Back on an earlier post, Lynn T said:
Bud, you are right. Some may not like this form of expression as much as a Rotary meeting, but it is as legitimate. I went by the State House, and I didn’t notice any more crudeness or noise than is common in Rotary-type settings. I don’t recall Rotary being designated as an arm of our government either, just a bunch of self-selected folks doing their thing, and assigning it importance in their lives. Good for them, may they live long and prosper. I do a good bit of what Brad regards as legitimate working through the system. I write letters to representatives and get thank-you-for-sharing letters back, or worse, outright snideness in response to civil letters. I’m glad these folks are out there on the State House grounds, tilting the apple cart a little to side, if not upsetting it.
In response, I wrote this:
Something got confused somewhere… when did anyone suggest Rotary as “an arm of our government” or anything remotely like that. Who held it up in any way? I mean, I write about speakers I hear there, people ask me questions about Rotary, and I answer them. I don’t remember holding it up as some exclusive repository of legitimacy [nor is it a means of political expression — only recently, gauging their questions during Q and A of a string of political figures, have I come to have an idea of the political leanings of much of the club] …
Then… I also don’t recall declaring the illegitimacy of the Occupy Columbia people, either. I have never suggested that they should not be allowed to do what they’re doing. I HAVE suggested that it’s a waste of time, and not helping anything.
I believe that when people have something to say, they should think it through, refine it to some extent, discuss it with others, refine it some more, then clearly state what they mean — something that can’t be done with a sign in a demonstration. I also have a general abhorrence of mob demonstration, because of the way it subsumes the individual’s ability to think and express himself as a rational being.
To speak as a large crowd, each person has to surrender much that he or she would have to contribute as an individual, and settle for a lowest common denominator. Otherwise, it’s impossible for the crowd to speak with ANY coherence (which is where we are with the “Occupy” protests). Worse, a crowd often communicates no thought at all, but a vague, shared sentiment. (Again, we’re talking “Occupy.”)
I don’t like crowds of football fans, or worshipful rock ‘n’ roll fans, either. Much less when people try to express themselves politically through mass demonstration in the street — generally speaking (as I’ve said, I believe there are instances in which a rational, moral objective is clear enough to be effectively communicated in this way).
This may sound odd coming from a (more or less) communitarian, but only if you think my community orientation is that of a crowd of people singing “Kum-ba-ya” together. No, I believe people should come together in groups small enough to achieve a synthesis of rational deliberation — or, if the group is too large, through representation to make the size of the group manageable — to arrive at solutions to common challenges that are neither the will of a despotic individual nor the lowest-common-denominator, vague urges of a mob.
Call it the Goldilocks principle, if you like: neither too big nor too small, but just right.
Not all that much, but I thought it worth posting separately.