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Watching the Social Contract Unravel

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 18:09
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I woke up early this morning, bothered by thoughts about the way things are going lately in the world. Specifically, I was thinking about the unraveling of the ‘social contract.’

What inspired me was watching the series on Netflix called Bomb Girls. Its a great mini-series with a finale movie about women working in a bomb making factory in eastern Canada during World War 2. There is the patriotism of a clearly defined war about preserving freedom from evil powers. Everyone contributed to the war– everyone. Nations came together to support troops overseas and boost internal security at home. And there was an expectation to take care of each other and do the right thing. There were smugglers and cheaters to the system, of course, but the basic understanding was that people had to pull together to survive and keep their way of life.

I couldn’t help but compare that to the circumstances we’re facing now: Endless proxy wars to keep the oil and resources flowing into our empire. Political extremism and rigidity leading to political gridlock. Lack of direction and good teamwork and leadership creating a climate where a narcissistic dictator seems like an option to the more desperate working class and rural poor.

No one trust the government. No one trusts their neighbors. Friendships and family relationships are actually falling apart and being destroyed by differing political views. The social contract is either stretched to its breaking point or already being ripped asunder.

Here’s one opinion piece I read recently on the same topic, Charles Hugh Smith post here:

I don’t agree with CHS across the board by any means, but– unlike some people!– I listen carefully to both sides and all sides in-between the extremes in order to gain perspective.

His basic takeaway?

“Our complex, interdependent civil society will spawn equally complex and interdependent class conflicts as a result. In short: there won’t be one class war, there will be many, raging across social, political and economic battlefields.”

My reaction is, ‘yes and no.’

I think the social fracturing that kept everyone from doing anything productive is starting to coalesce into narrowing things down to the basics as priorities become ever more clear. Just witness the Women’s March. Though there were a lot of people marching over many things, the ONE thing they agreed on for the march was that Trump’s words, attitude, and actions towards women were unacceptable to all participants.

I believe we’ll see more movements and protests getting bigger and more basic to the foundations of what is okay and what isn’t. So-called ‘Social Justice Warriors’ who step in and cause fracturing in such causes with their shaming and ‘virtue signaling’ are being drowned out by more mainstream types who are more flexible. It hasn’t really switched over yet from splintered extreme groups to a more general consensus, but one can see the writing on the wall.

Because those basic things we take for granted like– human rights?– are being directly threatened. Laws and agreements from protecting Endangered Species to preserving National Parks and the environment are being attacked. The Free Press is even getting threatened! Those sorts of major issues have a way of bringing people together even as the many special interests tend to tear them apart.

I know Republican congressmen are getting swarmed by liberals and even some other conservatives at ‘town meetings’ with their constituents. I know that there is talk by even Republican members of how “attacking the press is how dictators begin” and other signs of hope and sanity.

I don’t know that it will do any good. I am buoyed to see it, but not convinced it makes too much of a difference yet. It may still change things for the better, though. The social contract is frayed, but not yet quite torn. Fragile and failing, but still functioning.

Let’s hope for the best, even as we prepare for the worst.


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