Saturday, January 5, 2008

The People

I just reread my post from yesterday (IOWA!) and was disturbed by how many times I used the phrase the people. Quite a few. The fact that the employment of this phrase was used in analysis of a perceived political mood makes things worse. Perhaps what I should've said was some people want change.

What I was trying to indicate in my post on the Iowa caucus was a bias of mine that individuals--while certainly subject to varying degrees and types of trends and social suggestions--are not simply cogs in a machine awaiting some larger force to press a button and set things in motion, but rather free agents, along the lines of what can be found in the writing of Sartre. I was happy that there are good movement type people out there who are willing to buck an established line for something that better suits their taste, or articulates their own hopes and desires in relation to political change, in the face of their respective establishments.

There are certain things that you can generalize across the face of humanity, but they are primarily biological things. There are more abstract sounding things--like the preference of society to solitude--that can also be generalized, but they too are relatively biological/logical in nature, the roots of which can be set in the soil of evolution theory.

We may accept all of Maslow's hierarchy, but when we get higher up on the list we must begin to add asterisks and footnotes. Maybe man's ultimate goal is self-actualization, but what form that actualization will take varies wildly from person to person as it meets the definitional requirements of the term. Nietzsche's quote that 'There are no facts, only perceptions' is applicable to the things of this higher order, where mankind will define meaning and the dynamic relationship between beings and values in the terms of their own hodge podge of created and borrowed mythologies through the lense of their perceptions.

All this to say I am as skeptical of people who claim to speak for the masses as I am of blanket critiques and analyzations of them. To say what one would do if one was the ruler of the world is different than saying whether or not those things would be what the world 'needs', if it needs anything at all. By observing a 'change' vote in Iowa, I am merely expressing pleasure that a political trend seems to be moving in a direction I would like it to go. It's not within my scope to say this perceived trend is what the people need. There is only one way to know 'the people' that is even remotely accurate, and that is one by one.

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