Friday, October 14, 2016

Keeping up appearances

...MacArthur understood that for the transition to be smooth, the imperial rule must persist. Yet, he didn’t make the customary call to the palace; instead, he waited for the emperor to make the first contact. On 27th September (1945), Hirohito finally crossed the palace moat to reach MacArthur’s headquarters...

Faillace was given one shot, but he spoke up and asked for three. Faillace also adviced MacArthur against a seated picture on a soft couch. First two photos were less than ideal — their eyes were closed in one, and the Emperor’s mouth was gaping open in the other. But even the perfect, final shot posed its own problems: at this juncture, Hirohito was still  akitsumikami or manifest deity (he would not renounce his divinity before the coming New Year’s Day), and everyone was supposed to avert eyes from the veiled imperial portraits in government buildings.

Thus, printing the photo was deemed sacrilegious, not least because of the general’s extremely casual attire and his even more pointed body language. MacArthur’s office itself had to intervene to Japanese censors to have it printed...

Outside Japan, too, the general’s informal appearance shocked many. Even Life clutched its pearls and wrote, “MacArthur did not trouble to put on a tie for the occasion”...

The general never paid a return call to the palace.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Binary brains in a multivalent world

So I was reading last week's Archdruid Report and he touched on the whole morality debate in an interesting way.

In the same way, there’s no evidence that anybody in the Constitutional Convention agonized about the ethical dimensions of the notorious provision that defined each slave as being 3/5ths of a person. I doubt the ethical side of the matter ever crossed any of their minds, because politics was not about ethics or any other expression of values—it was about interests—and the issue was simply one of finding a compromise that allowed each state to feel that its interests would be adequately represented in Congress. Values, in the thought of the time, belonged to church and to the private conscience of the individual; politics was about interests pure and simple. 

Emphasis mine.

So I would use these two concepts, interests and values, and apply them to our definition of morality as such.

Morality, at it's extremes, is a submission of interests to values. In other words, giving until it hurts.

 So, how is morality applied in our actual societies? As a weapon against our enemies of course! When you consider morality, it's a hilariously hypocritical thing that we seem to, as a species, take exact opposite perspectives on morality depending on whom we are viewing.

When we look at "Us," we see what we can do better and praise ourselves for attempting it. When we look at "Them," we see what they could do better and condemn them for not having completed it.

Doesn't it seem like our subconscious minds assign Us and Them according to our interests? Only through VERY conscious thought do we allow for the transference or dissolution of the two groups into a ranking of Us and Them according to our values.

And when you do it, you realize you are surrounded by your enemies, who can and quite reasonably will destroy you. Best to keep your head down. The last several dudes who came along and said we should all love each other in too public a way were swiftly and publicly killed. Meritocracy assumes there's no merit in smashing a geeks head in because he wants to take your stuff. Again, these values are pretty fungible.

Surviving physically is actually pretty easy. Surviving culturally is really quite hard, especially maintaining our status within our class or caste. The effort required to maintain one's place requires you to be able to do immoral things while feeling good about yourself. It's important to stay motivated, and righteousness is a mighty motivator.