I write these things in some vague attempt to chronicle the meanderings of my thinking. I seem to have a conviction that this is the moment in time and space when everything changes, and I cling to the necessity for written words to link all the inward fluctuations of my thinking, since I know my memory to be faulty, and my disposition to be very very far toward the self-indulgent. This kind of writing is, perhaps, a self-indulgence which has a slight potential to lead beyond self-indulgence, though I remain extremely unsure of that.
In trying to understand my (nihilated) brother-in-law, I've been reading up on sociopathy, and in particular a very useful book called The Sociopath Next Door. It does a very nice job of defining sociopathy as the absence of conscience, and conscience as a function of emotion rather than of moral reasoning or cognitive thought processes. Specifically, conscience is a function of love, and sociopaths have no capacity for it.
I recognize in myself a difficulty with self-love, and I believe that to be the root of my self-indulgence. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I think my sister's life offers a clue, as does my budding awareness of the primal significance of this election cycle.
We lefties are always troubled to understand how the undereducated can be so easily duped by the logowork (apologies Naomi Klein) of the Republican party. And we assume that it is simply a matter of undereducation, and craven manipulation; ignorance and greed; fear and insecurity, and on and on. Until we come across reasoned and reasonable studies, including this one, which explain that enlightenment-descended liberal notions of morality and moral behavior leave out 3/5ths of the modalities concerned. That moral behavior is never a matter of cognitive calculation, and always a matter of emotional first response, which can only be grounded in upbringing, and conditioned as much by recognition and respect for authority, group membership, and sanctity.
I have been as troubled by anything as I have by the question of why sexual behavior matters to morality. Divorced from reproduction, and the implications for upbringing, it would seem that sexual behavior is irrelevant. But in a broader sense of morality, deviant sexual behavior cheapens the ways in which we relate to one another and learn to trust one another. The dangers of disease and pregnancy are not the main case; these simply highlight what was already evidently true.
We have now learned, if we didn't know it already, the extent to which our financial markets depend on trust for their functioning. In the absence of trust, there seemed absolutely no other choice than for the government, in the largest way ever in the history of mankind, to step in, standing for the public at large, to re-establish basic trust, enough for the system to function again. The talking heads call it a confidence game, without so much as a blush in reference to the con-men who have talked us into this catastrophe.
In trying to understand my bother-in-law's behavior, I have come across interesting essays, apparently from both sides of the political divide, trying to understand the difference between the state's interest in gay sex and incest. The biology of the matter, again, seems to the side of the main question.
Again, I think it's a matter of trust. My brother-in-law has been described by his victims (even those who don't yet know they are victims) as the world's greatest manipulator. He's a con-man, plain and simple, and sociopathic in the absence of concern expressed or demonstrated for the mayhem he leaves in his wake. Obscenely, he abuses God to urge upon my sister the notion that marriage is forever, for better or for worse. I doubt if even Sarah Palin would require that the rape victim stay married to the rapist in addition to carrying his child (but who knows, perhaps she would, even while championing the proper choice exercised by the person from who she would like to remove all choice!!!).
So, there is at least a distinction between casual sex, of interest and excitement to both (or all!) parties involved, and sex between a father and his daughter, which breaks all bonds of trust and faithfulness: Given that you can still tinker around the edges with concerns about the self-esteem of participants in the casual exercise of something so potentially consequential, at least emotionally if not socially and for life, there is no tinkering around the edges of power-based abuses.
And one might Hope that there is room now in the authority imprint for a woman. And in the ingroup tent for a black. One might hope that a positive impact of globalization has been that our morality has expanded to fit the shrinking global village, and that we recognize that atavistic behaviors, however functional in the long genetic and developmental run-up until now, can only secure our annihilation.
So, the lie which has been exposed by my brother-in-law's behavior, and by the meltdown of the world's financial markets, is that the agenda of anyone at all has been what they themselves have professed it to be. The loss in trust has been final.
We can at least delineate the progression. When the radical individualism which is a hallmark of liberal moralizing (choice!) moves to the grotesque extreme of SUVs with video screens, and when conservative moralists seem to defend that as the proper reward for deserving winners in the competition of life. When Fox news transparently panders sexiness in its smilingly extreme(and seemingly intelligent) reporters, and McCain follows the same in his choice for VEEP. When this in turn has built upon the perfected methods of the global capitalists to mold and manipulate our every market choice by those same methods of flesh-trading (and when the literal face of a position is mistaken for the very studied prompting which makes up the actual message).
The loss of trust is final.
The positions themselves, and the supposed philosophies behind them, have become almost entirely irrelevant, just as the candidates for president have become almost entirely irrelevant behind the very real requirement for the actual government to act. I think even the President himself, who should be too ashamed to show his face, has receded behind who we now fully understand to be the actual actors; the actual "deciders."
The main issue now is trust. The main issue is transparency - whether we can see through the presentations to the guts and machinery behind them. The main issue is what is in the heart, and who cares.
If only a game is being played, then there need be no concern at all. If cars are only for fun, and the cost to drive them factors in fully the cost to society at large for doing so, then who cares? But as it turns out, we live in an economy where you very simply cannot function without these cars, and where their cost is only recently now far exceeded by the cost to run them. Suddenly, the frills are unseemly, as we digest the awareness that each of them presses costs on the whole which we rather frankly don't trust to be represented by the cost of the gasoline, no matter how high it might soar.
We know that there can be no cost high enough to cover the mayhem in Iraq. We know that there can be no cost high enough to cover the meltdown of the icecaps, or the disappearance of the Polar Bear. And we know that there is no limit to the desire of those in control to have more control, at least as demonstrated by the insatiable drive for wealth, once experienced.
This is all serious business, and there are surely lives at stake, if not the fate of the earth itself.