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Andy Walker

My Political Ideology

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I'm not sure I really understood what was required when I originally posted on this. I thought the class was going to be thinking about ideology, but the majority of contributions don't seem to have had much to do with this. They've mostly been somewhat disorganized collections of anecdotes relating to the origins of the posters' political beliefs.

I think the point about an ideology is that it claims to be a systematic explanation of society in that it is universally applicable. Very few of the contributions so far appear to have been propounding such a system.

The lack of a "conservative" contribution is understandable. Ideology really does tend to be something of a left-wing phenomenon. Conservatism is essentially reactionary in that is "reacts to" and rejects changes which it sees as negative. Thus conservatives do not, in general, have a clear "vision" of how they want society to be -- they may even, like Thatcher, deny the existence of society -- but rather a set of things they are against, like "big government", "over-powerful labor union bully-boys", "world government", etc, etc.

Exceptions to this are the religious conservatives like Scott and Ayatollah Khomeini who do, indeed, have a "vision" of society as it should be, which, they believe, has been ordained by God. It is difficult to argue with the true religious conservative since their ideology does not even claim to be rational. I remember one occasion after the Islamic Revolution in Iran when the "representative" of the Revolutionary Committee we were obliged to employ at the school called together the SMT and demanded to know why we had not obeyed the Committee edict ordaining the strict separation of the sexes in schools. By this time, we had separate classes for boys and girls, separate breaks and lunch times, separate stairways, etc, etc, so we were a bit surprised and told him so. He then told us that it had come to his attention that the classes of 3-4 year-olds were still co-educational. We told him that 3-4 year-olds didn't need to be separated since their minds weren't polluted with nasty sexual thoughts. He told us triumphantly that the Committee had "conclusive evidence" that homosexuality in western society was caused by co-education. We segregated the 3-year-olds. You just can't argue with people like that...

I suppose that there is some confusion because "conservatism" is such a broad term. I'm sure Andrew will have talked to his class about the origins of the term in Peel's Tamworth Manifesto and "the correction of proved abuses". It's difficult to see how this could be related to the sort of messianic conservatism propounded by the religious right. Disraeli, the intellectual father of "one nation" conservatism muddied the waters even further by bringing an element of Romanticism into the mixture...

On a very tangental point, I think it's very difficult to teach this sort of thing effectively these days. Students do not, in general, have the background knowledge to even understand some of the language involved. This isn't their fault. It's a function of NC political correctness which has weeded out "irrelevant" bits of history. I'm amazed by the number of highly educated 20-30 year-olds I talk to these days who've never heard of Rousseau, Plato or JS Mill and whose knowledge of Lenin and Mao is largely anecdotal.... I suppose that's what one has to expect from an educational system where students sometimes study post-1918 Germany in years 10, 11, 12 and 13, but never study the French Revolution!

Edited by mike tribe

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Mike writes:

I'm not sure I really understood what was required when I originally posted on this. I thought the class was going to be thinking about ideology, but the majority of contributions don't seem to have had much to do with this. They've mostly been somewhat disorganized collections of anecdotes relating to the origins of the posters' political beliefs.

My contributions have been anecdotal. I'm not a political scientist and I don't believe in ideologies. My political views - like those of most people - are coloured by my background and the kind of life that I wish to enjoy. They are also coloured by what I see I see as essential for the development of our nation, namely a population that is properly housed, well educated and in good health. This is why my priorities are Housing, Education and Health and which I believe should be properly funded through taxation - which I am willing to pay. I believe in regulated capitalism, not centralised socialism, so I guess I can be classified as a Social Democrat if you have to pin a label on me.

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Dear Friends of Society

My political Ideology is the following: I am an Universal Synarchist.

Politics in the Light of Initiatic Science:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread...=45034&tstart=0

The Concept of a Pan-World:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread...44939&tstart=45

Can America survive?

http://www.foundation.bw/canam4x.htm

New World Order/Synarchy - The Secret History

http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread...44847&tstart=90

True Economics:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread...44831&tstart=90

Economethics:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread...44815&tstart=90

Sustainable Planetary Management

http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread...4813&tstart=105

Principles and Forms:

http://www.opendemocracy.net/forums/thread...=45112&tstart=0

Best wishes from Switzerland

lwwb

Roger Schreiber

Edited by Roger Schreiver

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I may well be a Conservative in the sense that I dislike social engineering carried out in the name of some abstarct noun like Liberty or Equality. Sooner or later any regime brought in to create a more equal society

by means of standardising our social and econimic relationships will lead to a power elite of the committed rather than the talented. This in turn will ignite a counter movement.

[...]Socialists replace duties and obligations with impersonal taxes and benefits while Liberals fail to understand that one has to have a shared moral framework if a society is to function well.

Well, if I didn't know what I am, John's post wake me up...

As a french teacher I can't agree less on what he wrote. I think that the state can do a lot (and not little). When the state is absent, only the well educated and the richest can go out of this hell. It is up to the citizens to improve the way of life by going to the polls and strikes (we had one yesterday on wages and employement). Who are the talented? Those who had an opportunity one day...free market can't do that. Education and equity (not equality) can do better.

Impersonal taxes are necessary to have public services. I'm not always happy with that but, in my opinion, you don't have other issue. We hae a great chance in France (till today): we know what welfare state is...for how many time?

In addition to that, let me say that socialism sis not exist anymore...unfortunetly...the socialist party in France is not socialist anymore while the communists are discredited. Very difficult to have an ideology in these conditions. We have to be pragmatic and use ideologies to improve our way of life.

Hope it maches with the debate...

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Radical Socialist Democrat/Green

I started being a social democrat and later a communist when I was a teenager. My family was very conservative and religious. I think I can say following Oscar Wilde that I was brought up under middle class morality: good husband, good worker, obedient and with no deep political thought. My father, who was a Franco's follower, used to say the very same words Franco said: "son, do as me, don't get involved in politics". My eldest brother and some school classmates opened my eyes and I started to collaborate in a communist organisation against the regime.

When democracy came to Spain I really thought it was the time for a real leftist government. I soon became dissapointed. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, any communist option vanished. I still think there is no liberty without equality, and equality without liberty, but nothing can be done without the people. Decitions have to be taken by the people and democracy is not voting every four years. I wish we could really decide on what it is really important, even on the national budget. Radical democracy is the solution against using power for personal interests. Politicians are managers of what people decide it should be done, not decition-makers: people decide (by voting) politicians act. I also think we have to preserve this beautiful planet to next generations. We have no right to ruin it.

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Given the direction this topic has taken, I think I should elaborate slightly on some of the points I made.

I deliberately threw in a bunch of definitions, not because they don't apply to me, but to highlight three factors:

a.There are many different philosophies to align with, agreeing with a part of one does not exclude others.

b.The most significant Law that nature operates under is the law of change. EVERYTHING in the material world is ALWAYS changing. Science attempts to measure reality and describe it. This will ALWAYS be an approximation, though usually a good one that is useful and precise enough in many applications. If you go on to study quantum physics for example you will see this. If you study history you will see this. If you study yourself, you will see this.

In my opinion, many of the ills that society and the individuals in it suffer from is as a result of endlessly trying to stop this change and take charge of it. A gross example may be for example architecture. (when I say gross I mean broad or 'large picture' or as opposed to fine or detailed). Some thousands of years from now nothing that's built today will exist in a recognisable form. A few generations from today no-one except a very small minority will be remembered by anyone. A few years from now any attempt at stopping gray hair from appearing will fail. etc etc

Here I think some of the writings of Germain Greer are interesting, particularly her thoughts on aging and how much better one experiences it by an attitude of embracing rather than rejecting.

and

c. perhaps the most important thing of all is education. Why, how, what does that word mean, what is that philosophy...

While I speak of responsibility and accountability I mean that to be married with education. Informed responsibility with an awareness of the true nature of self. 'know thyself'. Buddha formulated a number of exercises that everybody can use to gain insight. An informed, educated person who chooses to take responsibility for their actions and the subsequent reactions (cause and effect) I think will gravitate to some form of anarcho - syndicalism. This does not mean non-participation in such things as elections or unions or church, quite the contrary.

There is the story of the glass that is to the pessimist half empty and to the optimist it's half full. - to the realist it's neither-it's both. There is no need to have an emotional attachment to it at all.

A neutral society will tend to deal with reality in a balanced way avoiding selling principles short for political expediency. An educated aware realistic population with a strong DEFENSE posture in a realistic evaluation of other groupings is the way to go.

The idea that ideology is a leftist phenomenon is absurd. The dominant thinking controlling the world today are deliberate produce from think tanks such as the spawns of the John Birch Society.(at the moment their deliberate meddling with the environmental movement, and consequently the green parties, are in need of careful scrutiny) This and other think tanks produce an endless stream of propaganda for lazy politicians to use to justify their policies. Economic Rationalism for example has spread its tentacles very widely. The demands that organisations such as the World Bank place on developing nations are well thought out with specific aims. Left ideology is often a response to these things. It's a cycle of cause and effect. The point I think is to discern which of these cycles are healthy for humanity as a whole and which are only healthy for a few, and consequently, in the fullness of time, unhealthy for all.

Edited by John Dolva

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Exceptions to this are the religious conservatives like Scott and Ayatollah Khomeini who do, indeed, have a "vision" of society as it should be, which, they believe, has been ordained by God. It is difficult to argue with the true religious conservative since their ideology does not even claim to be rational.

Mike,

Those like myself may indeed claim rationality as well, for their ideologies. This immediately scales up to the debate on the rationality of the existence of God and epistemology and this is not the forum for such a debate. All of it hinges on that, of course. I consider anyone who does not start their reasoning from "God exists" to be irrational. I do not believe it is possible to build a correct systematic ideology regarding anything unless you start with "God (the God of the Bible) exists". There is no foundation on which to put it epistemologically. As I said in my earlier post, these are things we discover, not define, including the correct definition of "rational". I think its nice that you made a distinction between me and the reactionaries but then you lumped me in with the irrationals and cited an example of real irrationality as propounded by an Islamic, regarding the origin of homosexuality. I had to chuckle. I'm not even close to the same idealogy as the Islamic people.

I suppose that there is some confusion because "conservatism" is such a broad term. I'm sure Andrew will have talked to his class about the origins of the term in Peel's Tamworth Manifesto and "the correction of proved abuses". It's difficult to see how this could be related to the sort of messianic conservatism propounded by the religious right. Disraeli, the intellectual father of "one nation" conservatism muddied the waters even further by bringing an element of Romanticism into the mixture...

From my perspective the political "spectrum" looks much different than most people see it. The conservatives and the liberals are two inches apart on a 30 foot long spectrum - both moving in the same direction, near the other end, away from me. Dabney's comments regarding the secular/conservative distinction are of interest (http://jkalb.org/node/1231#comment-4322) clear back at the time of the Civil War. Then entire Dabney quote can be found here and should be read: http://peapac.org/guide_04/04_sb_theologian.asp.

Everyone has a Messianic view of things. They just have different Messiah's in view. Most people today seem to me to view the state as the Messiah, i.e. the one who will fix everything. Of course, "Messiah" is not in the State's charter and they will fail in this role. Veneration of the State in this capacity will turn it into a tyrant.

On a very tangental point, I think it's very difficult to teach this sort of thing effectively these days. Students do not, in general, have the background knowledge to even understand some of the language involved. This isn't their fault. It's a function of NC political correctness which has weeded out "irrelevant" bits of history. I'm amazed by the number of highly educated 20-30 year-olds I talk to these days who've never heard of Rousseau, Plato or JS Mill and whose knowledge of Lenin and Mao is largely anecdotal.... I suppose that's what one has to expect from an educational system where students sometimes study post-1918 Germany in years 10, 11, 12 and 13, but never study the French Revolution!

I'd have to agree. Students of political ideologies need to make careful distinctions. I realize this is not always possible, because the distinctions require a lot of understanding of the differing views under consideration. Students generally don't have time or interest to gain this understanding.

Cordially,

Scott

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It is always interesting to debate politics with someone from the religious right, especially someone who's clearly given the matter some thought, but I'm not completely convinced this would be much help to Andy's students. Perhaps on a different thread?

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The idea that ideology is a leftist phenomenon is absurd.

I think what we have here is a difference of opinion on what constitute an "ideology". It seems to me is that what conservatives generally display is more a collection of policies -- usually based on resistance to change and the maintenance of a status quo which tends to benefit the class(es) to which they belong rather than the sort of over-arching conceptual framework I think of as being an "ideology".

A good example of what I'm thinking about is the essential conservatism of peasants in France since the Revolution and in north western Spain to this day. They don't operate "think tanks", and they don't really have much to "conserve", but they have/had an instinctive reaction towards the rejection of "new" ideas. Now you could say that they had been "manipulated" by more sophisticated political thinkers (especially within the CAtholic Church) who do have a more developed "world view" but I don't think this is the whole answer... A lot of conservatism, I think, is based not on a careful analysis of society and its ills, but upon "knee jerk" reactions against the threat represented by change, especially rapid change.

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It is always interesting to debate politics with someone from the religious right, especially someone who's clearly given the matter some thought, but I'm not completely convinced this would be much help to Andy's students. Perhaps on a different thread?

Mike,

A full debate would probably not be so helpful to Andy's students, although it sounds like you and I'd both enjoy it. I wish I had time to participate in it. I figured this would happen when I originally posted but somebody from my side "needed to put their oar in". The challenge is in knowing how far to put the oar in. B)

Cordially,

Scott

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Well, I guess I'll be a loner out here on this forum for now. I am only 17, and therefore don't know a whole lot about non-capitalist government types, but I am definately conservative. I have been raised in Tennessee, but I still shouldn't be steriotyped as an ultra-concervative redneck (there isn't even a gun in our house). I conseder myself a conservative independant. Normally, I am for state's rights. Most of my teachers are libral, which has definately influenced me enough that I am not as consevative as the rest of my family. I, for the most part, would like to learn more than teach as far as this forum goes, but I will give a little rant on religion in politics.

I am Southern Babtist. I pray to God, and I certainly beleive in Hell. For anyone else who shares my beliefs, they would understand that the most important thing in life is what happens when it is over. As a matter of fact, just about everyone understands that no matter what religion you are, the most meaningfull events take place after death. For me, I beleive that we all will be judged and those who's names are in the Lamb's Book of Life will be accepted into Heaven. For those who are not, they will spend eternity separated from God. There is nothing more important to me than sharing the Word of God with people, because I love and respect them and do not want to see them suffer. With the way modern politics are headed, I will not be able to do that any more. It is very painful for me to stand around and whatch while lost people go on living their lives without knowing what will happen when their lives come to an end. I am never offended when someone of a different religion witnesses to me, so I certainly don't understand the fuss about Christians witnessing to people. We aren't asking for money or trying to recruit people to send on mission trips to China, we simply care enough about others that we want to tell them about Jesus. That is not a crime. That is religion. Asking a Christian not to witness is like asking a Jew not to wear a yamichah (<-- spelling?), or asking a band not to play music in public.

Liberals will talk about "separation of Church and State." It doesn't exist. The first Amendment states that Congress will not create a national religion. If I am Prodestant, I can be Prodestant. If I was Catholic, I could be Catholic. If I was French, then I could move to Canada of Louisiana (preferably Canada). If I believed in Ancient Egyptian mythology, then I could walk around wearing an Anubis head or a Ma'at mask with an osterich plume in the back of my crown. And I could do it all withought ridicule from the government. Ridicule from the public, however, would not be garunteed, especially if I dressed up as Satan wearing a kippa with the Star of David on it and started singing Irish drinking songs to the tune of obscure Bobby McFerrin songs while burning the Canadian flag. I'd probably get shot; but my point is, I wouldn't get shot by a cop . And to clerify my views on Canada, I would never burn a Canadian flag unless someone with a gun told me to. Canadians are cool, no pun intended.

I guess all I really had to say was that we have a gift in America: freedom of religion. Many people want it to become freedom from religion. America is not an atheistic country and was never intended to be. I also beleive that God has not yet abandoned America, yet that may in fact be simple wishfull thinking. Our current presidens will certainly help redirect our country morally. I hope my veiws have been helpfull in some way or another, I know I have certainly learned a lot from reading all these posts. God bless.

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Andy what is the definition of political ideology you are giving to your students?

My thoughts are that it is gazing into the crystal ball to see what human society can become. One thing we know for sure is that it has changed quite drastically in the past. Our ancestors left the trees to become scavengers on the ground with most eventually settling into farming. At one time we had a feudal society and now we have a capitalist industrial society. We apply the word evolution to Darwin’s theory on animal and plant life, but we can just as easily apply it to society and just like the biologists who look into the past by using the historical records, such as fossils and DNA, we can do the same with society.

A conservative political ideology would basically be saying that there will be no change from society’s present state. This ideology would have been wrong in hindsight if it was expounded back in feudal days and I suspect it would be wrong now. It’s the equivalent of having to argue the creationist theories against evolution.

We need to be careful with the ideologies of left as too often they were strategies rather than ideologies. A strategy to change the path society is taking makes sense but I suspect many of the writings by Lenin, Trotsky and Mao were an attempt to fit what they were doing at the time into the ideology. (I think that Stalin had no real ideology but was just a throwback to Russian nationalism.)

What do I see in the crystal ball? The perfection of democracy. It has been and is a very imperfect thing. It’s not that long ago that women in most countries couldn’t vote and certainly slaves in the US weren’t included in the original constitution.

I suspect that America is good place to look for possible future trends in society just as it’s a good place to see trends in most other fields. As Europeans, many of us consider there is a political naivety there, but it might be that not carrying some of the old baggage helps them move quicker.

The rate of change or evolution seems to be speeding up. Capitalism and conservative politicians who represent it today have little resemblance to those a hundred years ago. The “One Nation” Tories of the post war years in the UK and George Bush the younger running a presidential campaign as a “Caring Conservative” and trying to attract the Hispanic vote by speaking Spanish just would not have happened at the turn of the last century.

Capitalism itself has changed. Fewer large companies are run by their major shareholder/founder. It seems that this type of control can hardly last one generation. Instead we see a manager class running them. The major shareholders are mostly insurance and investment companies which are again run by professional managers.

These large companies finance the politicians for obvious reasons but themselves come under more and more government control. The governments need to get re-elected so they can’t afford to upset the voters by allowing the large companies to ride roughshod over the general population. The more educated the population the less they will allow their rights to be decreased.

Where will this government/corporate/voter combination end up? Back in the sixties one of the Trotskyite factions was talking about “state capitalism” is relation to the Soviet Union. Maybe it could be applied more correctly to the West today. I find a help in looking into that crystal ball is to hear what the US far right is scared of. Here I’m talking about those militias in camps in the mountains, armed the teeth, ready to repel the UN led invasion of America;-)

Big government can’t be all bad if it is a government of the people. Capitalist politicians will still get the majority vote as long as the voters living standards continue to improve. State control limiting the large companies will get tighter until you end up with something even Marx might have been able to identify as socialist. Regional and international organizations of the nation states, such as the UN, EU and NATO will become more powerful. Our journey is going in that direction and although there may be setbacks along the way, only self destruction of the human race can stop it reaching the next step society will take.

So should we just sit back and say that evolution will take care of everything? Well that’s where our political ideology/strategy comes in. We can either help speed it on its way or we can try and slow it down. For the conservatives, will there be another Reagan/Thatcher combination to try and turn back the clock? Certainly Bush/Blair isn’t that combination. For the left, should the attempt to speed the change be reformist or revolutionary? Although history can be used to show that sudden changes can take place such as the in biological evolution, the death of the dinosaurs, I have become somewhat suspicious of Marxist historians trying to find revolutionary changes in our past. (England was changing whether Cromwell lopped of Charles Stuart’s head or not;-)

As a young man I belonged to the UK’s most dogmatic and disciplined Trotskyite party. Then I would have called myself a Marxist-Leninist. From the age of 22 I spent most of the following 32 years in third world countries and maybe I’ve lost touch. I’m not sure if I really have a political ideology today. Maybe ideologies are for the young, philosophers and teachers.

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Members are invited to post reflections on their own political ideology and debate with others here to aid my 6th form students study their A Level unit on Ideology.

It looks like I'm the closest thing to a political conservative in the discussion, so far; and it isn't all that conservative. For what its worth [and it isn't worth much] I've been a registered Republican for 35 years. I've lived my entire life in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and most of that has been in Portland, the largest city in Oregon. For those not familiar with the US and/or Oregon, we are often referred to as the State of Portland by those who aren't in Portland. The majority of Oregonians [geographically] are farmers; the majority of Oregonians [population] live in metro Portland and the Willamette Valley. We don't farm.

I don't have a political label.

I grew up in the Viet Nam era; I missed going to Viet Nam by about 4 hours. Had Mom needed to go to the bathroom four hours earlier, my draft number would have been something like 7; as it was, I got 234. I watched Johnson and Nixon and probably voted for Ford. I've continued to admire Ronald Reagan for his example of leadership; and have been disappointed to find out that his actions as President were far from admirable. I try to ignore the fact that Bush senior was his Vice President. I lived among hippies at college, but didn't do drugs; by definition this means I wasn't really a part of the 60's and 70's. My parents were politically conservative; and devoted to the American Legion. That probably included a Republican agenda by definition. I am a first generation American on my mother's side of the family; third generation on my father's side. Most of my ancestors came from Norway and Sweden; they probably came here seeking 'a better life'. I'm aware that the odds of my particular existence [that one sperm cell] are so small that I am either a meaningless accident or a miracle. I choose the latter.

God entered my life while in college in a way that sounds ridiculous to those who've never experienced the presence of God in their life. Consequently I don't often explain it; nonetheless, all of my life since that time has been experienced through a 'God-filter'. Since I believe that my soul will exist for eternity, the events of my life are all temporary occurrences with a limited significance. Thus, how I treat my wife, my children and my neighbors are of greater concern to me than the idiot running the country. Had John not invited my opinion, and had I a deadline to meet, I wouldn't be writing. I don't believe it's my job to change other people's minds about matters of faith.

One of the advantages I have as an American, is the knowledge that my country is being officially being run by a few hundreds of individuals, many of whom are idiots. Having worked for City government for 14 years, I realize that in fact, the country is actually run by people who have jobs and lives and who, if given the opportunity, will act in ways that are inclined toward benevolence. A significant portion will act in a manner that is insulting to 'lower' animals. As an American I realize that I will pay taxes all of my adult life; and that the taxes will never be diminished. I also realize that the taxes will be spent on causes with which I disagree. I have an open invitation to leave the country whenever I want. As an Oregonian who already pays taxes on personal property, I will continue to vote against sales taxes; because I know that the property taxes won't go away if a sales tax is initiated. My wife and I generally vote against new taxes for schools; because throwing money at the administration of schools does not improve the quality of education. We volunteer in the schools when we can. In Oregon we have a government based on referendum; we have elections every 6-12 months for a wide variety of concerns. Not being a conservative farmer, most of the local elections don't go the way I'd like them to. Being a metropolitan Oregonian, most of the national elections don't go the way I'd like them to go. I believe politicians have a responsibility to serve the electorate; being a person of faith governed by those who seek power, I don't expect it will often happen.

I have an 'adopted' daughter [the daughter whose entrance into the world was supervised by me, 'adopted' a sister a few years ago] who has lived in a wheelchair all of her life. Since her life is greatly affected by public health policy, the 'rules' for her life are inclined to change every 4 years. For the most part, I could have avoided every election that has occurred in the last 35 years, and it would have little impact on my life. I comprehend that political issues are of far greater significance in other countries; but I can't say that I understand that fact. When I look at the world through my adopted daughter's eyes, I see a different country. However, when people look at her, they mostly see the wheelchair, and that doesn't affect their politics. It mostly makes them uncomfortable.

On one of the other threads I quote from the Book of Micah- the chief end of mankind is to love justice, show mercy and walk humbly with [my] God. This means that I don't evict my renter from our rental property, even though I legally could, because they haven't been able to pay their full rent. The husband seems to believe that living off of his wife's income is acceptable; to evict him, I also evict her, and their children. I could attempt to reeducate him, but he's in his late 40's or early 50's, and I have little hope that I can influence him. My belief in the teachings of Jesus means that my wife and I spent most of last year caring for my 4 year old mother, after she suffered a stroke while visiting us. My beliefs mean that I quit my job with the City seven years ago, because I had medical people I trusted tell me it was necessary. I trusted them because I believe that God is intimately involved in my life. The starting of a new career has cost me a huge amount of money- the cost of a fully-paid for house that I've mortgaged-- but in many ways it's been a good choice. As long as I don't count material benefits in my measurements. My beliefs mean that I donate ten percent of my earnings to church and charity; and we don't buy a lot of toys. I fully believe that I will work for most of my life, at something; I don't expect to ever live 'the good life,' whatever that may mean. Things don't make for a 'good life'-- they mostly mean more things to worry about.

The political questions I face are whether I should join the protestors downtown who oppose the war in Iraq; or whether I write my congressional representatives. I've discovered that there are so few people in a position of power who share my beliefs that it really doesn't matter whether or not they belong to a particular party. I've been blessed to be living where I am; yet I know that if I were to live under an oppressive regime, my fate would not be in the hands of those in power, but in the hands of a Higher Power. I also realize that this is easier to say from Oregon than it is from many other places in the world.

I believe that I should be able to keep as much of the money I earn as I can; I also believe that it is my responsibility to help pay the salaries of public employees, and the 'benefits' for those, like my adopted daughter, who live because of the 'kindness of strangers'. I believe those who given many opportunities have a great responsibility to share those opportunities with those less fortunate. I don't believe that will happen in my lifetime.

I believe my greatest responsibility is to be as compassionate and caring as I can to all those I allow into my life. I believe I will allow into my life fewer people than God would want me to. I believe that God doesn't keep a scorecard. The fact that God doesn't keep a scorecard doesn't mean that I have any less of a responsibility to act in the best manner I can toward those I encounter. The fact that there isn't a scorecard means that I don't have act out of fear.

Jesus was murdered after only three years of actively bringing His message to His world. He claimed to be God in human form, offering a different way to look at life. He was either a lunatic or telling the truth; there really aren't any other alternatives. We don't know what went on in the ~30 years before He 'went public'. He felt that what He did was enough. In that people are still trying to emulate Him, I guess it worked. As near as I can tell, I'm not going to get out of this life alive, at least not in the conventional sense. I can worry about who gets elected; or I can worry about my neighbor. It appears that giving a cup of water to someone who's thirsty is a bigger deal than how much I get out of this life, or who I vote for.

I have a son who has just moved to Antarctica. For the next 6 months he will have no political affiliation, since there are none in Antarctica. The 'rules' are determined by his employer; his behavior toward the 800-1000 people he lives among will determine how well he enjoys his time there. Maybe we should all try living as though it really mattered how our neighbor thinks about us. Maybe we should live as though it really mattered how our neighbor thinks of us, in spite of the fact that our neighbor is mostly going to think about themselves.

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I believe that connecting to a specific ideology has lost its value, if you want to use them to construct a fair society (i.e utopias). If one look at how the world has evolved during the last century, different countries using a variety of ideologies, one can see that none of them have ever been right everywhere all the time.

I think you should set up some core values that you really believe in – equality between the sexes, individual rights, economic growth and fair distribution etc - and then look at how your society live up to your values, and try to conclude which ideological standpoint serves best to reach your core values at that moment.

That is why I can never give myself up to a specific ideology – different kinds of problems needs different kinds of ideologies. If you look at Sweden in the beginning of the 20th century I believe that (democratic) socialism was the best ideology at that moment. You needed a strong and supporting state that believed in democracy to get rid of an obsolete society. The same I think goes for some African countries in the 60’s.

However, in Sweden in the late 80’s a strong and dominant state was the least thing that was needed. Sweden was at this time burdened by a very stale economy and it needed downsizing. So here a more liberal ideology was needed.

Right now, in Sweden in 2005, I think that probably social democracy or social liberalism is the best: we have some social problems which I think needs a fairly supporting state. But that might not be the case in ten years.

So my conclusion must be that all the ideologies have their advantages and disadvantages, and their specific time and place in society.

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My political as well as personal philosophy would be along the lines of a reluctant "realist".

By definition, this makes me an idealist, who has accepted the fact that when dealing with any sociological issue, that the "human" factor can not be fully compensated for, and the form of government control must be one that by whatever means necessary, is for the betterment of all of it's citizenship.

Vietnam fully demonstrated the animalistic and brutal behavior that man is fully capable of, and therefore demonstrated the control which any form of Government must have over it's populace to prevent such behavior.

This type behavior was even more evident when the Soviet Union ceased to control the populace of it's satellite countries.

Having observed a variety of world cultures; religions; and governments;, I have come to recognize that there is no single "best" form of government.

A society which has not developed to the extent beyond killing and raping members of their own citizenship merely due to religious differences, often must have an extremely "strong arm" form of government for control.

A government which is surrounded by foreign countries whose populations and governments are not friendly towards the specific country, must have a form of government which must eliminate potential attack from the foreign powers.

A society which is starving due to lack of persons who desire to be farmers, requires a government which, if necessary, dictates that one will be a farmer.

However, any form of government which does not foster and support the continued "initiative" for betterment of the individual, is not a government which has the welfare of it's citizens as it's core belief.

It is merely a means of control.

The first principal of any form of goverment is of course control of the populace. Thereafter, government, in whatever form, must work towards continual and progressive betterment for the individual.

The more complicated the ethnic; religious; and socialogical mixture of the citzenship of the country, the more complicated must be the government means in attempting to look after the welfare of ALL of this citzenship.

Virtually anyone could govern a society which consisted of only Zen Buddhists, or right-wing mennonites who forsake virtually all forms of human advancement.

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