Sipping tea and sweet civility, while living when the gods are back in the sky
Andrew O’Hehir recently wrote about the Republican victories in the midterm election, saying essentially that it really doesn’t matter if one party wins or loses because without systematic change, either way we’re headed for doom. Specifically he wrote:
This is not a “seismic shift” in favor of the Republicans or the so-called conservative agenda, no matter what John Boehner and Mitch McConnell may say this week. Reading an off-year election result as an indicator of larger societal trends is like interpreting a blizzard as evidence against global warming. The political clock is already ticking toward 2016, when the pendulum will swing in the other direction and Democrats are nearly certain to win back some or all of what they just lost in Congress. If the human conundrum known as Hillary Clinton runs for president she will be the prohibitive favorite; Democrats have won the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. No, what the dire 2014 midterms really tell us is that the entire electoral system is on the critical list, stuck in a “Groundhog Day” wave pattern of bitterness, stagnation and cynicism. For one thing, it’s built around two political parties who despise each other with a passion and who represent profound cultural divisions in American society, but whose vague ideologies (as I have repeatedly argued) are suspiciously similar when it comes to fundamentals.
And finished with:
But I’m honestly not sure it would be worse than the more plausible disaster scenario, the world-historical transformation that is already well underway.
That’s the one in which the United States is slowly bankrupted into permanent dependency by endless, secret foreign wars while tiny cadres of the ultra-rich squabble over control of the economy. Electoral politics is angrily contested over a narrow but contentious range of lifestyle issues, and drives away all but the most committed culture warriors on either side. Nothing is done about the warming climate, the poisoning of the air, water and soil, the elimination of biodiversity or the mass extinction of other species. Lost in our 14-hour workdays and our consumer bubbles of pretend affluence, we don’t really pay attention, although we’re sad about the pandas and the polar bears and we hope somebody will do something about it eventually. In due course the political stalemate between Republicans and Democrats stops mattering, stops existing and is gone with the wind.
My response to his article:
Historically we only get a society where both those of more loving childrearing—i.e. progressives —and those of worse agree to collectively allow themselves a society substantially better than what their parents knew, after periods of massive sacrifice—tons of lost wealth, tons of wasted, destroyed lives. After Depression. After World War. The progressives are allowed to lead, and people who as children knew parents who perennially scolded/abandoned them for being spoiled sh_ts for some time allow themselves huge advancements in income and entitlement over what their parents knew — without feeling it'll earn them some horrible apocalyptic punishment. The angry, punitive gods are cleared out of the sky. People spoil; people swing, relax and play. And the skies remain blue and clear.
Outside these times, getting the divide we're witnessing now isn't the worst of things. It means the regressives are way past their ability to tolerate "selfish" societal advancement and are going amok as society refuses them the specific exo-structure they need to split off and handle their childhood trauma-based need to punish "bad children" everywhere; but also that there are plenty of progressives around who still want it bad.
It is encouraging to hear amidst this Republican takeover that that other great story we've been hearing about—progressives cities insisting on a certain standard of life for all of its citizens—rolls on. We aren't now just left with wondering how hawkish our democrats must become, but that whatever their pose, surprises of wonderful enlightenment are showering confidently around us. It is encouraging to hear of cities, rather than nations, because somehow it bespeaks the consciousness of the progressive who's outgrown the need for a nation and has joined progressive peoples in cities/cultures everywhere who've insisted on the same thing. Is the citizenry of San Fran and Seattle “American”? Or do they seem more those who've eluded the nation to sip tea and share civility with urban Tokyo, Paris and Stockholm?
If we haven't yet suffered through a period of mass carnage where regressive elements took full control of society, and we hear that the split between political parties is waning, this will not mean the bottom's being pushed up but everyone's experiencing a regressive slide. Society is growing beyond almost everyone's ability to tolerate, and everyone is feeling abandoned and terribly guilty. Everyone begins to insist on pledging loyalty to ostensibly less selfish, more self-sacrificial old ways and for the spoiled narcissists of society, who keep unrepentantly pushing for more, to get their comeuppance. Their grouping together will be their returning as good boys and girls to the hearth of their long-neglected, all-good mother. All their "badness" will be projected onto others, as will all their mothers' actually very much existing, terrible, terrifying aspects.
So if Hillary becomes this all-powerful leader this won't owe to astute self-attentuation, malleability ... to being able to adroitly fit herself according to needs. It'll owe to the fact that she like the rest of the nation is experiencing a psychic change where that part most of us possess which obliges us to project onto others and hate, is taking up more and more of our daily life. That psyche, amygdala-based and built out of early-suffered child neglect/abuse, that we switched into here and there, has more or less taken over.
This hasn't happened; but we can already look around and see some considerable signs of collusion with the regressive mindset—specifically, deflation economics. If all progressives were of the emotional makeup of Paul Krugman we wouldn't have the whole world agreeing to insanely staunch their growth by agreeing to high interest rates. Many are already wobbling in their ability to not feel guilty as society advances, and so cannot be shaken out of seeing, in feeling, reason in deflationary economics: with this, they unconsciously understand, will follow a whole field of broken, stilled lives, unrealized dreams: the sacrifices that must be produced for any kind of societal advance to feel permitted at all.
We should note we can also see here on this website some signs of regression. Brittney Cooper's recent article where she says she's woken out of a mindset that had her thinking life should be about enrichment and admiring youthful Obama as exemplifying this goal, to return to long-spurned elders who'd lived self-denying lives of sacrifice, is worrying. She talks enough of this and how different is she from anyone who sees the bleak, wasted face of the Great Depression-sufferer, and sees someone who now can be loved? How different is she from the person who hears of someone working the fourteen-hour days Andrew refers to and not immediately feeling outrage but of someone virtuous, someone victorious in being ground so hard they’re purged of sin?