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Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA 
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Post Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
This thread is for discussing Chapter 6 -The Birth of Patriotism and the Historic Role of the United States. You can post within this framework or create your own threads.

Chris O'Connor

"For Every Winner, There Are Dozens Of Losers. Odds Are You're One Of Them"




Sat Jul 03, 2004 9:45 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
I must say that Harris' handling of the concept of family-gang-team is intriguing! His example of Sparta as the progenitor of the team concept, despite it's inherent truculent methods, is well done.

I learned much from this chapter, not the least of which being why I am always so at odds with society as it is defined by our, well, society.

I still see implicit in his direction, a blind faith and obedience to authority, which I will never accept! :)

Mr. P.

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I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain




Fri Jul 30, 2004 6:57 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
This chapter reads nicely and sounds convincing. But I am having some problems buying the idea that the Spartan breakthrough was so unique or that a society has to make use of gang mentality to break the grip of family ties.

Ancient Athens went from tribalism to a democracy through a completely different process that included turmoil, tyrannies and a few wise lawmakers (here is an overview). It did not use organized exploitation of the gang mentality like Sparta did. But loyalties to family or region of origin were made inferior to loyalty to the city. The Athenian political system was less stable than the Sparta's and it was prone to dictatorships. But democracy persisted more or less continuously for a couple of centuries and on and off before and after that. Much more fun place to live in, also.




Sun Aug 01, 2004 10:42 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
The way I saw it, Sparta is not so much a basis of our governmental structure as it is our corporate structure. Ours is a civilization of bits and pieces, Sparta fit the bill of spawning Corporate America well. It is a dog eat dog, take one for the team and forget your individual contribution mentality. (IMHO and experience).

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain




Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:10 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
The importance of subordinating the family is impossible to overestimate. In societies where your duty is to your family, power starts consolidating in the hands of families, as in the Roman Senate.

But Sparta developed an ingeneous system, negating that and creating a stable polity, something almost unheard of in any era. The checks and balances of their government was tremendously influential on 18th Century thinkers in developing the American Republic.

As for the idea that Sparta developed our corporate structure, I would blame the Italians for its origins if blame is necessary as the coporation as a business entity did not exist until 1500 years after Sparta fell to the Romans (please note the IF).




Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:05 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
I am disadvantaged in my lack of knowledge on Sparta and greek history.

I ask: Would the family have been subjugated eventually without the harsh ideals of Sparta? Was not Greek society becoming more of a general society anyway?

There is much I do not know, but the little I do suggests that this may be so. I look forward to learning about this, this is topic, Sparta, is the thing which has impressed upon me the most.

Mr. P.

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Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:13 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
Nowhere outside of Lacedamonia do we see a successful subjugation of the family in Greece. Athens has arguably a degree of success for a short time as a relatively Aristocratically Egalitarian society, when members of well to do families tend to prosper, but they were prone to mobrule, tyrany, with a potential for oligarchy and were incredibly unstable.

Information on societies aside from Athens and Sparta, the two most atypical polities of classical Greece is much more scarce. But Aristocracy, Oligarchy, Monarchy, Tyrany, Democracy and Mob-rule were the principle forms of government. Societies often passed from one system to another when a faction within the polity had enough power or the backing of an army to support it.

Rebellions, betrayals, assassinations, and invasions were far from unheard of. In an era lacking proper capabilities for an army to lay siege to a city, it was necessary to have a faction within the city betray it from within the city walls, often in exchange for being placed in power.




Wed Aug 18, 2004 10:32 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
Ok, this is the chapter that really made my blood boil. By the time I was done reading this, I was ill.
Quote:
Intellectuals tend to forget that ethical ideals do not pop out of the human head but first manifest themselves in practice. Capitalism, for example, did not come into being...
Really. Harris is talking about ethical ideals and uses CAPITALISM as an example? Perhaps if he was an intellectual, he would know the difference between an ethical ideal and an economic system. Even if I ignore this, his comments are just plain wrong. systems can be imagined before they are inacted. Two examples (unfortunately, I can't think of successful examples) are the collectivisation of the soviets and khemer rouge. But the point is that the ideas existed FIRST and then they were executed. This is the opposite of Harris's assertion.
The emergence of a new kind of freedom
I have to say, I really don't like this team eveolution ideas. On one hand, the team of men, not just a group of individuals, is free. On the other hand, they are bound by the traditions of the team. so they are not free. Which is it? Harris discusses an evolution from the time when one ruled all and all others were slaves. But I don't think we have ever seen each other like this. Even the egyptian pharoes had powerful advisors. If a king started to arbitrarily dispose of powerful courtiers, the king was likely to come to an untimely end. The positions Harris takes about how things are/were are just not supported by reality.
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a Kingdom (of God) that, Saint Paul takes pains to remind us, does not recognize the bonds of family, including marriage
Is Harris high? the christian church's policies are there to be antifamily? good god, marriage is a catholic sacrament! What the hell is he talking about?!


His analysis just makes me crazy. Apparently, the south lost the civil war because it didn't have a strong central government. I'm sure the greater manpower, economic strength and industrialization of the north really didn't have anything to do with it. At least it doens't seem that way to Harris. Likewise, after WWI "IN EVERY CASE" groups gaining power did so via ruthlessness. I'll buy that in Russia, Germany and Italy. But what about Greece, Turkey, the Czech republic and Poland?!? Sorry, but in real life, you don't get to pick your examples.
Toward Neo-sovereignty
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This trick (how to fight ruthlessness without succumbing to it themselves) has been mastered by the United States.
Why does he say this? Is it because we are so good at nation building, such as our experiments in Haiti, Afghanistan and Iraq. I'd say as a nation, we are good at it, and perhaps better than most. But to say that we have mastered it is just conceited.

Harris's next fear is that if the U.S. does not step up to the plate, international decisions would be made by the ruthless, and this of course, is unacceptable. Well, if he wants to substitue the word 'terrorist' in there (after all, that's what all this pseudo-theory is about here: justifying US actions in the war on terrorism), I'm with him 100%. Unfortunately, I don't know what he's talking about when he suggests that some are saying the US should become isolationist now. Who is claiming that? No one (I know of) on the left thinks that the war on terrorism should not be vigorously persued. The only question is: how best to do it?
America as the sole source of global legitimacy
Barf, oh, get me another bag, I've filled this one. Barf. As Mr. P said elsewhere, Harris going on one of his contradictions. Ruthlessness has no root causes. But it is obvious that if the root causes don't exist, the ruthless ones gain few followers. Look at the right wing paramilitiaries in the U.S. Yeah, remember all those specials about them after Oklahoma city bombing? Well, they haven't swept the nation. Why? After all they are ruthless. How about the Shining path in Peru or Red Brigades in Italy. Again, Harris picks examples that show his point and ignore those that don't.
Quote:
They condemn the United States President for declaring a war on terrorism
Again: who is this. People in this country and arround the world marched in the streets to condemn a war on Iraq, not on terrorism.

Friends, really, I can't believe we are reading this book. This guy is just full of crud. If this is the best thinking we have to justify our actions in Iraq, we should be ashamed of ourselves.




Thu Aug 26, 2004 6:37 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
Ahhh - thanks. Yeah, I abandoned ship with chapter six.

No one else has mentioned the blatant sexism. Females do not exist in Harris' view, except as wombs for generating more males. Lot of misogyny going on in here - and no one comments on it? Yeeesh! It's revolting.

I tried to discuss this with my husband, but he couldn't stand it. He mentioned that the Nazis were greatly taken with the concept of the 'boy-team' and were great fans of Sparta. What lovely company this book puts us in!




Wed Sep 01, 2004 1:59 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
Quote:
No one else has mentioned the blatant sexism. Females do not exist in Harris' view, except as wombs for generating more males. Lot of misogyny going on in here - and no one comments on it? Yeeesh! It's revolting.


I agree, but since he is examining things in a historical context, what can we expect? The world, throughout history, was male dominated. I don't fault Harris for this.

I do see your point though. I saw this in the book as well as many other things I am not happy with, but that is why we needed you here! I had so much to pick from that I focused on what I thought was important!

Mr. P.

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

I came to get down, I came to get down. So get out ya seat and jump around - House of Pain

HEY! Is that a ball in your court? - Mr. P




Thu Sep 02, 2004 8:02 am
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Post Re: Ch. 6 - The Birth of Patriotism and the...USA
Imagine being the descendant of slaves, and reading a book that extols the virtues of the Confederate states, and describes the inhumane treatment of slaves with admiration. That's what we've got here, in Harris' discussion of Sparta.

Of course I don't blame him for the status of women in history. I do strenuously object to his apparent approval of it.

There was all too much of this kind of sexism going on when I was growing up. No way will I let it pass without comment!

Btw, after I posted yesterday, I saw that you mentioned Harris' sexism in the thread on Ch. 5.

What's with his fascination with the boy team? Why isn't he fascinated with teamwork, which is nonexclusionary? I get the sense that he (incorrectly) imagines that women only cooperate within the framework of the family, and he clearly sees the family as oppressive. He's not only discussing history in his argument, he's presenting his philosophical world-view, and it's noticeably misogynistic. Women = family = oppression.

It's code-talk, and if you're not in the group that's being dissed, maybe it's harder to pick up.




Thu Sep 02, 2004 1:51 pm
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