Monday, May 17, 2010

Fear

Goodness is stronger than evil
Love is stronger than hate
Light is stronger than darkness
Life is stronger than death
Victory is ours through Him who loves us.

--Bishop Desmond Tutu (p. 80)


Tutu committed his career to fighting a South African minority white government he (the world) saw as evil, hateful, dark, and willing to murder in defense of its way of life. From the other side, white South Africa’s, it looked so different. Total fear, an entire way of life threatened by an unalterable fact: whites were a minority ruling over a vast and angry majority of blacks. To a lesser extent, white Southerners faced the same fear in America 30 years earlier, before civil rights laws forced whites to give up on denying blacks their constitutional rights and accept a multi-racial South. Fear.

We are only beginning to understand the latest U.S. culture of minority rule, minority fear. Imagine you are a member of that minority. You are part of the new American elite, empowered by the reordering of our society that followed government gaining control over the economy in 1933-45, government ensuring equal rights for blacks and especially women in 1954-80, the environmental movement’s increasing power over business, and the media-led re-ordering of national priorities away from war under Johnson, Nixon, and Ford in Vietnam, and George W. Bush in Iraq. War, including the Cold War, had enabled presidents to tone down domestic battles in the interest of uniting against the common enemy abroad. The media was able to focus our attention instead on domestic enemies—usually Republicans.

Elites are, by definition, minority rule. Banks, business, and landed wealth—white Republican males, mostly nominal Protestants—used to dominate our elite. Over the last 75 years, Democrats led by the media and associated with government—people sometimes “of color”, female as much as male, usually secular—have displaced the old elite. To the Democrats, America has finally gotten it right. Our leaders are “philosopher kings,” “the best and the brightest,” the people any ideally-constructed society would move to the top.

What’s wrong with this picture? In a democracy, a true democracy, the people rule, not some enshrined, self-perpetuating elite, no matter how qualified. And the new American elite, deep in their gut, know this. And the elite fear losing their power. And they are fighting back, hard. So we get health care bills shoved through congress that, on average 11% more oppose than support (according to five different polling services since April 21). America has a new minority, gripped by fear, struggling to hang on, much as Afrikaners did in South Africa before 1994.

Don’t buy my reasoning? Here’s from others:

➢ Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, speaking of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan:
Ms. Kagan and her counterparts all started out 30 years ago trying to undo the establishment, and now they are the establishment. If you need any proof of this it is that in their essays and monographs they no longer mention “the establishment.” Ms. Kagan’s nomination has also highlighted America’s . . . meritocracy. Work hard, be smart, rise. The result is an aristocracy of wired brainiacs, of highly focused, well-credentialed careerists. . . what they know of life is not grounded in hard experience but absorbed through screens—computer screens, movie screens, TV screens.

The ones on top . . . will be those who start off with the advantage not of great wealth but . . .two parents who are together and who drive their children toward academic excellence. It isn’t “Mom and Dad had millions” anymore as much as “Mom and Dad made me do my homework, gave me emotional guidance, made sure I got to trombone lessons, and drove me to soccer.”

➢ Walter Russell Mead, in the left-of-center publication American Interest, says we are currently in the grips of gnostocracy: the rule of experts:
In a perfect gnostocracy, the smartest, best educated people make all the decisions for the rest of us. . . gnostocracy comes closest to the proposals Plato made in his famous Republic, when he calls for the rule of ‘philosopher kings’. Let the best and the brightest among us rule. . .

In practice [such rule] has only five little flaws. Gnostocrats . . . are prone to mistakes because scientific knowledge is by its nature evolving; the social sciences . . . most vital to politics like economics are the most error prone and the least capable of achieving accurate knowledge; political choices involve matters of morals and personal preference which cannot be decided by scientific procedures; no process of selection can be designed which promotes only ‘good’ and ‘honest’ gnostocrats to power and keeps out . . . frauds; and finally as a group scientists have [other] interests . . .such as . . . gaining power and wealth for themselves.

Mead concludes, “We trust the experts less and less, but they keep coming to us for money.”

1 comment:

GlobalPublic said...

Do we need a Referendum For A New Democracy?

Are you concerned about the future of democracy? Do you feel democracy is under attack by extreme greed in countries around the world? Are you sick and tired of: living in fear, corporate greed, growing police state, government for the rich, working more but having less?

Can we use both elections and random selection (in the way we select government officials) to rid democracy of undue influence by extreme wealth and wealth-dominated mass media campaigns?

The world's first democracy (Athenian democracy, 600 B.C.) used both elections and random selection. Even Aristotle (the cofounder of Western thought) promoted the use random selection as the best way to protect democracy. The idea of randomly selecting (after screening) juries remains from Athenian democracy, but not randomly selecting (after screening) government officials. Why is it used only for individual justice and not also for social justice? Who wins from that? ...the extremely wealthy?

What is the best way to combine elections and random selection to protect democracy in today's world? Can we use elections as the way to screen candidates, and random selection as the way to do the final selection? Who wins from that? ...the people?