Political Paradox & What Lies Beneath

I’ve long held, somewhat in keeping with the Eastern idea of yin and yang, that extremes on opposite ends of the political spectrum will eventually become indiscernible. They do, after all, share an inherently extremist nature, and the personalities drawn to extremism are usually slight variations upon one another, whether their wide-eyed, tight-fisted credo be religious or atheist, fascist or communist.

This, coupled with my general sense that the politics of the developed world have become almost entirely faux (more on that in a moment), has caused me to anticipate the day when Rightwingers would espouse liberal ideas, and Leftwingers would espouse illiberal ideas, without the slightest hint of irony. (Self-awareness, after all, tends to put a damper on extremism). Based on myriad recent articles, this wait may be over.

Let me briefly summarize what I mean by faux-politics. I believe the developed world has become jaded and trite to the extent that no significant political change is possible in the absence of mortal danger. To those who live with universal access to indoor plumbing, grocery stores, and libraries, much less the internet, no amount of self-righteous political indignation is going to inspire them to take action in a meaningful (and thus difficult or risky) fashion. Workers of the World Unite, right after I finish this Netflix series! Or, to put it another way, the Orange Man may be bad, but not so bad that it’s worth risking my precious life over.

The only genuine exceptions to this rule are, unfortunately, the lone mass-murderers of the past two decades, who conduct their ‘revolution’ against the entire species. I suspect there is some terrible truth undergirding these madmen–perhaps a mere sense that we have transcended race, class, and all other metrics by which to accurately apportion political blame, since we have all contributed whatever dollars we had to turning God’s creation into one big theme park. One cannot help but notice that they seem to have more-or-less replaced the serial killers are of the ’70s and ’80s. The attitude, the stance, of the contemporary killer is fundamentally different. Theirs is not crime to be gotten away with, but a gospel to be shouted from the rooftops.

I turn, for my examples of this political paradox (illiberal liberals and liberal conservatives) to two articles in particular. The first is by a feminist group attempting to goad governments into banning sex robots before they become as commonplace as Iphones. And while the article is quite old in internet time, their cause is just now gaining traction. Herein we witness persons ideologically liberal calling on the government to ban a sex toy, condemning pornography entire, and opining that there is a

crisis brewing in human attachment. Attachment is the ability for humans to form stable, long lasting, meaningful interpersonal relationships that support mutual co-existence throughout life.

Let us scan the horizon for flying pigs upon the realization that leftists are now worrying about ‘family values!’ One has to wonder how many snide comments were made by these very campaigners against Christian conservatives for the identical hand-wringing and pearl-clutching that they are now frantically engaged in decades later? It appears they who made the promiscuous beds have realized they must now lie in them. One can almost picture their heads spinning ala The Exorcist as they unsuccessfully attempt to figure out how to undo male sexual liberation without curtailing female sexual liberation. Consider these passages:

Hierarchical male loss of power that is organised through traditional power structures have been diminishing over the last 100 years, the 1960s which marked the rise of feminism aimed to improve equality between the sexes, yet a commercial prostitution and porn trade grew up in parallel, that was open and legal…In the 1960s and 1970s, women had less representation in political life to stop the legalisation of pornography and an expanding commercial sex trade. Women are not on the margins any longer, and we can face head on this attack on female humanity by male dominated robotics, AI and sex industries.

To recap:

  • sexual liberation occurred “in parallel,” but had nothing to do with, “commercial prostitution and porn”
  • the empathetic, ethical half of the population would have stopped these things if they could, but couldn’t, because reasons
  • But now they can! And it will be a full-on Luddite crusade! Deus Vult?

The second, far more logical article is called The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake. For clickbait purposes, the title is far less compelling, and even does a disservice, to its own excellent article. And while the author is clearly no ideological extremist, I believe his piece can be taken as another sign of political paradox simply because The Atlantic so proudly published it. Herein we are advised to return to the clans of yore–extended, multi-generational families–rather than the mom, dad, two kids, and a dog model caused by the urbanization of the Industrial Revolution. I would have thought that, clickbait title or no, such a wholesome suggestion would be taboo among journalism’s usual individualism-at-any-cost crowd. But apparently even they have stared into the abyss of San Francisco and recoiled at what they saw there. Put down the fentanyl and get thee to a nunnery–or at least the suburbs, for Chrissakes!

Meanwhile on the right, we find the “alt-right” and the “Intellectual Dark Web” irreverently championing free speech while the far-left embraces censorship in the name of anti-fascism and combating “hate speech.” Thus a Canadian professor of psychology became American conservatism’s figurehead. I am reminded of the scene from The Simpsons Movie, wherein, at the apparent End of the World, everyone in the bar runs over to the church, and everyone in the church runs over to the bar (11 seconds in).

If I could boil this phenomenon down to a single word, I think it would have to be decentralization. Yeah, “everything’s coming apart,” but not in quite the apocalyptic way. It may feel like there are more extremists than ever before, or that they are getting louder–but this is not a sign of their strength. It’s a sign that even they are having a hard time taking themselves seriously anymore. The ego of the developed world is in its deaththrows. This process can be halted by catastrophe. But in the absence of any real problems, we are jousting at windmills. The Right is worried about free speech when there’s never been more of it; the Left is worried about violence when there’s never been less of it. We’re continuing to take turns in a game that no longer exists. I think it’ll end when we really and truly realize that we don’t need each other anymore. Necessity has been removed as a factor. We’re about to find out who we really are, and we’re going to do it alone.

Artist-Over-Art and Becoming What One Despises

Carlos Greaves’ recent McSweeney’s piece (which satirizes authors writing novels about contemporary communities they do not belong to) is one for the history books. Within it he manages to straddle the very delicate balance of espousing an opinion the political left-wing, particularly the Twitter left-wing, would wholeheartedly agree with, without coming off as a triggered snowflake exposed to right-wing lampooning. He does this with blatant, self-aware strawman-ing (watching Desperate Housewives as sufficient research) and by sharing the satirical ire among the intended authors and their effete publishers and reviewers (Ricky Martin and Antonio Banderas as the sycophantic critics of the dubious novel). While I doubt Mark Twain would endorse Greaves’ message, I suspect he would acknowledge its fine craftsmanship.

Without intending to kill the enjoyable catharsis of comedy by over-analysis, one can’t help but take the piece a bit literally since it comes so close on the heels of the American Dirt debacle, wherein authors have arguably called for the censorship of another author on identity-politic grounds. The offender is a “white Latina” who apparently isn’t Latina enough to write a novel about Mexico. Whether there are actual, factual inaccuracies in the book that add to the validity of these criticisms, I do not know. But I do know that I utterly detest what this phenomenon represents on a grander scale: Artist-Over-Art.

“Blind” submission processes exist for a reason–good art is good art regardless of who made it. If Hitler painted a decent architectural scene, that painting remains decent no matter how indecent the man. This is one of the many ‘unwritten rules’ of Western civilization that postmodernists (or Marxists-about-Starbucks, as I call them) would like to do away with, for it is impossible to enforce equality within any unconstrained–and thus Darwinian–space. Their argument, of course, is that inequality has been enforced by historic socio-cultural racio-religious norms, and thus that they are merely attempting to restore an equitable balance by subverting oppressive tradition. My casual reply to this is basically that I do not consider a Harrison Bergereon reality to be more desirable than a Hunger Games reality–and indeed, it seems to me that a Hunger Games has greater potential to cause unintentionally noble outcomes. And with ever-increasing numbers of presses and literary agents feeling the need to stipulate who they want to publish more-so than what they want to publish, it appears that they are well on the way to dethroning the identity-impartiality of artistic creation. Social justice, it seems, is not blind.

I suspect this outcome will be most pleasing until an ethno-state decides to appropriate it–then will there be much weeping and gnashing of teeth as the ‘antifascists’ realize that they were the ones to renew a core tenant of fascistic speech restriction. In the developed world’s smug self-satisfaction, we have utterly forgotten a crucial realization born of World War 2: whether the man with the gun is wearing the Deathshead and calls you a filthy Jew, or is wearing the Hammer-and-Sickle and calls you a filthy capitalist, he is still going to shoot you. Or, perhaps we have not forgotten it; perhaps we only care which side of the gun we are on.

I also find it odd that many of the masons who are busy paving this road to hell continue to delight in calling others Uncle Tom’s. I am afraid that the historical social-cultural racio-religious origins of that expression are from Harriet Beecher Stowe–a white woman writing about African Americans. So, per your own insistence that persons who are not from a particular community may not write about a particular community, kindly invent your own invective. Mrs Stowe isn’t the only casualty to the feminist authorship cause either: Pearl S Buck’s wonderful The Good Earth has got to go, seeing as she wasn’t Chinese. And we can’t just pick on the ladies, either. Where did that Frenchman get off critiquing Americans, anyway? There goes Democracy in America. In fact, the entire genre of travel literature can be done away with. Cya, Marco Polo. Julius Caesar contribute to our understanding of Gaul? Please! Come to think of it, we better just start burning books to be safe.

Despite these and many more unintended consequences, I don’t think I would be nearly so irked by these social justice fixations if their proselytizers seemed just a tad more genuine. Surely that’s the key to being a successful extremist or fundamentalist; you at least have to come across as consistent and committed. Think Che Guevera. While Fidel hammed it up in the 5-star hotels, he was off to the next jungle. But these callousless hands clutched about Apple products, likely shaking from their ever-burgeoning collection of antidepressants? Why, I wouldn’t follow them into a Chuck E Cheese, much less a battlefield. Unfortunately, it is those very hands that are going to start determining elections in the near future. Voyeurs who breath the air of the real world without ever having dipped a pinky within it are soon to control it. The meek shall inherit the Earth indeed; but unfortunately it seems they are not meek about letting institutions do their dirty work for them.