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This Month's Scripture Verse:

Whoever loves money never has enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
This too is meaningless -- Ecclesiastes 5:10


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For April 5, 2017

March 29

To Joe Carter and his blogpost about the positives and negatives of intersectionality. This appeared in the Gospel Coalition website.

Though Carter has made some good observations about intersectionality, the weakness of his article is that the faults he sees also occur in groups to which he belongs.
The moment a belief becomes an ideology, believers need to step back so that their affiliation with an ideology doesn't become a cult membership. This is especially true when beliefs and observations involve providing relief for the oppressed. For as with those who suffer traumas, those who adhere to an ideology that attempts to address social injustice are strongly tempted to think in all-or-nothing terms. It is this type of thinking that makes ideologies dangerous. That is because it is this type of thinking that causes ideologues to believe that they have a monopoly on the truth and have nothing to learn from others. In fact, those who disagree, regardless of the degree or relevancy of the disagreement, are often grouped together with the worst offenders so that no distinction can be made between levels of disagreement.

An example of that happening with intersectionality is when it leads to anti-Semitism. Like other forms of racism, there is no excuse for anti-Semitism. But looking at Jews from an all-or-nothing intersectional way in terms of the Occupation has led some to group all Jews together with Whites who enjoy White privilege because of the abusive ways with which Israel has treated the Palestinians. We should note that before Israel was abusing Palestinians, Western Christians were abusing the Jews and that went on for centuries. Thus, Western Christianity is also partly responsible for Palestinians being abused. But note the different ways in which that responsibility is laid out.
In addition, intersectionality does not recognize those Jews who oppose the abusing of Palestinians but hold on to their identity. So what causes that abuse? Is it the same things that cause those who are too closely tied to intersectionality to embrace anti-Semitism? That leads to another weakness not just of intersectionality, but of all who become too ideological. They can only see the speck in the eyes of others while being resistant to even hearing about the log in their own eyes.
Take Carter's devout commitment to free trade as can be read on the Acton blog. He makes no room for those who see free trade as following Cain's rhetorical question: 'Am I my brother's keeper'? Rather, it is the structure of the market that protects all of the stakeholders from abuse when the rules are followed and thus needs little to no government interference. This is an example of an ideology that Carter has embraced. Does he see how his ideology prevents him from seeing economic facts on the ground for all stakeholders of the economy? No.

In addition, Carter says that one problem with intersectionality is that its adherents demand others to conform to their world view. But what is the difference between them and Christians, who for centuries, worked to keep the LGBT community in the margins and fought against equality for that community? There is nothing in the New Testament that says that we can't accept what the Scriptures say against homosexuality while allowing equality for the LGBT community in society. Nothing. And yet...

Does Carter see his inconsistencies with the sound observations he has made about intersectionality? If not, is it because he too is too much of an ideologue?


April 3

To Shaun Rieley and his blogpost about what causes tyranny in America and its discourse. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

There are some very good points made in trying to define tyranny, but there is a problem in trying to define what is arbitrary in terms of defining laws. The sound of the word would at least suggest that there is a random component in defining laws. But if we return to what was defined as tyranny, we find that such is not the case. Laws made under tyranny are not random, they are purposeful. Their purpose is to give one set of people advantages over the rest. Their purpose is to define a privileged group where the rest of the groups can be or are marginalized. Thus there is a lack of fairness and equality that would cause those with power to act with self-restraint because they are under the same constraints as everyone else.

This brings us to what is claimed to be tyranny's Kryptonite. What is stated below is that tyranny's Kryptonite is putting into place the right laws which is somewhat right and somewhat wrong. Thus, the above article states the following:

Rather, tyranny was obtained when the government failed to “govern in justice and mercy, according to the laws and constitution derived to them from the God of nature and transmitted to them by their ancestors”—a very conservative justification for revolution, if ever there was any it seems. For Adams, it seems that a government which rules in a way which is incommensurate with the rule of law and, it should be noted, not just any law as legal positivists would assert, but “true” law, or the law of the “God of nature…transmitted…by [our] ancestors”—is illegitimate and can be justly changed.

If tyranny, then, is identical with arbitrary rule, and if the remedy to arbitrary rule is the rule of law, then law—true law—is essential to the ordering of any society. As Bruce Frohnen has stated “we instinctively understand that there is a kind of prescriptive moral legitimacy to all law because it is, in fact, necessary to establish order, the first need of all.”[6] This does not, of course, mean that laws are just simply because they exist. But law, rightly understood, will derive its legitimacy from its cultural moorings. Mr. Frohnen continues: “Law tends to rule, and justice to be done, when culturally rooted, rational expectations are upheld.”[7] “At its root, the rule of law recognizes reciprocity between rulers and ruled.”[8] The rule of law, then, limits the ability of rulers to be arbitrary, particularly in a self-serving manner.

Now though the last two sentences make excellent points, we need to consider what is said before that. So the first thing we should observe is when the writer says that laws are given to us 'from the God of nature' and passed down through our ancestors. This point creates a real possibility for conflict and then tyranny. Why? Because 1) Wanting to pass down such laws will create a battle for who gets to be recognized as the proper spokespeople for the God of nature; and 2) Eventually, this subjects us to a dictatorship by the the past.

To prove point #1 we should only note the divisions in both Christianity and Islam which are based on competition for which group will get recognized for its proper ties to the past. And for both religions, battles resulting from such competition have been very bloody. And we should note that the group that gets recognized for "having" proper ties to the past will then have to marginalize all others to maintain its place. This marginalization results in tyranny.

To show point #2, we should note that changes in society will automatically cause conflict between the old and the new. There will be limited to no chances to respond to changes in society by changing the rules. And this becomes the second cause for the marginalization of all other groups which results in tyranny.
So what the writer, in citing Frohnen, unwittingly does is to show how a conservative tyranny can be established. For as society changes and some of the traditions and conservative values of the past are replaced or eliminated and fewer people align themselves with conservative values and traditions, conservatives will be more hard pressed to force their ways on society and to show scorn for how others have rejected the "right" traditions. And when conservatives do this while paying such close attention to sexual issues and while painting the world in a black-white way, they are doing nothing more than exercising authoritarianism to preserve a level of comfort for themselves.

There are better preventative steps to stave off tyranny. For to prevent tyranny, we must show solidarity with those who are different, especially the vulnerable, and look to share society with others as equals, rather than attempting to exercise some degree of paternalism because things ain't what they use to be. But such is a more progressive way of doing things than a conservative way. And here we should note that just as not everything that is new is wrong, neither is everything that is old is wrong. But it is deciding on which new ideas should be welcomed and which old ideas should be held on to. And that is a job for all in society, not any group that claims to be a vanguard.


April 4

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on how protectionism attacks human dignity. He cites the words of the economist Donald J. Boudreaux to support his case. This appeared in the Acton Blog.

Let's take a look at the logic being cited here. Economist David J. Boudreaux said:

People take pride in their work,” these protectionists observe. “If trade causes them to lose their jobs, they’ll lose their dignity. And preventing honest, hardworking people from losing their dignity is reason enough to restrict trade...

Essential to a producer’s self-respect and dignity is the belief that he earns his living honestly. The producer takes justified pride in his work not merely because that work pays him well but because that work is socially useful.

Protectionism, however, destroys this source of pride — or, it would destroy this source of pride if protected producers understood the nature of protectionism. Protectionism allows a handful of producers to earn incomes not by serving consumers but, instead, by being served by consumers. Protectionism is a policy, enforced with threats of violence, that prevents consumers from spending their incomes in ways that promote their own best interests; protectionism is a policy of forcing consumers to spend their incomes in ways that promote the interests of current producers.

In the above statement, a blanket assertion about protectionism is made. That it destroys the source of workers' pride because of the 'nature of protectionism.' But industries have developed in different nations because of protectionism. In other words, baseball players between around 8 to 12 play Little League baseball rather than American Legion ball. And baseball players who are in high school don't play college ball. And those past those ages aren't sent to Major League Baseball until they are ready to compete at that level. What Boudreaux's cited logic says if applied to baseball would be that those beginning to play the game should not be protected by being given time to develop both physically and in terms of skill. Rather, they should immediately play Major League Baseball lest their accomplishments at the lower levels be discredited and their dignity be hurt by their less than Major League Baseball status.

There are different reasons and circumstances why protectionism is employed. And sometimes, it is employed for the cited reason above. Adam Smith recognized this as he wrote against the mercantilism of his time and place. However, protectionism can also allow nations to develop their own industries from scratch or protect those industries which are vital to a nation's economy and its people. Otherwise, the global market would eliminate every nation's economic self-rule. Thus, protectionism can benefit a nation as well as hurt it. It all depends on the current circumstances and how protectionism is designed to function.

Those who over simplify protectionism want promote a global economy based on free trade. But all that does is to give the economic part of each nation into the hands of the wealthiest in the world, some of whom are from other nations. Certainly a global economy is necessary and there should be free trade when it benefits all and is freely embraced by the people of the participating nations. But when a global economy based on free trade commandeers a nation's economic self-rule, there is no longer free trade. Rather, it acts as an economic invasion, such as the attempted one seen in the movie Independence Day, the first one that is, robbing the people of that nation from self-rule.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost on how socialism wrecked Brazil. In that blogpost is a short video that claimed that Brazil’s problems, including with corruption, started with the election of a Socialist leader in 2002, This appeared in the Acton Blog.

This post is confusing in a few ways. First, though Brazil has state run companies, its economy is classified as being a free market   economy that is "organized along capitalist lines" by economywatch.com. It is not a socialist economy. In addition, Brazil's political system itself is not socialistic though some elected officials claim to be.

Second, if what was said about Brazil is true by the speaker here, then one of the faults to be found is not in increasing social spending, but in how much social spending was increased.
Third, Socialism does not have a monopoly on government corruption. In America's capitalist system, our government officials do quite well financially at the expense of the public. And much of our federal debt is the result of corporate, not personal, welfare. From laws and policies to tax breaks to military spending to underwriting Wall Street to a health insurance law that primarily benefited insurance companies to the revolving door that exists between public service and lucrative jobs in the private sector, our politicians have done quite well for themselves. In addition we should note that political corruption in Brazil existed before a Socialist was elected President of Brazil (see http://www.panoramas.pitt.edu/politics/brazils-long-history-corruption and http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rae/v39n3/v39n3a04.pdf  and http://www3.nd.edu/~undpress/excerpts/P01452-ex.pdf).

Fourth, if the Sanders' socialism is the socialism being cited as an example, we need to realize that what Sanders was simply an FDR new dealer, not a socialist. And America benefited from FDR's programs. Also, here it seems that conservatives equate socialism with big government and large social spending. The problem is that that is not socialism. For in Socialism, at least from the Marxist tradition, redistribution of power is its primary goal, not redistribution of wealth. And in that redistribution of power, power is shifted from the bourgeoisie to the workers. So the size and spending of government does not make it Socialist, it is who is in control of government as well as the workplace that determines whether a system is socialist. But if we want to focus on the redistribution of wealth, we should note that here in America, there has been quite a redistribution of wealth from the public sector and from workers to the upper class, the 1% in particular. And wealth disparity keeps increasing here.

So again, I find this post confusing.

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