On 11/5/2013 9:44 PM, Chris de Morsella wrote:
Brent -- Community & compromise are noble ideals, but in practice the exercise of power
& realpolitick -- as it has in fact been practiced through history -- has far more to do
with facilitating and providing legal cover for predation and securing unwarranted
privilege for a reigning elite... be they generals, bankers, comrades, or cardinals.
Does it matter?
I agree it does come down to community, but community for whom exactly? Is this
community reserved for a small privileged elite dominating the resources of a planet
being driven over the cliff into the greatest extinction since the Cretaceous--Paleogene
Or, if not how far does the circle of community extend? How far till "they" become
identified as the "other" and the world is seen through the optic of us and them?
I agree with your premise that community and compromise are both virtuous and necessary
-- on a world with 7+ billion people rocketing towards 9 billion (personally don't see
how the bio systems of the planet will hold up under our relentless onslaught so I have
my doubts we will get there).
I don't have a particular focus on government as the repository of evil; any system of
great power will become an engine of corruption. It is the concentration of power into
small entrenched (and often generationally inherited) elites that creates the kinds of
social, cultural, economic structures that promote a rapacious, non-thinking yeast like
behavior in large masses of people.
It has always been and remains true that power corrupts and great power corrupts
greatly. Look at the arc of culture after culture... from Pharaonic Egypt, Sumeria, the
Olmecs, the Indus river valley civilizations onwards... the same basic story line of
ever increasing concentrations of power as a centralizing elite became ascendant,
followed by stagnant periods preceding ultimate decline and collapse. The elites of all
the ages, over and over again like some kind of ground hog day joke on us all become cut
off insulated and shielded from reality by layers of servants, courtiers and advisors.
Look at the feeble minded inbred aristocracies of the ancien régimes of the various
courts of Europe immediately preceding WWI, or Hitler (and the Nazi elites) believing
almost to the end that things were going well on the Eastern front... or the court of
Power cuts itself off from reality and those who wield it become drunk with power; it
goes to their heads.
Power IS the great social problem. As entrenched power becomes established in any
culture that cultures days -- and brilliance -- are surely numbered for power will
devour itself as it crushes those unlucky beneath and sucks the air out of everything.
First, you're guilty of extreme cherry picking. According to your view of history we're
continually degenerating and falling under the power of fools and knaves, every elite is
weak and evil - and yet our well being has continually increased. Look at the arc of
culture under Cyrus the Great, Socrates, Aristotle, Solon, Fredrich the Great, Voltaire,
Machiavelli, Elizabeth I, Locke, Jefferson, Bismarck, FDR,.... According to you there has
been nothing but "ever increasing concentrations of power as a centralizing elite became
ascendant, followed by stagnant periods preceding ultimate decline and collapse." So
things must by now must be much worse than under the Mesopotamian kings. Are they?
Second, you do not consider any counter arguments to your own. If power is such a problem
why do we tolerate it? Has power no uses, no upside? Suppose you live in a society in
which no one yielded any power to any leader for any purpose? How would your football
team play without a coach and a quarterback?
Basically, you're just kvetching. Do you think we would be better served to have
government run by people who did not want to exercise power?
"If one desires to consciously change the world, one must first become conscious of how it
---Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings, 1977
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