There surfaces a naive assumption: if the complicated machinery that fuels nations is operating than it is working according to some well-considered plan by virtue of it working at all. What is overlooked is the character of power, how it changes the equation of commonsense. The larger the problem the less likely you are to hear about it. Of the magnitude of systematic collapse you will hear not at all, for no partisan side wishes their own demise in the inevitable chaos to ensue. And so, the failures are silenced though they accumulate, the points of disagreement work within the arena of power and are of such suitable insignificance as to raise the ire of the partisan, yet another cog in the machine. The choices keep the illusion of freedom alive and people continue to go to work and buy things they don’t require and the marvel of the machinery instills a confidence and assurance that things operate according to plan. Each denial keeping the whole running until the burdensome nature of reality intervenes to such a point that it ceases to be contained. Even then it will be blamed on some unforeseen act of insurgence, and since no one wants to be played the fool, each will agree quickly. What came before will be seen as a Golden Age, something to aspire towards, and the powerful will be the first to resurrect the myth.
Until we look the nature of power in the face and see it for what it is, nothing will change. Until education is valued more so than competition and the soul of the individual is valued more so than the allegiance to the flag, we will be stuck in the lie of fraudulent commonsense that greases the machinery of power.
Now that hope has failed and desperation has hit the streets perhaps we should explore a radical experiment left to us: the gambit of ethics.
I propose that we elect a ‘Philosopher King’ like that which Plato imagined in his Republic. King, Queen, it doesn’t matter, what matters is the quality of the person and the motives behind.
Take Thomas Jefferson’s advice and set fire to his work.
No amount of paperwork will do, it is something you gotta see for yourself align in the words and in the eyes. You are a human being, not a computer, act like one!
Allow the channels of sentiment to flow freely in Congress, let hearts bleed to be heard.
Have him or her cloistered away from any tangible riches, left to defend choices using an agreeable logic that appeals to the equilibrium of our collected human qualities.
John Ralston Saul counted them: Imagination, Reason, Emotion, Ethics, Memory, Intuition, Common sense. Each empowering the other by being used in tandem.
Our job is to know our qualities, and have the time set aside to do so.
For the Philosopher King we must divorce power from decision but retain accountability. To be the first to be sacrificed, if things fail.
If he or she is the right candidate, there would be no issue here. Find the right person and stop advertising to the wrong ones.
Govern not like one would a household for the analogy scales poorly, but as one would from a place of holistic self-interest, the body politic.
Because your body depends on it.
We require the saint without the hagiography
Praise instead the riches of the approach (let the self-made man die alone in his villa).
Cultivated opinions matter, but those tied neither to the idea of culture nor what it signifies in furtive glances, but only in how any perspective adds dimension to an issue.
Knowing more than one language would not be frowned upon.
The Philosopher King will not be invited to your barbecue. The charisma of results shall instead prevail.
I am a first-world, able-bodied, happily-married, white male, not young, not old, securely employed with benefits. I take pleasure in the finer things: movies, literature, music, eating out, information at my fingertips, a home I can call my own.
And every once in awhile I feel nauseous.
The Marxist has bled out of me and with it, all youthful idealism. Yet there remains leftover a stubborn knowing that this paradigm -despite the benefits- is not merely flawed but wholly unsustainable. Wherever I am now is in flux, the employed are in flux with the unemployed, the gadgets of today, run on the energy supply of the future. I live in full awareness of my comeuppance. I am not owed this easy life, and not owed it because others are owed less. Nor is this a bit of luck, and I should embrace fortune for the fluke that it is. The quintessential flaw in reasoning is to think solely in discrete packets of things and think the world abides by this trick of grammar. Today is a consequence of tomorrow as much as yesterday, and one ought to behave in reverence if not to something so out of fashion as God, then the prima facie ethics of co-existence, of existing finitely on a finite planet with consequences to your actions or inaction.
I felt nauseous before I even knew why. I think we all feel something not quite right. It isn’t merely the existential dilemma but something peculiar to this arrangement. The private chamber of your heart that beats in discord with
your surroundings. You must feel it. If not now, somewhere along the path.
What people find eccentric and worth pointing out is less mysterious to me than those who seem incapable of being touched by the magnitude of the world, who are forever making facebook-friendly quips, and probably lol-ing when no one is around. How do they get through this life skirting the issue of existence? I understand how the narcissism of adolescence can consume but there appear to be people that are impervious through to old age, that have sealed off that chamber permanently. I have to believe even they feel nauseous and are just better at hiding it.
In spite of my functioning heart I am a lousy activist; knowing is not acting. And to be clear, confessing this is not a way to appease my so-called liberal white guilt or first world problems. Compassion has become a vulgar word, all the more depending on your pay grade. So quickly that voice appears to undermine the sentiment of compassion of one momentarily well-off towards those who are momentarily not; that it is deemed an indiscretion and has currency in the fabric of how we do business says volumes of how far astray we are as a species.
I am not the person that leads the march that inspires a revolution. Like I said, the idealist in me has gone away. I am also a coward and an addict. The fact remains that I am living comfortably in this paradigm, too comfortably to act first. I am living the spirit of St Augustine’s plea, “God make me chaste… but not yet”. Each person has their own tipping point, I like to believe I will act before I am too late, but do not look for me in the first wave. As with all revolutions the first wave is comprised of idealists and the worst off. I will cheer them so long as free speech is tolerated. The hacktivists, the occupiers, the student mobs, I am a fan and paying close attention and choosing my moment. I am a pragmatist, but a pragmatist left without options becomes just as dangerous as an idealist. When the cowards start to fight, the time for change will have arrived.
If we behaved as if ethics mattered, the world would be a radically different place.
The big issues are not nearly as complex as we assume.
The Gordian knot of every human endeavor can be cut by a fairly simple assessment of ethical responsibility. Be decent.
Decency has become a luxury, after all your other needs are met, maybe you can feign it… used to be even if starving you were kind.
But then that is what you get when you build a culture upon the premise of competitive ownership of conspicuous wealth.
An innate decency: no flight of ideological fancy far enough that you cannot find your way back to it. Buoyed like this, society survives
Politics is compromise, so decency is compromised, but there is a vast difference between agenda-driven politics and ethics-driven politics.
Ethics considers the human in the equation. Likewise it considers the connective tissue between ideologies, identifies their boundaries
We are not bees in service of the pollination of ideas. The ideas ought to be in service of us, or they should be dispensed with.
Complexity cloaks circularity, it is the way unethical power aggregates as a self-sustaining web of axioms.
The enemy is NOT the institution of government, it is the unregulated aggregation of power that exists within gov AND the market. We NEED government to save us from ourselves. We are not innately good, innately wise, the market does not self-correct. Left to our own devices it’s Lord of the Flies - this idealized macro-level human ethics fuels the delusions of communism & capitalism. Macro-level ethics must be legislated and enforced, it doesn’t come natural to us. Public & private categories distract in service of power