Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Notes on Samuel R Delany's Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

Samuel R Delany's book on urban development issues, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (New York University Press, 1999) brings his astute and engaging science fiction writer eye to the topic.  He has a kind of Victorian erudition coupled with all the tools of post-modern deconstruction and political discourse.

He relates his experiences over nearly thirty years in Times Square talking with the homeless and the hustlers, the small businessmen and their customers, the denizens of the porno theaters he frequented and makes a strong case that the "redevelopment" that has pushed most of these folks out of the area is based upon a fear of contact (as opposed to networking) and especially any contact across class lines.  By remaking Times Square into something like a mall that is always tourist-friendly, Delany believes that all of us will become tourists even in our own communities.  As a black homosexual, he has an unique perspective based upon his survival observations of a mostly white, heterosexual culture.                            

(pages 149 - 152)  The generally erroneous assumption about how new buildings make money is something like this:  A big company acquires the land, clears it for construction, and commences to build.  After three to five years, when it is complete, the company rents the building out.  If the building is a success, all the offices (or apartments, as the case may be) are leased, and the site is a popular one, then and only then does the corporation that owns the building begin to see profits on its earlier outlays and investments.  Thus the ultimate success of the building as a habitation is pivotal to the building's future economic success.

If this were the way new office buildings were actually built, however, few would even be considered, much less actually begun.

Here is an only somewhat simplified picture of how the process _actually_ works.  Simplified though it is, it gives a much better idea of what on and how money is made.  A large corporation decides to build a building.  It acquires some land.  Now it sets up an extremely small ownership corporation, which is tied to the parent corporation by a lot of very complicated contracts - but is a different and autonomous corporation envertheless.  That ownership corporation, tiny as it might be, is now ready to build the building.  The parent corporation also sets up a much larger construction corporation, which hires diggers, subcontracts construction companies, and generally oversees the building proper.

The little ownership corporation now borrows a lot of money from a bank - enough to pay the construction corporation for constructing the building proper.  The small ownership corporation also sells stock to investors - enough to pay back the bank loan.  The tiny ownership corporation (an office, a secretary, and a few officers that oversee things) proceeds to pay the parent construction corporation with the bank funds to build the building.  It uses the stock funds to pay back the bank.  Figured in the cost of the building is a healthy margin of profits for the construction corporation - and for the large corporation that got the whole project started - while the investors pay off the bank, so that _it_ doesn't get twisted out of shape.  Meanwhile both the ownership corporation and construction corporation pay the parent corporation as their controlling stockholder.

Yes, if the building turns out to be a stunningly popular address, then (remember all those contracts?) profits will be substantially greater than otherwise.  But millions and millions of dollars of profits will be made by the parent corporation just from the construction of the building alone, even if no single space in it is ever rented out.  (Movies are made in the same manner, which is why so many awful ones hit the screen.  By the time they are released, the producers have long since taken the money and, as it were, run.)  Believing in the myth of profit only in return for investments, public investors will swallow the actual cost of the building's eventual failure - if it fails - while the ownership corporation is reduced in size to nothing or next to nothing:  an office in the building on which no rent is paid, a secretary and/or an answering machine, and a nominal head (with another major job somewhere else) on minimal salary who comes in once a month to check in ... if that.

Two facts should now be apparent.

First fact:  The Forty-second Street Development Project (I use this as a metonym for the hidden corporate web behind it) _wants_ to build those buildings.  Renting them out is secondary, even if the failure to rent them is a major catastrophe for the city, turning the area into a glass and aluminum graveyard.

A truth of high finance tends to get away from even the moderately well-off investor (the successful doctor or lawyer, say, bringing in two to four hundred thousand a year), though this truth is, indeed, what makes capitalism:  In short-term speculative business ventures of (to choose an arbitrary cutoff point) more than three million dollars, such as a building or civic center, (second fact) the profits to be made from dividing the money up and moving it around over the one to six years during which that money must be spent easily offset any losses from the possible failure of the enterprise itself as a speculative endeavor, once it's completed.

The interest on a million dollars at 6.5 percent is about 250 dollars a _day_;  on a good conservative portfolio it will be 400 dollars a day.  The interest on ten million dollars is ten times that.  Thus the interest on ten million dollars is almost a million and a half a year.  The Forty-second Street Development Project is determined to build those buildings.  The question is:  How long will it take to convince investors to swallow the uselessness of the project?

Far more important than whether the buildings can be rented out is whether _the investors think the buildings can be rented out_.  In the late seventies, three of those towers were tabled for ten years.  The ostensible purpose for that ten-year delay was to give economic forces a chance to shift and business a chance to rally to the area.  The real reason, however, was simply the hope that people would forget the arguments against the project, so clear in so many people's minds at the time.  Indeed, the crushing arguments against the whole project from the mid-seventies were, by the mid-eighties, largely forgotten;  this forgetting has allowed the project to take its opening steps over the last ten years.  The current ten-year delay means that public relations corporations have been given another decade to make the American investing public forget the facts of the matter and convince that same public that the Times Square project is a sound one.  It gambles on the possibility that, ten years from now, the economic situation might be better - at which point the developers will go ahead with those towers, towers which, Stern has told us, _will_ be built."

(121)  Given the mode of capitalism under which we live, life is at its most rewarding, productive, and pleasant when large numbers of people understand, appreciate, and seek out interclass contact and communication conducted in a mode of good will.

The class war raging constantly and often silently in the comparatively stabilized societies of the developed world perpetually works for the erosion of the social practices through which interclass communication takes place and of the institutions holding those practices stable, so that new institutions must always be conceived and set in place to take over the jobs of those that are battered again and again till they are destroyed.

While the establishment and utilization of those institutions always involved social practices, the effects of my primary and secondary theses are regularly perceived at the level of discourse.  Therefore, it is only by a constant renovation of the concept of discourse that society can maintain the most conscientious and informed field for both the establishment of such insitutions and practices and, by extension, the necessary critique of those institutions and practices - a critique necessary if new instittuions of any efficacy are to be established.  At this level, in its largely stabilizing/destabilizing role, superstructure (and superstructure at its most oppositional) _can_ impinge on infrastructure." 

(123 -124)  Contact is the conversation that starts in the line at the grocery counter with the person behind you while the clerk is changing the paper roll in the cash register.  It is the pleasantries exchanged with a neighbor who has brought her chair out to take some air on the stoop.  It is the discussion that begins with the person next to you at a bar.  It can be the conversation that starts with any number of semiofficials or service persons - mailman, policeman, librarian, store clerk or counter person.  As well, it can be two men watching each other masturbating together in adjacent urinals of a public john - an encounter that, later, may or may not become a conversation.  Very importantly, contact is also the intercourse - physical and conversational - that blooms in and as 'casual sex' in public rest rooms, sex movies, public parks, singles bars, and sex clubs, on street corners with heavy hustling traffic, and in the adjoining motels or the apartments of one of another participant, from which nonsexual friendships and/or acquaintances lasting for decades or a lifetime may spring, not to mention the conversation of a john with a prostitute or hustler encountered on one of another street corner or in a bar - a relation that, a decade later, has devolved into a smile or a nod, even when (to quote Swinburne) 'You have forgotten my kisses/And I have forgotten your name.'  Mostly, these contact encounters are merely pleasant chats, adding a voice to a face now and again encountered in the neighborhood." 

(128 -129)  There is, of course, another way to meet people.  It is called _networking_.  Networking is what people have to do when those with like interests live too far apart to be thrown together in public spaces through chance and propinquity.  Networking is what people in small towns have to do to establish any complex cultural life today.

But contemporary _networking_ is notably different from _contact_.

At first one is tempted to set contact and networking to opposition.  Networking tends to be professional and motive-driven.  Contact tends to be more broadly social and appears random.  Networking crosses class lines only in the most vigilant manner.  Contact regularly crosses class lines in those public spaces in which interclasss encounters are at their most frequent.  Networking is heavily dependent on institutions to promote the necessary propinquity (gyms, parties, twelve-step programs, conferences, reading groups, singing groups, social gatherings, workshops, tourist groups, and classes), where those with the requisite social skills can maneuver.  Contact is associated with public space and the architecture and commerce that depend on and promote it.  Thus contact is often an outdoor sport;  networking tends to occur indoors."

(127)  [Jane Jacobs] dismisses "pervert parks" as necessarily social blights (largely understandable in the pre-Stonewall 1950s when she was collecting material for her book, but nevertheless unfortunate), though she _was_ ready to acknowledge the positive roles winos and destitute alcoholics played in stabilizing the quality of neighborhood life at a _higher_ level than the neighborhood would maintain without them.

"I would recommend her analysis, though I would add that, like so much American thinking on the left, it lacks not so much a class analysis as an _interclass_ analysis."

Editorial Comment:  Somewhere I should have notes on Jane Jacobs' _Life and Death of Great American Cities_.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Joan Didion: We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live

_We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live_ by Joan Didion
NY:  Everyman Library, 2006
ISBN  0-307-26487-4

Slouching Towards Bethlehem
“Where the Kissing Never Stops”
(42)  Joan Baez was a personality before she was entirely a person, and, like anyone to whom that happens, she is in a sense the hapless victim of what others have seen in her, written about her, wanted her to be and not to be.  

“Slouching Towards Bethlehem”
(90)  He has a shaved head and the kind of cherubic face usually seen in newspaper photographs of mass murderers.

“On Keeping a Notebook”
(103)  “The party was _not_ for you, the spider was _not_ a black widow, _it wasn’t that way at all_.”  Very likely they are right, for not only have I always had trouble distinguishing between what happened and what merely might have happened, but I remain unconvinced that the distinction, for my purposes, matters.

“Notes from a Native Daughter”
(131)  In fact that is what I want to tell you about:  what it is like to come from a place like Sacramento.  If I could make you understand that, I could make you uinderstand California and perhaps something else besides, for Sacramento _is_ California, and California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension;  in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things had better work here, because here, beneath that immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent.

“Letter from Paradise, 21º 19’ N., 157º 52’ W.”
(146)  On the whole I am able to take a very long view of death, but I think a great deal about what there is to remember, twenty-one years later, of a boy who died at nineteen.
NB:  WWII graves in Honolulu’s Punchbowl

“Goodbye to All That”
(171)  Someone who lives always with a plane schedule in the drawer lives on a slightly different calendar.

The White Album
“The White Album”
(185)  We tell ourselves stories in order to live.  The princess is caged in the consulate.  The man with the candy will lead the children into the sea.  The naked woman on the ledge outside the window on the seventeenth floor is a victim of accidie, or the naked woman is an exhibitionist, and it would be “interesting” to know which.  We tell ourselves that it makes some difference whether the naked woman is about to commit a mortal sin or is about to register a political protest or is about to be, the Aristophanic view, snatched back to the human condition by the fireman in priest’s clothing just visible in the window behind her, the one smiling at the telephoto lens.  We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five.  We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices.  We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.

Or at least we do for a while.  I am talking here about a time when I began to doubt the premises of all the stories I had ever told myself, a common conditon but one I found troubling.

(211)  In other words it was another story without a narrative.
NB:  Receiving a diagnosis of MS

“James Pike, American”
(216)  apologue - a moral fable, especially one with animals as characters

“Holy Water”
(225)  The apparent ease of California life is an illusion, and those who believe the illusion real live here in only the most temporary way.

"The Getty”
(233)  (I have never been sure what the word “nouveau” can possibly mean in America, implying as it does that the speaker is gazing down six hundred years of rolled lawns.)

“Good Citizens”
(241)  … the public life of liberal Hollywood comprises a kind of dictatorship of good intentions, a social contract in which actual and irreconcilable disagreement is as taboo as failure or bad teeth, a climate devoid of irony.

“Notes Toward a Dreampolitik”
(251)  To watch a bike movie is finally to apprehend the extent to which the toleration of small irritations is no longer a trait much admired in America, the extent to which a noexistent frustration threshold is seen not as psychopathic but as a “right.”

“In the Islands”
(281)  What the place [the Royal Hawaiian Hotel] reflected in the Thirties it reflects still, in less flamboyant mutations:  a kind of life lived always on the streets where the oldest trees grow.

“In Hollywood”
(296)  There is in Hollywood, as in all cultures in which gambling is the central activity, a lowered sexual energy, an inability to devote more than token attention to the preoccupations of the society outside.  The action is everything, more consuming than sex, more immediate than politics;  more important always than the acquisition of money, which is never, for the gambler, the true point of the exercise.
NB:  venture capital

(297)  [at Adolf Zukor’s 100th birthday celebration]… but on this night there is among them a resigned warmth, a recognition that they will attend one another’s funerals.

“On the Morning After the Sixties”
(329)  … the narrative on which many of us grew up no longer applies.

(330)  I think now that we were the last generation to identify with adults.
NB:  Silent Generation of the 1950s, which I’ve now seen confused with the generation that fought WWII

(362)    “Don’t say I said this, but there are no issues here,” I was told by a high-placed Salvadoran.  “There are only ambitions.”

… That this man saw _la situación_ as only one more realignment of power among the entitled, a conflict of “ambitions” rather than “issues,” was, I recognized, what many people would call a conventional bourgeois view of civil conflict, and offered no solutions, but the people with solutions to offer were mainly somewhere else, in Mexico or Panama or Washington.

(388)  There is a sense in which the place remains marked by the meanness and discontinuity of all frontier history, by a  certain proximity to the cultural zero.

After Henry
“Pacific Distances”
(592)  When I first moved to Los Angeles from New York, in 1964, I found this absence of narrative a deprivation.  At the end of two years, I realized (quite suddenly, alone one morning in the car) that I had come to find narrative sentimental.  This remains a radical difference between the two cities, and also between the ways in which the residents of those cities view each other.

“Los Angeles Days”
(614)  … something in the human spirit rejects planning on a daily basis for catastrophe. 

“L.A. Noir”
(653)  In a city [Los Angeles] not only largely conceived as a series of real estate promotions but largely supported by a series of confidence games, a city even then afloat on motion pictures and junk bonds and the B-2 Stealth bomber, the conviction that something can be made of nothing may be one of the few narratives in which everyone participates.  A belief in extreme possibilities colors daily life.

“Sentimental Journeys”
(686)  Later it would be recalled that 3,254 other rapes were reported that year, including one the following week involving the near decapitation of a black woman in Fort Tryon Park and one two weeks later involving a black woman in Brooklyn who was robbed, raped, sodomized, and thrown down an air shaft of a four-story building, but the point was rhetorical, since crimes are universally understood to be news to the extent that they offer, however erroneously, a story a lesson, a high concept.
NB:  tyranny of story, narrative

(702)  A preference for broad strokes, for the distortion and flattening of character and the reduction of events to narrative, has been for well over a hundred years the heart of the way the city [NYC] presents itself…

(713)  The imposition of a sentimental, or false, narrative on the disparate and often random experience that constitutes the life of a city or a country means, necessarily, that much of what happens in that city or country will be rendered merely illustrative, a series of set pieces, or performance opportunities.

(714)  In a city in which grave and disrupting problems had become general - problems of not having, problems of not making it, problems that demonstrably existed, among the mad and the ill and the under-equipped and the overwhelmed, with decreasing reference to color - the case of the Central Park jogger provided more than just a safe, or structured, setting in which various and sometimes only marginally related rages could be vented.

Political Fictions
“A Foreward”
(735)  The piece I finally did on the 1988 campaign, “Insider Baseball,” was the first of a number of pieces I eventually did about various aspects of American politics, most of which had to do, I came to realize, with the ways in which the political process did not reflect but increasingly proceeded from a series of fables about American experience.

(736)  It was also clear in 1988 that the rhetorical manipulation of resentment and anger designed to attract these target voters had reduced the nation’s political dialogue to a level so dispiritingly low that its highest expression had come to be a pernicious nostalgia.  Perhaps most striking of all, it was clear in 1988 that those inside the process had congealed into a permanent political class, the defining characteristic of which was its readiness to abandon those not inside the process.  All of this was known.

(737 -738)  The graphs themselves, however, told a somewhat more complicated story:  only third-five percent of nonvoters, or about seventeen percent of all adult Americans, fell into the “apathetic” category, which, according to a directory of the Shorenstein study [Vanishing Voters], included those who “have no sense of civic duty,” aren’t interested in politics,” and “have no commitment in keeping up with public affairs.”  Another fourteen percent of nonvoters were classifed as “disconnected,” a group including both those “who can’t get to the polls because of advanced age or disability” and those “who recently changed addresses and are not yet registered” - in other words, people functionally unable to vote.  The remaining fifty-one percent of these nonvoters, meaning roughly a quarter of all adult Americans, were classsifed as either “alienated: (“the angry men and women of US politics… so disgusted with politicians and the political process that they’ve opted out”) or “disenchanted” (“these non-voters aren't so much repelled by politics as they are by the way politics is practiced”), in either case pretty much the polar opposite of “apathetic.”  According to the graphs, more than seventy percent of all novoters were in fact registered, a figure that cast some ambiguity on the degree of “apathy” even among the thirty-five percent categorized as “apathetic.”
NB:  percentage of non-registered qualified voters

(738)  The interesting point at which the attitudes of voters and nonvoters did diverge was that revealed by questioning about specific policies.  Voters, for example, tended to believe that the federal budget surplus should go to a tax cut.  Nonvoters, who on the whole had less education and lower income, more often said that the surplus should be spent on health, welfare, and education.  “Nonvoters have different needs,” is the way the Post summarized this.  “But why should politicians listen?”

(742)  That this [incomes above $50,000 (1988 dollars)] was not a demographic profile of the country at large, that half the nation's citizens had only a vassal relationship to the government under which they lived, that the democracy we spoke of spreading throughout the world was now in our own country only an ideality, had come to be seen, against the higher priority of keeping the process in the hands of those who already held it, as facts without application. 

“Insider Baseball”
(750)  American reporters “like” covering a presidential campaign (it gets them out on the road, it has balloons, it has music, it is viewed as a big story, one that leads to the respect of one’s peers, to the Sunday shows, to lecture fees and often to Washington), which is why there has developed among those who do it so arresting an enthusiasm for overlooking the contradictions inherent in reporting that which occurs only in order to be reported.

(758)  This notion, that the citizen’s choice among determinedly centrist candidates makes a “difference,” is in fact the narrative’s most central element, and its most fictive.

“The West Wing of Oz”
(785)  In a 1991 Rand Institute report prepared for the Department of Defense, Benjamin C Schwarz noted that “the greed and apparent tactical incompetence of Salvadoran officers has so exhausted American experts posted to El Salvador that all the individuals interviewed for this report who have served there in the past two years believe that the Salvadoran military does not wish to win the war because in so doing it would lose the American aid that has enriched it for the past decade."

(795)  Not long after the Grenada invasion, for which the number of medals awarded eventually exceeded the number of actual combatants, the president, in his commander-in-chief role, spoke at a ceremony honoring the nation’s Medal of Honor recipients.

(797)  Jeffrey K Tulis The Rhetorical Presidency, 1987:  The routinization of crisis, endemic to the rhetorical presidency, is accompanied by attempted repetitions of charisma.  In Reagan’s case this style was further reinforced by an ideology and a rhetoric opposed to the Washington establishment, to bureaucrats and bureaucracies…  
NB:  speech as action and confusion

(799)  … ended by transforming the White House into a kind of cargo cult.
NB:  woo woo, also for the 60s

“Eyes on the Prize”
(813)  He [Jerry Brown] told Governor Clinton that the [1992] ticket would have his “full endorsement” in the unlikely eventuality that the platform was amended to include four provisions:  “a $100 ceiling on all political contributions, a ban on political committees (PACs), universal registration undertaken by government itself (together with same-day registration), and finally election day as a holiday."

(824)  … large numbers of Americans report finding politics deeply silly, yet the necessity for this reduction is now accepted as a given.

(826)  Political Scientist Walter Dean Burnham [1988?]:  “The Republicans, however, are perfectly happy to declare class struggle all the time.  They are always waging a one-sided class war against the constituency the Democrats nominally represent.  In this sense, the Republicans are the only real political party in the United States.  They stand for ideology and interest, not compromise.”

“Political Pornography”
(863)  The genuflection toward “fairness” is a familiar newsroom piety, in practice the excuse for a good deal of autopilot reporting and lazy thinking but in theory a benign ideal.  In Washington, however, a community in which the management of news has become the single overriding preoccupation of the core industry, what “fairness” has often come to mean is a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured.

“Clinton Agonistes”

(875)  Perhaps because not all of the experts, authorities, and spokespersons driving this news had extensive experience with the kind of city-side beat on which it is taken for granted that the D. A.'s office will leak the cases they doubt they can make, selective prosecutorial hints had become embedded in the ongoing story as fact.

(890)  The fact that an election between two candidates arguing which has the more correct “values" left most voters with no reason to come to the polls had even come to be spoken about, by less wary professionals, as the beauty part, the bonus that would render the process finally and perpetually impenetrable.  "Who cares what every adult thinks?" a Republican strategist asked The Washington Post to this point in early September 1998.  "It's totally not germane to this election.”

“Vichy Washington”
(909)  It was the solution to this problem, the naming of the citizens themselves as co-conspirators in the nation’s moral degradation, that remains the most strikingly exotic aspect of the event that came to dominate the late 1990s.

“God’s Country”
(936)  Almost  a year before the New Hampshire primary [2000 campaign after Clinton impeachment], then, the shape the campaign would take had already been settled upon, and it was not a shape that would require the Washington community to accomodate itself to the views of the country:  what was concerning Americans, it had been decided, was the shame they had to date failed to recognize.

…. More than two-thirds of Americans polled by The Los Angeles Times in February 1999, immediately after President Clinton was tried and acquitted by the Senate, said that his misconduct had not caused them to lose respect for the office the presidency.  Sixty-eight percent said that they did not want the issue raised in the 2000 presidential campaign.  More than three in five said that the Republicans pursued impeachment “primarily because they wanted to hurt President Clinton politically.”  Only one-third, or a number approximately the size of the Republican base, said that Republicans were motivated by concern about the effect of “Clinton’s actions on the legal and moral fabric of the country."

(944-945) … (like the fact that the number of Americans who belonged to churches during the American Revolution constituted only seventeen percent of the population).,..

Where I Was From
(963)  … a state where distrust of centralized government authority has historically passed for an ethic…

(1028)  Lakewood exists because at a given time in a different economy it had seemed an efficient idea to provide population density for the mall and a labor pool for the Douglas plant.  There are a lot of towns like Lakewood in California.  They were California’s mill towns, breeder towns for the boom.  When times were good and there was money to spread around, these were the towns that proved Marx wrong, that managed to increase the proletariat and simultaneously, by calling it middle class, to co-opt it. Such towns were organized around the sedative idealization of team sports, where were believed to develop “good citizens,” and therefore tended to the idealization of adolescent males.  During the good years, the years for which places like Lakewood or Canoga Park or El Segundo or Pico Rivera existed, the preferred resident was in fact an adolescent or post-adolescent male, ideally one already married and mortgaged, in harness to the plant, a good worker, a steady consumer, a team player, someone who played ball, a good citizen.

(1044)  The perfect circularity of the enterprise, one in which politicians controlled the letting of government contracts to companies which in turn utilized the contracts to employ potential voters, did not encourage natural selection.

(1071)  This gets tricky.  Notice the way in which the author [Victor Davis Hanson] implicitly frames his indictment of himself and his family for turning away from the pure agrarian life as an indictment of the rest of us, for failing to support that life.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Notes on The Persuaders

 _The Persuaders:  at the Front Lines of the Fight for Heartsm Minds, and Democracy_ by Anand Giridharadas

NY:  Alfred A Knopf, 2022
ISBN 9780593318997

Dividing to Conquer
(7)  “The IRA [Internet Research Agency] knows that in political warfare disgust is a much more powerful tool than anger,” [Darren] Linvill and [Patrick] Warren have written.  “Anger drives people to the polls, disgust drives countries apart.”

(33-34)  “The thing about our movement is that we’re too woke,” [Linda] Sarsour told me, “which is why we don’t have mass mobilization in the way that we should,”  In choosing the word “woke,” she was using a term that once had real meaning in a Black radical tradition - “Today our very survival depends on oiur ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change,” Dr King once said - and had since been co-opted by the political right as a catchall label for the more pluralist, egalitarian future than many white people feared.

(48)  The problem she [Loretta Ross] observed with one’s 90-percenters is that instead of focusing on the vast overlap, they fixated on the 10 percent divergence.

(49)  For an activist who works in coalition, 75-percenters require a further skill beyond what 90-percenters do.  You don’t merely have to tolerate others focising on different things, attacking a broadly similar vision of the prolbem in their own, distinct way.  You have to accept large islands of disagreement in a sea of assent.  With your 75-percenters, there is still so much you can get done together.  But [Loretta] Ross obsreved an excessive interest in that nonoverlapping 25 percent.  It was a scab people wanted to keep picking instead of doing the things they could do.

…You approach those people [50-percenters] by first accepting they don't want the world you want.  Their vision is different.  But if you can understand their values and needs and look for openings, as when Ross’s father fell into dread about his health care, you can, in addition to helping them, pry open a closed mind.

(50)  You have to spend a lot of time on the concept of fear, because a lot of people, particularly in that 25-percenter category, operate from platforms of fear,” she [Loretta Ross] told me.  “Fear of immigrants, fear of queers, fear of this, fear of that.  And so you can have really productive conversations talking about their fears, but you  have to take their fears seriously for them to even be able to listen to you.  If you dismiss their fears, they don’t listen.  They don’t think you’re taking the fact that they’re afraid seriously enough."

(51)  Loretta Ross:  “I think as part of the movement to end violence against women, we made some overpromises.  We told people, particularly rape survivors, that we could create safe spaces, when in fact all we can do is create spaces to be brave together."

(55)  She told them before they worry about those they were trying to win over, they should look at themselves. "You have to be in a loving, healing space to call anybody in,” [Loretta] Ross told me.  “You can’t do it from anger, because it's just going to end up badly.  So you have to asess why you’re doing it.  What’s your motivation?  Are you trying help this person learn, or are you actually trying to change them?”

Movement Building
(70)  Alicia Garza:  … the longer I’m in the practice of building a movement, the more I realize that movement building isn’t about finding your tribe - it’s about growing your tribe across difference to focus on a common set of goals.

(71)  Progressives, Garza said, too often seek out united fronts when, in fact, they should be forging popular fronts.  Drawing on Marx, she defines popular fronts as “alliances that come together across a range of political beliefs, for the purpose of achieving a short- to intermediate-term goal, while united fronts are long-term alliances based on the highest level of political alignment."

(74)  Alicia Garza:  So the moral of this story is how you make people feel matters.  And sometimes part of our purist cultre can be not having room for the waking among the work.  And because of that, we just kind of keep circulating among the woke.  Forgeting that the whole point is not to be cliques.

(102)  Kurt [white father of an adopted Afro-American child]:  “I think the Black community will go, ‘Great, big deal.  We've been grieving for hundreds of years.  So yay!  Congratulations.  Nice work,  Suck it up,  Change.  Let’s go.’”
NB:  But where do we go, what do we do, what is our defined task and common vision?

(119)  Personal narrative and emotional appeals were how a politics that presented like change but avoided real change were sold to people, so they wouldn’t notice how little they were getting.

(148)  Ben McDonald:  “Whenever you confront somebody and you win, don’t walk away from the table.  Always give them the golden gate of retreat.”

The point was not that you let the other side advance.  The word “retreat” was key.  That was the intransigent part.  You needed your vision of progress to prevail over theirs.  What was up for grabs was how it would go down.  Retreat itself was not negotiable, but there could always be ways of their retreating that bred resentment and made the conflict live on forever and other ways of retreating that made those who had lost or had changed their mind feel considered and seen, feel that they still had their dignity intact, which allowed them to let go of having to be right and having to win.

(192)  AOC:  “Some people are of the belief that electoralism is broken beyond repair and it is a dead end when you look at the profound influence of dark money and X, Y, Z ways that American democracy is fragile, imperiled, or broken.  The thing I keep coming back to is that it really isn’t one or the other.  It’s that we need each other.

“Ther are certain things that can be accomplished electorally that simply cannot be done with grassroots organizing,” she continued.  “There are some things that can be done with collective mass movement that will never be accomplished through electoral means.  And, in fact, going beyond that binary, both of these types of work and organizing are necessary for the success of the other.  Yet you will have hard-liners in both categories.”
NB:  “Use EVERYTHING!” as my old martial arts teacher would exhort us.  And there are more than just electoral politics and mass movements.

(202)  AOC:  I don’t value the things you think I value.  That precisely is the source of power.  The thing they fear the most is what they don’t control.

Anat Shenker-Osorio
(220)  The ranks of the persuadable change from issue to issue, year to year.  But [Anat] Shenker-Osorio thinks about it as a rule of 20-60-20.  When you ask people to rate their support for various issues (as opposed to parties, about which people are far more partisan and tribal), a fifth of people are committed to your side, a fifth of people are reliably for the opposition;  most people are “moderate,” which is to say their minds are in play.

(226)  Something struck her.  On Luntz’s tests, which tracked the attitude of base, opposition, and moderates listening to a message, the winning one was defined as that which raised base approval, raised moderate approval, and _reduced_ opposition approval.  Not the message that raised all three.

…It was that you should seek out ways to please your base, get it chanting in ways that encircled and wooed the persuadables, and, at the same time, alienate and marginalize the opposition.  The left needed, if you’ll pardon the expression, to dial for blue meat.

(228)  To sum up the [Anat] Shenker-Osorio method thus far:  Don’t dilute the vision to reach out to a middle that isn’t in the middle but is confused.  Thrill your base;  alienate the people who aren’t going to vote for you anyway but will do you the favor, if you’re setting the rhetorical agenda, of yelling your ideas all over town.  Don’t be afraid to call out, to woo the right people and drive away the right people.  And there was more.  These callouts, she argued, needed to be nested within a positive galvanizing mission that her allies on the left too often forget to include while deploring problems.

(231)  Voters aren’t stirred to reduce harm, Shenker-Osorio said.  They’re motivated to create good.  

...“Paint the beautiful tomorrow”

…”The entire premise of my work is, ’Say what you’re for.’  The rest is commentary.”

(231-232)  “I genuinely believe,” she continued, “it is a Republican wet dream that they have us talking constantly about everything that we oppose because (a) it gives them more airtime, (b) it scares the shit out of people, and when people are afraid, what they seek is a more authoritarian, more restrictive, more conservative kind of leadership and structure, (c) it has us not speak about what we’re for.”  She joked with colleagues that despite all her research into the nuances of different messages, there was really just one winning message for her side.  “That message is, ‘We can have nice things.’"

(235)  “What you fight,” [Anat] Shenker-Osorio likes to say, “you feed.”
NB:  Taoism, aikido

(238)  … the fight (for voting rights) should be characterized as seeking the freedom to vote.

… “We should care for our land, we should care for our earth, because it’s the American way.  It’s what we’ve always done.”  To her ear, this sounded off, because tradition, doing something because it’s what we’ve always done, is a frame that will never benefit the progressive left.

(240) The message ordering [Anat] Shenker-Osorio suggests instead goes like this:  shared value, problem, solution.

… A fundamental thing many people who disagree with you share with you is the desire to feel like good people.  If the message is venturing into challenging territory, it helps to ground it first in a shared belief.

(249)  What the recent surveys showed was that when you asked Americans of all persuasions what values they most cared about, freedom consistently topped the list… “This really, truly is, over and again, the core value Americans associate with this country,” Shenker-Osorio told the the group…
NB:  Freedom from or freedom for?

(253)  Shenker-Osorio:  “We don’t have time to be genuflecting at the altar of bipartisanship, and pretending that Republicans are a party, that they are anything other than an authoritarian faction.  We do not have time.”

(256)  An astonishing 17 percent of Americans were said to be QAnon believers now [as of 2021]
NB:  17 percent supported Dick Cheney after he shot someone in the face 

Deprogramming Cultification
(259)  Once again, they [deprogrammers after Diane Benscoter was with the Moonies] weren’t trying to make her believe anything particular in that moment.  They were illustrating the anatomy of brainwashing in general.  It was helpful that the manipulation in question had nothing to do with the Moonies, belonging to a completely alien situation.  People have less elaborate fencing systems to protect them from ideas on subjects they have little investment in.  So she could see the art of manipulation more clearly and objectively.  And then, having seen it, she could begin to make connections herself.

…Attempting to persuade her [Diane Benscoter] of new beliefs - of better biblical interpretations - hadn’t worked.  But making space for new beliefs to enter by deflating the old ones was more effective.

(262) Where cults thrived, something in the society wasn’t working right.

(266)  [Diane] Benscoter set up a nonprofit called Antidote, and these days it is in the early phase of a potentially vast project on how societies can vaccinate citizens against the virus of cults, disinformation, and manipulation.

… She wants to develop educational videos that might wake cult victims up, by playing on the only desire she has found can compete with the desire to have the world explained simply and totally - the desire not to be conned.  She imagines video listicles like “Ten ways to tell if you;re being psychologically manipulated."

(268)  John Cook, Monash University “a systematic, step-by-step process for identifying fallacies”:  https://skepticalscience.com/Resoruces-to-give-facts-a-fighting-chance-against-misinformation.html

(271)  Cook’s website Skeptical Science:  https://skepticalscience.com/

(273)  Why couldn’t the opponents of misinformaiton do the same?  Instead of answering disinformation with better information, try to discredit the misinformers!  It was in keeping with what [Diane] Benscoter had experienced when the efforts to replace her beliefs with truer belifes had failed, but then the warning that she had been deceived by unscrupulous people using unscrupulous methods had worked.

(285) He [Cesar Torres] was the guy who tried to tell himself what John Cook had argued:  that the crazies weren’t perpetrators so much as victims of a society awash in mis- and disinformation.

Deep Canvassing
(299)  “Over time,” [Steve] Deline continued, “it became cleat that, ‘Oh, all of these answers we’re trying to give aren’t helping.’  We can try to answer people’s concerns with facts and information.  And their fears about gay people, and about their church being forced to do something, and their righteous indignation about lefties pushing things on them - there’s no answer we can give that dispels these fears.  They’re actually in a place where they're wrestling with some deeply seated emotions.  The thing that actually made a different was inviting them to talk about their lives, and then things they've experienced and their stories, and sharing our stories.

(300)  [Steve] Deline and his fellow canvassers didn’t think of themselves as being divided against their targets on the other side of the doors so much as they thought of their targets as being divided against themselves.  They saw tham as being lost, grasping.  It was another way of saying that Shenker-Osorio had described about the swing voter being confused, not centrist.  (She would eventually advise deep canvassing effforts around the 2020 elections.)  The canvasser’s opportunity wasn't to implant something of their own, something foreign to the target, into them.  Rather, it was to pit some things going on inside them against other things going on inside them, to get them to re-rank these things.
NB:  Another possibility is to approach people as if we are all confused and trying to figure it out so let’s do it together.  As if we had a common positive vision.

(301)  First, the canvasser was to make contact

Second, the canvasser was to create a “nonjudgmental context.”

(302)  Vox:  “The new research shows that if you want to change someone’s mind, you need to have patience with them, ask them to reflect on their life, and listen.  It’s not about calling people out or labeling them fill-in-the-bland-phobic.  Which makes it feel like a big departure from a lot of the current political dialogue.”

… Third, the canvasser was to exchange personal narratives…

…  Fourth, the canvasser was to invite the analogic perspective taking.  Was there a time _you_ needed support.  Was there a time _you_ needed health care but struggled to access it?

…  Fifth, the canvasser was to make an explicit case.  Here, after doing much listening and eliciting, the canvasser spoke more openly of their own feeloings about the subject at hand.

…  Sixth, the canvasser, having sown some cognitive dissonance, was to seek to help the subject wrestle with it out loud.

(303)  Seventh, and only seventh, the canvasser was to respond to the subject’s concerns with talking points and facts.  As Deline had observed, this seventh step was step one for many amateurs.

…  “Only after rapport had been established and stories shared would canvassers address concerns.”  To be fact-checked, in other words, had prerequisites.  It helped first to feel heard, cared for, respected, seen in the fullness of one’s complexity and even, yes, confusion.

Eighth, and finally, the canvasser was to ask the subject to rate their support for the policy question again.  Has our conversation changed your opinion? the canvasser asks. The scholars who helped build up the method call this the “rehearsal of opinion change,” with the subject often lured into “active processing” of their own ideas and stories and background and the cognitive dissonance that might have surfaced.  The theory is that political opinions are often hastily formed from scanty information.  Following a substantive chat at the door, the subject is encouraged to think more slowly about whether their view comports with their deepest values, with what they know to be true, with their sense of themselves, with their experiences.

(308)  For every hundred voters the campaign spoke to about establishing universal health care, including for undocumented immigrants, it moved around eight of them, according to the resulting research published by the scholars Joshua Kallla of Yale and David Broockman of Berkeley.
NB: 8-10% moivement

(311)  He [Matthew, a person Cesar the deep canvasser is talking to] was a fount less of political opinnions than of political emotions.  He felt betrayed, lied to, ignored, condescended to.  Many of those feelings were grounded in the realities of American life.  But he then felt a need to assign ideas to these emotions.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Friendly Fascism

 Bertram Gross worked on employment and economic issues for the Senate and the President during the FDR and Truman years and went on to a career as a professor of political science and public affairs.  In 1980, before Reagan was elected, he wrote Friendly Fascism (ISBN 0871313170) to warn the USAmerican public about the dangers to democracy he saw developing, a more “friendly” Fascism which was as violent and authoritarian as the original.

He thought some of the characteristics of Friendly Fascism would include

Drive to maintain unity of “Free World” empire, contain or absorb communist or socialist regimes, and perhaps retreat to “Fortress America”

A more integrated Big-Business-Government power structure, backed up by remolded militarism, new technocratic ideologies, and more advanced arts of ruling and fooling the public

A more unbalanced economy, rooted in extended stagflation, manipulated shortages, more junk, and environmental degradation

Subtle subversion, through manipulative use and control of democratic machinery, parties, and human rights

Informationial offensives, backed up by high-technology monitoring, to manage minds of elites and immobilize masses 

Rationed rewards of power and money for elites, extended professionalism, accelerated consumerism for some, and social services conditional on recipients' good behavior

Direct terror applied through low-level violence and professionalized, low-cost escalation, with indirect terror through ethnic conflicts, multiple scapegoats, and organized disorder

More varied and extensive anxiety relief through not only traditional escape mechanisms but also through sex, drugs, madness, and cults

Internal viabiity grounded on system-strengthening reforms, multilevel co-optation, creative counterresistance and innovative apathetics

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Sheep Look Up

 The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner

NY:   Ballantine Books, 1972
ISBN 0-345-24948-8-195

(frontispiece) Please help
Keep pier clean
Throw refuse overside
sign pictured in God's Own Junkyard edited by Peter Blake

(page 14-15)  Sharp on nine the Trainites had scattered caltraps in the roadway and created a monumental snarl-up twelve blocks by seven.  The fuzz, as usual, was elsewhere - there were always plenty of sympathizers willing to cause a diversion.  It was impossible to guess how many allies the movement had;  at a rough guess, though, one could say that in New York City, Chicago, Detroit, LA or San Francisco people were apt to cheer, while in the surrounding suburbs or the Midwest people were apt to go fetch guns.  In other words, they had least support in the areas which had voted for Prexy.

"Next, the stalled cars had their windows opaqued with a cheap commercial compound used for etching glass, and slogans were painted on their doors.  Some were long:  THIS VEHICLE IS A DANGER TO LIFE AND LIMB.  Many were short:  IT STINKS!  But the commonest of all was the universally known catchphrase:  STOP, YOU’RE KILLING ME!

"And in every case the inscription was concluded with a rough egg-shape above a saltire - the simplified ideogrammatic version of the invariable Trainite symbol, a skull and crossbones reduced to

(291)  At the big Georgia paper mill the saboteur was obviously a chemist. Some kind of catalyst was substituted for a drum of regular sizing solution and vast billowing waves of corrosive fumes ruined the plant.  Anonymous calls to a local TV station claimed it had been done to preserve trees.

The same day, in Northern California, signs were posted on a stand of redwoods that the governor had authorized for lumbering: about 200 of the last 600 in the state. The sign said: FOR EVERY TREE YOU KILL ONE OF YOU WILL DIE TOO.

The promise was carried out with Schmeiser machine-pistols. The actual score was 18 people for 17 trees.

Close enough.

(291-292)  But the most ingenious single coup was later laid at the door of a Chicano working for the California State Board of Education. (Prudently he wasn't behind the door at the time; he'd emigrated via Mexico to Uruguay.)  He'd used the computerized student records to organize a free mailing of literally thousands of identical envelopes, every one addressed to somebody receiving public education in the state. They never did find out exactly how many there had been, because although they were all postmarked July 1st the mails were so lousy nowadays they arrived over a period of a week, and by the end of that time parents alert to protect their kids from commie propaganda had been warned to destroy the envelopes before the intended recipients could open them. But they guessed that 50,000 did get through.

On each envelope was printed: "A FREE GIFT FOR YOU ON INDEPENDENCE DAY, COURTESY OF THE "BE A BETTER AMERICAN LEAGUE." Inside there was a handsome print, in copperplate engraving style, showing a tall man at a table with several companions handing pieces of cloth to a group is nearly naked Indians of both sexes.

Underneath it was the caption: First in a Series Commemorating Traditional American Values. The Governor of Massachusetts Distributes Smallpox-infected Blankets to the Indians.

(320)  … Prexy said quote, Well, you don’t have to go abroad to know our way of life is the best in the world.  End quote.

(351-352)  … unanimously ascribed to fear of Trainite atrocities by traffic experts across the nation.  In many places the car per hour count was the lowest for 30 years. Those who did venture out this Labor Day often did not meet with the welcome they expected. In Bar Harbor, Maine, townsfolk formed vigilante patrols to turn away drivers of steam and electric cars, persons carrying health foods, and other suspected Trainites.  Two fatalities are reported following clashes between tourists and residents. Two more occurred at Milford, Pennsylvania, when clients at a restaurant, angered at not obtaining items listed on the menu, fired it with gasoline bombs. The owner later claimed that supplies had been interrupted by food-truck hijackers. Commenting on the event by the shore of his private lake in Minnesota, Prexy said, quote, Any man has a right to his steak and potatoes, unquote. California: experts at assessing mortar damage to the bay bridge…

(369-370)  reading, as you might say, from the top down:

Dead satellites.
Discarded first and second stages of rockets, mainly second.
Fragments of vehicles which exploded in orbit.
Experimental material, E. G. reflective copper needles.

Combustion compounds from rocket exhausts.
Experimental substances intended to react with the stratospheric ozone, EE., sodium.
Very light radioactive fallout.


Aircraft exhaust.
Medium fallout.
Rainmaking compounds.

Sulfur dioxide.
Lead alkyls.
Mercaptans and other bad smells.

Car exhausts.
Locomotive exhausts.
More smoke.
Local fallout.
Products accidentally ventilated from the underground nuclear tests.

Oceanic fluorine.
Nitric acid.
Sulfuric acid.

Industrial effluents.

Selenium and cadmium from mine tailings.
Fumes from garbage incinerators burning plastic.
Nitrates, phosphates, fungicidal mercuric compounds from "compacted soils.”

Oil derived insecticides.
Defoliants and herbicides.
Radio active this from aquifers contaminated by underground explosions, chiefly tritium.

Lead, arsenic, Oilwell sludge, fly ash, asbestos.
Polyethylene, polystyrene, polyurethane, glass, cans.
Nylon, dacron, rayon, teryline, stylene, orlon, other artificial fibers.

Concrete and cement.
A great deal of short-wave radiation.
Carcinogens, teratogens and mutagens.
Synergistic poisons.
Hormones, antibiotics, additives, medicaments.
Solanine, oxalic acid, caffeine, cyanide, myristicin, pressor amines, copper sulfate, dihydrochalcones, naringin, ergot.

Mustard gas, chlorine, Lewisite, phosgene, prussic acid. 
T, Q, GA, GB, GD, GE, GF, VE, VX, CAA, CN, CS, DM, PL, BW, BZ.

- to name but a few.

(409-411)  Thank you. Friends and fellow Americans, no president of the United States has ever had a more melancholy task than I have at this moment.  It is my sad duty to inform you that our country isn't a state of war. A war that is not of our choosing. And, moreover, not a war with bombs and tanks and missiles, not a war that is fought by soldiers gallant on the field of battle, sailors daring the hostile sea, airmen streaking valiant through the skies – but a war that must be fought by you, the people of the United States.

We have been attacked with the most cowardly, most monstrous, the most evil weapons ever devised by wicked men. We are the victims of a combined chemical and biological attack. You are all aware that our crops have failed disastrously last summer. We, the members of my cabinet and I, delayed announcing the truth behind that story in the van I hope that we might contain the threat of the jigras. We can no longer do so. It is known that they were deliberately introduced into this country. They are the same pest which ruined the entire agriculture of Central America and led to the sad and unwished-for conflict in Honduras.

That by itself we could endure. We are resilient, brave, long-suffering people, we Americans. What is necessary, we will do. But alas there are some among us who bear the name ”American" and are traitors, determined to overthrow the legitimate government, freely elected, to make the work of the police impossible, to denigrate and decry the country we love. Some of them adhere to alien creeds, the communism of Marx and Mao; some, detestably, adhere to a creed equally alien yet spawned within our own borders - that of the Trainites, whose leader, thank God, is safely in jail awaiting his just punishment for kidnapping an innocent boy and imprisoning him and infecting him with foul diseases that endangered his life.

We are fighting and enemy already in our midst. He must be recognized by his words as well as his deeds. One of the great cities of our nation today writhes in agony because the water supply, the precious diamond stream that nourishes our lives, has been poisoned. You may say: how can we resist an enemy whose weapon is the very faucet at the sink, the very water-cooler we go to for relief in the factory or the office? And I will say this! It is you, the people of our great land, who must provide the answer!

It is not going to be easy. It is going to be very hard. Our enemies have succeeded in reducing our stocks of food to the point where we must share and share alike. Following my speech, you will be informed of the emergency arrangements we are putting in a hand for equal and fair distribution of the food we have. You will be informed, too, of the plans we have for silencing known traitors and subversives. But the remainder is up to you. You know who the enemy is – you met him at work, you heard him talking treason at a party, you heard about his attendance at a commie-front meeting, you saw the anti-American books in his library, you refused to laugh at his so-called jokes that dragged the name of the United States in the mud, you shut your ears to his anti-American propaganda, you told your kids to keep away from his kids who are being taught to follow in his traitor's footsteps, you saw him at a Trainite demonstration, you know how he lied and slandered the loyal Americans who have built our country up until it is the richest and most powerful nation in history.

My friends, you elected me to lead you into the third century of our country's existence. I know you can be trusted to do what is right. You know who the enemy is. Go get him before he gets you!

(427)  Commenting on the speed of this return to more-or-less normal circumstances in Denver, the President said, quote, It will be a source of dismay to our enemies to see how rapidly we can get the ship upstate back on an even keel. End quote.  Pockets of Trainite and black militant resistance in city centers up and down the nation are collapsing as hunger and cold take their toll, and the illnesses which are everywhere rife. New smallpox warnings have been issued in Little Rock and Charleston, Virginia. Pressure to put Austin Train on trial continues to grow, as the long delay has encouraged his supporters who eluded the mass roundup of subversives to resume their sabotage attacks and propaganda. Jigra [an invasive worm devastating crops] infestation has been reported in Canada and Mexico today. Now the weather. Over much of the West and Midwest acid rain has been falling, the result of atmospheric action on smoke containing sulfur, and…

(442-443)  “Thank you, my sick friends," Austin said as the cameras closed on him.  “Poisoned, diseased, and now about to be starved as well…  No, I'm not joking; I wish I were. And above all, I wasn't joking when I spoke of the people who have put me on trial as being stupid.

"That is the worst thing they have done to you:  damaged your intelligence. And it's small consolation that now they are doing it to themselves.

“Those charges that the intelligence of people in this country is being undermined by pollution are all true – if they weren't, do you think I'd be here, the wrong man, the man who didn't kidnap Hector Bamberley? Who could have been so silly?”

There was laughter. Nervous, drive-away-the-ghosts laughter.

“And because of that"– he drew himself up straight –"At all costs, to me, to anyone, at all costs if the human race is to survive, the forcible exportation of the way of life invented by these stupid men must… be... stopped.”

His voice suddenly rose to a roar.

"The planet Earth can't afford it!”

He's got them, Peg thought. I never believed he'd do it. But he's got them. Christ, that cameraman: he shaking, shaking from head to foot!  In a moment he's going to weep like Petronella did!

“Our way of life," Austin said, resuming a conversational tone.  ”Yes…  You're aware that we're under martial law? It's been claimed that we're at war, and that at Denver we suffered a sneak chemical attack. As a matter of fact, the stuff that caused the Denver Madness is a military psychotomimetic based on the ergot that infects rye, known by the US Army code ‘BW,’ manufactured on an experimental basis at Fort Detrick, Maryland, from 1959 to 1963, stored at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal until the latter year,and then disposed of in steel drums in an abandoned silver mine. Are you interested in hearing what happened to it?"

(445)  “When did you last bask in the sun, friends? When did you last dare to drink from a creek? When did you last risk picking fruit and eating it straight from the tree? What were your doctor's bills last year? Which of you live in cities where you don't wear a filtermask? Which of you spent this year's vacation in the mountains because the sea is fringed with the garbage? Which of you right now is not suffering from a nagging minor complaint - bowel upset, headache, catarrh, or like Mr. Bamberley there” - he pointed - "acute claudication of a major artery? Someone should attend to him please he needs an immediate dose of a good vasodilator.”

(445-446)  "In Europe, as you know, they've killed the Mediterranean, just as we killed the Great Lakes. They're in a fair way to killing the Baltic, with help from the Russians who've already killed the Caspian. Well, this is living organism we call Mother Earth can't stand that treatment for long – her bowels tormented, her arteries clogged, her lungs choked… but what happened inevitably as a result? Such as social upheaval that all thoughts of spreading this – this cancer of ours have had to be forgotten! Yes], there's hope! When starving refugees are besieging frontiers, armies can't be spared to propagate the cancer any further. They have to be called home – like ours!”

Again his voice rose to that pitch that commanded total attention.

"Keep it here! For God's sake if you believe in Him, but in any case for Man’s sake, keep it here! Although it's already too late for us, it may not be too late for the rest of the planet! We owe it to those who come after that there never be another Mekong Desert! There must never be another Oklahoma dustbowl! There must never be another dead sea! I beg you, I plead with you to take a solemn oath: though your children will be twisted, and don't waited, and slow of speech, there will remain somewhere, for long enough, a place where children grow up healthy, bright and sane! Vow it! Swear it! Pledge it for this species we have so nearly – Yes?”

Blinking at the cameraman with tear-wet cheeks, now sniveled, " I'm sorry, Mr. Train, but it's no good!" He tapped the earphones he was wearing. "The president has ordered you to be cut off!”

There was total silence. It was as though Austin were an inflated dummy and someone had just located the valve to let the gas out. He seemed inches shorter as he turned aside, and scarcely anyone heard him a mutter,”Well, I didn try.”

“But you mustn't stop!" Peg heard herself scream, leaping to her feet. "You –“

The wall behind him buckled and the ceiling leaned on his head with the full weight of a concrete beam. Then the roof began to cascade down on everybody in a stream of rubble.

(456)  We can just about restore the balance of the ecology, the biosphere, and so on  - in other words we can live within our means instead of on an unrepayable overdraft, as we’ve been doing for the past half century - if we exterminate the two hundred million most extravagant and wasteful of our species. [The approximate population of USAmerica at the time the book was written was 200,000,000.]

(456-457)  Opening the door to the visiting doctor, also to apologize for the flour on her hands – she had been baking – Mrs. Byrne sniffed.  Smoke! And if she could smell it with her heavy head cold, it must be a tremendous fire!  

"We ought to call the brigade!" She exclaimed. “Is it a hayrick?”

"The brigade would have a long way to go," the doctor told her curtly."It's from America. The wind's blowing that way."