Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Socialism and the candidacy of Barack Obama

I will begin with a caveat; this blog began before the election. Rather than abandoning it though, I've decided to finish it, omtting or changing nothing from what I started out writing. That being said, let the stonethrowers begin to gather their destructors...

This election eve is witness to almost a year's worth of unending slander. Hillary vs Barack. McCain vs Romney. McCain vs Barack. Palin vs Barack. Palin vs Biden (not often). Biden vs McCain. etc... As is the case with every election that I can recall (I'm only 33), this one has been mired for some time in the doldrums of insult after insult. And what's more, people really seemed to get jazzed by it. Youtube has given us too many opportunities to hear the bloodlust americans revel in when it comes to denouncing their opponent. I say their because that is exactly what it seems to play out as, Barack vs the guy in the line at the McCain/Palin rally. It seems as though the voters actually think they have an obligation to hurl expletives at anyone who might challenge their choice of supportable candidate. "Barack is a Muslim. Barack is a terrorist. Barack is a socialist. Barack is a communist". I'm sure there are many others, but this is as comprehensive a list as I need for the purposes of this blogpost.

I don't know what religion Barack Obama adheres to, quite frankly I find it appalling that his or any of the candidates for president for the last 225 or so years, religious beliefs has ever been brought up during an election season. I hope one day an atheist can be elected president of this country, but I hold no real hope for that, as it seems painfully obvious that this country as a whole seems bent on turning itself into a theocracy. Just down the street from my house in west michigan is a church (protestant) which has a row of pseudo-election signs lining it's driveway which say "Jesus for president". I kid you not, "Jesus for President". Now, I don't know about you, but the thought of there even being a portion of our country which feels strongly enough about the possibility of America being headed by an invisible, 2,000 year-dead, middle-eastern, megolomaniac, seems both a bit far-fetched and a trifle troubling, but who am I to pass judgement, that is for the vengeful god to render.

I also don't have any reason to think Barack Obama could actually be an all-out terrorist. For one how the hell would a terrorist think it possible to have any terroristic effect on the nation state and not be found out. The office of the presidency is the most scrutinized public station in the world. We found out that Bill clinton got a blowjob from an intern didn't we? If someone can dig up a morsel like that, how hard would it be for someone to discover that the person we democratically elected as our commander-in-chief, was actually plotting to destroy our country from the inside out. We do not, no matter how much some people might wish we could, live within the confines of an Ian Fleming/James Bond storyline. Nor do we languish in the pages of a Tom Clancy Novel. Obama is not a terrorist. And for those William Ayers/ Jeremiah Wright folk out there, who use indirect associations to "determine" their opinions, let me say, what would you have done had these two individuals not been thrust to the headlines as they were? It was a good thing someone found out about these two people, so that those oh-so-many voters out there who are basing their decision to vote for McCain solely on the fact that he is not Obama, could have a leg to fallback on, when they were questioned about how they came to their decision. Obama is scary, because of these two people, mind you not because he himself is all that scary, but because he knows of these two people, and somehow, in the minds of the Anti-Obama proponents, he is incapable of distancing himself, intellectually from those who do not labor with the same interests as he, at heart. Nope, Obama is just a puppet of the Ayers/Wrights of the world. We've all heard enough from this particular demographic. We understand that you have decided to vote against Obama because you can't believe for a minute that he is a man capable of deciding a proper course of action by himself. You believe, wholeheartedly that he is a shell, one who will do his anti-american masters' bidding, as though he were as brainwashed as you are, if he were to get elected. You are a component of society which at one point in middle europe, oh a couple of hundred years ago or so, were denied the chance to vote democratically, and rightfully so. You can't think straight, much less come to a reasonable decision regarding who is or is not a valid candidate for the office of presidency. Please, don't expect any who have a brain to assign any degree of dignity to your ignorant and dangerous voice in the voting booth.

Barack is a socialist, or a communist. This one has been all over youtube at the republican rallies. I wonder if the people who are vomiting these words even know what they actually refer to. I tend to gravitate toward the idea that these people are the same who never really learned high school government, but just memorized enough words from the book to answer enough questions correctly to pass the class. I would submit that these folks most likely think socialism and communism are the same thing. They are not. But to these backwater mouth-breathers, anything that is not preceded by the prefix Demo, politically is directly from the realm of Hades. Socialism is different from Communism. Communism leads everyone to work conjointly at the behest of the central government to better the state of which the people are the populous. The government assigns duties and delegations to individuals in order to perform the functions of society at large, for the betterment of the nation. Everyone works for the betterment of the state, for the state is what matters over all else. Communism is as viable a political concept as democracy is, if it were to be administered by people who were actually of the mind that the state is more important than the individual, however, history has proven that so far, no human leader of a communist country has this necessary personality trait. Indeed, no person will ever be that ideal, for the simple reason that we are all selfish, and rightfully so. But if such a person were to come along, there is no reason to think communism in it's truist form could not work just fine.
Socialism promotes the betterment of the people, not the state in which the people live. Socialistic ideals are as equally viable a possibility as democratic ideals, but have not been ideally put into practice because again, absolute power will corrupt absolutely. Those who have been the leaders of socialist countries, have historically let their own individual ambitions and idiosyncracies overthrow the mandate of their political genetor and impede the socialist progress that was, at least at one point, possible under their administration.
Democracy promotes the self over all else, it is by design selfish, and rightfully so, afterall we are all individuals. What better way to live life than to look out for number one. Problem is, absolute power still corrupts absolutely, and make no mistake, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did everything possible over the last 8 years to increase the absoluteness of the president's power, and we are now paying many prices for this corruption. No system is foolproof, all can be faulty, if they are entrusted to less than qualified people, which is how Governor Palin should never have been picked by McCain. Qualification is earned through demonstrable intelligence and experience, not from popularity. As nice as Palin has made the thirty-something evangelical christians feel, this in no way shows her to be qualified for the vice-presidency.
Back to the point, lets look at all the socialistic tendencies America has in place, and then decide whether we really want to ridicule the evil of socialism.
1. The military, to defend the people from oppression
2. Public and Private education, to ensure that the society as a whole progresses intellectually, making life better for all.
3. The Transportation system, rails, roads, shipping, air traffic, all designed to connect populations of people to each other, thereby increasing the socialization of our species
4. The taxation system, designed to use funds provided by everyone to build and maintain that which all will use to some degree, thereby bettering the society at large
5. The centers for disease control, working to eliminate societally widespread illness and contagions, clearly for the betterment of the society, not the government, and only secondarily for the betterment of the individual.
6. For that matter, the entire medical field, at it's heart; however, democratic ideals have seeped into this field as well, fostering greed within the pharmaceutical industry as well as the actual field of practical medicine. But at the heart of medicine, is the survival and flourish of the society.

Socialism is deeply imbedded in our "sacred" democracy, like it or not. You may think you are an island unto yourself, but everytime you pull out into traffic you are tacitly engaging in a socialistic activity. By purposefully driving safely and not recklessly, by adhering to the rules of the road, you are participating in a societal act, thus I can rightly "accuse" everyone who has ever driven a car on a road amongst traffic of being a socialist. Of course such an "accusation" is not an accusation at all. Socialism is not a bad thing, despite what the ignoramuses at the broadcasted McCain rallies in PA might desperately want you to believe. I really wish people would stop before they start to denounce any idea they have little to no understanding of. I wish they would stop and ask themselves "Is what I'm about to say really true, or do I just think it is, because that's what I've been taught to think?"

Quite frankly, I think the country could use a little socialistic bent right about now, as long as those who put it into the mix do so with its real meaning at heart.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Fear, again

I began thinking about this particular blog a few months ago. After many sidetrackings, I've decided to return to it. So, the question is, are you afraid of dying?
Davy Jones asked his victims "Do you fear death?" in the second Pirates of the Carribean movie.
Do you?
If so, how so?
By what reason or mechanism do you arrive at the point of fear whenever the thought of your no longer existing comes to you?
What makes you feel the way you do about your own impending death?
Have you ever thought about death's psychological power?
I know, I know, I just asked a lot of similar questions. Let's try and find some answers.
Death can mean a lot of different things to people. For some, it means the end of our physical life, our body's demise. It can also mean, the end of our mindfulness, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions. For many, we can die an unavoidable physical death, but can choose to either die or survive a spiritual death. So I ask, what is it about an ending that is so fear-inducing? We have no inkling what non-existence would be like. We have only ever been alive. We are understandably unfamiliar with what being dead could be like. Infact, we can't even be sure there is a recognizable likeness to being dead, we could be privy to, having never been in a state of recogizable deadness before.
Death is the unknown, and the unknown is what drives and sustains fear. If you are at all, or have ever been, afraid of your own death, it was (is), for sure, the currently unknowable premise of what awaits you, post-life, which has fostered your dread.
If you are not afraid of your own death, good for you.
This means you have come to grips with your inability to fortell the future, in one of a few ways. Either you are living in the comfort of any of the various forms of immortality offered by the many world religions, or you are living your life according to the principle that there is no afterlife to worry about and you only have the time you have on this earth to do with as you will, for good or for ill. Christianity offers immortality via jesus' supposed ressurection. Judaism offers immortality to those who are jewish and are awaiting the "real" messiah who will take them into paradise. Islam offers immortality to those who believe in Allah and his one prophet Muhammad (I probably spelled this wrongly). Hinduism and Buddhism advocate varying types of reincarnation as immortality, and so on and so forth.
None of the religions offer relief from the oppression of fear through personal means. It is always at the hands of an outside figure, a god who controls things from on high, or a perpetual evasion, that we can, through the world's religions, attain relief. Relief through Belief.
The religions seperate the mind from the body. Indeed, dualism is a bedrock of religious dogma. Without it, immortality would be a much harder sell. It's vastly easier to persuade someone to buy insurance than it is to buy a well made and easy to maintain item. Religion is a form of insurance, against an unpleasant afterlife. We hear the pitch of the salesman, " Serve god now with all your heart, and receive riches beyond your wildest dreams upon your death and subsequent entry into heaven i.e. rivers of milk and honey, gold-paved streets. It resounds with us "wow, I really should think about this, what if all this stuff is true, and I am digging myself into a deeper hole...". and we sign the check. Think about it, people buy homes on the gulf coast of the united states all the time, knowing full well that hurricanes are an annual imminent threat, and then they buy outrageously priced insurance policies to cover those houses, in the "event" of a hurricane. When it would be much easier and smarter to not build a house in an area of the country prone to natural disasters. We are so easily persuaded to do stupid things, things that run counterintuitively to our own common sense, it is no wonder religion has entrapped the world's population.
If you don't believe that our fear of death and the fear of our own mortality fuels the belief in the god of christianity, then ask yourself " What if we were immortal right now?" What if humans had been immortal since day one? If, hypothetically, we were always immortal, then many superstitions would simply never have arisen. Vampirism, ghosts, angels, the mystique of the graveyard, voodoo, the light at the end of the tunnel, etc... I could go on and on, but the point is made, halloween would not only be much less scary, it would never have become a holiday at all, so I guess there is a good point to religion afterall :-). The fear of death and mortality pervades so much of humanity. Without it gun violence would not matter, neither would drug trafficking.
Infact, if we were immortal right this minute, then most likely we wouldn't even be here, from the simple point that if all humans, ever, have always been immortal, then we would have had no need to procreate in order to continue the survival of the species. Species survival would have been a nonissue. Seeing that the world is the size that it is and can house so many individuals of so many species it seems obvious that the world was "destined" to be the home of mortal beings who die off periodically only to be replaced by newer members of the species. Death is part and parcel of the natural world, as it only could be. If according to christianity, adam and eve were originally immortal then it seems odd that having been made in the image of god, as the bible narrates, they were bestowed with the same reproductive "equipment" as all other mammals.
Dualism, "the ghost in the machine", " the little man at the controls", "the homonculus", the "soul" whatever, is an unnecessary step. We do not need to seperate the mind from the body. What basis do we have to even consider such a thing. We do not have anything to point to which we can say irrefutably "that is from the realm of the supernatural". We only can interpret things as such. And if one can interpret something as supernatural, another can interpret the same as natural, which is exactly the point, there is nothing that is universally accepted as being from the supernatural realm (and for the record, again, I am of the opinion, until shown otherwise, there is no such thing). On the flipside, we have plenty of universally accepted natural-world objects. Concrete blocks, hair, the Atlantic ocean, cock-roaches, thermonuclear warheads, the list is limitless. Well what about songs? Do they exist? Or poems? If they are realized, through production of some sort, they then exist in the natural world, for all to experience, but if they remain unrealized, they still exist in the natural world, the difference being they can only be experienced by the author(s). Thinking something is no different than building something, only the scale of enjoyment changes between the two, not the realm in which they exist.

If we do not seperate our mind from our body, if we reject the idea of dualism, then we need not harbor feelings of dread about death. It is only because we have been sold our insurance policy that we hold onto the unknown and it's fearsomeness. If we relinquish the policy, the unknown will become irrelevant, and there is nothing at all wrong with this. Infact, this would be a much more peaceful world, if we all lived with no regard for a continuation past our own death. Life would be more precious, because we would recognize it's fleetingness, and we would enjoy it more fully, knowing that once we die, we are gone. There would be less of a struggle to find ourselves, to live at peace with our neighbors, to be good people, because with no safety net to catch us, we would be on our own, and being on your own is the best way to grow up and be responsible. Despite the siren song of religion, I truly wish civilization could look clearly at what the world would be like without religion just once. Fear is what religions need, and it is what we have swallowed hook, line and sinker, it's time to spit it back out, before the whole world gets hauled up into the boat and slapped on the grill.