Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Hate Mail - Yeah, That Again. You Diss His godship Darwin, You're Going To Catch It

The claim that Darwin and his followers didn't place a difference in value on different people or other organisms as an inherent aspect of natural selection is often claimed but it is a fraud disproved by the articulation of every major, perhaps every single proponent of the theory.   That is, of course, most noticeable to us through the immediate proposals for applying natural selection to the human species through some form of eugenics, which began almost immediately on the publication of On the Origin of Species, not only by Francis Galton but less systematically by such central figures as Thomas Huxley and Ernst Haeckel and, in the Descent of Man, by Charles Darwin, himself.

I think it is more than merely implied in the creation of the theory, using the commercial breeding of animals by humans as one of its founding arguments.  It is impossible to separate the valuation on some as opposed to other organisms, including human beings from the articulation of natural selection.  An articulation of the good of inequality and the deaths of those seen as inferior is an intrinsic part of it which will always recur in explicit, scientific articulations as long as the theory is held as a part of science.

In the theory, at its most basic level, there is the explicit though tacitly admitted act of evaluation that is based on the mere fact of survival, on the assumption that survival is better than extinction, a natural enough belief, especially for those who believed they, as exemplars of the superior - as every one of the creators and early adopters of the theory believed themselves to be - who expected to be the parents of the winners in the "struggle for existence".  

Listen to or read the great Black liberation theologian, James Cone, on the alternative view to that in which survival is not the ultimate determinant of good.

BILL MOYERS: If the President asked you for one book of Niebuhr's, which would it be?

JAMES CONE: The Irony of American History. That would be the book.

BILL MOYERS: And the core of it is?

JAMES CONE: The core of it is, is helping America get over its innocence. Helping America to see itself through the eyes of people from the bottom. And you see, America likes to think of itself as innocent. And we are not. No human being is innocent. And so, I-- that would be the book I would recommend him to read. But since he's a Christian, I would especially recommend that he reads Beyond Tragedy. Niebuhr tells us that Christianity takes us through tragedy to beyond tragedy by way of the cross to victory in the cross.

BILL MOYERS: Meaning?

JAMES CONE: Meaning that the cross is victory out of defeat.

BILL MOYERS: And the lynching tree?

JAMES CONE: And the lynching tree is transcendent of defeat. And that's why the cross and the lynching tree belong together. That's why I have to talk about the lynching tree. Because Christians can't understand what's going on at the cross until they see it through the image of a lynching tree with black bodies hanging there.

BILL MOYERS: Why?

JAMES CONE: Because what the Christian Gospel is is a transvaluation of values. Something you cannot anticipate in this world, in this history. But, it empowers the powerless. It is-- what do you mean by power in the powerless? That's what God is. Power in the powerless.

BILL MOYERS: But, the victims of lynchings are dead.

JAMES CONE: No. Their mothers and fathers aren't dead. Their brothers and sisters aren't dead. I'm alive. I have to give voice to those who did die. And all of us do. That's why we can't forget it.

BILL MOYERS: But, you know, Dr. Cone, I went online and-- and watched the video version of your speech at Harvard where you talked on Strange Fruit -- the Cross and the Lynching Tree. I must say that audience didn't seem very comfortable with that-- with that linkage, right?

JAMES CONE: No, they did not. No, because I said it at a divinity school. And that's mostly whites there. Blacks felt comfortable with it. They're-- they like that. They like that connection because it gives them a perspective on the lynching that empowers them rather than silences them. People who have never been lynched by another group usually find it difficult to understand why it is blacks want whites to remember lynching atrocities. Why bring that up, they ask? Isn't that best forgotten? And I say, absolutely not! The lynching tree is a metaphor for race in America, a symbol of America's crucifixion of black people. See, whites feel a little uncomfortable because they are part of the history of the people who did the lynching. I would much rather be a part of the history of the lynching victims than a part of the history of the one who did it. And that's the kind of transcendent perspective that empowers people to resist. That's why King knew he was going to win even when he lost by human sense.

BILL MOYERS: You think that's what he meant when he said, "I see--

JAMES CONE: The promised land?

BILL MOYERS: --the promised land?"

JAMES CONE: Yeah.

The reason that the affluent, the educated class invested in the modern materialist consumer society and those who hope to profit from it hate Christianity and Judaism and, I would include Islam so much isn't because those are inherently retrograde - they're not - it's because they are a total contradiction of their value systems that make inequality an inherent aspect of nature, into a good, in itself.  In some cases it merely deprives people an ability to consider themselves better than other people, though that temptation is not unknown to those who profess those religions, the religions, themselves and I will say, especially Christianity, are based on teachings of equality and of life beyond a system of valuation.

All of those derided monotheistic religions carry inside them an assertion that God created us as equals,  that we have inalienable rights, that we are rightly seen as beyond any calculation of unequal value and the use of anyone.  Being based in human texts which are imperfect and which carry the baggage of the milieu of those who articulated them and the people they were addressed to, they also carry history and assertions that are not consistent with that equality and those rights.  And if they don't, you can bet on human beings and institutions to corrupt them with inequality and privilege. But you're not going to find much by way of assertions of equality and inalienable rights outside of them, certainly not in the West and certainly not in much of the rest of world culture.  Though any system which contains them as a metaphysical truth would probably generate egalitarian democracy, I don't see that it's even begun in most places.  It's in the beginning stages even in the secular democracies in the West where it's in imminent danger of extinction.

And if you want to bring up the so-called religious right, they certainly hate Christianity when it articulates economic justice and radical equality - the very heart of The Gospel, the Prophets and The Law, even as they appropriate the words and graven images to put a false front on their vulgar materialism.  They are the Antichrist you've heard so much about but only part of it, elite, academic materialism is just the high end of their vulgar materialism.

1 comment:

  1. Damn but I didn't know I needed some James Cone this morning until I got it!

    ReplyDelete