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inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #51 of 91: Low and popular (rik) Mon 18 Dec 06 12:45
    
You're joking, right?

In a perfect world, Feingold would be my candidate.    And I think the
Rovians in the GOP would have a hard time roiling up the anti-semites in the
christian community after the rapprochement of the last 6 years.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #52 of 91: Michael Zentner (mz) Mon 18 Dec 06 12:50
    
In a perfect world, Elliot Abrams would have been executed for crimes
against humanity.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #53 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Mon 18 Dec 06 13:30
    
Well, now that Gates has taken over, Abrams would fit right in. They
could reminisce about their good old Iran-Contra days, and ace reporter
Oliver North could cover it all for his Fox News program, War Stories.
John Kerry could re-grow the backbone he showed in 1989 with his
report on North et al's links to drug trafficking -

(It would almost be funny if it weren’t so close to the truth.)

That was an interesting statement, Jamais: "I don't have the stomach
for compromise in a time when the world is falling apart." Begs an
important question for all of us right now - without compromising and
playing nice, what changes MUST happen over the next two years?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #54 of 91: Low and popular (rik) Mon 18 Dec 06 13:51
    
Restoration of Congressional oversight of the executive, and restoration of
habeus corpus.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #55 of 91: Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 18 Dec 06 13:58
    
Gah, Elliot Abrams was a mistaken reference. I meant Eliot Spitzer.

That was a heck of a brain-o.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #56 of 91: Low and popular (rik) Mon 18 Dec 06 14:38
    
I thought it must be a mistake.   I know you better than that.

A third thing would be legislation to override Executive Order 13233, by
which Bush overruled the FOIA and sealed, among others, the presidential
records of Reagan and Bush I.   I don't know if that's possible, but I sure
would like a loud, public debate about why the American people shouldn't
know what their leaders have done.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #57 of 91: Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Mon 18 Dec 06 14:43
    
Any program or principles or positions in the handbook beyond getting
rid of the devils and finding a savior?  
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #58 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Mon 18 Dec 06 22:20
    
Great ideas. Executive Order 13233 outraged me too, especially given
the complete lack of public awareness or debate. Agreed on restoration
of Congressional oversight and habeus corpus as well, and in addition
to everything else, I'd like to immediately give more funding to the
Hubble.

The only "savior" advocated in The Progressives' Handbooks is the
people themselves. The books take the perspective that the "devil" is
lack of understanding of the cohesive impact of the rollbacks, how
various weapons programs under Bush are a direct result of his
administration's foreign policy, and how all that impacts education and
the environment, for example. It's nitty-gritty details left out of
normal news reporting, and then backed up with pages of targeted action
tips (how to locate WMD facilities in your area, confront war crimes
etc.). AlterNet called the books "part encyclopedia and part
self-defense manual."

Bottom line, the books advocate for an active citizenry and then
provide concrete tools to get past the talk and into action. I'm
skeptical enough to believe that the only ones who can save us are
ourselves.

But back to the uncompromising changes that MUST take place in the
next two years. What would you like to see for foreign policy?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #59 of 91: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Tue 19 Dec 06 04:32
    
>What would you like to see for foreign policy?<


Since the world is a dynamic place, nations that presume leadership
roles such as the USA would do well to exemplify to the world what they
would like in the practical future.  The practical future, if there is
to be one worth living in, is, for better or worse, cosmopolitan.

This means large scale institutions (and some abuse by same),
diversity, tolerance, living among strangers, global trade, success and
failure, repugnant public utterances and displays, global policing and
abuse by police, etc. etc.. (I hope this is sufficient to suggest that
the cosmopolitan future is not a land of milk and honey.)

If the USA and other leading nations can demonstrate by ongoing
programs how to manage such large systems reasonably well, the rest of
the world might, I repeat might, go along instead of pursuing utopian
dreams and the misery that inevitably results from such pursuits. 

The above applies to the cultures of the nations that would be
leaders. The governments of such nations, as expressions of their
cultures, cannot be expected to remanufacture the culture. (It would be
extremely dangerous if they could.) They can clearly and consistently
express the issues and educate the people to the real world (if the
governments are willing to develop such knowledge). Above all the
governments should avoid any statement or action that give aid and
comfort to isolationist attitudes. This needs to be done even at the
threat of being voted out of office. 

Leading nations should strive to have relations at multiple levels
with all the nations, NGOs, cultures, religions, etc. of the world
under the concept that one needs to keep even troublesome entities
close so as to understand them better. Of course,one can be a more
effective leader if one claims no privilege one is not willing to grant
all others. 

Sharing leadership is another essential step. Others should be
encouraged to assume the duties as well as reaping the benefits of
leadership. This should extend into all areas including the difficult
work of diplomacy, famine relief, relief from oppressive regimes and
policing among others. 

The major sacrifices this will require of the citizens of these
leading countries will be to leave provincial, tribal, racial,
nationalist, xenophobic and jingoistic pleasures among others behind
and to do the hard work of becoming informed, an essential element to
be cosmopolitan.

BTW, I realize that "cosmopolitan" may be seen as a "style" or a
pejorative or a "sophistication" or utopian. If the above discussion
has not shown the use here, the wikipedia has a reasonably good
exposition. My only caveat is to discourage any pie-in-the-sky ideas.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #60 of 91: Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Tue 19 Dec 06 08:40
    
Here's a short piece I wrote on high-concept scenarios for the end of US
hegemony:

http://www.openthefuture.com/2006/11/a_posthegemonic_future.html

For me, that'll be one of the two major drivers dictating the course of US
foreign policy over the next few decades -- the other being, of course, the
ongoing climate disaster.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #61 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Tue 19 Dec 06 12:45
    
Wow, there's so much to chew on here, I don’t even know where to
start. I do a bit of consulting as a cross-cultural counselor, mainly
helping businesses do business with other countries, so have long been
fascinated by the concept of cosmopolitanism (thanks Cogito for the
description). Of course, it can be separated along moral, economic and
other grounds but I saw Cogito as making a distinction primarily with
nationalism, xenophobia etc. (correct me if I’m wrong). 

Enjoyed reading your piece also Jamais, and your assessment of
"arrogance; over-estimates of US power; belief in a kind of
exceptionalism" that lead to "the current inability of American
political thinkers to imagine what might lead to a post-hegemonic US."

Just one comment I'd like to add: Jamais mentioned the existence of
"sub-national and transnational civil society actors" with global
ambitions which can "by relying on the technologies, international
communication networks and financial systems built by states,
significantly alter the policies and behaviors of hegemonic nations." I
believe this today would not necessarily have to be 4GW
(fourth-generation warfare) but could be, in an acronym created here
and now, HELPS (Had Enough Longterm Peace Seekers) – any group with
members empowered enough to inspire themselves and others to
effectively fight back against the so-called military-industrial
complex. In short, the people themselves can fight against Bush & Co.'s
attempt at hegemony.

A primary unity I see between what Cogito and Jamais proposed is that
both HELPS and certain cosmopolitan approaches draw upon the idea of
fairness, equality and inclusive relationships both within and between
nations. Finding the "systempunkt" Jamais mentioned, or the point of
impact most effective in breaking down the current system and enabling
that change to occur is the key. My premise is that it involves the
informing and empowering of the American people, and quite frankly,
that is why I spent two years researching and writing The Progressives'
Handbooks. 

What ideas do YOU have regarding how that critical mass of awareness
can be reached, or do you think it involves empowering the people at
all? Perhaps (somehow) instituting a universalism form of
cosmopolitanism would do the trick or, in the eyes of some in the Bush
administration, just developing so much US WMD that absolute decline
becomes relative in terms of firepower.

Bottom line: given these compelling philosophical approaches, what
concrete foreign policy actions would you like to see the Bush
administration take in its final two years?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #62 of 91: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Tue 19 Dec 06 15:18
    
>what concrete foreign policy actions would you like to see the Bush
administration take in its final two years?<

1. Develop and frankly communicate the facts of the world to the
American people with the cooperation of the opposition party (like the
recent report on Iraq). Stick with the effort regardless of the sniping
by talk show hosts. Any time left over from this heroic and humbling
effort can be spent on:

2. Work closely with the far east, India and Europe to develop a
shared leadership based primarily on modeling open societies and
secondarily on fostering the same in the developing world. 

3. Stop thinking and talking about "winning" or "solving" anything (no
more "mission accomplished" grandstanding) and start thinking, 
talking about and doing the hard, thankless work of identifying and
managing the real world problems that will always be with us. 

4. Don't be afraid to leave some positive international groundwork
that the Democrats may be given credit for.

5. Read the book "Ethical Realism" and adapt appropriate aspects of
the Truman and Eisenhower administrations to current problems. 

6. Return to a sceptical (the traditional Republican) view of
nation-building realizing that nations grow from the bottom up not from
the top down. 

7. Don't smoke the same hashish you are peddling.  Better yet, neither
smoke nor peddle.    

 
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #63 of 91: Howard Berkey (howard) Tue 19 Dec 06 22:15
    
Putting on my interviewer hat for a second, I like the way this is going
and Heather seems a natural for the Well style of discussion, so I'm going
to sit back and let this go freeform for a while. 

Now, taking off my interviewer hat, you ask a really good question there.
As for what I'd like to see out of Bush foreign policy in the next two years, 
well, frankly I'd be happy if they just quit trying at all until someone 
competent takes over.  This *is* the "Axis of Evil" crowd we're talking 
about here.  The foreign policy decisions of this administration have been
nearly uniformly disastrous.  Take Afghanistan as an example.  It is perhaps
the one place where this administration actually started to do the right 
thing, had massive popular support, international backing, support of the
local population, and had the chance to pull off something truly meaningful.
Instead, in a truly astounding "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory"
maneuver, the effort in Afghanistan was sidelined for the dubious neocon
misadventure in Iraq.  Now there is serious talk of recognizing the Taliban 
again.  Amazing.  Clinton is correct, this administration cannot be trusted 
to run *anything* right.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #64 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 01:39
    
I loved the "Don't smoke the same hashish you are peddling" and "I'd
be happy if they just quit trying at all until someone competent takes
over" observations!

Enjoyed reading your ideas, Cogito. As a side note, the concept of
"modeling open societies" will be put to a test *within* the EU in
January 2007 when Romania joins the Union – a lot of opposition on the
ground. Couldn’t agree with you more on Afghanistan, Howard, although I
didn’t support the post-911 invasion. Seemed more like chest-beating
retribution and concern over Caspian Sea Basin pipeline deals than
anything else.

My own foreign policy wish list boils down to divesting the trappings
of empire and consolidating resources. Facing the impact of heavy
borrowing from Asia and preparing for if the region dumps untold
billions of dollar assets. Getting the troops out of Iraq and
Afghanistan, halting the building of permanent bases in Iraq and
dumping Baker’s ISG plan to privatize Iraq's oil. Once again honoring
international agreements on human rights and weapons proliferation and
cutting way back on the budget for US WMD. 

Those who lied us into Iraq need to be held accountable in the courts,
and Wolfowitz should be kicked out of the World Bank job. 

One of the areas in which I'd like to see the administration more
aggressive is Darfur - immediately increasing humanitarian aid and
pushing for an effective UN peacekeeping force, for starters. Another
is taking a less biased, more peace-focused approach to the
Israeli-Palestinian issue. 

Agreed, these changes would lead to a decline in US "power projection"
abroad, but could be both relative and short-term; besides the current
path is unsustainable. 

Anyway, there's my two cents. It seems that many in the administration
take the contradictory view that brute force will ensure US prosperity
in the future, which means more WMD and more empire building. I'm
watching developments in Iran carefully – the country's 
recently-announced plans to calculate oil revenue in euros rather than
dollars at the start of the next fiscal year, weighed against the
Pentagon's recently-announced plans to beef up US military presence
there, for example.

On the environmental front, another chapter in Volume 2 of The
Progressives' Handbook, not sure if you've heard the latest – as of
January 31 2007, the Forest Service will eliminate environmental
analysis from US forest master plans. Among other outrages, that means
that the impact of logging, off-road vehicles etc. on wildlife will no
longer be considered. Scandalous.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #65 of 91: Cupido, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Wed 20 Dec 06 06:20
    
>It seems that many in the administration take the contradictory view
that brute force will ensure US prosperity in the future, which means
more WMD and more empire building.<

I think this has broad support among the electorate although they
prefer to have it dressed up in nicer terms. Getting the electorate to
take a realistic view of the world and the future is a major challenge
since it requires that we put old paradigms away. 

Lincoln's words might apply: "The dogma of the quiet past is
inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with
difficulty and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, we
must act anew". 

Our "occasion" is much more than Iraq or terrorism or Bush or ?  It is
having a future worth living in i.e. a cosmopolitan world future. This
is a "hard work" future that requires that we relinquish the pleasures
of idealism as we relinquish the damage that idealism in all its
manifestations has done down through the ages. 

BTW, the new thinking and actions required will provide little
"thrill" and less "victory". 

Does the world have such politicians? Does the world have such people?
Does the world have such intellectuals and academics?  
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #66 of 91: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 06:24
    
My god.  I didn't know about that deadline. 
We may be "losing the war on Iraq" but the terrifying thing is that we are
really winning the war on nature at home.

The strip mining of the commons under the watch of these criminals has been
a cornerstone of our current economy.  That's terrifying on a lot of levels
when you think of sustainability and all things which take laws and
public spending to protect and sustain.  The gutting of the US
Forest Service is deeply indicative of our abandonment of the responsibilty
to protect the natural systems we forget we depend on.  The BLM and Park
Service have been assaulted too, in slightly different ways.  It's heart
breaking seeing how far Bush's regime has taken this, and just as
wrong-headed as Iraq. 

This, for me, is a reason to be willing to compromise, even though big
business Democrats cut some terrible deals and have been seduced into the
illusion of privatizing things we have always owned in common.  The lesser
of evils at least slows the bleeding.  

When I was a young activist, I listened with at least a little interest to
people who told me that if things got worse under Reagan it would spark
rebellion.  Suffering would lead to revolution.  However, the neocons have
been too smart for that wishful scenario, and they have us eating all
the seed corn so far as sustainable practices go.  

What do you see as effective organizing for this issue?  Any reason for
hope?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #67 of 91: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 06:29
    
Robert, this dovetails with the problem of pessimism around environmental
policy.  Fear and defeatism are a huge problem when you look at endangered
species and other irreplaceble elements of life on earth, but a pollyanna
approach doesn't seem to be terribly powerful either, in my experience.  

> new thinking and actions required will provide little "thrill" and 
> less "victory".
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #68 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 09:52
    
I'd like to reframe your excellent questions, Robert, and ask what can
be done to create a world in which politicians, intellectuals &
academics and "regular" people can be imbued with what you called "a
realistic view of the world" and "a future worth living." Your
thoughts?

Gail, I can tell you that the Environment chapter of Volume 2 of The
Progressives' Handbook was the hardest of the seven to write – I
consider myself well informed but had absolutely no idea about many of
the rollbacks that had occurred. They haven't been covered in
mainstream media and even the progressive media tends to bypass
environmental issues for sexier topics. I was shocked and frankly,
enraged.

One of the big problems is Bush’s stealthy appointees. For example,
you've got a former lobbyist for an extreme hunting association
(specializing in exotic animals) put in charge of protecting US
endangered species. You've got a prominent timber lobbyist appointed to
manage the nation’s 156 national forests. No wonder the rollbacks just
keep coming.

To answer your question, honestly, I wouldn't have written the books
if I didn't feel hopeful on some level. I believe that when people take
things personally, when they connect air pollution to their kids'
asthma, when they see the damage of mountain-top removal mining in
Appalachia, when they can’t eat tuna because of mercury contamination –
then they will to paraphrase Network, be mad as hell and decide not to
take it anymore. My hope is to limit the amount of damage that we
ultimately have to endure by getting some of this information out to
the public now.

Regarding effective organizing, I’m heartened by the slew of
environmental organizations out there, reenergized in the face of
cutbacks and rollbacks. Grist does great work, and I’m happy to see the
numerous “ecological footprint” sites (www.myfootprint.org, for ex.)
that have sprung up recently. It’s a start!

What do you think is the best way to reach hearts and minds about
environmental issues? What can be done in these critical next two
years?
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #69 of 91: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 10:23
    
I think since one of the things we can do on the web is to shine some
attention, and we can learn to do that in our lives offline too, we might
want to look at ways to reward good acts.  In a situation where anger is
deserved, we can reward creative expressions of anger.  That's sort of
a deep cultural backdrop, however, and something more immediate is
required.  

But to get those who have actual power in actual political structures 
to change...  we have to pressure the leadership of those agencies, 
and also change our government so those kinds of appointees are not
put at those cookie jars again.

We can only hope these appointees are selfish and ineffectual like
Brownie in New Orleans, but that in and of itself is not enough.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #70 of 91: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 11:18
    
For fun I like to make up fantasy ad campaigns --  do milk cartons
for missing trees and animals, perhaps.

Tagline:
    Ask your mom and dad what they are doing to save our
    beautiful land, air, water and wildlife.

No more unethical than "ask your mom for this cereal" kinds of things.

There used to be a magazine put out by radical US Forest Service
rangers, as I recall.  Maybe kick them a little year end donation and
some applause for hanging in the agency against all odds.
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #71 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 11:48
    
Great ideas, Gail! It's approaches like that which really hit home. 

"Creative expressions of anger" is interesting too, and I think can be
immediate. CODEPINK is one example of using effective "in your face"
techniques for causes. As for rewarding good acts, that also can be
immediate, campaigns to buy green, etc. I'm a fan of sites that let you
check up on your congressmembers' environmental voting records,
www.sierraclub.org/politics and www.lcv.org, for example.

I'm heartened by the unusual coalition of people willing to work
together on environmental issues – hunters and animal rights activists
both trying to protect forests, conservative religious groups working
with progressives to fight the administration's approach to global
warming, etc. 

So what would you like to see the 110th Congress do re. environmental
matters? I'd like to start by repealing a lot of the environmental
exemptions Bush et al. have given to the Defense Department. What's on
your wish list? 
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #72 of 91: Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Wed 20 Dec 06 12:06
    
Restoring funding to NASA's "mission to Earth" satellites and probes. The
scientific missions run by NASA have been incredibly successful, cost-
effective (the entire Spirit & Opportunity Mars rover project cost about the
same as a single shuttle launch), and extraordinarily valuable for pulling
together absolutely crucial information about the Earth and its geophysics,
including (especially) its climate. For me, that's the #1 priority, simply
because it's somewhat obscure (how many people think of NASA as being an
Earth-focused agency?) so is apt to get less activist attention.

In a larger sense, the across-the-board effort on the part of the
administration to shut down any and all programs that provide quantitative
measurements of environmental conditions is the most devastating of all of
the campaigns in the "War on Terra". That has to be stopped, and now.

(BTW, with regards to Afghanistan: I've followed the post-revolution history
of Afghanistan fairly closely -- I wrote my bachelor's honors thesis in
history on Afghan cycles of revolution -- and I pretty quickly came to the
conclusion that the post-9/11 invasion was justified. The Caspian pipeline
issue was a distraction -- it is not likely to be built or maintained any
time soon -- and the depredations of the Taliban against the Afghan people
was a seriously under-reported (pre-9/11) human rights disaster.)
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #73 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 14:16
    
Jamais, I'm right with you on restoring funding to NASA's "mission to
Earth" satellites and probes and reinstituting quantitative
measurements of environmental conditions. Cannot happen soon enough,
yet I doubt it will take place in the next two years.

Your thesis on "Afghan cycles of revolution" sounds fascinating (!)
and I respect the obvious scholarship you have in the area. I still
must admit though, that I don't think the invasion was justified. No
question that the Taliban were/are grotesque human rights abusers, but
I don't see how the Operation Enduring Freedom co-operation with the
Northern Alliance helped. Insufficient evidence linked bin Laden to the
911 attacks, and the former Pakistani Foreign Secretar's claim to have
been told by senior US officials back in July 2001 that a US attack
against Afghanistan would take place by October 2001 makes the invasion
seem even fishier.

Subsequent abuses by US/coalition forces haven't helped either, the
Dasht-i-Leili massacre for example. And if the US had really been
focused solely on human rights issues, then why simultaneously cozy up
to Uzbekistan?

Regarding the Caspian issue, Cheney and others were saying back in the
late 90s how important a Caspian pipeline would be, and subsequent
reports/actions raise alarm bells for me. Way too much to go into here,
but a quick google search found this:
http://www.thedebate.org/thedebate/afghanistan.asp
Some good links.

My main problem with the invasion of Afghanistan, however, was the
same I had with the invasion of Iraq – where is the evidence linking
the supposed perpetrator to the crime? 

These questions take on urgent meaning for me now, given the march to
war with Iran. Déjà vu all over again if we're not careful.

Anyway, once again, there's my two (late-night) cents. Really enjoying
this chance to join the lively exchange of ideas on Inkwell!
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #74 of 91: Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Thu 21 Dec 06 09:39
    
Here's a short plug: if you'd like to listen to a 30-minute Talk
Nation Radio (www.talknationradio.com)interview from yesterday on many
of the topics discussed here, then here are some options:
Download as 128 Mp3 file at
http://www.audioport.org/index.php?op=program-info&program_id=9067&nav=type&se
ssion=255dcc28776e5ac1dca35ec6441f697d&;
Faster download as a 96 Mp3
http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=20999

The fabulous Dori Smith at Pacifica Affiliate WHUS
(http://www.whus.org) at the University of Connecticut in Storrs,
Connecticut is both the producer and interviewer, and we discuss "the
latest trend toward a military build up in the Middle East, current
political affairs, the need for an immediate increase in political
activism in America to stave off wider war and other topics."
  
inkwell.vue.288 : Heather Wokusch, The Progressive's Handbook
permalink #75 of 91: Cogito? (robertflink) Thu 21 Dec 06 14:00
    
>I'd like to reframe your excellent questions, Robert, and ask what
can be done to create a world in which politicians, intellectuals &
academics and "regular" people can be imbued with what you called "a
realistic view of the world" and "a future worth living." Your
thoughts?<

For openers we should be very realistic about the characteristics of
our raw material in this case humans. There is a strong indication from
history that people will choose to live in a fool's paradise if given
the option. Since "realistic" may be fashionable, they will consider
themselves "realistic" if they are slightly better than those in lala
land. Regarding "imbuing" some would say that holy writ of various
kinds shows that almighty God has made many attempts at imbuing with
very modest results. 

In any event, we need to understand the raw material. There may be
gold in there somewhere but little has come to light in recorded
history. Further, we probably need to have enough for critical mass. 
Perhaps critical mass was approached when the Federalist Papers were
written. Certainly a realistic assessment of human proclivities was
made there. Any effort would gain by a carefully reading and
contemplation of the Federalist Papers (available online, BTW).
  

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