Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

Unrecognized Allies?

Posted by Dave Bath on 2007-05-08

In two major domains of society, religion and economics, traditional enemies are now natural allies, but are yet to recognize their common cause and join forces.  It is hard to describe, but simpler to call the new divide as the sophisticates versus the barbarians.  The barbarians are predators and their dupes.

This new divide, and potential for new alliances has received little, if any, attention in the press, apart from flippant labels about "doctor’s wives".

Consider religion.  The sophisticates are the secular humanists and those with a progressive theology, who see the common utilitarian ground of theist (Abrahamist, Zoroastrian, etc) and atheist (Hellenic, Buddhist, Confucian, etc) moral philosophies.

The religious barbarians are the fundamentalists, as well as the non-believers who spend little time thinking about the social implications of individual actions.  The predators gain power over their followers or money from collection plates.  Prosperity Gospel peddlars fast become millionaires.  Dupes among Moslems are made into suicide bombers.

Consider economics.  The sophisticates believe in the objective of a fair allocation of resources, good governance, the urgency for action on environmental issues and have worries about the way markets are operating out of balance.  Greens and socialists share many of the same concerns and ends as The Economist and Harvard Business School, even though they will disagree on means.

The economic barbarians don’t care about the big picture, but merely compete to accumulate resources.  Long term thinking merely involves increasing existing disparities to gain future leverage.  The new capitalist predators exploit not only workers and consumers, but their new prey of the mass of small investors sucked into the market.

Regardless of domain, sophisticates hate the ignorance that allows predatory barbarians to flourish. The sophisticates look for common ground and common interest.

Strange times indeed.  Mal Fraser, arch-conservative ex-PM, with his Phillipics against Howard’s subversion of justice and architected intolerance, is almost a darling of the left.  The Economist rails against the "inverted pyramid" of derivative markets, the lack of action on climate change and "psychological tics… a reason why markets are ultimately inefficient". (2007-05-05 p75)

We must rally behind the catchry of Cicero (my all-time favorite politician): "Concord of the orders", which called for people of good-will, whether patrician, knight or pleb, to join together against self-serving demagogues and corruption.

How many West Wing fans cheered when Democrat Matt Santos asked Republican Arnold Vinnick to be his Vice President?  How many wanted this after the unorthodox and inspiring (but unfortunately fictional) presidential debate?  This need not be fantasy.  It is a parable for what those people with good hearts and educated minds must do now, even though we come from opposing schools of thought.

Long ago in China, philosophers of the three schools (Buddhist, Confucian and Taoist) would drink together, exclaiming "One truth, three ways of saying it".  If we were to sit "natural enemies" Mohammed and Voltaire, Bob Brown and the editor of The Economist at a table, there would be polite disagreement about recommended policy details, but unity about aims (one end, thirty strategies), and all would condemn John Howard.

We need to give the predatory barbarians with power, those who hate the sophisticated elite, the left-right combination punch.  It’s the only way we can knock them out.  The ignoscenti are unlikely to grasp the arguments, but will perceive the significance of bipartisan criticism.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  We might not meet face to face, but we can read each other’s literature for ammunition.

See Also:
Do the classics create people with progressive politics?(1)
Do the classics create people with progressive politics? (2)
Dawkins v God (1) on how Dawkins should have approached the Anglican Bishop

3 Responses to “Unrecognized Allies?”

  1. Dave Bath said

    A crosspost at another site was referenced in Club Troppo’s best of Australian blogging Missing Link 2007-05-10

  2. […] I would also point to my olde post ("Unrecognized Allies?" 2007-05-08, which got a Missing Link mention) which includes: In two major domains of […]

  3. […] "Unrecognized Allies" (2007-05-08) includes a discussion inter alia of how atheists should treat progressive theists that recognise that such theists assert (correctly) that their understanding evolves. […]

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