Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Ego is an Egg

How can people of diverse backgrounds harmoniously live together? In the same way that people of similar backgrounds can harmoniously live together.

The obstacle to harmoniously living together isn’t the diverse backgrounds part. It is the living together part. When people of a similar background live together (in a family or a house or a city or a country), inevitably they too find reasons for disagreement, for disharmony.

If Christians and Muslims and Atheists aren’t able to live together in peace, it is no help to simply separate the groups. For a group consists only of Christians or Muslims or Atheists, inevitably what will surface are disagreements about what means to be Christian or Muslim or an Atheists.

Or an American or an Indian or Brazilian. Or a democrat or a republican or a communist.

The appeal of the bogeyman they, those others who are causing the disharmony (by they immigrants, or the alt right, or the Muslims, or the rich, or the communists, etc.) is that it covers over the internal disagreements of a group. In the face of the they, we and us acquires a shiny, harmonious facade. As in: we are alright, we are good to each other and get along and live in harmony; the trouble only begins with them, their arrival, their interference in our lives.

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The Oppressor and the Oppressed

Is the relation between Trump and Russia a mystery? In one sense, it is perfectly clear. But we as a society are afriad to talk about it openly. Even Trump seems afraid to talk openly about what he is thinking about Russia. As if his mind and actions have followed the dots, but he is hesistent to speak up about where the dots are leading.

The progressive framework of the 20th century depends on a contrast, between the opressor identity and the opressed identities.

When colonialism and segregation were true, for the first 2/3 of the 20th century, the oppressor identity was, blunty put, the white man. More generally, white culture traced to European culture of colonialism. And the oppressed identities were all the peoples who were colonized, people from Africa, Asia, Latin America. As well as white people within European and American culture who were deemed back then less than the typical white male: women, jews, gays, the disabled, and so on. Call this the white opressor framework.

In the last 50 years this white opressor framework has seeped into education, popular culture, and the government. Not that white privilege has been eradicated. But the idea that there has been white, male privilege until mid 20th century has become more and more accepted.

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The Political Question of Our Time

Is democracy in trouble in America? Yes. And in a way, that is a good thing.

No, I haven’t become a fascist. But there is a kind of democracy that America has had since its inception 240 years ago which is ending. That is a good thing. The question is: what will take its place?

The declaration of independence from 1776 reads:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

And yet, when this declaration was affirmed, “the consent of the governed” was not applied to women or African-Americans. The declaration was even seen to be compatible with slavery. How could “all men are created equal” be compatible with slavery?

It is entirely natural if one sees blacks or women as unequal to white men. “All men are created equal” then means, as it was originally intended to mean: All men of a certain culture, education, class; namely, men like us writing this declaration, men like the British King or men like the Enlightenment thinkers, European men of standing.

So the way the founding fathers read “All men are created equal” was: “All people who are created equal as the most rational humans (who happen to be European men who are educated, cultured…) are endowed with certain unalienable Rights…” It was the way the declaration was generally read till the 20th century.

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