Friday, 5 April 2013

The benefits of rational sanity

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed. "It's the best there is," Doc Daneeka agreed.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

According to the Telegraph, a large number of potential claimants aren't re-applying for disability-based benefits, leading to claims that they're all malignant scroungers who have been fairly caught out. The voice of 'rational sanity', as ever, from the Torygraph.

Yet, maybe there are other reasons for this and other such avoidance of the benefits system.

Perhaps sick and stressed people don't claim benefits for fear of making themselves even more stressed and sick. This may seem irrational, even insane. But the rational and sane decision not to apply for benefits suggests that it's the benefits system itself which is irrational and insane in keeping already stressed and sick people away. Of course, the benefits agency would likely say that the very decision of the stressed and sick not to apply for benefits indicates their rational and sane ability to judge their situation and, thus, their sane and rational ability to function and work. In considering the tortured logic of the benefits agency's irrational and insane assessment, the rational and sane person may feel even more reluctant to apply. This, of course, may leave them even more sick and stressed, if, at least, still more rational and sane than the irrational and insane benefits system that's foisted this irrational and insane choice upon them.

Comprehension of the wider system of power is largely guided by the same kind of fear, apprehension and resignation we feel about authority and how it imposes its irrational, insane rules on the rational and sane. Indeed, rational and sane people can be encouraged into accepting almost any kind of social, political or economic control. Capitalism, particularly neoliberalism, as a system is premised on outright winners and losers, with inequality, worry, degradation and misery for billions all celebrated as the hidden hand of sane market rationalism. In other words, it's irrational and insane.  Yet, try telling most rational and sane people that capitalism is irrational and insane. The rational and sane mind may actually realise that capitalism is irrational and insane, but must react in denial of this, largely because to believe otherwise is to accept one's own possible irrationality, even insanity, in even considering such an idea. In effect, even if you don't rationally and sanely believe so, it's seemingly more rational and sane just to say that it's irrational and insane to say that the system is irrational and insane. However, this still bestows upon the system an undue sane rationalism, leaving the supposedly rational and sane person facing the ongoing irrational and insane-inducing dilemma of whether to keep saying the system is rational and sane or make that really rational and sane leap in actually calling it irrational and insane.

Corporate journalists will likely enunciate the similar view that it's irrational and possibly insane to claim that the corporate media is irrational and insane in protecting and reinforcing all the irrationality and insanity of the wider corporate-driven system. The Telegraph journalist who wrote the above story would likely call this blogger's reading of it, and the rest of this blog, utterly irrational and worryingly insane. One must, of course, leave sane and rational readers to judge whether such an assertion is sane and rational or irrational and insane. But to what extent can rational and sane journalists rationally and sanely comprehend the irrational and insane world of journalism they really inhabit? The self-defence of such journalistic rationality and sanity is nowhere better seen than in the rejection of claims that climate change, the irrational and insane destruction of the earth, is anything to do with the irrational and insane process of rampant corporate consumerism, or, more precisely, that such irrational and insane journalism is in itself feeding that irrational and insane process of eco-destruction through greenwashed reports, fossil fuel advertising, evasive editorials and other such irrational, insane copy. Speculating rationally on the very sane proposition of calling corporations, corporate media and corporate life at large not only irrational and insane but criminal and psychopathic in these regards takes us into a further whole dimension of rational and sanity-seeking thought. But that's another question which, with a rational and sane eye on space, time and rational/sane reader weariness, may be best left for the moment.

Is drawing attention to all of this irrationality and insanity in any way rational or/and sane? Perhaps not, for it can easily make one feel increasingly and uneasily, what's the words..., even if that's a seemingly imagined or even self-indulgent irrationality and insanity. On the other hand, feeling a rational obligation to highlight such insanity, sometimes with a rational and sane humour, can keep one grounded in the sure knowledge that while irrationality and insanity rages all around, the rational and sane mind can see corporate existence and the irrationally insane forces supporting it as the darkest possible form of irrationality and insanity, an insane irrationalism so insanely hidden and irrationally denied that the very irrational insanity of such deception and denial helps keep us questioning everything we understand, or rationally and sanely think we understand, as being rational and sane. A Kafkaesque inversion of irrational insanity, or what?


Rose said...

Yes John - I've often been accused of disappearing up my own fundament, but take comfort from the fact that at least it's mine, and no-one else's.

As you say grounding is all - and these clowns fall over their own feet, so sometimes all that needs to be done is to point out that the twerps have no clothes on - money in tax havens is not circulating and therefore not doing what even capitalism demands of it - ie "growing"; welfare and benefit cuts are counter-productive; the crooks fall down even by their own miserable standards. Mark Steel seems attuned to the zeitgeist for effective trumpeting of the bleedin obvious to a wider and younger audience.

Meanwhile I in my small corner plug away, and am grateful to you in yours, for the pure clear light shining through th'encircling gloom. Now how's that for a mix of metaphors and hymns? - enough to make my old English teacher's eyes water.

Thanks for a great post.

John Hilley said...

Thanks for that lovely message, Rose, and your mellifluent melding of meaningful metaphors.