Russell Means on "Paradigm Shift"

Discussion in 'Ancient History and Mythology' started by Pathless, May 5, 2009.

  1. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I'm not dauer, but I might be able to help.

    There's a little flag on the bottom right of every post that will allow multi quotes from several posts. This even works with posts from other threads, but you must use the advanced posting format and answer yes when prompted about the posts from other threads.

    Splitting a long post into several talking points can be done by copying the first quote tag with the poster's name and then pasting that at the front of each part you wish to address, and follow up with an end quote:[ /quote ] with no spaces.

    There may be easier ways, but this is how I've been doing it for a while now.

    OK, but this still brings us back to "city versus country," and ultimately has nothing to do with gender. Gender is used as a way to label the process, but it is misleading. As we see, people get hung up on the label and lose sight of the underlying principles at work.

    Look, I'm part Native American. There are some things that echo and resound and make perfect sense...and there are other things that don't. I have an affinity with animals that goes back to my youngest childhood, yet I am appalled by the concept of zoos and pets. I am more at home in the woods or at the sea than I am in the city, but I can't make enough of a living to support myself, let alone a family, foraging for berries. Even among Native Americans there is disagreement over how to do things. Means is Lakota, my heritage is Cherokee, and even then I do not speak for any others than myself. Means does not speak for all Lakota, and he sure doesn't speak for all Native Americans.

    One really difficult truth that is hard to swallow is that the Native Americans lost. The "Eurocentric" "paternal" societies or whatever manner one wishes to use to designate whooped @ss on the Native Americans. Yes, one side of me is appalled at the tactics and dishonorable lies and slavery and bloodshed and loss of ancestral homeland and etc, but the other side of me must acknowledge the fateful truth that "evolutionarily" the "paternal Europeans" were superior...in numbers, in technology, in social cohesion and in a number of other ways that ultimately proved significant...they won.

    Can't blame it on warriors versus no warriors, the "maternal" "tribal" societies that made up the typical Native American tribe were quite experienced on the whole with warfare, they just had a different concept socio-culturo-religiously as to what warfare meant and entailed...there was a certain "code of honor" so to speak that was sacrosanct, and that concept of warfare was foreign to the Europeans.

    So I am not convinced of any superiority of maternal social orders. I suppose in some idealized manner there is some philosophical comfort in living as one with nature and the planet. Let's examine how that translates into reality for a minute: prior to being pushed to the reservations, how many tribal peoples lived in houses? With running water? With indoor plumbing? With electricity?

    Sure, one can opine philosophically about low environmental impact, but I don't see those same people ready yet to live in yurts with dirt floors and herd goats for a lifetime for sustenance. Forget about the internet, forget about the nightly news, forget about the favorite reality show or comedy, forget about the next Hollywood movie (gasp!), forget about modern medical advances and space shots, telephones, designer clothes, bananas, escargot, Italian wine, or Single Malt Scotch. In effect, forget about modern lifestyles with any form or type of amenities.

    When I break it down to the logical conclusion and compare the two side by side, I am just hedonistic enough to say I'll stick with what I have, thank you very much. There is nothing "superior" in a maternal socio-cultural order to offer, other than a philosophical feel-good that will last until the first good blisters raise from having to actually do things for ourselves. And lest someone try to take this last out of context, I am referring specifically to the mechanical technologies that "paternal" societies have developed to do a lot of the drudge work for us.

    ;)
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2009
  2. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    My initial gripe with him had to do with his language, and with the emphasis on the feminine that I still assert isn't an accurate framing of the problem. I do think he meant more than what you suggest he did in terms of the feminine. Your defenses of him did have a certain supremacist tone to them in that you linked all problems with society back to patriarchy, women as the solution to that problem being naturally not prone (and clearly any displays of this behavior on their part should be seen as normative) to those things that you suggested men are prone to (e.g. violent crimes, pedophilia, ethnocentrism and raping the land which couldn't possibly be normative and, if they are, it's patriarchy that's to blame hence, men anyway).

    I agree with Juan that this has more to do with "city versus country", as it were, and not gender. I wouldn't use the phrase "city versus country" however. Technically a person who lives in an apartment in the city and takes the subway to work every day is going to have a smaller ecological footprint than someone who lives in a more rural area, has a larger home (hence requires more heating, electric etc) and has to drive to get anywhere.



    In another thread, certainly, but I feel that here it would be moving this thread in too many different directions. If you want to create another thread in the "comparative religion" section I'd be happy to have a conversation about reverence for nature/sustainability as a religious value or the divine feminine or the role of women or connections between those ideas or whatever you'd like.

    As an aside, I don't think that's entirely true. Europeans had codes of honor for warfare. Those codes were, however, different, and didn't apply to war with people they viewed as savages. I'd think that a focus on the "rules", as it were, of war might be framed as a more masculine concept.

    -- Dauer
     
  3. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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    -- Dauer
    What to you then is an accurate framing? Perhaps like matriarchy we have different definitions of feminine [think of the neutral yin/yang tao here and imbalance thereof of one or the other]. Russells [and mine] gripe was that patriarchy had developed, via religion then politically with a disregard for the equality of women in society, therefore much was lost or negated. The effort of feminism of the sixties/seventies has corrected to some extent the imbalance [in the west] but not to the extent it requires ie a shared and fairer responsibility in making decisions concerning global problems. As you mentioned previously we are in a different developmental space and perhaps then were scathing of his idealism which involved honouring publically the moons/womans cycles as a normative connection to 'gaia', perhaps dissipating these anti-society deviations which you seem to think is genderless.

    If this paradigm shift is to be effected how do you see it coming about?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2009
  4. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    One that does not entail gendered language.

    I don't think this is exactly how it worked out. I think the development of patriarchy may have been due much more largely to things like the demands of living in larger and larger communities, lack of widely available and effective contraception, etc. Certainly the availability of contraception may have been one the factors that allowed for modern feminism. It gave women the opportunity to enter the public space in ways that they hadn't regularly been able to previously. The way that you frame the matter seems more to do with reading modern ideologies and dogmas into the past, acting as if some wrong had been committed when no such category for that wrongness seems to have existed at that time. I also don't think the political followed the religious, but more likely that the political followed the historical situation and that the religious followed both, relating life as it was back to the Divine while at the same time being coopted by the powers-that-be for their own ends.

    You're misframing the issue. My issue is that you call negative behavior on the part of women normative and negative behavior on the part of men natural. You're not applying your standards universally. Whether one is normative and the other is natural remains to be seen (maybe negative behavior on the part of women is natural and on the part of men, merely normative), but if you cast doubt on one surely it stands to reason that you should cast doubt on the other. As it stands you're begging the question.

    I have no issue with women who want to believe that their menstrual cycles make them somehow more connected with nature than men. You argued that it is fact. That's not based in evidence, only your own feelings about the matter. I know women who at best find their cycles inconvenient and at worst wish they didn't have them at all, certainly don't feel more connected with nature due to their cycles. I know men who are extremely connected to the cycles of nature and women who aren't at all.

    Further, I see no reason to believe that the cyclical is in any way moving beyond ethnocentric views. That to me seem to be confusing two very different issues. This is an issue I've also taken against your conflating women with moving beyond ethnocentric views. My girlfriend is fairly ethnocentric in some areas whereas I tend to maintain a more worldcentric perspective. Despite being the male in the relationship, I find myself frequently in the position to urge a more tolerant and open view. Following your earlier opinions you would have to argue that it would be more natural for me to be ethnocentric and for my girlfriend to be worldcentric. I just don't see that. I think people vary, regardless of gender, in their ethnocentrism.

    Let me clarify on this that I am not a believer in paradigm shift. I do think we're going through a period of change, and a positive one at that, but I'm not certain that this amounts to any grand idea of paradigm shift. I think it's quite possible that in the future we'll shift backwards, maybe further back than where we are now. I certainly don't attach any ontological significance to the PS thesis.

    We do live in a time where we're much more aware of a global economy, of a global community. And yet, just as the internet allows people to be more open and aware of others, it also facilitates specific forms of ethnocentrism by allowing adherents to communicate. Just as the recent economic crisis gives rise to an opportunity for the recognition of our interdependence, it also gives rise to the possibility for blaming an other.

    Now, how I think change should come about, this "boo patriarchy" shtick amounts to a lot of polemical chest-thumping. Hey, maybe patriarchy really is the cause of all the evils in the world. Maybe it's not. Insisting that it is doesn't help make the world a better place. Questioning people's dogmatic assumptions on the other hand I think can bring a person over the edge, beyond their ideology, if they're at a point that such a shift might be possible. Then again, it's also possible that it reinforces another person's reliance upon the dogma. Being a good person, helping others, advocating for the underprivileged and the like, these to me seem to be good ways of bringing about change. The way that one should perform this advocacy seems best if it considers the situation of the group seen as the oppressor. What are their motivations? How do they view themselves? What is their narrative? The focus on narrative seems very important. Often there's a simplistic victim-abuser narrative between different groups that doesn't capture the whole picture. Those are just some meandering thoughts.

    I am the type of person who values critical thinking. I dislike emotional rhetoric. While an argument might gain more popular ground by creating a narrative that the average individual can connect to, that doesn't make it true. Outside and even within the natural sciences I think it's very necessary to maintain reflection and critical thinking, to question assumptions. In this conversation we're dealing with a lot of ideas that aren't in any reliable way established and certainly the methods of application aren't intellectually honest in that they're applied selectively. This is where I'm coming from and I make no apologies for thinking critically and challenging assumptions.

    I find myself frequently friends with those on the left and the far left. Yet their dogma and their presentation at times suffers the same pitfalls as those on on the far right. Those on the right tend to see me as far too progressive, too liberal. Those on the left I have found sometimes hold the opposite view. It's the "If you're not with us, then you're against us" perspective of ethnocentrism rearing its nasty face. It annoys me, but I feel the need to be true to myself and remain skeptical when dogmas are presented.
     
  5. shawn

    shawn New Member

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    I have had the thought that matriarchy or patriarchy is analogous to the whole debate going on concerning what party we have governing us...liberal/democrat or conservative/republican.
    It really makes no difference other than superficial as the whole system is outmoded and archaic and needs to be razed to the ground and done over from scratch as it is harmful in all its ways.
    That is the best paradigm shift we could have, otherwise we just change masters in the same onerous/offensive system of slavery .
     
  6. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Agreed.

    If you're reading this, I had to work around the minimum character limit. mwa ha ha.
     
  7. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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    No, l would say that, due to the inequality in the past, which has shaped the future, we have the stereotypes we have, we have created the monster, women as sexual 'objects' and men with more 'aggression', legitimately sanctioned by the fact of continual paternalism. Now it is moving beyond that to a greater degree of blurring, of genderlessness; this is perhaps a symptom of nature/culture 'redressing'.

    No l said it was a natural law [or fact] that synchronisation occurs and that, concurring with Russell, this helped his society in its connectiveness with the earth/moon cycles engendering care. Of course if such a biological fact has been disregarded as a curse and not given credence in society [time off work, sacred space] then its potency is lost as inconvenient and inconsequential.

    Well since egalitarianism was probably before any hierarchy it may be regression but in a good way. Doubtful though as nations are at different levels and their very definitions and raison d'etre ethnocentric.

    As long as groups act or are seen as oppressors the mind set continues, aided and abetted by historical animosities. Bringing more women [no, not the culturally bagged 'feminist' or 'matriarch'!] into the narrative and their concerns may balance out this hegemony that war is ok and corporations can do whatever they want so long as it brings in money. Slavery and exploitation continues but now is called 'fair trade'.

    And neither you should! l will stick with my dogmatic and emotional assumptions.

    l play the devils advocate quite a bit and usually let go arguments as l usually see all sides. But this recent retrograde mercury in communicative gemini coupled with venus and mars in hot headed aries has been interesting to say the least for me [personally]. Maybe another dogma for your scepticism! Thanks for your constructive criticism; my gut says russell speaks a lot of truth!:)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2009
  8. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    There's actually a tension in that I also think that if something's meaningful and not harming someone else, or if it grants a person a greater degree of self-understanding for example, more plainly, if it serves pragmatic ends then it's not so important to me that an interpretation of an experience is true. An alarm tends to go off for me, however, when it seems like a person is claiming, because of particular experiences, that their interpretations of those experiences must be true. In regard to astrology, if it works for you and you get something from it, great. I have no reason to be skeptical that astrology has helped you to make sense of events in your life or that it's had a positive impact on you. If you argued that because it works for you and you get something from it that it must point to some ontological truth then I'd find myself again in a skeptical position. As it is in my own life, I value what is meaningful much more than what is true. But I go to great lengths not to confuse one for the other.
     
  9. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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    who was talking of truth? beliefs are relative, truth is relative to the perceiver and when many perceive the same it becomes an absolute, a reality, unquestioned, like the truth that uncivilised peoples had no souls and it was ok to exterminate them. The victims then mimic the victors and so it goes on..
    'truth is a pathless land' krishnamurti
    Of course my observations were correlated by other threads which seemed beset by disagreements in communication [mercury in gemini of duality], about venus and mars issues. But maybe that was a subjective projection of meaning rather than objective 'truth' :]
    Maybe some day we will know there is an ontological correspondence between planetary energies and ones consciousness, maybe it is all poppycock. One thing for sure beliefs cause conflict in the world but we cant help believing in our truths for whatever pragmatic end l do not know.
     
  10. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    No argument from me, I'm wide open to a better label, as long as the underlying concept remains. Like so much though, labels are troublesome when people read too much into or otherwise miss the point. Oh, I know! We could call it "rudy" and "rudy not." *JK!*

    I'm not going to disagree, of course the Europeans had a different code of honor for warfare. By neglecting to mention that I didn't mean to imply that they didn't. It's just that Native Americans had an entirely different view of how war was constituted. Neither side understood the other well enough at the beginning, and later when the Europeans did understand a little about how Native Americans viewed things like war, land ownership, etc., they tended to exploit it to their advantage (broken treaties, anyone?).
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2009
  11. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Exactly. I feel like the use of the word "matriarchy" by RM has been deconstructed by Dauer and decontextualized from the message that the man is trying to communicate. As I said earlier, it's too bad that "matriarchy" and "gendered language" strike a nerve, but to discredit the man's perspective and communication skills because of that seems ethnocentric in its own way; it's kind of like, "Damn, Russell, you can't keep up with the academic language, bro, so whatever you have to say about history, I'm going to have to ignore that."

    Now it should be noted that I am completely in love with language. My first language is English, and I have a certain knack for it, and can be just as particular and even anal about it as the next person; however, sometimes I am inclined to let the grammatical or linguistic critic in me take the sidelines when I sense that something valuable is being communicated, even if it is not done in proper English. When it comes to displaced and oppressed/repressed peoples, I am more than happy to put my grammar tools aside and attempt to understand the message being communicated, rather than getting caught up in the "butchery of the English language," as I think Dauer classified it.

    Yes. This is part of my problem with American history. Juantoo mentioned earlier that the Europeans "whooped tail" on the Natives (after drastic population reduction through introduced diseases, which the Europeans took as a sign from God that the Natives were doomed to extinction). They did whoop tail, and they did it often in very dishonorable and cruel ways, which may or may not have fit into the honor code of Europeans at the time; it seems like Europeans had (and still have) one code of honor which they apply to warfare with other Europeans and Christians, but an entirely different set of criteria which they apply to heathens, pagans, wild people, barbarians, or whatever else doesn't fit into their schema of "civilized man". That latter set of criteria is simple: kill them all, women, children, men, grandmothers, grandfathers; burn them, feed them to the dogs, kidnap them; cut off their hands, their breasts, their genitals. Rape them. Updated for the twentieth and twenty-first century, it includes other brutal techniques: nuke them, use biological and chemical warfare on them, use corporations to steal their land and impose industrial models of work on them to crush their spirits and exploit their resources.

    It's difficult for me to feel and give much respect to the philosophies and systems of governance and exploitation that trace their origins to the supremacist ideology of Christian Europe.
     
  12. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    When you began to talk about facts, and responded to my counterarguments with mere assertions I took it that you were asserting truth. If countering reasonable questioning with dogmatic assumptions while using words like "facts" doesn't suggest that an individual is talking about what they assume to be truths, then what does? And if truth is relative as you suggest, then how can you argue against me at all? It would seem pointless since the only determination, the only evidence for what is "more true" as it were, would be the number of people who hold a particular belief.

    I take you on your word that you did not intend to speak about truths by my definition, but I want to suggest, given your response, that you feel strongly that at least some of your assertions do maintain some degree of truth to them. Otherwise you would have had no reason to dismiss my arguments for the possibility of alternative interpretations based in the universal application of your methods for questioning what is assumed to be true.

    I disagree that truth is relative. Beliefs about truth may be relative, but truth is independent of belief. To say that truth is relative removes the significance of the word, makes it nearly synonymous with belief. Our perception of truth may be relative, but not truth itself. This is again a semantic issue, not a metaphysical one. It follows from your later statement that "But maybe that was a subjective projection of meaning rather than objective 'truth" that you don't entirely regard truth as referring to something relative either. I think you probably understood, given your cited statement about objective truth, that my use of the word referred to an objective condition but felt for one reason or other that it would be worthwhile to object on semantic grounds.

    That doesn't fit my definition of truth and, I would argue, the most interesting and useful definition of truth. A norm is not by that definition a truth, though one could say, for example, "It is true that such-and-such civilization holds such-and-such belief." That does not make their belief-that a truth. It does make the fact that they believe-that a truth.
     
  13. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    It's not about academic language. He is an English speaker who lives in an English speaking country. There is no "keeping up" to do. The definition of matriarchy has long had a relatively fixed meaning. His use of language is dangerous because of the baggage that is attached to his gendered words, because of the associations that people make, consciously or unconsciously, with that language. My issue with Means is not merely semantic. I am not merely picking at nits. I do not think Means should be praised for his words. If your dumbed-down read of him is really all that's intended then it's been said more clearly, with less baggage, by enough people that Means hasn't contributed much of anything.

    edit:
    I want to add a further comment on "but to discredit the man's perspective and communication skills because of that seems ethnocentric in its own way;"

    You would not regard it as ethnocentric if I objected to language you perceived to be anti-female by an Islamic leader because you agree that such language is a bad thing. I don't see a relevant difference between this situation and that one. Now if a fundamentalist imam used that type of language and had something of value to say alongside it, I would still hold that what he had to say alongside it was valuable but that he is not a spokesperson that I can agree with, that I could not support him or advocate for him. The issue is slanted rhetoric, polemic, propaganda and the like. I do not consider "shouting loudly" as it were to be a valid form of argumentation and I do not think those who speak against the establishment deserve a free pass any more than those who support it. While other people proudly proclaimed their love for Obama, I, remaining very optimistic about what Obama might accomplish, remained critical of his rhetoric. I still maintain the same perspective.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2009
  14. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Fair enough but every major cultural faction out there still exists in no small part due to their own unique variation on the theme of supremacy. Everybody blows their own horn, some of 'em pretty darn loudly, not just Euro-Christians.

    If we are going to make this about this injustice and that perversion of equanamity and the other indignant usurpation of homeland / culture / religion / language, etc., then there is plenty enough to go around the world and back again. The Greeks did their fair share, the Romans did their fair share, the Aryans did their fair share, the Mongols did their fair share, the Vikings did their fair share... Injustice isn't something invented or even perfected by Christians or Europeans, they learned from what was done to them. It is a human tendency to lie, cheat and steal, rape, pillage and plunder if you are big enough and bad enough to get away with it. We can't place modern sensibilities on historical situations and expect some form of rational relationship to come out of it...that is unrealistic.

    It's time to stop blaming. It's time to take responsibility for NOW. I am not responsible for slavery, I am not responsible for oppression. I am not responsible for Jim Crow laws, segregation or civil rights. But I AM responsible for my behavior in the here and now.

    Santayana was right, we do need to learn the lessons of history so we don't make the same mistakes over and over. I get that part of the concept. But it is every bit as crippling and debilitating to dwell in the injustices of the past as it is to ignore the mistakes and continue to repeat them.

    The simple "evolutionary" fact is that what we tend to ascribe as "paternal" societies have given us great cause for concern and grief, but at the same time they have also given us great triumphs and marvels that would not have come about otherwise. Can you name one "maternal" culture that has put a man on the moon? Or how about how many maternal cultures contribute to the feeding of the starving that are not related to them, or who contribute truckloads of modern medicines to others who are sick or injured? We can point fingers all day long, but the plain truth is that the paternal cultures are the ones that get things done, and have the resources to help others.

    I suppose we could go round and round; the western cultures are the ones responsible for the plight of the poor and downtrodden, using them as slave labor, raping their natural resources, blah blah blah. The west didn't give Africa the AIDS virus, but it is the west that is providing medications to help ease the suffering of those afflicted with that virus, because they have the resources and the heart to do so. The west doesn't create the famines and crop failures in Africa, but the west steps in with food aid to assist those so affected because they can and have the heart to do so. For every ill you can point to, I can point to a corresponding act of generosity and selfless giving that is ignored in the press and by those with an anarchist bent.

    Is the west perfect?, no! Name me any society that is? I guarantee it isn't a maternal society, unless one counts sleeping on a dirt floor as perfect. Camping out is fun once in awhile, but as an everyday lifestyle day in and day out, I don't see the benefit. As soon as a person lifts one stone onto another, they have impacted the environment...butterfly wings causing hurricanes and all that.

    The time to point fingers has passed. If a new paradigm is desired, fine. Here is ground zero. We all need to stop living in the past and start living for the future. Sour grapes only makes vinegar.
     
  15. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    This is not about blaming; I am not sure where you are getting that from. This is about listening to other perspectives.
     
  16. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I am only human and there is always the chance I misread you, but the last part of the second paragraph and the final summation are what brought about my last post.

    This part:

     
    Last edited: May 17, 2009
  17. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    That's not blaming. That's being honest.
     
  18. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    I have no doubt that is how you honestly feel, but I don't believe it is accurate.

    How many maternal cultures has the west nuked?

    How many times has the west deliberately used biological and chemical warfare agents on maternal cultures in the 20th and 21st centuries?

    How often do those much maligned corporations tend to provide the only means of earning money for impoverished cultures?

    How often do well meaning anthropologists convince impoverished cultures of the benefits offered by industrial models of work?

    And *all* humans exploit resources. It's part and parcel of being alive.
     
  19. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    You've totally missed the point. No matter what I say, I don't think you will get it. It doesn't matter what kind of cultures were nuked; it does matter that the U.S. is the only country who has ever used a nuclear weapon against another country, and it matters that the U.S. hoards nuclear weapons while dictating what other countries can and cannot develop and own nuclear weapons. It matters that the dropping of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an unnecessary, brutal flourish when the Japanese were getting ready to surrender anyway.

    Make no mistake, too: the cultures that are blessed with jobs by corporations are destabilized and impoverished by the same corporations that provide the jobs, which are not jobs in the sense that you may like to think that they are. They are more like slavery. The "benefits" offered by industrial models of work are not benefits at all.

    Yes, all humans exploit resources, but the rate at which they exploit them varies greatly. There is a difference between a subsistence-level culture that may practice farming, hunting, and fishing, and a culture based on excessive consumption fueled by advertising and the manufacturing of artificial needs and wants. There is a difference between a democratic and just society which is attuned to nature and a fake democracy of injustice which uses euphemisms like "free trade" and "globalization" and "capitalism" to cover the reality of the sacking the world's people and resources by corporations that refuse to take any responsibility for their actions.

    But I digress.
     
  20. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Both extremes are rife with complications.

    Do you seriously expect the citizens of any developed country, let alone every developed country, to start relieving themselves in the woods and sleeping on dirt floors? I realize we are both using extremes in an effort to paint our pictures and make our points, but my extreme is not so far from the reality. Sleeping in a teepee on a pallet made of animal skins is not the kind of life style the average hedonist westerner can tolerate, let alone will tolerate.

    I mean really, isn't the answer somewhere in the middle between the two extremes? If not, then as a typical hedonist westerner I'll stick with the status quo. I don't have cable t.v. I don't have a swimming pool or jacuzzi. I have one t.v. that I've had for several years and still keep even though the DVD player is broken because the rest of it still works. I had to buy a new antenna even with the converter box because I couldn't get the signal anymore when the stations switched to digital. The computer I have at home is about 4 years old, antiquated dial up equipment that isn't even hooked to the internet, and I can't seem to find anybody that offers dial up modem service anymore, and last I could the service was so slow because my machine couldn't keep up with the flow of data. I can go on. I live from paycheck to paycheck with failing health, knowing that any moment I could break a hip, lose my paycheck and lose my very modest but overpriced house to foreclosure. I live in an unrealistically liberal college town where the solution to everything is to throw money, tax payer money, at it. As a consequence *everything* goes up in price at the first little hint of anything. The college tuition goes up every year whether they need it or not. The property taxes go up every year ostensibly for all kinds of social and community services that are chronically underfunded and constantly have their hand out. Its all a game of feel-good at the expense of somebody, anybody, else. Those making 200 thousand a year are only too happy to vote to pass a "modest" increase in taxes, but the impact on people who struggle to get by just above or right on the brink of the poverty line is immense, and the liberal establishment turns a blind eye because they can hold up the one or two people they rescued from abject poverty. The math doesn't even add up...it seems the purpose is to create a vast underclass of poverty level working stiffs who effectively are slaves because of credit...but we don't dare call it slavery because that would be offensive to the people who actually were slaves (nevermind they would have to be something like 150 years old, the people who were actually freed by the Emancipation Proclamation). There are fingers pointed everywhere except back on oneself, nobody claims responsibility for themselves anymore.

    Now I'm willing to admit that some of my position is situational, but I am thankful I do have a job that at least has some benefits, and there is some minor comfort knowing that the taxes I have been paying over the course of my working life serve in part to provide a safety net with SSDI and Social Security...at least as long as they last. With the demographics of the baby boom being what they are, and the propensity for liberal politics to raid trust funds for the pet project of the moment, I can't count on a federal retirement outside of my now drastically downsized 401K. That's alright, because I was only about 7 years into it anyway, and its not like I had any significant amount going in to begin with.

    I'm not without idealism. I agree, business needs to be held accountable for its actions. Clean water, clean air and clean soil (not to mention clean food) are not catchy buzz words, they are beginning finally to be seen as the crucial necessities that they are, and business needs to understand that it must be a part of their business model and operating methods to protect these. Its no longer sufficient to create products that will poison the groundwater for miles around the landfill, as with retired and trashed computer components, and think that the corporate image can be maintained with a well placed donation to a high profile cause.

    I have climate control in my modest 1000 sq ft house, and I set the heat on low (65) and I set the air on high (78). I try to eat decent, when I go out it is usually to the AYCE Chinese buffet. I buy taco bell bean burritos for .99 each. Or I cook at home. I am not a frivolous or flambouyant person, I can't afford the movie theatre for every flick I see trailers for that looks promising, I can't afford the gas to go to the beach, I can't afford much of nothing but to pay my bills and entertain myself with the company computer participating on this site and watching the videos in my library. So I am hardly the arch rival multi-millionaire banker conservative capitalist...even though I do think that practicality serves that side just a little bit right of center better than not. I do think neither extreme is healthy, and I do think that the benefits of wealth creation as opposed to capital reallocation are well defined and well supported. What few "luxuries" I do partake of, would not be available in any practical sense if I lived in a different cultural model. Yes, there are trade offs. Yes there are secondary considerations. Yes there is environmental impact no matter how hard I try not to.

    But when I see a Greyhound bus sized SUV drive past with a bunch of smug self-congratulatory stickers on the bumper about how eco-friendly and lovey-dovey the world ought to be...I'm sorry but I can't help but feel the reek of insincerity.

    I grow vegetables in 5 gallon buckets. But the Eco-maniacs would rather "we" pay a premium at the grocery store...fine if you're making 200G, not so cool if you're making 30G. The system is set up to hurt the people it is claiming to help by making more people to help, and those like me who don't want the system's help, are shoved into it whether we like it or not. It is crammed down our throats. I take strong exception to that.

    By all rights I am legally disabled, but I refuse to quit. I don't want a hand out, all I want is an even break. That's where I think our liberal policies have become morally bankrupt...those policies are designed to force people into handouts, they are not designed to give a hand up. When people begin to see that relying on big government to do everything for them is impractical, unrealistic and actually leads to a form of slavery, and doesn't do much for the ego either, maybe they will begin to see the necessity for self-responsibility. But I doubt it, not without a major crisis that will make Katrina look like a cake walk.

    Maybe another depression would actually be good for us all. Maybe it would serve to remind us of the things in life that have any real value...family, love, life, things like that.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2009

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