Politics Sucks…

I’m sick of politics. I’m sick of elections. I’m sick of referendums. I’m sick of reselections. I’m sick of deselections. I’m sick of negotiations. I’m sick it of it all and yet I’ll keep consuming every scrap of news that comes my way because I am addicted to this toxic, nauseating filth.

Yet I worry about those of us who are weird enough to find politics interesting and exciting. Most people aren’t like that. Their eyes glaze over when you mention words like “candidate”, “debate”, “campaign” or, worse, “ideology”. They prefer TV, books, football, cars and gossip. That is normal. We are the weird ones.

What I fear is that our morbid interest in political machinations detaches us from their actual consequences. What I fear is that we are so captivated by the news cycle that we abandon our sense of perspective. What I fear is that we are immersed in some kind of hideous soap opera, applauding each bizarre twist and turn, while forgetting that the damn thing is a documentary, and we are all minor cast members and not merely viewers.

Tear yourself away from this spectacle now and then. Leave sketch writers, wonks, pundits and other such pathetic creatures to fixate upon it while the world burns down. Think about the past and think about the future. Think about your friends and think about your family. Think about your dreams and think about your nightmares. Then look back at the grotesque pantomime playing out before our eyes in the grand old decaying theatre we can never leave.

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About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
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13 Responses to Politics Sucks…

  1. Mook says:

    We get the politics we deserve. I’m more and more convinced of this. Politics suck because we suck.

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    • Simon says:

      A paraphrase of Joseph de Maistre, the favourite philosopher of both Charles Baudelaire *and* Benito Mussolini?

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    • bsixsmith says:

      There’s some truth to it. (The Swiss certainly have better politics.) But a society is not just the virtues of its people, it is their traditions, numbers and complexity.

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      • Simon says:

        G. W. F. Hegel believed each country’s unique national character to consistently reflect itself in its political and economic systems of organization, moral norms, religious practices as well as arts and crafts. To be specific he saw the national characters of England, France and Germany as constituted of respectively utilitarian pragmatism, revolutionary hastiness and reflective thoroughness.

        To be honest, in historical hindsight that narrative looks like something of a self-fulfilling prophecy to me… I get the impression that national identities weren’t as strongly codified as now until Hegel’s own lifetime.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon says:

    Your choice of analogy reminds me that last year I actually dated a woman who makes political documentary films for a living. The reason she could make it balance psychologically is that she keeps very little tabs on the political issues she’s not directly involved in herself but those selected few topics she’s very intensely committed to documenting. There’s no way I could commit the same way to politics the way she could, though – as you said, there are very few people like that! The real question is whether this is for the better or for the worse…

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    • bsixsmith says:

      That is interesting. I would guess that a problem with that approach would be connecting the implications of one issue to broader themes but she is the one with experience!

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      • Simon says:

        As I’ve mentioned earlier, there are very few people who have actually thought out the logical implications of their declared political ideals – and even fewer again who can consistently follow them in real life. For those few committed lifelong idealists in the world there are, life can actually feel intensely frustrating because almost everyone around you come across as horrifyingly apathetic. My father is actually one of those, he’s a former politician for a now-defunct Danish far-left party and still somewhat politically active just not in parliamentary matters. Another example is a co-worker I had 3-4 years ago, who now is becoming semi-famous in Danish politics (it’s borderline surreal seeing speeches broadcast nationwide paraphrase conversations I had with her at work) though since she is no older than I am, I guess only time will tell if she’ll eventually burn out.

        Again I’m not sure this state of affairs is for the better or for the worse. The next thing someone will say is probably going to be that if more people did consistently follow a clearly defined principles then the world would be a much better place, but then again the very worst atrocities in human history have often been done by people unshakably convinced they were… well, making the world a better place.

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      • bsixsmith says:

        I think I linked Kołakowski’s essay in defence of inconsistency before. His essential point, as I remember it, was that consistency, in pure forms, entails irrational and inhuman fanaticism. We are too flexible and the world is too complex for it.

        Though of course one can have some consistent principles. It is good to oppose murder in all cases for example!

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  3. omnissiuntone says:

    Part of me agrees with you, but part of me thinks that engagement with politics is inevitable for people of a certain level of intelligence and curiosity. Most pop culture is pretty banal, and worthwhile forms of culture generally touch on issues that are political, or at least relevant to politics (ethics, religion, human nature etc.)

    True, I’ve known some very intelligent people who profess little interest in politics (though usually they replace it with some even more arcane obsession like mathematical logic). But it’s rare to find bright people who have nothing resembling a political opinion.

    I think the answer, as you suggest, lies in maintaining a sense of perspective about politics, and having interests which allow you occasionally to detach yourself from them.

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    • bsixsmith says:

      Yes, it is almost inevitable, though a surprising amount of intelligent people have the most banal and unreflective politics. I am always surprised to come across philosophers, scientists and mathematicians regurgitating talking points of their political tribes but I suppose possessing intelligence need not mean that one applies it intelligently.

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  4. lucysixsmith says:

    I’m raising my eyebrows over my glazed eyes over the eye-glazing bit. We uninformed masses may be uninformed but I’d be surprised if such a large proportion of us weren’t interested. For example, I had a fascinating conversation about Brexit yesterday with the man in the watch shop, and probably neither I nor he were very well up on the upsides and downsides of the European Union, but we both cared enough to have quite an extended discussion of the situation (in elementary Italian on my side and with lots of gestures on his)…

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    • bsixsmith says:

      I think you’re more interested (and certainly eduxated) than the average person. But even then, there’s a difference between being interested in the sense of having an opinion on Brexit and being interested in the sense of having an opinion on, say, the internecine conflicts of the Labour Party, or the nature of private and public liberalism with regards to sin. It is a matter of scale.

      But I certainly don’t think most people are completely uninterested. If so even less people would vote.

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      • lucysixsmith says:

        Yes, I will confess to having felt at times in a vague impatient way that whatever’s going on with the Labour Party they ought to just get over themselves and move on to something more important. The liberalism and sin bit sounds quite interesting but I’m not sure I know what it means…..

        Maybe we could use some more different words for politics, where Politics A is Stuff That Impacts Ordinary Lives Or Seems To (which everyone has an opinion on), Politics B is the specialised technical detail that fewer people care about, like whether or not Joe Bloggs would be a decent Shadow Cabinet Minister for the Administration of Ministerial Ministries, and Politics C is the philosophical/theoretical background to it all…?

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