Saturday, October 22, 2016

James Kwak — Ideas, Interests, and the Challenge for Progressives


This is a follow-up on a debate begun by Mike Konczal and joined by Dani Rodrik.

It's an important debate to be having about political economy but I don't think it can be resolved as a political matter in the way it is framed without bringing in Post Keynesian economics, MMT, and Institutionalism, from the side of economics, and sociology and political science as well. Moreover, it is basically a philosophical debate that hangs on differences in world views and ideologies. 

The fundamental question is what living a good life in a good society entails, individually and socially, as well as in terms of social, political and economic liberalism.

The Right has Friedrich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom and Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. The Left has John Kenneth Galbraith's The Good Society and Economics and the Public Purpose. All are dated and need to be revised for current conditions.

The coalition on right that was dominated by the GOP establishment has collapsed with the party breading between populist and establishment wings, and faces an uncertain future after this election. The dominance of the New Democrat establishment was seriously challenged by the Sanders "insurgency" and the dynamics of US demographics suggest that to Democrats that unless they change they face the same establishment- populist schism in which the Republicans are now enmeshed.

James Kwak certainly has it right that the challenge is to come up with a long term approach rather than a short term fix to regain the white working class that began to abandon the Democratic Party. Nixon's Southern Strategy broke the lock on the solid South that the Democrats had had after Reconstruction and flipped it to the GOP, while civil rights sealed the deal. Working class Democrats then defected wholesale to the GOP as "Reagan Democrats." Now the male white working class seems to be owned by right-wing populism.

Going forward, it appears that the US is divided between white males on the right and white females and non-whites on the left. This divide has economic roots but it is not fundamentally economic. Therefore, an economic approach can only be a part of the overall approach that progressives take politically.

The Baseline Scenario
Ideas, Interests, and the Challenge for Progressives
James Kwak
ht Mark Thoma at Economist's View

77 comments:

Bob said...

The fundamental question is what living a good life in a good society entails, individually and socially, as well as in terms of social, political and economic liberalism.

Lets start with some basic guarantees: food, shelter, income, employment

From a technical implementation standpoint, these objectives are currently achievable. From the "progressive" ideological standpoint, this will take 35 years.

Fuck these guys and their endless talk shops.

Bob said...

Btw, I have read comments on "progressive" oriented websites, and the main sentiment by far is to throw working class white males under the bus. Those commentators were not interested in reaching out to these voters.

jrbarch said...

The fundamental question is what living a good life in a good society entails, individually and socially, as well as in terms of social, political and economic liberalism.

I don’t think people realise HOW fundamental this question is. Basically, we are saying – ‘what does it mean to be human’?

Now a gorilla doesn’t go around asking what does it mean to be a gorilla. Nor does a goat or a chicken. So, what is wrong with the human being?

Tom Hickey said...

I don’t think people realise HOW fundamental this question is. Basically, we are saying – ‘what does it mean to be human’?

Right. The basis of liberalism ("freedom") in Western thought is for self-reflection without influence or coercion. In the immortal words Plato attributes to Socrates in his defense at his trial, "An unexamined life is not worth the living." Apology 38a. This used to be day one of Philosophy 101 before liberal education was replaced by job training.

A person or society that doesn't use freedom for the purpose for which it was designed, that is, self-discovery, is not fully human, but rather on a par with brutes, who do not question. But they cannot question, while humans can. See The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophyhere, which expands on what jrbarch says above.

As Aristotle argues in Nichomachean Ethics, failure to explore one's potential as a human being cuts one off from true happiness because true happiness — fulfillment — is a byproduct of the pursuit of excellence. This is accomplished by exercising that in us that makes us human and different from other animals, the ability to reason. However, this ability is not merely intellectual in the way that some moderns suppose in referring to Aristotle. It encompasses not only intellect as the faculty of reason but also "the heart" as the higher volitional and affective aspect of human life that animals do not participate in fully either.

IN the words attributed to Jesus in The Gospel of Thomas, Saying 3, "If you do not know who you [really] are, you live in poverty and you are that poverty."We condemn ourselves by our choices. The worst choices result from confusing the trivial with the important and the important with the trivial.

In the words of Paul, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways." 1 Cor. 13-11 NRSV.

If the level of collective consciousness of a society is childish, what will the society be like. If the level of collective consciousness of societies is childish, what with their interaction be like?

The message of the sages? "Grow up."

Ryan Harris said...


To Deng in Chinese system, it meant, a lack of polarisation into classes, and an absence of exploitation, development/promotion of production, and a predominance of state and party.

In the US, we now have the predominance of the Democratic party, with all industry, most leadership, nearly all media and academics, virtually all elite bourgeoisie, government employees unified in supporting it, to being essentially what is a central party now, equivalent to the Communist Party of China, but we have the opposite on all other counts, where the party is trying to divide and polarise, trying to exploit, and is actively promoting the dismantling of production.

Bob said...

If we do not have our basic physiological needs met, we will live and act like animals. Time spent on survival is time not spent on enlightenment.

It goes without saying that individuals should have the freedom not to 'grow up'. If they do not feel the need to ask themselves what it means to be human, why force them?

Tom Hickey said...

It goes without saying that individuals should have the freedom not to 'grow up'. If they do not feel the need to ask themselves what it means to be human, why force them?

In a liberal society, people are free to use their freedom as they wish. If they use it foolishly, they suffer the consequences themselves. Lack of fulfillment. Dumb choice but so be it if it is a free choice.

But how free is it, actually.

Humans are social animals and influence each other as well as the society. The society also exerts influence on individual though cultural and institutional arrangements. In the network of networks that constitutes a society, there are innumerable feedback loops.

Groups do have a lot of control over the culture and institutional arrangements over the group, and this is true to a degree also at the meta-level of societies.

One of the primary institutions is the educational system. A liberal society must institute a liberal educational system in order to replicate itself, or it will morph into an illiberal society.

Moreover, the positive laws a society choose under liberal self-governance also influence the culture and institutions of the society, and the culture and institutions also influence the laws and their interpretation and enforcement.

As a result, many paradoxes of liberalism arise and if they not handled intelligently, the paradoxes of liberalism overwhelm liberalism and the society drifts toward illiberalism.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." This is usually understood to apply to foreign enemies and even domestic enemies that would overthrow the republic. But the real enemy is the "demons" within that distract us from "the better angels of our nature" ( Lincoln, First Inaugural ).

Six said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Franko said...

We have lawyers and political "scientists" trying to administer our economy ....

Bob said...

Humans are social animals and influence each other as well as the society. The society also exerts influence on individual though cultural and institutional arrangements. In the network of networks that constitutes a society, there are innumerable feedback loops.

I am a loner. This does not make me immune to societal influence, but I can observe it more than I participate in it. I do not see where or what society contributes towards enlightenment. One has to look elsewhere.

Groups do have a lot of control over the culture and institutional arrangements over the group, and this is true to a degree also at the meta-level of societies.

There may be select groups that one can join to further one's process of discovering what it means to be human.

One of the primary institutions is the educational system. A liberal society must institute a liberal educational system in order to replicate itself, or it will morph into an illiberal society.

Is K-12 a liberal education system? Has it ever been?

Matt Franko said...

You guys are confusing "grown ups" with materially competent people...

Just because some are not competent for working in material systems doesn't mean they are not grown ups...

The left are sure obsessed by material systems for people who imo would have others see them as non material people... the left at core are all about material...

Matt Franko said...

Tom , Paul would use that analogy today to correct the people who think it's all about soup kitchens and charity.... all that soup kitchen and charity stuff is immature and materialistic...

Tom Hickey said...

I do not see where or what society contributes towards enlightenment. One has to look elsewhere.

There is an old maxim that it is hard to be a good person in a bad society.

There may be select groups that one can join to further one's process of discovering what it means to be human.

That's part of culture. Culture "cultures."

There are institutions that are devoted to this — religions, for instance. All religions teach some version of the Golden Rule. The New Testament has an affirmative version of it as Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Rabbi Hillel had enunciated the negative version, Don't do to others what you don't want done to yourself, a hundred years before.

What this states is universality, seeing yourself in others. Universality is the basis of both spirituality and rationality.

Is K-12 a liberal education system? Has it ever been?

Liberal societies have universal education as a basis, beginning K-12. Without universal education a liberal society is not possible. Everyone has be literate, for example.

The socialization process can be liberal or illiberal. Children in liberal societies are taught from the outset to view others as fellows, to share, to cooperate, etc. This is the beginning of a liberal outlook on life based on universality.

Bob said...

There is an old maxim that it is hard to be a good person in a bad society.

Yes, and it is impossible to be a good person if that society forces you to participate. This can be as mild as chastising someone for being an "old maid". Or as extreme as a fictional exchange between members of ISIS:
"Here is a knife," says one of your peers. "Now cut off that infidel's head to demonstrate your conformity."

That's part of culture. Culture "cultures."

There are institutions that are devoted to this — religions, for instance. All religions teach some version of the Golden Rule. The New Testament has an affirmative version of it as Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Rabbi Hillel had enunciated the negative version, Don't do to others what you don't want done to yourself, a hundred years before.


ISIS understands the Golden Rule.
Some variants are: Live by the sword, die by the sword. Ye shall reap what ye sow. What goes around, comes around.

My experience has taught me to be wary of larger groups and their cultures. Learning from them is much safer than becoming a part of them. In my experience small is beautiful. For example, the idea of a 'culture of one':
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOYezslwAdc

What this states is universality, seeing yourself in others. Universality is the basis of both spirituality and rationality.

"I am because you are."
Agreed.
Name a society that affirms the ideal of universality. Perhaps there is a culture or sub-culture that affirms it?

Our evolution as a species has shaped our behavior towards each other. Tribalism, racism, sexism and the like are observable traits. Bigotry and prejudice are nearly universal in their variety. Perhaps the sages would have an easier time teaching our cousins, the bonobos.

Liberal societies have universal education as a basis, beginning K-12. Without universal education a liberal society is not possible. Everyone has be literate, for example.

Workers need to be literate, along with other skills. This is what I remember taking up 11 years of my life.

The socialization process can be liberal or illiberal. Children in liberal societies are taught from the outset to view others as fellows, to share, to cooperate, etc. This is the beginning of a liberal outlook on life based on universality.

When I went to school, such ideals were not taught as much as they were followed through example. I remember a lot of bad examples. In my judgment, Quebec K-11 was thin preparation for appreciating universality.

A stint in the Peace Corps or its equivalent might have helped me become a better human being. Now that I'm an old dog, I'll never know.

Bob said...

The left are sure obsessed by material systems for people who imo would have others see them as non material people... the left at core are all about material...

Then why do they spend an inordinate amount of time waxing lyrical on what values they need to propagate and appeal to?
Immaterial values in place of material system basics like food, shelter, income...

Tom Hickey said...

Appreciation of universality is the chief feature distinguishing humans from other life forms. It is the basis for language use, for example, which depends on general terms used to indicted sets (classes, categories) and their relationships in system. Universality is also the basis for logic and math. It is also the basis for law and other institutional arrangements, as well as similarities and agreement within and across cultures.

Being human is tightly bound up with universality. Other forms of life make minimal use of universality in comparison and they so do so by instinct rather than consciously and intentionally using reason. This gives human many more degrees of freedom.

Increased freedom can be used in many ways. When it not used in a universal way, it is more animalistic and when it is used more broadly it is more human and humane.

Humans have the freedom to choose to be more animalistic or more human. The former is called vice and the latter virtue.

This also relates to the development of the moral and ethical concept of right or good. Right or good action is action in accordance with one's nature, and wrong or bad action is action that is not in accordance with one's nature. Right or good action to act as a human, that is, humanely. Wrong or bad action is to act as an animal, that is, driven by animal instinct, e.g, dominance and submission, territorial control, and other instincts that lead to violent conflict.

This is the basis of the Western intellectual tradition and also the basis for liberalism.

One of the paradoxes of liberalism is that everyone is free to pitch that tradition and line of thinking and do what they want. This is a challenge that liberal societies face and it is one that Western liberalism is facing now, from both Right and Left. Lord Keynes has been railing against the anarchist or naïve Left left for some time and has proposed a realist Left.

We Need an Old Left / Realist Left / Alt Left Internet Community

Then why do they spend an inordinate amount of time waxing lyrical on what values they need to propagate and appeal to?
Immaterial values in place of material system basics like food, shelter, income...


Because materialism is insufficient to address the issue of human life. It's treating societies like zoos, where the animals are fed, kept warm, and are secure in their cages.

Liberalism is about releasing animals from their cages. Liberalism has also created almost all the great prosperity that humanity now enjoys, to the point of realistically being able to distribute it widely at all levels.

Maslow has developed a hierarchy of needs. He has been criticized for seeming to suggest that this a ladder to be claimed incrementally rather than a constellation than needs to be treated simultaneously as a whole system.

There are not new issues. They have been debated for millennia in different traditions but in the Western intellectual tradition in particular, first in ancient Greece and then beginning in the Renaissance when freedom of thought and expression began to emerge again after a long period of dogmatic suppression.

Bob said...

Appreciation of universality is the chief feature distinguishing humans from other life forms. It is the basis for language use, for example, which depends on general terms used to indicted sets (classes, categories) and their relationships in system. Universality is also the basis for logic and math. It is also the basis for law and other institutional arrangements, as well as similarities and agreement within and across cultures.

Being human is tightly bound up with universality. Other forms of life make minimal use of universality in comparison and they so do so by instinct rather than consciously and intentionally using reason. This gives human many more degrees of freedom.


Are you saying that this is innate or that it must be taught?

This is the basis of the Western intellectual tradition and also the basis for liberalism.

That may well be so from a philosophical standpoint, yet that is not why humans behave the way they do.

Because materialism is insufficient to address the issue of human life. It's treating societies like zoos, where the animals are fed, kept warm, and are secure in their cages.

Liberalism is about releasing animals from their cages. Liberalism has also created almost all the great prosperity that humanity now enjoys, to the point of realistically being able to distribute it widely at all levels.


Our freedom is limited to not participating in certain aspects of the dominant culture. We are 'encouraged' (as if that were necessary) to leave our cages but we are not free to do what we want. An iliberal society could be compared to a circus, where every animal is forced to perform specified tasks or be punished. The 'liberalism' I experience is akin to a nature preserve. It is practical. The liberalism imagined by 'progressives' is utopian.

I could argue that exploitation has created most of our prosperity. Please line up to receive your gold medal here.

Maslow has developed a hierarchy of needs. He has been criticized for seeming to suggest that this a ladder to be claimed incrementally rather than a constellation than needs to be treated simultaneously as a whole system.

Without meeting base physiological needs, the rest of the pyramid fails to materialize. Whether it is a prerequisite or co-requisite is irrelevant as long as human civilization, in spite of all its progress, fails to deliver that foundation. This is where humanity is at. Outside of the first and second worlds, humanity has yet to be given the opportunity to scale Maszlow's pyramid.

There are not new issues. They have been debated for millennia in different traditions but in the Western intellectual tradition in particular, first in ancient Greece and then beginning in the Renaissance when freedom of thought and expression began to emerge again after a long period of dogmatic suppression.

It is rather a description of intractable behavioral issues that individuals are able to overcome, if they are willing. A 'liberal' society and values can make it easier for someone to attain enlightenment, but they are not necessities in the way that food and shelter are.

Bill Mitchell has written about the damage caused to society by unemployment. He is trying to draw attention to an issue that can be resolved. But no, progressives are more concerned with 1000+ year old debates and paradoxes.

Describing the human world and its traditions does not change it.

Tom Hickey said...

Are you saying that this is innate or that it must be taught?

Do a search on "feral children."

Human "nature" is potential that needs to be cultured. The full culturing of human nature to reveal what a human being really is is the aim of spirituality in the foundational sense.

That may well be so from a philosophical standpoint, yet that is not why humans behave the way they do.

There are various theories of human motivation and behavior. The theory that is adopted either consciously or unconsciously affects human behavior in that context. That is why behavior in different settings is different.

Again, human nature is potential. How it develops is a function of many factors that are not yet completely understood. There is no theory of human action compelling enough to gain general agreement.

Our freedom is limited to not participating in certain aspects of the dominant culture. We are 'encouraged' (as if that were necessary) to leave our cages but we are not free to do what we want. An iliberal society could be compared to a circus, where every animal is forced to perform specified tasks or be punished. The 'liberalism' I experience is akin to a nature preserve. It is practical. The liberalism imagined by 'progressives' is utopian.

This involves the debate over liberalism. There is no single theory of liberalism that has been compelling enough to gain general assent. The argument over this is not merely intellectual. It is what politics in Western nations is about.

I could argue that exploitation has created most of our prosperity. Please line up to receive your gold medal here

Even Marx admitted that capitalist exploitation raised workers' living standards far above what they had been previously. His argument that the justification of capitalist exploitation on the basis of so-called natural laws, hence, written in stone forever, was mistaken. We can do better.

>Without meeting base physiological needs, the rest of the pyramid fails to materialize. Whether it is a prerequisite or co-requisite is irrelevant as long as human civilization, in spite of all its progress, fails to deliver that foundation. This is where humanity is at. Outside of the first and second worlds, humanity has yet to be given the opportunity to scale Maszlow's pyramid.

Not actually. Most sages lived extremely austere lives and regarded material wants as trivial, yet, they are taken as the standard of wisdom.

For instance, take Buddha's four noble truths: 1) Suffering is inevitable in life. 2) Suffering is the result of craving. 3) ending craving removes the cause of suffering. 4) The eightfold path is the way to end craving in fulfillment (as the expression of full human potential).

Buddha did not say that material austerity was necessary. He taught that material life along will never result in fulfillment as the fullness of human potential. The monks demonstrate this, as do Christian monks. As a matter of historical fact, most of the people regarded as wise practiced austerity, even if they were householders. Socrates was one of them.

continued

Tom Hickey said...

continuation

This is not to say, of course, that material needs can be ignored or that they should not be a focus of liberalism. It is simply to say that paradoxes of liberalism arise from giving undo important to the material aspect of life and ignoring what freedom is for, that is, unfolding one's full potential not only as individual but as a human being. The sages unanimously teach that human potential is infinite.

For example, so-called primate people "had nothing" as far as Europeans are concerned. But at least some of them had developed a high degree of human potential and their culture recognized that the purpose of life was to do so. See, for instance, Ohiyesa (Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman), The Soul of the Indian (1911).

It is rather a description of intractable behavioral issues that individuals are able to overcome, if they are willing. A 'liberal' society and values can make it easier for someone to attain enlightenment, but they are not necessities in the way that food and shelter are.

This is key to the debate over whether the first step is meeting the material needs of all on the planet and then proceeding up the ladder of Maslow's needs, or treating all needs in terms of a constellation of needs and culturing them simultaneously. The first option was chosen in dealing with poverty in rich countries which resulted in "ghettoifcation," one of the chief ills of liberal societies today, the US in particular.

In the view of bourgeois liberalism, as long as people are not physically starving, or at least not so many as to be uncomfortable for the bourgeoisie, everything is fine. This results in a stratified society that becomes increasingly dysfunctional under the problem is addressed in its entirety. By then it has become intractable.

To to fix the ghettos now, more food?

These issue initially grew out of primitive accumulation and enclosure of the commons. They are even more serious in places of the world where this is happening now and multitudes are becoming dispossessed and many migrate to cities as displaced persons.

Of course it is a material issue but is not only a material issue, or even chiefly a material issue in a liberal society that wishes to perpetuate itself.

While I applaud the MMT JG as an economic measures, it is not going to resolve the paradoxes of liberalism, satisfy human needs or advance the unfolding of human potential very far.

No one person can address all areas effectively. That requires division of labor. Bill has chosen a focus. It is one focus of many that are needed to address a problem that is festering to the point of becoming epidemic.

Describing the human world and its traditions does not change it.

The first step in approaching a design problem is to define and analyzing the problem accurately based on investigation.

"Observe, orient, decide, act." — John Boyd.

Bob said...

Do a search on "feral children."

Human "nature" is potential that needs to be cultured. The full culturing of human nature to reveal what a human being really is is the aim of spirituality in the foundational sense.


I'm not sure if feral children are an argument against language (and other traits) being innate. Most people do not have to be taught how to speak; that is a potential unlocked by observing and listening to the environment. Same holds for some aspects of socialization, such as reading expressions, and engaging in play activity. Other aspects of socialization require the threat or experience of suffering negative consequences.

Learning how to read and write requires a more formal approach, hence the need for an education system. I was taught how to read and write. I was not instructed in any of the following: universality, ethics, and higher levels of consciousness. None of my classmates were either, except for non-Catholics, who attended a class called "Ethics". I remember being envious of them because they were learning something I believed to be of more practical use.

The education system I and my peers were in did not raise our awareness of topics that might have made us better people. For an institution that is supposedly necessary for a liberal society, they made remarkably little effort to unlock our potential.

We were socialized to be Canadians, with Quebec anglophone characteristics (assuming that such a culture is distinguishable). We were not socialized or educated to be enlightened human beings. This is liberalism in practice, in a country that claims to fit that definition. The way I see it, it is merely the continuation of a particular culture at a specific time and place.

This involves the debate over liberalism. There is no single theory of liberalism that has been compelling enough to gain general assent. The argument over this is not merely intellectual. It is what politics in Western nations is about.

This is what social engineering is about. When implemented, it is grotesque.

Bob said...

Even Marx admitted that capitalist exploitation raised workers' living standards far above what they had been previously. His argument that the justification of capitalist exploitation on the basis of so-called natural laws, hence, written in stone forever, was mistaken. We can do better.

The ends justifying the means. Well, maybe we can do better than liberalism.

Not actually. Most sages lived extremely austere lives and regarded material wants as trivial, yet, they are taken as the standard of wisdom.

If it is by choice, then perhaps it is a necessary choice. Depending on the individual, asceticism may be helpful.

This is not to say, of course, that material needs can be ignored or that they should not be a focus of liberalism. It is simply to say that paradoxes of liberalism arise from giving undo important to the material aspect of life and ignoring what freedom is for, that is, unfolding one's full potential not only as individual but as a human being. The sages unanimously teach that human potential is infinite.

Material needs are doable in practice, for everyone. Unlocking human potential in the spiritual realm is doable for those individuals who are willing.

Bob said...

For example, so-called primate people "had nothing" as far as Europeans are concerned. But at least some of them had developed a high degree of human potential and their culture recognized that the purpose of life was to do so. See, for instance, Ohiyesa (Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman), The Soul of the Indian (1911).

Try telling that to those who hold supremacist beliefs. They will tell you stories about the noble savage. They may even tell you all about the wonders of western liberalism.

To to fix the ghettos now, more food?

The ghettos in America are not starving. Unemployment, disintegration of the family, and gang culture are some of the factors.

The first step in approaching a design problem is to define and analyzing the problem accurately based on investigation.

"Observe, orient, decide, act." — John Boyd.


Some problems can be solved, while some solutions are not worth implementing. There is a saying: "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink." A society, a culture, a support group, or a friend will, at best, lead every horse to water. The rest is up to the horse.

Tom Hickey said...

This is what social engineering is about. When implemented, it is grotesque.

This is a huge paradox of liberalism. Almost no one thinks that children should be brought up without guidance. Guidance is basically social engineering. It comes along as part of a process of socialization.

Liberal societies are supposed to provide liberal education needed for life in a liberal society.

What those needs are is disputed. Another paradox of liberalism.

Freedom is not as simple as it may appear.

Tom Hickey said...

Material needs are doable in practice, for everyone. Unlocking human potential in the spiritual realm is doable for those individuals who are willing.

Provision for material needs is necessary regardless of the type of society. Distribution is the question. Another paradox in liberal societies, where egalitarianism is a chief factor.

Liberal society must be engineered to a degree in the sense that those joining it either by immigration or by birth into it need the foundation for a liberal world view. Again, what this is exactly is a matter for debate.

It is also a problem when a society that identifies itself as liberal, as in "liberal democracy, doesn't sufficiently reflect on what this implies, or maybe doesn't even reflect on it at all. That type of society is likely not destined to continue as a liberal one for very long.

jrbarch said...

Watching the daily news cycle is like watching a car careering down the highway, slamming into every obstacle it can find; people scattering, suffering, the world burning – so it’s good to talk about what it means to be human. In any language, any beautiful skin colour, any diverse racial modification: - to laugh and cry, hope and despair, learn and grow; be born, live and die, listen to the heart as it calls you - it is the same for every human being on the face of this earth. We see only our differences, not our similarities. Do you know the only thing between us and death is breath! How powerful is that: - that death must wait for the breath to leave. And yet we are unaware, as the breath comes and goes in this body, what it brings with it, the gifts that it brings, what can be felt and experienced – busy as we are with the car crashes and everything else.

If I understand correctly, I think we might all agree - human beings come in layers.

I’ve always liked the analogy of the little grains of wheat, self-contained, that allow them-selves to be transformed into flour to make the golden loaf of bread (i.e. society – hopefully benefiting us all far more than we could achieve by ourselves). Of course, the imperfections and cankers, unconsciousness, gets baked in too.

For me, the integrated human personality: - ego, mind, emotions, body, are our layers that become the basis of our society.

Looking at the layers in terms of needs and wants is perhaps, a good place to start.

Breath, thirst, hunger, sleep, reproduction, etc. are needs. But there is a deeper need than these, because a human being is deeper in nature. Everything else is wants. Am not judging the wants; just identifying them because it is important to keep them separate in consciousness. Needs are mandatory (not a luxury) because they emerge from our nature. Inner peace is our most sovereign need. But we don’t understand this; or its impact on the layers. We think it is a luxury: - something for yogis who sit in valleys, far away from the real world. Without peace, a human being is incomplete. The greatest gift is to be born in the first place: - not for purposes of the society or for your wants. The unpacking of that gift is the greatest privilege. To know what you carry within you that WILL bring you peace, fulfilment, clarity and contentment, without the support of anything on the outside, or in the mind. Although hidden, in the heart, it is available to any human being – because you are alive. It is impossible for a human to have the wisdom they need, to process their wants as either harmful or harmless, or keep them separate from ego, mind, emotions, physical sensation, without it. So, what is harmful, or harmless? What is it within us that makes us care? What within us discriminates clearly, between what is good and what is bad?

jrbarch said...

(cont).
The next place to look is ‘what are we, and others, feeding in ourselves – the good wolf or the bad wolf’? Because both are in our nature and are getting baked into our personality, day by day and moment by moment; and by default, the society too. And it recycles and recycles and recycles. The good cycles take you closer to your Self; and the bad cycles take you further away. Well, anyway ... that is how I would define good and bad. How do I know that? Getting closer to the Self means being harmless by nature and getting further away for the Self means harmfulness is just another way of doing business. How do I know that? Through feeling – not logic. Only consciousness can break a bad cycle, and yet it is unconsciousness that feeds the bad cycle. How will humanity break the cycle of car wreck after car wreck. The next one is careering straight towards the control room of the world’s nuclear arsenal.

And finally, what do we really need? What does 25,500 days mean to you? It is not many, and they go by far too quickly. Here is where the ‘what does it mean to be human’ comes in. People search for truth when it is under their pillow. Regardless of what is happening in the world, that is on average all we get. The heart in each person knows what it needs and will accept nothing else. We are not in control of time.

Bob said...

This is a huge paradox of liberalism. Almost no one thinks that children should be brought up without guidance. Guidance is basically social engineering. It comes along as part of a process of socialization.

Is it a paradox or a matter of where to draw a line?
Sending children to a Madrasa where they are forced to recite the Quran in a language they do not understand crosses the line IMO.

I am critical of the education system I experienced because the most useful things I learned took place outside of the classroom. And I'm someone whose learning style is amenable to a classroom setting. We can do better. We can experiment.

Provision for material needs is necessary regardless of the type of society. Distribution is the question. Another paradox in liberal societies, where egalitarianism is a chief factor.

Equality of opportunity or equality of outcome?
I would say the latter is not as necessary as the former.

Liberal society must be engineered to a degree in the sense that those joining it either by immigration or by birth into it need the foundation for a liberal world view. Again, what this is exactly is a matter for debate.

It is also a problem when a society that identifies itself as liberal, as in "liberal democracy, doesn't sufficiently reflect on what this implies, or maybe doesn't even reflect on it at all. That type of society is likely not destined to continue as a liberal one for very long.


Maybe this can applied to Canada's identification with multiculturalism. Have Canadians reflected upon it? Has it been a success? Why is it not working in other countries? What does the future hold for multiculturalism?

Tom Hickey said...

Is it a paradox or a matter of where to draw a line?
Sending children to a Madrasa where they are forced to recite the Quran in a language they do not understand crosses the line IMO.


Freedom is about not drawing lines — "building bridges not walls." But life cannot be lived with out some boundaries. That is a fundamental paradox of liberalism.

BTE, I got sent to a Catholic school without asking. I survived. :)

I am critical of the education system I experienced because the most useful things I learned took place outside of the classroom. And I'm someone whose learning style is amenable to a classroom setting. We can do better. We can experiment.

I agree based on my experience. In my view that is a key aspect of liberal education. Many people that self-identify as liberals regard it as dangerous radicalism.

Equality of opportunity or equality of outcome?
I would say the latter is not as necessary as the former.


This is another paradox of liberalism. Some hold that it is enough to lay the foundation. Others argue that this is insufficient if the outcome is illiberal in their view.

Maybe this can applied to Canada's identification with multiculturalism. Have Canadians reflected upon it? Has it been a success? Why is it not working in other countries? What does the future hold for multiculturalism?

Countries like Canada and the US that have been multicultural from their outset are the most liberal in the world. Still lots of rough edges but liberalism is a work in progress.

The problem with many liberals, whom I regard as overenthusiastic, is that they try to rush mater by imposing liberalism, that is, their view of liberalism, on others against their wishes, which is illiberal.

Bob said...

Following current events fulfills a need that I have, but if I take it too seriously, it becomes harmful instead of satisfying. Hence my black humor.

I’ve always liked the analogy of the little grains of wheat, self-contained, that allow them-selves to be transformed into flour to make the golden loaf of bread (i.e. society – hopefully benefiting us all far more than we could achieve by ourselves). Of course, the imperfections and cankers, unconsciousness, gets baked in too.

I am a grain of sand, potentially an irritant to a passing life form, yet never intending to cause any harm.

Beneath my layer of need is a layer of apathy. Do I need to peel this layer away to reveal the next? Is there a next?

So, what is harmful, or harmless? What is it within us that makes us care? What within us discriminates clearly, between what is good and what is bad?

Violence and compassion?

The next place to look is ‘what are we, and others, feeding in ourselves – the good wolf or the bad wolf’? Because both are in our nature and are getting baked into our personality, day by day and moment by moment; and by default, the society too.

I cannot help a society that prefers to gawk at car wrecks. I can choose not to be one of the gawkers. I can choose to search for what I believe is good.

And finally, what do we really need? What does 25,500 days mean to you? It is not many, and they go by far too quickly.

Sometimes I need peace of mind. I will need 'closure'. If I had an eidetic memory, the 18,000+ days I have lived would mean more to me.

Bob said...

BTE, I got sent to a Catholic school without asking. I survived. :)

The English school system in Quebec was considered Protestant. By the time I attended, there were few Protestants to be found. The name and the religious portion of the curriculum were relics of a bygone era.

Freedom is about not drawing lines — "building bridges not walls." But life cannot be lived with out some boundaries. That is a fundamental paradox of liberalism.

And if a child sent to a Madrasa grew up to be enlightened, would that be a paradox or evidence that freedom is not the end all to unlocking human potential?

To have the right to a personal life, to retain one's individuality - is critical.

This is another paradox of liberalism. Some hold that it is enough to lay the foundation. Others argue that this is insufficient if the outcome is illiberal in their view.

Well, we have neither. In some cases, we don't have equality before the law. Talk about countin' yer chickens before they've hatched ;)

Countries like Canada and the US that have been multicultural from their outset are the most liberal in the world. Still lots of rough edges but liberalism is a work in progress.

We are immigrant nations, unlike Europe. But I have noticed a growing gap between Canadian and American societies. I don't believe Canadians would like to follow where the US has gone.

Bob said...

BTW, today I was introduced to a character by the name of Christopher Langan. Does that name sound familiar to anyone?

Tom Hickey said...

And if a child sent to a Madrasa grew up to be enlightened, would that be a paradox or evidence that freedom is not the end all to unlocking human potential?

To have the right to a personal life, to retain one's individuality - is critical.


This is where it gets interesting.

In one view of liberalism, the purpose of personal freedom is for self-cultivation. Self-cultivation takes one beyond one's limited individuality, which is found to be the cage that restricts freedom.

Tom Hickey said...

BTW, today I was introduced to a character by the name of Christopher Langan. Does that name sound familiar to anyone?

I hadn't heard of him previously.

His cognitive-informational theoretical approach seems broadly consistent with the view of perennial wisdom. Langan is interested in developing a rigorous model. His paper articulates his approach.

The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A New Kind of Reality TheoryThe Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A New Kind of Reality Theory

I've only pursued it quickly, but it looks interesting. Seems to be similar to Teilhard's Noosphere and Bohm's Implicate Order, although he cites John Wheeler.

Bob said...

This is where it gets interesting.

In one view of liberalism, the purpose of personal freedom is for self-cultivation. Self-cultivation takes one beyond one's limited individuality, which is found to be the cage that restricts freedom.


This is a view that I can support. I suspect this is where it began.

Bob said...

His cognitive-informational theoretical approach seems broadly consistent with the view of perennial wisdom. Langan is interested in developing a rigorous model. His paper articulates his approach.

This is where it gets curiouser and curiouser.

Tom Hickey said...

In one view of liberalism, the purpose of personal freedom is for self-cultivation. Self-cultivation takes one beyond one's limited individuality, which is found to be the cage that restricts freedom.

This is a view that I can support. I suspect this is where it began.


Right. It is found in ancient Greece, Aristotle in particular, and even earlier, in ancient China, Tao Teh Ching aka Dao De Jing.

Bob said...

Right. It is found in ancient Greece, Aristotle in particular, and even earlier, in ancient China, Tao Teh Ching aka Dao De Jing.

Is that called perennial liberalism?

Tom Hickey said...

Is that called perennial liberalism?

There are fundamentally two views historically.

The predominate view is that human nature needs to be channelled toward fulfilling it's potential through a dominant cultural world view and strong institutions. This is traditionalism. The problem is that it degrades into dogmatism and institutional normativism.

The other view is liberal, which is now more or less dominant in the West, although traditionalism is still very strong and there is a running conflict between the two views.

The basic assumption of liberalism is that personal freedom is needed for self-cultivation and self-discovery, and also self-determination in societies. The idea is that in an atmosphere of freedom, curiosity will drive inquiry and creativity.

The danger of liberalism is that it degrades into material self-gratification and libertinism, resulting in people not only wasting their time but heading in the wrong direction. Politically it leads to anarchy in the pejorative sense of chronic dysfunction.

Bob said...

I agree with the basic assumption of liberalism and I prefer the non-authoritarian approach that allows individuals their agency. By this definition Canada is a predominately traditional society, with multicultural and liberal characteristics.

If the curriculum in K-12 were changed, children could be encouraged or given the tools to pursue their enlightenment. Beyond that, social planners should accept that some people will voluntarily choose to be hedonists, barbarians, etc.

Unless one believes that spiritual enlightenment is as important as vaccination, and thus mandatory.

Bob said...

We ought to using the term perennial wisdom more often in order to juxtapose it with rationalism. Similarly, the term experiential with empirical.

Tom Hickey said...

Unless one believes that spiritual enlightenment is as important as vaccination, and thus mandatory.

According perennial wisdom, unfolding full potential as a human being is the most important thing, and even the only important thing.

"A man must separate himself from all attachment to physical reality, said the Maggid, until he rises through all the spiritual worlds and becomes one with God, his own individual existence having been annihilated. Then he is really called man."

Rabbi Dov Baer
in Alan Unterman
The Wisdom of the Jewish Mystics
NY: New Directions, 1976, p. 54

But it has to ripen in individuals uniquely, in accordance with that person's "karma." That is why a liberal approach is recommended. While the spiritual path that leads through the spiritual planes is one and the same for all, the ways are different, the caravans are many, and the means are personal, therefore, unique to individuals. All beings are wending their way simultaneously in myriad ways. Each person repeats phylogenesis in the womb, even thought ontogenesis is uniquely determined by genetics.

There is no general rule or method applicable to all who aspire to realize God. Every man must work out his own salvation, and must choose his own method, although his choice is mostly determined by the total effect of the mind impressions (sanskaras) acquired in previous lives. He should be guided by the creed of his conscience, and follow the method that best suits his spiritual tendency, his physical aptitude and his external circumstances. Truth is one, but the approach to it is essentially individual. The Sufis say, "There are as many ways to God as there are souls of men." (At-totoq Ilallahe ka-nofuse bani adam).

Jamale fitrak ke lakh partao

Qubul partao ki lakh shanen

Tariqe irfan men kya bataun

Ye rah kiski wo rah kiski

Akbar

"Nature's beauty has thousands of facets for which there are thousands of ways and means of acceptance (understanding); in the Path of Gnosis, who can determine which particular mode or mood is earmarked for a given individual?", but the approach to it is essentially individual.

The Sufis say, There are as many ways to God as there are souls of men.


Meher Baba, God Speaks, Supplement 2.

jrbarch said...

18,000+ days hey! That’s 50 laps around the sun. No wonder we’re cynics (I wonder who else got out their calculator)? The miracle is H&T can get up and say what they do and not get shoes thrown at them.

From Prem:

What does it mean to be human?
Either you can come on the face of this earth and do exactly what billions of people have done before you. Or, you can join the "Socrates Club."
Do you know what the "Socrates Club" is? Know thyself!

[Segesta, Sicily June 28th, 2015]

In our daily routines and functions we make minor commitments.
Sometimes we break them, sometimes we uphold them.
Real commitment goes to the very core of one's existence.
I, as an individual, and I alone can decide what I want to be committed to.

A person without a commitment that touches their core, is a ship without a rudder, is a piano without keys, is a violin without strings, is a bird without wings, is a day without a sun. A real commitment is something that does not waver, nor can it be made towards something that does.


Even the powerful Hanuman joined the Socrates Club; and Alexander the Great, knowing he was empty handed after all of his efforts, was thinking about it.

Bob said...

According perennial wisdom, unfolding full potential as a human being is the most important thing, and even the only important thing.

But it has to ripen in individuals uniquely, in accordance with that person's "karma." That is why a liberal approach is recommended.


You are describing a perspective that existed long before the notion of liberalism. Are liberals aware of perennial knowledge? Today's liberals are likely to proclaim the superiority of science and rationalism above any other approach. That is the extent of their "enlightenment".

I interpret this to mean that liberalism is the medium by which perennial knowledge can be applied.

Bob said...

Adapted from Stargate SG1: Brief Candle

HILLARY: Unto every woman the creator gives 100 blissful days.

CYNICAL BOB (raising his voice, slightly): Hillary, will you stop that? Your creator was not a god, and he certainly didn't give you life. He took it away.

HILLARY: We are the Chosen. He made this place for us...to be happy...to love...to rule.

CYNICAL BOB (practically yelling now): To be experimented on! I mean, look at me! I'm 50 years old...or I was. That's...thousands and thousands of days.

HILLARY (rolls her eyes): You do not tell the truth.

CYNICAL BOB: The average human life span is 60 or 70 *years*. Some people live to be 100 *years*.

HILLARY: It is not possible.

TRUMP: Stop wasting my precious time, the both of you. I'm going to make America great again!

Bob said...

Sorry jrbarch, but I am in the Dilettantes Club. I may even be a founding member.

Tom Hickey said...

I interpret this to mean that liberalism is the medium by which perennial knowledge can be applied.

Right. It is one alternative for an environment that cultures wisdom. Historically, traditionalism has been the dominant alternative.

Aristotle makes the classic case for liberalism. His view was adopted by John Locke. Locke's work is the basis of "Classical Liberalism."

Tom Hickey said...

BTW, the historical period in which Classical Liberalism flourished is called the Enlightenment.

Here, the term "enlightenment" means the substitution of reason for dogmatism. It is chiefly intellectual.

In perennial wisdom, "enlightenment" means experiencing non-ordinary levels (states) of human potential. This is experiential, resulting from modifications of consciousness.

The two meanings should not be confused or conflated. They are quite different.

oday's liberals are likely to proclaim the superiority of science and rationalism above any other approach. That is the extent of their "enlightenment".

The classical Greek view has been mistaken in modern times as being basically rational, the precursor to science, which greatly advanced it. But that is a mistake in the view of those that interpret Greek classical writings in terms of perennial wisdom.

For the classical Greeks, "philosophy," meaning love of wisdom in Greek, was a way of life that led to wisdom, which is different from knowledge. This is set forth analogously in the Analogy of the Cave in Plato's Republic and Socrates' "ladder of love" soliloquy in the Symposium. The most detailed articulation is found in The Enneads of Plotinus.

Bob said...

Right. It is one alternative for an environment that cultures wisdom. Historically, traditionalism has been the dominant alternative.

Is Conservatism capable of fostering wisdom? Is it capable of receiving wisdom?

BTW, the historical period in which Classical Liberalism flourished is called the Enlightenment.

Here, the term "enlightenment" means the substitution of reason for dogmatism. It is chiefly intellectual.

In perennial wisdom, "enlightenment" means experiencing non-ordinary levels (states) of human potential. This is experiential, resulting from modifications of consciousness.

The two meanings should not be confused or conflated. They are quite different.


And epitomized by the Sargon of Akkads and Deepak Chopras of the world. No confusion there, just a lot of fluff. Two archetypes that would scoff at each other.

The classical Greek view has been mistaken in modern times as being basically rational, the precursor to science, which greatly advanced it. But that is a mistake in the view of those that interpret Greek classical writings in terms of perennial wisdom.

Mistaken or cherry-picked.

For the want of a medium, the message was lost.

Tom Hickey said...

Is Conservatism capable of fostering wisdom? Is it capable of receiving wisdom?

Conservatism is usually opposed to Liberalism in favoring tradition to innovation.

Both can serve as conduits for wisdom but traditionalism tends toward dogmatism, while liberalism tends toward libertinism.

This is all part of the historical dialectic of the Absolute discovering itself consciously in and through its relative manifestations.

No confusion there, just a lot of fluff. Two archetypes that would scoff at each other.

There is a lot of fluff on both sides owing to loose thinking. Perennial wisdom is not incompatible with reason and science, and perennial wisdom has a lot of naïve or half-baked proponents that don't speak from experience or only from partial experience, which they mistake for something deeper.

For the want of a medium, the message was lost.

Information is embedded in the signal. The signal has to be not only received but also comprehended in order to transmit the information it contains.

Bob said...

Conservatism is usually opposed to Liberalism in favoring tradition to innovation.

How are Conservatives opposed to innovation?
I thought Conservatives are people who prefer to teach someone to fish rather than give them a fish. Who tout the importance of individual achievement over collective action. Who scoff at most notions of 'equality'. Who equate 'innovation' with merit.

Both can serve as conduits for wisdom but traditionalism tends toward dogmatism,

says the Liberal,

while liberalism tends toward libertinism.

says the Conservative.

One conduit for Tweedledee + one conduit for Tweedledum = how many conduits?

There is a lot of fluff on both sides owing to loose thinking. Perennial wisdom is not incompatible with reason and science, and perennial wisdom has a lot of naïve or half-baked proponents that don't speak from experience or only from partial experience, which they mistake for something deeper.

You might want to repeat that with a horsewhip in your hand. Or maybe not. It takes different strokes for different folks. Loose thinking, on the other hand, is ubiquitous.

Information is embedded in the signal. The signal has to be not only received but also comprehended in order to transmit the information it contains.

And so God created different languages to obscure the signal. He created labels for humans to slap themselves with. He created opportunities for charlatans to mess about with bits and pieces of the information.

God did this and saw that it worked. Being a Pragmatist, He saw that it was good. He turned to the Sage and said: "I'm going to have a nap. You will be unable to wake me until your work is done."

Tom Hickey said...

How are Conservatives opposed to innovation?

Conservatives are those desiring to conserve gains rather than risk them in innovating. Their risk aversion provides stability in a system.

Liberals are those desiring freedom to experiment and they are not only not risk adverse but have risk appetite. They provide flexibility and adaptability in a system.

The extreme of the conservative range is reactionary. The extreme of the liberal range is radical.

Centrists are bi-polar in this regard and choose between conservative and liberal positions on different issues. This provides stability and adaptability.

Most people resist change, so generally speaking conservatism prevails in large groups much of the time.

jrbarch said...

[Bob] Sorry jrbarch, but I am in the Dilettantes Club. I may even be a founding member.

I know that Bob :-) ! My point is simply there is something within you that is not.

Came across a few more quotes from Prem re ‘what does it mean to be human’ – that may set you thinking; but of course it is up to you. Shan’t inundate you with any more.

peace a priority
‘World peace is a misnomer in my opinion, because peace begins with each one of us. There is no magic wand that will bring peace to the world. When each person makes peace a priority in their life, there will be peace in the world. It’s not going to be brought by a government or by any outside agent. The force of peace exists inside every human being, and in spite of all the ups and downs we have gone through, peace has always been there. For peace to come, there will have to be an attitude of looking at oneself. I know that everyone knows peace is within them. They may question whether peace is within their neighbour, but let’s begin with ourselves, not our neighbours’.

something special
First, you have to acknowledge that within you there is something beautiful. That peace is within you. That joy you’re looking for is within you. You have to acknowledge that. Not just “I think so”, but you really start to get in touch with that feeling. It’s something you begin to understand about yourself – that life has a meaning. It’s not just a big mistake that you are here in this life. It means something that you are here. We look at our heroes, and we think it means something that they are here. But there is you, and you mean so much to yourself! When you can begin to look at it that way, not like, “I’m everything”, but “I am something special because I have been given the gift of life.” Then the fact that there is something inside of you starts to make sense. The fact that there really is something inside of you starts to become clear’.

being alive
‘The mind and the intellect cannot capture peace. They have a different function. Peace, joy and true happiness are not subjects for thought .They can only be felt. There is a feeling behind being alive. There are no explanations for it.’

Bob said...

Conservatives are those desiring to conserve gains rather than risk them in innovating. Their risk aversion provides stability in a system.

You are claiming that Conservatives are risk averse, not that they are averse to innovation. There are entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who consider themselves Conservative and innovative.

Centrists are bi-polar in this regard and choose between conservative and liberal positions on different issues. This provides stability and adaptability.

Most people resist change, so generally speaking conservatism prevails in large groups much of the time.


Do the intellectual edifices of Liberalism, Conservativism and Centrism contain most people's worldviews? How large is the eclectic label?

In any case, they are amenable to the acceptance of perennial wisdom. If I were a Sage I would care little if one or the other prevailed in the society I was in. I would adapt my signal to the audience. I would not be tempted to resort to authoritarian methods to reduce the 'noise'.

Bob said...

I could say that the world is largely at peace since most people are not at each other's throats. That there is a shortage of peace in our personal lives. I can say the opposite, yet the work to be done remains the same.

I am a grain of sand, unique in the universe. I am not a special snowflake, unique in their unhappiness. I look at my heros because of what they mean to me. While I may ask why this and that is important to others, it is only that which is important to me that is special. I am a culture of one.

States of being are better appreciated sensually. But some people, such as myself, have personality disorders that result in exceptions to the rule. That is why the are called 'disorders'.

Tom Hickey said...

You are claiming that Conservatives are risk averse, not that they are averse to innovation. There are entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley who consider themselves Conservative and innovative.

Wikipedia defines conservatism pretty much the same as I did.

Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others, called reactionaries, oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".[1][2]Wikipedia

There are different aspect of conservatism —economic conservatism, political conservatism, and social conservatism. Same with liberalism.

There are different possible mixes. For example, Silicon Valley tends to be economically conservative and socially liberal. Most major figures are also politically liberal in this election, if funding HRC's campaign is any indication.

Peter Their is an exception. Moreover, and some key figures in Silicon Valley are Libertarians like Thiel. Libertarianism is anarchic and this considered the extreme of liberalism rather than conservatism.

But Gregory Ferenstein at The Daily Beast makes a case that most in Silicon Valley are "a new type of Democrat."

There’s a reason why the Silicon Valley libertarian revolution hasn’t materialized: They’re actually an entirely new type of Democrat. See, The Myth of Silicon Valley Libertarianism

Bob said...

There’s a reason why the Silicon Valley libertarian revolution hasn’t materialized: They’re actually an entirely new type of Democrat. See, The Myth of Silicon Valley Libertarianism

Or they could be a new type of Conservative.

I fail to see the purpose of asserting that someone is X when they have identified themselves as Y. Are they to be excommunicated?

There are any number of "mixes" depending on the perspective one takes. The Marxist economist Richard Wolff is fond of telling the story of Silicon Valley 'innovators' who quit their jobs and founded their own companies. These are people who view themselves as conservative, and pro free market, yet what they are doing fits the definition of communism. The structure of their 'company' is indistinguishable from that of a worker co-op.

The framework of Conservatism ~ Traditionalism ~ Stability does not preclude innovation.
The framework of Liberalism ~ Openness ~ Adaptability does not guarantee innovation.

What is the purpose of defining the world (and oneself) in this way?
Assuming there is a purpose, what are the trade offs?

Tom Hickey said...

One can all oneself anything they want, but if their assumptions and behavior doesn't fit the definition, then they are not that but either self-deluded or trying to delude others.

Moreover, labels are misapplied all the time in the media. Journalists just make stuff up without actually knowing what they are talking about or bothering to check.

There used to be at least some standard of critical thinking and professional responsibility in journalism but that has been gone for some time — the the Murdoch model of infotainment became so financially successful, and journalists either joined in or were out.

Murdoch destroyed the media not only the US but everywhere he operates — UK , OZ...

Tom Hickey said...

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Conservatism

Liberalism

Bob said...

I find it innocuous if a Liberal by definition consider themselves Conservative. No harm done.
I find it curious that in many political discussions I must make clear that I am not a Liberal, not a Conservative, not a Socialist, etc, etc.
I don't see the purpose of self-labeling. It encourages people to peg you.
It seems to me that labels should be reserved for summarizing a significant part of your identity. Having a set of opinions or a worldview similar to others swaps your identity for that of a group.

Moreover, labels are misapplied all the time in the media. Journalists just make stuff up without actually knowing what they are talking about or bothering to check.

In the Silicon Valley article, an analysis was done that found contradictory policy positions. Instead of forcing these people into the existing Lib/Con framework, they chose who they vote for and labeled them accordingly. As a reader, my thought is: why don't they update or scrap the framework?

Tom Hickey said...

@ Bob

We use categories and classes in ordinary language to summarize a lot of information succinctly.

This can be analyzed using set theory — Empty set, sets with members, sets of sets, set off sets of sets, ….. This is abstraction.

Ordinary language blends different uses — descriptive, normative, performative, injunctive, exclamatory, etc. — in single expressions.

Ordinary language is rich in meaning but it is not precise. Rigor is sacrificed to richness. Formal languages and analysis of the logic of ordinary language.

why don't they update or scrap the framework?

For example, there is a scholarly literature in social and political thought in the Western intellectual tradition that goes back to the 17th century at least, in which important terms have defined meanings. Professionals are unlikely to adapt their language to the fads since that would result in confusion in the professional literature.

Conservatives typically see Richard Hooker (1554–1600) as the founding father of conservatism, along with the Marquess of Halifax (1633–1695), David Hume (1711–1776) and Edmund Burke (1729–1797). Wikipedia

John Locke is considered the founder of modern classical liberalism, although he was preceded by others who contributed, like Baron de Montesquieu.

This set the stage for the debates that followed and are ongoing in philosophy, politics and law.

On the other hand, ordinary language changes over time. This can result in confusion, conflation and ambiguity. There can even be a reversal of meaning.

Bob said...

We use categories and classes in ordinary language to summarize a lot of information succinctly.

Of course we do, but how is this of benefit to the public?

Here is an example of a useful definition:

triv·i·a
noun
details, considerations, or pieces of information of little importance or value.
"we fill our days with meaningless trivia"
synonyms: minutiae, minor details, petty detail, niceties, technicalities, trivialities, trifles, trumpery, nonessentials, ephemera; informalsmall potatoes, peanuts
"his head is overflowing with obscure trivia"

John Locke is considered the founder of modern classical liberalism, although he was preceded by others who contributed, like Baron de Montesquieu.

Attribution is of little interest to non-historians.

This set the stage for the debates that followed and are ongoing in philosophy, politics and law.

If I look at the state of the world, its institutions and its people, am I seeing the results of these ongoing, sterile debates?
To whom should I attribute the failures of modern day civilization?
Whom shall I blame if the human experiment ends in calamity?

p.s. I have more respect for scholars than the protagonists in the OP.

Bob said...

For example, there is a scholarly literature in social and political thought in the Western intellectual tradition that goes back to the 17th century at least, in which important terms have defined meanings. Professionals are unlikely to adapt their language to the fads since that would result in confusion in the professional literature.

They won't until someone comes along and proposes a new framework that works better than the old one. At which point the current framework becomes a part of history and the new framework becomes all the rage (i.e. another fad).

Until then, we have to make do with the brilliant observation that Silicon Valley voters with 'paradoxical' political beliefs who vote Democrat... are a new type of Democrat.

How inconvenient that an evolving political landscape does not fit neatly into abstractions accumulated over the centuries. But hey, if we can live with legacy code, we can live with this.

Tom Hickey said...

Of course we do, but how is this of benefit to the public?

The challenge is to simplify matters that are complicated or complex (expert knowledge) without oversimplifying. Choosing the suitable level of abstraction is necessary for this. It's a skill and some are better at it that others.

The other matter is not introducing bias. That is also difficult for many people, even experts, because most of us are biased on one way or another.

Tom Hickey said...

Attribution is of little interest to non-historians.

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." — George Santayana.

Debates among scholars and experts in various fields reveal the strengths and weaknesses of various position. Negative teaching and experience is as important as positive, in that we learn or can learn from out mistakes if we pay attention. Not paying attention risks being stuck in a negative feedback loop.

It's said that the average rat will run down a tunnel three times without success in finding cheese, then choose another tunnel in the maze. The average human will run down the same tunnel for his or her whole life.


If I look at the state of the world, its institutions and its people, am I seeing the results of these ongoing, sterile debates?
To whom should I attribute the failures of modern day civilization?
Whom shall I blame if the human experiment ends in calamity?


To sum it up, I would say that the success of small group of humans in innovating has set humanity ahead of its general level of knowledge and competence to manage challenges emerging from innovation.

We are getting ahead of our selves wrt to the general level of collective consciousness.

One solution, proposed bv Bucky Fuller, is to raise the general level of education. The recommendation of perennial wisdom is to raise the level of collective conscious by pursuing "core spirituality," which lies in the heart (core) of all humans and makes us human.

Tom Hickey said...

They won't until someone comes along and proposes a new framework that works better than the old one. At which point the current framework becomes a part of history and the new framework becomes all the rage (i.e. another fad).

Until then, we have to make do with the brilliant observation that Silicon Valley voters with 'paradoxical' political beliefs who vote Democrat... are a new type of Democrat.

How inconvenient that an evolving political landscape does not fit neatly into abstractions accumulated over the centuries. But hey,


This is part of the human experiment. Thought is one part of it. But human have other factors that enter the mix — in addition to the cognitive there are also the volitional, the affective, the behavioral and the social. All of these factors are operative individually and socially wrt to changing environmental conditions and human make their way by groping along, learning from feedback wrt to success and failure. It's a process called "evolution."

Bob said...

The challenge is to simplify matters that are complicated or complex (expert knowledge) without oversimplifying. Choosing the suitable level of abstraction is necessary for this. It's a skill and some are better at it that others.

Engineers and designers are good at it. But that endeavor is pointless if you don't have a product that is of tangible benefit.

What is it you want to accomplish?
Once that has been identified... How can it be accomplished?

The other matter is not introducing bias. That is also difficult for many people, even experts, because most of us are biased on one way or another.

You have an objection to manipulation?

Tom Hickey said...

Engineers and designers are good at it. But that endeavor is pointless if you don't have a product that is of tangible benefit.

What is it you want to accomplish?
Once that has been identified... How can it be accomplished?


The issue is education. Education is not only education of the young. It includes educating the public and policy makers that are not expert in a field, e.g. non-economists about MMT. Educating economists about MMT is an entirely different procedure since they are experts in the field already.

Some scientists are very good at popularization and through their work, non-experts are introduced to complicated and complex ideas that they would not be capable of accessing for lack of background, skills and smarts.

This is hugely important in the kind of world in which we live.

Bob said...

It's said that the average rat will run down a tunnel three times without success in finding cheese, then choose another tunnel in the maze. The average human will run down the same tunnel for his or her whole life.

The human species is unable to learn from history. Cultures are unable to learn from the mistakes of past cultures. Individuals and groups of experts are able to learn. Unfortunately they have little power to persuade these larger entities to adapt.

To sum it up, I would say that the success of small group of humans in innovating has set humanity ahead of its general level of knowledge and competence to manage challenges emerging from innovation.

We are getting ahead of our selves wrt to the general level of collective consciousness.


Sounds like a problem of scale. And contrary to Maggie Thatcher's claim that there is no such thing as society, we may be faced with a shortage of individuality.

One solution, proposed bv Bucky Fuller, is to raise the general level of education. The recommendation of perennial wisdom is to raise the level of collective conscious by pursuing "core spirituality," which lies in the heart (core) of all humans and makes us human.

I agree wholeheartedly. Yet I'm relatively uninterested in developing my spirituality. Hopefully I'm in the minority.

Tom Hickey said...

You have an objection to manipulation?

I don't have any objection to persuasion and advocacy based on truth.

I do have issues with manipulation based on sophistry, which is defined as making the worse case appear to be the better one.

A standard ploy in sophistry is knowingly using biases and fallacious argument to gain the upper hand.

Bob said...

The issue is education. Education is not only education of the young. It includes educating the public and policy makers that are not expert in a field, e.g. non-economists about MMT. Educating economists about MMT is an entirely different procedure since they are experts in the field already.

The young can be educated or indoctrinated. When it comes to the public, how does one re-educate damaged goods?

Ideally the public should be enlightened enough to be policy makers.

Bob said...

I don't have any objection to persuasion and advocacy based on truth.

Very well, here is a premise:
According to perennial wisdom, unfolding full potential as a human being is the most important thing, and even the only important thing.

How should this be presented?

Tom Hickey said...

Ideally the public should be enlightened enough to be policy makers.

A requirement for a true democracy as government of, for and by the people, that is, direct democracy, which contemporary technology makes possible.

Therefore this is a requirement for the highest level of political liberalism.

Otherwise a republic is the substitute for direct democracy, and republics tend to be government by and for elites.

Tom Hickey said...

According to perennial wisdom, unfolding full potential as a human being is the most important thing, and even the only important thing.

How should this be presented?


This is the purpose and aim of liberal education.

There are two methods.

The first method is categorical, epitomized by the text book approach.

The second is dialectical, epitomized by the questioning approach and informed debate.

The second approach is more suited to liberal education as a whole, but the categorical approach as application in areas suited to it.

The problem is that human potential is infinite and each individual is unique. So a one shoe fits all approach is not suitable given these conditions. There are many angles of approach and different individuals will be more disposed to some than others.

If the textbook could be written, it would have been. None of the sages has ever approached transmitting perennial wisdom that way. It's not a matter of book learning but direct transmission. Educators have to have it to transmit it.

Moreover, education is about learning rather than teaching. The Latin root means to lead from rather than lead to. Learning is chiefly from the learners' side.

All knowledge is implicitly within, or we would not be able to recognize it when presented with it, nor would we be able to discover it.

For example, languages are learned by nurture but the ability to learn languages is innate. Languages are software applications, so to speak, while the ability to learn language is structured in the operating system and hardware capable of running it.

Education does not end with formal education either. Education is lifelong learning. So a fundamental aspect of education is learning how to learn. This is the basis of liberal education.

Bob said...

A liberal education as you describe it doesn't exist within Canada's K-12. It has one shoe, the classroom, and if it doesn't fit, the student gets the boot.

Much talk about recognizing different learning styles; lack of action in implementing it.

Republic versus parliamentary system - a wash?

Bob said...

Higher education in Canada is regarded as a means of job qualification. Only the wealthy and the foolish pursue higher education to further themselves intellectually. Most institutions of higher learning are not noted for their spiritual content.

Tom Hickey said...

So-called liberal societies have dismissed liberal education as a waste of time and money. Liberal education is only needed in democracies and that's not the case with the contemporary oligarchies of the West that need trained workers that aren't well-educated enough to ask questions or see what is really going on.

Economists are a case in point. They are minions of the oligarchy and if they are really smart and play their cards right they can become vassals of the oligarch as its priest. Those that become high priests even join the lower ranks of the oligarchy.

Bob said...

Attitudes to higher education were different in the 1970s and earlier. Then came the need for higher qualifications, for more debt, for more profit. The value of a degree diminishing as more and more people hold them.