Sunday, September 20, 2009

The cure for a bleeding heart

I’m reading a book titled Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. According to this autobiographical tale, John worked for years as an economist whose main job was to cajole third world countries, especially those of geopolitical significance to the US, to take out huge loans that he knew they couldn’t afford. The loans were supposed to be used for infrastructure development. The developers the countries hired would naturally be US companies. Once these countries defaulted on their loans, as Perkins says everyone knew they would, they would be indebted to the US. This indebtedness would make the countries much more likely to cooperate with US interests all the while leaving them in sometimes worse conditions than before. Perkins struggles with his conscience throughout, but all of those sleepless nights and pangs of guilt never stops him from doing his job. His heart bleeds for the poor and downtrodden of these nations, but he keeps selling their governments on loans he knows they can't repay anyway.

And that illustrates one of my main problems with bleeding hearts. So many of them are hypocrites of just this type. By the time Perkins writes this book, he has seen the light and is attempting to make amends by spreading the word about the evil empire that is the US. What isn't spelled out in the book is that he now runs high priced seminars discussing the topic of his book and self help subjects in general, in luxury locations and at little economic risk to himself since he apparently remarried well. Which would earn my admiration normally. After all, he's moved from exploiting third world countries to a public all too ready to feel guilt about its relative wealth and to project shame. The bleeding heart leftist tone his book has taken so far is too annoying though. He doesn't have the good sense and the courage to admit what he's doing and enjoy the game. He condemns the imperialist agenda of US corporations while acting as one of their chief agents. Liberals like this so often pass judgment on the greed of others from their McMansions and cross the world preaching the virtues of environmentalism using their private jets. And liberals aren’t the only type of bleeding heart. Social conservatives for example wail loud and long about the evils of abortion and the virtues of being pro-life while exulting in a righteous crusade against Islam, which they euphemistically call a “War on Terror,” and are in love with the death penalty. So much for that pro-life thing, huh? How can conservatives also be bleeding hearts? For the purposes of this post, you know you have a bleeding heart when you romanticize something out of reality and despise anything or anyone who contradicts your fantasy.

Suffering from a bleeding heart doesn’t just breed hypocrisy. It’s blinding. The bleeding hearts of the world refuse to see the realities staring them in the face. Liberals refuse to acknowledge that changing society and government won’t transform a selfish and often dumb human nature, while conservatives refuse to see that there is nothing sacred about the past or tradition and that sometimes innovation is necessary. Those are just two obvious examples. By not seeing and grappling with reality as it presents itself, you make yourself ineffectual, inefficient and ineffective. You make yourself stupid.

What’s the cure for a bleeding heart? A huge dose of reality. Become a realist. Open your eyes. Become curious about the world around you. Take in as much of it as you can. Learn to describe it as you see it and not as you wish it would be or could be. Then go deeper. Look for the roots of what you see. When examining other people, look first at their deeds and not their words. Practice detachment from your own feelings and behavior as well to gain as much objectivity about yourself as possible. In all these ways and more, you can make the switch from romantic idealist to pragmatist, from bleeding heart to realist.

21 comments:

  1. I think some people actually fear the truth. Its just plain cowardice. The truth is enlightening, and as ugly and cold as the truth may be id rather have that shoved in my face then a softer prettier version to cover the festering boil. When people sugar coat, it doesn't help one bit. It prolongs the agony if anything else, it lulls into a false sense of security and lays down precarious foundations.
    I understand that the truth can often make people uncomfortable, but sometimes raw emotion is needed to make progress. Everybody hates to hear the truth to a certain degree about certain things because it reflects exactly how imperfect the world and ourselves really are.
    Im a complete pain in the ass, i know this, i don't always like to be reminded of it, (i get pissed off actually lol) but its sobering when i am, because its true, and i admire anybody who isn't afraid of the truth.
    If a person is aware of the truth then they are much better equipt to face a situation head on. However if a person is unaware of the truth or flatly refuses to accept it then more fool them i say.

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  2. When will somebody shut this dumb cunt up.

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  3. Maybe I'm the bastard, but I always just assume 'bleeding hearts' are lying or being manipulative.

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  4. Harry, the bastard. Abort your fetuses while you can, people! He's on to our sham!

    I don't know if I agree that I'm a bleeding heart liberal, but I've definitely been accused of being one. Which is strange because I'm only a dyed in the wool democrat because I love to kill babies and save criminals from execution. And since I really do think that gay marriage WILL be the downfall of all of civilization, and that sounds kinda cool to me, I'm all behind that gay agenda. Suckers!

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  5. i remember seeing an interview with this guy a while back, and yeah, the book sounded interesting, but i had that feeling that it would suck in the long run.
    your last paragraph is very true though, ...those who speak, don't know, those who don't speak, know.

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  6. Being both a realist and a bleeding heart is not mutually exclusive.

    The world would be even shittier by several fold if it hadn't historically had some realists with intellects sufficient to imagine that things could be better, and doing something about it (pragmatism).

    Noam Chomsky is an excllent example of a man who is able to not only see the world as it is, but make piercing moral judgements about it.

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  7. Also:

    Liberals refuse to acknowledge that changing society and government won’t transform a selfish and often dumb human nature...

    I'm not fond of sweeping statements to begin with, but isn't this unfair even without the hyperbole?

    Is this really ANY politician's agenda? If I were one to make sweeping statements, I would lean toward generalizing that politicians and those that vote for them don't want to transform society to change people, they just want power over people.

    And as far as the dumb and selfish go...well, isn't it obvious? Republicans want to help the selfish and Democrats want to help the dumb. But not change them! If there were no dumb or selfish people in the world, we'd have one of those democracy-thingys I keep hearing so much about.

    I don't know why I can't have a political conversation without having my tongue firmly planted in my cheek most of the time. *shrug*

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  8. Harry Lime said, "Maybe I'm the bastard, but I always just assume 'bleeding hearts' are lying or being manipulative"

    LOL. In my view, being a so called 'bleeding heart' is akin to being a 'true believer'. They have to sincerely believe the malarkey in order for it to work for them in the way the really want it to.

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  9. Said Sarah:

    Republicans want to help the selfish and Democrats want to help the dumb. But not change them! If there were no dumb or selfish people in the world, we'd have one of those democracy-thingys I keep hearing so much about.

    I quite agree. If you had your druthers, would you have one system over the others (Democrat, Rupublican, democacy-thingy, or misc)? Would things be improved or worsened by people being unselfish and un-dumb?

    You said you're a dyed in the wool democrat for less than obvious reasons. Do you think governance (or lack thereof perhaps) could be improved in particular ways?

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  10. "LOL. In my view, being a so called 'bleeding heart' is akin to being a 'true believer'."

    Yes, but it's the 'true believers' who always seek to profit from their cause or gain authority and influence.

    John Perkins is a great example. His book has sold well and I'm sure he's scored plenty of speaking engagements. If he took a more pragmatic view of his previous career he might not be nearly as successful.

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  11. Harry:

    It depends on what we mean by “bleeding heart” & “true believer”. I define true believers as those who are zealously committed to a cause, organization, person or ideology, irrespective of the facts. I don’t think that’s too far off from ME’s definition of a bleeding heart. At the very least, they move in the same definitional circles. These are the people who will believe, with and especially without, factual grounding. They may profit, but that will always be incidental to their real motivation, which is their devotion to their dogma. (Or perhaps I should say they will define profit in terms of their fidelity to their beliefs.) That devotion in turn is, in my view, motivated by their craving ego validation, but that’s another story.

    I haven’t read the book referenced in the post, but if I take ME’s word for it and using the definition I’ve stated above, John Perkins appears to be a mere wannabe true believer. He wants to be a liberal, he feels the feelings, but he doesn’t actually act on any of it until it suits him, which is just happens to be years after the fact, years after he’s made his money. Belief without action is fantasy or as the Bible says, faith without works is dead.

    And you’re right, the author might not be nearly as successful as he is if he were more pragmatic; he might be more so.

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  12. I don't care much for politics, you only have to look at what these M.P's/ Prime ministers have in terms of fortune to know they are full of shit... (yes Mr Brown i mean you)
    I have never even been able to be arroused during political debate. It makes me yawn actually. I have no idea why people get so imflamed and passionate about men who "market" and "advertise" their shammy little "products" to gain a "majority" vote, only to then go completely back on their "words" as soon as they are in "power". Only there is no "refund" and eventually its the masses who get fucked up the ass whether they voted for that man or not. Its a win/ lose situation. Politicians are laughing all the way to the bank. They don't really care about their "popularity". They just want people to "think" they care about the masses. Are people really that fickle??? I bet they even wipe their backsides on 50 pound notes then flush them down the toilet without a care in the world for the soldiers fighting with insufficient kit. Then do their "little" press conferences the morning after they have slept in their pure silk sheets, to "advertise" to the world how dedicated they are to their "cause". Politics is just a cleverer form of celebrity and i don't buy it.

    I bet they have all the alcohol, cocaine and prostitutes their money can buy them.
    Id never waste my time reading a book on politics. Theres little truth in their words. And if that makes me a dumb cunt then so be it. lol.

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  13. Changing the subject slightly (though from that shiny new featured comment it's clear you already had a bit of a run-in with Dr Robert): http://www.askdrrobert.dr-robert.com/Sociopath19.html

    What do you think? I've read quite a few of his posts since I saw his comment here this morning, and I reckon I agree with your assessment of that father/son reply; but some of the rest of what he says appears pretty sound. I saw this one, and wondered to what extent you'd agree with his assessment in this case, seeing as it's another potential sociopath.

    Anyway. Your site is brilliant. Thank you very much for writing it; it's the only place on the internet I've found where your friendly neighbourhood sociopath can go and not be judged for it.

    Anja.

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  14. "And you’re right, the author might not be nearly as successful as he is if he were more pragmatic; he might be more so"

    Hmmm . . . I would love to know the circumstances that prompted is career change. I have a funny feeling that it has less to do with a crisis of conscious than some other professional failing.

    It's difficult to know someone's internal process when they act on their beliefs. Most of the dogmatic idealists I've seen up close had clearly aligned their beliefs and personal interests. Not sure I care if their sincerity influences their goal or if it's the other way around ;)

    I'm more wary of 'true believers' than I am of the ordinary people who want to sleep well at night.

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  15. ”It's difficult to know someone's internal process when they act on their beliefs.”

    I’d say it’s impossible to know. We can, however, make educated guesses.

    “Most of the dogmatic idealists I've seen up close had clearly aligned their beliefs and personal interests.”

    Me too actually. I suppose that’s because, as I said earlier, their true desires are largely being fulfilled so the conventional definition of self interest doesn’t apply.

    “Not sure I care if their sincerity influences their goal or if it's the other way around ;)”

    I do. The sincerity of their beliefs are potentially useful tools. I’d handle an idealist differently than I’d handle a cynic, for instance.

    “I'm more wary of 'true believers' than I am of the ordinary people who want to sleep well at night.”

    I agree. I think the 9-11 victims would also agree.

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  16. Anja said...

    http://www.askdrrobert.dr-robert.com/Sociopath19.html

    What do you think?... another potential sociopath[?]


    fraid so. perhaps you'd like a sociopath's insight--try sending a follow-up letter to m.e.

    check out www.sociopathworld.com/2009/07/sidetalking-sociopath.html, since you're thinking of outing yourself.

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  17. Orm Embar,

    I believe certain governments work for certain cultures and that it is relative to the values at that time. So, a system that is put in place is only there because it works. I don't believe in an ideal government system. I think what keeps a society moving and growing is that it is adaptable and open. A closed system leads to chaos and disorder - it's not just in physics.

    I'm a democrat because I would never be a republican. A democrat by default. And I think it's ineffective to vote for a third party candidate in an election where it's already known that he/she has no chance of winning.
    I guess you could say I have a special relationship with entropy (tongue in cheek). It's like betting on rolling a seven with only one dice in hand. I've got nothing against sevens, but if I'm going to play I'm going to focus on the variables. I have no control over what is certain, so I focus on the unknowns. It's kinda something sociopaths innately understand, that others have to learn: You can only control chaos.

    So basically, I don't have an ideology that I favor, because I don't see that as the variable of success.

    I'm sure that there would be societies I would hate to be in more than others. But, objectively, that wouldn't mean they are fundamentally 'bad'.

    I've seen the question many times on this blog...what would a society of sociopaths look like? To me that's an oxymoron. We are the fringe, by definition, no? There would be no society of sociopaths, just probably clusters of tribes living in either isolation or constantly fighting for territory and resources.

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  18. More people need to be on http://sociopath-community.com/

    !!! it used to be connected to this blog but was disconnected over a year ago. We need fresh blood and lots of interesting things have happened recently (relates to kiwifar.ms drama: https://archive.is/M2tXa) that will go down in the forum's history! Be sure to check out http://www.psychforums.com/antisocial-personality/ too, as some of its regulars are regulars on SC too!

    Goddamn ME refused to reconnect the blog to the forum so we SC goers will just have to spam advertisements for the forum in the comments section. ;)

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