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Author Topic: Brief primer on Humanism  (Read 35629 times)

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Re: Brief primer on Humanism
« Reply #45 on: March 11, 2013, 08:19:36 AM »
We are a republic, true, but a republic, by definition, is a democracy, a representative one.

By definition, a republic is not a democracy. If the distinction is important to you, this might help. If the distinction is not important to you, then let's not have this discussion because I'm sure to piss you off and I'd rather never piss anyone off.

When I bag on the US for being what it is, my intent is simply to cast light upon what this place really fucking is, which until recently was exactly what it was designed to be right from the start. Recently, we've had traitors in the Congress and the Oval Office, elected representatives who are hostile to the Constitution and who have openly undermined it and continue to do so, but the sheeple are good with it so what the fuck. It doesn't matter at all what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence because the Declaration is not law. It was never law. It doesn't matter at all what the founders wrote or said unless it was made into law, and what the founders made into law was a rich man's constitution. The founders would be very supportive of Citizens United, because it is exactly what they had in mind when they denied the vote to all except wealthy landowners. The founders would be very supportive of the wealthy running the government because it is exactly what they created, and how they ran things themselves. The founders would be good with the Bill of Rights being dismantled, because they didn't really want it included. To believe otherwise, one must actually ignore history.

I'd be good with going back to the principles that guided the nation from FDR's New Deal through LBJ's Great Society, principles that were completely and openly at odds with the founders' vision. Principles that created a working middle class for the first time in all of human history, and gave us neat shit like 40 hour work weeks, Social Security, Medicare, collective bargaining, and all of that other liberal shit that the founders would have opposed. I could get fully behind abandoning the principles of the founders to get back on that course. And it would be 100% Dudely, since The Dude was a fucking socialist.

I agree that the term republic in the parlance of our times has little or no meaning.
People's Republic of China, United Soviet Socialist Republic, the Republic of Texas etc..
The important thing is that there were some ideals clearly enunciated in the foundations of the country.
The extent to which we embody them has been the key to our success.
The "Land of Opportunity".
The American Dream. The more real those ideas are the better we do.
And IMHO those are successful to the extent that everybody has a place at the table.
If things run their course and we end up with an oligarchy the plane hits the mountain.
Happens every time.

I'd don't agree with the most of the points in the link you've provided.
The chief characteristic and distinguishing feature of a Democracy is: Rule by Omnipotent Majority. In a Democracy, The Individual, and any group of Individuals composing any Minority, have no protection against the unlimited power of The Majority. It is a case of Majority-over-Man.

We have the constitution as protection against that.
Not all things are democratic.
A person running a business can't decide to have a water fountain for blacks.
And a town like wise can't have segregated schools etc.

In both the Direct type and the Representative type of Democracy, The Majority?s power is absolute and unlimited; its decisions are unappealable under the legal system established to give effect to this form of government.
I don't believe that at all.
In fact I think it's very clear that it is the majority's power that has co-opted the will of a powerful minority.

To me getting into a hair splitting thing about terms like Democracy or Republic doesn't serve anything IMO. There are those Ideals and then there is actual government. I believe that we have a representative democratically elected government and their powers are limited and delineated by a constitution and ongoing legislation.
No matter how you term it we are both types and neither. It's a scale not a type of car.
England, The US, all share commonalities and differ in other ways. It's simply impossible to put a hard and fast label on it. The best you can do is a generality and at the core are certain ideals and concepts.
The reality falls somewhere along the scale. Not 100% one side or the other.
To me the thing that was somewhat unique about the US is that we clearly stated the desire that government receives it's powers by the consent of the governed.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 08:46:56 AM by BikerDude »

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Re: Brief primer on Humanism
« Reply #46 on: March 11, 2013, 01:32:02 PM »
Republicans stand for greed, pollution, bigotry, and war. Democrats pretend to feel guilty about greed, pollution, bigotry, and war
- Jello Biafra

I'm totally down with insurrection in the street. I've had a great time with that over the years. Insurrection in the voting booth is the other part of the equation.
- Jello Biafra

« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 01:33:38 PM by BikerDude »

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Re: Brief primer on Humanism
« Reply #47 on: March 11, 2013, 02:00:28 PM »
We have the constitution as protection against that.

And a Supreme Court to uphold that constitution, which is why we have a federal constitutional republic and not a democracy.  ;)

To me getting into a hair splitting thing about terms like Democracy or Republic doesn't serve anything IMO.

But they're very helpful if you want to avoid the pitfalls that tend to get people all uptight and fucked up in their thinking. Misunderstandings about how things work lead to negative emotional responses when things we believe to be unlawful are done by our government, and can cause us to expend our energy in ways that cannot change anything. One of the beefs I hear all the time is "Our elected representatives are disregarding the will of the people!". Well no shit. There's no law requiring them to act in accordance with the will of the people. Our only recourse is to vote for someone else next time -- someone who still will not be obligated to consider the will of the people.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

The Declaration of Independence is not, never has been, and was never intended to be the law of the land, Dude. It's a nice statement and all, and expresses some high ideals, but it has as much force of law as does Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Or so says that rotten attorney of mine, Dr. Gonzo.
I'm just gone, man, totally fucking gone.


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Re: Brief primer on Humanism
« Reply #48 on: March 12, 2013, 08:43:46 AM »
I understand that our reps are not obliged to act on the will of their constituents.
But if they don't they run the risk of not be re-elected. And when we consider who we elect in their place wouldn't we start by evaluating how much they support the very premise that they SHOULD represent our will? I don't believe that they should be legally obliged to, but as a general principle I like to see that they at least believe in the principles.

Even if we get into the misguided course of confabulating the terms with the likewise named parties, neither can claim the constitution. The Democratic party was founded by Thomas Jefferson specifically to champion the bill of rights in opposition to the federalists. It was called Ironically the "Democratic Republican Party". It split in the 1820's to the Democrats (Jefferson et al) and most others became whigs.

Bottom line
I just don't think that you can get into a "this or that" view on these terms democracy or republic.
(It's the completely irrelevant fact that the political parties use those terms that confuses the entire debate.)
Republic is a more generic term than democracy IMO. They just aren't relative terms.
A republic is essentially anything without a monarch, but the complexion of that is a function of the AMOUNT of democracy. You can have a republic that is not democratic. You can't have a democracy that is not a republic. (Perhaps Athens around 500AD would be a "pure" democracy. In practice ALL work through elected representitives. But even athens qualifies as not having a monarch) North Korea is a self proclaimed Republic with zero democracy. Either way it's essentially hair splitting over terminology.

We are IMO a constitutional Democracy. And yes we are a republic also. They are not exclusive.

Just for reference the Merriam Webster definition of democracy and republic and constitutional democracy.

Definition of DEMOCRACY
a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b : a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
: a political unit that has a democratic government
capitalized : the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the United States <from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy ? C. M. Roberts>
: the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
: the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

Definition of REPUBLIC
a (1) : a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government
b (1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) : a political unit (as a nation) having such a form of government
c : a usually specified republican government of a political unit <the French Fourth Republic>
: a body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity <the republic of letters>
: a constituent political and territorial unit of the former nations of Czechoslovakia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or Yugoslavia

Main Entry:      constitutional democracy
Part of Speech:      n
Definition:      a system of government based on popular sovereignty in which the structures, powers, and limits of government are set forth in a constitution
Usage:      politics

A constitutional democracy has two essential ingredients, (1) a constitutional ingredient and (2) a democratic ingredient.

The Constitutional Ingredient. The constitutional ingredient of modern constitutional democracy is called "constitutionalism," or "constitutional government." This ingredient relates to how political authority is defined, limited, and distributed by law. Under constitutionalism, the Constitution, the basic law of the political community, (1) defines and limits the power of government and (2) determines the degree and manner of distribution of political authority among the major organs or parts of the government.

The Democratic Ingredient. The democratic ingredient of modern constitutional democracy is representative democracy and relates to (1) who holds and exercises political authority, (2) how political authority is acquired and retained, and (3) the significance of the latter as regards popular control and public accountability of those persons who hold and exercise political authority. In a representative democracy, (1) political authority--the power to make and enforce authoritative, binding decisions for and in the name of the entire political community--is held and exercised by the voters' elected representatives in the government and by officers appointed or succeeding to their positions of authority in accordance with the laws of the community, (2) political authority is acquired and retained either directly or indirectly as the result of victory in free and competitive elections, and (3) the voting citizenry, through participation in free and competitive elections held periodically, can effectively control their elected representatives and hold them responsible for the consequences of their exercise of governmental power as well as for the manner in which and the purposes for which they exercise that power.

« Last Edit: March 12, 2013, 02:52:42 PM by BikerDude »

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Re: Brief primer on Humanism
« Reply #49 on: July 18, 2015, 12:55:41 PM »
Interesting debate dudes !
I see Humanism as 3 things, it's just a perception of course, and with some differences of approach I guess cause I mostly don't know about American humanist culture. I hope it brings correct and useful ideas.

The 16th century founding movement called that way

Which is great as it is the positive response to middle age obscurantism moroness.
To me the humanist core is all about reducing ignorance and minoring believes based on false assumptions. The first intellectual act building humanism had to be looking backward to forgotten (or even forbidden and mostly destroyed) antic philosophers and scientists, it is an act of science prefiguring archaeology.
So to me humanism is about looking for knowledge and science.
It also a religious questioning, and history proves it : 16th humanism reformed a lot of religious believes. Because this is what science usually does when people believe non senses like "earth is flat and some thousand years old", "waters can be opened with a stick", "a virgin can be pregnant", etc. There's still work to do obviously... cause in front of classical humanism the obscurantism was fighting back. Often alive and strong during couple of centuries like the spanish inquisition.

Actual general word to put cool stuffs together
Which I personally use so it's made of opinions...

Trying to know things, as they are, have huge consequences upon how we understand everything : our place in the universe, what really is the history of humanity, existence and history of other life forms who were there long before us... and it remembers often we know just a few about the whole shit around us. Thanks to nature's reality humanism can be pretty positive for humans social life, with equality and pragmatism, cause well, we're all the same compared to the Universe reality and size : little ephemera dots on an infinite wall. Because of nature's reality humanism carries strong discourse defending human equality, scientific skepticism, agnosticism and develops being humble, open minded, cultivated, relativist, empathic/sympathic and many other positive attitudes.

A corrupted answer to everything

Humanism is screwed by its anthropocentric attitude. It's like a smart guy mainly thinking about his own white ass. Cause humanism has been build by white asses, that's how it is, and it had been used in order to facilitate white asses power upon "not that white" societies. Being an humanist and a self-centered asshole is possible. For example it happened to be humanist, none less than one of the great heroes of freedom and progress of a whole nation for centuries, and at same time owning and exploiting bunch of slaves.

Historically humanism is a perfect step for its place and time, when we knew a shit, like fuckin nothing up to burn women cause they were red haired and supposed to have enjoyed pagan sex under the full moon. Shit, who would not ? But it was just a step. Abiding our ass is not the center of the Universe, nor the center of this planet, is now quite a needed evolution. Like, in order to just survive.

Humanism is a part of something bigger. I would like to call it Universalism if it wasn't already taken by some fucked up philosophy. Now because of our actual knowledge and the ecological state of our planet, guys like Hubert Reeves or Francis Halle are 100% humanists telling how being anthropocentric leads to huge disasters. Beyond the global warming debate, there are no serious scientific to pretend humanity is actually not screwing the biodiversity quite enough to self destroy its fabulous ass. Cause that's pretty factual.

Humanism can be great for humanity peacemaking, but it shows its limits and to go further than human considerations, it asks to evolve into to something else. More BigBang centered maybe. But scientism isn't purely made of correct assumptions neither. There's nothing ending by ism that can be sure to not be wrong at some point, cause we're humans so failure is like, a natural pillar.

Something like that.
« Last Edit: July 18, 2015, 01:24:31 PM by Bradypus »


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