Saturday, March 24, 2012

Political Caucuses Tilting at Free Will

The St. Charles Caucus made the news last week, but it was hardly the only one to go bad in Missouri. Personally, I despise everything about a caucus, it is blatantly open to manipulation - it's entire purpose is to manipulate caucus goers into aligning themselves for one candidate or another.  A caucus banishes the possibility of what the privacy of the ballot box guarantees - the ability to cast your vote as you choose.

The political expression of, and protection of, individual Free Will, which our society is then moved and formed by. Far too little is said of that astounding concept.

And it is trampled, in public, by the very structure of a caucus. I did not go to the St. Charles 'Raucus Caucus', because I have no intention of standing up for whichever politician I manage to convince myself that I dislike least, which of course has the adverse affect of strengthening the position of those I like even less.

A caucus is a way of manipulating the actions of voters to reflect the will of those who are best at manipulation. And this post on the Jefferson County Tea Party site, by someone going by the moniker of WrongOnRed, "Central Committee Hijack- Contrary Caucus View" gives an excellent description of similar goings on in the Jefferson County caucus, and videos as well, of people engaged in, with the best of intentions, I'm sure, of manipulating political power to impose their will, unseen (they hoped) upon their fellows - for the greater good, no doubt.

But even better than the political blow-by-blow, he goes deeper towards the true issues involved, including this passage,
I say all this to lay a foundation for what I am about to say. I have always been intrigued and drawn to the concept of  “Free Will” in Christian Scholarship and Theology, but only in the last 2 years, have I come to realize and internalize that  “Free Will” of which St. Thomas wrote and “Liberty” of which Dr. Paul writes and speaks are actually the same thing."
Leaving aside the Ron Paul issue for the moment, Free Will is more than liberty, liberty is the political condition that is conducive to exercising your Free Will, without impeding others from doing the same. But Free Will is much more than that, Free Will is the seat of You in life, it is how you are able to live as a human being, human life, rationality, reason, love, morality, Right & Wrong, would vanish without Free Will - or the ability to exercise it.

We perceive reality, we see what is and in so doing we have our first choice to make - to acknowledge and respect reality, conforming our will to what is true 'Nature to be commanded must be obeyed'; or to deny it, choosing to attempt to impose our will upon it, freely choosing to lie to ourselves and everyone else. Every child at some point chooses to use the magical power of words to lie about reality in order to get what they want, some never learn how harmful that is, to choose to pursue Power instead of Truth.

Every person in exercising their Free Will has a central choice to make, whether to choose based upon reality and truth, or upon what we wish were true. The first is the path of truth, virtue, morality, and that is the path upon which you can choose to pursue happiness.

The other choice is to reject reality where it conflicts with what you wish it were, in order to make your will more real than reality, that is the path of power and it knows and can know nothing of truth, virtue or morality, and it pursues nothing, it is in perpetual flight from reality, and it will never, ever, know happiness.

A life where you were not free to exercise your Free Will, would be inhuman. Those points in your life where you must make a decision, nearly every second (pay attention some time, count 'em), are those moments where your life is you in action - you are never as much actively in your life as at those moments when you choose, and what follows from your choices is a life created by you - one worth living because by your nature you created it.

When someone prevents you from making your own choices for your own life, they do much more than perhaps violate laws, they forcibly remove you from those points in your life where life is lived, and insert themselves in your place in your own life - they are hijacking your life... forcing you into the passenger seat of your own life, bound & gagged, unable to steer your own course, no longer free to live your own life, staring out the windows with no idea or clue as to where you are going.

There's an evil there that makes zombie movies look cute.

A 'human being' without Free Will, would be nothing but a robot bouncing off of obstacles in a pin ball machine. The secret to the Left is that, beginning with Rousseau, that is what they believe, that you do not have Free Will, that your actions are not chosen by you within your life, but are necessarily determined by outside events. In modern philosophy, which is to say Leftism, you simply react to outside events, and 'happiness' is nothing more than a pleasing arrangement of bumpers and with flippers padded to make the least jarring impact to the robots zooming around within the game. The entire purpose of the Leftist State is to replace those moments where you would exercise your Free Will, with their state imposed bumpers and flippers, directing your life from without.


But there is a danger in exercising your Free Will that no one ever escapes, left, right or center, the left simply is more explicitly in favor of it than the rest, and that is separating yourself from reality by saying that 'the ends justify the means', that it is OK to exert your power over others, because in the end, it'll all work out for the best.

If you read or watched The Lord of the Rings, Sauron's ring, the Ring of Power, doesn't force itself upon people, it lures them, lures them with promises of being able to bring about the Good they seek to do, what they know would be best for all concerned. Gandalf and Galadriel see the temptation and turn away from it, knowing that True power comes from making choices, not imposing them... Boromir didn't, and he sucummed to it, even though he never wore Sauron's One Ring.

What "WrongOnRed" didn't mention, in his support of the Ron Paul people, is that they did the very same thing, he is so upset that Bryan Spencer did, as this from Brent Stafford, the person at the center of the St. Charles fiasco, makes clear:

Let me digress a moment. We had prepared very well ahead of time. I won't get into all of the details, but the Mitt Romney people agreed to support me for Chairman. This was an incredible vote of confidence in my ability to chair and to convene a fair process. I had also hire the President of the Missouri Association of Parliamentarians who I intended to appoint for that role. I never got that chance.
Eugene Dokes appointed the Creditials Committee, Rules Committee, and Parliamentarian. These are all appointments made by the elected Chairman, not the temporary Chair which is what Eugene Dokes was acting as. The body loudly booed and started making all kinds of points of order and other declarations of disgust at the blatant disregard for the proper process."

Power. It always looks good to those who seek it 'for the best of intentions'.

There are two videos in the post which show people, doubtlessly good, well intentioned people, seeking power over others, with the best of intentions.



WrongOnRed said...

Van, thank you for the discussion. I will return the long winded favor and will submit for your consideration.

I take your criticism, and agree to some extent, however, I mention Kant in my post with regard violating the Categorical Imperative and how doing so is a denial of both liberty and Free Will of the individual. I think of all the post-modern ethicists, Immanuel Kant is most misunderstood, because people see him in black and white and absolutes and consider his philosophy unyielding and inflexible (in such a way as you compare him to al Ghazali), while failing to properly account for the fact that if Free Will comes from God and the Divinity of the soul, it must be absolute, because if not since it is the work of a Creator, that you must then entertain the idea that the Creator is not "all powerful" as he has created something less than perfect, and by definition according to St. Thomas, God must be perfect, or he does not exist. That was his absolute, which I would argue was one of the major foundations in Kant's philosophy, though I will admit, that is personal speculation on my part.

As for "the Ron Paul" People. I led them for lack of a better word, and yes, I trained them for 4 weeks. I taught them on the rules, what to expect, and at every session, I told them without exception, no matter what they do, we will follow the rules, and we will be fair.

I am not on the Central Committee, and inf fact, in fairness, who chose a chair that while he supported us, was on the Central Committee, so he had all the incentive in the world to be fair, if not overly. Had I been chair, I would not have stood for any of it. Knowing this, I did not put myself in that position.

As for comparing the work I did and calling it "stacking the deck" with Brian Spencer and his admission, you fail to see or at least acknowledge a vital difference in the situations. We were solely grassroots, and we played by the rules. In a caucus, if you have the majority you win. It is not Upward Bound where we all get trophies.

What Brian Spencer did was illegal collusion in "rigging the game." No such thing was ever done by "the Ron Paul folks" in Jefferson County. It is the difference between playing poker and winning $1 Million Dollars by the rules and playing with a card up your sleeve in an attempt to do so. Very different matters, one is valid and the other is not. Seizing the majority in the room legally is the entire point. Equality of opportunity does not, and should not, lead to equality of outcome.

Spencer manipulated and violated the rules in an attempt to secure a favorable outcome, much the same as you will see in the coming week transpired in Jefferson County when the Central Committee stole the Credentials Rolls and held them hostage requesting a ransom of 50% of the delegates, and other counties in this state which will remain unnamed at the moment, where very similar events also occurred.

Thanks for the discussion!

Anonymous said...

My goodness. I guess reality really is subjective.

This really is a revolution.

I am humbled, as it was only a few short weeks ago I had a sense of helplessness and loneliness, where matters of virtue and morality (rubber) meet the road (politics). This ALL, changes everything.

Thank you.

freespeak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
freespeak said...

Bravo! Great Post!
And the manipulation continues to divide, which seems to be the purpose this year ( I can only claim my caucus attendance this year).
I found the caucus in J.County invigorating, for reasons I do not intend to express, due to nothing but argument with no end, in return!

Caucuses be damned...Establishment be damned!
Give us back that Primary!
And we MUST carry on TOGETHER to defeat the Medusa!/Leviathan!
I say, Grass Roots UNITE! and get off the toilet!
video from 2010:

Van Harvey said...

“I will return the long winded favor and will submit for your consideration.”

Ah, let the Trade Winds blow! I appreciate your coming by to comment and argue the issue. Last things first:

“It is the difference between playing poker and winning $1 Million Dollars by the rules and playing with a card up your sleeve in an attempt to do so.”

I don’t know the details of who did what at which caucus well enough to argue them, but I like your reference to a poker game, I think that sums it up well.

Whether one side or the other played poker ‘by the rules’ or stuck cards up their sleeves, or even whether or not one or both sides did a bit of both, I don’t know, it may even be that both simply played poker by the rules, but it seems that both sides were in deed playing poker for the pot of their fellow citizens votes. When what they should have been doing, if either actually cared about the Liberty they claimed to be all about promoting, was to simply engage in tallying up the voted choices freely cast by their fellow citizens.

As I said, I don’t much like caucuses, collectivizing the secret ballot into crowd control doesn’t strike me as something that’s likely to turn out too well, no matter what game is played. The Vote cast in the privacy of the ballot box, is the only proper way to discover what We The People truly chose of their own Free Will… the rest is just more or less elaborate methods of manipulating the collective will to the purposes of an influential few, and I don’t see how it changes the nature of the game if you put Republican or Libertarian, or anything else, in front of the process.

Van Harvey said...

No anonymous, reality is not subjective, Reality IS, and you have a choice to make. Whether to honestly appraise it and respond accordingly, objectively; or to pick and choose what you will acknowledge and what you won't, trying to spin impressions of it into something more flattering to your desires, aka:Subjectivism.

Your choice, and you are free to make it. You are not free, however, to pick and choose the consequences of your choices - Reality always has the last laugh.

Van Harvey said...

Patriotsoul, yep!

WrongOnRed, I've got a response coming to your comment about Kant, but I kant get my fingers to stop dancing... I hit 5 pages before I realized what hit me... as soon as I can pare it down to a comment - I will.


WrongOnRed said...

Maybe we need to sit down over a beer, or 12 and discuss, save your fingers the typing, it is too nice a day outside to type 5 pages of anything, especially on a dead 19th Century Ethicist and dead medieval philosophers, though I am most interested in your thoughts. Unfortunately, there are probably less than 100 folks in the area who know who Kant was, and many fewer who are even aware of what the First Categorical Imperative is and how it is applied.

Send me an e-mail mhay1204 (at) gmail (dot) com, and I will send you a copy of the my 3 page summary of the Jefferson County Caucus. It was the latter in the poker analogy, the violation of rules literally started even before the doors opened (the back ones, to the Santorum Suppoorters at 7am while those not on their slate were forced to wait, up front, until almost 9am), and that is the least of it.

Van Harvey said...

WrongOnRed said “Maybe we need to sit down over a beer, or 12 and discuss, save your fingers the typing, it is too nice a day outside to type 5 pages of anything”

That does sound good, I'll have to take you up on the beer... or twelve! But really, typing up 5 or 10 pages doesn’t take me more time than it takes 60wpm to fill them… writing less than 5 or 10 pages… that’s the time consuming part, and I think I've whittled it down to about two. But it’s not the 100 others who might have a glimmer of what I’m talking about that I do it for, but for me, and if any of those 100, or anyone else can find interest or value in it – and I’m silly enough to hopes so – that’s a plus. Every time I can come at such ideas from another angle or context, I get more out of them and I find myself… more firmly in my seat, so to speak.

But as it turns out I took your advice before seeing it, we had some lawn mowing and week pulling (dang Spring), enjoyed the deck with the wife, sprayed where the wasps are trying to build a new castle to attack me from (dang Spring), came inside with the kids, and now that they’ve moved on to silliness on TV, I’m back to it. And not because “…dead 19th Century Ethicist and dead medieval philosophers…” they are dead, but because they are alive, or at least undead, and whether known or unknown they still shape or trouble the world today.

Van Harvey said...

I’ve waffled back and forth on Kant, on what he did or didn’t intend by his philosophy, and while I don’t ascribe the degree of intentional evil to him that Ayn Rand did – that I reserve for Kant’s hero, Rousseau (who she and most others pay far too little attention to, IMHO) – still, his philosophy acted as he intended it to, it brought the Enlightenment to a close; as Moses Mendelssohn said of him, “He is the all-destroyer”.

But he couldn’t have done it alone. Descartes, innocently I think, introduced a split into the West’s conception of Reason and he legitimized the arbitrary through his ‘Method of Doubt’ and his Cogito ergo sum. Rousseau purposefully seized upon that in order to vent is foul spleen upon the world, turning men away from Reasoning towards the Good, the Beautiful and the True… and towards rationalizing downwards after the impulsive, the ‘natural’ and the ‘authentic’. Hume, also innocently, I think, turned men against their own senses and in so doing legitimized skepticism and cynicism. But as bad as their errors or intentions were, the West could still recover from them, as it had before with sophists and skeptics through the ages, but Kant introduced something no one had before, not just the sophistry of flattering your doubts and whims, but the appearance of an intellectual justification for them.

Kant, who I think secretly agreed with what Hume had to say, but wished ‘the people’ to think otherwise, constructed his elaborate convolution of philosophical appearances, in order to safeguard his own feeble beliefs (his “I found it necessary to destroy knowledge in order to preserve faith” has nearly succeeded in destroying both), from what would follow from Hume’s ideas, and in doing that, Kant provided the seemingly intellectual argument which the modern left has built its misosophy upon.

Not that his weighty tomes make real arguments, if you look closely you’ll find that he always ends in an unsupported assertion, but they were so long and intricately spun and he so convincingly claimed to have proven so much, that those who came after him could just say “Well, as Kant showed…” and most comers would yield the field to them, either assuming that what Kant claimed to have shown was actually there to see – it wasn’t, or because they were afraid of being seen to have not understood him themselves, but that’s beside the point. Kant enabled the unsupported fantasies and contradictions of the likes of Hegel to be taken seriously, and provided the rest of the material necessary for Marx to package and market it all as ‘scientific’, to the tune of hundreds of millions of lives being snuffed out, and still more doomed to abject misery – to date.

Van Harvey said...

Without going into his knowledge destroying epistemology, Kant reduced the deeply hierarchical structure of Ethics to a flattened statement, an imperative, which as the rest of modern philosophy which followed in his footsteps demonstrates, destroys ethics entirely. And it does so because he attempts to deal with concepts as if they were concrete percepts ‘of the noumenal’ which somehow mean something, but not much of anything, and which you just have to use as needed, or which it is somehow your duty to obey.

To accept the statements that must follow from his CI's, accomplishes what his epistemology began - it destroys your ability to know reality, or truth, or to care for either. IOW it does what my previous posts warned against allowing anyone to do, it introduces the arbitrary into thought, which is to say, it asserts Power over Reason and Truth.

It cannot be allowed, and you shouldn't argue it, that only furthers the arbitrary assertion and deepens its infection of your discussion and your mind.

But it doesn't hurt to point out what it relies upon. Take a look at the most common result of Kant's CI:
It is always wrong to lie.

He would like you to accept that, actually if you read him closely, he would like you to forcibly will yourself to accept that statement (Hello, Clue!), and what that accomplishes is that it smashes the distinctively Human method of understanding Reality, via conceptual knowledge, into a flattened set of statements little different than percepts, Lie -> bad; isn't far removed from: Hot, Cold.

But in accepting his CI, look at what he requires you to discard, namely that a Lie doesn't opperate in a vaccuum, but, in most contexts, within an ethical consideration of how someone should behave in order to be moral. What do those words mean:

Lie: a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.
Ethics: a system of moral principles:
Morality: conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.

Read as a human being should read it, not a Parrot or a computer, then, Lying, is purposefully conveying a misrepresentation of reality to someone who has a right to expect the full truth. If a person has no right to claim the information from you, it could be morally wrong to give someone information that could result in the improper injury or death or another, and if so, you are under no obligation to give it to him, it would in fact be unethical and immoral to do so.

This is stuff that Socrates dispensed with eons ago (such as in the beginning of the Republic), but Kant purports to impose that sophistry upon us all by force of will, in service to a mythical imperative that cannot be denied (or proved).

So, Kant says that, as a result of his Categorical Imperative, it is always wrong to tell a lie. Period. No matter the circumstances. That’s part of his basis for ethics and morality. What must such a thing mean in practice?

Van Harvey said...

Let’s say that a maniac comes to your door and says that “If your daughter is home, I need you to bring her to the door so that I can murder her, is she in?”

According to Kant, if you lie, and say “No, sorry, she just stepped out.”, then you are guilty of a sin – that no matter how sensible and understandable, according to Kantian ‘ethics’, you just committed a sin by telling a ‘lie’ to the maniacal murderer at your door.

Call me crazy, but if you can have a major ethical dilemma from having to choose between what is ethically Right to do, and giving your daughter over to a maniac, then you can be pretty well assured that there is a flaw somewhere in those premises.

What Kant’s ethics means is that Ethics has no real value for your life or for anyone else’s, it is in fact a threat to all you care about and value. One question that quickly comes to mind from such a thing, is how can you possibly hope to be Ethical and pursue Happiness?

The answer is, you Kant. And if ethics and philosophy teach you nothing of use in such pursuits… why bother with such a thing? If that’s the measure of Wisdom, why would anyone love it? And the answer, easily visible by the likelihood that only 100 people in our area have ever heard of Kant, is that No one would, and no one does anymore.

And despite Kant’s assertion that you can somehow ‘just know’ (Will) that his categorical imperative is true, if you give it reasoned consideration, it is quite obvious that it is not only false, but verges on evil. But to be able to say that… would have required you to abide by the Reality that his epistemology already had you discard before arriving at his Imperatives.

Bad luck for you… and the West.

His CI's reduce what should be incredibly deep conceptual structures, two pinnacles of which are ‘lie’ and ‘wrong’, to one dimensional perceptual statements, it trades such concepts as Aristotle would introduce you to, for the equivalents of ‘Hot’ and ‘Cold’.

Kant’s imperative accomplishes the feat of turning morality into a threat to anyone seeking to live a good life, it turns morality into an evil, rather than what it truly is, the means of living a good life. Misleading a maniac from your door, THAT is not unethical or immoral, and following a system which claims it is, can result only in rampant immorality and the abandoning of Ethics in general.

Again, look around - the world we see today, is Kant writ large.
(enough already)

freespeak said...

Man. it's been a long time since I read those dudes!
It was reading them that made me search further, THAT"s for sure.
I wish I could have 12 beers. but I'd never stop! lol.

WrongOnRed said...

Thanks for your thoughts Van, very insightful. This week's schedule has not allowed me the necessary time to read and read, to properly digest and respond. I just did not want you to think they have gone unread. I think you are a bit hard on Kant, but fully take on board your objection and criticism, because you are indeed correct that Kant completely disregarded situational ethics and as a result, the application of the First Categorical Imperative is impractical in reality.

Van Harvey said...

Sorry for the lack of response, a long and busy month this week has been!... hopefully I'll be able to catch up in the next few days.