Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Progress and panderers

Progress is my favorite idea. Steven Pinker has (and many others have) documented how much better off we are than those who preceded us. I am happy to be alive now, rather than at any other time in history. Whoops! I have used the fraught word "happy".  John Gray tells us to get real. "Drug use is a tacit admission of a forbidden truth. For most people happiness is beyond reach. Fulfillment is found not in daily life but in escaping from it. Since happiness is unavailable, the mass of mankind seeks pleasure." (p. 141-2). And much of mankind (perhaps inevitably) ponders the road to happiness.

Many of us have our doubts about politics. The U.S founders got it right. Politics (government) is a necessary evil. So let's be careful and set boundaries. But almost 250 years later, the boundaries have been roughed up. Should Gray have included politics in pleasure-seeking? Many like to cheer for a team. Any team.

The politics we have is represented by a bunch oddballs (kind word) promising to give us things that they cannot give us.  Do any of them even consider the craziness of their own rhetoric?  We will never know. The old adage: there are two kinds of people, those that do not know and those that do not know that they do not know. Perhaps they have been playing the game for so long that they have lost track and half-believe their silly promises and rhetoric. They can always find cheerleaders. The NY Times (and other outlets) have lost most of their advertisers. The once paragons now pander to the pleasure-seekers.


Examples are all around.


Great conversation. Listen to this. Then read the book.