The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Having a Strong Opinion

BC Monkey suggested that my partisanship toward Obama has changed my attitude that people are arguing in good faith. While that may be true, I disagree. I haven't accused anyone of being paid shills for the Corporations, or having sinister motivations. If I accept, say racism as a human trait (did I say racists were bad? No. I say that the condition exists, it has unfortunate consequences for the dominated group, and I feel it is my right to point out where I see it tilting the playing field.) But the assumptions behind racism--differential levels of ability in different groups, may be true.

When I suggest that "sexism" may be behind some attitudes toward educating women, first, no one on this blog had ever suggested we shouldn't--so who was I attacking? Second, assumptions that men and women have differential roles and capacities is agreed upon by almost everyone, male and female. The only real argument is about the degree, and which characteristics vary, and what it means.

When I say that belief against global warming seemed to be correlated with Christianity, I wasn't saying anything negative about Christianity, just that it seemed strange to me that these things tended to cluster together. I was inviting non-Christians and atheists to express themselves, and several came forward to say that they, as atheists, also disagree. Score!

I AM worried about the possibility that corporations have grown complex enough to be considered "intelligent." And that they have sufficient money to influence the thoughts, philosophies, and political movements of the human beings on this planet. Look at this as a science-fictional speculation with some disturbing implications. I am delighted that population increase in developed countries is diminishing, but because I see no advantages to population increase that are anything close to the potential disasters, I explore that position. But those who promote the idea of "endless" growth not arguing "in good faith"? That would mean that they want the human race to die out, and are concealing their motivations.

In no way have I accused anyone of lying or perfidy. I am suggesting that all of our motivations and observations are filtered by underlying beliefs, and that some of those beliefs might belong to a different era, and are no longer as effective. We'll still have 'em, though.

If I think that we're about to move into another cycle of more "Yin" activity and awareness, including increased status for women, collective action and decreased demonization of "the others" that would naturally be accompanied by a push-back from the more "Yang" energy that has driven the last cycle of civilization: belief that the Earth is ours to exploit, male hierarchical organizations dominant, and strong differentiation between "us" and "other." I don't think those things are "wrong," just that they are out of balance.

Just as, if the more female energies have their way for a while, THEY will get out of balance, and we'll have to swing back the other way. Just as there are genuine Communists/Socialists who hide behind a more reasonable mask of "let's share a little bit more," and would be willing to drop national barriers and "go back to nature", there are racists, sexists, and Corporate drones who believe private industry can solve everything (just as some think government can solve "everything") and hide behind genuine concerns that America becomes something unrecognizable, and inferior, if we move too far.

And politics makes strange bedfellows. To make a "tent" large enough to win elections, each side welcomes elements which, in naked isolation, would be pretty horrible. And pretends not to notice the pandering, lies, and distortions. To me, it is inarguable that either side can get out of balance. I am of the opinion (and aware that it is an opinion, based on my own perceptual filters and emotions) that the rest of the world is not "wrong" about an issue like Nationalized health care, and that the argument against it is driven by fear and corporate profit.

It is my OPINION, and never presented as "truth." I really like the simplicity of the stats that support my position. I have never suggested that the intelligent folks who present opposing opinions are shills. They speak in "good faith." And I think that they are wrong about this one. If If I look at the first months of Obama's presidency, and how difficult it seemed to be for the Right to criticize him without reference to race or ethnicity, I think it reasonable to suggest that there is racism in there. Remember people claiming that they couldn't criticize him? From my position, that was because the automatic, unconscious stuff that floated up was pretty vile.

That's not true any more. Things have settled down, and both Right and Left have figured out how to mock and criticize the Prez without dipping into that material. But it was the first thing that came up, for far too many people. And yes, I'm going to be sensitive to that, and I won't pretend not to be.

But until anyone can show me where I say people are lying, or that those who hold a particular political position are intrinsically "wrong" across the board, or stop phrasing things as "it seems" and "am I missing something"--It is perfectly reasonable for me to take the position that some things just seem true to me, and open the door for discussion.


Marty S said...

Steve: In my opinion you over state the power of corporations. I worked for one of the largest forest products companies in the world. While I was there we were involved in three major confrontations with environmentalists.. What was the result of these confrontations. In two of them I was of the opinion that my company was in the right. We won one of the two. In the third I refused to be part of the team supporting the company's case because I agreed with the environmentalists and again the company lost. If a very rich corporation such as mine lost two out three and the only one they won was against an extremely demonstrably false charge, it is not surprising that I see corporations as not so powerful. There are a lot of very powerful anti-corporate groups out there with their own sources of money. I see corporations as needing to be able to put their case out there just to be on a level playing field.

Dan Moran said...

Virtually no one disputes that money is power. Until we get around to pointing out that corporations have lots of it, when abruptly they're on a level playing field with organizations who have one ten thousandth their income ...

Marty S said...

Dan: International Paper the corporation that pays my retirement check is largest paper company in the world. It had 663 million in profits last year. Now one ten thousandth of that admittedly big number is $66,300. Now do you honestly claim that the sum total income of organizations like Save Our World, World Environment and dozens of other such organizations have only a combined income of $66,300. Do you think IP could survive if it spent its whole profit defending itself against attacks by these organization.

Dan Moran said...

Way to parse, Marty. :-) Of course, I meant exactly that all the pro-consumer and pro-environment organizations in the world had operating income of $66K.

However, take all the corporations on one side, and all the pro-consumer and pro-environmentalist organizations on the other, and while one ten thousandth might be an exagerration, one one thousandth is probably ballpark. One wonders how the corporations manage to survive on such an unlevel playing field ....

Pagan Topologist said...

It is true, Steve, that you have never said (to my knowledge) that racists are bad. However, the statement that racism is bad is to my mind a self-evident truth. Calling someone a racist, to my mind, is one of the strongest possible insults. I have spent my entire adult life working on working through any racism in my own psyche, and confronting it in others. The thought that this is all wasted effort is mind boggling. Why would it be worthwhile if racism is not, in fact, intrinsically evil?