News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: What's Wrong?

Friday, April 14, 2006

What's Wrong?

What I think is often missed in the present social climate is the issue of what the problem is. Most people will say there's something wrong with the world. Think of every social ill or personal problem and put them on a spectrum from personal to socio-political. The question then becomes, how do we solve the problems? ...

The possible strategies to deal with these problems seem almost infinite. Maybe it'll help if we choose one end of the spectrum and move backward or forward. Therefore, you have the possibility of religious/philosopical pietism or ataraxia at the personal end of the spectrum and some form of social engineering at the socio-political end.

Yes, most people in the US will tell you that something's wrong, "out of joint," as Hamlet says. But where to start to deal with what's wrong?

In the present US political environment, you seem to have a group ideology, the neocons, who think that focusing on external threats will create some kind of ethos that will automatically solve, or at least ameliorate, many of the social ills inside the US.

You could call this the Imperial model, thinking of the way that Roman martial virtues were expected to sustain the socio-political environment, creating a top-down effect that brought about social and political order.

The opposing view--bypassing the pietistic for this posting--proposed by various liberal ideologies is that order is created by solving the social ills through various types of programs that are expected to isolate and solve the diverse sources of social disruption.

Liberal ideologies have sustained defeat and massive de-legitimization. After the failures of the welfare state, the Soviet Union, the war on poverty--every socially liberal solution must try to justify itself without being laughed off the podium. Therefore, you have crypto-liberals like the Clintons and Tony Blair.

The reason you see Democrats on the Imperial bandwagon (in various soft or hard versions) is because they don't necessarily agree with it but see it as an opportunity. They do not question the war or the threat because they realize how politically covenient it is.

You could say that their unprincipled, almost machiavellian acceptance of the imperial state will gain them one thing: power. They are living parasitically off of the war threat simply to advance their own cafeteria-style platform.

These comments are pretty open-ended--perhaps inherently so, given the problems. I suggest that what we're seeing is the destruction of the mdoern representative democratic model.

In its place, we'll see various forms of security state as societies try to balance not only privacy and security but also growing resentment from outside by those whose backs we live on to maintain our American lifestyle.

1 comment:

Gazooks said...

There seems to be a lot of conflicted Americans out here, good sign really. As long as we have the certain knowledge that there is little likelihood of a imminent resolution to our political and cultural dilemma, short of another century of two of these pendulous swings in social and moral mood and value, there's less likelihood of us embarrassing ourselves with frustrated expectation.
I, like a lot of American "progressives", lament the persistence of conservative "Christian" influence in American politics as an affront to rationalism. It's a conflict as old as the nation. A decent article in April Harpers by Curtis White maps the issue nicely.
It might be helpful if we're increasingly mindful of the necessity of developing and sustaining a more acute sense of imagination.
Perhaps taking some undeserved wisdom from the smoldering residue of indigenous culture that, in our haste towards enlightenment and peace and personal salvation, we've mercilessly crushed like a spent can of Bud.
It's Spring enough now to indulge a bit in a sense of renewal. A hopeful season, no?
May we then pay tribute to the recognition of our personal folly, acknowledge who and what we love, and hopefully, with humility and gratitude proceed.