Monday, February 07, 2011

The Personality is the Political

Looks like somebody needs to put one of those breathalyzer ignition interlocks on their Blogger dashboard:

I was in rush hour the other observing some self-centered dude blocking four lanes and snarling traffic for blocks to spare himself a minor inconvenience and it occurred to me that the logical result of our recent embrace of vulgar libertarianism is a total breakdown of social order. Even in rush hour traffic where it's vital to everyone's survival that we observe certain norms, there always seems to be some entitled, selfish ass in an expensive car making it worse for everyone else these days.

No, if vulgar libertarians ran society, every road would be privately owned and require a toll at both ends, so I doubt you'd see many scenarios like the one above, because the exorbitant cost would prevent most of us from driving anyway.

But that's neither here nor there. Hey, y'all! Would you like to see what happens if we all were to filter our everyday experiences through a stunted, warped mentality that insists on framing absolutely everything as a partisan political issue? Well, gather 'round and let me spin you a tale! When I was a teenager, I used to do volunteer work at a recycling center in a university town. You can imagine a lot of the typical patrons: ponytailed liberal academics, idealistic students, affluent suburban bobos. The kind of people who shopped at the organic grocery up the street and probably had at least one bumper sticker or t-shirt from Northern Sun. Now, one would think, wouldn't one, that a person who has invested the time and energy into keeping their trash and recyclables separate and driving to town on their own time to dispose of the latter would care enough to do it right. But bitter experience speaks through me to you and swears that it is not so.

I could not have kept count of how many patrons (we called them "inmates" of the "psycho center"), having brought themselves all this way, refused to walk the additional thirty yards to the other end of the parking lot to dispose of whatever they were holding. You could tell them at a glance. "Excuse me, where does the brown glass go? Oh. Down there? In that bin? Oh..." They would look at their destination, back at the bag of imported microbrew empties, back at the other end of the lot...and sure enough, you'd find that bag sitting on the steps of the newspaper trailer a few minutes later, right behind where they had been standing. Half of our day was spent just removing all the material that some illiterate, lazy bastard had insisted on dumping in the wrong bin while we were otherwise occupied. These were the same types of entitled, oblivious twats who would hand their bags and containers to anyone nearby with dark skin or a working-class appearance; my friend Brucekowski once had to mollify an angry black academic who was on the receiving end of that treatment from some clueless yuppie woman, despite his expensive suit and Mercedes. And since we started this conversation speaking of vehicles, I saw a few accidents in the parking lot, where nothing more complicated than a three-point turn and a 10 MPH speed limit was involved.

Just one more anecdote, you say? All right, then! A school friend of mine who worked at Whole Foods once thanked me for bringing my cart back to the store before ranting about how many customers left theirs out in the parking lot—initially, the store must have figured that their save-the-earth clientele would be conscientious enough to walk the carts back themselves out of a spirit of hippie camaraderie. They soon learned better, and put cart returns in the lot so that people could save time and a few steps and get to the gym faster, where their expensive membership allowed them to run in place on a treadmill.

What does it all mean? I ask myself as I sit here in reflection on my mountaintop, running my fingers through my long white hair. Just this: a significant number of human beings are short-sighted, selfish, and thunderfuckingly stupid. They act that way on foot and behind the wheel of a car. Are they the majority? I don't know, but there are certainly enough of them out there to ruin your day if given half a chance.

5 comments:

noel said...

To be fair to Digby, libertarians make a virtue of being an asshole, even if they're really no worse than others.

The Vile Scribbler said...

To be fair to Digby, she probably just had a few too many while watching the Super Bowl.

Seriously though, this is what happens when you spend all your time reading political blogs and obsessing over cable news trivia like she does. The nation has survived little hiccups like the Gilded Age, the Depression and the Civil War without devolving into a "total breakdown of social order"; I think it's pretty safe to say that it'll survive a Republican majority in the House and the election of Rand Paul without turning into a Cormac McCarthy novel.

I wonder what political philosophy she'd blame for the way they drive in Egypt or India...

noel said...

Conservatives have been saying liberals are responsible for TBOSO for decades (actually, millenia). Turn about is fair play. We want to do fear mongering and hyperbole too!

Brian M said...

Scribbler: I, myself, and I would argue that Egyptian and Indian drivers simply need more JESUS.

LOL J/K. Seriously, if you own a car in India, you are pretty priveleged. Hence...assholeness should be expected.

The Vile Scribbler said...

Car, hell. The people riding bicycles and elephants are just as maniacal and dangerous.