Monday, July 16, 2012

Conformity vs. Non-Conformity: A Brief Exposition

I began politalk with the bold statement that liberals are quote "far more conformist than conservatives", so I'd like to continue on this train of thought for a moment.  Conformity, as a cliche, is generally frowned upon.  But what I'd like to say is that often conformity is neither inherently negative nor positive, neither pragmatic nor abstract, neither an opposition nor a opposition to the opposite (i.e. counter-culture).  What I would like to note, however, is that conformity can be the failed fail-safe of Individualistic Democratic Ideology (I.D.I.) - which is sort of a heavy handed way of saying that conformity can lead to fascism on a collectivistic level - especially when the conformity is imposed upon people rather than chosen.  I'm currently finishing up George Bush's "Decision Points", and one of the ideological/philosophical presuppositions/decisions he makes central to his thesis is people must "choose freedom", I.E. - you can't force freedom upon a peoples, they have to choose it for themselves.  I rather like that as a basic, almost primordial if I'm permitted to say so, theological distinction.  Obviously, primordial is a word used extensively in Heideggerian philosophy, along with words like 'basic' and 'coping'.  What I'd like to say is that the relevance of Heidegger within contemporary American society is, in fact, notorious radio-personality Glenn Beck's opposition to Heidegger and ilk.  He frequently, and I think this is an important point, derides neo-Heideggerians within America as being a force for Evil - however, I do seem to remember one crucial distinction he made - The basis of his dislike of Heidegger was, and this often seems to be the case, the implications and influence not of Heidegger 'the man', but of those who take his teachings and use them for the groundwork for their academic philosophy/ideology.  I think this is important, especially as it relates to my most loved philosophy - the philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel.  Hegel is acknowledged to be the most influential philosopher of all time in terms of the impact of a thinker on various disciplines and vocations.  However, on the back cover of his Philosophy of Right (written by Robert Solomon), he is credited with begetting (and when I say influential, yes - I literally mean 'beget') both socialism and democracy.  So what I'd like to enter into the formula for a moment is the traditional philosophical distinction between judging a philosophy by the life the philosopher lived and the works themselves - and what I'd liek to say is this may, in fact, not be an important distinction - however, it is crucial to note that some judge a philosophy by the content and others by what amounts to polemics.  If you think about other important distinctions related to this subject, one that I think we all sort of know is the distinction between the worldviews that deem philosophy itself to be invalid due to the ethical inconsistencies of the society which spurned the philosophy, the person who derived the philosophie etc., and those who respect the validity of the works themselves.  So what we see here, in a sense, the way in which polemics play a role in conformity, with the end result being a dismissal by students and others of relevant content without inquiry - and this, I want to say, is conformity.  I'm loathe to compare G.W. Bush's ideology/philosophy/theology to an 'unrepentant Nazi', which obviously Heidegger was; but there is a single phrase in seminal and in need of adequate analysis work Zein und Zeit that is basically exactly the same theological position of George W. Bush (take it for what it's worth) - and that is the turn of phrase or theological formula that runs thusly - "Fear is Forgetting", and George Bush in his "Decision Points" makes a great deal out of the distinction between 'Fear' and 'Hope' - not to mention the monumental turn of narrative that I'll simply say we all remember.  In terms of repenting, personally, for my knowledge of Heidegger - I'll sum up briefly by referencing an old noir film about two Englishmen who end up in Germany riding a train right as the war of the world number two breaks out.  One of them has a copy of 'Zein und Zeit' and the other questions him on it - he responds very casually - "I figure I'd better figure out what this Hitler fellow is going on about".  Anyhow - conformity, which I've never defined, can be seen as, within the context of the Greatest Generation, the ability for people to ardently agree with an ideology/philosophy/theology they are not ardently familiar with.  Thanks for reading.

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