Monday, August 29, 2016
Tradition vs Individual Freedom
(H1) I found a topic discussed in Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy highly interesting. Russel speaks of how, time and time again in history, when traditional moral restraints disappear the people are freed from subjective views on their personal morality, this leads to anarchy, politically, and socially, which, historically, led to subjugation. On the flip side of the coin, overly zealous and stringent religious tradition brings ossification. Death of the individual and science are ensue shortly after.
Russell’s observation on the conflict between religion and secular are astute and I think they may be applicable, maybe even prophetical, in today’s society. Much like a pendulum, the shift of focus from overzealous tradition to moderation to anarchist individualism swung through America. In the beginning the pilgrims had extremely strong religious ceremonial beliefs, but as our nation grew, more people with more ideas came. In 1776 great men of different theological beliefs came together to spark a political rebellion fought by the sword and pen. The perfect theological, yet skeptical era was in full swing, and it showed in the fruits of their labors. The United States of America rose to the top, all while swinging lightly toward freedom and self-indulgence, pushing tradition aside.
Today, American politics are seen as ridiculous worldwide. The Republican nominee for president is a lifelong democrat, running a campaign solely based on anger and restoring American tradition. While the Democratic nominee for president has been condemned and nearly convicted of sharing government secrets, and has had her hand in many shady political scandals. One would think we are in that state of Machiavellian politics that Russel explicitly speaks about, swinging dangerously close to anarchy and subjugation. Its even plausible that the tensions growing in the Middle East may culminate, creating a real adversary, in the event of an unfavorable political move by the American people, caused by the unstable political state, causing worldwide distress, and forcing many changes that would strip the individual right, bringing us back to the other side of the pendulum.