Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Buck found yet another one, and it’s a doozy. Hope you’re sitting down. This fellow who used to earn his paycheck by viewing the entire world through the myopic liberal lens at the BBC, is tattling. And he’s dangerous because he’s reformed. How reformed?
That our species has evolved a genetic predisposition to form tribal groups is generally accepted as an evolutionary fact. This grouping – of not more than about five or six hundred – supplies us with our identity, status system, territorial instinct, behavioural discipline and moral code. It survived the transition from hunting to agriculture: the hunting tribe became the farming village. It even survived the early days of the industrial revolution, in pit and mill villages: the back-to-back city slums were the tribal encampments of industrial Britain.
But the evolution of cities, of commuter and dormitory suburbs, has deprived millions of people of tribal living. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but fewer and fewer of us are now brought up in villages, even urban villages. The enormous popularity of television soap operas is because they provide detribalised viewers with vicarious membership of a fictional, surrogate tribe. Many people find strong substitute tribes at their places of work – they are not the birth-to-death, 24 hours a day tribes we evolved from, but they provide many of the same social needs.
And he’s got a lot to say about what makes a conservative conservative, and a liberal liberal. It gives one cause to think about things, rather deeply.
…the starting point is the realisation that there have always been two principal ways of misunderstanding a society: by looking down on it from above, and by looking up at it from below. In other words, by identifying with institutions or by identifying with individuals.
To look down on society from above, from the point of view of the ruling groups, the institutions, is to see the dangers of the organism splitting apart, the individual components shooting off in different directions, until everything dissolves into anarchy. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for order, discipline, control, authority and organisation.
To look up at society from below, from the point of view of the lowest group, the governed, is to see the dangers of the organism growing ever more rigid and oppressive until it fossilises into a monolithic tyranny. Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for liberty, equality, self-expression, representation, freedom of speech and action and worship, and the rights of the individual. The reason for the popularity of these misunderstandings is that both views are correct, as far as they go, and both sets of dangers are real but there is no “right” point of view. The most you can ever say is that sometimes society is in danger from too much authority and uniformity and sometimes from too much freedom and variety.
Now this part of it you have to take with a grain of salt, because labels like “conservative” and “liberal” mean different things in the United States than they do over in the UK. But you can tell from my previous post, if from nowhere else, that something has happened to get things rather twisted around. Conservatives defend institutions and liberals defend individuals — there is a kernel of truth in that, still.
But if you are out shopping for some acidic invective to be heaped upon the individual, what better way to get it all done in one shot, than to let the average modern liberal ramble on for a few minutes.
Conservatives don’t seem to be all that enamored of institutions, either. They defend private industry. And they defend it the way I do: I’m getting older, my dreams of starting a business out of a garage and becoming the next Bill Gates, are melting like snowballs on a hot stove…but I still have ’em, and I want to keep the rights I will need to make the dream worthwhile. And if I push up daisies before that day comes to pass, at least I want to keep those rights I failed to use, so that the next generation can perhaps make use of them.
I think that’s what conservatism is — still. I want my God-given rights so I can do…whatever. Become filthy stinking rich if that’s all I want to do. But I want individuals to be respected. Given their rights and their responsibilities. Responsibilities to not hurt each other and not steal from each other…not responsibilities to pay into some leviathan socialist health care system or welfare system so a bunch of other people can go through life as non-individuals, just sitting on a beat-up couch watching re-runs of Survivor. My adoration of “institutions” ends there…I still nurture dreams of becoming one. As an individual.
So this guy has much to learn, still. But he still talks some good sense, and makes weighty observations…an afternoon spent thinking about them, would be an afternoon well spent.
Fifty years ago, people did things together much more. The older politicians we interviewed in the early Tonight days were happier (and much more effective) in public meetings than in television studios. In those days people went to evening meetings. They formed collective opinions. In many places party allegiance was collective and hereditary rather than a matter of individual choice based on a logical comparison of policies.
It is astonishing how many of the technological inventions of the past century have had the effect of separating us off from the group. The car takes us out of public transport, central heating lets each member of a family do their own thing in their own room, watching their own television, listening to their own music, surfing the net on their own PC or talking to a friend on their own mobile. The fridge, the microwave and the takeaway mean that everyone can have their own meal in their own time. Our knowledge of public events and political arguments come direct from the media rather than from a face-to-face group. We still have some local, territorial group memberships, but their importance is now much diminished and their influence weakened.
The whole article has a certain structure to it, which I’m somewhat betraying by extracting from it in a sloppy, scrambled-eggs kind of style. So don’t go by my teasing, read the whole thing top-to-bottom.
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