The Democrats: What Happened to Equality?

The Democrats: What Happened to Equality?

Political/Essays

The Democrats: What Happened to Equality?
By Wade Lee Hudson

Books and articles often show me new angles, offer new information, or deepen my perspective. Rarely do they change my thinking in a major way. Elizabeth S. Anderson’s 1999 tour de force “What is the Point of Equality?” is an exception. I’m still absorbing the impact of her passionate manifesto. No wonder colleagues have called that 50-page article “path breaking” and The New Yorker described her as “The Philosopher Redefining Equality.”

Anderson wants to end oppression by creating communities “in which people stand in relations of equality” to one another. Her thinking is rooted in numerous grassroots egalitarian movements, such as the civil rights, womens’, and disability rights movements.

Unfortunately, however, most grassroots political movements today don’t clearly reflect those social values. Rather, they focus on material reality. And, as indicated by what they said at the September 2019 debate, neither have the Democratic candidates for President absorbed her insights.

In the following review, which includes extensive excerpts, I place in bold her language that prompted new insights for me, and place in italics points that strengthened my convictions. 

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As Anderson sees it: 

Recent egalitarian writing has come to be dominated by the view that the fundamental aim of equality is to compensate people for undeserved bad luck—being born with poor native endowments, bad parents, and disagreeable personalities, suffering from accidents and illness, and so forth…. This “equality of fortune” perspective [or “luck egalitarianism”] is essentially a "starting-gate theory": as long as people enjoy fair shares at the start of life, it does not much concern itself with the suffering and subjection generated by people's voluntary agreements in free markets…. 

[Their] writing...seems strangely detached from existing egalitarian political movements…[that have fought for] the freedom to appear in public as who they are, without shame, [and] campaigned against demeaning stereotypes. 

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Building a “Full-Stack Society” with “New Power”

Building a “Full-Stack Society” with “New Power”

Building a “Full-Stack Society” with “New Power”
By Wade Lee Hudson

Process is important. So is product. Advocates for democracy who focus on mobilizing popular power can forget that the tyranny of the majority is a real threat. New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World -- and How to Make It Work for You by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms acknowledges this reality, and offers a solution. …

They make a strong case for dynamics that are “open, participatory, and peer driven.” Yet they also write: ”As we see with ISIS and the growing hordes of white supremacists,... the tools that bring us closer together can also drive us further apart.” Heimans and Timms argue we can avoid this danger by creating “a world in which all major social and economic institutions are designed so that [all] people can more meaningfully shape every aspect of their lives.” 

According to their vision:

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Restructuring Democracy

Restructuring Democracy
By Wade Lee Hudson

A powerful tyranny of the majority might sustain itself over time, but pluralistic democracy requires perpetual reform. No constitution, set of institutions, legislation, or electoral victory can rigidly translate popular views into public policy while at the same time protecting the rule of law and guaranteeing individual rights. Preserving and improving pluralistic democracy requires steadily dissolving selfish power and updating outmoded institutions.

Established political actors tend to isolate themselves from their constituents. They act in their own self-interest and the self-interest of wealthy benefactors. Political institutions are inherently based on power imbalances. Certain individuals play roles that others do not, which gives them greater power. Bureaucracies emerge. Experts and elites rule. Institutions become captured by powerful interests. Constitutions, with their focus on elections, limit how people can have a voice in the shaping of public policy. This dynamic calls for popular action not limited to elections. 

These realities lead some uncompromising populists to argue that democracy is not possible within any institutionalized system. They say democracy is possible only when the disenfranchised rise up, transgress the system, bring down established forms, and exercise power directly, if only temporarily….

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George Lakey and How We Win

George Lakey and How We Win

A review
How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning
George Lakey
Melville House Publishing, 2018, 221 pages

George Lakey and How We Win
By Wade Lee Hudson

George Lakey understands internalized oppression. If anyone would support mutual support for self-improvement, you’d think he would. But his new book, How We Win: A Guide to Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigning, primarily relies on top-down training. 

Though the book presents many valuable recommendations concerning tactical nonviolence, as well as a compelling overview of Lakey’s rich, long history as an activist and nonviolence trainer, it does not propose intentional, open-ended, peer-to-peer support as a way to unlearn negative conditioning and become more fully human. 

How We Win includes some material about personal issues. It affirms the need to “avoid competition” between activist groups and to “establish productive relationships” between activists. …

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Diderot’s Encyclopedia

Diderot’s Encyclopedia

A review
The Encyclopedia
Stephen J. Gendzier
Harper & Row, 1967, 246 pages

Diderot’s Encyclopedia
By Wade Lee Hudson

With forty collaborators, including writers such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Montesquieu, and many more contributors, the 18th Century French polymath Denis Diderot served as principal editor of the Enlightenment’s remarkable The Encyclopedia. Diderot wrote many of the entries himself. Exactly how many is unknown because he didn’t sign much of his work in order to avoid a second prison sentence. He and other co-editors were imprisoned at times for offending the Church and the Monarchy. 

Among other innovative thoughts, the 28-volume series promoted natural human rights, opposed slavery, advanced democracy, and vigorously supported the scientific method. In so doing, they helped lay the groundwork for the French Revolution. …The Encyclopedia inspired the structure of this Systemopedia, which consists of interrelated subjects arranged alphabetically.

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Charles Hartshorne: Neoclassical Metaphysics

Cultural/Polarity/Articles

Charles Hartshorne: Neoclassical Metaphysics
By Donald Wayne Viney
(Excerpts)

In spite of the extreme generality of metaphysical concepts, each such concept entails a polar contrast to it. Even the highly general concept “reality” requires that the concept “unreality” be assigned some meaning. …

For Hartshorne, then, each metaphysical concept has a corresponding contrast: necessity requires contingency, being requires becoming, unity requires variety, and so on, for any concept that is non-restrictively general, having applicability across possible states or state-descriptions. The two interdependent contraries in each case warrant the term dipolarity….

Monopolar theories allow expression of only one pole of a pair of contrasts; stated obversely, they completely deny one pole of a pair of contrasts. …

in his view, a neoclassical process theory of reality is structurally dipolar and offers comprehensive accommodation of both necessity and contingency, both causal determination and a degree of freedom from such determination, both internal and external relations, and so forth, throughout the range of metaphysical polar contrasts….

b. Inclusive Asymmetry/Concrete Inclusion

Hartshorne’s principle of dipolarity is complemented and qualified by a principle of inclusive asymmetry or concrete inclusion. As Hartshorne points out, the principle of dipolarity does not justify metaphysical dualism. One should distinguish between asserting that a metaphysical concept requires a contrary polar conception in its definition, and asserting that two polar concepts have an equivalent metaphysical status. It may well be the case that one concept requires the other polar concept in its definition, while the other polar concept both requires the polar contrast in its definition, and yet is itself the ground or source of that polar contrast. In other words, it may be the case, as Hartshorne asserts, that dipolarity is itself grounded in a logically asymmetrical relation between the contraries….

“p implies q” means that p both implies itself and q…

No comparable argument can show that being can include becoming without destroying the contrast. The concrete or definite, the creatively cumulative, is the inclusive element, and is the key to the abstract, not vice versa. The concrete and the abstract are neither sheer conjuncts as posited by varieties of dualism, nor some mysterious “third” entity, but, in consonance with both Whitehead’s ontological principle and Aristotle’s ontological priority of the actual, is rather, “the abstract in the concrete.”….

contingency in a relevant sense “includes” necessity rather than vice versa….

Once Again, the System Wins and the Democrats Lose

Political/Multi-issue/Articles

Once Again, the System Wins and the Democrats Lose
by Wade Lee Hudson

The Democrrats should have opened the Mueller hearing (months ago) with an expert counsel posing questions for 30 minutes to highlight the key points in Mueller’s report. That could have provided a clear, concise, compelling narrative that would have been devastating to Trump. But no. They chose to give all of their politicians face time on national television (in disjointed five-minute segments) to help them get re-elected. First things first. So the most compelling testimony happened in the last hour of a seven-hour hearing (which dragged on and on, losing most of the audience and the hearing’s impact).

As I discussed in “Democrats, Border Walls, and Social Polarization,” the Democrats acted in a similar manner with regard to the government shutdown over border-wall funding and the Kavanagh hearings. Maneuvering for re-ellection was primary then as well.

The System teaches everyone to climb social ladders and look down on those below and look up to those above. The goal is to boost egos and accumulate status, power, and/or money. Congress is a near-perfect example. Unfortunately, the System has conditioned all of us.

Political Tribalism: “Ideologues without Issues”

Political Tribalism: “Ideologues without Issues”

Political/Tribalism/Articles

Political Tribalism: “Ideologues without Issues”
by Wade Lee Hudson

…angry political tribes are tearing the country apart. Driven by primal passions, they call themselves “liberals” and “conservatives.” But their policy beliefs are secondary. What matters most is tribal victory. 

Americans largely agree on most specific public policies. But highly committed political people are like die-hard sports fans. They’re identify with their team and feel a deep need to crush the “enemy.” Tribal leaders, in their quest for the power to dominate, manipulate followers’ innate instincts. In particular, they promise to protect their tribe from threats by conquering “the other.” 

Political psychologist Lilliana Mason has marshalled considerable evidence in support of these conclusions.

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Rural Resentment and 2020

Rural Resentment and 2020

By Wade Lee Hudson

Hillary Clinton might be President today if she’d read articles Katherine J. Cramer wrote prior to 2016.  A Wisconsin native, Cramer has studied political attitudes in rural Wisconsin since 2007. She’s informally visited with residents, engaged in extensive conversations, and listened closely. What she’s learned is revealing. Now that the University of Chicago Press has published her book, The Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker, Democrats have no excuse if they don’t pay attention to her discoveries in the 2020 elections.

Cramer’s book echoes Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide our Politics (see “Irrational Populism”), which calls for “an overarching theory beyond the idea that all elites and outsiders are bad and the people are good.” In a similar vein, Cramer argues that ordinary people should understand their circumstances “as the product of broad social, economic, and political forces,” rather than the “fault of guilty and less deserving social groups.” She says, “The purpose of this book is...to illuminate how we blame each other.”

[You’re invited to help develop an overarching theory that explains those broad forces by  participating in the Transform the System Dialog.]

According to Cramer, her term “rural consciousness”

signals an identification with rural people and rural places and denotes a multifaceted resentment against cities…. I heard them complaining that government and public employees are the product of anti-rural forces and should obviously be scaled back as much as possible…. It informed their frequently negative perceptions of public employees.

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Irrational Populism

Irrational Populism

Irrational Populism
By Wade Lee Hudson

Intuitions provide insight, but “gut feelings” can lead to irrational dogmatism if they aren’t subjected to scientific logic and deliberative thinking. Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide our Politics concludes that the rising global populist threat calls for “an overarching theory beyond the idea that all elites and outsiders are bad and the people are good.” TransformTheSystem.org offers such a theory. Its aim is to counter scapegoating, demonizing, and counter-productive, misplaced anger.

Our primary problem is not the elite. Our primary problem is not how our economy and government are structured. Those problems are symptoms. Our primary problem is the System---our domination-based social system that weaves together all of our major institutions, our culture, and ourselves as individuals, who reinforce the System with selfish daily actions.

Enchanted America, by J. Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood, documents how “Intuitionists” are gaining ground against “Rationalists.” They write:

The Intuitionist/Rationalist split is not like other political divisions in the United States. Intuitionism poses an threat to democracy. It is neither benign nor temperate. It bristles against open inquiry, is intolerant of opposition, and chafes at the pluralism and compromise modern democracy requires. It is prone to conspiracy theory, drawn to simple generalizations, and quick to vilify the other.

Intuitionists reflect an “absence of conscious purposeful thought [and] rely on their internal feelings.” They just “know” that some things are right. One form of Intuitionism is “magical thinking,” which contradicts ideas “that are validated by testing and observation.”

Rationalists, on the other hand, “utilize abstract theories, philosophical deductions, and observable facts.” They view problems “in a dispassionate manner, seeking pragmatic, technical solutions.”

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A Shallow, Leftist Critique of “The Coddling of the American Mind”

By Wade Lee Hudson

Google’s top result for reviews of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt is Moira Weigel’s scathing criticism published by The Guardian. Numerous well-credentialed pundits lauded the essay for having “eviscerated” and “systematically demolished” the book.

But Weigel’s review illustrates the problem Lukianoff and Haidt document: leftists often violate liberal principles. Many conservatives also violate their own principles. Condescending authoritarianism across the political spectrum sows division.

Until activists stop being so defensive and learn to be more self-critical, they’ll continue to undermine massive popular action. Prospects for establishing compassionate policies supported by super-majorities of the American people will fade.    

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Crime, Scapegoating, and Daily Life

Crime, Scapegoating, and Daily Life

By Wade Lee Hudson

In a New Yorker essay, “Who Belongs in Prison?”, Adam Gopnik comments on several recent books that address key criminal justice issues, including scapegoating and the desire for revenge. Those concerns apply throughout society.

Locked In by John Pfaff argues that prosecutors have been given freedom to imprison whomever they wish for as long as they like without going to trial…. Gopnik reports that Charged by Emily Bazelon "puts flesh and faces to Pfaff’s statistical and largely abstract proposition." …Revenge is an issue Gopnik examines in some detail.

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The Autocracy App

The Autocracy App
By Jacob Weisberg OCTOBER 25, 2018 ISSUE
The New York Review of Books

A review of:

  • Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy
    by Siva Vaidhyanathan

  • Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
    by Jaron Lanier

...A professor of media studies at the University of Virginia, Vaidhyanathan is a disciple of Neil Postman, the author of Amusing Ourselves to Death. In that prescient pre-Internet tract, Postman wrote that Aldous Huxley, not Orwell, portrayed the dystopia most relevant to our age. The dangers modern societies face, Postman contends, are less censorship or repression than distraction and diversion, the replacement of civic engagement by perpetual entertainment.

Vaidhyanathan sees Facebook, a “pleasure machine” in which politics and entertainment merge, as the culmination of Postman’s Huxleyan nightmare. However, the pleasure that comes from absorption in social media is more complicated than the kind that television delivers. It encourages people to associate with those who share their views, creating filter bubbles and self-reinforcing feedback loops. Vaidhyanathan argues that by training its users to elevate feelings of agreement and belonging over truth, Facebook has created a gigantic “forum for tribalism.”

+++

...What would the world look like if Facebook succeeded in becoming the Operating System of Our Lives? That status has arguably been achieved only by Tencent in China. Tencent runs WeChat, which combines aspects of Facebook, Messenger, Google, Twitter, and Instagram. People use its payment system to make purchases from vending machines, shop online, bank, and schedule appointments. Tencent also connects to the Chinese government’s Social Credit System, which gives users a score, based on data mining and surveillance of their online and offline activity. You gain points for obeying the law and lose them for such behavior as traffic violations or “spreading rumors online.”

Full implementation is not expected till 2020, but the system is already being used to mete out punishments to people with low scores. These include preventing them from traveling, restricting them from certain jobs, and barring their children from attending private schools. In the West online surveillance is theoretically voluntary, the price we pay for enjoying the pleasure machine—a privatized 1984 by means of Brave New World.

The Declaration: Criticisms

Following are criticisms about drafts of Americans for Humanity: A Declaration that were expressed during the drafting and my replies (in italics):

  • Thank you for your work on this vision. It’s not that I don’t share much of what this document states however it does not mention the reality of the giant squid stranglehold racial/economic/social institutions have on humanity’s conscious and unconscious actions. The only way to move from the everyday to day here and to arrive there [your vision] is by facing what keeps us apart, recognizing and understanding our privileges, listening to those with less, ... ack I don’t have time for this now. We have to do the work of disengaging from either/or divisive thinking/living/being and to begin to recognize our common humanity. I like to think of us as humans being with all life. Human chauvinism is another way to distance from the spark of balance with all living things.

    • I appreciate the kind words and agree the Declaration does not explicitly talk about the giant squid, which I call "the System" and have written about extensively. It's hard to really address those issues briefly without using vague abstractions and I wanted the Declaration to be brief and concrete. My plan has been to do talk about the System with supplemental materials that folks could read after they get involved -- such as "An Argument for 'Americans for Humanity,'" which is being written. Your comments on it would be most appreciated.

    • However, though the Declaration is brief, with it I do try to get at what I see as the heart of the System, with elements such as:

      • affirms individuals’ multiple identities

      • opposes efforts to dominate others due to one of their identities

      • relies on love and trust rather than hate and fear

      • encourages members of the movement to:

        • improve their emotional reactions

        • engage in honest self-examination

        • support each other with their personal and spiritual growth

        • avoid oppressive or disrespectful behavior

    • If we tell people they must deal with A, B, and C problems, they react defensively and their problems are reinforced. This declaration is based on the proposition that it will work better to clarify a positive vision, and leave it to individuals to determine how they fall short and which problems to work on. Encouraging people to engage in honest self-examination would be a great and essential first step, it seems, In  An Argument for 'Americans for Humanity," I have a long list of personal issues, introduced by "Not everyone is afflicted with all of these personal problems, but most of us are burdened with many: " followed by " A popular movement committed to addressing these issues could bolster its power."  Your comments prompted me to add some items to that list, for which I thank you.

    • Your further thoughts would be most appreciated.

  • I have been relatively silent because I view the campaign as "apple pie and mother's love."  

Who could be opposed ? ... (practically) no one ... and, so what !  

Who would agree ? ... (practically) every one ... and, so what !

The result of agreement is that nothing happens ... or needs to happen ... and, so what?  

Agreement should mean tacit consent to be a part of fighting for ... or against something where change is called for.  

All change seems to require struggle ... but in the pledge for universal humanity, there is no hint or expectation of struggle.   

One additional observation and concern is the title:  "Americans for Humanity"

America is a continent made up of dozens of sovereign countries.  For the U.S., or U.S. activist to lay claim to the entirety of America is the height of arrogance, selfishness, belligerence, hypocrisy, and the put down of all other peoples and countries of the Americas.

Perhaps a more respectful title might be "U.S. People for Humanity," or, simply "People for Humanity," or, alternatively, "The Pledge (or Mission) for Universal Humanity"

    • I don’t know that practically everyone agrees. I’m not aware, for example, of an activist organization that “encourages members of the movement to:

improve their emotional reactions

engage in honest self-examination

support each other with their personal and spiritual growth

avoid oppressive or disrespectful behavior

supports members who want to form small teams that share meals, strengthen connections, provide mutual support, and plan other activities”

    • Are you? If so, which one or ones do?

    • As for “struggle,” it seems to me that these points explicitly affirm struggle:

the growth of a popular movement

pressures Washington to implement policies supported by strong majorities of the American people

engages in nonviolent civil disobedience and consumer boycotts when needed

    • Concerning the use of “Americans,” when I lived in Mexico for extended periods I noticed that Mexicans routinely referred to USA residents as “Americans.” I never once heard them refer to North and South America as “America,” which is technically correct. Though some activists have made your point, it seems paternalistic for us to allegedly protect people from language they accept.

    • Also, I see the need for a “superordinate” identify that could unite USA residents and help us I’m sorry to hear about those family/personal issues. Hang in there! Hope to be in touch later.overcome our tribal divisions. I think a healthy patriotism is possible -- in every country -- so that strong nation-states can better control unbridled global corporations and financial institutions. As the declaration states, we can “honor our nation’s gains, criticize its failures, and help build a more perfect union.” We need a word or phrase that can refer to “the inhabitants of the USA.” Always using that long phrase, or “US people” does not seem feasible, especially in the title.

    • NOTES: In “Arguments for ‘Americans for Humanity: A Declaration,” I wrote:

      • Most countries identify themselves and their residents with one word. The United States of America, however, has four words. So most people throughout the world refer to us as “Americans.” No disrespect toward those who live in other North and South American countries is intended by the use of that word here. By strengthening a deep sense of ourselves as both Americans and human beings, we can help overcome divisions that undermine the unity that is needed for effective, sustained, nationwide political action.

  • I have one question/flag... what do you mean by Americans? do you mean the people of the United States? I know self identified Americans who are not from the United States namely Central and South Americans. I’ve always felt it arrogant for people in the USA to use America as a shorthand for United States as if they one and the same. Was there ever a discussion about this? I’m sorry I don’t have the time to get involved with the work you and others are doing and that I barge right in with this question....

    • I sent this respondent a reply that included much of the content included in the previous reply, as well as:

      • Most countries identify themselves and their residents with one word. The United States of America, however, has four words. So most people throughout the world refer to its inhabitants as “Americans,” though technically the primary definition of “America” includes North and South America. Some people argue it’s disrespectful for USA residents to identify themselves as “Americans.” No such disrespect is intended here….

      • Fundamentalists regularly inflate the importance of particular words. They turn them into icons. It's also possible to turn them into anti-icons. Anyway, that's my take. I'd be interested in your further thoughts, and will include your comment in the Log.

  • I have one question or concern, and that is the title "Americans for Humanity." I am concerned that it sounds kind of "patriotic,"  or nationalistic, I may be overly concerned about that, but using the term "Americans" for some people connotes "white Americans" or seems to exclude immigrants who are not American citizens yet. So I am not suggesting that you change the title at this point, just mentioning this as something that may possibly put some people off. Thanks for putting this together, it is an ambitious project and I really support it.

Your concerns are valid. However, I do affirm a healthy, self-critical patriotism. It seems strong nation-states are an important counter to the ravages of uncontrolled global capitalism. So I added “As an inhabitant of the United States of America,” and “Honor America’s achievements, criticize its failures, and help realize its ideals.”


The Declaration: Reservations

Following are reservations about drafts of Americans for Humanity: A Declaration that were expressed during the drafting and my replies (in italics):

  • Not sure how people will respond about connecting up around this since we all are so inundated with coalition building right now -- Indivisible, state orgs, working with other organizations around climate, immigration, etc.  This seems a bit on top of and a bit more amorphous for groups out in the field to sign on to. But doesn't mean there might not be a good response and some great ideas of where to go. Keep me posted. Penn Please note that my new address is penngarvin@gmail.com.  I don't always get the Hotmail emails so please change so I keep getting yours. Hope all is well,

  • Almost all of the response I've received has been positive, but I agree that most activists will not take it on -- though, as I see it, doing so would not require much additional time. Rather, it would merely require a shift in perspective -- away from a narrow focus on immediate impact toward one that includes a deeper, clear commitment to underlying values and principles that are commonly neglected.  In particular, I know no membership organization that explicitly, in writing, encourages their members to examine and improve their emotional reactions and provide mutual support for self-development. Are you?

    • We need one or more massive, united, democratic, multi-issue national movements that overcome our fragmentation and stay together over time. To achieve that goal, activists need to overcome their egoistic, competitive, power trips and their strident rhetoric that demonizes opponents. A clear commitment to an alternative way of operating could help that effort. The Declaration aims to nurture that kind of commitment. If Donald Trump and climate change can't elicit a unified movement -- other than Presidential campaigns -- it seems the odds for compassionate unity are slim. Nevertheless, I persist, with support from people like you.

  • However, just seeing the document itself would not be sufficient for me to have confidence that the organization truly lives by these ideals.  I would be worried that the references to identity might be used as a springboard to turn the words into a meaning I don't support - a single-issue politics with nonviolent civil disobedience that focuses on blaming others, often lower on the social ladder, for exhibiting "personal privilege" in the guise of engaging in honest self-examination - because that is a central feature of our current disarray.

I support and am working for deeper change that I think most also agree on and that involves a different framing: slowing down the pace of life, working across borders to shorten the work week and make more time for non-materialistic pursuits.  I have seen the focus on "identity" too often used to "fight for equality at the top", and I have seen that "enlightened struggle" used to effectively co-opt what I would otherwise have felt must be a universal sentiment for the good and the right.

Thanks!  I am glad you are still in touch

    • I hear you. Thanks much for keeping in touch.

  • I would, however, encourage you to make explicit two objectives that, from my own point of view and that of many others, are fundamental to the survival of the world and hence to the realization of all the other objectives. They are, as you might imagine, a green revolution dedicated to the containment of global warming and preservation of the natural environment, and an end to war and militarism, beginning with a verifiable international program for total and irrevocable nuclear disarmament and aimed ultimately at complete general disarmament. With the weapons gone, the only way to end international conflicts will be what it always should have been: vigorous diplomacy and reasoned compromise. Continued best wishes,

    • I agree with you, but my basic intent was to focus on fundamental principles in one page and avoid another long “laundry list,” which would dilute that focus. Other specific policies are also priorities….

  • in my writings I try to use the concept of the polarity (barry johnson) and write something like: we need A AND B - but neither A- (the exaggeration of A) and B- (the exaggeration of B) thereby i hope to make visible that I do not rely on the either or logic and see the problems of the exaggerations of the different polarities

    • I very much agree. Though I did not use “and” I added the “polarity” as the next bullet point.

The Declaration: Suggested Changes

Following are changes to drafts of Americans for Humanity: A Declaration that were suggested and my replies (in italics):

  • I do have trouble with the "tyranny of the majority" line. I know what you mean and agree with your intent but this is also a right wing Trumpian phrase used to justify voter suppression. Too easily misunderstood.

    • I deleted that phrase.

  • I could sign it if it were edited to qualify the language in the item that references pressuring the government to implement policies supported by “strong majorities” so that we are *explicitly* here talking about “dignity-based,” “humanity-based” or otherwise valued-aligned policies backed by strong majorities. As you know, majorities are sometimes part of the problem in a democratic society (as regards unpopular or vulnerable minorities).

    • Good point about majorities. Previously I’ve qualified the idea with “compassionate,” but overlooked the issue this time. Does that work? That word is used elsewhere only once, so using it here would not be too redundant. It would read: “pressures Washington to implement compassionate policies supported by strong majorities of the American people.”

  • I would be happy to sign it, but would strongly encourage that we include something like commit to living in a world where  the US ends all the wars and threats of wars the US is involved in around the world and sign and agrees to the abide by the international treaty to abolish all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, and agree to commit to solving all disputes by mediation, negotiation and justice for all parties in all conflicts.

    • [NOTE: This comment led to a series of exchanges. Eventually I added to the Declaration: “encourages supportive relationships with other countries, backs their right to self-determination, promotes human rights, and advocates peaceful resolution of conflicts with mediation and negotiation”

  • Thank you for circulating your positive suggestions. Most of them resonate with me. I have offered a few edits and comments below — I hope constructive — in the spirit of acquiring broader support for your agenda.

  • Examine myself honestly and improve my emotional reactions, such as channelling anger more productively.

  • Welcome support from others. [I would add this one as the beginning of the statement below that starts with “Encourage the growth of a popular movement…]

  • Affirm personal identities based on characteristics such as race and gender. [I see this statement as contradicting other statements such as “respect the essential equality of all human beings,” “human family,”etc.]

  • Oppose efforts to dominate others due to their ascribed or chosen identities.

  • Channel anger productively.

  • Honor America’s achievements, criticize its failures, and help realize its ideals. [Why America here but US in the next?]

Thanks much. Very helpful. I thought long and hard about your comment on personal identities. I decided the wording was wrong. It suggested the affirmation of identities based only or primarily on a specific characteristic, which is problematic. As I discuss in “Multiple Identities, Politics, Freedom, and Equality,” I think that exclusive approach is wrong. So the declaration now reads:

  • encourages everyone to identify as a member of the human family

  • affirms individuals’ multiple identities

  • opposes efforts to dominate others due to one of their identities

Please let me know if you have a problem with that. Concerning your first point, I prefer short bullet points. I use both the U.S. and America partly to avoid repetition and partly because I prefer to use the U.S. whenever that works, for “America” can refer to more than the U.S. Thanks again!

Thanks, good compromise. I will look up the piece you wrote.

  • All noble goals....except that "big money out of politics."  So, where does "big" begin? Who decides...a rich man or poor man?    And should we cap the amount a candidate can spend...or any third-parties which would support their candidacy?  It makes for a great bumper sticker...but upon closer examination is more like the beautiful golf drive is really, REALLY long....and looks really good...until it turns and lands in the top of a yucca plant. To be a noble goal, it cannot be illegal or immoral.  :-) PS Best wishes for the new year and keep up the good work.

Good points. My basic  intent was to articulate fundamental principles in one page and avoid another “laundry list.” So your comments led me to delete “get big money out of politics.”

  • I like it overall. I would have difficulty forming small teams just now. Maybe that could be a question at the end rather than a signed pledge.

    • I modified it to clarify that small groups would be an option.

The Declaration: Praise

The following words of praise have been offered for drafts and the final version of Americans for Humanity: A Declaration:

  • Thanks for sending this and doing this work.  I definitely sign on to this. I am working with my folks here about self care of the movement so I will send this on to some of those I work with and I will use this in the presentations and work I am doing here.  Thanks!

  • Wow!  They have left no stone unturned.  Impressive work! 

  • Thank you for sending this to me.  I love the work you do. 

  • A culmination of some hard work. Great job.

  • This is great!

  • I think this is amazing. It should be turned into a sticker or postcard people can use.

  • Thanks for continuing to work on this. This is exactly the kind of document that would be affixed to the wall of a meeting or community room for an organization I'd actually be inspired to join.

  • A great document to which I'd be honored to sign on. It seems like an aspirational statement, though, so I imagine that even some signers wouldn't necessarily uphold all of it (e.g., "Examine myself honestly").

  • I don't agree with every word but every word isn't important to me.  We're kindred spirits who desire to live our lives in accord with life-affirming principles like these.  I understand that you want to organize people around peace and love and fairness in this declaration. I'm grateful to know you and be in a circle of people that values these principles.   I support you and would sign this statement without change. If and when the opportunity presents itself, I would like to present a national political action plan to an appropriate group of signatories.

  • These are of course wonderful aspirations for a sane world! I am glad to sign, but can’t do anything else.

  • Your commitment and tenacity to the goals of universal humanity are unassailable, deeply respected, and greatly admired.  

  • Maybe missing more on the link between the way we treat the environment and each other, but it's a good start! And I would sign it. Thanks for pursuing this project.

  • Based on our experiences, we do not see even one statement or quality that we would critique.So we bless you and your deeply-felt initiative to keep infusing this language and these kinds of conversations into our neighborhoods and evolving culture.

  • I respect the tremendous work you’ve done and are doing.

  • Sounds and looks good!

  • At a first glance this sounds left, But if you look closer it is not…. A lot like how I see integral politics... Ken Wilber. Keep up the good work of a prophet

  • I do have trouble with [one line].... Rest is excellent.

  • This is quite good. I'm ready to sign it.

  • This declaration is a very strong presentation of the objectives you envision for a caring community, and I would gladly sign it just as it is, even though I would not become an active member.

  • Looks good to me.  

  • I appreciate your commitment and engagement in seeking a better world. Seems a reasonable statement, but as I’ve mentioned previously I’m already engaged in so many such conversations, I’ve not the time or energy to be involved in starting or framing a new one....

  • Sounds good.

  • This pledge is coming together well.  Once complete, I can and will be using it to create an artistic rendering and will frame it. And share it. And present it to you. Not in any way to benefit myself but to enhance your achievement. I have so enjoyed watching and reading your process throughout these years.

  • Thank you for sending this to me. I love the work you do.

  • Yes, I would sign. Comprehensive! Thanks

  • I really love what you have written, I think it is great!

  • Yes! Looks great, nicely done.

The Declaration: Signers

The following individuals have signed Americans for Humanity: A Declaration:

Ben Ament
Bob Anschuetz
Asoka Bandarage
Scott Beckman
Jonathan Betz-Zall
Dan Brook
John Cloud
Norman Degelman
Micky Duxbury
Penn Garvin
Stephen Gerritson
Carolyn Reuben Green
Roma Guy
David Hartsough
Glenda Hope
Wade Hudson
Mary Hudson
Ingrid Kepler-May
Alan Levin
Katherine Sofos Looper
Shyrl McCormick
Robert Morgan
Daniel Nissenbaum
Bernhard Possert
Jakob Possert
Steven Lee Shults
Anonymous
Anonymous

28

Irrational Politics

Irrational Politics

Human beings join tribes. This instinct is biological. Tribes assume moral superiority over and seek to dominate other tribes. Winning is primary. The price of victory is secondary. These battles produce strong emotions that distort reality.

When tribes join with other tribes into super-tribes, a threat to one tribe is a threat to every tribe. Life becomes more dangerous and irrational. Republicans and Democrats are super-tribes. They focus on winning the next election.

The development of these electoral super-tribes has undermined the ability of legislators to compromise, which is the heart of democracy. Legislators must compromise to address difficult problems, but increased polarization has made it more difficult. Tribalism is pulling the country ever deeper into a downward spiral of bitter gridlock.

Compromise is not always timely. Militant activism can help bring attention to pressing issues and build pressure for stronger improvements. But outside the electoral arena, on the left and the right, doctrinaire, victory-centric tribes have also formed super-tribes. They demonize opponents, resist all compromise, and disregard the consequences of their actions. The result is profound fragmentation.

The time has come for everyone to step back and engage in critical self-evaluation. Learning to overcome arrogant, hyper-competitive, domineering tribalism is essential in order to unite and transform this nation into a compassionate community.

Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity by Lilliana Mason analyzes Republicans and Democrats. Her book applies to other tribes as well.

Mason argues:

A single vote can now indicate a person’s partisan preference as well as his or her religion, race, ethnicity, gender, neighborhood, and favorite grocery store. This is no longer a single social identity. Partisanship can now be thought of as a mega-identity.

Mason calls this dynamic “social polarization.” The convergence of multiple identities into one mega-identity leads to greater stereotyping, prejudice, and emotional volatility -- and makes us “increasingly blind to our commonalities.”

Read More

Americans for Humanity: A Declaration

Signers will be invited to discuss possible next steps. With support and assistance from numerous associates, Wade Hudson served as principal author of this declaration. To see the signers, click here.

Americans for Humanity: A Declaration

I/we support the growth of a popular movement that:

  • serves humanity, the environment, and life itself

  • respects the essential equality of all human beings

  • encourages everyone to identify as a member of the human family

  • affirms individuals’ multiple identities

  • opposes efforts to dominate others due to one of their identities

  • relies on love and trust rather than hate and fear

  • channels anger productively

  • attracts people with face-to-face community and caring friendships

  • honors our nation’s accomplishments, criticizes its failures, and helps build a more perfect union

  • fully represents and gives voice to the American people

  • helps transform the United States into a compassionate community that:

    • supports the rule of law, individual rights, and the freedom to engage in activities that do not deny freedom to others

    • encourages people to relate to others as individuals of equal worth

    • promotes partnerships that empower people

    • nurtures democracy throughout society

    • meets basic human needs

    • assures good living-wage job opportunities

    • protects free speech

    • makes it easy to vote

    • enables everyone to participate in society fully and productively

    • encourages supportive relationships with other countries, backs their right to self-determination, promotes human rights, and advocates peaceful resolution of conflicts with mediation and negotiation

  • pressures Washington to implement compassionate policies supported by strong majorities of the American people

  • engages in nonviolent civil disobedience and consumer boycotts when needed

  • encourages members of the movement to:

    • improve their emotional reactions

    • engage in honest self-examination

    • support each other with their personal and spiritual growth

    • avoid oppressive or disrespectful behavior

  • supports members who want to form small teams that share meals, strengthen connections, provide mutual support, and plan other activities

  • cooperates with movements in other countries that also serve humanity, the environment, and life itself.

To sign, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JF5DHPR.

Related:
An Argument for the Declaration
Irrational Politics
Report on "Question: How Activists Operate"
Comment on "Question: How Activists Operate"