Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ben Wendel Group w/Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders, Henry Cole. "Jean and Renata"

Hate Mail File Why I Dissed Who I Dissed

I remember, back in the long lost days when feminism was really feminism and one of its major issues was opposing the reduction of women into objects to display, consume and use, that I came to the realization that that was, in fact, the basic moral problem that distinguished liberalism from the capitalist right.   I remember reading feminists on the topic and, now that I think about it, I think their analyses had a lot to do with how I avoided a lot of the dangerous practices, depraved thinking and, quite likely HIV in the coming years.   There were things I wouldn't agree to do based on a rejection of seeing myself and other men as objects without regard to our welfare and good and I think that isn't unrelated to what the now derided "second-wave" feminists pointed out to me.   I will always be grateful to the women who held out for women being more than objects.

The issue of whether or not people are objects or are embodied souls or are in some way more than mere, ephemeral, negligible physical units, important, if at all, taken in mass as a quantum of naturalistic force is, in fact, still central to the success or failure of the left and I am ever more convinced that is demonstrated by the failure of the materialist left.   I am impressed with how The People, derided angrily as ignorant fools and dupes of the capitalists, never the less, got that right.  The total and absolute failure of the Communists in elections here is a practical demonstration of vox populi vox dei in action.   The anger of leftists and even some putative liberals at that rejection is rather irrational, or what don't they get about electoral democracy and the requirement of abiding by the decision of The People.

I think there is no accident that it was, largely, materialists who championed pornography and prostitution.   And I don't think there is any accident that it was, among other things, presented within an attack against the majority religious view of morality exactly in regard to the question of whether or not people were physical objects for display, consumption and use.  I also don't think the feminists of the 1960s and 70s were wrong in which side they took in that struggle.  For that brief period, the choice taken was absolutely consistent with the view of women as the possessors of inherent, intrinsic, inalienable rights and the absolute moral obligation that they be treated as such.

There is an impossible to breach contradiction between the view of people as objects and people as spiritual beings.  It is the inevitable difference between considering people as objects available for commercial use and the legal and moral view of people who are the inevitable possessors of rights which must be observed and moral obligations to observe those rights.   I think the decision of many feminists who were presented with the choice that is forced by that inevitable conflict to come down for the pro-porn, pro-prostitution side is evidence that when someone chooses materialism that will, inevitably win out over any other consideration.

Materialism is a monist system, it can't allow for any other possibilities, it will dominate and, when the exigencies of rights are pushed to their limits, it will destroy rights.  I don't think it is any accident that the officially Marxist countries were the champion violators of human rights, rivaled only by the capitalist right where they dominated.

More on The Truth According To The Pollittburo

“Like a lot of lawyers in the party, my father combined uncritical devotion to the imaginary Soviet Union in his head with a passion for rights and the Constitution straight out of the ACLU charter. If you want to be cynical about it, you could say their commitment to civil liberties was just a self-serving tactic, but I think it was more that their minds ran on parallel tracks and they believed what they believed while they were believing it. They were like Christians who put their faith in both miracles and surgery.” 
― Katha Pollitt, Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories

I have a feeling that what Pollitt doesn't know about the history of the doctors who developed the art and science of surgery would pretty much comprise a history of surgery.   I think she probably knows about as much concerning Christians.    As someone who recently has had to point out to folks of her ideological camp that a good part of the history of hospitals in The United States and other places where they've been has been the fact that in the period when it was not profitable to do so, it was Christian Churches that set up large numbers of hospitals, primarily for treating poor people who couldn't afford treatment and, yes, Katha, SURGERY. And not only Christians but our older siblings, Jews.   I would guess, though I don't know, that lots of hospitals are set up as charities by Muslims where they flourish.  You know, those monotheistic religions you love to hate on.

On the other hand, I requested a list of hospitals set up under the moral umbrella of atheism or materialism.  I have yet to get one from anyone I've made that request to.

I'm not surprised when I find communists, especially members of Communist parties in The United States, Britain or any other quasi-democratic country talking bilge and practicing it.  There's no requirement in atheism to not lie and deceive and to practice a single instead of a double standard they rig in their favor.  That has pretty much been the history of both communism and ideological atheism, which I have studied and can come up with examples, as I have been recently.   While her father was a Stalinist ACLU guy (as, indeed the godless father of organized atheism in the USA, Corliss Lamont was, look it up) as his guys were championing the right of the most brutal and misogynistic porn to be freely distributed, it was illegal to own a typewriter or to have too much paper in their atheist paradise.   If you got convicted of distributing porn here you might get a jail sentence and a fine here, in their atheist paradise, if you wrote in favor of freedom to speak your mind and tell the truth there you could easily get sent to the gulags or shot.

Of course, their own sweet asses were never on the line for the rights of people under Stalin and Khrushchev.   They were living the good life as professionals in New York or some other place in that hellishly "Christian-inflected" culture. Speaking of which, as little Katha was growing up in the "Christian-inflected" hell-hole here, her father's hero was mounting his last pogrom against Jewish doctors.  Who were being shot.  As I recall reading, his doctor, who was probably not Jewish at that point, wasn't able to be brought to his deathbed because he was under torture for having said he was unwell.

I am done lying for you guys, I've read you and I've looked into your phony factoids.  You have no integrity and you've lied about just about everything, even as you're responsible for dragging down the real left.  As far as I've concluded you never did much of anything else except make the world safe for pornographers and pimps.

I reject it all because I am an absolute equality, distribute the wealth, single-payer healthcare, women own their bodies, no means no, education up to the highest level of your abilities is a right and a social good,  rational infrastructure in good working order, public library for all supporting leftist.  I'm all of those BECAUSE I BELIEVE JESUS TOLD THE TRUTH, not because I think people are just some evolved molecules controlled by physics and that's all.

Oh, and where I found that quote, I also found this, in regard to last night's post.

“Maybe I’m not cut out for monogamy,” G. had said to me early on. “Maybe I should just live in a room by myself and have girlfriends.” Another woman might have said, “Now, where did I put my coat?” Being a madly infatuated rationalist who had read her Simone de Beauvoir, I took a deep breath and carefully and calmly explained that of course he had to make up his own mind about how he wanted to live, and that I understood fidelity wasn’t for everyone, that some people could be perfectly happy without it, but I wanted to give my whole self in love and I couldn’t do that if I was being compared to other women on a daily basis (which I was) or if our relationship was only tentative and provisional (which it was). “Sweetie!” he said when I finished. “I love it that you can say how you feel without getting angry at me.” That other woman would have slammed the door behind her before he’d finished speaking. They say philanderers are attractive to women because of the thrill of the chase—you want to be the one to capture and tame that wild quarry. But what if a deeper truth is that women fall for such men because they want to be those men? Autonomous, in charge, making their own rules. Imagine that room G. spoke of, in which the women would come and go—is there not something attractive about it? Rain tapping softly on the tin ceiling, a desk, a lamp, a bed. A woman dashes up the narrow stairs, her raincoat flaring, her wet face lifted up like a flower. And then, the next day—maybe even the same day—different footsteps, another expectant face. I had to admit, it was an exciting scenario. You wouldn’t want to be one of the women trooping up and down the staircase, but you might want to be the man who lived in the room.”
― Katha Pollitt, Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories

Just out of curiosity, Katha, what did you think of the rationality of "Must We Burn de Sade?"   You know, the atheist "feminist" champion of BDSM porn and door mat of Sartre's glorious call for the liberty of those who want to advocate the abduction, sadistic torture, rape, maiming and, as I recall, murder of women.   You know, the guy who wrote Les 120 journées de Sodome or l'école du libertinage, which was rescued and championed by Iwan Bloch,  the guy who wrote so much about how religion is pathological even as he campioned all kinds of kinky sex that wasn't exactly an expression of equality and dignity.  You're probably parroting his echoing factoids on religion regularly without even knowing their origin.  I wrote about that once, and, yes, I said the world would probably be a bit better if Les 120 journées de Sodome had not survived the storming of the Bastille. Simone de Beauvoir figures into it, too.  I wasn't very impressed with their rationality.

Do you ever listen to yourself?   I mean, talk about your doormats of men.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Yeah, It Makes All The Sense In The World To Blame People Who Disapprove of Sadistic Sex and Porn for S&M Porn

I knew before I read Katha Pollitt's review of the movie 50 Shades of Grey that she'd find some way to blame it on Christians and, of course, she does.

Let’s say you’re a woman who wants to have a handsome man worship your body, desire you intensely, focus on you sexually with incredible skill, and bring you to earthshaking orgasm in about thirty seconds. You never have to exert yourself on his behalf—his satisfaction happens automatically as a byproduct of yours. If porn for women mirrored porn for men, that’s what it would look like. But let’s say, in addition, that you are marinated in a Christianity-inflected culture that inculcates women with sexual shame, insecurity about their looks and lovability and self-worth in general, and tells them in a thousand ways that men are superior, male power is sexy, and suffering is redemptive. Then you might end up with porn for women that looks a lot like Fifty Shades of Grey.

Actually, if you lived in a "Christianity-inflected culture"  you'd be more likely to have the Songs of Solomon (not exactly a book informed by Christianity, by the way) as being the raciest thing you're likely to encounter as approved literature.   You could be expected to not have BDSM porn because every single thing about it violates every single thing about how to treat other people that is taught by Jesus.   Somehow, I don't think a book in which the guy only did to the gal what he'd want done to him would sell as S&M.  You do realize they weren't married in the story, don't you?

I don't know of a widely accepted Christian theologian who taught that bondage and sado-masochism are good or, in fact, anything but deeply immoral.

I can, though, think of lots and lots and lots of atheists, free speech industry hacks and the such who have advocated and supported such books, including Simone de Beauvoir and lots of totally anti-Christian writers and political theorists who have probably not been on Pollitt's to-crap on list.

At the very least, Katha, old chum,  the authors of such stuff share more responsibility for its presence than Christianity does.   I doubt any of them were pious and strictly observant Christians, though I'd like to know of any you can list who can be convincingly accepted as such.

Oh, wait,  don't I seem to recall reading her talking about her job as a porn proof-reader in that collection of essays a dozen or more years ago?  I wonder if she ever assisted in the publication of S&M porn.  And I wonder what a review of the archive of the magazines she has worked for would reveal about support for the publication of that genre of junk.

And there was that weird essay about her Marxist study group full of her boyfriend's lovers.   I wonder if they ever went into the rape murders of Comrade Lavrentiy  Beria or the young girls forced into training as sex slaves in The Peoples Republic of North Korea or the widespread sex slavery in The Peoples' Republic of China.   Apparently none of that is inconsistent with Marxism as practiced in the real world, though I can tell you no main-line Church would ever be reasonably accused of advocating it.

Pollitt is hooked up with the Freedom From Religion gang and probably any number of other venues of that part time employment for those who are finding that the paid scribbling gig isn't what it used to be back in the age of ink on paper.   She can now be counted on to slam Christianity in just about anything she can fit it into.   Perhaps she gets paid for a kind of product placement when she puts something like that in a piece.

And, by the way, I haven't encountered a single man who has either admitted to having read the thing or who I've seen carrying the book in public.  You're way, way off base on this one Katha.

Sophisticats The Geeks Can't Compete

That music for cats that's all over the web today?   My cats didn't bother to look up.  But, then, they've been listening to Pauline Oliveros and Roger Sessions a lot this week.  The geeks can't compete with the real thing.  

William Flanagan - Valentine to Sherwood Anderson

Valentine to Sherwood Anderson

Don't know why the Youtubes sometimes won't post, it's aggravating but here's the link.  

Flanagan committed suicide too young for him to have developed into the distinguished composer he would just about certainly have been.  Of the Aaron Copland influenced composers, he was one of the best.  Especially in the rarely well done field of song writing.  I was looking for his setting of James Merrill's Another August and came across this song, performed beautifully by Mary Ann Hart and Dennis Helmrich.

Sherwood Anderson was one of the most important writers for me as a young teenager, the first story, proper, in Winesburg Ohio was probably the first sympathetic treatment of a gay man I ever encountered.   I might have been about thirteen - my older sister had the book from a college class.  The rest of the stories in the book and, especially the introductory one, Book of the Grotesques, were as big an influence on me as anything I read while a teenager.   Later I read other of his books and stories and even a collection of his late newspaper columns, sort of a Lake Woebegone collection of small town fictions, the Buck Fever Papers.   When I imagine small town life from the early part of the last century and the late 19th, those are constructed that out Anderson's stories.  

He had one of the more interesting deaths, peritonitis caused by having swallowed a toothpick, some think from a martini.   He was an infamous drinker.   I left that last detail out when I told my young niece why she should take the toothpick out of her mouth when she was about six.  At least she learned the word peritonitis if nothing else. 

I'll Let Joan Morris and William Bolcolm Do The Talking For Me

The New Atheists Aren't New But They've Always Been Bullying Bossy Boots

I was going to write a long post when I read this article in the March 1928 edition of "The Communist" Atheism and "Evolution" by Bertram D. Wolfe because it ties together so many strands of what I've been writing about but most of what Wolfe has to say you've heard me on before.  Instead of his diatribe being much about evolution, it's the same old hat about how only atheists are real scientists and that science requires atheism and how an English major like Wolfe knows what science is better than even such eminent scientists of the day such as David Starr Jordan, an eminent ichthyologist and the founding president of Stanford University.   Which was interesting, in itself as you'll see.

Along the way he also gets some digs at the Socialists in the form of John M. Work, formerly the Executive Secretary of the Socialist Party and an editorial writer for Victor Berger's paper,  The Milwaukee Leader.   I'm tempted to go into what he said about both Work and Jordan but you can read that yourself, as well as the article Wolfe slams, since the magazine, Evolution, is also available online.   That kind of stuff being  available is one of the best things about the internet as it develops.  Work pointed out the fact that nothing in science demanded atheism and it couldn't logically tell you anything about the supernatural.  A point Wolfe doesn't refute though he heaps up a heap of ideological crap instead of that.  Interesting for those who have read a lot of the garbage issuing from the Lysenkoists in the coming decades, lots of the same language is used in Wolfe's attack in the article.   Oh, and Marxism is, of course, presented as science.

Wolfe also embodies other things, other than the scientistic, materialist, Marxist bully boy and bossy boots that typifies those I've been writing about.  He also was involved with, first a schism that saw him leave the Communist Party. then out of communism and the left as he ended up as a hack at the right-wing think tank,  The Hoover Institution at Stanford (what did I say about tying up loose ends) but who didn't leave scientistic atheism as he was also a signatory of the Humanist Manifesto II, for atheists who apparently didn't think that the first one was atheistically pure enough and bossy enough.   That Manifesto was written by Paul Kurtz, the henchman of the trustifarian Stalinist Corliss Lamont who had bought out the hard up Humanists about twenty years before then.   Apparently Wolfe's anti-communism wasn't sufficient to overcome the attraction of being associated with one of Stalin's agents to that extent.  Apparently the enduring aspect of his ideology in 1928 was his atheism and his hostility to religion.   I must say, I wonder who funded Wolfe's stay at the Hoover Institute.  I'd love to find out that Lamont had something to do with it, as a fan of irony.

John Work, so far as I've been able to gather, always remained on the left until he died in the early 1960s, though he mostly wrote law text books after Berger's paper went under and the Socialists were wrecked by the communists.  He was a lawyer  (the internet has also taught me that the reasoning of those trained in the law is often better than that of the would-be sciency types).  I'm not aware of him ever lecturing scientists on their ideological impurity.  I have a feeling I'd have liked him more.

I have to tell you that the more I look at organized atheism the more ties I see with the idiots who tried to push atheism through communism and Marxism while that looked like it might be a viable vehicle for their real interests and the organizations and institutions they started to push it.  Since they're the ones who don't believe anything happens for no reason, I don't feel hesitant to come to some conclusions as to why that might be.

Update:  Those Massachusetts Unitarians!

The "Left" As Our Worst Enemies 1

One of the most aggravating things about looking at the history of the left, how it failed, how it failed to learn from its failures and even failed to learn from what worked.   We have had a gift for choosing what didn't work, especially in the period when the liberal programs of Franklin Roosevelt produced a class of relatively affluent liberal rank and file and their children for whom many of  the planks in the liberal platform weren't a dream for the future, but what they grew up expecting out of habit.

It wasn't any accident that the last period of real success for the left, when it was capable of making revolutionary changes happen was around the struggle to end Jim Crow, to end legal discrimination against black people and other members of oppressed members of minority groups, people for whom the post-war prosperity didn't happen and, in many cases, were not much better off than their ancestors had been in the period after reconstruction ended.   That a large group of people need to have a real stake in liberalism for it to work is not a scientific law but it would seem to make complete sense.  I don't think that it would have worked then if the people in that group with the biggest stake in the struggle had not been saturated with the metaphysical prerequisites for their claim of rights to have any reality, found in their religion.

Those are not found in materialism at all. I think the lack of that is one of the main reasons that Maxism not only failed to produce anything like American liberalism delivered on but, also, why it produced the opposite of egalitarian democracy and a decent, peaceful life.  Not only does a materialist, one who presses their ideology, not believe those are real but they inevitably have to attack them because they can't be found within their ideology.  I think facing the fact that the history of atheists purportedly of the left leads to the inescapable conclusion that their hostility to religion is, for almost all of them, far stronger than any devotion to those metaphysical matters of faith and that, inevitably, materialism will win out over every other consideration, to the detriment of the basic substance of liberalism was the hardest thing I've ever had to face.  The fact is that much if not most of the program of the materialist left, including things such as the championing of the porn and prostitution industries, is what they substitute for a real agenda.   That it turns out to, actually, favor modern slavery, right wing publishers and, extended into political terms, such as the Koch bros and other fascists, does nothing to refute my conclusions.

One of the biggest frustrations in reading the history of success of the left from the beginnings of Franklin Roosevelt's administration to the election of Richard Nixon is how the Communists and others attached themselves to that success and damaged it, discredited it and, most damaging of all undermined and diverted it from continuing to make success.   All in all, the pseudo-left, the ones who never did anything much to further progress, were the best and most effective tool for those on the right who opposed The New Deal and The Great Society and, of course, the Civil Rights movement.

Those guys have been poison to the real, working, effective left yet they are constantly presented as the quintessence of the left, the real left, the only heritage of the left.   I have come to conclude that maybe that is, as well, a part of our continuing eclipse, something that might not be just another coincidence, though that is based only on the fact that it, in the end, has also benefited the Republican right to have liberals so basically misled about out history.

In reviewing the claims of membership numbers in the Communist and other parties of the pseudo-left, I came across one estimate that at one point in the 1950s more than a tenth of the Communists may have been plants and informers, primarily from the FBI and other police agencies.   Agents provocateurs were also a standard feature in those counted as members of, not only the Communist Party but in any organization of the left.   In reading some letters of and to Eugene Debs,there was one extremely interesting one, by Ernst Untermann charging a prominent "comrade," George Shoaf, of  being that kind of agent and clearly mentioning the internal undermining of socialism through those means.  While the Pinkertons seem to be a quaint name from the past, the Associated Press and Merchants and Manufacturers' organizations were present, charged with being among those who benefited more from Shoaf's actions than the Socialists did.   I will say that of those "leftists" I'm aware of who have turned to the far right, often with a great improvement in their incomes and lifestyle, have generally been from the materialist, atheist "left".   A lot of those mentioned in the article as being fools and tools and dupes were prominent members of the socialist movement.

One of the things that has become evident to me in reviewing this history is that anyone who advocates violence should be suspected as being a plant with a goal of undermining and discrediting the left.  Or even if they aren't an actual plant of doing the same thing for whatever personal goals, self-aggrandizement and cult building for personal edification being the equivalent as those are the fundamental goals of our political opponents and their oligarchic sponsors, as well.

Another thing that has become evident to me is that Christian liberals have to spit out the gag placed on them by atheists and others and begin to assert that their beliefs are, in fact, the strongest resources and means of sustenance of a real left, one that will convince people to support it, to win elections and to make laws.

As our past two Ivy League presidents have shown, as the other elite, well educated members of our governments and courts prove, the best wisdom of academia is no guarantor of that.   Our continued failure proves that having the facts won't do it.   You have to really, really believe that you are required to do justice, to practice equality, to respect rights, etc. or you'll find excuses to put something else before those.  Most typically, expediency.  You will constantly and cynically convince yourself that people can't be convinced to sacrifice anything toward those goals.   How can you expect to convince other people to do those hard things if you undermine the very claims that they are a moral obligation?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Weber Iago 4tet + Quatuor Thais : "Navegante"

No, I didn't give up jazz for lent.

Weber Iago - piano, composition
Pierre Bernard - flute
Henri Greindl - bass
Tonio Reina - drums

Quatuor Thaïs :
Caroline Bayet - 1st violin
Virginie Petit - 2nd violin
Wendy Ruymen - viola
Cathy Adam - cello

Update:  "O outro lado do teu sonho"

Hate Mail File

It's always hard to know when to drop a topic as important as how liberals can regain political power so we can stop corporate fascism and maybe keep the world from frying, either in a nuclear exchange or through global warming. 

It could have been worse, I could have told you what I ate for lunch and dissed Lennon again. Actually, I found this recipe for dairy free cabbage perogies.....  

"Merely Christianity in action. It recognizes the equality in men." Eugene Debs

Beyond personal differences lay the critical question of the meaning and validity of a class analysis of American society.  As [Victor] Berger, Heath, and some of the Massachusetts members groped toward a more orthodox position, one that took Marx and Engels seriously, the majority in the party, including Debs, remained rooted in an older, classless vision of society.   In an editorial in November 1897 the Social Democrat urged caution in preaching class consciousness, as it may "do mischief."  It "is a good servant but a bad master.  Socialism is something more than a mere labor question.  It is a demand for equalizing of burdens nd equslizing of benefits throughout the whole society.  Class consciousness for the laboring man is safe where it is made part of a high moral demand in the interests of society as a complete organism and not of one class only."  Noting that many earlier Socialist activists and thinkers, from Ferdinand Lassalle and Marx to John Ruskin and Karle Liebknect, came from the middle class, the official paper of the party concluded:  "An effective American Socialist Party must ... make its campaign on the highest moral grounds.  We must not make socialism obnoxious to the people."  

Wayland, editor of the popular Appeal to Reason, expressed this idea more succinctly.  "There should be but one class of people,"  he wrote, " a working class, men and women doing useful things required for a high state of civilization."  But, as would be the case in years to come as well, Debs, himself, best expressed the gulf that existed between Berger's theory and, a more traditional American approach.  Speaking in Newark,  New Jersey, he asked rhetorically,   "What is Socialism?"  His answer frustrated Berger:  "Merely Christianity in action.  It recognizes the equality in men."

Eugene V. Debs: Citizen and Socialist  By Nick Salvatore

The academic writing over the religious thought of Eugene Debs might make a good case study for the extent to which ideological predisposition determines what is said about history by whom.   The passage I typed out is within a really fascinating study of the early years of Socialism as a political party and movement in the United States and, itself, is a good place to look as to how Socialism which was inspired by irrelevant and uncharacteristic assumptions and observations failed to take hold in the United States.   The struggle over the mind of the very popular Eugene Debs and the failure of even the pragmatic Victor Berger to understand that Debs' own socialism was founded on the traditional values of American liberalism and so could be counted on to be more acceptable to Americans than European Marxism could probably tell us a lot more about how to make progress instead of repeating mistakes.

As Salvatore points out,  Debs made some rather large concessions to those such as Berger in order to make organizing possible, I strongly suspect that a lot of what he said about Christianity was crafted with that in mind.   Liberal Christians have, generally, been more flexible in asserting their thoughts than Marxists have been.  I'm not sure that wasn't a bad idea, in itself and am confident there isn't anything to be gained by making concessions to their descendants, the neo-atheists who offer nothing but the stalemated failure of the atheist left.

The extent to which Debs was trying to modify his presentation of Jesus, The Supreme Leader in 1914 to convince the scientific-materialists in the movement to tone down the anti-Christian rhetoric is worth considering.  I get the feeling that he was doing a sort of tight-rope act which I don't think he found entirely convincing, himself.  If he was a Christian, as I believe he was, is unknowable though I am certain that the often encountered de-Christianized Debs is false, an ideological distortion, itself.

While I can't read the paper due to it being behind a pay wall, I did find this abstract interesting.

Eugene Debs underwent a transformation over the course of his life that compelled him to replace a brand of unionism rooted in nationalism with a variant of socialism based on internationalism. As a trade and industrial unionist, Debs employed American political traditions linked to citizenship to attack the inequality and injustice engendered by corporations. After he became a socialist, however, Debs seriously questioned the values of citizenship and the heritage of the American Revolution, ultimately transcending the ideological framework he had utilized as a unionist. Previous historians have missed this shift in Debs's thought because they have presented his Christianity as an extension of his preoccupation with citizenship and the American Revolution. Debs emerged from a republican tradition, but his concern with the fate of humanity led him to substitute his earlier focus on American citizenship with the interests of a worldwide civilization. This process of growth caused Debs to elevate socialism in order to denigrate capitalism, exchange the particular virtues of independence and liberty for the universal values of interdependence and brotherhood, and swap the founding fathers and their revolution for Jesus and his revolutionary gospel. In the end, Debs was more concerned with perfecting the internationalist goals of civilization than the nationalist values of citizenship, and he believed that the perfection of humanity endorsed by Christianity was also the overarching goal of socialism.

Anyone who doesn't think that would have been entirely more likely to succeed as an American socialism than the dialectical materialism of Marx doesn't know the first thing about Americans or, I would argue, people anywhere in the world. One of the conflicts between Victor Berger and Eugene Debs in the late 1890s was based on Berger's security in his own intellectual superiority based in his superior knowledge of Marx and Engels (see Salvatore's book linked to for details).  I think as a political matter, he was wrong about that.  I suspect he learned as much as time went on and practical politics took over from sterile theorizing.

But there was a deeper conflict within Marx, between his genuine horror at the violent and cruel treatment of workers, his desires to improve the lot of working people in the brutal 19th century industrial capitalism and his own intellectual pride and pretensions based in the scientism and atheism common to his intellectual class.   Nothing in his materialism could be found that asserted that the working poor had any right to have a better life, to be treated as more than industrial raw material used and expended for the maximization of profit, exactly the means to which they have been put by most of the "Marxist" governments which have ever gained control over a country, one of the major sources of the rejection of communism by any informed group and, in fact, by those who lived under those regimes as soon as they could get rid of them.

If socialism had not taken that course and had followed something more in line with Eugene Debs' original, pre-indoctrination, pre-compromise concept, things might have been entirely different.

Communists Deserved The Distrust Of The Left

While it is always a huge mistake in politics to subject the past and present to the reductionist processes of both pseudo-science and romanticism, it's interesting to look at the position of the Socialist Party in the period just before, under orders from Lenin, it was destroyed by the communists in it and outside of it.

The book The Long Detour by James Weinstein is one of the better analyses of how the left went so wrong in the 20th century.  While I think Weinstein isn't without his faults, he avoided many of the worst examples of both wishful thinking and demonization of opponents.  That given he seems to have shared the far too common habit of not understanding the central role that religion, and especially Christianity have played in any successful political movement.  I, of course, think that is one of the central defects of the would-be scientific left and among its strongest weaknesses.   I will point out that when it comes to the Christian left, there isn't a reciprocal rejection of what science can legitimately tell us about the physical world, though there is, generally, a more sophisticated appreciation for the limits of where science can really do what it does.  Weinstein certainly should have known that, considering the real presence of Christian socialists in the Socialist Party, more about which, later.

With that reservation, here's what he says about the rise of the old Socialist Party, not to be confused with many other "parties" which called themselves "socialist" and acted in ways that only brought discredit to the word.

After describing the industrialization and modernization going on in the late 19th century and early 20th,  Weinstein said:

These developments marked a major step in the maturing of American capitalism.  They were reflected also in the coming of age of social and political movements representing the interests of workers and farmers, among which was the creation of the Socialist Party.  Even when socialism burst onto the political landscape as a bona fide American movement, however, its greatest strength did not reside in numbers.  Indeed, socialism was a relatively minor player in the panoply of farmers, workers, and middle-class businessmen and professionals who formed the social base of the Populist and Progressive movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries.

Still, the new party did grow rapidly.  By 1912, its defense of working people and its democratic vision permeated all ranks of society and provided much of the yeast for the intellectual ferment of the time.  From this mix of social forces and ideologies, the Socialists emerged as the most enduring organized group.  To many of those who had not followed the arcane course of the sectarian left, the popularity of this new movement came as a shocking surprise. 

Within ten years of the party's founding, more than 100,000 members were paying dues each month, and there probably were an equal number of sporadic adherents.  By 1912, when Debs received 900,000 votes for president, Victor Berger had been elected to Congress from Milwaukee, seventy-four municipalities throughout the country had elected Socialist mayors, and 340 cities and towns had elected more than 1,200 lesser Socialist officials.  In the American Federation of Labor, too - despite president Samuel Gomper's hostility and the influence of the Catholic Church's anti-Socialist Militia of Christ - one-third of the federations international affiliates had elected Socialist presidents.  Still, in the years before the United States entered the first World War, Socialists elected only two men to the House of Representatives.

Agrarian progressives had done much better.  They had elected hundreds to Congress and they had played a major role in initiating reform legislation.  Yet the farmers movements were, on the whole a rearguard defense of their former status, while the Socialists' ideas and programs corresponded to the developmental path of corporate capitalism.  As the living embodiment of socialist principles, the party far surpassed farmers in influencing the corporate transformation of property and market relations during the Progressive Era.  That was the movement's greatest strength and the cause of its wide appeal.

If that would have continued, in some way, if events such as the First World War  and the Wilson administration's suppression of large parts of the Socialist movement as a national security measure during the war hadn't intervened,  isn't knowable.  What is known is that the communists within the Socialist Party, both those who were rather absurdly encouraged by the Russian Revolution or who were, in fact, taking orders from Lenin destroyed the Socialist Party in 1919 when they were unable to rig things to take it over.

I do think that, typical of urbanites, Weinstein is rather dismissive of the political force of farmers and rural folk, considering their importance to both the Democrats and the Republicans as well as their actual role in the Socialist Party's successes he documents.   Debs got more votes in Texas and Oklahoma than he did in New York City.   For more of which, though I don't have it to type out an excerpt, you can see James R. Green, Grass-Roots Socialism: Radical Movements in the Southwest 1895-1943.   It's quite possible that populism - not without its own problems at that point - is a better model for understanding American politics or, at least, represents a crucial ingredient that can't be dismissed out of modernist, urban and, regional snobbery, one of the bigger self-inflicted disabilities of the left and a boon for Republican-fascism.

The Christian left, as well, has proved both more effective and more enduring than even Weinstein in his generous and realistic view was willing to acknowledge.  The Militia of Christ, the one within the AFL, was hardly a reactionary group.  And their reservations about socialism were informed by some already present advocates of violence. And it wasn't quite as vehemently anti-Socialist as all that.  The Rev. Peter Deitz, one of its major figures said:

Catholic opinion stands between the silent but deep-going excesses of the capitalistic society and loud and oftentimes violent demonstrations of socialist democracy. It is difficult to say which of the two extremes is the greater menace to civilization, but I am inclined to think the unregulated capitalism is the greater offender.

The extent to which those communists within the Socialist Party, the ones who would go on to wreck it, accounted for those reservations would be interesting to know, the ones who threw away all of the work that had elected people to offices and were part of a growing political party, a real one that elects people and makes laws, not the make-believe party that chose to be a tool of the Soviet Government even as the Communist Party was forming.   There was every reason for people on the left to distrust the Communists, starting in 1919 but even more so as they developed.  In fact, some of those most suspicious of Communists proved to be their fellow Communists and their rivals in communism.  Defections to both the would-be left and the right, schisms, expulsions over minutia and basic dogma and doctrine and, most often, power rivalries, the myriad of rival split-off parties is pretty much the real history of Communism in America, as elsewhere.

We can't know how history would have turned out if that hadn't happened. It's possible that the Socialists would have been undermined by their success being copied by the Progressives or the Populists due to their success.  However, it was that record of Socialist success that the communists overturned for the ensuing century of total and complete idiocy, treachery, criminality and worship of mass murderers through which the left was weakened and discredited with the large majority of voters.   Yet when leftists look to the history of the left, it is largely the communist - atheist left that it finds presented as that history.

Update:  Why I'm going over the already junked Communist Party is due to the idiotic romanticism over it that is still a damaging delusion of so many on the left and because it is the most important case study in understanding why the left has failed, especially how so many of our natural allies have been turned into our enemies.  As I said earlier this week, I think the current atheist fad is just a continuation of that folly.   By an enormous number, the real left, traditional American style liberalism, is peopled by religious believers, inevitably the large majority of those Christians.  I think the past century and more have proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the tiny fraction of atheists has been a burden we have borne out of a misplaced sense of fairness and out of pity for their well-earned rejection and only somewhat less well-earned suppression.   They certainly never hesitated to reject or suppress or oppress others on the left who they saw as their rivals.   We need to get shut of them and their ideological descendants or we will never attract support.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Research Can Be Fun

Here's something fun I found in my search for Communists who have won public office by election in the United States.  I don't know if it's true truth or just comment thread truth but I know the number for the Socialists is right (I checked again).

For the record, here are the break-downs of people in Congress but not representing one of the four major parties we've had (Federalist, Whig, Democrat, Republican). I don't know which of these might also represent socialist parties.

Adams Democrat - 1 (House)
American Laborite - 2 (House)
American Party - 40 (House)
Anti-Jacksonian - 44 (House)
Anti-Mason - 30 (House)
Conservative - 9 (8 House, 1 Senate)
Conservative Republican - 2 (House, Delegate)
Constitutional Unionist - 2 (House)
Democrat Farmer Labor - 3 (House)
Farmer Laborite - 13 (House)
Free Silver - 1 (House, Delegate)
Free Soil - 11 (5 House, 6 Senate)
Greenbacker - 12 (House)
Independent (unaffiliated) - 24 (20 House, 4 Senate)
Independent Democrat - 27 (26 House, 1 Senate)
Independent Radical - 1 (House)
Independent Republican - 15 (14 House, 1 Senate)
Independent Whig - 1 (House)
Jackson Democrat - 1 (House)
Jacksonian - A couple hundred, I'm not going to count them
Law and Order - 1 (House)
Liberal - 1 (House)
Liberal Republican - 9 (6 House, 3 Senate)
Non partisan - 1 (House)
Nullifier - 13 (10 House, 4 Senate; one was in both)
Oppostion - 14 (House)
Populist - 45 (39 House, 6 Senate)
Progressive - 23 (22 House, 1 Senate)
Progressive Republican - 3 (House)
Prohibitionist - 1 (House)
Readjustor - 7 (5 House, 2 Senate)
Silver Republican - 6 (4 House, 2 Senate)
Socialist - 2 (House)
State Rights Democrat - 2 (House)
Unconditional Unionist - 24 (18 House, 6 Senate)
Union Democrat - 2 (House)
Union Laborite - 2 (House)
Union Republican - 4 (House)
Unionist - 51 (40 House, 11 Senate)

It would seem, if this is correct,  even parties you've never heard of have had more success than the Communists.

I did, also, read that under an old system of electing them, there were two Communists voted to the New York City council, though I haven't been able to confirm that.  If that's true, it's not surprising that the Communists would just as soon not mention them.  I mean, if they mentioned them it would bring up the issue of how many Communists had never been elected to office.

Wouldn't you love to know if they got purged by their rivals or the party bosses, fearing a power grab by them.  That's the typical chain of events in the old CP, here and everywhere.  

Hate Mail File

Yeah, let's see, the Communist Party USA  was founded in 1919.   This year is 2015.   I have been looking to find a list of office holders who ran as Communists and who won their elections.  I have yet to find that list and suspect that's because there aren't any.   Anyone out there able to supply it?

Even the Greens, though they hide the list of their office holders because it's such a pathetic record for all of the hype, attention and resources spent on the fraud,  posts a list of people who have held office as Greens, admitting that a lot of those are appointed or those who won in non-partisan races.   

Here's their score board for offices held today.

Seats in the Senate
0 / 100
Seats in the House
0 / 435
0 / 50
State Upper Houses
0 / 1,921
State Lower Houses
0 / 5,410

If you want to see how deluded they are, go look at their website.  They think there's a party where there has never been a party in 96 years.   That's three generations of delusion.  

96 years of total failure in politics, 96 years of usefulness to the reactionaries as a boogy-man and turn off to voters, 96 years of being mostly a fraud, a side show and a massive burden for the real left. Their attacks on others in the left far more effective than anything else they ever did.  I won't ever forget their role in destroying the Socialist Party as their first act.  

Oh, yeah, and that's not to mention their worst stunt, championing mass murderers of the scale of Stalin and jumping at the snap of his finger. Even turning a 180 and supporting rapprochement with Hitler when he and Stalin decided to carve up Poland between them.  Oh, yeah, and Stalin was officially a genius for doing stuff like that. 

Going on a century of that kind of stuff. What's not to love, huh?   A century of fraud, failure and folly is enough for any con game.  It should end, now. 

The Greatest Success In Leftist Politics On America Was Achieved By a Minister Not A Materialist

Every time I go into the history of the atheist "left" as opposed to the real left, the glaring falseness of the phonied up history of the left promoted by them is frustratingly obvious.   If the greatest success of the Marxist-atheist left is their great and widely blared victimization - how many PBS history shows have you ever seen about their successes as opposed to their victimization - their second greatest success is in peddling a ridiculous and false history and ideological set of factoids.

One of the things I will probably be going into is how they destroyed the old Socialist Party which was something the successor Communist - Leninist-Trotskyist-Maoist-etc. successors never were, successful at winning elections and not turning off voters.  The old Socialists under such leaders as Victor Berger were also something that none of the more politically correct Marxists were, successful at governance, doing things that actually improved the lives of people in a democratic context.

One of the greatest virtues of that socialism was that the non-religious socialists worked well with Christian socialists who could be counted on to comprise a majority of any Socialist coalition which could win an election in any city in the country.   The fact is that Milwaukee had probably the most successful Socialist government in the United States,  the successful program of improvements in life derided by those who would never win an election as "sewer socialists".

But even that real - as opposed to total fantasy - success in real governance is quite modest as opposed to the greatest success by a Socialist in American history.  North-American history.  Unfortunately, for us in the United States, at least, the greatest success in leftist governance is not here but in Canada under the leadership of, not an atheist, but a Baptist minister,  Tommy Douglas in Saskatchewan, a founder of the New Democratic Party, most famous as the author of the Canadian health care bill.

While the Communists and other famous idiots and bunglers here were destroying the chances of the left, Tommy Douglas was doing something they never did, he won elections and as a result he could do things.  Here's part of what he is credited with.

As Premier of Saskatchewan he presided over the birth of public hospitalization and medicare. Through his five terms as Premier, Douglas pioneered reforms which made Saskatchewan society both progressive and prosperous.

More than 100 bills, 72 of them aimed at social or economic reform, were passed during the CCF's first year in power. By the end of two years, they had removed the sales tax from food and meals and managed to reduce the provincial debt by $20 million.

New departments were established which reflected the government's priorities. These included the new Deparment of Co-operatives, the Department of Labour and the Department of Social Welfare. To pay for the new departments, all the CCF cabinet ministers took a 28 per cent pay cut.

In 1944, pensioners were granted free medical, hospital and dental services, and the treatment of diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, mental illness and venereal disease was made free for all.

In 1947, Douglas introduced universal hospitalization at a fee of $5 per year per person. "It is paid out of the treasury. Instead of the burden of those hospital bills falling on sick people, it is spread over all the people," Douglas said. In 1959, twelve years later, when the province's finances seemed to him to be strong enough, Douglas announced the coming of the medicare plan. It would be universal, pre-paid, publicly administered, provide high quality care, including preventive care, and be accepted by both providers and receivers of the medical service.

A Crown Corporation Act opened the way to such achievements as provincial air and bus lines. The Timber Board took control of lumbering, so the industry could prosper without destroying the forests. Later, fish and fur marketing boards were established.

However, no Crown corporation had as big an impact during the Douglas years than the Saskatchewan Power Corporation. Prior to the Douglas Administration, only 300 rural households had electrical power. By 1964, 65,000 farm households had been hooked up to the electrical grid built by SaskPower.

SaskTel provided affordable, quality and near universal phone access across the province.

The CCF introduced the Trade Union Act, which made collective bargaining mandatory and extended the rights of civil servants. The Act was described by Walter Reuther as "the most progressive piece of labour legislation on the continent." Other labour legislation set standards for workers' compensation, minimum wages, mandatory holidays and a labour relations board. Union membership rose 118 per cent in just four years.

Building on the 1944 campaign slogan of Humanity First, the first CCF budget devoted 70 per cent of its expenditures to health, welfare and education. School districts were enlarged to a more efficient size; teachers' salaries were raised; the University of Saskatchewan was expanded to include a medical college.

While it could be pointed out that several years into his political career, he was given the ultimatum of continuing to be a Baptist preacher or a politician and that he chose being a politician, the fact is he was a Christian.   I think what he was doing was just finding a different ministry to more people.   While the glorious history of the official "left" in the United States consists mostly of finding out that so and so was actually guilty of the crimes they were convicted of or were, actually, on Stalin's payroll the history of the real Canadian left is such that Tommy Douglas was voted “The Greatest Canadian” in a CBC poll, in 2004, twenty years after his death.   Compare that to those who were always gassing on about how they were going to throw their opponents on the rubbish heap of history.  Which was rubbish and still is.

Sometimes I think they do all those TV shows and movies glamorizing and romanticizing the total idiots, jerks and failures like the anarchists and Communists here so we won't learn about the actual left that worked in history.   Emma Goldman,  John Reed, The Hollywood 10.   They never cleaned up anyone's water or provided them with healthcare or even a decent wage. Even I.F. Stone, the guy I was praising last week was noted to be a real asshole as a boss.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Its Time To Bury The Dead Hands Holding Back Liberals: Your Provocative Idea For Tuesday

Someone complains that I've under counted the largest of the Marxist family of political parties in the Unites States, the Communist Party U.S.A.

Communist Party USA  claimed a membership of 100,000 in 1939 and maintained a membership of over 50,000 until the 1950s.

His citation is for an article in that .... um.... resource, Wikipedia.   As an ongoing Wikipedia refusenik I don't buy their figures as definitive but looking at the article, it is useful for my purposes.  So, just for this post, I will suspend my rule of never using Wikipedia.

100, 000 Communists, at its peak, seventy five years ago, could be compared to which religious denominations had 100,000 or more members that year.  I can't find that information online in the limited amount of time I have this morning but I did find this.

The official count of denominations increased from 186 in 1906 to 256 in 1936, when the Census Bureau stopped counting them. Although the number of denominations at the end of the century is not known, it included about eighty denominations with more than 60,000 members each. Seventy percent of the U.S. population belonged to a religious organization in 1998, up from 41 percent in the early years of the century.

At the end of the century, eight of every ten Americans were Christian, one adhered to another religion, and one had no religious preference. The nonChristians included Jews, Buddhists, and a rapidly growing number of Muslims

When you realize that some of those "about eighty denominations with more than 60,000 members each" included those who counted their members in the tens of millions, the Catholics, the mainstream protestant churches - the decline of which is the largest catastrophe for the active, effective left in the post-war period - and even some denominations you probably haven't ever heard of, it sort of puts the claims of the Communist Party in a very sobering context.

Especially, if you want to use that Wikipedia article, when you consider the decline in Communist Party membership.

Its estimated membership in 1996 was between 4,000 and 5,000.

Reading that, I realized that in all of the many people I have known who bought the self-pitying whining of Communists at their persecution (their greatest accomplishment is their victimization) and defenders of them, no more than a tiny handful have actually been members of the party or even claimed to be communists.  Of those who have declared themselves to be communists who I've known, most of them were not members of any party.

As to the current conditions of the party, today, you can read the pathetic tale presented in the Wiki article.   It is revealingly abbreviated in this sentence.

At its 30th Convention in June 2014, the CPUSA officially dropped Marxism-Leninism from its revised Constitution. While the group continues to uphold Marx, Engels and Lenin in its constitution, its official ideology is now scientific socialism.

Imagine the reaction if a Christian denomination officially dropped Jesus and Paul from its self-definition.

Which brings me to how that article is useful to make my point about the utter and absolute joke that all of those "leftist" parties and their members have been in gaining political office and changing laws for the better.

Here's a list of just the parties, according to faith tradition, given in the article.

Communist Party U.S.A.
Socialist Labor Party

Freedom Road Socialist Organization
Party for Socialism and Liberation
Progressive Labor Party
Revolutionary Communist Party
Workers World Party

Freedom Socialist Party
Socialist Action
Socialist Workers Party [With fewer than one thousand members in 1996, the Socialist Worker's Party (SWP) was the second largest Marxist-Leninist party in the United States.]
Spartacist League
Workers International League


Social Democrats, USA
Democratic Socialists of America
Socialist Party USA
Socialist Alternative

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
Food Not Bombs
Northeastern Federation of Anarchist Communists (NEFAC)
Bring the Ruckus
Phoenix Anarchist Coalition
Local to Global Justic
IndyMediaWorkers Solidarity Alliance
Area Radical Reading Group of Hartford (ARRGH!)\
Anarchist Black Cross
Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives (FRAC)
Anarchist Communitarian Network
Anarchist People of Color
Atlantic Anarchist Circle
Great Plains Anarchist Network
Revolutionary Anti-authoritarians of Color (RACE)
South East Anarchist Network

How many of those have you even heard of before?

If all of those, combined, have, in any year, had had a membership that exceeded the membership of just one of the liberal mainstream Protestant Churches, I would be very surprised.  And many of those I've even heard of have spent more of their time attacking each other over their ideological orthodoxy or conformity than any religious sects I'm aware of.  They have produced nothing positive, they have produced damage to the real left.  Other than the Socialists, who actually elected two or so members of Congress more than ninety years ago, I don't know of any who have ever elected anyone to an office on more than the local level. I'd be curious if anyone can name such office holders.   Oh, and, as I've also written about a number of times, that's something they share with the Green Party in the United States.

The left has been led to tolerate the counter-productive, destructive, presence of these, often, anti-democratic groups out of misplaced feelings of pity for them.

In many cases the insane violence of the anarchists, the devotion to some of the worst mass murderers and dictatorships in history, the Communists, even them actually being paid agents of those foreign dictatorships - as I was disgusted to read had been proved in the case of Gus Hall - have been used to damage the real left.  I think the present day neo-atheists, many of them with an actual tie with these groups through the Stalinist trustifarian and promoter of atheism Corliss Lamont, is just a continuation of this idiocy.  The frequent claims that religion is in decline and that the future is atheist is pretty much the idiotic claim of every one of those ideological cults only replacing their anarchist - Marxist - communist - Leninist - Trotskyist - Stalinist - etc. future with atheist pie in the sky.  It will never come, if our species continues, Christianity, liberal Christianity, will be a major force long, long after every single one of their cults is a forgotten footnote in a never consulted book or website.

I don't think the left will get anywhere with the dead weight of these idiots as a burden on us.  If the "left" won't give them up, reject their historical baggage and legacy, a real left will have to rise based on successful role models based in actual liberal faith.

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Accuse Kosmin of Ideological Distortion In Creating the "Nones"

You will certainly in the next few days or weeks hear some reference to the "Nones,"  that category in the Pew surveys that is often claimed by atheists as proof-positive that they're going to win, man because the "nones" are the fastest growing group of people in the United States and.... something.  You know, the group which includes pretty much anyone who doesn't claim membership in a particular denomination of religion.   I have pointed out, many times, that, by the definitions provided by the Pew and other polling organizations, I'm considered a "none".

Well, I hadn't given a lot of thought as to who came up with the category until I came across this piece which names the man who invented the term, Barry A. Kosmin.   The piece describes him as:

...  the founding director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and a professor at Trinity College, Kosmin had been helping to conduct the American Religion Identification Survey for nearly three decades. 

I was familiar with Kosmin for a different reason which I'll get to in a minute. 

His reasoning in coming up with the term is given as:

Once they’d evaluated data from the 1990s, Kosmin and
his team were determined to name a new category.

“Nonreligious” was a possibility. So was “non-faith” and “non-affiliated.”

But Kosmin rejected all of these. The “non” part bothered him. “Non-affiliated” would be like calling people “non-white,” he said. “We didn’t want to suggest that ‘affiliated’ was the norm, and every one else was an ‘other.’”
“Nomenclature,” he added, ” is quite important in these things.”

So Kosmin began calling this group the “nones,” a shortened version for “none of the above” — which is what people often said when asked to name their religion. He never thought the term would stick.

“It began as a joke,” he said, “but now, like many of these things, it has taken on its own life.”

Indeed. Today, “nones” are everywhere. Both in a literal sense and a literary one.

I will point out that, having looked up the dictionary meaning of the word "norm",  in the context of what Kosmin is engaged in doing, purportedly coming up with sociological and statistical information, based on the results of his own data, being religiously affiliated is the norm in the United States and, indeed, in most countries.  He might not like that but it is a fact, though like so many on his ideological side,  the actual meaning of words don't matter nearly as much as their ideological preferences.

If he had gone with the other alternatives he mentions and put only those who had no religious belief in that category, the percentage given as "Nones" would be less than half of what it generally is claimed to be and less newsy.  More of those included as "Nones" express some kind of religious belief than the percentage who are atheists, if not both atheists and agnostic combined, in most of the times I've seen a percentage break down given. 

Which gets me to how I knew of Kosmin, he's a member of the board of directors of the Center for Inquiry, one of the alphabet soup named groups begun by Paul Kurtz to promote atheism, primarily by attacking religion.  So the conflict of interest you may have suspected in his creation of that category so useful in atheist propaganda, is documented. 

Bursting The Romantic Bubble That Is The Infatuation With Communism

The point I made the other day, that liberal religion is a real part of American society with the power to make real political change whereas neither Marxism nor anarchism has ever been more than a side show is proved by simple arithmetic.   But the counting isn't easy.

Trying to keep track of the various "parties" involved in the anti-religious, atheist left is extremely difficult due to the fact that, in lieu of electoral successes and laws passed and implemented, the major events among the Marxists, the various Marxist - socialist parties and various anarchists are the "power" struggles, the ideological struggles, the furious and angry splits and formation of new parties to be the vanguard of the glorious revolution, the expulsion of members on the basis of failure to adhere to ideological purity and new lines - some of those, indeed, ordered from Moscow - and other such edifying events.   Trying to trace the genealogy of the infamously argumentative and schismatic Baptists is child's play by comparison.

Still, the highest membership figure I've seen for an American Communist party is a high estimate of 60,000, the rival Socialist party at about, 40,000.   The highest vote total, ever, for a Communist party candidate was for William Foster in 1932, at 103,307, as a contrast, the moderate  Socialist, widely despised by others of the "left" for his moderation, Norman Thomas got 884,895 and the Republican who got trounced by FDR, Hoover, 15,761,532.  I believe those were the high points in both of the officially leftists parties.  Others never achieved anything like those numbers.  Obviously, at their height, if they were religious denominations, they'd have counted as among the smaller ones.

The various factions that never approached those numbers for the least unsuccessful of the would be vanguard of the revolution, are safely ignored except in so far as they made themselves a focus of attention through violence, outrageous rhetoric, admiration for murderous dictators and the such.  Clearly those don't count as benefiting the real left.

Probably even more important in their political futility for the more genteel would be left is their gift for alienating non-members as they compete with each other to out-radical the next one or to attach themselves to leaders who do that.  The result has been political poison, more useful to reactionaries as an accusation against members of the real left than as any help to that real left.  You can contrast other, even very small religious denominations such as the Quakers in terms of who actually influenced public affairs and brought about positive change, benefiting those who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of the program of the left.  To the utter frustration of so may of the would be leaders of the new order, most poor folk, most members of oppressed minority groups, most people knew they were a bunch of bumbling idiots who would never do anything good and so they rejected their bid for leadership.   After going on a century and a half of watching that kind of thing, it's time to force their retirement so we can do something while there's still a world and there are vestiges of democracy to build on.

Update:  With a Friggin' Rebus?

I'm so glad you point out that relatively few people read my blog.  No, I really am because of the operative word in that accusation "read".  When you write a blog like mine, the only motive for people to click on to it is to READ IT. Anyone who does more than post quips and pictures, anyone who writes at even moderate length should understand that they're never going to be  big time blogger.  There's a reason that Twitter is commonly deemed to be where the real action had gone - that is "had gone."  Where "it" is now, I don't know.   As to the popularity contest among the kewl kids who are up on things, I doubt their importance.

This reminds me of one of my former favorite blogs, which we called "The Good Roger Ailes' blog" a post in which he dealt with a massive Pew study of blogs and the bloggers who blog them way back about nine years ago.  Since I remember The Good Roger Ailes with great affection - though I have to admit I seldom get around to his blog anymore, here's the section of that post I was reminded of.

Twenty percent of blogs don't use text, but only ten percent don't invite comments from readers. That means 10 percent of blogs invite comments from readers without using text. How do they do it, with a friggin' rebus?

And why did it take eight months to survey 233 readers?

I've got to make it a point to read Roger's blog more.  Get back to my roots.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bartok Sonata No.1 for Violin and Piano - David Oistrakh and Sviatoslav Richter

Unbelievable playing.  I'd love to have a cleaner recording of this performance.

The score is available at the IMSLP website but it is apparently not certainly in the public domain so I can't post the link.

Boy Do I Have A Long, Long Way To Go

The great civil rights activist and gay rights figure Reverend Malcolm Boyd has died at the age of 91.    I have to confess, I didn't realize he was still alive.   In reviewing things for my series on abolition last week, I looked through a collection of the Quaker reformer John Bellers' writings and didn't find anything on that but took the occasion to re-read his short A caution against Anger*.   For you fans of synchronicity, it was the same day that Matthew 5:20-26  on that topic was the daily reading for Catholics.  And today I find out that Boyd, who died the same day, posted this piece on his website.  It's like someone is trying to tell me something.

Rage Is Not Holy  by Malcolm Boyd

“The Devil Wears Prada” is a savagely funny movie about the imperious editor of an important fashion magazine who makes life hell for the assistants working under her—and everybody else. Success is the name of her game. It consists of using people as if they were objects. Her work style is fueled by anger, narcissism, arrogance and extraordinary self-interest.

Far more than a new movie, it becomes a morality play. Why? Because people similar to the driven editor are legion. They’re found in politics and business and the arts—and religion. Sometimes they live just up the street and around the corner. Their smiling faces are often intricately-constructed masks that effectively conceal truth.  They are enemies of peace. Their agendas and machinations endanger healthy community.

Rage is too much with us. Some people speak of “holy anger.” Rage is not holy. In all the years that I encountered Martin Luther King in myriad public situations, he was never enraged. He was demonstrative. He was impassioned. He was committed to nonviolence. Once I heard him describe nonviolence as the way one should pick up a telephone receiver to respond to a call—a simple act of wholeness and integrity instead of a big public relations gesture or a political act for the 10 o’clock news.

This is why Christians engaged in the work of social justice need to cultivate an inner spiritual life centered in prayer and quiet reflection. This is indispensable for a public life of debate, action and complex relationships. When I became a Freedom Rider in 1961 and, following the example of Martin Luther King, opposed the Vietnam War—which included participation in a Peace Mass inside the Pentagon—I sometimes neglected my inner spiritual life because of the pressure of immediate demands. At such times I veered toward self-righteousness and became shrill and angry.

I see clearly what went amiss. I denied the central place of prayerful reflection in my life. In recent years I have undertaken the task of being spiritual director for around a dozen women and men, mostly clergy, ranging in age from late twenties to early seventies. I feel that anyone involved in the work of social justice needs to be actively engaged in the discipline of centering prayer. It enables a needed perspective, integrates the inner life with the outward life, and allows humility to serve as a companion in one’s public, bigger-than-life controversies.

I like what Margaret Guenther says about spiritual direction in her book, Holy Listening. She writes, “To know in truth, then, is to allow one’s self to be known.  This is the truth that became incarnate in Jesus Christ, a truth known not in abstraction, but in relationship. The shared commitment to truth ensures that the spiritual direction relationship is one of true mutuality, for both director and directee must allow themselves to be known.”

Encouraging directees to discover and embrace their own questions, she turns to Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, where the poet urges his reader “to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now.”

May I suggest this is a hugely significant moment for us to move toward spiritual perception? The process can include:

Holy listening.
Waiting consciously upon God.
Getting rid of egocentric and debilitating anger.
Moving toward prayer with a child’s innocence.
Discovering prayer as if for the first time.
Praying in new ways.
In other words, accept responsibility—even in small or personal ways—to help break the growing and killing cycle of violence, destruction and anger that turns into rage.

Published as “You and Me” column in The Episcopal News, Late Summer 2006 issue (August 2006)

I have to confess that I've got a lot of that kind of stuff in my life.  Oh, and, also, Boyd was one of those people who experienced anatheism, who went from being an atheist in his early adulthood to believing in God.  Which I've also dealt with recently.

*  I can't promise I'll do it but maybe I should type it out and post it since it doesn't seem to be available online.  If I do, I'll post a link to it.

Yes, He Was Spock, or Rather Spock Was He, But Also More

Thanks to NTodd posting an interview with the late Leonard Nimoy on Boston Public Radio, I recalled this piece I wrote back when I was still using a pseudonym.  I think most of the links still work (they're grey instead of my ususal red).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What Do You Think About Leonard Nimoy's Photos of Women who are Obese? Posted by olvlzl.

Wading through the interior decoration porn in the Sunday magazine section, there is a short interview with Leonard Nimoy about his "The Full Body Project", featuring photos of obese women. Nimoy, yes, that Leonard Nimoy, said that his series began when a woman who was very large approached him at an exhibit of his photographs and asked him if he would be interested in working with her. From that beginning he started working with the late Heather MacAllister, who was the founder and artistic director of Big Burlesque and the Fat Bottom Revue. Nimoy quotes her in an earlier article in the NYT, "Any time a fat person gets on a stage to perform and is not the butt of a joke — that’s a political statement."

With the few photos from the series I've been able to find on the web, it looks like an interesting and movingly humane project. I don't pay enough attention to high profile fashion photographers to be able to get the references to conventional pictures of emaciated women taken by them. It strikes me that the invariably bony models are depersonalized, anonymous and tragic in a way that the women in these photographs definitely are not. They strike me as real personalities instead of types. The idea of very fat people, especially women, brazenly going against the culture of thinness can't be a bad idea. While the first response is to wonder about the health implications, those are just as much a concern with the stick figures of conventional photography as they are with very over-weight people. I don't know which is worse for your health but getting over looking at obesity as a question of commercial morality has to be good.

Update: candace kindly provides the project's website, with more of the photos.