1 Point Values Platform [DRAFT]
[Leaving this sticky because I'd really like some feedback on lets's methodology. Feeling a little bit like Sisyphus here.... --lambert]
[Previous version: X Things To Help Us Avoid Breaking Bad [PRE-DRAFT] --lambert]
Er, "values"? Should I not have asked what I mean by values? Other than "not breaking bad"? In case there are any moral philosophers in the readership, I'll quote the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
The term “value theory” is used in at least three different ways in philosophy. In its broadest sense, “value theory” is a catch-all label used to encompass all branches of moral philosophy, social and political philosophy, aesthetics, and sometimes feminist philosophy and the philosophy of religion — whatever areas of philosophy are deemed to encompass some “evaluative” aspect. In its narrowest sense, “value theory” is used for a relatively narrow area of normative ethical theory particularly, but not exclusively, of concern to consequentialists. In this narrow sense, “value theory” is roughly synonymous with “axiology”. Axiology can be thought of as primarily concerned with classifying what things are good, and how good they are. For instance, a traditional question of axiology concerns whether the objects of value are subjective psychological states, or objective states of the world.
So, "What is good?" and/or "What do we mean when we say 'This is good'"? (If you're not a moral philosopher, but a marketer, or a self-marketer, here's a handy list of 400 value words.) Assuming that answers to these questions are circumscribed by subject matter, we're seeking the answer to/meaning of "What is good?" within the scope of political economy,* our quest to create a living system that at the very least isn't degrading to inhabit. This quest is important for at least two reasons, one tactical, the other strategic.
Tactically, it's important to recognize that the neo-liberal ascendancy dating from approximately 1975 has dominated, and still dominates, values discourse in the political class and hence the country. We call these values "conservative," but they are shared across the spectrum in the Beltway, as well as by "values voters." Positively, the political class upholds "family values" (latest), and it's no coincidence that "family values" translates in practice into "aristocracy," the ideal social order of reaction.** Negatively, the political class defines more "the not good" than "the good," and the "not good" seems to have a lot to do with sex (which seems also to have become the central concern of religion, but never mind that). Sexy time is doubleplusungood, for example, especially when practiced by women, men without power, the working class, the young, the old, and everywhere outside marriage, because family. (The one demographic for whom this discourse seems to be changing is with gays, especially since gay marriage fits neatly into "family values" moralizing.) It's no surprise the left doesn't get anywhere if all it offers is a pale imitation of values that are designed to destroy it! And since "you can't beat something with nothing," we'd better have something beat "family values" with. It's noteworthy that decrepit and horrid as "family values" discourse has become, Democrats, let alone "progressives," haven't been able to replace it with anything.***
Strategically, our**** goal is to enact, and derive the concrete material benefits from, the 12-point platform. This campaign, whose success depends on building infrastructure (public goods?) as described in the X-Point Structural Thingummies (conditions? reforms?), will be long and difficult (though not dull). We can foresee that the Thingummies, and possibly even the Platform itself, will need to be adjusted. But what will govern the changes? That's where values come in (as opposed to the vacuous "pragmatism" of career "progressives.") So far, I've come up with one, and I think that's fine (and surely 12 values would be too many!) Rewording slightly from the pre-draft:
- Preserve and Expand The Commons.
I've tried to embody all other values -- justice and social justice, say -- in policies that bring concrete material benefits, or reforms that cut across and support policies. So here we have basically the Ninth Amendment, that we can use to handle any residual policies or implementation details -- or to force changes in policies or reforms after encounters with real electorates.
Finally, there's been some discussion about whether "Preserve and Expand The Commons" is a value or a policy. I think it really is a value, because policies provide concrete material benefits (like medical care, or food that isn't poisonous). "Preserve and Expand The Commons" does not do that.
When I think of why "Preserve and Expand The Commons" is good, I think back to David Graeber's idea of the communism of everyday life: For example, we live (or hope to live) in a society where, when you ask somebody "How do I get to the Post Office," it's not the norm that you are deliberately misdirected, or decoyed into a poker game where you are the pigeon, or shot for your temerity. No, your question is answered, because it's general "common knowledge" that should be shared. Analytically sloppy though this association of ideas is, I think that's what we mean by "the commons" as a value. (This is probably also linked to the concept "Don't be an asshole," as exemplified by the behavior of assholes in a quiet car; in that context, quiet is a commons.) We might also look at strategic hate management as a commons violation, because of the way it pollutes common meanings. For example, Thai politics are color-coded, so if you wear red or yellow or white or blue it means something. Whatever happened to just wearing red or blue because it was becoming?
Anyhow, needs a lot of work! I like to think of myself as a stylist, but these posts are not coming easily.
NOTE * Values like "Do unto others" have a much broader scope.
NOTE ** The Kennedys, The Bushes, probably The Clintons....
NOTE *** I'm not saying that left/progressive/liberals are people with no values, or amoral. I am saying they haven't overthrown the "family values" notion of "the good" with a better alternative ("better," in this context, meaning values that will lead to the concrete material benefits of the 12-Point Platform). Sure, there are endless reams of books and speeches and conferences and memos out there, but can you remember any of it? I can't. It's all forgettable mush, on the order of "It takes a village." Perhaps, on this point, Democrats are not able to differentiate themselves from Republicans because they aren't all that different.
NOTE **** Reflexively, I define "we" as "those who support the 12 Point Platform, the X-Point Structural Thingummies, and the 1 Point Values Platform." "We" can support more, but this is the indivisible baseline. Not that fellow travelers can't support their own bits, if they like.
UPDATE Adding, and still whining about how hard this is to write, the discourse of "values voters" is so repellent to me I can hardly bring myself to write about it; I should be more compassionate and analytical, because maybe my feelings of repugance mean the strategic hate management is working. Or read... What, readers? And how could I possibly have written "indivisible baseline"? What's wrong with me?