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They aren't even trying to hide it anymore

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They aren't even trying to hide it anymore

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Old 11-09-2019, 07:04 AM
  #11  
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I am now going to reflect on some matters that are beyond the bounds of this thread. Pardon me. It seems to me that during my lifetime (I was born in 1956) or even more precisely during my son's lifetime (he was born in 1990) there has been a critical moral and intellectual transition in our country and more generally in the developed West. A key feature of this transition is that truth and principle are irrelevant or even not existent. As an instance of this transition, I argue that the character assassination that commonly takes place in our politics and the cant promulgated by journalists is evidence of this transition. This is a very broad phenomenon, not just limited to character assassination. It seems, however, to most often attach to things that have political implications. I am one person, an old person, and I can't change this, I am only an observer. It does seem to me so obviously a grave error. To the extent we condemn the dark ways of the past, how can we now willingly submit ourselves to the authoritarianism of a hegemonic orthodoxy that does NOT allow itself to be challenged by truth and logic? Down that path lies much that is unpleasant.

What explains this change? It could be simple stupidity -- lack of mental brain power. Maybe it is people who lack this brain power making the foolish mistake of "thinking" when, given their extreme limitations, they ought rather to narrowly comply with rules of conduct and habits that are prescribed to them. This is a possible explanation. There is another explanation that need not take such an insulting view of the hoi polloi. There is an idea in classical thought (e.g., ancient Roman writers, ancient Greek writers) that affluence is debilitating, affluence makes us both foolish and incautious. Certainly the US and the modern West can check the box for being affluent societies. Is it the case that when being incautious, being foolish, being imprudent is not conjoined with severe harm people become more foolish and imprudent? Is it the case when there are no visible threats of violent attack, of war (in the backyard, not in some place half-way around the world that most people could not identify on a globe), we become foolish and forget that war is a constant in human history and begin to neglect careful cultivation of unity, begin to neglect to cultivate the harsh virtues needed to prevail in such a conflict?

A very high level view from the age of 63. My son seems to hope that things can roll back, can self-correct. I'm not as sanguine. The future does not look bright, in my imperfect opinion.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Cub Slayer View Post
While envious of your command of Machiavellian thinking, I would have made the same point absent said references. Malicious, unsubstantiated "calumnies" should be punished. But more importantly, society should shun the practice. I blame public indoctrination centers for not teaching children to turn a critical eye towards baseless character assassination. If a majority of the American people would pull their heads out, these "calumnies" would be powerless, as they should be. The phrase "Put up or shut up" should come back into vogue. God knows I've been thinking this almost non-stop during the Salem job Democrats are pulling on Trump.
I agree. But I also believe that people behave in accordance with "no one is a prophet in his own neighbourhood." Think about that saying just a little bit. It is pretty clever and provides an important insight into human behaviour. If I say it, few pay attention to it. If I frame the thought in the words of a respected thinker, there is greater chance that people will pay attention. In this specific case, at least, it does separate the thought from our specific place in time and history and hence arguably is less subject to the accusation of being merely a parochial view. It may not be right, but it can't be accused of being mere local lore.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:18 AM
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I'll join your topical deviation and reject the notion that affluence is debilitating. Affluence is empowering. That includes the power to choose to be debilitated. If you're rich, you can survive being stupid whereas the same stupidity by a poor person could be fatal.

In my experience, the affluent embrace the spectrum of personal outcomes. For many, affluence provides the power to achieve greatness. But, as a subset covered by your classical thought comment, some affluent people choose the path of "foolish and incautious". Such an outcome is not preordained or even more likely, but it is possible. Hollywood is replete with morons who, absent their wealth, would probably be lying in a gutter.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Cub Slayer View Post
While envious of your command of Machiavellian thinking, I would have made the same point absent said references.
By the way, Machiavelli is not difficult to read and is very instructive. Machiavelli has been given a bad rap by someone essentially quoting him in sound bites out of context. The most famous, perhaps, is: in Chapter 15 of "The Prince." "Therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good."

Hmmm. Sounds pretty awful. The prince must learn to be not good! But this is conditioned on "and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case."

Was it good to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I think a good, logical argument could be made that "the necessity of the case" required doing what was bad, killing tens of thousands of innocent human beings. It certainly saved more Japanese lives that would have been lost if US forces invaded the Japanese mainland.

For me the key point in Chapter 15 is "A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must necessarily come to grief among so many who are not good."

Well, enough of my pedantry. If you like to read and you are interested in politics, spending time reading Machiavelli's "Prince" (100 pages -- a quick read) or "Discourses" (440 pages) is definitely mind expanding and fun.

Last edited by Alsatian; 11-09-2019 at 07:23 AM.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Cub Slayer View Post
I'll join your topical deviation and reject the notion that affluence is debilitating. Affluence is empowering. That includes the power to choose to be debilitated. If you're rich, you can survive being stupid whereas the same stupidity by a poor person could be fatal.

In my experience, the affluent embrace the spectrum of personal outcomes. For many, affluence provides the power to achieve greatness. But, as a subset covered by your classical thought comment, some affluent people choose the path of "foolish and incautious". Such an outcome is not preordained or even more likely, but it is possible. Hollywood is replete with morons who, absent their wealth, would probably be lying in a gutter.
I don't disagree with you, but I'm not sure you're addressing the proposition. No, affluence does not necessarily CAUSE silliness and imprudence. It may rather ENABLE silliness and imprudence. I'm affluent but I don't think I am silly and imprudent, at least not to an extreme degree. I'm struggling to explain what I observe, and people being enabled by affluence to be silly is at least a plausible explanation. And, of course, not everyone IS silly and imprudent. Maybe there is another explanation, that is people taking the liberty to shoot their mouths off about stuff they don't know about, which is always possible and is always likely to result in silliness. If I start venturing opinions on best practices for quilting I'm probably going to utter silly mistakes.

So, I admit it is just a theory, just a possible explanation among an unknown number of alternative explanations. I have thought about this proposition a fair amount, enough that I have contemplated a possible corrective. I think that studying classical writers -- ancient Greek writers, ancient Roman writers -- can act as a corrective. That classic literature is chock full of changes of fortune, people making foolish mistakes and suffering. I think if you read that literature deeply and sincerely it tends to immunize you, at least partially, from foolishness. I include Machiavelli in this group, although he is not technically a classical writer. Unfortunately our educational institutions have totally discarded reading the classic writers of antiquity or even of the Renaissance.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:59 AM
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I have read "The Prince". Twice. I'm a big fan of Machiavelli, but don't retain details as you apparently do.
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Old 11-09-2019, 08:53 AM
  #17  
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I think the problem is that peeople aren't being held accountable for lying about others. The media are supposed to investigate annd vet this stuff instead of helping to fabricate it. For that, they should be fired. And slimy politicians like Schiff should be removed from office for lying on the record in office. Without consequences and penalties for bad behavior, a lot these ethically challenged people won't stopp their bad behavior.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:18 AM
  #18  
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Very true. Failure to punish bad behavior only begets more of it.
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Old 11-09-2019, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Cub Slayer View Post
I have read "The Prince". Twice. I'm a big fan of Machiavelli, but don't retain details as you apparently do.
There is a different reason for my finding passages in Machiavelli. I took detailed notes when I last read these books -- Spring 2018. So it is not my memory but my notes that know these quotes. I do recall such and such an idea is there, though, and use the notes for back-up.
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Old 11-11-2019, 04:12 PM
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