/ Social Epistemology /
Feeding the Poor
Individuals develop consciousness, consciousness is tinged by ethics. Cultures develop ethics, change them over time. Ethics live, die, get diseases …
As a kid in Sunday school I vowed to dig my ethical roots deep, to maintain them, to minimize hypocrisy as far as possible. These days I don’t believe I’ve succeeded all that well, I don’t know that doing better was possible.
As my vision degenerates so does my mind, my processing speed and power. How much ego is left to batter? I’m testing how deep my anchors are, hoping you’ll see what I’m trying to do, hoping without much faith. Ferinstance:
I’m streaming a lot of movies these days, not dreading death but fearing the blindness encroaching, deafness deadening. Over the past several days I see ethical assumptions across a series of cultures: acutely as I watch (and rewatch) Tarkovsky Andrei Rublev: a movie made by Communist atheists portraying image battles, behavior battles, in 1400, in 1405 … A deep anchor there approves “feeding the poor”: while White Russians and Tatars skirmish. Feeding the poor is assumed to be a worthy goal. Hey, that’s an anchor little different from the attitudes with which my Sunday school read the gospels: give all you have to the poor, feed the poor, you get moral points with Jesus. Who besides me finds his childhood ethical values to be in conflict with the implications of his politics? (My Christian anarchist politics: Tolstoy, Gandhi, Illich.)
I don’t approve of feeding the poor; I approve of getting out of the way of others searching for food themselves!
Marx led hope that “workers” would take production values from “capitalists”. As a kid I wanted capitalists to share production values with workers. Not any longer: now I just want everybody to get out of everybody’s way.
Once upon a time a New Yorker could walk down to the Hudson River, carry a fishing rod, wade, swim. Robert Moses’ forerunners built highways, walls, amassing wealth against freedom of movement. The road interferes with your going fishing, the road helps the food markets sell food. Pro-market is anti-freedom!
When we could all look for food, I could hunt berries while the lion hunted me. Good. I want to avoid the lion, but I do not want the society to gang up on lions till there are no lions. Lions keep the herd healthy. Someday there will be no lions and no me and no US. Fine: I want the freedom to hunt. I’m glad of the food market but I don’t want the food markets to win any final battles.
God wants all Jews to mutilate all newborn males? I don’t. I don’t want Muslims mutilating girls either. I used to think I was for that God, I used to think that the Jews’ God and the Christians’ God and the Muslims’ God were more similar than distinct; now I see all those Gods as puppets interfering with freedom! (And torturing children!)
The US wants me to get out of its way, turning everyone, everything into helpless monoculture hybrids; I want the US to get out of my way. I’m old and blind, I could no longer find my own food (though I can still catch more fish than average). But I don’t want the US imposing any help on me: or on anyone!
I don’t want anything to do any longer with God’s heaven. I don’t want the Commies to take the Capitalists’ wealth. (I want the Capitalists themselves to shove their wealth up their own ass!) I don’t want the Jesus who wants us to feed the poor. Get out of everybody’s way and there won’t be any poor: just hungry creatures, stalking freedom.
Ethical Fault Lines
I didn’t do that much with that part of the set of metaphors, did I? (Maybe I will next time.)
2008 06 17 What could be more ludicrous than kleptocratics talking about ethics? Praising themselves for how ethical they are? (Er, try kleptocratics talking about their property rights, how they deserve this or that.)
Did Hitler say, “I shall now be evil: I shall invade Poland?” Or did he invade Poland claiming some high moral road while doing so?
I use facts as symbols, it’s the symbol structure that’s important, not the factualness of the facts. An eye guy told me twenty-five years ago that I had “early onset of macular degeneration: the word “macula” had not been active in my vocabulary before then. So for two decades plus I’ve monitored the Amsler grid, guarding against the hula signal of “wet” degeneration. Yesterday a VA doc, cute young girl, examined me: I’d been dragging my feet with the appointment, stretched a couple of months into several before solidifying an appointment. I don’t think the head-in-the-sand is the best defense, but I dragged anyway. Human, right? Even saints can be at least part-human. My friend Carole has outlived her crash-by date: I thought for sure the doc would tell me I’d be nearly helpless in another month or two. No: she told me that my left eye is beyond the help of optics, but my degeneration is still “dry”; not “wet”!
Hooray! And my Mac can still zoom in another notch.
I flirted with the doctor, I flirt with most of the female doctors. (They flirt back, nurses too, or, they started it!) I told this child that despite not being comfortable with how she touched my eyes, I nevertheless wanted to dance with her. True enough; but her eye-side manner was elephantine. Or grizzly.