An answer to my friend Gordon Bressack’s question:
“Recent politics in this country has caused me to believe that the two sides just see the world completely differently. Unlike Lilliput and Blefescu in “Gulliver’s Travels” who fought wars over which end of the egg to crack open, the rift between Left and Right involves serious philosophical differences. So I ask you all this…: If I were to become a conservative, what are the three main tenets that I would have to believe or have to give up?”
I’ve been stuck with (unending macro-cynicism is pretty depressing) being a “big picture” thinker and observer, so much so that my observations of where we were going (which came true) had most people laughing at me decades ago, You may laugh at me now. If so, I wish you the best of luck finding and expending your energy supporting another presidential candidate… again.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the issues described by “conservative” and “liberal” are just the set of terms used in this political system, to draw some line in the sand, which under examination falls apart, whenever those so defined, find themselves facing some situation which makes them think that which formerly defined their ideology, would now be a barrier to obtaining what they now think is desirable.
Nothing defines definitions so much as the perception of what’s required to maintain group agreements as an agent of self interest. What’s self interest? Whatever makes you feel good, no matter how seemingly benign and beneficent, selfish or antisocial or self-destructive, it seems to others. In a lot of the pathological individuals who run the world, I’d question if Maslow’s hierarchy even trumps the need to manipulate others.
That’s a function of innate human failings which ultimately, have corrupted every political system that didn’t get taken down by natural events or invaders. The inclination to subvert the rules (in alliance with those who are part of the class we perceive ourselves to be a part of) and to define those who are not a part of that class, as somehow appropriate to either exploit or label exploiters is in the DNA (I’d guess) and inevitably exercises itself. To paraphrase Clinton, “It’s not politics, its economics…” Greed and the complacency to allow it in others (as long as we feel we have a chance of participation) bring them all down. At which moment it turns to disaster isn’t the point. It’s the fact that it seems to be endemic to all economic (political) systems, subject to different modifiers.
You can blame the politicians of your choice with leading us to this point, but the participation of the public in what I call “Amway America” (land of those manipulated by the key marketing motivators of greed, insecurity and envy) and it’s long, post WWII orgy of fantasy and indulgence, is really to blame. Morrie Schwartz (Tuesdays With Morrie) said: “We live in a culture that does not make people feel good about themselves.” “If what they’re selling is not what you need, you have to have the courage not to buy it.”
Unfortunately, America not only bought it, they bought it all on credit (both public and private) and shot it up wholesale. After several generations of that, they can’t even dream of a different paradigm and while they dither away their lives with diversions and get off on blaming the WWF (two-party system) teams that keep them entertained, the wealth continues to flow one way and the infrastructure rots while the new “I-products” multiply.
I’ve never seen so much awareness appear to be arising as to how the system really operates, but when systems devolve they do become more transparent. The problem is that the corrupt allocation of resources has become so much a part of what we think is normal (and so many of the structures that people derive their livelihoods from) that one has to wonder if by the time they become obvious, it’s too late to disassemble them without disastrous consequences to the most vulnerable.
I see the current situation as the inevitable collapse of the Ponzi Scheme, not of just the housing bubble, but both the corrupt government we have and the “Amway America” fantasy, equally unsustainable. If anyone questions that, let them look at the refuse of excess filling the attics, basements, garages and storage facilities coast-to-coast and invoke any rational thought that could continue. That excess WAS what we called “prosperity”. It made VISA very, very happy. Has it made any of you very, very happy?
I realize I’m beating a whole herd of mostly dead horses here, but my point is that arguments about what “Conservatives” and “Liberals” believe and want are really not germane to the elements that ended up sinking political systems and economies. Until we focus more on the human failings WE ALL HAVE, the rest is just a diversion, one which will always be exploited by the most adept (narcissistic and psychopathic personalities) to keep the masses befuddled while their productivity (wealth) is diverted to benefit those with much more narrowly focused objectives.
My slogan for that is:
“Democracy: An invaluable system of tools for aiding and abetting the success of psychopaths in the manipulation of idiots.”
© 2010 All rights reserved.
My friend Larry Admire, who recently passed away, put it much more eloquently in what, after years of debating these issues with him, I like to think of as his “Gettysburg Address” of a sort; he wrote it after the battle over Obama’s health care legislation. His reference to “class is starting – dismissed” refers to the fact that he wrote it one morning before his HS history class began. Larry taught History for thirty years.
“Its all the same,we live in an oligarchy–government by the privileged few. They move back and forth incestuously between the ‘private’, government and university-non profit sectors. Their Raison d’être is to preserve the established order of things. Where they are is irrelevant, as are their job descriptions, their loyalties are to their class and to preserving their place in the elite. That’s why there are only minute differences between which political party is in power. Any perceived differences are mostly style over substance.”
“Bush the clown and Obama the professor basically govern the same. They keep the wars going ,keep the banks and corporations happy. The ‘differences’ , as in health care are minor, after all the Obama plan most resembles Mitt Romney’s state system in Mass., which was patterned after Richard Nixon’s proposals in the sixties. It is about as radical as buying organic food in Wal-Mart. The basic functions of the grand battles over non-reform are to keep the population confused and agitated without allowing them to see what actually goes on.”
“The Media deliberately focuses on non-issues and stirs up the primordial instincts of racism, the fear of change to keep people functioning under the delusion that they are being consulted somehow. In reality the deal was done, the Insurance companies were rewarded for their terrorist tactics with 30 million abject new customers. It is all Manipulation 101, -tried and true tactics of control utilized to homogenize,neutralize and divide. We are basically living in a free-flowing Totalitarian state, where our only worth is as consumers and producers of comfort.”
“We are kept fat like the Pigs and their loyal minions in Animal Farm ,with the sporadic sacrifice when needed (see 911) to make sure the herd is docile. Feral dogs, the tea baggers, are employed to lower the level of discourse to fear and hysteria, and to get the sheep scared, and keep the hyenas snapping at one another.”
“That’s it class is starting, dismissed.”
From Gordon (again) following up on the discussion his request for definitions of “conservative” initiated:
“The following is a speech from Shaw’s “Major Barbara”. It succinctly capsulizes the true state of politics, business and democracy. The speaker is a billionaire industrialist speaking to his son who has informed him that he wishes to go into politics.”
UNDERSHAFT [with a touch of brutality] “The government of your country! I am the government of your country: I, and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gabble shop, can govern Undershaft and Lazarus? No, my friend: you will do what pays US. You will make war when it suits us, and keep peace when it doesn’t. You will find out that trade requires certain measures when we have decided on those measures. When I want anything to keep my dividends up, you will discover that my want is a national need.”
“When other people want something to keep my dividends down, you will call out the police and military. And in return you shall have the support and applause of my newspapers, and the delight of imagining that you are a great statesman. Government of your country!”
“Be off with you, my boy, and play with your caucuses and leading articles and historic parties and great leaders and burning questions and the rest of your toys. I am going back to my counting house to pay the piper and call the tune!”