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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5

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Friday, February 23, 2018

Is The Billy Graham Rule Made To Be Broken?

Part of the late Billy Graham's legacy is something called 'the Billy Graham rule.' What is that rule? It is described in a recent article from The Independent (click here for the article).

Actually, there were a few rules that were made by Billy Graham and fellow Christian associates, not just one. These rules were made to protect traveling preachers from falling to some common temptations that fellow traveling Christian preachers were prone to fall to because of their jobs. The two most prominent temptations dealt with by traveling evangelists were with the mishandling of money and perceived opportunities to commit adultery. So the Billy Graham rule, or should be rules, was meant to prevent traveling evangelists from falling to temptations that were part of the territory of being traveling evangelists.

The rule itself states that Billy Graham, and others who followed his example, did not dine, travel, or get together alone with any women other than the wife. And though that rule has received much scoffing from non-Christians, it makes sense for those for whom the rule was made. After all, the rule was made for those evangelists who could be more easily tempted because of the time they spent away from their wives. In addition, in terms of personal integrity and protecting the reputation of the Gospel, it is far better that these evangelists be mocked for following what seems to be an archaic rule than to fall to temptation.

But how should Christian men who are not traveling evangelists react to the rule? Must they follow it as well or are they allowed to do what these traveling evangelists were prohibited from doing? The answer lies in the context of the making of the rule itself. The rule was made for those who are fairly vulnerable to give in to sexual temptations. And here, each Christian man must judge himself and only himself. If he feels that he is fairly vulnerable to falling to sexual temptation for whatever reason, then following the Billy Graham rule makes sense.

But not all Christian men are so vulnerable. Must those who are not as vulnerable follow the Billy Graham rule too? And should those who follow it judge those who don't? The obvious answer to both questions is 'no.' They could choose to follow the rule if they want but there is no merit in doing so. In fact, feeling compelled to follow it can indicate that they have, for whatever reason, mistakenly believe that women want to have sex with them. Thus, the rule itself can communicates a false message about women to the men who follow the rule and others; for it could communicate projection by some men of their own desires and thus a transfer of blame from themselves to women.

Now what is missed in following the rule? What is missed are opportunities to learn from women and our friendships with them. My own experiences tell me that we men have much to learn from women. We have much personal support to gain from female friendships. We also have opportunities to give personal support to female peers by not following the Billy Graham rule. In addition, there is far more to male-female relationships than sex. We have much to offer to each other outside of sex. And perhaps, that lesson will help prevent some of the pent-up sexual tension that comes merely from false expectations. But perhaps the most important lesson that can be learned by those for whom it is appropriate to break the Billy Graham rule is with nonsexual, mutually supported relationships between men and women, men are more likely to learn that women are our equals.


Non-Christians who scoff at the rule show a certain ignorance. A man can be more vulnerable to fall to sexual temptation when a man is alone and has been away from his wife for, what seems to him to be, long periods of time. And those Christian men who think of their following of the rule as a badge of honor share some of that same ignorance. At the same time, they also miss out on what female friends can teach us with their examples and wisdom.



 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For February 21, 2018

Feb 19

To Joe Carter and his blogpost that asks if Capitalism can be saved from the conservatives who hate it. This appeared in the Acton blog.

Having read the whole article cited, there are two questions that should have been asked rather than the one in the title. First, can democracy and capitalism coexist? Second, can capitalism be saved from itself?

The first question asks whether we can have a true democracy while embracing capitalism. That partially depends  on how we define democracy. For if democracy is merely reduced to the people having the right to vote for their leaders, then the answer is 'yes.' But then we would also have to look at more examples of democracies than we might care to. For there are many nations that allow their people to vote for their leaders but restrict who can run for office. Such situations puts voters in voting cattle chutes that either the voting shows that election winners have a false level of support and/or the voters will constantly vote for the lesser of  evils. People can vote for their leaders in Iran, but does Iran have a working democracy? The same can be asked of Russia.

Now if democracy includes along with the mechanisms that allow people to vote for their leaders a state of being where people share society with others as equals, then we have more to consider. Jeff Halper, from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition (ICAHD), has noted that ethnocracies, that is nations with some sort of majority in terms of national identity, race, language, religion, and so forth which seizes a privileged place of control over government, even if they use democratic processes to accomplish this, has become an ethnocracy. In such a situation, society isn't shared with others as equals because one group's control over government is used to maintain that privileged position at the expense of the rights and welfare of the other groups.

The question then becomes, are there other categories of groups, besides the ones Halper associated with ethnocracies, that can do the same? For example, another category of groups is economic class. What if one economic class seized a privileged position of control over our government over the other classes? We could call such a situation a classocracy. And considering how some are starting to question whether we have transitioned from a democracy to an oligarchy (see  http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746  ), asking if we have a classocracy becomes a legitimate question to ask.

We should also note that the structure of one of the mainstays of our capitalist economic system, the corporation, lends itself to authoritarianism and the centralization of power. How is it that the leadership of our corporations will not seek to exercise a similar kind of control over government that they have over their employees especially when increasing profits are at stake? And since most of the people employed by those corporations are ruled over by authoritarians, what choices are these employees able to make?

Then we come to the second question of whether capitalism can be save from capitalism. Here we should note, from the article cited by Carter, that the free market is based on the maximization of individual freedom. But such a description is misleading. For the free market maximizes the privileges for freedom - equality = privilege. Thus, what we are really talking about is the maximization of privilege for the market's elite performers. Note that we can't say that freedom is being maximized because voting in the free market is based on a one dollar per one vote rather than a one person per one vote scenario. And since, in capitalist nations, political power follows wealth, those with the most wealth have the most political power. And those with the most power then tend to use that power to maintain the status quo rather than to make changes to the status quo which protects and give political voice to all the others. As the non-elite groups suffer from the rule of the elitesit can lead to a dystopias if not revolutions.
While conservatives considered FDR to have enacted "socialist" policies, leftists had a different view.  They view FDR's policies as having saved capitalism from itself because it made it at least tolerable to those who otherwise might have revolted or, at least, become unmanageable.

What we see today is simply an Ayn Rand coup of our government which celebrates this maximizing of individual freedom without accounting for the consequences that are experienced by others. That coup is empowering those with the most power to act more and more selfishly. We should note that America is still experiencing a long-term increase in wealth disparity. And we should note that our society is becoming more and more violent. In addition, the way of life which our capitalism has promoted is destroying the environment and thus any kind of satisfying way of life for future generations.

So the real question is, can capitalism be saved from itself.

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Feb 20

To Gary Gregg II and his blogpost praising Ronald Reagan as the greatest modern American Presidents. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

Link to cited article on whether Capitalism can be saved from Conservatives

As Gregg cited prejudice as a reason for why Schlessinger's survey did not rank Reagan as high as the ISI survey rated him, we might want to note the prejudice with which Gregg writes his article. That prejudice is found in his selective use of facts.

Gregg wants to cite Reagan as the greatest of the modern presidents using the ISI survey. I guess that Eisenhower, who was also ranked on the same level was not considered by Gregg .  But what impressed Gregg about Reagan?

Gregg talks about Reagan's ending of the Cold War through a philosophy of 'peace through strength.' He also 'encouraged' prosperity and helped his political party recover from its previous state and break control over the House of Representatives by the Democratic Party. He was instrumental in getting others to end 'big government.' And he taught, by example, the republicanism's tenets of self government along with leading a moral revolution of his own.

When one goes through that list, how could Reagan not be consider to be a great President? Again, the analysis of Reagan provided by Gregg and also the ISI survey team is only as good as the data they worked with. And what is missing from that data is first the consequences of Reagan's  self government and reduction of the reach of the Federal government approach. For Reagan, reducing government size applied only to social safety nets and reductions in taxes and regulations. But what were some of the other results of Reagan's shrinking of government? One non-result was the standard living. It did not improve from the time period of 1950 to 1980. Neither did the poverty rate. However, income inequality did increase (see https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8500951  ). In addition, the National Debt rose much faster under Reagan than under previous presidents. We should note that the National Debt nearly tripled under Reagan's presidency while the National Debt-GDP ratio increased in all but the first year of his presidency and went from 31% to 49%.

The damage that Reagan did to unions has lived far past the tenure of his administration. But something else should be noted. The reduction in the reach of government at home, which is widely celebrated by some conservatives, resulted in increases the reach of private elites, who are not subject to the accountability that democratic processes affords. Remember that the S&L crisis occurred during Reagan's presidency just as the economic crisis of 2008 occurred during Bush II's presidency. Both presidencies saw an decrease in regulations. In addition, Reagan's 'peace through strength' expanded the reach of the US in the world. Thus we have the conservative celebration at the reduction of government power at home but a celebration of the increase of our government's power abroad.

As for Reagan's moral character, one should consider his administration's mixed record on Pinochet and Chilé--should note that Pinochet was indicted for crimes against humanity in how he treated his own people after a coup established him as Chilé's military dictator.. After the State Department had decided, during Reagan's 2nd term, in favor of ending Pinochet's reign and partially restoring democracy, it was so determined so long as US interests, which most often refers to business interests, would be helped by such a return to democracy. But it was not the kind of democracy Chilé practiced before Pinochet took over. For the multiple political party democracy that existed prior to Pinochet was regarded as an 'adventurism.' Political ideologies and parties that the US opposed were not allowed to participate (see http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/159267 ).

Or another sign of Reagan's  moral side came with his full support of terrorists like Osama Bin Laden and others in Afghanistan. He called these men 'freedom fighters' even though they were conducting terrorist attacks in the nation in order to draw the Soviet Union into a Vietnam kind of war and outcome. Under Reagan we had the Iran-Contra affair in which arms sales to, what was considered to be an enemy nation, Iran was used to fund support for the Contras despite the Boland Amendment that outlawed such sales.

And speaking of the Contras, the US was condemned by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for  the actions it sponsored which were conducted by the Contras in Nicaragua as the US vigorously tried to over throw the Sandinista government. The specific actions included mining Nicaraguan harbors, which was a terrorist act. Other terrorist acts against soft targets in Nicaragua were also executed by the US-supported Contras.

Still another side of Reagan's morality could be seen in his support for Saddam Hussein even when he was committing atrocities (See http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/08/26/exclusive-cia-files-prove-america-helped-saddam-as-he-gassed-iran/ ).

We could also include America's support and training of military and paramilitary  forces from El Salvador. Those troops committed numerous atrocities to the extent of causing the beginnings of the MS-13 gang.
Thus, today we are dealing with at least 2 significant problems that were either the result of Reagan's policies or a reaction to them. The former saw the formation of the Taliban and other terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda as a result of foreign policies pursued by the Reagan Administration. The latter resulted in the formation of the vary dangerous MS-13 gang. Both are unsung parts of the Reagan legacy. Reagan's successful attacks on unions has contributed to the ever increasing wealth disparity in the US.

Certainly there are other events to add to the ones just listed. But it appears that those products of the Reagan Administration were not counted by the ISI in determining Reagan's performance as President.

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To Joseph Sunde and his blogpost, which was mistitled, about the purpose of economists. This appeared in the Acton blog.

We should note that the title of the article said it was about economics, but the content focused on economists. So besides the title of the article being misnamed, it seems that  the role of economists is not adequately defined here. Why? Because it seems that explaining economic science is done from a single economic ideology. That ideology is neoliberalism. And we should note several things here. First, economics is a behavioral science, not a physical science and that is regardless of the mathematics involved. Mathematics is also heavily used in other social sciences and so citing its dependence on math does not remove economics from the field of the behavioral sciences. Rather, economics includes a study of human behavior within certain spheres of society and human life and the impact that behavior has on society as a whole and groups of people. And as a behavioral science, it is far more difficult to isolate variables in economic studies than it is in many of the physical sciences.

Second, as a behavioral science, understanding the behavior of those in business must always include an adequate description of the context in which an economy functions. Thus, what works in one contextual setting doesn't always work in other settings. We should also note that economists should educate people as to the strengths and weakness of each of the various economic ideologies. There are a number of different economic ideologies besides the one our society and nation employs now.

We should also note that what often passes as economics is merely commerce (for the difference between the two, see http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-economics-and-vs-commerce/ ). Economics is a broader field of study that includes public policies, government and should include the physical and social impacts of business on people and their different environments.

Since there is no adequate definition of economics given here, it would be hard to ascertain the difference between commerce and economics from reading this article. But more than that, because there is no adequate definition of economics given here, neither is there an adequate description of how economists should relate to the public.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Florida Shooting And The Future

We've all been exposed to too many stories like the shooting that recently took place in a Florida high school. There is the access to the weapons that our nation's founders who passed the 2nd Amendment never foresaw which were used to make people who kill people more efficient and productive in committing their atrocities. There is an unresponsive Congress whose members are owned by the NRA and/or various corporate interests. That would make those members of Congress professionals at praying when they send their condolences to the victims of these atrocities. And we have the continually increasing disillusionment with government experienced by more and more of its people. That disillusionment led to the election of Trump who continues the cycle by continuing to fail all of us.

Grieving and enraged high school students are now organizing protests for March 24 (click here for the event's website) and April 20. And in this, they are doing what many of us baby boomers did in the 1960s and that is encouraging. But lest we get too excited, we need to look at today's remaining baby boomers to see where their activism and political priorities are. Are we still as concerned about equality and peace as they were when we were young?

Hopefully the welcomed activism that high school students want to practice becomes a gateway drug to activism for other causes. But if baby boomers provide any indication for the future of these high school students,  then their future involvement in causes will dissipate once these high school students become part of the status quo.

And so to these high school students I say this: we not only need your leadership and help in resolving the moral quagmire that is our government's well sponsored stance on the lack of gun control, we need you to show us how to be involved in moral causes and social justice issues even after you become part of the status quo. We need you to do that because we have failed miserably at continuing our activism.



 

Monday, February 19, 2018

ONIM For February 19, 2018

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use  mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of most of the stories linked to here.

Christian News


World News


Israel-Palestine News


Donald Trump News


Pick(s) Of The Litter



Friday, February 16, 2018

The Road Not Taken In Forming A Biblical Liberation Theology

The Social Gospel, Social Justice, and Liberation Theology has long been considered a nemesis for people who come from my theological background: the Reformed tradition. This is a point that has been made over and over again by Reformed theologians and Donny Friedrichsen (click here for a very brief bio) provides no exception to that rule. 

On the Reformation 21 website, Friedrichsen has written an article that continues in the Reformed Theological tradition of rejecting Liberation Theology for several reasons (click here for the article). Those reasons include Liberaation Theology's penchant for subjectivity over against the objective truth of God's Word and for physical and personal relief from human oppression as the definition of salvation over against being reconciled with God through faith in the redemptive work of Christ. And while Dispensationalists wrongly name Covenant Theology as 'Replacement Theology' because they see that theology replacing the role of Israel in the story of redemption with the Church, the Reformed rejection of Liberation Theology is out of fear that personal salvation from sin is being replaced by a salvation that physically delivers people from being oppressed and exploited by other people. And tragically speaking, that becomes the basis for the wholesale rejection of Liberation Theology by many a Christian from not only a Reformed tradition, but by other fellow religiously conservative Christian traditions.

Friedrichsen starts off by admitting his ignorance of what Liberation Theology and Black Liberation Theology say. So he lists the references he will use to study the subject. Those references include Introducing Liberation Theology by Clodovis Boff, A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone, and Liberating Black Theology by Anthony Bradley. He also references A Theology Of Liberation By Gustovo Gutierrez. We should note that the first, second, and last books promote some kind of Liberation Theology while the third book takes an antagonistic position against Liberation Theology. 

Now while Friedrichsen acknowledges Liberation Theology concern for the poor and oppressed. in the end, he rejects the theology based on his own understanding of Reformed Theology. Though I cannot speak to whether he accurately represented what the references he used to explain  Liberation Theology, his critique of what he understood seemed very solid in terms of what the Scriptures teach.

So does that mean that I would fully recommend Friedrichsen's critique here? Not really. That is because his critique of Liberation Theology has too two problems. But those faults lie far more in what he doesn't say about Liberation Theology than in what he says. 


His first problem is that he doesn't seem to acknowledge how the deliverance that Liberation Theology attempts to bring to people is Biblical. Liberation Theology's problem rests not in the salvation it seeks to bring but in how it markets that salvation. By marketing that salvation as the salvation brought to us by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Liberation Theology has given an ultimatum to many a religiously conservative Christian. That ultimatum says that one must abandon the definition of salvation as being the forgiveness of sins because of the redemptive work of Christ in order to work for the real salvation that is brought by what Liberation Theology attempts to do. And such an ultimatum relegates the personal salvation that comes by having faith in Christ's redemptive work to that of being insignificant. That is unacceptable.

Friedrichsen also notes the view of anthropology taught by Liberation Theology. In the end, it leads to a victimology. And victimology, according to Anthony Bradley's work, leads to a separatism that leads to accepting the relative morality that is a part of tribalism. To be specific, that relative morality allows a group that has been victimized to accept the same faults from members of their own group that they would condemn if practice by members outside their group. We should note that in the last blogpost from the Comments That Conservatives Block From Their Blogs series, the criticism of victimology often comes from a lack of appreciation for the traumas induced by oppression and exploitation and suffered by its victims (click here and see the comment directed at Joseph Mussomeli's article for a further explanation). 


Fridrichsen also believes that the emphasis on the need for liberation from oppression leads to the idea that victims are not accountable for their own sins. And in the end, it leads to minimizing the crucifixion of Christ to being symbolic rather than being a physical and historical act of redemption. That too must be rejected.

But is there anything in what Liberation Theology preaches that is Biblical. Here, we should note that Liberation Theology is basically offering the same kind of physical deliverance message of salvation that was promised to and accomplished for the Jews in the Old Testament. The Jews were delivered from Pharaoh. The Jews were delivered from the homelessness that was part of their wandering through the wilderness. And once they took the land promised to Abraham, the Jews were protected from their neighbors until their sins became so great that God sent them into exile. But then they were delivered from that exile. So we could say that the kind of salvation offered by Liberation Theology is the same kind of salvation given to the Jews in the Old Testament.

But what we should note about the Old Testament is that it contains shadows of what was to come in Christ in the New Testament. Thus, the Bible relegates this physical salvation to a status that is less significant than the salvation that comes from one's personal redemption through Christ. And here, religiously conservative Christians have returned the Liberation Theology exclusive-or choice between salvation as deliverance from exploitation and physical oppression to adherents of Liberation Theology and, unfortunately, those whom proponents of Liberation Theology would have helped.

In essence, what Liberation Theology is offering is a secular, or societal, salvation. And if that is how Liberation Theology's salvation is marketed, then there should be no objection from those from the Reformed Tradition provided that those from that tradition understand and accept the concept of corporate sin--that is the sin committed by groups like societies and states against groups of people. There should be no objection because when marketing the salvation offered by Liberation Theology as a secular or societal salvation, there becomes no reason why such a salvation should replace the salvation that comes from the forgiveness of one's sins through faith in the redemptive work of Christ. For the secular or societal salvation promised by Liberation Theology is nothing more than promoting justice in the world--'social justice' for political conservatives. And such a promotion of Liberation Theology does contradict believing in Christ for the forgiveness of one's sins. In fact, it should become a necessary part of every Christian's sanctification.

The second problem with what Friedrichsen doesn't say about Liberation Theology is that its preaching against exploitation and oppression should be part of how we participate in the Great Commission. For if in preaching the need for faith in Christ, we also include the need to repent from sin, and if people are sinning by exploiting and/or oppressing others, then we should be preaching against the exploiting or oppressing others to those who are in the position to exploit or oppress others just as much as we would preach against committing adultery by those committing adultery. 


But it isn't just those who, because of their wealth and power, are in the position of exploiting and oppressing others who need to hear about the need for repentance; it is all who are a part of any society or state that exploits and/or oppresses others who also need to hear about the need to repent. For we can't hide from those sins that are committed by the groups we belong to simply because those sins are not individual sins. That is because Romans 12 commands us to be transformed rather than be conformed to the world. And denying those corporate sins we participate in simply because they are not individual sins is part of being conformed to the world. And refusing to step outside the box drawn by our societal and state affiliations to help the victims of our society and state does not show the love of neighbor that the Good Samaritan did in the Good Samaritan parable.

Again, Friedrichsen did a good job in saying what must be rejected in Liberation Theology. What he missed was listing what from Liberation Theology actually fits into our Christian orthodoxy.








Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For February 14, 2018

Feb 9

To Joe Carter and his blogpost on the Dow Jones exchange and other economic tidbits. This appeared in the Acton blog.

There is something missing in what people, not just Christians, should know about the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The Dow, and other exchanges, shows that our economy revolves around the shareholder. And when that is the case, all other stakeholders of the economy are relegated to being mere objects of profit for the good pleasure of the shareholders. And when referring to shareholders here, we should note that since in publicly owned companies, each share gets a vote, those with the most shares, those who have the most  money to invest, get the most votes and thus are able to control the direction and decisions made by any publicly owned company. Those with the least power in such companies are the other stakeholders. The executive board of a given publicly owned company are there to serve the interest of the shareholders with the most say.

We should note something else about publicly owned companies. Only those who have bought stocks that were originally issued by the company have invested their money into the company. Those who bought shares from previous owners gain the political power of those owners but have invested no money into a given publicly owned company. So they are there to garner the profits of the company more so than those who bought shares from the company itself. This can make shareholders the economic equivalent of absentee slumlords.

The de facto purpose of many publicly owned companies is to maximize the ROI for the shareholders--which is part of maximizing profits for a given publicly owned company. Maximizing the ROI for investors and maximizing profits for the company presents themselves as a conflict of interest with paying all employees fair pay and in protecting the environment from any environmental footprint that the operation of the company and use of its products causes. In addition, part of the maximizing ROIs and profits causes companies to employ lobbyists whose job is to get the government to favor their own companies over the rest of the population. And part of getting the government to favor their own companies includes the use of both legal and illegal bribes in the form of providing favors for elected officials and giving campaign contributions to ensure elected officials job security.

Now the ability to make above observations doesn't require one to take any classes in economics. One only needs to read and ask economists a few questions. And the ability to draw implications from the above observations only requires one to employ logic. And so it doesn't take an economist to realize that we have an economy that exists to serve the interests of the wealthy while all others are made into disposable objects for profit. And why we tolerate a system where investors, who never have put a dime into a company, have all the say and workers, some of whom have labored for a company for decades, are mere disposable objects for profit who have no say in the company is a mystery for a nation that once was a "Christian nation" whose scriptures that teach that the love of money is strongly associated with evil. 

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To Caroline Roberts and her blogpost on how Millennials prefer Socialism. This appeared in the Acton blog.

I would agree that Millennials don't know what socialism is. But what is also true is that they could never learn about socialism from its conservative antagonists. For those conservative antagonists of socialism are content both to be  historical opportunists and content to describe socialism as a monolith.

First, what many conservatives called socialism was Bolshevism. And the leader of the revolution that made Bolshevism into Communism was not only criticized by some of his socialist contemporaries for introducing a bourgeoisie dictatorship, Lenin mocked those to the left of him as being 'infantile'--a description that seems some what synonymous with some conservative criticisms of socialism. This, as well as Mao's and Castro's revolutions are what conservative antagonists of Socialism want people to think about when they think about Socialism. Of course, conservative antagonists of Socialism forget that, in Nicaragua, a leftist revolution turned to a democracy rather than continued a dictatorship. In addition,  conservative antagonists forget that many of the leftist revolutions were executed in order to overthrow Capitalist supported dictatorships. Also, conservative antagonists forget that some Socialist leaders were democratically elected by their people. Thus a very selective use of history is opportunistically employed by many conservative antagonists of Socialism.

Second, if many socialists dissented from what Lenin and those who followed him did, how is it that socialism could rightfully viewed as a monolith? And yet, conservative are more than happy to do that. In addition, what helped Bolshevism obtain the power it wanted was due to a walkout of a Socialist Russian Congress by the Mensheviks. In addition, not only did Lenin purge his own Socialist party, he called those on the left who opposed him 'infantile.' Socialist detractors denounced Lenin for the structure of his government and how he ruled. So how is that conservative antagonists of Socialism can honestly portray Socialism as a monolith?

Let's be clear, the number 1 priority of Socialism from the Marxist tradition is the redistribution of power, not wealth, into the hands of workers. Why? It is because the structure of Capitalism relegates workers to that of being disposable objects. So Marx saw the empowering of workers, what he called the 'proletariat dictatorship,' as the way to change society from being controlled by the bourgeoisie to that of his utopian classless society.

Now, one doesn't have to agree with Marx on his belief in a utopian dreams or in the proletariat dictatorship to believe in the empowering of workers. For the closest thing we have to Marxism in the world today can be found in Germany, which has a very successful economy, that has laws called codetermination laws. In those laws, publicly owned companies of varying sizes are required to have certain percentages of workers on a company's executive board. This partial transfer of power from owners/employers to workers partially follows Marx's Socialism. And thus Germany's use of codetermination starts to approach the Marxist socialism that is so demeaned conservative antagonists.

As mentioned before, the monolithic view of socialism is based on some of the socialist revolutions that overthrew dictators who were supported by Capitalists. Those Capitalists that supported the dictators came from both within nations that went through a revolution as well as capitalists from nations like the the US. Emerging socialist leaders who were democratically elected to office often found themselves targeted by the US for regime changes that saw the replacement of democratic processes with dictators who showed favor to American business interests. Such examples can be found in Iran ('53), Guatemala ('54), Brazil (around '64), Greece ('67), and Chile ('73). An example where a leftist revolution that resulted in a democracy but was viciously attacked by terrorists sponsored by the US can be seen in Nicaragua during the 1980s. There are other examples capitalist engineered coups. But none of Capitalism's attacks on democracies and support for dictators ever finds their way into the comments made by conservative antagonists of socialism. I wonder why.

With growing wealth disparity both within nations and between nations along with an economic caste system maintained by the use of  comparative advantage, we see that today's form of Capitalism, which is called neoliberalism, gives more and more power to those with wealth even over their own nations' governments as well as over the governments of other nations. This form of Capitalism is not the same form of Capitalism that followed WW II. And yet, just as conservative antagonists of Socialism refer to Socialism as a monolith, they do the same to Capitalism. Thus, the successes of a previous form of Capitalism, a Keynesian form called the Bretton-Woods system in which egalitarian economic growth was seen in all of America's economic classes even though it was under a state-capitalism model, are attributed to today's neoliberalism. And such dishonesty can fly under the radar for most people because they are preoccupied with other matters and rely on the stereotypes of economic systems provided by conservative defenders of not just Capitalism, but of neoliberalism.

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Feb 10

To Joseph Mussomeli and his article protesting victimology and what he sees as other inappropriate reactions to past oppressions. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

What is apparent in the above article is that once oppression stops, the writer of the article expects the victim to think and act as if the oppression never existed. And it isn't just Mussomeli who expects that; it is those groups who oppressed others who believe that as well. Such an expectation is the wishful thinking of all oppressors and their allies everywhere. For such an expectation basically says that though the oppression suffered was wrong, it was really not so bad that there should be long-term aftereffects. Such an expectation is at least a denial of the full guilt that should be felt by the oppressors.

After all, we are talking about centuries of severe marginalization for Blacks and the LGBT community in this nation--of course, let's not forget Native Americans and other minorities. And that marginalization, though significantly reduced, is still in effect today. We still have significant racism in our nation. And though same-sex marriage is now legal, the LGBT community is far from experiencing an equal status in society in many places in our nation.

If we were to look at the marginalization and oppression of different groups as we look at severe traumas, we wouldn't be surprised at what some would call overreactions and/or overcompensation for past wrongs. So why should we be upset by what conservatives call 'victimology'? This is an important question because the term itself is just meant to demean the degree of past suffering certain groups experienced for very long periods of time. We shouldn't be upset at 'victimology' and other reactions to past and current oppression by those who have been oppressed and marginalized because they are exhibiting normal human reactions to past, and unfortunately still current, horrific conditions.

The above article shows more concern for the sensitive feelings of groups guilty of being oppressors than it is concerned for the reactions of victims that have gone too far. And considering that those groups of oppressors consist mainly of white, male Christians, what we see is that an appropriate repentance has never been experienced  by my fellow white, male Christians. Rather, what we is a tribal response that only guarantees future conflicts and thus crushes all hopes for any kind of real resolution. And worst of all, what we see is a case being made by these white, male Christians that says: "Even though we made mistakes, we still deserve our place of supremacy over all others.."






Tuesday, February 13, 2018

When The Times Are A Changing But The Leaders Are Not

Whether or not we believe the claim by US officials who were traveling with Pence that he was not snubbing North Korean representatives, one thing is for sure: the U.S. is still seeking a parental role in how it interacts with other nations. That has been the case for a long time as the U.S.  has continually ordained itself as the leader of the free world. And here we should note that such a description is an oxymoron. Those nations that are free don't need other nations to lead them. And those nations that lead other nations are not leading free nations.

What the press saw as representing America was Pence's snubbing of North Korea at the Olympics. This snubbing took place when Pence refused to stand for the united Korea team as it entered the stadium. It also took place when Pence skipped a dinner by walking out early where the North Korean delegation was present.

The claim of U.S. officials, who were traveling with Pence, that Pence did not snub the North Koreans is simply not credible. For if Pence only stood for the American team, the one he is rooting for, then he snubbed most of the world as well as the North Koreans. The Olympics are about more than just winning; the Olympics are about bringing the world together to compete in ways that promote peace and good will. The two Koreas understood that by combining their teams. But Pence apparently does not understand that.


But the walking out on the dinner early so as to not sit with the North Koreans can't be explained in any other way that that of deliberately snubbing Noth Korea. And if we add to that the stern threats of imposing stricter sanctions on North Korea, it all but cements the role that the U.S. is taking in the world. The U.S. is seeking to lead other nations as a parent would try to manage one's children include a difficult child. And either the other nations in the world are peers with the U.S. and thus showing that the U.S. is not their leader, or the U.S. expects the other nations of the world to submit to it as children submit to their parents showing that the world the America leads is not free.

But times are a changing. And two things that show that the times are a changing are: first, that the two Koreas cooperated with each other to compete as one nation andthey did that without any assistance from the U.S. shows a growing independence from America; and second, technology is creating more military parity between the nations.

That second thing that shows that the world is changing can be seen in North Korea's military power. It is a nuclear power. And outside of war or self-isolation from the world, there isn't much that America can do about it in the long term. Here we should note that with nuclear weapons, North Korea is approaching a military parity with the U.S. That parity doesn't mean that North Korea has the navy, army, or air force we have. And that doesn't mean that North Korea has the nuclear arsenal we have. But what it does mean is that North Korea now has a powerful deterrent it could resort to if another nation was thinking of attacking it. So what that the U.S. could obliterate North Korea while North Korea may only be able to take out a few cities. That North Korea could take out a few of our cites means that our leaders should have more reason to pause than ever when considering taking military actions against North Korea. And since technology makes the proliferation of WMDs inevitable, what we are seeing today with the changing relationship between North Korea and America, is what we will see in America's relationships with other nations and actors tomorrow.

Back in the mid 1950s, a divided nation, with the help of the international community, decided on using a democratic process to decide on reunification. That decision was included in the Geneva Accords. But the leader of the free world didn't agree with the decision and that was followed by South Vietnam refusing to sign the Geneva Accords despite participating in the discussions. And so a war continued, war hat began when America tried to help France recolonize Vietnam, as the U.S.  continued to send advisors and back a dictatorship in South Vietnam. Some 20-plus years after starting to help the French, America was still mired in Vietnam only now it sent much of its military there rather than just some advisors. And tens of thousands of Americans died because of that intervention along with millions of Vietnamese civilians.

It's not just the future that is telling America to change its role in the world, it is the present. But Pence's snubbing of the North Korea team and delegation does not bode well in America's response to the world.