Thursday, April 11, 2019

No Responsibility, Living in the Basement

I suppose I'm not unlike many, many Americans.  I have a disdain as passionate as anyone else who gives thought to certain patterns of behaviors that I find anathema to my ideal of a contributing member of society.    The regressive behaviors of taking little responsibility,  resting on substandard conditions, and essentially living in the basement are as repulsive to me as they are probably to any of my readers.

I'm difficult to impress with some of the political rhetoric being bantered about though,  much of it barely withstands scrutiny of using its own assumptions on itself.    What I mean is,  I hear a lot of talk about capitalism versus socialism now a days as the motif for the upcoming national elections, and the proponents of capitalism sound as though what they hear and repeat somehow anoints them with the virtue of the words, without any effort to live up to the words.

Centuries ago, liberal thinkers developed ideas behind common good, rationality, capitalism, enlightenment, personal responsibility, socialism, and other terms that carry meaning today in our political conversations and thoughts.  No term holds as much weight as "personal responsibility" when contrasting the two political factions that predominate U.S. politics today, for one side seems to think they have it, and therefore the other side doesn't.

Why one side would think they have "personal responsibility" is because they have accepted, after the requisite death centuries ago of a progenitor of an idea, which allows enough time to pass for the transformation of a liberal thought into conservative dogma, the notion that capitalism is home of rational thinkers, individual agents, who have taken it as a personal responsibility for his or her own well being and pursuit of happiness.  People who are building a better world through dogged pursuit of an idealize model of citizenship.  Rugged individualism.

Socialism would champion quite the contrary.   Give me your lazy, your sloppy, your irrational, your free loaders, your drop outs, give me the failures and government will protect you.  That's the mind of the socialist.   Personal responsibility isn't so much as falling short, as it is presumed to be absent from the beginnings.  These people are just short of evil.  The takers.

I'm not saying anything new here, I'm not breaking any molds, I'm not over dramatizing the conservative presuppositions.

I could end my diatribe here and reclaim the honor of being a member in good standing of the Republican Party.   Except I don't want to be.

I think the erstwhile conservatives that have mimicked centuries of developed thought in this arena are falling far short of their own mark of what it means to be personally responsible --  repeating the words don't make the way of life complete.  You gotta put some effort into it.

Tuning into broadcasts, or reading the oft repeated mantras of right wing philosophy does not imbibe anyone with the meanings or values implied in the words.

Here is a shocking truth as well,  being conservative means being in the basement of political thought.  There has been a lot building on top of the foundation where conservatives reside.   All the new thoughts are coming from upstairs.  Many romanticized figures on the right lived a long time ago and these people have little to say about our current challenges.   I doubt they would mute themselves in deference to the past though.  Adam Smith was walking the streets in the mid 1700's, his antithesis Karl Marx entered the scene 100 years later.  Abraham Lincoln was essentially a contemporary but on another continent. 

I'm sure Thomas Jefferson would be someone considered honorable by the Right,  though I'd brace for the recriminations from the Left if I played Jefferson that way, but the point is the challenges have to be digested completely, solutions don't begin with a 'no', based on some notion of a long time ago.

President Trump has Andrew Jackson on his wall, by the way.

I don't see much personal responsibility in resting on yesterday's players and games when so much is happening right now.  Our challenges are pressing many people who have taken on the responsibility to research the problems, explore the solutions, and champion the new ideas to speak up.  Jefferson would of listened, how else was he at the cutting edge of political thought,  250 years ago?

By and large, those people working on answers aren't on the Right though they are vilified by  those on the Right, and that's not helping.  Often the recriminations are decades old re-branded rhetoric.  The similarities between the tobacco industry efforts to undermine the anti-smoking crowd and the efforts to undermine the ecological movement is beyond coincidence.  Check it out. 

How many Saints were environmental proponents?   A little odd of a reference,  but the point is folks centuries ago were putting the efforts in. 

When I take a rational approach to viewing my world,  I don't start with what history confines me to, but what history suggests to me.   History doesn't repeat as much as it rhymes.  Poetry is best in its own time, but we can learn from it.  We shouldn't consider memorizing the past sufficient of an attainment.

Adam Smith had no clue about climate change,  but I'd bet an irrational and irresponsible amount of my own money that he would of taken the time to read about it from expert sources.  Not what the King's political hacks thought about it.    I have some disregard to people my age repeating nonsensical political rhetoric from industry insiders without ever having read their responsible share of scientific reports on the matter,  and that's just a start.  Many issues have received the same lack of attention from the Right's rational thinkers of today. 

Recently I had the pleasure of listening to a podcast that put into unique words the experience that many of us go through who start political life out, as we should, learning the greats and subsequently growing from there.  Moving up in the house of political philosophy from the foundation, or  basement, to higher levels of living and understanding.

The guest explained that what started out as so right and correct, like finishing Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" hasn't in fact withstood scrutiny and so as time goes by, and arguments get polished, get affected by forces that an open mind allows in, one begins to realize that where you placed yourself hasn't so much as shaded this way or that, but has completely moved onto another level altogether.

There is personal responsibility in that journey from the beginnings, not unlike there is a personal responsibility in all of us to do as much as we can with out government assistance.

I'll offer that not taking that responsibility serious has been exploited, as well.  Corporate socialism is real, it is costly to us all, and part of the dehumanizing of how we interact with each other in the market place, and it is the Right where corporate agendas predominate.   Most thoughts for the ages center around the person, not the corporation.

Corporate socialism for them, while the people get rugged individualism is not how Adam Smith would of wanted it, but don't believe me,  read him.  Take the responsibility.

What cannon of thought is being bequeathed from our times for tomorrow's?  At best, a quote book of the 18th century.   But somehow President Trump will have the greatest thoughts for all time, I'm of little doubt.


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