Enlightenment came to replace the traditional idea of living with a modem community. The community, later turned into a society embraced new norms and values based on political and ethical doings. The new society aimed at ending individualism by promoting uniformity, freedom, and equality. Uniformity achieved other undesired traits amongst the community members hence the need for modernization. Modernization required democracy and development which although was attained to some level has never gone to envisioned phase. Therefore, embracing enlightenment required the formation of the new society and its transformative modernization.
Major Questions/ Issues Addressed
Purpose of Enlightenment
When the enlightenment movement was introduced in the 17th and 18th centuries, it aimed at criticizing particularism and advocating for communism. As it hoped to model political and ethical theory, enlightenment received a rejection. Injunctions introduced to promote religious tolerance and reduce political conflicting debate also encouraged social engineering programs. The need for uniformity required certain reforms in political institutions which allowed errors before enlightenment. Behavior as opposed to action is what makes a society because people’s lives are composed of repetitive behaviors. After the uniformity formed the community, the community then turned to society which also practiced commerce. Society made women enlightened, conscious, coldhearted, and free from male domination. Trade, initially made for equality developed selfishness, human suffering, and the need for pity in the society.
Societal Settings and Morals
As the new society tried to conform to the new societal norms, sociological traditions conflicted with their moral judgments. In the efforts to separate politics from ethical judgment, the enlightenment enthusiast, Marx mentioned that ethical absolute was not to be used in politics. Engels and Marx believed that history worked alongside equality, individual freedom, and enlightenment hence did not dig deep into the moral ends. Marx had so much to say about the road to socialism. He mentioned that not all countries had to go through the bourgeois stage on their way to socialism. The defining factor for such conditions was based on the hypocrisy of political leaders.
Modernization was needed to answer the theory of Marxism democracy is always needed for societal development. Modernization entails urbanization, media growth, and literacy stages of economic development. Consequently, modernization allowed new experiences, independence from traditional figures, beliefs in science and medicine, attention to a nuclear family, and interest in politics. The expected or envisioned modernization during the enlightenment period has never been achieved. The ongoing modernization has inadequacies that make it look like a worn-out house.
Metaphors and their Explanations
The chapter has two metaphors about action and modernization as justified in the analysis. The first metaphor says, “Action is aware of itself” (Lasch 133). In the description of how action and behavior form a society, the author mentions that action is aware of itself in terms of unconscious, behavior, and habitual aspects. Action is the ability to initiate or make new beginnings while behavior sticks to an already formed set of actions. Thus, forming a society entails taking actions towards new beginnings and making them habitual for creating a behavior. It is through these behaviors that people will form a new society. In terms of communication ethics, actions have consequences, whether intentional or intentional (Cheney et al. 66). When humans choose to do right, they already know they will have positive consequences. Thus, action is aware of itself means that the consequences are well known to the doer. This metaphor shows the power of action choice based on the awareness of their consequences.
The second metaphor is about modernization and how inadequate the concept has been achieved. Lasch states that modernization is a “deserted mansion, its paint peeling, its windows were broken, its chimneys falling, its sills rotting” (162). The metaphor of modernization as a house in a worn-out state shows how poorly modernization has been attained compared to what enlightenment expected. The author adds that the only people fit to live in that house are fugitives, transients, and squatters.
Ethical communication explains the metaphor from the unethical perspective of society. The type of people fit to live in the torn house says everything about the unethical state of modernization. Fugitives, transients, and squatters are lost people who would live anywhere for survival but not satisfaction. Modernization corrupted the traditional norms and values of society. Therefore, in terms of ethical communication, following the society’s actions, modernization is an unethical aspect (Cheney et al. 72). This metaphor shows the unethical state of today’s world as caused by modernization.
The Populist Campaign against “Improvement”
The populist campaign shows that a democratic system is made up of corruption and selfishness. Civic humanism, which puts human needs at the center is the only solution to democracy. Republican virtues demand diving into commerce to prevent the nation from declining. Commerce, which introduced wage labor sought to unite the nation with foreign countries for development. Other forms of skills in the working-class platform would emerge, including artisan. Thus, as the current national state is catastrophic the populists seek to bring back civic humanism.
Major Questions/ Issues Addressed
Concepts of Civic Humanism
The populist campaign against the improvement involves the discovery of civic humanism which advocates for the rejection of the corrupt and selfish spirit that runs the ruling system. The founding fathers installed republic virtue as the way to revive civic humanism. Civic humanism advocates for human rights and the good interest of a nation’s citizens. Borrowing the concepts of Tom Paine in adopting republican virtue, the study tells that commerce is efficient as it promotes intimate connection and links with foreign nations. From a republican view, a country declines in six stages, “commerce, opulence, luxury, effeminacy, cowardice, and slavery” (Lasch 181). It is only by upholding republic virtues that a country could revive civic humanism.
How to Achieve Civic Humanism
Politics and religion have to divorce for a country to achieve civic humanism. Religion has many times brought a country’s political system down as it demands peace, which although is good, justice is better. The study examines the political understandings of Paine, Cobbett, and Brownson and concludes that populist is a more concerning circulation of commodities to the citizens than the ways to produce them. Wage labor when introduced received rejection terming it as an idea of slavery. However, the populist idea is that the nation is the capital and the people must be humble servants of the state to receive the wages of their labor. In the 19th century, wage labor was accepted as an inevitable feature of capitalism. Politics can only become capitalism without religious moral judgment.
Development of Working Class
The improvement of wage labor led to the rediscovery of artisans who dominated the working class. Artisans stood against innovation because as they struggled to save their work, they blamed government institutions for poor production. Shopkeepers, farmers, and artisans felt that the agrarian movement threatened their ability to pass their skills to the next generations. The 19th-century populism takes responsibility for tragic ending with missed opportunities, fatal choices, and conclusive defeats. Populism state that history should have a happy ending hence, the current prospect is a catastrophe. Working-class as figured by populism needs ideal improvement in terms of production.
Metaphors and their Explanations
In the discussion of what would make Paine a republican, the study used a metaphor to refer to what Paine felt about the ruling system. The metaphor, “baleful institution” of monarchy is used in the text (Lasch 177). Baleful means threatening or menacing in evil or destructive way. The metaphor gives the institution the power to attack and destroy as told by Paine. The description of the institution by Paine is about the corruption and selfishness practiced by the democratic system. Ethical communication would interpret the institution as one that practices a morally wrong culture. A destructive action would morally qualify as wrong and unethical (Cheney et al. 71). Thus, the institution is involved in unethical practices which makes it impure and dangerous. This metaphor shows the unethical state of the nation’s institutions.
The second metaphor was developed from Cobbertt’s opinion referring the commerce as intended to unify the nation with foreign countries. In contrast, Cobbett felt that commerce was another source of “contagious effeminacy” (Lasch 181). The metaphoric concept gives effeminacy the ability to spreading from a person to another through contact. Effeminacy or the act of having female qualities found in a man is expected to be spread from one country to another. The effeminacy situation here shows undesired or wrong characteristics of a man. Thus, if the country accepts commerce, it accepts the wrong manly characteristics. In terms of ethical communication, anything contagious is wrong and dangerous (Cheney et al. 72). From that perspective, the action of entering to commerce to leverage with other countries is morally wrong. This metaphor shows the degradation of ethics in international relations.
Cheney, George, et al. The Handbook of Communication Ethics. Routledge, 2011.
Lasch, Christopher. The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics. New York: W.W. Norton &Co. (ISBN: 978-0393307955), 1991.