Posts Tagged ‘Freedom’

Analysis Goes Way Back In The Way Back Machine

June 18, 2017

“Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited, and obtainable goals. The term masses applies only where we deal with people who either because of sheer numbers, or indifference, or a combination of both, cannot be integrated into any organization based on common interest, into political parties or municipal governments or professional organizations or trade unions. Potentially, they exist in every country and form the majority of those large numbers of neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to the polls.

It was characteristic of the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and of the Communist movements in Europe after 1930 that they recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who never before had appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been “spoiled” by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the power of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with other parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

pg.311-312, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, 1951

Living Does Matter

January 21, 2015

Another day, another council meeting, another big crowd. What brings people out? Occasionally past Newark City Council meetings have drawn some numbers over issues like substandard housing, absence of public transportation, or children’s welfare. What is it about pets that mobilizes such a multitude? True, they are considered children with fur coats by many, just another part of the family. The passion with which people have come together over how their critters are defined, identified, and treated appears to be unrivalled. Analysis wouldn’t anticipate such a response if Council were to consider the diet of Newark’s youth, their living conditions, or what they do after school lets out. These same parents of children in fur coats would not be incensed if their natural born offspring, not covered in fur, were detained for trespassing on a neighbor’s property or were identified as troublemakers for “hanging out” on the street or at the mall. After all, young people are required to learn the rules, respect private property, and know better. It is de rigueur for being an American. But pets – not so much. Analysis shows this passionate response to be one of freedom. Put crassly, “You can tell me what to do but don’t tell my fur clad kid what to do.” It differs markedly from the cold logic of gun ownership that simply concerns itself with what can be owned by a single individual. That thinking is akin to the “rights” of hoarders to accumulate as much stuff as possible. It’s a capitalist “thing”. But with pets it’s different. The pet is a “thing” of nature, not so much a thing but a living creature. A living creature has the capacity to do, uniquely and unpredictably. We’re not talking about pet rocks here. Living creatures engage in spontaneous interactions as well as develop natural relations with other living creatures without regard for the prescriptions, efficiencies, and restrictions of the economy. A natural creature doesn’t “know better”, will never “learn” the rules (of nature or the market), and certainly has no notion of what fences are all about. This freedom gives those with fur clad buddies great pleasure. Could it be that what generates this joy makes up for a lack that is unacknowledged but acquiesced? Maybe there’s something we could learn from all this. Living does matter.