Friday, 29 July 2011

To study a "Granfalloon"

I was watching the Power&Politics on CBC Newsworld yesterday where a panel of political commentators were asked what they thought of the recent dragnet on alleged war criminals for summary deportation and Tom Flanagan, a politically conservative professor from U of Calgary and former advisor to Harper, said something that I found really interesting. He was clearly dismayed by the easy disregard of the legal process by Harper's minions but said that he'd reserve comment on the legality and ethics of such a development, which reminded me of Vonnegut's invention of the term, Granfalloon, in the novel, Cat's Cradle:

"a proud and meaningless association of human beings", which, as a Wikipedia entry further elaborates, is one "based on a shared but ultimately fabricated premise".

Such "associations" are not all necessarily bad and some are socially desirable but when the staple of discourse becomes solely the founding dogma of the group - as one that created and inspired that Norwegian wingnut; or, the tea party in America; or, the Taliban - its tacit satanic verse begets the mentality that the ends justifies the means.

Carl Jung said of the insideous nature of such group-think:

"Observance of customs and laws can very easily be a cloak for a lie so subtle that our fellow human beings are unable to detect it. It may help us to escape all criticism, we may even be able to deceive ourselves in the belief of our obvious righteousness. But deep down, below the surface of the average man’s conscience, he hears a voice whispering, 'There is something not right', no matter how much his rightness is supported by public opinion or by the moral code." (Introduction to Frances G Wickes’ “Analysis der Kinderseele” (The Inner World of Childhood), 1931)

This type of evil manifests in the very act of unilateral segregation of those deserving of human dignity and proper regard and those not (ie, by selective public opinion and the moral code of a given group). Now, I am no apologist for our legal and criminal justice systems, but I still believe in due process for all. I still believe in the ideals of Human Rights.


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