Magi Mike's Blog

Another WordPress blog about politics and religion

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Whatever happened to the Prince of Peace?

leave a comment »


The UK Election and Defence

’Mark Ferguson of LabourList wrote that today several papers had splashed on a particularly unpleasant and personal attack on Ed Miliband, the contending Labour Leader, from Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon. Fallon’s claim that Miliband would get rid of Trident, Britain’s US controlled nuclear defence system, to do a deal with the SNP (the Scottish National Party) is nonsense. He has said on numerous occasions in the past two weeks (in his Paxman TV interview, in an interview with the People and in his leaked debate notes) that he favours continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent.’

Surely this is another example of Miliband making the less principled choice—the same choice as that offered by the right wing Tories! The cost of these four u-boats, as Fallon significantly called them, and their accompanying nuclear armed rockets for the UK is enormous, and it is money the social services and the NHS could do with. I do not budge from my preference for Labour rather than five more years of Tory robbery, but Miliband needs to find some principles from somewhere, preferably from the British working class. Labour will not bring in the socialist millennium, but with Labour in power there is more probability of a determined push from working class activists and institutions moving us and Labour in the preferred direction. In the words of Robert Griffiths reporting to the CPB Congress:

The period up to, during and immediately after the general election is likely to prove decisive in helping us to assess whether the labour movement can and will reclaim the Labour Party or whether major sections of the movement will have to consider what steps should be taken to re-establish a mass party of labour, one capable of winning general elections, forming a government and enacting far-reaching reforms in the interests of the working class. In order to create the most favourable conditions for resolving this question, and to advance the immediate interests of working-class people, an upsurge is needed in mass activity and action. That is why it’s so important that we discuss the priorities and line of march of the trade union movement, the People’s Assembly, the women’s movement, including the National Assembly of Women, and the peace movement.

The electorate have been duped into believing democracy is a five yearly cross on a ballot paper, but it took centuries of mass struggle to get that far, and it does not mean the struggle has ended. As the General Secretary says, it is time to renew it, and that means working class families demonstrating on the streets what they expect of the party they have elected, and that they will not tolerate any more of the BS we have been given by parties of both complexions over the last 40 years.

Let us stand up for ourselves! We can begin now by demanding the waste of our taxes on pointless but hugely expensive “defence” systems should cease, or we shall be canvassing for a new socialist party not merely a new Labour Party leader.

Advertisements

Written by mikemagee

9 April, 2015 at 2:52 pm

No Angels of Darkness and Light

leave a comment »


Karl Barth

The East-West question has accompanied and shadowed us all since the end of World War II. On this question I cannot agree with the great majority of those around me. Not that I have any inclination toward Eastern communism, in view of the face it presents to the world. I decidedly prefer not to live within its sphere and do not wish anyone else to be forced to do so. But I do not comprehend how either politics or Christianity require or even permit such a disinclination to lead to the conclusions which the West has drawn with increasing sharpness in the past 15 years. I regard anticommunism as a matter of principle an evil even greater than communism itself.

Can one overlook the fact that communism is the unwelcomed yet—in all its belligerence—natural result of Western developments? Has not its total, inhuman compulsion which we complain of so much haunted from remotest times in another form our avowedly free Western societies and states? And was it then something suddenly new and worthy of special horror when communism presented itself as a doctrine of salvation blessing all men and nations and therefore one to be spread over the whole world? Are there not other systems of this kind and tendency?

Further, could we really intend to help the peoples governed by communism and the world threatened by it, or even one individual among those suffering under its effects, by proclaiming and seeking to practice toward it a relationship exclusively that of enemies? Have we forgotten that what is at stake in this “absolute enemy” relationship, to which every brave man in the West is now obligated and for which he would give his all, is a typical invention of (and a heritage from) our defunct dictators—and that only the “Hitler in us” can be an anticommunist on principle?

Who in the West has even once taken the trouble to think through from the Eastern and particularly from the Russian standpoint the painful situation which has arisen since 1945? Were we not rather happy, and with good reason, over the Soviet contribution to the conquest of the National Socialist danger? Was it not the leaders of the West who toward the end of the war conceded and guaranteed the Soviet Union a determining influence in eastern Europe? Taking into consideration all that had happened since 1914, was the undoubtedly exaggerated need for security by which the Soviet Union tried to fortify itself and to hold the things offered it so completely incomprehensible? With what right did we begin after 1945 to speak forthwith of a necessary “roll back”? When the communists on their part took measures against such a roll back, was it inevitable to view this as an offensive military threat to the rest of the world?

Did we give the Eastern partner any choice? Did we not provoke him by erecting a massive Western defense alliance, by encircling him with artillery, by establishing the German Federal Republic—which seemed to him like a clenched fist pushed under his nose—and by rearming this republic and equipping it with nuclear missiles? Did we not challenge our former partner to corresponding countermeasures of power display and thus in no small measure strengthen him in his peculiar malice? Did the West finally know no better counsel than to put its trust in its infamous A- and H-bombs? And did it not serve the West right to have to realize that the other side had not remained idle in regard to such weapons? Was there no better diplomacy for the West than the one which now maneuvers the world into what seems a blind alley?

Moreover, what kind of Western philosophy and political ethics—and unfortunately even theology—was it whose wisdom consisted of recasting the Eastern collective man into an angel of darkness and the Western “organization man” into an angel of light? And then with the help of such metaphysics and mythology (the fact of an Eastern counterpart is no excuse!) bestowing on the absurd “cold war” struggle its needed higher consecration? Were we so unsure of the goodness of the Western cause and of the power of resistance of Western man that we could bring ourselves to admit only senselessly unequal alternatives—freedom and the dignity of man as against mutual atomic annihilation—then venture to pass off just this latter alternative as a work of true Christian love?

To the madness (I cannot call it anything else) outlined above I have been unable to accommodate myself in any way in all these years. I think that out of fear of fire we are irresponsibly playing with fire. I think that the West, which should know better, must seek and find a better approach to the necessary confrontation with the power and ideology of the communist East. Possibilities of a worthily, circumspectly and firmly guided policy of coexistence and neutrality were more than once offered to the West in past years. More honor would have accrued to the name of the “free world” had it taken up these possibilities; also, more useful and more promising results would have been achieved than those which stand before us today.

In particular I think that the Western press and literature instead of meeting the inhuman with inhumanity should have put to the test the vaunted humanity of the West by quietly observing and understanding Eastern individuals and relationships in their dialectical reality.

And I think above all that the Christian churches should have considered it their commission to influence by superior witness to the peace and hope of the kingdom of God both public opinion and the leaders who are politically responsible. The churches have injured the cause of the gospel by the manner, to a great extent thoughtless, in which they have identified the gospel (in this Rome is no better than Geneva and Geneva no better than Rome!) with the badly planned and ineptly guided cause of the West. The cause of the gospel cannot from the human perspective be healed for a long time by even the best ecumenical and missionary efforts. The churches have provided Eastern godlessness with new arguments difficult to overcome instead of refuting it by practical action.

Karl Barth, The Christian Century, 1960

Written by mikemagee

29 August, 2014 at 9:10 pm

What is the Incentive for People under Communism?

leave a comment »


We have to realise that capitalism has distorted our humanity. Social Darwinism is utterly mistaken so “survival of the fittest” is not how evolved societies work. Darwinism applies to solitary animals competing for resources, but society is one way in which animals can evolve so as to have better chances of surviving through co-operation, sharing, caring, empathy and altruism. Capitalism pretends that humans within society are equal to solitary animals outside it. On that basis they establish that the least human (the most greedy and selfish) will do better than the ones who stick to their social instincts to help others and care for them.

In the primitive communistic phase envisioned by Marx before there was any surplus to exploit, society still had different tasks to be done, and those that did not do their fair share were punished by the community, almost certainly by expulsion in serious or persistent cases. That will have meant death, and will have been the way the prosocial genes were increased in the genome relative to the anti-social ones, the latter over several million years being culled out (a process not completed). What though made someone agree to take on an onerous job like say the group leader? A leader was necessary because there is no time nor inclination to hold a conclave when we are attacked by a pride of lions, say. A leader shows the way, but why should anyone accept such a job?

There are no perks in terms of surplus value but what there is is prestige, the esteem of others in the group. Once we have had a few generations of socialism—which will need to guard against lapses back into capitalism meanwhile (“dictatorship of the proletariat”, would you believe), the instinctive kindly, sharing, helpful nature of people will return and the attitude will be one of wanting to do risky and unpleasant things for others, to have the regard that comes with it. Wanting to be admired is another natural instinct, complementary to sharing and caring. When we return to natural behaviors, helping each other because we like it and want to, the state can whither away.

Milton quotation: Gratitude

Why Socialism and Communism are Christian

leave a comment »


Capitalism and Greed

Christianity has been tried for more than eighteen hundred years. Perhaps it is time to try the religion of Jesus.

Dr Milman, Dean of S Pauls

According to the Reverend W D P Bliss, T G Shearman pointed out as long ago as the 1880s that around 0.05% of the population, own 60% of the wealth of “this land” (the USA). Today the distribution of wealth is if anything far worse.

A book by Richard G Wilkinson and Kate Pickett was published in 2009. It is called The Spirit Level, the metaphorical title referring to measuring the level of equality of a society, as the various subtitles added to different editions suggest, or explain:

  • Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better
  • Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger
  • Why Equality is Better for Everyone

The authors compared economic data with social inequality indices such as the Gini Coefficient to show that wealthy societies like the USA and the UK were very unequal in how the wealth was distributed among their people. It led to very bad data in respect of problems such as “homicide, infant mortality, obesity, teenage pregnancies, emotional depression and prison population”.

People’s wellbeing and their social cohesion were high in countries that were less wealthy but in which people felt wealth was more fairly distributed—for instance Finland, Norway and Japan. That sharing is a deep instinct is suggested by academic social studies—usually involving game playing—which show that people will pay to reduce inequality, and that even infants have an innate sense of fairness.

Of course, not everyone has the same abilities. When economics is driven by competition, so that the rule is everyone for themselves and each company for itself, some must succeed and others fail. Though sad and apparently wasteful, we are told the benefit is that the strong, the smart, the shrewd, and the perceptive will rise in the social hierarchy. Capitalist Christians who are often utterly appalled by Darwin’s theory of evolution, suddenly call upon him to explain the way capitalism works for the good of us all. They call it social Darwinism.

In fact, it is often the selfish, the unscrupulous and the dishonest capitalists who succeed best, and this outcome is the result of the basis of the system—competition. The competitive system encourages people of poor character to do well, and because it does encourage them, they may end up as millionaires or billionaires, though many, perhaps most, are no better than criminals!

The avaricious man is like the barren sandy ground of the desert which sucks in all the rain and dew with greediness, but yields no fruitful herbs or plants for the benefit of others.

Zeno

via Why Socialism and Communism are Christian.

Written by mikemagee

14 April, 2013 at 11:46 pm

Poorer Voters Concerned with Economics not Religion until they Get a Bit Better Off

leave a comment »


Voter Turnout by Income

Analysis of voter presidential choice from two large surveys of voter choice and personal characteristics—from family income to race, gender and religious identity—allowed sociology professor, Thomas Hirschl, and statistics professor, James Booth, to identify the degree of polarization and its source in the population.

Hirschl said that upper income white Protestants, who believe the Bible is the literal word of God, have more than doubled their odds of voting Republican—from 2.7 GOP voters for every one Democratic voter in this group in 1980, to 6.1 for every one in 2008. Conversely, secularly minded, upper income white Protestants reversed their partisan preference, from 1.9 to 1 in favor of the Republican Party in 1980, to 2.2 to 1 in favor of the Democratics in 2008. A similar but nut less pronounced split happened among upper income white Catholics, albeit evident only in households that had a total income greater than $75,000 (2009) per year. Hirschl added:

There was no comparable trend among lower income white Protestants or Catholics. African-Americans remained loyal Democratic voters throughout the 28 year study period, regardless of their religious identity.

Rich and Poor States Voting

This study of three decades of voter choice has shown that the influence of religion on voter choice among upper income white Protestants and Catholics intensified in the years between the elections of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and Barack Obama in 2008. It suggests that religious identity strongly motivates upper income white voters, but not African-Americans or lower income whites. Poor people are less concerned with religion and politics that the richer middle classes, remaining more loyal to the Democratic party as the party of economic reform.

The trouble is that the graphs shown here suggest that when poor people get even quite marginally better off they think they are rich, and a fair proportion of them start to vote, though they might not have before, and start to vote Republican. It ought not to require any great intelligence to see that very many so called “middle class” voters are actually poor, and fool no one but themselves by pretending they are on a par with Mitt Romney. The GOP has no inclination to wake them up while they are dreaming the American Dream.

Written by mikemagee

26 October, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Catholic Church to Lose Historic Property Tax Exemption in Italy

with one comment


The Santa Brigida convent in Piazza Farnese run as a bed and breakfast

In December 2011, after new austerity measures were adopted in the country, 130,000 Italians signed an online petition urging the government to strip the Church of its tax exemption. The move could net Italy revenues of 500 million to 2 billion euros annually, municipal government associations said. The figure is 6 billion euros a year according to UAAR, the Italian Humanist Association. The extra income from previously exempt properties in Rome alone, including hotels, restaurants and sports centers, could reach 25.5 million euros a year, La Repubblica daily newspaper reported.

Marco Catalano, a 35 year old shopkeeper in Rome, who goes to church twice a month, told the New York Times:

It was time that they paid, too, with all the exemptions they’ve had throughout the years. They own the most beautiful buildings in downtown Rome, on Italian soil, and rent them out at market prices. They don’t give them for free or at low prices for charity.

Written by mikemagee

14 October, 2012 at 12:02 am

Religious Interest Falls in the USA. Voters Do Not Know Romney is a Mormon Not a Christian

leave a comment »


I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I.

Joseph Smith

 

Mitt Romney has to Face Questions about His Religion in the USA Elections

A Pew study released found that many Americans do not know the religious faiths of President Obama or presumptive Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. A third of Americans do not know that Romney is a Latter Day Saint, a Mormon! The Mormons have conservative views, especially on gender and homosexuality, and are intolerant of members’ questioning official teachings.

The United Church of Christ, President Obama’s church of choice, is more liberal on these issues. Unlike the Mormons, the UCC is not centralized to the extent that the Mormon sect is. It is not uniform across congregations because doctrinal issues in the UCC are left to the congregations, not to a central institute as is the case with the Mormons.

17 percent of Americans say Obama is a Moslem. In 2008, Americans were likely to correctly identify his religion as Christian. Political opposition to Obama as president aimed to remind voters of his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. But Pastor Wright’s supposedly racist remarks actually showed them Obama was Christian.

The separate Pew Research Center “American Values Survey”, which polled more than 3,000 adults nationwide, found that approximately one in five Americans don’t have a religious affiliation at all—the most ever documented. It also found that 32 percent of the latest adult generation have doubted the existence of God—double the number of those who felt the same way just five years ago.

This survey found increased tolerance for difference in every age, religious preference and political group. The new generation is known for wanting to distinguish itself from its peers—to stand out so to speak—by adopting unorthodox ideas.

Criticisms of Mormonism

The doctrine of the Mormon Church separates it from Christianity according to the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant religions, all of which descended from Jesus Christ and his apostles. Mormons had no apostolic succession by which the holy Spirit is passed from priest to priest from the original apostles, could not have been involved in the Nicene Creed, and Mormon cosmology with its plan of salvation including pre-mortal life, baptism of the dead, three degrees of heaven, and exaltation by which humans may become gods and goddesses on a par with Jesus is alien to Christian thought.

Critics have questioned the legitimacy of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of LDS, as a prophet as well as the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and include claims of historical revisionism, homophobia, racism, and sexism and paedophilia. Evangelical Christians argue that Smith was either a fraud or deluded.

Written by mikemagee

11 October, 2012 at 8:57 pm