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My experience is that sadists and bullies operate just as effectively under the banners of "reason" and "progress" as they do under the banner of Christ or Mohammed;  just as effectively under a red flag as a red-white-and-blue one;  and just as effectively whether they claim to be championing the People's Cause as the Almighty Dollar.  To blame all of their acts on the content of the words they speak or the ideas they ostensibly cherish is imho to be bamboozled by the magician's hand and lose sight of the birdie.

The form of words, the ideological icing on the cake of domination and terror, seems to me far less important than the underlying will to dominate and hurt.  As an insightful author once wrote, she came to a new understanding the day she realised that her father did not beat her and her siblings because he was drunk;  he got drunk in order to get the courage to do what he enjoyed doing, i.e. hurting them.

Religions and ideologies can be for many people like an alcohol brewed from powerful memes, a rationalisation that gives them the courage (or loosens inhibitions of compassion and commensality) to do what they enjoy doing -- hurting others.  Personally I have as little enthusiasm for Hitchens' indiscriminate nastiness or Dawkins' cool condescension -- or the deliberate provocateering of their escalating book titles -- as I do for the Bible-bashers' zealous rants;  from my PoV each set of ranters has swigged a suitable booze of fermented memes to give them the delightful buzz of feeling better than the other guy and entitled to exercise contempt and jettison respect for whole swathes of their fellow mortals.  They're enjoying a good excuse to feel superior and insult others, and I find that really boring, not to mention depressing.

I am as bothered as the next person by the role of Constantinian Christianity in the present US regime, but imho it's part and parcel of the regime as a whole, i.e. it is a form of words that has evolved to make a state religion consistent with the neoliberal agenda.  Without the neoliberal agenda the revanchist fundies in the Air Force and other hotspots would be marginal;  they are being promoted and placed preferentially by the neocons at the core of power.

And I really wish people would stop comparing "anything I don't like" to child abuse.  [A year or so back there was some zealot on a bike list in the US who compared letting your kid ride a bike w/o a helmet to "child abuse."  This is just getting silly.]  Yeah, people tell children stories that are scary, and yeah, sometimes it would be better if they didn't (though kids generally like scary stories, so long as they are told in a safe environment).  But the mind of a child is a mysterious and highly individual thing:  some are terrified by the apparently innocuous (nightmares for months after seeing the funny clown at the circus), some shrug off scare stories with an apparently native skepticism.  Childhood is a maze of potentially terrifying adult narratives, rules, and punishments;  an overbearing/cruel atheistical parent can instil as much fear and suffering in a child as any godbotherer, imho, and a compassionate and loving parent can subscribe to any ideology or religion on earth and still convey that love and security to a child.  Who knows, a child who is raised from earliest youth with a deep sense of being personally loved and cherished by a loving and all-knowing God -- or accompanied through life by protective totemic sibling spirits -- might be more cheerful and better armoured against life's vicissitude than one raised in the bleaker existential worldview of atheism;  being raised atheist I wouldn't know.

What makes people cruel or kind, abusive or nurturing, tolerant or self-righteously vindictive, seems so disconnected (on the personal day2day level) from the cultural formulae they mouth or the rituals they partake in...  it would make more sense to me if we talked about the ways in which different ideologies or religions justify or delegitimate cruelty, the ways in which they strengthen or weaken commensalism and mutual respect, the ways in which they mediate or exacerbate faction, their attitudes to wealth accumulation and justice, etc. -- and the ways in which big ideas (like evolutionary theory or theology, like Science or God) are simplified and co-opted by State power to function as control mechanisms for accumulator elites.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 03:06:38 PM EST
I am in awe at your ability to get to the nub.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Dawkins demonstrates how critical thinking can sometimes dispell misplaced awe - try it :-)

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 06:02:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To keep this love-in going, I'm amazed at you both, frankly. De for cutting through, and you for transcending.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 06:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]

My experience is that sadists and bullies operate just as effectively under the banners of "reason" and "progress" as they do under the banner of Christ or Mohammed;  just as effectively under a red flag as a red-white-and-blue one;  and just as effectively whether they claim to be championing the People's Cause as the Almighty Dollar.  To blame all of their acts on the content of the words they speak or the ideas they ostensibly cherish is imho to be bamboozled by the magician's hand and lose sight of the birdie.

It's useful to use quotations when making criticisms - a problem in this case is that I'm not aware of who is supposed to have claimed  this - is Dawkins supposed to have done so ? Where ?

Now we get the old "they're all the same" "rant" - crude comparison ignoring significant differences, that's what happens when you give little evidence of actually having read what your making pronouncements about.


 Personally I have as little enthusiasm for Hitchens' indiscriminate nastiness or Dawkins' cool condescension -- or the deliberate provocateering of their escalating book titles -- as I do for the Bible-bashers' zealous rants;  from my PoV each set of ranters has swigged a suitable booze of fermented memes to give them the delightful buzz of feeling better than the other guy and entitled to exercise contempt and jettison respect for whole swathes of their fellow mortals.  They're enjoying a good excuse to feel superior and insult others, and I find that really boring, not to mention depressing.

Fortunately for them vast numbers of readers don't share your views - so I don't suppose they'll lose much sleep over your boredom, which apparently caused you not to be a reader.


I am as bothered as the next person by the role of Constantinian Christianity in the present US regime, but imho it's part and parcel of the regime as a whole, i.e. it is a form of words that has evolved to make a state religion consistent with the neoliberal agenda.  Without the neoliberal agenda the revanchist fundies in the Air Force and other hotspots would be marginal;  they are being promoted and placed preferentially by the neocons at the core of power.

Consider the arguments in rdf's comment and the rather obvious general point that religious groups are pushing policies based on their religious beliefs, not general neo-con policies (which they might ALSO support - but not all religious groups, even in the US, would).


And I really wish people would stop comparing "anything I don't like" to child abuse.  [A year or so back there was some zealot on a bike list in the US who compared letting your kid ride a bike w/o a helmet to "child abuse."  This is just getting silly.]  

Oh really? Well it's irrelevant to the main issues, but it seems to me quite reasonable to suggest that action which can lead to serious brain injury and quite easily to death could be described as child abuse - which might well make people more aware of the serious risks involved.


Yeah, people tell children stories that are scary, and yeah, sometimes it would be better if they didn't (though kids generally like scary stories, so long as they are told in a safe environment).  But the mind of a child is a mysterious and highly individual thing:  some are terrified by the apparently innocuous (nightmares for months after seeing the funny clown at the circus), some shrug off scare stories with an apparently native skepticism.

Why don't you - instead of regaling us with your assumptions - read MillMan's comment on his childhood - hardly likely to be unique.


  Childhood is a maze of potentially terrifying adult narratives, rules, and punishments;  an overbearing/cruel atheistical parent can instil as much fear and suffering in a child as any godbotherer, imho,

Obviously - has anyone denied that ?


and a compassionate and loving parent can subscribe to any ideology or religion on earth and still convey that love and security to a child.  Who knows, a child who is raised from earliest youth with a deep sense of being personally loved and cherished by a loving and all-knowing God -- or accompanied through life by protective totemic sibling spirits -- might be more cheerful and better armoured against life's vicissitude than one raised in the bleaker existential worldview of atheism;  being raised atheist I wouldn't know.

Tell them any old junk if it keeps them happy ? Maybe for the first few years. An atheist's view is not necessarily "bleaker" Dawkins discusses this in his final chapter - you might even try reading it. Bleaker  by far is the idea that having been a fallible human being (supposedly created by god that way) and having committed "sins" - you're going to roast in hell for eternity - as ordained by a "loving" god.


What makes people cruel or kind, abusive or nurturing, tolerant or self-righteously vindictive, seems so disconnected (on the personal day2day level) from the cultural formulae they mouth or the rituals they partake in...  it would make more sense to me if we talked about the ways in which different ideologies or religions justify or delegitimate cruelty, the ways in which they strengthen or weaken commensalism and mutual respect, the ways in which they mediate or exacerbate faction, their attitudes to wealth accumulation and justice, etc.

Actually they do discuss those things - try reading them.

And one of the reasons why some of the more thoughtful people leave Christainity, particularly fundamentalist groups, is because when they read the Bible carefully they find so much which they consider morally repugnant (cf testimonies at http://exchristians.net ).


 -- and the ways in which big ideas (like evolutionary theory or theology, like Science or God) are simplified and co-opted by State power to function as control mechanisms for accumulator elites.

Dawkins would obviously agree that evolutionary theory has been misused - just about any ideas can be misused - while some, e.g. racism, homophobia,etc,  the kind of ideas you find in the Bible (but not only those, it shouldn't be necessary to point out), are generally thought to be inherently bad by civilised people.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 06:00:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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