“It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair.
We live in an era of illusions. This is the normalcy that has been abruptly ripped out from under us as we face lock down. Each society is founded off a prevalent illusion that it must maintain to give itself the veneer of legitimacy. This is because our brains like things to make sense, we want to believe there is some order in the world even if that order is built off twisted logic. Stereotypes operate off this principle. They are based off a fixed image you create in your mind. While some of them may be grounded in a grain of truth the damaging aspect comes from the fact that you have imposed a fixed image on someone else – no matter what they do because of this fixed image they are either automatically labelled as conforming to the stereotype or threatening it. One of the common stereotypes I have found is that Asian students are somehow magically more capable than their western counterparts. Proponents of this view point to high PISA scores (forgetting that in China’s case they only self-select their best and brightest – only the best students from Jiangsu, Beijing, and Shanghai three of the richest parts of China participate), the importance of education in Asian cultures, and the prevalence of Asians in the white collar professions.
"If you aren't careful the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X
"We don't hit the road cause we are thugs
Don't come out the womb wanna sell drugs
If we got the right guidance and love
Would we fight people just like us?
How could I knock the hustle to get by?
How do you think I ate as a child?
Judge no one, done many things wrong
Just don't boast about em in songs"
- Akala, Fire in the Booth Part I
*Note this is an opinion piece in response to
Confucius once said that the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their name. It sounds like something you’d pull out of a fortune cookie, but the more you think about it the more it makes sense. After all the motto of my alma mater (Latin for that place which charges you 30,000 dollars for a fancy bit of paper) is sapere aude – dare to be wise. It seems fitting that I should exercise the capacity for wisdom, instilled upon me in exchange for a kidney and my firstborn child, especially when it comes to reading the news.
“I went to the police like a good American. The two boys were arrested. They were brought to trial. The evidence was overwhelming and they pleaded guilty. The judge sentenced them to three years in prison and suspended the sentence. They went free that very day. I stood in the courtroom like a fool and those bastards smiled at me. And then I said to my wife: ‘We must go to Don Corleone for justice.’ ” - Amerigo Bonasera, The Godfather - Mario Puzo
"What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." - Francis Fukuyama The End of History and the Last Man
The biggest criticism of democracy is that people are too ignorant and stupid to know how to govern. So sayeth the wealthy elite who insist that only they, the natural aristocracy, can rule and that they are the leaders, and we are the followers. The dynastical scions of the landed gentry will puff out their chests and point to their Ivy League credentials and gold plated resumes as irrefutable proof that the ordinary person is too stupid to have a say in how things go.
Democracy is one of those weird and nebulous terms that few people can agree what it actually means. Ask a ‘Classic Liberal’ (the invisible hand will provide) and he will quote Plato and call Democracy mob rule. Ask an American and they will say it’s when you (so long as you aren’t a member of the American Territories, a felon or ex-con, and are able to jump through the requisite number of hoops and take a day off work) tick a box for between two pre-selected candidates who are either red or blue once every four years.
One of the most deeply embedded arguments against left wing politics is that it somehow doesn’t understand economics. Taxation is theft. The state is coercion. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Won’t anyone think of the innovators? Socialism is great until you run out of other peoples’ money.
Born somewhere between the old world of Korea and the new world of New Zealand Isaac is an award winning writer, teacher of literature and nomad currently residing in Nanjing.