Monday, June 16, 2008

Infectious Ideas

Niccolò Machiavelli has been dead for over 480 years, but he still scares me to death. He has affected my world although he has never seen it. He is dead, but his ideas are alive and well and wreaking havoc on our world.

His ideas are among the 15 philosophers/thinkers whose works are studied in Dr. Benjamin Wiker’s 10 Books That Screwed Up The World (and 5 Others That Didn’t Help). You needn’t have read these books to have been exposed to them:

“Unfortunately, philosopher’s absurdities aren’t limited to classroom sophistry
and eccentric speculations. They make their way into print and are thereby
released upon the public. They can be, and have been, as dangerous and
harmful as deadly diseases. And as with deadly diseases, people can pick
up deadly ideas without even noticing. These ideas float, largely
undetected, in the intellectual air we breathe.”

Machiavelli’s The Prince is one of the books Wiker dissects. Machiavellian is synonymous with deceit, trickery and other unsavory adjectives. Niccolò would be proud. In The Prince, Machiavelli counsels rulers to shed all moral and religious scruples and understand that true evil is often more effective than good. Machiavelli promoted the idea of “the ends justifies the means.” Want to know where the pretense of religiosity in politicians as a strategy began? Machiavelli. His ideas were studied first and rightfully so. The other books borrow from his concepts.

One of the unifying characteristics of these authors, with the exception of Descartes, is atheism. Others are the desire to replace the Genesis account with a counter-myth, to replace Heaven with an earthly utopia, to extol ‘natural man’ without any concept of original sin, to stress the one (the State) over the many (families, personal property, etc) and, most profoundly, to shake their fist at God.

Hobbes’ believed we have a right to whatever we want. That’s a particularly virulent infectious idea that has gripped many of our countrymen. Rousseau, espousing a natural man who was carefree, a make-love-not-war, peaceful chap who eschewed the confines of societal structures, help lay the foundation for communism and the sexual revolution of the 60s. Marx took Rousseau and stood him on his ear by imagining a utopia only after the great worker’s revolt.

John Stuart Mills’ Utilitarianism of 1863 was another attempt by an atheist to have “All the moral benefits of Christianity except without the Christianity part.” Bringing Epicurus to the 20th century, Mills maintained: Good = Pleasure; Evil = Pain. Ah, but some pleasures were better than others and so, foreshadowing today’s liberal elites, Mills and his ilk would determine for the rest what was the best for all.

Next, Wiker takes up Darwin, but not Origins of Species, rather Descent of Man. This lesser known book delves into the real evil of the notion of survival of the fittest when applied – eugenics or natural selection given a helping hand:

(After decrying the asylums and medical skill used to save the weak)

“Thus weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who
has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be
highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of
care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race;
but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to
allow his worst animals to breed.”
Eugenics had been applied to the breeding of animals, thus as man himself is but a higher evolved animal, soon this applied science was applied to man. The Nazi’s murdering of Jews is just one example; sterilization of the mental ill in America is another. Abortions, designer babies and euthanasia all are continuations of the evil born from seeing man just as a collection of molecules rather than made in the image of God.

There is much more to Friedrich Nietzsche than the glib summation of a t-shirt:

“God is dead.” – Nietzsche
“Nietzsche is dead.” – God

Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil created tentacles of beliefs that have wrapped themselves around our culture. He maintained we all have a “will to power” and that a ruling class of aristocracy was part of the evolutionary process. No pain, no gain; the requisite “suffering for one’s art;” and “acceptable collateral damage” are all derivatives of Nietzsche’s ideas.

Few would embrace going beyond good and evil with the fervor of Vladimir Lenin. He enacted Marxism. Seeing history as driven by the conflict of classes, violence was required. He denied God, so he wasn’t bound by morality. He denied Heaven, so he could create a utopian ideal on earth and in his will to power, he freely used brutality to clear the path for his worker’s paradise. The Black Book of Communism estimates before he and his successor Stalin were finished upwards of 100 million Russians had been sacrificed on the communist altar.

What is clear as you read Wiker’s book is how these books influenced future generations. Margaret Sanger’s The Pivot of Civilization took Darwin’s eugenics and made it palatable, to a degree. She wasn’t as direct as Hitler would be a few decades later, but she had her own way of ridding the world of undesirables - not just genetics, but the vague “unfit” of society . Sanger’s mechanism was birth control, abortion and forced sterilization. She is the founder of Planned Parenthood and she thought the intelligentsia should be the ones doing the planning. For her a low IQ was original sin.

Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle) builds on Machiavelli and Nietzsche. He embraces Machiavelli’s ends justifies the means. “Great humanitarian goals; ruthless means to achieve them; going against humanity to help humanity.” Per Machiavelli’s instructions, Hitler appears religious. He espouses a Weltanschauung or “political faith” that harnesses spiritual energy for political ends. When today’s political pundits speak of the “religious fervor” of some activist, they perhaps unknowingly tip their hat to Hitler.

Sigmund Freud, a self-described “godless Jew,” hung out his shingle on Easter Sunday. He openly sought to replace Christianity. He took the next step of previous atheists. He assumed atheism. Per Hobbes, there was no good and evil. Freud said his book, Future of an Illusion, expressed “my absolutely negative attitude toward religion, in every form and dilution.”

Though roundly discredited to a large extent today, Margaret Mead’s Coming of Age in Samoa wrote what may have been more an autobiography than scientific observation. Her lauding of the supposed free love, sexually uninhibited Samoans found its way into parenting books. Children should be “taught to think, not how to think.” Children should decide their path, not be restricted by parents. There were no core beliefs. Whatever path they chose was fine – I’m okay, you’re okay.

In one of the best summations of his book, Wiker writes:

“What is ideology? We live in such an ideological age that it’s hard for us to
distinguish good thinking from bad. The crucial distinction is that
ideology is not philosophy. Philosophy is the love of wisdom, the love of
what is real, whether we happen to like it or not. It is the desire for
truth, and the continual humility to remold our desires to fit reality.
Ideology comes at truth from the opposite direction, molding truth to what we
happen to desire. Because it has no compunction about refashioning truth
to fit our desires, it has no hesitations, in the hands of someone like Mead, in
refashioning reality according to our cravings. Pseudo-science is thus the
handmaid to ideology. Politics is its hammer.”

The 14th book is Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Today much is known of Kinsey’s own sexual predilections and the book can be dismissed by most honest critics as autobiographically and scientifically flawed. Nevertheless, Kinsey pushed the normalization of homosexuality into the mainstream of today’s collective conscience.

Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is the final book reviewed. As a woman and a child of the 60s, I was struck by how much of Friedan’s writing had crept into my thinking as I was growing up. When presented in her book, I reject these ideas outright. But ideas don’t always come to us in books; they are presented in movies, in culture, in songs and in communities. Most telling to me was Friedan’s assertion:

“The emancipation of woman will only be possible when woman can take part in
production on a large, social scale and domestic work no longer claims anything
but an insignificant amount of her time.”

There we have Friedan’s Marxism she tried so hard to conceal in full view. Only what’s done for the State is valued. The production of a happy home and hearth, the rearing of children, etc., are discounted. They are, after all, private enrichment and what matters is the State. Her question, “Is this all?” has led to the needless discontentment of generations of women.

Wiker concludes with an “Outline of Sanity” which shows how different the world becomes with God:

"Perhaps, as Nietzsche howled, God did indeed die, but rose again, an übermensch of a very different kind, one that can save us from the madness of our own making.”

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Guys Who Are Still Guys

In the late 1990s, a trend was spotted and books were written. At local bookstores or at, you would find titles such as The Feminization of American Culture or The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity and many more treaties on our evolving culture. The trend? The feminization of men and institutions.

Before I'm misinterpreted, let me put the disclaimer out: I appreciate men who are in touch with their feminine side. I just don't want that side to be the most prominent. When I was single, I joked with my friends that I wouldn't date a guy who was more feminine than me. In some circles, girls today would sit home a lot if that was their standard.

For a good book on biblical masculinity, I recommend Future Men by Douglas Wilson. Here's a paragraph from the back cover description:

When Theodore Roosevelt taught Sunday School for a time, a boy showed up one Sunday with a black eye. He admitted he had been fighting and on a Sunday too. He told the future president that a bigger boy had been pinching his sister and so he fought him. TR told him that he had done perfectly right and gave him a dollar. The stodgy vestrymen thought this was a bit much, and so they let their exuberant Sunday School teacher go. What a loss. . .

Country music star Brad Paisley has addressed this issue with insight and humor in his song, I'm Still A Guy. I LOVE this song. Here's a video of Brad performing the song and here are the lyrics:

When you see a deer, you see Bambi
And I see antlers up on the wall.
When you see a lake, you think picnics
And I see a large mouth up under that log.
You're probably thinking that you're going to change me
In some ways, well maybe you might
Scrub me down, dress me up, oh but no matter what
Remember, I'm still a guy.

When you see a priceless French painting
I see a drunk, naked girl.
You think that riding a wild bull sounds crazy
And I'd like to give it a whirl.
Well love makes a man do some things he ain't proud of
And in a weak moment I might
Walk your sissy dog, hold your purse at the mall
But remember, I'm still a guy.

I'll pour out my heart
Hold your hand in the car
Write a love song that makes you cry
Then turn right around, knock some jerk to the ground
'Cause he copped a feel as you walked by.

I can hear you now talking to your friends
Saying, "Yeah, girls, he's come a long way."
From dragging his knuckles and carrying a club
And building a fire in a cave.
But when you say a backrub means only a backrub,
Then you swat my hand when I try.
Well, now, what can I say at the the end of the day
Honey, I'm still a guy.

And I'll pour out my heart
Hold your hand in the car.
Write a love song that makes you cry.
Then turn right around knock some jerk to the ground
'Cause he copped a feel as you walked by.

These days there's dudes getting facials,
Manicured, waxed and botoxed.
With deep spray-on tans and creamy lotiony hands,
You can't grip a tacklebox.

Yeah with all of these men lining up to be neutered,
It's hip now to be feminized.
I don't highlight my hair,
I've still got a pair,
Yeah honey, I'm still a guy.

Oh my eyebrows ain't plucked,
There's a gun in my truck.
Oh thank God, I'm still a guy.