Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vigils and vanities

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Political conflict has always been painfully divisive and the reactions of UK Remainers and US Clinton supporters to their tragic loss is an old game. Blame the referee, the other team for cheating, opposition flukes, anything but admit the simple fact of defeat.

Holding vigils in protest against Donald Trump’s victory is a typically self-righteous example, yet one is bound to wonder at the readiness with which people absorb political narratives into their personalities. If we are unwise enough to support a political party or political narrative then that is what we do, we sign over a chunk of our personality, our character. It is not an add-on, it is a replacement.

Which is why political supporters defend political parties, political actors and political narratives with such implacable determination. However ludicrous the narrative, however empty the promises, however flaky the actors, the degree of personal investment is difficult to understand unless we realise how personal it all is. As personal as a pound of flesh.

People do not invest part of their personality in a political stance; they give up part of their personality and replace it with political behaviour. Instead of mulling over political questions they acquire the tools for standard political answers which are almost always improvised but improvised around a core which cannot be modified.

As for the politically victorious, as well as the joy of winning there is also a sense of relief at not having lost, of not having to justify losing, not having to find excuses, not having to be angry. For now.

This is the fascination of political conflict. It exposes the shallowness of human nature, its dependence on imitation and past history, its indifference to reason. It highlights the contrast between observed behaviour and the complex, dangerously colourful myths with which we drench our political vanities. 

2 comments:

Sackerson said...

So well written.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - thanks. Written very quickly with few edits - must mean something.