Guys like Iowa Representative Steve King who like to trot out the idea of “individual responsibility” and suggesting that minority students “feel sorry for themselves” and that people should just stop whining… Really don’t get it at all. I don’t know how they remain so insulated or have such hefty denial programs but reality and Steve King rarely cross paths. Kind of like matter and anti-matter… total plutonic reversal if they touch.
Here is my response to that old idea that personal choice and responsibility is all that matters…
Let’s start with this little tidbit from Michael Corcoran which I think illustrates my point pretty well:
As entertaining as the show [Breaking Bad] is, it is important to understand what it is not: a serious analysis of the drug war, the health system, middle-class drug culture or the American experience at all. In fact, the show is very much a demonstration of a very conservative worldview that posits that life is but a series of individual choices. The show, rather simply, attributes the consequences of these choices squarely on the women and (mostly) men who make them. As Chuck Klosterman wrote for Grantland, in a 2011 essay praising “Breaking Bad” as the greatest show of the modern era, the show presents a world where “goodness and badness are simply complicated choices, no different than anything else.” This, he adds, is in contrast to “The Wire,” where (emphasis in original) “everyone is simultaneously good and bad” and “[t]he conditions matter more than the participants.”
Klosterman, in trying to explain why “Breaking Bad” is the best of the great shows of the modern era, is actually, and unwittingly, pointing out its most glaring weakness. “Breaking Bad’s” biggest shortcoming is its lack of systemic analysis of the American experiment, which also happened to be the “Wire’s” greatest asset. In fact, “Breaking Bad” does the exact opposite of systemic analysis; rather than focus on society’s problems from a macro level, it has a laser-like focus on the micro – into the world of one unique man, with unique ambitions and morals. As a result, “Breaking Bad” teaches us a lot about one fascinating man, and almost nothing about the American experience.
Lets talk about the power of knowing you’re just bits of meat in the machine and of knowing you are a slave to a doomed system.
Hope in this machine destroying our planet is misplaced. If you think someone is coming to save you and your family from ourselves, look in the mirror. This is all you. And let’s be clear here; your kids are depending upon you to fix this broken system. But you won’t really be able to start monkey-wrenching in earnest until you are free of ideas that imprison, confuse and pollute your naturally creative human spirit. And by monkey-wrenching, I mean to point out that the new world we are building must be light on carbon, run on renewable energy, and I like to say that in order to have a future at all some dis-assembly will be required. Unlearning things is so hard, but as long as you’re really married to the present system you will lose your way and become either a reformer, or outright entrenched defenders of the oil powered machine that is killing us all. As Mark Twain said; “It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble but what you know, that ain’t so.”READ MORE »