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Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?Views: 543
Nov 08, 2009 8:27 pmPolitical Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?#

John Stephen Veitch
On the Innovation Network Thomas Holford wrote two significant posts I'd like to replay here.

We start with a question Lamar Morgan asked:
>"What does it mean for humanity to be infected with solipsism and megalomania? You lost me with those big words."

Thomas Holford continues:
Excellent question.

I have spent a great deal of my adult life trying to unravel the really, really fundamental issues that distinguish between "the left" and "the right".

It's always been remarkable that almost all leftists tend to believe in the same set of issues (unions, welfare, environmentalism, big government, etc, etc.) and all "rightists" tend to believe in THEIR set of issues (property rights, gun rights, self-reliance, personal responsibility, etc., etc.).

What explains this?

I think the difference goes back at least as far as the ancient Greek philosphers. The underlying issue is virtually the same issue that Socrates was debating with the Sophists, which included among others the philospher Gorgias.

In a nutshell, Socrates believed their was some ulimate "truth" and "virtue" which he sought to discover through dialogue and asking questions. Implicitly, Socrates believed in an external objective reality.

The Sophists believed, essentially, that people were only able to know "reality" from what their senses told them. As a practical matter, if a person didn't learn anything through their senses, it didn't exist for that person.

Hence, different people had different "realities", and their was no common "external objective reality".

Solipsism comes from the latin words "sole ipsum", which means "only oneself". It refers to the belief or perception that a person is the only intelligent being in the universe, and everyone and everything else are just perceptions.

A corollary to the denial of external objective reality is "nihilism", or the belief in nothingness, beyond the self. The nihilist believes that after he is dead and gone, there is . . . nothing.

What contemporary leftists believe, in my opinion, has a philosophical pedigree that goes all the way back to the Sophists and their "nihilism".

Throughout history, succeeding generations of philosphers have built on the sophist's ideas of nihilism and embellished them and refined them in various ways.

Rene Descartes famously said: "I think, therefore I am".

Conversely, if Descartes is NOT thinking, i.e. dead, he is no more, and there is no external objective reality.

Nietszche, Hegel, Engles, Marx and others have all expressed ideas that can be characterized as "nihilist".

The logical extension of "nihilism" is "narcissism", obsessive love and admiration of the self, based on the belief that the self is the only intelligent being that exists. And from "narcissism" it is only a short step to "megalomania": the belief that oneself is the greatest, smartest being in existence AND is entitled to absolute authority and control over all other beings. If one believes that other beings are just cartoon images projected by your senses onto the inside of your skull, than you can manipulate those images anyway you want for your own benefit and pleasure. There is no such thing as "morality".

The philosphy of Socrates goes down an entirely different path. There IS and external objective reality. It IS populated with independent beings that have a separate existence. The external independent beings have FREE WILL. And in a world with external independent beings having free will, the formula for harmonious world really boils down to: The Golden Rule.

"Do Unto Others as You Would Have them do unto you"

And if you think about it, the Golden Rule is the underlying ethic of the market system and of capitalism, which assumes that people have free will and can independently make decisions on economic transactions that improve their satisfaction and well being.

Long winded, but not easy to say concisely since people have so many wrong headed notions in their skulls.

T. Holford

******************
Lamar Morgan also Liked that post.
That led him to ask.

"Is there anything that can be done to educate the progressive liberals who are apparently so misguided that they would willingly attempt to save a species of fish and at the same time deny dry land in California water. What has happened to the world's sense of sanity? Did it never have it?"

************
To which Thomas Holford wrote:
This was the core question that I set out to answer when I tried to understand the different realities of "the left" and "the right" (or the Sophists and the Socrateseans).

My conclusion is that "progressive liberals" will likely never change because they live in a closed reality inside of their heads.

Their philosophy results in their psychology, and their psychology is narcissism.

Everyone has some degree of self awareness, but extreme narcissism is formally recognized as a psychiatric pathology known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

There are two very troubling of aspects of Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

1. It can be induced in people, typically by difficult childhood environments or experiences like parental abandonment, divorce, alcoholism, etc.

2. It is virtually incurable. There is no reliable way known to recover a pathological narcissist once they go over the edge. Once a narcissist, always a narcissist.

The narcissistic reality built into the heads of people with NPD essentially makes them uneducable. They perceive that they are "the smartest person in the room", and therefore, no one is going to tell them anything IMPORTANT that they don't already know or need to know.

The way that narcissism works is that narcissistic people need a source of what is called "narcissistic supply". In other words, they need to surround themselves with people who will continually remind them of how wonderful they are. People who decline to be enablers or sycophants for narcissists inevitably find themselves ignored or excluded.

People who actively seek to diminish or undermine the narcissist's grandiose self-image often find themselves the objects of active hostility from the narcissist.

The modern liberal culture supports and reinforces the society wide tendency to greater and greater narcissism. Think of "self-esteem" programs in the schools. Think of "American Idol". Think of Oprah and her daily parade of pathetic, blubbering victims. Me! Me! Me! It's all about me.

Sadly, we live in culture of narcissism. "Progressive liberalism" is a political ideology that panders to, fosters and exploits narcissism.

Neither are going to go away.
The only response I can think of is to:
A: ) Recognize narcissism as real, intractable, and closely interwined with liberal politics.

B:) Call it out and expose it in all its multiplicity of forms, and all of its shallow pretension.

As Rush Limbaugh says: "We don't want to get along with liberals; we want to defeat them."

End of rant.
T. Holford

John Stephen Veitch; The Network Ambassador
Open Future Limited - http://www.openfuture.co.nz/
Innovation Network - http://veech-network.ryze.com/
Building an Open Future - http://openfuture-network.ryze.com/

Private Reply to John Stephen Veitch

Nov 08, 2009 11:43 pmre: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?#

John Stephen Veitch
Assuming Thomas Holford Accepts the post above, there are many things I want to discuss in terms of Building an Open Future.

Like Thomas I've been interested in the "left" and "right" of politics for a long time. While Thomas has been interested in finding the root difference between the thinkers of the "left" and the "right", I've been concerned that those terms are outdated and that they serve only to keep the political debate trapped in the past and unable to talk about relevant issues.

The first past the post (winner takes all) voting process in the USA, reinforces the two party structure. That may seem to give weight to Thomas's argument.

I came to politics out of education and environmental issues. Certainly here in New Zealand, there is community consensus about the importance of both those issues. eg. Lots of community groups and every political party in New Zealand supports the idea of quality education. For 90% of the time, when dealing with these issues, the discussion was practical and focused in the issue at hand and concepts of "left" and "right" were irrelevant.

As I've got older, that idea has been reinforced. For instance, with our Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, we now have eight political parties in the house. While many old style politicians and the news media still try to classify the parties from left to right, what actually happens in the house often makes a nonsense of that idea. Political parties have learned (the hard way) not to paint other parties and other people into corners. Today when the topic is criminal justice, the old "left" and "right" system might seem to be fully functional. But tomorrow when the topic is the law of the sea, or fishing rights, unlikely people (thinking the old way) may find they are committed to the same cause.

So here in NZ, politicians are pretty careful about who that call "black". Tomorrow you might need the support of that "black" guy to get something done. If you foolishly burned the bridge between you, that may be impossible.

As I see politics in the USA, the terms "left" and "right" are also meaningless. Both the Democrats and Republicans are absolutely "RIGHT", when compared with political parties anywhere else in the world. I guess the Republican Party would claim to be "even more "right"".

But that's a nonsense too. What it means to be a Democrat or a Republican changes in different parts of the country.

As I see it both parties are corrupted to the core by the need to fund their activities. There are no fundamental principles in either camp that can't be bought. Both parties are focused of "real politics" the art of the deal, doing what's possible given the awful set of choices possible.

I do want to talk about Thomas's point of view above. But in another post.

John Stephen Veitch; The Network Ambassador
Open Future Limited - http://www.openfuture.co.nz/
Innovation Network - http://veech-network.ryze.com/
Building an Open Future - http://openfuture-network.ryze.com/

Private Reply to John Stephen Veitch

Nov 12, 2009 12:14 amre: re: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?#

John Stephen Veitch
OK

I don't have much time left now.

I've begun to build a wiki on this topic. Can I ask you all to take a look and edit it in any way you choose.

Let us try to agree about what we are talking about before we proceed.

Here's the wiki page.

http://buildinganopenfuture.wikispaces.com/Political+Labels

John Stephen Veitch; The Network Ambassador
Open Future Limited - http://www.openfuture.co.nz/
Innovation Network - http://veech-network.ryze.com/
Building an Open Future - http://openfuture-network.ryze.com/

Private Reply to John Stephen Veitch

Nov 12, 2009 2:45 amre: re: re: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?#

Thomas Holford
> I don't have much time left now.

I don't have a lot of time to spend on this right now either.

A quick look tells me that there is definitely some refinement required.

First observation:

'sophism:
Historical meaning: In Ancient Greece, the sophists were a group of teachers of philosophy and rhetoric. A class of itinerant intellectuals who taught causes in "excellence" or "virtue".'

I need to recheck my source, but I don't think this is accurate. Socrates was trying to discover the answers to the questions: "what is truth", "what is virtue".

The sophists were teachers-for-hire who taught rhetoric. They were (ultimately) famous/notorious for being agnostic about "truth". Their claimed expertise was how to make "the weaker argument appear the stronger".


T. Holford

Private Reply to Thomas Holford

Nov 18, 2009 12:45 amre: re: re: re: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?#

John Stephen Veitch
Hello Thomas

You are quite correct.

The sophists were (ultimately) famous/notorious for being agnostic about "truth". Their claimed expertise was how to make "the weaker argument appear the stronger".

They became the first professional lawyers. Their skill in building apparently strong cases out of nothing led to disrepute in the public mind. Hence the modern meaning of the world sophism.

Thomas and anyone else who's interested: Join the Wiki.
http://buildinganopenfuture.wikispaces.com/Political+Labels
Edit anything that needs to be changed.

John Stephen Veitch; The Network Ambassador
Open Future Limited - http://www.openfuture.co.nz/
Innovation Network - http://veech-network.ryze.com/
Building an Open Future - http://openfuture-network.ryze.com/

Private Reply to John Stephen Veitch

Nov 27, 2009 6:55 amre: re: re: re: re: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?#

Lamar Morgan 954-603-7901

John,

Did I ever bother to say I am a registered Republican? Well, if not, I want you to know that I am. I believe in traditional family values. I believe that human life is sacred and begins at conception. Therefore, I am most definitely pro-life and anti-abortion. I also believe in small government - not a bloated bureaucracy. I believe the solution to America's financial problems lies in private enterprise and innovation - not is government hand-outs that mortgages the lives of people who have yet to be born. But, do all Republicans believe as I do? I seriously doubt it.

Now, I have two videos I want you to watch. You only have to go one place to see both videos. After all, they are related. I want you to see how a carrotmob works. Where you are a "greenee" or not, you have to appreciate what these folks have done. They have garnered the help of people who figure out that helping someone else to actually help someone else make good sense. Please see how this system works, try it and comment. Here's the link - Carrotmob.

Lamar Morgan
CDMM - Synergistic Business Marketing
(707)709-8605
Need PR?...Call Lamar!

Private Reply to Lamar Morgan 954-603-7901

Nov 27, 2009 9:22 amre: re: re: re: re: re: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear wor#

John Stephen Veitch
Hello Lamar

It's not hard from your many posts to understand that you support the Republican Party. (Although give that the Republican Party have all but destroyed the USA, it's hard to imagine why you still feel that way.)

Not that it might have made much difference, "Republican Light" the Democrats are subject to the same paymaster and probably would have done similar foolish things, given that they have the SAME incentives.

Which brings us to the carrot mob. That's about incentives. Can we change the incentive structure so that business wants to create a sustainable world? I certainly hope so, but I think not.

I've got a training in economics. For economists PRICES drive everything. Right now that price of environmental destruction is TOO CHEAP. In fact, the best and easiest way to make a profit is often to extract the value out of some resource and care nothing for the environmental or social result.

Proper regulation, and proper taxation systems, working hand in hand are essential to make that work. It can't be done by consumer groups.

And so to Copenhagen. We need a way to create BINDING agreements. But it's in everyone's interest to have a binding agreement that applies to everyone else but NOT TO ME. Since that is the attitude of the USA and Australia (USA light.) There can be no effective agreement.

So there will be no effective limits on CO2 production. All the glaciers in the USA will disappear and there will be no summer water in California's rivers. You make your choices and you pay the price. Cause and effect they call it.

I'm an environmentalist from 50 years back. When I was at high school I was asked to study a running stream. There was one 100 metres from our house, running down the valley to the ocean. But is was an industrial valley. Woollen mills, concrete plants, fertilizer production, a cement works, timber processing. The only living thing I could find in the water were tiny round worms in the mud. No plant life within 15cm of the water level. No grasses or reeds growing out of the water. No insect life associated with the water. No fish or flies or bugs - nothing. Yes this is "clean green New Zealand" I'm talking about.

Environmental policy will NOT change the what happens, although it can help. We MUST change the way the ECONOMY works. That means, proper rules, proper taxation, proper enforcement of both the taxation and the rules. The requires proper GOVERNMENT, and proper government doesn't exist anywhere in the world to my knowledge.

John Stephen Veitch; The Network Ambassador
Open Future Limited - http://www.openfuture.co.nz/
Innovation Network - http://veech-network.ryze.com/
Building an Open Future - http://openfuture-network.ryze.com/

Private Reply to John Stephen Veitch

Nov 27, 2009 5:50 pmre: re: re: re: re: re: re: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear#

Ken Hilving
The original question was whether political labels were meaningful or simply swear words.

Reading the posts, I would have to conclude they are MEANINGFUL SWEAR words. Every post has responded to political labels above other aspects of any issue.

If the goal is to pick a fight, these labels also become useful. Properly used, they can generate self righteous anger that gets the adrenalin flowing and the heart pounding. Properly applied, they have the same effect as a push among school children.

Seems to me, the political labels are most useful when not used. We might accomplish amazing things without them.

Private Reply to Ken Hilving

Nov 27, 2009 6:03 pmre: re: re: re: re: re: re: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear#

Thomas Holford
John Stephen Veitch sayeth:

> Hello Lamar

> It's not hard from your many posts to understand that you support the Republican Party. (Although give that the Republican Party have all but destroyed the USA, it's hard to imagine why you still feel that way.)


John! John! John!

This illustrates PERFECTLY the differing perspectives between a Sophist and a person with a Socratic perspective.

The Sophist lives inside of his or her own head, and believes that his or her perceptions define "reality".

"It's hard to imagine why you still feel that way."

The Sophist, in fact, CAN'T imagine why anyone else feels anything about anything, because anyone and everyone else are mere images inside the Sophist's skull.

A Socratic, in contrast, would engage in dialogue with others in the world of external reality and ask questions to discover "truth":

"What is a Republican"? "What do Republicans believe"? "Why do they believe it"? "What do Republicans accept as "true"? "What do Republicans regard as "virtue"?

etc., etc.

Political labels may or may not be meaningful. Sophists invest enormous energy in "making the weak argument appear stonger" and one of the Sophists techniques is to undermine and distort the meaning of words and labels.

In contrast, basic philosophical concepts and elemental language may be our best hope of achieving a "meaningful" understanding of reality and society.

T. Holford

Private Reply to Thomas Holford

Dec 12, 2009 6:12 pmre: Political Labels: Are they meaningful - Or are they just political swear words?#

James Booth
.
What is "fundamental" about "the left" and / or "the right" ?

It was said above:

"... almost all leftists tend to believe in the same set of issues (unions, welfare,
environmentalism, big government, etc, etc.) and all "rightists" tend to believe in
THEIR set of issues (property rights, gun rights, self-reliance, personal responsi-
bility, etc., etc.)."

Is that true, or is that what we s'pose ta believe ?


Attempt was made to support that "difference" by reducing it to *Sophists* vs. *Socratic*

sophist : 1 : philosopher
2 capitalized : any of a class of ancient Greek teachers of rhetoric, philosophy,
and the art of successful living prominent about the middle of the fifth century b.c.
for their adroit subtle and allegedly often specious reasoning
3 : a captious or fallacious reasoner


socratic : of or relating to Socrates, his followers, or his philosophical method of
systematic doubt and questioning of another to elicit a clear expression of a truth
supposed to be knowable by all rational beings


In other words, a belief that some ultimate "truth" was "knowable" as opposed to there being "no ultimate truth"

At least that is how I understand the argument posed above.

Yet I continue to ask whether any one of us can truly be "pinned" to one "position" or the other.

How is it possible for anyone to think that human belief, understanding, action, or / or thinking can be so PURE ?

Granted, there may be, and probably IS, such a *pure* position to be had, but who among us has achieved such perfection as to be able to live in that place consistently and so perfectly ?

Or are we all some combination of the two "positions" - existing somewhere between them, changing as we grow, as we learn and experience differences with which we, as unique beings, naturally confront each other; our beliefs solidifying and dissolving according to our alliances and experience ?

What "absolute authority and control over all other beings" does it require to say to another being, "You are wrong" ?

If "people have free will and can independently make decisions on economic transactions that improve their satisfaction and well being" then why is what another man believes exists "beyond the grave" of importance while transacting in real time, in the here and now, to meet one's needs ?


That Rene Descartes said "I think, therefore I am," to me does not mean that he thinks himself dead if he is not thinking, but that thinking allows him awareness of his own BEING

... but then, I am only guessing.

May be I did not know Descartes as well as another man did.

If "nihilism" is "narcissism" (obsessive love and admiration of the self, based on the belief that the self is the only intelligent being that exists), why, I wonder, would someone who apparently can see human beings as only "either / or" not see himself as a *nihilist* or as *narcissist* according to his own definition ?

Who among us is so godlike as to know precisely what lies in the heart or mind of another man ?

Experiencing reality as we do, we are quite aware how often we mistake the smiling face for a "good man" and vice versa.

Just look how often we elect the "smiling face" to public office !


So, the Socratic philosophy supposedly "boils down to: The Golden Rule."

"Do Unto Others as You Would Have them do unto you"

At least that seems to be what I am to take away from that argument.

Apparently it is assumed that we all want to be "put in our place" - labelled - to have our differences pointed out to us (so that we will not forget them?) - to be at war with each other for the differences other individuals assign to us, people who do not take time to get to know us as individuals.

In other words, an assumption that "I am right and you are wrong" no matter where you or I "stand"

Do I understand all this correctly ?


JB

Private Reply to James Booth

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