Chapter 2. "Battles and bewilderment"
Chapter 2. "Battles and bewilderment" is the title of the second Chapter in the book Transcending Politics by David Wood.
"Politics has grown nasty – dangerously nasty. In recent times, political topics such as immigration, sovereignty, the EU, Jeremy Corbyn, Nigel Farage, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Vladimir Putin have become increasingly toxic. Personal relationships fractured, as long-time acquaintances found themselves unexpectedly on opposite sides of spiralling bad-tempered political disagreements. Former friends dismayed each other by championing views previously thought to be beyond the pale. “How can you believe such nonsense?” they gasped to each other, in mutual bewilderment. “Have you taken leave of your senses?”
Politics at the speed of light
Some might say that there's nothing new here. Politics has long had its unpleasant side. Ours is far from the first generation in which people have been deeply troubled by the political opinions of their erstwhile favourite uncles or nieces.
Falsehoods on the rise
Not only are falsehoods spreading more quickly nowadays, but they exist in greater number.
Beyond homo economicus
We humans cannot live by bread alone. Even when we have plenty of healthy food, pleasant shelter, and an abundance of material possessions, we frequently feel a strong yearning in our hearts for something more. We would be foolish to ignore that yearning.
In search of status
As I said, we humans cannot live by bread alone. We also need the support of social groups with whom we can identify. John Donne put the sentiment in verse back in 1623:
No man is an island, entire of itself; Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
A battle worth fighting
To fix politics, we have to work with these aspects of human motivation, rather than trying to block them or stunt them. We cannot simply tell people to value truthfulness higher than status within our social networks. That would be like trying to eliminate the spread of sexually transmitted diseases by persuading everyone to sign up for chastity. It's not going to happen.
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- For convenience of readers, this page lists all the endnotes from Transcending Politics, in easily clickable form.