Democracy, American Barbarism and the Enlightenment Gap | Zach Werrell
Zach Werrell returns to discuss his upcoming book, the role of epistemology in the current American political landscape, and the emergent "Barbarian Class" in Western societies.
ON THIS EPISODE OF THE BEST MEDICINE PODCAST
Our Guest: Zach Werrell
Today’s podcast is about barbarism in America.
My nephew - political consultant and law student Zach Werrell returns to the show to discuss the inner workings of the political Leviathan that is the US Federal government, and how this is creating similar conditions of barbarism to the Fall of Rome.
We get to the root of the philosophical issues in our culture which produce this terrible function.
[31:00] - Breaking down the document “Talking About Race” from the Smithsonian Museum (linked) and a larger discussion on critical race theory in American Politics
It's a cliche at this point to look to the Fall of Rome when analyzing modern American social and poltical dynamics. But it's done frequently because it's a worthwhile exercise.
One of the only parts of the fall of Rome that a majority of involved parties will agree upon is that you can measure the level of failure of Rome by the level of success of barbarian tribes within and surrounding the imperial territories.
Barbarians would raid, plunder and sack cities for gold, slaves, women, resources, and freedom in the land. They would not necessarily seek to build their own empires, merely to have freedom adn autonomy within spaces without the "police" force of Rome to stop them with it's military might.
There were many moments where politicians in Roman territories would simply pay the Barbarians not to attack. Barbarians essentially were like the Mafia, but instead of threatening small businesses, they were threatening the government - and succeeding!
Of course tax payer money was used for this purpose. This meant social programs, economic stimulation, cultural activities and miilitary strength either suffered - or taxes were raised increasing agitation of citizenry while lowering spending power.
There were many factors leading to the fall of Rome, but this was undeniably one of them.
Democracy Creates Internal Barbarism
In America, I believe that we have our own parasitic Barbarian class. We pay them off with taxpayer money, they don't necessarily seek to own the nation or gain geopolitical power, they only want wealth and freedom of movement within the territory, and they certainly have no regard for the overall civic health of the American people or institutions.
We are, in fact, negotiating with terrorists.
No I'm not talking about the Taliban, ISIS, or al-Qaeda.
I'm talking about an internal group of people.
With "democracy" we've internalized the Barbarians. If we define Barbarians as groups which seek to plunder a nation, empire or territory for their own group's success - then democracy can, at times, empower "internal barbarians."
There are certainly many individuals who seek to gain at the expense of the health and security of the nation - and have done so. These individuals are by default going to congregate to plunder the hubs of finance and power,
where there is the most "gold" to steal.
To put it plainly - our politicians, bankers, political consultants, people in major control of media companies, and the largest figures in corporate America are largely barbarians. One might even say our power holding class is barbaric in nature.
As one group of barbarians gains wealth and power, new groups of barbaric individuals may even leech off them - creating the dynamic seen today in federal politics where politicians are even leeched off of by lobbyists, reporters, and consultants. This particular kind of barbarism might be avoided by changing one of two things:
1. The centrality of power and wealth worth plundering
2. The political mechanism providing such ease-of-access of these spoils to barbarians - democracy will need to be changed
(Changes to democracy can be extreme such as full revocation and replacement of the political mechanism, or reform/regulation/down-sizing)
The catch-22 is that in a democratic society, most people will naturally oppose both of those options, even if democracy is objectively failing, and barbarians are objectivel rotting a culture for their own gain - it doesn't "feel" good for people to challenge the dominant narrative their culture relies upon.
This comes to the root problem of democracy, which is the root problem of all political, social, economic, scientific and psychological disputes.
The Enlightenment Gap
The enlightenment gap is the problem, once again.
All humans are blessed with their personal subjective experience of reality. Taken as groups or as a whole, we can create a collective-subjective "will of the people."
Then there are observable truths - facts. Things that would be true even if humans were not around to have feelings about them. (Water is made of two hydrogen and one oxygen, for example).
There is a tremendous amount of utility and merit to both types - but only under 2 conditions
A. There is actually harmony amongst the various subjective truths. People might disagree on specifics, or have different experiences, but they are aligned on important things like core values and long term goals. All parties want whats best for the whole as well as their selves.
B. There is a will to reach consensus between subjectivity and objectivity.
I believe right now we have two predominant collective-subjectives (the right and the left), and there are features of both which have no interest in converging with objective truth.
Thus, our sensemaking functions and co-operative social functions are increasingly lacking in merit. We will be unable to reform the system as outlined through modes 1 and 2 further up the page without these functions.
While I'm at my limits with this debate, and it will need to be explored further - this line of reasoning provides a lot of appeal to the increasingly popular thought: "perhaps democracy is not an a priori good." (Yes, I'm aware of the irony of that sentiment holding popularity).
Thank you for reading, viewing and/or listening to BEST MEDICINE. I hope you enjoy it.
My hope is that through this podcast we can continue this much needed discussion on morality in America. It is essential to the social health of our society, and therefor the physical and mental health of every human being within it’s borders.
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Dr Bradley Werrell