Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

Founding Fools

I sometimes am amazed at how full of shit the founding fathers of the United States were. I think this was just part of the political language used at the time - I don't know if privately their political philosophy was more sensible, but at least the public works talk a lot about "universal values" and things that have held true across all societies, both of which are terribly wrong. Unfortunately, things have not progressed much beyond that - we see such things as "our constitution, in speaking of natural born citizens, uses no affirmative language to make them such, but only recognizes and reaffirms the universal principle, common to all nations, and as old as political society, that the people born in a country do constitute the nation" (Attourney General Edward Bates, in 1862) sprinkled throughout our nation's history. Without doing any specific research, I can name a number of countries across the world where that is not true. Recent presidents, including our current one, have spoken of Universal Values as well.

It is fair to talk about values that we hold as universal in scope, meaning that we assert them to be good for all humanity, all cultures, all civilisations past, present, and future. It is fair to use the term universal values to refer to those values. That is not what is being done here - the phrasing in American popular political discourse denotes values and principles that all humans have, and that these values and principles are inherent into humanity or the nature of things. I hold that the number of values and principles that fit into that category is very close to zero and may in fact be zero. Whenever I hear a politician talk about that, it suggests to me that they have not thought very carefully about philosophy, or as an alternative that their private philosophy and their public one are distant from each other. Except in exceptional circumstances, the latter bothers me more. Except in exceptional circumstances, I hold that people should honestly represent their philosophy and their broad political ends. It is fine not to disclose it or to handle it with tact, but when discussed, people should get a straight answer and possibly a measure of how strongly held the broad intent and specifics of a position are.

In a more ideal world, people would not accept this junk philosophy in public discourse. Then, in a more ideal world, we'd have more of an expectation that news organisations would disclose when they're acting towards a political end, Then... there are a lot of things that would be different in a more ideal world.

Tags: philosophy
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