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Barbara Parramore Speaks About Her Arrest in “Moral Monday Protests” Against Republican Railroading of Extreme Right-Wing Agenda in North Carolina

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Yves here. NC intern Jessica Ferrer interviewed 80 year old Barbara Parramore, who was one of 57 arrested in North Carolina on May 20 as part of what has become weekly protests at the state General Assembly called “Moral Mondays”. Background courtesy Daily Kos:

These acts of civil disobedience are in protest of the Republican supermajority’s ramrodding of nearly 2,000 bills — many of them designed to decimate public education, deny/restrict access to health insurance, kneecap labor rights, seize local control from elected municipal governments, restrict women’s access to reproductive healthcare, expand firearms permissions, eviscerate oversight boards, permit exploitation of public lands, implement “fracking” and other environmental abuses, and suppress voter rights — through the state legislature since the end of January.

Her bail was posted by the NAACP. I was told by her daughter Lynn Parramore that the police were for the most part “not hostile” but the process was designed to intimidate. She was put in zip handcuffs, which made it hard for her to balance when climbing stairs. She was frisked twice, X-rayed and scans of her fingers and hands were added to a Federal database.

Here is some footage from the protest. The police move in around 5:20:

Jessica’s interview:

Next Monday will mark the 5th “Moral Monday” demonstration in North Carolina. These nonviolent protests organized by the NC NAACP and its coalition partners are taking place in Raleigh, North Carolina—the capital—and the call for morality isn’t for rebellious teenagers. Protesters are marching to the legislative building to ask their public officials to rethink the laws they are trying to pass. 80-year old Barbara Parramore worked in the North Carolina public education system for close to 40 years. She participated in the last Moral Monday and was arrested for civil disobedience.

Jessica Ferrer: Barbara, you were a teacher for North Carolina for how many years?

Barbara Parramore: I had 37 years, ranging from being an elementary school teacher, middle school teacher, to a school counselor and then elementary school principal, but then I completed my doctorate and went to the College of Education at NC State University, where I was for 25 years.

Jessica Ferrer: And your experience as a teacher and a counselor, principal and a professor led you to participate in Moral Monday?

Barbara Parramore: Yes. And after I retired, for about 10 years I was active in doing curriculum audits with a team that went to different school districts. Also during the 1980s, when I was on campus, I was president of the North Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and another time for two years I was president of the North Carolina Teachers for the Social Studies, so I’ve been very active on a statewide basis for most of my career as well.

Jessica Ferrer: But what is the meaning of the name “Moral Monday”? What does that mean?

Barbara Parramore: That’s issues at stake with the range of legislative acts being passed and proposed are beyond just a legal question. There’s a moral aspect to this of what is fair and equal. Equality under the law, you know we say that, but to have laws that are implemented that are against equal opportunity raises it to a moral issue. In other words, the laws by being unconstitutional and violating human rights are going beyond human law, which makes it a moral issue. And I consider what I was doing a moral responsibility to speak up and to be willing to be arrested. It is a moral issue with me to be silent when I know laws being implemented are going to hurt children and youth.

Jessica Ferrer: When you heard about Moral Monday, what made you want to be a part of that?

Barbara Parramore: Well, having come to Raleigh in 1954 to teach, and that was the year that the Brown vs Board of Education decision was made in May, and then so my license to practice in education began when there were a lot of changes underway in education. And then when I was a school principal, the first school for special education students serving the whole city was at my school and the teacher’s salary was paid by the Woman’s Club, Senior Woman’s Club. So I’ve always been involved with activities sort of pushing ahead on what needs to be done, and also emphasis on the least among us. I’ve always been involved in education for the goals that we have that all children have an opportunity for a quality education. Now I keep up with the legislature when it’s in town and pay a lot of attention to public policy as well as laws, and so I’ve been concerned, ever since the General Assembly began working this spring, with the kinds of things they were considering and some of the laws they passed and then some that are proposed. I just believe strongly that we’re turning the hands back on the clock.

Jessica Ferrer: But you were arrested for civil disobedience.

Barbara Parramore: Yes. Yes.

Jessica Ferrer: Can you explain that?

Barbara Parramore: Well, I realized that was a possibility, and I’ve known some of the – like the first publication of arrests showed the picture of Bill Chafe from Duke University, who’s a retired history professor, and I knew him, and I thought well he’s paying attention to this, I need to pay even more attention. So I was willing to be subject to arrest. However, I do believe that I have a right to go into the legislative building and in the center part where we went. Now I know you can’t go into the chambers. So I think there’s a Constitutional question, the North Carolina Constitution, whether or not that we were really trespassing. And I made a pledge to myself when I went in that I would not sing or chant or say anything, so I never said a word during the whole time, although others were doing that, and some people were making talks after the Reverend Barber made a talk, like the economics professor from Chapel Hill spoke, a woman on the school board in Durham School spoke, a girl who just graduated from college spoke, and two others. But I never said a word. So in my own way I was doing a silent protest, although I was a member of that group. So I feel that if people like me with my background and experience and commitment to education don’t stand up, then who’s going to?

Jessica Ferrer: And you said that you believed that the legislature is moving backwards.

Barbara Parramore: Some of the laws are – well, there’s no need to have a separate law for the teaching of the multiplication tables and cursive writing. That’s up to the school board that’s appointed by the governor, and the superintendent of public instruction is elected by the people. That’s where policy for curriculum development should occur, and I just think that’s just a narrow-minded approach to checking on what’s taught in schools. There have been other laws in the past that I’ve objected to that were very specific, targeted at some special interest. For example, we had more liberal or responsible approaches to health education in the high schools and home economics, and there was a period when there was a lot of activity and the teachers were forbidden by law to mention anything about family planning or birth control, and I’ve forgotten how many years it was finally repealed, but again that was denying knowledge and information to young, you know, teenagers who certainly have a right to, you know, knowledge and facts. So that’s just an example of the legislature trying to be the super super school board. There’s just a lot of things that seems to me are going to short change the children in the long run.

Now, another thing I’m really concerned about. I am appalled at the wholesale criticism of teachers. It’s a demanding job in our society and I would say important. And yes, in large groups you may have a few who are not as effective as others, but there’s either a pending or just passed law to have teachers’ bonuses for AP classes to the students. Okay, now let’s say I’m an AP teacher and I’m going to get a bonus if my students who take my history class, or chemistry, whatever it is, score well. Well, what is that going to encourage me to do? Not to include marginal students who might have undiscovered interests and talents, and so again making it more exclusive, less inclusive, and short change some children who might wake up to doing very well.

Jessica Ferrer: You’re 80 years old, correct?

Barbara Parramore: Yes.

Jessica Ferrer: And so, you’ve seen a lot of changes –

Barbara Parramore: Listen, I, you know, if I live 10 more years, it’ll be nearly a century. I have lived through – I could start with 1950, the last 60 years, 60+ years, and I’ve lived through it.

Jessica Ferrer: And so you’ve seen those changes, the Brown vs Board of Education, you know, getting –

Barbara Parramore: Yes. And the movement for special education. The point I’m making is that change that is substantive and meaninngful you’re taking the long term, it takes a while to change things. These little quick fixes, it seems to me, are very short-sighted.

Jessica Ferrer: Do you view the changes that the legislature is trying to make as quick fixes?

Barbara Parramore: Many of them are, and they are narrowly focused. Like the charter schools, a separate board for that. We don’t need but one head of the school system. See, North Carolina is a, it’s the North Carolina school system. It’s not the individual. In other words, each local district is a part of the state. They’re not independent. You know, like in some other states they have independent school districts which means that they raise their own money and have taxes and so the local folks can vote their taxes and so on. But in North Carolina, it’s a statewide system. And the proposal to allow charter schools to be run by for-profit people or organizations is another thing that is – I mean, we should not be having anybody getting, making a profit off of the public school tax dollars. And not all of them are doing that, of course, you know there are some very fine charter schools, and the purpose of the charter school movement I don’t have any quarrel with, but how it’s been implemented, again, is short changing some of the students that ought to be treated better than they are, narrowly focused purpose and – anyway the for-profit idea of it isn’t a bad one – as well as having teachers who are not necessarily qualified to teach.

Jessica Ferrer: So what was your arrest like?

Barbara Parramore: I had had the opportunity of reading what the faculty member the week before had experienced, so that gave me an idea. I was impressed with the professionalism of all of the law enforcement officials, officers. They were courteous. I didn’t feel any hostility or even impatience, because I know, you know, we were adding a lot of work, 55 or however many there were of us. I did, I was surprised at the – that there were two series, two different parts of having us frisked and fingerprinted and photographs made. I don’t understand that.

Jessica Ferrer: What do you think it would take for Governor McCrory and the legislature to see and hear from the protesters?

Barbara Parramore: I think a large, a greater number, a larger number of people. Because they’ve got to feel that a large percentage of the public is upset or concerned. In other words, as long as they think that it’s just a small number of people who have these strong feelings, it’s not going to matter to them. The protests have to get enough information out to convince people that the legislature needs to slow down.

Jessica Ferrer: And so would you protest again?

Barbara Parramore: Oh yes, yes. Now I’m forbidden to go anywhere near the legislative building, that whole complex, while this session is underway. I had to sign that in order to be released. But I can do other things.

Jessica Ferrer: Like what?

Barbara Parramore: Well, I’m communicating with a lot of people. I had another, two other inquiries wanting to know if I would be willing to be interviewed. That’s what I’ll do is keep responding positively to any inquiry or messages like that.

Jessica Ferrer: But I have a question for you. The Republican platform is less government involvement, no big government, less regulation, and it seems that here in North Carolina there seems to be more regulating from a Republican governor, the first Republican governor in North Carolina in over 20 years, and then also a majority Republican legislature. Why do you think that is?

Barbara Parramore: They’re not thinking straight. They’re not rational. And they’re wanting to regulate more than even, you know – it just doesn’t make sense. And if they stopped to think about it, it’s going to increase government too. If these laws are passed they’re going to have to have somebody who has oversight and so on. However, I must tell you, I have had since Tuesday three different people, older, you know, senior folks who are Republicans tell me that they don’t agree with what’s going on. They weren’t mad at me. But I did get an e-mail today calling me, saying bullshit was the message, so I’m wondering how much of that I’m going to get. The question of how a thoughtful, educated publicly elected official could be so inconsistent is beyond me.

Jessica Ferrer: Do you think any of the changes will get made that they’re trying to pass?

Barbara Parramore: Well, they do have the power, and if they’ve got the money they can do some implementation.

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53 comments

  1. psychohistorian

    This ongoing attempt to outlaw education in the US is going to make it so only outlaws are educated.

    We all need to become moral outlaws like Barbara Parramore because there are another six days in the week after Monday and lots and lots of humanistic immorality in our current world.

    1. nonclassical

      psychoH-

      It’s really all about the move from PUBLIC ed to “charter schools”, which will also fail by the same false “standards” (comparison of U.S. TEST SCORES-ed to international ed, whereby GOALS and methods differ drastically), then move to INTERNET ed…complete control of curriculum, and that nasty historical documentation…

      but for one example-my mother was superintendent of schools, large western city, when I began teaching…she was required to commit to bussing=equal opportunity, to maintain fed funding. My first class of sophomores were bussed in-no time (as dept. head disclosed later) to place youth as “usual”…so, I had them ALL in one class..(LIT). They EARNED 10 “A” grades…dept. head defined we grade on CURVE-can’t award 10 “A” grades…I showed their work, wondering aloud HOW these super youth came to be in my class-she informed me: “You should know-your mother’s Superintendent of Schools”…I still didn’t understand-dept. head informed me: “Normally, we place so many “A” students, to pull up “B” students, so many “B” students to pull up “C” students, etc…”

      I fairly blurted, “You create the CURVE on the way INTO the classroom”….which makes sense if GOAL of education is to create some winners, some losers, and majority mediocrity-cheap labor force…(which I contrasted years later, while teaching Europe, with FULLY EDUCATED GOAL=workforce, Germany.)

      Now, when educators stand, first day in classroom, view students arriving, we learn to perceive students checking each other out, to see where they “fit” in group-they’ve been forced to fit-not to excel at own aptitude…which is VIOLENT..causes acting out, drug use, alcohol, even suicide…of those who are USED to compare…

      meanwhile, education is scapegoated as “provider of opportunity”…but it was never EDUCATIONAL opportunity sought-it was ECONOMIC opportunity…so, when only 18% of Americans grad 4 year university or vocational equivalent, as compared to over 70% in Germany, where I also taught…GOALS-methods are completely at odds…

      while continuing the myth of U.S. inferiority of ed…

  2. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Story after story tells how teachers in school shootings, tornadoes, earthquakes etc., etc. would fall upon their children to protect them, even at the cost of the own lives, the very same public servants the Republican demonize as enemies of the state. Yet these Republican parasites would be the first people to use their own sons and daughters as human shields if disaster ever struck.

  3. banger

    The state of North Carolina reflects a general trend of people losing faith in public education. Some of the reason is that most people had to go to school and may not have liked their experience–I certainly didn’t like mine. But mainly we are experiencing a general dissolution of our culture in general and public institutions in particular.

    Having said that, I recognize teachers have a hard job to do and aren’t given much leeway in doing it. The bureaucracy is often rigid, they must teach to the test and, for some weird reason, public education appears not to recognize the findings of social science concerning learning. Schools are still run pretty much like they were a century ago.

    It’s also clear we live in a culture where there is little common agreement among people about the basic philosophy and meaning of life–and without that how can we maintain a public education system when we disagree so much on big issues?

    1. Massinissa

      The problem is, future generations, including the ones in school now, are probably going to be even less favorable to public education than todays adults.

      The Dems and Repubs have done a pretty good job simultaneously dismantling and militarizing public schools. Schools are becoming more and more like prisons, with teachers iniative being replaced by shitloads of testing and everything else being replaced by having 6 cops or whatever per school.

      By the way, sometimes I think of being a Democrat again… And then I think of Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. Fuck the lesser of two evils, Democrat Rahm is doing worse things to education and closing more public schools than any fucking republican in the goddamn country. And Obama put that goddamn son of a bitch in a leading cabinet position for christs sake!

      As for your last paragraph: Yeah, how can we as a country have a public education system, when two halves cant even fucking agree whether Creationism or Evolution should be taught, much less agree on anything else! Sometimes I wonder if America isnt just too large and diverse to function as a single country. Maybe we should break it down into parts.

      You know, you would think that creationism-in-schools-movement would have gone away eventually like in most other first world countries, but no, apparently not in ‘Merica!

      If someone wants to teach creationism to their kids they can do that shit at home. Hell, its not like it would be all that hard or time consuming to teach.

      Oh by the way, as for your comment “schools are pretty much run the way they were a century ago”, im not sure I agree. Im a recent graduate of public education (2011), so I dont know for sure, but there wasnt so much standardized doctrine forced down the throats of students in public schools a few decades ago, were there? At the very least, there were a hell of a lot less police…

    2. nonclassical

      Banger,

      in Germany, where I also taught secondary level, ALL gain education based upon APTITUDE. This means, at end of 8th grade, they identify 3 aptitude based curricula to pursue…then at end of 10th, 2. This leads directly to FREE higher ed, or vocational equivalent..the GOAL is fully educated workforce, creation of TAXPAYERS-rather than extreme wealth-peasant-neo-feudalism..
      educational mediocrity-cheap labor force…

      People really haven’t identified modus operandi as it actually exists…business provides ECONOMIC opportunity…not education…posted few months back in links here, shown 80% of jobs in U.S. no longer require university education…

      education is scapegoated by masters, as provider of opportunity…nothing could be further from reality…

  4. Greenguy

    It is inspiring and amazing to see people like Barbara Parramore speak up and risk arrest against the reactionary cretins in the NC State Legislature. It is, however, a sad testament to the lack of class consciousness in the United States that they believe rational discussion could persuade the legislators to stop what is a very class-based agenda from passing. Developing that level of understanding as a movement again will help the left succeed in conducting real class warfare, not these protests which end up changing very little.

  5. Kaiser freeman

    North Carolina 1st in flight. 38th in the nation in math and sceince. Know changes needed here.

    1. nonclassical

      38th, math and science…hmmmnnn…you realize, for example, when comparing international test scores to U.S., we are comparing ALL U.S. students, forced to continue out of aptitude math-science, to only those international students who continue math and science, aptitude driven, past 8th grade…

      of course you were discussing U.S. comparisons…aptitude is still criteria…why continue to drive non-aptitude failure, rather than aptitude driven success…unless it is majority mediocrity-cheap labor force designated…?

        1. nonclassical

          sir,

          what part of this:

          (of course you were discussing U.S. comparisons…aptitude is still criteria…why continue to drive non-aptitude failure, rather than aptitude driven success…unless it is majority mediocrity-cheap labor force designated…?)

          did you fail to comprehend?

        2. Massinissa

          I think that Classical is saying that we should compare S Carolina to other countries rather than to other states, because if you compare between states, 25 states will always be ‘below average’.

          Classical, forgive me if I am wrong.

          1. nonclassical

            Massi,

            I am describing a complete and total difference in GOALS-methods of measuring…I am stating clearly I trust, that there is no INTENTION of educating ALL in U.S., and further, that education is being scapegoated as “provider of opportunity”, when there is no intention of educating ALL…so, we create (NFL-like) winners-losers-majority mediocrity to become cheap labor force.

            There is no intention to identify-aide aptitude, to create individual “success”, which is NOT “educational”, rather economic…

            But it is well to comprehend how other countries DO what they DO, in contrast..

  6. NC disgrace

    When we call it civil disobedience, we’re giving Pope’s mafia too much credit. What Dr. Parramore is doing is civil resistance. She’s acting to uphold laws that criminal officials are breaking. In this case, the state is flouting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is customary international law, an integral part of federal common law and the common law of every state.

    Accordingly, if the offending state charges her with crimes when she assert her rights, her actions must be interpreted in light of common law, statutory, procedural, or constitutional principles including but not limited to defense of others, duress, choice of evils, prevention of a crime, reliance upon governmental authority, prevention of a public catastrophe, or citizen’s arrest.

    The courts try to ignore human rights law, but they can’t. Where international law is concerned, Rule 72 of the Federal Rules has to be interpreted with reference to International Court of Justice Statute Article 38(1)(d). A judge that denies a defendant’s request for expert independent testimony on international law denies her right to a defense, which is reversible error on appeal.

    Making this a matter of human-rights gives you access to other civil society initiatives that help contest state repression. The US is undergoing independent expert review of its human-rights conduct now. The government’s disgrace will come to a head this October and federalist neglect of local derelictions of state duty will come up.

    1. Kaiser freeman

      North Carolina 1st in flight, 38th in the nation in math and science. Know changes needed here.

      1. nonclassical

        “changes needed”…how about FREE 4 year university or vocational equivalent, to actually compete with competitor nations who base such on relevant aptitude, rather than requirement, which dictates winner-loser-mediocrity??

        What’s the GOAL??

      2. earnyermoney

        LOL. NC has been ranked at or close to the bottom my entire life. The Democrats have been in control of this state since reconstruction. If the education system sucks, you can lay the blame at their feet.

        Not a damn word out of these cynical bastards when their leadership fails to produce results.

        1. nonclassical

          Sir,

          I have been quite specific in my statements-discussion-dialogue-contrasts of
          GOALS of U.S. education. Please be specific in your dialogue? I have taught secondary level ed in states, and Europe. North Carolina public education is NOT the issue-HOW MANY SHOULD GRADUATE 4 YEAR UNIVERSITY OR VOCATIONAL EQUIVALENT, from NC??? What GOAL do you specify? How do you intend to educate ALL, when such is not the GOAL??

  7. Ché Pasa

    Public education in the United States has been on the ropes since the student rebellions of the 1960′s. Our Betters have long believed that those rebellions were caused by way too much education for the rabble, by too little administration and authority, and by an essentially free educational system for the masses.

    They set about to fundamentally alter the public education system so that such rebellions would never again be possible.

    Nowadays, elders cheerfully engage in civil disobedience to preserve what little is left of a once advanced public education system in this country.

    But for the young, the issues are dire. How to stay off the public school to prison pipeline, how to pay for even a minimal primary and secondary education, how to survive the burden of debt imposed to get a degree… None of these issues were even conceivable 50 years ago.

    1. nonclassical

      no historical revisionism, please-anti-government fundamentalist repubLIEcons
      have attempted to end dept. of education since its founding…to keep education fundamentalist dominated curricula…some of us “escaped” to tell the story….

      1. Massinissa

        To be perfectly fair, its not like Democrats havnt been helping take an axe to education the last two+ decades.

        Just look at what Rahm Emanuel is doing in Chicago.

        Both parties are pretty much jumping on the education privatization bandwagon at this point, although arguably the Republicans are louder about it.

        1. nonclassical

          …Rahm is Chicago school…you do realize DLC Rahm connections to bushbama,
          who has fronted charter schools on egregious format-failure in math standards condemning entire school, in poorest district…while other classes, even in poor district were not under par-just underprivileged..

          Did you notice Rahm standing, godfather like, beside dem candidates, over last
          6 years…eery reminder of repubLIEcon-”The Family” D.C. fundamentalists…

        2. bob

          “Rahm, Obamma, NPR, California and the teachers unions all agree– privatization of public education works”

          Why doesn’t that scare the living shit out of conservatives?

          1. nonclassical

            ..uhmmm…

            because fundamentalists wish to PRIVATIZE public education, for privatized profit$, and control of curriculum…

            with internet ed their endgame is complete-no messy instructor historical, no pensions, no attempt to educate all, or educate to personal aptitude..winners, losers, mediocrity guaranteed..

  8. from Mexico

    Western civilization has been under the spell of the self-interest axiom and its twin, the greed-is-good doctrine, for exactly 500 years now. According to these two dogmas, not only are all human beings motivated 100% by self-interest, but this is a good thing.

    It all began in 1513 when Machiavelli wrote The Prince, in which he famously asked for a ruler:

    is it better to be loved than feared, or the reverse. The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved. For this can be said about the generality of men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, dissembling, anxious to flee danger, and covetous of gain. So long as you promote their advantage, they are all yours, as I said before, and will offer you their blood, their goods, their lives, and their children when the need for these is remote. When the need arises, however, they will turn against you. The prince who bases his security upon their word, lacking other provision, is doomed… Men are less concerned about offending someone they have cause to love than someone they have cause to fear. Love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so; but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present.

    Other famous proponents of the self-interest axiom were Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), David Hume (1711-76), Bernard Mandeville (1670-1713), and Adam Smith (1723-90).

    Even though the self-interest axiom received a cool reception in the 16th century, by the 18th century it had triumphed. Hence, as the intellectual historian J.L. Talmon comments, all manner of social thinkers throughout the eighteenth century regarded self-interest as “the most real and most vital element in man and human relations.” Or, as Louis Bredvold explained, for the Enlightenment self-interest was the “moral law of gravitation.” Francis Hutcheson, a teacher and mentor to Adam Smith, had declared that the force of “self-love” was as central “to the regular State of the Whole as Gravitation” was to the harmonious workings of the physical universe. (Robert H. Nelson, Economics as Religion)

    What the 18th-century thinkers did was to take the self-interest axiom and combine it with the natural-law theology of the Roman Catholic scholastics. Natural-law theology posits a harmonious world operating according to rational laws put in place by God. In the Enlightenment, the secular idea of “harmony” of nature replaced the earlier transcendent role of a rational, benevolent God who is supremely good and the source of truth. “Divine or at least quasi-divine powers reemerge although always in disguise,” explains Michael Allen Gillespie in The Theological Origins of Modernity. “Nature is an embodied rational will; the social world is governed by an “invisible hand” that almost miraculously produces a rational distribution of goods and services.” Thus the greed-is-good doctrine was born.

    Through the ministrations of Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) and William Graham Sumner (1840-1910) in the 19th century, and then the Chicago School and other major US universities in the 20th, “the ideas of Mandeville, Smith, and many others have been developed and systemized into what is now known as ‘the theory of rational choice’, “ writes Peter Turchin in War and Peace and War. It hardened into a dogma that is as fundamentalist and obdurate as anything the Roman Catholic Church ever conceived. Human biology followed a similar trajectory as economic theory, culminating in the “selfish organism” dogma so famously proselytized by Richard Dawkins. (Herbert Gintis, Samuel Bowles, Robert Boyd and Ernst Fehr, “Moral Sentiments and Material Interests: Origins, Evidence, and Consequences”)

    In the 1930 to 1945 period there was an insurgency against the self-interest axiom and greed-is-good theology, but it was not triumphant and was put down. However, in the last decade or so a great deal of scientific research has demonstrated the self-interest axiom to be a partial truth. Human beings are motivated by all kinds of things, self-interest being only one of them. In addition, people’s own observations and experiences are telling them that the application of the self-interest axiom and greed-is-good doctrines have not resulted in benign outcomes.

    None of this evidence, however, makes any difference to the greed-is-good true believers, who are impervious and unfazed by empirical data. They have circled the wagons and dug in for a long fight. Their bunker in North Carolina, however, will not prove impenetrable, because the insurgency challenging the self-interest axiom and greed-is-good orthodoxy has just begun.

    1. Nathanael

      Machiavelli was actually a supporter of democracy and enlightened, benevolent rule. Having been told by his boss that his boss didn’t want any of that (sigh), he proceeded to write a book with the principle “Well, if you don’t give a damn about that, here are the things you simply HAVE to do in order to stay in power.”

      He proceeds to warn the boss not to take things away from people which they need at the time.

      This makes a particular point about self-interest which I think is good. *Demanding* substantial self-sacrifice from other people is not only immoral, it is something which will cause them to rebel. Therefore, ask from them only their “excess”, the things they don’t really need at the moment.

    2. Nathanael

      You don’t understand Dawkins, “from Mexico”. You’re embarassing yourself in public by misinterpreting Dawkins.

      You need to learn more biology.

      Heck, you even got the title of Dawkins’s most famous book wrong. It’s “The selfish gene”. That does NOT mean a “gene for selfishness”.

      That means a gene which is BEING selfish, benefiting itself (the gene) even at the expense of the organism which it is part of. This sort of stuff happens. This is why we get cancers.

      There is a large argument in biology over whether to consider organisms or genes (or perhaps groups of organisms) as the fundamental units on which natural selection operates, and the book has to be read in that context. (Personally I think the entire argument is missing the point entirely, by falling into the telological fallacy, but anyway….)

      1. Nathanael

        It’s fair to say that the vast majority of people in the US, as well as in the world, and even the vast majority of university-educated people, don’t actually “grok” biology.

        It took me three semesters of survey courses before it suddenly clicked and I went “Oh. THAT’S what the living world is like.”

        Most critically, there is far, FAR more diversity than most people think there is. (Not all organisms are made up of cells — look up fungi. Not all organisms share the same DNA code — look up certain types of bacteria.)

        And there is NO evidence of design in ANY of it. On the contrary, there is lots of evidence of “just bodged together” in ALL of it.

        Once you actually start understanding biology, you’ll start seeing what Dawkins means by a “selfish gene”, a gene which reproduces regardless of its effects on the organism it’s in. Perhaps the most dramatic examples are viruses, but most of our genes act as “selfish genes”.

        Our cells mostly tend to be “selfish cells”, too, except that they have special “no children” and “suicide protocols” where other cells can order them to not reproduce, or order them to commit suicide. When these protocols fail, we call it “cancer”.

        1. F. Beard

          And there is NO evidence of design in ANY of it. Nathanael

          Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Arthur C. Clark

          Or apparent chaos?

          But actually, life has far too much serendipity for it to be a mere accident. Never forget that survival and reproduction in hell is possible too, yet life is very often pleasant.

      2. from Mexico

        @ Nathanael

        You are pretty much mistaken on all counts.

        Richard Dawkins finds his historical antecedent in Lord Barron, who serves to highlight the weakness, even fragility, of the scientific method. Because of Barron’s towering eminence in the sciences, coupled with his arrogant parochialism, rejecting all field data and bullying geologists with his theoretical calculations based totally on a naive model of simple heat conduction, he delayed for half a century acceptance of the most important unifying principle in geology and arguably of science in the 20th century: continental drift. (Naomi Oreskes, The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science)

        The rather pathetic reality is that Dawkins, like Lord Barron, staked his career on an empirical claim that has proved to be false. But instead of admitting that, and moving on, he has instead dug in his heels and clings to his false claim as if it were a life raft in turbulent waters.

        Here is the false empirical claim, which he made in his 1982 book The Extended Phenotype:

        The intervening years since Darwin have seen an astonishing retreat from his individual-centered stand, a lapse into sloppily unconscious group-selectionism … We painfully struggled back, harassed by sniping from a Jesuitically sophisticated and dedicated neo-group-selectionist rearguard, until we finally regained Darwin’s ground, the position that I am characterizing by the label ‘the selfish organism…’

        –RICHARD DAWKINS, The Extended Phenotype

        Recent scientific findings, such as those V.S. Ramachandran and Paul Zak present here concerning the existence and distribution of empathy in the human population, have rendered Dawkins’ empirical claim untenable:

        http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/beyond-belief-candles-in-the-dark/v-s-ramachandran-1

        http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/beyond-belief-candles-in-the-dark/paul-zak

        So what does Dawkins do?

        Well, he no longer defends his earlier claim characterizing humans as “the selfish organism.” Instead, what he now asserts is that humans should behave as selfish organisms, because empathy and other-regarding behavior are no longer adaptive in present-day society.

        In the following presentation Dawkins gave to The Science Network in 2006, he condemns empathy as a “mistake,” a “bi-product” and a “misfiring,” since “under ancestral conditions it would have enhanced survival,” but in present-day society it no longer does. Furthermore, he offers no evidence or explanation as to why empathy is no longer adaptive. His version of the truth is merely presented as self-evident and beyond dispute.

        Dawkins’ presentation begins here at minute 46:20

        http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/beyond-belief-science-religion-reason-and-survival/session-7-1

    1. jrs

      Oh that rant is a good howl, it is the truth condensed things are dire (perhaps especially on the environmental front). Read that, read some recent Hedges, and then try to play nice :)

      There are activists out there the thing is “moral Monday’s” protesting things purely on a state level against one party are a thimble in the ocean compared to what is needed.

      1. nonclassical

        jrs,

        ..no libertarian abstract ideological fantasy please-real world examples, please..
        provision of which can be contrasted, debated, dialogued…

        1. jrs

          Well I’m not sure where libertarian comes in, wanting widescale protest and non-violent resistence (and he was particularly calling for left resistence) is now a libertarian idea? Ok, if you say so, but at a certain point if you call everything under the sun libertarian the term has ceased to be meaningful.

          In the real world in a country that is hopelessly divided, where most people are not informed, too busy, too poor, too tired, too lazy etc.. In that real world it’s probably true nothing awaits, the most that can be done is pushback against a few things, with only more and more suffering in store. It’s that that’s the problem.

          1. nonclassical

            no, jrs,

            I was addressing the ABSTRACT-no evidence (Libertarian like-ideology only) aspect of your statement…please again, do provide evidence-real life example, and historical documentation, rather than abstraction-which is how Libertarians commonly behave…(as their ideology has never, anywhere, anytime, been successfully practiced..)

          2. Lambert Strether

            Whenever I hear statements like “[i]n the real world,” I mentally substititute “in the delusion I share with my class or faction.” It generally works out quite well.

      2. jrs

        I don’t knock any activists, they do what they can (more than most) and are but one human being. The howl was just why do we have so little (not necessarily none), when we need so much, the need is so dire.

      3. Lambert Strether

        There may be more thimbles than we know, and the ocean not so large as we think. “There is no alternative”*. Until there is.

        * Rallying cry of the ancien regime everywhere….

        1. nonclassical

          Lambert,

          Is not your issue with my asking poster for “real world” example, and documentation of, an insistence that there is no truth? Are you asserting that truth is subjective?

  9. Walter Map



    The cleaners have done their job on you
    They’re hip to it, man, they’re in the groove
    They’ve hosed you down, you’re good as new
    And they’re lining up to inspect you

    O children

    Poor old Jim’s white as a ghost
    He’s found the answer that we lost
    We’re all weeping now, weeping because
    There ain’t nothing we can do to protect you

    O children

    For-profit prisons, for-profit indoctrination centers, for-profit ‘military service’, for-profit ‘public media’, in the for-profit existentialism anything worth doing is a target for conversion into an optimized profit center for a wealthy corporation that worships greed as it’s one true god.

    America is losing its children. That one’s going to hurt pretty bad.

    Hey little train! Wait for me!
    I was held in chains but now I’m free
    I’m hanging in there, don’t you see

    In this process of elimination

    1. nonclassical

      existensialism is limited by human condition……exercising his class over classical argument, noted existentialist professor questioned whether tree falling in forest made noise-first taking one side, then other of argument, noted professor spied amused student laughing;

      Professor-”We’re happy we could amuse you..your perception of the argument is?”

      Student-”I’m not god….”….

      Professor-”Well (perusing other students), we’re all glad to hear that…”

      Student-”So, I can’t comprehend if anyone else is listening…”

      (or, “Waiting for Godot”)..

        1. nonclassical

          FB,

          I wholly support your right to blindly believe in your god, to the same degree you support anyone else’s right to blindly believe in their god…unfortunately for you, doing so, is totally irrational, isn’t it? This would mean your god is not god..as you acknowledge other gods…or that others can acknowledge theirs in equanimity…

          1. nonclassical

            FB,

            you totally ignored “human condition”…limitations of human existence..in sprint to “god”…

  10. robert evinger

    Since January of this year GOP Legislators have introduced a litany of bills and proposed resolutions, so many, it’s hard to keep count,but these stand out as being among the nuttiest:
    A). Slashing Early Voting days and doing away entirely with many Early Voting sites.
    B). Ending Early Voting on Sunday’s when most people are off from work.
    C). End straight ticket voting.
    D). Mandating a two year waiting period before anyone can obtain a divorce.
    E). Dismantling the State’s Latino Outreach Office.
    F). Shredding State agreements and contracts made by previous Administrations.
    G). Rejecting fully-funded Medicaid expansion for 500,000 uninsured
    citizens in North Carolina.
    H). Cutting unemployment Insurance benefits to those still looking for work.
    I). Usurping local control over local zoning and home standard matters
    J). Demanding background checks & drug tests for families who apply for food stamps.
    K). Resisting background checks & drug tests for people who want to stockpile more and more guns.
    L). Enacting Voter I.D. laws when there is no evidence of voter fraud in North Carolina.
    M). Unleashing unlimited Fracking licenses without proof that it will be safe for N.C.’s environment.
    N). Proposing a resolution that puts one religion above all others and that religion becoming the official faith doctrine of County and State Governments.
    O). Systematically changing the way local school boards are elected
    by redrawing school district lines and mandating that more members are
    elected “At-Large” instead of representing neighborhoods or districts.
    P). That authority be unilaterally taken away from local County School Boards to build new schools and maintain existing schools and that henceforth schools will be build under the authority of County Commissioners and that all schools will be “owned” by County Commissioners and not the local School System or the tax payers of any given County.
    Q). The bright idea to take resources from public schools to provide tax payer funded vouchers to be awarded to some parents to pay tuition for charter schools, private schools, even home schooling.
    R). My favorite wingnut idea …. a ban on women whose breast nipples can be seen beneath her blouse. Apparently the Honorables be looking real hard.
    S). Instead of encouraging ex-convicts to integrating back into society after they have paid their debt to society along comes a bill to make it more difficult for these people to be able to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.
    T). A bill proposed to levy a hefty tax on any parent who claims their children as dependents, if said child chooses to register and vote while away from home in college.
    U). Now comes along “Honest Bob’s” bill to eliminate ethics safeguards and allow lobbyist to bestow upon lawmakers any type of gifts, money, trips, meals or any other kind of perks without it having to be reported to Election Boards or Ethics Committees. Strange logic, sinister intent and corrupt motives all rolled up into one bill.
    V). A bill to remove all teacher assistants from classrooms in public schools and increase the number of students allowable in all core subject classes.
    W). A bill to terminate N.C.’s renewable energy program even when there is evidence that it is currently among the State’s top job producers.
    X). A bill to amend the N.C. Constitution from allowing persons with mental
    handicaps such as Cerebral Palsy or Brain Cancer or citizens confined to psychiatric hospitals from having the right to vote.
    Y). A GOP inspired bill for the Legislature to appoint a Study Commission
    to start the process of North Carolina printing it’s own currency and
    that this new money could not be spent or exchanged in any other state
    or territory. Thus, currency now printed by the U.S. Treasurer would become obsolete in North Carolina. Sorta like Confederate money.
    Taken all together it would seem prudent, at least to those who are capable of thinking prudently, to surmise that the current crop of right wing fanatics are out of control and are like bulls running amok in a china closet.
    Think it was Forrest Gump’s Mom who so eloquently proclaimed “Stupid
    is as stupid does”.

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