People do not want tangible answers. They want tangible targets. An answer is like an algorithm; it’s a to-do list with formulas. A target is something you can mash, smash or ban and be OK.
When they cannot find a tangible target, they invent one.
If the target is within themselves, they invent an external one.
All of this means that politics is the science of waving red flags in front of bulls, making them charge and then using that inertia to accomplish small things.
What this kind of symbolic politics cannot address is the self-referential nature of democracies. We have invented a civilization-system that is so comprehensive, it accepts nothing but itself.
Political. We believe in liberal democracy, and we think everything else is ignorant and bad and we’re going to bomb it. We are slow to go to war, unless we’re all motivated by being told that someone else is doing it another way. It is as if we fear being proven wrong, but really, we just fear any options. If we are all doing the same thing, none of its failures can be seen by outsiders because there will be no outsiders.
Economic. Our economy in a nutshell: make stuff that idiots like so enough of them buy it to make you rich. It doesn’t matter if you make a better widget; you need to make a widget that is trendy, convenient and appeals to the true lowest common denominator. Any use outside of our society, or societies outside our own, are ignored.
Social. People are either nice or not. They’re nice if they let everyone else do whatever they want to, and then do not get caught publicly wanting things for themselves. If they’re really nice, they wait for the cameras to roll and then start giving money to orphans, stopping AIDS, educating the inner city or any number of other tasks we’ve tried for the last two centuries without success.
Outlook. This society is post-totalitarian because we cannot imagine anything outside of it. Past history was ignorant and cruel; other nations are scary. What we have now is convenience, wealth and happiness. Any other viewpoint is not only wrong, but stupid, and dangerous. Invent new things? Get better? We don’t want anything but what we have.
This ultimately regressive viewpoint leads to a complete collapse of our ability to do things effectively. We do not construct, create or achieve; we sell things to ourselves. We sell services to ourselves. We tell ourselves pleasing lies, and so some of us get elected.
The end result in equality is that each person becomes a perfect narcissist. No one can tell them anything; their viewpoint is equal, after all. They don’t need anything but themselves. The result is a self-referential nation, oblivious to anything but the propaganda it spins itself.
In the meantime, this self-referentialism has another effect: it promotes misery. There are only two options: join the system and be assimilated, or drop out and starve and/or face the wrath of the fearful herd. No wonder so many people seem depressed and exhausted.