May 16, 2012

On to the Main Event

The rumors of my death are but mild exaggerations. This has been an awful, sometimes terrifying time. I've experienced a bit of improvement over the last week, and I now find myself thinking about reengaging with the world. I don't feel remotely "good"; I haven't known what it is to feel "good" physically in years. But at least I don't feel that each day, or each hour, might finally be It, i.e., The End. So I'm able to reflect on certain matters in a sustained manner, at least to some extent.

If I'm able to do it, I think I need to return to themes and subjects that have concerned me for some time; I also need to clarify and further explain a number of complex connections. In that effort, I will address political issues and controversies, but primarily as they are related to underlying patterns of thought, emotion and behavior. If you wish to understand what's on my mind, I recommend reading "Meaningful Connections," and following at least a few of the links. In particular, I would suggest looking over the four articles on tribalism (one, two, three, four). This passage from the first of the tribalism essays identifies where I place politics itself among my concerns:
This series will examine some of the many ways that love goes wrong, the ways in which love destroys the genuine vitality of another soul. All too often, which is to say in the case of almost every person, the pattern of this destruction is set in early childhood. Once the pattern has been embedded deeply enough, it will be dislodged later in life only in the rarest of circumstances. For the great majority of people, the destruction is carried from generation to generation.

The same pattern also becomes the basis of the political systems we establish, and of the specific manner in which those systems function. (See "When the Demons Come" for examples of how and why this happens.) Political systems are not devised or operated by individuals who supposedly manage, always by some unspecified means, to set aside or rise above those motives and concerns that dominate the lives of those they rule. In terms of certain underlying human dynamics, rulers and ruled are fundamentally alike, for better or worse. Throughout most of human history, it is almost always for worse; consult any one of numerous history books for the frequently terrifying evidence, and consider how rare the exceptions are and how briefly they lasted. (I should note that certain critical differences between the ruling class and those they rule can be identified; you will find some of those differences analyzed here.)

This is one of the great problems with political commentary: politics is only a symptom of a more fundamental condition. Unless we address these more fundamental concerns, the symptom will never be altered in a lasting way. Yet we (and I) spend so much time on political matters because politics affects our lives so dramatically and with such immediacy. Because politics has the power to alter our lives so profoundly and, far too frequently, even to end them, some of us fiercely resist the especially destructive aspects of its operations. Yet this will never be enough by itself, as history, including our recent history and ongoing events, prove repeatedly.
I will rephrase the idea of that last paragraph to express the thought more forcefully. It is not simply that politics is a symptom of more fundamental factors. Politics, in itself, is a sideshow, a distraction, a camouflage. Politics is the means by which power is wielded over human beings. That is all it signifies; that is all it has ever signified. A few of the critical questions are: Who wishes to wield such power? Why? To what ends? And, why are so many people willing to submit to the demands of power?

When we begin to understand the answers to those questions (and many related ones), we begin to see the outlines of what ought to concern us -- where, if you will, the real action is. Political developments are the final result of these underlying dynamics. To focus on politics alone is to engage in the futile rearrangement of derivative elements. This is also why politics is so endlessly repetitive and stultifying, and why a focus on politics alone is so sickeningly boring, when it is not horrifying. Today, it is usually both. "Oh, God! Another horror! How awful!" If you pay attention, you realize that all the horrors you note are the same horrors that occurred a year ago, half a century ago, 200 hundred years ago. This is true even in periods of tragically temporary revolutionary change; see "Concerning the American Change in Management" for an extended consideration of how the American "Revolution" quickly abandoned genuine revolutionary change and instead resurrected age-old patterns of exploitation and oppression. The American "Revolution" ended immediately after it had begun.

If by some series of miracles (none appear to be on offer), significant change were to occur in the American polity, there might be a short-lived victory -- but as with the original American "Revolution," the victory would vanish before it could be enjoyed. The underlying dynamics would reassert themselves once more; the specific forms of exploitation and oppression might be somewhat different, but exploitation, brutality, oppression and death are humanity's constant companions. To concern oneself with politics alone is to deaden one's soul, and to permit the horrors to continue beyond the horizon.

Yet it need not be so. So we must examine why it has been so in the past, and why it is so today. And then we must see how we can change it, finally.

So my work is far from done. I hope my health permits me to do some of it. It may be slow, so I ask for your patience and understanding. As I work on longer, complex pieces, I may occasionally post a few quick items concerning events, or books, or films, whatever, that I find of interest, or that amuse me. Fun is important, especially for me at this moment.

Well. I hope a few of you are still out there. Assuming the present state of affairs continues, I'll be back in a few days or early next week with -- well, we'll see. It may be a surprise, even to me.