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Friday, February 5, 2010

The Narrowing Of Collective Will

Collective bargaining on the part of unions and capitalists makes it possible for employers to know just what the workers think on matters of mutual interest. So, whether you spend your working life in mines or pharmaceuticals --or both, digging deep underground for aspirin-ore -- and want some government by discussion, you're screwed without a union.

Without opportunity to discuss bad policy, management is untroubled in its inequities, disparities and draconian injustices. It knows nothing because it brooks no discussion. After all, when you don't know anything there's no point in changing your mind.

You're likewise screwed without a cohesive, cooperative assembly of nations. If we enlarge our mine to include the finite, fossil-resources of earth, we find them not renewable, only inheritable from current and prior exploitations. When we lose discussion we lose inclusion. We also lose innovation. Powerful heirs close ranks. They become a tontine, armed against each other, a deathwatch circled to guard a donkey-engine chugging in a hole.

Outside this hopeless, humorless, belligerent inner crowd there forms a wide margin of disenfranchised populace. Theirs is a world of tumbled walls, disused doors, their infirm dying in wheelbarrows and, because they have no aspirin, suffering constant headaches. A dismal realm, but historically one from which discussion reemerges. Innovation struggles from want and eventually human progress flourishes anew.

In stamping mills where ore is crushed and in sweatshops where it is fashioned into aspirin tablets by children chained to their anvils, opinions are born. The unwashed, downtrodden peon asks, 'If I have this one opinion, might I not have another as well, and another and another?'

It is happening right now in internet discussion groups. What confuses me is why some group moderators expel members whose opinions or styles fall outside the narrow norm. Clearly, if discussion is prerequisite to liberty, throwing out its most hopeful extremes is counterproductive. There is a tyrannical element, I suspect, that senses threat in discussion.

Moderators may quite honestly reject those comments they are unable to appreciate or understand, but doing so suppresses in themselves an important human quality, the will to expand appreciation and understanding. The will to discover has many obstacles, ignorance certainly, but the greatest obstacle of all is the illusion of knowledge.

Too often, opinions and people are discarded because they conflict with what another believes he or she knows. The group decides discovery is not worth the effort of disabusing itself and tightens around illusion. In internet, unions, government and life it is poor policy to throw chances away. When moderators, chairpersons, public officials do this the chugging echo from the hole can heard more and more clearly.

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