Defeating political shallowness

Vivek UpadhyayI have recently delved into the banal world of sober politics. I promise you that this boringly informative introduction carries significance.

Being a newcomer to politics and seeking to finally get involved, I strived to concern myself with fundamental concepts and premises. Uninformed as to which resources are trustworthy and which are not, I chose to “google” my way to enlightenment. The poverty of straightforward answers met by my queries was disheartening.

What my queries did meet, however, was an onslaught of ready-made narratives about alleged opponents. Much flash, smoke and mirrors, grandiosity and unclothed ad hoc attacks were absorbed through my ocular organs. How piteous this picture was and is. I do not want to dive into the pitfall of making grandiose conclusions, but I had to invest much effort into this venture before attaining coherent, comprehensive results.

Having one’s senses assaulted with conspiracy theories and straw-man attacks is woefully awakening.

Of course, the internet is not the last word in the matter of qualitative ease-of-access.
I recall once reading Neil Postman’s scathing critique of such off-putting piffle and befriending his (ironically polemic) ideas.

I would have to agree, ominously and perhaps powerlessly, that we may be losing our grasp over the condition of being well-informed.

Of course, I use the word “our” loosely and with much generosity toward myself.
I do not want to succumb to sudden or grandiose conclusions.

I have further offhandedly inquired about political matters from people around me. There was no explicit limit placed on the age or political experience of each person casually surveyed.

Unfortunately, I spotted yet another (unintentional) renouncement of sobriety. The same insults, unwarranted in their prevalence, leaked from the lips of my interlocutors. Naturally, offhanded inquiries are suspect and a random question is likely to be answered less intensely than an organized event. But perhaps this doesn’t have to remain true.

Is there an easily accessible way to change this?

The answer may lie in a cursory though very helpful notification. Neil Postman famously clarified two alleged, relevant fears, one attributable to George Orwell, the other to Aldous Huxley. Orwell seems to have feared, inadvertently, our demise at the probable hands of malicious, active forces and intellectual deprivation. Huxley’s fear, recognized more by Postman and myself, involved people facing their end, including a cognitive compromise, at the hands of the tools they so adored. Rhetorically and more concisely put: why ban books when you can supply a steady, euphoric stream of base, forgettable, distracting entertainment?

I do not want to literally posit that we’re “amusing ourselves to death”. I do think, quite unoriginally, that entertainment’s seemingly victorious commandeering of political discourse indicates the presence of widespread cognitive deficits. Such deficits need not exist in a conscious, reasonable student (or other) base.

In the past, when I was less mindful about what filled my mind, I would have tolerated such glittering disrespect with ease. Perhaps even with noteworthy enthusiasm. Such a symptom might seem characteristic of your own political affiliates.

It should not be arguable that informing oneself is one’s own responsibility. But perhaps we can supplant torrents of entertainment with selective self-informing.

Again, choosing to reject grandiosity, I will not indulge in quick conclusions about our ultimate political fate or ideal. I cannot speak on behalf of CSU.  But as individuals, here we can choose to turn aside the dazzling for the slow. I cannot think of a reason not to. One contending point might be “some enlightenment through entertainment is better than none though nothing”.

I would posit that an unbroken chain of seriousness in political involvement yields better results than (presumably) isolated superficiality divorced from the rest of one’s convictions. The superficial noise which might often bombard your awareness is not inescapable.

Emancipate yourself from one bastion of superficiality (“political” entertainment) and you will push this snowball of mental vitality down an endlessly rewarding slope.