Class Warfare Blog

September 29, 2020

Trump-Supporting Evangelicals Make More Sense Now

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 10:23 am
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I have been reading Pascal Boyer’s book, Religion Explained, and he makes the point that one should think of religious groups more along the lines of coalitions than of groups of people bonded by common beliefs. Clearly Christians fight amongst themselves more than they fight people of non-Christian beliefs (in the U.S.). So, they form a coalition amongst a few people within their religion, which is based upon a cost-benefit analysis. (They figure the cost of leaving vs. the benefits of staying. Coalitions serve prosaic purposes.)

Fundamentalists often respond with violence when their “cultural norms” are challenged . . . or at least that’s what it seems. But Boyer states:

“We can get a better sense of fundamentalist reactions if we describe more precisely what is so scandalous about modern influence in a religious milieu and if we take into account that the reaction is a matter of coalitional processes (My emphasis here. S). The message from the modern world is not just that other ways of living are possible, that some people many not believe, or believe differently, or feel unconstrained by religious morality, or (in the case of women) make their own decisions without male supervision. The message is also that people can do that without paying a heavy price. Nonbelievers and believers in another faith are not ostracized; those who break free of religious morality, as long as the abide by the laws, still have a normal social position; and women who dispense with male chaperones do not visibly suffer as a consequence. This “message” may seem so obvious to us that we fail to realize how seriously it threatens a social interaction that is based upon coalitional thinking. Seen from the point of view of a religious coalition, the fact that many choices are made in modern conditions without paying a heavy price means that defection is not costly and is therefore very likely.” (All emphases, other than the one noted as being mine, are Boyer’s.)

So, evangelicals support Trump, not because he is like them, but because he is punishing the transgressors; making those gays and queers, and illegals pay a price for their “decisions” . . . because if there isn’t a heavy price to pay for violating their norms (whatever the heck they might be), people will defect from their coalition in increasing numbers.

This is why fundamentalists can’t wait for you to get your comeuppance in the after life. They need to have you punished in the here and now to show the benefit of staying in their particular coalition.

At least this makes some sense.

The bullshit of trying to make Mr. Trump into a Christ-like figure just makes no sense at all, so the root of “he shares our beliefs” also makes so sense, but this does. In essence: he hates the people we hate and is punishing them for their bad decisions, which supports our coalition by making it harder to conceive of defecting from it.

September 23, 2020

We Are Oh-So-Kind . . . to Ourselves

I was reading an article about some Native American archaeology and came to this statement “In the 1800’s, European settlers drove ancestral Wichita people from their native lands, leading to the destruction of their villages and communal traditions.”

I have made this point before but am still struck by the terminology.

If someone invaded your community and forcefully ejected you from your homes and farms, killing many of you in the process, would you refer to them as settlers . . . or invaders? Was not this land already “settled?” In this instance they are talking about a “city” of possibly 40,000 Native American inhabitants.

But European “settlers” “drove” the people off. It sounds like they are referring to cattle or buffalo which could be “driven” to another location.

By what right were these things done? Oh, God told them it was okay for the Europeans to make war on the indigenous peoples they encountered, in order to bring Christianity to the natives. Gee, you’d think this was an educational mission instead of a land grab.

At the time, Europe had recovered from the repeated decimation of the population of Europe due to the Black Plague and other plagues and was overpopulated. The “European settlers” were searching for land, land that could be tilled, land that could be mined, land that could make them rich. They came as soldier-farmers. They didn’t work in their fields without their guns nearby, because the people they stole the land from wanted it back.

These were not settlers. They were an army of invaders. And we are descended from them.

And President Trump wants our schools to teach that we did nothing wrong. Sure we took their land, but we gave them the Bible. From Mr. Trump’s perspective, this was a great deal, and American deal, an exceptional deal.

And the winners of the deal get to write and re-write the history any way they want. Mr. Trump’s way is what we will get if he is re-elected.

 

 

September 14, 2020

Black Lives Matter! . . . All Lives Matter! WTF?

Filed under: Culture,History,Politics,Race — Steve Ruis @ 10:19 am
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The Black Lives Matter . . . I guess I will call it a movement . . . is arguing that Black lives should matter more than our current society values them. They should matter at least as much as white lives and, I can argue, that because of centuries at maltreatment, maybe they should matter a little more than white lives, to make up for all of that abuse. Black people should be afforded more respect, more courtesy, and so on for say, maybe the next 100 years as partial compensation for the abhorrent abuses their families suffered from the rest of American society.

And the rejoinder to BLM “All Lives Matter?” What a farce. This isn’t even close to being true. And I will show you why. Stay with me now.

From your personal perspective, does your life matter . . . to you? I would venture to say all would answer “yes” (plus or minus a few percent).

How about the lives of your immediate family, do they matter? Again, I would suggest that most people will answer “yes.”

How about the lives of close social associates: friends, close colleagues, mentors, pastors, etc. Do their lives matter?

How about people outside of that circle: people who live in your community but who you do not know? Do their lives matter?

Do I have to keep going? On to the homeless people in cities far away? Starving children in Africa? Poor people struggling to feed their children in lands far away? I suggest that you make no effort to find out about these people and don’t give a rat’s ass whether they live or die.

I am not dissing you. I am part of the same group you are in. My point is we are a social species and the amount of care each of us has for “others” is closely related to how much we interact with them . . . socially.

So, do all lives matter? No, of course not. The idea is pathetically stupid. So, why was it advanced? It was advanced as a racist response for BLM, which is just a plea from Black people to just be treated like everyone else. Imagine opposing that!

So, every time you hear “All Lives Matter” recognize it for what it is. By using the word “all” you get included, and of course your life matters . . . to you. (It matters not a gnat’s fart to the racist scum trying to keep Black people “in their place.”) And “all” means your spouse, and kids, and . . . they matter, too. And then you stop thinking, you don’t carry your line of thought on out to all of the “deplorables” you don’t give a fig about. So “All Lives Matter” resonates with people, but do not fall for this lie. It . . . is . . . not . . . true . . . and hence cannot counter anything.

Don’t fall for the racist propaganda. And every time you have on opportunity to vote or express your opinion, stick up for your fellow citizens who are Black and being treated as if they are outcasts.

September 11, 2020

Doing the Time Warp

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
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Consequences, there are consequences . . . to being a know it all.

Apparently the Christian god knows everything that has happened and will happen. This means this god already knows what you will be praying for next week, next year, and in ten years. Already knows.

Musical Interlude
Let’s do the Time Warp again
It’s so dreamy
Oh, fantasy free me
So you can’t see me
No, not at all . . .

So, if this god already has heard your prayers, why would it wait until you actually said them to respond? If your prayer sounds like a good idea, it should be implemented immediately, no? So, if the prayer was, say, to save a believer’s daughter from a deadly disease, the god could step in, prevent the child from getting the disease in the first place and thus avoid all of the pain, suffering, and anguish on the part of the child and parents . . . no?

Of course, if this god were interested in the credit for the saved little life, then waiting would make such a “miracle cure” more dramatic, no? But to whose benefit is that?

Plus, it is claimed that this god has a plan for each and every one of us. If it already knows what will come about, wouldn’t that have been worked into his plan already? This would mean that prayers would be totally useless/ineffective, which studies prove them to be, so maybe this is why. This god has already taken your prayers into account and the plan was formulated with those being known, so whatever you pray for will come up empty. What will happen has already been decided.

If, as part of your plan, you are to get deathly sick, go in hospital, almost die, but survive and recover your health. All of your Christian friends, however, will have been beavering away praying that you recover, see that you have recovered and shouts of “Praise God!” will rise up in church on Sunday. Of course, had you died, they would have said that their god had other plans for you. Either way god wins and this is less work for him and so is more likely than a working model of intercessionary prayer.

Why such a being would give a rat’s fart for what you think is also a mystery, along with why he would want you to love him. “God needs your love” says many things about that god and none of them are flattering.

But then, I guess being all-knowing is its own reward . . . and punishment. It sounds like a curse to me.

PS Bonus points for who recognizes the song the lyric was snatched from.

 

Finally We Understand!

Filed under: Culture,Economics — Steve Ruis @ 11:01 am
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September 10, 2020

Sometimes a Lede Is Enough

Filed under: Culture,language — Steve Ruis @ 8:54 am
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I occasionally run posts starting with “Sometimes a Blurb is Enough” usually focused upon online book pitches, but the same applied to articles in “magazines.” This is from Today’s The Guardian.

Gosh, I wonder why a feminist voice stating “I Hate Men” would not be welcome among men? Is great puzzlement.

And the “right” to not like men? WTF? One’s likes and dislikes hardly constitute a basis for a right. How about, “I demand the right to not like vanilla ice cream!” or “I demand the right to prefer Fords over Chevies!” It seems that one neither has a right to like or dislike anything. Nor is anything opposing these likes and dislikes.

Publishing or broadcasting your likes and dislikes, however, can have consequences. Recently a blogger lost her job for public condemning the company she worked for in her blog. Others have lost their jobs from posts about their racial likes and dislikes. They were fired for bringing disrepute upon the company they worked for.

Everyone can harbor what most of us would consider abhorrent likes and dislikes if they just keep their mouths shut about them. People who really like child pornography can have normal lives if they do not manifest that into a law violation. All one would have to do is keep that ‘like” within the privacy of their own mind.

You also do not have a right to spew anything that comes to mind, however, and I give the tried and true example of screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

And how would I ever know if someone I was talking to didn’t like men? I don’t like idiots per se, but I do tolerate them and respect their right to exist and even speak their minds. So. maybe people who don’t like men should have a tee shirt or something to identify their “dislike” and so not keep us in the dark.

September 9, 2020

Trickle Down Economics . . . and What to Do About It

I begin with an interesting quote:

Williams Jennings Bryan said: “There are two ideas of government. There are those who believe that if you just legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous, that their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it.”

He said this in 1896. Eighteen effing ninety-six!

Trickle down economics was not a new invention during the Reagan presidency, it is the tried and true instrument of the rich to retain and expand their wealth and also, they believe, their status in society.

We are in yet another Gilded Age of wealth accumulation. The filthy rich have bought the courts, the governments, and the news media and now those instruments of our society only bleat what they are told to bleat. And what they bleat is support for the position of the plutocrats, the wealthy elites.

Those elites have sold the idea that how much wealth you have is a measure of your social status, your worth as a person, so much so that religions have cropped up to support just that, e.g. featuring prosperity gospel preachers of the like of Joel Osteen and the perfectly named Creflo Dollar.

If we are to ever have a chance at real democracy, on in which “you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up and through every class that rests upon it,” then we need to take action. One thing under our control is to socially ostracize the very wealthy.

Is there any good reason that Jeff Bezos should have $200+ billion dollars of wealth? Could that degree of wealth be accumulated without the rules being bent to allow it? Think about this. If Mr. Bezos were to give you one billion dollars . . . if . . . if you could spend it in one calendar year, do you think you could do it? To do this, you would have to spend an average amount per hour of every eight-hour day, five days a week, fifty weeks in that year. (You’d get two weeks vacation, after all what good is being rich if you don’t get to enjoy it?) Do you know what that amount would be? It is $532,000 per hour! Think about how hard you’d have to work to spend just $532,000! Sure, you could go out and buy a house. So, now you have a house and you need to spend 532,000 more dollars in the next hour, and the next, and the next.

And Mr. Bezos has accumulated over two hundred billion dollars for himself.

Do you think Mr. Bezos thinks this is enough, that from now on he will take whatever he earns and share it with all of the Amazon workers who work so hard under trying conditions? Gratitude is important, right? Plus Mr. Bezos could spend $532,000 per hour of every working day for the next 200 years and not spend all of his accumulated wealth . . . not making one more penny.

Do you think he thinks enough is enough? No?

I do not, either.

Start the shame campaign. Impugn the patriotism of the uber-rich. Impugn their commitment to democracy. Shame them for their Greed. Unleash the Lash of the Mortal Sin of Greed upon their backsides.

Being wealthy is fine. Being filthy rich no longer is. Stop looking up to them, admiring them. Stop thinking of the Mitt Romneys and Donald Trumps of the world as “self-made men” when their fathers gave them millions of dollars of seed money. (I worked almost forty years as a college professor and earned about two million dollars of salary. Donald Trump was given five million dollars to “get started.”)

Repeat after me: Boo! Hiss! Every time one of the uber-rich appears in public, let them know their true social status: as greedy bastards who will grind armies of ordinary people under their heels to make themselves richer than Croesus.

Need Ammunition?
So, Bill Gates is a nice guy, right? Personally I think this is correct. Professionally not so much. Consider all of the lawsuits over shady business practices that Microsoft lost. The Internet Explorer scandals. The European anti-trust prosecutions, in essence, etc.

Jeff Bezos created and owns a large part of Amazon.com and all of its spin-offs. Amazon has been running commercials lately, highlighting employees who think working for Amazon is just swell. Have you seen these?

Have you seen similar commercials for Costco? No? That’s because they don’t exist. All you need to know what working for Costco is like you can see on the badges of its workers. many say “Employee since 1997,” others show 10 and five years served. People don’t stay with an employer unless they are treated . . . and paid . . . fairly. Costco has a reputation of being a good, even a very good employer. People stay with them. (And no, they are not perfect, just good.)

Amazon runs commercials to offset the bad press they have gotten from mal-treated and disgruntled employees. You, know, for canceling the health insurance of part-time employees at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, things like that. The amount of money saved doing that to be put in Jeff Bezo’s pocket wouldn’t make a rounding error in his net worth. That’s how Mr. Bezos thinks wealth is created.

Do your research. Every time you feel yourself slipping into admiration for a very wealthy plutocrat, do some research and find out how they got all of that money. If they appear on a radio show, call in and tell them what you really think. If they appear on a TV show, change channels, so their ratings will go down. If a local news program shows a gushing puff piece for one of these bastards, call in and give them a piece of your mind.

I hope that booking an uber-rich asshole in the future will be about as popular as booking an avowed racist is now. Make ‘em bleed.

September 8, 2020

The Ten Convenient Commandments (How to Correctly Interpret These in a Modern Sense)

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:31 am
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1 You shall have no other gods before me.

Okay, this does not apply to Trump worshipers. God will just have to take second place for a while. Oh, money, too. “No money, no life,” am I right?

2 You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

This doesn’t include all of the religious statuary in the Vatican or any of the paintings either. None of them statues and paintings in all of the local churches either, including those as stained glass windows. And those people who wear a crucifix pendant around their neck, that’s just good Christian behavior.

And while TV shows show a great many images “in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” we just consider those as being special effects and besides, they go away when we turn the TV off, right?

3 You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Jesus, of course not!

4 Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

This doesn’t apply to the wife who has to make the sandwiches and chili and serve the beer for the gang watching the NFL game. Those people on TV are all working on the Sabbath and we watch them do so with great glee, so they aren’t covered by this, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to do it.

5 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

I hope they both got Social Security because I ain’t supporting them in their old age. Fuck that. I barely make enough as it is.

6 You shall not murder.

Okay, this is usually convenient so we can live with this one.

7 You shall not commit adultery.

Uh, mostly this should be obeyed, but geez, when the opportunity is hot, it is really inconvenient, so this is a “maybe yes, maybe no commandment.”

8 You shall not steal.

Obviously this doesn’t apply to filling in our tax forms. Cheating the federal government out of its legally dictated tax revenue is not like stealing from a real person. And taking a few things home from the office is not like stealing. We have put in extra hours that were not paid, so this is just payment for those hours, right?

9 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Of course not. That lying son of a bitch, however, never plays by the rules. I think he is a Scientologist and we all know how criminal those Scientologists are.

10 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Heck, if it weren’t for neighbor envy, none of us would struggle to get ahead in the rat race, am I right? Jeez, if I had a Mercedes like my neighbor has, I wouldn’t be jealous of him at all.

 

 

September 5, 2020

The God Feature of Omnipresence

Filed under: Culture,Reason,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:56 am
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In a recent post I wrote “We claim that this (Christian) god hears our prayers and may act upon them right away. We also claim that this god is omnipresent, that he is always observing you and listening to you speak. Is this really necessary? It involves a human foible, that of someone needing to be within “ear shot” to witness what you say . . . and within line of sight to see what you do. Is this “power” necessary for this particular god? Absolutely not. If he is all-knowing, he already knows all that you have said and will say and do. He doesn’t need to be “there” to witness your prayer or your actions.” The reason is simple: because he already has.

God has perfect memory of the past . . . and the future. Whereas we “think back” to recall a memory, this god can “think forward” to recall an event that hasn’t yet happened, but will.

My conclusion in that previous post was that “omnipresence” is an unnecessary claim for any god which is all-knowing. It is an indicator that this god is made up because it contains human frailties coded into it, a being which supposedly has no human frailties.

So, why do theists insist that the Christian god is omnipresent? I think it has to do with human nature also. Imagine a Christian confronting a friend contemplating some sort of sinful behavior. Which, do you think, will be the more effective argument? Telling them that “God” will be there seeing and hearing what they do? or telling them “God” already knows what you will do and he will punish you. Human nature says, “well if I am to be punished I might as well get my money’s worth.” (Anyone who has raised a teenager has encountered this attitude.)

So, Christians have transformed their god into a Voyeur God to make it a more effective weapon in controlling the behavior of others. Having a god who watches you when you are voiding your bowels or bladder hardly seems attractive. I guess if it matters which hand you use, there will have to be some oversight. And, sex of course. God watches all of that kinky stuff and takes mental notes or possible they are automatically recorded in big books that will be consulted when you are at the pearly gates being judged (or whenever a cherubim is feeling horny and needs some help getting off).

Something is definitely sick here, and I don’t think it is this god. Being imaginary makes so many of its actions second hand, don’t you think?

September 3, 2020

See the Pattern?

Filed under: Culture,The Law — Steve Ruis @ 1:13 pm
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Here are two accounts from recent news stories:

Tahir Ahmad Naseem – who his daughter remembers as the kindest and most gentle of parents – was on trial in Pakistan for blasphemy when he was shot dead last month in a high-security courtroom. The teenager who pulled the trigger, Faisal Khan, was arrested after the shooting and charged with murder. But he was also feted as a “holy warrior”.

Meanwhile in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US of A . . .

But a white teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, could walk down a public street in that same city during a chaotic protest — in violation of a curfew — with a military style semi-automatic long gun strapped over his shoulder, and police officers didn’t stop him. Instead, they tossed him a bottle of water and thanked him for his help. According to news reports, protesters actually shouted to police officers riding in armored trucks that the 17-year-old Rittenhouse had shot someone. Yet not one officer grabbed hold of him. Not one officer used a Taser. Not one officer drew a weapon.

On Friday, Daniel Miskinis, Kenosha’s police chief, told reporters, “There was nothing to suggest [Rittenhouse] was involved in any criminal behavior.”

See the pattern?

How does a man toting a gun walk into a “high security courtroom” . . . with a gun. Gosh do you think that man represented the dominant culture and that was one of his privileges?

How could a young man walk down a public street during a raucous protest, with a rifle looped around his neck, with people shouting at the police that the kid had just killed two protesters, and the police did nothing? Could it be that young man represented the dominant culture and that was one of his privileges?

Do you see the pattern?

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