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U.S. Fundamentalism & Divisiveness

 
 
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Sat 8 Aug, 2009 11:46 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
This is semantics. If what you say is true, then there is no such thing as reason at all, only varying shades of emotional unreason. That's fine, I'll accept that thesis. In fact, it fits well with my philosophical views; reason consists of compounded, standardized, become-fixed, unreason. Still, there is a difference between Bob voting for Bush because he has a firm handshake and smiles nice, and Jim voting for Ron Paul because he believes in the ideal of libertarianism, despite his dislike of Ron Paul's appearance, voice, clothing, etc. I would characterize that difference as one person voting with emotion, the other voting with reason.

We can each use our own words to describe the same phenomenon, as long as we agree that the difference I described above does in fact exist and is of consequence for politics and society. Can we agree on that? If not, then why should we try to have educated voters? We might as well formally change the election format to resemble American Idol.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 04:23 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;82028 wrote:
This is semantics. If what you say is true, then there is no such thing as reason at all, only varying shades of emotional unreason. That's fine, I'll accept that thesis. In fact, it fits well with my philosophical views; reason consists of compounded, standardized, become-fixed, unreason.


This is more than semantics - it cuts to the psychology of voting. I am not saying that there is no reason at all, only that the nature of human reason is not quite what Aristotle had in mind, you know?

BrightNoon;82028 wrote:
Still, there is a difference between Bob voting for Bush because he has a firm handshake and smiles nice, and Jim voting for Ron Paul because he believes in the ideal of libertarianism, despite his dislike of Ron Paul's appearance, voice, clothing, etc. I would characterize that difference as one person voting with emotion, the other voting with reason.


A difference in this, yes. But very little difference in the way Bob develops cares for the hand shake, and Jim cares for lofty, idealized economic principles. In this case, we might accurately say that Jim exercises more reason in his decision process.

BrightNoon;82028 wrote:
We can each use our own words to describe the same phenomenon, as long as we agree that the difference I described above does in fact exist and is of consequence for politics and society.


Even among your distinctions, there is a misunderstanding of the supposed left wing of American politics. Splitting the left wing between McBamanties and Socialist/Communists idealists is not accurate - while such a distinction can be made between these two groups, a good portion of the left is not represented by either camp. Case in point would be the Southern Democrats. There are also what we might call pragmatic leftists.

BrightNoon;82028 wrote:
If not, then why should we try to have educated voters?


Because the more educated a voter is, the greater the voter's historical perspective. History is the greatest political educator. The better the understanding of history, the greater the emotional reaction against politic that has, time and again, proved itself folly. A great example is the corruption and impotency of British politics to handle Colonial America in the 1760s through the Revolution. At the time, the people in Britain, by and large, simply did not care that their system was bought and sold corruption.

BrightNoon;82028 wrote:
We might as well formally change the election format to resemble American Idol.


There isn't much difference as it is.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 04:37 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;82154 wrote:
This is more than semantics - it cuts to the psychology of voting. I am not saying that there is no reason at all, only that the nature of human reason is not quite what Aristotle had in mind, you know?


Agreed. I too have major philosophical objections to the classical, rational (Ha) conception of reason.


Quote:
A difference in this, yes. But very little difference in the way Bob develops cares for the hand shake, and Jim cares for lofty, idealized economic principles. In this case, we might accurately say that Jim exercises more reason in his decision process.


That's all i'm saying. For the purpose of this argument, without getting into epistomolgy, we should be able to agree that there are relatively more and less rational voters and bases for making the voting decision, which we might call emotions (appearance, handshake, voice, slogan that appeals to personal goals, 'bread, land and peace' e.g.) and principles (adherence to certain defined propositions or foundational (abstract)ideas).

Quote:
Even among your distinctions, there is a misunderstanding of the supposed left wing of American politics. Splitting the left wing between McBamanties and Socialist/Communists idealists is not accurate - while such a distinction can be made between these two groups, a good portion of the left is not represented by either camp. Case in point would be the Southern Democrats. There are also what we might call pragmatic leftists.


That's a good point. When I used the word 'idealistic' to describe the one group, I may not have explained myself well enough. I meant to denote the antithesis of the faux socialists (the corporatists/fascists who use socialism/populism as a mask and a tool), i.e. the people who genuinly believe in the basic tenets of some form of collectvism, whether we want to call it socialism or communism, or anarcho-communism, etc. In that sense, they are idealistic. They are not using a facade of socialism as a tool in the pragamatic quest for something else. I think you have interpreted idealistic to mean more radical, less moderate, less likely to compromise for some progress, more likely to hold out for some utopian ideal. The blue dogs wouldn't fit in that category. But if we understand 'idealistic' as I intended it, they fit nicely: they have a genuine belief that the role of the govrnment should be greater, that the poor and disabled should be cared for, that the public should regulate the economy to some extent, etc. In short, they believe in a form of collectivism. And they are not a part of the faux socialist (really fascist) bile.

Quote:
Because the more educated a voter is, the greater the voter's historical perspective. History is the greatest political educator. The better the understanding of history, the greater the emotional reaction against politic that has, time and again, proved itself folly. A great example is the corruption and impotency of British politics to handle Colonial America in the 1760s through the Revolution. At the time, the people in Britain, by and large, simply did not care that their system was bought and sold corruption. There isn't much difference as it is.


Agreed
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 06:42 pm
@Khethil,
It seems this issue is particularly characteristic of the United States. It is very different in Australia. Sure there are liberals and conservatives and a lot of the same debates but they don't seem to be conducted with nearly the same vehemence. It is much more easy going.

One of my feelings about it, though, is that 'individualism' has been pushed much to far in the modern US. The individual is sovereign, God, decider, everything else. I don't suggest that civil rights be eroded but maybe their interpretation made a little less egocentrically.

It says in the US constitution 'the pursuit of happiness'. I think one phrase would make a helluva difference: the pursuit of someone else's happiness. If there were more of a commitment to altruism - not that there aren't great philanthropists and charities there already. But it seems to me that the US vision of modernity often encourages a very selfish view of the world. Pursuit of happiness often gets translated directly into pursuit of the almighty dollar, pursuit of my life and my family and everything else that is mine.

Just a thought.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 07:19 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;82190 wrote:
It seems this issue is particularly characteristic of the United States. It is very different in Australia. Sure there are liberals and conservatives and a lot of the same debates but they don't seem to be conducted with nearly the same vehemence. It is much more easy going.

One of my feelings about it, though, is that 'individualism' has been pushed much to far in the modern US. The individual is sovereign, God, decider, everything else. I don't suggest that civil rights be eroded but maybe their interpretation made a little less egocentrically.

It says in the US constitution 'the pursuit of happiness'. I think one phrase would make a helluva difference: the pursuit of someone else's happiness. If there were more of a commitment to altruism - not that there aren't great philanthropists and charities there already. But it seems to me that the US vision of modernity often encourages a very selfish view of the world. Pursuit of happiness often gets translated directly into pursuit of the almighty dollar, pursuit of my life and my family and everything else that is mine.

Just a thought.


The pursuit of happyness is left undefined for a reason. It is not for society to decide what kind of happyness an individual should be able to pursue. It might be pursuit of money, or women, or the best fried chicken in the country, doesn't matter. Happyness is relative.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 07:32 pm
@Khethil,
not the point I was making. What constitutes happiness is indeed the individual's perogative although walking over others for it seems regrettably commonplace in this day and age.
0 Replies
 
VideCorSpoon
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 07:34 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;82190 wrote:
It seems this issue is particularly characteristic of the United States. It is very different in Australia. Sure there are liberals and conservatives and a lot of the same debates but they don't seem to be conducted with nearly the same vehemence. It is much more easy going.

If Australian parliament is anything like the English parliamentary system (which it is), it is way more chaotic than anything that can be cooked up in the United States.

jeeprs;82190 wrote:

One of my feelings about it, though, is that 'individualism' has been pushed much to far in the modern US. The individual is sovereign, God, decider, everything else. I don't suggest that civil rights be eroded but maybe their interpretation made a little less egocentrically.

It's actually quite the opposite. In the younger years of the United States (following the articles of confederation and eventual federal formation), states were very independent. The whole notion behind individualistic tendencies have been the root of many of the united states problems, from individual "state action" which attempted to carry laws in its own terms separate of the federal system. It's actually been rather recently that individuality in party and politic has subsided. I suppose it's a stereotype of Americans though that we are individualistic and God-fearing, so no one can really fight foreign conception without careful study of what really going on in the United States which unfortunately does not happen very often.

jeeprs;82190 wrote:
It says in the US constitution 'the pursuit of happiness'. I think one phrase would make a helluva difference: the pursuit of someone else's happiness. If there were more of a commitment to altruism - not that there aren't great philanthropists and charities there already. But it seems to me that the US vision of modernity often encourages a very selfish view of the world. Pursuit of happiness often gets translated directly into pursuit of the almighty dollar, pursuit of my life and my family and everything else that is mine.


---------- Post added 08-09-2009 at 09:38 PM ----------

Also, you may enjoy this clip from Flight of the Concords. We are all persons! LOL!

YouTube - Flight of the Conchords - Racism

0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 07:47 pm
@Khethil,
Gosh didn't mean it that seriously. Australia is not a paradise on earth or anything like that. But the issue topic was "fundamentalism and divisiveness' and these do seem to loom a lot larger in the US than here. BUt I don't want to make a federal case out of it, as the saying goes, it is just an observation.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 08:01 pm
@jeeprs,
No, our society definitely promotes narcissism, which is an extreme form of selfishness.

There have been studies done - Americans are growing increasingly narcissistic. This is proof that our society promotes narcissism.

Books have been written, articles pop up from time to time, but in our narcissistic blindness we (as a society) more often than not refuse to acknowledge these realities.

Don't believe me, go look it up. This should be common knowledge.
VideCorSpoon
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 08:22 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Jeepers,Didymos,
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Aug, 2009 09:43 pm
@Khethil,
besides.... I LOVE America. Icecream, movies, jazz...heck, I play jazz...Steely Dan...where would we be without 'em? Not to mention saving our necks in the Battle of the Coral Sea....anyway, will be going there in October, finally...
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Aug, 2009 09:51 am
@VideCorSpoon,
VideCorSpoon;82207 wrote:

Didymos,
I think that labeling American society as narcissistic is a relative thing though and not entirely correct.


Again, go look at the studies. Don't mind me. No, not every American is a narcissist, but our society is growing increasingly narcissistic. That's a fact that can be checked - you know where to look.

VideCorSpoon;82207 wrote:
Not to say that American identity does not have a degree of inflated self importance, but does any other national identity have less?


I'm not sure how we measure up against other nations. That would be interesting to know. I haven't even seen any studies on other nation's narcissism. Dammit, know I gotta scour the web for info. I'll report back if I find anything.

VideCorSpoon;82207 wrote:
But I'm sure there are just as many that say the exact opposite.


I've never seen one, and I've looked. If you can find such an article.... well, pass it along.

VideCorSpoon;82207 wrote:


While that's wonderful, this has nothing to do with narcissism. Narcissists donate, too.

VideCorSpoon;82207 wrote:
It's amusing how Americans would be labeled by some foreigners as selfish, even though they give so much out of their own pockets. If a people donate so much privately and don't at least contemplate the importance of their contribution to the welfare of those in need, we would be undervaluing our worth as a productive people (aside from the fact that we are selfish LOL!).


And it is an absurd generalization that people make when they assume that if one is American that one must be selfish. But it happens.

Of course, as you say, we are selfish :bigsmile:
VideCorSpoon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Aug, 2009 05:46 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Fair enough. The studies that I have read have had narcissistic tendencies in their own ways, displayed flagrant self-interest for their own agendas or specific points they intend to convey. You would have to post links or reference the studies you have read on the issue, but as far as I have seen, they are all agenda based and not entirely unbiased analyses. I would be very interested to read a fully unbiased accusation of American narcissism. Although, I don't expect to ever come across such a document. I really do not deny that Americans are not narcissistic, far from it, only that others are just as guilty of it as much as Americans. That's why I have a relative position on it. In a sense, we are criticizing shades of grey.

On the subject of narcissists and donating, you don't think that the two issues are inextricably connected? That an act of selflessness confronts an act of self interest (fundamentally speaking)? I would think that would have everything to do with the notion of narcissism. If a narcissist donates, that means they are free to change their mind. LOL! However, I suppose that's all relative.

To be brutally honest though, I really don't take accusations of American narcissism too seriously. It's more amusing than illuminating because the goal is usually criticism in particular rather than some greater relational truth. Personally, I think these studies come off more as self-hate and depressive context rather than anything productive and genuinely informed. But that does not mean that there is not something genuinely meaningful in the studies though, just that I think the reports are mostly biased.
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 06:27 pm
@Khethil,
To an outsider who has had a chance to live in your country, back when you were preoccupied with Asians in black pyjamas, I have the powerful impression that I have not seen your countrymen that divided until Bush Jr. took office. During the Vietnam era, particularly prior to 1970, Americans were fiercely divided. It took quite a while for those scars to heal but eventually Americans seemed to return to a degree of cohesiveness again. I think Americans were more united, rightly or wrongly, under Reagan than I've ever seen them in my sixty years.

Now there seems to be such an anger, particularly on the right, that it renders them insensible, willing to believe the most preposterous lies. Look at the Lizard Queen herself, ranting on about "Death Panels." She just makes up this crap - there's no other word for it - as she goes and people believe her. It's breathtaking to an outsider and a little bit chilling also. When you get people who are supposedly credible contenders for high office egg on the crowd with patent, crazy talk, that office seeker and her followers are scary. This woman is not appealing to sane people. Sane people know what she says is outright, unadulterated crap. What sane person would embrace or even support a would-be leader who talks crazy talk?

You have a problem down there and it's one that could easily get much worse. There are so many issues that are begging for rationale discussion and debate that seem to get deliberately sidetracked by people talking utter crap to an audience raising their bowls and asking if they might have another.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 08:59 pm
@RDRDRD1,
Remember, Vide, narcissism is not exactly the same as selfishness. And donating money is not always done out of selfless intent.

A narcissist might drop money in the bucket while thinking, "Oh, if those poor, pathetic wretches do not get my help, my kind, compassionate, awesome, super-duper, perfect in every way help, what ever shall they do? No. They need me, and I am just that freakin' awesome. I can spare a dollar."
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Aug, 2009 10:26 pm
@Khethil,
Oh dear, I just listened to the City on the Hill's latter day Prophet, Glenn Beck, tell his viewing audience that Obama's healthcare agenda, like all your president's other initiatives, is all about - wait for it - reparations! You people need help. A lot of help. You need it now. It's like blood poisoning. Ignoring it won't make it go away.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 12 Aug, 2009 09:53 am
@RDRDRD1,
RDRDRD1;82685 wrote:
... You people need help. A lot of help. You need it now. It's like blood poisoning. Ignoring it won't make it go away.


This is exactly how it feels.
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 12:25 pm
@Khethil,
Just as an aside, some people are fighting back against this toxic extremism. There's a website, colorofchange.org, that has put up a petition to Beck's sponsors. So far it's working. He's lost Proctor & Gamble, Lawyers Inc., Progressive Insurance and Geiko. It seems tens of thousands have signed on to this petition, enough to nudge these major advertisers to dump this clown. That's the sort of message FOX News can understand.


http://www.colorofchange.org/beck/
VideCorSpoon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 02:47 pm
@RDRDRD1,
RDRDRD1,

LOL! Glen Beck the latter day prophet. Believe me when I say that Glen Beck is far from danger as far as sponsors are concerned. It's the second most watched news show in America for 2009, ironically with the top six or seven spots occupied by Fox news shows. Glenn Beck ratings skyrocket, Olbermann up, Maddow down, has anyone seen CNN? | I Hate the Media - Fun with Liberal Media Bias
0 Replies
 
RDRDRD1
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 04:10 pm
@Khethil,
Coming from the nation that coined descriptors like Freedom Fries and Surrender Monkeys, that's pretty rich. And no, I don't see Americans as rustics in cowboy hats listening to bluegrass. I have travelled your country quite widely, north to south, east to west. My very best friend of four decades is one of your countrymen whoI met when we attended university together, again in your country, back when Americans were very much obsessed with Asians in black pyjamas.
 

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