December 18, 2012
Atheism, Evil, Evolution, God, God's existence, Immanuel Kant, Pat Buchanan, United States of America, Violence
Adam Lanza, Atheism, Bertrand Russell, Connecticut, Connecticut school shooting, God, James Q. Wilson, mass murder, Mike Huckabee, Pat Buchanan, Richard Dawkins, school shooting, Selfish Gene
Pat Buchanan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Former Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, speaking to a gathering at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Atheists have reacted with outrage to Mike Huckabee‘s statements (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151207029493634) as well as Pat Buchanan‘s column (http://buchanan.org/blog/the-dead-soul-of-adam-lanza-5428) on the role that atheism might play in such tragedies as the school murders in Connecticut. Some comments I have read suggest that atheists believe that Mr. Huckabee and Mr. Buchanan are attacking them personally or saying that atheism directly led to the school shooting. A more careful reading of Huckabee and Buchanan, however, reveals that their claims are more nuanced. The point they make, and I think they are right, is that a godless society is more likely to put the primary focus on the self and its desires. Now I am aware of James Q. Wilson‘s work on sociobiology and altruism, but more people are likely to have heard of Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene. Most “lay atheists,” even highly educated or intelligent atheists, may not be aware of either work, but one motive for atheism among some (though not all) atheists is the desire to be free of divine judgment in order to fulfill the desires of the self. Kant was a theist of sorts, at least most of his life, and the remains of Lutheran divine command theory kept his principle of autonomy from degenerating into subjectivism–the identical moral law, Kant believed, was given to each individual by that individual self. With the remains of Christianity removed from autonomy, autonomy becomes the right to do whatever the self desires. Now that often comes with the caveat that one can do what one desires “as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else,” but without a divine judgment it is only internal conscience developed by habituation that prevents evil personal desires from being expressed. Ted Bundy made it clear to one of his victims that without a God to judge him, he believed that he should fulfill his personal desires to murder his victims and sexually violate their dead bodies. Without a sense that one’s actions can have consequences beyond this life, including negative consequences, it is easier for disturbed people such as Adam Lanza to act on their evil desires. Now he may have acted anyway–we cannot know for sure–but the point is that with one less barrier to fulfilling personal desires, it is easier for an evil or severely disturbed person to “go over the top” and act on his twisted desires. This does not imply that all mass murderers are atheists, nor does it deny that many atheists have moral lives that put some Christians to shame. In a way, the atheist who seeks only fulfillment of the self is acting more consistently than the one who affirms a larger social responsibility to the group. I am aware that evolution recognizes the nature of humans as social beings, and that a lack of all concern for others would prevent human genes from being carried on to the next generation. Yet there is no transcendent meaning to life in atheism, and as Bertrand Russell recognized, all human achievements would be lost in the final ruin of the universe. In such a meaningless world, hedonism may seem like the best option, as with Russell, but with less stable people egoism may be the course they take. Thus the point made is a general one: a society that eliminates any deity is more likely to produce more people like Mr. Lanza that one that accepts ethical monotheism.
November 25, 2012
conservatism, Democratic Party, Mitt Romney, Obama Administration, Pat Buchanan, Republican Party, Ron Paul, United States of America
Democratic, Democratic Party, Dewey Defeats Truman, Karl Rove, Mitt Romney, Republican, Republican Leadership, Republican National Committee, Republican Party, Romney, Ron Paul, Rush Limbaugh
English: Crude drawing of the “No RINO” buttons used by American Republicans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The reaction of mainstream Republicans to Mr. Romney‘s claim that Mr. Obama’s campaign was based on promises of gifts to people by the government may as well have been the reaction of Democrats. Mr. Romney, as well as Rush Limbaugh who referred to “Obama Claus,” were roundly condemned by the majority of Republicans who spoke up. Mr. Limbaugh is correct when he says that the Republicans are trying to get a piece of the vote of those people dependent on the government. As he recognizes, this is a pipe dream.
Republicans have degenerated into the party that says, “We’ll keep the programs the Democratic Party offers, but we will cut funds programs so they will financially survive in the future.” Americans tend not to think about the future. The typical young American today looks at the present and how to gain as much pleasure in life with the least effort possible. If that means not getting a job and living off government welfare, so be it. Beneficiaries of federal welfare programs want their money and food stamps now, and they want as much money as possible now. The hell with future generations. These individuals live for today. Like the corrupt emperors of the later Roman Empire, Mr. Obama and the Democratic Party keep their power by giving the people “bread and circuses.” The Republicans are kidding themselves if they think that offering fewer bread and circuses for the good of abstract “future generations” will move the self-centered contemporary government dependent person one bit. Those Republicans who condemned Mr. Romney, such as Karl Rove and his fellow consultants, do not deserve to keep their jobs–there predictions of the outcome of the general election were among the most inaccurate since the “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline in 1948. After Mr. Jindal condemned Mr. Romney, I will not support him if he runs for the Republican nomination. If the Republican Party turns to the left on welfare, immigration, and social issues, I–and many other conservatives–will vote for a third party. Personally I am sick and tired of cowardly Republicans, some of which are not sincere about their alleged conservatism on social issues, giving ground on economic issues and immigration as well. Mr. Ron Paul was one example of a man of integrity who refused to compromise his convictions for the favor of liberals, the press, or Hollywood. Yet he only received a small percentage of the Republican vote in the primaries, and the Republican National Committee treated his delegates with disrespect, refusing to seat some of them at the Republican National Convention. Now some want to eliminate the Iowa Straw Poll because of the influence of Paul supporters. Keep up the good work, Republicans, and see how many conservatives vote Libertarian or Constitution Party next election–or just stay home.
Conservatives (and I am not talking about “Neoconservatives” who are, in effect, Neoliberals”) need to get their message across in the political realm while still realizing that politics is not the means to salvation. We must work to change people’s hearts–one person at a time. Needless to say, that means we should set a good example in our own lives. If one person, one family, one community at a time we can influence people to see the harm that liberalism does, we may make progress. Conservatives within the Republican Party should hold the line as much as possible, but if they are driven out, a viable third party coalition should be considered. Forget the Neocons and the Rockefeller “Country Club Republicans.” A coalition of social conservatives, traditional conservatives in the Russell Kirk vein, and some libertarians that are not mere libertines might be workable. Ron Paul reached out to different groups outside how own libertarian standpoint, especially on opposition to the American Empire–and this is a position to which American Conservatism should return. The Republicans are the party of empire, and the Democrats, being mainly Wilsonian, are the same. Surely some viable group of people willing to bring about real change can end a situation in which one party is only a pale shadow of the other. If the Republican Party wants to survive as a viable force in American life, it must get new leadership–conservative leadership and not wimps who back down from every attack from the predominately leftist press. The current Republican leadership deserves only contempt.
August 30, 2012
Mitt Romney, Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, United States of America
Libertarians, Mitt Romney, Republican National Convention, Ron Paul, Ron Paul Supporters
Ron Paul, member of the United States House of Representatives from Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)
Mitt Romney has done what I had feared in an earlier post: he has supported excluding Ron Paul delegates from Maine from the Republican National Convention and has denied Ron Paul a voice at the convention. Ron Paul delegates, who won the Maine caucuses according to the established rules of the Republican Party in that state, are understandably angry. As someone who voted for Ron Paul in the North Carolina Primary, reading about the way his delegates have been treated by Mr. Romney and his supporters is deeply troubling. To win the presidential election, Mr. Romney needs all the votes he can get. By treating Paul delegates in a disrespectful way, he alienates millions of Paul supporters in the United States. Most likely those among Paul supporters who may have considered “voting for the lesser of evils” in the presidential election may decide to vote Libertarian or Constitution Party instead of voting for Mr. Romney. Frankly I would not blame them.
My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, I not believe a second Obama administration would be good for the country. Although it may turn out that Republicans do not have the will to reduce spending significantly, especially given their support of American interventionism abroad, the Democrats would be far worse. Mr. Obama has continued Mr. Bush’s aggressive foreign policy, and Mr. Bush’s restraints on civil liberty have been enhanced under the Obama administration. Mr. Obama’s unlimited support of abortion, even up to the ninth month (partial-birth abortion can be performed at that state) is morally reprehensible. In addition, Mr. Obama supports a bigger government and stronger regulation, regulation that I have experienced directly at the university where I teach. The government is adding more offenses for which the university can be fined. Such regulation and massive government spending has hurt small businesses. Unlike many academics, I know personally a number of small businesspeople in my area. They have all told me that they believe their businesses will go under if Mr. Obama is re-elected.
Yet the Republicans are even more aggressive in foreign policy than the Democrats, at least rhetorically. Practically I believe that will make little difference. Ron Paul is the only candidate who opposes American intervention abroad unless it is clearly in support of American interests. His opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has brought down the wrath of so-called “mainstream” Republicans and Neoconservatives as well as the wrath of Wilsonian Democrats. Although it is a good thing that Mr. Ryan wants to cut domestic spending, he is still enamored with the Roosevelt-Johnson welfare state. Mr. Paul rejects the welfare state in principle. Although there are fiduciary relationships with Social Security and Medicare, allowing the states to deal with such matters can allow those in need to continue to receive help.
I suppose, at this point, I will bite the bullet and vote for Mr. Romney. If the country is in intractable decline, which it will be under the two major parties, at least Mr. Romney might slow the decline. I also am deeply concerned about the Obama Administration’s attitude toward religious freedom and its radical moral agenda. As such, I am at a practical level forced to vote for a candidate who can win the general election.
In any case, I am not a libertarian but a traditional conservative, somewhere between Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul. I can swallow hard and vote for Mr. Romney despite his bad behavior now.
However, other Paul supporters, angry at how they have been treated by the Romney campaign, will vote for the libertarian candidate for president. Some traditional conservatives who are fans of Mr. Paul will vote Constitution Party. Others will not vote at all, and some may even vote for Mr. Obama. Frankly I cannot understand Mr. Romney’s behavior. Perhaps he wishes to act in a decisive manner, but to act decisively against his own self-interest is unwise. I would recommend that he make a peace offering to Mr. Paul and his supporters before his behavior costs him the general election and plunges the United States into rapid ruin.
February 17, 2012
Freedom of Religion, liberalism, Pat Buchanan, The American Left
Anti-Catholic Bigotry, Anti-Defamation League, Buchanan, MSNBC, Pat Buchanan, political correctness, Suicide of the West, United States
Image via Wikipedia
In the past it was often the far right that opposed freedom of expression. There was once a movement in one state to ban the book, The Wizard of Oz because it has as one of the characters “a good witch.” I have personally experienced the dogmatic closed-mindedness of extreme Christian Fundamentalists, and I believe I can recognize that mindset in other groups, both right and left.
Pat Buchanan was recently fired as a commentator on MSNBC. I have found his books to be well-argued, and Mr. Buchanan has a vast knowledge of history that is sadly lacking in most Americans. I agree with his view that immigration should be limited so that those who move into the United States have sufficient time to assimilate to the culture, especially if they come from nations without a tradition of democracy. His position against free trade and in favor of tariffs on incoming Chinese goods is also a good suggestion, a first step in bringing back some of the American manufacturing lost through outsourcing. The same follows for his suggestion that the United States revoke NAFTA. As a traditional Anglican Catholic, I agree with most of Mr. Buchanan’s views on theology and ethics. I also believe that the 1947 partition of Palestine has been a disaster, and although Israel has a right to exist and advocate for her national interests, the United States should not provide support for Israel no matter what she does. Too many people confuse antisemitism and anti-Zionism–they are not the same thing. Many Jewish people are anti-Zionist.
Mr. Buchanan’s book, The Suicide of the West, is what got him into trouble with MSNBC. Under pressure from radical leftist groups who claimed the book was racist and “homophobic,” MSNBC’s (already radicalized) staff decided to fire Mr. Buchanan. I have read The Suicide of the West and find it to be a convincing indictment of the Enlightenment attempt to deny that humans are embodied by denying that embodied properties, even accidental properties, have a great deal to do with an individual’s perceived self-identity. While Americans of European descent do not usually have a specific sense of identity, both African-Americans and Hispanics tend to have a strong sense of identity. Pat Buchanan never says that there is anything wrong with that–he states that it is a part of human nature. Unless there is a consensus civilization to unify various ethnic, religious, and cultural groups, a multicultural society cannot work in practice and leads inevitably to violence (as is the case in California, especially in the prisons, today). For many people in the world, their self-professed identity includes race. Mr. Buchanan does not condemn them, but suggests that such self-identity resists being placed in a “melting pot.” Ethnic and tribal strife in the former Yugoslavia, the former Soviet Union, in Somalia, Uganda and other African nations that were artificially divided across tribal lines by European colonialists, are examples, as are some Asian countries. The United States may believe it is beyond such strife, but in the end, the human propensity to divide into self-contained groups will win out over multiculturalism (or “multi-civilizationalism” as one commentator in Chronicles Magazine once noted).
Mr. Buchanan has also affirmed traditional Roman Catholic moral positions on sexual ethics. This has resulted in a hostile reaction from groups that hate Roman Catholic restrictions on sexual behavior. But as Mr. Buchanan says, “Since when did it become a crime to express traditional Catholic moral positions?” Apparently it is a crime today.
A libertarian might argue that as a private company, MSNBC has every right to fire or hire employees. From a legal point of view it does. But from a moral point of view, it is interesting that a network that claims to value pluralism caved into to radical pressure groups that do not accept freedom of expression. There is hypocrisy there. Left wing political correctness is out of control, just as Fundamentalist political correctness was rampant among some people around whom I was reared.
Someone will probably attack my view, stating that the “progressive” position on issues is the only correct stance to take. Such a claim requires argumentation to justify, not bullying.
January 30, 2011
Government Surveillance, libertarianism, Native Americans, Obama Administration, paleoconservatism, Pat Buchanan, Ron Paul, United States of America, war
Barack Obama, Foreign policy of the United States, History, Hosni Mubarak, Human Rights Abuses, Middle East, Muslim Brotherhood, Pat Buchanan, Puritanism, Ron Paul, saturation bombing, torture, U.S. Foreign Policy, United States, Woodrow Wilson, World War II
Image via Wikipedia
President Obama has chosen to lecture Egyptian President Mubarak on the issue of human rights. This is another instance of American arrogance and hypocrisy, as traditional conservatives such as Pat Buchanan and libertarians such as Ron Paul, as well as some on the left, have pointed out. The U.S. has a shameful history of violation of rights and, regarding the American Indians, genocide. The U.S. Army engaged in brutal tactics during the Philippine War in the early twentieth century. In World War II, the U.S. forced thousands of Japanese-American citizens into what de facto were concentration camps–the fact that they were not as brutal as the German camps does not make what the United States did morally right. The U.S. engaged in saturation bombing of Tokyo in March 1945, killing over 100,000 people with the firestorm created from gasoline-laden bombs. The U.S. is the only country to have used nuclear weapons in combat. The U.S. and its allies, violating centuries of just war theory, demanded unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers in World War II. In Vietnam there were multiple instances of abuse by U.S. Army personnel against the Vietnamese people; Lt. Calley’s unit was not the only one to engage in rape or kill civilians. In Iraq and Afghanistan, torture was the official practice of U.S. military intelligence personnel as well as regular army personnel. The U.S. has not eschewed the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict–not even with President Obama in power. And domestically, neither the FBI nor the ATF have clean human rights records, as FBI surveillance of American citizens and the ATF disasters at Ruby Ridge and Waco show. Now many countries engage in similar behaviors or worse–it may be the case, as blind patriots claim, that the U.S. has a better record on human rights than most other countries. But this does not justify our actions, nor does it justify the arrogance of President Obama in telling Mr. Mubarak how to run his country, especially since democracy in the Middle East tends to lead to radical Islamists coming into power. Perhaps Mr. Obama (and Mrs. Clinton) would prefer the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power in Egypt. If that happens, the powerkeg that is the Near East may explode.
In addition, U.S. policy holds that democracy is the best form of government for all nations. But as Aristotle recognized in his Politics, the best form of government for any state is going to depend on its history and traditions. But the U.S. continues to follow the neo-Puritanism of Woodrow Wilson’s foreign policy and try to export “democracy” to the world–at the same time democracy is dying a slow death in the U.S. The rest of the world sees U.S. hypocrisy and hates us for it. The U.S. can do better than this–it can clean up its own house and avoid sticking its nose into every other country’s business. I hope such reform happens–but the secularist Puritan strand in American foreign policy is ingrained that I am pessimistic. We need more Ron Pauls, more Pat Buchanans, more true liberals such as Nat Hentoff, to join together in an effort to both stop U.S. abuses of human rights and also to encourage a “more humble” (as President G. W. Bush said in his pre-911 days) U.S. foreign policy.