02 August 2006

Outcomes: anything else is self-indulgence

The US is the evil representative of capitalism. Capitalism will lead to the perdition of humankind and destroy everything, including friendship. Imperialists are lower ranks of human or even sub-animal because they dropped a nuclear bomb on a city.... Hugo Chavez, Venezuela president, speaking at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 1 August.

I have long thought that outcomes should drive policy. And I've long suspected that many of the people who heave bricks through fast-food cafes when they protest against 'capitalism', or perform similar stunts allegedly in support of environmental objectives actually have another agenda. Certainly they're not doing much for their ostensible cause (how else to explain the re-election of the disastrously incompetent Bush administration?). But they do boost their self-esteem and successfully advertise their moral purity to their cohorts.

Sometimes advocating outcomes above everything can seem a lonely pastime So I was glad to read this message from Kathyrn Compton to the editors of Grist magazine:

.... Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the blabocracy wouldn't stand a chance if the liberals, progressives, and greens hadn't worked so hard at making the working-class stiff feel stoopid for his lifestyle and his choices. Their movement gets its oomph from the proud working person's backlash against exactly the snarky attitude your article demonstrated.

If you want to keep appealing only to your core readership, carry on. But if your goal is to actually grow the environmental consciousness of this country and preserve a hospitable climate, you might want to take a look at your own prejudices and see what they're costing our planet. If we want the green movement to be embraced the world over, wouldn't it be a logical choice to encourage the most global of all global corporations rather than ridicule every step they try to take? ....
It's an important point. My fear is that the genuine human need for bonding with like-minded others can easily be channelled exclusively into a rage against 'the enemy'. Then there's an equal, or more-than-equal and opposite reaction. Pretty soon the issues are so polarised and politicised that dialogue becomes impossible. The cause has been subordinated to our own status seeking and it's always easier to fight for your principles than live up to them. And there isn't enough fighting in the world?

So I keep chanting my mantra: let outcomes drive policy. Not ideology, not spending, politics, activities, nor institutions' need for self-perpetuation, nor our need to boost our fragile self-esteem.

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