Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On civility, disobedience, and yo mama

I left this as a comment at Corey Robin's The Reason I Don’t Believe in Civility is That I Do Believe in Civility:

Civility is not bourgeois. Working class people of all hues know the meaning of "Didn't your mama teach you any manners?" Bourgeois civility expects obeisance, but simple civility expects equality, and equals don't treat anyone as inferiors, which is the essence of incivility.

When I think of what's civil, I think of civitas and civil disobedience and the example set by the civil rights leaders, including Malcolm X, who said, "Respect everyone." He believed you should be prepared to send anyone who laid a hand on you to the graveyard, but he never suggested you should stop respecting others even then; he only said you should be prepared to stop them. If I had a time machine, I would arrange a meeting between Brother Malcolm and Citizen Tom Paine. I think they'd agree about a great deal, including the way we should treat each other.

ETA: Excellent advice for revolutionaries: “Moderation in temper is always a virtue; but moderation in principle is always a vice.” ―Thomas Paine