CommunicationPosted 16 October 2010 by Bob Chapman
In the movie Collosus: The Forbin Project, supercomputers in the United States and the Soviet Union are placed in control of each nation’s defense. When brought on-line for the first time, Collosus, the American computer, immediately asks to be connected to Guardian, the Soviet computer. When this connection is made, Collosus by communicating with the simplest arithmetic with Guardian. This exchange quickly builds to mathematics far beyond human understanding. This understanding becomes the basis of a binary communication between the two computers that humans cannot understand.
The computers understanding eventually leads to a unified World Control to carry out the purposes of their programming. The humans take exception to the choice of accepting the peace of a human millennium under the authority of World Control or a future of “unburied dead.”
The point of brining up Collosus was not to advocate or condemn world peace through super computers. (Personally, I do not think anything created by man could pull this off, whether or not it is a good idea.) It is the idea of how to build communications.
In Collosus, the two silicon-based entities started with arithmetic to created communications built on mathematics. How do humans communicate?
In “Darmok,” Star Trek: Next Generation explores how shared metaphor and story is necessary to understand another person.
How does this affect politics in the United States?
Coming out of the Red Scare of the 1950s, the John Birch Society was formed by Robert Welch. In writing about the influence of the Birch Society on the current Tea Party, Sean Wilentz writes:
In a tract titled “The Politician,” [Robert Welch] attacked President Dwight D. Eisenhower as “a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy” who had been serving the plot “all of his adult life.” Late in 1961, after the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, [Welch] accused the Kennedy Administration of “helping the Communists everywhere in the world while pretending to do the opposite.” ["Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party’s Cold War roots," New Yorker. Retreieved October 16, 2010.]
At this point, it is clear Welch approaches history without being encumbered by the thought process. More importantly, he was not encumbered by facts.
Then there is Willard Cleon Skousen. Along with a stint with the FBI and as police chief in Salt Lake City, Utah, Skousen taught in the speech and religion departments at Brigham Young University. In the same article, Wilentz said, “All along, Skousen’s evolving thoughts ran in tandem with Welch’s.” After losing favor with some conservative organizations and the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) Church for his extreme views, Skousen wrote ”The 5,000 Year Leap.”
In 1981, he produced “The 5,000 Year Leap,” a treatise that assembles selective quotations and groundless assertions to claim that the U.S. Constitution is rooted not in the Enlightenment but in the Bible, and that the framers believed in minimal central government. Either proposition would have astounded James Madison, often described as the guiding spirit behind the Constitution, who rejected state-established religions and, like Alexander Hamilton, proposed a central government so strong that it could veto state laws.
Why is this important? Wilentz tells us why he thinks so.
By the time Skousen died, in 2006, he was little remembered outside the ranks of the furthest-right Mormons. Then, in 2009, Glenn Beck began touting his work: “The Naked Communist,” “The Naked Capitalist,” and, especially, “The 5,000 Year Leap,” which he called “essential to understanding why our Founders built this Republic the way they did.” After Beck put the book in the first spot on his required-reading list—and wrote an enthusiastic new introduction for its reissue—it shot to the top of the Amazon best-seller list. In the first half of 2009, it sold more than two hundred and fifty thousand copies. Local branches of the Tea Party Patriots, the United American Tea Party, and other groups across the country have since organized study groups around it. “It is time we learn and follow the FREEDOM principles of our Founding Fathers,” a United American Tea Party video declares, referring to the principles expounded by Skousen’s book. If Beck is the movement’s teacher, “The 5,000 Year Leap” has become its primer, with “The Making of America” as a kind of 102-level text.
This disregard for history is why we see things like this.
Apparently there are those who do not know anything about World War II. For one, they do not know who was was on what side. How else could you explain combining Hitler, Obama, and Lenin in the following graphic?
Does the seige of Leningrad mean anything to these people? How do you communicate with anyone that does not know the difference between National Socialism, Socialism, and the values of a social democratic government?
Others, besides me, have commented upon this John Birch-Tea Party connection.
- “Glenn Beck: Drawing on 1950s Extremism?” Fresh Air on NPR. This interview is about the Wilentz article.
- Interview with Kate Zernike, author of Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America, on Bob Edwards Weekend.
When I was in college, I engaged in conversations with Mormon missionaries. I discovered that if I brought up how the Mormon belief in celestial marriage directly differs with the words of Jesus Christ, a missionary will not admit to the contradiction. I did not have any authority because I was not ordained into the Mormon priesthood.
I have seen this same behavior with some people on the right (and the left, I will add). Could I not have any authority because I know how Facism, Socialism, and Communism differ? And, how the values of social democratic state differ from Facism, Socialism, and Communism. And, for that matter how they differ from the values of Christianity.
I also know the constitution permits the federal government to lay taxes for the general welfare of the people. And, that taxes have been raised to support Medicare—a federal program—for a long time.
How do you communicate with someone when you lack a common basis of understanding? This is not a rhetorical question.