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Healthy masculinity requires a healthy environment

Masculinity and the Environment: A Double-edged Sword, Trump, populist masculinity, and the Paris Agreement., The Good Men Project ,June 23, 2017 by Joseph Gelfer , Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, with its disastrous consequences for our collective future, has been met with dismay by politicians and citizens from around the world. Of course, this decision comes as no surprise, not just because of his previous signaling on the matter, but because resistance to environmental concerns is a key value of the type of populist masculinity that underpins his presidency.

The connection between Trump-like masculinity and its perception of the environment is well known. A 2011 study in the journal Global Environmental Change shows that “conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views.” The cast of populist masculinity celebrities that support Trump has also been keen to embody this view. For example, Alex Jones’ publication Infowars ran numerous articles such as Globalist Cucks Triggered After Trump Puts America Before Paris Agreement. The masculinity element is not just implicit here, but explicit, with the use of the emasculating term “cuck” and the fact that the article was illustrated with a picture of Trump giving a hand gesture indicating that someone has a tiny penis. Breitbart and other publications that platform populist masculinity views ran similar articles. Elsewhere, the likes of Paul Joseph Watson and Milo Yiannopoulos have thrown their weight behind Trump on this issue, as well as Mike Cernovich, who upped the muscular ante by asking, “How do these people know so much about climate change? These people can’t even lift, bro!”

While there is a danger of blaming everything on masculinity and being distracted from bigger geo-political culprits, it is fair to say that masculinity has a damaging effect on the environment. It’s not just Trump and the populist masculinity celebrities. More generally, stereotypical masculine values work against sustainability, whether it be violence, domination and exploitation of people and natural resources, or even connecting lifestyle choices such as eating less meat with being unmanly. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Stereotypical Masculinity for the Environment

There are also men in the public eye who look stereotypically masculine but who are working towards a more sustainable future. Soon after the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the exemplar of muscularity Arnold Schwarzenegger made an appeal to Trump to think again, using the logic not of tree-huggers, but job-creators. While Schwarzenegger may not have been an ideal governor for California, he did at least do his bit for standing up for the environment, and he did it with a certain masculine clout such as his famous facebook post, “I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change.”

In a similar way, we can point to Elon Musk who stepped down from Trump’s advisory councils after the Paris announcement. Musk makes his money in some of the most stereotypically masculine things on the planet: sleek cars and phallic rockets. Yet at the same time it is arguable that between championing electric cars at Tesla, green energy at SolarCity and ultimately interplanetary existence with SpaceX, Musk is doing more for our sustainability as a species than any other business person alive.

We can look at Leonardo DiCaprio whose playboy lifestyle, complete with a penchant for supermodels, is the epitome of a certain type of stereotypical masculinity. But his environmental activism over the years has turned countless people on to this issue, and far outweighs the private-jet-hypocrisy snipes gleefully made by populist masculinists such as Paul Joseph Watson. And there are countless other men, both in the public eye and in private life, who may look in some ways like standard masculine climate change deniers, but whose values and behavior say something altogether different.

Both Remedy and Poison…..

ecofeminism should [not] be discarded, rather complemented. In short, the environment needs to be turned into a “men’s issue.” Conservatives do not have a monopoly when it comes to masculinity and the environment. The binary between women tending towards environmental protection and men tending towards environmental destruction is false, in exactly the same way as the binary between femininity and masculinity is false.

 The message needs to be clear: healthy masculinity requires a healthy environment. This does not even necessitate moving outside of the frame of stereotypical masculinity. Ensuring a healthy environment is logical as it secures existential survival; it means the environment must be protected and requires strength. Men need to champion this issue as if their lives and those of their families depended on it: because they do.https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/masculinity-and-the-environment-a-double-edged-sword-wcz/

June 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

Nuclear weapons and the politics of domination

Power to the People vs. Power to the Bomb: Alternatives to Nuclear Domination Sunday, June 04, 2017By Ira Chernus, Truthout   Even before the first atomic bomb exploded, the United States government had a single, simple principle to guide it through the nuclear age: domination. We would prevent other nations from getting the bomb.Franklin D. Roosevelt established that principle when he decided not to tell the Soviet Union anything, and not to tell his closest ally, Britain, everything that Americans knew about the bomb. Harry Truman gave classic expression to that principle when he crowed about his power over the Soviets: “I’ll certainly have a hammer on those boys.”

Of course, Truman didn’t have the hammer long. The Soviets soon had the bomb, and other nations followed. So the basic principle had to have a corollary: If we could not be the world’s sole nuclear power, we would be the strongest.

Every president since has followed the same principle in shaping nuclear policy. Some, like FDR and Obama, did it quietly. Some, like Truman, did it more noisily. Donald Trump may turn out to be the noisiest nuclear warrior of all in the White House. As a candidate, he threatened that he might use nukes in the Middle East and in Europe. He has loudly voiced his insistence that Iran and North Korea must cease their nuclear programs.

All presidents, and all those who have helped them shape nuclear policy, have agreed on the basic meaning of “nuclear power”: The bomb must give us the power to dominate as much of the world as possible and to make sure that no other nation can dominate us. (The other meaning of “nuclear power” — the electricity that comes from nuclear-powered generators — is merely an ancillary “benefit” of the science that created the bomb.)

Beneath this way of thinking lies a fundamental premise: The world is divided into dominators and dominated. To have power is to be among the dominators and to avoid becoming dominated. That’s what power means in the world of the nuclear warriors: domination over others.

It’s also what power means in the cultural world of most Americans, which is why the public has generally supported, or at least accepted, the massive nuclear arsenal, despite its phenomenal costs in tax dollars and its much, much higher cost to our sense of personal safety.

We as a nation have largely learned to stop (consciously) worrying and live with — if not love — the bomb for many reasons, no doubt. Most Americans have probably believed presidential claims that we would use the bomb, as we supposedly use all our other military weapons, only to promote peace and democracy around the world.

At a deeper level, though, such moral claims serve mainly to ease our national conscience over our desire to have, and our pleasure in having, seemingly infinite power. If those who do not dominate are bound to get dominated, it makes perfect sense to want, to get and to keep infinite power over others.

Is there any alternative view of power to show us a way out from under the nuclear shadow? The history of the antinuclear movement offers a clue.

“Power With,” Not “Power Over”

There have been two brief eras when the US public’s demand for safety grew stronger than its demand for power. Those eras spawned movements to reduce, and some even said abolish, our nuclear arsenal: once in John F. Kennedy’s presidency and again in the early years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency…….

some had begun to explore the possibility of living life with a very different idea of power: Power means the ability to make things happen. We are most able to make things happen when we work together with others toward shared goals. Real effective power comes not from competition, but cooperation. It is “power with,” not “power over.”

One key source of this idea was the African American civil rights and Black power movements. Nonviolent civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. agreed with Black power advocates on some basic truths about power. Power is always political. It is (in King’s words) “a social force any group can utilize by accumulating its elements in a planned, deliberate campaign to organize it under its own control.”

And there is nothing intrinsically bad about political power. Indeed, disempowered groups, like Black Americans, had to get more power, because the only way to get real reconciliation between groups is first to equalize their power.

So King’s vision of the beloved community, as an ideal that can be realized in this world, would not eliminate power relationships. But it would set them right: “Power at its best is the right use of strength.” The right use is to share power so that no one dominates and everyone is helped to be free to fulfill their personal potential. “Freedom is participation in power,” MLK taught. “Participation” suggests that no one possesses power. Rather, it is a force that all share in………

From Resistance to the Revolution of “Power With”

The idea of “power with” has been slowly growing in influence over the last 50 years. However, it has often remained on the fringes of American society, as toxic masculinity has hampered efforts for the idea to become mainstream. But a whole generation of activists who learned to be political in the late ’60s understands it well enough. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they have built their political lives around it.

Now the quirks of the American electoral system have given us a president who lost the election by nearly 3 million popular votes but still entered the White House on January 20. It is surely no coincidence that the massive uprising of protest the very next day was a “Women’s March.” ……..

When it comes to power, we may have no choice. Whenever we resist Trump and the Republicans, we are not only resisting the traditional notion of “power over,” we are also, necessarily, promoting the idea of “power with.” As Dr. King and so many others have taught us, we can never dispense with power in society altogether. But we can choose the forms that power will take and the ways we will understand the workings of power.

“Power over” and “power with” are the only two concepts of power that are generally available in American political culture. By rejecting “power over,” we necessarily advocate and promote “power with.” Why not do so consciously, even enthusiastically, moving from mere resistance to real revolution, with a nod of gratitude to the roots of today’s movement that stretch back to the 1960s?

IRA CHERNUS

Ira Chernus is a professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of Colorado and author of MythicAmerica: Essays. He blogs at mythicamerica.us, hosted by History News Networkhttp://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/40819-power-to-the-people-vs-power-to-the-bomb-alternatives-to-nuclear-domination

June 5, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

President Donald Trump’s control of U.S. nuclear forces is no longer a laughing matter.

TrumpThe Trump Nuclear Threat, It’s time to worry about Donald Trump’s control of U.S. nuclear forces. US News, By Louis René Beres | Feb. 21, 2017,

“The man who laughs,” warned the poet Bertolt Brecht, “has simply not yet heard the horrible news.” President Donald Trump’s control of U.S. nuclear forces is no longer a laughing matter.

Further, no longer does such a concerning conclusion have to be extrapolated from this president’s overall indifference to reason, facts and logic. Now, instead, it flows directly and unambiguously from his explicit press conference declaration last week that, regarding a Russian ship off the East coast, “the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.”  There was absolutely no defensible reason for this gratuitous declaration. These are not the musings of an ordinary or normal American president. Rather, extraneous to any other purpose than incessantly bizarre self-promotion, they represent revealingly clinical warnings of deep emotional disturbance, especially when examined together with other blatant and incontestable signs of malignant narcissism. Naturally, all decent and informed U.S. citizens will hesitate to concur offhandedly, or to in any way appear disrespectful to longstanding presidential authority, but there now also exists a much higher citizen obligation: This is the unavoidable responsibility to speak openly and candidly about a plainly emerging existential threat.

To be sure, as I know personally from almost 50 years of scholarship involving core matters of U.S. senior command authority (National Command Authority, or NCA), there are various institutional protections built into any presidential order to use nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, virtually all of these safeguards are prescriptively operational only at lower command levels, and not at the very highest level of decisional authority. In other words, succinctly, there are no permissible or codified legal grounds to disobey a presidential order to use nuclear weapons.  This means, inter alia, that if a U.S. president were sometime to issue an irrational nuclear order, the only way for the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and possibly several relevant others to obstruct this unwarranted order would be prima facie illegal. Of course, such informal safeguards might still manage to succeed, but we really ought to inquire, now, about implementing certain other more suitably predictable and formally structural impediments….

…..Thus far, we have witnessed a new president who inappropriately analogizes the conduct of world affairs to real estate haggling, and who confuses personal bluster and bravado for usable strength and power. More than anything else, we must now prepare to speak more openly about this confusion, and also about Trump’s correspondingly dangerous behaviors. American national security can never be properly served by a president who proudly announces his own decisional infallibility (“I alone can fix it”), and who identifies growing international chaos as a distinctly positive negotiation opportunity.http://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2017-02-21/the-existential-threat-of-donald-trump-and-nuclear-weapons

February 22, 2017 Posted by | politics, psychology and culture, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Our only hope against nuclear pollution and annihilation – an informed citizenry

 

Hope-Dove-FlyingExtremely Cautionary Catastrophes: Fukushima And Chernobyl, By Robert Snefjella, 28 May, 2016, Countercurrents.org “………wherein does our best chance lie of reducing the harm and risk of our nuclear folly? How do we provide the basis by which we could begin to dismantle our folly and reconstruct cultures that are viable.

Those iconic personages Albert Einstein and Dwight Eisenhower are among the many concerned people who have located hope for policy sanity in an informed public:

Einstein found our “only hope” [regarding nuclear technology] in “an informed citizenry” [that] “will act for life and not for death.”

Eisenhower offered that

“only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Note well: they did not base their hope on experts or oligarchs or generals or silly people who are enthralled by the illusion of their own extraordinary intelligence. They based hope on a well informed us.

Implied in Einstein and Eisenhower’s hope is that the broad public, well informed, has a far greater potential repository of creativity and common sense and decency and such – beneficent functionality – than any cult, tribe, institution or faction thereof. Continue reading

May 30, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

Psychology and Culture: the Pitfalls for Nuclear Deterrence

The nuclear deterrence game: Promises and pitfalls , BY  on JANUARY 29, 2016 in ASIA TIMES NEWS & FEATURES  By Michael Rühle ………….Perhaps the most common mistake in thinking about nuclear deterrence is the belief that the larger your nuclear arsenal, the more credible your deterrent. This is way too simplistic. Since a state will only take nuclear risks in defense of existential interests, an opponent may still resort to force if he concludes that the issue at stake is not existential to the defender.

That’s why allies of nuclear powers constantly need to be reassured by their protector that he considers their security a truly vital interest. Or, as former British Defense Secretary Denis Healy aptly noted, during the Cold War it took only 5% credibility to deter the Soviet Union but 95% to assure one’s allies.

psychologyPsychology. A stable deterrence regime requires all actors to adhere to a “rational” cost-benefit calculus. Thus, nuclear deterrence cannot work against actors that are “irrational” to begin with, e.g. suicidal fanatics.

Deterrence may also fail when rationality evaporates, for example, when ideological beliefs make certain leaders adopt risky offensive strategies.

However, the most likely scenario in which rationality could disappear is defensive. Since humans fear suffering losses more than they value gains, the fear of losing something valuable will make leaders take far greater risks than the opportunity of changing the status quo in their favor.

Hence, as much as one would want to have the upper hand in a crisis, one should still avoid pushing a nuclear adversary into a corner.

text cultureCulture. Deterrence may be a universal concept, but its practical application may well be culture-specific. For example, a culture which attaches great value to sacrifice or martyrdom will be much harder to deter by the prospect of military punishment than a “post-heroic” society. This is not to say that certain states cannot be deterred, yet their cost-benefit calculus might be so different as to render the defender’s deterrence message ineffective.

To ensure that an adversary understands one’s deterrence message, one needs to have a fairly good grasp of his “strategic culture”: historical experiences, values, core beliefs, and military traditions. Obtaining such a thorough understanding of one’s adversary is extremely difficult. But simply hoping that an impressive nuclear arsenal will deter just by its mere existence would be a dangerous gamble. In the deterrence business, ignorance isn’t bliss — it might well be fatal.

Michael Rühle heads the Energy Security Section of NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division http://atimes.com/2016/01/the-nuclear-deterrence-game-promises-and-pitfalls/

January 30, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology and culture | Leave a comment

Propaganda war between the two Koreas

flag-N-Koreaflag-S-KoreaKoreas Ramp Up Psychological Warfare After Nuclear Test VOA News, Brian Padden January 14, 2016 SEOUL—North Korea’s fourth nuclear test earlier this month ended a short period of inter-Korean cooperation and restarted the Cold War standoff between Seoul and Pyongyang.

While avoiding direct military confrontation that could easily escalate into a hot war, both North and South have resumed psychological war games and tactical maneuvers to demonstrate military readiness and resolve.

On Wednesday a suspected North Korean drone was sighted crossing the inter-Korean demilitarized zone. South Korean forces responded by firing about 20 machine gun rounds at the unidentified flying object but apparently did not hit it.

“Our military fired warning shots after broadcasting a warning. Then it returned to the northern side of the border right away,” said Jeon Ha-gyu, the head of public affairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea’s armed forces.

North Korean propaganda

There have also been reports this week of pro-North Korean leaflets scattered throughout Seoul and its suburban areas. South Korea’s military suspects the propaganda leaflets were sent from the North by hot air balloons.

“North Korea was seen scattering leaflets from the northern area yesterday afternoon and early this morning,” Jeon said Wednesday. …….

Defense officials from China and South Korea are scheduled to meet Friday in Seoul to discuss the increasingly tense security situation on the Korean peninsula. http://www.voanews.com/content/koreas-ramp-up-psychological-warfare-after-nuclear-test/3145316.html

January 15, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, psychology and culture, South Korea | Leave a comment

Endless delays – that’s the system for Hanford nuclear waste clean-up

Hanford-waste-tanksWill Hanford’s Big Clean-Up Ever Begin?  Fifteen years past its originally scheduled start-up date, the nuclear facility’s glassification plant is way over budget and no one seems able to nail down a deadline. At fault, say critics, are mismanagement, frequent turnover in the top brass, and a culture that doesn’t take kindly to criticism.   Seattle News Weekly, By John Stang , Dec 15 2015  “……….The story of Tamosaitis’ unheralded warnings is not the exception in the ongoing struggle to contain Hanford’s waste. Rather, this episode is just the latest in a litany of setbacks that has put the project over budget and off schedule again and again.

Officially, the reasons are that this is a first-of-its-kind project with difficult-to-perfect new technology.

In reality, the glassification project—like most of Hanford—resembles a giant Dilbert comic book. The culture is the culprit. There are immense corporate and social pressures to look good now and hope someone else is in charge when things go wrong later. These pressures include high turnover in upper management, bonuses to corporations, individual career advancement, and retaliation against those who rock the boat at inconvenient times. Continue reading

December 18, 2015 Posted by | psychology and culture, USA, wastes | Leave a comment