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The Raw and the Cooked

By Sylvia McCullough, Published in the Record Patriot, August 17, 2022

Anthropologist Claude Levi Strauss, (The Raw and the Cooked, 1964), defined civilization as a society wherein what counts for “normal” is agreed upon generally, what you might say is “cooked” into our social fabric, where certain behaviors and perceptions are taken for granted, i.e., the world is round, lying and cheating are wrong, truth and science are good, children are entitled to receive a standard education, and the majority rules. There are many more. Outside of these common understandings lies the metaphorical “wilderness,” according to Strauss. Where society breaks down and what is “normal” takes on the bizarre shapes of raw, wild conspiracy theories that are allowed to proliferate on social media platforms, where lying is the norm, science is ignored and crimes against family, community and humanity go unpunished.

It seems to me that Strauss was onto something that we today can no longer take for granted. Since the advent of the Cult of Trump, what we once thought of as civilized behaviors, lines that are not to be crossed in the service of power and greed without severe consequences, are breaking down. What we have instead are politicians cow toeing to Trump’s “Big Lie” hoping for elected office. DeSantis “suspending” an elected judge who doesn’t agree with him on women’s reproductive rights, rights that the majority of Americans support. Infowars founder Alex Jones sending mobs to attack the bereaved parents of the slain children of Sandy Hook in the service of gun manufacturers who fear censure. A Republican extremist party that seeks and supports the overthrow of our Democratic system of government in hopes of establishing authoritarian rule by a minority of homophobic, xenophobic, white supremist, misogynist, old, white men.

This friends, is wilderness personified, where raw chaos reigns. If you are sick and tired of this attack on our agreed upon norms and Democratic values, please get out and vote for candidates that are invested in their neighbor’s wellbeing, support public education, affordable housing, affordable childcare, women’s reproductive rights and mental health care for all who need it. Vote Blue in November!


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