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The Left’s Flirtation with the Middle Class

Posted by Tony Listi on December 27, 2008

Historically, the political Left has hated and despised the middle class, the hated bourgeoisie of Marxist thought. Yet in our times, the Left has realized (or rather re-realized) the political suicide of openly denigrating the “mushy middle.”

The Left has always hated the middle class because it has always represented and been the chief obstacle to its utopia, its unconstrained vision, its establishment of heaven on earth. Going back to at least Aristotle, observant political scholars have recognized the stability that a middle class brings to society. But the Left is not interested in stability, far from it. The Left is interested in revolution, in transformation, in the creation of the New Man; in a word: Change, the very opposite of stability. Moreover, the middle class tends to be less vulnerable to demagogic appeals to irrational class envy or self-hatred. In general, the middle class has also been the guardian of traditional religion and morality from generation to generation.  From every angle, the Left has had every reason to attack the middle class.

However, it has been said that the first rule of politics in democratic or semi-democratic nations is to add and multiply, not subtract and divide. Of course, from a practical, electoral perspective, political leaders, if they are to stand for anything at all, can’t help but divide the public with their rhetoric and policy positions. No, it is not a question of whether a politician will divide the country but how and to what extent he will divide it.

And if the middle class (admittedly a nebulous term) represents a majority, if not a super-majority (as it almost always has in America), then any political movement cannot afford to alienate this class–if it cares anything for practical, electoral success, i.e. power.

Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and the Democratic Party have (re-)learned this lesson well. They campaigned as champions of the middle class, with the unending mantra of promising tax breaks for the lower and middle classes rather than the wealthy (Tax breaks for those who pay relatively little to no taxes?). This stance may work well politically under the current unfavorable economic conditions, just as FDR was successful in pushing his socialist-fascist policy agenda during the Great Depression. But as a matter of economic policy, it is unsustainable and not in the public interest. Conservatives and Republicans must powerfully communicate and demonstrate this truth the the American people.

When the American middle class re-awakens to this harsh reality, it will turn on the leftists, just as it did on Jimmy Carter. After that, it will only be  a matter of time before the Left’s natural hatred of the middle class re-emerges. The Left’s only hope is to weaken, corrupt,  or destroy the middle class before it re-awakens, or to patiently wear it down over time and enjoy the fruits at a later time. We conservatives must work to win over the middle class (or more of it) again. We must illustrate the economic harm that the Left is inflicting upon everyone. We must be in the fight for the long haul as well.

Posted in American Culture, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Culture War, Economics, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Politicians, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hitler’s War on Christianity (Quotes)

Posted by Tony Listi on December 14, 2008

Hitler was NOT a Christian. He hated Christianity. If he made any public remarks in support of Christianity, that was because he was in public and would lie or obfuscate to appease a crowd at times. Hitler was opposed to atheism because  he was a spiritual man: “atheism… is a return to the  state of the animal…” (Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 59). But opposition to atheism doesn’t make anyone a Christian. Nazism was his religion, an authentic religion of his own creation (yes, life is SO much better when people create their own personal religions in a search for “authenticity,” ha).

Hitler’s Table Talk is a compilation of sayings by Hitler in private conversations that were recorded by other Nazis. It is a good source for what Hitler really thought.

“…the only way of getting rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 61

“It’s Christianity that’s the liar. It’s in perpetual conflict with itself.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 61

“In the long run, National Socialism and religion will no longer be able to exist together.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 6

“Kerrl, with the noblest of intentions, wanted to attempt a synthesis between National Socialism and Christianity. I don’t believe the thing’s possible, and I see the obstacle in Christianity itself.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 145

“As far as we are concerned, we’ve succeeded in chasing the Jews from our midst and excluding Christianity from our political life.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 394

“There is something very unhealthy about Christianity.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 418

“The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity. Christianity is a prototype of Bolshevism: the mobilisation by the Jew of the masses of slaves with the object of undermining society. Thus one understands that the healthy elements of the Roman world were proof against this doctrine.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 75-76

“When all is said, we have no reason to wish that the Italians and Spaniards should free themselves from the drug of Christianity. Let’s be the only people who are immunised against the disease.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 145

“Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity. It will last another hundred years, two hundred years perhaps. My regret will have been that I couldn’t, like whoever the prophet was, behold the promised land from afar. We are entering into a conception of the world that will be a sunny era, an era of tolerance.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 343-344

“Pure Christianity—the Christianity of the catacombs—is concerned with translating the Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 146

“Christianity is the worst of the regressions that mankind can ever have undergone, and it’s the Jew who, thanks to this diabolic invention, has thrown him back fifteen centuries.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 322

“The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity. Bolshevism practises a lie of the same nature, when it claims to bring liberty to men, whereas in reality it seeks only to enslave them. In the ancient world, the relations between men and gods were founded on an instinctive respect. It was a world enlightened by the idea of tolerance. Christianity was the first creed in the world to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love. Its key-note is intolerance.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 7

“But Christianity is an invention of sick brains : one could imagine nothing more senseless, nor any more indecent way of turning the idea of the Godhead into a mockery. A negro with his tabus is crushingly superior to the human being who seriously believes in Transubstantiation.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 144

“It took fourteen centuries for Christianity to reach the peak of savagery and stupidity.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 314

“Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 7

“We must recognise, of course, that, amongst us, Christianity is coloured by Germanism.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 46

“We’ll see to it that the Churches cannot spread abroad teachings in conflict with the interests of the State. We shall continue to preach the doctrine of National Socialism, and the young will no longer be taught anything but the truth.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 62

“Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 51

“By nature the Duce is a freethinker, but he decided to choose the path of concessions. For my part, in his place I’d have taken the path of revolution. I’d have entered the Vatican and thrown everybody out—reserving the right to apologise later: “Excuse me, it was a mistake.” But the result would have been, they’d have been outside!” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 145

“So it’s not opportune to hurl ourselves now into a struggle with the Churches. The best thing is to let Christianity die a natural death. A slow death has something comforting about it. The dogma of Christianity gets worn away before the advances of science. Religion will have to make more and more concessions. Gradually the myths crumble. All that’s left is to prove that in nature there is no frontier between the organic and the inorganic.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 59

“But, even so, it’s impossible eternally to hold humanity in bondage with lies. After all, it was only between the sixth and eighth centuries that Christianity was imposed on our peoples by princes who had an alliance of interests with the shavelings. Our peoples had previously succeeded in living all right without this religion. I have six divisions of SS composed of men absolutely indifferent in matters of religion. It doesn’t prevent them from going to their deaths with serenity in their souls.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 143

“Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers—already, you see, the world had fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing was Christianity!—then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies heroism and which opens the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 667 (Talk about Islamo-fascism!)

“The priests of antiquity were closer to nature, and they sought modestly for the meaning of things. Instead of that, Christianity promulgates its inconsistent dogmas and imposes them by force. Such a religion carries within it intolerance and persecution. It’s the bloodiest conceivable.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 322-323

“One cannot succeed in conceiving how much cruelty, ignominy and falsehood the intrusion of Christianity has spelt for this world of ours. If the misdeeds of Christianity were less serious in Italy, that’s because the people of Rome, having seen them at work, always knew exactly the worth of the Popes before whom Christendom prostrated itself.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 288

“With what clairvoyance the authors of the eighteenth, and especially those of the past, century criticised Christianity and passed judgment on the evolution of the Churches!” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 88

“When understanding of the universe has become widespread, when the majority of men know that the stars are not sources of light but worlds, perhaps inhabited worlds like ours, then the Christian doctrine will be convicted of absurdity.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 59

“The fact that the Japanese have retained their political philosophy, which is one of the essential reasons for their successes, is due to their having been saved in time from the views of Christianity.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 393

“This terrorism in religion is the product, to put it briefly, of a Jewish dogma, which Christianity has universalised and whose effect is to sow trouble and confusion in men’s minds.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 393

“It may be asked whether concluding a concordat with the churches wouldn’t facilitate our exercise of power…. I’m convinced that any pact with the Church can offer only a provisional benefit, for sooner or later the scientific spirit will disclose the harmful character of such a compromise. Thus the State will have based its existence on a foundation that one day will collapse.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pp. 58-59

“It is to these private customs that peoples owe their present characters. Christianity, of course, has reached the peak of absurdity in this respect. And that’s why one day its structure will collapse. Science has already impregnated humanity. Consequently, the more Christianity clings to its dogmas, the quicker it will decline.” –Hitler’s Table Talk, pg 60

More links:

http://www.geocities.com/mikem2u/hitler.html

http://www.amazon.com/Hitlers-Table-Talk-Adolf-Hitler/dp/1929631057

http://davnet.org/kevin/articles/table.html

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Culture War, Fascism, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Quotes, Written by Me | 25 Comments »

A Change of Heart on Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

Posted by Tony Listi on August 11, 2008

Dr. Ken Miller, a Roman Catholic professor of biology at Brown University, examines Intelligent Design as a political phenomenon and addresses two of its key objections: the paucity of intermediate organisms in the fossil record and, more importantly, Michael Behe’s theory of irreducible complexity. He takes these scientific objections to evolution seriously and then scientifically refutes them with specific examples. He does not dismiss such objections merely as “religious” and then end the discussion.

This video of his lecture has changed my view of the ID movement and my thinking on the science behind evolution. I’m more inclined to think evolution is a sound theory now.

It has not changed my belief that science should not be funded by the government nor that there is a hostile, secular, aggressively anti-religious bias within much of the scientific establishment and academia in general.

I am not a creationist and the Christian faith does not compel belief in creationism as literalist Protestants define it.

The natural process of evolution need not contradict the existence of God and his Providence. Thus, neither does it preclude the existence of morality. I mean, what would it say about morality if we really believed a material, natural process could influence its validity at all? That is what liberalism/secularism believes. Creationists make a dangerous misstep since their logic implies this too. Though evolution has certainly been used to justify horrible crimes, so has religion. And we should reject the flawed logic of such criminals that misuse both science and religion.

I am a big fan of Dinesh D’Souza’s biblical argument in defense of evolution:

“We read in Genesis 2:7 that ‘the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.’ Right away we notice something different: the Bible says that the universe was created out of nothing but it does not say that man was created out of nothing. Rather, it says that man was made or shaped from the existing substance of nature. ‘Dust thou art and to dust thou shall return.’ So the Bible is quite consistent with the idea that man is made up of atoms and molecules and shares the same DNA found in earthworms, whales, and monkeys.

It is true, however, that the creation account in Genesis does not prepare us for the discovery that man has about 98 percent of his DNA in common with apes. In his Descent of Man, Darwin writes that ‘man…still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.’ Our resistance to this is not religious; it is because we sense a significant chasm between ourselves and chimpanzees. Of course Darwin is not saying that man is descended from chimpanzees, only that apes and man are descended from a common ancestor. Whatever the merits of this theory, there is no reason to reject it purely on biblical grounds. Christians since medieval times have agreed with Aristotle that man is an animal–a ‘rational animal,’ but still an animal.

What makes man different, according to the Bible, is that God breathed an immaterial soul into him. Thus there is no theological problem in viewing the bodily frame of man as derived from other creatures. The Bible stresses God’s resolution, ‘Let us make man in our image.’ Christians have always understood God as a spiritual rather than a material being. Consequently if man is created in the ‘likeness’ of God, the resemblance is clearly not physical. When Jared Diamond in his book The Third Chimpanzee refers to humans as ‘little more than glorified chimpanzees,’ he is unwittingly making a Christian point. We may have common ancestors with the animals, but we are glorified animals.”

Posted in Christianity and Politics, Culture War, Education, Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design, Government and Politics, Politics and Religion, Science and Politics, Science and Religion, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Brave New World: The Liberal Vision

Posted by Tony Listi on August 2, 2008

What would the world be like if liberals took over the world? What would happen if they really could have all the CHANGE they wanted? What would life be like if all their HOPE and dreams were fulfilled? What if communism actually “worked” the way it was supposed to? What if we could see Alexis de Tocqueville’s “soft despotism” first hand? What if science finally triumphed over religion? What if we finally freed ourselves from all the “quaint” traditional moral norms, especially regarding sex?

It would be the cold, mechanical, perverse existence of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Have you read this book? If not, I urge you to watch it here. Everyone should read or watch it; only then may they realize the hell that liberalism wishes for us all. There is no better depiction of the liberal vision that conservatism opposes.

We must all watch it soon, for if we don’t, the sharp and grotesque satire of this story will slowly grow familiarly dull to us such that even this rich, powerful portrayal of our doom cannot reach our numbed souls.

Posted in American Culture, Culture War, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Science and Politics, Sex, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Dobson accuses Obama of ‘distorting’ Bible

Posted by Tony Listi on June 24, 2008

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Dobson is right about Obama distorting biblical teaching. Hopefully, every Christian will recognize this. 

At the same time though, I can’t help but laugh ironically at conservative Protestants like Dobson who try to argue with liberal Protestants like Obama based on the “traditional understanding of the Bible.” Tradition?! What happened to sola Scriptura? Surely, Obama can read the Bible for himself and reach a correct conclusion inspired by the Holy Spirit and by his own private judgment and reason, no? Seems like an arbitrary appeal to obedience to tradition when it suits one’s own personal preferences. Obama and his church embody the real and deep divisions within Christianity that were created by Protestantism and sola Scriptura.

Dobson is right, but his own theology leaves him helpless to combat the false doctrines and interpretations of Obama. When will Protestants realize that sola Scriptura inexorably leads to theological relativism which in turn leads to moral relativism which in turn strengthens liberalism and corrupts American politics?

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20080624/D91G8E200.html

By ERIC GORSKI 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – As Barack Obama broadens his outreach to evangelical voters, one of the movement’s biggest names, James Dobson, accuses the likely Democratic presidential nominee of distorting the Bible and pushing a “fruitcake interpretation” of the Constitution.

The criticism, to be aired Tuesday on Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program, comes shortly after an Obama aide suggested a meeting at the organization’s headquarters here, said Tom Minnery, senior vice president for government and public policy at Focus on the Family.

The conservative Christian group provided The Associated Press with an advance copy of the pre-taped radio segment, which runs 18 minutes and highlights excerpts of a speech Obama gave in June 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal. Obama mentions Dobson in the speech.

“Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” Obama said. “Would we go with James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s?” referring to the civil rights leader.

Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy – chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, “a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.”

“Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles,” Obama said.

Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament.

“I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology,” Dobson said.

“… He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Catholicism vs. Protestantism, Christianity and Politics, Culture War, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Politicians, Politics and Religion, Religion and Theology, Sola Scriptura | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Religion Creates Social Order and Happiness

Posted by Tony Listi on June 19, 2008

Strong and repeated evidence indicates that the regular practice of religion has beneficial effects in nearly every aspect of social concern and policy. This evidence shows that religious practice protects against social disorder and dysfunction.

Specifically, the available data clearly indicate that religious belief and practice are associated with:

* Higher levels of marital happiness and stability;
* Stronger parent-child relationships;
* Greater educational aspirations and attainment, especially among the poor;
* Higher levels of good work habits;
* Greater longevity and physical health;
* Higher levels of well-being and happiness;
* Higher recovery rates from addictions to alcohol or drugs;
* Higher levels of self-control, self-esteem, and coping skills;
* Higher rates of charitable donations and volunteering; and
* Higher levels of community cohesion and social support for those in need.

The evidence further demonstrates that religious belief and practice are also associated with:

* Lower divorce rates:
* Lower cohabitation rates;
* Lower rates of out-of-wedlock births;
* Lower levels of teen sexual activity;
* Less abuse of alcohol and drugs;
* Lower rates of suicide, depression, and suicide ideation;
* Lower levels of many infectious diseases;
* Less juvenile crime;
* Less violent crime; and
* Less domestic violence.

No other dimension of life in America-with the exception of stable marriages and families, which in turn are strongly tied to religious practice-does more to promote the well-being and soundness of the nation’s civil society than citizens’ religious observance. As George Washington asserted, the success of the Republic depends on the practice of religion by its citizens. These findings from 21st century social science support his observation.

Read more details at: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Religion/bg1992.cfm

Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Culture War, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Science and Religion, Sex | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Abortion, Public School Indoctrination, and Winning Elections

Posted by Tony Listi on June 11, 2008

I have a confession to make: In my darkest, most morbid, and most cynical moods, I’ve always thought abortion might actually be good for the country.

Just think about it. A large majority of children eventually adopt the political leanings of their parents. Therefore, if liberals keep aborting their offspring, the American voting population should eventually become more conservative. The discrepancy in birthrate between liberals and conservatives would eventually tip in favor of conservatives. The very policies of liberalism would ensure its own extinction, haha! You would think liberals of all people would take Darwin and natural selection more seriously, lol! Liberals would reap the what they sow. It would be justice.

Of course, that is not how it really happens. Though liberals don’t have children (or relatively few), they do have access to the children of conservatives and moderates. Liberals use the public education system as a means to indoctrinate the children of others in liberal ideology. Those children then grow up to lead their own children astray in a vicious cycle. What liberals lose through abortion, they more than compensate for through government-monopolized education. How clever of them! They don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting of caring for and raising a child, they demand the children be brought to them by law (truancy laws), and then they get paid (always demanding more) for corrupting the youth and future of America. How perverse. (And of course, kids are then primed and ready for leftist university professors.)

This is why the Left, including communism and fascism, has always shown great concern for children: it must find a way to sustain itself in future generations. Like a virus, it uses children as a host to merely replicate itself, destroying the host in the process. For liberals, children are a means to an end, which is to perpetuate their own ideology and secure sympathetic voting blocs.

Parental choice of which school their children go to is critical to breaking down this systematic liberal indoctrination. Not only will it create better students, but it will also create better citizens, citizens who in the long run may vote more conservatively and thus elect conservatives. Ultimately, future elections will be won or lost in the battlegrounds of the classroom, education boards, and state legislatures.

Posted in Abortion, American Culture, Culture War, Education, Elections and Campaigns, Government and Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Conservatives more honest than liberals?

Posted by Tony Listi on June 10, 2008

Ideas have consequences.

http://www.examiner.com/a-1419425~Peter_Schweizer__Conservatives_more_honest_than_liberals_.html

By Peter Schweizer
June 2, 2008

The headline may seem like a trick question — even a dangerous one — to ask during an election year. And notice, please, that I didn’t ask whether certain politicians are more honest than others. (Politicians are a different species altogether.) Yet there is a striking gap between the manner in which liberals and conservatives address the issue of honesty.

Consider these results:

Is it OK to cheat on your taxes? A total of 57 percent of those who described themselves as “very liberal” said yes in response to the World Values Survey, compared with only 20 percent of those who are “very conservative.” When Pew Research asked whether it was “morally wrong” to cheat Uncle Sam, 86 percent of conservatives agreed, compared with only 68 percent of liberals.

Ponder this scenario, offered by the National Cultural Values Survey: “You lose your job. Your friend’s company is looking for someone to do temporary work. They are willing to pay the person in cash to avoid taxes and allow the person to still collect unemployment. What would you do?”

Almost half, or 49 percent, of self-described progressives would go along with the scheme, but only 21 percent of conservatives said they would.

When the World Values Survey asked a similar question, the results were largely the same: Those who were very liberal were much more likely to say it was all right to get welfare benefits you didn’t deserve.

The World Values Survey found that those on the left were also much more likely to say it is OK to buy goods that you know are stolen. Studies have also found that those on the left were more likely to say it was OK to drink a can of soda in a store without paying for it and to avoid the truth while negotiating the price of a car.

Another survey by Barna Research found that political liberals were two and a half times more likely to say that they illegally download or trade music for free on the Internet.

A study by professors published in the American Taxation Association’s Journal of Legal Tax Research found conservative students took the issue of accounting scandals and tax evasion more seriously than their fellow liberal students. Those with a “liberal outlook” who “reject the idea of absolute truth” were more accepting of cheating at school, according to another study, involving 291 students and published in the Journal of Education for Business.

A study in the Journal of Business Ethics involving 392 college students found that stronger beliefs toward “conservatism” translated into “higher levels of ethical values.” And academics concluded in the Journal of Psychology that there was a link between “political liberalism” and “lying in your own self-interest,” based on a study involving 156 adults.

Liberals were more willing to “let others take the blame” for their own ethical lapses, “copy a published article” and pass it off as their own, and were more accepting of “cheating on an exam,” according to still another study in the Journal of Business Ethics.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all conservatives are honest and all liberals are untrustworthy. But clearly a gap exists in the data. Why? The quick answer might be that liberals are simply being more honest about their dishonesty.

However attractive this explanation might be for some, there is simply no basis for accepting this explanation. Validation studies, which attempt to figure out who misreports on academic surveys and why, has found no evidence that conservatives are less honest. Indeed, validation research indicates that Democrats tend to be less forthcoming than other groups.

The honesty gap is also not a result of “bad people” becoming liberals and “good people” becoming conservatives. In my mind, a more likely explanation is bad ideas. Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective.

Sixties organizer Saul Alinsky, who both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say inspired and influenced them, once said the effective political advocate “doesn’t have a fixed truth; truth to him is relative and changing, everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.”

During this political season, honesty is often in short supply. But at least we can improve things by accepting the idea that truth and honesty exist. As the late scholar Sidney Hook put it, “the easiest rationalization for the refusal to seek the truth is the denial that truth exists.”

Peter Schweizer is the author of “Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less … And Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals” (Doubleday).

Posted in American Culture, Culture War, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Sexual Attraction is Not Love: A Critique of the Movie “Closer”

Posted by Tony Listi on June 9, 2008

If you have not seen Closer, you might want to familiarize yourself with it here (will spoil the movie) or just skip this post. The style of story-telling is very clever and imaginative. The characters are powerfully portrayed by each actor. But it is the substance of the film that I am most interested in.

This movie is about 4 messed up people who cheat on each other and have no idea what love really is. It is a reflection of how dysfunctional and hyper-sexualized Western societies have become in their relationships. It is the tragic and perverse culmination of so-called sexual liberation. It is hard to find a theme or moral that is not negative in formulation (e.g. “Don’t do this!”).

Dan, Alice, Anna, and Larry are all weak, broken people. Each has their own unique faults, but all of them fail to realize what love really is. The men measure their relationships and “love” based on mere sexual attraction or in terms of power. Alice seems unable to love herself and who she is, and so she lies to herself and Dan from the very beginning. Anna is too weak to rebuff the advances of Dan and her own attraction to him, a married man. Both women prostitute themselves and thus degrade themselves. None of the characters seems to realize that love is not sexual attraction, not something that one feels. Love goes beyond mere feeling that intensifies and fades away (perhaps in cycles) with time. Love between men and women is a permanent, exclusive commitment to sacrifice for and serve one another till the death of one spouse. It is a relationship that is to be strengthened and made sacred before the eyes of God through the institution of marriage. How can love be more than bestial urges, mere irrational biochemistry, without an anchor in the Transcendent?

One line of the movie (paraphrased) stands out among others as a potential takeaway message: “Without the truth, we are nothing more than animals.” True enough. And yet Larry, the doctor character played by Clive Owen, is scrupulously honest with others throughout the film, as far as I can tell. But he behaves like a sex-crazed, vengeful animal just like the other three. He is vain and malicious. For all his honesty, he is a monster. So if the message of the movie is merely “tell the truth,” that merely begs the question: what is the truth that we should tell? How can we be honest with each other when we don’t know what the truth is?

Of course, the previous question is not quite the best interpretation either. Each of the characters knew it was wrong to cheat on their spouse. Each should have plainly seen how their choices, actions, and approach to sex and love were destroying their lives. Guilt was no mere “social construction” for the four. The real question is this: how can we be honest with one another when we aren’t honest with ourselves, when we don’t heed the moral truths written on our very hearts that are confirmed by human experience and history?

It has been said that art is a reflection of life (among other things); Closer, sadly, probably is a reflection of real life in many Western cities, especially those which embrace modern liberalism. It is gritty, sexual realism of a sort. Because the movie accurately portrays the consequences of breaking moral laws, especially with regard to sex and marital love, I cannot help but like the movie for its honesty.

But as I’ve suggested above, honesty is not enough. There was no closure to Closer. There was no offer of a better alternative to the moral chaos and misery of these characters. There was no offer of hope. Marriage is treated as a superfluous social convention rather than as something made holy and seriously contemplated. The film is devoid of any reference to the Divine, which points the way to real Love. But perhaps one cannot expect too much of one movie. The detailed intensity of the havoc of sin in the movie (especially of a sexual nature, which is often hard to demonstrate abstractly) may be valuable enough to those who already know what the alternative is or those who are spurred to search for a meaningful alternative.

But I can’t help but think that many people are going to accept the moral chaos at face value as “a fact of life” and search no deeper. Some will conclude there is no truth, no morality, no exit. Some will watch the movie and embrace its nihilism, its poetic meaninglessness. They will embrace it as a “feel good” movie because the harsh reality was “beautifully” presented. They will take hollow comfort in the beauty of tragedy without seeking a better escape. That is what I fear. That is what I object to.

Yes, art can be an honest reflection of life but it can do better than mere honesty. Art can be a reflection of Truth. It can be a reflection of moral truths, of ideals that may never exist in full in this world but which we should constantly aim towards nevertheless because the alternative is the observable fate of Dan, Alice, Anna, and Larry. Art can be a reflection of Purpose, of meaning to our lives because we embrace certain truths. Art can be a reflection of Faith, of trust and submission to something higher than ourselves, higher than the tragedy of fallen humanity. Even the ancient pagan Greeks and Romans recognized this higher plane of art. Ultimately, if art is not grounded in Truth, Purpose, and Faith, it merely intensifies the maelstrom of confusion, chaos, misery, and hopelessness.

Posted in American Culture, Art and Creativity, Culture War, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Religion and Theology, Sex, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 59 Comments »

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 »