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The Resistance and What It isFor

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Professor Beverly Gage at Yale wrote for the New York Times Magazine for February 3-5 a "curious" essay about the Resistance. "https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/31/magazine/a-resistance-stands-against-trump-but-what-will-it-stand-for.html" Her essay is "curious"

because Dr. Gage seems to be simply curious about what the new anti-Trump Resistance might want--as what do they want the course of American history to be, to look and feel like?

The essay is curious, too, because Yale and Columbia among other seats of higher education have been called the intelligentsia of the Progressive political elite. One must wonder, then, why then would they bother to ask what we stand for? Is this their way of expressing contrition for being overweening in the past and "flying over" substantial sectors of the economy and its people they proposed themselves to represent?

And, it is a curious essay also because whether contrite or not the current Resistance seems to her, at least, to be not much more than a "yawp," the sound of a puppy gotten underfoot and trod upon.

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Professor Gage has little confidence in simple individual Resistance, it seems, but The Resistance is more to her liking. She does point out the difference. There are individual and group ways of resisting an enemy. Individuals should understand that making common cause within a group under a Big Tent may submerge their most poignantly felt cause or associate it with causes that are low personal priority. We subscribe to a common cause to acquire the energy and momentum of cooperation. The issue is that leaders and heroes of The Resistance may not understand their own actions may not be central to the purposes of the whole. If anything is to be taught from the debacle of the last election it is this.

And so Professor Gage and all the spokespeople for our politics, We want Liberty! That is what we as individuals are For. Most of us understand that it means that we must be eternally vigilant against those who arrogate exclusively to themselves the right to speak, lead, or decide. So the first question of group action is what is the our group's Big Tent for?

Basically, The Resistance is to acquire energy and momentum of social and political action. Grouping, however, is a giving up of certain Liberties for Purposes, which of your own you share with others or which are at least not inimical to you. Resistance at the personal level does not have this requirement. In the age of social media, any one person can voice her complaints, her perspectives, and maybe if well stated others will subscribe to the ideas. The process is dispersive and typically lacks coherence and longevity. As Cynthia Nixon suggested, it will "flame out." Liberty then is a mixed bag of freedoms and responsibilities and compromises.

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There are two main points of view about the nature of being a human. There are shades of gray between them, perhaps not 50, but enough. One, the Conservative world view, is that the state of nature--even of humanity--is essentially and strongly competitive, sometimes red in tooth and claw, a Darwinian struggle of fit, unfit, better fit, and the fittest for survival " and supremacy. I draw attention to "and supremacy" because it is not a necessary part of survival. Typically the Conservative view in America relies on the tenets of Social Darwinism to explain why others act as they do and therefore how one should act. Most Conservatives also currently believe that the "simple and inexorable" mechanics of The Market are sufficient to enable this struggle to proceed without undue harm to fit and better fit people. They allow for mistakes, but not many, and not serious ones. The Conservative mind tends toward belligerent conformity to reduce all of humanity to entities in The Market. Fundamentalist religions are brought to bear to enforce conformity.

The other point of view is not a polar opposite, as we shall see. Of course, Liberalism does not preach that humans are just smart animals jousting for survival, ... but rather that humans are interesting animals endowed, most of them, with the intelligence to imagine distant, better futures and the way to achieve them cooperatively in societies. It asserts that societies are real, not just theoretical generalizations, and are a provident and purposive advance over raw individualism. Liberals see this evolution continuing out into the future.

Liberalism understands the common needs of the individual en masse, which is to say that it is based on empathy, a theory of mind centering on the notion that the guy next door has roughly the same kind of objectives as yourself, that his ideas are worthy of the respect you would want for your own. So, accordingly, Liberalism understands economies as theaters in which individuals can and may act to achieve their goals, but that there must be rules which protect individuals from the thoughtless, destructive, and non-empathetic acts of others. Liberalism is more pragmatic than Conservatism, which from time to time and under pressure becomes dogmatic .

There is a Conservative Liberalism and a Progressive Liberalism. The former is grounded in the idea that humans are imperfect and quite often mistaken and, being mistaken about matters in the society, need to be careful about imposing ideas on people, especially those who have not been sufficiently prepared to understand them. Progressive Liberals hold to the idea that nothing in society is anywhere near perfect, but that most things can be made better. So Progressives believe that cooperation is essential and that people cooperating are very likely to be happier, even when their own personal goals are not the top priority of the group.

The Group Resistance to President Trump and his administration is a political grouping of individuals who agree that Trump's manner and character and notions of polity are absolutely inimical to the survival of Liberty in America. Our purpose is to remove him and his administration from office as soon as possible.

In the meantime we hold that all cooperation with Trump and members of his administration is counter productive, misleading, and must be withheld. In each instance, we believe that laws, customs, expectations of congenial and law-abiding citizens are being ignored or destroyed. We believe that Trump has deliberately lied about his motives and goals and means to accumulate sufficient power to his office to utterly vacate every principle of a liberal democratic republic.

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We stand FOR cooperation as a community and nation of citizens. All human beings are Equal under the Law regardless of the circumstances of birth or of their respectful and non-violent creed.

We stand THEREFORE for respect for and obedience to the principle of The Rule of Law.

We stand FOR the rights of people who cannot stand for their rights themselves.

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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) a long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese (more...)
 

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