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From Bad Faith Politics To Good Faith Politics
or, how to get out of Hell
Once it deeply sank into my consciousness that politics means nothing much other than simply "decision-making in groups" -- an idea put forth by whoever the guy is who runs the wonderful YouTube channel What is Politics? -- it was clear I had ahold of a very simple and basic concept which would enable me to think clearly and freshly about ... well, politics. And once I had done that for a while -- thought clearly and freshly about this thing -- I was thrust eternally into an insufferable morass so hellish that I grew gaunt, my skin turned grey and all of my hair fell out. (Okay, okay, I lied about my appearance, but it felt an awful lot like that.)
It was a liberating fresh air I was breathing at first. When I really, fully understood what politics amounts to (and what it is not), I understood that while politics does in fact occur within the state-centric system almost everyone (and at least half of all dictionaries) imagines to be "the domain of politics," politics also occurs between (within?) couples, in small groups of friends, and anywhere and any time where group decisions are made--, even if the decision is about which toppings to put on a pizza, or whether to go for Chinese food instead.
One of the points of talking about politics in this way is that it makes clear that the only people who might escape routine participation in politics are hermits who live deep in an otherwise uninhabited wilderness (by humans, that is) in a cave. It drives home the point that it is ludicrous to go around saying "I'm just not interested in politics" or "I avoid politics like the plague."
But acknowledgement of the near impossibility of avoiding politics altogether soon leads one down into one of the deeper strata of the aforementioned insufferable hellish morass.
Dante counted nine "circles," or strata, of Hell. The ones nearer the surface of Earth were more tolerable, though still intolerable. But the deepest strata of Hell were obviously beyond imagining.
While we like to imagine our surface world as pleasant enough, the sad fact remains that Hell has been evacuating its sulfurous bowels into our surface world for at least several millennia -- seeping its gases and liquids up into our once quasi-Edenic world initially through volcanic activity, but more recently via the innovations of Hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), deepwater oil rigs and for profit, megacorporate social media. Oh, and let us not forget Jeff Bezos and his Amazon corporation.
Unfortunately, as you may have heard, researchers have recently reached a consensus, and it is now regarded as basically factual that enough Hell has leaked onto (and into) the Surface World over the last century that Dante's map of Hell must be updated from nine to ten layers or strata, with our Surface World being one of these. The most current atmospheric Hell research reveals that our current atmospheric Hell concentrations are at about 8%, which means most people tend either to be either wildly ignorant (and half asleep) or hurting like a sonofagun at least 60% of their waking hours, with many being basically miserable 98% of their waking lives. Even our oceans have absorbed so much Hell that whales are beaching themselves and dolphins have stopped singing their happy songs. It's not looking good at all! I've even seen mermaids, and other merfolk, as far inland as Santa Fe -- at 7,000 feet of elevation above sea level!
But there is other news. Scientists have recently identified the fundamental cause of Hell on Earth, which, it turns out, is one and the same as the cause of Hell at the lower, subterranean strata and even at the deepest of the bowels of Hell. Decades of careful research have revealed that, "Hell is nothing other than bad faith politics," according to hellologist, Dr. Ermond S. Nosedeiver, a lead researcher in the world's largest hellology research unit called Hellog-1, which is not a division of Kellogg corporation.
I asked Dr. Nosedeiver to explain what he means by the phrase "bad faith politics". He said, "Bad faith politics is basically a rancid and fetid shitshow in which there is a near complete lack of honesty, integrity, sincerity and vulnerability among participants in the political process".
"So, basically, hardly anyone means what they say?"
"That's right, and when they open their mouths to speak they are not speaking as themselves, but instead posing themselves as a pathetic and rancid mouthpiece for an aggressive and egoistic agenda, usually one which is being advanced by one of the sewage-swilling giant corporate behemoths, or some sociopathic, narcissistic, or otherwise empathically impaired billionaire such as Jeff Bezos."
"Yeah, but are they aware that they are doing this, or is it all just some kind of sleepwalking habit they have?"
"Well, your question is quite astute, James. It's an insightful question. Our research actually reveals that with 8% [That's a figure based on emissions rates ... levels of disingenuous politics multiplied by squiggly math that I couldn't really understand, due to my generalized dyscalculia syndrome] Hell concentrations in Earth's atmospheric levels, and with the oceans full to their Hell-sequestering capacity, few people actively engaged in mass politics are even conscious enough to realize that they're spewing the raw, vaporous sewage of the Devil Himself."
"You mean forgive them; for they do not know what they're doing?"
"Basically, yes. Technically speaking, utilizing the best traditions of scientific method, our research shows these people are simply not awake enough to know that there is any other way of being than one which requires swilling several liters of Hell-bilge daily."
"So let me see if I'm understanding here. If Hell is nothing more than doing politics in a disingenuous, deceptive, fraudulent, self-centered, greedy and bad faith way, then is good faith politics simply a matter of doing politics in an honest, sincere and generous, kind sort of way?"
"In a nut shell, yeah. That's what our research has revealed precisely."
"Does your research reveal any plausible path out of Hell?"
"It does. But few people want to take that journey. To liberate the Surface World of Hell would require people to actually love and care for one another, and to love and care for all of the inhabitants of the Surface world, with none of the inhabitants excluded from this love."
"Jesus! How could we do that?"
"Well, first of all we'd have to stop drilling holes down into Hell so it has no easy passage to the surface. But then we'd have to sequester any Hell that has already come to the surface. That's a lot of hard work! Fortunately, nature is designed in such a way as to sequester Hell naturally, so that's a plus. But let's get honest. There's a lot of Hell here in the atmospheric layer. If we seal up the leaks from below, stop all of the drilling, and are ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work in large numbers, yes, we could help nature sequester whatever Hell concentrations above pre-industrial levels which have concentrated in the atmosphere."
"That's good to hear! What is the key thing needed to do this, according to your research."
"You're not going to like this, but we'd have to begin loving our neighbors."
"Because, quite literally, our neighbors are those we live in the closest proximity to."
"Why is proximity so important?"
"Strangely enough, love only comes fully into its own in face-to-face contact with people over time. Empathy and compassion are the key, and research has shown that it's much more challenging to be sincere, honest, authentic and vulnerable with people who are thousands of miles away, whom you might only meet briefly while flying over fly-over country."
"Are you suggesting that we create a new kind of politics, in which we make decisions with our actual neighbors--folks who live in walking or bicycling distance from us?"
"Yes, all of our research shows that's the only plausible pathway out of Hell. We can have politics at larger scales, of course, but if we don't love our neighbors we're pretty much without any hope of escaping the torments of the vapid nightmare of excruciating and nauseating Hell. It's the neighborhood scale where the rubber meets the road."
After my interview with Dr. Nosedeiver, I took a stroll through one of my local parks. There were some teenage boys in a circle on the lawn, talking about whatever it is teenage boys talk about. I asked if I could sit with them for a spell, and they said "sure". So I sat on the soggy lawn for a while and we chatted about this and that. It felt odd to be the only old guy present.
I told them about how when I was young, there were circles of folks just like them in my favorite park, but the groups of folks were of diverse ages, sexes, orientations, etc. "We were like a bunch of hippies or something, I suppose.... I wonder what happened to us?" I said aloud.
"Oh," one boy said, "that was before all of the fracking, wasn't it?"