Conservative Colloquium

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Archive for May, 2008

Women and the Growth of Liberalism

Posted by Tony Listi on May 30, 2008

Very insightful article. Makes perfect sense: the more nurturing sex is more likely to think that the federal government can nurture its citizens as if they were children.

Just fyi, this doesn’t mean I’m in favor of repealing the 19th Amendment. Just means conservatives may have to work a little harder to educate women politically. Just means we need to show how the government cannot be nurturing but can be abusive when we try to make it  an instrument of nurturing. We need to empower women to look to themselves (and their private actions), not government, as the chief nurturers of society. We need to continue to strengthen the institution of marriage, so single women do not seek out big government, instead of faithful husbands, for love and security. We need to show married women how the federal government is a threat to children in general.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0%2C2933%2C358179%2C00.html

Monday, May 26, 2008

Indeed, she believes this year’s presidential campaign has shown that sexism limits women’s influence in politics. She claimed last week that “every poll I’ve seen shows more people would be reluctant to vote for a woman [than] to vote for an African American.”

It’s possible that Democrats are particularly sexist, but with women making up the majority of voters, one would think that politicians were ignoring women at their own peril.

In 2004, women made up 54 percent of voters. At least through early February of this year, women made up a much greater share of Democrat primary voters — accounting for between 57 and 61 percent of the vote in primaries and caucuses.

But whatever difficulties Clinton might be having, it seems that the policies adopted are much more important than who puts them into action, and the evidence indicates that women have long gotten their way.

Academics have for some time pondered why the government started growing precisely when it did. The federal government, aside from periods of wartime, consumed about 2 to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) up until World War I. That was the first war in which government spending didn’t go all the way back down to its pre-war levels. Then in the 1920s, non-military federal spending began steadily climbing.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal – often viewed as the genesis of big government – really just continued an earlier trend. What changed before Roosevelt came to power that explains the growth of government? The answer is women’s suffrage.

For decades, polls have shown that women as a group vote differently than men. Without the women’s vote, Republicans would have swept every presidential race but one between 1968 and 2004.

The gender gap exists on various issues. The major one is the issue of smaller government and lower taxes, which is a much higher priority for men than for women. This is seen in divergent attitudes held by men and women on many separate issues.

Women were much more opposed to the 1996 federal welfare reforms, which mandated time limits for receiving welfare and imposed some work requirements on welfare recipients. Women are also more supportive of Medicare, Social Security and educational expenditures.

Studies show that women are generally more risk-averse than men. This could be why they are more supportive of government programs to ensure against certain risks in life.

Women’s average incomes are also slightly lower and less likely to vary over time, which gives single women an incentive to prefer more progressive income taxes. Once women get married, however, they bear a greater share of taxes through their husbands’ relatively higher incomes – so their support for high taxes understandably declines.

Marriage also provides an economic explanation for why men and women prefer different policies.

Because women generally shoulder most of the child-rearing responsibilities, married men are more likely to acquire marketable skills that help them earn money outside the household. If a man gets divorced, he still retains these skills. But if a woman gets divorced, she is unable to recoup her investment in running the household.

Hence, single women who believe they may marry in the future, as well as married women who most fear divorce, look to the government as a form of protection against this risk from a possible divorce: a more progressive tax system and other government transfers of wealth from rich to poor. The more certain a woman is that she doesn’t risk divorce, the more likely she is to oppose government transfers.

Has it always been this way? Can women’s suffrage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries help explain the growth of government?

While the timing of the two events is suggestive, other changes during this time could have played a role. For example, some argue that Americans became more supportive of bigger government due to the success of widespread economic regulations imposed during World War I.

A good way to analyze the direct effect of women’s suffrage on the growth of government is to study how each of the 48 state governments expanded after women obtained the right to vote.

Women’s suffrage was first granted in western states with relatively few women – Wyoming (1869), Utah (1870), Colorado (1893) and Idaho (1896). Women could vote in 29 states before women’s suffrage was achieved nationwide in 1920 with the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

If women’s right to vote increased government, our analysis should show a few definite indicators. First, suffrage would have a bigger impact on government spending and taxes in states with a greater percentage of women. And secondly, the size of government in western states should steadily expand as women comprise an increasing share of their population.

Even after accounting for a range of other factors – such as industrialization, urbanization, education and income – the impact of granting of women’s suffrage on per capita state government expenditures and revenue was startling.

Per capita state government spending after accounting for inflation had been flat or falling during the 10 years before women began voting. But state governments started expanding the first year after women voted and continued growing until within 11 years real per capita spending had more than doubled. The increase in government spending and revenue started immediately after women started voting.

Yet, as suggestive as these facts are, we must still consider whether suffrage itself caused the growth in government, or did the government expand due to some political or social change that accompanied women’s right to vote?

Fortunately, there was a unique aspect of suffrage that allows us to answer this question: Of the 19 states that had not passed women’s suffrage before the approval of the 19th Amendment, nine approved the amendment, while the other 12 had suffrage imposed on them.

If some unknown factor caused both a desire for larger government and women’s suffrage, then government should have only grown in states that voluntarily adopted suffrage. This, however, is not the case: After approving women’s suffrage, a similar growth in government was seen in both groups of states.

Women’s suffrage also explains much of the federal government’s growth from the 1920s to the 1960s. In the 45 years after the adoption of suffrage, as women’s voting rates gradually increased until finally reaching the same level as men’s, the size of state and federal governments expanded as women became an increasingly important part of the electorate.

But the battle between the sexes does not end there. During the early 1970s, just as women’s share of the voting population was leveling off, something else was changing: The American family began to break down, with rising divorce rates and increasing numbers of out-of-wedlock births.

Over the course of women’s lives, their political views on average vary more than those of men. Young single women start out being much more liberal than their male counterparts and are about 50 percent more likely to vote Democratic. As previously noted, these women also support a higher, more progressive income tax as well as more educational and welfare spending.

But for married women this gap is only one-third as large. And married women with children become more conservative still. Women with children who are divorced, however, are suddenly about 75 percent more likely to vote for Democrats than single men. So as divorce rates have increased, due in large part to changing divorce laws, voters have become more liberal.

Women’s suffrage ushered in a sea change in American politics that affected policies aside from taxes and the size of government. For example, states that granted suffrage were much more likely to pass Prohibition, for the temperance movement was largely dominated by middle-class women. Although the “gender gap” is commonly thought to have arisen only in the 1960s, female voting dramatically changed American politics from the very beginning.

John Lott is the author of Freedomnomics and a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Culture War, Feminism, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

A Disgrace to the Roman Collar

Posted by Tony Listi on May 30, 2008

Cardinal Francis George ought to pull Fr. Pfleger from his parish. He is not fit to lead a flock.

Posted in Catholicism, Christianity and Politics, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Politics and Religion, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Woodrow Wilson: America’s Worst and First Fascist President

Posted by Tony Listi on May 29, 2008

Thomas Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US president, often makes the top ten in rankings of the best US presidents. In the well-known polls taken by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. in 1948 and 1962, Wilson was ranked #4 behind Lincoln, Washington, and FDR. By the end of this post, I hope you will agree with me that he belongs in the bottom rung and was one of our worst presidents ever, if not THE worst.

Wilson was the first president to criticize the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.
Wilson criticized the diffuseness of government power in the US in most famous book Congressional Government. In this work he confessed, “I cannot imagine power as a thing negative and not positive.” His love and worship of power was a prime characteristic of fascism. “If any trait bubbles up in all one reads about Wilson it is this: he loved, craved, and in a sense glorified power,” writes historian Walter McDougall. It should not surprise us that his idols were Abraham Lincoln and Otto von Bismarck.

“No doubt a lot of nonsense has been talked about the inalienable rights of the individual, and a great deal that was mere sentiment and pleasing speculation has been put forward as fundamental principle,” wrote Wilson, attacking the very individual rights that have made America great.

He rejected the principles of “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” that are the foundation of American government: “Government does now whatever experience permits or the times demand….” wrote Wilson in The State.

No fan of democracy or constitutional government, he wrote the following in Constitutional Government in the United States: “The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit….” Sounds like a devotee of the imperial presidency.

Indeed, in a disturbing 1890 essay entitled Leaders of Men, Wilson said that a “true leader” uses the masses of people like “tools.” He writes, “The competent leader of men cares little for the internal niceties of other people’s characters: he cares much–everything–for the external uses to which they may be put…. He supplies the power; others supply only the materials upon which that power operates…. It is the power which dictates, dominates; the materials yield. Men are as clay in the hands of the consummate leader.” So much for the dignity of each person!

“Woe be to the man or group of men that seeks to stand in our way,” said Wilson in June 1917 to counter protests to the fascist regime that he created upon entering WW I.

Wilson rejects the Jeffersonian individualism that has defined the Founding and American conservatism: “While we are followers of Jefferson, there is one principle of Jefferson’s which no longer can obtain in the practical politics of America. You know that it was Jefferson who said that the best government is that which does as little governing as possible…. But that time is passed. America is not now and cannot in the future be a place for unrestricted individual enterprise.” Follower of Jefferson? Yeah right!

Wilson sought war with Germany and purposefully drew the US into World War I.
“I am an advocate of peace, but there are some splendid things that come to a nation through the discipline of war,” said Wilson and he would seek after those progressive “splendid things” when the opportunity of WW I arose.

It is an often overlooked fact of WW I that Great Britain’s powerful navy blockaded Germany and in so doing starved the German population. And guess who led the British in this distant blockade (which was against international law at the time)? Our dear beloved Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. This blockade drove the Germans to retaliate with submarine warfare (U-boats), and they warned that “neutral ships will be exposed to danger” and it would be “impossible to avoid attacks being made on neutral ships in mistake for those of the enemy.” This was especially true since British abused the rules of war by decorating their warships with neutral flags to lure German submarines to the surface and destroy them.

Wilson all the while claimed neutrality but was actually very pro-British. The British blockade and the German unrestricted submarine warfare both violated the rights of neutral nations under international law. But he refused to acknowledge that the former had led to the latter. German misdeeds against vessels carrying Americans received swift denunciation from Wilson, but the terrible British blockade that starved hundreds of thousands of Germans to death got a slap on the wrist. The Germans even proposed to end their unrestricted sub warfare if the British would end the blockade; the British refused. It was this double standard that would drive Wilson to bring the US into the war.

The cunning Churchill knew of Wilson’s irrational disposition and used it to his advantage: “It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores in the hope especially of embroiling the United States with Germany….” Britain aimed to lure America into the war. Indeed, by making it dangerous for the German submarines to surface, Churchill would increase his chances of success: “The submerged U-boat had to rely increasingly on underwater attack and thus ran the greater risk of mistaking neutral for British ships and of drowning neutral crews and thus embroiling Germany with other Great Powers.” By that time, the US was the only great power left that had remained neutral.

The most famous incident was the sinking of the Lusitania. But you will seldom read in school textbooks that the German government actually published warnings in major newspapers not to book passage on the great vessel. But most passengers ignored the warning. The German U-boat only fired one torpedo at the Lusitania and, to the surprise of the German captain Walter Schwieger, that was all it took. The liner went down so quickly that Swieger noted, “I could not have fired a second torpedo into this thing of humanity attempting to save themselves.” A total of 124 Americans died.

What was the American reaction to this tragedy? Hardly any of the newspapers advocated that declaring war was the proper response. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan certainly had no desire to go to war over it and challenged Wilson’s double standard head on: “Why be shocked by the drowning of a few people, if there is no objection to a starving nation?” It was of no use and Bryan resigned in protest. Senators Wesley Jones of Washington and Robert Follette of Wisconsin urged the President to exercise restraint.

Bryan’s replacement, Robert Lansing, reveals that the Wilson administration was determined to go to war: “In dealing with the British government, there was always in my mind the conviction that we would ultimately become an ally of Great Britain and that it would not do, therefore, to let our controversies reach a point where diplomatic correspondence gave place to action.” American protests against Britain were carefully “submerged in verbiage. It was done with deliberate purpose. It insured the continuance of the controversies and left the questions unsettled, which was necessary in order to leave this country free to act and even act illegally when it entered the war.”

Germany then agreed to call off the sub warfare if Wilson would pressure Britain to stop the hunger blockade (Sussex Pledge). Wilson refused.

Then Wilson did the most irresponsible act that brought us into war: he ordered that merchant ships be armed with US Navy guns and staffed with US Navy crews and that they fire on any surfacing submarines they encountered. Under such circumstances, the ships sailed into the war zone. Wilson sent out ships with the purpose of sacrificing them in order to push America into war! Four of them had been sunk by the time Wilson requested a declaration of war from Congress. It was only after the war that Congress would realize what a dangerous fanatic Wilson was and actually stood up to him be rejecting the Treaty of Versailles, especially Article 10 the League of Nations. This article obligated each League member to preserve the territorial integrity of the other member states. Why should the US sacrifice blood and treasure for obscure border disputes in Europe? Congress was not advocating isolationism as many have asserted but rather defending its own constitutional authority to decide when America goes to war.

John Bassett Moore, a distinguished professor of international law at Columbia University who would serve on the International Court of Justice after the war, argued that “what most decisively contributed to the involvement of the United States in the war was the assertion of a right to protect belligerent ships on which Americans saw fit to travel and the treatment of armed belligerent merchantmen as peaceful vessels. Both assumptions were contrary to reason, and no other neutral advanced them.” Wilson apparently believed that every American, in time of war, had the right to travel aboard armed, belligerent merchant ships carrying munitions of war through a declared submarine zone. No other neutral power had ever proclaimed such a doctrine, let alone gone to war over it!

No American interest was at stake in WW I, and yet a total of 116,516 men died and 204,002 were wounded. In fact, Wilson bragged about fighting a war with no national interests at stake! “There is not a single selfish element, so far as I can see, in the cause we are fighting for,” he declared. It was a war to satisfy his own naive idealism that he could remake the world in his “progressive” ideology. War was an instrument for perverse social engineering that would remake the world: “[A]s head of a nation participating in the war, the president of the United States would have a seat at the peace table, but…if he remained the representative of a neutral country, he could at best only ‘call through a crack in the door.'” The whole war was so that HE could have a seat at a table?! The guy was insane, sick (even Freud, who wrote a whole book on Wilson, thought so).Movie Poster

Wilson created the first official propaganda department in the US.
A week after Congress declared war on Germany, Wilson created a government apparatus whose sole purpose was to lie to the American people, the first modern ministry for propaganda in the West. It was called the Committee on Public Information and was led by journalist George Creel.

Edward Bernays, an adviser to Wilson and participant in CPI operations, characterized the mission of CPI as the “engineering of consent” and “the conscious manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses.”

A typical poster for Liberty Bonds read: “I am Public Opinion. All men fear me!…[I]f you have money to buy and do not buy, I will make this No Man’s Land for you!” Other posters were created to mobilize the public and silence dissent.

A trained group of nearly a hundred thousand men gave four minute speeches to any audience that would listen. They portrayed Wilson as a larger-than-life leader and the Germans as less-than-human Huns, emphasizing fabricated German war crimes and horrors.

CPI released propaganda films entitled The Claws of the Hun, The Prussian Cur, To Hell With The Kaiser, and The Kaiser, the Beast of Berlin.

Wilson harshly suppressed dissent and resistance among citizens and the press.
At Wilson’s urging, a Sedition Act (not unlike the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 ) forbade Americans from criticizing their own government in a time of war. Citizens could not “utter, print, write or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language” about the government or the military. The Postmaster General was given the authority to revoke the mailing privileges of those who disobeyed. About 75 periodicals were were shut down by the government in this way and many others were given warnings.

In the fashion of a police state, the Department of Justice arrested tens of thousands of individuals without just cause. One was not safe even within the walls of one’s own home to criticize the Wilson administration. A letter to federal attorneys and marshals said that citizens had nothing to fear as long as they “Obey the law; keep your mouth shut.” In fact, the Justice Department created the precursor to the Gestapo called the American Protective League. Its job was to spy on fellow citizens and turn in “seditious” persons or draft dodgers. In September of 1918 in NYC, the APL rounded up about 50,000 people. This doesn’t even include the infamous Palmer Raids (named after Wilson’s attorney general) that occurred after the war.

In 1915, in his address to Congress, Wilson declared, “The gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags…who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes….”

All in all it is estimated that about 175,000 Americans were arrested for failing to demonstrate their patriotism in one way or another.

Wilson took over the US economy completely.
He charged Bernard Baruch with running the War Industries Board, which would endeavor to control all industry in service to the state. It would serve as a precursor to the corporatist policies Mussolini and Hitler.

Grosvenor Clarkson, a member and later historian of the WIB, would characterize the WIB as follows: “It was an industrial dictatorship without parallel–a dictatorship by force of necessity and common consent which step by step at least encompassed the Nation and united it into a coordinated and mobile whole.” He would also later say that the war was “a story of the conversion of a hundred million combatively individualistic people into a vast cooperative effort in which the good of the unit was sacrificed to the good of the whole.” The government weakened the spirit of the people to resist government tyranny.

Rationing and price-fixing characterized the wartime command economy. (hmmm, sounds like communism and the Carter administration)

Wilson himself was a major cause of the outbreak of World War II.
It is a well-accepted fact that the extremely harsh and unfair terms of the Treaty of Versailles were the incipient cause of WW II. Wilson’s Fourteen Points were fair and persuaded the Germans to surrender before the allies devastated Germany. He had the opportunity to make sure Europe did not take revenge on Germany, but he let is slip away. He threw Germany to the dogs so he could have his worthless, utopian League of Nations. He deluded himself into thinking the League could make up for the other thirteen points. This stab in the back of Germany would give rise to Hitler and allow him to rouse the German people to war a mere two decades or so later. Therefore, in a very real sense, Wilson is responsible for all the horrors of WW II.

In sum, Wilson was the first fascist president of the US and first major fascist dictator of the 20th c.
Wilson took over the US economy, infringed on American civil liberties especially by suppressing dissent, oppressed the “unpatriotic,” and purposefully sought to drag the US into war. This Marxist, totalitarian, jingoistic, and militaristic Democrat president was a fascist. He worshiped the power of the state, and such statolatry is exactly what fascism is.

I don’t think President George W. Bush is a fascist, but his Wilsonian idealism for spreading democracy should disturb any conservative. America was attacked on 9/11; no such thing happened during Wilson’s presidency. The Patriot Act is no where near as harmful to civil liberties as Wilson’s Sedition Act was, if harmful at all.

Though the Democratic Party is largely dominated by anti-war people now (even though Soviet communism and radical Islam have been actual threats to national security unlike the Kaiser’s Germany), Wilson’s fascism still remains with the party, especially with regard to economics and expanding the power of the federal government in general whenever possible. This should not be surprising since fascism is a product of the Left, not the Right, side of the political spectrum.

(Reference The Politically Incorrect Guide to US History and Liberal Fascism)

Posted in 1st Amendment-Free Speech, American History, Fascism, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Politicians, Socialism, The Constitution, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 140 Comments »

Fascism is Merely Heretical Communism, Like Liberalism

Posted by Tony Listi on May 29, 2008

How many times have you heard a liberal call a conservative a “fascist” or “neo-fascist”? The Left apparently thinks that only right-wingers can be fascists. But the truth is that fascism is wholly a product of the Left, not the Right, side of the political spectrum. Only liberals can be fascists because modern American liberalism is a product of communist and fascist ideology.

This can be most clearly and immediately seen by examining the term “Nazism,” which is actually short-hand for National Socialism in German. The Nazi Party was the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Socialism is an ideology of the Left! Communism is global socialism, and fascism is national socialism. The ONLY real difference between the two is one of scope and geography.

Mussolini: Communist Heretic
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, dictator of fascist Italy and conventionally labeled the father of fascism (the term “fascism” is Italian in origin), was a lifelong socialist and follower of Karl Marx. He was named after two socialists: Amilcare Cipriani and Andrea Costa. His father was a stalwart socialist who was a member of the First International and served on the local socialist council. His father read him passages from Das Kapital (I know that’s what I read when I want to put myself to sleep, haha). Benito started early in his socialist activism: he called himself a socialist while in high school and became the secretary of a socialist organization at Forli at the age of 18.

In his youth, he carried a medallion of Karl Marx. He also became close friends with Angelica Balabanoff, a longtime colleague of Lenin. In fact, Lenin and Mussolini were mutual admirers. Lenin wrote, “Mussolini? A great pity he is lost to us! He is a strong man, who would have led our party to victory.”

Mussolini seriously began his political career as a left-wing journalist and intellectual. He was very well read in socialist theory. He wrote countless socialist tracts and articles that both examined and translated socialist literature. In 1911, he became the editor of La lotta di classe (Class War), which served as a mouthpiece for the Italian Socialist Party. In 1912, he attended a Socialist congress.

Leading socialist Olindo Vernocchi said, “From today you, Benito, are not only the representative of the Romagna Socialists but the Duce of all revolutionary socialists in Italy.” This was how he received the nickname Il Duce, literally “the leader.” He was the Duce of Socialism!

Leda Rafanelli, an anarchist intellectual, wrote “Benito Mussolini…is the socialist of heroic times.”

Mussolini joined the formal leadership of the Italian Socialist Party and became editor of its paper called Avanti! , which would become socialist gospel for a whole generation of socialists. Lenin would comment approvingly of Mussolini’s efforts in Pravda.

Mussolini’s break with strict, dogmatic socialism would begin with the outbreak of World War I. His support of the war contravened the principle of international solidarity and the elimination of national borders (nationality itself to be precise). He saw it as a practical necessity, but he received a backlash from hardline believers. He responded, “You hate me today because you love me still. Whatever happens, you won’t lose me. Twelve years of my life in the party ought to be sufficient guarantee of my socialist faith. Socialism is in my blood.” Again, he countered, “You think you can turn me out, but you will find I shall come back again. I am and shall remain a socialist and my convictions will never change! They are bred into my very bones.”

Mussolini did not move to the right or radically change his political philosophy. He merely rejected one tenet of orthodox Marxism: class must come before nationality or any other group identity. “I saw that internationalism was crumbling,” Mussolini later observed. “The sentiment of nationality exists and cannot be denied.” He thought it was “utterly foolish” to believe that class consciousness could trump national loyalties and culture. Thus was born national socialism, a modification from traditional socialism only in the sense that it was less ambitious in scope and recognized that the natural power of nationalism could be harnessed as a means to socialist ends. Thus Mussolini said that its was “necessary to assassinate the Party in order to save Socialism.” It was this little heresy that would divide Europe’s socialists. And the Italian people would choose national socialism (fascism) over international socialists and communists.

And thus Mussolini came to power as a very popular dictator. He proceeded to create a totalitarian state (a term that he coined) as communism requires: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.” There was hardly a difference between it and the Soviet Union with regard to policy. The State would control everything and had the final authority.

Before his death, he selected a socialist journalist to record some of his last thoughts and wishes: “I bequeath the republic to the republicans not to the monarchists, and the work of social reform to the socialists and not to the middle classes.”

Hitler: Man of the Left
Hitler wrote approvingly of Italian fascism in Mein Kampf: “The appearance of a new and great idea was the secret of success in the French Revolution. The Russian Revolution owes its triumph to an idea. And it was only the idea that enabled Fascism triumphantly to subject a whole nation to a process of complete renovation.” He realized the necessity of having an idea that would arouse the masses.

For years historians have tried to portray Nazism as the polar opposite of Communism. The role of industrialists has been exaggerated while the clear and substantial socialist aspects of Nazism have been ignored or downplayed. Nazism did not destroy the communist Left in Germany; it merely replaced the communists on the Left side of the spectrum in Germany. The fact of the matter is that the working classes (the bloc that typically supported the communists) comprised a substantial part of the Nazis electoral base. German Nazism and Italian Fascism were both populist movements that attracted support from all levels of society. Moreover, the industrial sector came to support Hitler much later than the working masses. Businesses hopped on the band wagon when they saw it was in their best interests.

Like any good leftist, Hitler was a revolutionary and exploited anti-capitalist rhetoric in his rise to power. He despised the bourgeoisie, traditionalists, aristocrats, monarchists, and all believers in the established order. Because he wished to remake German society entirely, he was no conservative! He wrote in Mein Kampf, “Either the German youth will one day create a new State founded on the racial idea or they will be the last witnesses of the complete breakdown and death of the bourgeoisie world.” He rejected traditional Christianity; he wanted to revive Germany’s so-called pre-Christian authenticity, or in other words, to create a modern paganism. He was well read in German mythology and pseudo-history. His idols were Georg Ritter von Schonerer and Dr. Karl Lueger.

He rhetoric mirrored Lenin’s: “Our bourgeoisie is already worthless for any noble human endeavor.” Once he was entrenched in power he clarified his opposition to communism thus: “Had communism really intended nothing more than a certain purification by eliminating isolated rotten elements from among the ranks of our so-called ‘upper ten thousand’ or our equally worthless Philistines, one could have sat back quietly and looked on for awhile.” Hitler didn’t disagree with the German communists in principle or policy, especially with regard to economics; he was enraged at their undermining of Germany with strikes during WW I and antiwar mobilization. He thought they were part of a coalition that had stabbed Germany in the back. Indeed, Hitler often spoke with grudging admiration of Stalin and the communists. Hitler studied Marxism, which both fascinated and repulsed him, appreciating its ideas but becoming utterly convinced that Marx was the architect of some Jewish plot.

Hitler entered the Nazi Party because of a talk given by Gottfried Feder entitled “How and by What Means is Capitalism to be Eliminated?” The party stood for everything he believed in, and thus started his career as the party’s best salesman. The Nazis campaigned as socialists.
What exactly did the party stand for? Its platform included:

“We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.” Sounds like nanny state liberalism.

“Abolition of unearned (work and labor) incomes. Breaking of rent-slavery.” Can you say death tax and rent control?

“We demand the nationalization of all (previous) associated industries (trusts).” That doesn’t sound free market.

“We demand a division of profits of all heavy industries” Hmmm, a “windfall” profits tax?

“We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare.” Sounds like FDR’s Social Security, no?

“The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program…. The comprehension of the concept of the State must be striven for by the school as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the State….” Sounds like a government monopoly on the schools. Isn’t that what Democrats are for?

“The State is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.” Hmmm, you think Hitler would have banned trans fats?

“…a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.” This is what liberals mean when they say “the common good.”

“For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich.” Centralization of power in the national government? Does that sound right-wing to you?

Read the platform for yourself. There is nothing conservative about it.

Racism was not an element of fascism originally in Italy. Anti-Semitism was an innovation of Hitler’s. Mussolini considered it a silly distraction. But Hitler’s identity politics was powerful and successful (hmmm, which modern American political party practices identity politics?). Of course, anti-Semitism is by no means a right-wing phenomenon. We should not forget that Stalin and Karl Marx himself hated Jews. Jews were seen (and are still seen today to some extent) as the archetypal capitalists. Thus it was only natural that the Left, including Hitler, should hate them!

Nationalism isn’t inherently right-wing at all either. Consider Stalin, Castro, Arafat, Hugo Chavez, Che Guevara, Pol Pot, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. The only reason nationalism came to be seen as right-wing is because the communists, who were internationalists, labeled the fascists as right-wing. Why the heck should we be adopting the political lens of communism in order to find out what fascism really is?!

Nazi ideologist Gregor Strasser was straightforward about it: “We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and their performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!”

Hitler dedicates an entire chapter in his Mein Kampf to how the Nazis can appropriate socialist and communist imagery, rhetoric, and ideas to attract leftists to the party. The Nazis made use of the color red deliberately: “In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man.”
Hitler would often exaggerate his identity as an “ex-worker”: “I was a worker in my youth like you, slowly working my way upward by industry, by study, and I think I can say as well by hunger.”

Fascism and communism are kindred spirits. As communist ideologue Karl Radek noted, “Fascism is middle class Socialism….”

(Reference Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg)

Posted in American Culture, Culture War, Fascism, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Socialism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Democratic Party=Communist Party

Posted by Tony Listi on May 28, 2008

Sometimes Democrats actually say what they really would like to do in plain English:

Hmmm, socializing? Government taking over? Government running all our oil companies?

Yeah, we’ve seen this before: besides Chavez, it’s called Vladimir Putin! It’s called the Soviet Union! It’s called communism (and fascism for that matter)!

The Democrats restrict supply by preventing our oil companies from drilling. Economics 101: restricting supply has the effect of increasing prices (assuming demand stays the same or grows). And then the Democrats blame the oil companies for high gas prices which they themselves created! The nerve! They want to use the high gas prices that they caused as a justification for a government take over?! The government interferes with the market, causes a rise in prices, and then claims to be helping out the common man by taking over the industry. Then the industry falls apart, fosters corruption, requires higher taxes, and/or bankrupts the government. Don’t fall for the ruse.

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Noriega Op-ed Misleads the Public

Posted by Tony Listi on May 26, 2008

Rick Noriega, the Democrat challenger to Senator Cornyn, wrote a misleading op-ed in the Houston Chronicle.

The article criticizes Senator Cornyn for voting against Jim Webb’s GI Bill proposal but conveniently fails to mention that Senator Cornyn is supporting an alternative bill introduced by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham: S. 2938, the Enhancement of Recruitment, Retention, and Readjustment Through Education Act. According to a Congressional Budget Office report, Webb’s bill will harm military retention rates. Webb’s bill seeks to increase benefits to soldiers after only one enlistment. Does every soldier who enlists just once deserve a free college education anywhere plus a stipend? A four-year college degree and stipend for three years of service? Maybe the answer is yes, but the question should be asked and seriously considered. Is it even sustainable over the long-term?

Improved educational benefits for only one enlistment may increase the number of new recruits. But there is NO reason to believe that these new recruits will be of any higher quality. A piece of cheese attracts both the strong and the weak in the mouse hole.

Moreover, an all-voluntary military requires career soldiers who are committed to service for the long-term. New recruits are no substitute for re-enlistments! A great military is built on quality and experience, not raw numbers.

“I know it’s not his intention, but Senator Webb’s bill actually would encourage people not to re-enlist by providing an incentive to leave early in order to obtain the benefits they would receive after three years of service,” Senator Cornyn said on the Senate floor. “We need to make sure that we encourage continuation of service and retention in the military that is in the best interest of our all-volunteer military force. I believe that we ought to reward those who continue to serve. We especially ought to reward the families by allowing transferability of the benefit upon continued service to spouses and children.” (emphasis mine)

Examine Noriega’s duplicity: “The notion that we should limit benefits to force our troops to stay in the military is morally repugnant.” The denial of additional educational benefits is coercion?! There is a difference between an incentive and force, Noriega; it is called a respect for freedom of choice, something Democrats don’t understand when it comes to economics!

He tries to make it seem as if Sen. Cornyn doesn’t care about rewarding our troops for their service, but he is just playing political games, desperately trying to get traction for his campaign however he can. Senator Cornyn is merely trying to reward troops who give greater service with greater rewards. What is so wrong with that? Oh, that’s right, how could I forget that the Democrats are socialists.

Posted in Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Politicians, Texas Politics, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Decline of a Nation

Posted by Tony Listi on May 24, 2008

http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/decline.html

By Kerby Anderson

Introduction

Doomsayers for many years have been predicting the decline and fall of this country. And while many of these short-term predictions have proved inaccurate, there is some truth to the prevailing belief that this nation will fall like every great nation before it. Apart from revival and reformation, this nation is destined to decline.

The problem with many of these doomsayers is that while their prognosis is right, their diagnosis is wrong. Yes, the future is bleak. But our problem is not ultimately political, economic, or social, as these doomsayers would have us believe. The decline of this nation (just as the decline of every other nation) is due to spiritual factors. The political, economic, and social problems we encounter are the symptoms of the spiritual deterioration of a nation.

Just as there are spiritual principles that influence the life of an individual, so there are political-spiritual principles that govern the life of a nation. And though we may feel that these are obscure and difficult to discern, in reality they are visible to anyone willing to look at the record of history.

Our problem is that we don’t really learn from history. George Santayana said that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” The philosopher Hegel said, “What experience and history teach us is this: that people and government never have learned anything from history or acted on principles deduced from it.” Or as Winston Churchill said, “The one thing we have learned from history is that we don’t learn from history.”

The refrains that are often heard are: “It can’t happen here,” or “Our country is different.” But the reality is that nations are born and die just like individuals. Their longevity may exceed the average person’s lifespan. But the reality is that nations also die.

History has shown that the average age of the great civilizations is around two hundred years. Countries like Great Britain exceed the average while other countries like the United States are just now reaching the average age.

Each of the great civilizations in the world passed through a series of stages from their birth to their decline to their death. Historians have listed these in ten stages.

The first stage moves from bondage to spiritual faith. The second from spiritual faith to great courage. The third stage moves from great courage to liberty. The fourth stage moves from liberty to abundance. The fifth stage moves from abundance to selfishness. The sixth stage moves from selfishness to complacency. The seventh stage moves from complacency to apathy. The eighth stage moves from apathy to moral decay. The ninth stage moves from moral decay to dependence. And the tenth and last stage moves from dependence to bondage.

These are the ten stages through which the great civilizations have gone. Notice the progression from bondage to liberty back to bondage. The first generation throws off the shackles of bondage only to have a later generation through apathy and indifference allow itself to once again be enslaved.

This is the direction this and every other country is headed. The book of Judges shows that the nation of Israel passed through these same stages. And this country will do the same unless revival and reformation break out and reverse the inexorable decline of this nation.

The Cycle of Nations

In his book The End of Christendom, Malcolm Muggeridge makes this powerful observation. He says:

I conclude that civilizations, like every other human creation, wax and wane. By the nature of the case there can never be a lasting civilization anymore than there can be a lasting spring or lasting happiness in an individual life or a lasting stability in a society. It’s in the nature of man and of all that he constructs to perish, and it must ever be so. The world is full of the debris of past civilizations and others are known to have existed which have not left any debris behind them but have just disappeared.

He goes on to say that

…whatever their ideology may be, from the Garden of Eden onwards such dreams of lasting felicity have cropped up and no doubt always will. But the realization is impossible for the simple reason that a fallen creature like man though capable of conceiving perfection and aspiring after it, is in himself and in his works forever imperfect. Thus he is fated to exist in the no man’s land between the perfection he can conceive and the imperfection that characterizes his own nature and everything he does.

Nations rise and nations fall. Every nation has followed this progression from bondage to bondage. The nations of this century will be no different. But let us not accept the Marxist notion that these are fixed and intractable laws of history. Christians can point to unusual times when revival has redirected the inexorable decline of a civilization. In the Old Testament, Jonah saw revival postpone God’s judgment of Nineveh. In the sixteenth century, Martin Luther and John Calvin saw a Protestant Reformation transform Europe. And even in the history of the United States the First and Second Great Awakenings changed individuals and our society.

But apart from God’s intervention, nations will decline and eventually pass off the scene. Much of the Old Testament records the history of the nation of Israel. It passed through these same stages and so will every country in the world.

As Christians we must recognize that nations will rise and fall just as individuals will be born and die. Our civilization will not last indefinitely, but will eventually pass off the scene. Only God’s Word endures forever. We should not put our trust in the things of this world for they are destined for destruction. Instead, we should put our faith in God and His word.

The Decline of the Family

Nations most often fall from within, and this fall is usually due to a decline in the moral and spiritual values in the family. As families go, so goes a nation.

This has been the main premise of thinkers from British historian J. D. Unwin to Russian sociologist Pitirim Sorokin who have studied civilizations that have collapsed. In his book Our Dance Has Turned to Death, Carl Wilson identifies the common pattern of family decline in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Notice how these seven stages parallel what is happening in our nation today. In the first stage, men ceased to lead their families in worship. Spiritual and moral development became secondary. Their view of God became naturalistic, mathematical, and mechanical.

In the second stage, men selfishly neglected care of their wives and children to pursue material wealth, political and military power, and cultural development. Material values began to dominate thought, and the man began to exalt his own role as an individual. The third stage involved a change in men’s sexual values. Men who were preoccupied with business or war either neglected their wives sexually or became involved with lower-class women or with homosexuality. Ultimately, a double standard of morality developed. The fourth stage affected women. The role of women at home and with children lost value and status. Women were neglected and their roles devalued. Soon they revolted to gain access to material wealth and also freedom for sex outside marriage. Women also began to minimize having sex relations to conceive children, and the emphasis became sex for pleasure. Marriage laws were changed to make divorce easy.

In the fifth stage, husbands and wives competed against each other for money, home leadership, and the affection of their children. This resulted in hostility and frustration and possible homosexuality in the children. Many marriages ended in separation and divorce.

Many children were unwanted, aborted, abandoned, molested, and undisciplined. The more undisciplined children became, the more social pressure there was not to have children. The breakdown of the home produced anarchy.

In the sixth stage, selfish individualism grew and carried over into society, fragmenting it into smaller and smaller group loyalties. The nation was thus weakened by internal conflict. The decrease in the birthrate produced an older population that had less ability to defend itself and less will to do so, making the nation more vulnerable to its enemies.

Finally, unbelief in God became more complete, parental authority diminished, and ethical and moral principles disappeared, affecting the economy and government. Thus, by internal weakness and fragmentation the societies came apart. There was no way to save them except by a dictator who arose from within or by barbarians who invaded from without.

Although this is an ancient pattern of decline found in Greece and Rome, it is relevant today. Families are the foundation of a nation. When the family crumbles, the nation falls because nations are built upon family units. They are the true driving social force. A nation will not be strong unless the family is strong. That was true in the ancient world and it is true today.

Social commentator Michael Novak, writing on the importance of the family, said:

One unforgettable law has been learned through all the disasters and injustices of the last thousand years: If things go well with the family, life is worth living; when the family falters, life falls apart.

The Decline of Values

There are many factors in the decline of a nation. Certainly a major one is the breakdown of the family. But another potent but less perceptible force is the power of ideas.

False ideas are bringing about the decline of western culture. Carl F. H. Henry, in his book Twilight of a Great Civilization, says:

There is a new barbarism. This barbarism has embraced a new pagan mentality . . . not simply rejecting the legacy of the West, but embracing a new pagan mentality where there is no fixed truth.

Today we live in a world where biblical absolutes are ignored, and unless we return to these biblical truths, our nation will continue to decline.

To understand how we have arrived at this appalling situation, we need to go back a century and look at the influence of five intellectual leaders who still profoundly affect the modern world. The first person is Charles Darwin (1809-1882). In 1859 he published The Origin of Species and later published The Descent of Man. His writings blurred the distinction between humans and animals since he taught that we are merely part of an evolutionary progression from lower forms of life. Darwinism, as it came to be called, not only affected the field of biology, but became the foundation for the fields of anthropology, sociology, and psychology.

The second person is Karl Marx (1818-1883). He and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto around 1850, and Marx devoted his life to writing about the demise of capitalism and coming of communism. He understood the importance of ideas. Marx once wrote: “Give me twenty-six lead soldiers and I will conquer the world.” The twenty-six lead soldiers are the keys on a typewriter. The pervasive influence of communism in the world today is testimony to the truthfulness of his statement.

The third person is Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918). Although he may not be as well known as the other two men mentioned, his influence was just as profound. He was a German Bible scholar whose theory on the dating of the Pentateuch completely transformed Old Testament studies.

Wellhausen argued that the early books of the Bible were not put together by Moses but were gathered together many centuries later by several different men called redactors who wove various strands together. He and his disciples established an anti-supernatural approach to the scriptures which is influential in most denominational seminaries today.

The fourth person is Sigmund Freud (1856-1939). He merely took the logical implications of what Darwin was doing in biology and applied them to what today is known as psychology and psychiatry. Freud argued that humans are basically autonomous and therefore do not need to know God. Instead, we need to know and understand ourselves since our problems stem from those secret things that have evolved in our lives from our past.

A fifth person is John Dewey (1859-1952). He is the founder of modern education and published his first work, The School and Society, in 1899. John Dewey was also one of the co-signers of the Humanist Manifesto in 1933.

Dewey, like Darwin and Freud, believed that humans are autonomous. They don’t need to have an authority above them but can evolve their our own system of education. Thus the very foundation of modern education is anti-supernatural.

Ideas have consequences, and false ideas can bring down a nation. The theories of these five men are having devastating consequences in our nation and world. Unless we return to biblical absolutes, our nation will continue its decline.

Spiritual Decline

The decline and fall of nations is usually due to internal factors rather than external threats. Even though some may have fallen to barbarians, their demise ultimately came because of moral and spiritual weakness which manifested itself as military weakness. Historians have listed the stages in the decline of a nation. These should not be too surprising to any student of the Old Testament. The stages of decline parallel the stages through which the nation of Israel passed.

But neither should they surprise a student of the New Testament. In the opening chapter of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome, he traces a similar progression. In fact, Romans 1 shows the decline of a civilization from a societal perspective. Looking at the Hellenistic world of his time, he reflects on the progression of sin in a nation.

The first stage is when people turn from God to idolatry. Although God has revealed Himself in nature to all men so that they are without excuse, they nevertheless worship the creation instead of the Creator. This is idolatry. In the past, this took the form of actual idol worship. In our day, it takes the form of the worship of money or the worship of self. In either case, it is idolatry. A further example of this is a general lack of thankfulness. Although they have been prospered by God, they are ungrateful. And when they are no longer looking to God for wisdom and guidance, they become vain and futile and empty in their imaginations. They no longer honor God, so their foolish hearts become darkened. In professing to be wise, they have become fools.

The second stage is when men and women exchange their natural use of sex for unnatural uses. Here the Apostle Paul says those four sobering words, “God gave them over.” In a society where lust- driven sensuality and sexual perversion dominate, God gives them over to their degrading passions and unnatural desires. The third stage is anarchy. Once a society has rejected God’s revelation, it is on its own. Moral and social anarchy is the natural result. At this point God has given the sinners over to a depraved mind and so they do things which are not proper. This results in a society which is without understanding,untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

The final stage is judgment. God’s judgment rightly falls upon those who practice idolatry and immorality. Certainly an eternal judgment awaits those who are guilty, but a social judgment occurs when God gives a nation over to its sinful practices.

Notice that this progression is not unique to the Hellenistic world the Apostle Paul was living in. The progression from idolatry to sexual perversion to anarchy to judgment is found throughout history.

In the times of Noah and Lot, there was the idolatry of greed, there was sexual perversion and promiscuity, there was anarchy and violence, and finally there was judgment. Throughout the history of the nation of Israel there was idolatry, sexual perversion, anarchy (in which each person did what was right in his own eyes), and finally judgment.

This progression happened throughout the Bible and to Greece, to Persia, to Babylon, and to Rome. And if it happened to these nations, then it can happen today. Unless we return to God’s principles, decline and destruction are inevitable.

© 1991 Probe Ministries

Posted in Abortion, American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Culture War, Government and Politics, Homosexuality, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Sex | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The Bible and Slavery

Posted by Tony Listi on May 17, 2008

There seems to be a lot of ignorance and confusion among Americans (especially on the Left) about what the Bible says about slavery and the impact that the Judeo-Christian tradition had on that peculiar institution. So it’s time to set the record straight: the Bible does not encourage or approve of slavery and it is the Judeo-Christian tradition that provided the moral force to abolish it.

First of all, it is important to realize that slavery was by and large uncontroversial and accepted in the ancient pagan world. Slavery was widely practiced in every ancient civilization, but only one civilization took it upon itself to abolish slavery within its own communities by force of law: the Christian West. In fact, slavery still exists today in some parts of the Islamic world and Asia.

It is not surprising that historically the Judeo-Christian tradition is responsible for abolishing slavery if one takes a careful look at the Bible. Equality before the eyes of God became equality before the law for all.

The Old Testament and Slavery
In ancient times, slavery was not based on racism. In ancient Israel, the slaves were prisoners of war, criminals, or indentured servants. Relative to the time, slavery was a humane alternative to slaughter, cruel punishment, starvation, or debt imprisonment. Most Hebrew slaves were probably bondsmen who voluntarily bound themselves to a master and thus not really “slaves” in the modern understanding of the term.

Keep in mind one crucial point when reading the Old Testament: just because it regulated a practice does not mean that it approved of that practice. For example, the Old Testament regulates divorce, but it also says that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). And Jesus tells us that the Father tolerated divorce among the Israelites because of the hardness of their hearts (Mk 10:4-5; Mt 19:8) Thus, though the Old Testament regulated slavery, it did not approve of it.

Moreover, compared with the other ancient civilizations of that time, the regulations of slavery within the Old Testament were almost always to moderate the practice. For example, according to the Code of Hammurabi, a person who harbors a runaway slave should be put to death. In contrast, the Old Testament prohibits one from returning a runaway slave to its master: “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has taken refuge from him with you. Let him live with you wherever he chooses, in any one of your communities that pleases him. Do not molest him” (Deut 23:16-17).

Anyone who abducted another person and sold them into slavery (cf. the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis): “A kidnapper, whether he sells his victim or still has him when caught, shall be put to death” (Exodus 21:16).

It was required that slaves be freed after six years or on the Jubilee Year:

“If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, sells himself to you, he is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year you shall dismiss him from your service, a free man” (Deut 15:12; see also Exodus 21:2).

“When, then, your countryman becomes so impoverished beside you that he sells you his services, do not make him work as a slave. Rather, let him be like a hired servant or like your tenant, working with you until the jubilee year, when he, together with his children, shall be released from your service and return to his kindred and to the property of his ancestors. Since those whom I brought out of the land of Egypt are servants of mine, they shall not be sold as slaves to any man. Do not lord it over them harshly, but stand in fear of your God” (Lev 25:39-43).

A slave could also buy his freedom or be redeemed by relatives: “When one of your countrymen is reduced to such poverty that he sells himself to a wealthy alien who has a permanent or a temporary residence among you, or to one of the descendants of an immigrant family, even after he has thus sold his services he still has the right of redemption; he may be redeemed by one of his own brothers, or by his uncle or cousin, or by some other relative or fellow clansman; or, if he acquires the means, he may redeem himself” (Lev 25:47-49).

Moreover, a slave was to be treated quite generously upon emancipation! “When you do so, you shall not send him away empty-handed, but shall weight him down with gifts from your flock and threshing floor and wine press, in proportion to the blessing the LORD, your God, has bestowed on you.For remember that you too were once slaves in the land of Egypt, and the LORD, your God, ransomed you. That is why I am giving you this command today. If, however, he tells you that he does not wish to leave you, because he is devoted to you and your household, since he fares well with you, you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear into the door, and he shall then be your slave forever” (Deut 15:13-17; emphasis added).

A slave not wanting to leave his master? Obviously, this is not the kind of slavery that most Americans envision when they hear the word.

The Mosaic Law recognizes that slaves are human beings, not merely property. The punishment for killing a slave is the same as for killing a free person, i.e. death: “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished…. But if injury, ensures you shall give life for life….” (Exodus 21:20, 23). This was unique in the ancient world at that time.

All slaves were expected to participate in religious ceremonies and duties of the household too, including observing the Sabbath and all holy days:

“…but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you” (Exodus 20: 10).

“In the place which the LORD, your God, chooses as the dwelling place of his name, you shall make merry in his presence together with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, and the Levite who belongs to your community, as well as the alien, the orphan and the widow among you” (Deut 16:11).

If a household had no heirs, the slave could inherit the estate: “Abram continued, ‘See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir'” (Genesis 15:3).

There are even special regulations for female slaves. Whereas sex slaves were common in the ancient Near East and in the Islamic world, it was forbidden under Mosaic Law: “When you go out to war against your enemies and the LORD, your God, delivers them into your hand, so that you take captives, if you see a comely woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as wife, you may take her home to your house. But before she may live there, she must shave her head and pare her nails and lay aside her captive’s garb. After she has mourned her father and mother for a full month, you may have relations with her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. However, if later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; but you shall not sell her or enslave her, since she was married to you under compulsion” (Deut 21:10-14).

And of course, we must not forget the Exodus story, how God freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. God continually reminds them of the freedom he gave to them and thus to take it to heart not to mistreat their own slaves. And let’s not forget that black slaves in America looked to the story of Exodus for hope and inspiration.

The New Testament and Slavery
In the Roman Empire (the time of the New Testament), slaves were apprentices and indentured servants. They represented a broad social and legal category. Some slaves were very well educated and thus more valuable to their owners (e.g. Epictetus). It was common for slaves to live apart from their masters with their own home and families. In fact, many slaves did not want to be free, and some owners wanted to be rid of their slaves! Slaves were expensive to feed and house. (The high cost of feeding slaves is a common motif in Roman literature.) With this context in mind, the following statement of St. Paul makes perfect sense: “If you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity” (1 Cor 7:21).

Also, when Jesus talks of slavery (which is not often) in the New Testament, it almost always in the context of a parable. Thus, Jesus is not approving of slavery; he is merely using examples of everyday life in Roman Palestine.

Like Jesus, St. Paul does not seem to think it is important whether one is a slave or free man: “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian. For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise” (Gal 3:25-29; emphasis added of course). Thus sprang the Western conception of equality of dignity of all human beings. For the Christian community, there is no slave and free.

Moreover, St. Paul and the early Christians believed that the Apocalypse, Christ’s 2nd Coming, was near. There was no reason for sweeping social reforms if Jesus was to going to establish justice soon enough.

St. Paul also says, “Were you a slave when you were called [to be a Christian]? Do not be concerned but, even if you can gain your freedom, make the most of it. For the slave called in the Lord is a freed person in the Lord, just as the free person who has been called is a slave of Christ. You have been purchased at a price. Do not become slaves to human beings” (1 Cor 7:21-23). He urges people not to bind themselves in servitude to others.

Paul did not approve of slave-trading: “We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law, with the understanding that law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, practicing homosexuals, slave traders, liars, perjurers,…” (1 Tim 1:8-10).

The most important slavery that concerns Jesus and St. Paul is spiritual slavery, slavery to sin. But even so, the entire book of Philemon is an emotional appeal by St. Paul on behalf of a runaway slave named Onesimus. Paul writes to the master, Philemon, and asks him to show mercy and receive Onesimus as a brother in Christ: “Perhaps this is why [Onesimus] ran away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me. And if he has done you any injustice or owes you anything, charge it to me” (Philemon 15-18).

Slaves and masters are brothers in Christ. This spiritual equality laid the foundation for social and legal equality.

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Obama says he visited “57 States”

Posted by Tony Listi on May 17, 2008

This is pretty sad. He even “thinks” about it for a moment before speaking.

“Over the last 15 months we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states, I think, one left to go.”

Watch below:

Afterwards, Obama said, “I understand I said there were 57 states today. It’s a sign that my numeracy is getting a little, uh.” At that point, an aide cut him off and ushered journalists out. Before he could mis-speak again? Numeracy?! That is not going to help him shake off the elitist label.

I’m sure he was just tired, but if John McCain had made this gaffe, the media would be all over him, accusing him of a senior moment. Just saying….

Interestingly, there are 57 Islamic states….

Read more here from the LA Times.

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Blind Legislating, Literally

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

Congressmen do not read the bills they pass. How could they? Some bills are over a hundred pages long! And Congress considers thousands of bills each session.

I had the opportunity to accompany a Congressman up to the floor of the House. He was asking his staff how he was supposed to vote on each bill! What power a congressional staffer has!

This is ridiculous. It also reflects Congress passing more laws than it should and assuming more power to itself that should be left to the state and local level.

Our elected representatives should not be passing legislation that they haven’t even read. And they shouldn’t be proposing legislation that is impossible for their colleagues to read in a timely manner. If they are not willing to make readable laws and then read them before voting on them, why should the American people read them and obey them?

Politicians should pledge to vote against any bill that they haven’t read or haven’t been given enough time to read. It is up to the American people to stop this farce.

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