When Minority Rights Go BadPosted by Jim Newman on August 6th, 2012 – Comments Off – Posted in religion
Post by Jim Newman
Martin Luther King noted the Bill of Rights was our most important document and should be hung on everyone’s refrigerator. I have to agree. While believing majority rule is best for the individual and group majority rule can become tyrannical. Especially when one considers how population dynamics can cascade from reactionary bias.
Excluding the minority Jewish vote, Hitler was elected by a 99% majority. Indeed, voting accuracy is still an issue in nearly all democratic countries. Even in the US, liberals and voting accuracy purists chaff at the theft of office by Bush and his cronies to Gore. In this sense, security of vote and the long chewed issue of free loaders in economic systems rise occasionally to the top of populist media. Additionally, cherished national values can be corrupted as immigration or ideologies, political memes, catch populist fire.
A founding minority rights issue in the US was religious tolerance. It was also in Israel, oddly enough, because the range of faith in acceptable Judaism ranges from full on atheism to insular orthodoxy. The Amish in the US and the Hassidim in Israel are both tremendously growing religions. Mostly because they encourage breeding like flies and families of 10, 12, or 14 are not unusual. This relates mathematically to the fear of immigration overrunning a country’s long cherished beliefs. Europe has become resettled by Muslims and the US, especially the west, chafes at Hispanic voting blocs and Hispanic culture. The rise of nationalism has often begun as rather simple and charitable ideological retention of long held successful ideologies.
In the US, the Amish are the fastest growing religion. Their promotion of plain living includes the disjunction from government welfare, education, and any government benefits whatsoever as well as regulations, and even voting or participation in the military. They simply wish to be left alone and they desire not to bother or be bothered by the larger world. They would like to live as an inert social cell within the larger organism the US.
However, as their population grows booth internal and external issues prevail. First their families outgrow the land available for economic stability and they must move or grow outside of geographic boundaries or they must leave home and culture and join the spiritual decadence of the US, and more importantly nonAmish communities where is is nearly impossible to live a plain life successfully.
In Israel the Hassidim and ultra orthodox have grown from approximate 500 to 50,000 in the last 60 years. The Hassidim believe the only good in life comes from studying the Torah, Yeshiva. Men must study as much as possible and the entire society is oriented to supporting this study. As such they do not care for family, do not work, and do not participate in outside society. They are an insular social cell that chafes at worldly contact.
The difficulty is becoming currently apparent in Israel where they refuse to fight or participate in military practice. Their utter sincerity in believing that prayer is the only military protection they need is quaint in the face of the wars Israel has suffered and the persecution Jews have and do receive at the hands of anti-Semites. Aside, from the political issue of Israeli nationalism, a country has to have a military force or must rely on the shock-sympathy value of insular but nationalized suicide as a means of gaining political, international traction.
The Amish as they grow and are forced to leave their neighborhoods and geographic boundaries have an inevitable effect on the world they wish to abandon. The houses they build which were only to be their own are then sold to those who expect building codes, zoning codes, and environmental regulations to have been followed.
Liberal democracy is the least able to deal with these issues as they are the most permissive, a noble, generous, and justified goal. Conservative democrats more readily purify themselves as they too share an exclusionism common to the rigidity of the insular groups or social cells to which they are reacting. What do we do?
A certain amount of slop in the system is fine in exchange for greater freedom. Every society decides when it is too much. At what point does an inert social cell grow enough to require remediation for the benefit of the organism supporting it? That’s my question of the day. I leave you to it while I put siding on a barn on a farm in a country where farms are becoming coporate conglomerates. Where pundits, boffins, and other so called experts note that scaling is economic survival, and freedom. Where entire counties, if not more, will be owned as a single farm and single crops raised as economically viable as possible. I bring up farms as they too are a social cell in the organism. When does capitalism and democracy fail?
How will the organism adapt? Will it over time absorb the cell like mitochondria and harness its energy producing capabilities while isolating its DNA or ideological meme generation? Will it become benign parasites like bacteria or even friendly bacteria? I don’t know and feel justified in saying I don’t know. As far as I can tell this has been the greatest question of civilization over time.
Jim Newman bright and well