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Sci-Phi: The Politics of Inertia

An excerpt from "A Language of Metaphors" by J.D. Casnig




Newton's First Law of Motion: "An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."


Casnig's First Law of Motions: "There are two types of troublemakers in the world: those who want change, and those who resist."


We seem to associate freedom with change, and stability with comfort - a quick glance at common camping personalities reveals this nature. The light and freely changing trailblazer contrasts with the "bring everything but the kitchen sink" homesteader. When these two characters collide, the results are  of political proportions.


In much of the world, the liberal platform is often confused with socialist agenda, simply because socialism is not such an established form as, say, theocracy or monarchy. Liberals tend to come from the boiling landscape of the city, while their conservative counterparts have a stronghold in the subdued pastoral settlements of their forefathers.  [Here's an article reflecting on this phenomenon in the 2000 American election, from USA Today:



We associate "radical" with "change"; just as we associate religion or royalty with "tradition". These bindings are quite escapable, but rarely without division. The Church of England was a child of such dissent: a sect based on the ability to divorce. The original (parent) church preserved its traditional ethical vector, while the king pursued his own, more liberal vector by splitting off in another direction.


We also associate "youth" with "change", just as we may find the elderly "set in their ways". As Winston Churchill said, "If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 40, you have no brain." Perhaps our youthful dynamism eventually settles in for the long haul. We may even see this phenomenon on the store shelves.


The blue = liberal, red = conservative motif of American politics is not a global standard by any means. Each political party of each country chooses its banner in a process ranging from destined or dictated to random or arbitrary. Once established, however, these become entrenched into the landscape of the product base. A purchase of red, is a conservative vote; a purchase of blue, is a democratic vote, the purchase of a third party color is a wasted vote.


The soft drinks Coke and Pepsi can be divided by color: Coke, with its certain red branding, and Pepsi, with its patriotic  red-white-and-blue background, but clearly blue branding. A quick evaluation based on color would indicate that Coke is "conservatively" thirst-quenching, while Pepsi sates more "liberal" palates. If this were true, we might expect to find it in their respective marketing campaigns - especially the most successful ones.


If you live in North America, you would not pass through a winter without seeing that Coke supports Christmas - and especially Santa Claus. Our modern red and white cellulitious image of Santa is, itself,  a marketing success of Coke. Nothing could be more indicative of conservatism than tradition itself. Christmas in America now has a tradition of red, white and Coca-Claus.


But as classic an icon as Santa, the 1980's brought in a combination late-baby-boomer/early-generation-X bursting with fresh, exploitable latchkey hush money. Introducing "New Coke". "New", being synonymous with "young", would signify Coke's acceptance of the defeat of the "old", as the bold social changes of the 1970's all but wiped out "family values" and "tradition". This so-called "New Coke" was often criticized for tasting like a Pepsi knockoff, being nothing more than "Old Coke" rhetorically formulated for a decidedly young target market ("Coke is it!" campaign). Soon after this legendary marketing fiasco, enter the old version of Coke with a new name, reminding us of tradition: Coke Classic. It seems that the loyal customers of this traditional beverage were not interested in change, and needed a reminder of this in the new title.


Then there is Pepsi - the choice of a new generation: Generation Next ! "Choice" is freedom; and "new" and "next" equal change (...and let us not slip by this overtly subliminal "Generation X" !). How about "Pepsi - For those who think young!" All total, the rhetoric of Pepsi talks the talk of youth and liberal thinking, but will it walk the walk?


Moonwalker Michael Jackson had a good run with Pepsi, just as Madonna got into the groove of things as well as the Spice Girls and, as above, Britney Spears. We can't ignore the fact that the outrageous likes of the Osborne's and Austin Powers seem oddly juxtaposed to R&B fixture Ray Charles and soulstress Aretha Franklin - but on closer examination the common factor is that they've all kept their cool. But how to tap into the Coca-Cola-conservative stronghold of the heartland? Enter Gen-X country diva Faith Hill. It seems that since the early '80s, Pepsi has somehow found that the fusion of youth, music and soda makes for a sellers market and a shareholders cakewalk.


[Perhaps it should be no surprise that eventually, Coke would introduce Cherry (red) Coke, while Pepsi would later match marketing steps with Pepsi Blue. The battle for color-branding notwithstanding, both companies agreed with a platform of cola flavored with a fruit, to stay in line with the broader market trend favoring fruit-flavored beverages, while retaining a color basis in their respective choice of fruits.]


Coke and Pepsi, then, could be stated as ideological opposites: that of tradition versus that of change; that of convention versus that of innovation; that of experience versus that of exploration; that of "old hand" versus that of "up-and-comings"; that of the classic versus that of the new; that of set versus free; that of established versus that of enterprising; that of aged versus that of young. Grouping these associations, we get: Coke (red) = Conservative = tradition, experience, old hand, classic, set, established, aged, and; Pepsi (blue) = Liberal = change, innovation, exploration, up-and-coming, new, free, enterprising, young. These are strikingly familiar terms - they are the stuff of politicking; the nails that hold together a political platform.


And when such political points are hammered into yielding minds, say through countless repetition to a captive audience, the combination can result in both empires and outhouses.


The McCarthy era set a standard for virtually every aspect of day-to-day living, demonizing artists as "free-thinking anarchistic commie robots". The Iron Curtain was drawn, and America secreted itself from being changed by these invading forces. This deemed threat of political infection led to a few of our more memorable societal antibodies, such as the "Comics Code", "suspected communist" blacklists, or such propaganda films as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".  Ironically, America would be under far more thought control from within, than was ever threatened by its "enemies of conscience". But it was only trying to preserve its way of life...


The youth movement of the '60s became the cultural revolution of the '70s; a seemingly unstoppable force of change. This destabilization of American culture became a part of the culture itself - a built-in "steady state" social upheaval which would, in itself, die a rhetorical death of a thousand cuts with the condemnation: "politically correct". It seems that the direction we are headed in is as fixed as the traditions we departed from. Ironically, we've become set in our revolutionary ways!


The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.
—Hannah Arendt


Conservatism is Newton's "object at rest" just as "Liberalism" is Newton's "object in motion". Whether an object or politico is stationary or moving, it resists change, being determined in its existing status. Within a political forum, board or committee meeting, "making a motion" is quite aptly named, as it will be deemed rebellious by the conservative members, or stubborn by the liberal members. This results in the following Sci-Phi statement:


"There are two types of troublemakers in the world: those who want change, and those who resist."


We see that "making trouble" is as much about  "bucking tradition" as it is about "not going with the flow". This is useful in determining that nature and human nature may not be so sharply divided: we use and understand metaphors surrounding motion and inertia with surprising grace, as if our understanding of physics is an unexplored second nature to us.   Recognizing this perpetuates a consolidation of our understanding. Why? Because inertia, energy and change are omnipresent features of the universe. Whether through the sobering stability of gravity or the flightiness of the energetic, we seem to readily accept in every corner of  our rhetoric that:


                 the ultimate in stability is to stand still while much time moves and                 much force is applied


while,      the ultimate in change is to move a great distance while time                  stands still and no force is added.


or            the limit of stability: {  d =  0 ; t = ∞ ; E = ∞  }        

                the limit of change:  {  d = ∞ ; t = 0 ; E = 0  }


where "stability" refers to an object held in state or direction; and "change" refers to any change of an object's state or direction.


By substituting each of these elements, such as "project" as the object, "funding" as the primary source of energy and "the team" as a secondary source of energy (conductor, if you wish), we get the example:


Lacking further funding, the team decided to abandon the project.


To abandon, then, is to remove the energy, will or driving force from an object or vehicle. Typically, when a project runs out of spirit or money it becomes abandoned. A team spirit is often kept going by cash incentives. Bonaparte's "An army marches on its stomach" is as true of food energy, as it is of fighting spirit, since one prominent side-effect of hunger is depression (ultimately "lying around all day doing nothing"). The segment "an energetic spirit" describes one's will as being a carrier of energy, as to have an empty spirit is to be without life. The phrase "investment1 is the lifeblood2 of progress3" naturally follows, with cousins "money1 powers2 a projects development3", "financial backing1 keeps innovation moving2 forward3" or "capital1 directed into2 an industry keeps it growing3".  (Small wonder we resign that "money makes the world go 'round".)


[Note: realistically speaking, since (apparently) energy cannot be created, all so-called "sources" of energy are, in fact merely "conductors"]


Should a project enter a coma, it can be revived. Applying the commonly accepted project-rescue terms "cash flow",  "injection of cash" and "liquid assets", results in the implication that money takes an otherwise motionless solid and makes it move forward or turns it (back) into a liquid. Further, this suggests that there is no elemental difference between a "moving solid" and a "liquid" - which stands to reason: a solid plus energy will move along a path; a solid plus energy will become liquid, too. Whether the unified motion in a single direction of a flying solid, or the sum of individual molecular movements in all directions of a standing liquid; distance, energy and time are expressing themselves through matter (and what exquisite digression may unfold under "pressure"...!). 


If this is true, then when energy abandons liquid matter, it would result in solid matter. A freezer causes energy to abandon matter. Since the matter will then hold its position, for a lengthy time, highly reluctant to change from outside energy, it clearly is "approaching the limits of stability", and is therefore preserved. Frozen in state, we see, by a "cold-blooded" conservative! ("ice in ones' veins" = refrigerant in a fridges pipes; where "warm-blooded citizen" and "hot blooded" refer to other, increasingly energetic and involved and impassioned  spirits.)


Whether in song or statement,  color or catchphrase, galaxy or glass, inertia ensures that true change is always difficult - equally for the sedate and the energized. Friction, then, may be considered the true test of change, being that brief period of flux before inertia settles in for the long haul. The Big Bang still echoes into whispers across eternity and within our very choice of words, paying homage to Newton, and reminding us that the universe is full of cousins.


Compare: 1) "Death march" vs. "lively rhythm"

                2) "Wurthers' Originals" (candy)  vs. "Starburst" (fruit chews)

                3) "Established" vs. "up and coming"

                4) "Defensive stronghold" vs. "offensive attack"

                5) "Stick to one thing" vs. "find a direction to go in".

                6) Depressant vs. stimulant.

                7) "Cool down!" vs. "Up and at 'em!"

                8) "Put a damper on..." vs. "more fuel for the fire"

                9) "A diamond lasts forever" vs. "weekend getaway".

               10) "Investors are seeking comfort in the stability of gold" vs. "panic among

                      investors led to volatility in the equities market"


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