Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 6 Share on Twitter 2 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/20/14

Part 1: What Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, And Why Don't I Care?

Author 75339
Follow Me on Twitter     Message Ian Hansen
Become a Fan
  (1 fan)

The lack of on-the-street action can only be partially attributed to lack of coverage. It's not hard to find organizational statements and petitions (e.g. by Doctors Without Borders , The Sierra Club , , , P ublic Citizen , Friends Committee on National Legislation , and the AFL-CIO ) speaking out against the secretiveness and likely harmfulness of the TPP. And Wikileaks , which released a subset of secret TPP draft texts on intellectual property (and, more recently, on the environment ), has a big enough public profile that its leaks should have been a bigger turning point than they have been. Other TPP-reporting progressive outlets like The Nation , Democracy Now! , Bill Moyers , The Guardian , and The Huffington Post have a wide audience in the left-progressive political constituency too.

And news of the TPP has even traveled outside of the progressive bubble to some extent. Alex Jones, the famous Austin, TX-based libertarian (and false flag-obsessed) talk show host, hosts the sites Prison Planet and InfoWars . These sites have many TPP-related reports which have likely reached a good number of libertarians, conspiracy-minded conservatives and others who occupy an ambiguous zone in the divides of ideology. The more mainstream pro-business Bloomberg News has reported on the dangers of the TPP also. This means that the information has gotten out in some form to the people who are most likely to be passionate about it. But still too many the would-be passionate are not as passionate as this multi-level threat warrants.

I'm not saying that no good progress has been made in raising the alarm. The work done by those who have been active has been quite effective against the odds, and the two mid-November letters opposing fast-track from 23 Republican and 151 Democratic Representatives are a sign that even greater victories are within reach with more participation, imagination and determination.

I'm also not saying that every progressive person (or "crabgrass" conservative or whatever) is obliged to shift all their spare time and energy into fighting the TPP. Not everyone capable of passion is obliged to be passionate about any one issue. People should follow their own callings and not diminish the callings of others. It is generally unattractive to indulge one's narcissistic hunger for validation by demanding the enthusiastic approval and committed participation of everyone else on earth at all times in one's idiosyncratic passions and callings. There are lots of troubles in the world, and lots of good things you can do that do not require taking a stand on the TPP right now one way or the other.

Still, the degree of passionlessness over the TPP is objectively mysterious, mysterious enough to register as an intriguing social scientific question. The generally numb progressive response (and, as one blogger complains , Tea Party response) is not well-matched to the TPP's outrageousness, the underhandedness of the process by which boosters are trying to ram it through, or to the number of movements, groups, public goods and democratic institutions that the TPP threatens.

The more values threatened, the less resistance?

In fact, the anemic resistance to the TPP by the most otherwise activism-ready individuals suggests the following disturbing rule: the more people, movements and categories of rights and freedoms that are likely to be curtailed by a piece of legislation, the less resistance that legislation is likely to elicit in the general population. That's perhaps the opposite of what one would expect from a rational species (and it's just a hypothesis, so it might be falsified by more systematically-gathered evidence). But human beings are only piecemeal rational, and there are a lot of cracks in human rationality that are easily exploited.

Consider these facts. SOPA elicited enough outrage among net heads to kill that terrible bill (which would have substantially curtailed internet freedom under the pretense of protecting intellectual property online). The Keystone XL pipeline elicited enough steady public outrage to delay the construction of that fossil-fuel monstrosity--steady activism has kept it at bay for more than five years now. And the vileness of fracking has elicited enough outrage to make certain politicians impose temporary moratoriums and even bans on that climate-warming, chemical-spewing, flammable faucet-making practice.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Supported 4   Valuable 4   Must Read 3  
Rate It | View Ratings

Ian Hansen Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Ian Hansen is an Associate Professor of psychology and the 2017 president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

To Error and Back Again, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Christopher Hitchens, Part 3

Part 1: What Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, And Why Don't I Care?

To Error and Back Again, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Christopher Hitchens, Part 1

Sam Harris and Bill Maher are not racists!

Part 3: The Puzzle of "Liberal" Obama's Support for the TPP

To Error and Back Again, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Christopher Hitchens, Part 2

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: