Wishful Thinking

High Altitude Alpine Fields in Colorado Rockies

Often people of power can will their ideas into reality. They can say things that are unequivocally false, and make them become a perceived truth. It happens all the time. It comes with the privilege of having been given the power to individually affect change. If their ideas are truthful and intended for the public good, this is a beneficial, healthy thing. This is what leadership is for, but too frequently, our leaders are saying things that are emphatically wrong, and making claims that defy the laws of nature. Claiming that people from Africa are not entirely human, for example, and have less value than the animals on your farm, would seem crazy, yet 12 million people were enslaved between the 16th and 19th century, and it was supported by millions of American citizens, who blindly bought into the idea that what they were doing was appropriate and acceptable. Similarly, Hitler leveraged a developing antisemitism in Germany to institutionalize the murder of millions of Jewish people, by convincing average Germans that what they were doing was right and necessary. The German people were not forced to murder the Jews, they were pulled into an artificial reality, devoid of any common sense, and led to believe that it is the only appropriate way. The Native American population of 15 million was reduced to 2 million with the consent of the European/American settlers. How does this happen? The extermination of vast numbers of people doesn’t happen by accident. One must build an artificially constructed reality to make it seem OK to be hateful, such that one can dominate others.

The recent comments by Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin are consistent with the “Grand Old Party’s” previous hateful comments towards the rape of women. To say that, “women have a way to shut the whole thing down” when “legitimately raped”, referring to the likelihood that a woman will get pregnant as a result of rape, is to try to manifest an alternate reality that fits with his ideas of how the world should work. It ignores all laws of science, but, for Akin, that is OK. It is part of his plan. To be sure, it was not a slip of the tongue.

Katha Pollitt, from The Nation, has written a great article that outlines a number of extraordinary statements made by powerful leaders of the GOP over the past few years, in regards to this same issue. Women emit “a certain secretion” when they are being raped that prevents them from getting pregnant. Or, “the juices don’t flow” when she’s being raped. Or that “female hormones prevent a woman from getting pregnant when being raped”. The list of extraordinarily hateful and false statements go on, and on, but that’s OK, it is part of the plan to manifest their ideas in reality.

Herbert Marcuse, back in 1964, wrote a book entitled, “One Dimensional Man.” It’s a dense and difficult read, but he makes visible many of the techniques that the powerful use to manifest their will as a perceived reality. From Chapter 1:

This absorption of ideology into reality does not, however, signify the “end of ideology.” On the contrary, in a specific sense advanced industrial culture is more ideological than its predecessor, inasmuch as today the ideology is in the process of production itself[4]. In a provocative form, this proposition reveals the political aspects of the prevailing technological rationality. The productive apparatus and the goods and services which it produces “sell” or impose the social system as a whole. The means of mass transportation and communication, the commodities of lodging, food, and clothing, the irresistible output of the entertainment and information industry carry with them prescribed attitudes and habits, certain intellectual and emotional reactions which bind the consumers more or less pleasantly to the producers and, through the latter, to the whole. The products indoctrinate and manipulate; they promote a false consciousness which is immune against its falsehood. And as these beneficial products become
available to more individuals in more social classes, the indoctrination they carry ceases to be publicity; it becomes a way of life. It is a good way of life – much better than before – and as a good way of life, it militates against qualitative change. Thus emerges a pattern of one-dimensional thought and behavior in which ideas, aspirations, and objectives that, by their content, transcend the established universe of discourse and action are either repelled or reduced to terms of this universe.”

In Marcuse’s argument, the term “products” can apply to the selling of ideas as easily as it applies to consumer goods. Both construct an artificial world, which are self referencing for proof of their validity. They appear to be a good way of life, but limit the ability of an individual to step outside of the (leader established) parameters because the consequences appear to be too great. It is the reason that perfectly reasonable people can’t make the choice to live a “green lifestyle,” or be an “activist” for those things they believe are important. The socially constructed bubble tells us that it is too difficult, and the penalties are too high. Since everyone teaches and believes the mantra, it has become reality. The people then live within the bubble of influence, experiencing one-dimensional thought, and are Comfortably Numb. Many societies are established this way, living within an abstract ideology that may, or may not, have any relation with the way in which the physical universe works. In the case of declaring the African, or the Jewish, people as sub-human, works because our methods of categorizing ourselves is a man-made construct that doesn’t have anything to do with reality.

Nature, however, doesn’t care about our social constructs. Raped women do get pregnant, no matter how much the GOP doesn’t want them to. It is just the way the universe works. It is risky business making up blatantly false professions when it comes to natural phenomenon. Nature will call you out as a liar every time, and has the overwhelming power to crush your ideas and your entire species along with it.

Humans are a unique species that has an ability to think very deeply to consider their place in the world. Our self-awareness, and our ability to think in the abstract, has allowed us to create unbelievable things, way beyond what any other species has accomplished. We’ve traveled to the moon, created many, many great societies, and created art, literature, and architecture whose power is representative of the highest ideals of the human mind. These celebrations of the humanity are wonderful, however, we cannot continue to cheat, neglect, lie and avoid the very real fact that our bodies are literally of the universe. They are nature. Creating false constructs, and placing our will upon nature, is akin to asking nature to abide by our rules. It is the same as thinking that the Universe revolves around Earth. It simply doesn’t, and I thought we were past that hundreds of years ago.

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