The notion that thinking together implies conformity and groupthink is as wrongheaded as the idea that conflict, argumentation and resistance are the wellspring of creativity.
When America's leading newspaper can get away with printing tripe such as, "It turns out that highly creative adults often grow up in families full of tension...with clashing views on how to raise children," you know the intelligentsia has gone around the bend.
Much of the problem is a failure to understand what creativity is. Creativity is equated, in a spiritually hollow, production obsessed, busyness venerating culture with "the will to fight uphill battles and the skill to win those battles."
In other words, conflict, argument and competition are the means to produce more, acquire more, experience more. Always more. That's greed.
The issue is not a moribund people however, but whether human beings everywhere can rise to the challenge of resurgent nationalism in America, China, Russia and the world, and end tribalism once and for all.
Below the blood-dimmed tide of nationalism is the atavism of man's ancient tribalism. To identify with a particular group was once functional, even necessary, but it's completely dysfunctional and destructive. To the extent progressives still think in terms of national sovereignty, they collude with the right and Trumpism.
Thinking together does not mean erasing differences, much less avoiding challenges and criticism. Benefactors of the status quo use that trick to maintain a socio-economic system that's killing the spirits of young people at an earlier and earlier age.
Disagreement is not the antidote to groupthink, but merely the shallow puddle of opinion. Questioning together to find the truth of things is the antidote to groupthink, and the means of psychological revolution.
The idea that "Resistance is the pinnacle of human existence," as Chris Hedges exclaims in his recent essay, "The Cost of Resistance," is equally absurd. Though Hedges has many insights at the political level into the present situation in America and the West, he goes off the rails when he starts talking about the soul and quoting Kierkegaard.
"We achieve salvation when we accept the impediments of the body and the soul, the limitations of being human, yet despite these limitations seek to do good. This burning honesty, which means we always exist on the cusp of despair, leaves us, in Kierkegaard's words, in 'fear and trembling,'" Hedges intones.
Frankly, that's Christian claptrap. Unwittingly, and apparently without taking his own advice ("those who resist are relentlessly self-critical"), Hedges projects: "Those who are ruled by rational abstractions and an aloof intellectualism are as depraved as those who succumb to hedonism."
It's ridiculous to say, "Resistance is not only about battling the forces of darkness; it is about becoming a whole and complete human being." Resistance, inwardly or outwardly, can never create a whole and complete human being.
Strangely, Hedges uses the words "crucify" and "carry the cross," but he doesn't mention Jesus. Until the left has a deeper insight into Jesus, and the bastardization of his teaching as Christianity, it will not be able to prevail over the repressive and regressive forces of the right.
Besides, the idea of resistance as a first principle is superficial and barren, an outgrowth of the same rotten religious and philosophical system it opposes. There must always be a 'them' in resistance, as well as a system that one stands apart from and combats.
This isn't Vichy France. This is Trump's America, Putin's Russia, and Xi's China, where resistance truly is futile.
Not because to stand against the forces of oppression, rapaciousness and darkness in all these countries and the world is futile, but because the psychology of resistance is inextricably entwined with the overarching power and underlying system it seeks to overthrow.
Resistance without violence is meaningless. That's not to advocate violence, but to question resistance and violence at their root. Resistance is violent, or toothless, as the present "Resistance" in America is.
We need a completely different kind of revolution. Lenin was wrong when he said, "a revolution without firing squads is meaningless." A resistance without violence is meaningless, but a revolution without violence is the only true revolution.
"Power is a poison. It does not matter who wields it." That's true, but when resistance to power is the first principle, as Chris Hedges maintains, one is still trafficking in power and contributing to a world of domination built on power.
We are the means and the end. We need to stand against this totally corrupt system, but the idea that "resistance is the pinnacle of human existence" is as inane as the admonition, "Kids, please start fighting." Indeed, at bottom they're the same thing.
"Kids, Would You Please Start Fighting?":
"The Cost of Resistance":
Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He welcomes dialogue. email@example.com
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