Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A religious country

Bing, bing, bing... whooooosh... Wow! I've just returned from a black hole. A place whose gravity sucked me in. A place called Pharyngula. I know I haven't escaped completely. I will probably yo-yo back and forth until I'm either sucked in completely or reach some point of equilibrium. PZ Myers finds some of the best stuff to post about and I really enjoy his writing style but some of the items can generate hundreds, and even thousands, of responses from the Pharyngulite Horde. Reading it all can take hours out of your day. The only sour note is from some of the regulars there who are so liberal that they've forgotten about liberty. It's a hot-bed of libertarian bashing which of course puts me off a bit. What I have noticed is that those individuals who are the most strident of the libertarian bashers fall victim to one of the logical fallacies that they usually accuse religious fundamentalists and creationists of. That being the "strawman". They conjure up really awful ideas out of thin air and then claim that's what libertarianism is about and easily go about bashing it. Well sure, if the things they claimed were true about libertarianism then it would deserve bashing. But they seem to have gotten it all wrong. So I'm not sure if they are really anti-liberty or if they just have this mistaken notion about libertarian ideals. Ah well, I'm not into proselytizing. I hate it when people do it to me so I try to avoid doing it to others (my own version of the Golden Rule). Since I read Pharyngula for the science and the anti-religion I just sort of ignore the politics.

Well, that wasn't what I started to talk about anyway. Here in the U.S.A. the Christian majority generally like to claim that this is a Christian country. Even those of us who are non-religious have to admit, like it or not, that there is a huge Christian influence in our government and that a majority of our neighbors are Christian affiliated. But, I am pleased to note that we are not as bad as some other places. What brought this on was an e-mail I received from my brother-in-law. He works in Israel and sent some photographs of the streets and shopping areas on yesterday's Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The streets and highways were empty and only one or two pedestrians could be seen down long avenues of closed shops. He said that "if anyone drives a car people throw rocks at it" and that the only vehicles he saw were ambulances. Now that's a country that takes its religious holidays seriously. As much as I am concerned about the overt religiosity in our country, at least it's not THAT bad. My neighbors may avoid me, knowing that I'm one of those awful atheists, but at least they don't pelt my car with rocks if I drive on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday or something.

Enough for today. Let's see if I can get in a few more posts before getting sucked back into Pharyngulaaaaaaaaa...........


Allienne Goddard said...

You might consider that there is no pure philosophy of "libertarianism" and that people are responding to self-styled internet libertarians. In my experience, most libertarians are childish in their selfishness and self-absorption. They seem to believe that there is no such thing as society, or if there is it is merely a nice name for the masses trying to steal all the money they earned all by themselves, without any help from anybody, after they spontaneously generated themselves from the earth. Seriously, I agree with the basic concept of personal liberty, as I think most people do, but I think it is rather childish to be a libertarian after the age of 20.

Die Anyway said...


I have seen discussions of the varieties of "libertarians" so I must acknowledge that libertarianism comes in many flavors, some of which I don't care for. In discussions with Europeans I have found that they generally equate libertarianism with anarchy. The literature that I have read and ascribe to is quite the opposite of anarchy. There's liberty and self-reliance but there is also responsibility.

In any case, I don't see libertarianism as being childish (I'm over 60 after all), on the other hand I do see American-style liberalism as being childish. Still, I can live with the liberals more than with the conservatives (again American-style, as I understand these terms have different meanings in other countries).

Allienne Goddard said...

Well, I wasn't actually arguing politics with you. I was trying to explain why people might abuse you for claiming the title of "libertarian". I was also explaining my reaction to libertarians both on and off teh internets. I'm afraid that the well has been poisoned, and there is no advantage to adopting the title, unless you want props from the other idiots claiming the title. In other words, I think it would be to your advantage to argue the ideas you subscribe to themselves, and avoid the labels. Obviously, you should do whatever you want.

I am curious, however, to learn your reasons for viewing American liberalism as childish. If you aren't interested in discussing it, that's okay too. Also, though my comment on the childishness of libertarianism was not specifically directed at you, but rather generally at those who argue for it on the interwebs, I would like to point out that even 60 year-olds can, indeed, be childish.

Die Anyway said...

The "label" thing is definitely a concern. Until recently I had not realized the European meaning. I was introduced to the Libertarian Party by way of presidential candidate Harry Browne. I listened to his speeches and read some of his articles and was impressed by his ideas and his approach to solving some of the political issues in the U.S. This was a whole new paradigm to me... that public issues could be solved by private methods rather than government methods. Many things used to be that way but government has taken over. For example, very near to my house is an historic site where the first bridge was built from the mainland out to the barrier island. The bridge was built by a private individual using his own funds along with funding from selling subscriptions and charging tolls. Now days all bridges are government owned and payed for by tax money from people who may never use the bridges.
In any case, the way I perceive the Democrats is that they want a "nanny state". Big government takes everyone's tax money and then gives the loudest whiners whatever they whine for (thus my 'childish' reference). Although this is not completely the case because big government with big money and big power attracts people with big egos and big greed. They will end up doing whatever they want with OPM (other people's money) including lining their own pockets rather than responding to some of the whining.
Thus it seems to me that there is a better way. Rather than sending all of our money to Washington to be skimmed by the politicians, wasted by the bureaucracy, funneled to the corporate political donors and lobbyists, and finally parcelled out to activities that you don't even support, why not keep your money and spend it or donate it as you see fit? You may in the end spend just as much (maybe even a bit more) to acquire services or support causes but 100% of your money will go to the things you need or want, not to something that the majority voted for (or some politician wanted).

I do have to think about that Libertarian label. During the last U.S. presidential election the Libertarian Party selected Bob Barr as the candidate. I didn't vote for him as I didn't believe he represented the kind of libertarian ideals that I had learned about. If I don't even support my own party, where does that leave me?