flwyd: (McCain Palin Abe Maude Simpsons)
flwyd ([personal profile] flwyd) wrote2017-04-16 01:51 pm

Politics of Victimization, Resentment, and Cynicism

In America, the political left and political right have conspired to create a culture and politics of victimization, and all the benefits of resentment and cynicism have accrued to the right. That's because resentment and apocalypse are weapons that can be used only to advance a politics of resentment and apocalypse. They are the weapons of the reactionary and the conservative — of people who fear and resist the future. Just as environmentalists believe they can create a great ecological politics out of apocalypse, liberals believe they can create a great progressive politics out of resentment; they cannot. Grievance and victimization make us smaller and less generous and thus serve only reactionaries and conservatives.

As liberals and environmentalists lost political power, they abandoned a politics of the strong, aspiring, and fulfilled for a politics of the weak, aggrieved, and resentful. The unique circumstances of the Great Depression — a dramatic, collective, and public fall from prosperity — are not being repeated today, nor are they likely to be repeated anytime soon. Today's reality of insecure affluence is a very different burden.

It is time for us to draw a new fault line through American political life, one that divides those dedicated to a politics of resentment, limits, and victimization from those dedicated to a politics of gratitude, possibility, and overcoming. The challenge for American liberals and environmentalists isn't to convince the American people that they are poor, insecure, and low status but rather the opposite: to speak to their wealth, security, and high status. It is this posture that motivates our higher aspirations for fulfillment. The way to get insecure Americans to embrace an expansive, generous, and progressive politics is not to tell them they are weak but rather to point out all the ways in which they are strong.
— Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility, “Status and Security”

The thrust of the book is that people support environmental protection when their more basic needs have been satisfied and they're less focused on basic material concerns. The authors argue that we can better address environmental concerns by raising standards of living rather than focusing on limits and restriction. It's worth noting that the book was published in 2007 before the financial crisis, but I think many of their ideas hold in the post-crash world where even more Americans are worried about job security.
sravakavarn: (Default)

[personal profile] sravakavarn 2017-04-16 10:33 pm (UTC)(link)
I have come that similar conclusion myself and I probably have far more radical politics than the others. The victimization and umbrage trends are ENDEMIC to all sides of American life, but while left-liberals can make money on it, conservatives are far better at weaponizing it.
medleymisty: (Default)

[personal profile] medleymisty 2017-04-17 01:18 am (UTC)(link)
Whenever I see stuff like this, my question is: Okay, but how are you going to get policies that would result in a higher standard of living from the current society? From my observations, American humans are really really really attached to their resentment and apocalyptic paranoia, and if any policy ideas that would lead to a higher standard of living could even get a hearing in our culture, their proponents would be spit on and hated and trolled.

Sorry, I've just developed learned helplessness from watching things go downhill for almost all my adulthood - I was 20 when 9/11 happened, and it's all been a fall into paranoia and hatred and irrationality from there, and I don't see any way to reach people who are deep into that hole.

altamira16: Tall ship at dusk (Default)

[personal profile] altamira16 2017-04-17 12:38 pm (UTC)(link)
I hope that Trump breaks the whole notion of CEO as smart person. I also hope people realize that people who have a lot more money than they do get the biggest tax breaks.
altamira16: Tall ship at dusk (Default)

[personal profile] altamira16 2017-04-17 02:12 am (UTC)(link)
Do you find yourself having reasonable conversations with conservatives?

I am finding myself deeply exhausted by people defending propping up vile PAC-sponsored speech that they don't believe in as "free speech that must be supported" because it pisses off liberals.

I am seeing people high-fiving each other over this as proper exercise of gun rights instead of tragedy.
altamira16: Tall ship at dusk (Default)

[personal profile] altamira16 2017-04-17 02:58 am (UTC)(link)
I guess I am experiencing some level of Facebook-related despair. This is usually why I left a social network when people that I grew up with joined.

It seems like people in other places are just now picking up on libertarianism because they don't want to identify with the Republican party anymore. They want to be pro-life libertarians. That just does not make sense.