Hot times: A weather forecast

Forecast: Cloudy times, with a good chance of precipitate moral outrage.

demagogue

chimp angryHere in Bangkok, and just about wherever else in this world you look, the moral warriors are out and about on all sides making angry chimp faces at each other. So what’s new, eh?

In the course of a recent archaeological investigation of my hard drive, I came across the following screed, composed sometime in the mid-1990s, judging by associated potshards of popular culture and carbon 14 dating of toast crumbs. At some point back then, I relegated part of it to a character in Yawn, a novel (now out of print).

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Chloe hated the intolerance that comes with buying half-baked dogmas. At the same time she hated this sort of certainty, she also hated the apologetic dithering of people who couldn’t decide, who couldn’t commit to anything and who—like Waylon and the whole Canadian nation, it seemed—went around apologizing for their mere presence on earth. But the dogmatists were the worst.

 

You find a kind of free-floating moral outrage at large, these days. What with the failure of the Western metaphysic and changing times and widespread uncertainty about what’s what, the ambient outrage can precipitate around almost anything. If you’re a woman, and you aren’t happy, then this is a moral outrage, and someone is responsible. If you are a black, or a Chicano, or bald or short or stupid, and you aren’t happy, this is also an outrage, and somebody’s got to do something about it. You get entirely unself-critical, narrow-minded moral warriors appointing themselves good-conduct monitors for a civilization and coming up with plans to reform all of society. Converts to such causes tend to show all the intelligence, courtesy and humor of neo-Nazi football club supporters.

With those of us more prone to cynicism than indignation, it’s easy to get caught in the crossfire of moral outrage.

Chloe wrote that in her notebook. It sounded good, but what was she really saying about herself? Cynicism, in the final analysis, wasn’t much different from wishy-washiness. It only posed as something tougher and more potent. It was just as much a cop-out, a refusal to commit to anything.

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baby angry

What’s missing is a sense that few, if any, of us feel perfectly fulfilled, and most people accept that as a condition of being.

It’s not, “Let’s discuss this issue, re-examine our own and each others’ premises and see where the truth may lie.” Rather, it’s either accept what I’m saying, and all the propositions associated with it, or you’re my enemy. No, I won’t listen to your objections. You’re obviously a part of the problem.

Insights:

* I am not perfectly happy; I am not fulfulled. I am not in possession of all the good things that I can imagine.

* How things are (“reality”) is a social construction.

* Things might have been otherwise; and still might be otherwise.

* It can be demonstrated that “the way things are” systematically serves some interests more than others.

* “Reality” should be reformed in such a way that I get my just desserts.

* I am entitled to as much of anything I want as any member of any other group in the society.

 

Some prevalent and normally unexamined presuppositions (ideas that history suggests are almost certainly wrong):football fans angry

* Societies and cultures may in fact be radically (re)engineered according to a rational plan.

* Societies and cultures can be so revised in what is historically a short time.

* I understand my own nature and I understand my relation as an individual to the larger society and culture.

* I know what my needs and rights are.

* I know how to engineer things to achieve my ends. Or else the determined pursuit of what I want will somehow naturally lead to a better state of affairs.

* If I get what I think I have coming to me, then we will have a morally better situation.

* Members of other groups will also get their just deserts within the new scheme of things.

protestor angry2As Chloe wrote in her journal, converts to causes that appeal to such ideas tend to show all the intelligence, courtesy and humour of football club supporters or jingoists.

I’m just saying, eh?

“What are you saying?” Sara asks me. “What about you and those little children at the coffee shop?”

2 thoughts on “Hot times: A weather forecast

  1. But you see, i DO know what my needs and rights are and in fact they are enshrined in the D.P.R.K.’s Constitution. So there!

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