Texas Liberal

All People Matter

William Jennings Bryan & Heraclitus: In Conflict or In Agreement As To The Nature Of The Individual?

In his Cross of Gold speech at the 1896 Democratic Convention, William Jennings Bryan said, ” The individual is but an atom. He is born. He acts . He dies….”

In seeming contrast, the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said “Everything we do or think depends on participation in the divine account.” 

These assertions appear at odds. How can an atomistic individual be part of the collective cosmic whole?

What Bryan says next in Cross of Gold gives a clue. He says—“…But principles are eternal.” 

In Bryan’s conception of life, atomistic individuals find connection with the whole in asserting the underlying principles that give life a greater meaning and coherence.

Read now what Heraclitus said about the actions of individuals—“But although the account is common, most men live as though they had an understanding of their own”

People live as they are seperate from the whole, but really this is not the case. 

I agree with both Bryan and Heraclitus. I see no conflict.

The extent to which you agree or disagree with these men might provide a clue as to your outlook on a number of questions of politics and life. 

Please click here to read about William Jennings Bryan.

Please click here to read the Cross of Gold Speech.

Please click here to read about Heraclitus.

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Political History, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Aggregation Or Association?—The People We Spend Our Time With

  

The National Audubon Society Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World uses the word “aggregation” to describe dolphins that come together only for purposes of feeding. These dolphins are linked in this case by a practical purpose and will break back down into more stable and normal social groupings once they eat enough fish. 

In Jean-Jacques Rosseau’s The Social Contract, Rosseau uses the word “association” to describe people in political union or unified in some way transcendent of immediate needs.

I was reading both books around the same time. Seeing both words used in these ways got me to thinking about why we spend time with the people we spend time with.

For example, on a city bus you have an aggregation. The people are on the bus only until they reach the right stop.

At work, you might have of mix. At core it’s an aggregation because you are the there to get a job done and earn a living. But with time, as relationships form and the common purpose, possibly, takes on more meaning, an association may exist.        

When I hung out at punk rock bars, I always felt that many of us had something in common—If only various types and degrees of alienation. That would be an association.    

At a hotel bar you would have more of an aggregation. People just passing through.

How about school? For some it is an association with real meaning and substance. For others it is an aggregation as the days are counted down to summer vacation, graduation or dropping out.  

People today can be linked today by computer and e-mail. You might have a substantive association with others far away, while you feel the people you spend your time with daily are no more than an aggregation. 

Jail would be an aggregation. Tough I suppose a widespread plot to escape could turn it into an association.

I see society itself as an association. People on the right might see it as an aggregation.  

You might see the distinction between aggregation and association as a kind of academic exercise.

However, I’d say it is important to realize who we feel we share a common purpose with and who may be more incidental to our lives. Having such knowledge would provide a more clear sense of what is important in life and what is worth your time. 

On the level of society as a whole, the more people we feel as truly connected with in an association of fellow citizens and fellow human beings, the more likely we are to pursue fair and humane policies of basic social justice.

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Books, Politics, Sea Life, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do “The People” Exist In A Political Sense?—Questions Spurred By A Low Turnout Election

  

Despite a number of important ballot issues and at least a few open City Council seats in Houston, voters in Houston and Harris County turned out at only around 10% of registered persons.

Here are some questions I have based on this terrible turnout. They are questions that would apply to any low turnout election— 

1. Does a political entity such as a city or a county exist in the most meaningful regard of a shared sense of citizenship when so few people vote? No wonder conditions in Houston are so awful for so many people.

2. Are candidates elected by so few people legitimately elected? Why should office holders not vote the way large donors and more affluent voters wish them to vote, when little counter pressure is exerted by an involved public?

3. Don’t you imagine elected officials hold the public in contempt over such low turnout?   

4. If you accept Aristotle’s premise that society existed before the individual, to people delegitimize their very existence by failing to take part in politics? Do “the people” truly exist in a political sense when turnout is so bad?

5. If county and city services would be temporarily suspended unless municipal elections generated at least 75% turnout, do you think people would then vote? I bet a 75% threshold would be met if folks were told police, fire and water service would be stopped until enough people decided they were really part of our society.

The above picture is of people voting in Haiti in 2006.  Imagine that people can line up and possibly face violence to vote in a poor place like Haiti, but people in Houston and Harris County and elsewhere in America will not come out and vote.   

November 9, 2007 Posted by | Books, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments