ABOUT YOU FACEBOOK PEOPLE
Much as I hate FACEBOOK, I have learned much about people from it. There is a very wide variety among you, which should be obvious because there is such a wide variety of individual types within our common species: homo sapiens.
But also, I took the policy of being fairly liberal in who I accepted as “friends” (and FACEBOOK labeling has so desecrated that noble word) with the result that my FACEBOOK contacts are quite varied even though I, like everyone else, have definite preferences as to the kinds of people I want as (“to”) “friend.” So from all of you and your associated contacts who post comments, I get to see a wide swathe of human types: good, mediocre, innocuous and irrelevant.
Who is who I never say because I have a policy of not making personal characterizations, which either are or could be taken as insults. Everybody takes themselves to be the measure of “reasonableness” and their opinions, especially political opinions, to be the measure of “correctness” and “accuracy.” I am no different in that regard, though I do try to be conscious of my own “settings” to try to avoid fooling myself when evaluating new information, since it could possibly teach me something new and worthwhile.
I attribute this last cautionary attitude to both a natural inclination and to my long years of rigorous training in the sciences (the real sciences), the scientific method (European Enlightenment thinking), and many years of actual scientific investigation (and with mathematics and physics). As a result, I find most of what you’all post to vary from logical, well-documented and erudite, to pathetically self-centered and idiotic.
I remind myself that many people are afflicted, lonely, poorly educated, and have unfilled emotional and psychological needs, and their FACEBOOK posts may mask cries for help and solicitations for acceptance and compassion, and just be outbursts of sorrowful anger and frustration. I avoid poking into all postings that initially strike me as stupid and pathetic, because they may be harboring deeper layers of emotional murkiness that their breezy superficiality does not hint at.
All of this informs my policy on “unfriending.” Basically, I only do that when I have finally decided that an individual is irredeemably tiresome, or insulting, or obdurately stupid beyond what their innate intellectual capabilities should allow for. It is so much easier to just ignore such people until (and if) they become insufferable, and in that way I can avoid being unnecessarily hurtful. As to me being “friended” and/or “unfriended,” you’all can do as you like.
Long ago I learned that people believe what they want to believe because those chosen beliefs let them feel good about themselves. Belief is emotional because the chosen beliefs are taken to be ego-defining, and hence people become very defensive, even quite hostile, when you challenge their “ideas” because they take such criticisms as attacks on their egos — on their actual being. This can be avoided between interlocutors disciplined in the scientific method, because they know that their ideas are not “them,” they are separate abstract constructs. Such constructs are retained as long as they are practically and morally useful — that is, validated by objective reality — and discarded when found to be erroneous, and improved constructs can be adopted. But most dialogs on FACEBOOK are of the intellectually undisciplined emotive-reactive type. So the best responses are most often none.
The postings I find most interesting deal with societal and political issues, with art, music, literature and photography, with Nature and our grand geophysical context, and with deep insights into human psychology and the human experience. A small sprinkling of trivial amusements is also enjoyable. I don’t expect others to share my interests, but I find others more interesting if they do.
From my perspective, the most important political struggle in the world today is that between “Democracy” and “Fascism.” By “democracy” I mean secular societies of wide inclusiveness and with a high degree of personal freedom/liberty, and which are organized under government regimes that are democratic/parliamentarian, and have a significant portion of their domestic policy being that of a social-welfare state (the more the better) and with as little corruption as possible. By “fascism” I mean the exact opposite of “democracy.”
The next most important political struggle in the world today is that between “Socialism” and “Capitalism.” By “socialism” I mean that the entirety of the state apparatus and the economic paradigm of its society are organized for the benefit of ALL its people, without regard to the desires of economic special interests for preferential treatment and exclusionary protections to give them a “leg up” in their self-aggrandizing contentiousness. By “capitalism” I mean governments owned by an agglomeration of corporate and financial institutions, and managed by the collective political arms of those organized capital interests, primarily for the benefit of the self-aggrandizing activities of those capitalist institutions and the careerists manning (and ‘womanning’) them.
Most of the nation-states in the world today are capitalist (I can’t think of a purely socialist one, except perhaps Cuba), and some of the capitalist nation-states are more “democratic” and some are more “fascist.” From my perspective, and broadly speaking because all nation-states are flawed to some degree, The United States, Latin America and Western Europe are primarily democratic, while Russia under Vladimir Putin is fascist, Syria under the al-Assad family dictatorship is fascist, and China is authoritarian, which for me is equivalent to fascism. Authoritarian regimes are also common elsewhere in the world, and they always include oppressed populations, sometimes even of majority numbers, but segregated by ethnicity, or religion, or physiological attributes (a.k.a., “race”), or language, or relative and enforced poverty. The ultimate logic of fascism is genocide (“The ultimate logic of racism is genocide” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.).
So, I see struggle #1 as Democracy versus Fascism, and struggle #2 as Socialism versus Capitalism.
The singular existential threat of planetary scale and of alarming immediacy that we face today is human-caused Global Warming Climate Change. I have written volumes about this since 2003, but that is no longer necessary. In the last two or three years, the last shreds of climate change ‘denialism’ have all fallen away. Everybody now accepts the fact that global warming is reality, but humanity has yet to do anything real in response to it. So both fossil fuel use and the average global temperature keep rising at accelerating rates.
The only effective response to tamp down global warming, and in the ideal to permanently stop emitting carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases, would necessarily have to be a cooperative and coordinated worldwide effort. In order for such an effort to be mounted and sustained indefinitely, it would be necessary to equalize the standard of living around the world, so as to offer all people everywhere an equivalent degree of protection from economic hardship and natural disasters, and to equitably tax all people around the world for the resources needed to maintain our linked programs of environmental preservation. In essence, we need World Socialism in order to be able to effectively counteract Global Warming Climate Change (GWCC).
The immediate reaction by “the rich” on hearing this is: “you want to take wealth, luxury and comfort away from us to pay for poor people,” and the immediate reaction by those “poor people” is: “we are suffering the brunt of this deadly climate change, which you are causing, so you owe us!” But ‘we are not all in it together,’ so the rich will continue to claw fossil fuels out of the Earth and burn them up because that is the source of their physical, and thus military, and thus financial power, and therefore of their overall political power domestically and internationally; and the poor will continue to seek to acquire fossil fuels and burn them up because that is the quickest way to move themselves out of grinding poverty, brute labor, and lives of precarious survival. Because the idea of worldwide human solidarity is too challenging and too frightening for most, we are relegated to a fractious “law of the jungle” (and actually the animals of the jungles are not as unnecessarily bestial as narcissistic humans can be).
Therefore, in order to have any chance of slowing and ultimately stopping Global Warming Climate Change we first need to have World Socialism, or a high degree of it; and before we can develop that we need a predominantly democratic world, because socialism will never emerge from a world strangled by fascism’s grip.
That is why the support for the Ukrainians’s defensive war against Russian aggression driven by Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy is so important. Defense of Ukraine is of course essential to protect the lives, culture, and liberty of individual Ukrainians and of their nation-state, but it is also important in the defense of democracy generally against the attacks on it by fascism. There are many places around the globe besides Ukraine where that struggle is taking place, Palestine, Syria, Myanmar easily come to mind, but at the moment Ukraine is a particularly intense flashpoint in that struggle that has galvanized much world public attention (including mine).
My contention is that the global “we” — especially in its most privileged nation-states — should do our best to support and arm the Ukrainians, and other oppressed people facing similar existential threats from fascist aggression, to help liberate them, and then expand those initially bilateral bonds of human solidarity into a broader international bond of human solidarity that is democratic and then socialist (as I have characterized those terms). In that way we erode the extent of fascism while expanding the domain of social justice and moral humanism, and simultaneously increase the extent and effectiveness of humanity’s Global Warming Climate Change counteractions.
To say that this is idealistic and impractical in our realpolitik civilization is simply to make excuses for preferring to sink into ignominious defeatism and dishonorable opportunism. There is no shame in ultimately failing to reach our desired goal in this tiered and multi-faceted global struggle, there is only shame and dishonor in failing to give that struggle our best collective efforts and to continue them.
Novalis paraphrased Herakleitos’s observation on the karmic drift of the unexamined life, as “Character is fate,” but it is important to realize that the nature of that personal moral character can be defined by the kind of fate one seeks to aim at by intentional actions. The world that humans inhabit never passively nor spontaneously improves (or not for long at least), but the worst possibilities can be prevented, and the sporadic catastrophes can be helpfully responded to after the fact, when the global we is more integrated through bonds of human solidarity: democratic socialism.
So all that goes into my thinking as to the value of my posts, and of yours, on FACEBOOK, not that I have any illusions that any of our posts actually “change people’s minds” (you can only do that for yourself, in reaction to your experiences in life), let alone influence the potentates and “change our world.” But we can stimulate each other’s thinking by what we choose to share on “social media,” and some of that might lead us each to reexamine prior assumptions, and even possibly decide to replace some of them with new and improved idea-constructs. In that way we improve ourselves.
So that is how I go about using FACEBOOK, and why, and how I view you’all in general.
This really belongs with the above.
One Life, Many Lives
20 April 2022
Great post today! Your Facebook discussion had me laughing out loud. These topics started numerous in-depth mental responses that are impossible to convey in a comment format. Here’s an abbreviated list (which might appear social media-like).
Every time I turn on the news and see the destruction in Ukraine, I think there must be a faster way to put an end to the madness. (My husband points out the ‘whiteness’ of the coverage. Other, similar, world conflicts have not gotten similar treatment.)
Since media outlets (social platforms, news, and political campaigns) have gotten so sophisticated at psychological hijacking, there should probably be some form of trustworthy oversight.
Stepping away from social media feels like a return to stasis after being sick.
A favorite author – Obi Kaufmann – calls Climate Change, Climate Breakdown. I think this is a more precise term for this point in time.
There does seem to be a cultural disconnect. Humanity being an ‘intelligent’ cooperative species hasn’t been able to figure out, yet, how to live on this planet in more social-centric and environmentally friendly ways. I think a significant part of our problem is that we’ve overproduced and moved around too much.
If there were only twelve of us, depending on each other for survival, belief bubbles couldn’t form. If you made one that didn’t agree with your group, you’d probably die.
Maybe this way of thinking is defeatism but the stars, Earth, and life itself give me hope. Humanity may be at the apex of its wave. All that we’ve built might come tumbling down, but something will come next. Life persists.
Being human is wonderful, but being a slime mold might be equally enjoyable.