The Dark Side of Progress
Throughout the year we have discussed many of the conceivable ways to classify individuals as members of one group or another: establishing boundaries and creating insiders and outsiders for our society. This semester’s contributing authors have raised claim to a multitude of arguments for including this or that group. Dr. Kirkpatrick raised a very controversial yet arguably sound point last week that stuck with me in a profound way; in one way or another, all democracies employ exclusions at one point or another. No one seems to be coming forth and saying “come, everyone, and help make decisions regarding my future and livelihood,” I would not be alone in arguing this may be a positive reality, as mob rule is a terrifying force. Where I may be alone is the question; is this a good thing? Does the process of erecting barriers challenge outsiders to thrust inward, driving innovation and pushing forward the evolution of society as a whole?
This ostracization immediately creates outsiders who will inevitably band together into likeminded groups, a majority of which will strive for inclusion. Many of these groups may loosely conform to Madison’s classification of a ‘faction’ while simultaneously meriting admittance to Shklar’s definition of a productive citizen. Multitudes cross oceans or travel thousands of miles to strike a chance at being included. No matter where they hail from, once they are in within reasonable proximity to warrant inclusion, they will band together, form communities with similar interests and bide time, waiting for subsumption. Yet within every group, a few will be unwilling to wait. The brightest and most ambitious of every ‘faction’ will strive to push their group or groups into the limelight of citizenry, bringing forth eloquent, intelligent arguments for admittance. Great works of thought and action are born in the hopes of obtaining equality. Great leaders are created and progress is earned. Without struggle, without something to overcome, would anyone ever rise to greatness?
Of course, it is worth arguing that even without the struggle for civic inclusion or equality, every age is faced with titanic quandaries in need of solving. Perhaps during the generations our great thinkers spend arguing for equality and justice we could have solved hunger or cured a handful of crippling diseases.
There is no question that adversity is no mere human creation, and there ought to be a multitude of problems every faction, regardless of inclusion, could agree towards eliminating. Maybe I am just being an optimist, believing we can all get along. No matter what we agree or disagree on, there is no question that misfortune brings a group together, that a common enemy will create alliances, and bring out the best and worst mankind has to offer.