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European political philosophy 
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Post European political philosophy
I'm moving this discussion from the National Delusions thread, since it was getting kind of off-topic.

DH: If we rely simply on Fromkin's narrative, then we are left with elite Imperial statesmen fumbling, posturing, scrambling, deceving, invading areas of the world they knew little about and cared even less to learn from.

In any society, which has more than a handful of people and isn't in a state of anarchy, a small elite is making the major decisions. Even if they're democratically elected individuals of humble origins, they're still an elite in that they've obtained significant power.

In terms of them posturing, scrambling, etc., that's just a consequence of them being fallible humans. Few people are capable of making intelligent decisions about complex matters, and those often aren't the people who rise to the top. Also, hardly anyone in Western Europe knew much about the Middle East back then.

My personal views are liberal, pacifist, and anti-imperialist, and I believe that events in the Middle East would have been more favorable had the British and French leadership of the 1920's shared that philosophy. Still, DH, your continual advocacy of a more socialist Europe isn't contributing to the conversation.




Sun Jul 09, 2006 1:13 am
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Post Re: European political philosophy
JtA: In any society, which has more than a handful of people and isn't in a state of anarchy, a small elite is making the major decisions. Even if they're democratically elected individuals of humble origins, they're still an elite in that they've obtained significant power.

It sounds as though you reject ipso facto a "state of anarchy". Perhaps anarchism, or a steady dose with substantial impact, was precisely what the self-destructive, homicidal, nation devouring European empires required....and perhaps the near dead corpse of the Ottoman Empire would have been far better served along local anarchist trajectories than by externally imposed imperial European borders? I believe yes.

Anarchism, at least the variety I've been arguing for, is not chaos and stupidity, but radical democratic participation where leadership is held accountable, is transparent, and in continual, close contact with the community it represents, and to which it returns. Fundamentally, this participatory democracy operates not only for political elections, but as the primary impetus for economic decision making and industrial organization.

Obviously this vision requires profound restructuring of social and political order- actually it requires a revolution, or series of revolutions.

The elite status you refer to is not a necessity, but a choice. We can choose to prop up, support and endorse elite bodies of men to make our decisions and profit form our labors...or choose something else. If we continue to have histories of human experience that only reflect the will and action of these elites, then we will develop an ideology of elite necessity, thinking we have no other choice.

JtA: In terms of them posturing, scrambling, etc., that's just a consequence of them being fallible humans. Few people are capable of making intelligent decisions about complex matters, and those often aren't the people who rise to the top.

I agree that human fallibility and ignorance are inescapable ingredients- thus the need for transparancy, checks and balances, and immediate accountability to those who have entrusted leadership....I argue that certain strands of Libertarian Socialism and Participatory Economics are the best way to ensure such protections. I think human intelligence is largely an issue of opportunity, training and hands-on learning. If the vast majority are never given the chance to engage the issues or make meaningful choices that impact their lives...then they will probably not be equipped to make geopolitical decisions. I think rising to the top is part of the delusion that drove so much of the European mutual suicide that was WW1 and WW1. I think we should consider another approach.

JtA: Also, hardly anyone in Western Europe knew much about the Middle East back then.

All the more reason to avoid rushing, colliding into regions which ignorance was the driving force. I still think the maxim First, Do No Harm is a worthy guide when approaching decisions of such import. I think the better approach to determining what harm was in store would have required the economic and political structures I've described. I think the existing models were primed for harm, and that's exactly what we got.

JtA: My personal views are liberal, pacifist, and anti-imperialist, and I believe that events in the Middle East would have been more favorable had the British and French leadership of the 1920's shared that philosophy.

I agree. I think the favorable results would have been an international revolution of working classes with a profound reshaping of national borders, economic systems, and militarist pathos...frankly I don't know how a liberal, pacifist and anti-imperialist could endorse anything but revolution. Perhaps you could explain?

JtA: Still, DH, your continual advocacy of a more socialist Europe isn't contributing to the conversation.

I'm doing my best Julian.





Sun Jul 09, 2006 10:42 am
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Post Re: European political philosophy
This is a cut-and-paste from another thread:

A, perhaps overly simple, way of looking at the European political landscape in the 19th and early 20th centuries was to see it split up into three main factions: radicals (who advocated leveling revolutionary change), liberals (who advocated some sort of law-guided, representative-democratic system) and reactionaries (who advocated a monarchical system). The radical/liberal Revolutions of 1848 failed, but they scared a lot of powerful people, and the search was on for ways to stabilize the situation domestically and maintain the balance-of-power internationally. The pendulum swung toward the reactionaries.

There was an ideological component to the events in this book. Bolshevism and Zionism play a major part in the second half of the book, and the buzz surrounding the 1919 Peace Conference was democratic and surprisingly modern, even if the methods and results of the conference itself left a lot to be desired. As for the reactionary forces, an odd thing happened--they morphed.




Wed Jul 12, 2006 9:40 pm


Post Re: European political philosophy
July 14 for me. Bastille Day.

This is from page 41:

Quote:
In his report, Lowther pointed out that "liberte, egalite, fraternite" (liberty, equality, fraternity), words drawn from the French Revolution, were both the slogan of the Italian Freemasons...and of the Young Turkey movement. The Young Turks, he claimed were "imitating the French Revolution and its godless and levelling methods..."


The French Revolution was THE revolution. It was still very much on the minds of Europeans. It, not Marx's communism, was still the spectre that haunted Europe.




Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:31 pm
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