Wednesday, January 5

Story, Symbol, Praxis and Question: The Left

Here's the plan. I'm following the procedures I've learned in N.T. Wright's series Origins and the Question of God in which I'm a little more than half way through the existing 3 books. In that, Mr Wright outlines a method of historical analysis known as critical realism. I have another book on critical realism on the way, so I may in the future revisit/revise my take on this project. However, critical realism is a method of analyzing worldview and mindset. Mindset is an individual's worldview. Worldview is a cultural concept. It is a pretty well established assumption that the right and the left (red vs blue) in this country differ in their worldview. I for one have some difficulty understanding my counterparts on the left. I find that those on the left usually fail to understand me. Too often this devolves into a sometimes rancorous shouting match. Thus the purpose my current endeavor is to make those differences more clear and understandable to both sides. It seems to me I will know if I've succeeded if I can correctly anticipate the point of view expressed by my counterparts as part of a reaction to current events.

Now, I understand that neither side has a monolithic worldview shared by each person. But I'm going to try to paint in broad enough strokes to get the basics.

What are the stories told by the left. I'm not going to give the details of any of the stories, just a headline to summarize the point of view.
  • Diversity and tolerance of others is a paramount virtue. If not followed by "less developed cultures" it is forgiven, but their views of course are always tolerated (even if they don't include diversity as a virtue). This virtue, if not shared by others in a developed culture is interpreted as "hateful" and those having such views are bigots.
  • Anyone with holding traditional religious beliefs (and a member of a developed nation) is a willful moron.
  • From last night, we find fetuses are parasites. This be a little too strong, but it seems prevalent that the left holds that the fetus is not human and as such does not need to be afforded the same rights.
  • America abuses her power
  • War is always bad and should be avoided (virtually) whenever necessary. Defensive war is the only acceptable use of military force.
  • Corporations are evil and driven only by greed for profit. As a corollary profit is bad.
  • The rich are getting richer and the poor poorer, aka Mr Edwards "Two America's" theme.
  • Increased taxation always increases revenue
  • Good intentions count for more than results
  • Those on the "other side" (the right) lack compassion
  • America is on its way to an inevitable big fall
  • Popular culture is not corrosive. What we watch, hear, and do has little or no impact on our moral life. Censorship of all kinds (except of course repression of symbols used by the right) is always bad.
  • Nuclear is always bad
  • The government is a good way to solve problems
  • Global warming has human origins (see previous entry).
  • Religion is and should be for everyone a private matter
  • Science has the answers.

And their symbols match their stories, for example, the American flag stands for the power (and concomitant evil which follows) and its oppression throughout the world. I need help here? Drop a comment please.

Praxis, which how symbol and story are put into practice, include:
  • Passive (aggressive) resistance is not always practiced by all members, but certainly supported
  • Demonstrations and demonstrators are heroic
  • Do not display patriotic or religious symbols publicly.
I need more work on this as well.

Finally, (perhaps most importantly) we need to answer the questions:
  • Who are we? We are the inheritors of the fruits of great evils. Slavery, corporate exploitation, and greed have resulted in our powerful nation.
  • What time is it? We are now living in the short time before our sins come home to roost. The rest of the world will "catch up", the oil will run out, and we will sink back to being just one small nation amongst many, and be hated for how we abused our power.
  • What is wrong? Bad corporations and greedy politicians control our power.
  • What is the solution? First we need to get rid of Mr Bush and take back control of Congress and the White House. As for the coming catastrophe, it is inevitable.

Well, that's quite enough for one post. I'm going to leave it there. I'll return to this after running through the same process from the "right". I need some more work on symbol and praxis. As always comments and assistance are much appreciated.