I have been in a lot of political discussions lately and I have come to recognize some usually unstated assumptions. The ruling class in the United States is desperately wicked. They run this county and cause it to do terrible things. We Americans are to blame for everything our country does. This last is usually conveyed by people scolding liberals from the left for daring to criticize Donald Trump. Their statements usually go, “Where was your outrage when Obama bombed all those countries?” The underlying meaning may be that capitalism is evil under either party. But it sometimes comes across as pro-Trump. I have even seen these posts on Facebook which actually linked to pro-Trump sites.
Here is a real post as an example:
Liberal friend: “Trump won’t let my colleague’s mother visit him here !”
Me: “Fuck wealthy middle class Muslim travelers ! I just wish he’d stop bombing Donbass !”
Liberal friend: “Where’s that ?”
I didn’t know, myself. I looked it up on Google. I learned that there has been a war going on since 1994 between Russia and the Ukraine. With all the wars waged by my own country, the United States, it’s no wonder I never heard of this one. But people in Facebook seemed to think my ignorance was shameful. The quote above specifically points to ignorance about Dunbass as proof of the stupidity and hypocrisy of “liberals,” the newest hate term on the left.
Here’s what I think is wrong about the ethical Weltanschauung
stated in the first paragraph. In order to take responsibility for what the misdeeds of my country would be a 24-hour-a-day job. I ought to know. I have been a full time activist in the past. When you really get into it, you run around like a chicken without it’s head. You can put your entire energy into fighting political injustice and not scratch the surface. Suppose you want to just live your life? Are we really responsible for the crimes of others? Some people just want to live and let live. They believe that as
long as they live a “good” life, they are doing OK. Is this wrong? Some political folk will remind us that, as white Americans, we are privileged. It is our privilege not to have drones knocking the roof off our house and destroying the baby sleeping in his crib. Lots of people are not so lucky. One problem with the idea of white privilege is the fact that black and other non-white, including non-American people have the same desire to just live their life. Those who are right under the bombs don’t have the prerogative. Does that make it immoral of those who do
have the prerogative to take advantage of it?
Are we our brothers’ keepers? Cain didn’t think so. But he is considered “evil” according to the ethics of Christianity and Judaism. But, then, Cain had been the one who had slain
his brother. Those who don’t choose to live their lives trying to change “the system” haven’t personally done the “evil.” Some people dedicate their lives to righting the wrongs of the world. I find them astonishing. They seem so pure. I mean the ones who are truly motivated by idealism. I would include Diane Oughton, Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers of Weather Underground fame. The latter two have been living above ground, obeying the law and living a normal life for many years and still have stayed true to their ideals. When you hear so much about corruption, you’ve just got to admire such people. I do, anyway. But I am not like them. Such selflessness
is not part of my nature. I don’t feel obligated to give up everything in my life for a goal that benefits others. I could be corrupted if I had the choice. So did I every really believe in those ideals? What is belief? What is dedication?
As a psychopath, I am naturally detached from the fate of my fellow mortal. Being low in empathy and free of guilt, I am not pulled down by the suffering of the world. That gives me the ability to enjoy life as long as I am one of the lucky ones not to live in a war zone or be treated as a pariah. No cop every shot me just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, if I had been around in Nazi Germany, it would have been different. Now it looks like the United States is entering a period like the one Germany lived through. But, lucky me, they are going after the Muslims this time. Should I feel guilty? I don’t.
Marx stressed the importance of revolution being made by the people who were harmed by the system and who had everything to gain by overthrowing it. White and male supremacy keep people divided by giving marginal privileges to some in order to divide the people. He taught that white and male supremacy could be overcome once the people understood that giving up their petty privileges was ultimately in their own best interest. A lot of activism isn’t being led through appeal to self-interest. People are encouraged to take a stand based on morality rather than self-interest. For the same reason, people are encouraged to practice veganism.The ideal is kindness and empathy rather than throwing off the yoke of oppression. I can understand people recognizing that
logically animals have the same “right” not to suffer. Nobody wants to be taken advantage of. They certainly don’t care to be super exploited. Logically, their well-being is as justified as anyone else’s. Does this logic place a moral claim on those who have nothing to gain by sacrificing themselves for the well-being of the less fortunate? I don’t see a logical connection between one fact, the fact that we all have the right to live well doesn’t necessarily lead to the obligation to champion that “right” of others, especially if it means forsaking some of the good things in our own life.
Of course, there is the mystical idea of the Oneness of all being. As Hans Sachs sang, in Die Meistersinger, people hurt each other and don’t hear their own cry of pain.
|Wahn! Wahn! Überall Wahn!
Wohin ich forschend blick’
in Stadt-und Weltchronik,
den Grund mir aufzufinden,
warum gar bis aufs Blut
die Leut’ sich quälen und schinden
in unnütz toller Wut!
Hat keiner Lohn noch Dank davon:
in Flucht geschlagen, wähnt er zu jagen.
Hört nicht sein eigen Schmerzgekreisch,
wenn er sich wühlt ins eig’ne Fleisch,
|Delusion Delusion Everywhere delusion!
Where I look searching ‘
In town and world chronicles,
The reason to me,
Why even to the blood
The people are tormented and tortured
In useless mad rage!
Has no reward nor thanks to:
Fled into flight, he imagined to hunt.
Do not listen to his own pain,
When he digresses into his own flesh,
Only the saint or mystic really perceives other people’s pain as his own. It would be the ultimate expression of empathy. Wagner understood it but he didn’t really feel it. To see ourselves everywhere is practically a renunciation of life. Marx didn’t preach this, of course. Wagner (and Schopenhauer) see it as the highest form of consciousness. But they didn’t partake of this consciousness. Perhaps Mother Teresa did.
Many righties consider political correctness a way lefties deny freedom of speech. It’s easy to make a fetish of political correctness as a ball and chain. Theoretically, political correctness is a position arrived by a group of like-minded people after principled struggle. The position is reached with a lot of hard work and defended as something precious. But the way political correctness really operates much of the time, it is what most people consider decent and polite. It is also a position fought for by some and submitted to by others whether they like it or not. For example, the idea that a “transsexual” can change his/her gender is one people accept against their own better judgment. Insisting on calling a male-to-female tranny “she” is a form of gaslighting. People go along with it because they think it makes them decent and fair to oppressed people. But, when righties insist all political correctness be thrown out and people accept oppressive speech as legitimate, that is also a form of gaslighting. Any expression someone is bullied into accepting against his own understanding is gaslighting whether on the right or the left.