|Paul:||Look, it's a school of whales.|
|Ringo:||They look a little bit old for school.|
|Ringo:||University of "Wales".|
|John:||They look like drop outs to me.|
-- from Yellow Submarine (released 1968-07-17 in the UK (November of that year in the US))
"The Republican Party has a platform that can't prevail in democratic competition. [...] When highly committed parties strongly believe [in] things that they cannot achieve democratically, they don't give up on their beliefs -- they give up on democracy.
"As the outlook for conservatives and Republicans becomes more bleak, they're going to face a choice: Either they accommodate some of the changes that are happening to American society, like universal heath coverage, or else they're going to have to face up to the fact that what they believe can't be achieved if everybody votes."
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2017-03-09:
"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." -- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President (1858-1919)
(submitted to the mailing list by Patsy Wang-Iverson)
"The time to worry about the erosion of Democratic norms was about 15 years ago. the time to worry about 'civility' was in the 90s. As Kosh says: 'The avalanche has started, it is too late 4 the pebbles to vote.'" -- Harold Feld (@haroldfeld), 2018-06-25
Excerpted from a Twitter-essay by R. Lemberg, immigrant (@RoseLemberg), 2018-06-26:
The concept of social face, coined by Goffman, is important here. Face is the positive social value a person claims when interacting with other people. Face is related to respectability, pride, and sense of self-worth.
Face is related to social status and to identity. What kind of face we can claim directly relates to who we are and what kind of social power we hold. People surrounding you are CRUCIAL to maintaining or not maintaining the kind of power we want/expect to project.
Social status is maintained in a community. It can also be disrupted by a community. If a queen finds herself in a situation where nobody bows, nobody addresses her as "your majesty," and nobody shows any deference, it would not be easy to feel very royal. People - groups - societies - must maintain existing social norms and power relations. People must play along, or the relations of power are disrupted.
Again, it is very important to understand that OTHER PEOPLE maintain or threaten one's social face, and therefore one's social standing, one's power.
You already saw how this plays out in our MD example: the MD wants to be approved of by others (respect from nurses, patients), the MD wants to be unimpeded (e.g. to have orders carried out without disruption). People must play along for this to work.
More on positive face wants: people want to be accepted and approved by their family, social circle. More on negative face wants: people don't want to be told not to do the things they want to do. The more power one holds, the more one expects to have these face wants maintained. Maintaining face wants preserves the existing power relations. You have to be polite to people with more power, you do not have to be as polite to people with less power.
What is, then, politeness? Politeness is playing along with what is expected in terms of power. Politeness is maintaining the social power of people who already have social power (e.g. showing deference to doctors, politicians, etc) - this is positive politeness; and politeness is also not impeding the actions of other people, e.g. not resisting or questioning orders from power-holders - this is negative politeness.
Can you see how politeness is all about maintaining the existing social power in discourse?
What are the current lamentations about "lack of civility" about, then? This is about the disruption of power relations. It's lamenting the lack of desire of people with lesser power to maintain the face of people with more power -- *because of their immoral actions*. "Return to civility" is a request to play along with power which demands 1) universal admiration (positive politeness) even as the power harms you, 2) not to impede the power's actions (negative impoliteness), even when it's snatching babies from parents.
[Bold emphasis added. Also, I've collected the thread onto a single page to make it easier for me to cut and paste from, and it occurs to me that some folks might find it easier to read that way too.]
[Thinking about calls for 'civility', and how that is and isn't a form of tone-policing, and why "just object more politely" does not work. And then this example of a call for civility crossed my screen: The New York Times, 1934-06-15. ( text and page image | image at NYT, for subscribers)]
Wernersville, PA., June 14 -- Good will, not hate or reprisals, will end, or offset, the evils of the Hitler government's persecution of Jews, Professor Henry J. Cadbury, Professor of Biblical Literature at Bryn Mawr College, told the Central Conference of American Rabbis as it opened its convention here today.
"By hating Hitler and trying to fight back, Jews are only increasing the severity of his policies against them."
"If Jews throughout the world try to instill into the minds of Hitler and his supporters recognition of the ideals for which the race stands, and if Jews appeal to the German sense of Justice and German national conscience, I am sure the problem will be solved more effectively and earlier than otherwise."
The boycott against German, he asserted, is not an effective means of meeting the evil.
""Boycotts are simply war without bloodshed," he said, "and war in any form is not they way to right the wrongs being inflicted on the Jewish people."
I don't think those who set themselves against you have to Be Hitler for the lesson here to apply. Yes, there are times to make one's case politely and entirely with reason, but there are also times when that is futile and the crisis too urgent.
BTW, there's also a followup article in the same paper, 1934-06-16, with the headline, "GOOD-WILL BARRED TO NAZIS BY RABBIS; Wise Leads Wave of Objection to Advice by Cadbury, of Society of Friends." I can't see the article because I'm not a subscriber, but the summary that is visible reads, "WERINERSVILLE, Pa., June 15. -- Rabbi Stephen S. Wise of New York today led a wave of objection to the advice of Professor Henry J. Cadbury of Bryn Mawr College to the convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis."
[Continuing to quote from the same thread as yesterday...]
"Maybe we made a mistake in calling things 'rights.' That word makes it seem like it's natural--something you can just assume is yours even though people can and will take it. Something you don't have to protect because it's supposedly self-evident.
"I talked to a lot of people while canvassing who thought we'd settled civil 'rights' and women's 'rights' and that was the end of that. 'They're 'rights' now, so why should we concern ourselves with those things? I'm going to vote my conscience!' Those 'rights' are tenuous, as any non-white person or any woman of any race who's ever gone to a Planned Parenthood for a pap smear can tell you. Your 'rights' have no meaning to angry evangelical white people.
"And those same angry evangelical white people now have control of all three branches of government.
"And because you slept on it, you will not have those 'rights' unless you are prepared to rip them from the cold, putrified fists of those white evangelicals. Stop telling me and everyone else that it'll all be OK -- that it'll just work itself out in the end. It won't. [...]"
"I've noticed a disturbing trend. People keep telling me that everything will be alright and that everything will work itself out, as if personal freedom and democracy are the default of human nature.
"They are not. If they were, then the American experiment, with all its many flaws, wouldn't have been exceptional. But it was exceptional. Even with the subjugation of a good percentage of its population, it was still exceptional. The fact that even some percentage -- not even a majority -- of the population had a voice was exceptional. Even when people still had slaves. Even when women couldn't vote. Just the fact that some people had a say in how their government was run was an exception, not a rule.
"Everyone had to fight for that. White American men got it after the American Revolution. Women didn't get it until 1920. Black people supposedly got it but are still fighting for it to this day.
"Democracy is not a default. It's something people had to bleed for. It's something women got raped for. It's something @repjohnlewis got his head smashed in for. Things aren't going to self-correct. [...]"
From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2018-05-05:
"The bourgeoisie has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous 'cash payment'. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation." -- Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, perhaps predicting Facebook.
Marx was born 200 years ago, on May 5, 1818.
(submitted to the mailing list by Mike Krawchuk)
"Give a man a program, frustrate him for a day.
Teach a man to program, frustrate him for a lifetime." -- Waseem Latif
"If you grow up poor and advocate for socialism, it's envy. If you grow up middle class, you're just a corn-fed hipster trying to be contrarian. If you're well-off, your socialism is privilege. There is no ideologically correct way of being a socialist." -- Luke Savage (@LukewSavage), 2018-07-01
"My intention is to continue the voyage, still nonstop, toward the Pacific Islands, where there is plenty of sun and more peace than in Europe. Please do not think I am trying to break a record. Record is a very stupid word at sea. I am continuing nonstop because I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul." -- Bernard Moitessier, 1969-03-18, dropping out of a round-the-world nonstop solo sailing race
[Yes, he dropped out of the race so he could continue sailing longer and to more interesting places/]
"The Pax Americana, the three generations of relative peace and prosperity that followed World War II, was different in every detail from the Roman Principate. Not only are we vastly richer than Rome could have imagined, we're also a lot nicer: America has done some terrible and shameful things, but nothing like what the Romans did when they got angry.
"Still, our sort-of empire, like Rome's, has been held together mainly by soft power rather than violence. Even when America was an overwhelmingly dominant economic and military power, it generally exercised restraint, getting its allies to buy in to our system rather than resorting to raw compulsion.
"And it worked really well. Not perfectly, of course, but we gave the world -- and ourselves -- an era that was incredibly benign compared with the modern Thirty Years War that came before."
-- Paul Krugman, 2018-06-17
[Yes, there's a "but...". Despite that "but", I wish all my countrymen a wonderful Independence Day!]
"Americans should have fathomed the depth of the crisis Trump would cause in 2016, but many chose denial, ridiculing those who spoke the plain meaning of Trumpism as oversensitive. [...] The separation of children from their families at the border in order to punish children for their parents' decision to seek a better life America, as the forebears of millions of Americans once did, has now clarified for many what should have been obvious before.
"People who would do this to children would do anything to anyone. Before this is over, they will be called to do worse."
-- Adam Serwer, "Trumpism, Realized", The Atlantic, 2018-06-20
"Never underestimate a Canadian. Not their friendship nor their resolve when attacked." -- Bruce Heyman, former US Ambassador to Canada, quoted in "On this Canada Day, we appreciate who we are more than ever" (editorial, Toronto Star, 2018-07-01)
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos." -- Edmund O. Wilson, quoted in Curt Stager, "The Silence of the Bugs," The New York Times [thanks to realinterrobang for quoting this earlier]
"I'm the firstborn Jewish son after the Holocaust. You don't just blindly follow. You don't just blindly obey. You stand up when you see something wrong. Your government, like any other government, can make mistakes." -- former student anti-Vietnam War protestor Mark Greenside, interviewed in "American Experience: Two Days in October" [thanks to realinterrobang for transcribing this and to fidhle for suggesting I watch it]
"Note: The Horrible Things Happening Now are Using Laws STILL on the Books Originally Used Against Native People. Many of Us have Been Trying to Tell Anyone Who Will Listen that These Laws Exist and we Were Dismissed. I Said, It will Matter When They Use them Against You." -- Delores Schilling (@DelSchilling), 2018-06-23
"The scary part is now everyone in the world is finding out how impotent civilization is when it comes up against someone who doesn't care and doesn't have to. We've all been very comfortable in the fallacy that 'checks and balances' and 'the will of the people' will save us in the end. There's a reason why the gods of ancient times were depicted as merciless." -- sophronia, Alicublog, comments [thanks to realinterrobang for quoting this earlier]
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