coromandal


wise or unwise
November 28, 2015, 12:44 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , ,

It’s not that the mob or the everymen who collectively make up a citizenry are right and wise, it’s that, by ensuring they decide by their vote who will lead and by what policy, the law will prevail and arbitrary measures will not.  It is the awkwardness of the process that protects us from the vagaries of concentrated power.

A democrat need not believe that the majority will always decide wisely; what he  must believe is that the decision of the majority, whether wise or unwise, must be accepted until such time as the majority decides otherwise. And this he believes not from any mystic conception of the wisdom of the plain man, but as the best practical device for putting the reign of law in place of the reign of arbitrary force.

Bertrand Russell, Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind, Unpopular Essays



Incredulity, not docility

An inquiring mind, one that challenges authority, and has a mentoring relationship with teachers

vs

A soft compliant mind.

The Common Core debate is important not simply because of the standards’ immediate effects on pupils, but because it offers us an opportunity to ask the biggest questions about our education system: What should be the guiding ethos of public education in a democratic society? What are we preparing students for, other than participation in economic life? And how should schooling be structured to reflect democratic values?

The short answers: Incredulity, not docility, is the trait to inculcate, along with a citizenry disposed to questioning received wisdom and orthodoxy and a less hierarchical teacher-student relationship. In each instance, the Common Core is an impediment.

Participation is a necessary component of freedom

vs

Memorization of facts will make us dutiful.

From a democracy standpoint, there’s much to question here. First, the virtual omission of civic education, an area already treated as an afterthought in many public schools. The civic education we do have tends to be sanitized, fact-heavy regurgitation that casts democratic participation more as a duty than as a vehicle for emancipation.

Continue reading



the argumentative Indian

BANGALORE HANUMAN0001Nationalism is on the rise in India; Modi – India’s big new hope for Prime Ministership – is a Hindu fundamentalist set to sweep away the longstanding tolerant Congress. I remember India in the 1970s – admittedly from child’s eyes – as being genteel and tolerant. Not any more. It feels coarser, on the edge, aggressive and desperate.

Following is a passage from a review of a book (The Hindus: An Alternate History, Wendy Doniger) that has been, in classic fundamentalist fashion, pulled from circulation. Some of the article’s observations in chart form:

the argumentative Indian > the offended Indian
the tolerant Indian > the intolerant mob
the reflective citizen > the hurt communal mobiliser
the courageous Indian > the cowardly thug

Here is the passage from Mehta’s review:

India is a democracy, but its reputation as a bastion of liberal values is dimming by the day. The argumentative Indian is being replaced by the offended Indian, the tolerant Indian by the intolerant mob, the reflective citizen by the hurt communal mobiliser, the courageous Indian by the cowardly thug who needs the state to protect it against every argument, the pious Indian by the ultimate blasphemer who thinks he needs to protect the gods rather than the gods being there to protect him. Whether this is a tiny minority or represents the majority is beside the point. The point is that the assault on free expression is winning. How is liberal India being silenced?

Silencing of liberal India, Pratap Bhanu Mehta, The Indian Express



great life throb

Can you tie ideology to geography? Is Europe one thing and America another? Here’s an observation by D.H Lawrence that does. Regardless of the geography, surely some people – in the way they form themselves, and in the way they teach themselves to think – achieve freedom; while others merely the image of it.

Democracy in America was never the same as Liberty in Europe. In Europe Liberty was a great life-throb. But in America Democracy was always something anti-life. The greatest democrats, like Abraham Lincoln, had always a sacrificial, self-murdering note in their voices.  American Democracy was a form of self-murder, always. Or of murdering somebody else.

The love, the democracy, the floundering into lust, is a sort of by-play. The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted.

Studies in Classic American Literature, D. H. Lawrence – notes on James Fenimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer



eternal f word
August 22, 2011, 7:18 am
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , ,

Today, the word fascism is overused by anyone who wants to demagogue his enemy.  So a real definition is important.  Excerpted below is Italian author Umberto Eco’s fourteen qualities of fascism.  He was a child in Rome when Mussolini fell, so he has a particular insight into the Italian version of the movement.

Lifted directly from Eco’s fourteen points, the hallmarks of fascism are:  traditionalism, action trumps intellectualism, opposition to discernment, fear of the ‘other,’ racism, call to consensus, personal and shared frustration, nationalism, shame by a perceived dominant class, shared struggle, permanent warfare, popular (as opposed to aristocratic) elitism, power through machismo and misogyny, leaders who claim to speak for ‘the people,’ and a new form of speaking that includes “impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

Does any of this sound familiar?  Then perhaps you’re living in a fascist state and should either protest or move or both.

Continue reading