Friday, June 15, 2007

Everything IS Political

Forgive me for using the same picture twice, but this photo represents the luxury of indifference; the luxury of hiding away in your corner of the earth believing that what you do, what you think and the choices you make are in no way connected to the rest of the world.

In response to a post on The StateOf blog about Harold Ford Jr. and his cliche-ridden, shallow analysis of foreign affairs, the following exchange of comments came up and it is typical of the sand in which most Americans choose to bury their heads:


Here's the problem, and here's why i generally dont comment on this type of crap. Although I know intellectually that all of the points Ford touched on do and will impact my life, they nevertheless maintain an abstract, obscure quality, because very little of "this" (read: the war, politicians, bin laden, iran, the saudi royal family, skooter libby, halliburton, hamas.....the list is endless) with the exception of gas prices, has any effect on my life from day to day. Ford et al does not factor into my considerations re: getting to court on time, meeting with clients, billing hours, visiting with grandmother with regularity, trying to mold my wayward brother into a responsible man, helping mom, paying rent, getting my car serviced, going out on a date, watching my weight, getting some exercise, responding to emails, scheduling home repairs.....I offer those lists to illustrate that even the so-called educated upwardly mobile cant and arent interested in getting their arms around the impractical, non-sensical, bullshit double speak.So forgive me Justin, I'm just being honest, I got other shit to do.

- Robyn


Robyn's post epitomizes the American dream: the luxury and arrogance of not giving a damn about anyone but yourself and, among more considerate Americans, your immediate family. It also offers a very bright window into American engagement on the world scene: 'what's in it for me?' To be that indifferent and callous towards the ongoings of the world, ongoings which we know produce massive amounts of misery and despair for the world's most vulnerable people is both a privilege and a curse. It's a privilege to not have a 20min stairmaster workout interrupted by, oh say, the thought of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children dead and dying from the actions of the American government. And yet it's a curse to live life that blindly (and content to do so).Lucky for the world, not all Americans share Robyn’s views. I leave you with the words of Sabina Virgo:

“If we don’t make it clear how the system we live in affects each and every one of us each and everyday, if we don’t make it clear why we care about politics, why we care about the system, people can hear what we say but not care because it seems irrelevant to their daily lives. What that means is that we must find a way to tell the truth about the system in a way that is meaningful and that helps to explain the life experience of the people we work with. Because the reality is most people in America don’t believe they are involved in politics. We’ve been taught to believe that most of the problems in our lives are personal not social and certainly not political. We’ve learned to define politics as elections and under ordinary circumstances most people see elections as irrelevant to their daily lives. We need to redefine the term and show our friends and the people we work with that saying that they’re just not interest in politics makes no sense at all. It’s an illusion. It’s as if they are all fish in the ocean and they just stood up and said they weren’t interested in water. Because the truth is that politics defines who works and who doesn’t; who lives on the streets and who doesn’t; who goes to school and who goes to jail; who takes care of the baby and who helps. Because politics is simply a word defining power relationships in society and economics is a word defining who makes decisions about money in society. Most of us don’t know that decisions by a few rich white men affect our lives each day and that decisions based on corporate profit are the reason behind lost jobs, toxic pollution, and the decreasing quality of human life. And interestingly enough, the men who make decisions that affect our daily lives are as invisible as the two policemen who killed John Daniels.”

- Abu Sahara


At 11:39 AM, June 15, 2007 , Blogger skip sievert said...

Einstein said,
" Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the former."

At 11:46 AM, June 15, 2007 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

That pretty much sums up the state of the world.

At 7:54 PM, June 15, 2007 , Blogger skip sievert said...

It sure will be interesting to see who lines up with who when the bombs start falling in the middle east shortly.
Chaos will ensue.

At 5:44 AM, June 16, 2007 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

There will be an end, both to human stupidity and to the universe - I think it's clear which will happen first.

"Most of us don’t know that decisions by a few rich white men affect our lives each day"

Sure we do because we use that excuse to justify not being politically involved. It's never been easier for Joe Public to be heard or to find out the story behind the story.

Apathy is as dangerous in any society as is hysteria, but it requires time taken away from our daily pursuits. Few people take that time, either to be informed, educated or involved - they opt for entertainment and for pinning the blame for this mess on some convenient class of people they would usually jump at the chance to belong to.

The statement is rather obsolete and becoming more so as the power of European males diminishes and the economic power of other continents rises. The Saudi's, the Chinese, the Japanese, even the Persians of late - when they speak, the rich white males have to listen.

At 11:28 AM, June 16, 2007 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

and by the way, that one-eyed picture is fabulous. You see only one eye, but you imagine the whole world in it. You see nothing but you know she's beautiful.

At 10:27 AM, June 18, 2007 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...


Astute observation as always. That picture is so powerful and says SO much, even with so little showing. Some may see that as a picture of oppression, but I see nothing but power.

At 3:50 PM, June 19, 2007 , Anonymous Robyn said...

Wow, I'm shocked that I'm material.

You and Abu Sahara call it burying my head in the sand, but what I resisted pointing out to him, (because it simply wasnt worth the energy or the typing time), is that when you stop the judgment of those who arent inclined to entertain a tooth and nail debate about the Bush Administration every 5 minutes, you would see that there probably isnt much that people like me and people like you disagree on -- politically that is.

Dont you too think what Ford said was bullshit? Is it not double speak derived from the bullshit process that focuses on beholdent heads of state and puppeteer businessmen?

Given that, (and I assume you answered yes to each of the questions above), my point is dont pass judgment on me for recognizing the bullshit and choosing to spend my time doing, worrying and talking about something else.

At 11:21 AM, June 20, 2007 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

I don't know who's more shocked - you that you're material or me that you read my blog. :-) LOL!

What you said in this comment makes sense and we probably are in agreement. Too bad that isn't what made it into the original comment.

So, to clarify, is it your position that you care and you pay attention, but you feel no need to preach to or argue with the choir? Or, is it the argument that you cannot both care for yourself and your family AND pay attention to the intrigues of the world, i.e. that the two are mutually exclusive?

If it's the former, I get it. If it's the latter, I don't. Indeed, I truly believe that to care for yourself and your family, you have to understand what's going on in far off places because we are ultimately going to be affected by it whether it's planes flying into buildings or interest rates that bring our economy crshing.

At 11:38 AM, June 20, 2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...


The point is the "bullshit" is incredibly important to your everyday life in part for the reasons II stated. People say they "can't worry" about the US and Iran, but then they whine when their cousin or brother is shipped to the Middle East to fight. It matters - big time.

At 10:08 AM, June 23, 2007 , Anonymous Robyn said...

Ok, sorry for the delay. Its so much easier to spit out a one liner about Claire Huxtable ot "nappy" hair.

Anyway, to answer your question, I think my point is BOTH, i.e., 1) that I dont enjoy preaching to the choir as you put it and 2) that as a result of the obvious flaws in our political system, its easier and necessary to fill my life with other important things. IMO, the options you presented arent mutually exclusive. To further clarify, I see things this way becuase its all a bunch of bullshit that in reality I can do very little about, why not concentrate on the things that really matter, like family and job, etc.

I hope that made sense. I'm gonna "live on the edge" and not proof-read the comment. LOL.

At 10:09 AM, June 23, 2007 , Anonymous Robyn said...

Have a good weekend.

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