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  1. #11
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Heh, I was just thinking about the tyranical dangers of egalitarianism and democracy (prompted by Obama's remarks about not fearing tyranny.)

    ""There is a tension as we are not designed to be democratic in that way - to love everyone equally. It's human nature to seek an intimate relationship," says Vernon, author of The Philosophy of Friendship.

    He thinks there is "something tyrannical" about saying someone can't have a best friend, and there's nothing wrong with children having a best friend, as long as that friendship isn't based on excluding or rejecting others."
    Take the weakest thing in you
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  2. #12
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    I didn't have best friends growing up because I moved around a lot, and I was usually lost in thought. This was not helpful to my social development.

    There are two important lessons that children can learn from having best friends. The first is how to form deeper relationships, and the second is how to deal with social disappointment. Everyone should learn how to gracefully accept rejection. If a child is having trouble establishing a best friend at school, then parents should help them get involved in additional activities with other children.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
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  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    Heh, I was just thinking about the tyranical dangers of egalitarianism and democracy (prompted by Obama's remarks about not fearing tyranny.)

    ""There is a tension as we are not designed to be democratic in that way - to love everyone equally. It's human nature to seek an intimate relationship," says Vernon, author of The Philosophy of Friendship.

    He thinks there is "something tyrannical" about saying someone can't have a best friend, and there's nothing wrong with children having a best friend, as long as that friendship isn't based on excluding or rejecting others."
    Can you just elaborate a bit on that last point, I like Vernon as a writer and I cant recall if I've ordered that book yet or have it on my Amazon wishlist, I'm finishing his book on God at the moment and starting one of his about the good life next.

    I dont think there is anything tyrannical about friendship, I think that's ridiculous, then again, while I do have real reservations about how democracy and equality have mutated between theory and practice and theory again, I dont see there being many tyrannical dangers and mentioning Obama and tyranny just seems silly at this juncture.

    On the other hand I dont think that friendship should imply social exclusion, othering or ostrichising individuals, it unfortunately often does and Eric Berne talks about that in The Games People Play but I dont think it necessarily should involve those things.

  4. #14

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    I dont think there's anything wrong with having best friends, its objectively the case wether it is judged to be a morally good or bad thing in any case.

    On the other hand, especially among kids, adolescents and some adults who're not very emotionally mature, a greater part of any friendship or bonding is done on the basis of "lets you and I hate them" which is stupid, real stupid, and dangerous when it crosses a particular line with vulnerable persons, groups or becomes violent and oppressive.

    I'm also wary of any parenting advice which appears and is reported as patently ludicrous, a lot of the time I've found someone is seeking to discredit something which if you dig a little deeper makes some kind of sense. Although that said the best you can hope for in some of those situations is that it will at the very least serve as some sort of exhibition of well intentions with major bad consequences because of mismatches between the messages originator and its receptors.

    There's a scene in Enemy At The Gates, which I believe unfortunately is actually a faithful reflection of the novel and some political arguments in some quarters, in which a jealous rival for a woman comments/reveals just before he sacrifices himself that he has lost all faith in equality because he lost the contest for the woman's affections. I hate it because it is to me one of the worst examples of throwing out the baby with the bathwater or reductive equal means the same reasoning there is.

    My point is that its easy to troll on equality, much, much more so in our present culture than it is say liberty, or even authority (and that is saying something), and this could be an example of that.

  5. #15
    LL P. Stewie Beorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Can you just elaborate a bit on that last point, I like Vernon as a writer and I cant recall if I've ordered that book yet or have it on my Amazon wishlist, I'm finishing his book on God at the moment and starting one of his about the good life next.
    I don't know anything about Vernon. It's interesting that you're reading his book. I was just quoting from the article in the OP.

    I dont think there is anything tyrannical about friendship, I think that's ridiculous, then again, while I do have real reservations about how democracy and equality have mutated between theory and practice and theory again, I dont see there being many tyrannical dangers and mentioning Obama and tyranny just seems silly at this juncture.
    The tyranny comes from forcing egalitarianism on the children in a school setting and not allowing them to have best friends. Of course how tyranical that actually is depends on how they apply the principle.

    I only brought up Obama because I just thought it was a funny coincidence that I was just thinking about the danger of egalitarianism/democracy, but in a different context.

    His specific quote was:
    "They'll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can't be trusted."

    To me, the reality is that democracy is a fragile thing precisely because of the dangers of democratic self-rule turning into mob rule and succumbing to demagoguery. Tyranny soon followed the democracy of Athens over two thousand years ago and many leftists in America would argue tyranny followed the election of bush a little over a decade ago. So it only seems wise to be wary of the slippery slope from democracy to tyranny rather than flattering the masses and claiming there's no risk of tyranny with government based on self-rule because all Americans are so awesome.

    On the other hand I dont think that friendship should imply social exclusion, othering or ostrichising individuals, it unfortunately often does and Eric Berne talks about that in The Games People Play but I dont think it necessarily should involve those things.
    Some exclusion at times would seem necessary to cultivate more personal relationships. I think it just depends on how others are excluded and that children are still exposed to some degree to different kinds of people despite their own preferences. Ideally parents would model this. When I say exposure to other kinds of people I don't mean to imply any promotion of multiculturalism, but rather the simple fact that wherever people are they will generally be within proximity of a diverse spectrum of people and learning to get along with those different types of people is important for community cohesion.

    I'm not sure how all this ties together, but I think it's interesting that you bring up ostricism. I think the origin of ostracism was actually rooted in the Athenian idea of maintaining democracy by ostracizing people who gained too much sway over the public. Of course that system got corrupted like the rest of the system. I suppose it just goes to show that determining how children should get along during recess isn't all that far removed from political philosophy and how whole societies get along.
    Take the weakest thing in you
    And then beat the bastards with it
    And always hold on when you get love
    So you can let go when you give it

  6. #16
    Wake, See, Sing, Dance Cellmold's Avatar
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    I never had a best friend, even the one person who ive known for a long time, since I was a small child, isn't really close enough to me for me to claim best friendship with him.

    Although that has more to do with me distancing myself than anything else.
    'One of (Lucas) Cranach's masterpieces, discussed by (Joseph) Koerner, is in it's self-referentiality the perfect expression of left-hemisphere emptiness and a precursor of post-modernism. There is no longer anything to point to beyond, nothing Other, so it points pointlessly to itself.' - Iain McGilChrist

    Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
    "Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
    Piglet was comforted by this.
    - A.A. Milne.

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beorn View Post
    I don't know anything about Vernon. It's interesting that you're reading his book. I was just quoting from the article in the OP.
    Oh right, I didnt read it. Vernon was a controversial figure within the anglican church who left when he had a crisis of faith and decided there probably wasnt a God, he wrote books on the topic of humanism and fought with the neo-athiests like Dawkins and Dennett, then he rediscovered his "religious imagination" which he believes that everyone possesses and is unexplained by science, apparently deciding that atheism is insufficient in its understanding of religion and God as aspects of human experience he has gone back to writing about God, writing about love and writing about friendship with philosophical and spiritual verve.

    He interests me because he's not satisfied with the standard stock answers of either "camp" and doesnt think they satisfy human needs or resonate with the majority of human experience, across time aswell as culture or place. I think its similar to Erich Fromm, though Fromm was more of an atheist because of the Marxist influence (although disliking the label and talking about being a non-theist), and I think Fromm, while repetitive was a bit of a more inspiring writer.


    The tyranny comes from forcing egalitarianism on the children in a school setting and not allowing them to have best friends. Of course how tyranical that actually is depends on how they apply the principle.
    I dont know if I'd apply the label in that way but I know what you mean. Perhaps it isnt something to split hairs about.

    I only brought up Obama because I just thought it was a funny coincidence that I was just thinking about the danger of egalitarianism/democracy, but in a different context.

    His specific quote was:
    "They'll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, and creative, and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can't be trusted."

    To me, the reality is that democracy is a fragile thing precisely because of the dangers of democratic self-rule turning into mob rule and succumbing to demagoguery. Tyranny soon followed the democracy of Athens over two thousand years ago and many leftists in America would argue tyranny followed the election of bush a little over a decade ago. So it only seems wise to be wary of the slippery slope from democracy to tyranny rather than flattering the masses and claiming there's no risk of tyranny with government based on self-rule because all Americans are so awesome.
    On the one hand I know what you mean, concerns about tyranny should not amount to partisan politics, unfortunately a lot of the time they do and people are only worried about the tyranny of opinions and policies they dont support.

    This is all playing out sort of interestingly in NI at the moment, when Ian Paisley first created his political party it was called the protetant unionist party, it changed to the democratic unionist party and for a long time unionists and loyalists were big, big fans of democracy because they felt the sectarian head count would always operate in their favour, presently with the head count favouring them less by the day the rhetoric has changed to one of "democracy isnt working" or "democracy is broken" and a panic and dread has broken out about it, usually with reference to things like flags or other symbolic or symbolically significant issues.

    I've always been interested in democracy as more than elections or majorities, as an idea involving self-rule. With reference to Obama I think the Democrats in the US are perhaps gearing up for the battle ahead with hardline libertarian elements, the right wing isnt prepared to deal with its militant tendencies, the same thing has happened in the UK, so while the left wing did deal with its militant tendencies or they just went off into the wilderness they now are trying to deal with the right wings militant strains. I dont think they're the best people to do it though. It really should be the right wing that does it.



    Some exclusion at times would seem necessary to cultivate more personal relationships. I think it just depends on how others are excluded and that children are still exposed to some degree to different kinds of people despite their own preferences. Ideally parents would model this. When I say exposure to other kinds of people I don't mean to imply any promotion of multiculturalism, but rather the simple fact that wherever people are they will generally be within proximity of a diverse spectrum of people and learning to get along with those different types of people is important for community cohesion.

    I'm not sure how all this ties together, but I think it's interesting that you bring up ostricism. I think the origin of ostracism was actually rooted in the Athenian idea of maintaining democracy by ostracizing people who gained too much sway over the public. Of course that system got corrupted like the rest of the system. I suppose it just goes to show that determining how children should get along during recess isn't all that far removed from political philosophy and how whole societies get along.
    You mean shunning? Or boycotting? Perhaps, although that's always going to be applied by bullying kids not by kids against bullies, it gets misapplied by adults even, especially if you consider the while chick-fil-a thing (spelling).

    I know a little bit about the UK's whole deal with the topic of social exclusion and agonising over it though, this isnt simply about looking at kids preferential for one friend over and another and trying to prevent bullying, its a bit broader than that.

    Its a pretty hopeful idea about group dynamics and secondary socialisation, the sort of sociology which is acceptable to selfish-capitalists and conscientious liberals alike, the aim or hope being that inclusion rather than exclusion could lead to a revivial in a lot of the across the board social values which would make deviance and some sorts of deprivation less likely.

    Personally I think that its a hell of a big, big ask for kids sometimes, I know that for different reasons the left and right are unwilling to sponsor or support or sustain the paternalism, or even the popular authoritarianism, of years gone by and perhaps the grou dynamics and secondary socialisation of yester year were vitally anciliary factors in all that anyway but anyway, disassociation seems like the most basic thing someone individually or a small group can do when faced with unsocial or anti-social behaviour.

  8. #18
    ISFJophile zelo1954's Avatar
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    I always knew I was a bit of a cynic but I think I just might have hit a new low here
    My first thought on reading the title of this post and the title of the actual article was one of shear disbelief. Then I saw the context in which the article was written. My next thought was: "Ah yes - wouldn't it be so much easier to run the school smoothly if children weren't allowed best friends?" Am I being unduly cynical or is there a ring of truth in my thoughts?
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  9. #19
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zelo1954 View Post
    I always knew I was a bit of a cynic but I think I just might have hit a new low here
    My first thought on reading the title of this post and the title of the actual article was one of shear disbelief. Then I saw the context in which the article was written. My next thought was: "Ah yes - wouldn't it be so much easier to run the school smoothly if children weren't allowed best friends?" Am I being unduly cynical or is there a ring of truth in my thoughts?
    God, probably. You know how they always put the troublemakers next to the quiet, compliant kids so they are less likely to cause a disturbance. They basically reward kids for being good by making them sit by assholes. Bleh.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  10. #20
    your resident asshole
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    What's next? Designating which pockets of air the children are allowed to breathe?

    I don't get it. I mean, on some level, you choose your friends. But this happens naturally. If someone puts you in a random group and "forces" you to become friends, you probably eventually will become friends, but it will likely be met with much resistance in the process. In this way, we feel controlled. In elementary school I only had a few, somewhat close friends each year. So every year I had one or two "best friends" that changed every time I moved up a grade. These probably weren't really "true" best friends, as I didn't hang out with anyone outside of school much.

    The basic issue here is the problem with "cliques" and social groups which single others out and make us-vs.-them situations. I was in a very odd situation in which I was part of a circle of friends that eventually became a clique that slowly excluded me, to the point of making fun of me (and apparently also doing so behind my back) and giving me dirty looks. It sucks to feel alienated. The clique broke up one day and I became great friends with one of the members again. People are weird.

    Anyway, enough of my rambling. The basic point is...best friends are NOT the issue. It's the dumb us vs. them mentalities and singling out people to bully that makes everyone's life suck. (Yes, I know that sentence was wonderfully articulated. Your welcome. /s) If there is a young child who is always alone, it might be a great idea for a teacher to intervene and help them find a social group. In elementary school and younger children seem to be much more open to this sort of thing.

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