Entropy 1 : a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder and that is a property of the system's state and is related to it in such a manner that a reversible change in heat in the system produces a change in the measure which varies directly with the heat change and inversely with the absolute temperature at which the change takes place; broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system
2 : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder
A Process of Degradation—The Degree of Disorder in a System
The words above could have been uttered in prophecy by Cassandra. Cassandra is a relevant force to be reckoned with in our present state in America, and for its influence at large in the world.
Cassandra is that Greek heroine, who has come down to us as a cartoon of doom and gloom. In one Republican incarnation, she was known as "a nattering nabob of negativity." Now she cries forth in cyberspace warning of the folly of empire and evil intrigue. Find her in the Illiad, one of the oldest stories of war, betrayal, suffering and greed.
Cassandra was a daughter of Hecuba and King Priam, the rulers of Troy during the Trojan War according to Homer's Iliad. Cassandra was a beautiful young woman, blessed with the gift of prophecy by Apollo, who was infatuated with her. Unfortunately, she shunned Apollo at the last minute and he added a twist to her gift: Cassandra was doomed to tell the truth, but never to be believed. King Priam did not know what to do with her, so he tried to keep Cassandra locked up and out of the way of the warriors of Troy. When Troy finally fell to the Greek invaders, Cassandra was attacked and supposedly raped by the Greek warrior Ajax of Locris, but eventually avenged by Athena. When Cassandra accompanied the Greek hero Agamemnon as his mistress to his homeland, she was killed by his vengeful wife, Clytaemnestra.
Cassandra has always been misunderstood and misinterpreted as a madwoman or crazy doomsday prophetess. Shakespeare presented her as a madwoman, ranting and raving along the walls of Troy in his play Troilus and Cressida. More importantly, her own people and family in Troy mistook her as a raving lunatic. She has always been shown in paintings with her long hair flying around her shoulders in what has been considered luntic fashion, scantily clad, and helpless on her knees in the face of her predicted doom. But there is so much more to Cassandra than her maddened predictions and pitiable treatment. Cassandra was a great, intelligent heroine, who was cursed by the gods for not playing by their rules. (http://www.arthistory.sbc.edu/imageswomen/papers/fittoncassandra/cass3.html)
So, what does Cassandra have to do with entropy? What are we leading to in this connection? These questions came to us recently when reading on a favorite site comments to the question, "Why do we blog." For political and cultural commentary sites, the general reason is to record what is happening, particularly in America and the results of American presence in the world. We looked at own efforts over the past six months and came to this conclusion:
It was our desire to express the overwhelming sense of disenfranchisment we felt, not only during the first Bush election, but particularly during the run-up to the second Bush election. We failed to understand why the Democratic Party could not invigorate those traditional American ideals we thought to be native to democracy: fairness, integrity, economic justice, legal justice, successful interactive separation of government powers, the desire for a legacy of good stewardship over our environment, equal opportunity, and so on. In spite of bright lights, like Edwards or Obama, what we experienced was the decrepit reflex of a system so out of touch and corrupted, that it could't even muster a majority against a radical rightwing religious phalanx, intent on turning a democratic republic into an imperial empire. Why were we caught so specifically unaware?
We apply the principle of entrophy, and the prophetic vision of Cassandra, to our inquiry. Cassandra is apt, because she was given her gift of vision by Apollo, the essence or force of civilization, culture, music, art and enlightened government. During the Trojan wars, Cassandra was violated and avenged by Athena, the force of reason and wisdom. Ultimately, she was murdered by an act of vengence for her gift of insight and accurate foretelling. Cassandra is a perfect metaphore for the human instrument of entrophy in a civilization–for what is happening, and what will unfold in America during the last years of the Bush administration.
Our Cassandra exists in a hundred cybersites, each an excellent voice and record of these perilous times. The voice of Jane Jacobs is urgent. Over a year ago Jacobs published her seventh and most accessible book, "Dark Ages Ahead". Therein, she argues that America is stumbling into the same cultural decline that befell the Roman Empire. Many in cyberspace put forth the argument that the collapse of traditional American democracy is not unlike that of Germany during the rise of Hitler. We have considered the similarities and have concluded that what lies in common is the characteristic of fascism–a symptom of entrophy, not its cause. An excellent series of articles on the rise of Nazism can be found on Pourquoi Pas written under the pseudonym of 'Frenchie."
Following the symptomatic line of thought, one can see, however, that fascistic reasoning produces a remarkable common vocabulary. Some of the statements issued from Bush meister, Carl Rove, are uncannily similar with those issued out of the Nazi propaganda offices. One of the best resources in this comparative excerise can be found on …sivi smo… by Hase , a first rate East European progressive site.
Back to Jacobs–she targets five crucial weak spots in the foundation of contemporary life in the west (America): taxes; community and family; higher education; science and technology; and the lack of self-policing by learned professions. These are the basic underlying corruptions producing environmental degradation, crime, widespread drug addiction, and the growing polarizing discrepancy between rich and poor, and lastly, radicalized religion.
To answer our question, "Why do we blog?", we now look back on the previous six months and realize we were trying, like those ancient graffitti artists of the now expired Roman world, to leave bits and traces of our vital ideas that might survive the entrophic disintegration we are experiencing around us.
These are some of our generalized conclusions:
(1.) Family and Community Fossil fuel culture and its specific implementations in American economy have undone the traditional radial center of communities wherein exchange, sharing, communal identity could be established . Even with 'safe' suburban lifestyles, families are separated by the contigencies of space and time from emjoying quality life together. Missing from our American landscape is the co-mingling of generations in which cultural history, the stories, and intuitive experience of elders is prevented from the legacy of wisdom. For example, death has become a taboo, rather than a cohesive family bonding experience.
The collapse of public transportation places a hardship on the poor, who can't afford to live near service or agricultural jobs, and the resultant pollution is escalating.
Quality of life is rapidly declining for middle class families, and becoming disasterous for the working poor. Housing is so expensive now, that new families and entry level professionals like teachers, nurses, firefighters, etc, simply don't expect to own homes. The situation is even more grave for military families, who have been going bankrupt and losing their homes in droves while their loved ones are fighting in a volunteer army in Iraq.
The current neo-con policy of elliminating, as much as possible, social service entitlement programs that have proven effective stabilizers of the common good since Roselveldt's New Deal will literally shatter the cohesion that once described a government , whose mandate it was to make possible the American dream of a decent life. That brings us to taxes.
Tax inequity is one of the greatest signs of entrophy currently damaging democracy and wreaking havoc in American life . No greater example could be given, than the American people, and their representatives in congress, could believe that cutting taxes for the wealthiest– including billion dollar corporations– would actually benefit the average American citizen ( The Kansas Syndrome–an economic parallel to the Stocklholm Syndrome- where victims identify and love their abusers). The result will bring centrifugal destruction to the middle class, whose present existence floats on a huge bubble of credit, further the collapse of failing school systems, rapidly increase homelessness, drug addiction and a complete collapse of equitable healthcare even among those who can afford private care.
(3.) Higher Education Higher education is becoming virtually unavailable to millions of qualified youths. This trend, which began several decades ago, spells doom for an advanced technological country. America, like the former Roman Empire, is importing its necessary genius to compete in the global market and finding that it is wanting at home. Math and science skills are rudimentary, at best, in American schools. Bush's 'Leave No Child Behind' guarantees systemic failure and cutting of funds for educational systems unable to meet federal standards. The facts are that that American schools need more time and funds to meet the rigorous standards of the federal stipulations. And, the response, so far, by many cash deficit driven states is to cut back just when more is needed.
(4.) Deregulation and corporate maleficence has cut a wide and disastrous swath through the American landscape. While a few show-trials have indicted a handfull of greedy criminals, our guess is that most Americans have lost confidence in institutions they once held in secure esteem and a legal system that is suposed to insure equity and justice. One gets the feeling now that customer service is a euphasism for we serve–they take.
Insurance companies of all stripes are probably the most grevious offenders of contractual law. Ever try to settle a car claim equitably; Call the phone company to straighten out a bill and take an hour or more to press buttons and find you're cut off at 4:00; get a collection agency letter because your health provider is spending too much time passing the buck to fulfill its obligation for the services you're paying hundreds of dollars a month for; and the list goes on. How about credit and identity theft? Your friendly bank and supermarket is selling your life details to the highest bidder?
(5) Radical religion, as Mark Twain might have opined, is the tender haven of frauds and scoundrels. America's embrace of fanatical Christian fundamentalism of the lowest order is a bad, bad sign of cultural entrophy. Egregious rubbish and misbegotten, deformed theology are being embraced, as opportunist power seekers climb the dung heap of a blasphemed Old Testement absolutism and scare the dim-witted faithful into surrendering their free will and adult intelligent discretion. It is our believe that neo-con Christianity is creating the apocalypse they so sickly desire. It is also our desire that the more of these maniacs who rapture, the better. The rest of us can get on with our lives and repair the damage if possible.
Over one billion Catholics are now led by a Pope that, according to Mike Whitney in 'counterpunch', "guarantees that the mental shackle will be cinched up a notch-or-two, and the papal caravan that's winding back to the dark-ages will steadily gain in momentum. Wherever we look, the institutions that protect secular democracy are being uprooted from their moorings and tossed on the slag-heap. A right-wing ideologue, like Pope Benedict XVI, just puts the finishing touches on a global system that's already dominated by Islamic fanatics, Jewish settler-extremists and Christian fundamentalists all brandishing the same cudgel of intolerence and all eager to force "infidels" to conform to their twisted doctrine."
We can expect more AIDS deaths in Africa under the moral guidence of this new Pope, whose sway over more than a hundred million Catholics can not be underestimated. We can also expect a rise of hate crimes directed at gays, lesbians and differentiated others. On gays, Ratzinger's view are odious. He is quoted as saying, "gays are inherently disposed to 'intrinsic moral evil,'" and their that their rights can be 'legitimately limited.' This must be that part of the Hitler Youth progaganda he absorbed as a young 'unwilling' Nazi. Yeah… right.
Whitney further comments- "Intrinsic moral evil"? What unbelievable gall! This is the type of statement we would expect from a gay-bashing white-supremacist, not the Pope. Ratzinger however, has been much more guarded in his opinions about pedophile priests. Perhaps, that has something to do with the various cover-ups that were arranged under his authority, like evacuating the serial-criminal Cardinal Law from the Boston Diocese." Ratzinger was directly responsible for arranging a sinecure for Law in Rome to save him from facing felony charges at home. Ratzinger's intolerance stretches well beyond gays and women. In 1997, he said that Europeans were attracted to Buddhism for its "'autoerotic spitituality' that offers 'transcendence without imposing concrete obligation.' He has been equally dismissive of Hinduism, saying that it offers 'false hope' and condems its adherents to a 'morally cruel' concept of reincarnation that resembles a 'continuous circle of hell.'" The new Pope has also gone on record as stating, with a few Christian exceptions, most faiths are deficient. Deficient in what–sky god, heaven real estate?
"I found the funeral of (John Paul II) a sickening sob-fest. My favorite part was when the open book of the gospels placed on the coffin slammed shut in the wind." We Too! (Michael Dickensen Counterpunch –a great site and provoking art)
(6.) The most powerful nation on earth is contributing to the earth's destruction and rapid degradation with the attitude that all science to the contrary is bad science. It's absolute madness– all so that a tiny percentage of powerful families can dominated the world's wealth. Do they even consider for a moment that there won't be such a luscious treasure for their grandchildren to enjoy? Can't you just see these people flying around in planes loaded with worthless cash trying to buy safety? Check out the movie, "The Postman", with Kevin Cosner. It gives you a good idea of our future world if it continues as is –unabated.
(7.) There is no greater threat to American democracy than the current attack on the judicary and constitution by radical fundamentalist Christians. The American justice system on the local and state levels echoes the entrophy at the federal level. It is our belief that such radicals are traitors, criminals, un-American and should be held accountable with pro-active prejudice.
Justice is now for sale. It's a commody. For the poor, it's an unrelenting hell. California's prisons, which incarcerate more people than any other governmental entity in the world is bursting at the seams. Compassionate judicial discretion has been thwarted under the 'three strikes and you're out' law, which criminalizes non-violent petty theft crimes for up to thirty years. Prisons are big business in states like California.
Women and habitually addicted individuals are held for years in absymal conditions for' crimes' that require treatment. The same goes for the mentally ill and disabled, who are targeted for abuse by law enforcement and internal prison conditions.
Worse yet, is the predominately high proportion of blacks and incarcerated latinos in prison. Aside from the taboo topic of an AIDS epidemic in prisons, the widespread use of torture, and criminal schools with in the confinement systems for the 'soon-to-be-released', the justice system in America is an abysmal failure.
Try to get information out of your local prosecutor's office on hate crime stats, police violence, deaths in incarceration, medical attention for the imprisoned mentally ill or disabled? Likely, you won't find it, or encounter considerable resistance getting it without counsel. The horror of American prison life is equal to that of some third world countries. The moral values types would have us believe that justice is punishment period. But, wait until those prisons empty a continuous stream of bitter and violent into communities where there are only walls of discrimination and dead ends. Anti social behavior will repeat itself explosively.
Tied into the corruption of the justice system is the pandemic crises of drug addiction in America. Hundreds of millions are being spent on the 'War Against Drugs' and not a dent is evidenced. In fact, just the opposite. Opium and heroin are at all time highs in the freed Afganistan. While 'just say no' thinks it has a handle on coke, meth has fallen like mold on the bread basket of America.
Torture is now offically condoned as a state sanctioned reflex to terrorism. But the truth is that it will become a staple of local law enforcement and is already in many places . Operative in the justice system is the new belief, that one is guilty until proven innocent. Since it takes considerable wealth to enter and sucessfully negotiate the legal system justice doesn't have a prayer. The prisons will keep filling up and the horror will continue.
The Bush administration has given sanction now to the protection of executives indicated in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. It seems to us, that this is a clear signal that the brass and the government will abandoned the troops in a pinch. If one takes orders, carries them out and then gets busted while Col. or Gen. so-and-so gets a cushy retirement and you get time– why bother?
The Future: With every appointment, with every attach on democracy, with every line of propaganda, with every obvious deception and the daily specter of democracy as steaming, rotten road kill on a dusty Texan road, we climb destructively toward disaster.
Something in us knows. "Something in you senses there is more at play right now in the world than mere depressing coincidence, that all the war and disease and brutality has more surrounding it than mere chance or fluke. Do you think? Do you feel it?"
"We are in dark times. Five years of economic bloodshed and three of brutal warmongering and the worst enviornmental president in American history and you simply cannot deny that as the ruthless American agenda goes, so goes the populace, so goes the collective attitude, the shared vibration, the health of the planet and the feeling that this paticular karmic sinkhole has no known bottom." (Mark Mortford, S.F. Gate)
Entrophy: "Everywhere you look, the culture is fractured and divisive and mean. Everywhere you look it's war and pollution and more toxins, red verses blue, good verses evil, more garbage and less concern where to shove it. fewer restrictions on industrial polluters and fewer controls on corporate abuse and an administration that has so shamelessly leveraged the worst tragedy in American history to further its brutal and hawkish right-wing agenda it would embarrass Mussolini." (Mark Mortford)
Entropy for America began before Bush certainly. It first showed its danger signs under the Truman Administration, when our first hidden police state apparatus was created and the concept became patriotic that it was good to incinerate innocent civilians by the tens of thousands in simultaneous nuclear annihilation . The storm has been gathering momentum since then and finds its most perfect balance and force in the avatar George Bush, and his destructive minions.
Entropy: a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder and that is a property of the system's state and is related to it in such a manner that a reversible change in heat in the system produces a change in the measure which varies directly with the heat change and inversely with the absolute temperature at which the change takes place; broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system
2) a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder
As the Bush 'New World Order' powers its way to a closed system it is already establishing its degradation. Think of it as the principle of Shivic dissolution in the form of Kali Durga. All will be swept away and as Indra might say, "A million Indras will replace it." We are still in the eye of the storm.
"The coming years are not going to be about friendship and repaired foreign relations and a sense of our shared humanity, about equality and sexual freedom and a renewed sense of human rights. To believe this is to believe in fairy tales almost as insidous and hopless as evangelical Christians who are right now stuffing themselves with cheez-its and pink wine and praying for Armageddon." (Mark Mortford)
Why do we blog?–for all the above reasons. Now, however, we ask about our focus. If we continue to extend ideas into cyberspace, the shift will be to 'action' highlighting those individuals and entities that will help us destroy Bushites by using their own force against them. "So you pray your ass off to a forgiving and ambisexual and dogma-free pantheistic femine god and you digest the increasingly nasty headlines as best you can, ever seeking that pinpoint, that tiny speck of light way, way down, at the end of this rank and desperate tunnel. Do you see it? Is it even there? It's one of those things you just have to believe." (Mark Mortford)
We do see it. We do believe it. It's not tinkerbell, but a 'thousand points of light' that will destroy its creator. Cassandra has said so. She, who was destroyed by the gods for her vision.