Wednesday, July 27, 2011

An Intersection

From time to time, I am chastised by one or more readers for mixing the philosophies of Taoism and Socialism in my writings on this blog. I don't think a person can find a post I've written where I have unequivocally stated that a Taoist must be a Socialist and every Socialist must be a Taoist. It just so happens that I am both.

While I think a clear line can be drawn between Taoist thought and socialism, the same can be true for libertarian and anarchist theory as well. As with most classic documents, the works of the Taoist sages represent a conglomeration of several schools of thought and, therefore, cannot be pigeonholed into one political ideology or another.

That said, while I believe that philosophical Taoism is consistent with many strains of socialism, libertarianism and anarchism, I do not believe the same argument can be extended to capitalism. The main themes of this philosophy are at loggerheads with the dictates of the ideology.

Capitalism embraces competition, while Taoism stresses cooperation. Capitalism exalts the individual, while Taoism stresses the community. Capitalism celebrates separation, while Taoism speaks of interconnection. Capitalism is built on the edifice of desire, while Taoism teaches to let go of desire. On point after point, neither the means nor the ends are congruent.

In my mind, this lack of congruency explains why Taoism has never taken hold in western society. From our earliest moments, we are taught that God is a capitalist and, whether or not we deem ourselves religious, this early lesson remains in our subconscious. It colors the way we view the world. Any philosophy or ideology that runs counter to it too often is dismissed out of hand.

Perspectives like Taoism and socialism are more readily explored and accepted by society's outcasts, people who march to the beat of a different drummer. I certainly fall into this category as I am a weird mixture of autism and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Because I already view life differently from the average person, I am probably more open to alternative philosophies.

And that goes a long way toward explaining why my writings on this blog are a mixture of Taoism and socialism.

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