Monday, March 7, 2016

Absurdism, Nihilism, And the Race to the Bottom

Nobody likes maudlin whiny blogs, least of all me. I hate 'em. I cannot abide mommy blogs, and braggy blogs, and this-is-what-I-made-for-dinner blogs. I want food for thought, not my mouth, meat on the philosophical bone. I want to argue politics and economics, ethics and morality. I don't want gossip, hearsay, and innuendo. And most of all, I want adult discourse. I crave adult discourse. 

I think I am alone in there. After last week's penis-measuring contest, I figured the GOP had sunk about as low as it was gonna get. Boy, was I ever wrong. Now, the shouting matches have moved over to the Democrats, too. 

Politics is supposed to be the art of the possible. These days, it's the folly of the improbable. Name calling has replaced issues as news of the day. Everyone is talking about the genital discussion, the yelling, the name calling....and now the Trump salute. Really? He cannot possibly be that I think he thinks we are. 

Aren't you all tired of the joke our presidential race has become? 

I am selling my house and buying a town house. I wonder, however, how long I'll get to live there. No kidding. Really. How long until this nation crumbles beneath its own hubris? We all shake our heads and say, "it can never happen here," but if the truth be spoken out loud, "it" can and just may happen here sooner than you think.

What can you possibly say about Donald Trump when both Louis Farrakhan and David Duke support him?
"[Trump] is the only member who has stood in front of the Jewish community and said, 'I don't want your money. Any time a man can say to those who control the politics of America, 'I don't want your money,' that means you can't control me. And they cannot afford to give up control of the presidents of the United States.                                                                          Louis Farrakhan, 2/258/2016

“Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage. I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do…..And I am telling you that it is your job now to get active. Get off your duff. Get off your rear end that’s getting fatter and fatter for many of you everyday on your chairs. When this show’s over, go out, call the Republican Party, but call Donald Trump’s headquarters, volunteer. They’re screaming for volunteers. Go in there, you’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have.”                                                                                                                           David Duke, 2/25/20016
There is no better illustration of what Donald Trump truly represents than this:

Let's do a pledge. Who likes me in this room? Raise your right hand. I do solemnly swear that I -- no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there's hurricanes or whatever -- will vote, on or before the 12th for Donald J. Trump for president. '                                                   Donald Trump, 3/5/2016
You would have to be seriously impaired not to understand what that was. And just as he has done every day since the beginning of this exercise in blowviation, Comb-Over guy has taken yet another step closer to the edge of the absurd. 

There.  I said it. Absurd. This is living theatre of the absurd in its rawest, most visceral form, the kind that, after a while, makes you wanna bend over and retch into the nearest street. 

But Trump doesn't really get the whole concept. He continues to push this absurdist envelope without fully understanding the actual kernel inside.  He believes outlandish and ridiculous statements feed into some sort of nationalist uprising, without so much as an inkling as to what comes next.  

The absurd does not liberate; it binds. It does not authorize all actions. "Everything is permitted" does not mean that nothing is forbidden.
                                                         Albert Camus, "The Absurd Man", The Myth of Sisyphus
This is not uncharted territory; we have a pretty good idea of what comes next. The ideas are taking hold. Those who hate become bolder. They already are. BDS is spreading like fire in a hot, dry season, fanned by the winds of baseless hatred. Those who despise what they see in this have two choices: to either get out there and fight for America, or to sit home and not vote because they don't like the choices, thereby electing the government we have come to deserve as a gift from apathy.
The absurdist is not guided by morality, but rather, by their own integrity. The absurdist is, in fact, amoral (though not necessarily immoral). The Absurdist's view of morality implies an unwavering sense of definite right and wrong at all times, while integrity implies honesty with one's self and consistency in the motivations of one's actions and decisions.
                                               Arthur Morius Francis, Nihilism: Philosophy of Nothingness
What's missing from this race is the absence of honesty with self. Everything falls over after that. Which makes me seriously wonder how it got this far. Have we dumbed our society down to a point where a fascist can become not just a candidate, but the front-running candidate for a major political party? Mob mentality takes over when an entire crowd of supporters eagerly raises right arms to take the Trump pledge without noticing the message they physically telegraph. Is that which we once abhorred as a nation, a symbol of terrible dictatorship against which we fought and lost so many lives, to become our new expression of rage and acceptance? This is not a frivolous question; it's a very serious one. 

I'm not the canary in the coal mine; there are lots of people saying the same thing. But how many are beginning to think of this not as a political movement, as much as a form of street theatre? There is an element of experimentation here, something that began as a dinner party joke and has taken on a life of its own. I think the more ridiculous the Donald becomes is tied to his own desire to see how far he can take this thing, only to see it rise higher than he ever believed possible.

But a whole lot of others can see where this can go. This isn't a theatrical performance no matter what Trump thinks. It's not a beauty contest despite Rubio and Cruz behaving like all they have to do is answer a question and look good in a swimsuit. And it is not an exercise in erudition regardless of how good the debaters Sanders and Clinton would like it to be. This race is about the cult of personality; it has nothing to do with qualifications or ability to do the job. 

Meanwhile, Chez WP really is up for sale. Know anyone who wants a big, honkin' house in Mendota Heights?

The Wifely Person Tip o'the Week
Staging a house has two goals:
1) to make it easy for shoppers to envision their stuff in your space
2) make it look less like yours, so leaving it is easy.
Both work.


  1. Politics is the pure example of how stupid the people are when it comes to picking a candidate who can win, not govern, but win the "top dog" place.When has it been different?

  2. As an outsider-
    Right hand raised or not, the 'pledge' creeps me out not primarily through more direct associations to totalitarianism but as a reminder that "the pledge of allegiance" is an actual thing in America. Any analysis on the rise of RWAs ought to take such phenomena, or rather the society that deems them normal, into account.
    It's my firm belief that Trump hasn't really 'done' anything, he's just operating as he always has. Find a market, sell the brand.
    His performance, incredibly calculated as it is, isn't any more theatrics than what came before it, if anything it's less! When the dogwhistle gets replaced by a bullhorn at least you're not playing pretend anymore.