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Fidel Castro passes on

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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:

populism_bloomberg

(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:

euro_electionz_wave

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

Video announcement:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

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

dm_castro_summ

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

trump_castro_death

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:

 

base-and-superstructure-chart

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:

seven_mountains_culture_agenda

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

89 Replies to “Fidel Castro passes on

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Fidel Castro passes on, there is an agenda of issues we need to discuss not only relevant to ID in scientific institutions but also the wider onward path of our civilisation at a highly polarised time.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    jerry says:

    kairosfocus,

    I come to UD about once every two weeks now to see what people are saying and comment even less. I usually do not comment on your pieces because they are too long to read and very complicated. They are obviously very well thought out but it takes an effort to read all the details.

    Today I read most of the OP and congratulate you on the effort it took to put such a piece together. It lays out a lot of the issues of our times.

    I am sure there will be the usual nit picking of points here and there and the interesting thing is that belief in Darwinian evolutionary processes correlates highly with certain political behavior for those who comment here. Obviously not a perfect correlation but over times here I have seen that people end up in boxes that have similar views on a wide range of issues. I find this the most fascinating thing about ID and politics in general.

    As far as political behavior, I will pass on this observation. I sat through a long tribute of Emily Dickinson about a year ago. I said to my wife afterwards that she was a good poet but an air head on thinking. Her main claim to thinking was to take what was the common belief at the time and espouse the opposite. She showed little insight or thought in what she advocated. She primarily opposed. But because she could manipulate words in a delightful fashion, one gave her credit as a thinker which she did not deserve.

    If I comment on blogs at all anymore it is on economics and human behavior and not here. You have provided both insight and thought in this OP, something that is missing from many who write OP’s on current events around the internet. I will have to check out your links.

    I am sure the “usual suspects” will appear to criticize. They are good at criticism, the bane of our time. I believe that Critical Thinking is the real corruption of our times.

    PS – I would have added to Trump’t tweet, “Ding dong, the witch is dead!” Unfortunately there are too many witches to take his place. (I know witch is feminine but the meaning is clear.)

    PPS – I love the “marches of folly” comment given what has happened in the US in the last two weeks.

  4. 4
    George E. says:

    What a horrible month for the Democrats. First Hillary goes down in flames, and now this.

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    Great for Republicans, though. Pretty soon we’ll be back to the good old days when only the rich could afford decent health insurance and education.

  6. 6
    PaV says:

    Severesky:

    I had lunch a couple of months ago with a doctor who works at a health clinic. Obamacare was supposed to reduce their workload because everyone would have healthcare. She says the workload is the same.

    Can you explain that?

  7. 7
    mike1962 says:

    My health insurance went up 3X because of Obamacare.

    I’m not rich. I had to cancel it last month. I can’t afford it any more. No pre-existing conditions. Excellent health.

    Waiting to see how thing go under Trump before I try to get new insurance.

    Health care in Cuba stinks for the average person. I know people who live there. Good luck if you need major treatment.

    The love the Cuban people. I hope to God they get democracy and a free market soon.

  8. 8

    Sev,

    It was also the middle class who could afford healthcare. Now they can’t.

  9. 9

    KF,

    “SUTAINABLE CENTRE:
    Constitutionally Democratic, limited, lawful Gov’t & L/ship “requires “eternal vigilance” & a foundation of a literate public with a vigorous press)”

    While we have a literate public, so does Cuba. The capacity to digest propaganda does not seem to me to be congruent with “literate.” Furthermore, our American press is not vigorous enough to differentiate between propaganda and news. I think therein lies our downfall.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, one of my church sisters at one point was a doctor with a Grandmother living in Cuba — there are strong connexions between some Caribbean islands. She went to a conference, and needed a guide of some sort. The guide had what seems to have been a migraine, a bad one. Not even basic painkillers were accessible to ordinary people in the shops, things like acetaminophen or the like; things I routinely pick up in bottles of 100. Minor pain killers from her bag were most welcome and a blessed relief. A little later, I also spent a week there on the ground as part of a delegation, we drove coming on 1,000 miles on the ground to visit various facilities in connexion with a regional project. While I am very impressed with Cuban professionals, I cannot but observe how run down Cuba had become, and how obviously big Govt backed schemes often failed — a universal problem; and who paid the price when it failed. I will never forget the plight of the ordinary Cuban people, though I am not comfortable detailing, as I do not know who is watching and may add up two and two and harm people who are so obviously wonderful and needy. I saw team after team of oxen ploughing (first time in my life). I saw horse drawn makeshift “minibuses” in the provinces — put a 4′ x 8′ ply on top of an old axle or two, with two wheels each, set up planks and rebars, use old flour bags etc. for cover, don’t forget a drop cloth arrangement for the horse droppings; collect in bucket. Use a pony-sized horse to pull. (This seems to be an upgrade to what I saw: http://samisarkis.photoshelter.....bLZleu5BRw this is close: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cuban_transport.jpg ) Micro entrepreneurship, no doubt. I saw the people and their plight . . . and my heart goes out to them, I wish Cuba the very best. Once it is unshackled, it has the potential to be a super-Israel in the Caribbean; but it went from Batista and the Mafia to the Communists. A short time after we left, three young black Cuban men were shot at dawn at the citadel in Havana on the far side of the river, for trying to escape to Florida, hijacking a ferry to try to do so. After a period of somewhat opening, there was a clampdown; again. Don’t even try to pretend to talk to me about socialist paradises, I lived through Jamaica, I saw Cuba, I can read between the lines regarding Venezuela. Marxism failed for good reason, and when it comes to inherently complex vastly distributed time-sensitive systems to match often inarticulate needs to supplies, nothing beats the market. I have seen what bureaucrats do when they have power and even obvious common sense cases that are not welcome stand before them, so don’t try to tell me about the compassion of government. It is time for you to wake up to reality. KF

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    CY, a literate public is a necessary but not sufficient condition, likewise a vigorous and free press. A whole society has to move to a point where it accepts that core, bedrock principle based law established legitimate rights, and these control foundational law, then general law and regulations. Leadership has to come to that point, not just one or a few individuals, the culture and classes of leaders. The state has to come to a point of lawfulness and restraint, so that it is limited and fair-minded. A whole culture of governance has to be built up, and the first time that was feasible anywhere on earth was about 1700 in the North Atlantic. It is no accident this happened where the reformation had had impact for nearly 200 years, and that it is where modern representational democracy was born, rooted in Alfred’s Book of Dooms, Common law, Magna Carta and the 1689 Bill of rights, with strong influences from what some have called political Calvinism. We are discarding that heritage heedlessly, and will pay an awful price if we do not wake up real soon. KF

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry, Trump knew just where to cut the remark while making the point. KF

  13. 13

    KF

    “a literate public is a necessary but not sufficient condition, likewise a vigorous and free press.”

    Yes, that seems to be a given.

    But the current powers that be are content in reframing freedom of the press to mean freedom to manipulate facts into support for a particular political agenda. It’s no different than a dictator controlling the press.

    In fact, recent attempts to control the internet (currently the only truly free media available), by passing current American controls to an international body that does include dictators, seems like the logical next step in curbing free speech. Once that freedom is eliminated, the one world government by the globalists, seems much more attainable.

  14. 14
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    KF called Fidel Castro a

    “…widely respected statesman.”

    We are definitely on different wavelengths here. If this applies to Fidel Castro, we can say the same thing about Pol Pot.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    DfO, I simply reported a fact, he is a statesman by profession and praxis, and a widely . . . albeit in my view mistakenly in great parts [notice, my first reference: Communist Dictator, and the onward link has links that explore his death toll, likely 80 – 100+ thousand] . . . respected one. We must respond to that wide perception and feeling in how we deal with his passing. And he is in fact being widely mourned across the world. We have to understand and respond to such facts; even as the Pope, a person from Latin America, understands. I add, we should never wish for the ultimate shipwreck of any man’s soul. KF

    PS: By contrast, Pol Pot was not a widely respected figure, nor was he mourned across the world.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    CY, that undermining of the props for successful democratic self governance is real, is dangerous, and is in wide parts not being recognised for what it is. I notice for instance the attempts to label responsible sources as “fake news,” and many other schemes (doubtless, including us here at UD too). In part, that is why I have commented as above on Castro’s passing, as we see here a global media consensus that has been manipulated, and we see how the Marxist, cynically subversive analysis of community is feeding it by in effect glorifying rebellion and undermining all legitimate authority from family to school to workplace to law and government . . . revealing its inherently demonic nature. Alinsky’s dedication of his Rules for Radicals to the Devil is no joke, it is a clue. Notice, how I point out how the same analysis extends to successful radicals who seize power. Castro is in many regards case study number 1 just now. If, we are willing to learn. KF

  17. 17
    bb says:

    Dean_from_Ohio,

    There is a subtle difference between respected and respectable. As kf noted, many worldwide respect Castro, even though he wasn’t respectable by any means. Regarding the misinformed, or corrupt publicly mourning on camera….

    4 Those who forsake the law praise the wicked,
    But such as keep the law contend with them.

    5 Evil men do not understand justice,
    But those who seek the Lord understand all.

    -Proverbs 28, which is referring to God’s law in verse 4.

  18. 18
    Seversky says:

    PaV @ 6

    Severesky:

    I had lunch a couple of months ago with a doctor who works at a health clinic. Obamacare was supposed to reduce their workload because everyone would have healthcare. She says the workload is the same.

    Can you explain that?

    Actually, I would have expected the workload to increase, if anything. With the availability of cheap health insurance, people should have felt able to go and seek treatment from any health provider whereas, before, they would have avoided it as far as possible because of the cost.

  19. 19
    bb says:

    Sev,

    What cheap health insurance?

  20. 20
    Seversky says:

    mike1962 @ 7

    My health insurance went up 3X because of Obamacare.

    I’m not rich. I had to cancel it last month. I can’t afford it any more. No pre-existing conditions. Excellent health.

    CannuckianYankee @ 8

    Sev,

    It was also the middle class who could afford healthcare. Now they can’t

    Before the advent of Obamacare, around fifty million of your fellow Americans had no insurance at all. One study concluded around 100,000 Americans died every year from lack of any medical treatment. No one’s denying the Affordable Care Act has its issues but it was at least an attempt to address the problem, which was a lot more than Republicans had been able to do and they still have nothing better to put in its place.

    My mother lives in the UK and is in her nineties. She has received knee and hip replacements and surgery for cataracts. All free. My brother is in his sixties and also in the UK. He has just undergone surgery for colon cancer and is completing a course of chemotherapy. Again, he didn’t have to pay anything.

    Another thing: here in the US, one study found that around half of all personal bankruptcies involved medical bills. In the UK, no one goes bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills. So which system is better?

    There is no doubt the UK’s National Health Service faces serious problems but, honestly, when it comes to assuring adequate healthcare for you and your family which would you prefer?

    But suggest this to conservative Americans and they clutch their pearls, make the sign of the cross or hold up a crucifix and back off muttering about “Socialism!” And that’s all they seem to have to offer. It’s a disgrace.

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, The global death toll of socialism is north of 100 millions in the past century, and it has consistently been a massive economic failure. Even in Venezuela, sitting on a pool of oil. your mockery on raising crucifixes verges on gross disrespect including to God as well as to people, and you need to take a time out to reconsider your language and arguments. Good night. KF

  22. 22
    AhmedKiaan says:

    The united states just elected a man who is a puppet of the russians. Look at all the KGB intel that went into propaganda to get trump elected. Look at how he won’t release his taxes because he is deeply in hock to russians and chinese. I really fear what will happen. Thank god I will get to view it from a distance; I just hope mine isn’t the country he starts a war with as a distraction.

  23. 23
    john_a_designer says:

    Some comments from the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the passing of Fidel Castro:

    “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

    “While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

    “I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

    “On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”

    Here are a couple responses:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CyPKOSLUoAAUjYk.jpg:large

    And from twitter:

    Leslie Eastman ?@Mutnodjmet
    #trudeaueulogies: With this, Canadians have forfeited all rights to mock or deride President Trump.

    Are these from Canadians? Can they still criticize their Prime Minister? I am asking because he doesn’t seem to realize that is Cubans haven’t had that right since Castro came to power. It has been a while since I have visited Canada. Maybe the conditions there are now the same as they are in Cuba. Any Canadians here? Hopefully I won’t get you in trouble.

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    Folks,

    I think we need to focus attention on the need for and challenge of change tied to power in society, contrasting Marxist materialistic base-superstructure analysis and calls to radical subversion and revolution with say the seven mountains of influence type approach of godly reformation.

    This should then factor in implications for freedom, for rights, prone-ness to tyranny and abuse, and the issue of management of economies.

    Castro’s Cuba is a case in point, but it is one where many do not know or recognise the facts in any balanced context. But comparative analysies of similar cultures and countries on market/ centrally planned economies is decisive, and not in favour of overly centralised planning.

    I wish to suggest that there is a temptation to an arrogance of knowledge of the dynamics and illusion of being able to control that leads many to think that government and central planning and control offer superior solutions to the sort of perceived chaos and injustice of markets.

    The realities of trying to concentrate and centrally process so much time-sensitive, perishable, diffuse, uncertain, often inarticulate information and perceptions (including of relative values of alternatives) then poses a processor architecture problem. For, yes, the economy poses a planning problem that is in many regards tantamount to a processor architecture issue.

    Markets boil down to allowing the cluster of diffused individuals, households and firms to perceive, respond and plan for themselves, by and large coupled through markets, but with requisite socio-cultural structures that manage good order. These structures obviously require modification and onward development from time to time, hence the issue of reform.

    Many plans and hopes will fail, but in aggregate there is an exploration of the space of possibilities that promotes progress and the common good, leading to economic growth. Though it is known that such growth is in spurts with fall-backs that are quasi-periodic.

    In short, in aggregate the market approach trusts in a large number of simpler processing units running in parallel and with the population of processing units coupled through markets. It then moderates for reducing the places where markets fail, or where it is in the best interests of the community to act centrally or institutionally, e.g. through governments etc. Pareto, Coase et al and welfare economics then come to bear.

    In this context, debates over health care systems are seen as over whether so big a chunk and so dynamic a chunk of the economy should be brought under centralised control. The effective alternatives boil down to a system of insurance markets and support for the indigent or those whose insurance fails.

    There are doubtless no solutions that cannot be criticised as in many ways deficient, but there is a tendency to compare idealised versions of favoured option A with challenges faced by option B.

    Beyond the narrow problem, it is to be realised that the concentration of power and control in Government itself is a manifestation of problems of monopolies and oligarchies, multiplied by some pretty grim lessons of history on the implications of Marxian base-superstructure materialism and amorality in action through ruthless activists. Hence the relevance of Mr Castro’s passing as an occasion for a serious and responsible, factually informed discussion.

    On health care, there is no doubt that some very effective medical practitioners are in Cuba, and that there is provision of reasonably high quality care in some quarters, but the average situation of the ordinary person is grim — and known to be grim. The UK type system does offer a lot of care but with serious wait-time problems and many other points of concern. There doubtless are many other difficulties that can be discussed. The former American market system was often critiqued as unjust and facing a challenge of the uninsured.

    The accretion of concentrated power in the state is a relevant factor, and reasonable, responsible people can and do have different balances of views.

    Which is part of the problem, we see far too much demonisation and denigration.

    I am also troubled deeply by the fact that law, government, education, media and medicine have been deeply corrupted and perverted to enable the mass slaughter of 800+ million unborn children globally across the past 40+ years, and mounting up at 1 million more per week. This is the worst holocaust in history, it is the central evil of our time, and it is a case of induced mass blood guilt, which will warp ability to think straight or heed the voice of clear conscience. (And of course, much of the debate shows there is a tendency to embed horrors such as this into centralised health services systems.)

    Let me be frank and direct:

    We are the worst, most deceitful, most deceived, most conscience-benumbed, most blood guilt ridden, most defiantly wicked and richest [thus, most distracted] generation in history . . . and yes, I here deliberately echo the story of the pirate-loot enriched city of Port Royal, Jamaica on the verge of the destructive Earthquake of 1692. Today, Port Royal is a fishing village with rumours of ghosts and bells ringing under the sea where the former city once stood. I am not excepting the Nazis, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot et al, we are far more blood guilty and deceitful than any of them or even the lot in combination. That is how wicked we are collectively, and every last one of us — I speak specifically of myself, shamed by my letting this issue lie for years — is tainted with some degree of enabling behaviour. Only repentance and godly reformation can save us, but we are the most stubborn, willfully blinded, en-darkened and conscience benumbed generation in history, so it may well take breaking the back of our civilisation by going over a cliff to wake up our survivors through massive pain. Survivors, who will for cause call us an accursed generation. That is a price that no responsible person would desire, so the question –I here echo both Lincoln and scripture — is, yes offences do and must come, but woe to him by whom they come!

    Until we see clear signs that we are frankly and fairly facing then responsibly resolving our blood guilt, we are not to be trusted with significantly centralised power on medical or legal and governance matters.

    Period.

    Nor, to carry out reforms in general.

    If this issue is not being faced by would-be reformers, we can be sure the proposed reforms are utterly corrupt and wicked.

    Never mind the veneer of oh we care about case X, you do not — how dare you clutch your pearls, hold up a crucifix and cry some shibboleth like “Socialism.”

    Sorry, enough of Alinsky’s devilish agit prop tactics, astro-turfed fake grassroots front groups, marches of deluded fools led by judas-goats, rioting to create a false narrative, parading of cases to push an agenda, scapegoating, stereotyping, demonising, red herrings led away to strawmen soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, poison, choke, confuse and polarise the atmosphere for discussion. Enough of deceitful policy arguments and twisted decrees under false colour of law and justice and rights.

    Enough!

    Have you not heard, that a right is a morally grounded demand to be respected in some wise based on our dignity as made in God’s image and endowed with responsible rational freedom under moral government?

    That, your right therefore means my duty to support and sustain you in such a regard as life, liberty, property, innocent reputation, etc?

    That, therefore, to claim a right one must be manifestly in the right, as we can have no just cause to demand that others do or enable evil and taint their souls to allow us to proceed in our way?

    That, therefore, there can be no right to demand that we enable the shedding of the innocent blood of the unborn?

    And much more, down a long litany of the wickedness of our day marching under false colours of rights?

    Enough!

    The self-referential moral incoherence points unerringly to much deeper and broader incoherence and folly, liable to trigger manipulated marches of folly to ruin.

    As it is, our civilisation is already far down a road to ruin, and we need to stop, and think again.

    In this light, the way we discuss the case of Mr Castro’s passing is yet another warning sign of where we are headed, and JAD is quite right to highlight the glaring gaps and politically correct talk-arounds in Mr Trudeau’s remarks. We must never forget the people of Cuba have been subjected to a generation of tyranny, and have suffered perhaps 80,000 – 100,000 plus dead at the hands of tyrants as a result. Cuba went from Batista and the Mafia to Castro, the Communists and the DGI backed up by your friendly neighbourhood committees for the defence of the revolution. All, subsidised by the late unlamented USSR, and paid for in the blood of Cubans sent out as mercenaries of revolution all around the world as well as that of the victims of those wars and subversions.

    Including, in Jamaica and Grenada.

    With a long list of other places.

    Enough!

    Sophia is warning us.

    And, given the significance of evolutionary materialism and its undermining of reasonable, responsible freedom and of morality, so is Plato in The Laws Bk X:

    Ath [in The Laws, Bk X 2,350+ ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics and law: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”) . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    Will we heed such warnings?

    KF

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    AK, you just used this thread to accuse the President-Elect of the USA of treason most foul. You will either substantiate with adequate evidence of a quality that would stand up in impeachment and onwards in a trial for his life, or else withdraw and apologies for your remarks. Or else, kindly leave this thread and never return to any thread I am owner of at UD. Failing this, as thread-owner, I will call you a foul troll and wicked false accuser, treating you as your irresponsible behaviour deserves. KF

  26. 26
    Dean_from_Ohio says:

    KF @ 16,

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, he is granted respect by those whose consciences and minds are blinded. I always perceived the word “statesman” as a compliment, not to be used to describe murdering dictators. But maybe that’s just how we talk in the U.S.

    By all appearances, those who praised Castro (I do not, and did not, include you in this group) are all on the same team, ultimately. I do not rejoice that, again by all appearances, another soul has entered hell. But for the grace of God so would mine. Perhaps the Popes had an opportunity to share the gospel of life and the love of Christ with him, and perhaps in his final years he repented. I hope so. But at the same time, we will rejoice that he is no longer able to influence the world to do more wicked things. We should pray for his brother Raul Castro, that he will repent and be saved.

    But back to those whose consciences and minds are blinded, here is a section from the Washington Free Beacon’s capable and insightful writer Morgan Chalfant, describing the response from hapless leaders of the world to Castro’s passing (at http://freebeacon.com/national.....el-castro/):

    ‘Several foreign leaders mourned the loss of the former dictator, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and others offering complimentary takes on Castro’s leadership.

    “The name of this remarkable statesman is rightfully viewed as a symbol of a whole era in modern history,” Putin said when communicating his condolences to Raul Castro. “Free and independent Cuba built by him and his fellow revolutionaries has become an influential member of the international community and serves as an inspiring example for many countries and peoples. Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”

    “This strong and wise man always looked into the future with confidence. He embodied the high ideals of a politician, citizen and patriot who wholeheartedly believed in the cause, to which he devoted his life,” Putin continued. “Russians will always cherish his memory in their hearts.”

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called Castro a “great” leader in a letter of condolences sent on Saturday to the current Cuban president, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency.

    “Our friend Cuba was able under his leadership to stand its ground in the face of the most ferocious of sanctions and unfair campaigns witnessed in our modern history,” Assad wrote. “The name Fidel Castro will live forever in the minds of generations and remain an inspiration for all the peoples who aspire to achieve real independence and liberation from the yoke of colonialism and hegemony.”

    Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto wrote on Twitter that Castro “was a friend of Mexico, promoter of a bilateral relationship based on respect, dialogue and solidarity.”

    Premier Li Keqiang of the People’s Republic of China also relayed “the deepest condolences” over Castro’s death on behalf of the Chinese government and people.

    “Premier Li said in the message that Fidel Castro had devoted his life to the liberation and national development of Cuba, and as the founder, guardian and pusher of China-Cuba relations, his contribution to the bilateral relationship will always be remembered,” a statement released by the Chinese government said.

    Mikhail Gorbachev, the former leader of the Soviet Union, said in a statement, “Fidel stood up for and strengthened his country at the time of the toughest American blockade, at a time of colossal pressure on him, and all the same he led his county out of that blockade onto the road of independent development.”

    Castro also earned praise from Justin Trudeau, Canada’s liberal prime minister who won election last year. Trudeau regarded the former dictator as a “larger than life leader” and said it was an honor to have met Castro, who was a friend to his father.

    “A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation. While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante,’” Trudeau said. “We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”

    A spokesman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he was “saddened” at the news of Castro’s death and underlined the commitment of the international organization to work with the Cuban people to achieve greater reform in the country.

    “President Fidel Castro will be remembered for his leadership of the Cuban revolution and for advances in Cuba in the fields of education, literacy, and health. His revolutionary ideals left few indifferent. He was a strong voice for social justice in global discussions at the U.N. General Assembly and international and regional forums,” the spokesman said. “The secretary-general extends his condolences to the Cuban people and to the family of the former president, particularly to President Raul Castro.”’

    bb @ 17

    Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, indeed! Spot on. It’s a conscience and a blindness thing.

    Dean

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    DfO,

    statesman has two senses; one is professional, the other complimentary. As in, what a statesman ought to be.

    The other, when a man of the state fails in his sworn duty, actually gains further adverse force from the implied utter failure or outright betrayal.

    Let us learn and let us turn from sinful ruinous folly.

    Including, failing to speak truth in this moment of truth.

    KF

  28. 28

    bb

    When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,
    and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness.

    Proverbs 11:10

    (Doesn’t mean we should be shouting along)

    The news is always interested in the fake response – world leaders who only knew the “statesman” Castro.

    We’ll get no real response from Cubans in Cuba, who aren’t free to speak their minds.

    The real response is from those who lived under Castro and gained freedom; the majority of whom now live in south Florida.

  29. 29

    KF

    “Castro is in many regards case study number 1 just now.”

    Very true.

  30. 30
    daveS says:

    KF,

    AK, you just used this thread to accuse the President-Elect of the USA of treason most foul. You will either substantiate with adequate evidence of a quality that would stand up in impeachment and onwards in a trial for his life, or else withdraw and apologies for your remarks.

    It would be great if this principle were applied evenly!

    To be clear, I don’t mean to throw any accusations your way, KF. It’s just that we (in the USA) have become used to this sort of rhetoric over the last several years. For example:

    –Obama founded ISIS.

    –Obama might have been secretly behind the Orlando shootings.

    –The George W. Bush administration either orchestrated the Sept 11 attacks, or deliberately allowed them to happen.

    etc.

  31. 31
    john_a_designer says:

    PM Trudeau, who I cited above @ #23, isn’t the only one who has developed (or inherited) amnesia about recent history in Cuba. Here are a couple examples from the U.S.

    GregGutfeld @ greggutfeld commented before he retweeted Geraldo Rivera:

    “U can see the “but” coming 90 miles away.”

    Rivera had tweeted:

    “RIP #FidelCastro Yes, a despot who ruthlessly suppressed dissidents. But he defeated a dictator & was the premier revolutionary of his time”

    https://twitter.com/GeraldoRivera/status/802639263938605056

    Rev Jesse Jackson Sr @RevJJackson

    “In many ways, after 1959, the oppressed the world over joined Castro’s cause of fighting for freedom & liberation-he changed the world. RIP”

    https://twitter.com/RevJJackson/status/802503336280858624

    The political left is even more out of touch with reality than I thought it was. That’s scary.

  32. 32
    bb says:

    CY,

    That was the first proverb that came to mind when I heard of Castro’s death. Though they didn’t specify any, Adams, Jefferson and Washington all thought religion and morality were essential to self-governance and self-governance essential to liberty.

    Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.

    -John Adams, Letter to Zabdiel Adams (21 June 1776)

  33. 33

    Mass murder is always justified by the perpetrators and their followers. Most Americans are completely comfortable with Harry Truman ordering the use of nuclear weapons against two Japanese cities (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) during the summer of 1945…killing over 100,000 civilians.

    Here’s a poem to consider:

    Hiroshima
    by Sherwood Ross

    I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto

    A graduate of Emory College, Atlanta,

    Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima

    I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck

    Like a sheet of sunlight.

    Fearing for my wife and family

    I ran back into the city

    Where I saw hundreds and hundreds fleeing

    Every one of them hurt in some way.

    The eyebrows of some were burned off

    Skin hung from their faces and hands

    Some were vomiting as they walked

    On some naked bodies the burns had made patterns

    Of the shapes of flowers transferred

    From their kimonos to human skin.

    Almost all had their heads bowed

    Looked straight ahead, were silent

    And showed no expression whatever.

    Under many houses I heard trapped people screaming

    Crying for help but there were none to help

    And the fire was coming.

    I came to a young woman holding her dead baby

    Who pleaded with me to find her husband

    So he could see the baby one last time.

    There was nothing I could do but humor her.

    By accident I ran into my own wife

    Both she and our child were alive and well.

    For days I carried water and food to the wounded and the dying.

    I apologized to them: “Forgive me,” I said, “for not sharing your burden.”

    I am the Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto

    Pastor of the Methodist Church of Hiroshima

    I was in a western suburb when the bomb struck

    Like a sheet of sunlight.

  34. 34
    Dionisio says:

    KF @24:

    Sobering timely warning. Thank you.

  35. 35
    bb says:

    TWSYF,

    Your equivocation doesn’t work. There is a big difference between war with a nation that attacked you first and mass murder.

    Was it Wrong to Drop the Atom Bomb on Japan?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmIBbcxseXM

  36. 36
    Silver Asiatic says:

    daveS

    –Obama might have been secretly behind the Orlando shootings.

    If you’re equating AW’s opinions with that sort of thing, then I think you’re on to something here. Yes, indeed.

  37. 37
    Dionisio says:

    bb @32:

    Insightful commentary. Thank you.

    Regarding the text you quoted: Was it assumed back then that they had in mind Judeo-Christian framework?

  38. 38
    bb says:

    Dionisio,

    “Was it assumed back then that they had in mind Judeo-Christian framework?”

    None other, though I doubt that any I mentioned were Christian. They still embraced the Christian idea of natural moral law, which is basically what is laid out Biblically. Based on that standard they had contempt for Islam.

  39. 39

    bb @ 35: You just made my point. Mass murder is ALWAYS justified by the perpetrators and their followers. The 100,000 murdered Japanese civilians had as much control over their government as you do over yours. None.

  40. 40
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 21

    Seversky, The global death toll of socialism is north of 100 millions in the past century, and it has consistently been a massive economic failure. Even in Venezuela, sitting on a pool of oil. your mockery on raising crucifixes verges on gross disrespect including to God as well as to people, and you need to take a time out to reconsider your language and arguments. Good night. KF

    In the eyes of many in the US, to label something as “socialist” is to demonize it and cast it beyond the pale of serious consideration. The idea behind socialism is that society as a whole should own the means of production and distribution so that society as a whole should enjoy the benefits thereof, not just the few with the skills to manipulate the system to their advantage. The failures of socialism are not so much a fault of the ideology but rather of human nature. In the notorious cases, they professed socialism but practiced despotism. The states fell into the hands of dictators and the thugs that supported them. Absolute power corrupted absolutely.

    And should God, if He exists, find anything I have said to be disrespectful, He is welcome to take the matter up with me directly. I’m sure that, as Supreme Being and all-powerful Creator, He is quite capable of taking care of Himself.

  41. 41
    Seversky says:

    bb @ 35

    Was it Wrong to Drop the Atom Bomb on Japan?

    Is there any simple answer?

    Prior to dropping the bombs, one study had estimated that a conventional invasion of the Japanese home islands would have cost 1.7 – 4 million American casualties and anywhere between 5-10 million Japanese fatalities.

    What was done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki was terrible. There is no way round it. But was it the lesser of two evils confronting the Allied planners? What would you have done if you’d had to make that choice?

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, i do not live in the USA and am subject to UK style libel law, just tolerating something on what I have some authority over is enough. And, frankly, the issue still obtains even if there is no legal penalty. There is here an accusation of treason. There had better be solid warrant for it or I am taking drastic action against AK. KF

  43. 43
    bb says:

    TWSYF,

    Your equivocation still doesn’t work. Maybe you can offer some definitions so that we’re sure to be speaking the same language.

  44. 44
    Dionisio says:

    TWSYF @33:

    Interesting commentary. Heartbreaking poem. It points to the cruel reality of wars in this spiritually lost and blind world.

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    Seversky, fair warning. One of those over 100 millions was an unofficial but very real aunt of mine, murdered in her shop because of poisonous agit-prop targetting and blaming shop keepers for “hoarding” during an undeclared civil war. A civil war where Cuban-trained and armed brigadistas were a very relevant force; so yes, my aunt is one of Fidel’s death toll. I, for cause, have an extremely low tolerance for Socialist rhetoric, policy proposals, activism and agit prop. I have already laid out in outline my substantial — processor architecture — reasons for rejecting government driven socialisation of the economy and/or its major sectors. If you have something to say on substance, say it. I will not tolerate agit prop and evasive rhetoric, not on this topic. KF

    PS: I see we are more or less on the same page regarding the nuke bombings. This needs to be extended to what we now know, WW II was a nuke threshold war and the Allies were not sure of how advanced either Germany or Japan were. A significant part of the aerial bombardment hampered Germany’s progress and may have bought critical time for a ground campaign to bring things to a halt before nukes went off over London, Moscow and New York.

  46. 46
    Dionisio says:

    bb @38:

    Does the last word you wrote in your comment refer to a religious belief that apparently appeared in the 6th century (i.e. 5 centuries after Christianity)?

    Didn’t it borrow ideas from or made references to biblical passages or names?

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    DM on UK nationalised health services problems:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....merge.html

    Potentially life-threatening errors are happening in the NHS almost once a day as details of blunders emerge

    * Doctors are making errors including giving the wrong type of blood
    * They were also shown to perform surgery on wrong part of body
    * Errors called ‘never events’ by NHS because they should not happen
    * Damning incidents were revealed by a Mail on Sunday investigation

    By Stephen Adams Health Correspondent For The Mail On Sunday

    Published: 02:03 GMT, 27 November 2016 | Updated: 02:19 GMT, 27 November 2016

    KF

  48. 48
    bb says:

    Seversky,

    What was done to Hiroshima and Nagasaki was terrible. There is no way round it. But was it the lesser of two evils confronting the Allied planners? What would you have done if you’d had to make that choice?

    I think Truman did the best he could with what means to weigh costs that he had. Post-hoc analysis with modern tools is irrelevant because he didn’t have the resources we have today. His motivation wasn’t genocidal, and it certainly wasn’t to subjugate the Japanese in order to keep them under his thumb for decades to feed his personal power trip and greed the way Castro did to his own people. TWSYF is playing an equivocation game.

    If dropping the bomb meant destroying enemy ability to build arms, a quicker end to the war, an end to American casualties, and fewer deaths overall in the end, I would have done the same. But how does one accurately evaluate all that using WWII tech? I think the morality of the decision before God matters most and leads to the best decision in the end. I can’t hide my intent from the God that can see right through me in every respect.

    I’m obviously not the moderator, but I propose we focus on the real subject, Castro, his murderous and tyrannical regime, and the possibility of history repeating in societies that are somewhat free only for the moment because many of our leaders admire a thug. It indicates that they don’t have the morality necessary to judge rightly. Hiroshima is a distraction and just a big tu quoque.

  49. 49
    Dionisio says:

    Seversky @40:

    The failures of socialism are not so much a fault of the ideology but rather of human nature.

    socialism?
    ideology?
    human nature?
    Which socialism? Scandinavian – known as Nordic Model? Or something else? What exactly?
    What ideology?
    What about the human nature?

  50. 50
    bb says:

    Dionisio,

    Didn’t it borrow ideas from or made references to biblical passages or names?

    Yes, but that doesn’t make it equivalent. Europe borrowed ideas for paper, gun powder, the printing press and paper money from China, but that didn’t make it China. Counterfeiters borrow currency designs from mints, but that doesn’t make their product cash. Satan himself, tries to imitate God, in his twisted way. Even Satan quotes the Bible. But alas, he isn’t God.

    The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose

    -William Shakespeare

  51. 51

    bb @ 43: The fact that you are JUSTIFYING the killing of 100,000 civilians makes my original point. I call it mass murder. You call it…what?

    Here is something for you to think about:

    “Careful scholarly treatment of the records and manuscripts opened over the past few years has greatly enhanced our understanding of why the Truman administration used atomic weapons against Japan. Experts continue to disagree on some issues, but critical questions have been answered. The consensus among scholars is that the bomb was not needed to avoid an invasion of Japan. It is clear that alternatives to the bomb existed and that Truman and his advisors knew it.” See Chapter One, Note 2 in the book “Worse Than War” by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (2009).

  52. 52
    kairosfocus says:

    TWSYF, I doubt there is a justification, only an argument of lesser of evils in a horrible situation. I also tend to be a tad skeptical of claimed wonderful alternatives when in fact the atomic bombings nearly were not enough. Yes, there was a faction that was trying to fight on and it took the unprecedented act of a recording broadcast by Hirohito to order the surrender of Japan. Anyway, this is now well off topic, and we need to come back to focus. KF

  53. 53
    Daniel King says:

    There is here an accusation of treason. There had better be solid warrant for it or I am taking drastic action against AK. KF.

    You like to threaten people, don’t you?

    What action might that be?

    ___________________

    Mr King, your behaviour is enabling of reckless false accusations. The above, which I responded to, clearly constitutes an accusation of treason; which was offered almost as though it is a right to make such a grave charge without grounds. I challenged the accuser to ground, on pain of appropriate action against false accusation. That you see this as a “threat” while apparently not seeing the significance of a capital crime accusation tossed off as though it needs no warrant and is a right, speaks volumes about you, and not in your favour. Good day sir, KF

  54. 54
    Dionisio says:

    bb @50:

    Yes, but that doesn’t make it equivalent.

    Huh?

    Who said anything about equivalence?
    I’m sorry if my convoluted writing is hard to decipher. 🙂
    You may want to take some time to digest the comments before responding or ask me to clarify my questions if they are not clear. It happens sometimes. I’m still learning to write.

    Anyway, I’ve done the “knee-jerk reaction” too. More than once. Join the club!

    I just wanted to comment on the last word you wrote @38. You seem to know more than I do about this topic, hence wanted to asked you a few things.

    Basically wanted to ask if their alleged founder used a few twisted references to scripture passages or characters (the Christian Bible cannon had been compiled around two centuries earlier, right?). Was he trying to persuade the Jewish merchants in the area to accept his newly brewed messages but they did not buy it? How else one could explain that they were described in nice terms first and then trashed later in the same book? What happened that triggered such a radical change? Besides, is Jesus presented in their main book as the only prophet who performed miracles? Do they make any reference to the scripture passages saying that Jesus made their founder and everybody else?

    Sorry I’ve digressed far off topic.

  55. 55
    Dionisio says:

    DK @53:

    What action might that be?

    I can’t answer for KF, but I’d put the seemingly “trolling” comments in a queue awaiting moderation. Then run a referendum here to see what percentage of commenters want the allegedly distracting “trolling” comments back.
    That would be a democratic solution.
    Some folks here can’t afford to squander precious time on nonsense.
    BTW, the trolls I saw in the Norwegian fjords last summer were much nicer than the ones we encounter online. All the tourists wanted to take pics near them.
    Actually, if I had moderation power like KF I would put a few more comments in the moderation queue and wait for a democratic referendum to decide how to dispose of them.
    I definitely lack the patience and tolerance KF has.
    🙂

  56. 56
    Dionisio says:

    KF @47:

    Interesting but very discouraging article.

    In a hypothetical communist society -as far as I remember from my studies- the NHS described in that article would have been minimized, because everybody would do their best to use their time, energy, skills, talents, for the benefit of the society. In return everybody would have their needs* satisfied. Perhaps that’s one reason why the societies that were trying to reach that ‘ultimate’ stage of society called ‘Communism’, first had to build a totally new person –which the soviets would call “nasta-yashy komunisticheski chelav-yek”– highly altruistic, unconditionally dedicated to give their best for the sake of the rest of the society, expecting nothing in return, except the full satisfaction of their needs*. But that final socioeconomic stage also required a tremendous development of the productive forces in order to guarantee the satisfaction of everybody’s needs.
    Needless to say that no country ever reached that goal, not even close. They never reached the required production levels and obviously were never able to create the dreamed new person. All the countries that were allegedly on that path remained in the transitional stage called ‘socialism’ were the ‘official’ distribution of the national wealth was not according to needs, but according to the work people did, or according to their relative position in the socioeconomic structure. Unofficially it was as in Orwell’s Animal Farm, where some folks were more equal than others. 🙂 http://msxnet.org/orwell/animal_farm.pdf
    What went wrong?
    Perhaps Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave us a hint. See the next post.
    (*) whatever that meant. 🙂

  57. 57
    Dionisio says:

    “Godlessness: the First Step to the Gulag”

    Alexander Solzhenitsyn

    Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion on May of 1983

    More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

    Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.

    What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.

    The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century. The first of these was World War I, and much of our present predicament can be traced back to it. It was a war (the memory of which seems to be fading) when Europe, bursting with health and abundance, fell into a rage of self-mutilation which could not but sap its strength for a century or more, and perhaps forever. The only possible explanation for this war is a mental eclipse among the leaders of Europe due to their lost awareness of a Supreme Power above them. Only a godless embitterment could have moved ostensibly Christian states to employ poison gas, a weapon so obviously beyond the limits of humanity.

    The same kind of defect, the flaw of a consciousness lacking all divine dimension, was manifested after World War II when the West yielded to the satanic temptation of the “nuclear umbrella.” It was equivalent to saying: Let’s cast off worries, let’s free the younger generation from their duties and obligations, let’s make no effort to defend ourselves, to say nothing of defending others-let’s stop our ears to the groans emanating from the East, and let us live instead in the pursuit of happiness. If danger should threaten us, we shall be protected by the nuclear bomb; if not, then let the world burn in Hell for all we care. The pitifully helpless state to which the contemporary West has sunk is in large measure due to this fatal error: the belief that the defense of peace depends not on stout hearts and steadfast men, but solely on the nuclear bomb…

    Today’ s world has reached a stage which, if it had been described to preceding centuries, would have called forth the cry: “This is the Apocalypse!”

    Yet we have grown used to this kind of world; we even feel at home in it.

    Dostoevsky warned that “great events could come upon us and catch us intellectually unprepared.” This is precisely what has happened. And he predicted that “the world will be saved only after it has been possessed by the demon of evil.” Whether it really will be saved we shall have to wait and see: this will depend on our conscience, on our spiritual lucidity, on our individual and combined efforts in the face of catastrophic circumstances. But it has already come to pass that the demon of evil, like a whirlwind, triumphantly circles all five continents of the earth…

    In its past, Russia did know a time when the social ideal was not fame, or riches, or material success, but a pious way of life. Russia was then steeped in an Orthodox Christianity which remained true to the Church of the first centuries. The Orthodoxy of that time knew how tosafeguard its people under the yoke of a foreign occupation that lasted more than two centuries, while at the same time fending off iniquitous blows from the swords of Western crusaders. During those centuries the Orthodox faith in our country became part of the very pattern of thought and the personality of our people, the forms of daily life, the work calendar, the priorities in every undertaking, the organization of the week and of the year. Faith was the shaping and unifying force of the nation.

    But in the 17th century Russian Orthodoxy was gravely weakened by an internal schism. In the 18th, the country was shaken by Peter’s forcibly imposed transformations, which favored the economy, the state, and the military at the expense of the religious spirit and national life. And along with this lopsided Petrine enlightenment, Russia felt the first whiff of secularism; its subtle poisons permeated the educated classes in the course of the 19th century and opened the path to Marxism. By the time of the Revolution, faith had virtually disappeared in Russian educated circles; and amongst the uneducated, its health was threatened.

    It was Dostoevsky, once again, who drew from the French Revolution and its seeming hatred of the Church the lesson that “revolution must necessarily begin with atheism.” That is absolutely true. But the world had never before known a godlessness as organized, militarized, and tenaciously malevolent as that practiced by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin, and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principal driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot.

    The 1920’s in the USSR witnessed an uninterrupted procession of victims and martyrs amongst the Orthodox clergy. Two metropolitans were shot, one of whom, Veniamin of Petrograd, had been elected by the popular vote of his diocese. Patriarch Tikhon himself passed through the hands of the Cheka-GPU and then died under suspicious circumstances. Scores of archbishops and bishops perished. Tens of thousands of priests, monks, and nuns, pressured by the Chekists to renounce the Word of God, were tortured, shot in cellars, sent to camps, exiled to the desolate tundra of the far North, or turned out into the streets in their old age without food or shelter. All these Christian martyrs went unswervingly to their deaths for the faith; instances of apostasy were few and far between. For tens of millions of laymen access to the Church was blocked, and they were forbidden to bring up their children in the Faith: religious parents were wrenched from their children and thrown into prison, while the children were turned from the faith by threats and lies…

    For a short period of time, when he needed to gather strength for the struggle against Hitler, Stalin cynically adopted a friendly posture toward the Church. This deceptive game, continued in later years by Brezhnev with the help of showcase publications and other window dressing, has unfortunately tended to be taken at its face value in the West. Yet the tenacity with which hatred of religion is rooted in Communism may be judged by the example of their most liberal leader, Krushchev: for though he undertook a number of significant steps to extend freedom, Krushchev simultaneously rekindled the frenzied Leninist obsession with destroying religion.

    But there is something they did not expect: that in a land where churches have been leveled, where a triumphant atheism has rampaged uncontrolled for two-thirds of a century, where the clergy is utterly humiliated and deprived of all independence, where what remains of the Church as an institution is tolerated only for the sake of propaganda directed at the West, where even today people are sent to the labor camps for their faith, and where, within the camps themselves, those who gather to pray at Easter are clapped in punishment cells–they could not suppose that beneath this Communist steamroller the Christian tradition would survive in Russia. It is true that millions of our countrymen have been corrupted and spiritually devastated by an officially imposed atheism, yet there remain many millions of believers: it is only external pressures that keep them from speaking out, but, as is always the ca se in times of persecution and suffering, the awareness of God in my country has attained great acuteness and profundity.

    It is here that we see the dawn of hope: for no matter how formidably Communism bristles with tanks and rockets, no matter what successes it attains in seizing the planet, it is doomed never to vanquish Christianity.

    The West has yet to experience a Communist invasion; religion here remains free. But the West’s own historical evolution has been such that today it too is experiencing a drying up of religious consciousness. It too has witnessed racking schisms, bloody religious wars, and rancor, to say nothing of the tide of secularism that, from the late Middle Ages onward, has progressively inundated the West. This gradual sapping of strength from within is a threat to faith that is perhaps even more dangerous than any attempt to assault religion violently from without.

    Imperceptibly, through decades of gradual erosion, the meaning of life in the West has ceased to be seen as anything more lofty than the “pursuit of happiness, “a goal that has even been solemnly guaranteed by constitutions. The concepts of good and evil have been ridiculed for several centuries; banished from common use, they have been replaced by political or class considerations of short lived value. It has become embarrassing to state that evil makes its home in the individual human heart before it enters a political system. Yet it is not considered shameful to make dally concessions to an integral evil. Judging by the continuing landslide of concessions made before the eyes of our very own generation, the West is ineluctably slipping toward the abyss. Western societies are losing more and more of their religious essence as they thoughtlessly yield up their younger generation to atheism. If a blasphemous film about Jesus is shown throughout the United States, reputedly one of the most religious countries in the world, or a major newspaper publishes a shameless caricature of the Virgin Mary, what further evidence of godlessness does one need? When external rights are completely unrestricted, why should one make an inner effort to restrain oneself from ignoble acts?

    Or why should one refrain from burning hatred, whatever its basis–race, class, or ideology? Such hatred is in fact corroding many hearts today. Atheist teachers in the West are bringing up a younger generation in a spirit of hatred of their own society. Amid all the vituperation we forget that the defects of capitalism represent the basic flaws of human nature, allowed unlimited freedom together with the various human rights; we forget that under Communism (and Communism is breathing down the neck of all moderate forms of socialism, which are unstable) the identical flaws run riot in any person with the least degree of authority; while everyone else under that system does indeed attain “equality”–the equality of destitute slaves. This eager fanning of the flames of hatred is becoming the mark of today’s free world. Indeed, the broader the personal freedoms are, the higher the level of prosperity or even of abundance–the more vehement, paradoxically, does this blind hatred become. The contemporary developed West thus demonstrates by its own example that human salvation can be found neither in the profusion of material goods nor in merely making money.

    This deliberately nurtured hatred then spreads to all that is alive, to life itself, to the world with its colors, sounds, and shapes, to the human body. The embittered art of the twentieth century is perishing as a result of this ugly hate, for art is fruitless without love. In the East art has collapsed because it has been knocked down and trampled upon, but in the West the fall has been voluntary, a decline into a contrived and pretentious quest where the artist, instead of attempting to reveal the divine plan, tries to put himsef in the place of God.

    Here again we witness the single outcome of a worldwide process, with East and West yielding the same results, and once again for the same reason: Men have forgotten God.

    With such global events looming over us like mountains, nay, like entire mountain ranges, it may seem incongruous and inappropriate to recall that the primary key to our being or non-being resides in each individual human heart, in the heart’s preference for specific good or evil. Yet this remains true even today, and it is, in fact, the most reliable key we have. The social theories that promised so much have demonstrated their bankruptcy, leaving us at a dead end. The free people of the West could reasonably have been expected to realize that they are beset · by numerous freely nurtured falsehoods, and not to allow lies to be foisted upon them so easily. All attempts to find a way out of the plight of today’s world are fruitless unless we redirect our consciousness, in repentance, to the Creator of all: without this, no exit will be illumined, and we shall seek it in vain. The resources we have set aside for ourselves are too impoverished for the task. We must first recognize the horror perpetrated not by some outside force, not by class or national enemies, but within each of us individually, and within every society. This is especially true of a free and highly developed society, for here in particular we have surely brought everything upon ourselves, of our own free will. We ourselves, in our daily unthinking selfishness, are pulling tight that noose…

    Our life consists not in the pursuit of material success but in the quest for worthy spiritual growth. Our entire earthly existence is but a transitional stage in the movement toward something higher, and we must not stumble and fall, nor must we linger fruitlessly on one rung of the ladder. Material laws alone do not explain our life or give it direction. The laws of physics and physiology will never reveal the indisputable manner in which the Creator constantly, day in and day out, participates in the life of each of us, unfailingly granting us the energy of existence; when this assistance leaves us, we die. And in the life of our entire planet, the Divine Spirit surely moves with no less force: this we must grasp in our dark and terrible hour.

    To the ill-considered hopes of the last two centuries, which have reduced us to insignificance and brought us to the brink of nuclear and non-nuclear death, we can propose only a determined quest for the warm hand of God, which we have so rashly and self-confidently spurned. Only in this way can our eyes be opened to the errors of this unfortunate twentieth century and our bands be directed to setting them right. There is nothing else to cling to in the landslide: the combined vision of all the thinkers of the Enlightenment amounts to nothing.

    Our five continents are caught in a whirlwind. But it is during trials such as these that the highest gifts of the human spirit are manifested. If we perish and lose this world, the fault will be ours alone.

    (World copyright ©1983 by Aleksander Solzhenitsyn; translator: A. Klimoff; reprinted by kind permission of the author.)

  58. 58
    rvb8 says:

    Kairos @ 24,

    “Marxist materialist base superstructure.”

    In what universe is the theory of Marx’s description of Communism, in any way connected to the greed of capatalism/materialism?

    Health care? I live in NZ with an almost identical socialised health care system to the UK, Australia, Japan, and almost all of western Europe.

    Here is some real information from someone aged 50 who has lived in this country, and travelled, all his life:

    At age six I contracted cerebral meningitis, a hospital stay of six months, drugs, medical procedures, and doctors bills cost my father exactly 0$. In the States I would rot.

    I have broken my leg twice playing football, and all costs were paid for by the taxes of my countrymen; I am greatful.

    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.

    Castro left Cuba with a 100% youth literacy rate; your country?

    15,000 highly trained Cuban medical workers work in various regional hotspots to the cost of Cuba; the UN is greatful, the US watches ‘Duck Dynasty’.

    In 2000 the UK sent 100 doctors and health administrators to Cuba to learn how they use every dollar so efficiently. The answer get rid of the administrators. Cuban hospitals are run by doctors and nurses.

    If you could just get rid of that pointless middleman, insurance, out of yor haelsth care system in the states, and replace it with tax payer funded doctors and nurses, US wastage in health care costs (which is despicable) would plummet.

  59. 59
    Seversky says:

    kairosfocus @ 47

    DM on UK nationalised health services problems:

    You would be well-advised not to rely on the Daily Mail for fair and balanced coverage of this or any other issue. The Mail is Tory paper. The NHS was the creation of a socialist Labour administration, hence the Mail is not necessarily well-disposed towards it.

    It lists a number of medical errors committed by NHS staff which don’t look good and aren’t good. What the article doesn’t provide is context. Is the NHS significantly better or worse than other health services by that measure? For example, it makes no mention of US statistics which show that medical errors there are the third leading cause of death of patients, just after cancer and heart disease. Why not? Could it have anything to do with Tory ambitions to privatize healthcare in the UK?

  60. 60
    Dionisio says:

    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.

  61. 61
    Dionisio says:

    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.

    [corrected]

    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.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  63. 63
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  66. 66
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  67. 67
    Dionisio says:

    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/i.....y-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.

  68. 68
    Dionisio says:

    KF
    Agree with your insightful comments posted at 62-66. Thank you.

  69. 69
    Dionisio says:

    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.

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  71. 71
    Dionisio says:

    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.

  72. 72
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dionisio

    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.

  73. 73
    daveS says:

    KF,

    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.

  74. 74
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  75. 75
    Dionisio says:

    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?

  76. 76
    Dionisio says:

    #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. 🙂

    🙂

  77. 77
    Dionisio says:

    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.

  78. 78
    daveS says:

    KF: No problemo.

  79. 79
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dionisio @ 75

    Yes, I fully agree. Well said.

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    Glowing tributes are rolling in across the Caribbean.

  81. 81
    Dionisio says:

    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

  82. 82
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  83. 83
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    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

  85. 85
    kairosfocus says:

    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.)

  86. 86
    john_a_designer says:

    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…”

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-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/v.....38976.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?

  87. 87

    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.

  88. 88
    john_a_designer says:

    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.

  89. 89
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, with a cost in lives north of 100 millions per counts of democides. KF

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