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Lone non-liberal here
Posted on Monday, October 17, 2005 - 11:12 pm:   

I've finally developed an understanding of liberals and have developed a catchy phrase that sums them up nicely:

"Reflecting the wisdom and experience of teenagers and college students."
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 12:55 am:   

I don't think there are that many liberals here. I think for the crowd here liberals is who they throw up against the wall when the revolution comes.

I think the politics here is mostly to the Left of Bernie Sanders and edging near the World Socialist Web site or the A.N.S.W.E.R coalition. Judging from some of the European poster it's people who are so left of center they're mostly marginalized even in places like Scandinavia.
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 03:50 am:   

"Reflecting the wisdom and experience of teenagers and college students."

What, like this teenager or this college student, or this 24 year old, presumably just that little bit wiser and more experienced, but clearly not as wise and experienced as yer boot-boy vanguard, ya spineless, gutless, ball-less, soul-less, nameless coward?

Me, I've finally developed an understanding of right-wingers and have developed a catchy phrase that sums them up nicely:

"Chickenshit cunts."
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 04:14 am:   

I think he is likely a troll and maybe I shouldn't have responded. Although from what I remember most here are Leftists and not liberals. Also the term liberal is confusing in that for much of the world a liberal is someone who believes in small government and has faith in the free-market.

At the same time Fred Phelps is very much not representative or even that linked to the Right. He protests the funerals of soldiers and worked for Gore's 1988 campaign. He also has praised Castro for persecuting homosexuality.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 04:17 am:   

I should've given a source on that


quote:

Phelps remained prominent in state and local politics, working for years as a major organizer for the state's Democratic Party. (He still calls himself a Democrat, refusing to change just because his party has.) In 1988, Phelps housed campaign workers for Al Gore's first presidential run; in 1989, his eldest son, Fred Jr., hosted a fundraiser for Gore's Senate campaign at his home.

Mother Jones.com



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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 04:35 am:   

But hey, thanks for that link, Thomas, or I wouldn't have known about the fucking Nazis on the march in Toledo. Unless I'd been reading them rabid liberal loonies CNN or the Toledo Blade or MSNBC.

You know, it's kinda funny to me, in a "LYNCH ME, YOU FUCKERS, I GOT ETHICS!" kinda way, how Right-Wingers preach on and on about morals drawn from this authoritative book or that -- Mein Kampf or the Bible or some other kindergarten volks-spiel -- as if trying to come up with their own fuckin ethical code is just too scary a prospect in its uncertainty. It's kinda... chickenshit, no?

And it's kinda funny to me, in a "GROW A FUCKING EMPATHY RESPONSE, ASSWIPES!" kinda way, how Right-Wingers just don't really give a fuck about -- often, indeed, actively hate -- anybody that's outside their own wee tribe. That kinda makes them... cunts, no?
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 04:50 am:   

Yes, he's a troll, Thomas. You're not. Fair enough. But I ain't in the mood to put up with a snot-nosed little anonymouse today.

And right now, frankly, I'm of the opinion that Phelps isn't "representative" of the Right-Wing; he's a fucking paragon, an exemplary icon, a logical extrapolation par excellence of the intellectual cowardice (wherein the Right-Winger rests his judgement on received morality rather than self-critical ethics) and the sociopathic callousness (wherein the Right-Winger short-circuits non-discriminatory empathy for human beings in order to exclude the "non-deserving" from aforesaid morality) which lies at the core of Right-Wing politics.

In short... chickenshit cunts.
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Jim M
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 07:46 am:   

Al, you da BOMB!
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Thomas R.
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 07:56 am:   

Okay, Okay. I think you're overreacting though, but it seems to work for you.
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Anonymous
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 09:03 am:   

Al

It seems to me when you say, "...often, indeed, actively hate -- anybody that's outside their own wee tribe," you're describing yourself. Read your own posts with an open mind and you may realize that you're embarrassing yourself. You have pre-judged--and obviously hate--an entire group of people (many of them good) because they stand outside of your "wee tribe." You are as superfluous as the person who started this thread.
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Bob Urell
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 09:08 am:   

Works for me. Up to a point, that is. Lumpy scatological generalizations are usually what get me in trouble, so I'm taking the structurationist way out and saying that each person's activities are as equally a part of their own will as they are determined by their "own wee tribe." Though, Al, to be fair, that hate-response is documented and illustrated by your own, don't you think. Slap a label (Right-Wingers) on the wall, draw the box around yourself and your wee tribe and dish out some stanky hate of your own, why don't ya? Me, I'd pray for Armageddon if I wasn't such a wussy secular humanist.
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Lucius
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 10:02 am:   

To state the obvious, threads are superfluous, especially those frequented by chickenshit cunts, and, to a certain extent, we are who we hate.

Me, I'm down with Al...
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 10:04 am:   

It seems to me when you say, "...often, indeed, actively hate -- anybody that's outside their own wee tribe," you're describing yourself.

No, Anonymouse. I have no tribal hatred for "Lone non-liberal here". I have anger in response to his actions. I have lost patience with the sort of intellectual cowardice and sociopathic callousness he demonstrates in his anonymous sniping. I consider it past time that liberals expose the puerile mindset which underlies the Right-Wing belief system and the actions generated by it. This is not hatred, Anonymouse, this is the fury of an ethical and empathic man faced with the mindless moralising and contemptous self-interest of the self-righteous Right. This is not hatred, Anonymouse, simply my way of saying "Nil Paseran!".

Basta.

Poke a bear and see it growl, Anonymouse. Or is that sort of wisdom and experience alien to all Right-Winger trolls and their bleating followers? Apparently so, from the juvnile trolling of LNLH.

Hence, I treat LNLH to the verbal slapping which appears to be required to instill respect in those who have not yet developed ethical judgement, who remain locked into "moral" belief systems with foundations which a) rest not on critical faculties but on the received wisdom of some supposed authority (and must therefore be enforced with reward and punishment); and b) deliberately abrogate empathy in order to demonise, marginalise and exploit.

You have pre-judged... an entire group of people...

No, Anonymouse, I have post-judged, as should be eminently clear to anyone with the gumption to examine their own belief system and the good form not to spew spiteful nonsense before having done so. I made a personal judgement on LNHL based on his post. I group him with the bigots and their behaviour exemplified by my link. I consider this applicable to all Right-Wingers because I hold their system of beliefs to be ethically unsound in the extreme, deeply and fundamentally flawed. I specify exactly what about that system of beliefs I consider abhorrent, and I will do so again... to wit:

The Right-Winger rests his judgement on received morality rather than self-critical ethics. This is intellectual cowardice. The Right-Winger short-circuits non-discriminatory empathy for all human beings in order to exclude the "non-deserving" from aforesaid morality. This is sociopathic callousness. If I express this with vehemence -- vitriol, even -- in the form of a simple and concise "chickenshit cunts" it is because I consider this an entirely apt description and am in exactly the right mood to treat the infantile squawkings of the Right with the sort of unbridled scorn they rarely meet with from the ethical and empathic Left, and which they so richly deserve.

I repeat:

Poke a bear and see it growl, Anonymouse.

Do not fucking well try and tell me that I am out of order for slapping down a chickenshit cunt who has spit in my face.
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Chickenshit Cunt II
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 10:57 am:   

This brings to mind the joke about kittens. They're born Labour, you see, but become Torries after a short time. Why? Their eyes finally open!
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AliceB
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 11:25 am:   

"Right-Wingers just don't really give a fuck about -- often, indeed, actively hate -- anybody that's outside their own wee tribe. That kinda makes them... cunts, no?"

No. It makes them xenophobes. Cunts are actually very welcoming--the time honored tool of the oldest profession. They have no political agenda, being the progenitors of every human in existence. I'm not all that good at coming up with put-downs--but "cunts"... well, being the happy owner of one would prefer not to have those chickenshit, narrow-minded, self-interested bigots associated with any part of my anatomy.

Best,
Alice
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 11:28 am:   

Yes, well, cats aren't exactly known to be the most social of animals, are they?

Dogs, however... now they know that it's vastly more rewarding not to just look out for Number One.

Or bonobos. Yes, bonobos are a much better social model, being primates and all. And they're shag-crazy hippies from the cradle to the grave. Now, wouldn't that be so much more fun than being some prissy little fat moggy like Ann Widdecombe? Or even a shaggy well-natured mutt like Michael Foot?
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 11:37 am:   

Alice: You are, of course, quite right. I try to tell myself that "cunt" actually has an alternative etymology by which it's really a corruption of "Count", and hence entirely sensibly derives it negative connotations from the selfishness and arrogance of yer average peasant-pestering, porphyria-ridden member of the "nobility"... but, sadly, no, you are quite right.
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Anonymous
Posted on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - 05:20 pm:   

Al Duncan:

You have proven my point for me.

"No, Anonymouse, I have post-judged..."

"I consider this applicable to all Right-Wingers..."

"this is the fury of an ethical and empathic man faced with the mindless moralising and contemptous self-interest of the self-righteous Right." Mindless moralising? Contemptous self-interest?? Self-righteous??? Good lord man, look in the mirror.

By the way, I am a liberal. You, and the similiarly closed minded people on the far-right, are the problem.

Please refer to the last sentence of my previous post. And good look with what remains of your obviously very challenging life.
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Bryn Llewellyn
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 02:41 am:   

Julian Cope is quite convinced that the etymology of the C-word derives from the River Kennett in Wiltshire (U.K.)
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Thomas R.
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 03:21 am:   

This is not hatred, Anonymouse, this is the fury of an ethical and empathic man faced with the mindless moralising and contemptous self-interest of the self-righteous Right.

TR: It's difficult to see what if any difference there is between this and hatred.

The Left can be just as moralizing and self-righteous as anyone I know on the Right. I've seen people here judge people who I know are atheistic liberal Democratic party types as "neo-cons." I know people who campaigned for John Kerry who think this place is extreme Left. You delight in the deaths and miseries of your political opponents, which is actually worse then most Right-wingers I know. I knew many conservatives or Rightists who were sad when Paul Wellstone died. I think if Sam Brownback or Anne Widecombe died in a plane crash you'd be joyously whooping it up. Many here are self-professed anti-Catholics or are hostile to various other religions.

It's really only a hop, skip, and a jump for many of you to become a Right-wing xenophobe who doesn't want Africans in your country because they're "cultures are Radically Religious Right." Look at Pim Fortuyn.
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al duncan
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 04:52 am:   

Anonymous, Bob, etc: Yes, I freely admit that my tone in yesterday's posts was bullish and aggressive. Coming in the wake of Pope Benedict's announcement that gay priests must henceforth "prove" their celibacy, a recent New Scientist feature focusing on the rise of Fundamentalism and positing the "End of the Enlightenment", the debate on Intelligent Design (which, leaving aside the satirical potential of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and all the hoo-ha over religion and science, is actually a serious issue for me in that it provides a validation for the hatred of homosexuality as "unnatural" -- i.e. contrary to that Design), and then the homophobic murder of Jody Dobrowski at the weekend for which three adolescents are now under investigation... I think a few words of invective in response to a thread characterising the politics of tolerance as "reflecting the wisdom and experience of a teenager or a college student" are hardly equivalent to the endemic hate-mongering of the Right.

Is there something ironic about being intolerant of intolerance? Yes; I'm well aware of that. Am I using the very methods of attack I argue against? Absolutely. That first post deliberately adopts the structure and tone of LNLH's post in order to meet his sneering tone of disdain on its own terms, to mirror its hostility and up the ante. Is this "a problem" in that by rejecting reasoned dialogue in favour of antipathy and aggression I simply entrench the opposition? I would argue that this thread was never intended to instigate dialogue but is simply a troll's attempt to bait such as myself. I responded to that baiting because I think the ascendancy of the Right should not be met with complacency or apathy. If you hold to the opinion, as I do, that the Right is in the ascendancy and that this is, to put it succinctly, Not Good, I think there comes a point where you have to draw a line and take a stand at it.

But the million dollar question here is this: am I guilty of an equivalent dogmatism to the Right's, of tarring them all with the same brush, setting them up as a scapegoat figure of irrational hate? I don't believe so. Strip away the overkill of vitriol and I think my posts contain a serious counterpoint to the, as yet, entirely unfounded assertion by LNLH that the politics of tolerance -- liberalism -- is a product of the immature and naïve mindset of "teenagers and college students". In response, I characterise the Right as a) rejecting independent ethical judgement in favour of received moral authority; b) persistently and systematically brutal with regard to the suffering of those it characterises as Other. Where LNLH offers no substantiation for his claim I provide links to examples which, I consider, reveal the Right Wing value system, a value system which I am ultimately characterising as a) ethical cowardice; b) sociopathic callousness.

Now, I'm not characterising the Right as an Other here according to some arbitrary commonality of ethnic origins, gender, sexual identity, economic class or what-have-you -- as the Right so often does with Jews, women, gays, blacks, gypsies, asylum-seekers, benefits-spongers, etc.. Both LNLH and myself are talking about political belief systems as products of a world-view. He asserts that a politics of the Left (in its naïve support for institutionalised tolerance, presumably) is the product of sophomoric thinking. I assert that the politics of the Right is the product of something far more heinous. I think it is entirely fair to judge individuals who ascribe to a belief system on a general basis, in terms of the pros and cons of that belief system, the causes and effects, given that they are identifying themselves with that belief system. I think it is quite fair to say "all White Supremacists are racists", "all Neo-Nazis are anti-Semites", and so on. I am not, I must stress, saying that the Right are all fascists. What I am saying is that the Right are all working on a value system which shares key underlying unpalatable features. I may be quite passionate in my condemnation of what I see as ignorance and savagery; but I think this is a sound judgement based on the words and behaviour of those who label themselves Right.

I may not have made this clear in all that vitriol above, but I'm asserting that the extreme examples I've given of this mindset -- e.g. Fred Phelps -- are not the postion of the majority of the Right, but can be considered logical extrapolations of the axiomatic underpinnings of the Right. Not all the Right carry their value system to such extremes. I think that's true but irrelevant. I could and would reiterate my case that the core values by which the Right identifies itself as Right are essentially a) moralistic rather than ethical; b) callous rather than empathic. I make the first judgement based on the emphasis placed by the Right on social mores over indivdual ethics, its constant appeals to an authority, whether it be God, Allah or Darwin, in justifying its absolute decrees on what is right and what is wrong, its rejection of Aristotelian or any other form of non-dogmatic ethics as "moral relativism". I make the second judgement based on the overt opposition of the Right to liberal/socialist ideas of welfare, health care, etc. -- i.e. society providing to some extent for the needs of its constituent members. I make the second judgement based also on the Right's historical and contemporary association with outright prejudice, on its tendency to victimise minorities, to exclude them from empathy by demonising them as "sub-human". I do not see these as terribly earth-shaking insights about the nature of the Right. I think they are demonstrably self-evident.

My anger at such a corrupt value system is not the issue. My hatred of those who practice and preach it is not the issue. Both anger and hate are entirely natural emotional responses to a situation, and whether they are "right" or "wrong" is entirely dependent on case-by-case existential context. What I take issue with is the systematisation of anger and hatred unmitigated by empathy, as part of the psychological and political mechanisms at the heart of the Right's value system. Thomas, I don't disagree that the Left can be guilty of the sort of schadenfreude you describe. The Right, however, persistently and systematically utilises such schadenfreude to provide its followers with scapegoats guilty of no other sin than being different. Personally, I try to rein in my fury when I see such hate-crimes as the murder of Jody Dobrowski, to consider the perpetrators as, well, fundamentally immature, undeveloped in terms of ethics and undeveloped in terms of empathy. But reason alone, it seems, is insufficient to combat the intransigent enmity of those who hold such value systems; so sometimes we need to let passion loose to take a stand.

Now, I'll happily elaborate on the distinction between morals as socially-imposed, arbitrary and authoritative absolutes and ethics as individually-selected, existential and contingent judgement-calls. I'll happily elaborate on the relative maturity of value systems based on these, in terms of sociological studies of the development of ethical behaviour in childhood. I'll happily elaborate on the ethical application of empathy which is axiomatic to the Left, and on the Right's implacable opposition to any form of institutionalised altruism. I'll happily justify my position at some length. But a critique of the Right's politics of unreason will, in all likelihood, have zero impact on the implacable hostility of LNLH and his supporters, or for that matter, on the intractable complacency and apathy of those on the Left who see either no need or no purpose in standing up to that hostility.
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 06:24 am:   

Hear, hear!
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 06:38 am:   


quote:

[Bryn Llewellyn wrote:] Julian Cope is quite convinced that the etymology of the C-word derives from the River Kennett in Wiltshire (U.K.)




I'm pretty sure this etymology is in error. A number of Germanic languages have cognate forms (e.g. Old Norse kunta) and so does Latin (cunnus). So the word probably descends from an Indo-European root. (Insert joke here.)

On the broader issue, I can understand Al Duncan's rage, and I agree that someone who tries to put the knife in someone with an anonymous post is beneath contempt. But I'd also say he's playing the mirror-image of a game played by many right-wingers: politics as cultural identity. "I am a member of group A! You are a member of Group B! Group A good! Group B bad! Ha, ha, ha!" Lather, rinse, repeat.

It may be emotionally satisfying, but it gets us nowhere. People do not change their cultural identity because they hear someone shrieking insults at it. And, in any case, public policy issues hinge on matters of fact which aren't the exclusive property of any particular political philosophy.

JMP("Pubic Policy")
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 06:49 am:   

Wikipedia, for what it's worth, derives the word from Germanic roots: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cunt#History
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Jim M
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 06:51 am:   

Well, well, well.
First, what Al said.

Second, Anon, Al never once painted you with the brush of Rightwing. Re-read his posts. While he's addressing many of his comments to you, he did not lump you in with LHLH. In fact, he takes pains to mention LNLH when making specific references. (Okay, he bastardized your "Anonymous" into "Anonynmouse," but I think that's fair, considering your unwillingness to use your name.)

Oh, and Al, you're forgetting one important thing, at least to how Right-wing politics applies in today's USA, and that is they are not opposed to welfare, as long as it's being applied to benefit corporations and the wealthy. Bush's tax breaks and the unbelievable amount of pork in the federal budget are the most costly welfare this nation has ever seen. (Over 6000 pork projects in the transportation budget alone.) But it still does prove your second point of being callous by nature, rather than empathic. (Actually, very empathic to the suffering of oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, all of whom have suffered terribly since those namby-pamby protections for the American people started to be enacted back in the day...)
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Jim M
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 07:05 am:   

JMP, you may have a point, but in the practical world, I think the greatest failing among those who stand against the neocon world is that they don't do a good enough job of calling the rightwingers exactly what they are: righteous bigots who want to drag the world back into the 1830s (at least in terms of US history), where the Whig party ran amok via rampant evangelical preaching delivered in faux folksie lingo (sound like anybody's favorite Shrub?) and defending the long-suffering wealthy against those dangerous, self-serving political insiders. Anti-Jacksonian politics reborn for a new century...

I'm glad Al is not willing to be one of those who stands by and says nothing. Goodonya, mate! And let's remember, Al freely admits to resorting to the same tactics as those he opposes. Maybe it's time to fight fire with fire.

There are 18 different states in the USA who have some form of legislation either enacted or under condsideration that either support Intelligent Design being taught or undermines teaching Evolution in science classes. Dear Lord, even the Catholic Church has rejected Intelligent Design as a "scientific" theory. And this won't stop until enough of us stand up and say something.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 07:22 am:   

If anything, Al, your response to these witless provocations by hideaway hero apologists for the Right (who seem to take things like the murder of Jody Dobrowski so pathetically lightly) was pretty moderate in relation to the magnitude of that crime. And, Christ, when I saw the mention in Vellum of god hates fags, I truly hoped it was part of the fiction, though suspected it wasn't, and so it proves.

It's true that the Right are not all fascists, but as far as I'm concerned the "moderate" Right (if that's not a contradiction) provides a foundation for a pyramid that eventually becomes fascist the higher you go up (or lower you go down). So, while someone on the Right might claim immunity from the more extreme or ethically unpalatable forms of intolerance, they're nevertheless propping it up, whether they want to be or not, and if they can't take that responsibility, then they ought to apply their political allegiances elsewhere.

This is perhaps a demonstration of my own position that, while reasoned argument against the politics of intolerance is necessary, like you're demonstrating now, Al, I would also argue that unreasoned argument, fuelled by passion, anger and hatred, are all legitimate ethical positions absolutely necessary for wiping Right Wing extremism off the face of the earth.

I agree, Jim M. fight fire with fire. Or, actually, wipe it out under an almighty deluge of oceanic proportions.
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Jim M
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 07:37 am:   

An excellent example of that pyramidal base: "Pro-life" Catholics who claim they have to support Bush. WTF? The Pro-Life platform put forth by John Paul II hisownself has four planks:
1) anti-abortion
2) anti-stem cell research
3) anti-death penalty
4) anti-Iraq War

While I personally have different takes on the first two, that's irrelevant to the argument I'm making. Even if you can somehow look past how George W _executed_ the _mentally_ _retarded_ while Gov of TX (and made jokes about it while it was under the appeal process), the number one USA political issue that JPII spoke out against in the last years of his life was against the Iraq War. Repeatedly. There's simply no way a Catholic who's true to their faith could support Bush. Why aren't we talking about refusing the Eucharist to any Catholic politician who supported the Iraq War? Or the Death Penalty? Or is against stem cell research? Hmmmm? Let's get after that "moderate" base of hypocrites.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 08:41 am:   

The church has never made it an official policy that the death penalty is always wrong. This is something people believe for whatever political reason they need to believe it. JPII's own statements were that the death penalty is only acceptable in those rare cases where the benefit to society outweighs the harm to the individual. A death penalty like Japan's, where few people are executed and most who do get executed are mass-murderers, I think could still be acceptable within Catholic social norms. The Papal states also had an executioner until 1865. Opposition to the death penalty is a comparatively modern Catholic development, not covered by any official ruling.

As for the Iraq war it's a cause celebre of the moment, it's not an issue that's likely to matter ten years from now except as history. So there would be no reason to state excommunication would be possible or desirable on the matter.

Now there are Right-wing things you could be excommunicated for, but it has to be something considered an excommunicatable offense. For example several members of the Society of St. Pius X were excommunicated for rejecting Vatican II. Before that Leonard Feeley was excommunicated for saying all those not baptized in water are damned. Before that the magazine Action Francaise was put on the Index for Agnostic ultra-nationalism. In theory a Right-winger could also be excommunicated for publicly revering the US above the Catholic Church. Or for supporting the ministry of Pat Robertson or Falwell. Although in reality Catholics aren't denied communion for political views that often. In fact Catholics are rarely cut off for any reason, hence even the scummy priests were passled around rather then kicked out.
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Barry Roberts
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 08:51 am:   

Alistair Rennie

quote:

Al, I would also argue that unreasoned argument, fuelled by passion, anger and hatred, are all legitimate ethical positions absolutely necessary for wiping Right Wing extremism off the face of the earth.



!!!!!!???????????!!! Unreasoned argument, fuelled by anger and hatred are all legitimate and ethical??? Unreason, anger and hatred is....legitimate and ethical!!! How so? Proves Anonymous's point. I thought unreason, anger and hatred were at the basis of homophobia, but to Rennie it is necessary to wipe out homophobia and whatever else is rooted in unreason and hatred. Go figure. Talk about delusional.


quote:

then they ought to apply their political allegiances elsewhere.



yeah perhaps with characters like George Galloway. What a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites.
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al duncan
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 09:17 am:   

Barry, you don't actually appear to have an argument yourself. So here's one, since you're takling about unreason:

The Politics Of Unreason

The Left has a simple axiom in "from each according to ability, to each according to need." That's fairly straightforward... equalising compensation for inequities. How far you go in compensating, what systems you choose to employ -- from a few socialist measures within the framework of liberal democracy, to out-and-out communism -- is really just a matter of how far you take the collectivism. At an extreme of dogmatic totalitarianism it's possible for this to become little more than an absolutist authoritarian mantra, but this is not the underlying usage in liberal/socialist circles. In liberal democratic approaches to socialism this axiom is clearly treated as one of Lawrence Kohlberg's:

"universal principles of justice, of the reciprocity and equality of the human rights, and of respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons"

Building on the work of Piaget before him, Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development (1971) is considered the classic study of how children develop from absolute egocentrics to, eventually, just such axioms. For any rational argument, this is unquestionably the yardstick by which to measure the relative maturity of political value systems. And the liberal value system, the politics of tolerance and support, as an ethical application of empathy, clearly belongs at Kohlberg's most advanced level, the Post-Conventional, Autonomous or Principled Level. Indeed, I'd argue that the very pragmatic and axiomatic principle of supporting the weak which the Right characterise as "bleeding heart liberalism" quite obviously belongs at the top stage, Stage 6, the universal ethical-principle orientation:

"These principles are abstract and ethical (the Golden Rule, the categorical imperative); they are not concrete moral rules like the Ten Commandments"

The concept of "the greatest good for the greatest many", of acting as if setting universal moral standards with each act rather than adhering to them, or of balancing the inequities of society by resource-sharing -- these are the markers of ethical maturity.

What, if anything, is the Right's equivalent of that axiom? What principle can be corrupted into full-fledged jackboot-in-the-face fascism but starts out in the middle ground of small-c conservatism? The direct inversion of Marx's axiom is the "I'm alright, Jack" attitude, the amoral individualism of the libertarian. But where Thatcher's radical agenda, her denial of society's very existence, might seem to fit with this attitude, it's quite unlike the traditionalism and conformism of the typical conservative who'll quite happily talk about "doing one's duty" and "contributing to society". So what moral axiom is it that unites the Free Market economist, the anti-Semite, the Telegraph reader, the Christian Fundamentalist, the Fox News anchor, the middle-class NIMBY, and so on?

Well… here's a fairly bland and innocuous article… nothing special, just your typical Right Wing argument against free health care. But if you read it closely it's quite revealing of an underlying value system.

So...

From Capitalism Magazine (March 19, 1999):

"For example, consider an issue Canadians are deeply concerned about: health care. Liberals champion socialist medicine, which means government as a monopoly provider of "free" health care paid for by money extorted via progressive taxation."

Hold on there. Rewind. Enhance focus on the implicit concern in that last sentence. Reiterate: "money extorted via progressive taxation"?

Interesting. There's an implicit emotional reaction here. Money is not merely "raised" in taxation but "extorted" -- obtained by coercion, by intimidation. The implication of this word is that the poor Rightist is paying taxes because they a) feel they are forced to; b) are afraid of repercussions of non-payment. The implication of this word is that the poor Rightist resents paying taxes to fund universal health care. To the Rightist, the benefits offered by taxation are far outweighed by their personal loss in terms of status. To provide support for others is such a cruel and onerous burden, so ruinous in terms of finance and/or face, that the Rightist can only think of it as extortion.

Is it not possible to distinguish in this resentment some of Kohlberg's earliest stage of the Pre-Conventional Level, the stage of egocentric judgement?...

"The child makes judgements of good on the basis of what he likes and wants or what helps him, and bad on the basis of what he does not like or what hurts him. He has no concept of rules or of obligations to obey or conform to independent of his wish"

In our example the "victimised" Rightist's terminology reveals a psychology of exactly such self-interest and self-pity. The base unit act of altruism -- resource-sharing -- is here being considered not as a freely made choice, but as an imposition, an act carried out only under duress and clearly begrudged. The central axiom of liberal socialism, the ethical application of empathy, of contributions given and received "from each according to ability, to each according to need" is, to the infantile psychology of the Right, rejected as bad because it harms him and resented in an atavistic regression to the petulance of a pre-schooler.

This is rejection of perceived obligation is made explicit in the following paragraph of our Capitalist Magazine article.

"The principle underlying this Liberal policy is Karl Marx's dictum: "from each according to ability, to each according to need." Or, as Finance Minister Paul Martin stated it proudly: "Our health care system is blind to income so that its eyes can focus on need." It's the morality of altruism -- the belief that one has a moral duty to sacrifice oneself to others, to the collective."

Hold on. Rewind there. Enhance focus on the projection of motivation. Reiterate: "the belief that one has a moral duty to sacrifice oneself to others".

There is a fallacious assumption of motivation here that gets to the heart of the matter, a blind spot on the part of the Rightist that reveals the fundamental nature of his value system. There is no consideration that this resource-sharing might not be the morality of altruism, but rather the ethics of altruism, that the self-sacrificing act may be the product of an ethical decision rather than a belief in moral duty. No, the knee-jerk assumption of the Right is that this is a matter of setting one's jaw, muttering under one's breath and simply doing what is expected of one. They can, it appears, barely even conceive of an ethical choice to make a minor financial sacrifice in order to ease another's burden. Their only understanding of this is the conecpt of a "moral duty to sacrifice oneself to others".

This is, I would say, clearly cognate with Kohlberg's intermediate Conventional Level, stage 4 -- the "law and order" orientation -- which he describes thus:

The individual is oriented toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of the social order. Right behavior consists in doing one's duty, showing respect for authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake.

There is an essential difference between morals and ethics, to my mind, a distinction that needs to be made here. Morals -- mores -- are the rules of the society to which the individual must adhere whether or not they believe in them. Ethics are the personal code of behaviour of an individual or a group. They are the product of a decision, a choice, a judgement. If we are acting in accordance with society's morals it is entirely possible that we are doing so against our will -- by coercion, by intimidation. If we are acting in accordance with our personal ethics, however, we are acting on our own volition. We have chosen this path not because it is expected of us by society, but because, at most, we expect it of ourselves. We could call it honour. We could call it integrity. We could consider it an act driven by the urge to measure up to our own standards, a choice to act on this desire over baser impulses. The important thing is that the decision is subsumed into our identity and cannot be projected outwards into resentment.

So we come back to Kohlberg's Post-Conventional, Autonomous, Individual Level, as related to liberal/socialist collectivist politics. Kohlberg describes this acceptance that one actually has the capacity to make ethical judgements without regard to God, Allah, Darwin or George W. Bush:

"The individual makes a clear effort to define moral values and principles that have validity and application apart from the authority of the groups of persons holding them and apart from the individual's own identification with the group."

So the liberal/socialist decides that it is just and fair and equitable for him to pay a few pennies in every pound to pay for free health care. This is entirely different to a "belief that one has a moral duty". We may, like a pacifist sent a white feather, be informed of our moral duty by society and ethically question it. We may know fine well that this is what is expected of us by society and reject it as unethical, refuse to fight. We may know that this is what is expected of us by society and reject it as outside our interest, for purely selfish reasons, with no ethical qualms whatsoever. We may know that this is what is expected of us by society and, with no ethical judgement one way or the other, carry it out, all the while resenting the imposition on our selfish sovereignty, under the coercion, the intimidation of society... the extortion. Is there not in fact, in this Rightist concept of moral duty, the remnants of Preconventional incomprehension:

"The physical consequences of action determine its goodness or badness regardless of the human meaning or value of these consequences. Avoidance of punishment and unquestioning deference to power are values in their own right, not in terms of respect for an underlying moral order supported by punishment and authority."

If one has no ethics to speak of, it is entirely understandable that one would speak only in terms of morality. If one has no ethics to speak of, it is entirely understandable that one would resent any conflict between moral imperatives and one's own petty desires. If one has no ethics to speak of -- and no respect, even, for an underlying moral order -- it is entirely understandable that one would cheat, lie and swindle as is endemic within the Right. If one has no ethics to speak of, even if one understands right and wrong through some crude, brutal doctrine of Righteousness and Sin, it is entirely understandable that one would remain blithely indifferent to the ethical, empathic choices underlying the actions of others.

Where those on the Left make an ethical judgement and select to support institutionalised altruism, what does the Right have to say about such measures? Are they even capable of empathy?

"Implication? To the extent one is ambitious, creative and productive -- and thereby earns much money -- is the extent to which one is robbed to pay for the health care of those who (for whatever reason) earn less. Also, those who take good care of their health are forced to pay for those who don't. The overall effect is to discourage productiveness and responsibility while encouraging laziness and irresponsibility."

Halt. Rewind. Focus on the divisions, the characterisations. On the one hand we have the victims, represented as innately good -- the ambitious, creative, productive rich who take care of their health -- while on the other we have the villains, represented as innately bad -- the lazy, irresponsible poor who do not take care of their health. The Right identifies with the former, characterising its own nature as one to be proud of. Simultaneously it distinguishes itself from the latter, characterising its nature as one to ashamed of.

Again, this betrays Kohlberg's Pre-Conventional Level, though it falls into the top stage, the instrumental relativist orientation. Here's how Kohlberg characterise the value system here…

"Right action consists of what instrumentally satisfies one's own needs and occasionally the needs of others. Human relations are viewed in terms such as those of the market place. Elements of fairness, reciprocity, and equal sharing are present, but they are always interpreted in a physical, pragmatic way. Reciprocity is a matter of "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours", not loyalty, gratitude, or justice."

Little wonder then that the Right should be so solidly capitalist, or that the Right should be so heavily invested in the idea of "moral worth", inventing a whole religio-financial language of crimes and misdemeanours, debts to society and redemption from the Lord, eternal rewards for virtuous lives, eternal punishments for sin. Perhaps these merchants of the soul act morally, at some deeper level, only because they expect what is "rightfully their's", their resentment of a simple act of charity to a homeless person, the petulant tantrum of a spoiled child who thinks "they don't deserve it".

Kohlberg summarises the whole Pre-Conventional Level thus:

"At this level, the child is responsive to cultural rules and labels of good and bad, right or wrong, but he interprets the labels in terms of either the physical or hedonistic consequences of action (punishment, reward, exchange of favors) or the physical power of those who enunciate the rules and labels."

This is the great moral authority of the Religious Right and it is moral atavism of the worst sort; but there is a deeper problem than what is essentially just the arrested development of barterers and bankers, accountants of reward and punishment. If Kohlberg shows the development of morality over time, he also reveals the mechanisms -- the internalisation of reward and punishment in the form of pride and shame. This is how the first stage of the Conventional Level of morality functions - the interpersonal concordance orientation. We do this and we feel pride. We do that and we feel shame. We act to maximise one and minimise the other.

Good behavior is what pleases or helps others and is approved by them. There is much conformity to stereotypical images of what is majority or "natural" behavior. Behavior is frequently judged by intention -- "he means well" becomes important for the first time. One earns approval by being "nice".

Of course at this stage of moral development, self-critique can be counter-productive if it challenges the established rules. It is easier to maximise one's pride and minimise one's shame if the rules by which those responses of pride and shame are generated are seen as certain and absolute, black and white. Those passed down to us by our parents obviously carry great authority, as do rules imposed by peers, by social superiors, or by society as a whole. The less those rules conflict, the easier it is to balance our pride and shame; and so we end up with a stable set of received rules -- mores, morals -- shared by society, because this serves to maintain order. Ultimately, the value system of the Right is born in this attempt to cement those rules, to cast them in stone, carve them into our souls. Rather than allow the questioning of those rules, rather than allow individuals to move on to the next stage of moral development, the Right develops strategies for enforcing them, reifying them. It uses self-sustaining anti-intellectual rules which expressly forbid challenging the rules. It develops the thought-crime of heresy. It becomes fundamentalism. It becomes fascism.

Because what those rules actually are is less important than the fact that they are authoritative, the fact that they result in black and white judgements of moral value in the form of pride and shame. Since pride and shame are relative to each other, projecting a shameful nature onto another elevates one's pride in oneself by comparison, so rules which demean an arbitrary minority group are easily established amongst a Rightist majority. We have a sense of status, of hierarchy, as individuals and groups associated with this pride and shame, and so we use the rules, these mechanisms of the Right's morality, to foster divisions and prejudicial characterisations of individuals and groups. What Kohlberg leaves out is the negative side of "conformity to stereotypical images". For every role model there is a hate figure. Those divisions and characterisations by which the Right feel just that little bit prouder about themselves by feeling just a little more contemtuous of someone else -- in the example above they are based on economic class, superficially justified as a meritocratic judgement; they might just as easily be based on race, gender or sexuality.

This is, I would argue, the fundamental mentality at the heart of the Right, the moral core. And for all that it involves a deeply inculcated morality, that morality is motivated by self-interest and blind devotion to dogma. We have to ask if the psychological imperative of this form of morality is to benefit society at all; or if the Right's purpose is not simply to maximise pride, to minimise shame, and to do so via uncritical submission to authority and uncritical imposition of authority. Further, the more authoritatively that morality is imposed, the more rigid it is, the more intolerant of challenges, the more it serves to cast others in a shameful light... the more successful the moralist will be in their self-aggrandisement. Because eventually, in its purest form, all that is required of the jackbooted angels of the Right is that they hate the sinners.

This is the absolute irony of the moralism of the Right. The Right is not even defined by the content of its beliefs. It is not defined by a belief in Free Market economics, the inferiority of blacks, a conspiracy of Jews, the corrosive impact of immigration, the necessity of the Royal Family, the power of a pretty uniform, the duty of a man to defend his nation. These, like the swastika, are just articulations of the underlying sentiment which unites the small-c conservative with the jackbooted fascist; these are just symptoms of the Right's adherence to the crude and infantile value systems within which it cowers. It is too afraid to do anything so challenging, so dangerous, as make an ethical decision. It is sustained

The Right is defined by the mechanism of its morality, the self-reinforcing application of vainglorious pride and arrogant contempt in its relation with the world around it. Its values are, at best, received wisdoms more suitable for wayward children than thinking adults, at worst utterly authoratative and utterly arbitrary, vicious nonsensical prejudices which demonise the innocent and facillitate their slaughter. It is a politics of perverted passion, a politics of unreason.
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Barry Roberts
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 10:40 am:   

Al, if you are incapable of understanding the hypocrisy and nonsensicality of Rennie's assertion, you are, how can I put it, obtuse. Maybe cut down on the acid. I'll probably be the only one to point this out - your long rant is nothing but a straw man argument, and replete with too many ironies to mention.

btw since you are a Glaswegian, did you ever vote for Galloway Al? I notice you had nothing to say about Galloway, now why is that? Shall we talk about "a politics of perverted passion, a politics of unreason"?

Shall we talk about the "absolute irony of the moralism of the Left"?
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 11:15 am:   

Ok, Barry, let me revise what I said earlier.

ANY argument against Right Wing extremism--reasoned, unreasoned, calm and collective or fucking volcanic--is both ethically viable AND necessary.

Is that delusional enough for you? As delusional as this:

Round the corner from where I live is a plaque dedicated to a local Italian partisan shot by Nazis occupying Bologna during WW2.

10 minutes away, there are two war cemeteries, one with a couple of hundred graves of US and British troops, another with a couple of thousand graves for Poles, all of whom died in the effort of liberating Italy from Fascism and Nazi occupation alongside the local partisans of whom there were many.

About 5 kilometres away there's a natural cauldron of rock in the hills where the Nazis took captured partisans to be shot and thrown down into the cauldron of rock where they were left to rot. You can still see the blood on the cliff face. The building they used to do whatever they did to the partisans before taking them out to shoot them is now a museum and there is now a monument where the Nazis shot the partigiani before chucking them over the cliff.

In the museum, there is some information given on the many people--men, women, children--killed. One story refers to a 19 year old partisan youth who, on being led out to his death, managed to wrestle a pistol from one of the Nazis and proceeded to shoot two of them before himself being shot.

In doing this, he probably acted on a full range of emotions, none of which were delusional but, under the circumstances, very very valid and, in their contribution to the fall of fascism, utterly heroic.

If you go to the centre of Bologna, in the main square, they've done an amazing thing. Outside one of the main civic buildings, there are photographic images which have been superimposed on tiles of all the people whose photos they could find who were killed by Nazis for their involvement in the struggle to defeat fascism.

Among these photographic images, which number hundreds, there are children, both boys and girls, beautiful young women and men in their prime of life, and men and women of all ages, including the very old.

Now, is this delusional? Was Right Wing extremism the cause of all that, or am I delusional?

Did I just watch a film last night, called Downfall, with Bruno Ganz giving an absolutely incredible performance as . . . . now, what was his name again? .. .Adolf something or other. Or was that delusional?

So, these are just a few examples of which many will have their own.

Examples of why ANY argument against Right Wing extremism is a good one.
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Alistair
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 11:27 am:   

Barry. Ti raccomando:

http://www.downfallthefilm.com/


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al duncan
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 11:39 am:   

Al, if you are incapable of understanding the hypocrisy and nonsensicality of Rennie's assertion, you are, how can I put it, obtuse.

Would that be the hypocrisy and nonsensicality that you pointed out so eloquently with a series of exclamation marks, question marks and apopleptic splutterings? The nearest thing I can discern to a cogent argument in your blatherings above is:

I thought unreason, anger and hatred were at the basis of homophobia, but to Rennie it is necessary to wipe out homophobia and whatever else is rooted in unreason and hatred.

Let me reiterate a point above: Both anger and hate are entirely natural emotional responses to a situation, and whether they are "right" or "wrong" is entirely dependent on case-by-case existential context. What I take issue with is the systematisation of anger and hatred unmitigated by empathy, as part of the psychological and political mechanisms at the heart of the Right's value system.

To swear at an annoying fool, I'd suggest is hardly on a par with, say, taking a 21 year old student out onto a hillside in Wyoming, (only a week or so off 7 years ago today, btw), stripping him naked, tieing him to a split-rail fence, pistol-whipping him, stubbing out your cigarette on him and leaving him there for 16 hours to be discovered by passing cyclists who thought, at first, that the young Matthew Shepard was a scarecrow. Nor is it equivalent to driving a homecoming float through the streets just a few miles away from his hospital bed, while he lay in a coma from which he would never recover, with a scarecrow on it wearing a shirt painted with the words "I'm gay". Nor is it equivalent to celebrating his murder with a .gif animation of him burning in Hell and a counter showing the days since his death. There are, I would politely suggest to you, Barry, certain times when anger and hate are appropriate responses. When, for instance, one is stung by a gnat, one might be angry. When, for instance, one staves one's toe on a particularly thick plank of wood, one might be angry. Or when, for instance, one meets with tiresome individuals who resemble that gnat in their aggressive but at most mildly irritating attacks, who resemble that plank of wood in the coarse but largely featureless solidity of what's inside their thick heads, and whose politics are apparently such that they would champion the value system of Matthew Shepard's murderers, the Rev Fred Phelps, and the Pi Kappa Alpha frat boys who thought their scarecrow float such a jolly jest.

It is in those circumstances, Barry, I might suggest to you, that Alistair is suggesting that anger and hate are, relatively speaking, not entirely inappropriate. Unreason? Well, there is nothing very reasonable about a fist in the face or its verbal equivalent, and having taken the latter course myself further upthread, I would have to say that, in a world with such as you in it, Barry, a simple "fuck off, you fuckin fuck" is sometimes hard to resist. I do try. I am trying. But you are far more trying, Barry.

Oh, yeah. Galloway.

btw since you are a Glaswegian, did you ever vote for Galloway Al?

No.

I notice you had nothing to say about Galloway, now why is that?

I have no time for the man. Never have. And?

Shall we talk about "a politics of perverted passion, a politics of unreason"?

Do let's. I can sense a long and beautiful relationship developing between us, Barry. Though I'm a tad hurt at the baseless claims of "straw man" and "too many ironies to mention". Argument tends to involve actually arguing, Barry. Do try. Believe me. Thinking is relatively easy once you get started.

Shall we talk about the "absolute irony of the moralism of the Left"?

I thought I'd already covered that with: And the liberal value system, the politics of tolerance and support, as an ethical application of empathy, clearly belongs at Kohlberg's most advanced level, the Post-Conventional, Autonomous or Principled Level.

Which is to say that it's a matter of ethics, not morality. Sorry, didn't you get that? Do catch up, Barry.
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Anonymous
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 12:33 pm:   

Jim M:

"Anon, Al never once painted you with the brush of Rightwing."

I never said he did. I was only making the point that it doesn't take someone from the group of individuals that he has "post-judged" to see how misguided his very narrow worldview has become.

"(Okay, he bastardized your "Anonymous" into "Anonynmouse," but I think that's fair, considering your unwillingness to use your name.)"

Unless your last name is "M", then you are also anonymous. Have you actually been reading his posts? Of course he would try to belittle anyone that disagrees with him. In my opinion, his exceptionally high opinion of himself helps guide him to many unjust judgments.



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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 02:13 pm:   


quote:

[Jim M:] JMP, you may have a point, but in the practical world, I think the greatest failing among those who stand against the neocon world is that they don't do a good enough job of calling the rightwingers exactly what they are: righteous bigots who want to drag the world back into the 1830s (at least in terms of US history)




I'm no fan of any neocon, but I'm pretty sure none of them would advocate the legalization of slavery.

Taking a firm stand against one's opponents is a good thing. Abuse that spatters with the same mud all people on the opposing side is in a different category. It doesn't persuade the people who can't be persuaded-- that's fine; by definition, nothing could. But it also alienates the people who could be persuaded, and that is a problem.

I've never accepted the premise that there's a continuous political spectrum running from Nazis on the ultraviolent right to Stalinists on the bloody infrared, with conservatives and liberals somewhere in the middle. There's a categorical difference between someone who supports tyranny (of any ideological stripe) and someone (whether they be liberal, conservative or you-name-it) who supports a free state (however constituted). Not all people on the right are gay-bashing thugs; not all people on the left are empathic secular saints.

Aside to Alistair: Do you ever get over to Ferrara? That was my favorite place in Italy (apart from Rome itself) when I was over there, about 42 billion years ago.

JMP("Pasticcio")
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Thomas R.
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 05:42 pm:   

Until relatively recently most Communist states considered homosexuality a disease or decadance of Western capitalism to be "struggled against." Castro has generally advocated anti-gay measures.

Likewise there was a Left-wing group in Sweden that proposed a tax on men because men commit more violence against women then vice versa. There are also small groups of extremists among the anti-Zionist Left who support Anti-Semitism.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 05:55 pm:   

Still if anyone wants to see Right-wing schaddenfreude there's This at Asimov's board. Essentially the gist is that the reporter for The Guardian who got kidnapped essentially deserved it.
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al duncan
Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - 07:13 pm:   

JMP: ...not all people on the left are empathic secular saints.

Thomas: Until relatively recently most Communist states considered homosexuality a disease or decadance...

The fact that homophobia, anti-semitism, etc., pop up in totalitarian communism just backs up what I said above: At an extreme of dogmatic totalitarianism it's possible for this [i.e. "from each according to ability, to each according to need."] to become little more than an absolutist authoritarian mantra.

This clearly falls under Kohlberg's Conventional Level, stage 4 -- the "law and order" orientation where the individual...

is oriented toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of the social order. Right behavior consists in doing one's duty, showing respect for authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake.

That's quite in tune with my contention that it's this backward adolescent form of morality that's at the root of this type of behaviour.

But the argument is nothing to do with communists; I'm no apologist for Stalin. This is about whether the liberal's value system reflects the "wisdom and experience of teenagers and college students" or whether, as I'm arguing:

1. In liberal democratic approaches to socialism the application of that axiom is, in fact, an example of one of Kohhlberg's Post-Conventional "universal principles of justice, of the reciprocity and equality of the human rights, and of respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons.

2. The Right is, by its own self-definition, Conventional -- oriented toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of the social order. Right behavior consists in doing one's duty, showing respect for authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake.

Are those not key concerns of the conservative value system? And does the Right not clearly recognise role of empathy as an axiom in liberalism (and distance itself from that principle) with the pejorative phrase "bleeding heart liberal"?
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 07:28 am:   


quote:

The Right is, by its own self-definition, Conventional -- oriented toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of the social order. Right behavior consists in doing one's duty, showing respect for authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake. Are those not key concerns of the conservative value system?




This doesn't seem to have any room for the libertarian movement in conservatism. So: no.


quote:

And does the Right not clearly recognise role of empathy as an axiom in liberalism (and distance itself from that principle) with the pejorative phrase "bleeding heart liberal"?




No. Consider also phrases like "limousine liberal" (i.e. someone who pretends compassion but makes sure their bread is well-buttered). The phrase "bleeding heart" criticizes someone whose display of compassion is ostentatious. It's the ostentation that's being criticized, not the compassion.

Conservatives, in short, create cartoon images of liberalism, just as liberals make cartoon images of conservativism. As long as it's just a game and nobody mistakes it for serious discussion, I suppose no harm is done.

JMP("Porchnik")
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al duncan
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 08:10 am:   

JMP: It's the ostentation that's being criticized, not the compassion

With all due respect, James... utter hooey! I've seen and heard the phrase "bleeding heart" used over and over and over again and it is clearly being used to mean "driven by empathy" with the implicit sense that this is a weak and unmanly thing. Ostentation? Ostentation is attacked as "hand-wringing".

Christ, look at the actual metaphors, the actual imagery. The latter, yes, is an image of overblown display. The former is absolutely 100 sodding percent an attack on the liberal for an enfeebling (hence "bleeding") emotional response (hence "heart").

Ostentation? Sheesh; now, that's just clutching at straws.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 08:34 am:   

The fact that homophobia, anti-semitism, etc., pop up in totalitarian communism just backs up what I said above

TR: Well no not entirely. Sweden wasn't totalitarian when it sterilized people for being troublemakers. Nor was the group that proposed a tax on men totalitarian. Barbados and India are democracies currently ruled by their Left parties, both have homosexuality as illegal. In Britain lowering the age of consent to 18 for homosexuality was supported by John Major and Michael Howard.

This is about whether the liberal's value system reflects the "wisdom and experience of teenagers and college students"

TR: I don't think anyone takes that seriously. Although I suppose it could depend on who we mean. Some liberals likely are teenagers and college students, just as a certain portion of any sector would fit that.

oriented toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of the social order. Right behavior consists in doing one's duty, showing respect for authority, and maintaining the given social order for its own sake.

TR: Well maybe for those of Burkean or Kirkian persuasions. Even then neither Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk believed in maintaining the social order at all costs. Burke supported the American Revolution. Respect for authority wouldn't mean blind obedience. Especially not to illegitimate or capricious authority.

Added to that there's a great deal of empathy in even some paleoconservative types I've read. It's just largely an empathy for what's old. People, buildings, institutions, etc. Also there's the paternalistic noblesse oblige empathy which, if abhorrent to the Left, was at times done by people quite sincere about helping out. In fact, ultimately, things like Third World debt relief are just noblesse oblige on a larger scale. The richer nations forgiving the debts of their poorer, or some would say exploited, lessers.

However "conservativism" is rarely defined in a Burkean or Kirkian way in this era anyway. Added to that the "Right" to a degree I think is different then conservativism. In American parlance the "Right" often wants great change, radical change even. It also doesn't respect authorities when it strongly disagrees with them. For the last 20 years or so it's more about limiting the government's involvement in the financial sector while encouraging an aggressive foreign polict. At present preferring military to diplomatic solutions is also a hallmark of the right. There's a social conservativism, but despite talk no Republican President has done much of anything real there. It was under Bush that Lawrence v Texas ended the last anti-sodomy laws in the US.
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al duncan
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 09:31 am:   

This doesn't seem to have any room for the libertarian movement in conservatism. So: no.

Which just returns me to the original question:

What moral axiom is it that unites the Free Market economist, the anti-Semite, the Telegraph reader, the Christian Fundamentalist, the Fox News anchor, the middle-class NIMBY, and so on?

There are two choices here, if you want to bring libertarianism into the mix. The way I dealt with it above was to exclude it from my definition of the Right. To wit:

The direct inversion of Marx's axiom is the "I'm alright, Jack" attitude, the amoral individualism of the libertarian. But where Thatcher's radical agenda, her denial of society's very existence, might seem to fit with this attitude, it's quite unlike the traditionalism and conformism of the typical conservative who'll quite happily talk about "doing one's duty" and "contributing to society".

Libertarianism does not, to me, seem aligned on the Left-Right axis at all. You can have Robert Heinlein at one end, Robert Anton Wilson at the other. There's something quite, quite different going on in the construction of the libertarian value system than there is with the traditional, conformist Right. Given that you yourself don't accept the idea of a "continuous political spectrum", it seems logical for us to step outside the box here.

In fact, I'd say libertarianism makes sense as Post-Conventional ethics. I might not agree with those ethics, but drawing this back to Kohlberg (yet again), I think it fits the profile:

"The individual makes a clear effort to define moral values and principles that have validity and application apart from the authority of the groups of persons holding them and apart from the individual's own identification with the group."

We might well look at a whole host of other value systems, each with their own axiomatic basis -- Anarchism, Environmentalism, Animal Rights, Scottish Independence -- and identify more Post-Conventional (or Conventional) ethical systems, none of which might be necessarily and intrinsically Left or Right. In the case of libertarianism, "'Do what thou wilt' shall be the whole of the law" is a deeply non-conservative doctrine, wouldn't you say?

I mean, surely the crystal-clear unifying feature which gives the Conservative Party, their name, and which leads us to describe more extreme conservatives as "reactionaries" is their traditionalism and conformity... the, uh, fact that they are conservative. Wouldn't you think that there might be a clue in those terms? That conservative might indicate that they are "oriented toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of the social order"? Or are we through the looking glass here in the land of perpetual linguistic back-flips? Where "conformist" means "nonconformist" and "conservative" means "non-conservative" every second Tuesday.

But, yes, the second choice is, of course, to include libertarianism in your definition of Right. If this is your position then, frankly, you cease to have a terminology in which any sort of rational discussion of the Right as a coherent political belief system is possible. You are no longer talking about it on the same level as you can discuss "liberalism", simply as a random conglomeration of individual pressure groups and their individual leaders and supporters. It then becomes meaningless to try and evaluate the relative value (in terms of maturity) of liberal/socialism versus the Right. Which Right, or which aspect of the Right, are you talking about? You can compare the relative maturity of Fred Bloggs and Joe Schmoe, but Fred Bloggs and the cast of Roseanne?

If we're dealing with the Right as an arbitrarily lumped together morass of utterly divergent value systems, well, I might as well say "I'm wary of thugees" and have you say "Ah, but Ghandi was a thugee; not all thugees are bad". "Right" becomes a signifier without significance, bereft of all reference.
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 10:38 am:   

The fact is that libertarianism tends to travel with conservatism. (I'd disagree that libertarianism is amoral, but that's another issue.) If this doesn't accord with your theory, then it's your theory's problem. "Right" in short is not a signifier without significance, but it refers to a set of political associations, not (as you would have it) "a coherent belief system." Political associations are formed and maintained for lots of reasons; any theoretical explanation of a root cause is likely to fail to account for the real evidence. Which is people, you know: that's why it should matter to a reasonably compassionate liberal.

Something else obliterated by your system of generalizations: different political traditions have distinctively different content. A conservative who is conserving a tradition of constitutional liberty is engaged in a fundamentally different enterprise than someone who is conserving an autocratic tradition (like a member of the right in Weimar Germany or the 19th C. French Republic). Conservatives in free states are often anti-authoritarian (at least if they're out of power, that year).

JMP(Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, Beecher: "When a nation's young men are conservative, its funeral bell is already rung.")

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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 11:19 am:   

I have trouble with the argument "elements of your theory doesn't hold so, poof, all you've said is senseless."

I don't view people as being all one thing or another: few people fit perfectly on a right-left line. That's because we are three dimensional creatures. But that doesn't mean that the line is useless: it is one element of a person's thoughts, a projection, if you will of a three dimensional person onto a one dimensional measure. What Al seems to have done is try to look at this projection based on an ethical standard: how well people measure up to the maturity scale which he has recast as an ethical reckoning of behavior--an interesting one with some validity.

That libertarians don't fit neatly on this scale is because, as Al points out, they're on a different axis, although, as James points out, this axis, when projected onto the one dimensional line of right-left beliefs tends to fall further toward the right.

I won't take an all or nothing approach to people who land on various points on this line, i.e. some of my best friends are... (fill in whatever), but I do heartily agree that empathy and an approach to one's behavior that includes empathy is necessary to an ethical life.

Best,
Alice
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 11:21 am:   

That's "don't" not "doesn't"...
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al duncan
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 12:40 pm:   

JMP: The fact is that libertarianism tends to travel with conservatism. (I'd disagree that libertarianism is amoral, but that's another issue.)

Actually, "amoral" is, arguably, not the best term. It's too much misconstrued as a point-blank refusal to recognise the ethics of others on an individual or societal level, rather than -- as I would put it -- a rejection of the authority of societal mores. The libertarian, like the anarchist (who travels with the Left) is asserting their personal independence from mores / morals as the prescriptive dictates of the mob. The mob says "You should pay taxes". The libertarian says "No, you're wrong".

And I agree that libertarians have a tendency to travel with conservatives, but that's not the end of the story and what I'm saying is that it's not the most useful way of looking at it.

OK, to use an analogy. You have two Islands so close together that people can easily travel back and forth. Far in the past, everyone on the Islands spoke the same ur-language -- Conservative. An Academy de Conservative was set up on one of the Islands, way back, as the first cities were being built, and that language became the official language of the combined culture. Meanwhile, on both of the Islands, people split off into their own wee Outer Communities (because the islands are large enough) and all of these little Outer Communities started to develop their own dialect -- we'll call it Independent. Independent, being unbound by the Academy changed rapidly and significantly and continues to do so because it remains unbound by the Academy. Fast-forward to a point in time where Conservative and Independent are so different and the traffic between the Outer Communities and older cities of the Islands so constant that the culture as a whole is bilingual. Independent has, in fact, developed an entirely different grammar from Conservative.

However the Independent of the Outer Communities has, by now, also split into dialects as those communities developed their own distinct cultures. On the Island without the Academy, the Independence of one Outer Communities eventually takes over as the inhabitants become more and more frustrated with the Academy's point-blank refusal to recognise the validity of what is by now the majority's native tongue. The inhabitants reject the Academy's authority and declare their own language the official language of their Island. This variant of Independent we can call Liberal.

So you now have the Islands divided up into Conservative on one and, on the other, Liberal, with a whole host of variants of Independent distinct from both. The Outer Communities still have their own wild culture, so while Liberal becomes gentrified within the old cities of one Island and Conservative remains as it always has done, the next generation of Independent dialects they diverge more radically from Liberal and Conservative than they do from each other. But diverge they do.

On the Island with the Academy, one form of Independent -- having remained in close proximity to, and constant interaction with the still-extant ur-language --shares many words which gives it a superficial similarity to Conservative. In grammar, though it is Independent. We can call this Libertarian.

On the other island another dialect from this new crop of wild Outer Communities dialects, shares certain words, and a grammar, that make it remarkably similar to Libertarian but for a few key terms which it has acquired from Liberal. We can call this dialect Anarchist.

Now, we can label on Island the Left Isle and label the other the Right Isle and talk about the melting-pot of languages on each as if they were functionally distinct. This person speaks Left, we might say. Or this person speaks Right. But to actually understand those languages, how they work, why they are the way they are, what they are good for or bad for, to study the whole linguistic culture of the Islands in any systematic way, we need to distinguish the separate languages by grammar, lexicon and origins.

This is what I'm trying to do with the value systems we're discussing -- to look at the various common and distinct features, deep or superficial, "syntactic" or "semantic", in order to better understand how they work, what this whole melting-pot of political languages and dialects, divided pragctically speaking into two distinct groups but with more fundamental differences and similarities discernable within and between those two groups, is all about.

In my analysis, as in the analogy above, I agree that Libertarian "travels with" Conservative, but I'd say that "grammatically" it is part of a larger grouping all derived from Independent.
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StephenB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 03:20 pm:   

Very Aristotlian of you, Al.

I mostly use libertarian as a counter word to authoritarianism, not as a distinct political group affiliated with left wing and right wing economics. Anarchist, same deal. Just different ways of putting it.

Clearly both the left and right vary in terms of authoritarianism to libertarianism (anarchy, puts in mind to some people -- not, me -- complete choas ruled by violent mobs -- which isn't what I'd mean).

Isn't the root in libertarianism liberal anyway? Coming from the days of divine rule, when liberals broke off from the established aristocracy?

Just baked right now, so hopefully this will make sense.

Also I don't think anarchism or whatever you want to call it, is neccissarily amoral, although I can see Al's rational of ethics and morality. When authority is often immoral and corrupt, it can become the moral or ethical thing to want to dismantle or rebel against it. Also, if the person is morally developed and emotionally mature, with empathy, they can make their own calls, beyond the law and governing body, which can sometimes be wrong. It's true that some people need to basically be treated like children with the reward & punishment of the law and religion. Those that move past that, are by Kohlberg's scale, more morally developed than your law abiding, Bible toting person, who obeys authority unquestioningly.
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Barry Roberts
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 04:24 pm:   

stop pretending you know what you are talking about StephenB, you clueless sycophantic puppydog to an idiot. It's not only bible thumpers who obey authority unquestioningly, you fucking moron. And there are all kinds of authorities, no doubt you unquestioningly worship your own numerous lying idiot authorities and merely echo deceitful and asinine propoganda as your own holy writ.

my god is the naked emperor Al Duncecan going to fool everybody? What a load of tiresome scrambled egghead verbiage. Could any writer parody this if he tried? I doubt it.

Sigh. I know that like the cretin you are Al, you are incapable of the art of reasoned coherent argumentation, the art of rhetoric.

Not that you know what I mean by rhetoric, Al. It doesn't mean bombast nor bluster, I'm afraid.
You can pull the wool over your own eyes, Al Duncecan, but not mine.

My god the convoluted mental knots and twists employed to justify unreason and hatred by Rennie and Duncan further up this thread. so long as the unreason and hatred is coming from the Left, it's all hunky dory. Naturally, all quite unintentionally laughable. Leftist hatred and unreason is tempered by empathy, we have Duncan's say-so on it. And so being tempered and channelled by empathy, the unreason and hatred becomes a good thing! What on earth? Where on earth for that matter? Can hatred and unreason exist side by side with empathy, are they not mutually exclusive? Does unreason not erode empathy? But then you would need reason to know that, and not having it, you wouldn't know that Al.

And the liberal value system, the politics of tolerance and support, as an ethical application of empathy, clearly belongs at Kohlberg's most advanced level, the Post-Conventional, Autonomous or Principled Level.

The disturbing and at the same time unintentionally laughable thing about the above is Duncan is being perfectly serious with this abstract, divorced from reality assertion that is stuffed to the overflowing brim with elitist pomposity beyond the comprehension of the uneducated rif-raff whose plight "liberals" pretend to be so concerned about - which was the kind of thing churned out by Stalin's, Mao's and Pol Pot's ivory tower propogandists and apologists around the world while people were murdered, displaced and deliberately starved by "the liberal value system" in action. Or to put it another way - Theory is one thing, practice another.

Incidentally Al, since you are a walking breathing parody of the zombie ideologue, and so being removed from all insight and perspicacity, you would know neither morality nor ethics, so why do you pretend to know the difference?

Despite what you may think I am not the enemy. I am not a homophobe, nor am I a Nazi, despite your disgraceful probably autonomic attempt to link all conservatives with the redneck jackasses of the BNP ilk (and I never said or even implied I was a conservative btw). By claiming the value system of all run of the mill Tories provides a foundation for Aushwitsz and Sobibor, you are doing nothing less than drawing a moral equivalence between say a Malcolm Rifkind, a Richard Clarke stateside and Mathew Sheppard's killers, never mind SS commandants. Never mind the nonsense of pretending that there is a single monolithic value system for those you have decided are the enemy. Easier to dismiss what they and others have to say that way. And it is also a tar with the same brush tactic employed by the more fiery, unbalanced, dogmatic, bullying, infinitely hypocritical and self-righteous on the Left, like Galloway and his fans for example. It is also untenable and preposterous. How would you like it if I tarred you with the same brush as Galloway? What you fail to realise is the dogmatic, fatuous and false holier than thou cant you employ is closer to Galloway and his ilk than you could ever care to admit. Perhaps that's why you are so desperate to sweep the Galloways of the world under the carpet, like they don't exist; and harp and moan about the Right with the same absurd broad strokes, bearing no resemblance to real flesh and blood complicated people with all their contradictions, their hopes and fears, so you don't have to look to close at those in your own bed (the Left), and at yourself neither. Not having to look at all the considerable left-wing hypocrisy, tyranny and thuggery makes it easeir to avoid any self-reflection. It is also an ugly reality that just doesn't fit into the castles in the sky "liberal value system" of the "Kohlberg Principled Level" I guess.

So is the way of the ideologue - and religious fanatic for that matter - who just knows the way it is and why things are the way they are, and if anybody dares to cross him, why he has his cardboard cut out reality-free ideology and the gobbledegook that goes with it to fend himself from any uncomfortable truths.

Though I'm a tad hurt at the baseless claims of "straw man" and "too many ironies to mention". Argument tends to involve actually arguing, Barry. Do try. Believe me. Thinking is relatively easy once you get started.

Kidding yourself that you are a thinker and I am the thoughtless one is just another irony lost on you. One of just so many. Predictable really.

It was said of someone else, but applies equally well to Duncan, "if one were to walk in the waters of his intellect, one would not get one's feet wet".

Trying to reason with a backed up toilet that goes by the name of Al Duncan, reminds me of what somebody once said of trying to reason/argue with Noam Chomsky's cult of adoring unquestioning fans, "Arguing with them seems to be a lot like trying to teach Plato's Republic to a pig: it wastes your time, and it annoys the pig."






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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 05:07 pm:   

Aside from vilifying Al, Barry, do you have a point?
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 05:44 pm:   

Oh yes, you do say you don't like lumping people together...
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 05:46 pm:   

I think that was said before.
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 05:54 pm:   

You also seem to have a bug about theory or philosophy. Elitist I think you called it. So tell me. Who hasn't sat around with friends and expounded on some jackass idea of how the world runs, and despite the absurdity, found a kernel of truth in the discussion?
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 05:55 pm:   

Apparently you prefer vitriol.
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Stephen
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 06:07 pm:   

Barry: Well first, I'm not at all sycophantic towards Al, and second, Al's not an idiot. The only one who seems idiotic here, is you. I can't be bothered to read the rest of your post. Talk about lack of rhetoric...
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StephenB
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 06:19 pm:   

Oh, and I never claimed that it was only Bible thumpers who follow authority unquestioninglly. You really seem to have trouble with comprehesion. Anyway, I was just making a point that in this ghost of the puritan's, colonial culture, people who may be conventionally considered fine, law abiding, church going, upstanding citizens, by most people, aren't as morally developed as the independent ethical thinker that Al's pointed out -- at least according to Kohlberg's scale. People who are more developed and independent can often be considered dangerous or untrustworthy by the conventional majority. Just kind of going off on a point brought up by Al. And believe me, I do agree with Al mostly, but I've thought like this long before I;ve ever heard of him. I learned about the Kohlberg's scale in high school psych. This ain't new shit there, Barry.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 06:23 pm:   

Barry I understand your irritation and I don't agree with Al or most here. However I think you would make your points better with less swearing and fewer ad hominems. Now many here like swearing and ad hominems, but there's no need to sink to that level.

However if Al is equating Tories with Nazis, several of his posts are a tad too long for me to read thoroughly, then I agree that's garbage and I'm not even British. Since a Labour government was who got Britain into the Iraq war and supports things like ID cards it seems especially missplaced considering his other views.

The only current conservative world leader, that I know of, who I might see as fascistic is Silvio Berlusconi as he did ally with Neo-Fascist parties and controls much of the Italian media.
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Stephen
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2005 - 06:30 pm:   

But yes, it would be silly to generalize liberals as morally developed and conservatives less so. Even if there's some truth to that, as there probably is. Motivation is very important in terms of morality. Many liberals who are politically active are in it for their own glory -- so, for selfish reasons.

Personally, I think liberals and conservatives aren't really all that far apart these days. Many people have liberal social values, but are really more conservative, as an example. The whole, comfortable complacent, tolerant white liberalism.
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Alistair
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 04:16 am:   

My hatred of Right Wing extremism, Barry, doesn't come from "the Left". It doesn't have a political or moral denomination. It just is.

Call it instinct, if you like. It's very simple and I'm happy it's there, so there's no real need for me to reason it. What I would find worrying is if it wasn't there at all. A rational hatred would probably be just as good, but I like the simplicty and straightforward "isness" of an irrational one.

There's no need to rationalise a position that doesn't need rationalised. Huh? You think think there is? You think a hatred of cowardly bullies who pick on people who are incapable of mounting resistence is a thing that needs reasoned? Well, go ahead and reason it, buddy boy. And enjoy yourself.

And, by the way, the pyramid model (with a broad base and narrow peak) is, of course, not a model of equivalence (which would make it, what? a square? a sphere? a plank of wood?), but a model of relations--the relation of the bottom to the middle to the top.

Malclolm Rifkind is not a Right Wing extremist, no, but he and his kind provide a platform for the proliferation of Right Wing extremism. They actively encourage it, too, by raising the stakes, for example, at general elections with things like the asylum seeker question. Course, these Tory foot soliders are not saying, "Toss the bastards into the English Channel", but they're providing a sturdy platform for those who do.

The palpable hatred of asylum seekers in Britain over the past few years is shocking. People talk as if asylum seekers are knocking down their doors and invading their living rooms, demanding supper and ale and a bed for the night. The mainstream Tory media outlets (which are part of the whole party machinery) actively promotes this kind of thing.

The relation from mainstream Tory policies to the extremism of racial hatred is clearly there. The asylum seeker question is fundamental to the Tories' recent efforts to reassert their ideology in the wake of a Labour hijack of quite alot of what they stood for (which makes Labour just as culpable to my mind). And this is the catalyst for the proliferation of fear, mistrust and hatred of a group of people (people perceived, in typically fascistic terms, AS a group) who are utterly destitute and present absolutely no threat to no one whatsoever.

And I'm not looking at this from the point of view of "the Left". I'm looking at this from the point of view of seeing something that is. Or maybe I'm being delusional again.

So, a pyramid model, one of relations. It doesn't thrill me. I happen to think an analogy between politics and a shape is pretty crap. But it makes the point.

And, Barry, Al has skinned you alive with his arguments, and you know it, which is why you're resorting to the gibberish of insult. You can't even come close. And, seeing as I don't have to worry about reasoning my position, I can honestly say that you're a prick of the highest order.

(Thomas R--the mealy-mouthed accusation by Barry about equating Tories with Nazis was directed at me, I think, rather than Al. Plus, I gree, Labour are just the same deal as the Tories these days. And you're absoutely spot on about Berlusconi about being an openly fascist leader. Some of his words and actions--no, all of them--beggar belief. But the only difference I perceive betwen him and, say, Bush is that Berlusconi is openly fascist).


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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 05:14 am:   

That's not precisely what I said. I think I'd see Berlusconi as the closest, among most developped nations anyway, leader to being fascist but I'm not sure I'd say he is a fascist.

There are also important and real differences between Bush and Berlusconi. For one Bush is not a billionaire whose firms control much of the media. You may believe the media supports Bush, but as I recall a strong majority of US papers endorsed Kerry in 2004. Also Bush was never tried for perjury, bribery, and corrupting a judge.

As for the fascist thing I think his recent failures would indicate a problem with that. The conservatives in his party seem set against his choosing Miers to replace O'Connor on the court. His ideas on Social Security seem essentially dead. The Congress is increasingly ready to go against him on several issues and his popularity is 39%. Historically a genuine Fascist would do better at getting what he wants and using propaganda to win over the masses.

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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 06:07 am:   

Al Duncan wrote (in part):

quote:

In my analysis, as in the analogy above, I agree that Libertarian "travels with" Conservative, but I'd say that "grammatically" it is part of a larger grouping all derived from Independent.




If "Right" or "Conservative" were terms invented by you, I'd say you have the right to define them as you please. Since they were not, I think you have the obligation to come to terms with what these words mean in the consensus universe (which is what Aristotle would have done, pace StephenB).

This is what is essentially wrong with your whole approach. Political associations are not ever "coherent systems of belief." People associate and identify with other people politically for lots of reasons: perceived self-interest, emotional impulses and social conditioning, and (sometimes) even ideology or ideas.

Defining a political group by a single ideological measure is like saying, "Only Manhattan is really New York City." One could create an elaborate historical justification for this statement, but the trouble is, it doesn't accord with the facts and someone who, say, tried to keep the millions of non-Manhattanites from voting in the next city election would find theoretical arguments to be of little assistance.

When the theory doesn't fit the facts, change the theory.

Not that I disagree about smashing anonymous trolls like the bugs they are, by the way. My bleeding heart does not bleed for them.

JM("Munsee")P
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Alistair
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 06:10 am:   

Well, as for Berlusconi, he collaborates with fascists, depends on their support to keep him in office. He repeatedly refuses to honour the lives of Italian partisans who fought and died to liberate his country (the country he governs) from fascism. As you say, Thomas, he owns the most powerful media outlets in Italy and uses them, blatantly, to manipulate public opinion. I could go on, but you get the drift.

Scrape away the superficial hogwash, and he's a fascist, right down to the dirt under his finger nails.

Apologies if you weren't referring to him as a fascist yourself, but you wouldn't be out of line if you did. Believe me, he wouldn't take it as an insult. He openly panders to fascism, which makes him, at the very least, as good as.
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AliceB
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 07:21 am:   

Alistair, as shown by the division among those who label themselves "conservative" in the US over the nomination of Harriet Miers for the US Supreme Court, there are many different stripes of conservatives--social, political, judicial, and so on. On a local level, people who vote for conservative representatives do so for a multitude of reasons--business, religious, family, social views, libertarian tendencies... It's easy to throw up ones hands and say "they are so varied, there's no way to get a handle on who they are." Maybe. But, regardless of who they are, there are a set of results from so called conservative governments that are clear.

In the U.S. the results are obvious: a steady and rapidly increasing attack on environmental protections; monetary boons for the rich while social programs for the poor are cut or burdened increasingly more difficult layers of red tape; a stronger and more intrusive presence of churches of all varieties in political venues, political discourse, and governmental programs. The discussion of social values has been hijacked, and is now called "family values," with an understanding that "family" is as churches define them. Whether this is a product of being right or left, the government has also engaged in a hightened invasion of individual privacy, micromanaging of what used to be local perogatives, and started wars rather than engaged in diplomacy.

All of these results do not come from a single "coherent system of belief," but they are there. The people who have engendered these results identify themselves as "conservative." It is therefore fair game to analyze these results and use them as a way to define the Right.

I agree with you that the ethical standard used by Al to look at the Right's actions is limited--I am not entirely convinced that you can judge a society's maturity in the same way you judge an individual's, since groups are capable of actions (good and bad) that individuals are not--but I'm still waiting to hear another standard to use.

Best,
Alice
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AliceB
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 07:23 am:   

Alistair, my apologies. The post was meant for James.
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JeffV
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 07:57 am:   

From my friend Eric Schaller. I don't know that it necessarily fits this conversation, but it's great stuff.

Jeff


best quote from the piece below: "Religious fundamentalism is born out of laziness and cowardice. It is the province of people who can't be troubled to educate themselves about anything, and who have no higher ambition in life than to be led by a charismatic preacher.
It is nothing more noble than that."


The Best Magazine Article Ever

Here's something I never thought I'd write: I bought the latest issue of Esquire magazine at the newsstand the other day. The reason for this unlikely step was a headline on the cover that read "Creationists and Other Idiots." The rather fetching picture of actress Jessica Biel on the cover didn't hurt either.

The article's author is Charles Pierce, and its title is "Greeting from Idiot America." The subhead reads:

Creationism. Intelligent design. Faith-based this. Trust-your-gut that. There's never been a better time to espouse, profit from, and
believe in utter, unadulterated crap. And the crap is rising so high, it's getting dangerous.

I don't know of any other magazine that has had the courage to state the truth so bluntly. Sadly, it's not freely available online. So allow to me to transcribe a few choice nuggets for you.

After describing a visit to the nascent creationism museum being built in Kentucky, which features a dinosaur exhibit in which the
fearsome creatures are wearing saddles, he describes some of the obvious contradictions in the museum exhibits. Then Pierce writes:

These are impolite questions. Nobody asks them here by the cool pond tucked into a gentle hillside. Increasingly, nobody asks them
outside the gates either. It is impolite to wonder why our parents sent us to college, and why generations of immigrants sweated and
bled so their children could be educated, if it wasn't so that we would all one day feel confident enough to look at a museum filled
with dinosaurs rigged to run six furlongs at Belmont and make the not unreasonable point that it is all batshit crazy and that anyone who believes this righteous hooey should be kept away from sharp objects and his own money.

Dinosaurs with saddles?

Dinosaurs on Noah's Ark?

Welcome to your new Eden.

Welcome to Idiot America.

And later, still talking about creationism:

This is how Idiot America engages the great issues of the day. It decides, en masse, with a thousand keystrokes and clicks of the remote control, that because there are two sides to every question, they must both be right, or at least not wrong. And the poor biologist's words carry no more weight than the thunderations of
some turkey-neck preacher out of the Church of Christ's Own Parking Facility in DeLand, Florida. Less weight, in fact, because our
scientist is an "expert" and, therefore, an "elitist." Nobody buys his books. Nobody puts him on cable. He's brilliant surely, but his
Gut's the same as ours. He just ignores it, poor fool.

Later still:

The "debate," of course, is nothing of the sort, because two sides are required for a debate. Nevertheless, the very notion of it is a measure of how scientific discourse, and the way the country educates itself, has slipped through lassitude and inattention across the border into Idiot America - where fact is merely that which enough people believe, and truth is measured only by how fervently they believe it.

If we have abdicated our birthright to scientific progress, we have done so by moving the debate into the realm of political and
cultural argument, where we all feel more confident, because it is here that the Gut rules. Held to this standard, any scientific
theory is rendered mere opinion. Scientific fact is no more immutable than a polling sample. This is how there's a "debate" over global warming, even though the preponderance of fact among
those who actually have studied the phenomenon renders the "debate" quite silly. The debate is about making people feel better about driving SUV's. The debate is less about climatology than it is about guiltlessly topping off your tank and voting in tax incentives for oil companies.

The whole article is quite long, and it covers a lot more than just creationism. The tone of the article is exactly right and long overdue.

The next time you hear some condescending pseudoliberal columnist peddle cheap excuses for the fundamentalists; the next time you hear someone say they are just responding to misperceived threats to their faith or to an overzealous atheist like Richard Dawkins;
the next time you hear some postmodern nonsense about people basing their worldviews on different assumptions; just remember the wise
words of this article. Religious fundamentalism is born out of laziness and cowardice. It is the province of people who can't be troubled to educate themselves about anything, and who have no higher ambition in life than to be led by a charismatic preacher. It is nothing more noble than that.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 08:11 am:   

Okay by me Alistair, I didn't know some of that. I knew I disliked him. I disliked him even when I was very pro-Bush and for the Iraq war. I felt he was basically a crook at the very least and I was hoping he'd have to step down due to charges against him. Many Americans know so little about foreign politics I was even able to turn Republicans I knew toward disliking him when he was "our ally" in the Iraq war.

James, I agree in a way but personally I don't think libertarians fit as conservatives. Many of the conservatives I've known don't like libertarians because of their views on drugs, abortion, prostution, and a few other areas. However I do think that, in the US, libertarianism is a Right-wing ideology. Probably the strongest non-conservative Right-wing ideology we have. It favors low taxes, unregulated capitalism, rugged individualism, rather strident patriotism, smallest government possible, and eliminating most worker protections. Much of it is basically Social Darwinist and if actually applied would just lead to plutocracy. I strongly reject libertarianism so I'm not real fond of it being seen as conservative.

However in Sweden and some European countries "libertarian" can mean something like "anarcho-socialism." Sweden used to have a group called the "Libertarian Municipal People" and they were left-leaning.
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 08:28 am:   

Alice B wrote (in part):

quote:

groups are capable of actions (good and bad) that individuals are not




We disagree in principle here. Only individuals can take action. When one talks about groups doing this or that, it's mere shorthand for saying "individuals in this group did this or that." Group responsibility is an illusion.

I don't advocate throwing up our hands and saying we can't say what the right or conservatism is. I say that, like any real thing, it has to be approached as what it actually is, not some Procrustean abstraction.

Real things (like people, political movements, cabbages) have an existence independent of our ideas about them. The more radically different they are, the less useful the ideas.

In haste,

JMP
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al duncan
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 09:37 am:   

If "Right" or "Conservative" were terms invented by you, I'd say you have the right to define them as you please. Since they were not, I think you have the obligation to come to terms with what these words mean in the consensus universe (which is what Aristotle would have done, pace StephenB).

James, that's exactly what I'm doing. A quick Google of the term "conservative politics" finds a couple of the first page of hits -- www.intellectualconservative.com and www.landofthefree.net -- describing themselves as for "conservatives and libertarians" or for "conservatives, right wingers, and libertarians". They clearly consider it sensible to make a distinction; so do I. I'm not going to do the tiresome dictionary definition cut-and-paste thing -- you can go look at it yourself -- but I'd say it's clear that my argument is grounded in the common usage of "conservative", meaning someone who favours traditional views and values, resists liberal reforms aaaaaaand so on.

I've also made it clear -- I thought -- that I'm quite happy to accept your classification of the Right as a wider association of variant ideologies which includes value systems such as libertarianism which are quite distinct from this conservatism. I am most definitely not saying that "Only Manhattan is really New York City"; what I'm saying is that the Mayor's Office, Wall Street, the main offices of the major corporations and other such centres of power are located in Manhattan, that this is where many of the key decisions are made and that it therefore has a central role in shaping New York City as a whole. I am saying that an understanding of New York requires a recognition of the importance of what goes on in Manhattan. But in your Manhattan/New York City analogy, you do actually recognise the existence of Manhattan as a definable entity. I do too. Do you recognise the existence of "conservatism" as a definable entity a la the common usage of the term?

That's a quite serious question, btw. You say that "People associate and identify with other people politically for lots of reasons: perceived self-interest, emotional impulses and social conditioning, and (sometimes) even ideology or ideas." Absolutely. I agree. My question to you is: Do you recognise "libertarian" and "conservative" and "liberal" as particular "ideologies", or are you saying that there's no such thing? That it is not functionally useful to talk in terms of ideologies? Let's take your analogy down a level, say that Manhattan is the Right, but that Manhattan is not only Midtown -- i.e. it's wrong to say that "Only Midtown, with its skyscrapers, Times Square and all, is really Manhattan". Manhattan is Uptown, Midtown, Chinatown, Greenwich Village, Soho and so on. To characterise all of Manhattan as skyscrapers and Times Square is, in your words "defining a political group by a single ideological measure".

This is what you were objecting to in my use of the term "Right", yes? Fair enough. "When the theory doesn't fit the facts, change the theory." Well, I'm happy to clarify my terms at least here and to modify my use of the term "Right". I'm happy to accomodate your inclusion of libertarianism, to accept your assertion that the Right, as a loose alliance bound together by "perceived self-interest, emotional impulses and social conditioning, and (sometimes) even ideology or ideas", is too vague and incoherent to be pinned down.

However, do you recognise the value of subdividing Manhattan into its various discrete districts and looking at the distinct cultures within those districts, the roles they play individually in making the city as a whole? If you were attempting to explain where, within that city, you reside, so to speak, is it not more precise, more useful, to say Uptown, Greenwich Village, Alphabet City, whatever, than it is to say "Manhattan"? Since each of these districts have their own culture, their own unique flavour, simply saying "Manhattan" doesn't really tell the listener much. Similarly, just saying "the Right" is vague and imprecise and doesn't do much good. Neither do you want to say "Midtown" (i.e. Conservative) when you actually reside in Soho (i.e. you're Libertarian). Now you could refuse such labels entirely, give a precise location in terms of street name, house number and apartment, because everyone, after all, has their own address, their own personal value system. Unfortunately there's more than three components required to describe such an address; if you want to describe your own unique and personal value system it's going to take you a lot longer than it would to say "1017 Second Avenue, Apartment 2/B".

So, do you agree that it is useful to talk in terms of districts, to say "Midtown", or "Greenwich Village", or "Soho", to say "conservative", or "libertarian", or "liberal"? I don't deny that we should understand that everyone has their own "address". But are you denying that ideologies exist as discrete districts which can be characterised, described according to the types of buildings, key landmarks, the types of people who might live there (bearing in mind that every district has its atypical residents and that we should not assume that the Greenwich Village is entirely composed of lefty intellectuals, or that everyone with an apartment overlooking Central Park is a capitalist swine)? Yes, it is a shorthand to talk in terms of groups, but personal ideologies are not conjured out of whole cloth; they are developed from the personal ideologies instilled in us as children by parents, peers, and other authoritative figures; they are informed and modified through processes of communication -- discussion, indoctrination, persuasion. There are whole institutions devoted to ensuring that indivduals end up inculcated with a personal ideology which does not conflict too deeply with the ideology explicated in this or that book. It is absurd, surely, to say that the efforts of every preacher, Sunday School teacher, philosopher or political ideologue do not result in profound commonalities within these personal ideologies. It is absurd, surely, to say that those personal ideologies cannot be grouped and analysed on the basis of commonalities such as specific moral imperatives ("it is wrong to disrespect God", "it is wrong to disrespect another person's faith", "it is wrong to allow another person to justify a wrongful action with reference to their faith, even if standing up to them means disrespecting their faith") or specific mechanisms by which personal ethical judgements are reached (e.g. by reference to received rules; by application of an abstract and general ethical principle).

Are you saying that any such rational approach seeking to taxonomise ideological value systems, describe their distinct qualities, and examine their mechanics is inherently worthless? Not just mine, mind; your argument, as given, is against categorisation and characterisation in general, rather than my specific application of Kohlberg's Stages of Moral Development to the commonly accepted categorisations of "conservative" and "liberal". That's a separate argument. You seem to be arguing against the whole process of inquiry rather than the results.
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al duncan
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 10:13 am:   

Barry:

And the liberal value system, the politics of tolerance and support, as an ethical application of empathy, clearly belongs at Kohlberg's most advanced level, the Post-Conventional, Autonomous or Principled Level.

The disturbing and at the same time unintentionally laughable thing about the above is Duncan is being perfectly serious with this abstract, divorced from reality assertion that is stuffed to the overflowing brim with elitist pomposity beyond the comprehension of the uneducated rif-raff...
}

OK, then. Let me put it in concrete, pragmatic terms for you.

The Left has a straightforward axiom in "from each according to ability, to each according to need."… In liberal democratic approaches to socialism this axiom is clearly treated as one of Lawrence Kohlberg's:

"universal principles of justice, of the reciprocity and equality of the human rights, and of respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons"

Let's try to clarify this position, to illustrate it with examples, to put it as plainly and simply as possible…

In liberal democratic approaches to socialism this axiom is not treated as the authoritarian absolute of communism. It is not even treated as the specifically economic imperative of Redistribution of Wealth. Instead it is abstracted to a more universal application. But abstract priciples are only good if you can apply them pragmatically. So...

We could relate this to, for example, a national response to a natural disaster. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, you have a whole region of citizens plunged into critical "need", and you have the government of the richest nation on the planet with "abilities" in the form of FEMA, the National Guard, the Army, etc.. Now, before people start to try and score political points over the actual handling of this particular situation, that's not the issue here. The issue is that, if you are looking to deal with those sort of situations you can apply the axiom and come to an ethical judgement on policy:

From each (arm of the government, state and federal) according to ability (the aid-organisation skills of FEMA, the security-enforcement skills of the National Guard, the logistical skills of the Army) to each (survivor of Katrina) according to need (food, water, security, transport).

Again I stress: let's not sideline this into political point-scoring. All I'm saying is that this liberal/socialist axiom can be and is abstracted, and then can be and is applied pragmatically to make an ethical judgement-call on policies and procedures. In those terms, the existence of FEMA in the first place demonstrates that somewhere along the way this judgement-call has been made, the government having allocated budgetary resources for utilisation, distribution, according to requirements.

We could also look at this on a strategic/tactical level, taking as examples Michael Brown as head of FEMA and Lt. Gen. Russel Honore as head of the army's relief operation. Both men were, as individuals, faced with a situation where that axiom is applicable in terms of specific logistical requirements:

From each (individual and group under their command) according to ability (to distribute aid, to enforce security, to repair levees, and so on) to each (task) according to (relative judgement of) need.

So, in an interview for a BBC2 documentary on the operation, Honore comments on his first act upon his arrival. After assessing the situation, the growing tensions with victims being made to feel like criminals (paraphrase: "the last thing you want after going through that is someone pointing a gun in your face"), he pretty much immediately "put a stop to that". He re-allocated resources on the basis of need. Brown's job entailed exactly the same decision-making process. Did he carry it out on the same principle -- putting available resources in the required place? Or, to steer this away from any partisan slanging match -- is it at least fair to say that, were you or I in that role the application of that axiom would underlie our approach… that you or I, in that situation, would be looking to take from each resource under our command, according to ability, and distribute it to each task according to need?

Finally, we could take this on an administrative/managerial level, putting ourselves in the position of the President, with the practical responsibility of putting the right person in the right job in government. Assuming you are required to select candidates to fill various roles in government (head of FEMA, Supreme Court Judge), what principle do you use in making your decisions? Again, I'd say "from each according to ability to each according to need" is an entirely appropriate axiom for the situation.

So, my contention is that liberal/socialist politics is fundamentally about taking this axiom as a foundation -- as one of Kohlberg's "universal principles of justice, of the reciprocity and equality of the human rights, and of respect for the dignity of human beings as individual persons" -- and extrapolating it into decisions on policy, strategy, tactics, management and administration. It is, I reiterate, about the ethical application of empathy.

This is not to deny: the potential appropriation of liberal/socialist political structures by those seeking power for its own sake; the potential subversion of liberal/socialist political principles by those who (mis)apply the axiom as an economic authoritarian absolute; the potential redirection of liberal/socialist political methodologies by those who do not in fact subscribe to this axiom at all, but are, in fact, following their own self-interest. I do not dispute that all of this can and does happen. From the wholesale atrocities of Joe Stalin across Soviet Russia, down to the petty pilferings (unproven… unfortunately) of Gorgeous George Galloway from the charity, War On Want.

However, the tendency of political value systems to corruption is precisely the reason that a Post-Conventional ethical approach is preferential to a Conventional one. Propagating the more mature mode of ethical decision-making means our political principles are arrived at, and constantly challenged by, individuals personally making "a clear effort to define moral values and principles that have validity and application apart from the authority of the groups of persons holding them and apart from the individual's own identification with the group". Propagating the less mature mode of moral obedience to, or imposition of, authoritarian absolutes means our political principles are arrived at, and constantly reinforced by individuals personally committed to "the maintenance of the expectations of his family, group, or nation as valuable in its own right, regardless of immediate and obvious consequences".

So where JMP says "There's a categorical difference between someone who supports tyranny (of any ideological stripe) and someone (whether they be liberal, conservative or you-name-it) who supports a free state (however constituted)", I'd almost entirely agree. The first type of person is, almost certainly, I would argue working on the "law and order orientation" morality outlined by Kohleberg, no matter what rulebook the tyranny pounds into its populace's heads -- Mein Kampf, the Bible or Das Kapital. The second type of person (democratic socialists, liberals, moderates, conservatives) can, however, I would argue, be subdivided into:

a) those whose support of a free state is based on ethical judgement

b) those whose support of a free state is based on received morality

I believe this is a critical distinction. I don't think I can stress strongly enough just how critical I think it is. The point is that tyranny can, and quite possibly will, be established and maintained if and when those in the first category (i.e. who openly support tyranny) are able to demonstrate their superior authority to those in Group B. Those who can be persuaded to abandon empathy -- because they're guided by a socially-constructed received morality of law and order -- become complicit, if not instrumental to the machinery of the tyranny. Those who remain resistant -- because they're guided by an individually-constructed personal ethics of empathy -- can then be overpowered, outgunned.

This is exactly how fascism arose in Spain before the Civil War, promulgating and then capitalising on the moderate conservatives' fear of a breakdown of social order, offering them a "more secure system". It is exactly how fascism established itself in Nazi Germany with Hitler's oratory skills and references to heritage and tradition persuading the general populace of the superior authority of Nazism. Fascism knows that if it can tap into the fears of those whose support of a free state is based on received morality, and persuade them of its own superior authority, then that support will evaporate.

This is why, for utterly practical reasons, I think it is absolutely essential to recognise that ideologies have different mechanics, that some can be seen as Conventional and some can be seen as Post-Conventional. On a personal, individual level, since we all go through the Conventional stage, it is arguable that we all may well have the capacity to "revert", to surrender to the security of having ethical judgements made for us and handed down from an authority, Left to Right, liberal or conservative. But where an ideology such as conservativism focuses so strongly on received morality, exerting pressures on individuals to conform to traditions, to work towards "the maintenance of the expectations of his family, group, or nation as valuable in its own right, regardless of immediate and obvious consequences", there I think we are dealing with an ideology actually aimed at this reversion, focused on creating individuals who are" oriented toward authority, fixed rules, and the maintenance of the social order" rather than thinking for themselves. That, to my mind, is downright dangerous in a way that liberalism -- or libertarianism, for that matter -- is not.
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James M. Pfundstein
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 10:51 am:   

I'd say (in fact I did say) that ideology is one element of political associations, and as such is worth inquiring into, but I'd dispute that it is the defining element in any political association. A taxonomy which imposes an arbitrary and distorting order on a complex field of evidence is not preferable to no taxonomy: Socratic ignorance is better than Platonic overconfidence.

The fundamental impulse of conservatism is emotional and pan-human: to hang on to something. One of the basic processes in developing a political allegiance is social identification (from a necessarily inadequate sample): I'm like these people, not like those people. The sword of ideological analysis is insufficient to cut through this Gordian knot of irrational associations.

JMP("Phrygian cap")
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al duncan
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 11:08 am:   

And, Barry, Duncecan? You know you coulda come up with better than that. It reads like a stutter without a hyphen, plus it's kinda obvious. You coulda selected any number of:

Scatological insults: Dung-can; Dun-cack; Dump-can.

Intellectual insults: Dumbcan; Duh!ncan; Dun-canned-philosphical-nonsense.

Linguistic insults: Dun-cant; Dun-can-you-be-any-more-verbose?

Or even Surrealist: Dun-Can-Can-Kitty-Kitty-Can-Can-Kitty-Kitty-Can-Can-Kitty-Kitty-darararara-TSSH!
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StephenB
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 02:38 pm:   

Well, I'm certainly not trying to stand up for conservatives. Fuck the conservatives. But I think this discussion leads to what seems to be a fundamental of society. This desire to fit into something and be superior to something else. There's all sorts of little groups out there, political and otherwise, and one thing that they all pretty much share in common is their own superiority over another group.

The question this brings up, is: how many people actually fit in the fifth or even sixth stage of Kohlberg's development? And how many just want to believe they do, and want the rest of society to believe that to?

Let's face it. People's perception and status in society is a primary motivation when developing ones persona. What does all this competition and moral (or otherwise) superiority mean on the cosmic or spiritual level? Fuck all, that's what.

Try to keep that in mind and remember that we are pretty much conditioned to be this way since elementary school.

So, we're often left with a choice. Are you going to play the game the way we're taught? Join a camp to make yourself feel better and superior. Or are you going to play by your own rules?
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AliceB
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 05:10 pm:   

My problem Al, is that the Kohler scale relates to individual levels of maturity--it's a series of steps in the maturity of a person's behavior as s/he moves from childhood to adulthood. Groups, although created by individuals, do not work in the same way: they do not mature in the same way. There are studies out there about group development, but my knowledge, I confess, is limited to what I remember from spending many a boring hour at retreats where someone with a flipchart and marker droned on about the growth patterns of nonprofit group dynamics. But what I do remember (before I concentrated on whatever doodle I was working on at the time) was that groups start off as individuals with individual motivations that eventually coalesce into more directed motivations... and the rest, I'm afraid, is blah, blah, blah. My point being, the Kohler scale just doesn't fit right.

(Aside to James here: groups definitely have a different dynamic than the individuals within them, and people within groups often behave differently than they do outside the group--not that that should absolve them in any way for their individual acts while within the group, for which they remain ultimately responsible. There's been empirical research done along these lines--much in response to the question, "How could ordinary Germans have done what they did under the Nazis?")

Individual decisions can be measured on the Kohler scale--how Lt. General Honore or Mr. Brown acted as measured on that scale is a valid analysis. However, analyzing the results of myriad conservative forces as if done by an individual is misleading. There should be standards of ethical behavior for groups--because what's happening in today's world is clearly not ethical--but those standards should be based on the ethical maturity of a group. I will think on this some more--but I'd be very interested in hearing about whatever work has already been done out there along those lines.

Best,
Alice
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, October 21, 2005 - 05:34 pm:   

Franco took over Spain in a civil war. Hitler took over in a period of rampant inflation where there was a sizeable Communist Party to demonize. Italy was unstable after WWI.

Plus they weren't all that coy about their agenda. Although some early things said by Mussolini indicated a support for democracy, dissolving the Senate for "corruption" was always stated to be the goal. If the Senate goes Democrat in 2006 and he proposed to dissolve it the next year he would be seen as a nut or totally reviled. His approval rating is already 39% and he hasn't done anything that crazy.
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StephenB
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 03:19 am:   

Oh, but trust me Al, I fuckin' hate conservtives, I have to deal with 'em enough each day....
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Stephenb
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 03:25 am:   

Oh, and Thomas R.. shut up.:-)
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Alistair
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 04:15 pm:   

JeffV, that's a remarkable post, and very relevant to this discussion. The amalgamation of Right Wing ideology with religious freakery (or is it vice-versa?) is.... I cannot find the words.

This says it all:

"Dinosaurs with saddles?"

Which, when you think about it, is actually a very good description of Right Wing ideology.
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Alistair
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 04:31 pm:   

No prob, AliceB.

Yes James, by the way, I'm a frequenter of Ferrara, a most beautiful town!
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AT
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 04:56 pm:   

Dear Alice,
Thank you for your righting of the verbal wrongs against cunts.

No. It makes them xenophobes. Cunts are actually very welcoming--the time honored tool of the oldest profession. They have no political agenda, being the progenitors of every human in existence. I'm not all that good at coming up with put-downs--but "cunts"... well, being the happy owner of one would prefer not to have those chickenshit, narrow-minded, self-interested bigots associated with any part of my anatomy.

Especially on a board frequented by people interested in communication, I think that there should be not only more accuracy when insults come into play, but more creativity. Insults that are body- and sexuality-based really show the hate of both bodies and anything to do with sex. They are, therefore, the most regressively conservative and straight-laced language in the English language, as well as being trite cliches. I use them too, when I am too lazy to think, but I also do other things I am not happy about.

Especially on a board frequented by people interested in communication, I therefore advocate not only more accuracy when insults come into play, but more creativity (and perhaps some restraint about tossing insults around, too?). The art of insults is an honourable one, and a good insult can even be done with respect, wit, and a lack of self-aggrandisement. Your correction was inspiring.


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AT
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 05:24 pm:   

Sorry for my repetition from my garbled editing.
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AliceB
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 06:54 pm:   

I've found it interesting that there is only one obscenity referring to female genitalia, whereas there are so many more referring to males', and that "cunt" is so fundamentally misogynistic: "you are a cunt" means "you are nothing but female genetalia" meaning you are worthless because you are, in the most essential way, a woman. "Prick," "dick," and all the variants (I know of about a half-dozen in Yiddish) aren't insults about general worthiness but rather about a person's behavior or thinking: "you are a prick" means "you behave no better than your penis;" and the more precise "dick-head" means "you think as well as a penis."

I'm all for creative insults--done judiciously. :-)

Best,
Alice
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AT
Posted on Saturday, October 22, 2005 - 07:13 pm:   

I never thought of cunt in relation to other swearwords in this way,Alice, but now that you point it out, I see the difference. As to the judicious aspect of creative insults, I should perhaps add that I think they're best done when least used, and also, that: to argue with someone you don't respect is a waste of (at least) good blood pressure, so I think creative insults are only worth tossing to someone one thinks of as at the minimum level,an equal in a discussion.
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StephenB
Posted on Sunday, October 23, 2005 - 06:33 pm:   

Yeah, well, it's not like I really hate all conservatives -- that was rather brash of me.

Anyway, about the c word thing. It does depend on the context, but it's often used as a negative and derogetory conotation.

But that's the thing about words like that, if you make them dirty, if you make them an obscenity, you're attaching a stigma to what the word implies. There's nothing wrong with the female genetalia, so there should be nothing wrong with the word. Unfortunately that's not the way it usually works in our society; this is in part, the whole deeply entrenched misogyny in our western culture, a lot of which comes from the Bible.


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Eponymous
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 07:38 pm:   

This certainly is a better online environment than Asimov's, which is inundated with right-wing garbage from Tom Kratman, SF Murphy, and their ilk. How did that message board become such an enclave for wingnuts-- does it reflect on the magazine??
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Thomas R.
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 09:03 pm:   

The politics section of Asimov's has become the Right-wing equivalent of what the old War-board was here. I don't think this place is exceptionally better, but it might be at the moment.

As for why that happened I've speculated at times, but I'm honestly uncertain. When I first went to Asimov's in 1999 it was not right-wing. It was basically moderate and not all that political. You had a few conservatives and a few liberals with the rest of people being kind of mixed in their individual views. Since September 11 it's been moving right. I think right-wing trolls or trollish people like TCO and Jon Bromfield drove out many liberals to Left-wingers.

The magazine itself is not Right-wing, not IMO anyway(Le Guin, Stross, etc. being often in it), and I think many of the Rightists that post there rarely if ever read it. The good part though is that now that they're cordoned off to politics the rest of Asimov's might be more mixed.
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R.Wilder
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 10:06 am:   

I'm happy that politics is in the back of the "Asimov's" bus, so to speak. It's easier to ignore or pay attention to, since the topic had overcome those relating to the magazine or science fiction.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 10:36 am:   

Back again, Thomas. What a shocker.

Yeah, the War Board's getting up a basketball team and we're gonna kick Asimov's.
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Thomas R.
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 07:43 pm:   

My assistant re-subscribed me to FSF by accident. So I started posting there again and then came here. I was gone for several months.
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Alistair Rennie
Posted on Friday, June 16, 2006 - 03:55 pm:   

One of the consequences of the murder of Jody Dobrowski referred to above is the conviction of his killers, which you can read about here. It is recommended that you also watch the BBC video presentation.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/5087286.stm

The ultimate consequence, however, is that "a beautiful man" has been lost from our midst, forever.
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GSH
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - 08:47 pm:   

File under: I Can't Decide Whether I Should Laugh or Weep

All the truth we'll ever need to know about the "Iraq War", "Evolution", "Jack Abramoff", "marijuana", etc, in one convenient location.
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Donald E. Jackson
Posted on Monday, July 23, 2007 - 09:20 am:   

Every couple of years...they come out.

Can someone direct me to NightShade publishing's site?
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Luke Jackson
Posted on Monday, November 05, 2007 - 12:42 pm:   

Poor liberals, suffering from that Bush Derangement Syndrome.

http://salon.com/comics/tomo/2007/11/05/tomo/

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