The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

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  1. I find much to disagree with in this, but to touch on only one point, he writes , “Even now we still must learn from the artist if we want to understand the powerful remnants of serfdom in peasant life, particularly in family relations, which often spill over into city life…”

    Much of the rest of the essay deals with the need to improve technology, eschew religion in favor of rational thought etc., all as a means to helping the peasants free themselves from economic bondage, but then he rhapsodizes about an artist’s understanding of peasant life rather than an objective scientific study of how they live and why they cling to their old ways rather than developing the enriched psyche needed for communism. He said himself that art is “a grouping of images and, at the same time … a means of inspiring certain feelings and moods,” i.e. subjective impressions, not objective reality. Why should one respect the opinion of someone who admits he prefers an artist’s rendition of peasant life to the reality, especially an artist who, even when he’s being a “realist”, was “thoroughly utopian”? Why should one think he actually understands basic human motivations that he, himself, doesn’t share?

    I’ve noticed this in many socialist writings, the tendancy to idealize people with little to no regard for the reality of human experience. If they ever said, “We know it will take generations, but we’ll slowly introduce socialism while we teach children not to be superstitious, to despise dishonest trade and to understand that lying and deceiving is not just a personal flaw, but a function of the social order,” then that would be a rational approach. Instead he says, about the sheer number of books in the Leningrad library, “Our first sensation is a legitimate feeling of Soviet pride: our library is the first in the world! To what do we owe this achievement? To the fact that we expropriated private libraries. By nationalizing private property we have created the richest cultural institution, which is accessible to all. This simple fact indisputably illustrates the great advantages of the Soviet structure.”, even though, as he says in the very next sentence, the library is all but useless because the majority of the population can’t read. How could rational people regard such a useless project as a cause for pride, unless they felt the flexing of the national muscle was more important than the result of that show of strength?

    Basically, I’ve always felt the motivations of socialism as both an intellectual and political movement come across as wishful thinking, irrational and selfish, and this essay hasn’t really changed that.

  2. corwin

    L. Raymond: Thanks for taking the time to read and think about the essay. A couple of points:
    ‘Why should one respect the opinion of someone who admits he prefers an artist’s rendition of peasant life to the reality, especially an artist who, even when he’s being a “realist”, was “thoroughly utopian”?’

    I’m having trouble figuring out how you came to the conclusions he “prefers” the artist’s rendition, rather than seeing value in it. But more significantly, you speak of, “the enriched psyche needed for communism” as if this can be magically created out of whole cloth; but an understanding of people as they are is vital to that, and that is one thing we can get from art. Neither Trotsky nor I would claim it to be “the main thing,” any more than the primary value of the Mona Lisa is the in the insight it gives us into women’s fashion in 16th Century Italy; but that is something we can take from it.

    Would it reasonable to propose raising the cultural level of, let us say, certain groups of Mexican immigrants without having some understanding of their culture, traditions, values, and needs? That would lead to the worst form of dogmatism. If you concede the value in gaining such understanding, why scorn the work of the good, insightful novelist? For an obvious example, consider the insights into the culture of sections of the American South you (consciously or unconsciously) got from reading Huckleberry Finn.

    But it is even more interesting that you say, “How could rational people regard such a useless project as a cause for pride…”

    You point out exactly the contradiction Trotsky does, but instead of seeing, as Trotsky did, it as a challenge to be overcome, you see it as a “useless project.” As if a mass of people who are, at one historical moment, largely illiterate, must remain that way forever! His exact point was the need to overcome that illiteracy. And, in spite of the depredations of Stalinism, that is exactly what happened. Even today, after the capitalist restoration, Russia remains an extremely literate country, and (for the moment) the wealth of knowledge from those books is still, as it should be, in the hands of the people. Where is your problem with this?

    Thanks again for the opportunity to discuss this; I enjoy having my brain challenged.

  3. But more significantly, you speak of, “the enriched psyche needed for communism” as if this can be magically created out of whole cloth; but an understanding of people as they are is vital to that, and that is one thing we can get from art.

    It was Totsky who refered to the need for an enriched psyche (Section II, paragraph 12). The reason I referred back to it was because he seemed to be shocked that merely confiscating 4.2 million books failed to magically convey culture and literacy to the people. I agree that one can’t expect people to wake up one day, miraculously well-read with a better understanding of the world.

    Would it reasonable to propose raising the cultural level of, let us say, certain groups of Mexican immigrants without having some understanding of their culture, traditions, values, and needs?

    I think that is a totally different topic. Immigrants have left their old homes in order to establish homes in a new land, so yes, in that case I think it would be reasonable to introduce them to the culture of their new homes without reference to their old, which is totally different, of course, from going to Mexico and trying to foist a new culture on those who haven’t left.

    That would lead to the worst form of dogmatism. If you concede the value in gaining such understanding, why scorn the work of the good, insightful novelist? For an obvious example, consider the insights into the culture of sections of the American South you (consciously or unconsciously) got from reading Huckleberry Finn.

    I think this, too, is a tangent. My complaint was the apparent pride taken in siezing private property simply because the government could, whether or not it had a public use at the time, of which the library was merely the example. Discussing the “Cool Stuff Theory of Literature”, if I may borrow your phrase, could lead to countless political digressions, but I don’t see how it would relate to nationalizing books just because it can be done.

    You point out exactly the contradiction Trotsky does, but instead of seeing, as Trotsky did, it as a challenge to be overcome, you see it as a “useless project.”

    I don’t see it as a contradiction. When studies are published demonstrating that more Americans than ever before are reading thanks to the internet, but it is also shown that we are dealing with a higher level of functional illiteracy, that’s a contradition. But to confiscate millions of books and tell everyone they need to read them while the people themselves can’t due to illiteracy isn’t contradictary, it’s not accepting responsibilty for failing to plan ahead by blaming the intended recipients of the supposed good deed. A “rich cultural institution” isn’t formed by tossing a lot of paintings, statuary or books into a building and announcing it to be cultural. The items have to be used, discussed and read, their meanings appreciated, understood and passed on. To simply call a collection of useless books – useless because they’re unusable by the people who supposedly own them – a masterpiece of Soviet cultural planning is identical with my declaring myself a master mechanic because I have a garage full of tools that could be used to build a car, if only I knew how.

    As if a mass of people who are, at one historical moment, largely illiterate, must remain that way forever! His exact point was the need to overcome that illiteracy.

    I didn’t take that as his exact point. Rather, it seemed to me he placed primary emphasis on the fact the state could take what it wanted as a show of the people’s power, which was followed by the realization the people couldn’t use it.

    And, in spite of the depredations of Stalinism, that is exactly what happened. Even today, after the capitalist restoration, Russia remains an extremely literate country, and (for the moment) the wealth of knowledge from those books is still, as it should be, in the hands of the people. Where is your problem with this?

    In general, I don’t believe the end justifies the means. Knowing how good our own public library system is, whether it’s the library on the corner or the local university campus, I see no special cause for pride in merely having confiscated a certain number of books. And that’s the main point I meant to address. Not specifcally the taking of books for public use, but crowing about the fact of nationalizing something whether or not it served a purpose.

  4. Man… that stuff is hard to wrap my head around.

    It seems like he’s saying in parts of it that technology is what drives culture, but he considers culture to be a tool of class oppression? But you can’t free the classes from that oppression without technology?

    He doesn’t seem to go into that idea very much, more like states them as fact. But how does he think that works? Is it a critical mass idea? Where at some point the repressed classes gain enough technology to equalize or perhaps overthrow the oppressor? Later he talks about railroads and it reads more like it just sorta happens as time progresses?

    Like as the technology becomes more commonplace the ruling class doesn’t care as much if the lower classes start using it?

    It kinda does my head in a bit. That form of thought is a bit foreign to me I fear.

    If technology drives culture and culture is what drives class oppression… then technology is both a prison and the key to freedom?

    I don’t know if I can agree to that. I’ve always considered technology a progressive force not an oppressive one.

    I fear though, that I’m being too literal. I tend towards being obscenely literal. It used to drive my philosophy professors up the wall.

  5. corwin

    L. Raymond @ 3: I agree that one can’t expect people to wake up one day, miraculously well-read with a better understanding of the world.

    Check. And without the resources, the effort is meaningless. I did not at all have the impression he “seemed shocked,” but that’s harder to quantify.

    it’s not accepting responsibilty for failing to plan ahead by blaming the intended recipients of the supposed good deed

    Now this one is genuinely surprising. The only “blame” that appears is on the nature of the development of economic and social conditions in pre-revolutionary Russia. But the real shocker here is where you talk of failing to “plan ahead.” Now that one really is amazing to me. The revolutionists, who are in the business of overthrowing capitalism, are to make sure that the capitalists have brought the oppressed to a sufficiently high cultural level before making the revolution? And exactly how are they to convince the capitalists to perform this miracle?

    Or perhaps I’m missing your point; perhaps your argument is that they ought to have waited until everything was perfect before making the revolution. But, if so, this demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of social processes. Revolutionary opportunities can be seized, or they can be missed; they cannot be created. And never in history has a missed revolutionary opportunity resulted in anything but catastrophe for the revolutionary class that missed its window. For a particularly sharp example, look at what happened in Germany when the revolutionary opportunity in 1923 was missed; but history supplies countless other examples.

    Or perhaps I’m still missing your point; if so, please try again.

    Rather, it seemed to me he placed primary emphasis on the fact the state could take what it wanted as a show of the people’s power, which was followed by the realization the people couldn’t use it.And that’s the main point I meant to address. Not specifcally the taking of books for public use, but crowing about the fact of nationalizing something whether or not it served a purpose.

    Well, it clearly served a purpose: it provided the means for the availability of knowledge to the public that wasn’t there before, and this knowledge was used. And, as I’ve shown, that knowledge was then put to good use when the literacy level was raised (a quite remarkable achievement, by the way, in a country that size and that backward). So the argument that it is useless doesn’t hold water. It could certainly be argued that a public library system such as the advanced capitalist countries have would have prevented the need for such seizures; what remains then is to go back in time and convince the Czar to institute such a system before 1917.

  6. corwin

    GWW:

    Yes, and, moreover, without assimilating the culture the past has given us. He is arguing against a tendency without the Communist Party in the late 20’s to simply reject all bourgeois culture as useless–to somehow “replace” it without understanding it and assimilating it first.

    If technology drives culture and culture is what drives class oppression… then technology is both a prison and the key to freedom?

    The first half of this is a bit simple; culture is only one of the things that drives class oppression. But the second half, “technology is both a prison and the key to freedom” is about as well as I’ve ever heard that expressed; well done.

    I believe technology IS a progressive force; but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Along with technology come all sorts of social and economic factors. At certain historical periods, these factors can be, as you put it, a prison. The answer is not to turn against the technology, but to change the social and economic conditions–and it is exactly technology that provides the means for this.

  7. “He is arguing against a tendency without the Communist Party in the late 20’s to simply reject all bourgeois culture as useless–to somehow “replace” it without understanding it and assimilating it first.”

    But that wouldn’t work. You’d constantly be starting over. You can’t really progress if you dismiss everything a culture has done just because you think the final product, so to speak, is bad.

    That would sorta be like knocking down a building just because it’s owned by a slum lord. There may be nothing wrong with the land it’s built on, or the people living in the building, or even with the building itself… but because you think the slum lord is bad you should just knock it all down and start over?

    That seems really destructive. You can’t form a society and expect it to thrive with that mentality.

    I guess there’s a difference between “replacing” and starting fresh… but that’s a damn fine line to walk on when dealing with people.

    “The answer is not to turn against the technology, but to change the social and economic conditions–and it is exactly technology that provides the means for this.”

    I like that wording. A lot. I’ve always considered myself a bit of a humanist and that on some level we should use technology to bridge the sociological and cultural differences people have to eliminate the basic differences while maintaining the flavour which keeps us different.

    Idealistic I know. Heh.

  8. corwin

    GWW: “But that wouldn’t work. You’d constantly be starting over. You can’t really progress if you dismiss everything a culture has done just because you think the final product, so to speak, is bad.”

    You win the gold star (or maybe the red star, I dunno).

  9. Seems weird they tried it to me. I mean, I know it was in the 20’s… but it doesn’t take a genius to spot the flaws of that line of thinking. Geeze.

    Thanks for the back and forth though, I’ve never really studied any of these things so most of the concepts are… fresh to me.

  10. corwin

    It’s only obvious if put in those terms, though. Look the history of punk rock: “Let’s reject everything that came before.” A reasonable, and to a degree sometimes necessary attitude for an artist doing something new. But the best of them (Sting, for example), then went back and pulled what was best out of went before.

  11. But just because something works in a specific field, like art or music… doesn’t mean someone should try to apply that to society.

    The price of failure on making crappy music or a shoddy painting is less long lasting and catostrophic than scrubbing a whole culture.

    I do get where you’re going with the analogy though. Literal minded or not. Just struck me as a dangerous thought.

    We’ve had another 80 years of progress since that was written so I guess it’s impossible for me to really understand the thought processes behind it all without a lot of study on the subject.

    I still enjoyed reading it. Though, to be honest, it wasn’t an easy read. I had to actually switch off the radio, which I usually leave running while reading.

    Trotsky has a very unusual writing style I reckon. I don’t recall reading much of his work in college, I think I would. I tended to shy away from political philosophy, enjoying the more ethical or metaphysical branches.

    Anyway… thanks again! Made the day at the office fly by.

  12. Or perhaps I’m still missing your point; if so, please try again.

    You’re talking about results, and I was commenting on the apparent motives, not only as shown in this essay, but in other Marxist writings I’ve read. I would never dream of seriously commenting on concrete effects on literacy because I don’t have the data to do so.

    Like I said at first, “I’ve always felt the motivations of socialism as both an intellectual and political movement come across as wishful thinking, irrational and selfish, and this essay hasn’t really changed that.” When looking at the history of Marxism, it is amazing how many groups form, splinter, reform, turn on each other and otherwise seemingly spend more time on infighting than implementing their ideas. I believe one reason for this is that socialism is inherently selfish, but unlike modern capitalists who admit upfront they’re selfish, socialists try to insist they’re only thinking of the greater good, as they see it, but when thwarted they feel it’s more important to find yes men who agree with them on every particular than to compromise and just get to work.

    In the essay you to which you linked, the reason I picked on the specific example I did was because even though at the time the library was all but useless, he was crowing about the fact it was such a great symbol of the power of the state to sieze private property, i.e. exercising power because it can. I’ve read many other articles by scores of people spanning decades which demonstrate this same thing, bragging about a show of force or industrial strength that hasn’t accomplished anything but shows the power of the state or even the local group responsible, and, of course, being surprised that people just don’t agree that what the socialists want to do is for the greater good. Before you ask, no, I can’t quote anything, because I read everying that crosses my path and I only retain generalities unless I’m especially interested in the topic and take notes. But I felt that single example is a good summary of the impression given by many political writers across the spectrum, most noticably by socialist and neoconservatives writers.

    And to think I didn’t touch on the whole technology as oppression thing because I thought I wouldn’t get my point across well.

  13. corwin

    GWW @ 11: It might help to remember that this was originally a speech, not an essay.

    L. Raymond @ 12: I think the essence of it is when you say, he was crowing about the fact it was such a great symbol of the power of the state to sieze private property, i.e. exercising power because it can. With all due respect, and I’ll repeat how glad I am you took the trouble to read, think about, and comment on this, I have to say I cannot imagine how you’d consider those words in those terms if you were reading objectively. Crowing? I certainly did not read it that way, and it puzzles me that you did. That paragraph begins with the following sentence: “Here is a fresh and very expressive example of our cultural contradictions.” He then goes on to briefly, and my judgment dismissively, mention the sense of pride in having the largest library in the world, but at once points out the illiteracy problem; the emphasis and point being: illiteracy must be eradicated, so these books can be read by everyone, instead the select province of a few. This is what you call crowing?

  14. I’ll concede, taking a second to save face by pointing out I’m not a professional word smith and the inability to phrase my point correctly should be blamed on that.

  15. Steve @ 5:

    For a particularly sharp example, look at what happened in Germany when the revolutionary opportunity in 1923 was missed; but history supplies countless other examples.

    I’m not quite certain I follow this… Are you contending that life in Germany would have been BETTER as a result of Hitler and the Nazis seizing power ten years sooner?

    Granted, this would have changed the course of events that led to the Second World War, but I do not see how it would have done so in any kind of positive way.

  16. Majikjon @ 15: I wasn’t referring to Hitler’s putsch, but, before that, to the failed seizure of power by the German working class. If you’re interested, some details here: http://wsws.org/articles/2008/oct2008/1923-o30.shtml

  17. Ah. That certainly makes more sense.

    Thanks for the link. Interesting stuff.

  18. OK, not a socialist, but please don’t jump on me. I have a serious question for a real curiosity of mine. Where does the crime of ignorance fit into this philosophy? I was only able to scan through this quickly, and wasn’t smart enough to catch what I was looking for in the treatise.

  19. “Where does the crime of ignorance fit into this philosophy?”

    Not sure what “the crime of ignorance” means; can you expand? One of the Trotsky quotes I like is, “ignorance is not a crime until it becomes willful.” Is that what you’re referring to?

  20. It should have read crimes of ignorance. It is one of the theories I am working out in my personal viewpoint. It is easy for one side to believe that all of the other side is evil. Instinct is telling me that it is not so much evil, as ignorance. Bush, as an example, made decisions that he thought were right. However, the reality of the situation shows that he was ignorant, and caused even more damage. That is a bit basic, but maybe it will get the job done.

  21. I’m not sure that evil is a matter of intent. In their own eyes, is anyone a villain? Didn’t Hitler feel he was doing a great good for the human race? Didn’t Pol Pot?

    Evil seems more to be caused by arrogance and ignorance than somebody desiring to play the villain. I can’t think of any people (outside of fiction) who did great evil for the express purpose of doing great evil. Usually it is caused by people deciding they know what is best for others, and forcing it upon them. The foundations for this seem to always be those I mentioned before – arrogance and ignorance. Since those go hand in hand, it’s no surprise to see them together.

    I think evil is better judged by result. We don’t care what good was intended by evil men. We care more what suffering they caused.

  22. 19: As to the quote, I do like it. It is entirely another facet of what I am thinking about that I had yet to fully consider. This facet will lead us nearer to the “evil” category in my estimation. Moreover, it is not a facet that is wholly owned by either end of the spectrum.

  23. 21: the arrogance and ignorance combo doesn’t necessarily go together, I don’t think. Obama seems to have plenty of arrogance (or confidence for his fans), while Bush, at least to me, seems to combine his ignorance with yet more ignorance (read idiocy for the haters, yo). Bush is in way over his head and isn’t smart enough to know, while Barack is as well, but believes himself capable of handling it.
    As to Hitler, I can’t speculate of his heart, but I wouldn’t blame ignorance there. It seems that there was a large amount of calculation. Genocide, no matter what you think of the culture of those people, is evil. Maybe he was a sociopath, but that is broken, not ignorance, I think.

  24. I think you miss my point.

    It is too soon to judge Obama vs. Bush; give it four to eight years and come back. I personally believe he will be no better, but I hope to be proven wrong about that. (and no, that does not mean I’m a Bush fan).

    Arrogance is usually perpetuated by ignorance. And ignorance of your ignorance leads to arrogance.

    In politics, this leads to forcing your will upon others. This require the arrogance to believe you know better than them. Invariably, those who believe in their own ability to decide others’ lives and destinies for them are ignorant of the consequences and ramifications of their actions.

    As for Hitler’s heart – well, he laid out his beliefs and plans long before he took action. He believed that some people were genetically superior to others. He believed that not only were the Jewish people genetically inferior, but that they were a blight upon the world. His beliefs were ignorant, his arrogance astonishing. His willingness to try to “help” the human race? Tragic.

    Of course genocide is evil. But isn’t killing innocent people always evil? Yet we have plunged into war after war based on the arrogance and ignorance of our leaders. Where do you draw the line? How many innocent people must die before it becomes evil? At what point is it sociopathic, and at what point is it tragic? What’s the magic number?

    Is it less evil to kill thousands by starving them then by shooting them? Or if you oppress and enslave them? Using force to perpetuate your beliefs is all a matter of degree. Sometimes it leads to thousands or millions dead. Sometimes it leads only to pain and suffering. But the root cause can almost always be traced to ignorance and arrogance. (if you have any exceptions to this, I would happily adjust my philosophy).

    I invoked the oh-so-overused example of Hitler to illustrate a point – it’s not your intent. It’s the result that history will judge you by. And I think history will not be kind to Bush, as it was not to any dictator. He did not achieve as horrific results as Stalin, or Mao. But that is of little comfort to all those who died as a result of his using force to push his ignorant and arrogant beliefs on others.

  25. Or in short – I just re-read my post and am not happy with my lack of brevity – other than Obama (who as I said I believe it is premature to judge his arrogance, though his ignorance has been quite amusing thus far), when do arrogance and ignorance NOT go together?

    What great evils can you name that were not caused by this combo? And what extremely arrogant leaders were not ignorant as well? Which ones were not led into arrogance mainly by their ignorance?

    *note – there is a strong difference between arrogance and confidence.

  26. To me, it is not about ignorance or arrogance or evil intent; it is about interests. You say Bush made decisions he thought were right? I say he made decisions that WERE right–for the interests he was representing. Exxon-Mobile posted their highest profits ever; to me that strongly indicates that Bush succeeded in what he meant to do.

    That this success turns my stomach indicates that my interests are different. Moreover, when speaking of broad social issues, I think it IS legitimate to judge those interests; to argue for the long-term good of humanity, and claim that Bush’s interests (to pick an example at random; heh) conflict with those. It then becomes less about Bush the individual than about the forces he represents.

  27. Possibly. However, I have several friends who have known G.W. since before he was a governor. None of them question his intent. All of them question his ability.

    My reading of the tea leaves is that he is a well-meaning dupe.

    Regardless, your point is quite well made; oftentimes the “leader” is merely a figurehead for certain forces at work behind the scenes (at times, not that cleverly hidden, BIG OIL!). But I think history (and present, even) will judge the figurehead, as well.

    And personally, I define forces that go against the long-term good of humanity as being evil, especially if it is done for short-term profit. But maybe that’s just me.

  28. “And personally, I define forces that go against the long-term good of humanity as being evil”

    Well, now that you mention it, so do I.

  29. That’s a fine line to me.

    You could ask 20 different people and they would all probably answer differently to exactly what was IN the long-term good of humanity…

    I’d love to think that there actually are absolutes when it comes to us silly humans about what is and isn’t ‘good’ for us. But I don’t think that’s really the case.

    Good and evil is so mutable and based on perspective that even using the term evil is… messy.

  30. Well, many enjoyable things in life are messy. At least, many of the thing I enjoy most.

    But your point about different perspectives is why I state that from what I can tell, using force to push your beliefs on others is always evil. This is why I’m a libertarian.

    And I can tell I’m right about this because of all the people who agree with me… Hello? Hello?

    Shit. Never mind.

    Regardless, you can say sometimes “This is evil.” Genocide? Definitely Evil. Rape? Definitely Evil. Processed cheese food on a hamburger? Definitely Evil. Especially if you’re a Vegan.

    Most people will admit certain extreme examples. The trick is of course where you draw the line coming back from the extremes. That’s why I look to cause, rather than effect. If I can find a principle that holds regardless of the level of extremity, that is something I can believe in.

    From everything I’ve ever read, studied, seen, observed and contemplated, in the long-term, liberty is good. Unfortunately, mine seems to be a minority opinion.

  31. 25: I don’t think that even with great evils, arrogance and ignorance are tied together. I agree that do tend to support each other, but other things can support ignorance, too. Such as poor planning, lack of communication.
    I agree that there is a difference between arrogance and confidence. I compared them because his fans would call it confidence, while my lack of confidence in him calls it arrogance.

    26: Let’s change the situation. Let’s get away from the oil for money stuff that is speculation, anyway. For example, his Supreme Court appointees. Roberts seems to have been a major coup. However, before he got there, he tried to go with Miers. Was it trying to break the glass ceiling? Already done. Paying back an old friend? Already done. I think it was ignorance, and he had to have had advisors tell him so. Maybe arrogance played a part, but I think stubbornness and again, more ignorance were more the cause.

    29: It almost makes you want to find an omnipotent arbiter that can set some starting points and settle any disputes! ;^)

    30: As a moderate, sort of libertarian, I am for freedom, until your freedoms hamper my own! My freedoms are obviously more important societally (is that a word?) than yours :^)

  32. Well, of course other things can contribute to both arrogance and ignorance. Nor do they always result in evil. But my premise was that, for all the great evils that I am aware, there is a combination of the two driving it.

    But though you’ve stated several times you don’t agree with arrogance and ignorance being tied together for great evils, you haven’t given any reasons for your objections. Either my premise is sound, or it is flawed. If it is flawed, then I would like to know where, so I can adjust it.

    btw (and you may already know this and be joking), the very definition of libertarian says that one individual enjoys freedom until it hampers those of another…

  33. Actually, I’m not sure that I disagree totally with your premise. I was not intending to discuss the nature of evil, as much as simply ignorance. My gut says that arrogance is involved, just not always the main character flaw. I can’t, and don’t have the desire to prove that right now. Sorry, I don’t mean to be offensive.
    AND, I wasn’t joking, and didn’t know that about the libertarian (small or cap L?). Thanx for updating me. I would love to have the ability to vote that direction if it was a viable option at any point. Unfortunately, I find that rather than voting for anything, I am usually voting against something, and can’t be exercise that freedom properly.

  34. corwin

    the very definition of libertarian says that one individual enjoys freedom until it hampers those of another…

    This provides me the chance to use another favorite quote, this one by the inimitable Thom Digby, and said in Minneapa sometime in the mid 70’s: “Of course my right to swing my fist ends at your nose, but just how long a nose do you have the right to grow?”

  35. Some people have noses that take up all available space.

  36. Re Trosky, now comes this:

    http://lilnyet.com/30.php

    Laugh now.

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