Saturday, September 26, 2020

870: The Problem of the Present......

 We have seen enough evidence by now for the assumption that most people are OK. The willingness to assume the opposite is still strong.


We don't live in a world, where all co-operation is based on mutual trust. We develop all kinds of laws and regulations, because we mistrust each other.


I have to add another observation to it, which is at least equally disturbing and worrying.


There is no lack of explanations for the rise of populism, and most of them will oscillate somewhat 


between an emphasis on the economy. We should bring back the jobs to our own country and fight the threat from globalization 


and national culture: our national identity is threatened by immigration. We might even become a minority in our own country....


But political philosopher Michael Sandel, a professor at Harvard University, brings to the fore yet another factor: the scourge of meritocracy. 


The title of his latest book is "The Tyranny of Merit" (2020). According to Sandel, one of the world's most influential intellectuals, there is a great shadow over our societies 


in the form of the idea that everything is our own merit, both success and failure. In the US there even is a group that claims,


that when you are rich and wealthy it is because God bestowed it on you.  So, get rich and if you don't succeed you stay a loser and God seemed not to be interested in you.


It is a thought that flatters the ego of the winners and injures that of the losers. That is the source of the populist revolt. 


The growing inequality of the past four decades has been justified by meritocratic doctrine and the result is resentment. 


-quote- “The keynote of populism is resentment against the elite. Working class people realize that the elite look down on them, especially the university-educated professional elite. 


And it is important to recognize that the resentment is understandable given how the ruling elites have organized the global economy. 


A neoliberal system, added to a way of thinking that wants the winners to owe their success to themselves, ”according to Sandel. 


It is no coincidence that someone like Donald Trump, a real estate tycoon, was able to express the dissatisfaction of the losers.


He was never taken seriously by the financial, political and intellectual elite.


This reminded me of my lecture of more than a year ago, July 2020, lecture 729.


There I presented you with observations, which are completely in line with the observations of Sandel.


For the record...these were not MY observations, but those of the journalist, Leonie Breebaart, philosopher and editor of my morning newspaper "TROUW".


I quoted then: Another decade ago, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman called humiliation the most underestimated factor in international politics. 


He was primarily referring to the hatred of young Muslims who, rightly or wrongly, feel humiliated by the West. 


But also the less violent cult around Trump is probably best explained by the fact that his whole appearance, personality 


and last but not least, his tweets give expression to the feeling with which the humiliated American can compensate for his loss of status, 


for example by marrying a far too young and beautiful woman, 


and not giving a shit about the impression you leave behind for all those arrogant know-it-all types who think they are better than him. (...)


.....if his predecessor, Obama, in his turn, stood for something, then it was for the type of man, that the older white American had never before considered a serious possibility. 


What a loss of status! Trump as avenger of the humiliated. It is of a huge sadness and dangerous, moreover. 


What the president achieves for the Americans, let alone for the North Koreans, or for the world peace, his fans are hardly interested. 


As long as he gives the losers the feeling of being great. And didn't Trump say it himself? He declared his own country a looser by his slogan "To make America great again" 


and thus he put himself on the thrown as the King of the Losers. What a sadness indeed.  

As you see, Michael Sandel is right and his book worth reading, like his other book "What Money Can't Buy" (2012).


Thank you for your attention......


Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
Rutger Bregman, "De meeste mensen deugen",, 2019


The Discussion


[13:20] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman

[13:20] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[13:21] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): so the reason why they behave like greedy assholes is because they feel humiliated by god?

[13:21] herman Bergson: Keep in mind...Trump is NOT a cause....he is the symptom of the huge gap between the elite and the others

[13:22] herman Bergson: no no Bejiita....

[13:22] Anuska (anuska.loon) is offline.

[13:22] CB Axel: Ni, Bejiita. The act that way because they feel entitled to by God.

[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): IN GOD WE TRUST!

[13:22] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): SIGH!

[13:22] herman Bergson: The rich one do, indeedCB.....

[13:22] CB Axel: God made them successful, so they can look down on "losers."

[13:23] herman Bergson: yes...

[13:23] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): as usual religion is the source of soooo much bad :(

[13:23] CB Axel: They're allowed to look down on "losers."

[13:23] herman Bergson: This winner / loser philosophy is deeply engrained in US culture

[13:23] Ludova (quippe.wylder): So the guy who most obviously looks down on losers is the champion of the losers?

[13:24] herman Bergson: it  is not common believe in Europe for instance

[13:24] herman Bergson: That is why Europe could have social democrate governments

[13:25] herman Bergson: Any help for a 'loser' in the US is socialism or other words...BAD

[13:25] CB Axel: There is a local politician here who has an add saying that his opponent wants to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and "in God we trust" from our money.

[13:25] herman Bergson: I don't know why..but yet...

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): grmblll

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): its crazy

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and sad

[13:25] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): why?

[13:25] CB Axel: He says his opponent wants to remover God from government.

[13:26] CB Axel: A god that doesn't  belong in our government in the first place.

[13:26] herman Bergson: be is about time...:-)

[13:26] herman Bergson: But this dichotomy in society is growing......

[13:26] Ludova (quippe.wylder): I'd like to remove us vs them thinking from religion

[13:27] CB Axel: All that stuff was added in something like the 50's or 60's when we were paranoid about communism.

[13:27] CB Axel: Those godless commies!

[13:27] CB Axel: We couldn't be like them.

[13:27] herman Bergson: I was taught as a kid to take cover under the stairs when the bomb would fall

[13:28] CB Axel: Ludova, if Christians didn't keep trying to shove their beliefs down our throats there wouldn't be a divide.

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): a god that says that you are a looser if not having most money of all, no wonder there is a such inequality over there

[13:28] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): not a healthy culture

[13:28] Ludova (quippe.wylder): OK, let's look at the society of the losers. Is it a society that believes everybody in it is OK, or is it just as bad.

[13:28] CB Axel: I refuse to live under a Christian version of Sharia law.

[13:28] herman Bergson: it is the meritocratic believe.....

[13:29] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): something have to change for sure about that

[13:29] herman Bergson: It overlooks all luck you had....

[13:29] CB Axel: Meritocracy only works if everyone starts from the same point.

[13:29] CB Axel: And if everyone has all the same advantages.

[13:29] Ludova (quippe.wylder): If you got it you're OK, otherwise you're not, no matter how you got it if no one catches you.

[13:30] herman Bergson: and if everyone has the same talents and capacity, CB

[13:30] CB Axel: And belief in some invisible dude from a book of fairy tales is not an advantage.

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): eee O!

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): NO

[13:30] herman Bergson: and if not...? What then....waht to do with the lesser gifted?

[13:30] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): throw them on the streets :(

[13:30] CB Axel: Differently gifted. I may not have the same talents as you, but I bet there are things I can do that you can't.

[13:31] Ludova (quippe.wylder): They only need to be gifted enough to contribute something. I keep getting into places requiring training I don't have just because no one else around has it either.

[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:31] herman Bergson: That is what society is based on....everyone respected for his own qualities...

[13:31] herman Bergson: equally

[13:31] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa as it should be

[13:31] CB Axel: Except that's not what society is based on.

[13:32] herman Bergson: should be that way in my opinion

[13:32] CB Axel: At least not in the US.

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ther its based on how rich u are

[13:32] Ludova (quippe.wylder): I agree Herman

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): it seems

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): at least mostly

[13:32] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): status status status

[13:32] CB Axel: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs" ?

[13:33] CB Axel: The US will never accept that. It's communist.

[13:33] Ludova (quippe.wylder): If everyone is OK, then we need to support everyone.

[13:33] herman Bergson: We have reached the stage that we have to formulate the ideas and possibilities about a society based on the believe that most people are OK

[13:34] herman Bergson: Believe me..I am in trouble for the coming lectures...:-)

[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): Trump might nuke you

[13:34] CB Axel: Oh?

[13:34] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): lol

[13:34] Ludova (quippe.wylder): Eh?

[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hopefully he is not aware of our little discussions

[13:35] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:35] herman Bergson: I have to come up with plausible ideas on how to build a society based on this belief

[13:35] herman Bergson: belief

[13:35] Ludova (quippe.wylder): Yes, and i've been trying to do that without much success.

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah ok

[13:36] herman Bergson: You really are encouraging Ludova ^_^

[13:36] CB Axel: Since only most people are OK, we need a plan on how to deal with the ones who aren't.

[13:36] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:36] Ludova (quippe.wylder): Well, Herman, you' have the merit of knowledge of philosophy and I don't.

[13:37] herman Bergson smiles

[13:37] herman Bergson: I hope it might help :-)

[13:37] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): ah

[13:37] Ludova (quippe.wylder): I think everyone has the potential to be OK and the ones that aren't acting OK need help, not punish  ent.

[13:37] herman Bergson: I agree, LUdova

[13:38] Ludova (quippe.wylder): I was lucky.  When I was not OK I got help.

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): id say i any case that the "losers" are the ones that are the ok ones because their looser title comes from the not ok and greedy ones

[13:38] CB Axel: Me, too, but can't we punish them just a little first before we rehabilitate them? lol

[13:38] Ludova (quippe.wylder): Why? What good does that do?

[13:38] herman Bergson: ^_^

[13:38] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe

[13:39] herman Bergson: Just for fun, Ludova....I guess :-)

[13:39] CB Axel: None, really. It just allows me to vent my frustrations. :)

[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:39] Ludova (quippe.wylder): Every rich person is not OK, is that what we're coming up with?

[13:39] herman Bergson: No....

[13:39] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): not every rich one but the ones that chase more and more for status and thing anyone not as rich is a looser

[13:39] Ludova (quippe.wylder): It sounds that way sometimes.

[13:40] herman Bergson: YEs I understand.....

[13:40] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): like Trump and similar ones believing wealth being all there is to have a value  at all

[13:40] CB Axel: I think the US will have to make marijuana legal before I can not want to punish people.

[13:41] Ludova (quippe.wylder): I'm in an interesting position. I'm fairly well off, but I spent 25 years being considered not OK by just abot everyone.

[13:41] herman Bergson: We have coffee shops in the Netherlands for you CB :-)

[13:41] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): they are legal:)

[13:41] CB Axel: I know! I think I'd like living in the Netherlands.

[13:41] herman Bergson: keep it clear....

[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): what make u an ok person to me and to gain respect is to be nice and social, no matter how much money u have or little

[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): thats being Ok to me among other things

[13:42] herman Bergson: With OK we mean here.....helpful, empathic, willing to share....

[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): among

[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): yes

[13:42] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): exactly

[13:42] herman Bergson: everybody can be that....

[13:42] Ludova (quippe.wylder): Yes, if they aren't too scared to be.

[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): and afraid to be losers

[13:43] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): like they think

[13:43] herman Bergson: it is just that for instance this meritocratic belief makes some people less willing to help others...

[13:43] Ludova (quippe.wylder): True.

[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): u are a looser to me if u behave like a greedy AH trampling down on others, not the other way around like they think

[13:44] herman Bergson: And such people only don't understand that this meritocratic belief is an error....doing  no right to others with less abilities etc

[13:44] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): true

[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): what is scary is that they get support from others (like trump do) when behaving like this when it should be the other way around

[13:45] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): from so many people

[13:45] Ludova (quippe.wylder): You've got to be taught to think you're better, because for every level of talent there's someone else better and someone else worse.

[13:46] herman Bergson: ok.....let's try to figure out a future in the coming lectures based on the belief that most people are ok....we've already seen that the assumption makes sense

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): aaa

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): good idea

[13:47] herman Bergson: Ao..thank you all again for your participation...:-))

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:47] Ludova (quippe.wylder): Great, that's why I come to this class.

[13:47] CB Axel: Thank you, Herman.

[13:47] herman Bergson: Class dismisse....

[13:47] herman Bergson: d

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): sould we try to draw some TRUE winners now in turtle?

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako):

[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): Thank you Herman

[13:47] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): hehe

[13:48] CB Axel: I'll see you all next week.

[13:48] Particle Physicist Bejiita (bejiita.imako): cu CB

[13:48] bergfrau Apfelbaum: Thank you Herman and class:-))

[13:48] herman Bergson: Take care CB

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