Up front, I should establish that the inclusion of this topic in the General Philosophy forum is deliberate and also a fine distinction. I'm not necessarily after the politics, but more a reflection of the human thought process in relation to the scale of ideas. The following is excerpted from Jack Cady's The American Writer. A couple of notes: (1) I recommend this book for anyone with an interest in American history or literature, as it is an excellent perspective on both; (2) this excerpt definitely pushes copyright laws to the edge, at least. I often forget to mention when I'm blowing such laws out the window, but there really is no good disclaimer, is there? Cady, Jack. The American Writer: Shaping a Nation's Mind. New York: St. Martin's, 1999. pp. 163-164. ° A note from Tiassa: It is worth pointing out, for reasons far too abstract to explain without a major digression, that the comparative violence of the slave's life and the worker's life is, in fact, still held up today by bigoted romanticists who play the role of apologist for American slavery. Interesting, that. DSZG WL DV WL DRGS GSV PMLDOVWTV? This idiot-simple alphabetic code is merely part of the point that I don't want in play yet. It's my way of putting it on the table without actually doing so. The equivalent of Oscar night: it's my envelope in a mayonnaise jar at Price-Waterhouse Cooper. It seems to me that throughout American society at least, and, daresay, Western society, there is a tendency among people to be very forthright in their neuroses. That is, when considering any general idea, people tend to personalize it and thus show their hand. For instance, imagine yourself on a commission and the above text is part of the report put in front of you and your fellow commissioners. What happens when Commissioner X from County Y contests the report. It's not accurate. It's political. It's a biased indictment ... and so on. Meanwhile Commissioner G from County H snaps back that X is just another child-hating, misogynistic ... and suddenly you might as well be at home staring at Crossfire and wondering whether to get another beer or switch the channel first. So if the commission gets right down to it, you're faced with a choice of accepting or not or whatever degree in between the information before you. Honoring X's complaint, the group discusses the frequency of such ill conditions. Honoring another issue from elsewhere, the group discusses the comparative result of other systems (e.g. slave/worker). In either case, once it becomes apparent that the ills of the workers were more than the equivalent of the psychopathic stalker--that is, once it is accepted that there existed at least a trend--the commission might then undertake the question of what is an acceptable degree of human abuse. It might at first stand well enough for Commissioner X to establish that abuse of the worker only happened to 20% of the workers (an intentionally and ridiculously low number), but when you cover the years in question, that applies to a over a million people sacrificed to the deified economy. (The number, I remind, is still quite low.) So inherent in choices the commission makes is the dimension of whether or not there is an acceptable threshold of people you (or anyone) can abuse. Politics are "of the people", and a mutual effect takes place between politics and the minds that consider politics. And that part of the thought process is what I find so fascinating at the moment. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the myriad errors of scale and perspective so strongly affecting the politics of human interaction, and, therefore, the human endeavor itself. Quite frankly, Cady's theoretical points of argument are, while simplistic according to his needs at the time, somewhat representative of a common process I have witnessed and participated in. And I can't figure it out: when an idea is put before a person, the result is commonly a complex diversion. Regardless of what direction it goes, the argument is designed to flank the point instead of address it directly. Some invoke the "facts" related to them through vested interests, some invoke concepts and comparatives that presume much. We might, at this point, look to the comparison of the slave versus the worker. A white supremacist might, indeed, point out that slaves were generally treated better than the workers of the Industrial Revolution, but I guarantee you that supremacist works and lives under conditions guaranteed by law to be better than either condition. The point of the supremacist seems undermined by its inherent qualification that the lesser state of existence--or, to the point, the greater of the compared states of existence--is appropriate for any number of people. It does not meet the most direct point of the race/slavery issue--that nobody should be treated that way. There is, indeed, a greater investment in the slave, because the slave is owned. In addition to the expense of housing and feeding (compared to wages) there is the initial purchase expenditure as well. One can hardly compare the protection of an investment to, say, human sympathy. By comparing one unacceptable condition to another, the supremacist avoids the direct point of human dignity, and accepts in the meantime that such division of and regard for people are, a priori, proper. We might look to the industrial apologist who points out that people lived better because of the Industrial Revolution. Well, yeah. But not the ones who suffered and died to make it happen. Their lives never got better. You haul sixteen tons, what do you get? In the large run, though, an examination of labor conditions goes well beyond the politics of supremacy, capital, and market-share. It goes beyond prices and "standard-of-living". It is, however, entirely possible that such a manner of behaving is also bad for humanity. In fact, it seems to be demonstrative. To wit: while it would, indeed, take a hell of a lot of nuclear meltdowns to actually render the whole of the Earth inhospitable to human life, and while I would imagine we would (and did) figure it out eventually, I can guarantee you that the nuclear disasters we've endured could have been reduced save not for a lack of knowledge, but for an excess of greed. Every new industry is dragged kicking and screaming into safety conventions. We might even look over to the consumer side where, while claiming that cel-phones are "not dangerous", multiple phone companies hold design patents on various "brain shields" intended to protect your brain from the radiation of a cel-phone. On that count, it sounds a little like the cigarette companies, but this is beside the point. We might look to the generalization of "greed" for an explanation, and it suffices well enough. Desire for excess has demonstrably interfered with safety conditions and even conditions of basic dignity; such things are simply too expensive. Typically, when defending something accused of inciting greed, a person will present a condition that merely reinforces the notion of greed. To wit: capitalists generally advocate what capitalism gets the individual. In other words, it should be important to me because it's me. There is, in the abstract, nothing to object to in self-awareness. But an apologist for modern industry will point out that working children in Nepal at least get to help support their families. The last time I heard this argument, I countered with the political statement that the kids should be in school except that the companies don't pay enough into the economy to finance schools. The apologist advises that our standard of living would decline if we paid better wages abroad. Now, if we're talking about basic economy, that's one thing. Necessities. But I put aside, for instance, a vegetarian argument pertaining to the amount of grain and water needed to create meat when I consider the tons of grain that never makes it anywhere, rotting in the east half of my own state, much less the excess of the nation. If we were talking about there being no other grain, sure, I can see the waste of raising cattle. Likewise, if the apologist for capitalism is putting forth our standard of living in relation to necessities, that we would be unable to afford necessities, then perhaps he has an argument. But the particular apologist that last put the idea to me was the same apologist who, owning two houses, five boats, four cars, and a business, dared tell me he was poor. Nonetheless, the process frustrates me because I can't quite get hold of what it does. On the one hand, it generally, though not always, appeals directly to the individual perception of the person receiving the argument--e.g. capitalism and wealth, tradition and honor, convention and innocence. To the other, it relies heavily on presumptive comparisons--e.g. worker/slave/prostitute--for justification of the favored option. The whole thing seems a transmutation of idea in relation to self, and a common device of accepting what would otherwise be rejected merely because it accommodates the political idea shows the weight of the self in that relationship. The sealed envelope ... the sealed envelope. I had to look up at my own foolishness in order to see the point clearly again. Amazing, that. It seems a basic method of Western thought, at least. Part of it was that I was just a few minutes before starting this outside smoking and reading through the aforementioned Cady volume. Having spent a good part of the morning discussing with an associate the relationship between people and information, Cady's bit on labor and economy struck me specifically because, while I'm already sympathetic to the political aspect of it, I noticed immediately when he looked to the inference of an argument. Maybe it has something to do with writers, but just as a visual-media artist I know ("I am not a painter!" says he) looks beyond the object itself in his perspective, those close to the written word know that the words themselves are superficial. It's what you do with them. Those inferences reflect many facets of sentiment. Brust, in his Taltos novels--and, I'm sure, a good, good many writers before and after him--occasionally mentions that the gangsters generally learn more from what isn't said and isn't shown. Any skeptic worth a whit knows to always read between the lines. I'm tempted to ask if we all read between the lines when looking in the mirror, but I know better than to provide such a digression, and besides, it's a horrible mixing of metaphors. But has anyone ever touched something so cold it felt hot? Searing, burning cold? The words, or the ideas, are merely superficial. I'll open the envelope later. And no, I didn't put any effort into the alphabetic code. It's quite simple. thanx much, Tiassa Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!