Rebels Without A Cause

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Crcata, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. Crcata Registered Senior Member

    From my experience, both from first hand encounters with people, to media and social media (some involving even my own friends) there seems to be a growing stigma in the U.S. of this anti-government attitude, or at the very least a very "suspicious of the government" attitude. With so little to fight for they cling to even small issues and blow them waaaaay out of proportions. With outrageous claims of wide spread corruption and misuse of power. Albeit, sometimes justified.

    It appears to me that we have a society that is constantly just anxiously waiting for the next opportunity to jump on an issue involving some type of government entity (usually police) and sink their hateful teeth into it and spew a bunch of hatred and nonsense.

    So many people want to be the victim of the government. The bad ol government put them on the street, doesn't matter that they didn't pay their bills like everyone else is required to. The bad ol police roughed up a suspect that assaulted a citizen and then attempted to flee then fight them. Or one of my favorites is that the new "militarized police" is apparently inherently a bad thing to some out of some misplaced belief that it is somehow not needed, or only to be used for our oppression, etc. Its even a staple mark for some guns rights movements.

    And as I have mentioned before there are the "flat earthers" whom think the government is lying about the size and shape of the earth for different reasons, including "because its the government".

    The list could go on, but it seems to be, from my perspective anyways, a lot of irrational fear of government and authority. This idea that if the government tells you something then it is automatically not to be trusted.

    Just something on my mind specifically with all the hatred towards police these days. Does anyone see this or is it just me? Do you think this attitude towards police and/or government is justified? Need more of it? Less of it?
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2016
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Primal Scream

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    It's not religion, or superstition, but it is a condition of belief. People seek empowerment. When we dive to the core of the psyche, we are still basic organisms, animals. For our purposes, there is a reason people fear the unknown. And while we are conditioned to generally not tremble and quake our way through daily social interactions, people generally prefer a certain amount of predictability to reassure their faith in what is known.

    In the 1980s, the prospect of career women, or women even being able to say no to sexual intercourse, scared the hell out of a lot of people, including many women who had been conditioned to believe that not only was this how things were, but it was right that they should be so. Hashtag why did she stay? Because he's the Devil she knows.

    For the last fifteen years, simply looking like someone thinks a Muslim should look is enough to blow a hole in their sense of security within what is known. They don't know who these people are, or anything about who they are looking at, but the fear itself is empowering; it offers a way of controlling things. For instance, I don't "look Muslim enough". I can read books with the word "Muhammad" in the title while on an airplane and nobody panics. If I choose to accessorize with religious symbols, nobody panics because while many disdain symbols of the Craft, they already know there's nothing they can do about it. But Muslims? The fear itself is a lever to a perception of empowerment.

    Additionally, there have always been tinfoil and potsherd collections in our society; there are various reasons why they are getting more attention. And while I couldn't explain exactly how widespread the resulting beliefs are, visit a Seventh-Day Adventist bookstore to find everything from the U.N. putting Sabbatarians in tiger cages to await execution in the electric chair to conspiracy theories explaining how the Vatican, the Marxists, and the Wiccans will control the New World Order. And that's just one little corner of our society. We also just saw the Snack Club Uprising in Oregon, which is inspired by empowerment fantasies spawned in the legends of the Latter-Day Saints. In a broader view, peddling conspiracy theories in a religious context is a multibillion-dollar industry; there are television and radio networks broadcasting this stuff; even former Rep. Michele Bachmann, who ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, is in on the act, touring the End Times circuit to tell people that Jesus is coming, they need to be angry about it, and they need to blame Barack Obama. What was once generally left to its own as a fringe subculture has strong access to the halls of societal power.

    And this ends up creating even more of a feeling of disempowerment among its constituency. The Trump movement, for instance, correlates roughly to a generation of first-time eligible voters who have spent their lives hearing about government betrayal and danger; Romer v. Evans is emblematic, because the proposition that the Courts "legislate" and "usurp the will of the people" when striking laws that violate the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land, has been a headliner in recent decades like never before.

    And then there is the unpredictability that comes with blowing up our economy. Reduced job security, denigrate worker representation, and flat real wages countenancing rising costs of living create enough fear of unknown potentials on their own. Wrecking the economy in order to achieve these outcomes only exacerbates the fear. Watching the government cave and coddle these outcomes does nothing to raise people's affection for state and governance.

    With the police specifically, the problem is that not being afraid can be lethally dangerous. We live in a period in which a police officer can kill you, lie about the circumstances, get caught lying, and face exactly no charges. This unsettles people's expectations of predictability, and part of the problem is that one will not know they are dealing with (ahem!) one of the bad seeds until it's too late. And this is how the police want it, and right now they get to have it. There are reasons people are wary of the police.

    People don't konw what to do to fix things; society is, after all, a huge and complicated proposition. The object of this anti-government anger is very often a simplified projection; the anger feels empowering.

    Meanwhile, the marketplace feeds demand; people want sensational, fearful unpredictability. Attending the spectrum of news and reportage, the overwhelming majority attends market-oriented information resources devised of business models invested in presenting the information in such a manner as to be generally useless. Honestly, who can explain anything in a sound bite? Or two column inches? Or four minutes spent being interrupted by a television host? All this manner of presentation does is stoke controversy and transmit propsitions of fearful unknown potentials.

    There is a larger mass-psychological phenomenon taking place, a desperate cycle of feeding ourselves more fear in order to generate more demand for more perception of empowerment; we do a lot of this to ourselves, even and especially when we vote, and on some sub- or un-conscious level most of us know it. Enter ego defense, and suddenly we're even deeper into a cycle.

    It's been a long time building; a significant portion of it was essentially called up from the minor leagues in a cynical market ploy.

    But in the end, the main driver of the sharp spike in anti-government sentiment thorughout these United States has not been the observable problems such as we have with our police, but, rather potsherd projections including the proposition that Barack Obama team up with Walmart and McDonald's to invade Texas. It is, in function, a surrender of the intellect favoring articles of faith offering perceptions of empowerment against perceived desperation. Across the spectrum, from the genuine to the self-inflicted to the ridiculous, people feel like the world around them is too far out of control, thus creating too many unknown potentials. Many are seizing on mythopoeic pathways like conspiracy theories; some are seeking bigotry; the noise about these aspects seems almost louder than murmur and buzz and shout about those problematic aspects of our society we can reasonably attend. In the long run, this outcome would be societally unhealthy.

    For the most part we've done it to ourselves. And look at the result. There's a reason the Snack Club took over a wildlife center in rural Oregon instead of occupying a police station in Cleveland or New York City or Chicago. There's a reason why Jade Helm and not the everyday tyranny of police brutality. There's a reason why birth control and not the corruption of law enforcement.

    Because among the significant driving factors of those factions are, indeed, the parity of women and nonwhites as human beings in American society. For a lot of these people, that's a terrifying unknown potential. And like Kim Davis said of homosexuals, she can't be equal unless she is superior.

    When we parse out between the functionally observable roots of anti-government sentiment and the subjective aesthetics of why people demand this or that empowerment, the difference is pretty obvious. What is needed is less distracting futility because the longer we go without addressing the functionally observable problems, such as law enforcement corruption, business corruption, institutional bigotry, and the general deprioritization of human beings in favor of virtual representations like businesses, governments, churches, &c. That is, there are actually plenty of reasons to feel distress at the state of government and governance in this society, and it's probably helpful to focus on those that are real.

    If one feels fearfully disempowered because they can't bully someone else, that's their own problem to get over. And there is way too much of that in the culture right now; and, yes, it has some obvious sources. But there are also a lot of functionally disruptive issues about government and governance to address. Nor should we overlook that such radical transformation of society is itself fraught with gaping, terrifying unknown potentials. It seems as if society goes 'round and 'round, and slight variations on the theme spawn either progress or damage, and the next time 'round we do it a little differently. In the abstract, we might easily propose that it would behoove us to get a handle on how this process works in order to assert more control over this part of how our society behaves. More practically, that's a really complicated notion, fraught with unknowns and bristling opportunities to hurt ourselves along the way.
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  5. Crcata Registered Senior Member


    I cant say I agree with every point you made but overall that is a lot of think about and for the most part to me makes sense. I will ponder this further as time allows.

    Thanks for the quick and informative response.
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