Clint Eastwood recently plunged into the murky political pond with his statement, "Extremism is so easy. You've got your position, and that's it. It doesn't take much thought. And when you go far enough to the right, you meet the same idiots coming around from the left."
Is it easy to be an extremist, and is the political scale truly circular, so that the "far right" clasps hands with the "far left"? Does the left-right continuum serve as a constructive paradigm upon which society can be structured?
Today's "extremists" are in good company: Jesus, Martin Luther, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Baruch Spinoza all bore this label at one time. Jan De Witt and his brother Cornelius-17th Century Dutch politicians-were hacked to death by the populace, largely due to their "radical" and "unsavory" political perspective. Their crime? They were proponents of democracy. Their body parts were displayed in storefronts all over town.
Who shall we call extreme? The vigilantes who did the lynching? The shopkeepers who showcased the body parts? Or the De Witts with their pro-democracy stance?
Do "extreme" beliefs emanate from a mechanical thought process, as Eastwood suggests, rather than an intense philosophical journey? It arguably requires reflection and hypercritical analysis to defend ones theories against the cloned, echoed and mass produced opinion of the common folk; it requires conviction to risk social ostracism and other forms of retaliation.
The "approved" or popular view is more likely to be perfunctory. Why think when one can plagiarize? Why go out on a limb when one can cling onto the tree or never climb in the first place?
Eastwood may view those on the "far right" and "far left" as moralistically shrill, as manifesting a tone level of fear and anger. Perhaps this is how the "right" and "left" overlap or come full circle in his mind. But this is a gross generalization, since the "extremes" are subjective and the political continuum fallacious.
Suppose we accept the commonly accepted paradigm of a left to right political continuum, as Eastwood offers. If we define the "left" as the group that protects the voiceless, the powerless, and the forgotten, then the natural progression would be to protect the truly voiceless ? animals and nature.
Nonhumans are excluded from our political system, without representation. They have no standing in court; yet corporations do. In fact, nonhumans are virtually omitted from the conversation in our anthropocentric and speciesist society.
A move "left" arguably means to move away from Democracy-?which is really just a rule by the elite (humans)-?to an Omniocracy (which I describe as a government of, by and for all living beings). The European Union has added nonhumans to their Constitution, as have Switzerland and Germany. New Zealand, India and Reggio Emilio, Italy have outlawed using animals in ways we normally think acceptable in the U.S. (boiling lobsters alive, keeping fish in small bowls, vivisection, etc.).
We are trailing behind other nations, but it would be difficult to sell a Constitutional amendment to our "What's the Matter With Kansas?" country at this time. It would be easier to convince certain states. You may be thinking what would stuffing a few extra words in a state Constitution really do. Well, words are a powerful tool and an important start.
Lastly, does this move to the left spit us out on right? Probably. One could argue that traditional "right" politics prompts a gap between the rich and poor, thus culminates in the rule by a few, such as corporations. To implement policies that foster the idea that nonhuman species have value "in and of themselves," a "top down" government or rule by a few (although not corporations) again seems required.
People are self-interested (as are all species) thus cannot be expected to vote against their desires. Legislators, however, are different (or should be) because they attain self-worth from helping others, being fair and inclusive, and consulting the "big picture." There will naturally be conflicts of interest between species and individuals; but government's job-in an omniocracy as in our current system-- will be to mediate and arbitrate these "disputes."
We are taught democracy is the most inclusive, just and beneficent political system in the world. It is time to re-evaluate. Successful ideas advance through three stages: first ridicule, then discussion, finally adoption. I say we begin the discussion to which Eastwood's words have provided a starting point.
The Clint Eastwood quote is posted on Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown's blog and is taken from Feb 28, 2005 issue of Time Magazine. Charlotte Laws explores this topic in greater depth on the blog.
Charlotte Laws, Ph.D. is a member of the Greater Valley Glen Council and the President of the League for Earth and Animal Protection (LEAP). Her website is http://www.CharlotteLaws.org
The No Child Left Behind can work if the Federal... Read More
With new environmental technologies and modern efficiency methods in mining... Read More
Nothing could be more alarming for Americans than what I... Read More
A Governmental commission, headed personally by the Prime Minister has... Read More
Many folks who are pro-NASA and Pro-Space Colonies say that... Read More
I just got done reading a series of articles dating... Read More
Tax Evasion has been used to criminalize many, Nixon did... Read More
I hear it all the time; you can't say that.... Read More
From the National Association of Realtors' Virtual Office Website policy,... Read More
Ok, here is what happened: On March 31, 2005, Pat... Read More
With the recent threats from Bin Laden and Al Queda... Read More
Introduction:Although politicians and so-called "Intelligence Experts" are the ones appearing... Read More
"When you are right you cannot be too radical; when... Read More
When you look at the news, immigrants are dying trying... Read More
California Attorneys and politicians are to blame for the energy... Read More
Bosnia-Herzegovina (heretofore "Bosnia") is an artificial polity with four, tangentially... Read More
The United States has enemies, which call the country the... Read More
Freedom is in the eyes of the beholder. In Communist... Read More
In today's Rants from Lance session I address the question... Read More
Ohio's transportation sector seems to be strong, even with Ohio's... Read More
With the recent shakeups in the presidential cabinet, it has... Read More
All UAVs Need a Self Destruct BLOS DeviceWhat do you... Read More
This brings to our consciousness, issues concerning the ever rising... Read More
The offshore financial centres have been forced in recent years... Read More
America has some monetary issues, which need to be addressed.... Read More
This is the beginning of the end for the man... Read More
The newest pebble reactors are easy to build and manage... Read More
City Governments is their quest for; "quality of life" often... Read More
Unions are angry at the high salary of the executives... Read More
The problem of poverty in America comes as a surprise.... Read More
Ever wonder why labor unions consistently endorse democrats over republicans... Read More
I heard on the news this week how America continues... Read More
We know that the International Terrorists like the idea of... Read More
We learned some lessons in these last few wars. For... Read More
Earlier this month, I heard President George W. Bush and... Read More
How much oil can travel through a pipeline? It depends... Read More
IT'S NO LONGER NEWS THAT CHINA IS BECOMING A MAJOR... Read More
The Republican Party became popular due to its view on... Read More
The resignation from cabinet yesterday, Sunday, by the Israeli minister... Read More
Hello! Happy new year. May you live a long healthy... Read More
On June 16, 1972, a security guard at the Watergate... Read More
Michael Moore asserts the following in his political film Fahrenheit... Read More
OH MAN!Here we go again. I guess now the "proof... Read More
In the event of that a threatening nation to the... Read More
Last week, the media coverage called the airplane crash in... Read More
If a farmer plants the same crop three seasons in... Read More
Many environmentalists are against roads through the forest because it... Read More
(Note: This article was written slightly before the 2004 election;... Read More
Commission for Africa (CFA), one is made to understand is... Read More
It is amazing how the Federal Trade Commission has destroyed... Read More