Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, August 8, 2008

"Vote Against the Empire"

Counterpunch has a brilliant article of amazing clarity of vision and depth of understanding. It is "On Voting" by Manuel Garcia, Jr. Read it all, but I want to quote some points that I have been thinking about for some time.

The brain is a food-seeking antenna at the service of the stomach, the
controlling organ of the body. To understand this is to be free of the delusion
that we humans are rational beings who observe to gather data for analysis,
analyze to formulate plans and arrive at decisions, and then employ our physical
selves and our exosomatic mechanisms to enact these plans and decisions.
Instead, we decide emotionally and largely unconsciously, generally on the basis
of fear and prejudice, and we use our brains to fabricate post-facto
rationalizations for our biases and predetermined actions. Some may feel this
characterization of human motivation is unjustly insulting to human dignity, and
severely dismissive of human intellect. I concede that it will not be
universally applicable, but I think it sufficiently representative to help
explain many social trends and popular attitudes.


We voters make our electoral choices on the basis of biases that are rarely
as dispassionate and principled as we declare. Racism is one obvious factor
influencing electoral choices in the U.S. If we view bias as "thinking with your
stomach," or "gut feel," then we can ask: what is any voter's bias? A US
industry revolves around this question.

Each individual's dominant motivation will often combine the avoidance
of their fears, which can involve prejudices and superstitions few admit openly
today, and the grasping for objects (including money), status (self-esteem) and
relationships that are idealized as desirable. People dominated by the grasping
for wealth, and prone to xenophobia, will easily find that the Republican Party
speaks for them. People dominated by a desire for protection against both
impersonal natural forces and socially callous authoritarian, bureaucratic and
capitalist organizations are more likely to be drawn to the Democratic Party.
These are broad generalizations offered as suggestive, not exhaustive,

Some portion of a voter's preference will be based on the personal
attributes of a candidate: race, military veteran status, age, ethnicity,
assumed state of health, assumed sexual proclivities; and another portion of the
preference will be based on the assumed benefits to be had with the victory of
one or another party as regards: the personal pocketbook, the social impact,
potential policy changes in an area of personal interest, pork barrel. "What's
in it for me?" So, after people vote in hopes of lowering their taxes,
sheltering their capital gains, closing out undesirable populations from their
comfortable neighborhood enclaves, or from the entire country, gaining
advantages from foreign laborers cheaply, subsidizing their private liabilities
at public expense, initiating new wars they anticipate profiting from, and in
many other ways gaining exclusive preferences and subsidies, and giving free
rein to their prejudices, they may seek sympathetic characterizations of their
voting rationales because uttering the unvarnished truth would be too

The most deadly thing we can do in this world is to lie to ourselves. It is a sure way to ruin because it leaves us lost, without moral center or identity. We don't know who we are, what we want, or what we feel. We are the fabled blank slate, tabula rasa, ready to be written upon by anyone with something to sell--soda, chips, war, president, God. Even if we do nothing but acknowledge the truth, we will avoid most of the pain that comes from knowing we are not what we appear to be.

Read it all. He's absolutely right.


zeppo said...

I actually think it is pyschologically impossible for human beings NOT to lie to themselves. Self-delusion is about the only thing that keeps many people up and running. Why is it that some people can be so critical of others when they, themselves, are do the exact same thing or worse? Karl Rove probably thinks he is very decent human being...

Sorry, probably isn't going to happen. I have a very, very poor view of human beings as a species. Oh, I've met some very nice individuals. As a species, we still have the same lizard brains sitting right up at the top of the brain stem that pretty much provides much of the motivation for all of our actions...

It's a nice thought, however.

Susan of Texas said...

Yeah, it probably isn't oing to happen. But I believe it could happen. In galaxy far, far awway...

Susan of Texas said...

Heh, "going."