Social Theory

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by TylerDurden, Nov 1, 2004.

  1. TylerDurden

    TylerDurden Rookie

    Oct 31, 2004
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    The problem with society is that there is a society. My meaning in stating this is that, historically no society has ever not had problems, so there has to be some underlying reason as to why people can’t get along. This reason is stated very bluntly in the Bible when Paul says in the book of Romans chapter 3 verse 23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” In other words, people will never get along because they will always sin against each other.
    There are three works which I have studied. The first, de Toqueville’s Democracy in America, mainly describes the problem with society. The problem is that as a democratic society, Americans have floated away from each other, basically into a state of isolation. This state of isolation is completely opposite from the ideals of democracy and hence the problem. The second work, Taylor’s “The Politics of Recognition” offers a solution to this problem. He states that a society must accept a “Fusion of Horizons.” This solution is weak and will not work because of my theory that the problem with society is that there is a society. The third work, the movie Fight Club, trys to solve societies problem through violence and disruption of authority, such as the credit building bombings.

    In this paper I will explain the social problem as outlined by de Toqueville. De Toqueville argues that equality in a democracy can result in a loss of liberty through majority pressure, basically living outside of the box. After discussing de Toqueville’s theories I will then discuss Taylor’s solution to de Toqueville’s problem. Taylor’s solution is weak and therefore unviable. His “fusion of horizons” solution would never work because it would mean that every person on Earth would have to cooperate, something which has not happened since the dawn of time. The next part of my paper will address Durden’s solution. The outcome, anarchy, of this solution is a good way to solve the problem in that everyone could be their own little “society”, however Durden’s violent means of coming to this solution is unintelligent.
    In order to accept my argument you must accept that the Bible is truth. My argument is that because humans are, according to the bible, inherently evil and corrupt, there will always be problems. Although, as a Christian, you are supposed to promote good and attempt to help people to overcome evil, how often do you hear of a Christian doing such a thing? Christians are probably more introverted even than non-Christians. We want freedom from majority tyranny in government and society, however this is not possible. The reasons are that humans will never agree on a subject because we all think in different ways and because there is sin, humans will always have an agenda of their own. No two humans think alike, and therefore can never wholeheartedly agree.

    De Toqueville basically describes four themes throughout his book. The first is equality. According to de Toqueville equality is the mainstay of American life. This is evident throughout our history. The first example that came to my mind is the freeing of the slaves. Though the slaves were not given equality after being freed, they were free and therefore more equal to the populus. The civil rights movements of the 1960's and 70's can make a good example. The minorities fought for their equality during these movements. The people love equality. An example of inequality being imposed on a group of people also comes to mind. The treatment of the Indians as the frontier moved on was completely disgusting. They were forced to be the same, and to live on reservations which were little more than prisons. This treatment of the Indians is an example of tyranny of the majority. De Toqueville attempts to surmise how equality affects American life, in our religion, morals, laws, and politics. Americans as a whole love their equality, but some groups can sometimes be left out of the whole, which is part of de Toqueville’s problem.
    Another theme of de Toqeville’s work is liberty. His belief is that liberty is the freedom of every person to do as he or she pleases. This freedom is also a goal of equality. Therefore, liberty and equality are interconnected. This creates a problem though, in that liberty is not always a friend of equality. This is because that equality can sometimes oppress liberty. De Toqueville beleives that in democracy equality is the main goal, therefore, we are sometimes willing to sacrifice liberty for equality. An example is medicare. This is a government program that helps give people healthcare. Medicare enables people that are poor or in need to get healthcare that is equal to that of the majority of the population. This provides equality. However, these people on medicare have a sort of loss of liberty because they are not free to choose their doctors, brands of drugs, or place of living (in the case of a nursing home). De Toqueville recognizes that Americans love equality more than they do liberty. This relates to the problem in that because we love equality so much we can have majority tyranny, and thus some people will end up not experiencing liberty, be it through majority pressure, or government policy.

    Tyranny according to de Toqueville is the struggle between the equal majority and the people that want their liberty. One good example that I can think of is the Brady Bill. This bill signed by Bill Clinton outlawed certain types of assault weapons and high capacity magazines for rifles and pistols. This bill was demanded by the majority because of a rash of shootings that had occurred using assault weapons. This bill, however, imposes upon my liberty to own an assault rifle. I should be free to purchase any type of gun that I want according to the second amendment. Therefore, the government tyrannized me. Linkin Park presents another good example of majority tyranny in their song “Numb”. The lyrics go “I’m tired of being what you want me to be, feeling so faithless lost under the surface, don’t know what your expecting of me, put under the pressure of walking in your shoes, I’ve become so numb I can’t feel you there, I’ve become so tired so much more aware, I’ve becoming this (and) all I want to do, is be more like me and be less like you.” This song adresses de Toquevilles problem of majority tyranny because of equality in the lyrics “put under the pressure of walking in your shoes.” His meaning is that people are pressuring him to do something he doesn’t want to do, majority tyranny. It addresses the problem of loss of liberty in the lyrics “all I want to do, is be more like me and be less like you.” This song completly adresses de Toqueville’s problem of tyranny.

    The last theme of de Toqueville’s work is individualism. In this part of the book he discusses a problem which could be fatal to democracy, the fact that individualism contradicts the main themes of democracy. It does this in that in a democracy people are supposed to participate, to have a say, to vote, to form organizations. The individualism that de Toqueville views is completely different from this ideal. Individualism causes people to draw up into themselves and have only a few close friends, sort of the soft hand of democracy. De Toqueville was basically predicting the future here as in fact since de Toqueville’s time the participation of Americans in government has declined.
    Our democracy has led to rampant individualism and majority tyranny, but it is supposed to do exactly the opposite. In a democracy people are supposed to participate, but participation is down. De Toqueville does not understand the why of this problem. The why, though, is what many writers since de Toqueville have tried to figure out.
    Charles Taylor is one of those writers whom have tried to figure out the why. In his work, “The Politics of Recognition”, he poses the theory that our identities our formed by other people’s impression of us. He calls this dialogical formation of identity. He believes that formation of identity in this way leads to an inauthentic identity. He believes that this is very bad because you are no longer yourself. You behave in a way that others would like for you to behave. This belief is very true. How often do we see ads telling us what we need to be “cool” or to fit in? This is where de Toqueville’s work fits in his ideas of majority tyranny, and individualism are parallel to Taylor’s ideas of inauthenticity and mis-recognition. Majority tyranny fits with inauthenticity in that inauthenticity is caused by majority tyranny because of outside pressures we form identities that are not true to ourselves. Mis-recognition is a cause of individualism. We as individuals do not want to risk being mis-recognized for something.

    Taylor separates people into two different political groups with regard to how they treat others. One is the Politics of Equal Dignity. This idealism is that all people should have equal right, and therefore equal dignity. The problem with this is that it has a tendency to force people into an unnatural mold of homogeneity. The other idealism is the Politics of Difference. This is the idea that different culture groups should be separated and treated differently according to their culture. The problem with this, however, is that it is biased and can cause people to be unequal. Equality is the goal though. So the two ways of thinking according to Taylor rebuke each other.
    The way Taylor proposes to solve this problem is weak. He poses that a “fusion of horizons” must be reached. This would solve the problem of mis-recognition and inauthenticty, however it would never happen. People inherently evil according to the Bible, as I have already pointed out. Therefore people will always find another culture to be either better than or less than their own culture. We have seen this throughout history with the Nazis and Jews, Jews and Palestinians, Muslims and Catholics and so on. While his idea of creating new vocabularies of comparison to talk about different cultures is good, it will never work because humans are too used to the status quo.

    The movie “Fight Club” also offers a solution the problem of inauthenticity. Tyler Durden, a multiple personality of a man named Jack, forms a club, fight club. Tyler is created in Jack’s mind because of Jack’s longing to be different. He is surrounded by things from the Ikea catalog because he thinks that he should buy these things because everyone else does, hence, majority pressure. He is also surrounded by what he calls single serving friends. These are friends that he will meet once in his life and never see again, much like you would use a single serving sugar pack. These friends are bad in that he never really gets to know them, hence leading him to rampant individualism, and madness. This is the problem posed by de Toqueville. Jack starts his club out of the need to take out his rage on someone, the need to release from the real world. His club though soon turns into a kind of gang known as “Project Mayhem.” The goal of this gang is to basically destroy things. Durden is the group’s leader. He comes up with the idea to destroy credit card company buildings in order to destroy the debt record and bring everyone back to a clean slate again. This in his mind would restore authenticity to individuals and allow them to be free of the worries of the outside world, allowing them to be themselves. This also is a good solution, though utterly unviable because of the violence.
    My theory is that humans must isolate themselves totally to be free of majority tyranny, to have equality, to have liberty, to be individual. This is what I mean by the problem with society is that there is a society. My solution would mean anarchy. No government to tell you what to do when to do it. We would be like our own sovereign states, each individual alone never having contact with anyone. This is the only theory that would solve the problem. However, my solution is unviable as well because if we were to never have contact with anyone, we would go mad, and probably end up killing ourselves. So, there is no solution to the problem.

    De Toqueville gives us an outline of the problems with society. We want our equality so we sacrifice liberty, which can lead to majority tyranny and a rampant individualism. Taylor attempts to solve this problem with the “fusion of horizons” in that if we were to see eye to eye in a sort of fusion, we would be equal and have our liberty and be free from majority tyranny. Durden seeks to destroy the debt record in order for everyone to be equal. All three works which I have studied deal with social issues, and none of them come out with a viable solution to the problems. My theory is that there is no possible solution, and to spend more time worrying about that solution, rather than pursuing happiness, is absurd.

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