Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Thursday, July 06, 2006

is the pope a catholic?

I just re-read this post and the comments to it. It was an interesting discussion. Pity not too may people actually got what I was trying to say. Must be my fault...

Maybe one day when I can recover some mental equilibrium I'll try to explain it better.

There's a form of secular fundamentalist extremism loose on this planet which won't be happy until its morals are the only "valid" ones surviving. Make no mistake about it, it is fundamentalist and extremist in nature. And it's covert. It doesn't like to be exposed.

Most of its followers have no idea what they've signed up for, but they agree on one thing: Only they are right. Only their values are the right ones. Anyone who has different values is automatically wrong and to be dismissed or even vilified and despised.

Doesn't that sound like fundamentalism and extremism to you? Are you sure I'm not talking about you?

You know I'm wrong whenever I carry on like that, but why are you so blind to the fact that you do it too? Yes, you!!!

Now fuck off and don't think any more about it...

Go on! Fuck off! You make me sick!!!

17 Comments:

Blogger GreenSmile said...

Please, say a few more words, oh bearly bearable sage: How do we recognize this secualar fundamentalism in others? What are its symptoms? Would it include, for instance, a blanketing intolerance in pronouncements or more active measures against all forms and practioners of various religions? Would it be a failure to ever qualify an anti-religious remark or to note any good that has come of religion?
Or is it a smugness in declaring that cannot be known with certainty may be denied with finality?

Ya gotta say more because I am too darn lazy to go back and read the linked post.

July 07, 2006 7:38 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

"Bearly bearable? I am bearable in a bear sort of way? I like that. Welocme back GS. Just when I'm convincing myself that everyone has rightly deserted this blog, you come back from vacation and deposit four pearls of wisdom. I am honoured.

It is exactly as you say. I whish I had access such eloquence. Envy grips my throat and chokes me shitless. I am forever doomed to writing Vogon poetry.

But it is not limited to what you say, GS. Another of their stunts is to peddle the word "amoral". They are "amoral". This is a load of horseshit and when I finally figure out which logical fallacy they are employing I will give it a more apt label.

They attack, for instance, a morality which holds that abortion is wrong, yet they refuse to admit that to say that abortion OK is not also a moral stance, albeit an opposite one.

Two opposing sets of morals. The adherents of each side believing absolutely in the rightness of theirs and vilifying those who sit on the opposite side. Each blaming the other for the world's woes. Each side utterly full of shit whilst it seeks to destroy the other.

Don't for a minute believe that those tricky, obfuscating, equivocating anti-god (anti-soul, anti-spirit, anti-everything which can't be measured by their "logic" or their instruments) people are in any way agnostic.

And they like to wear the cloak of "science". They pretend to be "scientifc" whilst breaking the cardinal rule of science (i.e. she who makes the assertion must be able to prove its validity) to adopt a "scientifically" gnostic postion.

They are wankers in possession of sophistry which blinds their followers.

Sings, "wankers to the left of me, wankers to the right of me, stuck in the middle with you..."

I've given up expecting anything sensible from them. They are as full of it as those they oppose.

Do you think I could learn from this also, GS? But who do I oppose?

As an agsnostic, I have no idea whether the spiritual realm is "real" or "non-existent", or, if it is real, which particular "reality" is the "real" one. And I will not fall into the trap of assuming that therefore none of it can be "real".

Therefore who am I to invailidate their beliefs?

As a wannabe scientist I assert that science has nothing to say about this because it is outside the realm of science. To say therefore that science infers that there is no god, no spirituality, no soul, etc, is another wank.

Believers in the Big Three, claim "God said..." when there is not one iota of empirical proof that God even exists.

Believers in the non-existence of God get cocky because there is not one iota of empirical proof that God exists. Yet the fail to add that "emirical proof" is an oxymoron in the realm of the non-physical. And that is their shell-game stunt. They are just as much fraudsters at a sideshow fleecing the gullible as those on the other side of the Great Spiritual Divide.

Sitting on the ridgeline are a few true agnostics and an equally small number of buddhist masters. And the agnostics are starting to eye the buddhists off with a bit of a query...

Is this good enough, GS?

July 07, 2006 10:53 AM  
Blogger GreenSmile said...

Quite clear now, Gerry.

My study group, which convened for readings of Talmudic wisdom literature nearly 20 years ago, is chewing on William James "Varieties of Religious Experience" these days. I am digesting the second chapter in preparation for my turn presenting the material. You might, if you have time, find James' effort interesting. A quote from Lecture II:
The theorizing mind tends always
to the oversimplification of its
materials. This is the root of
all that absolutism and one-sided
dogmatism by which both
philosophy and religion have been
infested."

Personally, I quibble with James' assertions despite his cautious phrasing, on almost every page.

I can point to nothing more substantial than a hunch, an intuition that (as you put it) "the spiritual realm" IS non-existent. But I can barely put this suspicion in words. And even if I had a convincing explanation...it would still leave us where we all stand now: putative mechanisms by which the universe demonstrates or demands moral behavior are not readily discernable and it all comes down to the view of the individual whether or not to give a damn about darning the holes in the frayed world or just grabbing one last piece of cake for himself before the lights go out.

July 07, 2006 9:33 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

GS, you once said that I make you think. Well, you make me work damn hard! (And that's a GOOD thing... :-)

Your comment has nicely Segwayed (from the verb "to scoot along on a Segway") us into my final comment on the problem I have with atheism which will become my next blog post.

On oversimplification: At what point does the application of Occam's Razor become the heinous crime of oversimplification?

I think the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle has a lot going for it. It all depends where, how, or why one is simplifying as to whether or not that then becomes OVERsimplification.

I, for one, due to my own intellectual failings, have not the wherewithall to read or digest long reams of dissertation which might perhaps be easily boiled down to a few paragraphs.

I think things get a bit prolix when one tries to cover all possible angles of something in any one given work. This may be fine for academic tomes (where one is, after all judged on how MUCH one writes), but may not be all that useful in blogging or at afternoon tea parties.

Another problem I have is the endless hair-splitting, the subdivision of a philosphical position into a myriad of substrata merely for the purpose of not having to fess up to where one stands philosophically (see next post) And if necessary, an endless stream of neologisms is created for no discernable purpose other than to equivocate and obfuscate about some very basic topic.

It seems as if, rather than be nailed down anywhere, the modern "philospher", utters the magic words "Not necessarily..." and then proceeds to escape (exit stage left), never having declared a particlarly disadvantageous position, by uttering a steaming pile of meretricious sophistry.

But I may be wrong. It may just be my own stupidity...

July 08, 2006 5:30 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Now, back to my heinous "oversimplification":

You said "putative mechanisms by which the universe demonstrates or demands moral behavior are not readily discernable and it all comes down to the view of the individual whether or not to give a damn about darning the holes in the frayed world or just grabbing one last piece of cake for himself before the lights go out."

I was saying nothing about any universe "demonstrating or demanding" moral behaviour. Nor was I making any comment about whether we should try to save the world or ourselves. You seem to have misunderstood, old chap.

Here, let me explain. Again... (I'll keep it real simple here, GS.) ;-)

[1] Morals and values are merely the right/wrong, good/bad, better/worse kind of judgements people make about a given behaviour.

[2] We all make them all of the time, or we would not be exhibiting any "behaviour" whatsoever. We'd be catatonic.

[3] The fundamentalist extremist asserts that only their personal morals/values are ones by which everyone should live. Everyone else is wrong and must be dismissed, attacked, or vilified. It is either egocentric or blindly tribalist in nature, depending on the thought informing the behaviour i.e. selfish thought = egocentricity; no thought = default to the individual's tribal identification. (Go on, ask me what I mean by "tribal identification".) My point is that secularists (usually those powered by atheism) are not exempt from this kind of thinking.

I'm sorry, GS, I can't say it simpler than that without going into the realm of oversimplification. I hope this was not too prolix. ;-)

July 08, 2006 10:19 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

In a related though indirect aside to this post, have you listened to the catholic priest, Father Bob? He often talks of secular humanism and social activism within Australian culture. Father Bob is a seventy two year old catholic priest with a parish in Melbourne. He is a crusty old bugger who does not hesitate to speak his mind on social activism and the role of the Church. He figures that because of his advanced age, he can get away with saying controversial things that a younger person might be more hesitant to speak out on.

Father Bob has his own weekly radio broadcast (cohosted with the young John Safran on Triple J, australian radio), his own blog, podcast and social capitalist forum. He does rave on a bit at times and may sounds a bit vague. (he is in his seventies after all.) But if you listen long enough, you discover that he is actually a very well read and intelligent man. He was also at one time, an army padre in the Australian Army.

One of his current projects is encouraging social activism through individual Social Entrepreneurs. Someone else coined the phrase, "Father Bob's Ninjas" for these social activists. He's an interesting character to listen to.

His blog page is at

http://www.fatherbob.com.au/

The FatherBob podcast is hosted at

http://fatherbob.thepodcastnetwork.com/

He also has a slow moving forum at http://forum.thepodcastnetwork.com/viewforum.php?f=4

July 09, 2006 4:00 PM  
Blogger GreenSmile said...

I fancy I completely understand your point #3 but a red flag went up on point #1: ...merely the right/wrong, good/bad, better/worse kind of judgements...

nothing "mere" about judgment, even though it seems as commonplace as drawing breath.

July 10, 2006 12:30 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Bluey, no, have not heard of Father Bob. But I do acknowledge that Catholicism does occasionally throw up a few social activists. But they're more the exception, than the rule.

About "social capitalism", I think the good Father has lost the plot. "Social capitalism" is an oxymoron, or there's something I have failed to understand about the psycopathic nature of The Corporation.

Sorry, Bluey, I thought you knew... Although I once killed a few Vietnamese on behalf capitalist imperialism, I no longer have one good word to say about it. Time you read my blog PROPERLY, boy!

GreenSmile, you may well say there is nothing "mere" about judgement. but you weasel out of the issue. Tell us, please do, how one can arrive at ideas of right/wrong, good/bad, better/worse without having made some form of judgement calls in order to arrive there?

Waiting...

July 11, 2006 12:12 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Time you started speaking the King's English, PROPERLY, yah great colonial buffoon, ;-)

Imperial Capitalism. Okay, now we're drifting into economics, however it is still relevant to the discussion. Gerry, I get what you are talking about, but with the greatest respect, you are confusing the adjectival form with the common noun, a very common error. (Big breath, hmmm.... they should never have taken those slate pencils and boards out of the Aussie primary schools. At least the colonials used to have some grasp of basic english back then. Okay, lets give this a try.)

What you correctly refer to as "capitalist imperialism", is/was the policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations. Capitalist imperialism was the practice of transforming and dominating other countries through their economies, cultures, and political life primarily for the purpose of capital accumulation. A heinous pastime as you rightly point out.

Capitalism in its purest form is based on private ownership of the means of production and distribution. Personal profit can be acquired through investment of capital and employment of labor. Capitalism is grounded in the concept of free enterprise, which argues that government intervention in the economy should be restricted. It is simply the private ownership of the production and trading of merchandise and services in an open market free of restrictions.

This economic concept, again as you rightly point out, has been considerably sullied and hijacked by the megacorps in the form of Corporate Capitalism. Under Corporate Capitalism, 'private' has been perverted to mean them, not us. Hijacked to such an extent that the market access and rights of individuals to actively participate in capitalism has been significantly reduced, perhaps arguable eradicated within most western countries. The power and influence of the megacorps is now so all-consuming that they have reduced the status of nations to mere vassal city-states, their military forces to factory guards and shepherds with machine guns.

In countries like Australia with their continuing trend towards privatisation of public assets, the 'wealth of nations' is fast becoming a mythical concept. For example, look at the expansive development of your mineral resources in the north-west coast of Western Australia. (Privatisation and corporatisation of your potable water assets will be your next battlefield.) Yes, there are temporary benefits such as infrastructure development (mostly mining) and employment. But only a miniscule residual of the 'wealth' will finish up in Australia. The rest disappears into the 'state-less, nation-less' pockets of the megacorps. Pretty neat trick to openly take the cash out of a bloke's wallet in front of him, while convincing him that you are actually doing him a favour.

To see capitalism is its most productive form, you need to look to more traditional markets such as the villages and streets of Asia. Micro-capitalism down to the smallest common denominator. Private ownership of production, transport, distribution, and marketing. In Indonesia, if you can afford a packet of cigarettes, you have a business, selling individual cigarettes one by one. In India, if you own a mobile phone, you can set up a folding card table on the side of the road, selling phone calls to passerbys. In Thailand, even the smallest of villages will have its own cross-roads marketplace, with dozens of locals direct selling their garden and farm produce. Westerners don't know shit about this form of capitalism. Typically, profit margins in this form of village capitalism are much lower but more distributed than the obscene megaprofits of corporate capitalism. The distribution of wealth tends to stay within the local communities.

All these activities would be illegal in most western countries. At least without a multitude of costly licenses and registrations, compliance with local, state, and national laws, tax file numbers, OHS inspections, trading registrations, insurance and a mind-numbing pleathora of other obfuscating bureacracy and legalese. The Nanny state protecting its helpless citizens, allegedly.

Social capitalism? The delivery of social services within Australia is becoming increasingly corporatised. Aged care, disability support, child care, health services. All these are being industrialised out of government hands into the grasp of the megacorps. It is industry totally focused on maximising profits, not service delivery or quality of life issues for vulnerable people. The social capitalism that Father Bob is promoting is the village economy equivalent, seeking to put control and access back into the hands of individuals, to take a more secular humanist approach to particiaption. Anyway, enough drivel for one post. Questions?

July 11, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Bluey, you and I have a very different understandings of the terms "capitalism" and "free enterprise". You, I feel use the terms the way that the American propagandists use them. Next you'll be telling me how wonderful and imperative it is that we install our "democracy" all over the world...
[cold shiver]

As to the rest of your comment. I think this link may provide you with tens of wonderfully enlightening hours of reading. Maybe even for Father Bob. And then both of you will know why capitalism will ALWAYS grow into a monster. Communist and socialist phiolophers have been pointing this out for more than a hundred and fifty years now, it's only those (most of us in the Western world) who have been benfiting from the exploitation and subjugation inherent in capitalism who have been happily and blindly singing its praises...

And now of course we've become so addicted to our corrupt lifestyle (based absolutely on the exploitation and subjugation of others) that we'd rather go to war to preserve and "improve" our lifestyle rather than own up that we're the most corrupt, piratic, murderous, lying, cheating bastards on the planet.

By the way, any idea how much hate-inducing propaganda was piled up against tsocialism and communism over the last 100 years in order to get us to denounce it and go to war against it. Cui bono?

I'm still as mad as hell for the way I got lied to to get me to go kill some Vietnamese whose only "crime" was that they had had it with French capitalism and certainly did not want american capitalism. All they want was to try out a different economic model. One from which no outsiders could exert control or syphon off profits. I got used in an American war crime.

Nah, Bluey, you can stick the word "capitalist" (chiselled in large friendly granite letters) up your arse.

Here endeth my rant...

July 11, 2006 11:13 AM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Okay, then I'm confused, but then I am neither a political aspirant or an economist. The grass roots level of capitalism I am referring to is the right of an individual to stand on the side of the road and sell the produce of his own garden and make fair profit from it for himself and his family. What do you call that, Gerry? If not village capitalism, then what? (said with genuine sincerity and willingness to be educated.) As to the propaganda, Vietnam, and the American War Machine etc, as far as I can see, I am in full agreement with you. I am talking about those Vietnamese determining their own village market models. I'm not understanding how you see this as opposing that. I personally support neither politics or religions, but that individuals should have the freedoms to determine their own informed choices.

July 11, 2006 2:47 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Bluey: I was nearly sucked into trying to explain further till I realised that you couldn't even be bothered to follow up on the link I provided. I can't make you go there. I can't make you read the material there. I thought you might be interested. I might have been wrong.

They have a lot to say about what capitalism is, and why it's not as romantic a picture as the one you're apparently hypnotised by. They also promote an alternative economic model which I thought you migh have gotten enthusiastic about.

But none of that can happen whilst you don't go there. I give up.

July 11, 2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Gerry, mind your manners. I have spent the past three hours reading there. I enjoy Chomsky. I still cannot see how that invalidates anything. Like I said before, I don't understand, educate me.

July 11, 2006 4:38 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Hey Greensmile... :-)

Maybe this reply of mine got lost in amongst all the other stuff, so I've reprinted it here. I really would be interested in your reply:

GreenSmile, you may well say there is nothing "mere" about judgement. But you weasel out of the issue. Tell us, please do, how one can arrive at ideas of right/wrong, good/bad, better/worse without having made some form of judgement calls in order to arrive there?

To this I would perhaps add:

Are you saying ther are people out there who have no morals, no values, i.e. people who truly define nothing as right/wrong, good/bad, better/worse?

July 11, 2006 4:46 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Bluey: I might have been a bit harsh...
I'll put something together and get back to you, OK? But God help you if you don't get it THEN! If I can get it, you can! :-)

July 11, 2006 5:06 PM  
Blogger Bluey said...

Gerry, I am not disagreeing with you about capitalism, as it applies to the two manifestations to which you have alluded to. That is, Imperialism and Corporatism/Globalism. The participatory economics as described in your link is exactly what I am talking about. Which is why I have spent so much time reading there. I am enjoying the readings (though not necessarily agreeing with everything) and am greatly appreciative of the link. It ties in quite nicely with some real world projects I have on the burners at present.

I just can't see how we are talking about different things as you seem to be suggesting. I'm not getting that part. I repeat my earlier question. Farmer standing on the side of the road selling his own produce for barter or currency. How is that not a capital exchange? If it is not, what else do you call it? Or if you are calling it a capitalist transaction, but that it is somehow bad or wrong, how is the farmer to survive without such transactions? What are you suggesting should take its place? If nations (imperialism) or companies (corporatism) interfere with, impede, block or downright prohibite that transaction, then I can see your point.

The block in understanding and communication here is so 'brick-wallish' that I suspect that we are somehow talking at cross-purposes, or applying vastly different meanings to terminology used. That's what I am genuinely trying to figure out. I would happily disagree with you, if in fact I did. But I don't think we are in disagreement. I'm confused at what point is supposed to be in contention.

July 11, 2006 5:33 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Ok, capitalism... The current form of capitalism is a global monster which will eat its youg and then it will eat itself. Bakan's book The Corporation tells it well enough. It's all about shareholder-driven imperatives which will enslave us all. Capitalism is now totally about the minimisation of production costs and the maximisation of profits for shareholders. Workers are a mere tradable commodity now. If someone else will do it cheaper, you're sacked. If a machine can do it cheaper, you're sacked. It's also about manipulating the consumer to make him want what they want him to want. Need creation has become a science. And the consumer has become an addict and a puppet.

What starts innocuously enough as your idyllic "village capitalism", leads soon enough to a few village rich dudes who then become "employers" who then begin to collude to manipulate the local labor market to maximise their returns. Soon they are Big Business in a whole heap of villages, and "the farmer standing on the side of the road selling his own produce for barter or currency" cannot find any buyers because Big Boys are selling it cheaper and so he is forced to sell cheaper too, and the Big Boys will push it down till he can't be bothered any more and they buy his farm or he sells direct to them for peanuts. Eventually they dominate the whole world and there are just a ruling few whilst the masses are ensnared. Right back to where we are now. This is called "free enterprise" and "free trade". It is expansionist, it is predatory and it is adversarial (hi Kurt), nay, it is canibalistic.

What prevents your "village capitalism" from "evolving" as I have indicated above? That's the question. No controls? "Free enterprise"? What stops me hiring poeople and paying them peanuts to run my farm whist I buy oil futures and buy more farms?

July 11, 2006 8:30 PM  

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