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Response to H2O Man (Reply #114)

Wed Nov 11, 2015, 02:44 PM

115. Today is a day for being ruminant...

... I am always reflective on 11/11, since I think WWI glaringly shows the inadequacy of what some of us are pleased to call "Western Civilization." In another venue, I posted Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" and have been having a fruitful conversation on the impulse to create poetry. I think one might easily find a correlation between the violence and fury of 100 years ago and today's (not that this doesn't equally apply to violence in any era).

I think much of the current crop of violence, both internally and externally to the country, come from the perception of those at the top of the food chain that there is a threat to the status quo. (One could extend that to the conflicts between supporters of this or that candidate for the Democratic nomination, but I'll leave that correlation be, it hardly requires imagination) Though it is interesting that much of the retail violence is acted out by persons who, in fact, are only marginally closer to the top of the food chain than their victims. This is, in a manner of speaking, the first smokescreen, for one can always find an argument that race hatred is subsumed in class hatred (and thus we have bootless arguments about social and economic justice, as if one could exist without the other). Did you encounter the argument, in re Trayvon Martin, that Zimmerman could not have been motivated by racism, because he "isn't white?" That one left me with my jaw on the floor, because so many assumptions are contained within it. Yet more than just ignorant, gun-slinging rednecks will offer variations on that theme, when they want to prove that racism does not exist (or anyway, that they aren't racist), and that All Lives Matter even though the black ones are the ones most consistently at risk. But then, it is also true that All Lives Matter, or even that Cop Lives Matter, so one is really being partisan if he neglects to voice that truism. Actually, I think that's rather similar to those who demand we "support the troops" while agitating for them to be sent to Syria to fight ISIS and/or overthrow Assad. How easy it is to hide behind platitudes!

"Perception," though, is key. How many of our gunmen and lawmen perceive themselves to be at the top of the food chain, and thus threatened by the ambiguity of equality for those further down, even while those who really do sit at the top are laughing up their sleeves at such ignorance? But because they perceive themselves to be at the top, or aspire to be at the top, aspire to be accepted in the club (which acceptance will never happen, however many millions they may make, or people they may kill), they act as if they are, and act out the fear that the top just won't be so exclusive if we let "them" in. That's one of the reasons I think schadenfreude is too-often neglected as a motivation for bloody-mindedness. The whole essence of having an "other" consists in the ability to look down on them, and thus build ourselves up on their bodies, which motivation has especial poignancy if we have a gnawing suspicion that we really aren't at the top, anyway.

And of course, it isn't just gunplay where we see this acted out, but in sexual assault (almost invariably a result of the kinds of aggression we're talking about here), and even, perhaps, in milder form, in debates on a political board. How much of conduct, I wonder, is dictated by the perception of the standards of the group with whom we wish to be identified? And indeed, how much of conduct is dictated by wanting to do such a thing, or act in such a way, that that group will accept us, and that it will be defended from the pollution of the "other?" It is sad to contemplate that murdering a young man, or raping a young woman, or dropping bombs on a perceived "enemy" might all just be variations on the desire to say "what a good boy am I!"

-- Mal

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H2O Man Nov 2015 OP
suffragette Nov 2015 #1
H2O Man Nov 2015 #2
suffragette Nov 2015 #26
H2O Man Nov 2015 #45
unapatriciated Nov 2015 #3
H2O Man Nov 2015 #6
Persondem Nov 2015 #4
H2O Man Nov 2015 #7
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #8
gregcrawford Nov 2015 #9
H2O Man Nov 2015 #14
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Liberal Jesus Freak Nov 2015 #10
H2O Man Nov 2015 #19
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #27
gregcrawford Nov 2015 #41
H2O Man Nov 2015 #43
gregcrawford Nov 2015 #44
H2O Man Nov 2015 #97
gregcrawford Nov 2015 #98
Old Codger Nov 2015 #11
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DFW Nov 2015 #57
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #28
cantbeserious Nov 2015 #15
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BeanMusical Nov 2015 #16
H2O Man Nov 2015 #30
Bluenorthwest Nov 2015 #17
H2O Man Nov 2015 #31
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #32
ms liberty Nov 2015 #33
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #36
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Dem2 Nov 2015 #39
H2O Man Nov 2015 #42
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #51
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mmonk Nov 2015 #83
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mmonk Nov 2015 #103
malthaussen Nov 2015 #94
H2O Man Nov 2015 #96
malthaussen Nov 2015 #112
H2O Man Nov 2015 #114
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malthaussen Nov 2015 #115
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #104
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #105
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H2O Man Nov 2015 #108
Maedhros Nov 2015 #101
H2O Man Nov 2015 #107
mmonk Nov 2015 #109
malthaussen Nov 2015 #113
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