"Fear and (self) Loathing" from the left

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Kalm, Apr 4, 2005.

  1. Kalm

    Kalm Member

    I've seen a charge of late about those who view themselves as liberal and/or environmentalists being "self loathers". And when chadk introduced the thread about the american dream, I paid special attention to see if this accusation reared it's ugly head - and of course, it did.

    I have chewed over this claim for quite a while. It interests me because I would consider myself guilty of being both a liberal and somewhat environmentally conscious. And while loathing may be a bit strong, I wondered if there might be some validity to this statement. For regardless of how one views over-consumption, if you have a family like I do, it's damn near impossible to not get caught up in the trappings of american-style materialism or, as Marx put it "the fetishism of commodities. But does that make you a hypocrite ala John Kerry who spoke of conservation but lives a lavish lifestlye? Would it be better for the psyche to simply give up the small and mostly insignificant things you do for the environment and join the guilt free smorgasbord of possessing everything under the sun that makes our quasi capitalistic system so superior?

    Then I read the following quote from Rolling Stone contributing editor Mikal Gilmore concerning one Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, and I immediately felt better about my alleged loathing:


    "However, the fear and loathing Thompson was writing about – a dread of both interior demons and the psychic landscape of the nation around him – wasn’t merely his own; he was also giving voice to the mind-set of a generation that had held high ideals and was now crashing hard against the walls of American reality. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a requiem – crazed, angry and funny, and not at all pretty. “(What) is sane?” Thompson wrote near the story’s end. “Especially here ‘in our own country’ – in the doomstruck era of Nixon. We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled the Sixties. Uppers are going out of style…All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy peace and understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours, too… a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody – or at least some force – is tending that light at the end of the tunnel…Whatever sells today is what ever fucks you up – whatever short-circuits your brain and grounds it out for the longest possible time.” Thompson’s fear and loathing was about disillusion – the feelings that gnawed at you after a dream that proved only a hallucination. It was also about the terror of losing that illusion and having no refuge."

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. jessejames

    jessejames Flyslinger

     
  3. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

    It's impossible for me to respond at any length to your quote without running it through the filter of my faith. Since that has been such a divisive topic as of late, I really don't want to head down that road again. Though my life certainly has it's share of ups and downs, I am happy to say that I can't relate to the hopelessness that Hunter S. Thompson describes. Despite it all, I have to agree with the t-shirt, "Life is good." Hope it's good for y'all, as well.
     
  4. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    Where do you people come up with this junk. Don't you have something better to do or you just like to start things. I'm sure glad that my brain doesn't think much beyond the lines of fishing or I could end up hurting myself. It sure is good to be one of the little people that don't get into this line of junk.

    Jim
     
  5. Big Tuna

    Big Tuna Member

    Jim,
    Sounds like you count yourself amongst the "Life is good" crowd.
    :thumb:

    Although I would agree that sometimes these philosophical discussions can become wearisome, it is refreshing to occasionally discuss something a little deeper than the raging Bait/gear vs. Fly controversy that pops up every two weeks (I also participated in the recent poll, by the way). In the end, I don't think anyone is swayed one way or another by opposing viewpoints (just like the bait v. fly controversy), but it's interesting to see where people are coming from. I guess it's just something to do when you don't have a life :confused:

    Have a great day!
     
  6. MDL

    MDL We work to become, not to acquire.

    Life has an endless amount of possibilities. Why is it so hard for people to think of different outcomes for their lives or the environment? If the path your following isn't panning out why not change course. We have a choice in our everyday lives. We live in a Capitalistic Society where the dollar rules. It is how we are raised. Money may make it easier but it does not buy happiness. Who's American dream is it anyway? Is it really yours or your neighbors, your parents or your friends? If you drive an SUV and you want to do your part will you be considered a hypocrite by your peers? Are you loathing out of fear? Is it fear of failing or fear of what other people think? For whatever reason, faith based or not, we have a choice. What's it going to be...That's for you to decide.
    Mike
     
  7. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

    While I wasn't really looking for it, I never noticed any accusations (but there was a bit of fear and (self) loathing present if that is what you meant...)


    Yes. But we are all at least a little hypocritical in some way...

    I guess this is supposed to be hypothetical, but it is a poor tactic (red herring of sorts). Why would it need to be 'all or nothing'??

    You've admitted that you freely participate in the trappings of [American?] materialism (not sure it is unique to America, except that we have more money to throw around, so we look the 'guiltiest'...).

    This clearly bothers you because you see your participation as being in violation to your liberal ideals and environmental concern.

    I think it SHOULD bother you. I see the same problems and have similar concerns. Where I differ from your view is that I see the problem as being greed and corruption. I see the problem as being a world where we struggle to grasp a common moral compass. We are sold a world view of moral relativism and have trouble finding common values to stand firmly on that can bind us together. The result is that we (as a world and a nation) are driven to look out for ourselves first and fore-most. At that level, all that matters is what makes "me feel better, me feel comfortable, me feel good, me feel secure, ...etc".

    So I see the same basic problems as you do, I just don't blame America - I blame people. Mankind. I don't blame capitalism, I blame greedy and corrupt people. I don't blame those who have a lot of material possessions, I blame those who put their love for materialism above all else ("he who has the most toys wins"???).

    Do Americans have a lot of money and material possessions compared to others in the world? Yes. Does that make us 'evil'? Not directly. I personally believe that we as a country and as individuals in this world who have been blessed with more have greater responsibility to look out those less fortunate (not forced to by the government, but out of the compassion in our hearts) and to be the champions\stewards of the environment that we all depend on.

    So yes, I do feel some conviction and confliction when I load up my extra large cart full of bulk items for 'cheap' at Costco. I saved a few $$ at the expense of someone or something. But I don't just shrug it off and throw in the towel and say "screw the environment" and "poor people, what poor people?" I find a way to give back in some way. And the more $$ I have, the more I can give. The hard part is not giving in to the greed and materialism that no matter how much more money I make\save, will find a 'good' way for me to spend it for my own pleasure.
     
  8. David Holmes

    David Holmes Formerly known as "capmblade"

    Kalm,

    I read and re-read the quote re: Fear and Loathing and I'm not quite sure I get it. Do you think it was saying that the ultimate disillusionment was with the whole acid-trip lifestyle? Or was your interpretation that the disillusionment was with the "normal life"?

    If it were the latter, then I'd have to say that most members of that generation happily moved on and have joined the normal life by having kids, a house, driving to work in their Kias and Toyotas and are not disillusioned at all. They've channelled a bit of their "consciousness-raising" into protection for the environment etc.

    If it were the former, and Hunter S and others found themselves disillusioned with the acid-trip lifestyle, well that's no suprise really.

    Yes. Why live with the guilt? Free yourself of those ancient trappings that have nothing to do with anything anymore.

    In fact, like most Americans, you probably give generously to non-profit groups already. Like most Americans, you probably volunteer far more of your time to worthy causes than your European counterparts do.

    If so, you are already ahead (positive karma?)

    Enjoy everything you can in your life, from being outdoors and helping others to that cool new MP3 player that use at the gym to the awesomeness that is HDTV and the convenience of 10 cupholders and a DVD player in a truck.

    Don't be a Debbie Downer.
     
  9. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

    I agree with chadk that this is probably not a liberal vs. conservative thing. America's rampant materialism is our new drug craze, with Costco, Walmart, Visa and Mastercard our new pushers. As Thompson may have been pointing out about a different time and a different type of salve, rampant consumption can't cure our emotional and spiritual ailments. So I don't think giving in to "the guilt free smorgasbord of possessing everything under the sun that makes our quasi capitalistic system so superior" will make you feel better. Americans may have the most toys, but we are not the happiest people as a general rule. Liberals can get caught up with the best of them in the consumption race. Just spend some time in Seattle and you'll see how much your typical liberal, upwardly mobile professional's self-worth is tied up with how big his or her house is, in which neighborhood he or she resides or what wheels he or she drives (e.g., What will people think of me if I buy a house in the part of Laurelhurst that -- gasp -- doesn't come with a Beach Club membership? Will I get any respect from my colleagues or clients if I keep driving a 10 year old Volkswagen instead of a new Audi or Saab?). I think any sacrifice for the sake of the environment is better than none. That's kind of a cop out, but it works for me -- at least until I get my kids through school and college. Multiply your insignificant sacrifices by 40, 50 or 100 million and it adds up. (You may not be saving the world, but you may at least be forestalling its demise!) Those of us who have a choice should strive to make at least incremental additional sacrifices for the sake of environmental quality (not to mention reducing the need to send our youth off to war to defend our access to the resources our lifestyles are so dependent upon). If your conscience tells you that you don't need a 4,000 lb. SUV that gets 10 miles to the gallon just so you can look macho driving to your fishing destinations or that you don't need an acre of petrochemically maintained lawn just to gain acceptance with your social or work peers, listen to it. It's okay. :thumb:
     
  10. _WW_

    _WW_ Fishes with Wolves

    I reckon some people may sometimes just think too much. I suppose that is why I like fishing so much; you either catch 'em or you don't. Not much gray area in between that!
     
  11. Kalm

    Kalm Member

    Of course I think too much! How else do you explain this tortured thread? :p But I like fishing too, and while catching is great, even when I don't catch it's mostly fun. And it's usually all the gray areas (great scenery, learning opportunities, music, commraderie, the drive) that I find almost as endearing as the catching itself.

    Thanks all, for replying. My questions about giving up and not worrying about over consumption were asked rhetorically.

    Chadk, You summed up my feelings almost perfectly. It's amazing that despite being polar opposites politically and spiritually, we philosophically share many of the same views. And btw, I never doubted your intentions in the american dream post.

    I politicized my comments because concerns for the environment should transcend party affiliation, but that unfortunately isn't the case. And that's where Hunter S. Thompson comes in. He certainly was no liberal, but he wrote with amazing clarity and honesty. I think part of his dissillusionment came from a disgust with the establishment for claiming moral superiority when it it was not. So in today's world, when conservatives claim liberal views to be self loathing or un-american, or to trumpet the virtues of an "ignorance is bliss" approach to how our lifestyle effects the world around us, I call bullshit. It reminds me of the band playing while the Titanic sank. In some respects the opposite is true. One might submit that the self-loathers are those who deep down realize there might be a problem, but rather than do something about it (or even give it consideration), criticize others for thinking or acting conscientously - right before they bury their own heads in the sand.
     
  12. Bright Rivers

    Bright Rivers Member

    It is not just conservatives who are pinning liberals with the self-loather label. More and more, I am hearing liberals use that and similar terms to try to figure out where the democratic party has gone wrong. The smart and honest liberals are taking a hard look in the mirror and seeing that they look less like the “Party of Hope” and more like the party of despair. Again, I am not telling you what I think, but what I am frequently hearing liberals say of themselves as they conduct their post-election introspections.

    I think the reason liberals have been pinned with the self-loather label is that they tend to be quite good at describing our problems, but a little vague when it comes to proposing solutions. And this is a departure from the party’s best traditions. Where are the Herbert Crolys, the Eleanor Roosevelts, and the Martin Luther King, Jrs.? Today’s liberal thought leaders seem to be more observers than participants. Whereas the old Left had specific reforms to offer, the new Left seems satisfied to simply sit in judgment; a complacent elite. But if democrats want to become a more relevant party, they are going to have to become more pragmatic, and propose some very specific solutions that will capture the imagination of America’s moderates.

    The Republicans did a good job of this in 1994 with their “Contract with America.” Whatever you think of the Contract itself, I believe it worked to gain a Republican majority because it enumerated specific and relevant solutions to address conservative concerns. It was the epitome of pragmatism, promising that “within the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, we shall bring to the House Floor the following bills, each to be given full and open debate, each to be given a clear and fair vote and each to be immediately available this day for public inspection and scrutiny.” It included ten specific proposed reforms.

    So here’s a question for you democrats: What would a Democrat's “Contract with America” look like? If Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid charged you, the democrats of wff.com, to draft a Contract with America, outlining specific reforms to propose in order to capture the minds of the electorate and secure a majority in both houses, what reforms would you propose? We all know what you are against. Here is your opportunity to show what you are for.
     
  13. Jason Baker

    Jason Baker Member

    That's a dirty trick BR! Solutions? Come on.....
     
  14. Kalm

    Kalm Member

    1) Develop a renewable energy source. Throw everything we have at it. Win the race to develop sustainable energy technology like we won the arms race against the soviets.

    2) Protect the homeland by a) eliminating the Department of Homeland Security, efficiency is what's needed not an extra layer of bureacracy b) strengthen border security (including shipping), and c) kill Bin Laden - cut off the head....


    3) Fix healthcare. Medicare reform, tighter regulation of insurance and pharmacuetical companies, health education.

    4) Publicly fund all elections.

    5) Education reform. I know, I know, No Child Left Behind blah, blah blah, but I mean actually fund it this time. Place a greater emphasis on higher ed and vocational training.

    6) Mandatory 1 year of civil service for all 18 year olds. Military, corps of engineers, forest service - whatever. The last thing the average American teen needs when they first leave home is the unsupervised freedom of a college atmosphere. Especially the men.

    7) Eliminate Federal Debt. Do you really want to be owned by China.

    8) Snuggle up close to China. They may own us soon, and at at least are well on their way to becoming the next super power.

    9) Make up with allies, get them to help fund the war on terror and Iraqi occupation er I mean redevelopment.

    10) Raise Taxes. We're at war, time to make sacrifices...

    Oops, I guess I just lost any hope of regaining power. Oh well, I gave it a shot. Anyone else?
     
  15. chadk

    chadk Be the guide...

    1) agree
    2) a) Maybe. But going back to the way things were before is not an option. Better communication and sharing of info cross departments is a MUST HAVE. b) Agree
    3) agree
    4) agree. Inlcuding no loopholes like 501s or whatever they are called (moveon.org, etc)
    5) agree
    6) interesting. could work...
    7) agree
    8) snuggle? I'd settle with establishing diplomatic ties - but this is a touchy area
    9) agree
    10) possibly. MUST include required govt audits at all levels. Cut the fat. Hold people accountable to budgets. Privatize or find a way to force competition. No results, no money.
    11) social security reform of some kind
    12) Torte (?) reform
    ...
    ...