Social Criticism

Social Criticism


Moral Dilemmas and Moral Hypocrisy: Politics in 2020

hypocrisy February 7th, 2020

Moral hypocrisy – basically making an exception of oneself when it comes to behavior that is wrong – is deeply embedded in political conservative ideology, in my opinion. In a written piece entitled “Why we are all moral hypocrites – and what we can do about it”, researcher Jared Piazza, who looked into morality, highlights the following: “In one study, we had people consider which traits they rate highest in people who occupied different roles in their life – from staff at the grocery counter to teachers, judges and parents. Moral traits, such as being honest, fair and trustworthy, were valued more than other traits, such as being sociable or intelligent, across these roles. We have also found that people with a moral failing are typically seen in a more negative light than people lacking other traits.” In this blog, I wish to think about politics in light of moral hypocrisy, inconsistency, bias, and a crass kind of moral reasoning that, not surprisingly, can be called quid pro quo.

Read More

Critiques of Capitalism (Part 1)

critiques of capitalism January 30th, 2020

This blog is based on a paper entitled: Critiques of Capitalism. It is one of five parts in a series that takes a long, hard look at the economic system we have in modern America. Whether it goes by the descriptor free-market capitalism, laissez-faire capitalism, neoliberalism, classical liberalism, libertarian economic philosophy,  or its illegitimate children – crony capitalism, supply-side economics, or trickle-down economics – the economic theory that America is based on has a long, significant, storied past. Here is the introduction to the paper, Critiques of Capitalism:

Read More

What Do We Deserve? Moral Desert & Entitlement

moral desert January 21st, 2020

What does a person – let’s confine it to Americans in this blog – deserve? In philosophy, it is termed moral dessert. That is, as a member of society, what rights does one have to goods and benefits and opportunities? Contrast dessert (sometimes spelled desert) with entitlement – the rights one has based on law, contracts, and agreements. In this piece, I want to dilate on this topic, and to that end, will share a brief discussion a friend and I had. You may not be surprised to learn that I take a generally liberal position, and my friend, a fairly libertarian one. I am more likely to see, optimistically, that people deserve opportunity, chances, and help from society at large (i.e., the institutions of government and associated social welfare provisions). You can expect, of course, to see apt quotations brought to bear on the dialogue.

Read More

Realpolitik: The “Unwisdom” of Assassinating an Iranian General

realpolitik January 6th, 2020

Iran is a “bad actor”, I am completely up-front about. The arch-villain Solemani, whom Trump had assassinated a few days ago, was indeed a rotten apple. This is coming from a Jewish-American who has paid a fair amount of attention to politics, geopolitics, and war in the last 25 years. This blog is about the utter unwisdom of poking a bear in the eye for what amounts to no clear, justifiable reason. I don’t exactly consider myself a “dove”, but I certainly am skeptical of Republicans hatching Middle East operations (to be read in the cadence of “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts“).

Read More

America Desperately Needs Truth, Wisdom, and Critical Thinking

truth, wisdom, and critical thinking December 16th, 2019

America has a boat-load of problems. To open a newspaper any day of the week is enough to discourage anyone. Partisanship has reached nearly-fervid proportions. I fear we have little hope of seeing the forest for the trees when 45% of Americans don’t think Donald Trump should be tried in the Senate! Indeed, Trump may be the grotesque manifestation of a country that is sick, but the origins of what ails us are older than the huckster in the White House. What does this have to do with values? Truth, wisdom, and justice are not values that one can expect to apprehend if one sits around watching Fox News, “America’s Got Talent”, and football. If we want to improve, to thrive, to avoid disaster, the road is a tough one – much tougher than a trope such as “Liberals have been causing the decay of American society for decades now!” or “The most important thing in 2020 is to remove Donald Trump from office!”

Read More

America’s Wars: Same Inhumanity and Lies, Different Decade. 

December 10th, 2019

Noted social critic and historian, Howard Zinn, pointed out that, “Indeed, when the [Vietnam] war was studied years later, it was clear that no rational decision based on any moral principle had led the nations into war. Rather, there were imperial rivalries, greed for more territory, lusting for national prestige, and the stupidity of revenge.” Though Abraham Lincoln knew the gravity of a civil war, he also used soaring rhetoric at times to characterize the nobility of the side wearing blue: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in.” When looked at in an objective sense, war is almost never justified, and yet in America, is appallingly repetetive. It’s like, Same inhumanity and lies, different decade.  This is especially true now, as new information has come to light that American presidents all knew the war in Afghanistan couldn’t be “won”, and yet it is to-date the nation’s longest-lasting war. 

Read More

Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic

I feel like in much of my own life, and when I reflect on my country, what I and we seem to be doing is for naught; we are not changing course toward safer waters, we are merely rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic November 29th, 2019

Full disclosure: I am in one terrible mood. It is the day after Thanksgiving, and, ironically, I am feeling bereft of positivity. You see, my remaining family (father is deceased) is absolutley obsessed with vaccines. The sun rises and sets with what the State of California is or is not doing, what the Internet is abuzz about, what the crisis du jour is vis-a-vis mandated childhood vaccinations. This is horrible enough, especially in light of the fact that it reflects my childhood/family issues so hauntingly and uncannily precisely. However, it is just part of my angst. The backdrop for my family dysfunction, its anxiety, and its mental illness writ large is the fact that I fear that the ship of this Republic is steaming headlong toward an iceberg. Much of what I seem to do, think, or hope about, according to this metaphor, is akin to simply rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, as it were.

Read More

What Happened to America’s Heroes?

American's heroes October 11th, 2019

What happened to America’s heroes? True, we have television shows now that elevate someone as a crafty and lucky game show contestant, a dexterous modern ninja, or a brave kid with astounding talent. As I write, the Trump scandal about Ukraine is unfolding. I turned off the television when he alluded to capital punishment for the folks in the White House who were implicated as informants on his repetitive, unpatriotic scandals. Frankly, the most we tend to see about this abomination of an Administration are anonymous opinion pieces in a newspaper, folks being forced to resign for not toeing the line, and occasionally someone will sort of allude to the fact that they left the Administration because they weren’t seeing eye to eye with Trump. Where are the heroes who stand up and say they will not accept scandalous, unethical, and outrageous behavior on the part of the President?

Read More

The Wise Would Uniformly Call for Trump’s Ouster

"The wise" on Donald Trump October 7th, 2019

I am sick to DEATH of Donald Trump. I knew he was a disgrace to this country when he first threw his slimy hat in the ring (in 2015). And it has been virtually nothing but downhill since. There are a couple of things he has done that were “standard, prudent, proper, patriotic” but mostly it is throwing red meat to his base, defending his ego, and enriching himself and his friends. It’s really worse than predicted to be – which is saying a lot! There is no wisdom in continuing down this same path of obfuscation, autocratic maneuvering, dark political machinations, and utter abrogation of wholesome values. And yet, today, one of the most repugnant and ludicrous statements I have ever read (and I have read a lot!) came out of his Twitter-addicted thumbs: “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off-limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).” I have been studying wisdom for quite some time, and I can assure you, dear reader, this man possesses less wisdom than most adolescent males. My thesis is that the wise would uniformly call for Trump’s ouster. I can say this with absolute confidence, based on what I know of “the wise” (as esoteric and ethereal as that concept may be). By the wise I am referring to wisdom incarnate; those who are in possession of uncanny wisdom, if you will).

Read More

Why Are Elite Students So Emotionally Fragile?

September 27th, 2019

I earned a certificate in philosophy and ethics from Harvard University Extension in the last couple years. So I am on the campus-wide mailing list. I received a slightly odd email the other day, and it reflects on issues such as elite colleges and universities, political correctness, hate, homogeny and heterogeneity, character, personal development, life lessons, and what the real world is like.

Read More