RE: MD junk or politics on this list

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Apr 04 2004 - 22:21:29 BST

  • Next message: David Buchanan: "RE: MD junk or politics on this list"

    Platt, Wim and all MOQers:

    Platt said:
    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.

    dmb says:
    Yea, me too. When I read the posts of those who presume to know better than
    Pirsig, I blush with embarrassment for them. And the posts of Matt K, who
    presumes to have outthunk every philosopher in Western civiliation, make me
    want to crawl in a whole and die. Reminds me of a true story. A guy I know
    once asked me if I had, "ever met somebody who's smarter than" myself.
    "Sure", I said, "all the time". "I haven't", he said. There were lots of
    people standing around listening to this and they were all quite stunned.
    After a taking a moment to recover from the shock of such a ridiculous
    boast, I replied, "Well, that might be true, but a genuinely smart guy would
    never say such a thing out loud." Everyone laughed quite heartily -
    apparently having already reached the same conclusion.

    Platt said:
    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

    dmb says:
    Liberals support rap culture? The superbowl exposure of Janet Jackson's
    right boob represents liberal culture? Wow. I feel like a misquito at a
    nudist colony - I just don't know where to begin. For starters, you've
    confused the term "liberal" as a euphemism for one with loose morals with
    the term "liberal" as a political ideology. I know the Republican propaganda
    machine has been trying to confuse the public by morphing one into the
    other, but logicall, factually and philosophically the idea can't hold a
    drop of water. Liberal feminists like myself, for example, despise the
    misogyny found in so much of rap music. You know who's buying the music and
    going to the shows? The children of suburban Republican parents. Part of the
    reason those kids love it so much is because their parents hate it. And you
    know why they hate rap and hip hop so much? Not because the lyrics are about
    sex and drugs. That's been true of pop music for generations. No. They don't
    hate it because its "liberal", but becasue its black music. The fascist
    heart of the American bigot has learned to rouse the rabble in code. This
    may be a good example of the culture war, Platt, but not in the way you

    Platt said:
    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.

    dmb says:
    Again, I think your case is both factually and logically flawed. For
    starters, Pirsig explicitly describes America's most ambitious welfare
    program as intellectual, not social. And, Wim, this is one of the specific
    historical examples I was talking about yesterday. It comes from chapter

    "In the U.S. the economic and social upheavel was not so great as in Europe,
    but Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, nevertheless, became the center of
    a lesser storm between social and intellectual forces. The New Deal was many
    things, but at the center of it all was the belief that intellectual
    planning by the government was necessary for society to regain its health.
    The New Deal was described as a program for farmers, laborers and poor
    people everywhere, but it was also a new deal for the intellectuals of
    America. Suddenly, for the first time, they were at the center of the
    planning process - these were people from a class that in the past could
    normally be hired for little more than laborers' wages. Now intellectuals
    were in a position to give order to America's finest and oldest and
    wealthiest social groups. 'That man', as the old aristocrats sometimes
    called Roosevelt, was turning the whole USA over to foriegn radicals,
    'eggheads', 'Commies' and the like. He was a 'traitor to his class'.
    Suddenly, before the old Victorians' eyes, a whole new social caste, a caste
    of intellectual Brahmins, was being created ABOVE their own military and
    economic castes."

    dmb continues:
    Not only does this passage clearly show that Platt is simply incorrect in
    asigning the welfare state to the social level, I think we can also see
    Platt's basic anti-intellectual attitude is echoed in the Victorian
    complaints about 'Commie eggheads' and the like. And Finally, I think its
    logically inaccurate to characterize the dismantling of the welfare state as
    a dynamic step forward or upward. The desire to undo liberal programs is not
    even a genuinely conservative postition. It is a reactionary position and
    its a really bad idea.
    Platt said:
    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.

    dmb says:
    New dynamic conservative media? Aren't you the one who pointed out that we
    shouldn't confuse novelty with progress? In any case, its pretty outlandish
    to characterize these new outlets as an improvement of any kind. I know Matt
    Drudge. He's a an uneduated gossip monger. Got his start hunting for
    celebrity gossip in the dumpsters of Hollywood. Literally. I'm not kidding.
    And Fox news is a joke to anyone but a partisan conservative. For example,
    Al Franken's latest book is basically a fact-checking project conducted by a
    class room full of Ivy Leage grad students. Franken set them to the task of
    investigating the veracity of what is reported on Fox's "fair and balanced"
    news programs. The book is called, "LIES AND THE LYING LIARS WHO TELL THEM:
    A Fair and Balanced look at the right". (Fox tried to sue Franken for using
    the phrase "fair and balanced" in his book title. They were literally
    laughed out of court. The law suit, said the presiding judge, "was wholly
    without merit, both factually and legally". Reminds me of the case Platt is
    making here.

    Platt said:
    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.

    dmb says:
    Again, novelty and progress are two different things. As liberals see it,
    the voucher systems proposed by conservative are efforts to A) commodify yet
    another aspect of life. B) break the back of yet another labor union. C)
    Replace secular education, where one is taught HOW to think, with private
    religious education, where our children are merely taught WHAT to think. In
    other words, its a way to get around the seperation of church and state in
    our educational system. Again, this is not an innovation, it is a
    regression, an undoing of social progress. Its reactionary rather than
    genuinely conservative.

    Platt said:
    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.

    dmb says:
    Like I said to Wim, it hardly matter if one is defending tradition in
    intellecual terms or not, one is still defending tradition. And there isn't
    anything inherently wrong with that. I have a tremendous respect for
    tradition. But when social level moral codes and values try to trump
    intellectual values, that is immoral and degenerate. For journalists to be
    so wildly inaccurate so as to fill entire volumes, such as is the case with
    Fox, there has to be something else going on. Nobody THAT incompetent should
    be able to keep a real job as a journalist. The reason the most inaccurate
    staff in the history of journalism remains on staff is becasue FOX is not
    really interested in journalism or accuracy. They have a different agenda,
    not least of which is to provide intellectually dishonest people with a
    reason and an excuse to dismiss the more disconcerting facts of the day.

    Platt said:
    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.

    dmb says:
    There is a certain kind of genuine conservative position that can rightly be
    characterized as intellectual. (I'd suggest George Nash's book; THE
    Encyclopedia devotes many thousands of words to describing it. But what we
    see happening in actual politics bares very little resemblance to that
    legitimate ideology. Most of the main players in the current administration
    are more accurately called neo-conservatives. The Republican party itself is
    dominated by the more reactionary religious right, but also includes free
    market libertarians, old-fashioned bigots, nationalists and other factions
    that have various reasons to hate and fear the "radical foreign commie

    The liberal eggheads aren't at the cutting edge. Nobody is suggesting
    anything terribly big or new or radical. Today liberals find themselves in a
    defensive postion. All three branches of government are controlled by
    conservative majorities and 80% of the men is this county have a hair cut
    that makes them look like a member of the SS. Science is under attack.
    Secularism is under attack. International law is under attack. Our rights
    are under attack. And its exceedingly clear to me that conservatives also
    feel they are under attack. And this is why we call it a culture war. There
    are two entirely different forces in conflict here. Yes, we are each a
    forest. But this does not erase the distinctions between the rival value
    systems of which we are composed. And sometimes its pretty damn easy to see
    what a person is made of.

    For example, take a look at a review of David Limbaugh's book (Yes, Rush's
    brother) or even read the whole thing and then tell me what values he's
    defending and what values he attacks. The book is called "PERSECUTION: How
    Liberals Are Waging War Against Christianity." It doesn't matter if he's a
    smart guy or uses a fancy vocabulary or not. I think you'll find that in the
    substance of his remarks, he is defending social level values OVER higher,
    more moral intellectual values. Its basically an attack on the seperation of
    church and state. Ironically, of course, he sees himself as a defender of
    morality and goodness even as he perpetrates this little evil. This is not
    unlike the irony in Platt's position. The conservative complaints about the
    tyrannical, oppressive and coercive nature of government fail to recognize
    that our government was concieved from the very start as a means of
    protecting indvidual rights. As Jefferson puts it in the Declaration,
    "governments are instituted among men in order to secure these rights". Yea,
    conservatives want a small government. They want it to be just small enough
    to get in your bedroom door with a gun and a pair of handcuffs.


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