Thanksgiving is the opening movement in the symphonic winter of American civil religion; an expression of togetherness and thankfulness originally created by Abraham Lincoln for PR reasons. To Native Americans, it is a snarky “Thanks-taking,” an annual recognition of Western whitewashing and romanticization of New World colonization by Europeans. To greenleaners, it’s a spectacle of conspicuous consumption with a turkey genocide kicker. For this human, Thanksgiving is a time of reflection on an invaluable lesson that it took me years to fully internalize.
I am a professional writer. I produce political commentary for somewhat meager remuneration. Sycophantic partisan establishment propagandizing probably pays better, but I spend most of my time criticizing the dialectical manipulation of the American citizenry through a system of false political choices: Reagan-style fake “free markets,” which aim to remove second-order regulation and welfare programs aimed at augmenting the ability of the poor to cope with first-order privileged, exploitative, and anti-market state institutions, versus trust in embellishing the power of the state which caused the first-order problems.
But enough of that yellowed madness. I swing the battle ax of libertarian nuance all year ’round. There are many things that I am thankful for beyond the standard recognition of well being that I’m not in active danger of starvation, being eaten by bears, or otherwise facing a primitive demise. There is one gem I’m especially grateful for and I would like to share with you.
This week I give thanks to the nearly universal drive for goodness amongst all people. As I interpreted it, this was also a central motif of the Rally to Restore Sanity. Rather than demonize, we are supposed to understand each other and the goodness we are all trying to express politically to varying degrees of accuracy and consistency.
Those who seek to expand state power even in the most dramatic of ways seldom seek to do so for some maligned desire to conquer and rule humanity. Most progressives, social democrats, and even communists I know aren’t what I would describe as evil. They have reacted to our political landscape in a way which I believe is incorrect and second-order, but in their hearts, I know their concern over inequality, exploitation and the quality of life of the worst off amongst us is sincere, not a mere justification for power-seeking. As the old saying goes, most people are for good things and against bad things. I recognize this and it gives me hope.
Chastising conservatives is practically the national sport amongst my demographic, and it’s often easy pickins’! But even the most vociferous and vicious neocons, who seek to marginalize sexual or ethnic communities and froth for indiscriminate war and revenge against the mostly innocent victims of the policies of the ruling class, are manipulated into thinking their interests or their safety actually requires such brutality. Few of them, confronted with the awful truth of this unnecessary course of action, and seeing the humanized burnt bodies, nay, smelling them from a few feet away, would still feel that such policies were acceptable.
Like Darth Vader, they will rise up and hurl the emperor into the core of the Death Star when confronted with visible insanity, when they see their sons tortured at the hands of the policies and rulers and institutions which they support. Few people are like Emperor Palpatine, beyond their own humanity. Most people I know are like Darth Vader; victims of an expertly manipulated political order and the corrupt incentive structures produced through illegitimate power.
On Turkey Day I’ll be giving thanks for the goodness in humankind which is misdirected but bursting with life and joy whenever I open my eyes to see it. In time, may it be refocused toward the appropriate goal of statelessness, but until then my friends, I am thankful that even when we disagree, the odds are overwhelming that you are probably still a decent and lovely human being.