Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby wumpus » Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:57 pm UTC

DUH!

The important thing to remember is that from 1957-1989 there were thousands of nuclear weapons, all with fingers figuratively hovering over the button, waiting to destroy the world in 20 minutes or less. 1980s gloom wasn't so much of "what happens when the fish are dead" so much as "now I lay me down to sleep, if everybody dies before I wake...".

I would be hard pressed to say all non-global thermonuclear war issues were any different. It is just that the whole idea wasn't "what will tomorrow look like" it was "will there be a tomorrow" (note that a TV special "The day after tomorrow", a show about life after a small town is hit by the smallest weapon in the Soviet arsenal was a big thing).

Note this doesn't scratch the surface of cold war influenced culture: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_w ... ar_culture

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby pyronius » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:21 pm UTC

Spoilers for hugosity

Spoiler:
I haven't read the whole thread yet so forgive me if I repeat too much of what's already been said. Also be aware that I'm writing this on my phone in physics class so there may be typos which I'll attempt to fix later if necessary.

I may just be naive and may simply have a sheltered worldview but i've seen very little of this impending doom which people seem certain is on the way. While I'm getting my life together in college I'm still relying on the generosity of my parents to provide food and shelter and as such my view of the current state of affairs at least economically is largely dependent on how they're doing. They are going through some hardship (which I'm doing my best to help alleviate through financial prudence) but it has nothing to do with the economy. We've always been lucky in that my father founded a small business early on and as such was able to provide a middle to upper middle class lifestyle. Now, while he has left the company, that experience has allowed him access to numerous well paying management level job opportunities. So, as I sai before, I may just be sheltered. Nevertheless, Within my circle of friends and acquaintances and within their extended circles I have yet to meet anyone struggling for reasons that seems attributable to the failing economy. In the few cases in which they are having issues (and mind you they're from all classes high and low) it's always seemed to be due to issues they would have been expected to face regardless of the economy such as student friendly jobs, low wage due to lack of education, and financial mismanagement (such as my roommate who couldn't pay rent but spent $100 a week on weed and at least $50 on booze).

All that of course only applies to economic woe. Clearly there are political fears as well. As was pointe out in the beginning of this thread the U.S. has become increasingly divided and each side has become increasingly certain that the other will doom us all to some sort of fiery nuclear death or oppressive nazi Germany-like nation of the damned. I personally swing rather far left on social issues and stand somewhere in the middle financially. In a way I would give these fears slightly more credibility than the economic fears but only by a a minor amount. I simply don't see doom and gloom down either path but in my opinion the right wing members of the nation, especially those of the tea party, seem intent on restricting various, admittedly not necessarily guaranteed, freedoms (abortion, gay marriage, etc) out of some mistaken belief that people are inherently evil and that if such things were allowed then the nation would surely devolve into some Nuevo Sodom. That just seems unlikely. In any case the partisanship has obviously grown (hence why I give this more credibility) and it seems increasingly likely that if the U.S. is to slip into the ranks of a second tier nation it would be through a failure to compromise and not due to the goals of any one group. each party becomes concerned with gaining and keeping power so that they can recreate the nation in their image forgetting of course that to do so requires that the nation still exist. Will it fall in our lifetimes? No. I don't think so, but unless something is done it will continue to struggle more and more.

Now then, this long and drawn out explanation of the current state of the nation brings me to my general point in regards to the world as a whole and the cause of the problems described above. Mass media and the Internet to put it simply. I'm not blaming the news stations though they certainly don't help, rather it's the ease of acquiring information and communicating with so many people across such long distances. Imagine 150 years ago, without television or computers you might not have even known who was running for president let alone how many dogs they'd tied to their car and eaten. You certainly wouldn't know how close to a new weapon your country's enemies were. People were simply more disconnected. There were problem and worries of course, but by the time you heard about them they might have been halfway solved. Of course in the 80s television allowed greater connection which created issues similar to what we see today but the Internet wasn't there constantly providing 24 hour access to the latest tragedies and the loudest extremists. I believe it's in human nature to be continuously hunting for the next threat so as to avoid it. Now that we have the Internet we can find every threat reasonable or not and our brains simply weren't built to handle the idea that it might be a long way off or highly unlikely. When someone we were relying on for information tells us it's coming today and we're all going to die a portion of our fight or flight system kicks in.

Take this extremely (overly) simplified view of the economy: everybody is spending and people are working, thus the economy is fine. One man however sees a possible problem coming down the pipe and gets himself out before warning everyone else. Nobody else necessarily sees the problem as being that large but they do see everyone else getting a bit worried. They all pull out just to be safe and the effect cascades. The economy crashes and they all lose. The best bet was for nobody to panic but they all had to play it safe in case everyone else panicked.

Finally, as a parting note, me and a friend were discussing something her economics professor had been describing, specifically that in the past large cultures have had a tendency to reach a particular level of development at which point they must surpass a sort of barrier or fall. It had to do with some measurement of overall development but i don't know what precisely. Examples of civilizations that succumbed to this effect included the roman empire and one of the larger Chinese dynasties among others. I wish I knew more about the topic but I need to look it up. The point however is that the U.S. is supposedly a few decades from that point and the only way to surpass it instead of declining is to drastically change our current structure from one based on growth to one based on sustainable long term survival. Along these lines I highly recommend the book "Waiting for the barbarians" as it discusses this topic somewhat. The message to take away from it is that empire must constantly feed on its people by creating imaginary evils it can claim to be defeating. eventually however this strategy catches up with it and it's forced to expend its resources on phantom enemies it knows don't really exist. it forces its own collapse. It applies to nations, political parties, world leaders, etc. overall it's a good way to look at the current situation.


So the gist is its the Internet making us panic and forcing us apart. It allows easier creation of evil villains and easier spread of fear. while there might not necessarily be more dangers fear itself can doom whole societies and we certainly have an abundance of fear. in the past the sense of doom may have been at the same level but that was because there were more dangers to contend with. These days people are equally frightened but with less cause and that's just as bad.
Last edited by pyronius on Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:11 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby mosc » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:38 pm UTC

I haven't read your whole post so forgive me but making a post that long and expecting others to read it while simultaneously refusing to read a page of discussion is asinine.

I don't think the internet is making people more afraid at all. I think it is allowing young people without the benefits of longer periods of life to draw experience from to be treated as adults. It is also making lots of people into Journalists who are both completely unqualified by traditional standards and who do not strive to remove their own bias.
Last edited by mosc on Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:51 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby pyronius » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:49 pm UTC

i plan to read the rest... i was entertaining myself by writing. i don't necessarily expect everyone or in fact anyone to read it all, its just there if they care to take a gander.

edit: it has now been read.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby GangsterFiction » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:55 am UTC

Ever-so-slightly off-topic, but it was dying anyway . . . It occurs to me that the older generation often talk about "the good old days" and how much better things were back then; how much nicer people were to each other . . . (I could go on, but I won't). Indeed, the classic line is usually "We never had to even lock our front door" (yeah, cuz you had nothing worth stealing!).

However, as a lifetime student of history--and I'm now rapidly approaching being a member of that 'older generation' myself, I hasten to add--it occurs to me that things "back then" were often just as bad in so many, many ways, and usually even worse than they are now. The difference? These days, we're kept constantly informed about all the bad shit happening out there, and via so many different mediums.

My point? Maybe being kept in the dark is precisely what made those "the good old days". . .

Damn, that was deep--for me. Time for another drink, clearly.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:12 am UTC

GangsterFiction wrote:My point? Maybe being kept in the dark is precisely what made those "the good old days". . .


ignorance is bliss after all.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby jules.LT » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:31 pm UTC

mosc wrote:I think it is allowing young people without the benefits of longer periods of life to draw experience from to be treated as adults. It is also making lots of people into Journalists who are both completely unqualified by traditional standards and who do not strive to remove their own bias.

I don't know about that. It seems to me that experienced people are just as likely to be set in their ways and less open to ideas outside their entrenched biases.

In the "good old days", people strongly believed in ideologies such as communism, fascism, etc. They were incredibly ethnocentric in their views by today's standards. Authorities (political, scientific, religious or other) had a much stronger power to weed out dissenting opinions, etc.

These were simpler times, and therefore much more reassuring. But also much more biased.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby mosc » Fri Jun 15, 2012 2:48 pm UTC

jules.LT wrote:
mosc wrote:I think it is allowing young people without the benefits of longer periods of life to draw experience from to be treated as adults. It is also making lots of people into Journalists who are both completely unqualified by traditional standards and who do not strive to remove their own bias.

I don't know about that. It seems to me that experienced people are just as likely to be set in their ways and less open to ideas outside their entrenched biases.

In the "good old days", people strongly believed in ideologies such as communism, fascism, etc. They were incredibly ethnocentric in their views by today's standards. Authorities (political, scientific, religious or other) had a much stronger power to weed out dissenting opinions, etc.

These were simpler times, and therefore much more reassuring. But also much more biased.

Nope, I pretty much disagree with all of that. People believed in ideologies just about exactly as much as they always have. Ideologies come and go but the level of believe is consistent throughout history in my opinion. Authorities in the "good old days" were not stronger.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby jules.LT » Fri Jun 15, 2012 3:07 pm UTC

mosc wrote:Nope, I pretty much disagree with all of that. People believed in ideologies just about exactly as much as they always have. Ideologies come and go but the level of believe is consistent throughout history in my opinion. Authorities in the "good old days" were not stronger.

You don't believe that postmodernity exists?
You don't believe that ethnocentrism has decreased significantly as peoples have learnt more and more about each other?
You don't believe that authorities have less control on people's thoughts in the information age?

Then I can do nothing for you.

Edited to include what I was answering to.
Last edited by jules.LT on Mon Jun 18, 2012 2:53 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby Soralin » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:11 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:
GangsterFiction wrote:My point? Maybe being kept in the dark is precisely what made those "the good old days". . .


ignorance is bliss after all.

Or simply because they were children at the time, and so didn't notice those things? :)
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby pyronius » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:02 am UTC

mosc wrote:
jules.LT wrote:
mosc wrote:I think it is allowing young people without the benefits of longer periods of life to draw experience from to be treated as adults. It is also making lots of people into Journalists who are both completely unqualified by traditional standards and who do not strive to remove their own bias.

I don't know about that. It seems to me that experienced people are just as likely to be set in their ways and less open to ideas outside their entrenched biases.

In the "good old days", people strongly believed in ideologies such as communism, fascism, etc. They were incredibly ethnocentric in their views by today's standards. Authorities (political, scientific, religious or other) had a much stronger power to weed out dissenting opinions, etc.

These were simpler times, and therefore much more reassuring. But also much more biased.

Authorities in the "good old days" were not stronger.


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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby Jumble » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:30 am UTC

Sorry, just place marking this. I want to pitch into this debate given I have one foot in Gods waiting room already. Problem is that I am celebrating the 50 year storm hitting the UK by camping in a muddy scout field with 300 other parents from my daughters school and I need to get back there. I'll never find this thread on an iphone. I'll get back to you al later...
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby wumpus » Sat Jun 16, 2012 6:25 pm UTC

jules.LT wrote:You don't believe that postmodernity exists?
You don't believe that ethnocentrism has decreased significantly as peoples have learnt more and more about each other?
You don't believe that authorities have less control on people's thoughts in the information age?

Then I can do nothing for you.


I fail to see how these statements imply a non-existence of a sense of doom.
"You don't believe that authorities have less control on people's thoughts in the information age?" Note that much of the sense of doom that now exists is likely centered around complete lack of trust of the authorities. Thirty years ago public thought (at least in the US) was molded such that doom was largely based on fear of Russian action (although fear of Reagan pushing the button was easily second. He was crazy enough that they couldn't edit this completely out).

Humans are not Vulcans. Also the endless exponential creep of world population makes old problems bigger. You simply have to solve old problems as new ones pop up. Like the Red Queen, we run fast just to stand still.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby Jorpho » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:10 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:Note that much of the sense of doom that now exists is likely centered around complete lack of trust of the authorities. Thirty years ago public thought (at least in the US) was molded such that doom was largely based on fear of Russian action (although fear of Reagan pushing the button was easily second. He was crazy enough that they couldn't edit this completely out).
Really? Nancy wigging about with the astrology wasn't a big deal?

I might also have thought the assassination attempt would be rather indicative of a certain lack of trust, but that's probably a bit specious.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby webzter_again » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:53 am UTC

I was born in '77... so, I do remember some of the 80's. I'm sure a large part of my childhood view of the world was shaped from growing up on a military base, but I was acutely aware of the signage for fallout shelters when out and about (fairly prominent at the mall). I remember sort of a morbid sense that, if a nuclear exchange with Russia happened, at least we were one of the targets so I wouldn't have to worry about living in the aftermath, if there was a world left.

Reagan falling asleep and accidentally pushing the red launch button was common comedy schtick.

Acid rain was a prominent concern in the 80's.

The war on drugs went into full swing under Reagan.

AIDS was first clinically observed in the US in 1981. I remember it being a very hyped issue during my childhood.

Don't forget Farm Aid as a response to the drought and economic hardship that was hitting American farmers

So, at least to 8 year old me, yeah, there was a lot of doom and gloom back then. Heck, we got cable for the very first time... on January 28th, 1986. The cable guy finished up around 11:15 and then stuck around to watch the shuttle launch with us.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jun 17, 2012 2:49 am UTC

wumpus wrote:I fail to see how these statements imply a non-existence of a sense of doom.
They don't. What they imply are precisely the kinds of societal changes jules.LT meant for them to imply.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby jules.LT » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:48 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:endless exponential creep of world population

World population growth peaked half a century ago, so definitely not "exponential"
("The constant-fertility variant is presented for illustrative purposes")
As for the population itself, estimates put its peak between 9 and 10 billion between 2050 and 2100, so not "endless" either.
Last edited by jules.LT on Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:57 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby webzter_again » Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:55 pm UTC

c_programmer wrote:(give me the name of your great, great, great grandfather on either side of you think I'm wrong).


I don't think you're wrong... but my wife and I do have our family trees back quite a ways. I think someone must have played a Tolkien joke on her side though, a good chunk of names on her grandma's side turn into Underhill in the 1300's. John Underhill (no, not that John Underhill).

On her dad's side, a good chunk of the Bogers* still live on Boger Rd and many more of them are buried at Boger cemetery. They had their 150th family reunion in 2000.

* Note, not real last name.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby wumpus » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:39 pm UTC

jules.LT wrote:As for the population itself, estimates put its peak between 9 and 10 billion between 2050 and 2100, so not "endless" either.


The definition of an exponential function is one where growth is a function of size (i.e. one where each human produces x kids). Last I heard, infant mortality is steeply falling in Africa: expect the population to rise again. Also, a huge part of that has to be the Chinese zero reproduction rights program. While it is working well now (the people grew the economy instead of the population) it will get nasty once the pre-1 kid population gets old and all 4 grandparents expect to be supported by a single grandkid. It will be hard to convince other places to expect Chinese reproductive controls.

Western Europe's stabilization (and the US seems to largely grow by immigration and immigrant's kids) is a hope for humanity, Malthus isn't going anywhere soon.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:14 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:The definition of an exponential function is one where growth is a function of size (i.e. one where each human produces x kids).
Were you under the impression anyone here didn't know that? What that analysis ignores is that x can average out to 1.0 (successfully reproducing) child per person, for a constant population size, or less than 1, for a decreasing population.

Also, if x changes over time (which it clearly has), it's not an exponential function.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby oxoiron » Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:49 pm UTC

webzter_again wrote:I was born in '77...Heck, we got cable for the very first time... on January 28th, 1986. The cable guy finished up around 11:15 and then stuck around to watch the shuttle launch with us.
Why were you not in school that day? I remember hearing about it in the hall between classes.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:10 pm UTC

Yeah, it was a Tuesday.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby jules.LT » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:27 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:Last I heard, infant mortality is steeply falling in Africa: expect the population to rise again. Also, a huge part of that has to be the Chinese zero reproduction rights program. While it is working well now (the people grew the economy instead of the population) it will get nasty once the pre-1 kid population gets old and all 4 grandparents expect to be supported by a single grandkid. It will be hard to convince other places to expect Chinese reproductive controls.

Western Europe's stabilization (and the US seems to largely grow by immigration and immigrant's kids) is a hope for humanity, Malthus isn't going anywhere soon.

Learn about demographic transitions.
Watch Hans Rosling presentations.
Read up that UN study I linked to.
Populations will keep growing for a while. Population growth will keep falling. Malthus is gone.
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby cphite » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:29 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:It seems reasonable to suggest that it is easy to come up with a grim outlook of the future in general at this point: ruthless bipartisanship in the US, financial meltdowns, global warming, fossil fuel depletion, ignorance ruling the day, and so on and so forth.


But all of those things have been happening for a really, really, really long time. There has always been partisanship in politics; there have been financial meltdowns; there has been fear of climate change (in both directions - in the 70's it was believed we were heading for a global freeze); there have been shortages of things like food, fuel, and so forth; and ignorance isn't a new phenomenon.

So, a question: did things seem was it comparatively easy to see things as just as utterly hopeless back in the 80's? Reagan in the White House with his wife planning things by astrology, the looming threat of the Cold War, Iran-Contra, the Savings & Loan crisis, and probably a whole bunch of other things that I was too young to appreciate at the time?


I remember the 1980's as being rather stressful; the economy was bad for a lot of people (higher unemployment here in the US than we have now) and there was a constant threat of war with the Soviet Union. In the 1970's there was the stagnant economy, fuel shortages, and the looming threat of war. In the 1960's there was the fight for civil rights (a good thing, but still a trying time for the folks involved), the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the 1950's there were multiple conflicts involving Communism; famine in Africa, etc. In the 1940's there was global war. In the 1930's there was the Great Depression, civil wars in China, Spain, and the rise of authoritarianism all around the globe. Etc... etc..

The point is there is always something for every generation to worry about.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby webzter_again » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:02 am UTC

oxoiron wrote:
webzter_again wrote:I was born in '77...Heck, we got cable for the very first time... on January 28th, 1986. The cable guy finished up around 11:15 and then stuck around to watch the shuttle launch with us.
Why were you not in school that day? I remember hearing about it in the hall between classes.


I was home-schooled k-12.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby pyronius » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:57 am UTC

cphite wrote:
Jorpho wrote:It seems reasonable to suggest that it is easy to come up with a grim outlook of the future in general at this point: ruthless bipartisanship in the US, financial meltdowns, global warming, fossil fuel depletion, ignorance ruling the day, and so on and so forth.


But all of those things have been happening for a really, really, really long time. There has always been partisanship in politics; there have been financial meltdowns; there has been fear of climate change (in both directions - in the 70's it was believed we were heading for a global freeze); there have been shortages of things like food, fuel, and so forth; and ignorance isn't a new phenomenon.


there's always been partisanship, but supposedly its currently at an all time high (or at least a 25 year high). this is largely due to internet echo chamber effects and the fact that as the nation has grown both in size and infrastructure we've had not only more places to go in terms of finding somewhere we fit in, but also a greater ability to actually get there. in essence, when the US was just 13 states you could only go so far and there was only so much space. differing opinions were inescapable. nowdays we've solidly divided ourselves into teams. blue team is on either side and red team has taken the middle ground. even in the civil war the division was largely influenced by geography due to plantations requiring the sun found in the southern states, it wasn't entirely ideological.

this ability to move about until you find somewhere everyone agrees with you is exponentially increased on the internet. when was the last time you think any of the more liberal members of this site visited the fox news site to hear what the other side has to say? granted, the fox news comment section is laughably awful (seriously, give it a try some day, it's fantastic) but you get my point.

a recent study did in fact quantify the amount of partisanship and put it at at least a twenty five year high by the way. http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2 ... -year-high mind you, that's only since the began measuring in 1987 but i strongly believe the trend would hold for the most part as you ventured into the past. I hate to pick sides on any issue, but i really do have to say that i see it as largely being a problem with the current state of the republican party. a lot of old republicans will tell you that the new breed are more zealot than politician. when you have every member sign an agreement to do or not do ANYTHING at all costs its really not a good sign because it tells you they aren't actually looking at all the options, rather they're looking at all the attractive options feasible or not.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby wumpus » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:49 pm UTC

pyronius wrote:there's always been partisanship, but supposedly its currently at an all time high (or at least a 25 year high).


I'm old enough to remember 1987 and it wasn't terribly partisan. Example: Bloom County (an openly liberal comic strip) ran a series in 1988 on the then election between Bush (the elder) and Dukakis (who may have been the last politician willing to be called a liberal). The cartoon had each character in the strip completely undecided between the "shrimp" (Dukakis) or the "wimp" (Bush). Shrimp or wimp? Shrimp or wimp? Could you imagine such a run today? (Ok, so we haven't had a pair of such weak candidates since 2000 but you didn't see it then either).

I'm curious if any older xkcd'ers remember earlier times. I've certainly read about polls at the time where people [using this term broadly] thought the Ohio National Guard didn't shoot enough hippies (Kent State), but I wasn't around. The earliest time I'm sure about being worse than now is the New Deal: there simply isn't any hate that resembles Roosevelt hate. This hate lasted well until the deaths of the haters and was sometime passed onto the children and grandchildren (back in the 1980s history teachers would mention encountering these multigenerational haters. Think how Castro is thought of in Florida).

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby IcedT » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:58 pm UTC

I've actually been dealing with the sense of doom myself. Not on the scale of "things used to be so amazing" (they didn't) or "we're on the brink of total annihilation" (we're not), but I have a sense that we've stalled in our progress and are moving backwards in a lot of ways. We're in a global economic crisis that is, in absolute terms, the biggest since the Great Depression. Big crises like this tend to put people under pressure, make them more irrational and violent, and we're seeing revolutions across the Middle East and a wave of Islamophobia in Europe. The Eurozone may disintegrate, damaging the world economy even further and undermining Europe's peace. Far-right and far-left movements are gaining ground internationally. Syria has fired on Turkish planes and the Turks want NATO action. Our congress is stuffed with idiot Tea Party freshmen, and competent, moderate legislators feel compelled to retire on us, or are losing primaries to the idiot radicals. Our presidential election is a toss-up between the incumbent and a yuppie vulture whose proposed policies seem to be every kind of counterproductive. China is pressing territorial claims and its government can no longer justify itself with high growth. Our relative decline is creating a vacuum and it's hard to know what will take its place.

On the one hand, there's a lot to be optimistic about. On the other, things are shakier than they've ever been in my lifetime. I foresee much tougher economic times and potentially a lot more large-scale violence than we've had in the 15-20 years prior to the financial crisis.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:52 am UTC

One thing about the US is that until 9/11 we have never been hit on the contiguous 48. All the bad things that happened everywhere else never came home to us. They were off in the distance. And politicians have been banging the drum about it hard ever since. FUD.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:30 am UTC

No, it had just been quite a long time since we were "hit" in the contiguous 48 (or fewer, as the case was during prior wars on American soil).
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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby IcedT » Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:50 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:No, it had just been quite a long time since we were "hit" in the contiguous 48 (or fewer, as the case was during prior wars on American soil).

I think everyone is aware that the War of 1812 happened. But seeing as it was pretty brief, relatively bloodless and happened 189 years before 9/11 it doesn't have a lot of bearing on the present zeitgeist. Not to mention we invaded Canada before there was any fighting on US soil. So I think people can be forgiven for not putting it in the same ballpark as an unprovoked mass attack on a civilian target during what we'd perceived as a time of relative peace and stability.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:44 am UTC

It was meant to contrast the fact that almost all of Europe and a considerable portion of Asia have been victims of modern warfare while this hemisphere hasn't. Prior to the end of the Civil War large conflicts were Army to Army. Civilians were mere bagattella who were unlucky to be close to the action. IcedT's iconsake developed the beginnings of the idea that the civilian populace had to be defeated to defeat the military, an idea which came into full bloom during 1935 to 1945.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby wumpus » Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:54 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote: Prior to the end of the Civil War large conflicts were Army to Army.


While the armies in the US Civil War largely fought each other, there were certainly enough "civilian" attacks on one another (this is likely true for every civil war/revolution (including the US revolution) ever fought). Try googling "bleeding Kansas" for examples. Domestic terrorism has a long history in the US.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 26, 2012 1:44 pm UTC

wumpus wrote:
morriswalters wrote: Prior to the end of the Civil War large conflicts were Army to Army.


While the armies in the US Civil War largely fought each other, there were certainly enough "civilian" attacks on one another (this is likely true for every civil war/revolution (including the US revolution) ever fought). Try googling "bleeding Kansas" for examples. Domestic terrorism has a long history in the US.


I was thinking more of foreign attacks on US soil on the lower 48. So now I'll clarify precisely. In the memory of no one now extant has the lower 48 been attacked by non US citizens by weapons capable of mass destruction which caused loss of life exceeding a thousand since give or take 1900 until 9/11. Does that limit it sufficiently? I now am feeling angst and despair.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby wumpus » Tue Jun 26, 2012 3:46 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:
wumpus wrote:
morriswalters wrote: Prior to the end of the Civil War large conflicts were Army to Army.


While the armies in the US Civil War largely fought each other, there were certainly enough "civilian" attacks on one another (this is likely true for every civil war/revolution (including the US revolution) ever fought). Try googling "bleeding Kansas" for examples. Domestic terrorism has a long history in the US.


I was thinking more of foreign attacks on US soil on the lower 48. So now I'll clarify precisely. In the memory of no one now extant has the lower 48 been attacked by non US citizens by weapons capable of mass destruction which caused loss of life exceeding a thousand since give or take 1900 until 9/11. Does that limit it sufficiently? I now am feeling angst and despair.


The title of the thread is "Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?". It became blindingly obvious after October 4, 1957 [launch of sputnik] that "weapons of mass destruction" could rain down on the lower 48 at any moment. That pervasive sense of doom was largely lifted after 1989 (a bit under 30 years). There really is no way to compare the destructive force of 3-4 jets full of gas vs. an arsenal of SS-9s (or minutemen for those targeted by US forces).

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 26, 2012 4:43 pm UTC

Actually my memories of the part of those days where I was an adult, don't include a whole lot of memories of doom and gloom. When you thought about Nuclear War it at all it was something not very real. People were sometimes afraid and it was there all the time, but mostly you put it aside. You can't worry all the time. Popular culture reflected it, but didn't live in it. And nobody stood around telling us over and over to fear it. By the late eighties things were looking up, no ongoing war. The USSR was no longer the bogeyman, China was still waking up. Some foreign nuts tried to blow up a highrise in New York, but who can knock down a highrise, right. So, no, I don't think an ocean full of Polaris subs carrying enough destructive power to kill every man woman and child on the entire planet, along with missiles in the central US in hardened silos, all carry mirv's, impacted us as much as those men in those jets. You can't escape it today, it's shoved in your face minute to minute, and the repetition reinforces the idea that the world is going to hell. Who wouldn't feel gloomy. Oh and did I mention the Doomsday Clock has been restarted. And by the way there are at least 5000 nukes available in the US still, not to mention the ones elsewhere. So I guess the answer is hell no.

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Re: Did the same pervasive sense of doom exist 30 years ago?

Postby Bharrata » Wed Jun 27, 2012 12:58 am UTC

No one's mentioned Voegelin's work yet?

The eschaton will never be made immanent, whether you view it positively or negatively. But even though it's never happened, it just might tomorrow - so live in crushing fear or manic idealism. :mrgreen:

Really what I'm saying is some - but by no means all - humans like to try and live in the past or the future, because they will always be stuck in the present. Different visions of those two just-out-of-reach temporal points will be based on a person's temperament.


Someone bring back the 90s plox.


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