I have to admit to being addicted to Twitter. I have been using it for eleven months and already I find it difficult to imagine my existence without it. Though, the reasons I joined it are now somewhat different to the reasons I remain with it.
I joined mainly because I was certain in my convictions and wanted to meet others who shared those convictions and to indulge in verbal jousting with those who didn’t. Also meeting others who were excessively concerned with Lord of The Rings, Star Trek, The Discworld, Wheel of Time, Westoros, sport and films was and remains a firm motivator.
I quickly discovered many people I could agree with it on certain ideological or value topics and that being able to call someone a cunt, doesn’t necessarily mean one should do so. Finding agreement, even if only partial, with so many differing proponents of wildly differing ideologies was and remains both confusing and enriching. It has forced me to accept that I don’t really know what I believe anymore.
That’s perhaps a tad trite. To be more precise, the number of ideological issues I had a firm opinion on, has been pared back considerably. My own reading, debates with the denizens of the twitterverse and recommended reading from that world, has caused an innately inflexible mind to open.
The closest I have come to a definitive understanding of my own idealism is to conclude that ideology is itself more a source of division than agreement. Every ideology I encounter appears to have at its core, a utopian sensibility that just contradicts reason. I’m not saying that all ideologies are by their nature inimical to paradise. More that for an ideology to achieve individual and collective nirvana, it must be an ideology held dear by every individual who would suffer its shortcomings.
Take for example Nazism. This incredibly silly idea, necessarily collapsed under the weight of its excesses and stupid assumptions, but consider what would happen if instead of being the National Socialist German Worker’s Party it was the International Socialist Human Worker’s Party. Then imagine the party had the genuine support of the entire population of the Planet.
Imagine the parades, imagine the night time rallies, the book fuelled bonfires and our concerted efforts to mount an invasion and extermination of the evidentially inferior Martians. Of course the inherent wrongness and raging hubris of Nazism would inevitably lead to the destruction of our Planet, but as good Nazis we would be united in our firm belief that this was the fault of perfidious Mercury.
The closest we have come to a consensus ideology is democracy. This however only applies to a portion of the planet and is such a broad concept that two democrats could conceivably disagree on the time of day. The only reason that democracy appears to have survived at all is that it is the preferred ideology of the richest and most powerful nations. Though again this causes another disagreement. Are we democratic because we are powerful or are we powerful because we are democratic?
There are now very few things I choose to believe. I am an atheist. I see this as logical and any case against it, fallacious at best. Thus I see existence as meaningless. This informs my perception of reality at all times. That is principal number one. There are addenda but there is no principal number two.
- I am the centre of my universe and its most important inhabitant. This doctrine is limited by the fact that I am not a sociopath and the knowledge that my existence is dependent on others.
- Intellectually and emotionally I reject the fetters that others would impose on me, in the guise of ideology.
- I am a libertarian, or more accurately I like the idea, but cannot conceive its application in the absence of a 100% buy in by all citizens.
- Nationalism is as big a lie as religion.
- Right and wrong are moveable feasts.
- Life is precious as it is all we have, but in a competition for resources, I’d always favour education over health.
- I do not envy the wealthy.
- I cannot be expected to always be rational, so I embrace the escapism of sport, art, sex and drugs.
- I am against the death penalty in every circumstance, but until we dispense with nationalism and ideology, The West should be ready and willing to shed blood to protect my inconsistent way of life.
- I am a feminist, but as this term encompasses so many different and sometimes opposing ideals, it is virtually meaningless. Suffice to say that if the State was to intervene to level the playing field somewhat, I wouldn’t get all libertarian about it.
And now a short sample of questions I cannot answer to my own satisfaction;
- Would I prefer the security of a big gun or the expense of a solvent neighbor?
- Do rich individuals or nations have an obligation to the poor?
- Is an outright ban on public displays of religiosity illiberal or would it serve the long term goals of liberalism?
- Is the State’s obligation to children inferior, equal or superior to their parents?
- Multiculturalism versus assimilation?
- How does one embrace history but avoid being its subject?
- If Global Climate Change is a reality, do we owe a duty of care to people yet unborn?
- In the absence of a consensus, is it just best to muddle on with our centrist system, which serves to keep most of the people only moderately dismayed?
- Should prostitution be legalised?
- Should I vote primarily on economic issues or on social issues?
Well that is where I am at the moment. Perhaps in a year’s time I will have discovered better questions. In the meantime however we have The Hobbit movie to look forward to and a probable sovereign default. So there is a good chance I won’t be able to afford the broad-band connection which carries these thoughts into the digital world.
And there in lies the biggest contradiction of my confused philosophy; even this arch individualist fears the atomising devastation of an economic collapse.