When Persons Or Groups Subvert Autonomy It’s Criminal

indian horseKODAKM~1

Commentary Concluded


Society, old and new, is comprised of distributive arrangements of power and burdens juxtaposed against the issue of scarcity. Spun from the union of these three elements comes the recognizable web of social arrangements that constitute any society. The nature and character of these social arrangements take on a particular order depending on the historical context of the society. In general, societies may be divided into needs based (tribes), rights based (Medieval Kingdoms), and rewards based societies (Capitalism).


In American society power and wealth cannot be separated. For instance, in Thomas Dye’s book Who’s Running America, we encounter a systematic study of the nation’s institutional elite, or the 77,3l4 elite positions which Dye calculated to control more than half the assets in industry, communication, utilities, insurance and banking, a picture of these people comes into view that reveals a select group of white, males (in the 7,3l4 positions their could be found only 20 blacks and 3l8 women), who are well paid and highly educated. The family background of 30% of these white, males reveals a family history of old money and great power, in other words, we are talking about the wealthiest class of families in America. 54% of the top corporate leaders in America and 42% of our top governmental leaders are alumni of just twelve well-known private universities. (Dye, 1990, p. 278). When we compare the wealth of these individuals to the wealth of the total population of Americans, we find extremely disproportionate amounts of money.


“Personal wealth in America is unequally distributed: The top fifth of income recipients,” according to Dye, “receives over 40 percent of all income while the bottom fifth receives less than 5 percent.” (1990, p. 276) Dye further informs us, “In recent years the average compensation–salaries plus bonuses–of CEOs of the nation’s corporations have jumped to approximately $1 million per year……with Michael D. Eisner, chairman of the Walt Disney Company receiving about 31 million; Jim P. Manzi, the 36-year-old chairman of Lotus Corp. taking home $26 million, and Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca settling for about $18 million.” (1990, p. 214) When you really sit back and think about the nature of the unequal distribution of wealth in America i.e., the 35 million poor and homeless people who have a tough time feeding themselves, you have to ask the question “why?” These statistics provided by Dye (in addition to a number of other sociological studies I could refer to), strongly suggest to me, that privileged positions of power and wealth are guaranteed by a social dynamic that most likely is driven by more than just lust for power and wealth.


This general idea follows from the predisposition of the self to become free from its own negative condition, — its environment. Gaining access to the environment, becoming more mobile, controlling, securing, — all of these “projects” represent the self’s accent toward more fulfilling autonomy, and the intelligent use of knowledge here speeds up that process. But (and this but looms large in the scheme of things), if this process subverts the autonomy of other persons or groups of persons then that behavior, at best, is unfair, and at worst, criminal. When it comes to achieving goals, using all available resources that coexist with positions of power and wealth is not merely advantageous, it’s immoral! In a complex society there are myriad ways for behaviors, motivated by power and greed, to impose needless burdens and harms upon others. When it comes to reevaluating appropriate from inappropriate behavior—when that behavior is based upon my proposed self-concept—a new perception, a more humane perception of the world, challenges the status quo, and to my way of thinking the more challenges to the status quo the better.

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Head Stuck In The Clouds, Sick, The Cure–Sex–Never Fails

Where Reason, Power, And Freedom Merge–Sublime

Future Time Continued

“I kind of liked that,” said MV. “For keeping you alive I finally get some

pay back. Not much mind you, but a little is better than none at all.”

“So what did you like? I replied. “All of a sudden I have an appreciative audience, you and Jim, I guess I’m on a role–cool. So what did you like anyway?”

“Do you have to ask?” sneered MV. “Of course I liked the part where reason was joined with power. I’m a hell of a handyman and that’s my bread and butter, the tools of my trade, as they say.”

“Don’t forget freedom,” I said, “that’s the most important part. Freedom, reason, and power are joined in the self.”

“Oh please, do you take me for a fool?” MV responded. “Freedom is the icing on the cake for me. Freedom is what makes my job satisfying. Pulling toy ducks from a bathtub, where’s the fun in that. Come to think of it, no more freedom–no more wet dreams. “

“Wait a minute, there’s more to this story then that,” I replied. “It’s not to pleasure you that freedom, reason, and power are brought together. Their pedigree is far more sublime than that. When taken collectively, as they are in the self, this event is as remarkable as it is delicate, some might even describe it as an exquisite happening. Actually, I’m not sure that the rest of this story will be to your liking. Do you want me to continue?”

“Oh yeah, try me, spin your story, hold my feet to the fire if you can,” said MV, “but be forewa
rned, whatever burns my feet only makes me stronger! I rise above everything. You cannot even imagine how important I am, so let’s hear it, I’m all ears.”

“It was Karl Jasper’s Idea to join Existenz (angst) with reason,” I said, “so I’ll start there, in the reason/Existenz connection. That relationship is not one of antithesis; rather it’s an interdependent connection. It’s like a two sided coin only in this case the sides are reason and Existenz. Jaspers’ says that the reason/Existenz connection is ‘a connection which at the same time points beyond itself.’ He even hints at what this ‘pointing beyond’ entails when he says: “Philosophy, whenever it is successful, consists of those unique ideas in which logical abstractness and the actual present become, so to speak, identical.’” (Jaspers, 1955, p. 49-50)

“Whoa, now I’m humbled. If there ever was such a thing as good philosophy, which I would argue there isn’t,” said MV, “then its got to be both present and abstract! That sounds like a disease to me, one not to be taken too seriously though, –head stuck in the clouds, sick, and the cure–sex. Never fails! What else you got?”

“I see you’re not really into this conversation,” I replied, “so instead of wasting my breath, why don’t we take a look at that other paper I wrote, the one that was rejected as a thesis topic by my advisor. I developed the logical component of self in that paper. Actually, I guess I should say that I simplified the X/Y form in that paper. Anyway, I wrote about Structuralism and before I finished I had merged logical abstraction with the immediate present. If Jaspers could have been my adviser I’m sure I would have at least got a at-a-boy pat on the back for that paper, if not the go ahead to turn the topic into a thesis.”

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