Re: virus: Socrates

Fri, 07 May 1999 12:52:48 -0700

Reed Konsler wrote:

> >KMO: Our leaders exploit our fears in order to sell us on a program that
> >restricts
> >our freedoms.
> >
> >Reed: You make it sound like a bad thing.
> >
> >KMO: It IS a bad thing. I can get myself into a frame of mind in which I
> >see it as
> >a good thing, but that frame of mind is so far removed from my everyday
> >perspective
> >that when I am in it, such things as horrific as genocide have a positive
> >instructive value.
> But then, wouldn't you be using fear of "horrific genocide" in
> order to sell us on a program?

That's one way of framing my efforts.

> I'm not trying to be needlessly
> relativist.


> I'm just saying that we all have agendas based upon
> our hopes and fears which we try to implement in consensus
> with each other.

If only we ALL attempted to implement our aims "in consensus with each other." I tend to see the tough talking politicians as only seeking consensus with those parties they perceive as wielding some political clout. The politically marginalized, e.g. youth, blacks, immigrants, can safely be targets for tough talk and tough action. They needn't be approached in a spirit of consensus building.

> When you use words like "exploit" and
> "restrict" you're tapping into that same pool of fear.

Is that necessarily a bad thing? If so, why? I doubt you're suggesting that the only legitimate way to pursuade is via rational argument. Perhaps you think that by using some of the same emotional button-pushing rhetorical strategies that the dominators employ that I may inadvertently be reinforcing some of the same cultural/psychological mechanisms that enable the current state of unjust affairs. What is it about the kind of rhetoric on which you're calling me that you see as being counter to positive change?

> I'm
> sure that you really believe, after careful consideration, that
> they ARE exploiting and restricting and I expect you to stand
> by that, just as I expect "Our leaders" to stand by their beliefs.

>From "Energi Inscriptions" by Paul Williams:

All my life I've been looking of the good guys so I can vote them into office,
or send them money.

Maybe that's not the answer.

Maybe there are no good guys.

Maybe there's only you and me.

But if there's no good guys,
maybe there's no bad guys either?

No! Don't tell me that!

There's a limit to how much
I'll let you take away from me.

We are so addicted to blaming.

It must be somebody's fault.

> Please understand this, I agree with your politics.

I understand that your concern is with my means of expression and not the ideas expressed.

> >> There is nothing more capricious than rapid,
> >> revolutionary change.
> >
> >Hmmm... I might agree with that, but I'm not sure. Could
> >you say a bit more about this idea?
> Well, I think Howard Bloom does a pretty good job in _The
> Lucifer Principle_ of showing how powermongers have a
> tendency to use ideologies of revolution to overturn one
> hierarchy for another where they are on top.

Ah, revolutionary change being the social upheaval that can take place during periods of literal political revolution. Yeah, I agree. That's a pretty dicey time.

> "Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo."
> H.G. Wells

"Righteous indignation is the favorite evasion of the exposed scoundrel."


> >Well, I remember a bit of text set to music and accompanied by animated
> >visions and
> >broadcast repeatedly on Saturday morning television that has burned these words
> >into my consciousness, "...establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
> >provide
> >for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of
> >liberty for ourselves and our posterity...".
> Me, too. But you can see how those priorities can come into conflict
> with each other.

Yes. Definitely. A mandate to promote domestic tranquility and the general welfare coupled with a vision of the citizenry as being incapable of competently managing their own persons is certainly at odds with justice and liberty.

> >I agree with your point about focus. Still, it's useful be able to
> >understand the
> >motivation and aims of those who pass bad laws, and they do think in "us
> >vs. them"
> >terms.
> Well, it takes two people to have an argument. If you're saying that
> we should understand the nature of people in order to overcome
> that nature then I agree with you.

That's certainly part of what I'm working at.

> But you seemed to be supporting
> the idea that "they" were out to get "us". Now, despite the fact that
> you recognize that might not be the best way to approach change, you
> insist that becuase *they think* "they" are out to get "us" that we ought
> to think that way, also.

I'm not sure what I wrote that you construed as my saying that "us vs. them" thinking is something we "ought" to do. I know that UTism is a mode of thinking of which we are all capable and I can use that knowledge to frame some arguments in such a way that they are immediately accessible to people conditioned to thinking in the UT mode. I hope it's apparent that that isn't the only means I employ to propagate my favored memes, but it is one method that I reserve the option of using.

> But, geez. I thought the whole enterprise was about breaking with
> those old, less productive, conflict ridden patterns of thought and
> engendering new ones.

For me, the whole enterprise is expanding consciousness. UTism is a useful mode of thought and communication when used consciously. It is extremely dangerous when we let it influence our perceptions and actions without our conscious awareness or consent. This discussion is valuable in that it directs conscious attention to aspects of communication which are routinely absorbed only at the unconscious level.

> If in the short term that means we have to
> approach hatred and division with love and understanding...well,
> what do we expect?

What do YOU expect, Reed?

> It would be better to focus on the actual topic of debate.

What do you take that to be in this instance?

> >I don't accept that it is the purpose of elected representative to just
> >"make law."
> >I think that making law for our representatives is like killing for
> >soldiers. It's
> >something that we expect they will do in order to carry out their job, but
> >it is
> >not the purpose of the job. The US soldiers who massacred unarmed South
> >Vietnamese
> >civilians at My Lai in 1968 were killing, but they were not carrying out their
> >intended purpose as soldiers. So too with our representatives, when they
> >pass laws
> >that degrade rather than preserve liberty and individual autonomy or
> >selectively
> >benefit one class of citizens at the expense of others, they may be making
> >law, but
> >they are not carrying out their duties as representatives of the people.

> OK, I agree with that.

You're not even going to point out the fact that I've equated self-serving politicians with rampaging soldiers slaughtering civilians in a murderous frenzy?

> Except that I expect every law to have a negative
> as well as a positive effect.

Do you expect this based on precedent or on some inherent limitation of the ability of law to provide structure without conferring advantage and disadvantage on select groups?