One of the most common sentiments you see at many political protests is summed up by this sign. Whether it’s Tea Party types or Occupy Wall Street types, they all believe that they represent “real people” and they express the desire to “take back our country.”
This is the heart of the problem with trying to live in a coercive state based on a majoritarian system. The vast majority live under the delusion that most people are like them, so “our country” means whatever it is that they believe it means.
So when Tea Party types talk about taking the country back for what they believe in, they’re not in the majority. Nowhere close, in fact. But when the Occupy Wall Street types talk about themselves being “the 99 percent,” they’re even worse. They’re just plain delusional.
We’re not one big happy family — and there’s no reason to keep pretending that we have anything other than civic propaganda and a bit of geographic history that keeps us together. Why don’t we let go of the illusion that we all have to live under the same rules? Why don’t we let each other go — and let groups establish their own independent cities or enclaves wherever they can legally and morally acquire the land?
Even though the Tea Party types and the Occupy Wall Street types represent very different (and sometimes nebulous) beliefs, they have a lot more in common than you’d think, especially when it comes to their errors in thinking about “our country” and what most people want. Even beyond that, though, it’s sometimes hard to tell them apart.
The folks at Slate put together a fun graphical exercise. They took a series of photos from Occupy Wall Street protests and from Tea Party protests — and they ask you to guess which is which. In some cases, you can tell. In others, it’s more questionable. The only reason I got a high percentage is that I was guessing based on the culture out of which the people came. Still, the guy with the odd tattoos and the Confederate flag could have gone into either camp. See if you can tell them apart.
Whatever idea you have of “America” or “our country” is a construct of your own mind and the propaganda you’ve been taught — and it’s one that most other people don’t share. It’s time for us to quit trying to force our idea of what everybody is supposed to be on everybody else. That can be the first step toward finding a new paradigm — one that will let us all do our own things instead of continuing to try to force others to live our way.