Wednesday, January 11, 2006

And the headline read....Mannning cowardly backs out!

To vent and editorialize a bit, I must say this.

Why is it that some people expect others to follow implied rules of conduct that they have no intentions of following themselves. If I may be allowed to borrow an anecdote from Daniel Dennett...If you insist on playing tennis with the net lowered, why do you expect me to raise the net back up before returning your volleys. If you really wish to proclaim all is fair in as socially Darwinian stance then have to salt to stand by your convictions as a man, Mr Farrar. Have I somehow been unfair to you.....any more so than you were gratious enough to serve me?

It is not so much that I blame you for retreat. I would back out as well if my argument was found to be as weak as yours, but then, you didn't have to accept the challenge in the first place. I have never promised to be unreasonably polite for any reason. Any person who wishes may read back to the beginning of this argument to find the terms I agreed to abide by and I have not renigged on any point thus far. Have I censured anyone for dissent? Have I not argued my points in an intellectual, and objective manner wherever, whenever possible? The mere fact that I have a subjective opinion makes me human, not a tyrant.

So let us review where your unrefutable proof stands so far that Rousseau was indeed one of those subversive Socialist types. Oh wait, you have as yet to produce anything other than you just didn't care for the man and the lifestyle choices he made in his lifetime. I believe the only other constructive criticism of the Social Contract as an historical document is that you, once again personally opinionated, felt that this work was entirely too utopian to ever succeed to overthrow Capitalism which you didn't necessarily care for unless I was arguing against the wonderful benefits of man in competition with his fellow man for resources that would not be scarce if we were to work cooperatively to begin with.

Of course, Capitalism and the Protestant work ethic that fostered it in all its glory and shamefullness, is the crux of the great chasm that has divided our cooperation in any sort of meaningful debate. This is the one thing that has reduced us both to kicking and clawing in the end. It has been my experience in life that everyone, no matter how cnetered they feel about themselves, no matter how objective they think they are, has ideologies and a picture of a world perfected. Mess with that worldview and you are certainly stirring up a recipe for conflict, but should we avoid conflict or meet it head-on; or are there other viable alternatives that I am overlooking? This is the question of the hour indeed. This is indeed the question of the age from an American perspective as well. How far is too far to encroach upon our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights in the name of national security? What should we be expected to willfully give up in return for a promise to our personal safety? To what lengths sould the average citizen practice civil disobedience to a system that is broken? And who decides when this system is broken and by whom? How do we confront the things that we fear? Or do we? Why or why not?

Surely I sit here and propose these questions rhetorically, not hoping in vain for some kind of answer. At the end of the day we are only men and our small stature means exactly dick to those who control the real world. Or perhaps I see things in a different light after all. Perhaps utopian dreams are the light that guide us on the dark landscapes that tire our legs and cut our feet along the way. Just because I speak a question in the form of rhetoric does not relegate the question to the unanswerable realm, it means we seriously need to discuss all discernable pros and cons and make a best choice decision based on all the facts.

But alas, my friend, my chief interlocutor has found my opinion offensive and no longer wishes to engage in our little shouting matches any longer.

Oh well.........NEXT???!!


Blogger Again said...

fine, jasonj, to see you posting again

even when i have hard times to understand philosophy in a foreign language, i like your style of phrasing ;-)

It is not so much that I blame you for retreat. I would back out as well if my argument was found to be as weak as yours, but then, you didn't have to accept the challenge in the first place.

AFAIK, mannning is an old guy with a long life as "good patriot"

that reminds me of my mother, a good catholic, who would never admit to have done anything wrong regarding her faith and his "duties": she couldn't learn like a man because she had to serve her father as housemaid, she took the wrong man, because a catholic has to have children and there was no other man left, she didn't get divorced because catholics don't do that - since in the end the catholic priest himself begged her to care for her children and to leave that man

but did she do anything wrong as catholic? Never - because if she would admit it, her whole life would be nothing else than a lie, a stupid, masochistic lie

mannning may be in the same situation - he told us to have been a "good patriot" working for Uncle Sam, as far as i remember even in the military. The american military is well know to brainwash its soldiers. War or undercover costs your soul - often, too often you have to pay a hard price for being a "good patriot" (a german speaking ;-) )

to admit you were wrong - is impossible, as it is impossible for my mother

but mannning isn't that sure as he tells us. Why?

but then, you didn't have to accept the challenge in the first place.

because he stayed here with you, jasonj - the most philosophically writing person at warblogging. That's why i guess that he ponders about life and death and the universe...

and that he doubts - and may have to silence those thoughts...

and that's why he MUST convince you that he was right and he MUST NOT admit, that you may, only may be correct in your attitude towards human responsibility for each others

he surely often didn't act responsible for other people, especially when they are not "good Americans", actually i remember he was proud to be "strong" against others, and strength means to defeat others - so it's highly probable that he did do many cruel things, mentally or even physically

to admit this would support his doubts - and would attack his whole life, i guess

just my two cents ;-)

but should we avoid conflict or meet it head-on; or are there other viable alternatives that I am overlooking?

the alternative you tried together with mannning was a communication to find a compromise agreeable for both sides, wasn't it?

regarding conflict or fight: i guess we should copy Mother Nature again: As long as someone doesn't reach your "inner circle" try to avoid conflict, but when he insists on intruding into your stomping ground, defend yourself.

It's your duty to stay free because only when you're free you are able to follow your convictions

Thu Jan 12, 10:12:00 AM CST  
Blogger JasonJ said...

Gee, I'm almost blushing....

Sadly, we are confronted with a growing trend of two Americas. It is of course no easy task retracing the steps as to how this has occured. I have spent too much time lately trying, so I speak from experience. There is an answer; but of course, it is not short and sweet. The point is that there is an honest barrier to open communication in our society and that rift is ever widening. I think it is important to note that even the likes of Tocqueville was aware of the dangers that priviledge placed in a civil society. Certainly we can see strong warnings against the same in Rousseau as well, although not so much in Social Contract as in the Origins of Inequality. Ultimately it does all boil down to the abstract term of money. I think Manning had the wrong idea about me and my personal finacial situation. I think he viewed me as impoverished and angry about it. I suppose I never openly refuted such ideas either, but at the time I felt it irrelevant. I merely use this as a jumping off point. Whether we like it or not, money is what defines happiness and success in our America. It is the sole determining factor in the general opinion that society judges the individual by. UT and I had a long discussion about it one night on Warblogging, but to surmise what I said there:

We, as a people, are judged by the same yardstick- the depths of our pockets- in which a wealthy thief or drug dealer can find a higher place of esteam than a school teacher. While corrupt CEO's are capable of making millions of dollars a year, our best University professors cannot hope for even a small fraction of that. Why? The answer stems from our culture of consumption. More on this momentarily, but back to the yardstick. While we are all equally judged by the success of our bank deposits, we are falsely lead to believe that we have an equal opportunity to acheive the desired goals of a wife, 2.3 kids, the house, picket fence, dog named Spot, etc. This is a fundamental doctrine we are all taught in elementary school. This doctrine is however more sophism than utopian philosophy. Capitalism does not allow an equal starting point to all participants in the game. For one thing, there has never been a point where all men began their quest for fame and fortune at the same level. The game of life is not like the Parker Brothers game 'Monopoly' where everyone starts out with x amount of dollars and no one owns anything, while each player is left to his own devices to defeat his opponents. Although, all other things considered, it is an amazing metaphor for Capitalism in every other respect. But please forgive my digression here and back to the point. While the goal is always the same get rich and defeat your 'opponents', the means are less than available in equal shares to all participants creating a dissonance in the population that is deemed unsuccessful by the societal norm we call success. The results are just what one would expect given the level of frustration created by trying hard to meet the norm head on by traditional means and coming up short. This population is led to believe they are inferior, not as bright or capable, abused by the system, marginalized, and untrusting of that very system. In a society where above all winning is only goal and the means are open to interpretation, where it is OK for Millionaire CEO's to sleight the public, where politicians on the take are the butt of jokes and not imprisoned, it is no wonder that the marginalized see deviant methods of goal attainment as viable alternatives when all else fails.

But what does all this mean? Why would I suddenly have an outburst of calling Mr Farrar a Toadie, a corporate sycophant? I can see where he would assume I was an underpriviledged wage earner who was lashing out at the authority figure in my world. Unfortunately for him, this assumption is not entirely correct. While it is true I am indeed a skilled laborer, I make a good solid living and support my family pretty well off those labors. I work for a company that respects me as a man and a human being, and in general live a satisfying existence. It wasn't always that way but it is the truth at this juncture of my life. This does not however change my opinion of the entire system and it does not excuse this man fron selling weapons to children in third-world countries to kill one another so that corporate America can install puppet regimes as they have all over Latin America and all over the Middle East in order to create just enough chaos to remain under the radar. I have never minced words here. I do not have to apologize to anyone for having the convictions I have. Those so-called christians who support such efforts and claim it is God's way, and God helps those who help themselves are the one who need to apologize to all of humanity. It is one thing to sit around and whine about this paltry life and say that someday God will have his rapture and vindicate all this sorrow and pain instead of doing something proactive to prevent or stop it yourself; but it is something completely different when you profess this outdated belief system and then practice Social Darwinism and then tell the world that Darwin was a liar and an instrument of the Devil and the only 'truth' that should be taught is Mosaic Creationism as translated in the King James edition of the Bible. Or at least that if we must compromise then it should be seriously given equal face time before the reviewers of science. I find it interesting that the same voices I keep hearing say that this is the world that God created and we should throw out the outlandish views of Darwin and Spencer are the same voices praising Capitalism as the only true path to salvation. How is it that a system based loosely on 'survival of the fittest' whatever that means any different than Darwin's natural selection. We would suppose that the best and brightest will survive, eat and procreate. Of course, I may not totally disagree with this argument on that merit alone, but as always the correct answer is much more complicated than that. Social Darwinism is a bad idea. It was a bad idea when Hitler tried it and it is still a bad idea today. What separates us from the rest of the animal pack is our minds. Whether we think of them as residing in our brains or we think of them as part of an eternal soul that lives on when our body gives out, we live in a world where cultural evolution has done far more, far faster than nature could ever have done. For those who believe in a God as creator, there is no reason you must assume any type of evolution. You may remain as closed minded as you undoubtedly will; but for those who believe that we are an evolving species of animal understand that we are a social creature. This nature has been bred into successive generations of our species for long enough to render man helpless alone in the wild should he find a place to indeed be alone in our world. It is so ingrained in our persons that isolation tends to produce psychosis that can only be remedied by human contact. But once again, I digress. My point is that the system of Capitalism is parasitic in nature. To be successful, one must defeat one's fellow man in a race to hoard as many resources as he can get his hands on without returning these resources to the collective pool, or in other words absorb more resources than one can consume. This drives an artificial scarcity of resources that must further drive competition for these scarce resources. Hence the culture of consumption; but the problem is that while all species compete for scarce resources, we alone are able to recognise and manipulate our environment to the point where the only reasons for scarcity of basic needs is artificially created. And following the Darwinian line of reasoning, if an organism or species is unsuccessful in this competition then the organism or species dies and is replaced with one that can adapt to the situation. Where I see the problem lying is that many successful species manage to strike a balance with nature. There is neither excess give or take from the resource pool. Taking too much creates scarcity and the species dies. Taking too little, ie not being reproductive enough, leads to stagnation and weakness by rivals for common resources and the species dies. We are a parasitic lot, we take and take and take without giving. We have learned the secret of the atom, we have learned to husband animals and harvest crops for food and we have been wildly successful and learning good tricks for extending the life expectancy of the individual organisms. The planet keeps throwing us plagues and viruses and we keep finding ways to surpass them so we can do many things that are beneficial to mankind. We just need to learn how to live together in the small space we are given or like so many, the bulk of, species before us we will become prematurely extinct.

So this is the compact version of my problem with Mannning and his ilk. Should I wish things to have gone better in our discussions?? Kind of irrelevant at this point. I hate the thought of winning an argument by default but this man definitely did not prove to me or anyone else in the world who reads the bulk of our discussion that Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Socialist and I'm pretty sure that he swayed no one that Socialism is intrinsically bad if they were not already of that persuasion. I will still go on posting Rousseau here and comment to clarify what he means and what the implications are to our world as time permits. I am not always faithful posting on a regular basis. I get too involved reading other things which tend to snowball into other subjects of personal interest that lead to other areas of research, it's all a vicious circle to guys like me. So be patient, and it is my sincere hope that someone will come along with intelligent challenges to my interpretations or Rousseau's ideas in the name of intellectual growth and shared understanding. I thought my former opponent was up to the task, too bad he lacked the stamina to take it further.

Thanks for the comment Again

Sat Jan 14, 06:28:00 PM CST  
Blogger Again said...

Thanks for the comment Again

much more thanks for the reply - you don't give me any chance to discuss ;-)

because nothing to contradict or add - that's exactly what i want to try to say in "The Frog and the Boiling Pot" using the term "Pavlov Reflex" to describe the conditioning of common people into obedience, so i store your comment to have expressions and wordings to look for ;-)

regarding the inconsequent behavior of believers - you know i'm with you again: Faith is the true original sin of a formerly intelligent race, wonderfully described by the myth of Evil Eve, who just want to understand by reaching for the "apple of knowledge"

only Rousseau is something i can't really grasp - there is something in his explanations which disturbes me, i guess, it's not "programmable" enough - and sometimes i feel as if he is to eager to believe in leadership - and what i've learned from information and history is, that you need deciders, but always have to beware of the leaders

Sun Jan 15, 07:33:00 AM CST  

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