Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What Makes America Great?

Even the question "What makes America great?" is rife with patriotism- so perhaps the more important question is, "What does it mean to be a patriot?". Well, that's relatively simple- It means to be one who loves their country. What does it mean to say, "I love my country."?

Loving ones country is inherently moral- Disliking ones country is inherently moral- Even not particularly caring is inherently moral.

The question, it seems to me, is "Do I have the morals of a slave, or the morals of a master?".

Well, I've often said "No one is more enslaved than he who does not realize that he is a slave."- This raises the question, "How can one be a master?". Are we all slaves? Certainly not. Is it important to be a Master? Certainly so.

So the statement that no one is more enslaved than he who does not realize that he is a slave leads immediately to an important philosophical point- and it is the distinction between what is kno0wn as 'Lower Immediacy', 'Mediation', and 'Higher Immediacy'.

'Lower Immediacy' is the morals of the slave- the morals of a child. One characteristic of 'Lower Immediacy' is that it is unthinking, non-reflective or pre-reflective- where one follows only ones immediate instinctual drive. Interestingly enough, this is true for 'Higher Immediacy' as well (the morals of the master).

The difference between lower and higher immediacy is the crucial (and oft forgotton) notion of 'Mediation'. Mediation is reflective, characterized by deep rumination of the most basic phenomena of consciousness. This phenomena, in mediation, is carefully examined and, indeed, judged as either warranted or unwarranted- 'on the money' or 'off the mark'- and even more important- what is discovered is how to 'control' ones emotional drives. Certainly it would be difficult to examine the 'subconscious' in this way- but an intuitive understanding of the 'pre-reflective'. One must go through this process of 'Mediation' as Absolute and necessary to reaching higher immediacy.

Once one has gone through mediation (most often, but not exclusively, done in academia), one reaches Higher Immediacy which, like lower immediacy, is non reflective and basically intuitive. Take the example of 'Zen and the Art of Archery'. The 'Master' archer does not have to 'think' at all about how to shoot an arrow- all he does is draw the bow- aim- and let go. He does not 'think' or 'reflect'- the bow and arrow are 'extensions' of his body- it's almost a merely physical process without the involvement of conscious 'mind' as such. The reason why the archer is capable of this type of mastery is he has long ago gone through the process of 'mediation' of his art, craft, and preconscious drives.

This is how one becomes a master- but one must first realize that one is a slave (and this is where I depart from Hegel), and often times, a slave to ideology.

So I return to politics by saying one cannot be a slave to ideology and be a master of any kind. Love of country and state is much like this. Patriotism is much like this. Mature love is much like this.

I Digress... Thanks for reading folks.


  1. Erm, so your point is that America is great? The link between your initial question and your subsequent argument is tenuous even for you. I may have missed out on something, but I just don't understand what you're trying to get at.

  2. the point is what makes america great is the mind/spirit of america, and we must follow that as opposed to ideology to be true patriots.

  3. So you're saying that America is great because its patriots don't polarise themselves behind blind ideological positions? To a certain extent I agree with you: the intent of the Founding Fathers, as far as I can tell, was to set up a government based on truly pluralistic principles -- a government in which political parties and concentrations of power were actively discouraged and the passage of legislation was intentionally encumbered to give legislation the due debate required. And yes, I agree that blind adherence to any one particular ideological line is counter-productive as theory doesn't necessarily match actuality.

    However, whether these founding principles have manifested themselves as reality 200 years later is an entirely different issue; as far as I can see, we now have an America of two very ideologically distinct halves, an America that is just as ideologically polarised as any other western democracy.

    You yourself have set up a blog explicitly for the purpose of hawking your (very ideological) right wing stances -- does this make you unpatriotic? You've even gone so far as to co-opt Nietzsche as a blue-in-the-blood conservative. Are you trying to say 'America would be great if everyone looked at things logically instead of parroting right/left wing talking points' or 'America is great because, on the whole, people don't dogmatically follow ideology and base their reasoning on logic and sound arguments'? I still don't know what you mean by 'the mind/spirt of America'. Are you simply saying that America is great because of some fundamental sense of 'american-ness" that everyone shares? 'Cause that's a bit wishy-washy.