24 Nov, 14 > 30 Nov, 14
7 Jul, 14 > 13 Jul, 14
27 Jan, 14 > 2 Feb, 14
13 Jan, 14 > 19 Jan, 14
11 Mar, 13 > 17 Mar, 13
21 Jan, 13 > 27 Jan, 13
23 Jan, 12 > 29 Jan, 12
5 Dec, 11 > 11 Dec, 11
24 Oct, 11 > 30 Oct, 11
17 Oct, 11 > 23 Oct, 11
3 Oct, 11 > 9 Oct, 11
15 Aug, 11 > 21 Aug, 11
28 Mar, 11 > 3 Apr, 11
7 Mar, 11 > 13 Mar, 11
21 Feb, 11 > 27 Feb, 11
17 Jan, 11 > 23 Jan, 11
10 Jan, 11 > 16 Jan, 11
20 Dec, 10 > 26 Dec, 10
13 Dec, 10 > 19 Dec, 10
29 Nov, 10 > 5 Dec, 10
22 Nov, 10 > 28 Nov, 10
15 Nov, 10 > 21 Nov, 10
1 Nov, 10 > 7 Nov, 10
25 Oct, 10 > 31 Oct, 10
11 Oct, 10 > 17 Oct, 10
4 Oct, 10 > 10 Oct, 10
27 Sep, 10 > 3 Oct, 10
13 Sep, 10 > 19 Sep, 10
6 Sep, 10 > 12 Sep, 10
30 Aug, 10 > 5 Sep, 10
9 Aug, 10 > 15 Aug, 10
5 Jul, 10 > 11 Jul, 10
24 May, 10 > 30 May, 10
26 Apr, 10 > 2 May, 10
19 Apr, 10 > 25 Apr, 10
29 Mar, 10 > 4 Apr, 10
4 Jan, 10 > 10 Jan, 10
28 Dec, 09 > 3 Jan, 10
23 Nov, 09 > 29 Nov, 09
24 Aug, 09 > 30 Aug, 09
16 Mar, 09 > 22 Mar, 09
2 Feb, 09 > 8 Feb, 09
1 Sep, 08 > 7 Sep, 08
28 Jul, 08 > 3 Aug, 08
9 Jun, 08 > 15 Jun, 08
19 May, 08 > 25 May, 08
12 May, 08 > 18 May, 08
5 May, 08 > 11 May, 08
21 Apr, 08 > 27 Apr, 08
7 Apr, 08 > 13 Apr, 08
17 Mar, 08 > 23 Mar, 08
25 Feb, 08 > 2 Mar, 08
18 Feb, 08 > 24 Feb, 08
11 Feb, 08 > 17 Feb, 08
21 Jan, 08 > 27 Jan, 08
7 Jan, 08 > 13 Jan, 08
31 Dec, 07 > 6 Jan, 08
17 Dec, 07 > 23 Dec, 07
10 Dec, 07 > 16 Dec, 07
12 Nov, 07 > 18 Nov, 07
22 Oct, 07 > 28 Oct, 07
20 Aug, 07 > 26 Aug, 07
23 Jul, 07 > 29 Jul, 07
30 Apr, 07 > 6 May, 07
9 Apr, 07 > 15 Apr, 07
2 Apr, 07 > 8 Apr, 07
26 Mar, 07 > 1 Apr, 07
5 Mar, 07 > 11 Mar, 07
26 Feb, 07 > 4 Mar, 07
12 Feb, 07 > 18 Feb, 07
29 Jan, 07 > 4 Feb, 07
8 Jan, 07 > 14 Jan, 07
30 Oct, 06 > 5 Nov, 06
23 Oct, 06 > 29 Oct, 06
16 Oct, 06 > 22 Oct, 06
9 Oct, 06 > 15 Oct, 06
2 Oct, 06 > 8 Oct, 06
18 Sep, 06 > 24 Sep, 06
28 Aug, 06 > 3 Sep, 06
21 Aug, 06 > 27 Aug, 06
10 Jul, 06 > 16 Jul, 06
26 Jun, 06 > 2 Jul, 06
12 Jun, 06 > 18 Jun, 06
5 Jun, 06 > 11 Jun, 06
22 May, 06 > 28 May, 06
15 May, 06 > 21 May, 06
8 May, 06 > 14 May, 06
1 May, 06 > 7 May, 06
10 Apr, 06 > 16 Apr, 06
27 Mar, 06 > 2 Apr, 06
13 Mar, 06 > 19 Mar, 06
6 Mar, 06 > 12 Mar, 06
20 Feb, 06 > 26 Feb, 06
13 Feb, 06 > 19 Feb, 06
6 Feb, 06 > 12 Feb, 06
30 Jan, 06 > 5 Feb, 06
23 Jan, 06 > 29 Jan, 06
9 Jan, 06 > 15 Jan, 06
19 Dec, 05 > 25 Dec, 05
12 Dec, 05 > 18 Dec, 05
21 Nov, 05 > 27 Nov, 05
7 Nov, 05 > 13 Nov, 05
24 Oct, 05 > 30 Oct, 05
17 Oct, 05 > 23 Oct, 05
3 Oct, 05 > 9 Oct, 05
26 Sep, 05 > 2 Oct, 05
12 Sep, 05 > 18 Sep, 05
29 Aug, 05 > 4 Sep, 05
22 Aug, 05 > 28 Aug, 05
15 Aug, 05 > 21 Aug, 05
1 Aug, 05 > 7 Aug, 05
4 Jul, 05 > 10 Jul, 05
27 Jun, 05 > 3 Jul, 05
20 Jun, 05 > 26 Jun, 05
6 Jun, 05 > 12 Jun, 05
30 May, 05 > 5 Jun, 05
23 May, 05 > 29 May, 05
9 May, 05 > 15 May, 05
2 May, 05 > 8 May, 05
25 Apr, 05 > 1 May, 05
18 Apr, 05 > 24 Apr, 05
4 Apr, 05 > 10 Apr, 05
21 Mar, 05 > 27 Mar, 05
14 Mar, 05 > 20 Mar, 05
7 Mar, 05 > 13 Mar, 05
28 Feb, 05 > 6 Mar, 05
21 Feb, 05 > 27 Feb, 05
31 Jan, 05 > 6 Feb, 05
10 Jan, 05 > 16 Jan, 05
3 Jan, 05 > 9 Jan, 05
22 Nov, 04 > 28 Nov, 04
1 Nov, 04 > 7 Nov, 04
25 Oct, 04 > 31 Oct, 04
2 Aug, 04 > 8 Aug, 04
19 Jul, 04 > 25 Jul, 04
21 Jun, 04 > 27 Jun, 04
17 May, 04 > 23 May, 04
22 Mar, 04 > 28 Mar, 04
8 Mar, 04 > 14 Mar, 04
23 Feb, 04 > 29 Feb, 04
26 Jan, 04 > 1 Feb, 04
17 Nov, 03 > 23 Nov, 03
10 Nov, 03 > 16 Nov, 03
3 Nov, 03 > 9 Nov, 03
20 Oct, 03 > 26 Oct, 03
13 Oct, 03 > 19 Oct, 03
22 Sep, 03 > 28 Sep, 03
15 Sep, 03 > 21 Sep, 03
8 Sep, 03 > 14 Sep, 03
4 Aug, 03 > 10 Aug, 03
28 Apr, 03 > 4 May, 03
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
 Commentary on Pope Benedict XVI's Speech (Part I)

Topic: Commentary

Full transcript of the Pope's speech:,,1873277,00.html

With all of the media attention paid to the Pope's remarks about Mohammad being a spreader of evil, many of the points of the Pope's speech were actually missed. Aside from the Pope's comments on Mohammad, however, the rest of the speech follows the typical Catholic line of argument, and things that have all been heard before by those who are familiar with such speeches, so perhaps the ignoring of the rest of the speech is to be expected. As is typical, the rest of the speech, titled Faith, reason and the university: memories and reflections, made the argument that, or course, the Catholic faith is the rock upon with reason rests, that Platonism is a part of the foundation of both Christianity and the scientific worldview, etc.

Aside from the statements about spreading faith by violence, which the Pope began his speech with, the rest of the speech makes the argument that religion should be spread by reason, and that lack of faith, is, indeed “unreasonable”. As is usual, the Church here misportrays reality, and twists the discussion to first their own agenda.

There are two issues to address here, which I will address in separate posts, first is the issue of spreading the faith by violence.

While the Pope was correct to point out the fact that Islam is a religion whose faith has been spread by violence, he was wrong to ignore the fact that both Judaism and Christianity were also spread by violence. In fact, all three of these religions have the same violent roots. Both Christianity and Islam are based on Judaism, from which they inherit their violent nature.

For the Pope to point out the violent past of Islam and then try to portray the Catholic Church as an institution of “reason and peace” is really quite a twisting of reality. Specifically, this is what the Pope had to say:

“Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably ... is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".”

Here the Pope has portrayed violence as the Islamic was, and peaceful reason as the Catholic way, yet in reality Catholicism was spread and enforced upon the Roman Empire with many times more violence than has even been seen in the Islamic world. One of the most violent and destructive acts in human history prior to World War I and World War II was the establishment of Catholicism in the Roman world. The destruction in Greece was particularly appalling.

But, the problem is that the Catholic Church today has the seemingly impossible task of reforming itself into a “tolerant and pluralistic” faith. This is really a complete impossibility for any of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

All of these religions are founded on violence, intolerance, and exclusion. These are not faiths that were ever intended for an open pluralistic society, they are, in fact, designed to be just the opposite, they are faiths designed to conquer, subdue, and bring everyone under the same institutions.

Indeed the rise of Christianity marked the destruction of the previously existing open pluralistic and tolerant culture of the Roman Empire, where thousands of different religions existed, alongside many non-religious schools of philosophy. The reason that the Romans persecuted Christianity at first was because they feared its intolerance and single minded objective of the conversion and conquest of all people. They could see plainly that it stood for the end of their pluralistic way of life, and so they fought against it, resulting eventually in many civil wars that helped to bring destruction and ruin to the empire.

The same thing happened in Persia with the rise of Islam. Persia was once one of the most open, tolerant, and scientifically advanced cultures in the world, some 2,000+ years ago. With the rise of Islam, however, those things changed.

Let us take a look at the roots of violence in these imperialist religions:

Judaism (Old Testament):

Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)

Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed. (Exodus 22:19 NAB)

They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)

If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, "You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord." When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through. (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)

Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. "The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him." (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, has done evil in the sight of the LORD your God and has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)

One day a man who had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got into a fight with one of the Israelite men. During the fight, this son of an Israelite woman blasphemed the LORD's name. So the man was brought to Moses for judgment. His mother's name was Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They put the man in custody until the LORD's will in the matter should become clear. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard him to lay their hands on his head. Then let the entire community stone him to death. Say to the people of Israel: Those who blaspheme God will suffer the consequences of their guilt and be punished. Anyone who blasphemes the LORD's name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel. Any Israelite or foreigner among you who blasphemes the LORD's name will surely die. (Leviticus 24:10-16 NLT)

Suppose there are prophets among you, or those who have dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles take place. If the prophets then say, 'Come, let us worship the gods of foreign nations,' do not listen to them. The LORD your God is testing you to see if you love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. The false prophets or dreamers who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of slavery in the land of Egypt. Since they try to keep you from following the LORD your God, you must execute them to remove the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NLT)

But any prophet who claims to give a message from another god or who falsely claims to speak for me must die.' You may wonder, 'How will we know whether the prophecy is from the LORD or not?' If the prophet predicts something in the LORD's name and it does not happen, the LORD did not give the message. That prophet has spoken on his own and need not be feared. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NLT)

Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood. (Jeremiah 48:10 NAB)

While the Israelites were camped at Acacia, some of the men defiled themselves by sleeping with the local Moabite women.  These women invited them to attend sacrifices to their gods, and soon the Israelites were feasting with them and worshiping the gods of Moab.  Before long Israel was joining in the worship of Baal of Peor, causing the LORD's anger to blaze against his people.  The LORD issued the following command to Moses: "Seize all the ringleaders and execute them before the LORD in broad daylight, so his fierce anger will turn away from the people of Israel."  So Moses ordered Israel's judges to execute everyone who had joined in worshiping Baal of Peor.  Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into the camp, right before the eyes of Moses and all the people, as they were weeping at the entrance of the Tabernacle.  When Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly.  Then he took a spear and rushed after the man into his tent. Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man's body and into the woman's stomach.  So the plague against the Israelites was stopped, but not before 24,000 people had died.  (Numbers 25:1-9 NLT)

Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD, for the awesome day of the LORD's judgment has come.  The LORD has prepared his people for a great slaughter and has chosen their executioners.  "On that day of judgment," says the LORD, "I will punish the leaders and princes of Judah and all those following pagan customs.  Yes, I will punish those who participate in pagan worship ceremonies, and those who steal and kill to fill their masters' homes with loot.  "On that day," says the LORD, "a cry of alarm will come from the Fish Gate and echo throughout the newer Mishneh section of the city. And a great crashing sound will come from the surrounding hills.  Wail in sorrow, all you who live in the market area, for all who buy and sell there will die.  "I will search with lanterns in Jerusalem's darkest corners to find and punish those who sit contented in their sins, indifferent to the LORD, thinking he will do nothing at all to them.  They are the very ones whose property will be plundered by the enemy, whose homes will be ransacked.  They will never have a chance to live in the new homes they have built.  They will never drink wine from the vineyards they have planted.  "That terrible day of the LORD is near.  Swiftly it comes – a day when strong men will cry bitterly.  It is a day when the LORD's anger will be poured out.  It is a day of terrible distress and anguish, a day of ruin and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, of clouds, blackness, trumpet calls, and battle cries. Down go the walled cities and strongest battlements!  "Because you have sinned against the LORD, I will make you as helpless as a blind man searching for a path.  Your blood will be poured out into the dust, and your bodies will lie there rotting on the ground."  Your silver and gold will be of no use to you on that day of the LORD's anger.  For the whole land will be devoured by the fire of his jealousy.  He will make a terrifying end of all the people on earth.   (Zephaniah 1:7:18 NLT)

Continued below... 

Posted by at 11:55 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 5:11 PM EDT
 Commentary on Pope Benedict XVI's Speech (Partt II)

Topic: Commentary

Christianity (New Testament):

21"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 10)

32 "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn

   " 'a man against his father,

      a daughter against her mother,

   a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw—

    36 a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

 37 "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10)

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6)

Islam (The Qur'an):

2:193: And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and (all and every kind of) worship is for Allah (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)

9: 12: But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion with disapproval and criticism then fight (you) the leaders of disbelief (chiefs of Quraish - pagans of Makkah) - for surely their oaths are nothing to them - so that they may stop (evil actions).

9: 13: Will you not fight a people who have violated their oaths (pagans of Makkah) and intended to expel the Messenger, while they did attack you first? Do you fear them? Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are believers.

9:14: Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people,

9:26: Then Allah did send down His Sakinah (calmness, tranquillity and reassurance, etc.) on the Messenger (Muhammad), and on the believers, and sent down forces (angels) which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of disbelievers.

9:29: Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

47:4 So, when you meet (in fight Jihad in Allah's Cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out Jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allah's Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the Way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost,

47:5: He will guide them and set right their state.

47: 9: But those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism), for them is destruction, and (Allah) will make their deeds vain.

47:10: That is because they hate that which Allah has sent down (this Qur'an and Islamic laws, etc.), so He has made their deeds fruitless.

47:11: Have they not travelled through the earth, and seen what was the end of those before them? Allah destroyed them completely and a similar (fate awaits) the disbelievers.

There is less overt violence or calls for the killing of others in the New Testament than in the Old Testament or the Qur'an, however the message of the New Testament is still that there is only one true god, and everyone should follow that god. The New Testament is still filled with violent imagery, end of the world doomsday prophesies, and calls to “spread the faith at any cost”. Moreover, the actions of the Christians themselves, both prior to coming to power, and especially after they had gained control in Rome, speak to the relentless violence brought about by the religion.


1. The Emperors Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius to the people of the City of Constantinople.

We desire that all peoples subject to Our benign Empire shall live under the same religion that the Divine Peter, the Apostle, gave to the Romans, and which the said religion declares was introduced by himself, and which it is well known that the Pontiff Damasus, and Peter, Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, embraced; that is to say, in accordance with the rules of apostolic discipline and the evangelical doctrine, we should believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit constitute a single Deity, endowed with equal majesty, and united in the Holy Trinity.

(1) We order all those who follow this law to assume the name of Catholic Christians, and considering others as demented and insane, We order that they shall bear the infamy of heresy; and when the Divine vengeance which they merit has been appeased, they shall afterwards be punished in accordance with Our resentment, which we have acquired from the judgment of Heaven.

Dated at Thessalonica, on the third of the Kalends of March, during the Consulate of Gratian, Consul for the fifth time, and Theodosius.

2. The Same Emperors to Eutropius, Prætorian Prefect.

Let no place be afforded to heretics for the conduct of their ceremonies, and let no occasion be offered for them to display the insanity of their obstinate minds. Let all persons know that if any privilege has been fraudulently obtained by means of any rescript whatsoever, by persons of this kind, it will not be valid. Let all bodies of heretics be prevented from holding unlawful assemblies, and let the name of the only and the greatest God be celebrated everywhere, and let the observance of the Nicene Creed, recently transmitted by Our ancestors, and firmly established by the testimony and practice of Divine Religion, always remain secure.

(1) Moreover, he who is an adherent of the Nicene Faith, and a true believer in the Catholic religion, should be understood to be one who believes that Almighty God and Christ, the Son of God, are one person, God of God, Light of Light; and let no one, by rejection, dishonor the Holy Spirit, whom we expect, and have received from the Supreme Parent of all things, in whom the sentiment of a pure and undefiled faith flourishes, as well as the belief in the undivided substance of a Holy Trinity, which true believers indicate by the Greek word .... These things, indeed, do not require further proof, and should be respected.

(2) Let those who do not accept these doctrines cease to apply the name of true religion to their fraudulent belief; and let them be branded with their open crimes, and, having been removed from the threshhold of all churches, be utterly excluded from them, as We forbid all heretics to hold unlawful assemblies within cities. If, however, any seditious outbreak should be attempted, We order them to be driven outside the walls of the City, with relentless violence, and We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.

Given at Constantinople, on the fourth of the Ides of January, under the Consulate of Flavius Eucharius and Flavius Syagrius.
- The Code of Justinian; 529-534 CE

Pluralism and tolerance are simply incompatible with these religions. Countless people come to the defense of these religions, and Rabbis, Popes, Preachers, and Imams go to pains to continuously say that “our religion is a religion of peace”, “violence is not a part of our faith”, etc., but the problem is that violence is a part of these faiths, and it doesn't matter how many times people try to claim otherwise, those people who actually believe in these religions, and believe that these religions “are true”, are going to study them for themselves and they are going to see, plain and simple, that all of these religions endorse a worldview of violence, exclusion, and intolerance.

People who want a peaceful world, yet also believe in these faiths, will try as they might to twist and turn the words in order to dismiss them and interpret them in “the true way”, which just mean their own way, but you can't say that a religion “is formed from the true Word and Will of God”, and then try to edit that same “word” and “will”. The will of the god of these religions is violent destruction of all those who oppose the faith.

These are imperialist religions, how else do you think it is that they came to be so dominant?

While the Pope was right to point out the history of violence associated with Islam, he was wrong to ignore the history of violence associated with Christianity, most of which the Catholic Church itself is responsible for. Those who believe that these religions are “religions of peace” are simply fooling themselves. They are religions of peace just like Nazism was an ideology of peace. The Nazis preached peace too, the same kind of peace, the peace that would come after the whole world was converted to their way and under their authority.

Of all these nations God our Lord gave charge to one man, called St. Peter, that he should be Lord and Superior of all the men in the world, that all should obey him, and that he should be the head of the whole human race, wherever men should live, and under whatever law, sect, or belief they should be; and he gave him the world for his kingdom and jurisdiction.

And he [The Lord] commanded him to place his seat in Rome, as the spot most fitting to rule the world from; but also he permitted him to have his seat in any other part of the world, and to judge and govern all Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, and all other sects. This man was called Pope, as if to say, Admirable Great Father and Governor of men. The men who lived in that time obeyed that St. Peter, and took him for Lord, King, and Superior of the universe; so also they have regarded the others who after him have been elected to the pontificate, and so has it been continued even till now, and will continue till the end of the world.


Wherefore, as best we can, we ask and require you that you consider what we have said to you, and that you take the time that shall be necessary to understand and deliberate upon it, and that you acknowledge the Church as the Ruler and Superior of the whole world, and the high priest called Pope, and in his name the King and Queen Doña Juana our lords, in his place, as superiors and lords and kings of these islands and this Tierra-firme by virtue of the said donation, and that you consent and give place that these religious fathers should declare and preach to you the aforesaid.


But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us. And that we have said this to you and made this Requisition, we request the notary here present to give us his testimony in writing, and we ask the rest who are present that they should be witnesses of this Requisition.
- Requerimiento, (Issued by the Catholic Church in1510)

These religions neither preach nor offer peace, the only peace that they offer is peace after death. Religions that preach eternal reward and bliss after death are never going to be conducive to peace and happiness on earth, and this applies equally to the religion of the Pope and to Islam.

Posted by at 11:55 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, September 20, 2006 5:08 PM EDT
Friday, September 1, 2006
 Why I Support Israel

Topic: Commentary

Due to the recent firing of Air America radio host Mike Malloy, there has been much discussion about the role his criticism of Israel may have played in his firing. As a part of this discussion, more criticism of Israel has come up.

It seems that many people "on the left" feel that they should be anti-Israeli or at least heavily critical of Israel, and some even feel that they should be supporting Palestinian and Lebanese "resistance groups".

I must say that this is a completely reprehensible and backwards situation.

First of all, a lot of this has to do with several factors.

  1.  Noam Chomsky, who is idolized by many "leftists", is pro-Islamic resistance, because he is pro any kind of resistance to America.
  2. The Palestinian liberation movement was originally a leftist, even a Marxist, movement... 20 years ago.
  3. People like the underdogs and they hate the dominant groups. Israel is seen as dominant and they have the support of America.
  4. In the past 10 or 15 years many American Fundamentalists have become rabid supporters" of Israel.

This is a very unfortunate situation, because the issues are complex and many people are confused.

First, Noam Chomsky, while he does have his legitimate points, and has made many contributions to leftist political scholarship in the last 30 years, is simply wrong on so many points. He is wrong as a linguist about the nature of language and the propensity of animals to acquire language. He is wrong in his post-modernist views about there not being any meaningful reality and that "all values are equal", etc. He is wrong in his belief that "democracy makes right". He is wrong in his attitude towards America, that essentially whatever is bad for America must be good, which is utter nonsense.

The fact of the matter is that, overall, in the big scheme of things, America is still a relatively liberal place, and America is still one of the primary bastions of civilization in the world, as is Israel. Yes, some countries are indeed better than others, some values are better than others, some ways of life are better than others. America is far from perfect, but neither America nor Israel deserve to be sacrificed to religious fundamentalist barbarians, either internal ones or external ones. Secular liberals have a hard enough time fighitng against internal religious fundamentalists in both America and Israel, we don't need more problems by fighting against the external ones too. Opposition to religious extremism requires a united front, we can't have a large porition of the so-called "leftists" supporting radical Islamic fundamentalists in a war against Israel, that's just insane.

Secondly, yes, the Palestinian liberation movement of the 1970s and 1980s was led by Marxists and other leftists groups, but in case you didn't notice, those guys are no longer in the picture. They have been replaced by ultra-right-wing Islamo-fascists, to use a phrase from President Bush. Again, just because Bush calls them Islamo-fascists doesn't mean that they aren't. I don't like Bush, but I'm not going to spite Bush by supporting radical Islamic terrorists either.

Thirdly, being an underdog doesn't make you right and isn't a de facto endowment of moral authority. Yes, in the United States we have a major history of oppressed underdogs who were right, and who had to fight in the face of oppression by people who were wrong, but real life is not Hollywood and it doesn't follow scripts. Neither being the underdog nor the dominant force makes you right or makes your cause just. In addition to that, the Israelis are really the underdogs anyway, they are the ones surrounded by enemies who have publicly stated for the past 50 years that they want to eliminate them.

Just because you are opposed to US imperialism, which I am, does not mean that you should automatically be opposed to every ally of the United States, that's nonsense. Yes, the US has had some very unsavory allies in the past, and still does, but just being a US ally does not make you unsavory.

Fourthly, just because American Fundamentalist Christians have begun supporting Israel for delusionary reasons is not the fault of Israelis and its not a reason not to like and support Israel. I do believe that the recent support of Israel by Christian Fundamentalists is part of a larger political ploy, dare I say "conspiracy" to get that block of easily manipulated people to support a military agenda and foreign policy of aggression in the Middle East. I completely agree with that and think that the manipulation of American fundamentalists is part of a large network of political movers who use religious leaders to do their bidding, but, again, I'm not going to blame Israel for the policies of the United States, even if there are Israeli leaders who are "coconspirators", because a handful of leaders doesn't represent a nation.

The idea, also, that just because Hamas was democratically elected it means that we should somehow support them and play nice with them is also absurd. Why do American leftists say that we should support Hamas because they were democratically elected, yet they don't support President Bush? Forget 2000, and forget the 2004 conspiracy theories, Bush was democratically elected. That doesn't make him right or good. Nor does it make Hama right or good. All it means is that a growing number of Palestinians are moving towards radicalism and fundamentalism and in support of terrorism. Democracy does not define morality.

Having said all that, lets look at reality. Israel has one of the most progressive cultures in the world, a great scientific community, liberal laws, and a relatively open society, much more open than the Islamic societies that surround them, and they would be even more open if they weren't under constant threat. The Israeli culture is a fine and good culture that has a lot in common with Western culture. Israel is by far the most liberal nation in the Middle East. Israel is indeed a largely leftist country, with a strong history of leftism and progressive political and social policy.

It makes no sense at all for American leftists to support right-wing neo-Nazi thugs, i.e. Hezbollah and Hamas, who are opposed to women's rights, gay rights, freedom of speech, secularism, etc. in opposition to Israel, which is a progressive country as much as it can be in the face of constant aggression. Israel has historically been one of the most leftist countries in the world, and still has one of the largest and most influential leftist political groups of any nation. The fact that the international left has abondoned Israel, and the American right is courting Israel is only hurting leftism in Israel, so when American leftists are in opposition to Israel all they do is make things worse.

I really think that many American so-called "leftists" (many of which are really just conspiracy theorists or disgruntled people who don't have any solid basis of political or ideological grounding) need to seriously reconsider their positions on the Middle East. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Yes, I am an enemy of American military aggression in the Middle East, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to support Islamic terrorists and people who literally espouse Nazi ideology and have it written into their charter (Hamas).

There are many extremely oppressive regimes in the Middle East today. Yes, to a large extent they are products of failed Western policy over the past 100 years, I agree, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to support them. Irainian leadership, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, and many others, are seriously oppressive, religious fundamentalist groups. Just because, in some cases, they are "fighting for the poor", or they are fighting in opposition to US occupation, doesn't make them just people, and does make them right, and doesn't make them worthy of support. It seems that some people among the "American left" (and what a fractious bunch that is) haven't figured this out.

Posted by at 8:46 AM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, September 1, 2006 9:02 AM EDT
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
 The American Right trying to lead a global Liberal Revolution?

Topic: Commentary

With the on-going violence between Israel and Lebanon, the war in Iraq, the upcoming elections, and the foiled terror plot in England, everyone is talking about the foreign policy of "Bush and Blair".

It is quite unfortunate that Tony Blair got tied up with George Bush, I can't help but think that if Tony Blair were really leading the initiative in the Middle East that it might be a little more successful, because I think that Tony Blair is a little more genuine and would be seen as a little more authentic leader for a progressive democratic movement. After all, Blair is the head of the Center Left party in the UK, not a conservative like Bush.

This is the crux of the matter. What exactly is the Bush administration's supposed foreign policy objective? They claim that their objective is to "spread secular democracy around the world".

Sounds great, the only problem is that the people around the world who have to buy into this and support it are the secular liberal progressives and this foreign policy is being pushed by right-wing nationalist conservatives, whom none of the secular progressive community in the world trusts.

That's the problem, Bush's supposed "campaign for global democracy" is really a "liberal progressive" movement. It is impossible, however, for a right-wing, nationalist, theocratic, conservative to lead a global movement for liberal secular democracy.

The only way that Bush's espoused foreign policy goals (which almost no one actually believes are true) could be achieved would be if that foreign policy were led by a trusted liberal leader and administration.

The only thing that can make American foreign policy work today is to get the buy-in and support of progressives around the world, especially in the Middle East, yet these are the very people that the Bush administration is at odds with.

Who do we need by our side in the Middle East to actually help bring democracy to the Middle East and win a "war on terror"? We need the women's rights coalitions, we need the pro-democracy coalitions, we need the pro-secular coalitions, we need the human rights coalitions. We need the support of all the people who hate President Bush in order to actually win the "war on terror" and bring democracy to the Middle East. There is simply no way that a right-wing nationalist administration can bring a liberal democratic revolution to the world, yet this is exactly what American foreign policy is based on today, which is why America has lost credibility and why our foreign policy is a failure and will continue to fail.

There is only one way for American foreign policy to succeed, and that is under the leadership of a truly internationally respected internationalist and promoter of liberalism, secularism, humans rights, and fair trade. Only such a leader, and such an agenda, can garner the support of the people around the world that the United Stated needs support from. There are millions of people throughout the Middle East who despise Islamic fundamentalism, and who are ready, willing and able to fight for secular democracy, true free trade, and opening up their countries to the West, but these people are never going to cooperate with the likes of the Bush administration. Progress in the Middle East require true altruism and humanitarianism on the part of the West, and no right-wing nationalist administration will ever convince the progressives of the Middle East that they are the altruistic leaders of global democracy and cooperation, therefore, right-wing American leadership is doomed to continued failure in foreign policy.

Only true secular liberal progressives can lead the world into a new era of cooperation, integration, and democracy.

Posted by at 6:58 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, September 1, 2006 8:50 AM EDT
Saturday, July 8, 2006
 Speaking event Sunday July 23rd

Topic: Announcements

The Origins of Christianity and the Jesus Myth
Sunday July 23 at 1:30 pm

This presentation will explore the evolution of Christianity from its early origins to an institution that dominated the failing Roman Empire. Who were the early Christians? What influences did the so-called "pagan" cultures have on Christianity? What do we really know about Jesus? How did Christianity become the exclusive religion of the Roman world? These issues and more will be addressed in this multi-media speaking presentation.

Additional Information:

Broward Community College North Campus Library - Room 226

(just west of Exit 67 on Turnpike on Coconut Creek Parkway)

Posted by at 8:48 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Friday, June 30, 2006
 Regarding CEO Paycheck: $42,000 a day

Topic: Commentary

The well intentioned Jeanne Sahadi of CNN, who typically tries to provide "working class" oriented economic assessments, proves once against just how biased and skewed our economic language is in America.

In a recent CNN Money piece on executive pay, where she was trying to point out the flaws of CEO compensation, she still used the same flawed language that all "mainstream media" economists use, despite the fact that it actually undermined her own points.

What I'm talking about here is the use of the words "earn" and "make" when discussing incomes. These words have become ubiquitous in economics today, but they are completely biased terms that completely misrepresent the truth. The most accurate and unbiased way to describe a person's income is "receive". Receive always works, is always accurate, and is always correct. The very problem with our economy is that we don't really know if people "earn" their incomes, we don't really know how much a person actually "makes". We do know how much they are paid, and that is an objective value that we can discuss, but whether or not someone has actually "earned" that compensation or actually "created" that value, is subjective.

Money transforms something subjective into something objective. The use of the terms "earn" and "make" in popular economic lexicon misportrays something that is subjective as something objective. If I say that the CEO of XYZ company "earned" $20,000,000 last year, then I am telling you that he does deserve the money, and he did actually personally create $20,000,000 worth of value. That's an inaccurate statement though. You don't know if he personally created $20,000,000 worth of value, or if he really earned it or not. We do know that he received it, but that's all we know.

In fact, the problem with our economy is the fact that incomes do not match contributions. People are not receiving what they earn. Executives tend to receive more than the value that they create and average workers tend to receive less value than they create.

The value created by the workers is redistributed to the executives, who are receiving money that was earned by the workers below then in the company, as well as money that is a product of socially created value from public infrastructure and resources. Value created by other people is realized by corporate executives, which is why they are getting these insane compensation packages.

There can be no problem with income disparity if indeed the incomes are truly earned. If one person is actually creating 300 times more value a year than someone else, then that person deserves to keep that value, but the fact is that this is not happening. One person isn't creating 300 times more value than another person. One person is maybe creating 5 times or perhaps even 10 times more value than another person, but through social institutions the contributions of the various members of society are redirected, using various aspects of property rights to redirect value that is created by common workers to a few executives and property holders.

This is the problem that people have when they think about capitalism. People still think in terms of pre-capitalist production. For example:

We have 10 people who make bricks. They are paid $1 per brick that they make. Each individual makes their own bricks. Tom makes 50 bricks a day, Bill makes 80 bricks a day, Susan makes 100 bricks a day, Bob makes 30 bricks a day, etc. There is absolutely no reason to redistribute any of the income of these people. They each make as many bricks as they can or choose to do, and they get what they "earned". That's fine.

Now let's see this same process in a capitalist system.

We have 10 people, who work at making bricks. 5 of them are brick makers, 2 are middle managers, 1 is a book keeper, 1 is a salesman, and 1 is an executive. The 5 people make a total of 250 bricks a day and the company is able to sell all of them each day. Those 250 bricks a day produce the $250 a day revenuestream for the company. The $250 a day is then divided up among the various members of the company. How do we decide who gets how much? How do we know how much value each member of the company is contributing? In truth we really don't. Its subjective. Right now, in our capitalist system, many factors come into play, including the market demand/supply of the various types of workers, social pressures and customs, the personal persuasive ability of the workers and executives involved to advocate their self-interest, the knowledge or lack of knowledge about the revenue of the company, outside social perceptions, how people are educated to think about compensation and self-worth, overall social conceptions about the economic impact of compensation, etc.

To put it another way, consider a luxury car company, that makes $42,000 cars, where the people who build the cars get paid $42,000 a year, and the CEO gets paid $42,000 a day. What this means is that compensation is telling us that is the workers create 1 car a year each, while the CEO makes 1 car a day. Is this correct? This would mean that all of the work done by the worker would amount to building 1 car in a years time, while the CEO personally builds 260 cars a year. Does anyone really believe that this is true? I sure don't.

Compensation in our system is anything but straight forward. We must really admit that we have no idea how much each worker in society is really "earning" or really "making", all we know is what they are receiving.

Below is a copy of Jeanne Sahadi's article, with all of the words "earn" and "make" replaced with receive. As you can see, if you read the original first, it completely changes the impression given by the article, and it is also more accurate.

The top dogs at large companies received big bucks, no surprise. But it's always a little jolting to see just how big those bucks are relative to the paycheck of the average Joe.

Last year, the average CEO of a company with at least $1 billion in annual revenue received $10,982,000, or 262 times what the average worker received, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released Wednesday.

Put another way, the average worker -- who received $41,861 in 2005 -- received about $400 less last year than what the average large-company CEO received  in one day. That assumes 260 days of pay (52 weeks x 5 days a week).

The CEO-to-worker pay differential in 2005 was the second highest on record. The highest was 2000, when the average CEO received 300 times what the average worker received.

In 2002, the differential fell to 143 as the bear market took its toll on stock-related compensation. Nevertheless, between 2000 and 2005, median CEO pay rose 84 percent to $6.05 million on an inflation-adjusted basis, according to EPI.

Median worker pay during the same period fell an estimated 0.3 percent to $33,852, based on BLS weekly compensation data.

Critics of CEO pay contend that the compensation committees of publicly traded companies too often fail to tie pay to performance.

Posted by at 8:36 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, July 2, 2006 9:58 AM EDT
Sunday, June 25, 2006
 The Mis-portrayal of Darwin as a Racist

Topic: Announcements

The Mis-portrayal of Darwin as a Racist

There is a growing effort among opponents of evolution to portray Charles Darwin as a racist and to associate the theory of evolution with Nazism and the Holocaust. Several books have been written on this subject and legislation has been proposed some states to classify the theory of evolution as a racist ideology. The Discovery Institute has even produced a video documentary on the subject.

The facts about Darwin, evolutionary theory, and Nazism, however, are in stark contrast to the misportrayals put forward by anti-evolutionists. In this article I present the facts about the history of slavery, racism and genocide in Western Civilization, as well as the facts about Charles Darwin's progressive views on race. The fact is that the theory of evolution served to break down the accepted belief in a "divine separation" of races and the belief that blacks were "created to serve the white race by God".

Posted by at 5:43 PM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (52) | Permalink
Monday, June 12, 2006
 Just saw An Inconvenient Truth

Topic: Commentary

I just got back from seeing the movie An Inconvenient Truth, featuring Al Gore. Its somewhat difficult to evaluate this film, because you can't really call it "good" since the film points out so many problems. It is definitely a well done and thoughtful presentation however, which I highly recommend that everyone see.

Aside from the central message on global warming, I think that Al Gore did an excellent job of promoting science and the use of science in shaping our public policy and informing our daily lives. This is where I feel that the film was an excellent success. The film was a success because Al Gore laid a foundational groundwork and used that foundation to make the case. This is exactly what the Democratic Party should be doing on every issue.

The best thing about this film is that it defends science and reason and shows how science plays important roles in our daily lies and how science is critical for our future success and survival. Science cannot only be used by industry to create technology, science must also be used by the public to make decisions. Without this latter case, science has no morality and, more importantly, our morality has no science.

In a world that is being rapidly changed by technology, our instincts are no longer necessarily suitable to the situation at hand. Our lives are no longer in the ancient context. Our evolved morality no longer corresponds to the situations that face us. Instinct is no longer good enough and the stakes are so high that only science and reason can truly guide our judgment.

While this is not the central theme of An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore does make this case.

It is remarkable to think, however, that a thoughtful and articulate man like Al Gore was denied the presidency in America, and that instead George Bush, an inarticulate and uninsightful man who seems to despise science and reason is the leader of the most powerful country in the world. It is truly amazing.

Al Gore has said that he does not plan to run for president in 2008, but I really hope that he does, because the Democrats don't have another candidate that comes close to the quality an caliber of Gore, and I think that Hilary Clinton would be a horrible choice as the Democratic nominee. Ms. Clinton has too many political and cultural enemies, too much baggage, and quite frankly, she's to conservative as well.

An Inconvenient Truth is not showing everywhere, which is unfortunate, but it is showing in most cities. To learn more or find a theater near you visit the official website:

Posted by at 6:36 AM EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, June 15, 2006 6:45 AM EDT
Saturday, June 10, 2006
 The nonsense of Republican "Family Values"

Topic: Commentary

The three issues that the Republicans have brought before the Senate in the last few days are "defining marriage as between a man and a woman", a bill to make the full repeal of the estate tax permanent, and a bill to ban flag burning.

The Republicans claim that they are trying to "defend marriage", by ensuring that they restrict it to a select group of people. Republicans claim that marriage is the foundation of society, so one would think that they would want to expand the role of marriage in society, not restrict it. If conservatives are troubled by "the homosexual lifestyle", then why don't they encourage homosexuals to get married? The "homosexual lifestyle" is essentially the single lifestyle, and as long as it remains impossible for homosexuals to get married they will of course remain single.

The issues go well beyond this however.

Conservatives complain about the "breakdown" of the institution of the family, but do they explain this "breakdown", do they give reasons for it? They blame this breakdown on "attacks by liberalism", homosexuality, feminism, and a lack of prayer in schools, etc.

The fact is, however, that none of things things are causes of the breakdown of the so-called "traditional" family. In fact all of these things are symptoms of the same root cause, which is industrialization and market economy capitalism.

That's the irony of all this, the real root cause of change in American society is the very institution that conservatives so fiercely defend: Capitalism.

Many of these changes are simply inevitable and are unavoidable with the changes that come with industrialization, but others have been exacerbated by the American style market economy.

Several historical facts must be put in perspective to understand the "family", however.

What is a "family" and why did families evolve?

The family has traditionally been the core economic unit of society. Throughout most of history the household as been the primary place of production, and all family members were involved, including children from as soon as they were old enough to participate. Prior to the 18th century in England and America, children began "working" around age 5 in the home, became significant contributors to the family income by age 7, and had generated major profits for the family by age 18. Women have always worked. Its just that until the industrial revolution all business was run out of the home, so there was no need to leave home to work, for either men or women. Yes, men typically took care of the business outside the home, but the home was effectively the "corporate headquarters". Women did plenty of work there and there was plenty to do, not just raise children, that was only one aspect.

There was a division of labor between the sexes, rooted primarily in utility. Women did split their time between raising the children and preparing the meals for the family, which meant preparing meals for the workers effectively, but they often did much more than this, they also often took care of book keeping, arranged orders, directed the labor of the children, and managed inventories. You must keep in mind that every home in America when America was founded was effectively its own little factory. 95% of all production in America was done in the home in 1800. Today less than 1% is done in the home.

This dramatic restructuring of the economy IS THE ROOT CAUSE of the changes in family structure, the role of the family in society, and the significance of the family.

A family is no longer itself an economic enterprise that is needed for survival. Today business people are pressured by the market to form cooperative groups known as corporations. 200+ years ago the pressure was to form a family. One person alone can't produce much, but by forming a family a person could automatically produce a group of 8 to 15 people who worked as a small "corporation" and extended families could reach into the hundreds.

Today, however, the economy has expanded well beyond this and the family is no longer a business unit like it was in the past.

Children are no longer economic assets as they were a hundred years ago or more. Today children are major economic burdens who never generate a profit for the family until they are out of the house, if then. The return on investment for children has consistently diminished over the past 200 years and today it may actually be the case that there is zero return on investment for most families. These economic changes have had major influences on family structures.

To add to all of this, marketing has usurped the power of the family to influence society. Who has the biggest influence on society today? Corporations. What is the motivation of their influence? Profit motive. When families had more influence over the economy, they also had more influence over society. Now the economy is rooted in the corporation, not the family, and thus the entire basis of our culture has shifted from the family to the corporation.

Families always had a completely different interest in their children than corporations do. The family has an inherent interest in trying to influence the behavior of their children in ways that both benefit the family and benefit the child. To the family the child was both a worker, i.e. provider, and also an offspring, someone that they loved and cared for and wanted to succeed. So, families had an interest in instilling "positive values" in their children, both for the sake of the child and the sake of the family itself.

Corporations, however, have no such direct interest. Their immediate interest is to view the child as a consumer. Thus, now that our society is dominated by the corporation, the values of the society are the values instilled by corporations. Families have been weakened, not as gays have come out of the closet, but as corporations have taken on the leading role in society. The interest of the corporation, and thus "the market economy", is to influence behavior in ways that encourage people to make poor decisions, not good decisions (to be fair the direct interest is not to influnce people to bad bad decisions, but the net result of marketing is to induce bad decisions). The primary relationship between corporation and child is that the child has money (or access to the money) the corporation wants, and the corporation seeks to influence the child to engage in behavior that will result in funneling money to the corporation.

It cannot be any other way in a capitalist economy, that's how it works.

Furthermore, now that the home is no longer the basis of the economy, it no longer makes sense for women to "stay there". There is nothing to do at home, most of the work takes place outside the home. Women have always contributed to the economy, and by leaving the home all they are doing is acting in accordance with the free market to pursue jobs where jobs are, i.e. outside the home.

The Republicans fail to acknowledge that it is indeed the free market that explains the breakup of the family, not "gays getting the right to marry".

The analysis that I have provided here demonstrates a massive failure on the part of out society and especially the Democratic Party and so-called "liberals", because instead of using these provable facts to take charge of the debate on social issues, the Democrats and liberals are conceding the debate to the conservatives and falling back on empty slogans and emotional appeals. Our news media fails to discuss the issues or do any significant reporting on these types of issues, and our talk shows and analysts are filled with either conservatives who misrepresent everything or post-modernists who can't explain their way out of a paper bag.

What is to be done? I don't know, because it seems that rationalism and empirical data are taboo in the public sphere in America today.

What is certain is that conservatives tend to be wrong about everything, but no one else is stepping up to provide the reason why they are wrong and to give voice to the correct anwsers.

Posted by at 7:13 AM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, June 15, 2006 6:56 AM EDT
Sunday, June 4, 2006
 Re: If you were setting the agenda...

Topic: Commentary

I recently received a mass e-mail message from the Democratic Party asking "what would you do if you were setting the agenda". This is what they had to say:

Imagine for a moment that you're Republican Bill Frist, the Senate's Majority Leader, and you have the power and awesome responsibility to control what issues the Senate considers and when it considers them. Knowing everything you do about the crises facing our nation and the things that most concern Americans, would your top priority be to:

A) Force the administration to change its failed strategy in Iraq

B) Help consumers walloped by $3.00 a gallon gas and take steps to reduce our oil addiction

C) Pass the first minimum wage increase in 10 years and develop plans to create good jobs in America

D) Expand educational opportunities for college by providing relief from skyrocketing college tuition

E) Ensure access to health care for every American

F) Amend the Constitution to deprive gay people of equal rights under the law

As someone who cares deeply about this nation, its problems and its future, you probably said A, B, C, D, or E. But Republican Majority Leader Frist chose F.

The question was rhetorical, of course, and there was no way to actually reply to the e-mail, but I went to the Democratic Party website and replied from there. This is my response:

As a Leftist I think that the agenda of the Democratic Party should be to fundamentally make the case for  Leftist principles the way that the Republican Party fundamentally makes the case for its Right-wing policy.

If *I* were setting the agenda this is what I would do:

  • Promote and defend secularism, science, and rationalism both in public and in the Senate.
  • Nothing should be done to change the market price of petroleum products. The market price of fuel encourages conservation and efficiency. Taking action to reduce the price of fuel is counter productive.
  • Move for a Global Minimum Wage to be paid by all employers from developed countries when the employ workers in developing nations, or when they purchase goods from suppliers in developing nations. This would require a treaty with the G8 and all other developed nations.
  • In conjunction with the Global Minimum Wage, also move to remove all tariffs on foreign trade.
  • Completely rework the college scholarship system for pubic universities. All public scholarships should be terminated and replaced with a system that compensates based on grades. Students should be reimbursed 95% for As, 75% for Bs, and 50% for Cs. No reimbursement for Ds and Fs.
  • Promote and defend a fundamental ideology as the Republicans have done. Republican social and economic claims must be countered with the factual analysis which shows that social changes are products of economic changes. Social Changes in our society that conservatives complain about are in fact products of free-market capitalism and industrialization. The movement of the home based economy to an economy dominated by multi-national corporations, where 98% of production takes place outside of the home, is what has led to the major social changes in America over the past 100 years, especially the past 50 years. Yes women used to work in the home, back when the majority of businesses were run from the home.
  • Stop claiming that healthcare is a right. Healthcare is not a right, and should never be considered as such. Healthcare is a luxury that we, as the richest nation in the history of the world, should provide to all citizens both because it is cheaper in the long run, and because we have the means to do so, but it is not a right. Just because healthcare is not a right does not mean that we should not provide universal healthcare.
  • Remove the special taxation laws for capital gains. The taxation system can be simplified and made fair by taxing all forms of income equally. It is indefensible to have workers subsidizing investors by taxing workers more than investors.
  • Increase taxes on the wealthy and reduce taxes on the poor and middle class. Defend this with the same reasoning used by Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower: The wealthy receive the most benefit from society and the State, and thus deserve to pay the most for the benefits that they receive.
  • Tax the profits of the petroleum industry and use that money for research & development projects for alternative energy. Allow the petroleum industry to get their own money back by participating in this R&D if they choose.

The Republican Party has been faltering for 4 years now, yet in this entire time the Democrats have shown their incompetence by their inability to provide and substantial alternative to Republican ideas and programs. Despite the Republicans being in an extremely weak and exposed position, the Democrats remain unable to capitalize the the events, because they have no core message, not set of principles, and are afraid to take on a truly progressive agenda. They continue to do nothing, and provide few meaningful alternatives. They offer no solutions to the issues that people really care about, because they are unable to challenge Republican ideology in any meaningful way.

Posted by at 1:31 PM EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, June 4, 2006 1:47 PM EDT

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