Putting the rage in suffrage

“There’s really no point to voting. If it made any difference, it would probably be illegal.”

–H.L. Mencken

One of the most sacrosanct values of modern government is the ability to vote. The last 300 years, particularly in the Anglosphere, are a litany of ever expanding suffrage to more classes of people. The path of extending this privileged from white, land owning, adult males to anyone over the age of 18 is a long but steady one. It’s clear when you look at politicians and political movements of days gone by and see if they were on the “right side of history”, in this regard. Small battles are still being fought over technicalities, but the war over who can and should vote is long over. Any attitude besides universal suffrage has been banished from mainstream thought for decades.

If you ask anyone if you should vote in an upcoming election, the answer will be a resounding yes aside from a few malcontents. Ask the same person if they plan on voting and you will most likely get a polite lie in return. Barely half of the eligible persons in “the great democracy” of the United States show up to cast a ballot. The disconnect between these two attitudes is obvious and apparent. The highest civic duty and privilege of democracy is barely being utilized.

If you press somebody on this, you might get a bit closer to the truth. “It’s too much of a hassle and one vote never makes a difference anyway.” It takes a rare kind of person to do something even when they know their action will have no affect on it. In fact, it sounds like a form of insanity. Most people with OCD know that nothing changes when they perform their tics ad nauseum. In this light, it is somewhat amazing that half of the population still feels compelled to take half a day to vote. They will put off whatever they were doing to pull a lever in a cardboard station to vote for someone they will never see in person, let alone meet.

The last time I voted, it was out of sheer boredom. The polling station was literally outside my front door and the line was an obstacle to get out onto the street. My curiosity got the better of me, and I thought it would be interesting to join the line.

What ensued was the most potent soul-crushing mix of boredom and frustration in recent memory. First off, the line only had 30 or so people in it, so I figured it would pass fairly shortly. There were several polling stations and five or so odd people assisting the process along. It took me over half an hour to reach the front of the line. The only thing that compelled me further to stay in the line than five minutes was my own sense of stubbornness.

Once I had reached the front of the line, it took them an additional five minutes to verify my identity. I couldn’t simply hand them my drivers license or tell them that I lived on this block, they had to look me up by name in some arcane tome of bureaucracy. After some fumbling around, the half-awake poll worker finally realized the correct order of the alphabet and found the right record.

This got me a ballot in a manilla folder and a cheap ballpoint pen. After wandering over to the makeshift privacy stations they had set up, I proceeded to look over the options on the ballot. It instantly brought me back into my childhood, when I took public school standardized tests. I saw a few names I had recognized from TV ads and sign posts, but the majority of options were faceless people filling previously unknown positions. Part of me just wanted to randomly mark names that sounded nice, and the other part of me wanted to rip the elongated piece of paper into shreds.

I left leaving most of the options blank. I think one of the poll workers might have put it in the wrong box when I left. It made me wonder if my ballot would be thrown out on a technicality. It is too bad you don’t get a revote in that case. The entire process is designed to make it as hard as impossible to do anything right.

The essential flaw behind voting in a modern democracy is that is voluntary while other parts of society are compulsory. Even in countries where voter turn-out is mandatory, abstaining is still an option. Abstaining from paying your taxes, dodging a draft, or ignoring a court subpoena are not. As a consequence, these are the parts of government that people actually pay attention to. It doesn’t matter if you feel these things are honorable or not. It does not need propaganda and peer pressure to speak well of it. You either do it or bad things happen to you. The action taken is based in fear of consequences and a sense of powerlessness.

In this, one can see the true operational capacity of democratic governments. The sense of cooperation and appreciation of diversity are nothing more a facade for the uglier and more necessary parts of government. It’s success relies on the combination of these two forces. They both need each other to thrive. In a society deprived of any sense of commonality or nationhood, something else needs to jump in and fill the void. Otherwise, people will never work together. The farther a society falls into this trap, the more propaganda and fear are needed to patch the gaps.

I sure as hell know that I’ll never go out of my way to vote again.

The birth of hatred

People are generally lazy by nature.  Procrastination is a trait that affects everyone.  There are few things more powerful as a motivator than a tight deadline.  They are even more effective when there are great consequences attached to the due date.

It should come as no surprise that social and political movements take advantage of this human weakness.  Rhetoric for every cause uses the innate laziness found in man as a primary tool to spread their message and magnify its percieved importance.  Regardless of the issue’s real size, every ill in society must be made far worse.  Otherwise, nobody will care to address it.  After all, there are many other issues that need to be addressed.  Many of them far more dire and wide ranging than the ones that get actual attention.

This is observable any time an issue rises to prominence in modernity.  In order for people to care about national debt, politicians must scream about how it will bring about the end of the nation.  For a charity to get donations to help African poverity, they must plead that millions will die of hunger and of genocide without their help.  Preachers must speak of eternal damnation and hellfire to get people to repent their sins.

The human attraction to these arguments stems from the innate tendencies to think in black and white terms.  There is little room for gradation in most politics and religion.  Something must be right or left, good or evil, heaven or hell.  Discourse about large, nebulous topics must be forced into categories humans can easily agree or disagree with.  Otherwise, they are easily forgotten.  It is the only way people can deal with topics beyond the scope of the commonplace.

This uncomfortable separation into discrete categories is the source of almost all disagreement.  These categories have meaning to the individual and the group for them to be useful.  They are influenced and colored by all of his experiences and all that he has learned.  While two people might be talking about the same thing using the same words and phrases, the conception behind it can be entirely different and thereby lead confusion.

Modernity thrives on this basic misunderstanding.  Multiculturalism and globalization bring together people with vastly different experiences and beliefs. The fact that most people are packed into crowded cities only exacerbates the effect.  To a Muslim, the hijab and burka are seen as symbols of purity, chastity, and temperance.  To a westerner, it is seen as a symbol of sexual oppression.  In truth, it is neither.  It is only a piece of cloth.  The meaning each person gives it is what breeds resentment.

As a result, modernity brings about conflict and anomiosity at the most basic of interactions.  People deal with this by retreating to places where they can be understood. The best way to avoid conflict is simply to remove oneself from the circumstances that cause it.  The bonds of neighborhood and community break down until society becomes a dog-eat-dog world where every man must fend for himself.  Once cooperation is no longer present the simple foundations of a society, to live in it becomes more trouble than it is worth.

Only through great effort can somebody see the perspective of another.  Even then, it is often only a superficial understanding and prone to error.  It is an unnatural way to think about the world.  Most people are incapable of “putting themselves in someone else’s shoes” at a basic level. Modern societies operate on a level that are ignorant of basic human nature.  Mankind has got to know its limitations.  Only then can it overcome them.

No man’s land

The current turmoil in Ukraine seems to be a popular topic for discussion. Almost everyone has an opinion on it.  The spectacle of a country on the brink of descending into complete chaos is simply too much for people to avoid.  It doesn’t matter if it is Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, Libya, or some other far flung corner of the world.

As long as it isn’t in their backyard, most people will not try to gleam meaning from it.  It is nothing more than something they’ll hear on the news once a day for five minutes and then regurgitate it for small talk later.  The depth of their interest stops at tired platitudes about freedom, democracy, and the pointlessness of violence.

The central issue here is buried under a constant need to re-brand it.  These conflicts all share a common thread. They are simply fighting over who has the right to control a land.  It is a theme that has been repeated ever since history began.  It is the most basic question any nation can ask itself.  There are those who might try to shift the discussion away by discussing its implictions and effects.  They will do anything and everything to try to frame it as something more than a basic struggle for power.  They are simply trying to subvert others from getting any real meaning out of it.

Crimea is only the latest development in this.  Both Ukraine and Russia claim it as their own, and both have legitimate historical claims to the land.  Crimea has been peopled mostly by Russians throughout the majority of modern history.  It has also been politically part of Ukraine for the last 60-odd years, and Ukrainians have always been a sizable minority.

What is happening in Crimea today is something that happens to every borderland at some point in their history.  There are two valid claims by two distinct nations. There is only one land.  When tensions rise, land becomes a precious thing.  It can only belong to one people.  For this reason, no two people can ever inhabit the same land without eventually coming into conflict.  Sooner or later, it becomes a zero sum game. Either they win or you do, there can be no compromise.

What is most troubling about modern attitudes towards this sort of conflict is the selective memory everyone seems to have about it.  A casual stroll along the halls of history turns up example after example of these zero sum games.  Why does Tibet represent a great injustice done by China but the name Konigsberg evokes nothing?  Why does Israel belong to the Jews after thousands of years but Asia Minor belongs to the Turks after pushing out the Greeks only a few hundred years ago? Why are Kosovo and South Sudan propped up as independent nations where as Taiwan is left in national limbo?

The answer lies in knowing the power of a narrative.  It can determine the destiny of entire nations and billions of people in the present and future. Those that control  history of a land also control its future.  Look at who controls the narrative, and you will find who is in power.  Look at how the narrative is being told, and it becomes all to easy to see why it is being told that way.

When you look at these conflicts with this in mind, the question of who rightfully owns the land becomes trivial.  It belongs to the strong.  The land has no inherent owners.  Nature could care less about what flag is raised over any square inch of the earth.  Boundaries between countries are only lines on maps until we make them something more.  They can be shaped by anyone who has the will to do so and the power to back it up. As soon as a people lose reason to fight for a land, it is only a matter of time until it is no longer theirs.

Narratives and platitudes about justice and rightful ownership only exist as a tool for this purpose.  Most will blindly accept the official story pushed by those in power without any question.  It’s only further proof of powerlessness modernity produces.

The case for nations

If you asked an average person what a nation is, you’d most likely get a definition that is synonymous with a country. A part of the world that is ruled over by a particular government.  In most modern usages of the word, they’d be right.  People use nation interchangeably with state or country all the time.  However, the real meaning of what a nation means is much more profound.

A nation is more than geography and politics.  It is a people.  A people that can be defined through shared origins, customs, history, language, and culture.  We often associate nations with their country because the land itself is an integral part to each of these things.

Nations are an ancient concept. They’ve been with us since the very first tribes banded together. Nations have been seen as an essential part of human identity ever since.  Nations work so well because they allow entire populations to form around a common set of ideas and goals.  This allows for a level of cooperation and understanding that would otherwise be impossible.

With the recent rise of globalism, a new paradigm has been put forth as an alternative to nations.   Globalism is the refutation that there is anything inherently different between human cultures.  It is based around the concept that with modern technical advancements, nations are an obsolete way of thinking about peoples.

If you can travel around the world in hours and speak to anybody across any distance instantly over the phone, why bother trying to find commonality with people around you?  If you can make my product cheaper in a sweatshop half way around the world and just ship it here, why bother having a factory here?  If your country is a third world hellhole, why bother trying to make it better when you can move to a rich country by simply getting on a plane?

This sort of thinking has made the elites of the world very rich in the last half century.  It has also brought millions of foreigners and alien cultures into lands where they would not otherwise belong.  It is extremely clear who benefits from the transition from nations to this new globalist paradigm. It is a bit more murky who loses out.

The transition away from nations has affected almost everyone but in a more intangible and less distinct way.  We are losing essentially everything we’ve inherited from our ancestors.  As Hollywood films expand to more  countries, we lose more languages.  As McDonald’s expands their restaurant count, we lose more local cuisine. As the NAFTA and EU expand, more countries lose their national sovereignty.

As globalism continues to rise, we’ll all lose.  For a few more dollars, we’ll lose the very things that make life worth living.  We’ll lose our identities.

What binds you to your country?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I continue to live in the United States.  The effort and cost of moving to another country would surely be substantial, but it is relatively minor compared to the decision of where you want to spend the rest of your life.  Many of the American bourgeois (as well as most Europeans) list “traveling” as one of their favorite hobbies yet very few ever leave their own country for more than a few weeks every year.

The main source of immigration in the modern era is decidedly from poorer third-world countries to White first-world countries.  It is primarily for economic reasons.  Whether the Muslims in Europe or Latinos in America, most immigrants express outright hatred of their host country’s culture.  They often continue to practice their culture as though they had never left their home country and sometimes, they outright subvert the culture that they are invading.

Unfortunately, culture of America has very little influence over me wanting to remain in the United States.  In fact, there is none.  America was once an outpost of Europe.  What was once a dynamic mix of British and Teutonic culture has been eroded over the past century to complete cultural nihilism.

Despite all of this, I still feel a deep kinship with the land itself.  While the industrial revolution destroyed much of the land in the populated areas of Europe and elsewhere, much of America has been untouched due to the sheer amount of area it covers.  In many aspects, it is still very much a virgin land.  I feel privileged to have grow up in an area where you could leave your backyard and walk for miles in forests untouched by modern development.  I still take every opportunity I can afford to experience these lands.