This has been the most difficult entry in this series to write. It’s hard to draw a connection between cultural horror and prosperity. Not without falling into an utterly predictable rant about late-stage capitalism or other sorts of yadda yadda yadda. Especially since I live in Europe. People have food, clothing, shelter, education, and health care. Yet they’ve somehow managed to not go full-on socialist. Yes, in spite of dire warning from America state that as the inevitable conclusion to an efforts at social safety nets. Yet greed has to be the center of gravity in this discussion. It really is all about who’s in and who’s out, who is considered deserving and who isn’t, who is allowed to thrive and who is expected to suffer.
Cultural Horror and Prosperity
When you treat everything as a zero-sum game, it means that someone else having a little more means you have a little less. So in order to prosper, you’ve got to take things away from other people. The purveyors of this selfish philosophy rationalize it as okay, because others would gladly take from them. They project their own greed and lack of empathy onto other people. The cultural horror isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.
Prosperity Through the Lens of Cultural Horror
Some people see the horror as a means to an end. They like to state that people have agency, and if they don’t like a low-paying job they can go get an education or training and find a better job somewhere else. They not only control the low wages, though, they actively do things to take away that agency that they claim people should be able to utilize. Education in the United States is not affordable, and drives people into debt. They have to take the jobs that are available, and increasingly there aren’t better jobs to be had.
The bottom line is a particularly insidious form or gaslighting that tells you that it’s all your fault. You’re where you are because you made bad choices. Pile onto this things like the law of attraction, which states that if you’re not rich it’s just because you don’t want it badly enough. There’s prosperity theology, which says if you’re poor it’s because God’s teaching you a lesson. Let’s ignore the things that are outside of a person’s control, and lay a guilt trip on them for maybe not doing everything they could with the things that are maybe, kind of, nominally in their control.
Cultural Horror Through the Lens of Prosperity
Trying to thrive through the onslaught of willful cruelty is both logistically and ethically a tough prospect. So many people are down at the bottom level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s hard to even think about prosperity when you’re constantly in survival mode. It feels like we’re all going to die of weaponized ignorance.
The polar vortex — the result of climate change — is hitting the American Midwest, with temperatures hitting -60° Fahrenheit or lower. That’s extremely dangerous. It’s not that cold here in Finland. People could die. But I still see people cracking wise with the ignorant “We could sure use some of that global warming right now, har har har” remarks.
Washington State just declared a state of emergency because the measles outbreak there is getting worse. Because they’re one of the states that allows parents to refuse vaccinations based on personal beliefs. You remember measles, the disease that had been declared eliminated in the Americas — not jut the United State, all of North and South America — as recently s 2016?
This past Sunday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. A well-documented event. PBS always reruns the documentary “Memory of the Camps” which, warning, has some footage that’s hard to watch. But of course there were people leaving comments denying that it happened, questioning the official number of people killed, and trying to justify why it occurred. The day after, a man legally granted asylum was taken off of a bus, told that his perfectly legitimate papers were fake, and could have easily been disappeared. Now, border agents have authority to check people within 100 miles of the border. The bus was going from Spokane, over 200 miles from the Canadian border, to Portland, almost 400 miles from the border.