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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Religious Left

If there could be anything worse than the religious right it might be the religious left on full display at the Democratic National Convention:

At the first official event Sunday of the Democratic National Convention, a choir belted out a gospel song and was followed by a rabbi reciting a Torah reading about forgiveness and the future.

Helen Prejean, the Catholic nun who wrote "Dead Man Walking," assailed the death penalty and the use of torture.

Young Muslim women in headscarves sat near older African-American women in their finest Sunday hats.

Four years ago, such a scene would have been unthinkable at a Democratic National Convention. In 2004, there was one interfaith lunch at the Democratic gala in Boston.

One might argue cynically that the Democrats are simply pandering to the religious community in the wake of their defeat in 2004 or to quote the article: "'values voters' helped re-elect President Bush, giving Democrats of faith the opening they needed to make party leaders listen to them." But, I believe there is a deeper cause. The Left no longer has any semblance of a political or moral philosophy. They are intellectually bankrupt and are desperately grasping for a moral foundation for their platform. A political message fused with a sense of moral idealism is powerful and what accounts for Obama's rock star appeal. Furthermore, the Democrats are justified in adopting religion as their base, because religion belongs on the left. Recall that Obama is heavily influenced by Pastor Wright and as I stated in my post At Least Pastor Wright is Consistent:

Pastor Wright appears to espouse liberation theology which is essentially Christian socialism. It is the idea that the church's mission is to bring "social justice" to the "poor and oppressed" through political activism. Logically, Christianity is entirely consistent with the principles of socialism. Both uphold the moral theory of altruism, i.e, both hold that the purpose of life is to serve the poor and "oppressed." Capitalism rests on the egoist theory that the purpose of life is self-fulfillment or happiness not service to the meek.
I submit that liberation theology is entirely consistent with Christianity. What is the essence of Christian morality? Christians are taught that sacrifice is a virtue, that men are their brother's keeper, that they should turn the other cheek, that man is a feeble sinner who must abandon reason and accept faith while repenting to a higher power. Is this the kind of philosophy that would trust man to be self-governing? Is this the kind of philosophy that would regard rational self-interest, profit seeking, and personal happiness as a virtue? Is this the kind of philosophy that would uphold the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Is this the kind of philosophy that would uphold a self-interested foreign policy? Absolutely not.

The Christian philosophy logically understood translates into the opposite of freedom and the entire history of the Church from the early Holy Roman Empire through the Dark Ages to the Inquisition to Puritan witch-burning is evidence of this fact. It wasn't until the Enlightenment when America's Founding Fathers expressly separated Church and State in the Bill of Rights that men were politically freed from the shackles of organized religion (see for example the book The American Gospel: God, The Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation). After all, according to the Church (and/or the Pope) shouldn't man be required to sacrifice by paying taxes for welfare, social security, medicare, farm subsidies, foreign aid to third world countries, etc. or in the buzzwords of liberation theology shouldn't the government's aim be "social justice"? If man is naturally a sinner, should he be trusted to think for himself and be trusted to enter into contracts free of state interference or be allowed to control his own property and despoil God's earth? Should the object of our foreign policy be to protect American interests or should it be to redistribute "God's gifts" to the rest of the world and to proselytize our message of "hope?" Quoting wikipedia:

Liberation theology is a school of theology within Christianity, particularly in the Roman Catholic Church. Two of the starting points of Liberation theology are, first, the question of the origin of sin; and secondly, the idea that Christians should make good use of the talents given by God, and that includes intelligence in a general sense, and science in particular. Therefore, these theologians use sociology and economics sciences to understand poverty, since they considered poverty was the source of sin. The methodologies derived from historical materialism, which influenced the development of Liberation theology. They then read the Bible from the new perspective and developed the ethical consequences that led many of them to an active participation in the political life, and to focus on Jesus Christ as not only the Redeemer but also the Liberator of the oppressed. It emphasizes the Christian mission to bring justice to the poor and oppressed, particularly through political activism.

The adoption of religion by the left is a good development. Today both parties are parties of Big Government. The Democrats tend to want slightly higher taxes and more regulation than the Republicans and the Republicans have tended to want more government intervention in our personal lives. Popularly, it has been said that Democrats want to intervene in the boardroom and Republicans want to intervene in the bedroom. Well, this is not quite true. Both parties want to be in your boardroom, bedroom, and even follow you around in your car after telling you what kind of car you should drive. The only difference is that the Republicans might leave the boardroom five minutes earlier than the Democrats and the Democrats might leave the bedroom five minutes earlier (or not).

If the Democrats adopt religion they will officially and properly be recognized as The Party of Big Government and there will be an opening to reshape the Republican Party into the party of classic liberalism based upon "the importance of human rationality, individual property rights, natural rights, the protection of civil liberties, constitutional limitations of government, free markets, and individual freedom from restraint as exemplified in the writings of Adam Smith, David Hume, David Ricardo, Voltaire, Montesquieu and others." The Democrats should be the party of Big Government in all of its manifestations and perhaps those on the Religious Right who seek to use the power of the State to impose religion will realize that they have a new home elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Castro in Solidarity with Psychosis

There is something fittingly albeit tragically amusing about the report that Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro expressed "total solidarity" and offered his unqualified support for the Cuban Olympian who kicked a referee in the face (!) after legitimately being disqualified from a Tae Kwon Do match.

Man's nature as an individual reasoning being necessitates freedom of thought and action and therefore individual rights. The essence of communism is a total repudiation of this basic fact. It is why communism always has and must logically result in violence, oppression, and misery. In other words, where a system exists that is consistent with man's nature, i.e., a system of limited government that protects individual rights, we see prosperity, benevolence and general happiness. Where a system exists that is predicated on a contradiction of man's nature, i.e., a system that actively and ruthlessly violates individual freedom, we see stagnation, malevolence, and hell on earth.

In this incident, the athlete was competing in a game with well defined rules. After being knocked out, he violated the rule which allows no more than one minute of injury time and was disqualified. The act of lashing out against the referee by this athlete could be brushed off by some as an extreme spur of the moment emotional reaction to a devastating loss (or the result of brain damage from being knocked out in a Tae Kwon Do match...). However, the subsequent justification of such an act represents a lashing out at the nature of reality and is profoundly evil. Such an approach is entirely consistent with the communist philosophy and represents yet another example of Ayn Rand's principle that evil is at root an attempt to violate the law of identity, i.e., an attempt at a wish that reality is not what it is.

It is well known that toddlers, unable to express their frustration verbally, will often punch or kick as a way of lashing out. An irrational philosophy reduces a man to the level of a two year old. In this particular incident, we have observed a literal manifestation of this phenomena. Furthermore, to a psychotic mind like Castro's, the usage of violence in this case was entirely appropriate. Afterall, if reality does not grant your wish, then point a gun at it. This is the M.O. of a psychopath and the essence of communist ideology.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Response to the Anonymous

After my last post, "anonymous" (#1...) writes:

keep in mind that Georgia initiated the use of force on South Ossetia- with the support of the U.S. and Israel. It is foolish to expect Russia to sit back and watch while this happens on its borders. The western press has been near unanimously criticized Russia for being an unprovoked aggressor -

This comment takes the "initiation of force" principle out of context and the premise of this claim implies the wrong approach to analyzing foreign policy. Imagine if in the 1930s the Nazi's had used an ethnic conflict on Germany's borders to justify a full fledged invasion of a country. Would we have been concerned about the the minutia of the ethnic conflict or would we have been concerned with the larger geopolitical implications of German hegemony and its growing military expansion? In the same way, the details of the ancient ethnic conflict between the Georgians and Ossetians (discussed in this Christian Science Monitor piece "Roots of Georgia-Russian Clash Run Deep" and this background) are almost irrelevant. This is not an episode of Law and Order. The threat to the United States and the object of proper concern is Russia, and in particular Putin's neo-Stalinist regime's "growing regional ambitions." Quoting the CSM article:

The West worries that Moscow's true goal is to subjugate pro-West Georgia and overthrow its democratically elected president, Mr. Saakashvili. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Monday, Saakashvili warned that if Moscow's drive succeeds, Western influence in the region will be defunct.
The Russian's did not just happen upon this conflict nor are they really concerned about the plight of Russian citizens in South Ossetia. As the timeline in the CSM piece illustrates, the conflict between the Georgians and Russians has been brewing especially since Georgia sought membership in NATO. As Bolton points out:

This confrontation is not about who violated the Marquess of Queensbury rules in South Ossetia, where ethnic violence has been a fact of life since the break-up of the Soviet Union on December 31, 1991 – and, indeed, long before. Instead, we are facing the much larger issue of how Russia plans to behave in international affairs for decades to come. Whether Mikhail Saakashvili “provoked” the Russians on August 8, or September 8, or whenever, this rape was well-planned and clearly coming, given Georgia’s manifest unwillingness to be “Finlandized” – the Cold War term for effectively losing your foreign-policy independence.

By not foreseeing the consequences of denying immediate membership to Georgia and Ukraine, NATO has once again shown its short sightedness. I agree with the following from the Bolton op-ed:

Europe’s rejection this spring of President Bush’s proposal to start Ukraine and Georgia towards Nato membership was the real provocation to Russia, because it exposed Western weakness and timidity. As long as that perception exists in Moscow, the risk to other former Soviet territories – and in precarious region s such as the Middle East – will remain.

Additionally, Russia's "concern" over the plight of the Ossetians just happens to coincide with their interest in an important oil and natural gas pipeline. Again, as Bolton points out:

Moreover, Russia is now within an eyelash of dominating the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, the only route out of the Caspian Sea region not now controlled by either Russia or Iran. Losing this would be dramatically unhelpful if we hope for continued reductions in global petroleum prices, and energy independence from unfriendly, or potentially unfriendly, states.

The goal of foreign policy is to protect American interests not be an arbiter of global conflicts or a global policeman. As Russia continues to devolve into yet another dictatorship under Putin, the U.S. and its allies must not repeat the mistakes of the past or we will find ourselves on the outside of another iron curtain in Eastern Europe.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bolton on Russian Invasion

John Bolton writes an interesting piece on the ineptitude of U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to the Russian invasion of Georgia .
As bad as the bloodying of Georgia is, the broader consequences are worse. The United States fiddled while Georgia burned, not even reaching the right rhetorical level in its public statements until three days after the Russian invasion began, and not, at least to date, matching its rhetoric with anything even approximating decisive action. This pattern is the very definition of a paper tiger.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Dr. Markov

In an article titled "Kremlin dusts off Cold War lexicon to make US villain in Georgia" The TimesOnline reports :
Russians were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to stop Barack Obama being elected president of the United States.

The line came on the main news of Vesti FM, a state radio station that — like the Government and much of Russia's media — has reverted to the old habits of Soviet years, in which a sinister American hand was held to lie behind every conflict, especially those embarrassing to Moscow. Modern Russia may be plugged into the internet and the global marketplace but in the battle for world opinion the Kremlin is replaying the old black-and-white movie.

The Obama angle is getting wide play. It was aired on Wednesday by Sergei Markov, a senior political scientist who is close to Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister and power behind President Medvedev.

“George Bush's Administration is promoting interests of candidate John McCain,” said Dr Markov. “Defeated by Barak Obama on all fronts, McCain has one last card to play yet - the creation of a virtual Cold War with Russia . . . Bush himself did not want a war in South Ossetia but his Republican Party did not leave him any choice.” The Americans were now engineering an armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Dr Markov added.

Note the warning about Ukraine. The Russians are setting up a pretext to go after Ukraine and then claim "see, we told you the Americans were engineering a conflict in Ukraine."

What is happening in Russia is a great example of why good philosophy is necessary if freedom is to survive. Like other times before in their history, the Russians had a brief window in which to fundamentally alter their government. The West, unable to defend freedom intellectually, utterly failed to export moral or intellectual support for classic liberalism in Russia even as it has become obvious in previous years that Putin was slowly and methodically taking over. Now, the door has closed.

If the U.S. is to avoid a replay of the aftermath of WW II in which the Soviets took over Eastern Europe, the U.S. and its allies must move quickly and decisively to stop Russian aggression now.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

American Professors Cause Death in Venezuela

There is overwhelming proof, both in theory and in practice, that capitalism results in untold prosperity and that socialism results in poverty, misery and tyranny. So while reading about Chavez latest power grab and Venezuela's slide into a socialist dictatorship, it seems unimaginable that anyone could still uphold Marxism. Yet, American universities are dominated by those who uphold socialism and virulently condemn capitalism as evil, imperialist, racist, buzzword, buzzword, etc.

To anyone that donates money to a university, be aware of what you are supporting. Read the above linked article and imagine the death and suffering that has and will continue to result from the Chavez regime and from the Chavez's, Castro's, Mao's, Pol Pot's, Stalin's, and Hitler's of the future. Understand that these men, whose bloody reigns of terror caused the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, imported Marxism from German philosophers via Western universities. Also consider how these ideas in American universities continue to infect our culture and how close the ideologies of the Democrat and Republican candidates are in principle to Chavez.

Chavez has imposed price controls, nationalized businesses, taken over the press, blacklisted opposition candidates and formed a "citizen militia" which is code for a death squad. America is not at this point quite yet, but in principle, a "windfall profit tax" on oil companies, the nationalization of the medical profession, nationalization of the banking industry through the Federal Reserve system, higher taxes on the "wealthy", "hate-speech" codes, Sarbanes-Oxley, vast restrictions or outright takings of private property under environmental regulations, price controls in the form of "price-gouging" laws, penalites on successful businesses in the name of "anti-trust" and innumerable taxes and regulations that affect every aspect of life in America are all policies predicated upon the precepts of Marxism or more generally collectivism.

Chavez is simply a more consistent practitioner of the same ideas upheld by American university professors and their stooges in politics.