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Murder Is Not an Anomaly in War

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Posted on Mar 19, 2012
Illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

(Page 3)

Steele had come to understand the reality of his work, a reality that stripped away the self-righteous, high-octane gloss. When he was in Sarajevo he was “in a place called Sniper’s Alley” and “filmed a girl there who had been hit in the neck by a sniper’s bullet,” he wrote. “I filmed her in the ambulance, and only after she was dead, I suddenly understood that the last thing she had seen was the reflection of the lens of the camera I was holding in front of her. This wiped me out. I grabbed the camera, and started running down Sniper’s Alley, filming at knee level the Bosnians running from place to place.”

A year after the end of the war in Sarajevo, I sat with Bosnian friends who had suffered horribly. A young woman, Ljiljana, had lost her father, a Serb, who refused to join the besieging Serb forces around the city. A few days earlier she had to identify his corpse. The body was lifted, water running out of the sides of a rotting coffin, from a small park for reburial in the central cemetery. Soon she would emigrate to Australia—where, she told me, “I will marry a man who has never heard of this war and raise children that will be told nothing about it, nothing about the country I am from.”

Ljiljana was young. But the war had exacted a toll. Her cheeks were hollow, her hair dry and brittle. Her teeth were decayed and some had broken into jagged bits. She had no money for a dentist; she hoped to have them fixed in Australia. Yet all she and her friends did that afternoon was lament the days when they lived in fear and hunger, emaciated, targeted by Serb gunners on the heights above. They did not wish back the suffering. And yet, they admitted, those may have been the fullest days of their lives. They looked at me in despair. I had known them when hundreds of shells a day fell nearby, when they had no water to bathe in or wash their clothes, when they huddled in unheated flats as sniper bullets hit the walls outside.

What they expressed was disillusionment with a sterile, futile and empty present. Peace had again exposed the void that the rush of war, of battle, had filled. Once again they were—as perhaps we all are—alone, no longer bound by a common struggle, no longer given the opportunity to be noble, heroic, no longer sure of what life was about or what it meant. The old comradeship, however false, had vanished with the last shot.

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Moreover, they had seen that all the sacrifice had been for naught. They had been, as we all are in war, betrayed. The corrupt old Communist Party bosses, who became nationalists overnight and got them into the mess in the first place, had grown rich off their suffering and were still in power. Ljiljana and the others faced a 70 percent unemployment rate. They depended on handouts from the international community. They understood that their cause, once as fashionable in certain intellectual circles as they were themselves, lay forgotten. No longer did actors, politicians and artists scramble to visit during the cease-fires—acts that were almost always ones of gross self-promotion. They knew the lie of war, the mockery of their idealism, and struggled with their shattered illusions. And yet, they wished it all back, and I did, too.

Later, I received a Christmas card. It was signed “Ljiljana from Australia.” It had no return address. I never heard from her again. But many of those I worked with as war correspondents did not escape. They could not break free from the dance with death. They wandered from conflict to conflict, seeking always one more hit.

By then, I was back in Gaza and at one point found myself pinned down in still another ambush. A young Palestinian 15 feet away was fatally shot through the chest. I had been lured back but now felt none of the old rush, just fear. It was time to break free, to let go. I knew it was over for me. I was lucky to get out alive.

Kurt Schork—brilliant, courageous and driven—could not let go. He died in an ambush in Sierra Leone along with another friend of mine, Miguel Gil Moreno. His entrapment—his embrace of Thanatos, of the death instinct—was never mentioned in the sterile and antiseptic memorial service held for him in Washington, D.C. Everyone tiptoed around the issue. But those of us who had known him understood he had been consumed.

I had worked with Kurt for 10 years, starting in northern Iraq. Literate, funny—it seems the brave are often funny. He and I passed books back and forth in our struggle to make sense of the madness around us. His loss is a hole that will never be filled. His ashes were placed in Sarajevo’s Lion Cemetery, for the victims of the war. I flew to Sarajevo and met the British filmmaker Dan Reed. It was an overcast November day. We stood over the grave and downed a pint of whiskey. Dan lit a candle. I recited a poem the Roman lyric poet Catullus had written to honor his dead brother.

By strangers’ costs and waters, many days at sea,
I come here for the rites of your unworlding,
Bringing for you, the dead, these last gifts of the living
And my words—vain sounds for the man of dust.
Alas, my brother,
You have been taken from me. You have been taken from me,
By cold chance turned a shadow, and my pain.
Here are the foods of the old ceremony, appointed
Long ago for the starvelings under the earth:
Take them: your brother’s tears have made them wet: and take
Into eternity my hail and my farewell.

It was there, among 4,000 war dead, that Kurt belonged. He died because he could not free himself from war. He had been trying to replicate what he had found in Sarajevo, but he could not. War could never be new again. Kurt had been in East Timor and Chechnya. Sierra Leone, I was sure, meant nothing to him.

Kurt and Miguel could not let go. They would have been the first to admit it. Spend long enough at war, and you cannot fit in anywhere else. It finally kills you. It is not a new story. It starts out like love, but it is death.

War is the beautiful young nymph in the fairy tale that, when kissed, exhales the vapors of the underworld.

The ancient Greeks had a word for such a fate: ekpyrosis.

It means to be consumed by a ball of fire. They used it to describe heroes.


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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, April 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

Again, and finally, I am not advocating utilitarianism as a way of life,
but I am describing one way humans make decisions.  Sometimes
weighing the consequences is the only way to avoid ugly outcomes
as well as those who will use the tool to justify their gruesome actions. 
This is because sometimes the premises are monstrous on which
decisions are based.  But other times it is the only device to provide
ways to make decisions that are difficult but beneficial.  This fact of
utilitarianism can also be the apparatus for evaluating moral obligation. 

One does not necessarily have to live as The Utilitarian.  But one could
be seriously handicapped if it were ruled out as a way to find a third
way to resolve an otherwise unresolvable problem.  Relying on what is
the moral thing to do, the non-utilitarian way, sometimes cannot do the
job.  Such as the Palestinian/Israel conundrum.  Regardless on which
side you are on, morals in this case are claimed to be justified on both
sides and each side has what are claimed morality.  This is a problem
that must be solved or more and more people will lose their life, both
sides are unable to further social and economic progress in their
respective societies.  Much is being lost.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 3, 2012 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

By the way I found the this especially both amusing and interesting, came to mind after reading Johns diatribe on pets which are animals; ‘The interests of non-human animals must be counted equally with those of humans; and if we are ever visited by UFOs, we must consider the alien’s interests too.’

Could it be said happiness is the antipasto of suffering? First I recalled the song “Be Happy” but there seems to be something much deeper in Utilitarianism which provides cause for one to take notice.

Damn… I love it when the ole gray cells attack the old white cells!

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By Foucauldian, April 3, 2012 at 7:51 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 2 at 6:43 pm

That was my point, Ana.  It’s not a political
philosophy for that reason but more like a philosophy
of management or administration.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 3, 2012 at 7:47 am Link to this comment

Damn, I believe all this time I have been a utilitarian and never knowed it? Yes she,... the section on “Common Criticisms of Utilitarianism” addresses the knee-jerk responses which I had rolling around in me head.

From what I gather OWS is the closest thing I have seen to Utilitarianism, well fairness without the happiness?  I would like to hear our resident Anarchist weigh in on Utilitarianism, How about it Anarchissie?

Well, for the time being I will place Eugenicsism on the back burner!

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By heterochromatic, April 2, 2012 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment

She—- I’ve been to the site a couple of times and still am having trouble with
the definition page…...


the new definition is not really different from Bentham’s and the theory is still
seemingly positing happiness as the greatest ethical value. (excuse my use of
non-technical terms)
and happiness simply is not….unless you start defining happiness in other than
the usual way(s).


(BTW, the mrs. not only agrees with you than I’m most unusual   but suggests
that you coulda thrown in “cruel and….” )

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, April 2, 2012 at 8:08 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 2 6:00 am,

“And since we can’t change
the genetic constitution of humanity, we have to try
to change the culture.”

An astute observation that dovetails in with the idea that while there
are inherited tendencies of avarice, rapacity, or violence, the sense
of fairness and caring for Other is also an inherited tendency. Humans
learn this either through first hand experience or through the indoctrina-
tions by others.  Add that to the inclination to feel obliged to alleviate
the pain of other people and promote the welfare of others in need,
and we have the potential not merely to try but to actually change the
culture, and occasionally the culture does change, as witnessed in the
cessation of burning witches, which at one time was pretty much of a
sports performance for the hoi polloi.

Again, the hypothesis that within the dynamics of utilitarianism is the
possibility that someone will have to decide what is ‘good’ is not as
common as thought in the entire dimension of human action. There
are paradigm cases of course, Kaiser William II, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and
some of the contemporary ghastly African despots, but in comparison
to the “many,” there are 6.7 billion people in the world who use
utilitarianism to make many decisions, weighing the quantification of the
options. Following the Kantian path of absolute morality does not always
produce a moral ambience when there are various beliefs of what exactly
morality is, even if there is in the utilitarian camp one person operating
under that authority deciding what is good. Even a sole authority needs
support, so those who support him are themselves exercising a
utilitarian justification for their actions of support. This includes those
people who must submit to whatever good has been decided for them
can rebel or withstand, they also take the utilitarian application further
into whatever seems most momentarily advantageous. Things may
change but whatever drives it will also be driven by expedience. 
Benevolent monarchs have often made sweeping decisions of what is
good. Sometime the serfs decide also using utilitarianism as a deciding
principle to allow the king to decide what is “the good.” The idea that
what is good is decided by a strong utilitarian lasts only as long as what
actually is good does not occur to the oppressed. Once that does then
rebellion and overthrow happens, which is also a utilitarian decision. 
Utilitarianism has gotten us everywhere!  It is how overarching a theory
one wants to see it as in operation.  As I also observed there is
Restating in my own words a published argument, adhering strictly to
the morality of duty often can lead people to do terribly irrational or
immoral things, e.g., a moral obligation to always tell the truth would
require someone to tell a murderer where to find an intended victim. 
In some moral decisions, individuals are left without guidance.
Consequentialism (another term for utilitarianism) is quantifiably far
less likely to do. Cultural bound moralities might be intraconsistent but
can be found many times to contradict each other, especially as found in
Divine command theory, which leads to the creation of a subjective
hierarchy of duties. The Reductio ad absurdum of deontology leads to
ridiculous or dangerous conclusions. These are conclusions where
deontologists would actually allow any number of horrible things to
happen in the name of rigid morality.  Kant’s Categorical Imperative is
fairly criticized because the instruction to create rules which should be
universal is necessarily vague and subject also, as is the utilitarian tyrant,
to the potentially flawed opinion of anyone using it.

heterochromatic you are an unusual truthdipper.  If you indeed visit the
Util’s website, it might be worth the effort while there to link to the page
of common criticisms of utilitarianism.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm Link to this comment

Foucauldian, April 2 at 9:58 am:

‘True of any political system/setup, Ana, except
perhaps that utilitarianism makes no bones about it:
it simply assumes the agreement as to what
constitutes “the good” is implicit.’

But there are many moral or political systems which try to come up with a way of determining the General Will, or allowing it to somehow arise, which could then declare the rules for determining the good, after which all would be mere deontology—following the rules.  Monarchy,  democracy, the market, anarchy, consensus of the elders, hierocracy, and so on.  The utilitarians are evading the performance of this important step.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment

Rhetoric is a fancy word for Bull Shit! Like the war on terror, the war on drugs, the undeclared war on Senoritas, ethnically anyone who is not them and gays, yes they are called things like; freedom of religion, birthers or right to life and family first, yes the Rhetoric is always flying and it sticks on the wall as we have seen by the frenzied crowds following the Repulsions around fawning like school girls over the Beatles, I am surprised so far none of the knuckle dragging have tossed their shorts or panties at the stage,... while rest of us tosses our lunch!

In the news, China says the USA is in decline, not news to me, the Republicans seem to be the point men for the 1 percent, who could care less what happens to the USA, when they can live anyplace in the world, all part of the new world order!

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By truedigger3, April 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm Link to this comment

I am very suspecious and skeptical about that utilitarianism business! I am afraid that it is like “humanitrian” interventions will be used for the wrong reason and will not be used when it is really needed and justified!
With very skillfull effective and wide spread propoganda and bullshitting and demonizing campaigns, many people were persuaded to support the so called humanitarian interventions which in reality were attacks to grab resources and establish military bases for more “humanitarian” interventions in the future!
The only case where humanitarian intervention was needed and justified, but never used there, was in Rwanda.  All the rest of those so called “humanitarian” interventions that followed in other countries were not justified and were inhumane cruel and destructive instead of being humanitarian!

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm Link to this comment

Ed, the feeling is mustachio am happy to tuck it in, ...and let’s ‘don’t let the bed bugs bite’!

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By Ed Romano, April 2, 2012 at 12:24 pm Link to this comment

Well Lee, You are an enigma to me also. Some of the things you post are spot on, but in other areas you seem thick as a brick. You absolutely refuse understand what I have said in plain terms about athieism. Your refusal is so obviouslty ostinate that I can only conclude I said something that rattled an illusion of yours. But this argument does nothing to
help us understand what Hedges is saying about the war….so let’s put it to bed.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 2, 2012 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

Your happiness is my happiness, so you must do what makes me the most happiness! My filthy whealth provides me so much glee as my fellows run for president, while your huddled squalor and poverty provide me so much glee,... there for I am.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, April 2, 2012 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Per Anarchissie, “And since we can’t change the genetic constitutin of humanity, we have to try to change the culture.”

I couldn’t agree more, but culture changes slowly, but it changes.  Part of our genetics seems to be mimickery and approval seeking, so, if an adequately high bandwidth mass media can be controlled by ‘good cultural leadership, there’s a start, and some hope.  But it’s a long way from here to there. 

And based on Foucaldian’s post below, I tend to agree with Shen’s ‘negative utilitarianism’.  WE might not be able to agree on what good is, but sickness, hunger, ignorance, I think we can almost universally call ‘bad’.  If folks can;t agree these things are to be remedied, we find a way to sideline those creeps.

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By Foucauldian, April 2, 2012 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

“The problem is not that such decisions cannot do
everyone good.  The problem is that someone will
have to decide what ‘good’ is.  Since people will
disagree on this issue, the problem turns out to be
not ‘what is the good’ but ‘who is to be master’—a
problem with which we were already all too familiar. 
Utilitarianism hasn’t gotten us anywhere.”

—Anarcissie, April 2, 6:00 am

True of any political system/setup, Ana, except
perhaps that utilitarianism makes no bones about it: 
it simply assumes the agreement as to what
constitutes “the good” is implicit.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 2, 2012 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Well cryptic Ed, you are the one who made the accusations and comments about Atheism as some sort of self declared expert as you allege to be an agnostic; like this makes you an expert on other agnostics and atheists?

For some reason awhile back;  I recall; Ed you said you believed in the bible, something like that? What is it with telling people what they are thinking or believe or not believe in, this kind of myopic crap seems prevalent here on TD, which explains why our country is screwed.  Once again with absolute uncertainty I have no idea what the hell ‘IT’ is as I still would like to know who “WE” are or do you have a frog in your pocket ED?

Now I do not declare to be an expert on ass holes, but I have plenty of handy material right here on TD.

“Well, if you don’t believe in it, what are you
squawking about ?”  (again ED what is it)?

You know ED, what seems so damn amusing to me, we may agree on some things and not on others, but the prevailing winds of a few morons here, demand agreement in all and everything as it appears in the simple mindset; as GWB saudl “you are with me or you are against me”!

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By elisalouisa, April 2, 2012 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

Anar:Our present scheme of using some sociopaths to control the other sociopaths clearly goes wrong quite often, in a context of ever more powerful technologies of destruction, terror, surveillance and repression.  If we don’t take another path, the edge of the cliff and over would seem to be our only destination.

The alternate path has been bypassed and there is no turning back. If truth be told, the “sociopaths” have hijacked our government and are using the people.They know just how to push those buttons. Overtaking the sociopaths would result in a tremendous upheaval and the destruction of much of our civilization. The good news is that this just might be the shock and learning lesson necessary so that one of the alternate routes can be the way. Even the control freak/power elite might finally see that the “me first” way has reaped a bitter crop.

Then again, a more uplifting scenario might be called for, who’s next?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 2, 2012 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

<b>elisalouisa, April 1 at 7:13 am:

‘Anar: Anarchism is about trying to figure out how to get people to stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to push this button’, and maybe even pull the wires out.
But the answer isn’t always obvious.


Taking this further, not just game button pushing, what if such non-cooperation is detrimental to society?  When a system such as government is dispensed with, there must be something to take it’s place. Not all have the capacity to know “how to live” in a manner best for the individual and/or society. The local mall is not the only litmus test as to the state of humanity. Posts on the internet also reflect on the condition of our society, with all due respect to readers on this thread.

If there is to be any likeliness of success as to Anarchy an upgrade in present humanity would be in order. The sooner the better.’

And since we can’t change the genetic constitution of humanity, we have to try to change the culture.

I see two kinds of activism to address the present situation.  First, we can try to limit the harms done by government and other malign institutions and individuals by refusing to support them, by subversion and sabotage (taking care not to do more harm than we are preventing), and by encouraging others to do the same.  Secondly, we can try to build a noncoercive social order in the spaces left open by the coercive social order.

There is some hope.  Most people do seem to be able to control their impulses toward violence, aggression and greed, or we would see everyone trying to be the government and the war of all against all.  Admittedly it is a long shot, but what is the alternative?  Our present scheme of using some sociopaths to control the other sociopaths clearly goes wrong quite often, in a context of ever more powerful technologies of destruction, terror, surveillance and repression.  If we don’t take another path, the edge of the cliff and over would seem to be our only destination.

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By heterochromatic, April 2, 2012 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

She—- at your urging and out of respect for you, I shall review the Utiles….....

I had thought that it was not a psychic bloc but a considered opinion that left me
somewhat scornful of a failed approach, but I will open up and take another look.

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By Ed Romano, April 2, 2012 at 7:18 am Link to this comment

Anarcisse,  ” Untilitarianism hasn’t gotten us anywhere “. ....Nor,apparently, has teaching them to read and write.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 2, 2012 at 7:00 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous, April 1 at 11:35 pm:

‘... Anarcissie, April 1 6:46 pm I believe you and heterochromatic are making my case.  It is true that when relying on utilitarianism as a decider of what to do that as a principle of state someone will have to suffer what someone else thinks or has determined by some method what is good.  And of course it might not be moral.  But that is the nature of utilitarianism and whether we like the judgments or not, and whether we think the judgments are just or not, casualties will fall into collateral damage.  Not all will benefit, it is the most good for the greater number. ...’

The problem is not that such decisions cannot do everyone good.  The problem is that someone will have to decide what ‘good’ is.  Since people will disagree on this issue, the problem turns out to be not ‘what is the good’ but ‘who is to be master’—a problem with which we were already all too familiar.  Utilitarianism hasn’t gotten us anywhere.

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By truedigger3, April 2, 2012 at 6:51 am Link to this comment

I am very suspecious and skeptical about that utilitarianism business! I am afraid that it is like “humanitrian” interventions will be used for the wrong reason and will not be used when it is really needed and justified!
With very skillfull effective and wide spread propoganda and bullshitting and demonizing campaigns, many people were persuaded to support the so called humanitarian interventions which in reality were attacks to grab resources and establish military bases for more “humanitarian” interventions in the future!
The only case where humanitarian intervention was needed and justified, but never used there, was in Rwanda.  All the rest of those so called “humanitarian” interventions that followed in other countries were not justified and were inhumane cruel and destructive instead of being humanitarian!

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, April 2, 2012 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

Ozark Michale, becoming quite the expert Riding around on the straw man again or is interruptions of third unnamed persons to be accepted as concrete facts?

“Understand also that my argument was against those who said (and still say) that f’aith in science is good and safe, while faith in God is dangerous.’”

Please name those who said exactly what you quoted, “faith in science is good and safe” or “still say” interpretations of what people actually may have stated, I suspect have their FOX one sided newsy translations so far out of context….. attached.

Absolutism’s of certainty hide the twisted transliteration from the towering babble of clay foots in ones mouth!

Discussing what someone supposedly stated; “science is good and safe, while faith in God is dangerous.” OM please provide your source, a name and quote please? I suspect it is just a little misunderstanding or the usual blatant twisting of third words.

I have seen enough of this third person charade crap to choke even a double talking Tea Bagging/Republican.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, April 2, 2012 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

“Understand also that my argument was against those who said (and still say) that faith in science is good and safe, while faith in God is dangerous.’”

No, I am not saying faith in God is dangerous, only that the abuse of faith is dangerous, and perhaps yes, using faith when you should be using the brain God supposedly gave a person is dangerous.  Abuse of faith can lead to some very bad things.

“It dosn’t serve me to use or misuse people’s faith. I am not approving that or encouraging it.”  Okay, if you say so, I’ll look for signs.  I would like to believe you are a ‘person of food faith’, (humor intended) and that the mis-use of faith as a possible factor in ‘sanctioned violence’ will get some recognition from you. 

Frankly, ‘calling out’ the mis-uses of faith, makes a contrast with the faith of decent people, and shows that faith to be the good thing that it is.  This situation is parallel to a sort of partisanship. Hypothetically, suppose you were arguing against a Democrat and that Democrat would acknowledge their particular flavor of corruption…....instead of simply spouting the the party line.  At least you know they are capable of acknowledging the truth, and therefore greater integrity than a purely partisan Dem.  This is the situation with you and faith.  By lumping all faith, faith in god, and misplaced faith in men together under the label ‘faith’, you do not allow the possibility that reasonable people should perhaps think twice about metaphorically ‘pushing the button’ in real-world scenarios. 

Again, we come to a situation where our language itself can if misused be a tool against us.  ‘Faith’ may, or may not be a good or bad thing, but the word, with it’s potential for mis-use, does not serve mankind well.

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OzarkMichael's avatar

By OzarkMichael, April 2, 2012 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

And they are an extreme example.  But just because there are a few cases of people using science as a religion doesn’t mean you can construct an artificial world where all the good people are on the right, and all the bad people are ‘leftists’, and those bad people worship some ‘godless science’.

People ‘failed’ the Milgram test from Left, Right, and Center.

Understand also that my argument was against those who said (and still say) that f’aith in science is good and safe, while faith in God is dangerous.’

That world view is very self-serving, and indeed is a tool to mis-use peoples faith.  It gives people a reason to ignore any responsibility toward understanding reason (a give of God?) and simply fall in line behind faith in men who do not deserve it.  Are you one of those men?

It doesnt serve me to use or misuse people’s faith. I am not approving that or encouraging it.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, April 2, 2012 at 4:34 am Link to this comment

“The charade has also developed that you and others here are on the side of science, defending it from the barbarians such as I. The conceit has formed that all of you understand science but i do not.”

Not really, science has times to be applied and times when it should not.  The artificial characterizations about ‘barbarianism’ is the ‘charade’ if there is a charade at all.  Science has it’s uses.  It is not a religion any more than a shovel is.

Not to say some don’t treat it as a religion, I suppose some do…..look at the ‘Scientologists’, but they are the ones mis-using science the way a bad preacher would mis-use faith.  And they are an extreme example.  But just because there are a few cases of people using science as a religion doesn’t mean you can construct an artificial world where all the good people are on the right, and all the bad people are ‘leftists’, and those bad people worship some ‘godless science’. 

That world view is very self-serving, and indeed is a tool to mis-use peoples faith.  It gives people a reason to ignore any responsibility toward understanding reason (a give of God?) and simply fall in line behind faith in men who do not deserve it.  Are you one of those men?

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, April 2, 2012 at 12:35 am Link to this comment

Hardly patches.  Whenever someone who strikes me as a thinking
person appears to be locked in against furthering what seems to be
a cursory understanding particularly about an important ethical view
that seems to determine much in this country, I tend to wonder why.
It is not that I am being dogged, heterochromatic, but you
seem to have put up a psychic bloc and do not want to dig into what
is probably the most used ethical system that makes far reaching
decisions on our lives.  So after this post I will cease and desist from
the topic as it relates to you.

Anarcissie, April 1 6:46 pm I believe you and heterochromatic
are making my case.  It is true that when relying on utilitarianism as a
decider of what to do that as a principle of state someone will have to
suffer what someone else thinks or has determined by some method
what is good.  And of course it might not be moral.  But that is the nature
of utilitarianism and whether we like the judgments or not, and whether
we think the judgments are just or not, casualties will fall into collateral
damage.  Not all will benefit, it is the most good for the greater number. 
I’m not saying that it is the most moral way to make a judgment, but I’m
also not saying it is not the most fairest way to make “some” decisions. 
For a state to rely entirely on utilitarianism as a fast rule of decision
making could well lead to disaster.  Enter stage right, the Nazis.

The fallacy is that because utilitarianism was a value of Nazi ideology so
was strength, passion, lack of hypocrisy, traditional family values, and
devotion to community, does that mean a repugnance for these must
therefore also be adopted?

Utilitarians believe that the most ethical thing to do is to maximize
the happiness within a society. They believe that actions have calculable
outcomes and that ethical choices must have outcomes which lead to
the most happiness to the most members of a society. It is considered
a ‘consequentialist’ philosophical outlook because it believes that
outcomes can be predicted and actions are judged based on their
quantitative outcomes. This ethic is known as ‘the ends justify the
means’ theory.

Or, one could rely on what as is the morally altruistic thing to do, what
is the moral obligation?  Called deontology, it is an alternative ethical
system that demands all actions, or means, must themselves be ethical.
These ethicists argue that there are ethical norms and truths, hence
duties, that go beyond ordinary limits and exist outside time, are
universally applicable to all people. Deontologists reason that some
actions are immoral regardless of their outcomes and these actions are
wrong in and of themselves. Kant gave us a ‘categorical imperative’ to act
morally at all times.  Broadly speaking, this demands we act “as though”
our actions would be universalized into a general rule of nature which
leads to moral conclusions about right and wrong based on rational
thought.  Opposite to utilitarianism this view is roughly associated with
the maxim ‘the means “must” justify the ends.’  Two films poignantly
dealt with these ideas:  Sophie’s Choice and The Magus.

SEP writer, Margaret Lange makes the point from her interest in Mill that
if there is a claim that humanity is progressing, that means that utility is
increasing over time.  With all the thinking that is going on, could that be
something important to think about?

These two basic philosophical ethics systems appear to be the underlying
sides to Anarcissie’s and heterochromatic’s debate, whether they are
cognizant of it or not.

But there is a utilitarian counterresponse to the deontologist and also a
deontological countercounterresponse to the utilitarian.  So the waltz can
go on and on on and on.

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By OzarkMichael, April 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm Link to this comment

John Best said:

No OM, despite a post which hits the readers ear nicely, it is not a convincing argument.

Thanks for that complimentary part of your reply.

Your basic fallacy is to have taken one experiment, one, and applied your interpretation, which is itself highly debatable, and you have applied it to smear all of science.

We are all individuals and everyone here has an opinion, which to me in a moral sense are all valuable and valid, so i listen to every one. Because of that outlook I was silent as others praise science, and I was quiet as everyone lectures me about science.

I endure it silently because I can only speak of one or two things at a time. As a result of my silence, a charade has developed that I am against science, although I am not.

The charade has also developed that you and others here are on the side of science, defending it from the barbarians such as I. The conceit has formed that all of you understand science but i do not.

I am willing to be anyone’s equal and I seek to argue on equal terms at all times, but we need to set something straight. I have to sort through, evaluate, and apply more scientific information in one day than any one of you has to evaluate in a year.

I do not ask to be imbued with any scientific authority on any moral matter, because there is no such thing. Milgram’s experiment shows us the folly of that, and that is what i ‘smeared’ in that post. But whether you like it or not, i am qualified to be your equal in judging the results of an experiment. That is all any scientist would ask, and that is all i ask.

 

But the fellow in the lab coat is incidental.

I disagree. The experimental ‘environment’ is never incidental.  The lab coat is important scientifically. We can talk about that more if you like.

The human choice, that choice of the ‘lowest’ as you say, the grunt, the infantryman, with his finger on the trigger, and charging into an unknown…....he has no man in a white coat looking over his shoulder.

Neither do I. Neither do you. Poetically, as part of my post, the white lab coat was incidental, a starting point to the moral reflection of that post,  in that regard you are right.

However, I put effort into the poetry that would direct our focus at ourselves. But there were no takers, not even Anarcissie. No one took the poetry to heart and reflected upon it as a human being, instead we all look down upon the mass of humanity and talk about ‘them’ the ‘lowest of the low’ etc. That outlook was exactly what i was fighting against and so i officially judge my Milgram posts as another failed project .. although I take most of the blame because I am not a poet or an artist or a philosopher, so my poetry is not so effective.

Thanks for the compliment though.

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By heterochromatic, April 1, 2012 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

She—thanks, but I know that it the Utes can put patches on the thing, and it’s
not an altogether terrible approach, but it’s just not one that ever appealed to me
during the years that I spent studying the stuff.

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By Shenonymous, April 1, 2012 at 7:50 pm Link to this comment

Unless you are inflexible, heterochromatic, you might take a peek
at http://www.utilitarian.org/one.html  I am still not saying I am
utilitarian but I see the value in applying it at certain times.  I would
bet most people, even you, when faced with deciding what action to
take when real suffering of real people are at stake and there is a
choice to interfere or decide what would be the best course to take but
any decision would mean not all can be helped, a utilitarian approach
served the situation, ruefully maybe, but some decision had to be made. 
Perhaps you have never faced such a critical situation. So don’t do it,
don’t check out the links, as it appears you have written off the rational
decision making tool as defective.

The debate over the health care reform act could be one of those
instances where utilitarianism could help decide what is the best
course to take when it comes to social justice.  It is of course your
choice.  I was only making a friendly suggestion as a way to make
tough decisions and hoped for some circumspective debate. Que sera

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By Anarcissie, April 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

heterochromatic, April 1 at 7:27 am:

me: ‘——-We are talking about practices which are akin to throwing a live, armed hand grenade into a schoolyard full of children, except that the tools used, drones and missiles, are much more destructive.——’

‘no we are not talking about such practices, unless we’re fans of the Taliban.’

What do you think firing a large missile into a populated city does?

Do you think it’s ‘worth it’, in the words of Madeleine Albright?  If so, can you give us your calculation?  Secretary Albright omitted that part.

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By Anarcissie, April 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

The problem with utilitarianism as a principle of state is that someone has to decide what ‘good’ means for someone else—for a whole lot of someone elses.  That is going to occur in every realization of the idea.

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By heterochromatic, April 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

She——if there’s nothing in the theory that’s not incompatible with my
example…..it’s not MY mistake.


simply because Util. doesn’t advocate such thing, doesn’t exempt it from being a
defective theory as long as it doesn’t exclude such.

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By Shenonymous, April 1, 2012 at 6:26 pm Link to this comment

But heterochromatic, you make the same categorical mistake as
has already pointed out between a couple others, that you judge an
entire system. the utilitarian point of departure for making decisions,
by one or two examples.  Hearsay has given it a bad rap.  But it does
have its virtues of giving a detached platform for making decisions
laden with angst or other emotions.  Some things require distancing
such as the pitiful Terry Schiavo case some years ago.

I should however say it is my opinion that if it is ever employed, it must
consider all the consequences that does involve the emotional health of
who would be affected.  It is a complicated way to make assessments
and does require much reading and thinking.  No casual treatment or no
rush to condemn might be more rational.  It is something to think about
once the Nazis are dumped out of the equation.  An extraordinary film
Seven Beauties illustrates the ramifications of utilitarianism both the
horror to which it could lead, but also the basis one might be faced with
and must take if evil is not in one’s heart.

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By Anarcissie, April 1, 2012 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

Ozark Michael—Marxism doesn’t seem to appeal to Americans much.  I’d guess we’d more likely see some sort of standard-issue fascism, dolled up with a bit of religiosity here and a bit of Welfare there.  There really isn’t any need for such a transition, though, because we already have a highly centralized, militarized, secretive state; the tools of repression are present even if they’re not being used.

But specifically as to your question, I don’t think I would last very long in the sort of state the Bolsheviks set up, and I like lasting, so I don’t think I would be very enthusiastic about the turn of events you postulate.

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By heterochromatic, April 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment

I’m a natrual law/righte??contract sort and find Utilitarianism no less sane than did
Dickens and having seen 20th century history….KNOW that Utilitarianism is as
ugly as any other theory in that it has no bottom.


if it immensely pleases 50 million Germans to kill a million homosexual Germans ,
then their suffering and deaths can easily be calculated as being of less value than
is feeding the bigotry of the many.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, April 1, 2012 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

A nice bit of prose, that last post OM. 

But the fellow in the lab coat is incidental.  The human choice, that choice of the ‘lowest’ as you say, the grunt, the infantryman, with his finger on the trigger, and charging into an unknown…....he has no man in a white coat looking over his shoulder. 

And there are an infinite number of cases where people continue punishing other people, and no man in a coat.  Just a conscience and we might ask what over time has influenced how the conscience will manifest in behavior. 

Your basic fallacy is to have taken one experiment, one, and applied your interpretation, which is itself highly debatable, and you have applied it to smear all of science. 

You do not even make a case that the subject is responding to the scientist, you taint all of science.  The human pressure exerted by the authority in the white coat could easily be the pressure of an inquisitor instructing the torturer to apply his craft.  The dynamic is identical.  In each case, faith has been misplaced, and individual morality has been surrendered to the authority through an act of faith. 

No OM, despite a post which hits the readers ear nicely, it is not a convincing argument.  I maintain the experiment could have been conducted with any ‘reality’ based situation.  Consider some ‘24’ situation, where torture must be applied, or some hypothetical terror attack occurs.

Milgrams experiment indeed shows just another situation where, through the mechanism of faith, an individuals conscience is supplanted by the conscience of the authority.  It is a specific instance of a general case of surrendering responsibility and individual conscience through faith. 

I am not painting all faith as bad, by the logical fallacy you use, rather I admit faith can be a good thing, but, I cannot reasonably extend the instances of a decent and reasonable faith to extend to call all acts of faith good. 

If I assume faith is a gift, as many believers do, then I state as it was stated to me, that faith is to be used sparingly as a last resort, when all else fails.  If one cannot solve a problem, and one has done their homework, and made every effort to solve a problem, and the solution is still evasive…....this is when to use the gift of faith.  To be lazy and use faith as the first tool, is to abuse it.  But this is pure proselytization.

But back to your ‘argument’...why use a vague almost metaphorical ‘red button’ symbolizing the choices we humans make?  We make choices every day which indeed do kill people.  Add up all the global effort to secure the extra gasoline required to power unnecessarily large SUV’s?  We all make the decision to ignore the little voice of our conscience and we indulge, pressing that red button and buy that bit of ego enhancing opulence, having faith in this ideology:  that by each individual pursuing their own happiness without regard to the well-being of others, the invisible hand of the market will somehow create the best overall scenario for all. 

That is faith my friend, faith in this invisible ‘market’.  It might as well be a God.  Should a Christian or good Muslim, or whatever religion even consider having faith in anything but their God?

But they do push that button, they buy that SUV, or some other extravagance, which millions of other ‘faithful’ also buy, and the aggregate demands for materials and fuels manifest themselves in powerful shocks dispatching death and misery in many far-off places of the globe.

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By Shenonymous, April 1, 2012 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

Since it can be very difficult to make decisions that would affect
great numbers of people, utilitariainism offers its algorithm as one
solution.  To provide the most good for the greatest number.  As an
elementary exercise in utilitarianism in order to give some basis for
judgments, try comparing 1 million people having “happiness with
an exponential value of 100 to the 11th to a billion people living with
“happiness = 1” presupposes that happiness itself can be quantified. 

But isn’t this questionable?  Capitalism by comparison does its
psychopathological best to commodify everything, commercialization
is its core intention, quantification, regardless if its intrinsic value can
be interpreted in quantities of anything that could be considered
currency (i.e., dollars, pounds, even the happiness units utilitarianism
proposes) or not.  So isn’t that a limitation?  However, to not accept that
something can or cannot be quantified does not mean that utilitarianism
cannot work.  It is just that it has a more complicated task to do than
reducing things to quantities.

Furthermore, choosing between 1 million people with happiness = 100
and a billion people with happiness = 1 is not a realistic situation. Such a
thing as choosing between a million people with 100 happiness points
and a billion with 1 happiness point simply does not exist. 

None of this presupposes that human beings cannot be seen as having
one better state of mind or affairs than another.  There does exist a
matter of evaluative judgment but then to fit into the utilitarian model,
judgments would have to be quantified, thereby nullifying the effort, or
so it would seem.  This line of reasoning does take emotionalism out of
the equation so that perhaps more people can achieve well-being.  The
question is that because it is morally boreal, how much does that affect
the common psyche?

On the other hand, socialism seeks the good for the greatest number
but it has inherent problems as much as capitalism.  Socialism has
already been discussed on this forum earlier, so no need to get seasick
again.
 
On the third hand, “Negative Utilitarianism” could be proposed
which means to reduce the suffering rather than increasing the
happiness of the greatest number. I think that is the rationale that
heterochromatic is inviting.  He will correct me if I am wrong. This
means to take care of the starving, sick, and impoverished first then
turn the attention on increasing happiness for later.

Negative Utilitarianism in effect has more leverage than positive
utilitarianism for the reductivist reason noted.  As long as there is
even one person in pain, why would it be appropriate to spend
resources on increasing the pleasure of others?  This I think may be
close to what Anarcissie argued.  Interestingly enough, this reasoning
has been extended to reducing the suffering of animals in preference
to increasing the pleasure of already happy people as well!  And caring
about animals a great deal, I love it!

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By OzarkMichael, April 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

Under such circumstances, the people who have to determine what to do with Marxists are the Marxists themselves, who after all are no longer either many or powerful or even very influential.

Imagine people getting very unhappy. The tide could go out suddenly instead of gradually. As Leftists point out, the masses are easily fooled into supporting authoritarianism.

In my scenario, after some more bad economic news and failed shenanigans by the government, there is a further radicalizing of the population. The Marxists gain strength and the revolution succeeds. It doesnt have to be especially bloody, at least at first. The Marxist would be a minority, much like in Russia circa 1917.

This is a possibility, and I would like you to discuss that with me.

As you have said to me, “its happened before.”

Will you at least let me know whether such an event would bother you?

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By Anarcissie, April 1, 2012 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

OzarkMichael, April 1 at 9:31 am:

Thank you Anarcissie, for addressing the question of the Left as religion, and the Marxists as the most organized and heirarchal form of that religion.

Please answer a question about Marxists. It is true that questions are often asked rhetorically, and many are asked as part of an insult. But I really want to know about this. I am asking you directly so please answer:

  Back to the present, and to your future hopes. If your revolution succeeds someday, what exactly do you intend to do with your Marxist comrades?...

An anarchist, that is, free social order cannot be created by a sudden revolution at the top.  It must grow up from the already deep, broad, and numerous non-coercive relations among persons in the existing social order—‘building a new society in the shell of the old’, as the IWW put it.  There would never be a particular day on which such a revolution would succeed.  It would be more like the tide going out.

Under such circumstances, the people who have to determine what to do with Marxists are the Marxists themselves, who after all are no longer either many or powerful or even very influential.

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By OzarkMichael, April 1, 2012 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

Thank you Anarcissie, for addressing the question of the Left as religion, and the Marxists as the most organized and heirarchal form of that religion.

Please answer a question about Marxists. It is true that questions are often asked rhetorically, and many are asked as part of an insult. But I really want to know about this. I am asking you directly so please answer: 

Back to the present, and to your future hopes. If your revolution succeeds someday, what exactly do you intend to do with your Marxist comrades?... On another thread i made a guess that after revolution you hope to counterbalance the Marxists by dropping them and making an alliance with someone else. You did not respond to me. I am still curious though, and I would like to know: the Marxists gain strength and the revolution succeeds, and then…

What? How do you see this playing out?

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By Ed Romano, April 1, 2012 at 10:21 am Link to this comment

Well, if you don’t believe in it, what are you
squawking about ?

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By Leefeller, April 1, 2012 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

Well Ed, certainties are definitely not mine to tout, simply because I do not believe in the certainty of absolutism’s, maybe you can explain how Atheists are absolute about something which does not even exist? Ed if I recall it was you who stated Atheists do not believe in anything or ever apologize or was it just I are one other Atheist who does not according to you have belief?

Anyway Ed, I have to take care of a hang nail and will get back to what I perceive is the contusing imbecilic saga of 50/50 ED when I return!

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By Shenonymous, April 1, 2012 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

Unless one wants to go to the utter generalized definition of Paul
Tilich, German-American theologian and Christian existentialist
philosopher, which is so broad as to completely miss any tangible
thought, the Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia gives definition to
what the general term religion means as a system of thought,
feeling, and action shared by a group and gives members an object
of devotion; a code of behavior by which individuals may judge the
personal and social consequences of their actions; and a frame of
reference by which individuals may relate to their group and their
universe. Usually, religion concerns itself with that which transcends
the known, the natural, or the expected; it is an acknowledgment of
the extraordinary, the mysterious, and the supernatural. The religious
consciousness generally recognizes a transcendent, sacred order and
elaborates a technique to deal with the inexplicable or unpredictable
elements of human experience in the world or beyond it.
http://education.yahoo.com/reference/encyclopedia/entry/religion

One thing that rules out anarchism as a religion is that it doesn’t
concern itself with anything transcendent, or unnatural, outside of
human experience, the mysterious or the supernatural, but keeps
its interests completely grounded in terra firma. 

The same could be said of atheism.  Devotion could be stretched
to include passionate advocacy, I suppose, but really now….

Atheism is certainly coherent but not, exactly as Anarcissie said, not
a coherent system of belief.  It is promising though that continued
discussion of the concept will in the end bring more clarity to it and
the general public will be able as more informed decide whether to
believe in a religion or disbelieve. This can only be a good thing far
as I am concerned.

A comprehensive set of definitions of religion is at:
http://www.reference.com/browse/religion?s=t

Just War Theory is a child of Utilitarianism and Mill should be read to
become familiar with his social/political theory. The real-life questions
again Anarcissie brings to consciousness about Just Wars are absolutely
pertinent. To disregard the implications is inhumane and as cold and
calculated as utilitarianism can be which can fit the notion of a hedonic
“moral calculus,” and can be dangerously nihilistic and instrumentalist. 
Care not to dismiss it out of hand as there are versions of utilitarianism
that deserve consideration.

The main argument against utilitarianism is its cold and detached
approach to solving what might be moralistic problems. It is often
considered a crude approach to Situations Ethics. Conceptually this
set of beliefs makes one ready to kill for the benefit of what is reflected
in the numbers. It allows the quantifications rule the situations rather
than qualification. It is considered the epitome of insensitivity and the
Utilitarian never themselves fall into any situation to suffer death by any
reason or any other instance of destruction.

Ethics philosophers, Kant denies people the ability to do particular things
that would harm others, even if however minor it benefits society or even
a potential victim; Rawls says you never have a right to hurt others even
in the case where it would benefit society.

E.g., utilitarianism would allow killing someone to harvest their organs if
there is no other option, and if it would save the lives of a plurality of
people. Duty Ethics is primarily opposed to actively harming people for
such a reason.

Other thinking on the topic:
J. Wach, Comparative Study of Religions
J. G. Frazer, The Golden Bough
V. T. A. Ferm, Encyclopedia of Religion
J. Hick, The Philosophy of Religion
J. de Vries, The Study of Religion
G. Parrinder, ed., Man and His Gods
M. Eliade, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion (16 volumes)
E. L. Queen 2d et al., ed., The Encyclopedia of American Religious History

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By Ed Romano, April 1, 2012 at 8:58 am Link to this comment

Leaf, Pardon me for speaking in your face….but if you “don’t express your disbelief with gusto”... what was that convoluted rant all about? But I did sense a little light dawning on Marblehead is some of what you said. You evidently took everything I had to say about the matter as a personal slap at you and/or your illusion. No amount of clarification on my part was going to convince you that my SOLE aim was to have people who claim to be athiests see that their tendency to look upon thiests with disdain is not justified, because athiests can have no more certainty in their belief than those people who pass around venomous snakes on Sunday morning in Geopgia….I didn’t say athiests were wrong ,or worse than believers or make any judgement on them whatsoever…I look forward to your next barrage of juvenalia that will do nothing to shed any light on the subject, but will, I’m sure, shed a lot of light on how your agruments are constructed.

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By heterochromatic, April 1, 2012 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

——-We are talking about practices which are akin to throwing a live, armed hand
grenade into a schoolyard full of children, except that the tools used, drones and
missiles, are much more destructive.——

no we are not talking about such practices, unless we’re fans of the Taliban.

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By heterochromatic, April 1, 2012 at 8:27 am Link to this comment

——-We are talking about practices which are akin to throwing a live, armed hand
grenade into a schoolyard full of children, except that the tools used, drones and
missiles, are much more destructive.——

no we are not talking about such practices, unless we’re fans of the Taliban.

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By Shenonymous, April 1, 2012 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Speaking of science!  The latest issue of the Smithsonian magazine
is a treasure trove.  The funniest story is on page 36 the one that
“Anthropologists finally cracked the interspecies linguistic barrier –
only to reveal that chimps are vulgar blowhards obsessed with petty
intrapack squabbles and have a secret hatred of bananas.”

Also is an amazing, apparently amazing, that is, since I’ve not checked
out any of his theses, an article by biologist/philosopher, E. O. Wilson
about a topic appropriate to this forum: “Cooperate or Die,” where he
deliberates on the common sentiment that people are becoming more
civilized.  He thinks rather that our Stone Age emotions are still at war
with our high-tech sophistication.  Now I liked it for the further reason,
other than his arguments, but because he is one of those scientists
who is convinced there is some inherent warring factor coded in human
genes.  But at the same time, he also confirms my truthdipping opinion
that through the also genetic tendency for altruism, we learn to care
for the common good. 

The other article that is striking in this magazine that might make
purchasing it as a single issue just for it is about the woman factor in the
rebellions in the Middle East.  There is a banquet of food for thought in
this issue.

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By elisalouisa, April 1, 2012 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

Anar: Anarchism is about trying to figure out how to get people to stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to push this button’, and maybe even pull the wires out. 
But the answer isn’t always obvious.


Taking this further, not just game button pushing, what if such non-cooperation is detrimental to society?  When a system such as government is dispensed with, there must be something to take it’s place. Not all have the capacity to know “how to live” in a manner best for the individual and/or society. The local mall is not the only litmus test as to the state of humanity. Posts on the internet also reflect on the condition of our society, with all due respect to readers on this thread.

If there is to be any likeliness of success as to Anarchy an upgrade in present humanity would be in order. The sooner the better.

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By Leefeller, April 1, 2012 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

Damn, nice posts Anarcissie, by the way please know my tolerance as to differences is offered with respect, from what I see, their is not a big ‘A’ on your forehead as their is not one on mine which would also be confusing, when compared to Ed’s little ‘a’ for antagonist.

“I don’t regard atheism as a coherent belief system.  To deny the existence of God first requires the discovery or construction of a God to deny the existence of, a curious philosophical move which may go anywhere. “

The idea of denying as opposed to not believing seem very different to me and a valid point, probably a usual convoluted sticking point sponsored by believers? Is it possible the new more vocal Atheists are only deniers because they see the burning fires of getting their stake and using it too?  Blinding lights coming from those huge monied temples of superstition, seem prompting, maybe fear in the vocal Atheist who sees the real denial is the separation of church and state!

Maybe I am piss a poor example of an Atheist, because I do not express my disbelieving with gusto and show it like a temple or a Lighthouse or Watch Tower? Yes I have a self righteous pomposity, showing my disbelief several times a day or one day a week, not really .... though I do worship Santa Claus once a year.

Saudi Arabia approached the Cuban Pope and wanted to make a world wide law against the infidels, the unbelievers, those who would deny, no the Atheist should go quietly and passively back to the dark ages of superstitious goat headers and their dogmas!

In the end, my passivity has been afforded to the believers,... simply put, I do believe it would be a much better world if people kept their superstitions to themselves as one person put it; Sarah Palin or was it M. Bachmann ...“I am not a Witch”?

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By Anarcissie, April 1, 2012 at 6:57 am Link to this comment

heterochromatic, March 31 at 6:22 pm:

Ana—- wars are fought with the expectation that some innocent and harmless people will be killed…and in the belief that the innocent and harmless on your side are to be preserved by warring against the guilty and deliberately killing those people…while taking reasonable precautions not to harm the innocent.

This seems to be a statement of Just-War theory, which more succinctly states that waging war is justifiable if the war would prevent greater evils than the war itself.  The problem with Just-War theory as utilized by sovereigns is that it can be used to justify any war whatever; they are always the judges of their own cause, and can be relied upon to find that failing to wage the wars they desire would always result in infinite harms to someone or something.  We can observe this practice throughout the 20th century on the part of persons no one here thinks were just.  A definition which discriminates nothing is useful in propaganda but useless in morals, unless your morals and propaganda are indistinguishable.

We are talking about practices which are akin to throwing a live, armed hand grenade into a schoolyard full of children, except that the tools used, drones and missiles, are much more destructive.  What aims are worthy of such an act?  Cheaper oil?  Getting one up on China?  Winning an election?  You decide.

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By Anarcissie, April 1, 2012 at 6:30 am Link to this comment

OzarkMichael, March 31 at 6:42 pm:

‘Anarcissie said:
“As for Lenin and company, who you seem to be on about, they had all kinds of faith.  By 1917, Marxism had long since turned into not just a faith but an organized religion.”

You propose that Marxism is organized religion, therefore it follows that Anarchism and Atheism are also religion, I suppose the independent, not really organized, fundamentalist type.

If i tried to propose those statements I would not get away with it. Truthdiggers! dont argue with me! it isnt my idea it was Anarcissie’s.  ...

I’ve been asked in the past, obviously by non-anarchists, why anarchism ‘seems like some kind of religion.’  I think the answer is that when we are confronted by a person or group whose fundamental picture of the world is different from that given by the majority-dominant culture, the differences often seem ‘religious’.  Indeed, many anarchistic movements, like the Diggers or the Dukhobors, have been explicitly religious.  Depending on what you mean by ‘fundamentalism’, the word might be appropriate.

In the case of Marxism, we not only observe a view of the world which is fundamentally different from the dominant liberal view, and which became more different as time went on, but one in which the view was necessarily elaborated into a system of detailed beliefs and practices because of its involvement with the state, and whose believers became organized into an authoritarian hierarchy.  It certainly showed many aspects of certain types of religious groups.  I am not the first to make this observation; for example, a famous 1949 book collecting the testimony of ex-Communists is called The God That Failed

I don’t regard atheism as a coherent belief system.  To deny the existence of God first requires the discovery or construction of a God to deny the existence of, a curious philosophical move which may go anywhere.

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By OzarkMichael, March 31, 2012 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie said:

As for Lenin and company, who you seem to be on about, they had all kinds of faith.  By 1917, Marxism had long since turned into not just a faith but an organized religion.

You propose that Marxism is organized religion, therefore it follows that Anarchism and Atheism are also religion, I suppose the independent, not really organized, fundamentalist type.

If i tried to propose those statements I would not get away with it. Truthdiggers! dont argue with me! it isnt my idea it was Anarcissie’s.

Really Anarcisie, the lengths you will go to to push all the problems of the world over to my side of the aisle.

Keep the Marxists on your side of the aisle. i dont want them. They are your allies now just like they would have been your allies if you lived back in 1917. Not to say that they didnt turn on your kind after the revolution succeeded.

Back to the present, and to your future hopes. If your revolution succeeds someday, what exactly do you intend to do with your Marxist comrades? No wait! I thought of a better question: What do you think your Marxist comrades will do with you?

On another thread i made a guess that after revolution you hope to counterbalance the Marxists by dropping them and making an alliance with someone else. You did not respond to me. I am still curious though, and I would like to know: the Marxists gain strength and the revolution succeeds, and then….

What? How do you see this playing out?

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By heterochromatic, March 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

Ana—- wars are fought with the expectation that some innocent and harmless
people will be killed…and in the belief that the innocent and harmless on your side
are to be preserved by warring against the guilty and deliberately killing those
people…while taking reasonable precautions not to harm the innocent.

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By Anarcissie, March 31, 2012 at 6:56 pm Link to this comment

If you hold that killing the innocent and harmless is a really bad thing, morally speaking—to say nothing of what it does to your public relations—then the innumerable wars which must be fought in quest of empire and other ‘interests’ seem difficult to justify, you might say.  All the jargon and theory and beating around the bush doesn’t really do the trick.

Actually, killing even one innocent and harmless person.  Or even the person’s dog.

But as Stalin famously said, if you kill one person, it’s murder, but if you kill a million people it’s a statistic.  And we all know how boring statistics are.

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By Shenonymous, March 31, 2012 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

After reading umpteen thousand posts by the illustrious Leefeller on
Truthdig for half of a decade, it takes a highly evolved mind to appre-
ciate his unique way of putting everything on which he comments. 
I am contented that I have one of those minds!  L and LOL!  I admit to
being prone to hyperbole.  I think he wouldn’t mind if he knew the
laughter that issues forth from my person on most occasions of his
really, underneath it all, (mostly) serious posts.

Thank you, Leefeller for your truthdipping.

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By Leefeller, March 31, 2012 at 9:33 am Link to this comment

Thanks She, I have both Becker books and need to go back and reread them.  Actually Ed said he has read them also!
Right now I am reading something else which I find very enlightening, thought provoking and inspiring which seems to coax the cobwebs in me mind to do a happy dance as Hoffers books seemed to do.

‘Human Nature: Fact and Fiction.’

Yes Ed, you are more wonderful than I,... but not just because!

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By Shenonymous, March 31, 2012 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, March 25 9:19 pm

”In the case of both
Afghanistan and Iraq, once Obama
became president, he pursued these wars and actually
amplified them for a time (‘surges’).”

Seems more like it was less a “pursuit” of more war in these countries as
much as he was more or less strategically committed to reposition all the
forces to get lined up to implement his plan.  I don’t see him as a
warmonger of “smart” wars. He was committed to end the war in Iraq,
which essentially he did, then his obligation from his campaign was to
search for and execute bin Laden, and success was his again. 
Withdrawal from Afghanistan is much more complicated as there are
warring factions within Afghanistan, and some of the people want the US
there and of course, the multitude who want the US out.

That is how Obama found the dynamics in that country on the day he
took his oath, while having a bound military under the leadership of
generals who had different ideas as well.  Finding the reality of a
presidency is much different, don’t you think, from what one knows and
understands as a candidate for the job?  Sorting out the pieces of the
puzzle required time to absorb all facets of the reality.  Speaking of
which, Karzai’s unsettled and inconsistent allegiance at that time seemed
like he was treading water between being committed to what had been
going on from the time of Bush and his relationship with the Taliban.
Everything is not as easy as it might be imagined.  The prickly connection
with Pakistan had to be a big part of the equation.  From all of the media
reports, Pakistan is quite the duplicitous country, who doesn’t mind
taking billions of American dollars.  We, the public, are much too
uninformed to be nothing but speculators.

Anarcissie, March 28 11:01 am Whatever else is said of Marxism,
it has in our time had tremendous agency for human survival.  As Becker
so aptly noticed, Marxism stopped Hitler in Russia and abolished the
unrequested and ancient desperations of an incalculable aggregate, that
is, several millions, of people on our planet.

John Best March 30 at 8:16 am

If you want to call
me ‘less than good’, that’s fine, because it is the willful
ignorance of self-proclaimed ‘good people’ who, through
a cop-out like faith end up supporting the worst among us….
How many tyrants in history were supported by the faith of
the poor?  You probably won’t be able to open your eyes. 
If you did it would be too sickening.  People choose a more
comfortable path.  And other people die….....it’s always
other people.

I think this gets scary close to the truth.

John Best, March 30 at 8:51 am

If one looks at what
Jesus said and did, it was a completely new way for
mankind.  A better way.

M’thinks Shakyamuni Siddh?rtha Gautama preceded Jesus by five
centuries.  That is not to say Jesus was not as you described him, but
there is debate about that though.  It depends on what historians one
wants to believe (that is, have faith that their rendition is closer to
the truth).

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By Shenonymous, March 31, 2012 at 9:07 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, March 26 7:34 am – I have Becker’s Escape from Evil
and Denial of Death, both remarkable in his examination of the
psychology of the malevolent inclination that lies potentially or as it is
acted out in diabolical behaviors. What can we learn from his insights? 
Complaining it had not yet been written about, he traces the power of
money through its delivery in the practice of family inheritance via the
patriarchic system.  He devises a history, albeit treated summarily,
from the research of other scholars of the travel of such money in what
he calls the “sacred” history of wealth, as having “its origin in magic
amulets and magic imitations of the sun (things made of gold).”  Hence,
Becker’s keen understanding that priests were the first issuers of money,
who monopolized “the official traffic in sacred charms and in the
exchange of favors for gold.”  So they are the ones we have to thank for
our corrupt politicians?  Yikes!  Temples were the “clearinghouses” for all
exchanges of currency.  Lots of power there!  There is much in the book
seen in his thread about the immortality ideology and cosmic govern-
ment, aka divine kingship. How does that motive show up in our society
that has euphemized kingship into something more acceptable?  What do
we call it now?  Elitism?  Or? 

Having only scratched the surface, I continue to mine Becker’s books for
such notions as understanding the meaning of money in the chapter you
cited, and other pathologies engendered by the fear of death.  I was very
much moved by what he said in throughout his concluding chapter, and
thought how true it is that “Fortunately, no one mind can pose as an
authority on the future, the manifold of events is so complex that it is
fraud for the intellectual to want to be taken seriously as prophet, either
in his fantasies or in his realities.”

His final thesis that evil is amenable to critical analysis is actually
optimistic, that human reason can interrupt any innate impulse to
harm others.

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By Ed Romano, March 31, 2012 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

GeeLee. Just because I’m more wonderful than you doesn’t mean you should be getting all bent into shape about it.But thanks, and I mean this sincerely, for giving us this revealing peek into your mind.

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By Leefeller, March 31, 2012 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Gebebiz on a cracker ED! What was it your mom used to tell you ED, I do not think you finished the sentence or maybe it was just incoherent to me because I do not believe in the 50/50 split?  George Carlin had a line about when someone started in telling him ...‘me old pappy used to say this or that’... but in polite circles I will not post it here.  By the way Ed I did not call you an ass hole, I suggested you could obtain a new one by going over to the Atheist Manifesto, Yeah it is blank Ed like your mind. By the way Ed, I had to cover my eyes when passing over the foul word ‘Hell’ in your post because I believe in my circle it is construed as a naughty word and possibly a form of stooping and coming from an agnostic may only be 50 percent accurate.

Well Ed it is nice to know in your circles, you believe in something? See, we do have differences ED, you believe foul language is stooping and I believe it is only called stooping when the perceived target does not require foul language. Ed you set yourself up with a big bulls eye! 

You know ED, you accused me of calling you an Ass Hole, I did not call you an Ass Hole, though I may have been thinking it.  I tell you what ED, I will quite thinking your an Ass Hole if you give me an Agnostic Apology but not a half hearten one!

By the way ED, please accept my Atheist Apology for even thinking you are an Ass Hole!

Now ED should we continue talking about war or about you obtaining a new one?

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By truedigger3, March 31, 2012 at 7:32 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano,

Okay! You say you are an agnostic! So, which “God” or “Gods” of the current collection of “Gods” do you think they might exist and why??
I have a hunch! You think that Christ might be the “God” as your mother taught you!!
You hide yourself behind your pick of some philosophers!! How about your own opinions and observations!!?? OH, I forgot that you have no opinions and observations and you are letting some philosophers do that for you!!

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By Anarcissie, March 31, 2012 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Ozark Michael—Your scenario is on the mark.  But science is not the only idol in whose name those buttons are pushed.  Far more often the button is pushed in the name of ‘I’m just doing my job’ or ‘I need the money.’  If those don’t work there’s right thinking, patriotism, homeland security, God and his church, think of the children, team spirit, peace, prosperity, progress, and so on down the line—if one doesn’t work, another will be tried.  Science will be in there somewhere, but it probably won’t be on top.  Regardless, for the button owners, the important thing is to get those buttons pushed.

Often, the button-pushers are arranged in series.  That’s another reason to push the button—if you don’t, the guy upstream will push the button that’s hooked up to you.

Anarchism is about trying to figure out how to get people to stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to push this button’, and maybe even pull the wires out.  But the answer isn’t always obvious.

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By Ed Romano, March 31, 2012 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

Leaf, ...And another thing ( as my mother used to say ) You say it really doesn’t matter to an athiest whether he’s right or wrong so long as believes he’s right???? In my world it matters quite a bit in human affairs whether or not we’re right or wrong because the actions we perform proceed from what we believe… Not in your world huh ? And you’re calling me an asshole ?.... Now if this Athiest Manifesto is true to its principles I will expect to find all the pages blank.

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By Ed Romano, March 31, 2012 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

Leaf, Half certain ? What the hell is that? Of course, athiests can go through life with a certainty that they are right….just as theists can say they have faith and then proceed as though they have certainty….but you seem to have a problem understanding the English language…. I don’t deny any of the above. What is impossible, unless you have come back from the dead….is KNOWING for certain that either position is a correct one…. You’ll notice that I got my point across here without stooping to the use of any foul or demeaning language.

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By Shenonymous, March 31, 2012 at 12:41 am Link to this comment

Catching up on a few old ones and looking at a few newer ones.

Jeff N., March 19 at 8:15 am – Sorry it took so long to reply. 
Life happens, like work!  and a few other mundane things.  But I
wanted to get back to this not for any other profound reason than
to give old Tolstoy a little better press. War and Peace is a classic
meditation on the justification and conduct of men in war.  It is a
worthy read for those who care to think about what is the nature of
men that they have a need to go to war, what are the instigations,
and what does war do to not only the humans that engage in combat,
but the entire society.  If you don’t want to read it, that is entirely up
to you.  But it is an amazing excavation of the human psyche as it winds
its way through war.  Perhaps it is too deep and daunting to want to see
these relationships.

Anarcissie, March 19 at 8:46 am – Anarcissie consistently and
rightly asks the most poignant and pertinent question.  What will anyone
do about war?  Which is logically preceded by the question: What can any
One do about war?

Foucauldian, March 25 at 5:58 pm

Shenon, we do seem to have some such system or ?systems,
as we see being embodied in such long-?standing human
practices and requirements as ?teaching credentials, the
institution of tenure, ?etc.  Remnants of the old guilds, the
master-?apprentice relationship?

While much more complex than this simple description, yes, it is the
current system, that for the most part has been working.  Peer review is
also part of the system.

In order to be able to make a judgment as to a given system’s
adequacy or lack thereof, I should think ?the question ought
to be raised with some intelligible context in mind—the value
of ?education, the purpose(s) it is presumed to serve in a given
society, who’s in charge, who ought to be in ?charge, things of
that sort. I suspect answers ?might very from context to
context.

These questions are of different orders.  Asking about the value
of education and its purposes in a given society are philosophy of
education questions.  Who’s in charge and who ought to be in
charge are also different species questions.  Who is in charge is
answerable in actual systems in place and the way the structure of
education administration is set up and can be answered at various
levels of the institution, meaning at the state, county, school boards,
and schools.  Who ought to be in charge brings in an additional
question, a sort of a question within a question that contains an
evaluative component of obligation and its obvious prescriptive
character.

While answers would vary from context to context because each
independent case would be different, there would also be answers
that speak in general finding things in common, that is, that would
be subject to valid comparison.

truedigger3, March 30 at 10:08 am - FYI:  I think it is interesting
that after Christianity, then Islam, atheists are third in the number who
self-identify as non-believers.  Christianity: 2.1 billion, Islam: 1.5 billion,
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion.
Reference: http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

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By Patrick, March 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges!  Thank you for sharing this!  Thank you for bringing me into the theater of war and making real what is usually treated as fantasy.  For a few moments, I was there with you: I saw it, I smelled it, I lived it—and it was horrible!

I cannot talk to my friends and associates about war without being scolded and told that I need to let go of my “misdirected” and “generalized” anger against our troops or our way of life.  To my friends, I respond with variations of, “Thank you for your feedback.  I value your opinion.  Your criticism is welcome.”  They offer tokens of forgiveness such as smiley faces and hugs and endearing phrases followed by cautionary reminders that I should not spend time on the “dark side,” that, instead, I should stop by and hang out and share happy times with them and their kids/pets/toys/gizmos. 

I’m not an angry person, I’m simply concerned about the downtrodden and oppressed.  I seek love and I stand for humanity.  Sometimes, I think I must be crazy for not thinking and behaving like my valued friends, and I wonder whether I should just let go and give in and “be happy” because perhaps things aren’t as bad as they seem.

Reading what you’ve written, Chris, I realize that I’m not crazy.  War exists.  I need to live with a clear conscience and follow my heart where it leads.

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By OzarkMichael, March 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

In science, belief is encouraged to be held tentatively.

Meanwhile, in the practical world, the common man finds himself having to decide what to do. A decision will be made and cannot be “held tentatively”. The common man is told, “You must proceed, you must deliver a more powerful shock”. The decision is pressed upon you right now. Your decision…“Yes i will shock”, or “No i wont shock” is not tentative. It is Either/Or. Just reflect for a moment that this was real life and not just an experiment to the people involved.

The attitude of Leftists seems to be to look down upon it, and to think they have learned all there is to know about Milgram by observing it. I cannot do that.

Come down to my level, the lowest level, where you are the one who has to choose instead of observe from on high. Imagine yourself sitting there with your finger over the button and imagine the temptation to shock, because the guy in the shock box couldnt answer your question correctly(shouldnt stupid people pay a price?) there is a good chance that you might actually press the button but you hesitate and you mumble “it will hurt him if i do it” and in reply the investigator in the clean white lab coat informs you calmly, “But you must proceed”... in that moment you are suspended between good and evil. If you shudder, or break out in a cold sweat then you are a human being. 

Living as a real human being means that we arrive at a moment of choosing. We arrive every moment… Shock or not? Decide now. And you must decide.

Then the moment is over. It happened. The choosing became a fact. The choosing is “unquestionable” and “definitive” and “irrevocable”. Science is no help here. Faith in science is worse, since it is telling you to shock.

In the moment… you make decisions that effect you and those around you. You either shocked or you refused. 

The argument that “Faith in Science” might be dangerous might be irrational in an essential way..

In a most essential way “Faith in Science” led to killing shocks. There is a huge expanse of danger, like a minefield, that lays before the human race and we must traverse it in the coming years. Doesnt it make you concerned? 

...until such time as new information comes along and makes a better case toward that virtue the ever elusive truth.

The elusive truth may be virtue for the idealized 1%, but for the 99% who live in the maze of life, virtue is tested and revealed in the moment. There is no stalling “until such time as new information comes along” because the Either/Or of real life does not allow it.

“The experiment requires that you must proceed to a higher voltage”

What a dreadful moment!

I will indulge in a fantasy that you, dear reader, have understood what i have said tonight, that you too are as shaken as i am at what it means to be a human being. Not shaken at someone else, but at yourself because you are only a human being. Not shaken at religion, but at our common human nature which is not able to hold true to religion, nor philosophy, nor anything good when it has its finger over the button in the name of science.

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm Link to this comment

Ed, You could be correct in saying the Atheist may not be certain he is right, but it really dost not matter to the Atheist any more than he may not be certain in the existence of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. One thing about the Agnostic, he can be fairly sure he may be half certain. I suppose some agnostics can have spreads on the percentages of how certain they may be? Ed go over the Atheist Manifesto they can give you a new ass hole over there!

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By Ed Romano, March 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment

Truedig, I DON’t insist that everyone agree wilh me- and I DOn’T have any problem, and I’m sorry that you are getting irritated, BUT you can be an atheist as much, and as long, and as fequently, and as staunchly, and as vociferously, and as fervently ,and as loyally, and as militantly, and as religiously as you want to. What you CANNOT be is CERTAIN that you are right. What part of that is so difficult to understand ?

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By theway, March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment

Just a little note to elisalouisa:
I too was moved by the picture of Pope Benedict and Fidel Castro. In that picture, if one can read non-verbal communication Pope and Fidel disappear; in their expression you can see two old men who came from different directions but at this moment their minds met without judgment, intolerance or prejudice.

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By truedigger3, March 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

Ed Romano,

You claim that you are an agnostic and that you don’t know whether there is a “God” or not. So can you tell me please why do you insist that people agree with your uncertainty. If some one comes along and says: through reading history, contomporary events and observing life and people he had come to the conclusion that there is no “God”, then what your problem with that. Why do you insist that he admits that his thinking is flawed because some philosopher said so. I am sure another philosopher said that philospher is wrong. Philosophy and philosophers are famous for contradicting conflicting ideas and endless discussions !!
I emphasized that I don’t demand that anyone think and believe the way I do and that everyone is free to believe in anything as long his faith is a private matter!  So again what is your problem!!!??
I am starting to get really irritated with you!!.

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

Anarcessie please accept my apology for I had thought we where on the article about the guy who murdered all the civilians in Afghanistan, I see the same kind of open armed acceptance of murder in both cases as similar and for the bigotry it appears to they are. 

Actually Obama was quite and still seems the hawk, which like the opposite of Ron Paul is the heavy baggage for me towards accepting Obama. On the other hand he is providing the appearances of winding down the wars, I have little reason for acceptance of his sincerity.

No! Pardon me for speaking of the unspeakable.

War seems just part of normal business and part of opportunistic manipulations of the 99 percent, the huddled masses who need to be thinned out so sent off to war they go, just so they can be thinned out and thin out the other side at the same time while making a profit for the the ever waning entitled few.

General Butlers ‘War is a Racket’ seems no different today then after WWI, well one difference there may be more of those unapologetic Atheists running around?

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

Ed, please accept me sincerest Atheist apologizes for not getting really upset with you, by the way it would be actually be nice and explain whom we is, so I can apologize to them too? Damn it is really hard but sometimes like a broken clock, Bill is right every other day.

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By Ed Romano, March 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment

Gee LEE, You really have got a hair across it today. haven’t you ? Will it do any good for me to say that I’m not trying to get anybody to agree with me ? I am trying to get them to look at something that is obviously wrong regarding their about athieism, and maybe get them to adjust their thinking. No.It won’t do any good, of course…. So let me say that it matters not a whit to me whether you or anyone else changes their mind about anything, but gee, LEE can’t a person post something here without having to pass muster with you? Gee LEE, my patience with you has run its course. We had so much hope in you, but, gee LEE, you’re becomming a pathetic disappointment,

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By Anarcissie, March 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller, March 30 at 11:11 am:

Well Anarcissie, every post I have ever been in over time evolves into a general discussion of some sort.

As for war leading to the O, it may be the other way around, maybe you would expand on what your intended premise may be. ...

Back in 2008, when people were talking about Obama as if he were Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln and FDR all rolled into one, I went and read his web site and noted that, among other things, he was not against wars but only ‘dumb wars’.  One of his ideas for a smart war was invading Pakistan, which in fact he seems to have done, although only on a small scale.  When he came to power, however, he mostly just continued the later Bush policies: less war in Iraq, more in Afghanistan.  So, when it comes to wars, we really just have more of the same old same old.

However, one thing has changed.  During the years of Bush 2’s regime, the Democratic Party infiltrated the anti-war movement in order to use it against Bush, which was not very hard to do.  This wasn’t apparent until the accession of their man, when the movement miraculously disappeared, although the wars were still going.

I guess with Mr. Hedges on the case, it will be redundant of me to say what this means, but I will remind you that we are talking about willfully and consciously destroying the lives of innocent people for political or economic advantage—thousands of lives, just to get stuff and power and repute. 

So, what does it mean when you vote for something like that?  Why worry about Zimmerman and his kind?  He’s not running for office.

Oh, well, pardon me for speaking of the unspeakable.

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm Link to this comment

Admitting someone is wrong seems to be such a very important requirement in the ED personal perception of social intercourse.  ED, you seem to whine about it constantly. What is it you really want ED, spit it out, be clear please, seemingly setting ones self as the martyr are we? What are Atheist’s supposed to apologize to you for ED, or have not apologized to you for? My patience has run its course ED and as I stated before ED, Grow a few, the words ‘pathetic disappointment’ comes to mind, actually I am finding this becoming customary as I read some peoples comments here!

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By Ed Romano, March 30, 2012 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment

truthdigger3, It would be great if everyone came to conclusions the way you said you did…with a lot of study and soul searching. I’m not going to get into how I think most people arrive at what they say is the “truth”. That may be for another time and place, and is probably a little too hair raising for most folks. But you said you “happen to think your deductive logical thinking is not bad.” If you can deny what Spencer said, however, your thinking is seriously flawed. After a lot of study and thinking you have arrived at what seems like the best possibility. But you may be wrong. If you admit the possibility that you may be wrong - you are an agnostic, not an athiest. If, once you understand this, you continue to insist that you are an athiest….your thinking is seriously flawed.

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By Ed Romano, March 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm Link to this comment

Anarcisse. I understand that people are going to have all kinds of experiences and thoughts regarding what, if anything, lies behind the veil. Did I say or hint that I wanted to stop this from happening? All I am trying to do is show that athiests, who often
treat believers as though they are poor, benighted creatures,are just as much in the dark as the folks they look down upon. I happen to come down on the side of theism, but I will be the first to admit I may be wrong. Someone once said. ...there lives more faith in honest doubt than in all the creeds combined… Sounds a little whacky , but I think I know what it means. It is the people who say they have “faith” and then proceed as though they had “certainty” who cause a lot, if not a majority, of the problems in this world. But I have yet to meet an athiest who has the sense or humility to admit that he/she may be wrong.

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

Well after the Atheists came out of the closet and especially the outspoken ones, I seem to remember someone in Saudi Arabia trying to get the pope to side with him (fairly sure it was not a her) and make it against the law to speak aginst was it religion or god? I can only assume what the proclaimed crimes punishment was to be,... I suppose burning at the stake was so medieval or Puritan, maybe cutting off their heads would be more 21st century because we all know the whole Nazi German gas chamber thing never really happened, ah…. denial is not only a river in Egypt!

Guess the Saudis wanted to get half the people to kill the other half, maybe sterilizing those damn Atheists and propagating those Catholics makes sense if you are using osmosis to control the world. Remember hook line and sinker!

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By elisalouisa, March 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

John If Only There was Progress: “Religious leaders who sanction war, directly or tacitly.  They back the generals, who do the bidding of the real evil ones in this world.  Those who kill others and steal from them, rather than build.
Understand it or not.  There it is.”

There is what? In your haste to put the blame of war on religious leaders, the power/elite were given a clean bill of health as to wars and the sad condition of “the people.” The power/elite control our elected officials and the military, their goal is global control.  .

Lift that veil of prejudice and see the world as it really is.

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By truedigger3, March 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

Re: By Ed Romano, March 30 at 10:28 am

Ed Romano,

I came to be an atheist not through philosophy! I admit, I am very weak in philosophy and philosophy is not “my thing”. I came to atheism through reading history and observing life and the “human condition” in general. Although I am weak in philosophy, I “think” that my deductive logical thinking is not bad.
My previous post to “the way” sums up in a nutshell my thinking about atheism.
I am not claiming superiority to anybody and I am a firm believer that anyone has the right to believe in whatever s/he wants as long that does not entail claiming of superiority over the “non believers” and claiming special privilges from “God or Gods” like the Zionists claiming that they are ““God” chosen people and that “God” gave them Palestine”!!!
I am a firm believer that nobody has the right to impose his beliefs and its way of life on the rest of us because S/he thinks “that is the only way to heaven!”.
I know faith provides comfort to many people and it would have been great if faith is just private matter but unfortunately in most cases it is not and many people think “my way or the highway”!

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm Link to this comment

Well Anarcissie, every post I have ever been in over time evolves into a general discussion of some sort.

As for war leading to the O, it may be the other way around, maybe you would expand on what your intended premise may be. As for O, it is well known in the Chrurchill realm and defined class of feeble minded, ‘Obama is a black unamercian Muslim and not at all just like them!’

It seems to me this guy who killed so many civilians in Afghanistan, may have had a problem similar to zimmerman in Florida, he was hunting for little game as a member of the USA NRA the self proclaimed Patriots also otherwise known as Tea Baggers?

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By Anarcissie, March 30, 2012 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Leefeller, March 30 at 10:36 am:

Out of context but it went something like this; Napoleon stated; “Without religion, the huddled masses would eat the wealthy”.

It seems this post has been hijacked….

The article was about war, but people don’t want to talk about the war, maybe because it leads to Mr. O’s doorstep.  Or maybe they’re just tired of it, because it’s always there.  I have made a few attempts to return it to the subject to no avail—so let’s make fun of other people’s religious styles instead.

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By Anarcissie, March 30, 2012 at 11:49 am Link to this comment

Ed Romano—The problem is that some people have religious experiences which they want to deal with and make sense of in some way.  The fact that a line of thought leads to logical inconsistencies or other philosophical problems is hardly going to stop much of anyone.  Since our brains are built, out of evolutionary necessity, to organize maps of the world on very incomplete data, they’re going to often come up with gods or other ideas which can’t be directly observed, much less proved or analyzed scientifically.  When one religion is destroyed or goes out of fashion, it’s simply replaced with another, and not necessarily a better one.

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 11:44 am Link to this comment

Well Ed, according to what you posted,  it appears the agnostic wants to have its cake and eat it too, well seems more compassionate then eating babies.

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

Out of context but it went something like this; Napoleon stated; “Without religion, the huddled masses would eat the wealthy”. 

It seems this post has been hijacked and hightailed by the same mental manifestations which would keep the people divided and as the robber baron said to his fellow, “I can hire half the people to kill the other half”.

So true, speaks volumes about human nature and the concept of Eugenics, the small minded dullards must be exterminated, fixed and not be allowed to propagate like rats, ... no insult meant to the holy rat!

Well apparently Arbaian Sindbad’s wormy hook line and sinker was swallowed and did its intended job and I was beginning to have something called hope or was it an inkling of faith? 

Well for some strange reason, I am beginning to find myself in agreement with Winston Churchill’s advocating compulsory sterilization of the feeble minded and insane classes, which I can suppose his view may different then my view of what consists of those classes!

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By Ed Romano, March 30, 2012 at 11:28 am Link to this comment

truthdigger3,  In First Principles, the English philosopher Herbert Spencer put forth a argument regarding theism, atheism, and agnosticism that is difficult to refute. He said that all systerms regarding the existence of a diety lead us into inconsistencies. The theist says there is a god, but cannot proves it, and the atheist says there is none, and cannot prove it either. Both positions lead us, said Spence, into inconceivabilities. Therefore, the most logical position is that of the agnostic who says, maybe there is and maybe there isn’t. I cannot say yes and I cannot say no. Who takes this stand is an agnostic.
  Therefore, atheists are not in any better position philosophically than theists, although they often assume that they are more enlightened and superior to theists, they are in opposite ends of the same boat.

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By truedigger3, March 30, 2012 at 11:08 am Link to this comment

Re: By theway, March 30 at 4:02 am

theway wrote:

“Atheism is no different from any other blind belief. There is so much we do not know and probably will never know”
——————————————————————————
theway,
With all due respect, you are flat out wrong.
Atheism is not another blind belief! Most atheists arrived to atheism after a lot of thinking and observation and a lot of reading in history and the human conddition in general. For many, arriving to atheism was a paiful process and in some cases produced a life crisis for some time. It is not easy to discover that the core belief that was handed down by your parents and that almost everyone close to you believe in it, is a lie and a creation of fertile imagination!
You write that there is so much we do not know and I agree with you, however that is not a good justification to believe in the nearest superstition, but a good reason to push forward in trying to discover more about the world and life through science. There was a time not far in the past when people thought that diseases, lightenings and earthquakes were messages, punishments or omens from “Gods”!
By the way, there are several hundreds different religions and sects in the world. Along history religions and “Gods” came and went. Everyone thinks or thought that his religion is the “only way”! What that tell you?!

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 30, 2012 at 10:41 am Link to this comment

Anarchissie….... when we have references to bible verses inscribed on the scopes of the soldiers rifles, what is the message?  What happens at the level of the soldier is what counts, not what the president says.  They are smart to distance themselves from the immediate dirty work of indoctrinating the troops.  That dirty work is left for the chaplains.

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By Ed Romano, March 30, 2012 at 10:31 am Link to this comment

Anarcisse, I’d like to suggest that this is what religion has to do with it…the power mongers use it to get the sheep to support their blasphenous attempts to increase their power.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 30, 2012 at 10:10 am Link to this comment

Elisa, we have a ‘crusades mentality’ in my country.  What is the point of re-hashing the symptoms if we don’t get to the causes? The tools? 

The bright sunny optimistic side of religion needs no examination… It is the dark side we must bring to the light if the situations in Mr. Hedges article are not be be lived over, and over and over.  This is nothing new at all, it is history repeating itself, precisely because people don’t examine the dark side of religion.  They are discouraged from doing so.  Why?  The money of course.  Without religion to cover for the real reasons for way (theft) the common man wouldn’t go for it.  The fighting, bleeding, dying infantry man has the morals not to steal, but he will fight for a ‘higher cause’.  He will commit the ultimate sacrifice to protect his own people, and vanquish enemies.  The higher cause?  It’s taken on faith.  Religious leaders who sanction war, directly or tacitly.  They back the generals, who do the bidding of the real evil ones in this world.  Those who kill others and steal from them, rather than build.

Understand it or not.  There it is.  I’m not going to try to convince you any more.

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By Anarcissie, March 30, 2012 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

Bush 1 doesn’t say much about religion, bombs Middle East, kills thousands.  Clinton also lies low, bombs Middle East, kills thousands.  Bush 2 claims God is telling him what to do, bombs Middle East, kills thousands.  Obama reverts to previous method of dealing with God, bombs Middle East, kills thousands.  What’s religion got to do with it?

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 30, 2012 at 9:51 am Link to this comment

Ed, thanks for that.  If one looks at what Jesus said and did, it was a completely new way for mankind.  A better way.  The only reason I don’t call myself a ‘Christian’ is that the word has been hijacked too.

But I do believe that if we follow what was laid out in the New Testament, it would be a much much better world.  The problem as you reinforce, is that so many charlatans have figured out how to use Christianity and the other major religions to manipulate people horribly. 

If anybody thinks Jesus was not a pacifist, and opposed to war….....show me the scripture.  And to those sorry souls who think this thread has been hijacked…....bullshit.  If people want to commit murder and war, then please do it without relying on ‘the faithful’ to do your dirty work.  I’d like to see Hedges and a few more than just Hedges address this aspect of religion…..it’s mis-use by unworthy religious leaders and political leaders.

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By elisalouisa, March 30, 2012 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

You say we are on a thread “where atrocities are being highlighted, and rightly so by Mr. Hedges. I suspect that is your only comment as to the facts stated in “Murder is not an Anomoly of War” on this entire thread. No commitment there. No zeal as there is when religion is the subject. Then the wars come alive don’t they John? Why? Aren’t you closer to the atrocities committed by your country for the enrichment of the power/elite? Your tax dollars help pay for these the perpetual wars that cause mayhem, maim the innocent, starve people and ravage the earth.

As to religion, you only see the dark side John, which is less than good. It could be said that such opinions concerning religion border on being judgmental.

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By Ed Romano, March 30, 2012 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

John, I think this post, where you explain that you are not opposed to religious faith as such , but only opposed to it when it is hijacked ( as the republicans have done ) for evil purposes….I think your post explains the thinking of people who are grounded in the teachings of Christ as opposed to the teachings of the mainline chirches. It is one of the best things you’ve posted. I don’t see how reasonable people can disagree with it. ( Oh no, Ed ? Watch what follows ).

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 30, 2012 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

Elisa, name calling isn’t called for.  We are on a thread, yes, where atrocities are being highlighted, and rightly so by Mr. Hedges.  I am not against religion by any means, but I am against the hijacking of religion to be used as a tool to carry out those atrocities.  The abuse of peoples faith, and people putting their faith in the wrong people is a fundamental cause of misery among the poor and weak people of this world.

If you want to call me ‘less than good’, that’s fine, because it is the willful ignorance of self-proclaimed ‘good people’ who, through a cop-out like faith end up supporting the worst among us. 

How many tyrants in history were supported by the faith of the poor?  You probably won’t be able to open your eyes.  If you did it would be too sickening.  People choose a more comfortable path.  And other people die….....it’s always other people.

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By Leefeller, March 30, 2012 at 9:13 am Link to this comment

My suspicions are those who would be more inclined to find differences threatening and feel the need to destroy them are most likely authoritarian in nature. Recently reading on the history of Eugenics I am fascinated by what appears a dove tailing for the need of wars and even the recent attack on women being a residue from the same basic premise towards differences, in this case sexist.

Especially with the recent OWS protests, I see the powers that be working overtime to address this problem in their usual unenlightened entitled ways. It seems the dirty masses may be getting uppity and we cannot have this kind of thing going on, maybe we need another war, Iran seems a likely prospect to thin out the dullards.

What I find so damn amusing about Eugenics is the people making very Rush Limbaugh like comments about people of differencewhen looking at them, I ask who is calling the kettle black? The recent attack on Fluke, the boy who was killed in Florida, the list goes on. 

I see little different between the authoritarian self righteous then the promoters of Eugenics in the past. We have all heard the comments about OWS, they are dirty, sluggards, feeble minded and insane if one does not accept and believe the ideals of the self selected few who would place Virgina Woolf on a pedestal along with Ann Rand!

By the way, I feel Eloisa’s same respect for Castro, because he called attention to the unfairness of the few, in a way he attacked disenfranchisement like OWS is attempting and won, leaving his personal proclivity’s aside, damn Cuba even has socialized medicine and so does that damn Canada, we are surrounded.

Again socialized medic care goes against the concept of Eugenics, as Ron Paul said, let them die if they cannot afford medical Insurance!

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By elisalouisa, March 30, 2012 at 9:08 am Link to this comment

John Less than Good:And these same poor people are the ones who fight each other and die in wars. 

You are on a thread where such horrors have been brought to the forefront by Chris Hedges yet your posts continually address lesser issues, until religion becomes the subject. The real John then comes alive with remarks that lean toward prejudice to say the least.  Look in your own house first, namely your country and the atrocities of the perpetual wars that are being waged, where people of all backgrounds are fighting each other and dying. Open your eyes to that horror, if you can.

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By Anarcissie, March 30, 2012 at 9:02 am Link to this comment

Ozark Michael—I have yet to see a commentary on Milgram’s experiment, which has been discussed for decades, in which it was not understood that the actors played lab technicians, bureaucrats, and the like.  A significant aspect of the experiment was that the ‘authorities’ apparently commanding torture were not traditional authority figures.

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John Best asks,

By John Best asks, "What IS Progress"?, March 30, 2012 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

Yes, Lee, when you can’t make a good case for something, out comes the name calling.  And once you’re branded as a ‘leftist’, or ‘liberal’, or ‘non-believer’  civility goes out the window.  How convenient if one wishes to go to war.  These people make my point perfectly.

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