Disillusionment

In Short:

The process of realizing something you believed in (a person, a truth, an idea, an institution, a system of governance, etc) is not true, coming to terms with this, and taking the opportunity to reevaluating what you had believed to be true with the intentions of finding new meaning.

In more detail:

The term is often misunderstood. It is used to describe someone who once believed in something or someone, an idea or a politician or an institution, only to find out that this something did not live up to there expectations, or ideals — the realization that the thing believed in was not what it was believed to be. And, here begins the misunderstanding: the disillusionment is seen as a bad thing, those unfortunately disillusioned individuals are seen as lost, without foundation, and confused in a fast moving and often ambiguous world, without a moral compass.

The essence of the word needs to be rediscovered. If we are truly disillusioned, we are in the process of liberating ourselves from illusions, from something that was never true in the first place, though we believed in it or them nonetheless. Hooray! We don’t have to believe in them anymore. We don’t have to cling to politicians, political parties, ideologies, political or economic institutions, economic or political systems, social hierarchies, etc anymore, if the rhetoric they spout or the philosophy animating them is no longer understood as true.

We rest, as it stands, on the precipice of mass disillusionment. A series of illusions essential to the functioning of liberal, capitalist democracy, have been exposed for exactly what they are: the ascent of the middle class, capitalism with a human face, the harmonious mutually reinforcing relationship between capitalism and liberal democracy, the achievement of freedom through the nation-state. These are myths of a presiding ideology, deftly crafted and marketed illusions, meant to sustain the system that has now spread across the globe. The system peaks, so the decline must begin.

This realization tends to be part of a longer process of understanding. In its realization, disillusionment can be extremely painful. It is cause for a reexamination of values and convictions. It is a time to reconstruct the institutions though which we govern ourselves, distribute wealth, and share resources.We have good reason to be disillusioned and the process of disillusionment has the potential to be a creative force in the reconstruction of politico-socio-economic order.

What we had, we might realize, we never actually had. This makes it much easier to walk away.

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