False Egalitarianism Consumes the World, Feigning a Smile

The United States of America is the land of the ridiculous, the absurd, and thus the dangerous. The pinnacle of its nadir is Trump—the reductio of the idea that a Constitution, no matter how apparently enlightened, is sufficient for greatness, a healthy society and world. While other times have been problematic and terrible in their own way, today we have the great fortune of being what we always wanted to be: special.

Today is a world of conflation, the inability to clearly distinguish between this and that. If the this and that were merely Captain D’s and Long John Silvers, then it would be of little import. Alas, one of the fundamental conflations concerns people and their value. If I had the tiniest cut every time I heard the expression that everyone has a right to their opinion, then I would have bled out long ago. I suppose there’s some basic thing there that’s true, i.e., I don’t have the right to somehow brainwash you or plant a chip in your brain to make you think something. But beyond that, the claim is empty of the content that people seem to think it holds. For they seem to think that it means that their opinion is of equal value with anyone and everyone else’s. Aside from the understandable desire to feel special and at least as smart if not smarter than one’s neighbor, I take it that what truly grounds this inanity is the idea that if one person tells another that their opinion is foolish, stupid, and/or dangerous, or if one has the fortitude to admit this to oneself, then their humanity has been denigrated. If I tell another that I know better than them, then I’m implying that they are somehow lesser as a person.

This is, of course, ridiculous on two fronts. With a little thought one can see that we can respect somebody’s humanity, their personhood, their claims to the rights granted to persons in our society, while at the same time saying that they are not as good as someone else in some aspect, for example, their ability to reason clearly, their understanding of history, their understanding of politics, their understanding of human psychology, their understanding of themselves, etc. — That is not to say that there is no danger in judging others to be inferior in some aspect, for it is all too easy for that to slip into a condemnation of their humanity. So, we must be ever vigilant of that slippage. However, such possibilities of danger should not cause us to “err on the side of caution (stupidity)” and allow ridiculousness to run rampant, as we do.

Continue reading

Atlanta Protest 11.11.16

What happened last night in Atlanta with the protest that organized in the Historic Fourth Ward Park, next to the Masquerade club, and across from the recently developed Ponce City Market (cough, “gentrification”), and then proceeded to march through Atlanta, taking an indirect route past mlkjr-drive-protest-picGeorgia State University and the State Capital building? More importantly, why were people gathering and protesting? Why were they disrupting the traffic, tying up intersections? From a variety of sources, it’s quite clear that there is either confusion or outright misunderstanding and mischaracterization of what happened and why. Having been there from 6 pm to 9:30, this is my take. I know that I leave many issues out that the protest concerned (may I be forgiven for that).

Even though I went to bed later than usual last night (around 1:00 am), I was not able to sleep past 5:00 am. This is in part because I’m still struggling with the time change, and in part because the energy, the import, and the chants from last night’s protest and march echo in my mind. So, getting up I fed the animals and sat down listening to the National News broadcast on NPR. They reported on protests around the country. In Oregon, things were more chaotic than in Atlanta, as one person was shot and police used teargas and flash-bang grenades to try to break things up. Thankfully, that did not happen in Atlanta last night.

Continue reading

The Democratic Fallacy?— A Dialogue

Jim and Sara have just left the philosophy class they take together and are walking on campus.

Jim: I heard some people talking on the bus, saying they want to see Bernie Sanders contest Hilary Clinton’s nomination at the Democratic convention. They think he’s been screwed over by the way the delegates are partitioned, among other things.

Sara: I heard something like that, too. I’m sympathetic, but I already heard complaints about how undemocratic that would be.

Jim: Undemocratic? Hell, this isn’t a democracy anyway; and I don’t mean it’s a republic—people often try to seem smart by pointing out that the US is not a democracy but a republic. But, c’mon, it’s not either—more like an oligarchy.

Sara: Right?! And I know that for many around here what I’m about to say will be akin to recommending we strangle the nearest baby with an America flag, but I’m not so sure about democracy anyway.

Jim: Hah! Really?! Aren’t you in good company with Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Didn’t they all hate democracy? Plato, in particular, saw Socrates’ death as the result of democracy and so for him democracy is nothing but mob rule, right?

Sara: Thank you! I guess I can say what I really mean then?!

Jim: Well, of course! Like I said, you’re in good company, though Aristotle was a son-of-a-bitch about women and slaves, and I don’t think Plato and Socrates were much better. What was that line of the poets, again? You know, the one you told me about that Aristotle quoted, “The virtue of a woman is silence.” Fucker! Anyway, you certainly can say what you mean! Don’t be silent with me!

Sara: Yeah….don’t get me started on philosophers and women! —What I wanted to say was that I’ve long wondered why democracy isn’t simply the committing of the appeal to the majority fallacy?
Continue reading