Here’s the thing. People want to matter. They want their lives to matter. It’s intrinsic to human nature to not want to be invisible, forgotten, dismissed—unimportant and unheard.
And despite a lot of flowery language that’s come out of the last century, and a lot of purported work toward the dignity and importance of every human individual, the fact is that nobody believes any of this fluff. The truth is that the plebes don’t matter, and in fact are generally held in detached disdain, and they know it.
Their desires don’t matter.
Their suffering doesn’t matter.
Their preferences and loves and family members don’t matter.
Their work doesn’t matter.
Their potential doesn’t matter.
Their futures don’t matter.
Their lives and deaths don’t matter.
Their identities don’t matter.
Now I’m not talking “matter” here in some transcendental, meaning-of-life sense. I’m talking socially, in relation to the gestalt of the population. Hundreds of millions of such people in our society, and billions worldwide—huge swaths of society having particular demographic characteristics—are cut off from any sense of social importance or acknowledgment.
The . half . that . rules . does . not . give . a . shit . about . them .
There are some within these swaths of the population, possibly a slim majority at the moment, who know, instinctively, that to a very few someones they do actually matter. To their parents, for example, or to their siblings, or to their kids. To the other parents at their school. To the gents at their neighborhood corner store, whom they talk to every morning.
Such people have this instinctive understanding—which is at the core of both Trump and Brexit—that if they don’t matter when the circle is “large-scale society as it has been,” but they do matter in far smaller circles, yet “society” controls so very much about their lives… then the most obvious thing to do is draw the circle of “society” in a much smaller way.
They’ll seek include those to whom they matter, and exclude those to whom they don’t matter, hoping to give the people to whom they don’t matter less input into their lives. Hence Brexit and populist nationalism. “Don’t care about or respect me at all? Then I don’t want you to have any say in my life. And I’m going to try to reshape ‘society’ so that you’re not in it and thus have no effect on me.”
Meanwhile, there are also some that understand full well that they matter to nobody. Absolutely nobody. Their entire experience of life consists of being accused and being negatively sanctioned. Zero empathy, zero ties, zero care. And the accusations keep coming, from everyone around them, and from “the public” at large.
Everyone is determined to make them into a disposable, anonymous scapegoat at best, or into an “enemy of polite society” at worst. So… eventually they give in to the role. “Okay, I’m the enemy. Of everyone. I get it. It’s me vs. all of you. I get it. It kills me but I get it.”
Now they’re identifying with the role. And with the knowledge that no one cares, and that’s by design, and in fact they are quite literally hated at best by most, and loved by none.
Well, what’s the point of life at that point? And if these people all hate you and consider you an enemy, why not fight that war a little bit out of spite, since there’s nothing and no one that you value in life to take care of? You didn’t ask to be born, yet you’re punished for it by essentially everyone that you encounter. Hence shooter.
As long as we have “baskets of deplorables” held to be such by half or more of the population, we will have the other half of the population wanting to redraw the boundaries of society to be more insular and close-knit and giving rise to a few who, crying out in pain and giving in to hopeless nihilism, decide to exact revenge on being itself by exacting revenge on everyone to whom their very unrequested existence is an unjustified and regrettable burden at best.
People who matter to other people, and know that they matter to other people, will not harm the people to whom they really actually matter. Not hipppie-dippie SJW “every life has dignity” matter that’s basically corporate boilerplate from the social media society—enabling us all as a herd of virtue-signalers to feel good about ourselves. I mean actually matter.
I mean really—no bullshit—matter to people. When you matter to someone in a way that is not negative (i.e. “you matter to me and I want you to exist and to have a good life,” not “you matter to me because you are the male white corporate oppression and I want to smash you” or various analogs thereof), you don’t kill them. You don’t harm those that positively, personally, and generously care about you. It’s really not that complicated. But you’d think it was, based on all the nutty discourse.
And even though it’s not complicated, it is hard. Because positive, personal, and generous regard is precisely what our highly activist culture no longer does. It can’t even understand the previous sentence. It asks, with incredulity, “Wait, positive, personal, and generous regard of the enemy? Surely you jest!” QED.
Look, people want to feel that they—and their individual life histories, preferences, likes, and dislikes—in other words, their selves—matter, positively, to those that shape their lives. And they will seek to structure their reality so that their life is directly affected only by those to whom they matter—or, if they don’t matter to anyone, so as to relieve the immediate pain and practical tyranny of the pariah’s existence.
People don’t need to rule or be famous or anything. They just need to not be forgettable dogshit, or worse, He Who Must Be Destroyed, as far as “Society-capital-S” is concerned. No amount of shallow activist talk, collectively or individually, and no quantity of activist bromides about justice and the “arc of history” is going to fix this. To those affected, it all sounds like the adults in Peanuts cartoons. “Wah wah, wah—wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah.”
In other words the problem with our society is that bullshit detectors are going off en masse but the elites, the chosen, the privileged, and the virtue-signaling popular kids imagine that the solution to the problem is a lot more bullshit rather than the hard work involved in seeing, acknowledging, sustaining, and embracing the basic humanity of people who are—yes—quite different from you. Look, they didn’t ask to be born either.
Our machinery for generating and sustaining social ties and social solidarity is broken. We are, generally speaking, a culture of narcissists who broke it on purpose in countless acts of activism that we’ve mendaciously sold to our concerned consciences for fifty years as “justice” when in fact it was really little more than our best Veruca Salt impression and remains so today.
If we want to have a large-scale society, we’d better rediscover a time when we saw in each fellow citizen and person—even if a stranger—someone that we legitimately valued as a fellow human being in our society, regardless of their background or views. Remember “tolerance” in the ’90s? Even that was a big step down from honest-to-god social solidarity, yet we’ve backslid a hundred times farther since then.
Simpler, for the activists: Hate the sin, love the sinner. If you hate the sinner, they’re just gonna sin against you for hating them in the first place.
Fix this and everything else will fix itself.
Sadly, there is almost certainly no way to fix this without or before the catastrophic collapse of the current global social order, or of many current national orders.