Friday, April 17, 2009

The culture war explodes

In a response to the article about why the Tea Party protests don't make sense, and the right's desire for Libertarianism is just ducking the issue, someone made an insightful point:


That's exactly how the majority of my conservative friends (who are mainly successful engineers, lawyers, and programmers) feel. They feel like they're holding up -their- end of the stick, and a bunch of greedy losers are trying to penalize them for it.

spl311


I think he correctly identifies how most responsible people in this country feel. Some, defending the liberal values they have spent much of their lives promoting, are choking down their true feelings in order to stay ideologically-consistent, but even they seem to be waning.

The problem that no one will address is that the "greedy losers" are motivated by revenge because their irresponsibility arises from incompetence. I am guessing most of their incompetence is biological. If your ancestors were peasants, laborers or from countries that never developed complex social and legal systems, you lack the necessary circuits to adapt to our modern world.

The result of this biological lack is incompetence at dealing with our society, which results in these people ending up in debt, with low earnings, and no particular ability to call their own. They feel like failures, and their lives are disorganized disasters. As a result of that, they must find someone else to blame -- because that's the only way you can keep feeling good about themselves.

The culture wars of the last fifty years boil down to this. On one side you have the suburban middle classes, who view themselves as responsible and basically want to be left alone. On the other you have the impoverished or underachieving, who are either too incompetent or too neurotic to do well, and perceive themselves as being left behind by the middle classes.

(The super-rich strike me as mostly autistic: they see a financial system and master it, and don't think about much else. They assume that civilization works like laws or computer code, forgetting how easily those laws are discarded when angry mobs gather.)

Interesting, the responsible people -- the middle classes -- tend to have a morality which represents European Christianity with a few modifications. Don't kill, rape, steal, etc. Be family-oriented and keep public discourse family-oriented -- we don't want to have to explain rape or why Jimmy has two daddies to our kids; we want them to see successful, responsible, healthy, moral heterosexual role models. And so on.

Right now, the irresponsible and those who profit from them -- mostly in the media industry -- have gathered behind a religious hatred of George W. Bush and a religious adulation of Barack Obama, which are one and the same, and as a result they temporarily have power.

But the culture wars, which are stand-ins for class conflict, ethnic conflict and values conflict, remain.

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Subvert the dominant paradigm, don't be a solipsist.

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