The Pen is mightier than the sword, but the Pen must sometimes move the sword against corruption if the corrupt are not moved by the pen.. An idea without an implementer is useless. "The Rulers do not carry the sword in vain"Rom 13:4

Friday, May 8, 2015

Hill Billy's vs City Slickers- the Philosphical dimensions of the movie "Deliverance"

Thomas Hobbes claimed in 1651 that.. "Life is Solitary, nasty,Poor, brutish and short!  He also claimed that:

Good and evil are nothing more than terms used to denote an individual's appetites and desires, while these appetites and desires are nothing more than the tendency to move toward or away from an object. Hope is nothing more than an appetite for a thing combined with opinion that it can be had.

 Now..we gravitate to the movie.. "Deliverance".. ouch... remember these scenes and characters?

This was one of two 'Hilly Billy's' who came across some lost 'City Slickers' in Hill Billy Territory. Imagine for a moment, that you have absolute power and the absence of accountability except to your own tribe!  Here we have these rough, primal Hill Billy's who are in exactly that situation.  At least that's how they would see it.  In the wider sense, they are theoretically accountable to the State and Federal governments, the Law of the Land etc... but in all likelihood they never regarded those entities as something to be accountable to!

This is why they call the tax collectors "Revenuers" and the only other time they see authority is when it comes to crush their moonshine stills and drag away a few of the tribe to jail?  That action itself would be viewed from the Hill Billy's frame of reference as an act of war against their tribe.

But now.. for a moment, consider Hobbes description of human nature, and try to separate yourself from your sentimentally held views of justice, right and wrong, good and evil... just think.. "People".  I don't want to end on such a pessimistic note, so bare with me here... for the duration of this thought experiment.  If we have all power and no accountability,  then is it just a 'possibility' or.. a probability, that we might act out latent primal desires and appetites that have previously been suppressed because of the power of Law and Culture that exists in our own frame of reference?

For example, if you put the City Slickers in the place of the Hill Billys (and having the same shotgun as the ultimate 'power' tool)  is it possible or probable, that those city slickers might act out the same desires and appetites that the Hill Billys did? (Raping and abusing these city slickers at the point of a gun).   I think that even the thought of such a situation would feel very uncomfortable for most cozy modern people.  But could that be because facing our true  inner selves is not the happy picture we'd like it to be?

Looking around the world, it seems that all it takes to unleash these primal appatites is...'power' and the lack of accountability.  Look at ISIS, Look at Boko Haram, look at the way the  West Pakistani's treated the Bengalis during the independence war after separation from India...Look at how the Burmese military treats the Karen and other minorities. Look at how Lt Calley treated some Vietnamese villagers during that war...Look at how the English treated the Irish over the centuries...and how the Scottish Clans treated each other!   They all operated from the position of ultimate power and accountability to their own tribe.

THE SOVEREIGN.   In Hobbes view, the masses needed to appoint an all powerful Sovereign to lead them, protect them and arbitrate their squabbles and disputes.  This sounds fine in theory, but when you really think about it..'how' can one person rise above the rest and suddenly be declared "king"?  I suggest that the usual way is for someone to show a high degree of articulateness, military prowess and just outlook....all of which would be seen in war or battle with competing tribes or peoples.  The only thing is...you'd better hope that contrary to most of humanity.. "Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely" does not come true!

ROUSSEAU  Had a different view. He figured that 'the people' are the Sovereign, and the person they appoint as head of Government is to reflect their 'general will'.  The position of head of Government is to be regularly reviewed by consultation with the people (Elections) but Rousseau realized that this becomes untenable in large societies with big populations, so he then suggested that 'representative' democracy was the next step. (for purely practical purposes).

In both Hobbes and Roussea's views, there must be a Social Contract between the people and the Head of Government or just Government.  But Hobbes saw the Sovereign as the King, and Rousseau saw  it being the General Will of the people.

Enter LOCKE.  John Locke had a different view again, but quite similar in some respects. I wont detail his thinking here, but will link it to the American declaration of Independence that supposedly summarizes it.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
 Locke emphasized a deistic view with such phrases as "created equal"  "endowed by their Creator".

Consider for a moment how it might turn out if we removed those phrases?

Self Evident? Not for Hobbes, nor for many other notable social contract theorists. Remember Hobbes.. "Solitary, Poor nasty brutish and short" =The State of Nature.

We can go around and around in philosophical circles in the hope that we might find some 'final solution' to this dilemma  of how humanity should organize itself, but it seems to me that there are two other approaches that need to be considered.
Marxism and Theocracy.


derives it's thinking from many previous philosophical minds and did not just  jump out from behind some intellectual bush when Marx came up with his ideas. This is a kind of hybrid of Hobbes and Locke but with  a few twists.
"The People" (Proletariat) are supposed to be the rulers (Rousseau), but they only rule though an intellectual elite. (Voltaire).  It ends up with those elite being corrupted by the trappings of power and the taste for luxury! It relies though, on absolute despotic  power of that intellectual elite, who use people centric vocabulary for elite power based reality.  Marxism also tries to extinguish two things which are fundamentally vital to human nature, i) The desire and need for family, and ii) the desire for property.
An example of this 'elite speak' is found in a podcast from the Australian ABC  by a Marxist Philosopher who sadly occupies a chair in the faculty of "Social Justice" at Warwick University (UK). His name is Adam Swift and this is the program: "Unfair Social disadvantage caused by the Family".  He has co-authored a book* called purportedly aimed at defending the family that has the primary purpose of redefining and destroying the family!  This is very much worth a listen and/or read because it nails the true despotic colors of Marxist thought to the highest point on the flagpole!


When Rousseau wrote his Social Contract he opened by bestowing  extremely  generous verbal applause and honor  on the City State of Geneva, (which was a Calvinistic Theocracy) as being the closest real world model of his own atheist (at worst) or Deistic (at best) thinking about the organization of society. A summary of Rousseau's more lengthy praise for Geneva is below:

Geneva represents the best of all worlds, a city that displays the best human characteristics whilst keeping the worst "abuses" in check. He goes on to praise the city at great length, referring to its many advantages: its size, its freedom from war, the good relationship between people and magistrates, its union between theologians and "men of letters," the importance of women in Genevan society and its fixed borders. He ends by suggesting that the future happiness and success of Geneva depend upon these advantages.

Personally, I think it's a bit optimistic and naive in our present circumstances to consider a Theocratic approach to political organization. Aside from this, it is totally foreign to the tone and teaching of the New Testament.  A Nation claiming that the political authority is First God, then the Head of government then the government and so on down to the masses has inherent dangers.  It smacks of Robert Filmers "Divine Right of Kings".  I only say this because of the flaws in human nature and the tendency to use power (however it is derived) for personal glory, self gratification and the gradual lifting of one's own genetic kin above all others.

However.. I do believe that there is a possible synthesis between all these which might be workable.  It is an unfinished work, still in progress,  yet does give some direction, perhaps at least a signpost?

Toward Principles of a National Renewal Movement (for Australia, but can apply to anywhere)

The Political and  Social Renewal of Australia

 * Family Values- the Ethics of Parent Child Relationships.

PS. Using the methods of Swift and Ilk to wreck the traditional family, Tyranny and all pervading despotic control (as Plato said in his 5 regimes) is the next step.  All it will take to implement a program as dark as Swifts, is for those who control the levers of power to instruct infant welfare centers and Kindergartens to provide his book to all parents enrolling their children, then to ask the children from time to time "Did mummy or daddy read you a bed time story last night?"  If the approval seeking child answers 'yes'... the school would report this infringement of state ideology to the Department of  Human Services who then despatch a 'Social Worker' to the parents with some 'friendly advice' about not reading bed time stories which "cause unfair social disadvantage" to other (neglected)  children.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please make comments here. Vulgarity or namecalling will not survive the moderator. Reasoned argument alone will survive.