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The Alpha and Omega of Philosophy


The Alpha and Omega of Philosophy

Earlier this year a controversy over the concept the "general interest" (also called, more ominously, the "general will") erupted. Well, my esteemed opponent, Mr. Claret has put forward some more comments and explicitly asked for a reply. I can't refuse; I just have to answer back.

In what follows, his remarks are in French, mine in English. It is hoped that most readers understand enough of those languages to follow along and enjoy a chuckle or at least a grin from time to time.

A copy of the French original email without my replies can be found at this link. Here you can read or reread the tract that started the debate and how it went on this tract.

Au point 4, "General Interest and Colonel Dividend"
J'ai lu la revue GRASPE évoquant votre précédente analyse "patronale", et surtout a-européenne, à propos de la notion d' "intérêt commun".…

Reply 1)
As for the accusation of being "patronale" analysts; coming from a veteran BEPA worker that is so rich.

The "a-européenne", if translated literally to mean a-european is as close to the truth as you come. The EU Treaties, Protocols and Conventions are already vast and complex. Then there are the famous 80000 pages of accumulated legislation and the precedents set by the EU courts. I have yet to meet a self-proclaimed "anti-European" or a "pro-European" who has gotten to the bottom of this ocean of text. I stay away from extremes by opposing those EU initiaves I think wrong, supporting those that I agree with, and ignoring the rest which seem irrelevant to me. That's what citizens are for. The interests of an Australian worker are as important in my book as those of his Austrian colleagues. In a globalized economy we workers can no longer afford the luxury of nationalism. My value system includes compassion for and solidarity with anything living that has a mind. I will not limit my focus to human beings living on the northern subcontinent of the great Eurasian landmass. If respecting the equal value of humans (and other life forms) across the islands, subcontinents and continents makes me "a-european" then I am proud to be.

...Je partageais l'analyse de GRASPE avant de lire votre absence de réponse à cette analyse.
Je partage encore plus cette analyse de GRASPE après avoir lu la réaction du SID...
Pourquoi "absence de réponse" de votre part?

Reply 2)
Telling people that their replies are really non-replies just makes a complicated discussion that much more difficult. Besides, if SID's reply is so far below your contempt, then why do you enter the discussion? Boredom? Compassion? Masochisme?

D'abord parce que le mépris dont témoignent le tract initial du SID et son articulet "General Interest" est typiquement....insulaire (*),..

Reply 3)
The i-word comes up a total of 7 times in your reply . Will deal with that once, after the final occurrence.

et parce qu'il conduit à poser une question simple: pourquoi entrer dans la Fonction Publique Européenne si l'on n'adhère ni à ses objectifs, ni à sa "raison d'être"?

Reply 4)
When were you crowned Emperor of the Holy European Empire? Who gave you the right to impose your views of the EU's objectives and of its reason to be on other people? Not I. In a more perfect world you might be the supreme ruler, but in this one I think for myself.

Like most people everywhere, I am not a billionaire. So I must work for the money. Is that okay? And please forgive me for having passed competitive civil service exam. Is it my fault that they made the questions so easy?

I have as much right to work here as you have. The difference is just that I do not call yours into question.

Il y a là une forme d'escroquerie morale...typiquement insulaire (*): qu'en pensez-vous?

Reply 5)

I'll get around to the i-word, just read on.

Ensuite, parce que "l'intérêt commun" ne se décrète pas: il s'identifie en commun avant de se concrétiser sous forme de Marché unique, d'espace Schengen, de règles communes de défense des consommateurs européens, etc, etc.
L'intégration européenne est un processus, l'intérêt commun également….
Tout ceci, les écrits du SID affectent de l'ignorer ou le méprisent…souverainement: malhonnêteté intellectuelle? loyauté "externalisée" à des fins..insulaires (*) ? Une clarification serait bienvenue.

Reply 6)

The "general interest" cannot be established by a governmental decree? Agreed. "(The general interest) is identified communally before being concretized? …"? My reply is a stream of counter questions. Who, when, where, identifies Europe's' general interest? Above all; how? Saying that it is somehow a "process" just adds to my doubts.

So, no I am not being intellectually dishonest. What about you?

Is my loyalty externalized? You bet. There are billions upon billions of living, thinking, suffering beings on this planet alone. Not just on the islands though, also on the continents and subcontinents, everywhere, really.

C'est cela qu'a exprimé le Président Van Rompuy, par ailleurs traité de "serpillière" au Parlement européen par un autre insulaire (*)…

Reply 7)
Wikipedia lists 113 populated European islands. If you don't want to give away the wo/man's name, at least say which island you are referring to. How am I supposed to guess what you mean without getting a clue? You do have a clue what you're talking about, don't you?

C'est cela aussi qu'a exprimé la revue GRASPE, en rappelant en outre que la notion d' "intérêt commun" est d'autant plus difficile à définir et à concrétiser que l'ensemble concerné est vaste et disparate…comme la Fédération indienne de 1,2 milliard d'habitants et de diverses communautés religieuses et linguistiques, par exemple.
En soulignant en outre que la difficulté ne rend l'enjeu ni inutile ni irréalisable.

Reply 8)

No disagreement here.

Pourquoi tant de mépris de votre part, de la part d'un syndicat dit "européen" de surcroît, à l'égard du processus d'intégration européenne?

Reply 9)
What came across as "contempt" to you was only intended as sarcasm about texts that are written as though the draftsman thinks Jean Jacques Rousseau was the first, best, last and only philosopher. This is incredibly silly because Rousseau fled from France to England to escape royal persecution and stay with his buddy, David Hume. According to Wikipedia Hume was a second philosopher. Imagine that; two whole philosophers! Then there's this funny guy in Frankfurt who published a book called "Europe the Faltering Project" in 2009. Goes by the name of Jürgen Habermas. There's a bunch of Germans who think he is a philosopher.

Seriously, between the run-up to 1789 and the year 2010, dozens of major thinkers have published essays and monographs on Europe. A text that brushes all of them aside, save one, is mistreating a lot of smart people who thought long and hard about Europe.

There is a vital difference between imagining that collective democratic decisions are found and knowing that they are made. What is made by fallible humans can be un-made and remade in a better way as circumstances change or people learn from mistakes. But a correct decision that was discovered somehow will look sacrosanct for too long in a changing world, letting Europe fall behind.

C'est une bizarrerie…insulaire (*), à laquelle la majorité des membres de la Fonction publique européenne n'adhère pas.

Reply 10)

If SID was looking to win over big majorities in a short time we would certainly begin by agreeing with everything that the majority currently believes. It's called flattery and it works 99%+ of the time.

(*) Il va de soi que la notion d'insularité employée ici est ici purement symbolique et ne comporte aucune référence… géographique, of course !

Reply 11)

Let's get real. Up to here one might have pretended that mean some of Europe's 113 populated islands. The very last two words show that you are openly referring to an Anglophone island. You have already given the Irish a talking-down-to for their failure to vote as BEPA wanted, so if there is anything clear in you writing, it is that you refer to the United Kingdom .

Well, I don't have a problem with that. You see, the truth about me is even worse than you imagined; my father was from the US, not the UK. He was one of those GIs who stayed in Europe after WWII. My mother was German, that is why they let me take part in the competitive civil service exam and later hired me.

Seven oh-so-witty references to my supposed "insularity"; all gone to waste due to ignorance about the facts.

NB- Soyez assez "fair" de publier mon commentaire et de donner le site de la revue GRASPE, pour que vos lecteurs se fassent eux-mêmes une opinion sur ce qui y est écrit.
A moins que le "fair play" ne soit qu'un produit d'exportation... peu consommé sur le marché insulaire local?

Reply 12)

What, you know a third and a fourth word of English? That is awesome.

You ask for it, I'll give it to you. Here is the link to GRASPE .

When we indulge ourselves in pointing out the weakness in things published by other staff associations and unions, we tend to concentrate on their silly pseudo-arguments, but never on their persons. This is to avoid bitterness which could stand in the way of cooperation on other issues where there is agreement.

That very last sentence of yours can be read as a racist putdown of 60.000.000 British people. What else could it mean?

Suppose that I write a similar text, poking a lot of bad-natured fun at the 60.000.000 French. Well, it isn't happening because I know too many French people on a first-name basis and some of them google me from time to time. People like Serge, Fuhad, Nil, Elodie, Jeremy and others might doubt my internationalist credentials.

There is a long tradition of cooperation between the ultra left on both sides of the Channel that goes back to 1792 and even to 1651 .

We all make the choice between chauvinistic support for those plutocrats who speak our language and solidarity with those who work for their money, no matter where they live and what they speak.

Best Regards,

Michael Ashbrook

Created by: admin last modification: Friday 27 of August, 2010 [10:18:50 UTC] by admin

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