Friday, December 23, 2016

Disestablishing an Establishment?

 Although she passed away in 1982, Ayn Rand's philosophical insights proved prescient to today and explain the real reason the Democrat and Republican establishments lost the 2016 election to political outsider Donald Trump and how the intellectual establishment got the election so wrong.
"They still think that it is daring, idealistic and unconventional to denounce the rich. They still believe that money is the root of all evil--except government money, which is the solution to all problems. The intellectual Establishment is frozen on the level of those elderly "leaders" who were prominent when the system of governmental "encouragement" took hold. By controlling the schools, the "leaders" perpetuated their dogma and gradually silenced the opposition."(from "The Establishing of an Establishment" in her book "Philosophy: Who Needs It.)
This was written in 1972. True then and true today. The Democrats still try to peddle worn out notions like the rich are evil, white people are evil, the businessman is the workers' worst enemy and they care about the poor and needy. The GOP theme was always "me too." Americans are now seeing through phony postures and lies. They are waking up to the fact that both parties have an establishment concerned only with serving itself instead of them. And they see the intellectual establishment in the media supporting the political establishment mostly of the Democrats and tolerating the GOP as long as it's willing to maintain its punching bag status.

One of the characteristics of an establishment is the creation of an orthodoxy, a set of beliefs or narratives universally accepted and from which members are not allowed to dissent. Thus establishments are usually hostile to outsiders. But what happens when such an establishment is challenged by an outsider? Rand speaks to that too:

"This kind of psycho-epistemology (concrete bound method of thinking-ME) works so long as no part of it is challenged. But all hell breaks loose when it is--because what is threatened then is not a particular idea, but that mind's whole structure. The hell ranges from fear to resentment to stubborn evasion to hostility to panic to hatred." (from the essay "The Missing Link" in the above mentioned book)
That hell is what we saw on the faces of the media on election night and the following days of protests. What's being rejected by voters is governmental encouragement of how we should live our lives. I don't think all Trump voters see it in these explicit terms. It may be more like an appealing feeling. It remains to be seen whether Trump will withstand the push back from today's establishments.

Here is why: the Democratic Party prides itself on being the party of altruism, the morality of human sacrifice. It claims to be the moral party willing to force citizens to make the sacrifices altruism requires them to make. Republicans shout they just want kinder and gentler sacrifices.

But Trump bases his 'Make America Great Again' on just practical grounds, not moral ones. 'Making better deals' is his solution to being great again. The leftist media will assault all his policies as being immoral. Will he defend his positions or attack theirs on moral grounds? I for one don't think he knows how. That takes a knowledge of principles, moral principles.

Trump could go a long way towards a moral stand if he would say something like "When I say "America first" I mean you first, your life first, your family first." I don't think he will though.

Today the government is encouraging us to let it control all aspects of our lives; transportation, education, health care, insurance, financing and virtually everything. Fortunately, for now at least, it is still up to us. Thanks to free speech, politicians still have to persuade us to vote for them. But even this Constitutionally protected right-speech-is under attack today with calls for outlawing so-called "hate speech" and "offensive speech." If these are actually outlawed, complete censorship will soon follow. Censorship is an absolute requirement to establish a dictatorship.

The above essay "The Establishing of an Establishment" on governmental encouragement, mostly via government grants, was a real eye opener for me. It shows how an establishment becomes one and thus the urgent need to get the government out of the encouragement business. I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It's Similarities not Differences, that Are Important.

The Oct 20th editorial page of the Detroit News carried an oped by Bankole Thompson whose columns appear twice a week and is the host of  "Redline with Bankole Thompson" on super Station 910 AM. The oped is titled "Colleges must tackle hate." Evidently, there were "racist materials and grafitti that were discovered at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti." Mr Thompson reports:

"The message from the fliers discovered Sept. 26 at UM was to make black students feel like they don't belong.
"The attempt to torment black students and make them feel inferior to their white counterparts was also reflected in the KKK graffiti found Sept 20 on an administrative building at EMU.
"Because these racist incidences are happening at a time when colleges are being asked to make inclusion a cornerstone of their mission, it is all the more important for university administrators to have a plan in place to deal with such issues."
 

Racism is irrational no mater where practiced and should be opposed everywhere. But to read the entire oped one comes away with the idea that the cause of this racism is hate, thus the call to tackle it. This is misguided. Hatred is the consequence of racism not its cause. When found on a university campus it would be hoped that learned professors would publicly and precisely define racism and begin calling out the perps for being the anti mind and anti life second handers they really are.

Blaming hatred for causing racism does nothing to alleviate it. Hatred is an emotion and like all emotions, has a specific cause. That cause is always a fundamental idea one regards as true. As author Ayn Rand pointed out:

"Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage--the notion that a man's intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.
       Racism claims the content of a man's mind (not his cognitive apparatus, but its content is inherited; that a man's convictions, values and character are determined before he is born, by physical factors beyond his control."  (from her essay "Racism" in her book The Virtue of Selfishness)
She also wrote:

"There is no surer way to infect mankind with hatred--brute, blind, virulent hatred--than by splitting it into ethnic groups or tribes. If a man believes that his own character is determined at birth in some unknown, ineffable way, and that the characters of all strangers are determined in the same way--then no communication, no understanding, no persuasion is possible among them, only mutual fear, suspicion and hatred." (from her essay "Global Balkanization" in her book "Return of the Primitive")
Observe here that it is racial determinism that is the cause which produces hatred, the consequence.

 But today's academia and news media are going at it backwards attacking hatred, the effect, while ignoring racial determinism, the cause. If there were no animosity, racism or hatred in a widely diverse population, policies with a laser like focus on everyone's differences like multiculturalism, egalitarianism, diversity, inclusiveness and race consciousness just to name some, would create that hatred and that is what we are seeing today.

It is not differences that need to be focused upon but rather similarities, the things all students have in common. So the question becomes what does our form of government say all students have in common? The answer of course is inalienable individual rights which all men have equally under the law. That is why that statue of the lady holding the scales of justice is blindfolded. She is not to see our differences, pay no attention to our race, nationality, skin color, or ancestry. Her only concern is whether someone's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was violated or not? That's it.

I know that the noble ideal of equality under the law excluded the black man in our early history, but thanks to free speech being protected slavery was eventually repealed. Again because of free speech being protected the Jim Crow laws were eventually repealed as well. This last point demonstrates the extreme importance of free speech: when adamantly protected, injustice will be out there for all to see, debate and discuss and eventually truth will win out.

The right method to cooperation is to focus on all the values a diverse population shares. But first we must abandon the wrong method of focusing on everyone's differences. This means that the above mentioned policies of multiculturalism, egalitarianism, diversity, inclusiveness, race consciousness and others must be purged from our primary, secondary and university schools.

Now is the best time to start.