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"Only now is the child finally divested of all that he has been. His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world's turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man's will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay."
— Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West)

I'll be straight: the difference between the left and the right has never been mere policy.  We and they are not comrades in an argument over how to best provide.  The left and the right fundamentally disagree on what people are worth.

We believe human life has a fundamental value.

They do not.

We have a foundation on which we can build our moral values.  Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, Pagan, Zoroastrian, WHATEVER WE MAY BE, we come to the same conclusions on the important of human compassion, equality, and dignity, because we each believe that human life is worth something, and we've taken the time to think about what that means

They are nihilists.

Remember that.  When a Republican politician comes out and suggests tax cuts for the rich and slashing medical care for the poor, it's because he thinks human life is worthless.  Doesn't matter what holy books he reads.  Thinks human life isn't worth a damn.  He looks at human suffering, and he just doesn't give a shit.

When some pundit sneers, "liberal," what he's sneering is the fundamental value of human life.

Carry that with you.  Behind the politics is a fundamental philosophical war being waged on human decency itself, and its being waged by those who perceive they have something to gain from the utter degradation of human life.  

That's what it means to work for less and less as the highest ups make more and more.  You don't deserve more because you couldn't take it.

That's what it means when there's a war on health coverage.  Human life ain't worth saving.

That's what they do when they throw people in private jails for smoking marijuana to be used as slave labor.

That's what they do when they throw people in jail without trial or jury, when they torture and maim the minds of those already deprived of their physical freedom

That's what they advocate when they want to throw the LGBT community to the hyenas, from the time they're children in our schools to the workplace and beyond.

The Kochs and their little social club employ a whole industry whose sole purpose is to obfuscate the meaning of their agenda, by portraying their vision for our country, and our world, as technical solutions to technical problems, rather than a concerted agenda to make us cheap, marketable things.  Our counterattack should now, as always, be our impeccable moral fiber.  We all need to remember this.  Our language, our politics, our conversations, need be laden with the rich chorus of our values.  People who vote republican, these are our brothers, cousins, neighbors, coworkers.  These people are fundamentally all-right.  This is a fight for their salvation as well as ours, a fight for America's soul, and it's one we need to win.  They already believe what we believe: that human life is worth something.  We're all footsoldiers in this war, and no messianic figure can win it for us.  

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
-J.R.R Tolkien

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Comment Preferences

  •  What you say is true (0+ / 0-)

    But, speaking as a Plutocrat and post-politically -- the difference between the left and right is that the Right does not wish to invest in human capital (health, eduction, and welfare).

    Their view is that if they keep them breeding by outlawing abortion and family planning -- then humans are disposable and can be neglected to death.

    There is a never-ending supply of ignorant slaves that will work to eat.

    The American people seem to be fine with that. And, they get what they vote for.

    Who can argue with democracy?

    •  evidently China can (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto

      It appears the leaders of China are exasperated by GOP extravagance and are now pushing the US to cover some of its debts (which is what any wise house dealer does when he realizes a gambler is a plunger who will double up regardless of the situation)

      Entitlement cuts coupled with corporate tax breaks and tax cuts for the wealthy does not generate much sympathy among the Chinese and our other creditors as they are now pushing for tax increases on the wealthy and corporations with the threat of not buying our paper if we ignore them. It is going to be interesting to see which special interest our lawmakers are going to heed

  •  Thank (0+ / 0-)

    you for some clarity tonight.

    It really has come down to considering the country, the world as a whole.  Things have become too desperate for the luxury of faction.

    You can't outrun the line to Family. It can't be drawn in the sand.

    When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace- Hendrix

    by Maori on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 12:10:12 AM PDT

  •  you are both right and wrong (0+ / 0-)

    You are correct that the difference is:

    We believe human life has a fundamental value.

    They do not.


    But the key word there is "fundamental."
    The idea that human life has a fundamental value is called humanism, and it is something the right-wing disagrees with.  That doesn't make them "nihilists", in fact they have a moral philosophy of their own.

    The moral philosophy of the right-wing in this country is shaped by the Abrahamic tradition (often called the Judeo-christian tradition).  That tradition holds God as a supreme-good, a moral absolute which determines the goodness (worth) of all other things.  So human life does have value in the eyes of the right-wing... to the extent that God says it has value.  

    The key thing to understand s that once you accept the existence of a supreme good (whether God or something else) it becomes possible to justify anything in the name of that moral absolute. This style of thought is often applied by the right to other issues, most notably national security.  Once national security is accepted as a supreme good it logically follows that war, torture, murder, etc. are acceptable if justified by appeals to national security.  Similarly, once you accept "the free market" as a supreme good, then you can justify any negative consequences of policies supporting free markets.

    The problem here is not simply a specific disparity in values between left and right.  The problem lies in a style of thought which enables the right to justify any and all harm to human beings by appealing to a supreme good.

    When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

    by Thought Crime on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 02:03:51 AM PDT

    •  If you are trying to set up a dichotomy between (0+ / 0-)

      Judeo-Christian tradition or religion and a belief in human life as having a fundamental value, then I must point out that that is a clumsy and ungracious sentiment.

      It seems curiosity has killed the cat that had my tongue.

      by Murphoney on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 04:59:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the Judeo Christian tradition and its practice (0+ / 0-)

        represents a dichotomy in and of itself. Some years ago, I confronted a church elder who was infamous for his many affairs resulting in children he disavowed and a long suffering wife to who he gave STDs from his "prowling" around strip clubs. He assured me I was Hellbound while he was guaranteed a place in Heaven.

        I asked why should he go to Heaven after a life of debauchery and excess with no attempt beyond going to church of living a life true to the Scriptures. He said, "I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. His suffering and death on the Cross meant he at that instant forgave all my sins, past and present"

        Beats the hell out of the old Catholic practice of indulgences  

      •  The Abrahamic Tradition (0+ / 0-)

        Genesis 22:10-18 (King James)

        10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.  11And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

        13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.  14And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

        15And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

         17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

        The God of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed is the God of Abraham and the ideal of faith established in the story of Abraham is embraced by all three branches of that tradition.  Faith in this context is not simply a belief in the existence of God, or belief that God loves you, rather it is a complete submission to the will of God.

        That submission rests not just on fear of Gods power but also on the ideal of God as a Supreme Good, a Moral Absolute:

        Mark 10:18 (King James)

        So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
         

        In the Abrahamic (or, if you prefer, Judeo-Christian) tradition God alone is the source of goodness and the judge of what is good.  Human life is good only insofar as it serves and pleases God.  The value of human life is, therefore, not fundamental in that tradition, rather it is dependent on the judgement of God.

        You may claim that modern practitioners of this tradition wouldn't sacrifice their own children to God, but you would be wrong.   One recent example of this style of faith in action was the protests over distribution of the HPV vaccine.  Devout Christians demanded that the vaccine be withheld because they feared that it would contribute to, or even constitute, defiance of God's will regarding sexual behavior.  That the HPV vaccine would help protect their daughters from cancer was irrelevant to them because their daughters' lives were, at best, a secondary concern when the will of God was at issue.

        It may seem "ungracious" to point out the dark nature of faith, but that doesn't mean it's not true.

        When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

        by Thought Crime on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 06:19:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And now we all lose... (0+ / 0-)

          Pointing out a set of religious fundamentalists behaving as nihilists and focusing on the language of their faith does absolutely nothing to advance their well-being or ours.  What I assert here with the strongest emphasis is that we need to change the language we all use to bring the focus back to real people and real suffering.  The rejection of the world around us as unreal and unworth due consideration is the primary problem with a subset of the other end of the spectrum.  If you use language that implicitly acknowledges worldly problems need worldly solutions, then you don't have to get tripped up on this whole fundamentalist religious mess.  Someone raises you a line of scripture, you raise them real people with real suffering.  If they disdain that suffering, that is the type of exposition of callousness, of a nihilistic tendency to discount the obligation to consider the other, that marginalizes that mindset.  You are never, ever going to make any progress by attacking scripture.  Ignore scripture.

          •  language? (0+ / 0-)

            Language reveals thought.  It shapes thought and is shaped by thought in return.  The issue is not simply how people talk about our society's problems, it's how they think about those problems.  "Real people and real suffering" are less real to tens of millions of Americans than scripture, which is why you can't ignore it.  

            If you want to make progress than you have to convince people that real world issues must trump scripture.  Yes there are millions who will never accept that, but there are millions more who will.  And it is not enough to say that "worldly problems need worldly solutions".  That approach of segregating religious belief from real world events has failed.  It has been used by religious moderates for years and has helped provoke the fundamentalist backlash we're dealing with today.  

            You can't tell people that faith is good and sacred and terribly important, only to ask them to ignore it.  If it matters, then it always matters.  So the only way to make progress is, in fact, to attack scripture and to attack the very idea of faith itself as a good thing.  Convincing people that the medieval belief systems they cling to don't really matter is the only way to get them to set those beliefs aside and focus on real solutions to our society's real problems.

            When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

            by Thought Crime on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 10:57:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  ... (0+ / 0-)

      If you want to know why I would throw a lot of religious fundamentalists under the nihilist classification, Nietzsche took a lot of time to lay out the argument in the middle of some pretty indulgent self worship in On the Genealogy of Morals.  At the same time a broad swath of people who consider themselves part of the Abrahamic tradition can not be so classified, and I think breaking this down into a conflict with a broad swath of people who actually share our moral values does not serve them.  I will call a man Brother without regard to the peculiarities of the language he uses to talk about doing good in the world so long as his heart shares our guiding principle in living a moral life.  A religious man is often enough a good man, and if good is synonymous with God in his mind, he may often enough through our respectful labor be brought into the fold on specific points of initial disagreement on the following basis: what I have said is good, and God is good, so there must be some of God in what I have said.  We may not be able to turn Scalia's eyes back to the world that he so profoundly and negatively affects, there are others who are of greater quality.

      I also want to strongly emphasize that I think a broad swath of atheists fall under the umbrella of nihilism.  I reference you to the propagandists over at News Corp.

      •  "good is synonymous with God" (0+ / 0-)

        My point is that once you accept that "good is synonymous with God", or for that matter "good is synonymous with the free-market", you can justify anything in the name of that supreme good.  The man you call "Brother" today may slit your throat tomorrow if God asks it of him.  His "heart" may share your values, but God outranks his heart in the moral philosophy that guides his actions.  

        Abraham loved his son Isaac, and was still willing to kill him to make God happy.

        Your assertion that the right is made up of nihilists is based on the assumption that they believe "human life is worthless".  

        My argument is that you are wrong about their thinking.  Based on the actions and rhetoric of the right it is clear to me that they don't hold human life to be without value, they just hold human life and well being to be secondary concern and to only have value relative to some supreme good.  For many on the right that good is God, for others it is the free market or national security.  

        The problem is not that they don't value human life and well being, it's that they are willing to sacrifice it to serve what they view as a supreme good.  Further more; that style of thought and ethical calculus is rooted in the influence of the Abrahamic Tradition on moral discourse in our society.  

        When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

        by Thought Crime on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 06:42:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The varieties of the faithful (0+ / 0-)

          In our world God does not drop out of the sky to command the faithful to kill.  Men cite God and issue inhumane dictum.  Evidence abounds that not only is there an engine in the human brain responsible for moral thought, but that its presence is universal.  I completely reject the notion that most people abandon it in favor of a strict adherence to scripture.  I consider this a priori obvious given the diverse garden of faiths that call themselves Christian available in the modern world for human consumption.  People out of their element may defer to authority, but by brining people around on very specific issues using our common biological inclination towards moral thought, we can make progress in unifying people of various cultural backgrounds behind a more universal set of ethical principles.  

          •  you are only faithful (0+ / 0-)

            If you have have faith, i.e. the acceptance of a supreme good, are the issue.

            This isn't about adhering to authority, and it is not necessary to have "strict adherence to scripture" to believe that there exists a principle so important that anything can be justified in it's name.  People all over the world find the courage to defy authority in the name of the supreme good they have faith in.  They defy scripture, believing that God has personally revealed his will to them in some way.  And, as the story of Abraham and Isaac shows, they are capable of anything, because they believe themselves to be serving the highest ideals.

            Yes, there are moderate forms of Christianity, and that moderation comes at great cost.  To reconcile their religious views with humanism moderate Christians must put aside real faith, real belief in God as a supreme good.  Otherwise they must accept the view that humans only matter because God says they matter.

            It's all well and good to talk about "unifying people of various cultural backgrounds behind a more universal set of ethical principles" until you realize that was the idea behind forced conversions and religious warfare.  Not to mention Communism, the Pax Romana, the East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere and our nation's war to bring democracy to Iraq.  

            When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

            by Thought Crime on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 10:38:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  you forget the impact of fundamentalism (0+ / 0-)

      which completely rejects the idea of "works" and explicitly states that all that is needed is repentance of any sin However repentance for them does not mean not repeating the sin, so the believer may be a serial murderer but is still heaven bound so long as he repents right before death.  This get out of hell free card in essence frees them from any need to perform any acts of charity and mercy but frees them to be as venial and petty and grasping as they wish and still go to heaven while observant devout Muslims Jews Catholics etc are all going to Hell

      •  I haven't forgotten fundamentalism (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        entlord

        rather I understand fundamentalism in the light of it's rejection of modernity.  The "Ethical Rift" deconite describes is (in my judgement not his) rooted in the disconnect between the core ethical philosophy of the Abrahamic Tradition (i.e. the moral supremacy of God) and the humanistic ideal of the fundamental value of human life and well being.  This disconnect traces back to the Enlightenment and is indicative of an inescapable conflict between modernity and religious thought.  

        Many "moderate" religious individuals attempt to reconcile this conflict by selectively reading the bible in such a way as to support a humanistic ethical system, or simply by trying to relegate religion and ethics into different spheres of authority (i.e. the Separation of Church and State and the liberal ideal that "you cannot legislate morality").  

        This sort of philosophical and theological gymnastics is a transitional phase.  It's a crude adaptation of religion to modernity which is failing before our eyes.  Today we are witnessing a growth in both fundamentalist and secular movements as religious "moderates" find themselves no longer able to reconcile their religious views to modernity, which forces them to pick a side.

        When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

        by Thought Crime on Wed Apr 13, 2011 at 07:05:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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