Quote of the week

Most of us don’t face much in the way of threats on a daily basis, and this costs us something in personal development:

I promise you, no medieval peasant ever lost a minute’s sleep asking himself what’s the meaning of life — when you’re locked in a desperate struggle for existence, day in and day out, the point of it all is pretty self-evident. Nowadays, you can get well into middle age before encountering death, and very few of us, I’d imagine, have actually seen someone die. Dying, in modern America, is a drawn-out, ritualized, abstract event, not a regularly-experienced part of life. We all know theoretically that we can get cancer, or die in a car crash, or get struck by lightning, but there’s no immediacy to it. Back in the days, death was all around, all the time. I’d bet good money that the average medieval peasant saw more death, even violent death, than the average American soldier, even in wartime.

I have seen someone die. But I wasn’t a soldier at the time.

We moderns, when faced with the question of life’s purpose — as anyone of sufficient IQ will be — have no answer that makes gut-level sense. In a world where death is a constant companion, where life’s fragility is daily hammered home, “live each day as if it were your last” is an expression of transcendental meaning. For us it’s a Hallmark card slogan. We need something, anything, to make us feel that any given day might, in fact, actually be our last. The medical term for this is hormesis — growth in response to non-lethal stress. We’re designed to optimize it — can’t live without it, in fact, which is why prosperity is lethal.

Hence, radical politics. Everyone who has studied Marxism, especially its modern oxides like “intersectionality,” knows that despite its formidable technical apparatus, it’s all just ooga-booga stuff. Marxism’s appeal is, and always has been, purely emotional. “Hate the man who is better off than you are” is the truest explication of Marx’s gospel, and since nothing stirs the blood like hate does, hating the man who is better off than you are — and who isn’t, at least in some sense, if you think about it long enough? — is easily mistaken for hormesis. The point of life is to create Utopia; the fact that Utopia (“no place” in Greek) doesn’t exist and can never exist is a feature, not a bug.

The problem, of course, is that you can never admit Utopia is impossible … which necessarily entails blaming some Other for Utopia’s failure to exist. That’s the richest part of the Marxist lexicon: The Enemies List. Wreckers, capitalist-roaders, right-deviationists, left-deviationists, kulaks, Trotsky, Lin Biao, Emmanuel Goldstein … Marxists have fantastic imaginations, and never more than when finding someone or something to blame. At one point, Mao himself blamed sparrows for sabotaging the Great Leap Forward.

And here on the cusp of 2019, everything is the fault of Trump, white nationalism, hate speech, Trump, the Republican party, voter suppression, sport-utility vehicles, and Trump. No arguments to the contrary can be accepted.

3 comments

  1. McGehee »

    7 December 2018 · 5:46 pm

    Years ago when bullying became a national crisis, I feared nothing good, and much bad, would come of efforts to shield kids from every little unpleasantness.

    Even before I started school, I had to contend with an older brother who was more athletic, and thus more aggressive, than myself. I now think it was a generally beneficial inoculation being teased and roughed up at home, since what lay in store elsewhere would never be so gentle.

  2. hollyh »

    10 December 2018 · 8:43 am

    ““Hate the man who is better off than you are”.

    Right, but why do so many conclude that they should hate all those who are LESS well-off?

  3. CGHill »

    10 December 2018 · 10:23 am

    It’s a predictable development: damned proles don’t know their place.

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