Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Lesson in Politics (Butler Shaffer)

Butler Shaffer on the true nature of politics:

Butler ShafferThe masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.
~ Gustave Le Bon

To those paying close attention, the present U.S. attorney general and secretary of state provided as good an overview of the nature of political systems as you will find. Eric Holder, Jr., declared that America is "a nation of cowards" when it came to racial matters; that we "simply do not talk enough with each other about race." That he should make such a statement just a few weeks after a black man had been sworn in as president, was all the more remarkable, albeit not surprising.

About fifty years ago, I began to give serious consideration to the question of how social conflicts are caused by the practice of dividing ourselves into mutually-exclusive groups with which we identify our sense of being. My initial introduction to this phenomenon came from reading one of James Baldwin’s books, in which he expressed the hope that he might one day walk into a room and see neither "white" nor "black" people. While I was somewhat puzzled by his comment, further inquiries led me to the writings of such men as Fritz Perls and Ludwig von Bertalanffy. It was in Perls’ work that I discovered the concept of "ego boundaries," that lie at the core of our conflicts with others. In my book, Calculated Chaos, I applied this idea in analyzing how institutions – particularly the state – depend upon such divisiveness for their well-being.

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