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  1. #91
    Order Now! pure_mercury's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    How did I know I was going to get that? I know... I know... I was trying to sneak in a bit of short-hand. Can you blame me? Everyone thinks their own personal ideology falls outside of the traditional Left - Right spectrum.

    If Left is defined by a willingness to apply government solutions to social or economic problems, and Right is defined by a basic skepticism of government intervention, then libertarianism is on the far right. "Conservatism" is a common, catch-all phrase generally used (although certainly not always accurately) as another word for "Right." There were no greater implications to my "strand of conservatism" comment.
    The Left-Right spectrum is glib and inaccurate. And nowadays, the "right" is more likely to be willing to apply government solutions to social problems than the "left" is. They just want to apply their own standards.
    Who wants to try a bottle of merc's "Extroversion Olive Oil?"

  2. #92
    Senior Member Ruthie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mercury View Post
    The Left-Right spectrum is glib and inaccurate. And nowadays, the "right" is more likely to be willing to apply government solutions to social problems than the "left" is. They just want to apply their own standards.
    Yeah, but I try to keep it simple. This decade has been weird for the American Left: so many of us worked ourselves into a lather over the Patriot Act, wiretaps, proposed Constitutional amendments regarding same-sex marriage, secret prisons and the like. Besides, social issues are always punchier headlines than economic issues.

    And we always fall for novelty. If civil liberties were the issue of the decade, then by golly! we were on the side of defending the Constitution! We have fun re-defining ourselves every decade or so, from the New Deal to the New Left to the New Democrats. Heck, a lot of early 20th century Lefties thought the Russian revolution was a vision of social change! Fast forward 50 years, and so many fell for the sex, drugs, and freedom revolution of the '60s. It's like as soon as we have a point to make, we get distracted by something shiny.

    But I'm not much for newness. However the issues break down at any particular time, in my book, the Left will be the side arguing for greater access to democracy and a degree of government intervention; the Right will always be skeptical of "the masses" and skeptical of government involvement. The rest, to me, is mainly a distraction.

  3. #93
    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    If you sift through the laundry list of issues, at its heart social conservatism makes the following comparisons between past and present:

    1. Families are less stable than they used to be.
    2. Communities are more transient.
    3. Social mores regarding behavior have deteriorated.
    4. There is less deference to previous generations or their values.
    5. Community, national, religious institutions have become less relevant.

    On the facts, it's tough to argue the truth of those points (easy to measure stats like divorce rate, crime rate, average number of job/career changes, church membership, etc... and compare it to the same statistics from, say, 1945.)
    I'm not sure I agree with the above trends....
    1. Is family stability just=divorce rate? Or could we look at people moving closer to or living in extended families? We're seeing that a lot with the economic crisis.
    2. How do we measure transience? It's a bit different here in the U.S. -- it's always had a more adaptable population because of its economy. Hasn't moving to the city always been an essential part of the American economic dream?
    3. What social mores in particular? Is this referring to premarital sex? What social mores exactly?
    4. How do we measure this one? Deference among whom?
    5. I don't think I'd club all these into the same category. Religious institutions seem to be gaining in importance... What are some national institutions that are declining? Wouldn't the rising number of nationalist movements around the world suggest otherwise.

    Hard to think of the above as positive or negative unless defined clearly.

    I think Putnam definitely has a point with his book but he also highlights education as a really key variable. More people gathering without education wouldn't lead, as he suggests, to a better democracy. Isn't the declining quality of education far more important in achieving better institutions and stronger communities than mandating bad marriages stay intact? What purpose does not being able to dissolve a no-fault marriage serve?

    Even before him, De Tocqueville highlighted the importance of groups and civic activism in American democracy. Is civic activism declining, in your opinion? What about the last decade? Are we seeing a resurgence with grass roots movements being mobilized by both parties?

  4. #94
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    I dont think there's anything like the grass roots organisation that there once was or like any of those classical authors talked about, grass roots activism or organisations so called now a days are generally spectators or passing time, it could as easily be music festivals that people are turning out for.

    What they talked about as civic activism was pre-welfare state, pre-modern in many ways, before TV, internet, mass publishing or any of the things which make more self-contained and individualised existences possible.

    Those things I think are dead and gone, resurrecting them is a pipe dream and anyone, left or right, who hope for or talk up the return of amenable or polite society with peek oil or any similar crisis arent in touch with reality.

  5. #95
    Senior Member Ruthie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    I'm not sure I agree with the above trends....
    1. Is family stability just=divorce rate? Or could we look at people moving closer to or living in extended families? We're seeing that a lot with the economic crisis.
    2. How do we measure transience? It's a bit different here in the U.S. -- it's always had a more adaptable population because of its economy. Hasn't moving to the city always been an essential part of the American economic dream?
    3. What social mores in particular? Is this referring to premarital sex? What social mores exactly?
    4. How do we measure this one? Deference among whom?
    5. I don't think I'd club all these into the same category. Religious institutions seem to be gaining in importance... What are some national institutions that are declining? Wouldn't the rising number of nationalist movements around the world suggest otherwise.

    Hard to think of the above as positive or negative unless defined clearly.

    I think Putnam definitely has a point with his book but he also highlights education as a really key variable. More people gathering without education wouldn't lead, as he suggests, to a better democracy. Isn't the declining quality of education far more important in achieving better institutions and stronger communities than mandating bad marriages stay intact? What purpose does not being able to dissolve a no-fault marriage serve?

    Even before him, De Tocqueville highlighted the importance of groups and civic activism in American democracy. Is civic activism declining, in your opinion? What about the last decade? Are we seeing a resurgence with grass roots movements being mobilized by both parties?
    The "abolish no-fault divorce" idea has been the most controversial of my original suggestions. The rationale behind it is that a marriage should last until death. Obviously, many don't. But divorce is a failure of that ideal. To call it "no-fault" basically disregards the ideal in the first place. An analogy: I have defaulted on a loan. It's not something I intended to do when I took out the loan (just as most people don't anticipate divorce upon marriage), and it certainly isn't the worst thing a person can do (same goes for divorce). But it's also not something I'm proud of; I made a commitment to do something, and I was unable to do it. That's a failure, and I am responsible. Divorce shouldn't be easy, painless, and void of responsible parties. It's a reality, and is sometimes necessary. But to call it no-fault has huge sociological implications.

    In some measurable ways, civic activism is not declining in the least. Young people are much more likely today to do community service than they were in the past, for example. But those same people are participating less in the political process (mini-bump for Obama, but not nearly the bump that was predicted). They are far less likely to belong to a political party, or really belong to anything at all. If they're skeptical of joining groups, then all the service in the world isn't going to lead to any sustained activism. In my opinion, today's grassroots activists pale in comparison to the gold standard of grassroots activism - the 1955-6 Montgomery bus boycott. What's your take on whether civic activism is increasing or declining?

  6. #96
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    So, is the deterioration of conservative values pushing existentialism?
    I think so, at least in my own case. I also think existentilaism is positive if it's the journey and not the destination.

  7. #97
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    I think the whole no fault divorce thing points up a greater problem in social relationships generally, I think the narratives underpinning consumerism, its culture, has caused it.

    The avaratiousness, my needs can/should/will be met, right now, ramping of selfishness, me, now, again mentality means that along with discarded TVs, Hi-Fis, all that, there's also discarded wives, husbands, kids, parents, dependents, others.

    Whatever happens in the economy has a knock on effect, inevitably on every other facet of human existence, the Marxists were right about that. Its the same insight as the conservatives sought to lay out in opposition to the revolution in France, different time and place, same thing though.

  8. #98
    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    The "abolish no-fault divorce" idea has been the most controversial of my original suggestions. The rationale behind it is that a marriage should last until death. Obviously, many don't. But divorce is a failure of that ideal. To call it "no-fault" basically disregards the ideal in the first place. An analogy: I have defaulted on a loan. It's not something I intended to do when I took out the loan (just as most people don't anticipate divorce upon marriage), and it certainly isn't the worst thing a person can do (same goes for divorce). But it's also not something I'm proud of; I made a commitment to do something, and I was unable to do it. That's a failure, and I am responsible. Divorce shouldn't be easy, painless, and void of responsible parties. It's a reality, and is sometimes necessary. But to call it no-fault has huge sociological implications.
    The bolded part is the problem. Why? This is what I am questioning. The law part is unlikely and would only discourage marriage further. Why mandate the type of commitment made at all? That's an individual choice to make. Sometimes it's a reflection on the type of commitment made, sometimes a reflection on the choice itself and at other times, circumstances, individuals change and there may be irreconcilable differences. If marriages are working out, they will last, one presumes because there is an inherent incentive for them to do so for both parties. If not, why push people to do so? Shouldn't this be something internal, an internal desire for greater commitment?


    In some measurable ways, civic activism is not declining in the least. Young people are much more likely today to do community service than they were in the past, for example. But those same people are participating less in the political process (mini-bump for Obama, but not nearly the bump that was predicted). They are far less likely to belong to a political party, or really belong to anything at all. If they're skeptical of joining groups, then all the service in the world isn't going to lead to any sustained activism. In my opinion, today's grassroots activists pale in comparison to the gold standard of grassroots activism - the 1955-6 Montgomery bus boycott. What's your take on whether civic activism is increasing or declining?

    I really hesitate to hazard a guess. I just think it's important to define how we measure these before we attach levels. Putnam et al. pointed to social networks like bowling leagues and sports clubs just as much as political groups. How would our modern day social networks fit in? Should we count facebook and myspace and twitter? These do play a role in raising awareness of political causes...think Iran recently. On the other hand, do they actually move people to political action? What about online petitions - how do we count those? Do people have to show up for a protest to count? I don't know. I think it's a fascinating subject worth looking into.

    The area in which I would most suspect the rise of activism to hold is that of religious activism or religion inspired activism in the United States...I'd love to see research done on this highlighting broader patterns.

  9. #99
    Senior Member Ruthie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ergophobe View Post
    The bolded part is the problem. Why? This is what I am questioning. The law part is unlikely and would only discourage marriage further. Why mandate the type of commitment made at all? That's an individual choice to make. Sometimes it's a reflection on the type of commitment made, sometimes a reflection on the choice itself and at other times, circumstances, individuals change and there may be irreconcilable differences. If marriages are working out, they will last, one presumes because there is an inherent incentive for them to do so for both parties. If not, why push people to do so? Shouldn't this be something internal, an internal desire for greater commitment?
    Because a lifelong commitment is what distinguishes marriage from other relationships. If there is no expectation of permanence, what's the point?

    I really hesitate to hazard a guess. I just think it's important to define how we measure these before we attach levels. Putnam et al. pointed to social networks like bowling leagues and sports clubs just as much as political groups. How would our modern day social networks fit in? Should we count facebook and myspace and twitter? These do play a role in raising awareness of political causes...think Iran recently. On the other hand, do they actually move people to political action? What about online petitions - how do we count those? Do people have to show up for a protest to count? I don't know. I think it's a fascinating subject worth looking into.
    I'm skeptical about a lot of the online social networking because in a lot of ways, it solidifies fractures in society. You don't have to get along with your neighbor, because you don't need them to be a part of your social network: you can connect only with people who share your interests. As for online activism - I don't know how you would measure success. Sure, it's easy to mobilize for a petition or a protest (look at the tea partiers, for example). But even that's splintered into a million different ideologies with nothing in common.

    The area in which I would most suspect the rise of activism to hold is that of religious activism or religion inspired activism in the United States...I'd love to see research done on this highlighting broader patterns.
    Is your sense that it has increased or decreased?

  10. #100
    Allergic to Mornings ergophobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruthie View Post
    Because a lifelong commitment is what distinguishes marriage from other relationships. If there is no expectation of permanence, what's the point?
    No, a legal contract and/or religious ceremony is what distinguishes marriage from other relationships. People make life long commitments without resorting to marriage. The commitment is not perfectly correlated with the contract. People enter into marriage for a variety of reasons -- legal and financial benefits may dictate this more today.

    I'm skeptical about a lot of the online social networking because in a lot of ways, it solidifies fractures in society. You don't have to get along with your neighbor, because you don't need them to be a part of your social network: you can connect only with people who share your interests. As for online activism - I don't know how you would measure success. Sure, it's easy to mobilize for a petition or a protest (look at the tea partiers, for example). But even that's splintered into a million different ideologies with nothing in common.
    How was this different before? Did you have to get along with your neighbor? Why is it a negative thing for it to be easier for more people to find common interests and form a community - isn't this exactly what the social capital folks would want?

    I think your point about a million causes and a million views on each cause is a fair one -- which is why I'm curious about how this plays out in terms of actual activism. There should then be measures of actual participation, right not just membership of these networks? Voting, identifying with a party, participating in a protest that requires physical presence...

    Is your sense that it has increased or decreased?
    From just personal observation, I'd say increased and particularly among younger folks...fascinating phenomenon.

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