Thursday, February 2, 2017

Escaping The False Dilemma of Mainstream Politics

If you stick around this blog long enough, you will notice that there is a common theme in every entry. Yes I am anti-government for the most part and condemn every violation of Constitutional or moral law at the federal, state, county and municipal level, but government is not the only aggressor. The recent DAPL conflict and the earlier KeyStone XL Pipeline conflict demonstrated that corporations could seize private property under the false pretense of providing a public utility: an action made legal by the ruling in Kelo v. City of New London, a case in which the private developer never made good on their promises after they evicted the homeowners. The war in Afghanistan is mostly a private war, in which private contractors outnumber troops 3 to 1, or about 29,000 contractors to 9,000 troops. Chiquita hired death squads to murder labor activists in Colombia. If all governments hypothetically collapsed the next biggest entities, public corporations, would fill in the power vacuum, and we would be left with a despotism even less accountable to the people.

The common theme here is not anti-government, but opposition to the concentration of power, within any agent or corporate body, whether governmental or private. Due to the volatile nature of U.S. politics, I am constantly refining what this means. Up until 2014, the  Democratic party was the dominant contender in Washington, but the rise of populism, the election of Donald Trump, and a Republican sweep of both the House and Senate, along with a pending Supreme Court nominee, has not only shifted U.S. politics to the right, it has also split the left and right further apart. But no matter who is in charge, the concentration of power in Washington is always abused to the fullest extent tolerable by the electorate. No matter whether we have a Republican administration or a Democratic one, our constitutional rights are gradually diminished, the scope of the executive office grows, as does the overall size of the federal government, and lobbyists set their policy priorities. Their values and rhetoric may be different, but their outcomes are the same. Both share a common strategy of divide and conquer and as long as we are distracted by recycled platitudes about 'personal responsibility' and 'christian values' or 'social responsibility' and 'lgbtq rights', we are inevitably stuck in a vicious cycle of choosing lesser evils.

Expediency is the mother of despotism 


Neither party has a coherent theory of justice. No matter who is in charge, their arguments for expanding the scope of their office is usually the same; it's for 'national security', 'public safety' or 'job growth'. All are appeals to expediency. The soundness of their arguments is inconsequential; their shoddy justifications are not meant to appeal to our rationality. Fear of an external threat and anxiety over financial security is the best way to garner compliance with expedient policies. By keeping the electorate in a constant state of fear and anxiety, the political class can bypass the high road*, avoiding conscious processing, and appeal to their survival emotions (amygdala). The intended result is a collectivist mentality willing to surrender natural rights for 'security' and 'the general welfare' until the external threat or source of anxiety is removed, which is never the intention of people in power, because political power is addictive* and tends to reinforce itself. The craving for it can only be gratified by incremental power at the expense of the electorate, who will eventually find themselves under the heel of an absolutist state if they don't speak out against the early warning signs.  The electorate is being gradually conditioned to except incremental government oversight over their affairs, so that they seem commonplace.

* According to Ledoux Theory of Emotion there are two pathways for emotion: the direct pathway (low road) from thalamus to amygdala and the indirect pathway (high road) from thalamus through the cerebral cortex to the amygdala.

*Dr. Ian Robertson, in his study of baboon hierarchies, has found that feelings of power/dominance over others triggers the release of dopamine, which reinforces power grabbing behavior.

Politics is Just Another Form of Tribalism


It is a curious thing how the anti-war left went silent once Obama took over and expanded Bush's wars and continued to build his surveillance state, but now that these powers have been handed over to Trump they've completely lost their mind. The left was silent when Obama sent special forces to fight in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen without congressional approval and killed hundreds of civilians through drone warfare. The same conservatives that loudly protested Obamacare were cheering when Bush signed the largest expansion of Medicare into law. The same conservatives were silent and even dismissive when Bush turned a $120B surplus into a $1.4T deficit and added $6T to the national debt, but pretended to be deficit hawks under the Obama administration. For both sides, any policy they admonish when they don't control the White House is ok as long as it's their guy doing it. They are unprincipled men whose only precept is in-group loyalty at any cost. This is not to suggest that both parties are the same; a cursory glance at their platforms would demonstrate otherwise. What is meant here is that how party lines are drawn depends on who is in power; in particular, it depends on who controls the executive office. 

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