Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Am Historical, Not Political

Politics is based on a friend/enemy distinction, which is narcissistic (we're good and they're bad). It's a surrogate for war, just like sports, and just like sports, there is "our" team and "their" team. And just like the artificial distinctions between sports teams, there are artificial distinctions between political parties. In reality there is about a dime's difference: they're two wings of the same party. The Republicans are the right wing and the Democrats and the left wing.

Again, same party, which is why you ended up with the Clintons, the Bushes and the Soeteros all being so friendly with each other.

Most people don't seem to understand this. They think they're candidate is an angel and opposing candidate is a devil.

Some people thought George Bush was a devil who was going to destroy the country, declare martial law and not leave office. They cheered when Barry Soetero was elected. When he was elected there was some who claimed he was going to destroy the country, declare martial law and not leave office...

Angels and Demons. In fantasy.

I said that politics was a surrogate for war. For sports.

Chris Hedges, in his book, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, wrote this: "The enduring attraction of war is this: Even with its destruction and carnage it can give us what we long for in life. It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living. Only when we are in the midst of conflict does the shallowness and vapidness of much of our lives become apparent. Trivia dominates our conversations and increasingly our airwaves. And war is an enticing elixir. It gives us resolve, a cause. It allows us to be noble."

Robert Nisbet, in his The Quest for Community, also suggested people like to be in a group because it allows them to exalt themselves. It allows them to become part of something they consider greater than they are, even if it isn't.

During the time of the Roman Empire the government staged chariot races as part of the Bread and Circuses for the masses (the Reds and the Blues). Fans of each team would brawl in the streets.

Some people get meaning, importance and community out of supporting their candidates and parties. It's worthless, but everyone needs those three things.

Now the historical.

Government is the greatest killer in the world, and in the history of the world. It's the greatest oppressor, the greatest poverty-generator. The Founding Fathers considered it like fire, a good servant but a dangerous master. They intentionally tried to cripple it and didn't want it to be "efficient," because they knew that meant oppression and poverty.

People have generally got their meaning, importance and community from religion and family. But not so much anymore.

I've written before about narcissism, scapegoating, human sacrifice. Those things apply to politics, in fact is inherent in it.

The more politics dominates our world, the worse it is for our world. That's an eternal law of human nature.


Glen Filthie said...

What? "The more politics dominates our world..."?

Bob, the world HAS ALWAYS BEEN DOMINATED BY POLITICS. And, like war, politics is all about money and power...sometimes sex. Likewise, you put the political cart before the horse too: both parties need to appeal to the political centre to win. The person controlling the power and the $$$ is vitally important to us. Your vote and your voice matter. Else America would never have risen to be the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

Black Poison Soul said...

Fans of the Reds and Blues brawling in the streets, in Roman times. Just like Soccer Hooligans in the UK?

Mindstorm said...

I wonder, would people lighting fires by friction be less oppressed than people using gas lighters? :)

Enbrethiliel said...


The idea of politics as a matter of "friends" and "enemies" came up as early as one of Plato's dialogues. In Gorgias, Callicles argues that survival is the highest good in politics--and we still see that thousands of years later, whenever people vote for a candidate not because he is particularly virtuous or because his platform is the most just, but because he is "one of them" and will give their group a better chance of survival.

Socrates's response is that it is better to suffer injustice (even it means being wiped out) than to be unjust (by wiping others out). We could say it is the ancestor of Marty's concise "Maybe it's time to give someone else a chance" from The Cabin in the Woods!

Yet later on, in the Republic, Plato himself tried to imagine a state in which virtue is the highest good in all things, including politics. But while he thought it would be possible, he also knew it ran the risk of deteriorating into a state in which reputation (the mere appearance of virtue) is the highest good. And that in turn would deteriorate, and so on, until we ended up near the bottom of the barrel with democracy. The only thing lower than democracy is a tyranny, which develops directly from it.

Mindstorm said... - you might appreciate this perspective, Bob.

Anonymous said...

One reason men prefer politics and sports to family and religion as sources of meaning and community: the former don't demand one confront personal flaws and faults nearly as directly. A self-destructive alcoholic who cares only about politics can show up semi-sober to the party rally and tell himself that he's doing right by the world. A father who cares about his kids can't tell himself the same thing if he's always drunk around them. Supporting a pro team requires no actual athleticism on one's own part- just buy the jersey, get some face paint, and learn a few chants. Religions, on the other hand, tend to come with a lot of rules about fasting and penance and dietary restrictions (not to mention all that sexual morality). How many liberal male "feminist" horn-dogs like Bill Clinton have excused their rotten treatment of women by citing all the work they've done for "equality"?