I began writing political essays during the 1992 US presidential campaign. My first readers were members of a small local 3rd party discussion group. Writing was my way of clarifying my understanding of what the group was showing me about the American public mind. I then recycled my own analysis of these currently popular political attitudes into newsletters for the group. This effort only lasted for about six weeks, after which I focused all of my political energy into the tasks of the unionization group (Society of Professional Scientists and Engineers) at my place of work.
Three of my political essays from 1993-1994 seemed worth saving: “Life Among the Entitled”, “Don’t Get Passed”, and “An Ethical-Freedom Mapping of Political Hierarchies”, and I’ve collected them into one document.
“Life Among the Entitled” includes a comparison of Japanese industrial expansion onto mainland Asia during the 1970s and 1980s, to American de-industrialization — “outsourcing” — as facilitated by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was signed into law in 1994. I repeated the essence of this discussion in my just posted article on the Occupy Wall Street movement, “From Social Contract to Occupy Wall Street” (see Swans.com, 7 November 2011). A quip in 1994 was “afta’ NAFTA disasta'”, meaning an expected major loss of jobs in the United States, which Ross Perot predicted would be such a southward rush that it would create “a great sucking sound” in the American heartland. In 2011 we can see the fruition of US de-industrializaion: Occupy Wall Street.
“Don’t Get Passed” is a short meditation on the most popular goal of Americans when seated behind the steering wheels of their automobiles: don’t get passed!
“An Ethical-Freedom Mapping of Political Hierarchies” is a short discussion of ideal anarchism, and my presentation of a map, or graph, which displays the wide variety of political hierarchies that history has shown are possible, as characterized by two parameters: freedom and equality. In the article, equality is called “ethics” or the “ethical dimension”. This ethical dimension could also be taken as some indicator of the magnanimity of the social contract within the political entity being mapped. In an earlier post (about the Swans.com articles of 7 Nov 2011) I stated that political stability is a reflection of the balancing of political freedom and the social contract.
I should make a 3D map by adding a “political stability” axis out the the plane of the equality-freedom map. It may be that the peak of political stability is in the “parliamentary” and “populist” regions of the equality-freedom map, and falls off in every direction from there.
Dusting off these nearly 20-year-old essays, I am struck by how clearly my father foresaw the economic decline that would follow from NAFTA and American de-industrialization, and whose human face we see today as the Occupy Wall Street movement. I also notice how I always gravitate toward the socio-political dyad of “freedom and equality”, or equivalently “political freedom and the social contract”, to characterize and understand political fairness, which may be another name for political stability.