Saturday, July 22, 2006

Brief thoughts for the early morning: opponents of homosexuality will never be persuaded by arguments that try to show them that the emotional experiences of homosexuals are the same as the emotional experiences of heterosexuals because they don't consider homosexuality to be an emotional experience, but a purely sexual one. This preconception is built into the unjustified assumption, which I've harped on about elsewhere, that everyone is innately heterosexual and that a homosexual is simply a heterosexual gone wrong somehow: only heterosexuals fall in love, have emotional difficulties, what have you, while homosexuality is nothing more than a deviation from standard sexual practice, a sexual fetish rather than a sexual orientation.

My previous post on the concept of "human worth" was an attempt to articulate a concept I'd read via Fukuyama, who derived it from Hegel, who lifted it from Plato's Republic. Plato's reduction of the human mind into three parts (whose exact names escape me: reason, appetite and spirit?) seems vastly oversimplified to me, but the last of the three - "thymos" in the ancient Greek - which Fukuyama translated as "the desire for recognition" roughly equates to what I'm trying to call "worth". Regardless of my skepticism of how the concept was originally arrived at by Plato, I think that this "desire for recognition" or "sense of dignity" or "human worth" is a part of the human experience. Political systems which reduce human behaviour to a matter of pure economic need - pure socialism I think qualifies, as does pure capitalism - will therefore never adequately address human need as they don't account for the very existence of the need to be considered as having worth as a human being.

The concept of automatically granting innate negative worth to a grouping of humanity provides a moral framework for almost any atrocity seen today: terrorism, ethnic cleansing, anything that has one group of humanity committing atrocities against another grouping. Those of us living in societies where this doesn't occur tend to forget that only a minority of the world lives in such societies, and even there the atrocities have not faded far from history at all. Perhaps the question isn't "why do people do such things?", but "why has a minority of the world population just very recently started actively trying not to do such things?

I do have a major beef with Fukuyama: I'm with him on the concept that liberal democracies are good, and that there's nothing better currently on offer in the world political-system-wise, but in his latest book "after Neoconservatism" he makes the argument that "there is simply no other legitimating ideas besides liberal democracy that is broadly accepted in the world today", and that depots have to at least look like they support democracy if they want their people to not revolt against them. There are in fact at least two other legitimating ideas that exist for rulers besides "the people support my rule". The first is "God supports my rule". The second is "only my rule can protect you from your enemies". I don't know about "broad support", but I do know that support for these two alternatives to liberal democracy as a legitimating idea for rule is not just present, but is even getting accepted in one of the longest-standing liberal democracies on the planet. Look at the reasons some supporters of the current US government give for their support: the Religious Right in America has made it abundantly clear that God votes Republican, and a large swathe of the non-fundamentalist Republican support is based on the premise that only the Republican party can effectively protect America from terrorists.

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