Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:56 am

tobes wrote:Indrajala, politics does not equal national politics. They are not synonyms.

To be a political leader is not tantamount to being a leader of a nation-state.


My earlier post was primarily aimed at discussing things at the national level.

Politics of course can include other areas not related to the direct maintenance and survival of the nation, like civil rights and so on. In that realm Buddhist values can generally be advocated without really infringing on basic Buddhist ethics. For instance, advocating laws against animal cruelty does not presumably require any unwholesome acts on our part. Buddhist ethics are perhaps best understood at macro and micro, or multiple, levels.

But that being said, I think most common people will be unable to really foresee the long-term consequences of their collective actions even with respect to civil politics.


The Mahāyāna is universal in scope: do you not recognise the possibility for a genuine Buddhist inspired cosmopolitanism?


I doubt everyone could ever get along. Even looking at history nations heavily influenced by Mahāyāna Buddhism still went to war with each other. One prime example was the conflict between China and Goguryeo during the early Tang Dynasty:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goguryeo%E2%80%93Tang_War


Also, progress is not perpetual or irreversible. Rather than planning a utopia, better to deal with immediate conditions and try to work for the best with them.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:24 am

Malcolm wrote:You've been living the Sinosphere too long. Geography, not politics, has been the defining feature of political stability.


On what basis do you suggest this?





Historically, most political systems fail because ineptness on the part of kings and elites.


No, it is more related to resource issues and overpopulation usually. Regardless of the political system, the elites are only part of the secular cycle.
    The very stability and internal peace that strong empires impose contain within them the seeds of future chaos. Stability and internal peace bring prosperity, and prosperity causes population increase. Demographic growth leads to overpopulation, overpopulation causes lower wages, higher land rents, and falling per capita incomes for the commoners. At first, low wages and high rents bring unparalleled wealth to the upper classes, but as their numbers and appetites grow, they also begin to suffer from falling incomes. Declining standards of life breed discontent and strife. The elites turn to the state for employment and additional income, and drive up its expenditures at the same time that the tax revenues decline because of the growing misery of the population. When the state’s finances collapse, it loses the control of the army and police. Freed from all restraints, strife among the elites escalates into civil war, while the discontent among the poor explodes into popular rebellions.


Peter Turchin, War and Peace and War The Rise and Fall of Empires, 13.



Elites usually become fragmented because they become decadent.


That's only part of the puzzle. In most empires the elites early on are modest and the wealth gap between them and the commoners low. It is resource abundance over time that leads to overpopulation and elite enrichment. That alone does not fragment them however.


This is basically a recipe for a totalitarian government in this day and age.



In some places it worked out okay for a few decades. Look at how South Korea and Taiwan went from rags to riches.



The problem is with the definition of "capable". Who defines it?


There is no universal authority to dictate those terms, but situation by situation it is often evident who is really suitable for leadership.



What you actually suggesting is replacing the rule of law with the rule of persons. That's ok with me, but don't kid yourself that you are advocating anything other than a return to monarchy.


They're not mutually exclusive. A constitutional monarchy is such that you get rule of law which is derived from the authority of the crown, yet the crown is still bound by rule of law.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:47 am

reddust wrote:Why do we have to be political when working on positive changes in our world? I have a habit of asking naive questions, I am sure this is one of them. I have very little power on my own, my positive effort to help this world including myself is through refusing to buy into political ideologies, I find politics collects the worst kinds of humans at the top. Through out my time here on earth we have been at war, I have seen my politicians make promises and break them. I don't let people in my life do this why should I let my leaders do this? I refuse to buy products that are harmful to myself, community and world. This is how I vote now with my energy and intention. I don't trust any authority who says they are here to take care of me after having so many promises broken. I've done the same thing in meditation by letting go of negativity when it comes up, I don't buy into it. Is my body political too?

This subject so complicated I feel kind of foolish but, oh well I will put my thoughts out there and see what happens. I used to give my children choices, they were all my choices though. But the kids felt like they had freedom to choose. It kept them safe and under control until they figured out I was manipulating them. By that time they learned the rules of the world and could navigate correctly. I feel our leaders are doing the same to us but they are not letting us grow up and make our own choices. When someone does something wrong I get involved if I can, I've done this in Chicago and made friends with some young thugs. I was later told I could of been easily killed...now that was stupid but I couldn't stand them bumping into old folks and knocking them over. I didn't feel too political then, I felt like a mother. Plus the kids looked well cared for, I took a chance and learned a very long story about Gentrification and it's negative effects on native population. If I believed in modern psychology I would say our leaders suffer from Münchausen syndrome by proxy. I don't think politics can give us a positive answer to our problems. People get so mean when talking politics, I totally get the gist of this thread but we can't just sit by and let people get abused, used and killed. So I am still figuring it all out. I am sure that this has been happening for ever, it is samsara you know. Maybe the whole deal is that we try our best?

Politics (from Greek: politikos, meaning "of, for, or relating to citizens") is the practice and theory of influencing other people on a civic or individual level. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance — organized control over a human community, particularly a state. A variety of methods are employed in politics, which include promoting one's own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws, and exercising force, including warfare against adversaries. Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states, to the international level.

A political system is a framework which defines acceptable political methods within a given society. History of political thought can be traced back to early antiquity, with seminal works such as Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and the works of Confucius.

Modern political discourse focuses on democracy and the relationship between people and politics. It is thought of as the way we choose government officials and make decisions about public policy.


From wiki

EDIT: What is beyond politics?

:good:
I was was going to respond by simply reminding you (or telling you, if you didn't know) that "the personal is political" but then - since I'm goofing off from work right now :emb: - I looked up the origin of the phrase. Here it is - http://www.carolhanisch.org/CHwritings/PIP.html, in an essay that you might find interesting for all sorts of reasons. So might others here. :smile:

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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby reddust » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:29 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:I was was going to respond by simply reminding you (or telling you, if you didn't know) that "the personal is political" but then - since I'm goofing off from work right now :emb: - I looked up the origin of the phrase. Here it is - http://www.carolhanisch.org/CHwritings/PIP.html, in an essay that you might find interesting for all sorts of reasons. So might others here. :smile:

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Kim


I am reading the paper and taking notes. I am going to sleep on it and respond tomorrow. Just a thought, the husband has been replaced by the State. Thank for sharing a very interesting paper :namaste:
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:19 am

Tobes wrote:I agree with this definition of kusala/akusala. I do not agree with the conclusions you draw from it. In your view, there is no relation, no society, no polis, no economy, no ecology. No interdependence between particular conventional selves and these other structural things. There are just individual moral actors living in a vacuum. Such a reality does not exist anywhere I have ever been, and it is probably the deepest contrary to any Buddhist philosophy I have been acquainted with.

I am afraid I am not able to accept that line of reasoning based upon what I have said.
Kim O'Hara wrote:Can you be apolitical with wholesome volitions?

I think the answer is "no".

The answer is no, because strictly speaking not being something is not something to which you can predicate anything (e.g. see Astasahasrika Ch.1, "there exists in no–mind neither that which exists, nor that which is known, nor that which is apprehended"). Actually, Malcolm explained this very well in another thread a few days ago with reference to the Vaibhasika-Sarvastivadan model of Karma. Without endorsement for or against there is no karma, with non-action there is no karma, and non-action is different from endorsement against.
Kim O'Hara wrote: Further, I think that here on the Mahayana DW the only doctrinally acceptable answer is "no", since (as I see it) the bodhisattva ideal is diametrically opposed to walking away from suffering.
I think you mean "opposed to walking away from the suffering of others." In which case, I am not sure talking about politics is going to get you further than attaining Buddhahood.
Kim O'Hara wrote:I was was going to respond by simply reminding you (or telling you, if you didn't know) that "the personal is political"

Coming from the Buddhist perspective, taking things personally seems to be part of the problem, not the solution.

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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby muni » Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:17 am

Zhen Li wrote:I think you mean "opposed to walking away from the suffering of others." In which case, I am not sure talking about politics is going to get you further than attaining Buddhahood.


This "walking away from the suffering of others" is often a reaction to keep the gate open for the attractive worldly discussions. If we feel need for opinions about worldly ideologies/views and at the mean time calling ourselves follower of the Buddha, is with one leg hopping in the so percieved materialistic world and one leg trying to hop towards the meaning of the Buddha. Acrobatics. :smile:

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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Kim O'Hara » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:09 pm

Zhen Li wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:I was was going to respond by simply reminding you (or telling you, if you didn't know) that "the personal is political"

Coming from the Buddhist perspective, taking things personally seems to be part of the problem, not the solution.

:anjali:

"The personal is political" was addressed to Reddust with particular reference to the question of what is political and what isn't. It is a way of saying that everything we do and say has political implications, in the broader meaning of "political" as referring to the structures and habits by which societies organise themselves.
It has nothing to do with "taking things personally" so your comment was OT. It also looks like an attempt to derail the whole discussion, something you often seem inclined to do, but perhaps I'm wrong this time and you just misunderstood the idiom.

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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Rickpa » Fri Feb 28, 2014 12:56 pm

We don't walk away from suffering, but we also don't wish suffering on anyone, even if they cause much suffering. We don't campaign against people, we campaign against harm. We don't wish harm, speak with the intention to harm the person, property, or position of anyone. We speak the truth with the hope of changing the hearts and minds of those who cause harms. We rejoice in such merits as the lowest are capable of, and we make earnest effort to elevate good qualities in everyone within our sphere. Everyone is redeemable, and is not lifted up by a cudgel, but by the hooks of compassion.

In my opinion, discussion of political topics and social concerns is right speech when that speech recognizes the basic goodness of all without exception, and is compassionate without prejudice. On the other hand, engaging in politics is conflict with the intention of rewarding friends and punishing enemies. So discuss politics, but engage in helping.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:11 pm

Rickpa wrote: Everyone is redeemable, and is not lifted up by a cudgel, but by the hooks of compassion.


After living in several Asian countries, I've concluded that tough love and unforgiving justice (the cudgel approach) is often needed with populations that are prone to unruliness. If the state does not exercise such force then the real victims are innocent people.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:48 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:You've been living the Sinosphere too long. Geography, not politics, has been the defining feature of political stability.


On what basis do you suggest this?



Rome, China, India, Britain, US etc.



Historically, most political systems fail because ineptness on the part of kings and elites.


No, it is more related to resource issues and overpopulation usually. Regardless of the political system, the elites are only part of the secular cycle.


Resources generally mismanaged by "elites".

    The very stability and internal peace that strong empires impose contain within them the seeds of future chaos. Stability and internal peace bring prosperity, and prosperity causes population increase. Demographic growth leads to overpopulation, overpopulation causes lower wages, higher land rents, and falling per capita incomes for the commoners. At first, low wages and high rents bring unparalleled wealth to the upper classes, but as their numbers and appetites grow, they also begin to suffer from falling incomes. Declining standards of life breed discontent and strife. The elites turn to the state for employment and additional income, and drive up its expenditures at the same time that the tax revenues decline because of the growing misery of the population. When the state’s finances collapse, it loses the control of the army and police. Freed from all restraints, strife among the elites escalates into civil war, while the discontent among the poor explodes into popular rebellions.


Peter Turchin, War and Peace and War The Rise and Fall of Empires, 13.


Completely reinforces this point and the point below.



Elites usually become fragmented because they become decadent.


That's only part of the puzzle. In most empires the elites early on are modest and the wealth gap between them and the commoners low. It is resource abundance over time that leads to overpopulation and elite enrichment. That alone does not fragment them however.


Exactly my point, elites become more and more decadent as their power and wealth increases.


This is basically a recipe for a totalitarian government in this day and age.


In some places it worked out okay for a few decades. Look at how South Korea and Taiwan went from rags to riches.


Their economies are part of US economic resource infrastructure, as China too is now.


The problem is with the definition of "capable". Who defines it?


There is no universal authority to dictate those terms, but situation by situation it is often evident who is really suitable for leadership.


Only in hindsight, never in foresight.



What you actually suggesting is replacing the rule of law with the rule of persons. That's ok with me, but don't kid yourself that you are advocating anything other than a return to monarchy.


They're not mutually exclusive. A constitutional monarchy is such that you get rule of law which is derived from the authority of the crown, yet the crown is still bound by rule of law.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:25 pm

Malcolm wrote:Rome, China, India, Britain, US etc.


Rome, China and Britain had empires that arose along meta-ethnic frontiers. In the case of Rome, it was continual conflict with the Gauls that facilitated the development of high asabiya, i.e., social cohesion that lent itself to strong political stability until overpopulation meant inter-elite competition became problematic. In the case of Chinese dynasties the constant eternal enemies were from the northern steppes, such as the Xiongnu, Turks and so on, all of whom were basically permanent aliens and a dangerous "other". But that being said it was less about geography and more about a clash of civilizations. Chinese were settled on plains while the Xiongnu and their kin were largely nomadic horsemen. The Chinese could have just as well, and did, settle the pasture land of nomadic peoples. Likewise the Romans settled Gaul territory.



Resources generally mismanaged by "elites".


Resource distribution, unless done at gun point, tends to follow its own internal logic.


Exactly my point, elites become more and more decadent as their power and wealth increases.


This is why wise leaders of the past often suggested a return to simple living, like Marcus Aurelius for example.


Their economies are part of US economic resource infrastructure, as China too is now.


It was autocratic forms of government that elevated them from rags to riches.

India, a democracy in name, is still in rags while their competitor China is fairly well off by regional standards.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 28, 2014 4:22 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Rome, China, India, Britain, US etc.


Rome, China and Britain had empires that arose along meta-ethnic frontiers. In the case of Rome, it was continual conflict with the Gauls that facilitated the development of high asabiya, i.e., social cohesion that lent itself to strong political stability until overpopulation meant inter-elite competition became problematic. In the case of Chinese dynasties the constant eternal enemies were from the northern steppes, such as the Xiongnu, Turks and so on, all of whom were basically permanent aliens and a dangerous "other". But that being said it was less about geography and more about a clash of civilizations. Chinese were settled on plains while the Xiongnu and their kin were largely nomadic horsemen. The Chinese could have just as well, and did, settle the pasture land of nomadic peoples. Likewise the Romans settled Gaul territory.


The purpose of my example was to show positive (India, US, Britain) and negative examples (China, Rome) of how geography is a key factor in political stability.


Resource distribution, unless done at gun point, tends to follow its own internal logic.


Yes, usually becoming a pyramid scheme in which wealth concentrates more and more in the so called upper classes who prove to be too venal to do anything more than engage in more hoarding.



This is why wise leaders of the past often suggested a return to simple living, like Marcus Aurelius for example.


Romantics. It never happens. Usually such guidance is long overdue.


It was autocratic forms of government that elevated them from rags to riches.


No, it was US money that elevated them from rags to riches because they embraced US led anti-communism. Example, Cuba, Venezuela, etc., are autocratic countries excluded from US markets tend to be impoverished because the embrace communism and we won't do business with them as much as possible. Mexico however is doing quite well.

India, a democracy in name, is still in rags while their competitor China is fairly well off by regional standards.


India does not sell as much to the US as China.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Feb 28, 2014 6:52 pm

Okay, here's a question for all the budding monarchists: monarchy is a form of governance (despotic or absolutist) based on the inheritance of power due to one's membership in a certain family lineage. So let's say you have an enlightened monarch: everything rolls along sweetly, happily and peacefully. Then that monarch dies and is replaced by (for example) a Bush (senior or junior, doesn't really matter) or a Kardashian. What happens then?

A monarchist system does not guarantee that one will have an enlightened ruler. Or are you talking about an elective monarchy? Even in this case (normally) the candidate is normally chosen from a number of individuals belonging to specific family lineages.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:07 pm

Sherab Dorje wrote: Then that monarch dies and is replaced by (for example) a Bush (senior or junior, doesn't really matter) or a Kardashian. What happens then?


A monarch is only as good as his circle of power. He (or rarely she) needs to provide sufficient perks and benefits to his underlings lest they depose him or there is an uprising that does likewise. For example, Saddam might have been a terror, but he provided enough benefits to enough people so as not to be assassinated by his immediate underlings.

There are always plenty of people willing to take a crown if the king fails to rule sufficiently well, or fails to delegate decision making to his circle of power which does a satisfactory job. In the absence of strong charisma and intelligent leadership, he might become a symbolic figurehead to what basically amounts to an oligarchy in practice.


A monarchist system does not guarantee that one will have an enlightened ruler. Or are you talking about an elective monarchy? Even in this case (normally) the candidate is normally chosen from a number of individuals belonging to specific family lineages.


Democracies don't always produce decent leaders either. In fact, in a capitalist democracy inevitably the business elites convert their wealth into political power and then serve business interests above all else. This is what has happened to a lot of western countries as of late. In earlier times leaders were either aristocrats or charismatic people with little ties to the world of finance.

One advantage to a hereditary monarchy is that children are raised from birth with the skills and connections they need to run a nation. In earlier times marriage alliances were important to ensuring peace, and this could only realistically be done by aristocrats who were born into a certain social standing. Times have changed, though in the future things might revert back to earlier models. Who knows.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:41 pm

Indrajala wrote:
A monarch is only as good as his circle of power.


Āryadeva defines monarchs, in this day and age as fools. There are none more foolish, in fact.


Democracies don't always produce decent leaders either.


No, but it guarantees that an ineffective leader has a limited term. Further, governance, in a Democracy does not really depend on a figure head such as a president.


In fact, in a capitalist democracy inevitably the business elites convert their wealth into political power and then serve business interests above all else.


Its a process of give and take, right now we are in the give part of the cycle, just like a the end of the 19th century. It will shift back.

One advantage to a hereditary monarchy is that children are raised from birth with the skills and connections they need to run a nation.


There is no evidence at all in history that hereditary monarchies provide long term political stability.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:48 pm

Malcolm wrote:Āryadeva defines monarchs, in this day and age as fools. There are none more foolish, in fact.


Biting the hand that feeds you. Unwise.


No, but it guarantees that an ineffective leader has a limited term.



A monarchy has plenty of mechanisms for removing inept leaders, too. Some of them not so pleasant, but there's an incentive to lead well.


There is no evidence at all in history that hereditary monarchies provide long term political stability.


Well that depends on how you read your history.

I think the system worked fairly well in imperial China much of the time, as well as in early imperial Japan (Asuka through to Heian periods), but then their models of rule were underpinned by a kind of theology which legitimized the reign of the sovereign in supernatural terms (the mandate of heaven in China, and divine descent and sanction to rule in Japan).

Actually the development of a centralized court model with a heavy hierarchy in Japan based on Chinese models actually was prompted by fears of foreign invasion. By the late Asuka and early Nara period the system was largely in place and it worked wonders for the economy and military. It also produced a respectable nation state that could hold its own weight in international dealings. The Cambridge History of Japan Volume 1 provides all these details.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:51 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Actually the development of a centralized court model with a heavy hierarchy in Japan based on Chinese models actually was prompted by fears of foreign invasion. By the late Asuka and early Nara period the system was largely in place and it worked wonders for the economy and military. It also produced a respectable nation state that could hold its own weight in international dealings. The Cambridge History of Japan Volume 1 provides all these details.



Political stability in Japan can be accounted for simply through its geographical isolation.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Indrajala » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:53 pm

Malcolm wrote:Political stability in Japan can be accounted for simply through its geographical isolation.


What are you talking about? The Yamato court was constantly at war with rivals and non-Japanese tribes (Hayato, Ebisu, etc.) until basically the 8th century. It later suffered decentralization which led to the Kamakura period and subsequent centuries of civil wars. Even in early centuries the Yamato court was at odds with Silla in Korea and invasion was a constant fear. There was a war between Japan against a Silla-Tang alliance in the 660s.
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Malcolm » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:04 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Political stability in Japan can be accounted for simply through its geographical isolation.


What are you talking about? The Yamato court was constantly at war with rivals and non-Japanese tribes (Hayato, Ebisu, etc.) until basically the 8th century. It later suffered decentralization which led to the Kamakura period and subsequent centuries of civil wars. Even in early centuries the Yamato court was at odds with Silla in Korea and invasion was a constant fear. There was a war between Japan against a Silla-Tang alliance in the 660s.


The Silla-Tang alliance was totally unstable, and never represented a serious threat to the Yamamoto court.

Internal stability does not mean one does not fight others. In fact, the ability to master others in war comes from internal stability. And the Yamamoto were mercenaries in the Korean Peninsula for the Baekje.
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Malcolm
 
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Re: Discussion of Political Topics is Wrong Speech

Postby Zhen Li » Fri Feb 28, 2014 10:04 pm

Sorry, I must say I think the discussion of geography and politics as being a guarantor of stability is off topic.
Sherab Dorje wrote:A monarchist system does not guarantee that one will have an enlightened ruler. Or are you talking about an elective monarchy? Even in this case (normally) the candidate is normally chosen from a number of individuals belonging to specific family lineages.

To be fair to whoever is advocating that model, the term monarchy does not inherently imply any method of selection.
Kim O'Hara wrote:"The personal is political" was addressed to Reddust with particular reference to the question of what is political and what isn't. It is a way of saying that everything we do and say has political implications, in the broader meaning of "political" as referring to the structures and habits by which societies organise themselves.
It has nothing to do with "taking things personally" so your comment was OT. It also looks like an attempt to derail the whole discussion, something you often seem inclined to do, but perhaps I'm wrong this time and you just misunderstood the idiom.

Sorry, I am not sure what OT means, but I think that perhaps for purposes of civility we should try not to make personal comments, but rather talk about the subject matter at hand. I also do not think we should presuppose misunderstanding or understanding on the part of another, when we may simply be misunderstanding the other's comments ourselves, not everything we say is right and not everything said by those who disagree is wrong. Simply put, I am not certain it amounts to a misunderstanding of the notion that believing politics is personal to say that it is taking things personally, it does presuppose an awful lot of knowledge and universal certainty about the world that we simply cannot obtain without omniscience.
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