RIDING THE WAVES WITH JOHN LOCKE AND THE FOUNDING FATHERS

THEATRE thesis: In spite of my hopes and all that I’ve done, my greatest fear, has become my destiny. But even if  it becomes law of the land and establishes a new world order, I am determined to….
John Locke Founding Fathers

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The Final Frontier
by Ignorant Intelligence

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TAG AN ANTHOLOGY VOL II
developed by Kendall F. Person
produced by The Neighborhood

Ed. I – Politics
Riding the Waves with
John Locke and the Founding Fathers
by Perry Casilio, Politics and Economics

Perry CasilioSince I grew up near the shores of Lake Ontario, I’m used to large bodies of water. As a Great Lake, Lake Ontario gives the illusion of being an ocean since it’s difficult to see across. Interestingly, when I moved to Oregon at 19, I found the mighty Pacific Ocean impressed me in the same way as Lake Ontario. One of the magical things in life is when the sun sets on a large body of water. The point where the sun and the water’s horizon meet has inspired mankind for centuries. Over the years, sunsets over both Lake Ontario and the Pacific have enchanted me.

Today, I come to the shores of the mighty Pacific and am feeling something different than usual. Instead of being caught up in reverie at the timeless aspect of water and how it connects us, I find myself reflecting on the current political struggles bedeviling mankind. As I walk into the water, with strong waves and wind creating decibels of sound, I begin muttering to myself…”why?” Why is it that mankind seems entranced with high levels of self-inflicted conflict?

Suddenly, on this sparsely inhabited Oregon beach I realize I can actually scream “why” at a high level without being heard by anyone. Much like someone singing in their car without being heard, a wry smile comes across my face as I scream “why” into the Pacific. After screaming into the ocean, I look out to see a mirage-like image of the water and sky meeting to become one. How surreal…

Although my family and fellow beachcombers are only a few hundred feet away, I feel alone with the ocean. After screaming “why” several times, I start screaming “what” into the Pacific. When I turn around again I realize that nobody is paying attention to me. Suddenly, I realize I can scream to my heart’s content without being heard. Still thinking about politics, I scream out “What Would John Locke & The Founding Fathers Think Of America Today?” I scream it several more times till exhausted. As the warm summer sun offsets the cool Oregon ocean, I take a few more steps out into the water and am suddenly engulfed by a wave that goes over my head and knocks me off my feet.

After balancing myself, I stand with the Pacific up to my neck and realize that if John Locke and The Founding Fathers could see America today, they wouldn’t be totally disenchanted. After all, the English philosopher Locke, who influenced the Founding Fathers, realized that mankind was not perfect and probably would never be. Since Locke lived through revolution in England in the 1600’s, he knew that harmony in mankind was a fragile concept. Likewise, the Founding Fathers would also realize that some of today’s political problems were understandable.

However…the more I bobbed about in the Pacific waves, the more I realized that John Locke and The Founding Fathers could be concerned with America today. What could concern them is the fact that vigorous debate of the issues has often been replaced by political adversaries merely “calling out and shouting down” their opposition in an attempt to intimidate and limit debate. As a result of this process, the concept of free speech is under assault in today’s America. Whether one attributes this to social media, the 24-7 news cycle and it’s need for controversy, or the lifting of the Fairness Doctrine for media, it goes without saying that our political noise and anger level is so high now many predict societal breakdown as a result.

Unfortunately, the concept of checks and balances that Locke and The Founding Fathers advocated is being replaced in America by the dubious concept of “the political ends justifying the means.” Therefore, sheer political noise and intimidation is being used to achieve political victories maybe more than ever before. As many remember, political victories in the past often were won mostly on the strength of ideas.

As I stared at the sun while bobbing in the Pacific, I vowed to honor Locke and The Founding Fathers by working to create a climate where the power of political ideas could come to the fore again. After I made my vow, I closed my eyes and floated on my back. After floating for several moments, the waves seemed to calm down a bit. At this point, a smile came across my face as I basked in the sun…

this is…. The Neighborhood 



VOL II TAG

15 comments

  1. It is most bizarre that the outrage of the “Occupy” movements of a few years ago and then the last election cycle, when the 1%/99% dichotomy was sharply defined, has descended into petty squabbling amongst the 99% with the 1% safely above the fray once again.

    Not fearing a stampede, it’s quite the strategy to keep the sheep distracted while the wolves pick off their prey and enjoy the good life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So correct PJ!

      It’s amazing how these things sometimes work out. And yes, the petty squabbling amongst the many can and does obscure all of us from the hard work of actually defining better policies. If we can rise above the squabbling and agree on some apparent truths, we can actually get things done.

      After all, what most of us really want is to ensure a system that provides incentives for hard work, a strong measure of true freedom, a respect for apparent truth, and a strong nod towards equality of opportunity.

      Like

  2. Hi Perry – always interesting topics, provoking thoughtful focus on the issues. Thanks….

    Locke is a giant in Liberal thought, identifying the individual as the only real player in society, supported by our natural rights preceding any societal construct. But all really only theory until one lands on the concreteness of the inviolatability of private property as the means by which we all can retain our liberties and freedoms, and without which we fall into the the traps of despotism.
    The Founders tried to instill into our social contract, the Constitution, these ideals but had to work within the constraints of many competing interests. They did a fairly good job but never explicitly declared the property issue, allowing for hazy language fully corrupted over the years by greedy power seekers.
    They, and Locke, would be appalled with the current weak property guarantees we are being tyranized under these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year PJ and great to hear from you again!

      Yes, the property issue is indeed a thorny one since it has so many connotations. Instead of looking to the truly liberating aspect of Locke’s idea that a commoner had a right to property, the concept of private property has become clouded with modern ideas that equate owning property with greed.

      PJ, you’re so correct to note that the ideas of Locke, although implemented in a kind of hazy way, have been instrumental not only for American history, but also for the history of democracies around the globe. After all, if it weren’t for the success of the American experiment in democracy, it’s fair to say that democracy would not be respected much as a governmental idea.

      And yes, the power of the individual to make important decisions about how they live has been aided by John Locke’s ideas on property rights. Although obviously corrupted, just imagine how different life would be without Locke advocating for the individual to have some control on how and where they live.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Perry, I love how you point out how our founding fathers had to persuade their piers based on the merits of their ideas. We just finished watching Jerry Seinfeld’s Netflix special and he makes the statement, “I didn’t care if people liked me, I just wanted them to like my material”. I think that is the mark of any creative artist isn’t it? And aren’t we in our creators image? What happen to that crown? Has the noble savage given way to the ignoble tycoon? Relative morals (The ends justify the means) have rendered Locke’s deontological morals as relics of a time long before television. Logic and reasoning are fossils. Sure they may stand the test of time, but their so old. Like their etched on stone tablets as commandments or something. Being reasoned and right isn’t stimulating enough.Morbid curiosity is the modern motivator. Constant dynamism is the new essence of creation. With algorithm driven high frequency trading, there is no need for perpetuity, only right now and a few seconds from now. If nothing else, mankind is embracing the present. The future is as you experienced it floating in the Pacific, imagining a better future. Our world is the cumulative sum of all of our dreams. If we all dream of a society that is egalitarian and just. If we all dream of a future that is sustainable and in harmony with nature, then it will be as we envision it. We need to look up from our divisive devises and see the possibilities are there, just as Locke and others imagined.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Happy New Year Tom and great to hear from you again!

      Fascinating points Tom! As you allude to, since algorithmic-based theories and practices are entering many areas of our lives, we’ve indeed entered an era where sheer numbers and repetition have become glorified.

      We see this algorithmic mindset in everything from the high-frequency trading you talk of, to the click-bait mindset that operates online whereby clever online teasers are setup to lure someone to click on a picture or story in an attempt to lead someone to see ads they may not have looked at otherwise.

      And yes, the logic and deontological morals of Locke’s mindset may seem quaint and almost silly by today’s standards. However…there’s something eternal to Locke’s ideals that we can’t escape no matter how hard we try. After all, sheer activity and numbers cannot replace the fact that society is the sum of millions of individual human souls that need a certain amount of respect. Without Locke, the respect for the individual would not be as strong.

      As you say, a certain amount of respect for equality of opportunity, along with respect for a sustainable lifestyle in harmony with nature, are both concepts that have proven the test of time. If we can remember that these ideas form our social foundation, then floating on our backs in the Pacific will be something to strive for in and of itself.

      Like

  4. Hi Perry (and Kendall and all in The Neighborhood). Yes, us vs them lines are sharper ever, and the default attitude is not “their reasoning is wrong” (as Locke might wish) but “they are evil morons.” Equivalence alert! This applies to my liberal and conservative friends alike, as even a cursory glance at Facebook will confirm. The good news: I post criticism of liberal and conservative positions, but when I post something that says the other side is NOT evil but potential friends we need to figure out how to work with, that we are all in this together, it always brings more “likes” than any of my left-or-right partisan posts. So although our voice is muted in the public sphere, where crying, screaming, and shaming drive the discourse, there IS a quiet hunger for a unifier to emerge.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Happy New Year Daedalus Lex!

      Daedalus, I applaud your efforts and agree there’s a quiet and intense need to move beyond the trivialities of Us vs Them. Interestingly, as you remember, there was a time not too long ago when many of us would debate more along the lines you talk of. Like you, I’m trying in my own way to reinvigorate that kind of discussion. After all, without it, democracy is for naught.

      Yes, I’d imagine that since Locke looked to democracy in the 1600’s as a way out of the intense dogma of the monarchies of his day, it was maybe hard for him and our Founding Fathers to even envision that the left-right divide of the future would spawn the type of dogma that rivals not only the monarchies of the past, but in some ways the dictatorships of today.

      Daedalus, you’re so right to debate issues and political positions instead of looking first to see if the issue or the one you’re debating is merely left vs right. If we could get back to issues more and realize there’s an overlap between left and right we could look more to the common good. And yes, you’re so correct to note that we could find potential friends with those we debate even if we disagree on particulars.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Great minds (i.e., your and mine) think alike 🙂 Although modern political parties were just starting to form in Locke’s day, I think you are right that he would not have anticipated them becoming as dogmatic and irrational as the dogma of church and monarchy they were presumably superseding.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thx Daedulus!

          Yeah…I agree that the search for absolute perfection can lead us into dogma politically. That’s why the search for a balance between opposites can often be difficult to achieve. The good news is that for people like us, the search for balance goes on. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

          • My role model in this regard is Obama. He could drive a liberal agenda on health care and environment and wealth inequality, but never fell for the dogmatism or divisiveness of identity politics liberals. He was a true Enlightenment liberal, with a belief in shared humanness and rationally determined universal rights. I believe he also eschewed perfectionism to try to bridge gaps and unify factions. That Obama, who I consider intrinsically a great unifier, could not overcome the forces of divisiveness (Left and Right) is a counterweight to the optimism I expressed in an earlier reply.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Daedulus…you’re so correct to note how Obama, especially in his 1st term, eschewed the intensity of the identity politics liberals. After all, the key to Obama’s ground-breaking win was his power as a unifier and his strong ability to reflect upon and get us to admit our shared humanness. His eloquence was unmatched in many areas. This gift was reflected in how he won areas of the electorate that Secretary Clinton later lost.

              Since I closely follow both sides politically from many sources, I did notice during Obama’s second term there were many instances when the right-wing felt quite blocked out rhetorically and legislatively. Alas, as you point out Daedulus, the forces of divisiveness are getting stronger all the time and even Obama couldn’t bridge the gap.

              Personally, and since I come from a journalistic family, I look to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine for media in 1987 as a turning point. After it’s repeal, there was no longer a need to present both sides of an issue. Nowadays, we’ve entered a subjective realm of journalism and allied media that sees no letting up in sight.

              In light of all this, let’s keep hoping and trying to be more rational. I applaud your efforts!

              Liked by 1 person

    • Happy New Year Kendall and you’re so welcome! Also, thx so much for the chance to appear on The Neighborhood! This type of blog is truly needed nowadays.

      Kendall, I do appreciate the way you try to create a chance for diverse dialogue to prosper. This dialogue is much needed. Hopefully, with more of us talking and listening, the powers to be will have no choice but to pause, listen, and implement policies in a way that’s much more constructive. When this truly positive change happens, we will then return to honoring the ideals that John Locke and The Founding Fathers put forward.

      Liked by 1 person

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