ApPlication of Peter Berger
Key Principles of Peter L. Berger: Vis a Vis Sociology of and the Sociology of Knowledge as they Relate to Social Roles, Social Stratification, Social Inequality, and Justice, Peter J. Jessen, Reader, 1993
Getting results from a “contestation” between competing public policy idea sets
EXCERPTS FROM: Solution Paper #44, posted May 21, 2011, Guidelines for Including Justice in Planning Meetings to Calculate a Better Future for Minneapolis in terms of education, jobs, housing and public safety, by engaging in a “ contestation” between competing public policy idea sets.
How do we get there?
Do we follow the modern response of tolerance that comes with pluralism or the intolerance that comes from one or more of the singular fundamentalisms, be it political or religious? Pluralism, the rule of the West, is under attack from the East, especially from Islam, because they have no concept of pluralism; thus, they can’t think in terms of tolerance or more than one road to the truth of the transcendent, believing steadfastly that their way is the only way. In their mindset, they are willing to self-destruct as martyrs, en masse, if need be, in the attempt to eliminate us. They not only want to push Israel into the sea; they want to push us there as well. They can do no other. Indeed, their doctrine of Taqlid, that no truth exists beyond that of revealed in the Koran, means that they either have to continue until they self destruct or until they are saved the way the Roman Catholic church was saved, with a Reformation (which then impacted back upon the Roman Catholic Church with the counter-reformation, leading, in another unintended consequence, to most of the changes Martin Luther championed).
It is the reverse in Minneapolis: the Taqlid is about the White Way, as it is the inner city Blacks, especially the young Black men, who are singled out for martyrdom by White policies and practices that deny them the access and opportunity to move up and support themselves and their families and communities. This is the fundamentalism of White racism.
Yet I still have hope. For what could me more awesome than coming into contact with other ways. And so, by seeing the other ways, we are confronted with the greatest and worst part of being modern: choice. Indeed, the word comes from the Greek verb hairein, from which we get our word heresy. Those who claim that the choices of others are heresy make a claim of truth. So, whose truth? We can choose to follow the radical, murderous, intolerant and exclusive versions of our favorite historically specific religion/ideology/political/ truth system, or we can chose to follow the historically non-specific path of tolerance and inclusion, using a calculus of meaning and a calculus of pain to resolve the contests between the different world views before us from which we can choose. Capitalism and democracy are a choice for the historically non-specific. Others are a choice of the historically specific. And so, dear reader, what have you chosen? And if you haven’t chosen, what will you choose?
We act in bad faith when we say we were born into hatred or a sense of superiority over others. We learned it. And thus at some point we have to face the reality that we know the difference and that where we stand is based on our choice. By what standard do we justify our choices if they have resulted in continued impoverishment of the poor and continued poor education for Blacks and other minorities? How do we justify our choices in light of these outcomes? How do we stand on the debate between individuals being sovereign or a people being sovereign, a question phrased this way in the New York Times on August 4, 2002, by Al Gore:
There has always been a debate over the destiny of this nation between those who believed they were entitled to govern because of their station in life, and those who believed that the people were sovereign. That distinction remains as strong as ever today.
These are good words. We should all adhere to them. And thus each November (and in the primaries preceding them) we are all faced with a choice when we vote for candidates for public office. My choice is to vote for those who would devolve political power to the community so it can better achieve the YESes and turn back the NOs as the instruments of federal and state policy so that, continuing from the above speech by Al Gore, [federal and state and city policy] are “used for the benefit of the many, rather than the few.”