Monday, July 26, 2004

I Don't Care as a Political Philosophy

"Ideology is a form of theoretical conscription: everyone...is assigned to one side or another. In this battle, there are no civilians...Ideology rejects any claim of neutrality as an imposture.”

Kenneth Minogue, Alien Powers: The Pure Theory of Ideology.

We live under the tyranny of “causes”. Our society is governed by “causes” or “issues”. Our behavior is measured by them. How much do we care about conservatism, patriotism, environmentalism, classism, racism, feminism, liberalism? It is the despotism of “isms”. We are expected to care, to invest time and treasure and energy and emotion on issues. The true believers (how few of them there actually are they never want to reveal), the unofficial kommisariat stand watch over us, making sure we voice the appropriate sentiments using the prescribed vocabulary. If we fail we run the risk of being labeled racist, sexist, or liberal. We become “unpersons”. The kommisariat is so effective they rarely need thought police. We self-censor. We have shackled ourselves.

I am declaring my independence. I am freeing myself of the bonds placed on me by an unjust society. I choose to walk a separate path than one outlined for me. I am shaking off the shackles imposed on all of us. I am free. I refuse to care about your “ism” any more. I will not be subject to a list of approved beliefs required of me simply because it falls into your “ism”. If I think people should be given what is their due in life, it isn’t because I am outraged at racism in America; it is because that is how I would like to be treated. If I think that we should find a way to do things that do as little damage to the environment as possible, it isn’t because I have subscribed to the fashionable misanthropy so popular among the tree-huggers, but because I realized that I live here. If I oppose high taxes, it isn’t because I believe that every word Reagan uttered is holy writ, or that Divine Wisdom resides with the Republican party; I simply believe that a worker is worth his wage, and to confiscate up to 40 % of his paycheck is theft. If I believe in welfare reform, it isn’t because I hate the poor; I just think that the easiest way to take away a man’s dignity is to make him go through life with his hand out.

The time has come to surrender the politics and ideology of groups. The ready-made, off-the-rack belief systems are now “one-size-fits-all”. One word is enough to conjure up a prix fixe menu of beliefs. One word is not enough to describe a human being.

Here is my manifesto: I don’t care. I refuse the false duality of “either you’re for us or you’re against us”. I don’t care for or against. I am a free agent. I set the terms of my assent or dissent. If you want my support you have to fit my laundry list of conditions. You have to conform to my beliefs. Or at least, you have to leave me alone. In fact, I prefer you leave me alone.

APATHISM, the newest political movement. People who band together to reject the self-appointed "leaders" demanding our fealty and attention to keep them in power. People who band together to tell the government to get bent, to tell social organizations to leave us the hell alone. People who band together for the sole purpose of helping each other best work out their appropriate ends, free from intereference and "caring".

"She was a person who lived for others. You can tell the others by their hunted expression."
C.S.Lewis
APATHISM rejects people who say they care, who share our pain, who get weepy when they hear a tragic tale. APATHISM is hard-headed objectivity, looking to our ultimate, objective good. APATHISM rejects the notion that we have to suffer the tragedies of others. If a person needs help, I will help. Don't expect me to care, and want to talk about my feelings.
Perhaps if we "cared" less, we would think more, and would find again a solid intellectual ground to establish our lives and our nation.
More importantly, perhaps then those self-righteous clowns out there would leave me the hell alone.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Never Trust Anyone Under 40

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way," "Never trust anyone over 30," "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."  How many more of these slogans can you think up?  It isn't as if we haven't had them drummed into our consciounessby baby-boomer public school teacher out to "touch the future." They set out to create a carbon-copy of themselves.  They are superior, aren't they?

Cards on the table, baby boomers suck.  They have had a stranglehold on information, culture, and politics for long enough to screw up the nation, and now they are passing it on to future generations.  Generation X, our generation, has had to live with the self-righteous absentee parents of the Baby Boom.  While they were off "fulfilling themselves", we were raising ourselves, dealing with the fact that we were, at best, furniture, accessories for a "complete life": the perfect career, the perfect marriage, the perfect house (tastefully appointed and decorated professionally, of course), the perfect car, and the perfect children (no more than 2, preferably a boy and a girl, dressed up in Baby Gap).  We were trotted out as a counterpoint to the furniture and the drapes.

At worst, we were an obstacle, an anchor, the proverbial albatross about the neck.  We were shoved into baby warehouses for day-care, turned over to au pairs for attention, and expected to be grateful to see our parents for the bare minutes between dinner (with grandma, or the nanny) and bedtime.  We were the first generation to experience "quality time". 

And now, having survived this nightmare of parental neglect, we have raised ourselves into adulthood, learned to be responsible, and taken up our lives.  And yet we  are still beset by Boomers.  We are the Adult Children of Baby Boomers.  It is telling that their generational name contains the word "baby".

They look back on the days when they were young and "involved", and begrudge us our cynicism.  For them, the sixties were a time of political idealism, a philosophical search for truth and authenticity, and shattering old forms and boundaries.  For us, it was a time of complete and total self-obsession, and lack of accountability.  They were (and are), like toddlers: little bundles of appetite and impulse, with no sense of control.

And what of the world they left us? 

The protests they carried out encouraged our enemies and weakened our national resolve, and lead to a failed war effort.  For years after that, there was no political will to fight, and so our national enemies became bolder.  Do you think the US embassy in Teheran would have fallen if we had a strong military, and the will to use it?  But we didn't. 

The Boomers, having brought down our military, set their eyes on the presidency, and brought down Nixon, and Ford after him, and gave us Jimmy Carter, a small man filled with ambition, and the inability to make any decision greater than how high to set the thermostat in winter.  And when the time came to take their role on the national stage, who did they choose?  A perpetually priapic adolescent, wandering the hallways of the White House, a cigar in one hand, and his phallus in the other, seeking out gullible interns.  A man so pathetic, even in scandal he couldn't rise to greatness.  At least Nixon gave us a constitutional crisis.  All he did was give us  a new euphemism for oral sex.

On the cultural front, the evidence speaks for itself.  After they came of age, 50% of all marriages ended in divorce.  The more divorce, the more single parents.  FBI statistics show that children of single parents are 33 times more in danger of abuse, sexual, physical, emotional abuse at the hands of the parent's new partner.  Children of divorced parents are in greater danger of abusing drugs and alchohol, and eventually, of abusing their own spouses and children.  But who cares?  It is the happiness of the Boomer "parent" that counts.

That is, of course, if those children survive.  Let's face it, 43 million dead is a holocaust.  43 million dead since 1973, when it was decided that infanticide was a constitutional right.  What message does that send?  Hey, kid, you're loved?  Or hey, kid, you're lucky?  Remember, a perfect Boomer household has two children, no more (think Brandon and Brenda).  If you are number three, well, you don't fit the plan.  Sorry pal.

But the cultural advances!  Theirs was the first generation to force the government to take a serious look at poverty, and education.  The war on poverty has been on since 1965, and consumed more than 1 trillion dollars.  And there are still poor.  Education has consumer 6 trillion dollars, and scores have fallen every year.  Companies don't go overseas for employees because they're cheaper; they do it because foreign workers are smarter, and better educated.  In 180 days of public school, how much time is spent on content, and how much is spent on "self-esteem" and "diversity" exercises?  And the people we entrust with education are the ones who fight any effort to change the status quo.

Add to that the new, enlightened attitude about sex.  With the birth control pill, women were now free from the burdensome fetters of matrimony, they could decide their destiny for themselves!  40 years later, teen pregnancy is on the rise, incidents of sexual abuse abound, and where there were only 5 types of STD before 1964, now there are more than 50, many of which show no symptoms, and are incurable.

The "Great Society" programs of Johnson have all failed, by any objective measure.  We have been fighting these wars for 40 years.  And some call Iraq a quagmire.

But what about racism?  What about it?  True, doors have been opened.  But what has happened since then?  Black academic performance is down, in social and cultural categories, such as drug abuse, broken families, domestic violence, and crime, black men and women are leading the negative statistics, and still the Boomers refuse to allow discussion of any alternate schemes.  And if a black person does lift themselves up, if they don't toe the line of the generational Taliban, they are vilified, often with the assistance of their henchmen, the house slaves who want to preserve their priveleges, and thus keep the field hands in their place.  What was the cry of the NAACP during the 2000 election?  That the Republican wanted to return the black man to the plantation?  Why would the Republicans have to?  The Democrats have kept them there for years.

In politics, the Boomers have molded that according to their own whims as well.  Filled with that sense of entitlement only the self-righteous have, they demonize and excoriate their opponents.  If you oppose me, why there must be something wrong with you, you are on the side of darkness, you are the enemy.  Why did politics get so polarized in the past 30 years?  Because the Boomers took over, and they are never wrong.

And that pretty much sums up what is wrong with that generation.  Their parents won a World War, having already survived a depression, and wanted to make things better for their children.  Would they have worked so hard if they knew they were turning out a load of selfish, self-indulgent, self-centered, self-righteous little bastards? 

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

5,000,000 Blogs and Nothing to Read

One thousand years ago, texts were written out by monks huddled in scriptoriums, quill pens scratching across vellum as an act of worship.  This was the age that brought us St. Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, Albertus Magnus, as well as the translated works of Plato and Aristotle. 
 
Now, even I can start up a blog.  And look at the quality of thinkers out there.  Michael Moore, Sean Hannity, and even Bill Clinton, ever a friend to the personal pronoun, have books, and sell millions of copies.
 
Billions of words are flying around in print, on the airwaves, and online, and yet how many of them are actually worth reading?