Monday, May 30, 2005

What goes around

I just had the odd experience of having one of my own theories promulgated back to me. Debating during college has skewed my view of persuasion. I'm used to arguing anything with anybody with the expectation that people will not take me terribly seriously. Being taken seriously has happened only once before, when I took part in a demonstration debate (college debate teams are always trying to drum up new members) on Martin Luther King Jr. day on the topic of "The Civil Rights Movement is Over." I argued that we had done all we could in regards to civil rights--we've removed the laws that are discriminatory on their face and even attacked laws that are administered in biased ways. Thus what remains are not civil rights, rights enforced by society, but personal, private beliefs. After that debate I was approached by a half a dozen people telling me that they agreed completely.

Anyway, what made this incident especially unusual is that it came back to me second hand. I had not only created a theory, but had it passed on. The theory is that, as meaning (purpose) is lost in an organization, it is replaced by ceremony. This works positively as well, since gaining a purpose reduces ceremony.

The best illustration of this is the military, which works through cycles of importance. The ceremony associated with the military, the spit-and-polish, close order drill (do we still do this?), etc., rapidly dissolve during wartime, leaving only those quasi-ceremonial features which serve other purposes. Religious organizations follow the same pattern--liberation theologians do not build cathedrals.

1 Comments:

Blogger Noumenon said...

I argued that we had done all we could in regards to civil rights--we've removed the laws that are discriminatory on their face and even attacked laws that are administered in biased ways. Thus what remains are not civil rights, rights enforced by society, but personal, private beliefs.

Kevin Drum recently asked his commenters, "if you could pass any single piece of federal legislation related to civil rights, what would it be?" A lot of people agreed with you, but the best answer I saw was, "End the war on drugs."

3:31 AM  

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