Friday, August 3, 2012

Facing Unpleasant Facts

I mentioned Orwell the other day, and Ducky cautioned me, “Have to watch it with Orwell. He doesn't go for the simple answer. He was no Libertarian.”

This is what’s wrong with America. Everybody is supposed to stay in their own camp and only listen to their own orthodoxy. A libertarian reading a socialist? Careful! It’s also telling. The shabby arguments of the left reveal that they rarely crawl out of their dark, cramped ideological box.

I am an Orwell fan, having read many of his essays and a few of his lesser-known works.  Of course I know he cannot be properly categorized as a libertarian.  He was a man of the left who believed in using the power of the state for the good of humankind, but being a lover of liberty, he also looked upon government with a jaundiced eye.

Facing it, always facing it!

Orwell's greatest gift, perhaps even greater than his pen, was his power of observation and clear-eyed analysis.  Christopher Hitchens writes...
‘Facing it — ’ as Captain MacWhirr says so memorably in Joseph Conrad’s ‘Typhoon’,‘always facing it — that’s the way to get through.’
‘I knew,’ said Orwell in 1946 about his early youth, ‘that I had a facility with words and a power of facing unpleasant facts.’ Not the ability to face them, you notice, but ‘a power of facing’. It’s oddly well put.
A commissar who realizes that his five-year plan is off-target and that the people detest him or laugh at him may be said, in a base manner, to be confronting an unpleasant fact. So, for that matter, may a priest with ‘doubts’. The reaction of such people to unpleasant facts is rarely self-critical; they do not have the ‘power of facing’. Their confrontation with the fact takes the form of an evasion; the re-action to the unpleasant discovery is a re-doubling of efforts to overcome the obvious.

The ‘unpleasant facts’ that Orwell faced were usually the ones that put his own position or preference to the test.  (Christopher Hitchens - Why Orwell Matters)
George Orwell did not write from an ideological position and he was blessedly free of dogma. If anything, he could be called a humanist.  A man of the left, he went to Spain to fight the fascists and came away disgusted with communists.
The whole barracks was in the state of filth and chaos to which the militia reduced every building they occupied and which seems to be one of the by-products of revolution. In every corner you came upon piles of smashed furniture, broken saddles, brass cavalry-helmets, empty sabre-scabbards, and decaying food. There was frightful wastage of food, especially bread. (Homage to Catalonia)
Being caught in a communist purge of the organization he belonged to sealed the deal for him. He went from being a fascist-fighting combat veteran to a hunted criminal, in danger of being jailed and shot by the people he thought he had been fighting for. Despite this, he stated that he held no animus towards Spain or Spaniards.  Indeed, what has struck so many upon reading Homage to Catalonia is his emotional detachment from it all.

For an even greater example of writing with emotional detachment, to the point of displaying sympathy for your tormentors, see his memoir of boarding school life, Such, Such Were The Joys.

He forever remained a socialist, but spent much time examining and plucking the motes from his own eyes. Although perhaps not consciously so, he also helped his larger society do the same. He could write painful observations about the poor and the downtrodden, but he did it without the sentimentality of a Steinbeck, and he did not fetishize and coddle them as nanny-state progressives do today.

He faced unpleasant facts and adjusted his views accordingly. Have you ever changed your mind or abandoned a cherished view after facing unpleasant facts?  

58 comments:

Rational Nation USA said...

Those most in need of changing their mind(s) after confronting unpleasant data points are those of the extreme ideological right and the extend ideological left.

Unfortunately for them, and of course society in general, they are the least likely to do so.

Washington stands as a grim example of this during our era of discontent.

Great post Silver.

Ducky's here said...

Yet you are absolutely unable to face the one critical fact that markets fail and are not a total panacea.

Finntann said...

Yes Ducky, markets do fail.

Socialism fails, and communism fails more often.

When your car breaks down you don't go out and buy a horse.

Cheers!

Always On Watch said...

Have you ever changed your mind or abandoned a cherished view after facing unpleasant facts?

I have -- about two major issues that were life-altering for me: race discrimination and Islam.

Bunkerville said...

Unfortunatly, most choose not to face unpleasant facts and prefer denial. Much more pleasant.

FreeThinke said...

Kurt,

You reported that Orwell remained a socialist throughout his life, yet praise him for having the moral integrity to change his views after squarely looking unpleasant truths in the eye.

I have always understood Nineteen-Eighty-Four to be the most eloquent indictment and condemnation of Marxism and all its vile permutations that ever has, ever could or ever will be written. Yet, Orwell "remained a socialist" throughout his life."

How curious!

What was it about that ENORMOUS unpleasant truth he, apparently never could face?

Could it have been its purported benevolence? Doubly odd, if so since he proved conclusively the fallaciousness of that much vaunted assertion.

Unlike you, have NOT read his essays -- only the two vitally important works on which his fame rests -- Animal Farm and Nineteen-Eighty-Four.

Both are a veritable ENCYCLOPEDIA of UNPLEASANT TRUTHS about human nature and the governments and myriad other forms of gross injustice and hideous abuse that nature tends to devise.

I can honestly say I have NEVER changed my mind about any of the bedrock PRINCIPLES on which I feel very strongly human life should be predicated and sustained. Neither have I changed my mind about the many wonderful cultural talismans that have enriched my life, and given endless inspiration to the way I approach challenges and enjoy rewards.

Two things I HAVE changed my mind about after much prayer, contemplation and observation:

1. Orthodox Christianity (After a most careful and thorough perusal and a realization of the terribly harmful effects it has had on countless lives I reject the OT -- and Augustinian and Calvinistic Theology -- almost-but-not-quite in their entirety. I do see great value in the Decalogue, but that's about it)

2. Abraham Lincoln. Like everyone else i was taught to see him as a secular saint. After studying the impact of the Civil War on the lives of those who suffered through it -- and those 635,000 men who did not survive it -- I realized he had been our first tyrant and one of the great mass murders in history.

3. I changed my mind too about Igor Stravinsky whose music I was barely able to tolerate, until -- after repeated listening, because "I knew it was supposed to be good" -- I began to hear with his ears and see with his eyes, which opened whole new worlds of enjoyment to me.

Orwell made possibly the greatest contribution to Modern Thought yet penned. His work is ever fascinating and provocative. Never "fun" but absolutely ENTHRALLING.

~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

The REMARK of the DECADE:


Yes Ducky, markets do fail.

Socialism fails, and communism fails more often.

When your car breaks down you don't go out and buy a horse.

WOO HOO! Let's give three cheers for FINNTANN!

~ FT

Thersites said...

Lets face FACTS. Socialism is the IDEAL and BEST system/form of government during WAR time and the absolute WORST form of government in PEACE time.

It isn't "good" or "bad" ALL of the time. For EVERY time, there is a season... (Ecclesiastes 3).

Silverfiddle said...

FT: Orwell's famous novels were anti-totalitarian.

Ducky: I've explained "market failure" to you more than once, but you maintain a studious obtuseness.

If a president gives a car company billions and they build overpriced little battery-powered crapboxes that no one wants, and and they don't sell, is that a market failure?

Answer that one, Ronin, and then our conversation can continue.

Fredd said...

I read Animal Farm in 8th grade (mandatory reading), and nothing else by Orwell. Nope, never read 1984, sorry.

Based on my understanding of Animal Farm, I would never have called ol' George a 'man of the left.' Ever. But what do I know.

PS: Calling Ducky 'obtuse' is much like calling Shaq 'tall,' Michael Moore 'fat,' or Superman 'strong.'

Duh.

BB-Idaho said...

Orwell influenced Hitchens to some
extent and their outlooks were similar.

FreeThinke said...

That's what Marxism (Socialism) IS in ESSENCE.

It is TOTALITARIAN.

Never mind lofty, airy, idealistic THEORY and WISHFUL THINKING it is only PRACTICE that matters.

RESULTS are ALL that COUNT.

In actual FACT Orwell was the most eloquent detractor of a THEORY he continued to embrace.

I call that odd.

BUT, we all have our blind spots, don't we?

~ FreeThinke

Ducky's here said...

And while we are "facing it" it's worth observing that the right wing after 9/11 couldn't cede power to the government fast enough.

Just sat their while the police were militarized and all many of surveillance was implemented. But they cheered when it was used against #occupy.

I guess they see themselves as relatively safe from any potential shit storm. They'll toe the line whether it's passed down by church or state. These cowards can play from either side.

You diaper pissers couldn't give it up fast enough and you whine about totalitarianism. Go heal thyselves.

Jack Camwell said...

FT,

Orwell took great pains to distinguish the difference between democratic socialism and totalitarianism.

Socialism is *not* a form of totalitarianism, as socialism refers to an economic system and totalitarianism refers to a specific form of rule.

Even Marxism/Communism is not a form of totalitarianism if you go off of the definition of the terms. I could write a long drawn out research paper about it, but I did enough of that in college (on this particular topic, actually) to not want to do that here.

Like Silver, I've read quite a bit of Orwell's essays. In fact, the "-well" in "Camwell" comes from George Orwell (Cam - well is a combination of my two favorite authors: Albert CAMus and George OrWELL).

Orwell remained a democratic socialist because he believed that it was the best form of government for human beings. He envisioned a society that contained all the characteristics of freedom: freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and freedom from poverty.

He was not kidding himself or ignoring facts. He was astute enough to observe the difference between totalitarianism and his own vision for the common good.

Ducky,

Markets fail, yes. But why do markets fail? Because of people. "The Market," is not some sentient entity. The market fails because people fail. People always fail.

So the way I see it is that if we know people fail, then why would we trust the government--which is also made up of people--to not fail?

Steve said...

"The shabby arguments of the right reveal that they rarely crawl out of their dark, cramped ideological box."

You are part of the problem,not the solution. You just described yourself.

Ducky's here said...

Well Jack, I think the issue can be sifted down to what can be done about totalitarianism and is America better or worse for ceding power "peacefully"

Orwell or Huxley? Is it inevitable?

Silverfiddle said...

Jack: Brilliant points all the way through.

I enjoy completely agreeing with you on something!

Orwell believed in a cooperative, democratic socialist society. I don't, but I can understand where he's coming from.

To give a slight not to FT, I must invoke Hayek, whom I also admire, as say that Orwell's belief in Socialism could be called naive, since at some point, some group of people will hijack it and start putting mandatory programs in place. Eventually, when more and more people don't want to go along, the "democratic socialist" government must turn tyrannical, and that't the path to totalitarianism.

But, in Orwell's defense, the same could happen in a non-socialist country as well.

Jack Camwell said...

Ducky,

I'd say that we're headed down the Huxley path. No matter how you look at it Ducky, we're ceding power to someone, whether it's private citizens or government officials.

We can't trust the government to do damn near anything right. I mean look at Operation Fast and Furious. That was a fiasco, a terrible idea from the start, and wouldn't ya know it completely tanked.

Are those really the people you want to be in control of complex things like the markets?

Silver,
I would agree that on the outside looking it his belief in socialism seemed naive, but I don't think Orwell was kidding himself. I think there's a big difference between hopeless hope (Camus) and naivety, and from Orwell's writings, I interpreted a sense of hopeless hope.

It's hard to imagine that after experiencing everything he did that Orwell would have had delusions about the potential for socialism's success.

Maybe he was naive, but I got the sense that above all else he was realistic, as you've shown in your article. It's hard to be naive when you stare the facts in the face.

Ducky's here said...

A recent quote from David Frum on the flap from the extreme right (pretty much all that's left) over Obama's "you didn't build this" sound bite. Not that the idea that huge success is often not close to being entirely merit based is new.
I'm sure Orwell's conception of Democratic socialism understood this. Too bad we don't realize the disappearance of democratic socialism has been a 20th and 21st century tragedy.
-------


Obama's second idea is that success is to a great extent random, a matter of luck. You think you succeeded because you were smart or hard-working? Listen—a lot of smart and hard-working people don't succeed.

This second idea is not original to the president, obviously. In fact, Friedrich Hayek often made a similar point, suggesting that a big part of capitalism's PR problems originated in the fact that markets did not distribute their rewards according to ordinary ideas of moral deservingness. Yet it's also true that we badly want to believe that success is earned and is deserved. A universe that distributes its rewards randomly is a frightening place—and even worse is the suspicion that success is often seized precisely by the undeserving...

Thersites said...

Gee, duckman, in WARtime (after 9/11) people couldn't cede their "power" to the government fast enough...

Like I said, it's the BEST system in WARtime... but the absolute WORST in peacetime.

Thersites said...

The duck is multicultural but monotemporal. PEACEtime, WARtime... everything must be "adaptable" to suit BOTH conditions (hence presidential "WAR Powers)...

...but then a state of perpetual conflict is a recipe for governmental "abuse" of said "powers".

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky,
You just said it so much better than the President did.

Had he said it the way you just did, he would not be on the receiving end of a very justifiable firestorm.

Hayek's point, which he makes in Constitution of Liberty, is an economic one. It it, he also explains the complex connectedness that makes our markets work. No entity can understand and control it all, and yes, we are all beneficiaries of the accomplishments of others, which provides a strong rationale for personal liberty.

dmarks said...

Jack said; "Socialism is *not* a form of totalitarianism, as socialism refers to an economic system and totalitarianism refers to a specific form of rule."

It is a subset of totalitarianism, really. Socialism is merely the economic portion of it.

FreeThinke said...

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a Nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host
Who took the flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory,

As he -- defeated -- dying --
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of Triumph break --
Agonized and clear.


~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

conservativesonfire said...

"But, in Orwell's defense, the same could happen in a non-socialist country as well."

It is happening.

FreeThinke said...

For all you academically or legalistically-minded nitpickers who love to entertain lots of notions that obscure simple concepts and make them sound abstruse and far more complex than they really are, I repeat:

Marxism (Socialism) IS –– in ESSENCE ––TOTALITARIAN.

Never mind lofty, airy, idealistic THEORY and WISHFUL THINKING it is only PRACTICE that matters.

RESULTS are ALL that COUNT.


In actual FACT Orwell was the most eloquent detractor of a THEORY he continued to embrace. If Hayek thought him naive, I have to agree with Hayek. What interests me is how such a wise and brilliant person COULD remain naive in the face of all the horror and misery Marxian Dialectics and Cultural Marxism have wrought.

Academic and legalistic obscurantism are practices designed primarily to aggrandize the practitioner and intimidate those who question or challenge prevalent orthodoxies.

In less polite parlance that means academicians are bullshit artists.

~ FreeThinke

Rational Nation USA said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rational Nation USA said...

@Free Thinker who said... "That's what Marxism (Socialism) IS in ESSENCE.

It is TOTALITARIAN."

Actually Marx himself was NOT a advocate of totalitarian government or totalitarianism in in any form. You (we) can thank Lenin, Stalin, and their supporters for the totalitarianism "ideal." They bastardized and perverted Marx in ways that no doubt has been causing Marx to turn over in his grave ever since, well if that were possible.

In reality Marx was a economist in the vein of Adam Smith, and were he to have been alive during Henry Ford's era he would have been pleased with Ford's efficiency of the mass production line as well as his understanding he had to produce cars his factory workers could afford to buy to be successful.

It is not Marx's theory that we in the free world who value liberty need to fear. Rather it is those who have taken his economic theory and morphed them into morbid state sponsored statism and totalitarianism.

The United States remains largely under educated in the economic theory(s) of Karl Marx as well as who he was as a person. No doubt in large part because of the efforts by the oligarchs as well as the financial industry (Banker's).

Steve said...

Not to mention the misinformation given to millions about what is Marxism (and other ideologies) when Republiscums call what Obama is doing Marxism, Socialism, Communism.

Jersey McJones said...

"Have you ever changed your mind or abandoned a cherished view after facing unpleasant facts?"

When I was young, 20-21, I came to realize that much of what I believed, politically, was really just a projection of my own selfish interests. I was white, handsome, naturally smart, healthy, well-groomed, had all the advantages of being raised by good, educated, married parents.

From then I transformed from a sort of libertarian into what you guys would call a liberal or a progressive or a socialist. I came to realize that we are truly products of the greater society, of luck.

JMJ

FreeThinke said...

Hi, Les,

I was not talking about Marx, himself. He doesn't really matter. I was talking about MARXISM. If Marx is spinning in his grave over what has been made of his possibly-well-intentioned economic theories, imagine what Jesus Christ has been doing for the past two-thousand-odd years over what has been made of HIS.

I can only repeat: RESULTS are ALL that COUNT.

The road to Hell is paved with good INTENTIONS.

The Enlightenment (aka The Age of Reason) spawned figures such as John Locke, Isaac Newton, Emerich de Vattel, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Lavoisier, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington and led among other things to the formation and development of the United States, which had been a huge success, until Marxian dialectics began to have an impact.

Marian Dialectics, however, benign their intentions may have been in theory (something I tend to doubt by the way) have led to The Russian Revolution, the overthrow of Chiang Kai Shek, and the establishment of Red China under Chairman Mao, the ascendancy of Labor in Britain, the establishment of The New Deal, the Great Society, the degradation and pending dissolution of American strength, prestige and sovereignty, the establishment of North Korea, Ho Chi Minh of North Vietnam, the killing fields of Cambodia, the ruin that is Cuba under Castro, and the pathos, poverty and political instability that characterizes most of Central and South America.

I can’t see why anyone would want to say anything good about the theories of Karl Marx or his theories when their impact has been nearly 100% pernicious.

~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

Sorry! I meant MARXIAN not MARIAN dialectics, of course.

Not to insult anyone, but I really do think all this academic quibbling and nit picking along with the insistence on a need for the acquisition of much useless knowledge is just so much mental masturbation.

One may acquire much wisdom and practical knowledge without being overburdened by too many details.

When we look at an oil painting it should be the PICTURE that s interests us not an accurate count of the number of brushstrokes it took to produce the painting -- or a chemical analysis of the colors used on the canvas -- or the intimate details of the artist's sex life -- or what he was accustomed to eating for breakfast, or whether he beat his wife, etc.

~ FreeThinke

Finntann said...

@And while we are "facing it" it's worth observing that the right wing after 9/11 couldn't cede power to the government fast enough... You diaper pissers couldn't give it up fast enough and you whine about totalitarianism. Go heal thyselves.

Okay Ducky, I'm going to have to call you on this broad generalization. Who?

Certainly not I, or SF, or Jack, or Viburnum, or AOW... who among the regular posters here do you think is an advocate of the authoritarian or totalitarian, dare I say, progressive state?

Ducky's here said...

You don't overtly support it.

You just sit on your hands while citizen participation withers.

Now who is "you"? Certainly not Jack. SF punches up a good deal of the time.

AOW is hobbled by her rather dire attitude towards Muslims.

Simply by being Libertarians you have granted economic totalitarianism to the oligarchy and once you do that you either have enough sense to back off or you let the purchase political domination also.


z, Fred, any retired Marine and Farmer will give it up in a New York minute because they see themselves as the anointed who will not be effected.

Freethinker needs to get off the bong for a bit before anyone can really tell.

Jack Camwell said...

FT,

So the so-called socialist European governments of today are totalitarian?

Even if results are the only thing that counts, socialism still does not = totalitarianism. It's not even an off-shoot of totalitarianism, because socialism existed before totalitarian government.

A totalitarian government can actually have free enterprise, because totalitarian governments don't necessarily give a shit about controlling economics. Take Nazi Germany for example. There was still private-owned business during the Nazi reign (I realize Nazi is short for National Socialist). The government only seized control of the industries that Hitler deemed vital to his war-time success.

Hitler had no intention of redistributing wealth or anything like that. His government was as far from socialist as one could get. The Nazis weren't really socialists, but they were definitely totalitarians.

Totalitarian refers to the derivation and maintenance of power. For example, a totalitarian's power is derived from his own ability to force his will upon the people, and he maintains his power through fear. A president's power is derived from the people as he is duly elected, and he maintains his power by convincing others to vote for him.

The whole damn point of 1984 and Animal Farm was to show the distinction between Democratic Socialism and totalitarianism.

Finntann said...

Jack, I think you're confusing Authoritarian and Totalitarian. A totalitarian state, like the Third Reich attempts to control virtually all aspects of social life including economy, education, art, science, morals, etc. All things the Third Reich attempted to some extent. Hitler did regard economics to be of secondary importance, which just goes to show that there are no "pure" systems.

But you are correct, socialism doesn't necessarily equal totalitarianism as illustrated by the social democracies of Europe.

On could also theoretically have a Totalitarian Democracy in which the will of the people is inviolable. Which is an interesting concept, given we have democratic governments dictating whether or not you can have salt on the table or a 32oz drink.

Cheers!

Finntann said...

@Jack: He envisioned a society that contained all the characteristics of freedom: freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and freedom from poverty.

Poverty is a very subjective word. Do poor people in America live in poverty? Or are you talking a grass hut in the rain forest on $2 a day poverty, as defined by World Bank?

Or perhaps you are referring to article 25 of the UDHR “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

Historically, America has been defined by negative rights, rights based on restraint of government, the Social Democracies have enshrined positive rights, and look where it has gotten them; Ireland, Greece, Spain, Italy, France, Netherlands, Portugal, Ireland, Finland,

Freedom from poverty is an admirable goal, but a positive right, fulfilled only by taking from others. How do you provide one with that freedom without restricting the freedoms of others? Or in other words, how would you pay for it?

Cheers!

FreeThinke said...

Thank you, Finntann. Young Jack -- like so many, many others -- is the victim of too much "education," which is really INDOCTRINATION that encourages ACCEPTANCE of Socialism as a benign force for good.

Jack is very intelligent and obviously passionate, but his "education" has deprived him of an opportunity to develop a greater store of wisdom. [Knowledge should never be confused with wisdom, though the two are not mutually exclusive.]

I know you and I rarely-if-ever-agree, but whether you think so or not, you have eloquently supported ideas I subscribe to heartily -- and you've done it better than I have, though God knows I've tried.

As an old person, I have little patience left for playing games of one-upsmanship where "I know more facts than you do" becomes the point of the game, instead of working together to share knowledge and insights in an honest effort to find a better understanding of TRUTH.

I've written dozens and dozens of statements saying the greatest enemy humanity faces is inordinate Love of Power and Control.

It doesn't matter whether its Ecclesiastical Power, Royal Power, Aristocratic Power, Demagogic Power, Fascist, Communist or Socialist Dictatorship -- ALL of it boils down to the SAME God-damned EVIL thing every time:

The INDIVIDUAL is STIFLED, RESTRICTED, GROUND UNDER HEEL, EXPLOITED, ABUSED, DRAINED DRY and then CAST on the SCRAP HEAP.

Let's not quibble over terminology. Let's at least try to attack the BASIS of the problem not get all tripped up in our undies over what names it is proper to use in labelling our enemies. We have better things to do with our time.

"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root."

"Men will lie on their backs, talking about the fall of man, and never make [the slightest] effort to get up."


~ Thoreau (1817-1862)

FreeThinke said...

Thersites, by the way, has made an excellent point about the need for dictatorial power in war time.

He too, however, has used "socialism," as I used it, -- as a synonym for dictatorship, which is not a strictly correct usage.

Marxian policies seem inevitably to LEAD to dictatorship, because Marxism runs totally contrary to human nature which is inherently competitive and yearns to be free of constraint. Because of that Marxian policies will ALWAYS have to be ENFORCED at the POINT of a GUN.

However, the policies, in and of themselves APPEAR on the SURFACE to be motivated by altruism and benevolence. (Ha ha ha!)

I firmly believe, however, considering Karl Marx's peculiar ethnic and religious background, that the TRUE underlying motive for the birth of the evil brainchild we call Communism was a deep and abiding hatred for CHRISTIANITY and a virulent desire to find a viable method for undermining and destroying it.

Those who seek the power to dominate, push others around and bend them to the will of the would-be tyrant HATE Jesus Christ, because HE was all about LIBERATING the INDIVIDUAL SPIRIT of each human being thus rendering Believers impervious to evert form of tyranny devised by Man. A true believer actually can face excruciating torture and ferocious, brutal forms of execution with equanimity.

That the institutional Church COMPLETELY obscured and misrepresented the true meaning of the Gospels and, herself, became as ruthless, barbaric, despotic and oppressive as any pre-Christian Roman Emperor does nothing to mar the perfection of Christ's message.

~ FreeThinke

FreeThinke said...

" ... Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely -- FOR MY SAKE ..."

The power those thougts gives to a believer is extraordinary. Kings, warlords, tax-collectors, executioners and persecutors quail before -- which is WHY they keep trying SO HARD to EXTERMINATE it.

~ FT

Rational Nation USA said...

http://rationalnationusa.blogspot.com/2012/08/oy-vey-mr-romney.html

Off topic. Late night thoughts for whatever they may be worth.

Finntann said...

RNUSA... they don't want to know what he paid in taxes, they want to know what he made in income, so they can paint him as out of touch with the American people. As if they're weren't poor people completely out of touch with reality too.

Cheers!

Rational Nation USA said...

@ Finntann... You may read my response at RN USA. In a nutshell EVERYBODY knows the dude is a multimillionaire. So what...

Z said...

FT, talk about MARXISTS, My sis has friends who just got back from England...the woman said she didn't what's up there but every paper she read in England talked about how the Olympics Opening Ceremonies were "So Marxist!" I am stunned. THat idiotic homage to the NHS stuff didn't go over 'a treat' as they say over there AT ALL.
Odd we don't hear the truth about Europe here, huh?
Ever paper she read hated the Opening Ceremonies.
amazing..

beamish said...

I'm more a fan of Huxley than Orwell.

We won't be dragged into serfdom by a police state. We'll be drugged into it.

beamish said...

Huxley was a prophet. Orwell was a fiction writer.

Joe Conservative said...

I agree with beamish... but thanks for the Orwell essay link. He's written some really good stuff!

Thersites said...

He too, however, has used "socialism," as I used it, -- as a synonym for dictatorship, which is not a strictly correct usage.

How so? Whenever Rome was threatened, they elected a "dictator" with power to direct/ overule the two consuls. When the "threat" was eliminated, Cincinnatus returned to his farm...

In WWII the British (Orwell included) huddled in bomb shelters... only when the blitz was lifted, they KEPT the NHS. THAT was their big mistake. They should have gone back to their Paradise of the Bachelors... (and Tartarus of Maids).

Thersites said...

...and yet they wonder why, in the industrialized nations, the birth rates fall...

Thersites said...

Jonah's in the belly of the leviathan/whale...

Thersites said...

The duck likes to imagine a world without natural "checks" and/or "limitations" on human activity *such as those currently present under capitalism*... what an unnatural desire. It's almost metaphysical. ;)

Jack Camwell said...

@FT: No, I don't accept socialism. I'm a capitalist through and through. What I don't like, however, is the mischaracterization of things, because that clouds the debate and ultimately Truth.

I'll be the first person to say that Marxism almost inevitably leads to totalitarian rule because, as you say, the love of power is very rarely-if-ever trumped by anything else.

My education has served me just fine. Rather than listen to the demogogues and the pseudo-intellectuals (if I may borrow that word from Silver), I form my own opinions. Sometimes my opinions match others, sometimes people think I'm a kook.

And this is not about one-upmanship. I merely threw in my "credentials" (I'm using the term very loosely here) to let you know that I'm not just making shit up as I go along. I get the sneaking suspicion that a LOT of people on internet forums actually just make shit up without having done a shred of real research and thought.

@Fintann: Totalitarian regimes generally consist of an autocrat, or a ruling party headed by an autocrat. And what I described, obtaining power through force and maintaining it through fear, is totalitarian and not authoritarian.

The difference between the two is that authoritarians generally rule through the force of law, concrete law. It seeks to control people's behavior by telling them what to do at all times with the law being the mouthpiece. Everyone knows the law and can see it, so everyone has a concrete idea of how they're supposed to behave. Authoritarians seek a very specific behavioral pattern from the people.

However, totalitarians are different in that the law actually means nothing to them. There might be laws on the books, but it's all completely arbitrary. The totalitarian keeps the people guessing, makes them uncertain as to what will get them killed or sent to the gulags. The law changes at the whim of the autocrat, because the autocrat wants people to be confused.

Totalitarian governments don't seek to control people's behavior, they seek to dominate their minds. Control is only the first stage, because control means that you have to actually put forth an effort to keep things the way you want. Domination of the mind means that they no longer have to actively control anything, because the people have been made passive. Because of the arbitrary nature of punishment, the people control THEMSELVES, because they never know whether or not their actions will get them shot.

The main source I draw on for this is Hannah Arendt's 3 part series "The Origins of Totalitarianism." She actually experienced totalitarian government first-hand, so I consider her to be a pretty credible source.

Finntann said...

While admittedly, we are arguing over shades of gray and it really comes down to ideology, the best definitions of the two forms that I've seen is:

An authoritarian regime is a system where power is concentrated in the hands of a non-elected or pseudo-elected elite/bureaucracy acting discretionary and with no or little regards for rule of law or individual rights of any kind. In an authoritarian regime, ideology is not a main driving force of society (even if it is present), and while freedom is severely curtailed, some limited arenas of expression typically survive. Examples of authoritarian regimes: Tunisia, Egypt, Russia, Kazakhstan, Burma...

A totalitarian regime is a system where power and society are subsumed to an ideology. The state tries to control and regulate all the actions (and thoughts) of its citizens in accordance to that ideology, eliminating anybody who is against it. The power of the state over its citizens becomes total, as does the power of ideology. Examples of totalitarian regimes: USSR (between the 1920s and the early 1980s, but especially in the 1930s and 1940s, with communism as their main ideology), Nazi Germany (following fascism and national-socialism), Italy in the 1920s and 1930s (following fascism), North Korea (with juche communism as their main ideology)

Cheers!

Rational Nation USA said...

Philosophy: Who Needs It? As Ayn Rand's book of the same name asks.

This thread, if nothing else supports that having and maintaining a rational philosophy as a guide to ones life and affairs is indeed of the utmost importance.

FreeThinke said...

Different shades of BLACK, Finntann.

All of it is BLACK.

Black as proverbial pitch.

~ FT

Steve said...

This is RN's rational philosophy as written by him in his comment section:

"RN-USA: "American Jews are the offspring of the pacifists that willing were led to the gas chambers in Hitlers Holocaust."

Rational? For a Nazi lover it's rational.

jez said...

"Have you ever changed your mind or abandoned a cherished view after facing unpleasant facts?"

Yes, christianity.

FreeThinke said...

Jesus is ready to forgive you, anytime, Jez. All you need to do is turn to Him, and repent.