Monday, April 27, 2009

On partisanship

I think one of the things that most saddens me in the ongoing discussions in the news about torture is that there are any ongoing discussions at all.

Do we think for one blind minute that any conservative commentators would be justifying torture, or memos authorizing the use of torture, or calling them "enhanced interrogation techniques" if they had been employed by a Democratic administration? And I would hate to think that Democratic commentators would be doing the same kind of mental gymnastics that Republican commentators are currently doing had the situation been reversed, but I fear it might be so. Because the rule of the day seems to be Party Uber Alles. And it is amazing to me how few people seem willing to say "This is wrong" simply because it's wrong rather than because it's a chance to win.

This morning I read a commencement speech by David Foster Wallace (given at Kenyon College, actually), recommended by someone I follow on Twitter, that really hits its stride toward the end.

Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful, it's that they're unconscious. They are default settings.

They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing.

I suspect that's what we're seeing: partisanship as unconscious worship, as default settings. How far do that road do we have to go before we snap ourselves out of it?

1 comment:

qoe said...

This "unconsciousness" you describe has actually evolved over the past 40 years or longer. In the 60s, radical youth set out to change the world, but in the 70s started to settle into the work force, and during the 80s emulated the establishment (the image making wardrobe, cars, homes, etc.), because, gee, everyone was making money, so why not join them. And the trend seemed upward forever!

We have been deluding ourselves about a lot of things for a long time. We celebrate Earth Day, but we have no national recycling industry--our recycling is sent to other countries and --PRESTO-- recyclable garbage becomes NIMBY! How green is that? Talk about pollution and waste, to ship our garbage to another country?!!! Irrational and crazy.

We have been trained, and have capitulated, to formulating the logic of our actions by way of our pocketbooks. We can, therefore, purchase bigger and better cars, rather than find ways to live without commuting by car. We can purchase a home on credit, even if our credit isn't so good. Buy now, think about the consequences of buying later. Be a patriot, stimulate the economy--go out and BUY!

This did not happen over night. This has happened over the course of generations. And those who have led the way have been the very ones who are right there to collect the cash we shell out, while we are deluding ourselves that we can buy happiness. We are slaves to uber-capitalism.

The piper is piping. Who will pay the price? If you think it is the crooks that have been ripping us off because they are unregulated, think again.

The great hope of this administration is, sadly, rapidly diminishing in the reality that not much is going to change. The robber-baron banks are being paid to keep up the good work, the economy continues to spiral downward, jobs continue to be cut so that the middle and upper management can maintain their lavish lifestyles. The bottom lines numbers are all manufactured lies (read:"The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One" by William Black).

Bipartisanship could very well be another name for homogenous. If you look closely, it is difficult to see party differences, and there is very little opposition to the irrational policies that are being approved.

The beat goes on. Look for more and expanded war zones. Look for worldwide famine and private ownership of food and water.

Watch and pray.