Class Warfare Blog

November 19, 2017

A Kinder, Gentler Religion … Not

Christianity is now described in the most cushiony of terms: it is peaceful, it is love, it embraces you as a mother would a child. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, is … love! But at its core … ?

There are a number of problems with this kinder, gentler portrayal of Christianity:
1.  Christianity gives, in no uncertain terms, man dominion over women. The effects of this have been 2000 years of male oppression of women in the Christian world. If you think we have grown out of this, read the news.
2. Christianity gives “man” dominion over the Earth. This assertion has lead to environmental disaster. This continues at a greater and greater pace.
3. Christianity gives adults dominion over children. Child abuse, even child sexual abuse, is not even mentioned in the Bible, for example.
4. Christianity gives “man” dominion over animals.
4. Christianity gives “man” dominion over slaves, aka other human beings (including those of their own tribe designated as slaves).

Chistianity is not alone in these “givings” as they are shared with many other religions, but not all (Jainism comes to mind). What if, instead of dominion, “man” were to have been given stewardship over the Earth and women and children? Conditions of that stewardship could have been spelled out clearly: that man was to be a protector of those, rather than to lord over them. Would that have made a difference? What if the clergy were given the stewardship of the welfare of all of “their flock” (like any good shepherd), rather than of just our “immortal souls?” What if all human beings were be treated with respect and never enslaved?

These provisions would have had dire consequences for the future of Christiainity, surely making it unsuitable to become the state religion of Rome and hence, consigning it to the rubbish heap of history, but we can dream of a better world and how it could be or have been created.

Why is Christianity and its Jewish roots so adamant about who controls what?

When you adopt the viewpoint that all religions are instruments of social control, especially of the masses for the benefit of the elites, it makes much more sense.

It is elites who wanted the dominion, not the 90+% of the population who are sterilely referred to as farmers or peasants (actually slaves and serfs). Those lesser beings had not the power to exert dominion over much of anything, maybe a few animals in a pen. In any case if the religious had any qualms about subjegating animals, or other human beings, they need not worry as it is warranted in their scripture and there were plenty of propagandists ready to point that out … over and over and over.

A kinder, gentler religion? Not Christianity, because at its core is dominion, not peace, not love. And if you do not believe so, there are threats, dire threats, to make you believe.

Addendum
Twenty-five years ago this month, more than 1,500 prominent scientists, including over half of the living Nobel laureates, issued a manifesto titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in which they admonished, “A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.” They cited stresses on the planet’s atmosphere, forests, oceans and soils, and called on everybody to act decisively. “No more than one or a few decades remain,” the scientists wrote, “before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost.”

Which U.S. political party opposes action on this front? Is it the more Christian of the two major political parties? Are you surprised? I am not.

Advertisements

November 10, 2017

Boy, I Love Ian Welsh

But unlike most of the rest of the world, China is actually trying to tackle problems, to think decades ahead, to plan and to do big important things. Some of what China considers important, like its expansion of a truly oppressive surveillance citizen which will include a public score for every citizen, I don’t like, but China does big things, good, bad or flawed, while we watch approaching catastrophes and gently hum to ourselves, then check our phones.

Follow the brilliant mind of Ian Welsh at his blog.

November 7, 2017

The Real Cornerstones of Christianity

I have been claiming that religion exists only as a mechanism to control the great masses of people so they continue to serve the interests of the elites (both religious and secular). In this post I take a look at the concepts of Christianity (mostly, as being the religion I know the most about) that further this end and no other. (For Christians who feel they are being picked on, ask yourselves if you want other religions being taught to the same degree as is Christianity or do you want to be the dominant religion here? If you say dominant, then, well, you have to expect to be the only religion people know well enough to be able to critique.)

Your rewards come in the afterlife.
You will be rewarded and the people who did you wrong will be punished after you all are dead. So, whatever you do, don’t act up while you are alive. Stay passive. (Judgment is mine, sayeth the Lord!)

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.
Of course, your inheritance will be worth almost nothing by the time the elites are done with it. But, if you stop being meek, you will get written out of God’s will. So, cultivate meekness, no?

You must believe in Jesus to be saved.
This mobilizes the “flock” to spread “the word,” creating a self-propagating propaganda campaign. This aspect mobilizes basically good people to deliver a crooked message.

The rich have no chance of getting into heaven.
Right. Since the rich have heaven on Earth and there is no heaven or afterlife, this is a sop to the poor bastards toiling away to make the rich richer. If being rich paves your path to Hell, why are the rich not giving their wealth to the churches? They seem only to give enough to polish their reputations, but not enough to cramp their lifestyles.

God is outside of time and space.
So, don’t go looking for Him, other than in your own imagination, because he is nowhere to be found. This is why the atheists can’t find God, the fools!

God works in mysterious ways.
If there is something you do not understand it is because you are a dumb fuck. Allow your betters to act on your behalf. They are smart and know better. And if they are dumb fucks, too, and do not know, this lets them off of the hook.

“God, in His own words, is a murderous sociopath
whose primary message is:
Worship Me, Properly, or Else
(Commandments 1 and 2 of the infamous ten).”

The Bible is the word of god.
If you read the Bible you will find this god, in His own words, to be a murderous sociopath whose primary message is: worship me, properly, or else (Commandments 1 and 2 of the infamous ten). This, coupled with keeping the Bible in a language none of the Christians could read for centuries (and killing people who translated) facilitated the elites being able to tell us what the Bible said, whether it said that or not. (Many people believe things like “God helps those who help themselves” are in the Bible when they are not. Since they know they haven’t read the thing, I wonder where they got that idea?) Oh, and they are still doing this. In other words, the elites are the word of god.

Belief is more important than knowledge.
And they will tell us what to believe and even what to know.

Those who cannot see what clearly is not there are fools!
This turns a delusion inside out. One is not foolish because one has been deluded, the others are fools for not being deluded. The helps build distrust in what can observed oneself and bolsters what they tell us to imagine. (The emperor’s new clothes are real, trust me, I know the tailor.)

There are no contradictions in the Bible.
There are hundreds of contradictions in the Bible but they don’t want you to go looking for them, just take this “fact” on faith … and don’t listen to anyone who points these things out as they are the tools of the Satan.

God listens to you and answers your prayers (sometimes, kinda, sorta).
Again, no action is required except inaudibly petitioning their god to do something you could do something about yourself. People so want to believe this is true they make up instances in which their prayers were “answered” and share them with their friends. Again, this is part of the self-propagating propaganda campaign. There has never been any evidence that prayers work (amputees getting new limbs, starving children becoming well-fed overnight, etc.).

You need to give liberally to your church.
After all they are doing “God’s work.” Yeah, like an all-powerful god who created an entire universe with hundreds of billions of stars and planets in just a couple of days, needs church officials to do what He cannot. Yahweh: all-powerful, all-knowing, and always in need of money. If being rich paves your path to Hell, why are the rich not giving their wealth to the churches? They seem only to give enough to polish their reputations, but not enough to cramp their lifestyles.

On the Sabbath, neither you, nor your kin, nor your slaves shall work.
If you aren’t supposed to do any work (some observant Jews think that turning on a TV is work), what are you supposed to do? Use the day to work your own little garden so as to be able to feed your family better? No, that’s work. Create a new business as the Republicans are always saying we need to do? No, that would be work. You are supposed to spend the day praying and studying scripture, in other words, reinforcing your own programming.

You may not be aware of this, but every time your computer reads something off of a hard drive it rewrites the files being read, thus reinforcing what is a very weak magnetic signal. The Sabbath is a day of reinforcing your religious programming (aka propaganda) so it doesn’t weaken under the strain of a seven-day work week. You can even go to temple or church to get reinforcement. You can’t work, but you can donate food and money to the church on this day … of course. This is pitched as a “day of rest” and made to sound like a vacation, but the faithful do not treat it as such.

By controlling what you do one day out of every seven, the control is reinforced strongly. Ever time you are controlled, it becomes more commonplace, more ordinary.

A woman shall cleave to her husband (etc, etc.).
There are so many diminishments of women in the Christian religion I had to narrow the list it to just this one example; there are many. many more. Basically the Bible offloads the responsibility to oppress women onto men. This lightens the load of the elites while giving a false impression to men that they are in control of their lives.

Controlling the reproduction of the species is a primary goal of the elites. There need to be enough workers, but not too many mouths to be fed. (Desperate poor people often try to rob the rich.) And sex has power over men’s minds which could equal the power of religion or the state, so men need to be warned off and taught that consorting with women is evil. Our current Vice-president will not go out for a drink with a woman not his wife. Now, that is control. Many Muslims wallpaper their women in cloth so they can walk on the streets, lest men be tempted by the evil wiles. And on, and on, and on, there is much more to this topic alone.

Conclusion
My hope is that if you see things as they really are, rather than as they are claimed to be, you will be able to see all of these controls in operation. You, then, can decide whether you want to go along.

Me, I like being asked. I tend to respond to reasonable requests very positively. If you try to (or actually do) manipulate me into doing something, I am done with you. You are out of my life. (If you don’t believe me, ask my dearly departed second wife. She isn’t dead, just dearly departed.)

November 6, 2017

Live Off of the Land? Move Along, Nothing to See Here

The empire keeps striking back, as this article about the legal foundation of the common use of the land to sustain oneself shows. This battle is still being waged today.

The elites do not want us to use common land to sustain our lives. They need to be able to coerce our labor to their benefit, not ours. And their efforts continue to this day.

Read it and weep: Why You’ve Never Heard of a Charter as Important as the Magna Carta

 

November 5, 2017

None So Blind As He Who Will Not See

Note This is a very long post, you may need to read it in stages. Sorry. Steve

At this point in my life, I am an old man. For over 60 years I have been studying history, mostly on my own. I remember reading H.G. Wells A Short History of the World when in high school, for fun. (I was what was then called “a reader” but an otherwise ordinary boy.) In college I read Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization, for fun (and The Story of Philosophy and The Lessons of History). I read books about Egyptian History, the history of science, World War 2, the Russian Revolution, and on and on. I have been reading lately about the history of the Christian church (a real hair raiser if there was one).

And in all of those histories my eyes ran over the words but they didn’t quite come together. All of those Russian peasants, the serfs of Europe, the subjects of Egyptian and Persian god-kings, the Christian mobs running competitors out of town, all of those slaves and I never put together the fact that the vast majority of all human beings have been slaves since the advent of civilization.

I have written before about how I thought small groups of human beings ended up with shamans, shamans being members of the tribe who weren’t particularly skilled at hunting or any other valuable skill, yet who craved status and hence claimed to be able to negotiate with all of the gods that abounded in the minds of people. Since we knew no better, we assumed that everything had a voice in it like we had in our heads, so there was a god of the brook, of a tree, of a mountain, of the animals they hunted. All of our gods started with the animistic gods of primitive humans as precursors. This is where the idea of a god came from. But those gods were right there to observe in the form of the tree, or the spring, or the antelope. They weren’t far away gods and they certainly weren’t all-powerful.

When people started to gather in larger groups (larger than a small family), that is up to 100-125 in a troop (about the maximum size before splitting into smaller groups apparently), there was likely more than one shaman and they either had to compete or cooperate and since they were cunning they realized that they would be better off together than in competition. In order to cooperate, they had to get their stories together, so they were making the same claims and exhibiting the same “powers.” This is how a covey of shamans started religions. As the size of groups expanded, more cooperation between and among shamans was necessitated.

I have come to the conclusion that “organized” religion is simply a people control mechanism that was enabled by civilization. To live in cities, a great deal of labor needed to be coerced (because no one wanted to work that hard) and religion proved to be the tool to do just that. (“Kings” didn’t show up until about 1500 years after the first cities, which were always run by religious elites.) For the religious, the city was a gravy train. Other people toiled to provide them food and clothing and luxuries and all they had to do was perform some rituals from time to time and, of course, claim to have some power over those damned gods who would kick our asses at the drop of a hat. This was the creation of first wealth and the first full-time leisure.

I assume there were some true believers but they were always co-opted by the power mongers who took their imaginative creations and used them to make people obey.

The people closest to the class of elites wanted in on the scam (no different today) and didn’t want to be coerced into doing the work to support all of the freeloaders, so since the idea of capturing people from other tribes already existed, the idea of acquiring manpower from elsewhere came readily to mind. Men and women to work, women of child-bearing age to have more babies, even children were valuable. So, the elites, in essence, invented large scale slave raids, which were the nascent versions of what would end up as wars.

This is also why religions make no sense at all because we are looking at them in the wrong way. Religions are uneasy partners with political/military leaders to supply psychological and, if needed, physical force to keep people in line. In rare cases religion gets co-opted to support the general populace, but eventually they fall back in line as partners to maintain the status quo for the elites. The religions then, of course, use those instances as indicators of their true natures, like in the U.S. where religious leaders became anti-slavery, when there is no scripture whatsoever that supported their position.

Just like the shamans who saw they were better off as allies than competitors in the tribes, the religious elites saw the martial elites as natural allies. This took a little while to work out. The first “kings” were battle leaders under the control of the religious elites, but soon the warriors saw that they could whip the assess of those girly-men priests and didn’t think they should be taking orders from them anymore. You need to look no farther than The Epic of Gilgamesh for an example of such a conflict.

This alliance of elites has always had it ups and downs. The political elites eliminated the priest’s influence in the Russian Revolution, for example. (You will notice the priests are back, somewhat cowed, but religion is too good of a tool of oppression to waste. Ask Mr. Putin.) Henry the VIII of England created his own church when the one he had wouldn’t do his bidding. The Church of Rome threw much of the young male nobility of Europe into the meat grinder of the crusades to capture and control Jerusalem (a hardly useful task, but just making them do it reinforced their power over the nobles). There are many examples, but almost always the two religious and secular powers end up hand in hand.

Just ask yourself, which of the two American political parties is most covetous of political power? You will also notice that they are also the most overtly religious, even trying to change the law that prevents clergy from haranguing their congregations on politics. Which party are the religious supporting the most? (Surprise!) There are many more examples that can be made.

The bottom line is that religion was invented to control your behavior for the benefit of an elite few. Civilization was a tipping point in scale. And because of this there has been untold misery inflicted on other humans who were enslaved or coerced into work they didn’t want.

We know civilization was a tipping point because there was so much resistance to it. The first cities rose and died very quickly. There were structural problems, problems of getting resources delivered to the elites (water transport was good, land transport was awful), there were problems coercing “the flock.” The were problems in the high concentrations of food created and stored and shipped drew vermin like magnets, and as the populations increased, the numbers of people and animals were high enough to support disease epidemics.

All of the “civilizations” were initially surrounded by “barbarians.” These were actually the free people … well free, unless they were captured and enslaved by the “civilized” people. The barbarians were hunter-gatherers, or pastoralists, or semi-sedentary groups of people who lived the old way, the easy way, the healthy way.

Because the “barbarians” had very varied diets, they were quite disease resistant. The grew taller, stronger, and had less gum and other diseases. (We know this; this is not just a guess.) The “civilized” people were the exact opposite, but also got a narrow diet (consider the Chinese diet of rice for breakfast, rice for lunch, and rice for dinner … if they were lucky) and got to work longer hours at work not of their choosing. Yes, I know hunter-gatherers had to gather and hunt to eat, but they didn’t have someone telling them to do just one thing all of a day. They didn’t have anyone telling them what to do at all. They would go looking for things good to eat and what they did depended on what was available, and there was widespread availability of many different foodstuffs which was shared fairly egalitarianly … until the civilized people confiscated the land by force and used it for the elite’s purposes.

The barbarians opposed the civilized people because the civilized people opposed them. And sometimes the barbarians won. But in the end, the free people succumbed to the diseases and predation of the “civilized” people. (Consider the fate of the millions of people living in what was to become the United States, when the Europeans showed up with their “white, god-given privilege.)

But, you say, that was a long, long time ago and now the benefits of civilization are shared by one and all. (This claim is followed by a long list of the benefits of civilization, most of which are valid but many are quite dubious. Protection from communicable diseases with vaccines that people never got before being herded into large groups has to be considered a push. Being able to fly thousands of miles overnight is of debatable value. But that is not my main point. My point is “at what cost?” Civilization is still a pattern in which the elites coerce labor from the vast majority for their benefit alone. To make this obvious, here are a few things to consider:

  • Do you pay a tithe or give to a church? Do you know what your money goes for?
  • After the 2008 financial collapse that caused a worldwide economic recession, which people were made whole first?
  • Would you vote for an atheist were they better qualified in all other ways than their opponents in an election?

These are just a few questions to stimulate your thinking. Most people have no idea where the funds their churches collect go, for example. Even if their church publishes a financial statement, few read it. Most of the funds go to what is called “overhead” in business (salaries, utilities, maintenance of buildings, etc.) almost none goes to charity. This is basically a business which has overhead but no product other than what it’s customers imagine.

We all are aware that banks and stockholders got bailed out after the 2008 debacle, that none of the miscreants went to jail. That ordinary folks whose home mortgages were rigged so they appeared to be affordable, got very little, most nothing. The elites were taken care of first, as they always are.

And polls show that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t vote for an avowed atheist under any circumstances. (Donald Trump lied about his religiosity, which should surprise no one.) Now that is control! If you want public office, believe what we tell you or at least pretend to.

While the mechanisms of coercion are now much more subtle (they are in essence, baked into the system—capitalism is one of them), ordinary people work very, very hard, and the surpluses they create go to the wealthy, powerful elite, and not themselves or their families. You have seen this graph before, no?

Many people have expressed surprise that evangelical Christians supported the candidacy of Donald Trump. If one takes a step back and looks at what is going on without the rose-colored glasses we are told we must wear (by the propaganda of the elites) the evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump in spite of his personal failings and attitudes and lack of belief but because of his willingness to pursue their political agenda. All of the dogma, scripture, etc. of the various churches is just window dressing, window dressing to be ignored when it gets in the way of the real agenda, which is maintaining and expanding the power of the religious and wealthy secular elites.

If you do not believe this, consider the following Christian scriptures:
Matthew 6:19-20 (“Do not store up treasures for yourself on the earth”)
Luke 6:24-25 (“But alas for you who are rich, for you have your comfort”)
James 5:1-6 (“Come now, you who are rich, weep, howling out at the miseries that are coming for you”).
As one writer put it “While there are always clergy members and theologians swift to assure us that the New Testament condemns not wealth but its abuse, not a single verse (unless subjected to absurdly forced readings) confirms the claim.”

So much for the prosperity gospel and the churches support for the wealthy. Never will scripture get in the way of their pact with the secular elites, who use money more than strong arms now to coerce the behavior they desire.

Just as there is no support for an anti-slavery position in the Christian churches, American religious elites point to the actions of churches to get slavery disallowed in this country. If one steps back and looks at that in an unfiltered way, it was just another coalition formed to create a political end and it had nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with taking care of the elites. The elites expanded slavery to vast numbers to support civilization and is more than willing to abandon the practice, if it is to their benefit. (You will note that even though “freed” the situation of most Black Americans changed very little.

What has hit me and hit me hard is that civilization has been a source of coercion and misery quite likely for a majority of human beings since its inception. We even talk about how the workers who built the pyramids weren’t slaves, they were volunteers. Right, our god-king “asked” us to do this task, this dangerous, absurd task that creates no food, no wealth, and is back breaking labor and we volunteered enthusiastically. If someone walked up to you on the street and offered you this “job” for no pay (other than room and board), would you take it … or would you need to be forced to take it?

If you look at every “socialist” country in existence today (outside of the democratic socialist countries but possibly even including them), can you really say that the “means of production” are owned by “the people”? Do you think that the recent Chinese Communist Party meeting was comprised of representatives of “the people” or possibly even made up of ordinary Chinese citizens, aka “the people”? In every case I have looked at, the socialism is window dressing for rule by a powerful elite. The “rulers” are always wealthy, able to take care of their families with positions in the elite structure, and represent themselves rather than the needs of the people. The people are directed in such a way as to create wealth and power for the elites. Period.

The United States is supposed to be a grand experiment in “self-rule.” The founders were elitists and were dismayed when people of the “middling sort” (tradesmen and craftsmen, oh my) got involved in politics. They thought government would be in better hands if those hands had the leisure time to devote to contemplation. Right.

Is there any support for the idea that the U.S. is not being controlled by the wealthy (Wall Street, the Koch brothers, etc.) for the benefit of the elites at this point? What did it take? A couple of hundred years to find out that our version of civilization is just like everyone else’s?

And what has me hammered flat at this point in my life is the sheer amount of pain and misery that has been authorized under the guise of civilization. One of the best estimates I have seen of the number of humans (Homo sapiens) indicates that about 107 billion of us have been born. Of that number maybe 100 billion have been around at the same time as “civilization” (civilization allowing for a vast expansion of the population … of slaves). The estimate that in the year 1800, 75% of all people were in some form of slavery, indicates the vast amount of coercion and oppression that has been created and is still being created under the mantle of civilization, mostly for the benefit of wealthy elites.

It is staggeringly heartbreaking to consider the families broken by slavery, the backs broken by “voluntary slavery” moving rocks the size of Volkswagens to make a pretty pile, the whippings, the diseases, the starvation, the sexual and physical rape, the forced breeding of humans like cattle … it is a well of sadness we should be drowning in. But if we were to succumb to this feeling, the propaganda machine of the elites would kick in to perk us up, I am sure. Sad workers aren’t as productive as happy ones.

Have you seen the “tax reform” plan of the Trump administration? Do you still doubt my analysis?

October 24, 2017

The Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short Lives of Hunter-Gatherers (Not)

I was reading a NY Time’s Science Newsletter highlighted piece on eroding shell mounds in Maine. Here are a couple of quotes:

Middens like this one line Maine’s tortured shoreline. ‘We know that there are over 2,000 shell heaps on the coast of Maine, said Dr. Kelley.

From about 2,200 to 800 years ago, Native Americans visited this site in late winter and spring. The inhabitants discarded the shells in heaps that grew year after year, century after century. ‘They were eating oysters like crazy and catching alewives,’ Dr. Spiess said, referring to a type of herring.”

This reminded me of California, where the shell mounds around San Francisco Bay are as numerous and truly huge, some of them make actual hills that go unnoticed because of wind-blown soil covering the top couple of feet (then it is shells, all of the way down).

The Pomo tribes and others had migratory patterns. They would move to one location, set up camp, and then eat up all of the local produce and then move on, returning in months or years to repeat the process. These locations were linked to the migratory pathways of prey, like deer, and by the seasonal abundance of fish and shellfish. This pattern prevailed for so long, as it did in Maine, that they used the same spot to discard the shells of the shellfish they harvested, to the extent that those mounds are truly immense.

Many people do not realize that when people became “civilized,” that is accustomed to living in cities, this was not exactly a boon for ordinary people. The wandering hunter-gatherer tribes had, I am sure, status orders in which some were treated better than others, but all benefited from a diet that was varied and plentiful. They were relatively free of disease, including tooth decay, and had considerable amounts of leisure time.

When “civilization” came to people, their bodies became less tall, less muscular, and more disease ridden. Some benefits, eh? They had to work longer hours and had less leisure time, if any. Their diets became very restricted, unhealthily so, and the crowding of people and food attracted vermin, rodents, and disease organisms. The concentration of wealth attracted robbers.

Thomas Hobbes’ quote (see the title) was meant to refer to primitive man but is more aptly applied to the new “civilized man.” All of the benefits of civilization accrued to a small cadre of elites. Over time the benefits have been spread somewhat, but the basic structures of civilization do not seem to have changed. Primitive Americans worked a few hours per day, now we work many (certainly more than our parents). They didn’t have healthcare, but neither do many of us and we have many, many more diseases than they did. The wealth created by the extra labor of the many still ends up in the pockets of the few, and the religious are still spouting gibberish to justify the behavior of the elites.

Too many of us think of civilization as this great boon to mankind. We do not look at the consequences. Civilized Europeans became Americans who thought very little of killing off the bulk of this continent’s original inhabitants, nor of enslaving millions of people, considering them as “subhuman” to avoid any moral qualms. All of these things were brought along as part of “civilization.”

It remains to be seen whether we can fashion some kind of civilization that brings the benefits to all without lining the pockets of the so-called elites. It certainly isn’t in either the GOP’s or DP’s political platforms. (It is hard to get someone to do something they are being paid to not do.)

Moving On Up …

I have been writing recently about the genesis of human “civilization.” The word civilization itself is derived from “cities,” the existence of which marks the beginning of civilization. It seems quite apparent that what we call “civilization” was created by elites for elites. The average Joe not only didn’t benefit from this “advance,” he ate less well, he worked harder, and he likely ended up a slave serving the interests of the wealthy elites.

My original thinking was that this was a larger scale manifestation of the consequences of physical prowess. My fantasy goes like this: when we were mostly members of wandering tribes of hunter-gathers, I suspect that there was some guy who was bigger, stronger, and braver than anyone else in a small troop (fewer than 25 extended family members). Because Mongo was the best hunter, he had a hand in doling out the fruits of the hunt, so he had power. He probably was responsible for defending the tribe against predators and the occasional raids from other tribes (looking for mates or …). Because of these actions, people deferred to Mongo (and if they didn’t he might smack them around a little). Mongo was the Alpha Male in a troop of great apes. Now the fly in the soup came in the form of not the Beta, Gamma, or Delta Males in the group, they were happy to form Mongo’s posse on hunts and benefit from his largess. The wild card in this was a low status male who resented not getting the prime cuts from the hunt or access to the best women as mates, but one who had cunning. At some point in time, a natural happening shocked the tribe: a flood, an earthquake, a lunar or solar eclipse, a huge lightning storm, a volcanic eruption, something alarming and the cunning Omega Male took a chance. Thinking he was in no immediate danger, he stood up to the burning mountain, or raging flood, or eclipse and spouted made up bullshit about how the gods were angry and that only he knew how to placate them. He followed this with mumble, mumble, mumble and the crisis soon ended (the eruption of the volcano subsided, the storm passed, the flood subsided, the eclipse burped up the sun or moon). A tribal shaman is born. He gets treated better, consulted by Mongo more often, gets better cuts of the food when it was divided, etc.

So, my imagination leads to the religious leader gravy training on the physical leader (general, king, chief, main hunter, whatever).

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the earliest cities were run by religious cliques, not “strongmen.” Large cities started forming 3500-3000 BCE, but the first mention of anyone whose title could be translated as “king,” didn’t happen until about 1700 BCE. Apparently Mongo was strong and capable but not all that smart. The clever shaman usurped his position at the top of the tribe. In those early large cities, you see, the chief warrior was subservient to the priestly class. This is born out by a story about Gilgamesh, one of the first Sumerian kings. (Seeking permission from the religious council to make war on a neighbor, the council though it too risky and told Gilgamesh to chill. Gilgamesh went out and riled up his warriors and went to war anyway. Gilgamesh might have been a king at this point but he hadn’t earned the Divine Rights Merit Badge and was seen as a minion of the religious elites.

So, I was wrong about the elite pyramid being topped by a strongman, instead it was the clever, cooperative religious cadre forming the core of the people benefiting from “civilization.” (I guess they had practiced the role for millennia and were just “movin’ on up…”.)

These cities rose and failed at a phenomenal rate. (The famous city-state of Ur-III, which had five kings listed in its records, lasted all of 100 years.) The inevitability woven into the standard narrative of: agriculture makes storable surplus of grain which makes cities possible: iPhones! is misleading at the very least.

In actuality these cities were very, very fragile. They were dependent on slave labor, often their populations were dependent on acquiring female slaves of child-bearing age (so many children and women died in childbirth that “replacement breeders” were vigorously sought).

With so many such processes there is a minimum size and a set of minimum conditions that result in a tipping point that goes on to some kind of stability.

What I am struck with is the easy comparison between the elite class in those days, 5000-5500 years ago and the modern Republican Party. The elites then needed cheap labor, so they coerced it. They created a system in which all of the surplus wealth ended up in their hands. They discouraged any collective action on the part of their coerced laborers. They rigorously controlled the reproduction of more citizens.

The GOP, in contrast, suppresses wages so that labor is cheap, it distorts the political system so that all of the wealth and power flows to the elites, it discourages collective action of laborers by disadvantaging unions, and it is obsessed with controlling the reproductive rights of women, and it seems they are subservient to a religious clique.

Oh, I guess that is not a contrast.

Has anything changed since the dawn of civilization?

October 17, 2017

The MOTB, Another Billionaire Sponsored Culture Abuse

In a review of the soon-to-open Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. a reviewer in The Guardian said “More unexpectedly, a display on the Bible’s influence around the world makes claims for links between science and the Bible and contains statues of Galileo Galilei, whose claim that the earth revolved around the sun was challenged by the church, Isaac Newton, a devoted student of the Bible, and George Washington Carver, who rose from slavery to become a scientist, botanist and inventor and regarded the Bible as a guide to the natural world. Likely to raise eyebrows, an information panel states: ‘Are the Bible and science mutually exclusive? There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview. The idea that the natural world is orderly springs from the Bible. As the biochemist and Nobel laureate Melvin Calvin said, the conviction that “the universe is governed by a single God … seems to be the historical foundation for modern science”.’”

Many modern Christian spin doctors also claim the Bible as the source of inspiration and knowledge for all of science … but (you were waiting for that but, weren’t you) … you won’t find mention of it in history of science classes. Once again, we must look into Christian history to find why this impression exists at all. There were two famous Christian spin doctors, possibly the most famous of all (although there were others), so famous they are referred to as Doctors of the Church (Spin Doctors of the Church?), Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas. The Church “fathers,” meaning the prominent politicians of the early church, knew that they had a handle on the theological end of the faith (although they fought wars over it for about 1500 years—yes, actual wars with millions being killed and dying from associated causes) but they didn’t have levers to control all of society. So, Augustine folded a great deal of Greek philosophy into Christianity for them, as one would fold whipped egg whites into a soufflé. Greek ideas of politics and economics and whatnot became Christian doctrine, if not supported even vaguely by scripture, then by “tradition.” (The Catholic Church is very big on “tradition” as it allows them to invent their own history and then claim it has always been done that way or it was passed down to them from disciples of Jesus, even though there is no independent corroboration such people even existed.) So, now Christians had support for their efforts to control politics and economics, etc. (Remember it is all about control fueled by greed for wealth and power.)

Thomas Aquinas became a Church Doctor predominantly by folding in science, mostly the science of Aristotle, which is why most of the science in the Bible is wrong. The influence of Aquinas on science was so strong that people who subscribed to his ideas were referred to as Thomists.

According to the Christian spin doctor Aquinas, while you live on this earth, you belong to a single natural order, and you must conduct yourself in accordance with its laws. The presence of the natural law in all men also meant that there must exist a community of all men. Aquinas should have patented Natural Law or trademarked it; we still have Supreme Court justices referring to “natural law” for Pete’s sake. Will someone please tell those people that the idea of natural law is spin, sheesh!)

The Thomists then developed a very complex set of explanations that underpinned what had by then become the orthodox definition of humanity. But their basic claim was that natural law was made accessible to all humans, no matter what their origins, by means of what they called “first precepts” that had been inscribed in the minds of all human beings—hard-wired, so to speak—by God at the creation.

These “first precepts” were not simple instincts, such as animals (and humans) possessed. They constituted what were called “innate ideas” or “innate senses.” They allowed humans to see the world God had created as it really was, which meant that they allowed the rational human animal to recognize God’s existence and then to distinguish between good and evil and to act accordingly.

Brilliantly, they went on to describe moral instincts the same way: the first precepts of the natural law, they thought, allowed you to know that killing, theft, rape, incest, the eating of human flesh, and so on were all unnatural. They could be summed up in the commandment “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” These same people, though, could not offer much guidance about all the myriad codes of conduct, the habits and customs of which all societies are composed. They did not tell you that modesty and the wearing of clothes was natural, as was offering hospitality to strangers. This was where reason came in. The rational mind, acting on the innate first precepts, could deduce what codes were natural and what were contrary to nature. The problem was that the further you traveled from the initial “innate” idea, the more specious the idea became. You could, therefore, only be certain that your particular deductions were correct if they coincided with those of your fellows. This “common persuasion,” as it was called, was your sole guarantee, not because the community must always be right, but because God had created all men’s minds alike. Ta da! As we now know, morals are human constructs created to mutual advantage through human interaction. Aquinas highjacks this real source of morals and co-opts it into his faith so that people who know the truth cannot wedge it between the faithful and their faith because they already have a built-in source for where morals come from. (These Christian spin doctors (at least of old, the moderns are lame in comparison), were very clever in making up stuff to please their sponsors and help them control us “farmer-types” for century after century.)

The same happened with the science of Aquinas; it was highjacked for Jesus. Unfortunately Aquinas didn’t have high quality science to highjack, but he did have a complaint culture, one in which “universities” were for example run by clerics, selling the company line every day of every academic term. (Ordinary people didn’t concern themselves with such weighty matters, they were too concerned where their next meal might come from.) It became a matter of common knowledge that all of nature was created by the Christian god and all physical laws were manifestations of the same god. So, it is no surprise that scientists like Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, George Washington Carver, and Melvin Calvin assumed that their god was behind it all, as that’s what the propaganda had been for hundreds of years prior. They have also since been proven wrong in that assumption, but that is okay, being wrong is part of science, we just make corrections and move on. It is a shame the same is not true of religion as this museum is telling the same lies that have been told for thousands of years now.

The statement on their placard “There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview” is a lie. There is no such broad agreement. In fact, if you laid out all of the science in the Bible, you couldn’t read as much as part of a page without bursting out laughing. The Earth is flat, supported on pillars, the stars are on the firmament (a dome over the flat Earth). The earth is the center of the universe and the Sun and other planets and all of the stars rotate around it. Rabbits chew their cud, like cows do. Serpents talk. Disease is caused by demons possessing the afflicted. Pigs can be stampeded by demons. Fig trees will die if cursed. People are resurrected from the dead. There is so much nonsense one is really hard pressed to find any scientific sense at all. The billionaire-funded Bible museum may know their “broad agreement” claim is a lie or is suffering from confirmation bias and is repeating someone else’s lie, but it is a lie.

At one point in time, the church was the fount of all true knowledge because they incorporated all they could find into their dogma. But when real science, begun about 400 years ago, started contradicting everything the Bible claims as a scientific truth, the church has excommunicated, imprisoned, or executed scientists for their contradictions, finally succumbing to the truth, leaving only a few pathetic fundamentalist Protestant sects fighting the Evolution War and Islam, being Islam, yearning for the seventh century. (Note: Excommunication in the mind of the church is a sentence to the Lake of Fire for ever and ever, amen. Its use was coercive, designed to get the miscreant back into the fold but if not, meh.)

And if you aren’t convinced, consider that during Gallileo’s heresy trial, the Vatican’s own astronomer had confirmed Galileo’s findings as being true, but as Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino stated in private: although he agreed with Galileo, if the rulings of the Church were to be refuted by direct observation on this issue—even if it was not, as he recognized, a matter of faith—they might be refuted on others, which were. (Gallileo, then, was just collateral damage, I guess.)

Note: Many of these insights on Gallileo, Augustine, and Aquinas came from Anthony Pagden’s The Enlightenment: and Why It Still Matters (Random House Publishing Group—Kindle Edition).

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Together, Coming Together, Things are Coming Together

My recent posts on greedy elites and education “reform,” led me to Bertrand Russell. (Don’t ask how. I read too much, understand too little, and make connections endlessly.) A book of Russell’s still worth reading is Free Thought and Official Propaganda, written I believe in 1922. Propaganda, the term, had just been invented and modern propaganda, to which Russell refers, was also recently born. Here are a few juicy tidbits:

“It must not be supposed that the officials in charge of education desire the young to become educated. On the contrary, their problem is to impart information without imparting intelligence. Education should have two objects: first, to give definite knowledge—reading and writing, languages and mathematics, and so on; secondly, to create those mental habits which will enable people to acquire knowledge and form sound judgments for themselves. The first of these we may call information, the second intelligence. The utility of information is admitted practically as well as theoretically; without a literate population a modern State is impossible. But the utility of intelligence is admitted only theoretically, not practically; it is not desired that ordinary people should think for themselves, because it is felt that people who think for themselves are awkward to manage and cause administrative difficulties. Only the guardians, in Plato’s language, are to think; the rest are to obey, or to follow leaders like a herd of sheep. This doctrine, often unconsciously, has survived the introduction of political democracy, and has radically vitiated all national systems of education.

Ah, Russell points out the current effort in education reform is to confine public education to depart only information, for the sole purpose of getting a job, but not to get citizens who think for themselves, because that undermines the urge to obey the elites and we just cannot have that. (Remember this is 1922.) He also says:

We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought. This is due primarily to the fact that the State claims a monopoly; but that is by no means the sole cause.”

Russell was concerned that the state, the “government,” as an instrument of the elite rather than the people, might follow totalitarian aims and reduce education to the “acquiring of job skills” or as Russell states, mere information. (The Republicans then current were not like the Republicans now or he would have been running around with his hair on fire.)

Bertrand Russell is also concerned about government by the big lie, fueled by big money.

“The art of propaganda, as practised by modern politicians and governments, is derived from the art of advertisement. The science of psychology owes a great deal to advertisers. In former days most psychologists would probably have thought that a man could not convince many people of the excellence of his own wares by merely stating emphatically that they were excellent. Experience shows, however, that they were mistaken in this. If I were to stand up once in a public place and state that I am the most modest man alive, I should be laughed at; but if I could raise enough money to make the same statement on all the busses and on hoardings along all the principal railway lines, people would presently become convinced that I had an abnormal shrinking from publicity.”

He “caps” these comments with “Propaganda, conducted by the means which advertisers have found successful, is now one of the recognized methods of government in all advanced countries, and is especially the method by which democratic opinion is created.” and “There are two quite different evils about propaganda as now practised. On the one hand, its appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument; on the other hand, it gives an unfair advantage to those who can obtain most publicity, whether through wealth or through power.

You can see that religion does not get off of Russell’s hook (its (propaganda’s) appeal is generally to irrational causes of belief rather than to serious argument). If these statements don’t describe the situation we are in currently, I don’t know what would. And, remember, he said these things almost 100 years ago.

The public school propaganda campaign has led people to believe the schools are failing (they aren’t. That teachers are failing to serve their students well (they aren’t). That poverty is not a barrier to accomplishment in school (it is). All of these lies were generated by propaganda machines with programs to sell.

Wake up people, before it is too late. The clarion call was sounded long ago. Awake! Awake!

October 16, 2017

The Political-Economic Elites

I made the point in a recent post (It All Is Starting to Come Together … and It Does Not Look Good, October 15, 2017) that civilization was created by elites coercing “citizens” into doing work that then supplied the elites with enough food and more. The methods of coercion were by means of physical force and through religious threats and promises. In our current world, the physical threats are less often delivered by thugs/warriors and more often delivered through politics, that is through rules, laws, and the threats of legal and police actions. For example, the rich think nothing of lowering their own tax burdens and shifting that burden onto the farmer class. What are we for, otherwise?

All of this comes from greed on the part of the elites. Greed causes the amassing of great wealth and then the wealth is used as a status symbol, even a symbol of cultural superiority. The old saw was that the rich were born on third base, thinking they hit a triple.

A classic example is available to us now in the form of our current federal Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Like all such secretaries, she was appointed by a rich and powerful person, and then confirmed by another set of rich and powerful persons (just barely, being confirmed in a “tie-breaker”).

You can find much of what you need to know from Mrs. DeVos’s Wikipedia page:

Elisabeth Dee DeVos (/dəˈvɒs/; née Prince; born January 8, 1958) is an American businesswoman, politician, and the 11th and current United States Secretary of Education.

Her credentials as a rich person are also evident:

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of the multi-level marketing company Amway, and is the daughter-in-law of Amway’s billionaire co-founder, Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA. Their father is Edgar Prince, founder of the Prince Corporation. In 2016, the DeVos family was listed by Forbes as the 88th richest family in America, with an estimated net worth of $5.4 billion.

Since, when describing her wealth they refer to her relatives, we suspect that it was acquired through inheritance and/or marriage, but there is a reference to her being a “businesswoman,” so maybe she has acquired some of her wealth through skill, so back to Wikipedia:

DeVos is chairwoman of the Windquest Group, a privately held operating group that invests in technology, manufacturing, and clean energy. DeVos and her husband founded it in 1989.

An investment group, not a real business, and with her rich husband … so, her wealth was not acquired through her own skill, but like all rich people of this ilk “her” wealth translates into an attitude of wanting to reshape the world to their liking, in this particular case, through education.

So, politics provides the physical force to coerce the “farmer” class into doing what the elites wish … still. I wonder about whether the religion coercion will be there, too. Ah … again according to Wikipedia:

DeVos in 2001 listed education activism and reform efforts as a means to “advance God’s Kingdom.” In an interview that year, she also said that “changing the way we approach … the system of education in the country … really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run.”

Apparently God’s Kingdom on Earth involves many, many serfs working frantically to make wealth for the already wealthy.

And the agenda being promoted by Secretary DeVos? It seems to be the defunding and/or destruction of our current public schools system, which despite the current massive negative propaganda campaign, is working better than ever (the corporate media won’t run a story counter to the narrative that the schools are failing) and replacing those schools with charter schools and educational vouchers. The public schools are being run by the, well, public, so are not really under the control of the elites, so, reform is necessary (Sarcasm alert!). The charter schools can be large profit-extraction businesses, even when run as a non-profit (by paying large management fees to corporations owned by the charter operators to supply “management” and through real estate scams, amongst others) and the vouchers can be used to funnel public funds to religious schools.

There seems to be this hesitance in this country to provide tax revenues to support religious schools. Apparently it has to do with some vague church-state separation principle. So, if the outright support of religious schools (to, you know, “advance God’s Kingdom”—I wonder if she has a particular god in mind, hmmm …) through the front door won’t fly now, then maybe funding them through the back door will work (it is not public money, it is just a voucher).

Also, it has been a stick in the craws of the rich for a long time that they send their children to private schools but still have to pay taxes to send the unwashed children to public schools. The fact that they can afford this without stint is irrelevant; it is the principle of the thing. School vouchers is a way to get the public to pay for their children’s private educations.

And, as good Christians, there is no limit to the lies they are willing to tell, as long as it advances their religious jihad. At least the Muslims had the decency to put this rule in writing for their adherents. Yes, it is allowed to lie to infidels in Islam (taqiyya) and “allowed” in religions is a euphemism for “recommended.”

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.