Towards a Just Society, Part II

The teachings of Marx enunciate and promote the romantic notion that subsequent to changes in ownership of the modes of production, a sphere of liberty would replace the world of necessity, the management of men would give way to the administration of things – if that were possible — while in precept regimes embracing these theories created State ownership of the economy, outlawed religion, and systematically reduced freedoms.

In the Communist countries, bias is massively and systematically incorporated in the approach to all social, economic, and political problems and has been hardened into a stale dogma. In these countries, scientific as well as literary writings are programmatically expected to contribute to the fight for Communism. This limitation has virtually eliminated social science as we know it. (Myrdal 11)

Suppose we were to substitute the word “democracy” for the word “Communism” in the next to last line of this passage, would this not be an accurate description of what has been happening in the USA during the past decade; certainly since the 9/11 catastrophe? Would this analogy have more force – if, instead of substituting the word “democracy,” we instead substituted “against terrorism” for the words “for Communism?” The American Heritage Dictionary provides this meaning for the word “bias,” preference or inclination that inhibits impartial judgment; prejudice.

What has happened in the US is that the 9/11 attack has had the effect of intensifying the competition between the two most powerful tendencies in this nation, autocracy and democracy, and, deepened the divisions between the factions that consciously or unconsciously, embrace these points of view. This terrorist attack has served to expose and bring into the open, the rivalry between those individuals and organizations which have as their objective imposing their will on others to have them satisfy their needs and desires, as well as those individuals and organizations wishing to augment and expand the personal autonomy of human beings.

It is now completely acceptable in this nation to be biased – as against being objective, factual and truthful; I have deliberately gone to the heart of the matter in describing this intense rivalry, and not used labels that are pejorative and absolutely meaningless to describe the impact of a divisive and destructive mechanism that intensifies conflict but is completely impotent intellectually, and which can contribute very little towards finding solutions to the manifest problems we face.

I say again that there is one, single, existing, omnipresent social reality, that we must become capable of accurately describing – the necessary prerequisite to finding viable solutions to our manifest problems; an enterprise made incalculably more difficult because the application of coercion was, for a currently unimaginable period of time, the blanket remedy to every social problem.

The ancient, enduring and everlasting ethos of competition galvanizes us to put the best spin on our actions and inadequacies, to manufacture justifications and excuses that permit us to avoid taking responsibility for these mistakes that cause errors, demonstrations of incompetence and discovery of our peccadilloes to attract the least criticism and opprobrium, regardless of the effect this dissimulation and deceit has on our ability to function.

This was always a powerful tendency which has become dominant in American society in the past fifty years, attaining such a level and intensity recently that its application has produced a condition of near stasis and stagnation in every social institution in the United States.

It is easy and convenient to blame the Bush Administration for making spin and propaganda the most remarkable and easily observable features of modern politics – without reference to, and completely ignoring the origins and development of this mechanism that perhaps attained its zenith during the heyday of the USSR, and at the height of the Cold War. It should however be clear that this is a temptation to which the human species succumbed long ago, whose effect was obscured and rendered insignificant, unworthy of serious consideration, even considered by many as substantially contributing to preserving and sustaining function, because coercion was relied on to motivate action.

The two-party system does not provide meaningful checks and balances on the arbitrary and woefully corrupt abuses of power by both major political parties in the USA, or, anywhere else on the globe; in fact this type of political organization, perpetuates the status quo because it seems to provide a viable alternative to the current government, while in effect, when change is affected by the popular, legal and constitutional mechanism based on universal adult suffrage, this brings to power a new regime composed of agents of the same culture; with the same very predictable consequences and results for the majority of citizens.

Competition is an ethos that always has been unchallengeable and sacred to the vast majority of human beings. But if subjected to close and detailed scrutiny, it will be discovered that in its every manifestation at any level of any social system, its application to any issue, of whatever magnitude or significance never results in justice or equity; that this traditional ethos consistently fails to create positive developments, but has the effect of perpetuating the status quo.

The process that allowed coercion-based culture to invent and reinvent itself down the ages without significantly changing is clear; during the period when the human species languished in a ‘state of nature’ the strong accumulated power because they could, without the slightest consideration of the moral implications of their actions; or of the incalculable, monumental suffering and misery this mindset inflicted on the vast majority of human beings.
This has become an immutable and enduring pattern of behavior, human beings acting blindly, selfishly and arbitrarily because they have power, completely oblivious of moral considerations or any other possible implications of their actions; and, only required to defend this unfeeling and conscienceless approach long after the fact when resistance eventually belatedly emerged and coalesced spawned by brutal and mindless excesses.

Whenever during the eons of human history, some random confluence of circumstances prompted a serious challenge to the notion that might is right; whether this was prompted by the development of ethics, or the emergence of a competing ideology; the powerful used force to overcome and eliminate opposition, resistance and dissent; and, if this failed, concocted flimsy justifications and excuses, dissimulated, obfuscated; and even flatly denied that they were acting on the premise that might is right, and, ameliorated, for a period, the most dreadful and horrific components of the application of that precept, but in the long term that world view, ever buttressed by the fact that human beings were deluded and could not connect the dots, always has reasserted itself.

This strategy was apparent in the prosecution of numerous savage, barbaric and proscribed enterprises down the long march of human history; it accurately describes the impact and prosecution of the Crusades and the bloody and tortured chapter of history that contained the Spanish Inquisition; it equally applies to the colonization of the New World, from which emerged the Triangular Trade; as well as, modern atrocities, it accurately describes the events surrounding the Shoah, as well as the consignment to frigid Siberian wastes of millions of Russian activists and undesirables, the attack on Iraq, and on and on and on.

I suggest that to survive, humanity must engage in the most fundamental change a sentient being could contemplate; human beings must renounce coercion-based culture and cease relying on coercion to motivate action; and, become adept at utilizing positive reinforcements and make this type of motivation the basis for social interaction.

Only practice of the discipline of truth will reduce the wall of self delusion that divides human minds into two compartments; only by telling the truth can human beings develop the realistic appreciation of the true nature of members of the opposite gender, of members of other races, of those of different national origins that will allow individuals to come to the realization that other human beings should never be treated as prey, but that all are deserving of justice, respect and love.

Next week: The Scourge of Homelessness

About Mark Lee

Editor, author and writer with career spanning print, radio, television and new media.

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