Individuals and groups?

The definition of a leftist intellectual is that he/she is one who loves all humankind, but doesn’t know many people that he likes. Do we start with individuals or groups? The wonder of the type of Christianity that helped shape American ethical understanding is that it reconciled both. People achieved (or not) individual redemption, but did so in the context of the group.

It simultaneously avoids anarchy when every man is for himself & tyranny where the group dominates the individual. Americans have stamped this into their cultural & political DNA. That is why we are such a generous nations when it comes to individual charity and volunteerism - a type of voluntary individually-based collective behavior - and why we traditionally have relied much less on official collectivism of government coercion. That is why our history has been different and generally better than others in the world for the last nearly two and a half centuries. Americans are very ready to help others, but we dislike being told what to do.

What seems a minor difference in outlook has significant practical effects. For most of our history, we have generally believed that groups have no rights beyond those brought to them by individual members. Individuals have the right to join and the right to leave any legitimate groups and have the right to refuse to be defined by their group membership.

The grand evil of the 19th and 20th Centuries was the subordination of individual identity to that of the group. This was one of the primary sins or Marxism and the Nazi movements. They were based on the idea of immutable groups. Marx's groups were social-economic, while Hitler's were racial-ethnic, but if you had the misfortune to be born into the wrong group you could be end up just as dead.

Both these evil ideologies were decisively discredited, ironically in the same place, with the fall of Berlin in 1945 and the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty-four years later. But some of the basic building blocks were not obliterated. Most modern societies continue to classify people immutably into groups based on their race and sometimes economic class & gender. AND they make legal distinction.

In a free society, the only thing that should matter is what people do. In other words, we can legitimately judge behaviors, not status.

If someone tells you that you cannot understand the problems of a particular race, gender or social class because you are not part of it, or if they say they represent any group like that, you are listening to the voice of tyranny, no matter how nice they sound.

The whole basis of our liberal (original use of term) order is that individual CAN though reason, literature, study or experience, put themselves in the shoes of others and understand each other. This is because truth is available to all individuals and there is no separate truth based on who you are.

I chose to ridicule the leftist intellectual in my first paragraph because I was thinking of the individual and group distinctions as well as the global versus the local solution. I believe that we should try local & individual solutions and that they will spread if they are good. This means I tolerate inequality, since any new innovation will certainly benefits some people more than others. I don't care about this because I care about individuals, not groups.

I worry about what I can directly control of influence and not much about the "big issues" about which I can do little. If we all do that, things usually work better.

All this came up when I was talking to a group of people about a wonderful (IMO) innovation that would help bring technical education to a larger number of people. My questions related to how it would work and how fast it could be rolled out. My more leftist colleague asked questions related to how this innovation could be made to be "fair" to the poor. I don't believe this is a completely invalid concern, but I think the most important thing is to make the improvements - create the new wealth - before we worry about the hypothetical fairness issues and how to distribute it.

I am reminded of all the gnashing of teeth about the digital divide. Some people were concerned that the Internet was unfair to the poor and wanted to slow its development until we could address the fairness issue. We never did and it didn't matter. Rapidly developing technologies made it available to anybody who wanted it and could use it.

Posted by Christine & John at March 17, 2013 10:24 PM
Comments
Comment #362990

“This is because truth is available to all individuals and there is no separate truth based on who you are.”

This particular statement stands out to me because I don’t think truth is available to all individuals. There are people who’s senses have been numbed to the point of where they believe there are no moral absolutes. For instance, abortion for any reason is ok in the liberal agenda. That would be one example. But turning back to the discussion of economic fairness many (not all) liberals would have you believe that fair isn’t fair until there are no more poor. However, the reason why Asian communities do far better economically than the majority of black or hispanic communities is because their value systems are different. There’s a greater emphasis on education coming from the family and a greater emphasis on two parent homes and keeping marriages in tact. These factors have devastating effects on economic situations, yet this is not emphasized on Watchblog or in the news. Yes, we should help the poor gain access to technology and quality schools, etc. etc. But so many of the broken homes start with careless decisions made within those walls. Are we talking about Uganda or poor communities in America? There’s a big difference. There are some disadvantages yes but personal accountability for one’s decisions has to remain as part of the equation. The good people from the black and hispanic communities will grab hold of opportunities and make something of themselves. But don’t be surprised that no matter what we do many will pass on opportunities and will continue to look for handouts.

Posted by: BZA at March 18, 2013 2:05 AM
Comment #363000

BZA

The truth is available to them, but they are unable or choose not to see it.

I understand the limits of the individual. I was too stupid to learn differential equations. But that truth was available.

Re single family homes etc - this is clearly true and I agree with you. Cultural and behavior factors count. That is one of the points I am trying to make.

But let’s dig a little. If we are talking black or Hispanic, clearly many do very well, which indicates that group membership is not the determining factor. Rather behaviors count.

Posted by: C&J at March 18, 2013 6:09 AM
Comment #363016


I believe that we should try local & individual solutions and that they will spread if they are good. This means I tolerate inequality, since any new innovation will certainly benefits some people more than others. I don’t care about this because I care about individuals, not groups.

I have been promoting the same idea for a very long time, C&J! Thank you. Local solutions can transfer to larger groups much more readily than one-size-fits-all solutions the left always dictate.

Your more leftist colleague’s questions relating to the innovation brings up interesting questions. Is your colleague poor and unable to afford the innovation and is that why he is concerned? Is he genuinely concerned about the poor enough to limit everyone’s access to this innovation? Or, is he simply looking for an excuse to be pessimistic in general and would complain about anything that is different?

I could see his point if he was poor and couldn’t afford the item, but I can’t understand the logic behind limiting the innovation to everyone. That defies economic logic and condemns the poor to the permanent loss of that technology. Is he willing to deny himself of this innovation because others don’t have the opportunity of immediate acquisition? I would call that “cutting off your nose to spite your face”, and categorize it in the destructive column. Perhaps, it is the leftist intellectual’s position to disagree with change because he didn’t think of it and therefore will not get credit for it.

Who knows the motives of the left. I think they are dishonest in their rhetoric. I think the leftist mentality stands in the way of local innovation. Let’s hope that changes before it destroys local solutions altogether and condemns all of us to the categorizing of the American People.

That aside, it’s great that you share my thoughts about local solutions and their ability to effect changes on a broader scale. I appreciate the recognition of this philosophy.

Posted by: Weary Willie at March 18, 2013 3:30 PM
Comment #363017


I’ve noted that your articles tend to be more toward the individual involved in daily life and struggle. Your interests seem to be more at the local level as opposed to a ‘Rush Limbaugh’. Like, would you write about your preference for one tax policy over another?
I’m right the opposite in that regard. Perceived problems at the local level do not drive me to blog. I’m all about the things ‘I can’t change’, personhood, CFR and tax policy. When I rail against corruption you will respond with something like ‘corporations are wunnerful, just some bad behavior’ going on, etc.

I don’t disagree with that but, where there is collusion between the corporations (people/individuals) and the gov’t regulators/representatives (people/individuals) to operate against me/others (people/individuals) I take off the gloves and flog the keyboard.

We are debating the age old problem of morality. Corp ‘a’ makes a few billion and works to help humanity in a positive way. Corp ‘b’ makes a few bil and works to subvert regs, monopolize, and do whatever is necessary to make it hard on the folks, like cornering the egg market and selling eggs for $100/each, etc.

Where you might go after the individuals/groups in corp ‘b’ I would want to go after the corpocracy. The ongoing J P Morgan thing could be a good example. Most corporations are more than 20 years of age and you can’t teach them morality. You can only hit them in their bank accounts. But, fining Google $7M for stealing peoples vitals when they are taking in $100M/day just doesn’t get the job done, IMO. So, the corpocracy needs to be taken to the woodshed, etc. Talk about seeing the world thru rose colored google glasses!!

Morality, as I see it, is engrained in an individual pre-adulthood. I believe it comes primarily through parents/lineage, religious teachings and basic education. If you ain’t got it by say, age 20 or so, you likely will go thru life lacking relative to some other folks. Perhaps, having a child or an epiphany would work to improve morality in some. I, myself, had an epiphany when FOX news trotted out Phil Gramm to enlighten us on the world economy or some such a few weeks back. Smoke still coming out of my ears over that one.

The once guiding principle of our society, morality, is on the wane as far as I can tell. A judge/counselor is telling the Steubenville rapists that ‘casual rape’ is no longer acceptable. 100,000 druggies/gang bangers roaming around in Chicago as the two previous governors sit in prison. A thriving $100M plus drug industry servicing the young folks in their quest for higher highs. Society now embracing LBGT’s, abortions, etc. which educators will begin to espouse as the way to go.

Those touting the gay lifestyle looks to the ‘fair and equal’ side of the issue, giving little credence to associated moral issues. We hear that gays are not a threat to young children while the gays seem attracted to organizations where children can be found in abundance, catholic priests and boy scout admins come to mind. My only experience with gays came when I was a teen in HS. A male teacher took a few FFA boys on an overnight camping trip. That night I took a flashlight and went up the river to raid a chicken house. With a plump one we headed back to camp and found the teacher sitting on a large rock masturbating with the kids looking on. Funny, but no one, even me, ever said a word. It was like a year later that a senior spoke out about some sexual advance and the teacher was moved on to another school. I assume that stuff can be worked out legally now so that the teacher can remain in place.

Religion, too, is in a decline across the country.

A quote from the link:
“We evangelicals must accept that our beliefs are now in conflict with the mainstream culture. We cannot change ancient doctrines to adapt to the currents of the day. But we can, and must, adapt the way we hold our beliefs — with grace and humility instead of superior hostility. The core evangelical belief is that love and forgiveness are freely available to all who trust in Jesus Christ. This is the “good news” from which the evangelical name originates (“euangelion” is a Greek word meaning “glad tidings” or “good news”). Instead of offering hope, many evangelicals have claimed the role of moral gatekeeper, judge and jury. If we continue in that posture, we will continue to invite opposition and obscure the “good news” we are called to proclaim.”

Then, there is Corpocracy. A few words needed here, too. With the economy in the tank, the gov’t is spending $78B/yr on food assistance for one third of the population. 25% un-underemployed and jobs scarce as hens teeth. But, to beat the workers into submission re wages the Corpocracy plans to legalize some millions of , no one knows how many, immigrants to compete for fewer resources. Granted the SBA provides loans and grants for the ‘underprivileged/minorities’ but that won’t ‘create’ any new jobs.

It’s not a left or right thing. It’s institutions and gov’t colluding to facilitate the well being/growth of institutions sans the interest of the people, or, better said, Corpocracy.

So, in challenging Corpocracy I am also working to uphold moral conviction. Which is another way of saying I’m being judgmental of individual behavior, as in corporate PERSONHOOD.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at March 18, 2013 5:22 PM
Comment #363018

Link for above post;

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/opinion/sunday/the-decline-of-evangelical-america.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Posted by: Roy Ellis at March 18, 2013 5:31 PM
Comment #363019

Roy

I believe in addressing problems that I can affect. I don’t believe that universal solutions are even possible.

I also don’t feel as aggrieved by corporations as you do. My experience with corporations is generally good. As with people, there are some bad ones, but the system generally works about as well as it can.

You say we get the corpocracy we deserve. I say that this is about as good as it gets. We have to do constant maintenance and things can get better and worse within a range, but modern America is very good.

I believe that a radical change would have a much better chance of making things worse than better, so I work to improve things on a smaller level.

Posted by: C&J at March 18, 2013 7:13 PM
Comment #363024

C&J, it’s all relative I would suggest. I don’t see where a new political party coming on the scene would be very radical, or a new tax policy, or REAL CFR, etc. Perhaps it depends on ones perspective or position in life.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at March 18, 2013 11:06 PM
Comment #363027

Roy

Evolutionary change is necessary and unavoidable. We welcome this. Radical changes are destructive and deadly. We need to be careful to know the difference.

What we have in America is a very good and relatively just system that produces wealth for most Americans. Some people portray this as some kind of monster society full of injustice and poverty. These people have a limited frame of reference. Their ignorance is dangerous if it leads to radical changes.

Posted by: C&J at March 19, 2013 6:14 AM
Comment #363029

C&J, evolution can be seen as radical change based on history or perspective. One could say we have been evolving over the past 50 years while some believe we have been undergoing radical change. Based on behavior, we have gone from the wealthiest nation to the most indebted nation over a 15 year period. If it took 200 years to achieve $1T of debt and we have gone to $16T in 12 years would that not be a radical change? Several big cities have revenue problems. Detroit is in the red by some $14B. The worst debtor cities are in Calif and Fla. By chance they have the most immigrants and are about to get more. Even as we blog we are being told that immigrants create jobs and are the way to our salvation. Man, that’s radical…


http://www.menshealth.com/fiscally-fit-man/debt-cities

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo5.htm

If we were to adopt a different tax code, say a VAT, like Europe I wouldn’t see that as radical. Adopting a trade VAT would do much to bring our trade deficit more into balance with Japan an China. As it is, new treaties being negotiated with Asia will only add to our trade deficit.

I adjourn with the comfort that Thomas Jefferson and several other long dead people would elect for a more radical approach.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at March 19, 2013 11:48 AM
Comment #363032

C&J wrote; “The grand evil of the 19th and 20th Centuries was the subordination of individual identity to that of the group.”

Amen to that brother. And, it continues even more vigorously into the 21st Century. Our Constitution speaks of individual rights and freedoms which now have been perverted by liberals to confer those rights and freedoms to groups. Political power is gained by identifying a problem affecting a few and legislating remedies to satisfy that particular group at the expense of all.

I have often read Mr. Daugherty and other liberals espousing the expenditure of great sums of borrowed money to stimulate our economy. They tell us in times of economic hardship we must deficit spend to spur the economy. I found this article by David Brooks; writing in the NY Times very interesting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/19/opinion/brooks-the-progressive-shift.html

” Today, liberalism seems to have changed. Today, many progressives seem to believe that government is the horse, the source of growth, job creation and prosperity. Capitalism is just a feeding trough that government can use to fuel its expansion.

For an example of this new worldview, look at the budget produced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus last week. These Democrats try to boost economic growth with a gigantic $2.1 trillion increase in government spending — including a $450 billion public works initiative, a similar-size infrastructure program and $179 billion so states, too, can hire more government workers.

Now, of course, liberals have always believed in Keynesian countercyclical deficit spending. But that was borrowing to brake against a downturn when certain conditions prevail: when the economy is shrinking; when debt levels are low; when there are plenty of shovel-ready projects waiting to be enacted; when there is a large and growing gap between the economy’s current output and what it is capable of producing.

Today, House progressives are calling for a huge increase in government taxing and spending when none of those conditions apply. Today, progressives are calling on government to be the growth engine in all circumstances. In this phase of the recovery, just as the economy is finally beginning to take off, these Democrats want to take an astounding $4.2 trillion out of the private sector and put it into government where they believe it can be used more efficiently.”

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 19, 2013 3:13 PM
Comment #363034

Roy Ellis writes; “The once guiding principle of our society, morality, is on the wane as far as I can tell.”

Yes, it most certainly is and seems to be directly proportional to the decline in religious belief and practice.

The human heart and soul yearns for a “greater power” to guide and govern behavior to the benefit of all. Major “God-based” religions have fulfilled this desire for thousands of years.

When evil men and governments rise to power such as Hitler, Stalin and others they eliminate God-based religion and substitute government as the higher power. We are now entering that period in Europe and the United States.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 19, 2013 3:30 PM
Comment #363044

Royal, agree people will always seek ‘a greater power’. Religion may decline but will assuredly pop back when things get near desperate. Recognizing the vast desolation throughout the universe should serve to keep people involved with religion.

Recently watched a ‘whodunnit’ where an otherwise seemingly sane fellow killed his co-worker female because she received a promotion and he didn’t.

Much of the decline we have experienced has come at the hands of the corpocracy, as I can tell. Goes back to this individual/group thing. Once upon a time most folks lived as a tight family unit in a small community environment, etc. Everybody knew everybody, problems included, and tended to look out for each other. Folks first gravitated to the smaller cities, then to the large, then to some other state and now, if you want a REAL job, to Asia, Brazil or some far flung outpost, sitting atop an oil rig, etc.

All the while the Corpocracy saying, ‘we’ll protect you’, no matter what comes. People gave up their ‘small farm’ independence for ‘structured living’ on the 25th floor, etc.

Read a recent WaPo article where one third of folks in Woonsocket, R.I. depend on SNAP or gov’t food/assistance programs, as do some 47M people residing in this country.
Article relates that the few jobs available are PT positions at grocery stores with hours clustered around the first of the month. Nothing much, economically, goes on in the town except for two or three days at the fist of the month when SNAP debit card accounts are refurbished. Folks are generally spent out by the middle of the month. Some stock their grocery carts and wait for midnight on the 1st to push their carts to the checker. I can’t find the article to link it, “hungering for a new month.”

But, corpocracy has worked to pull folks from the farm to the big city high rises with some assurance the gov’t would take care of things if it got bad. With several large cities on a short fuze we are going to soon get a front row seat as to how that might work during the bad times.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at March 19, 2013 9:22 PM
Comment #363052
The grand evil of the 19th and 20th Centuries was the subordination of individual identity to that of the group.

C&J, you forgot the big evil, corporations. The big ones where the individual is expected to subordinate his/her identity for the greater good of the company especially the CEO.

I chose to ridicule the leftist intellectual in my first paragraph because I was thinking of the individual and group distinctions as well as the global versus the local solution.

Here I thought you tried that lameness for political gain, to keep our minds off CPAC and the conservative intellectuals who were in attendance. But since you forgot the right wing collectives and the fascism that comes from them who knows?

When evil men and governments rise to power such as Hitler, Stalin and others they eliminate God-based religion and substitute government as the higher power.

History disagree with you Royal. For centuries Church was aligned with government until the American revolution that is. The church was part of the problem. Still is in many countries, Iran being one.
Keep believing that whiny Brooks while he tries pointing the finger at others to hide the problems with conservatism.

The once guiding principle of our society, morality, is on the wane as far as I can tell.

Roy morality, or the lack the of, is just more out in the open today, it is communicated faster. The idea that our fore fathers were some how more moral just shows how the Falwell’s and the Robertson’s as well as Royal were able to pull the wool over your eyes. People have been killed, murdered for years. Crooks and banksters have stolen for centuries ask Jesus. Drugs have been available for centuries, homosexuals have been around forever, in and out of favor.

Our business and spiritual leaders are the problem, IMHO, they are morally bankrupt and while they used to hide this for centuries it is more open now, perhaps that is what you are seeing.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 19, 2013 11:20 PM
Comment #363054

Speaking of groups and conservative intellectuals C&J here is one for you.

http://www.mediaite.com/online/watch-different-video-of-cpac-slavery-guy-puts-you-in-the-middle/

Posted by: j2t2 at March 19, 2013 11:42 PM
Comment #363074

j2t2

I am indeed sick of being called a racist. I am not. Unless the modern “racist” is one who wants to judge a person by the content of his/her character not the skin color, which I know seems a bit old fashioned to the “rights community”

It is time to put an end to this kind of crap.

Re corporations - you can choose to work there or not. I believe good leadership respects individuals but that individuals can in voluntary association subordinate their goals to those of an organization. The key is freedom. I know that is a tough concept for leftists.

Re fascism - as a AMERICAN conservative I oppose all forms of coercive collectivism, communist, fascist, Nazis or all others. I have no connection with these things except my history of fighting against them.

Posted by: C&J at March 20, 2013 6:08 PM
Comment #363078

C&J The group you are associated with, the conservatives, have many issues which result in the label racists being attached to them as the video amply shows. You are free, of course, to disassociate yourself from these people you do not have to subordinate yourself to them. The key is freedom, when you associate with with movement conservatives who try to sell others on how the slaves were better off being slaves and other such nonsense you can be mistaken for a racist. I know that is a tough concept for conservatives.

While I believe you do oppose all forms of coercive collectivism I find it odd that you can consider yourself a conservative the same as the CPAC crowd ,your group and your allies. They seem to be a coercive collective IMHO.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 20, 2013 7:54 PM
Comment #363079

j2t3 is a thinking man which is obvious when he writes;

“People have been killed, murdered for years. Crooks and banksters have stolen for centuries ask Jesus. Drugs have been available for centuries, homosexuals have been around forever, in and out of favor. Our business and spiritual leaders are the problem…”

I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live in the mind that could write this.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 20, 2013 8:15 PM
Comment #363112

Should be easy Royal, just imagine the mind that wrote this tripe “Amen to that brother. And, it continues even more vigorously into the 21st Century. Our Constitution speaks of individual rights and freedoms which now have been perverted by liberals to confer those rights and freedoms to groups. Political power is gained by identifying a problem affecting a few and legislating remedies to satisfy that particular group at the expense of all.” and you should be able to see what it is like !

Posted by: j2t2 at March 20, 2013 10:43 PM
Comment #363121

j2t2

I consider myself conservative mostly because I believe in restraint. I believe in this for individuals and government. We should usually not take as much as we can take. I also consider myself conservative because I oppose the kind of coercive government social engineering.

Some people who call themselves conservatives are not the same as I am. Generally speaking, however, liberals are even more different. I want to limit the use of government coercion. Liberals more often want to do it than conservatives, although they have “good” reasons.

I find racism on both sides. People like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are generally racists. Affirmative action programs are generally racist. These are generally liberal policies. They are institutional racism. Someday we will be ashamed of them and people like you will say they were conservative policies, just as you call government interventions like Jim Crow. I am consistent in that I oppose these sorts of government interventions.

So if someone says that a particular race should get different treatment legally, I think it is a bad thing.

Posted by: C&J at March 21, 2013 6:46 AM
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