I. Could the trait of refusing to engage with the pursuit of reasoned truth –to even attempt to elucidate the truth– that appears to be the sign of our times be a reflection of a late stage in the ideological encroachment of capitalism? Could the habit of satisfying our desires at any moment through the choice between different options competing in the marketplace have become so deeply ingrained in our minds that some of us might have started to choose not just to take shelter in alternative realities in the face of difficulties, but to actually behave –not pretend– as if their wishes towards reality, timely reflected in the offers of a new sort of polished strong men, were real?
How is this new subject currently in the making? One who chooses to reject reason in favor of the pleasure of fake news, one who abdicates from his moral responsibility to all others sharing the same world under the excuse that all choices are equally valid in the marketplace, in any marketplace –the fallacy of the marketplace, of reducing the
ruling of the polity to a marketplace.
For whoever chooses to severe their most essential link to the rest of humanity –the ability to reason; thus becoming a madman– is abdicating as well from any sense of responsibility towards them –we can only respond, answer, to those with whom we share a minimum common language of reason. The oldest responsibility and most essential responsibility a human being qua social can have is that of acknowledging the possibility of communicating over the same reality; without it, coexistence becomes impossible. Human beings determine their common reality applying their shared reason to their senses.
II. The rules of the market are simple: the customer pays, and thus is right; he then proceeds to consume his acquisition in the loneliness of his screen.
However, in having come to fundamentally affect the possibility of agreeing over truth, the taint of the marketplace has reached the heart of politics. The ideas of how are we to tolerate each other in a bearable way without resorting to mutual annihilation cannot, by their very essence –their underscoring of our difference, and thus our inability to ever fully embrace others–, be pleasing. Accepting the possibility that someone with a radically different view on how to run the state can reach power is never pleasing; knowing that our views can be defeated is not pleasing; accepting the possibility that laws that go against our convictions might be passed is not pleasing; in essence, the realization that our powers of persuasion –our very power over others– are finite is not pleasing. But they are all necessary if we are to remain in a voluntary peaceful and united coexistence.
It is a platitude to say pleasing is now at the heart of our productive systems. Our economies have not been just satisfying essential needs for a long time, but generating and pleasing hedonic impulses. Pleasure is the heart of our economy.
In replacing the hard work of listening to others, the tough effort of broadening our minds to accommodate the existence of dissenting views, and the disappointing task of negotiating a middle ground with our political opponents with the pleasing call to ignore those parts of reality that demand an effort of understanding, and the quick release of emotionally loaded speeches, we unravel the very fabric of our political systems. In other words: refusing to engage with reality and acting as if we had the power to make disappear the realities of others only leads to the destruction of our political systems by eliminating their purpose –to accommodate those realities. In this sense, the rehearsal in making disappear the realities of others by refusing to acknowledge even the quality of their existence, could be seen as a rehearsal in physically deleting them. The threat of the madman who does not share a reasoned space with us anymore is what lurks in the distant eyes of the stranger who confides in us a conspiracy theory.
Those who even jokingly consider the disappearance of our political systems –as based in reasoned discussion– an appealing possibility tend to forget that the only alternative to deciding through discussion who should rule and how is letting the mightier win; and the strong, when unrestrained by a fine balance of political power, rarely respect the weak.