Sunday Open Thread — November 26, 2006

I haven’t made much progress on the items I promised to write about last week, but I will get around to them.

What I’m thinking about this week: How politics is becoming less and less important, and more impotent to deal with matters that are really important. Our political systems are really incapable of dealing with complex issues, and I’m not sure they even want to — there is more political capital in ‘dumbing down’ issues to absurd, overly simple sound bites and slogans. Specifically, I don’t think the change in control of the US Congress will change anything, other than slowing the rate at which it is getting worse. The Democrats have neither the will nor the ability to start to grapple with global warming, nor to get the US quickly out of Iraq as the civil war deepens. The social and environmental issues that we need to address on a massive, coordinated scale will not be addressed by them, or any traditional political entity.

In Canada the political situation continues to deteriorate: The right-wing Conservative minority government is prostituting itself to the Quebec separatists to get their continued support for its ideologically extreme platform. The separatists don’t care what wingnut policies the government imposes on Canada — their conditions for support are to enable them to successfully launch a new separatist initiative, so they won’t be bound by any of those policies anyway. The government is publicly reneging on Kyoto, undermining that feeble first step to dealing with global warming and holding Canada up to international public ridicule. It is supporting the expansion of Canada’s Afghanistan role from futile peacemaking to waging a devastating and unwinnable full-scale war with the Taliban and local warlords. And now it is proposing some Bushian social and economic policies, including tax cuts for the rich. One step forward, two steps back.

If you wonder why I rarely write about politics any more, that’s why. It’s just a distraction, a diversion from matters that are really important, and from what the people, notgovernments, can and must do.

What’s on your mind?

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6 Responses to Sunday Open Thread — November 26, 2006

  1. David Parkinson says:

    Life goes on. Reading, thinking, working on acting as though it’s OK to be on such a long hiatus from responsibility (1.5 years and counting since we quit, sold up, & left the USA). Some days I can pull that off; other days I feel like an unemployed bum. Early training runs deep… but more than that, I really am aching to be doing something useful in the community. Reading a very interesting book by Ivan Illich, _Tools for Conviviality_. Published in 1973, but still very relevant. Here’s a sample: “This crisis may be triggered by an unforeseen event, as the Great Depression was touched off by the Wall Street Crash. Some fortuitous coincidence will render publicly obvious the structural contradictions between stated purposes and effective results in our major institutions. People will suddenly find obvious what is now evident to only a few: that the organization of the entire economy toward the “better” life has become the major enemy of the good life.” It feels as though this is starting to happen already, but maybe that’s just me projecting.

  2. Concerning politicians, I’ve often been dreaming of some kind of occupational scientific-oriented study that would disclose the reality of their work. In doing so, we might be a bit more aware of politics’ own fallacies and helplessness in following their program and addressing today’s worldchanging challenges… At the end of the day, the main problem of politicians might simply be a lack of effective means and organization?! Unless politics will endlessly deal with individual power seeking. If so, anarchism might as well pave the way to a new era…

  3. Ray Hajat says:

    Yeah, absolutely……Politics is becoming more inconsequential as the changes in consciousness progress and ratchet up as we count down to whoknowswhat?? but little things individuals can do all add up and will make a critical difference to how it plays out for each one of us.”Be the change you want to see in the world” (Ghandi)Ray

  4. Brutus says:

    I’ve been toying for some time now with the idea that our current slate of cultural and civilizational problems are not political in nature but instead outgrowths of social organization. Although we tend to live and think of ourselves as individuals or family members — a rather quaint level of social organization by current standards but the only one with substantive meaning — our sheer number has compelled us over a few thousand years to collectivize and create social institutions, which tend to take on lives of their own, no longer in the service of individuals and families. And because those institutions are mindless, soulless, and somewhat ironically invested with power over individuals, they tend to churn through people and processes in a self-perpetuating and ultimately destructive cycle. Now the size of those institutions and the problems associated with simply too many people have become unmanageable and point inextricably in the direction of collapse. While some individuals can recognize and address our problems — sometimes from within small institutions — the larger truth is that the masses and most institutions are incapable of doing so. So I’m hugely defeatist about the whole mess, but not so twisted about it that I wish to hasten the collapse, as, for instance, Derek Jensen. It’s enough for me to resist in my own small measure and find what balance may be obtainable, including psychological balance.

  5. Mariella says:

    Dear Dave : ¿Isn´t your blog a political attitud and a proposed system? ¿What is the meaning of politics? ¿Isn´t every social act of us a political act…? a Social communication – individual or groupal – representing, indicating, expressing a thinking system…. that influences the near environment of the person expressing the idea….? I personally, deeply dislike politics… but because I have incorporated a deep generalized prejudice…. I have discovered that my work is – in one way or another – a political work too…. Maybe, generalizing the idea that all political systems are disfuntional… reinforces the idea or fact and avoids good political ideas to develope… (I hope I was able to make the point…)Can´t we talk about funtional politics and disfunctional politics…. making the idea more precise?

  6. Carroll says:

    What’s on my mind? Well, I was intending to say “turkey soup” (aftermath of the holiday feast and all) but in light of the preceding comments? Perhaps not.

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