9.23.2006

Is There Hope For Us?: Counterpoint

As much as I like the irony of someone named King Anarchy, I think I'd like to shit in his mouth and sew his lips shut. No, really.

Before I expound, I think it's weird that I'm responding to a blog by writing another blog. There is something completely too postmodern about this, and I don't think I like it. That's what face-to-face conversations used to be for. But I think Antho's questions are good ones, and I feel compelled to respond. Pretend this is a real conversation w/ me and imagine smoke, booze, and emphatic hand gestures. As usual, this is long, so bear w/ me.

First, the question of why do anything when nothing changes, or seemingly nothing does. For arguments sake, we'll use His Highness's example of "not eating meat does not stop the production of animals for meat" argument. As this is a rather incomplete statement, I will assume that the complete thought is "not eating meat does not stop the production of animals for meat; therefore, it is unreasonable to not eat meat." Beside the basic fallacy of making a negative statement an argument, this is what is known as a "straw man"--taking a small part of an argument and blowing it up to be totality of said argument so it is easier to dismantle. In layman's terms, King A was saying "If you can't do everything, it is unreasonable to do anything."

Let us assume for the moment that he had said, "Not murdering people does not stop murder; therefore, not murdering is unreasonable." Everyone present would have thought that he was a lunatic. But because he was attempting to justify an irrational behavior that happens to be socially fortified, he appeared lucid or well-reasoned. This is the same argument as "You can't completely escape from the capitalist system; therefore it is unreasonable to oppose it". Such is the madness of crowds and the tyranny of tradition.

Consuming animal products is irrational, unnecessary, and completely unethical. In the thousands of pages I have read, I have not seen one cogent argument for it (if anyone in internet land has one, I'd would love to hear it.) It is a philosophical no-brainer; people consume animal products for a variety of reasons, but among the foremost is a)because they've been told to and b) because everyone else does.

Returning to the issue--why do anything if you cannot change anything? I guess that depends on which perspective you want to analyze it from, but reasonably, it is because you are ethically obligated to. If you find the system of exploitation, animal products, pornography, lemon-lime Gatorade, whatever...if you find anything objectionable, you are ethically obligated not to participate in it (as much as is possible). If you continue to do so, then I guess you would have to question how much you really object.

The system will take care of itself, and it's our job to do whatever we can to help it along. I don't worry about stopping the whole system any more, even though I find myself opposing it more strongly than I ever have--the system is doing a fine job of stopping itself. I worry about doing what I can, when I can. Not to be too melodramatic, but I look at every day as a war, made up of thousands of tiny battles. I pick the biggest ones, the ones that are most important, and I try to win them. It's that simple. Not consuming animal products is easy, so I don't. Not watching 10 hours of TV is easy, not shopping at Wal-Mart is easy, walking instead of driving is easy. Having conversations with other people and hopefully having a positive impact is easy. It isn't rocket science. Do I often wish I was doing "more"? Every damn day. But I'm doing more now than I was when I was 18 or 25 or last year put together. It's a process, and I'm pleased to report I'm getting better at it.

Activism isn't something that you do apart from the rest of your life; it is your life. Raoul Vaneigem (my favorite political theorist) said, "There are more truths in 24 hours of a man's life than in all the philosophies of the world". This is true, I think. To save the world, we would have to be outside of it, and sadly, we are not. But what we do makes a difference, all the time, every day, in millions of tiny ways. Those small changes have a cumulative effect, and every person that changes in a way that is beneficial to those around them and the community at large brings us all one step closer to the giant step we all hope for.

There are more of us every day--malcontents and misanthropes. The cracks in the dam are bulging. Avoid the fatalism of the crowd, and learn to swim.

4 Comments:

Blogger Whit said...

I'm a big fan of fighting the battles to win the war. Although I often wonder what it is I'm fighting for.

Meat tastes good. That's the only argument I have.

23/9/06 9:25 AM  
Blogger anthony said...

thank you

23/9/06 11:57 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I'm lazy and it tastes good. But we'll see, I think you're wearing me down.

25/9/06 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Bobb Lange (Western Front) said...

who the hell writes this coherently at 6 am? my hat is off to you sir. thank you.

bobb

1/10/06 10:44 PM  

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