Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Thomas Moore. The man wasn't a saint by any means, but he was a good friend. I'm still looking out for him from the corner of my eye, hoping he's going to pull in any minute now....
Damn. It hurts.
Time, time, time, see what's become of me
While I looked around
For my possibilities
I was so hard to please
But look around, leaves are brown
And the sky is a hazy shade of winter
Look around, leaves are brown
There's a patch of snow on the ground....
Paul Simon, "Hazy Shade of Winter."
Sunday, October 19, 2008
"The profound paradox of Platonism proper is that it preached a return to, or a fortification of, the closed communally organized society: but it did so by means which themselves illustrated, highlighted, and sprang from that liberation from traditional ritualism and communalism. Plato represented dogmatism pursued by liberal means, an authoritarianism with a rational face." Ernest Gellner, Plough, Sword and Book. London: Collins Harvill: 1998; pp. 84-85.
Taken in, that's what too many of our intellectuals have been are to this day and beyond. We'll see one of them below. And a shameful example of a typical intellectual conformist he is. There is no excuse for an expert in the field to be so wrong on the facts as is the writer below. But if he were merely a fool, and a sloppy one at that, who would care? No, dear reader, it's far worse than that. The writer below is a danger to human freedom and to free people everywhere. We must confront him and those like him, stop them by making known the realities of history and literature from the texts as they are, not as one thinks they must be or should be, or should be thought so by the "average" man.
Kimon Valaskakis, "Media-enhanced 'dumb democracy' is the fastest road to totalitarianism." Globe and Mail; October 13, 2008.
Winston Churchill once argued that democracy is the worst political system except for all the others. While there is no viable alternative to democracy, contemporary flaws in the system - what I call "dumb democracy" - threaten to weaken it and produce counterproductive results. These flaws have become, alas, increasingly prevalent in both the Canadian and U.S. elections. Voters are making momentous decisions on the basis of the most trivial criteria.
The rise of Sarah Palin has been fuelled by her engaging smile and her appeal as a "hockey mom." Despite the constant mocking by the U.S. media deploring her lack of preparedness for high office, she appeals to the average voter, or "Joe Six-Pack American," as she calls him. In the U.S., average voters seem to want an average vice-president or even president to represent them. University professors are looked down on when aspiring for high political office, while celebrities, actors, sports stars and even former professional wrestlers get the nod.
Although this anti-intellectual bias is less predominant in Canada, both American and Canadian voters are very vulnerable to mediatic factors such as body language, winking at the audience, ability to tell jokes and being folksy and cute. This media-enhanced trivialization started in the first television debate between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, and it's been said that JFK won the televised debate because of Mr. Nixon's sweaty face while Mr. Nixon won the radio debate because of his arguments. Today, the spin doctors and image makers try to appeal to the lowest common denominator. We are very far from Plato's philosopher king.
Some may argue that voting on trivial grounds is the prerogative of "the people," but this argument does not withstand analysis.
"The people" are made up of human beings. To err is human and, if one person can make a mistake, so can millions. There is no safety in numbers. The assumption that a majority of 50 plus 1 is always right and 50 minus 1 is always wrong is quite obviously absurd. The ancient Athenians and the fathers of modern democracy warned against populism's dangers.
"The people" change their minds all the time, as polls demonstrate. The Americans who elected and re-elected George W. Bush obviously regret their choice, since he is at 25 per cent in the approval ratings. Even John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, has distanced himself from Mr. Bush as much as possible. If a voter's opinion is exclusively decided on the basis of spin doctors' sound bites, huge blunders may be committed by the electorate - which will have to live with its mistake for four long years.
The outcome of the U.S. election affects the whole world, not just in economic terms but in issues of life and death. How many people have died around the world because of Mr. Bush's decisions? The privilege of empire must carry with it a greater sense of responsibility. The U.S. voter from the Midwest or Deep South must realize his or her decision has global implications and act accordingly.
So what can we conclude? Governance is much too serious a challenge in an interdependent world to be left to superficial criteria. Would you entrust your future to a person who doesn't answer your questions but just winks at you? Would you fly with an untrained pilot just because he reminds you of yourself ? Would you undergo an operation by an unqualified surgeon because he is charismatic?
A condition of intelligent democracy is intelligent and well-informed voters. It is the task of the media to inform the voters, but it also the task of the voters to take elections more seriously. Voting is a right, but it is also a privilege that must be used wisely because, when all is said and done, "dumb democracy" is the fastest road to totalitarianism.
Platonism is the supreme expression of agro-literate man, of a society endowed with a large and steady food-supply, capable of sustaining a minority elite endowed with the capacity to codify, formalize, and preserve its ethos and cognitive capital. It is stable and aspires to stability; and it is liable to consider radical change pathological. It recognizes and endorses the joint roles of the transcendent and of coercion in securing stability for society. The community is divided into the wise, the aggressive, and the hard-working. (Gellner: p. 118.) And that is it. The Philosopher Kings, the Thugs, and the slaves. Plato offers nothing else-- forever. Any change would be pathological. Platonists, as above, are not our friends: they are the enemies of the people.
The writer above is a fascist, pure and simple. He expresses the latest Platonist variant of Ur-fascism. "Voters are making momentous decisions on the basis of the most trivial criteria." Voters.
For example, and an anti-American one at that: "The rise of Sarah Palin has been fueled by her engaging smile and her appeal as a 'hockey mom'." If you don't get it thus far, how's this? "[S]he appeals to the average voter, or 'Joe Six-Pack American'."
But no; you, dear reader, are not supposed to be insulted by the writer's reference to you as "average" or "Joe Six-Pack." As this pimp tries to stoke your vanities, you are meant to see yourself as one just like the philosopher king above. You are superiour to the fools who like Sarah Palin. The fact that such is a pimp's bit of chicanery is seemingly lost on the good writer above. So, like a pimp, on he goes: "In the U.S., average voters seem to want an average vice-president or even president to represent them."
Average people? According to Plato there are no average people, so the good writer is using a euphemism, one meaning "slaves". The slaves want a slave as political representative. How shocking!
"University professors are looked down on when aspiring for high political office, while celebrities, actors, sports stars and even former professional wrestlers get the nod."
No, not Ion! Not an actor! Let us only allow ourselves to be ruled by university professors like the doctor above, Philosopher Kings, those who are smarter and better than the "average" man.
"Although this anti-intellectual bias is less predominant in Canada, both American and Canadian voters are very vulnerable to mediatic factors such as body language, winking at the audience, ability to tell jokes and being folksy and cute."
Canadians aren't generally as stupid as Americans. Thank you, dear writer. Aren't we clever after all? We might even be able to understand conversation, if not a coherent argument; but the rest, the slave masses, they have to rely on the non-verbal, the mediatic. This man is so far removed from common people that he assumes we'll be taken in by pimp talk.
Here he rues away his day: "We are very far from Plato's philosopher king."
No, sir. If only it were so. We are, in fact, in the presence of the typical Left dhimmi fascist would-be Phiospher King. There's no further need to critique this man's pseudo-argument.
"So what can we conclude? Governance is much too serious a challenge in an interdependent world to be left to superficial criteria."
No, I would conclude that governance is much too serious a challenge to leve to Gnostic fools like the one above, and that we must confront fascists like the fool above and defeat him in every venue, in every arena, in every agora. Monstrous evil such as that written by the fool above has no place in a democracy other than in the spittoon of common bar-room. Garbage sophistry posing as intellectual superiority. Don't stand for this. It's filthy and disgusting. To the trash-can of history with foolishness like Platonism. Down with the Philosopher Kings! Off with their shit-filled heads. Long live the Demos! Long live Sarah Palins! Long live Democracy. Long live the Average Person!