31 October 2007

perverted language

"A Racist: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e. people of European descent) living in the United States regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality. By this definition, people of color cannot be racists, because as peoples within the U.S. system they do not have the power to back up their prejudices, hostilities or acts of discrimination."

I'm quite certain this is not the correct definition, but since I'm white, I'm obviously biased under this definition and my opinion is irrelevant. This is however the definition provided by some universities. This would explain the ease with which it is claimed when it doesn't actually exist, or at least the misapplication of the term.

1.a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
2.a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.
Those are official definitions. They offer up the idea that racism only exists where belief and action indicate a premacy of one race over another/others. Therefore the idea that someone cannot act to impose their beliefs upon those other races doesn't matter. And the condition of someone as a particular race without the associated belief of that race's superiority is not a precursor for racism.

People need to learn the difference between prejudices or stereotypes and actual racism. One is stupid, the other is merely ignorant. I had this discussion yesterday with the concept that blacks like fried chicken. 'Everybody' who eats chicken likes fried chicken. Where does skin color enter the equation? Or hip-hop/jazz music. The top consumers of gangsta rap were suburban white kids. But the stereotype says black people. Jazz was popular with just about anybody at its height and it's often claimed to be one of America's top cultural achievements internationally (read: by white Europeans/Americans). I'm pretty sure this is ignorance and some blank stupidity at work. Racism on the other hand, that's just rank stupidity. It's often very well informed, albeit from a one-sided dimension that nobody else lives in. But still, it'd be nice if we could use terms in a way that actually proscribes with their definition rather than create these blanket proclamation (patriotism is another one that's losing out).

30 October 2007

reefer madness?


Here's the problem with this anti-pot argument. Basing the analogy of speeding creates a leading argument. The assumption is that speeding causes accidents. But statistically, not speeding, or at least driving too slow, is just as, if not more, dangerous. The fact that driving requires a certain amount of attention and responsibility creates an immediate counter-argument. Marijuana and alcohol require a certain level of responsible use, just as that undertaken driving a car. Driving around or performing demanding tasks entails increased risks that are potentially hazardous to others. Thus my conception is not that bland use and possession should be punished. But that irresponsible use should be, just as irresponsible or hazardous behavior is punished in other forums. People who drive around and then cause accidents under such influences should be harshly and severely punished, because their actions had both the accident and a premeditated choice that risked the accident (although it could be said that some elderly people and teens should be in the same boat here). People who amend their habits to provide a reasonable level of caution and safety are to be ignored. Someone who is in a car and intoxicated is not a cause of concern unless they are operating it or directly interfering with the operator. Speeding, while it often pertains a certain level of risk and 'dangerous fun', is often a most prudent way to operate a car. Recklessly speeding, such as weaving erratically at high speed on a crowded freeway, is not. Why the assumption is that any level of activity in this manner is dangerous and hazardous to society as a whole is made is beyond my ability to explain. Suffices to say, the assumption is false. There are a good number of activities that if taken to extremes, such as eating fast food or other junk, smoking, bungee jumping, might be overtly hazardous to individuals and even those around them. But if people are encouraged to exploit these dangers with a moderate view, then we might have the ability to remove those hazards altogether.

The idea that legal restrictions will increase it's use are likewise foolish. Studies have shown that speed rates on the highways are virtually identical before and after speed limits were changed; people drive in a manner which seems best. Pot or alcohol consumption is made generally in a responsible manner by many adults, and their influence on the upcoming generations should be lauded. While it is possible that marijuana use would spike upwards with immediate legalization, its immediate costs in social damage and stigma that it provides would be removed as well. There's plenty of psychological evidence that suggests that part of the appeal of smoking for teens is that it is a forbidden fruit. The appeal for pot is no different, except that it is a forbidden fruit for adults as well. I suspect that while experimental use may increase for people of all ages, this use can be regulated and contained more easily if exposure is more adult and intelligent in it's manner, with a higher premium maintained on treatment for addictive use, rather than it's current manner of arrest, interdiction and detainment. The long arm of the law has done little, if anything at all, to slow the advance into society as a regular or at least recreational product. Perhaps if we changed tactics we might have more success at restricting and removing it's pestilent influences and manifestations in our society and more tolerance for a moderate recreational or medicinal usage.

Incidentally. I don't personally smoke pot or drink, and see no reason to engage in these practices. But I also don't see the point in draconian tactics futilely trying to eliminate a product that poses minimal risks to the user and, if used responsibly, no risks to society at large. With proper and more intelligently designed anti-drug campaigns, funded by the regulated taxes gathered by legal use, production, and distribution and a legal means of purchase, use, and distribution that is properly controlled or monitored, we're in no greater danger and significantly reduce the strain on police to deal with more pressing concerns. This idea does not imply for example that higher grade narcotics should be made legal (it's a possibility too though I admit I have some reservations), rather that the tactics of treatment and prevention/education are simply far more cost-effective than the current means of incarceration and detainment and a far more effective deterrent than imprisonment and fines. Nor does it imply that if a majority wills it, it is right. It is certainly not healthy to simply permit our society at large to consume potentially dangerous products without some constraints.

more whining

"If the atmosphere was a 100 story building, our annual anthropogenic CO2 contribution today would be equivalent to the linoleum on the first floor," D'Aleo wrote.

I'm not quite sure how human activity is supposedly about to end the world, but with Bigger Al winning a Nobel prize and Hollywood producing scary movies about the impending end of civilization, this has gotten out of hand. My impression of the concept of fatalism is that people who are convinced of a certain act are likely to do what they can do to achieve it's purpose even if it's something they do not want. The net result of proposals like carbon taxes and carbon reduction without some ideas on how to replace energy production or, more importantly, reduce energy consumption GLOBALLY (not just in US), is in fact a possible cause of the end of civilization as we know it. An unreasonable solution based on an incomplete facet of a bigger picture is unlikely to bring about the salvation of mankind. I'm very tired of pointing this out.

But in the meantime, the blame thinking continues. Fears of depression, obesity, strokes and respiratory ailments all rising are now to be attributed to global warming. Obesity? I can understand strokes, heat exhaustion or respiratory function being impaired if the temperature goes up. But fat people? Give me a break people.

29 October 2007

nacho cheese

"As the candidate of Doritos, his hands are stained by corporate corruption and nacho cheese" In regards Colbert's 'run' in SC.

The campaign that has chosen to 'attack' first is that of Edwards. Edwards has gone to great lengths to create the impression that his campaign is impervious to corrupt corporations when he is being funded, largely, by trial lawyers. I'm not sure that lawyers are very popular with the American public either, perhaps even less so than the corporations. At least corporations are paying for some of our benefits and income, even if they are occasionally ripping us off or scheming something through Washington. Lawyers certainly aren't seen as social engines of beneficial change, and very rarely do they pay us or provide benefits (basically if we get into trouble or have foolish people who convince other lawyers to sue us). Outside of paperwork regarding estates and some tax/property agreements, I can't say I could think of a useful purpose for lawyers actually outside of a courtroom. Other than that they're probably the only type of person who can actually argue with me and succeed in annoying me. Sophism is really annoying.

Mukasey said the president can overrule a federal statute when the nation's defense is at risk. "There's no such provision in the Constitution whatsoever,"

Good point. I wasn't aware that being commander-in-chief meant that the Constitution becomes subject to national defense in times of crisis. There are reasonable accommodations to make therein, but it's still the big dog of law to follow.

fantasy draft

By the randomness gods, I actually got 1st pick. I never got first pick on anything besides food. Garnett. No brainer. Thanks to the snake format, I then sit around for a week or two before I get to make another two picks in a row.

Lots of sitting around until 2nd-3rd picks. Stole Dwight Howard and picked up Joe Johnson. More sitting. Rasheed Wallace and my sleeper, Corey Maggette (someone has to score on that team).
Lots more sitting. Hilarity when someone picked Elton Brand, who's out for the year. Picked up Felton and Harrington. Battier and Shaq (yes, Shaq was a 9th round pick). Someone snuck in Grant Hill and Kenyon Martin from me (2nd sleeper pick, gaaa). Filler picks, Jamal Crawford, McDyess. JR Smith (only headcase on the team), and Collison last. I'm keeping tabs on Jeff Green and a few others (warrick, Francis) for later use once they start playing.

I saw only two teams with well-put together rosters that I'll have to worry about. The guy who swiped Martin and Hill, though he's weak at C (Big Ben and Curry, does have Gasol too though) and one team with McGrady, Arenas, Boozer and Zach Randolph. There's another team with Bosh, Deron Williams and Stoudamire that is worrisome, but not terribly so. It's pretty thin unless Bargnani gets much, much better. The team that picked Brand was trouble up until that moment. Thanks to that pick, it's not very deep. There's one team that would have been trouble, last year. Except Bibby is hurt, Artest is overrated, Pierce and Ricky Davis won't be scoring as much and Kobe might get traded. So that's that.

28 October 2007

strangeness kids movies

In other news, I watched Children of Men. Good. But.

Not quite sure what the point was, other than this. Children are important. And children are annoying. That incessant whining noise is really grating. Unless nobody's heard it in about 20 years, then it has a certain quality to it I suppose.

nba pickage


I concur. Suns are the only team with a legitimate shot on the upset right now and they tossed it by trading away their only post defender. Celtics just have the big three, which is fun, but chemistry wins over fun. That leaves the Bulls, and unless they actually pull the Kobe trade, I'm not seeing that either. They might not even make it out of the East for that matter. Spurs it is.

I intend to occasionally intone on the boredom that is a fantasy basketball team (I don't follow football, so I lose, basketball I can manage), just to break the monotone political ranting.

26 October 2007

anyone seen a ufo lately?


These are the sorts of things that give me the 'bump in the night' feeling: The fact that half of our population believes in ESP for example, higher even among educated people. That seem a bit high to anyone else? I can accept that people have certain semi/unconscious perceptual abilities, picking up on moods or small or subliminal clues as to the situation, etc, but calling it something like ESP doesn't make any sense. It's not extra; it's included. The brain performs any number of processes in the background, some of us are better at picking up on what it is telling us subconsciously because of training or experience. At least the number is going down.

The fact that the UFO sighting percentage is so much lower than ghosts is probably the most disturbing element. At least with aliens there's some scientific possibility, even if it's unlikely to be incontrovertible evidence. I don't get the ghost thing at all. Here's the thing, I would say the explanation has to do with hallucinogenic effects induced by dreaming and immediately following dreams, except the percentage of people quantifying the experience as a ghost differs along political and educational grounds. I have no idea how to explain any political gaps. Religion, sure, because religious people accept all sorts of things anyway without any basis in reality, but politics?

23 October 2007

bits of weird


Good to know the world is starting to get rid of some of these old-fashioned sex laws.. Starting to however is pretty different from having enlightened and realized most sex acts are harmless fun between consenting adults.


This was also funny. No brothel for you Mr Policeman.

And something for the Darwinian among us.. a somewhat immodest proposal by a high schooler. Written in Atlanta area, the school newspaper was impounded by the principal. I believe Swift wrote something similar several centuries ago detailing the idea of cannibalism as a means to prevent overpopulation and overcrowding. The concept of satire and humor is apparently not present enough to permit such humorous work anymore.

"For a millennium, the world has been plagued with stupid people corrupting society and bastardizing the value of life for all of mankind.

The intellectually handicapped have been reproducing at a substantially greater rate than those with a fully functional brain.

The problem of the unintelligent reproducing is, and has been, a serious threat to society that has gone unchecked for far too long. It is the responsibility of man to solve this problem before a reverse Darwinism takes effect.

It is depressing to think (especially at the high school age) that people with a high IQ are generally stereotyped as "geeks" or "nerds" because they choose to do more intellectually stimulating activities like homework, and reading, instead of those activities preferred by their peers like power lifting, full contact football without head protection, or crushing cans on one's head. So while the intelligent are exiled from the masses, the ignorant are cherished and embraced.

Due to the substantial amount of low IQ reproduction and relatively low amount of high IQ reproduction, the intelligent become fewer and farther between.

Since mankind obviously cannot control itself enough to make strides for the future, the populace spins into an out of control state of reverse Darwinism where the stupid people survive and the smart people perish.

Some form of action must be taken, one which can be governed effectively and immediately to pull a populace from a malevolent tailspin toward disaster.

First off, charity should be outlawed. No longer should people be allowed to use their children as a source of income. People who cannot afford to have kids simply should not have kids. Unemployment benefits also must be disbanded — go get a job. That isn't to say those with disabilities should not be helped, but not with handouts, just a hand. One of the greatest minds of the century, Stephen Hawking, is immobile. Yet the courageous Mr. Hawking still manages to make strides in the areas of physics, despite being confined to his wheelchair.

Second, the government should compile a standardized test to thoroughly analyze any and all 5th grade students in the country for IQ levels. Based on the results of the test, those who perform in the bottom 25 percent should be executed. The executions will not be inhumane; simple lethal injections while one sleeps would be sufficient. With the bottom of every class systematically removed, over time the world would inevitably thrive and prosper like never before.

It is true that, without the unintelligent, there will be no one to mess up one's order at the local fast food joint, or people on the news to give one something humorous to talk about at the water cooler at work the next morning, but that is a sacrifice, as a race, that simply must be made."

I rather enjoyed the part about the executions while they sleep. While I dislike idiots as much as anyone.. 1) a standardized test is insufficient and 2) is intelligence is the only necessary measure of human worth...ie, otherwise intelligent and competent people can be total scum just as easily as an idiot, perhaps just as dangerous to society if not more so. If we could deduce a manner of net human value to society/neighborhoods, etc, then executing the bottom 25% wouldn't bother me. We can't, so it's an elaborate satirical tale.

happened to me

"What happened to me is both tragic for me and a lot of people," says Monus, who watched Rockies and Indians ballgames while in prison.

Now keeping in mind that being sent to prison isn't very pleasant.. I'd have to wonder how someone who was convicted on 109 counts of embezzlement and fraud could have the balls to say 'what happened to me'. It happened because of your activities dipshit; it wasn't an accident. A car wreck where one car's brakes fail or someone doesn't make a good, quick reaction is an accident. Something unpleasant happened to someone. A car wreck caused by a drunk driver or someone driving too slow (yes, too slow) or way too fast is caused by someone. This smells to me like the second case.. so I'd have to wonder why something 'happened to him', rather than the other way around.

21 October 2007

rowling speaks


Who cares? Apparently lots of people. This was 5 on the top topics of CNN today. Ahead of a battle in Turkey and a story on race/class differences in environment (probably in response to the earlier weeks buzz with Watson, who shall henceforth be known as 'DNA X' due to the damage being done to the honorable title of 'Watson'). No, instead of reading meaningful or engaging news we would like to know the suggested sexual orientation of an imaginary character from what is otherwise a children's book (and poorly written at that).

I have a headache.

20 October 2007

meaning of life

I am somewhat refreshed after a burst of relating to the idea that things don't matter.
I had forgotten how amusing movies relating this point were to me. And how relaxed I feel afterwards having remembered what it was I trying to get at in the first place by taxing my brain with all this mumbo-jumbo.

18 October 2007



Watson of Watson and Crick fame. Not of "Elementary, Watson"

Here's the problem with this, Watson seems to assume that the study of intelligence is a hard science like his work with DNA. I don't think that his principle remark is intended to be racist, as it is factually accurate that in general blacks score lower on IQ tests for example. This however is not necessarily indicative of lower intelligence. IQ tests test many things. I'm not totally sure that intelligence is one of them. It's a marker and indication that intelligent processes are going on during the test perhaps. But as a measure of those, it's inherently flawed because it focuses on specific (and possible) definitions of intelligence mixed with the ability of the person to take tests. I see the differences in score as a premise FOR debate, and bringing them up should not be seen as 'going beyond the limits of acceptable debate'. We should wonder why our empirical studies are showing a gap. Is there something wrong with the study (as in, are we asking the right questions to discern intelligence), the culture or the test (does it have a cultural bias)?

As for the second remark, that people who work with blacks would have a different opinion of them, that would be a prejudicial remark worthy of some scorn. Again, it's possible that this is an accurate perception in some cases. But then again, it's possible that someone who works with impoverished backwater white people (rednecks) would have a different opinion too. I haven't found any cause to complain on the nature of race. Either someone is good at their job or not. I don't care what pigment they have.

Airport security


I'm not a big fan of airport security, but it looks like there's little incentive to make it a government industry. For one thing, it's quite harder to get rid of idiot morons who can't tell a bowling ball candle from a bomb. "What's that a hair dryer with a scope on it? That looks ok, keep it moving." For another, private industry has every incentive in this case to do their jobs as efficiently and diligently as possible. For example, let's suppose a bomb or other threat gets onboard a plane, it's pretty bad credibility for safety on the planes that company screens. The company is likely to get fired and replaced. We cannot fire and replace the government bureaucrats regardless if their incompetence is shown to contribute to an incident.

Now as far as I'm concerned, we need less screening and security at the airport with bags and such, the chances of a hijacking or bombing is almost zero. Worry more about the plane crashing (thank you media for reporting every sensational airplane crash and virtually ignoring millions of drunk drivers). Most of the screening should go on behind the scenes. It seems to me that doing things which target potential threats by skimming over background information is more efficient than rummaging through a family's bags while they're on the way to visit grandparents, for example.

17 October 2007

too bad it's not SC


Suffices to say, I'd have someone to vote for just to screw with the establishment.

16 October 2007

where does it end?


What, pray tell, was the federal response to this case supposed to be? How exactly is the hateful action of noosing hangings (without victims) in one place inextricably connected to another similar act halfway across the country? And more importantly, how could government have prevented the secondary ripple effects? The fact that racial animosity and hatred exist in separate and independent places is not the federal government's fault nor is it under any obligation to attack this problem. It does appear there were irregularities in how the cases have been handled. It does appear the actual court cases however are not suspect. A young man under prior convictions requiring probationary circumstances who is involved in a beating and assault does sound to me like someone who needs further legal scrutiny and isolationary punishment. His racial heritage does not factor into the facts that his actions appear to be brutal and openly violent. That he may have been whipped into a racial frenzy by the overt actions of racist teens does not excuse his actions. So I reiterate, what was the federal government to do in this case that was done differently on the local levels.

metaethical theory, my own

Don't bother reading the whole thing at once unless you're prepared for your eyes to become fuzzy and unfocused. Or you're accustomed to decoding complex ethical treatises. What I'm posting here for is to get some appraisal of my overarching ideas. I'm rather bored (for now) with my discourses on the unflinching nature of our current systems, so I'm reaching into the old bag of writings dominating a more purposeful intention. This is a somewhat more recent version of my overall premises and understandings of human discourse than the previous two essays. It's also considerably more indepth. I actually used quotes and stories even to make it easier to comprehend for once. I never do that.

Ethics, as a portion of philosophy, regard specifically the quest for moral truths. As that is an element of truth, an important consideration is first what sort of truth can be maintained. Individually, if one presumes truth is totally subjective, this has great consequence on the manner of moral truths as well. Therefore, the first step on any ethical quest is to conclude the manner of truth itself. The nature of moral truths, while certainly complex, will be little different than any other physical truths, differing largely in the form they take, namely in the form of ideas or processes, rather than expressed formulas and values. How one views the world as a whole however will have significant repercussions on this more particular view. So I begin with an analogy.
What we see around us differs greatly from person to person. While this can undoubtedly be a function of physical distinctions and personal experience, there is the factor of our interpretations, or lack thereof. Thus we have the card table analogy. There are in a poker game a series of decisions and actions which must be attended to arrive at any outcome. The desired outcome is to win, not merely the single hand, but to prevail over time. To this end we have a few simple choices to make for our own course: raise, call or fold. These may be but few in option, but the considerations that weigh upon them have considerable effect upon how others should act or react to our course, and of course, how we can act later. When we consider the poker table, there are generally three groups of players seated around it. The first group is the fish. These are people unskilled in the game at hand and are easily defeated but for the strange whims of fortune or luck. It can only be by luck that they should ever prevail for they know little of what they are doing, even if they believe it to be otherwise. They do not know how the cards they have can be improved upon, or how to manage their game in accordance with what they have in the hand. They know little or nothing at all about what the intentions or actions of the others may be. As such, they are destined for many failures. Their victories can be but solitary and short-lived, and only through the token of beginner's luck. Without any knowledge of truth, we are blinded to the proper course of action. The second group is the home players. These are capable people, with some knowledge of odds, statistical probabilities, perhaps even a glimmer of insight as to the intention of lesser mortals around them. Here there may be found some victory through some mixture of skill and luck. We would find here that the knowledge of truth is hazy, perhaps centered on an understanding of the process itself; but not how to properly apply it. We are still frustrated by failures outweighing our triumphs unless we mean only to rule over the weak and ignorant fish. In real life we could say that this group is much like scientists who conduct research irrespective of the outcome or the nature of that research. They are merely concerned with the pursuit of truths and the processes, but not the appropriate application of it. The last group is the sharks. These are professionals of a sort; skilled at understanding the hand before them and intuitively understanding how to use what they have before them against what is presented as the intentions around them. Victory is never assured in a game of chance, but the skills that are brought to the quest for it are formidable. They would know much of the intentions of others, the probable actions, the path to glory, and, of course, themselves and the weaknesses they might find unsettling. What they do not have is certainty. They are making what can only be seen as guesses with a good deal of education behind them. These suffice for the understanding needed for making of decisions but are not backed with absolutes, thus lack the fiber of truth. The final grouping at the table isn't actually there, but is the audience. These people know what everyone has and can therefore determine the intentions, and perhaps the proper course of action, provided they understand the systems involved. They are gods among men as they know all, with the exception in this case of chance. And, we could say, like gods, they cannot directly intervene without violating the suspense of our actions. They know what is about to happen before it does. In all cases up until the last group, we are dealing with mere portions of truth. The situation involved has a certain quality in reality, and a certain outcome in reality, which can be viewed distinctly by our interpretations, and thereby altering the outcome to a lesser one than desired. Uncertain and mixed with our own fragile interpretations, the portions we see are not necessarily a measured vision of the true nature of the reality around us. We don't know how our actions will affect others for certain because we do not know their intent with any certainty. Sometimes we do not even know our own intent with any clarity. But we can presume to know sometimes when we have the quality of understanding and empathy, and temper ourselves with both wisdom and experience.
The quest for truth, especially moral truth, is the path of understanding. The seeking of wisdom can never overtake our human failings. We are limited and bound by a covenant of natural weaknesses and individual distinctions. But through this quest we find a process of righteousness. There is the glimmer of hope for triumph, for at least one battle over the evils that beset our task. The quest for truth, not knowledge itself, but true understanding, is the path of the moral, and the purpose of ethics. Having seen that we cannot make any determination that gives us hope without all our abilities, we must set out to see what factors must play a vital role.
Upon our first vital capacity as humans we find the physical needs. We must satisfy the needs and natures of our physiology in order to survive. Humans have done so for millennia through the resourcefulness of tools and machines, the faculty of reason, and the drive of necessity. But the problem between what we need for our lives and what we want demands a tricky balance. The want of our lives leads us to a consideration of subjectivity, the first of our moral allies, and the most dangerous of our foes. While our needs cannot go unmet, our wants can be set aside, even ignored or forgotten or replaced. But to do so often denies much of our personal being. While it is needed to consume food or at least nutritive material, is it not reasonable to seek good food for our taste when we have want of it? When we have need of companionship, is it not reasonable to seek out the company of others we have special fondness for? This then is the aim of subjectivity. None of us have great tolerance for all things, all people, and all actions. Through our limited lives we have neither the time nor the inclination to experience all things with such zeal and curiosity. Thus we should over time aim more sharply for those things and experiences that might be of comfort to our otherwise blank existences, injecting into these things and people attributes of great respect and meaning.
But this is a slippery slope if left unchecked. Our desires can stray into dark paths where harm and evil can and will be inflicted unless tempered by other faculties. The path of the righteous is matched closely with an appealing portrait. We often construe that evil is a horrid and wicked apparition. I believe that often our evils, our crimes, are nothing of the kind until it is too late. And only then do they play their haunting games upon our conscience and memory. We commit such atrocities and cruelty toward one another because we are ignorant of evil, and ignorant of good. Left alone in our own little worlds with noone to argue with civility our course, we set sail into the unknown. It can not be a pleasant voyage.
Fortunately there is a governor over this unbridled passion for life. It is the reasonable understanding of social order. Through this necessity of human invention, we have the capacity to see the social fabric around us and attempt to "fit in". Living bizarre or dark paths we would soon find ourselves hemmed in by the force of order and compelled to avoid punishments for our wickedness by hiding or reforming it. What we come to understand through social factors is that there is a component of our decision that must be also accounted for: the greater good. At its lowest levels we are concerned with the well-being of those around us directly, friends and families. As we interact, we attach importance to the outcome of interactions with others, co-workers or neighbours for example. We can extend this understanding to the entirety of a village or town, and then upwards toward the nation-state and finally humanity as a whole. The abstracted millions and billions are little different than our own friends and family when it comes right down to it. Just because we do not know them, or have the time to do so, does not make their rights or our effect on them any less significant.
It becomes impossible to ignore the conclusion that our actions will have ripple effects, some more so than others. Our treatment and behavior toward others will lead them to react accordingly. As such, some of our actions will necessitate a consideration of how the effect is received, what sort of effect does it have? Can I maximize or raise the benefit, or do something solely for the benefit of others at my own cost or at no personal gain? Certainly these are beneficial questions to ask when faced with a moral dilemma. The consequences of our actions have value, even though they are not evaluated in any sort of certainty. We cannot always know how doing one thing may effect the environment around us, how a person may receive it, or even whether they will reject and condemn our action entirely. Still we can make basic assumptions based on what we think may happen, what is most likely or most perilous. There is much risk involved in making moral decisions however based solely on the question of social or greater good. Without the assumptions of consequence, we are paralyzed, but with them, all our perfect reasoning may be tossed out the window. False assumptions, such as the belief in the superiority over Africans which prevailed in the debate of slavery, lead us to conclusions that can be horribly flawed. Missteps along the way in evaluating risks of a particular course also lead to moral disaster. It becomes clear that to evaluate any situation with only the eye to the greatest good becomes a recipe for moral blundering, with only half-measured responses to moral thinking. But it does suggest that we should at least consider the consequences and the good of the many at times where it seems appropriate. Our existence as a social creature demands this of us at least.
The imperative now is moral principles themselves. I would argue that the principles of morality are not so limited as to be a listing of do's and don'ts. We are dealing with a more complex tapestry of action and decision making than that. We may say that certain actions are inherently wrong, and that may be fine to make some conclusion. But we must also make certain to recognize the whys, the circumstances involved, and the person making such an action possible. A policeman shooting a dangerous criminal is by definition murder, the killing (or at least assault) of another person, but not in the legal sense. We make recognition that this action was justifiable by the protection of innocent lives. It appears through this that the particular actions themselves are not of such great consequence as the process involved at their decision. A policeman taking out his weapon and shooting someone who merely looked suspicious for example is not justified, even if the person was later shown to have hostile goals. The process was incompletely applied. The assumption that the suspicion of danger is sufficient to act precipitously and to decide to use lethal force to deal with the potential threat is an error of the process of judgment. The most essential determination in our course of action is to as fully as possible recognize the situation we are in and then to orient ourselves accordingly. Failing to notice details pertaining to our decision will lead to failure in our action. Additionally, failing to understand why a particular principle might apply, or might not, will lead to failure. The overall moral principle therefore is a moral function, not a moral list of principles. It is the combination of making such observations as time allows and applying proper analysis to the situation as to make a motivated and critical decision. Simply assuming we understand what is going on, or assuming that our gut reaction is right can lead to tragic consequences. Being inflexible intellectually or morally leads to inappropriate action. Proper moral decisions are not complex, but do have a difficult path. The high road is always a harder road to tread, but leads us to a healthier social order (and truer appreciation of self) and makes worth the time and effort.
There is merit in evaluating a situation only on the moral fabric of the act itself. Particular acts or the flawed principles behind them do not seem to ever enrich our society. Rape, murder, theft are all inherently flawed courses of action morally. We arrive at this conclusion through concepts of moral imperatives which compel us all to certain restrictions. Randomly or coldly murdering people for sport or pleasure would endanger us all to the risk of being randomly stabbed or shot at for this purpose. Naturally a society that allows such activity would quickly fail or at least break down into strong and weak elements. We derive such universal truth and apply it as law. But law is weak and must respond to new situations constantly by the making of new laws, which made by men are at risk for flaw or loopholes for the powerful and cunning. Similarly, the laws of God are also limited. We don't know for certain how the principles of "God's laws" (if they can be called that as they are codified, applied, and interpreted by men, not gods) apply to the constantly changing and evolving human race today, or even if they still apply owing to outmoded ideas of the human social order or even physiological functions. The outright forbiddance of certain acts through law has the value of restriction for people who choose to obey. But it has no hold over anyone else. If people are to ignore or mock society's laws, how must society react? What of mistakes and errors; what do we do when people have failed in their reason, or have false data and assumptions thereof? The trouble with categorical absolutism is that we have falsely assumed that human beings are rational. Most of us are not so capably guided, not always that is. Impulsive, purely subjective, and sometimes heightened emotional decisions are made everyday by most of us. We purchase things we do not need; we have relationships that aren't based on anything, not even the intangible goodness of friendship or love, we work in jobs we do not like or are not suited for our talents and potential greatness. Human beings I submit are most often irrational. It is because of this that we must make efforts to measure our system. Deciding that moral imperatives are reasonable and rational is well and good, but if people aren't capable of following them because they are (at least sometimes) not reasonable and rational, then we have failed to set up a working system of morals.
I would submit that the most difficult choices in our lives are not difficult because they are complex. They are difficult because a series of irrational steps have preceded them and have thus limited our options to a few unpleasant ones, in other words they became less complex. Wars are an example of failed rational diplomacy or trade leading to violent aggression between nations. The question of abortion is an outcome of a series of irrational behaviors: deciding to have unprotected sex with someone who is not interested or prepared to raise a child, not using birth control, not investigating other options such as adoption, and so forth. The difficulty is not making the choice that is 'right', but making the choice that is least 'wrong'. More simply, when dealing with a criminal or potential criminal act, we are also often dealing with a single irrational behavior. No reasonable system can deal with breakdowns in its reasoning without violating some of its elegant principles and risking the entirety of the system. Few universal systems can account for every possible situation created by the unceasing movements and motivations of human beings. Therefore we must balance reason with something else entirely to make these choices, and have a means of measuring the situation itself. Inevitably we will be faced with the problem of the no-win scenario, where there is no 'right' act. Reason alone cannot get us out of the mess because our actions will have been inherently unreasonable. Haven't we all argued with someone who was being unreasonable? It's a no-win argument. All the pertinent facts in the world aren't going to change the mind of a fixed-minded or irrational person. We cannot convince them of the right; they must stumble to it of their own accord. How do we do that?
It appears then that the moral process is achieved through the balance of the various factors involved. But how do we arrive at it, and how do we learn how to practice it? This too appears to be a process of a sort. The first determination is that of the self. Each person carries in their actions certain coloration. This is to say, we act in a certain way because that's how we want to be. The first step of our moral process is to be aware of self. We must know how we are as a person. We must know our flawed characters, our weaker assumptions, and our quirky preferences. All of us have subjective desires: blonde or brunette, pasta or steak, science or literature. Some, perhaps most, are harmless preferences created to give us choices in life that otherwise have no value. Deciding what we would like to eat has no moral value (unless we are to kill other people for this purpose I suppose). Deciding that we do not like a particular group of people on the basis of their appearance does, as our naked physical association with that group is rarely a consequence or function of our individual nature. As such it cannot be reasonably assumed that any person will behave in accordance with our preconceived notions of a group, making such preferential thinking immoral. This is the essence of the problem of subjectivity. In Daoism, there is a concept of non-interference. The principle basis of which is this problem: we are all of us screwed up people in some way. We cannot apply our own subjective, internal values upon the lives of others because our own values are also similarly flawed. To resolve this problem, we must be aware of these flaws. We must know when they arise, when our weakness may befall our course of action. We must examine ourselves, rigorously. The premise of the un-examined life has been around in philosophy since the dawn of philosophy in Socrates. If we do not question ourselves from time to time, we will never come upon any ethical system. The aspect of reason is invaluable in this quest, but ultimately it is our determination to see ourselves truly that must lead the way.
The second step once the examination of self is undertaken (it is perhaps never achieved fully), is to examine the world around us. Seeing through the eyes of our old, blinded selves, we should never be capable of seeing the true reality around us. We would see what we wanted of the world, and blind ourselves to the rest. Seeing now an open world, we make of it what we can. Seeing others as clearly as we do ourselves, we can begin to understand their intentions, even when they do not. We start to see how the tiny choices presented us at any moment gather into apparent coincidence. And we begin to understand ethical behavior as a function of moral flexibility. Acting impulsively, recklessly, or strongly emotionally may sometimes give us the right course very quickly in a moment of crisis. But it may also create deeper problems. Acting decisively in a moment of crisis is required yes, but only through acting appropriately do we create the moral act. In the Art of War, Sun Tzu declares that great generals win their battles without fighting. What is needed in moral action is little different. All the necessary preparation that time allows of us in a critical decision allows us to prevail with moral decency even in a time where it appears hopeless. The general takes to hand the terrain, the number and disposition of the enemy and their intentions, the discipline and disposition of his own armies, and makes ready the available stores to sustain his forces while undertaking to deny his enemy of his own reserves. In moral acts, we take to mind every notion, seeking out all our options and any available information toward our course of action. We try to properly direct ourselves at the situation and make sense of it before committing to action. Acting recklessly and charging forward to the call of battle is no more courageous or sensible in time of war as it is in everyday life. Similar to Sun Tzu, the greatest moral acts do not at always present us with a feeling of victory, merely the presence of it. We achieve greatly because the situation was made clear, the options understood, and the consequence good.
However as in war, life is rarely so clearly simple choices between a great victory and a good victory. Most of our decisions have complex mixtures of things that could be good, and those that could be bad. Sometimes, as in the start of full-scale wars, our decisions are all mixed with bad. Often our choice may still be clear; one case may have a clear and good effect or action involved while others are clearly heinous in form and effect. But the process involved is the same: be aware of the situation, and the needs of others, as well as our place in the situation. The effect of our action however requires a firm and decisive resolve. This does not however mean that we remove completely our other courses of action. What is meant is that we must be decisive in a moment of crisis. Inaction or our unfeeling, uncaring visage in a moment of crisis can be just as immoral as improper action. Watching someone being beaten to death and deciding to stand in shock and horror when the assaulter is unarmed and alone and can be overwhelmed by the mob standing by is no less a form of crime than the beating itself in moral terms. The consideration is not the nature and fury of our action, but that we retain a measure of moral flexibility. When we ask a question, it should be our goal to create and understand more questions, not simply to find answers. In warfare or even in poker games, the intention of some of our actions is to force our opponents to make decisions that risk everything while retaining some of our own capacity to persevere should we not prevail in that precise venture. So it is with moral action. If we act, we should do so to retain our flexible nature in the situation. Acting decisively and forcefully in a situation removes our options. The policeman who kills the suspicious-looking person for example could have done other things and then if it appeared that lethal force was necessary, he still retains the capacity to deploy it later on. The reason for this is that we could have failed to notice details that will alter our course. Rushing to judgments precipitously can only destroy our future choices and will often leave us within a series of irrational cataclysms or with a single devastating and unpleasant decision, such as being required to kill or be killed. Always leave outs, not necessarily only for ourselves, but for our society or our loved ones, if it is possible to do so. Time doesn't always give us this possibility, but we should plan for success and prepare for failure. It is inevitable of our imperfect human natures that we will encounter failures, and we must be able to learn from them. The will of necessity is a cruel master, leaving us with actions that are often too horrible to contemplate at any other time and if we have no other recourse than undesirable and unprincipled acts to rescue ourselves from our failures, we will not have the capacity to learn, only to survive.
This brings us to the third stage of moral understanding. Herein the purpose is the understanding of good itself. In seeing how others interact, and how we should strive to include ourselves in the greater world around us, we find that there are certain precepts which seem to govern our society. While these may be often found in law, they are not merely fungible legal terms. These are the virtues; consistent principles which appear to slide around on the circumstance, but in reality are always in the service of some higher good. To care for others is to be compassionate and understanding. To control our actions in a limited fashion, as in moderation, gives us the flexibility both to enjoy some delights of life and to resist some others when it is inappropriate. To be independent gives us the responsibility of governance over our action, but also to be ourselves, choosing what occupations or educations might best suit us, in addition to the mundane practices of what to wear in the morning. These are not often found in law, because few places govern what job we should take, or where and when we set out to learn. And yet they are principles nonetheless which govern our society. They are not universal maxims but rather a process of our order. Each of us finds unique means to express them if we live a virtuous life, and thus it would be difficult to apply them as absolute expressions of human will and purpose. There should have to be a great many variations of a single expression to make for universals, creating a convoluted and tangled web of human reason that is too impractical to express as a function of ethical behavior. There are times for selflessness (more so, I should think) and times for selfishness for example. It is not a subjective process, because it is uniform, but the result is ultimately human, and subject to the whim and preference of a particular person or society. As such, it is subject to failures. We must admit that, and be prepared to learn from them. In failing to do so, we perpetuate the cycle of irrational sequences and create merely different circumstances to the same old problems. The process is complex, yes. But as when we are children learning arithmetic or grammar, the process becomes a practice. We learn to balance our own needs against the needs of others. We learn to understand what consequences result, or what should result and can often express such things in the form of concerned probabilities. We learn that our actions should strive to be good even when we must do evil. We learn from ourselves and from the missteps of others, the wisdom of the ages. In doing this, we achieve true virtue in the form of ethical behavior. The practice of this virtue is a cultivation of our character, but ultimately pertains to the growth of society as a whole. Concerning ourselves with the world around us can only lead us to an understanding of our true self and our role in the world, and when we do so, good things will result.
As this moral system concludes, much of the process is going to be purely speculative and therefore based upon the subjective capacity of the person making decisions to understand the situation and arrive at conclusions. An example here will show how people can describe the same situation with differing moral imperatives, and thus attempt to defeat absolutism, both with a portion of failure. If we consider the Holocaust, where millions of innocent people were slaughtered purely on the basis of religious intolerance or ultra-nationalist heritage, we consider this imperative in the following: Noone should kill others for the purpose of removing undesired social factors caused by religious or cultural differences. Applied universally, this imperative might mean that people we know and love will be slaughtered by people who do not approve of them for some social means, religion, race or the fact they eat hot dogs, its doesn't matter what the reason is. The problem with this is that there seem to be people who do cause so much disruption to society that we seem almost compelled to kill them as in the case of condemned criminals, some of whom are motivated by religious indifference or intolerance themselves. Conversely, the Nazis who perpetrated this atrocity would not be concerned with this maxim at all, because they would hold a different one in higher esteem. Theirs would be as follows: the strong should dominate the weak. In their scenario the strong should do what they can to make themselves stronger and do so at the expense of the weak. They accept the risk that they will one day not be the strong, but work to propagate the continuance of their strength by purging forcibly elements of weakness from their society, even if those elements are human lives. This maxim continued even in defeat as evidenced by some statements made at Nuremberg. Many of those on trial would declare that this trial was simply the application of the strong, the Allied victorious armies, over the weak, the defeated Nazi Germany. As such they had no moral objection to the situation, but instead saw it as the ultimate continuation of human events. Human history is replete with the application of force over the weaker elements of society, suggesting that the Nazis were simply following in some aspect of human function. Certainly it is reasonable that people who are strong in a particular fashion, such as expertise in a particular field, should be looked to as leaders in that field. But their strength is only so limited to those areas on which they have wisdom and talent. For the governance of societies, we are not so fortunate as to be always aware of the innate talent of leadership or wise and temperate governance. As such, it is a false assumption to presume that the strong should rule the weak in this manner. But it sounds very convincing. Confucius was once asked by the Emperor which of three things he should abandon first: the will of the people, the bread, or the chariots and swords. Confucius replied the chariots, for wars are not always needed for the state. Annoyed at this reply, he asked which next, and Confucius said, the bread, for food can be re-grown. The will of the people cannot be recovered once broken. The emperor obviously was displeased at this wise counsel, but could not argue it. Hitler likewise failed to understand that his strength was not inherent, but was granted by those he would call "weak".
What we deal with when societies and individuals decide to ignore wisdom and reason is the effect of irrationality. It poisons our actions and must be dealt with. There have been two major courses to deal with its effect. First, there is the role of the cleric, a healer. These are people who treat its causes, doctors or lawyers for example. They do not combat such evils directly, but rather punish its effects and treat and bind the wounds of those afflicted. This is a pure and noble service but lacks the capacity to defeat evil directly. There is then the role of the knight. Here the service is to directly combat evils on the field of battle so to speak. Evil wills are slain, even when it means the taking of human lives. The satisfaction of the complete victory is tempered by the knowledge that our actions were impure, even immoral at times. There is another means. I would call it the paladin, and it is the service I would seek to render. A person of 'purity of spirit' has the temperament to treat evil's effect by easing its burden upon others and directly assailing its allies with a weapon of incalculable power, knowledge. This is noble and good. A person who thwarts evil directly has the capacity to succumb to it, but does so for our protection. But to truly combat evils, we must render the service of good instead. Sun Tzu said "He who relies solely on warlike measures shall be exterminated; he who relies solely on peaceful measures shall perish." This implication is that our society must have both war and peace in mind at all times. So it is with moral struggles. We must be prepared to take to defense of our liberties and principles with violent action if it becomes necessary. But we should work that it never becomes necessary. The service of a 'paladin' is rather the promotion of the service of goodness or virtue, not merely the treatment of evil's wound. The cause of good is always stronger in principle and effect than that of evil; it is simply a harder road to tread. We must make it easier by lighting its way with reasoned effectiveness. We must struggle on the front lines of irrationality to find reason in our madness and demonstrate it to others. We must appeal to the inherent benefit of goodness as opposed to the seduction of evil will by making clearer the state of both. Education is the tool.
As this applies to me, I see the forest very easily. I do not see the trees. In my discourse with others, it is easier for me to see dispassionately the nature and course of the events, but always not the passion which fueled them in the first place. The passion and zest of life is often tasteless to me, and becomes a secondary consideration. This is false. It leads to dishonorable conduct as it disregards the nature of human beings to act foolishly, sometimes for no reason. I do not easily separate action from reason and as such, I do not easily understand the roles of people who do not operate on reasonable moral imperatives. They are the "trees" and often I would find it easier if they were cut down. It is not always better to cut down the trees to make the forest a better place, but rather to cultivate them in a manner reflective of their distinctions. Certainly, as with sickly tree, a person of immense immoral scruple should be regarded as a danger and be torn aside, forcibly if need be. Such threats of both bad will and ignorance cannot be defeated reasonably; they must be compelled by other means to surrender the cause of evil will. A forest of human events would have as its base the capacity to notice and deal with such threats passively, and then to seek aggressive response when it becomes necessary. That is, to be aware of their surroundings and make whatever discourse and preparations are necessary to deal with the threats and then deal with them if they emerge into chaotic intent. In my terms, it is to notice failings or flaws that go unnoticed or under the radar and make them plain. There is a great line in an interview with Dave Chappelle where he said "America is the greatest country in the world by default. We could be the greatest country… ever, if we were just honest with ourselves." This is in fact a statement very close to my purpose in life. To provide honest and reasoned evaluation of ourselves and the world around us is the goal of any philosophical intention. To render it most effectively, we must also match ourselves with our examples and seek to practice it every day. Virtues are not temporary exemplars of action and purpose, but natural evaluators of daily circumstances. Finding courage in difficult situations or modesty when a business contributes to the CEOs successes is necessary and constant. It will not be easy.

15 October 2007

more old country files

Another essay from the old days. I was apparently very annoyed back in 03. Being single at the time probably contributed to having lots of spare time to ruminate and be overly disturbed by human events. Unfortunately, my words lack any cohesive forms here. They appear to be long angry rants with more insight than is typical but disorganized brain dumps nonetheless.

There is a matter of which I find a point to discuss. It concerns the principle elements of our governance. Democracy is a fragile system, but more accurately it is a practice. It cannot become an institution of authority by this practice, but rather an institution of the mind wherein its governed are required to make decisions concerning their future governance. The most modern example of this premise is our own country and its recent engagements, both domestically and abroad. The present incarnation of the public government is made possible by practices long established and made necessary by some of those same arrangements made in a history of error or through just causes. What is of a note to concern here is the practice of democracy and freedom whilst we protest to bring it to lands abroad.

Campaign reform is a principle matter of discussion in political debate yet it is at heart not the issue of concern. The concern is the practical involvement of the general public in the processes of their rule and governance. Campaign reform is a means towards restoring this disenfranchisement, yet it is not perhaps the most effective to consider. Simply changing the rules by which the powerful maintain their power will not permit those with little or no involvement in their selection to attain more power and liberty for themselves. This is the intended goal of democracy, not to become more powerful for itself, but instead to extend the benefit of freedom to all its peoples and to establish a beneficial and peaceful society for their individual growth. Then the goal is not to simply shuffle the chairs about as though a real change was affected, but instead to bring about a real shuffle.

The premise here is to seek what means involve the populace in their public discourses. It is not quite necessary that their involvement include the participation of actual decisions, rather simply a public life in addition to that of a personal one. This is the duty of a democratic citizen to concern himself with the simple affairs of daily life and then to involve their mind and passions in a more active manner with the affairs of his state and neighbours. For many of us a simple act of volunteerism or charity, supplying to others the benefit of our time, effort and monies, suffices to explore this public life. This affects real change and creates a sort of public awareness that pervades one's life. We are forced to engage and explore those lives which are different from our own and what causes and effects are involved in their decisions and practices. Yet it is not yet full participation. No longer reach is extended, merely the practice of a good and charitable society which tends to its own needs rather than a dependence on the "charitable" efforts of its leaders.

To what ends then do men seek to involve themselves in the affairs of the state, the problems of governance and law? What shows this effort most broadly is the practice of war. Here, together with the inculcation of patriotism and a call toward defence of that freedom which is cherished if not fully practiced, we find the greatest efforts are maintained by the general public to involve their efforts in those of the governing body.

The people are enlisted in national defence or offence, and because of this intimate relationship, become at least aware of a broad dependence on their support for the existence and maintenance of the country at large. But it should not be the domestic calling of arms that unites man and state. And it is so that some among us are conceived of a mind that engages this practice on a more regular basis. This is healthy, not to practice politics, but to suffer by them and to see what deceptions are employed by the state and its institutions towards its people.

This then is what is involved in making others invest the time and effort towards the practice of liberty; that is an awareness of public sentiment and life, and an interest in seeing its improvement in some manner or respect. Our efforts on this point are not always progressive or positive; often they are restrictive or negative, as with the practice of racism or religious fanaticism. These are points established not through rational means but through an ignorance of the human condition and an acceptance of either a stereotype based on fear or the words of what we are told to believe is right. These are efforts to be offensive to many and indeed to be combated by more rational minds among us, as we are all prone to such prejudices as to do such things ourselves without the premise of reason to tell us otherwise. What is of note here is however that even these small minded persons are quite capable of mobilizing and attempting to affect the nature of law and government in their society. What was required was a rally point on which to become concerned with its nature, not a concern for the progression of the human race, but instead that of their own small community. We find today many such causes, good and bad in their turn; concern over the natural environment, the rights of historically oppressed peoples (women and non-European races, or non-Christian religion), the moral practices of things such as abortion or personal privacy rights. For some of us, the interest is broad enough to extend to other peoples and our national affairs with them, such as the bloody messes of wars in Africa or the Middle East. Whatever the reason was, it was sufficient to generate some concern that overrides the simple daily matter of which TV show to watch or the grating effects of our chosen occupation. We are not all dullards with such simple matters to occupy our time. We are in fact capable of making or at least participating in the more complex problems of our lives, those which are involved indeed the problems of others as well. This is the essence of democracy.

What the problem herein is the repression of unpopular opinion, even those of negative matters. While they can be repressed through reason where they are unreasonable, they should not be repressed simply because of their separatory effects. The unpopular point of view of pacifism is not unpatriotic, but offers a broad view that the understanding that all human life is inherently valuable, not merely those of our own country, and that our understanding of freedoms is to allow the populace to make some choices for themselves, perhaps even when it is unwanted for them to do so. This is inconsistent with the practice of statecraft and the requisite necessity of warfare on some matters, and therefore somewhat unfounded on reason. But it contains a badge of merit for it forces certain qualifications upon our actions, and demands more prominently a reasonable explanation of our foreign entanglements. Therefore, its subsequent repression and its portrayal as an unpatriotic act are foolhardy at best. It is difficult for any man to risk his livelihood and his very life when he does not understand the reason for it. Indeed the more patriotic act is to exercise our freedom of speech and speak on matters which contend our mind, rather than simply to follow the crowd or the government where it should lead.

The problem of repression of unpopular factors is not a limited scope. It is a development of our institutional practices. Our educational system is seemingly designed to encourage agreement and discipline, not encourage thought and therefore disagreement. The premise is that disagreement leads to conflict, violent oftener than not. In fact, the pretense of agreement leads to greater confusion, and in some ways leads towards a path of intensified conflict with those who would disagree. Whereas the pretense of disagreement requires one to find reason and cause that they should live in violation of the practices of others. Where there can be found no reason, then there should be no cause, such as murdering a fellow man. The very nature of disagreement requires one to learn to live with it as a function of being, that all of us are inherently drawn to different ideas as a result of our experiences in life. And therefore, that change in those ideas is a function of disagreement as well. Whereas the function of agreement is to create peace, a useful premise for an orderly society, it is by itself useless. Where it is created through the pacification of its people's vigorous spirit and by repressing their unique opinions on life and living, it is now control, not order. Agreement is only half of the equation therefore, as on certain points we should find it for the establishment of order and for the function of society; it should be not made at the removal of people's free exercise in thought. Disagreement, where it is taught as a natural function of society, and as taught as a thing to be treated with discussion and attempts at solvency and compromise, instead of hostility and intemperance, is also a useful natural education. Discipline is in fact the agreement between those in control and those not, that those in control are correct, and doing what is instructed of you is the only correct course of your action. Disagreement on this point is impossible as it is enforced through rule. While this is an effective means of governing a body of people, it is dependent entirely on the agreement between the two opposed forces, that of power, and that of liberty.

These two forces are in constant opposition and constantly battle over the nature of government, most particularly in a democratic system. The need for order, safety, and security for society to function is often a claim for those of power to abuse their rights over those without. The cloak and guise of protection is a new system for such abuses, similar to that used by religious figures over all of history to abuse their power to contract horrible vices upon those of competing views. The need for creativity, arts, and free lives lived in even simple ways is a natural element of human beings. It is required of us that we should explore it, and if we are not ever shown it, how are we to know of it, to practice it. If we are never encouraged to think and decide on the more complex matters, the matters of state or law and order, then how are we to make such decisions with interest and vigor. If we are instead simply encouraged to be obedient, we will not create a functional society of individual power, but instead a functional society of someone else's power. The practices of many conglomerates of industry is to enrich not necessarily the 'worker-drone', but the people at the top, who are enriched by the service of diligent workers who work without question and innovate and toil with ever increasing efficiency. The practice of governments is as with any other institution, to enrich itself, only in this instance, with greater matters of control over its subjects.

If we wish to create such a fascist state, then by all means we should learn how to live in one. You will live in fear, abject terror, at the mercy not merely of foreign powers who will be shown through media propaganda to terrorize and strike at our state and allies, but also at the mercy of the organs of the state. You will practice, as when we were children writing names on the board, turning in the villains of society, turning any suspicion into an institutional function of paranoia towards any deviant behaviors, casting our personal vendettas into public practices, turning on each other with reckless abandonment of any moral conscience. The simple methods that we are employed on occasion to relieve our stresses and pains as effects of our toil at work and home, could be construed as potent deviancy. Drink, drugs, sex, smoking, these are stress management functions for a great majority who know not how to change their condition in life in more meaningful and positive ways, merely how to control their internal sufferings. These are portrayed as vices not because they are inherently evil, but rather that our dependency on them is. Any state exercising such direct control as to cow its people into paranoia and vigilant support of its dominance is liable to target any personal activity it chooses to strike from its allowable lifestyle. Personal spirituality could be targeted and stricken systematically, preferring instead a ritual obedience to the state. Personal liberty could be curtailed to the point of service to such a state.

This cannot be a preferred method of life for people. There is a point in between such an extreme and that of anarchy. We are not prepared yet for such freedom as to govern ourselves. Not all of us are capable of obeying basic rules necessary for society to function without the premise of fear, at the tyranny of the state punishment system. We are dependent on the existence of a system for public order, as we are, in our private investments, still wicked and selfish. Yet, in this necessary practice, we should not consent to be governed by a system that debases our individual freedoms. This is a careful war of necessity. In our constitution are the frameworks for this battle; it was fought vigorously then. What we should consider is that it is a continuous battle, one in which those who control the elements of power in society will not willingly submit to allow others to subvert some or all of that potency, and one in which those without power will try to resume their own authority.

Thus we are brought back to the point at hand. Participation and enfranchisement are the keys to a proper democratic state. These interests, when taken up by its people, practiced with fervor and an eye towards debated conflict solution, are instrumental in a functional society and perform the function of allowing the general public to combat its rulers and powerful authority figures with questions and scrutiny towards their motives. It would occur that their motives could only remain shared with those of their people, and their outlook toward the common defence and permitting general prosperity of its people the only truest sensible political view. Simply reforming the present manner in which campaigns are run, while they are indeed showing inherent forms of corruption, will not change the nature and interest in democracy which has waned dramatically over the past generations. The alternative does not bear thinking about, a police state with overarching control and influence over the daily lives of its citizenry has already happened numerous times in history; none of them is remembered with great fondness nor their exercise in control emulated by any rational society.

It remains then to name a proposal to inculcate the people into the practice of freedom and its spiritual home in a democratic state. Simply cleaning up the campaigns is not a solution here, while it appears a necessary thing. What is needed is a spawning of interest in both the leaders and their agendas. We as people are not generally disposed to do a great deal of contemplation of the complex matter of running a country in an orderly fashion. To create laws and to establish principles on which we are agreed, there is a fashionable means to appoint leaders and representatives to express our concerns. At least on paper this sounds sensible. In practice, those leaders and representatives are people of their own accord, vulnerable to the same elements of greed or self-interest as any other. The institution that is the governing body of this country has its trappings of power and the influence it sways over the daily business in this country attracts the word and mind of a variety of suitors. The most powerful of these is the great industries and firms of business based in this country. Here a great deal of influence is used, and therefore is a minimal viewpoint, unexpressed are often the views of the great masses who work in the factories and offices. It remains for them to find views and issues on which they have opinions and to seek out people to express them or to express themselves. We are not encouraged this practice beyond the principle means of protest, which is looked upon as annoying at best. So then what attracts our attention are issues on which people have organized into groups to greater gain political leverage and express their outlook on various candidates and how various laws and issues would effect their primary concerns in life. Here the great work of research and public harassment is done by another representative, whose views are very clearly shared and to whom we would lend greater support, but instead to merely express our concerns rather than to legislate for them.

The key element as I see it is that the populace finds strength in organization where it cannot find it individually. Here also views are clearly expressed and explained at length. Questions on a variety of pertinent subjects can be found answered with a modicum of personal efforts. What this implies is that the present political system as it functions now is insufficient to fully represent the people. The vast millions who inhabit this nation are diverse in culture, language, religion, and indeed opinions. On these opinions there are a various number of subjects to which we have no interest or a great deal personally invested. So what would work more effectively to represent this is in fact a coalitional government. In a place such as Europe or Asia, there are not two parties; there are generally two major coalitions backed by a number of related issue-based parties. We in America have a greater amount of diverse interests, and indeed, if you examine closely the two parties, you will find the actual members of each party have varied interests, even if the party platform itself is relatively inflexible and inexpressive of these concerns. We are disconnected from the process of government because our views are not hailed by any official means of recognition. We feel ignored. Therefore I humbly suggest that the principle means of saving our democracy is to invest a good deal of interest in fracturing the present two-party system and forcing the populace to seek out those interests on which they have opinions of merit, and to back them. The second part is already done in many respects; many of us belong to unions or some public forum, perhaps as a volunteer or as an active philanthropist. What has not been done is fracture the present political parties into more expressive and therefore more flexible elements. The principal unity could remain as a general platform for two basic coalitions, whose strength and influence would be measured by the basic construct of the various separate parts. The two parties at present are also inexpressive on another point in that neither represents at current a great difference of opinion on any great matter in the order of the country. Perhaps certain moral points are argued; abortion for example. But the overall ability of the government as it stands now to abolish stogy institutions of government or at least to greatly enhance or even change at all, is limited by the scope that neither party is of great difference of opinion on the necessity of such things.

As it appears to an outsider, the politics of Washington appear to surround passing as many things as you care to get passed, and then not so much following up to see how these programs are working. Or if they are followed up, then it would appear that strengthening the new infrastructure of this institution is always in order. We learn early on in life what trash is, and usually if something doesn't work, and can't be fixed, you throw it out, and you don't play with it afterwards. Not so with political programs. If it isn't working, it would appear that you can always throw more at it and pretend that fixes things, i.e. public education. All institutions are limited by their budgets and staffs to begin with. If both can be strengthened, then the institution is stronger by definition. But this has nothing to do with representing the views of the people. It has nothing to do with resolving the disunion which occurs over a great matter. It has the appearance of it, because an agency exists, surely it is engaged in the salvation of a particular issue and the people concerned with it. Yet with all living things, the agency's primary objective is self-preservation. What it does, it will do of necessity, and not necessarily of response to problems. The matter of control by the government is to ensure that a necessary function is performed, either regulations obeyed by industries, or hazards cleaned, etc. Thus the basic function of electing officials at the moment is essentially to serve as board members on the largest business in the world, engaged in so many various functions as to confound the depths of individual reason. Such power is corruptive and wasted. It is indeed possible that most government functions are indeed largely permanent ones, yet at least they should react even occasionally to rational and well-founded concerns of its people.

So herein, if there are in fact various board members who are somewhat pliable to the people they represent, we would find a more flexible government, able to take interest on a variety of subjects. As it is, we use a committee system for this. This is however flawed since the commissions are again, simply oversight boards. The commissions can bury any fresh idea on a subject which they feel is unimportant or which they do not approve of. No laws on topics which are against the interest of the government, and perhaps in the favor of the people at large are likely to seek an audience here. The great churches and religions of the world would not soon survive it was discovered that the proper spiritual relationship was in fact a personal one, and did not involve or even at all require the great institutions and clergy who have interposed themselves on it. Government functions in much the same way. It interposes itself on our lives, expressing the various concerns of daily life, ensuring a sense of order where there might not be otherwise. But in fact, the commission of order and otherwise good citizenry is a personal matter. It is something to which we are obliged by society's inherent organization to practice and to promulgate. We are obliged to treat the great teaming mass of humanity as a massive extended family. We are not obliged to always get along, but we are invested in getting along when we are to disagree. We as individuals are inherently based on the mission of government. That is to say, we should, in order to create a better society for us and for our progeny, be learning to govern and take care of ourselves, without always the need for the fear of a swift hand of justice coming from the law. The commission of righteousness is a practice to which we should devote our lives, rather than simply accepting the fear of penalties in our wickedness. Herein the current necessity of government takes its power, and it will continue to menace us with authority so long as people need its function to maintain themselves properly.

12 October 2007

random blurbage from 03

I would like to point out a glaring inconsistency in the processes of government here of late. A stated aim of our recent invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan has been the 'liberation' of the people, thusly expressed as the provision of freedom for the peoples there and the removal of repressive regimes. This is tasked at the same time as the mass abdication of freedoms here. We are willing apparently to sacrifice that freedom which we feel is so pivotal to human lives abroad in order to present our own lives with an illusion of security. I say illusion because the feeling of security is not a replacement for the practically impossible reality of security. As long as we as a country are willing (as we should) to interact and affect the world on its global rhythms, we will be an exposed target for vehement reactionary tactics.

Were the various bombings vile, destructive acts that should be punished and, if possible, avoided? Yes, this is the only natural answer that exists. Evil should never be permitted free assault on the innocent. But to create vast agencies for the tracking of our people in an attempt to root out dysfunctional persons from their places of hiding is somewhat inconsistent with the unalienable rights of any person. We should permit someone to be displeased with our government, lest it commit its own atrocities or be advised to act discordant with the needs of its people. I feel myself that is attempting to do so in our quest for security and safety. And this is in fact the truer aim of our world-wide efforts. We are not in the business of distribution of freedom, because that's not something that can be forced upon people. We are in the business of security. This is the inconsistency. We have long been called or called ourselves the global policeman. The police aren't by themselves an agency for the liberation of the people; they are a force of order and law. This is not to say our quest is necessarily a vile purpose, but it is an unfortunate necessity of human beings incalculable ability to create chaos and disorder, often destructively. If we were capable of convincing dissatisfied people toward peaceable demonstration, active political debate, and generally peaceful measures of achieving some compromise of position that would be more reasonable to their needs, then the need for this quest would cease to exist.

But for whatever the reason, human beings seek to violently express themselves when their needs or wants are ignored by others. This is perhaps understandable, but it hasn't shown itself historically to achieve much. Violence serves more of a purpose in defending interests than in accessing new ones beyond your power. Most wars are started by one side seeking something (land, resources, etc) that the other side has access to or control of. Most wars have in recent times been lost by the aggressor nations (something to keep in mind). Most civil actions have achieved more success when a peaceful movement has frustrated civil authorities ability to control whatever injustices were being committed. More notice of those injustices is taken when violence takes to the streets of our towns and cities. But really all that is achieved is further alienation of the 'middle ground'. If a solution is to be forged in most disputes, it comes not from the disparate parties that are in conflict, but the innocent middle that has no quarrel or interest and becomes drawn in by the fanning flames. At this stage, we are in the middle ground most of us, and we are indeed alienated by the measures of the 'aggressors', namely terrorists. There are indeed certain aims that are perhaps wished for by these men, aims which in general are unacceptable to our own. But at this rate there are two possible outcomes. Either we intend to hunt out and destroy any dissenters here or abroad, which is not entirely consistent with the behavior of a democratic free state. Or we will be annihilated ourselves. I do not mean the alarm that someone will kill us all. I mean that our system will have been degraded so thoroughly that our way of life will cease to exist and at which point our foreign aims would seem inappropriate or hypocritical. We are steadily approaching this second state.

I say this because it seems to me there is little debate or interest on the topic. We are indeed right to be united behind the purpose of eliminating violent terrorist activity. But it should be called to question the nature of our endeavours. How this should be best done would be a debate of greater interest than the fact that it must be destroyed. We are too often seeing a lack of debate not only the level of you and I, but the level of government where it was intended to serve a true purpose to do so. More often than not I see in government news what is basically a series of finger pointing. Person A is against person B's agenda, but little reason is given, nor an alternative method pointed out. Are we that petty as to be separated by political parties which have in fact so little tangible difference as to be essentially the same? I should hope not, but unfortunately my wishes were not accounted for.

Since I'm calling to question 'the how' of our agenda, I will purpose some possibilities. It is clear that there is no interest in negotiation on either side. At this stage it would appear this is because both sides view the issue as a matter of survival. Which, being the underlying necessity of all people, it is not going to be a matter of finding a solution diplomatically. No one is going to logically say, well alright you can live and we'll all just go away and suffer and die. So what must be appealed to is not the cause of danger, but the cause of humanity itself. We should strive to find a common ground with the disinterested middle ground of both our lands and theirs. It would not be the hawks in our government or the terrorist cells that would have peace or a desire for it. It would be the innocents of these lands who are suffering the atrocities. For the time being the middle ground of 'their' side seems to side with the terrorists, at least passively. This leads me to a conclusion. We as a country have done something which is offensive to people abroad.

Our past is often a reflection of our present state. In this case, the repressive security methods suggested by many are in form similar to the repressive means used by our country upon countries abroad over the past 50 years at least. Longer still in our sphere of influence, namely Latin America. Suppression of domestic groups in opposition to our interests in these places is commonplace, even with brutal use of the military or police forces. This has happened here as well, but after a successful stand was made in the form of the civil rights movement, it has been much obligated to be a more subtle suppression. If you examine the history of those times you see that our government was deeply concerned about the 'subversive' activities of these civil rights leaders. Partially this was the time; communism was rampant and feared, for some reason (on both counts). But the principal reasoning is simply that they represented change, a simple yet drastic change in the social fabric of the country. It became evident that the change was a positive one, at least to some of us, and was a necessary one. But it was resisted, often violently, at all steps.

This is not evidence of our country having an evil streak, far from it. It suggests that we are as any other society, defensive of how things are, and how they are run. Sudden shifts in social order are disconcerting for both people and society. They take a considerable time to sort themselves out, and often drastically affect how things are controlled and who is doing the control. What is then offensive is that we have meddled and drastically effected the government and social fabric of various countries when it has suited our interests. It is only natural that the people of these lands might absorb some animosity over this. Even when the changes were not suppressive, but progressive. The inculcation of freedom, in the form of free elections, forcibly upon some, has been an inconsistent policy interest at best anyway. What seems to be the major issue is stability. A dictator who runs the country in an orderly way, without the specter of mass killings and food riots, is as tolerable as any elected officials.

That our principal interest is in fact secure environments in which to conduct business is not a bad cause. Indeed it possesses no moral fabric at all. But to claim that our interests extend to supplying freedom is ridiculous double talk. If we were to supply it to others we would also need to be fighting to ensure it is supplied to the people of this country. As we are not fighting, but simply expecting it to be taken care of, there is a cause of concern. Voices of dissent are objects of hatred and ridicule, decried as anti-patriotic. If supporters of implemented governmental policy are to be the only patriots then we are not in possession of our basic freedom. Namely that we are able to make up our own minds and thus disagree if we find on that matter to do so. Patriotism, as it would be defined in America, is not the support of a country, but an idea of how to make that country a better place. We are all ultimately travelers from distant lands, abandoning homes and families in search of this idea and dreaming of its promise. We do not now have a country to defend, but an idea. And the battlefields here are strewn with promise and abandoned to realities. Yes, perhaps our homes and families are endangered. But when in life are we not at risk for something? Today, despite the many peaceful measures taken, Russia and the US stand minutes from nuclear annihilation. Biological research has taken on fearful concepts, putting things such as genetic manipulation or cloning in the forefront. Who would control such things, and what sort of potential is available? In an age that business and communications are increasingly global, the interests of our people should be as well. Not egocentrically controlled over the matter of how much higher we can raise our quality of life, but center on raising that of the entire world or at least understanding that not all peoples are inherently Americans.

Raising the stakes in this way is in fact the only way to make peace. The frustrations of a mass of people are always easier to make and to hear when so many of them are suffering from privations. Where a people are well-off, there is something of a functional society to risk by taking aggressive measures. More peaceful measures are sought to fight for rights and privileges. While there will always be a few aggressive dissenters who will strike at others violently and painfully, the matter should not be to seek to so control the other more docile persons in order to find and catch these few raw fish. If the majority is engaged in rational discussion or at least sitting and talking over things, these few rebels will stick out like a sore thumb for the advocacy and participation of more direct actions. Occasionally such people are even necessary to highlight our failures. It is a virtual impossibility to rationally sate all of our needs through interaction. But a functional society with a sense of law over lawlessness (and concurrently law through liberty, rather than the other way around) would seem to encourage us to take a different path to our satisfactions.

I wrote this back in 03 (shortly after the invasion of Iraq), as the title indicates. I've been digging around in my old written rants and files and finding some things of interest to me. Some are personal notes to myself, written in essay forms, but occasionally I wrote something which I occasionally intended to find a willing partner to express my words to the greater public. Obviously my discontent with the greater public has led me not to share such things with them, feeling the great society as an unworthily slug dragging down the abilities of individuals by harnessing them to oppressive and boring methods.