This ‘lack’ of philosophers can be explained in two ways.

Nobody = among those with enough ‘brain power’ – cares enough any longer about finding the raison d’etre for which we toil on this Earth.

Not enough of the regular people find this subject interesting enough to keep alight the flame of the discussion.

The consequence being that freak ‘intellectual monsters’ have occupied the front stage and drive the ‘unsettled’ among us to utter insanity.

nuts

My take on the matter being that we live in a different world that we used to.
One where both the explanations mentioned above hold almost equal sway.

Thinkers do not touch the subject with the same vigor as a couple of centuries ago because knowledge has become vast enough so that very few people dare to look from one (putative) end to the other.
Commoners do not care much about the subject because they have become rather complacent. Day to day life no longer poses the same challenges as it used to, to the tune that most people, including the not so well of, do not feel such an ‘urgency’ about tomorrow as the one felt by our forefathers.

What we have is a total lack of workable ‘world visions’.

Usually in time of crises new ideas were presented to the public, some of them took roots, and the (local) world enjoyed a fresh start.

For instance when the Athenian democracy reached its crises point Plato came up with a whole concept that influenced the thinking of Europe for the next two and a half millennia.
I’m not going to discuss here the ups and downs of his teachings but the very fact that enough people followed them, and that his ideas survived for so long, means that there was something there. In the ‘cooperation’ between the philosopher and his followers.

The last inflection point happened sometimes in the XIX-ht and XX-ht centuries. Darwin, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Marx (the philosopher and the sociologist, not the political activist), Adam Smith, Durkheim, Max Weber, Einstein, Popper, Kuhn, Maturana…

Now?
Zilch!

Not that people do not think anymore.

Take Nicholas Nassim Taleb for instance. Or Jared Diamonds, Robert Prechter and Neagu Djuvara – to name but the first three who crossed my mind!
Yes, each of them had their relative moment of glory but not any near of what each of them really deserved!
Maybe because none of them had actually engaged in an all out effort to redefine human understanding on matters? Knowing that we are not yet ready to embark on a new project?

Have we become so lazy?

No, I cannot accept such a thing.
We’ll surely grow out of this. Fast!

 

other countries are laughing at us

Paul Noth, The New Yorker Cartoon

The US is the most religious of the civilized nations.
Yet so many Americans believe that “greed is good” despite greed being scorned by all major religions.
Most of those who do believe that quote Adam Smith when asked about the foundations of their creed:

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

Unfortunately they don’t take the time to read some more of Smith’s work.

A puppy fawns upon its dam, and a spaniel endeavours by a thousand attractions to engage the attention of its master who is at dinner, when it wants to be fed by him. Man sometimes uses the same arts with his brethren, and when he has no other means of engaging them to act according to his inclinations, endeavours by every servile and fawning attention to obtain their good will. He has not time, however, to do this upon every occasion. In civilised society he stands at all times in need of the cooperation and assistance of great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the friendship of a few persons. In almost every other race of animals each individual, when it is grown up to maturity, is entirely independent, and in its natural state has occasion for the assistance  of no other living creature. But man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages. Nobody but a beggar chuses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of his fellow-citizens. Even a beggar does not depend upon it entirely. The charity of well-disposed people, indeed, supplies him with the whole fund of his subsistence. But though this principle ultimately provides him with all the necessaries of life which he has occasion for, it neither does nor can provide him with them as he has occasion for them.
The greater part of his occasional wants are supplied in the same manner as those of other people, by treaty, by barter, and by purchase. With the money which one man gives him he purchases food. The old cloaths which another bestows upon him he exchanges for other old cloaths which suit him better, or for lodging, or for food, or for money, with which he can buy either food, cloaths, or lodging, as he has occasion.
Had they done their homework they would have had the chance to figure out that Smith was the first to understand that in order to fulfill their self interest people must treat each-other with respect. Otherwise trade would be impossible.
And what kind of division of labor could develop among people that despised each-other? Could anyone eat or wear something that even came close to a pariah – the actual meaning of the word being “untouchable”, a person that soils everything that makes contact with his person?
The US is the biggest economy in the world. It has enjoyed that status for more than a century now. During that time many American corporations have built huge portfolios abroad and some of them do more business outside the US than inside the borders.
This very week the Republican Party has nominated its presidential candidate. This guy, Donald J. Trump, has managed, in the last six short months, to aggravate almost everybody on this planet. Mexicans, Chinese, the whole Islam… and more than half the American population – he is perceived unfavorably by 59.2% of ‘his’ potential constituents.
Traditionally, the GOP was biased towards businesses and the business people – and fittingly so. So much so actually that G. W. Bush has thrown the traditionally Republican fiscal prudence overboard during his first mandate. Not only that he had reduced taxes but also embarked on a massive spending spree.
During the convention that nominated Trump as candidate Gov. Scott Walker, one of Trump’s most enthusiast supporters, mentioned:
Why is it so hard to figure out that ‘the well connected in Washington’ – exactly those who control those huge American businesses abroad – are doing everything in their power to get rid of Trump? Even if that means backing such an unpalatable candidate as Hillary Clinton? We should not forget that her behavior as Foreign Secretary – in what concerns her manner of dealing with her e-mails – proves a total lack of respect towards rules and regulations.
And what does Gov. Walker mean by ‘the well connected in Washington’? By every measure Donald Trump is one of them. So much so that he gleefully admits it.
trump wedding
Finally, but not last, we have the problem of the ‘failed presidencies’.
Quite a sizeable number of Americans are undecided whether Carter or Obama were the worst American Presidents ever.
The rest of the world remembers Carter as the guy who successfully brokered the Camp David deal while Obama continues to enjoy a good reputation abroad, despite the huge number of drones that were used during his mandate over foreign territories and despite  his failure to shut down Guantanamo, as he had promised.
Had America been a small country, equivalent to Switzerland, for instance, all these would have been of very little importance.
Since the US is not only the biggest economy of the world but also the most powerful nation on Earth, people all over the planet are keeping their fingers crossed about what’s going on there.

trumped up plagiarism

I’m not naive enough to argue that the most powerful man on Earth must also be a very honest one and that not even the slightest shadow must be allowed to tarnish his public image.

After all even his followers portray him as an effective leader who gets things done, not as a virgin knight riding a white horse. Otherwise the ’eminent domain’ incident and all subsequent ones would have already scuttled his political career.

Recent developments show that at least some Americans have started to figure out the real danger posed by his ‘management style’:

It’s an embarrassing screw up; clearly the passages were lifted, and a half-assed attempt was made to vary them by changing a word or two. Sad thing is, Melania actually did a good job in the delivery. This didn’t have to happen.

It just offers more evidence that Trump can’t/won’t hire competent people. He’s ultimately responsible here. With him as President, we’d probably be subject to these kind of embarrassments on a daily basis. Seems he either hires people who are in way over their head, or hires smart people and then refuses to listen to them. What kind of cabinet would he pick as President? It really doesn’t matter; he probably wouldn’t heed their advice anyway

Unfortunately they also prove that there are some people who don’t give up on him so easily:

Michelle Obama did not write “her” speech. A team of paid political speechwriters did. THAT is Trump’s point with having his wife repeat those words.

PS.
Just read about another possible interpretation of what had happened.

The sentences were probably planted there to make Melania’s speech go viral and drive the left wing crazy.

Very plausible hypothesis, given Trump’s modus operandi, and suggesting that Trump may entertain an even more disparaging opinion on his followers than the one he has already expressed:

““I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” he said.”

‘I can make my wife do some dirty work for me and still not loose any voters’.

shooting trump

truck-nice

When facing an uncertain future, people are hard wired to search their past.
Some look for things that have gone well and hope that reenacting them will bring back a measure of order in their lives.
Some others look for clues pointing to things that went bad, hoping that making them right will change their prospects.

In this respect I remember how fascinated I was when I first heard about Malraux’s “The XXI-st Century will be religious or will not be at all“.
When trying to understand what Malraux wanted to convey we must remember that he started as a left wing intellectual who, at some point, felt an admiration for Stalin. Later, after he found out what Stalin was really up to, Malraux had given up on Stalinism but never on his atheism. So?

Looking even further back in time we arrive at Emile Durkheim’s Suicide.

Written at the end of the XIX-ht century the book teaches us that while suicide remains a profoundly individual decision those who consider it are deeply influenced, when making the call – one way or another, by the strength and nature of the social ties that connect him to the community to which each of them belongs.
Further into the book Durkheim also discusses the fate of the communities themselves, arguing that a society needs to keep a dynamic balance between social control – that keeps a community together – and a healthy dose of deviance – which might pull at the seams of a society but simultaneously allows it to change when it has to do that in order to survive.

OK, all these are very nice but will you come back to our present? You promised us something about the future and you are leading us further and further into the past. Into a ‘mythological’ past, no less…

One of the most pressing issues that we must face today is the advent of ‘lone wolf’ terrorism. The kind that not only scares us the most but also the one that is hardest to prevent.
Some even try to make us accept the idea that we’ll have to learn to live with it.
“No revelations come from the massacre in Nice. There is nothing to be learned. This is what we live with, what we are getting used to living with. None of it is surprising—that’s the most frightening thing of all.” (George Packer, The Tragic and Unsurprising News from Nice, the New Yorker, July 15 2016)

Well, I strongly disagree with this line of thinking.

What happened in Nice, where a lunatic drove a truck through people gathered to watch fire-works celebrating Bastille Day and killed 86 of them, is proving that both Malraux and Durkheim were spot on. Each in his own right.

In the last twenty or so years, terrorist acts have doubled as suicides. Some perpetrated by ‘simple minded’ youngsters driven to desperation by perceived socio-economic inequities and primed by callous so called religious leaders while others were carefully planned and cold-bloodedly executed by apparently sophisticated members of the middle class.

If we interpret these acts according to Durkheim’s theories we might reach the conclusion that the communities that harbor the terrorists do not function properly. Either the individuals feel so constraint by the existing rules that they cannot find enough breathing space – and snap – or that they cannot find enough social support – and go out ‘with a bang’.

Or both, at the same time.

Let’s remember that those who comited most recent terrorist acts, in Europe and in the Middle East – if we count those who joined ISIS coming from the Western Europe, are second generation Muslim immigrants or new Islamic converts.
I’ll deal with these two categories separately.
The second generation immigrants had a very frustrating experience.
Their parents came from abject poverty, worked hard and, most of the time, fared a lot better in their new countries than any of them even dreamed of on arrival – specially when comparing to the situation in their countries of origin. The youngsters went to school alongside the natives, watched the same television programs and read the same books and magazines. And grew to have the same expectations. But had a lot more difficulties when tried to fulfill them. Because of their skin color, religion, etc., etc. Add to that the nefarious propaganda coming from the Wahhabi preachers and you have an already primed keg of gun-powder waiting for a spark.
But let’s not forget that these people live in otherwise closely knit communities.
And that preparations for terrorist acts do take some time and effort.
How come these preparations go unnoticed and, even more important, unreported?

Can we conclude that whole communities have went past the ‘I don’t care anymore’ point?

A situation for which Durkheim used the term ‘Anomie‘?

Could we consider that not only the immigrant Islamic communities are in an anomic state but also the larger, host ones? For letting the whole situation degrade to such an extent? Not only at home but also at the door steps of Europe?
And please remember the new converts to Islam. What happened to those youngsters – most of them are young people –  that they became so estranged to their native society that emigrated to a totally different realm, not to a different country? A few of them might be explained away by individual ‘deviance’ but such a large number becomes a social phenomenon that begs a different explanation.

Should we accept the situation – and the degradation that would inevitably follow if nothing is done – or should we heed to Malraux’s advice and do our best to find new, and more efficient, communication channels so that we’ll be able to built some much needed trust amongst us? Based on mutual respect, not on MAD force?

Recep Tayyip Erdogan saved his political ass last week-end by urging his “supporters to take to streets in protest of coup

gettyimages-576527614

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan react to a Turkish military tank in front of the Turkish Parliament July 15, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Which they did and the coup eventually failed.

Leading some observers to salute the maturity of the Turkish democracy:
“The most valuable outcome of last night’s events is that many people who are not AKP supporters stood up for democratic values despite the recent crackdowns on the opposition, and despite the tension and the polarization of the country.” (Erol Önderoglu, Turkey’s Reporters Without Borders representative who is currently on trial on terrorist propaganda charges after participating in a solidarity campaign with a pro-Kurdish newspaper.)

“These people do not support Erdoğan, but they oppose the idea of a military coup. Turkey has a history of very painful, traumatic military interventions, so I was not surprised to see such united opposition to this attempt.” (an academic who wished to remain anonymous)

But ‘not everybody is happy in paradise’.
“Everyone spoke out against the coup last night and that gave me hope” … watching events unfold today this hope has shrunk quickly. Last night there was the possibility that the government would use this to return to a more unifying language, to return to the peace talks, to unite the country. But today it looks like they will use [the coup attempt] simply to consolidate power.” (the same anonymous academic)

What’s going on there? Is Turkey a real democracy?
Or, if we dare to look from the other side, ‘what’s wrong with contemporary democracy’?

Is it enough for elections to be held regularly and the votes duly counted for a country to be called ‘democratic’?

I’m afraid not.
Communist Romania did have regular elections, where a huge proportion of the people rubber-stamped the party line.
Putin is currently serving a third mandate as Russian president, after paying lip service to the Russian constitution and letting Dmitry Medvedev fill in between 2008 and 2012.
No major irregularities were noted at the time of the voting in Russia when Putin was reelected but somehow I cannot consider the process fully democratic.

Even in the United States things are no longer what they used to be. Both major parties have put forth candidates that are seen unfavorably by a majority of the people. So unfavorably in fact that 13 % of the registered voters would rather see the Earth being hit by a giant meteor than any of the two as President.

unfavorable trump clinton

Clinton trump unfavorable

clinton meteor

Public Policy  Polling, June, 13, 2016, Raleigh


So, again, what’s going on here?

I’m afraid that what has been known as ‘democracy’ is being slowly eroded to ‘mob-rule’.

You see, in a really democratic situation you get the ‘real deal’ with ‘all the trimmings’ while when having to deal with ‘mob rule’ all you get is some ‘window dressing’.
Or, as the Romanian saying goes, on the outside you are greeted by a white picket fence but once inside you’ll have to deal with a white fanged tiger.

Let me explain myself.
Theoretically democracy is a situation where everybody has some, even if minute, influence over the fate of the community to which he is a part.Practically it means “government by the people; especially :  rule of the majority”.

I’m almost sure that by now most of you have already figured out what I’m driving at.

‘Rule of majority’ can be more dangerous than a regular dictatorship if that majority has been improperly led into voting the way they did.
A ‘dictator’ might be wise enough to know that if he drives the situation way beyond the plausible something will eventually snap but someone callous enough to lie to an entire society doesn’t have such qualms. In fact this is the explanation for why not all authoritarian regimes end up in complete failures.

On the other hand most of them do exactly that while no democracy has failed yet, as long as it maintained its democratic character.

Why? Simple.

Running a complex system – and a country is a very complex system, is a matter of setting goals and avoiding making mistakes.

And while setting goals is important, avoiding mistakes – specially catastrophic ones, is paramount.

If goals are chosen improperly – not bold enough, for instance, or even misguided, that society will experience a ‘hiccup’ but if that society is led into a dead-end then it might never recover. The ‘funny’ thing here being that in many instances the authoritarian leaders were quite good at setting goals but almost always sooner or later ended up in a ditch because they were very poor at avoiding potholes.

But how come democracies are better at avoiding grave mistakes than centralized administrations?
‘Four eyes see more than two’, specially if they look in different directions.
Every authoritarian regime follows the cue of the authoritarian leader and tends to down-play, or even ignore, the rest of the problems. This tendency is accentuated by the fact that those positioned higher on the roster tend to be better insulated from the immediate effects of their decisions. So relatively small mistakes keep piling one atop the other until the heap cannot be balanced any longer.
On the contrary, in a functional democracy – where everybody has a real chance to bring his concerns to the attention of others, mistakes are not only easier to spot but also easier to avoid.
Only this cannot happen as advertised unless the members of a society have a healthy dose of mutual respect. Nobody is going to pay any attention to what is being said by a ‘pariah’. No matter how interesting, or important, that might be.

And this is exactly what happens in a ‘mob-rule’ environment. Nobody listens anymore to what ‘the other’ has to say. People allow themselves to be driven into separate herds and, once there, pay no attention to anybody else but their ‘own’ cattle-driver. Who not only that doesn’t have any respect for ‘his’ herd but usually doesn’t care for anything else but their votes. Reason would ask that he should pay close attention to the well being of his herd but since he is convinced that he can always attract new followers he will usually go for the ‘cheapest’ alternative – taking good care of a flock being more ‘expensive’ than luring some new ‘green horns’.

That’s how people become estranged from one another and end up with their eyes glued to the whip of the cattle driver. That’s how democracy becomes an empty concept.

That’s why an honest count of the ballots doesn’t mean much if the public discussion which preceded the voting wasn’t both free and meaningful.
That’s why reducing democracy to ‘rule of the majority’ is akin to putting the cart before the horse.

The real scope of the whole process being to openly examine as much information as humanly possible before starting to make decisions (vote), not to (artificially) build majorities around (charismatic?!?) political figures. Or should I rather call them by their rightful name? Con men?

 

1886

“Putini stiu astazi ca Palatul Ateneului Roman s-a cladit cu banii dintr-o subscriptie publica, in urma organizarii unei loterii nationale (500.000 de bilete in valoare de un leu), apelul adresat cetatenilor de naturalistul Constantin Esarcu (1836-1898), fondatorul Societatii Ateneul Roman, sunand ca o chemare populara, printr-un slogan de-a dreptul comic si banal: “Dati un leu pentru Ateneu!”. Ideea apelului s-a transformat surprinzator intr-o lectie de unitate, de trezire a constiintei nationale.”

ateneu

De la Amarandei Lucian, DP, https://ro.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=327965

 

2016

“Guvenul României şi Ministerul Culturii lansează oficial campania de susţinere a subscripţiei naţionale pentru achiziţia operei lui Constantin Brâncuşi „Cuminţenia pământului”. Campania se va derula până pe 30 septembrie şi are nevoie de un sprijin cât mai larg, anunţă Guvernul.”

Vom reusi oare sa urmam exemplul stramosilor nostri?

certificat-de-donator_14687385370029

nlm_o2_graphic10

 

“When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.” (Newton’s third law of motion)

For me, the most interesting side of this phenomenon being that the ‘reaction’ is innate in the nature of things. None of the two objects that interact need to do anything in order for Newton’s law to be obeyed.

paramecium-diagram

Google Paramoecium – the unicelular organism depicted here, and you’ll get a lot of pictures resembling this one. None of them even mentions ‘membrane’. That’s an eloquent enough proof about the fact that membranes are, unreasonably, taken for granted.

The next level of this is the ‘membrane’. That thing that separates the ‘inside’ of an living organism from its ‘outside’ and which not only distinguishes between these two spaces but also controls whatever enters and exists the organism – as long as all goes in a regular manner. If something irregular happens to that particular organism its membrane might be overpowered and the organism dies.
At this level also things happen according to some innate laws, without outside intervention and without any need for deliberation on the part of the organism itself. Even when we speak of evolved animals and even with us, humans, most of the inner workings that take place inside our bodies happen ‘under the radar’.

And it seems that what we call ‘deliberation’ isn’t that important after all. Newton’s laws have organized the Universe ever since mass has been around while membranes have made life possible on Earth for the last billion years or so.

The third level, what we call human conscience, has started to develop some 200,000 years ago. Approximately, of course. Humberto Maturana has proposed a very interesting explanation about how it came to be and you can read about it here. For what I have in mind, it is enough for me to mention that Maturana says that we are not only conscious but also aware of our consciousness.

And it is this awareness that has the most important consequences.

I started this post by quoting Newton’s third law of motion. I’ll go back to him and remind you of the first two:
“An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by a net force” Meaning that things have a tendency to keep doing whatever they are doing at any given moment until something from outside messes with them and
The vector sum of the forces F on an object is equal to the mass m of that object multiplied by the acceleration vector a of the object: F = m Meaning that the end result of an interaction is not commensurate only with the amount of energy spent during that interaction but also with the manner in which that interaction has taken place. The ensuing ‘vector sum of the forces on an object’ depends essentially on two things. How big are the individual forces at play and in which direction are each of them pulling at the object.

I’ve been speaking about ‘three levels’.
At the first two levels the amount of force that was messing with our objects and its orientation relative to the objects (Vector sum) depends only on ‘chance’. The objects themselves – who have no say on the matter, the interactions following blindly some innate rules – can not influence in any way the outcome of the interaction. The results have already been settled at the moment when ‘chance’ had met with the individual characteristics of each object involved in the interaction.

The third level, though, has a very interesting characteristic. At least one of the objects involved – the human individual – is, at least somewhat, aware of its own existence and of its ability to interfere in the development of the interaction. To influence the outcome of  interactions that take place within his reach.

This very awareness, how ever partial, explains why most individuals do their best to survive: they are aware of their mortal nature so they do everything in their power to stay alive, in fact to respect Newton’s first law.
Also it is the same awareness that is responsible for our ‘rational’ behaviour. We have discovered that the results depend heavily not only on the amount of effort spent on the occasion but also on how that effort was applied to the task. Hence the conscientious manner in which we try to get as much bang for our buck.

And the same awareness makes me wonder how come so few people understand the difference between ‘reactive’ and ‘constructive’.
Why so many people, when confronted by a new situation, tend not only to fall back on the ‘tried and trusted’ but also to defend them as ‘the only valid option’. Not taking into account that it is the very novelty of the entire situation that is the most challenging aspect of the whole thing.

So instead of putting all the cards on the table in an attempt to find out a mutually acceptable solution for all – or at least for as many as possible – participants in a given interaction tend to jealously keep their cards close to their chests, negating any chance of cooperation.

 

rocket1

The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin, 2007  A good lesson about how to overcome this tendency.

 

potrivit pentru prim ministru

“Ion Iliescu a declarat pentru Digi 24 ca Dragnea ar putea sa fie premier din toamna, ca urmare a rezultatelor obtinute de PSD in alegerile locale. Potrivit acestuia, Dragnea ar avea “toate calitatile necesare” iar condamnarea sa nu reprezinta un impediment.”

Pe 22 Aprilie 2016 Liviu Dragnea, presedinte al PSD, a fost condamnat, definitiv, pentru frauda electorala. Este, in continuare, presedinte al partidului sau.

Pe 6 Iulie Curtea Constitutionala a determinat ca o lege aflata in vigoare din 2004, 393/2004 cu privire la Statutul Alesilor Locali, este neconstitutionala.

“O singură decizie am luat astăzi, în unanimitate, aceea de a admite sesizarea preşedintelui cu privire la legea 393/2004, pe care am declarat-o în totalitate neconstituţională. Am avut în vedere că s-a creat un regim discriminatoriu şi că soluţia pe care a ales-o Parlamentul ar fi deturnat scopul legiuitorului, acela de a apăra integritatea, responsabilitatea funcţiei de ales local.
Suspendarea este tot o formă de executare a pedepsei. S-ar fi creat inechităţi”, a declarat Valer Dorneanu, preşedintele interimar al Curţii Constituţionale.”
“Judecătorii argumentează că, dacă aleşilor locali condamnaţi cu suspendare nu le-ar înceta mandatul, acest lucru ar echivala „cu un privilegiu creat acestora, împrejurare care este de natură să nesocotească prevederile art.16 alin.(1), (2) şi (3) din Constituţie”.”
“Decizia CCR vine după ce preşedintele Klaus Iohannis a sesizat Curtea Constituţională cu privire la legea statutului aleşilor locali, votată de Parlament, care prevede că cei care au fost condamnaţi cu suspendare pentru fapte de corupţie nu îşi pierd mandatul.”
“Noua opţiune a legiuitorului este conjuncturală, nu ia în considerare un interes social real şi vine în contradicţie cu valorile sociale ocrotite prin lege. În opinia noastră, a permite unei persoane care a adus atingere unei valori sociale ocrotite de legea penală şi cu privire la care instanţa a considerat că prezintă un pericol social să continue exercitarea mandatului de ales local nu este de natură să asigure exercitarea funcţiilor şi demnităţilor publice în coordonatele statului de drept”, se arată în sesizarea înaintată CCR.

Tot pe 6 Iulie 2016, Gabriela Vranceanu Firea, proaspat aleasa primar al Capitalei – cea de a doua functie in stat ca legitimitate democratica, dupa numarul de voturi exprimate pentru alegerea persoanei care ocupa aceasta functie – a afirmat: Liviu Dragnea, presedintele PSD, ar fi “foarte potrivit” pentru a fi prim-ministru, iar condamnarea acestuia la doi ani de inchisoare cu suspendare nu a fost insotita si de o interdictie de a ocupa aceasta functie

Teoreticienii naivi, adica cei care – la indemnul lui Max Weber, construiesc ideal tipuri despre cum ar trebui sa decurga procesul politic plecand de la ce pare sa functioneze in democratiile avansate si incercand sa evite greselile facute de acestea, pornesc de la premisa ca politica este o activitate umana care se bazeaza pe trei piloni.

Interesul obstei pentru ceea ce i se intampla.
Respectul reciproc dintre membrii acesteia.
Constientizarea de catre membrii comunitatii ca aceasta are cel putin un scop comun – ‘supravietuirea’, si ca atingerea macar a acestui tel necesita cooperarea intregii comunitati.

Simpla enumerare a acestor principii sugereaza ca, in ciuda aparentei naivitati, aici nu este vorba despre ‘vanare de vant’.

Daca obstea nu este, cu adevarat, interesata de soarta ei atunci fraiele destinului sunt preluate, mai devreme sau mai tarziu, de tot felul de impostori care vor cauta sa-si ‘traga spuza pe turta proprie’ fara sa le pese de ceea ce se intampla in jurul lor.

Daca partile constitutive ale angrenajului democratic – plecand de la premisa ca discutam despre o societate democratica, principiile raman valabile pentru orice fel de aranjament – adica indivizii si gruparile de indivizi – partidele politice si celelalte organizatii para-politice – nu se respecta intre ele atunci colaborarea dintre ele nu este reala. Daca partile aflate in dialog democratic nu sunt absolut convinse ca ‘celalalt’ voteaza cu buna credinta si fara ‘scopuri ulterioare’ atunci democratia este retrogradata la ‘domnia gloatei’.
In locul unei discutii rationale, cu toate argumentele pe masa, vom asista la o multitudine de incercari de manipulare, in care vor fi folosite toate instrumentele de marketing politic aflate la dispozitia partilor.

Daca suficient de multi dintre membrii unui grup social inteleg ca scopul lor comun este, in primul rand, supravietuirea comunitatii ca mediu in interiorul caruia fiecare dintre membri pot sa se apropie cat mai mult de realizarea potentialului propriu atunci acestia vor putea sa isi coordoneze in mod eficient actiunile iar ‘supravietuirea’, si chiar prosperitatea, grupului va depinde doar de intensitatea eforturilor depuse de membri si de cat de mult ‘noroc’ au acestia.
Daca prea multi dintre membrii grupului nu inteleg importanta acestei colaborari, eforturile indivizilor se ‘decupleaza’ iar comunitatea, dupa ce o perioada continua sa functioneze in virtutea inertiei, incepe sa se dizolve. Situatie descrisa de Durkheim folosind conceptul de anomie.

Revenind la situatia de la care am plecat trebuie sa aduc in discutie conceptul de ‘stat de drept’.
De fapt acesta sintetizeaza toate cele trei principii pe care le-am mentionat mai sus.
Pentru ca statul de drept sa functioneze cu adevarat este nevoie ca cei interesati de buna lui functionare sa depuna eforturile necesare pentru ca acest lucru sa se intample.
Pentru ca un stat sa poata fi ‘de drept’ este nevoie ca toti membrii sai sa fie egali in fata legii si sa o respecte. Adica sa se respecte intre ei, indiferent de ranguri si pozitii sociale.
Pentru ca un stat de drept sa ramana asa, adica de drept, e nevoie ca indivizii care il compun sa colaboreze in mod onest, nu ca unii sa se cocoate in spinarea celorlalti iar acestia sa se resemneze, tacuti.

Si acum, ca ‘pregatirea de artilerie’ s-a terminat, sa revenim la oile noastre.
Adica la viitorul prim ministru al tarii.

Din faptul ca PSD-ul a facut zid in jurul presedintelui sau rezulta ca marea majoritate a partidului considera condamnarea acestuia ca fiind cel putin nedreapta. Sau chiar o imixtiune abuziva a justitiei in viata politica.

Sa acceptam, de dragul discutiei, aceasta ipoteza.

Nu ma voi intreba, retoric, care este contributia acestui partid la starea – presupus jalnica, daca s-a putut preta la asa ceva – a justitiei. Asta avand in vedere ca PSD a fost la putere, singur sau in coalitie, pe fata sau ‘din umbra’, timp de 18 ani din ultimii 26. Voi pleca de la premisa ca noua echipa reprezinta altceva decat ‘vechiul FSN’. Chiar daca amendamentele aduse legii 393/2004 (PSD-ul este in majoritate in actualul parlament) si pozitia inca semnificativa ocupata de Ion Iliescu in partid sugereaza o oarecare continuitate.

Voi pune alte intrebari.
Cum va putea noul prim-ministru sa aduca justita pe calea cea dreapta din postura de condamnat, fie si cu suspendare?
Cum va fi reprezentata Romania de un prim ministru condamnat, cu suspendare, la negocierile legate de intrarea in Spatiul Schengen? Negocieri in timpul carora, cel putin pana acum, ni s-a tot aratat o pisica care avea forma unui raport MCV chiar pe tema functionarii justitiei in Romania.
Este trasa de par concluzia ca PSD-ul pune interesele membrilor sai mai presus de cele ale tarii in ansamblu? Chiar si in ipoteza ca Dragnea ar fi fost condamnat din ‘greseala’…?

Doar in matematica doua minusuri dau, si doar in anumite conditii, ‘cu plus’. In viata de zi cu zi repetarea unor greseli nu face decat sa ne adanceasca pe calea pierzaniei.

Din pacate starea de spirit conform careia partidele politice reprezinta ‘grupuri de interese’ si nu echipe care incearca sa atinga, pe cai diferite, acelasi tel – bunastarea a cat mai multi dintre membrii comunitatii nationale – este dominanta in intreaga societate. Si nu numai in Romania.

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For the last 3500 years humankind has been busy writing Laws.

Which can be grouped in two main categories.
Natural laws and man made (normative) laws.
According to this classification while all laws have been written by Man those belonging to the first category are active regardless of Man being aware of their existence and those who belong to the latter come to life only as long as Man chooses to enforce them.

Another classification could be ‘phusical’ laws – ‘phusis’ being an ancient Greek term for ‘grown naturally’, all things that came to be in a ‘natural’ manner – ‘statistical’ laws and, again, ‘normative’ laws.

Both these classifications depend on how much influence Man has over how the laws work, besides the obvious fact that the wording, in all cases, belong to Him. To Man, of course.

The difference between them being that while the first sees Man as an individual making decisions by himself the second takes into consideration the fact that Man cannot function properly outside of a community.

Before going back to discuss some more about both classifications I have to note that laws are important mainly because they define areas of opportunity.
People are, from a functionalist point of view, self aware decision makers. But since none of them has an infinite amount of knowledge at his disposal nor an infinite capacity to process what ever information he has on a subject, people find it very useful to have the reality around them partitioned into ‘safe’ and ‘enter at your own risk’ areas.
In this respect it doesn’t matter whether the law itself belongs to either of the 5 categories. The consequences of the law are the same. Those who are aware of its existence have a lot easier job at discerning the safe from the potentially dangerous places than the ignorant ones. What each of them does after finding that out is another matter.

Coming back to the first classification, ‘natural’ versus ‘normative’ laws, let me elaborate a little about what ‘natural’ means in this situation.
It is obvious that the law of gravity, the one formulated by Isaac Newton, belongs here.
It started to produce consequences as soon as ‘mass’ came into existence – regardless of who, if anyone, made the necessary ‘arrangements’ and regardless of anyone being aware of its very existence or not.
But how about the law against killing another human being?
Animals belonging to the same species occasionally do kill each-other so this doesn’t seem to be an all encompassing natural law.

On the other hand history has compellingly taught us that communities where individuals are treated fairly by their peers fare a lot better than communities where some of the members kill (some of) the others. In a Darwinian sense the communities who do protect the lives of their members have an evolutionary advantage over those who don’t.
In this sense the ‘do not kill’ law becomes ‘phusical’. It is both ‘man made’, hence ‘normative’, and acts regardless of people being aware of its existence.

And no, this is not the same thing as ‘ignorance of the law offers no excuse‘.
As I said before, the first classification, ‘natural’ versus ‘normative’ considers Man mainly as an individual – who cannot hide himself under the cloak of ignorance and who has to bear the consequences of his acts, if apprehended – while the second classification, ‘phusical’, ‘statistical’ and ‘normative’, considers Man as an individual member who both depends heavily on his community and contributes decisively to the well being of the place where he lives.

In this respect ‘do not kill’ becomes a ‘statistical’ law. If enough individuals refrain from killing other people and if the community successfully puts in place and operates a protection mechanism  to guard the lives of its members, without otherwise stifling the ingenuity of its people, that community will fare better than those who either fail to protect their members or protect them so jealously that transform them into hapless puppets unable to fend for themselves. Those who are interested to find out more about the equilibrium between protection and freedom of expression might want to check Crime and Deviance, Functionalist Perspective.

By now you must have noticed that ‘statistical’ laws are both ‘objective’ – in the sense that they will produce consequences even if people are not aware of/do not care about their existence, and ‘normative’ – in the sense that those consequences do depend, heavily, on how people act.

So. Does this make me a staunch defender of ‘normative’ laws?

Not at all. Just as Durkheim noticed long ago telling people what to do will only stifle their ability to adapt. To cope with change.

That’s why I strongly feel that ‘normative’ laws, the few that are really necessary, must be written in a ‘negative’ way. Do not kill, do not rape, do not discriminate, do not steal are quite different from ‘all of us have to be maintained alive’, ‘we must assign an armed guard to every nubile woman’, ‘we must write millions of pages of rules to cover every possible act of discrimination’, ‘we must arm ourselves to the teeth in order be able to defend our property against all odds’.

 

I recently read an excellent article about how the ever-growing lack of trust in public institutions, governments and experts included, is generating aberrations like Donald Trump becoming the darling of a sizable proportion of the American Republicans.

collapse of trust in institutions

I’m afraid that all of us have contributed to this.

People who get elected to power use it to fulfill  their own goals yet continue to get elected despite the fact that many of those goals do not add anything to – and too many times even subtract from – the general well being.
People who, for various reasons, vote for those mentioned above.
Media pundits who fill the airtime with their versions of the reality, purposefully crafted to fit their own goals instead of honestly trying to present to the public what they have seen/understood of what had happened.

What’s bothering me most is that all of them are behaving in an absolutely ‘rational’ manner.
In the sense that all of them are convinced they are following the current mantra.
“Make the best of the opportunities at hand”

Given the current ethos – that only the pussies do not grab everything within their reach – each of those in places where they might be given things would act foolishly not to accept those ‘gifts’. If they might find a ‘legal’ way to do it.
And the Supreme Court of the US concurs.

In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

“There is no doubt that this case is distasteful; it may be worse than that,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court. “But our concern is not with tawdry tales of Ferraris, Rolexes, and ball gowns. It is instead with the broader legal implications of the Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.””

What happened was that former Gov. Bob Mc Donnell had accepted various gifts from a certain business man called Williams and then (because of them?) ‘set up meetings, hosted parties and called Virginia officials to discuss  a series of meetings to discuss aspects   related to William’s businesses.

Now, is this an example of corrupt behavior or not?

According to the Government and to the lower courts that have sat on this matter, it is.
According to the Supreme Court, it is ‘distasteful and even possibly more than that’ but not yet corruption. Or, at least, not in the way the Government has presented its case.

“But conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf, and include them in events all the time. The basic compact underlying representative government assumes that public officials will hear from their constituents and act appropriately on their concerns — whether it is the union official worried about a plant closing or the homeowners who wonder why it took five days to restore power to their neighborhood after a storm. The Government’s position could cast a pall of potential prosecution over these relationships if the union had given a campaign contribution in the past or the homeowners invited the official to join them on their annual outing to the ballgame. Officials might wonder whether they could respond to even the most commonplace requests for assistance, and citizens with legitimate concerns might shrink from participating in democratic discourse.” Chief Justice John Roberts writing on behalf of the court.

The way I see it this is nothing but ‘hiding behind technicalities’.
From a formal point of view the Supreme Court’s decision is absolutely correct.
On the other hand almost everybody speaks out, some very vehemently, against ‘pork barrel politics’.

Yet nobody does anything when occasion arises. Forgetting that this is exactly what we, humans, are supposed to do. Make decisions and assume responsibility for them. Otherwise, if we only look out for pretexts to do nothing when those around us keep making ‘good’ use of whatever opportunities they identify, the whole world will soon become, again, encased in the kind of straight jacket Hitler and Stalin were trying to put on us.

Here’s another example.

Less than a fortnight from now the Republican and the Democratic conventions will likely nominate Trump and Clinton as their respective presidential candidates. Each passionately defended by their followers and viciously attacked by their adversaries.
Yet both almost equally disdained by the general public.

“More time on the campaign trail isn’t improving the image of either major-party presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
Some 60% of registered voters held a negative view of Mr. Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, compared with 58% in May. Some 29% viewed Mr. Trump positively this month.
Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state and presumed Democratic nominee, fared somewhat better, with 55% viewing her in a negative light, compared with 54% in May. One-third of registered voters held a positive view of her.” (Peter Nicholas in Wall Street Journal, June 27 2016)

What’s going on here?
Why has any of them been picked up as candidate in the first place?

And why none of their detractors mentions the trait of character that both of them have in common?

The complete disrespect both of them have for ‘comme il faut’.
You see, ‘properly’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘being a stickler for the word of the law’ but certainly means following the ‘spirit of the law’.
You’d expect as much from the two contenders for the Oval Office, don’t you?

Yet Donald Trump has a history of trying to use the law in order to drive an old woman out of her house so that he could have build a parking lot for one of his casinos and Clinton is being currently investigated for the highly irregular manner in which she used to manage  her e-mails while she served as Secretary of State.

To me this is a pertinent enough explanation for why a majority of the people do not trust that any of them would have ‘the better interests of the country’ in mind if and when any of them will be elected to office.

Making a step further people might soon develop a distrust for the whole concept of democracy – simply because the system was unable to deliver better candidates/alternatives. Not only in America.

And since the idea of democracy starts with trusting your fellow citizen to be able to make pertinent decisions – even if they happen to be contrary to your own ideas on the matter – it is highly likely that we’ll soon live in a very untruthful world.

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