Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Rituals Of Love & Hate

Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg

- I can't tell if you are just keeping silence or have nothing to say.
- I can't either.
- But you'll respond to me if I come up with something new.
- Have you come up with something new?
- Is it true that democracy, all the way back to its experiments in ancient Athens, has been at risk from demagoguery, and from the beginning known to be at risk?
- Yes.
- And a demagogue, according to our own James Fenimore Cooper, writing in 1838, claims to represent the common people, incites intense passions among them, exploits those reactions to take power, and breaks or at least threatens established rules of political conduct, all this to serve the interests of the demagogue and his friends. Demagoguery, which can give the appearance of insanity of both leaders and led, works because it establishes ritual: tells a story of our past greatness but present weakness, identifies our enemy that is responsible for present weakness, but, the story goes, a leader has arisen who will eliminate the enemy and restore us to greatness. Alright?
- Go on.
- Here's my idea: of our two political parties, we have one that clearly is fascistic: in the story told of making the nation great again, the scapegoating, the lies, the appeals to emotion. But what if the other political party also is fascistic?
- How?
- You've explained that the difference between our political parties is that though both parties condone the silent rule of the class of the wealthy over the class of the not wealthy, one party accepts inequality among the not wealthy, the other advocates strict equality among the various sub-classes ruled over by the wealthy, the classes distinguished from each other by race, religion, sexuality, age, character. etc. Can it be that any one of these subclasses, identities we call them these days, can and does form itself into fascistic relation to other identities?
- When one identity is seen to have more power than another?
- Has more power in the limited power-world of the less wealthy in which they are locked into by the government controlled by the wealthy.
- Yet each identity commonly claims otherwise, claims to tolerate, love even, the other identities, to be flourishing in a society of identities, each tolerating the others.
- But is that true? Love requires knowledge, but isn't the relation between identity based groups that of individuals blinded by passion in the midst of a power struggle, individuals in each group competing with those in the other groups to get an equal share of the residual wealth left to them by the wealthy overlords in control of the government?
- Each identity group, in the blind passion of struggle against the other identity groups for power, though they may only get a few more crumbs fallen from the table of the wealthy, obtain the satisfaction of security from the practice of ritual.
- Yes. Outright falsehoods by members of identities are accepted because produced in the course of passion, passionate reenactment of ritual. Stolen elections, infinite number of different sexes, any number of obvious you'd think falsehoods, there is no arguing against what is the product of ritual performed passion, whether it is the passion of national revival or identity empowerment.
- And you'd like to know what I think?
- Yes.
- Aristotle believed that democracy was less liable to faction than oligarchy: the different oligarchs were every man for himself, while in democracy it was only the wealthy against the not. Do you know what happened to prove Aristotle wrong?
- The inclusion into the electorate, the stable middle class of Athens that was neither rich nor poor, that therefore could communicate calmly with reason, of all those groups that had been excluded from citizenship: immigrants, women, landless, the poor.
- We're living in this world of lies, lies that when challenged are only responded to with other lies. Maybe that's why I don't have much to say.

Further Reading: