A Case for
Positive Affiliation


Dec. 2002

In a culture of hyper-consumerism, one where the labels on one's shirt serve as one's constitution—or at least one's declaration of individuality—it is a sign of cultural decadence that also seen throughout society is an abundance of acronyms for organizations including the words "against" or "opposed" or "anti."

Negative affiliation is the uniting force of not a few clubs, organizations or groups—witness the anti-war rallies in early 2003 or any other modern wartime for that matter. Supermodels band together to stop the fur trade, musicians band together to stop pollution, environmentalists lobby to stop all kinds of things. It seems that opposition to something makes for a greater force than support for it. It's a wonder anything exists at all. The pervasiveness of negative affiliation is seen in the daily remarks of those who define themselves by the foods they cannot eat due to allergies or hypochondria. The extent of the tendency is seen in those militants who oppose abortion with their own form of murder and those who oppose freedom and democracy by suicide bombing.

It would be unfair to claim that positive affiliation does not exist in modern America. Consider the many registered voters who associate with a political party or the annual award shows that promote certain artists and their works. Granted, positive affiliation does exist, but always present and not too far from the positive is the urge to negate. In the case of politics, a voter might register as a Republican or Democrat, but the general mood come election time is that one votes for the "lesser of two evils" and there is always the Green Party voter who just votes so that one of the big two doesn't win—a trend becoming more and more popular. With instances like The Academy Awards or Grammies, so few people are actually the ones doing the sponsorship of a film or album that the promotion can easily be veiled by the numerous critics, professional or not, who spend most of their time disparaging the works as if they could do better. What makes negative affiliation so easy and its consequences so urgent will serve as the direct focus of this treatise—the benefits of positive affiliation and a general promotion of things will be the overarching goal.

To begin, a clarification on the phrase "negative affiliation" is needed on two accounts, especially as it compares to general disapproval or constructive criticism. Whereas the latter two practices separate the subject from the critic, or at least offer the possibility of objective critique, the former practice relates the subject to the critic fundamentally. The anti-war protester is not a good journalist on the Iraq war because of this fact. His stance on the war is who he is and therefore he will be forced to maintain this stance throughout his existence. The unbiased judge of the situation, on the other hand, can change his stance given sufficient reason. In addition to having this fundamental association between subject and critic, one who subscribes to negative affiliation is one who must have that which he opposes in order to thrive. That is, war must exist in order for the anti-war protester to make his way in front of the White House, sign in hand. It is quite unlikely that the protesters of the second Iraq war were picketing and flooding the phone lines of NPR in 1998 when war was not as familiar a possibility. On the other hand, one who merely disapproves of war can exist freely in peacetime and actually move to prevent it.

I assert these two distinctions in order to alleviate any possible misinterpretation concerning the work of social commentators such as myself and even this piece, itself. I aim to delineate a disapproval of the practice of negative affiliation and I will do so by criticizing it as thoroughly as possible. The reason I am not guilty of hypocritical negative affiliation is that 1.) my condemnation of the practice is not how I characterize myself (i.e. I am not an anti-antitheticist) and 2.) the extinction of negative affiliation would not hinder my existence in the least for reasons I will uncover before the end of this essay. Disapproval is simply a tool I use to lead us from the imperfect present to the perfect future.

With that being said, one would surely have a hard time finding anyone who would proclaim himself as one who is characterized by that which he condemns and exists only because of the existence of his opposition. What a lowly creature such a person would be—riddled with contradiction, empowered by discord. No one with a degree of social conscience would grant this when explained so straightforwardly. Beyond the social aspect, an argument could well be made for the notion that it is even impossible for anyone at all to consist of mere antithesis—that to be a human requires many components some of which must form a reservoir of positive or at least neutral affiliation.

Concerning the social aspect, it is probable that upon skimming this topic, the average citizen will conclude on the virtues of positive affiliation and the disagreeableness of the negative kind. It is for the wrong reason. Most people would censure negative affiliation because to them, negativity is bad. The social consensus is that one who thinks positively is good and one who thinks negatively is just pessimistic or depressed, both bad. In this regard, the majority lump together negative affiliation and judgment (the overarching term for the two aforementioned alternatives to negative affiliation, disapproval and constructive criticism). The rejection of all things negative is a consequence of the tyrannical blind tolerance made concrete by the Baby Boomer culture. In it, judgment was the evil, not the judged. To look at something critically was to be pretentious, elitist, bigoted and what equaled the worst vilification, conservative. Most who have lived in the Boomer culture would eagerly portray himself or herself as the tolerant peace lover for this reason.

The rationale behind this portrayal is flawed. Man is neither creative nor virtuous without proper judgment as he denies the goals that inspire and motivate him and accepts the deficient things in life as his own. He is self-indulgent and self-destructive without discrimination—two characteristics that served somewhere before the Boomers' revolution as an initial catalyst for the move toward a more tolerant mentality. The case for judgment is one that requires more than this, but notwithstanding a viable justification for the elimination of judgment, the majority of Americans who cling to the Boomer tolerance remain mistaken. That is because few, if any can remove judgment from their mentality. Judgment is a natural consequence of pleasure and pain, benefit and harm. People remain as judgmental as ever, the thing that is new with this "tolerance" is the subject of judgment. Nowadays, the subject of the judgment is no longer those who have traditionally been judged—the meek, the poor, the different—but rather those who have traditionally been the judges—the strong, the rich, the status quo. It is the latter who are bad and the former who are virtuous in this age of the anti-hero. Somehow, this reversal of stance amounts to the elimination of judgment to the masses and established is the gratification of fulfilling a popular generation's conquests.

As a consequence, those self-gratifying many convey an absolute tolerance without exemption from the acceptable disapproval or constructive criticism as well as the unacceptable negative affiliation. This hypocrisy does not go unnoticed with the dedicated analysis offered here though will likely persist without exposure in typical social interaction. This analysis is at least successful in revealing the possibility for the existence of those who meet the two requirements of negative affiliation.

With respect to the notion that it would be impossible for one's self to be limited to any one negative affiliation, I offer the following contention. It is true that no human can merely be characterized as one antithetical attribute such as anti-war or anti-leather or allergic to cats. One must also be a worker, a sleeper and an eater to maintain humanness. Such necessities are neutral if not positive. Furthermore, one cannot be characterized by a single characterization at all, antithetical or otherwise, as humanness consists in countless things. This requisite quantity of characterizations encompasses the fact that a person might possess two affiliations opposing in their polarity. That is, one may be anti-war at the same time as being pro-peace. So, how is it even a possibility for one to be a negative affiliator?

Everything that one does or thinks has an end to it. That end is most likely both a positive and a negative goal at the same time—something toward which the action or thought moves and something away from which it moves. For example, Voltaire's Candide has a positive goal or a general movement towards what would later be described as the Enlightenment and a negative one in its movement away from the organized religions of the 18th century. This book reveals most clearly what is true in everything—the presence of a positive or negative goal. It is true because everything that may be considered a goal has something that opposes it. If one moves toward the light, they move away from the darkness; if something becomes more beautiful, it becomes less ugly; if one becomes more civilized, one becomes less barbarous and so on.

With that said, no action or thought could be considered fully either positive or negative. But despite Candide's movement toward Enlightenment, it would be safe to say that the repute it holds and the repute Voltaire maintains is that of a cynical denigrator of old, corrupted institutions and blind, careless following. Voltaire affiliated himself with the negation of those institutions and citizens. Whether it was necessary to impugn them to achieve a higher goal of Enlightenment, for example, yields to Voltaire's fundamental association with that impugnation.

Voltaire's negative affiliation implies a broader conjecture considering his being the voice of the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment as a whole may be measured as negative affiliation for the same reasons Voltaire was. The direction of the movement was away from the aforementioned institutions and citizens as well as slavery and oppression of women more than it was toward new religious institutions, citizenship, human rights and gender equality. In the essay that won a contest to define Enlightenment published in the Prussian Konigsberg in 1784, Immanuel Kant stated that "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity." With a bold remonstration of dependent being, Kant proves that Enlightenment was a movement "from" something negative, not toward something positive.

Negative affiliation does not contradict positive association—they coexist necessarily in every action or thought. When either is stressed more than the other, the result is the characterization of the action or thought by that stressed characterization.

Voltaire's Candide stressed the move away from religion and so, it should be considered negative affiliation. Enlightenment as a whole stressed the move away from intellectual immaturity, it too should be considered negative affiliation. It is a bold declaration that a whole cultural movement is negative in nature, but the inclination of negative affiliation is a very powerful force. As described above, the movements that typify the tendency—anti-pollution, anti-fur, anti-abortion, anti-war—can generate extremely emotional, sometimes violent behavior.

Negative affiliation unites people with assertive swiftness rarely found with movements of a positive ambition. What about negative affiliation prompts such enthusiasm? The combination of two main factors anchor the urgency presented by negative affiliation—innate human needs and fear. People associate themselves negatively first of all because such affiliation is a product of some oppression of basic, physiological needs or, rather, the emancipation from that oppression. When one realizes one's health might be at risk such is the case when anti-pollution, anti-SUV or anti-smoking campaigns teem, it is natural to move away from that threat. Everyone has these fundamental survival skills, and therefore, everyone is subject to this fear.

Most Americans, moreover, are concerned with social needs in addition to physiological. When Kant says that Enlightenment is a move away from immaturity and the anti-war protester says that President Bush is just a greedy oil-monger, one realizes that the satisfaction of one's social needs are at stake by supporting old religions or preemptive military action. Physiological needs are as tangibly immediate and powerful as can be; social needs are the mental equivalent, and in a nation where food and shelter are nearly granted, it is the social that rests in the forefront of the average man's cognizance. When these things are threatened, one of the most historically abused societal techniques in fear takes over.

Contrarily, positive affiliation is usually based in some abstract, ethereal goal, such as freedom, creativity and virtue, one that is probably more significant but also less urgent. One can survive without creativity, but not without a full bread basket. As a contingent, the same is true for the emotional connection one has with positive affiliation—joy or wisdom. Not without reason, the anticipation of joy lingers less conspicuously than does the apprehension of fear. Fear would have to be the most popular tool of persuasion in history, not joy, not wisdom—from the despots of early empires to the anti-nuclear movements in the 1970s.

It would be safe to say that fear urged the majority of believers in the Dark Ages to follow the powerful religious institutions of the era. Were not people taught to "fear" God? It would then follow that most were religious in the Dark Ages, not in order to receive the goodness that God is, but to avoid the admonition guaranteed by neglecting religion. With striking irony, we find that the same instinct that urged the "enlightened" to move away from religion in the 18th century was the same instinct that persuaded the "immature" to move toward it in the Dark Ages.

Perhaps, with respect to this discovery, one could make a conclusion on negative affiliation based on the notion of progress. It may be reasoned that negative affiliation is good. The reason would go: negative affiliation is the natural way of ingesting the current culture, interpreting it and then moving forward—an innate mechanism for progress. This is evidenced throughout society. Necessary in any good story is a conflict, some negative to which our protagonist must counter—good art requires negative affiliation. On a more general scope, art is usually more profound when produced in periods of disestablishment, when some oppressor must be overturned, like the '60s. After upheaval, the art becomes prosaic and imitative, like in the '90s. Ages or time periods are defined by this negative affiliation, like the '30s which was defined by our effort to combat economic depression. Negative affiliation is the most important part of an age, or so goes the argument. Continuing, we could consider how Newton found that an object's inertia will carry it until a force is acted upon it. Institutions, cultures, traditions exist in life as these inert objects, and perhaps, negative affiliation is just the force that acts on these "objects," directing it towards a better goal.

With this perspective, negative affiliation is not only neutral in its own value, but an integral function of natural progress. Moreover, should the action of improving by purging the failed assets of society not be related to the process of natural selection, where the successful life forms survive by purging the failed life forms? To a society who so confidently grants credence to evolution, negative affiliation is a powerful and integral agent.
Evidence that modern America is a culture of negative affiliation is offered by its undying devotion to science, of which Darwin's Natural Selection is a fundamental component. There are other, less conjectural proofs such as the popularity of the aforementioned allergies, vegetarianism, anti-smoking and anti-war. The negative affiliation of today's culture may be best characterized by its peculiar fashion sense.

Simply, the fashion of the day is overappreciated and underachieving. With more magazines and TV shows devoting more time and energy toward the industry than ever before, one would think that we have at hand the most innovative and timeless dress in form and function that has ever been. One should support the attention spent toward fashion if our fashion was of this caliber, but it is not. Flipping through an issue of W or Bazaar, I am pelted with an inconsistent, unattractive conglomeration of images not quite sure whether their duty is to offend, seduce or, by slim chance, actually inspire aesthetic creativity. This schizophrenia is not a coincidence. It is a direct result of a marriage between fashion and negative affiliation.

One persistent pattern in the industry of fashion is nostalgia—a broader social tendency that finds its epicenter in fashion. The nostalgia of 1980s fashion, the dominant trend in fashion in recent years, is indictment of negative affiliation on two accounts. Initially, we find that an exaltation of 1980s fashion can not be one of aesthetic intent due to the nature of 1980s fashion—one of distinct negative affiliation, itself.

The fashion of that decade maintained flagships of color, shape, pattern and texture that were in direct opposition to the same flagships of the fashion of the previous decade. For example, the black and whites and pink and blues of the '80s contrasted strikingly with the earth tones of the '70s. Boxy and angled shapes highlighted by the tight rolled parachute pants of the '80s contrasted with the curvy and flowing shapes highlighted by the bell-shaped pants of the previous decade. The 1980s features neon lasers and lacy and soft cotton textures while the 1970s made polyester infamous. The long wavy hair of the 1970s was replaced by the short, kinky or puffed hair in the next decade. It is safe to say that the two decades emphasized two diametric styles.

Such a rapid reversal of style and one that so thoroughly contradicted its predecessor is not one of ambivalent development but rather of intentional rejection. The goal of 1980s fashion was not one moving toward aesthetic beauty, as the goal of fashion should be, but rather away from whatever antedated it—1980s fashion was negative affiliation.

As a result, the decade's styles were strange and very unattractive. Women's attire was unfeminine and men's clothing was unmasculine. The function of fashion—to enhance, even embellish one's natural physical attractiveness—had been sacrificed in order to serve the more urgent goal of ridding the culture's memory of a decade of failed war, economy and environment.

A nostalgia for fashion that complimented a decade of military, economic and environmental success would understandable, as if to reinstate the energy provided by the welcoming '80s. If the nostalgia of '80s fashion occurred as a response to the economic recession of the early century, such an assessment would be reasonable. The '80s reverberation began to appear before the tech stocks deflated, however, and followed, in order, a mid-'90s nostalgia for 1970s fashion and disco.

Still, the 1980s were as popular as ever in the early century, a lacy sock and stiletto shoe or Kim Carnes tune everywhere one looks or listens. The restoration '80s music could be justified to some extent. The radio of the '80s had for the most part melodic, harmonious songs and embodied clean, well-produced material in contrast to today's music which offers minimal symphonic prowess even by the low standards of popular music. The revival of '80s fashion lacks even this luxury as no aesthetic value can be found in the ripped ice-washed jeans or torn pink sweatshirt off one shoulder. The only reason '80s fashion could have found its way back in the hearts of Americans is for the sake of nostalgia solely.

The second reason this trend is one of negative affiliation is because nostalgia, itself, is a practice of negative affiliation. Although it could be said that nostalgia is a specific move toward something as it elevates some former culture, not rejects another, this conclusion would neglect the purpose of fashion, the arts and culture as a whole, facets of life so engulfed by nostalgia these days.

A civilization's culture is its product. This product, comprised of musical, artistic, literary, political, scientific, technological and religious output, can serve two purposes. Either it can be the goal itself, or it can provide means to another goal. On the scope of such a great entity—society's entire output—the notion of goals begins to get obscure.
How is it possible for a society's complete output to have a goal of it's own when all that society produces is in its output in the first place? Paradoxical at first glance, this posture finds clarity upon the acceptance of a certain distinction. Culture is the physical product of society while another, ideal product exists independent from that physical product. Without exploring the notion of this more abstract goal, we can move on to uncover the relation of nostalgia to this product. That is, when nostalgia is the primary source of motivation for the product of culture, then the focus is that very product. Granted, the focus is the product at hand from a different time, but the focus is still that same formulation of human physical product.

When a society exercises nostalgia, then, it is safe to say that it neglects the ideal goal of culture—it fails to move toward ideals and just simmers in itself. Whether it moves away from a true goal is not clear by this evidence, but we can deduce that nostalgia does not move toward a goal and therefore shows strong resemblance to the concerned practice.

Another proof of the modern state of negative affiliation is our elevation of individuality and diversity. If it cannot be assumed that we live in a society that promotes these two characteristics, simply regard MTV or the program and commercials during Grammies. One will surely notice there that to be different is not only acceptable, but encouraged. A skimming of Academy Award Best Picture, American Beauty, will reveal the notion that diversity is the point of life.

When individuality and diversity furnish the goals of a civilization, especially one with 6 billion people, a precarious initiative takes shape. To be different from so many people requires either an extreme amount of creativity, or the ability to group everyone else together and as a whole traduce them. It may be the case that some muster the necessary creativity to achieve the goal of individuality. Still, the result of this is likely not virtuous as to be completely different from everyone is to be completely different from good people as well, launching the individual on some quest for the most shocking or audacious personality. This outcome is seen in the gothic and self-mutilating styles popular today.

More likely is the prospect that one will simply defame everyone else. This takes very little effort and is very successful as most cannot spot the technique in action. Witnesses of smearing will be put on the defensive or join in on the gossip when a seedy characteristic is revealed about some celebrity or co-worker. Disparagement is not only a method of reaching individuality but ridicule and mockery are somehow humorous and humor is always a way to grasp the quiet reverence of fellow citizens. To be cynical or sarcastic is to be witty and profound even if one doesn't employ the needed irony or cleverness in their commentary. Thus, one's stature is elevated by this social brand of negative affiliation—of course, not to the extent of public adoration. That would only degrade the venerator to the status of unoriginal follower.

Plagued as our culture is with nostalgic fervor and militant diversity, we find ourselves wallowing in negative affiliation. I so identify a state of negative affiliation as wallowing because as stated before, any potential action or thought can be either positive or negative and, as I will state presently, only the positive affiliation is virtuous and productive.

What is relevant in something that stresses the negative is that the existing positive goal is reduced to inconsequentiality. As the negative goal supports the action or thought, the positive goal is free to waver about, to maintain validity or not. In many cases of negative affiliation, the peripheral positive goal is neglected to the extent that it is skewed and unjustifiable or simply nonexistent. When the anti-American defames the most powerful and productive nation in history, he is unable to provide an example of one that is also more humanitarian and just. This logical deficiency goes unnoticed as the focus remains with the negation of any harms the US imposes.

The result of negative affiliation is an absence of productivity, creativity, progress. Just as is the case with the fashion of today, no true goal is obtained with negative affiliation. Good art does require conflict, but the protagonist's goal exists without the conflict which really only serves as hindrance to the attainment of it. It is true that times of upheaval bring about great art, but it is not due to the upheaval, directly, it is due to the enlivened spirits that come so naturally with revolution but can also come from other, more progressive sources. Culture's duty is achieve some ideal goal. If our product is just that of negative affiliation, whatever the environment might be, out culture will fail at its particular function.

This may not be a dilemma for those living in today's society. Due to our decadent state, we are taught that failure is a part of life. It is good to tear down the institutions of previous generations, sarcastically ridicule anyone who attempts to gain meaning and cynically reject as hypocritical anyone who maintains ideals. This is how decadence is a downward spiral, nearly impossible to escape before complete self-destruction. It takes a population to make a culture. This population doesn't want to make a culture, it is intent only on destroying someone else's. Is there a solution? There must be a solution in positive affiliation, but a dilemma is realized with the paradox described above. How is it possible for a society of negative affiliation to turn positive?

Something is missing with negative affiliation. Even with regard to Enlightenment and the virtuous positive goals it projected, it seems as though something was missing. Kant suggested that one "dare to use his own understanding." This is doubtless a promising goal especially in an age when "if I have a book to have understanding in place of me, a spiritual adviser to have a conscience for me, a doctor to judge my diet for me, and so on, I need not make any efforts at all." To take stock and perform one's own tasks is certainly a valuable helping of advice, but to what end does it serve? Would it not be fair to say that things like knowledge, health and ability all amount to freedom? If so, a word must be devoted to the analysis of such a goal.

Freedom, or emancipation is by far the most instanced goal in all of the works of Enlightenment that I've seen, and persists throughout western culture, especially as an American edict. Due to the freedom granted by the Enlightenment, western culture has seen a most phenomenal expansion in economy, technology and standard of living. But freedom by itself implies no guaranteed virtue. A free man has as much potential for laziness and cowardice—Kant's immaturity—as does the oppressed citizen of the 18th century. A perusal of the free American youths evidences this.

Economic prosperity, technological proficiency and healthy bodies are all very comfortable, but these are not true goals in themselves—they are but means to a goal. For any thought or action that stresses the negative goal, the likelihood is for the corresponding positive goal to be nonexistent or at least lack direct access. The problem with this is: where do we go once fulfillment of the negative goal is achieved? Once we overthrow the yoke, what should replace it?
The adverse consequences of an uncertain positive goal could be found in the French Revolution of 1789 which, due to this dilemma, actually lasted until well into the 19th century. It was seen too in the chaos subsequent to India's independence from England in 1947. In fact, rare is the instance of a revolution or overhaul of former institutions and governments that results immediately and lastingly in a firm replacement. That is because most revolutions, like the one inspiring the Age of Enlightenment, are of inconsistent and excessive negative affiliation. The American Revolution of 1776 is one distinct exception to this standard. It was a corollary of a sober, relatively united and resourceful peoples and a foundation of brilliant theorists and statesmen who secured a positive goal of revolution.

The democratic-republic of which the US was the first nation and for which the country designated the first elected president and congress in the history of mankind has undoubtedly displayed the exemplary form of government since its inception. It is this product, a positive goal, that has lasted beyond the overthrow of the monarchy, a negative goal. Evidence of this rests in the failure of governments that attempted to replace monarchies in other revolutions, French, Russian, Cuban.

What is clear from this brief regard is that one form of government, monarchy, was not acceptable to the masses because of the lack of freedom. Few monarchies remain. Also, socialism, as a recourse, was not acceptable to progress and productivity because of the lack of duty. Few remain. It follows that the government which allowed both freedom and encouraged duty would succeed for reason the others could not. America's ability to formulate a government that accomplished this was its ability to establish a positive goal.

The founders of America certainly had in view the things that a peoples' government can not do when they wrote its constitution—most of the Bill of Rights were just this. The threat of government oppression was not at all a light matter to the former colonials. Notwithstanding regard to the overturned imperfect government, the US constitution posed a stout requisition for the ideal government. This is seen in the Preamble to it where the writers' goal was to "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." This is positive affiliation. The opening statement of the French constitution of 1791 read as a childish rebellion against the former tyranny. The French National Assembly stated there that it "irrevocably abolishes the institutions which wounded the freedom and the equal rights" of its people. Of course, it doesn't sound nearly as brilliant in English, but the concept is accessible. It is negative affiliation.

Similarities between the two revolutions are numerous and cannot be examined in full with this argument. They can be encapsulated with the fact that French revolutionaries found much inspiration from the overthrow in the New World and based their attempts at a new government on the victorious Americans'. Equivalent motivation and resolve prove the revolutions' likeness. The differences between the two are also numerous and much too complex for analysis here, but I will acknowledge one of the major contrasts to uncover the key ingredient of positive affiliation.

The colonialists were unique in all the situations of sociopolitical revolution in the late 18th century because of their inherent independence from their oppressor. It was the colonists who decided to move to the New World, they who built settlements, farms, trade routes, churches, schools and governments. It was their volition which started the state and the same which facilitated it—all before independence was declared. England had little influence on how life was lived in the colonies and besides trade with them served as influence by taxation. The colonies were basically their own state, a concept that, once fully realized, encouraged the removal of said taxation.
It is due to this independence that the attainment of freedom via revolution was possible and successful. Responsibility is not something that can be gained at an instance like freedom can. It has to be gradually instituted and only then can the achievement of freedom be at all peaceful and intentional. Responsibility is innate with the administration of one's own state, and it was this predicament that allowed America to avoid the subsequent prolonged chaos and contradictory power struggles. It was this asset that was demonstrated when John Adams stepped down without a coup when he was voted out of the presidency after one term.

Responsibility is an ambiguous term without doubt. Considering the major works in western literature that move toward something, we can witness themes of responsibility throughout whether by the vehicle of a protagonist or the writer's self-conscious responsibility. It is true for Homer's The Iliad (free will, responsibility to overturn fate) and The Odyssey (loyalty, responsibility to return home); Plato's The Republic (justice, responsibility to organize society) and The Dialogues of Plato (transcendence, responsibility to live a life worth living) and basically all classic western works; Augustine's Confessions (God, responsibility to find God), Milton's Paradise Lost (humbleness, responsibility of obedience to God), Newton's Principia Mathematica (physics, responsibility to build science), Smith's The Wealth of Nations (free market, responsibility to form economy), Tocquville's Democracy in America (democracy, responsibility to form government), Rand's The Fountainhead (individualism, responsibility to lead society as individual), Hess's Siddhartha (enlightenment, responsibility to focus on godliness) and Linklater's Waking Life (awakening, responsibility to understand ways of life).

Ours is a culture based on inconsequential events, obsessed with meaningless figures, affiliated by negativity. If we, as a society can garner enough responsibility, we too might be positive affiliators like Socrates or Howard Roark, Isaac Newton or Alexis de Tocqueville. With responsibility we can use the surging technology at hand for building space transports instead of fat-eating diet pills. With responsibility, our governments, schools, churches, families and businesses can move away from bureaucracy, waste, contradiction, inefficiency, immaturity and ignorance, but more importantly move toward their ideal purposes of virtue, creativity, productivity, aesthetic, logic, love and godliness.