coromandal


rioters and partiers
August 23, 2011, 6:24 pm
Filed under: brave new world, the sweet life, unseen world | Tags: , , , , , ,

In America you have the tea party, in England you’ve got this.

– UK rioter.

They see the hierarchy and riot; we are told there is no hierarchy and believe it.

A friend on facebook asked:  why do the Brits riot while in America we have the tea party?  They have rioters and we have partiers.

He is of course assuming that economic events – budget cuts and economic stagnation – are the common cause which give rise to both the rioters and partiers.  I waited and watched the thread for two days during which time he received, as could be expected, representative opinions from the cultural extremes:  the rioters are thugs and n’er-do-wells, or they are disenfranchised and have lost hope.  Partiers are crackpots working against their own best interests; they are the true fiscal stewards.

But these pat answers don’t address the question – a good one – to name the constituent difference, between England and America, that would lead to profoundly different reactions to arguably the same social impetus:  drawbacks based on a failing economy.  There has to be profound differences between societies that react so differently.

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philosophy of success

Alain de Botton writes and speaks with a perfect blend of erudition and accessibility.  He’s on the vanguard of a new movement to popularize philosophy.  But we hate ideas, we’re a ‘just do it’ culture, how can there be a movement with any traction to popularize philosophy?

Consider that in this society and the world, we are going through a great deal of tumult and change: a lot of unemployment, corruption, and general upheaval.  And consider too that perhaps we need to question some of the ideas that have formed the basis of everything that went wrong and got us into this mess.  In theory, new ideas gain traction when enough people start to think that the ‘just do it’ culture should pit stop and begin to listen to people who broker in ideas, like philosophers, like de Botton.

A philosopher, and someone who knows philosophy, can tell you why a perpetually positive society has lots of envy and depression.  And why a meritocratic society can become very cruel.  And he can tell you that one very real way out of our hyper competitive work and social culture is an understanding of Greek tragedy which sets at its theatrical center, failure.  He can tell you how our analytic ways of thinking preclude the truth that our relative successes and failures in life are often very haphazard.

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