Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Still more on Charles

So, I reacted strongly to the Prince Charles memo not just because I tend to react strongly whenever a pampered plutocrat decides to pass judgment on a working person, but because I think Charles' sentiment betrays the sentiment of many pampered plutocrat towards politics in general -- they see politics, from the politics of education to the politics of taxation, to the politics of war, as a mechanism for the preservation of their own wealth and power.

But, in order to do that, they have to influence what the rest of us think when we think of politics. Here's what I think they want us to think: First, that the political system can't be trusted and is a necessary evil in human life. The idea here is that you should expect nothing good to come out of government, you should simply be happy with it if it causes little harm. They want us to think this because it robs us of faith in politics and government as a tool.

Second, they want all political discussions to not mention topics like happiness, except in passing. Think about it, every month the government releases reports on the numbers of jobs created and lost. The government doesn't even try to track whether or not people like the jobs that have been created. Among all of the government and quasi-governmental agencies managing the economy, is there one that exists to poll people about what kind of economy they'd like to have? I'm not saying you could manage to those wants or expecations, but they could be accounted for.

I mean, next time I see a politician from either side bragging about "job creation" I want to see them asked how many of the jobs created are jobs that they themselves would enjoy.

Third, they want to give the impression that "society owes you nothing" so that folks will expect... nothing.

Fourth, they want to manage your expectations for your own life. This is why Charles is so peeved that everybody wants to live like rock stars, or worse, like a member of the British royal family. Charles would feel a lot more comfortable if you would keep to your place, thank you.

Fifth, they want the phrase "utopianism" to be associated with either fascism or cloudy thinking. Utopia might be an unattainable ideal, but it's still an important goal. Utopian thinking is the opposite of saying, "well, that's how life is."

I think politics can be something more useful than it is today. It's not just a way of ordering the moving parts of government. It could be used as a sort of practical philosophy that is meant to increase the happiness of individuals within a society. I don't think we expect that now. I don't even think we're trying to do it. But I think that would be a worthy enterprise.

2 Comments:

At 12:18 PM , Blogger adriana said...

amen amen on all counts.

...and i'd like to see what happens when little Prince William joins the Army and gets sent to Iraq...that ought to be a rather interesting sacrificial lamb...

 
At 5:09 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well put, Mike. I wish that our perception that we need the political systems that currently stand could change. Once the people have been hoodwinked, or have pulled the wool over their own eyes, it's hard to make them see that anything different is possible.

The string holding it all together is weak, but who's holding the scissors?

 

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