Will

How should I deal with political discussion? (Daoist perspective)

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10 hours ago, Will said:

I wonder if a good Daoist case could be made for voting purely based on self-interest.

 

On the ballot paper I often add my own tick box with the line ‘none of the above’ and tick that... or sometimes tick another one... not sure either could be counted as a vote though :)

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For me a political take with springboard in Daoist thought and ethic results as a utalitarian one, often with a strong leaning toward liberty oriented socialism or (a socially conscious and respectfully organized form of) anarchism: frugality in resource use, fairness and charitable orientation towards the people, the leading should be humble, disinterested and with the sustainability of a simple and fulfilling life where norms consist of openness, healthy skepticism, contributing and enjoying a freedom to organize collectively and individually as is fitting the situation. Equality, human rights, freedom from persecution and freedom of thought and speech are pretty big for me, as well as public benefit such as schools, infrastructure, healthcare and respect.

 

ZZ and DDJ advise wisely on political matters, leading and abstract doctrine i think.

 

I seldom discuss politics even if (and because of) my strong feelings for it. I can become so angry and distraught from discussing politics when ideology gets in the way of allowing individuals to be themselves without fear or repression and to enjoy the possibility of not having to struggle unnecessarily with what are basic requirements of survival. Why the anger? Because it infuriates me when someone tries to argue political logic or rethoric and simultaneously disrespecting the core rights of fellow human beings without realizing it. Thats what ideology does when its importance is inflated over the wellbeing of human beings and it’s so easy for a comfortable person to talk about broken eggs, justified inequality and other imbecillic formulations in defense of injustice and oppression.

 

Most people i know consider me to hold no political passion, knowledge or insight because i rarely speak my mind unless someone isn’t already saying what i consider important. If my conversational partners werent so busy speaking and representing they would hear where i speak from but ploitical conversation is seldom a listening exercise as much as it is a testing, prodding and sharpening of battle skills. Or as i call it: a waste of friggin time.

 

Often i piss people off by arguing details in definitions and asking about the implications of their words, nuancing and exploring. Most people want to talk points and importance, repeat their belief and touch base with others to see where they stand, which i think is ludicrous: we know whats important and trying to tie others together by discussion and simple reasoning would be far more productive in my opinion, so often i end up being the mediator between two people who argue because of their inability to listen.

 

I think deprogramming of self and taking stock of what is important to ones own nature before anything else.

Acting justly based on ones own principles and standars in daily situations, treating others like you wish society would treat them and generally not pandering or proselytizing while doing it. Genuine meetings before plugs.

 

As how to stay out of the drama it is simple: keep your silence until you know if its a political discussion or an excuse to vent frustration, anxiety and fear. Unless others are willing to take a step back and consider things from more than the perspective of their own favourite opinions and why they are right, you take two steps back and let the bickering run its course, it has purpose for them but for you it will not be beneficial at all, only draining. Conflict is good, it is part of a harmonizing process and it keeps the dynamic from stagnating.

 

Observe the yin and yang, figure out your political dao and follow it body, heart and mind. Or dont bother. Thats my opinion :)

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6 hours ago, Rocky Lionmouth said:

I seldom discuss politics even if (and because of) my strong feelings for it.

 

I understand, empathize and sympathize. I cannot become involved in political discussions because i get too easily riled up. So, I mostly avoid them. I don't want to get wrapped around the axle with staking out position, taking a defiant stand and participating in the name-calling, demonization of others and general ugliness.

 

For me, it all boils down to how best to promote an environment where people can live out their basic purposes of life and be satisfied and happy. I think the best way is to embrace all the Daoist qualities that you point out.

 

Thanks, RL

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Posted (edited)
On 3/31/2019 at 3:34 AM, Rocky Lionmouth said:

As how to stay out of the drama it is simple: keep your silence until you know if its a political discussion or an excuse to vent frustration, anxiety and fear. Unless others are willing to take a step back and consider things from more than the perspective of their own favourite opinions and why they are right, you take two steps back and let the bickering run its course, it has purpose for them but for you it will not be beneficial at all, only draining. 

 

This is a good point. :) As you say, there may be a difference between genuine, open-minded exchanges and closed-minded polemics. 

 

I think for me the thing that can be trickiest is when I'm in a situation where my peers are almost exclusively (sometimes literally exclusively!) taking one political position on some issue. I tend to become very frustrated whenever that happens (no matter what the specific topic is), and I feel an urge to respond (somehow my nature is to feel frustrated when I feel like others are "piling on" some person or group and not giving their side fair consideration). But normally I stay silent because I don't want to be stigmatized for holding a different view. 

Edited by Will
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Posted (edited)

I opted out of voting a while ago, but recently registered again because I don't want to come across as "apathetic" or "irresponsible"

 

The thing is, I feel awkward, because I cannot possibly vote for any of these parties!! I'm in England (so Brexit is apparently a big deal) I dunno what the hell to do.

 

I always thought it was a bit of a cheek, anyway. It still feels a little fascist to be peer-pressured or guilt tripped into voting when there's nothing all that better on the table.

Edited by Rara
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On 27/03/2019 at 10:04 AM, wandelaar said:

I mostly agree with Taoist scepticism about politics, but not completely. If we value democracy (and I do) than we cannot do without some involvement with politics, political discussions, and elections. There are fanatics on all sides (right, left, religious) who would love to force their country or even the whole world to follow their ideals and to take down the "cumbersome" system of democracy as a perceived unnecessary obstacle to "doing the one right thing". So I see participating in some measure of political activity for us all as a necessary evil to avoid the much worse situation that some form of dictatorship would take over.

 

I might drag myself to the polling station to pick "the least worst", then just shut up and forget about it.

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4 minutes ago, Rara said:

I might drag myself to the polling station to pick "the least worst", then just shut up and forget about it.

 

Picking "the least worst" is in fact the best thing you could do. :)

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18 hours ago, Will said:

 

This is a good point. :) As you say, there may be a difference between genuine, open-minded exchanges and closed-minded polemics. 

 

I think for me the thing that can be trickiest is when I'm in a situation where my peers are almost exclusively (sometimes literally exclusively!) taking one political position on some issue. I tend to become very frustrated whenever that happens (no matter what the specific topic is), and I feel an urge to respond (somehow my nature is to feel frustrated when I feel like others are "piling on" some person or group and not giving their side fair consideration). But normally I stay silent because I don't want to be stigmatized for holding a different view. 

 

Sounds pretty ugly to be honest, bit of a macho group behavior if it’s either shut up or put down.

I recognize the behavior though, seems that sort of stuff happens everywhere and as per usual those that scream the loudest gain attention and so there’s a positive feedback loop for them.

Also there is a strong collective bond in always agreeing and i guess a superficial acknowledgement and false security?

Lets not forget the promising allure and the treacherous fragility of Easy, Clear Answers About What Is Right, people seem to love those even if they end up diggin holes where they stand... :)

 

Staying silent can be very frustrating also. If your group is one you intend to hold on to i’d advise being ahead of political reinforcement sessions and instead open up discussions wider by starting them. See what happens, you’d not be speaking against, you’d be inviting them to join and debate. It takes time for people to change but with perseverance they’ll trust eachother soon enough. Right now they identify with their opinions and reasoning, thats a tough one to break out of.

Try it and practice shutting those discussions out and doing a breathing exercise or something inward when they start echoing.

But do not be afraid to speak up if they often pile on to someone, especially if it ends up being the same people time after time, or perhaps lead by example?

 

Idk if it helps but there’s a lot of advice you didn’t ask for, sorry mate :)

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On 3/26/2019 at 9:08 PM, Will said:

What thoughts do people here have about how to deal with political discussions at high school and at home? (asking as a quasi-Daoist)

 

This is something I've struggled with recently. Sometimes I stay silent due to fear of judgement. Other times I speak up but later regret it (not because I said anything particularly bad but because I inherently am averse to disagreement and like to be on good terms with everyone at my high school). 

 

I very much enjoy legal writing and studying the law, which often necessarily becomes at least somewhat political. 

 

On the other hand, my Daoist intuitions strongly tell me that I probably shouldn't be very involved in politics.

 

You either see it or your don't. If you are still interested in law and politics, you don't see it (completely) yet. Be aware of yourself and others while you have these conversations. That is all that needs to be done. But if you fake it and do not have them you will never see it. I hope you see how stupid it all is!

 

Politics and law, they are superficial, just a couple of the ten thousand things. People ask me about politics, and I tell them I do not vote. So the conversation goes deeper, because I am speaking of deeper things, but only if the person is deep enough. Otherwise they tell me I am part of the problem! Ha!

 

DDC - Chapter 29

Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.

The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.

If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.

 

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9 hours ago, Song of the Dao said:

Politics and law, they are superficial, just a couple of the ten thousand things. People ask me about politics, and I tell them I do not vote. So the conversation goes deeper, because I am speaking of deeper things, but only if the person is deep enough. Otherwise they tell me I am part of the problem! Ha!

 

Yes, you are part of the problem. I often wonder whether those people who proudly declare that they don't vote really don't bother about politics and wouldn't care whether they live in a (relatively) democratic society or not. But if you really don't care in what kind of society you live then your position is indeed consistent.

 

However Lau tzu did care about politics and a large part of the Tao Te Ching is about politics.

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Political conversations are like conversations about sports. When a person is not an athlete they could still work in the sports industry. Anyone can be a politician that has been proven by the current US president.There are no requirements in politics to make the team or not.  

 

People love to be spectators because they have no responsibility. If someone does not vote there is nothing wrong with that. if voting could change the system the system would be changed. If someone votes there is nothing wrong with that they believe they make a difference and we get to keep the system because it appears to be working.

 

 

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No they are not - conversations about sports are optional and socially irrelevant. The difference is that a democracy without voters couldn't exist, where a democracy where everyone votes could very well exist. So the (pseudo-spiritual and/or irresponsible) mentality of not even taking the minimal trouble to bring out a vote once in a while will wreck the democratic systems of the western world if it becomes even more widespread.

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2 hours ago, wandelaar said:

 

Yes, you are part of the problem. I often wonder whether those people who proudly declare that they don't vote really don't bother about politics and wouldn't care whether they live in a (relatively) democratic society or not. But if you really don't care in what kind of society you live then your position is indeed consistent.

 

However Lau tzu did care about politics and a large part of the Tao Te Ching is about politics.

 

You think I am part of the problem only because you think you are part of the solution.

 

Did not not even read past chapter 2 of the DDC?
 

Quote

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

 

And Lao Tzu never heard of Democracy, so while he had advice for politicians, his view on voting are at best only able to be assumed.

I do not want to live in a democratic republic, I would rather be wild and free, maybe Libertarian Socialist. I guess I could have voted for one of the two capitalist war mongers in the last election.

And as far as "caring" what kind of society I live in? Lao Tzu has more to say:
 

Quote

Heaven and Earth are impartial;
They see the ten thousand things as straw dogs.
The wise are impartial;
They see the people as straw dogs.

 

Maybe you should put me in prison for not voting!

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22 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

No they are not - conversations about sports are optional and socially irrelevant. The difference is that a democracy without voters couldn't exist, where a democracy where everyone votes could very well exist. So the (pseudo-spiritual and/or irresponsible) mentality of not even taking the minimal trouble to bring out a vote once in a while will wreck the democratic systems of the western world if it becomes even more widespread.

 

Maybe I do not care about "the democratic systems".
 

Quote

Whoever relies on the Tao in governing men
doesn’t try to force issues
or defeat enemies by force of arms.
For every force there is a counterforce.
Violence, even well intentioned,
always rebounds upon oneself.

The Master does his job
and then stops.

He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
he doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
he doesn’t need others’ approval.
Because he accepts himself,
the whole world accepts him.

 

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52 minutes ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

Political conversations are like conversations about sports. When a person is not an athlete they could still work in the sports industry. Anyone can be a politician that has been proven by the current US president.There are no requirements in politics to make the team or not.  

 

People love to be spectators because they have no responsibility. If someone does not vote there is nothing wrong with that. if voting could change the system the system would be changed. If someone votes there is nothing wrong with that they believe they make a difference and we get to keep the system because it appears to be working.

 

 

"Believe" and "appear" are the operative words. ;)

I think the incentive to abstain is more a matter of not believing the system is working as it should .

Ex: I drive to work , and everyone is 'speeding' . if the system really worked , then the accepted speed would be in line with the majority of drivers desire to go a bit faster, or they could redesign the roads to accommodate.

Instead , someone imposes a speed limit and suppresses speeds. 

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@ Song of the Dao

 

You will be put in jail after the democratic system collapses. Anarchism is very beautiful in theory, but it doesn't work. The power vacuum will quickly be filled up by criminals and war lords. And once that happens there the will be a call for a strongmen to restore law and order. After that all free spirits like yourself will either have to shut up, or will be put in jail or be killed.

 

It's a damn pity many people never learn anything from history...

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2 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

@ Song of the Dao

 

You will be put in jail after the democratic system collapses. Anarchism is very beautiful in theory, but it doesn't work. The power vacuum will quickly be filled up by criminals and war lords. And once that happens there the will be a call for a strongmen to restore law and order. After that all free spirits like yourself will either have to shut up, or will be put in jail or be killed.

 

It's a damn pity many people never learn anything from history...

 

Jail! That would be wonderful! Two hots and a cot! Nothing to worry about! (I wonder what would have happened to the civil rights movement if people worried about going to jail...)

 

Your understanding of Anarchism is based on propaganda and is superficial. Read this and come back with a new thread:
https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/the-anarchist-faq-editorial-collective-an-anarchist-faq-02-17
 

Oh, and just to get to know me more, I have a BA in American History. Really, I do.

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Posted (edited)

Good for you, but you should known better than.

 

And I know more about anarchism than you think. You clearly have no idea who I am. I already read Kropotkin, Bakoenin, etc. when I was young. And I liked it very much. But I know better now from watching and studying the real world, and not because of any propaganda. 

 

But I know these kind of discussions will lead nowhere, and I will stop following this topic from now on. I have done my part.

 

Edited by wandelaar

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2 hours ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

There are no requirements in politics to make the team or not.

Incorrect.

 

Money and lots of it. The common person has no chance. Just the elites, just the elites.

 

2 hours ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

Political conversations are like conversations about sports.

 

Yes and the corrupt members of Congress primarily act as a if it was their job to provide entertainment for the ignorant masses,  rooting for their side in a sports event and accomplish little other than trying to win against the other side, or at the very least prevent them from getting their way or score a victory.

 

2 hours ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

People love to be spectators because they have no responsibility. If someone does not vote there is nothing wrong with that. if voting could change the system the system would be changed. If someone votes there is nothing wrong with that they believe they make a difference and we get to keep the system because it appears to be working.

Exactly.

 

The system works because what is seen is a show for the masses. Just  show, and voting the illusion of some control.

 

Those running the show have been doing so since before any of us were born and it will continue once we are no more.

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

People love to be spectators because they have no responsibility. If someone does not vote there is nothing wrong with that. if voting could change the system the system would be changed.

 

Along with the right to vote comes the right not to vote. But it is not just a question of voting or not. It is a question of participation in the democratic process. Voting or not, in and of itself, does not make you a good participant. To follow the sports analogy,  just because you went out does not make you a good player.

 

2 hours ago, Wu Ming Jen said:

Anyone can be a politician ...

 

... and anyone can be a voter.

 

What would it take to make a good politician ... or a good voter? I am often intrigued by the notion of the ancient Chinese process of civil examination. I know, this is a Daoism thread not Confucian. Still, would a democratic country be better served if there was an educational requirement for office woven into the democratic process. I know someone will jump up and say that anyone can be elected is a fundamental part of democracy.  But there are more than just a few examples of politicians who have done disservice to the institution by being in a position of public trust without any real training ... and performed poorly ... or adversely ... to the common good.

 

As for voters, perhaps a revised secondary education curriculum that sought to develop skills in critical thinking, social psychology and philospophy would help to evolve a more enlighten base of participation in democracy.

 

Just some random thoughts on what it takes to make a healthy democracy.

 

 

Edited by OldDog
Grammar error
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6 minutes ago, OldDog said:

Just some random thoughts on what it takes to make a healthy democracy.

 

I will only ask, what kind of Democracy? Democratic Republic? Socialist Democracy? Direct Democracy? Is Democracy itself even a thing we should be fighting to keep?

 

The Dao does not ask for your vote and yet it is not cruel or kind; you are all straw dogs. It is the kindest authoritarian expressing a love difficult to understand.

 

Water flows based on the topography, that is why I let others vote, and I flow over that topography. I follow Heaven and I have no worries, no stress.

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Posted (edited)

People should just stop using the word democracy, because nearly every time its used, its misused.

 

A taoist would understand that an entrenched, unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy that can utilize the state's services to further their own whims and goals is a threat to ANY form of governing....unless of course you're shooting to have the government and security services from V for Vendetta, aka where the deep state traitor network was taking the planet...

Edited by joeblast
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On 4/2/2019 at 11:46 AM, Rara said:

I opted out of voting a while ago, but recently registered again because I don't want to come across as "apathetic" or "irresponsible"

 

The thing is, I feel awkward, because I cannot possibly vote for any of these parties!! I'm in England (so Brexit is apparently a big deal) I dunno what the hell to do.

 

I always thought it was a bit of a cheek, anyway. It still feels a little fascist to be peer-pressured or guilt tripped into voting when there's nothing all that better on the table.

 

While this is clearly about American politics, I believe some interesting and provocative thoughts are presented.

 

 

 

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