It bothers me when pundits talk about “destroying norms” like it’s a bad thing. We should constantly be examining and dismantling norms as a matter of procedure. This is how, e.g., science works. What is a problem is when we replace them with much worse, more damaging norms.
That is what freaks people out about Bernie and causes them to equate him with Trump. They’re both out to destroy our norms! It’s the Norman Conquest!
Our norms fucking suck. This is why Trump got elected. People wanted rid of them so much they didn’t care what came next.
Neoliberalism is a lattice of norms that serve to complicate and hide and rationalize the garbage that people have to go through every day, explaining why they should never hope for anything better. It puts people in categories and places while claiming enlightenment.
Norms suck. They only make sense as temporary placeholders, that you check every fucking time you access them to see if they’re still applicable and relevant. And if not, you replace them with something better. This is how life and knowledge and empathy all work.
As an autistic, this point especially rankles. I get a PTSD trigger out of this sense that we need to adhere to unspoken structures just because they exist, never question them. No, dammit. Always ask, why are we doing this? What does it assume? Who does it serve?
Can we be doing this better? Or is this just to protect the power structure?
Because that’s always what it is, right.
Norms are politesse. Politesse is power gaming.
This is what allows the powerful to set people against each other, by saying, “Hey, that vulnerable group is saying it’s impolite for you to behave like this! The snobs! Are you gonna just take that from them?!”
When you’re all wound up, just being asked to be kind to another person can be confused for more bureaucracy meant to put you in your place. Neoliberalism and fascism both depend on this bafflement, which is what makes them such close allies.
Fascism is all about smashing norms as a gesture of progress, only to replace them with even more restrictive norms, over and over, putting people in even smaller boxes. So it’s exasperating, but for the neoliberal, HEY AT LEAST THEY ARE BUILDING NEW NORMS. AND WE’RE STILL SAFE.
“We” of course meaning the business and pundit class. Not the people who need to live (or not) in this society.
Socialism threatens to take away that whole power infrastructure and give nothing in return, because that structure that demands never to be questioned is itself the problem.
Like, new structures will appear! But they will be built to purpose, and reexamined as that purpose shifts.
I can’t deal with invisible power structures. Which is a big reason I am such a mess. Why I have historically gotten in so much trouble. Sometimes for, like, having the wrong expression on my face. Nobody likes them except those they serve. But I in particular cannot manage.
I have zero sympathy for rounding the wagons and protecting the precious norms. The white settlers. Clutching their pearls.
Dismantle it all. Carefully. Like an archeologist, removing a relic from its crust. Pack it away to a museum somewhere appropriate to show how things were.
Life goes on. Work with those who exist here and now, and those we can reasonably expect to come. Meet the needs that exist in the world.
For the norms that are really trenched in good, well.