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.

Preview of my Upcoming Novel

The first draft began around Christmas 2018, but the idea is much older. It came to me in Calhoun, Georgia around the age of seven or eight. It must have been informed by my mom telling me that the land we lived upon had once belonged to the Cherokee natives. We were, after all, only five minutes’ drive from where the Trail of Tears began. I remember ranking Andrew Jackson as my least-favorite president after I learned the back-stabbing role be played in the Cherokee removal. And I also vaguely recall being awed by Sequoyah–whom the sequoia redwoods were probably named after–an illiterate who made a written language from scratch to preserve what was left of his people’s culture.

The idea, quite simply, was of a sickly medicine man teaching his apprentice everything he knows before he dies. Eventually, a secondary layer was added: how might a powerful medicine man have tried to prevent the Trail of Tears if he had foreknowledge of it?

After a decade and a half of letting this concept simmer in the subconscious, my two main characters eventually let themselves in and began telling me their story. It seems that theirs is a sort of American Divine Comedy or Cherokee 300–romanticizing yet simultaneously reappraising the mythos of the United States in all sorts of unexpected ways.

Understanding them has so-far required two feet-worth of reference books. Cherokee culture is singular and thus challenging to learn; the lingering presence of any inapplicable “Cowboys and Indians” tropes (teepees, horses) is disastrous, especially when the story’s main setting predates Columbus and De Soto. My general ignorance of forestry/ecology has also had to be addressed. The goal, of course, is to notice all that they would have noticed.

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Without such details–simply jotting down the 5 W’s of the plot–their story is novella-length at roughly 15K words. But I will not be content until it’s a seething mass of fever-dream-like attention to detail at least in the neighborhood of novel-length. As far as timing, I am intentionally maintaining a slow-and-steady pace, because if I have one complaint with my previous self-publications, it’s that I was in too much of a hurry and it occasionally shows. Because this one will be pitched to literary agents or at least small third-party publishers, I am taking my sweet time and will continue redrafting until I’ve read something that could at least shiver in the shadow of American Greats like Jack London or John Steinbeck.

That being said, my best guess is that I will finish in 2020, which puts publication into 2021 or 2022. Now that I am well into the third draft, I not only hope but expect that it will be worth the wait.

-CLW