Friday, December 21, 2012

Gingrich says conservatives should support same sex marriage for the votes

Okay, he didn't say that *exactly* but he is reported saying:

Gingrich said the GOP will need to accept that same sex marriage “is in every family, it is in every community,” and that Americans in increasing numbers find no issue with allowing it — as proven by voters on election day.

"The momentum is clearly now in the direction in finding some way to... accommodate and deal with reality,” he said. “And the reality is going to be that in a number of American states — and it will be more after 2014 — gay relationships will be legal, period.”
Read the rest here.

Basically, I understand Gingrich to be saying conservatives will need to accept same sex marriage just because everyone else is? Does he mean to say the GOP needs to support same sex marriage in order to win "the game"? I don't understand why politicians look at political office as a game. It's as if Gingrich said, "Guys. Look. We have to support this so we can win a round or two. If we don't support same sex marriage then we'll never win! We can't let that happen." Instead of seeing political office as preserving the protection of natural rights and holding or changing the structure of society it seems that some see it as a game. Now, they wouldn't be bold enough to say that it's a game and they're truly just looking to win and only win instead of being statesmen, but I think statements like what Gingrich reportedly said and others make good evidence for supporting my view that guys who say stuff like this just see politics as a game. 

Regardless of the pros and cons of same sex marriage I think it's weak to support a position purely for the sake of winning. I would rather see a party stand for their principles and take a loss instead of supporting something only for a possible win. It's my opinion that if the GOP did "come out" (pun intended) in support of same sex marriage as a party that it wouldn't do much. It would just drive home the already established opinion that such a GOP wouldn't be *that* much different from the Dem party. I find it hard to believe that the GOP would attract many more voters than they already have. It seems in my opinion that if they do take this move then they will lose a lot of support and gain very little from this move. Again though, I go back to my original point that to support something for the sake of winning is not virtuous, it's wrong. It's just wrong. Supporting something because you truly believe in it is respectable. Even if I disagree with your position, at least I respect you for supporting something you believe in instead of just trying to win a game. We can discuss the rightness and wrongness of the view and still have respect for one another because we hold to a view for pure reasons instead of dishonest reasons.

Would any same sex marriage advocate respect the GOP for supporting same sex marriage purely on the ground to win, oh I apologize I mean purely on the ground to keep up with the times? I don't think so. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but I find it difficult to believe same sex marriage supporters would respect the GOP for taking this position just because "everyone else is doing it." It's weak in my view. The GOP should stand for it's principles and if it fails as a party then some other party will rise up and GOP supporters and the GOP itself will at least go down standing for what it believes in instead of going down (because it would) dishonest, fake, and as cowards.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

C.S. Lewis on Collectivism

"The first of these tendencies is the growing exaltation of the collective and the growing indifference to persons. . . . if one were inventing a language for "sinless beings who loved their neighbours as themselves" it would be appropriate to have no words for "my", "I", and "other personal pronouns and inflexions". In other words . . . no difference between two opposite solutions of the problem of selfishness: between love (which is a relation between persons) and the abolition of persons. Nothing but a Thou can love and a Thou can exist only for an I. A society in which no one was conscious of himself as a person over against other persons, where none could say "I love you", would, indeed, be free from selfishness, but not through love. It would be "unselfish" as a bucket of water is unselfish. . . . [In such a case] the individual does not matter. And therefore when we really get going . . . it will not matter what you do to an individual.

Secondly, we have the emergence of "the Party" in the modern sense -- the Fascists, Nazis, or Communists. What distinguishes this from the political parties of the nineteenth century is the belief of its members that they are not merely trying to carry out a programme, but are obeying an important force: that Nature, or Evolution, or the Dialectic, or the Race, is carrying them on. This tends to be accompanied by two beliefs . . . the belief that the process which the Party embodies is inevitable, and the belief that the forwarding of this process is the supreme duty and abrogates all ordinary moral laws. In this state of mind men can become devil-worshippers in the sense that they can now honour, as well as obey, their own vices. All men at times obey their vices: but it is when cruelty, envy, and lust of power appear as the commands of a great superpersonal force that they can be exercised with self-approval." 1

"The question has become whether we can discover any way of submitting to the worldwide paternalism of a technocracy without losing all personal privacy and independence. Is there any possibility of getting the super Welfare State's honey and avoiding the sting? Let us make no mistake about the sting. . . . To live his life in his own way, to call his house his castle, to enjoy the fruits of his own labour, to educate his children as his conscience directs, to save for their prosperity after his death -- these are wishes deeply ingrained in civilized man"

1. C.S. Lewis, On Stories and Other Essays on Literature, 78-79, 2002
2. C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, 316, 1970

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Teachers on Life - Wisdom from Mom

DISCLAIMER: I do not own this story. This post has been copied and pasted with permission from a friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. I asked him if he had a story to share for my 'teachers on life' posts. This is his writing not mine. Any comments to this post will be forwarded to him and he will respond if you want him to. 

One summer when I was probably 3 or 4 years old, my mom and grandmother took me and my younger sister to Beech Bend amusement park in Bowling Green. My grandmother was always prepared like a Boy Scout for trips like this, and this was no exception; she came to the car with large "sippy cups" filled with ice water for me and my sister. I don't remember beans about the drive down or the day at the amusement park except that it was really hot, and by the time we got back to the car, I was sweating and tired. Using all the critical thinking skills typically exhibited by an exhausted preschool-age kid, I got in the car and grabbed the sippy cup - which had been sitting in the car all day - taking a huge gulp to slake my thirst. As you can imagine, water that has been sitting in an uninsulated plastic sippy cup in a 100+ degree car all day is somewhat less than refreshing, and my reaction was about what you'd expect, except I managed to choke it down rather than spew it all over the back seat.

An amusing anecdote became a life lesson with what my mom - a youth Sunday school teacher - said next. "You know how badly you just wanted to spit out that lukewarm water?" she asked.

"Uh huh."

"The Bible says that's how God feels about a lukewarm Christian," she said, alluding to Revelation 3:15-16 ("I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.")

Now, besides providing an illustration of a biblical concept that even a 4-year-old can clearly understand, this taught me an even more important lesson about teaching your kids biblical principles. Not only do I think about this incident pretty much every time I read Revelation 3:15-16 - even though it happened almost 30 years ago - I also think about it every time I read Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ("And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.") This is an admonition not to just talk about "church stuff" at church, but to integrate "church stuff" into your daily life so your kids can learn it 7 days a week. My mom had (and still has) the wisdom to do this. She didn't think "Oh, he's so little he won't understand." And you know what? She was right. Not only did I understand, I haven't ever forgotten it. Now, as the father of a 2-year-old little girl, I hope I can demonstrate this same wisdom as a parent.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Teachers on Life - Boy Meets World

Boy Meets World and Doug, but mostly Boy Meets World

I once read on a friend's "about me" section of his Facebook profile that everything he has learned about life he learned from Boy Meets World. Me too. In my pre-teen and teen years I learned a lot about daily life from Doug and BMW. I learned about dating, heartache, family, friends; a lot about the daily stuff that other shows wouldn't talk about because those shows were too worried about romanticizing sex, glamor, partying, and gossip. Not Doug, but BMW dealt with hard stuff particularly from Shawn's character, showing that yes, while life is hard and full of crap sometimes, close friends and family can give you a hand up out of the situation if you let them. BMW also promoted a pure, monogamous love between Cory and Topanga which was rare at the time. They could have easily made the characters give in to their passions, but Jacobs and the writers didn't. Cory and Topanga were virgins on their wedding day, which was beautiful. The viewer saw in Cory and Topanga's romantic life what abstaining from sex before marriage does to two lovers: you learn a lot about the other person for who he or she is instead of what he or she can *do* to you; you go beyond the physical and into the soul. Some may argue that a sexual relationship can do the same, however I'm not convinced of that. Even when I wasn't a Christian I didn't think sex before marriage was a good idea because sex outside of marriage complicates things a great deal. Anyway, I think Cory and Topanga are a good picture of love. If you watched the show all the way through you see that their love had very rocky moments, which shows that the life of lovers isn't perfect and that love will endure if the lovers continue in it.

BMW has a lot to say on life and it's mostly good. The Father wasn't stupid, which was nice. He was funny, but also smart, helpful, strong and loving. The same with the Mother. She was smart, funny, loving, but she wasn't a man-hater and that was nice to see. Cory's parents were excellent parents: they loved each other, their kids; they were a family team.

BMW is a good picture of what a family can be if they are virtuous. If they encourage each other, support each other, are honest with each other, and if they have fun together; you know, loving each other. Life isn't perfect and the family and friends on BMW had problems (remember Cory getting mad at his dad on his 16th birthday? Or when Cory thought his mom didn't want him and Topanga together?), but they worked them out together without developing hate, animosity, playing victim, and all of the other junk that happens in families who give in to their vices.

Some might say the BMW family and friends are a romantic idea of a perfect family; that Jacobs and the writers are Utopian thinkers trying to get people to be something they aren't.


If television shows only give us pictures of people giving in to their passions because that is what comes "natural," of people doing their daily routine and never going "beyond" then people will never grow past giving into their passions and their daily routine. If we see people living, in what we would call extreme I guess, then that rattles the ol' mind to live differently, to live virtuously, and to do things we ordinarily wouldn't do like not giving in to our passions and doing what is comfortable. BMW is arguably a picture of Aristotelian morality: strive to live like these people or even better than these people. In my opinion, BMW creators didn't want to tell you abstractly how to live by giving you commandments, instead they showed you through drama what love between family and friends looks like.

Honorable Mentions: Full House and Family Matters

Can God Ground Moral Truths?

The new question over at Reasonable Faith

"Dear Dr. Craig, there have been a lot questions recently asked about grounding the existence of morality in God, and I have one as well. The Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne rejects the Moral Argument for God because, he thinks, moral truths are necessarily true, and so the existence of God cannot have an effect on their truth."

He then goes on to explain succinctly Swinburne's argument then asks Craig how he would respond to the argument. Read Craig's response here. Swinburne, a Christian, argues that moral truths are necessarily true and so God isn't needed for moral truths. This is odd to me. I am to think that moral truths are necessarily true without having their root in a personal being who exists necessarily?

Does it make sense that objective moral values just exist? Let's go ahead and cede to that for the moment. Okay. Objective moral values just exist. What does that mean for me as an individual? I'm an advanced primate. I'm experiencing the world around me. Do I encounter patience? Do I encounter justice? What tool do I use to mine for these values? Do I sense an oughtness or shouldness to follow these values if I do encounter them? I don't think so. On naturalism, if objective moral values exist it would be non-natural, that is abstract, and I have no reason to believe that we could know of them or should know them, i.e. that we would have an oughtness to know them as we do today. On naturalism I find it hard to believe that these unexplainable objective moral values existed unchanging during the whole process of evolution, not dependent on anything for their survival and somehow man became aware of these moral values and found out what they are? If naturalistic evolution is true and objective moral values do indeed "just exist" I find it very hard to believe that man would evolve in that perfect way as to be able to know what those moral values are. Given that scenario, it's as if the moral realm "knew" that just such a man was coming. It's as if man was rigged to know the moral realm, care about it, and follow its values; like there was a design or something. Strange. Of course, a non-natural moral realm cannot be personal because it's impersonal. In order for man to know about such abstract objects, it would have be personal. The theist is in a fine position to say that if God exists, then as a personal being He could choose to let man know of His existence by divine revelation (written word) and/or by letting his existence be known via reason (nature). God is personal therefore knowable, whereas non-natural moral values/a moral realm is impersonal therefore unknowable. 

Read Craig's response here

Read my post "Do Objective Moral Values Just Exist?"

Quote of the Week - C.S. Lewis on Belief

"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose that you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it? ... Only a real risk tests the reality of a belief."

- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed, 1961 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Teachers on Life - Master Splinter

We all have life teachers don't we? I don't mean academic teachers either, though they do play a part in teaching us, instead I mean those who influence us in the 'big' ways particularly in three areas: God, man, and society. Even if you're a non-theist, God is still an important category in life's big questions because you have an opinion on the existence of God or gods and how it affects the other two categories man and society. People teach you everyday about these the big three either directly or indirectly. You learn about them from your family, friends, magazines, books, music, and television (television, arguably, is the most influential - arguably). You might think these are just "ideas," that they don't really matter in your daily life and are only important to "thinkers" who sit in a room all day surrounded by books and have time to think about such unimportant things. Maybe you're correct. Maybe. What if I'm correct though in my saying your opinion on God, man, and society plays a huge part in the drama of your life? Lets back up though and talk about life teachers. Your life teachers play a huge part in your life too. These people help you shape the world around you whether you like it or not, for better or for worse, giving you pieces of your puzzle on reality. I've had numerous teachers in my life. Some of them may make you laugh even.

Master Splinter
Right off you're probably thinking this is a dumb blog post. Is the author of this post seriously posting that Master Splinter taught him some things on life? Yes he is. When I thought about writing this post, I wanted to go back as far as I can remember on big life thoughts and Splinter came to mind almost instantly. I was 6 or 7 when I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the movie. The good one. It was dark, deep, and had action in it, unlike the second and third movies. Well, there is a huge life lesson in the movie about family bonds and virtuous living as opposed to a life of vice; the big, big, moment for me was the talk between Splinter and Raphael on anger. It was brilliant. Splinter taught me a lot about how anger clouds the mind and also on relying on family for getting through a difficult struggle. Watch it. Not only is it a good scene for learning, but it's also a rich scene for displaying the love of a father toward his son.

Are Government Welfare Programs Virtuous?

I've been wanting to put this in a post for a long time. You know how that goes, don't you? Things like this are put on the shelf in your mind for a while. They are "important" to you, but not enough to take the time right at that moment and do it are they? I have a lot of things on the mental shelf. Well, I'm taking this one off the shelf and actually getting it in a post. Yay me.

A typical question that is asked of me in conversations about government spending and welfare is "what's wrong with government programs that help people?" or "what is wrong with government welfare? doesn't it help people?" Those are typical questions. Maybe they're real questions, certainly it depends on the person asking, but usually it's a question masked as a spear to give my position a deathblow. I don't think it's a spear that gives a deathblow though. If it is even a spear it's a Lilliputian spear at best. Even so, it's an attack to make me look immoral or less moral than the person advocating government welfare.
Let's frame it. Person asks "how can you be against government programs? The govt is simply there to help people." How do I answer this? I give an answer that is actually quite long. I won't lie, it's lengthy, but a lot of ground must be covered. My answer is not totally original I have to admit. I constructed my answer with tools from Dinesh D'Souza. He had a debate with Michael Shermer on the existence of God and someone asked D'Souza a question in the Q and A section of the debate on morality and welfare. I thought his answer was really good, so good in fact, that I used some of it to make my argument better. It's not perfect at all, but I think it's a good argument against those who think conservatives and libertarians are immoral for opposing government welfare.

"how can you be against government programs? The govt is simply there to help people."
Okay, but which people? With whose money? With whose consent? And with what result? It's one thing for the government to help those who are truly needy: people who are poor, without self-reliance or reliance on family and friends. It's totally different for the government to take resources from one "middle-class" (I cringe to use that word) family to another "middle-class family." Examples: government builds a mass-transit system. People who drive cars must pay for the transportation tastes of those who prefer to take the subway. Another redistribution example is when the government funds the National Endowment of the Arts. I have to pay for those who wish to admire a portrait of a man's genitals? That is wrong. Typically these programs do not promote common welfare or public good, or the "Great Society" if you are a LBJ fan. What is a great society? Think about John Locke. On his view, we, i.e. society, enter into a social contract with each other and place ourselves under a government to protect ourselves from foreign and local thugs, and to protect our natural rights of life, liberty and property. Why would we want to join a society that seizes our resources without our consent and bestow them on other people? Government does have an important role to play I think. What is that role? To protect us from foreign and local thugs, protect our liberty, property, and help to those who are truly needy (those who can't help themselves, can't rely on family or friends). We shouldn't be embarrassed of that. Some people do not have family and friends to rely on. What's worse is that some people can't rely on a local private charity to give them a hand-up out of the abyss of true poverty. The problem with government aid though is that government doesn't have a "bottom line." There's no clear criteria for whether a program is working. In the private sector, there is a bottom line and it's easy to tell if a program is working or not working.

Also, there's the problem of coercion. Social Security is a good example here. What if I don't want to pay social security taxes? What if I want to rely on my own investments for my retirement? How would the government respond to this? They would respond by punishing me. I don't pay the fines. They show up to my door, threatening me and such. It could get ugly quickly. The government has the power of coercion. The private sector doesn't. The parking meter attendant, IRS, immigrant offical - these people have more power over me than the CEO of McDonalds or GE. Coercion is the nature of government, which if thought out shows that the government helping people is not a moral thing at all. It's actually immoral. I'll give you an example. I'm driving down the road. I notice some people on the sidewalk asking for money. I go to the local Kroger, buy non perishable groceries for the group of people on the sidewalk. I give them the groceries, they take them and hearts are warmed. They can't repay me because they don't know me and have no way of getting in contact with me. Maybe they will help someone else when they have the chance. What do we have here? A moral action. Selflessness. What happens if government gets involved? The government takes my groceries from me by force. The government then hands the groceries over to the needy people. Instead of feeling gratitude, the people feel entitled to this benefit. The involvement of the state has stripped the transaction of its moral value even though the result is exactly the same. Replace government with a guy who had a gun to my head. Same thing. Same result. It's not just. It's not moral. It's coercion. It's vice, not virtue.

One more thing. Human nature is the same in the private and public spheres. Typically people think of the private sector as greedy, selfish, etc. The same kind of people who work in the private sector work in the public sphere also. Human nature doesn't change when it's moved from the private sector to the public sector. It's the same self-interest, just a different currency: power instead of money, or both. It's operating outside its sphere for effectiveness. We cannot even pay for the programs it currently has. It needs to be limited so it can focus on what it's supposed to do. When it stretches out past its proper functions it invades the domain of the citizens, undermining our freedom and responsibility thus neglecting the government's first principles which are to protect the natural rights of society.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quote of the Week - William Lane Craig on Moral Ontology vs Epistemology

The question that we are facing is not, “Do you have to believe in God in order to live a good and decent life?” That is not the question...The question is, “Why think that human beings have intrinsic moral worth?” The question that this argument is raising is simply this, “If God does not exist, do objective moral values and duties exist?” The question is not about the necessity of the belief in God, the question is about the necessity of the existence of God. We are not claiming belief in God is necessary for morality; we are claiming God is necessary for morality.

-William Lane Craig, Defenders Class

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Interesting Poll: More people believe in an afterlife than in God

Wintery Knight posted a poll from the Institute of Education at the University of London that shows, of those polled, more people believe in an afterlife than in God.


More people may believe in an afterlife than believe in God, according to a nation-wide survey of Britons born in 1970.
Almost half – 49 per cent – of those surveyed earlier this year by the Institute of Education, University of London believe that there is ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ life after death. Only 31 per cent have said that they believe in God, either without doubts (13 per cent) or with some doubts (18 per cent).

Read more.

Science: A New Religion?

The Devil's Advocate has written an excellent blog post on the new dogmatism of Science. Instead of being a tool it's much more like a religion, even though it rejects religion and philosophy (another problem DA points out in his post). He wrote, "Science, corrupted by mankind's hubris, is as dangerous as any other dogmatic doctrine that tells us what we *must* accept as valid and *must* reject as heresy.  This is an event horizon that science is rapidly approaching - and the time to realize that and find a better middle ground is now, before it is too late."

Read more here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Quote of the Week - Frederic Bastiat on Freedom and Legislators

"If the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to permit people to be free, how is it that the tendencies of these organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their appointed agents also belong to the human race? Or do they believe that they themselves are made of a finer clay than the rest of mankind?"

- Frédéric Bastiat

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quote of the Week - Karl Popper on Political Freedom

"...we do not choose political freedom because it promises us this or that. We choose it because it makes possible the only dignified form of human coexistence, the only form in which we can be fully responsible for ourselves. Whether we realize its possibilities depends on all kinds of things — and above all on ourselves."

Karl Popper, "On Freedom" (1958; 1967) essay republished in Alles Leben ist Problemlösen (1994); translated as All Life is Problem Solving by Patrick Camiller (1994)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quote of the Week - Jefferson on Power Over Others

"I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others."

- Thomas Jefferson, learn more about Jefferson here

Friday, November 16, 2012

Liberty Just Isn't Cool I Guess

* Welcome new readers! Just a note. This is mostly a rant. Check out the links below the post for more serious writing.

I've been hearing the crap flooding out of Republican politicians and talking heads about tax increases for "the rich" are okay, being against abortion in cases of rape and incest means you're a purist and how Romney's comments are stupid (just 10 days after the election they hate the guy now). I have some problems with establishment Republicans. By establishment, I mean the guys and gals who have been in there for years, have no regard for the constitution, and who know nothing of political philosophy. They're in "there" without a clue as to what they're supposed to be doing for the citizens of the U.S.

Problem numero uno. Tax Increases are cool now. For the rich that is.

Questions: who are the rich and how will raising taxes on the rich help our country? Who are the rich? Are small business owners now considered to have the wealth of Bill Gates or Vince McMahon? When did that happen? Oh right, 10 days after the election. So the guy down the road from me running a printing card business who makes around 250 to 300 thousand dollars a year (before paying his employees, taxes, etc.) is now economically recognized as a Vince McMahon?


So let's tax the heck out of him so he can fire the employees he has and put more folks out of work. That's the right thing to do. That's the way to reward business owners. That's just good old economics, right? How will this help our economic situation? How will taking more money from "the wealthy" get us off the volcano? I'm confused.

Problem numero dos. You're a purist if you're against abortion in cases of rape and incest.

Or maybe I just understand that human beings are objectively valuable and have inherent worth regardless of how that life came to be. I don't think ending a life because it reminds you of a traumatic experience is just or moral. Maybe I'm crazy. If everyone in the world thought that killing a human being because that human being came into existence due to rape or incest is just or moral that still wouldn't make the action just or moral. Things are not right or wrong because someone thinks it right or wrong.

I agree that Murdock and Akin need to take pro-life classes from Scott Klusendorf and/or Greg Koukl, boy do I agree with that, but just because the message they gave sucked doesn't mean they're stupid or their view is antiquated and needs to be aborted. It just means they're not very good at defending and proclaiming their view. They need lessons. They're not the only ones who need lessons by the way. Coulter (who called me, Akin, Murdock and others purists - we're purists now, which is fine by me, I'll wear that mantle) and others need to take lessons in critical thinking and philosophy so they can follow their arguments to their logical conclusions and, I don't know, actually think critically about what they're saying.

Problem number three (I'm done with the spanish thing). Liberty isn't cool anymore. 

Stop being a purist. It's not cool to be a purist. Saying no to tax increases and being against abortion in cases of rape and incest makes you a purist and purists just aren't cool man, they're just not cool, so get over yourself and be for tax increases and abortion for rape and incest situations. Who says that? The R party says that now. Popular talking heads on R blogs and television are saying that now. Ten days after the election conservative principles (which they don't know about really) are out and moderate anti-purist principles (can we call them principles? they don't know what they stand for) are in. Remember desktop computers? They went out. Remember the iPad 1? It's old news already. That's how some people treat their political philosophy. Liberty? Yeah, that's out. I like tyranny now. I like being told what kind of light bulb to use, what kind of toilet to use, and what kind of food to eat. That's cool/hip/rad/whatever.

It's sad when liberty isn't cool. When it's not "in." It's sad. It's sad that people take their liberty for granted and that some people treat elections like a game show or talent show. I heard people talking about candidates as if they were participating in "Dancing with the Stars" or "American Idol." These people don't realize that their votes affect our society. They don't recognize it because the affects have been slow. So slow it can be compared to the sloth. Even these changes have been slow, you have to realize they've been happening since the Wilson presidency.

Don't forget our natural rights. Don't forget what it means to have economic and civic freedom. Study the stuff. Read Locke. Read our founding documents. Listen to the Constitution 101 course from Hillsdale college. Learn our history.

Speaking of liberty, Rand Paul wrote an excellent piece on his father's legacy. Check it out here.

More stuff
The Consequences of Freedom
The Anchor of our Freedom
The Collectivist Monster

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quote of the Week - Alexis de Tocqueville on Revolution

We are sleeping on a volcano... A wind of revolution blows, the storm is on the horizon.

- Alexis de Tocqueville, Speaking in the Chamber of Deputies just prior to to outbreak of revolution in Europe (1848)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Quote of the Week - C.S. Lewis on Tyranny

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be "cured" against one's will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals."

From God in the Dock (1948)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The True Cost of Abortion

DISCLAIMER: The following viewpoints are not those of the blogger, but a friend of his. If this point of view upsets you, you may vent, but don’t yell at the person who posted them. Start a discussion, express and opinion, but don’t yell at the person who didn’t write it, that is just senseless… These writings are the intellectual property of me, the Author, with permission granted to the blogger who is positing them. They may not be reposted or used in any form without express written consent by either myself or the blogger of Reformed Seth.
The True Cost, and Sin, of Abortion:

As I sit here writing this article, I am drawn to how to present this in a manner that isn’t preaching, but showing fact, not about abortion being murder, or any of the Republican or Democrat talking points, but as to the real cost of abortion that has, and is, crippling this country.
Most will take this to be of a faith based nature, and as far as that goes, abortions are between those who have them, those who perform them, and God. I do not judge either way, but let’s look at what abortions have cost our country.

FDR had a great experiment with our country, and part of that was Social Security[1], a great ponzi scheme if you think about it. Each generation would pay for the generation before it. Sounds good, because abortion was not in the mainstream, and wasn’t something that good old ‘Progressive’ President worried about. We had a robust country, and with the growth potential, we could do anything, achieve greatness.
Then we run into Roe vs Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that gave women the right to ‘control their reproductive systems’ and get abortions when they wanted. Abortion on demand if you will accept the use of that term will always be a bad form of birth control.

So we now see that abortion has had dramatic financial effects on the United States. With all the ‘baby boomers’ set to retire, those who should have been paying into the system to keep it afloat, no longer exist. So, exactly how many abortions have been committed, legally, since Roe v Wade was passed? I have seen estimates ranging from 39 million to 54 million[2] which breaks out to 1,350,000 a year or 3699 a day. (Almost 1,600,000 dollars a day) THERE is one of the main reasons that abortion providers fight so hard to keep them legal. Planned Parenthood may be screaming that they aren’t making money providing the services for low wage income females who can’t afford the services, thus they get federal money. There is money in genocide, and it seems to pay well.[3](And contrary to the hype from the liberal left, Planned Parenthood DOES NOT do mammograms, they are not licensed to do so.)
Now let’s look at the societal effect of abortion, and to me, this is where it really hurts us a country. I used the term Genocide, and let me back that up. [Martin Luther King, Jr.] once said, “The Negro cannot win as long as he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his children for comfort and safety.” How can the “Dream” survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate. [4]

Even though we see where abortion rates have dropped for White and Black, markedly so, ‘Others’ as the next graph shows have dropped, but they were nowhere close to where Whites and Blacks were.[5]

So, some will say that all we have lost are some gangbangers, prostitutes, drug abusers, sellers, and the ‘dregs’ of society, but we have lost a human toll. Think about how many people who would have made a change in this country, undoubtedly abortion has cost us a couple of Presidents, members of Congress, Judges, Police Officers, Military Personnel, Firefighters, civil servants of all branches of local, state and federal government. We have also lost scientist, teachers, those who could really make a difference in our world. Some woman who decided that a child would screw up her life and had an abortion, she may have killed a child who would have found a way to make fuel out of algae or salt water. We may have lost an engineer who could have discovered ways to build bridges with a slower rate of decay, thus not needing to replace our infrastructure as fast as it should be done and maybe stronger for less.
Let’s talk for a second about the mental toll on women who have had the procedure for rape, or incest. This is a travesty of justice that also needs to be addressed. Yes, people are guaranteed the right to face their accusers in court, but why do we victimize those who are attacked whether by date rape, or molestation, or just a crime of opportunity? The damage done to their psychology is almost beyond repair, and then they face the trauma of going after the person who perpetrated this crime, as if they asked for it! Unless they are into S&M, or along that ilk, I doubt if it was asked for, yet these women who are brave enough to stand for their rights get shunned, and I cannot imagine the horror that runs through their minds for the rest of their lives. We need to change our laws to go after those who commit rape or incest, and bring it upon them, not their victims, as a very close friend of mine had been molested from 6 months to 12, when she found out it was wrong. All her father got was a warning to stay away from children, but no jail time. If congress can pass a flawed Lilly Ledbetter law, for a woman who sued a company that fired her for cause – 28 years AFTER she was fired, why congress can’t take care of this horror of our society is beyond me.

So, unlike a number of my Republican brethren and Christians on the right, I do feel that abortions are something that we need to stay out of. Yes, it seems we are waging a war on the productive rights of Sandra Fluke, who can afford her own birth control, and the press blew up something that didn’t exist to make a mockery out of health care. Should we fight for the rights of the unborn? Yes, but we need to do so offering condoms, counseling, care, friendship; not scorn or judgment. Only by changing the hearts and minds of those who see abortion as the only answer can we change our country, and put it back on a track of greatness, or, if you will, exceptionalism. We deserve it; we owe it to those who came before us, and those who will come after us.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Locke Was Right

"...Locke was simply right in one decisive aspect. Everybody, not just the rich, gets richer in a system of liberal economy. Gross inequalities of wealth persist or are encouraged by it, but the absolute material well-being of each is greatly enhanced. Rousseau, followed by Marx, taught that the inner logic of acquisition would concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer hands, completely dispossessing the poor and alienating them from the means of becoming prosperous. Locke's great selling point has proved to be true. Joining civil society for the sake of protection and comfort is a good investment.

One may continue to believe, as somber critics will do, that the way of life of such a society is repulsive and the motives for association are inadequate and corrupt. But that is not quite the same as the progressive impoverishment and enslavement of mankind at large. Most of all, the poor, the many, the masses - however they are now qualified - become supporters of "the system," out of crass self-interest, and that destroys the revolutionary movements. The humanness of life may be lessened, but that is not accompanied by starvation."

- Allan Bloom, Giants and Dwarfs (1990), pg. 221

Monday, October 29, 2012

Quote of the Week - William Lane Craig on the Self-Existence of God

"What we want to say on the basis of this material is that God is a self-existent being. That is to say, all of finite reality depends upon God for its creation, for its present existing, and for its future being. He brings it into existence, he sustains it in being, and it will remain in being so long as he sustains it and conserves it into the future. In other words, all of reality outside of God is shot through with a radical dependence. It is in existence only so long as God creates and sustains its existence. Were he to withdraw his creative power, the universe would be annihilated in a blink of an eye.
If God exists, then why does God exist? What is the cause of God? Once we understand the concept of God as a necessary being, then you can see that this is a question which is, if not meaningless, then at least obtuse. It is sort of asking, “Why is it that all bachelors are unmarried?” Nobody racks his brain trying to figure out why it is that every bachelor you meet is unmarried. Why? Because the very concept of a bachelor is that of an unmarried male. Similarly, the concept of God as the greatest conceivable being is that of a necessary being. Therefore, it is impossible for God not to exist. His non-existence is impossible. God had no beginning, he depends upon nothing, he cannot not exist. Therefore, the question, “Where did God come from?” or “Why does God exist?” simply shows that the person asking the question doesn’t understand the concept of a necessary, self-existent being."

William Lane Craig, Defenders Class, Doctrine of God part 2

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Obama Gets Praise From Collectivists

From Reuters

"CARACAS, Sept 30 (Reuters) - With both presidents facing tight re-election fights, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez gave a surprise endorsement to Barack Obama on Sunday - and said the U.S. leader no doubt felt the same.
"I hope this doesn't harm Obama, but if I was from the United States, I'd vote for Obama," the socialist Chavez said of a man he first reached out to in 2009 but to whom he has since generally been insulting.


"Obama is a good guy ... I think that if Obama was from Barlovento or some Caracas neighborhood, he'd vote for Chavez," the president told state TV, referring to a poor coastal town known for the African roots of its population.
Chavez is one of the world's most strident critics of Washington and his 14 years in office have been characterized by diplomatic spats and insults at the White House." 

From Fox News

"And Russian President Vladimir Putin -- who is back in Moscow's driver's seat after a stint as prime minister -- has said the reelection of Obama could improve political relations between the two countries.

He also reportedly called Obama a “genuine person" who "really wants to change much for the better."

Very interesting. This isn't splitting-the-atom kind of news, but it is interesting and worth knowing. Presidents like Thomas Jefferson, Coolidge, and Reagen doubtfully would have received praise, compliments, and endorsements from collectivists, don't you think? 

What is a collectivist? Socialism, fascism, and communism fall under the political philosophy of collectivism. The Encyclopedia Britannica succinctly describes collectivism as: "...any of several types of social organization in which the individual is seen as being subordinate to a social collectivity such as a state, a nation, a race, or a social class. Collectivism may be contrasted with individualism, in which the rights and interests of the individual are emphasized." and " such movements as socialism, communism, and fascism. The least collectivist of these is social democracy, which seeks to reduce the inequities of unrestrained capitalism by government regulation, redistribution of income, and varying degrees of planning and public ownership. In communist systems collectivism is carried to its furthest extreme, with a minimum of private ownership and a maximum of planned economy."

Collectivists don't like humans being unequal in their talents, abilities, size, and intelligence. They don't like that sports stars make a lot of money because they're talented in sports instead of working 40 plus hours a week in a cubicle for "the man." You hear them say stuff like "Is it fair that football players make as much as money as they do?" I ask, "Are you going to the games? Are you buying his merchandise? Is the stadium taking money out of your account to pay for the expenses?" I usually get a response like, "No! I hate football!" I then reply, "What's it to you then?"

They (collectivists) understand "all men created equal" to mean something like all men being equal materially, in their health, and outcome of happiness instead of all men being equal in their natural rights of life, liberty, and property. The latter means that all men are equal in the state of nature which is a philosophical term for man's natural state. Man in his natural state is free to do as he pleases. He is not subordinate to anyone or anything. He has a natural right to his life, his freedom, and his property. All men are equal in this way. We all have an equal opportunity to pursue our happiness. We are not naturally equal in talents, intellect, health, family, size; the list goes on.

We come together as a society and form a minimalist state to protect our natural rights from those who wish to steal our natural right to property, who wish to enslave us stripping us of our natural right to liberty, and those who wish to murder us thus taking away our natural right to life. The state formed by society to protect our natural rights does not do anything positive like guaranteeing us a job, health care, property, friends, and so on. Some detractors say health care is a protection of our natural right to life. To that I ask, "Well, if the founders meant health care is a protection of your natural right to life, then what about good food? Wouldn't you say good food prolongs your life? Isn't it a requirement for life? If the government must protect our natural right to life with health care I would think good food would be protection, right? What about a good house? Not just a good house, but a mansion like Bill Maher has. Wouldn't that make my life better and protect it more?" It's ridiculous to think so. Government is to punish murderers, thieves, and tyrants, not supply us with things we can get through reliance on our self, friends, and family for in our task of seeking good health.

In short, collectivists seek power in a monstrous state. They like power. They like being thought of as "good" and "for the people" even when their policies do nothing but create poverty, dependency, and minimize the individual. For all their claims of loving diversity, people not getting a fair shot, and so on, they do nothing short of leveling the field of diversity, killing the individual's talents and abilities, making a desert out of a lush, beautiful, diverse, and powerful field of individuals who create a good society. I think it's sad that our president believes in and pursues policies that are shaped and inspired by collectivist philosophy. To have a guy like Chavez say what he did about our President makes me sad. I encourage all politicians to study individualism. If those on the left would only take a look into it, they will see that individualistic policies can not only produce a good society, but also reach liberal goals of peace and social justice. 

The Collectivist Monster 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quote of the Week - John Locke on Tyranny

"Tis a Mistake to think this Fault [tyranny] is proper only to Monarchies; other Forms of Government are liable to it, as well as that. For where-ever the Power that is put in any hands for the Government of the People, and the Preservation of their Properties, is applied to other ends, and made use of to impoverish, harass, or subdue them to the Arbitrary and Irregular Commands of those that have it: There it presently becomes Tyranny, whether those that thus use it are one or many.”

- John Locke, The Works of John Locke, pg. 214

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quote of the Week - Kierkegaard on Love

Is it an excellence in your love that it can love only the extraordinary, the rare? If it were love’s merit to love the extraordinary, then God would be — if I dare say so — perplexed, for to Him the extraordinary does not exist at all. The merit of being able to love only the extraordinary is therefore more like an accusation, not against the extraordinary nor against love, but against the love which can love only the extraordinary. Perfection in the object is not perfection in the love. Erotic love is determined by the object; friendship is determined by the object; only love of one’s neighbor is determined by love. Therefore genuine love is recognizable by this, that its object is without any of the more definite qualifications of difference, which means that this love is recognizable only by love. 

- Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, 1847

Monday, October 8, 2012

Quote of the week - Robert Nozick on the Minimal State and Utopia

Our main conclusions about the state are that a minimal state, limited, to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on, is justified, but any more extensive state will violate persons' rights not to be forced to do certain things, and is unjustified; and that the minimal state is inspiring as well as right. 1  

Is not the minimal state, the framework for utopia, an inspiring vision? The minimal state treats us as inviolate individuals, who may not be used in certain ways by others as means or tools or instruments or resources; it treats us as persons having individual right with the dignity this constitutes. Treating us with respect by respecting our rights, it allows us, individually or with whom we please, to choose our life and to realize our ends and our conception of ourselves, insofar as we can, aided by the voluntary cooperation of other individuals possessing the same dignity. How dare any state or group of individuals do more? Or less?

1. Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State, and Utopia, 1974, Preface, p. ix
2. ibid. pg. 333 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Quote of the Week - Allan Bloom on Openness

"There are two kinds of openness, the openness of indifference—promoted with the twin purposes of humbling our intellectual pride and letting us be whatever we want to be, just as long as we don’t want to be knowers—and the openness that invites us to the quest for knowledge and certitude, for which history and the various cultures provide a brilliant array of examples for examination. This second kind of openness encourages the desire that animates and makes interesting every serious student—”I want to know what is good for me, what will make me happy”—while the former stunts that desire. Openness, as currently conceived, is a way of making surrender to whatever is most powerful, or worship of vulgar success, look principled. It is historicism’s ruse to remove all resistance to history, which in our day means public opinion, a day when public opinion already rules."

-Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, p. 41

Monday, September 24, 2012

Quote of the week - Ludwig Feuerbach on knowing God

A being without qualities is one which cannot become an object to the mind; and such a being is virtually non-existent. Where man deprives God of all qualities, God is no longer anything more to him than a negative being. To the truly religious man, God is not a being without qualities, because to him he is a positive, real being. The theory that God cannot be defined, and consequently cannot be known by man, is therefore the offspring of recent times, a product of modern unbelief. . . . On the ground that God is unknowable, man excuses himself to what is yet remaining of his religious conscience for his forgetfulness of God, his absorption in the world: he denies God practically by his conduct, – the world has possession of all his thoughts and inclinations, – but he does not deny him theoretically, he does not attack his existence; he lets that rest. But this existence does not affect or incommode him; it is a merely negative existence, an existence without existence, a self-contradictory existence, – a state of being, which, as to its effects, is not distinguishable from non-being. . . . The alleged religious horror of limiting God by positive predicates is only the irreligious wish to know nothing more of God, to banish God from the mind

- Ludwig Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, 1841

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Conversion to Atheism

Blogger Ichtus77 blogged on her personal story. Here is an excerpt:

"Before I became an atheist, I had grown up in church, a preacher’s kid who prayed to receive Christ when I was four. I never matured beyond the Sunday school understanding of avoiding the punishment of hell and gaining the reward of heaven.  There were lots of questions my parents did their best to answer, but many questions lingered after I got married and moved away from home.

When we bought a computer, I used it to witness in chat rooms and message boards, even met a few times in person with one of the people to whom I was witnessing.  In the process I discovered people have a lot of doubts about Christianity, and I added those doubts to my own.

I remember the night when the scales tipped and my doubts outweighed my faith – I had a nightmare that I rode in the passenger seat of a car speeding through a hilly stretch of road and could not make the driver slow down. I woke up terrified as the car launched off a cliff into the blackness of night.  The grounding of my faith gave way to an abyss of nothing.  It didn’t kill me, but it didn’t make me stronger, either.  The abyss provides no ground for meaningful strength." 

I like that she wrote, "The abyss provides no ground for meaningful strength." This reminded me of something Sartre wrote in Being and Nothingness: "Life has no meaning a priori … It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose." 1 There is no ground, no objective meaning for your life; there's only an illusion you build for yourself called value. 

You can read Ichtus77's full story here: The day I converted from atheism is approaching... 

If you want, check out the post Is Life Absurd Without God? 

1. Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, 1943

Monday, September 17, 2012

Quote of the Week - Nietzsche on Morality Without God

When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident: this point has to be exhibited again and again, despite the English flatheads. Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole: nothing necessary remains in one’s hands. Christianity presupposes that man does not know, cannot know, what is good for him, what evil: he believes in God, who alone knows it. Christian morality is a command; its origin is transcendent; it is beyond all criticism, all right to criticism; it has truth only if God has truth—it stands or falls with faith in God.

When the English actually believe that they know “intuitively” what is good and evil, when they therefore suppose that they no longer require Christianity as the guarantee of morality, we merely witness the effects of the dominion of the Christian value judgment and an expression of the strength and depth of this dominion: such that the origin of English morality has been forgotten, such that the very conditional character of its right to existence is no longer felt. For the English, morality is not yet a problem.

- Friedrich Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols,” The Portable Nietzsche, ed. and trans. Walter Kaufman (New York: Penguin Books, 1976), 515–16

Friday, September 14, 2012

Do objective moral values just exist?

Do objective moral values just exist? Are they just "out there" existing with no foundation? Is there a moral realm full of objective values? Is rape wrong because it just is? Is loyalty good because it just is? These are questions I intend to answer in this blog post. This is something I've been throwing around in my mind the past few weeks.

Philosophers have been doing moral philosophy for a long time, a very long time, without appealing to God or gods for the foundation. I understand Plato to have grounded his moral philosophy in what he called "forms" or "ideas." Plato thought our observable world to be a defect of the real thing, a flawed image of a most beautiful painting. He thought we can observe beautiful things here in our world, like a painting, and call it "beauty," but it's not true beauty. This is the crux of Plato's philosophy: how he distinguishes between observable beauty (continuing with the beauty example) and what beauty really is (the form or idea that is "out there") which is how the observable objects receive the quality of beauty. It's very interesting. So that's one way of grounding morality without appealing to God. What are some others? Well, there's the moral philosophy of the greatest outcome for the greatest number of people. There's another grounded in human flourishing, and another that says there is no ground that morality differs from person to person so it's all relative. The most interesting one is the thought that objective moral values are "just there." The philosopher or person who says that mercy is good because it just is or rape is wrong because it just is. I've never heard of or read a solid name for it, maybe atheistic moral realism would be a solid label for it, anyway the idea is in the previous sentence that these moral values are objective because they just are. How nice. 

What do we make of this? Does it make sense that objective moral values just exist? Let's go ahead and cede to that for the moment. Okay. Objective moral values just exist. What does that mean for me as an individual? I'm an advanced primate. I'm experiencing the world around me. Do I encounter patience? Do I encounter justice? What tool do I use to mine for these values? Do I sense an oughtness or shouldness to follow these values if I do encounter them? I don't think so. On naturalism, if objective moral values exist it would be non-natural, that is abstract, and I have no reason to believe that we could know of them or should know them, i.e. that we would have an oughtness to know them as we do today. On naturalism I find it hard to believe that these unexplainable objective moral values existed unchanging during the whole process of evolution, not dependent on anything for their survival and somehow man became aware of these moral values and found out what they are? If naturalistic evolution is true and objective moral values do indeed "just exist" I find it very hard to believe that man would evolve in that perfect way as to be able to know what those moral values are. Given that scenario, it's as if the moral realm "knew" that just such a man was coming. It's as if man was rigged to know the moral realm, care about it, and follow its values; like there was a design or something. Strange. Of course, a non-natural moral realm cannot be personal because it's impersonal. In order for man to know about such abstract objects, it would have be personal. The theist is in a fine position to say that if God exists, then as a personal being He could choose to let man know of His existence by divine revelation and/or by letting his existence be known via reason, those human beings who are functioning properly. God is personal therefore knowable, whereas non-natural moral values/a moral realm is impersonal therefore unknowable.

It seems to me that the atheist who says moral values are illusory is in a much better position given naturalism because such a moral philosophy makes sense in a purely naturalistic world. I don't understand at all how non-natural moral values can exist in a purely naturalistic world. The atheistic moral realist may say, "Okay, fine. I can understand that point. If we must go further in attempting to ground these objective moral values then let's do so. What if we say we (human beings) are the lawgivers and that these moral values are what perfectly rational human beings would agree on behind a veil of ignorance?" This meta-ethic philosophy is a sketch of John Rawls' theory of justice. The perfectly rational human being is behind a veil of ignorance (this is so he is blinded to any self-serving ideas that would only help himself and not others) and all of these men agree on the objective moral values we know today. It's a charming argument, but I think it fails on many points. One, why would I think that all of these perfectly rational human beings behind a veil of ignorance wouldn't agree on moral nihilism as their moral philosophy for the world? You can't say, "Well, they're behind a veil of ignorance" because moral nihilism isn't self-serving or a selfish quest. In fact, if God does not exist, then moral nihilism is a rational position to take. Man is looking at the abyss and he can go no further. Yes, Nietzsche said that only the weak give in to the abyss/nihilism, but it's not irrational, it's only weak. What about moral egoism? This is a rational moral position to take as well. I find it hard to believe that such a committee of persons would all agree on what our moral obligations are because there isn't just one atheistic rational moral philosophy, there are quite a few. Problem two, if the committee grounded morality in the decisions of human beings then objective moral values wouldn't exist anyway because the values would be dependent on human beings, which goes against moral objectivity which is that these moral values are valid and binding independent of whether human beings believe in them or not. 

There are, from my understanding, problems with atheistic moral realism that make it difficult for me to think that morality can be objective on atheism/naturalism: the existence of moral values/abstract objects on naturalism and finding the inherent wrongness or rightness of moral values on naturalism. Ethical theory and applied ethics can be explained quite nicely in many moral philosophies (Aristotle's ethics comes to mind as well as Kant), some even that are atheistic, but the inherent wrongness or rightness of moral values isn't in ethical theory or applied ethics, it's in meta-ethics and I think that's the problem with atheistic moral realism; it focuses on the two areas that don't tell me why something is wrong or right in and of itself which is why I haven't been convinced of atheism/naturalism. Actually, the debates I listened to on "Is God necessary for morality" and things like that convinced me of theism then other arguments took me to Christian theism. I think it's a strong point for the theist, but I'm not close minded to good arguments from the other side of the aisle.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Last Men: Are we those men?

Nietzsche wrote the following in Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Lo! I show you the Last Man.

"What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?" -- so asks the Last Man, and blinks.

The earth has become small, and on it hops the Last Man, who makes everything small. His species is ineradicable as the flea; the Last Man lives longest.

"We have discovered happiness" -- say the Last Men, and they blink.

They have left the regions where it is hard to live; for they need warmth. One still loves one's neighbor and rubs against him; for one needs warmth.

Turning ill and being distrustful, they consider sinful: they walk warily. He is a fool who still stumbles over stones or men!

A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end for a pleasant death.

One still works, for work is a pastime. But one is careful lest the pastime should hurt one.

One no longer becomes poor or rich; both are too burdensome. Who still wants to rule? Who still wants to obey? Both are too burdensome.

No shepherd, and one herd! Everyone wants the same; everyone is the same: he who feels differently goes voluntarily into the madhouse.

"Formerly all the world was insane," -- say the subtlest of them, and they blink.

They are clever and know all that has happened: so there is no end to their derision. People still quarrel, but are soon reconciled -- otherwise it upsets their stomachs.

They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health.

"We have discovered happiness," -- say the Last Men, and they blink.1 

Do you think we, the current gen of people, are the Last Men? It seems like it. We don't want to be bothered with high achievements, ultimate issues, or even local issues; we just want everyone to get along and equal in every respect (instead of equal opportunity) and just kind of float along in a "don't stir the pot because someone might get his feelings hurt" kind of life. Meaningless? This is my mood today. Bleh.

1. Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, Zarathustra's Prologue 5

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stanley Fish's interview with D'Souza on 2016

 An excerpt from the interview: 

S.F.: Some posters were dismissive of the idea of “American exceptionalism.” They wondered what the phrase meant and suspected that it was a rhetorical device enabling the United States to justify actions it would condemn if they were performed by other nations. What, in your view, is so exceptional about America?

D.D.: My definition of American exceptionalism is one of identifying the ways in which America is unique in the world. First of all, America is unique in being a country founded, in a sense, by a group of people sitting around a table. Other countries have been founded by “accidents of force.” America is a creation of thought. A second aspect of American exceptionalism is that while in other countries citizenship is a function of birth and blood, you become an American by assimilating to a certain way of life, a certain aspiration. And third, America has been a kinder, gentler superpower than traditional empires have been. What does the doctrine of American exceptionalism empower the United States to do? Nothing more than to act better than traditional empires — committed to looting and conquest — have done. So that’s American exceptionalism, an exceptionalism based on noble ideas, ideas that it holds itself to even when it falls short of them.

S.F.: You say in an e-mail to me that you don’t think Obama is anti-American. You just think he wants to “downsize” America, take her down a notch. Isn’t that a distinction without a difference? You pose a choice between America’s dream and Obama’s dream; the subtitle of your new book is “Unmaking the American Dream”; you say that the most dangerous man in America lives in the White House, and that those who vote for Obama will be “voting for their own decline and impoverishment.” Aren’t you labeling him anti-American at least in the sense that he desires America’s demise as a super-power?

D.D.: O.K., if the desire to knock America off its pedestal, to redistribute American income to other countries, to shrink America’s footprint in the world, makes you anti-American, then Obama is in fact anti-American. I don’t use that label for Obama because he thinks it would be good for America to play a smaller role economically, politically, culturally and so on. Most everyone else agrees that America should be prosperous, should be strong, should be a force for liberty, should be No. 1 as long as possible. All I’m saying is that Obama stands outside that consensus. So he might be very happy if the world was dominated not by one, but by six countries. He’d be very happy if America, which has 5 percent of the world’s oil, but uses 25 percent, instead used 10 percent, allowing developing countries to use more. These are not inherently evil or un-American ideas — so the slogan of anti-Americanism is not helpful; but they are ideas and an ideology most Americans don’t agree with.

S.F.: The vast majority of readers objected to your main thesis — that Obama’s views are best explained by the anti-colonialist ideology of his father. Some readers scoffed at what they call pop-psychologizing and find your analysis implausible given that Obama spent so little time with his father. Others deemed the analysis unnecessary as an explanation of Obama’s policies, which are, they say, exactly what one would expect from a mainstream, slightly left-of-center Midwestern pragmatist, many of whose ideas are taken from the moderate Republicans no longer welcome in the party.

D.D.: Well, let’s take that second argument first. We have seen in America, within four years, a complete redefinition of the relationship of the citizen to the state. The federal government has made incursions into a whole series of industries that were previously in the private domain. Bill Clinton’s doctrine — that the era of big government is over — has been completely repudiated. So the federal government now has a very active hand in medicine, in hospitals, in insurance, in banking, in finance, in automobiles, in energy. I’m not saying that government has had no role in these institutions before, but the degree of involvement has changed substantively. As for Obama and his father, in the film we interview psychologist Paul Vitz, who identifies two models of paternal influence, the inner city model — my dad abandoned me, he’s a jerk, I want nothing to do with him — and the World War II model — my father’s away, but he’s a hero, a great man fighting for his country and I wish I could be worthy of him. Obama ultimately takes neither of these two models. Instead, he takes a middle route and divides his father into the good father and the bad father. He says, I will not try to be like my father as a man, but I do want to take my father’s dreams. That is the meaning of his book’s title: “Dreams From My Father.” What I’m doing is not pop-psychologizing, unless you want to call Obama a pop-psychologist of himself. I’m just taking Obama’s cue that his father had a decisive, shaping influence on him, and saying let’s take the dreams of the father and look at the actions of the son and see if the jigsaw fits.

I recommend reading the entire interview. Fish's readers ask questions like: isn't the King's College a stupid creationist college? Who funded the 2016 movie? Aren't you (D'Souza) just a dark-skinned immigrant cozying up to the white elite? Obama-rage?

Read the full interview here.