Liberal Drift and Empathy Deficits


How the Organic Apple of Discord Cost You an Election

(a polemic)

This is a polemic. It is an intentionally contentious argument phrased with combative language and composed of proscriptive ideas and theories which exists for the purpose of inspiring debate on the liberal progressive failure to win the support of the de-industrialized working class. This is also a public service. I, your civic minded polemicist, have done your inward looking inward self-recriminating navel gazing for you. Consider it just another act of uncompensated labor from your radical left-wing working class tattooed white trash polemicist.

You’re welcome.

The Trojan War started because the Goddess Eris Discordia rolled a golden apple into a party she wasn’t invited to. The apple was inscribed “For the Fairest”. Oh, how they fought for it. She was a polemicist too. There is a tradition to this whole polemic thing I do. Hail Eris, Goddess of discord.

Here, I have two apples. They’re apples. They remind me of other apples. They possess all the qualities of apples. Their appleness is beyond dispute. And yet one of these apples has been given a political character that serves well to encapsulate and describe the excess and decadence of well-off white urban liberal Americans. One of these apples is an emblematic of liberal drift, the slow moving slouching transition from egalitarianism to elitism.

One of these apples is natural, organic, non-gmo, and because of the implications of the vocabulary of this marketing it now has an implied moral character. It is natural. It is a ‘good’ apple. And because this apple is now a ‘good’ apple a moral dichotomy has been created where the second unnatural apple will be evaluated.

This second apple was created — like all produce and certainly all apples — through deliberate genetic selection. Then it was sprayed with pesticides and fertilized with fossil fuel byproducts. All of this was done to increase yield, reduce loss, and make profit. This also, due to the moral strain created by the good apple, gives this second apple a negative moral character. It is a bad apple. An unnatural apple. An artificial apple.

But this polemic isn’t about apples. It is about the corrosive effects of pseudo-moral health based conspicuous consumption and class allegiance based peacocking and what that communicates about modern liberalism’s egalitarian principles and what it communicates in the context of its recent electoral defeats.

Fact: The methods of producing ‘good’ apples cannot be scaled up produce enough good apples, good everything, to feed everyone. And I don’t just mean Americans. I mean everyone. Seven billion starving motherfuckers and a handful of well off Americans patting themselves on the back because their Thanksgiving turkey was loved before it was killed and eaten. I’m not advocating vegetarianism or veganism either, I’m just letting you know that when you assign a moral character to an item and the consumption of that item it creates a significantly higher and sometimes unobtainable economic cost of entry you’re not being a progressive liberal. Your elitism is showing. Snobbery too.

Upton Sinclair oddly enough didn’t write The Jungle because he had a point to make about food safety. It was about the workers. Workers who are more invisible now than ever before. In Upton’s day it was Poles in stockyards, and right now, if you go a little south of here, it’ll be Somalis in chicken coops. And they’re invisible. You don’t see them. You don’t want to see them.

The food we eat has always had class connotations and implications and white liberalism’s reluctance to handle processed food says a whole lot about their attitude to the poor. You eat what you can afford. Label me old fashion but hospitality rituals of the past matter. If you won’t share my food with me, I know how you really feel about me.

This created moral dichotomy only further alienates the haves from the have-nots. Spirulina is protein packed, carbon neutral, and ounce for ounce the most expensive protein source on the planet. It doesn’t do the working poor any good at all. When we look at the zero-sum economy of today it is clear that there are people who are doing well and people who are not — and the working class is most certainly not. The word parasite comes from the Greek ‘a person who eats at another’s table’, which is rather apt in this case. Something is being taken. And very little is being left behind for everyone else.

The irony is that the working class has lost its empathy for the other, the outsider. The rural rust belt globalization victim, for all the small towns that lost their industry to the name of progress. The progressive left has fallen victim to the polarized tribalized version of America where empathy and opportunity are extended only to those who remind you of you. Which isn’t even empathy, so much as self-love. And I get that right now some people are saying to themselves, “I’m not gonna have empathy for so-and-so who believes in such-and-such — which is fair to an extent, we all have ideological no-trespass zones. But you have to remember, the more of those you have the less liberal you really are. Are you fighting against totalitarianism or are you just choking on the sour grapes produced by the fact that your own version of tyranny can’t win in the electoral college.

An organic apple, an organic anything, isn’t progressive. It keeps the hierarchies the way they are and they way they’ve always been. It changes no method of distribution or allocation. There is no transfer of power. None. Nothing changes. The rich stay rich. The poor stay poor. The working class erodes. And the people who pick, pack, ship, and sell your apples remain invisible. Which suits you fine as the morality of the apple is really all about letting you feel a little better about having so much when so many others have so little.

Or you actually believe that bunk-ass science about GMOs being harmful.

Which makes you the liberal equivalent of Ken Ham tobacco lawyer answers in genesis global warming denialist.

Which is pretty fucking stupid.

But a topic for another polemic entirely.

And for the cynical part:

Listen, your organic apple isn’t a revolution. It’s the very definition of reactionary. It’s like you want your food to be great again. Like it was back before we had tractors or chemical isolates or genetic science. All in the name of some vague-ass abstract concept of ‘health’ or ‘wellness’ or ‘mindfulness’ whatever the fuck that shit even means.

All I hear in this language is fear. Fear of disease, infirmity, pain, death. Which will all always be with us. Etiam in Arcadia. Even in paradise. Back to nature or not. It will be there. Memento Mori. Remember, you will die. Sooner or later, or now, or tomorrow, or in my particular special case, never. So remember that. Concern yourself with today. People suffer today. Tomorrow is not a promise. Stop squirming. It is undignified. Don’t be afraid. Eat, drink, smoke, everything that can kill you.

Don’t be afraid.

Change what you can while you can.

And we’ll have to work together to do it.

How bout them apples?