Re: MD junk or politics on this list

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Sat Apr 03 2004 - 17:43:07 BST

  • Next message: "Re: MD (no subject)"

    Dear Wim,

    Your latest post contains so many ideas that I will have to respond only
    partially now. I hope to have more to say later about the points you

    > You wrote 30 Mar 2004 09:04:20 -0500:
    > 'My own opinions happen to coincide with Pirsig's on most issues. My
    > reasons are the same as Pirsig's.'
    > Also your opinions about philosophy and philosophology? What is your
    > opinion about someone who chooses a favourite author and copies/rephrases
    > his ideas without adding many news?

    My ego, large as it is, will not permit me to believe I'm really capable
    of creating any new philosophies or philosophical ideas. Nor do I think
    many are. I agree with whoever said, "All philosophy is a footnote to
    Plato." Only one exception I can think of: Pirsig.

    > What new ideas can you share with me to
    > convince me of your opinions that war is a fitting metaphor for the
    > relation between the social and intellectual levels and that the tension
    > between 'liberals' and 'conservatives' in American politics expresses these
    > levels if Pirsig's ideas weren't enough to do so?

    First, if it wasn't for Pirsig's ideas we wouldn't be discussing 'levels'
     So his ideas are necessary to even have this conversation.

    As for examples of 'war' as a fitting metaphor, in America there's
    acknowledgment and much debate about 'Culture Wars.' For example, the
    intellectual level, represented in some cases by 'liberals' and burdened
    by the defect of having 'no provision for morals,' supports rap culture
    which glorifies profanity, pornography and bestiality. The recent half-
    time show at our football Super Bowl represented this culture. The social
    level, represented in some cases by 'conservatives' and generally
    supportive of Christian social morality, supports so-called 'family
    values' which glorifies patriotism, honesty and decency (not to mention
    sexual abstinence before marriage). The vast numbers of Americans
    attending Sunday school and church services each week represent this

    I could recite numerous other examples of our culture wars, but I want to
    focus on the words I wrote above, namely 'represented in some cases by.'
    This indicates my belief that to apply 'conservative' always to the social
    level and 'liberal' always to the intellectual level is a serious mistake.

    Take, for example, the welfare state. Here is huge social static pattern
    that was created, expanded and today vigorously defended by liberals.
    Conservatives would dynamically dissolve this static social pattern and
    substitute in its place a pattern much more open to DQ by allowing for
    greater individual freedom.

    Another example would be the static social pattern of the media,
    monopolized until recently by liberals but increasingly challenged by new
    dynamic conservative media outlets like Fox News, the Drudge Report, and a
    host of Internet bloggers.

    Another example would be our public schools which are totally controlled
    by government bureaucracies and monopolized by a liberal teachers union
    who block any attempt by conservatives to allow dynamic choice through
    school vouchers.

    Of course, liberals argue that conservatives would like to 'turn back the
    clock,' because they believe that anything labelled 'new' is better than
    'old' (except things that challenge their power like Fox News)
    Conservatives argue there's 'nothing new under the sun' and believe the
    old ways were often better than the new. Both positions can be
    intellectually defended, which means you cannot automatically assign one
    or the other to the social level.

    So let us not be too hasty in assigning 'conservative' to the social level
    and 'liberal' to the intellectual level. I know liberals would love to
    think of themselves as the avant-garde of Pirsig's evolutionary
    metaphysics. But their staunch defense of outmoded static social patterns
    belies their belief.

    Best regards,

    > You continued:
    > 'When you deviate from Pirsig's MOQ it would help if you qualified your
    > opinion with something like, "Contrary to what Pirsig says . . ." or some
    > such caveat'.
    > Will 'the MoQ as I understand it' do? We apparently differ in our opinion
    > to what extent it deviates from Pirsig's version of the MoQ.
    > You also wrote:
    > 'I don't agree that 'liberalism" as commonly used in the U.S. represents
    > DQ.'
    > Not necessarily and not in all cases, I agree. It also can and at times
    > does represent degeneracy. You DO agree that I understand 'conservatism'
    > correctly and that it represents sq?? (I understand it as 'a system of
    > ideas that prefers existing, proven patterns of value over new, unproven
    > ones and even wants to defend existing patterns against change (conserve
    > them), which is too often degeneration'.)
    > I understand 'liberalism' as a system of ideas that wants to liberate
    > people from existing, oppressive patterns of value. Both in the USA and in
    > Europe 'liberals' and 'conservatives' have narrowed down 'existing patterns
    > of value'. American 'conservatives' apparently locate the existing patterns
    > that need conserving outside the public realm, among 'individuals' (and the
    > government, that defines what's 'public' as the prime threath). American
    > 'liberals' probably want to liberate people from existing, oppressive
    > patterns outside the public realm. They may indeed at times use government
    > (and enlarging the public realm) as primary tool to do so and turn a blind
    > eye on the oppressive patterns associated with governmental interference
    > outside its accepted realm. European 'liberals' have historically -probably
    > more than American 'liberals'- concentrated on liberation from existing,
    > oppressive patterns associated with monarchism and the state. They stood
    > for democratization and took up the cause of the rising bourgeoisie and
    > entrepreneurial class in the 19th century. When constitutions and elections
    > had severely limited the power of monarchs, their anti-monarchistic cause
    > was more or less exhausted. They recognized the risk that the state, which
    > they had always viewed with suspicion, could be hijacked by socialists, who
    > wanted to use it to further the interests of the labouring 'class'.
    > European 'liberals' can't be considered 'conservative' normally. They are
    > kind of progressive, wanting to change existing patterns, but using market
    > forces rather than the state as a tool. In the Netherlands and in most
    > European countries there are no influential political parties that pride
    > themselves on being 'conservative'. Everyone wants to be seen as
    > progressive, as wanting to change existing patterns. The UK Tories are the
    > only exception I know (but I probably oversee a few other countries).
    > Traditionally Christian parties are most 'conservative', at least with
    > respect to 'morality' in the ordinary sense of the word, but on economic
    > issues they are carefull to show what they call a 'social face', meaning
    > that they want to protect weak groups in society against overexposure to
    > market forces. Socialists in Netherlands and in most other European
    > countries have explicitly added 'democratic' to their names to make sure
    > that they want the state to be effectively controlled by the wishes of the
    > voters. Quite a few 'liberal' and 'Christian' parties have also added
    > 'democratic' to their names. Social democrats nowadays don't want the state
    > to have all power and represent more than just labourers interests (e.g.
    > environmental and feminist causes). In the Netherlands social democrats
    > even see a lot of value in the market mechanism as long as the rules are
    > set and maintained by a democratic government. No-one in Europe (no
    > influential political party at least) will ever associate 'democracy' with
    > 'democratic mob rule', as you do Platt. Maybe because democracy is not
    > primarily seen as being defined by majority rule. 'Democracy' is for
    > Europeans associated more with open discussion and the possibility to
    > influence government decisions. Not only majorities can influence
    > government decisions, but everyone who can by force of arguments win others
    > to his/her cause and thereby erode the majority on which the present
    > government rests. 'Democracy' must not be restrained; government is being
    > restrained by 'democracy'. 'Conservate' may not be a popular label in
    > Europe, neither is its opposite. No influential political party in Europe
    > pretends to stand for outright 'liberation' from oppression in whatever
    > form. Europeans have become to wary of revolution and resulting violence
    > for that. Evolution, reform and progress, gradual change of undesirable
    > patterns, is all that's called for by the most change-minded political
    > parties that have a realistic chance of getting any power.
    > Can you understand from this complicated picture that I don't recognize a
    > clear-cut 'war' between supporters of and liberators from social patterns
    > in politics? Certainly not in Europe, but not even in the USA. American
    > 'conservatives' and 'liberals' are far too selective in the social patterns
    > they recognize and don't recognize to see them (only) as representing one
    > level or the other.
    > With friendly greetings,
    > Wim
    > MOQ.ORG -
    > Mail Archives:
    > Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    > Nov '02 Onward -
    > MD Queries -
    > To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archives:
    Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    Nov '02 Onward -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Apr 03 2004 - 17:42:18 BST