"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


-> What Might Have Been

-> Those Difficult Ethical Questions

-> Free Speech Means Equal Airtime

-> Can Islam Be Reformed?

-> Arafat

-> The Wisdom of Savages

-> Big Trouble in Little Fallujah

-> An Interesting Question...

-> Cox and Forkum - Democracy is

-> Quote of the Day

07/18/2004 - 07/25/2004

07/25/2004 - 08/01/2004

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08/22/2004 - 08/29/2004

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09/19/2004 - 09/26/2004

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10/03/2004 - 10/10/2004

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10/17/2004 - 10/24/2004

10/24/2004 - 10/31/2004

10/31/2004 - 11/07/2004

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11/14/2004 - 11/21/2004

11/21/2004 - 11/28/2004

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12/12/2004 - 12/19/2004

12/19/2004 - 12/26/2004

12/26/2004 - 01/02/2005

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01/23/2005 - 01/30/2005

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02/13/2005 - 02/20/2005

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03/27/2005 - 04/03/2005

04/03/2005 - 04/10/2005

04/10/2005 - 04/17/2005

04/17/2005 - 04/24/2005

07/03/2005 - 07/10/2005

Saturday, October 30, 2004
  Nihilism vs. Religion
I said that I would post my thoughts on which group is worse, the nihilistic left or the religious right, so here goes. The left has imploded; while they still control massive parts of the country (college and media), they are like Arafat - death is on the way. There is nothing vital in their philosophy any longer; indeed, nothing unifies the left except for their hatred. Their hatred of capitalism, of freedom, of religion. This is a major source of their weakness today; they are capable of destruction, but have nothing positive to replace what they have destroyed.

As a result, the various groups of lefties are fragmented. The analogy for the left which comes to mind is that they are to the culture what David Hume was to philosophy - their skepticism and subjectivism are slowly (and sometimes rapidly) eating away at the vestiges of rationality. But they have left a vacuum in its place.

If the left is David Hume, then the conservatives are Immanuel Kant. Like Kant, the modern day Humes have roused the conservatives from a deep slumber. They have gone from a splintered, ineffectual group to a unified one, dedicated to implementing their morality in politics. In contrast to the left, which has nothing to unite them, the conservatives are united. They may quibble over details, but in essence they agree on fundamentals. The religion of Christianity unites them, and they are actively working to break down the remaining parts of the wall separating church and state.

What is worse, they are openly and avowedly irrational, and this is not seen in a bad light (I owe this point to Onkar Ghate). Indeed, faith is their central, fundamental value. That this does not turn off more American's is disturbing; the left never did and still can't get by with appeals to faith as their primary.

The left also seems to be much more concrete bound than the right. I think this is partly due to the opposing natures of the two groups - the left is splintered, while the conservatives are united. Without a single philosophy to unite the movement, the only alternative is to have disparate groups randomly fighting different (and oftentimes non-essential) battles.

The conservatives, by contrast, are fighting the essential battles, and fighting them step by step. Abortion is the clearest example to date; the right knows that it is impossible to eliminate abortions overnight. They are extremely practical in this regard, and principled. They have taken essential steps on the road to banning abortions, passing the Laci Peterson law (which treats the murder of a pregnant woman as a double homicide, implicitly upholding the idea that a fetus is a human being) and the partial birth abortion ban. The latter bill doesn't even allow exceptions where the health or life of the mother are in jeopardy. We can see similar examples in the anti-Gay marriage constitutional amendment proposed by President Bush (and the similar measures in something like 10 states), as well as in President Bush's support for Faith based groups.

A poignant example of the faith based groups is a prison in Florida. It features an anger management class led by a Christian minister, in a church! While no one is forced to convert, nearly all the inmates have. And their "stretch" is notoriously easier than in other prisons! Imagine the scandal if Objectivism were given complete control over anger management course at any prison!

Thus overall I am most alarmed and afraid of the right; they are just as destructive as the left in principle, except that today they are more deliberate, united and effective in achieving their goals. I have little fear of a communist dictatorship evolving here; a fascist theocracy, however, appears all the more likely if the religious right is not stopped.

This is really the central reason that I am voting for Kerry on Nov. 2 (aside from the fact that Bush is incompetent and will make us less safe, not more). Kerry, as I've said before, is god awful. But he is not principled. I disagree with those who see him as emblematic of the New Left. He is a politician, pure and simple; he will say and do whatever he has to stay in power - that is the John Kerry I've seen. He is a flip-flopper and an opportunist; and while these things are reprehensible, they are damn near palatable when put up against a consistent, principled theocrat (namely, Bush). Kerry will do all kinds of horrible things as President - but I think they will be random things, which won't add up or accumulate to anything at the end of four years.

Bush will also do horrible things, but they will add up, and I think lay the foundation for much worse things to come. And to be frank, I don't think four more years of Bush will be heavy on foreign policy; Bush is not going to make any major offensives against Iran or North Korea (or anybody else). He'll see Iraq to "elections" (a.k.a., Islamic theocracy), and let Israel bomb Iran if they are too close to developing a nuclear weapon. He'll attempt to continue the six party song-and-dance with North Korea, and instead focus the majority of his term on domestic issues.

As a final point, I want to take issue with the idea that since Bush hasn't made religion the central plank of his campaign, he isn't entirely despicable or unpalatable. I disagree 100%. I would argue that the absence of religion from such a religious man is much more telling. Here I take the RNC 2004 as instructive. I think many people were relieved when they saw secular republicans given prominent speaking roles (namely, McCain, Giuliani, Pataki and Schwartzenneger).

But this relief is pyrrhic. For while they were given prominent positions (and Buchanan, Robertson and Falwell were all absent), they only spoke to defense issues. There was no mention of differing views on abortion or homosexuality (both issues where each of the speakers differ from the Republican core). I think this was deliberately engineered to draw in secular Republicans, who would be given a false sense of comfort from the lack of religiosity present, while the conservative base would already know that "their" guy was running the show. Bush and the conservatives know that they can't inject religion into politics explicitly; that failed abjectly during the RNC in 1996. They know that they can't make further inroads if they don't get re-elected, and so they have chosen to mute religion and exploit defense, knowing that this will bring in more votes.

This newfound subtlety makes me all the more nervous - worse than unabashed and unapologetic religion is one that is calculating in its political policies. The pure, consistent poison would kill us instantly (and thus be rejected today); the watered down brand will slowly poison us, and most American's won't notice it until its too late.

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