Prejudice, Authoritarians and The American Democracy

Five Cent Tour in Bablion:

Obama critics on the Left and Right are trying to play a wide menu of prejudices including discrimation on the basis of race, religion, sex, political affiliation, and so-called unproven commitment to the Democratic Party. Such prejudices represent irrational hostilities and hasty judgments that lack sufficient evidence, knowledge or consideration. These prejudices are divisive and dangerous resistance to our individual pursuit of information, evidence, knowledge, and truth. These prejudices move us in the direction of Authoritarians.

Fear and Loathing in America

As the 2008 presidential campaigns move to the next level of national attention and debate, old and new prejudices have come out of the closet. With Senator Barack Obama’s chances of winning the Presidential election looking up; Obama critics on the Left and Right are trying to play a wide menu of prejudices including discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, political affiliation, and so-called unproven commitment to the Democratic Party.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Such prejudices represent irrational hostilities and hasty judgments that lack sufficient evidence, knowledge or consideration. These prejudices are injurious to Obama’s endeavors and aspirations. And for this, we should pity Obama for such injustice. And if we pity him, we must also admire Obama for his courage and fortitude.

More importantly, hostile prejudices as we see invoked against Obama frustrate our national aspiration to know and discern the merits and shortcomings of a presidential candidate. These prejudices are more than a reflection of the complexity of our so-called unity as a nation and as a people; they are divisive and dangerous resistance to our individual pursuit of information, evidence, knowledge and truth.

Prejudice and Conscience

If prejudice is not necessary for humans, it is unavoidable. At times, we may believe that prejudices are useful as effective rules by which we might decisively pursue our ambitions in everyday life. Other times, it is obvious that prejudices hinder us in our cooperation with the common good of human society. In Praise of Prejudice, Theodore Dalrymple argues that we may not admit to a prejudice, but moral prejudice and, therefore, prejudice is quintessential to our capacity to resist authoritarians.

Contrary to Dalrymple’s moral relativism, it is common sense to make a distinction between moral prejudice (conscience) and prejudice in general. Prejudice comes with connotations of irrational hostility and moral injury whereas conscience is understood to be the capacity to judge right and wrong and exercise justice as persons. More, conscience is also understood as a capacity to act upon such judgment.

Although moral relativism encourages us to accept a situation where conscience and simple prejudice are indistinguishable, we must resist the nihilistic deconstructions which can only lead to confusion and despair.

Without an appeal to religious tradition (though such appeals may be more interesting and satisfying), Aristotle provides us with a psychology of human behavior that puts to shame the cheap Maslow powerpoint presentation. Specifically, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics provide us with a framework for good and evil with reference to human aspirations.

Authoritarians

In the face of the hegemony of moral relativism, we must courageously affirm then that it is conscience (undefined by moral relativism) that is critical to our spiritual resistance of authoritarians as human persons- not any old or new, generic social prejudice.

In fact, social prejudice unloosed from conscience or justice is often the greatest tool of the authoritarian leader. Authoritarian leaders of the past (Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin being the most infamous) have exploited social prejudice to suspend rational thought, justice, and consideration of the dignity of a human person in order to accomplish so-called great achievements.

In the effective absence of conscience, the state must mandate what is right and wrong in terms of what is effective and efficient for the objectives of the state- regardless of human dignity and the common good.

Myself, I believe that one indicator of a nation’s susceptibility to totalitarianism is when unjust social prejudices become laws that provide undue and prolific advantages to one group over another. Another indicator is when moral relativism has succeeded as a presumptuous skepticism and contempt for (1) law, (2) government and the (3) rational and moral standards of human society.

As Obama’s appeal has demonstrated, Americans face both problematics in varying degrees.

Romania

Romania (but not only Romania) is a better example of a nation and people who almost wholescale subscribe to the same presumptuous skepticism and contempts mentioned above. At the same time, general laws lack rationality and some flagrantly benefit oligarchs at the expense of the common good. Romanians are more desperate for change and action, but they tend to lack any efficacy in law, politics and government. Instead, they sell their votes and, sometimes, literally for an invitation to a public picnic.

How did this happen? Several things have to be considered regarding this question.

1. Religion has lost its role as a force of culture
2. Communism disabused them of their trust in government
3. The inexorable corruption and discreditation of colleagues among politicians dispossessed them of trust in politics and political process
4. The irrationality, inadequacy, and dissatisfaction in laws demonstrates that obedience to the law is impracticable for the most part, so the informal rule is just don’t get caught.

While Romania is an interesting study in current trends toward totalitarianism, my emphasis now is on American prejudicial reaction to Obama. The problem with Romania, perhaps, is a topic that deserves a separate post.

Democracy in America

What are Obama’s views on the issues that get the most heated debate online and offline? I suspect that my readers have taken an opportunity to reflect on his policy statements- especially made through his presidential campaign debates, website, or even his office website at the US Senate.

Those who attempt to manipulate us and the American people with prejudice for race, sex, etc. would like to pre-empt our study and reflection of each presidential candidate’s offer. They attempt to use our own prejudices against the delicate balance of liberty and equality.

We must be careful not to carried away by our own prejudices as Alexis de Tocqueville warned. Though a racist, Tocqueville’s clearly understood that when a people act with great prejudice in politics, the resulting skepticism and contempt can only lead to a complacency, mediocrity and capriciousness that throws open the gates. And totalitarians have long been waiting just outside the gates of the American democracy.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Stan Faryna
February 20, 2008
Bucharest, Romania

………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………..

FEED UPON other popular posts by Stan Faryna:

>> Outsourcing
>> Great Websites
>> IAB Europe
>> Online Strategy
>> Open Source

………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………..

About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.

His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna is editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

Here’s my fair use policy for my content:

If you want to share my content with your own audience, you may quote a brief excerpt, if and only if, you provide proper attribution (Source: The unofficial blog of Stan Faryna) with a direct link to the source. You may not republish or translate the entire article without my written permission. Send your request for permission by inmail through the linkedin professional network at www.linkedin.com.

Don’t want to register to comment?

Freely comment in the Buzzfuse widget below; Buzzfuse does not require registration. Also, feel free to give me a 10 star rating; positive feedback encourages me to post more often. If you have a Buzzfuse account, please make sure you are logged in to get your Buzzfuse rewards.

Use Buzzfuse* to easily rate, review, and share this item

Speak from your heart!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: