August 23, 2018

Leave the Politicians To Their Empire of Dirt: At Least Just For Today

Not everything is political, despite the insistence of people who feel that the personal is always political.  There’s the philosophical domain, the theological domain, the psychological domain.  Those should be kept the hell separate from politics.

Timely words on Jordan Peterson’s podcast today, especially here in the Amusement Arcade of Australia.

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The manic off-key organ music of the Prime Ministerial merry-go-round has cranked up again; spinning faster and faster, and the kids are starting to scream.  No wonder we’re all feeling slightly nauseous.

I challenge you today Australians: leave the politicians and their media feeders to their empire of dirt. Politics is to the mainstream media what oxygen is to humans.

The media has a vested interest in convincing the rest of us that it’s the vital component in our culture, around which all else hinges.

But as Peterson states above, it’s not.  So let’s expose that fallacy.

He’s pulled huge audiences these past months, including more than eight and a half thousand people recently turning up in Dublin to hear him speak.  And not just give a TED talk, but to speak for hours.  He says of this:

It’s so nice to see people concentrating on psychological and philosophical issues, and leaving the idiot politics as far behind as possible, because it’s certainly a distraction and a dangerous one at that. It’s so funny talking to mainstream media types, because everything they talk about has to be viewed through a political lens….

It’s especially interesting that so many turned up in Dublin.  The accepted narrative in Ireland is that after so many darkened years of the Church holding sway, the true saviour of Ireland would be a progressive politics that threw off the shackles of the old ways.

Yet in many ways Ireland is an example of a fast-tracked Western nation.  It’s moved so rapidly through the cycle that it appears their younger people are already disillusioned with the false political promises, if the huge level of interest in Peterson is anything to go by.

Everything has become politicised in our declining, fracturing late modern culture.  And there’s clearly no consensus.  Here in Australia we had seven prime ministerial changes in 11 years.

Politics is both broken, and is breaking stuff. Politics is throwing furniture around the room in its rage.

Do we think that something so broken is the solution?  Recall Tyler Durden’s words in Fight Club to the men who come to him for meaning:

“We’re a generation of men raised by women.  I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”

And this is not about women of course.   It’s about the foolish attempt to seek a solution in the very places where the problem was incubated.

I’ve said it before, but Peterson has gained a huge audience because he looked the political behemoth in the face and said “No.”  He’s gained huge audiences and captured the imagination of millions precisely because he decided that amidst the political clamour he would concentrate on philosophy, psychology and theology.

And for those would-be politicians among our theologians who view the current political upheavals as a chance to get noticed by saying something political – either Left or Right – that’s a warning shot right there.

Peterson’s biblical “sermons” on the Old Testament have had phenomenal reach, are deeper and more insightful than most sermons on the Old Testament by most pastors, and ask questions of the self, rather than railing against others all of the time.

And it’s why too, the intellectual dark web is growing exponentially, and finding a listenership that is well beyond the scope of many a national newspaper.

It’s one thing to believe that politics is not the only game in town.  It’s another one altogether to nail your colours to the mast; to rent an office, set out your own shingle and declare yourself in competition to that game.

Peterson, and others such as Brett Weinstein (no relation) and Sam Harris, have done exactly that to great success.

We get the politicians that we deserve and, in turn the politicians that reflect us.  That’s a deadly spiral right there.

Perhaps if, as Peterson says, we refuse to politicise everything; perhaps if we say “No!” by dedicating ourselves instead to psychological, philosophical and theological visions, we might, ironically, and over time, get the politicians that reflect a better us.

Perhaps if we concentrated instead on rebuilding the strong mediating institutions that a country needs in order to thrive and flourish; social groups, churches, families, volunteer organisations, politic would no longer be too big or too small in our eyes, but just the right size?

That’s going to take time and effort.  We’ve got the time.  Can we make the effort?

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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