a grand wobble

Wednesday 2011.10.12

Some years ago, I found myself sitting with a group of neighbors and friends, gathered for dinner. As we hung around, a few of us found ourselves listening to one of our little group, a fair portion of the time, as he was prone to this. A kind of gruff but likable character, who, among other things, had a tendency to tell what people used to call “tall tales”, at some point I found myself hearing him launch into one of these proclamations that some people just seem to love, that begin “you know, there are only two kinds of people in the world…”, and they then proceed to define the population of planet Earth as either one or the other of these neat little categories. God only knows what was the topic of conversation, or what the neat pair of groups were being defined.

I had heard this kind of thing one time too many, I suppose. I responded to this by saying “you know, there are only two kinds of people in the world, the people who say there are only two kinds of people in the world, and the people who think that’s a really silly idea”. That drew a fairly puzzled look.

Now, I think I would alter that a little. It might be more like “there are only two kinds of people in the world, people who think there are only two kinds of people in the world, and people who think that’s dangerously simplistic madness”.

You can find loads of that around us now, it only increases a lot of problems and then becomes a source of a lot of further problems. In short form, that kind of simplistic reduction just gets in the way of seeing things as they actually are, and then getting to grips with figuring things out and solving problems. Among other things, one big thing that needs to happen is to take all the sort of terms of “left wing”/”right wing”, “conservative”/”liberal”, and just toss them in the trash right now.

Right now, as protests grow across the country from the seed of the “occupy Wall Street” protests in New York, I see a manifestation of this kind of avoidance of serious thinking about reality, in the form of reactions to all this, among some people, that go something along the lines of “there are two kinds of people, hard working successful people, and lazy bum communists whining because somebody has more than them”.

Take some time to listen to a bit of audio webcast from the weekly “Kunstlercast”, with writer James Howard Kunstler and host Duncan Crary, episode #122, titled “A Grand Wobble”. It’s a little over 45 minutes long, and it’s a pretty good overview discussion of what is actually going on in the world of finance and general economics that have people so frustrated and outraged.

What’s happening is not a simple story. It certainly doesn’t fit well into anything the “two kinds of people” fans of simplistic nonsense assert as a narrative.

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