Tuesday, August 5, 2008
THE HOLLOW GOSPEL OF THE LIBERAL LEISURE CLASS: PART FIVE
Liberals like to talk about changing people - sort of a hearts and minds program - and see that as a prerequisite to political success. People are to be converted - educated or whatever - to become like-minded people. The problem is that this conversion program is not political. Converting people to be more like liberals - in sentiment, preferences, likes and dislikes - is a big job, and a useless one, as well, politically. The idea there is that social problems are caused by individual people being bad - violent, bigoted, wasteful, stupid - and that social problems can be solved by converting individual people to be good, as”we” are - loving, kind, caring, peaceful.
Almost everyone in the general public has already heard it all, and things get worse, not better. Now what?
At the same time, you can't go an hour without hearing some apology for "success" usually accompanied by a "what can you do" shrug, or encouragement and admiration for any "clever" or "realistic" moves you have made...
This "success" mentality will tolerate no serious discussion of social or political problems. Let's say someone wants to talk about this or that happening in their life, whatever - his career, his life (which is all anyone ever wants to talk about) - and you want to talk about public transit. Not the personal "green" choice of riding a bike or public transit to work - that would be about the person's individual life again - but actually have an intelligent and serious conversation about public transportation for all the people.
Good luck, right?
People immediately get impatient - why would anyone want to talk about that?
If it was a special interest of yours, like a hobby, well then fine except "I am not really into that." It is OK to have hobbies, and people are free to ignore you because they are "not into that" as a hobby activity or interest.
People will ask "what good does it do for you to be interested in public transit?" They don't mean to question the social value of discussing that, they mean how does it advance you personally?
Are you planning a career in "the field?"
Are you an "expert?" Is it making you money, is it increasing your social status?
The pressure to socially conform is pressure to do two things - be clever, and be realistic. "Be realistic" means stop worrying about the problems in the world, you can't do anything about those anyway, and who are you to think you "have any answers," and worrying about other people or the community is taking time and energy away from looking after number one.
"Be realistic" means give up all of those ideas you may have about intellectual, creative or political pursuits. "Be clever" means make the right choices - feather your nest, don't take any risks, find the angles, get with the program.
This is not a situation of "oh well what can you do," it is not a "well people are just that way." It is caused by commercial interests being given higher priority at all times and in all things than is given to the creative, intellectual or the social.
It is not happening off there somewhere in policy decisions in Washington, it is an ongoing battle every minute of every day in everyone's life. Nor is it some deep dark flaw in human nature that we need to reform one person at a time.
Unlike liberal activism, which calls for a tremendous amount of time and energy in the hopes of reforming people's sinful (apathetic) nature, and that brings very small and useless results in return, confronting the commodification of our daily lives is much more productive - a small amount of effort can cause enormous effects because everyone is caught in this trap, and it is miserable and people want out of it. The more resistant people are to confronting this, the more in love with their own role and status in the system they are. It is a relatively small number of people, but they dominate the Democratic party and liberalism.
It has to do with some fucked-up middle class liberal-elite culture of fucked-up white people striving and succeeding and living a fucked-up so-called lifestyle and being complete assholes wasting all of our time and making everyone around them miserable.
It doesn't take years of study, or deep understanding, or special knowledge, or the right guru, or the right theories.
Just look around everyday, all day, everywhere you go. And it doesn't take baby steps, we aren't on the path to anything, we aren't getting there, we aren't improving and all of the rest of that drama.
It isn't difficult, it isn't hard to understand, it isn't arcane or esoteric. The hard, miserable work, the really difficult, soul-smashing thing to do, is to keep participating in this ongoing and omnipresent and insane discussion going on all the time by the upwardly mobile good people. It takes a huge amount of thought, time, and energy; it is immensely unpleasant and stressful, to play along and keep propping up an insane world view..... It only sounds weird, or difficult to fathom or grasp, because we are embedded in an ongoing insane set of social interactions.
Modern liberalism is occupying the space where the Left should be, confusing and misleading people, steering people away from accurate perceptions and clouding their minds, preventing them from asking the right questions because they think they already have the answers. That is dead wood that needs clearing. If we are willing to kick over the beehive of modern liberalism you will see the true face and the true nature of the ruling class war against the people with crystal clarity. As it is, we can't even see the enemy now. We are looking out the tent flap watching for the approach of those dreaded right wingers, and the enemy is behind us right in our own tent.
“For years I labored with the idea of reforming the existing institutions of society, a little change here, a little change there. Now I feel quite differently. I think you’ve got to have a reconstruction of the entire society...a radical redistribution of political and economic power.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr