Commenting on social, political, economic and general topics

“I hate politics”

with 4 comments

Guy Debord's Cat

I don’t hate politics but I’ve heard a lot of people use that phrase as a response to any mention of the word “politics”. The other phrase I often hear is “I’m not interested in politics” or “I’m apolitical’. So these people have no opinion on anything? Is this what they’re trying to say?

For today’s postmodern politicians, these words are a godsend. Legions of politically disinterested people, who avert their eyes from what’s happening in the world or in their locale, give our imperial masters the space to behave like feudal overlords. Are you happy with that?

More recently, I’ve had people tell me that UKIP is “anti-politics”, which is rather odd for a political party. No? “Yes, but UKIP aren’t like the other parties”, they’ll add with all seriousness. This is a party that’s become a refuge for the extreme right-wing of the Tory Party and bankrolled by…

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Written by Smiling Carcass

04/11/2014 at 8:23 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. I am not sure whether those who abstain from politics are necessarily destined to support right wing policies. But the identification of such people with idiots is worth consideration.

    We usually think of idiots as people who are stupid, with an inability to understand fairly straightforward issues. However, the word ‘idiot’ originally referred to a person who took no part in politics, avoided political discussion and lived a purely private life. The term was derived from the Greek ἰδιώτης, idiōtēs (“person lacking professional skill”, “a private citizen”, “individual”), from ἴδιος, idios (“private”, “one’s own”). In Latin the word idiota (“ordinary person, layman”) preceded the late Latin, meaning “uneducated or ignorant person” Its modern meaning and form dates back to Middle English around the year 1300, from the Old French idiote (“uneducated or ignorant person”). The related word idiocy dates to 1487 and may have been analogously modelled on the words prophet and prophecy. The word has cognates in many other languages.

    An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs. Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education. In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education (although citizenship was also largely hereditary). “Idiot” originally referred to “layman, person lacking professional skill”, “incapable of ordinary reasoning”. Declining to take part in public life, such as democratic government of the polis (city state), was considered dishonourable. “Idiots” were seen as having bad judgment in public and political matters. Over time, the term “idiot” shifted away from its original connotation of selfishness and came to refer to individuals with overall bad judgment–individuals who are “stupid”. According to the Bauer-Danker Lexicon, the noun ίδιωτής in ancient Greek meant “civilian”, “private citizen” “private soldier as opposed to officer,” “relatively unskilled, not clever,” (Herodotus).The military connotation in Bauer’s definition stems from the fact that ancient Greek armies in the time of total war mobilized all male citizens (to the age of 50) to fight, and many of these citizens tended to fight poorly and ignorantly.

    It is only recently that the term ‘idiot’ has been associated with mental illness, as in former times it referred to the moral state of a person. The modern link with insanity marks a decline in the quality of ethical and political discourse, usually associated with a fallacy of relevance, an attempt to discredit a person with abuse. For example, someone expressing an opposing view will be described as insane. But this is irrelevant to the truth or falsity of the person’s argument. Idiocy is characterised by a person’s avoidance of political discourse. Insanity is determined in relation to a person’s mental incapacities.

    Although politicians have occasionally been described as idiots, this usage hardly fits in with the original meaning associated with abstinence from political activity. The deficiencies of politicians are best covered with a wide range of descriptions from corrupt, incompetent, excessively ambitious and much more.

    In Aristotle’s Ethics idiots might well be regarded as suffering from ‘akrasia’ – a condition of moral incontinence, lacking the rational content to their actions due to their absence from political and moral discourse. In practical terms idiots would simply obey the dominant political authorities of the day. When Sarah Palin said that ‘only dead fish go with the flow’, she was referring to idiots. Lenin described people who unthinkingly obeyed the party when it was against their interests as ‘useful idiots’. Under certain circumstances idiots might turn out to be very dangerous people indeed.

    Dr Llareggub

    05/11/2014 at 1:26 PM

  2. Oh dear, censored again. Best wishes

    Dr Llareggub

    06/11/2014 at 9:34 AM

    • Not censored- it sometimes takes me time to catch up. Nice bit of copy-and-paste there though, Dr. Wikipedia- Idiot.

      Smiling Carcass

      06/11/2014 at 9:47 AM

      • Thanks. Have to copy and paste because I cannot get the Greek letters on my lap top. Fairly standard knowledge. The material on idiots originally appeared in an issue of Anarchy from Freedom Press, way back in the sixties. Rather than dig that out I used Wikipedia. As I am not claiming originality here there is no problem. By the way, so much for the claim that right wing populist movements attract unthinking people, and indeed racists, I see the US Tea Party did well with African American candidates and women. Have to re-write some of the comments about the racist and unthinking nature of the Tea Party eh. A lot of my old pals from the civil rights movement and anti Vietnam movement are now working against crony capitalism, racism and sexism as members of the Tea Party. Also campaigning against the US government green agenda which is closing down the coal mines. Funny how the left here are silent on that issue. Very complex and some dangerous alliances are being formed which deserve some left criticism.

        Dr Llareggub

        06/11/2014 at 10:31 AM

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