Class Warfare Blog

October 23, 2020

Yes, I am That Bright!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:18 pm

Many people have commented upon how bright I am and I thank them for their perspicacity, for recognizing that. But how brilliant am I? If you will look at the photo below and look at the Earth. Do you notice the very brightest spot down there at the tip of Lake Michigan?

That’s me.

October 16, 2020

They Will Have to Pry the Money Out of My Cold, Dead Hands

Filed under: Economics,History,Politics,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:01 pm
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You may remember when Charlton Heston was president of the National Rifle Association (NRA). He is famous for delivering, quite theatrically, the old saw “They will have to pry my gun out of my cold, dead hands.” Basically he was stating that he would defend, even violently, his right to “bear arms.” But physical violence is on the decline and now it has been replaced by economic violence. The rich have acquired more wealth (as a percentage) than they possessed in the previous greatest episodes of U.S. history. The Robber Barons had less, the Gilded Age tycoons had less.

A major book by Walter Scheidel, The Great Leveler, claims that there are but four causes of reversals of this trend: mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues. These are the only thing that have reversed the “normal” trend of wealth accumulation by the wealthy, by the simple expedient of repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich and, well, the rich themselves.

The 20th century, with two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the immense communist revolution created the greatest redistribution of wealth (and power) ever seen. Unfortunately, all of the wealth redistribution that occurred after WW2 has been reversed at this point and the “normal” state of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer has been reinstated.

What is at work here is greed, pure and simple.

Before you start to believe that there is some “invisible hand” at work here, there is not. What is at work here is greed, pure and simple. The dynamics at play here are these: the rich are few and the rest of us are many. This gives the rich a large advantage in organization. The power of the rich’s money is leveraged by buying politicians. I am sure that you have seen the studies that show that the rich get the attention of politicians to a very large degree, despite they being few and the poor get zero attention from politicians despite they being many. Apparently votes do not matter and money does. This is because money buys votes and the system is biased toward the elites. The two party, winner take all, system requires that the rich only need to influence, aka bribe, the two leading candidates for any office. Both current candidates for President, for example, are both acceptable to the rich as they have been vetted and supplied with suitable leashes. (Those of you who think that Mr. Trump’s wealth insulates him from their greed need to examine his tax returns. Mr. Trump only appears to be wealthy. There are lots of people, as Chris Rock says, who are rich, but few who are wealthy. Basically, star athletes and star performers, are rich . . . the people who sign their paychecks are wealthy.

The only way to solve this problem is for the many to tax the few: that is tax the rich so that they do not accumulate distorting amounts of wealth. The problem, of course, is this is a political solution, and they are few and we are many. Of the four actual forces that affect the wealthy the only that is even mildly attractive is “transformative revolutions.” Maybe we can learn from South Africa and do this bloodlessly, with a “forgive them they know not what they have done” attitude. But I suspect they know full well what they are doing, certainly the Koch Brothers did, so this will be a hard sell at best. Maybe lynching the uber-wealthy is the way to go, but that isn’t exactly non-violent.

October 11, 2020

Homo Sapiens Slackers

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:15 pm

As most of you know “Homo sapiens” means “wise man.” Our particular species, that of modern humans, is Homo sapiens sapiens (we are “wise, wise men”?). But maybe it should be Homo sapiens slacker.

Most people now argue that the modern human species, aka “us,” dates back at least 200,000 years and maybe 300,000 years. But the “cognitive explosion” didn’t happen until 50-100,000 years ago . . . some say 80,000 years but I don’t know how specific one can be here.

This “event” was a rapid expansion of cognitive skills in human beings.

So, if we were first on earth 300,000 years ago and we started acting like modern humans 80,000 years ago, what were we doing for that first 220,000 years or so? Slacking, that’s what.

It seems probable that there was a mutation that led to our brains being able to share information better between regions of specialized function and this, in turn, led to a great leap in cognition.

Prior to the point we were more animalistic. After that point we really started showing unique mental properties. These properties involved the development of a suite of mental inferences that supported enhanced communication and enhanced societies. In my humble opinion, it also allowed religion.

Prior to this cognitive transformation, people were limited to what was real, what one could point at and touch and taste, that is “sense.” Once we developed more imaginative functions, we could predict farther into the future and also we could live with imagined causes that today make no sense to us: trees and brooks that we sentient, mountains that watched over us. Ancestral spirits that guided us or punished us.

Many of these inference systems, e.g. agency detection, have no fact-checking function built in to them. So religious ideas tapped into these functions and “felt” right to many and so were acceptable, at least memorable. Then if those concepts were reinforced, they became more and more real.

So, “religion (it is not a monolithic block) developed along with these cognitive abilities. Scientific thinking, using different inference systems, with quite different motivations, is not at all as natural as the religious thinking. It is a little easier to see this as the difference between learning a playground game and learning math. The one is easy, the other hard . . . for everybody.

I still wonder about that roughly 220,000 year period in which our ancestors, having a lifespan of 25-30 years at best, were hunting and gathering and . . . slacking evolutionarily. It was like Waiting for Godot but waiting for a mutation instead.

As a long ago commercial meme had it “you don’t mess with Mother Nature,” but Mother Nature does mess with us. It is interesting that one of our major political parties yearns for the good old days, say 80,000 years ago when religion reigned unchallenged.

All Politics is Local . . . All Religion is Local

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:05 pm

You are probably aware of the saying “all politics is local.” While people may blah, blah, blah about this or that national policy, all political positions are shaped by the locality of the person who creates it. States rights seems to be localized in the American South, for example.

Similarly, I contend that all religion is local and I am not referring to the fact that one’s religion is determined by where one was born more than any other factor, although that is a consequence of my claim.

Whenever atheists and theists converse, which seems to happen only on the Internet, atheists are constantly bewildered by how the religious can believe such claptrap. (I am far from immune from this disease.) But, in actuality, the religious almost never think about the philosophical or historical fine points of their religion. Most Christians haven’t even read their scriptures carefully, even those who believe that the Bible is the literal word of their god. (This is stunning to me, even though I know why they haven’t done so.)

What the religious do think about are local things. (This is why church politics is so vicious.) They think about praying for sick friends who are in hospital. They think about their stint in the church’s thrift shop or food bank. They think about preparing to lead a session of Sunday School or filling in for an ill song leader or . . . or . . . .

The illogic of their beliefs are rarely brought up and almost never dwelt upon. Things that provide a “feel good” feeling are what draws attention and effort.

I, and I think this is also true for the vast majority of atheists, have no problem with ordinary Christians. Most are good people doing the best they can. (I don’t know enough about ordinary Muslims or Buddhists to claim the same for them.) It is the proselytizers, the apologists, and the Christian nationalists who are pushing their beliefs onto others who I have a bone to pick with. Those who want Biblical Creationism taught in public schools, those who want so-called “Christian morality” in the form of the ten commandments incorporated into our laws, those who want the USA to be declared a Christian nation, these are who I oppose and most strongly.

The locally religious  are usually harmless, except when they support the efforts of the people mentioned above. (Surveys of “ordinary” Muslims show they support Sharia law and the death penalty for blasphemy. Those taking the law into their own hands to perform executions of blasphemers and killing women in “Honor Killings,” receive much support from ordinary Muslims for their actions. Would not things be different if ordinary believers felt differently? The same is true for ordinary Christians.)

Oh, and in addition to the “All . . . is local” rules, there is also the dictum of “Follow the money” which applies both to politics and religion.

October 6, 2020

Everchanging Evangelicals

Filed under: History,Politics,Religion,Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 11:53 am

If you were to inform American Evangelicals from the past about what their brethren are doing now, they would be appalled.

During the debate over the adoption of the new Constitution, guess who supported church-state separation? Evangelicals.

During the abolistion period prior to and after the civil war, who was anti-racism, and anti-slavery . . . vigorously? Evangelicals.

What’s that rumbling sound, you ask? That stems from those evangelicals rolling over in their graves at the Chrsitian nationalist, racist Evangelicals of our age.

August 23, 2020

Quoting the Amazing Barry Goldberg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 12:11 pm

I find the inestimable Barry Goldberg most often on the Quora website. Here is yet another question he has answered (in part):

Q: Have you ever considered that atheism is as certain-minded as theism is and that the more reasonable logical and scientifically minded outlook is agnosticism?

As the saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And it really doesn’t get much more extraordinary than the claim that there exists some sort of intelligent being composed of “pure spirit” (whatever the heck that means) which exists “outside of time and space” (whatever the heck that means) while somehow still being capable of interacting with the material world and which purportedly cares deeply about every individual member of one particular species living on one particular world orbiting one particular star among billions in one particular galaxy among countless trillions of similar galaxies in this entire vast universe.

I mean, this claim is so extraordinary that it’s hard to imagine what sort of evidence could ever possibly back it up. Even if a 100-foot tall glowing figure appeared in the middle of Times Square and caused the entire city to disappear and reappear with the blink of an eye, that would just be evidence that there existed a very powerful being who can do amazing things. It still wouldn’t be evidence that this being created the universe or that it somehow exists “outside of time and space” or is completely omnipotent and omniscient, etc. In fact, given just how extraordinary the claim is regarding any sort of god actually worshiped by anybody, the only logical and science minded approach is to reject it outright as completely ridiculous and obviously just one more in a very long line of supernatural creatures that humans have invented over the years.

Barry Goldberg is author of Common Sense Atheism, which is a collection of his writings and well worth the read, if for nothing else, his incredible Maude and Eugene posters (examples below).

August 13, 2020

I’ll See Your White Privilege and Raise You One White Catholic Privilege

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 1:25 pm

Oh dear, if one ever needed to argue why the religions needed to stay out of politics, I give you Providence Rhode Island Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin who lamented on Twitter recently “Biden-Harris. First time in awhile that the Democratic ticket hasn’t had a Catholic on it. Sad.”

The not-so-good bishop got roasted with words, pictures of Biden meeting the Pope, etc. and even one “I suppose when your definition of Catholic is enabling child abuse then yeah, Joe doesn’t qualify like you do.” This was an allusion to Bishop Thomas Tobin being the auxiliary bishop of Pittsburgh, one of six Pennsylvania dioceses covered in a scathing grand jury report on the cover-up by Catholic Church officials in Pennsylvania of decades of child abuse by more than 300 priests. He has said the abuses suffered during his time in that position were outside of his purview. (Purview as a Christian?)

But let’s walk back his political statement here and unpack it, shall we? (Oh, we shall.) In the U.S. about 20% of Americans are Catholic. I will just use that as a rough figure as I don’t know whether that number includes children, etc.

Statistically then, in five presidential elections, of the ten Democratic candidates, two would be expected to be Catholics. If they were in different cycles, then that would make two of the cycles with a Catholic candidate and three without. (If they were both in the same cycle, then it would be one with and four without.)

So, where does our bishop get the expectation that there would be many in a row? (I wonder if he was told there would be no math on Twitter?) Hmm. Does he think the presidential elections should be like the Supreme Court, packed with Catholics? (Currently, six of the nine justices are Catholic, if you count Neil Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic and has attended an Episcopal Church. The other three are Jewish. Oh, Jews account for under 2% of the U.S. population, so they should account for 2% of the Supreme Court if it were truly representative, yet they account for 33% of the Supreme Court.)

Another instance of Christian persecution, I gather.

June 17, 2020

Atheism Kills—Sometimes a Blurb Is Enough

Once again I encounter a book that needs no reading. This book addresses the question “Why are you Atheists so militant/unhappy/angry?”

Here’s the blurb:
In Atheism Kills, Barak Lurie exposes the horrors of a world without God. Contrary to the mantra we’ve heard time and time again that religion is responsible for more deaths than anything else, it is in fact the absence of God which has killed–in obscene numbers. Ever since atheism first assumed government control in the French Revolution, it has done nothing but kill.

Atheism has killed through its many deputies: progressivism, eugenics, fascism, and communism. Lurie shows that it was the godlessness in each of these ideologies that killed hundreds of millions.

But atheism doesn’t just kill lives. It kills purpose, free will, beauty, compassion, a sense of the past and future, creativity, and freedom itself. Atheism offers only the horrors of chaos and totalitarianism.

The world misplaces its focus on Radical Islam as the greatest threat to civilization. As horrible as it is, it is doing nothing and having no sense of self which are the true enemies. It was our will to fight and sense of mission that overcame fascism and communism. We must have these to keep Radical Islam at bay, too.

This is why we must resist the growth of atheism. It was God that gave us our freedom. It was God who gave our sense of purpose that created civilization. Take those away, and there is nothing to fight for. In this way, Lurie shows that the lack of belief in God is our greatest danger. How does he know? Because like a hurricane, godlessness has only known how to destroy everything in its path. It has never created.

Like there will always be fires, there will always be enemies that seek to destroy our civilization. But if we don’t have fire stations with crew, and protocol in each city to deal with fires, those fires will consume us. Likewise, how we prepare ourselves to deal with horrific ideologies will be what saves us.

That preparation can only come with our embrace of the centrality of God.

Foreword written by Dennis Prager.

So, how does that make you feel, you filthy atheists?

And, to be complete I include two Amazon Reviews; one a ♦♦♦♦♦ review and the other a ♦ review.

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent review of the case for Christianity

Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2018

Verified Purchase

This Stanford University trained lawyer tells why he left atheism and became a Christian. He realizes that evolutionism is the doorway to atheism, and gives many reasons why Darwinism is not, and can not, be true. He also shows the harm of the former consensus science of eugenics and the harm this worldview has done. He gives many examples where Christians at great personal risk did what was moral even if it would have been to their benefit to do the opposite. He also covers Progressivism and how its goal was not to look in the past for wisdom, nor to the heavens, but rather to the self only. Then Lurie documents the harm that this idea, which sounds good and true, has done. He covers a lot of ground but covers the high points to make his case. I read the negative reviews before writing my review, and can conclude that their main goal is to convince readers not to buy this book. Read it for yourself and then judge. This is one of the best books I have read in a while. It is a breezy read, full of good illustrations to make his points.

1.0 out of 5 stars A boat load of nonsense

Reviewed in the United States on July 27, 2018

Verified Purchase

I got halfway through this disaster of a book before giving up finding anything reasonable. He lumps radical Muslims in with atheists–ridiculous. Radical Islam is the true form of Islam, same “God” and characters as Old Testament, just a different false messiah. The author thinks that only Christians and Jews (small part of world population) have morality. He thinks Christianity stopped slavery in 19th century—laughable. If Lincoln hadn’t gotten back into politics, slavery would have continued in this country into the 20th century, just like it did in some backward Muslim countries. The southern slave owners in this country were Christian and churches enabled the disgusting dehumanizing practice, for God’s sake!!!

Chapter 2 has a section “Argument For Atheism” which is brilliant (the only intelligent part of book). Then a section “Argument Against Atheism” that is idiotic, claiming that free will means doing whatever you want, you can ignore consequences, morality is absent if you’re a rational person. Is this a grade-school essay with no knowledge of retaliation by peers or civil authority? Besides basic human morality that is inborn, adults know that there are consequences like beatings, shooting, stabbing, civil penalties and jail time–THAT is the deterrent to indiscriminate violence, not fear of divine retribution or morality learned from some religious scam. As Marina Diamandis lyrics say in “Savages”– “I’m not afraid of God, I am afraid of Man”.

But, the book is supposed to prove that atheism kills. His proof apparently is the same old junk science–dictators and blood thirsty monsters like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Ho, Castro, Che, etc. They were born without morals (even if raised Catholic–Hitler, Castro, Che), but they had armies of men and citizens protecting them that were not atheists, I guarantee most were Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. The problem is that belief in some ancient book like the Torah/Bible/Koran that portrays scenarios that nobody can defend and passages so ambiguous as to be interpreted a thousand different ways doesn’t make you moral any more than not believing makes you immoral, or turn you into a Hitler.

What the author is trying to say, and takes forever making his point is: morality is impossible without Christianity or Judaism. That is just so juvenile and shallow and wrong that it doesn’t deserve commenting on. Then, he blames atheism for everything the immoral power mad leaders do–juvenile, shallow, idiotic.

Christians destroyed unknown millions of natives in the Western hemisphere from 15th century on.
Christians enslaved millions of Africans and clergy supported them both in the North and South USA.
Spanish and American Christians killed unknown thousands of Filipinos in order to “civilize” them.
Did they do those atrocities because God told them to or allowed them to? Some may have, but most practiced slavery (or killed and robbed natives) for earthy pleasure and treasure, apparently morality is subjective.
Did “God” punish the Europeans or the slave owners? I see no evidence of divine intervention in all of human history, unless you count “acts of God” as divine intervention. An ‘act of God’ (hurricane, tornado, flood, fire, etc.) destroys lives and churches in the path no matter their belief system; atheist, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, whatever.
Did Hitler destroy only religious people? He destroyed ANYBODY who got in his way, but he singled out complete Jewish civilian families for gas chambers because he was raised Catholic and Catholics blamed Jews for the worlds ills. Plus, Christians and Muslims assisted (or at least stood aside, mostly) the German SS in their genocide.

The author glosses over the hundreds of thousands lives lost over seven centuries of Inquisitions over the world. He ignores untold hundreds of thousands of lives destroyed in England, Ireland, Scotland, and Europe over centuries of feuds between Catholics and Protestants.

This author tries to argue that the Bible shouldn’t have been intimidating to the populace since there are no intimidating characters in it–so completely ridiculous. A ‘God’ that punishes “sins”, a made-up scenario of an abusive afterlife, and church leaders that will burn to death infidels and heretics—THAT was intimidation. Until the printing press and general education of the masses, Christians and Jews ruled the Western world. Were the Middle Ages theocracies Utopian? NOT!! Ask Joan of Arc, or Mary Queen of Scots, or King Henry VIII’s 2nd wife Anne Boleyn, or….

As Richard Dawkins says “with or without religion, good people will do good, bad people will do bad, it takes religion to make good people do bad”. THAT is pure genius. Read more Dawkins, people. Not mish-mash nonsense like this book.

Atheism doesn’t kill, people kill for many reasons, some kill because their ‘God’ insists (Islam), or allows (Judaism) it.

And for a complete takedown of this book (a very long takedown) see http://trollingwithlogic.com/godless-wolf/2017/12/21/critical-analysis-of-atheism-kills-by-barak-lurie/

June 8, 2020

WordPress Does it Again!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 8:14 am

If you have been wondering why the font size on this site is so small … so have I. In the recent “improvements” in the text editor this change occurred. I went into the Appearance panel and tried to select another font, but the choices in font size seem to be “tiny” and “huge” even though they are labeled “Normal” and “Large.” I do hope they get this fixed soon.

June 7, 2020

Bending Rules with Trump

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Ruis @ 9:03 am

Consider the photo below:

This is Donald Trump and his posse during the current kerfuffle/round of protests regarding obvious-to-everyone-but-Donald-Trump police brutality. The gentleman on the right is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley.

Now, ordinary military members are severely restricted as to appearing at political events in uniform, the Joint Chiefs of Staff being excepted. For example:

“Military members, for example, may attend political meetings or rallies only as spectators and not in uniform. They’re not permitted to make public political speeches, serve in any official capacity in partisan groups or participate in partisan political campaigns or conventions.”

“They also are barred from engaging in any political activities while in uniform.”

“There are, however, exceptions to this, including but not limited to Senior Executive Service.”

And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is definitely a “Senior Executive Service” position.

But why is Gen. Milley in fatigues? Shouldn’t he appear in dress uniform as almost all of the other Chiefs do? Did Mr. Trump order him to wear fatigues to imply military support for his crackdown on the “lawless protesters?” Was he implying being in a war zone? Or did Mr. Milley wear fatigues to separate himself from the other “suits” in Mr. Trump’s posse. In a game of “Which of these is not like the others?” or “Where’s Waldo/Milley?” he sticks out like a sore thumb. Gen. Milley became a pariah in Trumpland when he opposed the President’s “plan” to call up the military to restore “law and order.” (Milley is said to have said “I am not doing that. That’s for law enforcement.”) So, it seems maybe the latter idea is more likely.

I don’t expect subtle symbolism from any of this crowd, but I wonder why a member of the Joint Chiefs would choose to wear such a uniform, especially the chairman of the group.  It smacks of a CEO wearing overalls in protest.

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