Thursday, January 27, 2005

Unrelated Musings

Time to blog on something not based on links and events that crop up on the day's radar. Time to smell the snow, so to speak.

I'm still pretty much snowed in and it's great fun. I have dug tunnels through the back yard for the dogs to race in, with little cul-de-sacs for toilet needs. The squirrels have their own little path shoveled from the trees to the remains of my gingerbread castle. It should be enough to keep them alive until the thaw.

That's pretty much the nice news about me. The rest of the time I stomp around furious at one thing or another, especially at politics. It's hard to discuss politics when people in fact don't have a shared language at all. Your idea of "democracy" may be very different from mine, your view of "majority" may have nothing to do with the actual numerical majority and so on.

One example of this is in the use of the word "government". As a crude oversimplification, Americans mean something very different from Europeans when they use this word. For many Americans, the government is a potentially tyrannic meanie that is after the hard-earned money of the tax-payers and has no real reason for existing in the first place. For many Europeans, at least those from the so-called old Europe, the government may be something viewed with a bit of sceptism but it's not seen as inherently different from other organizations human beings create. If governments are not to be wholly trusted, neither are large firms or large churches and so on.

This is all linked to the meaning of the word "freedom", and this is surely the one word where definitions vary all over the place. Who knows what George Bush has in mind when he talks about freedom? He appears to believe that the god of the Methodists has given it to all the people on this earth, but he has never given a Biblical reference to this promise, nor has he ever explained what he means by freedom. I suspect that he's talking about the freedom of corporations from laws and regulations, not really about the freedom of individuals from exploitation by corporations. His actions support this view more than any other view.

The plot is naturally to make the listener equate Bush's use of the word freedom with whatever the listener might deem as desirable in this respect. Then we all hear what we wish to hear and Bush goes on doing whatever he wants to do. Too bad that nobody really knows what we are talking about here.

The extreme state of freedom is anarchy, not some earthly paradise. Our freedoms are by necessity reined in by the harm we can do others. Real political solutions always require compromises between rights and obligations and between freedoms and laws. But this is all nuanced and lefty and not interesting enough for political debates.

How did I end up so preachery? Well, this is my bully pulpit, after all.