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The basic issue is caste defined as the absence of personal responsibility and freedom from consequences.

That has been the default case of governance since, at least, the development of settled agriculture.  But it has usually been wrapped in religious justifications. It is what Voltaire meant when he said "Religion began when the first Priest duped the first peasant."

Regardless of the ideological justification, that behavior is the one at least 80% of the people expect, based on long experience.  That expectation is written into their brains and, so long as there is a credible "external threat" and/or their situation is not totally intolerable, they actually find comfort in familiarity.  Pathetic but true.  Our social abilities are closer to those of ants than most will believe.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 10:50:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's still wrapped in religious justifications. They just use 'freedom' and 'the invisible hand' as abstractions instead of some old guy with a beard and a bad temper.

ARGeezer:

Regardless of the ideological justification, that behavior is the one at least 80% of the people expect, based on long experience.

And yet - for a short while at least, we had something which looked like a participatory democracy. Up to a point.

That's still there as an ideal, and it's not going to go away.

Humans are truly wretchedly limited when it comes to political strategy, and it's easy for the amoral and immoral to prey on that.

But education can shift that. Even if royalty is replaced by trashy celebrity, and everyone gets their fifteen minutes, that's still an improvement on total war, total top-down control, and total bankruptcy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 10:56:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was a point in my earlier comment on this thread:
The other big obstacle is the degree to which the neo-classical mythos has been written into the brains of so many of our populations.  Given over 30 years of repetition and conditioning and the extent of biblical world views I wouldn't be surprised if >50% actually think that "The Invisible Hand" is "The Left Hand of God."  Half or more of such folks would rather believe that the present financial crisis is all an evil plot of the Democrats, even if the Democrats didn't have a black man as their presidential candidate.

I also believe that education can help.  That is another reason I support any and all direct aid to students in higher education.  But a purely technical education won't help.  The core humanities and social sciences requirements are vital, but not necessarily sufficient.  

Too many students are able to compartmentalize their thinking and emerge as "bi-conceptuals," who apply rational analysis to the area of their core competence, but retain more traditional world views in the rest of their lives.  I know a very able PhD in physics who teaches Sunday school, holds to the "old time religion" and votes Republican.  Naturally, he works in the "defense industry."  They can be very certain of his "values" and of the appropriateness of his security clearance level.

The remaining problem is the workplace, which, especially in small companies, is the most un-democratic place in society.  Workplace attitudes constrain the thinking of too many.  I speak from experience.  Either you shut up and go along or you take on 80% of your co-workers, including supervisors.  I had the Director of Operations of my company say to me:

"Things just work better when one person says what to do and everyone else follows his lead, don't you think?"

I disagreed and had a very hard time getting everything I designed built and installed.  He was one of four partners in a very successful contracting company and was very good at getting everyone moving in the same direction.  It was my sad duty at times to point out that, if they didn't change direction, they might all go over a cliff.  Fortunately, I had the support of two of the four.

Once we were sending out batteries for installation in an emergency power backup system.  The batteries were of the lead acid type.  I suggested that he send out some baking soda with the delivery.  He asked me why!  The knucklehead apparently  never took chemistry in high school.  I was in engineering.  People who were his hire didn't dare question him as I did.  Many just adopted the attitude that this was the way things ought to be.  Guess it made it easy for them.  Didn't work for me.    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 01:50:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are obviously going to have the same problems of confusion with 'knucklehead' as we have with 'someone' ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 01:52:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess we all will just have to improve our abilities of garnering meaning from context.  I have deliberately used "someone" in both senses simultaneously, but not, as yet, "knucklehead."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 01:56:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Sep 19th, 2008 at 02:00:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I did take chemistry in high school. Not only that, but I also took chemicals. I don`t know about 'lead', but the 'acid' was cool.
'Baking soda' floated the submarines from the cereal box. It`s all good though.

The difference between theists and atheists is that the atheists don't set the theists on fire for refusing to agree with them.
by Knucklehead on Sat Sep 20th, 2008 at 12:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Knucklehead:
Actually I did take chemistry in high school. Not only that, but I also took chemicals.

lol... maybe they took you too!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Sep 20th, 2008 at 01:40:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And what a long strange trip it`s been.
It`s been melo though, & I keep a photographic journal of it all.

The difference between theists and atheists is that the atheists don't set the theists on fire for refusing to agree with them.
by Knucklehead on Sat Sep 20th, 2008 at 02:12:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Religion has, in the 20th century, been replaced with Ideology. Market Fundamentalism is the ideology of the last 30 years.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 21st, 2008 at 08:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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