FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Just be a Decent Human Being

Too many weeks have gone by. Too many words on paper turned to ash. Each essay incinerated, one by one. Stupid ideas and ridiculous notions piled up as too many awful topics. Who cares about Woody Allen’s oedipal driven cinema with his constant self-critique ending continuously back at the beginning? Does anyone really need a dry one act, one scene play to discuss Hillary’s hate for single mothers?

What about writing an article on Mexico’s education reform? A tantalizing topic with ongoing union protests against reforms. It surely pisses off some of my in-laws. Only the horror of the traffic resultant from human road blocks, not the tragedy of the reform. However, without being there, what I am going to offer the reader. No voices from the population. At least I could offer an analysis of rhetoric vs. reality. I started to investigate the statistics, check on the government’s argument. I realized the government’s argument “makes sense”, if only you ignore everything but the teachers as fallible human beings.

Yet, I threw this out, or I put it to the side as a work in progress. In any case, it is not here for you, the reader, to absorb. Do we need another empirical and historical account of why an argument is invalid or a policy counterproductive? Is not our very issue the lack of a decent moral and ethical institutional blueprint for our society? What should be our impulse to reoccurring discourse and action in the public realm pushing for decent policy? Demands? People-powered participatory democracy? Are we obsessed with continuous intervention of study after fruitless study as the only means to discuss societal failure?

It has become a way to push back the necessity of ethical decisions and objective morality. Just think, we must “test” ways considered immoral (at least to some) to “prove” or “demonstrate” that they are not “effective”. Just for an example, how about the War on Drugs. It was always a war on people, some of them drug users, addicts, some down trodden, many minorities, and rarely against large criminal organizations (e.g. CIA, FBI, DEA, whitey). And now we say it is a “failure”, it’s not “worth the money”, or it doesn’t get “results”. This form of discourse is the hallmark of the subjective rationalist who trots out study after study to “show” and pontificate their point.

Sadly, it will always only be a tweaking. If only social mechanism X is altered to be more in the form of Y, then possibly our real outcomes will better match the normative model we have produced. This is the tragicomic life of our prim and proper policy-makers, academics, and technocrats. A tragedy because they believe this nonsense will lead to a better society. A comedy… because they believe this nonsense will lead to a better society.

This is also part of the nastiness of post-modernism; the ever disappearing answer, solution, or part of truth. There can never be a firm position to stake out when your philosophy turns everything to air. It locks us in, but it doesn’t. We are, but we aren’t. It may be murder if we accept the idea of murder inherit in the concept as deployed in certain cultures… just shut the f*** up. No wonder this stuff comes of age during the Reagan years; a reactionary philosophy for reactionary times. A time when the symbol truly did lose all meaning, sacrificed on the altar of “whatever the hell I want it to mean”.

So, it is unimportant whether you are a “humanist” or attempting at “science”. The operation is the same; a constant putting off. We don’t know, we can’t know, we will know after we run equation W and prove there is a correlation between poverty and horrible education; it all amounts to the same. We would be better off trying to create open ethical systems with respect to both personal and group interests and desires.

This was and is, at least much of the time, my issue with atheism. Many atheists note correctly that ethics and morality are not dependent on God(s). It is at this point where they stop and the question of morality and ethics is abandoned. No alternative system is proposed. They have the rudiments to it; a reverent stance towards life, a wondrous fascination with the autopoietic élan vital of an emergent world constantly unfurling before us. The magic isn’t gone; it’s just no longer supernatural.

Contained here is the start. Life should be protected, nurtured, stewarded. Is a study needed to demonstrate this fact? No. Does that mean it is taken on faith? No. It is a moral truism; a realistic position about what is necessary for a life lived well. Being nurtured is to develop a sense of dignity, autonomy, and self-determination. You don’t need to measure it. There won’t be any exact science.

A foot, an ounce, maybe even a billion liters,

What could it be, a matter of counting,

It can’t be, won’t be, never was or is,

The fool got you to believe in an exact answer,

When all you needed to be was a decent human being

Andrew Smolski is an anarchist sociologist based in Texas. He can be reached at andrew.smolski@gmail.com

More articles by:

Andrew Smolski is a writer and sociologist.

January 16, 2019
Patrick Bond
Jim Yong Kim’s Mixed Messages to the World Bank and the World
John Grant
Joe Biden, Crime Fighter from Hell
Alvaro Huerta
Brief History Notes on Mexican Immigration to the U.S.
Kenneth Surin
A Great Speaker of the UK’s House of Commons
Elizabeth Henderson
Why Sustainable Agriculture Should Support a Green New Deal
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion
Jeff Mackler
Trump’s Syria Exit Tweet Provokes Washington Panic
Barbara Nimri Aziz
How Long Can Nepal Blame Others for Its Woes?
Cesar Chelala
Violence Against Women: A Pandemic No Longer Hidden
Kim C. Domenico
To Make a Vineyard of the Curse: Fate, Fatalism and Freedom
Dave Lindorff
Criminalizing BDS Trashes Free Speech & Association
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Edward Curtin
A Gentrified Little Town Goes to Pot
January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail