Because if I don’t talk about it here I might explode


1) Political opinions vary along multiple axes. A two-party system can’t possibly represent all opinions faithfully.
2) In the USA, the two parties’ positions on the geo-political and national security axes can only be distinguished by trained experts.
3) Their positions on the economic axis vary, but not in a way that honestly matters to the average voter. Their positions on the social justice axis vary, but not in a way that honestly matters to large donors, lobbyists, and other policy setters.
4) Consequently both parties treat social justice issues as not much more than a flag, around which to rally voters to economic policies that would otherwise either bore them or horrify them.
5) Democrats approach this from a position of pride, assuming that if they simply take the correct positions then voters will accumulate to them by right. Republicans approach this from a position of cynicism, assuming that if they scapegoat the correct people then voters will accumulate to them out of spite.
6) But ultimately both are basically taking social issues hostage in the service of an economic agenda.

Enter Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Bernie’s trying to do the honorable thing, staking an economic position which I think he honestly believes and which distinguishes him from the establishment candidates. I think he’s genuinely trying to lead. But he fucked it up. His position on the social justice axis was weak; he basically walked right into the establishment Democrats’ first line of defense and let them feel smug about it in the bargain. Worse he fell in with a core group of supporters who are more than willing to shoot the hostage, so to speak. He’s not going to succeed, and he’s going to make things worse in the process, wounding the Democratic party but not killing it.

Donald’s trying (and succeeding) to do the deeply cynical thing, calling the Republican’s bluff and taking over their con. It’s breathtaking in its horror, an extended fart in a funeral by a man I think genuinely doesn’t give a rat’s ass about any agenda other than his own glory. He’s doing better than Bernie, though, because he identified a better attack vector.  And everyone on the planet who isn’t Donald Trump is going to be poorer for it.

The best-case scenario now is a Hillary win and a cementing of the Democratic party into power for a decade, but that’s not a good enough scenario.

What was needed was the opposite of Trump: someone to call the Democratic party’s bluff on social issues and stake out a new position on economic issues, but from a place of genuine idealism instead of Trump’s uncaring cynical pandering. Someone to shatter the Democratic party the way Trump is shattering the Republicans, but to build something better in it’s wake instead of just pissing on the ashes. Bernie wasn’t it. He did half a job, which may have been worse than no job at all. Better now to just burn both parties down.


Why I’m a cynic

This is how we treat each other.

This is how we treat the world around us.

And this is how well the substitute worlds we build work.

In the face of this, what else can we do but show compassion to one another as we fly over the cliff?

On Truth

We hate truth and abhor it as a culture.

We form “polite fictions” to keep us from saying the truth out loud; we let media companies distract us to keep us from contemplating the truth around us; we worship cynicism and detachment as a culture to keep us from voicing the truth in our hearts. We drive ourselves to collective insanity to avoid coming to terms with anything approaching the truth.

Is it that the truth is too big? Or our hearts too small?

On persuasion

I used to think that rhetoric never convinced anyone of anything. Cold, hard, evidence, sometimes, but never rhetoric. (So why do I have a blog? Shut up.[1])

Now I’m wondering if that’s oddly backwards. If maybe one can’t help but convince people of things whenever you open your mouth…just never what you set out to convince them of.

[1]”Please listen to me” is on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right?

I understand how the Codensity operator optimizes a certain class of functions!

This is not the most useless thing I’ve ever learned, but it’s pretty close.

That game,

That game, where the first person to get emotional loses? It’s a shit game.

Put not your faith in heroes

Heroes never disappoint. But you can’t accept other people (or yourself) unless you can handle them disappointing you from time to time.

Heroes are flawless. But you can’t accept other people (or yourself) unless you can accept their flaws as well.

But worst of all, heroes imply villains. If you put your faith in heroes (or think of yourself as a hero) you’ll find yourself looking for people to think of as villains.

There are no villains, and no heroes. Because there are no sides.

I resolve

I resolve to be sincere, and not afraid to be sincere. Somehow we’ve inherited a culture that looks down on sincerity, that sneers at it and distrusts it. Enough of that.

I resolve to listen to something that makes me uncomfortable.

I resolve to not detach from those close to me, and not to hide one part of myself from another part of my life.

I resolve to admit when I’m wrong.

I resolve not to win.

And I resolve to come to terms with my anger: not to hide or suppress it, not to blindly express it, but to try and recognize the 99% of the time when it’s blinding me to the truth and the 1% when it’s capable of motivating change.

You will have to change.

I mention this because it seems to terrify people, so let’s get it up front and centre so we can get over it.

The world is not going to get fixed around you, with you sitting serenely untouched in the centre. Each of us is going to have to put our own house in order. Each of us is going to have to look inward, find those places where we are wrong, and root them out. Your heart and mind are the foundation. Without securing that foundation, we cannot build safely on top of it. And without recognizing it’s initial flaws, and seeing the effects of those classes on others, we cannot truly connect to others and move forward together.

(Topical example of the day: Darren Wilson. There’s a man who’s never looked inward or asked himself if he might be wrong. And that’s why he’s a failure, a coward, and a monster.)

Would it be uncouth to say today…

…that remembering is good and proper, but we also need to learn?