Mayhem in the Marketplace Part II:
A Passive Base for a Super Ego

Jean Rath


I love Marvel superhero movies. I love the spectacle of strong, talented people stepping in on behalf of us ordinary folk when all is hopeless. I love watching the mayhem that such Epic Conflict unleashes in our cities. In the Marvel universe, the villains are so nasty that regular citizens like you and me need exceptional people to protect us. We canít do it ourselves. We therefore sit back and cheer on the Almighty Beings that have shown up to rescue us, or we hide in nooks and crevasses to avoid the great mighty slabs of concrete being thrown around. And that is the effect that Epic Conflict has on a crowd: beyond-the-hope-of-mere-mortals passivity.

The consequence of such passivity is personified in those most vile of all pair of humans: Nick Fury and Phil Coulsonóand these two are supposed to be the good guys! But in the Marvel universe, the compassionate Fury and the sweet-faced Coulson are given free rein to trample the passive crowd. They are the face of an all-powerful organization called SHIELD. SHIELD will always protect the crowd from the indestructible villains. The crowd need not fear. The crowd must cheer SHIELD on. But SHIELD can also waltz into a scientistís lab and (with a smile and without explanation) take all her stuff.

And so, although these fantastical scenarios are fun to watch, they must stay in their own universe. They must not enter ours. Superheroes donít fit well in our world; we donít function well as a passive crowd. When a crowd goes passive, governments think itís ok to read all our mail and listen to all our phone calls.

Itís therefore essential that us solid citizens of a real world democracy remain alert. We must not get lured into passivity by Tales of Epic Conflict that political parties and their partisans are prone to tell. They want to be in power, and so they conjure up stories of an evil oppressing villain, and the salvation that they themselves will bring to the crowd. But if we buy into those stories, we might fail to see that the ďheroĒ of the story is an ordinary human like us. And we humans are a very complicated mixture of both villainy and heroism. By cheering on a supposed hero, we may find weíve merely traded one super-ego for another.

So in my ordinary world, Iím not voting based on a personís supposed villainy or heroism. If I want that kind of story, Iíll go to the movies. When I vote, Iím voting for a human. To my limited knowledge and in my limited opinion, that human seems to be ok for the job. But Iím not cheering that human on. No, Iím watching that human to make sure he does his job well. And if he doesnít, Iíll get after him. You bet I will.

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Last updated: 2015/10/22 @ 14:40:26 ( )