Sunday, July 17, 2016

When Facebook Becomes Blogging

Here followeth a rant, please ignore if you like.

When I write about politics, I'm usually trying to needle radicals. Ideas matter, and the Internet is their providence for anyone whose ideas nobody will listen to. I don't go after conservatives with as much passion because what's wrong with them is so obvious to virtually everyone in the virtual world, and I don't feel like preaching to a choir.

But that doesn't mean I find their moral irresponsibility any less disgusting. You cannot shout to the wind that liberals smugly write off everyone who disagrees with them as evil, and then say a moment later that everybody who disagrees with you is a piece of filth who should burn in hell for betraying your religion or people of origin. And if you then start writing off the people to whom you're talking who might have a twinge of sympathy with these dissenters as insane or idiots, or even just their friends, then you have relegated everyone in that position whom you claim to care about to a second class citizen.

From Richard Nixon down to the least informed Rush Limbaugh viewer, the modern conservative pathology has always been to fulminate against those who disagree as an abstract monolith of smug evil, and then be shocked when specific dissenters respond with irritation because they know that they're obviously being implicated. The shock of which, of course, feeds their pathology and make them double down on their obsessions. They become defined by their hatred, because their hatreds are the only way which they know what they stand for.

The conservative worldview divides the world into a secure fortress of complacency and the barbarians at the gates. Those in the fortress are the blessed, accepted for who they are without exception or earning it, nevertheless, those who diverge from the worldview will always be viewed with suspicion, inevitably a second class citizen of the fortress who have to endure abstract beratings of unchecked aggression that, passive aggressively, are clearly aimed at them specifically. They transform in a matter of seconds from angels to demons - relishing the chance to catch a fly in their net and force it at its weakest moment to battle on terms not its own for its self-respect, solely provoked for the angry pleasure of the spider proving itself right yet again, not so much as food for survival as a drug from which they can never wean themselves, because ultimately, the need to constantly prove oneself right gives you little satisfaction or peace.

I know that this description sounds all too familiar... I am, in no small way, what I was formed to be, and maybe a particularly virulent exemplar of this combative temperament. But I don't fool myself as to what I am: if I've being provocative, I know that my intention is to be provocative. At this point, I wonder if I know how to be much else, much as I wonder if my formative influences ever did any better.

The Internet is not a place to give a direct self-history, so instead I'll say, very simply: my provocation, my taking potshots, my obviously interrogative personality, was based on an isolation that for many years was nearly complete. I was the ultimate outcast, an ex-prodigy reminded of his spectacular failure to reach the potential everyone told him was his from all too early an age with all the humiliations that accompany it, the leaning disabled brilliant kid who went from the smartest person everyone ever met to the dumbest in a matter of months, the punchline of Pikesville. Deprived for decades of friends who understood anything about how this came to happen, and often family too, and would rather never make the effort.

I rejected the world because the world rejected me. I learned virtually everything I've learned by myself, without teaching, without guidance, without support. The groupthink of most of those who've read as widely as I or more is sickening, they never purchased their knowledge at any worth, with any more anxiety to accompany it than when they have to hand in their term papers with plenty of colleagues who can assuage their worst fears. No wonder so few of them have any original insights.

Meanwhile, the smartest people who go out into the real world often embrace a false self-aggrandizement and individuality, and pretend that they've accomplished things that are barely even accomplishments. Many of these pseudo-successes develop conservative and libertarian ideas, which glorify their achievements when it's obvious to everybody else that what got them there was a mixture of functional institutions and luck, institutions which their beliefs dictate they must do everything within their power to corrode from the inside. It enrages me that these luftmenschen can think that their innate goodness got them to where they are when they are probably doing what they can to destroy every advantage that made them so successful before anyone else can reach for the same success.

The peers I grew up with are all, as nearly all upper middle class Jews are, great successes in the world. I alone was left behind to be the idiot son in a business for which everyone knows an organizational garbage fire like me has no aptitude, and without the organizational know how to extricate myself, or anyone with the patience to help me find the way, and therefore with little left to do but contemplate that which almost was and might have been in different circumstances, with nothing left to do with this organizational train wreck in which I've always lived and must always live but to stew in the rage of entitlement which few people as privileged as I ever have to face that they feel just as much as I obviously still do.

I know that humiliation is an extremely relative concept. I've had as difficult a life as only a privileged guy can have. I demand not to be pitied, please put that to people far more deserving than I, but as a privileged guy, I reserve the right to speak my mind unreservedly, consequences be dammed - how bad could they be? I come with a sword because it was placed in my hand every time I tried to drop it.

Nervous breakdown over. Nothing to see here folks.

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