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SOCIALISM

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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:31 am

Interesting post on the blog. I need to read the blog more often because I always benefit and enjoy it when I do.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby call_copse » Fri Mar 01, 2013 7:30 am

Good blog post indeed. I'm glad the good doctor has elucidated on this subject.

Whether or not you are inclined towards socialism in any way it is a movement that has had aspirations to improve the collective lot of mankind at its heart. It is a gross injustice to associate such aims with Hitler, moreover it amounts to base ignorance to so do. You may think such a belief unlikely but it seems to be a prevailing belief among many Americans of a certain persuasion, and such wrong-headed revisionism should be countered at any opportunity.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:13 pm

Good thoughts. Thanks.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:36 am

When I posted that the Nazi party was the national socialist party of Germany, I did it knowing full well that Hitler was not a socialist. I was trying to show that labels can be misleading.

My family has a multigenerational love/hate affair with socialism. Long before socialism was "invented" my great grandfather, a Southern gentleman and surgeon who refused to join the Confederate army and thus had to "hide out", showed strong tendencies toward cooperative collectivism. Unfortunately he died as a young man in a Texas logging camp he had quarantined, staying there to tend his patients and die with them.

My grandfather named his sons after prominent socialists of the early 1900s. But these ancestors put their money on a horse that could not win. They had the optimistic belief that deep down people were basically good and could achieve Utopia by being nice to each other and cooperating in economic activity.

My grandfather was a pamphleteer. He wrote a pamphlet assuring the world that under cooperative socialism even the world's oldest profession could be eliminated. Under his plan, women would have no need to sell their bodies because they would be a vital part of the work force.

While I have high ideals and think that we can work toward a better society, I am of the school that says, "People are no damn good." Theologians call it original sin. I espouse the checks and balance system, not just in government, but also in business, industry and labor. I subscribe to the tenet that if it is big it is bad. Our government has been faced with the problems of institutions that are "too big to fail". I am more of a "let the chips fall were they may" kind of fellow.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby call_copse » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:14 am

@Philip
Interesting background, thank you. Utopias are neither feasible or necessarily desirable as far as I can see. I might incline to believe that business itself cannot succeed even slightly without people co-operating with integrity and honesty - it is elucidating to see how much business is still done on a handshake and shared understanding. Co-operation is needed whatever system is used to govern such. I am however certainly fairly convinced that whatever systems we have tried so far, we are not even close to an optimal level of performance on any measure - happiness or productive output say.

I'd strongly disagree that people are fundamentally bad though. Some may have been shaped that way but they are not close to the majority in my experience. As you say the fact is the chips will fall, or 'Que sera sera'.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Mar 04, 2013 10:47 am

It is up to the individual whether to believe people are fundamentally good or bad. You may believe as you choose. However, Jesus believed people were fundamentally bad and the Bible attests to that fact throughout. The Church believes people are fundamentally bad. The founders of the American Republic, many of them not Christians, believed people were fundamentally bad. We write laws to control society in the face of the fact that people are fundamentally bad. I have never seen a counter example in even one person. Like the apostle Paul, I struggle with my own natural, fundamental evil every day. If people were fundamentally good, then all possible societies would function well. None do.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:36 pm

Philip, if you haven't done so, read Steinbeck's East of Eden, which gets my vote for one of the top five books ever. He tells the Cain and Abel story over and over against the text that says to Cain that sin lies at the door, but you must/can/shall master it. The Hebrew word is timshel. In the book he has Chinese scholars study the verse for a year and declare their answer as "thou mayest." i prefer that answer. Our constant choice. I :| believe not in original sin, but an original tendency to sin. Psychologists point to an innate selfishness, which educators try to modify to cooperation in preschool or early grades.

My granddaughter sent me a picture last week of her preemie twins, two weeks old, moved into the same incubator. In the pic it looks like they are deliberately in the nestled spoon position. In another, the one whose back is turned appears to be reaching back to touch the other. Not sure the relevance, but I'm a great-grandfather several times over. I believe a child who feels wanted and loved has a distinct advantage over one whose parents either don't or cannot show affection.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Mar 04, 2013 6:45 pm

Perry: Not only is a child not evil before he/she is born, she/he is not evil until he/she understands right from wrong. Nurture certainly makes it easier for a person bent on evil to overcome it, but it does not guarantee it.

I have read "East of Eden" more than once. I also think it one of the best novels ever written. I have read every book Steinbeck has written. One can find excellent novels that point out the deliberate move of man toward evil and the counter force toward good. One of my favorite authors is W. Somerset Maugham. The short story "Rain" gives an introduction to evil that ends in ruin. "Of Human Bondage" is his major work and it explores evil to the max with good triumphant. I consider it to be another of the great modern novels and have read most of Maugham's books. We should note that sinners can be “Christian” revivalists (e. g. Elmer Gantry), and saints are forged in the most unusual places. Neither Steinbeck nor Maugham were saints in the "holy person" sense, but I am not going to be surprised to see them In Glory.

Everyone is redeemable. God loves Adolph Hitler as much as he loves Pope Benedict XVI. And we can never know who will be the redeemed. I frequently hit my students with the question of whether it is possible that Hitler is in "Heaven". I always get a 100% vote to send him to Hell. But Hitler did an inexplicable thing the day before his death. He married his mistress, Eva Braun. Why did he do that? Maybe it was a touch of Grace. One can hope.

We may have exhausted the patience of others in the forum with some of our threads. We might consider moving on to another topic. There are many Good Words to explore.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby call_copse » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:09 am

As to God I can only accept that this concept is internal to each individual that cherishes this historically strong meme. This definitely does not encompass myself - the logical gaps in the concept of a conscious creator as generally proposed are so large I could never bridge them to believe anything so contrary to evidence.

In terms of judgement of human nature I prefer my apparent forbear J.M. Barrie's consideration:

"We should be slower to think that the man at his worst is the real man, and certain that the better we are ourselves the less likely is he to be at his worst in our company. Every time he talks away his own character before us he is signifying contempt for ours." - James M. Barrie
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Mar 27, 2013 9:43 pm

call_copse: How does one determine right from wrong? Maugham has one of his characters tell Philip Carey that he can do anything he wants to do. Just keep a watch for the Cop on the corner. Others say that we should do what is good for society. Why? What if what is good for society is not what I want? Why should I want to insure the well being of society? What's in it for me? Without a real personal God with absolutes of morality there is no rationale for moral behavior. Of course, I am glad that you don't see it that way, so you will behave morally. But you have no rational ground to stand on.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby gailr » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:24 pm

That's a common question, Philip. However, history shows that no creed guarantees goodness, regardless of time or place. While I disagree that religion causes bad behavior, history also shows that it is easily perverted to reward immoral and unethical actions, profit from them, excuse them, turn a blind eye to them, hide them, and up the ante on other disagreements into murderous, multigenerational vendettas. When it is a religion doing this, the rank and file member is taught that a deity is making the immoral demands, not a charismatic or power-hungry fellow human. Even when this is apparent, the zeal of devoted followers to unquestioningly obey and suppress dissent carries the day for far too long. At critical historical times, people remembered for visionary ethics have been "good" in spite of their culture's understanding of proper religious thinking and action.

Whether people behave morally (a word much cheapened by restricting it to "sex") or not is determined in their own minds. Organizations of all types may encourage them to open or close their minds; membership in any group may reinforce what they already believe; peer pressure may strengthen their better impulses or give them license for baser ones. But ultimately each decides for themselves what is right and acts accordingly; that inner compass judges a given "holy book" as personally binding or not, no matter how strong the external pressure.

Whenever I hear a religious person expressing amazement that a nonbeliever is not just running amok and wreaking social havoc without the brake of Biblical restrictions I am disturbed: the subtext implies that the speaker would. When eager proselytizers assure me that the paperback they're clutching is the only thing keeping them from shooting or robbing their neighbors, my gut reaction is relief that I don't belong to their churches. I would hope that the majority of their respective memberships is more stable, but those aren't the ones knocking on doors making this argument. I myself am far more comfortable around people who make decisions rationally, based on one of the world's many versions of the Golden Rule and what alleviates suffering or improves the lives of their fellows, than on elders with incompatible, arbitrary interpretations of books conceived in times or places not remembered for enlightenment.

But that's my two dollars and two cent's worth.
call_copse's mileage may vary. :wink:
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Philip Hudson » Thu Mar 28, 2013 1:20 am

Gail: I like your response, respect your answer, and agree with much of it. It still doesn't answer the moral quandary posed by Maugham. I am a pretty strict disciple of C. S. Lewis, and I go with him on this.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby call_copse » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:45 am

Gail, that is a response I would be proud to call my own.

As to Maugham's quandary I would call upon Kant's categorical imperative - the idea that actions can only be considered moral if they could be imitated by anyone else and produce good results. Taking this line religion and morality are entirely independent.

More recently we have Daniel Dennet who states, referring to the idea that people need God to be morally good:
"What is particularly pernicious about it [the myth] is that it exploits a wonderful human trait; people want to be good. They want to lead good lives... So then along come religions that say 'Well you can't be good without God' to convince people that they have to do this. That may be the main motivation for people to take religions seriously—to try to take religions seriously, to try and establish an allegiance to the church—because they want to lead good lives."

Hence my belief that people do have an implicit moral compass however this is established - it may well be an intrinsic component of self interest. I'm more comfortable to determine what is good behaviour thusly than to derive it from a cosmic policeman.

This is not to disregard the benefits of religion for many and the good work done, which I fully accept. It is clear however that the framework of religion has never prevented bad behaviour, nor exploitation by amoral persons - as particularly evident in the US.
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:52 pm

350 years before Christianity, Plato taught that reality was in the "ideas" or "forms" of things. Thus, before there were table chairs, easy chairs, and lounge chairs, the idea or form of "chairness" existed. More abstractly, so did the ideas of justice - very important in the Republic - and goodness. The form or idea of the Good was the highest idea in some places as also was God. An ongoing discussion in philosophy is the relation of the two in Plato.

I agree the categorical imperative is an excellent concept and even guide to ethics. However, what Kant doesn't explicate very well is why we should base our behavior on a universal principle in the first place. What no one seems to point out is that Kant's prose is turgid at best and indecipherable at worst. I even tried reading some key passages in my crude German and could decipher enough to tell he was no more clear in his native tongue. One reason CS Lewis is popular is tht he both thinks clearly and expresses himself with equal clarity. Paul Tillich, my favorite, requires twice reading in his serious works before you understand his usage enough to get what he's saying
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Re: SOCIALISM

Postby call_copse » Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:16 am

On Kant I could hardly disagree. CS Lewis is just a tad more accessible! However Kant's ideas are interesting - I've not studied him directly, but I lived in a house with 3 philosophy students when at University, and discussed these things at great length. I see philosophy as very closely related to programming (my field) as the application of logic is pretty parallel, if just a little more abstract.
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