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The Principle of Universality

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In these unsettled times where corporations control traditional media and the government seems completely divorced from understanding the needs of their citizenry, it would seem useful to review principles for a healthy society. Very near the top would be the principle of universality.

Simply put, this principle states the idea that the same rules apply to everyone or everything in a given situation. In science, this is exhibited in gravity and electromagnetic forces, which follow consistent laws regardless of where they are in the universe. Gravity may act differently near a black hole, but it will always act the same near similar black holes.

In finance the principle of universality would suggest that the same rules of lending and borrowing be applicable to all. That doesn't preclude, say, higher interest rates for a higher risk borrower, but it does preclude the assumptions so often used to stereotype someone as "high risk." The risk must be based on personal past experience, not neighborhood, ethnicity or other likely bogus "formulas" currently used to rip off our less well off neighbors.

In the area of society and culture, it's the same. We might describe it with the old adage, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander." Restated: the same rules apply to everyone, regardless of ethnicity, class, color, religion, sexual preference, beauty, stature, etc. Jefferson's core idea in the Declaration of Independence echoes this concept, "that all men are created equal."

When written, Mr. Jefferson didn't necessarily mean to include persons of color or women in the statement. And yet over the last 230 years we've come to appreciate that the principle of universality must apply to that statement, and by implication to the rest of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution. It's a lovely thought.

Tragically, this lovely thought has no basis in the realities of the day. We can create a very long list of situations to document this lack, as an even cursory read of Chomsky, Sirota, Palast or a host of others will clearly reveal. We can find glaring reasons, in spite of Bush' feigned confusion, to answer the question, "why does the rest of the world hate America ?"

Instead of applying the principle of universality to world affairs, our government applies a principle of "totality."

"Universality, therefore, is not exclusive. Totality, on the other hand, is; it demands everything for itself, rejecting any degree of participation. Both fundamentalism, in all its manifestations, as well as nationalism, are nothing but consequences of the principle of totality taken to an extreme, and which reached its greatest splendor in Hegelian thought." - Rafael Domingo

Here's a simple, if peculiar, way to appreciate the difference. If we interpret Jesus as the "one, only-begotton son of God," then Jesus has rights to all sorts of specialness - he's "the one and only." That's totality thinking. If we interpret Jesus as part of a "sonship" that includes every human being - "Ye are gods, if only ye would believe", that's universality thinking.

To expound a bit further, the Catholic claim of "one, true, apostolic church" exhibits the totality principle. The Taoist sounding "there are as many paths as there are souls, and all souls are one" is universality. But enough passive/aggressiveness with typical Christian idealogy. The real meat is the Empire of Corporatism and Control established and enabled by the United States federal government.

As Chomky points out in "Hegemony or Survival," United States foreign policy, especially since WWII, has been strictly focused on US domination of the political and economic landscape across the planet. From Korea to Kosovo , Iran contra to current Iraq policy, Africa to Latin and South America - you got it - high crimes and imperialism by the good ol' U.S. of A.

There is not a single case of engagement to support a just and honorable cause. U.S. policy purveys a very obvious pattern of fear mongering (think WMDs), divisiveness (Muslim terrorists) and bold-faced lies (spreading democracy). And that's just the last few years in Iraq . Dare we consider what atrocities have been done in the name of "freedom fighting" or some other mythic bullshit ove the years?

Considering the current world stage, the better question is "Dare we not?"

So when Mr. Bush asks his rhetorical question, "Why does the world hate us?" the appropriate response is that they don't hate us as American people. They hate the bully in the schoolyard - the country that decides when and where to make war because it can, the country that endorses "free trade agreements" that protect corporations, but not communities, workers or the environment. They hate watching McDonald's and Wal-Mart replace local resources because of U.S. diplomatic and trade pressures. They hate our pronounced love of democracy while we support the worst regimes on the planet, so long as they support "free trade" and other supposed U.S. interests. They hate us because we demonize the few leaders that emerge as true leaders, with Venuzuela's Hugo Chavez as the current bogeyman at the top of the list.

In short, they hate us for the same reasons we hate what our government is doing these days. It's just that outside the states they've experience this corporate imperialism to a much greater scale and for a far longer period.

And at home? No haters here! No efforts to undermine civil rights in these United States! That's why the president's actions to undermine any law he signs with a signing statement, to allow illegal spying, to allow the outing of a CIA agent (that alone is treason), to allow energy, pharmaceuticals and other industries to rip off millions of us, to initiate "reforms" like privatizing social security, like aiding and abetting voting fraud, like encouraging divisiveness, like destroying our ecologies and communities, like pandering to every sort of corporate interest, like"dude, gimme a break.

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Jim Prues is the Founder of World 5.0 and President of Panoptic Media. He understands that 'democracy is not a spectator sport.'

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