24 June 2006

On the "Fabric of Reality"

Note from the LuapHacim, 11/14/2012: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect my current beliefs and convictions. Even if they do, I would almost certainly express them in different words today. Time changes people, and I am not exempt. Nonetheless, because of its historical value, I will not modify or remove this post. It tells you (and me) something important about where I've been. Read on at your own peril.

In the ongoing "debate" between EB and everyone's favorite "commentator", I'm noticing an interesting fundamental difference between Vox's crowd and EB's. It comes out especially in a comment on the post I link to above:
BWAHAHAHAHA!! I love how the typical liberal solution requires massive changes in the fabric of reality to be effective. Yea, that's the stuff!
This is in response to EB's quite reasonable claim, "A solution for slavery starts by building a world where bigotry, intolerance, and hatred aren't acceptable." The fundamental difference I see here is that liberal-minded folks tend to think of the world (and people's behavior) as being more or less malleable, whereas most conservatives conceptualize a world where things (and people's behavior) are essential and do not change.

This is the thinking behind racism, sexism, and blocks to social progress. Conservatives tend to say, "the world will not change, no matter how much you try to make it change." Liberals tend to respond with action (e.g., the Abolition Civil Rights, or Women's Suffrage movements), and conservatives then incorporate the results into their essentialist view of the world.

Perhaps there are social and cultural elements that are ao firmly entrenched as to seem absolutely immutable, but they ultimately are, as the brilliant poster quoted above implied, fabricated. And no matter what one wishes to think about the nature of the world, the structure of society seems to be capable of being changed by repeated, focused actions performed by a critical mass of people.

But these changes are not in the fabric of "reality"; they are within the realm of human influence. And all things that fall within that realm can be -- to some extent, anyway -- changed if enough people want them to. This is why, I, someone who believes that all humans are selfish and willful, can also believe in the real potential of changing the world around me for the better.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Interesting point. I don't think you need to believe that people won't be selfish in order to see the world change (not that you indicated you did) but much of what we ascribe to "human nature" somehow turns out to be malleable because it was, in fact, societal.

At any rate, it seems to me that it is better to align oneself with a way of thinking that works for change than to sit around criticizing that change. If nothing else, I'd like to save that until I'm old and comfortably on my front porch, shaking my fists at kids who freighten and confuse me. =)

Unknown said...

hmm. I tend to believe that man is essentially the same as he was two thousand years ago. Then again, I only think that because history simply records the same power grabs and cruelty over and over again. Can change be accomplished? Yes, but only through self-interest. Ironically, the best way to preach social change is either on the grounds of religion- i.e. ethics handed down by higher authority and seeking to please that god by doing things to please him/her, financial interests i.e. this will bring me more money, or increased power, i.e. this will make me one of the elite or make everyone equal (this usually only appeals to the ones who feel subjugated, or the last method shown to work- violence- change because I will hurt/kill you otherwise. Since religion tends to be despicable to the progressive movement, along with capitalism (the financial method) you are left with socialism's empty power sharing promises or violence.. Am I forgetting a proven method of change? Enlighten me. :)

luaphacim said...

I think the problem is that progressivism is despicable to many Christian groups rather than vice versa. Jesus seems to have been a fairly progressive person, what with talking to Samaritan women and advocating the giving of one's extra cloak to the one who has need and all. So the difficulty, in my mind, is actually one of religious people failing to follow Jesus's progressive example rather than progressives failing to see religion as a solution.

(Interesting side note: Historically, religion -- and, particularly, Western incarnations of Christianity -- has been associated for nearly two thousand years with the things you speak of so disdainfully: increased power, more wealth, and violent means of enforcing social domination. So maybe some would argue that these things are responsible for Christianity's virtual monopoly in western culture for the past couple millennia?)

Unknown said...

so.. you point out that Christianity as an organized religion has used the methods of change that I listed.. I'll grant you that, but repeat my question... what other methods are there?