Writings by retired newspaper publisher Stephen Waters
The following was written May 1, 2022, but it is still relevant. The retweets I update daily are located at https://theviewfromafar.com/sbwtweet/. Enjoy!
Face it. Those you hired to defend and protect you have not. Public schools are broken. National corporate press is broken. Political parties have been co-opted. If you respect what your country once stood for, then you will have to work to reclaim it.
Here are editorials, essays, and books that examine why the 20th century failed to live up to expectations and how the 21st century can recover. Real value comes from picking up pieces of trusted institutions that no longer deserve that trust. Fortunately, it’s not too late, and all we have to do is recognize what is afoot and stand up as individuals that matter.
Previous success came in the form of a remarkable Constitution that constrained its government through federalism and elected representatives. Free markets described by Adam Smith encouraged tolerance of different views and reliance on individuality. Close-knit families, friends, and community allowed children to learn, grow, and shoulder responsibility.
Success gave the false sense of security that we could offload care and nurturing of our institutions to others, believing they could be trusted to recognize and value what had served America well.
We trusted they valued cultures and the fabric of society underneath that held those cultures together, not realizing that rusted upbringing had left them unwilling and unable to re-validate what mattered and why. They succumbed to the fiction that they were the master of their own words, and that words could mean whatever they needed at the moment to convince the unwary. They no longer valued common understandings of words that were the glue that builds clarity and trust between individuals and groups.
For selfish political expediency they adopted Postmodernism that people laughed at 150 years ago, that could not succeed over the long term, and that was destined to undermine the quality of life that American success had brought about.
Why did the 20th century not lived up to expectations? By November, 2008, the concept for Individuals, Journalism, and Society had taken shape. Published two years later, the book’s preface listed reasons:
Journalism suffers from pervasive fog. Consciousness slips away. Schools lose traction. Character develops by chance. Politicians play games. Economists forget what works. History and philosophy drift. Scholarship loses perspective. Religion and tradition stall at cultural boundaries. Misbehavior threatens society’s fragile fabric. Literature and language languish as destroyers march through civil institutions in a world made more dangerous by scientific progress.
Suceeding chapters of the book examined decades of the 20th century through each decade’s literature, assuming what was popular exposed the thoughts that swept through culture and society. Sadly, the Modern, Post-modern, and Post-colonial literary styles of the century’s fiction failed to offer a way out of the fun house they had created. If we are wise, we can avoid some of their mistakes.
You don’t need to be credentialed to be able to see where schooling becomes indoctrination. You don’t need to be credentialed to see where the credentialed hide behind their credentials to keep you from investigating what they are about.
Emboldened by their past success, progressive academics reached too far. In 2015, they were caught attempting to commandeer school curricula. The Rome (NY) Sentinel raised an alarm through a series of editorials for its readers: Social Studies Fiasco.
A much longer piece, Educating Stability, examines the difference between what has been taught and what might be taught if, instead of schooling, we offered education.
Later in 2015, with individuality so far undercut by top-down, centralized control, no particular institution was prepared any more to pick up the pieces. In a second series of 14 editorials, The Fabric of Society, tthe Rome (NY) Sentinel explained to readers that each of us individually was going to have to reclaim what the country, cultures, and society had dropped.
Postmodern elites believe in America — They just choose to obscure that they define America differently than we traditionally have.
The website ExploringCharacter.com, completed in late 2015, explained how schooling had lost its purpose to nudge students to develop and validate personal character for themselves. Here, from the website, are Frequently asked questions about character..
In 2018, Take back your News gave evidence for readers to judge for themselves whether they were being well-served by corporate journalism.
National media serves journalism so poorly that individuals need to take back the news. In the book, Part 1 gives evidence and arms you to defend yourself. Part 2 shows how schooling probably shortchanged you. Part 3 shows how individuals, journalism, and society depend on each other.
In 2020, pressure built to bury the 200-year-old revolutionary concept of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” established by the Declaration of Independence and American Constitution.
Individuals, Journalism, and Society–the Epilog: Lessons learned was published to warn that language and authority were being warped to goad people to break the constitutional compact themselves. The tactic would allow abusing elites and the government they controlled to accuse ordinary Americans of undermining the “rule of law” that the ruling classes had, without consequence, warped beyond reason.
In February, 2022, the essay Yes, America -- or, who gets to transform what and why scanned American institutions being undercut by those desperate to provoke sufficient violence as a pretext to take full control before peaceful 2022 midterm elections could stymie their efforts..
It doesn't have to be a conspiracy for the wrong kind of people to try to take advantage of circumstances, rather it takes the right kind of people to ignore what is afoot.
America is suffering a slow-motion takedown masked in platitudes and misdirection played by a loose, informal, selfish association of scoundrels against a population reeling from 60 years of narcolepsy induced by institutions mistakenly trusted to protect them. Their concerted attacks on America on all fronts indicate much more than a difference in philosophy of governance.
Disparate groups that would benefit from taking down America include globalists, leftists, entrenched bureaucrats, large foundations, institutionalized unions, big business, industrialized academics, corporate media, social media, entrenched major political party leadership, pseudo-arts elites, and a new generation of postmodern poseurs who destroy the common meaning of language to claim special prerogatives for themselves.
Created as samizdat, the almost-daily tweet collection linked at TheViewFromAfar.com/sbwTweet offers select retweets of news seldom is reported in the corporate journalism. It’s almost as if those who would undermine America don’t want citizens to see what they are about. Even now, however, Internet creativity is working to repair the damage done by corporately owned news and social media.
Although they may temporarily succeed, the self-proclaimed, undeserving “ruling classes” ultimately will fail because individuals do matter. Individuals value community over bullying collectives. They always will.
Even if leftists manage to foment class warfare, inflame envy, and remove the checks and balances of federalism, if globalists remove national boundaries, corporatists fully coordinate fascism, educationists indoctrinate instead of school — if all their independent efforts to impose top-down government roll over individuality — they will only postpone their own failure. No governance of their sort has ever brought anything but a lower quality of life.
All it takes is one person to think — and there always will be at least one person who will. There will always be one person to reach across time to touch someone in the far distant future, igniting again a wonderful fire of free thought in those tuned to listen, test, and re-validate for themselves what works and why.
TheViewFromAfar.com was created to gather 60 years of experience to show an interesting evolution of thought and development that others are welcome to extend. A bibliography of books that furthered education after the schooling received in college can be found here: The impetus to learn.
In early 2021, with 46 years in the business, I retired as publisher of the Rome (NY) Daily Sentinel
After five generations of family ownership, despite an unsettled economy, we keep on. We understand that although we may own the newspaper, we hold it in stewardship for the community.
Across my career, so many other small newspapers were purchased by media chains, large newspapers sold their integrity, and broadcast news outfits fell back on superficial entertainment.
They put journalism in this country at risk. The best antidote is for individual readers to arm themselves to recognize the danger to their community, culture, and society itself.