. . . one can discover an area within which the seemingly irreconcilable "opposites" of "religion" and "reason" can dissolve into a kind of interrelatedness that is integrative, rather than divisive, of the qualities that are conducive to life. So informed, life takes on a deeper spiritual dimension than can be found in the well-memorized doctrines and dogmas that accompany the fragmented and isolated pursuit of understanding.What's wrong with absolutism? As Shaffer explains, this sense of moral absolutism gives way paradoxically to a totally amoral worldview, which makes it all-too-easy to justify immoral behavior, as was done during the Cold War and is being done today under the cover of the War on Terra:
A willingness to explore this interrelatedness of apparent opposites does not involve a weakening of either approach to learning about ourselves: on the contrary, in allowing us to see beyond the limited boundaries set by our dualistic thinking, we are able to gain an enhanced sense of who we are.
We live in a world in which people find it increasingly easy to rationalize all kinds of torture, butchery, despotism, and theft against others. As we have seen, there are secular and religious voices alike prepared to lend their sanction to such dehumanized behavior. We live in a world in which, to borrow from Cole Porter, "anything goes." There appear to be no depths of absurdity to which statists are unprepared to go in testing the foolishness of Boobus Americanus.And, of course, the root of the problem lies in our own weaknesses as a species, on which the greedy bastards are all-too-willing to prey . . .
Politics could not survive without our largely unconscious willingness to project fears of our own dishonesty, violence, laziness, bigotry, greed, irresponsibility, or other self-doubts, onto others, against whom the state promises to act.The appeal of the comic-book RedThink narrative is spelled out:
Whether we are projecting positive or negative traits about ourselves onto others, we are rejecting our personal sense of self. In so doing, we take ourselves out of the world as actors, and content ourselves with being spectators at a show scripted in our own minds from "heroes" and "villains" of our casting.Best of all, Shaffer also offers us something in the way of a solution, along the standard libertarian lines:
A person who regards himself or herself as capable of generating the values for living well, will be disinclined to call upon the state for such purposes. Likewise, one who acknowledges and accepts his or her "dark side" is less disposed to act upon such traits and, as Jung informs us in his work on "individuation," less likely to become part of the "mass-mindedness" that statists find so easy to mobilize through the use of fear.Indeed, a sense of personal empowerment -- a sense of control over and responsibility for one's own destiny -- is alien to both core messages of the Duopoly. On the right we have people telling us we must give up our freedom as individuals or be destroyed, and on the left we are told that we can never reach our full potential without a hand up. It's easy to guess which position I consider more destructive, but neither position is particularly appealing.
This is why the parties need each other to keep the flock in line -- the illusion of genuine choice and reality of aristocratic rule is preserved by the presentation of an extremely narrow range of options, while in reality both "real" candidates in a general election are usually so indebted to some monied interest or another that the only real consequence of an election is to determine which subset of the aristocracy is going to gain a temporary advantage over its rivals. The potential impact of elections is further mitigated by a system deliberately organized so as to resist radical change (which is not inherently bad, as the bureaucratic antibodies now at work on the neocon infection are demonstrating), because the whole point of the state is to preserve the status quo, however corrupt or corrupting it might become. The system we have in place evolved to respond to democratic political movements in an orderly fashion -- to defuse such movements by whatever means are the most convenient, whether that may be a token appeasement, a handy scapegoat, or a political assassination.
Before I descend any further into rambling, read Shaffer's article.