good replies all
Chip chip, boys and girls, glad to see my little piece of doggeral and parody touched a nerve. Good responses, too.
Before trying to offer up some of what I believe in (for Earth Guru's edification who, rightly, brings me to task for being a CRITIC while offering nothing substantial of my own beliefs and convictions), a couple small points.
Z Dharma, I am relieved that you, too, disdain bad beer, and I can only take your avowal of drinking Sam Adams as being tongue-in-cheek.
Also, Z Dharma, I assume your list of cultural markers would have included a few more women and people of color had you had the time to flesh it out. Making lists of any such variety to prove a point is always a dicey proposition. I did get a chuckle out of seeing Neal Cassady and Paul Harvey lumped into the same rebuttal point. Made me think of E.D. Hirsch's "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know".
Earth Guru, I, unfortunately, do not have the academic background in philosophy & political science that you do so my attempts at outlining what I "believe" will not be augmented with erudite quotes from Rand, Heidegger, Marx, or Keyenes.
Capitalism/anti-capitalism, other economic "isms", etc. The problem I see in most of these word debates is that everyone speaks in absolutes. Would Capitalism in its pure theoretical incarnation be the perfect system? Perhaps. But Capitalism in pratice, particularly the rapacious, multinational, mega-corporate, hyper-industrialized form we see it in today (you know, how the West finally toppled the bad Russian Communist bear, and all that?), is anti-human, anti-planet, anti-freedom.
It does not represent the best idea of selfishness (as extolled by Ayn Rand) because it becomes, at its core, a system which canabalizes itself. While I am not willing to accept the fact (as Earth Guru avers) that Morality is Objective, and as such I am unable to offer a definition of morality, I will, nevertheless, in the spirit of divulgence, state that the current incarnation of capitalism as practiced in this country in the giant corporations, is morally bankrupt. To wit, any system that rewards corporate CEOs so lavishly, and often at the expense of the actual workers, is morally suspect. Any system which measures success by how much can be produced and by how much money can be made by this production, without regard to who or what is hurt/lost/used/devoured by the production, is morally suspect.
I too have read Ayn Rand and I too have idolized Howard Roark but I have also realized that Ayn Rand's world is simply a fabulation, a novelist's creation, and does not approach present day 21st century reality. I idolized Howard Roark because he was a man who refused to compromise his artistic vision. That's great. But the world of Ayn rand, of passionate Good people being beaten down by the squishy, spineless, Bad people who run things, is cartoonish. The real world is much more venal, more more cutthroat, much more dirty. And if you don't believe Capitalism has anything to do with creating such an atmosphere, well, everyone has their own blinders for some things.
So, less than elegant, yes. But enough about Capitalism and the pros and cons.
Me? I believe in bodhisttva compassion, in Buddhist tolerance, in open-mindedness. I believe in small-scale, sustainable agriculture (over agribusiness), I believ that government should stay out of people's personal lives (i.e., legalize drugs, abortion, abolish speed limits, etc., all those areas which a libertarian might believe sacrosanct).
At the same time, I also have little faith in the Human Being, believing it to be flawed and often helpless, certainly weak, and currentlyin far too great a number for things to work well without some rudiments of government. I value and believe in the national infrastructure (roads, highways, bridges, etc.), the National Park system, in the Library of Congress, in the US Postal Service, in the National Guard. I don't mind paying taxes to support these types of government programs and institutions.
However, I DON'T believe government has any role in telling me what drugs I can take, what I can write, what literature I can read, where I can go, when I can go there, etc.
In a nut shell, and because this is the Poetry & Politics message board after all, let me sum up my beliefs by quoting Ginsberg:
"What's the work?
To ease the pain of living.
All else, drunken dumbshow"
By the way, to Josephx23. I daresay you overreacted a little bit. You should hold off calling people Hitler or Stalin based solely on a sarcastic rant on a message board. It tends to take the starch out of the rest of your post.