Re: MD junk or politics on this list

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Fri Apr 23 2004 - 22:05:47 BST

  • Next message: Wim Nusselder: "Re: Re: MD junk or politics on this list"

    Dear Platt,

    You wrote 16 Apr 2004 10:35:06 -0400:
    'I don't know about the Dutch, but I'm sure Americans, released from having
    taxes automatically taken out of their pay and freed from the threat of
    fines, jail and confiscation of their property, would gladly keep tax money
    for themselves and their families. I keep remembering Pirsig's observation
    to the effect that, "Cooperation without coercion is a devastating

    If I would believe in cooperation without coercion I would be at the
    lower-left corner of the lower-left quadrant. I am somewhere in the middle,
    so I agree with Pirsig.
    Quite a few Dutch might be convinced by a populist political party to keep
    their tax money for themselves, too. They would come to their senses quite
    soon, however, when information about the break-down of health-care,
    education, maintenance of dykes (not unimportant here) etc. etc. would get
    public. If government would break down, we would re-invent it before being
    flooded, before bored youth would form too many violent gangs and before too
    many cripples and carriers of contagious lethal diseases (who couldn't pay
    private health-care) would crowd our streets.
    Dutch politicians being more sensible than the average voter, they haven't
    yet created such a populist political party promising substantially lower

    I asked you:
    'could you give a description of American "liberals" and "conservatives"
    using [the verbs to "liberate" and to "conserve"]? If no, what would be the
    criteria for a "literal meaning" of these terms for you (also applicable
    outside a political context)?'

    You replied 16 Apr 2004 10:35:06 -0400:
    'I cannot imagine using these terms outside a political context. That
    context defines the "literal meaning" of those terms for me. In a historical
    context, I believe those terms had opposite meanings from their current
    American political context.'

    Do I understand rightly that in the current American political context
    "conservatives" tend to "liberate people" and "liberals" tend to "conserve
    old systems that they still consider valuable"? Funny.
    These terms can be used and are used also in for instance religions
    (referring to dogma's and traditions) and in (more or less) bureaucratic
    organizations (referring to administrative procedures and rules). There they
    still have their original -what I would call their "literal"- meanings.

    You continued:
    'Is their a simpler way to express how you see the "war" between levels?'

    I see "war between levels" as an unfortunate metaphor. "War" in itself is
    o.k., but I see the phenomena for which that term is fitting as conflicts
    between patterns of value of the same level. Discrete levels cannot be at
    war. People participating in patterns of value of different levels CAN, but
    everyone participates in patterns of value of all levels. I see no way to
    determine whether someone participates more in the 1st/2nd/3rd/4th level
    than someone else, whereas I DO see ways to determine whether the particular
    patterns of value of a particular level someone participates in are of
    higher or lower quality: by assessing their stability, versatility, openness
    to DQ and harmony with patterns of value of a higher level. E.g. a
    democratic 3rd level pattern of value is more open to DQ and more in harmony
    with a 4th level pattern of value like 'fairness' than an authoritarian one.
    Their relative stability and versatility is not yet finally decided by
    history, but their seems to be a trend towards more democracy in recent
    history that suggests higher quality. So "democracy" and "authoritarian
    structures" can be said to be at war; "fairness" and "authoritarian
    structures" can not. If say Russians feel a need for strong leadership and
    tend to give more power to those who seem to fit that role, no amount of
    rhetoric telling them that it is not fair that a few people have lots of
    power and a lot of people have little will make them behave differently.

    With friendly greetings,


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