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U.S. Fundamentalism & Divisiveness

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Sat 1 Aug, 2009 03:23 pm
From what I'm seeing from various media sources, I get the feeling that the U.S. is falling further into divisiveness - further polarizing; not just from the dozens of parties we once had now down to just 2, but those two seem to become more angry, hateful, bitter and divided. At least it sure seems so...

I sense that both right-wing and left-wing rhetoric is notching up; and seems to have been for about the last 3-5 years. I well realized that such talk has always been there - and acknowledge the possibility that it may be just my exposure from which this perception comes. But I wanted to ask...

Are we becoming increasingly divided; wherein politics is wedging our mutual interests apart, making small disagreements large and "irritated" rhetoric outright enraged?

I'd love to hear thoughts on this.
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sarathustrah
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Aug, 2009 04:06 pm
@Khethil,
yeah i agree... for example: everyone i talk to either adores obama or despises him...

but its like: wait a minute... what happened to the individual situation opinion...

he talked intelligently about such and such... but i disagree entirely about such and such...

its like your being pushed to pick a side... and not consider it any further.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Aug, 2009 05:10 pm
@sarathustrah,
Khethil;80807 wrote:
not just from the dozens of parties we once had now down to just 2


Just a quick historical note: the US never had dozens of major political parties. Basically, we've always had the two party system. When political parties first organized, there were two.

While there have always been a great many minor parties, even today the US has a number of minor parties - Green Party, Socialist Party, Libertarian, Constitution, ect.

Khethil;80807 wrote:
Are we becoming increasingly divided; wherein politics is wedging our mutual interests apart, making small disagreements large and "irritated" rhetoric outright enraged?


Not that I can tell. We've always had national politics that coerce voters into voting against their interests. After the Civil War, race was used to keep poor whites and poor blacks from uniting for their mutual interests. The rhetoric was equally enraged and divisive, if not more so than what we see today.
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 2 Aug, 2009 07:35 am
@Khethil,
Thanks guys.

Perhaps it is just so; that the climate in our country, politically, isn't any worse off than it's been in the past. Nonetheless, it sure feels rough. For my part (and for most political solutions) I almost don't care how something is resolved, just that it is. And is done so with an atmosphere that's something akin to "bloodless cooperation".

Thanks
0 Replies
 
Caezius
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 11:19 am
@Khethil,
Yes, Americans have grown increasingly divided and more partisan, especially when you compare the now to the Jeffersonian Era. Partisanship has become a trait in the American consensus, and it has revealed itself to be a cancerous sort of growth. Studies show that a man who considers himself a Republican at age 32, will more than likely continue to do so at age 82. Bearing this in mind, does it really matter what facts you present to polarized partisans? Will they simply shrug it off and label it as [opposing ideology] propaganda, even if it is credible, if not proven fact?

In the 2008 Presidential Election, Obama received 89% of Democratic votes and only 10% of Republican votes. While McCain received 9% of the Democratic vote and 90% of the Republican vote. The race was indeed a race for the center, as they usually (but not always) are. The political party has a sirenic effect as it creates a team mentality, and we know how Americans love to belong. This explains why certain people cling to their faction so much and xenophobically attack the other faction. Take people like Hannity and Olbermann for example, people who have nothing to gain mentally for partisan patriotism, except for the pleasure it arouses after doing a good job for your team. You could say it's only natural seeing that human beings are social creatures, but such political divisions serve no purpose. They did long ago in the beginning of American history, because the republic was still so young and people were divided on roles of government concerning vital issues, but even then George Washington was weary of their use. He said "They serve to organize faction...to put, in the place of the will of the nation, the will of the party..." And he couldn't have been more correct.
0 Replies
 
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Tue 4 Aug, 2009 06:49 pm
@Khethil,
Well fundamentally there are two different visions of the future of america fighting for control:

What I would argue was the original vision of a limited federal government with carefully prescribed and enumerated powers, maximal personal freedoms and a market driven economy. All powers not specifically given to the federal government reserved to the people and the states respectively (9th and 10th admendments). The libertarian republican view

and

The progressive liberal democratic view of a federal government of increasing size and scope, enacting laws for the "good of the people" (nanny state) and providing cradle to the grave entitlement programs (welfare, social security, medicare and now national health insurance). It would not even be so bad if the people were able or prepared to pay for their government guaranteed benefits but instead the cost is shuffled onto future generations or the "rich". America will become a socialist democracy and pay for the privilege with European style unemployment, slow growth and an "entitlement society".

There have been such competing visions of the future in the past and the rhetoric of today is no better or worse than previously. People do feel strongly about these things and the grounds for compromise are limited. The average American is a little schizophrenic about the whole thing wanting government intervention when things wrong but overall distrustful of large government and skeptical of governments ability to efficiently and effectively run the economy or anything else.
0 Replies
 
VideCorSpoon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 10:28 am
@Khethil,
Khethil;80807 wrote:

Are we becoming increasingly divided; wherein politics is wedging our mutual interests apart, making small disagreements large and "irritated" rhetoric outright enraged?
Interesting note though, I would say that party politics from the very beginning has always been a reaction to republican (as we know it today) movement. But anyway, the Whigs finally become the type 1 Republicans under Abraham Lincoln. Essentially, Democrats react to republicans, republicans have always been (at this point)for commercial interests and the northern interests, while the democrats have been for the south and landowning/private interests.

As soon as the little crisis of the civil war is resolved (LOL) Republicanism takes over for the better part of 80 years. This is not to say that democratic agendas or the party do not exist, just that they lose a lot of their effectiveness because the majority of their support are broke, defeated, ex-secessionists. FDR turns the type 2 democrats into a power house party in the 30's, appealing more to the common person more than southern interests (that's over with for the large part), appealing for the first time to the collective minority (which interestingly have always had a majority as the dominant party) Republicanism for some reason decides it wants to engage more in fundamentalism rather than expanding its commercialism roots, and here we are today along with the fact that Northern interests turned into business interests in a new form.

Now you ask "are we being increasingly divided?"
xris
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 12:43 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
From a European perspective your left is our centre.I have a passion and it does not allow me to move right in any degree.I think I am a moderate socialist but by experiencing certain views expressed, I feel I am depicted as a left wing extremist.Now should I confront these views or should i walk away?
0 Replies
 
Mr Fight the Power
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 01:02 pm
@Khethil,
Modern politics is marketing, and marketing relies on brand loyalty and emotive ploys.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 06:45 pm
@Mr Fight the Power,
We are becoming increasingly divided, but not along 'partisan' lines. The left-right dochotomy is false, contrived for the benefit of both parties, which is to say, the benefit of the elite who control both, and to the great disadvantage of the great majority of Americans. Its seems to me that there are four sorts of Americans in a political sense.

1) (minority, frustrated and impotent) libertarians/true-conservatives/constitutionalists

2) (minority, encouraged by present adminstration) socialist idealists/communist idealists

3) (most numerous by far, least powerful, baaah) McBamanites (blind, ignorant supporters of either McCain and the neoconservatives or of Obama and the Democratic party)

4) (most powerful, least numerous by far) fascists/corporatists, whose philosophy, to the extent that it's stated publicly, agrees with 2 and 3, but who are in fact, as noted, fascists who indeed desire to create a collectivist state, a planned society, but one with themselves as the planners

I've listed these in descending order, from those I most agree with to those I wouldn't stoop to spit on. So, from the perspective of a libertarian, here is suggestion for cooporation of 1 and 2 against 4. 3 can safely be ignored, they are sheep and will follow once someone leads the way.

The libertarians and the socialist idealists need to unite on the few issues they have in common. 1) Abolish the private Federal Reserve System and restore the money power to Congress. 2) End subsidies and regulatory privilages for the big corporations and banks. 3) End the wars in Ira and Afghanistan, close most overseas American military bases, end the Empire. 4) Investigate and hopefully indict people from the past and present adminstration for corruption and conflict of interest, Dick Cheney e.g. vis a vis Haliburton and contracts in Iraq. 5) Eliminate the electoral privlages granted to Republicans and Democrats over third parties or independents. 6) Balance the budget. 7) Repeal the Patriot Act and other legislation that granted the government unconstitutional powers of investigation, detention, etc.

Can we agree on those issues?

Afterward, we can argue about the proper role of government in education, health care, economic regulation, taxation, 'climate change,' etc.
GoshisDead
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 07:06 pm
@BrightNoon,
I have a suspicion that it is the addiction to divisive drama that we see not any real devisiveness. Any media relies on drama to gain and retain consumers. We thrive on blustering blowhards. We make them the voice of "our ideology" while the whole time acting like the mass apathetic never actually doing anything about it. In action we are just like most people, a giant heap in the middle of the bell curve, wishing we could be like the outliers.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 07:41 pm
@GoshisDead,
To categorize Americans into four neat groups is absurd. I also think it is telling that your divisions leave one left-wing group, and split the right wing up into three separate entities. What about the socialist-anarchists? What about financially conservative, socially liberal individuals who are most certainly not libertarians? What about the Southern Democrats? And so forth. To break up Americans into such units is no more real than the false dichotomy between left and right in this country - you are substituting one set of silly divisions with another set that appear, on the surface, to be more descriptive, but in reality serve the same purpose as the left right divide.

As for the various points you list, upon which we radicals can agree - I'm with ya for the most part.

I also think we can add a few more:
1) Reverse Supreme Court decisions that give corporations legal personhood
2) End no-bid military contracts
3) Drastically reduce the size and expense of our bloated, Cold War era military complex
4) Abolish the CIA and return to OSS style foreign intelligence services
5) Ban the existence of US mercenary forces
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 09:49 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;81514 wrote:
To categorize Americans into four neat groups is absurd. I also think it is telling that your divisions leave one left-wing group, and split the right wing up into three separate entities.


I find it puzzling that, while we both ackowledge that the right-left dichotomy is false, you would complain that I devoted only one group to the left and three to the right. Firstly, again, there is no right or left. What we in American call right and left are the same: corporatism, fascism, statism, (to use Orwell's phrase) oligarchical collectivism. Moreover, I devoted one group to the true left (idealistic socialists and communists, as opposed to the false socialists in washington which are really fascists), one to the true right (libertarians and the like, as opposed to the neoconservatives, which are also fascists), and identified two others, the actual fascists, and the sheeple who follow the fad of the moment and have no ideology.

Quote:
What about the socialist-anarchists?


I would group them with the other idealistic collectivists, the real socialists and communists.

Quote:
What about financially conservative, socially liberal individuals who are most certainly not libertarians?


A person who is financially conservative and socially liberal is a model libertarian. Remember though, I'm not using these group labels to refer to official organizations. A libertarian in this context doesn't mean a member of the LP or a supporter of Ron Paul, etc., but rather someone of a general mindset and with a certain philosophy. There are members of all these groups in both of our deranged political parties.

Quote:
What about the Southern Democrats?


Socialists.

Quote:
And so forth. To break up Americans into such units is no more real than the false dichotomy between left and right in this country - you are substituting one set of silly divisions with another set that appear, on the surface, to be more descriptive, but in reality serve the same purpose as the left right divide.


This is not true. The false left-right paradign is used to stifle real reform, to offer the illusion of choice while maintaining the same, albeit dialectic, progression toward a single end: fascism. The groups I've devised are based on the underlying ideologies or lack thereof. I don't claim this system is perfect, but it's how I think of political life in America.

Quote:
As for the various points you list, upon which we radicals can agree - I'm with ya for the most part.

I also think we can add a few more:
1) Reverse Supreme Court decisions that give corporations legal personhood
2) End no-bid military contracts
3) Drastically reduce the size and expense of our bloated, Cold War era military complex
4) Abolish the CIA and return to OSS style foreign intelligence services
5) Ban the existence of US mercenary forces


Good to hear. Smile

I agree with every one of your suggestions. There is hope yet.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 04:21 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;81528 wrote:
I find it puzzling that, while we both ackowledge that the right-left dichotomy is false, you would complain that I devoted only one group to the left and three to the right.


Because you only created a different set of false dichotomies. You set may have more truthiness, but it is far from the truth - it is just as mistaken as the left-right dichotomy.

BrightNoon;81528 wrote:
I would group them with the other idealistic collectivists, the real socialists and communists.


Even though they are quite distinct from the real socialists and communists. That's my point. These few labels just do not even begin to touch upon the great diversity of political opinions of Americans.

The real issue is that most people just do not fit into any of these categories. Most people do not vote based on philosophic principle, but based upon emotion. If anything, there is the real dichotomy - 1) those who vote based on emotion, 2) those who think they vote based on something other than emotion.

BrightNoon;81528 wrote:
A person who is financially conservative and socially liberal is a model libertarian. Remember though, I'm not using these group labels to refer to official organizations. A libertarian in this context doesn't mean a member of the LP or a supporter of Ron Paul, etc., but rather someone of a general mindset and with a certain philosophy. There are members of all these groups in both of our deranged political parties.


But Blue Dog democrats, to use a real group example, are clearly not model libertarians in any sense of the word.

For example: one might be financially conservative, yet socially liberal in the sense that they believe universal healthcare to be something that government has a moral obligation to provide. That's far from libertarian.

BrightNoon;81528 wrote:
Socialists.


I take it you've never met any of them.

BrightNoon;81528 wrote:
This is not true. The false left-right paradign is used to stifle real reform, to offer the illusion of choice while maintaining the same, albeit dialectic, progression toward a single end: fascism. The groups I've devised are based on the underlying ideologies or lack thereof. I don't claim this system is perfect, but it's how I think of political life in America.


The left right dichotomy does, indeed, stifle real reform. But you're set does not overcome that problem, either.

BrightNoon;81528 wrote:
Good to hear. Smile

I agree with every one of your suggestions. There is hope yet.


Man, I do not share the optimism. We're different sorts of radicals, you and I, but we're both so radical that the average voter probably thinks we're insane.

A political upheaval will not come from political works, but from social works. You have to change minds before you change votes, and politics is simply not the venue in this country for major change. We need MLKs and the like for the change you and I hope for. We need writers to reemerge as relevant social forces. And, brother, that ain't gonna happen. It's a non-literate society out there.

Perhaps if we get the education system cleaned up - and that is something that can be achieved politically. Hopefully this is the counter-example to my cynicism that will save us. It's the only light I see.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 03:20 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;81560 wrote:
Because you only created a different set of false dichotomies. You set may have more truthiness, but it is far from the truth - it is just as mistaken as the left-right dichotomy...Even though they are quite distinct from the real socialists and communists. That's my point. These few labels just do not even begin to touch upon the great diversity of political opinions of Americans.


I'll say again, these groups are defined by basic philosophical premises, differnet basic foundations upin which to build a political philosophy. Perhaps my understanding is wrong, but I see two basic idealistic political philosophies (as opposed to pragmatic, non-intellectual, purely selfish 'philosophies': e.g. 'the government should give me healthcare because I need it' or 'I'm ultra-rich, I might as well buy the government to ensure it stays that way'). Those two idealistic philosophies are, at their most basic level, individualism and collectivism. Libertarians, constitutionalists, and anarchists of the libertarian variety, etc. adhere to the former. Socialists, communists, anarcho-communists, social democrats, etc. all adhere to the latter. The other two groups consist of the sort of people I mockingly exemplified above: the sheep and the powers-that-be. Neither of these groups are idealistic, they are both pragamatic, they only differ in that the sheep are weak and don't get what they want, while the fascists are strong and do. It's fundementally unfair to compair this categorization to the left-right division. The former is not being used politically, nor will it be, nor do I intend for it to be; the latter is. The former is logical based on real philosophical differences or, where ideology is lacking, real, objectively demonstrable facts; the latter is illogical in the extreme and rests on tradition and a fundemental misunderstanding, deliberate in my opinion, of the real issues and the real variety of philosophical perspectives from which they can be approached.

Quote:
The real issue is that most people just do not fit into any of these categories. Most people do not vote based on philosophic principle, but based upon emotion. If anything, there is the real dichotomy - 1) those who vote based on emotion, 2) those who think they vote based on something other than emotion.


I agree with that division. In fact I accounted for it already to some extent. Your #1 corresponds to the sheep. #2 corresponds to everyone else.

Quote:
But Blue Dog democrats, to use a real group example, are clearly not model libertarians in any sense of the word. For example: one might be financially conservative, yet socially liberal in the sense that they believe universal healthcare to be something that government has a moral obligation to provide. That's far from libertarian.


If someone believes that there is a moral imperative for the state to provide universal health care, that somone is NOT a fiscal conservative. In my understanding, fiscal conservatism does not revolve around low taxes and balanced budgets, that's ancillary; it revolves around a belief that property rights, the sanctity of contracts, and economic freedom are as fundemental as the right to free speech, or any others. I think we're using terms differently in general. My idea of a social liberal is a person who supports individual freedom in private sphere and dealing with private, usually moral issues, such as abortion, gay marriage, drug policy, etc. So, again, I would put the blue dogs in the collectivist camp, despite their opposition to drug prohibition and other morally based intrusions into private life (:whistling:..or not), simply because they support a vast social welfare system, public health care included.

Quote:
I take it you've never met any of them.


No, I haven't had the dubious privilage, but I am aware of who votes for what, and I don't like what I see. The blue dogs are conservative like George W. Bush was conservative: i.e. NOT.

Quote:
The left right dichotomy does, indeed, stifle real reform. But you're set does not overcome that problem, either.


I know my division doesn;t ovcercome that problem. It's not meant to. I'm not suggesting that we instrict the media to stop discussing every person and issue in the context of left-right, and start discussing everything in terms of the groups I've devised. This is a way of thinking political variety in America, my way. That's all. If someone doesn't like it, they can not think about it this way. What I do strongly suggest that we demand is an end to the left-right paradigm in the media, to be replaced by objectivity and rational, thoughtful debate without standing, pre-packaged labels, but that's wishful thinking.

Now, one more thing. You've deeply insulted me! I've been called many things, but never optomistic. :bigsmile:

Sure, in personal life I'm an optomist, but with regard to politics and society in general, I'm pretty pessemistic. Frankly, I think talking about elections and voting patterns, parties, etc. is academic at this point; I always enjoy an essentially futile academic debate, so I've engaged in this one. However, it seems to me at this time that there is no solution without the R word. And I don't mean Republicans, or Recovery, or Republic.

I think there's going to be violence on the streets quite soon. Which way it all ends, I can only guess.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 05:57 pm
@BrightNoon,
Notice the dichotomy I proposed - there is nothing philosophical about the division. To agree with that dichotomy is to reject the one you propose. Neither 1 nor 2 are necessarily sheep - 1 accepts that they vote, by and large, based on emotion, while 2 tries to convince themselves that, by and large, they vote based on something other than emotion.

In other words, for the most part, no one votes based on philosophy, even if they believe that they do. Their philosophy is an outgrowth of their emotional attachment to issues, rather than a cold, objective determination. Your dichotomy is something quite different from what I have advanced.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 06:23 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I would say that your division, between those who vote based on emotion, and those who vote on principle, is valid. I would also say, again, that this division can be confortably merged with my own, or thought of as related anyhow. The sheep must vote based on emotion because, by definition, they do not have or understand a political philosophy. Even if the typical, mindless, baaahing Rep or Dem votes based on his 'principles,' I say he is voting based on emotion, because he has no coherent principles. His principles are not truly principles, they are meaningless slogans propogated by pragmatic people for the purpose of self-aggrandizement. He might have convinced himself that he holds principles, but really what has happened is that his wise leader who he follows blindly because his symbol is the correct animal, his tie the right color, or his handshake satisfyingly firm, has told him that he has principles, and what they are. The sheep has no logic behind the principles, because, again, they are slogans. The 'logic' he professes to have consists of more slogans, obtained via osmosis from propoganda, and reguritated undigested, unconsidered, unexamined, in the face of any serious person unlucky enough to ask the sheep a real question on the assumption that he is not a sheep.

On the other hand, there are people, such as myself, who have a certain, political philosophy based on absolutely fixed, foundational principles, and who have applied these fixed principles to specific, real issues, thereby discovering their stance on those real, political issues. Such people vote for candidates who support their stance on issues, derived from principles, or who, fingers crossed, actually hold those principles themselves. I voted for the first time last fall. I found none of the candidates on the ballor to my satisfaction, and so I wrote on the blank, RON PAUL, in bold letters. I voted for no one else.

What I've just described, and you first identified is, I think, a pretty clear distinction. There are the sheep, and then there are the principled. there are of course all sorts of principled people. I've broken them up into the two major groups: collectivists and individualists. I did this because I don't see any middle ground between the two in terms of principles. Either the purpose of society is to maintain the freedom of the individual and the rest in his concern, or the purpose of society is whatever society determines to be the purpose of society, and directs itself toward accomplishing. Either individual rights can be balanced against the interests of the group of they cannot. We are either utlitarians or we are not.

Maybe I've made a mistake though. I havn't placed the real powers, what I'm calling the fascists or the corporatists, corectly in this scheme. They are not principled and idealistic, but they aren't emotional either; they are pragmatic and rational in obtaining their ends. Maybe they don't fit in your principled/emotional division.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 07:08 pm
@BrightNoon,
That is not my distinction. My distinction is between people who recognize that they vote based on emotion and those who believe that they vote based on something else, like objectively founded principle.

Those who vote based upon some principle derive that principle from emotional connections with the issues involved, even if they are unaware of this fact. This is true of me, too, just as it is of you. It's human psychology. We do not typically reason to decisions, we typically reason from decisions.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 07:48 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
You'll find that I'm the supreme anti-platonist. I don't believe in eternal substances, forms, geometries, or, for our purposes, fully formed ideas arising from nothing. I agree that both your principles and my principles have been built organically from emotions, experiences, etc. However, that doesn't mean that there are only people who decide based on emotion and those who decide based on what they think are principles, but is also in fact emotion. If I decide something according to principles, that's what I do. The fact that those principles arose irrationally from emotion doesn't mean that, once fomed, they can't be rationally applied, without emotion, or at least without emotion being the primary factor.

You can put me in front of a million different ballot initiatives, involving a million different public figures about whom I feela whole range of emotions, or involving issues that evoke sympathy, hate, disgust, fear, the desire for reveange, etc. and I will still vote for the measure which supports individualism and against the those that support collectivism. That does not mean I am not effected by emotion, but only that present decisions are not dictated by present emotion. Those intangible emotional and other factors that created my thinking and principles are responsible indirectly, but at the moment of decision, the issue is settled by its evaluation in terms of fixed principles.

If you want to go off on a giant tangent, I'd love to discuss the role of the experentially derived mental schema by which we interpret reality in the epistemology forum. All our reason arises from unreason but that doesn't mean there is not a difference between the two once they are both in existance. Of course, its not a matter of truth: reason true, unreason false, or vice versa. But there is a difference. And there is a difference between a person making decisions through emotional response to any given situation, and a person eveluating the present in terms of and making the decision based on fixed ideas.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Aug, 2009 11:15 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;81686 wrote:
The fact that those principles arose irrationally from emotion doesn't mean that, once fomed, they can't be rationally applied, without emotion, or at least without emotion being the primary factor.


And I never contradicted this - instead, I accounted for it. I mentioned those who do vote by principle, but who do so on principles based on emotional attachment to the issues.

Thus, we're all, more or less, voting according to our emotional attachments. This is not a matter of rational thought and contemplation, but instead a matter of emotional baggage and connection.
 

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