Friday, September 15, 2006

Aloha, Mr. King, I am So Wasted! And What is a Conservative, Really?

Conservatives thoroughly understand liberalism for the simple reason that most conservatives probably started out liberal, as did I. But the reverse is not true. Only now do I realize that all of my received ideas about conservatism--from the MSMistry of Truth, from the looniversity bin of academia, and from the culture at large--were not just wrong, but crazy. Similarly, when I hear liberals describe the secret motivations of conservatives today, it’s almost always kooky talk, bearing no relationship to reality. After all, they’re talking about me, and I know me pretty well.

For example, we recently had a liberal visitor to One Cosmos who has repeatedly called me a jack-booted nazi who wishes to murder people with whom I disagree. He is annoyed because I will not debate him on the matter. But how does one respond to such unalloyed mooonbattery? One cannot respond, because this is an apperception, not a perception. In other words, it is pure projection, a type of thinking that is not based on any actual facts about me or about conservatism. I am by definition what he says I am, which is another way of saying that, for whatever reason, he has an emotional need to experience me in the way he does. Again, I understand this process because I was the same way when I was an untutored moonbat in the clutches of conventional wisdom.

Last night a representative of this kind of pseudo-thinking was on Larry King Live, Sean Penn. I rarely watch television, but I watched the entire program because I was fascinated by the prospect of a prototypical moonbat mind being given free rein to air his views in an entirely uncensored manner. Larry King was the perfect interviewer, because he is so utterly vacuous that he lulls the guest into free-associating in an unguarded manner, whereas even a raised eyebrow or cocked head might have reminded Penn that reality exists. It’s the same technique a therapist uses with a paranoid patient, except consciously. If you betray your understanding that the patient is crazy, they immediately clam up.

If you actually read the transcript, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but in the course of the interview, Penn accused President Bush of bringing fascism to America, of “devastating our democracy,” of doing “enormous damage to mankind,” and waging a bogus war on terror to “distract us from reality.” In 2002 it was to distract us from Enron, whereas now it is to distract us from “another situation” (although in classic paranoid fashion, he didn’t say what the situation was; I think he means that Bush is waging the bogus war on terror to distract us from the fact that he is waging a bogus war on terror). Penn also discussed his friendship with Fidel Castro, who confided to him over dinner that he thought sanctions against Iran were a bad idea, because the American sanctions against him had helped keep in in power (I know, it makes no sense).

Since I admire President Bush, it stands to reason that I am either hopelessly naive, or else I too am a fascist who wants to wage a bogus war in order to conceal my real agenda of destroying democracy and damaging mankind. Never mind that I and President Bush specifically want to create a democracy in the Middle East so that human beings in the Islamic world actually have the opportunity to achieve their potential instead of living as slaves.

Penn suggested that he too would pick up arms if the United States were invaded. First of all, if he is correct, the U.S. is being invaded by fascists, and yet, he somehow feels safe enough to verbally attack the fascists on national TV. Probably not very smart. But Penn is also saying that if he were an Iraqi, he would side with the fascist insurgency against the democratic liberators. Really stupid.

(Mr. Hand: "Am I hallucinating here? Just what in the hell do you think you're doing?" Spicoli: "Learning about Cuba. Having some food. Rappin' with Mr. King.")

*****

Penn and my moonbat commenter have their own implacable fantasies about conservatism, but what is it really? I am of the view that conservatism is an inclination, temperament, or “cast of mind” as much as it is any set doctrine. And this is why the movement is so diverse, containing ideological factions that may lack superficial commonality, say, traditionalists and libertarians. But on a deeper level, it has been said that conservatism is “an inclination to cherish the permanent things in existence,” which I think is as good a definition as any. As such, conservatives are naturally distrustful of radical schemes to alter society and perfect mankind. As Robert Frost wrote, “Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor.”

Temperamental conservatives also have much more of an appreciation of the dark side of mankind, and an understanding of the fine line between civilization and barbarity. You don’t have to literally believe in original sin to appreciate how much wisdom there is in such a view, especially when compared to the inveterate liberal naiveté about human character. Evil is not merely an “accident of history” or “the creation of a few antisocial men,” but the “immemorial tendency of man to do the wrong thing when he knows the right thing” and to “define value in terms of his own interests” (in Nash ).

Liberals tend to view human being as basically good, which is why they are so naive about human evil and impervious to real-world feedback about the failure of their ideas. For most liberal programs to be effective--say, pre-reform welfare--you must assume at the outset that people are basically good and won’t abuse the system. But liberal programs typically put in place a structure of incentives that encourages people to act out their greed and selfishness in antisocial ways. The whole point of free market capitalism is that it acknowledges self-interest and greed at the outset, providing it a with pro-social outlet without anyone having to force the issue from on high. Yes, tinkering at the edges of capitalism is fine, so long as you think things through and realize that most of your tinkering will make matters worse, not better (which was true of the vast majority of FDR's counterproductive ideas--not to mention LBJ).

The conservative mind is also more likely to be endowed with a tragic sense of life, which spurs the transcendental imagination. In the absence of this transcendental reality, we are reduced to a horizontal, secularized mind “for which material existence is everything and spiritual life is nothing” and “all that is symbolic becomes ever more incomprehensible” (Lindbom, in Kirk). And without the tragic sense of life, one will be much more inclined to think that life should (or could) be fair; in short, it nurtures the victim mentality.

Russell Kirk summarized the six canons of conservative thought as

1. Belief in a transcendent order; and that most political problems are moral problems resulting from bad values. (To cite an obvious example, if Hispanic or Black Americans adopted Asian American values, they would be just as successful--unless you are a liberal who believes that intelligence is a function of race.)

2. Appreciation of the mystery of existence, and with it, opposition to the tedious uniformity, egalitarianism, and utilitarian aims of of most radical systems.

3. An understanding that liberty and equality are contradictory aims; a belief that there are distinctions between men and that classes will emerge naturally and spontaneously in a free society. “If natural distinctions are effaced among men, oligarchs fill the vacuum.”

4. A belief that property and freedom are intimately linked. “Economic leveling... is not economic progress.”

5. Distrust of radical schemes by liberal intellectuals “who would reconstruct society upon abstract designs” that simply mask the intellectual’s lust for power.

6. Recognition that change and reform are not synonymous, and that “prudent change is the means of social preservation.”

Contemporary liberalism has entirely different assumptions and attacks the social order on the following grounds:

1. “The perfectibility of man”; the belief that education, environment or legislation “can produce men like gods; they deny that humanity has a natural proclivity towards violence and sin.”

2. Contempt for tradition. “Formal religion is rejected and various ideologies are presented as substitutes.”

3. Political leveling: “Order and privilege are condemned,” accompanied by “an eagerness for centralization and consolidation.”

4. Economic leveling: “The ancient rights of property... are suspect to almost all radicals.”

I used to believe the latter four points. I now affirm the first six. But only because I secretly wish to destroy mankind and put more holes in Sean Penn's aluminum boat.

56 Comments:

Blogger Van said...

Excellent Post Gagdad (please excuse my squeaky jackboot fawning).

I'd only add (again) that their philosophy flows from the fact that they are Materialists & Determinists at root, and if they do accept Free Will, they still believe that environmental factors are far more important and powerful than an Individuals own Free Will.

I know that I'm becomming a bit of a one note player on this... it's just that it seems to be the one note that is always being played!

Progressives/Leftists/Marxists/Socialists believe that Man is perfectible, because they believe human thought and action is fully determinable, and that it is only their lack of having the power to lay out a scientific system of corrective social nudging's, that keeps us from achieving Utopia.

It also provides the warm fuzzy bonus of relieving its adherents of responsibility for their actions, being that they only do the things they do because the environment overwhelms their low self esteemed free will, nudging them into doing bad stuff.

It is only because of them that I too want to punch holes in Sean Penn's aluminum. And of course destroy mankind, that's a given.

9/15/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Beautiful- just beautiful.

Might I add that saying you were a 'jack-booted' nazi also indicates your critic, in addition to his or her lack of cognitive, analytical, and interpretations skills, is also unaware of your heightened sense of style and fashion.

In other words, being a shmuck really is all encompassing, as you highlighted with a cler assessment of Sean 'sailor' Penn.

The left has made clear that ideologies need not be coherent. Whatever passes for intelligent or rational thought at the moment are enough.

9/15/2006 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

Awesome post! Getting measured for my jackboots today!

9/15/2006 09:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Devil's Advocate said...

Dr. Godwin,

Your social commentary is intelligent and I respect your ideas. You articulately relate a sane, rational and legitimate point of view.

However, I completely disagree with your position. Perhaps you will be good enough to engage me in some serious dialogue. I'll offer you an open mind and a commitment to stay away from ad hominem attacks.

The biggest critique I have of your position relates to your characterization of the liberal / leftist ideology. While the ideas you atrribute to the progressives may be true of the most fanatical of radicals, they are in no reresentative of the moderate progressive movement.

You easily knock down the radical straw men ideologies, 1-4. But I think you might find that the moderate progressive ideologies are a lot more legitimate than you give them credit for. the following list is a moderation of your 4 leftist ideologies to more accurately reflect the mainstream progressive point of view.

1. Man is not born exclusively with "a natural proclivity towards violence and sin." From the beginning, he has a choice. The tendency to choose evil is no more fundamental than a man's innate goodness. Education, environment and legislation are social tools used to discourage the proclivity towards violence and sin, and to promote choices that relflect this innate goodness. The goal of progressive policies is not to create "men like gods," but rather to encourage men to choose the godly. "The perfection of man" is absurd, but to perfect his actions is a realistic goal.

2. Tradition certainly should have a place in our lives. But it should never be a primary moving force. Liberal contempt is not for all tradition, but rather for the dominating, unthinking, blind adherence to tradition that corrupts man's agency. Formal religion is mostly a load of irrelevant crap. Any genuine spirituality that religion may have once embodied has been watered down beyond recognition with dogma and myth. Liberals are proudly rejecting formal religion not because religion is inherently wrong, but because it has become so warped over the years that it is no longer useful. New ideologies are merely trying to recapture the truth that genuine religion at one time expressed but no longer does.

3. "Order and privilege" are not a priori condemned. However, history has repeatedly shown how easily order and privilege devolves into domination, repression and injustice. The progressive attempts to safegaurd ligitimate hierarchy and natural differences, while simultaneously protecting the weak and underprivileged form being exploited by the dominant groups. The political and social playing field absolutely should be level. And why shouldn't we help out the people who cannot get onto the level playing field by themselves? It is possible to both respect differences and natural inequality, and still help out those who have fallen behind.

4. Private property and the accumulation of wealth is a legitimate. The leftist argument is not that property rights are evil or invalid, but that they should be moderated and carefully watched for abuse. Progressives don't want to completely level the economic playing field. They just want to smooth it out more than it is now to prevent the gratuitous abuses of the system that occur today.

9/15/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Will said...

>>I am of the view that conservatism is an inclination, temperament, or “cast of mind” as much as it is any set doctrine<<

Yes, and I would define that inclination/temperament as a literal state or mode of consciousness, a "gnosis", even. I think there are some who come to this mode of consciousness before realizing that a certain set of conservative doctrines do indeed give it articulate definition. Much in the same way, I think, some people come to a state of Enlightenment, or "come to Jesus", without defining it as such . . they then have to "learn how to be Enlightened", in a sense.

To R Kirk's canons of conservative thought, I might add a subset: Conservatism is the belief in - or gnosis of - the primacy of the individual, that the world rotates on the individual, that true love and compassion can't exist without individuation.

9/15/2006 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

A moonbat speaks/devil's advocate:

Since you didn't engage in ad hominem (this time), neither will I. Your belief that religion is mostly "a load of irrelevant crap" belies an attitude of such invincible metaphysical ignorance that there is no way for me to respond except to say that you need to read my previous 300+ posts (not that you would have any interest in reading such a load of irrelevant crap). I have no inclination whatsoever to try to talk people out of their modern secular supersitions if they are comforted by them.

Suffice it to say that we simply disagree on man's innate goodness, on the idea that America is a repressive and unjust country from which we must be rescued by "progressives," or that the power of the state should be granted to these malevolent do-gooders to "level the playing field" as they see fit.

9/15/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

moonbat speaks/devil's advocate/(Nag?) said...
"4. The leftist argument is not that property rights are evil or invalid, but that they should be moderated and carefully watched for abuse. Progressives don't want to completely level the economic playing field. They just want to smooth it out more than it is now to prevent the gratuitous abuses of the system that occur today."

The leftist argument is that there are no principles, and so any action by those the leftists approve to "encourage" men with "Social Tools" to behave as the leftist's approve, is perfectly fine.

You do not see individual men, but only the collective man, and ""The perfection of man" is absurd, but to perfect his actions is a realistic goal." indicates that you see that collective man as little better than a set of wind up toys to be improved and polished for your amusement.

"And why shouldn't we help out the people who cannot get onto the level playing field by themselves?"

What arrogance - how does "we" (those non-conservative "we" You approve of) determine who is to be helped, and how? Unless you're talking about private charities – you are advocating robbing the public at the point of the governmental gun to use "social tools" to force people into the behavior YOU approve of.

Do any of you ever ask of what use is behavior that is forced (pardon me), encouraged with social tools? You are little different from the muzzies that forced the Fox reporters to convert to their religion. And who is actually 'helped' by being given some approved minimal level of sustenance, rather than learning to earn and create it on their own? Have you raised no children other than yourselves?

Sheesh. I need to go relax and ad my hominem's.

9/15/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Moonbat/devil

By the way, one reason I am opposed to your ideas is that they are not the ideas this country was founded upon. Therefore, until we hold another constitutional convention and reconceptualize our ideals, we cannot just pretend that the founding fathers were Marxists. If you want to be taken care of in a progressive welfare state, you should move to Canada or France or some similar place. But America was intended to be a liberal country, not a leftist one.

9/15/2006 11:00:00 AM  
Anonymous A moonbat speaks said...

I am not the "Devil's Advocate," but he sure writes well; I give him blessings to carry on the discussion. In my own flamewar with Dr. Godwin, I admit defeat. I made several tactical errors:

1. I invoked Godwin's law with my talk of Nazism (darkwingedgod, thank you for pointing this out).

2. I used heated rhetoric to invoke a response, which degrades my legitimacy and makes me sound like a fanatic. (And a note to some of you others who were in this scuffle--sarcastic humor and deflection do not score points. If you don't have some substance, best not to rebut).

Anyway, thank you Dr. Godwin for your latest post. The details of your doctrine were what I was after, and I got them. I guess I could have just asked. I am now convinced that all you want is to change minds peacefully.
I was never a radical moonbat; I'm a centrist. And Bob, best to read up on what Aurobindo says about religion before slamming the Devil's advocate. You may be in for a surprise.
Anyway, someone has to run quality control checks on blogger demigods; some of them out there could be wolves dressed in religious sheep's clothing. Bob's not one of those, but the inquisition was not without a just motive.

9/15/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

>>"The goal of progressive policies is not to create "men like gods," but rather to encourage men to choose the godly. "The perfection of man" is absurd, but to perfect his actions is a realistic goal."<<

I thought this was the role of the Church.
How can a godless State with a contempt for God steer anyone in a "Godly" direction. Seems to me that all the past experiments in what you are articulating exert more and more pressures on people to conform to the coersion of the standards set by the ones "who know better". At which point those who don't conform are steered in the direction of the gas chambers or in front of firing squads.
Progressive = Regressive. Sorry bub, been there done that, ain't goin' back.

9/15/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Jacob C. said...

Devil's Advocate:

Personally, I don't disagree with the left's apparent belief that man can be made better. What I disagree with is the incredible amount of tinkering with individuals that your compatriots seem to feel is necessary.

9/15/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

Dr. Godwin,

First of all, I am not "Moonbat Speaks," and your combative response is unwarranted. Moonbat is an idiot and an asshole. I'm just trying to start a dialogue, share some ideas and maybe learn something.

I realize that you've encountered a lot of jerk trolls commenting on your site. I also realize that the far left has a tendency to be quite vicious in their attacks. Perhaps these negative experiences have worn on your patience and your desire to teach, to seek Truth and help others with their searches.

Then again, maybe you believe that you alone have access to Absolute Truth -- that any ideologies that diverge from your own have nothing of value to contribute to the cosmic puzzle.

But most likely, you're probably just fed up with all the bullshit you've taken from uninformed, unthinking critics.

Still, I believe you know that it is valuable to share ideas among reasonable men, even when those ideas differ -- that we can still learn something from each other and about each other when we don't agree.

Or maybe you've just run out of tolerance for any dissent, even the civil kind that is expressed in the spirit of learning and in search of the truth.

And before you again misrepresent my views and set up more straw men, let me clarify them for you.

1. Religion as it is practiced today actually promotes
"metaphysical ignorance" on a grand scale. Certainly, there exists a small fraction of people who actually understand their religion and the spiritual significance of their tradition. But for the most part, religion just gives people a framework to NOT THINK. For the ordinary man religion promotes blind faith in dogma, unsupported moral injunctions and a limited, childish understanding of God.

2. I don't know if man is innately good, bad or a clean slate. I do know from experience that man has a capacity for both good and evil. I also know that social programs can be very effective at encouraging men to make good choices and suppress their evil and sinful impulses.

3. I never said anything about America being "a repressive and unjust country." I love this country and am thankful to be an American. But that doesn't mean that I have to agree with all of our policies or with every decision the Executive Administration makes. America and Israel are the most socially-just and freedom-promoting societies the world has ever seen. But there still have some policies that are unjust. America is the greatest champion of freedom the world has known, but that is not to say that there isn't room for improvement.

4. Competition and differentiation should arise from a pre-existing level playing field. Social and political hierarchies will inevitabily take their course. The unequal distribution of power and wealth is a natural and legitimate state. but nobody should have to start out with a huge headstart or way behind. Measures should be taken not to ensure that everyone achieves equal success, but rather to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity for success -- i.e. an equal playing field.

Oh, and by the way, I have read most of your previous 300+ posts and your book.

9/15/2006 11:25:00 AM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

>>""Order and privilege" are not a priori condemned. However, history has repeatedly shown how easily order and privilege devolves into domination, repression and injustice."

History has shown me that what you now label "progressivism" (reheated Marxism, Socialism, Communism) is truly the philosophy that has actually cornered the market on domination, repression and injustice.
Progressivism = Regressivism

9/15/2006 11:30:00 AM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

"Moonbat/devil

By the way, one reason I am opposed to your ideas is that they are not the ideas this country was founded upon. Therefore, until we hold another constitutional convention and reconceptualize our ideals, we cannot just pretend that the founding fathers were Marxists. If you want to be taken care of in a progressive welfare state, you should move to Canada or France or some similar place. But America was intended to be a liberal country, not a leftist one."

My positions are entirely compatible with the ideals of our Founding Fathers. And I've never supported the creation of a welfare state. I don't know why you're projecting these views onto me, but they are not truthful representations of my position. Your straw men arguments are positions that I have never endorsed and I don't know why you continue to attribute them to me.

You can sum up my position as follows:

American ideals and freedoms are only strengthened by the introduction of limited socially and economically progressive policies.

9/15/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

devil's advocate--

If you've read the book and 300 of my posts, then there's really nothing more I can add, except for the posts I haven't yet written. I'm sorry you had to waste your time with all that reading material, but I cannot make my positions any more clear than I already have. If you had actually read my book and all those posts, you would know that I never claim to possess absolute truth, but naturally I believe that what I am saying is true, or I wouldn't say it.

Obviously we just fundamentally disagree. If you don't get where I coming from by now, there's nothing I can say that will make it somehow come together for you. As Will said, it truly is more of a mode of consciousness anyway--for you, perhaps a less enlightened mode. But in any event, the mode precedes the content one employs to express it.

9/15/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

A Moonbat Speaks

"Anyway, someone has to run quality control checks on blogger demigods"---uh, excuse me, Mr. Moonbat sir, but who died and made you monarch of "quality control" and checker of blogger "demigods"? And, while a lot of us enjoy Bob's columns, none of us worship him as a deity, demi or otherwise. Nor have I seen missionaries walking up and down the streets recently, declaiming "PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE BOB!" or churches being erected in his name, or even anyone wearing a T-shirt with his face on it. So what's all this talk about Hitler, and demigods, and dangerous bloggers?

I think you're being paranoid---not that there's anything wrong with that---but you're being paranoid about the wrong things.

As for the Leftist/conservative debate---looking over the history of the 20th Century, Leftists must accept the fact that Marxist/collectivist regimes have been responsible for millions of deaths, with supposedly liberal and tolerant progressives lauding these monstrous regimes to the skies, with it's Russia, the supposed Worker's Paradise, Cuba or yet another terrorist group that is supposedly fighting for its "freedom."

(Not to mention the growing, ugly tide of Leftwing anti-semetism).

To me, all else, all arguments, are nothing beside this stacked up heap of human bodies, and ruined lives. If you need something to be paranoid about---here it is!

9/15/2006 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

Van,

"The leftist argument is that there are no principles."

-I never said this. I don't agree with this statement, and outside of the extremists, this is not a position supported by the left.

"you see that collective man as little better than a set of wind up toys to be improved and polished for your amusement."

-Understanding how men work and how they collaborate in social groups, and tayloring policies to take advantage of this knowledge, in no way devalues his integrity.

"you are advocating robbing the public at the point of the governmental gun to use "social tools" to force people into the behavior YOU approve of."

-No, you're distorting my position again. I advocate using a very limited amount of public resources to encourage behaviors that are socially constructive and discourage behaviors that are destructive. We're talking about using subtle social pressure to evoke behavior changes that is in the best best interest of society and America. there is no force and my opinion doesn;t factor into it at all. It's the basic social contract.

"And who is actually 'helped' by being given some approved minimal level of sustenance, rather than learning to earn and create it on their own?"

-First of all, socially progressive programs are often the vehicles by which people "learn to earn and create [a living] on their own. And then there are, of course, those people for whom this is never a possibility.

9/15/2006 11:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goober From the Peanut Gallery thinks the grumbleman doth protest too much. (In other words, even a pseudo-nut like me knows enough to give my alter egos distinctive personalities. With grateful thanks to Dr. G, I return to the madding crowd.)

Compare and contrast:

A moonbat speaks said...
I am not the "Devil's Advocate," but he sure writes well; I give him blessings to carry on the discussion. In my own flamewar with Dr. Godwin, I admit defeat.

devil's advocate said...
Dr. Godwin,

First of all, I am not "Moonbat Speaks," and your combative response is unwarranted. Moonbat is an idiot and an ***hole. I'm just trying to start a dialogue, share some ideas and maybe learn something.

9/15/2006 11:56:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

devil's advocate said..."American ideals and freedoms are only strengthened by the introduction of limited socially and economically progressive policies."

Limited socially and economically progressive policies can not be implemented without throwing out the principle of property rights, and inevitably all other rights as well - hence your views are entirely INcompatible with the ideals of our Founding Fathers.

Your ideas have been refuted over and over since the Founders time, one of the first & most readable refutations were by Frederic Bastiat, one of the last worthwhile Frenchmen, try reading Essays on Political Economyparticularly "That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen" and "The Law".

When Congress attempted to appropriate thousands of dollars in 1794, for refugee relief, James Madison the "father" of the Constitution, reproached them, saying "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

That was the constituitionally correct response then, as it is now. Freedom and Justice can not withstand Governmental kindness any better than it can tyranny - and both will end in the same way.

9/15/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

"Limited socially and economically progressive policies can not be implemented without throwing out the principle of property rights, and inevitably all other rights as well."

Government sponsored homeless shelters, education programs, short-term unemployment assistance, limited state-sponsored healthcare......

How exactly do these programs do anything but good? And how do they negate property rights and all other rights.

Why can't see that the two value streams can coexist and flourish with each other??????

9/15/2006 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

devil's advocate said... "No, you're distorting my position again. I advocate using a very limited amount of public resources to encourage behaviors that are socially constructive and discourage behaviors that are destructive. We're talking about using subtle social pressure to evoke behavior changes that is in the best best interest of society and America. there is no force and my opinion doesn;t factor into it at all. It's the basic social contract."
and
"The leftist argument is that there are no principles." - I never said this."

No you didn't say it, you merely demonstrate that you believe it with every word you do say.

9/15/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

hey moonbat,

Sorry for calling you an idiot and an asshole. That "Bob is Hitler comment" was pretty dumb.

9/15/2006 12:12:00 PM  
Anonymous dilys said...

"American ideals and freedoms are only strengthened by the introduction of limited socially and economically progressive policies."

I'm baffled to think anyone believes this cloud of nominalizations contributes anything to a discussion, unless it is an invitation to gather at the feet of the writer and humbly ask him for the distinguishing details, which could only bring back the fruitless loop, the presence or absence of an indispensable mode of consciousness that, as pointed out in the recent New Criterion, recognizes that fiddling with improvement schemes is not cost-free:

"Barbarism is never finally defeated; given propitious circumstances, men and women who seem quite orderly will commit every conceivable atrocity. The danger does not come merely from habitual hooligans; we are all potential recruits for anarchy. Unremitting effort is needed to keep men living together at peace; there is only a margin of energy left over for experiment however beneficent. Once the prisons of the mind have been opened, the orgy is on… . The work of preserving society is sometimes onerous, sometimes almost effortless. The more elaborate the society, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and the more complete its collapse in case of defeat. At a time like the present it is notably precarious. If it falls we shall see not merely the dissolution of a few joint-stock corporations, but of the spiritual and material achievements of our history" [Waugh, 1938].

I'm not like those other liberals. I want to redesign things, but you can't lay a hand on me. I'm not like etc.

Give it up. It's a fruit loop. People have a right to their opinions, but not a right to deference on the basis that this set of schemes will work beneficently -- unlike all those other bounders'.

9/15/2006 12:13:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

Van,

I'm done with you. You obviously lack the capacity to entertain any ideas that diverge from your own. Sorry for assuming that this was a legitimate discussion forum.

I see that only praise for Bob and concurring ideas are allowed here.

So much for honest discourse.

9/15/2006 12:15:00 PM  
Anonymous al said...

true...but you need a hobby. you are way too obsessed with talking about liberals.

9/15/2006 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

devil's advocate

"How exactly do these programs do anything but good?"

Oh my good lord----you've never been on the receiving end (or should I say trapped?) in a government program, have you? If you had, you wouldn't need to ask---you'd know these programs, can be many, many things that aren't good!

For instance, need I say more than public schooling?

One thing that makes it so difficult for the two systems to co-exist is that big government has a tendency to expand, taking over more and more functions (which it really isn't suited to handle), driving out the private charities, schools, hospitals, etc. that provided services before.

And far too many people find it all too easy to give up, stop struggling, go on welfare or get on some sort of "disability" plan; welfare really does sap initiative and moral fiber (I've seen it happen in my own life), and the vast government help-industries, rather than trying to get people back on their fee, are only to eager to keep signing people up for more and more benefits and programs. It keeps them in business, and gives them more power.

9/15/2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What an appropriate quote from Richard Weaver, also found at The New Criterion:

"The past shows unvaryingly that when a people’s freedom disappears, it goes not with a bang, but in silence amid the comfort of being cared for. That is the dire peril in the present trend toward statism. If freedom is not found accompanied by a willingness to resist, and to reject favors, rather than to give up what is intangible but precarious, it will not long be found at all." —Richard Weaver, 1962

9/15/2006 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

Talkinkamel,

Thanks for actually answering my question instead of just calling my mode of consciousness "less enlightened," as Dr. Godwin did.

So how exactly would you address people who need help in your ideal system? If aid programs aren't institutionalized, don't you think the standard of care and compassion drops significantly?

9/15/2006 12:30:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

>>"Government sponsored homeless shelters, education programs, short-term unemployment assistance, limited state-sponsored healthcare......"<<

Again, I thought this was the role of the Church and private citizens.
You know, those people who would actually demand some accoutability from the bestowed upon instead of lobbying for more money, advertising for more victims, weakening the social structure and building behemoth govenment fifedoms.

9/15/2006 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous hoarhey said...

>>"Thanks for actually answering my question instead of just calling my mode of consciousness "less enlightened," as Dr. Godwin did."<<

Devils,

If you go back and re-read what Bob wrote you'll actually discover that he was pointing out your consciousness was different than his and that YOU possibly view HIS consciousness as less enlightened.

9/15/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

devil's advocate, Please tell me, what is it that leads you to believe that If aid programs WERE institutionalized, that they would significantly INcrease the standard of care and compassion?

9/15/2006 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

I'm getting tired of playing devil's advocate. I didn't realize how exhausting this would be. Anyways, here's another idea.

I said, "How exactly do these programs do anything but good?"

There is a necessary link between rights and responsibilities. The two must always go hand in hand. But when government tries to implement "progressive social programs" they often grant rights without enforcing the responsibilities that those rights entail.

Welfare benefits and government-sponsored fiscal security programs invariably infantilize their beneficiaries. They foster an entitlement expectation of dependance without agency. And this viscious circle spirals out of control.

Now there are indeed certain people who will always be dependant, because they were either born that way or because their lives have been damaged beyond repair. These people require our compassion and care.

But the government should not be the vehicle of protection for these people. As Van points out, the institutionalization of compassion and care actually lowers the standard of care received by dependants.

It is the business of private organizations and individuals to express our humanity through aid and compassion. It is the business of the government to enforce our rights and to promote and protect the responsibilities that these rights entail.

9/15/2006 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger dicentra63 said...

1. Religion as it is practiced today actually promotes
"metaphysical ignorance" on a grand scale. Certainly, there exists a small fraction of people who actually understand their religion and the spiritual significance of their tradition. But for the most part, religion just gives people a framework to NOT THINK. For the ordinary man religion promotes blind faith in dogma, unsupported moral injunctions and a limited, childish understanding of God.


You are assuming that absent formal religion, these currently unthinking people would commence Thinking Great Thoughts and become Enlightened.

But my experience is that most people don't Think, religious or otherwise, at least not in a way that is recognizable to people who consider themselves Thinkers. Most people in the world are more interested in what their neighbors are up to, who's marrying whom, where they can get a good deal on something, and other mundane things. It isn't religion or atheism or anything else that is keeping people from being great Thinkers, it's the simple fact that humanity is a Giant Bell Curve, with the vast majority of us in the mediocre middle.

Take Russia, for example. Did fifty years of enforced atheism produce a nation of Thinkers? Can you honestly say that most Europeans are better Thinkers than Americans? They might agree with you (which would bias your perception), but I'd bet that on an objective test that measured Thinking ability (assuming that such a test could be devised), the whole of humanity would fall on that Bell curve without any one society significantly out-Thinking the others.

Are there ignoramuses in formal religion? Of course there are! Just as there are ignoramuses outside of it. Get rid of one "opiate" and people will just find another. The attachment to dogma, blind faith, and childish notions about reality is endemic to the human condition. A few people outgrow it; most don't. That's just how it is.

9/15/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

devil's advocate,

Your last comment seemed to be mostly in agreement with me, so I am trying to understand where our disconnect is, and I'm thinking that it lies somewhere between:
"they often grant rights without enforcing the responsibilities that those rights entail. "
and
"It is the business of the government to enforce our rights and to promote and protect the responsibilities that these rights entail."
probably particularly here:

"without enforcing the responsibilities" and here "promote and protect the responsibilities that these rights entail."

What does it mean to Enforce responsibilities and promote and protect responsibilities?

You can protect (proper Individual) Rights and enforce consequences for violating them, but I'm not following how you would "promote and protect the responsibilities that these rights entail."?

9/15/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

In response to dicentra:

"But my experience is that most people don't Think, religious or otherwise, at least not in a way that is recognizable to people who consider themselves Thinkers. Most people in the world are more interested in what their neighbors are up to, who's marrying whom, where they can get a good deal on something, and other mundane things."

You make a great point. I guess ignorance does have a tendency to invade all facets of human experience, including religion.

I've often wondered what differentiates "people who consider themselves Thinkers" from the people only interested "in mundane things." Intelligence or upbringing don't seem to be primary causes. Why is teleological recognition so strong on the fringes of the Bell Curve, and almost non-existant elsewhere? Why are so many people content in their ignorance when the seeker impulse is so strong in others?

9/15/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

In response to Van:

"You can protect (proper Individual) Rights and enforce consequences for violating them, but I'm not following how you would 'promote and protect the responsibilities that these rights entail.'?"

First of all, let me make it clear that we are fundamentally in agreement. I've been playing the role of devil's advocate in the same way that the Church has classically employed the role.

I find that I learn the most by critically evaluating all sides of an argument. It was in that spirit that I approached these discussions.

I was surprised by the reaction I received and how unwilling everone was to consider opposing positions at first. Or maybe I got a little bit to into the role and became a contrarion myself.

Anyways, I do identify with much of classical liberal ideology. In playing devil's advocate, I've been trying to think outside my self-imposed box. Bob is clearly a spiritual genius, and I often find myself agreeing with his arguments without considering the opposing views. This has been my attempt to critically evaluate some of Bob's positions and reconcile them with some competing leftist ideas I'm still trying to grow out of.

In regards to my last post, I was referring to the metaphysical connection between rights and responsibilities and how they are two necessary sides of a greater truth - agency, freedom, authenticity, whatever...

I view the leftist agenda, the progressive agenda, as an attempt to grant people rights without acknowledging the responsibilities that they entail. Granting welfare or healthcare without requiring the recipients to take steps towards becoming self sufficient. Ensuring peoples' freedoms without acknowledging the sacrifices that this freedom requires. You get the idea.

But this approach is destined to fail because it is not honest. Rights without responsibilities is a fundamentally unbalanced construct. It negates the true structure of the cosmos and will always fail.

When I say that the government should "promote and protect the responsibilities that these rights entail," I mean that when the government secures a human right for its constituents, it should simultaneously take steps to acknowledge and promote the responsibilities inherent to those rights. Of course, I don't mean that the government should impose stringent behavioral codes or anything like that. But ideologically, governmental policies should be authentic and in line with the nature of reality - they should implement policies that honor both rights and responsibilities.

And I see the leftist agenda as a push for greater rights while completely denying individual responsibility.

9/15/2006 03:27:00 PM  
Blogger Bostonian said...

On the subject of the perfectibility of man....

When I compare current events to events in the past, say WWII era, it is leftists who say, "But haven't we evolved past that?"

It's hard not to conclude that leftists believe that later generations of people will somehow mysteriously be nicer or wiser. I'm sure (or I hope) that they don't think some kind of behavior change is occurring at the genetic level, so I literally have no idea what they think they mean.

9/15/2006 03:35:00 PM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

devil's advocate

Care and compassion are in extremely short supply in government run programs. Even when the bureaucrats treat you politely, and pleasantly (which they don't always)far too many of them are simply clueless and ignorant about the problems they supposedly have answers for. They're good at smiling, and pushing papers, and trying to cut costs (so the bigwigs at the top will have more money for raises, and re-decorating their offices).

I think charity should be turned over to religous organizations, such as the many churches and religious groups which fund, and run, the kitchen/community center for the homeless, here in my home city. Secular groups are certainly welcome to join in, as well as agencies which deal with helping cure drug abuse, and helping people find jobs---real jobs, and real cures, not just shuffling people from clinic and/or day job to another.

Judging by what goes on in countries with socialized medicine, hospitals are probably best left as a private venture; again, encourage religious groups, such as the Catholics, 7 Day Adventists, etc. to open up new hospitals.

I think our business climate should be revamped to make it easier for people to start up their own businesses, and that any welfare that is given should be given strictly limited, and based on welfare-to-work programs. Also, we are going to have to go after those business owners who undercut wages by hiring illegal workers---law enforcement is something the government is set up to do.

Lower taxes, by letting workers keep more of their income. It's ridiculous, the amount of foreign aid we dole out to world, and the UN. If Americans get to keep a bigger share of their income, they'll be more willing to support favorite charities, and help out friends and relatives who are down on their luck.

Two big problems in our society, leading indirectly to homelessness and poverty, are the breakup of the family, and lack of real edcuation, and adequate training for jobs. These subjects are just too big to go into here---but improving both would help society in general. Simply making government everybody's big nanny, handing out checks and too-easy disability which causes people to drop out of the work force infantalizes citizens---as many other poster on this thread have pointed out. It doesn't solve any problems, it simply keeps people docile by giving them money.

9/15/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

devil's advocate -
Uhm... I think I'll pass on your roleplaying.
As a really quick comment before changing back into my Dad costume...

"I mean that when the government secures a human right for its constituents, it should simultaneously take steps to acknowledge and promote the responsibilities inherent to those rights."

I see nothing but disaster flowing from "government secures a human right" Gov cannot secure a right for it's citizens. Gov't can only defend it's citizens rights from physical attack or infringement - any attempt by the Gov't to go beyond defending the rights of it's citizens, such as providing a safety net, etc, which I'm guessing that to secure (which I'm equating with giving, granting) would be similar to, can only end not only in weakening their personal sense of responsibility, but in eroding their proper rights as well.

There was a book out in the 90's(?) called the "Death of Common Sense" that did a good job of showing how regulations weakened the citizens resolve to make sure that things were done properly on their own, and led to the snowball growth of more and more regulations, and less and less individual responsibility and apathy we see so prevalent today.

9/15/2006 03:52:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

In response to Bostonian:

"It's hard not to conclude that leftists believe that later generations of people will somehow mysteriously be nicer or wiser. I'm sure (or I hope) that they don't think some kind of behavior change is occurring at the genetic level, so I literally have no idea what they think they mean."
Again, I think this stems from the belief that people are innately good, and that as society becomes more complex, we will devise more effective means to extract this this innate goodness and supress our impulses towards evil and sin.

Gagdad, maybe you'd be willing to chime in here because I'm still having some trouble with this point.

My limited life experience thusfar strongly supports the innate goodness of people. Time and again in my life, people have consisently done the right the thing when confronted with choice.

I'm open to the possibility that I'm just naive or that this is wishful thinking. Or that I've just been incredibly lucky.

Maybe because I know that I am innately good, I incorrectly assume that that others share this knowledge. My experience of my life strongly tells me that I am either not capable or not willing to choose evil. A violent act, yes if need be. But nothing evil. Even when I succumb to sin, nothing shakes my knowledge of my innate goodness.

I guess I've always assumed that the same core goodness existed at the foundations of all people. I've assumed that even people who commit evil acts, have the capacity to return or repent to this innate goodness.

Please, Dr. Godwin or other bobbleheads, would you explain why my experience of innate goodness might be so inaccurate?

9/15/2006 04:06:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

Van,

I learn through "roleplaying." I like to put myself in others' shoes and evaluate their positions from inside out. It's ok if you don't like this approach.

You're just arguing semantics now. We're getting at the same ideas using different words.

Thanks for the intriguing discussion. I'm tired.

9/15/2006 04:14:00 PM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

devil's advocate

My own limited experience suggests to me that human goodness exists---but so do human stupidity, and evil. Human beings can be corrupted by power, or ideologies, or warped by envy, or other evil passions. Good men can make mistakes. Evil men can repent, but they can't undo the evil they've done. A murderer can't give his victims back their lives, or erase the chaos and pain he's sewn in the lives of others.

Take a look at history. How have minority groups, such as the Jews, or Gypsies, benefitted from humanity's alleged innate goodness? Or the victims of the Nazis, or the Communists? All attempts to create Utopia, on the presumption of man's inherent perfectibility, collapse in war and suffering.

Think of the ancient world, with its widespread slavery, pederasty and debasement of women? What about the many massacres of Islam, and its enroachment across much of the Middle-East, and India, by the sword? Where was innate human goodness then? (And Bob, maybe you could run your columns about the ancient world again sometime? Excellent reading!)

I'm glad you've been so lucky in your experiences with other people. Not every one is so lucky; too many have suffered under war, and tyranny. It is naive, and dangerous, to wander about hoping---like the fool, in the Tarot card deck---that one can rely on "the kindness of strangers."

9/15/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Anonymous devil's advocate said...

Talkinkamel,

I don't rely on the kindness of strangers and I realize how evil people can be. I just have trouble believing that underneath all the corrupt and evil actions, an innate goodness isn't waiting to flourish.

9/15/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

devil's advocate

If goodness were waiting to flourish, on a broad scale, in the human race, I suspect it would already have done so.

Nothing I see in history encourages me to think that all mankind needs is just the right push, and goodness will break out everywhere. Goodness seems to me to belong to individuals, or to small groups of people. I don't really see it in mankind as a collective whole.

9/15/2006 05:44:00 PM  
Anonymous TalkinKamel said...

One last thing I'd like to make clear; even when I suggest something, such as lower taxes or a more generous business climate, which I think would make society better, I'm not describing my ideal society; I don't beleive there can be such a thing as an ideal society. This is probably the biggest disagreement between those like devil's advocate, and myself.

9/15/2006 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

D.A. - >>I've assumed that even people who commit evil acts, have the capacity to return or repent to this innate goodness . . . Please, Dr. Godwin or other bobbleheads, would you explain why my experience of innate goodness might be so inaccurate?<<

Is not inaccurate. The problem, I think,(for some) is in not recognizing that evil can reach a point, in individuals and groups, whereby it almost totally subsumes the capacity for goodness. In the fullness of time, perhaps, such evil can be redeemed - ultimately, this does have to be a volitional redemption. In the short term, however, it's destructiveness has to be stopped.

9/15/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger grant said...

Devil's advocate probably has it right about innate goodness. It is the default setting for the human being. Evil is an added program that you can download, and it can be deleted also. Goodness, on the other hand, cannot be deleted, only covered up temporarily.
Aurobindo, drawing on a Hindu tradition, does however posit that some "people" are actually "asuras" or hostile beings from another plane of reality, incarnate on earth. They are innately evil and are indistinguishable from ordinary human beings except by a spiritual discimination.
It is said that asurass are rare, and God allows them on earth for inscrutable reasons. If you encounter one of these, you will feel spooked for no logical reason.
It is said that Hitler was not an asura but under the influence of one.

9/15/2006 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...

grant said:

"It is said that Hitler was not an asura but under the influence of one."

PSGInfinibluster replied:

Dude, you just completely freaked me out. To use a profane analogy, that Hitler was only Darth Maul? My God, who do you have in mind?!

9/15/2006 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

What a fun thread to read! I feel the need to share some wisdom from another favorite, Jack White of The White Stripes....

fall is here, hear the yell
back to school, ring the bell
brand new shoes, walking blues
climb the fence, book and pens
i can tell that we are gonna be friends

walk with me, suzy lee
through the park, by the tree
we will rest upon the ground
and look at all the bugs we've found
then safely walk to school
without a sound

well here we are, no one else
we walked to school all by ourselves
there's dirt on our uniforms
from chasing all the ants and worms
we clean up and now it's time to learn


numbers, letters, learn to spell
nouns, and books, and show and tell
at playtime we will throw the ball
back to class, through the hall
teacher marks our height against the wall

and we don't notice any time pass
we don't notice anything
we sit side by side in every class
teacher thinks that i sound funny
but she likes the way you sing

tonight i'll dream while i'm in bed
when sill thoughts go through my head
about the bugs and alphabet
and when i wake tomorrow i'll bet
that you and i will walk together again
cause i can tell that we
are going to be friends


P.S. Devil's ad- Most likely everyone of us that comments here wants to believe in the innate goodness of man. 9/11 has made the belief inconsistent with reality. Is there hope for the future of certain people when they raise/abuse their children to love death more than life?

9/15/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Eeevil Right Wing Nut said...

"The unequal distribution of power and wealth is a natural and legitimate state. but nobody should have to start out with a huge headstart or way behind."

It sounds really nice but in reality it is absolutely impossible. Who decides how much is too much of a head start? What do you do next? It seems clear to me that the only solution would be confiscation and redistribution.

If it is money that gives the individual a greater head start, then the bank accounts of those people must be emptied and redistributed. That's communism and we've seen how well that worked for the Soviets.

But what if the "head start" is superior intellect? If you are born a genius, then you are going to have a huge head start on your peers. Since we cannot take the intellect of one person and put it in the head of another, you can only "dumb down" the smart people. Thus you have our modern public school system.

"Measures should be taken not to ensure that everyone achieves equal success, but rather to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity for success -- i.e. an equal playing field."

Were you born in America? Congratulations and welcome to the most equal playing field in the history of the world courtesy of our Founding Fathers. Those great men laid the foundations for a playing field that was so equal, that it doesn't matter if you were born here or immigrated here; if you have the guts and are willing to work hard enough for it, you can achieve anything. A haberdasher from Missouri can be president. A dirt poor Scottish immigrant can become a fabulously rich captain of industry.

I was surprised by the reaction I received and how unwilling everyone was to consider opposing positions at first. Or maybe I got a little bit to into the role and became a contrarion myself.

Perhaps. As a former Liberal, I have already considered the opposing position having espoused it once myself and found it wanting. I think you will find that there are many Conservatives who used to be Libs so with that in mind; our reaction shouldn't be all that surprising.

I mean that when the government secures a human right for its constituents, it should simultaneously take steps to acknowledge and promote the responsibilities inherent to those rights.

Our "rights" are endowed upon us by our Creator and are enumerated in the Constitution. It is our job as citizens of this country to defend our rights against government intrusion. It is the government's job to uphold our laws and protect the country from foreign invasion. Unemployment, healthcare, social security and welfare are not rights. It is the government saying that we're too stupid to know what's good for us and unable to take care of ourselves so they are going to take a percentage of our hard earned money and hold on to it for us so that if we ever need it, it'll be right there waiting for us and gosh, don't we all sleep better at night knowing that government is there to take care of us. Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. The money the government takes from us for welfare, unemployment or social security could be given to charity or put in a bank or buried in the backyard (at least it would be there when I retired!). The point is the less government meddles in the lives of the citizens, the better.

The government took 10% of my paycheck and I didn't even get a lousy t-shirt. I just got a bloated bureaucracy.

9/15/2006 10:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Paul G said...

devil's advocate said:

"I don't rely on the kindness of strangers and I realize how evil people can be. I just have trouble believing that underneath all the corrupt and evil actions, an innate goodness isn't waiting to flourish."

To bring this down to a personal level, I would say to examine one's own self first. In looking at my thoughts and the resultant actions of say, the last half hour, I can see quickly that my first and quickest inclination is always the selfish option. Whether it suggests mere laziness or outright felony, the thought is always there, waiting to leap into action.

I think it is this selfish inclination, and the fact that it is always a struggle to repress it, that marks man's 'fallen' state. What is at the root of all evil if not the constant desire to better one's own percieved position, often at the expense of others?

Selfishness isn't learned, it's there from the get-go. "...And ye shall be as gods," as a serpent once said. Children don't have to be trained to be selfish (although the impulse can certainly be nurtured and amplified), they must be taught to repress it in favor of 'doing the right thing.'

The unattended garden quickly fills with weeds and all sorts of dangerous creatures if left unattended. I would say that man in his natural state has the same inclination.

Which is not to say that man is incapable of doing good, but merely that we have no natural inclination to do so. We are selfish. It takes supernatural intervention in a person to change that tendency. To stop, turn around, and head the right direction is not something that we are capable of doing on our own (and that repentance, both personal and societal, is a whole other discussion).

9/15/2006 11:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Joan of Argghh! said...

Paul G,
Speaking from experience, I would have to point out that the Divine Spark counts for more than you allow. Weeds can grow in any fallow ground, but the power to grow still resides in the very life of the ground, sere or loamy as it may be.

You were made alive by the Will of Another and given all the serendiptious opportunities of parents and environment, rich or poor as they may have been. But I, for one, am glad you were born. There's a Goodness in that very first breath that transcends all the evil or relative "good" we can muster up in life.

It's difficult to extricate the Good in a plot of weeds, but perhaps the point is more along the idea of the amazing Goodness that is so supremely confident, it even allows the weeds to grow.

9/16/2006 07:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Paul G said...

joan said:

"You were made alive by the Will of Another and given all the serendiptious opportunities of parents and environment, rich or poor as they may have been.

"It's difficult to extricate the Good in a plot of weeds, but perhaps the point is more along the idea of the amazing Goodness that is so supremely confident, it even allows the weeds to grow."

Again, I didn't say any of that to imply that there is no possibility of good in man, no spark, merely that we, in our 'fallen' state, will not naturally gravitate towards it without outside (Divine) influence.

That we are so blessed as to attract the constant attention and "gardening" of the Divine is often bewildering to me (it should bewilder me far more often than it does). It is nothing short of miraculous.

9/16/2006 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

I put myself in the Thucydidean camp of a Tragic view of man, that we are not innately good, that "Man" is not perfectible, still I do believe that, individually, we are innately capable of Being Good, of choosing to be good.

It seems to me that if God exists, and he must be raising an eyebrow at my presuming to suggest how he behave, I don't think that it's so much that he takes an interest in and guides us, what would be the difficulty or interest in that for an all powerful deity?, but that he has the patience ( as Joan of Argghh! said... "Goodness that is so supremely confident, it even allows the weeds to grow."), to wait for us, confident that we eventually will be attracted to find and give attention to the divine within us.

It seems to me that that choice is more likely to be made, as you widen and deepen your perspective on life, then the clearer the existence of Goodness & Truth become. It always seems to be that more carefully you examine the external world, the more you become aware of the internal one. As you find others who you value and love, and you take the time and attention to care for them, the more you find the value and warmth within yourself.

9/16/2006 01:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Long Rider said...

This is a very interesting thread! I have been lurking for several months and just have to dive in.

What is philosophy, really? It's basically the understanding of Truth and the understanding of humanity, right?

The differences in how the left and the right view humanity and the Truth are really pretty simple, but must always be remembered when trying to understand the other side, and when trying to be true to one's own philosophy. The following is just a brief rundown of what I have seen. It is, in effect, stereotypical (The heart of all stereotypes is brevity) of both sides, so please do not take offense.

HUMANITY:
The left tends to see people as being basically, innately good.

The right tends to see humanity the same as the Judeo/Christian/Muslim view of humanity, that we are fallen. Prone to sin. So what is sin? Well if one reads the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes one can see clearly what sin is.

Sin is selfishness. Pretty simple really. If someone lies, cheats, steals, kills, rapes or buggers alter boys they do it because IT'S WHAT THEY WANT TO DO and they have decided, either in a passionate impulse, or cold-hearted calculation that what they want is more important that what ever negative impact their sin may have on others.

The Left-we are inately good.
The Right-we are inately selfish.

THE TRUTH:
The Left sees the truth as relative, of course. What was once true 230 years ago may not be true today. What is true in China may not be true in Bugtussle, Texas.

The Right sees the Truth as absolute. This, again fits in with a monotheiastic view of the Truth. The Truth is eternal, like He who spoke it.

When Mr Clinton put one hand on the Good Book and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and thensaid, "it depends on what the difinition of 'is' is", he was not just being "slick Willie", he was being a Lefist. "Is" is relative.

When Mr Gore sees the constitution as a "living document" he is being true to his philosophy too.


So, at least on the surface, there is a "hipocracy" in how the opposing sides approach how the Govt should approach social problems. If the Right sees humanity as selfish, why do they not want the govt to help the weak, the infermed, the most vulnerable of our society? If the Left see humanity is basically good, why would the govt NEED to?? If we are good, we would take care of the needy w/o the govt.


GRACE IS MANIFESTED BY RESTRAINT.
If we are "saved by Grace, through faith", thenwe are really saved by restraint. The immediancy of the purity of God is restrained by His knowledge of the justice on the Cross.

But we are called to be restrained too. We must restrain the flesh, the id, the selfish heart. (Not that the purity of God is to be compared to sin!!!). I believe that this is another truth that should be self-evident to all thinking people, that self-restraint is the lifeblood of any civilization.

God understands the best restraint is responsiblity. That is the real reason men are called to lead in church (Unfortunately, Paul's writingssmack of sexism on this). Women were already restrained by childbirth, men HAD to be restrained by responsiblity.

I believe the real danger of socialism is that itsremoved the responsibility of the citizen (and the church, mosque, temple etc) to personally ensure the well-being of society. If the govt didn't remove this heavy burden from the church, maybe the church wouldn't have the "extra cash lying around" to entice them.


I am a Christian first, then a conservative. I understand the the free enterprise system offers the most freedom and opportunity, but I also understand human nature. Careful regulation is always necessary to avoid exploitation.

9/16/2006 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Long Rider said...

ADDENDUM:
For the leftist, moral relavism and the inate goodness of humanity are always inseperable. For humans cannot define their own truth unless they are good, and they cannot be good unless they live in the truth.

If it is discovered that humans are, in fact, not really good then true morality cannot be left to the individual. The whole philosopy falls apart.

I want my utopia, dangit! If humanity is inately good, and morality is relative, seems that over the past 5,000 years of history utopia would have been shaken to the surface by now. If we are basically good, wouldn't little utopias be springing up every where? I thought, according to the "First Law of Thermoevolution", human systems whether biological or social always lead to more ordery systems? Right?

If we are to take the lead of that great secular profit Darwin,and amino acids started spontaneously becoming more orderly in the Primordial spit and spontaneously became more organized (again w/o intellect)with each preceding generation, wouldn't the arrival of human intellect, which has already been defined as moral and good, have supercharged the whole shebang?
Surely we would be there by now....

BTW, I have been to Utopia, and it's a long way from Bugtussle!!

9/16/2006 09:16:00 PM  

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