The Arrogance Divide & The Common Good

Cultural Intelligence
John Steiner

Below is an article from the Boston Globe that inspired interesting comments.  Two of them are offered below the line for consideration.

The arrogance divide

Why can’t liberals capture the populist moment?

By Neal Gabler Boston Globe, February 22, 2011

A RECENT essay in Boston Review by historian William Hogeland pondered a perplexing political question: Why haven’t populists and liberals been able to make common cause? They seem like natural allies. They both rail against economic inequality. They both are skeptical of America’s financial masters of the universe. They both believe that government has an obligation to help the country’s working men and women. They are both angry about the direction the country has been taking.  Read more…

First observation (Lorraine Kirk):

Then, knowing that populists and liberals often embody similar needs and goals, we can see the need for public figures out there (as news commentators and as candidates) whose communication style and values resonate with Tea-partiers, but whose agendas resonate with liberals as well. Then there would be common ground for populists and liberals to move together in the same direction, rather than seeing themselves in opposition.

So please consider the possibility that we could groom a number left-leaning, charismatic people  (selected for having a redneck-like communication style, values, and perhaps religion and background) to become NEWS COMMENTATORS and CANDIDATES.

Second observation (Terry Mollner):

I have an idea. The extreme right libertarians want raw individual freedom; the far left wants us to care about the common good by having the government attend to it. How about we unite forces based on building on individual
freedom, the libertarians will be happy, and do it in the private sector through free association and the building of consumer loyalty to our cause instead of primarily through government action? On this basis we should be able to unite.

John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods, told me over dinner a couple years ago that he was an “integral libertarian.” When asked what that meant, he spent ten minutes trying to explain it. I listened intently to find the essence in language he was searching for. I then spoke and said, “I think you are saying that your highest priority is individual freedom and when a human being reaches full maturity he or she freely chooses to give priority to the common good.” He jumped up out of his seat, through his finger at me, and said, “That is it!!!”

So lets all become “mature liberterians!” Ah, but what is maturity. Well, frankly, that is rather easy to identify.  Throughout all of history the essence of what has usually been called “moral behavior” has been defined as “freely choosing to give priority to the common good.” Immoral behavior, by default, has been defined as giving priority to anything else. It this is true, than any individual or group that gives priority to something other than the common good is immoral. Lets see, nations give priority to their citizens. Corporations give priority to their shareholders. Unions and
cooperatives give priority to their members. Non-profits and NGOs give priority to their issues. Ouch!!! We have a big problem here. However, it is quite easy and obvious how to solve it: we all continue to do as we are doing but simply put “the common good of us all” in as our highest priority.

We can’t avoid having a priority each moment. And whatever is our priority determines everything else we do. So our most important choice at all times is our priority.

I remember former President Harry Truman saying that the entire time he was growing up in Missouri he never saw anyone who lived more than fifty miles from him and he got most of this news from a newspaper. In other words, we
have the institutions we have now because they were formed in Harry’s time or earlier when communication with others much beyond our town had little effect upon us. We now live in a global village instead of Harry’s village.  But our institutions reflect Harry’s time.

But as an old man in Tamil Nadu in Southern India who had worked with Gandhi said that Gandhi said to Mao, “Your system won’t work. The next stage of human development must build on individual freedom, not take it away.”

So lets have nations, corporations, unions, cooperatives, non-profits, and NGOs publicly declare that they are now going to give priority to the common good of us all and second priority to anything else. Lets form it into a
movement, like the environmental movement, where it is based on a fundamental principle and then allow many organizations and sub-movements to emerge. The fundamental principle of the environmental movement is something
like this: “If we do not self-consciously together manage the resources of the Earth we will all die.” Anyone who studies that sentence pretty easily comes to agreement with themselves the it is true. Then, as happens when we discover anything we conclude to be true, like stoves are hot, it automatically, naturally, and effortlessly begins to become integrated into a skill, habit, and then sub-conscious part of who we are, something not in need of attention or choice anymore.

Well, how about this statement for the “common good movement”: “If we do not self-consciously together freely choose to give priority to the common good in all we do, we will all die.” Humm! Is that true? It seems to me that the increasingly easy ability to escalate the level of damage one party can inflict upon an enemy is making this pretty darn imperative the more we move into the future.

So I am pleased that John Bunzi has started “The Simultaneous Policy” as a movement of people to unite from all countries to change the environmental laws in all countries simultaneously so the first movement does not lose
advantage in the marketplace. We need more movements like this in support of our “Common Good Movement” in our global village.