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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Extremism and Apathy: the two greatest dangers to democracy

The world will always be a struggle between the extremes. Those ideas, forces, and people will never agree and really shouldn't. They are opposite poles with a large distance between them. I agree wholeheartedly with Aristotle that the ideal point usually lies somewhere in the large between, varying from concept to concept, often with circumstance, and should very rarely actually be an extreme. For some things the Mean should be absolute. Like in choosing between  Child Abuse and Child Nurturing. But. most things are a blending of extremes in some proportion. Trying to chose what and how much of each works in reality is the balancing act of life. Any idea taken to its logical extreme tends to fall apart from the pressure, this is true of people and environments as well. Earth is in a Goldilocks Zone between heat and cold, and is not too large or too small. It's in the Gold Mean of habitability. It's all about balance.

In democracies, it is up to the majority that lies between the extremes to determine the Golden Mean. Polarization only works for those at the poles.

The best tools to allow extremists to gain control and impose their will on the majority are fear and apathy, and most have figured out that the former leads to the latter. We have been bombarded for years through media with information that we normally wouldn't care about because we can't have a personal affect on it. Bad things have always occurred daily around the planet, but we were only personally effected by immediate events that we could affect. For decades our technology has enabled us to watch as helpless spectators on the spot of every bad thing in the world. And of course the good stuff only happens to one or two fortune people. Especially those who gamble, or play the game (sports being the best way of course). We should worship these lucky or superior specimens. These good horses.

We've been convinced that we should be helping everywhere, and that because we couldn't do this, the world is falling apart. This unrealistic guilt, helplessness, and fear become anxiety that builds until you go numb, or seek something to numb you, and stop caring, or at least convince yourself that you have stopped. This is apathy and apathy is the extremist's best weapon. When the majority are busy staring at their toes, or other people's on TV, the extremes run the show. Real war often results between the extremes that are left because there is no one awake on the common ground. Not until the bombs start going off.

Apathy is the real drug poisoning the world. When you're numb you don't feel the flames, or the chains locking, until it's too late. Everything we're shown on the news is something that has already happened and we couldn't effect because we didn't know about it until it was too late. They want us to believe that it is too late for everything. Too late for resistance. Too late to change our economic and governmental systems. Too late to reform. They're written in stone and sacred. The cults of nationalism and patriotism aren't about love of home country, they are about unquestioning loyalty and the idea that the experiments we create are somehow sacred and untouchable, and of course, superior to every other one. Sounds like extremism to me.

 They want us to believe that only the exceptional individual, chosen by nature or god, can make a true difference. But we're all chosen of god, made in his image and given his free will.

And they really don't want us to remember that there's more of us than there are extremists. We're the majority. They recall the French Revolution. Our votes bury theirs when actually cast.

Ordinary people taking part and working together can change everything.

The internet is giving us the tool to get around the media, which tries its best but is editorially controlled by a small number of powerful corporations, many of whom make weaponry and most of whom are lead by extremist ideas. It is giving us the ability for the first time to reach out to other common people, actually see what's going on and try to help. Instead of being bystanders, we are actors in the movie with everyone a possible hero. A real hero, not an celebrity idol. The free internet is a tool of the majority and that is why its being clamped down on.

I've heard of democracy being called "the tyranny of the mob". I'd rather be part of a tyranny of the people then one of a small number of extremists. A mob is an unorganized, relatively small group of people bent on a single purpose or idea, generally introduced by the will of  a small number of individuals.  A democratic nation is a large number of  people with multiple purposes, organized and led, by mutual agreement, by the will of the majority. Come to think of it, not much of a tyranny at all, but certainly dangerous to those who would be tyrants.