More on the F-Scale

English: German philosopher Theodor Adorno

English: German philosopher Theodor Adorno (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those who listen to my Thoughts from a Useless Eater podcasts, you may recall that in #6 — “When the World Stopped Making Sense” — Part 2 I digress for an anecdote about an experience I had with an archaic psychological test called The F-Scale (the F stands for Fascism) as an employment screening test for a job I interviewed for, maybe 13 years ago. The test was created decades ago, to measure the subject’s susceptibility to buying into a fascist regime–which, as I discussed in the podcast, makes its use in an employment screening scenario odd indeed.

I also mentioned an entertaining Web site I had found back then on which someone had put up an interactive version of the F-Scale that you can actually take online, if you’re curious about how good you might have been at doing the goose-step in Nazi Germany. However, in the course of my effort to find the URL of that online test, to post it as a reference for listeners, I discovered something else that I hadn’t found back around 2000 when I was asked to take the F-Scale for job screening purposes: a Wikipedia article about said instrument, the full name of which is The California F-Scale (1947).

I found that Wikipedia article even more interesting in the context of the subject matter I deal with in my podcast and in this blog, because when I read it I saw a connection that had previously evaded me: the F-Scale was authored by none other than Theodor Adorno–which is ironic indeed because, as a member of The Frankfurt School, Adorno is associated with the “other end” of authoritarianism on the false left-right paradigm.

Among the many interesting things about Adorno is that, in certain circles of the fringe-media world, he has been alleged to have been involved with the transformation of The Beatles into a cultural psy-op tool–an allegation that, to the best of my current understanding, has not been well substantiated, as plausible as it seems given what I have learned elsewhere about The Frankfurt School.

Nevertheless, this connection with a highly questionable psychological assessment instrument is intriguing and worthy of further scrutiny. So don’t be surprised if sometime down the road you find some further posts or podcast segments here on the subjects of Adorno in particular and the strange world of psychological testing in general.


Podcast #6 — “When the World Stopped Making Sense” — Part 2

Part 2 of “When the World Stopped Making Sense,” a continuing series within Thoughts from a Useless Eater–the podcast that seeks a better understanding of “the way things really are in the world,” from a Christian perspective.

In this segment, J.Q. Useless begins a multi-part examination of construct that he calls “material, middle-class fake rationality,” a way of looking at the world that was arguably promulgated to those in American society beginning with the post-World-War-II “baby boom” generation. It’s a worldview centered on ideas of naturalistic/scientific rationality, of a supposedly free-market economic system that allegedly operates according to a “fair set of rules,” and of a society with a social contract in which people who work hard and “play by the rules” can expect to be rewarded with a decent standard of living–a worldview in which the individual can rely on his or her own strengths under a social structure said to have been set up with the best interests of the individual in mind.

J.Q. begins to break this worldview into its component parts and examine issues that point to its arguable invalidity and deceptiveness, especially in view of events in the early 21st century, such as U.S. foreign policy following 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008, and the implications of a globalizing political economy on expectations of average American families concerning their standard of living. The implications of all of these issues will be considered in a Christian context, especially in terms of end-times issues.


Scripture References:

Proverbs 14:12, Proverbs 16:25
There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

Luke 16:15
And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

The Many Ways to Get Whacked

James Gandolfini

James Gandolfini (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been in an unusually dark mood today, and I’ve been praying for the Lord to help me out of it.

But this is just one of those days in which the weight of the dark pall over society seems especially oppressive. There’s really no mystery as to why, with yesterday’s two notable deaths–Michael Hastings and James Gandolfini–casting tragic shadows over the 24-hour news cycle. And a Market plunge after Bernanke‘s latest remarks doesn’t help much either.

All that is quite clear, but there’s a significance to how it all seemed to fit together that hit me just now as I sat down and spilled a few drops on my shirt of the cup of coffee I grabbed to help me through the rest of the day. Just then two more puzzle pieces—the synopsis I read of the ambiguous ending of the last episode of the Sopranos, and Alex Jones‘ remarks earlier today about how the U.S.  government works like the Mafia—fit strangely together.

Although Jones (whom I seldom listen to anymore, by the way, and can only tolerate in small doses, and do not recommend to anyone) was overtly talking about Hastings and not at all about Gandolfini, I’m sure there was at least a subconscious link between the two that brought the Mafia comparison out. And just as the drops of black coffee hit me, it struck me that there is indeed an eerie synchronicity in the same-day deaths of Hastings and Gandolfini.

The knee-jerk reaction of so many to the Hastings death has been that he was, in some way, by some one, whacked. And just a few hours later we hear of the death of the actor whose most famous character, Tony Soprano, may well have been whacked as that infamous final scene smash-cut to black.

It’s dangerous to read too much into these things, but it’s hard to escape the ironic symbolism–which, I think, perhaps points to something further. One of the most significant cultural implications of The Sopranos is how easy it was to make the life of a mob captain resemble in so many ways the life of the stereotypical all-American TV family. Yes, it’s sad to say, but Tony was in many ways a sympathetic character that in certain respects, at least, wasn’t very difficult to identify with. So by extension the mob way of life begins to look ordinary.

And maybe that was one of the intended, latent social commentaries of The Sopranos. Maybe it really wasn’t about the mob, but about us–about how living for so long in a situation in which society passively accepts reprehensible behavior by the ruling elites eventually makes the reprehensible seem ordinary and acceptable.


Podcast #5: J.Q. Useless Guest Appearance on The Alembic Files with A.L. Aric

Joel Barlow

Joel Barlow, co-author of The Anarchiad (Photo credit: dbking)

Poetic Perplexities: Visions of Global Empire? Part 2

It is widely understood that artists, including poets and prose writers, possess an acute “cultural radar” that enables them to sense what may lie ahead. How long after the federation of the 13 states did they envision this new country as a possible candidate for empire? Join A.L. Aric as he hosts J.Q. Useless on The Alembic Files, in this second of a multi-part series looking into this question. This segment focuses centrally on The Anarchiad, a long-form satirical poem supporting the Federalist cause and the ratification of the new constitution, published serially in New England newspapers by The Hartford Wits, a group of poets who first began collaborating when they formed a literary society at Yale University. The discussion also touches on other topics of the time such as Shay’s Rebellion and the racist attitude of New England elites toward the American Indian population.


Literary excerpts to be covered:

Podcast #4: J.Q. Useless Guest Appearance on The Alembic Files with A.L. Aric


Jedidiah Morse, 18th-Century American minister, geographer, educator, author and–last, but not least–conspiracy theorist, in a portrait painted by his son, Samuel Finley Breese Morse.

Poetic Perplexities: Visions of Global Empire? Part 1

It is widely understood that artists, including poets and prose writers, possess an acute “cultural radar” that enables them to sense what may lie ahead. How long after the federation of the 13 states did they envision this new country as a possible candidate for empire? Join A.L. Aric as he hosts J.Q. Useless on The Alembic Files, in this first of a multi-part series looking into this question.


Literary excerpts to be covered:

The Point Collectivists Miss: The STATE Does Not Love You!

van croppedThis is a repost of something I wrote months ago in a more private forum after reading an article pointing to one of the biggest fallacies of collectivized healthcare: “When it Comes to End of Life Decisions, the State Does Not Love You.” I believe it bears repeating here because it’s an issue of timeless importance, so here is what I wrote:

Repeat after me: a collectivist State DOES NOT LOVE YOU and never will. Loving you is not the job of a State: it is the job of your God, your loved ones, and your self. The State will not and CAN not ever insert itself into that role and has no incentive whatsoever to do so. The attitude of a collectivist state toward the individual is NOT benevolent and arguably by definition cannot be so. Those who are naively placing their faith in a collectivist concept of healthcare managed by technocrats and bureaucrats are, at best, naive and, at worst, deeply deceived or deliberately disingenuous.

To wit: “In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members. Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life. People have hearts and souls. They connect to others, especially to those in their families.

It’s very different in socialist states, where euthanasia is the name of the game, often without the patient’s, or her family’s, agreement. In England, thousands of terminally ill people were hastened to their deaths by the Liverpool Care Pathway. It was meant to be a national hospice program that provided palliative care to the terminally ill in their final days. What ended up happening, of course, when the National Health Service started running out of money is that thousands (even tens of thousands) of elderly patients who were terminally ill, but weren’t anywhere near death’s door, were hastened to their deaths. They had become too expensive or just too difficult to manage.”

Think it can’t happen here? Think again, and read the above quote again, and a third time if necessary. It has already happened in “the mother country” across the pond. So it can happen here just as easily too.

What applies in the realm of healthcare applies in any other realm in which one ends up trusting or depending upon a collective to meet any of your needs, whether it be healthcare, housing, education, or whatever. The principle people miss is this, and to me it’s a veritable postulate: the extent to which the State values and respects the individual is inversely proportional to the extent to which the individual is dependent upon the State to meet the basic needs of existence.

Once you become totally dependent–especially on a State that has entered a condition of constrained resources, as we are seeing now in much of Europe, you become in the eyes of the state not like a treasured child to be lovingly cared for, but quite the opposite: you become a liability. In other words, the inevitable, eventual outcome is that the State will come to view the individual as a useless eater. Soylent Green is people.

Thoughts from a Useless Eater Podcast #3 – Introductions, Part 2

Part Two of the introductory segment of Thoughts from a Useless Eater, a podcast that seeks a better understanding of “the way things are in the world” from a Christian perspective. This segment picks up where Thoughts from a Useless Eater #1 left off, continuing with personal testimony from J.Q. Useless about his walk with Christ in relation to the subject matter of the show.