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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Progressive Republic and the Ethics of Integrity

To further discuss my proposal for a Progressive Republic Party (PRP), as one vehicle to achieve my vision for a Progressive Republic (PR) (see last blog) built on a combination of libertarian, social democratic, and conservative republican principles, each in their own realm of culture, economy, and politics, I inquire what is the ethical foundation of the PR and the strategies to achieve it.

I am sure you are surprised that I advance my theory of the Ethics of Integrity (EI), outlined earlier in this blog series, as the ethical foundation of the PR and the PRP. How so?

You remember I hope that EI arises from the nature and existence of humanity and especially its special and peculiar capacity to deal with (adapt, know, act in) its environment through ever-complexifying symbolic forms, e.g. metaphors, analogies, images. It is in this fundamental capacity of our nature/existence that we analyze at least four characteristic and universal dimensions, which I shall call the axes of human existence.  Like a diamond, each axis cuts across the others to form the whole. Like a wagon wheel, each axis pushes out to the outer rim; but all are held together at the center hub.

Axis 1: inner and outer space; interiority and exteriority.  This is the axis by which the more we push out to matter in the world through our symbolic forms of language, science, art, and others, the more we become present to our own awareness, consciousness, our interior life.  (I gave many examples of this and the other axes, as well as the neuroscience explanations for them, in earlier posts.)

Axis 2: past and future time; before and after. This is the axis by which, in symbolic action in our world, we inherit or remember the genes and memes that make us what we are now along with the recognition that we not only are who we are, but also will be all we can be by accepting and realizing our past. It is also the axis that propels us into the future, to surpass the memes (ideas, symbolic forms) and even perhaps the genes that we have inherited in order to become a new humanity in a new world.

Axis 3: self and other society; individuality and communality. This is the axis by which, through communication of language, mathematics, dance and other symbolic systems, we are aware of our organism projecting in space and time as a singular and unique body and consciousness. But at the same time, through symbolic behavior, we are able to interiorize other unique patterns of human existence.  We grasp that our creative, unique individuality is achieved only in interaction with other unique conscious bodies in an ever widening circle of relationships. Our "I" is inherently connected to the "you" and the "we."

Axis 4: real and ideal; the empirical and the visionary. This axis may be a sort of summary of the other three. It is the axis of our existence through which we experience in all our thought and action the the tension of existence between the real and the ideal, the world as it is and the world as it should be, we as we are and we as we could be. This is the axis of transcendence in which the dynamic character of human nature and existence is realized in all its dimensions or axes, along with its center, its point of unity or integrity.

And so, let me now talk about the relation of the three principles of libertarian society or culture, social democratic economy, and conservative republican politics and how these intersect to achieve Justice in the Progressive Republic.

The libertarian (or just "liberal" some say) Progressive Republic, with its primary value of liberty, appeals to the sense of inner space and creative individuality, often placing its ideal in an imagined past where there were no restraints or regulations (e.g. Rousseau). It pushes back on the encroachment of a mass society and its government or Leviathan. It carves out a space of privacy in which the public cannot enter.

The social democratic Progressive Republic, with its primary value of equity, appeals to the sense of other and communality, focuses on the external structures imposed on the world and society that retard the progress of all persons, often placing its ideal in the future where there will be no class or in the Pauline vision of "neither Jew nor Gentile, neither master nor slave, neither male nor female." It pushes back on rule by plutocrats and a dividing society between rich and poor.

The conservative republican Progressive Republic, with its primary value of power (e.g. capacity to act, local self-determination, vibrant communities) appeals to the sense of local community and outer space, a public as a free association not to be confused with government and its agencies, though protected by and holding accountable government, often appealing to the foundations of publics in the past. It pushes back on mass democracy or populism, rule by poll of unchallenged opinions.

Justice for the PR and the PRP is the "right ordering" of these three principles and the balance-in-tension of all the polarities and axes of human existence.  I suggest that the right order is libertarian principle for culture, social democratic for economy/ecology, and conservative republican for politics while at the same time all are subject to the no-harm mandate and holding tension among themselves--each limiting the others.

I think that the greatest impediment to the USA in becoming a just Progressive Republic is the main two national parties that are swayed by big money and by driving policies that enrich the rich and leave the poor behind. This also leads to a sense of powerlessness at the local level among people who cannot counter wealthy organizations and plutocrats who command the attention of politicians and mass media. It also promotes thoughtlessness in which so-called liberals and conservatives accept an ideology, often against their own self-interest, because they do not have the means or occasion to challenge and refine opinions based on knowledge not only of facts (which are often ideologically interpreted), but also of dominating ideas.

The remedy and the restoration of justice is multi-leveled and multi-centered with many avenues and vehicles of reform or transformation. The PRP is merely a figment in my own mind game. I do believe that real transformation (and maybe a kind of PRP itself) must come through self-legitimating local publics which act by and for the libertarian, social democratic, and conservative republican principles. Integrity is the uniting and homeostasis of these three principles with their values of liberty, equity, and power in our persons, our institutions, our communities, and our nations. Integrity is the face of justice.

PS--Am I just reaffirming my lifelong vocation of promoting community organizing? As I did when I worked for churches, for non-profit neighborhood groups, for social and urban planning organizations, for schools and universities, and for government. Yes, I am. But I hasten to say that my understanding of that vocation has changed over time with my experiences and is still developing now.

I must add that when Sarah Palin attacked community organizing and Newt Gingrich attacked Saul Alinsky as a "liberal," it demonstrated their lack of knowledge of their subjects. I realized then that Gingrich, whether or not you consider him a good politician, is no historian. Community organizing, especially as inspired by Alinsky, is based on the conservative republican principle and is focused on preservation of and agitation for local engaged communities, i.e. publics that bring the powerless into positions of influence in public life and action. Nothing is more conservative than that. And nothing more republican.

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