I am writing in praise of Pat Lang’s recent post and his keen observations into politics.
We must remember that the majority of the American public elected Trump President. That is where the real blame lies. Trump says he doesn’t like poor people, but says he loves uneducated people. Why? Because uneducated people are basically uninstructed mobs. They are suggestible. They are like sponges – their destiny is to soak things up. They can’t think except in a group. the French poet Baudelaire hated the Belgians because he said “They were born to think in unison.” On CBS Sunday Morning this week, one of my wife’s favorite shows, (not mind,) Ted Koppel did a bit that made clear that not only we do we know same things in common; we get that knowledge the same way at basically the same time. Such a thing is drastically retarding to the mind’s development.
In other words, we are in the grip of hideous uniformity. This means that what we claim to know is a very superficial brand of knowledge. It doesn’t help either that we are also a nation drowning in data. If you want to hear a weather report, it goes on for five minutes, many of the facts reheated over and over again to the point of stupefaction. What should be an alert or a heads up becomes an instance of tedious self display in order to be favorably noticed. Bah, humbug.
People are more and more like schools of minnows who swim in the same direction, then suddenly swim in other direction. They don’t break ranks, there are no minnows that desert the pack and strike out for themselves. To me that defines politics. Most people do not grasp that politics exists only because of the indifference of the majority. I won’t belong to a political party for tat reason. Whoever embraces a political party is giving up their intellectual; sovereignty and independence. A political party is a school of followers, all swimming n one direction for the sake of unity. The people I mostly talk to are usually liberals, liberals by habit, inclination, and conceit. Liberals assumed their ideas are superior to any other ideas. (I am not a conservative.) They don’t vote on the basic of evidence. They don’t vote for merit. They vote in order to admire their views because those are the most enlightened views, and their views make them extremely self-righteous about what they believe, as if no other beliefs could possibly be as compassionate, foresighted or charitable as their own.
My own views are simple – I try to vote for merit. I try to vote for honesty, for people of heart and vision. I am suspicious of politicians because most are devoured by a lust for power. That lust comprises them from the beginning. The lust for power has always destroyed the society it lives and rules in, but that is ignored. I have ideals, but I don’t take them for granted; I remain skeptical of them. I try to refine and improve and perfect them all the time. Recently, I had a discussion with two young women who voted for Hillary, and we still angered over her loss, and when I said I didn’t vote for Trump or Hillary, one was affronted. She said, Well one of them was going to run the country, so you have to vote for one of them. I told them I didn’t vote for either of them because I did not want that on my conscience. A very bright young man who wrote in Bernie Sanders on the ballot felt the same way. I asked the young women if they had studied the email scandal. They hadn’t. I said I had a file of one hundred pages showing what a conniving, heartless skunk Hillary was and would be happy to forward the file to them. I doubt they will read it. They have already been convinced.
But was my view correct? I thought it was or I wouldn’t have aired it. In any case, I dislike collectivities.
To me, the chief evil in today’s political scene is the decline of the critical spirit. What is that? It means a capacity for analyzing things in order to accurately determine their value. What does this require? You must be observant. You must be unhurried. You must be studious. The video image dominates our culture to our detriment. These images flash before us in less than a second. We have no time to examine their meaning, their accuracy or their worth because the rapidity of sequence denies us this.
What I see today is a clouding of mental alertness, a growing insensitivity of personalities because of our cultural decline. We put up with all sorts of nauseous smells, deafening noises, abrupt accidents and crashes and atrocities. Modern man is becoming increasingly insensitive, ever more addicted to constant excitement and novelty, requiring harsh stimulants, disdaining any sort of repose of the mind in order to develop it.
Our thought has its basis in perceptions. We see or hear something that strikes our mind, and it makes us curious. What was it about the sight or sound that made us want to know more about it? So we begin to investigate. We view similar perceptions. After a while we develop a sense of hierarchy, putting the most worthwhile at the top of the list. It takes critical capacity to do this. We have to observe, compare, compare again, gather more examples, and finally begin to hammer out an order of value. The brain is key to this, (I almost said, "to this process," a phrase widely overused.) The brain is always busy. It takes nothing for granted. It questions, it cross-examines. We come to our own conclusions by thinking things out. Thinking is a precarious activity. Thinking doesn't deliver certainties or ready made conclusions. Thinking simply requires we take more thought before we can rest on our opinions. We are never sure we are right in what we think until we have gathered more incidents, experiences and examples, and even then, the mind is left in suspense. What if a new experience upsets your carefully constructed hierarchy?
But the chief virtue of thought is that acts to deepen us, to widen us, make us more open to the unexpected, the unfamiliar and the novel, less able to reject things that are odd or strange. Thought keeps open the door to learning. Conceit and ignorance seal it shut.
But who today thinks of such things?