The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Monday, December 03, 2007

Enlightenment and the Dixie Chicks

Just heard some statistics that people who wait until after 23 to lose their virginity are more likely to have sexual problems later…likewise those who lose it before, I think, 16. The ideal age seems to be 19.5

I like that, since it’s almost exactly when I lost mine.
##
Was looking up the story about that Englishwoman in the Sudan arrested for letting her students name a toy “Mohammad.” Crowds were screaming for her blood. Sad. Unfortunately, the news article was followed by a discussion board…and 9 out of the 10 discussions were of the “Africans are monkeys” and “Mohammad was a demon” variety. In my opinion, they would happily join a lynch mob if they could find one. Subtract their comparitive wealth, national power/security and massively culturally reinforced superiority complex, and they’d be the ones calling blood.

Of course, many say that the flood of Internet racial comments is made a tiny but very vocal minority. I suspect that to be wishful thinking. I think that the posting morons have attitudes shared by about 20% of the population. That about 20% of the human race, in general, has such negative feelings about “the other.” And that another 60% has negative feelings, but just weak enough that their sense of logic, fair play or admiration for individuals keeps it under check. The internet offers the anonymity necessary for these guys (and the majority of them are men) to feel safe saying what others feel. These morons being just some tiny, insignificant fraction simply doesn’t explain the history of the human race. Pity. I was all set to simply condemn the Sudanese crowds, and THIS crap pops up.
I know it is tempting to think that the Sudan thing is indicative of some special problem in Islam or among Muslems or Africans. I’m not saying I’m correct to deny this—merely illustrating why I can’t and don’t accept it. The persistence of this kind of thinking, even in a society as evolved in the sense of Maslow’s Heirarchy, convinces me that there is a universal problem here. The research on the Amygdala and the kind of research published in Discovery reinforces it. One of the reasons I believe America is worth fighting for is the belief that, were our society to fall, tribalism in all of its glory would erupt almost immediately. Religion, race, whatever. I read one review of “The Mist” that didn’t believe that people would fall apart so quickly—even if faced by monstrosities and the apparent end of the world. I think such people didn’t notice that post 9/11, with only an insignificant fraction of our population killed, and that most citizens knew NO ONE who died in those towers, America went from being the “Home of the Free and Land of the Brave,” the standard of morality that the entire world looked toward, to nit-picking over how much pain, humiliation, fear, and tissue damage precisely qualified as “torture” and whether those pesky Geneva accords were out of date. Yep, the killer ape, that tribal creature is right under the surface, folks. Don’t kid yourself.

Considering our wealth and comfort as a people, how can you explain the amount of racism and cruelty in our culture unless this crap is pretty much programmed in?

And if it’s programmed, unless you believe that God, or the Universal Force, or the blind workings of evolution are evil, isn’t it just energy, capable of aligning with greater complexity and synergy? That’s all I’ve seen in my lifetime: slow, steady growth, with occasional negative eddies. No real sign of moving backwards, when measured over multi-generational spans. God, it can be frustrating…but also inspiring.
##
But if love is seen as the evolutionary force (and that’s the way I see it) and fear and love compete for the same place in our hearts (and that’s the way I see it) then when I see violence committed by gangs of…well, whatever. Blacks, whites, Muslims, whatever. I ask myself if they perceive their way of life under attack. Whether they are in the shadow of forces beyond their control that might force a reasonable person to feel helpless and afraid. The Rodney King Riots. The Civil War Draft Riots. The more afraid, the greater the perception of assault, the smaller the trigger that starts the lynch energy. The straw that breaks the camel’s back. And those who pull the trigger never (or seldom) see it. Most can’t. The negative feeling toward the “other” is probably subterranean in that 60% of people, only breaking to the surface in about 20%. The rest hide their fear and venom behind piety and patriotism. And don’t notice that they are willing to treat “them” in ways they would die before allowing someone to treat one of their own children.

I’ve known Southerners who protested that slavery was benign…until I asked them how happily they would give up their own children to the collar. At which point their eyes flashed fire. This is what we are.
##
“Who am I?” Children start asking that question in the cradle. There is both male and female energy burning in those children. Without both male and female parents to answer that question with hugs, kisses, and discipline, without roughhousing and embraces, the child expands to seek those answers from the world outside the home. For those in loving, stable communities, no harm no foul. But if not, they seek answers in shallow sexual relationships and casual violence. I am power—fear me. Or: I am the Mother Godess, embrace me. I bring life. I bring death. Those primal energies, alive in every child, seeking limit and context.

This is why it is so damaging, so dangerous, to bring a child into the world without a stable, balanced home. A man or woman must be extraordinary to offer both male and female energies without a partner. And most of us, by definition, are ordinary. If the surrounding community is damaged, or fearful, heaven help that child. The male seeks tribal community within which to feel safe by guided expression of violence. The female seeks tribal community in which to feel safe by guided expression of sexuality. Humans, of course, are a blend of male and female…but the exaggerated mating game warps that balance. Both boys and girls seek response from the opposite sex, and the respect of their own gender. And without parents to show them the way to this, without grandparents TOTALLY on the far side of the hormone flush that creates life, we get a parody of actual sexual dimorphism. Look at Rap videos for a glaring example.
##
If the stages of human development are: Newborn, child, adolescent (and much of humanity freezes here. Especially in developed countries with elongated training periods for complex social tasks.) The jump of Adulthood, for many takes place only when the parents die. And most stay there without Awakening (the next level) although they glimpse the Awakened state from time to time, and are certainly attracted by those who seem to live in that place. Here is where language begins to fail. The level above this might be called Clarity—education and experience combined with the unfiltered perception of a child. Anchor this in a non-dualistic awareness and the Ego begins to unravel.

After all—the newborn child had no Ego. She looked out at the world and assembled it a piece at a time in relation to parents, teachers, babysitters, etc., seeing warmth, comfort, and food and pleasure. And we continue to perform the acts and roles that keep giving us these things, throughout our lives, until we confuse our “Selves” with the roles we play. Disciplines like yoga, martial arts, meditation, etc., AT THEIR BEST, help to disassociate us from our physical sensations, ego identity, and artificial reality maps. That points us in the DIRECTION of awareness, awakeness, and Enlightenment…But few can get all the way there prior to death. No religion or discipline can do that. Not yet, anyway.
##
If the Ego shell is balanced, and nurtured by love, brilliance or a generations-old system of tolerant, healthy living, then when it finally cracks, the residual habit patterns preserve a perspective on life that allows the Enlightened being to function in this world in a way that does not disturb the Dreamers. In a few cases, they even help mark out pathways so that those Dreamers desirous…and capable…of Awakening can do so.

But most Enlightened, I think, don’t bother with that. And most Dreamers would rather have the Blue pill, living in a world of Us versus Them. Oh, if you’re in this world, you often have to play the role, to choose sides. The awakened warriors on both sides understand the folly of this, and can share libations and speak of peaceful things and other days…before they join their armies once again and slaughter one another as they must. But they don’t get caught in the game.

I really don’t know why I decided to write all of this this morning. Bullshit. Sure I do. This blog is my version of McKenna’s “Spiritual Autolysis” the written investigation of the structure of Ego-reality. As writing down a goal makes it real, placing in print the structure of the mind, and then allowing it to turn in on itself, begins a process which, once carried beyond a certain point, can’t be undone. Once you see the light, you can’t un-see it.

And that light I see in all nations, all people, all religions, all major political philosophies. I glimpse it even in David Duke’s corrupt worldview—twisted by fear. Truth be told, I think he is Awake, and “evil,” exploiting the fears of his followers for worldly power. In another sense, he’s just playing out his role.
Each level of the ego-shell is congealed energy. Burn it, and the energy is freed. Consider this a metaphysical version of the way the NLP guy discovered that if you mentioned Nicki to me, my energy jumped: my attention left the artificial concerns of my life and returned to center.

From my point of view, there is little difference between American crowds burning Dixie Chicks CD’s for dissing Bush, and Sudanese crowds demanding blood for the Englishwoman supposedly dissing Mohammad. The American attack was on the third chakra—power, specifically earning power. The Sudanese demand for blood was an attack on the 1st Chakra-survival. Certainly, at least an order of magnitude more serious. But not on a different continuum
1) in any culture, attacking a person’s livelihood IS an attack on their survival. Obey the tribe, or die.
2) An “attack” on the central religious figure is more powerful than an “attack” on a political figure. One involves survival in this world, perhaps. The other deals with the immortal soul. Compare: someone insulting Tony Blair to someone insulting Jesus Christ.
3) The people involved are not operating at the same level of Maslow’s hierarchy. My guess is that many of those in that crowd have personal friends and family who have died in war, been threatened with starvation. Death is a very real thing in their lives, in ways Americans have been protected from for generations.

There’s more. You have to multiply the act by the level of cultural advancement/position on Maslow’s Hierarchy to see whether their reaction is really that different. If our society were as damaged as theirs? The Dixie Chicks might have been dragged through the street.

It’s one of the reasons America is worth fighting for. But it is no reason to point fingers.
There, but for the grace of God, our founding fathers, and two protective oceans, go we.

26 comments:

Dan Moran said...

"If the stages of human development are: Newborn, child, adolescent (and much of humanity freezes here. Especially in developed countries with elongated training periods for complex social tasks.) The jump of Adulthood, for many takes place only when the parents die. And most stay there without Awakening (the next level) although they glimpse the Awakened state from time to time, and are certainly attracted by those who seem to live in that place. Here is where language begins to fail. The level above this might be called Clarity—education and experience combined with the unfiltered perception of a child. Anchor this in a non-dualistic awareness and the Ego begins to unravel."

Don't know how accurate this is for everyone, but certainly you've described me. I'm past the point of being afraid I'll fail my children (at least at the level of right effort) -- but not past the point of being afraid of Awakening, despite (or because of) the seductive glimpses I've had of it. I've more or less gotten right the things I have to have right ... everything else starts to look like risk I'm not prepared to take yet.

Kukulkan said...

If fear/distrust of the different is innate (i.e., genetically predetermined), what evolutionary stressors would account for that fear/distrust?

One obvious explanation would be that differences are (or at least, potentially are) dangerous.

If fear/distrust of the different is distributed on a sliding scale (let's arbitrarily say 20% extreme xenophobes; 60% mild xenophobes; 20% little to no xenophobic tendencies), what would be the evolutionary benefit to this distibution.

You've got some rapid adopters willing to join the "others" to test the waters. If the rapid adopters successfully integrate with the others, then the reluctant adopters will be willing to interface tribes. Meanwhile, always in the background, you have the isolationists (some would call them sheepdogs) who will never trust the others and are at the very least observing the others to make sure that they are not up to mischief. Some subgroup of the isolationists (let's call them rogue isolationists) will go beyond monitoring the others, and will actively attempt to discredit the others by hook and crook.

If these conjectures are true, what do we learn? Interaction between different tribes is dangerous, but that it offers potential rewards sufficiently large to justify the attempt to interact. However there will always be some level of stress between different tribes, and rogue isolationists will always be attempting to highlight/magnify that stress.

Anonymous said...

If the moral progress of societies is absolutely deterministic, what basis is there for morally criticizing the U.S. on any issue whatsoever? No doubt, we are as robotically unable to behave better than any pack of crazed lynch-mob Muslims in Sudan.

If the moral progress of societies is not deterministic, how do Muslim societies evade moral responsibility for having chosen to live in self-induced poverty and the unfreedom of most of their populations (over half of those countries are female)?

If the moral progress of societies is deterministic in poor non-white countries, but freely chosen (and thus morally culpable) in wealthy white countries, then haven't you just resurrected the Victorian idea that the affluent white countries were the natural leaders of the rest of humankind?

--Erich Schwarz

Steven Barnes said...

I didn't say "absolutely" anything. We can override survival to save our children, override sex drives for religious reasons, override tribe for the survival or expression of ideas. I like Western Society because it is, right now, expressing ideas I agree with: not because its people are intrinsically superior. Saying that the poverty in Islamic countries is self-imposed may have an element of truth, but it is not imposed in a vacuum: colonialis, war, and many cultural factors have to be weighed in. The danger is not in assuming that our programming is superior for the modern world. The danger is in assuming that we created such programming due to our moral superiority, that others cannot evolve to equal or surpass it, or that there is something superior in the computers running the programs. I have no problem criticizing the U.S.--or anyone else. But I also take the position that the innate capacity of beings is only expressed in an optimal environment. Otherwise, I'd assume that poor people are "intrinsically" poor, fat people cannot lose weight, those in dysfunctional relationships cannot have healthy ones--and evolved their dysfunctional attitudes in some vacuum.
##
And you bet there are evolutionary advantages to Xenophobia. But it also breeds stagnation. Some percentage of the population MUST seek "otherness" or if the environment changes, all die.

Mike Ralls said...

> America went from being the “Home of the Free and Land of the Brave,” the standard of morality that the entire world looked toward,<

Um . . . no. That's propaganda Steve. That's what we told ourselves and others that we were, but we have never and can never be that. On 9-10-01, the entire world most certainly did not look towards us to be the standard of morality. We were still the lone-superpower (and would be disliked by many for that reason alone regardless of any actions) and we also still widely criticized for various human rights issues (land mines, the death penalty, the sanctions on Iraq) that pre-date 9-11.

> No real sign of moving backwards, when measured over multi-generational spans. <

It's not racial or tribal, but I would argue that before the industrial revolution that the entire span of human civilization (8,000BC - 1750 AD) was a step backwards in terms of standard of living for the average human - that is the average human was worse off after the Agriculture revolution in comparison with their hunter-gather ancestors. There were a higher density of humans in agricultural societies than there ever was of H-G's, but the actual life of the average human was worse, because the average human during this time was a downtroddened peasant, and all available archaeological evidence (height, bone density) says that they were malnourished in comparison to the average H-G.

And now that I think about it, it is vagely tribal and relates to human relations in that a H-G society tends (on average) to be far more egalitarain than a pre-industrial agricutlural society. And that means that on average some members of a tribe needed to treat other members of their tribe a lot worse than was the case before the agricultural revolution.

10,000 years is an awfully long step backwards, IMO.

> It’s one of the reasons America is worth fighting for. But it is no reason to point fingers.
There, but for the grace of God, our founding fathers, and two protective oceans, go we.<

This is more or less my position.

Steven Barnes said...

I know that HG's got more protein. I'm not certain that those who chose agriculture were stupid and thought only of their ancestors 10,000 years hence. One suspects that there were advantages a-plenty, otherwise they would have gone right back to living off the land. What were those advantages? Possibly stability, seasons when they were able to rest and think more, other things. But the first agriculturalists had to have lived pretty much side-by-side with those who hunted and gathered, didn't they? Are we to think they were the stupid ones? I am suspect about the thought that agriculture represented an overall step backwards, without a broader perspective.

Pagan Topologist said...

I think the only advantage of agriculture compared to hunting and gathering was that the total food supply could be increased, but at the expense of quality. This allowed for the support of a larger population density, but with each individual less well off on average.

Come to think of it, we are doing more of this right now. The concentration of essential trace minerals in our food is continually decreasing as our agricultural soil becomes more and more depleted. I wonder if the population obesity problem might also in part be caused by people not getting enough iodine, cobalt, vanadium, boron, whatever, which is less plentiful in food than it once was. Thus, to get enough, one must eat more food, in toto.

I would argue that the Dixie Chicks were the real patriots when they criticized the Bush regime. I went out and bought their recordings immediately thereafter, to support them. Absent their truth-telling on stage, I probably would not have bought their work, even though I enjoyed them at the Lilith Fair seven or eight years ago.

Anonymous said...

.
"The danger is not in assuming that our programming is superior for the modern world."

OK, so you and I agree that our "programming" (i.e., our Western civilization and culture) is indeed in some way substantively superior to its current would-be competitors.

"... The danger is in assuming that we created such programming due to our moral superiority ..."

How did we create that "programming" in the first place, then? You don't want to attribute its creation to any superiority whatsoever on the part of western Europeans to, say, Chinese or Hindus, let alone Africans; fair enough, but then where did it come from, and why did it arise, really, in a rather tiny part of the overall world?

"... that others cannot evolve to equal or surpass it ..."

I agree that this assumption is simply wrong. On the other hand, if others do evolve to equal or surpass it, won't that, at a minimum, mean adopting a great deal of the West's culture? And won't that require, at a minimum, a serious reinterpretation of such things as Islam?

"... or that there is something superior in the computers running the programs."

Well, that's a good hot-button topic, isn't it? At the biological level, though, it's ultimately a scientific question rather than an ideological one. However, it's got to be about the most single emotionally explosive topic in modern biology that I'll ever see, except maybe for a successful aging cure.


--Erich Schwarz

Mike Ralls said...

To reverse my statement on another post: What may be good for the group may not be good for the individual. Farmers could have a higher density than than H-Gs - that meant that in fights between H-G's and farmers, the farmers would usually win. So the group was stronger, even if the individual in the group was worse off.

Steven Barnes said...

It's impossible to know for certain what came first: the chicken or the egg. One can promote one's culture, defend one's culture, and criticize both one own and other cultures all WITHOUT assuming some intrinsic superiority. Since it is the automatic assumption of EVERYONE that they are the ones morally superior, I reject that position, and all arguments made BY that group for themselves (note that few people ever take the position that some OTHER culture is morally superior. What, is everyone lying?) I see nothing positive coming from that, and huge amounts of potential negativity. We can accomplish everything we want as a people without it. The assumption of moral superiority seems to be nothing more than that dualistic aspect of mind that traps the ego. I don't need to think less of a mugger to kill him, or less of my son to correct him. While behaviors are the BEST external guides to human beings, human beings are not their behaviors. I quite understand why people want to consider themselves or their ancestors superior, I see nothing but grief from this--and it's impossible to ultimately determine anyway. What was an accident of history? What due to something special about the people? Good fodder for arguments. But beware the Universal human tendency to pat ourselves on the back.

Mike Ralls said...

Also, while we don't have any records from 8,000 BC, we do have plenty of records from H-G's interacting with agricultural societies at later date, and by and large the H-G's are not jumping at the chance to become members of the agricultural societies. They more or less regard the lifestyle of a farmer as god-awful and have to be defeated and crushed by war or starvation before they'll accept it, and even then many of them just lay down and died because they couldn't face the end of their worlds.

I don't imagine that the H-G's of 8,000 BC thought very different than their 19th century counterparts in this regard, but for both of them numbers meant that the future would belong to the farmers.

Mike Ralls said...

> But most Enlightened, I think, don’t bother with that. And most Dreamers would rather have the Blue pill,<

Or . . . perhaps there is no Red Pill, and you along with everyone else "are nothing more than a lucky species of ape that is trying to understand the complexities of creation via a language that evolved in order to tell one another where the ripe fruit was." Perhaps our brains are just hobbled together patchworks that work well enough, but if you keep poking at the gears to try and figure out how it works, all you do is end up gumming it up and breaking the damned thing.

You know . . . maybe. Who really knows? ;)

Cheers,
Mike

Steven Barnes said...

The real question I ask is: what were the advantages the FARMERS saw in farming? Certainly THEY didn't think it was disadvantageous, did they? Did they think the HG lifestyle was better? Come on, people--nobody thinks like that. So...from THEIR perspective, what were the advantages. Then, we can make a judgement about whether they were correct, but we have to give them that much respect, don't we?

Dan Moran said...

"Perhaps our brains are just hobbled together patchworks that work well enough, but if you keep poking at the gears to try and figure out how it works, all you do is end up gumming it up and breaking the damned thing."

Certainly a lot of that out there. I've known more "enlightened" people than I can count who I wouldn't trust to make me a peanut butter sandwich.

On the flip side of that -- I've known people I do suspect of at least intermittent enlightenment, who can and have done things things I can't. Where I don't understand their explanations, it may be a better bet that the failure is mine, and not theirs ...

suzanne said...

Steve said:
"I know that HG's got more protein"

mike said:

"the average human was worse off after the Agriculture revolution in comparison with their hunter-gather ancestors. There were a higher density of humans in agricultural societies than there ever was of H-G's, but the actual life of the average human was worse, because the average human during this time was a downtroddened peasant, and all available archaeological evidence (height, bone density) says that they were malnourished in comparison to the average H-G."

do you have references for these staements?

Pagan Topologist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pagan Topologist said...

Remember the 'noble savage' from the 1700's? I think this was an example of one group considering another morally superior. I also think quite a few white people in Philadelphia around that time considered the Iroquois to be morally superior to themselves. (This was not a case of the 'noble savage paradigm; no one well informed could have considered the Iroquois to be savages.)

Steven Barnes said...

I know there are some instances, including those who worship foreign culture X or Y, where some think that another culture is superior. That's why I said "few," not "no." It's rare, rare, rare, and other members of their culture generally seem to think they're nuts.
##
Suzanne: I remember reading this in several places, but can't swear to the source. I believe it was considered that HGs got more protein and more varied protein. My problem is that there would seem to be an assumption than there weren't compensating advantages in agriculture, even short-term. I mean, if not, why didn't the farmers hunt? Something doesn't wash here.

Mike Ralls said...

> do you have references for these staements?<

Can't remember where I first read it, but it's been the accepted view of archaeologist for more than a generation now. Two minutes of googling gives this:

http://books.google.com/books?id=Bf9OkziA3fYC&pg=PA249&lpg=PA249&dq=neolithic+europe+average+height&source=web&ots=jTsY0xnhMO&sig=1QeX_H5t4UQ3x6meF9ygvZQFvF4#PPA248,M1

Mike Ralls said...

That looks like the link was cut off. Try googling:

Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos By William James Burroughs pg 248.

Also, Steve

> I mean, if not, why didn't the farmers hunt? Something doesn't wash here.<

Perhaps they did it because they got kicked out of all the best hunting land and had to make due with the crappy land so they spent more and more of their time gathering until that gathering turned into farming, and they were more resistant to local diseases because they had a higher density and were more numerous, so they simply out bred the competition over the generations . . .

Who knows if that's how it happened? When talking about an event that happened thousands of years before writing was invented there are going to be some awfully big gaps.

The known facts are these: The archaeological evidence of 100,000 BC to 1800 AD suggests that HG's were healthier than farmers. Farmers only came into being in the last 10,000 years (max). Therefore, I think a strong case can be made that the agricultural revolution was a step backward for the material wealth of the average human.

I think it was a _necessary_ step backwards because it allowed the Industrial Revolution, but still it represents a time in which the average material wealth of humanity went down for 10,000 years. As I said, I think that's an awfully big step back.

I would really recommend
A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World by Gregory Clark for a nice big picture overview of ups and downs of humanity.

Steven Barnes said...

If agriculture was, let's say an adaptation for those who couldn't compete with more aggressive hunters...and in time they gained advantages that allowed them to pretty much wipe out hunter culture...interesting. And a good case for human culture moving backwards before it moved forward. I don't care to try invalidating a well-made point, although it's certainly worthy of a good late-night discussion. Well played.

Josh Jasper said...

Saying that the poverty in Islamic countries is self-imposed may have an element of truth, but it is not imposed in a vacuum: colonialis, war, and many cultural factors have to be weighed in.

In Sudan's case, it's less Islamic, and more corruption and horrendously bad leadership. Islam does not have some intrinsic factor to it that causes bad government, even if it's the state religion. Sudan, like many African nations is run by tyrants who're plundering the national wealth, and squandering ties with the west in favor of ties with OPEC nations.

The leadership in Sudan is deeply disgusting to me. They condone genocide against a portion of their own population. I really do assume that US, Western, and most of Asian culture is significantly superior at their current stages than Sudanese culture. I don't clam it's something intrinsic to Islam, but the general culture of the dominant class in Sudan is horribly dysfunctional.

I'm more interested in asking why they specifically are dysfunctional, and not glibly picking colonialism or poverty as an answer, because it's just as glib as picking Islam.

Marty S said...

On the subject of agricultural society versus HG society, it has always been my understanding that agriculture allowed a larger population, than a HG society. So, if we assume that some percent of the population of an agriculture society, either would not have been born or died of starvation wouldn’t we have to say that those people were much better of slightly malnourished than dead. If we agree on that then perhaps the agricultural society was superior and that is why it survived.

#
On the general issue nothing in life is completely black or white (joke intended). In every issue it’s all about where you draw the line. What rights do I have when it comes to choosing my friends? If its okay to choose them on the basis of intelligence, athletic ability , or weight, shouldn’t I also have the right to choose them based upon ethnicity? But, if I can choose my friends based upon ethnicity and I own a house, which I live in and rent a room in shouldn’t I be able to choose who I rent to based upon ethnicity. And so we go up the line till we have a fully segregationist society.

Each society draws its own lines and feels morally superior because they have chosen the correct lines. This is inevitable because if we didn’t believe they were the better lines we would have chosen different ones.

Steven Barnes said...

I would say you DO have the right to choose your friends. And in a perfect world, you would certainly have the right to choose who you rent to, or hire, along any lines you want. But...those who feel slighted would also have the right to protest, to withhold their custom, and to threaten to withhold it from your customers and suppliers. Because you need the support of your culture, others in your culture can use that fact to modify your behavior, until we end up with a compromise that works most of the time for most people. Yes, you have freedom--but unless you want to live off completely by yourself, you also have responsibility to those around you. A cell that does exactly what it wants to do in your body, without regard for the surrounding tissues, is either an amoeba or cancer.

suzanne said...

my own reading
(try J. M. Roberts'
New History of the World
(1996), oxford Press, for one)
indicates that the beginnings of agriculture includes both
planting crops (7 basic ones)
AND the domestication of animals
and that H-G's AND settled agriculturalists exsisted together
and not in war

I see the reasoning in the comments section here
aas part of that tendency to dichotomize
(because it's simpler)
where dichomtomy isn't necessarily what occured
and saying what occured is always "iffy'
when you're talking about events of 10,000 years ago
and more

I'll try to scan a relevant selexction from Roberts and send it to Steve
and he can do with it
whatever he pleases . . .

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Here's a possible explanation for why assuming moral superiority is hazardous. It seems to be quite an easy step from observing that one is doing more of the right things to assuming that one is doing them because one is an innately good person--and at that point, it's quite possible to conclude that whatever one feels like doing is the right thing.

And, of course, the same thing can happen to a nation--it might even be easier for nations, since feedback is slower for large groups.