Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Fidel Castro passes on

Fidel Castro, in his declining years
Fidel Castro, in his declining years

Overnight, his brother and successor Raul announced the death of the former longest serving non-royal head of a state. While we must condole with those who mourn, we must also recognise his very mixed legacy, as a Communist dictator leading a state that — per fair comment — has been very un-free and hampered in its development.

Be that as it may, we must recognise this is the death of a former national leader and widely respected statesman. One, who will be mourned not just by family and friends or countrymen, but far and wide across the world.

The development also comes at a pivotal time, when the USA is undergoing its own leadership transition after a very polarised election, and is showing signs of deepening polarisation connected to progressivist ideologies. One issue is that there is a projection of dangerous “Alt-Right” “populism” which is being openly compared to Nazism (incorrectly, National Socialism is a form of Fascism — founded by a leader of the Socialist International — and as its name suggests, is a now dead ideology of the left). The populism smear, as presented by Bloomberg . . and, do not overlook, this is ordinary Americans responding to their National Anthem and/or Pledge of Allegiance:


(In fact, it was plainly the fed-up Rust Belt working classes who previously voted for Mr Obama in 2008 and/or 2012 who delivered the decisive blow to Mrs Clinton — the progressive candidate — in the US presidential election.)

Across the Atlantic, Britain is undergoing a very unstable post Brexit transition (with the decisive blow delivered by the English working class in Labour strongholds . . . a pattern emerges), and Europe as a whole is pondering its implications in light of upcoming elections:


Okay, let’s get some basic stuff on the table, news announcement.

Video announcement:

[youtube lBV88edVd-c]

Added, Daily Mail’s bullet-point head and lead:


Also added, US President-Elect Trump’s brief tweet a short while ago [now being 1341+ hrs GMT]:


Now, on the focal matters for us here at UD.

A useful de-spinning and e-YES re-framing exercise for UD’s readers will be to take time in coming hours and days to observe coverage in the media and reactions of world leaders across the ideological spectrum (insofar as such a LEFT vs RIGHT spectrum has any objective warrant).

In this regard, let us understand that

Marxism presented itself for many decades as an undeniable — and in many contexts, the uniquely “legitimate,” “correct” and even “consensus” — scientific analysis of the world of man in society as determined by base line materialistic factors and laws that play out in a chain of social forms across history;

. . . leading to an evolving pattern of superstructures of economic, social, political, legal, and socio-cultural frameworks, with ideology and particularly religion seen as disguising and reducing the raw necessity of force to sustain oppression:



This of course bears a strong resemblance to how Cultural Marxist, critical theories (typically [Critical] Studies of X) approach their diverse fields of interest and it drives the use of oppressed minority identity politics to wedge apart a broad societal consensus into balkanised polarisation.

That polarisation is used, through Alinsky-style agit-prop activism, to discredit and destabilise those seen as undesirable oppressive leaders — yes, the emphasis falls on personal attacks and name-calling — and to create revolutionary conditions for fifth- column- already- in- the- gates subversion and/or overthrow of the regime in power.  So, when such radicals attain power, they have never learned respect for others as made in God’s image, nor the roads of responsible, rational, genuinely objective analysis and reform by reasonable agreement. Consequently, communities and institutions under their domineering misrule tend to marches of folly, to attack and abuse or even murder dissenters, and ironically become just what they portray and project others to be in their base and superstructure analysis.

Yes, self-referential moral incoherence (cf. here) by way of being a mirror image of what such ideologues project unto others in order to supplant them.

Resemblance to the current course of our civilisation is NOT coincidental.

So, let us pose by contrast a much less loaded (while a lot is always wrong, much can be right also), seven mountains of influence perspective as a means of thinking through a more balanced approach to change:


Then also, let us look at [and link on] a model for law, government and leadership that draws out the inherent instability and desirability of a generally democratic, constitution based framework for governance:

U/d b for clarity, nb Nil

. . . duly noting the need for stabilisation in democratic polities.

So, now, let us discuss these factors here at UD in the aftermath of a death that is bound to trigger a global discussion, and one that will turn in key part on the tendency of progressives to claim scientific legitimacy, imply intellectual superiority and insinuate that those who differ are morally illegitimate. Not only, on the onward path of government in general, but relating to governance of science issues tied to the design controversy and other similarly ideologically freighted studies and controversies such as climate debates.

In so doing, let us also take due note of the foundational issue of worldviews (with their roots and their expression in ideologies)  and thus the cultural agendas they lend legitimacy to, with an eye to the significance of first principles of right reason as protective restraints on and guidelines for our thinking. END

JAD, with a cost in lives north of 100 millions per counts of democides. KF kairosfocus
Truth Will Set You Free, Yes, but it is hypocrisy that the secular progressive left doesn’t see and won’t admit. They are too blinded by their own conceit and self-importance. Unfortunately, it only demonstrates the complete moral bankruptcy of a world view that is based on naturalistic or materialistic presuppositions. john_a_designer
John @ 86: "Why the outrage over waterboarding terrorists, which was done very sparingly under Bush (2001-2009), while whitewashing the record of a brutal dictator who imprisoned, tortured and executed thousands of political opponents?" Because they are hypocritical Marxists. Truth Will Set You Free
Last week on another thread I wrote:
“One of the things that the mainstream media has started obsessing about again is waterboarding, because during the presidential campaign Donald Trump said he wasn’t opposed to using it in the fight against Islamic terrorism…”
https://uncommondescent.com/free-speech/the-post-brexit-post-trump-etc-populism-canard/#comment-620997 They’re still obsessing about it.
Where does Donald Trump stand on the use of torture by US security agencies? During the presidential election campaign he notoriously recommended a return to waterboarding, the repeated near-drowning of detainees that was banned by President Obama in 2009. But last week The New York Times reported that in an interview with its senior staff, he said that he had changed his mind after talking with retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, who is a leading candidate to be the next secretary of defence. Trump quoted Gen Mattis as saying that “I’ve never found it [waterboarding] to be useful”. He had found it more advantageous to gain the cooperation of terrorist suspects by other means… Trump’s remarks were taken by The New York Times as a sign that the President-elect had changed his mind about waterboarding. Unfortunately, the full transcript of his talk, as pointed out by Fred Kaplan in Slate, shows exactly the opposite. Trump did indeed say that he was surprised by what Mattis said… but the President-elect went on to explain that “I’m not saying it changed my mind about torture”.
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-waterboarding-new-york-times-still-in-favour-a7438976.html Now juxtapose that with the coverage of the death of Fidel Castro, who had an absolutely dismal record when it came to human rights. Does anyone else here see the glaring disconnect? Why the outrage over waterboarding terrorists, which was done very sparingly under Bush (2001-2009), while whitewashing the record of a brutal dictator who imprisoned, tortured and executed thousands of political opponents? john_a_designer
PS: In light of the above, read what we may see at Yahoo News this morning:
Havana (AFP) - In hundreds of schools, hospitals and public buildings, Cubans signed a "solemn oath" on Monday to defend the revolution following the death of communist leader Fidel Castro. Instead of leaving messages in books of condolence, Cubans were invited to endorse the "concept of the revolution" defined by Castro in a speech in 2000, six years before illness forced him to hand power to his brother, Raul. "We will keep fighting for these ideas. We swear!" says the oath to which Cubans signed their names, three days after Castro died at age 90. "The signature shows the desire of Cubans to make this socialist revolution irreversible," said retired lieutenant colonel Rigoberto Cerolio, 80, at a school in Havana.
Oh, the echoes of go to your friendly local altar and prove your loyalty by swearing "Kaiser Kurion," Caesar is Lord. For which many early Christians met their deaths for refusing to confess to such blasphemy. And, of this:
Rev 13:11 Then I saw [f]another beast rising up out of the earth; he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke like a dragon. 12 He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence [when the two are together]. And he makes the earth and those who inhabit it worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed . . . . 15 And he is given power to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast will even [appear to] speak, and cause those who do not bow down and worship the image of the beast to be put to death. 16 Also he compels all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead [signifying allegiance to the beast], 17 and that no one will be able to buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let the person who has enough insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the [imperfect] number of a man; [g]and his number is [h]six hundred and sixty-six. [--> That is, the name-number of Nero, redivivus] [Amp]
Do we not see what is going on? (All I can say to the oppressed people of Cuba, is that an oath extorted under implicit threat is of utterly no validity, all the exercise does is to try to twist your sense of honour into service to wickedness. [Read Havel's The Power of the Powerless, starting with the Greengrocer forced to put up a meaningless propaganda slogan.] If you are compelled to such words under threat of starvation of your family or the like, the only real effect of the words is to expose the demonic monstrosity at work. If you feel God has called you to defiance, that is one thing. Do not despise those who feel compelled to a meaningless show in defence of the survival of their families, especially helpless children. This is not the Mark of the Beast, only a cynically wicked, demonically inspired dry run for it. Never mind, that this will then be propagandistically projected as if it were a valid referendum, it obviously is not; it is a mockery of democracy. And, if the leaders of the Caribbean and wider world refuse to denounce this wickedness, they stand -- in too many cases, further -- exposed as enablers of wickedness.) kairosfocus
F/N: National Review has a telling summary from the story of Cuban Prisoner of conscience, Valladares, which should be put alongside any assessment of the various responses of world leaders -- including a clear, rising anti-Christian bigotry. This is utterly devastating, devastating because it is the obvious truth, spoken by a Confessor of the Faith:
Armando Valladares may not have been the first man to challenge the Cuban dictator, but he eventually became the best known. By his own account, the young Valladares was an early supporter of Castro’s revolution, taking a job in the Office of the Ministry of Communications for the Revolutionary Government, where he worked as a postal clerk. But all of that changed when he was asked to put a communist slogan on his desk. It comprised three simple words: “I’m with Fidel.” He refused. A young artist and poet who also happened to be a Christian, Valladares understood the meaning of the request. What he did not know, and could not know, was how far his own government would go to bend him to its will. Soon after his refusal to comply, Valladares was arrested by political police at his parents’ home. Faced with trumped up charges of terrorism — a favorite tactic of the Castro regime for silencing dissent — he was given a 30-year sentence. Valladares would spend time in different prison camps for the next 22 years. The first, La Cabanya [I have transliterated the tilde], forged some of the very worst memories. “Each night, the firing squad executed scores of men in its trenches,” he told the Becket Fund, which last year honored him with its Canterbury Prize, given annually to a person who embodies an unfailing commitment to religious freedom. “We could hear each phase of the executions, and during this time, these young men — patriots — would die shouting ‘Long live Christ, the King. Down with Communism!’ And then you would hear the gunshots. Every night there were shootings. Every night. Every night. Every night.” Years passed, and the communists fixated on enrolling prisoners in reeducation programs. Valladares, still early in his sentence, was offered the chance at “political rehabilitation” but refused to comply. He was sent to an even more brutal prison, and the government ramped up its efforts to break his spirit. Armando Valladares may not have been the first man to challenge the Cuban dictator, but he eventually became the best known. “I spent eight years locked in a blackout cell, without sunlight or even artificial light. I never left. I was stuck in a cell, ten feet long, four feet wide, with a hole in the corner to take care of my bodily needs. No running water. Naked. Eight years,” Valladares recalled. “All of the torture, all of the violations of human rights, had one goal: break the prisoner’s resistance and make them accept political rehabilitation. That was their only objective.” After nearly a decade, prison officials adjusted their terms. If Armando would simply sign a document renouncing his beliefs and embracing Communism, he could return to his family. The choice was simple: physical freedom or spiritual liberty. “For many people, it wasn’t practical to resist. Better to sign the paper and leave,” Valladares said. “But for me, signing that paper would have been spiritual suicide.” So how did Valladares do it? How did his faith and spirit endure during those years alone in prison?
“In the beginning, I embraced God perhaps for fear of losing my life, since I was in danger of being executed,” he told the National Association of Evangelicals in 1983. But hearing those men proclaim their love for Christ just prior to their executions moved him in ways he could not have imagined: I realized then that Christ could be of help. Not merely by saving my life, but also giving my life, and my death if that was the case, an ethical sense that would dignify them. I believe that it was at that particular moment, and not before, when Christianity, besides being a religious faith, became a way of life that in my own circumstances resulted in resistance — resisting torture, resisting confinement, resisting hunger, and even resisting the constant temptation to join the political rehabilitation and indoctrination programs that would end my predicament.
The battle lines were drawn for Valladares: the material life versus the spiritual life. Castro and his earthly ambitions of a utopian dictatorship versus Christ and His promise of everlasting life for those who follow Him. Castro fought hard, desperate to strip Valladares of his most valuable possession: his sense of morality. But once again, his faith proved up to the task. “To be Christian under those circumstances meant that I could not hate my tormentors; it meant to maintain the belief the suffering was meaningful because if man gives up his moral and religious values, or if he allows himself to be carried by a desire to hate or for revenge, his existence loses all meaning,” he explained. Valladares noted often that he was not alone in his spiritual battle with Castro. His fellow Christians showed him the way:
I saw dozens of Christians suffering and dying — committed, like myself, to maintaining their dignity and their richness of spirit beyond misery and pain. I remember with emotion Gerardo Gonzalez, a Protestant preacher, who knew by heart whole Biblical passages and who would copy them by hand to share with his brothers in belief. I cannot forget this man whom all of us called “Brother in Faith.” He interposed himself before a burst of machine-gun fire to save other prisoners who were beaten in what is known now as the Massacre of Boniato Prison. Gerardo repeated, before dying, the words said by Christ on the cross: “Forgive them, Father for they know not what they do.” And all of us, when the blood had dried, struggled with our consciences to attain something so difficult yet so beautiful: the ability to forgive our enemies.
Valladares’s God, too, showed him the way and the light. “There are no impossibilities for those who love and seek God,” he said. “The more ferocious the hate of my jailers, the more my heart would fill with love and a faith that gave me strength to support everything; but not with the conformist or masochistic attitude; rather, full of joy, internal peace and freedom because Christ walked with me in my cell.” While in prison, Valladares began to write poetry denouncing his oppressors. Without paper or pen, he wrote on cigarette papers and onion skins, using his blood as ink. His wife, whom he met in prison, smuggled the poems to the outside world and they became his first book, From My Wheelchair, released in 1977 . . . . Today, Valladares paints rather than writing poems. His pictures are not scenes of torture and darkness, but vibrant landscapes that depict his soul — the refuge where he survived Castro’s war on his body and his conscience. But in his speech last year to the Becket Fund, he stressed that his experience had taught him the need for vigilance in defense of freedom:
Just as there is a very short distance between the U.S. and Cuba, there is a very short distance between a democracy and a dictatorship where the government gets to decide what to do, how to think, and how to live. And sometimes your freedom is not taken away at gunpoint but instead it is done one piece of paper at a time, one seemingly meaningless rule at a time, one small silencing at a time. Never allow the government — or anyone else — to tell you what you can or cannot believe or what you can and cannot say or what your conscience tells you to have to do or not do.
Castro is dead, and there will be countless biographies dedicated to burnishing his legacy. But the best way to understand his life is to appreciate the life of one Cuban dissident he changed forever. Armando Valladares’s story may never be required reading in Cuban schools, but it needs to be read in every American school.
There is abundant evidence that allows us to weigh our generation in the balances. Unsurprisingly, all too many -- including many political, academic and opinion leaders here in the Caribbean and beyond -- are found sadly, utterly, tellingly, damningly wanting. This is indeed, un momento de verdad. Kairos. I say with the thousands of Christian Martyrs of Cuba: Viva, Christo El Rey! And, in that light, I call for repentance and reformation. Valladares, a brave witness who paid a terrible price to reveal the truth a full thirty and more years ago now, has spoken. What, then, will we do with the truth? What does this tell us about the state of our souls and of our civilisation? KF kairosfocus
D, your comparison above is key to understanding the difference between market and centralised economies, and it is to be further noted, that S Korea was the agricultural part of the former colony of Japan, the industrialised belt was in the North. The case is also a case of the success of IMF interventions in a case where there was sufficiently good leadership that sound development obviously took root. It will be instructive to see how the usual commenters take up the issue implied, processor architecture in economic planning, and the implications of markets as feedback mechanisms that indicate relative values of options on the table. The arrogance of Government planners is on trial, here, and they by and large fail the test. Such provides a window into our own policy choices, and at deeper level, an insight into the significance of the Christian view of fallen man which your earlier clip from Solzhenitsyn highlights. The evolutionary materialists and their sub-party, the marxists (including the culture and identity politics, base vs superstructure variety), have a lot to answer for. KF kairosfocus
Folks, the Khrushchev letter to Castro is one of those windows into reality behind the scenes of the world of media shadow shows, so it would be interesting to see the points you pick up. For instance, as a starter or a few:
1: The nuclear triad deterrence strategy works with rational actors [K] but not with fundamentally irrational ones.
(F obviously imagined that a surprise strike would knock the US's retaliatory capacity out, K had to point out that this was not so. [Ask yourselves in that light, is Putin a rational actor? Are the Chinese leaders? Are the Mullahs of Iran? What does such imply about recent US foreign policy in the ME and globally, given that Iran is a nuke threshold power and No Korea has effectively passed that threshold over the past 20 - 25 years? Why, then, was the global geostrategic picture not a main driving force in the recent election in the leading maritime power in the world [Britain having retired post WW2], which -- like it or lump it -- faces the challenge of guarding global peace and the ocean's trade ways? Where does that point?])
2: F was obviously genocidal. 3: There is a material gap between public discussion and behind the scenes decisions by those in the know (and this letter is a window into that behind the scenes world). 4: Thus, quality of leadership to be trusted to make this sort of decision, the reasons for which cannot be disclosed, is critical in choosing national leadership. 5: BTW, this also extends to WW2, and I strongly suspect that there are material factors in that war (likely, tied to its nuclear threshold nature) that we will not definitively hear about until the 100 year disclosure limit is reached in 2045. 6: In assessing commentary on issues, we need to factor in ability to read the board and to infer to dynamics that are not open for full disclosure, including, reading from signalling behaviour, i.e. ability to discern likely behind the scenes factors that are not obvious. In this regard, 7: the moment posed by the death of Castro allows us to calibrate many prominent persons based on their response, i.e. this is "un momento de verdad," a moment of truth. 8:Therefore, those who forthrightly and fearlessly speak the hard but unwelcome truth about Mr Castro are to be noted, by contrast with those who fall over themselves in haste to praise him, and those whose studious silence is revealing. (The crouching, concealed lion is the one we most need to watch out for.) 9: Etc. (As in, your thoughts are welcome.)
I believe these matters are highly relevant to our own time, and to how we should respond to issues. It also points to the significance of attending closely to lessons from sufficiently old history that we can see the various behind the scenes factors clearly enough. 100 years in the past is the most credible operative threshold, and so currently the First World War is the zone in which insights will be emerging in the next decade or two. This includes, on the rise of global Communism to state power. (Though, the fall of the Soviet Union gave us a glimpse or two into things well within this threshold. That sort of event, collapse of a power, is one of the key exceptions to the 100 year rule.) KF kairosfocus
KF, and far beyond the Caribbean too: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/north-korea-in-3-days-of-mourning-for-great-comrade-castro/2016/11/28/20e16444-b5df-11e6-939c-91749443c5e5_story.html Korea stats: which data corresponds to North and which South? Let's see who can guess correctly. Area • Total 120,540 km2 (98th) 46,528 sq mi • Water (%) 4.87 Population • 2013 estimate 24,895,000 (48th) • 2011 census 24,052,231[2] • Density 198.3/km2 (63rd) 513.8/sq mi GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate • Total $40 billion[3] • Per capita $1,800[3] GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate • Total $15,4 billion[4] • Per capita $621[4] HDI (1995) Steady 0.766[5] high · 75th Area • Total 100,210 km2 38,691 sq mi • Water (%) 0.3 (301 km2 / 116 mi2) Population • 2016 estimate 50,801,405[4][5] (27th) • Density 507/km2 (23rd) 1,313.1/sq mi GDP (PPP) 2016 estimate • Total $1.929 trillion[6] (13th) • Per capita $37,948[6] (28th) GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate • Total $1.404 trillion[6] (11th) • Per capita $27,633[6] (27th) Gini (2013) 30.2[7] medium HDI (2014) Increase 0.898[8] very high · 17th Dionisio
Glowing tributes are rolling in across the Caribbean. kairosfocus
Dionisio @ 75 Yes, I fully agree. Well said. Silver Asiatic
KF: No problemo. daveS
KF @70: Interesting historical document. Thank you for posting it. Hopefully many people would read it and understand what it means even beyond the context it was written in. Dionisio
#56 error correction Where it reads:
the NHS described
it should read:
the NHS errors described
Had we remained in Eden none of those problems would have occurred. :) :) Dionisio
Silver Asiatic @72: For ID I was referring to (i) the scientific concept that stops short of identifying the Designer and (ii) the community of people who posit/support such a concept. Obviously, Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; and other biblical passages clearly identify the Designer, but that's beyond ID. The NT references leave no doubt that Christ did it. However, I agree with some fundamental scientific ID concepts, but I don't stop short of identifying the Designer, hence I can't count myself among the ID proponents. Perhaps Jews, Muslims, JWs, Mormons, Unitarians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, Masons, etc. even agnostics, can find ID concepts attractive too, though at different degrees. Creation is the general revelation of God to all. The Christian scriptures are God's special revelation. Most non-atheists accept the former. Christians accept the latter too. That’s why associating ID with a particular theological viewpoint or religious belief is highly questionable. Is this clear now? What's hour take on this? Dionisio
DS, pardon if I misread your remark, but it looked to me close to toleration. I suggest, the tolerance and enabling of wickedness and folly speak for themselves, and not commendably. the matter on the table here is an accusation of treason, and from the utter failure to substantiate when challenged, we can infer on no serious grounds. That speaks for itself. As for corrupt and wicked, I think on the whole this generation across the world has become the most blood guilty and conscience-benumbed on record, going along by and large with the worst, in-progress holocaust in history -- mounting up at about 1 million per week if we take the figures from Guttmacher and UN as a yardstick. (IIRC, Auschwitz "only" killed 2 - 3 millions total; we are clearly doing that much per MONTH.) Posterity will call us accursed, for cause. My hope is, that enough of us will wake up to reform from our wickedness before it is too late. KF kairosfocus
Further to this, someone above tried to excuse such outrageous misbehaviour as “rhetoric” made acceptable by being commonplace in an American context. All s/he shows, instead, is that the American public has become corrupt and wicked and/or is enabling of such corruption and wickedness.
I'm not sure if you are referring to my post #30 above, so if you aren't, then please ignore the following. If you are, then I absolutely did not try to "excuse" such misbehavior; in fact, I did quite the opposite. I'm not going to say that the American public has become corrupt and wicked, but we apparently have become too tolerant of some of the more outrageous attacks on our public officeholders. daveS
That’s why associating ID with a particular theological viewpoint or religious belief is a sign of either deep ignorance or unclean intentions.
Philosopher, Edward Feser, argues that ID is actually a product of a specific theological viewpoint. I've always argued against that, but at times I think he might be correct. It depends on what we mean by ID and where we actually find "the real ID". It's interesting. Silver Asiatic
KF, FYI RE: comment @55 - my references to 'referendum' were intended to slightly soften my 'screen out' suggestion, in response to DK@53, which itself seemed a little 'trollish' too. Maybe it wasn't. I understand the moderator is responsible for ensuring the discussion develops harmoniously, hence trolls, offensive comments or comments that violate the 'non-profit' status of the blog should be filtered out ASAP. If at any moment a moderator considers my comment inappropriate, it must be taken out immediately and I have nothing to say about it. This is not my blog, but someone else's. It's obvious that this site allows a wide variety of opinions from folks with very different worldview positions. That's good. Even the ID community is far from homogeneous philosophically and theologically speaking. Sometimes I may have referred to it as an eintopf on steroids. :) That's why associating ID with a particular theological viewpoint or religious belief is a sign of either deep ignorance or unclean intentions. Dionisio
F/N: H/T PL, Khrushchev's rebuke to Castro in the aftermath of the Missile Crisis:
Letter from Nikita Khrushchev to Fidel Castro October 30, 1962 Dear Comrade Fidel Castro: We have received your letter of October 28, along with the reports of the conversations that you and President Dorticos had with our ambassador. We understand your situation and are taking into account your difficulties in this first stage following the elimination of the maximum tension that resulted from the threat of an attack by American imperialists which you expected at any moment. We understand that for you certain difficulties may have emerged as a consequence of the promises we made to the United States to withdraw the missile bases from Cuba in exchange for their promise to abandon their plans to invade Cuba and to prevent their allies in the Western hemisphere from doing so, to end their so-called "quarantine" -- their blockade of Cuba. This commitment has led to an end to the conflict in the Caribbean, a conflict which implied, as you can well understand, a superpower confrontation and its transformation into a world war where the missiles and thermonuclear weapons would have been used. According to our ambassador, certain Cubans feel that the Cuban people would prefer a different kind of statement, one that would not deal with the withdrawal of the missiles. It is possible that such feelings exist among the people. But we, politicians and heads of state, are the people's leaders and the people do not know everything. This is why we must march at the head of the people. Then they will follow and respect us. If, by giving in to popular sentiment, we had allowed ourselves to be swept up by the more inflamed sectors of the populace, and if we had refused to reach a reasonable agreement with the government of the USA, war would have probably broken out, resulting in millions of deaths. Those who survived would have blamed the leaders for not having taken the measures that would have avoided this war of extermination. The prevention of war and of an attack on Cuba did not depend only on the measures taken by our governments, but also on the analysis and examination of the enemy's actions near your territory. In short, the situation had to be considered as a whole. Some people say that we did not consult sufficiently with each other before taking the decision of which you know. In fact, we consider that consultations did take place, dear Comrade Fidel Castro, since we received your cables, one more alarming than the other, and finally your cable of October 27 where you said that you were almost certain that an attack against Cuba was imminent. According to you it was only a matter of time: 24 or 72 hours. Having received this very alarming cable from you, and knowing of your courage, we believed the alert to be totally justified. Wasn't that consultation on your part? We interpreted that cable as a sign of maximum alert. But if we had carried on with our consultations in such conditions, knowing that the bellicose and unbridled militarists of the United States wanted to seize the occasion to attack Cuba, we would have been wasting our time and the strike could have taken place. We think that the presence of our strategic missiles in Cuba has polarized the attention of the imperialists. They were afraid that they would be used, which is why they risked wanting to eliminate them, either by bombing them or by invading Cuba. And we must recognize that they had the capability to put them out of action. This is why, I repeat, your sense of alarm was totally justified. In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy's territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a thermonuclear world war. Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I find your proposal to be wrong, even though I understand your reasons. We have lived through a very grave moment, a global thermonuclear war could have broken out. Of course the United States would have suffered enormous losses, but the Soviet Union and the whole socialist bloc would have also suffered greatly. It is even difficult to say how things would have ended for the Cuban people. First of all, Cuba would have burned in the fires of war. Without a doubt the Cuban people would have fought courageously but, also without a doubt, the Cuban people would have perished heroically. We struggle against imperialism, not in order to die, but to draw on all of our potential, to lose as little as possible, and later to win more, so as to be a victor and make communism triumph. The measures which we have adopted have allowed us to reach the goal which we had sat when we decided to send the missiles to Cuba. We have extracted from the United States the commitment riot to invade Cuba and not to allow their Latin-American allies to do so. We have accomplished all of this without a nuclear war. We believe that we must take advantage of all the possibilities to defend Cuba, to strengthen its independence and sovereignty, to thwart military aggression, and to prevent a global thermonuclear war in the present stage. And we have succeeded. Of course we have made concessions, we have made certain commitments. We have acted on the principle of reciprocal concessions. The United States has also made concessions, it has committed itself publicly, before the whole world, not to attack Cuba. Therefore, if we compare a U.S. attack and thermonuclear war on the one hand, and on the other hand the commitments made, the reciprocal concessions, the guarantee of the inviolability of the Republic of Cuba, and the prevention of a world war, then I think that the conclusion is clear. Naturally, in the defense of Cuba and of other socialist countries we cannot trust the promise of the U.S. (not to invade Cuba). We have taken, and will continue to take, every measure to strengthen our defenses and to accumulate the forces necessary to carry out a counter-strike. At this time, with the weapons we have given Cuba, it is able to defend itself more than ever. Even after the dismantling of the missile sites you will have weaponry sufficiently powerful to push back the enemy on land, sea, and air near your territory. Furthermore, as you will recall, we stated in our message to the president of the United States on October 28 that: "we wish at the same time to assure the Cuban people that we are at its side and that we will not abandon our responsibility to help the Cuban people." It is clear to everyone that this is a very serious warning which we are addressing to the enemy. You stated in the meetings that one cannot trust the U.S. Of course you are right. Your statements on the conditions for negotiations with the United States are equally correct. Having shot down a U.S. aircraft over Cuban territory was in the end a useful act because it ended without complications. It is a lesson for the imperialists. Of course our enemies will interpret the events in their own way. The Cuban counter-revolution will also attempt to rear its head. But we-believe that you have total control over the internal enemy without our help. The most important thing which we have achieved is to stop, for the time being, an attack by external enemies. We consider that the aggressor has suffered a defeat. He was preparing to attack Cuba, but we stopped him and have forced him to pledge to the world that he will not do so at this time. We believe that this is a great victory. Of course, the imperialists will not stop fighting against communism. But we also have our plans and we will make our decisions. This process of struggle will last for as long as there exists on this earth two sociopolitical systems, until one of the systems, and we know that it will be our communist system, triumphs world-wide. Comrade Fidel Castro, we have decided to send you this answer as quickly as possible. We will conduct a more detailed analysis of what took place in a letter which we will soon send you. In that letter we will make a more in depth analysis of the situation and will give you our opinion on the results of the settlement of the crisis. At this time, the negotiations on a settlement are beginning and we ask you to communicate your position to us. We, for our part, will keep you informed on the progress of the negotiations and make the necessary consultations. Comrade Fidel Castro, we wish you all possible success, and I am sure that you will achieve it. There are still machinations against you. But with you, we intend to take all the steps to thwart them and to contribute to the strengthening and development of the Cuban Revolution. Nikita Krushchev
Please bear this in mind as you see the one-sided news and commentary. KF kairosfocus
KF, Let me make another 'off topic' comment as follow-up to 67. Note that I wrote @67:
[...] recently the famous Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards apparently said to the New York Post:
However, the quoted text that followed was copied from a New York Post online page. Then why did I write 'apparently said' instead of just 'said'? Well, because I don't know with certainty if Keith Richards really said that or it was just made up by the NYP journalist. But this time I did it intentionally in order to use it as an illustration for this follow-up comment. However, since in most cases we assume that it really happened, then we don't emphasize the 'uncertainty' factor in our comments. Otherwise we would have to say 'apparently' many times in our conversations and written discussions. Maybe the expression 'benefit of the doubt' applies here? I don't know. Dionisio
KF Agree with your insightful comments posted at 62-66. Thank you. Dionisio
KF, Here's a general 'off topic' comment posted in another thread, but perhaps it applies to the entire site:
Reading the comments posted by different folks here in this site one can see how opinions vary on every subject. But that may happen anywhere everywhere. For example, recently the famous Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards apparently said to the New York Post: “…all those bastards like Shakespeare ever did was to steal songs and ballads from minstrels [medieval folk singers in England]!” Different strokes for different folks. :)
Perhaps some of your 'idealistic' readers may find this surprisingly revealing? http://nypost.com/2016/11/27/inside-fidel-castros-life-of-luxury-and-ladies-while-country-starved/ Basically, what we see is not always what we get. Misinformation is all around. That's why we are told to test everything and hold what is good. Only. Words have contextual meaning, but relatively few people seem to care about finding it. Dionisio
Seversky, Do you see that you resorted to tag, polarise and dismiss tactics? The DM article is actually most interesting for the following discussion, by which the issues seep out around the edges. It is patent that junior doctors and presumably nurses are routinely over-worked and are making the errors of exhaustion; which is what DM correctly headlines but in my view does not sufficiently draw out and detail; I suspect, they intend to be provocative of a discussion. Some of course suspect "dem furriners" who cannot "speaka de Inglish rite." The evidence instead is economic: when price is removed as a means of rationing, other forms of rationing emerge: wait time, degradation of service quality through over-strain, and more. In short, the reality of scarcity will out, and with it realities of opportunity costs and trade-offs. Subsidised or "free" care is possible, but at a cost, and given the scale of the health sector in an economy, with much broader implications and precedents. My own view (for what it's worth) is that we need a sliding scale of coverage: social care [and BTW we need to emphasise public health and prevention], affordable subsidised care, catastrophic care access, insurance markets in some blend. BTW, I hold myself as living on borrowed time and essentially uninsurable given that by rights I should long since be dead; that I am alive is by patently miraculous answer to prayer. I also wonder whether we need to reframe medicine, opening up a much broader category comparable to the nurse practitioner. In any case, back on focal topic, it is clear that no-one can gainsay the point that the vaunted claims of health care advances are justified on the ground for the degree of care accessible to the ordinary Cuban, much less that such provides mitigation for a stringent evaluation of Mr Castro's seizure of power and half century plus of rule as Dictator and sponsor of his brother as successor. Beyond, Communism and its linked notions and ideological weapons of mass subversion, patently fail the test of responsible, rational freedom and moral governance. Solzhenitsyn's summary should be substantially acknowledged by all, HT Dionisio . . . who, from previous remarks, grew up in the shadow of Communism. KF kairosfocus
D, I would suggest that at the end of WW2, the W was exhausted and the public unwilling to tolerate further rivers of blood. Then, all too soon, thanks to atom bomb spies, Stalin had the bomb. (The first genuine Soviet innovation was Sakharov's spherical H bomb design --- as opposed to the American cylindrical design. And of course, all of this hangs the albatross of shame around the collective necks of my core professional community, Physics. We have a particular duty to guard civilisation from the horrors we have wrought.) Containment and gradual solution by whatever worked out was the only feasible option. It took a generation -- and many in the West were arguing for de facto surrender, more than once nearly attaining power to effect just that. It is by no means certain that the strong stance of the 1980's would inevitably have occurred. We all owe a debt of honour to Pope John Paul II, the Great; to Mrs Margaret Thatcher; and, to Mr Ronald Reagan -- thus, to the voters of the UK and the USA -- that many will never ever properly acknowledge. KF kairosfocus
D, there are duties of care that rise beyond, oh moderate and put in a waiting-line for a vote. A false and unwarranted accusation of treason most foul, a capital crime, is well beyond the pale of responsible discussion. those who resort to such discredit themselves and have no claim on others that they host or propagate or enable such behaviour. The fact that AK is suddenly missing in action speaks volumes, that he most likely cannot substantiate his accusations with evidence that would impeach and put on trial for life. Further to this, someone above tried to excuse such outrageous misbehaviour as "rhetoric" made acceptable by being commonplace in an American context. All s/he shows, instead, is that the American public has become corrupt and wicked and/or is enabling of such corruption and wickedness. No wonder they have reached where this past election reveals their nation to be in no uncertain terms, by ending up in such a choice of the lesser of evils. Gresham's law that bad money drives out good from circulation seems to extend to politics in a community that becomes increasingly tolerant of abusive and irresponsible, slanderous behaviour. I laid out the clear alternatives: substantiate, or apologise, or else -- as an exposed troll -- leave this thread or any other one that I own; which is where my authority/moderation power holds. KF kairosfocus
F/N: RVB8, you have some accounting to do on your vaunted dismissal of the facts on the embedding of text in the core of cell based life, where you exhibited gross ignorance. We are still monitoring that thread. KF kairosfocus
RVB8, Perhaps it has not dawned on you that Marx and those who followed him offered the base-superstructure, naked force and ideology analysis as a means to delegitimise all authority before they came along, creating the perception that authority and structures of influence and leadership are all conditioned -- thus, relativised and discredited as at best "ideologies" -- by power relations keyed to economics of production and linked technologies [the materialistic base]. This "justified" the movements of subversion and revolution, formerly mostly class-based, latterly often being motivated by manipulation of cultural/racial and social or sexual identity. The predictable result is agitation and subversion, multiplied by seizure of power by ruthless manipulators and conscience-benumbed angry agitators leading dupes and intimidating others into enabling behaviour, leading to imposition of a new tyranny by the latest form of the nomenklatura, with the KGB, DGI and Committees for the Defence of the Revolution [every neighbourhood I saw in Cuba had signs up by said CDRs . . . a not so subtle hint that potentially destructive eyes were watching you]; or Red Guards or even Young Pioneers or whatever enforcement arms are convenient. In short, George Orwell was precisely right in his closing scene from Animal Farm: As the animals looked form man to pig and from pig to man, they realised what had happened. Already, there was no difference. Perhaps, you have not actually seen where marxist agitation leads at institutional or national level, I have and it is not good; a lesson my extended family has paid a price in blood for. As for health care systems, I suggest to you that the first issue is socialisation of large sectors of the economy and that such raises exactly the concerns I have noted. I note too that the all too commonly seen practice of strawman caricature and linked demonisation of ideas and people who raise relevant questions or challenges, should be moderated. There are no solutions to the health care problems and challenges that do not face the core challenge of economics, choice amidst scarcity, leading to one form or another of rationing. In this case the practical alternatives seem to be some sort of pattern of insurance markets and/or state-backed centralisation. Neither solution, nor any mixed solution, is free of severe problems. State-backed solutions have the further import of opening door to political domination of the economy and of lives by the state, which must be guarderd against, strictly limited and controlled. Further to all this, this generation is the most en-darkened, conscience-benumbed, blood guilty one in all history, so a wise person would first call for reform of the situation where law, government, media, education, public opinion and professions sworn to protect life have been systematically warped, corrupted and rendered blood guilty by what was done to enable the ongoing holocaust of 800+ million unborn killed in the womb in 40-odd years, mounting up at a million a week. This is a red flag issue, and a test of any proposal or policy or scheme. Where, as a rule, the boasted of socialised or nationalised, taxpayer-funded schemes around the world are clearly implicated in this holocaust. (How else could it amount to these levels?) This is already a strong reason to hold that such schemes are too often of the character of a baited fish-hook: 99% good fish food, but the barbed point is what counts. If I do not see a good answer to the problem of the holocaust of the unborn in any socialised medical scheme, it is patently devilish, murderous and destructive, period. Further to this, such a warped, wicked, murderous system will feed an agenda of destructive control and subversion precisely along the lines outlined in the OP and above, i.e. it is tainted with destructive activism that traces directly or indirectly to Marx. in this case it will also corrupt the professions sworn to uphold and defend life, tainting their practitioners with blood guilt. Practitioners of law, government, administration and politics, sworn to justice, will be tainted with enabling evil and enacting or enforcing unjust decrees under false colour of law and justice. Practitioners in education and the media, sworn to truth, will be tainted by enabling blood guilt. And so forth. Instead, we need a different approach, one that respects legitimate authority and core moral concerns, anchored in our inherent dignity as being made in the image of God, granted the gift of responsible rational freedom under moral government guided by that candle within, conscience. In such a context, rights have a reasonable meaning, being expressions of our inherent dignity and the premise then is, if I have a right to life, liberty, innocent reputation, property [as in, theft implies legitimacy of property and that fraud or force can be used to illegitimately seize what belongs to another . . . including by the state], etc it is because you owe me a duty of care in these regards. Therefore, I can only properly claim a right if I am manifestly in the right. This instantly demolishes the agenda of claiming rights to murder our progeny in the womb. Murder, here, being in the core, natural law, moral sense: shedding of innocent blood. So, I would think, sir, that you have some rethinking to do. KF kairosfocus
rvb8 @58: [original]
Do you seriously wants to put up your private user/pay health care system up aganist ours? You’re either insane, self loathing, ignorent, or all three.
Do you seriously want to put up your private user/pay health care system up against ours? You’re either insane, self loathing, ignorant, or all three.
Are you addressing KF? Isn't KF a UK (not US) citizen? Better ask him first. Dionisio
Another sobering lecture by Alexander Solzhenitsyn on the second half of last century:
Commencement Address Delivered At Harvard University, June 8, 1978 Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn I am sincerely happy to be here with you on the occasion of the 327th commencement of this old and illustrious university. My congratulations and best wishes to all of today’s graduates. Harvard’s motto is “VERITAS.” Many of you have already found out and others will find out in the course of their lives that truth eludes us as soon as our concentration begins to flag, all the while leaving the illusion that we are continuing to pursue it. This is the source of much discord. Also, truth seldom is sweet; it is almost invariably bitter. A measure of truth is included in my speech today, but I offer it as a friend, not as an adversary. Three years ago in the United States I said certain things that were rejected and appeared unacceptable. Today, however, many people agree with what I said . . . The split in today’s world is perceptible even to a hasty glance. Any of our contemporaries readily identifies two world powers, each of them already capable of destroying each other. However, the understanding of the split too often is limited to this political conception: the illusion according to which danger may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations or by achieving a balance of armed forces. The truth is that the split is both more profound and more alienating, that the rifts are more numerous than one can see at first glance. These deep manifold splits bear the danger of equally manifold disaster for all of us, in accordance with the ancient truth that a kingdom — in this case, our Earth — divided against itself cannot stand. There is the concept of the Third World: thus, we already have three worlds. Undoubtedly, however, the number is even greater; we are just too far away to see. Every ancient and deeply rooted self-contained culture, especially if it is spread over a wide part of the earth’s surface, constitutes a self-contained world, full of riddles and surprises to Western thinking. As a minimum, we must include in this China, India, the Muslim world, and Africa, if indeed we accept the approximation of viewing the latter two as uniform. For one thousand years Russia belonged to such a category, although Western thinking systematically committed the mistake of denying its special character and therefore never understood it, just as today the West does not understand Russia in Communist captivity. And while it may be that in past years Japan has increasingly become, in effect, a Far West, drawing ever closer to Western ways (I am no judge here), Israel, I think, should not be reckoned as part of the West, if only because of the decisive circumstance that its state system is fundamentally linked to its religion. How short a time ago, relatively, the small world of modern Europe was easily seizing colonies all over the globe, not only without anticipating any real resistance, but usually with contempt for any possible values in the conquered people’s approach to life. It all seemed an overwhelming success, with no geographic limits. Western society expanded in a triumph of human independence and power. And all of a sudden the twentieth century brought the clear realization of this society’s fragility. We now see that the conquests proved to be short lived and precarious (and this, in turn, points to defects in the Western view of the world which led to these conquests). Relations with the former colonial world now have switched to the opposite extreme and the Western world often exhibits an excess of obsequiousness, but it is difficult yet to estimate the size of the bill which former colonial countries will present to the West and it is difficult to predict whether the surrender not only of its last colonies, but of everything it owns, will be sufficient for the West to clear this account. But the persisting blindness of superiority continues to hold the belief that all the vast regions of our planet should develop and mature to the level of contemporary Western systems, the best in theory and the most attractive in practice; that all those other worlds are but temporarily prevented (by wicked leaders or by severe crises or by their own barbarity and incomprehension) from pursuing Western pluralistic democracy and adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in that direction. But in fact such a conception is a fruit of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, a result of mistakenly measuring them all with a Western yardstick. The real picture of our planet’s development bears little resemblance to all this. The anguish of a divided world gave birth to the theory of convergence between the leading Western countries and the Soviet Union. It is a soothing theory which overlooks the fact that these worlds are not evolving toward each other and that neither one can be transformed into the other without violence. Besides, convergence inevitably means acceptance of the other side’s defects, too. and this can hardly suit anyone. If I were today addressing an audience in my country, in my examination of the overall pattern of the world’s rifts I would have concentrated on the calamities of the East. But since my forced exile in the West has now lasted four years and since my audience is a Western one, I think it may be of greater interest to concentrate on certain aspects of the contemporary West, such as I see them. A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society. There are many courageous individuals, but they have no determining influence on public life. Political and intellectual functionaries exhibit this depression, passivity, and perplexity in their actions and in their statements, and even more so in their self-serving rationales as to how realistic, reasonable, and intellectually and even morally justified it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice. And the decline in courage, at times attaining what could be termed a lack of manhood, is ironically emphasized by occasional outbursts and inflexibility on the part of those same functionaries when dealing with weak governments and with countries that lack support, or with doomed currents which clearly cannot offer resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists. Must one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the first symptom of the end? When the modern Western states were being formed, it was proclaimed as a principle that governments are meant to serve man and that man lives in order to be free and pursue happiness. (See, for example, the American Declaration of Independence.) Now at last during past decades technical and social progress has permitted the realization of such aspirations: the welfare state. Every citizen has been granted the desired freedom and material goods in such quantity and in such quality as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness, in the debased sense of the word which has come into being during those same decades. (In the process, however, one psychological detail has been overlooked: the constant desire to have still more things and a still better life and the struggle to this end imprint many Western faces with worry and even depression, though it is customary to carefully conceal such feelings. This active and tense competition comes to dominate all human thought and does not in the least open a way to free spiritual development.) The individual’s independence from many types of state pressure has been guaranteed; the majority of the people have been granted well-being to an extent their fathers and grandfathers could not even dream about; it has become possible to raise young people according to these ideals, preparing them for and summoning them toward physical bloom, happiness, and leisure, the possession of material goods, money, and leisure, toward an almost unlimited freedom in the choice of pleasures. So who should now renounce all this, why and for the sake of what should one risk one’s precious life in defense of the common good and particularly in the nebulous case when the security of one’s nation must be defended in an as yet distant land? Even biology tells us that a high degree of habitual well-being is not advantageous to a living organism. Today, well-being in the life of Western society has begun to take off its pernicious mask. Western society has chosen for itself the organization best suited to its purposes and one I might call legalistic. The limits of human rights and rightness are determined by a system of laws; such limits are very broad. People in the West have acquired considerable skill in using, interpreting, and manipulating law (though laws tend to be too complicated for an average person to understand without the help of an expert). Every conflict is solved according to the letter of the law and this is considered to be the ultimate solution. If one is risen from a legal point of view, nothing more is required, nobody may mention that one could still not be right, and urge self-restraint or a renunciation of these rights, call for sacrifice and selfless risk: this would simply sound absurd. Voluntary self-restraint is almost unheard of: everybody strives toward further expansion to the extreme limit of the legal frames. (An oil company is legally blameless when it buys up an invention of a new type of energy in order to prevent its use. A food product manufacturer is legally blameless when he poisons his produce to make it last longer: after all, people are free not to purchase it.) I have spent all my life under a Communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society based on the letter of the law and never reaching any higher fails to take full advantage of the full range of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relationships, this creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyzes man’s noblest impulses. And it will be simply impossible to bear up to the trials of this threatening century with nothing but the supports of a legalistic structure. Today’s Western society has revealed the inequality between the freedom for good deeds and the freedom for evil deeds. A statesman who wants to achieve something highly constructive for his country has to move cautiously and even timidly; thousands of hasty (and irresponsible) critics cling to him at all times; he is constantly rebuffed by parliament and the press. He has to prove that his every step is well founded and absolutely flawless. Indeed, an outstanding, truly great person who has unusual and unexpected initiatives in mind does not get any chance to assert himself; dozens of traps will be set for him from the beginning. Thus mediocrity triumphs under the guise of democratic restraints. It is feasible and easy everywhere to undermine administrative power and it has in fact been drastically weakened in all Western countries. The defense of individual rights has reached such extremes as to make society as a whole defenseless against certain individuals. It is time, in the West, to defend not so much human rights as human obligations. On the other hand, destructive and irresponsible freedom has been granted boundless space. Society has turned out to have scarce defense against the abyss of human decadence, for example against the misuse of liberty for moral violence against young people, such as motion pictures full of pornography, crime, and horror. This is all considered to be part of freedom and to be counterbalanced, in theory, by the young people’s right not to look and not to accept. Life organized legalistically has thus shown its inability to defend itself against the corrosion of evil. And what shall we say about the dark realms of overt criminality? Legal limits (especially in the United States) are broad enough to encourage not only individual freedom but also some misuse of such freedom. The culprit can go unpunished or obtain undeserved leniency — all with the support of thousands of defenders in the society. When a government earnestly undertakes to root out terrorism, public opinion immediately accuses it of violating the terrorist’s civil rights. There is quite a number of such cases. This tilt of freedom toward evil has come about gradually, but it evidently stems from a humanistic and benevolent concept according to which man — the master of the world — does not bear any evil within himself, and all the defects of life are caused by misguided social systems, which must therefore be corrected. Yet strangely enough, though the best social conditions have been achieved in the West, there still remains a great deal of crime; there even is considerably more of it than in the destitute and lawless Soviet society. (There is a multitude of prisoners in our camps who are termed criminals, but most of them never committed any crime; they merely tried to defend themselves against a lawless state by resorting to means outside the legal framework.) The press, too, of course, enjoys the widest freedom. (I shall be using the word “press” to include all the media.) But what use does it make of it? Here again, the overriding concern is not to infringe the letter of the law. There is no true moral responsibility for distortion or disproportion. What sort of responsibility does a journalist or a newspaper have to the readership or to history? If they have misled public opinion by inaccurate information or wrong conclusions, even if they have contributed to mistakes on a state level, do we know of any case of open regret voiced by the same journalist or the same newspaper? No; this would damage sales. A nation may be the worse for such a mistake, but the journalist always gets away with it. It is most likely that he will start writing the exact opposite to his previous statements with renewed aplomb. Because instant and credible information is required, it becomes necessary to resort to guesswork, rumors, and suppositions to fill in the voids, and none of them will ever be refuted; they settle into the readers’ memory. How many hasty, immature, superficial, and misleading judgments are expressed everyday, confusing readers, and then left hanging? The press can act the role of public opinion or miseducate it. Thus we may see terrorists heroized, or secret matters pertaining to the nation’s defense publicly revealed, or we may witness shameless intrusion into the privacy of well-known people according to the slogan “Everyone is entitled to know everything.” (But this is a false slogan of a false era; far greater in value is the forfeited right of people not to know, not to have their divine souls stuffed with gossip, nonsense, vain talk. A person who works and leads a meaningful life has no need for this excessive and burdening flow of information.) Hastiness and superficiality — these are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century and more than anywhere else this is manifested in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press; it is contrary to its nature. The press merely picks out sensational formulas. Such as it is, however, the press has become the greatest power within Western countries, exceeding that of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Yet one would like to ask: According to what law has it been elected and to whom is it responsible? In the Communist East, a journalist is frankly appointed as a state official. But who has voted Western journalists into their positions of power, for how long a time, and with what prerogatives? There is yet another surprise for someone coming from the totalitarian East with its rigorously unified press: One discovers a common trend of preferences within the Western press as a whole (the spirit of the time), generally accepted patterns of judgment, and maybe common corporate interests, the sum effect being not competition but unification. Unrestrained freedom exists for the press, but not for readership, because newspapers mostly transmit in a forceful and emphatic way those opinions which do not too openly contradict their own and that general trend. Without any censorship in the West, fashionable trends of thought and ideas are fastidiously separated from those that are not fashionable, and the latter, without ever being forbidden have little chance of finding their way into periodicals or books or being heard in colleges. Your scholars are free in the legal sense, but they are hemmed in by the idols of the prevailing fad. There is no open violence, as in the East; however, a selection dictated by fashion and the need to accommodate mass standards frequently prevents the most independent-minded persons from contributing to public life and gives rise to dangerous herd instincts that block dangerous herd development. In America, I have received letters from highly intelligent persons — maybe a teacher in a faraway small college who could do much for the renewal and salvation of his country, but the country cannot hear him because the media will not provide him with a forum. This gives birth to strong mass prejudices, to a blindness which is perilous in our dynamic era. An example is the self-deluding interpretation of the state of affairs in the contemporary world that functions as a sort of petrified armor around people’s minds, to such a degree that human voices from seventeen countries of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia cannot pierce it. It will be broken only by the inexorable crowbar of events. I have mentioned a few traits of Western life which surprise and shock a new arrival to this world . The purpose and scope of this speech will not allow me to continue such a survey, in particular to look into the impact of these characteristics on important aspects of a nation’s life, such as elementary education, advanced education in the humanities, and art. It is almost universally recognized that the West shows all the world the way to successful economic development, even though in past years it has been sharply offset by chaotic inflation. However, many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it or accuse it of no longer being up to the level of maturity by mankind. And this causes many to sway toward socialism, which is a false and dangerous current. I hope that no one present will suspect me of expressing my partial criticism of the Western system in order to suggest socialism as an alternative. No; with the experience of a country where socialism has been realized, I shall not speak for such an alternative. The mathematician Igor Shafarevich, a member of the Soviet Academy of Science, has written a brilliantly argued book entitled Socialism; this is a penetrating historical analysis demonstrating that socialism of any type and shade leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and to a leveling of mankind into death. Shafarevich’s book was published in France almost two years ago and so far no one has been found to refute it. It will shortly be published in English in the U.S. But should I be asked, instead, whether I would propose the West, such as it is today, as a model to my country, I would frankly have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through deep suffering, people in our own country have now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive. Even those characteristics of your life which I have just enumerated are extremely saddening. A fact which cannot be disputed is the weakening of human personality in the West while in the East it has become firmer and stronger. Six decades for our people and three decades for the people of Eastern Europe; during that time we have been through a spiritual training far in advance of Western experience. The complex and deadly crush of life has produced stronger, deeper, and more interesting personalities than those generated by standardized Western well-being. Therefore, if our society were to be transformed into yours, it would mean an improvement in certain aspects, but also a change for the worse on some particularly significant points. Of course, a society cannot remain in an abyss of lawlessness, as is the case in our country. But it is also demeaning for it to stay on such a soulless and smooth plane of legalism, as is the case in yours. After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer, and purer than those offered by today’s mass living habits, introduced as by a calling card by the revolting invasion of commercial advertising, by TV stupor, and by intolerable music. All this is visible to numerous observers from all the worlds of our planet. The Western way of life is less and less likely to become the leading model. There are telltale symptoms by which history gives warning to a threatened or perishing society. Such are, for instance, a decline of the arts or a lack of great statesmen. Indeed, sometimes the warnings are quite explicit and concrete. The center of your democracy and of your culture is left without electric power for a few hours only, and all of a sudden crowds of American citizens start looting and creating havoc. The smooth surface film must be very thin, then, the social system quite unstable and unhealthy. But the fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have begun their decisive offensive. You can feel their pressure, yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about? How has this unfavorable relation of forces come about? How did the West decline from its triumphal march to its present debility? Have there been fatal turns and losses of direction in its development? It does not seem so. The West kept advancing steadily in accordance with its proclaimed social intentions, hand in hand with a dazzling progress in technology. And all of a sudden it found itself in its present state of weakness. This means that the mistake must be at the root, at the very foundation of thought in modern times. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world in modern times. I refer to the prevailing Western view of the world which was born in the Renaissance and has found political expression since the Age of Enlightenment. It became the basis for political and social doctrine and could be called rationalistic humanism or humanistic autonomy: the pro-claimed and practiced autonomy of man from any higher force above him. It could also be called anthropocentricity, with man seen as the center of all. The turn introduced by the Renaissance was probably inevitable historically: the Middle Ages had come to a natural end by exhaustion, having become an intolerable despotic repression of man’s physical nature in favor of the spiritual one. But then we recoiled from the spirit and embraced all that is material, excessively and incommensurately. The humanistic way of thinking, which had proclaimed itself our guide, did not admit the existence of intrinsic evil in man, nor did it see any task higher than the attainment of happiness on earth. It started modern Western civilization on the dangerous trend of worshiping man and his material needs. Everything beyond physical well-being and the accumulation of material goods, all other human requirements and characteristics of a subtle and higher nature, were left outside the area of attention of state and social systems, as if human life did not have any higher meaning. Thus gaps were left open for evil, and its drafts blow freely today. Mere freedom per se does not in the least solve all the problems of human life and even adds a number of new ones. And yet in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted on the ground that man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding one thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose, simply for the satisfaction of his whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were eroded everywhere in the West; a total emancipation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming ever more materialistic. The West has finally achieved the rights of man, and even excess, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society has grown dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistic selfishness of the Western approach to the world has reached its peak and the world has found itself in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the celebrated technological achievements of progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the twentieth century’s moral poverty, which no one could have imagined even as late as the nineteenth century. As humanism in its development was becoming more and more materialistic, it also increasingly allowed concepts to be used first by socialism and then by communism, so that Karl Marx was able to say, in 1844, that “communism is naturalized humanism.” This statement has proved to be not entirely unreasonable. One does not see the same stones in the foundations of an eroded humanism and of any type of socialism: boundless materialism; freedom from religion and religious responsibility (which under Communist regimes attains the stage of antireligious dictatorship); concentration on social structures with an allegedly scientific approach. (This last is typical of both the Age of Enlightenment and of Marxism.) It is no accident that all of communism’s rhetorical vows revolve around Man (with a capital M) and his earthly happiness. At first glance it seems an ugly parallel: common traits in the thinking and way of life of today’s West and today’s East? But such is the logic of materialistic development. The interrelationship is such, moreover, that the current of materialism which is farthest to the left, and is hence the most consistent, always proves to be stronger, more attractive, and victorious. Humanism which has lost its Christian heritage cannot prevail in this competition. Thus during the past centuries and especially in recent decades, as the process became more acute, the alignment of forces was as follows: Liberalism was inevitably pushed aside by radicalism, radicalism had to surrender to socialism, and socialism could not stand up to communism. The communist regime in the East could endure and grow due to the enthusiastic support from an enormous number of Western intellectuals who (feeling the kinship!) refused to see communism’s crimes, and when they no longer could do so, they tried to justify these crimes. The problem persists: In our Eastern countries, communism has suffered a complete ideological defeat; it is zero and less than zero. And yet Western intellectuals still look at it with considerable interest and empathy, and this is precisely what makes it so immensely difficult for the West to withstand the East. I am not examining the case of a disaster brought on by a world war and the changes which it would produce in society. But as long as we wake up every morning under a peaceful sun, we must lead an everyday life. Yet there is a disaster which is already very much with us. I am referring to the calamity of an autonomous, irreligious humanistic consciousness. It has made man the measure of all things on earth — imperfect man, who is never free of pride, self-interest, envy, vanity, and dozens of other defects. We are now paying for the mistakes which were not properly appraised at the beginning of the journey. On the way from the Renaissance to our days we have enriched our experience, but we have lost the concept of a Supreme Complete Entity which used to restrain our passions and our irresponsibility. We have placed too much hope in politics and social reforms, only to find out that we were being deprived of our most precious possession: our spiritual life. It is trampled by the party mob in the East, by the commercial one in the West. This is the essence of the crisis: the split in the world is less terrifying than the similarity of the disease afflicting its main sections. If, as claimed by humanism, man were born only to be happy, he would not be born to die. Since his body is doomed to death, his task on earth evidently must be more spiritual: not a total engrossment in everyday life, not the search for the best ways to obtain material goods and then their carefree consumption. It has to be the fulfillment of a permanent, earnest duty so that one’s life journey may become above all an experience of moral growth: to leave life a better human being than one started it. It is imperative to reappraise the scale of the usual human values; its present incorrectness is astounding. It is not possible that assessment of the President’s performance should be reduced to the question of how much money one makes or to the availability of gasoline. Only by the voluntary nurturing in ourselves of freely accepted and serene self-restraint can mankind rise above the world stream of materialism. Today it would be retrogressive to hold on to the ossified formulas of the Enlightenment. Such social dogmatism leaves us helpless before the trials of our times. Even if we are spared destruction by war, life will have to change in order not to perish on its own. We cannot avoid reassessing the fundamental definitions of human life and society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him? Is it right that man’s life and society’s activities should be ruled by material expansion above all? Is it permissible to promote such expansion to the detriment of our integral spiritual life? If the world has not approached its end, it has reached a major watershed in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will demand from us a spiritual blaze; we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life, where our physical nature will not be cursed, as in the Middle Ages, but even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon, as in the Modern Era. The ascension is similar to climbing onto the next anthropological stage. No one on earth has any other way left but — upward.
1 2

Leave a Reply