CodeSlinger on ‘natural rights’

A few days ago, I posted on the 2nd Amendment and a pro-gun ownership ad.  After a short comment exchange, I received this response from CodeSlinger which, in my never-humble-opinion, deserves a full post of its own. 

It is that important!

CodeSlinger says:

And this ramifies into the whole issue of the source and nature of rights and morals.

By claiming that rights are conferred by the state and morals are a matter of consensus, the neo-liberals utterly destroy the concepts of rights and morals. They reduce rights to the status of mere privileges, and they reduce morals to the status of mere laws.

In this way, neo-liberalism is no better than the religions it denigrates. Neo-liberals claim that rights and morals are handed down by the state, while religious people claim that rights and morals are handed down by God. They do not recognize that a man has rights simply by virtue of existing, nor do they understand that right and wrong are determined solely by what kind of creature a man is.

A man is a living creature capable of reason and compassion. From this it follows immediately that his inalienable rights are life, liberty, privacy, property, self-defence and self-expression. It also follows directly that whatever causes a man harm by violating his rights is wrong, and whatever is not wrong is right.

Recognition of these principles places strict limits on the rightful power of the state vis-à-vis the individual, much the same way that the American Constitution was intended to do, only more so. It leads to the understanding that the only legitimate purpose of the state is to equally protect the equal rights of each and every individual. Everything the state does beyond that causes more harm than good.

And, of course, this flies in the face of everything the neo-liberals want, which is why they hate the Constitution and the principles of inalienable individual rights and universal morality on which it is based.

These principles give them freedom to do as they please, but also burden them with responsibility to take care of themselves — all without violating the rights of such others as have not violated theirs.

But neo-liberals would rather give up their rights and freedoms and bow down to the state, which they want to make all-powerful, because they foolishly think an all-powerful state will take care of them. This desire is hopelessly unrealistic and childish, and it is exactly what religious people want from their God.

Thus when neo-liberals call themselves citizens of a state, they mean exactly the same thing that religious people mean when they call themselves children of God. In this regard, religious people are more honest than neo-liberals, because they acknowledge that being taken care of by an all-powerful entity reduces them to the status of children — or chattel, which they acknowledge when they compare themselves a flock of sheep.

Neo-liberals seek to spare themselves this admission by secularizing their beliefs and values. But a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet.

The cultural Marxists who created neo-liberalism, complete with its politically correct self-sacrificial secular Edenism, were highly accomplished psychologists and sociologists. They knew perfectly well that this would happen. If they tore down traditional religious and family values and created widespread conditions leading to arrested emotional development, there would be only one possible replacement that could meet the subconscious psychological needs of the resulting post-modern tribe of hopelessly lost adult children: the apotheosis of the totalitarian state.

That’s right, neo-liberals worship the totalitarian state, even while they fancy themselves to be oh-so-sophisticated and secular.

This is what really underlies their rabidly relentless attack on the Constitution and the principles it is based upon.

Because, you know, sometimes, words have two meanings….

It drives me crazy when people engage in an honest discussion with me and, quite a while later on, we figure out that we are using the same words but intending different meanings for them!

It is impossible to have a meaningful exchange of ideas if we cannot define common labels to apply to those ideas.

This seems pretty basic and clear, but unless we are disciplined enough to define all terms prior to any debate or discussion, chances are we will fall into this trap.

And yes, of course, there are ‘weasels’ out there who intentionally twist words during the discussion in order to score cheap points.

And yes, of course, there are specific ‘weasel words’ some people use to intentionally obfuscate points and fudge discussions for whatever reasons they have.

But that is not what I am talking about.

I mean honest people, meaning to have honest discussions with each other, but not getting through to each other because the labels we use do not apply to the same ideas or principles – or apply to them in a different kind of a sense.

For example, the concept of what constitutes ‘murder’ is not universally understood the way we, in The West, define it:  the unnecessary killing of another human being during peacetime.

For example, the Yanomamo people of South America considered ‘murder’ to be the killing of any living being which was ‘of their village’.  So, the killing of a chicken or a dog that lived in one’s village was ‘murder’, but killing a human being who was not a member of their village was ‘killing’, but certainly not ‘murder’.

Now, the Yanomamo are matrilinear but patriarchal and so young boys go to live with their mother’s brother’s family – usually in a different village than into which they were born.  When such a child first arrives into the village, they are in great danger:  if the rest of the community does not accept them as ‘members of the village’ – for whatever reason – they will be killed (only click this link if you are willing to see this most vile and despicable practice!)

Brutal, but true…

Similarly, in ancient Rome, it was not ‘murder’ for a father to kill his children or cause them to be raised as slaves in unrelated families…

I suspect this Roman tradition is either the reflection of or the source of many cultural traditions where the father has absolute power over his family and it is not considered ‘murder’ for a parent to kill their offspring.

This is certainly the case under Sharia – Islamic law – which specifically states that a parent who kills their offspring is not guilty of murder.

This is important when we want to discuss the horrible, despicable practice of ‘honour killings’… it is not so much that all ‘honour killings’ are Islamic, but rather that the Islamic ‘honour killings’ are part of this tradition which is definitely seen as far back as Ancient Rome.

In most ‘traditions’, this is a cultural phenomenon only. It is something that can be altered through laws and education and, eventually, cultural change.  And, while this practice had been widespread at one time, it has been greatly reduced through these means among Sikh, Hindu and Christians groups that once practiced it openly.

In Islam, because it has been codified into Sharia and because most Muslims recognize Sharia as superior to man-made laws, it is much more challenging to combat this practice.

It is a bit tricky, but, please, let me explain…

As many of us have been shouting as loudly and clearly as possible, it is Muslims themselves who are the greatest victims of Sharia.

Because, under Sharia, anyone who is an observant Muslim is obligated to kill anyone they see as ‘apostates’:  those who have turned away from ‘true Islam’. So, if a child is seen as having left the true path of Islam, it is both obligatory to kill them as ‘apostates’ and it is not punishable, if it is a parent killing their offspring.

But, it goes further than that…

Under Sharia, it is not considered ‘murder’ to kill a non-Muslim – any time and under any circumstances.  ‘Murder’ is only the ‘unlawful’ (under Sharia) killing of a Muslim:  and it is lawful to kill a Muslim if he or she murders a Muslim, OR commits adultery, OR turns away from ‘true Islam’.

Just like Christianity, Islam demands that their religionists must ‘love’ god more than they love any family member, it is not difficult to see how what we, in The West, term ‘honour killings’ are believed (rightly or wrongly) to be not just permitted, but downright obligatory under Sharia.

Of course, there are some Islamic scholars (especially of the Shia schools) who believe that it is they, not the family, who should administer the ‘honour killing’.  But this is more of a dispute over power, not substance…

Please, keep the above in mind as you watch the following video, which supplies the relevant quotes from Sharia to support the above statements:


Thoughts about ‘Anonymous’ and the #occupy protests

Why is ‘Anonymous’ so much on my ‘radar’ now?

Couple of reasons…

They are, well, enigmatic…  When a big company picks on little guys – and this appears on their radar – they kick but.  Their aims are altruistic – perhaps idealistic – at least for now.  And they are big-time fans of freedom of speech!

They are techies who are kicking some slick behinds – you have GOT to love that!  (OK, I am indulging in a bit of tribalism here – even if the ‘tribe’ is diffuse and I don’t know them personally. I suspect that most of the people behind Anonymous are Aspies or have strong Aspie tendencies:  they are, after all, techies.  And I like to think that I am rather good at playing ‘spot the Aspie’.  The rules they pick and the way they adhere to them:  very Aspie-like…)

We are still full of the #occupy news….and Anonymous was there first.  No, I don’t think that the majority of people who are there now are in any way connected to Anonymous, but, please, consider the following:

  • before anything happened, Anonymous announced the protests and said to look for them there, on Wall St.
  • when the occupation of Wall St. first started, there was an almost complete news blackout on it
  • Anonymous had hacked into some local CCTV cameras and streamed the signal – that was, at the very beginning, the ONLY coverage of the event
  • then, as time went on, the professional protesters and their media henchmen began to trickle in…and Anonymous disappeared from the picture…
  • now, the protests are creatures of the professional protesters and the big money behind them – including semi-official backing by the US President and his minions, with absolutely no role played by Anonymous (that I can discern)

It is not a coincidence that the vast majority of the people protesting in the #occupy movement have no idea what they want to accomplish with this protest:  it is not a ‘regular’ protest of the sort where people want to accomplish a specific goal, analyze the approaches to achieving this goal and then choose protesting as their tool.  Rather, I suspect, this may have been a bit of an experiment…

…an experiment to see IF Anonymous can harness the power of the professional protest organizers when they need to – and to get an idea of how it would play out.

…an experiment to see how ‘neurotypicals’ (non-techies/non-Aspies) would react and behave, to gage their intelligence, initiative and individuality – or lack thereof in this type of a situation.  How soon and how deeply would ‘mob mentallity’ set in?

…an experiment to see whether ‘if we build it, they will come’ would work with protests.

Recently, when an Islamist group doc-dropped/outed Thunderf00t and his family members and threatened them by urging ‘all Muslims to do their duty’ because he dares to criticize Islam (he criticizes all irrational belief systems – systematically and effectively), Thunderf00t dropped the name of Anonymous as his protectors….and potential avengers!

Which got me thinking:  this is not the first time Thunderf00t has talked about Anonymous in his videos.  So, I went back and looked through his earliest material.  Here it is:

Interesting, is it not?

But there is more here, here, here, here (note the Guy Fawkes mask in the background) and here.

Not just in what Thunderf00t says – and how he says it, but also in how fascinated Anonymous is by Scientology.  Remember how, a few years back, they tried to build some sort of a movement against that cult?  I wonder if this is an indication of their fascination in how brainwashed neurotypical behave in groups … or the source of this fascination.

Don’t get me wrong – I do not think Anonymous has bad intentions.  I rather suspect that they are attempting to figure out how to help neurotypicals help themselves from self-imposed servitude (if this was not a full fledged attempt of its own to get them to help themselves).

But experiments/projects can go wrong – and more people than just Anonymous are keenly watching this and taking notes.

Before you vote – or evaluate the nex political opinion poll…

Perhaps a little pessimistic….

…perhaps a little time-consuming….

…perhaps only part of the truth….

…but, something we should all see before we vote!  (And, before we evaluate the next political opinion poll….)

Part 1...23…and 4.

Diaspora and our ‘bronze-age-brains’

There are two common-use meanings for this term:  diaspora and Diaspora.

The ‘little d’ diaspora refers to any (more-or-less) peaceful migration or immigration or general re-settlement of a socially cohesive group of people with a well-defined social identity into an already populated area, with no intention of integrating into the host society.  The ‘capital D’ diaspora refers to one specific ‘little d’ diaspora:  the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem by the Romans and their resultant scattering around the World.

At this point, I am only focusing on ‘little d’ diaspora.

This ‘diaspora’ is a curious concept:  a group of people who share a common ancestry/language/culture/religion – such as a tribe, or a clan, settle in an area already inhabited by ‘different people’.  Once there, they do not attempt to gain the land by conquest:  they either legally purchase it or, if the population density is low, they simply settle there and eventually claim squatter’s rights. So, there is no war.

The ‘newcomers’ are usually not perceived as hostile, so the people in the ‘host culture’ do not harbour hostility towards them.  Or, at least, not particularly so.  At the beginning.

But, we, humans, have come to be who we are by following a certain path of social evolution.

Each one of us is, first and foremost, an individual.  And, even in the most collectivistic of human societies, there is an acknowledgement (or a lament) that we are, indeed, individuals.

This fact that each of us is an individual does not, in any way, change that we are also very social:  we nurture our young and have long learned that pooling our resources can help us survive and succeed.  We don’t always agree on how much of our resources ought to be pooled, and how this pooling ought to be accomplished – but that is a different matter.

Different human societies have indeed reached different states of balance (or, imbalance) between the ‘individual’ and ‘society’.  This is only to be expected, because humans are such a prolific organism that we thrive – or, at least, survive – in greatly varying regions of the world.  These produce very different pressures (stresses) on the different human groups and their social rules that they govern themselves by.  Thus, very different attitudes, moral codes and social rules had developed.

Many people I have talked to seem to think that there is some sort of a ‘universal’ set of rules of ‘morality’ that all people subscribe to.  I am sorry to disappoint these people:  there is no such thing.  It is only because most cultures which had, historically, interacted with each other had been ones which were also in physical proximity:  thus, both a similar set of environmental pressures and long-term contact (such as trade) between the cultures served to spread ideas, learn of each other’s attitudes – in short, served as a ‘normalizing’ pressure on the development of these cultures.  This then gives an ‘appearance’ of ‘universal’ concepts of ‘right and wrong’.

Thus, this ‘universality’ is no more than an appearance.  What worked for one group of people in one specific time and place became their set of ‘right and wrong’.  Sure, if they learned a rule that seemed to produce better results, they usually found a way of incorporating this new rule into their society.  (Often, this was in the form of a new deity – which is why so many monotheistic cultures seem to freeze in their ‘moral’ development… but THAT is a completely different post!)

Isolated cultures are  prime examples of just how different ‘right and wrong’ is, depending on the pressures on the society.  Most ‘mainland’ cultures prospered if there were more offspring:  the more babies born, the more were likely to survive and become productive members of their clan, the better the clan did.  So, in most of these cultures, homosexuality (actually, most activities which would divert natural sex-drive away from baby-production) was forbidden and became considered ‘immoral’.  I remember my Anthropology prof telling us about an isolated culture on a small South Pacific island, where the overpopulation was the stress which drove the development of the society.  On this island, homosexuality was not only permitted, it was considered to be morally superior to heterosexuality!  As a matter of fact, heterosexual sex was taboo for over 300 days of the year…

The same is true of ‘murder’ – the concept of ‘killing another human being’ as ‘bad’ or ‘immoral’ is actually not all that common… as I have ranted on before.

As any physician will readily confirm, our brains are not any different from those of our bronze-age ancestors.  Sure, when we have better nutrition and vitamins, when we grow up mostly free of diseases, our brains develop into a much fuller potential then they would otherwise.  But not all our ancestors were malnurished or ill….  Our brains are have the very same physical characteristics, the same ‘blueprint’, if you will, that the brains of our bronze-age-ancestors did.

What differentiates us from our ancestors is our culture – our learning and our social attitudes.  In other words, ‘culture’ is what ‘defines us’ as ‘us’.

As opposed to ‘them’.

And this ‘them’ concept is extremely important to the way our ‘bronze-age blueprint-of-a-brain’:  because in our bronze-age past, ‘them’ could never really be trusted!  The simple fact that ‘they’ were not ‘us’, but ‘they’ meant that ‘they’ did not have a vested interest in ‘our’ survival.

That is why so many ‘ kings/chieftains’ would marry a daughter of a king/chieftain with whom they had just reached a peace-treaty:  the ‘father-king’ would have a vested interest in the survival of his grand-children, just as the ‘bride-groom-king’ has a vested interest in the survival of his own children.  This marriage and its ‘blood-bond’ reduces the ‘they’ factor and makes both sides see the other as at least a little bit more part of ‘us’.

Which brings me back to the ‘diaspora’:  the very point of a diaspora is that the newcomers do not become part of the ‘us’ which surrounds them. By the very definition of the word ‘diaspora’, these newcomers have a fully formed cultural (which includes religious) identity of their own and are not willing to compromise it in any way – especially through mingling of the blood!

In other words, the newcomers – by their choice – do not become ‘us’ to their neighbours/hosts.

This results in both sides being unable to fully trust each other:  blame our ‘bronze-aged brains’!

Dogged by Dogma

One thing that we humans do is ‘form communities’.  Extended families, neighbourhoods, professional associations, sports leagues, interest groups, church socials, nations, virtual debating site memberships – these are all communities formed by people through sharing common experiences.  It validates our sense of ourselves to be connected to other individuals and we feel most connected to those who have similar experiences and opinions as we do.  We even define our ‘self’ by the communities to which we belong.

 Each of these communities is unique in space, time and experience.  The ways their people interpret these common experiences affect the ‘facts’ of their ‘reality’:  the general assumptions about the world.  This is reflected in the way they use language, imbuing it with nuances and shades of meaning. 

 For example, the phrase ‘Three Kings’ may evoke a different image  in a Christian Bible study group than it might during a friendly card game.  Over time, some phrases which reflect certain key ‘common experiences’ turn into ‘presumptions’ which become more and more entrenched as they are repeated. 

 On and on, these become ‘unspoken truths’.  All new experiences are seen through this ‘truth’s’ perceptual prism.  And since the brain’s input has been filtered through this prism, the brain processes it that way – and concludes that the ‘truth’ is confirmed as ‘real’.  It is a circular cycle, a self-reinforcing process:  presumed ‘truth’ affects the way we perceive things, and our perceptions confirm this ‘truth’. 

 The ‘truths’ become so ‘common sense’, they are never questioned:  eventually, they become unquestionable.  Not because one would not dare to question them, at least, not at first.  Rather, it simply does not occur to anyone to question them. 

 They have now become dogma.

 And some people are happy to live in this way.  They are satisfied to be a member of their community, they are secure in their opinions and experiences, validated by their peers.  No problem there.

 What happens when, as is the nature of some of us, there comes along an individual who questions?  Who does not find anything to be ‘self-evident’?  Who is not able to believe – and more and more people today are daring to admit that they simply lack the ability to believe – and who dares to question the dogma and arrives at different conclusions?  Or even worse, what if this community encounters another community, one whose dogma is at odds with their own? 

 Human reactions have, in this regard, been very consistent.  We usually:
1. Silence the individual. 

2. Ridicule/denigrate or destroy the other community’s dogma. 

3. Find self definition and ‘specialness’ in our own community’s dogma. 

I plan to ‘jump around’ in my blog topics a little – having the attention span of a 2-year-old, I get distracted a little.  Yet, over the next little while, I will examine each of these very human reactions and post my musings on them.