January 28th, 2007
|01:57 pm - Risk, stress, change, happiness and health|
In thinking more about my previous post, I realized that it might be worth exploring my comments about how progressive social democracies like the EU generally seem to work to reduce risk, violence, and to a large degree stress in the lives of their citizens. I have heard some libertarians and other conservatives claim that reducing violence and increasing comfort and contentment make people docile, complacent, and easily led. Thankfully, psychology has now proven that this belief is nothing more vile nonsense. Instead, I've seen an abundance of recent data that suggests that stress, abuse, and harsh life conditions, especially in childhood produce various forms of long-term problems, ranging from PTSD to depression similar problems. This fascinating post discusses some of the issues involved. More data can be found in this article and many other like it. It seems very clear that reducing risk, stress, and violence and increasing comfort, health, and the general sense of safety (in short, helping people to be content and happy) allows both children and adults to be both physically and psychologically healthier, and so produces the exact opposite of what the conservatives claim. However, it's also clear that fear and stress are excellent ways to encourage inaction - people who are depressed or afraid are far less likely to make deliberate changes in their lives or environment. So, removing stress and risk will almost invariably lead to more change, which is ultimately why conservatives like the idea of a populace that is stressed and a culture where risks are not reduced or ameliorated by the government - doing this encourages blind conservatism and discourages personal and social experimentation, which is, I firmly believe, why much of the conservative reaction in the US to the 1960s and early 70s happened as it did, it was a deliberate effort to alter the nation so that similar sorts of periods of questioning and experimentation would be more difficult.
Totally with you on this. We are a nation controlled by fear (the mindkiller).
Speak it loud and proud.
As a society we have too much bad stress.
|Date:||January 29th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)|| |
From the look of the evidence, there's not much in the way of good stress. Short-term stress that can be rapidly resolved (such as the fear generated from performing some risky-seeming physical activity) seems perfectly fine, but all lasting stress seems to be bad for people.
Good stress causes people to do things. Lots of people won't get stuff done without a deadline, especially if they don't want to do it (like dishes and homework). They did studies, and people perform better with a little bit of stress. Also, exercise iiiiis a form of mild stress.
|Date:||January 29th, 2007 06:33 am (UTC)|| |
I have no clue where you got this strange idea that libertarians are against reducing violence and increasing comfort :P. Really, we're just don't sanction the use of force except in response to the use of force. That's it... a very simple concept, and nothing to do with what you're talking about. Of course, some people are morons, and I'd say that political philosophy has very little to do with that. It isn't like there is a moron test to join ANY political party or ideology. A shame, perhaps.
|Date:||January 29th, 2007 06:37 am (UTC)|| |
Oh, and being a taoist... my whole philosophy is one that rather upholds complacency and docility, sort of. There isn't a contradiction here at all.
|Date:||January 29th, 2007 07:43 am (UTC)|| |
Most libertarians I've encountered have been on this macho Robert Heinlein-like trip about self-reliance, self-sufficiency, defending yourself with force (IOW, lots of guns), and going on at length about the alleged virtues of social systems which punish people for failure (using no shortage of words like "responsibility" & "consequences", while maintaining a general attitude of social darwinism. The number of libertarians I've encountered who spout this sort of idiocy both exceeds the number of conservatives I've encountered who do, and the number of libertarians who don't. While it's clear that some libertarians don't, it certainly seems to me that most do feel this way.
Have you not encountered lots of self-professed libertarians who feel this way?
I'm not sure Heinlein is a good example being a sexist prig with a orgy sweat fetish.
|Date:||January 29th, 2007 09:22 am (UTC)|| |
Given that a substantial majority of the libertarians I've encountered practically worship him, he seems like an excellent example. I take great joy in reading their reactions when I (quite honestly) say that I thought the (awesomely satirical) film version of Starship Troopers was vastly superior to the novel.
|Date:||January 29th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)|| |
What's wrong with being self-reliant/sufficient?
I agree that the whole "lots of guns" thing is annoying. I'm not a big fan of gun control because history has shown that an unarmed populace WILL be walked on. But I don't see it as this rallying point that some people do, and it isn't something to flaunt. Guns and macho BS don't mix well.
I didn't come to being a libertarian through the more usual Heinlein or 2nd Amendment hard-on routes... I acknowledged it because of my daoist philosophy and anti-war bent. It seems a deep hypocrisy to me that a group of people who scream against war will turn around and propose to hire mercenaries to rob the unwilling at gunpoint via tax collection. If we REALLY want peace then yes, we have to accept the "responsibility" that comes with that. There won't be peace so long as people use force to attempt to make other people to conform to their worldview; what we will be giving up by not doing so is the idea that there is one "right" way to live for everyone. I'm convinced that using force to try to make people change their minds is simply going to backfire.
But I'm sure you won't agree with me, so I'm going to leave it at this.
One insidious thing the media is doing to make experimentation more difficult is given below.
Under the guise of an informative article about New Technology (TM), the media keeps writing the same thing: "X percentage of employers surveyed by Pollster Y now base their hiring decisions partially on what people post in Popular Online Blog Z." The article invariably suggests something like "Post a 'professional' blog instead of a social one."
The underlying message? "We are watching you. You will censor yourself EVERYWHERE if you want to survive. NOTHING is private. Privacy no longer exists. Without us, you will not get a job. If you don't work, you don't eat."