From the point of view of us as farm animals, it is all the same
In case you have not noticed, I have been in a bit of a funk lately. The big interdependent trifecta of censorship, state and corporatist-sponsored propaganda, and the role of “Davos Man” in the emerging new world order have been weighing heavy on my mind. Or maybe it’s just that I have been traveling too much, seen and heard too many things, and been the recipient of chronic targeted defamation for too long. Or perhaps I am just homesick for my quiet centered life with my wife Jill, our horses and fruit trees, and our modest Virginia farm/horticultural park. Or all the above.
What has really been eating away at my soul, like some kind of Dementor from JK Rowling’s darkest imaginings, is that we have allowed the billionaires to take over our world, and we have yet to come to terms with the consequences. The party of Davos, with its public facing mask behind the benign name of the World Economic Forum (WEF). What are the practical consequences for how both ourselves and our children will live their lives?
This issue touches the deepest questions. What is the fundamental nature of man, good or evil? What is justice, the proper order and character of a political structures as they relate to justice, and what are the characteristics of a just and ethical man. The deep stuff which Plato covers in the foundation stone of western thought on politics, the Socratic dialog published as “The Republic”. Although pre-Christian (380BC), whether or not you have read the multi-volume work your ideas of right and wrong are profoundly influenced by this ancient text, and regardless of your personal opinion regarding the dialectic tension between Hobbes (“solitary, poore, nasty brutish, and short”) and Rousseau, “The Republic” is the bedrock upon which “western” political thought is built. By way of contrast, the work of Kong 孔 (Confucius, 551–479 BC) is often seen as the foundation for much of Chinese/Asian culture, Zoroaster (Zarathustra, 628-551 BC) in historic Persia, and the blend of the teachings of Gautama Buddha (563–483 BC) and the Hindu classification of āstika and nāstika schools of philosophy in India.
Quoting from Robin Douglass, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory at King’s College London. He is the author of Rousseau and Hobbes: Nature, Free Will, and the Passions (2015)
Rousseau thought that once human nature has been corrupted the chances for redemption are vanishingly slight. In his own day, he held out little hope for the most advanced commercial states in Europe and, although he never witnessed the onset of industrial capitalism, it’s safe to say that it would have only confirmed his worst fears about inequality. The sting in the tale of Rousseau’s analysis is that, even if Hobbes was wrong about human nature, modern society is Hobbesian to the core and there’s now no turning back.
This way of putting things adds a twist to the usual narrative, where Hobbes is supposed to be the pessimist, and Rousseau the optimist. If that’s true of their ideas of human nature, the opposite is so when it comes to their evaluation of modern politics. If you think that modern life is characterized by self-interest and competition, then one response is to sit back and wonder at how such individualistic creatures ever managed to form peaceful societies. But if you think that there’s a better side to human nature – that we’re naturally good – then you’re more likely to ask: where did it all go wrong? Hobbes saw societies divided by war and offered a road to peace. Rousseau saw societies divided by inequality and prophesized their downfall.
From my personal point of view, whether aware or not, we seem to find ourselves at yet another fundamental crossroad in human history. As I move back and forth in my daily life residing in this strange intersection of serving as one of the “leaders of the resistance” regarding current public health policies versus just trying to keep my farm financed and operating and my wife (and life) happy, I often hear various versions of the sad words “I really feel sorry for the young people, and what they are going to have to deal with. I certainly would not want to have to raise a child at this point.”. Rephrasing, this embodies a sense of impending failure of global and US society to meet expectations for what Plato correctly identified the highest priority for a human society – to provide for the biological survival and reproductive needs of its members.