Friday, February 27, 2015

Pollyannaism is an act of submission

Okay so I finally figured out why I hate pollyannaism.  There was always an enormous disconnect for me -- because the most pollyanna people I know are also the most depressive.  And so the gap between how they insist that they (and everyone else) see the world (everything is awesome!) and how they are surely feeling inside is quite jarring.  But I always felt bad about distrusting pollyanna people because after all, they were only guilty of being overly sunny, surely they were not hurting anyone -- fake it till you make it right?

But it finally clicked for me the other day -- pollyannaism is an act of submission.  Pollyanna people insist that instead of acting on the information right in front of us that we slip instead into a fictitious alternate reality (a coma really) where everything is always awesome.  The ONLY possible outcome of pollyannaism is to leave the status quo in place.  Strategizing is impossible with pollyanna people because they purposefully ignore the facts in favor of an alternate Candyland reality.

Pollyannaism is an agnotological project -- it is the willful construction of ignorance by weak people who don't want to be burdened with the discomfort and responsibility that comes from realizing that we have a moral responsibility to challenge the status quo.  Pollyannaism is a surrender to protect elites and to show elites that we really mean them no harm.  Pollyannaism is thus a form of totalitarianism, a system where one is not only required to be obedient to a ruling regime, but is required to actually believe, upon pain of death, the fictions of the regime.

To be clear, there is an enormous difference between pollyannaism and the "positive self talk" that athletes engage in.  Positive self talk is a tool for staying focused in the moment to propel one to even greater actions.  Pollyannaism is the opposite of all that -- jumping ahead to a happy conclusion (we always already won already) so as to prevent action even in the midst of conflict.  Elites thus love pollyannaism because it signals surrender and they hate positive self talk because it shows that we are still engaged in the fight.

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