Thursday, August 17, 2023

#229 / Rage And Joy


Pictured above is David French, who writes columns for The New York Times. I am not sure where or when the picture above was taken, but I didn't get it from The Times. The picture comes from the GQ [Gentlemen's Quarterly] website, associated with a 2016 story that suggested that French might run for president. In fact (go ahead; think back), we know that French did not run for president in 2016, and we also know who did! Hint: I not thinking about Hillary Clinton.

French is identified by Wikipedia as an "evangelical Christian." His past jobs also reveal his connection to National Review and The Dispatch. I think this means that it is fair to say that French should be placed on the "conservative" side of the political spectrum. French's column in The Times on July 8, 2023, has prompted this blog posting. The column is titled, "The Rage and Joy of MAGA America." 

The main point of French's column is that while most of us recognize that the "MAGA" movement is powered by "rage," few have understood how much "joy" there is in those Donald Trump rallies. I do think that this is an important observation. 
My go-to political theorist, Hannah Arendt, writing in her great book, On Revolution, devotes an entire chapter to "The Pursuit of Happiness," and it is her belief that transformative political change - genuine "revolution" - is always associated with a desire for what she calls "the public happiness." I have actually written about this before, in March of 2010. I continue to urge readers of my blog postings to spend some quality time with Hannah Arendt, and I think On Revolution is a good place to start. Don't be too intimidated by the footnotes in Latin, and German!

I was part of a "revolutionary movement" in Santa Cruz County, California, beginning in the mid-1970's, and I found that Arendt's claim that the experience of being involved in such a political effort leads to a kind of "happiness," was absolutely confirmed by my own experience, starting with the fight to "Save Lighthouse Field." 

We are facing difficult times - and in fact, calamitous times - and "rage" is a more or less natural reaction. I do not think that "rage," though, however "natural" it may be, is in fact an emotion that we should either cultivate or countenance. 

But I AM in favor of "the pursuit of happiness." I AM in favor of a politics that elevates "joy." 

If Arendt is right (and my personal experience confirms her "theoretical" observations), we cannot achieve transformative political changes without being able to provide "joy," the "public happiness," to all those who participate. 

So, for those who are seeking such joy, and for those who care to mount a "revolution," in which real and transformative changes are made, please know that this isn't done with "rage" as the motivation. Small groups of real people, getting together in "real life" (and not thinking they can do it "online") are where it all begins! In that (and I do speak from personal experience) there is much "joy," indeed!

1 comment:

  1. Gary: Thanks for sharing this perspective. I feel that the far right movements that are so energized these days are driven by the unconscious (for many) realization that our world, as we've known it, is ending and that we as a species are in an existential crisis. We are now facing unstable and collapsing life systems. Fear and anger are driving about 30 % of humans to seek a strong-father-leader who seems to address this unconscious fear for our very lives. By the way, when I lived in
    SC, my affinity group that worked to stop nukes was called Love and Rage.


Thanks for your comment!