(Image used under Creative Commons Licence.)

I’ve been offline for a while. My family was affected by the Manchester Arena bombing, and it’s taken me a while to emerge from the pall that cast over our lives. I’m not ready to talk about that yet, and I’m not up to writing a political post. But I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation and rage, really since the UK vote to leave the European Union. Some of that thinking has coalesced into this post, which is actually about fictional worldbuilding.

For me, worldbuilding starts with geography. I draw maps, name places, and then work my way into the economics and politics of those locales. Settings are characters in themselves for me. I want them to have a life and vibrancy of their own. I also want them to feel realistic, whether it’s the fae Court of the Oak King in Burning Bones or a distant planet colonized by cyborgs in The Stars Avail. Realism starts with historical precedents, which makes me a student of history by necessity.

I don’t know how other students of history will view Brexit and the recent US Presidential Election, but my, perhaps simplistic, read of them is that both were driven by rage. Particularly after Brexit, I spent a lot of time listening to people who voted to leave the EU explain their vote. Some of this was on the mainstream media, but a lot of it was just speaking with business associates, neighbors and folks down the pub. With rare exception, “leavers” admitted that they didn’t really understand what leaving the EU would mean, on a national, or personal, level. The PM resigning, the pound plummeting, the loss of EU funding for agricultural and industrial interests – they hadn’t understood any of it. They’d voted to leave because they were angry. The phrase I heard most often was that they’d “had enough.” Had enough of what? I asked. I got a wide variety of answers – immigrants, austerity, government corruption. But very little had to do with the UK’s membership in the EU. What the leavers were really saying (and what I think the American people have said in electing Donald Trump), is that they have “had enough” of the loss of prosperity and stability that they considered their birthright as Britons and Americans.

This was more than nostalgia for the “American Dream.” It was more than fear of “the Other.” It was fury at deprivation and loss.

I didn’t understand that fury (and neither did the pollsters). Not until I spent some time listening to the “leavers.” Sitting across from the fellow in the pub, watching his face turn purple as he talked about having to wait for two months for a doctor’s appointment because “those immigrants” are monopolizing the NHS’s resources, I began to understand. Watching the YouTube footage of a man frothing at the mouth as he confronts a woman in a burka, telling her to “go home,” even after she explains she was born in the UK, brought the point home a little more. This is not rational. This rage defies analysis. I have to feel it, before I can appreciate why these groups of people acted against their own self-interest.

I have always known that the oppressed will revolt eventually. The sheep look up. What I didn’t understand is that oppression is a matter of degree. The relatively well-off can still feel oppressed if they are deprived of those things to which they feel entitled. That sense of oppression, of loss, of helpless anger, drives people to do things that are not logical. They’re not even intuitive. They make no sense, because they’re driven by pure emotion. The emotions of despair and loss and rage.

I still feel very uncomfortable listening the to the angry “Leaver” down the pub, or watching that YouTube video. But turning my eyes aside is the wrong reaction. In order to appreciate this emotion – and how it might feed into my worldbuilding – I have to let myself feel it. It’s not comfortable. It’s not safe. But it is the sign of our times. The politics of rage.

5 thoughts on “The Politics of Rage

  1. Since the 1980s, that rage has been nurtured by the extremist, racist, Alt-Right hate-filled media machine that spreads conspiracy theories and endless lies. A recent issue of Smithsonian Magazine ran a piece that explained why this is happening. The simple explanation, blame it on social media and the internet that is feeding people fake news that encourages confirmation bias. The seeds of that fury were always there for those people, but most of them suppressed it until the lying Alt-Right media and #FakePresident and serial lair con man Donald Trump provided them with an excuse and justification to let it loose.

    In other words, if he can do it and nothing happens to him, so can I.

    I think before we bring an end to this insanity, the countries that have let it loose so it is now running rampant will end up fighting a balkanized Civil War and many will die while those countries are torn to shreds.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-fake-news-breaks-your-brain-180963894/

    When the fighting ends and most of civilization is in ruins, the only civilized country left on the planet will probably be China because the ruling party doesn’t allow an Alt-Right media machine to exist there and will also not put up with this kind of crazy behavior. Disrupt the harmony in China, and off you go to prison.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If you don’t know much about the Walton family (wealthiest family on the planet thanks to union hating, poverty wage paying, no benefits or health care Wal-Mart) and the Koch brothers (who inherited the 2nd largest privates sector [and one of the biggest polluters in the U.S.] oil company in North America from their father who made his money working for Stalin and Hitler), you might want to dive in and learn more about them. Both families have been active for decades to dramatically change the United States into a theocratic, fascist, racist, neo-libertarian, autocratic kleptocracy, and they are on the cusp of achieving that goal. If you dig deep enough, you will discover that almost everyone, if not all of Trump’s cabinet members owe their loyalty to the Koch brothers.

        There is only one person in the United States presidential line of succession who might not be owned by the Koch brothers and/or the Walton family and that is #6, former U.S. Marine 4-star general James Mattis who only got the job because Obama fired him, but that doesn’t mean he is loyal to Trump, Koch or the Waltons or any other billionaire.

        James Mattis joined the Marine Corps in 1969 and served his country loyally until 2013. If you read the oath of office for US Military officers, that is our only hope that #6 in the line for the presidency is someone we can trust.

        Mattis is a lifelong bachelor who has never been married and has no children. He proposed to a woman named Alice Gillis, but she called off the wedding days before it was to occur, not wanting to burden his career. He is nicknamed “The Warrior Monk” because of his bachelor life and lifelong devotion to the study of war. Mattis is noted for his intellectualism and interest in the study of military history and world history, with a personal library that once included over 7,000 volumes, and a penchant for publishing required reading lists for Marines under his command.

        Here’s the oath he took as an officer:

        I, _____, having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)

        It doesn’t say he has to obey or be loyal to #FakePresident Donald Trump or any other president.

        It’s scary that the only hope the United States might have to survive and keep the U.S. Constitution as it is, rests with “The Warrior Monk” and he is #6 on the list.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’d leave too but my retirement is tied to CalSTRS in California, the VA, and Social Security. If Trump achieves his dangerous and destructive economic goals, that is also a goal of the Kochs who want to get rid of every federal program that benefits the people in any way (Social Security, unemployment, food stamps, medical care of any kind unless you have the cash to pay for it, etc.), and with help from about a 100 other crack-pot extremist billionaires and another 60-million really easy to fool, ignorant Americans, all of my income sources will be at risk. But I won’t be the only American to suffer.

        Destroying the existing economic structure could easily impoverish 50 to 100 million people in the U.S., and this is what the autocrats like #FakePresident Trump, the Kochs and the Waltons want to do.

        Liked by 1 person

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