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FAILED DIALECTIC : COMMUNISM VS CAPITALISM
Socrates cannot carry the ball alone if there are no good people to talk to. The communication breaks down not because of the fault of Socrates, but because of the ( impotence ) of his interlocutors. If Socrates has nobody intelligent to talk to that really wants the truth or do not want to exert themselves, then there really is nowhere to go to......TTC M.Sugrue
Plato's quest for the peak of political
life in the Republic goes together with a
powerful reminder of the depths to which political life can sink.....TTC Bartlett
Many modern republics have had some success in formulating rules to govern themselves ( called constitutions ) by the dialectic ( or a dialog of agreement ) between their eminent people or leaders, replacing the feudal social system by representative democracies or even communist forms of government. The serious attempt by the Communists in Russia in engaging the "dialectical materialism" method failed because the Communist Party was unable to find any common ground to accommodate a highly divided society that was pulling in opposite and extreme directions that could not be brought to a common cause by any dialog, thereby only resulting in a "dictatorship of the proletariat" which failed in its efforts to sustain a leadership that could be acceptable to most. The transition itself threw up a civil war that eventually led to a dictator who centralised all power and decision making, which ironically was contrary to the ideals of a communist state. This is one simple example of the failure of the dialectic within a nation. On a broader scale, the extremist ideologies of communism and capitalism also failed on a colossal scale to find a common ground for the dialectic to take place, and the resulting confrontation which was initially full of propaganda and rhetoric finally led to the brink of a nuclear holocaust and total destruction. At the brink the rhetoric was put aside for a while and a dialog did put the crisis on hold, but that was about all. The cold war began and now propaganda and rhetoric intensified. Each side purged its dissidents who were sympathetic to the other side's ideology. The world was divided into two halves. The Russian communist model of economic management got bogged and weighted down by the massive military build up that drained the economy. The West got ahead in the race for technology. The communist leadership acted wisely and devolved its power ( perhaps for the first time in History a devolution of power took place, whereas it could have chosen to stay put ), leading to the dismantling of the Soviet Union.
The biggest rhetoric of the West was that the democratic form of government is the only non-tyrannical government, and communism is the worst tyranny. The Democratic form of government is a sort of rule of the "dialectic of the majority". Although in theory it seems the optimal form of government, but in practice is full of problems that are not even acknowledged as such. The first is that all democracies today are representative democracies : one person is "representing" on behalf of a large number of people of a constituency ( parliamentary ) or a nation ( presidential ) , which by itself is not true democracy.
WEB Interactive 2012 “The
fundamental problem of capitalism is inherent in it's foundations - the goal of
capitalist economy is to maximize profit without regard to long term
consequences - which has devastating long term consequences for any ecological
system. The second foundational problem is that how profit is made is of
secondary consideration - that is, ethics are of secondary consideration, if at
all, to the primal goal of profit. The third problem is of attitude: that there
is no respect and no consideration given to natural resources that we all know
are running out. Reckless exploitation of natural resources is the rule. The
most serious psychological problem of capitalism is that it promotes a 'everyman
for himself' attitude that is a sure recipe for the kind of chaos witnessed in
the last market crash, and as this attitude persists and grows, more shocks and
catastrophes await us.
It must be always kept in mind that the capitalist model works only under 1) abundant resources to exploit 2) technological innovations and developments.”
I'm all in favor of the democratic principle that one idiot is as good as one genius, but I draw the line when someone takes the next step and concludes that two idiots are better than one genius.- Leo Szilard
Even in a true democracy where every person has a right in the decision making process of a government ( every issue carries a mandatory referendum ), the fundamental flaw remains that the best course of action is either not heard at all or is not acceptable or is uncomfortable for the majority and thus is rejected. Democracy is mostly reduced into at best a popularity contest, whereas at its worst the masses are convinced by the rhetoric of the master orator to take a course of action that is actually detrimental to everyone except to perpetuate the vested interests of an elite political or business or bureaucratic class, and usually all of them form a nexus that constitutes a ruling class, keeping out the masses by hook or by crook. The exploitation of the masses continues, only it is not as blatant as in a feudal setup, and there is still scope for some elements from the masses to break into the elite circle by sheer talent, manipulation or even muscle power.
To perpetuate its power and hold over the masses the ruling class needs a bogeyman : an enemy of the state which it can project as a threat to national security - usually another nation with whom there is a conflict of interest ( political or economic ) or conflict of ideology. The stage is set for the rise of nationalistic, patriotic rhetoric to flourish so as to charge up the masses and divert their attention from the corruption and misrule of the elite. During times when the nation versus nation rhetoric cools off, a different enemy is needed, and if there are no internal rebels, some need to be invented. The past cultural, religious icons are raked up and people within the nation who are not in line with these are targeted and made scapegoats - usually of a different religion or ethnic background, or just simply not loyal enough to the ruling class that touts its cosmetic patriotism and makes nationalism as a perfect tool to perpetuate its vested interest.
If Tyranny and
Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign
-James Madison, fourth US president (1751-1836)
This then is the final graveyard of the failed dialog or simply no dialog at all - just an ever growing yet empty rhetorical monologue written by purchased rhetoricians (ultimate sophists) but mouthed by the powers that rule nations, answered by an ever dwindling rhetorical monologue of isolated individuals that no one else even wants to hear.
Socrates is the true daemon of love and
knowledge, with one foot in the world of space and time and one foot in the
beyond somehow. And all his jokes seem to suggest that he is comparing the true
world of unchanging reality of perfect formality with this world down here which
is lacking. Many of his jokes suggest that he is in on the joke of the gods that
many thing of this world that we take seriously are not to be taken seriously.
He wants us to move away from the pursuit of wealth, pleasure and power towards
the pursuit of something divine. He is a joke played upon us by the gods - he's
been sent down here, whereas he clearly does not belong here, and that is why
he's always making jokes that we don't understand.
We may say that Socrates is a joke played upon us by the gods, where they give us a tiny glimpse of what the gods eye view of human life is - ( mostly as ) comic and ridiculous. Not a nasty kind of caustic comedy but a sympathetic comedy.( the gods are saying through Socrates ) If you but knew what was real, if you but knew what was good for you, I would let you know( the joke). Socrates is a cosmic, comic hero, not the vulgar kind that we get in Aristophanes' character. Socrates is a sort of demonic figure, one foot in the human realm and one foot in the cosmic realm. Socrates is a quasi-divine figure - he has a daemon in his head. We can't imitate Socrates. The best we can do is to be asymptotic towards this Socratic limit and we move closer and closer as we gain spiritual depth and wisdom. The only way to do that is to continue inquiring, continue thinking. And never lose faith, never lose hope, never lose the idea that no matter how bad things get, compared to the perspective of eternity none of the problems of our human life should be as daunting as sometimes we think they are. Socrates offers us a message of hope. It's a human and humane hope that represents the best that humans can possibly aspire towards. If death is not dangerous to us then life also never will be. Socrates teaches us that an examined life means that we will do our best to make a guess about death, and so long as we continue to examine, the journey matters much more than the destination..... TTC M. Sugrue