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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2006 :  15:43:32  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
This is not one of my usual posts, where, after a brief introduction, I paste in part of a news article along with a link to the article. Nor is this going to be one of my rarer provocative/crank rants proposing for consideration some weird conspiratorial hypothesis.

Instead, I'd like to address the issue of involvement in politics in general, especially to all of you who have a cynical attitude toward the subject.

Politics is neither good nor bad. It's just a name for how humans work out issues of policy and power. I have noticed that several regulars here (whose names I won't mention) have rather hardened cynical attitudes towards politics, treating it as a dirty word, and as a subject matter undeserving of their involvement.

In this attitude, I think, the political cynics are akin to the Luddites, whose modern descendants reject science and technology because of nuclear weapons, dangerous pesticides, and all the other less pleasant products of technology.

Hitler was political. So was Martin Luther King, Jr. Stalin was a politician, as was Lincoln. Politics is the process of power brokering, not its contents or results.

Anyone who rejects politics because they see bad things happening through its process is surrendering their society to those who are willing to use politics. In my experience, some of the best and brightest people with the most reasons to seek political change often fall prey to a cynicism about politics that paralyzes their potential to work to correct the very problems that made then cynical in the first place. They drop out of, or never join, the political process, and simply whine from the sidelines. I've seen this repeatedly throughout my long life. It goes in cycles, with the worst cynicism coming just before a sudden wave of political involvement. We're due for another such wave any day, I think.

I simply want to urge all political cynics (you know who you are) to become involved in the political process, to make both the process itself and the resulting policies more closely resemble something that you can support.

If you don't get involved in support of the kind of policies you'd like to see, then someone with a horrifying agenda will promote their policies without your opposition. In fact, they already are doing so.



Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

Edited by - HalfMooner on 07/30/2006 15:55:54

Ricky
SFN Die Hard

USA
4907 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2006 :  20:23:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Ricky an AOL message Send Ricky a Private Message
I guess I would be one of those "political cynics" as you call it.

It's not so much that I don't care, I certainly do. And I know that changes in politics directly affect my everyday life. I just real don't like it.

I feel the same way about most humanities, as well as a lot of philosophy and psychology. They are very subjective subjects, and it's that fuzziness that I hate. Science and math are the things I love, and maybe even the philosophy of science.

It's not so much that I don't want to be involved with politics, it's more that I just can't bring myself to do so.

Why continue? Because we must. Because we have the call. Because it is nobler to fight for rationality without winning than to give up in the face of continued defeats. Because whatever true progress humanity makes is through the rationality of the occasional individual and because any one individual we may win for the cause may do more for humanity than a hundred thousand who hug their superstitions to their breast.
- Isaac Asimov
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/30/2006 :  21:52:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
I've seen your kind of attitude before, Ricky. A lot of people, in the hard sciences and engineering especially, prefer to deal with that portion of the world that operates according to clear laws of nature. Human activities, especially religion and politics, must sometimes seem an anathema to you.

How many NASA scientists and engineers must have picked their career with the idea in mind that they would only have to deal with politics when justifying their annual funding? And certainly there is no inherent reason for national politics to play a day-to-day role in NASA. But then a political appointee with a fundamentalist agenda tried to ban mention of the Big Bang by NASA. Likewise, solid researchers in the medical field are represented as though they are baby-killers by political hacks from the President on down. Biologists and educators are having to defend the established theory of Evolution, not from scientific debate, but from theocratic political interference.

In reaction, scientists are becoming more political.

The point is, ignoring politics may be possible, but politics won't ignore us.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  01:52:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
Politics, in the most general definition, is the interaction between members of a society.

Everyone engages in politics, it is how you work out everything from who gets to use the shower first in the morning, to who gets to govern the country.

Most people only think to apply the term to matters of elected government though.

There is some truth in the idea that refusal to participate in the politics of government will result in a government that you cannot tolerate. If we are to live up to the ideals of the founding fathers of this country, we should indeed be active enough in the politics of government to educate ourselves on the major issues of the day and to let our elected officials know our opinion. They ALL accept email these days.

Personally I limit my involvement in the politics of government to educating myself about important issues, voting, writing letters to various elected officials, and discussing issues with other people (like here on SFN, for example). I hope that is enough.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  09:33:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
Well I'm out here getting more involved every day. For those of you who don't normally pay attention, times call for everyone to pay attention now. After we get rid of the religious neocon constitution wrecking hawks in office in the USA today, then you can go back to sleep. Democracy is in real danger and wars are growing. Those two facts alone (not to mention the people who want an Evangelical based government) are enough to require everyone else speak up.

I would not be saying this if it wasn't that bad, but it is.

Oh, and as a side note HM, some of us are in science fields that are about human behavior and interactions.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 07/31/2006 09:35:44
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  13:48:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude

Politics, in the most general definition, is the interaction between members of a society.

Everyone engages in politics, it is how you work out everything from who gets to use the shower first in the morning, to who gets to govern the country.

Most people only think to apply the term to matters of elected government though.

There is some truth in the idea that refusal to participate in the politics of government will result in a government that you cannot tolerate. If we are to live up to the ideals of the founding fathers of this country, we should indeed be active enough in the politics of government to educate ourselves on the major issues of the day and to let our elected officials know our opinion. They ALL accept email these days.

Personally I limit my involvement in the politics of government to educating myself about important issues, voting, writing letters to various elected officials, and discussing issues with other people (like here on SFN, for example). I hope that is enough.



How deeply to be involved in politics is one of many things I can't make recommedations on. All I can suggest is that more people should get more involved. You gotta seek out a sustainable type and intensity of activity that works for you, which is practical in your daily living, and matches your physical and psychological energy levels.

The good thing is, you're involved. A true cynic won't be.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  13:58:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by beskeptigal

Well I'm out here getting more involved every day. For those of you who don't normally pay attention, times call for everyone to pay attention now. After we get rid of the religious neocon constitution wrecking hawks in office in the USA today, then you can go back to sleep. Democracy is in real danger and wars are growing. Those two facts alone (not to mention the people who want an Evangelical based government) are enough to require everyone else speak up.

I would not be saying this if it wasn't that bad, but it is.

Oh, and as a side note HM, some of us are in science fields that are about human behavior and interactions.

Well said, B! If we all rest for the next two years, many of us, our neighbors, sons and daughters, may be resting in peace permanently as a result. It's that important to take a stand right now.

I also agree with your comment about the human sciences. I hadn't mentioned those fields simply because you folks don't, in my experience, have as much tendency to eschew politics as do the good folks in the "harder" sciences.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  16:33:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Half wrote:
quote:
The point is, ignoring politics may be possible, but politics won't ignore us.
Yes, this is pretty much the main thrust of this thread isn't it? Plato said something like the punishment for the wise who do not take part in government, is to be ruled by lesser men.

Dude wrote:
quote:
Personally I limit my involvement in the politics of government to educating myself about important issues, voting, writing letters to various elected officials, and discussing issues with other people (like here on SFN, for example). I hope that is enough.
Since grad school and beyond, what you describe is also about all I have time for myself. But it's far and away more than most Americans bother themselves with. Worst of all, more of them vote than educate themselves about important issues.

I think some people think that to be “involved” with politics means being an activist or running for office. But it really just means to do what Dude and beskeptical, I, and most of the people on SFN do: learn about what is happening in the world, form an opinion, act on that opinion – even if it is only by voting/writing letters/speaking at public meetings/etc. Without the proper dissemination of information, and without the ability of the people to use critical thinking when considering that information, democracy is a joke.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 07/31/2006 16:35:16
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R.Wreck
SFN Regular

USA
1191 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  18:19:30   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send R.Wreck a Private Message
I don't know if I'd call myself a "political cynic", but I lean closer to that end of the spectrum than, say, a "political junkie". I do vote in all elections, local to national, and try to be educated about the issues and candidates. What brings out my cynical side is that our government, especially at the national level, seems to be much more about politics than about leadership, statesmanship, diplomacy, or competent governance. It's about getting elected and staying elected more than doing what's best for the society.

And once elected, too many are beholden to the special interests that bankrolled them. And the lack of integrity (see DeLay) does not inspire great respect for your average congresscreature. And the thing that really pisses me off about theses professional politicians is that we, the people, the taxpayers, are footing the bill (and quite a ginormous bill it is) for their game playing. We are paying them to provide a service, and many of them are doing a piss-poor job of it, preferring instead to see us as cash cows to finance their personal agenda and line their own pockets in the process.

Unless and until we elect those with integrity, leadership, and the commitment to serve rather than be served, then we'll get more of what we've got. Politicians, not leaders.

The foundation of morality is to . . . give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibliities of knowledge.
T. H. Huxley

The Cattle Prod of Enlightened Compassion
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 07/31/2006 :  22:53:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
What you say is true, RW, but sometimes the pendulum swings so far into the crap it's more than just politics as usual. This is one of those cases.

I use the things I normally do as places to be active. Somehow I ended up in a typical suburbia neighborhood but with a whole group of peace activists and some political junkies as neighbors. It's easy to join in when someone else drives or holds the potluck.

Online I have been trying to post the things I hope will give one more person insight like my corporate controlled media thread. Hey, I'm here posting anyway, so why not make it useful. Who knows how many people read the stuff but if just one person does and shares that with one more.... And there are lots of e-mail campaigns Moveon.org sets up. All you have to do is add your name to some of them.

I've been doing the same things all along promoting an evidence based (skeptical) world until recently and now I've shifted to more political awareness posts.

And I put bumper stickers on my car. I hadn't done that in the past because I steer clear of politics and religion with my clients. But I couldn't resist putting a "Grand Oil Party" sticker on the other day. I have had a "Democracy Now" bumper sticker on my car for a few years with the local radio channel it is on. I also have two of those yellow ribbon magnets on my car that I added "bring them home" after "support the troops".

A couple of my neighbors have "Stop the Iraq War" signs in their windows and yards. Other neighbors responded with "Support the Troops" signs. The last one cracked me up. One of the anti-war ladies put a sign up that said, "Don't make me come down there", God.
Edited by - beskeptigal on 07/31/2006 22:57:56
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  05:17:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Great examples of ways to become politically effective, B.!


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  06:14:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
quote:
A couple of my neighbors have "Stop the Iraq War" signs in their windows and yards.


Maybe they should get a "Support the Troops" sign and put it next to the "Stop the Iraq War" sign. That should send a definite statement.

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  09:17:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
I wouldn't say I'm cynical. Just skeptical.

Thought maybe some of you would like this article on the subject:
http://www.williamgreider.com/article.php?article_id=7

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 08/01/2006 :  21:50:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by pleco


Maybe they should get a "Support the Troops" sign and put it next to the "Stop the Iraq War" sign. That should send a definite statement.

You mean in the same yard? Not a bad idea, I'll mention it to them.


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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13463 Posts

Posted - 08/02/2006 :  08:38:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
On politics and cynicism:

I much prefer our liars to their liars…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 08/02/2006 :  09:43:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message
Im taking the Jurrasic Park route on politics, you know the whole water dripping off the back of the hand thing...yeah.

Also Im for the War...but against the troops!

Id get involved in politics, if I could throw out the system and redesign it totally, because American Politics is FUBAR. Just like pretty much everyone else.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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