Manufactured culture wars are killing our energy
Suppose a person starts a new business. Months of tireless effort ensue. It all works out. The business grows like crazy and within five years it employs a thousand people. The owner becomes wealthy.
Philosophical junction point: Did that person create a gift for society in the form of creating a thousand jobs, plus the ancillary spin off jobs created by their spending?
Or did the business owner become rich on the backs of employees, capturing the benefits of their labour for their own outsized benefit, while the employees did not become rich?
You will predominantly be drawn to one option or the other. That is the backbone of our modern free-market system, and the inherent greatness of our capitalist-based economies that are democracies – the push and pull between these two belief systems. We can rail against the other side all we like because it is a huge philosophical divide, but the fact is both types exist and have a voice/vote in a democracy.
Thus we make great progress, as society. We implement social safety nets – but not to extremes. Or, if a policy proves too extreme, the tendency is for a counterweight to be voted in next term, and the pendulum swings back.
This is what has made some of our economies so great.
If you take a room full of people and toss them a contentious issue to solve, they will work hard to find common ground, to find a starting point. Not everyone gets what they want but the result is often stronger that way.
We can tackle many tough issues this way. For example, there are some almost universal truths: no sane person likes racism (and the insane ones that do are marginalized appropriately). No one likes bullying. No one likes fraud. No one likes to see rich/powerful get away with stuff the lower rungs can’t/don’t.
But even then there are layers of complexity. I once met a teacher who thought that pushing kids around in a bit of a harsh manner was a necessity to grow up a strong person. He seemed like a bully to me, and probably a lot of his kids – but maybe not all.
Maybe someone feels their identity threatened as their neighbourhood changes from the familiar they’ve known all their lives to something new culturally. That can clearly manifest itself as racism, which could manifest itself as “I hate x” which is terrible of course, but the real cause may be something else that just is conveyed poorly and in a terrible way.
There are many nuances involved in trying to “right” social wrongs, with so many disparate viewpoints. That’s why some problems remain so entrenched. But we work at them.
And then along comes the media. The media is not “news”. The media is a fight for your eyeballs. The media loves confrontation, and problems, and terrible things. It amplifies them, shouts louder headlines, fighting for your view, your like, your share.
Social media is even worse. It is anonymous, acrid, instant feedback to people that are now ingrained to say provocative stuff. We respond on social media in ways we never would in real life.
It’s like driving a car. If someone inadvertently cuts you off, there goes the horn, lots of shouting and swearing – and that’s all because we are in the own bubble of our car (and we all forget that we all make mistakes in traffic). Someone can just as easily cut you off walking on the sidewalk, and it is highly unlikely we’d go off on the like we do in our car.
This media/social media shit-disturbing has led us to a place of instant animosity, when ironically we tend to agree on many things. People care about the environment. People care about poverty. People care about racism and homelessness and discrimination.
But their back gets up instantly when a known provocateur from the “opposing political camp” makes a statement about any of these things, because we’ve taken the public media stream of nonsense and put them in a bucket from which everything is evil.
We need a new axis. The old left-right one is ridiculous. Consider this: I get a daily news blast of something called Popular Resistance, a compendium of strong socialist-oriented news feeds from around the world. They make no bones, they are socialists. Yet here are two headlines from today’s feed: “The Sickness of the American Left and the Path to Recovery”, and, “Ridiculous Right-Wing Grifters Cash in Posing as ‘Patriotic Socialists’ “.
We also see the “fringe far-right” standing up for the working class, at the same time the “ruling elite” are now firmly to the left of the spectrum.
This crap is destroying our energy – our positive energy humanistically speaking, and our physical energy flows as we get caught up in a ridiculous political cat-fight over reducing emissions. We all want to reduce emissions. We all want a good standard of living. It will take every ounce of ingenuity to accomplish either of those for the entire world, and massive collaboration to make progress on both.
Yet we are lost in a wilderness of politics and media-raging and hatred for the “other”. The pathetic part is that in the right setting, much progress could be made face to face, live, at the human level.
We need a new axis. Fast.
Support independent energy voices!
Energy education and clarity is desperately needed. Help keep independent voices alive, ad-free, and free! Support greatly appreciated!