[PLUG-TALK] How to be a good Democrat

Jeme A Brelin jeme at brelin.net
Mon Oct 20 15:06:01 PDT 2003

What did I tell you about duplicate messages?

On Mon, 20 Oct 2003, Russ Johnson wrote:
> * Jeme A Brelin <jeme at brelin.net> [2003-10-19 23:12]:
> > And, of course, you consider yourself one of those "exceptions"?
> > This is just arrogance.
> Why shouldn't I consider myself an exception?

Why shouldn't you consider everyone smart?

> I recognize the stupidity of others actions without any help from
> another being.

Are you kidding me?  Do you think stupidity is some objective thing like
brown eyes that you can recognize in others and will be simply true
regardless of observer or other informing information?

I think the folks that consider "most people stupid" just aren't creative
enough to interpret the situation in a way that shows the other person
making appropriate decisions.

You have this arbitrary and completely subjective idea of what it means to
be stupid.  Basically, it means "not like me" (since you're an exception
and "not stupid" and expect everyone to consider themselves exceptions).

> You do the same.

I think some people are ignorant and refuse to listen or reason, but I
don't think most people are stupid.  And usually people that aren't
particularly well educated or good with logic or creative or insightful
have something else going for them that would prevent me from labelling as
just plain stupid (usually one of the other traits above, but that's
hardly an exhaustive list).

> You are continually telling everyone in the plug list how they should
> behave.

I am absolutely NOT telling people how to behave.  I'm describing a method
of action that is consistent with the base assumption that goodness
requires forgiveness, love, and respect, and that should be your guide.

I think that if you start with such a base assumption, your actions are
defined narrowly enough to eliminate whole classes of behavior and yet
still broad enough to enable huge personal and social growth.

> Isn't that arrogance on your part?

I'm open to discussion.  If you think there's a flaw in my reasoning,
let's hash it out.  If you think there are contradictions in my axia,
point them out and see if we can't refine them to reconcile.

Now, I'm aware of basic "incompleteness", here, and I think that's just a
problem with the way the human brain works.  It's unfortunate that logic
itself is flawed.

Anyway, I don't see myself as telling people what to do so much as telling
people that their actions are inconsistent with the basic fundamental idea
of being good which is a necessary requirement for all of the other things
they expect from civilization.

> You fail to recognize that you may not be the keeper of the right
> answer.

I think I'm constantly aware of the fact that I probably am wrong.  I just
don't know any better, yet.

> Or, if you do, you fail to recognize that we all have the ability and
> the right to choose NOT to do as Jeme says.

I don't fail to recognize that, either, or else I'd go insane wondering
why people weren't following my every command.  I think I'm capable of
looking around and seeing people not doing as I say and extrapolating the
idea that they are, therefore, capable of not doing as I say.

> Everyone is arrogant to a point. Some are just more blantant about it.

Not JUST more blatant, but more arrogant and less aware.  Being aware of
your tendencies toward arrogance can help you reduce their occurance and

Nobody's perfect; some just try harder than others.

> > If you observe that people are generally (or "on average") stupid,
> > then you should call into question your own ability to assess other
> > people since you are likely to be pretty stupid, too.
> The difference is I've made a study of how stupid people can be.

You've made a study?  What were your research criteria?  What were your
independent variables?  How was your data collected and what measures were
taken to remove observer bias?

I don't think you made a study at all.  I think you had an assumption and
interpreted your observations in such a way that they did not conflict and
that was deemed proof of the assumption.

> Most people are just going through life without a clue.

That doesn't even mean anything.

> Or, they are making decisions based on some notion of a higher calling
> that isn't born out in any sort of logic.

Assumptions are rarely born out of logic.  You need assumptions, or axia,
in order to construct a logical system.  The assumptions themselves become
the "higher calling".

There is also a concept in western thought of "higher" and "lower" human
endeavor; higher being those that uplift the spirit or humanity as a
whole, lower being those that fulfill more selfish desires or needs.  Most
value systems rate "higher" thoughts and actions as preferable.

> > However, you want to think of yourself as the supreme arbiter of
> > intelligence and goodness, so you set your own thoughts and actions as
> > the ideal and everyone else as lesser (not doing what you would) or
> > greater (more able to do what you want than you are).
> I AM the supreme arbiter, when it comes to my own mind.

We're not talking about your own mind, we're talking about expressable
ideas like intelligence and goodness.  We must have criteria and
agreed-upon definitions.  Otherwise, the words mean nothing.  You can say
"Everyone is stupid by my definition", but that doesn't really mean
anything because your definition of "stupid" could be "not exactly like
me" or "bipedal" or something else.

> Just as you have supreme athority of what you think about others.

The word "authority" means nothing when there is only one participant.

> No one else can choose for me, and no one can choose for you.

But we collectively decide what words mean.

> > It's a bullshit, unreliable scale.
> It's the only one that ANY of us have.

Then the right thing to do is throw out the concept of "stupidity".  It
can't be measured in any reliable, meaningful way.  Get rid of it.  It
doesn't do anyone any good.

> > Well, Russell's bit about letting people burn in their houses is a good
> > example.
> I discarded his statement, because he didn't back it up. It's a nice
> theory, now prove it.

How would you "back it up"?  It's functionally equivalent to all those
"thinning the herd" argument that people who don't understand evolution
spew all the time.

> > Another example is allowing the poor to go cold and hungry because YOU
> > don't think they work hard enough to have things they need.
> Again, I have no problem with giving a hand-up. I have major
> difficulties with giving hand-outs.

And again, there's no difference except your personal expectation of the
recipients' intent... which you can't possibly know.

> There are ways of staying warm and fed that don't require illegal
> activity, and don't require hand outs. We've abandoned them in favor of
> welfare. No, you can't live in a downtown apartment when you use them,
> but your warm and fed, and you did it yourself.

Actually, most of the people I know who live in downtown apartments are
living on some kind of public assistance.

And what exactly do mean by "did it yourself"?  Are you saying that
finding a rich person and doing whatever they say for the ability to eat
is a noble and honorable way to live?  That's what most folks call an
"honest living" these days.

But personally, I'm appalled by a system that leaves control over the
basic means of survival (food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, education,
etc.) in the hands of those that would use that control to improve their
own standing and withhold those things from human beings who do not
actively seek to please the controller.

The choice for most Americans is to find a rich cock and suck it in order
to get bread and water.

> It's a proven fact that people on welfare have a low self image, while
> those who have gotten themselves off welfare and take care of themselves
> have a higher self image.

First, I'd question whether anything about self-image can be called a
"proven fact"... but I digress...

Perhaps these people have a low self-image because there are people like
you telling them they're not good enough and not trying hard enough and
are losers that are worth nothing.

If we stopped treating the poor like shit, perhaps they wouldn't feel so
bad about themselves.

> In case you think I'm talking out the side of my mouth, I have been a
> recipient of food stamps and other forms of public assistance. But,
> unlike many of the folks I've met, I didn't want to stay on public
> assistance. I worked my tail off to climb out of the sewer and make my
> own way in life.

And now you're a corporate dependent instead of a state dependent.  Lucky

> > > > Um, no.  James Madison worked very hard to keep democracy out of the
> > > > Constitution because he didn't want to lose his wealth and power.  As he
> > > > said at the Convention, the purpose of government is "to protect the
> > > > opulent minority against the majority."
> > > That's one example.
> > One example of what?
> One example of how the framers felt. There are others.

This concept of "framers" is really very poor.  There was essentially
Madison's yes men and Hamilton's yes men and Madison won.

If Jefferson hadn't been shipped to Paris, it would have been a whole
different affair.

> The one you've held up (repeatedly) is the one that shows that some of
> the framers felt that a full on democracy would simply mean the loss of
> land ownership.

No, they fully recognized that the only purpose of government is to
enforce property relations and make sure the rich keep what they have and
the poor keep from having what they haven't.  It's not just about land,
though that was perhaps the most important commodity to control in that

> We've seen, throughout our short history, that as the population of
> voters increases, and more of the "majority" is represented, that he was
> right in some other of his statements.

Which other statements?

It's true that as democracy decreases, deregulation and private power is
increasing.  That's the story of the last twenty-five years of American
development.  And as a result, people work more for less and the rich get

Or are you simply saying that he's right about the purpose of government
because the rich have been getting richer as the government gains power
and becomes less beholden to the people as a whole?

> > > You use it every chance you get.
> > I think people forget it all the time.  It bears repeating.
> Do you understand the context? It's not a stand alone statement, and the
> context is important.

I do understand the context.  He was warning his fatcat friends against
doing the right thing by the people, else they would lose their fatcat
status and become unwashed masses.  It's a fine example of FUD.

> > > Until proven otherwise. I do just that. When someone proves (to MY
> > > satisfaction) that they are a complete idiot, I treat them as such.
> > And what did YOU do to prove to YOUR satisfaction that you're not a
> > complete idiot?
> The same thing you do to prove to YOURSELF that you aren't one.

I threw the term out and said that nobody is one.  I know that's not what
you did.

> > It's a meaningless standard.
> Again, it's the only one we each have.

Then why measure at all?

> The village idiot does not think of himself as an idiot.

Well, if he thought of nobody as an idiot, perhaps he's not an idiot at

     Jeme A Brelin
    jeme at brelin.net
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