Hypocrisy, Politicians, And Probative Value

odal3

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Amesbury Incident Update
Hypocrisy, Politicians, And Probative Value

 

Hypocrisy And Politicians

As predicted by the sagacious – by those whose guides are reason, fairness, and evidence which has probative value – the death of the woman involved in the Amesbury incident has led to politicians and others to express hypocritical outrage. Thus the British Prime Minister said she was “appalled and shocked by the death.”

Why is such outrage hypocritical? Because there is a political agenda behind it and because it ignores the fact that on average, around 3 women a day are killed in Britain {1} while between 2009 and 2015, 936 women were killed by men they knew {2} and which number of murders is far more than those who in Britain lost their lives due to acts of terrorism during the same period.

Did the current Prime Minister and former Prime Ministers publicly state that they were “appalled and shocked” by the death of each of those women? Did they send their “thoughts and condolences” to the families of each victim? Did they state that their government was “committed to providing full support to the local community” as it dealt with each such tragedy? No of course not.

Did the local police involved in such murders, as is now the case with Amesbury incident, have a squad of over 100 detectives from outside their area assist them? No of course not.

Why not? Because such deaths did not serve the political agendas of the government of the day while the death of the woman in the Amesbury incident does serve the political agenda of the government of the day. To wit, their propaganda campaign against Russia and especially against Vladimir Putin.

Probative Value

As also predicted by the sagacious, the British Home Secretary – following the death of the woman involved in the Amesbury incident – propagandistically stated, without providing or citing any evidence, that “we know back in March that it was the Russians. We know it was a barbaric, inhuman act by the Russian state.”

We are thus entitled to ask obvious questions such as: “Where is the evidence for such accusations? Where is or was it published and made available to we the people?” Available to we the people – the supposed basis for their government – so that we may make our own, individual, and informed, opinion based on evidence which has probative value.

Until there is such publicly available evidence “we the people” are supposed to trust the politicians who make such accusations, and – when pressed on the matter of evidence (as they seldom if ever are by journalists) – are supposed to trust their vague statements about “intelligence” gathered by the security services “proving” such accusations, although such “intelligence” is never published at the time and when on the few occasions that it is (years later after its propaganda value is no longer relevant) it is often “redacted” and as in the case of purported Iraqi weapons of mass destruction often shown to be false and propagandistic.

Thus instead of treating “we the people” with respect, as intelligent beings, modern politicians of modern democracies condescendingly expect us to trust them, believe their propaganda, and ignore their utter hypocrisy.

For such politicians, the death of one women in one incident provides them with political opportunities, while the murder of thousands of other women – often in more barbaric circumstances – is not even a footnote in the history of modern British democracy.

Is such modern democracy still fit for purpose? Or does it, as we are inclined to believe, need reforming, so that in the words of one perspicacious commentator,

                  “leaders and politicians must have such personal character-revealing experience as qualifies them to lead and to govern, with that personal experience consisting of proven and years-long ‘front line’ service to their country and to their people such as in the armed forces or serving as a ‘first responder’ in such occupations as paramedic, a police officer, and in the Fire & Rescue service.” {3}

Three Wyrd Sisters
9th July 2018 ev

{1} The Guardian, One woman dead every three days, 14 December 2017.

{2} Helen Pidd, The Guardian, 7 December 2016.

{3} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/the-moment-of-my-reading/

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Related:
https://wyrdsister.wordpress.com/2018/07/04/the-amesbury-incident/


Article source: https://wyrdsister.wordpress.com/2018/07/09/amesbury-incident-update/


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A Pre-Socratic Fragment: Empedocles

David Myatt

A Pre-Socratic Fragment: Empedocles

Text

ἔστιν Ἀνάγκης χρῆμα, θεῶν ψήφισμα παλαιόν,
ἀίδιον, πλατέεσσι κατεσφρηγισμένον ὅρκοις·
εὖτέ τις ἀμπλακίηισι φόνωι φίλα γυῖα μιήνηι,
νείκεΐ θ’ ὅς κε ἐπίορκον ἁμαρτήσας ἐπομόσσηι,
δαίμονες οἵτε μακραίωνος λελάχασι βίοιο,
τρίς μιν μυρίας ὧρας ἀπὸ μακάρων ἀλάλησθαι,
φυομένους παντοῖα διὰ χρόνου εἴδεα θνητῶν
ἀργαλέας βιότοιο μεταλλάσσοντα κελεύθους.
αἰθέριον μὲν γάρ σφε μένος πόντονδε διώκει,
πόντος δ’ ἐς χθονὸς οὖδας ἀπέπτυσε, γαῖα δ’ ἐς αὐγὰς
ἠελίου φαέθοντος, ὁ δ’ αἰθέρος ἔμβαλε δίναις·
ἄλλος δ’ ἐξ ἄλλου δέχεται, στυγέουσι δὲ πάντες.
τῶν καὶ ἐγὼ νῦν εἰμι, φυγάς θεόθεν καὶ ἀλήτης,
Νείκεϊ μαινομένωι πίσυνος.

Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Diels-Kranz, B115

Translation

There exists an insight by Ananke, an ancient resolution
Of the gods, immutable and sealed by vows,
Regarding when one of the daimons – those whose allotted portion of life is long –
Has their own hands stained from murder
Or who, once having sworn an oath, because of some feud breaks that oath.
For they shall for ten thousand tripled seasons wander away from the beautified,
Begotten during that period in all manner of mortal form
And exchanging during that voyage one vexation for another:

The fierce Ætherials chase them to the Sea,
The Sea spits them out onto dusty ground,
Gaia hurls them to the burning light of the Sun
Who flings them back to those swirling Ætherials.
Moved from one to the other, all detest them.

I am one of those, a vagabond in exile from the gods
Who has to rely on strongful Disagreement.

Notes

Ananke (Ἀνάγκης) is the primordial goddess of incumbency; that is, of wyrd – of that which is beyond, and the origin of, what we often describe as our Fate as a mortal being.

The usual translation of “necessity” – as for example by Copenhaver in section 1 of tractate III of the Corpus Hermeticum [1] obscures both the subtle esotericism evident in that ἱερός λόγος and what Empedocles wrote centuries earlier about Ἀνάγκης. [2]

Disagreement (νεῖκος) is – according to what we can adduce of the philosophy of Empedocles from the fragments of his writings that we possess – a fundamental principle, and one understood in relation to another fundamental principle, Φιλότης, expressive as they both are of the logos (λόγος) by which we can possibly apprehend the workings of the cosmic order (κόσμος). However, the common translations – of ‘strife’ and ‘love’ respectively – do not in my view express what Empedocles seems to be trying to convey, which is ‘disagreement’ and ‘fellowship’ (a communal or kindred working-together in pursuit of a common interest or goal). For while disagreement sometimes disrupts fellowship, it is often necessary as the genesis of productive change.

Thus, just as Odysseus had to rely on the support of Athena, who disagreed with how Poseidon treated Odysseus, so does the ‘vagabond in exile from the deities/the gods’ have to rely on disagreements among the immortals to end their own exile.

Which expression of how the immortal deities (θεοὶ) often differ and of how the Fate of mortals depend on those deities and, quite often on disagreements between them, exemplifies the ethos of Ancient Greece.

David Myatt
2017

This is a slightly revised version of a comment published in my 2015 translation of and commentary on the ἱερός λόγος tractate of the Corpus Hermeticum.

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[1] B. Copenhaver. Hermetica. Cambridge University Press. 1992.

[2] The Greek text of tractate III:1 is

Δόξα πάντων ὁ θεὸς καὶ θεῖον καὶ φύσις θεία. ἀρχὴ τῶν ὄντων ὁ θεός, καὶ νοῦς καὶ φύσις καὶ ὕλη, σοφία εἰς δεῖξιν ἁπάντων ὤν· ἀρχὴ τὸ θεῖον καὶ φύσις καὶ ἐνέργεια καὶ ἀνάγκη καὶ τέλος καὶ ἀνανέωσις. ἧν γὰρ σκότος ἄπειρον ἐν ἀβύσσωι καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ πνεῦμα λεπτὸν νοερόν, δυνάμει θείαι ὄντα ἐν χάει. ἀνείθη δὴ φῶς ἅγιον καὶ ἐπάγη <ὑφ’ ἅμμωι> ἐξ ὑγρᾶς οὐσίας στοιχεῖα καὶ θεοὶ πάντες <καταδιερῶσι> φύσεως ἐνσπόρου.

A.D. Nock & A-J. Festugiere, Corpus Hermeticum, Paris, 1972

In my translation I have endeavoured to express something of the classical mysticism which this tractate, in particular, embodies:

“The numen of all beings is theos: numinal, and of numinal physis.
The origin of what exists is theos, who is Perceiveration and Physis and Substance:
The sapientia which is a revealing of all beings.
For the numinal is the origin: physis, vigour, incumbency, accomplishment, renewance.

In the Abyss, an unmeasurable darkness, and, by the influence of the numen,
Water and delicate apprehending Pnuema, there, in Kaos.
Then, a numinous phaos arose and, from beneath the sandy ground,
Parsements coagulated from fluidic essence.
And all of the deities <particularize> seedful physis.”

My commentary on the text – in Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates, 2017, ISBN 978-1976452369 – explains my interpretations of words such as δόξα, νοῦς, σοφία, ἐνέργεια, and δύναμις.


Source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/empedocles/


Another Iconoclastic Translation

David Myatt

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DW Myatt: The Beatitudes
(pdf)

The document contains David Myatt’s translation of and commentary on The Beatitudes, {1} which part of the New Testament – Matthew 5:1–10 – is an iconic part of the Christian religion.

As with his other iconoclastic translations – such as from the Corpus Hermeticum {2} and The Gospel Of John {3} – he provides a new and refreshingly different insight into an ancient text.

However, readers should be aware that Myatt’s commentary on the Greek text of The Beatitudes relies heavily on his commentary on the Greek text of the Gospel of John {3} and on his commentaries on the Greek texts of the Corpus Hermeticum which he has translated {2}.

RDM Crew
June 2018

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{1} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2018/03/30/the-beatitudes/

{2} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/corpus-hermeticum/

{3} https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/gospel-according-to-john/


How To Misunderstand The O9A

Order of Nine Angles

O9A

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One of the investigative journalists who earlier this year wrote about the neo-nazi group AtomWaffen Division {1} has revealed – through messages posted on “Twitter” – what appears to be a basic lack of understanding of the O9A despite having claimed that he has studied the O9A for quite some time. His earlier “tweets” about a possible connection between AtomWaffen Division (AWD) and the O9A may well have led to journalist Kelly Weill publishing an article in The Daily Beast about links between AWD and the O9A.

The journalist in question is Jake Hanrahan who, in his latest tweets about the O9A, referenced an article on a website and which website states that it represents an O9A nexion.

In those “tweets” Hanrahan appears to assume that what is written on the website in regard to Mr Myatt is some sort of “official statement” by the O9A whereas – as Anton Long and many others have stated time and time again – no one person, no one O9A nexion, no collocations of O9A nexions, can ever speak or write “on behalf of the O9A” since the fundamental O9A principle of the authority of individual judgment means that the O9A does not have, never has had, and never will have an “official policy” about anything, and never has, and never will make “official statements” about anything. {2}

All any person or group associating themselves with the sub-culture that is the O9A {3} can do is present their personal opinion and/or their personal interpretation of matters O9A and otherwise.

Hanrahan thus seems to repeat the error made by the likes of Massimo Introvigne which is the fallacy of Illicit Transference {4}.

That journalists, academics, and others – in respect of the O9A – continue to commit the fallacy of Illicit Transference by ignoring one of the fundamental principles of the esoteric philosophy of the O9A is proof of just how limited their research into the O9A is, has been, and continues to be.

In regard to how people associating themselves with the O9A regard Mr David Myatt, journalists, academics, and others should read the book A Modern Mysterium {5} and the article Decoding The Life Of Myatt. They will find a diversity of opinion, which diversity is in accord with the O9A principle of the authority of individual judgment.

TWS Nexion
June 2018 ev

{1} For an overview see The O9A And AWD

{2} The matter is outlined, with references to the relevant O9A texts, in the article referenced at {1} and also in the TWS article at https://wyrdsister.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/about-this-blog/

{3} As Professor Monette explained, the O9A is “not a structured lodge or temple, but rather a movement, a subculture or perhaps metaculture that its adherents choose to embody or identify with.” Monette, Connell. Mysticism in the 21st Century. Sirius Academic Press. 2013, p.89.

{4} Scott, Kerri. The Authority Of Individual Judgment And The Fallacy Of Illicit Transference, in The Peculiar Matter Of Myatt And Long, 2018, e-text. The essay is included in the compilation A Modern Mysterium: The Enigma of Myatt And The O9A, see {5} below.

{5} Available as a gratis open access (pdf) file at https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/myattian-mysterium-v5.pdf [accessed June 2018]


A Very Different Perspective

odal3

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A Very Different Perspective
(pdf)

The compilation conveniently gathers together articles published in late 2017 and early 2018 all but one of which discuss or which review some of David Myatt’s recent books and essays. The articles draw attention to or explain various aspects of Mr Myatt’s philosophy and metaphysical writings such as his usage of terms such as “the numinous” and the “new pagan metaphysics” which he has proposed.

The one exception is the article titled Decoding The Life Of Myatt which provides an overview of Mr Myatt’s controversial life.

As the authoress of one of the articles included notes, “there is a cultural revolution in the truths embedded in the book Regarding Western Paganism And Hermeticism and in the [Myattian] texts referenced therein. But whether such truths can replace the prevalent and mistaken belief that Christianity is somehow the embodiment of Western culture remains to be seen.”

As noted in another article also included, recent works by Myatt provide “an intellectual basis for a new, an enlightened, paganism firmly rooted in an understanding of our debt to Greco-Roman, pagan, culture.”


Numinous Expiation

David Myatt

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Editorial Note: We reproduce here an essay written by David Myatt in 2012 in which he asks an interesting metaphysical question relevant to those who perhaps from pathei mathos have regretted their past deeds but who are not conventionally religious. A question certainly relevant to Myatt’s own life following his apostasy from Islam, his rejection of his extremist past, and his subsequent development of his ‘numinous way’.

Myatt’s answer to the question reveals several things. First, his erudition. Second, how it refreshingly takes us far away from the personal and impersonal demands and intrusions of our temporal material and often egotistical modern world to the world of the mystic and the philosopher where questions about hubris and humility are more important than what this or that politician or government are saying or doing or planning to do. As such the essay echoes truths about our human nature which people such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Christopher Marlow, and many others sought to convey millennia after millennia.

The essay was later included in Myatt’s book Religion, Empathy, and Pathei-Mathos: Essays and Letters Regarding Spirituality, Humility, and A Learning From Grief, available both as a printed book – ISBN 978-1484097984 – and as a gratis open access document here: https://regardingdavidmyatt.files.wordpress.com/2018/06/religion-and-empathy.pdf

It should be noted that Myatt uses some Greek terms such as σωφρονεῖν in an unusual and idiosyncratic way. As new Anglicized terms, which in respect of σωφρονεῖν he explained in his technical note at https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/concerning-σωφρονεῖν.

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Numinous Expiation

One of the many problems regarding both The Numinous Way and my own past which troubles me – and has troubled me for a while – is how can a person make reparation for suffering caused, inflicted, and/or dishonourable deeds done. For, in the person of empathy, of compassion, of honour, a knowledge and understanding of dishonour done, of the suffering one has caused – perhaps before one became such a person of compassion, honour, and empathy – is almost invariably the genesis of strong personal feelings such as remorse, grief, and sorrow. The type of strong feelings that Christopher Marlowe has Iarbus, King of Gaetulia, voice at the end of the play The Tragedie of Dido Queene of Carthage , written c.1587:

Cursed Iarbas, die to expiate
The grief that tires upon thine inward soul.

One of the many benefits of an organized theistic religion, such as Christianity or Islam or Judaism, is that mechanisms of personal expiation exist whereby such feelings can be placed in context and expiated by appeals to the supreme deity. In Judaism, there is Teshuvah culminating in Yom Kippur, the day of expiation/reconciliation. In Catholicism, there is the sacrament of confession and penance. In Islam, there is personal dua to, and reliance on, Allah Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem, As-Salaam.

Even pagan religions and ways had mechanisms of personal expiation for wrong deeds done, often in the form of propitiation; the offering of a sacrifice, perhaps, or compensation by the giving or the leaving of a valuable gift or votive offering at some numinous – some sacred and venerated – place or site.

One motivation, in the case of pagan religions and ways, for a person to seek expiation is fear of wrake; fear of the retribution or of the misfortune, that – from the gods – might befall them or their descendants in this life. Similarly, for those acceptive of an all-knowing, all-seeing supreme deity – or even of the Buddhist mechanism of karma – there is also fear of wrake; fear of the punishment, the retribution, the misfortune, that might await them in the next life; or, in the case of Buddhism, the type of life that might result when next they are reborn.

As the Owl explains in the mediæval English religious allegory The Owl and the Nightingale,

ich wat þar schal beo niþ & wrake

I can see when there shall be strife and retribution [1]

All such religious mechanisms of expiation, whatever the theology and regardless of the motivation of the individual in seeking such expiation, are or can be cathartic; restorative, healing. But if there is no personal belief in either a supreme deity or in deities, how then to numinously make reparation, propitiation, and thus to not only expiate such feelings as remorse, grief, and sorrow but also and importantly offset the damage one’s wrong actions have caused, since by their very nature such suffering-causing actions are ὕβρις and not only result in harm, in people suffering, but also upset the natural balance.

In truth, I do not know the answer to the question how to so numinously make reparation, propitiation. I can only conject, surmise. One of my conjectures is enantiodromia; of the process, mentioned by Diogenes Laërtius and attributed to Heraclitus, of a wholeness arising both before and after discord and division [2]. This wholeness is the healthy, the numinous, interior, inward, and personal balance beyond the separation of beings – beyond πόλεμος and ὕβρις and thus beyond ἔρις; beyond the separation and thence the strife, the discord, which abstractions, ideations, encourage and indeed which they manufacture, bring-into-being. As Heraclitus intimated, according to another quotation attributed to him –

εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ τὸν πόλεμον ἐόντα ξυνόν, καὶ δίκην ἔριν, καὶ γινόμενα πάντα κατ΄ ἔριν καὶ χρεώμενα [χρεών]

One should be aware that Polemos pervades, with discord δίκη, and that beings are naturally born by discord. [3]

But what, then, in practical personal terms are this wholeness and this process termed enantiodromia? To me, this wholeness is a knowing and an acceptance of both the importance of the numinous principle of Δίκα [4] and the necessity of wu-wei [5] – and a knowing which empathy can provide – and thence a desire to live life in a non-interfering manner consistent with empathy, compassion, reason, honour, and humility. And it is this very knowing, this very desire to live in such a manner, which is enantiodromia; which is cathartic, restorative, healing; with a natural humility and the cultivation and practice of reason – σωφρονεῖν, a fair and balanced judgement – being the essence of this personal process, the essence of enantiodromia.

For the human virtue of humility is essential in us for us not to repeat our errors of ὕβρις, a humility which our πάθει μάθος makes us aware of, makes us feel, know, in a very personal sense. For we are aware of, we should remember, our fallibility, our mortality, our mistakes, our errors, our wrong deeds, the suffering we have caused, the harm we have done and inflicted; how much we personally have contributed to discord, strife, sorrow.

In addition,

” …by and through humility, we do what we do not because we expect some reward, or some forgiveness, given by some supra-personal supreme Being, or have some idealized duty to such a Being or to some abstraction (such as some nation, some State) but because it is in our very nature to do an act of compassion, a deed of honour: to do something which is noble and selfless.That is, we act, not out of duty, not out of a desire for Heaven or Jannah, or enlightenment or some other “thing” we have posited – not from any emotion, desire or motive, not because some scripture or some revelation or some Buddha says we should – but because we have lost the illusion of our self-contained, personal, identity, lost our Earth-centric, human-centric, perspective, lost even the causal desire to be strive to something different, and instead just are: that is, we are just one microcosmic living mortal connexion between all life, on Earth, and in the Cosmos. For our very nature, as human beings, is a Cosmic nature – a natural part of the unfolding, of the naturally and numinously changing, Cosmos.” [6]

Thus a personal humility is the natural balance living within us; that is, we being or becoming or returning to the balance that does not give rise to ἔρις. Or, expressed simply, humility disposes us toward gentleness, toward kindness, toward love, toward peace; toward the virtues that are balance, that express our humanity.

This personal humility inclines us toward σωφρονεῖν; toward being fair, toward rational deliberation, toward a lack of haste. Toward a balanced judgement and thence toward a balanced life of humility, wu-wei, and a knowing of the wisdom of Δίκα.

There is nothing especially religious here, nor any given or necessary praxis. No techniques; no supplication to some-thing or to some posited Being. No expectation of reward, in this life or some posited next life. Only an interior personal change, an attempt to live in a certain gentle, quiet, way so as not to intentionally cause suffering, so as not to upset the natural balance of Life.

David Myatt
February 2012 ce

Notes

[1] v.1194. The text is that of the Cotton Caligula MS in the British Library as transcribed by JWH Atkins in The Owl and the Nightingale , Cambridge University Press, 1922.

[2] The quotation from Diogenes Laërtius is: πάντα δὲ γίνεσθαι καθ᾽ εἱμαρμένην καὶ διὰ τῆς ἐναντιοδρομίας ἡρμόσθαι τὰ ὄντα (ix. 7)

My translation is: All by genesis is appropriately apportioned [separated into portions] with beings bound together again by enantiodromia.

As I mentioned in my essay The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic,

I have used a transliteration of the compound Greek word – ἐναντιοδρομίας – rather than given a particular translation, since the term enantiodromia in my view suggests the uniqueness of expression of the original, and which original in my view is not adequately, and most certainly not accurately, described by a usual translation such as ‘conflict of opposites’. Rather, what is suggested is ‘confrontational contest’ – that is, by facing up to the expected/planned/inevitable contest.

Interestingly, Carl Jung – who was familiar with the sayings of Heraclitus – used the term enantiodromia to describe the emergence of a trait (of character) to offset another trait and so restore a certain psychological balance within the individual.

[3] Fragment 80 – qv. Some Notes on Πόλεμος and Δίκη in Heraclitus B80 and also The Balance of Physis – Notes on λόγος and ἀληθέα in Heraclitus.

As I noted in The Abstraction of Change as Opposites and Dialectic, it is interesting that:

“in the recounted tales of Greek mythology attributed to Aesop, and in circulation at the time of Heraclitus, a personified πόλεμος (as the δαίμων of kindred strife) married a personified ὕβρις (as the δαίμων of arrogant pride) [8] and that it was a common folk belief that πόλεμος accompanied ὕβρις – that is, that Polemos followed Hubris around rather than vice versa, causing or bringing ἔρις.”

[4] In respect of the numinous principle of Δίκα, refer to my short essay The Principle of Δίκα.

[5] As mentioned elsewhere, wu-wei is a Taoist term used in my philosophy of The Numinous Way “to refer to a personal ‘letting-be’ deriving from a feeling, a knowing, that an essential part of wisdom is cultivation of an interior personal balance and which cultivation requires acceptance that one must work with, or employ, things according to their nature, for to do otherwise is incorrect, and inclines us toward, or is, being excessive – that is, is ὕβρις. In practice, this is the cultivation of a certain (an acausal, numinous) perspective – that life, things/beings, change, flow, exist, in certain natural ways which we human beings cannot change however hard we might try; that such a hardness of human trying, a belief in such hardness, is unwise, un-natural, upsets the natural balance and can cause misfortune/suffering for us and/or for others, now or in the future. Thus success lies in discovering the inner nature of things/beings/ourselves and gently, naturally, slowly, working with this inner nature, not striving against it.”

I first became acquainted with the concept of wu-wei when, as a youth living in the Far East, I studied Taoism and a learnt a martial art based on Taoism. Thus it might be fair to assume that Taoism may well have influenced, to some degree, the development of my weltanschauung.

[6] The quote is from my essay Humility, Abstractions, and Belief.


Some Problems With Modern Democracy

David Myatt

Editorial Note: Although this 2010 essay by Myatt pre-dates his philosophy of pathei mathos and may therefore fall into the category of writings disowned by him, we republish it here as in our view it offers some interesting insights into modern democracy.

RDM Crew
May 2018 ev

Article source: https://davidmyatt.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/the-moment-of-my-reading/

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A Moment Among My Reading

Some Problems With Modern Democracy

For the past few weeks I have been re-reading classical authors such as Thucydides, Herodotus, Pliny, and Tacitus. Which reading led to me to reflect upon the histories of the nations of the modern West and the form of government – the modern democracy – that they have developed and whether such problems as I, personally, perceive that such a form of government has may be detrimental to Western societies in the future.

Some Basic Problems

1. The first problem I perceive with modern democracy is that a country generally gets the leaders – presidents, prime ministers – and the government who and which tend to reflect, in their words, promises, and policies, the often changeable fears, hopes, and emotions of a majority of people at election time or at least of the percentage necessary to win an election; with such fears, hopes, and emotions often engendered by the Media, by a specific political party, by a ‘social movement’, and by ‘special interest’ (advocacy) groups or individuals with their own agendas, all of whom seek to influence ‘public opinion’ and the policies of politicians and governments. Such ‘special interest’ groups invariably include those with particular business and political concerns who have the financial resources to employ professional lobbyists, Media consultants, and propagandists.

The result is that the political party and/or particular advocacy groups who have the most money during elections campaigns, and who have the support of a substantial part of the Media, and/or who have a candidate for high office who is a persuasive public speaker, influence the result of elections, having persuaded or influenced the percentage of people necessary to win an election.

In other words, modern elections have become an often cynical process of targeting, persuading, and influencing, people (or specific types of people) by appealing to their fears, their hopes, their emotions, based on specific – and supra-personal – political, social, and business, agendas and interests.

In practical terms this means that the leaders tend to represent their own personal (sometimes emotive) and/or political agenda and/or the agendas of whatever ‘special interest’ groups have helped them get elected. Naturally they deny this, since they invariably and cynically declare that their policies and actions represent “the will of the people” – and thus that they have a mandate for those policies and actions – or they rather naively do believe that they have a mandate having a personality or the personal vanity which has made them a mere figurehead for ‘special interest’ groups and/or the political magnates of their own political party who themselves have their own agendas.

Over decades, the cynical process of targeting, persuading, and influencing, people results in changing governments, for with each new election a majority of people are persuaded or believe that “it will be better, different, next time” and that their hopes will be realized by electing a different president or a different political party or even by electing the same political party but with a different prime minister and some different politicians. Meanwhile, very little of substance changes for the majority. There may be some cosmetic changes, but public services often get worse, crime increases, with the poor staying poor, and the rich staying rich or becoming richer, immune or indifferent as the majority of the rich are to declining public services, to social problems, and to increasing crime.

2. The second problem with modern democracy is that politicians in general and candidates for leadership positions in government do not have to have – and in these modern times are not expected by the public to have – practical character-revealing life-experiences; and thus to have undertaken deeds which have revealed that they are courageous individuals who in dangerous or difficult situations have placed the life of others and of their country before their own. Life-experience such as serving in the armed forces of one’s country and being awarded a medal or medals for gallantry; or serving as a ‘first responder’ – such as a paramedic, or a police officer, or in the Fire & Rescue service – and thus having faced difficult, trying, and life-threatening circumstances.

Instead, all individuals have to do to qualify as a politician is to have powerful and influential friends, and/or have the support of a substantial part of the Media, and/or have the support of influential advocacy groups, and/or have adroitly played ‘the political game’ and thus have been selected by the political magnates of their own political party, and/or have personal wealth sufficient to buy their way into the Media or – through (sometimes secret) donations or other means – gain the support of influential advocacy groups.

The result is that in a modern democracy there is a leader, and a government composed of a majority of politicians, who have no courageous deeds to their name, who have no experience of ‘front line’ service to their country and to their people, but who send people to fight wars, who make and enforce policy for the ‘front line’ services of their own land, and who can and who do, and based on some supra-personal political agenda, impose sanctions on other countries and who thus cause suffering to the ordinary people of those other countries.

In other words, you have career politicians who have never proved their mettle – never been tested – in dangerous or difficult situations lauding it over those who have.

3. The third problem with modern democracy is that modern politicians – with only a few exceptions – have mastered and use the art of propaganda, evident in their inability to be open and honest about their own failings and culpability while in public office, and in their inability to be honest about the failure of the policies of their government. Instead, they are adroit at manufacturing excuses, or shifting the blame away from themselves and government policies, or are disingenuous when answering questions or when addressing concerns about their culpability or that of their government.

4. The fourth problem with modern democracy is that, as a consequence of the aforementioned three problems, there is not “government by the people for the people” but instead government by a generally self-serving or advocacy-driven clique. Which political clique is generally wealthier – for politicians are paid well and often have other sources of income – than the majority of the electorate they were elected to serve.

Consequences

Since modern democracy is today still considered by the majority to function reasonably well in terms of maintaining society, it will remain for that majority the only viable option. For its inherent cynical process of targeting, persuading, and influencing, people will work so long as a majority can be persuaded that, after the next election, “it will be better, different,” with the self-serving or advocacy-driven political clique well-understanding the Psychologie des Foules.

Thus, the always well-off political clique will continue to laud it over the poor and those whose ‘front-line’ public service keeps society functioning. The self-perpetuating political clique will continue to makes excuses for their own failures, for declining public services, for government failure to solve social problems, and for increasing poverty, homelessness, and crime.

Mass discontent, as for example in the anti-war protests before and after the invasion of Iraq, strikes, scandals about corrupt politicians, even occasional riots, have not impacted significantly on the self-perpetuating political cliques: a change of leadership, some new policies, the dismissal or the resignation of a few politicians, propaganda by the Media, perhaps the election of a new government, are usually all that is required to maintain the democratic ‘status quo’.

A study of history, ancient and modern, indicates – at least to me – that such manipulation of the many by the few for the benefit of the few cannot, given human nature en masse, continue indefinitely. That there may well arise such a breakdown of basic services, such perceived inequality, such perceived injustices, such widespread discontent, that revolution, somewhere – peaceful or otherwise – seems almost inevitable, with the attendant suffering that revolutions often cause. Thus will the cyclical nature of human history repeat itself, for we humans apparently have not changed, en masse, significantly enough so that we are personally guided by such virtues as honesty, reason, and εὐταξία to thus be immune to the propagandistic machinations of politicians, demagogues, ideologues, and special interest groups. Instead, it seems that the same fears, hopes, and emotions, still guide us, just as the negative traits of old seem to still guide so many of those few who have, by whatever means, acquired power and authority over the majority.

Can this apparently inevitable suffering-causing cyclicity – such as that of governing cliques and their overthrow, and of the decline of societies – be avoided? My own personal – and admittedly fallible – answer is to reform modern democracy so that leaders and politicians must have such personal character-revealing experience as qualifies them to lead and to govern, with that personal experience consisting of proven and years-long ‘front line’ service to their country and to their people such as in the armed forces or serving as a ‘first responder’ in such occupations as paramedic, a police officer, and in the Fire & Rescue service.

However, such a reform by having character-revealing experience as a qualification for political office is unlikely to occur, given vested interests and – dare I say it – an education system which has neglected study in their original language of authors such as Thucydides, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Aristotle, Pliny, Tacitus, and Cicero.

So many times, in the past somewhat turbulent decade of my life, I have reflected upon a particular verse by Sophocles:

πολλὰ τὰ δεινὰ κοὐδὲν ἀνθρώπου δεινότερον πέλει [1]

For this seems to me to capture something of our rather strange human nature – of our ability, our potential, our capacity, to be honourable, self-restrained, rational human beings, and our seemingly equal capacity (or often, greater capacity) to be unsympathetic, insensitive, selfish, dishonourable, untrustworthy, or just plain barbaric.

David Myatt
2010

[1] Antigone, 334. My translation: “There exists much that is strange, but nothing has more strangeness than we human beings.”