July 18, 2011

I Think I'll Blog a Looong Post About Politics AND Religion

Let's see how this reader reacts.

I guess it'll have to go below the fold then.
This weekend I went up to Northern Virginia to see some friends I had not seen in a while and watch a bunch of first episodes from this anime season.

Events conspired to delay me quite a bit but I did get to see people I hadn't seen in a while which was really cool. The group in question is a lively and entertaining bunch and always enjoyable to be around. I've known them for years and think very highly of most of them.

Of course most of them range in political views from  "far left" to unrepentant pinko commie and this tends to come out at the oddest times...like during the closing credits of an R1 release.

During the credits, someone noted that an individual listed as working for Warner Brothers had previously made comments that were anti-union and said person went on to say that they were going to make that individuals life hell via online mischief.

Now I don't know if the person in question has that power, but given the professional and semi professional hats they wear...as well as their contacts, it's quite possible.

 I didn't say anything at the time about how dickish trying to ruin somebodies career because they disagree with your worldview is. Perhaps I should have, but one has to pick ones battles and turning a friendly get together into a heated political discussion at 11pm as people were leaving would sour the evening for everyone.

And I won't name names because causing grief for someone who is otherwise a pleasant person because they have come to a different conclusions would itself be a dickish thing to do.

Why am I even mentioning it?

Because this idea that there ought to be 'no zone of comfort' for those who disagree with ones politics seems to be re-gaining traction on the left.

The lefties reasons for this are not necessarily cynical. Many of them (certainly my friend) really believe in the crazy stuff they espouse and they believe it in the same way a Southern Baptist believes in what they are discussing in Church.

Therein lies the rub...there are dammed good reasons to divorce religion from politics, but for a lot of secular lefties...their politics ARE their religion.

This gets awkward, because to them virtue is synonymous with agreeing with their worldview and, it seems, to an increasing extent, opposing the policies they espouse is by default evil.

This is vastly different from the way that those of us who practice a religion look at the problem, and (I think) it is markedly different from how the right leaning atheists who comment here look at things.

For most religious people in this country there is a separation between the sacred (ones relationship with ones God or ones sacred texts) and the profane (that would include many things but Politics is at the top of the profanity list). Note that Christianity and Buddhism make this distinction outright.  This means that discussions about politics are (in theory) discussions about prioritizing and figuring out through trial and error what does and doesn't work.

Of course this frequently breaks down over things like vice laws. (BLASFEEMING LOBSTER EATERS!11!! ). However, whatever "sinful things" society allows, it is the ultimate responsibility of a religious person to not partake of those things. The fact that others are allowed to do something does not compel one to do it...the flip side of this is that others  ought not to prevent one from practicing ones religion if ones religion does not involve hurting others. This is the American compromise, and like much of what the founders intended it has been imperfectly implemented, though there has been considerable net progress.

Of course to a secular lefty ALL religions are blasphemy. Everyone who practices them is taking time and resources away from the one true god...the state, through which all good works are done.  Indeed, anything that gets in the way of doing what they believe to be good is stupid or evil...but usually both.

This presents some problems. It is possible to convince a person of faith that a tax may or may not be a good idea, that the Chilean pension model is a better  way to deal with social security, or that a particular line item is not (or is) the responsibility of the federal government. It is nigh impossible to convince them that there is no God other than the flying spaghetti monster or that the Sutras are nothing more than a recipe for tomato sauce (to adorn the flying spaghetti monster).

The secular lefties believe in their often contradictory policies with the same fervor that others believe in their faith. This means that many of them see us as evil, and like the aforementioned Professor Fineburg see nothing wrong with making the political personal on a whim.

Game theory would seem to suggest that the way to nix this escalation in the bud is to start flash-mobbing the Professor Fineburgs of the world.

However, because I believe that most of these people are sincere and religious in their beliefs, I don't think that will work.

How true to their faith are they?

There is no proof that God does or does not exist, thus Atheism and Religion are both non-falsifiable. There are certain religious beliefs that don't stand up to evidence but those don't disprove the existence of God, they merely prove that Ken Ham is a fool. 

By contrast history gives a pretty good test of various ideas...lets look at two.

Printing vast quantities of paper money to monetize a national debt tends to lead to a bad place, it brings up things like Wiemar, Argentina, and Zimbabwe in word associations.

Just like a 19th century Christian apocalyptic,  moving the date from March 21, 1843 to March 21,1844 to October 21 1844..the lefties are gearing up for their third round of quantitative easing. (this time fer sure)
Note that there was much less empirical evidence that God wasn't coming than there is that printing money to monetize debt is a bad idea.

We have the example of California, a huge state with vast natural resources on the west coast facing the burgeoning markets of Asia. We have Texas, slightly smaller with less natural wealth and a crappy climate facing the Gulf of Mexico.

Texas is largely doing it right* California is a cascading failgasm. This is being repeated throughout the country as the blue state model is shown not to work over the long term. We are able to compare and contrast thanks to our federal system which gives us 50 different states and 5 territories to compare and contrast ideas (and optimize for local variables). This is as scientific a method for finding the best way to do things as politics will allow. However, bearing striking similarities to a young earth creationist trying to explain away an archeopteryx...their response seems to be to stick their fingers in their ears and hum real loud.
The thing is these people are not stupid, by and large hey are very well educated, but they have adopted as a religion a set of beliefs that are one with their politics so they are utterly unpersuadeable by evidence...and I'm not sure how to deal with that frankly.

Those of us on the right need to be aware of this dynamic and be redouble our efforts to argue via reason rather than emotion. We may not be able to persuade secular lefties....those fish will not bite...but we can hopefully persuade enough of the middle to keep the country from sliding into the abyss.

My feeling on this is that rather than 'punching back twice as hard' when they engage in dickishness, we need to remain civil, not just for appearances (the press will always favor the lefties, no matter how justified ones indignation may be) but because it is the correct and adult thing to do.

* Texas is having a budget shortfall right now, but this is largely due to the huge recent surge in infrastructure construction needed to accommodate all the people moving there. More on that here and here.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 10:27 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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