Tuesday, October 21, 2014

How We Define One Another, Endlessly.

No political philosophy, whether premised on rugged individualism or inexorable collectivism, can capture what it means to be human.  Each of us defines who we are by those who surround us, whether through crass comparisons of us v. them, or through how we affect others, positively or negatively.  And because we are constantly measuring ourselves using those who surround us, who are doing the same thing, who we are changing constantly.  No Western political philosophy is capable of capturing this reality.  It may be able to hold it bay, as neoliberalism does today, but at some point the differences between what is observed to what a political philosophy forces us to expect become so great that everything breaks.

Human beings do not experience life, they interpret it.  They compare what they observe to what they expect, and react accordingly.  You can control how a person interprets his life by controlling what he observes, what he expects, or (usually) both.  Unfortunately, if you abuse that control, people are likely to doubt what they observe, what they expect, or (usually) both.  That's how revolutions come about: people rise up to force the world to match the expectations that were forced upon them.  While neoliberalism successfully avoids the "communistic fiction" of classical liberalism, it still requires fairness, that the game not be rigged, that anybody through hard work and good judgment can rise to the top.