One thing I've learned since I've had internet email is that friends, frenemies, and allies are sometimes the same people on different issues, and that even a long time friend can sometimes turn out to be a stuffed shirt or a twit. Worse even saintly me can act like a complete twit. Somehow twit and twitter go together. Somehow threads tend to obey certain rules of insanity that lead to observations like "Godwin's law" being almost definitional "happenings" in political threaded discussions. So it's important not to take anyone, not even oneself too seriously based on one encounter. Though one can bet that anything said on the internet even if it is supposed to be totally private and confidential will reach all unintended ears. So relax cautiously. It takes time to figure out if someone is a real serious twit or not. Though not always.
“Thinking itself is such a dangerous enterprise.” [Hannah Arendt]
Thinking our Way through Politics
Same goes true with politics. Some politicians are politicians first, others have other roles in addition to being a politician. All of them have political survival attributes that include a certain amount of greed (acquisitiveness), ego (self importance), revanchism (most will retaliate if you threaten them in some way), etc... They are human beings. I love the far left, but most of those people are so cynical about politicians that they don't even recognize the politician within. I love Chris Hedges, and all the other super intellectuals but they have a cop like cynicism about politics that prevents them from being able to get much done.
Update -- I now think they are compromised: [Active Measures and the Left]
I just read a review of Hannah Arendt's last interviews and it talked about being always "hostile", but I don't see that as useful. I find that hostility gives way to a severely constantly disappointed sense of sadness coupled with the ability to see the humor in pathetic behavior. Unfortunately dark humor is a kind of hostile humor -- so Hannah was probably right. But we have to fight evil even if it is pathetic and idiotic.
Working with Doubtful Allies
But we have to work with politicians -- while recognizing they are politicians and not entirely trustworthy all the time. The word is "frenemies" for many of them, and "unreliable allies" for some of the rest. And every movement, person or group has advised virtues that are often put out to disguise the reality of the group, individuals, or person's vice. Groups have to work together, so what sometimes looks like corruption is just folks trading things. On the other hand, the world is vicious because of the vices. The vices exist because people "miss the mark" (sin). And we miss the mark because of delusion and conflict. Vices are just the pathetic failure of most people to live up to their virtues and figure out what the "right thing" really is. When folks get to fighting over some resource, they forget all that and paint themselves as virtuous, righteous, and aggrieved, while their enemies do the same thing. This results in viciousness not the reality of virtue. It doesn't really work. The Nazis, in the end were just a bunch of pathetic losers. Same is true with most fear and conflict based movements. Amazing how many resources we've damaged or destroyed by fighting over them. It's just dumb.
Keeping it Real
So there is no need for hostility. Just a kind of resigned effort to do what is right without giving into delusion and to work with flawed people while recognizing that those flaws need to be checked. That is called virtue. Evil is vicious and that is the opposite of virtue. Good strategy can avoid wars and conflict, or at least channel them into debates and courts rather than fist fights and gun fights. A powerful seldom used army is better than war, but even better is when folks trade and do business together fairly. That might not happen because most politicians dream of being kings and aren't content with boring reality. But it can happen. It takes wisdom to figure out how to solve problems. It's easier to be a Jeremiah screaming from outside. Unfortunately the Jeremiah's of the world usually have good ideas that would save troubles if folks listened to them. Jeremiah was thrown in a prison. The hostility of the intellectual is usually projected by those politicians (bureaucrats are politicians too -- don't let them fool you) who don't like to receive 'mild' criticism of their projects.
Virtue is doing what one is supposed to, and the right thing
Virtues are simple things really. The nice thing is that the bar is so low that if we just find our path even for a short time we can be really proud. Folks like Chris Hedges and the rest may be right, but it isn't necessarily so that their gloomy predictions happen. Should be can be. It just needs to be a realistic should be rather than an impossible one. And we need to avoid the delusional banners and virtues that sound good but are really vicious. A good hunter loves his quarry so much he can get into their heads -- and still can shoot them knowing exactly where they'll be [I prefer using cameras]. We don't have to be predators, but we do need to love our enemy. It's a kick arse virtue.
When Politics is done well it is about the common weal, good policy, and is virtuous. When it is done for private, separate advantage, it is tyranny. And tyranny is bad process and failure. So relax, the idiots are self destructive, and part of our good strategy is just preventing the political suicide bombers from taking us with them. We have to work together, friends, enemies, frenemies, idiots and geniuses. So let's do it.
- Trump's GOP Totalitarian Movement and Totalitarian Propaganda
- Hannah Arendt Trump and the Stateless
- The Dictator in Front of the Mob
- Hannah Arendt on Donald Trump's Mob
- Our Democratic Movement is not Totalitarian
- The Power of Doublespeak
- Being a Little Less Naive about Politics
- Authoritarians and Totalitarians, Altemeyer & Arendt
- EMAD Trump
- Subsidiarity and Fascism