Sunday, 30 September 2018

Faith and Trust in the Mob

This was a long Facebook post, so I decided to put it on here:
I think that our society was built by a whole lot of people, including ancient Greeks and Romans, Arabs and Africans, Celts and other indigenous peoples. I think we have kept most of the good stuff, and are still in the process of getting rid of some vestigial bad stuff.

I believe in metaphors of roots and foundations. I think one of the worst things that happened during the transatlantic slave trade was that African people were cut off from their roots so that even now it is hard to rebuild any of that for anyone. I suspect Alex Haley would agree.

So the idea that we flail around and lash out blindly without forethought or plan, and just smash the old seems like a really bad idea. The idea that we call 2018 Western society as a whole “the patriarchy“ is hugely disrespectful to all of the women (like Marie Curie, Jane Austen, Queen Victoria, the suffragettes and all the other women throughout history) who worked to make modern society what it is. And to women currently devoting their lives to The System. Women with impressive titles and qualifications earned in it. Science is pretty useful, and is hardly 100% the creation of male people or European colonizers. Same thing with democracy and psychology and philosophy and economics and mathematics and literature and drama.Society shouldn't be lightly dismantled with no real agreement as to what to build in its place. Pretty sure no one wants to lump Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres into the terms "privilege" or "patriarchy," yet they are part of Western society.

So what I would like to see is the goal of including more people, rather than the smashing of what has been built. And I firmly believe that it is possible for us to include more people, and that it is equally possible, and historically far more likely that we could start a second Victorian Era, Middle Ages, or Stone Age, by misusing our wonderful technology or democratic or economic systems. Be careful with that stuff. Some of us are still using it to feed ourselves. And its a bit of a game of Jenga. (Please don't get me fired for having written this blog)

One of the things that a hard look at the much more problematic parts of the world reveals, is that the outcome of overthrowing a somewhat oppressive, “mixed bag” government can be far worse than leaving it alone, if one isn’t careful. In Iran and Russia and countless South American and African nations, the mob (sometimes incited by a foreign government like Britain or America) rose up and overthrew a slanted, inequitable society, destroying everything and resulting in chaos, confusion, pain and death(leaving the country unlivable), only to have tyranny then take advantage of the chaos and start the whole process over again, only worse. Chile, Cuba, Rwanda, Argentina, Iran etc.
France, even. Do we want The Terrors again on any scale at all?

I guess I have limitless faith in the human predilection for going WAY too far, and not knowing when to stop. I have NO faith in the mercy of mobs out looking for payback. It is very easy to get angry and outraged and stirred up into a mob frenzy and smash a mixed bag of good and bad things into a useless bag of broken things with sharp edges. I am not optimistic about outrage or mobs crying for change.

I am not hopeful as to the potential of mobs to create. To be fair. To heal things. To be wise or sensible. To make anything that will last.

People are telling and hearing different narratives.  So, which one has deeper emotional resonance for you?:

     a) people are at heart mean and oppressive and selfish by nature, and laws and witnesses, courts, committees and accountability need to be maintained. The future holds more of that ugly stuff we know from the past, given what has not been expunged from out history books. The vulnerable being forgotten at best and oppressed and exploited at worst. Mobs tearing down structure, only to have worse tyrants with better technology and strategies replace them.  A new, scarier, more subversive form of control. Bad news all around. (we were raised with this one)

     b) people are at heart, good, and anything else we see is mainly from upbringing and social conditioning.  The future holds better information, better socialization, and a whole lot more inclusion and equity all around. A kindler, gentler kind of human being. We will win because our ideas are fresh and right, while they are old and will die out with their outmoded dinosaur nonsense.  Good news all around. (we were not raised with this one, but it’s popular right now.)

Things are comparatively good right now, in the context of the entire world, in the context of all of human history. To say otherwise is the definition of privilege. To say we can make it better? We had better.

And I think it’s relevant, when trying to create a more equitable future, to ask what Nelly McClung would think of it.

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