Tag Archives: Politics

The Invisible Beast

The political moment of today in the United States is so bizarre, it gives us Europeans cause for mirth. It does so because our worlds are an ocean apart. But that’s a mistake. They are much closer than most realize.

We should treat it with concern, not mirth.

If I have noticed anything during my life, it is that the USA is “patient zero” for socio-economic fashions and ailments alike. Everything that affected them in the past reached the old continent in less than half a dozen years. In this era of super-fast dissemination of information, this timescale will certainly be shortened.

What we saw was a country deeply divided along an ideological line, almost flawlessly to its center. The tiebreaker was forced by the hand of the beast, of the semi-conscious structure formed by the political, media, and corporate triad. This is a semi-invisible creature, one who likes to work behind the scenes, with Machiavellian refinement, but this time it was forced to reveal more of itself than ever before.

It doesn’t matter whether we like the result or not. The difference between a renowned illusionist and a charlatan is whether we can see the invisible strands.

And millions saw the strands.

David and Goliath

Today an author I enjoy wrote something along the lines of:

“The people who support implementing a monarchy do so because they want to abdicate the responsibility of participating in democracy.”

I am no  fan of monarchies, but I see this comment as lacking in generosity, and intellectually poor. For two reasons.

First: It automatically portrays those who hold a different view from the author as “lesser” people.

They are “those who want to abdicate responsibility.” IE. Lazy and / or cowardly. The idea creates a subconscious equation: if being a responsible citizen is a good thing (I think we are all in agreement here), and if desiring monarchy is abdicating this responsibility, then the people who desire a monarchy are irresponsible. And we do not like irresponsible people, do we?

Secondly: If we are going to (for brevity’s sake) reduce a complex political position to a single point, then we should choose to confront the best version of our opponent.

I do not doubt that there are those who defend the idea of monarchy so that they can be spared from the effort of thinking. But I seriously doubt that most royalists fit this description. There are other, generous things to say about monarchy, advantages it has over pure democracy.

For example, long-term plans can be made, without fearing that the next government will change everything after the next elections. This is something that is obvious even to a layman like me, after thinking about the subject for 5 minutes. Certainly, with a little study, one can find many pros and cons that come from implementing a monarchy.

We fall into this illusion: that our ideas are better if we paint our intellectual or ideological adversaries as asses. They aren’t.

We are the ones acting like asses, when we don’t make an effort to see the best in our opponents. Not because of empathy, or even fair play, but because we deprive ourselves of an opportunity to learn.

If our intellect is so great, our ideas so solid, why not test them against a worthy opponent?

Uncrowned

No matter what you think or how you feel about laws, there’s usually a reason why they are there. Maybe they have outgrown their original purpose, or became cumbersome – no matter, they are still part of the social contract.

The right way to behave is to protest against laws you feel are unjust, while abiding by them all the same.

If you live in a place where laws can’t be discussed, even by those who abide by them, then you live in a tyranny. But, if you use that as an excuse to break the law, you’re in the wrong – if you care more about making your point than respecting the social contract, you’re a radical.

And a radical is just a tyrant without a crown.