Politics Never Resolves Personality Issues
Equality Doesn't Mean Equal Capabilities
It appears hard to accept as a life truism that we are all of a different innate and acquired capacity to produce success in life. Whether it's a lack of an effort or a lack in our natural aptitude, we can't expect from our governments to do for us what we can't or won't do for ourselves. And this is about to become the theme of everything that follows.
In my relatively long life I have been a part of two distinct national mentalities. One was characterized by a certain suppression of freedoms and identity, and the other by too much freedom to handle. I could symbolize them as one restricted and one spoiled kid.
For their own respective reasons both types of societies seemed to breed a lot of emotionally unstable folks who somehow mixed up their national collective identity with an "equally guaranteed" personal success in life.
Just like a less promising kid is bound to accuse his parents of something like "favoritism" towards his more promising sibling---some of us tend to find so many things being wrong about our governments who seem to cater to a certain group of more succeeding folks.
In the paragraphs that follow, allow me to present both of those announced national mentalities, with the purpose of showing how neither of the extremes in opportunities and civil freedoms can result with satisfying that certain part of the populace which insists upon placing responsibility for their life into some other hands.
If my memory is serving me right, it was the Greek philosopher Plato who said: "Whatever belongs to everybody---is not appreciated by anybody". It might as well be a good short description of a communist political arrangement---and I should know, because I was born into one, and spent my first 24 years sharing that type of collective reality. (Not Russia).
For a typical illustration of the way how business was run---you would walk into a store to be instantly ignored, with no one rushing with a smile to ask you: "Can I help you?" Plato would say: "Why bother, the store is not private, and the government is guaranteeing their job whether they try hard or not".
Well, that would describe the general attitude. So, where was the money coming from to cover for that laziness? Thanks to the country's exceptionally important strategic location, the West Block was probably very generous to keep the dictator away from the political influences of the East Block---so people were surviving on those political donations.
Not that we had no industry, tourism, natural resources---but all that was in the wrong hands. Or, why am I saying "wrong"?
For, we had free medical services, free university education, one month paid vacation after a year of employment, and if my crap as much as got stuck somewhere a little, I could have a lengthy paid medical absence from work. Little anxieties and depressions and frequent hangovers seemed to be valid reasons to miss work. Why not---for, no one really fussed if you even showed up on your job smelling on alcohol.
Was everybody happy with that arrangement?
Those movies about the western style of life, riches, private property, capitalism---made everyone dream about the end of communism.
Now, fast forward a few decades, and all that was gone, with people getting that opportunity to fulfill their national dream. The dictator died, people voted for that long-dreamed-about democracy and capitalism.
Were they happy now?
Now they had to work hard to keep their jobs. Something like university tuition happened to them. Lobbyism and corruption happened. Misery happened. With a deep sigh many started reminiscing about "those good old times when no one had much, but dreaming were so free".
I hope it won't come as a surprise to anybody if I say that people are basically the same in any kind of political arrangement. Some prosper, some don't. Those who don't can't be pleased no matter what government you give them.
After coming to the "free, democratic West", the only difference I saw was the opportunity of those unhappy folks to vent it out publicly---which was not allowed in the "old country". Otherwise, governments did what they wanted---East and West---with little to be changed by those who didn't like it.
But these folks could demonstrate, protest, get organized into all sorts of "Losers United" versions and titles and slogans---some of which heavily reminding of those from the communist repertoire, and their voices being heard even on the prime time news. That must feel good, I said to myself---although never being even one bit inspired to join.
Contrary to your possible impressions, I am not hitting on the current American political divide---at least not exclusively. We could talk about political situations in the U.K., Canada, Australia, Italy, Germany...any country where there are people who regularly find so many bad things to say about their leaders, while no politics is good enough for them.
You see, in a strictly psychological sense, certain kind of people tend to exteriorize their inner drama of dissatisfaction with themselves and their lives, projecting it outwards onto authority figures, like parents, bosses, doctors, and governments. When they run out of those earthly authorities to blame for their misfortune, they stretch it over to those celestial ones---now blaming "evil forces", "bad luck", "wrong horoscopic sign they were born under"... that stuff.
But, since they can't protest against something they don't see, governments come as the most convenient target. It's really a soap opera collective style, in which some unaccomplished or just pissed off people join their voices to cry on the shoulder of an "unjust father who is catering to his favorite---more successful kids".
"Freedom" and Its Many Meanings
Something so relevant to that first story about communism can be found in the phenomenon here in the West where some whole families, generation after generation are enjoying welfare and other free social services. They spend their life bitching against governments that don't provide jobs.
Then may come another kind of administration which puts a big emphasis on job creation---and what happens now, what do you think? Agonizing over the possibility that they would have to start working for their livelihood---those same folks are bitching again against such a new government, inventing all kinds of arguments, some being ridiculous.
On the other hand, governments don't really mind such folks demonstrating, screaming, even looting. Every government has a department which monitors the mood of the public and whose job it is to manipulate that mood through the media and advertisement about their "care for people".
In the ancient Rome, there was a saying which depicted the rulers' strategy of such manipulation, which in their original Latin simply said: "Panem et circenses"---freely translated meaning: "Give the people bread and games, and they will be happy".
In our modern times, beside the ample opportunity to discharge that accumulated emotional negativity by yelling at sports events, we are allowed to protest and publicly scream out our personal frustrations and dissatisfactions with ourselves and our lives.
So we want new and new freedoms, while not realizing that we are keeping ourselves in the slavery of our own minds, and no one can liberate us from that. Freedom is a tricky word, politically very changeable.
In a communist regime, people celebrate "freedom from imperialistic exploitation by the rich".
In democracy we celebrate our "freedom to speak out, and scream out, and insult, if we feel like it".
In theocratic societies they cheer about their "freedom from the lust and all other forms of sinfulness observed in infidel societies".
Personally, I celebrate my "freedom from suggestive influences from the collective consciousness", and my personal sovereignty.
As people cry for a "freedom", they remain blind to their own depriving themselves from the basic freedom---to use their own mind, to mobilize that best in themselves, and to invest it into the only life over which they have some control---their own.
Beyond Our Control
Thus, it stands to reason that whatever we want "more" from our authorities---wouldn't make us happy, healthy, accomplished human beings, even if they gave it to us on a silver platter.
As a teenager I was a happy combination of a bookworm with an enormous intellectual appetite ---which I still haven't satisfied fully, and never will---a young horny bastard loving life, my singing and my guitar, my drifting around the country, camping, my yoga and humor. Politics was never on my mental menu. And it still isn't into these days---except as a form of entertainment.
Indeed, I honestly couldn't care less who is running the country. And I don't see what I could possibly do to "make different persons" of a Russian president, a dictator of North Korea, an American president, or anyone else in that big game.
I also don't see, what gets accomplished by this breed of unhappy folks who seem to be thriving on things over which they have absolutely no control. I wish even one of them could tell me what they personally have done which produced a substantial change in the political arena. "Letting others know how they feel" wouldn't count.
Indeed, folks, freedom only feels good when we give it to ourselves---everything else is a slavery in a disguise.