I am sometimes surprised how touchy certain topics can be for me (even if my discomfort is often deferred until later or masked enough that nobody notices). Recently had a conversation that touched on distinctiveness versus lonliness. In this, I realise some of my ego is built on the idea of being different (but this also means some of my lonliness derives from the structure of my mental makeup). Now, reflecting on this from another angle, I wonder at the possibility of building egos on membership. I don't think I've ever had this and the idea to it is alien to me. I wonder further if membership in something abstract is very different than membership in something concrete; a nation is abstract (in the sense that our allegiances to and relations with others in it are with people we don't know), a small town is concrete.
Recently I've been curious about another little angle of how we use stories to impose a narrative over our lives. People drift together and apart, become more or less interested in hobbies, and so on. I wonder if the stories people tell, gathered together, avoid certain explanations that are nontheless accurate - if we're skewed towards certain kinds of explanations that feel less random. "I fell out of the habit of thinking about this hobby" or things like that probably feel less personal-story-satisfying than "I learned that doing that hurt my knees" (it also might be nice to close a door so one can try other hobbies than to feel aimless with a bunch of open possibilities). The idea of a "meaningfulness bias" - are we a lot more random than we think in life?
Today: as parts of family ad-hoc sung along to songs from the internet, was a bit pleased that because the song was playing, people were forced not to mentally shorten the non-voiced sections of song - could see that they really wanted to. Looking at the shapes of the bones in my feet, thinking of faces, that instinct to focus on the interesting bits in a way that distorts structure - interesting to supress. Efforts to get better at sketching involves learning a similar discipline. Amused idea: humans are made of functional/useful lies. Learning to pull certain parts of ourselves out of that instinctual world: useful, dangerous, interesting.
Maybe more relevant for others because I know the answer, but for the people we know in our lives, with whom is our dialogue most like that with which we have with ourself?
On an entirely different note, I wonder what the possibilities for large-scale change in how economics works are. I used to be concerned that the Washington Consensus (and a deep commitment to relatively lassiez-faire economics) could only be toppled by changes in Washington itself (something that looked possible in mild quantities here until red-baiting and then other issues changed the national dialogue/attention). By the time that crisis hit though, the long-term demise of Washington as a leader was pretty clear - the American empire's days are ending precisely because the US got the formula for success very wrong and we have ideological blinders preventing us from fixing it. Will the multipolar world that will replace it offer more possibilities for socialism? We might expect the end of the carrot/stick mentality - I hope to see the World Bank shuttered (or throughly reformed), and I hope to see an end to the use of espionage and military engagement to support US market objectives. That doesn't guarantee opportunity for experiments in radically different economic systems though (I contend that while in many cases socialism-in-practice failed on its own merits, it often was helped along through covert (and in some cases blatant) ops from capitalist countries pushing against it, countries which were often not-so-free themselves (like the United States - see basically our entire history from the Alien and Sedition Acts through McCarthy)). I would like to see sane/careful experiments more possible (in contrast to Chavez's attempts). The model I'm imagining would be:
- A set of nations each has a slow change in their political culture stressing education, infrastructure, anti-corruption efforts, and political fluidity
- Those nations also see their businesses replacing top-down hierarchies with more democratic structures, including collectives
- Eventually, all the remaining businesses are collectivised through decree, leaving a market-socialist system with each business run by its workers, retaining competition between them
- Some compromise between industry standards and distinctiveness for individual businesses is retained, protecting against gross disparities in wages, unacceptable treatment of workers, disparities in environmental consciousness, and other concerns while still allowing for acceptable differences in methods to be explored in ways that benefit some collectives more than others.
- Social/community responsibility is incorporated into the system in a way that preserves competitiveness and the socialist markets
- These nations, each with their own different regulatory environments and legal systems, find ways to trade with each other that are mutually beneficial and conscious of harmful forms of competition.
This is a gentler model than that which I've talked about before - it assumes a gradualist transition with majority-buy-in from the start rather than a revolution with uncertain buy-in. Either path is acceptable so long as it can lead to the desired result. I intend to go into more details on this in some future post.
Many of the comments on this Youtube discussion are disturbing. Interesting task: push down one's discomfort and look for patterns in the posters who say misogynist things. Age, location, upbringing, politics, subculture, etc.
I find myself missing the woods and my cats. Also, I have ideas on videos to make for my youtube channel...