Category Archives: Politics

Gaining the World but Losing our Souls

Poor ol’ David Duchovny

There is no arguing the fact that freedom, democracy, and human rights have made enormous advances around the world in recent decades. Technology, medicine, and science have also improved the lives of humanity in general. We live longer and more comfortably due to abundant entertainment, futuristic medical care, and food options that a king in any other century would kill for. A blue-collar family in Missouri, by most measures, lives better than Caesar. If Caesar could hop on a Harley, ride home to a Thanksgiving dinner of eating and watching football, he would no doubt do it in a second. Although, he might miss his concubines.

Even the third-world has made incredible progress. China and India, after mostly ending their socialist experiments, have pulled literally hundreds of millions of people out of the subsistence lifestyle that had limited them in previous centuries. A lot of work is left to be done to create global prosperity for all, but as Francis Fukuyama said, it looks like “the end of history.” Poverty will gradually reduce as technology and global trade allows us to use our resources more wisely and efficiently to humanity’s benefit. What could there possibly be to complain about?

Well, now that many in the developed-world have their basic needs met, and it looks as if the rest of the world is quickly catching up, what now? We’ve been fighting nature just to stay alive since our species came into existence, but if that struggle is destined to ease dramatically, what is this life we’ve been struggling to keep really all about?

The human experience used to revolve around being part of a family, which was part of a greater community, that participated in a local culture, that was informed by a greater worldview or religion. Family, Community, Culture, and Faith were the glue that held us together, and what mostly defined our identity, but each are being challenged, changed, or just discarded for this new life.
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Progressive Utopia

Sometimes, when confronted by viewpoints that I just don’t understand, I ask myself little questions like, what is the worldview that inspired this particular opinion? What is the foundation on which that worldview is built? And, what does their perfect world look like once all their goals are achieved?

I’m of the belief that almost every worldview has some rosy utopian vision in mind when all the aims are met. With this in mind, I’ve been trying to crack the progressive egg. What are they really after? What is their end-game? As our country becomes more and more ideologically split between small government conservatives, and big government progressives, it is important to try to figure out what really motivates the other side.

Why would one, for example, mandate the size of soft-drinks in a restaurant, as New York City is proposing, or ban smoking inside one’s own apartment or condo, as some Californian cities have done? I know, I know, soda and cigarettes are bad, but why do they think government is entitled to ban potentially harmful individual decisions?

To get there, you need to get down to their philosophical beginnings. The foundational belief that leads to these sorts of laws seems to be that humanity is perfectible or at least “progress-able,” and that the government is a good vehicle for driving stupid citizens towards smarter outcomes. For Christians, or others who believe that humanity is flawed, putting that kind of power into the hands of politicians is a very dangerous proposal. We might use an old cliche like, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” to warn against this misplaced trust in government. It seems much safer to have millions of potentially stupid people drinking too much soda, than to give people enough power to make these kinds of decisions for us.

For the moment though, let’s just assume that the progressives are correct. We are not hopelessly corrupt, just not too smart, and government can help guide us towards a grand future of something better. Ok, well what is that something better? If we are progressing towards a goal, is it a definable place which we will be able to recognize upon arrival?
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Racist Until Proven Innocent

Possibly the most frustrating part of being a conservative or Republican in modern America, is the fact that the media and popular culture at large assume a racist motivation for much of what you say or do. It doesn’t matter the subject, whether it’s the War on Terror, immigration, the “social safety net,” the need to show photo ID to vote, or even Obama’s health-care law, many will begin with the assumption of a racial motivation when trying to understand your positions on these issues.

Do not bother pointing out the fact that it was in fact the Democrats and the Progressives, from the days of slavery all the way up to the 1970’s, that were the overt racists. Apparently though, all that history was dumped right on the conservatives laps in a political version of hot-potato. “Oh, you guys were racist last!” This is because some racists left the Democratic Party after the Civil Rights-era was over and joined the other side.

Republicans were considered more “traditional” at the national-level and got the Southern presidential votes. At the local-level though, Democrats retained their Southern power. In 2010, my state of North Carolina actually just achieved their first Republican majority in both houses of the state General Assembly since 1870. So, most of the local boys have stayed Democrat (despite voting Republican for President) while racism has gradually become less and less acceptable for all parties.

To complicate the who-is-more-racist game though, many other national Democratic figures stayed in the party. Al Gore, Sr. and Sen. Robert Byrd filibustered until they were blue in the face to prevent civil rights for blacks, but remained Democrats in good standing until the day they died. Bill Clinton even tried to do a little re-writing of history at Sen. Byrd’s funeral. Byrd held a high-rank in the Klan and was a prominent figure in the segregationist movement, but the Democrats just pass it off as a youthful indiscretion (despite his being in his mid-40’s at the time). The main point is, neither party was willing to embrace the old South’s segregationist platform, so the supporters fractured, the message was rejected, and no serious politician I’ve ever heard of has repeated these goals.

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A Critical Theory on Critical Theories

I know. That is an incredibly dry title but I promise you one paragraph from now you will be in the midst of a bitter love triangle and your attention will be captured.

Did you ever wonder how, after the West won the Cold War, and it was clear to the whole world that the Free Market provided a much better standard of living for people, as well as more freedom, that hip young Westerners have gradually grown to see us as the bad guys and people like Che and Mao as misunderstood heroes? Maybe a little story would help illustrate what has occurred.

Imagine if you will, a guy, we’ll call him Mark Sizm, who really likes a certain girl, we’ll call her Prola Tariat, but Prola wants nothing to do with Mark and instead is going steady with a certain Freemar Kit. Mark follows them around and makes advances towards Prola, but she just looks at him skeptically and says, “No, I’m happy with Freemar. He provides me nice things, and let’s me live pretty much how I like. Anyways, didn’t you used to date my friend Cindy? She said you were super-controlling and … didn’t you like, kill her whole family too?”

Mark continues his advances for awhile, but soon realizes it is hopeless. He can’t compete. She really likes Freemar and Mark has kind of a bad reputation. He needs another plan. What if he just followed them to all their dates and was critical of everything about Freemar? Eventually, she would probably come to hate ol’ Freemar and might warm-up to him.

During a movie one night Mark said, “Prola, did you know that Freemar’s great-great-grandfather stole this land from a Native American family?” Another day while they were grilling in the backyard he added, “Also, his great-grandfather made slaves build them this nice house on the land.” Later when they were sitting at a nice restaurant, “Oh, and his grandpa made his grandma have a bunch of kids and go to church every week!”

Freemar starting to get annoyed finally spoke-up, “Shut up, bro! Didn’t you massacre over 100 million people and collapse their economies, while taking away basic freedoms and stuff?” (Every metaphor has to break-down at some point.) Mark moved in for the kill, “How dare you try to judge other’s actions?! How can you claim the moral high-ground with a bloody, oppressive history like your family has?” Freemar, not having a PHD like Mark, felt a little out-gunned intellectually, and decided not to confront him again.

Years later, after Mark’s continued criticism, Prola looked at Freemar and realizing she no longer loved him, said finally, “You … disgust me.” and left in Mark’s Volvo. She is now flirting a little bit with Mark Sizm, but hasn’t necessarily decided to make the switch yet.

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Islam and the Marketplace of Ideas

People love the idea of a market. We love to go out and choose the items we need or desire, and freely buy them from those we believe provide the best product at the best terms. We love this freedom so much that, at least in the West, we even sometimes view our search for meaning in life through this prism. Finding a worldview is at some level an economic decision which involves competing worldviews in the marketplace of ideas.

For this to work properly, the metaphorical marketplace has to allow for those with competing worldviews and ideas to organize and package their ideas in attractive ways and to “sell” us on them without intimidation, force, or favoritism. Every idea has to be taken on its merits and the consumer must be able to judge whether this is in fact the best item on the market.

An old chain-store has just opened up a franchise in the West, though. It is used to a monopoly and does not seem open to changing the prior terms they have enjoyed for so long elsewhere. For this reason, this shop’s rules of operation may not quite fit in with the others in our market.

The other stores are allowing shoppers to enter, pick up their Lutheranism, atheist materialism, Mormonism, nihilistic hedonism or whatever else they are peddling, and choose to buy-into it at their own discretion. If they want to return this product later, “No problem, but we do hope you’ll return.”

Islam on the other hand, has some strict rules in place. First of all, others cannot criticize their product. Pick up the paper on an average day and you will find a number of stories showing the traditional attitude of the Muslim world to receiving criticism. Higher-profile examples, like the threat of a burnt Koran or a cartoon of their founding CEO, have left the marketplace riddled with corpses, but other smaller examples get virtually ignored daily.

Criticism of their product, known as blasphemy, was strictly forbidden by their founder and to this day it is not accepted. Examples from just this week of this are the arrest of a female Christian in Pakistan for this crime, where it carries the death penalty, and the unanimous vote by the Kuwaiti parliament to impose this same penalty for blasphemy in their country. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, and (soon) many of the newly-Islamized Arab Spring countries as well, have this anti-market principle as their rule on the street.

Imagine if Coca-Cola had this policy. If Pepsi or Dr Pepper dare say their drinks taste better, they must be killed. That’s no way to run a marketing campaign, at least if you want to be seen as a respectable company.

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Academia Nuts

 Would this man (Dr. Julian Savulescu) strangle a baby? …maybe

Recently, a series of prominent ethicists have put forth increasingly outlandish, dangerous, and decidedly “unethical” proposals about how we should approach various moral quandaries. With their current understanding of right and wrong, they are struggling to find any ethical problems with post-birth abortion (yes, you read that right, formerly known as infanticide), “euthanizing” the mentally ill, people with disabilities, and certain elderly, condoning polygamy, bestiality (as long as the animal consents, I’m assuming with a grunt of some sort), and, what party is complete without…CANNIBALISM.

Now you’d think that with views like that you would qualify for some ethicists “Kill the Insane Program” and would never be seen from again, but as it turns out, it may just land you a prestigious professorial gig at Princeton, Oxford, or another fine institution.

When those wigged and tighted founders of this country looked for an ethical foundation for our constitution, they started with a simple premise; that it was “self-evident” that all people were created equal by a being that endowed them with basic dignity and rights. To believe this you would have to hold a few basic principles in common with them, or else, apparently it may not be so self-evident. First, you’d have to believe, as even the Deist founders did, that such a being existed. Second, you would have to believe that this Creator held humans in some esteem, even the disabled and infant ones, and wanted us to ensure they had some pretty basic rights. The first right that the Founders mentioned was life; meaning we can’t just kill the inconvenient among us.

Without this foundation, it’s hard to really approach ethics in ways that truly respect human life as being beyond just a smart animal. If our intelligence is the only thing that endows us with dignity, it would make complete sense that we should treat the less intelligent among us with less dignity. Enough from me though, let’s hear it from the learned professors themselves.

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Thank Goodness!

Energy Secretary Steven Chu no longer wants gas prices to go up! Maybe we’ll see some action towards approving more domestic production. Not holding my breath

Rise of the Godless Right

You may have noticed brash entertainment acts like Howard Stern, South Park, Penn and Teller, and Adam Corolla (pictured above), and were confused when on a host of issues… they agreed with you. You may also have noticed a loud group of energized and trendy college kids yelling things about liberty and Ron Paul over the past few years. If you’re a traditional faith, flag, and family conservative, this has likely left you scratching your head.

Isn’t the in-your-face, juvenile humor supposed to emanate from the left? Aren’t young students loudly demanding revolutionary change also a force of the left? Well the times they are a changin’, and there are new rebels on the scene.

From its very founding, America has a great history of cultural rebellion. The left continued this tradition in the 1960’s, finding new things to rebel against. Their greatest legacy was fighting for full-equality for African-Americans, women, and other minorities. These were unquestionably noble battles to wage, but it didn’t end there. It seems we have been in a constant state of rebellion ever since. The traditional family structure, capitalism, organized religion, patriotism, and even basic sexual mores are all now on the chopping block.

The resulting nihilism has left America’s cultural landscape a chaotic realm for the youthful rebel. Does he join one of these revolutions and storm the Bastille of faith, family, or flag, or does he rebel against parts or all of the rebellion? Increasingly, youth are choosing the latter. As Peter Kreeft stated, “In an age that has jettisoned all of its tradition, the only rebellion possible is orthodoxy.”

There are many examples of this trend, but most interesting to me are two sons of liberal LA culture, Adam Carolla and Andrew Breitbart. Seeing liberalism lived out to its logical ends inspired both to abandon the worldview they were raised in, in the same way college students raised in conservative Christians households are known to do.

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