Alien Anthropology

Geopolitical Exasperation

Exasperation is a condition of annoyance, irritation and frustration. It is a word that is perhaps best used where feelings of futility or powerlessness are also significant contextual factors. My own persistent experience of exasperation has been in professional and intellectual contexts. The central focus of my angst and frustration is that of being unable to effect change in contexts where those who hover or loom above me in the hierarchies of organisational or non-partisan political and organisational governance fight tooth and nail to control narratives and structures which I can see are clearly anachronistic and futile.

All of our social, cultural and psychological lives are deeply-infused with contested, political and interpersonal psyvhological drama. While politics itself is really for the most part just shameless self-interest and ethical alignments writ-large, it does provide a useful abstraction with which personal interests, offensive or defensive strategising and economic or professional leverage can be attached or detached at will and for effect. Political life starts with friendship or gossip and plays out on a broad spectrum which summits at national or international idealism, contested meanings of best social practices, conflict and self-interest – it is a literal continuum of reflexive self-identity and intra- or inter-personal subjectivity at scale.

The nature of international disagreements and conflicts is a curious beast. While the actual reality of war, conflict and all other political variations is exquisitely complex beyond the comprehension, intelligence or aptitude of any person or select group of administrators, the requirements of intelligible, civil discourse and communications tend to invoke strategies, analogies and metaphors more suitable to family or village life. This is no accident. It is a consequence of a generally unacknowledged and politically unsavoury fact that no one, no world leader or political party of any ideological flavour, actually deeply or comprehensively understands the complexities of our world with the clarity and intellect that their various benedictions and manifestos claim.

What happens when you can not understand a thing, a concept, a reality in which you and your own best material and ideologucal or economic interests are deeply invested? What happens when you can not control those artefacts and entities of the world upon which your continuing tenure and existential survival depend? The answer (or at least one common answer) is to seek out that sub-set and taxonomy of things that you actually can control or understand and then seek to hyper-inflate the extent of your control of that narrowly-defined representation of reality. The flip-side of this control-seeking is to also enthusiastically pursue a vigorous narrative intended to hyper-inflate the importance and historical, ideological or national and international significance of that diminishingly small aspect of reality that you can at least partially comprehend, with a clear and repetitive message of your ascendant omniscience and superior skill in whichever intellectual paddling pool you have selected.

This is the reality of our world. The truly clever ideas and foundationally disruptive innovation (that I think we can all agree that we are in desperate need of) are filtered through stultifying layers of institutional or organisational hierarchy and variously-expressed political and ideological self-interest. We are a single, gestalt, global technological civilisation that understands and interacts with itself on an international stage through personalities, narratives and psychological methods demonstrating a sophistication characteristic of high-school rivalries and the narcissistic economic and political pedantries of a misguided, ignorant and egoistic control-seeking child. My compound question: Is this all good actually good enough; is this acceptable; should we be content to observe our world slide into endless entropy and conflict; can we all, quite simply, expect more and be (and do) better than this?

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