CHARLOTTE LAWS - DREAM AND ACHIEVE TOGETHER
By Charlotte Laws
Eastwood recently plunged into the murky political pond with his statement,
"Extremism is so easy. You've got your position, and that's it. It doesn't
take much thought. And when you go far enough to the right, you meet the same
idiots coming around from the left."
it easy to be an extremist, and is the political scale truly circular, so that
the "far right" clasps hands with the "far left"? Does the
left-right continuum serve as a constructive paradigm upon which society can be
"extremists" are in good company: Jesus, Martin Luther, Abraham
Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Baruch Spinoza all bore this label at one time.
Jan De Witt and his brother Cornelius—17th Century Dutch
politicians—were hacked to death by the populace, largely due to their
"radical" and "unsavory" political perspective. Their crime?
They were proponents of democracy. Their
body parts were displayed in storefronts all over town.
shall we call extreme? The vigilantes who did the lynching? The shopkeepers who
showcased the body parts? Or the De Witts with their pro-democracy stance?
"extreme" beliefs emanate from a mechanical thought process, as
Eastwood suggests, rather than an intense philosophical journey? It arguably
requires reflection and hypercritical analysis to defend ones theories against
the cloned, echoed and mass produced opinion of the common folk; it requires
conviction to risk social ostracism and other forms of retaliation.
"approved" or popular view is more likely to be perfunctory. Why think
when one can plagiarize? Why go out on a limb when one can cling onto the tree
or never climb in the first place?
may view those on the "far right" and "far left" as
moralistically shrill, as manifesting a tone level of fear and anger. Perhaps
this is how the "right" and "left" overlap or come full
circle in his mind. But this is a gross generalization, since the
"extremes" are subjective and the political continuum fallacious.
we accept the commonly accepted paradigm of a left to right political continuum,
as Eastwood offers. If we define the "left" as the group that protects
the voiceless, the powerless, and the forgotten, then the natural progression
would be to protect the truly voiceless – animals and nature.
are excluded from our political system, without representation.
They have no standing in court; yet corporations do. In fact, nonhumans
are virtually omitted from the conversation in our anthropocentric and
move "left" arguably means to move away from Democracy – which is
really just a rule by the elite (humans) – to an Omniocracy (which I describe
as a government of, by and for all living beings). The European Union has added
nonhumans to their Constitution, as have Switzerland and Germany. New Zealand,
India and Reggio Emilio, Italy have outlawed using animals in ways we normally
think acceptable in the U.S. (boiling lobsters alive, keeping fish in small
bowls, vivisection, etc.).
are trailing behind other nations, but it would be difficult to sell a
Constitutional amendment to our What's the Matter With Kansas? country at
this time. It would be easier to convince certain states. You may be
thinking what would stuffing a few extra words in a state Constitution really
do. Well, words are a powerful tool and an important start.
does this move to the left spit us out on right? Probably. One could argue that
traditional "right" politics prompts a gap between the rich and poor,
thus culminates in the rule by a few, such as corporations.
To implement policies that foster the idea that nonhuman species have
value "in and of themselves," a "top down" government or
rule by a few (although not corporations) again seems required.
are self-interested (as are all species) thus cannot be expected to vote against
their desires. Legislators, however, are different (or should be) because they
attain self-worth from helping others, being fair and inclusive, and consulting
the "big picture." There will naturally be conflicts of interest
between species and individuals; but government's job—in an omniocracy as in
our current system-- will be to mediate and arbitrate these
are taught democracy is the most inclusive, just and beneficent political system
in the world. It is time to re-evaluate. Successful ideas advance through three
stages: first ridicule, then discussion, finally adoption. I say we begin the
discussion to which Eastwood's words have provided a starting point.
Clint Eastwood quote is posted on Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown's blog at http://www.jerrybrown.typepad.com/
and taken from Feb 28, 2005 issue of Time Magazine.
for this particular discussion.
Click here for this particular discussion.
For an official definition of the word omniocracy.
Laws is a member of the Greater Valley Glen Council, the President of the League
for Earth and Animal Protection (LEAP). Her website is www.CharlotteLaws.org
Human Beams Magazine
Arizona News about Politics
Bay Area Newswire
Animal Concerns Community Website