Uncommon Sense

February 7, 2021

Capitalism is Civilization 2.0

Filed under: Culture,Economics,History,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 11:23 am
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Note This may be a bit repetitious but I keep reading about it and it keeps shocking me. Steve

If you have followed this blog for long, you have read my take on civilization, namely that I am not a fan of civilization per se (See my post “Not a Fan of Civilization?”). The history of the first civilizations is often portrayed as “humans discovered agriculture and grew so much food they could afford kings and priests and the like.” (These descriptions are starting to sound like whitewashed Bible stories generated to proselytize children.) Actually, in almost every case, agriculture—large scale agriculture—was driven by elites or elite wannabes. Agricultural work was far more strenuous than hunting and gathering and people didn’t flock to the fields begging to be agricultural workers. The archeological record shows that people got physically smaller (shorter, less heavy) and more disease ridden because of agriculture.

Since cajoling people rarely worked to get them to toil in the fields, force was employed, and a set of new elites was created, full-time guards/soldiers. (Imagine volunteer firefighters being offered full-time jobs, with benefits. Such would have been the case for those who would arm themselves to defend the village from predators and marauders.) These “guards” made sure the field workers didn’t run off and also participated in slave raids in nearby villages. Yes, civilization was built upon widespread slavery, much like the American South.

As I have mentioned before, when capitalism and industrialization came along, “workers” didn’t show up and get in cues to be hired. Most English “peasants” valued their freedom and didn’t bite on various offers to “get a job.”

So, capitalists did what they normally do, they used governmental power to force people into their factories. They used every dirty trick in the book to get people off of the land and onto factory floors: laws were passed, taxes were levied, etc. You know the routine.

These are the same people who, today, laud how self-regulating markets are, that markets can organize our economies to be “Yuge, really yuge.” Except then they don’t and the bayonets come out.

As I stated in that post mentioned above: “From foragers being forced off land they’ve lived on for centuries because they cannot produce deeds of ownership, to eighteenth-century Scottish Highlanders who preferred to tend their sheep, to today’s college graduates saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt before they’ve landed their first job, nonparticipation in the market economy has consistently and effectively been eliminated as a viable option. To those who suggest we should “Love it or leave it,” I’d suggest that neither option is—or has ever been—a realistic possibility. It’s as if people are being forced into casinos at gunpoint, where they lose everything, generation after generation, and then they’re told they’ve got a gambling problem.”

May 15, 2018

The Basic Problem with Our Religions

Filed under: Culture,Education,Religion — Steve Ruis @ 11:09 am
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A philosopher named Owen Flanagan quoted someone as saying that “A good human life is lived at the intersection of the true, the good, and the beautiful.” It seems that we all come equipped to determine what is true, what is good, and what is beautiful as part of our basic makeup, so if the aphorism is true, we all have the capability of living a good life. But if you ask a Christian apologist what is the true, what is the good, and what is the beautiful, they will respond that God/Jesus is the truth, only He is truly good, and He and His love are the beautiful. Humans, on the other hand, are depraved, sinful, and unworthy, and that none of those three (truth, good, beauty) come from anywhere but their god. Humans can be saved from their sinfulness, but only through faith in their god or at least obey the gods directives as interpreted by their gods servants.

I am reminded of a phenomenon of the 1970’s and 1980’s called Erhard Seminars Training or EST. This was a self-improvement program designed to improve the lives of the participants. The beginning of the course was described as being brutal as the participants were verbally abused into a state of pliable acceptance, then they were built up into different people, presumably better. Old school military training was similar, but the initial stages were more physical. “Recruits” were abused verbally and physically to make them more pliable for training into better soldiers (any number of movies have highlighted these processes—Private Benjamin, Full Metal Jacket, An Officer and a Gentleman, etc.).

The religions in this country favor depicting potential believers as being unworthy, sinful, even abominable, before offering the “cure.” They describe the world around us as being filled with temptations and dangers, for which they have, of course, solutions. They refer to their followers as docile animals, as their “flock,” as “lambs and sheep,” and as children, with priests referring to their parishioners as their children (My Son, My Daughter, My Child) and accept the title of “Father,” all of which disempowers the parishioners and puts them into the pliable state of a child, ready for indoctrination.

As a teacher I was taught that my primary goal was to provide a “safe learning environment” for my students, so they could learn free of coercion, bullying, sarcasm, and humiliation. I taught college kids, adults, so was that requirement because all of my students had already been safely religiously indoctrinated as children and it was now not okay to coerce them? Why does this “safe, learning environment” requirement not apply to religions, which terrorize young children with images of their loved ones burning in Hell. (Please don’t tell me this doesn’t happen, I have spoken to too many people who have confessed their nightmares regarding their grandparents or other loved ones roasting in fire.)

Why do not we use, as a theme for educating our children the simple phrase “a good human life is lived at the intersection of the true, the good, and the beautiful” and operate as if we believed that?

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