Clouds In The Head

Our utopian acts are just gateposts against the chaos
29 April, 2010, 11:34 am
Filed under: All ideas are 1/3 truth, 1/3 lie

We tend to build around us the world that we think exists. This particularly applies to ideologies and governments. But it also applies to us within our towns and families and selves.

Our utopian drives are really drives to prove our world view.

I had this thought (I’m sure it’s not original) after reading an article by Ross Gittins (no link included because I can’t find the article anymore). He was talking about the way in which our governments would prefer to put more police on the streets and build more prisons than do something that actually reduces the crime rate, such as provide serious rehabilitation to prisoners so they don’t become repeat offenders. The latter doesn’t win elections, not with shock jocks the way they are. And also doesn’t provide the much needed feeling of retribution that the voting population needs so it can swallow its daily Starbucks cleanly.

Couple this with the way successive governments have promoted private schooling over state schooling, resulting in a two-tier world where the haves continue to have and the have-nots struggle and strain against their circs, and you get the preconditions for a world where more police are needed on the streets and more prisons need to be built etc etc. For some people it is inconvenient to believe that rehabilitation is the best answer. Counterarguments are leapt upon with avidity.

We do it in our private lives too. If we think we’re going to fail we become masters of self sabotage. If we worry excessively that God doesn’t exist we’ll found a church that is so warped it virtually proves his non-existence – or at least gives us a lovely vision of what hell would be like if it existed. Jealousy creates unfaithfulness. The society that believes that women must be protected from showing off their bodies creates a society where a woman showing off her body invites rape. And these beliefs burrow deep.

The fact is life and society are much more complex and the search for simplicity – the very application of Occam’s Razor – has the Heisenbergian effect of becoming a metaphorical representation of the original definition of “begging the question”.

As a good Dreambody aficionado, I have to admit that my argument, which could probably be dismantled by a first year philosophy student, probably just reinforces my own beliefs. But then, I would say that, wouldn’t I?