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Saving the Obama Presidency

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It's not really my job to save Barack Obama from the fate which hubris and ideological rigidity have reserved for him, but if he was interested in listening, the route back from the lowest approval ratings of any first-year president would be easy to point out.

All President Obama would have to do to immediately jump into respectable numbers in the polls and show that he is not part of the partisan disease symptomized by the draconian rule of Nancy Pelosi in the House, is to make a simple public statement. I'll even draft it for him to pass on to Jon Favreau or one of his other celebrity speechwriters for some polish.

(tonight or tomorrow morning, carried live on all networks)

My fellow Americans. I had been planning to fly to Copenhagen to attend the climate conference. Today I am here to tell you that I am not going to make that trip.

After watching video of the speeches made this week by dictators, tyrants, and greedy opportunists, I realize that this conference is not about the very real threat of global climate change. It has become a political power grab, a platform for propaganda and an all-out attack on America and the system of capitalism which has made it the most successful nation in the world.

I made up my mind after hearing genocidal dictator Robert Mugabe declare that the United States and capitalism were responsible for all the world's ills and hearing America-hating Marxist Hugo Chavez declare that he was glad to see the ghost of capitalism stalking the halls of the conference.

Their speeches were just the tip on the pyramid of evidence that this conference has been hijacked by extremists whose interest is the economic destruction of the United States by enacting punitive measures which our historically generous nation cannot afford to foot the bill for at this time of economic hardship.

My first concern is the American people. I want to use our resources to build jobs and restore prosperity and we cannot afford to send billions to nations which consider us their greatest enemy at a time when the American people need that money more.

American prosperity was built on capitalism, and although we have allowed it to run out of control, I want to dedicate my presidency to restoring the balance between self interest and civic duty so that businesses can grow and be profitable and share that prosperity with workers and investors and charitable institutions. This can be accomplished through wise stewardship of the economy and the imposition of reasonable regulation and meaningful accountability — the proper role of government in a free society.

Just as I am dedicated to stewarding our economy I believe that we should also be stewards for our environment, and that can best be accomplished by focusing on our own role in polluting the planet. Rather than accepting the rules imposed by nations who do not have our welfare at heart, we should address these issues ourselves and lead the world by example.

We know what needs to be fixed. We want clean air, clean water, greater energy independence and sustainability. These things are of indisputable benefit to the nation and the people. We should set the highest standards — even higher than what might come out of a climate treaty — and dedicate our efforts to reaching them as quickly as possible without destroying our economy in the process. This is a great and sacred duty we have as a people and to which I dedicate myself as your president.

We will make America a shining example of a nation which can have freedom, prosperity, social justice and a healthy environment. We must reevaluate our priorities and redirect our efforts. We will lead the way for other nations to follow and do it as we always have, on our own with others looking on in envy. We are America, we are exceptional and though we face great challenges we will find even greater solutions.

Thank you and good night."

Now, you know I don't necessarily agree with every priority or viewpoint expressed in this speech, but if I heard this speech or something like it tonight or tomorrow I would be standing up and applauding. It does the things which many Americans believe President Obama has failed to do thus far in his presidency; stand up for America and its values, show some basic support for working and entrepreneurial America, express independence from his party and their international allies, and show that he wants to be president for all of the people, not just the special interests which put him in office.

If he made a speech like this his own party would have a hard time arguing with it and he would win over a great many independents and even more open-minded Republicans. Just showing that he rejects the ideology of Mugabe and Chavez and the elite European bureaucrats by rejecting Copenhagen would be a very good start, but he would, of course, have to follow through with real action on the ideas it expresses. He would need to take the lead on real job creation in the private sector and on an aggressive, comprehensive and responsible environmental policy.

The president's approval ratings are so low because people feel that he is failing America in its time of need and that he is ready to sell us out to ideologies and interest groups who do not have our best interests at heart. We don't think he's on our side anymore and we fear that he may have decided to become an enemy of the people like the Democrats in Congress. This might be a way for him to declare his allegiance with the people and avoid following the rest of his party to political oblivion. With a speech like this followed by real action he could put an end to those doubts and become the president which we need in this time of crisis.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • This might be a way for him to declare his allegiance with the people and avoid following the rest of his party to political oblivion.

    I was with you Dave until those two little word “political oblivion.” I mean hasn’t this been forecasted and predicted about the GOP before? What sinks shall rise again. All is temporary.

    I thought you might also mention Hillary’s taunt “who wants to be a 100 billionaire?” When she offered up 100 billion dollars of OUR frickin money to poor countries who would sign onto the treaty of the month.

    But agreed, Obama does not need to attend this excuse of a climate conference in Copenhagen.

    Good Dave until you got to the last bit.


  • Mark

    Dave does little here to clarify what he believes to be the proper role of the State in Capitalist society beyond the high faluting phrases. In the past he has stated that he thinks Hayek got it about right. Here’s an interesting read (pdf) in that regard.

    There most definitely should be a ‘war’ on Capitalism.

  • Arch Conservative

    As narcissistic and arrogant as Obama is, even he, deep down, knows he’s not running the show.

    His masters who have bought and paid for him would have no trouble taking him out and then we’d have the corporate state run media and 300 million American idiots raving and ranting about racism and such nonsense until the next shill for the New World Order or the next Tiger Woods conquest, whichever would comes first, arrived on the scene.

    Saint Barry was kind enough to intimate to the nation that unless we pass some kind of healthcare reform in the near future the federal government will go bankrupt. It never crossed his mind that it might not be such a great idea to spend trillionsof dollars on every last whim of every last special interest.

    Like Bush before him, Obama couldn’t be honest with the American people if his life depended on it. I guess 200 plus years of separation emboldens these assclowns installed in Washington to shit all over the Constitution and the American people more and more every day.

    I truly hope I live to see the tipping point when the shit hits the fan.

  • I don’t know. A speech? Is he really good at those?

  • I have to agree with Dave here. Barack Obama has been President a scant 11 months and already most of us are viewing him as a failure. The only way he’s going to salvage the next three years, one month and three days is to come out swinging by New Year’s Day. He needs a dramatic, in-your-face speech that echoes the concerns of the working class and sets the agenda for what Congress does in 2010. And he’s got to be clear — any member of Congress who is not on board with the Obama doctrine can forget about any help from him in the elections. He should also lay down the gauntlet concerning lobbyists and special interest monies. Enough is enough. He’s got to come out and inspire — anything less will result in his one term Presidency.

  • Right now Obama is loved by leftist intellectuals and hated by the working and middle classes. That’s a dangerous position for a Democrat to be in.


  • zingzing

    “Right now Obama is loved by leftist intellectuals and hated by the working and middle classes.”

    that’s quite a statement. care to back it up?

    and what exactly is wrong with being smart?

  • True leftist intellectuals – like Naomi Klein, for example – were skeptical to begin with.

  • If Pres Obama had led from the center left, he would be doing great right now!

  • Mark

    It was pretty clear that he is a hack as soon as he started up with that pre-chewed ‘yes we can’ slogan. I have yet to hear an original thought escape his pie hole.

  • BTW, Mark. Radnitzky was a left-libertarian social anarchist and an anti-capitalist. He seriously mischaracterizes Hayek out of a natural hostility to Hayek’s belief in a constitutional state and free enterprise. If you want Hayek’s opinion on the state, why not read Hayek? I would particularly sugest The Constitution of Liberty.

    But for a quick summation, here’s a quote from his essay Principles or Expediency?:

    “A condition of liberty in which all are allowed to use their own knowledge for their own purposes, restrained only by rules of just conduct of universal application, is likely to produce for them the best conditions for achieving their respective aims. Such a system is likely to be achieved and maintained only if all authority, including that of the majority of the people, is limited in the exercise of coercive power by general principles to which the community has committed itself.”

    It’s written in the painful style typical of economists and philosophers, but what it comes down to is the idea of a government limited only to those functions which the community agrees are absolutely essential for the protection of their rights.

    I find that reasonable.


  • Zing, being smart has nothing at all to do with it. Ideology trumps intellect every time and there’s no one so stupid as an intellectual ideologue.


  • there’s no one so stupid as an intellectual ideologue.

    oh my, the comedy just never ends around here.

  • zingzing

    yeah, ok dave, but what is it that the right wing has against intellectuals? i know it’s all politics, but they seem to trumpet stupidity and their own “folksy” charms. it’s like being smart is a crime and being a dumbass is electable. it’s just a very negative view of humanity.

    it’s like the right wing is too damn stupid to realize that they’re being told how stupid they are.

    and i think mark hit upon a certain irony to your claim.

  • #11,

    It’s just a refinement of classical liberal theory – not really all that different from John Locke or the more recent version in the Nozick’s idea of minimal state.

    The theory may have served a valid function once upon a time; but today, it sounds oddly hollow – smacking of ideology.

  • You identify it correctly, Roger, but I don’t think you’re right that it’s an outdated ideology. It’s a very basic approach to human society which has been proven to work in a very positive way.

    Ad Zing, the right wing has nothing against intellectuals. They just don’t think it’s necessary to make a big show of intellecutalism to be taken seriously.


  • Ruvy

    Why even try to save an SOB whose hauteur and contempt of you and most Americans is only matched by his willingness to abandon you all in the mud of obloquy?

    That is the height of sado-maschism! Let the piece of shit and his “government” sink in the mire it deserves and work on an alternative to take over – if you can.

  • Ruvy, the way the system works we’re stuck with him for 3 more years. Just trying to help him learn on the job.


  • It’s true, Dave, that it’s difficult to argue with the idea therein expressed as regards the least obtrusive form of government. My doubts relate to the presuppositions and the uses to which the theory has been put.

    There’s also an element of historicity – whether the ideas are still applicable in the ever-changing world.

  • Ruvy

    Dave, the way the system works is that you are getting a shaft up your ass – and are unwilling to even recognize it. Go read that Declaration again. You have a duty to yourself to sink this piece of shit and his fascist regime – before he sinks you. Of course, you can always go back to Lebanon….

  • zingzing

    “Ad Zing, the right wing has nothing against intellectuals.”

    i beg to differ. they’ve made a show out of how much they despise academia and they consistently put up candidates who display “folksiness” rather than intelligence. they also use the word “intellectual” as if it meant something bad. it’s codeword for “snob,” but ignores the fact that these are the thinkers in our society. you act as if this phenomenon isn’t widely known.

  • But it’s also part of America’s general/popular culture, Zing – the notion of populism – which is suspicious of intellectuals: bookworms, nerds, geeks, and eggheads. This is nothing new.

    The German people display just the opposite sentiment.

  • which has been proven to work in a very positive way.

    That would sound better if you could show me where has it been proven to work. This society, for one example, is maximally fucked up–psychologically Dave. I am not even talking economically. It’s a difficult call, but I believe it has in some fundamental ways, declined in its humanity, not improved, over time.

  • Yes, Zing. The right has something against snobs and elitists. And the left chooses to interpret that as anti-intellectual. Yet even you should see the difference.

    I would go farther and say that the right perhaps prefers the use of original thought and common sense over academic and formulaic approaches to problems.

    But I don’t think you are actually going to try to argue that Wiliam Buckley or George Will or P. J. O’Rourke or Thomas Sowell or Bernard Lewis are not intellectuals, though they are certainly politically on the right.


  • zingzing

    no, i’m not going to argue that those you mention aren’t intellectuals, but you must see that the right is all for dumbing down american politics. maybe that’s not the best way to put it. the fact remains that the right has put forth candidates that reflect a certain stupid quality. i’m sure it appeals to a lot of people to have someone who they can “relate to” running for office, but shouldn’t we have our best running the country, rather than just some dumb, manipulatable hick?

    “I would go farther and say that the right perhaps prefers the use of original thought and common sense…”

    right, but they bring in people who are stupid and lack common sense, other than if by “common” you mean “mean” and if by “sense” you mean “idiocy.” all we’ve gotten from the right lately is wars, recession and political stalemates. you must have better. if not, that’s pathetic.

    your “original thinking” is non-existent and your “common sense” is terrifying. the politicians you elect are backwards, hateful individuals. even you can’t get behind them. the policy that the right has to back up is frightfully crude, dogmatic, homophobic and white-centric. it’s like a party spiraling around itself into a toilet. there’s no way that this will survive too much longer.

    you’re already seeing this, with the teabaggers going all nutso and the rest of the party trying to rein them back in without much success. those of you on the right that AREN’T crazy, racist, monumentally stupid fuck ups might like to think that you can survive without them, that they will vote with you over the alternative, but this shit is only going to get worse. obama has brought out the worst in you, and you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.

    the world (and america) is getting more liberal all the time. this type of thought is outmoded and irrelevant. you’re on the losing end of history, but you won’t ever know it.

  • Doug Hunter

    “this society, for one example, is maximally fucked up–psychologically”

    Translation: not everyone buys my leftist bullshit so they must all be fucked in the head. This society is not ‘maximally fucked’ up by any reasonable measure.

    As to the ‘anti-intellectualism’, it’s much more an issue with authority than intellect. For example, it might be scientifically proven that if everyone would awake at 7AM and eat 1 pound of celery and jog 3 miles the country would live longer, be more productive, have less crime, etc., etc. Now when a libtard politician reads this study and tries to pass a law forcing everyone to wake, eat celery, and run and there’s a public backlash. Gee, is it ‘anti-intellectualism’ because they didn’t buy into the study or simply disdain for an oppressive government overstepping it’s bounds?

    Figure out the analogy above and you’ve got your answer. The answer of course is a rejection of guv’mint authority, but it makes better propaganda if your masters lie and label it ‘anti-intellectualism’…. makes the bleeding heart troops feel real smart.

  • zingzing

    not that that will happen, of course, but you’ll keep pretending like it will.

    that’s the problem… people on the right like to make up doomsday fantasies, even though they don’t even believe them that’s where we get this “fascism” and “communist” and “killing grandma” shit from.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I would go farther and say that the right perhaps prefers the use of original thought and common sense over academic and formulaic approaches to problems.

    Why is it that every political debate in your country comes down to one side or the other being the sole possessor of common sense and original thought? Is it not possible that there are good ideas to be heard from everywhere or is the partisanship and fear really that strong?

    And why the hell do you keep promoting this sort of bullshit divisiveness if you claim to care about your country?

  • Jordan Richardson

    This society is not ‘maximally fucked’ up by any reasonable measure.

    Translation: buy my rightist bullshit and pay no attention to the fact that I’m just an ideological parrot like all the others.

    Oh, and your little example is idiotic. As usual.

  • Cannonshop

    #25 Zing, you’re trumpeting something very old as something “new and exciting”-other societies have gone where you feel ours is going…

    Rome, for instance. Or Europe during the Dark ages. Rule by Elites, with controlled information, and a dependent populace kept in line by dogmas and fear of heresy isn’t new, though your labels for that are ‘updated’.

    There IS a correlation between the downward trend in terms of intellect and education, and the increasing power of “Liberals” in our society (term used loosely, since todays “Liberals” are anything BUT.)

    The Left rises…as IQ, education, and intellect drop through the floor.

    Which has happened before in human history-bread and circuses, spectaculars, and rampant corruption aren’t new, the language used to promote them updates with each new era, though.

  • I would go farther and say that the right perhaps prefers the use of original thought and common sense over academic and formulaic approaches to problems.

    it just gets better and better.

  • Cannonshop

    #31 Sometimes it’s the left, sometimes it’s the right. Right now, Mark, it’s the center-right, but in the past it’s been the left, and probably will be again someday.

    It’s all a function of how calcified the ‘academic’ sector gets in each variation, that’d be how dogmatic their approaches are and how often they resort to treachery to maintain power (and the sort of power being retained/seized/maintained).

    The key to figuring it out, is which side has a bigger problem when it’s questioned on its assertions, and how vehemently they resort to attacking the messenger rather than examining the message.

    I honestly can’t see much difference between Falwell’s gang and the current Left, except in what causes they’re willing to suborn integrity to support.

  • Arch Conservative

    Excuse me, but anyone that thinks Obama will do anything at all to stop the piece by piece selling off of this nation is a complete moron.

    Obama smiles and gives his little speeches and sells and yet you idiots find it necessary to continue to debate the nuances of his administration as if it were at all possible for some good to come of it when all the evidence points to the fact that 98% of those in Washingon on both sides of the aisle couldn’t give a damn about any of us as long as they get to live their lavish lifestyles and perpetuate the mythology that they are indespensable to this nation.

    The D stands for Democrat and the R stands for Retard. Congratulations……wear those scarlet letters proudly…only they’re not scarlet because ignorance, like misery, loves company and there’s no shortage of either these days.

    Saving the Obama presidency? What’s the next enlightening BC article going to be about? Turning dirt into gold?

  • zingzing

    cannonshop, i didn’t know that so much nonsense could spill forth from one set of fingers.

    somehow, you equate the idea that it’s better to have smart people in charge with the dark ages, the fall of rome, etc. good job.

    “The Left rises…as IQ, education, and intellect drop through the floor.”

    ah, so you’re one of those on the right who thinks everyone else is stupid. gotcha. that’s why we needed george w. bush.

  • Mark

    intermission —

    Dave #11, with Hayek the problems are in the details. You say that what his theory of the State comes down to, is the idea of a government limited only to those functions which the community agrees are absolutely essential for the protection of their rights. All well and good.

    However, if one takes your advice and actually reads, say, The Constitution of Liberty, he finds that Hayek constructs a society in which virtually any coercive government action can be justified based on the premiss you summarize and his belief in the moral good of predictability.

    — we now return you to your regularly scheduled bloodletting between ‘right’ and ‘left’.

  • because ignorance, like misery, loves company and there’s no shortage of either these days.

    ah, it’s irony friday! hmmm, i didn’t receive my formal invite this year.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Arch (#33), you complain about people like “us” debating the nuances of the Obama presidency. What exactly do you think it is you do around here? I mean, I know you like to hurl little violent threats and make fun of dead people.

    But really. What do you think you’re doing?

  • Interestingly, this “anti-intellectual” fervor was strangely amiss during the Kennedy era. “Camelot” was the term and it wasn’t pejorative. Perhaps the popular perception was that “academic learning” was also accompanied by passion. The same goes for the Clinton era.

    It goes without saying, of course, that the “Obama court” is populated with “intellectuals,” so says the Right. Hence the easy identification of the present administration with the label and just another empty claim – all the easier to make after George Dubya, who could make anybody look like a scholar.

  • zingzing

    going by archie’s words, he’s telling himself to shut up. which is kinda silly. he probably thinks “irony” is something with a certain percentage of iron in it. and he probably likes to hit himself in the face with it.

  • zingzing

    obviously, the right is smart enough to look dumb. of course, it’s easy to trick dumb people. i’d bet that the right’s dream candidate would be a braindead vegetable. (laissez faire indeed.)

  • It’s a matter of pointing fingers and affixing blame. And it’s easy to point to America’s colleges, universities, and institutions of higher learning as the hotbed of dangerous ideologies and heretic doctrines.

    It has become the Right’s mantra.

  • Doug Hunter

    “Oh, and your little example is idiotic. As usual.”

    In other words, I hit the nail on the head. If it’s idiotic explaining why instead of simple namecalling would be preferable.

  • Doug Hunter

    Roger #41

    No one is (or very few) are afraid of ‘dangerous ideas’ in real science like Mathematics, Physics, etc. People aren’t afraid of knowledge in general, they worry about those in academia giving their latest pet social or political idea the force of law.

    Just because an idea can be shown to be ‘good’ in some way (saved lives, longer lives, productivity, etc.) through experimentation doesn’t mean the government should force the population to do the ‘right’ thing. I think my exercise example above is applicable. Do I not wish the government to enforce those rules because I’m against science and progress or because I want people to become obese and die early or because I want to see a young child lose his father to diabetes and heart disease? Of course not.

    I know you sick of hearing the words, but some people simply value freedom from government more than you do.

  • I didn’t make any connection between learning and governing – you did. Freedom of thought was my one and only concern, which implies freedom on the part of any individual not to accept whatever emanates from centers of learning/power/authority but to think for themselves. And in that sense, the freedom of thought is the most anti-authoritarian stance one can take. My suspicion of course is that the Right resorts to labels because it can’t meet certain arguments head-on. The same kind of complaint you raised against Jordan.

    And to suggest that the Obama court is in any way composed of intellectuals is preposterous.

  • Mark

    Doug, if [what at a given time passes as] ‘science’ shows that certain behaviors that firms can engage in are potentially ‘destructive to self and others’ is it the governments job to regulate the firms’ choices?

  • but you must see that the right is all for dumbing down american politics.

    I see dumbing down practiced on the left easily as much as on the right.

    maybe that’s not the best way to put it. the fact remains that the right has put forth candidates that reflect a certain stupid quality.

    Are you really going to try to argue that Chuck Schumer is brighter than Mitch McConnell, or that Joe Biden is smarter tha Dick Cheney, because I’ll gladly take a bet on their relative IQs.

    i’m sure it appeals to a lot of people to have someone who they can “relate to” running for office, but shouldn’t we have our best running the country, rather than just some dumb, manipulatable hick?

    See, this is the snobbish attitude that people resent. I’d rather associate with a hick who has read Rousseau and Montesquieu and Adam Smith and Bastiat and Hayek and Friedman and understood them than an intellectual whose reading started with Marx and ended with Chomsky. And again, can you really argue that my examples of right-wing political theorists are intellectually inferior to those popular with the left?

    right, but they bring in people who are stupid and lack common sense, other than if by “common” you mean “mean” and if by “sense” you mean “idiocy.” all we’ve gotten from the right lately is wars, recession and political stalemates. you must have better. if not, that’s pathetic.

    I see no validity to this argument. The people who got us into the wars were frighteningly intellectually capable. The Neocons are at heart a movement of intellectuals. You only call them stupid because you disagree with them.

    your “original thinking” is non-existent and your “common sense” is terrifying. the politicians you elect are backwards, hateful individuals. even you can’t get behind them.

    Again, dogmatic and ignorant and bigoted. They’re backwards and hateful solely because you disagree with them.

    the policy that the right has to back up is frightfully crude, dogmatic, homophobic and white-centric. it’s like a party spiraling around itself into a toilet. there’s no way that this will survive too much longer.

    Another fantasy which exists mostly in your head. Check out groups like GOProud and the LCR and you’ll find gay Republicans who share the same fundamental beliefs as others on the right, and they don’t think that a belief in smaller government and individual liberty is such a bad thing.

    you’re already seeing this, with the teabaggers going all nutso and the rest of the party trying to rein them back in without much success. those of you on the right that AREN’T crazy, racist, monumentally stupid fuck ups

    Is there any propaganda from MSNBC which you don’t swallow whole? If you met some of the tea party folks you might come to realize that they’re just normal, reasonable folks who have been pushed too far by government. Sure, there’s a small element of crazies, but that’s true of any movement. Most of them are great folks.

    might like to think that you can survive without them, that they will vote with you over the alternative, but this shit is only going to get worse. obama has brought out the worst in you, and you’re going to have to deal with the consequences.

    Obama is really not the primary problem. He’s just a symbol of it. The problem rests with the elitist, inhumane and exploitative agenda of the modern left and the Democrats.

    the world (and america) is getting more liberal all the time. this type of thought is outmoded and irrelevant. you’re on the losing end of history, but you won’t ever know it.

    The problem here is that you don’t really understand what “liberal” means. In the real meaning of the word most Republicans are probably more liberal than you are. Liberal is not the opposite of conservative. It’s the opposite of authoritarian.


  • that’s the problem… people on the right like to make up doomsday fantasies,

    And global warming is not a doomsday fantasy?

    even though they don’t even believe them that’s where we get this “fascism” and “communist” and “killing grandma” shit from.

    Actually, all of those beliefs come from a kernel of truth. There really are leftists who want to kill of 80% of the world’s populaton for “sustainability” and Obama has in fact appointed admitted communists to important positions. As for fascism, that’s an accurate term to describe state takeovers of industry and we’ve certainly seen that happening.


  • And why the hell do you keep promoting this sort of bullshit divisiveness if you claim to care about your country?

    Because there actually IS a divide in the country, and those on one side hostile to the values and practices which have made the country the success which it has been and wish to reduce our liberty and our prosperity.


  • The Left rises…as IQ, education, and intellect drop through the floor.

    Bingo. Left authoritarianism is based on the existence of a small controlling elite and a huge mass of the uneducated and impoverished who depend on government for their survival.


  • However, if one takes your advice and actually reads, say, The Constitution of Liberty, he finds that Hayek constructs a society in which virtually any coercive government action can be justified based on the premiss you summarize and his belief in the moral good of predictability.

    Most who read Hayek don’t reach that conclusion, though I can see where those looking for a negative would latch on to his support for a state and take it to an extreme conclusion. Thankfully, Hayek is just part of the larger liberal tradition, and if you leven him with some Bastiat and some Burke and some Locke and some Mill you end up with a set of common, shared principles which are very clear.


  • The problem is, Dave, that the notions of liberty and freedom have to be redefined to fit the present geopolitical climate. In fact, it is their re-definition which has been, at bottom, the crux of the Right’s objection.

    Whether you like it or not, these terms have assumed a more comprehensive, almost universal meaning which goes beyond the original intentions of the classic liberal theory founders – beyond nation-states and encompassing all peoples and nations, the entire world, in fact. That’s the nature of the disagreement – the shift in our geopolitical itinerary from the notions of liberty, freedom and prosperity, narrowly understood, to such political concepts as universal justice and universal human rights.

    The world has changed, is changing, and the current political debate – at least from the Left – takes cognizance and reflects those changes.

  • Baronius

    “people on the right like to make up doomsday fantasies”

    Oh, come on! I grew up hearing how Reagan was going to destroy the world in a nuclear war. The last eight years I’ve been hearing about how Bush was destroying the country and Cheney was planning a coup. A few days ago, Al Gore announced a 75% chance that the Arctic ice cap would be gone in 5 years.

    The Republicans have tried to kill grandma more times by cutting Medicare than Obama has with his death panels. They let the CIA create crack and AIDS to kill black people. They support Israel and inflame the Arab world because they want to start Armageddon. They put lasers into space, and incite revolutions that are bound to result in blowback.

    Don’t tell me that the *Right* likes to make up doomsday scenarios.

  • But we are destroyed as a country.

  • Doug Hunter

    #45 Mark

    Ideally no. As I enjoy pointing out even Marx dreamed of a world without a need for the state imposing it’s will. Practically, yes you probably need some of that.

    It’s always a matter of degree though. Perhaps you don’t like the idea that the government should force everyone to eat a pound of celery a day, but maybe they could outlaw transfats and that’d be okay. You might not think that the government should confiscate all earnings except for those required for the basic necessities and cancel all holidays forcing people to work until every mouth in Africa is fed, but you might be okay with taking a little something from some rich guy somewhere for food aid. You might not believe that a violent and abusive crackhead and a world renowned physician who developed a lifesaving procedure that saved thousands of people should have precisely the same income and priviledge, but you might support taxing x% of the latter to provide for the needs of the former.

  • Mark

    So, practically speaking, a little bit of government nannying and interference in our personal lives is just going to have to be OK.

    Given that, what’s with the bitching?

  • Doug Hunter

    #51 No shit Roger. The authoritarian left redefines things to suit its needs which surprise, surprise works out for them. I knew you favored them but had little idea you had such a romantic attraction to their ideals.

    The entire concept of rights is a semantic device used to weaken the idea of freedom. Rights are simply a restricted subset of freedoms, a lower bar for the government to reach for. Trade all my freedoms for a few rights? No thanks.

  • Doug Hunter

    #55 Now if we could just get a formal definition for ‘a little bit’ that everyone could agree on we’d be somewhere.

  • Well yes – it is a romantic idea and it’s winning the day.

  • Besides, rights, liberty and freedom are properly limited by taking cognizance of our mutual interdependence as individuals and peoples. Without some such context, they are meaningless and banal.

  • 26 – Doug,

    anorexia, rape, child molestation, alcoholism, sex addiction, gambling addiction, drug addiction, escape addiction, dysfunctional education system, mood disorders, attention disorders, panic and anxiety disorders, clinical depression, booming markets in both self-help and sex slavery, increased authoritarianism (militarized police force, 10% of the population in prison), schools becoming even more prison-like than they are without the cops/metal detectors.

    A Harvard study…found that the rate of depression among children was increasing by 23% a year!

    Rise in the production of serial killers. U.S. being the top producer in the world.

    Does this tell you anything, when you can still find societies where none of these things exist? Why are people willing to take for granted that everything around them is just the natural way people and things are, rather than notice that something is wrong with the way we are trying to live.

    There is something very wrong Doug. Indeed, I think there is something wrong with your denial.

  • Doug Hunter


    There is some middle ground between worst society ever and utopia you know.

    We do have problems, but would I rather have been born in the middle ages? the middle east? Africa? Afghanistan? Would I rather be a subsistence farmer or a guy who makes little plastic pieces of crap for 14 hours a day in China?

    Get a grip and sense of perspective.

  • But it’s perfectly alright because it jibes with Doug’s notion of unlimited freedoms – to include the freedom of persons to become dysfunctional so as to compose a thoroughly dysfunctional society. But what does it matter as long as Doug and the like prosper?

    It’s that kind of nonsense, of regarding the welfare of the individual apart from the welfare of the community, which is the perennial stumbling block to all proponents of classical liberalism. They equate true freedom with license, and then claim it’s gospel truth and everything else is ideology.

  • This society is not ‘maximally fucked’ up by any reasonable measure.

    As much as I disagree fundamentally with Doug on 99% of issues, he’s hit the nail on the head here. the doommongering that you’re all indulging in – both the leftly and the rightly inclined among you – sounds more than a little bit ridiculous.

    Come on. The United States has passed through far, far worse crises than this one. Does it not seem more than a little bit odd to any of you that The End Of America [As We Know It] should just happen to be coming to pass in your lifetimes?

    ‘The country’s going to the dogs’ – which is all any of you are really saying – is a political mantra as old as the hills. And it’s seldom correct.

  • We are quickly becoming a third world country in case you failed to notice, thanks to enlightened policies of classical liberalism which protected the rights of the ruling/industrial class to take us to the cleaners.

    An allusion to China, perhaps?

  • No one’s predicting a doomsday, at least I am not. But yes, the US shall not recover and I’m glad for the fact, because we failed to deliver and it’s time we relinquish the stage. Indeed, my hopes and the idea of the human prospects are no longer connected with the well-being of America but the world at large.

    And if you think the forces towards economic/political globalization are just a temporary trend, think again. The Copenhagen summit, misguided as it may be, is just an example.

    Look for more of the same and from all quarters.

  • Doug Hunter

    #64 Roger, that’s just the leveling of the playing field you’re feeling, the redistribution of our wealth to the less fortunate in Asia and the middle east. I thought you types loved that sort of thing. You were just talking about universal rights and welfare of all people. Can you not connect the dots?

  • I grew up hearing how Reagan was going to destroy the world in a nuclear war.

    I grew up hearing how the Russians were going to do the same thing, but that’s probably just because I grew up in closer proximity to them than you did.

    That actually was one of those worse crises, though. Frankly, it’s a damn miracle that we came through the Cold War without at least one limited, even accidental, nuclear exchange. Having heard some of the truly scary ‘almost’ stories from that era, I cannot figure out how we did it.

    I actually wrote a story years ago about a journalist who discovered that nuclear weapons didn’t actually work, and that there was a massive international conspiracy to cover this up. Seems almost like a reasonable explanation now I think about it!

  • I’m not talking about redistribution of wealth but about making the opportunities available to all. And as the once most prosperous society on the face of this globe, yes, we failed to deliver – not just to our own citizens but the world at large.

    We had our chance but we squandered it. That’s why it’s no longer a great loss to me to see America being cut down to size.

  • Doug,

    That is a good way to maintain denial. Minimize the problem by suggesting some problem somewhere else or in some other time and place was worse.

    I do have perspective, Doug. I am grateful every day for who I am and what I have. There is a difference between being grateful and comprehending of one’s fortune and dismissing problems as non-existent.

    And Dr.D,

    I was specifically discussing psychological problems and discounted addressing the economy. And I think that anyone who is not noticing the changes is not looking–whether intentionally or accidentally.

  • Mark

    Doug #57 – my opening is 0 State and, therefore, 0 State nannying interference — and I’m sticking to it.

  • But that’s sheer anarchy, Mark? You can’t let the world go to hell in a handbasket, can you now?

    Perhaps what we need, given the sign of the times, is to redefine the notion of the State.

  • Doug Hunter


    So you can see the picture. You admit you’re glad for our perceived downfall, you admit the need for the symbol of capitalism to be torn down, and you see that it’s in your best interests that this scenario occurs, yet you naively cling to the idea that it’s your opponents who are driving it. Very strange thought process.

    This is a democracy and there are still a lot of us out here so there is yet a chance for recovery for a bit.

    I do agree with your long term oulook though. Eventually, the UN will gain it’s power to tax (it’s coming dangerously close in Copenhagen) and from that moment it’s power will increase exponentially until it makes nation states obsolete and becomes effectively a one world government.

    I suspect that little experiment will come crashing down with horrific consequences for humanity at some point. The bigger they are the harder they fall. Imagine the collapse of the USSR times 10 with no outside force as a check on brutality and no one existing outside the failed system to provide aid.

  • Yes, there will be horrific consequences down the line, hardships, trials and tribulations, wars and rumors of wars. But I’m confident that once the dust settles, the world will be a better place.

    And it’s not being naive, just accepting the inevitability of history.

  • Baronius

    “…that Joe Biden is smarter than Dick Cheney…”

    Dave, don’t forget that Joe Biden has a much higher IQ than you do.

  • Mark

    But that’s sheer anarchy…

    …so what’s your point?

  • And no, I don’t claim it’s “the opponents” who provide the push and the shove. (I’m no conspiracy theorist). It’s the culmination of the present agenda, which is merely responsive to the forces of history.

    If I’m being naive, it’s perhaps in thinking that it’s not so much that humans shape history but rather that history shapes humankind, and that’s regardless of our preferences on the matter.

  • I think you’re operating with isolated concepts, as though they were independent. Authority assumes its meaning from lawlessness, freedom and liberty from undue constraints. You always need a context for the term to do its proper work.

    So I suggest that perhaps a re-definition of the concept of State might go a long way towards making “anarchy” a meaningful and viable term.

  • Doug Hunter


    Most people’s ideal world doesn’t involve a powerful, oppressive state yet that is almost universally suggested as the solution to get us from here to there. I think you believe it’s a temporary fix that’ll just go right back into it’s Pandoras box when you’re through with it. I disagree.

    So why don’t we just shortcircuit the whole failed one world oppressive government thing and skip straight to this better world. Perhaps people could stop dreaming of controlling others and take care of their family and community first. If people did that then you’d find no need for big government. It’s easier to tell other people how to live their lives and fix their problems than it is to actually go out and do it. You’ll gladly volunteer someone else to go in your stead though.

  • That’s not how things happen, by wishful thinking or skipping the necessary steps. In so far as an argument can be made to the effect that the world is a better place today than it was during the Middle Ages, the same notion is applicable to the future.

    So no, we haven’t reached our pinnacle as yet, and America definitely is not it. So I don’t see what your complaint is? Do I stop you from taking care of your family, community, etc? Do I want you to live in chains?

    Definitely not. All I’m saying, all of us are undergoing a period of radical change and a radical break with the past, which is the source of your fears, too.

    Well, you don’t have to believe it. I do.

  • Doug Hunter


    Advocates of big government might want you to believe different, but the radical change between the middle ages and today has been driven by technology, not government.

    Science, technology, and knowledge will continue their march forward and further improve our lives with or without your oppressive government so what is your complaint if I want to skip out on the latter? We’re moving forward either way so why not allow people a small measure of freedom in the meantime?

  • Let me pose this question. In 2012 there is a horrific terror attack on United States soil. Who wins? Barack Obama or Dick Cheney? My money is on Americans rallying behind Tricky Dick.

  • Well, the present change is being driven by technology too: the world has become smaller and it’s becoming more and more necessary to develop constructive modes of cooperation rather than conflict.

    It’s a geopolitical as well as human necessity. And ultimately, it is necessity that drives change.

  • 77 – Roger,

    So I suggest that perhaps a re-definition of the concept of State might go a long way towards making “anarchy” a meaningful and viable term.

    What do you mean?

  • Because the notion of the State, as presently understood and originally conceived – which gave rise, BTW, to the notion of nation-states – lends itself, according to many theorists, and for good reason/s, I might add, to analysis is an instrument of oppression. And it’s against such analysis that the notion of anarchism gets its legs from.

    Think, however, of the idea of State – or, governance, perhaps – when divorced from the accoutrements and all the trappings of “nation-states” and all the parochial and petty national interests? And in such situation/context, with governance so defined and in effect, there is a room for meaningful autonomous and self-sustained communities.

    PS: I prefer the term “autonomous” to “anarchistic.” If only because with such type of governance, autonomy and self-determination is all you need. There’s no need for rebellion

  • Roger,

    Please describe such a ‘state’. How would it work. What are you imagining. Words are bogging down this conversation for me. I need a picture.

  • Cindy – don’t laugh but it’s simply a kind of “Star Trek” scenario – all humanity acting in full accord. And it’s precisely because there aren’t any special interests – there being only the humanity’s interest, or the common interest of all – that provides for a situation in which governance can be freed of any taint or suspicion as though serving this group or that – truly moral in the full sense of the word.

    And in such a world, autonomous communities would prosper.

  • Doug Hunter


    Are we back to more government = less government again? This is where I always get lost when following this train of thought.

    I see the progression, individuals are too petty to be allowed to freedom to govern themselves so we need families to intervene. Families are too petty to govern themselves that we need tribes and communities to intervene. These don’t work so we get nation states which don’t work so we get one world government which we will find is just more of the same pettiness and corruption.

    Do we really need to go through the entire progression to know how this story will end?

    If you want autonomous communities that govern themselves you won’t get there by ceding more authority to nation-states and meta-governments.

  • But you won’t get them either by fighting the Leviathan, because it’s no match.

    Consequently, the only solution is to strip Leviathan of its teeth.

  • Cannonshop

    Doug, the problem is and always has been, that there are people who want to never grow up, and people who want to be everyone’s parent, and when the two get together, the rest of us are out-numbered by the schmucks who want to be ‘taken care of’ and the folks who want to take care of everyone else.

    (that’s assuming only the purest motives here, which isn’t a given.)

    Those who desire power over others, and those who are repelled by responsibility combined, is about the best description of the cult of “Government over all” you can find.

    Addicts and Enablers, idiots and megalomaniacs.

  • I’m surely glad, Cannon, that you consider yourself mature and self-made. After all, if you don’t, who will?

    But hey, who am I to dispel your delusion?

  • Cannonshop

    90 Nice, roger, you completely miss the point. Good for you.

    Let me put it to you another way…

    I don’t want, or need to be ‘cared for’, told when to go to bed, what I am allowed to eat, where or in what profession I am allowed to make my living, how to spend my money, who it is I am allowed to assist, or ignore, or how many kids I may or must help produce.

    I have no interest in being compelled to contribute time, money, or effort to causes I do not support, no interest in sacrificing in the place of those who will not sacrifice on their own, nor do I feel a great burning need to be dictated to and carried from cradle to grave. I have no interest in others taking up my share of the blame for the things I do or do not do, no interest in letting others pay my way because I got in over my head on something (or got greedy and then burned), no interest in propping up brutal dictatorships in the name of ‘progress’ and no interest in having my standard of living ‘equalized’ to that of Zimbabwe, Somalia, Burkina Faso, or Venezuela.

    I do not feel guilt over the actions of Dutch, French, British or German colonial empires of the 19th century, (nor spanish, and portugese, for that matter), and my traceable lineage did not participate in the Slave Trade. I feel no guilt for the actions of other, dead, people. It IS enough to simply not do what they have done.

    I don’t need Uncle Sam to make me take care of my heart, lungs, back, or bloodstream, I don’t need Uncle Sam to comb my hair or tell me to change the cat-box, I don’t need Uncle Sam to make sure I wiped my ass this morning, nor to hold the toilet paper, nor to flush the john afterward.

    I sure as HELL don’t need a United Nations comprised of the worst dictatorships and least answerable bureaucrats deciding what my lifestyle is going to be. It’s enough dealing with the paternalistic incompetents at the local level, having them on an international scale is much, much worse.

  • Well, you seemed to have included me in that illustrious group of the idiots and the megalomaniacs, not sure now which, so a riposte was in order.

    Or did you post merely to alleviate Doug Hunter’s unmistakable sense of anxiety?

  • Baronius

    “Are we back to more government = less government again?”

    Best BC line ever.

  • I’m glad you’re catching all the finer nuances, like more means less.

    Carry on.

  • 86 – Roger,

    Oh, I am not laughing Roger. That is the exact way some anarchists envision the world. You are becoming an anarchist. You just don’t realize it yet. What you describe–practically speaking–is a consensus form of decision-making in a community where every person matters.

    If you would like to see what it is like being immersed (at least virtually) with people who believe similar things, I invite you to follow me on facebook and start talking to some of the people on there. That is where the most anarchists from all over the world can be found in one place on the internet.

  • But perhaps you’re missing my point, Cindy. At present at least, I’d like to argue that “anarchism” (or true autonomy) are only possible within some general framework of moral governance.

    Which is to say, there’s got to be governance in order for individual or communal autonomy to be a real possibility.

    There’s got to be something to guarantee that!

  • Which is to say, nothing comes from nothing.
    You just can’t get away from the notion of “good will” or “love thy neighbor” philosophy. And in absence of coercion, moral type of governance is a must.

    To summarize, you can’t do away with “the center.”

    Of course, I’ll always stand corrected, but not until . . .

  • Moral governance? I may agree with you. I don’t think it would be able to come from outside each of us though. What guarantees it is personal integrity.

    That is, if you remove domination from the equation (remember when I discussed that), the problems associated with it fade.

    Now, looking at THIS mess, you might think that is not possible (with this lot of selfish ruffians). But I am not all that sure. There is evidence. Once again–look closely at the guerrilla Marxists who merged with the indigenous population to become the Zapatistas or the Argentina worker-run factory movement. But don’t simply read my suggestion that you look at them–actually look at them.

    Another world is possible with every new child that is born and has not yet been indoctrinated into this social reality (in my thinking, because I am not very optimistic as far as adults are concerned).

    I am convinced from a psychological/sociological/anthropological standpoint, that we can change as quickly as we can (thinking about how Mark put it is really good) make it a fad. For me that means a fad to raise children in a different way–to actually be autonomous.

  • So, how do you propose this external, central, moral governance that does not dominate and is not a part of a hierarchy?

  • Because you’ve got to eliminate the notion of hierarchy and special interests – and that means, again, the humanity acting in accord, for its own interest understood as a whole. Which is exactly why we’ve got to break down all the barriers and factional interests and regard all humans and human life as equivalent.

    However, even then you’ll need a kind of enforcement, against violators – if only to ensure the well-being of the human community. But the assurance is, the enforcement will not be arbitrary, serving this interest or that, but the interests of the human community at large.

  • Doug Hunter

    So Cindy, in Christian language, you want to take the fruit and put it back on the tree of knowledge, to unlearn that which we have learned. A sort of abstinence only for evil… interesting.

    That would require ultimate control over the environment and intense indoctrination of youth.

    While I was typing that, the Rush song Free Will kept popping into my head for some reason. I’ve always enjoyed that one.

  • Best BC line ever.

    Not quite, Baronius. That tribute is reserved for the late, much-missed SR – author of such subversive gems as this one I came across earlier:

    18 – Shitting Elk
    Dec 18, 2006 at 10:00 pm
    All you peace loving liberal environmental home builders get off my prairie. Just like the French. Lets pitch a tent and sleep out one night. This way we draw attention to the homeless. Let the homeless sleep in your homes one year and you sleep in my TP asshole. I show you arrow placement dick-head.

    (He also posted under whichever pseudonym seemed to fit the occasion.)

  • (Context: an article about Custer and the Little Big Horn.)

  • Baronius

    But Dread, it’s the pith of Doug’s characterization that kills me. He takes thousands of pages of comments and exposes them as contradictory nonsense in one sentence. At that level of efficiency, he could condense the internet into a paragraph. Not only that, but he prevents any retrenchment. It’s like he permanently won all arguments.

  • A paradox, Baronius, is not nonsense. And if you had paid sufficient heed to Jesuit education, you would have known that by now.

    But don’t you worry. I haven’t given up on you yet.

    I am glad though, that Doug Hunter serves you as the paragon of logical thinking. Everyone needs a model, so you’re not alone in this respect.

    Happy hunting.

  • Mark, it all comes down to how much government is good for you and how much is too much and becomes bad for you. It’s like digitalis. A controlled dose will regulate your heartbeat. A larger dose will kill you dead. And there’s a very fine dividing line.


  • 104 – Doug,

    No Doug. I don’t think that is quite how it works. At least not in my experience. We don’t acquire all the knowledge of our predecessors so that we are equipped with it as infants and such that it needs to be unlearned.

    We are adaptable to all environments. Cultures are indoctrinating. There is an extent to which I think we can limit that indoctrination. By eliminating domination children learn to make their own decisions. But in cultures where domination is not questioned, such as ours, their is not much movement beyond indoctrination, which is an extremely powerful thing. In fact it is so powerful that people generally don’t understand the degree to which we have never really questioned most of what we believe. We don’t even know what to question or that we did not originate most of our own thoughts. We have simply added ideas onto biases we were given so that it feels like our own ideas.

    We have been indoctrinated by every institution of culture, learning, and even science. We mostly accept this and defend our indoctrinated beliefs as if they originated with us.

    It can’t be any other way than this. We are all a part of this same culture. One doesn’t get pears from an apple tree. If you are indoctrinated yourself it is very likely (almost miraculous for anything else to happen really) you will end up indoctrinating the youth of your culture with the same biases you have acquired.

    As a person who challenges my own indoctrination, it sort of makes me crazy sometimes to talk to other people. Most people I talk to DEFEND their indoctrination. They act as if a conspiracy among the powerful is needed for a culture to be able to indoctrinate people, or other cultures indoctrinate people, but not their own. Even fewer people I talk to actually CHALLENGE their indoctrinated ideas. That is the key right there…challenge.

    Yet almost all people I talk to act as if they are exempt from its effects. Probably because of their own imagined brilliance and superiority–which is another thing that is indoctrinated–the need to feel special and superior to others.

    See Doug, my plan is for children to freely examine ideas without enforcement of them. Do you see how children’s learning is coerced in schools and for some societal aim, Doug? Have you thought about that ever? Can you see how a coercive learning environment would lead to indoctrination of ideas?

  • Roger,

    I am lost there, pal. You have got to eliminate the ‘notion’ of hierarchy? Huh??? What does THAT mean? You have an enforcement body but you trick yourself into believing it isn’t an enforcement body???

  • Once the enforcement idea, Cindy, is rendered unobjectionable, such as being in the interest of the international community, there will be no objections to speak of.

  • Which is to say, humanity for it’s own sake!

    I don’r exactly approve of this proposition, there’s trouble with such a claim, but given the tenor and the general sentiment reflecting the comments on this lowly site, I think I can live with it. And defeat it.

  • Once the enforcement idea, Cindy, is rendered unobjectionable, such as being in the interest of the international community, there will be no objections to speak of.

    Remarkably out of touch with reality, Roger. It is the interests of the “international community” which are in direct conflict wiht the interests of the United States and its citizens and which people find particularly objectionable.


  • Arch Conservative

    You’re damn right there’s trouble with the notion Roger.

    Are you ready to tear up the Constitution and wipe out every last trace of American sovereignty in favor of the North American Union and the Amero Roger? I’m not.

    Most low level globalists aren’t malicious. They’re just ignorant. They actually believe that there could come a time when all the nations of the world will cooperate with one naother for the benefit of all of humanity as well as the natural world and who wouldn’t want to believe that? While it’s a very nice thought, it’
    s incredibly niave and I don’t see how anyone more than 2-3 years removed from their youthful, heady, sanctimonious, college days could actually believe such tripe.

    What globalization is really about, which is more than obvious to anyone who dares disconnect their mind from the diarheahh of the corporate state run media for two seconds, is the erasing of all national boundaries and the concentrating of world power within a small elite class whose desire is to relegate the rest of us to serfdom.

  • Mark

    The nations and governments of the world need to take their declarations, constitutions and law books and get the fuck out of the way.

    in other news : just what we need — a 700 billion dollar offense bill.

    damn…you know what I could do with 700 billion dollars?

  • Precisely my point, Dave (#111), which is to say that “the international community, such as it exists right now and is in the process of forming, is quite at odds with America’s manifest destiny and purpose. So how unrealistic is it, you tell me? But hey, I didn’t ask for it. It hasn’t come by my design. It’s just the case.

    And tell you what, I’d side with “the international community,” imperfect as it is at the present, rather than with America, if I were to bank on our future.

    So yes, we do disagree on this minor and soon inconsequential point, but reality and history are on my side, Dave, not yours. You just want to hang on to the past. Sorry, pal, it’s futile.

  • Arch,

    It’s got nothing to do with my wishes or preferences. I’d rather that America recover and become a force for the good. But it hadn’t done it so far, and judging by past performance, it’s unlikely that it ever will. We’ve become too entrenched in pursuit of our own, narrowly defined self-interests, to take full cognizance of the fact that our interests are inevitably bound up with the interests and welfare of all peoples and nations.

    So I’ll say it again. The world is changing, it is truly becoming global, and unless we own up to the fact and start acting responsibly, we shall be left behind.

    To repeat the mantra from the sixties, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

  • “The nations and governments of the world need to take their declarations, constitutions and law books and get the fuck out of the way.”

    The only way I can understand this remark, Mark, is as sarcasm.

  • Wow, Cindy! Have you been drinking my wine? I could have written that comment – and only added what I will now. The more Israelis copy your sicko society, the more we get the same shit you have:

    anorexia, rape, child molestation, alcoholism, sex addiction, gambling addiction, drug addiction, escape addiction, dysfunctional education system, mood disorders, attention disorders, panic and anxiety disorders, clinical depression, booming markets in both self-help and sex slavery, increased authoritarianism (militarized police force, 10% of the population in prison), schools becoming even more prison-like than they are without the cops/metal detectors….

    mazál tov!!

  • Arch Conservative

    Rooger..it’s not as if I am in complete denial of the fact that we must share this planet with other nations and cultures.

    That’s the very point of the argument. I know more expect China, Iran, or any other nation, nomatter how different from our own, to surrender their sovereignty in the name of globalism.

    This of it this way. Most of us live on a street or road on which other people live. For the most part you stay out of your neighbors business and he stays out of yours. Sometimes he may do something that affects you and it may be necessary to address this and other times you may help him out or vice versa but neither of these situations obligates you to form some kind of union with him that erases who you are as a person and how you live your life. Does that make sense?

    That’s what the current globalization trend is all about. Does acknowledging that we are not alone necessitate that we surrender our own law and sovereignty?

    I’m not a citizen of the world Roger. I’m an American and as an American I’d prefer it if people from other nations refrained from forcing their values and views upon my nation. Of course I’m always open to objections in cases where there is definitive demonstrable proof that my actions are causing them some type of harm.

    Lastly, we should all, when discussing such matters, differentiate between the American citizenry and the corporate American government.

    It’s sad that so many of us, because we do lead reasonably comfortably lives, have lost the ability to think independently and critically. Of course not everything is a conspiracy as some would have us believe but neither is everything as it seems on the six o’clock news.

    Our lives are too easy and we have all become too soft. We stood by as a man with R beside his name trampled our rights and now we’re pretending it’s a whole new ballgame because the new guy has a D beside his name when in reality nothing has changed. It’s all window dressing.

    Religion is no longer the opiate for the masses. This is the 21st century. Pop culture is most definitely the opiate of the masses.

    I got 100 worthless dollars that says that if we put it to the test we’d find the average American college student wouldn’t know how many supreme court justices there are or what the names of the sides that fought in the civil war were but they could damn sure tell you what happened on the latest reality TV show or they could show us how to use Twitter.

    Maybe a nation of idiots isn’t even worth saving after all Roger.

  • Nice response, Arch. I’ll get back to you shortly.

  • As you know, Arch, I’ve always treated you with respect. In spite of our political differences, I’ve always perceived you as an honest guy who’s speaking from the heart. Not only that, lots of times you do make sense.

    I basically have no quarrel with you or the sentiments you express. America was once perceived as a beacon of light and force for the good – not just the Americans but the world at large. Such was the conception and idea in Eastern Europe where I was raised before coming here.

    Well, I don’t believe it’s the case anymore. Somewhere along the line we squandered this opportunity and the world opinion has turned against us. Much of it has to do with politics and can therefore be discounted, but in part at least it’s justified.

    Not only have we failed to deliver to our own citizens. We have not really made the world any more prosperous – mind you, that would be in our best interests – than it is. It’s for these reasons, mainly, that I no longer view America as the agent for the right kind of change. Consequently, since hope I must, I do indeed bank more on a kind of united world which someday will, be both know, become a reality.

    So that’s it in a nutshell. I wish I could be more optimistic but I’m not.

  • Quite correct, Ruvy and Cindy. But that’s Doug Hunter’s and Baronius’s idea of freedom in a totally dysfunctional society.

    May both of them fare well!

  • A sign of things to come.

    You’ve done good by its citizens, America. My hat is off to you.

  • Roger,

    A few points.

    If things are to change because other countries take power, it will not result in peace on earth and good will toward all.

    States/enforcement units (whatever) are not vehicles for what you are looking for. Power structures are corruptible. That can’t be changed.

    Can you go out on the street and just kill someone Roger? Even if it were legal, could you do it?

    THAT is what a society is built on. THAT is all the enforcement you need. It’s the only kind that really matters anyway.

    Lastly, think of what you are saying. You are suggesting a sort of human enlightenment in that all can see the need to agree to this enforcement body.

    Roger, I suggest that if we were enlightened enough to do as you say–we would not need any enforcement body. Please think about this point and tell me–do you understand what I mean?

  • You’re correct, Cindy, in essence, except that you’ve got to distinguish between individual consciousness and conscience and that of the human body at large.

    There is evil and malice in this world, and I am not utopian enough in my vision to ever think that “everyone will be brought along.” That’s the idea of heaven.

    Consequently, a kind of enforcement will always be necessary. I’m not saying of course that humanity at large will become transformed. But removing the barriers which exist at present – such as nationalism or religion – will go a long way. Ultimately, we may change our ways simply because we’ll deem it necessary – the idea of human prospect again (Heilbronner, do read him!) – to our survival as a species.

    I do bank on that and it’s my hope.

  • “The nations and governments of the world need to take their declarations, constitutions and law books and get the fuck out of the way.” (Mark)

    The only way I can understand this remark, Mark, is as sarcasm. (Roger)

    Here’s how I understand that. People not governments need to join together. People, outside the realm of governments, from the bottom need to join together and create the world we want.

  • Mark

    power to the people

    there’s a new world coming

  • Cindy,

    I said it before and will say it again. There will always be a need for government. It’s simply a matter of there being a structure to human society. What we need is to re-define the notions of government (and the State).

  • Which is to say, “government” is not a dirty world per se. We’ve just got to clean it up.

  • Correct, Mark. But so was the thinking of Mao and the Chinese Communist Party.

    I think you ought to re-read Foucault’s first essay in Power/Knowledge concerning “popular justice.”

    I could email it to you if you wish.

  • Roger,

    I don’t think you are grasping the psychology of the problem. You are suggesting that water should not be wet.

    By the way, do you understand what I said? Did you think about it? You didn’t say.

  • Baronius

    The US is still a beacon of hope. I don’t know where you get this idea that it’s not. Everyone wants to move here, to be educated here. If a nation is in trouble, or a people are oppressed, they turn to the US for inspiration and protection. We’re resented or perceived as enemies by many. But we’re loved by most of the developing world (including more Muslims than would ever admit it, and more Chinese than are allowed to admit it), and we’re admired (a bit wryly) by the rest of the developed world.

    Another thing – this “right side of history” stuff. That assumes that we have no free will, or that we’re made by our times more than our times are made by us. I don’t believe it. Big sweeping trends that were supposed to overrun us have come and gone, and they will again.

    This reminds me so much of the Carter years. We were convinced that we were in a permanent decline, aspiring to peaceful coexistence and burdened by what we thought was a high “natural” level of unemployment. Those trends disappeared after a couple of rough years. President Obama is genuinely digging a hole that will be tough to get out of, but its his individual error, and it won’t be the sweep of history that gets us out of it. It’ll be us.

  • Oh, wait…you did say…I missed it.

  • And tell you what, I’d side with “the international community,” imperfect as it is at the present, rather than with America, if I were to bank on our future.

    Roger, America has no future in the scenario you predict. There is no room for liberty and free enterprise under globalist rule.

    So yes, we do disagree on this minor and soon inconsequential point, but reality and history are on my side, Dave, not yours. You just want to hang on to the past. Sorry, pal, it’s futile.

    I’ll take a fight to preserve a past where liberty has meaning over a future where we’re all serfs, thanks.


  • Which point do you want me to address? There were many. I responded to the general tenor, so if I missed a particular, let me know.

  • Yes, Baronius. Such has been the case. But in the times I’m talking about – the late fifties and early sixties – there was a unanimity about America being “the beacon.” No longer!

    The immigration data you cite is no kind of argument. The people who are coming in now are doing so only because, granted, it’s still better than the rest of the world. No argument there. They’re coming to rape her and to feed on the near-barren carcass.

    They’re no longer coming because of the idea that America once was – I did! – only for personal gain. So excuse me if I don’t bite.

    True, we still have our freedoms, such as they are, so perhaps you’re right in this singular respect. But at best, I’d say that you’re offering a comparative, rather than absolute, argument.

    And in case you didn’t know, I do look for absolutes.

  • I don’t see why you say, Dave, that America has no future in my scenario, and that private initiative will be squashed.

    All I’m saying, we have to adopt to the present, ever-changing world, or perish.

    The choice is ours.

  • 124 – Roger,

    Then you seem to be contradicting yourself, as far as I can see.

    You expect that people need someone to take care of them, that we cannot take care of our own communities. And you vest this capability in an authority. Authority itself is the problem. It is the problem from which all the other problems–the evil and the malice, flow.

    Why is the larger body of people who agree, not powerful enough for you?

    Your enforcement body is a corruption that taints your whole magnificent world. You keep saying that we need a government as a framework. But you never say why. I think you are just used to thinking we do. I recommend you try some creative thinking. Sit and imagine how people act and then see if a government helps or harms. Imagine how people united might meet a threat. I think you don’t have enough experience in thinking in different ways, maybe.

    I still recommend facebook. You can find a lot of interesting conversations like you are looking for on there. You don’t even have to start them all yourself. It might give you some different experience.

  • I’m not talking about people not being able to rise to the occasion, Cindy, and behave responsible by and large. All I’m saying is that the idea of evil/malice/mischief will never be eliminated from any human society, and that there’s got to be a way to deal with that.

    So can’t we just debate this particular issue, because, truly, that’s the heart of our disagreement?

  • But so was the thinking of Mao and the Chinese Communist Party.

    You are comparing this with anarchist thinking? It’s more like your thinking, it seems. The same problem with communism appears to me as the problem with your world vision. To have a good intention is not enough. Authority spoils communism just like it would spoil your world.

    The state withering away–it seems to me like the most ludicrous thing to imagine. Why would it? The state serves the interests of power. Why should it ever wither away? Similarly, why should an enforcement body not act just like Mao? And the way you present it, it’s almost cultish thinking. We redefine the idea of governance and state. Sort of like redefining the Department of War as the Department of Defense.

  • Cindy,

    I’m not a prophet. All I’m saying that removing the present barriers to human unity would go a long way.

    Any problem with that?

  • All I’m saying, we have to adopt to the present, ever-changing world, or perish.

    No Roger, there’s a third way. You stop giving up control to the wrong people and seize control and direct th change in a more positive direction.


  • Then let it happen, Dave. I’m all for it. But let’s prove our moral mantle.

  • 138 – Roger,

    Good idea. Let’s just talk about that.

    Someone once asked me this question. She said, what if I am walking along, in an anarchist society, without anyone around to protect me and someone wants to rob me. I said what if I am walking along in NYC without anyone to protect me and someone wants to rob me? Do the police prevent someone from attacking us?

    What do the police do that, were we all living in a community, we could not do ourselves? They are there to euphemistically…’maintain order’ and ‘keep the peace’. I don’t notice that in their absence we all break out into disorder, violence, and chaos.

    Personally, where I live, they appear to be there mostly to provide a budget for the town based on fining people. That’s pretty much what they do here.

    My friend, Diane, was just instrumental in getting the police force closed down in her township. At first she felt the older people would feel frightened and would want township police. Eventually, those who attended the meetings found that is a non-issue.

    The police tried to stop the citizens from getting rid of them. When the people would meet, the police would be there to enforce building occupancy fire codes to try and prevent the people from reducing the number of officers. Finally, the people just decided they didn’t need a police force in their little township. Of course, they aren’t anarchists, they will simply rely on the state police. Since they don’t really have many problems, they will not likely need the state police for much.

    They had an entire police department that they did not need and who acted like bullies of the citizens, based on fear and belief that they needed them.

  • All I’m saying that removing the present barriers to human unity would go a long way.

    What do you see as the barriers to human unity?

  • Cindy,

    I’m far from defending the idea of police in a community such as you describe.

    But you still have to deal with the eventuality of law-breakers and villains. Every community, however insular or self-sustained, does. This problem won’t simply go away, unless of course you’ll wish it away.

    That’s the hard reality I’m posing to you, and I’m not being facetious. It is, unpalatable as it may be, something to consider.

  • Religion, nationality, ethnic barriers, race!

    Shall I go on?

  • Clavos

    What do you see as the barriers to human unity?

    Well, me for one…

  • You’re welcome, Clavos.

    If you were not an individual, who would you be?

  • Doug Hunter

    A cog in Roger’s fantasy dystopian collective?

  • 126 – Mark

    power to the people

    there’s a new world coming

    quoted for truth

  • 146 – Roger,

    Those are social constructions, oui?

    How could it be that people would be so enlightened as to recognize what you suggest, yet, remain subject to such indoctrinated constructions?

    It seems unlikely to me. That is if the people recognized what you suggest they must–then, they will have at their disposal the means to create a just world without the illusion of needing authority and domination.

    Am I saying this clearly? Your construction (that people recognize that all should count) presumes people to be advanced. Then you come back with these arguments suggesting people are still concerned with race and religion and whatnot and soforth.

    If people are still worried about all that, they are not advanced enough in the first place to partake of your social realization. Conversely, if they are that advanced, those things you mentioned are no longer problems.


  • This belongs on the other thread, so we can pick it up there.

  • Baronius

    ‘But in the times I’m talking about – the late fifties and early sixties – there was a unanimity about America being “the beacon.” No longer!’

    Oh, I guess my brother didn’t have to enlist then. But from what he said, there wasn’t universal agreement about America’s virtues, and sometimes the people who didn’t agree shot at him.

    Roger, because we have better communication now, we can hear the people who grumble against the US. But liberty has always been an unwelcome proposition in some circles. You don’t give up on it just because it’s tougher these days than it was a few years ago. Be brave, Roger. Our parents survived a lot worse than a recession.

  • Cindy 107, IMO and observations it is not about indoctrination but DNA. Osmosis and indoctrination are too simplistic for what you and Ruvy propose.

    America is a lifestyle of more is way too much. We simply have too much of everything. And excess more often than not breeds psychosis and addictions.

    We will have more spirituality and contentment when we have less (material things that is).

    You think the ability to become addicted to Rx pills and street drugs so easily here and in Europe is a matter of indoctrination? I don’t think so. It is more like inborn/inbreed greed or human nature, i.e., DNA. We can’t fight mother nature and we don’t even try.

    PS: BC has the most cerebral comments I have ever read on any other blog.

  • Osmosis and indoctrination are too simplistic for what you and Ruvy propose.

    Bingo!! Heloise got it on the money! No surprise there. What Cindy is really pushing (but will never admit to) is Redemption. What is that, really? The Evil Impulse is somehow removed from our systems (this is most like a function of something like DNA) and people do not seek to exploit each other. Doing what is easy, as opposed to what is right, does not occur to them. Screwing the other guy over – no matter what the issue is – does not occur to them.

    In such a society, you may not need much for police – but you do need a guide. Not a “government” – a guide. Not everybody knows what to do all the time, and goodness is not the same as genius, kindness is not the same as wisdom. And even love can be misplaced. And “democracy” is no solution where the blind lead the blind.


    You need a guide.

    I’m not talking about dictatorship. I’m talking about the internal recognition by most individuals that some individual has knowledge that they do not, and the willingness to follow this guide – not because he (or she) has a police force to beat them over the head with – but because he (or she) knows.

  • Mark

    Nuke the unborn gurus. All must die.

  • Interesting comment, Ruvy. Somehow, the secular and religious views, oddly enough, merge into one as it were. I wouldn’t think you’d own up to that.

  • Baronius

    Come on guys, you’re almost there…gave us free will…died for our sins….

    You guys are singing the song. You’ve only got a few of the words wrong, and you don’t realize it’s a hymn.

  • So are you saying, Baronius, there’s still hope for such as Cindy and I?

  • Ruvy, thanks I am taking a virtual bow LOL. I just watched “The Cove” I think it has been nominated for best foreign film. It lays out what we are talking about so well.

    It seems to be culture and indocrination to explain what the Japanese are doing to whaling but when you dig deeper it’s there–the gene for GREED! In fact in one of the interviews the whale killers say that eating dolphins is part of their culture. That was news to the Japanese! They were surreptiously selling the stuff in the markets. I don’t eat faces but for those who do you don’t want to see the collapse of fishing as we know it.

    The Japanese are destroying fishing for the world. And why and how? They enlist other poor countries by, what else, bribery, cash money.

    A must-see movie BTW


  • I think you’re on the right track, Heloise, when you expand the range of explanations beyond osmosis or indoctrination to include the biological. There are, however, some tricky issues in philosophy of mind when one goes too far in that direction – having to do with identifying mental with physical events, the mind-brain identity thesis, for short.

  • 153- Baronius still swallows the ‘they hate us for our freedom’ propaganda. If this didn’t actually sound like a child made it up, I’d be more sympathetic.

    It doesn’t even make use of anything realistically imaginable. Do you hate other people because they are freer than you? One of the first things that smells bad about this sort of explanation is that it makes no sense when we try to empathize with feeling this way. It is an explanation pulled out of thin air as a reaction. It is so blatant as to be embarrassing to hear someone say this.

  • Well, what troubles me about Baronius’ mindset is that he reduces the idea of human misery to economic terms -it’s just a recession to him. So one would assume, therefore, that Baronius isn’t hurting, otherwise he’d identify himself somewhat with those that do.

    There’s another good point, Cindy, you’re making: there are indeed different kinds of freedom and the notion of freedom to succeed – America’s claim to fame, as it were, and the monopoly on the kinds of freedom there are – is grossly overrated.

    The Europeans, for example, are not quite as enticed with that kind of freedom as we are. They work in order to live; we live in order to work.

  • “That assumes that we have no free will, or that we’re made by our times more than our times are made by us. I don’t believe it. Big sweeping trends that were supposed to overrun us have come and gone, and they will again.” #131

    History is made by humans, Baronius, but humans are also made by history by virtue of the fact that we all must respond, sooner or later, to change. And America’s short history of being able to overcome whatever trends that had come in its way is hardly a testimonial that the effect that we shall be able to do so in the future without the need to adopt.

    The Carter era is also a poor example if you’re using it to compare it with present times. I’m certain that to many it may have looked like the world was falling. But we were still on the threshold of globalization. And I surely hope you’re not suggesting that America will have to respond to this ever-present circumstance.

    We’re not talking about a mere trend here but impending reality.

  • will not have to respond . . .

  • Baronius

    Cindy, I didn’t say that they hate us because we’re free. Some people do hate the practical end of freedom. Like, for example, you. Freedom guarantees inequality of results, which is something you can’t accept.

    Roger, you completely miss the point when you say that see the problem in purely economic terms. I think that a weak economy has dispirited people, sure. But the real problem, the one you two keep dancing around, is human evil. It’s not genetic, and it’s not created by society. It’s an innate part of our souls. Mine. Yours.

    You asked, Roger, if I think there’s still hope for you two. I do. But seek first the kingdom of God, and all this crazy theorizing you do will finally fall into place. How many conversations have you guys had that end in the same way: having proven that human nature is the obstacle, you decide that it has to be changed, but then you fizzle out as to how. You want to fix the world’s souls? Fix yours first. You can only do that with Divine help, and once you figure that out, the rest will become a lot clearer.

  • You’re preaching to the choir, Baronius. I never talked about changing human nature but working with it. Nor do I deny, unlike Cindy, the presence of evil or malice (in some), which perhaps can never be eradicated. Which is why Cindy and I disagree on the possibility of utopia and eliminating the need for government. The Messianic period of history is not for this world – unlike what Ruvy perhaps believes – although the Kingdom of God is already upon us.

    However, although I may have resolved my existential and conception questions to my personal satisfaction, that does not mean that that I shouldn’t be exercised by problems of human societies, which you seem content to ignore and reduce everything to the level of “the personal.”

    We all are free agents, and therefore, also agents of change to a limited degree. Furthermore, there is still room for human progress and forging a more equitable system than than which exists at the present. And I do believe that humanity is moving, however slowly, in that direction.

  • conceptual questions . . .

  • Heloise, Ruvy, Roger,

    I do not know what any of you are getting at. I am not saying anything controversial. I did not suggest human behavior has not been influenced by biological factors. And Ruvy, I have no idea what you mean by redemption. However, this point is separate from and does not detract one iota from what I am saying about cultural indoctrination. This is a simple, self-evident concept. I am talking about how culture is transmitted to the growing learning child. I am obviously a poor explainer. I will try again.

  • 166 – Baronius,

    I propose more freedom than you do. Your comment is therefore nonsensical.

  • The point simply is, Cindy, that “social explanation,” such as in terms of indoctrination alone, may not be sufficient. It’s the old version of the heredity-environment debate. The problem, however, has to do with the extent to which these two, admittedly different accounts, can be mixed, if at all. They both originate from two entirely different – though perhaps not incompatible – conceptual schemas.

  • Nor do I deny, unlike Cindy, the presence of evil or malice (in some), which perhaps can never be eradicated.

    Okay, when Baronius does this, I expect it. But, WTF Roger?

    When did I ever say such a thing? You handled my comments the same way other people do. Why–when I put questions and propositions for consideration forward that are not understood in or addressed by someone else’s proposal–do people seem to a) ignore examining them for their possible implications and also b) immediately jump to some unwarranted conclusion about what I think?

    I am irritated now. This same thing happens whenever I talk to market-anarchists or libertarians. They–none of them–ever answer my challenges. They just go right the fuck by them and cast some aspersion on my ‘supposed’ ideas.

  • Again, the problem arises that individual liberty or freedom are not context-free, absolute concepts but must derive their full meaning only in the context of social life. And to reduce the limits on individual freedom only to certain constraints (such as, you’re free to do anything as long as you don’t infringe on somebody else’s freedom) is indeed a sorry picture of what it means for there to be a human society and being a part of it. It reduces in fact the concept of society to a mere collection of individuals. Society is much more than that.

  • You never said that, Cindy, but you’re implying that whenever you argue for the possibility of a human society without the need of even moral governance.

  • 171 – Roger, if you think that, then I think you are not understanding my meaning. As I said, my point should be evident–to anyone–based on reality.

  • I didn’t suggest that you’re not cognizant of the biological factor. Heloise may have thought you did.

    As to #174, reread your #151 and tell me where I am wrong to draw such an implication.

  • 174 – Actually, I didn’t imply that there is no moral governance needed. You just casually discounted the importance of what I said. I suggested that moral governance should come from inside people not outside them. I was quite serious about that. You declined to examine my propositions. This implies that you dismissed them out of hand. Perhaps you don’t really comprehend me.

  • Sure, it comes from “inside,” but it still has to become manifest externally, in some form or structure. So we’re not arguing about the origins here – only about what I recognize as social necessity. A society implies organization and therefore structure, and you can’t have a society without some kind of structure. And so it goes for all human practices. For something to become a practice, it has, to some extent, become “insitutionalized.”

    So to get back to the question – there’ll always be crooks and thieves and miscreants, no matter how the society may have evolved for the most parts. And that problem has to be dealt with. And it can’t be dealt simply in an ad hoc kind of way but by the existing structure/s specifically designed for the purpose.

  • Heloise, Ruvy, Roger,

    The following cannot be explained via genetics by only via the idea of cultural indoctrination.

    If I take an infant and transplant her at birth into another culture, she will not grow up with any remnants of her birth culture as would be expected if biological factors superseded cultural indoctrination, but instead will completely adapt to the culture where she is raised.

    I agree that we can have biological differences that affect our behavior. But, they generally do not stray far from our cultural indoctrination…whether pro or con. That is, we can support or oppose our indoctrination or simply never question it. But if we stray very far from it we tend to get locked up in an asylum or otherwise imprisoned in some way.

    I am saying nothing less self-evident than this: If you were raised in Saudi Arabia your beliefs and the ideas you struggle with would be different than if you were born in an Australian bush tribe, or if you were raised in (insert culture here). These differences in beliefs are cultural indoctrination and not affected by biology.

    Naturally, not all humans everywhere originate the same ideas or have the same experiences. In one culture you may be deciding how many neck rings would be attractive and in another what color eye shadow. These preferences are not a result of genetics. They are simply examples of how as social creatures, we learn the social reality of the culture where we grow up.

    We, both, learn the social construction and we also may rebel against it. We may influence and change it. It takes quite awhile to effect changes. In a huge metropolitan society like this one, there are ranges of beliefs…but there are still the basic dominant cultural beliefs. These are transmitted via the educational system, TV, and from person to person.

    When we recognize much of our thinking has been indoctrinated in this way–just like a Saudi who believes women are property, just like a slave owner who subjugated blacks in the south, just like a Greek who believed in Zeus–when we realize we are just like that, just like them, that is how we get our ideas–then we can become free. We can challenge everything we have been taught. We can then begin to think for ourselves. It seems in my experience, we cannot escape our cultural indoctrination much until we realize this.

    If you do not question the beliefs of the dominant culture, you are to that extent a prisoner of cultural indoctrination and to that extent you are blind.

  • Well, dominant culture is transmitted by more than just TV, school, and person to person, of course. They were just examples. Dominant culture is transmitted via all forms of media and communication including body language and advertising.

    It is especially poignant when you consider we are allowing profit driven corporations to determine our human values based on their self-enrichment motive by communicating and transmitting culture to our children. Does this trouble anyone?

    One of the worst things about Capitalism is that the values of the culture become contaminated with the images and projections and ideas of people who want to exploit others.

    Here is one small but concrete example: Children are exposed to pornography and develop unhealthy ideas about sex and women because someone wants to make a profit and can.

  • 178 – Please see what I said in 137:

    “You keep saying that we need a government as a framework. But you never say why. I think you are just used to thinking we do.”

  • A very fair statement, Cindy. As one and the same species, we have to presuppose a certain commonality of our genetic makeup, to allow of course for certain minimal individual variations with a very narrow range. That’s why I’m rather skeptical of relying too much on biological or other explanations to explain social phenomena. It’s like trying to explain or reduce mental states/events by reference to physical events in the brain – the mind-brain identity thesis alluded to earlier.

  • “A society implies organization and therefore structure, and you can’t have a society without some kind of structure. And so it goes for all human practices. For something to become a practice, it has, to some extent, become institutionalized.” #178

    “Government” is one such necessary form of organization/structure – made necessary if only how to deal with problems related to “deviance.”

    It is a matter of human accomplishment that we’re capable of devising methods/procedures/system/structures in order to be able to deal with a variety of what we perceive as problems on a systematic kind of basis, rather than having no methods/procedures/system/etc – which would necessitate having to deal with the same types of “problems” either on an “ad hoc” type of basis, as though always from scratch.

  • Baronius

    “When we recognize much of our thinking has been indoctrinated in this way…then we can become free.”

    That recognition is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for breaking free of it. That is to say, we don’t need to have that realization to exercise our free will and rebel against our culture, and we don’t automatically become free of our cultural baggage by realizing we have it. At best, it helps. And if there is evil that we bring to the table because it is part of human nature, then it will be present in every culture and every rebellion against culture. Spiritually, we must fight that evil where it comes from (us). Culturally, we must try to improve the world but always with the recognition that that evil isn’t going to disappear, even from ourselves.

  • Fair enough, there’s the individual and the society with its values, dominant culture, etc., which is why there were always some who “rebelled” and those who would go along. I’m not however as intent as you are on fighting “the evil” in me, for whenever it happens, I tend to recognize it and act accordingly, according to “better lights.” Perhaps you’re too much under the dogma of the original sin doctrine. I happen to take it with a grain of salt. (Socrates, for example, wasn’t a Christian, and it be difficult, I think, to find fault with him.)

    Which comes down to the following, I’d say correct stance on the part of the individual vis-a-vis the society. You do speak of what we ought to do: “culturally, try to improve the world.”

    Well, part of that means expressing and being beholden to more enlightened ideas. Isn’t it a matter of fighting darkness with light?

  • “under the spell of the original sin doctrine,” I should say.

  • I do agree with you, however, that we are not as helpless against dominant culture and its values as Cindy makes it out to be.

    I can’t speak of other cultures, but within our, Western tradition, we have sufficient resources to question the dominant values and examining them. In fact, a great bulk of what counts as “moral language” offers one precisely such resources – as when looking at things from the vantage point of such ideals as, say, justice.

    And that’s where free will comes in. So we can continue to live our lives unexamined as it were, or we can choose to put them to scrutiny. The choice is always ours, and our being beholden to dominant culture doesn’t always stem from the fact that we’re impotent to be able to do anything about it – for, again, the resources for questioning that culture abound – but simply because we either don’t care to do anything about it, are content with the dominant values, any of the above. But helpless we’re not.

  • Ah, yes, the doctrine of original sin – another immaculate deception. As a youngster I was taught all baptized babies who died became cherubs in heaven. Babies who were not baptized became cherub “lights” and would fly around Limbo playing harps and having golden curly locks. And this was because of the stain of original sin. All souls are born with a stain which can only be washed away with the holy waters of baptism. That’s where Proctor & Gamble comes in. They make a great stain stick. Who knew?

    As a teenager I was told all aborted fetuses went to limbo and would never know the joy of seeing God. Now, does a loving, nurturing God punish the unborn for the actions of the parent? I think not. This is yet another way of manifesting the Almighty as a vengeful, hating, judgmental God who refuses to recognize the foibles of humankind. Now, come on, boys and girls. Does anyone REALLY believe that God is that unjust?

  • It’s a great stumbling block, Silas. And it does affect the thinking and views of all those who believe in it.

  • Baronius,

    That recognition is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for breaking free of it. That is to say, we don’t need to have that realization to exercise our free will and rebel against our culture, and we don’t automatically become free of our cultural baggage by realizing we have it. At best, it helps.

    I would agree that just having an understanding is no guarantee of using it for any beneficial purpose and we don’t become free of baggage just by recognizing we have it.

    However, the rest misses my point, I think. Consider that if an idea is culturally indoctrinated in us, then we believe it is our own choice. We think of it as our own idea that we arrived at via the use of freewill. I am suggesting that:

    THE IDEAS WE NEED TO CHALLENGE ARE IDEAS THAT WE BELIEVE. The ideas that we hold near and dear and which are the basis of our thinking. It is what we are firmly sure of, so sure of that we don’t feel any need to question it–those are the things that need to be challenged in order to begin to be self-determined. Otherwise we are just mucking around within the range of opinions of the time and place we are born–nothing more. We are still prisoners of indoctrination that way–no matter how far left or right we go. No matter if we are science-minded or religious.

    If we have no understanding that our own thoughts are greatly a product of indoctrination–then we do not understand that it is not our culture OUT THERE we need to challenge in order to be self-determined, it is our culture as it is INSIDE US, and as such, what we think of as us.

    This is why you don’t find many folks in the mainstream USA arriving at a belief in the Sun God via free will. So, do you understand now what I mean?

    Regarding your second point about evil. If what you mean works when I translate that into say evil = aggression. Then I can agree with you on that.

  • It can also be willful ignorance. We’re not just being deceived believing what we do, as though we were blameless. But we can choose to stay in a state of self-deception for any number of reasons – if only because it serves our self-interests. Consequently, “evil” needn’t necessarily manifest itself in aggressive behavior. It can be quite passive, as is the case with most “well-intentioned” folk, when they’re merely apathetic, lethargic, willing accomplices.

  • I don’t think we have a real choice until we question our own beliefs, Roger. I think we are basically slaves to our indoctrination unless we do that.

  • Then the notion of self-deception is not only false but vacuous. And the same goes for the notion of individual responsibility for one’s actions and life. Which would make all of us, and to the very same extent, victims.

  • Things are rarely all black or all white, Roger. And yet, it is impossible to describe the myriad shades in between in a practical way…and hard to find the line that blurs each shade from the next.

    While what I am saying is true (as I see it)…it may not be the ONLY thing that is true. We are in one way very much like victims or robots–until we question our own beliefs and ask ourselves how we arrived at them.

    If you do not know that you are indoctrinated, Roger, how are you to be expected to question your indoctrination? You say we are each responsible. How? By examining the ideas of the world and choosing wisely? By aligning ourselves with the good guys? This does not mean we have realized what I am suggesting we need to realize.

    You feel you are an examined person. I guarantee that those you think of as unexamined, those you disagree with wholeheartedly and believe that examination would permit them to see more clearly–those people think that they are the examined ones and that you are just accepting your ideas based on poor thinking.

    So, where are these unexamined people, Roger? It is sort of relative isn’t it? You believe you are doing the proper examination. Well, so does Dave Nalle, so does Baronius. So did I, even when I wasn’t (and even when I am still not).

    Life is very messy. Here is something to consider. Do we hold the psychopath responsible for his behavior?

    If I take a child and feed it, but withhold physical contact and love. There is a good likelihood that I will ‘create’ an adult who is incapable of human empathy. I say ‘create’ because it was by my action that I did limit this person’s possible outcomes in such a way that this person did not realistically have a choice about what to become.

    I still am forced to hold the psychopath accountable for his behavior though, aren’t I?

  • It’s part of our responsibility as individuals to question our beliefs and presuppositions. And again, it’s not that we lack in resources. We always have choices to make and we make them. We can settle for material values and become Walmart shoppers, or we can choose an alternative set of values – such things as integrity, honesty, love of truth, justice, etcetera and etcetera. So although not everything is black or white, we do, most of us, have an instilled sense of right and wrong. We do know, for the most part, when we’re have done somebody else wrong, treated them unfairly, any of those things.

    Of course, there are always exceptions, but exceptions in this case prove the rule.

  • “resources for questioning that culture abound”

    Maybe I should write less and then I’ll be heard more instead of the other way around?

    Please reread what I wrote. I specifically addressed this so you could not make this mistake.

  • Well, you keep on making excuses for people, which suggests you’re not taking what you yourself are saying very seriously. That’s why I’m stressing it again and again.

  • Roger,

    What about when the immediate effects of our actions are not at all clear? What about when we really do not recognize that what we do hurts another?

  • Come on guys, you’re almost there…gave us free will…died for our sins….

    Forget it, Baronius. That’s blasphemy to a Jew – it is blasphemy to a Muslim.

    First watch the video ADÓN ‘OLÁM. Unfortunately the translation is in German.

    Therefore, now we go to the translation in English.

    Master of the universe who was king,
    before any form was created.
    At the time when He made all through His will, then His name was called ‘King’.

    And after all is gone,
    He, the Awesome One, will reign alone.
    And He was, and He is,
    and He will be in splendor.

    And He is One, and there is no second,
    to compare to Him or be His equal.
    Without beginning, without end,
    to Him is the power and rulership.

    And He is my God and my living Redeemer,
    and the Rock of my fate in times of distress.
    He is my banner and He is a refuge for me,
    my portion on the day I cry out,

    In His hand I entrust my spirit,
    when I sleep and when I wake.
    And my soul shall remain with my body,
    HaShem is with me and I am not afraid.

  • You can’t always measure the value of what we do/our actions by their intended or unintended effects. It doesn’t always render itself to this kind of calculation. One’s conscience and motive/intent, are a better guide. But we do know, for example, when we’re trying to cheat someone, deliberately mislead them, lie to them, want to hurt them, etcetera etcetera. So again, while there is some grey area which calls for special deliberation and insight, for the most part, when it comes to everyday human intercourse, we are aware how we relate and treat others. And if we’re honest about it with ourselves and with them, they’ll surely tell us and we can again set things aright. It’s always an uphill climb – the road to perfection.

    Anyways, perhaps we can chat some more tomorrow. Take care.

  • Cindy just for the heck of it I once sat down and listed everything I could think of to make an educated list of all that man has in common with animals. Now even language has to be added.

    It is so much about biology and inheritance that it bogles the mind. We think we are special. Man is bipedal. That is pure biology. That is where our specialness really ends. Everything is created and put into cosmic order. No indoctrination needed.

    As for practice. I did spiritual practice AKA mediation for 30 years. My gurus institutionalized it as have many. I did not need to be indoctrinated in order to participate in this secret society. I was simply born to do it.

    I found it from friends who showed me the door. I went through that door and far beyond anything that was ever put into my head by society or indoctrination. Is this pat in India the homeland of such things? No, not at all. While gurus and spirituality and meditation are more well known there, it is just a fact of life.

    They have cows walking the streets unharmed, it’s cultural really, but they believe it’s spiritual. That may be indoctrination as cow walking is instutitionalized all over India.

    I really don’t see your point I guess. It’s is all biology, karma and DNA in my book. Sorry.

  • Cindy,

    I’ll leave the cows to Heloise; but the bottom line is that is not all nurture. Nature is a very important part. If you have impurity in the nature of the nurturer you will have impurity in the nurtured. This follows like 2+2=4.

    Thus, you need Redemption – which I said you would never admit to pushing. Redemption gets rid of the Evil Inclination – which is the inclination to exploit others. It is this inclination that makes all nurturance and all relationships flawed. When I say all relationships, I mean just that. ALL RELATIONSHIPS.

    Of course, we are all used to living with flawed relationships. Some of us have the stamina, brains and love to make flawed relationships work. Many of us do not. That is what liquor and drugs are for. But pile up the flaws in society, and you get the series of societal diseases you listed in the first place.

    Until we get to Redemption, we have the one door that Heloise mentioned above – meditation that allows us to first become aware of, then to explore, and finally to control our minds. But not everybody can handle meditation either.

  • Roger,

    Am I wasting my time? You can understand me if you try. Maybe other people can’t, but you can. So, please let me know if you are trying to be uncooperative or if I am just grumpy.

  • Mark
  • You know I’m not, Cindy. We’ve just hit a snag, but I don’t like to see you opening yourself so to misunderstanding. I think I understand where you’re coming from and what drives your thinking. You’ll just have to make a concession or two in order for your thought-system to attain the kind of integrity and coherence to withstand spurious criticism. But we can talk about it on the F/thread.

  • Good ol’ Mark. We can always count on you.

  • And yes, you have definitely become a little grumpy since you stopped smoking. But you’ve asked.

  • Mark 🙂

  • I think I understand where you’re coming from and what drives your thinking.

    I am pretty sure you don’t. Maybe that is the problem. It often is when you think you do, yet you don’t.

  • Ruvy,

    the bottom line is that is not all nurture

    I agree with you. I never thought it is all nurture. Did you think I said that? I think that belongs to a different discussion. Let me give you an analogy:

    Nature vs nurture:

    How does a tree grow? Well, it is partly determined by what sort of information is in the seed. Also it depends on weather conditions. So, it is part nature part nurture, yes?

    Okay, here is what I am saying.

    All trees are grown somewhere. How they grow will always be effected by where they are grown and under what conditions, what kind of soil. A tree cannot escape the effect location will have on its growth.

    So, I am not saying that the information from the seed is not important. I am not arguing nature vs nurture. I am saying the environment will have effects. On trees and on people. And with people–those effects will not be recognized unless we look for them. We will be at the mercy of sort of operation based on things other people told us–until we challenge our own beliefs.

  • Roger,

    Okay, I am grumpy. I am frustrated. No one seems to understand what I’m talking about. This has been hours. It’s frustrating!!!

    Let me say this. I am not making excuses for people. I am trying to explain something that is very much more difficult to communicate than I realized. So, I will need a benefit of the doubt or some slack or something. We have to go back and make sure we are talking about the same thing. Otherwise, I feel you are just using words in a different meaning to keep going forward and not really understanding my meaning. Maybe I am not saying it well…please understand that I am not Foucault or Chomsky or Mark [:-)]. I don’t have the capability of always putting things in precise ways. I am used to thinking in my own head and using lots of Italian hand gestures to get my ideas across. 😉

    Good ol’ Mark. We can always count on you.

    Indeed, that is why we adore Mark. 🙂

  • Well, just limit your Italian hand gestures to to fall under the parental guidance category and we’ll be fine.

    Will talk later!

  • lol, that was a good one, Roger. 🙂

  • Ruvy

    I notice that Baronius hasn’t been back…

  • Cindy,

    I talk with my hands, too, though my hand gestures may come from a different part of the Mediterranean basin….

    I’m not arguing with what you say in your comment #210 – as far as you take it.

    What I am saying is that most people do not have it in them to challenge their own beliefs.

    For example, for years I was your garden variety Zionist, swallowing all the pro-Israel bullshit poured down my throat like a good boy eating his Maypo. Then I ran across this guy, Barry Chamish, who for years had been a garden variety Zionist, also swallowing all the bullshit poured down his throat – until he realized that the society he lived in did not work according to the norms described, and that there was something very wrong. By the time the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, he was at his own personal “tipping point” shall we say, and when unrevealed portions of the Oslo Accords fell into his hands indicating that the Israeli government had agreed to murder off the leadership of the residents of Judea and Samaria (which they did over the next seven years, culminating with the murder of Rav Binyamin Kahane, z”l, in 2000), he was ready to challenge his beliefs. And the scales fell from his eyes. By early 2001, when I was reading Barry’s articles, I was being forced to challenge my own beliefs.

    But most people cannot do that. From what you describe of yourself, you have done this. To most of the world, too damned comfortable in their own mental or emotional comfort zones, people like us come off as grumpy and stubborn. But when you have to challenge long held ideas and mentally work your way through to the other side, you do get stubborn – you’ve done hard work (that doesn’t mean that more work and change is NOT in store for you).

    In addition to the far more jaded view of the Israeli governing clique that my writing evidences, I have a far more jaded view of the “religious” establishment here, and have gone on my own journey to understand what Judgment and Redemption all mean, and have a very clear view – a view possibly not too dissimilar from Heloise’s – which she reached by far different means.

    And you are seeing the result of those understandings reached from the both of us.

    It takes a very real change in human makeup to work the changes that she and I talk about – and that you would like to see – one that cannot be reached by reading philosophers or hoping in the triumph of human reason – eventual or otherwise. The universe is far bigger than we stinky animals on Earth can imagine. We have to overcome the stink of our own evil to even attempt to lose the blindness of our limitations and comprehend what is really around us.

    Stay away from the cancer sticks – no matter how grumpy others see you as. Speaking for myself, I would rather argue with you for a longer period of time than a shorter one.

  • Irene Wagner

    It’s probably something like 2 am for Baronius right now. He was probably too polite to get into it with you because he realizes you’re in the middle of a religious holiday.

  • What religious holiday, Irene? Hanukkah is over! The Sabbath is two days behind us. Today is yom shení – the second day of the week – and it’s already 11:00 in the morning here! More likely, Baronius is off in Baronius-land, snoozing away and dreaming of obscure Catholic theologians….

  • Mark

    …another stunning example of how introspection is not a good in itself

    garbage in — garbage out

  • Mark

    Rog, you have yet to justify your call for a retreat into essentialism and romanticized individualism in the face of the dilemma.

    there are moralities,knowledges,truths

    any hierarchy contains its own deconstruction – there is no universal on which to build regardless of your chosen/culturally imposed narrative/indoctrination

    …the question remains: so, now what?


    (btw, Cindy doesn’t need to compromise as you suggest.)

  • I tried to given an archeological account of morality (and of art by the same token) on the Foucault thread, as it had evolved from functional, practical concerns to result in a kind of transcendence. And although the kind of transcendence I was talking about is not absolute in the full sense of the world, it does imply certain more or less absolute characteristics – if only to say that it’s theoretical and hopefully divorced from all notions of utility and practice. Another way of saying is that it’s a case of establishing a practical basis for morality where the practical transcends the trite and the mundane but concerns itself, rather, with some general conception of “the public good” (or the good of the species) – again, which is to say, “practical” at its best and most comprehensively understood. It goes without saying, of course, that the account is still contingent in Wittgensteinian sense, appertaining to our form of life, true of only one possible world.

    As to your comment about Cindy, apparently we disagree. I can’t understand the notion of human society without the correlative notions organization and structure. But we can talk about that later.

  • But to recap, one has got to save the notion of (moral) truth and knowledge to escape Foucault’s relativistic vicious circle and historical bind if those notion are to serve as means of liberation. And my account is designed to do just that.

  • Baronius

    Good morning! I was just dreaming of De Wulf and the neo-Thomist philosophers. Did I miss anything?

    Ruvy – Do you think I was scared off by your accusation of blasphemy? I’m as much of a monotheist as you are. The fact that the one G-d is triune is just as much a surprise to me as it is to you. The fact that Jews don’t see me as a monotheist doesn’t bother me, and the idea of taking theological tips from Muslims is just preposterous.

    Roger and Silas – You may not like the doctrine of original sin, but I bet you believe it. Anyone who’s observed human nature or taken notice of himself knows that we have an inclination to do the wrong thing deliberately. Saint Paul put it thus: ‘For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.’ Humans are jerks; I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that.

    Cindy – Evil includes aggression, but it includes a good number of other things. I’ve never had to define evil before. Like I just said to Roger and Silas, it’s something you can’t help but be aware of.

  • There are other explanations, Baronius, for this human proclivity towards “evil.” Are we necessarily born with mischief in our hearts? Perhaps it’s a matter of ignorance at first, prompted by the natural tendency of any organism/life form to survive. Eventually, we grow out from our limited understanding and mature.

    Whether with the help of God or as a result of having been exposed to enlightened ideas is another matter.

  • And since you’re on the subject of the neo-Thomist philosophers, let me introduce you to Peter Geach, as rigorous a thinker as they come.

  • There hasn’t been much Chavez-bashing on BC lately, so just to get the ball rolling I thought I’d share the news story I just read which reports that Hugo wants to rename Angel Falls, the world’s tallest waterfall.

    The falls are currently named after Jimmy Angel, an American aviator who was the first gringo to see them.

    Ironically, the photo of Angel which accompanies the story looks rather strikingly like Chavez…

  • Are you tactfully suggesting that we change the subject?

  • No, it just seemed like the most fecund thread to drop something like that into…

  • Here’s a rather lucid account, Cindy, of The Mind-Body Problem” to enable you to combat the rather simplistic account by Heloise, reducing all explanations of the mental events to events in the brain (i.e., the biological).

  • It’s quite alright. One can’t live by philosophy alone, let alone make any kind of living from it.

  • Fecund, that’s a good one! So we mustn’t be doing too bad.

  • Roger and Silas – You may not like the doctrine of original sin, but I bet you believe it.

    No, I do not. Theologians have created the original sin doctrine for one reason – indoctrination. I don’t believe unbaptized babies go to Limbo, just as I don’t believe dead baptized babies become harp playing cherubs serenading the angelic hierarchy of Heaven. The spirit only becomes a part of the equation when a baby inhales its’ first breath. For it is written that man did not fill with the Spirit until God breathed life into Man’s nostrils. Gee, simple but poignant.

    Evil includes aggression, but it includes a good number of other things.

    So, was the Great Flood evil? Was the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah evil? Or is it that when God imposes His retribution it is justified and necessary for the cleansing of Man? While religious systems are, in and of themselves not intrinsically evil, it is the inherent evil of power mad humans who have twisted the goodness of God into something wicked and fearful.

    The fact that Jews don’t see me as a monotheist doesn’t bother me, and the idea of taking theological tips from Muslims is just preposterous.

    Explain this a bit more. Are you saying that belief in a Trinity is consistent with monotheism? And, are you saying that Muslim teaching in general is not to be considered?

  • And, of course, keeping on topic with this thread. Is saving the Obama Presidency tantamount to advancing the cause of Barack the Antichrist? I kid you not. There are those fundamentalists who actually believe that this President is the fulfillment of the writings of John on Patmos.

  • Silas, my favorite definition of “evil” is arbitrary use of authority. The stress is on “arbitrary.”


    Because those who are in the privileged position to command it, whether rightfully or wrongfully acquired, have an extra responsibility as to how they discharge it.

  • Bar,

    Cindy – Evil includes aggression, but it includes a good number of other things. I’ve never had to define evil before. Like I just said to Roger and Silas, it’s something you can’t help but be aware of.

    Yup. I wasn’t trying for an all encompassing definition. I was just trying to differentiate whether you meant normal things that people can personally do or some innate condition that people possess that is lurking in the background waiting for a chance to escape..

  • Interesting picture of “evil” – as something always lurking in the background, waiting to rear its ugly head.

    I’m afraid that’s Baronius’s conception. I’d say it’s rather scary, like the little beast within us.

  • Roger,

    I didn’t see that Baronius said that is what he thinks. That may be the case, I’m not a mind reader. But don’t you think you’d want to check with him on that? I don’t see anything in his remarks that would warrant that conclusion.

  • Well, let’s saddle him with this for the time being until he avers. All is fair in love, war, and good argument, don’t you agree?

    Plus, you should know by now that I’m quite capable of being purposely provocative. It’s a strategy, deery!

  • deary!

    There. Had to say it again.

  • Here’s my picture of it: “unrepenting heart,” like the Pharaoh who refused the children of Israel go.

  • Baronius

    Cindy – good pickup. I didn’t mean that our capacity for rottenness is an extra piece of baggage, or something apart from us lurking in the background. It’s innate to human nature.

  • Baronius

    Silas – Christianity has always considered itself to be monotheistic. Credo in unum deum.

  • I haven’t said “apart,” Baronius, but within us. Therefore, always luring in the background, especially since it is, as you say, “innate to human nature.”

    In short, it’s embedded in our evil, evil heart!

  • Bar,

    Okay, so in other words, would this be similar? We will always have the potential to do wrong and do harm. Sometimes accidentally and sometimes not. We can’t eliminate that from what we are.

    If that is close, I wouldn’t quibble. I don’t see evil as a force. So, if someone did, I would have to disagree with them.

    Are we actually inclined to do wrong? That, I think, is your speculation or something you take on faith. Because sometimes we are inclined to do wrong, and sometimes we are inclined to do right. To say we are one and not the other is a discount, I think. To say that we choose (or seem to choose) wrong more often works better for me as it doesn’t discount the other possibility.

  • Roger, I am responding to the thread backwards. Hopefully, we’ll move forward. First, I have to go and read what you and Mark are talking about on the previous page.

  • And Baronius.

    You still haven’t answered the question I put to you: What precisely do you mean that “culturally, we must try to improve the world.”

    So what exactly do you mean by that? What should our stance be? To combat what we deem as unlawful exercise of power and privilege or go along with the flow, in full obedience to the state and powers that be because they’re the representatives of God and his authority on this lousy earth?

    And what about fighting darkness with light? Don’t we have the obligation?

    Didn’t Christ expel the money lenders from the temple for unseemly practices and for defiling a place of prayer? Didn’t Catholic Church “outlaw” usury because it deemed it as detrimental to our health?

    So how can we claim that all charity must begin at home and start and end with individual persons and their kind, charitable hearts, and that the State has no business trying to remedy the obvious injustices while the Catholic Church took precisely the opposite position?

    Or perhaps, as you might ably argue, it had done so merely out of appeal to the goodness of human heart?

    Given that the human heart, according to the Catholic dogma, is inherently evil, it would appear that the injunction was intended as something more and infinitely more stronger than mere appeal. It was, to say the least, a downright condemnation. And what if the Catholic Church had the requisite powers to implement its edicts? What then?

  • No problem.

    Also read my comment in the “Bye-bye . . .”

  • Dr.D,

    Chavez, shmavez.

    (Not as spectacularly fruitful a response as you hoped for, but at least it’s something.)

  • Dreadful was merely trying to lighten the mood in light of the impending confrontation. Editor’s job.

    But he did say it was the most fecund site.

  • Mark,

    If you come back here today. I’m hoping you can help me with a recommendation. I sent you an e-mail. I need a suggestion today though, if you have one. TIA

  • I’m as much of a monotheist as you are.

    No, you are not. You worship Jesus as though he were a god. He was just a man, and like hundreds of thousands of other Jews, he was nailed up to a cross to die – if he even existed. Your attempts to make him into a divine garbage pail for your sins are more pious fraud than anything else, and eating the guys “blood and body” at mass smacks of cannibalism. Daily deicide to keep yourselves holy. All you need now are the magic underwear of Mormons and you’re all set to go in a world of blood sacrifice and idolatry.

    So, that’s two gods; then there is what amounts to worshiping Jesus’ mother, Mary, as a god. That’s three gods. Then there’s that saint’s calendar.

    But don’t get me wrong. I’m not calling you a blasphemer. I’m telling you that what you believe is blasphemy to me or any Muslim. There is a difference. One’s fightin’ words. The other is a description of my beliefs and how yours stack up to mine in my eyes.

    I’ve never had to define evil before

    I notice that you can’t seem to define evil. Why is it so easy for me to see what you cannot? Evil is exploitation; evil is doing what is easy instead of what is right.

    And why am I not surprised that a Christian cannot define evil easily? Maybe that tri-furcated set of gods you worship are making your vision unclear?

  • And now it is time for this Jew-boy to get some sleep….

    adón olám asher malákh b’térem kol ashér nivrá….

  • Irene Wagner

    I was just talking to Ruvy on another thread about Sephira and he didn’t even see it.

  • Irene Wagner

    Silas, if evil is the absence of good, and we’re not as good as God, then one who is not as good as God is at least partly evil, even if it is in the matter of doing “good” without purity of motive. The Christian doctrine of “original sin” has more to do with a person’s holiness and purity in comparison to God’s holiness and purity than it has to do with an individual’s goodness with respect to everyone else’s.

    That doesn’t keep me in bondage to any church, Silas. It keeps me depending on Christ. I don’t have to have anyone tell me I was born with original sin to know what I am sometimes. And I don’t know if there’s anyone here who would say anything different about themselves, if they were honest.

    As to whether we got that way because we began picking up the world’s evil ways as soon as we were born, or were born with them, is hard to tell.

    I’m not even sure it matters.

  • I like your definition, Ruvy. It’s hitting the nail on the head.

    One could go further, of course, and say that evil is anything that’s short of righteousness. Now, that’s some kind of life to live up to.

  • But even the denizens of heaven, Irene, fall short of the glory of God.

  • Irene Wagner

    So did Lucifer, even before he became so…Luciferean. HIS problem is that he couldn’t accept that he fell short of it.

    Are you thinking glory means the same as holiness, then Roger? (Because they aren’t) Or am I not seeing where you’re going with this? Speaking of which, I have about 10 more min to chat, then I have to go. But it ought to be fun til then.

  • Irene Wagner

    Bad grammar is abounding. I’m sorry.

  • So perhaps the concept of evil – as a comparative concept – is less useful here. But we can speak of righteousness, and falling short of righteousness.

  • Especially of “righteousness by faith,” rather than in the Old Testament sense.

  • STM

    Bad grammar is abounding.

    It abounds too.

  • Irene Wagner


  • Irene Wagner

    And it’s all my fault, at least on THIS thread. LOL Roger, see you later.

  • As long it’s logos, it doesn’t matter.

  • Same here.

  • Irene Wagner

    The yes was to #258, I hadn’t read #259.
    No to #259.
    Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. That’s off the top off my head. Not sure if “that ain’t Bible” as the Southerners would say.

  • Irene Wagner

    So before there’s any more bad grammar, possible heresy, and bad jokes on my part, (or I get some dubious distinction like Most Comments Made – lol) I’d better go.

  • Irene, I appreciate where you’re coming from. Let me explain from which point I try to witness. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but by me.” There are many theological debates centered around this one verse. In my mind, Jesus says He is the way to the Father but is less specific on whether He is the exclusive vehicle to the Father. I believe this is something conjured by humans to fit a certain prescription for imposing Christian beliefs upon the masses. I could be wrong. That being said, I think it is a matter of where one falls on the faith barometer. Is Jesus a conduit to the Living God? Yes, absolutely without doubt. Is He the exclusive conduit to the Father? No, I do not believe it is so. The basic message which Jesus teaches is based upon the Golden Rule. To me, that in and of itself is a message which each human should emulate.

    So, that’s two gods; then there is what amounts to worshiping Jesus’ mother, Mary, as a god. That’s three gods. Then there’s that saint’s calendar.

    In this respect I have to agree with Ruvy on his point about there being multiple Gods in Christianity. Like it or not, truth is that there are many “lesser” Gods in Catholicism. While the Church says it is not so, proof positive lies in novenas, adoration of saints and the adoration of the Blessed Mother. I admit, I do pray to Mary but do so in the spirit of the ancient Mother Azna. As with all things in nature, there must be a balance – a harmony of sorts, male/female, positive/negative, yin/yan. While I may refer to the Almighty as “He”, I believe that we are unable to fully grasp the God concept. Ernest S. Holes wrote The Science of Mind in 1926. I have referred back to the book many times in my life and find that his interpretation of the Divine and the power within are consistent with Jesus’ teachings more so than any Roman Catholic doctrine.

    But all this religious debate does not accomplish the task set forth by the author with regard to the Obama Presidency. Perhaps we can take this religious debate to another thread for a real proactive dialog devoid of drama.

  • I’m certain there are shades of “righteousness by faith” in OT, but there are also divergent meanings. In the NT, however, the concept is delineated with unmistakable clarity.

  • Let’s do, Silas. It is off topic.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy #250 –

    On the nature of God, not all those who claim to be Christian disagree with the Jews and the Muslims. In the Iglesia ni Cristo (“Church of Christ” in Tagalog), the Church of which I am a member, we believe that trinitarian doctrine (or any doctrine that deifies Christ) is blasphemy. We believe that only God is God…and there is a wealth of evidence in the Bible showing that Jesus cannot be God. Where our belief diverges from Judaism and Islam is that we believe that Jesus is His Son and that Jesus is our Savior.

    As far as I’ve personally been able to find, in Old Testament times, every nation and culture from the Indus to modern-day Italy worshiped a trinity in some form or another. Every nation and culture, that is, except for the Hebrews who NEVER changed their belief as to the nature of God.

    It is interesting to note that Herodotus states that the priests of Ba’al would keep chaste women overnight in the temples in case Ba’al should show up and decide to take his pleasure…and remember that Catholic nuns are supposed to be ‘married’ to the trinitarian ‘god’. Juxtapose that fact with the statement I found in the Catholic Encyclopedia under the heading of ‘Babylonia’, where it is stated that Ba’al (spelled ‘Bel’) was part of a “Trinity” (with a capital ‘T’). In my opinion, the modern trinitarianism of most of ‘mainstream Christianity’ has its roots in Ba’al worship.

    Yes, that’s very offensive to trinitarian ‘Christians’. But please bear in mind that I was raised with trinitarian beliefs, but when presented with such strong proofs against trinitarian belief, I could not risk my soul by remaining with the (essentially pagan) faith of my ancestors.

  • Baronius

    Silas – I agree that this thread has gone off-track by a mile, and I’m at least partly to blame (and I’m usually so good about this stuff!). I’ve got to take one more pass at Ruvy, then I’ll gladly let this go.

    Ruvy – In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the only-begotten Son of G-d. That’s what we believe. That’s not worshipping Jesus as if he were a god, that’s worshipping him as G-d, one in being with the Father, in union with the Holy Spirit. We don’t consider Jesus to be a junior god, and we don’t consider Mary and the saints as junior gods either. What I believe is a very different blasphemy than polytheism.

  • What I don’t get is why the Dems are going for the big trophy of the public option so quickly. Wouldn’t a series of successful Medicare reforms build the popular support necessary for an effectively implemented “public option” in U.S. health care? Why the do or die scenario?

  • Good morning! The sun has arisen on the Samarian hills – a new day. Looking over the 20 odd comments that have accrued since I last posted here, let me take first things first.

    This: adón olám asher malákh b’térem kol ashér nivrá…. was WRONG. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN adón olám ashér malákh, b’térem kol yetzír nivrá…. Since it is a prayer to G-d, that must come before all else. Only a Hebrew speaker who knew the prayer would have caught that – I was tired and missed a word, inserting the word ashér (that which) in place of yetzír (creation). It couldn’t have been that big an issue. But G-d does listen to all of our prayers.

  • jim

    What fucking world do you all live in? Obama is fucking godsend after the 8 year complete fucking disaster of Bush/Cheney and Republican controlled congress That why were in power know, because all of you proved how fucking stupid and incompetent your party and ideology is in the real world. All of you should shut the fuck up and learn what patriotism is actually about besides protecting your pennies from the tax man. Fucking idiots.

  • Don’t hold back, Jim. Tell us what you really think.

  • Baronius,

    I missed communicating with Irene because I was busy writing comment #250 to you.

    In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with G-d, and the Word was G-d. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the only-begotten Son of G-d. That’s what we believe.

    I know what you say you believe. Just as you have a good handle on how I define my beliefs, I have a good handle on how you define yours. But Silas, who was raised Catholic, and Glenn Contrarion, who was raised to believe in a tri-furcated divinity, both picked up the basic dishonesty in that description.

    I’m not calling you a liar – you are a believer in the Catholic faith as it describes itself. But others, Catholics included, can see the basic dishonesty in that self-description.

    It is not my place to tell you what to believe, or how to believe. That is the worst kind of arrogance and hypocrisy. But I can tell you that in my ears, the Catholic Church’s description of itself rings false – southerners might call it a “banjo note”.

    Your argument is not with me. To me, Jesus, if he indeed even lived, was just one more of hundreds of thousands of Jews nailed up on a cross to die by Roman savages – in his case for rebellion. Your argument is with Silas and Glenn, who both view Jesus as a teacher.

  • Jim, Jim, lama sabachthani? Sarah Palin would have been a Godsend after 8 years of Bush/Cheney. The current Democrat controlled Congress is no better than when under the GOP domination. The entire Congress is riddled with corruption, greed and a disconnect with the rest of the country. Deal with it, your precious Democrats are equally to blame for the mess we’re in. The entire financial collapse ain’t on Bush/Cheney, it’s Bill Clinton’s to own.

  • Indeed, the Democratic-Republican division is our grand illusion.

  • Jim, Jim, lama sabachthani?


    Somewhere in the Book of Psalms, you get the real thing from the man who originated the lines in the Hebrew, King David.

    elí, elí! láma azavtáni?!!

    The line you quote is Aramaic, and is the dying cry of a man quoting the Psalms in his native tongue.

    As for your congress, you elected the critters. Now pray that the next election (if there is one) will be “free and fair”, so you can trade one illusion (Demopublicans) for another (Republocrats).

  • Ruvy, two things: 1)I inserted the line because I knew you’d catch on quickly as to how I was approaching the young opined. 2)I’ve read a couple of stories today about the organ harvesting that went on in Israel in the 90’s. Care to give us your take on the matter?

  • You still haven’t answered the question I put to you: What precisely do you mean that “culturally, we must try to improve the world.”

    Cultural Imperialism! Yes, you are now qualified to join the CFR. I’ll be sending Pablo around to stand outside your window and scream slogans.


  • Finally, we get to Glenn Contrarion, who cannot admit that this president is a disaster for you Americans.

    He endlessly quotes how Roosevelt used deficit spending to fight the depression, how Kennedy used deficit spending to fight a recession, and how Reagan did the same.

    Then he endlessly recites the mantra “employment is a lagging indicator” to excuse the fact that the money pumped into favored firms under Obama is “producing a jobless recovery”. And now he talks about how “half a loaf is better than none” referring to what is being labeled a “health care reform” bill in your country.

    Nu? What else would you expect from a guy who regards things in the light of “liberal vs. conservative”, and who calls himself a “liberal”?

    Let’s take these one by one.

    Roosevelt never got America out of the Depression. What he did was to spread enough money and hope around to stop an armed revolution.

    It was production – in Roosevelt’s case, the rearming of the States to fight a world war – that pulled the American economy out of the Depression. In Kennedy’s case, again, it was production that pulled America out of a recession, and once more, in Reagan’s case, it was production, the computer revolution, that pulled America out of the recession.

    You do not spend your way out of a recession, you produce your way out.

    This is the basic point that Glenn misses each time. At this point, all that appears to be going on is that America is losing its productive capacity, and is hobbled by another bitter fact. America in 2009 is a debtor nation. In 1933, 1961, and even in 1981, America was still a creditor nation. Which means, among other things, it still had credit. It spent up the last of that credit under Bush Jr., and suffered an economic collapse engineered by the boys on Wall Street over the last 25 years or so.

    Obama is throwing worthless currency – in other words, nothing – at a problem of having nothing to spend. And now, he is pushing the debt limits of the American government past any reasonable limit, so he can throw more of nothing – the American dollar – and “take over” more of the American economy.

    For years the American economy, like the fictional village of Tzakhanovka, hung from nothing. In September of 2008, nothing began to give way. It’s still giving way, as the vast ship of the American economy hits an iceberg and is sinking. Between the albatross of the money drawn out of the economy by whatever bullshit is finally agreed to in Köbnhavn, and whatever is drained from it by the budget just passed, the American economy should sink even faster.

    The more one “Lifts the Curtain” to see the future – what Yeats called “Spiritus Mundi” – the more one desires to crawl under the cover and not see “what rough beast lurches toward Bethlehem to be born”.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Clavos


  • Aksimet rejected my answer Silas. Now, I’m pissed off – really pissed off. Now I work on articles – both on the shit that the régime is pulling here but also on this bastard Yehuda Hiss.

  • #281,

    Please spare me, Dave. My life will no longer be the same.

  • Baronius

    Ruvy, I’m not arguing, just clarifying to you what I believe. It seems my comments fell on deaf ears. Silas and I have talked about religion a few times, and I think we both understand where the other one is coming from. I don’t read Glenn.

  • Clav? The ceiling in your boat is too low?

  • Clavos

    Yeah, Cindy. Probably because it was built in Taiwan…

  • Without truly people-chosen (not political party-chosen) representation in government to ensure honest information in our education and mass media, our best efforts – our green and environmental movements – our citizens referendums – will always be directed by planned misinformation and manipulation.

    So let’s stop feeling sorry for ourselves and realize that it is we, the people, who have both the NEED and the ABILITY to solve our problems. To do this we need to make a ‘quantum leap’ in goodwill to the service of future generations.

    Let us think not just “what I can do for me” but “what I can do for future generations”. Let us take on a true human generosity.

    It may well be too late for us (who will make decisions in this century) to be wise in many things, but we can be wise in one thing: we can be wise in having the generosity to provide following generations with a platform for true enlightenment and justice.

    Corruption spreads down from the top. To return to a more just – more human – society, we have to reverse the process. A true regeneration of conscience must come from the grass-roots level of society to spread out and permeate upwards.

    American voters have gained political power in the last 50 years, they have become increasingly ignorant of politics and world affairs”and dangerously susceptible to manipulation. The book provides a litany of depressing statistics”most Americans cannot name their representatives in Congress, only 20% hold a passport, 30% cannot identify the Holocaust”
    Americans are capable of voting in the nation’s or even their own best interests……………………………….



  • You are a different Cindy, Cindy, but you spoke with apparently the same voice.

    Now it’s going to be difficult to tell you apart.

  • You didn’t seem to have much trouble, Roger. 😉

  • Well, to tell the truth, I had to open the URL. In addition, she didn’t use the html format for links.

    But what do you think of her post?

  • I mean, the original post did not. The editors have corrected it by now.

  • It’s hard to tell, as we all have different pictures in mind when using similar words. But…I’d say we might have a similar outlook.

    One of us seems to see that power at the top is bad and needs to be exercised at the bottom. Yet she also seems to hold out that this the structur–govt–can be used that way. She’s seems to be trying to make the correction by injecting bottom people into the top while maintaining the current system of government.

    The other of us thinks that taking people from the bottom and injecting them into the system won’t work. The govt is designed especially for top-down control. It’s the wrong set-up for grassroots power. Any ‘regular’ people injected into it will become much like the people who are there now. Govt is designed to prevent just that very thing–real power being in the hands of the ordinary people.

  • You’re right there – “real power being in the hands of the ordinary people.”

    That actually is the enlightened reading of Foucault – we’ll get into it later – about the true nature of effective resistance. And it has got to do more with each individual’s transformation than anything else.

    You’re right to about “plugging the right people into the structure” is not really a solution – because no matter what you do, the structure is still there. But we can all undermine it and resist it in creative and experimental ways so as to make it not as dominant as it would appear. Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience comes to mind. It’s one effective way to dispel the spell of power.

    In short, the point really is that true politics always starts and ends with the individual. And it goes for both personal and social relations. But as I said, we’ll discuss this later.