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  An American Manifesto
Friday November 28, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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CHAPTERS

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

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 BLOG

George Simmel: The Individual and the "Dyad"

WE think of sociology as the individual and society. But Georg Simmel in The Sociology of Georg Simmel translated by Kurt H. Wolff takes us to a more basic consideration, the individual and the "dyad", or the individual as part of a two-person social relationship.

But first, consider the situation of the "isolated" individual. Actually, we are not talking here about an individual that is "physically alone" as one might be on a walk in the mountains. The feeling of isolation is much more intense

when one is a stranger, without relations, among many physically close persons, at a "party", on a train, or in the traffic of a large city.
In other words, isolation is not the aloneness of an individual; it is the separation of the social individual from the rest of society. "As a conscious feeling on the part of the individual, it represents a very specific relation to society."

But then there is freedom, which seems at first glance to be closely related to isolation, but it is decisively different. On the one hand we can see that society -- as  "the state, the party, the family... friendship or love -- quite naturally... would extend their claims over the whole of man." Against this relentless pressure to conform to the expectations of others, "freedom emerges as a continuous process of liberation" for personal independence and also the right to remain dependent. On the other hand "the individual does not just want to be free, but use his freedom for some purpose", including "the extension of his will over others."

Thus we see that "isolation" and "freedom" are not external to the notion of humans as social individuals, but particular instances of genuinely human "sociation." The "dyad", the relation between two individuals or two groups is equally social. And the dyad has a particular characteristic unlike the isolation or freedom of the individual or a group of three or more people; if one person drops out of the dyad, it ceases to exist. The point is that any large group can be immortal; but the dyad cannot.

Simmel writes at length about the characteristics of the dyad. He starts with triviality. We tend to value things that are unique and rare, and undervalue things that are routine and commonplace. Clearly, a dyadic relationship, with its daily repetition of the commonplace, can descend into triviality, and "the tone of triviality frequently becomes desperate and fatal."

Then there is intimacy. For Simmel intimacy refers to the "ingredients that its participants contribute to [the relationship} and to no other" if they are regarded to be essential, forming the "affective structure" which the two show to each other and to nobody else. It is clear that intimacy is closely related to the exclusive nature of the dyad; intimacy withers as soon as a third element is introduced into the relationship.

Obviously the iconic case of the dyad is a monogamous marriage, and yet is isn't. For marriage typically leads to children, and then the dyad is broken. And marriage does not exist in isolation as merely two people. There is the family in general, the children, and the fact that marriage is "socially regulated and historically transmitted." Men and women are not just confronted by each other in marriage, but by the collectivity itself.

There is another curious characteristic of the dyad. It does not permit the two members to slough off duties and responsibilities to the larger group, as when people expect society to do what is properly their own responsibility. In a dyad there is a "co-responsibility for all collective actions." You can push a responsibility on the other member, but the other member can push right back. You can't hide behind the group or blame the group, because the other person cannot be fooled. In other words, it is hard to be a "free-loader" in a dyad.

Simmel now considers the "expansion of the dyad," or what happens when you introduce an additional member into a two-person relationship. It could intensify the relationship, or it could distract it. And it could provoke jealousy. Once you introduce a third member into a dyad it becomes possible to overrule a member with a majority of the others. This is fine if you are a person with "strong individuality" that wants to fight rather than blend in. It's not fine for the "decided individual" that will avoid groups "where it might find itself confronted by a majority." Also, as soon as you expand a dyad into a group you risk the lowering of individuality to the group level that is particularly evident in crowds.

Thus the decisive change for a dyad is the first additional member: the first child to a marriage, but not the subsequent child. And the same applies to bigamy(!). The addition of the third wife is nothing compared to the addition of the second wife. Notice that in Rome there were two Consuls, not three. Yet there is a different relation between two political parties, where "who is not for me is against me." But when two parties dissolve into a single mass movement there is no room for opposition or disagreement. There is only "yes" and "no" for the whole collectivity.


perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/27/14 11:59 am ET


The Shallow Conceit of the North London Luvvie

BACK in the 2000s Ross Ashcroft was briefly a BBCer and then an assistant theater director. But after the crash of 2008 he has reached for bigger things and in 2012 released a documentary on all the troubles of the world, entitled Four Horsemen. It got tons of awards at film festivals. It's available on YouTube. You would expect that it to be pathetically banal and devoid of almost anything ...

 click for more


perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/26/14 1:34 pm ET


Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, Renegade Economist? Oh Please!

ONE of the talking heads on Ross Ashcroft's Four Horsemen documentary is Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, an economist who's a Reader at the University of Cambridge in England. In this video under the "Renegade Economist" brand Dr. Chang rehearses lefty talking points on "neoliberalism." I didn't really know what neoliberalism was when I watched the video; I just knew that it was a term that lefties swung ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/25/14 12:13 pm ET


Piketty: Deirdre McCloskey Weighs In

BACK in the spring the intellectual world was convulsed by a book about capitalism written by a Frenchman, Thomas Piketty. The book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century argued that the return on capital was always bigger than the economic growth rate (expressed as r > g) and this would mean that the rich would forever get richer and richer. Since the left is currently focused on "inequality" ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/24/14 12:36 pm ET


|  November blogs  |  October blogs  |

 OPED


Ferguson: Life in the Promised Land

THE FINAL PROBLEM for all political and religious movements is what to do after you get to the Promised Land. You’ve defeated the enemy, you’ve conquered the land flowing with milk and honey. What next?

What’s next is that the soldiers of the revolution should get a job, get married, and start a family. And forget all about millennial hope.

But usually they don’t. Instead they get angry.

That’s why blacks rioted in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of ...

more | 08/25/14


Let's Fight for the Nation State

Everyone that has half a brain understands that the foundations are shaking. ...

more | 08/18/14


"As President, I Will Defend Americans Against the Moral Bullies"

Aunt Peggy Frowns at the Obama Boys

Do Corporations Rule America?

Opeds


 RMC CHAPTER-A-DAY


RMC Contents
Chapter 1: After the Welfare State
Chapter 2: Down in South Carolina and Out in Brooklyn
Chapter 3: Awakenings of Monotheism
Chapter 4: The Nineteenth Century From the Top Down

THE GREAT EVENT of the second millennium was the rise of the world-historical middle class.... more


Chapter 5: The Nineteenth Century From the Bottom Up
Chapter 6: Popular Religion in the Nineteenth Century

 RMC BOOKS


RMC Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in


RMC Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present


RMC Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland


RMC Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


 READINGS:

Government and Marriage
How the War on Poverty Has Hurt American Marriage Rates

The Will To Power
Mona Charen helpfully lists Obama's previous violations of settled law.

Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist
We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed.

The DC Dem leaders hate Obama
Now they tell us.

Energy Boom Can Withstand Steeper Oil-Price Drop
names of smaller oil companies in shale plays.

> archive

 CCWUD PROJECT

cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded


 


Take the Test!

 THE PROJECT

Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Here’s how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>

 THE ARGUMENT

The Road to the Middle Class is a journey from a world of power to a world of trust and love. In religion, it is a journey from power gods that respond to sacrifice and augury to the God who makes a covenant with mankind. In education, it is a journey from the world of the spoken word to the world of the written word. In community, it is the journey from dependence on blood kin and upon clientage under a great lord to the mutual aid and the rules of the self-governing fraternal association. In law it is the journey from the violence of force and feud to the kingŽs peace, the law of contract, and private property.


 TAGS


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


Hugo on Genius

“Tear down theory, poetic systems... No more rules, no more models... Genius conjures up rather than learns... ” —Victor Hugo
César Graña, Bohemian versus Bourgeois


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Conversion

“When we received Christ,” Phil added, “all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.”
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh


Postmodernism

A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ’merely relative’, is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy


 

©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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