Ilya Shambat

Ilya Shambat
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Melbourne, VIC, Australia
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November 21
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Partner
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Adda Enterprises
Bio
Born in Russia, family moved to America when I was 12. Got a degree from University of Virginia at 18. Worked for Oracle, translated four books of classical Russian poety, was part of San Francisco and Washington, DC poetry and music scene. Good friends with San Francisco's own Persephone's Bees and acquainted with Patch Adams. Currently married with children, residing in Australia and working on a clean energy technology implementation.

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Salon.com
JANUARY 4, 2012 4:28AM

Olympia Snowe Republicans and a Biophilic Alliance

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Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican Senator, has been making overtures toward the Democratic Party. This is reflective of a deeper social trend, and it is one that should be of interest to the Democrats.

The Olympia Snowe Republicans were the yuppies and entrepreneurs of 1980s and 1990s. These people were attracted to the Republican Party for its promise of economic opportunity. After seeing the economy thrive under Clinton and fail under Bush, and after seeing the Republican Party become the force for corruption, brutality, dogmatism and insanity, these people have grown more and more disenchanted with the Republican Party. I suggest that these people should be able to work with the Democrats.

These people are capable, intelligent and know how to get things done. They have also by now lived long enough to know that cutting taxes is not the universal remedy for economic ills, that Democratic Party is not the bogeymen, and that the Christian Right is not the savior of America. They've been around when the Clinton policies that convinced the investors that it was safe to do business in America as the debt was being brought under control gave America its greatest-ever peacetime expansion, and they were also around when Bush blew a huge hole in the budget and brought the country to an economic collapse. And while most of them have been (and many are now) in higher-income tax bracket, either as professionals or as entrepreneurs, they also know that it is preferable to be in a higher income bracket and pay a slightly higher tax than it is to have slightly less tax to pay and not be in the higher income bracket.

They are also the people who do not like having the social conservatives controlling their personal behavior. Many of them are working women who are not in favor of beliefs that want women to submit to their husbands or to have to remain in a violent and abusive relationship regardless of how much of a creep the man chooses to be. Among the males, most are socially libertarian and do not want a socially conservative government or a socially conservative church controlling their private business. And neither the men nor the women in that group want Tea Party Republicans demanding that they practice their party line, live the Tea Party lifestyle or identify being American with their paranoid ideology and brutal, dishonest conduct.

These people have respect for reason, and many of them see the irrationality of the Republican party of Alex Jones and Glenn Beck. They are not in favor of irrational entities that claim that the world is run by a Satanic New World Order conspiracy, that President Obama is Adolf Hitler, or that global warming is a hoax. Nor are they in favor of irrational entities that claim that the end of the world is coming and that they need to become followers of Pat Robertson in order to be saved. And many are intelligent and knowledgeable enough to see the potential for real tyranny by these entities and the real danger these pose not only to rationality but to American democracy itself.

 Many of these people, being believers in personal responsibility, accepted Reagan's line about "welfare queens" and drug lifestyles. But very few of them would accept the Tea Party line that only the Tea Party are real Americans and that everyone else is a traitor. Very few of them would accept the idea that the working women and unattached mothers are evil, or that Internet is a tool of Satan, or that AIDS is God's way of controlling the homosexual population, or that the world is run by a Satanic conspiracy, or that it works in America's best interests to stomp on women's heads. They want economic opportunity, they want rationality, and they also want social freedom. All of these thrived under Clinton and were severely sabotaged by the Christian Evangelical Bush administration.

So that while these people are rightfully not in favor of excessive spending or regulation, they have also lived long enough to know that cutting taxes is not the economic cure-all and that there are many other factors that are crucial to economic well-being. And they have also lived long enough to know the extent to which the Republican Party is brutal, oppressive, deceptive, irrational and corrupt. Many of them have had life experience enough to know that the federal government is not the only force in America that is capable of corrupt, violent and tyrannical practices, and that private and local organs of power can be even greater danger to life and liberty. All this and more makes a strong case for these people looking to the Democratic Party.

The 1980s Reagan coalition was a coagulation of incongruous entities united only by opposition to 1960s and 1970s liberalism. And just as the FDR coalition, whose single unifying theme was opposition to the order whose failure brought about the Great Depression, was taken apart by Reagan, similarly the Reagan coalition's elements are inconsistent with one another and do not belong as part of the same political force.

At this time it is of merit for Democratic Party to look to everyone that is or will be in opposition to the Tea Party. It is not possible to work with the Tea Party; it is however possible to work with many others who have in the past voted Republican. I suggest at this time creating a single unifying purpose, and that is this:

A better world than Armageddon in our lifetime or an America run by people who hope for such a thing.

The Tea Party Republicans keep looking to 19th century, claiming that the early 20th century reforms have been unconstitutional. In fact, in 19th century, England was the greatest country in the world. America became the world's greatest country in early 20th century - the Progressive Era - the time of the aforementioned reforms. And the past that the Tea Party is claiming to be in favor of is in fact the time in which America was nowhere close to being the greatest country in the world.

So that as these people look toward a past that was completely inferior to the present, and many hope for an Armageddon in our lifetime, a better chord can be struck by looking instead toward the future. And the alternative offered is one that stands to have appeal to everyone except those who want an Armageddon in our lifetime. What am I talking about here?

I am talking about this: That both the people interested in economic prosperity and the people interested in environmental sanity are fundamentally life-affirming and want to live, enjoy and add to life. They see different aspects of life, and their strategies and priorities are vastly different for that reason, but what they have in common - and what they hold in distinction from Christian Right - is that they are biophilic rather than necrophilic, and that they both are interested in seeing a future that is not only sustainable and long-lasting, but in which they, and their children, could have a life worthy of being had. So that while the environmentally conscious focus on preserving the planet and the economically conscious focus on advancing the economy, in fact both possess a life-affirming ethic and life-affirming values.

And it is by recognizing this and speaking toward this that it then becomes possible to forge an alliance between these people: A biophilic alliance that seeks a livable long-term future.

The biophilic people - both those concerned with preserving the planet and those concerned with advancing the economy - should in fact be able to work together. Human beings, being beings of nature to the extent that they follow natural laws and beings of intellect and volition to the extent that they act deliberately, rationally have the orientation both toward the world of nature that people have not created and toward the world of civilization that people have. Human existence is enhanced by having both worlds in a good shape. So benefiting human existence comes from allowing people to have access to both worlds, and for both worlds to be in the best shape that they can be. And that means doing as much as one can to advance people's knowledge, prosperity, liberty and convenience, while doing as much as one can to do minimal harm to nature. The interest of life - the interest that is biophilic - is therefore concerned with doing as much as one can to both advance people's economic well-being and to preserve the planet.

Both preserving the planet and advancing the economy is accomplished through transition from inefficient, destructive technologies to technologies that are intelligent, efficient and environmentally sane. Both preserving the planet and advancing the economy is accomplished through economic practices that add as much as possible while destroying as little as possible - through solutions that are high in intellect and low in poison - through brain-intensive economic practices that maximize ingenuity and minimize destruction and waste. There are many in business who are in denial of their destructive effect on the planet and on other people, and there are those in environmentalism who think that technology, business and economic growth is the problem. Both are wrong. The problem is wrong technology, bad business practices, and economic short-sightedness; and it is fixed by better technology and more prudent, more responsible, more intelligent and more ethical business practices.

In addition, biophilic people share this: An interest in and respect for personal freedom. This, once again, is in stark opposition to necrophilic creeds. This too can and should be the point of commonality between the biophilic people who focus on life in its natural, not human-made, aspect, and the biophilic people who focus on life in its human-made aspect of civilization.

None of these people - either the Olympia Snowe Republicans or the environmentally conscious - want an end of the world in our lifetime. None of these people want their children to have a worse world than have had they. They focus on different aspects of the world, but what they both want is a livable world; and it is in this that is their area of commonality. Which means that, when faced with forces that want to see the world destroyed in our lifetime, these biophilic entities can and should stand together against such entities and work to create for humanity a livable, beautiful, free and sustainable long-term future.

 

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