Daily Archives: September 17th, 2011

Robert Reich, 6 Big Lies, and Cynicism

Noted author and former U.S. Labor Secretary, Robert Reich, speaking at the Summit For A Fair Economy in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 10, 2011. “The greatest enemy we have is mass cynicism.”

The big lies:
1) Tax cuts to the rich and corporations trickle down to the rest of us.
2) If you shrink government you create jobs.
3) High taxes on the rich hurts the economy.
4) Debt is to be avoided and it is mostly caused by Medicare.
5) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.
6) We need to tax the poor.

The worst thing is, because these facts from the right-wing are repeated over and over, the media repeats them without challenging them and people accept them as truth. This is intentional! The greatest enemy we have is mass cynicism. When people really get to the point where they think nothing can be done, the other side wins. That’s what they want, by the way. That’s what they want. They want government, because it is starved for money, because it is going to be underfunded – all the regulatory agencies – they want government at all levels to function so badly that people say, “Well government can’t work. I told you.” And they also want politics to be so bad and so paralyzed that most Americans say, “Nothing can be done. I’m going to give up on our democracy.”

Cynicism, now and then ~ an interesting cycle

“Modern cynicism has been defined as an attitude of distrust toward ethical and social values and a rejection of the need to be socially involved. It is often regarded as a product of mass society, but one where political engagement has no option but to be cynical. Unlike mere depression, cynicism can be said to be more active; in his bestselling Critique of Cynical Reason, Peter Sloterdijk defined modern cynics as “borderline melancholics, who can keep their symptoms of depression under control and yet retain the ability to work, whatever might happen … indeed, this is the essential point in modern cynicism: the ability of its bearers to work – in spite of anything that might happen.”

Late 5th century BCE: [Cynicism] meant rejecting all conventional desires for wealth, power, health, and fame, and by living a simple life free from all possessions.
The ancient Cynics rejected conventional social values, and would criticise the types of behaviours, such as greed, which they viewed as causing suffering.

The name Cynic derives from the Greek word κυνικός, “dog-like” … the word dog was also thrown at the first Cynics as an insult for their shameless rejection of conventional manners, and their decision to live on the streets.

Diogenes of Sinope – depicted by Jean-Léon Gérôme