07 July 2009

The Authoritarian Temptation(poem)

Originally wrote and posted this to my Facebook Notes last night, and will let the rather long intro and poem speak for themselves here, except to say that I hope you enjoy them and find them to be at least some food for thought.

Be seeing you.

Earlier this evening, I saw, via a link to a friend's FB profile that a friend of hers had posted there, a list of things to do on an anarchist site(what the site's precise orientation in that part of the spectrum I don't know), and, while going down the list, I saw some items there that I thought had at least some merit, but others, including this one, "Don't be afraid to disagree with kindness", that I thought could have been appropriately put on a list entitled, "30 Ways To Be A Complete Arsehole", and, particularly with some of the articles, posts and comments that have seen on-line, especially in recent years, from various parts of the Left, Centre and Right, well, my reaction was to sit down and write out a set of poems heavily lampooning various parts of the American political spectrum, including the Democratic Party, among several others, and even myself, and the authoritarian tendencies I have in my personality.

However, I decided, and yes, am admitting to being a complete chicken-shit here, but I decided not publish them here, because I do have friends who subscribe in one form or another to at least some tenets of the beliefs lampooned in those pieces.

Instead, I decided, while writing this piece, to publish this, the most serious and direct portion of all of the various pieces, because I think that this clearly and directly expresses a lot of the fears, doubts, and mis-givings, as well as my beliefs, about those, including myself at times, who would seek to impose their wills on everyone else around them, regardless of ideology, religion or other motivations.

There's an awful lot of political infantilism being pushed, both on and off the 'Net, right now, these being the hard, uncertain, and, at times, very frightening times, we find ourselves in, it becomes pretty easy to fall for at least one form of it if one's not careful.

It's very easy, if one feels justified enough, and especially if one over-estimates one's own righteousness, intellect and prowess, to advocate practically any course of action, no matter how stupid, criminal or murderous.

The Bolsheviks, Italian Fascists, Nazis, Red Guards, and Khmer Rouge, among many others, including liberal democracies like the US, Great Britain, France and others, believed, as many have before and since, that they were absolutely right, and absolutely justified in everything they said and did, no matter how ugly.

It's a very human failing, and Yours Truly's certainly no exception to this. Self-righteousness is one of the worst drugs I can think of, and practically no one's immune to it, in one form or another. Even libertarian conservatives and libertarian socialists and communists can fall victim to it, if they're aren't careful.

Before saying "I think everyone should...", I think that it might be best to see if one's thought the assumptions and implications of what one's advocating entirely through, because there are always devils in the details and unexpected consequences to one's notions, thoughts and actions.

Yes, one can over-think any given course of action, and end up either hesitating as to what to do until far too late, or not act at all.

But, acting too hastily, especially if one hasn't entirely thought out precisely what one hopes to accomplish, can also be disastrous.

There are no perfect solutions, but there are some that are better and far more equitable and humane than others, in my view.

Even then, there are going to be errors, great and small, made in bringing those about. The trick, so it seems to me, as to make as few as one possibly can, and not to make the same ones twice.

Anyway, have blathered on long enough.

The poem's below, and hope you enjoy it and that it gives at least some food for reflection, thought, and better-applied action.

Here Endeth The Lesson, and Be Seeing You.

Tyranny, no matter the intentions or ideas behind it,/

comes out to being much the same,/

whether by a tyrant ten thousand miles away,/

or ten thousand tyrants not a mile away./

It's the exaltation of power,/

for its own sake,/

wielded by people so caught up in themselves and their ideas/

that they examine their assumptions not./

The impulses towards bigotry, thievery, looting, rapine, /

despoilation, viciousness and genocide./

There are always, always, /

explanations, excuses, and more excuses,/

justification after justification,/

some meek and humbly given,/

others defiant,/

and all far too damned late./

After the thievery,/

the rape,/

and the murdering are over,/

often long since so./

Even the purest, even poets,/

can steal and murder/

with impunity, for a long time,/

and the greatest of glee./

All it takes is a touch of self-righteousness,/

the worst drug of all,/

and a lack of empathy./

All it takes is a will to supreme, absolute, unbridled power,/

and the willingness to use it on others as harshly as can be./

Whether from behind an expensive desk,/

or in the field,/

with a rifle, pistol,/

iron bar or shovel,/

it's easy, so easy, to call for murder of those one hates,/

or at least dis-likes./

It's easy, so easy, to imagine oneself as the heroic victor, the Hero or Heroine of the Revolution,/

the Supreme and Almighty,/

or at least a capable and empowered district officer./

It's quite another/

to imagine oneself/

as the despised,/

the oppressed,/

the robbed,/

the raped,/

murdered and buried like a dog in an un-marked grave./

It's quite another to actually have to live the experience,/

whether as murderer or victim./

Either way,/

it's a bastard, truly and completely so,/

all the way, all the way,/

all the way to Hell on Earth./

Seek not to dominate others, lest you be dominated in turn./

Avoid those who want power, however disguised, for its own sake./

Whatever their intentions and ideas,/

their motives and means,/

whether they truly believe their words,/

or coldly, cynically sell them /

like pills and soap/

pushed in adverts./

Notions are one thing, actions another,/

and those who, whether idealistic or cynical,/

push notions too far when applying them into action,/

are just as blood guilty all the same./

Politics, economics, war and such/

aren't games to be played,/

with people as the pieces to be shoved 'round/

at the players' whims./

They are business,/

the deadliest, most serious kind,/

in which lives, simple, ordinary, even stupid, human lives,/

matter far more than profits, position, or philosophical righteousness./

This isn't a game, nor a drama, in which one plays an assigned part,/

whether “heroic”, “villainous” or merely “supporting”./

This isn't a a yeshiva, seminary or academic debating society,/

where even the most outrageously criminal notions/

can be advanced, refuted, and then left while the contenders grab a bite./

This isn't a dryly academic text nor seminar./

This is reality, often confusing and messy,/

where power, resources, desires and murder oft combine./

It may be great history or fiction to read or see,/

but it's Bloody, literally bloody, Hell to live./

If one wants to see the end results of unthinking militancy and self-righteousness,/

just go and view a murder scene, morgue, or a battlefield after the slaughter's stopped./

There, one will see, wounds, death, stink, rot, and blue-bottle flies and maggots 'round the corpses of the dead, regardless of whichever side they fought.

This is what comes of feelings and prejudices left unexamined,/
notions and ideas unchallenged, especially by oneself,/
and words and actions too carelessly tossed out and inflicted on others./

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,/

Abraham Lincoln said./

He was far more right than he knew when he said that./

Even those who proclaim the loudest about liberty and freedom can be tyrants,/

if they don't check themselves and their appetites./

Even those who proclaim they are for equality for all/

can lord it over others,/

if they let themselves./

Even those who seek righteousness can be sinners,/

if they allow themselves./

Those who would make themselves more than human/

doom themselves to less, far less, than so./

We are human, all too human, as Nietzsche titled one of his books,/

with all the virtues and faults of the race./

We aren't chattels, dummies nor dolls to be used and abused at someone's convienence, then thrown away./

We aren't gods nor devils./

We are merely human, all too human, that is all./