No recipes this week. Well, unless it is THIS awesome recipe posted by Dragthepen….
Instead I give you my second installment of Sunday Afternoon Sermon. If you missed the first one, here it is: A New Addition… . I will find something extra interesting for next Sunday Dinner. For now… I hope you will read and comment… because this subject must be discussed if we are to move forward as a country.
Confession: I dabble in Humanist Philosophy.
Back in 2008, I briefly joined a Humanist Forum group. One of the first meetings introduced the concept of Libertarianism to the conversation. It was an interesting and lively debate.
I was not surprised to learn that Libertarians were just as guilty as other humans at picking and choosing what particular sections of philosophy they ascribe to… It seemed that Libertarianism, in the United States at least, had become the opposite of John F. Kennedy’s call-to-arms, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country…”
Libertarians were all about free-market economies, supported by government that provided them.
Does anyone else see the contradiction there in that statement? Anyone? *sigh*
Libertarians were asking, “What can my country do for me… to make me richer, more powerful?”
They invoked Liberal and pre-Libertarian philosophers and political ideologists in their cherry-picked quote search to justify their logic.
John Stuart Mill is one such philosopher. He wrote an extremely long essay called On Liberty. John Stuart Mill fits right in with the modern ideal of a Libertarian, except… on, well, a lot of things… especially on the concept of Tyranny of the Majority:
“There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.”
Would anyone, please argue with me that Trump is NOT a despot (or habitual liar)? Or that twitter is not the modern incarnate of the hen party? Please…
Now, libertarians, of whom Breitbart up there ascribed (RIP) to being, believe government should be limited, small, and basically leave people to their own devices. This philosophy is such that they believe that the individual is responsible for their own conscience, which is the only one of their concepts that is perfectly in line with Mill’s philosophy:
“The object of this Essay is to assert one very simple principle… that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.”
Which is why the Second Amendment is always the second right that conservatives and alt-righters invoke… but on to Mill’s point:
“In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”
The Individual is Sovereign.
A concept that neither a Republican nor a Democrat, a Liberal nor a Conservative will argue against.
However, what Libertarians fail to recognize and/or skim over before getting to that profound statement is what Mills says about personal accountability and the responsibilities of the individual to others.
“…the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised (sic) community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”
To Prevent Harm To Others?
Yes. That is what he said… and many other liberals that libertarians quote. Our individual rights and responsibility to ourselves was never intended to preclude our responsibility to others.
What is that responsibility? Civility? Common courtesy? Manners?
Mill’s didn’t mention those things, because… well, common courtesy was innate in his culture. Mills and his compatriots were civilized, and civilized people do not resort to fallacies, lies, and inflammatory statements to get their point across.
What Mills did say was very specific… to protect people from abuse and oppression. Period.
The changes in political ideology and laws in the last 8 years, the creation of protections for minorities over the last 60 years has not infringed on the right of the individual as professed by conservatives across the spectrum… it has only made allowances for the safety and security of those individuals against those that wish them harm.
Mills would have protected them as well… Especially in light of the inflammatory statements, articles, and other outlets that the alt-right uses to gain power… the New York Times posted an overview here.
Here are Mills’ remaining thoughts from that single, introductory paragraph to his essay turned book:
“His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise, or even right. These are good reasons for remonstrating with him, or reasoning with him, or persuading him, or entreating him, but not for compelling him, or visiting him with any evil in case he do otherwise.”
No one was making conservatives “gay”, or forcing them to ascribe to the beliefs of what they deemed ‘fringe’. It was in fact the violent and oppressive actions against those fringe elements which forced the government to protect them. Because, per Mills:
“To justify that, the conduct from which it is desired to deter him must be calculated to produce evil to someone else. The only part of the conduct of any one, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others.”
The only phrase I left out at this point is a prequel to his final statement… “In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute.”
The Individual is Sovereign.
Now, what was that about the difference between exercising freedom of speech versus invoking?
I use my own personal history to understand the difference… in the 1980’s there was an underground socio-political movement driven by punk “anarchists”. The goal? To give the finger to every single adult and/or person in power. To tell the advertisers to piss off… to determine, for themselves, who they were and what they believed.
For me… the anarchists that spray-painted those random, stylized “A’s” on stop signs were exercising their freedom of speech. They were expressing their discontent with a society that they saw as oppressive.
However, I never met a single anarchist that used Freedom of Speech as their reasoning. Why should you have to name an inherent, innate, God-given gift to humankind?
Compare that with Breitbart and the Alt-Right.
They regularly invoke Freedom of Speech and the rights of the individual. Why?
Because they need to justify their actions.
Justify? Yes… because they are not exercising their freedom of speech, they are invoking it.
For what reasons? Who knows…?
To make money? They are libertarians and lovers of free markets after all…
To gain power? Just as terrorist organizations rallied around the Palestinian cause to justify their actions, Breitbart and the Alt-right rally around the discontent and pushed aside rural, white Americans. Why? Well, Stephen K. Bannon said it himself:
“Let the grassroots turn on the hate because that’s the ONLY thing that will make them do their duty…”
And what duty is that exactly?
What are the list of demands of libertarians and the alt-right?
Can anyone reading this blog list them? If you need help…
Just look at the list of articles on Breitbart for the answer… Breitbart, and thus the alt-rights’ only purpose, their only goal has been to breed discontent. Their only desire, and they revel in it, has been to misinform, conflagrate, mute, and/or whitewash every single thought that does not perfectly agree with their own.
When they accuse the left of doing the same? Well, as the good book says… ‘You will know them by the fruit they bare…’ Pun intended – because the closeted racists in this country have definitely shown theirs…
Yes. We are individuals with certain inherent rights. Yes, that includes people that speak their mind… but it DOES NOT MEAN that they are allowed to control the conversation by using hate speech, making derogatory and false and/or misleading statements, or otherwise use bullying tactics to get their way.
WE MUST REQUIRE CIVIL DISCOURSE in our social and political lives. We must call out those that use atrocious tactics of hatred, lies, and innuendo to gain power, money, and privilege.
 Per Merriam-Webster “Despotism” is defined as: 1 a : rule by a despot b : despotic exercise of power 2 a : a system of government in which the ruler has unlimited power.
 For those not from the South… a Hen Party… or Biddy Party is a group of women that revel in spreading gossip and innuendo about other people.