The system uses our better natures to crush us

March 10, 2013

I’ve followed Naked Capitalism for a few years now, and it’s meant a lot to me and I recommend it highly, but my attendance has been rather desultory here of late.  Desultory, that’s the word: “lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.”  Ditto corrente, the MMT sites, the current Mark Ames/Yasha Levine/Dr. Dolan vehicle, et al.  Sometimes, I think I’m losing what fight I have in me.  I’m tired.

That said, Lambert Strether posted something today that had me thinking.  The post is semi-autobiographical, using personal history to touch upon the problem of  life and how to live it, and particularly how to approach work.   And, in thinking it through, and even offering my own meager insights, it occurs to me to be very very angry.   I went deeply and irremediably in debt to fund a fancy education.  I did it because I wanted to be a professional, because I wanted a high-paying job, because I wanted the prestige – all the regular, crummy reasons.  But beyond that, and really more fundamentally than all that, I had been raised to respect education, and educated people, and to think that having that degree was something worth having for its own sake.  Of course, there is all manner of gamesmanship and opportunism and general crumminess, but ultimately one can honorably pursue that goal, and that is something good and redemptive.  So seeking some better life, some meaningful life, I walked into a rent extraction mechanism that is destroying me.  That is, what I thought was true was a fucking lie – my “honorable path” is really just a rip-off.  I was scammed.  We all were scammed – but me, specifically.  I, the guy I live with every day, was played for a fucking sucker, successfully and completely.  We’re not talking abstractions here.

So, what about Obama?  There’s a thread here, just bear with me.  The really galling thing about my failed and miserable life is that my failure was built on my dreams.  That is, my best-willed aspirations were the mechanisms of my own downfall.  These aspirations, mind you, weren’t sleezy.  I have my fair share of sleeziness, but the naive optimistic belief that being well-educated is a good thing is not sleezy at all.  That is, this horrible nightmare system that we’ve inherited from our parents, and which is mutilating us mercilessly, does not get its advantage over me due to my worst qualities, but rather due to my best qualities.  That is why and how this system is so entirely vicious – it appeals to the better angels of our nature, and then uses that appeal to stamp us into mush.

So what about Obama, you ask?  (Yes, you can see it coming, right?)  The appeal to hope and change and all things healthy and kind, just to use that appeal to deliver the believers to his real oligopolic vampire constituency, is Obamaism all over.  The system that takes ideals and standards and makes them into rent-seeking opportunities for psychopaths – that’s my dark reality, but that’s also the 2008 Democratic campaign, and the 2012, and the recent past, and the indefinite future.  A future of bile, resignation, decline, and death.