Plato identified prudence as one of the great facilities of man and ascribed prudence as symbolizing rulers and justice. Bertrand Russel found that at least sometimes prudence was suffocating; ” By self-interest, Man has become gregarious, but in instinct he has remained to a great extent solitary; hence the need of religion and morality to reinforce self-interest. But the habit of foregoing present satisfactions for the sake of the future advantages is irksome, and when passions are roused and prudent restraints of social behavior become difficult to endure. Those who, at such times, throw them off, acquire a new energy and sense of power from cessation of inner conflict, and, though they may come to disaster in the end, enjoy meanwhile a sense of God-like exaltation which, though known to the great mystics, can never be experienced by a merely pedestrian virtue.” When it came to war Russell thought the lack of prudence in politics was “evil”. Like everything other idea, prudence has its trends. It might be time for a revival or maybe not. Something to consider, Charles Foster on Living Prudently
Precisely. In that sense we’re all prisoners of [18th century French philosopher Jean-Jacques] Rousseau. We are all living a dream that our hearts are pure tuning forks, and we simply have to tune out the noises around us and listen to the pure vibration coming from our hearts, and then – beyond all concern for evidence or the reality of the way things work – we will know what to do.
Even Hitler, another child of Romanticism, was a proponent of this romantic attitude. The Nazis were incredibly romantic. Hitler said: “I follow my course with the precision and security of a sleepwalker.” Meaning he trusted himself in the same way that a naive and romantic 21st century person will trust his or her heart to know what’s right. We know this often leads to terrible decisions but God forbid we should be calculating! So we continue to go forth blindly.
Is it especially hard to achieve prudence in today’s society and culture?
It’s always been hard to sift through the fog of possibilities and false whispers that flood us within and without. But it’s especially hard today in the face of an anti-prudence ideology. In action movies, there is a hero and a villain. The hero is usually a good-hearted but rather impulsive person. He trusts his instincts and goes by his heart. You always know the villain because he’s the most thinky character in the movie. He’s the one who plots, strategises and uses cunning. So we are caught in a culturally constructed contradiction between thought and the heart. By being thoughtful, we think we are being calculating and therefore at risk of being manipulating, deceitful and false. We don’t like that image of ourselves. We like the hero who is pure of heart, trusts his gut, flies forward and deals with whatever comes at him.
Instead, what we should be aiming at is a full awareness that when we’re faced with a decision – from what to do about my marriage, or my job or where I’m going to live – we have to listen to our hearts but also be aware of the possibility that we may be deceiving ourselves. We are too often creatures of attitude. The deepest truth of our hearts is often an attitude that we have picked up from groupthink or the culture around us, or it’s some past decision that we have an unthinking allegiance to.
The recent book I’ve worked on [with Mira Kirshenbaum] is I Love You But I Don’t Trust You. When there’s been a betrayal in a relationship, you’re deeply hurt and terrified. The dilemma we face is that we’re often torn between imprudent alternatives. If you’ve been terribly hurt, you can be a prisoner of past decisions, of attitude, of other people’s expectations or of fear. Until you go through a process of challenging your fears and feelings against what’s possible and what’s real, you’re not making the most prudent choice. So much of my work [as a therapist] has been about rescuing people from imprudence – the imprudence of their current situation, where they’re on the verge of making bad choices, or the destructive cost of past imprudence.
I still think Paul makes a good protest candidate to focus some attention on certain issues and I still think he is a loon, Libertarian Illusions
Yet the error of libertarianism lies not in championing liberty, but in championing liberty to the exclusion of all other values. Libertarians hold that individual liberty should never be sacrificed in the pursuit of other values or causes. Compassion, justice, civic responsibility, honesty, decency, humility, respect, and even survival of the poor, weak, and vulnerable — all are to take a back seat.
[ ]…By taking an extreme view — that liberty alone is to be defended among all of society’s values — libertarians reach extreme conclusions. Suppose a rich man has a surfeit of food and a poor man living next door is starving to death. The libertarian says that the government has no moral right or political claim to tax the rich person in order to save the poor person. Perhaps the rich person should be generous and give charity to the neighbor, the libertarian might say (or might not), but there is nothing that the government should do. The moral value of saving the poor person’s life simply does not register when compared with the liberty of the rich person.
This weird and deeply immoral view of freedom was very apparent in the now infamous debate in which the conservative-libertarian crowd cheered at the hypothetical death of a man without health insurance. In answer to the question does your freedom to hold on to a few pennies outweigh the value of a life, libertarians answered, death.
Yet political libertarianism is not much of a guide to real-world politics. Modern history has shown that activist democratic governments, ones that provide public goods and help for the poor, do not really threaten liberty. In Scandinavia, for example, where the governments are much more activist than in the United States, democracy is very vibrant and far less corrupt than in the U.S. In fact, by keeping mega-income under control, the Scandinavian countries have avoided the kind of plutocracy — government by the rich — that has engulfed Washington.
The candidate’s comments reflect a race-tinged framing strategy that appeals not only to a base of conservatives but other white voters as well. First, Gingrich implies by his comments that Americans receiving food stamps are unemployed, playing on a common misperception held by voters. The reality is that many food stamp recipients are low wage workers. The great majority of low wage jobs lack benefits such as health insurance or retirement accounts and provide little or no chance for career advancement.
Second, Gingrich’s comments reflect a race-related strategy that echoes those used by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and Gingrich himself in advocating for welfare reform in the 1990s. As South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, who is black, told NPR yesterday, it is no longer the “welfare queen,” a line oft-touted by Reagan, but “king of the food stamps.” As he noted: “I guess a lot of people see it as, if Ronald Reagan can do it and be so lionized by conservatives, then I ought to be able to do it.”
During the 1990s, there was a significant amount of research conducted in political science, communication, and sociology on the factors that shape public opinion and media coverage of poverty-related issues such as food stamps. While this past research mainly focused on attitudes or news coverage specifically about welfare reform, multiple strands of evidence demonstrate that the same general principles still apply today, despite changes in the political and media environment.
This is part of a very long and wonky piece that includes history, social science , statistics and charts. Gingrich plays to some base beliefs held by some people who seem impenetrable to facts and reason. Even if we kept the argument to value based ethics and public policy, you come out with people who recent someone spending some food stamps on potato chips, but have no problem with the millions Mitt Romney made off the unemployment of thousands of workers. Romney is not a producer, he and his like are the leechers who make their money from the productivity of workers. I suspect that most of the people who cheer his vulture capitalism have the same upside down view of how the economy works.
Confused about what SOPA or PIPA mean to you? Twenty years in prison for not deleting a post fast enough?
Bluebird animation based on Charles Bukowski’s poem
by Charles Bukowski
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pur whiskey on him and inhale
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
From what I know about Bukowski he could be cruel and shallow. At least he seemed to know that. Why he chose not to change is a mystery.