Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Yin and Yang of Politics

Have you noticed that almost every pundit and politician on the rise today is channelling machismo as some sort of answer to a huge problem, namely  _________________ ?

The interconnected Memes of this Machismo (Yang) Politics are

  1. Lone Cowboy Individualism 
  2. Military style Tribalism and Nationalism (zero sum competition)
  3. Domination of Nature
  4. A rugged outdoorsy manhood (rather than a cultured intellectualism)
  5. The sense of being entitled not to have to edit one's own pronouncements or check one's own behaviours, or to receive more than to give care, regardless of effects on the wellbeing of others.

If you're Jordan Peterson or a supporter of his, the huge problem is Political Correctness and its extreme danger to freedom of speech (really?). Any emphasis on equity evokes Dr. P's great fear that we are witnessing the beginning of a slide to Maoist totalitarianism. Those evil sophomores! C'mon. 

If you're a person who's lost his or her job, you might think that the huge problem is immigration and globalism. Or maybe you think government regulations that are meant to protect the environment and citizens are limiting local investments in new industry and reducing job growth. But did you consider that we are in an era of great technological change and that the mandate of corporations is to increase production efficiencies (where labour is considered another expense cutting into profits)?   In fact, more production is going on in the US now than in the past - but much of it is automated. The technology has changed so the economic system must adapt or leave people behind.

Meanwhile, economists believe that Free Trade improves the economy. It has also been shown that diversity improves outcomes for innovation. And without immigration, the average age of the citizenry will increase to the point that there are nearly as many retirees as working people (paying the taxes that pay for the old age benefits).  

The huge problem is that the technology has changed but the economic system has not changed. We produce more than we need, much of it disposable or wasted. We pollute the environment with producing it. Those that have jobs, many are what we know to be "bullsh*t" jobs that would not be necessary if large companies and governments were not piled high in unnecessary bureaucratic processes. All but a few jobs can be automated and will be in the future. What happens to wage labour and the relevance of "work ethic" then? 

And what of Yin politics?

The Memes of Feminine (Yin) Politics
  1. Interconnectedness (individual human potential cannot be realized apart from society, culture, economics and technology)
  2. Pluralism and Diversity (not a zero sum but a win-win)
  3. Environmentalism, Sustainable Development
  4. Physical and Mental Health (and the importance of knowledge and learning)

To be honest, I don't know if I'd really call the above Yin or feminine or feminist. The reason I did so is because they seem to be the memes disparaged or neglected by the resurgent patriarchy. 

I take it to be pretty self-evident that no one's potential can be realized apart from society, culture, economics and technology. Even so, neuro-palaeontology confirms it. We are immersed, regardless of whatever political system we live in.

Given the fact that we live in an ineluctably global economic system, we need to be more tolerant of diversity. Not so tolerant that we tolerate a lack of tolerance or abuse, though. 

We cannot continue to carry on producing in excess of what we need or that nature can give or absorb.

And of course there's nothing wrong with all round health, which requires we know how to lead lives of meaning. Exploratory curiosity and learning is what makes us human, gives us meaning and helps us to adapt. We are not adapting by insisting on a set idea of "human nature". Our flourishing and resilience, our strengths, lie in our creative responsiveness and adaptability. We change. Culture changes. Narrative that doesn't change becomes decrepit and toxic.