March 15, 2006

The Law of Conservation of Kvetching

Hatched by Dafydd

I have a theory.

(Actually, I have a theory about virtually everything. Why do you think I blog, anyway?)

I have a theory about protest during wartime. See, I've been trying to understand why a war such as Iraq, for which casualties and deaths are so incredibly low, produces such a passionate geshrei that you'd think it was as bad as the Civil War or World War II.

My theory is that there is a stable human need for psychodrama. This acting out lets us blow off all the accumulated stress and tension from day to day life.

Many people emote by going to football games and acting a fool: going bare-chested in the winter and painting themselves in the team colors; jumping up and down on the seats and screaming until they lose their voices for days; crying inconsolably when their team wins but doesn't beat the point spread.

Others work it out in church: three hundred people singing gospel hymns (in four hundred distinct keys), beating themselves, and flinging reptiles about (to which I take personal exception).

But others get their minimum daily requirement of hystrionics by protesting: by chanting "hey, hey, ho, ho, Western civ has got to go!" By chaining themselves to the Ladies room. By rolling on the ground and speaking in tongues (usually Maoish)... and in general, by acting like jungle chimpanzees when an alien tries to infiltrate the pack. They whine and complain, they accuse and scream, they peel bananas with their feet, they yield to the wild roller-coaster of emotional loop-de-loops that accompanies most protests and "street action."

Puppets. There's usually puppets in it somewhere.

I call this the Law of Conservation of Kvetching: it doesn't matter whether the war is big or small; those folks who depend upon "peace activism" to validate their lives and release all the inner tensions will protest at exactly the same intensity -- whether for Iraq, Vietnam, the Great War, or the War of Jenkins' Ear.

And that's why Cindy Sheehan, John Kerry, Howard Dean, and Russell Feingold metaphorically fall to the ground and foam at the mouth over even such a well-managed and inoffensive war as this... for the same reason that Paul Mirengoff invests just as much passion into cheerleading for Everton as he would for a real soccer team: it's not the war -- it's the chance to wear funny hats and motley.

Anyway, that's my theory.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 15, 2006, at the time of 4:02 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Mr. Davis

The corrollary is the Inverse Rule of Media Coverage; Media Coverage of any Peace Activist Protest is proportional to the inverse of the threat the enemy in the war protested actually presents to the nation.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Davis [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 5:02 AM

The following hissed in response by: Mikey

Lee Harris had an article in Policy Review in August 2002, called "Al Qaeda's Fantasy Ideology" in which he talks about the subject of people in protests who do them not for what it will actually accomplish politically, but what is does for them psychically.

He wrote of a Vietnam era protest a friend had taken part in.

"What I saw as a political act was not, for my friend, any such thing. It was not aimed at altering the minds of other people or persuading them to act differently. Its whole point was what it did for him.

And what it did for him was to provide him with a fantasy - a fantasy, namely, of taking part in the violent revolutionary struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors. By participating in a violent anti-war demonstration, he was in no sense aiming at coercing conformity with his view - for him that would still have been a political objective. Instead, he took his part in order to confirm his ideological fantasy of marching on the right side of history, of feeling himself among the elect few who stood with the angels of historical inevitability."

In other words "It's all about me. What don't you understand about that?"

The above hissed in response by: Mikey [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 15, 2006 7:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Have you read Born to Kvetch yet? It might well offer some support for your theory!

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 17, 2006 7:00 AM

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