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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Progressive Memberships

Memberships in Progressive Fire on G+ & FB, & Memberships in My YT Discord
2019-02-13


In the heady days of the election of 2016, the Google Plus community which was originally "Bernie Sanders for President 2016" and then "Berners for Jill Stein," which became "Progressive Fire" after the general election, had some 2400 members.  We were the largest pro-Bernie community on Google Plus, and then the largest pro-Jill community on Google Plus (larger even than the community which is "Green Party of the United States Official").  Some decrease in membership during the "off season" was expected, and at one point in 2018 we got down to 1640 members.  As of today, 13 February 2019, the number of members has picked back up a bit, but we have known since October of last year that the consumer version of G+ is being phased out.  In consequence, I set up a Facebook group for "Progressive Fire," and knowing that many were not keen on Facebook or the censorship and invasion of privacy there, I also opened up my own Discord server (where there are no ads, no fees other than for purely optional perks, no invasion of privacy, and very little censorship apart from what each server owner sets in his or her rules and guidelines) for my YouTube subscribers to members of the PF community on G+.  This offer/invitation was made back in October or November.

Now let's look at the membership numbers.  Each of the following screenshots was made just a few moments ago today.



In case you can't make that out, let's focus and circle:

That says 1,704 members.

1,704 members in a community on a platform which will be gone before the end of April.

Let's have a look at PF on FB:


Again, maybe you don't know where to look, so let's focus again:

That says 31 Members.

31 members.

Now let's have a look at the Discord server I own which I set up for my YouTube subscribers, where I post everything I post at either/both of those PF platforms (and where I also post quite a bit more than I post on either of the PF platforms):


I would hope that this is large enough and focused enough that I don't need to make it any larger, but just in case, ...

That says 68 Members.

Most of the members of both PF at FB and my YT subscriber Discord server did not come from PF on G+.  I am extremely annoyed with the fact that few of you have joined either PF on FB or my Discord.  I'd much rather have you in my Discord (and I suspect most of you would prefer it to FB;  we didn't use G+ because we loved FB, after all).

I know many of you are advocating some platform called "MeWe" (of which I never heard before the announcement from Alphabet, Inc. that they would be phasing out the consumer version of G+), and others are dispersing to assorted other platforms.  I fully understand the dislike many of you have for Facebook.  Discord can do everything which can be done on G+, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, and more.  If you all had come to Discord when I first invited you, you would have been able to opt out of a change to their Terms of Service pertaining to arbitration/lawsuit, but some of you weren't listening when I said "Yes, it was started by gamers for gamers, but it has grown well beyond that now."  Some of you weren't listening when I stated, in response to concerns about "some new thing" (as if "MeWe" is some sort of legacy social media platform!), that Discord has been around for over 3 years (almost four now).

You want to disperse to the four winds instead of sticking together where we're more effective?

You want to go to a platform with a puerile name like "MeWe"?

You don't like the fact that I prohibited the divisive and unproductive discussions of "Gun Control vs the 2nd Amendment" and "Religion vs Atheism" in PF on G+?  Guess what?  Those prohibitions stand in PF on FB, but they don't exist in my Discord.  You will be expected to argue in good faith and follow the laws of Logic (and not spew a bunch of sophist bullshit), but as long as you do so and follow the other guidelines and rules (I believe there is only one rule I have set, which is a prohibition on hate speech), go for it.  If the SuperMod, one of the Mods, or I tell you to cool your heels for a bit, though, you should respect that instruction and govern yourselves accordingly.

So you have a choice.  Go disperse and become less effective through dispersal, go to a platform with a name a child could improve, come to FB and put up with Zuckerberg's ineptitude and capitulation to the Atlantic Council, or come to Discord.

Here's the link for the PF group on FB:
Progressive Fire group on Facebook

You'll need to let me know who you are if you be new to FB and want in.

Here's the link to set up an account on Discord and download either the PC client or the phone app (or both;  I use both):
Discord - Free Voice & Text Chat "for Gamers"

Once you've set up an account and downloaded the client and/or app, here's a permanent invitation to my Discord server:
Liv's Livestreams & Vids

You'll get an "NSFW" message upon entry;  that's merely a safety feature I installed.
You'll need to tell me who the fuck you are if you want into the actual server beyond the lobby.  The lobby is only for vetting newcomers.  You'll be able to see the rules and guidelines channel from there, too.  There are a lot of trolls and dipshits roaming around Discord, so I vet newcomers pretty severely, which is why you need to tell me who the fuck you are if you actually want in.

Thanks for your attention to this.  Have a nice day.

~ Giovanna,
Owner of Progressive Flame,
Editor of The Progressive Flame,
PMO Member of Real Progressives,
Philosopher,
YouTuber,
Blogger,
etc.










Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Name 'Progressive' -- Its Proponents, Wouldbe Usurpers, & Wannabe Exploiters




Henry A. Wallace, Father of Modern Progressivism


The Name 'Progressive' -- Its Proponents, Wouldbe Usurpers, & Wannabe Exploiters
by Giovanna Laine


Introductory Remarks

Historical Progressivism, that is, what went by the name from the period of around 1890 until around 1945, was a relatively vague thing, concerned primarily with "reform," which meant that anyone who advocated for what they thought was reform could claim to be a Progressive. Reform is itself a rather vague term, of course, due to its subjectivity.  I have discussed this in slightly more detail elsewhere, but suffice it to say that this is why members of multiple political parties and various ideological perspectives were labeled, and labeled themselves, as "Progressives" during this "Historical Progressive" era.  As time went on, the term began to take on some distinct meanings, but it would not be until after the end of World War II that Progressivism truly distinguished itself from other currents of thought in the American political arena.

Modern Progressivism

Modern Progressivism was born about 1946 when Henry Wallace became the editor of The New Republic magazine, and came of age in 1952 after he realized that the USSR wasn't what he thought it was initially (due to the rather sanitized presentation he was shown when he visited the country).  Modern Progressivism has some rather distinct perspectives, according it the status of something truly unique, different from other socio-political and economic perspectives in American thought.  Initially, these included extreme Leftist economic views, but since 1952, Modern Progressives have been generally Socialist while rejecting Marxist Socialism.¹  Henry Wallace was a Progressive Republican before becoming a Progressive Democrat in 1936, and subsequently FDR's second Vice President in 1941, and was thus an Historical Progressive before becoming the Father of Modern Progressivism.  Two or three other camps in the United States today claim the label Progressive, neither of which has any historical connection ("lineage," if you will) from the original Progressives before the end of World War II.  I mean to discuss these and draw some distinctions between them and what I have named "Modern Progressivism."

Social Liberals and Modern Progressives

Social Liberalism also became a distinct movement in the US about the same time as Modern Progressivism, although it, like Modern Progressivism, had its roots in late 19th century ideals.  Classical Liberalism had still held onto the status of dominant "Liberal" perspective in America into the 1930s, with its economic Laissez-Faire attitude taken to extremes under the administrations of Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover.  Relegating this now-named "Classical" Liberalism to the past, Social Liberalism in the US went more simply by the name "Liberalism."  Almost from the beginning, Social Liberals and Modern Progressives had disagreements, in spite of some shared goals, and the disagreements were sometimes about how to approach the actualization of these goals, with the Liberals gradually adopting a top-down approach while the Progressives favored a grassroots approach.

One of the most well-known of these disagreements, however, was to do with the Vietnam War in the 1960s and '70s.  The Social Liberals had largely formed within or gravitated toward the Democratic Party, with Modern Progressives establishing a new "Progressive Party" in 1948 and nominating Henry Wallace for President.  This party, however, included a number of Communists who would not listen to Wallace's criticism in 1950 of the invasion of South Korea by the North Korean Communists, and the executive committee of this Progressive Party issued a statement of opposition to US involvement in Korea the same year.  Wallace subsequently left the party.  His new and more accurate understanding of the Stalinist regime which he had from 1952 also didn't sit well with them, but by this time he was already gone, and he gave his support to Dwight Eisenhower in the 1952 and 1956 Presidential contests (for reference, a brief examination of the 1956 Republican Party platform will demonstrate how much the Republican Party has changed since then).

The Progressive Party of 1948 disbanded in 1955 as a result of the Cold War and the Red Scare witch hunt led by Joseph McCarthy.  Many Modern Progressives had already dispersed into one or the other of the two main parties.  The conflict over the Vietnam War between Liberals and Progressives saw the Liberals supporting the war effort, since it was being prosecuted by Democratic Presidents like JFK and LBJ, while the Progressives, with nothing like the partisan loyalty of the Liberals, opposed the war effort, anti-war perspectives having also been one of the defining characteristics of the Progressive Party of 1948.²

A brief account of the 1968 and 1972 Democratic Presidential campaigns will help to further establish some of the history between Social Liberals and Modern Progressives, the relevance of which will be apparent in discussing the post-1988 situation.

When Lyndon Johnson withdrew from his re-election campaign in 1968, Liberals and the Democratic Party establishment rallied behind the pro-war candidate Hubert Humphrey, while the Progressives in the Democratic Party split in two, with some favoring Eugene McCarthy and others supporting Robert F. Kennedy.  The Conservative Southern Democrats also split in two, with some behind Humphrey while others backed the notorious segregationist George Wallace.  RFK was assassinated on 5 June, and the contest was then between Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy.  In 1968, only the District of Columbia and 14 states held primary elections in the Democratic Party, the remainder determined by caucuses before or during the national convention.  The results were telling.

At the time of RFK's assassination, the total delegate count was 561 for Humphrey, 393 for Kennedy, and 258 for McCarthy.  Contrast these numbers with the popular vote in those states (and the District) where primary elections were held:  38.73% for McCarthy, 30.63% for Kennedy, and a mere 2.21% for Humphrey, with the remainder of the vote going to other candidates (including LBJ) and write-in candidates.  Interestingly, Richard Nixon received 0.18% as a write-in on the Democratic ticket.  That year's Democratic National Convention in Chicago was the scene of a police riot against anti-war protesters.  Hubert Humphrey easily won the nomination (despite having won not a single primary), with McCarthy coming in a distant second and George McGovern taking third place.  The scandal of a candidate who had not won a single primary being given the nomination by the party establishment led to a reform in which more states would hold primary elections for the Democratic Party.

This sorry election year left Progressives angry and determined to win in 1972.  This time, 21 states and the District held Democratic primary elections, and 12 states held caucuses before the national convention.  The clear winner of the caucuses was George McGovern, who was backed by most Progressives, and although Hubert Humphrey running again got slightly more of the popular vote than McGovern, this amounted to only five states won, compared to McGovern's victory in 15 states.  The delegate totals were 1000 for McGovern to only 354 for Humphrey (even George Wallace did better in delegates and states won than Humphrey this time around).  At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, McGovern received 57.37% of the votes, to to Humphrey's 2.22%.

Progressive grassroots activism had forced more states to hold primaries and had secured the Democratic nomination for President for one of their own, "the Peace Candidate" George S. McGovern, who was also widely noted as an ecology candidate and a supporter of equality for women (McGovern publicly supported ratification of the ERA, but was not present in the Senate on the date the vote was held in March of 1972, due to his presidential campaign).  The Democratic Party establishment and many of the Liberals in the party resorted to forming a group called "Democrats for Nixon," which helped to get Richard Nixon re-elected, and in 1973, the Democratic Party revised its charter and bylaws to prevent grassroots reform or takeover of the party.  They have not nominated another Progressive for President since.

Fauxgressive Democrats or Partisan Fauxgressives

Throughout the 1980s, Republicans waged a propaganda campaign to turn the word "Liberal" into an insult, and were so successful that George H.W. Bush was able to dismiss one of Michael Dukakis' statements with the retort "That's just Liberal," the sneer in his words all-too-evident.  For their part, Democrats did not seem to have the spine to defend the term.  Following the 1988 election, a number of partisan Democrats who had up to then referred to themselves as "Liberals" sought to rebrand themselves by co-opting the name "Progressive."  In light of the history between Social Liberals and Modern Progressives, this was a strange choice, all the more so because these rebranded Liberals did not see any need to change any of their positions nor adopt any Progressive ideals.  Modern Progressives have often called these rebranded Liberals "Fauxgressives," and I generally refer to this second camp of people calling themselves Progressives as "Fauxgressive Democrats" or "Partisan Fauxgressives."

Regressive Outrage Mongers

Sometime after August of 2011, a new faction or movement began to coalesce.  Largely composed of young people within, or sympathetic to, the Democratic Party, this camp did not fully form until sometime in 2012, but it remains disorganized and without any official leaders (although several persons, living and dead, have influenced this camp, and it does have some personalities held in respect generally).  The earliest manifestations of this camp began to arise in the late 1990s as extremists of Political Correctness, and by 2003, they had engaged in semantic revisionism to such an extent that they had redefined "Political Correctness" in such a way that anyone who disagreed with their extremist take on PC (as well as those who tried to offer constructive criticism and even those who merely asked sincere questions about PC) could be dismissed as "racists and sexists and homophobes" automatically.

Toward the end of 2011, these PC Extremists began to merge with what have sometimes been called "Fourth Wave Feminists" (a largely authoritarian perspective counter to the view of the mainstream of Second Wave Feminism that Feminism was about not only Equality, but also Liberation from being expected to live up to anyone else's standard, even that of other Women), distorters of Kimberlé Crenshaw's original iteration of Intersectionality (while Ms Crenshaw had intended for the focus of Intersectionality to be on the structures which enabled and facilitated oppression, these proponents of "activism in the tweets" and later also "activism in the streets" had changed the focus to Identity Politics), and keyboard warriors who used a limited understanding of Social Justice as a bully's weapon.

As these elements came together, a few poorly understood concepts from Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault were added into the mix to justify a rejection of objective truth and cherry-picking of historical and scientific fact (this has led to Conservative, Ultra-Conservative, and Reactionary elements claiming that this camp is somehow "Postmodernist," but that is a somewhat inaccurate assertion;  rather, they have a small bit of influence from both Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism, but few if any of them in my experience have demonstrated more than a cursory understanding of either of those philosophies;  however, Derrida and Foucault actually had some influence on them, while William Jennings Bryan, Teddy Roosevelt, the Muckrakers, Robert LaFollette, FDR, Henry Wallace, George McGovern, and other Historical and Modern Progressives had no influence on them, because they don't study History, regarding it as suspect and unreliable -- and frankly, they don't study Philosophy, either, but managed to pick up a cursory understanding of a few concepts of Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism through filtered sources).³  This camp sought some way to distinguish themselves from the Democratic Party establishment (apparently due to a dislike of hierarchy), and so took the name "Progressive" from the Fauxgressive Democrats.

Some of their opponents on the Left have called them "Outrage Warriors" or "Outrage Mongers," while Modern Progressives as well as some Liberals, Conservatives, Ultra-Conservatives, and Reactionaries have given them other names including "Neo-Puritans" and "Regressives."  I have at times called this third camp "Postmodern Outrage Mongers" (note "Postmodern," not "Postmodernist"), but I have come to prefer the term "Regressive Outrage Mongers" for them, since so much of what they advocate would result in the undoing of progress achieved over the past 60 years (as an example, some of these kids have called for a return to racial segregation!).

Fauxgressive Opportunists

The fourth camp of persons trying to call themselves "Progressives" (if indeed it can be separated from the second camp of "Partisan Fauxgressives") seems to have formed during 2016 as a result of the popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders, who refers to himself as a Progressive (and has the history to support him being regarded as a Modern Progressive).  This camp also consists of partisan Democrats, but their motivation for claiming to be Progressive differs from that of the second camp.  While the second camp rebranded in an attempt to distance themselves from the caricature of Liberalism which the 1980s Republicans had created, this fourth camp seeks to use the name "Progressive" as, essentially, an advertising gimmick.  That is to say, they exploit the name in an effort to con Modern Progressives into giving them campaign contributions, volunteer campaign work, and votes.  These have also often been called "Fauxgressives" by Modern Progressives who see through the act, but in order to distinguish them from the second camp, I prefer to name them "Fauxgressive Opportunists" or "Opportunistic Fauxgressives."

Distinctions

So what are Modern Progressive ideals and goals?  What distinguishes us as Modern Progressives from these other camps apart from having a "lineage" from the original Historical Progressives?  That first question has several answers, and I will offer them in a subsequent article.  For the moment, I will simply make a few observations of distinctions.
A) Modern Progressives, unlike Fauxgressive Democrats / Partisan Fauxgressives, are non-partisan as a movement, although individual Modern Progressives may feel some sense of loyalty to some political party or another (but this is usually something like the Green Party of the United States, Socialist Alternative, or one of the several parties using "Progressive" as part of its name, rather than either of the two main parties).  Modern Progressives are Leftist, or at least Left-leaning Centrists, while Partisan Fauxgressives continue to support politicians who promote Neoliberalism (an extreme Right Wing economic perspective).
B) Modern Progressives see Identity Politics as divisive, and while not ignoring social concerns, are likely to regard economics as the primary struggle which must be won before any of these other concerns can be addressed in more than a temporary and token manner.  This is of course quite a different perspective from that of the Regressive Outrage Mongers, who focus on Identity Politics.  Attributing any economic perspective to the Regressive Outrage Mongers is challenging, since they give lip-service to Leftist or Centrist economic ideals, but their focus on Identity Politics establishes obstacles to the actualization of any Leftist goals (Leftism requires Solidarity to achieve its goals, while Identity Politics is divisive), and they seem all-too-willing to vote for the candidates chosen by the Democratic Party establishment, although some try to buck the system but wind up voting for Opportunistic Fauxgressives..
C) While Opportunistic Fauxgressives give lip-service to Progressive ideals in an attempt to win public office, Modern Progressives actually believe in these ideals.  These Fauxgressive Opportunists are pro-establishment and so will support the Neoliberal economic policies favored by the establishment.

Concluding Remarks

When I attempt to make these distinctions, I have often been told that word meanings change.  As a person with a little formal training in Linguistics, I know this, but I also know the difference between descriptive, prescriptive, and proscriptive lexicography.  Most common-use dictionaries nowadays are descriptive (that is, they describe the way the words are commonly used), while technical dictionaries (such as a dictionary of philosophy, for example) will prescribe how technical terms in their field should be used (and sometimes also proscribe incorrect uses).

Sometimes I have been accused of a No True Scotsman fallacy.  As someone with considerable training in Logic (one of my two undergraduate majors was Philosophy, and, as is the case with most undergrad programs in Philosophy, at least in the US, the focus of my program until senior-level classes was on Logic and the history of ideas, specifically the history of ideas in the context of Philosophy), I do find it annoying when people start tossing the names of fallacies around inaccurately, especially when they refuse to listen to correction and won't even consider references given to them which provide the correct explanations of these terms.  I'm not infallible, but I do have some idea of what terms in my own field mean, and probably a better idea than those with no formal training in a discipline which is a part of my own field.

One of the key elements of the Elengkhos (Socratic Dialectic) involves the quest to understand by sorting out word meanings.  This is done through a process of dialogue in which Socrates asks what one of his interlocutors means by a given word, gets an answer, applies logical analysis to the definition to find flaws, the interlocutor refines the definition, Socrates again looks for flaws, and so on, until, ideally, they arrive at a definition upon which they can agree, and then they proceed with the dialogue.

In Chapter III of his Analects, Kong Fu Zi (Confucius) says "If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things."  This quote is often paraphrased as "The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name."

The purpose of language is communication.  Ludwig Wittgenstein discussed the confusion and frustration which can arise when people trying to communicate are playing different Sprachspiele (Language Games), using the same game pieces but with different rules.  This is one of the reasons the definition of terms up front is recommended for "polite academic discourse."  If we use the same words, but with different meanings, communication becomes at least challenging, if not impossible.  Words do not mean just whatever someone wants them to mean, and common use can turn a word into its opposite over time, if nobody should care enough to correct those using the word incorrectly.  An example with which many English speakers will likely be familiar is "literally," which is nowadays becoming more and more often used to mean "figuratively" and not literally at all.  Do we want to communicate?  Then we need to understand the correct meanings of words.


Notes

1. Modern Progressives are generally in favor of some type of Socialism other than Marxism, although some proponents of Modern Progressivism have supported slightly-Left-of-Center Social Democracy rather than Socialism, while some others have continued to espouse various forms of Marxism while rejecting Stalinism:  Council Communism, for example (which is what the USSR was originally supposed to adopt, until Stalin consolidated his power and got rid of all of the soviets [regional/local councils] except the Supreme Soviet, resulting in centralized economic planning, rather than regional and local economies).  I myself am a Cooperative Commonwealth Socialist (I support local democratic economic cooperatives working together through confederation).

2. Worth noting before moving on, the Democratic Party establishment had tried to prevent Franklin D. Roosevelt from choosing Henry Wallace as his Vice Presidential running mate in 1940, but FDR insisted, going so far as to threaten to not run for re-election if he could not have Wallace.  In 1944, Roosevelt, weakened by illness, didn't have the strength to battle the party establishment again, and they replaced Wallace with Truman.  FDR did, however, name Wallace his Secretary of Commerce, in which position he continued under Truman until the latter fired him in 1946.  Why the Democratic Party establishment was so opposed to Wallace is also telling:  he opposed racial segregation and supported the advancement of women's rights.

3. A common theme for this third camp is a limited or incorrect understanding of many of the ideas they claim to espouse.  They're basically young (for the most part, although some of them are older than I am, and I'm from Generation X) and naïve with superficial knowledge of a few ideas.  Their situation is actually a rather sad one, because they want to effect some kind of positive change, but they haven't bothered to take the time necessary to understand the context in which the current situation exists (I mean the historical context and the ideological currents which have come out of the past to influence the present). Wanting to effect positive change is admirable, but you can't just jump into the deep end of the pool before you learn how to swim.

For Further Reference

Progressive Party Platform, 1948
http://www.davidpietrusza.com/1948-progressive-party-platform.html

Henry Wallace: America’s Forgotten Visionary Politician
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-dreier/henry-wallace-americas-forgotten-visionary-politician_b_8569658.html

Republican Party Platform of 1956
https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/republican-party-platform-1956

Politifact on the 1956 Republican Platform
https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/oct/28/facebook-posts/viral-meme-says-1956-republican-platform-was-prett/

United States presidential election of 1968
https://www.britannica.com/event/United-States-presidential-election-of-1968#ref1087640

The primaries scandal in 1968 that changed everything
https://www.vox.com/a/presidential-primaries-2016-republican-democrat/1968-scandal

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, by Hunter S. Thompson (available here)
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fear-and-loathing-on-the-campaign-trail-72-hunter-s-thompson/1109601282?ean=9781451691573#/

Presidential Primaries and Caucuses Democrats 1972 - PrimaryCaucus (a map-based history of the presidential nominating process)
https://sites.google.com/site/primarycaucus/home/Democrats1972

George McGovern
https://www.britannica.com/biography/George-McGovern

Kimberlé Crenshaw's keynote address "On Intersectionality" at WOW 2016
https://youtu.be/-DW4HLgYPlA




This article was originally published on Real Progressives™, on 15 December 2018.


All original content in this article is © Copyright 2013–2018 & an. seqq. by Giovanna Laine, who grants Real Progressives™ a non-exclusive license to publish the article in perpetuity so long as (a) the substance of the article remains unaltered, and (b) this copyright notice is attached.



Saturday, October 27, 2018

What the Heck Is Progressivism?






What the Heck Is Progressivism?
by Giovanna Laine


Historical Progressivism, that is, what went by the name from the period of about 1890 until about 1945, was a relatively vague thing, concerned only with "reform," which meant that anyone who advocated for what they thought was reform could claim to be a Progressive.  Reform is itself a rather vague term, of course, due to its subjectivity.  I have discussed to some length the Historical Progressives already, and how Modern Progressivism is the legitimate heir of the original movement.  In this piece, I would like to address some distinctions between the three camps which claim to be "Progressive" in the United States today.  I have also discussed this to some extent elsewhere in my work both at The Progressive Flame and on my YouTube channel, but I do not believe that I have made things entirely clear thus far in print.  With this piece, I hope to rectify that.

Modern Progressivism was born about 1946 when Henry Wallace became the editor of The New Republic magazine (founded in 1913 by some of the Historical Progressives), and came of age in 1952 after he realized that the USSR wasn't what he thought it was initially (due to the rather sanitized presentation he was shown when he toured the country).  Unlike Historical Progressivism's hazy nature, Modern Progressivism has some rather distinct perspectives, including initially very Leftist economic views, but since 1952, has been generally Socialist while rejecting Marxist Socialism (although some proponents have supported slightly-Left-of-Center Social Democracy rather than Socialism).  I have discussed some of the ideals of Modern Progressivism elsewhere (see the links below).

There are two other camps in the United States today who claim the label "Progressive," neither of which has any historical connection ("lineage," if you will) from the original Progressives before the end of World War II (Henry Wallace was a Progressive Republican before becoming a Progressive Democrat in 1936, and subsequently FDR's second Vice President from 1941-1945, and was thus an Historical Progressive before becoming the Father of Modern Progressivism).

These are (a) rebranded Social Liberals, Democratic Party loyalists, who first referred to themselves as "Progressive" after the 1988 election, because they hadn't had the spine to defend the term "Liberal" against Republican attempts to turn it into an insult throughout the 1980s, whom Modern Progressives call "Fauxgressives," and (b) outrage mongers inspired by a cursory understanding of Derrida and Foucault, who were mostly younger Democratic Party members more interested in keyboard warrior activism than studying social, political, and economic history and ideas in order to get a thorough grounding before going out and doing any activism, whence one of the names some of their opponents give them, "Social Justice Warriors," the latter word in reference to their initial "keyboard warrior" aspect, who didn't even coalesce into anything worthy of being called a movement until about 2012, who are more likely to be referred to by Modern Progressives as "Regressive Outrage Mongers" or "Postmodern Regressives," due to the fact that the consequences of their activism often seem to be likely (whether intentionally or unwittingly, such as the current call among some of them for segregation) to undo progress which has been accomplished over the past 60 years or so.

This gives us three camps, whom we can refer to briefly as:

1) Modern Progressives (1946 to the present)
2) Fauxgressive Democrats (1989 to the present)
3) Postmodern Regressives (2012 to the present)

and while a more accurate name for the second would be "Rebranded Social Liberals who have continued to be loyal partisan Democrats, some of whom use the name 'Progressive' in an effort to solicit campaign contributions and votes from Modern Progressives" and a more accurate name for the third would be "Outrage Mongers inspired to some extent by Derrida's Poststructuralism and Foucault's Postmodernism, who have usurped and misused the language of Political Correctness, Intersectionality, and Social Justice to spread their outrage and victim mentality, thereby blocking the actualization of Leftist goals" the unwieldy character of these more accurate names obviously makes for poor communication and dialogue.  Unfortunate though Jordan Peterson's misguided campaign to blame Postmodernism for all the ills of contemporary society, and his conflation of Postmodernism with the Right Wing conspiracy theory idea of "Cultural Marxism" (which was inspired by Weimar Germany era piffle about "Kulturbolschewismus," a term used primarily to attack Modern Art), may be, and in spite of the rather poor grasp of a few ideas of Postmodernism by the third camp, nevertheless, naming the third camp "Postmodern Regressives" is still more accurate than giving them some less precise designation, and helps to distinguish them from Modern Progressives (who are not "Modern" solely in the sense of being "up to date" and currently extant, but also in the sense of having embraced values of Modernism).

Of these three camps, obviously the Modern Progressives are in fact Leftists (or, at the very least, Centrists with a Leftist tinge).

Democratic Party loyalists, those whom we call Fauxgressives, whatever they may say, are supporting Neoliberal economic policies, and that means that, whether they realize it or not, they are advocating an Extreme Right-Wing economic perspective.

The final group (again, the Postmodern Regressives) ... I'm not sure they have any economic perspective, as a whole, at all.  They seem to be mostly concerned with authoritarian social policies, although they give lip service to Leftist economic ideals.  However, their obsession with identity politics serves only to establish obstacles to the actualization of any Leftist goals, so it's difficult to say what they actually believe in economic terms, probably due to the fact that most often they don't seem to have any clue what the hell they're talking about.  They're basically (for the most part) young and naïve with superficial knowledge of a few ideas.  It's one of the reasons they have turned Feminism on its head, for example; what was about Liberation and Equality during the 1960s and '70s has become something rather different.  Their situation is actually a rather sad one, because they want to effect some kind of positive change, but they haven't bothered to take the time necessary to understand the context in which the current situation exists;  I mean the historical context and the ideological currents which have come out of the past to influence the present.  Wanting to effect positive change is admirable, but you can't just jump into the deep end of the pool before you learn how to swim.

By way of contrast with Fauxgressive Democrats, Modern Progressives are not partisan (as a group, although some individuals might feel some loyalty to an authentically Modern Progressive, Left-libertarian political party such as the Green Party of the United States or one of the various parties using the word "Progressive" as part of its name), but will instead consider the policies of a candidate over party membership.

In contrast to Postmodern Regressives, Modern Progressives oppose authoritarianism.  Also, while advocating for equal rights under the law for all (regardless of pigmentation, ethnic ancestry, national origin, chromosomal sex, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity;  indeed, the reason the Democratic Party establishment did not want Franklin Roosevelt to pick Henry Wallace as his Vice Presidential running mate in 1940, and absolutely refused to allow him a second term as Vice President, was because he opposed racial and sex discrimination and would not support racial segregationBernie Sanders was arrested advocating for civil rights for Blacks in 1963supported the first ever Gay Pride parade in Burlington, Vermont, as Mayor in 1983, voted against the anti-equality "Defense of Marriage Act" in 1996 [see previous link], and treated Transgender persons as people as early as 1983), Modern Progressives do not allow Identity Politics to divide us and distract us from the primary struggle, which is economic (because reforming or dismantling the [mostly capitalist] structures which have enabled and/or facilitated oppression is the first step in ending oppression).

For more information, see
"Solidarity vs Intersectionality" at my YouTube channel:
https://youtu.be/-uJonanReRQ

"What Is A Progressive?" at The Progressive Flame:
https://medium.com/the-progressive-flame/what-is-a-progressive-c3829b6f180c

"What Is a Progressive? What Is a Leftist?" at my YouTube channel:
https://youtu.be/l8_-J7ytXE8

and "A Modern Progressive Manifesto" at The Progressive Flame:
https://medium.com/the-progressive-flame/a-modern-progressive-manifesto-faae5257c541




An earlier draft of this piece was first published on Google Plus on 5 September 2018.


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This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which may not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of scientific, environmental, political, human rights, economic, philosophical, psychological, cultural, and social issues, etc. 
I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.  No challenge of ownership is intended or implied.
For more information: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 


Copyright notice

All original content in this blog is © Copyright 2013-2018 & an. seqq. by "Liviana" (Giovanna Laine). 


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Kavanaugh, Due Process, Privacy, Torture, and the Supreme Court




Kavanaugh:
Due Process, Privacy, Torture,
and the Supreme Court,
by "Liviana" (Giovanna Laine)


Okay.  Kavanaugh.

Brace yourselves.

I'm going to give you five links, representing most of the latest intel to come across my desk before I wrote this (this was originally posted on G+, Facebook, and Discord, in various stages of completion, on 28 September 2018;  there have been a few developments since then, but my own view has remained unchanged).  Then I'm going to give you my take.

Tim Black (Video):
Kavanaugh Returns!

Deb Della Piana (Video):
Shut the Fuck Up-The Kavanaugh Hearings Edition, September 27, 2018

Minneapolis Star-Tribune (AP):
After powerful day of testimony, Senate panel plans a Friday morning vote

The New Republic:
Brett Kavanaugh Disqualified Himself From the Supreme Court

Carey Wedler (Video):
The TRUTH about Kavanaugh's "harassment" and "assault"


So now, here's my take ...

Giovanna Laine:
I don't like Brett Kavanaugh.

I don't want him on the Supreme Court.

My reasons are many, and were already formed before the news of accusations of sexual shenanigans was revealed.  But most are focusing solely on that aspect of who he is and whether or not he should be confirmed.

His behavior in these hearings has not endeared him to me, but I cannot say how I might have behaved were I in his shoes.  Ms Ford seems like a credible witness;  she not only submitted to, but passed, a lie detector test (which is by no means evidence of anything, quite honestly, apart from her conviction that she would be able to pass it), and furthermore wants an investigation.  Mr Kavanaugh has neither submitted to a lie detector test nor does he seem to want any investigation (if he's changed his mind about an investigation, I haven't seen indication of that, so please direct me to any evidence which says otherwise).

What I find disturbing about this whole affair is how the division falls neatly along party lines.  Republicans invariably (claim to) believe Kavanaugh to be innocent, while Democrats invariably (claim to) believe Ford's story.  It is predictable, of course, business as usual, and oh so tiring.

What I find most disturbing, however, is what one of those sides is advocating.  And it annoys me greatly that I have to agree with the other side on this, because I despise both of them, both parties -- not Kavanaugh and Ford, but Republicans and Democrats.  One side is advocating that the vote must go ahead today, that there's no reason for any kind of investigation.  And their motivation for this?  The midterm elections are coming up, and the investigation might last until they are over.  It's absolutely nothing but political expediency.  There's no concern for justice, no concern for truth, just a concern for how well or how poorly their party might fare in the midterm elections as a result.  And they're not considering that pushing this vote through without an investigation might actually hurt their performance in the said elections.  Short-sightedness, at the very least.

But, then again, I can't imagine anyone with half a brain seriously suggesting that either of the two main parties is particularly noted for foresight, or self-awareness.

I believe there should be an investigation (and, if the investigation should turn up reason for indictment, a trial), and only after that DUE PROCESS should any vote be held.  I do not believe he should be disqualified purely on the basis of an accusation.  We have Due Process precisely because there was a time when an accusation was all that was necessary for a presumption of guilt (heresy trials, witch hunts).  It hasn't been 31 years yet since a young woman by the name of Tawana Brawley made accusations which later seemingly turned out to be bogus, and which might have destroyed lives of the accused had they not been cleared.

"But Giovanna," some would say, "is their career or life more important than her body sovereignty?"  No.  But is her body sovereignty more important than someone's life?

Again, anyone can claim anything;  the claim alone does not make itself true.  I can claim to be Mary Queen of Scots.  Will you all address me as "Your Royal Majesty" if I do so?  Of course not, nor should you.  Truth does not depend on a mere assertion, nor how "believable" someone views the person making a claim to be, nor even on the character of the person making the assertion.  It certainly does not depend on partisan affiliation or leanings, nor what one has between one's legs, what chromosomes someone has, or what brain gender someone has.

Truth must cohere with reality and be self-referentially consistent.  It is not a matter of what team someone plays for, nor is it a matter of convenience or expedience.

This article gives some of the reasons why I opposed his appointment before I ever heard of Christine Blasey Ford:

The Constitutional Reasons to Oppose Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court




Fair use notice
This blog contains copyrighted material the use of which may not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my effort to advance understanding of scientific, environmental, political, human rights, economic, philosophical, psychological, cultural, and social issues, etc. 
I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.  No challenge of ownership is intended or implied.
For more information: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/107.
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. 


Copyright notice

All original content in this blog is © Copyright 2013-2018 & an. seqq. by "Liviana" (Giovanna Laine). 


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Menagerie, Part 2 (b), or, Dimensions of Perspective Revisited


Woops.  This is unfinished.  Check back later.

The Menagerie, Part 2 (a),
or,
Dimensions of Perspective Revisited,
by Liviana (Giovanna Laine)


There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

~ William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act I, Scene 5


(continued from previous post)

MORE (AND BEYOND)

We now have a total of nineteen different dimensions which contribute to a person's perspective (or worldview).  However, this collection of nineteen dimensions of perspective is hardly a complete picture.  We can expand these 19 dimensions fairly easily to 163 using another Platonic solid, the pentagonal dodecahedron, which has 160 diagonals (100 space diagonals and 60 face diagonals), to which can be added the ordinary Euclidean 3 dimensions, and adding the 30 edges would yield 193 dimensions of perspective:






I will begin, however, by expanding to only 33 dimensions of perspective using the Euclidean three dimensions and the thirty edges of the pentagonal dodecahedron (in other words, I will only offer "more" and not go on to "beyond," at this time).  I will not be labeling the 20 vertices of the pentagonal dodecahedron as I did the 8 vertices of the cube above (each vertex was labeled with a letter from A to H inclusive), because by now, the reader should understand how I am doing this.  Each of the edges of this Platonic solid, just like those of the cube, terminate at two of the vertices.

The pentagonal dodecahedron has twelve faces, twenty vertices, thirty edges, and one-hundred-and-sixty diagonals.  The twelve edges of the cube each terminate in two of the eight vertices.  The thirty edges of the pentagonal dodecahedron also each terminate at two of the twenty vertices.  While labeling each vertex may help the reader to visualize where the edges are in three dimensions, the reader may also simply count the lines in the image above and choose any of them for any of the 33 dimensions I will be here enumerating, adding in the three dimensions themselves to get the final three of the 33.

Of these, I have already presented 19, which means I will only be adding 14 more.  The list is as follows:


  1. Politics (Statism vs Anti-Statism)
  2. Economics
  3. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
  4. Politics (Centralization vs Decentralization)
  5. Imperialism vs Non-Interventionism
  6. Social Attitudes
  7. Cultural Attitudes
  8. Epistemology
  9. Globalism vs Localism
  10. Aesthetics
  11. Ecology vs Exploitation
  12. Idealism vs Pessimism
  13. Ontology and Metaphysics
  14. Diversity vs Uniformity/Conformity
  15. Ethics
  16. Romance and Sexuality
  17. Politics (Democracy vs Autocracy)
  18. Religion and Sacred Tradition
  19. Mysticism
  20. Compassion vs Selfishness (related to Ethics)
  21. 21 Introversion vs Extroversion
  22. 22 Dionysianism vs Apollonianism (and Passion vs Ratiocination)
  23. 23 Self-Affirmation vs Self-Abnegation
  24. 24 Conceit vs Humiliation
  25. 25 Perception vs Judgement
  26. Sensation vs Intuition (related to Epistemology)
  27. 27 Bellicosity vs Pacifism
  28. 28 Dominance vs Submission
  29. Identity
  30. Cooperation vs Competition
  31. 31 Geography/Environment
  32. 32 Education vs Ignorance
  33. Time


I will here discuss those numbered from 20 to 33:


20. Compassion vs Selfishness
Compassion vs Selfishness is related to Ethics and Economics.  In the introduction to what remains perhaps her most notorious work, The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand wrote:

In popular usage, the word “selfishness” is a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is of a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment.

Yet the exact meaning and dictionary definition of the word “selfishness” is: concern with one’s own interests.

This concept does not include a moral evaluation; it does not tell us whether concern with one’s own interests is good or evil; nor does it tell us what constitutes man’s actual interests. It is the task of ethics to answer such questions.

I am not certain from what dictionary Rand got this alleged definition.  The English Dictionary of the Oxford Living Dictionaries defines "selfish" as:

(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.


The Oxford Living Dictionaries are, as one might expect from the title, descriptive lexica;  that is, their definitions are based on contemporary ("living") usages, rather than prescriptions of how words should be used (as would be the case in a prescriptive lexicon).  To put this another way, a descriptive lexicographer would offer definitions based on contemporary understandings of words, while a prescriptive lexicographer would offer definitions which might reflect older understandings of the same words;  the descriptive lexicographer tells how people do use words, and a prescriptive lexicographer tells how people ought to use words.

That having been said, I find the notion that "selfishness" was defined without any "moral evaluation" in 1961 to be dubious.  I wasn't alive at the time, but I did enter this world only a few years later, and I cannot recall anyone of my acquaintance having ever thought of "selfishness" as anything other than unethical, or at least immature.

Rand's argument (if it can be called that), however, rests not upon a dictionary definition, and is less a defense of "selfishness" in the ordinary sense in which we use it today than it is a condemnation of the concept of "sacrifice."  While I am no fan of "sacrifice," preferring instead the concept of "offering," I am not certain she properly understood the term "sacrifice," although she contended that "selfishness" as we know it is sacrifice of others to oneself, and "unselfishness" is sacrificing our own interests to others, and rejects both forms of what she regards as "sacrifice."  I contend that benevolence or altruism does not necessarily require self-sacrifice at all, but I'll come back to this shortly.  First let me address the concept of "sacrifice."

The English word "sacrifice" derives from two Latin words "sacra" + "facere."  The literal meaning of "sacra facere" is "to make sacred, to set apart for consecration/dedication."  The underlying concept of the word to the people of Latium was one of propitiation, that there was some divinity who was angry with the people, or who might become so, and thus had to be appeased in order to avert his or her wrath.

By contrast, the Celts of Gallia had a word "adbertâ," which literally meant "to bring, carry, bear to or toward."  The Proto-Celtic root of this word survived into Old Irish as "idbart" (Modern Irish before the orthographic revision had it as "íodhbuirt," more recently as "íobairt," and Gaelic has "iobairt") and into modern Welsh as "aberth."  The Arch Druid Crommán mac Nessa argued that the worldviews reflected by these two conceptions are incompatible, that the Celts gave offerings as a manifestation of a survival among the Celtic peoples of the Proto-Indo-European conception of "reciprocal gift-giving," while the Italic peoples gave sacrifices out of fear;  mac Nessa further argued that this difference in outlook arose after the Italo-Celtic split, and the migration of the Italic peoples into what is now Italy, where the environment included dangers like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Rand went on to attack a straw man effigy of Altruism, insisting that the concept dictates that "any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil."  She further focused on Altruism as an ethic in itself, taken outside the context of any broader ethic in which it exists, as if it were its own self-contained system, a portrayal which is, to put it mildly, an unrealistic caricature.  While it is certainly true that the literal meaning of "Altruism" refers to "others" (from French "autrui" ["altrui" in Old French], meaning "of or to others," from Latin "alteri," the dative singular form of "alter," meaning "other"), I am unaware of any inherent concept of self-abnegation in the word.  Indeed, only in Zoology is the term defined in a manner which necessitates harm to self in order to benefit another.  While the Abrahamic tradition inculcates such masochism to some extent, the practice of charity is by no means exclusive to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, nor their relatives and offshoots (or "deviations," which is perhaps the least insulting way those who regard themselves as "orthodox" refer to such offshoots), nor even to religions which, like the Abrahamic tradition, teach a conception of self-abnegation (such as some forms of Eastern religions like Buddhism).

Indeed, the concept of charity or Altruism is inherent to the natural state of humanity in Tribe, nor is Tribalism reducible to "Collectivism" as Rand held;  Tribalism is Cooperativism.  While some things are indeed held in common by the Tribe as a whole, private property also exists in a Tribal economy.  The central concept of Tribalism as an economic system is not Communism, but Cooperative Commonwealth, the notion that the Tribe is the basic unit of society, and that individuals in order to share in the benefits of the Tribe must also contribute to the Tribe, with the council of Elders determining by custom later codified into law where to distribute the "renders" (taxes) and where to direct the cooperative work.  One who does not contribute to the Tribe, who takes without giving, is considered a "slacker," and, as Tacitus noted in Germania, persons who shirked their duties to the Tribe were one of three classes of criminal who warranted execution by being pressed into the mud of a bog under a wicker hurdle (the other two classes were cowards and the "disreputable of body," which some argue refers to "sodomites," but which mac Nessa asserted is a reference to child molesters;  the original text in chapter 12 reads:  ""... ignavos et imbelles et corpore infames caeno ac palude, iniecta insuper crate, mergunt. ..." which I translate as "the lazy ones, the cowardly ones, and those who are disreputable of body into the sludge of a bog, with a hurdle thrown over, they plunge").  Those who are disabled, elderly, or otherwise unable to contribute are not slackers or shirkers, but are to be provided for, as their inability is not the product of a choice to not contribute.

Rand anticipated this objection and dismissed the concept of society entirely in the first essay in her little book, claiming that "... there is no such entity as 'society,' since society is only a number of individual men."  She insisted on characterizing whatever group within society (whether it be the majority or some other group) settles questions as a "gang," choosing a word which she knew was loaded with negative emotive value.  She further dwelt on the concept of "values" and interpreted that in connection with an economic understanding of the term, leaving aside the more typical (in Philosophy) term "virtues," which would have been more for her to wrestle with in her posturing before her audience, getting to the word "virtue" only after having spewed ten or eleven pages of opinionated piffle focused on "value" in the sense of Economics, as "that which one works to gain and/or keep."  When she did finally get around to addressing the concept of "virtue," she did so in relation to "value" as she had defined it, offering a definition of "virtue" which I cannot recall having ever seen in any philosophical work (indeed, it turns on its head the Greek conception of ἀρετή, "aretê," which is "virtue" in the sense of "what enables function," as in, "the virtue of a knife," indicating its function or purpose, that quality which enables it to fulfill its function, which would be "sharpness" for most knives).  Her definition of "virtue" is:  "the act by which one gains and/or keeps it [value]."  The choice of the word "act" is revealing:  it exposes her ethic as some manifestation of Legalism, in spite of her frequent use of the term "principle" in her work.  A "principle" in Ethics is a guide, whereas a "law" in Ethics is a positive injunction to perform some (more or less specific) act or a negative prohibition to not perform some (more or less specific) act.  However, immediately upon defining "virtue" in this idiosyncratic manner, she departed from it to discuss "rationality" as "man's basic virtue."  Rationality is not an act, but a quality.  Ratiocination is an act, namely, the act of utilizing or exercising one's rationality.

The other two "virtues" which Rand gave were "productiveness" (a thinly-veiled allusion to the Calvinistic work ethic) and "pride," which she defined as "the recognition of the fact 'that as man must produce the physical values he needs to sustain his life, so he must acquire the values of character that make his life worth sustaining—that as man is a being of self-made wealth, so he is a being of self-made soul'."  This contention about "self-made wealth" (like the contention of some of her followers about "free choice") also ignored the facticity of human existence;  much of any given person's current situation exists as it does because of how things have been done in the past, such that some enter the world with advantages, while others enter the world in an already disadvantaged state, due in no small measure to the inequities arising through force having been used in the past to exploit their ancestors (this is not about "race," but is instead about Capitalism, Mercantilism, Feudalism, Colonialism, and Imperialism).  Corporate entities have expropriated wealth unto themselves, more often than not by means of unjust action.  To stop all social contract of "give and take" without having righted those wrongs first and then insist that "my property" or "my self-made wealth" is justification for anything one wishes to do in connection with said property is to ignore the causes of present circumstances and thereby perpetuate already extant injustice.  It is a pipe-dream no less unrealistically Utopian than Marxist Socialism which imagines that a dictatorship will pave the way for a "classless society."

She also claimed that Ethics has largely become based on subjective whim in recent centuries, but in fact, this is not the case.  The word "ethics" comes from Classical Greek "ethikos," which signifies "custom," and the earliest conceptions of Ethics and Law arose from social custom (she even pointed out that Aristotle "based his ethical system on observations of what the noble and wise men of his time chose to do," so she was aware of this fact, but chose to spin it into an attack upon Aristotle for neither seeking validation for these customs, nor asking why they existed).  Customs do not arise from an individual's "rational free choice," as in her individualist perspective (more recently re-branded as "voluntaryist"), nor from ephemeral fads of popularity (as she alleged were the sources of an ethic based on a conception of "the good of society"), but from the habits and traditions of the society in which the individual lives.  To cry about "free choice" (rational or otherwise) in such a context is to betray philosophical and social immaturity;  of course in certain societies, one's freedoms and liberties are greater than in others, but even in those, one yet has duties in the form of obligations and responsibilities:  one must obey the law.  While this is not an absolute (there are unjust laws which should be challenged in the courts, and some societies allow voice to individuals to petition for changes to laws, and/or to select representatives who can effect such changes), it is nevertheless part of the cost of social life;  society is not all "take," but is instead "give and take "  If one should refuse, through "free choice," to conform to such responsibilities and obligations, then that one is also necessarily giving "free choice" to accepting the consequences of such refusal.  "Libertas in legibus," is the saying, "Liberty under the laws."  It is Law which ensures Liberty against the "gang" (but, to point out that which should be obvious:  without Liberty, Law is mere oppression).

Rand attempted to dismiss the benefits of society as well, by asserting that "... everything man needs has to be discovered by his own mind and produced by his own effort."  On the contrary, when one lives in a society, one does not discover or produce all necessary things.  She even went so far as to claim that a person must learn everything himself or herself.  Nothing is further from the truth;  some things cannot be learned by experience or reason, but must be taught.  An example of her own offering is "the laws of Logic."  Logic is not, as I have already pointed out many times and in diverse places, mere common sense, but a discipline.  It requires study (of someone else's work) and practice.  In origin, Logic as a discipline was developed by observation, namely, by Aristotle observing the arguments of lawyers in court, which again required others.  Nor is there need for every individual to reinvent the wheel;  things already learned and produced do not have to be redone by each person;  progress (even of a technological sort) would be impossible in such a scheme, for there would be no learning from the work of one's predecessors.  She wrote:  "No percepts and no 'instincts' will tell him how to light a fire, how to weave cloth, how to forge tools, how to make a wheel, how to make an airplane, how to perform an appendectomy, how to produce an electric light bulb or an electronic tube or a cyclotron or a box of matches. Yet his life depends on such knowledge—and only a volitional act of his consciousness, a process of thought, can provide it."  On the contrary, "his life" depends on others.  One does not acquire such knowledge as "how to perform an appendectomy" by reason alone, but by being taught by experienced surgeons.  Nor would a person be able to perform such a surgery on himself or herself;  it must be done by another.  In all of these things, Rand ignored or intentionally glossed over the benefits of society in order to affirm the individual, and then presumed to go on to mock a straw man of the positions with which she disagreed by referring to "doctrines which tell you ... that ethics has nothing to do with reality, with existence, with one’s practical actions and concerns" after having ignored reality herself in her effort to justify her own ethic!

She later (later in the same essay, in fact, although much later, devoting less than a single page to the admission) contradicted herself on this, writing:  "Man is the only species that can transmit and expand his store of knowledge from generation to generation; the knowledge potentially available to man is greater than any one man could begin to acquire in his own life-span; every man gains an incalculable benefit from the knowledge discovered by others," and admitted that a person may benefit from living in a society, but refused to admit that such benefit must go hand in hand with cost, deriding as she did the needy as "Parasites, moochers, looters, brutes and thugs ... of no value to a human being ..."  Almost immediately after this passage, she discussed, briefly, political implications of her ethic, stating that its "basic political principle" is "No man may initiate the use of physical force against others," and expanded "man" to also include "group or society or government" (because here such an expansion was useful for her purpose, whereas she rejected the notion of such an expansion in other aspects of her essay, asserting instead the primacy of the individual).  Then she wrote, as one with any familiarity with her disciples' dogma might expect:  "The only proper, moral purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence—to protect his right to his own life, to his own liberty, to his own property and to the pursuit of his own happiness. Without property rights, no other rights are possible."  (Italics in original)  I have already addressed this conceit about "property" above as being divorced from the facticity of human existence and unrealistic.  Certainly private property should be a thing, but in order for an "Objectivist" paradise to be brought into existence, the playing field would have to be levelled first, and that is something to which "Objectivists" would never consent.  It would make no difference, however, for their "paradise" would be as ephemeral as attempts to establish such a society have already been in Honduras and Chile;  it would become a disaster just as it has in those nations.

Rand wrote (italics in original):

The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others—and, therefore, that man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. To live for his own sake means that the achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose.

I am not certain in what sense this could be described as "social," apart from the passive admonition against "sacrificing others."  As above, this also ignores the facticity of human existence and is likewise unrealistic.  One can claim to be an end unto oneself, but reality does not permit such a state of existence for a Human Being, apart from some person becoming a hermit and relying on none but himself or herself, and accepting the consequences of such a choice.  In that state of existence, all of one's "self-made wealth" becomes meaningless;  "wealth" has value only in the context of a society, where it can be used to purchase goods and services, to pay debts, and so on.  Again, what of one's children?  Does one have no ethical obligation to care for them, at times "sacrificing" one's own desires for their good?  Should they be birthed and then put into a trough set adrift on the currents of a river with the hope that they die in infancy or be rescued and raised by a she-wolf?  Indeed, the few mentions of "child," "children," "son," or "daughter" in the entire book are largely devoid of any ethical import or imperative, or used as an Argumentum ad Misericordiam against the faux-Socialism of the Soviet Union, and the few references to "family" seem to be mostly used as examples in discussion of negative concepts.  The astute reader would surely be left wondering if Ayn Rand hated children and lacked any capacity for affection.  This "Objectivist Ethic" is, far from rational as Rand attempted to characterize it, utterly preposterous!

Rand further mocked more recent philosophers of Ethics as "neomystics" for having, according to her, substituted "the good of society" in place of "the will of God" as the standard for Ethics, yet she did the same thing, by asserting, through the mouthpiece of her literary creation John Galt:  "It is only the concept of ‘Life’ that makes the concept of 'Value' possible."  If "the will of God" and "the good of society" be not rational bases for an ethical standard, then neither is her conception of "maintenance of the organism's life."  Her choice to assert that "the ultimate value ... is the organism's life" is no less subjective or arbitrary, and there can be times in which an organism will choose death over life, such as in cases of great agony, debilitating disease, imminent but slow death, and the like, or even to save another's life.  She attempted to justify her position by asserting that "Metaphysically, life is the only phenomenon that is an end in itself ..." yet this is such a ridiculous assertion even on its face that it cannot be taken seriously.  Life does not exist for itself;  life exists for some purpose, not merely its own perpetuation, since life is finite.  We who are philosophers of Ethics must find value for life, not merely in life itself.  Origen said that the purpose of life is to become a person.  Others might say that the purpose of life is pleasure, or happiness, or self-actualization, or the elimination of suffering, or any of a number of other goals, including the concept of social, political, and economic justice in a cooperative society in which people share and work together, with both rewards and costs.  Psychologists have found that Altruism, far from being self-abnegating, can be its own reward (see, for example:  Pay It Forward), that we are hard-wired for Empathy (see:  Darwin's Touch:  Survival of the Kindest), and that it takes more intelligence to cooperate than to be greedy (see:  Greed Is Good?).

Rand rightly rejected "the premise that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another," but wrongly denied that "rational self-interest" as she intended it does not mean a "right to sacrifice others," turning what she called an "assumption" that it does into an example of Abusive ad Hominem in which she attacked those who see her "rational self-interest" for what it is, as ethically bankrupt and intellectually deficient, going on to claim that the "Objectivist Ethic":

holds that the rational interests of men do not clash—that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value.

On the contrary, in her scheme, the individual owes nothing to society, but is free to benefit from society.  This is not "trade" as she went on to equate with the principle of Justice, but selfishness in the ordinary understanding of the term, as an unethical or immature quality.  She mocked the idea of wanting to have one's cake and eat it, too, yet this is exactly the outcome of her view:  to receive all the benefit but not pay the cost.

One who expects to receive the benefits of living in a society, whether it be a Tribe, a nation-state, or even a "nuclear" family, must be willing to contribute to that society as well, or be subject to some form of punishment, even if it be "only" expulsion or exile.  One must do one's part.  To behave otherwise is to be guilty of parasitism, and worthy of no better appellation than that of "leech."  Rand and her cohorts have loved applying the designation of "parasite" to those who advocate for or benefit from Altruism, and have insisted that parasites are not "individualists."  On the contrary, "individualists" in the sense she intended (influenced, perhaps, to some extent by Herbert Hoover's anti-labor euphemism for austerity and opposition to Solidarity, "Rugged Individualism") are the worst parasites of all.  Society is "give and take," not "take" alone.  "Give and take" is the very essence of any society, the contract between members of the society for mutual interdependence and cooperation for the common good.  Thus, in Rand's notion that a person might be virtuous and "selfish," by which she claims to mean the "values" of "self-esteem" and "rational self-interest," she overlooked the vice of non-action, insisting that a person may act in his or her own interest without harming anyone else, but she failed to take account of (indeed, she explicitly denied) the reality of society;  no person is an island unaffected by others, nor can one's action or lack thereof in a society always have no effect on others.  If you receive, you must also give, or go somewhere outside of society where you do not have to give, but also cannot receive.  This is a simple fact;  if you expect rights and privileges to be guaranteed by a society, then you must also submit to responsibilities and duties to a society.  The Human Being is a social animal and does not exist in a vacuum;  we form societies and agree to not only the rewards, but also the costs, of living in such societies.

There is much more to criticize in Rand's little book (and very, very little with which to agree);  I could, for example, address her odd claims about reason and consciousness and focus, which reflect a very modern Western concept and devaluation of the techniques of Mystics (indeed, she explicitly condemns Mysticism in the same work, on epistemological grounds, asserting that Reason alone is the justification for belief, which ignores the very real history of Rationalism, a school of thought in Epistemology which affirms Reason, but also Intuition [explained above] and Inspiration, as justification for belief;  she also condemns Mysticism as an ethic, falsely claiming, undoubtedly through limited knowledge or understanding, that Mysticism as ethic sets value "beyond the grave" and in a "supernatural dimension"), and while Mysticism has been a topic in this post, the post is not intended to be or become nothing but a critique of Ayn Rand's pseudo-philosophy.  Anyway, I am far more interested in what Friedrich Nietzsche had to say on the subject of compassion than what Ayn Rand had to say about anything, although I will disagree with some of his notions as well.  So much for Ayn Rand's irrational notions about Ethics.  Thus, we turn to "Compassion" and Nietzsche's view thereof.


21. Introversion vs Extroversion


22. Dionysianism vs Apollonianism (and Passion vs Ratiocination)


23. Self-Affirmation vs Self-Abnegation


24. Conceit vs Humiliation
Conceit vs Humiliation is a dimension which extends from unwarranted pride (conceit or arrogance) to humiliation (which is an extremely low self esteem).  In between are pride (which is to say, the virtue of warranted pride in one's achievements and the like) and humility.


25. Perception vs Judgement


26. Sensation vs Intuition
Sensation vs Intuition is related to that branch of Philosophy known as Epistemology (see above).  When philosophers consider the question of what is justification for belief, those who favor Empiricism assert that "Experience" is the only justification, while those who favor Rationalism say that "Reason" is the only justification.  These, however, are loaded terms.  By "Experience," the Empiricist intends "Sense Perception" primarily, and, as a corollary to that, "Experimentation and Observation."  By "Reason," the Rationalist intends "Deductive Logic and Mathematics" primarily, and, as a corollary to those, "Intuition and/or Inspiration."  The Empiricist's focus on Sensation and "the Empirical Method" is fairly self-explanatory.  The Rationalist's support of "Intuition," however, requires some elucidation.  Intuition is commonly thought of as referring to some sort of instinctive or perhaps even semi-magical understanding.  However, the term in reality refers to "immediate" understanding without conscious reasoning.  Having a "gut feeling" or "hunch" is not some sort of "psychic" phenomenon, but rather is a subconscious grasp of something based in part on things already learned.  While these two approaches have at times seemed to be irreconcilable, the Epistemological Pragmatist accepts both as justification for belief, realizing that some things can be demonstrated through the Empirical Method, but other things must be intuited or consciously reasoned;  the solution of mathematical problems is always done by means of reason or intuition.


27, Bellicosity vs Pacifism


28, Dominance vs Submission


29. Identity
Identity has to do with one's sense of self.  This sense may involve a number of factors, such as ethnicity, culture, gender identity, nationality, residence, voluntary association, and so on.  Identity is not inherently detrimental, but, depending on other factors (other dimensions of perspective), it can be perverted into a sort of "us vs them" mentality.  Both major parties in the United States use "identity politics" in various ways, which are mostly perversions of identity which either explicitly promote an "us vs them" mentality, or implicitly lead to such a divisive perspective.  In the former case, the pundits and ideologues promote the idea that "I am good, and therefore those who are 'like' me are also good, so therefore, those who are 'different' from me must be 'evil' in some sense."  In the latter case, a focus on Identity as "interest group" leads to various groups divided and in competition for attention to their concerns from political figures.  One can, however, maintain Identity without sacrificing Solidarity with others.  The oppressed should of course not abandon their cultures, their associations, and so on, but they should stand together and demand attention to ALL of their concerns from political figures.  It has been rightly said, "There is strength in numbers," but when we are all divided into our separate little interest groups, we're not standing together, and our strength is diminished.  This is also related to the dimension of "Cooperation vs Competition."


30. Cooperation vs Competition
Cooperation vs Competition has many intersections with other dimensions, such as the dimension of "Identity" just discussed.  Another dimensional intersection is with Compassion vs Selfishness, and another, which I would like to discuss a bit at this point, is with Economics.  "Free Market Capitalism" has as one of its ideals something sometimes called "Spontaneous Order," which has been expressed as "When individual rights are respected, unregulated competition will maximize economic benefit for society by providing the most goods and services possible at the lowest cost."  This ideal presupposes private ownership of the means of production, with the lion's share of net profit going to the owner.  While advocates of some forms of Socialism also espouse an idealization of competition, in a socialist economy at its most fundamental manifestation, the means of production are owned by those who do the work of production (a Cooperative Business).  This ideal of the producers owning and controlling the means of production is shared by advocates of some forms of Tribalism as well, particularly forms which look to Brehon Law for inspiration;  under Brehon Law, the Tribe owned the land on which the cattle graze, although portions were allotted to individual households by the system of Tanistry.  However, in such a tribalist economy, the various households of the Tribe cooperated with one another, rather than compete.  They were certainly free to compete with other Tribes, but within the Tribe, a sense of cooperation ruled the economy, such that, for example (keeping the agrarian setting, but moving the temporal factor to a modern-day setting), if I own a tractor and you have a bigger allotment of land than I, then I will come round and plough your field, and in return, you will give me some of the crop produced at the harvest.  This sort of cooperation is what kept rural communities from devolving into chaos during the early years of the Great Depression.  Tribalism in the modern sense, however, is not always primarily agrarian, and involves more than this basic form of cooperation, extending into Cooperative Associations and Cooperative Businesses in which, for example, a household or family might own a business and do so as a Cooperative (or "Co-op").


31. Geography/Environment
bowl

32. Education vs Ignorance


33. Time
Time in this context refers to age, longevity, and so on.  Those things affect your perspective.  If you live in a society where the average lifespan is only 30, you're going to look at things differently from someone in a society where the average lifespan is 85.  And with age, perspectives change.  What you found crucially important at age 14 is not so important to you now.

Time also refers in this context to one's temporal environment, which is to say, the age or era in which one lives.  Persons who lived in the Iron Age had perspectives which those living in the Information Age might find alien, and vice-versa.  In the same sense that one's spatial environment has an effect on one's outlook, so too does one's temporal environment.


BEYOND THE BEYOND

Even if we expanded to the full 193 dimensions of perspective which could be represented through the pentagonal dodecahedron, however, the picture would still be incomplete.  If we wanted a complete conception of the many dimensions of perspective, we would need to tesselate Euclidean space and go with a Schlegel diagram projecting a Platonic solid into four dimensions, something like this representation of an icositetrachoron:




but even such an approach could easily fail to account for a complete picture, and ... I'm not sadistic (or masochistic), so I'll stop with the 33 dimensional representation (at least for now).  The point to this is not to blow your mind, but to open it to seeing beyond the limited and limiting schemes which society promotes in the interests of perpetuating the status quo.  As noted in the quote from Shakespeare at the beginning of this discussion, reality is bigger than our biggest conceptions, and Socrates said "The unexamined life is not worth living."  Love wisdom and seek the truth, my friend, dream and analyze, make your way into the light and find the lost word.  I can only offer an imperfect map, but perhaps it will be of some help (and remember when emerging into the light for the first time to temper your experience by moving quickly into a penumbral light, to give your perception time to adjust).

If you would like to explore Geometry further, and apply its concepts to Worldview as I have done, this video may offer some keys:










The title of the post comes from Star Trek (The Original Series), Season 1, episode 12;  episode 12 overall;  production code 16.


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