"It seems to me that to organize on the basis of feeding people or righting social injustice and all that is very valuable. But to rally people around the idea of modernism, modernity, or something is simply silly. I mean, I don't know what kind of a cause that is, to be up to date. I think it ultimately leads to fashion and snobbery and I'm against it."
Jack Levine: January 3, 1915 – November 8, 2010
Writing that response to the guy who went into a swivet over my use of the word "Darwinism" led me to think that the change in my thinking about atheism was, as well, based almost entirely in me reading what atheists said instead of what religious people said about atheism. I've thought about the books and articles I've read about the topic in the past ten years, when my thinking changed and the only things I can think of by religious people are Christopher Hedges' "I Don't Believe in Atheists," Marilynne Robinson's "Absence of Mind" and her "Hysterical Scientism The ecstasy of Richard Dawkins", her Harpers review of "The God Delusion." And, technically, "Absence of Mind" wasn't exactly about atheism but the modern denial of the existence or significance of minds and their freedom. That's not specifically about atheists, though since everyone who denies the existence or non-robotic nature of the mind these days seems to be an atheist and the destruction of the idea of consciousness and a mind independent of material causation is essential to their atheism, it may as well have been. I am, by the way, advising you to read them. The Harpers review is behind a pay wall on their site but I don't have scruples which prevent me from telling you that pirated copies can be read online.
Other than those and a few responses by Christians on blog comment threads, the only things that have led to me thinking critically and in a wider context about the bases on which atheists base their own atheism and the consequences of that have come from atheists, themselves. You will not be surprised to note how little of that was self-criticism of their shared ideology, Other than a few things by Michael Ruse, I'm at a loss to name an atheist who has written any kind of criticism of any brand of atheism and his is more like an interdenominational critique of a rival sect's thinking than a basic questioning of atheism. Something which, I'll point out, is done in the education of many Jews and Christians, if there's one thing that those religions contain, it's self-questioning. If I'm not mistaken it's actually taught in many seminaries. Doubt and questioning of what a religious person believes is part of most of the non-fundamentalist religious thought I'm aware of, including some Buddhist sects.
But the accusation that my criticism of atheism is based on what religious people have said about it would be invalid. I believe I've noted that my first taking up this critical look in the middle of the last decade was due to an atheist asserting that science had "proven" that free thought was bunkum. Which I had heard from atheists before then but for someone on an allegedly liberal blog to assert that, and noticing that none of the liberals reading that objected to it started me on reading and thinking about the disaster that was for the entire project of liberalism, democracy, and, eventually, the entire moral and intellectual structure of Western liberalism. Reading the "science" that asserted that led me to realizing, first and most importantly, it was pretty and often laughably inadequate as science, clearly ideologically motivated and entirely invalid. And that science couldn't accept what those people were saying without it, entirely, destroying the claims of science that they had found knowledge that was objectively true. In fact, their work as well as the entire ideology of materialism destroyed the category of "truth" in everything, including the ideology of materialism. The imaginary universal acid of atheism, with which they think they've destroyed God, religion, etc. also turns out to destroy atheism and even the validity of science.
The paradox I discovered that materialism was the only ideology that could only be true if it was false because the material causation of thought destroyed the possibility of ideas having that transcendent quality was a conclusion reached by reading what atheists had to say on the relevant topics. It coalesced into that aphorism as a result of dealing with an atheist asserting that ideologies were the product of material causation, If I hadn't read that first comment about science destroying free thought and read things like Richard Seymore's blog post, I'd probably have never turned into this much of a critic of atheism.
When I started writing, all I wanted to do was end the Bush II nightmare in the election of 2006 and to get liberals elected to a majority in the legislatures and the Congress and in executive offices. If any atheists want to thank someone for what that attempt has turned out to include, they can start with the guys who made me see it included trying to take down atheism.
The results of this decade plus of exposure to and study of the thinking of lots and lots of atheists has led me to conclude that it is, at bottom, based on nothing more than the dislike of religion, primarily a dislike of moral obligations being placed on them. While there is certainly a lot to dislike about religion, its history, the behavior of its authorities and whatever mobs could be raised to do violence and to discriminate and enslave, that's nothing you can't also say of atheism in history, not to mention every other single aspect of human culture that can be the venue of theft, slavery, murder and oppression. Monarchies, and every other non-democratic and, all too often, democratic governments do all of those things, they do them better than clerics who have no armies or police forces, in most cases. Yet few if any atheists seriously call for an end to governments, financial institutions, secular ideologies that promote all of those, it is religion that is their focus of invective and hatred, The attack on religion is at the bottom of virtually all of their intellectual effort. including much of what they allow to be considered science, much of it violating every single pretense of scientific method and intellectual practice.
Odd about this, in the case of Christianity, is that those evils done in the name of Christianity, in every single case are a violation of the explicit words of Jesus as found in The Gospels. An atheist critique of the sins of Christians would be unassailable if they pointed out that they were violating the teachings of a man who was held by Christians to, at the very least, speak with divine authority, and in many cases was held to be an aspect of God, himself. None of those sins would be done by Christians if they followed The Law and the Prophets as encapsulated in the commandment, Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. No one would be enslaved, no one would be robbed or cheated or discriminated against or killed or maimed. A world in which even a small majority of people managed to follow that commandment would be a world transformed, if a large majority of them did it would be the absolute golden age of humanity and more glorious than any anarchist never-land or the dysgenic utopia of a dictatorship of the proletariat could possibly be.
Yet the atheist response to that entirely valid venue of criticism and refutation of the evils done by Christians has been to debunk everything from the reality of the man who repeated that, its being instituted by divine authority, the only basis on which that could possibly have the power to change anyone's behavior to even that teaching's benevolent character. If there is one thing that is pernicious about the dogma of natural selection, following on Malthus, it is the assertion that doing that would lead to dysgenesis in the human population and a nightmare of overpopulation by dangerous and inferior people who would take down their betters along with them. That is absolutely explicit in the literature of Darwinism, the thing which made it attractive to members of the elite who have gained and maintained their position on the basis of not doing unto others as they would have done unto them because what they would have done unto them is based on privilege bought with what is done to those who they don't ever want to be considered their equals in any effective and consequential way.
Their goal is no different from those nominally Christian monarchs, popes, etc. who are guilty of not doing the will of God, people who Jesus, himself, said were not his followers or his brothers [See Matthew 12:46-50] no matter how much they might claim to be [See Matthew 7: 20-21]. The biggest and most real problem of Christianity encountered by Darwinism is that natural selection, applied to the human population is a total and absolute repudiation of morality. Spencer's survival of the fittest, which, contrary to post-war myth, Darwin said was the same thing as natural selection, is a total repudiation of all morality in service to materialistic amorality. That is entirely confirmed beyond any rational doubt by Darwin's endorsement of Haeckel's enlargement of his theory in The History of Creation (Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte ).*
The reason atheists don't point that out is that what they want is what those guys want. And it's not what Jesus taught should happen. The great irony in this is that, on that level, it's a turf war between two groups of people who want power of this world and the unequal distribution of those goods, one which includes ignoring, distorting or denying the validity of commandments that would prevent that happening if people took them seriously and followed them faithfully. Those would lead to egalitarian democracy and the equal distribution of benefits and material sustenance. When the leaders of The Church in Jerusalem were met with the guy they didn't quite trust, Paul, as he was going out on his missionary trips, their instruction to him was to "remember the poor". Which he did.
One of the most cluelessly ironic popular aphorisms in atheism is the physicist Steven Weinberg's
With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
Which, said by a man whose profession had given the world atomic and nuclear weapons, a host of other armaments, nuclear pollution and the such, is among the richest hypocrisies ever uttered by a human tongue. As Marilynne Robinson pointed out in her essay, Hysterical Scientism, mentioned above, most of the major figures in that effort were self-identified as atheists, working in a profession that atheists will proudly claim is mostly populated by atheists.
Hear Weinberg's address to Sean Carroll's "Moving Naturalism" atheist discussion group on the question of morality which shows the universal acid of atheism at work and shows that it works on every atheist attempt to construct a new, scientific morality that is materialism safe. And, in the end it elucidates the hypocrisy of his most famous aphorism. At a telling point in his address Weinberg reveals what his concept of atheist morality consists of, that he didn't care about the welfare of people except in his own family and his university department. And he tells his fellow atheists that he thinks that's how they really think as well. [Update: As a contrast, look at the morals taught by Jesus in Matthew, chapter 5, especially beginning about verse 41, and its universal character. Compare it to Weinberg's based on his family relations and his professional interests, a morality that even the most immoral and depraved oligarch, monarch or genocidal dictator will practice. Which do you think is more compatible with any liberalism that deserves the name?]
Atheism, in its hatred of moral obligation, in its hatred of God, is obviously willing to burn down anything that gets in the way of its program of destruction, including logical coherence and even the basis on which anything like "truth" has a real existence. Truth as a product of human thought can't transcend being the mere product of material antecedents, chemistry and physics which it shares with non-truth without that quality of transcendence, something which cannot be the product of material causation. The results of reacting sodium with water or an acid with a base do not result in one being truer than the other. One isn't true and the other false. Without that transcendence of it being the mere product of material causation, it is no different from anything called "untruth" and no superior status would be more than preferences and other acts of material causation in the human mind. More about which if that first shoe I'm expecting drops. Something which Weinberg seems to be as blithly unaware of as the irony of his "bad religion" comment, as he asserts that the truth does have a value which he seems to believe can be separated from the morality he's in the process of trashing as he claimed that.
* For those who haven't read Haeckle, in a book Darwin endorsed, completely, as speaking for him, to the extent to which he said if he'd known Haeckel was writing it before he'd been well into writing his Descent of Man he'd have stopped writing his book because it said pretty much the same thing, here is only one of the passages relevant to my point.
I maintain with regard to the much-talked-of “purpose in nature,” that it really has no existence but for those persons who observe phenomena in animals and plants in the most superficial manner. Without going more deeply into the matter, we can see at once that the rudimentary organs are a formidable obstacle to this theory. And, indeed, everyone who makes a really close study of the organization and mode of life of the various animals and plants, and becomes familiar with the reciprocity or interaction of the phenomena of life, and the so-called “economy of nature,” must necessarily come to the conclusion that this “purposiveness” no more exists than the much-talked-of “beneficence” of the Creator. These optimistic views have, unfortunately, as little real foundation as the favourite phrase, the “moral order of the universe,” which is illustrated in an ironical way by the history of all nations. The dominion of the “moral” popes, and their pious inquisition, in the mediæval times, is not less significant of this than the present prevailing militarism, with its “moral” apparatus of needle-guns and other refined instruments of murder. If we contemplate the common life and the mutual relations between plants and animals (man included), we shall find everywhere, and at all times, the very opposite of that kindly and peaceful social life which the goodness of the Creator ought to have prepared for his creatures—we shall 20 rather find everywhere a pitiless, most embittered Struggle of All against All. Nowhere in nature, no matter where we turn our eyes, does that idyllic peace, celebrated by the poets, exist; we find everywhere a struggle and a striving to annihilate neighbours and competitors. Passion and selfishness—conscious or unconscious—is everywhere the motive force of life. The well-known words of the German poet— “Die Welt ist vollkommen überall Wo der Mensch nicht hinkommt mit seiner Qual.”
[The world is all perfect except where man comes with his burden of woe.]
are beautiful, but, unfortunately, not true. Man in this respect certainly forms no exception to the rest of the animal world. The remarks which we shall have to make on the theory of “Struggle for Existence” will sufficiently justify this assertion. It is, in fact, Darwin who has placed this important point, in its high and general significance, very clearly before our eyes, and the chapter in his theory which he himself calls “Struggle for Existence” is one of the most important parts of it.
"Struggle for Existence" I will note, was the translation of Darwin's protegee and scientific colleague, Ray Lankester, so don't accuse me of the inevitable association of Darwin, through his endorsed follower, Haeckel, through Darwin's friend and scientific colleague, Lankester to Nazism that will inevitably spring to the informed mind.
No, I really think that the virtually uniform nastiness, intolerance, bigotry and dishonesty of online atheists is what we could expect from an atheist majority country or world. Politically and legally, it would be nasty. The nice atheists don't seem to have any interest in telling their fellow atheists to put a sock in it, anonymously, online, so I don't think they'd step up in sufficient numbers to do that where they'd have to put their names and faces to it. I don't recall them being much help in that regard in the Soviet Union, the Reign of Terror or in China or North Korea, today. My conclusion is that what it takes to do that is missing from the ideology of atheism and the resultant culture it generates. You know, if you weren't such a jerk about how you said it, I would, actually, post your comment. Another thing we'd find with atheism, an increased level of incivility. Come on, atheist-boys, try to say it reasonably without the crap and challenge me to post it.
From one of my favorite blogs, Retraction Watch, which I don't get the chance to read nearly as often as I'd like to.
When science writer Vito Tartamella noticed a physics paper co-authored by Stronzo Bestiale (which means “total asshole” in Italian) he did what anyone who’s written a book on surnames would do: He looked it up in the phonebook. What he found was a lot more complicated than a funny name. It turns out Stronzo Bestiale doesn’t exist. In 1987, Lawrence Livermore National Lab physicist William G. Hoover had a paper on molecular dynamics rejected by two journals: Physical Review Letters and the Journal of Statistical Physics. So he added Stronzo Bestiale to the list of co-authors, changed the name, and resubmitted the paper. The Journal of Statistical Physics accepted it. 27 years later, Bestiale is still listed as co-author on several papers. He also has a Scopus profile that lists him as an active researcher at the Institute of Experimental Physics, University of Vienna.
And, as the article notes, it's not an isolated incident. But you should read it, yourself. Retraction Watch is an inoculation against the diseased superstition of romantic scientism, doing what science is supposed to do but, as is shown by its all too numerous articles noting retractions from even the most august of names in science journalism, including Nature, is more a question of wishful thinking than actual practice.
I had the time last night to research, online, the question as to whether or not someone has noted what Galileo had to say about Giordano Bruno, his cosmology, his religious ideas and his execution only to find out that Google was little help in doing that. It returned results that mostly had to do with the most vulgar level of popular myth surrounding both names. I say "both names" instead of "people" because what I have found from reputable historical sources leads ever more away from what people believe they know about those guys which is almost uniformly wrong. It would seem that the topics have been Google-bombed either through intention by ideological partisans or, more likley, through the lazy repetition of the common received myths as seen on TV, first, but, and probably less influentially, the historical fiction in blurbs found in high school science textbooks.
Research continues and, though I am hampered by reading Italian very poorly and very, very slowly, and the fact that the search engine of the Italian site that has his opera omnia online, frankly, stinks, I'm hoping I might find it. Though it would be faster if I had easy access to a university library with, you know, dead trees in it.
The extent to which the algorithms of search engines based on numbers of hits will distort and aid the falsification of commonly accepted "knowledge" is probably a lot more of a serious problem than people would like to acknowledge. The ease with which you can do an online search leads to ever lazier habits and an ever more lazy acceptance of crappy sources, or at least those of known unreliability. And the ability of a group to produce that result through "Google-bombing" has been well known for more than a decade. It was about twelve-years ago when the puerile Dan Savage turned that on the anti-gay bigot and liar Rick Santorum to turn his name into a dirty joke. And what Dan Savage did, others have done, some of them on the political right. Not that this practical demonstration to the level of absolute proof has done anything to lead to someone seriously addressing the problem that using Google as a means of ideological distortion of the collective culture given a large enough and motivated enough group effort. While that was possible in paper-based culture - consider the success in making the story of Galileo into a common received myth that way - its effects in online media, generally accessed through automatic, electronic ranking of searches, has the potential to be much worse. That fact probably ensures that what was touted as an opening up of knowledge, on its most commonly used level will be more like the obvious and concerted effort to bend American electronic media to the liking of the corporate oligarchs, who certainly have noticed the opportunity to use the algorithms of Google and other practices of online media.
Wikipedia is, of course, the prime example of online media prone to that kind of manipulation, an "encyclopedia" which is better as an experiment in how when no one takes real responsibility for the honesty and accuracy of something, when that is left to a form of faux peer review, it will be totally unreliable on any topic in which there is an active peer group with an ideological or even financial ax to grind. I mentioned the blatant and public organizing to produce bias in Wikipedia by the pseudo-skeptics such as Susan Gerbic, but what David Auerbach says in this article in Slate gives a more general picture of the automatic bias produced by peer pressure, the formation of in-groups and all of the other guarantees of bias that come with unmoderated, online communities that just-grow. I like the honest description of what Wikipedia is in this paragraph.
“The encyclopedia that anyone can edit” is at risk of becoming, in computer scientist Aaron Halfaker’s words, “the encyclopedia that anyone who understands the norms, socializes him or herself, dodges the impersonal wall of semiautomated rejection and still wants to voluntarily contribute his or her time and energy can edit.” An entrenched, stubborn elite of old-timers, a high bar to entry, and a persistent 90/10 gender gap among editors all point to the possibility that Wikipedia is going adrift. Because Wikipedia is so unprecedented, I cut it a lot of slack, but precisely for that reason, it faces unanticipated dangers and no easy solution. Well, I don't think Wikipeda should be cut any slack, none at all, because, unless you have set a blocker to block it from your search engine, as I have, the top listing in almost any web search will almost always be a Wikipedia article. On any topic of controversy there is a good chance that the article will be biased, at best, seriously misleading if not dangerously false if the topic is of some real importance in the world. The least that an "encyclopedia" should be demanded to be is not hazardous to your life and not mislead you about important topics/ And there is nothing, nothing whatsoever in either Wikipedia's real life existence or Google's hit-based ranking of results that isn't just about guaranteed to lead you to misleading information, first.
The reputability of something that declares itself a reference work, an "encyclopedia" when its refusal to demand named people take ultimate responsibility for everything in it is made possible from the much higher standards we got used to from the old system in which those were produced by professionals, editors, publishers, scholars, etc. who put their reputation on the line by what they put their name to. It was moderated by the reputation it built up for quality through the production of its content and the maintenance of its standards. That's out the window, in practice, though the habits of relying on something as proven to be misleading as the robotic search of Google and the comment thread level of control built into Wikipedia's method of generating itself.
That it isn't liberals, and such "leftists" who claim to be all about facts and evidence and the such, aren't moved by this is troubling. They, mostly, take this junking of the collective culture by this crap with remarkable disinterest. The extent to which they've been lulled by that old, somewhat misleading and inevitably misrepresented article in Nature magazine, [Nature has the article behind a pay wall, which isn't my fault] comparing Wikipedia to The Encyclopedia Britannica, is, itself, an exercise in lazy and misplaced confidence based on repute instead of even reading the article to see what it really said. Here is a fascinating retort to it produced by Britannica, with a really interesting look into the objections of Natures reviewers and the revealing responses of Britannica, pointing out that Nature's study used shoddy and even misleading methods of selecting what it submitted for review and the arguably arbitrary identifications of lapses by the reviewers. I will point out that in my Google search most of the first pages of returns carried articles and posts uncritically accepting Nature's original assertions about its own study without much of any of the critique of it showing up on those pages, what most searchers would stop at.
Wikipedia operates like the worlds biggest and most bully controlled unmorderated blog comment thread. I wasn't aware of the class of "editors" who were called "The Unblockables" until I read that Slate article.
A controversial edit of a page attributed views to me I would never hold, and when I tried to correct the misinformation, several recalcitrant editors attacked me until Wales himself stepped in and saner editors prevailed and fixed the error. (To them, I am grateful.) As it turned out, I’d run into a couple of what one Wikipedia administrator terms “The Unblockables,” a class of abrasive editors who can get away with murder because they have enough of a fan club within Wikipedia, so any complaint made against them would be met with hostility and opprobrium. The existence of "Unblockables" whose power is granted by a fan following of "editors" shows that there isn't even any internal evidence that Wikipedia's founding definition has any credibility, it certainly is of known unreliability. And that isn't any surprise since those who could have pulled the plug on any of it built it on their refusal to take any responsibility for what resulted. About the only comfort that real liberals can take from this is that it is a practical demonstration of the folly of libertarianism which, like anarchism, will always devolve into a system where the biggest bully with the fewest morals will win. We might have been glad when Dan Savage managed to turn the name "Santorum" into a dirty word because Rick Santorum was such a vile bigot, but maybe we should have been a bit more careful as to what we wished for because there is no one to keep the corporate oligachs from using the same tools to control information. But the tendency in online culture would seem to encourage the kind of thinking that is done in the early months of puberty.
Update: The extent to which the acceptance of that Wikipedia vs. Britannica study was sold merely on the name "Nature" is worth thinking about. A brand name is as thoughtlessly bought in even the higher reaches of intellectual culture based on past reliability made possible only through peoples' names and reputations being on the line. And once a brand name reaches the gold or platinum of the most known science magazines, even crap can be sold through it, even stuff that is generally considered an outrage against open inquiry and freedom of thought. John Maddox, the former editor of Nature called out a fatwa against Rupert Sheldrake, advocating the suppression of one of his books and, also, wrote a diatribe against The Big Bang theory based on ideological objections - he thought its implications would lead people to religion. That Nature's reputation shouldn't be taken as nearly the guarantee of quality that it is universally required to be believed is proved by its own history of retractions and an outrageous denial of its own responsibility for what it submits to review and publishes with a guarantee of that level of reliability.
From that 2010 editorial,Natureargued four years back that scientists are primarily hurt by retractions and so perhaps should be primarily responsible for detecting misconduct that might lead to retractions:
“Ultimately, it comes down to the researchers — those most affected by the acts — to remain observant and diligent in pursuing their concerns wherever they lead, and where necessary, to correct the literature promptly. Too often, such conscientious behaviour is not rewarded as it should be.”
Frankly, these words ring somewhat hollow today, particularly now after the STAP paper debacle. In March Nature rejected a paperfrom Dr. Ken Lee reporting that the STAP method failed and there was no apparent logical reason given for the rejection. Ken has been the most conscientious of all researchers trying to determine experimentally what the real deal was with STAP.
Reading that passage about Galileo and Bruno in Haeckel's book, it suddenly occurred to me that Galileo must have had some thoughts on him, and being Galileo, I can't imagine he didn't write them down and send them to someone, but I've never seen anyone who said if he said anything about his execution and his ideas on cosmology and religion. In a quick look to see if I could find anything online, I found this from The Galileo Project at Rice University:
It is often maintained that Bruno was executed because of his Copernicanism and his belief in the infinity of inhabited worlds. In fact, we do not know the exact grounds on which he was declared a heretic because his file is missing from the records. Scientists such as Galileo and Johannes Kepler were not sympathetic to Bruno in their writings.
Which would rather destroy the usefulness to which the ashes of Bruno have been put, neo-atheistically.
I've got to work this afternoon so I'd ask if anyone has a link to any reputably sourced, primary source material containing what either Galileo or Kepler had to say about Bruno. If I have the time later I will see what I can find but I would rather not post something if I can't find it online and can provide a link. Not that the neo-atheists would bother to look up a citation of something that didn't go along with their mythology.
One of the weirder things I found on the blogs was how may people on the alleged left used to have some kind of affectionate regard for Clint Eastwood and his movies. It's as if his presentation of a sort of gangster-fascism and a clearly psychotic, parnoid vision of life since at least High Planes Drifter was OK because it was THE MOVIES. That they didn't get that he really meant it in those Dirty Harry movies and every other one I saw led some of them to being shocked at his senior moment at the Republican Convention in 2012. With American Sniper a lot of them are expressing outrage at what is reported as misrepresentations of everything from the relationship of the unprovoked invasion of Iraq to 9-11 to presenting lies Chris Kyle has told about killing people in Iraq and in the United States as facts. And there is no question about it, Chris Kyle was a documented and adjudicated liar who was successfully sued for lying.
My conclusion is that Clint Eastwood is nuts, he has been nuts for a long, long time, he is nuts in an especially unattractive way and has expressed and promoted his nuttiness in a long series of films, the non-stop psychotic paranoia and frankly fascistic movies punctuated by a few which tug at the most easily tugged heart strings. And, for a lot of people, those made up for the unrelenting promotion of the Drifter, Dirty Harry, and all of those other characters he played as heroes. Which wouldn't be nearly as bad if people kept it in make believe but I don't have any doubt that real life psychotic, paranoid, fascists have benefited from his promotion of that personality profile, several of our more infamous chiefs of police and county sheriffs, among them. The extent to which policemen take him as someone to emulate is the extent to which those guys should not be given a gun and a permission to use it. [Update: Not to mention the "make my day" ravings of Ronald Reagan.]
That it took so many alleged liberals seeing him insanely ranting at a chair, in what I entirely consider a manifestation of racism, something he would never have done if Barack Obama were not black, to know him for what he has been as long as he's been in control of his movies, only shows that a lot of us need to grow up and stop playing let's pretend.
Hollywood dealing with history and important topical material produces distortions, when it's not producing ideological lies. It's an industry that sells images and make believe to push peoples' buttons and change their behavior. first and foremost to buy tickets and movies, putting the lie to the most incredibly transparent of all lies that what the media sells has no effect on behavior. That someone like Clint Eastwood would have the power in the film industry that he does should make anyone seriously worried about its effect in the wider, real world. The lie that what happens in entertainment is above question on account of it being called "entertainment" is so obvious now, with more than a century of the use of movies politically, generally for the worst of motives, even many of those cartoons, proves that's a self-serving lie told by the entertainment industry and its hired liars in the legal profession.
Oh dear, someone's worked up because I called Darwinism "Darwinism", yesterday. I must say I do get tired of repeating this point.
The myth that "only creationists use the word Darwinism" is an innovation in folk etymology from the atheist blogs, one I traced back as far as the ignorant opinionating of "Orac" at the "Scienceblogs". I tried to point out to him that entirely conventional Darwinists from his own, appointed "bull dog" and earliest defender, Thomas Huxley to Richard Dawkins used the term to describe their belief in natural selection. It was used by his foremost German associate, Ernst Haeckel and was the word used by another of Darwin's closest associates, Ray Lankester, when he translated Haeckel's History of Creation, a translation that Darwin read and approved of. He expressed no objection to the word used by both to describe his theory of natural selection.
In fact, it was Thomas Huxley who gave the word its modern meaning attached to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, it having previously been used to describe the belief of those who believed his grandfather, Erasmus Darwin's theory of how evolution happened. A point which Darwin, himself, once noted.
Orac dealt with my documentation refuting his stupid, uninformed and ignorant assertion in the typical neo-atheist manner, he pretended I didn't provide him with the documentation to prove him wrong. Pride goeth before everything else with those self-designated champions of evidenced truth.
I have been through this over and over again but the ignorance issuing from the "skepticism"-atheism industry is well entrenched among the middle-brow and lower levels of thought and I'm afraid such points will constantly have to be repeated to defeat their program of lies.
The media has allowed those guys free reign. I read Michael Shermer consulted as an expert on such things in two allegedly reputable sources this week, when he has a financial interest in misrepresenting anything to do with "skepticism"-atheism. Those inexpert and self-interested guys are the go-to guys on these issues and they constantly misrepresent things in favor of their business interests, the "skepticism" industry from which they derive either fame or fortune, when they haven't worked it to get both. Going to those guys is so much easier than doing research and consulting people who know what they're talking about but who, as academics, have to undergo some level of review and professional criticism of what they say on such topics. And another benefit of doing it the wrong and easy way, they won't have the likes of Jerry Coyne and P. Z. Myers calling out their blog communities on them if they transgress the Index of Prohibited Thoughts of the "skepticism" industry, such as Orac is also a member of.
Update: Oh, I wasn't lying about that. I can document where that exchange happened, at Orac's own blog and with him ignoring my documentation, starting at comment #6, especially note my comment #18 in which I proved that Orac was misrepresenting the truth, with cited quotes, with links. That was seven years ago, and I've had that bit of superstitious lore originating at the "skeptics" postings on the "Science"blogs constantly repeated to me ever since. I couldn't swear to the chronology, but from how I said things there, I believe this comment thread came after I sent him similar documentation, with links, in an e-mail. One which I don't recall him deigning to respond to. Considering the fact that he's almost if not as verbose in his columnage as I am, I don't think it's because he's too busy doing other things to acknowledge factual refutation sent to him in e-mails.
Update 2: I have, since writing that piece yesterday, gone back and looked at Peter Kropotkin's "Mutual Aid" which I don't think I've looked at in decades. In light of my reading of Darwin and his closest associates, especially his most often cited ones in The Descent of Man, Galton and Haeckel, I have to say Kropotkin, in 1902 was already distorting what Darwin said in that book to pretend he didn't say what he did about the consequences of natural selection in the human population. What he says exonerating Darwin in his introduction is, to put it plainly, a lie which predates the post-war Darwin industries plaster saint by about five decades.
If I have the time I will go through the book and look up the relevant citations (Kropotkin seems, like the modern Darwin industry, to entirely ignore his citations of Haeckel and Galton) and may write it up. Oddly, in a quick reading of the first several chapters of Kropotkin's I haven't noticed those two names of people Darwin said, many times, supported him in what he had to say on the topic. It seems to have long been in the interest of Darwinists to come up with a more convenient Darwin when the real Darwin is inconvenient to their promotion of his branch of their mutually held materialist monism. The final triumph of which Haeckel attributed to the theory of natural selection on page 23 of The History of Creation, which Darwin endorsed. Notice at that last link, right before that, Haeckel claiming the devout Christian Galileo and Bruno in his march towards materialist monism, sounding like he could be on a FOX network "science"show, today. [Of course, I mean the Seth MacFarlane-N, dG Tyson retread of "Cosmos".] They're all playing out of the same game book to the same goal, and it's not compatible with anything you'd really want to live in.
Chick Corea's song played by Gary Burton, vibes, Mick Goodrich, guitar, Abraham Laboriel, Bass and Harry Blazer, drums. This album meant a lot to me in the early 1970s and it stands up all these years later.
That video I posted of Gary Burton's composition "Brownout" led to me listening to the bassist on that album, the incredible Abraham Laboriel, and watching his incredible use of the bass. He's an irrepressible musician at an age when I am too tired to even consider the possibility of performing like this.
Here's one of him playing an 8 string bass. Lots of the techniques on the Gary Burton piece, recorded forty years ago, are still there.
It is tempting to go through Amelia Thomson-Deveaux's article, one of the cooky cutter articles about how religion is dying because a third of young people are unchurched, or the such. As I've noted before, the atheists claim me for their side because being unchurched describes my situation, so that shows you how meaningful that category is. As I said, it's tempting to go over it the way I've gone over dozens of similar articles, though as soon as I saw her citing P.Z. Myers as an expert on the topic I knew it wasn't worth going through like that. So I'll deal with one aspect of it. The purpose of the article, other than telling atheists what they want to hear - I found it reposted at Alternet, afterall - would seem to reassure people that a society without religion, with a majority of people being atheists would be just ducky, democratic, egalitarian, etc.
Well, the history of atheist government, the only real life example we have to go on is all in the other direction, which I will never tire of pointing out, the disaster those were being as enormous as they are. Though, come to think of it, I will use P. Z. Myers from her article to make my point.
Nonbelievers’ efforts to create a moral, happy life in the face of prejudice has created, for some, a kind of angry optimism. PZ (Paul Zachary) Myers, an associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and one of the proprietors of the blog Pharyngula—where you can read his take on science, current events, and cephalopods—is one of the latest to revel in the “joys of reality” and the folly of faith. His new book, The Happy Atheist, is a gleeful, self-righteous celebration of life without belief. Much of Myers’s happiness, at least according to the book, is derived from mocking the spectacle of religious hypocrisy. But Myers seems distressed by the outsider’s perception that atheists subsist on glib patter. “What we atheists are saying,” he writes, “is that we need to turn away from the powerless rationalizations of the holy books, no matter how poetic they might be, and recognize that their power and their appeal flows from their humanity, not from their religiosity.” Far from missing the point, he proposes, atheists are even more deeply embedded in the sorrows and joys of human experience because they sidestep the “magical thinking” of religious belief.
Setting aside the exquisite richness of online atheists whining about prejudice, it occurred to me as I read those words that a good guess at what kind of morality and principle that we could expect from an atheist majority country would be the comment threads of atheist blogs, as informed by the atheist content of the webloids that host those. If you think that egalitarian democracy, a respect for difference, honesty, informed opinion, and a tolerance for those who disagree with you is anywhere in evidence on any atheist majority comment thread, I'd require links so I can see that unicorn for myself. Even in the article, Thomson-Deveaux is forced by reality to say
Myers won’t win brownie points from those who want the New Atheists to temper their tone. Near the end, he calls believers “lazy-minded”—for him, that’s charitable. In his last essay, he seems almost ready to call a truce: quoting from The Epic of Gilgamesh, he declares that grief is “the touchstone, the common element that atheists and theists share.” But he can’t bring himself to admit that the concept of God might be anything but comical.
Which brings to mind Hemant Mehta's "moderate" religion bashing blog "The Friendly Atheist" which is hardly friendly to anyone who isn't an atheist and, though I won't go into details, is hardly a haven of honest assertion. I would hazard to guess that's the best they can do because what you need to be nicer than that is entirely lacking in their shared ideology and the intellectual culture that results from that.
The extent to which being merely civil to each other is based in absolute moral obligations that are, frequently, not in our interest and the farthest thing in the world from what we feel from being is based on commandments contained in religious texts as commands from God needs to be considered seriously. That is THAT NEEDS TO BE CONSIDERED SERIOUSLY AS IF IT REALLY WERE IMPORTANT. Without that taken seriously as a moral obligation it will not be practiced, the increasing level of incivility contributing to a downward trend that only tends to get worse. I am as guilty of falling into that spiral as anyone, though I'm working on it.
There is no reason for someone who doesn't believe there is a real and binding moral obligation who believes they can get away with being a jerk to someone else to refrain from being a jerk. The named atheists in Thomson-Deveaux's article almost to a man became famous through being a rude, bigoted, dishonest jerk in the interest of atheism. No one in the world outside of Morris Minnesota would likely have heard of P. Z. Myers had he not been the king of atheist assholism on his "Scienceblog". And the star of most of them would either have set with their lagging careers if they hadn't turned to atheist invective or it would never have risen.
The extent to which intellectual integrity and honesty, as practice, are dependent on the real and effective belief in moral obligations to seek and speak the truth and not to deceive are, as well, founded in moral absolutes which atheism can't provide also needs to be taken more seriously. If someone who doesn't believe in a real and consequential obligation to tell the truth, they have nothing other than a fear of not getting away with it, to keep them from lying to their own benefit. I would really like to study the religious orientation of scientists who are found guilty of professional fraud though I can't find that has ever been studied. I'd like to know if the moral obligations contained in Christianity, Judaism, Islam have a real effect in lessening the commission of scientific fraud as compared to the merely conventional desirability to not lie, the best that atheism produces, on the basis of preference.
Only, as I'll point out to lead to the next paragraph, I don't know if that is the case because I don't have the evidence of it. Atheists sometimes don't let that keep them from asserting they do know such unevidenced things and calling it "science".
The typical response to those points is to make up some kind of evolutionary strategy that would turn getting away with doing bad things into some kind of reproductive disadvantage when there is absolutely no evidence in present day, observable life that being a rude and obnoxious jerk is more of a reproductive disadvantage than being polite and honest. Compare the number of offspring an Antonin Scalia has produced as compared to Stephen Breyer, John Sununu to Hamilton Jordan. There is no evidence that even the most dishonest jerks leave fewer offspring than nice people, so that "scientific" explanation, like all of those invented to ameliorate the savage amorality of natural selection is, in itself, dishonesty in the service of ideology whose promoters have every confidence they can get away with promoting. That it was a theory promoted, in every case I'm aware of, by atheists* who have tried to cover up the inescapable logical conclusion that natural selection destroys traditional morality says more about the nature of atheist morals than it does the mechanisms of evolution.
No, I think we should take the atheist web presence as our closest thing to a test tube we have of what we can expect if this new world of the new atheists happens and the political, legal, social and interpersonal ideals of religion give way to a world based on materialism and science. Hemant Mehta, Jerry Coyne, P.Z. Myers, Ophilia Benson, Greta Christina, and all the way down to TunderfOOt and the atheist comment communities they host are the future if atheism takes political control. It won't be tolerant, it won't be, polite, morals and ideals will be summarily denied as desired, except in the shifting, inconsistent, whimsical ways of those folks (WHO is dissing the Muslims is all that counts with them, as mentioned here last week, it's a question of ranking who is hated more at any given time.) And, given the track record of atheists with control of a government a military and the police, don't expect anything like democracy or a tolerance for different points of view or much in the way of restraint in summarily disposing of such folk.
* The problem of maintaining natural selection and traditional morality has been noted since the 1860s, with some, such as Darwin's closest German colleague, Ernst Haeckel, reveling in its destruction of morality while others such as Frances Cobbe were, rightly, horrified by the prospects of people taking that seriously. The history of natural selection in politics for the next century and on to today, proves Frances Cobbe was more realistic about that than the Peter Kropotkins who tried to make the to-the-death struggle of Darwinism go away. The more recent attempts under Hamilton's theories is no more successful and, as I've noted before, one of its main promoters, E. O. Wilson has taken the logical step of saying he'd been wrong about it. The political presence of evolutionary psychology has not been a noted success for the idea that all people are created equal and that laws should promote racial and gender equality.
Update: Well, you see, natural selection leads to the conclusion that people are subject to its amoral mechanisms as a part of material causation may be a necessary conclusion of materialism, if you accept that people aren't bound to act in accord with material causation because they are free not to, then there is no reason to assert that "survival of the fittest" is a law that applies to human conduct and human society. I'm trying to remember any assertion in the Jewish-Christian scriptures in which God tells the animals to do unto others as they would have done unto them, and I'm coming up dry.
Moral obligations, equally applied, are a gift to the human species, from God.
It is impossible to believe that natural selection governs the human population due to material causation and hold that you should do unto others as you would have done unto you - the rock bottom, on the basalt, foundation of egalitarian democracy. I have given up the a-historical lie that any progress we've made in that direction is not a direct result of taking that commandment as a binding moral obligation on the basis of religion.
Many of the most influential atheists in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries have either explicitly denied the validity of that moral obligation or have tried to define it away in the method of Dawkins and Dennett.
As the United States Senate gears up for what could be weeks of debate about the Keystone XL legislation, environmental advocates from the United Church of Christ continue to lobby in opposition of the controversial pipeline. From local demonstrations to church-wide action alerts, those concerned about the catastrophic impact the pipeline could have on the planet are urging Congress and President Obama to reject the legislation before it's too late. "Investing in infrastructure to develop and transport fossil fuels means that we as a species are going in the wrong direction," said the Rev. Meighan Pritchard, UCC minister for environmental justice. "There is still a slim window of time to make better choices, to put our money and our will into sustainable and morally defensible forms of energy. Congress is denying reality by continuing to bow to the will of the fossil fuel industry." Despite Obama's guarantee of a veto, the U.S. House of Representatives easily passed Keystone legislation last week, and the Senate is currently debating it. News reports indicate that an amendment process, promised to Senate Democrats by Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), could take weeks, but neither the House nor the Senate has enough votes to override a veto from the president. UCC Justice and Witness Ministries is encouraging members and environmental allies to tell their senators to vote against the pipeline, and to instead work toward a sustainable future for all. Pritchard has also drafted a letter that interfaith leaders will sign and send to the Senate next week calling for rejection of the pipeline and for the creation of jobs and economic opportunities through the development of sustainable energy. The Rev. Geoffrey Black, UCC president and general minister, and the Rev. Linda Jaramillo, executive minister for UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, are among the signatories. "It is especially critical at this time to reverse the effects of climate change by reducing our consumption of fossil fuels," the letter states. "Please vote against the Keystone XL Pipeline, regardless of what amendments are attached to the bill, and begin to work toward a sustainable future for all of God's creation." UCC pastors are also lifting their voices in local protests throughout the country. The Rev. Caren Caldwell, pastor of Medford Congregational UCC in Medford, Ore., took part in a demonstration against the pipeline on Tuesday, Jan. 13, alongside members of her church. The event was organized by national and local environmental groups and drew about two dozen people calling on Obama to veto the legislation if passed by Congress. Caldwell, whose congregation focuses heavily on creation care, said she participated because she wants the planet to survive for future generations and to be as wonderful a place as it was during her lifetime. "We must now turn to cleaner energy sources – solar, wind, wave – in order to cut carbon emissions," Caldwell said. "That's how we have to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Clean energy is our only chance for a healthy future for our descendants here on God's planet."
Note: I'm still having trouble with my internet. I hope to get it fixed in the next few days.
That video I posted of Carla Bley and Steve Swallow the other day made me think of this performance, how they talked about how Carla Bley had been protected from learning cliches by learning to play late in life. It would be hard to imagine how it could have been fresher than this, more beautiful.
- So long as a regime, however repressive, allied itself with the United States' interests in the Cold War, Secretary of State Haig would embrace it -- as so many of his predecessors had done. He supported the apartheid government in South Africa, pushed for military aid to the junta in Turkey, coddled the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia, and was a staunch supporter of the Marcos kleptocracy in the Philippines. After right-wing government forces in El Salvador raped and murdered four American churchwomen, Haig responded by informing a House committee investigating the atrocity that the vehicles the nuns were riding in may have tried to run a roadblock. Never mind that the women were found with bullets in the backs of their heads, 20 miles away from the roadblock in question.
- In 1988, Haig made his first and only run for public office when he sought the Republican presidential nomination. It was not an auspicious debut: The most influential person to endorse him was political comedian Mort Sahl. Haig pulled out of the race following the Iowa caucuses, where he finished seventh in a field of six candidates. With 364 votes -- 0.3 percent -- Haig had less than half the tally of the sixth-place finisher, "No preference." - Haig has demonstrated remarkable flexibility in selecting clients, being equally comfortable with despots on the right and left. In 1993, President Saparmurad Niyazov of Turkmenistan hired the general to advise him on winning U.S. business and political support for a natural-gas pipeline project that would cross Iran. Niyazov, a longtime Communist Party hack, was elected in 1992 with 99.5 percent of the votes cast. Human Rights Watch's current world report said his government "continued to deny its citizens nearly every civil and political right" while operating "a Soviet-style secret police" that allowed for "no political opposition, no freedom of assembly, no opportunity for public debate."
That's just a small part of what Sahl's main man was up to, just to see how influential his "satire" of the 1960s was on his own thinking.
What Salon giveth in an article by Cornel West, it taketh away in massive lies and distortions written by Michael Shermer, Patricia Miller,... And that's just what's on its "Most Read" list I consult as I write this. Before the week is out, several other Christian bashers will have their stuff posted there, not to mention the massive lies contained in the comments on those articles from quasi- if not possibly from actual professional atheist hate talkers.*
The writing of atheists, online, has to count as the most massive, the most dishonest and the most stupidly accepted of hate-talk around today among those accepted as genteel and respectable in our media. That what is clearly hate talk in the same tradition of old line antisemitism, when it's not, as well, antisemitic, as it is as often as what issues from the far right, is obvious. That it lies with the facility of someone who is a frequent fixture on FOX is obvious to anyone who knows much about the topics they trash. Today I was told a lie at Salon from that massive source of lies and hate, Christopher Hitchens, that The Reverend Martin Luther King jr. wasn't a Christian but was a disciple of Gandhi, as if one couldn't be both. I mean didn't these idiots even do that much research as to see Ian Charleson playing The Reverend Charles Freer Andrews in the movie? The guy the real life Gandhi nicknamed "Christ's Faithful Apostle"?
When a webloid pushes the amount of hate talk and lies that Salon does, when it services a hate community of the kind its atheist commentators comprise, it needs to be protested, what better way than with a boycott? I'd encourage someone with the voice to call for one to take it up.
* Just as we know that the Chinese government hires people to troll comment sites and FOX has people on its staff who do, it's obvious that other interested parties with the ability to do it have professional trolls. We also know from their boasts that groups such as the atheist promotion group "Guerrilla Skeptics for Wikipedia" organize to turn unmoderated sites into their tool. It's irresponsible for an alleged news source to open itself up to that kind of use as Salon certainly does. It is as clear that it is the benefit they gain from neo-atheists clicking on like trained monkeys in Skinner boxes is their most obvious motive. Countering them with a loss of revenue from a boycott could get their attention to the problem.
Update: No, I don't feel ashamed for pointing out that the late Christopher Hitchens was a documented liar and hate merchant, He wasn't ashamed to tell a massively refuted lie about the Christianity of The Reverend King, tacitly calling him a liar when he professed his religion, the basis of his profession and his activism. Christopher Hitchens was a liar, that the atheism industry promotes him only proves my point about lies being entirely compatible with the non-morality of atheists.
The taste of the times is, unhappily, to give to children something of book-learning, with a view of placing them to live, in some way or other, upon the labour of other people. Very seldom, comparatively speaking, has this succeeded, even during the wasteful public expenditure of the last thirty years; and, in the times that are approaching, it cannot, I thank God, succeed at all. When the project has failed, what disappointment, mortification and misery, to both parent and child! The latter is spoiled as a labourer: his book-learning has only made him conceited: into some course of desperation he falls; and the end is but too often not only wretched but ignominious.William Cobbett 1833 And they're still trying it, today.
So you looked at a small part of my archive dealing with the actual record of what Charles Darwin and his inner circle said. And you accuse me of wanting to suppress and censor science because of what I said.
Well, if that's the case I must be going about it all wrong because in those pieces and others in which I mention your St. Charles Darwin
I ASK PEOPLE TO READ HIM, HIS MAJOR BOOKS AND TO LOOK UP HIS CITATIONS, THE THINGS HE PRESENTS AS RELIABLE SCIENCE OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN, PROVIDING LINKS TO THEM.
Apparently the words "suppression" and "censorship" as used by you moderny, STEMy, sci-guys, has come to mean practically begging people to read someone's work and to believe he said what he so obviously said as to back it up with supporting SCIENTIFIC citations of works such as those by Galton and Haeckel, which I have given links to so they can, also, be read in their entirety. We unfortunates in the mere humanities have a different understanding of those two words, based in the discouragement of reading stuff.
I don't recall any of his greatest defenders doing that, begging people to read his two major books, in their entirety, with his scientific citations. They're more apt to pass off quote mined and cherry-picked passages in a way that the entire context proves, definitively, is dishonest. Yet you're accusing me of censorship and suppression. I don't, for a second, think that an honest reading of Darwin's scientific books will show anything but that I've presented him more honestly than the post-war fraud that is widely bought by the so-called educated class of folks today. And I have no doubt that my position is, in every way, more consistent with real liberalism than yours.
Update: Oh, and don't forget Darwin's letters, and what his children have to say about what he said and thought. His children unlike you or anyone in the post-war Darwin industry, knew him intimately and talked to him unrecorded. Their Charles Darwin has an authenticity that yours and that of ideology pushing scholars who didn't know him can never achieve. I've also encouraged people to read those resources, as well, with links.
The pride and conceit of the formerly rising educated middle-class was one of the most successful weapons that the oligarchs used to destroy the middle-class. Those will finish the job unless the educated middle-class gives them up and makes common cause with those they love to look down on. As I've pointed out before, those who made fun of Archie Bunker lost to real life Archie Bunkers and that pride and conceit and disdain of the slightly more affluent, slightly better educated were some of the most potent tools used by right-wing Republicans to dupe the lower-middle class who were the target of that pride and conceit. Instead of demonstrating, with respect, that the class stereotyped by Archie Bunker had a lot more to gain by making common cause with black people in the same economic class, the media that passed as liberalism in the 1960s and 1970s made that impossible.
Those who suffered weren't the oligarchs who used everyone, including the snobs who were as duped as those they disdained as ignorant white trash. It was, first, everyone in the underclass who payed the price and, as the Republican ascendancy made possible by that situation took hold and populated the courts, legislatures, the congress and executive offices around the country, the very middle-class who are now forced out of a college education or burdened with a crushing debt that insures its value in economic terms is a lot less than it once was.
So the pride of the educated middle-class turned out to be enjoyed at their own expense, even as they preened in it.
This is a product of legal and economic theories cooked up in our elite universities and sold through the very media that sold the college educated class talked about above on the very ideas that produced it. I believe that in the United States it was, as much as anything, public television and radio that sold those theories. PBS made Milton Friedman a household name with his falsely named "Free To Choose". I know that people who had never heard of Milton Friedman and his market religion started gassing on about it on talk radio even as that series was airing in 1980 and that it was part of what brought Ronald Reagan into office. It made ideas that had been abandoned as they brought ruin to the middle and underclass before Franklin Roosevelt current with a generation that had never experienced life before the Second-World War. And those ideas are so entrenched that even the experience of the Bush II crash of 2008 hasn't led to them being abandoned.
I think the two things were part of an actual strategy which has developed over time, the success of it has been built on by the oligarchs and their kept media, the presence of Barack Obama made useful to them due to his color, no doubt about that, but also due to his having largely bought the same University of Chicago - Harvard based economic and legal theory. Had he been a Roosevelt Democrat instead of a Harvard Democrat things might have been different (remembering that FDR relished his status as a class traitor, something Obama never would be). If Obama hadn't betrayed his disdain for the white underclass* even as he showed some appreciation for their actual condition, things would have been entirely different.
As that piece I posted yesterday (we didn't lose power as I'd feared) pointed out, the economic justice that was as much a part of The Reverend Martin Luther King's struggle is what has been most effectively buried by the oligarchs. And, I think, the class snobbery of so many media and university based "liberals" was useful to those who buried that major part of what he called for. That it was probably the most powerful means of persuading and converting the white underclass to the cause of equal justice, through improving the material well-being of them as well as the other members of that class, made it the most dangerous to the oligarchs.
The very people who prided themselves on their intellectual superiority aided the divide and conquer strategy of the oligarchs through the witty, class-based put-downs of the white underclass even as they had the proof that those people could put a Richard Nixon into office if they weren't won over. Though the role of the very same white "left" who called for dumping Johnson and who undermined Hubert Humphrey's candidacy had a large part to play in that too. I have no doubt, at all, that Supreme Court justices nominated by Humphrey would have never embarked on the same attacks on the legacies of Roosevelt, Truman and Johnson that Nixon's did. I have no doubt that the economic situation we have today would not have happened if he had won instead of Nixon, I have no doubt that an effective margin of the white underclass who we lost to the Republicans would not have defected, though the snobbery of the pseudo-left may have done that, by itself.
------ Well, if you look around the "leftist" webloids and blogs you'll see that the "left" such as write those and who leave comments on those are as full of themselves as they ever were. A lot of those, one generation or more removed from the parents and grandparents of the "new left" of the 1960s seem to me to be even more entrenched in their conceit, even as they find themselves overloaded with college debt and stuck in jobs as dead-end and on their way to being as hopeless as trash collectors and other menial workers, though some of them still have labor contracts that give them some dignity in their work, those whose jobs haven't been outsourced or the such. If this will be the last generation of white, college educated middle-class people who can maintain that pose of superiority, I won't guess at. Its expectations of material privilege are a fading expectation and a myth, though they can still disdain such as make the faux pas of eating at an Olive Garden restaurant. Their educations, bought with such lavish borrowing doesn't seem to have made them any smarter. If they find that insulting, they should consider that the "trailer trash" they like to insult don't like it any better than they do. And they've demonstrated more political power than the snobs have over the past forty years.
I have given up on them and don't seem much hope for a revival of the liberal legacy coming from them, though there are certainly college educated folk, liberals who aren't part of their fifty-years in the wilderness and counting. I put my hopes in them and in those members of the underclass, white as well as of color, who are not snobs, I think those are some of the people closest to The Reverend King's Beloved Community.
They don't despise people so they can tell themselves how much smarter they are or, as it actually is the case, that they're more sophisticated, fashionable and cool. That's what the pride of those snobs actually is based in, their idiocy over the course of the political disasters they've aided shows it's not a matter of intelligence or a real education.
* "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." The media, the media that counts due to its right-wing ubiquity, from the overtly racist oligarchic tool, FOX, to the more genteel oligarchic tools that pretty much constitute the rest of it, shortened that into a slogan "guns or religion" in a way that helped to blight the chances of him having as successful a presidency as he might have.
The economics of his chosen team of Ivy Leaguers certainly didn't do much to help those members of the underclass he targeted. You will have noticed that he was as eager to protect "trade" as he was the groups of mere people he referred to and he certainly has pushed "trade" harder than he did immigration issues, up til now, something he agrees with Republicans on far more than he does even those in his party more interested in justice for the underclass and middle class who have been the losers during the period of freest trade in history. The situation in which the top 1% have stolen the bulk of the worlds wealth is made possible by free-trade, the proof of that is as ubiquitous as the proof for global-warming, denying its reality is willful self-deception.
A commentator at RMJ's blog reminded me last week that Dorothy Day told people not to call her a saint, that she wasn't going to let them dismiss her that easily. If she had The Reverend Martin Luther King jr. in mind when she said that, I don't know but she well could have.
The right dismisses him when they remove the demands for social justice and, especially his demands for economic justice and play that tiny fragment of his "Dream" speech which is meaningless without the rest of that speech and without the sum of his defiance of the total program of the capitalist, imperial state. A Martin Luther King jr. who can be promoted by those who oppose everything he worked for is a false, empty image of the real person, mounted to bury the real King.
The putative left began to dismiss him during his lifetime, first as figures allegedly more to the left than he was who dismissed his non-violence and his Blessed Community as they and their ridiculous, futile programs and theories squandered the movement and denied the basic moral content that empowered it. They continue to dismiss him today, even as such moral sink holes as Christopher Hitchens try to condescendingly dismiss the Christianity that Reverend King, himself, constantly cited as his moral authority and his motivation, the reason for his sacrifice and his call for self-sacrifice.
The left, the real left, not the play left, reclaiming and promoting King's legacy and taking him seriously, right down to the religious foundation that made his life's work happen, is among the more important things we can do. We need to take him that seriously, that we take his words to mean what he said and to not suppress those unwelcomed by the ineffective, play left who have produced nothing to give us any confidence in them.
One of the things I think was a mistake was to close schools on the holiday dedicated to him. Considering the central importance that public education was to the struggle for civil rights, it is a strange and immoral irony that schools are closed for this day, parades and programs for adults to be seen at taking the place of children being presented with the central struggle of our history. It was a big mistake to make it just another Monday holiday to ignore the meaning of. I would propose re-writing the laws establishing the holiday to require that schools remain open and the day be dedicated to talking about the goals of justice, economic and otherwise. Though that would be resisted because the last thing they'd want to make the day about is what King struggled and died for.
Another thing that is unfortunate is that King's family has restricted access to his words, his central legacy, his tools for making things happen. I understand why his widow would have wanted to secure some economic security for her and his children, who had made such a sacrifice for the movement, but the result has been a diminishment of his legacy and its role in the continuation of progress towards his goals.
If anyone has access to billionaires with such an inclination, they should suggest to them that they might put up the money to make an offer to those who control King's written and filmed legacy to make it more accessible to use by scholars and those who are struggling for his goals, today. I wouldn't think putting them into the public domain is a good idea because it would expose them to uses and indignities that wouldn't serve any good purpose. But they should be controlled by those who understand and share his goals without charge to those who share those goals.
Here is one of the great Bill Moyers interviews with James Cone and Taylor Branch on King's Fight for Economic Justice. I've posted it before but it is worth listening to, again.