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Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil -- I Timothy 6:9-10a

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Understanding The Conservative Whipping Boy: The State

The Imaginative Conservative blog just posted an article by Joseph Sorban (1946-2010) on what we are obligated to give to the State (click here). In one sense, this article by Joseph Sorban is a followup article on another article that briefly described how democracy has failed because it did not hold the size of government and the state in check (click here for that article).

In this article, Sorban wants to question the credentials of state because, regardless of its form, democratic or otherwise, the state seems to always become like the Hulk. As it grow bigger, it becomes more destructive. And certainly, Sorban does not have to work hard at finding a number of examples where this is true. The state, in way too many cases, abuses its power and, in one way or another, falsely tells us that what it commands us to do are moral mandates.

However, one must realize that Sorban is judging the state from a conservative-libertarian point of view. That view states that the state should take a minimalist approach at how it should govern its people. The conservative-libertarian view states that individual liberty should be king and what prevents individual liberty from harming others is a notion of 'natural order.' Natural order, according to Sorban is a self-evident set of standards that should prevent us from using individual liberty as a license to kill and steal. Some call similar sets of standards 'the created order' while others refer to them as 'natural law.' And though the standards may not be identical, the general result is. That is there exists a moral code that keeps practitioners of individual liberty from reaching a state of mutually insured destruction.

At this point, we should note the first comment posted is my comment. In that comment, I briefly described what I think are the problems of Sorban's position. The first problem is that the state, according to Sorban, is what I call an 'amorphous monolith.' By that I mean that the form of the state is meaningless because he is judging the state solely by its size. Thus, a big government or an intrusive state makes all state or governments look the same.

Now lest one assumes that only conservatives have the problem of using stereotyped scapegoats, my fellow political Leftist do the same to the Rich as conservatives, like Sorban, do to big government (see here). 

My next point regarding Sorban's article is that his emphasis on natural order or law, whatever you want to call it, leads to an elite-centered type of rule. That is because we must have the right group of people who can discern between what is part of the natural order and what isn't. And since not all share the same view of either natural law or order or how it should be implemented today, this right group of people have the duty to lead all others to follow natural law or order regardless of what anyone else has to say.

At this point, we should note that, in reality, a government based on elite-centered rule rather than democratic rule is more than easily distinguishable from those governments that employs democracy. This distinguishability contradicts Sorban's treatment of all big governments as being the same. This is shown by a previous blogpost (click here) that used a 2-dimensional model with one of the dimensions being the degree to which power is distributed. 

When power is dispersed, as should occur in a democracy, then we limit the power of government. However, we should note that a true democracy requires more than just certain political structures. It also requires enough people to hold to a certain cultural and societal ethic that leads people to share society as equals with those who are different. The failure to do so not only keeps a nation with democratic political processes from being a true democracy, it shows that, especially in America's case, its economic values of competition and conquest are counted as being more important than its democratic values of sharing and equality. Otherwise, democratic values would be crossing the border into how our economic system works rather than our capitalists values of competition and conquest have been bleeding into our political structures.

One might be tempted to say that this missing ethic of how to share society could be the reason why some, like Sorban, think democracy has failed. In essence, we've never tried democracy. And that is because, again, democracy requires both political structures and a certain societal ethic that revolves around sharing.

The conservative approach to government is one designed to enable elite-centered power. We should note that the liberal approach to government does the same. The difference between the two groups is that the elites who rule in the conservative scheme tend to be from the private sector while the elites who rule in the liberal scheme tend to be from the public sector. In either case, most of the people are being told what to do and what to either like or tolerate. And was pointed out in my comment attached to the article being reviewed, elite-centered rule will cause power structures to grow. This growth guts Sorban's black-white view of the state.

One final point that was not touched on in my comment to this article. The conservative view of government presupposes that government is an alien being to the people. And in many cases, that has shown itself to be true. But it does not have to be the case. What enables government to be an alien force is for the people to let be that way. And we often let government become an alien force when our pursuit for prosperity and/or distractions rob us of either the time or the desire to be involved with our government and hold it accountable. Of course, since Sorban's criteria for what makes government good is getting government out of the way of the right elites, he could have never appreciated a true democratic society.




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 20, 2015


May 14

To Denny Burk and his blogpost on how it is Christian business owners who are counted as the "least of these" in Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats. This appeared in Denny Burk's blog.

What is at odds with Burk's application is the listing of those who are being helped. The least of these are those shunned by society and who can offer no incentive for us to help them. Does that sound like successful business owners? Or does this show a less restrictive definition for the word 'brother' in this particular passage? Here we should note James 2 in talking about who is poor and the transition in reference made in that chapter.

That words can have multiple meanings is an observable fact when one reads the scriptures. That context helps determine the meaning words will have is also an observable fact. What is also observable is how too many of us religiously conservative Christians have made the same-sex marriage issue all about us forgetting how we have tried to marginalize the LGBT community in society. So if we are persecuted for having first persecuted others, can we be counted as the least of these? And isn't this claim to be the least of these just another way to rally fellow Christians around making everything about us?

Perhaps we need to talk to those we have marginalized in society to learn about their experiences and perspectives. Again, how is it that the least of these refers to those who have been victimizing others?

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Please note that the reason why the next 2 responses were blocked. It was to limit the conversation on a moderated board. Limiting the number of exchanges is a reasonable practice. Other comments were allowed.

May 15

To Jim Heetderks and his May 15 response justifying corporations paying as little taxes as they can. This appeared in the blogpost about churches paying taxes in Heidelblog. 

Jim,
I have to disagree over everybody keeping one’s taxes at a minimum. Such a view is one that puts self first over the needs of the community. Such a view follows the maximize one’s profits way of life. And we should note that when everybody is maximizing their own profits, the only ethic that remains is don’t get caught. And what most who live by the maximizing of one’s own profits maxim have difficulty with is understanding how when too many people live that way, our way of life becomes not just unsustainable, it becomes self-sabotaging. For eventually, the unpaid bills do catch up. Our problems with an uncontrolled national debt and a crumbling infrastructure along with diminishing safety nets illustrate that point. And my point is also proved by more than one historical example.

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To R. Scott Clark's May 15 response defending churches  not paying taxes because their members are already taxed as individuals. This was part of the discussion on the blogpost about churches paying taxes in Heidelblog.

R. Scott Clark,
And the Church enjoys gov’t provided services, which is my point in the first place. And please realize that there is plenty profit in certain churches. And some of those services are required because people have joined together in the Church corporate body. So if the Church is not to be taxed, should church employees be taxed?

As for businesses, can business owners claim the same double taxation that Churches do. After all, don’t businesses contribute to the tax base by the taxes they withhold from their employees? And since businesses provide such tax revenue, some reason that these businesses have already paid their dues.

I understand the tax issue, the sensitivity over it, and how much of our money goes to taxes. At the same time, perhaps our feelings about taxes would be somewhat mitigated if we had more control over how our tax revenues are spent. Whether one is on the political right or the socialist left, note that liberals are left out of the mix here, there is a consensus, for different reasons, that our gov’t is out of control.

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This comment is in moderation limbo. On some blogs, the wait for the comment to be moderated is inordinately long if not forever. When I am of aware of the status of this comment changing, then this part of the post will be updated.


May 16

To David Robertson and his blogpost calling on God to bless America. This appeared in the Wee Flea blog

Being an American, an anti-capitalist leftist, and one who comes from the Reformed theological position, I have a different take on the points being made here. 

Point #1: God has blessed America.  But the same can be said of every nation. Every nation has come into existence because of God's allowance and blessing. But we should challenge something said in this point. We should question whether America has been a bastion of freedom and liberty. America is not just a nation, it also currently controls the largest empire. And whether America is that vast bastion of freedom  must be tested both within its national borders as well as within the borders of its empire. And when people of color still struggle to gain liberty and freedom here, and where those from the LGBT community can still be harassed and fired from their jobs within the US national border, we should look apprehensively at the freedoms afforded to all within the confines of our empire to see if we are that bastion of freedom and liberty we claim to be. And when measuring the freedoms and liberty within the confines of our empire, we should remember that liberty - equality = privilege. And the existence of privilege is no indicator of the presence of liberty and freedom.

Point #2: God Continues To Bless America. But the same can be said of every nation. And we have to ask whether His blessing is more apparent in the plethora of environments and teachers in a nation that has religious freedom than in a nation that still has believers despite varying degrees of persecution. In addition, we have to ask what kind of blessing it is when God's people seek to marginalize those in the LGBT community rather that to rely solely on evangelism to address sexually immoral behaviors. This attempt at marginalization is part of a larger effort made by Christians to exercise varying degrees of control over society.

Point #3: God Bless America because 'all is not well' here. Can fully agree with that but the diagnosis will forever be true of America and every nation. In addition, we should note why God should bless America. It can only be because He has chosen to show mercy to it for we, like all other nations, certainly do not deserve His blessing.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost repeating Denny Burk's contention that Jesus' reference to the least of these from the parable of the sheep and the goats. This appeared in the Acton blog.

When one reads the parable of the sheep and the goats, one has to question Burk's interpretation and application. For while Jesus talks about the sheep as those who have helped the most marginalized in society who have no way of repaying those showing the kindness, at least some of whom Burk regards as the least of these have been involved in the marginalization of others.

We might also want to see with Burk's interpretation whether we are called to only fellow believers who are marginalized. Is that what Jesus taught? Is that what the apostles taught.

A final point to be made is that Burk's interpretation of who the least of these are continues a Christian reaction to make the issue of how should society react to same-sex marriage and other issues involving those from the LGBT community solely about Christians and the travails they will face if full equality is extended to those in the LGBT community. This degree of self-absorption by my fellow Christians does not seem to  neatly fit into any of the parables Jesus taught.

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To Elise Hilton and  her blogpost on big government, free markets and how the American dream can turn into a nightmare. This appeared in the Acton blog.

This reference to 'Big Government' seems to be a knee-jerk reaction. The same can be said of the reaction to 'free markets.' For regardless of the ethics practiced by big government, the size of the government determines its moral status. Big government, by virtue of its size, is bad.

Similarly, regardless of the behavior of free markets, these markets are deemed good because they are free. Such a view of markets does not consider the plight of all the stakeholders involved when these markets operate. One only needs to know that free markets are good, regardless of how they affect all of their stakeholders.

And here is the problem. Behavior is no longer the measure of the moral status of either markets or government. In addition, as amorphous a description that the word big provides for governments, such governments are spoken of as if they were a monolith. Reducing the value of government to one measurement, that is size, leads us to engage in all-or-nothing thinking patterns that, intellectually speaking, are not challenging. In fact, once we know the size of government, without knowing anything else, we know to condemn it. This is why the reaction to big government at the beginning of this comment is called a knee-jerk reaction. In addition, such a mentality takes for granted all of the government's work to provide an adequate infrastructure in which the free markets operate.

And as for the American dream, the more this dream is thing-oriented, then, according to Martin Luther King Jr, the longer we will have to tolerate racism, economic exploitation, and war. And that is our problem. We are a think-orieted society. And that is driven by the American Dream.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Invisible Triple Threat To America's Christians

Many religiously conservative Americans wear their religion on their sleeves. Of course this means that their religious views and sentiments are full display. And the combination of that eager sharing of one's religion, adhering to the patriotic theme of American Exceptionalism, believing that America was founded as a Christian nation, and embracing Biblical themes from both the Old and New Testaments makes many of us religiously conservative American Christians susceptible to isms that can prove to be quite harmful to both ourselves and to others. These isms are authoritarianism, narcissism, and tribalism. For each of these isms, we will first define it, then we will show how it is related to American Conservative Christianity, and finally we will begin to display how they are interconnected.

We could define authoritarianism as the over reliance on the use of  human authority. This over reliance is to the point being oppressive or supporting oppression. In terms of the traits of authoritarianism, authoritarianism can be divided into two categories: active and passive authoritarianism. The former kind of authoritarianism refers to authoritarianism as exercised by leaders while the latter form is practiced by its followers (click here for a reference). We should also note that truth in authoritarian circles is more determined by the credentials of the source than by the facts and logic of a particular argument. Such assumes that too many in the audience are not qualified to question those in authority.

We should note that it is easy to see where Conservative Christians get their authoritarianism from. Most of the relationships we have, as described in the Scriptures, seem to involve authority figures. God is our ultimate authority. We are to submit to the authority of our governmental leaders whom God has placed over us. We are to submit to our church leaders for the same reason. We are to submit to those with authority at work also for the same reason. Children and wives are to submit to the male head of the house because Christ is the head of the Church. And children are also to submit to their mothers.

It seems like every place we turn to, we are facing an authority figure to whom we owe obedience. Thus, we struggle with democracy because democracy levels the playing field between people. In addition, democracy allows us to challenge those in authority. Finally, a democratic society is not obliged to recognize God's authority here on earth. Yes, there is a final reckoning. But while we are here on earth, democratic societies can disregard many of God's commands. 

Thus, we run into our problem. We want our society both to be called democratic and to be submissive to God's authority. It's like we cannot turn off our submit to authority switch while trying to respect democracy. And when we see how authority was wielded in the Scriptures, we struggle with not expecting the same kind of response when people rebel today. In addition, many of our past great Church leaders were very authoritarian. 

Take Martin Luther and John Calvin as examples. They were eager to enforce all of God's laws on society. And they were more than bombastic in dealing with disagreement and dissent. So we struggle and perhaps feel insecure with allowing people to have the freedom to ignore or challenge those in authority. And not only that, we often imitate their blustering rhetoric because you either obey those in charge or you disobey. The traits of authoritarianism, that is the unbalanced reliance on authority, are listed after the end of this blogpost.

We Conservative Christians are also at a higher risk than normal to suffer from Narcissism. Think about it. We believe that because our nation was founded on Biblical principles, it is special and is above all other nations. It is that 'city upon a hill' that shows the way to the rest of the world. And that is just from American Exceptional point of view.

From the Christian view, we believe, and rightly so, that Jesus is the only one who can save us. And thus, we are the only ones who are saved. So how is it that we do not think more highly of ourselves than others think of themselves? And if we are that enlightened or saved, the world should listen to us. For we, or our leaders, are the only ones who have and understand God's Word. And because of that, we are the only ones who can help the world solve its problems.

Of course, we should define narcissism. Narcissism occurs in the presence of an extreme degree of self-admiration and self-absorption. For one to be classified as experiencing narcissism, one must have at least 5 of the 9 major traits listed at the end of the blogpost. We should also note that both individuals and whole groups can suffer from narcissism (click here). We should also note that when you have a group or collective narcissism, the individual members may not be narcissistic, but the group functions as being narcissistic. And it should not be too hard to see how the patriotic and biblical emphasis on the uniqueness on our uniqueness would not only cause us to believe that we above others, but that we are entitled to be so recognized. And this is especially true when so much is at stake, such as our prosperity.

Finally, we have tribalism. Tribalism refers to the degree of loyalty we exhibit for a group. When the degree becomes great enough, we say that there is tribalism. Here we should note that all of us belong to multiple groups. Two of the major reasons why we belong to groups is for feeling significant and obtaining security.

From a moral point of view, we can say that tribalism occurs when loyalty to a group trumps commitment to morals and principles so that what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom. Thus in the end, besides the 3 traits of tribalism listed in the Reference and Traits section, we could add one more trait implied by our definition of tribalism: defensiveness.

We should only note that the Old Testament is full of tribalism. It starts with belonging to the right family, then it proceeds to belonging to one of the right tribes. It finishes with belonging to the right nation. And in the meantime, some horrible acts of war committed against civilians were sanctioned by God for His people only.

The New Testament is better only in that God's people were not commanded to war against others. But the Church now becomes the tribe to which we should be most loyal. In fact, Denny Burk, a Conservative Christian theologian and blogger has just reinterpreted the phrase 'the least of these' from Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats to referring to Christians only (click here for Denny Burk's blogpost, click there for Jesus' parable). Having the Church as our main tribe is how we are to separate ourselves from the world.

Again, the traits for each of the isms are listed below in the section References and Traits. However, below is a picture illustrating some of the traits each ism has as well as shared traits. Some of the traits in the picture are summations or are derived from the individual traits listed in Reference and Traits section. 

Traits of the isms

We should note the traits shared by two or more of the isms include

  • believes one is superior to others
  • is hostile to others or to differences
  • believes in power
  • projects faults on others
  • practices conformity
  • is defensive

We should note regarding the shared traits, belief in one's own or one's group superiority could easily foster the belief in the authority of one's group. With that comes the expectations that people conform to the group's expectations and acknowledge the group's status. That, as is in the case of any authoritarian, acknowledgment of weaknesses by the group would diminish the credentials of the group and could thus be met with hostility when those weaknesses are mentioned. This interplay is but one example of how these isms with their trait are interrelated.

Whether Conservative Christians are more at risk of falling for any or all of these isms can be determined by observation, especially when observing the Church under trying circumstances. So we could simply ask ourselves this question: Are the traits listed under shared traits or those that accompany just one ism what we are observing in the majority of Christians during times of controversy such as the same-sex marriage issue? For if that is what people are seeing, we should note that we are failing in providing a credible witness to the Gospel.


References and Traits

--Note that these traits are quoted from the websites provided--

Some traits of authoritarianism (see http://www.psychologistworld.com/influence_personality/authoritarian_personality.php )

  1. Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs
  2. Belief in aggression to those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking or who are different
  3. A negative view of people in general
  4. A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power
  5. A black-white worldview
  6. A tendency to project one's own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group
Traits of narcissism
  1. Grandiose sense of self-importance
  2. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  3. Believes that he or she is special or unique
  4. Requires excessive admiration
  5. Has a very strong sense of entitlement
  6. Is exploitive of others
  7. Lacks empathy
  8. Is often envious of others
  9. Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behavior toward others
Other traits (see https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201311/6-signs-narcissism-you-may-not-know-about )

  1. Highly reactive to criticism
  2. Low self-esteem
  3. Inordinately self-righteous and defensive
  4. React to contrary viewpoints with anger  or rage
  5. Project onto others qualities, traits, and behaviors they can't--or won't--accept in themselves
  6. Have poor interpersonal boundaries

  1. They view their own group, called the ingroup, superior to other groups, called outgroup
  2. They conform to their group norms
  3. They favor their ingroups while being hostile to outgroups




Monday, May 18, 2015

ONIM For May 18, 2015

Christian News



World News



Pick(s) Of The Litter



Friday, May 15, 2015

when The Political Past Catches Up With The Religious Present

Cathy Lynn Grossman has just written an article for Religion News Service about a Pew Research Center report on religion in the US (click here for Grossman's report). The report states that things are changing in that the number of Christians is declining while the number of those who are not religious is increasing. And one of the reasons why these numbers are changing is because of political views more than religious ones. In particular, conservative politics and conservative religion, which appeared to have married each other immediately after birth, show one partner embarassing the other.

Grossman reports that the Pew Center report shows that while Christians make up the vast majority of people in America, Christianity is losing people at a disconcerting rate (8 percentage points from 2007 to 2014). This drop cuts across all demographic groups. Those who have recovered the most fumbled believers are atheists and agnostics. And a reason why Conservative Christianity is bleeding believers, that is in terms of percentages, has to do with conservative politics. Here, Grossman quotes Mike Hout, a sociology professor who provided comments for the study, in attributing the disinterest in Conservative Christianity to its ties in conservative politics. Some who left this branch of Christianity "didn't want to be identified with" conservative political 'agenda.'

We should note that political ties have harmed Conservative Christianity before--only in America, the Conservative Church is getting off relatively light. For Conservative Christianity's past ties have often been with those with power. And both the French and Russian Revolutions saw at least portions of the Conservative Church, the Roman Church and the Orthodox Church respectively, experience some harsh persecution because of their political connections.

Will this trend of conservative politics costing Conservative Christianity believers continue? The study doesn't address that so we have to stay tuned for the next report. But suffice it to say, Conservative Christianity's leaders must examine the ties between conservative politics and Conservative Christianity. Otherwise, Conservative Christianity will have doomed itself to the future of conservative politics in America. Such hardly seems to be a Biblical approach in determining which political views to pursue. And the past indicates that if we don't take a Biblical approach to determining our political views, we are more likely than not to latch on to those with wealth and power. And as the previously mentioned revolutions indicate, such an approach sets us up for unnecessary persecution--political persecution that is, not religious persecution.





Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For May 13, 2015


May 10

To R. Scott Clark and his 1987 blogpost quote about how, because of a lack of honesty and basic literacy, our nation is in the dark. This appeared in Heidelblog.


With nation's history of how it has treated nonwhites, haven't we always been in the dark regardless of our literacy abilities?

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To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost on John Witherspoon's recommendations for how to contribute to society. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Whitherspoon shows a good path for Christians, but is this what we should expect nonChristians in our society to do as well? And if so, where is our freedom of religion? For if this is the only hope we Christians hold out to society, especially with our own history of mistreating others and our love of money and prosperity, we will rightfully be seen as seeking privilege and rank over others.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on the need for an international police force to help persecuted Christians and others. This appeared in the Acton blog.

We need to ask a couple of questions here. First, will a police force be sufficient in protecting persecuted Christians or do need a paramilitary force? Second, will we support the police when they are called on to protect Palestinians and Bedouins from Israel's constant grabbing for more land and resources? Third, when we will we reflect on how our foreign policies contribute to the persecution of any group that could be associated with the West? After all, not only have we blindly supported Israel's occupation, we have supported coups and tyrants serving as proxies heads of state. And in Africa, our main concern regards how many natural resources we can extract while maximizing our own profits.

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To Joe Carter and his blogpost on liberal morality with its emphasis on property rights. This appeared in the Acton blog.

I found the article cited to be extremely disingenuous and deliberately lacking in self-reflection. These characteristics could be boiled down to following line about why some oppose capitalism:

Stop us before we make everyone richer, healthier and safer, they seem to be pleading.

Of course statistics will be quoted on how many more people can now live on more than a $1/day than before. Those statistics fail to distinguish where those greatest gains have been made. China, which is hardly a capitalist country has shown the largest gains. And the selected statistics are silent about the costs that such gains have incurred in a number countries such as the increased use of sweatshop and trafficked labor and further destruction of the environment found in either the extraction or use of fossil fuels, And another set of statistics that are ignored are the growing number of people in nations like the US who are approaching a poverty level income while the vast  percentage of wealth gained in the recovery since 2008 have gone to the upper 1%. And now we are getting close to another trade agreement that robs nations, including ours, of their national sovereignty--the TPP.

And what is important about the blind acceptance of Capitalism here is that it carries with it its own treacherous form of materialism--that is according to Martin Luther King Jr.  And this leads our society to being 'thing-oriented' society. And, according to King, for as long as this thing-oriented society with its emphasis on gadgets, profits, and property rights are more important than people, then evils such as racism will forever remain. And here is the unreported King. For as long as we can consider racism as a separate entity from our values economy, we will be more than happy to address. But which conservative will follow King in associating our drive for profits and emphasis on property rights with racism? Which one?

While Carter is singing 'The Sunny Side of The Street,' invisible stakeholders, invisible to those who benefit most from the status quo, are trying to tell us something their personal experience about our Capitalism. And we have a choice here. Either we can look at our own circumstances and deduce that everybody benefits from today's neoliberal capitalism, or we can listen and even visit these people they live and do an inductive study on how Capitalism is helping/hurting others.







Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Should Revolutions Include The Writing Off Of Moral Debts

In an interview with Euronews, Noam Chomsky stated that the Greek debt should be forgiven (click here). The failure to do so, as Brussels is doing, hurts Greece. We should note here that for practical purposes, Brussels serves as the financial capital of the European Union. 

We should understand that one of the reasons why some believe that the Greek debt should be forgiven has to do with the tradeoffs between Greece paying off such a large debt and having the debt forgiven. Only the latter, according to some, allows Greece to have hope for the future. Other than that, the debt is too stifling for Greece to both pay it off and to grow economically. 

Using Greece's need as a model, those of us who clamor for revolution need to ask ourselves this question: Should we call on the public to punish those we blame for the world's ills or should we recognize that, owing such a high moral debt to the world, we need to encourage such people to feel free in having a change of heart by being willing to forgive them for their past sins and abuse of power? That instead of looking to give those we blame what we think they deserve, we should dream that they should have a change in heart and join us. Why shouldn't we let many sinful bygones be bygones if those who sin against us are willing to change? And if we remove the threat of punishment for past sins, we might make it easier for at least some elites to go through a change in heart.

Every group has scapegoats for what is wrong with the world. Those on the Right conflate liberals and leftists into one group and blame society's ills on their relative morality, lack of personal responsibility, and atheism.  Liberals tend to blame those on the Right for their imposition of personal religious values on society as well as the Right's support of business. And those of us on the Left blame the Rich. In each case, to win, the scapegoat must be overcome and conquered. But in addition, there is the implication that evil will stop when one's own group is in charge. History does not share that assessment. Sometimes we need our opponents to provide a check on us and our designs.

Rather than working with the current divisions of the Left, Liberals, and Conservatives, perhaps we should start with the division Martin Luther King Jr did. In his speech against the Vietnam War, King specified one of the real divisions between people when he said:
I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

That division is between those who are thing-oriented and those who are person-oriented. Also note what King regards as being thing-oriented from that which is person-oriented. Finally, the orientations King identifies shows one of the major divisions between people.  

The emphasis on the individual and one's property rights is championed by those on the Right. And we need to help those on the Right to see that progress cannot be first measured by profit, buildings, and possessions. 

Liberals need to see that mere modifications of the current system that so favors property rights can never produce a society that becomes person-oriented. 

At the same time, we need to add a further distinction for both the Left and the Right. That distinction is between those who are ideological-oriented and those who are person-oriented. For a danger that is faced by both those on the Left and the Right is the ability to scapegoat and even dehumanize those who do not follow one's own ideology. The part of Leftist ideology that blames the Rich and sees them as being incapable of changing implies that we should treat the Rich as being less than human. And the part of the ideology of the Right that regards all who are nonconservatives as being moral lepers does the same.

When we believe that others have nothing to contribute or cannot change, we begin to give ourselves permission to regard and even treat them as being less than ourselves. This is why we cannot afford not to try to win our opponents over. And in winning them over, we should not necessarily try to win them over to our particular ideology--for me that would be a Leftist ideology. Rather, we should try to win them over to being person-oriented rather than thing-oriented or ideological-oriented. That though things and ideologies are important, we need to regard people, whether they side with us or not, as being most important.  And we cannot regard people as being most important if we feel compelled to conquer them. 

Yes, there might be a time where we should seek democratic controls over the behavior of those who insist on putting things or ideologies before people. But we must first and continually try to win over such people.

We know that the moral debt some have incurred from how they treat others is too high for them to admit their sins. And the more we insist that such people pay that debt, the more defensive they become. At this point, we must remember how we have all treated others unjustly. We should also think about how we would want to be reached out to if our moral debt for how we have treated others was exorbitant. It is with this in mind that we need to personally engage our opponents and invite them to change. We need to help them see that for all of us to survive, we must put people first.