Thursday, July 01, 2010

A Dialectic Cosmopolis

Dialectics and Capitation
By John Taylor; 2010 July 01, Rahmat 10, 167 BE

Cosmopolitan Dialectics

Governance in the cosmopolis is based on formulas that factor in population and geographical distances. These determine where each center or local organization is erected. Such capitation also decides which jobs are essential, who pays them, and how much. This we called work by population, a cousin to the democratic principle of representation by population, which determines the size of an electorate and the number of their representatives.

Proportionality and representation go both ways, a politician, doctor or teacher represents those who elected her, but she also represents the entire human race. It is only fair, then, that in cases where it is difficult for an essential post to be paid by its own constituency -- for example a doctor responsible for islands in the Pacific Ocean, where patients are thousands of miles apart -- that her pay and expenses should come out of the coffers of the world government.

Of course the question what is essential work and what is not is extremely difficult, and has many philosophical ramifications. We talked about the arts, a case where arts in general are essential but where any given form or expression may not be. This quandary is part of the broader concept of unity in diversity -- which begs the question, what specifically is meant by "unity" and "diversity"? Plato called the science dealing with this "dialectics," which literally means discussion or conversation.

As Plato envisaged it, the science of dialectics is a way of attaining to the highest knowledge peripatetically, through regular, informal walks accompanied by directed conversations. This activity is not necessarily placid. Indeed, Plato's great teacher, Socrates, saw his role as a sort of gadfly, a bothersome biting insect whose bites force the slow, large and ponderous horse that is the state to move. Dialectic's object is to get the people out of a rut, to free us all from particularity and orient our worldview to the aspect of eternity.

"If what is said by the philosophers regarding the kinship of God and men be true, what other course remains for men but that which Socrates took when asked of what country he belonged, never to say I am an Athenian, or I am a Corinthian, but I am a citizen of the universe?" (Epictetus, quoted in Derek Heater, World Citizenship and Government: Cosmopolitan Ideas in the History of Western Political Thought. New York: St. Martins Press, 1996, p. 7)

Developing a generic human identity through dialectics will surely become an essential element of every cosmopolitan's education. Throughout their lives residents of hillside developments will work out their own search for truth by interacting with dialecticians. Comenius called this broadened outlook "pansophy," or universal philosophy, which he contrasted to the narrow, specialized knowledge that thrives in the Ivory Tower.

"... whereas popular philosophy flows along narrow channels of subtle speculation and serves but few people, Universal Philosophy adapts everything to the laws of common sense and will serve the cause of all men; and of its Use, as it applies to the whole Life of Man and all that he possesses under Heaven." (Comenius, Panorthosia, Ch. 11, para 3, p. 176)

More recent thinkers have called such thinking comprehensive design science or praxiology. Here we will simply call the science itself "dialectics" and its practitioners "dialecticians".

The profession of dialectician is the applied or clinical branch of philosophy. Unlike narrower knowledge, dialectics is holistic, concerned with creating wisdom and the many insights and virtues that enable wisdom to come about.

The dialectician is the founding mother of a new class of worker known as the wisdom worker. Whereas other knowledge workers deal with information and knowledge, the dialectician is concerned with the gleanings of all that: wisdom. Wisdom workers are tasked, among other things, with training and choosing members of the senate, the group of elders who anchor every level of cosmopolitan government.

As we shall see, dialectics play a pivotal role in virtually every other aspect of the cosmopolitan order. Today, let us discuss the role the dialectician plays in the Localized Broadcasting Cooperative.

Dialectics and Journalism

We already saw two examples of the sort of reality show that LBC media groups will sponsor. The first was a "show and tell" or "how to" program in which local experts, teachers and elders demonstrate how they used their drawing board (an idea processor attached to each resident's ROO mobile headquarters). A second television program demonstrates recent uses of the consultorium, a multi-user data interface for group planning located at the center of each household, block and neighbourhood.

Another large part of the media produced in a neighbourhood is entirely in the hands of the dialectician.

Dialecticians are writers, hosts and producers of an entire genre of LBC reality program featuring the fruits of their labour. There will be many such shows, each varying with the personality of the dialectician who runs it. Some names might be, "The Dialects Show" and "This Dialectic Neighbourhood," and so forth. These regular programs feature conversations, adventures and lessons learned by a member or members of the dialectics profession.

As mentioned, the chief political purpose of this show is to publicize changes in the consensus of opinion in a philosopher's capitated constituency. Once the body of received knowledge that most if not all residents agree upon is determined, policy makers know what they are dealing with. Other shows will have different purposes, be they religious, educational, scientific, or whatever.

If a contradiction arises between the opinions of groups or the ideas of institutions, the dialectician will strive to remove it. Failing that, she will try, using the tools in her dialectic tool chest, to reduce friction by lubrication or smoothing out rough edges. Clearly, the dialectician's work is crucial to governance and the democratic process.

The only other profession with anywhere near this level of prominence and influence is the journalist or broadcaster. Indeed dialecticians and journalists are so situated that they can work very closely together, often through exchanges and job sharing arrangements. This helps keep the philosophically trained dialectician's head out of the clouds and prevents hard-headed journalists from straying from social benefit, or getting cynical or losing perspective.

Like doctors and farmers, the job of journalists in a hillside development are deemed essential, and they work by capitation. Since dialecticians oversee capitation formulas, the fact that they work so closely with journalists allows them to correct the corruption that now plagues this profession, including false economies by owners, who arbitrarily reduce the number of reporters in news centers. They also help remove the insidious filters that, as explained by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky's Propaganda Model, have made news media into organs of propaganda and forced journalists to censor themselves as part of their job.


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