Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Is Freedom possible without Justice? (2.23.09)

Freedom is a slippery term.  To try and discuss freedom is like trying to catch a fish with your bare hands.  Good luck with that!

I could have chosen to use the word liberty or democracy.  But I didn't:  Because I think the word freedom has been misused like bait to ensnare us into falsehood and wrong-doing.  As if freedom were so important that anything should be traded away, just to make sure we have freedom (or the illusion of it).  Indeed I'm beginning to wonder if we would be better off as a nation if we defined ourselves as a justice-loving people, seeking to ensure justice for all, rather than trying to remind ourselves over and over that our over-riding goal must be freedom.

So many trite phrases.  Land of the free, home of the brave.  I'm beginning to wish it was "the home of justice."  Remember that phrase of bush?  "They hate us for our freedoms."  Boy, doesn't that just sound like we have something so precious and they are after it or out to destroy it?  And therefore we must protect "it" at all costs.  But what is this "freedom" that we must protect, so much, that we're willing to wage a war of choice, abduct people, and torture them in the name of protecting our freedom?   At  what price have we traded our so-called freedom?  At the price of Justice. 

What about free market?  Now there's a term that looks like bait to me!  Call anything in America "free" and you can sell it like hotcakes!  That term has been misused to dupe people into believing that insurance companies can provide health care.  And that without insurance companies you don't have a free health care market place.   Who goes to a market for health care?  And where is this free market that provides health care?  Cuz I wanna go there and get some - especially for free!

I love how these people want to sell us on the free market and on the necessity of trading our freedom - in exchange for spying on ourselves, for abducting and torturing, for waging war - cuz the home of the brave is so afraid?  How they are forever trying to convince us that we are a christian nation...  Yup, these things go together for the folks trying to bait us into enacting their policies:  christian, freedom, and family values.  Except none of those words mean what you think they mean - at least not for the folks "selling" policies that would discriminate against gay people, against brown people (trying to sneak into our "free country" and partake of our freedoms!).  Yup, these same freedom-loving folk want to keep our freedoms for the free market and for those who live in the gated communities and go to the private schools and get bonuses for driving companies off cliffs!

Just to remind our freedom-loving christianists:
Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood...

Jeremiah 22:3
I looked up the words freedom and justice in the Bible.  Because of this PR campaign that's out to dupe us into going down a road where we'll trade anything to call ourselves a free nation.  A free christian nation.  You can try it for yourself right now.  Look up "freedom" and you get 21 times it's used in the whole bible.  Mostly in the Old Testament, connected with "freeing" slaves and captives.  You might also be interested to know that the Old Testament mandates you treat the "alien" among you "as your neighbor."  (Tell that to your republican politician who wants to jail folks for wanting to join us in this "free" country!)  But I digress.  Of those 21 times freedom appears in the bible, not once does it appear in the gospels!  Let me repeat that:  Not once!

On the other hand, when I looked up justice I found 194 citations in the bible.  Whereas freedom is associated with liberating people from slavery and captivity and wrong-doing (sin), justice is associated with the divine and as something we should all strive to do.  Justice particularly appears in moral codes.  It shows up a lot in the prophets, who constantly call people to do justice or who promise a time of justice, when it will flow down like a river.  Whereas freedom does not show up in the gospels, justice shows up associated with prophetic speech, very like the Old Testament usage of justice.  Which is not surprising actually, given than Jesus was a Jew.

Now I'm not writing here in an effort to convert anyone.  But I am writing in this vein because our opponents, those who want to claim the mantle of patriotism and the American way, are misusing terms to dupe the American public.  And I'm tired of it!

I'm sincerely asking:  Is freedom possible without justice?  You could even turn this question around.  You could ask whether a nation that pursues justice, teaches children to pursue it, rewards adults who pursue it, gives bonuses to bosses who pursue it, encourages political parties to pursue it, would actually embody freedom, democracy, equality and so on - all through aiming at justice first.

Sometimes it's important to disentangle means and ends.  And I wonder if freedom, which must be limited - so that everyone has some - is more of a means rather than an end (like free speech and freedom to vote).  And I wonder if Justice is an End.  One of those ends that is endless.  Where we can try and try to achieve it, to embody it, to make it central to our life.  But we will never plumb its depths no matter how hard or how long we try.

Could we not try to become a nation of justice?  Of justice for all.  Could we not concern ourselves with justice in every aspect of civic life?  From family, to neighborhood, to state or country, or the whole world.  It seems to me that if we truly pursue justice we cannot but achieve a measure of freedom for all.



You said it would take a few days and bam! Here it is. Good points. You must, we must, fight for justice everyday. That pursuit is never ending.
"You could ask whether a nation that pursues justice, teaches children to pursue it, rewards adults who pursue it, gives bonuses to bosses who pursue it, encourages political parties to pursue it, would actually embody freedom, democracy, equality and so on - all through aiming at justice first."
There is a lot of freedom for the top 1/2% of our population who own 40% of everything! And that caste seems to struggle to get more and more and therefore take more and more away from the rest.
I shall think about this some more and read the hundred comments that follow.
dd, your faith in me knows no bounds! :)
I think we need to watch the use of the term "freedom" or "free" this or that. Because it is in such subtle ways that the repubs bend the public to their will. Or seek to. And we need to arm ourselves here. For a struggle of such proportions as we may never have known. It's like a battle on our own shores. A battle for the heart and soul of America!
I've only really started a conversation. At least I hope it starts one. :)
Love your comment - I must tell you this, Thera.

So many trite phrases. Land of the free, home of the brave. I'm beginning to wish it was "the home of justice." Remember that phrase of bush? "They hate us for our freedoms." Boy, doesn't that just sound like we have something so precious and they are after it or out to destroy it?

Two summers ago, I read Christ Stopped at Eboli, Carlo Levi's account of the years he spent as a political exile in South Italy under Mussolini. When Mussolini invaded Abyssinia, as it was known then, he addressed the country by radio. Levi tells us that this is what Mussolini said about Abyssinia, word for word, on the radio in Italy in 1935:
They hate us for our freedoms.
I mean it literally when I say that cold chills came out all over me
when I read that.
Wonderful to see you here again, Tena! Glad you liked this!
Oh, my God! I'm going to search and see if I find a link for that on the web!
Thank you for the info!
Wow. Number one comment for the day.
And I agree with you about justice versus "freedom" and I think Carlo Levi would have agreed with you, too.

W/apologies for the thread-jack:
Hi, Tena - glad to see you back. Was gonna e-mail you last week, but I lost your e-mail address. If you still have mine, would you forward yours?
Cheers -
L @ Taos Pueblo
So glad to see your pretty face, ma'am.
Hi Thera, I'm just lunch-browsing around and then you hit me with this wall. - a good wall :-)
i'm still new here, but are you throwing around questions like this all the time? Unbelievable...
so here's the pug trying to catch fish with his stubby little paws.
1. 'freedom' is an incomplete expression without the 'from ...'
2. If 'freedom' is 'freedom from injustice' then you have your answer.
3. If 'freedom' is 'freedom to flourish' in one of its many senses, then things get prickly. Not that I want to defend injustice. But you have the flourishing of the individual and the flourishing of the community. If you opt for the latter like a platonist you end up with something that looks nothing like justice. If you opt for the former, you can go Nietzsche's way and you don't get anything recognizable as justice either. okay the pug's losing his fish now
just thought I'd throw that out there.
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
That is the greatest freedom. Inner freedom. If we can achieve that, we are truly free.
damn! that was my number 4!
Well, you know I could have written this from any number of perspectives, going any number of ways. You've got freedom "from" and freedom "for" and you've got many kinds of freedom and such latitude in how freedom is limited or not. For example:
A. I'm free to drive a car, so long as I'm licensed, not "under the influence," wearing my approved glasses, so long as the car is registered, insured (in most states), has all its requisite required safety and EPA features, and I follow the rules of the road.
B. I'm free to marry, so long as I'm of age and my intended spouse is of the opposite sex (in all but a few states).
C. I'm free to have a child. Period!
D. I'm free to vote if I'm of age and a citizen and registered.
So I looked at those things. And I considered freedom of religion and of speech and assembly.
But I was really more interested in the way that "freedom" has been stretched as a term for use in political persuasion and propaganda. In the way that America touts itself as "better than" but at the same time treats its own people (and even many other countries ) as "worse" than.
So I realize you could quibble all day about the specific meanings of freedom - but I really wanted to move on to connecting it with "justice" - of which I've written a great deal of late, though I didnn't link to all those blogs.
Please keep nibbling at the edges, however. Because my intent is to start a conversation and to get us to look carefully under rocks and listen carefully for the discordant meanings.
I think this is an important thing to mull over. To reconsider what are our national values and how we prioritize them.
Once again, you're talking just beyond where I'm able to follow. I have think on all you've said.
And if somebody else can put this together in a more cogent way, that I can agree with, great!
Sorry, I've missed all the past stuff, will take a look...
Try here. And it pretty much links back to all of them (or most).
thanks. hope its not another of these 300 page threads... lol!!
You were lucky to arrive here after most of the trolls left. So if you read down some of those threads you will see endless arguments in places, especially when I called for "simple Justice." Oh, boy, did the trolls go wild with that one!
Yeah what happened to all the trolls. There was one little guy when I started, and then he faded away too. Extinct - like the dodos... oh well. Intellectual darwinism perhaps. lol!
Obey is not trying to express something over your head or mine. INDIVIDUAL NEEDS VS. NEEDS OF SOCIETY.
For heavens sakes TheraP, you have probably read 100 books that touch on that. Your whole Zen thing.
I had slobbered on somebody's blog yesterday about verbiage. Cover. 1798 or thereabouts, Adams asked for a received the Alien & Sedition Acts. Putting people in prison for speaking out against governmental actions. Taking individual rights away.
Today we call it the Patriot Act.
If I ever see a piece of legislation that says the Freedom Act, I will read every single word and read every liberal's take on it.
Getting back to Obey who is a great deal brighter than me. All, and I mean all, rights listed in the Bill of Rights have to be interpreted. And the courts will inevitably end up using some 'balancing test.' Balancing the individuals rights against the need of the society.
We do not have freedom of speech, unrestrained. We just don't. You know, I just can't stand up in a theater and yell fire unless I have reasonable cause to believe there is a fire.
The idea of Justice as a person holding a scale goes back to Maat, an Egyptian figure usually represented by a feather. If you have equal weight on both sides of the scale, a feather will push one side down. That concept of 'tipping the scales' is four, five thousand years old.
W and his minions were arguing that when the needs of society are increased, individual rights must be ceded to the state. Our war on terrrrrrism must be completed before rights are ceded back and I say f..k you, that war has been going on for four thousand years, and that means we never get our rights back.
The scales of justice. Always weighing, always balancing. A process. And yet it is an end is it not. For Mandella, justice was at least partially met when he was let out of prison after 20 some years. And a little more justice was meted out when his dreams of a more free South Africa were met.
Oh, I am rambling.
Recommended! Yes, Justice for all.
That the VP would suggest it was not necessary for a prisoner to know what charges they were under should be outrageous. When we fail to confront how far down the slippery slope of dictatorship this statement exists, we have lost our sense of justice. Cheney comes from the land of the CEO, where justice is optional. But this is a democracy and justice is required.
Thank you, dd. That was really beautiful. Yes, we're always striving for a balance. And Justice is more associated with that than freedom. But by using the word "freedom" the repubs tug everybody into thinking that there is this goal of total freedom. Freedom to go bankrupt if you're sick and need healthcare. Freedom to starve on the street if you've gone bankrupt. Freedom to pave your own highway and make your own vehicle to drive on it and refine your own gasoline after you build your own well for oil and so on....
It's like a big comedy - if the nation would just wake up and see the truth the repubs are peddling!
Thanks DD. I'm still running through your old threads. But that one helps a lot! much catching up to do...
DD, and Thera too because it's her post: Does liberty carry more responsibility than freedom does, or is neither responsible by itself without justice? Is the use of the word in the Pledge of Allegiance inspired by the catchy French Liberté?
If the Pledge ended "with freedom and justice for all", and we followed its intent, Justice could seem to have a hard row to hoe. I get an image of vehicles traveling helter skelter in all directions with no traffic lights or Stop signs, just some unlucky consequences for the many.
Maybe I'm nitpicking.
Maybe the use of freedom - as in "they hate us for our freedoms"-by GWB was crafty, deliberate framing. Or maybe growing up in peculiar privilege defined "freedom" in a perverse way for the shrub and shaped his disregard for the common good.

Justice is a virtue. Freedom is like happiness - a state (relative to other states). I'm not sure 'freedom' carries responsibility, no more than happiness does. For that reason, I think Justice is more important, in order to limit freedom so that mine does not restrict yours or the US's freedom does not restrict that of other nations. Again, it's a very slippery topic to discuss.
The Pledge is a strange animal. It was a late addition to our national traditions, written by a baptist minister in 1892. No other nation, to may knowledge has such a pledge. And as such, it does not trace back to the founding fathers or founding documents, other than this minister's perusal of those documents when developing his "pledge to the flag."
Stop and think that even when this nation began, with words saying "with liberty and justice to all," we were a nation of slave-holders and we were systematically pushing native americans out of their lands. Only white men participated in voting or could hold office.
Another of the things I'm mulling over these days is to what extent a nation, founded upon certain principles, which it ignored from the beginning as "universal principles" (i.e that we are endowed by the creator with "rights" such as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness") - so, to what extent hypocrisy in the founding of our nation has left us with an indelible and still yawning rift - and whether that can truly be bridged or healed. That's where I'm going with this.
Maybe the use of freedom - as in "they hate us for our freedoms"-by GWB was crafty, deliberate framing. Or maybe growing up in peculiar privilege defined "freedom" in a perverse way for the shrub and shaped his disregard for the common good.

GWB was never crafty or deliberate because he never had the brains for it. His 'team' including Rove were and that they never wrote anything or said anything that was not crafty that was not deliberate and that was not framing.
And they all totally disregarded the 'common good'.
For w, freedom was getting out of a couple dui charges, or getting out of 2 years or so of National Guard Service after getting in for the purpose of getting out of having his ass shot off in Vietnam.
This would take more research on my part. But is it not interesting that Liberty might be anthropomorphised sp into a woman like Justice is? What is it, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.
I think Liberty is Freedom. It is not justice because justice demands the weighing.
That is why I am so taken by Oleeb and Zipper today. If you wish to know how I feel, read them.
And the Statue of Liberty was given to us by France. So your quotation of their "liberte, egalite, fraternite" (wish I knew how to do those little accent marks!) fits perfectly! It was their statue!
I define justice on a societal level as the balance between liberty and equality. So yes, I do see justice as what we should be striving for as a nation, because to err too far in the direction of liberty or equality is to invite criminal exploitation (liberty) or a panopticon prison (equality). I believe that the neoconservatives define freedom as "the ability to do what we want up to and including reshaping the world into a perpetual American military/industrial hegemony." So when Bush said that they hated us for our freedoms, then he was right if you use that definition.
That is the problem in general: language. We have these words, like freedom and justice, which mean a multitude of things and must be adapted to both unique situations and universals. This leaves language open to exploitation. Specifically, it lets politicians define a word for themselves without telling the public at large. The public will hear the bromides and interpret them through their cultural filter. Bush says "freedom," and we think "bill of rights, waving flag, smiling babies, baseball, etc." when what he means is "trade routes, war profits, resource control, shock and awe, etc." It is this cognitive dissonance that allows this nation to commit untold horrors in exchange for Happy Meals. I mean, what kind of justice exists when my flat screen TV is made by Chinese prison labor? Or if the gas in my car comes from land being occupied by armed forces in contravention to international law? Or if our retirement investments are underwriting a criminal deriviative ponzi scheme? In all these situations, there is freedom of action, but the consequences are perilous to the fate of humanity.
We have to hold ourselves accountable for our language, especially our trite cliches that invite unconscious orthodoxy.
What a stunning comment! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Zipperupus!
Zipper, you see I read blogs just for this:
"It is this cognitive dissonance that allows this nation to commit untold horrors in exchange for Happy Meals"
So I am early today, but I hereby award you the Dayly award for the line of the day, given to you from all of me. Really really nice line.
zipperupus, going OT to inquire if you knew that you were highlighted in the 2/6/09 report on Pew Research's Blogs an Outlet for Economic Outrage?
While some liberals were concerned that Obama's comment elevated Limbaugh, others felt it was a shrewd move. Writing on the Talking Points Memo café, blogger Zipperupus claimed that Obama highlighted Limbaugh so that the controversial talk-show host would be seen as the face of conservative opposition to Obama's stimulus plan. Using chess as a metaphor, he wrote, "I look forward to Obama being able to continue wearing the moderate mantle while singling out obstructionist voices who have diminishing credibility. This will create more and more checkmates over the next 8 years."
That is great Seashell. Just great. One of our best quoted. And who finds the cite?
Jees you are good at that.
The puppy is known for driving all around the Internets, dd. :-)
Good blog, TheraP. The eyes (and ayes?) are upon us!
The puppy rawks.
And seashell, in one stroke you emphasize the importance of what we are doing right here at TPM!
Kudos to Zipperupus. And kudos to TPM! And kudos to the TPM blogging community!
The eyes of Pew (and others ) areupon us! Wow!
Wow... I'm speechless. Thanks for pointing that out. I have some reading to do.
Excellent post as always TheraP! Thank you!
Can there be freedom without justice? No, not really because those that are oppressed are not free. And none of us are really free if anyone remains oppressed. Not just the Bible, but human history teaches this lesson over and over again.
The freedom the powerful tout to the population isnot universal freedom but freedom for themselves which is inextricably linked to their control of property. Because they own vast wealth, their freedom is essentially unlimited. They tempt those with little or nothing with the idea that this freedom must be maintained, not for the wealthy, but for the little people themselves who are dreaming of one day owning property on a scale with the truly wealthy. It is, of course, a cruel joke and a trick, but nonetheless an effective one. This simple enticement is why the lottery is so profitable for the states that run it. It is literally true that you can win the lottery and each person with a ticket/chance is potentially a winner, but the lottery is rigged. The odds of winning the lottery are incredibly remote and so virtually impossible for anyone to win, and we all know this: that for all but the tiny number of lucky winners, it is a total waste of money. But people are wedded to the fantasy that they might be the winner next time. The lottery, as we all know, is rigged. It's a money making scheme. It is not a way for little people to get rich. The idea of winning the lottery propels sales, and such a tiny number of people benefit it really is a highly deceptive scheme and intentionally so.
So too is our "free" nation rigged in advance to allow only a small number into the priveleged class of wealth and property, but we are constantly reminded that we must maintain this rigged system because "you too, have the opportunity" to become one of the lucky few. It is a cruel joke and an impossible dream for all but a tiny handful of the population. Most did not earn it, but inherited it. It is a strategy for maintaining the status quo and ensuring that those who rule us continue to do so and that their freedom is maintained at all costs: including the lives of our sons and daughters in imperial wars.
Back in the 1900's the IWW had a wonderful song, sung to the tune of the ancient Christian Hymn known as the "Gloria Patri." The Wobbly organizers would sing this song and others, equally satirical and biting, in the mornings as workers entered the gloomy factory gates and in the evenings as they left. Because it is so short I'll put it all out here for folks to sing to themselves if they know the tune:
"Praise boss when morning work bells chime!
Praise him for bits of overtime!
Praise him whose wars we love to fight!
Praise him fat leech and parasite!
Common folk have always been seduced by the Horatio Alger notion of becoming rich themselves and thus, preservation of what the rich have has become paramount under the guise of preserving what the commoners have. The average American is made to feel lucky to have whatever it is he/she does possess by way of property and wealth and to fear the loss of it at the hands of his/her neighbor (especially if that neighbor is "different" in any way). He/she is encouraged to view other people who live and work like themselves as a threat to what little they possess and furthermore to identify not with their neighbors and those whose circumstances are like their own but with the wealthy and powerful whose interests are opposed to their own!
Most Americans don't realize how pathetically little we have and how grotesquely rich the wealthy and powerful really are. Because their view of reality is so terribly skewed, it isn't uncommon for a person who makes say, $100K a year to identify not with his neigbhor who makes a third what he/she makes but has much in common with, but instead with the "Masters of the Universe" bringing down hundreds of millions annually. The $100K person dreams of living like the $100 million dollar people knowing it will never happen, but even more so he/she fears losing what little they themselves have managed to accumulate. This perpetual state of fear and mistrust of those whose interests are the same as ours and the voluntary surrender of our trust to those whose interests are antithetical to our own is the magic of American freedom.
On occasion, the wealthy so abuse their privelege and become go gluttonous that they cause the common people to stir from their slumber and recognize who the real threat to freedom and justice for all happens to be. At those times, we see social and political conflict that may or may not result in a reordering of priorities, power and wealth. The New Deal was such a time that promised freedom for all through economic and political justice and once America started down that path the results were enormous, vastly beneficial to the nation and her people and we then became the envy of the world.
In defense of their interests and in an effort to restore their former stranglehold on freedom, the interests of predatory wealth took up a long march against the New Deal that culminated in the regime of George W. Bush and at the height of their power, as is their wont, they lost control of their urges and unleashed an orgy of unrestrained greed and gluttony the likes of which the world has never known. The outcome is the world economy in ruins. This orgy has begun to open the eyes of the people once again and we can only pray that as in the 1930's the people will demand and get a reordering of priorities, wealth, and power for a second New Deal that will put us back on the path of justice which leads toward justice for all. But this time, we must make the reordering permanent and impossible to dismantle.
Thank you for this outstanding comment, oleeb. I was thinking of you when I wrote this post. (and you notice I quoted from Jeremiah - and made a particular point of how the prophets over and over called for justice, as you do so eloquently!)
You've added immensely to this thread!
Many thanks TheraP.
Oleeb, you sure make me feel better about my first comment. There is not one word in that string of yours that I would disagree with.
I am not even jealous that you wrote it. It is so clean and clear. My problem is with those that would disagree. And I have heard them and seen them and I just stare at them in wonder.
Thank you.
I have to apologize. The ancient Christian hymn tune is "The Doxology" often known as "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow" and not Gloria Patri. The words just don't go with the tune of Gloria Patri. Realized the mistake after I was already away from the computer.
That became quickly clear! But I couldn't recall the name! :)
Just underscoring this:
none of us are really free if anyone remains oppressedThe dignity of one is connected to the dignity of all. Not just all Americans. But all people. Everywhere!
Sorry, that should have read:
none of us are really free if anyone remains oppressed
The dignity of one is connected to the dignity of all. Not just all Americans. But all people. Everywhere!
I usually proofread...
The great leap of human development will be when enough human beings fully understand and take seriously what you just wrote above. It is no less than the recognition that we are not simply here for ourselves, but for eachother without any distinction between whether we are near or far from eachother.
Naturally, we all understand that as long as humans exist there will be inequalities. Things will never be perfect if people are involved. However, we also understand that it is within our power as human beings to make damn sure, despite all the imperfections will know will arise, that there is a floor below which no human being should be allowed to slip, that people must be treated with dignity and we must all provide for eachother if any of us is to survive, thrive, and to be free to fully express our humanity in the moments we are given.
Our heritage as humans is a long and brutal story of competition and struggle. It is a story of conflict after conflict punctuated on occasions of peace, prosperity and plenty. But competition for resources has historically compelled humans to renew conflicts of various sort out of a sense of fear and need to control resources.
It is time now to leave that behind because we realize that with all we have achieved this no longer need be the case. There does not need to be a priveleged few. There are plenty of resources for every human today to live a joyous, abundant, and productive life if we manage what we have been given by way of natural resources with just a smidgen of responsibility and care. If the sacrifice required is that there are no more Sir Allen Stanford's then so be it. I think we'll make it without them.
We must understand that oppression comes in many forms, it's most brutal and corrosive forms are not naked force but the far more seductive but deadly forms that divide humans, produce voluntary, slef-imposed oppression and deny the fundamental truth that humanity is one irrevocably connected fabric. All of us in existence today are connected to every human who ever lived prior to our births and we are, at this very minute, connected to and impacting the lives of every human being who is to come.
When the moment arrives, and a critical mass of revelation has been reached by the living, that is the day justice and freedom will begin to be seen on earth. This is the result humanity has always striven for, but the fears and small mindedness of our leaders and ourselves have distracted us from what we know in our bones is true, and that is that beyond being here to love and care for one another, we really don't have any idea why we are here.
Greed, which is born of fear and gluttony is antithetical to the idea of caring for one another. If we are ever going to achieve our purpose, even for a brief moment in time, then it must be a conscious and determined effort that brings it about. Every individual has a part to play in reaching this one certain purpose of humanity.
The story of humanity gives us hope for achieving this goal because despite all the conflict and violence, we have established a clear trajectory of progress over time. But this point in time is absolutely a critical turning point in the development of humanity. It may well be the pivotal moment in the history of humanity.
Survival, for the longest time, was the primary struggle but we have mastered the art of survival in earth's environment. The conflict and competition of the past clearly is not necessary. In order to move on to a better phase of humanity we must pass one final, but treacherous test of survival. That test is essentially whether or not we will allow the greed, avarice and megalomania of a small handful of humans who hold the reigns of power and wealth to destroy us and all we have achieved. Our ultimate survival test is whether it is within our capacity that we insist upon respecting and honoring eachother enough not to destroy the planet and ourselves through out of control industrialism or out of control military conflict and ultimately nuclear war.
I believe we can do it, but our leaders will not lead us there voluntarily in America or elsewhere. We common people all over the earth will have to demand that our leaders take us there and if they refuse we shall have to replace them with leaders who get it and are willing to lead in that direction.
This theme brings to mind another song from the early 20th Century, called Bread and Roses. It is a hauntingly beautiful tune born out of a bitter, but successful strike in New England led by the IWW. In this strike, men and women fought for progress together on several fronts against the vicious mill owners who used every possible means to crush the workers efforts at establishing greater equity and humanity in the mills. It was the women of Lawrence who stood out and captured the imagination of workers around the country with their fierce courage and determination as evidenced in this song.
Personally, I think it is beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes when I hear it and even when I read it. Bread and Roses demonstrates, among other things, the idea of our connectedness and how both the past and future are connected to the present. The first time I heard it was before a crowd of several hundred thousand on the elipse in Washington back in 1981. It was sung a capella by several women with marvelous voices that gently pierced the air from the Washington Monument to the White House. To me it is not only beautiful, but a sacred song.
"As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
"A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses,
For the people hear us singing: "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"

"As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!

"As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for -- but we fight for roses, too!

"As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days.
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler -- ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
And so, as you read I hope you too can feel our ancestors crying out to connect to us today, teaching us and urging us to do so with eachother and with the future. There is no power greater than that which, as one common humanity, we already possess.

We are privileged to have you among us, oleeb. Your comments could be speeches!
That was so moving. Especially the song. But really the whole comment.
Blessings upon you. I love how you put eachother together. Very moving.
I couldn't get to it, but the suggestion of youtube took me there and I found an old Joan Baez version.

Good version and great photographs!
Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. Then--I forget. When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool—then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: “The People,” with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision. The mob—the crowd—the mass—will arrive then.
Sandburg said, in 1916.
I dunno Oleeb. We haven't managed to remember yet.
You know, that is what I've told both of my ex-wives and all of my girlfriends,
"No Freedom, no Justice!"
... and you know what? I'm single and free!
hooo! hooo!
Gees, I just kept telling em: PLEASE DONT LEAVE ME!
I only cried that in private...
... because the cry I hold dear is a bastardization of the great Freddom Fighter, Wallace;
"They can take our Love, but they will never take our... FREEDOM!"
But I also say, in private, the pain of that freedom is lonely, indeed!
See TheraP. What did I tell ya. Oleeb, Zipper and Obey, and you have a discussion that will go on 24 hours. This is a great topic. And all these good minds.
Is freedom possible without justice?
I would say sure, but is it worth it?
In my view, freedom is what allows us to define our selves, to establish ourselves as sentient independent beings, but pure freedom is a very scary thing. Once you remove all the bonds that tie you, you remove that which matters.
Justice tempers freedom, it establishes the balance between the loneliness of the absolute ideal and the anonymity of the crowd. Through justice comes empathy of the other, and with it the companionship and mutual respect we all need to thrive.

Thought provoking post and comments.

Saladin, I am with TheraP on this.
Justice tempers freedom
Yes. Well done. Easy, Simple, thoughtful...
Beautiful - especially this:
Justice tempers freedom, it establishes the balance between the loneliness of the absolute ideal and the anonymity of the crowd. Through justice comes empathy of the other, and with it the companionship and mutual respect we all need to thrive.
Exquisitely said.
Now if Larry weighs in, he can move directly from your comment to Kierkegaard or Nietzsche. Quinn too.
Boy, you nailed it!
Meant for Saladin above of course.
I'm more than willing to toss a bit of Nietzsche into this discussion:
Wouldst thou go into isolation, my brother? Wouldst thou seek the way unto thyself? Tarry yet a little and hearken unto me.
"He who seeketh may easily get lost himself. All isolation is wrong": so say the herd. And long didst thou belong to the herd.
The voice of the herd will still echo in thee. And when thou sayest, "I have no longer a conscience in common with you," then will it be a plaint and a pain.
Lo, that pain itself did the same conscience produce; and the last gleam of that conscience still gloweth on thine affliction.
But thou wouldst go the way of thine affliction, which is the way unto thyself? Then show me thine authority and thy strength to do so!
Art thou a new strength and a new authority? A first motion? A self- rolling wheel? Canst thou also compel stars to revolve around thee?
Alas! there is so much lusting for loftiness! There are so many convulsions of the ambitions! Show me that thou art not a lusting and ambitious one!
Alas! there are so many great thoughts that do nothing more than the bellows: they inflate, and make emptier than ever.
Free, dost thou call thyself? Thy ruling thought would I hear of, and not that thou hast escaped from a yoke.
Art thou one ENTITLED to escape from a yoke? Many a one hath cast away his final worth when he hath cast away his servitude.
Free from what? What doth that matter to Zarathustra! Clearly, however, shall thine eye show unto me: free FOR WHAT?
Canst thou give unto thyself thy bad and thy good, and set up thy will as a law over thee? Canst thou be judge for thyself, and avenger of thy law?
Terrible is aloneness with the judge and avenger of one's own law. Thus is a star projected into desert space, and into the icy breath of aloneness.
To-day sufferest thou still from the multitude, thou individual; to-day hast thou still thy courage unabated, and thy hopes.
But one day will the solitude weary thee; one day will thy pride yield, and thy courage quail. Thou wilt one day cry: "I am alone!"
One day wilt thou see no longer thy loftiness, and see too closely thy lowliness; thy sublimity itself will frighten thee as a phantom. Thou wilt one day cry: "All is false!"
There are feelings which seek to slay the lonesome one; if they do not succeed, then must they themselves die! But art thou capable of it--to be a murderer?
Hast thou ever known, my brother, the word "disdain"? And the anguish of thy justice in being just to those that disdain thee?
Thou forcest many to think differently about thee; that, charge they heavily to thine account. Thou camest nigh unto them, and yet wentest past: for that they never forgive thee.
Thou goest beyond them: but the higher thou risest, the smaller doth the eye of envy see thee. Most of all, however, is the flying one hated.
"How could ye be just unto me!"--must thou say--"I choose your injustice as my allotted portion."
Injustice and filth cast they at the lonesome one: but, my brother, if thou wouldst be a star, thou must shine for them none the less on that account!
And be on thy guard against the good and just! They would fain crucify those who devise their own virtue--they hate the lonesome ones.
Be on thy guard, also, against holy simplicity! All is unholy to it that is not simple; fain, likewise, would it play with the fire--of the fagot and stake.
And be on thy guard, also, against the assaults of thy love! Too readily doth the recluse reach his hand to any one who meeteth him.
To many a one mayest thou not give thy hand, but only thy paw; and I wish thy paw also to have claws.
But the worst enemy thou canst meet, wilt thou thyself always be; thou waylayest thyself in caverns and forests.
Thou lonesome one, thou goest the way to thyself! And past thyself and thy seven devils leadeth thy way!
A heretic wilt thou be to thyself, and a wizard and a sooth-sayer, and a fool, and a doubter, and a reprobate, and a villain.
Ready must thou be to burn thyself in thine own flame; how couldst thou become new if thou have not first become ashes!
Thou lonesome one, thou goest the way of the creating one: a God wilt thou create for thyself out of thy seven devils!
Thou lonesome one, thou goest the way of the loving one: thou lovest thyself, and on that account despisest thou thyself, as only the loving ones despise.
To create, desireth the loving one, because he despiseth! What knoweth he of love who hath not been obliged to despise just what he loved!
With thy love, go into thine isolation, my brother, and with thy creating; and late only will justice limp after thee.
With my tears, go into thine isolation, my brother. I love him who seeketh to create beyond himself, and thus succumbeth.--
Thus spake Zarathustra.
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, and Thomas Common. 1900. Thus spake Zarathustra: a book for all and none. London: William Reeves.
First Part; Zarathustra's Discourses; XVII. The Way of The Creating One; pg 70

To which I would only add a suggested principle for any covenant among men of the future:
“I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.” R.M. Rilke

Larry, you have just put your finger on the greatest outrage of torture. That someone's solitude is invaded, demeaned, damaged if not destroyed. By other humans. Well, even the destroyers have in some ways destroyed themselves in undoing another.
That is a wonderful quote. I love Rilke. (I had a wonderful professor of German - for some reason this makes me think of him.)
It reminds me of Letters to a Young Poet
Live the questions...
Although to claim I am a fan of William Blake would be an outright lie, here's a snippet of his that has seemed to stick with me for a very long time:
There will be as many hypocrites born as honest men, and they will always have superior power in mortal things. You cannot have liberty in this world without what you call moral virtue, and you cannot have moral virtue without the subjection of that half of the human race who hate what you call moral virtue.

William Blake, "A Vision of the Last Judgment"
Gilchrist, Alexander, and Anne Burrows Gilchrist. 1880. Life of William Blake, with selections from his poems and other writings. London: Macmillan and co. pg 198
Another: Wow!
Is freedom....not to be confused with free will.... but is freedom as a political concept possible without justice?
Short answer: No.
Because...don't we need to be conscious of justice when we exercise our freedoms? I mean, we can't just decide to make a new religion that includes human sacrifice, then hide behind the 'freedom of religion' spiel and believe we will be exculpated from justice when the law comes pounding on the door. No, justice is gonna bite us in the ass if we do that because sacrificing humans is all kinds of wrong.
Gee, TheraP, there are so many definitions of justice. This is hard. I didn't know there was gonna be a test today. I would've studied. Okay, I wouldn't have studied, but I would have at least looked the words up in the dictionary. Okay, I wouldn't have done that either. I'm done.
What a genuine and wonderful answer! You get an A!
I'm beginning to understand why Billy Glad left. But this was super-duper wonderful and I am so impressed with everyone's brilliance, especially how they stroke each other's egos over and over again. I won't say more, because I don't want to insult all my friends here, but really guys; you can do better.
Jan, please feel free to elaborate on your concerns and how you would like to see people implement them. Many who've posted above, including myself actually, are unfamiliar with what you refer to about Bill Glad leaving. And it might be helpful if you'd provide some context and some suggestions.
For the benefit of new people, Jan (CVille Dem) has been a longtime (and respected) blogger here.
You can certainly put up a blog on this if you prefer, but it's fine with me if you express your concerns here at greater length.
Thera, I need to sleep on this, but let me say first of all that I appreciate your empathetic response to my comment. I have been here for about 5 years, and so I do have some history. Billy Glad and I have argued over time -- his contention was that TPM was just an echo chamber. I disagreed strongly with his comments, which I considered pouty and negative.
I find myself recently, and especially after going through this thread, wondering what the conversation has been about. Go back and check the posts; it is like a Mutual Admiration Society rather than an exchange of ideas.
I don't agree with Billy that you have to disagree with everyone to make the discussion valid, but it strikes me that much of this is all about the brilliance of the commenter rather than a response to what was said.
Like I said, I need to sleep on this, and I may be just cranky. I have been here a long time, and I have seen trends come and go, but this tendency towards multiple self-congratulatory threads seems to me to diminish the conversation rather than to move it forward.
I realize this will piss a certain number of people off, and again, I want to recognize and appreciate the way you responded to my comment. You are an adult, and obviously -- a therapist!!!! (and a good one at that!)
Glad you wrote back. Please continue the conversation. To be honest, when one puts up a blog, one never knows if people will agree, disagree, where things will go. I value your input. And I appreciate constructive criticism - even if that sounds unduly laudatory.
I also wonder if the recent lack of trolls is simply resulting in a kind of relief reaction. On the other hand, maybe the huge market melt-down is leading to a need to band together for solidarity and comfort.
Stroking egos..?! I got an F and was sent off to the library to get an education. LOL!! Thera's a hard taskmistress, when she needs to be. There's stroking when the stroking's deserved, as far as I'm concerned. Kudos all round. These are all great to read... and reread!
F??? All I did was make a suggestion! :)
For Jan to judge - this is Thera on me "...And if somebody else can put this together in a more cogent way, that I can agree with, great!"
That's some serious pug-slapdown. (and well deserved it was!)
That was not meant against you! But if I inadvertantly dissed you, then I am sorry you felt dissed (using the language that is so prevalent today!). Or, alternatively, I am heartily sorry for all my sins! Take your pick!
No. You were quite right. and I wouldn't want it any other way. For the reasons Jan's bringing up (though I don't think his worry is well-founded here).
Cville I like you but for the record Obey is ugly.
Not that I have met him, but look at that avatar.
See. And usually I only let women stroke me. I am a sexist in that way of things. I better amend this.
I ONLY let women stroke me!!!
Stroke you?! Hah. I've seen what you up to with the ladies when the lights go down on some of those dying threads. And you're calling ME a dog?! (though i'll concede the ugly...)
I knew you would pick this up
For the record, Obey, Mr. TheraP is a Spaniard and crimes of passion may possibly still be legal there! So, be assured there is no stroking on these threads! Dead or Alive!
Hi Thera - sorry about the ruckus yesterday. afraid I didn't have time/brain to contribute much on the serious matters. But this thread and the older ones made for some incredibly edifying reading. Thanks again.
must be off...
PS- my lips are sealed :0)
You know, this was not a ruckus - not compared to how it was when I was systematically targeted by a small group (or one posting as a group?) a bit back.
Threads have a life of their own.
This is one where there have been so many fruitful comments, that I would go back and hedge a lot of what I said yesterday, taking into account the insights of others.
Obey is cute and so are you! And I appreciate that you are still my pal. (That pug in the chair makes me realize he is not peeing on somebody's rug)
That's a life-size chair, my friend, so don't mess with me and my water-retention problems!!
Billy Glad could have stuck around. You can stick around too. You and I have had disagreements. And in this environment there is nothing wring with attaboys or dittoes. This is a complicated subject that has been discussed throughout human history, from Hammurabi to George W. Bush.
I note that you did not say anything about the thread or about anything specifically written in response. Instead, you came in here and shit in the center of the room like a jealous puppy. So, how about you backtrack and actually add something to the conversation?
I shit in the center of the room like a jealous puppy?
I "can stick around?"
I have been here for years longer than you, and I have been contributing to the discussion for a long time. I know how easy it is to react to what is perceived as a negative, and also how easy it is to lash out, but it doesn't always carry the conversation forward any more than a lack of constuctive criticism does.
A suggestion: Take a look at TheraP's response; she wanted to understand what was going on -- I am not some troll that parachuted in to TPM last week to drive everyone crazy. We all need to pay attention to each others concerns, and if you re-read what I wrote, that is pretty much my point from the get-go.
This is the central problem: the assumption is that if you aren't part of the swarm of locusts that moves as a group, you must be a troll.
Now you are beginning to see what it's been like for others here.

No, just rude people.
You are one of the most obnoxious posters here. You come off as smug and arrogant and when met with any resistance you pull out the "old lady" victim card.
So we know it's not about "rude people". It's about length of posting. People here act like TPM is their private treehouse club and others have to pay homage to a small group of old-timers. And try to fit into their Echo Chamber.
You have been angry with me ever since my first post when I pointed out that your over-the-top behavior may have hurt your ward.
You keep invoking that you are a Christian. There's something called the golden rule. That's a good place to start. Then worry about service to others.

No. You are just rude. If you don't like me calling you on it, quit provoking me.
Would it help if I said I was sorry you are rude? And please link to the times I have "played the old lady card." You seem to think it's been a frequent occurrence, but, clearly, you've mentioned it more than I ever have, and your stalking and sophomoric personalization is becoming tiresome. I have ignored it, but for your sake, I will mention it one last time. I hope you understand that others will point it out, even if I never do. It is tiresome for them as well.
Just sayin'. You might want to knock this childish vendetta off, it adds nothing, and does you no good.
Like you were "provoked" by all the people at the Florist's office? You realized I had a point after my first post and then you got even angrier at me because you couldn't handle the truth.
Obviously you stopped with the "old lady" victim card... because it looked silly once I called you on it.
And lets not forget witty posts like "Trucknutz. Also." we know what the general level of the swarm is.
You have anger management issues, Bwakfat. Everything here "provokes" you. And then you call posts from quinn "BS" and "propaganda".
You are angry at not having as much as you think you are due. Every one of your posts can be summarized that way. It's as simple as that.
Yes, as a member of the human race I was provoked by those treated others as less than human. Why weren't you?
You didn't get it then, and I doubt you ever will. I was hardly the only one that 'splained it to you, a lot of people tried, but you were more interested in putting me down personally than to listening to reason. I see that you still are. What you are doing to me is called stalking and you are in violation of the TOS here. Keep it up, I can point to blogs that I didn't even comment in where you were trashing me by name for some made up grievances. It's pathetic and creepy.
What is obvious to everyone is that you have a vendetta, and THAT reflects rather poorly on you.
Get some help.

Believe me, if I were to stalk anyone, I wouldn't start with an "old lady".
You treated people in the florist shop as less than human. It's like you screaming to some secretary at Exxon about the obscene profits made by the oil industry and then wonder why she doesn't do anything about it.
Threatening me with your imagined Terms of Use violation is a violation of my Terms of Use. People talk about other people on these boards all the time. You are a legend in your own mind.

Geeez, give it a rest! First of all you accuse Bwack of hiding behind the "old lady" excuse, and now you say she only used the term once because you shot it down. From your very first post you have had nothing but vitriole to offer, and you particularly like to jump on Bwack for some reason.
You complain that everyone is wrong except you, and then you accuse others of a "victim complex."
You can keep it up; it is your priviledge, but I don't imagine it is a very appealing way to participate.
Some examples:
You are boring. Now I'm going to hand you your ass. You are one of the most obnoxious posters here. You come off as smug and arrogant and when met with any resistance you pull out the "old lady" victim card.
I could look up more but I don't feel like bothering. Like I said after your first bunch of toxic posts: I'm sure people scatter pretty quickly when they see you coming. I guess it is because they all have bad taste, eh?
No, you actually are really really rude. Bwack is right.
You continue to break your own toys. And then go running around asking others' "fix it?"
This commenter is adept at accusing others of it's own worst transgressions, C'ville.
It will keep coming back with different usernames in an effort to 'even the score' with other commenters it fears and loathes, yet will never be able to. Because the faults it attributes to others are merely it's own obvious failings to everyone but it.
Pity and move on.
See above, chicken-friend!
We can do better than Nietzche? Not sure about that.

True. The Nazis admired him endlessly.

More people than the Nazi's have appreciated Nietzche. They probably liked chocolate too. Should we all hate chocolate? Lighten up.
Chocolate didn't provide the central philosophical template for the notion of the Super-race.

Give me a break. So, if Nietzche didn't exist we would have been spared Nazism? They were also inspired by ancient fairy tales the Gods of the north. Shall we never speak of Odin or Thor? Will reading Nietzche make you a Nazi? Please, get over yourself and chillax. You're taking it too far. If you don't like him okay! I certainly don't agree with everything Nietzche had to say, but last I looked he was a fairly important figure in the intellectual life of the western world not primarily known as an inspiration for the Nazis.
Oleeb, you're leaving out all the good parts - his sister and her husband, the revisions to Wille, his relationship to the nationalists in general, etc. It's worth the telling, because ilove doesn't seem familiar with it.
You are boring. Now I'm going to hand you your ass.
Before insanity struck him down in 1889, at the age of 44, Nietzsche lived in fear of being misunderstood. “Above all,” he wrote in Ecce Homo, “do not mistake me for someone else.” He was a conservative elitist, an aphorist of brilliance championing individual greatness in the midst of mediocrity. His writing is explosive and apocalyptic, dense and complex, and often shocking in its violence. But Nietzsche was no Nazi. He vigorously opposed German nationalism, as he rejected all mass movements; he had no time for ideologues, mocked the notion of a Teutonic master race and loathed anti-Semitism in all its forms.
I never said he was a Nazi. However, he was a conservative elitist, an aphorist of brilliance championing individual greatness in the midst of mediocrity.
Huzzah! Celebrate!
You've just described William F. Buckley's point of view as well.

Yes. and Ben Macintyre is god.
Listen up you stoopid peoples!
Ho Chi Mihn admired Jefferson and Washington immensely. Paul's Romans 13 has been used for almost 2 millennium now as a Christian foundation for the evil fantasy of "just war":
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. - Romans 13:1-4
Should the works of Washington, Jefferson and the Apostle Paul be simply tossed into the waste bin of history, because they have been exploited through misunderstanding as justification for immoral acts? In response to your uninformed and insensate derogation of Nietzsche, which did not flow from you own cerebration, but was instead rote repetition of uninspected echos you heard across a chasm of nonunderstanding, with a snippet from Emma Goldman, realising that this too will probably fall upon deaf ears:

The most disheartening tendency common among readers is to tear out one sentence from a work, as a criterion of the writer's ideas or personality. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, is decried as a hater of the weak because he believed in the Uebermensch. It does not occur to the shallow interpreters of that giant mind that this vision of the Uebermensch also called for a state of society which will not give birth to a race of weaklings and slaves.

Goldman, Emma, and Hippolyte Havel. 1917. Anarchism and other essays. New York: Mother Earth Pub. Association. Preface, pg 50.
Nietzsche's Übermensch is entirely unrelated to what the Nazis bastardised it into. Übermensch is a human who has transcended the yoke of unthinking existence that affects most of humanity. It is a person who acts not from external constraints, but upon their conscious will. It has nothing to do with wars of empire by Nation States, or antisemitism.
And one day Zarathustra made a sign to his disciples, and spake these words unto them:

"Here are priests: but although they are mine enemies, pass them quietly and with sleeping swords!

Even among them there are heroes; many of them have suffered too much--: so they want to make others suffer.

Bad enemies are they: nothing is more revengeful than their meekness. And readily doth he soil himself who toucheth them.

But my blood is related to theirs; and I want withal to see my blood honoured in theirs."--

And when they had passed, a pain attacked Zarathustra; but not long had he struggled with the pain, when he began to speak thus:

It moveth my heart for those priests. They also go against my taste; but that is the smallest matter unto me, since I am among men.

But I suffer and have suffered with them: prisoners are they unto me, and stigmatised ones. He whom they call Saviour put them in fetters:--

In fetters of false values and fatuous words! Oh, that some one would save them from their Saviour!

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Thus Spake Zarathustra", Second Part, XXVI. the Priests
Well done PCA.
I think each person has to arrive at Nietzsche’s doorstep as a result of their own philosophical quest. One can read the pre-Socratics and marvel at the immergence of analytical reasoning out of the religious cacophony that was the ancient Levant. As Nietzsche would have it, Dionysius wandered from India to the Greek peninsula, his beautiful raiment falling from his body until he stands on the shores of the Aegean as the naked Apollo. But then the Pre-Socratic progress stalls, and the reader is disappointed. A brick layer, Socrates, full of this Greek optimism for the mind and free of the vestments of the clergy, takes up the great questions of human existence. Once again the reader is in awe. The only sadness is that there is not just one more dialogue to read. So one is left to reread and reread the ones we have. What is next, the reader asks? Well there is the metaphorical Plato and the metaphysical Aristotle, each a genius in his own way. But neither has the strength of Socrates and one continues to wish for just one more dialogue.
A millennium passes with its droll obsessions over empire and decay. Eventually the West picks up where the pre-Socratics left off. This time the disputations are large in number, wide in scope and full of subtleties. Engrossing as they are, eventually they too stall. Like a ship that has run ashore, philosophy lies proudly aground, stuck on the rocks of Hume and Kant. Once more the reader is disappointed.
As if in the scene at the watering hole in Lawrence of Arabia, the reader sits and waits. Slowly a figure emerges in the distance. I am not alone, the waiting reader thinks. Indeed you are not. Nietzsche has arrived. It is again time to talk.

Larry, this drifts OT, but may amuse you. My philosophy background is non-standard from the normal University track. My first real introduction into Philosophy came as a two volume gift from a US Army Surgeon in Vietnam, and were textbooks from his early University life that covered Nietzsche and Sartre, using excerpts of their writings and essays about them written by others. The surgeon perversely thought that they would be good for my soul at that time, although hardly chicken soup, and for this I am grateful.
I mostly skimmed shallowly around Nietzsche at that time though. Several years later, in a University Intro to Philosophy course, I first encountered Plato, was extremely under-impressed with his ravening, and vocal about it in class. Positing an Ideal Form, as a permanent externality is more than just fatuous religiosity, it is dangerous thought, which can be leveraged as rationalisation for manifest evil. (In the Ideal Form of America, the government does not torture, but we exist in the Real Form, we facing the circumstances of a post-911 world...) An in class crack that piety to Plato was the successful seduction of young male students, got me an out of class appointment with the Professor, who was genuinely amused with my distaste for Plato, and made a personal syllabus change for just me, during the rest of the Greek weeks in his class, which was loaded up on St. Aquinas. Most of my University Philosophy after that was from a Political Science angle, and again, Plato was whacked. Philosopher Kings - You cannot be serious - Unless of course, I get to be The Philosopher King of The Hill.
Prior to my entry into University studies, I'd already delved personally into some Chinese philosophy: Lao Tzu, Sun Tzu, and fairly deeply into the I Ching. This greatly affected my understanding of Nietzsche's Übermensch, as it seems a somewhat dissonant analog to the I Ching's "Superior Path".
Recently, I had the great fortune to run across a Jefferson letter to Adams, and the reply, in which both men discussed their distaste for Plato. This was a personally pleasurable find. Here's a citation for them, with a Google Books link:
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, July 5, 1814;
and the reply:
John Adams, letter to thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814
published in:
The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (ME); Volume XIV, pp 144-161

I used to hear the music of the spheres, but shock-therapy cured me.
If you were in Vietnam, you are in your 60s. This explains why you don't get Twitter on the other pages.
I know. You older people have more wisdom. And yet, and yet, someone your wisdom is a relevant for us as your elders were for you.

Are you incapable of proper reasoning, and lost within an existence filled to the brim with massive fail? No, I've not yet seen my 60th birthday, but it will come soon enough. I was picked-up in the lottery draft. If you're able, you might be able to derive a fairly close guesstimate of my age here.
Your crack about my non-understanding of Twitter provides further evidence that you do not possess basic data retention skills. Whether the cause for this is slovenliness, Acute Logic Deficit Disorder (ALDD), or possibly a combination of the two, I've yet to determine. The conclusion reached in my recent blog post about The GOP's recent discovery of Twitter, wasn't that Twitter possessed no utility, but that its 140 character maximum ceiling on messages, and its constantly streaming lack of permanence made The GOP's assertion that Twitter could lead them out of the minority wilderness pure fantasy. The post was a satirical look at the GOP's web ineptness, and included noting one of the many Republican thefts of intellectual property published on YouTube, as well as pointing out that Pete Hoekstra's position, as the ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee, strongly indicated that the Republican Party is afflicted with a pandemic of elected intelligence failures. If you had actually read and comprehended that post, and my subsequent comments, you would have known that I have at least one Twitter account, and had derived a modicum of utility from it.
Maybe your problem understanding all of this is a resultant from your acquisition of knowledge in messages streams comprised of 140 characters or less, and its attendant short-attention-span effect upon your mental faculties.
I just re-read the Twitter thread, PCA. If there is someone that doesn't get it, it would be the author of this line:
If the Republicans are using Twitter, they know what they are doing. Posted by iloveitall, February 18, 2009 8:30 PM
I've been pondering this for several days, Larry. I never sat and waited for Nietzsche. I must have bypassed that somehow. Whatever arrived, arrived internally - can't say if it was created from within or arose from some deep underground river I connected with or whether it was more like that Kierkegaard quote you gave us the other day. For me the spiritual path seems to have sufficed, so long as I kept "climbing" beyond the institutional ladders (as I've described elsewhere).
Not that it matters. But I seem to have skipped over philosophers at a certain point. I really don't know. But I find it interesting.
I do recall a point where I felt unsure of everything except the ground I was standing on. I recall that afternoon well. It was at a reception in the Catskills for the Dalai Lama. It was the briefest of interactions, but it powerfully made clear that Holy Mystery resides within.
Namaste. The Dalai Lama embodies Namaste.
He points to the Holy in You.
Let freedom ring!
And justice play out!
here, here!
Justice to the rescue! :-)
This is indeed a thorny issue, and I think that picking "freedom" is particularly acute.
I believe that there has been a deliberate attempt to redefine the concept of freedom. I believe that freedom has been redefined as capitalism - I have choices of what to buy. Further, democracy has been conflated with capitalism. I hear this all the time from my students. Therefore, the neo-conservative (and neo-liberal in a slightly different way) has resulted in "bringing democracy" as "bringing unfettered capitalism." That was very clear in the initial actions taken in Iraq after toppling Hussein.
It has been said that in the U.S. we have a tendency to think of freedom within the context of freedom "to." Whereas, many think of it as freedom "from." In other words freedom to ... go where you want, buy what you want to buy, say what you want to say, watch what you want to watch. Freedom "from" would be such things as freedom from the intrusive power of government, or corporations, or other sources of power within the society.
It is clear that most of those are no longer concerned about the freedom of their privacy, or the freedom of being detained without charges (habeas corpus), or the freedom from illegal search and seizure, or the freedom from being stopped and searched.
Many, perhaps most, in the United States, think that we have freedom to choose what we watch and consume, and ignore who controls what that is - or that our choices are being limited.
"Justice" on the other hand is a thornier issue. Are we talking distributive justice, procedural justice, or "fairness?" In the U.S., distributive justice is often seen as "socialism" or "communism." On the other hand, procedural justice may be more palatable - the laws and procedures are administered in a consistent manner. Of course, that "consistency" may embrace significant inequality.
Is it "just" to give everyone in an organization a 10% raise? Some would say "yes" because everyone is getting the same amount. Others would say "no" because people didn't start in the same place so that the outcome is unequal. In other words, a person making $7/hr gets a .70 raise ($7.70/hr) , but someone making $70/hr gets a $7 raise ($77/hr).
There is a moral relationship between freedom and justice, and there is a point at which total freedom essentially means no justice. If we focus on total individual freedom, then there is no common good, and no consideration of when my freedom harms someone else. Of course, total individual freedom doesn't even take into consideration "the commons."
Oh well, this response has gotten way too long. Sorry about that.
Excellent issue and discussion.
If I have a million dollars and all my bills are paid. I have a lot of freedom. A lot of these comments touch on materialism and I am a materialist.
I have to go back beating dead horses again though.
You know this, Justice, I know it when I see it. Or Pornography I know it when i like what I see. WHAT!!!
The blow-up again. Taking that photo and just blowing it up until it is just a bunch of dots.
Nothing there has form.
Stand back from the original picture and look at a form.
We have one percent of our entire adult population in prison.
Is there something wrong with that picture?
Over half of those in prison are minorities. Is there something wrong with that picture?
Well, conservatives will bring out charts.
Charts showing that everyone gets a lawyer. That ninety per cent of all convictions are based upon confessions with no trial.
Black people have single parent households.
Black people do not graduate from HS as much
Blah, blah, blah
Speaking of pictures, has anyone seen good solid photo shots of slums in Chicago, Detroit, NYC, L.A.? Anyone see the stats on murders? Demographically? And otherwise?
Conservatives will say, the opportunities are there, individuals must take responsibility.
There is something happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?

GO dickday!
That was exactly what I was implying with:

Of course, that "consistency" may embrace significant inequality.
There is (and always has been under colonial rule) embedded inequality. For example, "All men are created equal." Clearly that did not mean all humans - we are still working on that.
Oh I was going to preface this rant with expressing my gratitude at what a great grasp of this you have. I get carried away and forget the blood, guts, toil, sweat and tears.
Like I was saying to Oleeb, I agree with everything you say (regardless of being called an echo circ jerk or whatever they are talking about). But there are many people out there who disagree.
How? that is where is Mr. Jones comes in. Remember when Repubs stood against a 7 buck minimum wage with no bennies?
There cannot be any concept of justice in that kind of attitude.
They stand against ANY minimum wage. I remember the arguments that unemployment of young African American men way BECAUSE of the minimum wage. That if they could be paid less, then they would be hired. But then the modus was to recruit and hire undocumented (and contracted) immigrant workers. They were much more "biddable" from a business standpoint. While somewhat of a slant from the current discussion, it definitely relates to "justice."
Your comment gets very much at the issues I was pointing to. And you've helped to tease out Justice a bit. I'm better at unearthing assumptions, rather than labeling things. And I tend to look at the dynamics, how things interact, but it's very helpful to ask a question, as you have, about how you decide on what constitutes a just raise. For myself I'd be all for those lower down getting a larger percentage raise. It's a moral dilemma kind of question.
I agree with the Echo Chamber concept. It's not mutual admiration. It's that there is a pile-on to chase other people's ideas. Destor is an exception. Same with quinn, until he caves to the peer pressure.
Simple answer: you've broke it, it's all yours!
Now, onto the blog itself.
There are a lot of words in this blog but it doesn't amount to much but semantics.
To answer the question posed by the title: yes, it's possible, it depends how you define justice. There are some people screaming about Richard Nixon still, who was never brought to justice. Well, let it go. The freakin' world is coming to an end and we need to focus on the fact that the ship is sinking. There are only 24 hours in a day. You don't have time for the Senate to investigate crap (George Bush, baseball, etc.) and do it's job. When we get stable again (if ever) then we can go back to that and the Warren commission.
People get away with crap all the time. It happens. It's called life. The trick is to prevent it from happening in the future, not sweating past indiscretions.
I'm starting to get sick of this meta-crap. I'm pretty new here, but in the past week I've had my ass handed to me by eds, Quinn, DD, Thera, Larry, and a bunch of others. And a lot of simple informative education kindly passed on by others. And THAT is why I keep coming back: i learn alot. There are a lot of these long-post threads taking on the big questions where people take a lot of time and effort to put out a cogent well-argued thought, and they should be congratulated for that. It's not ego-stroking. It's recognition. And then we can move on to the agreements or disagreements. So if you've got more than this half-baked shit-sandwich of an idea, go ahead. Otherwise go elsewhere.
I didn't actually hand his ass to him. I would have kept it. He took it back. That's my complaint. I wanted it. I love beautifull things.
LOL!! now you've got me worried...
I believe the rule is “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” And let the devil take the hindmost. No wait a minute, that’s not what I mean. I’m not the devil. And it is spelled “Hinds,” not “hind.” I just meant that I enjoyed your contributions and found them stimulating. Oh that doesn’t sound too good either. Ah the heck with it. It is too hard to be nice. I think I’ll just be cranky like that other guy.

It was a dark and stormy.... er, comment
Another storm? Quick. Get the flamingoes out of the water before a lightningbolt strikes and... Oops. Too late.
Smells like...
OK. OK. But this time it’s a nice béarnaise sauce. No more bar-b-que. I’ve got a lot of dead flamingoes here, not chickens. They are very elegant birds and deserve better.
Watch out for all that butter. It could clog... things.
I enjoy a good béarnaise sauce as much as the next chicken, but usually on a nice tender steak with sautéed mushrooms.
OK. How about mustard? Flamingoes and mustard! On a bun! With dill pickle relish. Is that OK? Jez.
I don't eat flamingos anymore than I eat squid. I can't eat a creature that blushes.
Let me know about the mustard, though. Maybe Hollandaise?
I don't want to get into the whole Dead Parrot sketch but let's just say the flamingoes aren't dead. They are just sleeping and leave it at that.
Now I'm going to make a vegi-burger and eat some dead soy beans.
Have I mentioned lately that I like you?
Pleasant dreams.
You just mentioned the same circle jerk society that created the board in their own bland image. The swarm.

There's a circle-jerk society?! No one told me about this. Must be in that 'chat room' everyone keeps talking about. Now I feel left out. LOL!
it's kind of boring, but no secret

Thanks Bwak! (though I was just messing with ilove - I'm not really into circle-jerks... lol.)
If you are bored on a Friday night, there are worse places to be.
Your recent comments indicate to me that you want to discuss. When you first showed up (and truthfully, most of your comments) tended to be very judgmental and confrontational, but now they seem like more personal anger than trollishness.
So I am making an overture, and I admit it is because you said you love Douglas Adams, who is a hero of mine. Maybe we can find a way to have a conversation -- we probably both need to tone down our posts. How about it?
I've been posting the same way like day one. If you detected anger, it was the frustration of being gang attacked by the people who have created the Echo Chamber talked about.
Maybe now you are just listening differently now that you are getting hints about what it's like to be on the other side.
I'm glad you are listening differently. You may not find me so anger if you don't do the pile on with the others.

Yes, I guess you only post one way.
Yes, only one way. I treat people in kind.
Once again your intuition serves you well. So I will merely cut and paste my description of your talent from last January:
“Once again you have grabbed the tail of the tiger which is the best way I know to show everyone that there really is a tiger out there. And this one is a very big tiger. “
The people of the U.S. are about to learn about the relative value of freedom and justice because they are about to be forced to cooperate.
They are about to have to trade their free time for hours spent working in the community food garden. They are about to have to judge that no one is free to eat all of the tomatoes just because he can get away with it. The justice of fair distribution will be found more valuable than the freedom to waste. They will have to trade more of their free time in front of the television for time in the kitchen canning and otherwise preserving the bounty of the earth in a frugal and efficient manner. And then they will have to abandon the freedom to consume their largess without first considering when they should share some of it in the off season with others, yes, even strangers.
Or not and then what will they have?
In the same way they are about to discover that they are not free to use their money any way they wish, nor their individual power nor their separate advantage. We are fond these days of saying to those who have served, the veterans, “Thank you for your service.” This nation is about to learn about service.
Or not and then what will they have?
Words like freedom and justice and liberty are like circles that intersect one another. They can be parsed into discrete subjects for the purpose of conversation, but in the real world they are intertwined. These times call for more justice, not more freedoms.
Personal I do not care one wit where a person looks to find their sense of justice. From the earliest codes of Zarathustra and Hammurabi to the myriad covenants of communities large or small – none ever proclaimed as the guiding principle of their social contract “He who has the most toys wins.” Even in the era of Divine Right of Kings, the monarch held his authority only as a trust for the well being of all. As each abuse of their prerogatives brought harm to the general population, the noose closed tighter and tighter around that system until there are no respected monarchies left on earth. Societies are formed to realize, well, as we used to say here:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Or not and then what will they have?

Once again Larry you manage to draw a lot together. And move us forward. Community. That's where we're headed. And how does one build community? That's becoming an issue right on this thread. (as you say: Or not and then what will they have?)
Indeed. Apropos of our conversation over the weekend, it does seem as if Sancho Panza visits these discussions from time to time, telling us we are all acting like fools. But in the novel as in life, Sancho Panza does not really want Quixote to stop what he is doing.
To raise a discussion of the relative place of freedom and justice is to ask fundamental questions about the social contract. As I suggested back in January, I think we are a nation in search of an identity. There is no shortage of ancient wisdom about the nature of social covenants. I just quoted the one we call the Declaration of Independence. What is lacking is a living dialogue about that wisdom as we attempt to fashion our future. It is your insight to raise these questions.
Bravo! Very well said!

Ah yes ...
Serve Somebody
Great blog, Thera, I am not disappointed. You said many things I'd like to say, but better than I could ever hope to.
As for the Bible, and freedom, as a fellow Catholic, (putting on private school garb for an instant) I may have a minor quibble. Freedom according the the Good Book, is a given. We were given the ultimate freedom. Free will. The choice to choose good over evil. I do believe that although the word may not be used, the intent permeates the Tome. Just a personal opinion.
As to justice, I agree, in our secular lives it embodies the principles of freedom, for where can there be any true freedom, without justice?
We are imperfect, as is our system of justice, but I do firmly believe that our founders were approaching the divine when they attempted to define it.
That it has been twisted and bastardized beyond recognition is, as a Catholic might say, the 'devil's' work. The instrument the unrighteous use to oppress the righteous, or at least, the inoffensive. (Including that very same Catholic institution)
I will think on this a bit. No doubt this is not my last word.
This school stuff. Does this have anything to do with Chucky Todd? Perchance to dream?
No I went to Catholic (Private College Prep) School for 6 years. I was thinking pleated wool skirt and knee highs.
P.S. I went to a Catholic College - indeed the same one Pelosi and Sibelius attended. :)
Apparently DD passed out.
What is it about knee highs?
Look you (although it might have been Stilli) but I think is was you, expressed fantasies about Chuck Todd when I was blogging about the cooking channel about a cook in an evening gown.
I never get to pass out before the first.
Thanks for your point about free will, bwak. May I suggest, however, that the Good Book expects we will use our free will in the service of justice? (the way it's described it's like "the spirit" - it's almost personified at times in the bible, like wisdom can be. Very lovely reading those passages on justice if you look them up)
But I completely agree about free will as the given. And I like how you ultimately ground justice in free will. I like that. It makes it into a nice feedback loop. You have been really helpful. (It reminds me of Psalm 1 actually, about which I've thought a great deal.)
I look forward to your further reflections here.
Thanks, I really will try to be relevant here, Thera. I appreciate everything you've done here, and I apologize for my very human failing of being unable to resist poking at a troll with a thorny stick.
One of a myriad of failings.
I would concur with your suggestion, about 'the service of justice' which opens up other possibilities in my tired mind. I know that what I was taught (service above self) has something to do with it, but, the synapses ain't firing. I will sleep on it.

I love your every post and comment, bwak! You are a TPM treasure! (even if some would think all I'm able to do is praise...)
I did do one blog on "in the service of justice" a bit back.
But there's so much to think on here. And truly, you add a lot. The humor is hugely important! (did you know that humor is a very high level coping mechanism? truly!)
We all have our failings. Perfect R not us!
Peace and get your sleep, dear bwak!
In case this was missed up thread...

I posted the following link in response to J. Lawrence Hinds' thought provoking comment.
♪♪♪♪ Serve Somebody ♪♪♪♪
(press the top listen button on the left and scroll down for lyric)
Freedom is gone forever.
Justice is a figment of our imagination.
Get used to it.
Why should I be hobbled, because of your infirmity?
A scholar am I still to the children, and also to the thistles and red poppies. Innocent are they, even in their wickedness.

But to the sheep I am no longer a scholar: so willeth my lot--blessings upon it!

For this is the truth: I have departed from the house of the scholars, and the door have I also slammed behind me.

Too long did my soul sit hungry at their table: not like them have I got the knack of investigating, as the knack of nut-cracking.

Freedom do I love, and the air over fresh soil; rather would I sleep on ox- skins than on their honours and dignities.

[. . .]

We are alien to each other, and their virtues are even more repugnant to my taste than their falsehoods and false dice.

And when I lived with them, then did I live above them. Therefore did they take a dislike to me.

They want to hear nothing of any one walking above their heads; and so they put wood and earth and rubbish betwixt me and their heads.

Thus did they deafen the sound of my tread: and least have I hitherto been heard by the most learned.

All mankind's faults and weaknesses did they put betwixt themselves and me:--they call it "false ceiling" in their houses.

But nevertheless I walk with my thoughts ABOVE their heads; and even should I walk on mine own errors, still would I be above them and their heads.

For men are NOT equal: so speaketh justice. And what I will, THEY may not will!--

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Friedrich Nietzsche, "Thus Spake Zarathustra", Second Part, XXXVII. Scholars
This was a remarkable thread, not least because it was a collaborative effort among people who not only care but are joined in common cause. I do not know how you could read it and express nothing but pessimism. Read it again, please. And today, find a woman who has inspired, or does inspires you and take her some bread and roses. You'll feel better for it.
Thanks, Thera et al for the inspiration your words give me. Sorry I did not have time to participate.
Let us never discount the good karma of a wonderful reader! :-)
Excuse me but what planet are you on?
Did you not notice our former president take this nation to war citing information that was ambiguous at best. And which has resulted in thousands of American deaths and cost many hundreds of billions of dollars?
Nor would there be an instance where persons who are members of the class of taxpayers be required to compensate members of the class of investors for their investment losses.
Excuse me for being rude but your head is where the sun doesn't shine. Pull it out!!!

I don't care about your seniority... it doesn't give you license to project general concerns into an individual thread topic. It would have been better for you to set aside those thoughts for a conversation of your own that you start. Instead, you shone a spotlight on your concerns as being valid... using your "freedom" to criticize the thread's dialogue, which was TheraP's to conduct.
You may have been around here for years, but behavior is behavior. I didn't call you a troll. I called out your specific actions in the confine of this conversation. If there were congratulations going around, it is because several individuals contributed some outstanding insights that cast light on their worldview. What did you do but complain about it? Honestly?
So when I called you a jealous puppy, I meant it. You are being a killjoy and then hiding behind your ethos. Stop it.
This is in reply to CVille Dem.
Behavior is behavior, I agree. I don't agree that writing about what one is feeling or thinking is necessarily bad behavior. I only brought up the amount of time I've been here to provide a context that I have contributed over time, and just wanted to mention it so you would not see my comments in isolation.
I obviously struck a nerve with you. You've brought quite a bit of interesting thoughts to TPM during your time here.
I don't agree with you about the blog author "conducting" the thread, although TheraP does a masterful job of pulling all the stitches together. Some bloggers never even respond to comments, and I prefer those who do. "General concerns" often get projected into threads. That is what often makes them more interesting, in my book. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.
In all fairness to you, I think I was the one who first brought up your longstanding and valued place here at the Cafe. I did that partly for anyone who was new, but especially so you would not be viewed as a troll.
But I take responsibility for throwing that in here first!
OH, poo! Are we going to worry about who said what first, when nobody said anything wrong to start with? I did make some critical remarks because...well, I already said why. Some people took umbrage.
This is starting to remind me of my family at Thanksgiving! Except you guys are far more rational!
In a thread about freedom and justice, you indict someone for posting without license? Is this a pirouette of absurdity?
When web discussions in right-sided namespace devolve into nothing other than adulations of circularity, its membership is often derisively referred to as "ditto-heads" (ditto that, good buddy). This should be a very valid concern for all who believe that TPM Cafe is a positive collaboration between many different individuals. Adding too much noise to the datastreams' signal obfuscates constructive dialog, and inhibits the acquisition of useful information.
Thread comments to TPM blog posts often drift afar from the originating concept; a freedom for flowing thoughts, and many TPM members consider this a strong plus.
You may not care about CvilleDem's long duration as TPM Cafe member, and you perceive it erroneously as acquired "seniority". Duration does carry great weight with many TPM members. It isn't about vested tenure, but instead about a body of past interactions, which formed a solid foundation for respect. In my experience, CvilleDem has commented honestly and openly without a preponderance of personal invective directed at others. She has added constructive comments and blog posts to the TPM Community for much longer than I've been a member here.
TPM is not bound to some arcane automatic accretion of seniority system, it is an open community, in which many members have formed bonds of extended family.
"Justice consists in doing no injury to men;
decency in giving them no offence."
- Marcus Tullius Cicero

"The only justice is to follow
the sincere intuition of the soul,
angry or gentle.
Anger is just, and pity is just,
but judgement is never just."
- D.H. Lawrence
I appreciate your thoughts, and agree. I also very much appreciate the kind words. Thans, PS!
Bravo, PCA. C'Ville Dem is a respected member of the community here and part of that, though not all, is her longtime membership. The same goes for Bwak.
I find it odd that how long a person has been a member here is now grounds for attack. On the other hand, a new poster here recently told me to 'go away and let the adults talk'.
That same poster then accuses us of forming a cabal against anyone that disagrees with him. Disconnect.
Don't you wonder at the irony of "iloveitall's" name? Thanks for the support, doggie! arf arf!
PS: Do you know Toonses the Cat?
The driving puppy has wondered about the moniker of someone who clearly does not 'loveitall'.
Toonses the Cat? No one listed by the that name in our contacts. We do have a 'Laptop' the cat, though.
Toonces was the Saturday Night Live cat that drove every car off a cliff:
Go there, you'll be sorry if you don't !
Quick note, as I arrived late - wish it had been sooner.
Freedom "from" some external constraint is a common emphasis in our society. Freedom "to" do or be something also is quite common, but - as someone said above - it's tended to become narrowed down to consumer choice.
There's a world just within those terms from/to. But I ended up thinking that our "capabilities" to be free were incredibly important. If one doesn't have certain strengths developed or insights to help you through the wide open world of what you're free to be, then the value of those freedoms seems to me to be less. {And no, I'm not proposing any great or final "insight" which will give us all the "true" insight here.}
The next step for me was just seeing that many of those capabilities and insights were created and sustained BY & WITH OTHERS. The Internet is a screamingly obvious example of a social creation. In short, I am freer, now that these capabilities and insights have been created. Beyond censorship by the State or charging by the Market, my Freedom is greater because of what others have contributed. So without others actively engaging, I learn less, see less, laugh less, my world, my experience, shrinks. I am less free.
Social creations like the Internet, social supports, social programs, laws and rules can actually help to both permit and enable the creation of things which enable me... expand my capabilities... make me FREER.
Which means, to some interesting degree, a society which boost the contributions of others, provides Justice for ALL... helps build and extend MY Freedom.
When you look deeper than the Internet, you find other social creations - the domestication of crops and animals, the development and furtherance of language, people raising and protecting children, and so on.
Which would mean just about all those things I wish to be free to choose or do, and the very capabilities that enable me to do/be them... require others, came from others, can only be sustained with others.
This is very different conception of Freedom from that which sees it as centering on the State's role in protecting us against bad external terrorists (their "free from"), so that we can completely freely choose what to buy in a supermarket (their "free to.")
I'm also really sorry I missed PSA's great quotes from Nietzsche and Blake. Perhaps some other day. But Nietzsche helps shake us loose from many of the chains that limit how we see freedom, how we see justice. He then turns toward our values and says we also need to... revalue them. That little riff PCA quoted:
"Free from what? What doth that matter to Zarathustra! Clearly, however, shall thine eye show unto me: free FOR WHAT?
Canst thou give unto thyself thy bad and thy good, and set up thy will as a law over thee? Canst thou be judge for thyself...."
There's a lot in that. Once you expand your freedoms from, and begin searching your freedoms to, then which ones are worth going after, living? What is GOOD? And FN's starting point there was to refuse the views or systems of thought which painted out for us what was "good."
As for the echo chamber meta-talk, I suspect there IS an improvement we can make. I like the way people put in their best comments or links, and it's nice when someone says "great comment/link." It might be useful if we then took that comment, and rather than simply signing off on it, or seeing it as a valuable thread added to the whole... began to pull on it a bit more. Twisting and turning it, seeing how it connects to others, questioning whether it can sit on its own, seeing how much strength it has.
When that happens - and it does to some degree already - then we actually begin the next job, which is weaving together something larger. I know on my own blogs, there are often a dozen great contributions from people. But sometimes, taking those good ideas the next step, testing them out, wrestling with what weight should be given to them - we're a bit shy about that. As it is, often I think we're left to each take all the threads and we wave them into something new on our own. Which is fine. But there's nothing wrong with a bit of tugging and entangling in the post/comments itself.
Not sure I'm saying this right, and have only a vague sense of how this should be done - but I think there's nothing wrong with saying, "That's a good idea/thought, it's worth keeping... but I wonder how it connects with X, or can it stand up in situation Y, and how much weight can we put upon it if Z hits?"
Cheers, folks.
Oh it looks like i am going to be alone in the circ jerk.
Laughter aside, good. Good points. I try to refer other bloggers to other blogs. Like, I like your points including a,b and c. Check out Judy, or Saladin or Q or TheraP.
I get a little lazy.
As Eliot would say: The inner freedom from the practical desire...
I think too often, quinn, we are all so bombarded by comments and blogs and info that we cannot always do more than be blown away by stunning comments. Especially long ones. And I'm not sure I'm always able to do what you suggest... which is, how would this fit here or there? or what if this or that? But I sure agree that would be the best way of teasing things further or deeper. Sometimes I'm just so astounded by insights that maybe it takes me a while to see where they go.
Sometimes people seem to wonder how I come up with ideas or questions. But I think we need to consider that comments, blogs, threads stick with us. And we're not always able to respond to them adequately at the time we initially read them. The response may come later in another blog or another comment.
When I do therapy with people, I know that what we discuss may not yield its fruit that day, but it's like planting seeds. To me the important thing is the interplay that goes on here and the continuing struggle to chew on issues and see where it takes us or might take us. And if we see the Cafe as a "dynamic system" then we should look to see how blogs, commenting, the drawing of new commenters plays out over time. Not just on one thread.
No. No. No. It’s not seeds damn it. We’re flamingoes and the café is, is, uh, is the lake. Yea that’s it. And there is all this stuff floating in the lake. Yea. And, and we stand there upside down and keep our heads under water because the stuff smells funny. Could be because of all those elephants over there and you know what they do in the water.
Just now had a chance to dive back in, so quick thoughts, TheraP. My university training rewarded certain types of thinking, writing and responding. The Oxford essay/debate/seminar were the ideals, and a dozen major tools or weapons were preferred - historical evidence, clean logic, literacy and fluency, but also wit, savagery and speed (those last 3 not to be underestimated.) They're a wonderful set of tools, and can produce great results. And I spent years honing them (obviously some more than others!)
Their problems, weaknesses and poor fit with certain real-world questions bothered me more & more as I proceeded. And yet, I was being rewarded after each stage, applauded for every kill achieved in the preferred styles. As though it were fencing, sword-fighting - the closest real comparisons I can think of. At some point however, as with many of us in our educations I suspect, I became the troubled fighter.
Above all, because these tools were ill-suited to building, constructing, tending, growing things. And that was what the real aim I had turned to. Within narrow academia, my complaints became amplified. I found it detached from the life I saw outside the walls. It produced fewer and fewer new ideas. The top of the Ivory Tower held old men, fallen asleep at their tables, chairs toppled as they dozed on the floor. There was little or no collaboration. And the level of personal destruction along tyhe way was simply... enormous.
So, I left.
Jump ahead 20 years. My mental images for how I see things working best are different now. I see my father, the consummate farmer. Attentive, flexible, creative, tending, understanding timing, gentle, willing to graft one tree onto another, aiming for growth, learning, life. And I see ecologies, the mix changing over time, dealing with and growing through devastating events, cycles of energy and nutrients, plants shading each other out and opening spaces for others, successions and competitions and cooperation. And I see art. Which was the hilltop a friend of mine took me to 20 years ago, showed me the view, and said, "You'd like it here. But you need to learn to leave more room. More room for others to come in, and create WITH you. Forget the intellectual swordsman thing, where the aim is to find their weakest point, and slay them as swiftly as possible. If you want growth, you need to leave room."
One commonality in all 3 of those images - good husbandry, ecology and art - is the necessity of leaving room. Air. Space. Time. When I found the world of blogging - 9 months ago - I realized that a better tool, a better forum for these things had been created. And I've enjoyed it enormously in that time.
What I'm trying to learn here are the best ways to enable both myself and others to speak and contribute. Both. When I blog, and some one contributes, my immediate reaction is now the one I was raised with as a boy - pre-academic, in a way - which is to thank them. To see what they're saying, and support it, or feed it back to see if I've understood. The difficulty I'm seeing with that now is that our social tendencies are very strong, and for many people, if they see two people agreeing happily... they'll usually step on past, even if they have questions or criticism. What I'd like is for more people to be able to contribute, to question, to connect things, and I need to work towards some sort of magic mean, where I neither jump in with a criticism, nor foreclose further development by moving to swiftly to agree.
I can see now that this is more the art of good co-creation, collaboration, conversation than it is the art of good intellectual debate or even good hosting. So my comment above was meant as an end-of-day thinking out loud, on how I and others think this might be done better. I don't know the answer. I know some non-answers! But as for what next, how to do this... I'm just sitting back for a bit, pondering.
And hoping others have some ideas on what might contribute to improving our blogs.
Cheers, and thanks for the chance to jaw on about this stuff, once again, down at the bottom of the thread! My preferred dwelling place for a time. ;-)
My view of therapy is like what you describe. Its like" soil" for people to plant themselves in. And we see what grows. That's one way to look at it. And the other is a collaboration where metaphors and ideas/memories/dreams flow back and forth. Yes, it's organic. A battle goes nowhere. It becomes a game of power or control. The wrong sort of relationship.
Yes, we're creating something here. I truly believe it! And some will gather to do that. And the doing of it is attracting others to this work. I can see that happening right here. You are very good at it, by the way. So was Lux.
I so not recall if you were a member a TPM in the past, when comments could be rated by logged-in members. This was an oft berated functionality, but was not excessively abused, and provided a method of comment approval that did not require adding an extra comment.
I think you're right about the rating comments feature.
I liked the rating system. It was great. Of course there were long, outraged discussions about "rating abuse," which got pretty wild sometimes!
Two other things that were great were that if you clicked on a blog every comment that YOU had not read before was highlighted, so it was easy to go up and down and find new comments even if they were near the top of the thread. It is easy to miss a new comment if it is in reply to something near the top of the thread.
The other thing I miss is that you could check your comments in a list and if anyone had posted a reply it was noted so you didn't have to click on every comment you made to check on replies.
It was a very nice way of keeping up, and also, comments didn't get lost when they left the front page like they often do now.
I miss those features too....
Wow, it used to be that way? Talk about decline in standards of living, is there no justice at TPM???
Those would be very handy features!
Your remark about capabilities reminded me of how Kierkegaard distinguished between "free choice" and the notion of freedom as an individuals ability to do what is in them to do. What is possible for oneself is bounded by a relationship with oneself.
Here is a sample:

Viewed intellectually, the content of freedom is truth, and truth makes man free. For this reason, truth is the work of freedom, and in such a way that freedom constantly brings forth truth. Obviously, I am not thinking of the cleverness of the most recent philosophy, which maintains that the necessity of thought is also its freedom, and which therefore, when it speaks about the freedom of thought, speaks only of the immanent movement of eternal thought. Such cleverness can only serve to confuse and to make the communication between men more difficult. On the other hand, what I am speaking about is very plain and simple, namely, that truth is for the particular individual only as he himself produces it in action.
This is from The Concept of Anxiety, page 139.
I have a word regarding complaints of excessive civility in these discussions. I find myself compelled to speak politely in these exchanges because, after all, everyone is a stranger to me. I do not assume any more than that they are sincere and candid in intention. I do not assume that they expose everything and therefore I choose to take them at their words and avoid infering motive. Perhaps it is also my response to the surfeit of incivility the characterizes most public discourse.
Also I agree that it is difficult if not impossible to do justice to all the contributions. In this thread alone there are any number of substantive observations that could easily stand alone. I think yours are excellent. I’m still thinking about yours from last weekend. I’m sure we have all led seminars or similar meetings where the role of the moderator is to keep the discussion on topic and, when necessary, moving along. I think this format is more along the lines of an enjoyable conversation among intelligent people. It is a given that you will learn something new as well as something more about yourself. The only rating question comes at the end of the life of the thread: “Did you enjoy yourself?” Oh yea, and “Are you sober enough to drive home?”

I like PCA's addressing that the blog was about freedom and justice and that ultimately freedom and justice became tested itself within the thread. I personally feel really good about the efforts of people to address all of that.
And I like the way you can see beyond the trees and actually articulate the qualities of the forest.
Bless you, CVille Dem. In all sincerity.
I am really late to this party and the whole concept of "justice" or lack thereof sorta pisses me off. I have avoided the issue because it is one of my hot buttons, and don't want to get going on a rant...I can feel it brewing. The idea that justice could be even possible in this country is practically laughable, although I applaud your desire for it. Justice requires integrity in some cases and a high degree of cold-heartedness in others. There just isn't enough of either around to make justice possible.
I think Justice requires integrity in all cases. And never coldheartedness. Detachment, yes. But not coldheartedness. (that's my experience based on 7 years service on a professional ethics committee)
But I'd be interested in your further thoughts.
Well, take our "justice" system for an example...If you have enough money you can escape justice. If you are poor, and innocent, chances are pretty good you won't get any. The system is rigged. Trials are no longer about getting to the truth, and thereby getting "justice." They are about forcing the police to dot and cross everything that needs to be dotted and crossed. Few guilty people step up and admit what they did and accept/negotiate their punishment. You go to trial, hoping witnesses fall apart on the stand or evidence gets lost, or the judge rules your past behavior inadmissible, or your attorney can make the jury feel sorry for you.
People like Bernie Madoff rip people off for years, confess, then continue to live in splendor while the people they have duped suffer. Ditto for all the Wall St. types who have bankrupted the country, yet they have theirs...who gives a fig about all of us who have lost sleep worrying about what their actions have cost us in terms of not only money, but future security.
The penalties for crimes against children are laughably light given the emotional devastation and life altering consequences of those crimes. Think about what justice cries out for in the case of child rape and tell me we have the stomach for doing it. Life in prison? Way too light, yet you can't even get that...Castrate the %^&$%^...that would be a start, but what are the chances that'll ever happen?
Insurance companies pay for invitro for a woman who has no business having 7 children, let alone 15, yet discourage treatments that could be lifesaving for others within that same system. (I have personal devastating experience in this!)
That's just the tip of the iceberg...Ugggghhhhhh....justice, smustice. I'm just a teeny bit bitter on the subject.
Ok, that helps! Just the frustration of our legal "system" - which is "adversarial" and does not really provide "justice." Well, with that, I so agree! Yes, I often need to caution people that if they try to get "justice," they will likely be eaten up in what I call a "meat grinder." The system we've set up here, due to its adversarial quality, definitely favors those who can hire lots of lawyers. It's as if justice - in the ideal sense - were like a teeter-totter you were trying to balance. But if someone can hire a group of lawyers and you can only hire one, well think what that teeter-totter would look like!
Thanks for illustrating so well the many problems of our legal "system" and how poorly it works.

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