Totalitarian thinking

So I am back from a nice vacation in Croatia and I will post in English for a change. In Croatia I read the book "A brilliant shortcoming" (Een schitterend gebrek) from Arthur Japin, which I found very beautiful. I will post some quotes of it later about tolerance.

Now first here is one more post from Orkut. As far as I know the person who wrote it doesn't know Levinas' philosophy, but it does somehow show exactly what Levinas means, the way Levinas speaks about totality as opposed to infinity.
So we were talking about why dictatorships are bad...

"I'd say it's actually worth thinking about, but you have to push the idea even further, because it will be very revealing, not just for the dictatorship, but for any political organization. No matter how many people set out to use state power - including in a democracy - and no matter how well intentioned they are, things will always turn out in unexpected ways. It is very important for people to understand the why and of those often perverse side effects, to understand that any fixation on a desired outcome is bound to fail. Complex systems simply cannot be "managed". An individual human being is already an incredibly complex system. Take a whole society and add a real-world environment and the task of achieving anything through top-down control becomes simply absurd. Outcomes will never even be close to what was intended. Actually, anyone who ever had to deal with children should know that: strict rules are made to be broken, while parents who are flexible, coherent (i.e. do the things they say) and explain things properly can educate their kids to be quite independent and responsible. The same principle applies everywhere: good results can only be achieved if individuals act in a responsible way out of their own decision, which requires that those individuals must be able to achieve their own ends and not subordinate their desires to some mythical "greater good". The greater good is the fulfillment of each individual, not the good of "society", the species or the planet nor a better life for a proverbial "future generations".

And in my post below this one I said:
"As I said before I do a PhD about Emmanuel Levinas. His most important work is "Totality and Infinity". He describes how a relation becomes ethical when one person meets another person. Individual rights and freedom (and responsibility!), which means that people should always respect each other as individuals and humans, are very central and important in his philosophy. It is one big protest against totalitarian thinking and acting, both at the individual level and at a group / society or even world level. It's very good how he explains why totalitarian thinking is immoral and how negative the consequences are both at a micro and a macro level. Human beings shouldn't be dehumanized, it is one of the most serious ways to harm somebody. It can never be justified as a means to achieve a higher end, because if what you do is so fundamentally wrong from the beginning, the final result that it leads to can never be justice."
Lendo o texto de minha amiga Esther, e concordo com ela, sobre a Bandeira da discriminação e intolerância que vem ocorrendo em todo mundo Ocidental em relação aos muçulmanos e não somente em relação aos terroristas, que é à parte mal da história.Vivo em uma nação onde não se discrimina muçulmano, porque o número de seguidores da religião Islã no Brasil é insignificante,mas temos sim problemas de racismo, entre Brancos e negros, e brasileiros do Sul desenvolvido e do Nordeste subdesenvolvido.E como um cidadão negro, digo que o preconceito é uma das piores ferida existente entre nós, seres humanos. Onde culpamos o outro, por nossas frustrações,e aquilo nos alimenta de ódio.Muito preocupa ver a tecnologia avançando, a ciência evoluindo, e antigas doenças, como o preconceito, ir atravessando os séculos e sendo mais forte do que a razão humana.É bom e vejo com otimismo pessoas como minha amiga Esther, levantando essa bandeira de “não ao preconceito e discriminação”.Querem-se realmente um mundo melhor, devemos cada um de nós, ser uma “Esther”,e redirecionarmos nossos pensamentos, para o que é bom, para a igualdade, em um mundo onde não se olhe a cor da pele e nem a religião,apenas se olhe o ser humano, individualmente,não querer julgar um povo, uma nação, por causa de poucos doentes fanáticos que eventualmente faça parte de determinado grupo.Certamente como negro, e fazendo parte de um dos grupos mais discriminado do planeta eu digo:O mundo teria mais paz, se cada um de nós tivesse uma pequena parte da coragem humana de “Esther Langen”

Vlamir Pereira

I read the text of my friend Esther, and I agree with it. Under the flag of discrimination and intolerance, which doesn’t only exist from people of the west against Muslims (and in relation to terrorists who represent the bad side of history) but also in many other forms. Living in a nation where Muslims are not much discriminated, because the number of followers of the Islam religion in Brazil is insignificant, we do have serious problems with racism, between whites and blacks, and between Brazilians of the developed northeast and the underdeveloped south. As a black citizen I say that the prejudices of … have wounded the existing ones between us, human beings. If we blame the other for our frustrations, it feeds them with hatred. It worries me a lot to see the technology advancing and science evolving, but at the same time that this old disease of prejudices and discrimination is getting stronger while crossing the centuries and that it’s stronger than the good human reason. And I see with optimism people like my friend Esther, raising this flag of "say no to prejudices and discrimination". If we really want a better world, we must each one of us be an "Esther", and to redirect our thoughts, about what is good, for the equality, in a world where the colour of the skin and the religion don’t matter, where we only look at human beings, a united nation, against the few fanatic sick people who will eventually disappear of this world as a group. As I am surely a black man, and being part of one of the groups which are the most discriminated on the planet, I say: Our world would have more peace, if each one of us had a small part of the brave humanism of “Esther Langen”.

Vlamir Pereira
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