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Incivility In Pursuit Of Justice Is No Vice, Civility In Pursuit Of Injustice Is No Virtue
Alan Brooks   Aug 20, 2012   Ethical Technology  

On the Web, promoting civility is do-able. Offline, in my opinion, this is much more problematic.

Online, the best thing to do, in my opinion, is have IEET remain a Buddhist Right Speech site, BUT IEET should take Joern Pallensen’s and Giulio Prisco’s suggestion to allow internet diversity by promoting sites where anyone can write what they want, because when people get exercised, they say what they mean.

Offline, in the meatworld, civility becomes problematic. The religious for instance are as a rule very civil, however their insincerity (IMHO) negates the real benefits of their piety. However, the religious do comfort and provide charity to millions, perhaps billions.

On the other hand, politicians are merely being themselves. Politicians are by the nature of politics, in fact by their very nature, insincere. As law professor John O. McGinnis wrote in the the National Review:
 

“in a democracy citizens are rationally ignorant of most political issues; that is, they know perhaps subconsciously, that their individual votes are so unlikely to influence elections that it simply does not pay to follow the twists and turns of public debate. Politicians have a scope for deception proportionate to this ignorance. A commanding presence, a compassionate demeanor, and rhetorical virtuosity are evolutionarily designed mechanisms that fool the inattentive.”

 
So much for civil politicians, their civility is used car salesmen civility. 

I’m going to discuss America here, because not only is it the only nation I know well, but also to discuss the world as a whole pushes generalities into the realm of globaloney; plus criticism begins in the home country, before we criticize other nations we ought to criticize our own (such is not to denigrate America, yet the America-First worldview of the 20th century no longer succeeds in a world of WMD proliferation).
 
When English colonists immigrated to New England in the 17th century, they brought with them the philosophies and ideologies of Europe, and from the 1650s onward they carried to America experience gained from the English Civil War and the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688. Before, during, and after the American Revolution of 1775 to 1783, America hammered out a step up in governance from the Europe of warring monarchs and their shifting empires, however it wasn’t much of a step up. The U.S. Constitution is no Buddhist document, it isn’t even Christian; the Constitution is an unsentimental instrument facilitating, for starters, “as many factions as possible” advised in the Federalist Papers. Scarcely the best way to advocate civility.
 
So the American Constitution is over-celebrated in making a virtue out of necessity. The point of this piece is, as injustice still exists and will continue to exist it is unrealistic to expect civility to reign in the meatworld; in the world outside the Web civility is often merely diplomacy, and diplomacy is at least partly (often exclusively) to trick others. A country’s official diplomat is by definition someone who attempts to influence other nations to the benefit of his nation but not necessarily to the benefit of other nations. An extension, shall we say, of ‘my country right or wrong’. Not at all conducive to civility, but rather to war and international acrimony: civility in the meatworld is superficial.
 
It goes without saying we have to, and most of us of a technoprogressive inclination do, attempt to minimize incivility; however can we expect the homeless to dance out of their sleeping bags each morning to sing “Oh What A Beautiful Morning”? No, if they aren’t masochists they are going to be grumpy.

Can we expect slum-dwellers to walk the sidewalks singing the Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood TV program theme song, “It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”?

No.
 
To put it simply, the Social Contract is that the poor and middle class behave, while the upper crust sets a good example by not becoming excessively corrupt and self-absorbed. Of course, the theory of the Social Contract is not synonymous with the reality, corruption is trickle-down therefore civility can be a veneer covering he fury at the bottom of society, and the indifference at the top. Sometimes the people at the top just don’t know what is going on, as they are in a position where they don’t feel the heat as those lower down do. 
  
Naturally, civility transcends class, many at the top are uncivil because no one is there to rebuke them—they are used to having their own way. But the bottom of society is where the great fury and thus great incivility, is. Civility does have to be inculcated albeit a realistic expectation of civility; we cannot expect people, especially people under great pressure, to behave as ‘bots—which is what it would take to be genuinely civil in an uncivilized world.  
 
A coda to my last piece on racism, prisons, and the ‘60s:
If blacks had relied solely on MLK way back when, they would have had their status raised, yet it would have taken longer; by combining MLK’s activism with the uncivil threats of militants, the civil rights process was accelerated. 


Alan Brooks
Alan Brooks was born in 1956, discovered futurism in 1976, and transhumanism in 1989.



COMMENTS

Solid points. If nothing else, we anarchists add that ominous threat to reformist campaigns. (We aim for much more.)

This link is to an article on Donald Trump—a perfect example of someone at the top who says foolish things not because he is a fool but because he has no one to adequately correct him:

http://shine.yahoo.com/work-money/donald-trump-dumbest-things-hes-said-women-192600474.html

...btw, one might counter that since Donald Trump says foolish things (George F. Will called Trump a “bloviating ignoramus”) he is a fool, however he is very wealthy and if he sometimes is deemed foolish for what he says—not his actions—it’s comparable to Liberace announcing criticism of his music resulted in him “crying all the way to the bank.”
No matter what anyone says, it is universally thought to be better to be a wealthy ignoramus than a starving wizard.

...Trumps est. worth is circa $4- 7 billion, we should all be so foolish as to be worth billions of dollars! The relevancy to this piece is: a Sovereign Individual such as Trump is almost certainly uncivil not because he is naturally that way, but because he has no one brave enough to say,

“Donald, you need to think this over- what you are saying in public is better left unsaid.”

Another possibility—and another factor in assessing incivility—is that Trump may be uncivil in seeking publicity.



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