Exclusion

Stephen C. Rose
Apr 12, 2015 · 6 min read

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Not long ago I launched an idea called Triadic Philosophy. It is summarized in Triadic Philosophy 100 Aphorisms available at the Kindle Store.. It grew into several more books. Exclusion is a chapter in a successor work in progress called “The Collapse of Leadership”.

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We have been descending the ladder, flagging the values that mark the presence of evil in the mix we call reality. It is not an easy descent, particularly in this time, when we see religion almost as a negative force, the province of persons who seem to show not merely intolerance but a will to do serious, even terminal harm.

We would like to think, as liberated souls, that the hand of judgment avoids us, limiting itself to those who clearly deserve some comeuppance. But our choice of values is relentless and I believe accurate. And it snares us all to one degree or another.

Here in descending order are the ten indices of evil, AKA negative values, that can be shown to be universal in all respects, touching every person bar none:

And there at number six is “excluding”.

Why there? Beneath ganging up? Above intolerance?

Ganging up involves not merely gang members but all groups which, knowingly or not, inflict harm on others. Intolerance also casts a wide net. But between these two, exclusion is a specific set of evils whose presence is largely ignored, but abundantly justified.

Here are three specific forms of exclusion.

Implicit

This is is exclusion based on implicit boundaries, largely unquestioned, even deemed reasonable.

We do not think it is OK to walk into the precincts of a prison or a military base or even to wander onto land owned by someone. The private sign tends to rule.

Such exclusion extends to national boundaries and every other boundary that seems to simply exist, as a matter of right.

But if we are truly free to raise the universal question, Who says?

Who sets limits?

Why does one part of Timor have the power to menace the other half? Why cannot a human being travel at will? Who decrees that one must be a refugee, a deportee, a trespasser?

Implicit exclusion clearly creates conditions of evil by the consistent and prevalent denial of human rights to those who are deemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

This does not even address anomalies in the execution of laws regarding what is public and what is private.

Roads for example have been given over to privately owned-vehicles that essentially preempt them. Highways running through populated areas create design realities for millions who must adjust their living to the reality of cars.

Surely the authority of the free individual, multiplied by the population of the globe, can issue a small peep to signal a question when the idolatry of roads results in the regular slaughter of children on the way to school.

We do not live in a fixed environment when it comes to exclusion. Times change. Realities must change as well.

Explicit

There is exclusion based on choice and intention in which the exclusion is made part of the character or appeal of an enterprise. Membership is a key word for such exclusion. Country clubs. Schools. Associations. Groups. Anything you need to register for.

The number of engagements that involve explicit exclusion is legion.

In many if not most instances the exclusion is accepted as a matter of course. We do not assume that you can walk into a college and take a seat in the back row of the lecture hall or do the same in a board room of a business or get a seat in a restaurant that takes reservations. If the exclusion is not implicit it is made explicit soon enough. The most common form of exclusion is admission to an event. No ticket no get in. I was there! Becomes more and more valuable to the psyche as years elapse between the event and now.

It is hard to say at what point explicit exclusion becomes harmful.

We know it is harmful on college campuses where fraternities and sororities both exclude members and subject their exclusive newcomers to hazing. We know that some athletic pursuits that admit persons with certain talents will cause a number of physical and mental injuryies. And we are painfully aware that military recruits are subject not merely to injury but death.

Explicit exclusion is hardly the sole cause of military deaths. One does not die because one was excluded from service. But the sense of belonging and camaraderie associated with being one of the chosen is clearly an inducement to join and thus a partner in the creation of the conditions of the most extreme harm. Hazing is transmuted in military operations into what is charitably seen as training. But any awareness of its actuality must be tinged with a heavy layer of revulsion at the dehumanizations and humiliations that result.

The prevalent move these days to extreme self-care has its own aspects of exclusion. One is essentially opting to join an ever-more exclusive number of those who have survived this or that pummelling and assault on the human body. One is no more meant to inflict pain on oneself than on others. We seem to be party to a culture of explicit exclusion in which the excluded are all whose suffering is not up to snuff.

Invidious

This is exclusion which is clearly and obviously contrary to decency and justice and rights. It is the sum of all actions and expressions whether “legal” documents or the rantings of partisans or the injuries, mental and physical, inflicted by enforcers.

Invidious exclusion is the impulse behind the existence of massive refugee operations and forced migrations.

It is the goal of all efforts to deny rights that are due to all.

A textbook example is the plethora of voter-suppression efforts underway in the United States. These are invidious exclusions that would be overturned by a fair and just Supreme Court.

The truly injurious forms of invidious exclusion are not the result of established efforts. They are the spontaneous expressions and actions of often amorphous groupings that we might call cliques or, consistent with the previous entry, gangs. In such cases the overt sign of the behavior is that of exclusion. On the primal level it is the “you can’t play with us” syndrome. It is the fruit of a bullying mentality. It can exist as an activity within families. It exists in societies such as churches or schools or clubs.

Among its weapons are secrets, slurs and actual slanders. The language of scorn is part and parcel of invidious exclusion.

There is a final form of exclusion which may be the most invidious of all.

It is an error of mind. It is a betrayal of consciousness. And its consequences establish exclusion as among the worst of evils.

I speak of theological exclusion which in our time has secular expressions as well. It is the mode of thought which divides humanity into saved and damned. It is part and parcel of inherited Christian orthodoxy. It is also found within Islam. It is less pronounced in the third branch of Abrahamic religion, Judaism.

This mode of thinking is universal and ultimately beyond religion. It is related to the nature of reality itself. There is no basis within reality for making any divisions which consign anyone to a fate beyond what can be documented and accepted as universal. This makes genocide the very worst of evil acts and consigns all thought which creates divisions of damned and saved to oblivion. There is no final basis for excluding any person from whatever common fate we all share.

This is the ultimate reason why exclusion belongs not to the good values but in the midst of those values whose expression and practice leads to the very worst evils.

The collapse of leadership relates closely to the forms of exclusion we have discussed. Nationalism is the model for implicit exclusion and while one may argue that the state is a necessary instrument, I would argue that it needs to be replaced by a world of local democracies that modifies and reduces the toxic aspects of nation and statehood. Explicit exclusion is the mandate of many if not most leaders in today’s world. And invidious exclusion is the tactic and strategy if any leader who operates to promote invidious objectives. The honor given to leaders today needs to be withdrawn to the extent that the evils noted here are part of their MO.

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Stephen C. Rose

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