iSoul In the beginning is reality.

Category Archives: Relating

Relating as persons: psychology, society, politics

Abstract and concrete movements

Abstraction in Western culture has increased over time, so much so that Hegel made this the engine of history: his dialectic is a progression from the concrete to the less concrete, the abstract to the more abstract. Certainly, the history of natural science shows this progression. Modern physics is more abstract than classical physics. Every science becomes more abstract over time.

Increased abstraction in society and politics requires larger collections of people. Equality with increased abstraction requires equality within larger groups of people. For example, pan-European equality is less abstract than equality within global equality. Increased abstraction requires loyalty to ever larger groups.

History does seem to progress toward greater abstraction. Tribal cultures gave way to city-states, then to nations, then to globalism. In the U.S., there has been a progression from an English culture to a European culture, to a Euro-Afro-Latin culture, to an increasingly global culture. Those who promote this movement are called “progressives”. Those who resist it or support caution about it are called “conservatives”.

In sub-cultures of the West and in some non-Western societies there are movements in the opposite direction, toward more concreteness. They are often called “regressive”, which assumes a prior progressive movement. They could simply be called “concretive” (or “introgressive”) since they prefer the more concrete to the more abstract.

Those who prefer more concrete or at least a less abstract culture are considered traditional, old-fashioned, or backwards. In order to engage their opponents, traditionalists need to justify their preference for the concrete in more abstract ways, which they may find difficult. But the concrete has its advantages as much as the abstract does.

One danger of greater abstraction is that one loses touch with concrete reality. After all, human beings are concretely embodied. Concrete food, shelter, and much more are necessary for human life. Traditional social and political structures have much experience and stability behind them and so “should not be changed for light and transient causes” (the U.S. Declaration of Independence). And the new global human who ignores the local culture where they happen to be is looking for misunderstanding and worse.

In fact, there is no global, pan-religious, pan-racial, pan-sexual, pan-economic, pan-linguistic culture. Is such a culture even possible? In this world, that is highly doubtful. People are both concrete and abstract, body and spirit.

Concrete and abstract movements both have their place. Cultures will lean more toward one than the other, but both are legitimate.

We the Society

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution famously begins, “We the People …” The state is based on the will of the people, which is properly discerned by representatives of the people meeting together. “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, …” declares the Declaration of Independence.

But what does “the People” signify? Is it merely the aggregation of individuals in a region? That would justify “majority rules” and other aspects of democracy. But what brings people together, what gives them a common interest? Is it not because they constitute a society? Yes, a mere set of individuals lacks the solidarity required to be a people. It takes more than people to be the People. It takes a society.

To properly “ordain and establish” (the Preamble again) a constitution for the state requires a society. Which is to say, a republic is constituted to serve society. That “government of the people, by the people, for the people” (Abraham Lincoln) is a government of society, by society, and for society. It is a state that serves society.

Society is the source for the state’s authority. The authority of the state depends on the society. The state has no independent authority of its own. “We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, …” (the Declaration again). That’s the society speaking.

The state is not instituted to change society or overrule society in general. Certainly, some elements of society need to change such as the criminal element. But that does not give the state authority to take the role of master over society as a whole. In a republic the state serves society. The state that seeks to dominate society in general is a tyrannical state.

The state in a republic always acknowledges the prior existence and authority of society. All actions of the state, all laws and interpretations of laws reference the society. If there is conflict within society, the state does not step in and pick a side. The state is neutral regarding the ways of society, neither endorsing nor opposing them. As society changes, the state will change because the people have changed.

Politics today is often between those who want the state to change society and those who want the state to serve society. Those who want the state to change society are promoting tyranny. Those who want the state to serve society are promoting democracy. The choice is tyranny or democracy. Let democracy succeed; let the people rule! Let the state serve society!

Kinds of rights

Human rights are the political rights people have because they are human beings. They apply equally to all because of their common humanity. There are several statements of human, or natural, rights. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights issued in 1948 is a statement of human rights.

Developmental rights are the political rights people have because of their stage of development, notably, childhood or adulthood. The rights of children differ from the rights of adults because of the differences between children and adults. Children require adult parenting, whereas adults do not. Adults can marry, whereas children cannot.

Parenting is a developmental right because it concerns the stage of development. Adults parent children, not the other way around. In the confused times of today, developmental rights are confused with human rights and children are treated as adults.

Sexual rights are the political rights people have because of their sex, that is, male and female. Sex is also called gender, although gender is a grammatical term, whereas sex is a biological term. The rights of males differ from the rights of females because of the differences between males and females. An unmarried male adult has the right to marry any unmarried female adult. An unmarried female adult has the right to marry any unmarried male adult.

Marriage is a sexual right because it concerns a sexual relationship that naturally leads to the birth of offspring. In the confused times of today, sexual rights are confused with human rights and the sexes are treated as if they did not exist.

Woe to the society that confuses childhood with adulthood and male with female. That society will learn the hard way the importance of developmental and sexual differences.

Communitarianism

This post is a parallel contrast to the previous post on Old style liberalism.

Communitarianism puts major emphasis on the freedom of communities to control their own destinies. Communitarianism is its creed; individualism and alienation its enemy. The state exists to protect communities from coercion by other communities or individuals and to widen the range within which communities can exercise their freedom; it is purely instrumental and has no significance in and of itself. Society is a collection of communities and the whole is no greater than the sum of its parts. The ultimate values are the values of the communities who form the society; there are no sub- or super-community values or ends. Nations are convenient social units; patriotism is a part of its creed.

In politics, communitarianism expresses itself as a reaction against individualistic regimes. Communitarians favored limiting the rights of individuals, establishing geocratic governing institutions, limiting the franchise, and moderating civil rights. They favor such measures both for their own sake, as a direct expression of essential political freedoms, and as a means of facilitating the adoption of communitarian economic measures.

In economic policy, communitarianism expresses itself as a reaction against individuals controlling economic affairs. Communitarians favor free cooperation at home and among nations. They regard the organization of economic activity through free private enterprise operating in a competitive market as a limited expression of essential economic freedoms and as unimportant in facilitating the preservation of political liberty. They regard cooperation among nations as a means of eliminating conflicts that might otherwise produce war. Just as within a country, communities following their own interests under the influence of cooperation indirectly promote the interests of the whole; so, between countries, communities following their own interests under conditions of cooperation, indirectly promote the interests of the world as a whole. By providing common access to goods, services, and resources on the same terms to all, cooperation would knit the world into a single economic community.

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Old style liberalism

The following excerpt is from “Liberalism, Old Style” by Milton Friedman, published in the 1955 Collier’s Year Book, pp. 360-363. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1955. Reprinted in The Indispensable Milton Friedman, Essays on Politics and Economics, edited by Lanny Ebenstein, pp. 11-24. Washington, D. C.: Regnery Publishing, 2012 (see here).

Liberalism, as it developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and flowered in the nineteenth, puts major emphasis on the freedom of individuals to control their own destinies. Individualism is its creed; collectivism and tyranny its enemy. The state exists to protect individuals from coercion by other individuals or groups and to widen the range within which individuals can exercise their freedom; it is purely instrumental and has no significance in and of itself. Society is a collection of individuals and the whole is no greater than the sum of its parts. The ultimate values are the values of the individuals who form the society; there are no super-individual values or ends. Nations may be convenient administrative units; nationalism is an alien creed.

In politics, liberalism expressed itself as a reaction against authoritarian regimes. Liberals favored limiting the rights of hereditary rulers, establishing democratic parliamentary institutions, extending the franchise, and guaranteeing civil rights. They favored such measures both for their own sake, as a direct expression of essential political freedoms, and as a means of facilitating the adoption of liberal economic measures.

In economic policy, liberalism expressed itself as a reaction against government intervention in economic affairs. Liberals favored free competition at home and free trade among nations. They regarded the organization of economic activity through free private enterprise operating in a competitive market as a direct expression of essential economic freedoms and as important also in facilitating the preservation of political liberty. They regarded free trade among nations as a means of eliminating conflicts that might otherwise produce war. Just as within a country, individuals following their own interests under the pressures of competition indirectly promote the interests of the whole; so, between countries, individuals following their own interests under conditions of free trade, indirectly promote the interests of the world as a whole. By providing free access to goods, services, and resources on the same terms to all, free trade would knit the world into a single economic community.

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Vital records of society

Vital records are the official documents of the birth, marriage, divorce, and death of members of a society. They are currently kept by an office of state government, but before the 19th or 20th century these documents were under the control of religious institutions, i.e., churches. For example, the state of Nebraska has birth and death records only since 1904, and marriage and divorce records only since 1909. Since marriage required a license, marriage certificates are often available since the 17th or 18th century in the older states.

State and national governments, however, have done poorly at this basic task. They have not recognized the personhood of children in the womb, they have made divorce “no-fault” and easy to get, and they have redefined marriage to eliminate the sex requirement. In some states, lawful death has been redefined to include assisted suicide.

With this in mind, it is time for religious institutions to take back the keeping of vital records. While legal requirements must still be met, religious requirements are different and need their own certificates and vital records. This is an opportunity to show the importance of recognizing the humanity of children in the womb by issuing a Life Certificate. It’s an opportunity to show the necessity for marriage to be kept for opposite sex couples only, and not same-sex or changed gender couples. It is an opportunity to set the requirements for divorce. And accurate death records would discourage the pretexts of assisted suicide.

Although religious institutions bear responsibility for this task, the operation may well be contracted out to a business. Because people move between the states and change church affiliation, it is best that a national database be established. This national database of vital records should be maintained with the highest integrity to safeguard how society treats the unborn, the institution of marriage, and the dying.

Sex and gender

Let us untangle the words sex and gender, which have become so confused and adulterated. In the past they were almost synonymous but today are quite different. The Online Etymology Dictionary notes:

As sex (n.) took on erotic qualities in 20c., gender came to be the usual English word for “sex of a human being,” in which use it was at first regarded as colloquial or humorous.

Academic theorists have successfully tied gender to culture, which can change with one’s place, time, or personal inclinations. Today there is no reason to use gender as a substitute for sex, for example on forms. Also one should not say sex when one means gender.

Let us then accept the simple distinction between sex, a biological term, and gender, a cultural term. In accord with this, let us distinguish male and female sexes from masculine and feminine genders. The former is fixed at conception, recorded at birth, and an aspect of physical embodiment throughout life.

Let us also acknowledge that there is no simple relation between male and female on the one hand, and masculine and feminine on the other hand. We could posit as a definition that masculine means the cultural expectations for males, and feminine means the cultural expectations for females.

But it would be simplistic to speak as though males are always masculine and females are always feminine. We are all a mix of masculine and feminine aspects, although their definition suggests that most males are mostly masculine and most females are mostly feminine.

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Deception technique

A common method of deception is for the deceiver (or group of deceivers) to strongly accuse someone else of doing what the deceiver is doing. The deceiver is attempting to deflect attention about what they are doing away from them. They want others to think that the deceiver is the last person who would be doing such a thing because they are so against others doing that.

Self-deceived deceivers do this as well, though unconsciously. They “do unto others what they do not want others to do unto them” in reverse of the Golden Rule. Beware: “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Mt. 7:2)

The clue that there is deception (including self-deception) is the emotion behind the deceiver’s accusation. The deceiver has little rational argument to offer but much suggestion, innuendo, and exaggeration. The deceiver may also tell lies about others (and themselves), which they might believe if they are self-deceived. There may also be “fellow travelers” and others who are duped into promoting the deception.

The mass media and social media unwittingly promote deception by sharing it with others as if it they were endorsing it. With many unsubstantiated accusations being spread by the media, people don’t know whom to believe. That allows even more deception to be introduced. It’s very difficult to find the truth in all of this. People even lose hope that there is truth somewhere. Reality is ignored until it comes crashing in.

Hopefully, this scenario won’t play out in contemporary life, but in the 20th century several countries experienced such a disaster, notably Russia, Germany, and China. May it not happen here.

Speaking of reality

Anti-realism has been popular among the elites for some time. This has led to anti-realist speech spreading to the mass media and general culture. It has also led to much confusion and foolishness. One wonders how it will end, but reality can be averted only so long.

As a start toward speaking of reality the following terms are offered. Note that “pseudo” has been added to anti-realist conceits. If not now, then at some point people will be speaking of reality and will need some terms such as these.

Many terms could be used for the sexual obsessions of the elites. There is pseudo-sex, which means the false couplings of same-sex duos; and the pseudo-sexed, which means the false identities of those who reject biological sex. There are male and female variations of these false couplings and identities as well.

Since these pseudo-couplings have been legalized, there are pseudo-marriages, pseudo-weddings, and pseudo-spouses, too. Some claim to be in transition between their sex and a pseudo-sex, as if there were a middle ground between true and false. The law of the excluded middle has no exceptions so we have pseudo-trans, which is a kind of pseudo-squared.

Politics is much infected with anti-realism as well. There are the pseudo-progressives, who want western civilization to return to something like its pre-Christian condition. Pseudo-liberals want less liberty for the people and less protection for the unborn. Pseudo-conservatives are trying to change things back to a non-existent past.

Even science has fallen for anti-realism. There is pseudo-time, sometimes called deep time, which is the invented world that supposedly existed before time began to be measured (so much for empiricism). This leads to pseudo-history, which is history supposedly turned into a natural science, or rather a pseudo-science. This includes many pseudo-events that no one ever observed and pseudo-dates that no one ever recorded.

To this may be added the attempts to turn reality upside-down with pseudo-heros and pseudo-villians, the pseudo-art, pseudo-music, and pseudo-literature that turn from reality, and the pseudo-religions and pseudo-scriptures that worship a pseudo-god.

One wonders if any area of culture has not been infected with anti-realism. While few will accept these new terms today, there will come a time when many will return to reality. This is written for them.

Logical centrism

Other posts on centrism are here.

A moderate is one who takes two opposing positions and selects something in between. The opposing positions may be anything, so there are many people who call themselves moderate (or sometimes centrist). But moderation in this sense is dependent on the different positions one selects as the ends of a spectrum of positions. Thus anyone can call themselves a moderate.

A logical centrist is one who starts with positions that are contrary opposites, that is, they are opposites that pre-suppose one another. For example, one cannot have up without down, forward without backward, tall without short, etc., so these pairs are contrary opposites. Also included are functional contraries, such as libertarian and egalitarian, since generally speaking increasing one leads to decreasing the other.

Note that contrary opposites do not include the contradictory pairs true and false, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, etc. since they do not pre-suppose one another. That is, the true, the good, the beautiful, etc., stand on their own, whereas their contradictory opposites do not.

What is the contrary of a market economy? One says there is no market for something if either its demand is nil or its supply is nil. So, the contrary of a market economy is one without demand or supply. But that does not mean socialism, the state control of supply and demand, which is contradictory to a market economy.

A market economy tends to encourage greater demand and greater supply by stimulating demand through advertising and increasing production through capital investment. Its contrary opposite would encourage less demand and less supply by promoting conservation, frugality, and living simply. The centrist then selects something in between the contraries of an economy that encourages production and one that encourages conservation.