We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

It will not do to chastise Obama’s budget proposal as a simple “refusal to lead,” a “punt,” or a “cynical political maneuver.” Obama isn’t failing to lead. He is very cleverly leading us toward an irreversible expansion of the welfare state. If Obama is reelected and in control when the entitlement crisis finally does hit, he will manage the country toward Euro-style taxes and Euro-style socialism. After all, in the midst of its current fiscal crisis, Obama is pushing Europe to expand spending, not contract it.

I like this post by Lexington Green (h/t Glenn Reynolds), although his vision of permanent Republican meltdown is overdrawn. Lexington rightly rejects the “failure to lead” framing, highlighting Obama’s strategic moves and long-term intentions instead. The notion that Obama plans to use Republican proposals for cuts to kick off a movement of “angry and mobilized” beneficiaries is exactly right. Obama’s 2010 attacks on the Chamber of Commerce and his infamous “punish your enemies” exhortation were efforts to do the same thing. I lay out the rationale behind this intentionally polarizing strategy in the final chapter of Radical-in-Chief. It’s a program deeply rooted in Obama’s past. And in the absence of an honest avowal of his plans and motives in the present, only the past reveals the truth about this president’s vision of the future.

Perhaps I’m wrong and “the president’s abdication of leadership” sound bite will be enough to defeat “the GOP’s heartless cuts.” Even so, as an alternative, I suggest: “Obama’s radical plans are leading us off a cliff.”

Stanley Kurtz

34 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I have ordered the Kurtz book. Looks to be a good read.

    He’s obviously been reading Paul Marks!

  • He’s obviously been reading Paul Marks!

    One of my old University lecturers always said “If your looking for the answer to economics – Read Marks”.

    I didn’t know Paul had been propounding his philosophy for so long, unless there is someone else with a similar name…


  • Dishman

    I learned it all from Groucho.

  • veryretired

    If Groucho had been in charge of the country these last several years, how could it have been any worse?

    At least he could sing a few songs and get off a few good one-liners.

    You can learn a lot from Lydia…

  • If Obama is reelected and in control when the entitlement crisis finally does hit, he will manage the country toward Euro-style taxes and Euro-style socialism.

    I must admit I find the American narrative perplexing. It’s often said that they’re heading towards Euro style this and Euro style that, and Europeans are socialists and the USA isn’t but will be if people aren’t careful.

    Like I said, I find this perplexing, because the USA clearly is a social democracy with big government and mass welfare. There are government run and funded medical programmes. Industry is tightly regulated and frequently corporatist. There are many social laws, and the government makes social policy and social pronouncements at both its Federal and State levels.

    So what is this difference? I can’t see it. Is it simply a complaint about the federal level doing things rather than the State level? That is true in Europe too; social programmes are still run from Westminster, not Brussels (in the case of the British EU state).

    Or is it just that however socialist America becomes, those on the right like to pretend that it isn’t socialist yet, and they are still fighting to prevent that in the future rather than admitting it has already happened? That they simply can’t bear the thought that they are living in a social democracy, so are in denial? I don’t know. But I find the discussion somewhat strange. America has the biggest Big Government in the world.

  • Paul Marks

    I think it would be more accurate to say that Paul Marks has been reading Stanley Kurtz.

    Mr Kurtz is one of many people whose work on Barack Obama I have been using since 2008 (I was aware of Barack Obama from 2004 – but totally failed to do any background checking till 2008). Remember I have never banged on any doors personally, or interviewed people who knew Barack during his life.

    I (like most people) rely on other people – and keep an eye out for errors of fact (these can be checked), and for places where various researchers contradict each other – then one must work out why they contractict each other.

    Of course Mr Kurtz (like the rest of us) also uses LEFTIST writers as sources – and sometimes they can be (unintentionally) very useful. For example, they can (they do) say that Barack was close to J. Wright at such and such a date but that the “Church” was not radical back then….. – quick check of the sermons that were preached in “Holy Trinity” on the stated dates……..

    Or they can casually mention a name (someone I have never heard of) saying what a nice person X was and what a big influence X was on Barack – a quick check shows that X was a Communist. And on and on.

    However, it is the speeches and writings or Barack himself that give the first clue – certain words and certain ways of using them, they scream “Cong”.

  • Paul Marks

    Ian B.

    Yes the United States is not yet socialist. It is certainly not free market – but it is not socialist (yet).

    Murry Rothbard was pushing the line that people were stupid to resist socialism (at home and overseas) because America had already fallen to socialism – RIGHT BACK IN THE 1950’s.

    Murry Rothbard was a great economist (and so on) but on politics he had a habit (and it was a habit – it was not just once in a while) of saying things that just were not true.

    I have no idea whether he was lying or whether he really believed what he was saying – but he did (again and again and again) say things that were utterly wrong (America already fallen to socialism, Viet Cong not really Marxist, IRA nice guys – and on and on).

    I am not a Randian objectivist (I am not an athiest for a start), but on politics (not on economic theory or the history of economics) I tend to be more confortable with the Objectivists (apart from the really fanatical “Randroids”) than the Rothbardians.

    This is because I never know with the Rothbardians are next going to say something nuts (I do not say “lie” – because they may believe it all), whereas the Randian Objectivists are far less likely to say something nuts on a political matter.

    I do not know whether it is linked into philosophy or not – but it is something I have observed (over more than 30 years of experience of this) so I have to go with what I have found to be the case. Rothbardians can say nutty (wildly false) political things at any time – and Randians are far less likely to.

    The Rothbardians (for whatever reason) had (and some still have) a habit of “joining hands with the left”, and the Randians do not have such a habit.

    A matter of empirical fact – something that must effect my thinking almost as much (say) as knowning that if I run off a cliff I will fall. “Run off a cliff – bad, I will fall”. “Trust a Rothbardian in politics – bad, they may say something nuts at any momemt”.


    There are two sorts of people who support an expanding (and they always expand – they start off TINY and then grow and grow).

    There are people who do not know what it does to civil society in the long term and those who do.

    For example, the Junker Bismark did not want to destroy civil society. He wanted to change things – but not destroy society.

    The school textbooks state that Bismark favoured welfare state programs to undermine the socialists. In reality he was pushing them in the Prussian Parliament from 1862 (although he had little success till 1878) when the socialists were of little importance – and when the Prussian government (Bismark himself) was secretly SUBSIDIZING socialist groups (partly in order to scare property owners into supporting the government – partly out of feeling that “the workers” were getting a raw deal from factory owners and so on).

    Even back when he was slim and was a long haired student (oh yes such a time did exist) Bismark wanted a more active state (his reading of the classics of German political thought naturally pushed him that direction) – but he did not want to destroy civil society – for example he did not introduce “unemployment pay”, because to pay people who are medically fit to work but do not…… well Bismark understood where that would lead (even if Lloyd-George did not understand).


    Ther are people who know perfectly well that Welfare States grow out of control and undermine civil society – and support them for that reason.

    Cloward and Piven are just two examples of a quite large group (a group that came out in the open in the 1960s – but goes back long before this).

    This second group seek to expand Welfare States even in times of fiscal crises – when people in the first group (Bismark style Welfare Statists) are trying to roll back welfare state schemes in oder to prevent bankruptcy.


    Well what conferences did he go to? All his adult life.

    And which group do his ACTIONS better fit?


    I know I will be called paranoid and so on – but this is the position the evidence leads me to.

  • Paul:

    Yes the United States is not yet socialist. It is certainly not free market – but it is not socialist (yet).

    But that does not address the differences or the similarities between the US and Europe. Isn’t socialism (and capitalism, on the other end) a matter of degree?

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – yes it is, but America is still quite a way a way.

    By the way – so is most of Europe.

    Are Republicans stupid as Ian B. thinks?

    YES a lot of them are stupid.

    But some of them are not stupid – but still say weird things, for good reasons.

    Remember that most people still think Barack Obama is a nice guy.

    They do not agree with his policies – but they like him personally and believe that he means well.

    So what would happen if (for example) the Republican Speaker of the House said “Barack is EVIL – he wants to DESTROY AMERICA”?

    Republican support would collapse – exactly what Barack Obama wants.

    It is O.K. for me to say that (I am justa nobody on a blog) but it is not O.K. for a leading Republican to say that.

    Even though it is true.

    What a leading Republican has to say is…….

    “We want to work with President Obama to scale back entitlement programs in order to save the United States from bankruptcy – to save the country that we all love”.

    A leading Republican may know perfectly well that Barack Obama is not going to do any such thing, and that he does not “love” America (he HATES the United States), but that does not alter what a leading Republican still has to say.

    Barack Obama must be defeated in 2012 – the way to do this is to pretend that one likes him personally (and that he means well), but explain that his policies are misguided. And to offer him every opportunity to change course. This puts a Republican on the same side as most VOTERS (a vital place to be).

    This does not mean that Barack will change course (or that one thinks he will) – or that one likes him, or that one thinks he means well.

    “Paul, politics is disgusting”.

    Did I say it was not disgusting?

  • Paul, none of what you wrote seems to address the simple point I made, which was to compare the USA and EU in terms of governance.

    I think the problem I have with some of your analysis is that I think it falls into a fallacy of Platonic essentialism. What I mean is, you seem to write from a view of there bieng a certain essence of, say Marxism, and we can look inside each person and ascertain whether or not they have that essence. There are two problems with this; firstly it presumes a strictly Boolean nature of this essence- either you entirely have it or you entirely don’t- and secondly that even if that is the case, we have no way of looking inside a person to know whether it is there. We can guess. But no more.

    Consider another such essence; that of Christianity. Can we say that a person is either a Christian or is not, and can we ascertain with certainty who is and who isn’t? Well the problem with the first part is that we have to recognise that there are all different kinds of Christians, from very devout ones to casual ones, to persons who will nominally say “I am a christian” but if you probe deeper find that they don’t think about God from one year to the next, except when somebody asks their affiliation for a survey. And then we have no way of knowing whether they are being truthful or not. We may find that a man regualrly attends Church, but maybe he’s just doing it out of convention or because his wife expects it. ANd yet another man may never attend church, but have a great devout faith.

    The essence is neither definable nor accessible. It is not defniable, because these words, “religious” or “marxist” mean something different to every individual. There is no essence.

    We can argue until we are blue in the face over precise defiinitons of “socialism”. Presidents Carter, Clinton and Obama would all in Europe be called socialists, probably. Most of our leftie politicians would be called “liberal” in America. They are broadly the same political position.

    What it comes down to is this; we cannot accurately define “socialism”. But if the EU is socialist, then so is the USA. If the USA is not socialist, then neither is the USA. They are similar enough politically; the governments do the same kinds of things, spend large amounts of money, run welfare programmes, introduce social policies and social engineering, and have similarly limited respect for individual rights.

    It is like saying, are the USA and EU feminist states? We can argue all day about what feminism precisely is, because every individual defines it differently, because every human brain is different. But we can confidently say that both states, if differing in the detail, are more feminist states than, say, Iran. To thus say that the one is feminist and the other one isn’t would be absurd.

    Likewise, the EU and USA are both broadly “social democratic”, or “socialist”, or “progressivist” or “collectivist” or whatever word you like. Which was my original point. “Socialism” isn’t a danger down the road for the USA. It has been implementing what would be called socialist policies in Europe for the past century. In what way is it not a socialist/social democratic country?

  • As far as public policy goes, both Paul and Ian are correct: there is no point in looking into someone’s soul, trying to determine their real beliefs. We can (and should) do it for ourselves personally, but publicly the questions that need to be addressed are the practical ones. Towards that end, the question on the practical political, economical and social differences between the US and Europe is one that begs for an answer, if not from Paul (and Ian), then from someone else.

  • Paul Marks

    Sorry Ian – I did not realize that comparing the U.S. government to European governments was what you were trying to do.


    The United States government (Federal, State and local) is smaller (in both taxes and spending as a proportion of the economy) than most European governments. The gap has closed a lot in recent years – but it is still there. And, no, even European nations are not socialist yet.

    On regulations the situation is harder to measure – the U.S. is less regulated in some ways (for example less “gun control”) but used to be more regulated in other ways (for example the stock market and financial services).

    However, such things as “insider trading” and “anti trust” (or “competition policy”) has now come to Europe also.

    Even the new Financial “Reform” Act in the United States seems to be much the same sort of thing that the E.U. wants to do.

  • Paul Marks

    I believe Brian was working in the financial industry when Britain went over to a more regulated and bureaucratic system – so he (if he wishes to do so) can write about what it was like.

    However, it does make me laugh (in my normal bitter way) when people talk about how financial services have been “deregulated” in Britain and the United States in recent years.

    And (thanks to the E.U. and so on) this is also the case in European markets.

    Even Switzerland is under pressure on financial services – by de facto world government stuff, like Basel (“Basel one” and “Basel two”) and by endless other demands.

    Statism never sleeps. They (academics, media people, politicians, administrators, and corrupt business people) are always plotting away.

    I just heard (minutes ago) people being very upset with the Governor of Florida for turning down billions of Federal Dollars for a high speed rail line.

    The scheme (like all Obama’s schemes) is a con – waving money in front of the noses of people, in the hope that it commits them to signing a blank cheque for cost over runs and operating costs (“Cross Rail” in London springs to mind).

    Yet people were really upset with Governor Scott for saying NO to the money.

    Warren Buffet being one person who is upset – nothing to do with him being a big investor in railroads (of course).

  • Yet people were really upset with Governor Scott for saying NO to the money.

    Good on him. It really depends on what one means by ‘people’. Buffet? A person – yes, but ‘people’?

  • Johanthan Pearce

    A difference here is that different states of the USA vary widely; California is similarly “socialist” to say, France; Texas or Nevada, not so much.

    Overall, though, Western Europe and the USA are converging, although at the very margins, countries such as the UK are arguably pushing back a little bit. But the differences are so hard to spot as to be no longer visible.

    For instance, on issues such as eminent domain, labour market rules, taxes, ease of doing business, etc, the US has slid down the freedom charts.

    Very sad.

  • I tend to think that the real difference (and here I have to diverge from the practical path I myself suggested above) is in the attitudes of the actual people (as in Paul’s comment above – remember those?), in the collective psyche, if there is such a thing. I think that from this point of view, even places like California are still vastly different from anywhere in Europe (although, paradoxically, I do have rather positive doubts about France, of all places). But I could well be wrong, as I am not anywhere as familiar with Europe as I am with the US.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes J.P.

    In fact I am going to stick my neck out and say I would rather live (if I could speak German) in Bavaria than in California.

    Germany has got rid of conscription now – and government spending (if one adds California State and local spending to Federal – and counts OFF BUDGET spending) is I think just as high in California as in Bavaria.

    Also regulations – California is a least as regulated (if not more so).

    And, in spite of all their faults, I would rather be before German commercial judges than Californian (or American Federal) ones.

    “But there are nice things to see in California” – there are in Southern Germany also.

    The only thing it lacks is the Pacific – but that (like the Sun) is not worth the costs anymore.

    Of course if the offer was Pasadena Texas – then my reply would be different (all those voluntary services).

    And Texas is not the least statist State (not by a long road).

    Perhaps the best State to set up a business in (considering, taxes and regulations and THE COURTS – the Alaskian courts are not good) would be…..

    South Dakota – yes I think that is the least bad place to set up a business in the United States.

    “What would you know Paul – you are all theory”.

    True enough – but I think the evidence stacks up for S.D.

  • Laird

    I think Johnathan has it about right. There are wide differences among the states, even if the federal government overlays a dense miasma of socialistic policies over them all. Which is why the fight to limit (and hopefully shrink) the federal government’s power is so important. The differences among the states matter.

    Of course the US has become “socialist”, with our Social Security, welfare programs, sometimes stifling federal regulations, etc. No one denies that. But, as Alisa said, it’s a matter of degree, and as far as I can see we’re not (yet) as bad as Europe in most respects. Many of us (such as the Tea Party movement) would like to keep it that way, and even reverse the trend. So we hold up Europe (and, for that matter, California) as an object lesson in what not to do. There’s value in that, even if we’ve already travelled far down that same road.

    So in the end IanB’s observation, while perhaps strictly accurate, is unhelpful or even worse. It suggests that since we’re all socialists now, there’s no point in fighting about it; just relax and enjoy it. I disagree. There is a point in fighting against it, and if in that fight I can point to a bad example and say “don’t become that”, what does it really matter if we’ve already assumed some of the characteristics of “that”? It’s an exercise in triage: first, stop the bleeding.

  • as far as I can see we’re not (yet) as bad as Europe in most respects.

    Laird, you live in a country that banned beer.

    I’m afraid that you can’t possibly win on this Land Of The Free argument. You banned beer.


  • Ian, you’re talking of beer as if it was sex or something…;-P

  • Laird

    Ian, we “banned beer” (and all alcohol) 90 years ago, and then repealed that ban 14 years later. That’s not the doing of anyone now living. Besides which, banning beer has nothing to do with “socialism”. “Authoritarianism” I’ll give you, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    But even if you want to talk about “land of the free” stuff, the whole point of our federal system is (or is supposed to be, anyway) that people in different states can reach different decisions about how they want to live. The repeal of the 18th Amendment left alcohol a state matter (as it should have been all along), and there are still a few “dry” counties left even today. Clearly the people there like it that way. If you don’t, you move across the county line. Personally, I think all those “blue” laws are silly and should be repealed. But for the most part they are highly localized (by county or even municipality), which is as it should be. And it has nothing to do with your diatribe about the US being “a social democracy with big government and mass welfare.” In fact, it’s the antithesis of that: it’s “local option” at its finest.

  • Laird,

    Ian, we “banned beer” (and all alcohol) 90 years ago, and then repealed that ban 14 years later.

    You mean, your government allows you to have a beer, at the moment? My, how good of them! You know that’s not liberty, right?

    On your second paragraph, it illustrates what i said previously, which is that the American discourse confuses liberty and anti-federalism[1], two quite distinct things. Anti-federalism is, basically, the doctrine of getting upset when the Federal level passes laws, because you want your tyranny local.

    Government is all levels of government, not just the Federal level. A “State” blue law is no better than a Federal blue law. A municipality blue law is no better either. They are all government, and all equally evil (or whatever anti-State adjective you prefer), from a Libertarian perspective.

    And back to the alcohol theme; I think it is imperative to understand that the anglosphere form of socialism- or to be more accurate these days we may as well call it “American Socialism”- always focusses first on social engineering and uses economics as a mere support of that. You always have to watch them coming after your “social rights” first. They’ll take your beer away before they’ll collectivise the farms- they’re not much interested in the latter, but by golly they stay awake nights worrying about the former.

    American Socialism is now the predominant form in the world. You only have to ask yourself which country invented and propagates multiculturalism, radical feminism/sexism, gay rights, the satanic/paedo panic, greenism (Germanic roots, but didn’t take off until the USA picked it up) and so on? It’s America, isn’t it? Which country’s guilt about their apartheid system has drowned the whole West in a quagmire of self hatred? It’s the goddamned Land Of The Free So Long As You’re Not A N1gg3r USA, isn’t it? And which country thought up a war on narcotics, a war on smokers, and now, again, a war on drinkers? It’s not bloody Lichtenstein, is it?

    So from my perspective as an Englishman, I would say: deal with your own socialism, that good old Yankee socialism, and stop exporting it over here then blaming “Europeans” for it. Blame Croly, blame Dewey, blame Jane Addams, blame Woodrow Wilson, blame Roosevelt’s Brains Trust, blame Teddy “Anti Trust” Roosevelt, blame Berkeley, blame Harvard, blame the Red Diaper babies, blame the SDS and blame the New Left, blame that whole ghastly state you call “California”, blame New England, blame a puritan America whose guilt about its own sordid past spreads across the world, enervating and undermining every society it infects. And blame us for sucking it up.

    And please, consider this. In 1945, Britain became an overtly socialist country. We had a government with openly marxist sympathies; it nationalised healthcare. It implemented a massive welfare state. It nationalised virtually every major industry. It nationalised all transport except cars and bicycles (and eventually nationalised the car industry). It developed immensely powerful unions who openly called for Communism. And yet, throughout that time, an Englishman still felt free. We never became a communist dictatorship. People still believed they had rights. Even conservatives these days look back at that period and remember a better place where they could tell a joke without worrying they’d be reported to the authorities, where they could smoke a pipe in the saloon and never would have dreamed they could be prevented.

    But now… now, nobody feels free. When did our sense of liberty collapse? Not under Attlee, nor Macmillan, nor Wilson, nor even Heath. It collapsed as we absorbed that American, social engineering, cloyingly puritan type of socialism, the one developed by American activists and American universities and American academics and American pressure groups. The type that, in its previous phase of ascendancy, banned beer.


  • Laird

    Calm down, Ian. Have a scotch, or a valium, and wipe off the monitor[1].

    I don’t really disagree with anything you say, but what you’ve done is redefine “socialism” into something entirely different than the dictionary definition of the term. You’re really talking about “puritanism”, which everyone here knows is your own personal bête noire. Calling it by a different name doesn’t change your argument, it just obfuscates matters.

    Well, for whatever historical reason, we’re puritans, and you don’t like us infecting the rest of the world with that disease. Fair enough; fight to keep it out. We don’t like your economic socialism, and I’ll continue fighting to keep it out, and will continue to use Europe as an object lesson in the evils of taking that road.

    Oh, and as to the “beer ban”, that wasn’t imposed upon us by an all-powerful state or some secret cabal. It was a constitutional amendment, adopted (and fairly quickly repealed) by a substantial majority of the populace. Amending the Constitution is very difficult, and only happens when there is substantial popular support. So it wasn’t the government which took away our beer, or gave it back. It was us; we did it to ourselves, knowingly and voluntarily. There’s a difference.

    I don’t confuse anti-federalism[2] with liberty. They are indeed entirely different creatures. But the first step in re-acquiring our liberties is to take power from the national[3] government and devolve it back closer to the people. There it’s easier to control, and is more subject to the benefits of competition due to the ease by which we can change jurisdictions. If I don’t like the way my county or state is run I can move to another within the same country. If I don’t like what Washington is doing my only recourse is to move to Australia or someplace, a much more difficult proposition. One battle at a time, my friend.

    [1] You got so worked up you even forgot the footnote!

    [2] Your term, and although not strictly accurate (the “anti-federalists” opposed ratification of the Constitution) I’m using it here because its meaning in this context seems clear enough.

    [3] We’ve long since stopped having a “federal” government in any true meaning of that term. We now have a national government, but we continue to use the word “federal” out of habit (and, I suspect, to conceal the reality). Like the Consitution itself, we honor the term “federal” more in the breach than the observance.

  • Good point about the Prohibition, Laird. I wasn’t aware of that, although now that you mentioned it, it should be quite obvious to anyone familiar with the US political system.

  • M

    If you’re talking about mere economic issues, then maybe Europe is more socialistic than the US. On the other hand, I think the US is up there with Britain and Sweden as being one of the most politically correct countries, and the US regime is the biggest pusher of PC and multiculturalism in the world. If I could speak Italian, and was given the choice of living in Italy or America, I’d pick the former. Sure, Italy may be a bit more economically ‘socialist’, but seems much less contaminated by political correctness, feminism, ‘anti-racism’ activists, etc. I’m no socialist, but I think ending multiculturalism, PC, feminism, third world immigration and so on are more important right now than privatising the post office or cutting a few percentage points off corporate tax rates.

  • Paul Marks

    Ian – you do know where both Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson got their statism from?

    They got it from Richard Ely (the main academic of the start of the last century – but the leader of a legion of creatures like himself) – who got it from Germany. Of course British statism (Joseph Chamberlain, David Lloyd-George and so on) were inspired by the same place.

    It even reached into popular culture – for example I have the front page of the Daily Telegraph from January 1st 1900 downstairs (no I was not about at the time) and it all about how we must imitate the statism of GERMANY in the new century.

    The American Progressive movement was about IMITATING EUROPE (in those days especially Imperial Germany).

    Oddly enough the Progressives (with a few exceptions such as Senator La Follette who was a Progressive, but also a man of peace – which is why Richard Ely tried to destroy him) were quite happy with war with Germany – indeed they longed for it.

    “There can only be one” you see (sorry for the Highlander ripoff). And they (to steal a line from Tolkien) “hated Sauron as a rival, rather than a hater of his works”.

    The Progressives detested American traditions (including traditional Christianity) with all their hearts.

    However, one can make a few anti Christian points (you will be glad to hear).

    For example, Richard Ely (statist, racist, nationalist, war lover…….) had a day named for him in the calender of the Episcopalian Church (the most socially high toned at the time) and Woodrow Wilson remained a Presbyterian in good standing (of course he believed that the State was the true God – but why should a little thing like that disturb anyone…..).

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer is known as the great denouncer of the German Church in the 1930s for its failure to stand against evil, and it practice of allowing complex theology act as substitiute for a basic sense of honour. To Bonhoeffer the Church (in Germany) had become the ENEMY of God.

    Bonhoeffer was also a great admirer of Christianty in the United States – but there was plenty of rotteness and and evil there to (and there still is – Rev. J. Wright springs to mind).

    There always has been in Christianity (and every other relgion – and athiesm to) – after all the actions of “Saint” Cyril of Alexandra could come staight out of a Hammer Horror film.

    Of course even the sumptuary laws demanded in Woodrow Wilson’s first book “The State” (“oh he has written a big book, he must be a great mind – never mind what is in the big book………….) are similar to the actions of Cato the Censor (Cato the Elder).

    Another swine who set himself up as an enforcer of morals – whilst doing vast wickedness

    It was, of course Cato the Elder who got Rome to demand that Carthage disarm – and then got Rome to treacherously attack Carthage, murdering or enslaving the population. A man with no honour (and no sense of obligation – as his treatment of his own slaves shows).

    Not a question of a “different time” – writers of the time noted what he was.

    Some people (regardless of religion or lack of it) are just no good – they aggress against others (the weak and the helpless).

    One does not waste complex moral arguments on such wicked folk – one hits them over the head with a lump of wood.

  • One does not waste complex moral arguments on such wicked folk – one hits them over the head with a lump of wood.

    The two are by no means mutually exclusive, the only question is that of priority. Wood-lump them first, sort them out later – but dosort them out.

  • Paul Marks

    A person can always say “I do not believe it is wrong” – however bad the thing he is doing is.

    It may simply be impossible to produce a knockdown moral argument to convince them that (for example) raping that three year old girl to death is wrong, and that he should not do it.

    Hence the need to hit the bad guy over the head with a lump of wood.

    And he may never be (really) convinced – for example, after years in jail he may insist that he has been “sorted out” that he will never do it again.

    And then the first day he gets out…………

  • Er, Paul: lump of wood is not there to have someone end up in jail, it is to have someone end…:-)

  • Paul Marks

    My apologies for misunderstanding you Alisa.

    I thought you wanted to reform people by explaining to them the error of their ways.