Horses and wagons in a circle

I Am “The Other”

I am marginalized.


I am a victim.


I am the “other” who serves a singular purpose for the majority:  the feeling of moral superiority to assuage their stagnant lives.


We’ve seen this before, so many times in history and, sadly, it still plays itself out today.  It is a fundamental part of the human condition and until the Second Coming, the Great Singularity, or the arrival of the Xenons, we are doomed to repeat this drama again and again.  The Founding Fathers recognized it too; they put in some safeguards, but, unfortunately, I feel those rails are being dismantled as we speak.


Looking at our own troubled history with slavery, we see a unique social dynamic that took place in the South:  two-pronged elitism.  


The first prong is made up of a ruling class.  Their portions in society are, by definition, precarious.  They require some form of a mandate to extract power from the masses.  The easiest way to accomplish this is by forming a culture.  As I have mentioned before, a culture requires two essential components.  First, there needs to be a common language; second, there needs to be a perceived existential threat to the culture.  Without the ever-present threat to cultural dilution, the “culture” is really nothing more than a collection of hobbyists.  When that threat emerges they circle the wagons to fight off the “others”.  Membership in the culture is the use of that common language.  It is, in effect, the “membership card” that each adherent uses to proclaim they are part of the club.


In the Antebellum South there was a definitive cultural identity.  The language spoken and the accent heard was unique and geared towards perpetuation of an established class system.  For the second prong, the South needed to find that existential threat.  They found it in the abolitionist movement, then the entirety of the North.  Ever present throughout their reign, though, was an internal existential threat:  blacks themselves. 


Derision of blacks helped maintain social controls of the elites in the South.  They created an animating principle for continued existence of the Mandarine Class.  They also released an inherent tension between them and the other end of the social spectrum:  the rest of the culture.  


Poor whites had nothing of material value for the Mandarine Class.  They were poor, they were uneducated, they were bores at parties, and the Mandarines certainly did not want to socially interface with them.  But they did have one thing that was quintessentially important for the Mandarines’ continued existence: en masse political clout.


Treat them wrongly and the political careers, and, by extension, lifestyles of the Mandarine Class would come to an abrupt end.  Hence, the Mandarines needed to keep the hoi polloi happy.  They were not empowered to really give them anything… but they did have something they could foster among them: membership in the elite majority.


The poor white farmer might not have much, but he did have one thing:  he wasn’t black.


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The Nazis did essentially the same thing.  This time “blacks” were replaced with Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, et al.  


What we see in California (and for that matter, the rest of the United States and many places in the “civilized” world) is something, sadly, similar.  Now, instead of race, color, or gender, the Mandarine Class uses political philosophy to create a marginalized class.


During the recall I saw invectives being offered by people who were supporting Governor Newsom.  They were not really supporting the Governor, they were deriding the opposition to the Governor.  


These screeds being screamed at proponents of the recall usually involved the term Republican as a word of abject derision.  


For Republicans are rubes, fools, uneducated, Trumpian, anti-vaxxers, are they not?  They have this fetish for individual liberty, they own guns, they listen to country music, and they are jingoistic.  They are all white males!  (When they are not, then they are simply apologists for all white males.) 


Republicans, Conservatives, Libertarians, Classical Liberals… they are all “The Other”.  


I witnessed a discussion between two people online.  One was a college professor of philosophy (Conservative), the other a college drop-out (Liberal) who has been couch surfing for the last few years and living off of COVID Relief for the last year.  The Liberal ended the conversation by calling the Conservative an “F-ing idiot Republican fascist”.  


He is on that “other end” of the ruling social class spectrum.  He may be a loser in life’s intellectual and financial lottery, but he has one thing going for him: He is not a Republican.


The Founding Fathers were deeply concerned about the tyranny of the majority over the minority.  To that end they recognized rights that were immutable.  Regardless of which faction held the controls of government, there were certain sacred points of contact with individual citizens that were fundamentally off limits.  


If the majority decided that Judaism was to be banned, they simply could not do it.  The First Amendment took that odious policy choice off the table.  


The Bill of Rights is on life support right now.  Both Republicans and Democrats have sought to obviate, or in many instances, completely eliminate the rights it recognizes. 


Without that adherence we are doomed, not just as a country… but as a people.

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Comments (8)

  • Robert H. Colgrove Reply

    Extremely well said, Stephen!

    And sadly, very true.

    09/22/2021 at 07:41
  • Florin Reply

    Can I repost it?

    09/22/2021 at 08:08
    • Steven Lieberman Reply

      Of Course!

      09/22/2021 at 10:13
  • Jeff Bland Reply

    A sad but true commentary on the current “state of affairs”. I would like to believe that we will work through this rough period and come out a stronger nation for it, but I question that more and more everyday.

    09/22/2021 at 10:26
    • Olaf Kilthau Reply

      All good things come to an end! The questions are: When? How will it come about? What will I do to to prepare for it?

      09/22/2021 at 12:50
  • Robert Hagler Reply

    So true. The past year(s) have been very troubling. It is forever the conservatives and republicans who “break away” from their own party to help the democratic agenda (Is this just the kindness of the heart? or the foolishness of the mind?). Rarely, do the conservatives stay together as the liberals do. The democrats know this and they own it. I keep asking; when will conservatives wake up? (They probably won’t because they actually don’t have the “street smarts” of the democrats – yet anyway) It seems that on capitol hill, the conservatives in the senate and the congress are disjointed, just doing their own thing. Never have I seen them ALL together, in unison, telling their American constituents that they are working for them. (Many suit wearing conservative leaders just don’t understand what is happening on the streets of America [re: senators and congress persons] – my opinion!). Sorry if I have delved too deeply into political territories. It is because I love this country.

    09/22/2021 at 11:04
  • Jim Stroffe Reply

    Nice abstract essay on contemporary tribalism, identity politics or whatever you want to label the crux of the divisiveness permeating nearly all of our social and interpersonal interactions today. What it is however, is not nearly so important a question as why it is and even more important is how to eliminate or overcome it (assuming you think it is a bad thing).

    Proponents of the philosophical belief in immutable individual rights as laid down in the Bill of Rights would no doubt argue it is a bad thing and that only by adhereing to the fiction of immutable individual rights can we save society from doom. There is another school of thought that would support divisivness as a means of securing and/or retaining power. Obviously, the more factionalized your opposition is the the more diffused its power base becomes. And, coincidentally the less concerned the so called manderins need be with the security of their positions. All they require to sustain their elite position is the power to create and control the narrative by surpressing contrary facts and dissenting opinions. In that way they can persuade the factionalized masses to follow them with massive doses of misinformation, factual suppression (censorship), fear mongering, prevarication, and when all else fails, brute force.

    Adherence to the philosophical belief in immutable individual rights as laid down in the Bill of Rights has become passe. Rights depend on power. Without the power to enforce the right, the right ceases to exist. Power today depends on control of information. Spoiler alert, our leaders are not (and maybe never were) altruistic. Nor are they guardians of independent thinking or paragons of virtue. No, they are opportunists, propagandists, hypocrites, liars, and morally bankrupt authoritarians interested only in securing and retaining power.

    We (the masses) have lost the plot somewhere along the line. We have empowered the ruling class beyond the tipping point. We no longer possess the skills of logical reasoning, rational thought, and empirical analysis and no longer value self-reliance; these have been supplanted by indoctrination, group think and social media mania along with government reliance. We have surrendered control over the narrative to the manderines and we are content to fight among ourselves over the issues they dish out based on the misinformation they supply.

    We are not doomed because our so-called fictional imutable rights are being eroded. If we are doomed, it is because “we” are content to be treated like mushrooms and because huge numbers of “us” prefer government-reliance to self-reliance and because we take the bait to identify ourselves and others among us on a micro-faction rather than macro-faction level and have no ability to reason our way to the logical consequence of these choices. We have allowed the so called “power of the people” to be difused to the point of total emasculation. Here’s hoping that our dictators are benevolent!

    09/22/2021 at 11:52
  • Jerry Schammel Reply

    I liken the Bill of Rights to be similar to the 10 Commandments. Immutable, eternal, God given. Adherence to these principles keeps us on the right track. Rejection moves our society off the path and throws us into chaos and uncertainty.

    09/22/2021 at 12:32

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