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Beyond Civilization

charleslb
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1/4/2012 8:03:42 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
"Civilization" is of course one of the irreproachable idols of "nice", normal-minded, middle-class folks, never to be impugned. Oh, it's permissible to think critically about the abstract concept and the reality on the ground of "civilization", but only so as to identify areas where improvement and reform may be called for. One is certainly not supposed to question the very legitimacy of that purported great boon to human life called "civilization".

But unaccustomed as we are to do so, let's endeavor to dissect, in a thoroughly no-holds-barred fashion, the taken-for-granted goodness and desirability of civilization. To plunge right in, here's an admittedly polemical but fitting definition of "civilization". Civilization is an organization of human society and life, a socioeconomic and political construct that enables a few to establish and exercise social control, legal authority, and hegemonic power over the many.

And to do so without having to resort, too frequently, to employing brute force and blatant repression. That is, civilization is completely geared to keep the majority subordinate and subject to the elite, by its inherent social power structure and class system; by political institutions such as government and law; by the use of technology, ranging from the invention of written records to modern high-tech surveillance, that facilitates keeping track of every individual member of the herd; by socialization and morality and ideology, that makes acquiescent boys and girls of us, etc.

Such aids for the efficient management of the masses by the ruling class are of course touted to us as "progress", however such progress is a decidedly mixed blessing since it's ruthlessly and perennially perverted for the self-serving and power-enhancing purposes of kings and pharaohs, potentates and plutocrats.

Sure, no doubt about it, civilization and its vaunted progress has impressively transfigured Homo sapiens from another foraging primate species into a race of creatures who've forged a brilliant path of scientific and spiritual enlightenment, ascending from prehistoric savannahs to the heights of outer space and satori. One must be fair and give civilization all the credit it's due.

But, then again, civilization also systematically locks us into a socially and psychologically artificial, unfree, and unhealthy mode of life and existential quagmire that empowers and profits the abovementioned kings and pharaohs, potentates and plutocrats at everyone else's expense. A spiritually squalid lack of authenticity, spontaneity, and genuine political and inner liberty; an acute alienation from humanness, naturalness, creativeness, and reality; and a cosmically tragic sublimation of our innate yearning for transcendence into the enculturated desire to assimilate ourselves to any body politic larger than ourselves, all characterizes man's lousy and lamentable lot under "civilization". Is it any wonder that societal anomie and mental pathologies are proliferating out of hand today despite all the accomplishments of ten thousand years of civilization?!

It truly is "a wonderful life" that we're all born into as human beings, but civilization has its ways of constricting that wonderfulness, of depriving us of the freedom and fulfillment that is our inalienable right. This is perhaps more starkly evident nowadays than ever before. This is because capitalism has brought all of the corruption and inequality, the perfunctoriness and stultification inherent in civilization to a head.

Certainly the blessings of civilization are more unevenly and unjustly distributed under capitalism than in just about any previous society – the wealth divide between a medieval peasant and prince was less obscene than that between a modern sweatshop worker or unemployed member of the underclass and a corporate CEO!

And what with the manner in which "discipline" and regimentation have been imposed upon our existence by industrial capitalism, domesticating us into apathetically productive drones; the manner in which we've been dehumanized into mere cogs in business organizations and a mechanized production process; the manner in which the carrot-trick promise of prosperity trickling down into every household has fizzled in the epidemic reality of insolvency, indentured debtitude, and foreclosure; and the manner in which the "inner void" and cultural vapidness bred by the materialistic anti-values of capitalism has led to a free-floating and unshakable sense of dissatisfaction with life that millions of people pathetically seek to medicate with street and prescription drugs; what with all of the sociological and moral rot of capitalism eating away at the fabric of human happiness and community life it's becoming screamingly obvious that if capitalism is where our journey of civilization has finally landed us, then civilization is a woefully losing proposition and it's about time to radically reimagine human existence.

But of course capitalism is only the latest version of that poignant and pernicious paradigm of human community called "civilization". It merely epitomizes more egregiously the same old evils, ramps up the reign of the fat cats that be, and refines the social repression and inequitableness so deeply engraved in the original hierarchical template of Neolithic society. Capitalism, that is, is just a carbuncle marring the beautiful potential of human social relations and fellowship, but civilization is the underlying source of its purulence.

Alrighty, so stripped of all of the idealism and loftiness that attaches to it, stripped down to its nitty-gritty, civilization is just organized dominance on a grand societal scale and antithetical to genuine human liberation. But what then is the answer, what response are we to make to the disillusioning epiphany that civilization was a rueful wrong turn dead-ending in our unsustainable modern form of capitalism? What kind of a revolution should this revelation spur? Should we embrace some kind of neo-Luddite anti-modernism, a puerile primitivism that's naively nostalgic for a pre-Neolithic lifestyle? Certainly not. The notion that regressing humanity back to a protohistoric stage of social development is the only alternative to civilization as we know it simply betrays a lack of imagination.

Taking a great leap forward into something truly and boldly groundbreaking , unprecedented, inspired, and visionary, not Pol-Potishly rewinding history all the way back to the Stone Age, that's the option that I'd personally recommend. To be more specific, what I propose is that we the common people, we the rank and file of civilization who find ourselves routinely done wrong, socially, politically, spiritually, by a status quo that was born in the Neolithic era undertake a total revolution whose objective is nothing less than the abolition of civilization-as-we-know-it and its replacement with a way of living together in community that's authentically founded & grounded upon esprit d'humanité, equality, and enlightenment. In other words, a form of society that aims at actualizing all of the beautiful idealism that we give lip service to. A form of society set up to promote liberation rather than subjugation. A form of society that exists to facilitate the pursuit of the common good, not to serve and safeguard special interests. Quite simply, humanitarian communitarianism rather than "civilization".

The conclusion is located directly below
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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1/4/2012 8:04:50 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Conclusion

Civilization circumscribes, that's its fundamental nature; it circumscribes our creative self-expression, our human individuality, our economic well-being, our ability to maximize our joyful participation in life. And if we don't wake up to this quite soon, it will circumscribe the survival of our species, for catastrophic climate change may very well be the doomsdayie dénouement of civilization. Let's indeed hope that mankind chooses to strike out on a different path, a path away from civilization and toward human and ethical community, before it's too late.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
DetectableNinja
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1/4/2012 8:31:26 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I skipped down to the tl;dr version at the bottom--what's the definition of "civilization" that you're using in this analysis?
Think'st thou heaven is such a glorious thing?
I tell thee, 'tis not half so fair as thou
Or any man that breathes on earth.

- Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus
Wnope
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1/4/2012 8:32:21 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
To anyone stupid enough to read this (I sadly must include myself):

The intellectual content, writing style, and signal to noise ratio of the above post can be found, possibly word for word, in any BSed high school essay on "Brave New World."
charleslb
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1/5/2012 2:50:32 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/4/2012 8:32:21 PM, Wnope wrote:
To anyone stupid enough to read this (I sadly must include myself):

The intellectual content, writing style, and signal to noise ratio of the above post can be found, possibly word for word, in any BSed high school essay on "Brave New World."

Thank you for your kind ad hominem words, any thoughts on the topic of the OP?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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1/5/2012 2:58:09 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/4/2012 8:31:26 PM, DetectableNinja wrote:
I skipped down to the tl;dr version at the bottom--what's the definition of "civilization" that you're using in this analysis?

Organized dominance maintained through means such as institutions (government, the law, etc.) and ideology (socio-cultural indoctrination with mythologies and moralities that tend to make people passively accepting of the power structure they happen to live under; i.e. religious rubbish such as "the powers that be are ordained by God", the divine right of kings, etc.).
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Wnope
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1/5/2012 3:04:52 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/5/2012 2:50:32 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 1/4/2012 8:32:21 PM, Wnope wrote:
To anyone stupid enough to read this (I sadly must include myself):

The intellectual content, writing style, and signal to noise ratio of the above post can be found, possibly word for word, in any BSed high school essay on "Brave New World."

Thank you for your kind ad hominem words, any thoughts on the topic of the OP?

No, because the intellectual content doesn't go beyond Huxley's comments on BNW. You haven't offered anything of intellectual substance in the above post, just regurgitated political science 101.
charleslb
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1/6/2012 12:18:14 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/5/2012 3:04:52 PM, Wnope wrote:
At 1/5/2012 2:50:32 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 1/4/2012 8:32:21 PM, Wnope wrote:
To anyone stupid enough to read this (I sadly must include myself):

The intellectual content, writing style, and signal to noise ratio of the above post can be found, possibly word for word, in any BSed high school essay on "Brave New World."

Thank you for your kind ad hominem words, any thoughts on the topic of the OP?

No, because the intellectual content doesn't go beyond Huxley's comments on BNW. You haven't offered anything of intellectual substance in the above post, just regurgitated political science 101.

Well, shall I state the obvious? Perhaps your estimation of the intellectual content of the OP has more to do with the paltry quality of your own intellect and less to do with the alleged scanty substantiveness of the content of the piece? To a dullard Shakespeare might indeed seem dull, and Plato boring, but then this would be more of a reflection on the dull-minded fellow's limited ability to appreciate the material. That you drop your little disdainful ad hominems and decline to actually engage the topic of the post certainly suggests a lack of aptitude for intellectual argument, at the very least a lack of intellectual sportsmanship. I suppose the old truism about critics, that those who can do and those who can't criticize, applies. At any rate, should you discover that you have anything even semi-interesting to say that's actually on-topic please feel free to contribute your thoughts to the thread (but somehow I suspect that you'll just respond with more uncomplimentary personal remarks).
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Chthonian
Posts: 247
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1/6/2012 1:21:12 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Charles,

From my perspective, civilization is founded on the natural need for humans to live in communities, thus enabling us to interact in order to survive longer and have an increased quality of life. The "organized dominance" of which you speak has more to do with the fact that hierarchal structures lead to efficient and responsive management of people than it does with a need to repress the herd. In our liberal democracy, anyone can establish and exercise their right to legally challenge authority. Moreover, it is clear that no one has an absolute control over imposing morally and ideological norms; these concepts are debated and discussed openly on a near daily basis without reprisal from those in power.

Also, I think capitalism is the societal glue that stabilized after years of feudal unrest. It is based on free enterprise and private property, and gives folks the opportunity to become upwardly mobile and achieve social status. You posited that capitalism mares the beautiful potential of human social relations and fellowship. The implication is that societies without capitalism have beautiful social relationships, but you don't provide us with any tangible evidence why you believe this to be true. I fail to see any beautiful social relationships blossoming in communist China or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where free enterprise and private ownership is fetter to authoritarian regimes.

In the closing, while I think your iconoclastic ideologies can be very disconcerting to many--causing consternation and provoking agitation, it does provide interesting food for thought in this little fishbowl. Thanks!
charleslb
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1/7/2012 12:59:15 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/6/2012 1:21:12 PM, Chthonian wrote:

Firstly, I'd just like to say that this, your reply here, is and can stand as a very serviceable example for certain other people at this site (they certainly know who they are) of how to civilly reply to and constructively express one's disagreement with the thesis of one of my posts. Your response is perfectly intellectual, on-topic, and articulate, and not at all ad hominem, therefore I respect your intellectuality and will reciprocate by responding in the same fashion. And thank you, btw, for a refreshingly intelligent response.

From my perspective, civilization is founded on the natural need for humans to live in communities, thus enabling us to interact in order to survive longer and have an increased quality of life.

Certainly humans are social creatures; indeed, the fundamental nature of all existence is relational, i.e. social; so yes, that it is our wont to form communities can't just be reductionistically explained in terms of the will-to-dominance – nor even in terms of purely pragmatic incentives such as greater longevity and enhanced quality of life. At work is a deeper creative and integrative drive to connect and co-create ourselves in community – truly, no person is an island, we each are living social constructs, as it were, formed by and realizing our personal potential through our interaction with others. To do so, to collaboratively create ourselves and jointly actualize our humanity, is the axiologically and ethically and spiritually finest instinct at play in man's invention of "civilization". However, there are less fine, much cruder drives, such as the will-to-social-dominance, that unfortunately get into the act, and that beget the shadow side of "civilization", a shadow of moral and mental coverage that has perennially cast itself over the last ten thousand years of history. Rather than being the apotheosis of enlightened sociality, "civilization" has turned out to be a quite tragic travesty.

The "organized dominance" of which you speak has more to do with the fact that hierarchal structures lead to efficient and responsive management of people than it does with a need to repress the herd.

Come now, "We're just regimenting your lives for the sake of efficiency, and for your own good, not because we have any dark desire to dominate you", this is of course the age-old rubbishy rationale of the ruling class, of all tyrannical shepherds of the "herd".

In our liberal democracy, anyone can establish and exercise their right to legally challenge authority. Moreover, it is clear that no one has an absolute control over imposing morally and ideological norms; these concepts are debated and discussed openly on a near daily basis without reprisal from those in power.

Those unsunny-minded Christian fundamentalists who believe in a devil say that the cleverest thing he's ever done is to convince modern folks that he doesn't exist. Well, likewise, the cleverest thing that the ruling class has ever done is to invent modern democracy and hoodwink us into believing that we live in a classless society with no socially-controlling and politically-overseeing dominant elite. All of our vaunted (and much more limited than we're taught to believe) latitude to question and challenge authority in fact serves to lull us into erroneously and complacently thinking that we're a good deal more free and self-governing than we genuinely are. The most colossally stupid blunder that the capitalist and political powers that be could ever make would be to shatter the myth of democratic freedom by engaging in overtly repressive reprisals against dissidents for exercising their right to free speech. This would also be quite unnecessary, since all the corporate-owned media has to do is continue to deny access to genuine dissidents, this already ensures that the public debate about the issues of the day won't take a turn in a revolutionary direction that threatens the status quo. As for no one having absolute control over moral and ideological norms, sure, the U.S. system of social control isn't an unsubtle totalitarian state that takes a ham-handed approach to dictating our norms and policing our thoughts. Our immersion in the aforementioned corporate-owned mass media, the groupthink of "patriotism", and tried-and-true mechanisms of social control such as conformism all do the job quite well enough.

Also, I think capitalism is the societal glue that stabilized after years of feudal unrest.

Correction, capitalism is the inherently prone-to-instability form of the rule of the many by the few that feudalism morphed into.

It is based on free enterprise and private property,

It's based on private ownership of the means of production by an economic elite, not on "free enterprise". Even a thinker like Kevin Carson, who's pro-free enterprise, recognizes that capitalism =/= free enterprise.

and gives folks the opportunity to become upwardly mobile and achieve social status.

It, capitalism, is geared to allow capitalists to obscenely overaccumulate capital and to pauperize and economically disenfranchise the working class – something that the current recession is driving home to people more and more, unless they're thoroughly into the ideology of capitalism, i.e. unless they're conservatives.

You posited that capitalism mares the beautiful potential of human social relations and fellowship.

Yes I did, because it clearly does.

The implication is that societies without capitalism have beautiful social relationships, but you don't provide us with any tangible evidence why you believe this to be true.

No, to assert that capitalism is a dreadful system doesn't at all imply that societies without capitalism are all idyllic. Your logic here is simply faulty.

I fail to see any beautiful social relationships blossoming in communist China or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

So do I, but because China and Saudi Arabia have systems that I wouldn't care to live under doesn't make life under capitalism any better for millions of chronically struggling, unemployed, and economically disempowered people, it just allows us to rationalize our resignation and complacency with stale platitudes such as "They've got it worse over there", and "There but for the grace of ..."

where free enterprise and private ownership is fetter to authoritarian regimes.

Actually, private ownership and the subversive money power of the economic elite is a fetter to and prevents the proper functioning of our democracy.

In the closing, while I think your iconoclastic ideologies can be very disconcerting to many--causing consternation and provoking agitation, it does provide interesting food for thought in this little fishbowl. Thanks!

Thank you (although I would describe the kind of thinking that I advocate as quite anti-ideological in nature). (And hey, Wnope, this is the kind of intelligent exchange that I tried to get you to engage in, but I guess that you're just not up to it.)
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
OberHerr
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1/7/2012 1:05:50 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
charleslb, why do you have a "smile" thing next to your name and stuff?
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OBERHERR'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

Official Enforcer for the DDO Elite(if they existed).

"Cases are anti-town." - FourTrouble

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charleslb
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1/7/2012 1:12:01 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/7/2012 1:05:50 AM, OberHerr wrote:
charleslb, why do you have a "smile" thing next to your name and stuff?

Because I sincerely wish to bring a smile to others. Now then, any comments on the topic of the thread?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
OberHerr
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1/7/2012 1:13:08 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/7/2012 1:12:01 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 1/7/2012 1:05:50 AM, OberHerr wrote:
charleslb, why do you have a "smile" thing next to your name and stuff?

Because I sincerely wish to bring a smile to others. Now then, any comments on the topic of the thread?

Sorry, its just I see that smile next to the thread, and I'm just wondering why its there, and why you have that other smile. Never seen it before.
-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-OBERHERR'S SIGNATURE-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-

Official Enforcer for the DDO Elite(if they existed).

"Cases are anti-town." - FourTrouble

-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-~-
charleslb
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1/7/2012 1:12:19 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
To paraphrase Jean-Jacques Rousseau, each of us is born with a magnificent potential for personal distinctiveness, originality, and creativity, but everywhere this innate potential is fettered by the mental and ideological restraints forged by our "civilizations", and by the social and economic prisons constructed and maintained by civilization's ruling class. To paraphrase John Lennon, I invite everyone to imagine instead a human experience and society without "civilization", without a ruling elite, and without the artificial repression and inequality that are part & parcel of the ancien régime of a civilization geared for the interests of an oligarchic minority. Imagine it if you can.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Chthonian
Posts: 247
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1/7/2012 1:28:20 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Charles, I greatly appreciate the comity and civility of your comments.

To begin, I will certainly acknowledge that our society has coarse components that blemish the harmonious continuity of our culture. But I am not so inclined to believe that it is solely those in power that cause these blemishes, nor do I believe that social-driven dominance is the main motive for those in power. For example, in the US elected public officials don't promulgate polices that ensure they stay in power; rather they put forth those ideas they feel will best serve the national interest. One example is Obama's health care reform: it is clear that this policy doesn't give any direct benefit to those in power. In addition, elections are held frequently giving an opposition the opportunity to challenge the person, party, or administration that has implemented those policies. For better or worse, this makes political change possible and in the long-term creates social stability.

Also, I am not going to state that we live in a classless society; we most certainly do, and those that who deny this fundamental fact are either being intellectually dishonest or they don't fully understand the nature of capitalism. However, this doesn't imply that capitalism creates the problems of society. In my view, the conspicuous consumption that plagues our culture and the over-reliance on government subsidies provide plenty of problems that aren't directly related to civilization of capitalism.

From my understanding, you feel that patriotic groupthink mentality enables the status quo to remain unchallenged. If this is true, how does one explain the civil protests that were spurred by our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, or the thousands of protesters involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement? Our populace is not as complacent as you might perceive. We just have limited power in changing a stagnant political structure that we inherited from the founding fathers.

Having said all that, I am fully aware of the economic inequality capitalism produces. And, in general, capitalism is conducive to aggregating monopolies that can stifle innovation if no competition can provide pressure for change. But, I will not ascribe to the opinion that capitalism or civilization is the cause to the ills of our society. In fact, comparatively speaking on a global scale, Americans are far better off than most because of the economic freedoms that capitalism and our liberal democracy provide.

In the end, our system of democratic government is far from perfect and our capitalist economy is far from fair, but what other plausible alternatives can work that can be implemented without causing a violent revolution?
Steelerman6794
Posts: 158
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1/7/2012 7:40:32 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
@Charles,

This is probably my favorite essay you've posted. And to everyone whining about its verbage, it took me approximately 3 1/2 minutes to read it through carefully. The ADHD epidemic must be worse than I thought.

Anyway, you make an interesting case not only against modern society, but against the conventional concept of civilization in general. You seem to advocate communities where the focus isn't on order (and therefore power) but on "enlightenment."

First of all, this could obviously only work on a very small scale. Secondly, a host of assumptions must be made in order for such a proposal to remotely be successful. Not only do territorial conlflicts have to be nonexistant, but the entire idea of scarcity which serves as the foundation of economics somehow must be resolved. In other words, the roots of human conflict must disappear.

You might respond with the assertion that our current capitalistic dog-eat-dog society is what perpetuates conflict, but I don't see how utopian enclaves will resolve the issue. People have a biological predisposition for wanting what they don't have. True harmony and cooperation cannot exist insofar as there will always be bad people trying to spoil it for everyone else. If subjugation has always existed, how do you suppose that human nature will magically change for the better?

Read "For the Common Good" by Daly and Cobb. They tackle this issue quite nicely, while maintaining a healthy dose of realism along the way.

http://www.amazon.com...

Again, thanks for the post.
charleslb
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1/8/2012 2:06:55 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/7/2012 1:28:20 PM, Chthonian wrote:
Charles, I greatly appreciate the comity and civility of your comments.

To begin, I will certainly acknowledge that our society has coarse components that blemish the harmonious continuity of our culture. But I am not so inclined to believe that it is solely those in power that cause these blemishes, nor do I believe that social-driven dominance is the main motive for those in power.

Let me begin by again thanking you for a thoughtful response. I beg to differ on a few points. Firstly, we the people are conned into accepting personal responsibility for, and finding fault in ourselves for the sorry state of the economy, the political messes of our leaders, and the evils of history. We're taught to think in terms of "Well, we elected the bums, so the fault is really ours". Because John and Jane Q. Public are not saints we think that some of the blame for the ills of society ought to be assigned to them, ought to be spread around to the victims. But let's practice the hermeneutics of suspicion and ask who does this serve? The obvious answer of course is that it serves to protect the ruling class from criticism and the public's righteous indignation. I for one am not at all inclined to allow my critical attention to be shifted away from the wrongdoing of the ruling elite and refocused on the foibles of ordinary and largely disempowered people. Also, I would say never underestimate the will-to-social-dominance of the members of the corporate-government complex who run the show of society.

For example, in the US elected public officials don't promulgate polices that ensure they stay in power; rather they put forth those ideas they feel will best serve the national interest.

I'm not a simplistic cynic who's incapable of ever recognizing any benevolence in our political rulers; however, to categorically say, as you do here, that politicians don't promote policies that politically and economically benefit them and their corporate employers, and that they're always primarily concerned with the national interest, is way too generous.

One example is Obama's health care reform: it is clear that this policy doesn't give any direct benefit to those in power. In addition, elections are held frequently giving an opposition the opportunity to challenge the person, party, or administration that has implemented those policies. For better or worse, this makes political change possible and in the long-term creates social stability.

Although I like and share the values that I detect in your paragraph above I see things a wee bit differently. To borrow a phrase from the political thinker Kevin Carson (even though his point of view on capitalism is quite different from mine), elections are "periodic legitimation rituals", i.e. they serve to dupe us into believing that we live in an authentic democracy and therefore have no need to contemplate any form of direct and revolutionary action to achieve our interests. Once again, this is something that serves to protect the economic and political elite from a mad-as-hell populace rising up to take control of the political process and the means of production. Essentially, we live in the political equivalent of the matrix, a virtual democracy hidden behind which are blood-sucking corporate masters maintaining us in subservience to their interests, and occasionally throwing us a sop such as social security or health care reform to keep us pacified.

Also, I am not going to state that we live in a classless society; we most certainly do, and those that who deny this fundamental fact are either being intellectually dishonest or they don't fully understand the nature of capitalism.

You'd perhaps be surprised how many people are so ideologically out of touch with reality as to deny that a class structure is inherent in capitalism.

However, this doesn't imply that capitalism creates the problems of society. In my view, the conspicuous consumption that plagues our culture and the over-reliance on government subsidies provide plenty of problems that aren't directly related to civilization of capitalism.

Here we once again differ a bit. It's certainly the nature of capitalism to promote consumerism and materialism and the milking of the cash cow that is the state by the corporate elite. And, yes indeed, it's of course the inherent tendency of capitalism to develop instability, and the overaccumulating behavior of capitalists, that's entirely responsible for our capitalist economy's endemic troubles and reoccurring recessions.

From my understanding, you feel that patriotic groupthink mentality enables the status quo to remain unchallenged.

Correct.

If this is true, how does one explain the civil protests that were spurred by our invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, or the thousands of protesters involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement? Our populace is not as complacent as you might perceive. We just have limited power in changing a stagnant political structure that we inherited from the founding fathers.

Inflict enough poop on the people and eventually they express some dissatisfaction and dissent. But our system of fake democracy and social control works well enough that we've yet to have one of those revolutions that Thomas Jefferson said a society needs from time to time.

Having said all that, I am fully aware of the economic inequality capitalism produces. And, in general, capitalism is conducive to aggregating monopolies that can stifle innovation if no competition can provide pressure for change. But, I will not ascribe to the opinion that capitalism or civilization is the cause to the ills of our society. In fact, comparatively speaking on a global scale, Americans are far better off than most because of the economic freedoms that capitalism and our liberal democracy provide.

This is conventional wisdom that I opt out of.

In the end, our system of democratic government is far from perfect and our capitalist economy is far from fair, but what other plausible alternatives can work that can be implemented without causing a violent revolution?

The creation of authentic democracy and its extension into the economic sphere.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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1/8/2012 2:46:11 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/7/2012 7:40:32 PM, Steelerman6794 wrote:
@Charles,

This is probably my favorite essay you've posted. And to everyone whining about its verbage, it took me approximately 3 1/2 minutes to read it through carefully. The ADHD epidemic must be worse than I thought.

Thank you for these words.

Anyway, you make an interesting case not only against modern society, but against the conventional concept of civilization in general. You seem to advocate communities where the focus isn't on order (and therefore power) but on "enlightenment."

Correct.

First of all, this could obviously only work on a very small scale.

Correct again. A decentralized society composed of small-scale communities of people who own and directily, democratically manage the political process and the means of production is my social and political vision of the future.

Secondly, a host of assumptions must be made in order for such a proposal to remotely be successful. Not only do territorial conlflicts have to be nonexistant, but the entire idea of scarcity which serves as the foundation of economics somehow must be resolved. In other words, the roots of human conflict must disappear.

No, we don't have to transform every human being into an angel and our society into a paradise on earth to achieve a people's society in which we more fully actualize the social and political ideals we espouse. The idea that we'd have to achieve a veritable out-of-the-realm-of-possibility utopia to have authentic social and economic democracy only serves to resign us to and perpetuate the status quo of capitalism.

You might respond with the assertion that our current capitalistic dog-eat-dog society is what perpetuates conflict, but I don't see how utopian enclaves will resolve the issue. People have a biological predisposition for wanting what they don't have. True harmony and cooperation cannot exist insofar as there will always be bad people trying to spoil it for everyone else. If subjugation has always existed, how do you suppose that human nature will magically change for the better?

Again, we don't have to attain to utopian social perfection in order to create a people's society. The utopian-social-perfection-or-the-current-status-quo choice is one that I don't buy into, buying into it only tends to deter people from endeavoring to actualize their dream of a more just and equalitarian society – which is precisely why the establishment, as they called it in the 60s, encourages us to think in such discouraging polar either-or terms, i.e. to think that our options are limited to a vain and dangerous striving after an unattainable ideal or acceptance of life as we know it under capitalism and our fake democracy. Mm-hmm, once people succumb to this limiting of their options & outlook, of their ability to dream a radically different and democratic future, they're rendered quite non-threatening to the political and corporate powers that be and needn't even be subjected to any overt police-state-style repression – which of course reinforces the illusion that we're genuinely free. We all need to dare to think a bit more critically and radically about our lot in society.

Read "For the Common Good" by Daly and Cobb. They tackle this issue quite nicely, while maintaining a healthy dose of realism along the way.

I have read Daly and Cobb's For the Common Good.

Again, thanks for the post.

And thank you for a very thoughtful and well-expressed response.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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1/8/2012 2:51:55 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Btw, for anyone who's interested (and for those who falsely accuse me of not being willing to debate – I've actually done several debates), I've just begun a debate that I was challenged to on the question of gun rights. I invite one and all to check it out.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Chthonian
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1/8/2012 9:33:49 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
It has been an enlighten exchange, Charles; you certainly have a unique perspective and can articulate your point of view well.

I would only like to add that my personal view is painted by my experiences as a grassroots political activist. I used to volunteer with the NJ Center of Civic Responsibility, lecturing and training folks about paths to political power for average citizens. So, I am inclined to believe that our democratic system is not just a monolithic monopoly for only the wealthy and corporate shills. I have seen first hand numerous folks influencing the political discussion at various levels of government and having lasting impacts in their communities.

I have also clashed countless times with politicians in public forums, and I am fully aware of how elected officials will resist change if they perceive their power to be threatened. So, I am not so naive to believe that all politicians are benevolent beings bent on ensuring the public weal. I just don't think that their power is so absolute that they can repress political change.

BTW: I'll check out your debate; good luck!
charleslb
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1/8/2012 1:09:20 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/8/2012 9:33:49 AM, Chthonian wrote:
It has been an enlighten exchange, Charles; you certainly have a unique perspective and can articulate your point of view well.

I would only like to add that my personal view is painted by my experiences as a grassroots political activist. I used to volunteer with the NJ Center of Civic Responsibility, lecturing and training folks about paths to political power for average citizens. So, I am inclined to believe that our democratic system is not just a monolithic monopoly for only the wealthy and corporate shills. I have seen first hand numerous folks influencing the political discussion at various levels of government and having lasting impacts in their communities.

I have also clashed countless times with politicians in public forums, and I am fully aware of how elected officials will resist change if they perceive their power to be threatened. So, I am not so naive to believe that all politicians are benevolent beings bent on ensuring the public weal. I just don't think that their power is so absolute that they can repress political change.

BTW: I'll check out your debate; good luck!

I certainly respect and admire your activism, and very much appreciate your constructive feedback in this thread.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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1/8/2012 1:10:29 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/8/2012 9:35:03 AM, UnStupendousMan wrote:
When I first saw this, I first thought of the Civilization series of games : )

Any thoughts on the topic?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Justin_Thiel
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1/9/2012 12:10:05 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Very intelligent OP and an interesting exchange of words thus far. Bravo on your position. I look forward to reading more from you in the future Charles. I agree with you on every point you have made and my personal stance on the issue seems to be in complete alignment with your's.
charleslb
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1/9/2012 9:39:40 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 1/9/2012 12:10:05 PM, Justin_Thiel wrote:
Very intelligent OP and an interesting exchange of words thus far. Bravo on your position. I look forward to reading more from you in the future Charles. I agree with you on every point you have made and my personal stance on the issue seems to be in complete alignment with your's.

Thank you very much for these kind words of support.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
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1/14/2012 3:16:41 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I just posted my closing argument in my debate on gun rights. The debate has now entered the voting period and since my opponent, a fellow who goes by the screen moniker of RebornPatriot, hasn't posted any arguments I stand to win by default. However, since this will be quite ungratifying I propose that anyone who believes in the right to bear arms (my position is of course con, i.e. I oppose the right of private gun ownership) posts his/her arguments in the comments section of the debate, and that these arguments function as the arguments for the con position. Voters can then judge how these contributions stack up against my arguments and cast their votes for whichever side they think has mustered the best reasoning.

Here's the link, I invite all of my ideological frienemies to participate,
http://www.debate.org...
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
goldman
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1/22/2012 2:52:52 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
This forum is very stimulating. In particular, industrial capitalism which originated from Industrial Revolution in the 18th century England spread into Europe and The United States from the 19th century to the 20th century and Far East like Japan and South Korea after the end of World War Second. It brought about pleasant and comfortable life based on the mass-production and mass- consumption economic system. Automobiles, railroad and electlic appliances like television, radio changed our life style drastically. Many big cities and factories emerged in every part of the world. Many job opportunities were offered for many people. However, industrial capitalism depended too much on the fossile energies like coal and oil. This has contributed to the global warming and air pollution since the end of War. Unfortunately, these days it is expected these energy sources will be depleted in the near future. Therefore, alternative energies like solar and wind must be introduced as early as possible. But the prospect is not bright from the viewpoint of cost and geography where the country or the region are located. For example, some place have plenty of sunshine but others do not. The important thing is that global warming is already threatening and damaging on the natural environment seriously. Unusual sea level and weather condition are mainly caused by it.
Therefore, I believe we must create a new model of civilization which is friendly not only for human beings but for the space -ship Earth.
Grape
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1/22/2012 2:56:49 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Addressing the easier parts of the thread first:

At 1/4/2012 8:31:26 PM, DetectableNinja wrote:
I skipped down to the tl;dr version at the bottom--what's the definition of "civilization" that you're using in this analysis?

You could have gone back to the top and read that instead of asking him to repeat himself.

At 1/4/2012 8:32:21 PM, Wnope wrote:
To anyone stupid enough to read this (I sadly must include myself):

The intellectual content, writing style, and signal to noise ratio of the above post can be found, possibly word for word, in any BSed high school essay on "Brave New World."

How very helpful of you (though I might agree that Charles has to work on his signal to noise ratio a bit).

Also, this really only seems like Brave New World to me on the surface. In Brave New World, the "advanced civilization" was based on Huxley's idea of what a future communitarian society might be like.

At 1/5/2012 2:50:32 PM, charleslb wrote:

Thank you for your kind ad hominem words, any thoughts on the topic of the OP?

Remember, it's not ad hominem unless he's attacking you to conclude that your argument is bad. He can say that you suck or that your argument sucks all he wants without committing the ad hominem fallacy (that's generally just called being rude). It's not ad hominem until he says your argument sucks because you suck.

At 1/5/2012 3:04:52 PM, Wnope wrote

No, because the intellectual content doesn't go beyond Huxley's comments on BNW. You haven't offered anything of intellectual substance in the above post, just regurgitated political science 101.

Wrong again about Huxley. Charles and Huxley do not have the same thesis just because what they talk about is superficially similar. I haven't take political science 101, but here at Tufts PS101 is "The Presidency and the Executive Branch," so I'm guessing that's not where Charles got those ideas.