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DragonSpark – Politically Correct Ramblings

14 Jun

This is an elaboration on a “debate” that happened in the comment section of my submission to this week’s Speakeasy (165). SilverLeaf, a rather notorious blogger of this corner of the internet, took some of her precious time to share some insights with me on world politics, and abstract concepts like power, conflict, and cycles of chaos.
This is most likely going to be a ramble dealing with those issues, as well as a response to SilverLeaf’s most recent comment.

First, on the topic of Power, and its ability to corrupt the good will of men. My stereotypical teenager idealism and optimism refuses to admit that principle. I think power is only a source of corruption if one actively strives for it, as that power will take priority over introspection and morality, amongst other “good” traits of character. It can also become damaging if one grows too dependent of that power, or any privileges that come with an advantageous position, whether social, professional or political. However, if one can be in a position of power without becoming too reliant of the privileges that come with such a status, one can hold power without the conservation of said power becoming a priority that overtakes morality or ethical decision making. In a time of worldwide economic turmoil however, vulnerability to poverty or economic hardship makes conservation of acquired goods and privileges a bigger concern to all people (and groups/associations of people, as political parties, nations, religious groups and most institutions involving multiple people are concerned (Not to mention companies)). This economic turmoil also brings incentive for people to look for scapegoats on whom to collectively blame their problems (Has mob mentality EVER accomplished something good?), as if to persuade themselves that they have no part in the problems that plague nations and economies worldwide, as if it wasn’t their fault (and sometimes it’s not. That doesn’t justify the finger pointing though).

That brings me to my next topic of ramble: Politics and extremism. Take the situation I just described and add a new factor to the equation: A political party that likes to flatter your patriotism and national pride, and that blames the daily problems of the people on a part of society that is fundamentally “different” (Not a huge fan of the word), whether in skin colour, religion, nationality, social class etc…. Now take that entity, and make it promise to the people that they will maintain their resources and privileges if those scapegoats are removed from the equation, or, at least, prevented from taking a bigger part in it. Here in France, that phenomenon is very present. The extreme right National Front claims that foreigners from Africa and Eastern Europe are taking “French” jobs, that the Euro and the E.U. are killing the French economy, that the governing socialists are incapable of running the country (which, to their credit, is a widely spread opinion that I can, to an extent, understand). Then again, this rise of extremism cannot only be the cause of this power conservation mechanism, at least not directly. It is also caused by the mass distrust in classical parties, mostly due to their inability to deal with the consequences of 2008’s financial fallout. However that inability to solve the many problems that befell on national economies may also be tied to the power mechanism we were talking about earlier. Indeed, the crisis may have had the same effect on politicians and people of influence as it is having today on the electors/voters. They were faced with a failure on the global level. They had been elected, and now the people of their nation were faced with inflation, rising prices, and, in some cases, unemployment or homelessness. Maybe this caused them to grasp on to the power they were given access to, for fear of losing it despite their efforts. Maybe they lost focus of the problem. Maybe they lost focus of the voters who put them in that seat. That would be understandable when political rivals that were insignificant before now could claim that they had failed to protect the nation from economic hardship (an impossible task in this globalized world, by the way). So it all links back to power in a vicious circle of chaos: Rise; Corruption; Trauma; Rise.

Except that’s not quite true. Compare this situation to the last time extreme right, fascist parties were on the rise: in the 1930s and before, racism and xenophobia were widespread and part of mainstream society. Hatred was omnipresent after WW1’s “dictat”. In the meantime, we avoided an open conflict between the United States and the Soviets (which, because of the spread of nuclear weaponry, could have devastated life on Earth). This goes to show that, despite it being slow and gradual, progress is being made, and that might be best.

If we were to flip the table over and radically change society in a short period of time, then true chaos would ensue (Mao’s Great Cultural Revolution, anyone?). We will gradually improve our ability to resist corruption and hatred, learn to wield power with reason, learn to understand one another and bypass differences. Human society is like a rocket, fighting to escape Earth’s gravity: It consumes a ridiculous amount of energy, but it has the ability to elevate us above and beyond the flaws of human nature.

So, SilverLeaf, to answer your comment, no I don’t think that power is fundamentally bad, even if, in modern socio-political terms, it tends to be. As for global peace, I think and hope that we’re on the right track.

If you come across this before having seen the original, the post is here.
Don’t know who Silverleaf is? Her blog is right here.
Please do comment and thank you for your time.

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7 Comments

Posted by on 14 June 2014 in Dragonspark

 

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7 responses to “DragonSpark – Politically Correct Ramblings

  1. joetwo

    14 June 2014 at 23:34

    Times like these I am reminded of Douglas Adams and “People had come to realise that power should never ever be given to someone who actually wants it.” On a serious note the collapse in confidence in government over the last four years or so can be traced to the growing realisation amongst many that while they may promise a lot, politicians are no more qualified and as equally likely to screw up as anyone.

     
    • DragonSpark

      15 June 2014 at 10:57

      But then why turn towards extremists? Are we so vulnerable to flattery and so desperate for scapegoats?

       
      • joetwo

        15 June 2014 at 11:03

        It is more that they give easy answers. People prefer to think that there is one cause for our problems rather then the complex myriad of cause and effect that makes up our modern world. If you can blame, immigrants like they do in France or Bankers like the do here in Ireland then you don’t have to think that we all share a piece of the blame through our choices in the past.

         
      • imab00kworm

        15 June 2014 at 12:11

        I suppose if the normal ones don’t work people try to find what will work and in France for example there aren’t that many choices

         
  2. Silverleaf

    15 June 2014 at 02:39

    First of all, I’m touched at your mention(s) of me, and thank you for linking to the blog. This is such an interesting exchange – I’m really enjoying our ongoing conversation (debate?), so thank you for that, too.
    I do still believe power corrupts, mostly because people DO become dependent on it, even if it was never what they were out there to get in the first place. There are of course some shining stars who are exceptions to the rule. No one specific comes to mind, but I do have some vague recollections of mayors and the like who have been in place for decades and who really do have their communities’ best interests at heart. Generally they are non-partisan and don’t use fear to broker for, well, anything.
    The rest of the world’s leaders would do well to learn by their example. But they won’t. Because oil, because money, because (sadly – sorry, I AM pessimistic!) they just don’t want to let go once they’ve been to the top. The people who do good and make a positive difference are, for the most part, not leaders. Maybe they should be and perhaps they have decided, to their credit, that that life just isn’t for them. They help the world in other ways. They lead by example instead of by actually officially leading. And they do great things, achieve important things for their communities. But when it comes to big things like countries invading each other, global recessions, oil and other crises, they just don’t have enough power to make the difference we need them to make. It’s the great irony, and tragedy, that that thing called power allows you to make important changes but somehow corrupts you when you have it.
    Saying that, I want to believe that you are right, that we are making progress, however slowly, and that slow progress is better than radical progress. That things are – maybe, hopefully – progressing exactly as they should. And I like your rocket analogy!
    Maybe as you say power is only bad in our modern socio-economic terms. Maybe in ancient times when we were nomadic and/or tribal, organized in small communities, maybe power then worked because it wasn’t absolute power (Which, as they say, corrupts absolutely). It was more like the community leadership model I referred to earlier. And that worked. If this is the case, then we need to very slowly reorient ourselves so that those positions with great power in our global civilization don’t become corrupted, so they work like community leaders instead. God only knows how we will manage that, but I’d like to share your hope that we will figure it out at some point.

     
    • imab00kworm

      15 June 2014 at 07:59

      If I can interject here I think you’ve raised some important points and seeing the rate at which globalisation is happening I’m guessing two things could happen:
      1- continental superpowers rise until they all become countries with many states like why the European Union is trying to achieve
      2- the countries all develop their own way but there will come a point when no one country can make an important decision without consulting the others as, what with globalisation, anything one country does could end up affecting many others. This would make them work more like community leaders as you said. It won’t work out at first but as it sets in place it could be just what you were asking for.

       
    • DragonSpark

      15 June 2014 at 10:55

      You bring up an interesting point when you speak of nomadic tribes and the human way of life 3000+ years ago. I was actualy speaking of domains other than Society and Politics, like Science (Einstein, Mandaleiev) for example. Back when we were tribes, cohabitation and teamwork was a necessity, and not behaving in a selfless way meant exile or rejection from the group that provided part of your food, I assume (actualy, it’s a kind of like what you talk about in your peice about “the lost art of childhood”, how kids behave because if they do not, they get rejected from that social group (Awesome peice BTW, and prone to a whole other debate…) does that make sense to you?) With technology and abundance of first necessities in the Western world, maybe we’ve lost that “art” of wielding power, because wielding it well no longer dictates our chances of survival. Maybe we simply have to “learn” that lost art once again, avoiding WWIII and putting international institutions in place being steps in the right direction. Globalization and the multiple technology revolutions we have experienced in the last 200 years have radicaly changed our world (thus throwing society into chaos?), making it more one united entety, rather than a combination of communities and cultures. Maybe we’re just going through the cycle of adapting our “pure” community model to this brave new world.
      Maybe we just have to realise that cohabitation is just as much of a necessity now than it was 3000 years ago.
      Thank you for taking the time to read and react to this peice. I look forwards to continuing this exchange (if you have the time, will and inspiration to) or start new ones.
      See you around 😀

       

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