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Us and them

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Us vs. them is generally given a bad rap. Black vs. white is a basis for racism. Men vs. women serves as the basis for sexism. Old vs. young, the basis for age discrimination. Infidels vs. believers, voters vs. government, police officers vs. citizens, rich vs. poor, Republicans vs. Democrats and so on.

What do these have in common? They are framed on the basis of the nonessential. Red and yellow, black and white focus on skin color. Russian, Italian, German, Spaniards focus on geographic origin. Men and women segregate by sex. Old and young focus on age.

When it comes to man, qua man, what is the distinguishing characteristic? Rationality! Anything else is a red herring. Man, by his nature, is a conceptual being. But man has to be man by choice, as Miss Rand puts forth initially in Atlas Shrugged:

"Man has been called a rational being, but rationality is a matter of choice—and the alternative his nature offers him is: rational being or suicidal animal. Man has to be man—by choice; he has to hold his life as a value—by choice; he has to learn to sustain it—by choice; he has to discover the values it requires and practice his virtues—by choice.

So what about an "us vs. them" mentality in terms of essentials? Is this a form of collectivism, or merely a fact of reality that "must be greeted not by approval or condemnation, praise or blame, but by a silent nod of acquiescence, amounting to the affirmation: "They are, were, will be, and have to be."?

Pink Floyd put forth in their lyrics "who knows which is which and who is who" which amounts to little more than Miss Rand's observation via John Galt put forth in Atlas Shrugged:

When a man declares: 'Who am I to know?'—he is declaring: 'Who am I to live?'

The integrations run much deeper that this. Even the migration from "a battle of words" to "it's only a difference of opinion",  the downplay is one of a conceptual nature. By the time the question is raised "who'll deny it's what the fighting's all about" sidesteps (or evades) that mankind has "never rejected the doctrine which causes wars, which has caused the wars of the past and can do it again—the doctrine that it is right or practical or necessary for men to achieve their goals by means of physical force", pawning it off instead on "with, without" or "the haves vs. the have nots."

In Aristotelian terms, the essence comes down to an either/or. Either man has to be man—by choice, or he does not. Us, or them.

Edited by dream_weaver

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Reading this, I am reminded of a few things:

A majority of the "thems" and the "uses" are unidentified... unknown in a crowd until you meet them and evaluate them individually... in depth and over a long period of time...  also the great vast numbers of people are by essentials a mixture, an uneasy not quite them nor part of a perfect us.  A single person often is in terms of each of politics ethics epistemology and metaphysics us or them separately and without coordination.  Compartmentalization being one of the culprits.  Lastly each one has volition and experiences and learns and ungoes change so every one of us or them or neither can change into another of us them or neither.  

In such a morass, the attempt to cleanly sort and separate imagined whole sections of the populace into us or them is likely not even useful as a visualization.

Better to judge each one you meet as a potential something and then evaluate as objectively as possible.  It's very likely very few are fully uses and very few are fully thems.  Most are neither.

As I recently have been wont to say, People really are the worst and the best... they have the greatest potential for your life and welfare or your very death... it all depends on the individual person.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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While we should treat people as individuals, we should also classify, categorize and conceptualize. It's almost impossible not to do so, since that how the human mind works. 

After a banking crisis, people will try to understand what happened by using concepts and categories. So, they might categorize as "rich" and "poor" and think the former are out to exploit the latter. One could point out individual examples of good rich folk and bad poor folk, but unless one conceptualizes that in some way, it isn't going to change how people grasp the picture.

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Both your responses have me going back to Attila, the Witchdoctor, and the human ballast—as contrasted against those who vacillate between a fully human, conceptual level of awareness and an unthinking daze.

This is not a case of the law of excluded middle since the factor of 'over time' was not properly invoked.

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