23 March, 2006

Of Popes and Tyrants and Hedgehogs

Western religion is politics - this is why American right-wingers(motto: Jesus died so we can be jerks) proclaim that "America is a Christian nation" - because they see Christianity as a political force instead of a spiritual force. (the word "nation" as opposed to country or state is also interesting because it involves the implication of homogeneity) The situation in part of Africa and the Middle East are clearer with Islamic states - there Islam is the law, the government is the ruling class's Islam and therefore Islam is politics. Christianity was the same during the supremacy of the Catholic church - the pope was head of Catholicism and political head of Europe. I'm omitting Judaism because there hasn't in more recent times been a theocratically controlled Jewish state though I assume it would run into the same issues. Nor do I rule out non-Western religions that are similar in nature to Western ones.

Politics determines the structure of society and who controls it. During the creation of Islam and Christianity, the most familiar form of government was totalitarian which partly explains their setup. In Christianity, God is a king, Jesus is the prince, saints or angels or apostles are the nobility and everyone else is a peasant. The focus in Christianity is that the king makes the rules, the peasants blindly obey and exist to serve the king. Such a worldview co-existed naturally with absolute monarchies of the time, especially when the king of a state declared himself to be chosen by God and therefore part of God's nobility.

However, integrating the Christian worldview with democratic government is more problematic. Democracy is rule by the people, the ruling class responds to the will of the people who decide what the ruling class should be - it is completely at odds with the Christian form of government. To apply democracy to Christianity is to say that God must respond to what the people want, that God exists to serve the people, not that people are God's anointed slaves. The founders of the United States explicitly formed a democracy, a democracy that included freedom of religion therefore it could not have been their intent for the United States to be a Christian monarchy. Christian government necessitates a totalitarian structure and cannot exist in a democratic state. The only question is whether the people still will a democracy - if not, may almighty God(s) please turn me into a hedgehog.

14 March, 2006

Lu Bu and Anti-Intellectualism

Being smart has often been unpopular, just look at any school. Adults pretend that they've outgrown these childish tendencies but our attempts are as effective as a looney who thinks she's Lord Nelson because she owns a costume hat. When poorly educated leaders are elected, anti-intellectualism grows, reaching its apex in the "cultural revolutions" in Mao's China and Pol Pot's Cambodia where intellectuals were targeted for extermination. Our Glorious Leader, no lover of books(except those about pet goats), doesn't like smart people too much. When educated people told him that invading Iraq would result in a barrage of bullets flown at our troops instead of purty flowers, our Glorious Leader said in the nicest way possible "Go fuck yourselves." Similarly, our Glorious Leader hasn't been too open to science on global warming, reproductive health, evolution and the recent scientific finding that televisions do not have little people inside making the pictures(to which our Glorious Leader replied "But there they are... I can see them moving around in there. Scientists are evil. Baboogaga.")

Lu Bu of the late Han was no Han Fei or Sun Tsu... and he had the strategic capacity of a moss covered rock. Yet, initially listening to his learned advisor Chen Gong, Lu Bu was able to secure several key areas in Central China. However, as his power increased from overgrown school bully to an actual military leader, his arrogance and anti-intellectualism kicked in causing him to ignore Chen Gong's advice and during a siege of his last remaining castle, Lu Bu spent the time wisely preparing his defence(by being drunk and screwing his wives). The castle was flooded and Lu Bu's men turned on him and he was executed in disgrace by Cao Cao. Needless to say, his anti-intellectualism took him far, as far as our Glorious Leader, who is slowly letting our country be flooded by a wave of idiocy. While other states are investing in education to promote economic and technological growth, we are stuck debating whether the Bible is literally true or whether or not it is blasphemous to even have such a debate. While developing countries look at educational and technological advancements in the same way as a cat looks at catnip, we are knowingly and with intent trying to turn back the clock to the times of the Spanish Inquisition (Motto: "If our tortures don't kill you, we guarantee execution free of charge.") To see the lessons of the past and to consciously ignore them is perhaps the greatest tragedy of humanity.

We are a bunch of impudent bastards.

People are bastards, that's a given, but Americans have lately shown themselves to be a sort of mutant super-bastard. What did we do? We questioned our Glorious Leader, we dared suggest that Glorious Leader wasn't so glorious after all and we demanded*gasp* that Glorious Leader and the Glorious Leader's elected cronies actually do the *gasp* will of the people. The nerve of us... demanding accountability in a Constitutional Democracy. What's next? Kicking out politicians that are beholden to those who bribe them? That already happened in Dover, Pennsylvania and now the residents of that town will have to rely on life without divine intervention. So if a fire breaks out, they'll have to call the fire department to put it out instead praying to the Big Old Guy in the Clouds for a chance of rain.

The defeat of the Dubai deal was a success for Democracy where politicians, fearing the worst - loss of their jobs and access to bribes, actually did what people wanted them to do. Granted, some people wanted the deal defeated because they're racist douches and others because they've been conditioned by Glorious Leader that Muslim = terrorist for four years, but still.... Congress listened to all the bastards and did the will of the bastards - something that hasn't happened in years. Congress, maybe for a millisecond, remembered that it too is composed of 435 bastards, whose jobs depend on the approval of their constituent bastards. Will it last? Probably not... but it gives hope in an time where the future of democracy is at question and where corporate and theocratic powers have been the voices of choice for Congress. Perhaps it signals an end to the hurricane unleashed by our Glorious Leader to replace democracy with unbridled executive power and now, like in New Orleans, we can start to rebuild. Or perhaps, it's merely the eye of the storm and the worst is yet to come but there is at least a bit of optimism for the ordinary bastard who dares to believe that democracy isn't just a nice bit of propaganda.