Archives for posts with tag: arrogance

coruptia ucide

Every 25 years or so Romania startles the rest of the world.

In 1989 we had to pass through the bloodiest Revolution in the Eastern Block in order to get rid of the most unreasonable communist dictator in Europe, bar Stalin of course.
In 2015 we had to be awaken by a disastrous fire in a night club to oust a prime minister who is currently under investigation for alleged corruption.

What’s going on here?

Some history first.

For the last 2000 years the Carpathian mountains have been the first obstacle that had to be negotiated by the migratory peoples that came to Europe from the depth of Asia.
Since for the first 1000 years on the plains where now lie Northern Poland and Northern Germany there was nothing to be plundered while the Northern shores of the Sea of Marmara were harboring a very rich city – Byzantium – most of those tribes transformed the area between the Carpathians and the Black Sea into a sort of highway. That’s why whatever forms of political structures the local population – the proto-Romanians – were trying to set had very short lives. They usually were fleeting fiefdoms run by chieftains from the migratory tribes whose authority survived only till the next, and more powerful, tribe arrived in the region.
After the huge Russian plains have been somewhat stabilized by the establishment of the Crimean Khanate the situation became even more complicated. The area was a battle ground for Bulgarians, Turks, Tartars, Hungarians and later Austrians and Russians. Besides the constant political instability this situation included the fact that very seldom the people who were in charge with running the place had a strong connection with the people they were leading. If any at all.
This had very insidious consequences, the most important being a huge distrust of authority. The present days libertarians would argue that this is a good thing… Well, think again.

If the people do not, not at all that is, trust those who happen to be in power and those in power do not care at all about those under their patronage you have the ‘perfect’ set of circumstances for the onset of an all pervasive corruption.

During the last five centuries the Western Europe has slowly evolved from Feudalism – the rule of he who happened to be powerful enough, tamed by some traditions inspired by religion, to what is now known as ‘The Rule of Law’. Meanwhile, in the European provinces occupied by the Ottoman Empire people lived in an almost schizophrenic manner. They passionately hated their rulers – and did their best to cheat them when ever they could, while developing a very strong respect for traditions, the only thing that kept the people together.
By the way, this is also the explanation for what has happened in the former Yugoslavia, where strong ethnic and religious allegiances were played upon by callous political adventurers.

This constant distrust/disdain between the rulers/administration and the general public has only deepened during the Soviet imposed communist rule and produced a real chasm between these two social strata. And it’s exactly this divide that is the reason for which all dictatorial regimes fail abysmally, sooner or later.
A convincing explanation for this was provided, long ago, by Pareto: ‘whenever the circulation of the elites (social mobility) is hindered, the society where this is happening is in great danger’.
Another way of explaining the unfailing demise of any dictatorship is corruption. When ever the rulers do not care about anything else but their very short term interests and the ruled do their best to cheat the system the corruption becomes so pervasive as to clog the entire social mechanism.

If left to itself this cancer can lead to implosion. The Roman Empire, for instance, didn’t fell because it was mortally wounded by the barbarous migrant tribes. It had became so weak because of wide spread corruption as to allow the barbarians to provide him with the fatal blow… Just consider what Caligula used to do for fun… The Soviet Empire did almost the same thing.
Now that I’ve reached this point I’ll have to remind you that corruption does not always have to be about money but covers all instances when people misuse, intentionally, their power.

You see, people make mistakes.
There is no way of avoiding this.
And the main difference between a corrupt society and one which is more or less ‘normal’ is that in a normal society he who notices a mistake has at his disposal enough means to report that mistake to the relevant authorities while having a decent chance to survive the attempts of the ‘perpetrator’ to ‘cover his tracks’.

The fire that started the current uprising in Romania was nothing but the final straw that broke the camel’s back. People have witnessed, individually, so many instances of corruption that had become fed up with it. But each of them wasn’t quite sure about what the guy next door was going to say/do about it. Meanwhile the authorities were more a part of the problem than providing a solution.

When this tragedy struck a lot of people have finally understood that this has to stop. And took their grief to the street.

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                                                                                                                                                             Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Donald Trump is making big headlines in his bid to conquer the White House.
Covering this subject the Atlantic published a very pertinent question posed by Conor Friedersdorf to Trump’s supporters:
“You’re right to mistrust conventional politicians. But why do you think he’ll treat you any better?”

This is one side of the entire development.
If we dig a little deeper we have to observe that the person who actually occupies the Oval Office – or any other public office, in no matter which democratic country, is important indeed but even more so is the fact that that person has to be voted by a majority in order to accede to that office.

In other words, America has a little over 300 million inhabitants. There must be better contenders out there.
Better than either Trump or Clinton!
What’s keeping the ordinary Americans from recognizing and bringing some of THEM to the fore of the American politics?

PS. Click on this link and read the comments, besides the article. As always, they are are at least as revealing as the article itself, if not more so.

“Nu trebuie sa permitem fricilor noastre si nici asteptarilor nutrite de ceilalti sa ne influenteze destinul”. Martin Heidegger.

Vrem nu vrem suntem contemporanii unei inclestari titanice. Indivizii incearca sa se puna cat mai bine in valoare iar ‘sistemul’ incearca, in disperare, sa stavileasca – in orb, de fapt – aceasta efervescenta.

Revenind la subiect putem pune iesirea la rampa a subiectului pe seama cresterii numarului de acte de agresiune, pe seama faptului ca femeile nu mai accepta sa stea rusinate cu capul in jos ci aduc intr-o proportie mai mare aceste orori la cunostinta autoritatilor sau chiar pe seama ambelor cauze simultan.
Si ar mai fi o posibilitate. Presa, mereu in cautare de senzational si in oarecare pana de subiecte pe timpul verii, sa se fi aplecat cu mai multa atentie asupra subiectului.

Din fata monitorului este mai greu de determinat care dintre aceste cauze este mai importanta asa ca voi aborda problema din alt unghi.

Cu o suta si ceva de ani in urma Emile Durkheim a pus bazele sociologiei demonstrand ca sinuciderea, o decizie prin excelenta individuala, este puternic influentata de circumstantele sociale carora trebuie sa le faca fata individul care alege, sau refuza, aceasta alternativa.

Voi incerca sa folosesc aceasta abordare si in cazul violului.

Am sugerat intr-o postare anterioara ca violul are mai degraba o natura ‘coercitiva’ decat sexuala, cel putin pentru indivizii care mai au o umbra de discernamant.
Aratam acolo ca violurile pot fi impartite in ‘intamplatoare’ si ‘pradalnice’.
In cazul celor ‘pradalnice’ – cele in grup sau cele planuite cu grija – lucrurile sunt oarecum clare. Cei care organizeaza violuri in grup sau cei care le premediteaza resimt mai degraba satisfactia de a aduce victima in stare de completa neajutorare decat vreo satisfactie de natura cu adevarat sexuala – altfel ar proceda in mod normal, ar incerca sa seduca in loc sa violeze.
Si in cazul violurilor ‘intamplatoare’, cele in care agresorul isi motiveaza actul prin ‘la inceput ea a fost de acord si dupa aceea nu am mai putut sa ma opresc’, chiar daca lucrurile incep firesc ele ajung tot in zona ‘care pe care’ in momentul in care ea spune nu. Indiferent daca la inceput ea chiar a fost de acord sau pur si simplu el a interpretat gresit semnalele ei, in momentul in care victima spune ‘nu’ agresorului i se pune pata: ‘Asta isi bate joc de mine. Las’ ca-i arat eu!’

Bine, bine, dar de ce se face mai multa vorbire acum despre viol?

Parerea mea este ca la suprafata avem de a face cu toate cele trei motive pe care le-am mentionat la inceput. Agresorii isi permit mai multe, victimele nu mai accepta statutul de ‘prada neajutorata’ iar presa macina subiectul pentru ca publicul a devenit, dintr-o data, sensibil la aceasta problema.

Aplicand abordarea lui Durkheim lucrurile devin dintr-odata foarte simple. Totul poate fi redus la lupta dintre individualismul acerb care pare sa domine societatea contemporana si greutatea, aparent sufocanta, cu care societatea, in ansamblul ei, apasa pe gatul individului.
Individul, bombardat din toate partile cu mesajul ‘daca nu esti primul nu contezi’, ajunge sa-si puna la indoiala propria valoare si locul pe care il ocupa in societate. Iar asta este valabil si pentru femei, nu doar pentru barbati. Toate frustrarile din viata zilnica, de la frecusurile cu seful pana la dezamagirea ca nu-si permit aproape nimic din minunatiile la care se face tot timpul reclama, cuplate cu mantra ‘esti singurul responsabil de destinul tau’ duc la o stare psihica in care el refuza sa accepte ca ea se poate razgandi (isi poate permite sa-si bata joc de el) iar ea refuza sa mai joace rolul mioarei jertfita in tacere.

Si amandoi, atat el cat si ea, – cei normali – nu mai intorc capul atunci cand aud de astfel de abominatii tocmai pentru ca au inceput sa inteleaga ca asa nu mai merge. Ca daca te complaci in rolul de victima acolo vei ramane intreaga viata.

PS. Chiar si asa numitii baieti de bani gata sunt tot frustrati de nemultumire. Oricat de multe resurse ar avea la dispozitie pe undeva tot exista cate ceva la care nu pot ajunge. Iar dezamagirea e mult mai mare dupa ce ti-ai satisfacut foarte multe pofte dacat atunci cand nu ti-ai facut niciodata iluzii.

ISIS Enshrines a Theology of Rape Claiming the Quran’s support, the Islamic State codifies sex slavery in conquered regions of Iraq and Syria and uses the practice as a recruiting tool. Written by RUKMINI CALLIMACHI; Photographs by MAURICIO LIMAAUG. 13, 2015

This is not as much about a particular religion as it is about the dominant religion of a certain place loosing its ability to fulfill its mission.
By ‘religion’ I understand the set of ties that transforms a certain population into a community, the rest is ritual.
When those ties no longer do what they are meant to do – make the individual feel that he belongs and therefore impart a certain sense of safety – many members of that erstwhile community start to loose their marbles.
Some kill themselves, pretending to be martyrs who die for a sacred cause, some others rape the innocents that happen to cross their paths.
The fact that some ‘religious leaders’ use the teachings of a particular religion to encourage these abominations only proves that the so called leaders are nothing but fraudsters that feed on other peoples’ misery.
More than a hundred years ago Emile Durkheim, one of the founding fathers of sociology, had wrote ‘Le Suicide’ and fully explained all this. Maybe what we need is to re-read it. All you have to do is follow the link.

black driver pulled from job

The Root reports that a customer “asked that no black delivery driver be sent to her home” and that a manager decided to “honor” that request.

As most of you already know Maslow’s five leveled pyramid can be simplified into a three three tiered one: Physiological needs, Relational needs (safety, emotion and esteem) and Self Actualization. Maslow said that you cannot skip any one of this levels, for instance you can not deal with your emotional needs on an empty stomach. And who cares about self actualization if he doesn’t know where he’s going to sleep tonight?

Well…intuitively we have to admit that Maslow’s words do make some sense…

Studying this example we can draw some interesting conclusions on this subject.

For instance simply climbing to a certain level doesn’t mean one is mature enough for it.

The customer had certainly satisfied her basic needs yet she has some deep emotional problems.
OK, I can imagine that a person can be so ‘dense’ as to be able to make such a demand but no second thoughts after you produced such a frack-ass?
“”I got a right to have whatever I want and that’s it,” the woman said. “No, I don’t feel bad about nothing.””

But the most interesting examples here are the manager and the driver.

Lowe’s is not at all a small operation. Rising to management level is not a simple thing and should provide some security and self esteem to an individual. Enough for that individual to start thinking with his own head. After all that’s what managers are supposed to do, right? That would also help that individual bring himself up to date – ‘self actualization’, that is…
Was that particular manager capable of fulfilling his duty? Lowe’s didn’t think so… Me neither, on different grounds though.

Let’s see what the driver has to say:
“”To me, it just ain’t right for a business that we work at to go on with the woman’s wishes,” Brooks told the news station.
“It was one of those things like, ‘These guys will get over it, they’re tough guys, they’re delivery guys,’ ” Brooks said. “And that’s kind of where I just had to put my foot down and say I couldn’t do it with them.””
So a “mere” driver has more guts than a manager…
No matter if the manager shared the customer’s racist feelings. He had to have the wisdom to understand that catering for such kind of wishes – specially in this manner,  is extremely bad for the company. And for himself as an employee of that company.
So he should have solved that situation properly, not botchedly – he was a manager, remember?

“Despite the letdown, Bradley added that he won’t be missing any time at work.
“I mean, I gotta work,” he said. “I’m going to keep going to work like I’ve always done. But I would think Lowe’s would take it into consideration to think about what they’re doing next time.””

So the driver has a clearer view of the situation – including his own standing – than the manager…

What’s going on here? Did Maslow got his pyramid upside down or the whole world has turned over and is now standing on its head?

Maybe that is the whole ‘self-actualization’ thing. Being able to use wisely the amount of autonomy one happens to have at his disposal.

We are very proud of our ability to make ‘rational decisions’.

So proud as to delude ourselves into believing that if we have enough information about something and enough time to consider it our opinion/decision about that subject will be “true”.

Take as much time as you wish.

“Alex prays on his own now, studying the Koran to work out what it really seems to say about gender and sexuality.

Yet he fantasizes about attending Eid festivities in Oakland next year where his mother celebrates. “She can’t deny me when I’m right there in front of her friends,” he says.

But it now feels like the hardest fight is in the past, not the future.

“When your mother hurts you, no one can hurt you as much as that,” he says. “My strength comes from that.” ”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/how-a-transgender-muslim-man-brings-his-worlds-together/ar-BBlgNNU?ocid=iehp

“Hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken, you’ll go insane.” This muddled piece of dialogue grunted out by Max (Tom Hardy) is a pretty spot on summation of my thoughts on Mad Max: Furious Road. The fact that this film has somehow slipped into the consciousness of the masses, winning the heart of critics and blowing the minds of audiences, is an anomaly to me. With a staggering 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m still questioning if I happened to miss something or not. I had hoped this would be the heart-thumping action film that others promised. I wanted to bawl over in joy becoming lost in a ridiculous, yet intelligent world created by director George Miller and his fellow screenwriters Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris. But alas, Max was right. Hope is a mistake.” (The Cinephiliac)

OK, so is there anything to be gleaned out from here?

Firstly, hope is a mistake only if not followed through.
Yes, people might get mad if not able to fix what’s broken.
But there are alternatives.
Like next time fail better.
This way even if you don’t succeed at least you end up trying. Way better than locked up in a loony bin, specially so if the cell itself is of your own making.

Secondly, the 98% approval rate on Rotten Tomatoes bears a very clear message.
The audience is fed up. Basically with everything.

I just hope people will find a way to vent their grievances before they flare up and that the powers that be pay attention before the things go too far down the Fury Road.

Activists dismantle Ukraine’s biggest monument to Lenin at a rally in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Sept. 28, 2014. Photo: Igor Chekachkov/Associated Press

Wall Street Journal reports that Ukrainian people are somewhat baffled by  a new law banning the use of Soviet (and Nazi) symbols.

“While few outside Crimea and the rebel strongholds of eastern Ukraine want to join Russia, not all Ukrainians are ready to repudiate a joint history that remains dear to many across generations.

“I wanted to tell my child that there was ‘Uncle Lenin,’ and at one point Mama took part in a big celebration in Kiev” in honor of the first Soviet leader, said 37-year-old Svetlana Arshavina, who lives in this suburb northwest of the capital.

“Now what will I tell her? That they took Uncle Lenin and smashed him to pieces?” she asked.”

Isn’t it rather strange that the nephews of those who survived the 1921 Famine still harbor any respect for the likes of Lenin?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-tries-adapting-to-life-without-lenin-1432324644
https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/article/other/5rfhjy.htmhttp://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/famine-1919.htm

Nietzsche was somewhat right only he went bonkers before he was able to shed some real light on what was going on.
The point is that God didn’t die on his own. We killed him. Twice. And while the first time we were capable to fix the situation now we seem incapable to ‘make the right thing’.

Let me explain myself.

I have no way of knowing if it was God that created us or not. That’s something for others to decide.
For me it’s enough that I see no evidence to support the first hypothesis except for some ‘testimonies’ provided by people with vested interests in the matter. I find those testimonies highly biased. Nor do I find any need for a Deus ex Machina kind of explanation for anything that exists in this Universe. Modern science has done a good enough job in explaining the world to me.
On the other hand the second hypothesis is absolutely impossible to demonstrate. So, why bother?

What I do know, for sure, is that at least one kind of God does exist. The one that has been created by us, people, a social representation whose existence stems directly from our mental relationship with Him – the One who supposedly created us.
The mere existence of this ‘virtual’ God had two very important consequences. It brought us democracy and it provided us with a coherent way of understanding the world – a common Weltanschauung in German terms.

I’ll make a short break here to elaborate a little. The common lore is that ‘God made us in his image’. This means that, basically, we are equals among ourselves – we’ve been all cast in the same mould, right? – and that each of us has a spark of divinity in him. Quite a heavy responsibility – being of a Godly nature – don’t you think? Hence the ‘do not kill/judge’ commandment. Who are we to play God towards other Gods?
Also partaking in the same Weltanschauung was what offered us the possibility to act as a community, to help each other. For a while at least but it was good while it lasted. After all none of us could have done much by himself.
In fact none of us is able to survive for long by himself, let alone thrive solitarily. Not even today, with all the modern technology that we now take for granted.

We gave birth to our first generation of Gods, made exactly into our image, good and bad together, during the Antiquity. The Greek, Roman and German Gods were our look alike-s and shared our unruly behavior. Some of them even occasionally shared our beds. Then, at some point, we got cocky and abandoned them. Our philosophers thought they knew better than that and that they could come up with comprehensive solutions all by themselves. That’s how absolute authoritarianism ended up having official blessing from the Academia while the adoration of Gods was left for the unsuspecting masses.
All hell broke loose from that moment. For some 6 centuries after Plato had wrote his Republic the Mediterranean Sea had been a string of empires toppling one another.

Until we came up with a different kind of God. One that first and foremost told us to stop quarreling – for we were all brothers – and start living in communion. Until we killed him also.

Not that we haven’t been forewarned. Pascal, the French mathematician, told us that it is completely irrational to reject the existence of God. If, in reality, God doesn’t exist the believer looses nothing and the non believer gains nothing – except for the lame satisfaction to be able to brag ‘I told you so’ after death. Conversely, if God does exist, then the believers are going to inherit the world while the non believers have dealt themselves the worst hand ever. Meanwhile, by living in a world structured by the presumed existence of God both believers and non believers enjoyed the two consequences I mentioned above – equality among people, even if only in theory, and the ability of doing things in concert, a lot more efficiently.

Now, that we’ve killed God for a second time – the murder described by Nietzsche – we’ve lost it again. Only this time we didn’t lose just the hypothetical after-life, we’re gradually transforming this one – the only life we have for sure – into a bloody nightmare.

And if you don’t believe me do as Lesek Kolakowski suggests.
“Let us simply compare the godless world of Diderot, Helvétius, and Feuerbach with that of Kafka, Camus, and Sartre. The collapse of Christianity that was so joyfully awaited by the Enlightenment took place almost simultaneously with the collapse of the Enlightenment itself. The new, shining order of anthropocentrism that was built up in place of the fallen God never came. What happened? Why was the fate of atheism in such a strange way tied to that of Christianity, so that the two enemies accompanied one another in their misfortune and in their insecurity?” (God in a godless time, 2003)

Now why can’t we make the small effort to understand what Pascal told us? Why is it so hard to understand that we are spoiling the beautiful life we might have if only we kept pretending that God existed and behaved accordingly?

Why is it so hard at least to fake some respect for those who happen to share the planet with us?
Fake respect is not as good as the genuine one, of course, but is a lot better than the huge amount of scorn that is publicly traded these days.
Even more important is that if we won’t have to use so much energy in maintaining a force field to protect us from being drenched in scorn we’ll may be able to imagine a better world than the one we currently have to deal with.
And, who knows, maybe we’ll have time to discover how beautiful we really are, inside our armors.

A new (representation of) God would be born this way.

god-is-dead

Lesek Kolakowski, God in a godless time, 2003, http://www.firstthings.com/article/2003/06/visions-of-eternity-7

People glimpse fragments from the surrounding reality and then use their newly found understanding to gradually change it.
They do this in three, successive, steps.
The first has a lot to do with happenstance – the right man at the right place, the second involves a lot of ‘due diligence’ and the third depends very much on how those who end up in command of the new understating relate to the rest of the people.
Sometimes some of the people who ‘happen’ to ‘stumble’ on new information/experience something really new feel the urge to communicate to others what has happened to them.
Usually the information gleaned/sentiments experienced during this first step are so new that there are no socially sanctioned symbols that can represent them faithfully so the individual trying to communicate the entire experience has to find a novel way to make it understandable for those around him. This is art.
The second step has less to do with actual discovery and is more about systematization of information already at our disposal. Something like charting a newly discovered territory. Even if we have to adapt our existing tools to the new task – some of them had been discovered during the first step but that means they are already here when we start the second one, here the job to be done is more about reason than inspiration. This is science.
And now, that new information is available – even before it was widely disseminated – people start to use it. Some of it is used straight away/as it is/honestly while some other is used to keep ‘the others’ in the dark or to alter their perceptions in order to fit the goals of the ‘user’/’entrepreneur’/spin doctor.
Usually this last way of using newly found understanding has perverse consequences. The ‘user’ becomes arrogant and starts to believe he has somehow become a (demi)God while the people kept in the dark/unwittingly exploited sooner or later become aware of what is going on – and sometimes express that in artistic ways.
At some point the equilibrium is regained, either through  a  a series of oscillations that ’embrace’ it – a revolution – or through small steps in the right direction – evolution.
(Usually, as the distance between a given state of facts and the perceived point of equilibrium becomes wider then people gradually loose hope in evolution and start to consider more revolutionary methods.)

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