Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Absence of social instinct can be good?

So, as an act of curiosity I downloaded some of the increasingly popular „rightrock" music and listened to samples of it... it is one of the most absurd things I ever encountered. I mean really. The music is not that bad as I expected, actually it is mostly singable and hard and yummy just as I like it. The lyrics... well, sometimes cringeworthy even as far language goes,  but sometimes they sound normal or even educated... however, the lyrical content gets boring very quick. Narrow-minded, scientifically inaccurate, backwards views presented in a way that tries to be funny but never quite succeeds, all in a melodramatic-romantic style which would be suited to much greater themes and purposes. This combination of artistic talent and imbecility is so jarring that if it was not practically everywhere, I would not believe it. It shows in miniature all the perplexity and weirdness of humanity, our most wicked and best tendencies mixed together... and it sounds so sincere! I mean, these guys really believe what they are singing about. And I can tell that because once I did believe in it just as strong as they do, and that is why it frightens and fascinates me so much.
There is not much difference between a staunch warrior of the right, who would instantly kill people of all colours and persuasions other than his own if he had the opportunity, and me, a kind of reluctant leftleaner, or perhaps neutral, who would kill only with mutual consent. We both see problems with the current system and react to them; we both have tendencies of aggression that stem from a sense of self-defense - obviously for different reasons, but the feeling is the same; we both are interested in history and want to learn from it; we both feel a certain annoyance with the vestiges of Judeo-Christian morality ingrained into the civilized mind, although for different reasons; and we both have the same good intentions of creating a better future for the generations that are going to live in it. What separates us, then?
First of all, scientific literacy. It is the most obvious one; just read the part of The Greatest Show On Earth where grasshoppers and Colin Powell are mentioned. The knowledge and acceptance of the facts outlined there was a crucial blow to my beliefs as well. But it is not enough, for there is a certain non-intellectual part of the phenomenon which bears an eerie resemblance to one of the social roles of religion: creating and maintaining group cohesion. This need is one of the downsides of Homo sapiens being a cooperative species: most people have a very low innate sense of identity unless they can describe themselves as particles of a group that shares certain characteristics with them. And since the concept of family and the observation of family resemblances is a very commonplace and, for most, emotionally appealing source of such a collective identity, and before the advent of transport technologies people living in roughly the same place and speaking the same language were indeed part of an extended family, and by the same token a somewhat separate gene pool, it intuitively follows that the concept of a nation is even more attractive as such an identity. Perhaps if I had a true sense of belonging to my family and to the people whom I share my mother tongue with, I would never have considered the possibility that there might be something wrong with this whole ideology built around such feelings. The fact that I have always been a foreigner at home in a very profound way prevented me from becoming a brainwashed follower of fascist-type ideas and people. The very thing that made me a „problem child" made me also skeptical about politics - both ways, actually. When I say that I am a reluctant leftleaner I mean that I generally do not subscribe to things like the class struggle theory (although I admit that people of different SES have different economic interests, obviously), affirmative action, political correctness, alternative medicine, vegetarianism (as a former sufferer of malnutrition I have very good reason to reject that particular liberal fad indeed), postmodernism, cultural relativism, even feminism (at least some forms and claims of it), but I also use my brain and my interest in biological subjects, and therefore I reject the counterproductive and utterly irrational prejudices based on ethnic origin or sexual orientation, proposing instead a sort of meritocratic way of determining the value of human beings, by criteria such as intelligence, intellectual and plain garden-variety honesty, general health and endurance, and ethical integrity. There is no party, no movement, no leader I can completely agree with. At times it feels terribly lonely - but not to the degree that it would convince me of changing my principles because those are backed by evidence and empathy, not some mixture of doctrinaire devotion and wishful thinking. But indeed, I can understand where these mostly young people are coming from, even the people who attacked me, and the youths on the underground with the number 88 on their bags and clothes. The way Dawkins understands religious fundamentalists, the way an adult understands the reactions of a child. That does not make me one of them, though. I seem to lack an ability to fully become one of them.
Is that a sign of some sort of mental or social deficiency? I mean, in their eyes it surely is... but yours, who consider yourselves to be modern and civilized people, and not racists? By labeling freethinking loners like me (with or without an official autism spectrum diagnosis) as deficient, you are only making obvious where you really stand; you might as well have punched a child of another colour than yours in the face.


Prudence said...

I think the concept of family, and the observance of family rituals are indeed powerful notions and motivators, but usually they also work with a 'filter', like everything else in life. I wouldn't say that nationalists are necessarily more 'loyal' than non-nationalist free-thinkers, if you know what I mean. Some of them are actually quite shrewd - I mean, Morvai Krisztina, one of the head honchos of Jobbik actually has a Jewish husband, for goodness sake.

I guess my point is that, as anything life, these loyalties can be both positive, and negative. The feeling of being an outsider, being barred from, or barring oneself from participation in these things can definitely be a strong motivator to move in either direction of the scale, I agree with that.

I think the vast majority of people find themselves in a grey zone, in so far as their political orientation is concerned. Show me one Hungarian (or non-Hungarian person) for that matter who is completely satisfied with the political parties. It's mostly about choosing the lesser of the two evils, and such ways of thinking.

rodiel said...

I meant the rank-and-file people, not the party officials and such - everybody knows only the best liars get to the top in any organization.
And lesser-of-two-evils thinking is more common with more-or-less centered orientation, not radicals.