Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On Minority Values

Understanding economics can be a curse. It can be a tragic knowledge in a real way for someone like me. Absent my understanding of economics, I would be a typical leftist intellectual raging against everyone for not valuing all the things I value, blaming capitalism for not enough people valuing all the things I value. Life would be easy not understanding that value is subjective and, therefore, the only things one can do is either respect everyone's subjective valuations or try to persuade people to value what you value. Or both.

At the same time, I cannot help but sympathize with my leftist intellectual brethren. They are all doing things that very, very few people value at all. The intellectuals who are fortunate to get university or think tank jobs are truly the lucky ones. They managed to find someone who values what it is they are doing. Or, more likely, they have found someone who values something -- teaching -- that is tangentially related to what they really value doing -- intellectual work.

What I value doing above almost anything else is my scholarly and artistic work. But that means that I have to have the time to do those things. If finished scholarly papers and poems are of very marginal value to very few people, almost no one values the time need to work on either one. Nobody cares to give you the time to work on things that few people even care to read.

Given this situation, is it no wonder that so many intellectuals get cranky and wish they could tear down the system? Surely, they think, if they were in charge, people would value truly valuable things, things of lasting value. You know, the things they do. Surely if I were in charge, people would love poems and plays and value scholarship and knowledge. Except, of course, that's hardly true. That, I know. And I know it because I understand economics and the subjective nature of value.

So that leaves me in what one could understand to be a tragic situation. The leftist intellectuals at least have the delusion that the right kind of society would cause people to value intellectual and artistic endeavors. I do not. And at the same time, I value what I value. And I value it deeply. I can somehow communicate to people any number of things very well and very clearly, but not that. I cannot manage to get people to at least understand why I value what I value. My obsessions, my loves are foreign to almost everyone. Even my politics are a minority value. And even those who do value the kinds of things I do value more their own doing it. And that I understand as well.

So I am left with no one to blame for not valuing what I value. I am left not being able to blame society or capitalism or anything else for society being what it is, what it has always been. Very few people value poetry, plays, novels, or scholarship. What I do makes no sense to almost anyone. And so I am left alone with my struggle to realize the things I value in the face of very few supporting me, of very few finding value in anything I do.

I sympathize with leftist intellectuals to a degree. But I'm afraid I know too much to fully empathize with them. And that leaves me alone even more.
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