« on: November 20, 2013, 06:29:50 pm »
All even remotely successful empires and states in human history have had to rely on some sort of ideology to legitimize itself, from the God-kings of Sumer to fascist and communist states in the 20th century. Today, it's harder to spot than before. There are few signs of any personality cult. No great, overarching ideas. Just some mostly empty phrases about freedom, democracy and human rights.
But in a backroom somewhere, faceless suited figures hiss into the ears of "your" elected official: "THE MARKETS DEMAND IT." He obeys, and willingly complies with the markets' demands. There is little room for questioning. Politics is just administration and theatre. Nevermind the possibility that "the market" is not a metaphysical being, some sort of deity demanding regular sacrifices to save us from oblivion. Nevermind the possibility that what is really happening is that the decision-making process is being moved somewhere less accessible for us mere mortals. "THE MARKETS DEMAND IT." the voices keep hissing, impatiently.
The distinction between good - bad and non-sinful - sinful seems to have been partly replaced by healthy - unhealthy and normal - abnormal. Get exercise, eat healthy, be happy, or at least go through the motions and pretend to be. Social media leaves plenty of room for keeping a facade (the vague sense of being a fraud that gives you is useful by the way, it makes you less prone to going after the real frauds).
"We have discovered happiness," -- say the Last Men, and they blink. Perhaps we are a variation of the Last Men Nietzsche wrote of in Thus Spake Zarathustra.
(By the way I am skeptical of the idea that history of humanity is moving towards any sort of end point, other than our own eventual extinction. If we are approaching something similar to Nietzsche's Last Men, I doubt that those will truly be The Last Men. There will be something afterwards, and I don't think any of us will like it.)
The world is full of nice people who are blind to the injustices around them. They appreciate human warmth. It keeps sentimentality in force, for it satisfies the craving for good feelings towards oneself and the world. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth. But this sentimental search for warmth and fuzziness is disconnected from the idea of having to do anything for other people. One might even have pity on those who suffer, but it is a distant thought that one personally should intervene and try to change the existing conditions. They refuse to admit that declarations of sincere compassion are binding and must be accompanied by deeds, they live in an imaginary world in which few things leave traces and where there are no serious consequences. People are offered the choice between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, but this brand of Diet Nihilism has little competition. I think we ought to give it some.
So, what are we to do?
Expand the definition of "normal" so it's a comfortable space to exist in for real people. Real people are weird. They can try to repress it, and many people try, but then it just oozes out at the other end and that can be truly TERRIFYING.
By being and behaving like real people. Weird, but not zany. It might involve shouting at buildings. It definitely involves showing empathy. And not just to your own kin. It involves compassion, and anger, and getting involved in your surroundings. Realizing that the world does not revolve around yourselves, and that pretending it does eventually will break your necks. It involves not giving a few less fucks about the dominant ideologies of POSITIVITY and HEALTHINESS and NORMALITY, and instead just having a good time and being a decent human being. (This is very much a reminder to myself.)
It probably won't save us from anything. But at least we won't be playing Candy Crush while Rome burns.
Or Kill Me