OPINION — Some years ago, I began to understand that politics does very little to advance humanity in any way. Nothing I’ve experienced since that time has persuaded me to reconsider that notion.
Paul Rosenberg first opened my eyes to the regressive nature of politics when he pointed out how it keeps our minds ever focused on evil and carefully avoids pointing us toward the good.
Think about anything you’ve seen, heard or read in the past week that was of a political nature. Can you name a single thing that wasn’t, in some way mired in base instincts like fear, tribalism or status?
How many of the things you encountered on social media lately embodied the tactic of transforming those with a differing viewpoint into degrading and distorted caricatures of what they really are?
The fact that so many people have come to embrace this tendency as normal is a strong indicator of how deeply this pathology has infected and eroded our character.
Rosenberg makes a strong case that, in the past 5,000 years of human advancement, politics is the one thing that has remained fundamentally the same. It comes down to men seeking to rule over others by violence.
Don’t believe me? Fine.
Let’s put it to the test. If a majority of people complain enough – in the right ways – will a politician put magic words on paper that allow the majority to use violence against those who don’t see things their way? Yes or no?
What if those who disagree with the magic words on paper are perfectly peaceful in their actions and cannot be shown to have harmed another person or his property? Would we support sending armed aggressors to assault and imprison them or to steal their property in an effort to force them to do what the majority wants?
If our answer to this last question is yes, how can such actions be described as anything but superstitious, primitive and barbaric? They denote a level of maturity more suited to cavemen than to a more civilized, productive people.
Politics is akin to a collection of violent, religious cultists who gather to chant and perform regular reassurance rituals affirming their faith in the magical words of their favorite state gods.
It thrives on keeping us divided and distrustful, filled with fear and dread that, somehow, “things are going to get worse” if we don’t chant in unison. It teaches us that we can feel brave and noble without actually having to have any kind of skin in the game.
Isn’t it curious how the problems supposedly “solved” by political means, are never really resolved? As with most things that become politicized, they simply become another power struggle that pits us against “the other.”
At the end of the day, politics would have us believe that so long as the violence of the state is being directed at that “other” that, somehow, we’re winning. It thrives on the short-sightedness that prevents us from recognizing that the same spears we cheer to see pointed at our political opponents will, eventually, be pointed at us.
When we have a political dialogue playing out in our minds virtually every waking hour, it can be difficult to distinguish between what is sound and what isn’t.
Leonard E. Read described a handy way to recognize the difference:
One imperative is the awareness that the higher the objective is, the more dignified the method must be. If we aspire to such a high objective as advancing individual liberty and the free market, we can resort to no lesser method than the power of attraction, the absolute opposite of using propaganda, indoctrination, and half truths.
The fact that pointing out this distinction is almost certain to infuriate the true believers only underscores the point of how politics degrades everything it touches.
None of us likes to see our choices questioned. At the same time, none of us can make any kind of meaningful improvement in our own lives or to the world around us until we start asking these types of questions.
The more dogmatic we become, the less likely we are to recognize or accept the kinds of truths that genuinely change us for the better.
It is possible to reduce our political footprint to the point that the negative influences are of minimal consequence in our lives. First, we must make a conscious effort to break the psychological addiction that politics provides.
Where politics thrives on conflict and negativity, we must learn to see and celebrate the good and noble. The positive is found in abundance around us. Once we’ve removed our political blinders, it’s much easier to recognize.
Changing the world for the better doesn’t require superstitiously forcing others to do our bidding. The folks who’ve figured this out are happier than those who haven’t.
Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through what he calls the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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