Globalization, global warming, Toqueville, and democracy as we know it, part 1

Whig and I have been having a somewhat lively discussion over at Cannablog in his “caveman” post. I want to expand it a little bit, and it feels too lengthy for a comment, so I’ll do the expansion here. I know I’m going to run out of time because today is writers’ groups day, but if I don’t get it started, it will never get written. Hence the “part 1.”

A lot of stuff has come my way recently about the current state of chaos in our American world (not to mention, which I probably will anyway, the rest of the world). Globalization, global warming, and the state of politics in the U.S. are major topics.

We (citizens of the U.S. more so than anywhere else, I think) are conditioned to the “quick fix” for everything. Want to buy something? Borrow the money. What? I should save for it? What an old-fashioned idea. Need to lose weight? Take a pill. Got health issues? Medicine will fix them with some new drug. Unhappy with government? Throw the bastards out and replace them.

Sorry, folks, but this approach doesn’t work for things that are systemic. And most of our problems are just that.

I think I mentioned before that in studying Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America, I’ve been stunned by the accuracy of his predictions about where our society would founder. I’m going to throw three things out on the table and head off for the first of my writers’ groups. I’m hoping when I get back this evening to find some of your thoughts on the topic. These things are worth examining closely.

Community: Toqueville believed that community and association with people of like interests was essential to the health of a “free” country. Unfortunately, he notes, one of the results of “equal conditions for all” is that people tend to withdraw into their own worlds, where they feel special.

“Habits of the heart”: This is Toqueville’s phrase for those things that we do almost without thinking because we have learned to do them. They can be healthy or unhealthy. Healthy habits of the heart are needed, IMNHO, to do anything at all about preserving the planet and preserving the people on it. I will write more about global warming later, because I think this is a current concern where this is so very true, but it applies across the board. How healthy are your “habils of the heart”?

“The tyranny of the majority”: Toqueville saw this as a real problem with the two-party political system. There is always a winner-take-all result, and whatever majority is in power tends to arrange things to suit themsleves. Then they are ousted, the other party takes over, and everything changes again. This creates, he says, an undesireable level of instability in the law, among other things.

Now I must run. Let me know what you want to talk about.

(Updated 3/27 to fix a couple of typos. Someone linked to this and now I’m embarassed.)

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5 Responses to “Globalization, global warming, Toqueville, and democracy as we know it, part 1”

  1. whig Says:

    I have to run shortly as well, so I’ll just leave a quick comment for now and maybe expand upon it later. I think your concern about what we are doing in bringing down the present administration is that we won’t go far enough in replacing it. You think that we will go only as far as replacing the Republicans with people just as corrupt or corruptible, and the cycle will simply turn again with the ratchet in place.

    I’ve said it in so many words in so many places throughout my blog, and in so many ways that I hope it is becoming clear to people that this is not a political campaign for a change of parties. This is a change of government that we are engaged in, a replacement of a system, not just a single party. It will be done peacefully and democratically as it must in order to succeed, and it will take time and require a number of alliances to be built which cross usual lines.

    There is no stopping point until we have completed this exercise or lose, and we won’t lose because the blogospheric consciousness is growing geometrically and cannot be stopped now.

  2. whig Says:

    Well, that was longer than I intended.

  3. mklekacz Says:

    Whig, I hope you’re right. More later from me, too. I’m back from town but I’m dealing with the family medical situation at the moment.

  4. whig Says:

    I hope it’s nothing serious. I’m heading on vacation myself, until Saturday, though I’ll have connectivity.

  5. mklekacz Says:

    Thanks, Whig. My brother has some problems that are about as serious as you can get without being immediately fatal. I’ve already blogged about it somewhere here, and I’m not up to the whole thing again. But I appreciate the good wishes.

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