Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The right hand vs.the left hand. TONIGHT, LIVE. SOLD OUT.

I wanted to move on to the endless fight that seems to characterise and cannibalise the modern world - that of right vs. left. These shallow interpretations of political movements which almost no-one outside the political establishment recognises, let alone understands.
The right seems to consist of the ideas that the the market always knows best - regardless of who benefits most from it, and the patriotic nation-state should be all powerful - regardless of who controls it. Two ideas which seem, at least superficially, incompatible as far as I can see. Also central is the idea that an individual has the right to do whatever he wants regardless of how it affects other people.
The left, on the other hand, idolises government as the fount of all wisdom and sees 'the people' as sovereign. Two more ideas which would appear to have quite serious confrontations. Finally, it holds the opinion that there are limits on a persons right to action brought about by his/her responsibility to others.
Except it's all bull***t. The only common denominator between these visions is the presence of people - that is all there really is and if you think the other things are real you're chasing an illusion. People form all kinds of relationships - of course they do, I wouldn't even begin to deny that. But all these are, are relationships. They do not really exist except in peoples heads. There are certain modes of behaviour that are implicit in the functioning of these, such as the bargaining impulse in a market relationship and the authoritarian behaviour constituting government. However, those who start to beleive that these institutions are real (which is surprisingly easy - every culture demands adherence to it's beleifs) are in severe danger of shutting themselves off from other types of relationships which are just as important and rewarding.
This is the problem when it comes to getting people to take another view of a situation. The company director who is indoctrinated into a certain way of thinking about the world, finds it very hard to suddenly consider the needs of the environment or of employees. He (or occasionally she) is used to finding ways of bending rules to their advantage; the idea that they should suddenly adhere to some or even - God forbid - make some is completely contrary to their learned behaviour and so feels intrinsically wrong, even like they are betraying themselves.
This concept of different inherently lived behaviour needs to be the starting point for the evaluation of how to rebuild our culture. It's all like a tug of war that no-one can ever win, and if anyone ever does then they've screwed themself as well as everyone else. Without teaching people that their ways of acting in relation to the world are not who they are, and that other ways of acting can be just as valid, we are never going to escape this eternal phoney war.

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