Thursday, July 4, 2013

Why We Fail

A big reason why leftists and progressives fail and lose is because the odds are stacked against us. This is a capitalist democracy and capitalists control the media and the political parties. In a system that worships profit maximization above everything else (right Milton Friedman?) human rights and democracy will always be compromised. Those who believe in higher ideals will find themselves frustrated, attacked or besieged.

Another reason is fear. Being weak, we are vulnerable. As individuals we fear police brutality, the loss of livelihoods or attacks upon our loved ones. As institutional leaders, such as the labour movement and the bigger NGOs, there's a fear of having our institutions legally eviscerated or completely shut-down should we step out of line. That's a big reason why the labour movement has endured, and continues to endure a slow death by a hundred cuts rather than take a physically militant stand.

But another important reason we fail is incompetence. We have a marked inability to understand how things really work. People create mental structures as they grow and experience the world, in order to help them to navigate new experiences. New experiences are measured according to the mental construct based on previous experiences. Somewhere along the line, leftists and progressives decided that image equals substance. That progressive rhetoric revealed progressive intentions (whatever the policies or betrayals; think Paul Martin or Barack Obama). That picket-lines and protest signs equals genuine struggle. That the rule of law held. That the media could be shamed into honesty and sense. That moral arguments could impact amoral or immoral scumbags.

The thing about people's mental constructs is that the longer they're held the more they ossify. Data that conflicts with the premises of the mental structures are ignored or discarded, because the individuals are simply incapable of processing them.

We also tend to believe that creating an answer equals solving a problem. In my non-thwap state, I told a principled, brave, committed activist that the reason thousands of people would come out to an event like the celebration of the anniversary of the discovery of DNA but not for protest rallies was because the DNA commemoration was nothing more than what it proposed to be. You came out; you formed a human double-helix, you had pictures taken, you had fun, you went home. Mission Accomplished. With an anti-war rally, you come out, you hear some speeches, you march with your signs, you go home. NOTHING ACCOMPLISHED. I said that afternoon demonstrations meant less than shit to imperialist monsters. My friend replied that of course demonstrations by themselves couldn't solve things but we shouldn't throw them away as a tactic. We shouldn't imagine the job is done because we went to a demonstration.

Left unsaid was what exactly was supposed to accompany the demonstrations. What WAS the work that needed doing after the rally was over? To repeat: Demonstrations on their own won't accomplish much, if anything. We need to do more. I have no idea what that "more" consists of.

Finally, I guess I'll say that leftists and progressives have an aversion to power and in inability to deal with it when it comes their way. A lot of leftists are frustrated despots. The reason we don't like the system is because it conflicts with our values and our individualism. Also, we don't trust power because we know what we'd be like with it. We therefore resolve to be pure and to leave power in the hands of the murderous exploiters, who we will attempt to petition and shame in order to get them to see things our way. Either that, or we join some outfit like the Liberal Party, who used to have a shot at power, and when it comes our way, we find that we've internalized the non-values of the corporate fucks who dominate it and we're justifying slashing welfare benefits or murdering trade unionists in Colombia or some other obscenity. Because we didn't prepare ourselves for power. We didn't think about it and let it carry us along.

In short: We're hopeless.

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