Also science (top photo)

I’ve mentioned a few key concepts before – how we all perceive things a little bit differently (because none of us have a universal perspective, and we must simplify what we witness, into a coherent finite narrative for practical purposes), how many of our favourite ‘big’ words mean so many things at once, as to be almost meaningless (that is, bound to lead to arguments, as entirely different categories of meaning are confused), and how poverty war and injustice are things around which a great many factions with commitment to social good, have historically and might well again gather in a robust popular front.

But we modern westerners have been spoiled by the inertia of comparative wealth and stability for so long, that we’ve almost forgotten the habits required to actually create and responsibly steer the social forces which have lead to our unusual freedom.

As Robert Bly brilliantly observed, we have indeed become a sibling society – we’ve lost the habit of willingly graduating to a life-phase where we surrender to duty and take on the mantle of full adult responsibility – and sure enough we now see (and are) hundreds of millions of greying self-declared ‘defiant rebels’ – all of us clever trixters, out to ‘beat’ the oppressive system (emotionally, outwit the mean and rule-heavy parents).

The big news is – we cultural rebels sort of won – the system is in fact reeling, no longer the stable and self-correcting thing it once was – and what do you know? – all of a sudden we established rebels can suddenly see it’s many supportive virtues, just as clearly as it’s irksome and far more popularly discussed repressions and hostilities.

And still we keep trying to pretend that ‘the system’ is something other than us – that our duty is at most protest – which presupposes that there are more serious and principled adults to whom we can responsibly delegate our share of the steering – despite a century packed with the most glaring evidence to the contrary, and more of it filling our TV news and screens, every hair-pulling night.

The thing about a popular front is – it means learning to get along with people who you don’t completely agree with, showing them genuine respect, and thus being able to trust them and organize with them reliably, in order to bring about change with wide benefit for all.

Intolerance – in fact any hostile insistence upon strict uniform compliance (that is, the imposition of bourgeoise doctrine and orthodoxy), is purest poison to the formation and health of a popular front, because it places righteousness (the hostile insistence part – and surely the psychological essence of privilege) way ahead of program (unity) and purpose (real change).

Hostility doesn’t convince people – not ever. As I’ve mentioned before, oftentimes we find ourselves caught up in a trap of logical operations on language, or a divergence of interpretation or the meaning of particular words. It is very easy for all humans to mistake one thing for another without realizing it.  But if we aren’t even bothering to make sure we clearly hear the meaning that the other means (the sense behind the words) our argument is guaranteed to be unhelpful. Our emotions have no place at all in this – Pompeii didn’t have more theatre seats than citizens for no reason – Catharsis is far too important to squander it, tantrum-infusing practical life – this is what art and sport are for!

Also a natural low-heirarchy community (pirañas)

The term “Mansplaining” has made me laugh on several occasions recently – both for it’s hilarious expert and also it’s inept self-harming (ignorance-preserving) use.

Expert and inept have never been quite so often and glaringly confused either, come to think of it – this is after all, the age of the all conquering pro-sumer, in which uncountable skilled professionals are being driven out of their own industries by new consumer appetites and emotional preferences (a reversal of the ancient commercial hierarchy of invested skill, which owes as much to the all-industry dominance of robotic manufacture, as it does to our growth in unwholesome self-regard).

I’ve laughed with you about Aristotle vs Plato – the practical and the ideal – and noted that if their adherants are still battling it out, thousands of years later, perhaps we ought to stop seeking the victory of one mode over the other (the elimination of half our intelligence), and instead learn to use each in the places it works best.

Some problems in the world can be practically addressed in terms of science, and nowadays, this is often forgotten by people who don’t know much science, but enjoy forming strong opinions from exciting rumours. These reality-reminders, even when taken as patronizing, are appropriate – because many of us humans are still trying to improve real things in the world, like others did before to get us this far. Advancing projects of general benefit to the society as a whole – which makes sound corrective-feedback very useful practical data (and incoherant umbrage, error in every case).

The smug patronizing snarky jerk side of the thing which gave rise to the term Mansplaining is without question, very frustrating stuff – and one feels in most such cases, an identifiably teenage quality of insecurity in these strident point-insisters. Way into the land of the Socratic (give them enough rope, and they’ll hang themselves on their own argument).

But sometimes it really is an Aristotelian problem – and though the rattle of a toolkit can seem blasphemous to dreamers, it is actually good news, because those (practical problems) even when huge, can at least be rationally addressed by everyone, in a common and (still comparatively) objective language (science).

Curiously, I’ve found the most shrill mansplainers are frequently just as ignorant as those they so insultingly try to correct – the exchange sounds a lot like two groups of kindergarten kids, arguing about where babies come from.

More modesty all ’round would be a great start for all of us (as I say, more than anything, because we’re simply out of practise). Compromise is not weakness but strength!  (Even to Darwin, contrary to so many of his brutal-agenda interpreters, from the Victorian righteous colonizers onward – very much including both Adam Smith and Marx).

More studying of reality in all possible ways would help also – of course – (and better still, it makes reality itself more FUN!)

Also “the state”

I know some who still insist, and I understand they truly feel Political Correctness simply means treating people with proper respect. But as both witness and distant reports show, that is not the way that everyone has been experiencing the phenomenon of late. For many, political correctness is the name of some heavy piece of dogma that someone angry has used to bully them self-righteously without doing any listening. (I’ve seen it myself far too many times, over the course of decades – but it’s far more common now, than it ever was back in the nineties when it first made me cringe). Direct interpersonal cruelty and injustice (even in the name of some abstract ideal) feed fury and energize opposition – simple-as and always-was. Even when our favourite ideas are being used by the bully – we are still looking at a bully causing hurt to others and adding pain to the world. Not cool.

We progressives are supposed to be the open team, the team that can always find a way to laugh across all the divides, even (especially) when the struggle is difficult – the team that embraces all of the forlorn downtrodden and confused with open arms, kindness and inexhaustible humane charity – because this absolutely IS the attitude which reaches and educates we humans best.

When we get so angry that we forget this – and start taking out our frustrated feelings about huge generalities in the world, on the specific individual people we find around us – we’re letting down the team. Sneering is so very tempting nowadays – but it has never been a more dangerous (bad-citizen) habit. This is how we sew division and reap defeat.

There are millions of new potential allies out there waiting to be earned right now – by almost any appeal other-than this sneering lazy bourgeoise rules-based contempt. Seriously – all bets are off, disaffection is everywhere, entire demographics are in play as never before. Or, to gently mangle those classic typing practise lines…

Now is the time for all good quick brown foxes to jump over the lazy dog and come to the party!

With resolute compassion – always – because we aren’t just building a grand (Platonic) critique here, my friends – we are trying to actually save a real (Aristotelian) planet!

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