Thursday, May 15, 2014

Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E9 Triggerfinger, The Dangers Of Altruism and Political Cowardice

Welcome to our journey into the guts of The Walking Dead. What kind of journey? A philosophical, psychoanalytical and political kind. What I would like to do over the next couple months is dig thought the Walking Dead episode by episode to see what it can teach us. Thank you for following me on this journey. I look forward to reading your comments. Be forewarned: There are spoilers everywhere. Don’t forget to check out my previous article in the Philosophizing TWD series: Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E8 Nebraska, Trauma and Object Fetishism

I don't know about you, but the insult, I've had slung at me more than anything when I am trying to push for political change is, “I agree with your point, but I don't like how you say it.” Here Shane and I are similarly targeted by the cowardly altruists. Altruists are terrified of conflict because that have come under the mistaken notion that when you push for social change you should do it in a way that protects everyone's feelings. To be fair this position isn't all altruism, it’s the cowardly side. Let’s put it on an Aristotelian spectrum and get sawing.


The concept of altruism has several definitions ranging from radical selflessness to concern for the general wellbeing of others. For the purpose of this argument I am defining altruism as the ideology where an individual wants to push for the positive gains of everyone at once. I am opposing altruism to two other forms of the concept; us vs. them, and on the right I will call it naive altruism. Us Vs. Them altruism is based on the unstated premise in the ideology of altruism that defines personalized. In Us Vs. Theme them altruism the world is defined by a set of in-groups and out-groups. We care about the group we are in, and do not care about the group we are not in. Essentially it\'s altruism for us and not for them. A good example of this is when George Bush II declared the war on terror. The unstated presupposition here is that we are fighting terrorist for the sake of the United States, and we are not going to hold the same mirror up to our country, nor are we going to pursue white terrorist or hold our war on terror mirror up to situations like the conflict between Israel and Palestine. In other words, the war on terror was focus on benefiting the us over "them", and negating the humanhood of "them" (For example: when the US military does not count civilian casualties of war drones, they have effectively negated their right to be human and be included in the us).

On the far left, naive altruism includes all humanity into one large basket and seeks to promote all human good at once. The obvious problem with this is its presupposition of class and color blindness that views the world as if it is some post-racial and post-class universe. Justifying by thought alone that all of humanity deserves and should all have a positive gain at once is a beautiful idea not based in reality. It is the ideology of do-gooders who think that it is possible to always and necessarily act in a way that does no one even the slightest bit of negative harm down to hurt feelings is possible. The do-gooder stance is the argument Andrea slings at Shane when she says
Andrea: Have you ever considered a lighter touch? ...abandoning the search for Sophia... taking out the walkers in the barn... lying to Lori today... those were all the right calls, it's your presentation that leaves something to be desired. The Walking Dead (TV Series 2010– ) IMDb,. 'The Walking Dead (TV Series 2010– )'. Web. 15 May. 2014.
Who holds the middle ground? Rick and Daryl. Both characters have a healthy balance between the two extremes (most of the time). For example, in Triggerfinger Rick throws himself and others in danger in order to save some punk that was just shooting at him. Rick here is balancing the Us-as-everyone and the us-as-them-vs-us. On the one hand, he aspires to the higher 'nobility' of the cop, he used to be that saves every cat that gets stuck in a tree, and out of the pure self-interest of the group in order to have a hostage to potentially avoid future danger. Another way you could look at it is like this:


The question I raised in my post about Nebraska was what kind of culture is most appropriate for the end of the world? What kind of leadership do you think is more appropriate for the end of the world? The clarity of “them” vs. us that takes action in order to protect a group, or the fluffy flower child leader that wants to hug all the zombies to alleviate their suffering, or the Self-interest altruist who seeks a balance between the two?

Check out the next article in this series: Philosophizing The Walking Dead S2E10 18 Miles Out and Bromance

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