Freedom for The Elite and the Rest of Us

The Elite:  Why are you so angry?

Regular people:  You look down on us.  

The Elite:  No we don’t. You are important, and we want to help you.

Regular people:  Well, we have our own ideas about the kind of help we need!

Who are The Elite? They are the ones who want to take control. They think that they have earned the right to decide the direction this nation and even the world should take because of their perfect grades in school and their degrees from high-falutin universities, and they just echo the ideas of liberal college professors who couldn’t earn an honest dime at real work.

Is that true?

Yes, there is a lot of truth to that complaint and that kind of anger.

Regular people in the run of everyday life make choices about what they think is important.

But The Elite don’t listen to them. Instead, they study them.

Well, the regular people are going to be listened to.

Let’s turn the tables and do a little study on The Elite.

Start with the scientists. Of course, some scientists do their work in the laboratory or out in nature through the week; then on the weekend they go to their place of worship like the rest of us. But many have decided that if scientific study can’t answer a question, the question really wasn’t worth asking. That kind of scientist, I hear tell, goes by the name of positivist.

Here are some questions, positivists:  Why does the world exist at all?  Why are you and I kicking around in this world?  What makes it all worth the trouble?  What ought to drive us to do what we do? Is love the greatest thing?

Those are not small questions. They are not worthless questions. But you can’t answer them, positivists.

Next, the rich and powerful. With money and property comes power. But a lot of times they don’t really own what they think they do. And they sure don’t own up to anything. Money drives all the choices they make. Money owns them.

The rights and privileges of money are enshrined in the Constitution, according to the Supreme Court.

What about the Elite News Media? They all claim to be like Sergeant Joe Friday, saying, “It’s just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.” They aim for neutrality, which means that anything goes. Any act is as moral as another, and the only shared value is the lack of shared values, except what drives the ratings.

The Hollywood crowd? Celebrity brings a power to influence fans and followers, but it never has guaranteed moral authority. Why are the decisions these people make more important than ours?

Theologians? They got rid of Judgment Day by declaring that any one sin is as bad as another. We’re all bound for Hell. Only God decides who gets a pass and who doesn’t. God has also decided who gets blessed with divine knowledge, and it’s the theologians.

Philosophers in universities? First I’ll have to say that they are almost an extinct species, a dead-end branch of evolution. Every once in a while a philosopher pops its head up and tells us that free will doesn’t exist. Well, sir or ma’am, what made you choose to say that? Now philosophers are being replaced by English professors in the universities. They tell us about something called postmodernism. After 350 pages we learn that it’s all a joke that nobody is going to understand, unless more “research” is funded.

Politicians? They are next only to God. Yeah.

Except one who aims to replace God in American hearts and minds. You know who I’m talking about – #PythonDon #TakinOverThaSwamp #AmericasFirstRussianPresident.

What a revoltin’ predicament the failings of The Elite have brought us to. And my own humble failings as well.

You can argue all you want about the paradox of free will. Choosing still happens. The real question is – where does it happen? Are choices made only at the top? Are they made by individuals or groups of people? Are real choices made only by people who pretend to be value-neutral, and only by consensus? Are they made at multiple levels?

At a, believe it or not, liberal southern university I learned a chant at religious gatherings on Saturdays in the fall. I’ll adapt it to the present purpose:

Hoddy Toddy! Godamighty! Who the hell are we?

Hey! Flim-flam! Bim-bam! We count, by damn!


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Power and Systems

Witnesses from Schopenhauer to Frances Perkins agree that a sense of responsibility accompanies choices made by force of will, whether in the life of an individual or a nation. If I or we choose, then I am or we are accountable.

Yet on occasion something happens that looks very much like choosing, and it seems impossible to assign accountability. Nobody takes responsibility. Continue reading “Power and Systems”

Is Free Will an Illusion? Not by These 5 Rules

“Is free will an illusion?” Four of 6 philosophers surveyed by the online Chronicle of Higher Education in 2012 agreed that free will is an illusion. One said no, and one gave an in-between answer.

The majority answer derives from an arbitrary assumption of objectivity. That assumption, even when recognized as arbitrary, remains difficult to discard.

Not only in 2012, but from the earliest time I can remember thinking about GSOT, the question of free will and its arbitrary answer has provoked in me the long search described in these blogs. Continue reading “Is Free Will an Illusion? Not by These 5 Rules”

The Will from Schopenhauer to Tolstoy

Lev Nikolayevitch Tolstoy wrote only 3 full novels, but many consider him to be the greatest of all novelists. Devotees debate whether War and Peace or Anna Karenina is his best work. Each required years of drafting and revising.

Sofya Andreyevna (Behrs) Tolstaya, or Sonya, wife of Leo Tolstoy, has received too little credit for her part in his writing career. She copied and discussed his manuscripts, read widely herself, protected him from distractions, took charge of household affairs, and most of this while pregnant as they had 13 children.

How does Tolstoy capture the interest of his readers? Like all great writers, he aptly presents just those details of scene, dialogue, and action on which the consciousness of each character in turn can focus, so that the reader transfers mentally into living moments of time. His prose evokes emotions, leads the reader to feel what the character feels. In narrative voice Tolstoy sometimes steps back and comments on how the character may once or repeatedly miss the mark, making crucial mistakes that lead to a growing dilemma. Yet the same character reveals within his or her own thoughts, presented to the reader, how actions are justified in a mind shaped by personal temperament, history, and goals. Continue reading “The Will from Schopenhauer to Tolstoy”

Schopenhauer. 5. An Atheist Seeks Immortality

In Arthur Schopenhauer we meet the paradox of an atheist who believed in immortality.

A quick reflex would be to declare Schopenhauer hopelessly confused and dismiss him out of hand. That’s difficult for me, however, because he developed the concept of will so decisively.

I believe that the concept of will marks a path, an intellectual path at least, that makes belief in God reasonable. Let me try to explain. Continue reading “Schopenhauer. 5. An Atheist Seeks Immortality”

Schopenhauer. 3. The Will

What do you think might exist “outside of all time” and yet constitute “the inner being of man-in-himself”? Would you guess that it might have something to do with freedom? If you can come up with a persuasive answer, then you might just understand Arthur Schopenhauer. Continue reading “Schopenhauer. 3. The Will”

Who Let the Wild Ass Run Free? – Book of Job

Freedom exposes us to suffering. Humans grow up in the wild, apart from the presence of God and ignorant of God’s plans. To gain freedom, that’s how it has to be, because the world gives birth to freedom only in the absence of God’s dominant will.

Therefore, God created an uncaring world, behind which God hides, so that humans can gain freedom in a world that also brings suffering. This is the message I find in the biblical Book of Job. Continue reading “Who Let the Wild Ass Run Free? – Book of Job”