Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What time is it? Oop...1969 already!

I try to steer clear of talking about politics, particularly on the internet. I believe the internet is the worst possible medium through which to try to engage in constructive political discussions or dialogue. People can passive aggressively snipe at random in complete anonymity and get completely away with it. I avoid reading user comments on news websites for this reason. You cannot go three comments into the thread without somebody hurling a vicious ad hominem attack or engaging in a complete illogical diatribe; any further constructive discussion is moot at this point because the discussion turns from the political to the polemic.

I attribute the roots of this bizarre modern cultural annoyance affectation only partially to the advent of things like the internet and modern instant communion technology. I believe it has as much to do with the fact that virtually no schools anymore teach Latin. It is not so much the absence of Latin in itself that is the problem, but I believe that once the schools in the country could no longer even see the value in teaching Latin the problems in education really began. In teaching Latin, one has to cover the rules of rhetoric and logic, because the Latin language system itself was premised largely on them. To study Latin is to study the base premises of making logical arguments. This is something that individualist American culture fails to understand. There is a different between rational logic and emotive rants. An emotive rant does not prove anything by definition because it is governed by the passions, which are themselves illogical.

I believe the Occupy Wall Street movement is the perfect example of emotive irrationality. I have attempted to understand and listen to the Occupy Wall Street crowd as much as I am able. It is fascinating in a Political science analysis sort of way. The entire movement, as far as I can tell, is completely premised on the appeal to the emotions. They seem to be all for "wealth redistribution" and "ending inequality" and all that. Those are ideals that are in and of themselves not necessary bad. However, when one tries to actually discuss issues of exactly how this movement is going to bring about this wealth redistribution or how they are going to end inequality, their process and logic suddenly gets extremely fuzzy.

For example, one guy I have been corresponding who is active in the movement is advocating Proletariat revolution. He does not quite go to that extreme in explaining his ends, but he has certainly been quoting Marxist dogma to me in our correspondences, and the only logical end that I can see from what he is advocating is violence of the Marxist style.  But then I have another friend who is extremely sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street crowd (I think he's even gone to a few protests), and he's a flaming Ron Paul-style Libertarian that wants to basically repeal the Federal government. Thus, the only logical conclusion I can come to from his perspective is yet another form of violence in the form of an economy dominated by Laissez Faire capitalism, where it is very much every man for himself, by your own bootstraps kind of thing.

And herein is I think the inherent weakness of movements that are fueled not so much by logic and rational thought as they are by emotive appeals. The passions wax and wane, and so do movements based upon the passions. Take a page (or several pages) from history of movements based primarily emotive appeals. Take, for instance, the Free Silver movement. The Occupy Wall Street movement is largely recycling all of the emotive argumentation of the Free Silver advocates in the late-1800's. Anti-Robber barons, anti-Wall Street, anti-Corporations: it is all from a previously used play book.

I am not against people protesting. If they feel that's what they need to do, then more power to them. My question remains of what exactly they hope to accomplish long term. This level of sentiment that is basically anti-everything is not going to last forever. You need to be clear what your goals are and how you hope to achieve those goals before you lose your emotive momentum.

Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

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