Thursday, 10 November 2016

Vigils and vanities


Political conflict has always been painfully divisive and the reactions of UK Remainers and US Clinton supporters to their tragic loss is an old game. Blame the referee, the other team for cheating, opposition flukes, anything but admit the simple fact of defeat.

Holding vigils in protest against Donald Trump’s victory is a typically self-righteous example, yet one is bound to wonder at the readiness with which people absorb political narratives into their personalities. If we are unwise enough to support a political party or political narrative then that is what we do, we sign over a chunk of our personality, our character. It is not an add-on, it is a replacement.

Which is why political supporters defend political parties, political actors and political narratives with such implacable determination. However ludicrous the narrative, however empty the promises, however flaky the actors, the degree of personal investment is difficult to understand unless we realise how personal it all is. As personal as a pound of flesh.

People do not invest part of their personality in a political stance; they give up part of their personality and replace it with political behaviour. Instead of mulling over political questions they acquire the tools for standard political answers which are almost always improvised but improvised around a core which cannot be modified.

As for the politically victorious, as well as the joy of winning there is also a sense of relief at not having lost, of not having to justify losing, not having to find excuses, not having to be angry. For now.

This is the fascination of political conflict. It exposes the shallowness of human nature, its dependence on imitation and past history, its indifference to reason. It highlights the contrast between observed behaviour and the complex, dangerously colourful myths with which we drench our political vanities. 


Demetrius said...

I think that the cock-up theory of history should be the official version taught in schools. It explains the politics so much better.

wiggiatlarge said...

Vigils blame self deceit faux outrage etc have all been taken to a new level and used by individuals and corporations politicians, as here..
and here

there have always been some good actors in politics, Blair being a good case, but little was seen pre Diana, her death opened a new door for those who never felt that their 15 minutes of fame would ever arise, it was soon realised that television and now social media gives a whole new platform for people to show their personal angst is at least as intense as the next mans.
And news outlets love the chance to interview some tosspot that has a faux rage about something or other, the university students are not to left out having been quiete on the marching front for years identity politics has given them a new start in ridiculous causes alongside faux hurt, the two big political events this year have been showcases for all of this.

James Higham said...

Let them beat their heads against the wall if it fills in their unoccupied time.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - in all seriousness - yes it should.

Wiggia - spot on. Much of it even feels contrived too, as if the people concerned are really entertaining themselves although they could never admit it.

James - and may even increase their intelligence.