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DragonSpark – Politically Correct Ramblings

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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Posted by on 14 June 2014 in Dragonspark

 

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DragonSpark speakeasy 165 – Park Politics

I was walking down a park pathway. To my right was a plaza, overlooking the city. Brussels stood there, in the distance, as a steel and glass monument to Democracy and Freedom. The city housed the EU parliament, core of the world’s biggest trade block. She was the phoenix that had risen from the ashes of last century’s conflicts, and I am a cog in that machine. Men and women like me come here, dressed in Italian suits and silk dresses, with ideals of peace and prosperity, in order to make life better for those who live within our borders. Recently however, our machine has gone rusty. Some of the cogs that have been added to the machine in recent elections bring with them ideals that threw Europe into a fiery battle with itself 75 years ago.
Politicians now days focus more on themselves and each other and less on those who elected them. Politics no longer deserve the title “the people’s business”. It’s become a game played by the selfish and ruthless, the only true idealists being on the far ends of the political spectrum.
I breathed a sigh of despair as I kept walking down the path. Petals were raining down from the trees, drinking in sunlight like a sponge, making their surface vibrant with colour. Feeling the heat of the sun on my shoulders, I took off my tie and undid the top button of my shirt in an attempt to cool down. Blazer still on my back despite the sun, I kept walking, my mind absorbed in thoughts of world politics. Tensions were rising everywhere on this world of ours. There was plenty to think about.
China and Japan were arguing over claims within the China Sea. Russia and the US were once again enemies because of Ukraine. The never-ending Palestino-Israeli conflict still had NorthAfrica holding its breath, even in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Syria was still a battleground. French involvement in Africa’s wars only worsened the situation in the area. And, as if the crisis wasn’t enough to weaken the EU, she now had extreme right populists and neo-Nazis within her parliament. The dreams of those who created this institution were coming apart, and we are powerless to stop the engines, to turn the ship around before it hits the iceberg. The ones holding the stern, the people, have lost interest in the very ship they’re sailing.
I leaned over the plaza, elbows resting on the guardrail. The city was there, before me.
What would I say if the souls of Europe’s founding fathers came to me, asking why mobs of angry people were walking the streets, shouting the virtues of fascist ideals through loudspeakers? How would I justify the widening gap between rich and poor? How do I explain the mass distrust in classical parties that allowed the rise of extremists? What do I answer when they ask if I felt good about the state of the world, knowing that I had a part in its shaping?
How do they react when I say “We gave it everything we had, but it wasn’t enough”?
I slammed my right fist on top of the guard rail and spat a curse. After a moment I checked my watch. The debates would resume in half an hour. I needed to prepare myself to face new foes in the battle of words, foes that hadn’t spoken this significantly since 1933.

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Posted by on 9 June 2014 in Dragonspark, Speakeasy

 

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