Tuesday, February 22, 2011

political change

Change is inherently messy.  Thus, as  much as some long to exert control over change, fearing that mess and loss of control as an inherent vice, change has a tendency to happen regardless.  Instead of fearing change as a vice, it is possible to view all change as opportunity to be embraced as the defining characteristic and purpose of human existence: we exist to change, to grow to become....Ah, but there is the rub: to become what?  It is the very uncertainty that unnerves people, especially the ruling class who view their own roles as leaders as a divine right but scorn the capability of the regular citizen to take a shift, to embrace and act morally and in good fashion.

Nowhere is this narrative of change more profound or entrenched than in politics.  Ruling elites have always sought to justify their oppression as a necessary indulgence for their essential role in firstly defining civilization (in their image, of course) and secondly, defining its maintainence (at the cost of others lives, of course).  The others ae minimized and demonized as a leaderless rabble without morality and any measure of that ultimate virtue, control.

Throughout human history, every empire has crumbled, every dictator has eventually fallen.  It has taken a long while, but finally literacy has empowered a greater majority of the world's inhabitants.  Moreover, elite regimes are no longer able to control all of the media, all of the information and all of the education.

Not to say that we, as people will not make mistakes. Mistakes are a valuable learning tool.  Change is messy.  It is imperfect, it is not controllable.  Moreover, change is not something we should seek to control: it should be something we seek to constantly create, adapt and share.  Utopian maybe, but not an elitist utopia, a democratic one.

Here is Brendan O'Neill's excellent commentary on the Libyan situation (and those in Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain....).

The change indeed is going to come.