Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Hyper normalisation

Been reading Dominic Sandbrook, and thinking about Adam Curtis.
And what has dawned on me is simple.  The contrast between
these two historians is epic.  They both make strange connections,
how the mood created something, or vice versa.
Curtis paints a grim trajectory, one where evil has origins in this and that,
and is coming to now overwhelm everything.  
Reminds me of a Jesus quote - that this is nothing new:

"And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet". (Matthew 24:6)
(Unlikely that Curtis is a christian). 

Curtis's picture is one way of looking over the past, a particular perspective which is horrific. 
If you look for those things, you will have plenty.  Suffering and death exists, it is not 'wrong',
it is the condition on the earth, of life and existence. 
(Revelation says man is 'the beast' meaning he has knowledge and can create more suffering than ordinary nature)

The trouble with His view and others like it, is that it revels in these misdeeds
and errors, in 'misery porn'  which carries the bitter tinge of nihilism; there is an element
of cynicism which is something I recognize, because I have wallowed there too.  It excuses our own failures.

On the contrary, Sandbook looks at history culturally, like Kenneth Clarke,
and finds much that is positive to admire. 
It is a trope of the left (Moore, Chomsky, Geldof) to look back only at war and strife and the suffering of others, rather than the achievements of beauty that also exist, that men too have built.  Curtis only accepts and accentuates whats
gone wrong, not affirming any good.  While Roger Scruton explores what he thinks is morally awry today by examining the good things from the past - cathedrals, institutions, ethics, religion, and sees much that we can learn.   It seems as though Curtis only sees the past as entirely execrable, full of bad turns, all fallacious good intentions gone bad.

Devil's advocation:  

What is supposedly admirable is that his films compose very succinctly, and poetically 
a nightmare that drips from the news everyday, and blasts it back as a collage which overloads the emotions; which thus draws one to think just what I have thought above, as I tuck into this warm glass of Burgundian Pinot.

How wide the Safety net ?

Liberalism says that we don't have to be responsible for ourselves, 
the state will take care of the future.
Liberal economics says the same: we don't have to apply morals, 
the market will take care of the future.

Following this thought on liberal irresponsibility:

Another radical view came to me, amongst local beggars in my area -
that because of government spending, "we" have the option not to feel any direct obligations if "we" so wish.  Because the personal response is abrogated.  

When I hear lefties whinging about Tory cuts, other than the obvious front-brain plea for more welfare for the needy, is also the flipside: that "I" don't want to have to be responsible, 
"I" don't want to see paupery on the streets, "I" would like to see it dealt with by an invisible hand.  

Then I think of how it used to be, and still is, natural for a lot of Cultures to look after their own family members when they get frail and needy, where charity is intrinsically a personal, local issue, dealt with first and foremost on the ground level.  The nation state concept, with all its political machinations is clearly the result of replacing church with state; the impersonal in place of the personal; the sophisticated justification for this being that we aren't living in small tribal communities anymore.  
Maybe we should realise that we are not so atomised, that we are still in small tribes (families, colleagues, friends).

The old Catholic culture here in England provided the solution to this which incorporated the local with a larger narrative.  The keyword being culture rather than 'apparatus'.
Now we have it seems, bad compromise: local government which always defers
responsibility to big government, and big government which leaves the responsibility
to charity, church, 'activists' and local government.  
Middle class Metro elites are on the side of big government,
in that they want paupers swept out of sight, to opt, in the name of 'individuality', to disconnect from obligation (to oblige being too noble), and by reverse extension, also place the obligation for their families on the state, because the state is capable of big collective organisation.  
But despite this being true, it shouldn't extend that they have no obligation other than more taxes, which being abstract, are demonstrably avoidable.  The individualist get-out clause; because by the  very fact of this abstraction, few can always escape and leave responsibility on those left behind (the basic form of neo-liberal economic competition).  
I contend that theoretical "socialism" is really the freedom to be anti-social (example of Orwellian double-speak) and that it ends up doing the reverse of what it projects: it offloads responsibility to those who can least afford it, freeing 'elites'.
This is because socialism, or liberalism, is in fact rooted in, and enshrined by, neo-liberal economics (which lest us not forget, is the very system, according to Chomsky, which replaced Catholicism*). The rest is sheer age-old hypocrisy - "I" can own property and have privilege while nominally believing in modified forms of communism which purports to be about sharing all goods and property in common.
Otherwise known as owning the narrative.
The justification for this hypocrisy is that other people who do not call themselves socialist are getting away with it, so why shouldn't "I" ?

Arthur Penty states in an essay in "A challenge to the myth of progress" that "Men who made the accumulation of wealth their primary aim
in life where looked at askance in the Middle Ages and why trade and commerce where held in lower esteem than agriculture and craftmanship, as they were also in China until relatively recently"