There is a school of thought in part sincere somewhat relying on wishful thinking, and in further part disingenuous; that with the election of Barack Obama, America's first Black President, this nation had entered a post racial era. It meant something, of course, the electoral moment at least. It affirmed our aspirational and egalitarian precepts. Or at least allowed us to say they were affirmed. Even if it were only some who so affirmed and this accepted as a gift to the general behalf. Even as rationales were developed and stood in to negate it: "An articulate man perhaps, but only around a TelePrompTer" -- "America's affirmative action president". A dubious shadow in such a merit based land. It did not mean, when the dust settled, that racism, coded and deep-boned within our culture, had suddenly disappeared, that hundreds of year of history had rolled back changed and unwound differently.
Many have claimed this for years As if their assertions of many decades that we were (color) Blind and (eyeless) on a level playing field made it so. That no intrusion upon the public or the private sector to ameliorate or rectify living economic striations and walls that held so many back were ever needed.
Such people openly mock the themes under which President Obama was elected in 2008 hope and change. Hope? You betcha. I do value hope. I hope that that in some manner of metaphor humankind is capable of maturing as an individual matures as he or she grows to adulthood. People talk of nations in this manner, but the story should move beyond nations to an evolution of those who people nations. I hope that the ability to care for others is not just a peak experience extended from a position of comfort, but an integral part of our nature. That all our problems are tractable before our capacity for innovation. That we can overcome mankind's propensity to divide always between a wealth capturing elite of haves and a mass captured by poverty. Where the only critical decision of a culture is whether the wealthy consider themselves trans-human or the peasantry subhuman.
I do desire change. Change that equals progress. One beyond conventional notions of human progress. The idea of a steady and effortless advancement obtained merely by traveling through time. The dubious notion of technological progress regarded as human progress. Technical change is an iterative process of improvement of tools. Refining tools towards greater efficiency of energy and time. In instances of easing mankind's material burden, it is a move against entropy. It assumes the appearance of the good. Ally of the reasoned living against the nonliving. But technical change has no moral component. It is neither good nor bad, praiseworthy or blameworthy. Technical change, often if not always opens new problems, as it is used to solve old ones. A matter of simple machines wrought to complex machines. In the manner of fractal geometric growth. Its only direction is not up but simply outward.
Mankind's distressing failings beg the question what varieties of change are available to man? The road of human progress. A change either to Humankind's physics or metaphysics. A change in Mans Nature. Our capacity for empathy increased. A greater propensity towards right reason. A Change in human culture: civilization and reason. This I regard as institutional change. Reason is as much a human institution as a part of human nature. Philosophy the study of the efficacy of reason in human perfectibility.
By rigorous examination of the cultural institutions and moral codes of mass social living, we will gradually evolve into new ways of being. With an expanded conception of our place in the world, our just relation to other living things. A more inclusive less pre-judicial view of each other. Letting go a dubious and intolerant brutality of being as a preternatural duty.
None of these ideas are new. Nor is it accidental that with the second term election the Obama team is playing with themes of basic fairness The 'Fair' Question: If We Must Raise Taxes, Where Should We Start? - Derek Thompson - Business - The Atlantic:, a central and enduring theme of Socratic/Platonic philosophy from two and a half millennia ago, and having the weight of ages on them even then.
The stumbling block to more comprehensively treating others as you would have be treated by them lies the concentric circles of otherness from the ego. The Symbolic Assailant is a psychological assessment of the other. The Other being in concept anyone encountered falling into certain generalized categories. It is manifested as a vessel onto which to place the sum of your fears. An attitude towards the other that they mean you harm. All at once, in a person opposite, all your fears surround and oppress you. It is an attitude which contains a projected portion of ones own self; a secret and aware assessment. The chasing shadow. The logic of presumptive action, direct action, leads the inclined individual to a radical exhibition. The mere existence of the other in the imagination bringing about a point of crisis. To take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them. It usually ends with someone dead on the ground.
Most of what we know -- what we think we know is the received knowledge of certain socializations. Institutional cast awareness following from automatic and predictable assessments of the axis of assailment. They are made along lines of power relations. The criminal justice system has grown into an institution that has become remarkably adept at putting young black men in jail Mass Incarceration and Criminal Justice in America The New Yorker. More than nine percent of the black male population in 2009 Perhaps more thans endured slavery during the golden age of that peculiar institution Incarceration in the United States - Wikipedia.
The general non integration of housing and schools belay a resistance of these institutions to any true color blindness. Surrounding municipal and state government work forces is a strident rhetoric in dismayingly unsubtle terms against affirmative action hiring and union protection against massive downsizing. Serving little end other than to keep middle class jobs and a middle class life locked away from minorities. According to Gallup poll in the article Politics - Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton - How Americans Lost Trust in Our Greatest Institutions - The Atlantic trust church & religion are up up 3% since 2002. A rise likely derived from the utility failure of other institutions such as those that control access to credit such as housing or other small civilian loans (Banks are down 24% in this same poll) These institution are no longer seen as serving in meaningful and reliable ways. News media's contribution is to continue to present minorities as characters in pre-scripted productions. Hoodie equals thug equals vanquished in a never-ending cowboy morality play. In Journalism crime still pushes much local news and crime is invariably contextualized by race.
The well spring of injustice that is institutionalized racism, is given particular point by the NRA and conservative state legislature's new project of so called stand-your-ground laws America's deadly devotion to guns | World news | The Guardian. Two things stand out about Stand-Your-Ground laws. They favor the survivor, they serve only the survivor. Those most caught up paranoiac narratives, those inclined to shoot first. They favor those the criminal justice system favors. A system that often puts little professional distance between themselves and the general prejudices of society.
Another thing giving the lie to this post racial America is the increasing creep of low level racism. Particularly racist speech, which by the cryptic and uncertain measure of online news comment sections is as virulent as I've seen it in my lifetime. There is a powerful desire to say it out-loud, to give voice to loathing. To move it into the mainstream. This is the starting point of an agenda. To rationalize hatred, celebrate fear, and divide. The extreme dislike of the realities of a multicultural society feeds their conviction that regarding the expansion of the franchise, that mistakes were made.
True human progress is written small against the years. Within the story of centuries is another of hope and well being; the thought that next generation of every family can gain a little against the last. With increased security peace education and health. Where nations do not in fear of chaos turn over their democracy and rule of law for the gruel of guarded perimeters parceled rights and a stratified society where only the elite is rewarded with true opportunity, and the rest fall back.
Primary education, K-12, is one place where this slide can be arrested. Where every generation can set out unencumbered, by the baggage of the past. The educational system is the primary institution of any culture. There are in any culture institutions of gravity which name and reinforce the societies core values. These will be the ones which prevent men from disappearing as responsible individuals into accumulations of power and wealth. Requiring that all people live and act before all other people. The courts, markets and congress however much money is coursing through the system must remain transparent. No hidden deals No hidden exercise of power.
There is no reason why predatory economic activity ought to be allowed in the name of unfettered economic activity. In the context of this discussion that includes a range of cheap practices of credit institutions: store front check cashing, reverse mortgages, car title loans/financing. As well differential small-grained geographic advertising (cigarette and alcohol) by large national corporations, pushed heavily into poorer neighbrhoods. That this activity can be considered upright and legal is a signal of the disfunction of politics not poverty.
I feel I am grasping for something larger; though. While much of our world is still resolutely organized there are parts of our faux post-racial culture, desire for dialed back governance, that no longer forcefully demonstrates progress. This post Bretton Woods world should be a period of critical review of our institutions. A priority given to a stabilization to human affairs, not just industrialization. One that would mitigate cyclic return to Hobbesian states of nature, dividedd on difference. A carefully wrought centuries stable culture selecting and harmonizing our amenable nature.
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