Friday, August 16, 2013

Nationalism: A Menace To The World

Why do people take pride in something as random as their ethnicity, creed, gender or the place they were born in? Pride is a sense of one's own proper dignity or value. For me I interpret this as conceit. It’s bizarre how somebody can take pleasure or satisfaction taken in an achievement of something they had nothing to do with. Association with a crowd contained by arbitrary borders is laughable.
How does it feel to worship
a bunch of lines on a map?

There's the type of nationalism that stems from occupation/colonialism (as long as people realise that it's a means, not an end) and a type of nationalism rooted in tradition and local customs. The first is a struggle against oppression and illegitimate authority, that needs to be supported as authoritarian human relationships cannot justify themselves.

Struggles against national oppression cannot be necessarily termed as nationalism, though it is sometimes confusingly glossed over as "nationalism of the oppressed". It aims to end existing oppression of the population (such as the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli colonial regime), not unite some imagined nation against foreigners.

The second kind adds extra artificial separations and barriers between the people of each side. People find fraternity with other people belonging to the same arbitrary division of societal order has forced them into, rather than finding fraternity with their real natural ally. The very concept of a ‘Nation’ is a very narrow one- it is used to create an illusion of unity; just because we were born on the same patch of land does not mean I share anything fundamental with the ruling class or the society of the country I was born into. What Nationalism is in essence, is an irrational feeling of being united with a group with the same characteristics - be it culture, cuisine, religion, language or ethnicity. History shows us that new nations can be created any time - nations, after all, are artificial constructs. Nationality can change over time depending on conquests by 'foreign' powers, immigration, civil wars etc.

Nationalism promotes the idealistic notion that the 'nation' (a cultural group that usually defined by the ethnic, religious and racial make-up of the majority population within the borders of a state) is something to be valued, and to take pride in. As such, they see various groups that deviate from the homogeneous make-up of the nation as threats towards it. Racism usually goes hand in hand with nationalism.

One of the constant themes pursued by the ruling class across the World is that the population should be proud of "their" country and if necessary from time to time take part in wars to protect it. During two world wars millions of civilians died, often because they imagined they had a country.

Conflict comes about when people of different cultures/faith/ethnicity etc. fail to integrate, and instead cling to their "own kind". People adopt a tribal mentality and this is where people begin to exalt their race/religion/etc. and conflict arises. The whole stick to your “own kind" mentality will only serve to stunt your potential growth as a person by the repeated feeding of the same idea from similar people as opposed to the introduction of new ideas from outside sources.

What Nationalism does within the society is to divide it deeply by means of divide and conquer-tactics. For example, if the workers from country A feel an unrest about the crisis (diminishing jobs and wage cuts), Nationalists tell them it is the fault of people from country X or have the colour Y. Soon enough the workers from A begin to despise X's and Y's. It does nothing but teach you to hate people you never met.

Never underestimate the pure destructive power of raw idiocy. Exposure to nationalism for extended periods of time or during formative years in children may cause decreased cognitive and reasoning abilities, and in extreme cases, hatred, bigotry and violence including, but not limited to fanaticism, murder and genocide. It amazes me the amount of people that cannot discern right from wrong on their own accord or common sense.

Nationalism in British tabloids
Being born in a country is not an achievement, it’s fine to be proud of what you have accomplished and achieved not for just so happen to be born in a country along with millions of others. People are proud of their country because they have no sense of themselves and are looking for something bigger, more encapsulating and symbolic to represent the potential they feel locked up inside but are hardly ever able to realise. For instance, I have friends who are "proud to be English", but if I ask them what "English" is they fall back on bland stereotypes and so we don't get anywhere beyond, "A group of people living contiguously who share random ideals". More often than not, these are innate tropes and I question whether one can be proud of something innate. There is nothing beneficial to your character if you care that deeply which side of an imaginary line you're born.

The most historically illiterate people in the entire world feel proud about things they have absolutely no control over. One should be curious to find out about their origins. But, it's not okay to pretend you're superior to others because of that place. Why humans busy themselves with which country is supreme, [when there are so many more worthwhile and intriguing things to study and explore (for example, space)] is beyond me. At the end of the day, it's a useless fight designed to divide the population; the same way that religion and racism did.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Power Of Introverts

Society dictates that we follow specific images projected by the main stream media, so why do introverts tend to rebel from these stereotypes? Approximately 75% of the population are extroverts, which make the introvert the minority, yet the introvert will not succumb to societal pressure in order to conform. Often, extroverts will view the introvert as being antisocial, stuck up or as loners, but even with these labels, the introvert will stand their ground with complete disregard for how others perceive them.

A wise person speaks because they have something to say;
a foolish person speaks because they have to say something.
I hold very strong opinions and express them frequently to the point of being thought of as 'outspoken' and 'politically incorrect'; but that doesn't mean I enjoy small talk, loud parties or crowded spaces or people ringing me up just for a chat- not if I saw them yesterday or will see them next week… I despise that.

Extroverts are always on the phone- and in public spaces too yapping about trivial day to day matters that could, to introverts, wait until they meet up with call recipients and stop interrupting other travellers who seek quiet and will only use the phone if there is an urgent message that can't wait. They prefer to read a book or gaze out of the window. Extroverts often need company to feel de-stressed and they are lonely when they keep their own company too much, whilst introverts either crave solitude or familiar company with close friends or family and feel lonely in a crowd of people they hardly know - and don't particularly want to know either because they find superficial chit chat and small talk shallow and pointless.

In my experience the people who never seem to draw breath are the ones who rarely have anything of use to add to the conversation, but merely waffle on just for sake of hearing themselves speak; whereas those who think first, and then speak are worth listening to. Extroverts have limited to no capacity for any self-reflection or analysis.

The problem with the 'verbal diarrhoea' is
that they've not been told to shut up yet.
Extroverts come across as very "needy" to me. They need other people, and even to be the centre of attention, to make them feel good. This desperate neediness is a very unattractive quality. Introverts, on the other hand, are much more independent. They are capable of keeping themselves fulfilled without desperately clinging to others. This strength of character makes introverts far more attractive than clingy extroverts.

But, I am hardly surprised that society as a whole tends to favour the extrovert, just look at the scourge of talent shows that see people competing against each other for their fifteen minutes of feckless fame, like beetles fighting over dung. The society seems to be obsessed with the idea that we should all be exciting, bubbly and effervescent characters, but take a step back and you can see how fake it all is.

The Lone Wolf- the animal that fits
the characteristics of an Introvert.
The media certainly promotes raving extroverts as the norm. Every time I leave the house, I always notice people who act as if they are in a soap opera- exaggeratedly loud and cartoon-like. The reality is that deep introverts don't really take the extrovert chatterboxes very seriously. We just think they're shallow and we're silent about it. Personally, I’d like a lot more people to shut up and not need to fill any vacuum of silence with any inanity they can think of. I certainly don't equate talkativeness with being clever.

Introverts are blessed with a more realistic world-view, in which they accurately perceive that the extrovert majority are not really very interested in anything anybody else has to say, no matter how interesting, as extroverts are only interested in their own egos. Introverts are much more interesting people in general, but unfortunately they don't get many opportunities to prove it to themselves. Extroverts can never appreciate what happens when introverts get together in their absence.

Being an introvert has never stopped me having fun. It's just that what is fun is different for introverts and extroverts; I generally found introverts to have a much richer imagination and this makes conversation much more fun than chatting with an extrovert who may be confident and outgoing but their lack of depth makes them quite boring people to have a chat. They want the world to conspicuously enjoy itself in a manner of their choosing, and they turn vaguely sanctimonious when they encounter pockets of resistance, as though their definition of fun is the only one that matters.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with displaying a quiet icy exterior,
it's what's on the inside that matters.
Introverts have a higher distain for popular culture, and have a more solid sense of self. The richness that people who gain their energy from solitude have to offer is immense. Introverts never go out of their way to be liked - their whole philosophy is that if someone can't be bothered to wait to get to know them very well then they were not worth knowing.

The introvert can have extroverted tendencies while still remaining to be an introvert. Many introverts will pick and choose the time and place to be extroverted. Within minutes, the introvert will once again find the tranquillity of being the observer.

Despite being only 25% of the population, the introvert will rarely change their attitude or personality to appease others. While society will continue to make the introvert feel like an outcast, the introvert will not be persuaded by peer pressure in order to conform to the norms and conventions.

So, to all fellow introverts out there, accept your nature, you will be a lot happier and healthier. Plus, you can strike fear into extroverts by telling them you go to a restaurant or the cinema alone (this one is my favourite; you can actually see the terror in their eyes).

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Cult of Ayn Rand – Atlas Mugged

For those not familiar with Ayn Rand and her work, she was an ultra-right winged whacky free market totalitarian who supported laissez-faire capitalism and was totally against workers' rights. In short- a megalomaniacal cretin.

The writing was geared towards the starry eyed teenagers who wanted to be told they were special. So she conjured up some pseudo-intellectual cod-philosophy to tell them that morality was always about rewarding rational, thinking individuals (the definition of which being whoever happened to agree with her). But in reality her political views were all about backing policies that simply reward people who are already well off while failing everybody else. Through her writings, Rand envisions this simplistic, decadent world where currency is supreme, which places a dollar sign on everything, even human life.

Some people are beyond contempt.
Capitalism does not acknowledge potential, for it shines approval on those who already achieved their potential, which is potentially crippling to those who are living in poverty and minorities attempting to liberate themselves from oppression.

Objectivism is just another name for American flavoured Fascism. Instead of supporting a fascist state, Randroids glorify the cult of private and corporate power. In fact, her entire oeuvre is dedicated to worshipping the fascistic power of the individual over society, the power of the "strong" over the "weak", and the rich over the poor. In fact, in a way, the society she envisions is far more evil than Fascism, for most fascist states at least put on a false face for being for "the people" (they of course were not, but had to keep up the charade to keep power), but in a Randist society, there would be nothing to constrain the power of fascist individuals and corporations, who could exploit people as they wished. This line of thinking eventually led to the bastardized version of Anarchism known as Anarcho-Capitalism, a festering, brutal hellhole of an ideology if there ever was one.

It is not hard to see why Rand appeals to billionaires. She offers them something that is crucial to every successful political movement: a sense of victim-hood and tells them that they are parasitized by the ungrateful poor and oppressed by intrusive, controlling governments.

I did read it in the end, not because it's any good, but just for a glimpse into the bizarre fantasy world Randroids lives in. The horror of reading that is not something I'd wish upon anyone. One of the problems is that people who need any degree of looking after are curiously absent from her world-view - so children, the sick, the elderly, mentally ill, disabled people - all become non-persons.

John Galt- the epitome of the selfish attitude.
There are so many ludicrous, pernicious things about Rand's philosophy - the way its proponents consign most of humanity to worthless trash, categorize themselves as superior beings, the übermensch living amidst the great subhuman population of parasites. They make individualism, egoism & selfishness into a fetish and ridicule any human impulse toward generosity and refusal to deify the self as unnatural or worse. It's a deeply sick and twisted ideology.

Ayn Rand's description of Howard Roark, hero of her novel The Fountainhead: "He was born without the ability to consider others." This, of course, would be the mark of a sociopath.

Approximately 3% of all humans are sociopaths, born without the ability to feel empathy. Rand was surely one. Not only did she venerate selfishness as the highest good, she idolized William Edward Hickman (a sadistic murderer who dismembered a 12-year-old girl) as a "beautiful soul" and superman. The fact that sociopaths like Rand exist are frightening and sad, but one cannot blame them for their condition. Her followers, however, have no such excuse. Ayn Rand followers are nothing but despicable apologists for oppression and imperialism.

Her views more than illustrate how easily people can fall into the trap of justifying their own dubious motives, rationalising every egotistical and self-centred thought, whilst excusing each hypocritical act. This has such a strong appeal to those who lack a degree of empathy, imagination or self-knowledge, hence the repugnance of 'the other' and emphasis on 'self' - all dressed up as morality.

Humans are one of the few animals that will perform acts with no obvious gain and are fundamentally social/pack animals. They cannot survive in any meaningful way outside a social group. For a social group to function "living for yourself" has to be counter-balanced by what she despises as "altruism", and of course, the good of the group and the willingness of people to put others needs before their own ultimately means the group and more individuals are more likely to survive and in better shape. The disabled, other people's children, the sick and the elderly are just baggage in the kind of world view she envisages.

In many ways, hers is the kind of deeply flawed and radical thinking that the masses grab hold of in the way they seized on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. It offers a simple solution and some convenient scapegoats to blame.

Objectivism: It's a philosophy for toddlers who don't like sharing their sweets.
She ended her life as a living, breathing mockery of her own work- broke and living off the state. When faced with lung cancer, as a result of her life long disbelief that smoking caused cancer what did Rand do? Face it as an Objectivist should and rely on steely eyed rugged individualism? By living by her own mantra that only the fittest survive and that all state welfare is wrong, merely allowing the undeserving weak to live?

Nope, she claimed Medicare off the US Government under the alias of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor).

In short, it’s cultish because it encourages (ironically) the stunting of reason, and an endless pursuit of some divine status as a capitalist titan. When you treat selfishness as a virtue as she does, you'll perpetually disappoint yourself until you can convince yourself that you got where you are in life all on your own, in spite of, rather than because of, association with other people.

Like all of her predecessors in the Counter-Enlightenment tradition, Ayn Rand is destined for the trash heap of history. The faster she gets there the better off humanity will be.
Ayn Rand synthesized Fascism and racist white supremacy. I'll end this article with some direct quotes of her ignorant drivel-
"They (Native Americans) didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using. What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their 'right' to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent."
- Ayn Rand, Q and A session following her address to the graduating class of The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, March 6, 1974
"The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it's the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are. But when it comes to the power of the mind—the development of industry in that wasted desert continent—versus savages who don't want to use their minds, then if one cares about the future of civilization, don't wait for the government to do something. Give whatever you can. If you mean whose side one should be on, Israel or the Arabs, I would certainly say Israel because it’s the advanced, technological, civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages who have not changed for years and who are racist and who resent Israel because it’s bringing industry, intelligence, and modern technology into their stagnation."
- Ayn Rand, Q and A session during taping of Donohue, Live in New York, 1974.