Saturday, February 16, 2008

Towards a New (Or Old) Philosophical Renaissance

For me and my DGB Philosophy, life is basically about three things:

1. Making 'either/or' decisions such as Obama vs. McCain in the past election; going to dinner and a movie vs. staying home and saving money with your honey; staying single vs. getting married; staying in a job or leaving it; and so on...

2. 'Juggling pie plates' -- meaning juggling value priorities, and/or attending to our first, most immediate and/or most important priorties first. In this scenario, other value-priorities are not excluded or rejected entirely but rather are left behind for the time being until they become more figural and/or at some point reach our threshold/pedestal of becoming top priority.

3. Integrating our choices, ideas, theories, lifestyle in a fashion that partly compromises our 'either/or choices' but also allows you to split the difference and 'take the edge off of each either/or choice solely by itself' giving you in its place 'good elements' from both parts of your potential either/or choice while not totally 'committing you in either particular direction of your potential either/or choice.

In an 'integrative choice', elements of your two potential choices 'integrate somewhere in the middle' and ideally give you at least part of the the best of both worlds while minimizing the 'repetitive negative side effects' that may be attached to one strict side or the other.

If you are a 'hard-line conservative', you may be accused of having no heart or compassion whereas if you are a 'socialist-oriented liberal', you may be accuse of having a 'bleeding heart' that encourages people to take advantage of you, left, right and centre.

Which is why -- as Aristotle stated -- 'the middle path is usually the best path'.

(Although perhaps not always the most exciting. The extremes in life do tend to generate more drama and excitement but also more 'hard falls'. Choice and degree of risk becomes relevant.)

Still, the most successful and healthy people seem to be the ones who 'integrate their potential bi-polar extremes the best'.

For example, the most successful and psychologically healthy people tend to be both strong-willed, assertive people -- and good listeners at the same time, able to put forth their own points of view with force and conviction while being open-minded enough to attend to other points of view as well.

These are two important pie plates amongst numerous others that people need to juggle. Very few people know how to juggle these two pie plates equally well. Usually people are either too strong-willed and close-minded or they are too passive and inassertive. These polar extremes - without the balance - is what keeps therapists and counsellors, ministers and priests, police offices, human rights activists and lobbyists, legal councils, unions, and politicians busy.

Again, the most successful people - and particularly the most successful leaders - can juggle both these 'plates' equally well, knowing how and when to be assertive and forceful with their ideas, while staying attentive to the needs, interests, and perspectives of others who may think differently and/or have important opposing viewpoints to offer. Our parliaments and our courts are generally too adversarial - putting on a 'dog and pony, smoke and mirrors' show that may make our lawyers, judges, and politicians rich but defies a more objective and integrative search for truth, justice, and civil balance. (added Jan. 26th, 2008, modified and updated again, Dec. 16th, 2008.)

DGB (Dialectic-Gap-Bridging) Philosophy-Psychology - my own unique, personal brand of integrative philosophy-psychology which aims to combine some 2700 years of philosophy and 100 plus years of psychology - builds upon these two basic principles over and over again but only as each is appropriate and relevant to the context: 1. making 'either/or' decisions'; 2. juggling philosophical and lifestyle 'pie plates'; and 3. integrating things, ideas, processes, and people.

Finally, sometimes when seemingly practically everyone else is being 'politically correct' and not talking or writing about particular overt and/or covert injustices -even politically and legally sanctioned injustices - it is necessary to take a strong, forceful polar perspective in the name of helping to move this corruption of justice, democracy, and equality, back towards the centre balancing point of the pendulum of justice so that all people can receive equally fair treatment in the name of the law, not just this or that privileged group of people who have gained an 'inside presence and power of influence' that is not democratic and fair to others who have not had their opinions, interests, and/or needs voiced - and who may be paying a heavy civil cost for this unfair treatment.

'Collusion' is when two or more groups of people conspire together - in private places and/or on private phone calls - to make a deal amongst themselves that benefits each other but excludes outsiders in the process who are being marginalized and hurt in the deal and have had no say in this collusion.

Collusion is undemocratic and unhealthy when striving for a fair and equal democracy but at the same time very common-place in narcissistic capiitalist environments where greed and selfishness rules. The corruption, pathology, and toxicity of collusion needs to be made transparent in a healthy democracy.

This is where 'Narcissistic - everyone for themselves - Capitalism' needs to evolve into a more humane and environmentally friendly form of 'Democratic-Multi-Dialectic-Humanistic-Existential Capitalism.' How do you have a democratic country when the economic and business philosophy and foundation of the country - in both Canada and The USA - is authoritarian; not democratic? It is my opinion that the best companies generally make significant use of some sort of compromised attitude - where workers with less authoritative power still do get well-heard and properly respected for their individual opinions, even if it does goes against the Corporate Status-Quo.

DGB Philosophy intends to put more and more ideas forward over time relative to what kind of changes might be needed to turn Narcissisitic Capitalism into a more Multi-Dialectic, Humanistic-Existential form of Capitalism.

Again, some innovative, enlightened companies have already moved in this direction. Perhaps we can do more. Correction: We need to do more.

Narcissistic (Conservative) Governments and Narcissistic Big Business are often too interconnected in ways that are collusive and non-transparent to the general public.

So too are narcissistic Liberal-Socialist minded Governments who often spend to much time behind closed doors with 'socialist, special interest, lobbyists). Again, 'political-special' interest collusion can result.

When two out of three groups of people have their hands in the 'money-pie' and the third group of people is being marginalized, left out of the equation, uninformed or misinformed, their money in effect being fraudulently used and/or stolen - it is time to start charging and/or keep turning over the politicians who keep practising 'collusion, corruption, and dirty politics' - and likewise in the world of business.

Corporate greed and gouging - including unions - will never be brought under reasonable control until it is confronted by the people being gouge.

DGB Philosophy has important humanistic-existential elements of Karl Marx and Erich Fromm in it, but also important elements of Adam Smith, John Locke, Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden and my Corporate father in me to run away from my evolving integrative form of idealistic, multi-dialectic, humanistic-existential capitalism.

I -- and hopefully you -- want the workplace to be a place where people are happy to go to and work in; not 'alienating prisons' that people are running to get away from.

We are all guilty of this corruptive mess called politics because we keep letting our politicians get away with fraud - and don't do anything about it. These practises will continue until 'dirty politicians' finally start going to jail. These same politicians would send you or I to jail in a heart beat for conducting the same type of business so why do we continue to let our politicians get away with the illegal behaviors they would send us to jail for?

Why do we allow political narcissism and hypocrisy bring down our democratic nation? We can sit on our hands and do nothing. Or we can do more to not let politicians get away with 'the dirty stuff' they get away with. Democracy starts with the people and ends with the people and how willing they are to be politically active.

When 'Big Government' and 'Big Business' become an end in themselves where huge amounts of money come from the people and don't go back to the people, when the middle and lower class get marginalized, abandoned, and is time for the people to take back their government from the politicians who are running it corruptively - or to keep putting new politicians in their until the situation improves. If we continue to do nothing about this situation, then we at least partly deserve what we get - a corrupt government. ('Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.')

Accountability and transparency - these are 'buzz words' that we hear all the time from politcians themselves, especially those on the election circuit. But until politicians start meaning what they say and saying what they mean, until we actually start seeing the types of ethical changes that politicans continually preach about, words are worth less than the paper they are written on. Maybe we should have 'politicians on probation' for one or two years before they are elected in for longer terms.

The more politicians have to answer to the people, the more they behave themselves. They are like athletes - the longer the contracts they get, the less they perform and the more they misbehave. Shorter 'contracts' might breed better politicians.

Politician cannot be trusted to be left alone -- or in cahoots with Big Business or Big Union or Big Socialist Special Interest Groups -- to function in the dark.

Because then the darker side of human nature will take over. Human narcissism - greed and selfishness - will prevail. Hobbes, Machiovelli, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, and William Golding (the writer who wrote 'Lord of The Flies'), will be shown to have been the best judges of human nature - i.e., those that wrote about the darker side of human nature or human behavior, because unconfronted, the darker side of human nature or human behavior will rule.

We need a new vision, a new spirit, a new idealism, a new code of ethics. We need some new Enlightenment Philosophers, some new Romantic Philosophers (to compensate for the Enlightenment Philosophers), even some new 'Grand Narrative' Philosophers to compensate for all the 'Post-Modernist' and 'Deconstructionist' philosophers these days. (That is, we need 'Constructionist Philosophers' as well as 'Deconstructionist Philosophers'.)

I know this is asking a lot but we need a fascimile of a new Jefferson, a new Franklin, a new John Locke, a new Diderot, a new Voltaire, Montesque and Tom Paine...We need a new Renaissance. We need a new culture not based strictly on personal narcissism...and we need more people worried about the state of the planet we live on.

We need more idealists who say what they mean and mean what they say - and don't use their 'professed ideology' as a way of winning votes from the public, then do what they want and bend their ideology to their hearts content once they get into power for however many years. The Canadian - and I assume the American - people are sick and tired of 'fraudulent ideology' whether it comes from a politician and/or a businessman.

The paradox of the situation is that Corporate America - while trumpeting the virtues of 'individualism' and the pursuit of 'The American Dream' - are far too often helping to squash this type of idealism and reality. That's what Marx called (fake, narcissistic capitalist) ideology'. (He just called it 'ideology'.)

The '30 hour work week' - a projected idealistic vision back in the 70s and early 80s - is looking more and more like a '50 and 60 hour week' for many today trying to balance their 'expense and stress-laden budget as they strive to just break even without collapsing from exhaustion. (I am presently working a 55 to 60 hour work week in a stress-laden dispatching job so (projectively) I know something of what I am talking about. And there are many, many others who have it much worse than me. At least I make enough money to partly justify my hours even if the rest of my life is paying for it. This past two months - December and January - a 40 hour week would not have come close to meeting my expenses.)

We need to keep encouraging the work of social-political activists like Lou Dobbs even if we don't fully agree with all his opinions. He is offering a new form of political idealism and economics - he calls himslf a 'middle class populist' which I like the sound of. I also like many of his ideas, his delivery, and his courage to not water down or sugar coat his delivery. More power to him! - dgb, jan. 19th, 2008, updated jan. 26th, 2008 updated again Dec. 16th, 2008.

I found this site on the internet full of quotes that I like. (See below for some of them.)

Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty


Milton Friedman, PhD, Nobel Laureate, 1912-2006: Rest in Peace.

"Maybe I did well and maybe I led the battle but nobody ever said we were going to win this thing at any point in time. Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it." - Milton Friedman

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." - Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

"A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high duties of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity, of self- preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of higher obligation. To lose our country by a scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself, with life, liberty, property, and all those who are enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means." -Thomas Jefferson to John Colvin, 1810

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Edmund Burke

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." - John Philpot Curran: Speech upon the Right of Election, 1790. (Speeches. Dublin, 1808.) as quoted in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, NY, 1953, p167 and also in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, Boston, 1968, p479

"But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government." - Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address, March 4, 1837

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." - Wendell Phillips, (1811-1884), abolitionist, orator and columnist for The Liberator, in a speech before the Massachusetts Antislavery Society in 1852, according to The Dictionary of Quotations edited by Bergen Evans

"There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men." - Edmund Burke

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary." - James Madison, Federalist no. 51.

"The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes." - Thomas Paine

"Voting is no substitute for the eternal vigilance that every friend of freedom must demonstrate towards government. If our freedom is to survive, Americans must become far better informed of the dangers from Washington - regardless of who wins the Presidency." - James Bovard in Voting is Overrated

(See the internet site for these and other similar quotes...just google the title: 'Eternal Vigilence is The Price of Liberty')


Scott Hughes said...

Hi David Gordon Bain,

That's a great great blog post. I especially like the quotes at the end. I especially like the unfortunately true one by Thomas Paine: "The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes."

I also like your point about the benefit of balancing being strong-willed with being a good listener. I am especially interested with the mix of philosophy with social and political activism.

Also, I want to invite you to join my Philosophy Forum.


david gordon bain said...

Thanks for the feedback, Scott. I just found it. (I'm running a number of different philosophical blogsites and often I don't catch the reader comments til days, weeks, or even months later -- depending on how active or inactive I am on the particular blogsite. Anyway, I will check out your philosophy forum in a few minutes, and then again later, when I have more time. Feel free to check back again any time you wish. Sincerely, dave bain. again.