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Friday, April 18, 2014

Democracy, Conservative-Speak Style

At first, the blogpost being reviewed here, Why Democracy Needs Aristocracy, seems to be a variation of a theme. Since democracy and aristocracy mix as well as oil and water do, the theme being played on came from Orwell in his book Animal Farm,
all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others

But that was before the blogpost' author, Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna,  attempted to play musical chairs with definitions and terms.

Christoff-Kurapovna gives the impression of wanting to discard the more traditional definitions of the words aristocracy and egalitarian as she distinguishes two kinds of democracies: aristocratic and egalitarian. Rather than using these words to depict inherited wealth or birth status, she wants to use them as indicators of human qualities. To Christoff-Kurapovna, aristocratic is the rugged individual for whom Capitalism and Democracy were created because such people excel in virtue and talent and are thus able to sustain political-economic system--we should note that Christoff-Kurapovna borrows some of her concepts of this ideal individual from Thomas Jefferson's natural aristocracy (click here). Christoff-Kurapovna also cites Lord Tennyson as saying that such individuals have "self-reverence, self-sufficiency, and self-perpetuation." Thus, such individuals work for what they can gain in the distant future.

Egalitarian, on the other hand, rather than referring to equality, is cited here to write about the "lowest common denominator" of people. The lowest common denominators are those people who can only see the short-term return and, if allowed to rule, would implement a "mobocracy." For in an egalitarian democracy, individuals are impotent and thus are dependent on others as well as enslaved to their own vices and the immediate satisfaction of appetites. This subjugation is due to a myopia with regard to time.

Thus, without enough of what Christoff-Kurapovna calls aristocracy, Capitalism and Democracy will implode. But there is a trick here. How do we determine who belongs to the natural aristocracy? According to Christoff-Kurapovna, it is those who have significant amounts of self-reverence and even "self-glory." Those who belong to this natural aristocracy and who save the day here are those who possess a noble self-interest . These are the people who can sustain Capitalism because of their concern with the future.

Christoff-Kurpovna cites some of our nation's founding fathers for support. We already showed her dependence on Jefferson in her depiction of the aristocracy America so depends on to continue. She includes Madison, along with Hamilton, who feared a "mobocracy" that would come with direct democracy. And though it is true that the founding fathers were concerned with the distant future while trying to craft our government, Madison not only opposed direct democracy, he was against the idea that people from every class could vote. He feared that, in England, if such was the case, agrarian reform would cause the land owners of England to lose their position and wealth (click here and see Madison's first set of comments in the Constitutional debates on June 26th). 

In addition, we ought to note who Madison regarded as people who preferred a mobocracy. It was those who were disgruntled during his time including those who supported Shays Rebellion (click here). We should note that at the heart of the dissatisfaction of the mob was high debt and taxation and an unresponsive government. That's right, some of the same concerns that served as a driving force in the American Revolution remained after the revolution. And thus there came a time when our Founding Fathers felt the need to write the Constitution, which was a document that created a stronger centralized government, that would protect the country from those who were disgruntled especially if they were to become the majority in the country. So, in essence, our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to protect themselves and the future from the same kind of reactions they once had toward the British aristocracy. So, perhaps for different reasons, we could regard Madison and others as being aristocratic. And we should add that Shays Rebellion was put down because of a state army funded by merchants.

Other descriptions of this pre-Constitutional conflict and parties involved can be found in Henry Knox's 1786 letter to George Washington (click here) and Federalist paper #10 (click here). 

The real question for Christians becomes this, does nobility come from self-interest and on an emphasis on individualism? Will such a focus, according to the Scriptures, be a vine that produces good  fruit? These questions are not just important for the Christian to satisfy, the answer to them could support Christoff-Kurpovna's thesis regarding aristocratic self-interest.

Once we look at the Scriptures, we easily see that self-reliance is not what Conservatives like Christoff-Kurpovna claim it to be. Moses warned the Hebrews against taking credit for the bounty God gave them. Instead, the Israelites were to know that everything they had came from God. In addition, how they were to treat aliens within Israel was based on how God provided for them in the wilderness. 

In the New Testament, we are to be known by our love for God and others. In addition, we are told that all we have is because God gave His son for us. Thus, for the Christian, self-reliance can be a form of idolatry because it is worshiping a god besides the Lord by giving that god undue credit. Having said that, relying on God is not necessarily to be equated with being dependent on others with the degree of the latter varying during each person's life. When we are dependent on others, we must realize that God is providing through those people. Likewise, when we are more independent from others, we are still relying on God.

In the end, the Christians are to be guided by how God has provided for them and by showing a similar love and compassion to others. Sometimes, this involves carrying our crosses into troubled places which self-interest forbids. And though we are promised the greatest reward of all times for being faithful, one cannot be true to God out of self-interest only. Rather, our loyalty to God should be first out of love for Him which was conceived by His love for us. And we bear fruit for God by relying on the Spirit.

But what about the nonChristian? After all, they are not required to acknowledge God in any of their ways. But the question here becomes, once we let the genie of self-interest become the granter of an unlimited number of wishes, why should the individual care about whether their long-term interests hurts others outside of their group or whether the interests they serve will be long-term in the first place? In addition, where would such an individual be if they lived in a society where everybody was governed by self-interest? For if we look at first responders or some who enter the military or some who teach or some who go into certain fields of medicine, we realize that all of us, including the aristocrats, benefit from those who have the interests of others as well as their own in mind. In that case, we could call aristocrats moochers who sponge off the good will of others when their only interest is self-interest.

There is something disingenuous in the approach of some conservatives with regard to self-interest and individualism. That is because they want to expand the definition of these terms so that only good results from them. For conservative definition of self-interest has been enlarged so that all a person has to do is to know how to do what's best for them to do good. And in doing so, the individual becomes an aristocrat who acts as a vanguard for Democracy and Capitalism. And once the individual joins the vanguard, for anyone to infringe on his/her liberty is to become an enemy of Democracy and Capitalism. And this is the point of the analogy used in the beginning of the blogpost. It defends the aristocratic individual from all infringements from the outside, especially the government. 

But we should remember who is really the aristocrat here. The aristocrat is the one who has experienced success in the system; this is the person who belongs to the vanguard. But we should be aware that vanguards have a tendency to seek privilege over others--see the Russian and French Revolutions for example--so that they cause the word aristocracy, whose definition was given a twist by the author of the blogpost, to revert to its original meeting. And once aristocracy returns to its original meaning, it deflates Democracy by raising the power of some so that they can rule over the rest. If we were to be generous, we would call such a democracy a partial democracy. But practically speaking, partial democracies are not democracies.

For example, Jeff Halper calls a democracy where a religious or ethnic group has privilege and thus can rule over others an 'ethnocracy.' He uses this to describe seeing that Jews have dominance over Israeli-Arabs and laws are passed to ensure the existence of that dominance.

We should note that the dominance called for in this aristocratic Democracy proposed by Christoff-Karupovna is based on economic class rather than on ethnicity or religion. Thus we call the aristocratic Democracy a meritocracy specifically or a classocracy more generally and we should note that those favoring the concept of an aristocratic Democracy are not the only ones who have argued for a classocracy; so did Karl Marx. In calling for a 'proletariate dictatorship,' he was calling for a democratic rule by the working class that would transform society into a classless society. But in calling for such a dictatorship, Marx allowed people like Lenin to hijack the Revolution by claiming to be a vanguard for the proletariate. Thus, Christoff-Karupovna and Marx become strange bedfellows whose only difference is found in the teams they cheer for and support.

Having said all of this, it isn't that we would suffer if each individual gained in positive qualities. It is that the right kind of self-interest and ideal individualism by themselves do not carry the day. By themselves, these items do not produce noble actions and motives. Rather, in this case, they support a paternalistic relationship between the aristocracy and the rest where we look to ride the coattails of the aristocracy. We feel safe with them because of their power and privilege. But the price of admission for letting the aristocratic individuals gain power and privilege is that we dependently and powerlessly exist at their discretion. Thus to advocate self-reliance while promoting an aristocracy lacks consistency.





Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 16, 2014

April 12

To Bruce Edward Walker and his blogpost on how the religious left wants to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This appeared on the Acton blog


Basically, the differences between the Left and the Right on the issue of fracking is one of focus. The Left focuses on the environmental impact of both the fracking process and any possible increased use of fossil fuels. The Right focuses the immediate economic impact concerning increased production and consumer cost. And while the Right will occasionally slip in an environmental note, it, again, uses selective focus to quell any environmental concerns. For example, this post cites new technology as significantly reducing methane emissions at each well. Unfortunately, other significant environmental concerns still loom over us such as maintenance of nonactive wells to prevent leakage and accidents, pollution of ground water, and accidents in transporting fuels--which is not to mention the increased use of fuels. A number of recent accidents indicate that the severe and sudden impact from some accidents show the need for more emphasis on the safety for the surrounding communities, especially with the lack of concern demonstrated by energy harvesting companies, to the extent that all alternatives must be explored so as to eliminate future accidents. In addition, individual studies cited here must be followed up to establish the findings and conclusions of the study mentioned here.

We need to reconsider the status quo both in terms of need vs production and consumer costs. The current situation is pressuring some to deny the environmental dangers that could be hovering over us in the distant and even near future in order to increase use and contain costs. It is basically a deny the future to satisfy the present mentality--which is something we are not suppose to associate with successful business types. And what drives all of this is the desire to increase individual consumption and profits. What is denied consideration in the discussion is how sharing and cooperation can both maintain a healthy economy while heading off future environmental dangers and disasters by decreasing consumption and production.

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To Joe Carter's blogpost on whether one can be both pro-businesss and pro-market. This appeared on the Acton blog.

What is interesting is to see the reaction of those who favor the market to its corruption. Here, the market is to be a place of fair competition. But the market has also been billed as a place where self-interest acts as the only strength, in terms of source of energy, and guide for the market's participants. Thus, the market, to pro-market people, is where one only needs to be concerned only for oneself and a machine that keeps that self-concern from doing harm.

But by reducing all concern to self-interest, how could we ever expect the market's participants to want fair competition? To be interested in fair competition would mean that self-interest is not the only concern that one must have. In fact, to ensure fair competition, many, if not all, of the market's participants would have to be willing to sacrifice certain advantages that comes one's way. Thus, we might even say that to expect fair competition to be the predominant state of affairs in a place where self-interest rules seems to be more utopian than the expected state of affairs.

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April 16


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost on science and Christianity. It appeared in the Heidelblog.


if Christianity is seen as being anti-intellectual, is in part due to the behavior of Christians. In particular, it is due to our response to evolution in past and to climate studies in the present.

Certainly we can't agree with all of evolution. But that means we can, quite Biblically agree with part of it. At the same time, we can challenge those who hold to a secular view of evolution about spontaneous generation. It is something that has never been observed and thus cannot be asserted to have happened outside of faith in that it has.

Our response to climate science is another unnecessary stumbling block we put in the way of a modernist believing the Gospel he has heard. There is much about climate science that climate scientists will say is speculative and some that isn't. And yet, many Christians write climate science off totally and one of the reasons why is because to accept their warnings is to agree to significantly changing one's own and society's way of life. And if we are honest, we will admit that most of our objections to climate science is due to the changes that its warnings call any responsible person to accept, And that is outside of any disagreement on what has been observed and what is being predicted.  For if we were honest, we would have to say to ourselves that the warnings given by climate scientists are very possible though not certain. But many of us have a much stronger reaction. We reject everything that climate scientists say including their observations.

Finally, let's not be selective about the past between Christianity and Copernicus. He and his theory was widely condemned by all sorts of Christian leaders. And to point out that Christians published his works is no great achievement for Christians since Copernicus lived and wrote in a Christian culture where most were considered to be Christians. This is just another example of how Christian behavior can be fit the role of being anti-intellectual.  If we have faith in God's Word, we don't have to go out of our way to show the intellectual integrity of the Gospel.

The same goes for the relationship between accepting criticism and intellectualism. Pointing out the anti-intellectual practices of others while one suppressing criticism of their own positions is not intellectually honest, to say the least. And suppressing criticism can be done by filtering who is allowed to speak.


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To Peter Dziedzic and his blogpost on the Vatigan's attention to the connection between family values and economic development. This was posted on the Acton Blog.

The article strongly suggests that we have a exclusive choice between families taking care of their own or the state. But such doesn't answer the following:

1.    What if there is no family of a person in need?
2.    What if the family doesn't have the resources to help a family member in need?
3.    Shouldn't the state also care about and have a responsibility for those in need?

Why can't both the state and the family help those in need? Because it causes debt. And it causes debt because those with the most wealth are looking to give as little as possible to the state. And those with the most wealth have the most resources in avoiding paying taxes to the state despite the resources they demand from the state. In addition, businesses with the most wealth often require the state to supplement the poverty wages the pay to many of their employees, most of whom are family members.

We cannot afford to view the issue of helping those in need as a turf war between the state and the family where one or the other side claims complete control over that area. Rather, the state and family should work hand in hand to help those who are in need. To make the choice and exclusive one is to simply politicize the plight of the most vulnerable.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What Drives Our Denial

Perhaps the best way to summarize Western Civilization with its multiple imperialisms is to read Bartolomé De La Casas as he described the behavior of many Spaniards on the island of Hispaniola after Columbus discovered the land. He stated that the reason for the murderous behavior of the Christians on the island was to, as quickly as possible, garner for themselves as much of an unmerited amount of wealth as possible.1

This description is not only a shoe that fits the feet of the Spaniards who took possession of the islands in the Caribbean, and it not only fits the feet of all Europeans who engaged in imperial behavior by conquering land and people for their king or themselves, it fits the behavior of today's Western nations.

For example, think about one of the most often used defenses for American Capitalism. We are told that it has brought about the greatest wealth in the history of the world. And what is implied by such a declaration is that the argument is over and there is no need to consider any other factors. Thus, we are not to ask at whose expense did our riches come. We are not told about the interventions that installed proxy governments nor are we told about the trade agreements that have caused farmers from other countries to go out of business while trying to compete with our subsidized agribusinesses. And though we hear about the sweatshop labor that manufactures many of the trinkets which we find so captivating, we become personally disconnected from their plight. 

Or we could look at how Americans generally regard the Global Warming debate. For if we took the global warming warnings seriously, then we would have to significantly change our lifestyles. We could no longer let profit and consumption reign as king and queen of our economy. Those with wealth, and this would include many from the Middle Class, would have to scale back their lifestyle and, to prevent those who already live in poverty from doing the same, would have to share with others. In fact, our whole country would have to cut back on consumption and even some production in order to give people from poorer countries a chance to improve their lives. 

But such is not the American Dream. For the American Dream consists of accumulating as much wealth for oneself as one can so that one can build their own "fantasy island." On that island, luxuries isolate one from the outside world. For the American Dream is about individual success living for oneself. So accepting the warnings about Global Warming will involve giving up on a significant part of the American Dream. Thus, accepting the Global Warming warnings will result in recognizing the welfare of others and making sacrifices for them rather than living just for ourselves. For it means that we buy less for ourselves and try to ensure that others will have more.

Life is simpler when one only has to worry about oneself. And that same life can seem more inviting when it is about accumulating experiences and riches. So when ugly truths about the exploitation of others and environmental problems start to force their way into our field of vision, we see them as a threat to our own status quo and peace of mind. We view these truths as telling us that the party is over and it is now time to get serious. But the party beckons us to stay. We have many more pleasures to experience, the party tells us. And so what we decide to do comes down whether we are willing to say to ourselves, "enough is enough." We have to choose between getting more and settling for less so others can have more. Thus, this choice of ours determines what we will be willing to believe.


References

  1. The Devastation Of The Indies; A Brief Account (1542) by Bartolomé De La Casas, printed in Voices Of A People's History Of The United States, edited by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove, pg 37
    or for an exact quote, click this video link


Monday, April 14, 2014

ONIM For April 14, 2014

Christian News



World News



Pick(s) Of The Litter

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Flawed Attempt To Be Fair

I like Carl Trueman from Westminster Theological Seminary. I like him because he has a certain penchant for independent thinking which is often missing in many of my fellow Conservative Christians. And so when he weighed in on the current skirmish between the Conservative Christian community and those supporting gay rights and equality, it was time to read what he had to say.

In the current conflict, Conservative Christians have felt attacked. For not only has there been a successful lawsuit filed against a Christian businessperson for refusing to provide photography services for a same-sex wedding, a law "protecting" Christian businesspeople from such litigation was vetoed in Arizona and now a CEO from Mozilla was pressured into resigning because he contributed money to the passage of California's Proposition 8, a law that would ban same-sex marriages in that state.

And while many Conservative Christian bloggers have already spent an inordinate amount of time lamenting over the current direction of our culture with regard to gay rights, the already here "gay-mafia" "persecution" of Conservative Christians, and the approaching criminalization of the Christian faith for its opposition to the gay and other progressive agenda, Trueman made an attempt, though inadequate, at fairness. For he writes in a Reformation 21 blogpost about the Brendan Eich incident that what served the Conservative Christian interest with regard to World Vision, hurt the same in Mozilla. And thus what Trueman is saying invokes what Jesus said to Peter when he was defending Him in the garden about living by the sword. 

So Trueman's point is one about consistency. If we can use economic pressure on World Vision to change their policies toward gays, then we can't complain when gay advocates and sympathizers turn the tables on us such as what happened at Mozilla. Of course some details are missing here. In the effort to protest World Vision's inclusion of same-sex married couples as employees, approximately 10,000 child sponsorships were withdrawn (click here) as a protest. Here, we might ask who paid the real price for the changing of the policy?

But Trueman's attempt to be consistent and fair only goes so far. For example, when he predicts further hardships for Christians over gay issues, such as what Eich experienced, he didn't mention fairness when he could have. After all, under Christian influence, homosexuality has been criminalized, been grounds for losing one's job, and marriage between gays has been highly resisted by the Christian community. When we consider the history of how the Conservative Christian community has treated homosexuals, should we regard it as fair should the gay community try to ban Conservative Christians from being married or from having certain jobs, or should they try to criminalize the Conservative Christian faith? Nobody I know would feels that way but such is the logic that Trueman uses when he tells Conservative Christians that because Christians used economic pressure to change World Vision's allowance for same-sex married couples, then it is only fair that gay advocates or sympathizers can exercise similar kinds of pressure as what happened between Eich and Mozilla.

This brings us to the basic problem my fellow Conservative Christians have with regard to how respond to society's acceptance of homosexuality. Allowing Conservative Christians and gays to treat each other in same way does not make such treatment by either side fair. And perhaps, the Conservative Christian treatment of homosexuals has contributed to society's acceptance of homosexuality because we have equated opposing homosexuality with legislation that prevents gays from being treated as equals in society. So it is easy for nonConservative Christians to accept homosexuality because to oppose it has come to mean relegating homosexuals to a second class status.

We might also ask ourselves whether our society's drift from Christianity and its values might have to do with how Conservative Christians handled society when Christianity was society's dominant influence. Did we attempt to rule over those who were different? Did we assume a privileged status that would allow us to dictate laws and societal values? 

The above questions are important considering that we have entered a post-modern period and one of the main concerns of post modernism is that of combatting empire and domination. Post-modernists are all too familiar with exclusive claims to knowing absolute truths being followed by feeling entitled to rule over others, and that rulership is, of course, always for the benefit of those who would be submitting.

What is really needed by the world in order for it to see the sinfulness of homosexuality is for the Church to distinguish between opposing homosexuality and trying to rule over homosexuals so as to control them and deny them equality in society. For as long as the Church equates opposing homosexuality with legislation that denies homosexuals equality, most fair-minded people will defend equality for homosexuals and thus will reject what the Church teaches about sexuality.

We should note that this blog has had to address this issue more times than I really care to. And the driving force for the frequency in covering this issue is the number writings by Conservative Christians who lament the current circumstances regarding the status homosexuals in society and the Church's loss of influence in the same.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 9, 2014


April 4

To Elise Hilton and her Blogpost on Mozilla's intolerance to Conservative Christian views of marriage. This appeared on the Acton blog

Is it possible that this post hyperbole? After all, to say that the resignation of Brandon Eich because he contributed money to a California proposition banning same-sex marriage implies that religious conservatives need not apply to work at Mozilla is a bit of an overstatement. So is implying that to believe that it is ok for same-sex marriage is to reject the Biblical definition of marriage.

See, it was certainly intolerant of Mozilla to pressure Eich into resigning for making the contribution he did. But before Christians throw the first stone at intolerant progressives we should remember the history of persecution and the striving for rights that gays have had to endure. It wasn't that long ago when homosexuality was a criminal offense. Then my fellow Conservative Christians wanted  gays to be fired from certain jobs like teaching. Then my fellow Conservative Christians fought against laws allowing for same-sex marriage lest people in society think that homosexuality was normal and should be accepted. And now my fellow Christians want laws that allow Christian businesses to have the right to deny public services to same-sex weddings and even gay couples who are already married and the only intolerance that my fellow Christians notice is when it comes from the people they are asking society to persecute. 

This kind of selective perception indicates a blindness in how my fellow religiously conservative Christians perceive themselves. And that blind spot is a result of either the presumption of having a privileged status in society or having a pathological lack of awareness of how one's actions affect others or perhaps both. Whatever the reason for our shortsightedness, those who encourage a modern Christian martyr industry are leading the charge in filtering the past and present. And they are manipulating my fellow Conservative Christians into a stronger xenophobia as well as isolation from society. And it is tragic.

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April 5

To R. Scott Clark and his brief blogpost on what happened to Brandon Eich at Mozilla. This was posted on Heidelblog

What happened to Brandon Eich was wrong. But how gays have been treated in this country was far worse. Homosexuality was first criminalized, then many Christians asked that gays be fired from certain jobs, then some Christians tried to prevent same-sex marriage, and now some Christians favor Jim Crow laws targeting gays. And what is our response?

Our response is to use instances like what happened to Eich in order to further a Christian martyr industry in this country to further separate Christians from nonChristians in this country. Yes, we now see some signs that the pendulum is swinging the other way but we didn't complain when pendulum was going in the other direction as it is in some African countries somewhat due to the influence of Christian missionaries. 

We all have a choice of being tribal here. That is we can join the gay rights fanatics, and note that not all favoring gay rights are fanatics, in one side or position ourselves on the side of those Christians who wish to prevent gays from enjoying full equality. In either case, we will imitate the other side by practicing tribalism, by adopting a gang mentality, by defining fair and unfair by who does what to whom. Or we can be principled by defending the equality and rights of all regardless of their view of gay rights.

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To Anthony Bradley and his blogpost on the progressive plot to eliminate the normal boy. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Why is it that this website likes to scapegoat the nebulous group, "Progressives." Certainly there has been a progressive reaction to malehood but instead of totally rejecting or accepting that reaction, we should listen to see what we can learn. After all, learning from anyone does not imply agreement. Perhaps we need to examine whether what these "progressives" want to remedy in boys is a problem or a perceived cause of a problem.

If one happens to ask the left about education, you'll find that most Leftists will say that education is a bipartisan institution to teach and enforce compliance. That is part of what the No Child Left Behind, which had bipartisan support and targeted both boys and girls, was intended for. Don't ask kids to understand and think, simply demand that they memorize and regurgitate. In fact, if you look at how the Left views education here, you'll find that, like the Church, it is considered to be just another institution of indoctrination to maintain the status quo for the benefit of those with wealth and power.

Is the problem being observed and mentioned here legitimate? Certainly. And there is no doubt that there is some progressive participation involved. But do all progressives agree with what is happening? No. Are there broader issues involved? Yes.  And are the some progressives the only ones involved in abnormalizing and drugging normal boys? Not at all especially since the pharmaceutical industry, a member of the free market, is now an active participant that has something to gain here.

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To Marcia Christoff-Kurapovna and her blogpost on democracy and aristocracy. This appeared on the Imaginative Conservative blog

The good part of this post is that there is a refreshing honesty about the kind of "democracy" or republic designed by our founding fathers. It was a partial democracy where there would be voting but that control would remain in the hands of those with wealth--these were the ones who belonged to the "landed interest," that is the wealthy landowners.

But the bad part of this post is that it shares the same vulnerabilities as all other partial democracies. That weakness is the rule of one group of people over the other. And when those who rule view themselves as superior and the provider for others, at the most we could graciously call this a paternalistic democracy. Note that, according to what is written in this post, if everybody had an equal voice, then we would be ruled by a pejorative mob. We should note that all representative democracies are ruled by mobs. In fact, we could say that when the representatives in such representative democracies are those with wealth and power, we could describe such democracies not as places where we have mob rule, but as places where the Mob rules.

In any case, the aristocracy in such a democracy seems to quickly embrace the role of the pharisee in Jesus' parable of the two men praying. In that story, the pharisee thanked God that he was not like the tax-collector-sinner because he was righteous while the sinner was not. So think about how such a democracy would rule over a country where only the elite were righteous enough to be qualified to rule while everybody had to be protected from the masses. It makes sense that those who picture themselves as either being a part of the elite or dependent on them would favor such a partial and paternalistic democracy.

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April 6

To Joe Carter's blogpost against "distributionism" by calling it utopian.  This appeared on the Acton blog.


It seems that "distributionism" is another name for a kind of "distributed capitalism." It is where more individuals are more self-sufficient and own their own means of production. And the objection here is that it doesn't fit in with the current global economy.

Those defending the status quo call most proposed changes to the current structure utopian. And the implication here is that though what we have is imperfect, it is the best available in an imperfect world. Therefore, calls to change need not apply and those calling for change, though sometimes well-intentioned, are not just calling for something that is unrealistic and unattainable, they are calling for what could only hurt what we have worked so hard for in the end. So the defense of the status quo relies on an immune system that attacks any  calls for change by discrediting them so as to inhibit public inquiry. 

But what isn't really examined here is the direction in which the current global economy, an economy supported by the writer of this post, is taking us. For in the current global economic system, wealth and power are being consolidated. And wealth and power are being consolidated because more and more restrictions on those who have proven to be exceptional are being removed. While that consolidation can build bigger and more majestic structures, fewer people are in control and, as with any centralization of resources, the first concern of those in control is to preserve their own current status. And this blogpost against "distributionism," though claiming to share some of the concerns of those calling for change, follows the method of operation practiced by those who defend the system. And the question is why?

An irony that exists here is that the same people who fear the consolidation of power in the gov't fully embrace what leads to such a consolidation, which is the consolidation of wealth, so long as that those acquiring such wealth are in the private sector. So those who sound the alarm against too much power in the government the loudest are supporting those in the private sector with wealth who want a powerful government to exist because they are becoming more able to purchase that power. 

It isn't that I am a big fan of "distributionism," it is that our current direction needs changing. And it isn't utopian to inquire as to whether we can improve on the way things are. And it isn't utopian to think about whether different systems can make things better. But so long as we accept the standard line that calls any desire for changing the system utopian, we will be unable to change our current direction, a direction that makes our current system not only unsustainable, but self-destructive as well.

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To Leon Bupkiss's response to my comment to a blogpost on the differences between the french and american revolutions. This was on the imaginative conservative blog. In his comment, Loen Bupkiss denies the existence of corporate liberty in favor of reducing all liberty to individual liberty

Leon,
Democracy is about corporate liberty. It is about community deciding on how it will exist. And the problem that exists for some conservatives is the notion of corporate liberty, it is the all-or-nothing thinking that comes with reducing all liberty to individual liberty. And all-or-nothing thinking approaches to individual liberty leads to tyranny. That is true even of the all approach to individual liberty because such an approach relieves the elite individual of all social responsibilities.




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Are You Living A Christian Apartheid?

Daniel Fincke is one of several who has written a negative review of the movie, God's Not Dead (click here for the review). In this review Fincke comes from perspectives that indicate he could do a one-show of this movie. For Fincke was an outspoken conservative believer but he is now an atheist and a philosophy professor.

One of the things that troubled Fincke about this movie is that it did not match his experiences as a young, enthusiastic evangelist and Christian activist. He did not suffer the animosity and persecution from his opponents which Josh Wheaton, the main character in the movie, suffered from his philosopher professor and his colleagues. Fincke tells about how he left the faith after examining it rationally. Others do not share his experience. Regardless, Fincke's observations can be helpful to us Christians. For he saw the Christian community in which he was a part of as alienating itself from the world by how it externalized evil such as in it regarded secular professors and thinkers. So the Conservative Christian Church deserves much credit for the veracity of his following description:
To clarify, I know the anti-intellectual, anti-philosophical, anti-secular persecution complex of the evangelical Christian church intimately

That description matches much of my experience when discussing politics with my fellow religious, Conservative Christians.  I've been told by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that I should be reading Martin Luther rather than Martin Luther King Jr., as if reading one excluded reading the other. I've been told that we shouldn't read Noam Chomsky because of how he regards America as a terrorist state, which does not make political conservatives happy. I've been told that we can only vote for pro-life candidates regardless of how they view war. And I've been told lie after lie about the Occupy Movement by people who were never there and only read what the Movement's antagonists said. Finally, there is the constant quoting of Karl Marx out of context so as to misrepresent him while blocking attempts at correction that can be seen on some Conservative Christian blogs. 

And if we add to all of that the heightened anticipation, if not perception, of persecution, simply because Conservative Christianity is not longer dominating culture especially in terms of marriage, we find the big picture. That big picture is that Conservative Christians not only feel the need but want to separate themselves secular intellectuals. They want an America where they can either hide from or control those influences they deem as being secular and evil. And yet they feel insulted when those who are secular have no desire to listen to them. We could adapt the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to describe this current state of affairs as Conservative Christians believing that they have everything to teach and give to those who are secular while they have nothing to gain from them because there is no common ground.

And it shouldn't surprise us that some of the attitudes that Conservative Christians have toward secular intellectuals are similar to what many Americans have to the world. We tend to be against, or at least suspicious of, much of what doesn't come from our country. And when America's control over the different parts of the world is challenged, we feel offended and even threatened. We can so easily see the faults of nations like Russia with its aggressive approach to the Ukraine, but we are blind to, if we haven't already assumed to be privileged to have, our American empire. And perhaps that is where the tie the similar attitudes of Conservative Christians and those who believe in American Exceptionalism is especially with many Americans believing that their country was founded on Christian principles.

All of this self-separation from others and believing that we have everything to teach and nothing to learn points to a tendency, if not an inner need, toward self-exaltation. So when someone challenges our assumed superior position, we feel the sky falling around us which can cause us to lash out. And we lash out because perhaps we have more doubts about what we believe about God and ourselves than faith. 

All of this is being written not as a criticism of the Christian faith, but it is written as a fallible observation of American Conservative Christians. And to the extent that the above is an accurate description of us, it describes how we are interfering with nonbelievers listening to the Gospel. In addition, we are illustrating one of the main reasons why countries fight wars. It is due to one nation or group assuming to be superior over another nation or group. And with the presumption of superiority comes the sense of entitlement to what belongs to others.

There is a simple solution. That solution is to no longer live that way, that we no longer isolate ourselves from others. That solution is to apply the Golden Rule to sharing. If we want others to listen us, then we must listen to them. If we want people to learn from us, we must learn from them. However, we must do so while not being distracted from following God. That is because some of the differences between Christians and nonChristians is due to the deity being followed. At the same time, we can't assume to be superior to others. So we also need to realize that nonChristians can easily discover what is right, fair, and compassionate; and they often do that way before we do.

If we apply the Golden Rule to learning, we can make the observations made by Fincke a thing of the past. And then the stumbling blocks of our ignorance and fears will have been cleared away.  But more than that, that Christian arrogance will no longer cause people to turn away from us when we share the Gospel. And the only way we can do all of this is to trust God and His Word to guide us and to realize that being saved does not make one superior to others. So when we recognize that, we will realize that God can speak to us through many different people. And if we do listen to and learn from others, we might also show nations that the way to peace is by paying attention to the concerns of others as one would have them pay attention to oneself.