Monday, May 14, 2018

You Choose What You Believe Whether Or Not You Admit That, I Make That Choice For Egalitarian Democracy

This is a political blog dedicated to convincing people of what needs to be done to establish and maintain egalitarian democracy.  I would never have gotten involved with writing about religion except that in the last twenty years, looking back over my life in the American left, though never a Marxist, I have become convinced that materialism, atheism and scientism are fatal to egalitarian democracy and, as I found out well into my reconsideration, that only a religious concept of human beings as the inalienable possessors or rights and of equally important moral obligations to respect those rights in other people and to demand them for ourselves and our nearest and dearest ON THE BEDROCK FOUNDATION OF EQUALITY will be strong enough to overcome human ingenuity trying to rig and work things for personal advantage by infringing on the rights of others. 

I have looked and read and pondered and considered a wide range of materialist-atheist-scientific assertions about such things and I don't see anything in any of them which is not destructive of them.  Of those three means of considering such foundations of egalitarian democracy, science could have the legitimate excuse that scientists who write and say such things have stopped, actually, doing anything that can legitimately be considered science, dealing with things they can't observe directly or by indirect means that aren't subject to the most unscientific pollution by ideological and personal and professional preference being injected directly into the method passed off as science.  Materialism and atheism being the foremost of those ideological pollutions which are routinely introduced into such so-called science 

I have come to be convinced that a good part of what has been taken as "modernism" is, as well, fatal to egalitarian democracy due to the same orientation of materialist-atheist-scientistic ideology.  It has been pointed out quite a bit that what is very likely a large majority of the intellectuals considered to be modernists either harbor a deep and abiding affection for fascist, Nazi and various Marxist totalitarian ideologies and the actual brutal, genocidal regimes that were ongoing as those intellectuals gave them their support. 

In the book I've been excerpting for comments, Quest for The Living God by Elizabeth A. Johnson, she points to one of the differences which leads to that, the atheist-materialist intellectuals who, through their choice of atheism found that they were in a hellish cul-de-sac and who gave up, contrasting their declaration that life is absurd with those who made the other choice.

In mid-century Europe an interesting debate broke out about what this might mean.  Existential philosophers with a fierce commitment to atheism, thinkers such as Jean Paul Sartre, concluded that life is absurd.  The universe with its empty heaven endlessly frustrates human questing.   Since there is no ultimate fulfillment to our self-transcending, all our desires come to naught.  Held for a few brief moments over the void, human beings with all our strivings are the butt of a great cosmic joke.  Religious thinkers, to the contrary, contended that life is meaningful because an infinite holy God who is the surrounding horizon of human questing intends to be our fulfillment.  Whether it is nothing or everything that awaits, however, both sides agreed on the dynamic structure of human experience, which is oriented always to the “more.”

Which choice, followed through to the end of giving up and declaring life is absurd or of going on, do you have any rational claim would be more likely to produce egalitarian democracy? 

We know how Sartre and the intellectuals who took his part ended up.  As I've pointed out before even as the infamous mass murder and oppression and war on intellectualism was going on in the largest nation on Earth, China, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir were using the freedom they posed as champions of to hand out handbills mugging for the cameras on the streets of Paris in support of Mao's mass murdering regime.   The mass murders were being reported even as they did that - yet they are respected as icons of liberty and human rights, doing something not at all different from what the fans of Hitler and Mussolini did.  The only difference I can see is that Mao's victims were not white Europeans, Hitler's were.   Yet Sartre and de Beauvoir and, in the United States the contemporary Maoist-Stalinist Progressive Labor Party are still held up by atheist intellectuals as heroes instead of the supporters of some of the greatest mass murderers in history.  I would include many of those who hailed the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. 

I accuse them of the most blatant of racism as well as hypocritically supporting an intellectual regime that is guaranteed to reduce people to expendable objects, raw commodities to be used and destroyed when not needed. 

You might think that's a leap but in virtually every case I have read of atheist-materialist-scientistic claims about human beings, our minds, our freedom (or, in their ideology, its non-existence) I don't see any alternative.   Go look at the self-proclaimed 'free-thinkers' and read how much they hate the idea of free thought, if you think that's far-fetched.  Without free thought democracy is a pointless delusion.  Is it any wonder it is in decline around the world as materialism becomes the default ideology?

The pretense that whether or not we believe or disbelieve is not a matter of our choice but of some kind of automatic psychological compulsion fooled me for a long, long time.  Ironically, it was the atheist  and pioneer of computers Joseph Weizenbaum who really opened my eyes when he said that scientists and mathematicians and everyone else is fooling themselves when they choose to believe that their beliefs are not a matter of choices they make.  They make their first choices of what to belief when they are very young, all of us choose to believe what we see, hear and otherwise experience, we choose to believe what our parents, siblings, teachers say (or we choose not to believe them) we begin to build up a corpus of things we have chosen to believe, some of them on the basis of an application of logical analysis, logic being another thing we have chosen to believe in.   And so it goes on until we choose to believe some very attenuated claims on the basis of their fidelity with our corpus of chosen beliefs.   That is as true of the most rigorous of thinkers in mathematics, science, history, the law, philosophy, etc. as it is the most credulous among us.   None of it is a matter of automatic happenstance, we are at every stage a part of that process. 

The cultural hegemony of what gets called science, from the most justifiably believed and reliable to the least reliable - so much of the latter in those pseudo-scientific attempts to treat human and other minds scientifically - carries some of the strongest compulsion in what people choose to believe because it goes along with their previous choices in what to believe.   The educational system and, certainly, the media and general culture have ensured that we all have a large stake in not questioning the declarations of scientists, even when the ideological nature of their claims could hardly be clearer.  All up and down the list of sciences there are those which are more and those which are less prone to those most unscientific of practices but most people choose to accept that whatever is called science is not to be too rigorously questioned. 

I choose to believe that the religious side of the argument that Elizabeth Johnson briefly described is the last, best hope of egalitarian democracy and in my study of the Jewish-Christian and, far less, so far, Islamic religious traditions I have come to believe that itself carries persuasive arguments that they are right.   I mean, look at Sartre and de Beauvoir handing out leaflets for Mao as he and his fanatical followers were murdering people and Western intellectuals holding them up as heroes of freedom, a freedom which Sartre's own writing dismissed and their atheism eroded.  It's hardly the only attack on egalitarian democracy, vulgar materialism, Mammonism, is as destructive if not more so because it's easier.   But I don't think they really are all that different.  You have to choose a totally different and open framing of belief in the potential of people to escape that. 

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