The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

SUPERFLUOUS

It should surprise none of us that if we have adopted a position, philosophy or view of life, we naturally believe that it is the “right” way to view the world and ourselves.  By definition, therefore, any other position, philosophy or view of life is, of course, the “wrong” way to view life.  That might in large measure explain why there seems to be so much contention in our world – and perhaps there always has been. If I’m right and you don’t subscribe to my beliefs, opinions or views, you are clearly a muddle-headed person with no grasp on reality.

But what if we made a sincere effort to set aside our own views and try to get into the other person’s mindset and, setting aside our preconceived conclusions, attempted to see the world through his eyes?

There is something inside us, or at least inside me, which resists doing this in a sincere and wholehearted manner.  After all, I’ve been viewing myself and the world in a particular way as a result of my upbringing, schooling and many years of observing how the real world works – at least as far as it affects me.  But in this post, I’m going to attempt to set that aside and see how a person who has a life view that is diametrically opposite mine might think.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific document to which a person might turn to get a clear grasp of what the progressive platform is.  No doubt much of what Karl Marx wrote in “Das Kapital” or Mao penned in his “Little Red Book” have been modernized to eliminate that which might have sounded good in theory but didn’t work out so well in practice.  So in a respect, the easiest and perhaps most objective way to define what it means to believe in a “progressive/liberal” philosophy, is to examine the issues that subscribers who self-identify as belonging to that movement find most important and to which they devote their efforts to bring about.

Perhaps the most coherent way to understand the liberal philosophy is to speak of it in terms of large generalities rather than individual instances.  By that I mean, there is more attention paid to groups or classes than there is to individuals.  The outrage that exists when liberals discuss capital punishment, as an example, is less focused on the person who was executed than it revolves around the disproportionate number of minorities who are subject to it.

The execution is not an expression of society’s ridding itself of a murderer.  Rather, the liberal views this as yet another example of how a racist society has meted out yet another “injustice” – first, through the police apprehending the person – possibly using racial profiling; second, through the court system in which a black man, for example, simply cannot get a “fair trial”; and finally, through the white racist system exacting its ultimate retribution – an expression of its contempt for minorities generally.

Returning to my premise that the liberal mind thinks in broad brush strokes, it often defines people not in terms of the person himself, but rather in terms of how that individual makes up a part of a collective group to which he or she is assigned.  That is why we do not consider the plight of the individual inner city black person who is condemned to a life of ignorance because of lack of education or has a shorter life span than his black suburban counterpart, whether that is due to poorer health care, diet or violence.  All of these situations the liberal attributes to a society that is inherently racist.  And the successful black man or woman is not only summarily dismissed as an aberration but is actively derided by those who view inner city blacks as victims because their success suggests that the narrative is wrong.

This mindset is clearly evident throughout the liberal philosophy.  It is not merely the black minority that is a focus of liberal attention.  Women, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, the poor, those working for minimum wage all are further examples of those whom the liberal views as “oppressed.”  And that further culminates in yet another world view about the most oppressed and abused of all – our planet Earth.

If we accept that President Obama is presently the spokesman for the liberal movement (though according to some not liberal enough), we should take heed from his announcement that in his view the greatest threat to the world is “climate change.”  If we acknowledge that statement as one which accurately reflects reality, all other issues lose their importance.  After all, if we “kill off our environment” making it uninhabitable for mankind to continue on, then the plight of the poor, the minority, one gender or people of a particular sexual orientation all pale in terms of significance since mankind will have succeeded in eliminating itself.

At the heart of the “global warming” thesis is the assertion that it is humanity who is impacting our environment at a level greater than the Earth can accommodate through natural change and response.  Clearly, the more people that there are, the greater the impact on our environment is likely to be.  If we ask the question, is there a common theme in the liberal narrative which is consistent – the answer to that question is, “Yes.”

While we await science to develop significant sources of green energy which can be implemented and which can seriously impact our dependence on traditional carbon based fuels, it is clear that overpopulation has its impact not only on the environment but in the daily lives of people both in this country and globally.  According to the United Nations, about 21,000 people, the majority of whom are children, die each day because of malnutrition or because of nutrition related reasons.  Obviously, we either produce an insufficient amount of food or simply do not have the foresight to know how to deploy it to those most in need.  To look at this from a totally clinical perspective, had those people never been born, that would have eliminated the suffering that they endured in their brief lives.  Might this clinical analysis be at the foundation of the liberal philosophy?

Consider two issues which are currently in the vanguard of liberal talking points – “Women’s rights to make determinations regarding their bodies,” (which primarily revolves around the issue of reproductive rights) and the endorsement of a gay or lesbian lifestyle as a matter of equality.  We know with certainty that abortion results in the “non-production” of another human life and we also know that if a person follows an exclusively homosexual life style that will also result in no new people being born.  Might that explain why endorsing both of these would be consistent with the greater picture – the desire to minimize mankind’s impact on our planet through population control and reduction?

If we view the matter of population in an historical context, it is simple to make an argument that the reason that there were proscriptions against homosexuality that appear in the Bible.  Consider a Hebrew population, beset by hordes of enemies on all sides.  The most effective way to survive was by encouraging a large population.  But today, we don’t have a lack of people but rather a superfluity of them.  And those who are most expendable are those who contribute least to society – but rather take the most from it – specifically, the uneducated and the poor.  We see this in many of the conversations about illegal immigrants from Central America making their way into the country today.

When the waves of immigrants came to this country in the late 19th and early 20th century, they were also largely uneducated.  But the country willing absorbed them because there were many unskilled jobs that needed them.  Similarly, the blacks who had been imported originally to work as slaves in the agricultural fields served a purpose at that time.  But most unskilled positions whether in infrastructure or agriculture have been eliminated by mechanization.  Whether intentionally or unwittingly, the progressive agenda of population limitation seems to work.  It is the poor and minorities who abort a significantly higher proportion of future generations than do whites or Asians – while at the same time the progressives continue to make their case as the champions of the unheralded.

There is a possible and reasonable conclusion about how we might tie this
“gift package” together under one large bow – saving earth through population reduction; effectively attacking the question of malnutrition and eliminating those who are condemned for lack of skills to work, if at all, at the lowest income margins of society.  No doubt the progressive movement, if they have not specifically iterated it, have at least considered it.  That is offering people a stipend and an annual lifetime income at a reasonable level if they are willing to undergo voluntary sterilization.

The problems caused by overpopulation did not suddenly erupt on the scene recently but have, through the natural laws of mathematics been developing over time.  Other than through an atomic war or a pandemic, we will not resolve that issue overnight.  But as horrifying and Orwellian as a voluntary program might seem, it is not too hard to imagine a “progressive Utopia” in which the state finally triumphs over the individual and what might have once been a voluntary option becomes a mandatory compulsion.  We’ve seen that in other societies before.  Hopefully, we will not see it here in America.

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Comments on: "SUPERFLUOUS" (22)

  1. Reblogged this on Two Heads are Better Than One and commented:
    A wonderful and thoughtful post, from an old friend of ours….

  2. Hi Juwanna. I came here to read Superfluous at the reliable suggestion of JTR (one half of two very smart heads).

    I think you’ve performed a great exercise in attempting to weave together various threads of Progressivism to try seeing the broader pattern and understand its motives and goals. At various times over my 2 year blogging journey I have tried to similarly envision and describe the left’s philosophy. Most of the time, my left-leaning commenters have said I’m just contriving shallow caricatures of their views and then beating up on them. I think I’ve tried to be fair, as you have tried. But the best we can probably do is to be “clinical” (a word you used).

    I believe a characteristic of those on the left is that they are idealistic and they follow their emotions and intuitions. They are rarely realistic and analytical. So I think that’s why I am apparently so poor at articulating their vision — because I lack their characteristic passion for unlimited idealism. I just can’t fake it — it’s not in my heart. And I don’t philosophize from my heart anyway…my realism comes from my brain. I can only be clinical, which doesn’t sound very convincing to a left-leaning reader — as compared to the philosophers, politicians, and media pundits they’re used to listening to.

    It will be interesting to see if you receive any comments from those on the left about whether you’ve correctly captured the essence of liberalism. I have added myself to your followers, so I can hear more from you.

    I have another comment to offer about Superfluous, but I will provide it separately.

    – Jeff

    • Thank you for your comment, Jeff and welcome. I hope I can live up to yours and JTR’s expectations.

      Actually, I think of myself as a very emotional person. I come from that sort of family environment. A good example would be an old post called, “Just Add A Little Water To The Soup.” You might enjoy it.

      I believe that the left “collectively” think “collectively” and that positions are accepted, adopted and advanced without emotion – in the most clinical manner. While they find specific examples using real people to make a point (the recent executions that did not go as scheduled) being one example. I read numerous comments in The Huffington Post which went on to castigate “right wing murders” and their primitive behavior – yet not one comment showed any grief at the “suffering” that the executed convict experienced. These comments were passionate – in advancing the agenda – but totally devoid of humanity.

      I look forward to your additional comment on the post. Frankly, I hesitated over several days before posting it. While I’m not averse to controversy – I wondered if this might have been a little over the line. Even though, as always, I believe everything I wrote.

  3. Juwanna, I think you’ve done a good job of piecing many of the major clues together to reach your theory about the overall goal of Progressivism: “Saving the earth through population reduction; effectively attacking the question of malnutrition and eliminating those who are condemned for lack of skills to work, if at all, at the lowest income margins of society.”

    But I think there’s a couple further steps that can be taken to summarize it even more broadly. I believe that those who are deeply committed to the Progressive movement believe that man and his communities can be successfully evolved to become a perfected, uniform, safe, predictable, homogenized society. They think that human existence can be perfected, and their efforts to achieve that goal know no constraints. They believe a master plan is achievable, if the right human masterminds are given free reign to construct the perfect society, and if each citizen sacrifices their individuality and submits to the collective plan.

    You have identified most of the varieties that the control-seeking zeal of Progressives seem to fall into, but there are others that don’t fit within your partial conclusion you’ve drawn (about population control, malnutrition, and unskilled workers). For example, the left’s tendency towards pacifism in the face of war, and their tendency for lenient consequences for criminals (even heinous ones). But these and other examples can be included if you broaden your hypothesis outward just a bit, and say that Progressives just seek a perfected society in general, and they truly believe it’s achievable.

    I would broadly summarize the opposition to Progressivism as follows: Mankind is NOT perfectible. All human flaws (and their consequences) are not solvable. Humans who are given power to control others’ lives are corruptible. So the institutions of a society must be constructed and governed in ways that recognize these absolutely unfixable flaws in mankind. Society’s institutions must be operated in ways that protect humans from their unpreventable desire to infringe on each others’ unalienable rights. We have to assure governments are subservient to the people (consent of the governed), and that lawful power is spread out in ways that enable checks and balances that can expose and deal with the power-abusers.

    One of my favorite quotes from the Founding Fathers is this one by James Madison in the Federalist Papers #51: “It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices [as Constitutional chains] should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? … If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. [But lacking these] in framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

    Collectivism gives too much power to too few corruptible people, and removes too many protections and avenues for recourse from all the masses.

    Juwanna, you said, “Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific document to which a person might turn to get a clear grasp of what the progressive platform is.” But there is an excellent book that I can recommend to you that comes pretty close to accomplishing that goal. It is called A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles. It is by Dr. Thomas Sowell, and was originally published in 1987. But please get the revised edition, from 2007. He compiles the views of several dozen political philosophers from the left and the right, going back several centuries. And he shows the common threads for both sides, as well as directly contrasting them in a number of specific head-to-head categories.

    Here is a teaser. It’s the opening paragraph of the book:

    “One of the curious things about political opinions is how often the same people line up on opposite sides of different issues. The issues themselves may have no intrinsic connection with each other. They may range from military spending to drug laws to monetary policy to education. Yet the same familiar faces can be found glaring at each other from opposite sides of the political fence, again and again. It happens too often to be coincidence and it is too uncontrolled to be a plot. A closer look at the arguments on both sides often shows that they are reasoning from fundamentally different premises. These different premises – often implicit – are what provide the consistency behind the repeated opposition of individuals and groups on numerous, unrelated issues. They have different visions of how the world works.”

    – Jeff

    • Hi again, Juwanna. I wanted to let you know that I expanded some of our discussion here into an article of my own: Groping for Utopia. I hope you’ll consider reading it. Thank you for stimulating the thoughts.
      – Jeff

      • Thanks, Jeff. I definitely will read your article today. Glad I got someone’s brain cells going. Actually, I’m delighted that I ran into someone WITH functioning brain cells. I was beginning to despair!

  4. When I was a teenager (that was over 40 years ago), I read a science fiction book that essentially encouraged homosexuality as a means of population control. Therefore, at least some of the “progressive/liberal” ilk must clearly see that link.

    Why do those of the “progressive/liberal” philosophy see people as groups? I don’t think there is a pat answer, but I can suggest several reasons. I think it comes down to seeing others as objects.
    1. In modern American, many worship the following idols: self, state, stuff, and sex. If we worship our self, then others exist for our use. If worship the state, then everyone exists for the use of the state. if we worship stuff, then we see others as a means to getting more stuff. And if we worship sex, then other people are sex toys.
    2. When we perceive our world, we can see there are more people in it that we can relate to personally. So we naturally put people into classes. We can easily forget that the classes we create are artificial, just oversimplifications. Whether we like it not, the differences between individuals with a “class” generally have more significance that the class itself.
    3. “Progressive/Liberal” politicians create identity groups to pit us against each other. The corporate news media, trying to get their candidate elected go along with this. There are huge financial stakes involved. The government spending that revolves around the factional warfare in our society is in the trillions per year. Hence we have been indoctrinated to see those not in our identity group as fully human. Instead, they are “them.” The enemy.

    • Thank you for taking the time to offer your insightful comment.

      It is probably a natural thing for all of us to “group” things under one name. That is, in large measure, a limitation developed by a species which uses only about ten percent of its brain, to accomodate itself to an easy to follow world view. Each of us if asked to “Picture a cow” in our mind could easily do that. We could picture one, two, five, perhaps ten individual cows. But if asked to picture 365 cows, most of us would be lost. Of course, most of us are quite content with the grouping we call “cows.” The cow rancher might be more inquisitive and ask whether the cows are Guernseys or Longhorns or yet another variety. Of course, there is a danger in this sort of grouping which may lead to comments like, “All blacks are …” or “All gay people are ..” or “All Republicans are …”.

      I completely agree with you that for most liberals, tangible “things” are at the forefront in terms of defining their world. If a person views life from the standpoint of materialism alone, it is understandable that they find a comfort zone in which “right” and “wrong” can be re-defined as “have” and “have not.” The problem with this dialectic is that the liberal philosophy inherently believes that “there is only so much to go around” and refuses to consider the notion that real wealth need not be re-distributed but can actually be created.

      There is a reason that the prevailing philosophy in America on how to become wealthy takes two paths. The first is, “Win the lottery.” The second is, “File a lawsuit.” Adam Smith debunked the first as a viable option in “The Wealth of Nations.” The second seems to be doing quite well.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful comment.

  5. Thank you, Jeff for your thoughtful follow up comment. I generally agree with you and think I might have added some of the same points you made but for consideration of brevity. It’s difficult to know how much a particular reader wants to absorb in a given post before losing interest. However, I was particularly struck by one of your statements:

    “They believe a master plan is achievable, if the right human masterminds are given free reign to construct the perfect society … “

    If we accept the notion that mankind is inherently “challenged” both in terms of genius and morality (the conservative view) then it is unlikely that we will find a person or group of persons who will ever have the capability of developing that master plan – particularly in a democratic society. It is clear that those who choose to participate in the electoral process typically vote for those to whom they can best relate and whom they believe will bring them personally the greatest good. So if the electorate is inherently flawed as individuals, those they select to represent them will naturally have those same characteristics – and the power for self-aggrandizement as well.

    There is one glaring flaw in the liberal philosophy which you point out in reference to pacifism and individual execution. The two would seem to have the same basis – an abhorrence of violence. But the real basis is a pervasive belief in lack of accountability. I would not so much describe the philosophy in the Quaker style and meaning of pacifism as I would call it an avoidance of taking a position and therefore attempting to escape accountability. A lack of accountability is at the heart of the progressive view. Even the criminal who is executed was not, to their thinking, “accountable” for his act. “Someone else, somewhere along the way helped him to become what he became,” to paraphrase the president.

    This naturally leads us to ask the question, “If no one is ever at fault, then clearly no one is ever responsible.” And the corollary, “If someone succeeds, then it was society’s influence and direction which made that happen.”

    It would appear from the way in which this administration has handled a myriad of events over the past five and one half years that society generally is not doing a very effective job in identifying and electing people who are the great panacea and the geniuses to bring the liberal agenda to life. Or perhaps, this is as much as we can reasonably expect.

    • Juwanna, you said: “Even the criminal who is executed was not, to their thinking, “accountable” for his act.

      That is a great observation. Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was one of the prominent members of the unconstrained view of humanity that believed that man is perfectible. In fact, his view was expressed as follows: “Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.” He believed that society’s problems were not due to nature or man, but instead due to the constraints and flaws of society’s institutions. He taught that the imperfections of government were the only perennial source of the vices of mankind.

      Another prominent philosopher of the unconstrained vision, the Frenchman Nicolas de Condorcet (1743-1794), said the following in his posthumously-published Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Spirit [or Mind in some translations]: “Is there any vicious habit, any practice contrary to good faith, any crime, whose origin and first cause cannot be traced back to the legislation, the institutions, the prejudices of the country wherein this habit, this practice, this crime can be observed?”

      One last example is the English philosopher William Godwin’s (1756-1836) An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice published in 1793. Here is a paraphrase of several quotes from that book: “The criminal is seen as a miserable victim. First,of the special circumstances which provoked the crime, and then of people with a lust for punishment. The criminal’s misfortunes entitle him to something better than the supercilious and unfeeling neglect he is likely to receive. The death penalty, especially, imposed on these forlorn and deserted members of the community highlights the iniquity of civil institutions. True, the criminal inflicted harm on others, but this was due to circumstances — these circumstances being the only distinction between him and the highest members of the society. Executions are simply cold-blooded massacres that are perpetrated in the name of criminal justice. Punishment as a trade-off is barbaric, for there is a solution at hand: rehabilitation. Punishment may change a man’s behavior, but it cannot improve his sentiments. Punishment leaves him a slave, devoted to an exclusive self-interest, and actuated by fear, the meanest of the selfish passions. Were he treated properly, his reformation would be almost infallible. That is, he would revert to a natural state of being unable to harm anyone, once he really understood what he was doing.”

      This naive utopianism is still parroted in modern times. For example, Ramsey Clark’s (1927 – ) book Crime in America, published in 1970, included the following: “Rehabilitation must be the goal of modern corrections. Every other consideration should be subordinate to it. To rehabilitate is to give health, freedom from drugs and alcohol, to provide education, vocational training, understanding and the ability to contribute to society. […] Rehabilitated, an individual will not have the capacity—cannot bring himself—to injure another or take or destroy property. […] The end sought by rehabilitation is a stable individual returned to community life, capable of constructive participation and incapable of crime. From the very beginning, the direction of the correctional process must be back toward the community. It is in the community that crime will be committed or a useful life lived.”

      If you think about it, Progressives are subliminally forced to believe in rehabilitation as the #1 goal of the criminal justice system. Why? Because to believe otherwise would admit that man is inescapably flawed, and that their utopian dream does not contain a solution to criminal behavior. So they ideologically encourage us to Have Mercy on the Criminal, and ironically their misguided vision results in the decay of law and order in western societies.

      This is one of the countless paradoxes of progressivism. It’s flawed premise of man’s perfectibility is its own demise. Unfortunately, its naive promises are so damn easy for politically unsophisticated people to vote for, over and over. (Which is itself one of the paradoxes.)

      All of these references (except the Elton John/Bernie Taupin song) were brought to my knowledge via my dog-eared copy of Thomas Sowell’s A Conflict of Visions.

      – Jeff

      • Thank you for your interesting and thoughtful response.

        The late psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Szasz made several observations on the points you raise.

        “Punishment is now unfashionable … because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer meaningles collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility.”

        “The stated goal of our prison system is to reform the individual committed to its keeping. The problem is that most of those who spend time in jail have never been habilitated to society in the first place.”

        Always glad to hear from you, Jeff.

  6. Very good post and great commentary. As to Citizen Tom’s comment, I seem to remember reading the same book. But the offshoot was society figured out that the homosexual lifestyle was killing off the population and was a bad thing.

    The progressives have been putting forth population control since the days of Margaret Sanger and her belief in birth control and abortion, chiefly aimed at minority populations, but also towards people or family lines with genetic defects. The forced sterilization in rural North Carolina back in the 1930’s is a good example.

    • Thanks for taking your time to review the post and offer your comment.

      I must confess, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club back in 1957 when I was a wee waif (couldn’t resist the offer – six hard cover books for ten cents plus a certificate entitling me to a trip to the moon when commercial flights became available). I’m still waiting to cash in on that.

      I have read a lot of sci-fi in my time but I’ve obviously missed the book to which you both refer.

      As to your point on homosexuality and population control, we don’t need to turn to Asimov or Heinlin – merely Putin.

      Could his virulent anti-gay posture be due to Russia’s declining population?

  7. Paul H. Lemmen said:

    Reblogged this on Dead Citizen's Rights Society.

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