Daily Bread for 3.9.23: Whitewater Has More Than Us and Them

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with a probability of snow in the evening, and a high of 38. Sunrise is 6:15 AM and sunset 5:54 PM for 11h 38m 54s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 96.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1776, The Wealth of Nations by Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith is published.

Whitewater is a small town. Larger than nearby places, but still small as against other Wisconsin cities, Midwestern cities, or cities farther afield. Small, but larger than two, so to speak: it’s an error to think that Whitewater is merely us and them, those for us and those agin us. Any analysis that rests on two factions within Whitewater (whether political or social) is deficient. 

See the FREE WHITEWATER series on local politics for the number of political factions alone; there are many other apolitical groups of all sorts. 

Where an Old Whitewater outlook once falsely contended the city was one way, the city is now evidently (and from my point of view felicitously) many ways.

It’s characteristic of populism, for example, to define conditions dichotomously. (A second characteristic is falsely to claim majoritarian support. Populists mix lies with the truth to inflate their own significance. Their most essential trait, however, is to claim contrary positions as intrinsically illegitimate.)     

Populism is emotional, often intensely so. In its conduct, populism, at least, vindicates Hobbes’s view that that reason is a spy for the passions, so that “the Thoughts, are to the Desires, as Scouts, and Spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things Desired.”

Churchill, quoting a saying of others, once remarked to the U.S. Congress that

The proud German army has by its sudden collapse, sudden crumbling and breaking up, unexpected to all of us, the proud German army once again proves the truth of the saying “The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet.” 

So it is with populism: split in both outlook and in demeanor. 

From my reply, this morning, to a comment: Sorting out the right ongoing response requires careful thought for those of us not disposed to cultural conflicts of this kind in Whitewater. One adjusts and fortifies when it is necessary to adjust and fortify.  

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