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April 05, 2006

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Hunh?

Too cryptic, I guess. For neoliberalism "society" is a fiction. There are families governed by the order of ethics and love and the market governed by laws. Nothing is "bigger than" the market, nothing encloses it, it must anwswer to nothing but its own internal dynamics. By contrast, we might suggest that markets are inside society, that they spring from civil society, as does democracy, and that the market order must answer to the good of all, the will of people, or the needs of society.

This debate happens at the same time the polarity between rational atheism and the crowd of believers reaches its outer limits. Past this nothing reconciles.
We want a moral society but the morality comes from belief, residual maybe, filtered through wider and wider gaps in the tradition maybe, but without its spiritual origins morality is an argument between two grunting animals.
Nothing in the rationalists' credo would contradict extraordinay rendition or any of the increasingly grotesque anti-life inhumanities the news slips under the door everyday.
And yet it's obvious they've got the bulk of the evidence in their favor. In this context at this time.
Isn't it triangulation again - still?
Isn't the atheist position given soldity by the air in fundamentalist dogma?
Isn't it just more not-that-ism?
Where is the justification for moral outrage in a pragmatic view of life that has no central thing for its valence but only sub-atomic particles and empty void? And grunting complexities no different than any other organism, with no more claim to moral fitness than a bug or a fish.
And without moral outrage what do we have? Front row seats at the death of everything but raw survival, and even that in grave doubt now.
Without morality, which would not and will not exist without some kind of faith, there is no argument against anything - only force. Societies that exist only with and by force are the problem we're trying to address.
Astute readers will recall this point recurring throughout our(my) attempts to meet mentions of unravelling social cohesion with reminders of the biology in its underlayment.
Without biology there's nothing, without faith there's nothing but biology - and no grounds for moral objection to anything.
So there you go.

This debate happens at the same time the polarity between rational atheism and the crowd of believers reaches its outer limits. Past this nothing reconciles. We want a moral society but the morality comes from belief, residual maybe, filtered through wider and wider gaps in the tradition maybe, but without its spiritual origins morality is an argument between two grunting animals. Nothing in the rationalists' credo would contradict extraordinay rendition or any of the increasingly grotesque anti-life inhumanities the news slips under the door everyday.

I suspect the main difficulty lies in conflating belief and faith. The former being a pre-rational structure rooted in habit. In the move to discredit magical thinking many materialists and rationalists dismiss the transrational mysteries along with pre-rational mythologies.

The fundamentalism of rational methods replaces the fundamentalisms of dogma, and we appear to have just blasted out the foundations of value judgement with nothing to replace it. The appeal to a higher authority than the market is necessary, call it society or call it something else. Rationality and reductionism cannot deny that the world is build from interconnected wholes. Communication, connection, solidarity are real and make claims on us as individuals for the sake of something larger. Just because that something is not pre-determined by some stilted dogma whether rational or theistic doesn't mean there isn't something larger. Perhaps we need to create that something again and again in the process of being a society.

Reason is not as weak as we make it sound. Locke, Hume, Kant, and Rawls all constructed theories of justice built on reason. Game theory is a modern instance. Who would choose to live in a society in which the powerful few could tyrannize over the weak in secret ("special renditions.") A mother's version is, "How would you like it if she did that to you?"

Social contract theory is what Thatcher seems to be denying, the whole tradition of what used to be called "classical liberalism," instead it is just the market plus family values unpinned from public responsibilities. The phrase "ownerhsip society" works the same way. You could say that neoliberals don't believe in public goods. In reality, they choose to ignorne them the better to play up to private interests at the cost of public good and the public interest.

"You could say that neoliberals don't believe in public goods. In reality, they choose to ignorne them the better to play up to private interests at the cost of public good and the public interest."

Hear, hear.

Allow me to dig into the language of this a little. I've been having a dialog online and last Sunday while driving back from the Community Wireless Summit near St. Louis.

Michael introduced this analogy: belief : habit :: knowldege : method, and I have been trying to add another pairing that is analogous in my thinking: faith : truth.

In this taxonomy, believe is suspect in Tutor's statement above. I would say that their (neo-liberals) habit is to think that the government cannot manage public goods and hence the claim that privatizing is the answer.

I would say that they know about public goods and they know about their importance and still they choose to shill for private interests at the expense of those public goods.

The truth is that both the government and private interests have acted against the public interests time and time again, and privatization simply replaces public malfeasance with private exploitation.

Michael doesn't want to give me this last move to truth, and in our conversation talked about Truth being in the future at some conclusion of the search through knowledge in the perfection of method, but I say this is wrongheaded. There is an Abyss between Knowldege and Truth and always will be. Faith is all we have at the end of the day, and faith has nothing to do with the well worn ruts of dogma, it is simply a trusting that we can know the truth if we allow it to come to us.

Faith is a journey. We know instinctively which is the path of heart, and trust that at each step along the path we will not be given a challenge without also being provided the resources to overcome that challenge. Habit, method and faith are levels among those resources. Our throwness from our biology and history that constitutes habit, our reason which is continually searching for new and better methods and ways of knowing, but always in the end we must surrender to the Abyss of Unknowing and have faith in our Creator.

Do I believe in God? No, following Robert Anton Wilson, I say again "I don't believe in anything.", although I cannot deny acting out of habit much of the time.

Do I have knowledge of God? A little, enough to conclude that atheism is just another ism and that rationality is not the limit of method (contrast reason which Tutor refers to).

Do I have the truth? Truth is on the other side of the Abyss (over the horizon of reason). Hiedegger calls the place of encounter between reason and Other as that-which regions (die Gegnet) in his "Discourse on Thinking". This is the destination of meditative thought. I'd say I'm an experienced amature in the practice of meditation. What I have experienced confirms little bits of what is reported by masters of such practices, and so I trust what these masters report and what they say about the truth.

"Throwness" threw me. All of a sudden Heidgger? Still it fits in the conversation. Wasn't Heidegger originally trained as a theologian?

From the public interest you get easily enough to law, regulation, and taxation as ways to create and maintain public goods. The neocons don't want to follow that reasoning, hence we get the ownership society, tax reduction, deregulation and private philanthropy supposedly taking up the slack.

Forced exactions for the public good cause outrage!

Notion of public good is itself suspect, is it not, in neocon reasoning (if one can call it that).

Notion of "good" as well, come to think of it.

Looking it up, perhaps I have taken liberties with its meaning. Apparently the term is also from Hiedegger which I wasn't really sure of when I used it. I take it to mean what we come in with that we have little or nothing to do with personally, sort-of the momentum and direction we have coming into the world. Hiedegger uses it more to say that we find ourselves thrown into a world that we are not at home in, that we are unsettled, anxious.

I recently read "Discourse on Thinking", which I suspect is one of his more accessable writings, which is why I remembered how he talks about the limits of reason and how our thinking is formed there. The references to the Abyss is from more essoteric sources, in particular Aleister Crowley

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