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Postby ASMarques » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:24 pm

IlluSionS667 wrote:
ASMarques wrote:Come to think of it, isn't the study of the history of political ideologies that require total engagement and blind obedience to illuminated leaders, rather than one's education and ability to reason relatively free of emotional interference in other areas, the crucial element to identify the worst kind of poison [*] in politics?...


In ancient times, the nation's intellectual elite came to realize that the masses are incapable of deep complex thought.


True, then as now, and a frequent red (and brown) herring. The point of democracy, in antiquity as in modern times, is not to make the masses capable of deep complex thought, but rather to make the power elite -- I suppose that's what you call the "intellectual elite" -- capable of fear, a most salutary simple feeling people in power tend to forget.

Like a pack of wolves, these people need a hierarchy to guide them. Where a pack of wolves is lead by a single alpha-male and a single alpha-female, human society was divided into many layers.


And yet that didn't mean human government that shouldn't organize society as a pack of wolves, should emulate the rules of an insect colony instead. Now, I wonder why would that be. Can you give me a hint (perhaps by looking in a mirror)?

The priest caste would provide the intellectual elite, the warrior caste would provide the warriors and the labor caste would provide all sorts of goods. The nation was run by the priest caste which shaped and nurtured the nation's Weltanschauung by providing the spiritual and intellectual leaders and the warrior caste which provided both political and military leaders.


Since we are talking of the history of political ideologies, I must say I find your schematic presentation rather doubtful. It's probably inspired by Georges Dumézil, who saw the roots of Indo-European social organization in traits that according to him were common to all Indo-European mythologies and pointed to such a division.

I have my doubts, I don't think it's such a good idea to extrapolate societal data from religious myth. Indeed the opposite seems more justified to me. We could proceed with this interesting subject, but we would be straying from the point I was making, namely that total engagement and blind obedience to illuminated leaders is the worst kind of poison in politics.

Of course, I wasn't trying to suggest a theory of political ideas equally valid for prehistoric and modern times. I was thinking of basically modern political ideas and trying to suggest that the political change brought about by folks like George Mason, Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine, none of them in love with power or in awe of the powerful, was much more desirable than the catastrophes brought about by people like Robespierre, Lenin or Hitler.

As long as the Weltanschauung is accepted by the vast majority and people live by their Weltanschauung, society remained stable. Unfortunately in time leaders became powerhungry and corrupt, leading to the downfall of empires, the starvation and exploitation of millions and bloody wars with only losers in the end.


May I assume you meant to write "remains stable", as the rest of the sentence suggests, but felt slightly embarrassed by the universal the intellectual elite schooled in logical thought might be tempted to draw?

Let me put your truism this way: as long as any society accepts and lives by any Weltanschauung, that society, short of natural catastrophe of great proportions, will remain stable.

I'm sure you'll agree that a stable society is not necessarily virtuous or desirable. Even worse, an immobile Weltanschauung would be dreadful. We might as well revert to the pre-insect stages of consciousness. Hence the convenience of an apprehension of the political world that trusts elections and freedom, even in imperfect form, rather than permanent stickers to power through totalitarian means.

Nevertheless, a hierarchy remains necessary to guide the masses. The NS system tried to provide such a hierarchy and most Germans loved it. It may not have been perfect and the national-socialist experiment was in fact far from completed, but the results Hitler actieve in only 6 years definitely deserve a thorough objective investigation.


Isn't it interesting that the many qualities of the good people as a whole, unfortunately incapable of deep thought, are always deposited in humble offering at the feet of the glorious pharaoh in charge?

I mean, good people of German heritage, where was Hitler after 1945?! Oh yeah, sure, maybe Adenauer, Erhard and their likes had some mediunic séances with the great achiever. Well, you decide.

I do understand that it may be hard to give away a part of your individuality for the collective, but the benefits are there. Also, if you manage to prove that you're better and stronger than most people, the leadership of a national-socialist state may actually pick you and make you one of their leaders. After all, the national-socialists state is based on technocratic principles.


Nice touch. Reminds me of "democratic centralism": join the Party and take the lift to happiness. Eventually you will reach the Central Committee and have your own way with the Cheka and the Supreme Soviet with its filiated soviets down the many rungs of the chain of obedience. After all, Stalinist collectivism was based on technocratic principles and he electrified his empire etc.
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Postby IlluSionS667 » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:38 pm

ASMarques wrote:True, then as now, and a frequent red (and brown) herring. The point of democracy, in antiquity as in modern times, is not to make the masses capable of deep complex thought, but rather to make the power elite -- I suppose that's what you call the "intellectual elite" -- capable of fear, a most salutary simple feeling people in power tend to forget.


In a classic democracy, it is the people as a whole who makes the decisions. When there were leader figures, these leaders were still elected for life. I don't see where fear comes in and I don't see the benefit of a fear-driven system either.

ASMarques wrote:And yet that didn't mean human government that shouldn't organize society as a pack of wolves, should emulate the rules of an insect colony instead. Now, I wonder why would that be. Can you give me a hint (perhaps by looking in a mirror)?


All group animals and primitive human societies could provide as an inpiration for how to organise society in harmony with human nature.

ASMarques wrote:I have my doubts, I don't think it's such a good idea to extrapolate societal data from religious myth.


Who said anything about extrapolating societal data from religious myths?

ASMarques wrote:we would be straying from the point I was making, namely that total engagement and blind obedience to illuminated leaders are the worst kind of poison in politics.


Any society where people refuse to follow orders from superiors is doomed to collapse in time, just like a company cannot function when employers don't listen to their employer. Obedience to superiors is necessary, but it is equally necessary that leaders are chosen on technocratic principles.

ASMarques wrote:I was thinking of basically modern political ideas and trying to suggest that the political change brought about by folks like George Mason, Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine, none of them in love with power or in awe of the powerful, was much more desirable than the catastrophes brought about by people like Robespierre, Lenin or Hitler.


Until the English declared war on Germany, Hitler was the most admired (by his own people) politician in the world and Germany has never been as prosperous as during the Hitler regime. I'm not sure what catastrophe you're talking about.

ASMarques wrote:May I assume you meant to write "remains stable", as the rest of the sentence suggests, but felt slightly embarrassed by the universal the intellectual elite schooled in logical thought might be tempted to draw?


Your assumption is correct. Do note that English is not my first mistake and I tend to write quite rapidly, so a mistake here and there should be acceptible. It's not like I'm writing an essay intended for peer review here.

ASMarques wrote:Let me put your truism this way: as long as any society accepts and lives by any Weltanschauung, that society, short of natural catastrophe of great proportions, will remain stable.


Correct. However, to be able to maintain a certain Weltanschauung, you need at least some form of authoritarianism. Otherwise, different ideologies and religions will arise to compete with the default Weltanschauung en you get the mess we have today.

ASMarques wrote:I'm sure you'll agree that a stable society is not necessarily virtuous or desirable. Even worse, an immobile Weltanschauung would be dreadful. We might as well revert to the pre-insect stages of consciousness.


Obviously.

ASMarques wrote:Hence the convenience of an apprehension of the political world that trusts elections and freedom, even in imperfect form, rather than permanent stickers to power through totalitarian means.


Representative democracy breeds corruption, decisions with only short term benefits, bad compromises, etc. A classic democracy like in ancient Greece of Iceland would be interesting, however such systems only work on a fairly small scale and on issues the masses are very familiar with.

ASMarques wrote:Isn't it interesting that the many qualities of the good people as a whole, unfortunately incapable of deep thought, are always deposited in humble offering at the feet of the glorious pharaoh in charge?

I mean, good people of German heritage, where was Hitler after 1945?!


Hitler died with national-socialism. What point was there to continue living when everything he'd fought for was burnt to the ground by his enemies?

ASMarques wrote:Nice touch. Reminds me of "democratic centralism": join the Party and take the lift to happiness. Eventually you will reach the Central Committee and have your own way with the Cheka and the Supreme Soviet with its filiated soviets down the many rungs of the chain of obedience. After all, Stalinist collectivism was based on technocratic principles and he electrified his empire etc.


Stalinist collectivism was hopelessly flawed. It being based on technocratic principles doesn't make it any less flawed.
All things are subject to interpretation. Whatever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not of truth - Friedrich Nietzsche
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Postby ASMarques » Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:04 pm

IlluSionS667 wrote:
ASMarques wrote:True, then as now, and a frequent red (and brown) herring. The point of democracy, in antiquity as in modern times, is not to make the masses capable of deep complex thought, but rather to make the power elite -- I suppose that's what you call the "intellectual elite" -- capable of fear, a most salutary simple feeling people in power tend to forget.


In a classic democracy, it is the people as a whole who makes the decisions. When there were leader figures, these leaders were still elected for life.


No, they were not. If we are talking about classic Athenian democracy, it's true that its main distinctive feature was direct popular participation in government at all times, but terms and limitations of office, as well as scrutinies after office and assigned schedules for elections (yearly for the most important leadership posts) were also part of the system. Most importantly, leaders and indeed all office holders could be dismissed from office by the people reunited in assembly at any moment.

IlluSionS667 wrote:I don't see where fear comes in and I don't see the benefit of a fear-driven system either.


I didn't mention any "fear-driven" system. I said government should fear the governed, implying of course, that it was much better than the other way around. Given the unfortunate fact that power is often attained by those who love it too much, this is hardly rocket science. It's very much like saying those with a predisposition to crime should fear the law.

IlluSionS667 wrote:All group animals and primitive human societies could provide as an inpiration for how to organise society in harmony with human nature.


Didn't get that one. Unless you're using "inspiration" in a completely non valorative neutral way, as in, say, "vampire bats provide inspiration for nourishing soft drinks."

IlluSionS667 wrote:
ASMarques wrote:I have my doubts, I don't think it's such a good idea to extrapolate societal data from religious myth.


Who said anything about extrapolating societal data from religious myths?


I took it that your trifunctional organization of society was taken from Dumézil (correct me if I was wrong) and that's what he does (in the Indo-European context, by the way).

IlluSionS667 wrote:Obedience to superiors is necessary, but it is equally necessary that leaders are chosen on technocratic principles.


Looks like your utopia is closer to the ideas of H. G. Wells than to Adolf Hitler's.

IlluSionS667 wrote:I'm not sure what catastrophe you're talking about.


You would if you had lived in Germany during the war or the post-war period. Total undivided power should carry responsibility, not for the war itself in an exclusive way (he had no power over his external enemies), but for the final result. He shouldn't have played the infallible leader.

IlluSionS667 wrote:Your assumption is correct. Do note that English is not my first mistake and I tend to write quite rapidly, so a mistake here and there should be acceptible. It's not like I'm writing an essay intended for peer review here.


I do the same. I mentioned that one because I was attributing a meaning to it.

IlluSionS667 wrote:Correct. However, to be able to maintain a certain Weltanschauung, you need at least some form of authoritarianism. Otherwise, different ideologies and religions will arise to compete with the default Weltanschauung en you get the mess we have today.


I'll put it this way: culture shapes politics, not the other way around. You don't preserve terminally ill Weltanschauungen with the Weltanschauung police.

IlluSionS667 wrote:Representative democracy breeds corruption, decisions with only short term benefits, bad compromises, etc. A classic democracy like in ancient Greece of Iceland would be interesting, however such systems only work on a fairly small scale and on issues the masses are very familiar with.


You mean direct democracy, of course, as in the Greek democratic city-states. Iceland in the early Althing times was more like nearly leaderless rural anarchy for a few families living widely apart (there was no one else around, nor external menaces).

I disagree with you on the merits of democracy , maybe because I lived under an undemocratic regime -- and not a particularly savage one at that -- for a part of my life and I feel the drawbacks of democracy are a small price to pay for the advantages.

As for the prospects for the future, well, I'm not so sure of the impossibility of round-the-clock direct democracy given the technological means, though I'm not sure of what the results would look like.

Different ways of making what Dahl & Lindblom called the modern Polyarchy, with its many clusters of power, more responsive to a better informed and educated citizenry no doubt exist. I'm rather distrustful of intermediate representation such as a corporative system presumes to offer, but I would like to experiment with, for instance, zero-sum voting (+n plus -n votes per voter to be distributed or withheld as seen fit) and other relatively easy to try innovations. I certainly hope primitive single-party systems driven by equally single-minded ideas are, as they should be, on their way out. Time will tell.

IlluSionS667 wrote:
ASMarques wrote:Isn't it interesting that the many qualities of the good people as a whole, unfortunately incapable of deep thought, are always deposited in humble offering at the feet of the glorious pharaoh in charge?

I mean, good people of German heritage, where was Hitler after 1945?!


Hitler died with national-socialism. What point was there to continue living when everything he'd fought for was burnt to the ground by his enemies?


Of course. But I didn't mean he should have been there. I meant that since you were so eager to attribute the pre-war achievements to Hitler and NSism, rather than to the intrinsic qualities of German labor and organization, maybe you should attribute the post-war triumphs (starting from scrap, or what the Germans used to call Stunde Null) to the Allied proxies and the anti-NSism of the 50s...

IlluSionS667 wrote:Stalinist collectivism was hopelessly flawed. It being based on technocratic principles doesn't make it any less flawed.


Agreed. And so was Hitler's collectivism. The basic flaw was blind obedience of the people to its allegedly illuminated leaders, required and facilitated by both systems.

But I repeat myself, so I'll give up before the esteemed Moderator puts an end to this somewhat off-topic discussion.
Last edited by ASMarques on Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:42 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby IlluSionS667 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:23 am

ASMarques wrote:No, they were not. If we are talking about classic Athenian democracy, it's true that its main distinctive feature was direct popular participation in government at all times, but terms and limitations of office, as well as scrutinies after office and assigned schedules for elections (yearly for the most important leadership posts) were also part of the system. Most importantly, leaders and indeed all office holders could be dismissed from office by the people reunited in assembly at any moment.


I wasn't aware of people being elected on a temporary basis in Athens. I support the concept of the people being able to dismiss poor leaders from office, but elections for temporary posts are a very bad idea. There are quite enough 20th and 21st century examples for that.

ASMarques wrote:I didn't mention any "fear-driven" system. I said government should fear the governed, implying of course, that it was much better than the other way around.


The relationship between the leader and the people should be based on mutual trust and not on fear by any party. Like I said, I agree that poor leaders should be able to be dismissed but only when they abuse their power.

ASMarques wrote:Given the unfortunate fact that power is often attained by those who love it too much, this is hardly rocket science. It's very much like saying those with a predisposition to crime should fear the law.


The best leaders are those who do not seek power. Hence, a proper technocratic system requires leaders to be selected not from those who seek power but those reluctant to accept it.

ASMarques wrote:
IlluSionS667 wrote:All group animals and primitive human societies could provide as an inpiration for how to organise society in harmony with human nature.


Didn't get that one. Unless you're using "inspiration" in a completely non valorative neutral way, as in, say, "vampire bats provide inspiration for nourishing soft drinks."


Basically, you analyse the behaviour of animals and humans close to nature and determine the principles of your society on that analysis.

ASMarques wrote:I took it that your trifunctional organisation of society was taken from Dumézil (correct me if I was wrong) and that's what he does (in the Indo-European context, by the way).


I'm not aware of the work of Dumézil. It was a view I based on mostly JP Van Term's "Van heidendom tot paganisme. Studiën over vrijmetselarij" (not translated in English) and Michael O'Meara's "New Culture, New Right: Anti-Liberalism in Postmodern Europe"

ASMarques wrote:Looks like your utopia is closer to the ideas of H. G. Wells than to Adolf Hitler's.


My political views are mostly inspired by national-socialism, national-anarchism, the "New Right" and corporatism. I'm not a dogmatist and prefer to think outside of the box. I don't like to stick with just one ideology or religion to inspire me.

ASMarques wrote:You would if you had lived in Germany during the war or the post-war period.


Hitler can hardly be blamed for WW2.

ASMarques wrote:Total undivided power should carry responsibility, not for the war itself in an exclusive way (he had no power over his external enemies), but for the final result. He shouldn't have played the infallible leader.


I agree that the Führerprinzip is flawed in the sense that the leader should be able to give full authority and independency on specific issues to experts when needed either on a temporary (eg. while a war lasts) or a permanent base.

ASMarques wrote:I'll put it this way: culture shapes politics, not the other way around. You don't preserve terminally ill Weltanschauungen with the Weltanschauung police.


IMO, Hitler's national-socialism was the best Westanschauung the 20st century has known. It wasn't perfect, but Hitler's plan to reshape Germany was far from completed either. You're judging him on a mere 12 years of rulership, of which the last 6 years were struck by a terrible war unleashed by his enemies.

To achieve his goal, Hitler did need some severe restrictions. Hitler was perfectly aware, however, that in the long run only conviction and not repression can provide stability. And even regardless, the German people were very happy before the war in spite of the restrictions that existed.

ASMarques wrote:You mean direct democracy, of course, as in the Greek democratic city-states. Iceland in the primitive Althing times was more like nearly leaderless rural anarchy for a few families living widely apart (there was no one else around, nor external menaces).


Either system can only work on a small scale and for issues the masses have a strong connection with.

ASMarques wrote:I disagree with you on the merits of democracy , maybe because I lived under an undemocratic regime -- and not a particularly savage one at that -- for a good part of my life and I feel the drawbacks of democracy are a small price to pay for the advantages.


I'm born and raised in a "democratic" regime, but I've lived for a few months in post-communist Poland. I felt far more free and secure out there precisely because the country hasn't been spoiled by decadent democracy that long.

In the long run, modern "democracy" can be far more suffocating and desctructive than any dictatorship because it is based on deception by massive Orwellian indoctrination. No one is as enslaved as those who falsely believe they're free.

ASMarques wrote:As for the prospects for the future, well, I'm not so sure of the impossibility of round-the-clock direct democracy given the technological means, though I'm not sure of what the results would look like.


As long as the masses can be easily influenced by the media, the masses are nothing but a tool to use for tyrants in disguise. In a modern democracy, public opinion is nothing but the opinion enforced on the masses by the media.

ASMarques wrote:Of course. But I didn't mean he should have been there. I meant that since you were so eager to attribute the pre-war achievements to Hitler and NSism, rather than to the intrinsic qualities of German labor and organisation, maybe you should attribute the post-war triumphs (starting from scrap, or what the Germans used to called Stunde Null) to the Allied proxies and the anti-NSism of the 50s...


I do. I just don't see much positive in post-war Germany. Post-war Germany is but a shadow of a once great nation. It has become utterly decadent and corrupt like the rest of Western society. It didn't use to be like that.

ASMarques wrote:Agreed. And so was Hitler's collectivism. The basic flaw was blind obedience of the people to its allegedly illuminated leaders, required and facilitated by both systems.


National-socialism isn't really collectivist.

A few quotes by Hitler :
"Thus, in principle, it [national socialism] embraces the basic principle of Nature and believes in the validity of this law down to the last individual. It sees not only the different value of races, but also the different value of individual men. From the mass it extracts the importance of the person, and thus, in contrast to Marxism with its disorganizing effect, it acts in an organizing way."

"The state is a means to an end. Its end lies in the preservation and advancement of a community of physically and spiritually similar beings. This preservation comprises first of all existence as a race, and thereby permits free development of all the forces dormant in this race."

"It is not the mass that invents and not the majority that organizes or thinks, but in all things only and always the individual man, the person."
All things are subject to interpretation. Whatever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not of truth - Friedrich Nietzsche
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