Been thinking about the roots of our politics lately.
Basically, I have decided that the root cause of conservatism is neophobia. This is often but not always due to age. As we get older, our minds lose elasticity just like our bodies do, and we find it harder and harder to adapt to change, and thus more and more likely to view it as a threat, if not fundamentally evil.
As the world continues on as it always has, we fall further and further behind, and that gives us the feeling that the world must be careening out of control and headed for disaster. The only way to avert said disaster is to halt all changes and revert to a previous age, when we we young and vigorous and able to keep up with things.
This previous era now seems like an oasis of clarity, stability, and predictability, and rapidly becomes heavily idealized. All flaws are rigorously scrubbed out in service of maintaining this new mental haven. If they are not forgotten outright, they are recast as being not that bad, considering how frightening and strange the world has become to you.
After all, at least back then, you knew where you stood. Then some crazy people came along and changed things, and now you are no longer certain of anything.
You weren’t certain then either, of course. Just like childhood always seems a lot better to those not currently suffering from it, whatever your preferred era is, odds are you are not remembering how you actually felt at the time. Sure, you were young, but you were also scared, and compared to now, stupid.
What we really want, deep down, is the ability to go back then with what we know now. That is, of course, impossible.
So instead, we grow increasingly hostile to all change. That is where you get the people who are always against whatever is currently being debated. If it’s change, they are against it, period, no debate, no consideration. Conservatives are, in a sense, tragic figures who are forever doomed to fight a pointless battle against an enemy they can never defeat : change.
Too bad they can do some real damage as they kick and scream and drag their heels while the rest of us carry them into the future whether they like it or not.
Now I am forty one years old, so I am not talking about this from an outsider’s point of view. I am beginning to feel that mental calcification in my own mind, and the resultant feeling like the world is descending into chaos when it is, in fact, doing just fine and it’s my own mind that is now quite keeping up.
Sometimes the idea of having to adapt to the new seems just so damned exhausting that I am tempted to join those who are looking for a time-out to catch their breath and catch up. Right now, I am not falling behind too fast, and I can more or less keep up on this and that through the Internet, so the temptation is not that strong.
But despite my efforts at staying mentally active and hence fighting off my oncoming decrepitude, I will no doubt continue to decline, and I know that some day I will have to tap out and let the world go on without me.
Having seen that coming since I was in my late teens, it will not catch me entirely by surprise. I will hate it and I will fight it, but I know I will lose the fight sooner or later, and all I will have left is my iron determination to not let my growing senile neophobia become my world-view.
No matter what I feel about change going out of control, I will know that it is me, not the world, that has the problem.
Eventually, a lot of what is going on will simply make no sense to me. The world will seem like chaos to me, like it’s all one whirling, spinning, neon carousel going way too fast, and I will have to retreat into what I know and understand, and let the world whirl on without me.
The difference is that I know this is coming and know that there might well be a point where I am simply no longer qualified to have an opinion on world events because I no longer have any idea what the hell is going on anyhow.
And I will always be the implacable enemy of conservatism. If my positions are hardening, that’s the shape they are hardening into. I feel like I have never understood just how impossibly wrong that entire mindset is, and how the world should not be done injury simply to make it more comprehensible to codgers and dolts.
Even when the world is a confusing whirl of colors and smoke to me, I will oppose the small-minded thuggish cruelty of all who oppose change in and of itself. I will always fight the forces of ignorance, barbarity, emotionalism, thoughtlessness, and sociopathic self-interest. I will always defend real capitalism against the forces of the imaginary capitalism created by the desire for a world of perpetual indulgence without cost or compromise.
And I will always be willing to take a good hard look at myself and ask myself “Do I really understand this well enough to have an opinion about it?”
Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes the best I can do is point out that other people don’t really know all the facts either. It is the right of all free people to have and express uninformed opinions. But I am free to point that out.
You know, they say one of the signs of old age is going on and on with rambling stories and thoughts that don’t go anywhere and never reach a conclusion.
If that’s true, I have been quite old for a very long time.
and I will talk to you nice people again tomorrow.