It is nowadays, famously impossible to have a political discussion. There are several reasons for this – but the simplest one is that we have become a democratically-defective populace. Not only are we too angry and irrational now to compromise to take effective steps to solve large and obvious problems, we’re so out of touch with reality, we commonly believe that accusing others of fault, changes our own quality of responsibility.
Bourgeois mess-hall, ready for the gong (top photo)
Left and right? No way! That’s almost pure noise and junk now. The teams are actually narcissistic infantile sociopaths, vs those who are attempting growth and maturity (both of which are routinely punished). The frustrating part is that the latter are in a tiny minority everywhere. No such thing as an entirely sane ‘faction’.
The clearest sign of this problem, is how hard it is to talk about – because the moment you try to make any mature argument, a whole bunch of upset children cry foul, and loudly insist that their internal emotional state is more important than the objective state of the world.
They will even say you are being mean – MAKING them feel bad, by being so rude as to discuss something (which they cannot deny is real, mind you) which you might have anticipated might upset them.
For the record – our internal feelings are important to us and us only – that’s it. The profound feeling we have inside us, that our opinions and emotional reactions are of great importance – is something that we have elevated to an especially sacred place in our culture. This passion-first idea is also, when collected together in large numbers especially, nothing short of EVIL. No kidding!
This is the psychological force that brought holocaust to the natives of North America – the force that drove colonialism, the force that drove lynchings and pogroms – EVIL. And you know what? It doesn’t matter what content you load into the hopper, eventually the righteousness-weapon itself will make it evil, every time. Those crimes were all happily celebrated, lets remember. Everyone (who wasn’t among the targets of their psychosis, that is) FELT sure that they were doing right.
Don’t encourage him
(Wise words, fretting, and recklessness have all been tried many times)
Now – how do we react when we learn that a wealthy person cheats a poor person out of their due wages, exploits them, harms them, damages their health and safety, evicts them from company housing or even has them beaten and jailed by company thugs?
We feel outrage – and if you ask around, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t have an example of a favourite rich exploiter they like to despise. (Even the wealth-idolizing will go apoplectic on Soros!) ;o)
But that’s just looking up, from where most of us are. What about looking seriously in the other direction? Not just offshore, but in our own dumps.
Does anybody seriously believe that there’s some evil corporation or scumbag out there that uses all those water bottles and shopping bags? A combine that fills it’s vanity with billions in cosmetics, or it’s garage with trillions in greenhouse gas generation equipment?
We keep denouncing companies, even as we continue to make our own psychotic demands upon the foreign poor, and justify each of these as ‘reasonable’ – (though we rarely see such easy justification for others).
Here’s the thing – what with rates of change and political paralysis – as long as we insist that anything for sale is our moral right – we are doomed. There can be, with that pre-condition – no such thing as an environmentalist or a progressive, just people who enjoy their own feelings and words. Another class of exploiting narcissists.
Let’s stop it with both the rationalization and the indignation, please – we in the West aren’t fairly entitled to either of these, until we step-up our voluntary behavior game, by a very BIG notch. We free market champions have yet to play a fair game, even once. Nor has there been any sign of wholesale principled rejection of the unclean dividends.
Is that just a toolbelt that came and went? (Did you learn his name and thank him?)
Materially speaking, we remain very fortunate compared not only to the other people of the world, but also to everyone else who ever lived in all of history.
Guess what? That is NOT our right. What it is, is our duty and mission.
Noblesse oblige isn’t a phrase I hear often anymore, but it’s a simple concept and it’s rock-solid also. The French aristocracy learned better than most, what happens when you use all of your power to win every possible advantage, and share too little of the spoils with those beneath you.
What does it mean? Easy – If you are a noble, you have an obligation. Lucky? = Duty! And this concept isn’t absolute, for the rich only, it keeps working proportionately – all up and down the income scale. (I haven’t had a steady gig in a decade, but my homeless friends still get a few bucks from me on a regular basis – and with that, a chat and a smile, I know I have done a small bit of my own gratitude-duty).
This idea didn’t used to have to be explained to adults. At a certain time, one was expected to understand that considering the needs of others was very important, not as a luxury indulgence once in awhile to make us feel good, when it was very convenient, but as an ongoing and binding social duty.
Here’s the second part of it – which is so far away from modern norms, that it may sound like sci-fi to some of my younger friends – but I swear this really was a standard social convention – one of the underappreciated decent parts of ‘squareness’.
This recognition of basic obligation was done very cheerfully, with outright pleasure! Made you feel classy, fortunate, considerate and decent, every single time – your best and coolest self.
In tipping your waiter or your driver well, one is first acknowledging their human needs, and also one’s own good fortune (showing simple gratitude) – but also in part, one is showing respect for the fact their class, adequately motivated, is entirely capable of cutting-off all of our clever heads!
No matter how important the feelings inside of them might have seemed at the time!
Staring right back at us
Lets review the standard line like we’re grown-ups just once, shall we?
As horrendously economically screwed as we are now, compared to the boomers charmed cohort, we are still the most fortunate people on earth – even at the bottom-end of our heap, we get material advantages at the expense of others overseas, which make us richer, and them poorer. We have education and opportunities denied to billions.
By simple math this means we are obligated to be the best humans ever.
I mean the kindest, smartest, most thoughtful, helpful, useful, productive, contemplative, understanding, humorous, creative, generous and self-sacrificing.
Are you laughing yet? Why not? Most immigrants to whom I’ve explained this idea found it entirely reasonable, and also laugh-out-loud funny. Oh us.
Lets do more work on hitting that responsible adult mark first, before we pretend we have any empirical high-ground on which to stand. (Or at least sequester those who refuse this bridge of fools in a nice sandbox outside, while we have our meetings)
More simply – We either stand up for our brothers and sisters in hard conditions everywhere, or we don’t even deserve what we already have.
We have moral right to work on equity and fair humane distribution only for what we earn, not what we steal from the foreign poor at the point of a gun (I miss Marxist feminists so damn much). Equal shares of blood on our hands ain’t progress we can dance to either, my friends!
Most importantly – let’s remember that no underclass anywhere can safely be treated with contempt forever. (Again – the reasoning is quite beside the point).
The share of dignity for the working and underclass has been getting worse and worse here since the 80s Reagan selfishness revolution – but you can’t kick the rabble into line, sneer-at and insult them indefinitely. They might not actually make a guillotine – but they are liable to elect a goddamned madman, just for the pleasure of scaring the shit out of all the ‘reasonable and sophisticated’ people who so casually screwed them!
Sorry – crazy thought, of course. Never actually happen. Me and Plato – total paranoids!