May 18, 2010

Moral rebels and criminals

El Cabrero has been blogging lately about political philosophy, with a special emphasis on the late great theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's insights from his 1932 classic Moral Man and Immoral Society.

(Here's one sure sign that the book in question comes from another era: there was no obligatory colon and subtitle.) His main idea is that while groups take us away from our self absorption, they can also be much more egotistic, imperialistic and dangerous than individuals.

A classical example of this is nationalism. He had this to say about that:

...the nation is a corporate unity, held together much more by force and emotion, than by mind. Since there can be no ethical action without self-criticism, and no self-criticism without the rational capacity of self-transcendence, it is natural that national attitudes can hardly approximate the ethical. Even those tendencies toward self-criticism in a nation which do express themselves are usually thwarted by the governing classes and by a certain instinct for unity in society itself. For self-criticism is a kind of inner disunity, which the feeble mind of a nation finds difficulty in distinguishing from dangerous forms of inner conflict. So nations crucify their moral rebels with their criminals upon the same Golgotha...

Holy Dixie Chicks, Batman! Jeez, it's a good thing that doesn't happen any more huh?

UPPER BIG BRANCH MASSEY MINE DISASTER. Here's an interesting report on Massey from NPR. And here's another on the fun and games that will accompany Massey's annual meeting.

A LITTLE GOOD NEWS. West Virginia's unemployment rate fell in April. I hope it's the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel (rather than an oncoming train).

MY ENEMY, MY FRIEND. As we grow up, it's hard to tell them apart.

MAYBE POE HAD IT WRONG. It appears that ravens console each other when one has a bad day.


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