Intllectual Hedonism

The story of the end of liberal democracy is one of the decline of shame and honor. Liberal democracy requires the graceful and chivalrous accepting of defeat. We live in an age where people increasingly end relationships through ghosting and over ever smaller causes. The filibuster and abandonment have existed for a long time but were seldom used. People had honor and if you weren’t afraid of some violent or otherwise anti-social reaction, you broke up with a platonic or romantic partner in-person and formally. Yet, that route requires one to have a sense of nobility which like respecting the mechamisms of liberal democracy is a courtesy that isn’t legally enforced. Likewise, one sees increasingly, that standing people up and lying to get out of relationships or awkward situations is happening.

That is to say there is nothing physically or legally between them and what they want so they’re going to grab it. That is what I term intellectual hedonism. Standing someone up, or physical ghosting, is bad and wrong but it is the path of least resistance for anyone too cowardly to handle an awkward situation. In 2019, the Oregon State Senate GOP denied a quorum to the Oregon senate to kill a bill they were otherwise going to lose. Like the filibuster, that is not a peaceful transfer of power but the passive aggressive refusal to relinquish power. It is fundamentally illiberal. Lying is bad but, again, what’s stopping you? Neither human intercourse or liberal democracy can survive the notion that if you want something, to just do it if nothing stops you. Humans will be utterly miserable, in part, because that type of passive aggression leads to a pervasive insecurity about any relationship, platonic or romantic. If it can end for any reason, regardless of the gravity, at any time, without warning, and usually does, that creates a massive amount of stress.

I certainly don’t have any solutions that would impart a sense of honor to lots of people but it is to say that without it, people will make each other miserable and democracy will break. It is the tragedy of the commons. While each individual ghosting or filibuster gets what you want, it erodes a system which keeps people, generally, sane and happy. You must accept the minor discomforts of life like facing awkward olatonic situations because in avoiding them at the cost of another’s greater discomfort, one contributes to a wider mental health pandemic. Yes, cockblocking a single bill may get you the result you want but the precedent breaks the system and one must have the insight to understand the priority of the system over a short-term victory.

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