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.

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November 14, 2017

It Is a Life and Death Matter

Sam Harris was discussing his book “Waking Up” with a prelate and I heard him refer to: “the fundamental mystery that life is impermanent.”

Uh, that’s a mystery? (Wait a minute, I gotta go look up the definition of mystery … okay, I am back; I was right, a mystery is “something not understood or beyond understanding” in this context.)

What’s mysterious about it, life being limited, that is? Everything around us that lives, dies. Every example we have ever seen of a life form shows this pattern: birth—life—death. We may not understand exactly why this is so but we do understand that this is so.

To fight against this is to essentially say that one does not want the rules of the universe to apply to them or their loved ones and a few paying sponsors, whatever. Think about it. Life has been on this planet for almost four billion years. In all of that time, everything that has lived has had this pattern. It is as normal and natural as anything can be.

Apparently Dr. Harris’s meditation practice hasn’t led him to acceptance yet. Or if it led him to a belief that life is an illusion, I hope he reports out on what is there rather than the illusion.

We are born, we live (more or less well) and we die. The after life, I suppose, is just like the before life. Do you remember the before life? No? Then I do not suppose you will remember the after life, either. At least it will be quiet and peaceful.

November 12, 2017

God, Jesus, and Vietnam

The NY Times is running a history of the Vietnam War series, highlighting the experiences of individuals. In a recent piece a gentleman told of how he went to Vietnam with his faith and came home without it (God, Jesus, and Vietnam).

The story is quite poignant and I recommend it to you, but the author’s main point was that one couldn’t go out and sin for six days and then ask God for forgiveness on the seventh and then go out and repeat that cycle again and again, something had to give. (There was more, but that was the crux of the matter.)

What struck me as just as fascinating were the comments. Here are a couple:

… there is in fact a Judgment Day, I have no doubt that this man will get off the hook of his own conscience and that Christ will intercede for him.

So, this gentleman is convinced that there will be a judgment day and Jesus will “intercede for him.” Intercede with whom? Christians who are trinitarians (the bulk  of them, actually) seem to facilely switch between “Jesus is God” and “Jesus is the Son of God” states, often it seems when there is bad shit happening that they don’t want Jesus to get the blame for. So, Jesus will apparently intercede with this poor slob who lost his faith with the Judge on Judgment Day. And who is the Judge you ask? Of course, it is Jesus. Why is it that the Christians who are oh, so sure, of what will happen because scripture, never seem to know what it is?

A second commenter included this as part:

But knowing the Lord is the incommensurable good: no trouble, no loss can be compared to the good of knowing him. Furthermore, we will be with him forever.

So for this gentleman, his god is so good, no thing, no body compares with him. Let’s look at the “Good God’s” track record. According to the Christian time line. the entire universe was created and the first man in a matter of a few days. After a few more days woman is created and after a few more, they are banished from the Garden of Eden and cursed, along with all of their children … forever (circa 4004 BCE).

Then. their god decides he has made a mistake want wants to wipe the slate clean, and so about 1550 years later, he creates a big flood and kills off almost all of the animals on the planet (I used to say land animals, but the volume of water involved is so great, that if it were fresh water (no reason for it not to be), it would have changed the salinity of seawater drastically, right where all of the oceanic life forms were, so basically all animals were killed, including tens of millions of men, women, and children along with the deer, zebras, koalas, and dolphins.

From the eight surviving humans, a new crop of humans was grown, this time under more (better?) guidance from Yahweh (it is hard to tell). A little under 2500 years later, Jesus comes, dies, and saves us all. So, apparently it wasn’t going so well with the second crop in that it took massive divine intervention to fix the problems.

So, where is this “incommensurable good” demonstrated? The history, according to the Christians, shows a bumbling god who can’t get it right, who makes mistakes, piled one atop another. Again, Christians seem to be making it up as they go.

The fact that this soldier’s religious faith put him in a quandary in which the only way out was to reject his faith is quite telling. That his religious leaders were supporting him on a mission that made no sense to anyone, that involved atrocious behavior being required under the penalty of one’s life being ruined (court martial, dishonorable discharge, conscientious objector status all ruined lives) but was okay with god, shows that the army had chaplains as part of the secular and religious control mechanism entrapping these poor soldiers.

I used to be puzzled about the Garden of Eden stories. A key question I had was why did god punish Adam and Eve for making a decision that couldn’t be made correctly as they had no knowledge of good and evil (that was what the fruit gave to them). It makes sense now, now that I see religion as it truly is; it was not a decision that Adam and Eve were to make, they were to obey, just obey, and the price of disobedience was the wreck of the entire human species. The message is “obey or suffer.” Is there no better statement of the true motivation behind that religion?

It is all there in the Bible. Yahweh’s point over and over is “obey me, properly, or else.” And for the sniveling sort who say, “but that is the Old Testament god, Jesus is different,” these folks seem to forget that their faith, almost always, says that the Old and New Testament gods are one and the same … and even if they were not, Jesus had Hell invented on his watch (Hell is not in the Old Testament). Obey or burn in Hell is a New Testament twist to the Old Testament threat.

 

 

November 9, 2017

Step by Step, Inch by Inch, We Get Closer to Seeing What is True

I read the following quote in one of my favorite blogs, Religion Dispatches, today:

“Friedrich Nietzsche argued (I think it was in Ecco Homo, but don’t count on it as my Nietzsche readings were fifty years ago. Steve) that theological claims are actually expressions of ressentiment—envious hatred toward those we believe have oppressed us. He thought people created ultimate value systems, involving good and evil and heaven and hell, in order to put their enemies in their place. It’s a form of “imaginary revenge,” a self-consolation in the face of inevitable human limitations like powerlessness and death.”

Ah, just one step short. People may have invented the idea of settling scores in the afterlife, but the elites are the one’s that not only allowed it to be spread, but encouraged it (if they didn’t come up with the idea themselves and planted it in the first place). They saw that if people really believed that “their oppressors” would truly be punished in this fictitious afterlife, that it would inhibit the oppressed from trying to rush it along and do something while they were alive. So, it doesn’t matter why it was created in the first place, but why it survived.

I guarantee you, if the elites didn’t think it was useful, it would not still be part of “scripture.”

Why is Judaism Considered a “Major” Religion?

Filed under: Religion — Steve Ruis @ 12:11 pm
Tags: , , , ,

When people in the U.S. are asked to name the “major” religions, they usually say “Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.” These are the so-called “Abrahamic Religions.” But why is Judaism considered to be on this list. Christianity claims 33% of the world’s population (They are No. 1, they are No. 1!), Islam has 21%, Judaism has … 0.2% and for comparison the Bahá’í Faith represents around 0.1%. According to Wikipedia, ahead of Judaism in popularity (in order) are:
Spiritism
Sikhism
African traditional religions
Ethnic religions
Buddhism
Chinese traditional religions
Hinduism
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/atheist
Islam, and
Christianity.

The relationship of Judaism to the rest of the world is of the same proportion as is Spiritualism to Catholicism within Christianity in the U.S. Actually, in the U.S., the Don’t Knows” in the Pew Poll register at three times the above concentration. (Although, to be fair, in the U.S. and just the U.S. the Jews outnumber the “Don’t Knows” three to one.)

I was going to include a histogram to show how the number of Judaism adherents stack up against the numbers of Christians and Muslims, but the column representing the Jews wouldn’t show up unless I made the graph ridiculously tall, they are that far back in adherents.

So, why do people consider Judaism a “major” religion when it is drawing very minor, basically fringe, numbers? Is it because of its role as a stepping stone to Christianity in the mind’s of Christians? Is it because the wacko right-wing thinks that “Jews run the world?” Is it because being a Jew is hard, but being a Christian is easy and we want to reward their zeal?

Anybody got an answer to this one?

November 7, 2017

Common Actions Required from the Faithful and Abject Subjects

Since the secular and religious elites have been in cahoots for so very long, they have borrowed the trappings of each other’s rules for use in their own. This happened in spades in the later fourth and fifth centuries in the Christian church. The Bishops started acting as if they were little emperors, for example. Consider the Pope as another (wears a crown, sits on a throne, dresses sumptuously and lives in gold-plated rooms, etc.).

Here are a number of shared actions imposed upon the non-elites by religious and secular elites.

Bowed Heads/Upper Bodies
When you take your eyes off of someone, you are sending quite a large number of signals. One is that you are not a threat to the person you are bowing to. Two, you are submitting to the power of the other. By taking your eyes off of the other, you cannot defend yourself from an attack by the other. This is common behavior amongst dogs, for example.
Quite a number of these signals are received by our own bodies. A bowed head is a submissive posture that tells our body we are submitting. This puts the “fight or flight” response on hold, lowers your physical strength (true!), reduces your ability to see clearly (and not because of the limit to your viewing), and quite a few other things.

So, the elites, both secular and religious, expect lesser beings to bow their heads, a lot. This reinforces their greater status and control over you. And you think you are being honored by being allowed into the august presence of someone who requires a bow!

Kowtowing
I am sure you have seen pictures of Muslims at prayer. The posture is one in which the person praying is kneeling and then moves their head down to the floor. Not even Jackie Chan could launch an attack from this position. Basically, by adopting this position, you are admitting that whoever put you in this position has power over you. (Islam means submit, remember.) Submitting to a god in this posture reinforces the power that god has over you.

This same posture is the equivalent of the kowtow (kou tau or koutou). The kowtow has been spun as a sign of reverence and respect but it originated as a forced posture of submission. In some cases, supplicants to elite powers are expected to “walk” in on their knees, otherwise known as crawling, like a child who cannot yet walk does.

Speaking from “Raised Daises”
In early churches and meeting halls everyone spoke (everyone who was allowed to speak, that is) from the same level. But as time moved on, those in the more exalted positions started speaking from raised platforms, often from very large chairs (called thrones, even St. Peter had one … right). The elites occupying the higher platforms are emphasizing the higher status they have in society and lower status the supplicants down on the floor have. They really do look down upon us. (Think about what they phrase means and how it is used.)

These raised platforms are often spun as existing so the people in the back can see better. But in sports stadia to make sure the people in the back can see better, they raise the seats of those spectators. The farther back you go, the higher you are elevated. This apparently didn’t occur to the elites.

In throne rooms with various steps leading up to the throne, rules are in place as to who may stand on which step, again reinforcing their status as to who are “above” them and who are “beneath” them. (Consider the phrase “doing such a thing is beneath me” if you care to see how woven into our culture this is.)

Referring to elites by titles
The first kings weren’t called “kings,” other words were used. There are a bewildering number of different titles that have been created: duke, count, earl, viscount, mandrake, prince, emperor, etc. In the religious world, this practice was copied: Bishop, deacon, Holy Father, Pope, Cardinal, Reverend, etc. All of these terms were created by the elites for the elites. The words the elites used for us were unworthy scum, commoner, worm, serf, slave, the “flock,” etc. None of these titles existed before a certain point, they had to be created … and guess who created them?

Insisting upon the use of a title reinforces their standing as being above yours. As more non-elites grew prosperous, they started insisting on titles of their own, master, sir, madam, which were words used otherwise but turned into titles. (And tug your forelock when you address me, scum!)

In religious elites, this is no different. Is there any other reason for you to address a priest as “father” and he to address you as “my son” other than to put him into a parental position of authority over a child (you)? Let’s see, Your Eminence, Hochheit, Highness, Your Grace, Your Majesty, even Mr. President (so humble compared to “Your Majesty”), ah … there are so many titles to establish they are someone special and you are not.

Tithing and Taxing
The secular elites invented taxation as a way to support “civilization.” They impounded food and clothing and labor to meet their needs, not the needs of the people. This was done first by religious threat or promise and later by religious threat or promise and physical force. In the Bible, have you ever wondered why “tax collectors” were so despised? This is because these people were representatives of tax farmers. There was no temple bureaucracy that actually went to people’s homes and collected taxes. The right to collect taxes in various precincts was auctioned to the highest bidder, who had to be rich, of course, to be able to afford this. Then the winner of the auction sent thugs out to get his money back, plus a healthy profit. Taxes were collected over a threat of violence and no proof was given of taxes collected, nor was there a schedule or date in which the tax man/goon was to come by. Often they came into your home and took whatever they thought had any value. IRS agents are pikers, very polite pikers, compared to these “tax farmers.”

The religious elites used the same procedures but found ways to encourage “donations” with less force. They tied “tithes” to religious holidays as well as traditional gifts being tied also. The religious calendar in the Middle Ages had more “holy days” than non-holy days, such was their greed.

If you spend even just a little effort, you will find many more commonalities between and among the controlling practices of the religious and secular elites.

 

 

 

 

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 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.)

October 17, 2017

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!

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