Mar 062015
 
symington

Alex Symington

by Alex Symington….

Don’t we each, individually, consider ourselves to be our own person, free in mind and body; autonomous, sentient beings possessing free will and masters of our own destiny? Sure we do and it is mostly the case, but not entirely. In reality we are what Leon Russell dubbed, “a hippie commune bona fide” in the sense we are social animals and our great successes as a species have come about by communal cooperation. Early hunter/gatherer families did ok as far as it went, but when teamed up with a few other families they were physically safer and more efficient in their hunting and gathering tasks. You can see where I’m going with this; more families, more safety and more food as agricultural technology was introduced and so forth bringing us to the pinnacle of civilization, the drive through burger joint. I jest, but my point is that more can be accomplished with the cooperative effort of the many than with the lone individual, no matter how intelligent or creative they are.

Of course single individuals throughout history have excelled and contributed scientific, artistic or other unique gifts to humanity, yet even these brilliant people did not create these gifts in a vacuum. They had teachers and social structure and an environment that made their respective contributions to society possible.

Fast-forward to the present. Man, it’s gotten complicated! We now live in a war based economy where hyper-capitalism has co-opted our government and the checks and balances that used to hold the wolves at bay have been legislated away. The rich and mighty few have engineered this coup to get richer and mightier still as the majority of us squabble over table scraps. The destruction of human lives and the planet’s eco-system by these greedy sociopaths continues unabated on a global scale as their choke-hold on political systems strengthens, yet, we the people are told we just need to tighten our belts another notch and shut up and all will be well, implying the people are the problem.

In a way we are. In order for Global Corporate Finance to pull off this robbery of the millennium it takes some compliance on the people’s part. We have to be willing participants in our own domination. Movements to end Global Corporate Finance’s death grip, such as Occupy Wall Street, are quickly neutered and rendered harmless with the assistance of corporate sponsored media, the watering down of our first and fourth amendments and militarization of civilian police. Another more devious and sophisticated method of weakening efforts for positive social change is the marketing of individual “personal freedom(s)”, AKA infantile narcissism vs common welfare.

One of the most effective means to take power from the people is to convince them they don’t need to cooperate with each other. In fact, make cooperation a sign of weakness and promote the illusion of “rugged individualism”. Remember when the Romney people latched on to a snippet of an Obama campaign speech? “If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

The right took the last two lines and ran with it, ignoring context, of course. I’m not a huge fan of O, but his point is that no one is truly autonomous and anyone that got anywhere did so with assistance of some kind. Congressman Paul Ryan, one time Republican running mate of Mitt Romney and the darling of the right wing anti-tax bunch, requested and received government stimulus money after ridiculing the program calling it a “wasteful spending spree” and a “monstrosity”. Ryan’s own goddess of mean spirited got-mine-ism, Ayn Rand, collected Social Security and Medicare. Nobody does hypocrisy quite as well as the right, yet this does not stop the right’s delusional promotion of the impossible state of total individual autonomy.

For a society to efficiently function for the benefit of the majority it must have laws and limits that just might infringe on the individual. I’m sorry that you must stop your car at a stop sign even though it infringes on your right to drive however you please. Excuse me, that is a bit obvious, but no less relevant than a law that prevents a factory from poisoning a river or health and safety regulations in food production or laws preventing racial discrimination.

This concept of personal freedom replacing the common good is a recipe for disaster for most of us, but a boon to the big players at the top. While we’re all down here on the bottom strutting our terminal uniqueness and breaking bad accomplishing nothing, the fat cats on top are taking us to the cleaners. Think on that the next time you’re driving the car you built on the road you built to the store you built to buy the food you grew.

Alex Symington

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6dFeBZ7Nlg

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2012/08/_you_didn_t_build_that_it_doesn_t_matter_what_obama_meant_to_say_but_what_people_heard_.html

http://rt.com/usa/ryan-stimulus-money-energy-976/

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/08/ryan-denies-taking-stimulus-then-admits-he-did.html

http://www.alternet.org/story/149721/ayn_rand_railed_against_government_benefits,_but_grabbed_social_security_and_medicare_when_she_needed_them

http://www.democracynow.org/2015/3/2/noam_chomsky_on_how_the_iraq

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 March 6, 2015  Posted by at 1:50 am Alex Symington, Issue #104  Add comments

  25 Responses to “Infantile Narcissism”

  1. Alex,

    Another thought provoking article, which reflects your beauty and brilliance.

    My personal freedom and individual spirit are not to be trifled with. They are the very attributes that have allowed me to break away from the nonsense and baloney that has been pitched my way, ever since I can remember.

    Blessings & Respect…

    • John,
      My thrust was that we can relish our individual identities and celebrate our place in the universe, yet for a society to function as a whole, many times we have to check ourselves and do what is right for the team. Being a warrior, you know this to be true and it holds for any successful social structure. As always, your input and thoughts mean very much to me. Peace

  2. ” . . .strutting our terminal uniqueness and breaking bad accomplishing nothing,”

    Fine phrasing, Alex. People want to believe they are masters of the universe, and vote against their reality-bases interests, or don’t vote at all. My internet troll, keysbum, is a prime example.

    I used a Prisoners’ Dilemma exercise with my Berkeley business students to have them learn-by-doing the advantages of cooperation over competition. Took weeks of iterations to have it sink in. For my Russian business students (when I was a Fulbright professor in Moscow in 1991) the exercise failed. They could not conceive of taking the cooperative option.

    • Rick, Don’t you think it is ironic that the Russians could not get down with the cooperative idea. I guess Communism gave cooperation a bad name … and the plutocrats who run capitalism are taking advantage of it.

  3. Well said Alex.

    I remember interviewing Libertarians during the 2012 election cycle. They were all about cutting away government departments until I asked about specific issues those departments covered affecting their business/lives directly and then it would change from cut to trim.

    People love to believe they stand alone. but take away what society provides and how many actually could?

  4. Alex, I’ve written many in this vein and you use many of the examples I have used. I’ll post some of my own essays on this subject with time, but you’ve done an admirable job, one I’d be hard pressed to improve upon. When it comes to subjugating the masses, I like to put it like this: as long as you can provide them with a hamburger and color TV, you’ve got’em. Like taking money from a baby. Good stuff Alex, ciao, PCM

  5. “For a society to efficiently function for the benefit of the majority it must have laws and limits that just might infringe on the individual.”

    That’s not true. Government is a group of individuals who pass laws that affect all of us. What makes them so high and mighty? Do elected officials come from a special cloth, or are they no more human than you and I.

    Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner.

    The Libertarian Party believes in individual self ownership, that no person, or a group of persons such as government, has the right to infringe on anyone else.

    -Mike Kane
    Chair, Libertarian Party of the Florida Keys

    • what you are describing is anarchy. If there are to be roads, there must be areas zoned for roads which means a community of individuals agreeing to accept rules. if murder is to be outlawed, etc

      elected officials come from the same cloth as the rest of us, that’s the point of a democratic republic. its a natural continuation of the private economy concept of division of labor. some people do our farming, some our carpentry, and some organize our roads, criminal justice, etc.

      the argument you are making runs counter to the entire path of western civilization from ancient Greece to the Enlightenment to American Revolution to the Industrial Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement to the Digital Age. We collaborate on information and production to build a society that attempts to provide equal opportunity and treatment.

      • A perfect example of that infantile narcissism and terminal uniqueness I touched on. I rest my case 🙂

        • Alex and JD, you both completely miss the crucial point – that individual freedom cannot be reconciled with the supremacy of one single purpose to which the whole society must be entirely and permanently subordinated. Once you admit that the individual is merely a means to serve the ends of the higher entity called society or the nation, the features of a totalitarian regime which horrify us follow of necessity.

          • Vic, what you’re describing is called Fascism. In a free society the state serves the needs of the people; enforcing the will of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority. the people are not tools of the state, the state is tool of the of the people.

          • Jd, your comment should read the state is the tool of some people use to get what they want (Google Rent Seeking).

            And, in a truly “free” society, individuals calling themselves “government” wouldn’t use force against other individuals.

            Example:
            So if you have an orange tree and I come over and pick oranges off your tree , that would be theft right?

            How is it then OK for me and my friends to vote for government to take those same oranges off your tree and give them to me for the “common good”? Sounds like institutionalized theft to me.

          • it wouldn’t be acceptable to vote for someone to take my stuff. It is reasonable for us all to contribute to the society that builds the things we need. eg money, roads, schools, defense, etc.

            do things get corrupted? yes. is reform needed? yes. but that does not invalidate the concept nor does it mean we should abandon the idea of cooperative effort that made a modern society possible.

      • Mr. Adler,

        I’d love to sit down with you in person and discuss these ideas.

        As for me saying advocating for ‘anarchy’, those are your words, not mine. One way to describe anarchy is “Rules, not Rulers” though.

        With a failed war on drugs resulting in innocent people being killed in no knock drug raids, with perpetual wars and killing of millions upon millions of people in just the last few hundred years (see Democide too), massive government spying programs violating basic privacy rights, people not being able to peacefully trade their goods and services with out a license (government permission), money taken through force (try not paying taxes and see what happens), and all of the million other things governments do on every level, let me ask you this question…. If government works so well, why do people feel the need to defend it?

        I’m not the type of person to say “go read a book” but if you’re open minded and want to give it a read, I suggest you look into Dr. Mary Ruwart’s book “Healing our World in an age of Aggression”.

        ps: The roads are built by private companies….the only thing is that governments typically pay for SOME of the new road construction, but it’s still not very much if you look at it by new road construction mileage. Most is funded by private developers. As for road maintenance, just look at the current condition of the public road system.

        • true I used the word anarchy. A society without government or rules, where every individual makes decisions based only on their own hierarchy of needs without concern for the consequences of the group… that’s anarchy. Historical examples range from the old west to Somalia.

          the fact that power corrupts is not in dispute. that’s why we attempted check and balances on this nation. unfortunately we failed to establish proper accountability procedures. but progress remains possible.

    • Michael, Please, if you cannot do better than that, you’d be doing your Libertarianism a favor by not confiding your thoughts to anyone. I once had someone like you talking such simple minded things at the public tennis courts I play on at Bayview Park. After he was done I said this: maybe you should go play tennis somewhere else so you wouldn’t have to use these “socialistic” tennis courts. I’m not sure he even understood what I was getting at, but it shut him up. In spite of it all, I appreciate your comments … if only to bolster mine.

      • Jerome and JD, I was intentionally avoiding the “L” word and sticking to it’s essence of rightist ideology. No matter the brand it all leads to the same oppressive, unimaginative place where the Corporate Pathocracy rules and the people drool.

        • P.S. At least Mike has the balls to use his real name.

        • Please do not confuse ‘rightist’ ideology with ‘libertarianism’. Two totally different things. This is the Libertarian Party Statement of Principles:

          We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

          We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

          Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

          We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life — accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action — accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property — accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

          Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

  6. Mike, What you describe are many things even us “socialists” would be against, in fact, most of the abuses you talk about are perpetrated by people much closer to your ideology than ours. But there is a difference between bad government and government itself. If you deny that, than why is it that the colossal abuses and robberies committed in the private sector do not show up on your radar screen? Is it only government that abuses power? I think not, in fact, it is private interests perverting government’s role that abuses the system, not the idea of government itself. Mike, Vic, your ideology is impossible in a world full of 7 billion people, in a country of 330 million people. It is more suited for colonial America than modern America.

  7. What about a giant meteor striking this planet and ending the human age, much as a giant meteor ended the dinosaur age?

    I know it’s important for each person to live as true as he/she can, and as fearless, and as kindly, and sometimes as toughly, or even lethally, but do any of you actually believe there is any way humanity will, or even can, turn itself around? I don’t see any way. I look at what humanity is doing to this planet, and what human beings do, and what their governments do, and at what political office holders promising this and that do after getting elected, and I see humanity maybe ought to be studying the monkeys and the apes, to get a sense of where humanity is headed.

    Absent something unusual happening. And I mean unusual. Perhaps a supernatural event. Perhaps an alien space ship fleet arrives. Or perhaps the giant meteor comes. Absent something like that, study the monkeys and the apes.

    As for free will, when you consider the massiveness of the subconscious mind compared to the molecule of the conscious mind; when you consider human beings are driven unawares by their subconscious mind, and by their social, religious, educational and government programming (propaganda); when you consider few human beings are willing to take any real, proactive risk, to buck and jump any of those systems, where is the free will? It’s about as elusive as we are all created equal members of one human family; about as elusive as it is more blessed to give than to receive; about as elusive as, first, do no harm, or first, take the beam out of your own eye.

    What I like to see is people actually putting themselves at personal risk in live ammo situations, bullets, or bullet equivalents. Martin Luther King put himself at risk. He bucked and jumped a giant system. He got killed for doing it. Same happened to Abraham Lincoln. They backed their words, their thoughts, with physical actions. They did not just discuss. They did something. They were killed. And, they are remembered today, even by people who do not like them.

    Like Gandhi, like Jesus, like Mandela, like Mother Teresa, King and Lincoln made their marks in history. And still the monkeys and the apes beckon.

    If you don’t believe that, just look at the TV news, any day; just look at what is really happening; just look at all who came before, who made their mark and are remembered, and still humanity is the most dangerous species on this planet, which is why it has not yet developed star drive. Humanity is too dangerous and narcissistic to be allowed to roam in space.

  8. mk 11:19 posting sure sounds like the principles underlying the constitution folks unless socialism has replaced it…on second look sure seems to be the case seeing what society is today!

    as for anarchy a society with the ability to maintain harmony without a governing structure….is a great ideal.

  9. Upon suffering the intrusion of pernicious libel and unjustifiable asperity from one of your own, who slithered beneath the nadir of civility and comportment to engage in the odious prosecution of race baiting, the deafening silence of your condemnation has now become the frame that defines each of your character.

    Not a single one of you “intellectually enlightened, progressive, spiritual, worldly” men of “conscience” could countenance supporting an adversary, and repudiating a colleague of sorts, despite the egregious use of vitriol and acrimonious pejorative labeling.

    Shame to all of you.

    This week I purposely did not comment on any of the regular contributors articles. As I write this, there are 41 total comments on said articles. Of those 41 comments, only 5 are from people not named Shaquille, Symington, Adler, Donnelly, or Grapel. Upon suffering the intrusion of pernicious libel and unjustifiable asperity from one of

    As I prognosticated several times now, if it weren’t for my participation, and driving the conversation, you guys would be devoid of commentary and reduced to commenting on each others articles to garner any involvement in your work. The self-congratulation and mutual back slapping for your self-proclaimed literary genius is hilarious.

    Or are my “facts” wrong?

  10. Upon suffering the intrusion of pernicious libel and unjustifiable asperity from one of your own, who slithered beneath the nadir of civility and comportment to engage in the odious prosecution of race baiting, the deafening silence of your condemnation has now become the frame that defines each of your character.

    Not a single one of you “intellectually enlightened, progressive, spiritual, worldly” men of “conscience” could countenance supporting an adversary, and repudiating a colleague of sorts, despite the egregious use of vitriol and acrimonious pejorative labeling.

    Shame to all of you.

    This week I purposely did not comment on any of the regular contributors articles. As I write this, there are 41 total comments on said articles. Of those 41 comments, only 5 are from people not named Shaquille, Symington, Adler, Donnelly, or Grapel.

    As I prognosticated several times now, if it weren’t for my participation, and driving the conversation, you guys would be devoid of commentary and reduced to commenting on each others articles to garner any involvement in your work. The self-congratulation and mutual back slapping for your self-proclaimed literary genius is hilarious.

    Or are my “facts” wrong?

  11. I’m with you on the hypocrisy rant, Alex. See http://www.ratblurt.com/2015/03/fifty-less-fifty-shades-of-gray.html.

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