. For nagging and immobilizing fear, carefully cultivated by ruling authorities, to be overcome evidence that the goal is worth the risk is needed.  “Free unions independent of the party!”  In Poland, the opening word of the first Gdansk demand passed this test in a way unrivaled by any public document since the end of World War II.

(213)  That Monday afternoon broadcast of Radio Free Europe, with its strange, Kuron-contrived emphasis on every part of the twenty-one demands except the most important demand, was heard by those Poles in the Gdansk area who were listening.  But the information provided was silent on the mechanics of movement building.  To those distant from the coast who did not know what an MKS was or how to join it, Radio Free Europe could provide no information and neither could Jacek Kuron.  It was not merely that they were structurally uninformed;  the key recruiting tool - the union free of the party - was missing from the message.  The most relevant subsidiary informational tool - what to do to prepare a factory for affiliation with the MKS - was also missing.

(216)  A way did indeed exist to form public committees and make public demands in People’s Poland without subjecting the organizers to instant police repression.  Surround the organizers with an occupation strike of thousands of workers and augment the strike committee with the solidarity strikes by hundreds of other enterprises.  It was not Kuron’s idea nor Walesa’s nor Boruswicz’s nor Wyszowshik’s.  Rather, quietly it had simply grown out of the accumulated experience of the coastal working class itself, a kind of collective imagination which, step by step, seemed almost as if it were orchestrated by collective wisdom.  But it was not orchestrated.  It simply grew, logically, out of the coastal workers’ own experience, as they improvised to meet the successive challenges to their organizing effort.  It could be understood, after the fact, that the Polish August had a certain democratic ring to it.

(220)  Instead of withdrawing in disagreement upon hearing Walesa’s views, Mazowiecki and Geremek performed two strategically vital acts of coalition building.  They listened to the reasoning of the workers’ spokesman and they stayed in the shipyard to help.  That is, they put aside their doubts and took their places as cooperating members of the democratic movement.

(225)  If the independent union could be won, many Walesas and Geremeks across Poland would have to try to learn how to talk to one another.  It was the ultimate democratic test that history puts to social movements.

(226-227)  In most societies, anything that might be called “national unity” has on occasion existed as an idea and also as a kind of yearning, but its actual historical appearance has most often been only a momentary happening confined to the outbreak and cessation of national wars.

The distinguishing political feature of the Polish August was not some multiple convergence but rather something much simpler and yet far more profound:  the mobilization and consolidation of the working class.  As a result of their condition in Polish society, the men and women who represented the change in Poland essentially as something that would come from below and as a function of their own efforts.

(229)  As Walesa put it when closely questioned by the foreign press:  “I don’t know these people.  Our main problem is free trade unions;  and it is not important for us who will meet with us.”

(232)  Presidium members made clear they did not want a union that played the role of a political party, did not question the leading role of the party, did not care which party functionaries ran the country as long as they were in some way accountable to social control, and did not wish to tamper with the social ownership of the means of production.  What they had to have, however, was a self-governing union.

(238)  Mazowiecki’s proposal for secrecy was precisely the kind of political move toward self-promotion that is a settled part of political  habit the world over.  Anything that diminishes the size of a decision-making constituency enhances the authority and self-importance of the people remaining within the constituency.  The drive to control others by maximizing the information one has and minimizing the information others have is a feature common to hierarchical modes of governance in all the world’s cultures.

(246)  In fundamental ways, the history of Solidarnosc contradicts the assumptions undergirding mainstream capitalist and Marxist analyses as to how social movements develop in industrial societies.  A basic understanding of what constitutes popular politics is at issue here.  The word “politics” itself is poised for redefinition.

(247)  Visible here is an absolutely critical distinction between democratic movements (full of diverse people) and that descriptive monolith, a “mass movement” (comprised of a single entity called “the masses”).  It is the latter that is commonly thought of when people brood about or encounter popular politics.  Mass movements have “leaders” who are taken to be the necessary objects of careful study, so their modes of manipulating “the masses” can be traced.  Leaders are presumed to have goals that are divergent from “the masses,” a circumstance that makes manipulation operable and hierarchy inherent.  Mass movements are created by “other people”;  that is, people not of “the masses,” people outside the social formation that comprises the movement.  An essential corollary is that movements that appear relatively leaderless at the moment of formation are, perforce, “spontaneous” movements.

(257)  It is critically important to note that only since the appearance of the broad political tradition initiated by Hegel and Marx has the term “civil society” possessed such a narrow descriptive range.  For example, the ancient Greek polis was not only a functioning civil society;  its participants were intimately involved in politics.  Civil society existed “inside” the Greek state as a functioning political force.  As revived in the Italian Renaissance, the idea of civil society was enriched in its social and political dimensions by additional concepts of “civic virtue” before being further elaborated in the commonwealth tradition of seventeenth-century England, a strain of political thought that extended to far-ranging democratic conceptions that materialized within the English Revolution.  The idea of a politically active civil society was an animating component of eighteenth-century republican political forms, pioneered in England and expanded upon during the American Revolution.  This republican tradition yielded derived organizational forms as a feature of nineteenth-century workingmen’s associations, reflecting artisans egalitarianism, and self-organized rural cooperatives that formed the structural base of agrarian populism.  Both of the later developments, as elaborated in America, were anchored in Jeffersonian conceptions of a properly functioning civil society erected upon, in Jefferson’s phrase, “elementary republics."

(258)  The capitalist response, then, to industrialization produced technologically advanced societies that facilitated social loneliness, reinforced by political resignation.  The explanatory rationale for this state of affairs was embodied in an emotionally powerful word of consolation:  “progress.”

(259)  The Polish movement was not, as some have tried to argue, a “self-limiting” exercise in “anti-politics”;   nor was it in its early phases, as others have judged, “nonpolitical.”  Rather, over a fifteen-month period of intense effort and internal debate, various sectors of the Polish populace successively became earnest participants in an Athenian polis, virtuous Renaissance citizens, good commonwealth advocates, zealous republican innovators, aspiring artisans egalitarians, and, in the end, pioneers bent on scouting out the beckoning frontiers of a self-managing republic. To observers whose eyes are accustomed to hierarchy, such Poles necessarily became, particularly in this last stage, “romantic” and “utopian.”
NB:  Occupy

(263)  Solidarnosc was unprecedented in history - the world’s first majoritarian insurgent democratic movement.  All previous democratic revolutions, including the many that failed, have been conducted by minorities, sometimes highly politicized, but minorities nevertheless.  Other revolutions, including those that attracted millions of adherents, defined themselves as movements of national, ethnic, class, or religious liberation.  As it washed against the Leninist state, Solidarnosc drew from all of those tributaries in the interest of its larger purpose of democratizing Polish social relations.  All of which is to say, Solidarnosc channeled contending currents.  Indeed, the movement contained elements of discord that embodied contradictions rather than simple contentions.  A great deal of the pioneering of new democratic forms initiated within Solidarnosc, both in practical terms and in projects that never were able to move beyond advanced stages of planning, were fashioned in an effort to cope with the internal tensions that grew out of the movement’s sheer size and broad democratic objectives.

(263-264)  Revolutionary leaders as diverse as Thomas Jefferson and Mao Tse-tung have written about a certain human capability they regard as essential to social change.  It may be quietly described as the ability to act publicly against sanctioned authority.  Once acquired, this capability produces a highly visible result, but its activating ingredient is invisible.  The elusive component is something people acquire _before_ they gain the capacity to act.  It is something that has often been understood vaguely as an “insurgent attitude.”  It has also been seen as a function of pure “will,” as in the injunction, “people must act as if they were free to act.”  This “something” can also be described as a political stance, as suggested by words like “militant” or “radical."

(268)  In this fashion, a deeply ironic truth slowly materialized in working-class Poland in the autumn of 1980.  The MKS had been wrong to seek and the government had been wrong to attempt to deny nationwide recognition of the new independent union.  For workers throughout Poland to acquire the sense of self necessary to permit them to behave subsequently in autonomous ways, they needed to earn their own union;  to overcome their ingrained fear of the party, they had to struggle with the party.  The reverse was also true.  For provincial party functionaries across the nation to amend their ways and to begin softening their programmatic arrogance and their administrative condescension toward workers, they had to be forced to confront the organized power of their own provincial working classes.  This dynamic worked itself out in every corner of Poland in the first ninety days or so following the historic settlement in Gdansk.  The process constituted the heart of the democratizing experience that Solidarnosc brought to Poland.  More than any other memory, it represented the essence of the democratic legacy that remained within the Polish population after martial law descended.

(270)  “People,” said [Ralph] Bunche, “are ready for freedom when they are ready to take it.”  It might be added that, historically, people may well be “ready” long before they have the opportunity to acquire freedom, but they are surely ready by the time they have won it.  It is, after all, a quality that can only be learned through experience.  Democracy begins with the attempt to have it.
NB:  Democracy is a performative act.

(272)  There was the case of the two intellectuals who, when asked to sign a protest, replied in contradictory ways.  The first said, “I can’t.  I have a son,” and the second said, “I have to sign, because I have a son.”  Kazimierz Brandys, who took station on both sides of this dilemma, commented quietly:  “The two answers express old alternatives, two threads woven throughout the histories of many cultures.  The idea of survival, the injunction of revolt.  The preservation of one’s existence, the legacy of honor…  In the end, however, everyone must decide for himself what he fears more - life or himself.”  It was the pride and agony of Polish history that so many chose to live what they thought.

Here was the particular social poison of the authoritarian state;  it forced everyone to pay an intolerable price for the simple preservation of self-respect.

(280)  Democratic patience is an essential requirement of democratic politics.  Despite all homilies mobilized in support of this truth, this contingent understanding of democratic forms is by no means routinely reflected in the dominant political customs that have materialized historically.  Rationalizations (such as “efficiency”) are constantly being invoked to justify hierarchy.  There is no immediate structural panacea that can obliterate this cultural barrier to the appearance and growth of democratic forms in stratified modern societies.  The most that can reasonably be expected (it is a serious step in the right direction) is the creation of structures of open discussion that people can then test and experience and from which they can learn concrete things both about the forms themselves and about their own individual and collective conduct within them.

One of the chief obstacles to democracy is not merely embedded in the problems of internal structure (critically relevant as those problems are) but also literally in the heads of people, in the received culture of anticipation they bring to collective activity.  Specifying these hazards constitutes a simple recognition of the underlying reasons why no culture that can seriously be described as democratic has ever been achieved anywhere or at any time in history…

It is not too much to say that the period of Solidarnosc was one of the historic high points of mankind’s history of democratic quest.

(289)  In terms of human experience, the singular political achievement of Solidarnosc was that theories and practices of self-management were not being explored in some tiny kitchen conversation among isolated visionaries hopelessly remote from political power, but rather were taking place at the center of a huge popular movement.  In the relationship of political theory to self-activity by living people, this achievement was almost unprecedented.  Beyond this, it was an equally important fact that the exploration was not confined to the Network’s leading circles or to the KKP itself;  the basic subject matter of economics self-government had become an engaged topic in workplaces across all of Poland.  Never in history had such far-ranging democratic premises been sanctioned for serious explorations within such a massive polity as Solidarnosc had constructed in Poland.

… Henry Norr, one of the few scholars in the world who has researched and written about [employee self-management]

(291)  By the end of July 1981, the Polish movement had used up much of the familiar democratic inheritance available as a historical legacy of the American, French, Russian, and Chinese revolution and was trying to move beyond them into new social space of its own creation.  To an extent never before attained in any country, large numbers of Poles, connected in a voluntary community of their own construction, were thinking and planning seriously about ways to erect that ultimate in democratic forms - a self-managing economy in a self-managing state.  There had seemed to be visible energy for this task, but as July turned into August, there appeared a much more desperate energy in working-class Poland.  Led by women textile workers, a spectacular three-day hunger march held the city of Lodz in thrall, even as transport workers achieved a massive tie-up on Warsaw on August 1 that effectively shut down the center of the nation’s capital for fifty hours.  The issue in both cases was food.

(300-301)  As a direct function of their prior voicelessness, unempowered people bring to social movements deep personal longings coupled with uncertainty about the public conduct necessary to express those longings.  This circumstance scarcely constitutes a historical secret - inasmuch as it is an organic feature of all modern societies.  From the perspective of high culture, the general assumption is that politically inert people - the historic word is “rabble” - are inherently anarchic and fully capable of moving in some unpredictable, spasmodic swoop from total passivity to violent kinds of action.  Indeed, much of the public rationalization of hierarchy rests upon the presumed need to guard social order against precisely this sort of unthinking “movement.”  The fear, however, is inexact and misplaced.  The only historical confirmation to this class-based assumption is found in what can be called “shadow movements” - social formations that contain little or no internal dialogue.  Such entities are so constructed that self-appointed spokesmen do most or all of the talking.  Random social collections of this kind can appear in any society fairly quickly, often on the spur of the moment, as it were.  In their most extreme and irrational forms, such collectivities (they are not, as shall become evident, “social movements”) have two pronounced tendencies:  they can kill (in America, the historically relevant word is “lynch”) and they generally exist in public only briefly before they dissolve.  

The political distinction between “spontaneous” conduct and democratic conduct is most vividly evident in this context.  Nothing enduringly democratic is ever spontaneous.  Democracy is a dialogue, and to involve numbers of people, democratic forms must be fashioned that facilitate and protect such conversation.  This is why those movements of democratic aspiration that have appeared throughout history have been - without exception - built by conscious action;  they are never “spontaneous.”  That word has acquired wide application because it offers an explanation of historical causation that otherwise appears (because it was not inquired into) inexplicable.

(302)  Under Solidarnosc’s bylaws, dues money was not only collected locally but funds also remained under local control so that the servants of Solidarnosc were structurally encouraged toward loyalty to the movement’s grass roots.  As a capstone of this self-organized institutional panoply, the movement launched a veritable fleet of local and regional newspapers, journals, and newsletters.

(336)  Psychologically, if not in all other ways, Solidarnosc defeated the Polish party in the martial-law years.

(337)  Less discernible than the movement’s persistence or Walesa’s continuing political relevance was the status of Solidarnosc’s underlying capacity for democratic cohesion.  The long years of economic privation and political humiliation were a terrible strain on popular morale.  The fact was totally understandable.  Indeed, the wonder was that Poles stood up as well as they did.  Nevertheless, successful popular democratic politics necessarily requires - to remain democratic - enduring popular patience.  It also requires generosity toward others - of the kind skilled industrial workers had demonstrated in 1980-81 in forgoing pay rises for themselves to ensure increases for less-skilled workers living on the edge of survival.  The long agony of martial law put almost unbearable pressure upon this social ethos - upon the very idea of egalitarian generosity.
NB:  credit sharing of Populists.

(338)  The appearance in 1989 of widespread democratic institutional forms in the Soviet sphere emerged out of a central precondition:  the structural breakdown of the Leninist system of production.  That these institutional forms first appeared where they did - in a shipyard on the Baltic coast of Poland in 1980 - was the the product of thirty-five years of effort that collectively produced for workers the specific  instruments of social self-organizaton:  the occupation strike capped by an interfactory strike committee possessing the strategic goal of achieving protected public space independent of the ruling party.

(346)  It is quite possible that Walesa, remembering the strident voices on the national commission calling for “confrontation” with the party in November-December 1981, had simply lost confidence in that body.  If so, that is something democrats can never do - and remain democratic.  One lives within the polity, or one does not live democratically at all.  It is a political principle that dates at least from Socrates.

(356)  But the sustained study of social movement does uncover one recurring rhythm.  The necessary predicate exists in the relationship of established systems of governance to the earlier revolutions that first brought them to power:  the structural components of all existing regimes have their origins in the internal social relations and theories of politics at work in the insurgent movement that originally installed that system of governance.  This relationship holds true whether “the revolution” happened last year or last century.  This dynamic produces the following projection:  it is unreasonable to expect any regime in power to behave in ways that are more democratic than were visible in the internal social relations within the movement that brought that regime to power.  In twenty-five years of study of social movements, I have encountered no historical exceptions to this causal relationship.  Rather, the historical evidence is compelling that revolutionary movements, once in power (whether for ten years or for two hundred), fashion modes of governance that over time become more hierarchical and less internally democratic.  Only the appearance of another insurgent movement seems to offer the prospect of altering this pervasive historical tendency.

……The centralization of decision making in ever fewer hands - the evolution of elite forms - is described in terms of efficiency, not in terms of heightened centralization.  However characterized, the evolution toward hierarchy has been a constant of modern life ever since industrialization began to alter mankind’s social relations in transcendent ways some eight generations ago.

(358)  What the experience of Solidarnosc offers the world is compelling evidence that human capabilities in the sphere of democratic imagination and democratic performance can, on occasion, outpace sanctioned standards of “reasonable” expectation.  Solidarnosc provides historically compelling evidence that people can perform more democratically than they have been told to expect they can - and more, accordingly, than they themselves believed they could.  And they have done so over interestingly extended periods of time.

(363)  There must be a means for the movement’s most experienced activists to convey their experiential knowledge to its least experienced rank-and-file member...

Finally, beyond reasons of defensive and offensive strategy, internal communications are necessary as a structural verification that the movement is what it says it is - a collective assertion for greater democracy in which the lines of conversation run both ways, not only downward from leaders to rank and file but also upward as a means of holding leaders accountable. 

(376)  Though the occupation strike was the most potentially powerful and certainly the most dramatic weapon available to a highly organized local union and, thus, constituted the ultimate assertion of a plant-sized worker council, it was  a prewar weapon that had applicability only under capitalism.  Such a strike in one plant potentially could bring one boss to the bargaining table. But how to strike against the state?

(380-381)  Unfortunately, the thought that KOR or anyone else can in such a manner “prepare the consciousness of the workers for the strikes” is grounded in the intellectual illusion that insurgency fails to occur in society because people do not understand that they are oppressed and therefore require some authority to instruct them in this regard.  The problem for opposition  organizers does not turn on this circumstance at all.  Aggrieved  people know they have grievances;  their problem is that they do not have a clear idea of what to do about their condition or are reluctant to try possible remedies for fear of a retaliation from authority that will leave them in an even poorer condition.  While the failure of aggrieved people to protest can be judged (when viewed from afar) as a sign of “apathy,” in reality it is simply a fairly coherent belief as to the predictable outcome embedded in real power imbalances.  In essence, their caution is reasonable.

(384)  Thomas Jefferson had once said, “A great deal of knowledge about the revolution is not on paper, but only within ourselves.”  Jefferson said this more than a quarter of a century after the American Revolution.  In specific historical detail, this particular kind of experiential knowledge about the American Revolution is still “not on paper.”

(385)  In ways that are, to say the least, not broadly understood as part of the received tradition of “the politics of protest,” the focus of the militants tends to center upon the logic of spoken and written exhortation.  Since industrialization began to engulf the world some eight generations ago, an enormous amount of desperate energy has been channeled into this programmatic cul-de-sac...

Their seminal error lies in the exhortatory premise - that social knowledge is essentially purely intellectual and thus can be conveyed in the form of argumentatively creative advisories to the population.  Unfortunately, social knowledge cannot be conveyed through mere reflection;  what people, all people, necessarily require is an opportunity to participate in experience.  Democratic conduct, like hierarchical conduct, is experientially learned and tested.

(388)  The idea of a self-managing economy in a self-managing republic, explored briefly but with intensity during the summer of 1981, will not go away - not in the spacious time frame to which historians are habituated.  For this reason, the ultimate geopolitical consequences of the Polish achievement, for the West as well as for the East, are not yet evident. 

(447)  Roman Laba, _The Roots of Solidarity_

(452)  The larger point is that the social rhythms of August on the coast subsequently coursed through all of Poland, ultimately engendering such a sense of self among the citizenry that movement activists were pressed into “fire fighting.” 
NB:  “sense of self” as citizens and workers absent in US