Politics and The Cold War
The Cold War is over but it’s not gone. Its cultural battle between Left and Right affects us every day of our lives and has for so long it’s become normal. But in the long span of history, it can be understood, and by doing so we can glean insight into what would truly make our civic life more effective, humane, and common-sensible.
Everything in the Cold War was coded, it was ridiculous. Equality was Communism. Unions were Communism. Social housing meant black and black meant equality and equality meant Communism. It’s not difficult to understand why. The Left took over Russia and ruined much of Europe, so anything vaguely Lefty in North America was by either by design or incident going to ruin America too.
But what happened was basically any dimension of power that was questioned was vilified according to the Left/Right culture coding. This meant questions of justice on a basic human level, or even a level that invoked the soaring rhetoric of America’s founders and greatest presidents were vilified, or marginalized and shut out.
The culture of the Left-Right paradigm, bolstered by the Cold War, also meant civic life was open to abuse and exploitation. Far-ranging and destructive policies were enacted under the guise of patriotism, cloaked in the language of the Cold War. Selling out jobs, demonizing the environmental movement, dismissing racism in powerful institutions, these were painted as patriotic acts, not stubborn or self-interested mentalities.
When people say there’s more wealth inequality, less union membership, more gadgets but less time with family, precarious jobs, banks that steal, corrupt politicians, unattainable living standards, all this could not have been achieved without using the Left versus Right cultural features familiar to voters.
The Cold War is over, but it hasn’t left us. It may very well have ruined the planet. Lastly there is this, progress is neither permanent nor inevitable. We can lose it all.
Sexuality and Relationships
Our DNA is a lot older than our belief systems. Without respecting our biology, warts and all, we are doomed to live a life of unreconciled needs and this affects our relationships either through boredom, resentment, discontent, and divorce. We can find ourselves in destructive patterns, struggling to understand our unhappiness, descending into self-pity and loathing, projecting it outward and ultimately being hurt all over again.
We owe it to ourselves and others to try and be happy, and to do that we need to be unafraid to look inside and accept what we are and explore who we are.
The only relationship you’re truly stuck with is with yourself. That has to be the first priority, but not the only one. This underlines the tragedy of people who were unhappy to begin with, who didn’t understand themselves or their needs and then pair off and bring kids into the world, only to split and make their children pawns in a petty, emotionally destructive game.
We all exist on a spectrum of compatibilities, with features and qualities of ourselves that potentially match with others. We often only realize how much this matters during relationships, when they begin to fail, or we start seeing cracks after the excitement of new passion has faded into domesticity and routine and long-term questions arise.
We need to do better. We need to recognize we’re not living in accordance with our nature.
I have few heroes in my life but among them are investigative journalists and comedians. They are both committed to some of the uglier truths of human life, and each seek to make something beautiful out of it. Journalists aim to hold power to account and speak truth to the people, imploring our better angels to win out against apathy and indifference. Comedians can make us laugh at the most inappropriate and brow-raising topics, and provoke deeper thinking about the absurdity of existence.
What we can laugh at is a matter of great seriousness but what we take seriously is a joke.
I try to abide by certain rules in my life. These are rules I need because they remind and humble me and give me something to pursue. They can keep me from getting too far in my own head, and prod me to not take life so seriously, or think things so futile. One of these rules informs my willpower to act in the face of overwhelming adversity. That rule is: I will not let my cynicism paralyze me.
That one rule keeps me grounded. Cynicism is poisonous. It leeches out the will to do good in the world. Cynicism provokes selfish thinking, nihilism, and callous indifference toward others. In a word, cynicism is paralyzing.
But cynicism is also a useful analytical tool. It instinctively calls bullshit. I look at why people are motivated and how they justify themselves. I look at how groups treat their own, sort their politics, and interact with other groups. I wouldn’t know what to call it.
Call it McInnecism. I’ll wait.
My goal here is to sift through the bullshit and pull out the kernel of truth (sorry for that image), run it under the tap (sorry), bite it to make sure its real (what!?), and show it to the Internet (where it belongs).