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Breaking out of our present peril (and, whose report should we believe?)

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How can we break out of our present peril, as a civilisation?

Let’s pause and hear Francis Schaeffer on the subject:

A key aspect of the challenge, is that Democracies, from the days of Plato, are known to be prone to decay into misrule and marches of folly driven by manipulated mobs.

Hence, the concept, demagogue:

demagogue or demagog
n
1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a political agitator who appeals with crude oratory to the prejudice and passions of the mob
2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (esp in the ancient world) any popular political leader or orator
[C17: from Greek d?mag?gos people’s leader, from d?mos people + agein to lead]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

Of course, often the demagogue is part of a stable of bought and paid for actors, backed by some Mr Moneybags behind the scenes.

Sometimes, there are far more sinister networks with mostly hidden, escalating, ruinous agendas. Just to list:

  • mobs or even militias on the streets,
  • crudely populist agitators,
  • more cultured literary voices and/or literal actors and celebrities with popular followings,
  • pundits, academics and other high prestige experts,
  • think-tanks, public relations strategists and agencies,
  • marketers, agit-prop strategists,
  • media houses,
  • parties
  • and more.

If we have not drawn these frightening lessons from the history of C20, with both the Communists/Bolsheviks and their kissing-cousins the Nazis/Fascists, we have yet again failed to learn lessons of sound history that were paid for in literal rivers of blood.

Maybe, we need to read Canetti’s Crowds and Power.

Perhaps some thoughts on the heirs of both, today’s Alinskyite cultural marxists, would be advisable.

Now, too, where there is a howling, menacing mob on the streets or in your workplace or online pushing a powerful and destructive attack-agenda, you can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere, there is a paymaster backed by serious money. Which, can even be the lead bureaucrats of the increasingly powerful state apparatus, the so-called deep state and their allies in the intelligentsia who are bought with grant money.

(This, BTW is my read of the ongoing mid-game play-out in North America [no, the end-game of the current, battle- of- attrition- by- mob- and- lawfare- driven- personal- ruin cultural civil war is not yet], i/l/o my observations on trends with the increasingly obviously utterly unstable UK. Three PM’s in four or so years is not a good sign.)

Ac 27 has in it a raft of sobering lessons we have yet to seriously attend to, draw lessons from and absorb in the Churches, much less the wider culture. And so does a lot more of what now seem to be hidden, derided corners of willfully silenced and forgotten history of our common civilisation. One, once rightfully called Christendom . . . with all its sins, struggles and blessings; but which, having willfully and angrily cut itself off from its vital roots through the oppression thesis, now begins to decay disgustingly as it withers.

It is now very hard to find a decent survey history of our civilisation, something that used to be commonly taught in colleges and schools; a bad sign. [I shrug, then suggest here as an obviously flawed outline.]

So, yes, of all people the notorious Vox Day [NOT generally endorsed but he has drawn up a useful survival guide for the mobbed], in his description of mobbing, job-busting, deplatforming and scapegoating-driven marginalisation:

The eight stages of the SJW attack sequence are as follows:

1] Locate or Create a Violation of the Narrative. [–> used to be: the party-line, cf. Orwell, 1984 and Animal Farm]
2] Point and Shriek. [–> slander to smear and mark the target]
3] Isolate and Swarm. [–> mob-riot and bullying or lynching]
4] Reject and Transform. [–> the scapegoat carries away the sins of the multitude, which must now ever more conform to the agenda of “new” “virtues” demanded by the radicals and their mobs . . . generally ending in reigns of terror if unchecked]
5] Press for Surrender. [–> demand to dominate by nihilistic power disguised as claims for justice]
6] Appeal to Amenable Authority. [–> more interested in “reputational damage” than justice]
7] Show Trial. [–> a highlight of both Stalin and Hitler’s Nazis, the media-amplified kangaroo court, also going back to Robespierre and the guillotine. With Rommel, just the threat with further threat to ruin family caused him to commit suicide. This was followed by the show state funeral.]
8] Victory Parade.[–> with the decapitated head on a pike or the like, don’t forget, attainting of the bloodline by ruining the family]

Here, I suggest, that we need voices that can draw together a body of insights toward effective, sound strategic solutions. However, where there are the powerful who profit from continued chaos and/or from manipulated agendas, any moves towards such sound synthesis or a way out of the chaos-maze will be viciously targetted by the ruthless reprobates.

And the attack-mob baying for metaphorical or literal blood (think about Rome’s policy of bread and circuses and its modern extensions) is one of the habitually resorted to tools of such; whenever there are times where such mobs can gain traction.

Yes, another compass-needle pointing to the peril of our times.

Now, let us turn to a source that I find refreshing by sharpest contrast; Pascal, in some of his opening remarks for Pensees. For, we need an idea of where to find a way forward:

1. The difference between the mathematical and the intuitive mind.—In the one, the
principles are palpable, but removed from ordinary use; so that for want of habit it is difficult
to turn one’s mind in that direction: but if one turns it thither ever so little, one sees the
principles fully, and one must have a quite inaccurate mind who reasons wrongly from
principles so plain that it is almost impossible they should escape notice.

But in the intuitive mind the principles are found in common use and are before the
eyes of everybody. One has only to look, and no effort is necessary; it is only a question of
good eyesight, but it must be good, for the principles are so subtle and so numerous that it
is almost impossible but that some escape notice. Now the omission of one principle leads
to error; thus one must have very clear sight to see all the principles and, in the next place,
an accurate mind not to draw false deductions from known principles.

All mathematicians would then be intuitive if they had clear sight, for they do not
reason incorrectly from principles known to them; and intuitive minds would be mathem-
atical if they could turn their eyes to the principles of mathematics to which they are unused.

The reason, therefore, that some intuitive minds are not mathematical is that they cannot
at all turn their attention to the principles of mathematics. But the reason that mathematicians
are not intuitive is that they do not see what is before them, and that, accustomed to the
exact and plain principles of mathematics, and not reasoning till they have well inspected
and arranged their principles, they are lost in matters of intuition where the principles do
not allow of such arrangement. They are scarcely seen; they are felt rather than seen; there
is the greatest difficulty in making them felt by those who do not of themselves perceive
them. These principles are so fine and so numerous that a very delicate and very clear sense
is needed to perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are perceived, without
for the most part being able to demonstrate them in order as in mathematics, because the
principles are not known to us in the same way, and because it would be an endless matter
to undertake it. We must see the matter at once, at one glance, and not by a process of
reasoning, at least to a certain degree.

And thus it is rare that mathematicians are intuitive
and that men of intuition are mathematicians, because mathematicians wish to treat matters
of intuition mathematically and make themselves ridiculous, wishing to begin with definitions
and then with axioms, which is not the way to proceed in this kind of reasoning. Not that
the mind does not do so, but it does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules; for the
expression of it is beyond all men, and only a few can feel it.

Intuitive minds, on the contrary, being thus accustomed to judge at a single glance, are
so astonished when they are presented with propositions of which they understand nothing,
and the way to which is through definitions and axioms so sterile, and which they are not
accustomed to see thus in detail, that they are repelled and disheartened.

But dull minds are never either intuitive or mathematical.

There are minds that are both broadly intuitive and aware, seeing synoptically and synthetically on picking up deep, reliable and powerful patterns/principles from clues AND are then able to be exactingly precise in forming and drawing out plausible postulates and logical-structural, qualitative/existential and quantitative consequences.

Such are apt to be found among physicists, big-picture philosophers who tackle big issues, philosophical theologians, big-picture economists of the first rank [including among the Austrian heretics], certain types of similarly big picture but profoundly insightful cultural/policy critics or great artists and historians.

(Let me note for record: Marx was a spoiled case, whose correct insights need to be carefully harvested from the many errors of his materialism, and soundly, wisely put together with many others. Starting, with the lessons of the reformation and the breakthrough American Experiment. We must not allow an over-emphasis on the sins of Christendom to blind us to the hard-bought advances and blessings, as well as the proved mechanisms for prudent incremental reformation rather than ill-advised radical experiments that due to lack of checks, balances, soundness and restraint, predictably end in tyranny and chaos. One of the things we must recover is our confident, well-founded faith in God, in the gospel, in gospel ethics [thus, in linked natural law] and in the scriptures attested by the resurrection of the Christ witnessed by the five hundred.)

It is no accident that Pascal was a Mathematician-Physicist, philosopher with theological bent and one of the pioneers of highest French style. Minds like that are multiply rare: simultaneously rare on multiple dimensions.

But, in an age of widespread communication at low cost, we can learn from such synoptic thinkers, starting with realising that a few thousand words are powerfully distilling many thousands of pages (or even thousands of books) of reading and even more hours of pondering and deep discussion among the truly informed . . . as opposed to mere purveyors and guardians of current academic shibboleths. (Here, compare Ac 17 and 27 with 1 Cor 1 – 2.)

In short, let us learn enough broadly about our civilisation and big, fundamental issues that we can begin to work our way out of the problematique we are manifestly in, willfully and foolishly dancing on the edge of a crumbling cliff.

It matters not, whether the words used to bring out the synthesis are original or are clipped, the issue is, let us find valuable, instructive, wise and promising synthesis.

Let me give one clue, tracing to Francis Schaeffer:

Extending (and correcting) Schaeffer’s vision of the course of western thought, worldviews and culture, C1 – 21

He and others have also given a handy way to see the way ideas dominate a culture, and how we may go about reformation. So, more food for thought:

As a third, here is a summary on the challenge of change:

Ours, is a perilous time.

A kairos, fraught with consequences.

Let us make good use of it, before it is too late. END

58 Replies to “Breaking out of our present peril (and, whose report should we believe?)

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Breaking out of our present peril (and, whose report should we believe?)

  2. 2
    Brother Brian says:

    I believe the reports that say crime has been dropping for decades, infant mortality has decreased, life expectancy has increased, quality of life for the elderly has increased, access to medical care and medicine has increased, the quality of medical care and medicine has increased, unwanted pregnancies and abortions are decreasing, persecution and oppression of minorities has decreased, access to knowledge and information has increased, opportunities for women, minorities and homosexuals has increased, discrimination under the false colour of religious freedom has decreased, and cars are more reliable. I think the future looks pretty damn good.

  3. 3
    hazel says:

    Although I am quite concerned about the incipient Fascist demagogue and his cronies in the White House. 🙁

  4. 4
    ScuzzaMan says:

    The current still rises! … he notes, in response to being informed that the voltage is falling.

    How very droll.

    I don’t know why otherwise astute people insist on blinding themselves to the reality of time lags between causes and effects, especially in human affairs, but it’s so ubiquitous as to be epidemic.

  5. 5
    Brother Brian says:

    Hazel

    Although I am quite concerned about the incipient Fascist demagogue and his cronies in the White House.

    On the bright side, the current occupant of the puzzle factory is in his 70s and avoids vegetables and exercise, and loves fast food. The odds of him lasting to 2024 are slim.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Hazel & BB: First, I note that (pace Stalin’s propaganda from the ’30’s) Fascism is demonstrably an ideology of the statist, politically messianistic left; the commonplace attempts to project to “the right” (often without warrant) are misdirected and in some cases are manifestly turnspeech projections. Indeed so-called “antifa” is a fairly close analogue of the brownshirts and blackshirts. Second, just the statistic of 800+ million aborted globally over 40+ years with a million more per week indelibly indicts our era as stteped in guilt of innocent blood. Third, it is quite clear that the US in particular is already in low-grade, 4th generation civil war; with street theatre stunts, media amplified agit prop, a culture of slander, cultural marxism, and lawfare. It is a lynch-pin case and the time to turn back from utter chaos is now. KF

  7. 7
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@6, you keep harping on the abortion numbers, completely ignoring that they are precipitously being reduced due to early sex education and access to birth control. Now, when you combine that with the other trends in the western civilization you so despise, we are looking pretty damn good. Walking around with an “End Is Nigh” sandwich board may express your views, but don’t be surprised when people laugh at you.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    hazel:

    Although I am quite concerned about the incipient Fascist demagogue and his cronies in the White House.

    I would be more concerned with the people who think that way. 😛

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    you keep harping on the abortion numbers, completely ignoring that they are precipitously being reduced due to early sex education and access to birth control.

    They are worth harping on and there isn’t any evidence he is ignoring anything.

    Now, when you combine that with the other trends in the western civilization you so despise, we are looking pretty damn good.

    Only if you walk around with blinders on.

    Walking around with an “End Is Nigh” sandwich board may express your views, but don’t be surprised when people laugh at you.

    Given the number of chicken-little climate alarmists his views are the majority.

  10. 10
    EDTA says:

    To our optimists out there, I would agree that things dependent on technology are getting better all the time. And some social trends are going in the right direction.

    But note two characteristics:

    1) Technology is a double-edged sword, and the sharper edge is owned by the government (because they can afford more of it and it scales super-linearly as more of it is owned), and the largest businesses (because they are better at developing more of it). Governments can turn evil overnight, with large businesses always right behind them.

    2) Societal trends such as lower crime, less persecution, less discrimination, and so on can change overnight if societal conditions change. With the internet, I dare say a group could be oppressed in 1% of the time it took the Nazis to begin oppressing the Jews.

    In other words, none of the trends cited are the least bit resistant to sudden reversal, or in the case of technology, to being turned against the people.

    We need to be focused on the foundational things that prevent good trends from sudden reversals. *More than ever in the West’s history, we lack vision: we have no higher purpose beyond just having a good time until we die. We lack a relatively common moral foundation: it’s fine to have diversity when it comes to problem solving, but moral diversity beyond a point guarantees only conflict. We lack unity, and will no longer pull in one direction when that is needed. We are losing the values that make for a strong society (honesty and trust, investment in social capital, duty and responsibility, self-sufficiency, etc.)

    Those things aren’t superficial; you can’t explain them in a tweet. In fact, most people don’t even grasp that such things are foundational. They are no longer understood, valued or taught to a large segment of society.

    Therefore, all the good trends mentioned exist on a foundation of sand–nothing solid underneath them to maintain them.

    *Of course there are many people who do understand and value such things, but there are not enough of them.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    EDTA,

    I am not so sure technology is getting better in some respects. Likewise, I am concerned about monopolistic practices and censorship of dominant tech companies. For example though I started with Apple Macs I will never use an Apple product again. Similarly, given the rise of enabled mobs, I have cause to pull from someone who I do not like but who has dealt with this.

    While some social, economic and health trends are going in a good direction, the simple fact that so many refuse to see how we are enabling the ongoing worst holocaust in history is already enough to utterly condemn this age as a dark time.

    That points to serious worldviews and cultural agenda breakdowns, which is the focus of the OP and leads to finding the right sort of voices to lead the way forward.

    You are right to target the pointlessness of radical secularism and linked consumerist culture. Those are built in from the roots of the worldview. Likewise, the undermining of moral government. And as those things are discounted, many do not see their implications even as we are busily eating out the moral fabric of our civilisation. Worse, some suggest that that concern indicates you are a Nazi or the like. (The first political view I acquired, literally at mother’s knee, was anti-Nazism.)

    We are eating up cultural capital and the moral framework of our civilisation. We refuse to see where that predictably ends.

    And if one dares to draw on treasures of history bought at bitter price, the dismissal almost writes itself: too LONG, didn’t read.

    No time or energy to read and reflect on lessons paid for with blood and tears. Lessons so key that that is why for 2,000 years our civilisation turned away from democracy. Lessons that are vital to stabilising democratic governance and so also government in our day.

    Telling,

    KF

    PS: One of those TL;DR lessons we neglect at peril, from Plato’s greatest work, The Republic:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  12. 12
    Brother Brian says:

    EDTA

    1) Technology is a double-edged sword,…

    I agree. That has always been the case. With technology comes responsibilities and obligations. Antibiotics have significantly reduced the infant mortality rates, but they have also resulted in antibiotic resistant strains. Still, I think that we would all agree that they have been a net gain.

    2) Societal trends such as lower crime, less persecution, less discrimination, and so on can change overnight if societal conditions change.

    As we are now seeing with Trump’s xenophobic and racist agenda.

    In other words, none of the trends cited are the least bit resistant to sudden reversal, or in the case of technology, to being turned against the people.

    From the day we first sharpened the end of a stick, technology has had the capability of being used against people. But, I think that over history, the benefits have outweighed the negatives. There is no reason to suspect this will change. Although, any new technology will come with growing pains, as we have most recently seen with the internet.

    I would argue that many of the things I listed are resistant to sudden reversal, but not immune. A massive economic collapse would have an impact on anything to do with benefits associated with advanced health care, but little impact on homosexual and women’s rights. A theocratic shift in government could have an impact on things like homosexual and women’s rights but little impact on health care.

    All in all, I am cautiously optimistic with the current trends. I am even comfortable with the trend towards questioning some of the practices that we have historically justified through our various religions. I realize that some are not happy with this trend but if a societal practice can’t stand up to scrutiny then it probably should be discarded. It was through this examination that we realized that it was unacceptable to discriminate against someone simply because of the gender they are or the gender they are sexually attracted to.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    As we are now seeing with Trump’s xenophobic and racist agenda.

    You have to be a total loser and liar to say that.

  14. 14
    EDTA says:

    BB,
    >A massive economic collapse would have an impact on anything to do with benefits associated with advanced health care, but little impact on homosexual and women’s rights.

    I’m not sure that an economic collapse wouldn’t lead to bad social outcomes (both from your perspective and from mine). All these things intertwine in ways we cannot predict, especially now that cultural change has almost no brakes on it.

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    BB & ET, I am gavelling politics of personal attack and yet another attempted dragging down into the sewer of sexual perversities and impositions of same under false colour of claimed rights leading to lawfare. There are other venues for such discussion aplenty and UD is not a forum for partisan politics or linked personal invective. On the subject of accusations above, I simply say that if the US had sensible defamation law, loaded accusations such as we commonly see online and in the media would long since have been sued out of existence, with bankruptcies of those making such accusations. I note in this regard the case of a first level tossing out of a US$ 250 million lawsuit over a media lynch mob in January of this year, targetting minors on a school outing in protest of the ongoing holocaust of the unborn. Where, of course, the ill-founded accusation of racism was the pivot of the slander, turning on the “crime” of wearing a “MAGA” cap with all the agit prop accusations loaded unto that thought-crime by irresponsible political, media and online agitators. This is of course also a case of the trifecta fallacy. Doubtless, this case will go to cycles of appeals, likely ending up at the supreme court. That is, it will cost millions, so that the dragged out process becomes a further, financial lynching. And if a minor subjected to agit prop media ambush and media amplified defamation in the teeth of exonerating video evidence and opportunity to retract patently false accusations is facing something like this, that is a sign of how broken the system is. KF

    PS: I point out again that a right is a binding moral claim to be protected in a certain regard. So, one may only justly claim a right if one is manifestly in the right. The twisting of rights language and law driven by legal nihilism rooted in undermining the law of our morally governed nature is yet another sign of our awful peril as a civilisation. The ghosts of 800+ millions destroyed in the womb under false colour of law and rights — with another million more each week — are reminding us that blood guilt is the most corrupting influence of all. We are heading over a cliff and democratic freedom is discrediting itself through the agendas of cultural marxism. Ironically, if it comes to a shooting war [it is already at the level of ruinous media amplified agit prop, lawfare and violent street mobs], the cultural marxists will lose but the biggest loss will be liberty. Our only hope is prompt restoration of sound natural law accepted as the foundation of civil law. As a key part of that, some judges will need to face impeachment for contempt of constitution, parliament [or the equivalent] and people.

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: A reminder on sound natural law:

    —Marcus [in de Legibus, introductory remarks,. C1 BC]: . . . the subject of our present discussion . . . comprehends the universal principles of equity and law. In such a discussion therefore on the great moral law of nature, the practice of the civil law can occupy but an insignificant and subordinate station. For according to our idea, we shall have to explain the true nature of moral justice, which is congenial and correspondent [36]with the true nature of man.

    [–> Note, how justice and our built in nature as a morally governed class of creatures are highlighted; thus framing the natural law frame: recognising built-in law that we do not create nor can we repeal, which then frames a sound understanding of justice. Without such an anchor, law inevitably reduces to the sort of ruthless, nihilistic might- and- manipulation- make- “right,”- “truth,”- “knowledge,”- “law”- and- “justice”- etc power struggle and chaos Plato warned against in The Laws Bk X.]

    We shall have to examine those principles of legislation by which all political states should be governed. And last of all, shall we have to speak of those laws and customs which are framed for the use and convenience of particular peoples, which regulate the civic and municipal affairs of the citizens, and which are known by the title of civil laws.

    Quintus [his real-life brother]. —You take a noble view of the subject, my brother, and go to the fountain–head of moral truth, in order to throw light on the whole science of jurisprudence: while those who confine their legal studies to the civil law too often grow less familiar with the arts of justice than with those of litigation.

    Marcus. —Your observation, my Quintus, is not quite correct. It is not so much the science of law that produces litigation, as the ignorance of it, (potius ignoratio juris litigiosa est quam scientia) . . . . With respect to the true principle of justice, many learned men have maintained that it springs from Law. I hardly know if their opinion be not correct, at least, according to their own definition; for “Law (say they) is the highest reason, implanted in nature, which prescribes those things which ought to be done, and forbids the contrary.” This, they think, is apparent from the converse of the proposition; because this same reason, when it [37]is confirmed and established in men’s minds, is the law of all their actions.

    They therefore conceive that the voice of conscience is a law, that moral prudence is a law, whose operation is to urge us to good actions, and restrain us from evil ones. They think, too, that the Greek name for law (NOMOS), which is derived from NEMO, to distribute, implies the very nature of the thing, that is, to give every man his due. [–> this implies a definition of justice as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities] For my part, I imagine that the moral essence of law is better expressed by its Latin name, (lex), which conveys the idea of selection or discrimination. According to the Greeks, therefore, the name of law implies an equitable distribution of goods: according to the Romans, an equitable discrimination between good and evil.

    The true definition of law should, however, include both these characteristics. And this being granted as an almost self–evident proposition, the origin of justice is to be sought in the divine law of eternal and immutable morality. This indeed is the true energy of nature, the very soul and essence of wisdom, the test of virtue and vice.

    This is over 2,000 years old and comes from the pen of one of the all time greats. Why have we forgotten this?

    Other than, we have foolishly turned our backs on God, leading to utter debasement of hearts, minds, lives, governance, law, government, community and civilisation. With ruin patently ahead.

    KF

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let me add Blackstone from 250 years ago — and Blackstone was the standard textbook for law in the USA in and well beyond the founding era:

    Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769)
    Sir William Blackstone

    INTRODUCTION, SECTION 2
    Of the Nature of Laws in General

    . . . [L]aws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is our present business to consider them, denote the rules, not of action in general, but of human action or conduct: that is, the precepts by which man, the noblest of all sublunary beings, a creature endowed with both reason and freewill, is commanded to make use of those faculties in the general regulation of his behavior.

    Man, considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his creator, for he is entirely a dependent being [–> we are contingent creatures under a Creator who as Maximally Great, necessary being, has aseity]. A being, independent of any other, has no rule to pursue, but such as he prescribes to himself [–> notice, aseity, and the implied folly of a contingent creature presuming that responsible rational freedom gives him utter, arbitrary autonomy of action]; but a state of dependence will inevitably oblige the inferior to take the will of him, on whom he depends, as the rule of his conduct: not indeed in every particular, but in all those points wherein his dependence consists. This principle therefore has more or less extent and effect, in proportion as the superiority of the one and the dependence of the other is greater or less, absolute or limited. And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his maker for every thing, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his maker’s will.

    [–> hence, the significance of seeing from our inescapably being under moral government, that we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap. So, it must be bridged, which is only feasible in the root of reality, on pain of Hume’s ungrounded ought: reasoning is-is then poof, ought from nowhere. Coherence demands fusion, only feasible in the world-root source. This requires a necessary being root of reality adequate to support ought. After centuries of vexed debate, there remains just one serious candidate: the inherently good (and so, utterly wise and soundly acting) creator God, a necessary and maximally great being. Thus, one who is framework to any world existing, indeed, its source. Further, one who is worthy of loyalty and of the responsible, reasonable service of doing the good that accords with our evident nature.

    This will of his maker is called the law of nature. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with freewill to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that freewill is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.

    Considering the creator only as a being of infinite power, he was able unquestionably to have prescribed whatever laws he pleased to his creature, man, however unjust or severe. [–> Blackstone, here, errs somewhat in this suggestion, as he does not adequately consider God’s goodness and the moral coherence of his character: God as inherently good will do no evil]

    But as be is also a being of infinite wisdom [–> notice, utterly wise so also inherently good], he has laid down only such laws as were founded in those relations of justice, that existed in the nature of things antecedent to any positive precept. These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the creator himself in all his dispensations conforms; and which he has enabled human reason to discover, so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions. Such among others are these principles: that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, and should render to every one his due; to which three general precepts Justinian1 has reduced the whole doctrine of law. [–> In introductory remarks in the built-in textbook, Institutes, for Corpus Juris Civilis, which in turn echoes Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, and of course Paul, Jesus and Moses on the law of neighbour love.]

    But if the discovery of these first principles of the law of nature depended only upon the due exertion of right reason [–> notice, the implicit duty to reason aright starting with its first principles], and could not otherwise be obtained than by a chain of metaphysical disquisitions, mankind would have wanted some inducement to have quickened their inquiries, and the greater part of the world would have rested content in mental indolence, and ignorance its inseparable companion. As therefore the creator is a being, not only of infinite power, and wisdom, but also of infinite goodness [–> he now draws this out], he has been pleased so to contrive the constitution and frame of humanity, that we should want no other prompter to inquire after and pursue the rule of right, but only our own self-love, that universal principle of action.[–> which is the implicit premise in love neighbour as self] For he has so intimately connected, so inseparably interwoven the laws of eternal justice with the happiness of each individual, that the latter cannot be attained but by observing the former; and, if the former be punctually obeyed, it cannot but induce the latter. In consequence of which mutual connection of justice and human felicity, he has not perplexed the law of nature with a multitude of abstracted rules and precepts, referring merely to the fitness or unfitness of things, as some have vainly surmised; but has graciously reduced the rule of obedience to this one paternal precept, “that man should pursue his own true and substantial happiness.”

    [–> which by definition cannot but be in a community of like creatures, leading to mutual obligations of neighbour-love; note the direct echo in the US DOI, July 4, 1776. However, the lack of balance is a key weak point. By way of rebalancing, for instance, justice is best understood as the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities in the community of the morally governed. Which, in turn, is credibly rooted in the inherently good, utterly wise Creator..]

    This is the foundation of what we call ethics, or natural law. For the several articles into which it is branched in our systems, amount to no more than demonstrating, that this or that action tends to man’s real happiness, and therefore very justly concluding that the performance of it is a part of the law of nature; or, on the other hand, that this or that action is destructive of man’s real happiness, and therefore that the law of nature forbids it.

    This law of nature, being coeval with mankind and dictated by God himself, is of course superior in obligation to any other-It is binding over all the globe in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this: and such of them as are valid derive all their force, and all their authority, mediately or immediately, from this original.

    But in order to apply this to the particular exigencies of each individual, it is still necessary to have recourse to reason; whose office it is to discover, as was before observed, what the law of nature directs in every circumstance of life: by considering, what method will tend the most effectually to our own substantial happiness.

    Let these stand as signposts showing the needless peril we are in as a civilisation.

  18. 18
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    I’m not sure that an economic collapse wouldn’t lead to bad social outcomes (both from your perspective and from mine). All these things intertwine in ways we cannot predict, especially now that cultural change has almost no brakes on it.

    You are, of course, correct. Poverty and desperation have serious societal consequences. But I can’t see women’s and homosexual rights being overly affected. Sure, there may be some who take their frustration on women and homosexuals, but I doubt if financial collapse would result in removing some rights currently afforded women and homosexuals. A shift to a more theocratic government, on the other hand, could result in women and homosexuals losing some of the rights they currently have.

  19. 19
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    A shift to a more theocratic government, on the other hand, could result in women and homosexuals losing some of the rights they currently have.

    It could also result in women and homosexuals ruling the world.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, misdirected. KF

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, the concept of rights needs cogent definition and to be tied to being manifestly in the right. Otherwise rights talk will be taken captive by the powerful but wrong and used to perversely impose evil put in the place of good. The abortion holocaust is case study number one, as in former days slavery and the kidnapping based slave trade were. KF

    PS: I clip a 2700 year old warning to a perverted but complacent society on its way to ruin:

    Isa 5:20 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who call evil good, and good evil;
    Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
    Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
    21 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are wise in their own eyes
    And clever and shrewd in their own sight!
    22 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who are heroes at drinking wine
    And men of strength in mixing intoxicating drinks,
    23 Who justify the wicked and acquit the guilty for a bribe,
    And take away the rights of those who are in the right!

    24 Therefore, as the tongue of fire consumes the stubble [from straw]
    And the dry grass collapses into the flame,
    So their root will become like rot and their blossom blow away like fine dust;
    Because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts
    And despised and discarded the word of the Holy One of Israel. [AMP]

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I remind, as already put on the table above but studiously ignored:

    I point out again that a right is a binding moral claim to be protected in a certain regard. So, one may only justly claim a right if one is manifestly in the right. The twisting of rights language and law driven by legal nihilism rooted in undermining the law of our morally governed nature is yet another sign of our awful peril as a civilisation. The ghosts of 800+ millions destroyed in the womb under false colour of law and rights — with another million more each week — are reminding us that blood guilt is the most corrupting influence of all. We are heading over a cliff and democratic freedom is discrediting itself through the agendas of cultural marxism. Ironically, if it comes to a shooting war [it is already at the level of ruinous media amplified agit prop, lawfare and violent street mobs], the cultural marxists will lose but the biggest loss will be liberty. Our only hope is prompt restoration of sound natural law accepted as the foundation of civil law. As a key part of that, some judges will need to face impeachment for contempt of constitution, parliament [or the equivalent] and people.

    KF

  23. 23
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    F/N: I remind, as already put on the table above but studiously ignored:

    There wasn’t anything to ignore. Rights are whatever society decides they are. Throughout history they have been granted, removed and suspended. You may not like the right of women to choose, or the right of homosexuals to marry, or the lack of the right for a vendor to deny services due to the sexual orientation of the customer, or the right for transgender to use the bathroom of their choice, but in many jurisdictions society has granted these rights. And, frankly, I support all of these rights. But that doesn’t mean that these rights can’t be taken away. Society can be fickle that way.

    You are demanding absolutes, absolute right or absolutely wrong. But the problem with this is that people often disagree on what is right and what is wrong.

  24. 24
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    You may not like the right of women to choose,…

    LoL! Women can choose BEFORE having sex. Once they are pregnant it is no longer just their body.

    or the right of homosexuals to marry

    There isn’t any such right. Look in the US Constitution. It isn’t there.

  25. 25
    EDTA says:

    When a society collapses and the people demand order–and the government is more than happy to enforce that, _anything_ can happen. The potential for rapid social change is, by definition, instability.

  26. 26
    Brother Brian says:

    EDTA

    The potential for rapid social change is, by definition, instability.

    I don’t think that anyone is disputing that, but this potential for instability is no reason to avoid social change. The revolution resulted in huge social change and high levels of instability, but I think we all agree that it was worth while. Ending slavery, another rapid social change, resulted in years of instability. The equal rights fights in the sixties invoked rapid social change and instability.

    All I am saying is that the risk of instability should never be used as the primary justification to avoid social change. Homosexual rights resulted in sexual attraction no longer being grounds for denied employment, denied opportunities or denied access to services. This was a relatively rapid social change and has resulted in instability for those who believe that their religious beliefs give them the right to deny services to homosexuals.

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    do you realise what you have said and implied in claiming “Rights are whatever society decides they are”?

    For one, you have just admitted to the utter nihilism of cultural relativism, under which instantly the one who stands up and cries out against injustice — simply because he is a dissenter — is automatically in the wrong. Yes, a Marcus Garvey or a Martin Luther King or a Ghandi or a Mother Teresa or even a Jesus of Nazareth are automatically in the wrong, until they wrest power and can in turn impose their will on the society.

    On which, suddenly, they are right. As, automatically Hitler was right (until he was defeated) or Stalin was right (until he was denounced, post mortem), and more.

    The absurdity is patent, and was warned against by Plato in The Laws, Bk X 2360 years ago:

    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].

    Evolutionary materialism is manifestly absurd.

    Let us wake up and turn from it before it is too late.

    KF

    I draw to your attention

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: This textbook’s analysis may help us do the necessary rethinking:

    Excerpted chapter summary, on Subjectivism, Relativism, and Emotivism, in Doing Ethics 3rd Edn, by Lewis Vaughn, W W Norton, 2012. [Also see here and here.] Clipping:

    . . . Subjective relativism is the view that an action is morally right if one approves of it. A person’s approval makes the action right. This doctrine (as well as cultural relativism) is in stark contrast to moral objectivism, the view that some moral principles are valid for everyone.. Subjective relativism, though, has some troubling implications. It implies that each person is morally infallible and that individuals can never have a genuine moral disagreement

    Cultural relativism is the view that an action is morally right if one’s culture approves of it. The argument for this doctrine is based on the diversity of moral judgments among cultures: because people’s judgments about right and wrong differ from culture to culture, right and wrong must be relative to culture, and there are no objective moral principles. This argument is defective, however, because the diversity of moral views does not imply that morality is relative to cultures. In addition, the alleged diversity of basic moral standards among cultures may be only apparent, not real. Societies whose moral judgments conflict may be differing not over moral principles but over nonmoral facts.

    Some think that tolerance is entailed by cultural relativism. But there is no necessary connection between tolerance and the doctrine. Indeed, the cultural relativist cannot consistently advocate tolerance while maintaining his relativist standpoint. To advocate tolerance is to advocate an objective moral value. But if tolerance is an objective moral value, then cultural relativism must be false, because it says that there are no objective moral values.

    Like subjective relativism, cultural relativism has some disturbing consequences. It implies that cultures are morally infallible, that social reformers can never be morally right, that moral disagreements between individuals in the same culture amount to arguments over whether they disagree with their culture, that other cultures cannot be legitimately criticized, and that moral progress is impossible.

    Emotivism is the view that moral utterances are neither true nor false but are expressions of emotions or attitudes. It leads to the conclusion that people can disagree only in attitude, not in beliefs. People cannot disagree over the moral facts, because there are no moral facts. Emotivism also implies that presenting reasons in support of a moral utterance is a matter of offering nonmoral facts that can influence someone’s attitude. It seems that any nonmoral facts will do, as long as they affect attitudes. Perhaps the most far-reaching implication of emotivism is that nothing is actually good or bad. There simply are no properties of goodness and badness. There is only the expression of favorable or unfavorable emotions or attitudes toward something.

  29. 29
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    For one, you have just admitted to the utter nihilism of cultural relativism, under which instantly the one who stands up and cries out against injustice — simply because he is a dissenter — is automatically in the wrong. Yes, a Marcus Garvey or a Martin Luther King or a Ghandi or a Mother Teresa or even a Jesus of Nazareth are automatically in the wrong, until they wrest power and can in turn impose their will on the society.

    Sounds pretty much like all of recorded human history.

    For much of human history, and supported in the bible, slavery was not considered to be wrong. For much of recorded history, striking your wife (within reason), and even raping her, was not considered wrong. For much of history, persecution and prosecution of homosexuals was not considered wrong. For much of history, interracial and interfaith marriages were considered wrong. The right and wrong of all of these things changed over the years. And there is no reason to believe that the right and wrong of these may not change again.

    Whether you like it or not, society determines what is right and wrong. You may be opposed to the consequences of this but all you have proposed as an alternative is some poorly defined objective right and wrong. Which sounds great. Until you realize that it still falls on society to come to consensus on what these objective rights and wrongs are.

  30. 30
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I must observe that manifestly there can be no right to slaughter 800 – 1400+ millions of our living posterity in the womb, mounting up at another million per week, not even under the bewitching power of slogans such as a claimed ‘right to choose’ — notice, how the substance of that choice to kill is usually suppressed.

    But, we already saw where that comes from, an absurdity.

    As was just inadvertently exposed and has therefore been challenged.

    As to marriage, no-one has a RIGHT to marry, as no-one has any duty to another person to enter into a lifelong covenant of life partnership, conjugal union and procreation towards the next generation.

    Marriage is a freedom under the law of our nature to take up a solemn responsibility, one shaped by our biology as male and female partners in reproduction and as parental partners in child nurture.

    Of course, those caught up in absurdities as we have seen will want to kidnap the language of rights and hold hostage the powers of law, claiming an “equality” that is manifestly not there despite its obvious ruinous consequences which are already playing out, such as disintegration of sense of biological identity and more.

    Of course, those who imagine ‘rights,’ ‘truth,’ ‘the right,’ ‘justice,’ ‘knowledge,’ ‘sex’ (oops, ‘gender’ — 112 varieties at last count), ‘law,’ ‘morality,’ ‘marriage,’ ‘conscience’ and more — are to be pushed and pulled as those who have or seize power in a society please are busily trying to impose absurdities and wrongs under false colour of being right and law. But all that proves is that nihilism is absurd and absurdly dangerous.

    It is high time to heed the voice of the in-built laws of our nature that we did not write nor do we have power to amend; we can only defy to our sad cost.

    And, for those of us who have become caught up in absurdities, wrongs, perversities and evils, we are in an existential challenge. One where any direction we go, there will be great pain. Let us turn from the road of ruin before it is too late.

    KF

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, your unresponsiveness to exposed and corrected absurdity is a bad sign. I suggest, you take time to pause and think again. Let me clip a core part of the textbook’s observations:

    Like subjective relativism, cultural relativism has some disturbing consequences. It implies that cultures are morally infallible, that social reformers can never be morally right, that moral disagreements between individuals in the same culture amount to arguments over whether they disagree with their culture, that other cultures cannot be legitimately criticized, and that moral progress is impossible.

    KF

  32. 32
    Brother Brian says:

    KF, you are invoking the fallacy of consequences. If X is true the consequences are unthinkable. But what are the consequences if right and wrong is societally subjective and not objective? We could have things like slavery, institutional racism, child labour, the holocaust, abortion on demand, the persecution of homosexuals, same sex marriage, legalized spousal abuse, child sacrifice, etc. Etc. Well, guess what? We have had all of these.

    You may not like the consequences of right and wrong being societally subjective, but pretending that this is not true is just believing the illusion you repeatedly talk about in Plato’s cave. I prefer to acknowledge reality and strive to develop a society that is best for all.

  33. 33
    EDTA says:

    BB,

    KF has made many good points here, and I don’t think you’ve been following them to their logical conclusion. You have argued that right and wrong are societally defined, because it is society that has to enforce them, and so on. This works when society is favoring something, and you are also favoring it. But regarding an issue where you think society still has a ways to go, wouldn’t you be championing the next goal? I get the impression you would. But then you aren’t following society anymore.

    I’m not able to identify your core principles on morality in general. Can you clarify them?

  34. 34
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    You may not like the consequences of right and wrong being societally subjective…

    That is the reason we are in peril.

  35. 35
    EDTA says:

    BB,
    >Until you realize that it still falls on society to come to consensus on what these objective rights and wrongs are.

    You’re not quite seeing it from a theistic point of view yet. Reaching consensus is not what needs to happen if there is a God who defines right and wrong. What is needed is for us to realize what those definitions are. That’s not a strictly human activity where we have to negotiate with each other to reach some central point of consensus. Because of this point-of-view difference, your criticisms of our position are not actually hitting our nail on the head.

    (Of course I realize there are problems with the theistic solution also, emanating from our human selfishness and finiteness, which prevent us from all homing in on that single definition. But that doesn’t mean that the transcendent standard doesn’t exist; merely that we have difficulty apprehending it. That’s why we don’t buy arguments of the form, “there can’t be one standard because we have so many down here.”)

  36. 36
    Brother Brian says:

    EDTA

    But regarding an issue where you think society still has a ways to go, wouldn’t you be championing the next goal? I get the impression you would. But then you aren’t following society anymore.

    Of course there are things in society I disagree with. And I take steps to try to change things. Society has never been about 100% agreement. But I, like most, make compromises when we think it is in everyone’s best interest. Our moral agreements have always been a shifting landscape. Abortion is a great example. Pro choice has hovered around the 50% mark for decades. The legal aspects may shift back and forth as governments change, but I really don’t see the 50% number changing any time soon.

    Another example is same sex marriage. When I was young the vast majority would have been against it. As times changed, more and more people have supported it (or more accurately, not opposed it). The latest polls on the subject are strongly skewed towards being in favour of it. As it becomes more and more accepted, and more and more people come to know same sex couples, those supporting it will only increase.

  37. 37
    Brother Brian says:

    EDTA

    You’re not quite seeing it from a theistic point of view yet. Reaching consensus is not what needs to happen if there is a God who defines right and wrong.

    I understand the theistic perspective, I just don’t see how it differs from the societally subjective perspective. You claim that God is the arbiter of right and wrong. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if he were good at communicating this to everyone. Which he isn’t.

    For example, there is somewhere in the bible where it talks about when a slave owner should be punished and when he shouldn’t be punished after beating his slave. I don’t remember the exact words but they were very specific. So, according to this theistic text, it is not only acceptable to own another person, but it is also OK to beat them. Obviously society has since overruled God on this. Was society right or wrong to do so?

  38. 38
    ET says:

    Pro choice has hovered around the 50% mark for decades.

    99% of them are only OK with it because they don’t think life starts at conception.

    Another example is same sex marriage.

    It makes me wonder where society will draw the line. Is this why you want to be a great ape?

  39. 39
    EDTA says:

    BB,
    >I understand the theistic perspective, I just don’t see how it differs from the societally subjective perspective.

    I understand how it differs. I’m trying to (gradually) explain it.

    My earlier question was whether you could explain where your moral views are grounded. You not completely a cultural relativist, because you seem to be saying your views on same-sex marriage would always have been “pro”, even when most in society were not in favor. But you can’t be an absolutist or an objectivist without having a source for such things.

    >You claim that God is the arbiter of right and wrong. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if he were good at communicating this to everyone. Which he isn’t.

    Or are we not very good at receiving it? I have pointed out that possibility, and that makes good sense if we are the inferior of the two parties here. In fact, if we are the inferior of the two parties, then we cannot be the final judges of whether he is a good communicator or not.

  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, a reduction to absurdity is not a mere appeal to consequences of established truth. What we are seeing just above is yet another way that relativism manifests its incoherence. Likewise, in arguing above, you are either appealing to or manipulatively exploiting our knowledge of duty to truth, right reason, prudence, sound conscience, justice (so, rights) etc. If you are merely manipulating, that is nihilistic. If you are appealing, you imply what you have tried to deny: moral government resting on objective principles. Likewise, the appeal to rights (thus, justice) — as was already pointed out — is an inherently moral claim. Such can only be justified based on being manifestly in the right. Subjectivism, emotivism and relativism collapse in absurdity as claimed bases for morality. This leaves on the table an actually sound account, that by our built-in nature we are inescapably under moral government, starting with our intellectual capabilities. This reflects a built-in law of our nature that we did not invent nor can we amend. In turn, such is one of the signs pointing to the nature of the root of reality, the inherently good and utterly wise. KF

    PS: I see you are now trying the Bible verse out of context appeal. I suggest, you will find in Matt 19, a discussion on regulation of society i/l/o the hardness of hearts, contrasted with the proper creation order. In the context, in Malachi 2:16, you will see a direct declaration: I hate divorce. This extends to ever so many other cases, where a greater achievable good leads to regulating what is an evil (think here of rum shops and the like i/l/o consequences of futile idealistic laws such as prohibition). The deeper answer is that the heart-softening influence of gospel ethics, in good time, leads to soundly rooted, widely supported, enforceable reforms. Apply to abortion. Pro life early pregnancy restrictions were put in place when the facts of conception became better known in C19. (This was influenced not only by advances of science but also 150 years of revivals and reforms energised thereby with Wilberforce a key name. As that wellspring has been marginalised, it is no wonder that hearts have been increasingly hardened and warped. Thus, holocaust under false colour of law.)

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    EDTA, BB’s declaration above is a direct statement of cultural relativism, and is consistent with consequences of his known evolutionary materialism, as was already pointed out c 360 BC by Plato. KF

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Let me note on a sounder foundation:

    We may elaborate on Paul, Locke, Hooker and Aristotle, laying out several manifestly evident and historically widely acknowledged core moral principles; for which the attempted denial is instantly and patently absurd for most people — that is, they are arguably self-evident (thus, warranted and objective) moral truths; not just optional opinions.

    So also, it is not only possible to

    (a) be in demonstrable moral error, but also

    (b) there is hope that such moral errors can be corrected by appealing to manifestly sound core principles of the natural moral law.

    For instance:

    1] The first self evident moral truth is that we are inescapably under the government of ought.

    (This is manifest in even an objector’s implication in the questions, challenges and arguments that s/he would advance, that we are in the wrong and there is something to be avoided about that. That is, even the objector inadvertently implies that we OUGHT to do, think, aim for and say the right. Not even the hyperskeptical objector can escape this truth. Patent absurdity on attempted denial.)

    2] Second self evident truth, we discern that some things are right and others are wrong by a compass-sense we term conscience which guides our thought. (Again, objectors depend on a sense of guilt/ urgency to be right not wrong on our part to give their points persuasive force. See what would be undermined should conscience be deadened or dismissed universally? Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit.)

    3] Third, were this sense of conscience and linked sense that we can make responsibly free, rational decisions to be a delusion, we would at once descend into a status of grand delusion in which there is no good ground for confidence in our self-understanding. (That is, we look at an infinite regress of Plato’s cave worlds: once such a principle of grand global delusion is injected, there is no firewall so the perception of level one delusion is subject to the same issue, and this level two perception too, ad infinitum; landing in patent absurdity.)

    4] Fourth, we are objectively under obligation of OUGHT. That is, despite any particular person’s (or group’s or august council’s or majority’s) wishes or claims to the contrary, such obligation credibly holds to moral certainty. That is, it would be irresponsible, foolish and unwise for us to act and try to live otherwise.

    5] Fifth, this cumulative framework of moral government under OUGHT is the basis for the manifest core principles of the natural moral law under which we find ourselves obligated to the right the good, the true etc. Where also, patently, we struggle to live up to what we acknowledge or imply we ought to do.

    6] Sixth, this means we live in a world in which being under core, generally understood principles of natural moral law is coherent and factually adequate, thus calling for a world-understanding in which OUGHT is properly grounded at root level. (Thus worldviews that can soundly meet this test are the only truly viable ones. If a worldview does not have in it a world-root level IS that can simultaneously ground OUGHT — so that IS and OUGHT are inextricably fused at that level, it fails decisively.*)

    7] Seventh, in light of the above, even the weakest and most voiceless of us thus has a natural right to life, liberty, the pursuit of fulfillment of one’s sense of what s/he ought to be (“happiness”). This includes the young child, the unborn and more. (We see here the concept that rights are binding moral expectations of others to provide respect in regards to us because of our inherent status as human beings, members of the community of valuable neighbours. Where also who is my neighbour was forever answered by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Likewise, there can be no right to demand of or compel my neighbour that s/he upholds me and enables me in the wrong — including under false colour of law through lawfare; usurping the sword of justice to impose a ruthless policy agenda in fundamental breach of that civil peace which must ever pivot on manifest justice. To justly claim a right, one must first be in the right.)

    8] Eighth, like unto the seventh, such may only be circumscribed or limited for good cause. Such as, reciprocal obligation to cherish and not harm neighbour of equal, equally valuable nature in community and in the wider world of the common brotherhood of humanity.

    9] Ninth, this is the context in which it becomes self evidently wrong, wicked and evil to kidnap, sexually torture and murder a young child or the like as concrete cases in point that show that might and/or manipulation do not make ‘right,’ ‘truth,’ ‘worth,’ ‘justice,’ ‘fairness,’ ‘law’ etc. That is, anything that expresses or implies the nihilist’s credo is morally absurd.

    10] Tenth, this entails that in civil society with government, justice is a principal task of legitimate government. In short, nihilistic will to power untempered by the primacy of justice is its own refutation in any type of state. Where, justice is the due balance of rights, freedoms and responsibilities. (In Aristotle’s terms as cited by Hooker: “because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like .”) Thus also,

    11] Eleventh, that government is and ought to be subject to audit, reformation and if necessary replacement should it fail sufficiently badly and incorrigibly.

    (NB: This is a requisite of accountability for justice, and the suggestion or implication of some views across time, that government can reasonably be unaccountable to the governed, is its own refutation, reflecting — again — nihilistic will to power; which is automatically absurd. This truth involves the issue that finite, fallible, morally struggling men acting as civil authorities in the face of changing times and situations as well as in the face of the tendency of power to corrupt, need to be open to remonstrance and reformation — or if they become resistant to reasonable appeal, there must be effective means of replacement. Hence, the principle that the general election is an insitutionalised regular solemn assembly of the people for audit and reform or if needs be replacement of government gone bad. But this is by no means an endorsement of the notion that a manipulated mob bent on a march of folly has a right to do as it pleases.)

    12] Twelfth, the attempt to deny or dismiss such a general framework of moral governance invariably lands in shipwreck of incoherence and absurdity. As, has been seen in outline. But that does not mean that the attempt is not going to be made, so there is a mutual obligation of frank and fair correction and restraint of evil.
    _________________

    * F/N: After centuries of debates and assessment of alternatives per comparative difficulties, there is in fact just one serious candidate to be such a grounding IS: the inherently good creator God, a necessary and maximally great being worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. (And instantly, such generic ethical theism answers also to the accusation oh this is “religion”; that term being used as a dirty word — no, this is philosophy. If you doubt this, simply put forth a different candidate that meets the required criteria and passes the comparative difficulties test: _________ . Likewise, an inherently good, maximally great being will not be arbitrary or deceitful etc, that is why such is fully worthy of ultimate loyalty and the reasonable, responsible service of doing the good in accord with our manifestly evident nature. As a serious candidate necessary being, such would be eternal and embedded in the frame for a world to exist at all. Thus such a candidate is either impossible as a square circle is impossible due to mutual ruin of core characteristics, or else it is actual. For simple instance no world is possible without two-ness in it, a necessary basis for distinct identity inter alia.

    F/N2: Likewise, as Ben Mines summarises from Leibniz, maximal goodness, wisdom and power are arguably mutually, inextricably entangled once we understand/accept that the good implies an evident proper end or purpose:

    Leibniz has given an argument to show that omniscience and moral perfection [–> also, omnipotence] are mutually inclusive: all freely willed action strives towards some goal; all goals are the pursuit of some good entertained by the agent; [ –> real or imagined?] the scope and quality of entertainable goods is dependent on knowledge; the maximisation of knowledge perfects an agent’s judgment of the good. An evil being therefore lacks perfect knowledge; and lacking perfect knowledge, is not omniscient; and lacking omniscience, cannot be omnipotent since there will be some actions it lacks the knowledge to perform. The proposition, It is possible that a maximally great but evil being exists is therefore broadly incoherent. A being cannot be both evil and maximally great.

    Food for thought,

    KF

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    do you or do you not have a rational mind embedding a conscience that guides it?

    Is it or is it not the case that such is a widely recognised phenomenon?

    Those are already strong and clear witnesses, though of course they can be distorted and warped.

    Let me refresh your memory on the perspicuity of core morality — a clarity that has to be obscured for evils to prevail under false colour of being good. Yes, Locke’s quote from Hooker in Ch 2 of his 2nd treatise on civil government . . . and if you do not know about this or are inclined to distort it, those are signs of what is really going on:

    [2nd Treatise on Civil Gov’t, Ch 2 sec. 5:] . . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man’s hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [This directly echoes St. Paul in Rom 2: “14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them . . . “ and 13: “9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law . . . “ Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:]

    . . . as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [Eccl. Polity, preface, Bk I, “ch.” 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.] [Augmented citation, Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5. ]

    Natural, morally governed reason, if not frustrated, is already a compass-needle testifying to the in-built law of our nature. As the prosecutors at Nuremberg pointed out, did you really need to have a statute to know that murder is wrong? (And yes, the sobering history of the Fascist, Nazi and Communist regimes over the past 100 years is a reminder on all of this.)

    But, compasses can be dulled, bent, broken or misled. Here is a classic remark on the subject:

    Eph 4:17 So this I say, and solemnly affirm together with the Lord [as in His presence], that you must no longer live as the [unbelieving] Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds [and in the foolishness and emptiness of their souls], 18 for their [moral] understanding is darkened and their reasoning is clouded; [they are] alienated and self-banished from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the [willful] ignorance and spiritual blindness that is [deep-seated] within them, because of the hardness and insensitivity of their heart.

    19 And they, [the ungodly in their spiritual apathy], having become callous and unfeeling, have given themselves over [as prey] to unbridled sensuality, eagerly craving the practice of every kind of impurity [that their desires may demand].

    20 But you did not learn Christ in this way!

    21 If in fact you have [really] heard Him and have been taught by Him, just as truth is in Jesus [revealed in His life and personified in Him], 22 that, regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, 23 and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], 24 and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]. [AMP]

    In short, a culture can move to a point where it so gives itself over to its lusts, perversities, addictions to habituating evils and to associated worldview level falsehoods that typical members of such a community have dulled, warped, distorted or even — in extreme cases — silenced consciences, thus marginalising the governing voice of morally tinged truth and in-built natural law.

    We actually have a term for the state of having a silenced conscience: becoming a sociopath. There is even a dark triad scale (SD3) (also, see the “dirty dozen” scale) that jointly measures narcissism, highly machiavellian tendencies and degree of sociopathy.

    The mere fact that such has had to be popularly discussed and is even a routine part of organisational behaviour courses is diagnostic of where our angrily radically secularised civilisation is. The further fact of decades spent enabling the holocaust of our living posterity in the womb under false colour of law, with 800 – 1400 million victims and a further million more per week is a further indictment. Nor is it an accident that the 2019 annual march for life was targetted for an agit-prop, media amplified racist smear and that the first judge to hear the defamation of minors case has tried to dismiss it on a flimsy excuse. Indeed, this tidal wave of blood guilt in my view is the central corrosive evil of our time. Many other evils are recognisably metastases of it.

    This pattern is why we are dancing heedlessly on the crumbling edge of a cliff, refusing to hear much less heed due warnings.

    So, no, projecting blame to God for our willfully dulled, warped or silenced consciences fails. The fault is ours, not his. And indeed, we have been this way before. Pagan Rome (as Schaeffer points out in the vid that leads the OP) was in a very similar condition.

    Let us wake up to our peril and turn back before it is too late and the cliff’s edge crumbles underfoot.

    KF

    PS: The dirty dozen questions:

    1. I tend to manipulate others to get my way.
    2. I have used deceit or lied to get my way.
    3. I have used flattery to get my way.
    4. I tend to exploit others towards my own end.
    5. I tend to lack remorse.
    6. I tend to not be too concerned with morality
    or the morality of my actions.
    7. I tend to be callous or insensitive.
    8. I tend to be cynical.
    9. I tend to want others to admire me.
    10. I tend to want others to pay attention to me.
    11. I tend to seek prestige or status.
    12. I tend to expect special favors from others.

  44. 44
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    EDTA, BB’s declaration above is a direct statement of cultural relativism, and is consistent with consequences of his known evolutionary materialism, as was already pointed out c 360 BC by Plato. KF

    Again, you are arguing from the fallacy of consequences. Has it escaped your senses that all of the consequences of subjective morality that you repeatedly warn about is fully supported by all of human history? You can bury your head in the sand and pretend that it isn’t so, but that gets us nowhere.

  45. 45
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    PS: I see you are now trying the Bible verse out of context appeal.

    What context makes it right to own another human, and because you own that human makes it right for you to beat that human without consequences.

    The context of the discussion was that right and wrong are not relative, they never change. But obviously, in the case of the bible and our interpretation of it, right and wrong have changed.

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, you are trying to re-label reductio ad absurdum as a fallacious appeal to consequences, which fails. First, it has been satisfactorily shown that rationality itself is inescapably morally governed through duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc. In that context what undermines moral government undermines rationality and is inevitably self-referentially incoherent and self falsifying. The relativism you advocated would reduce truth, right reason, the right, rights, knowledge, justice and far more to the imposition of power; it is the same problem of evolutionary materialism that Plato pointed out in The Laws c 360 BC. We have far more reason to be confident in rationality and in its moral government than in a relativism that seeks to subvert and undermine while inescapably appealing to what it would overthrow. You would be well advised to do likewise and walk away from the self referential absurdity of such relativism. KF

  47. 47
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Your attempts to argue against the Bible, appealing to the right in respect of slavery simply illustrates the point: you must appeal to what you would subvert, which points to its being undeniably true. Your further failure to engage with the issue of hardness of heart, reformation and regulation of social evils in the meanwhile also speaks. This is a key lesson that radical revolutionaries failed to learn over the past 250 years and it is part of what led to reigns of terror driven by escalating extremism. Contrast Wilberforce and Robespierre, asking yourself why one is remembered as a transformative philanthropist and the other is justly deemed a misanthrope.

  48. 48
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: The inscription on Wilberforce’s statue in Westminster Abbey, erected 1840:

    To the memory of William Wilberforce (born in Hull, August 24th 1759, died in London, July 29th 1833); for nearly half a century a member of the House of Commons, and, for six parliaments during that period, one of the two representatives for Yorkshire. In an age and country fertile in great and good men, he was among the foremost of those who fixed the character of their times; because to high and various talents, to warm benevolence, and to universal candour, he added the abiding eloquence of a Christian life. Eminent as he was in every department of public labour, and a leader in every work of charity, whether to relieve the temporal or the spiritual wants of his fellow-men, his name will ever be specially identified with those exertions which, by the blessing of God, removed from England the guilt of the African slave trade, and prepared the way for the abolition of slavery in every colony of the empire: in the prosecution of these objects he relied, not in vain, on God; but in the progress he was called to endure great obloquy and great opposition: he outlived, however, all enmity; and in the evening of his days, withdrew from public life and public observation to the bosom of his family. Yet he died not unnoticed or forgotten by his country: the Peers and Commons of England, with the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker at their head, in solemn procession from their respective houses, carried him to his fitting place among the mighty dead around, here to repose: till, through the merits of Jesus Christ, his only redeemer and saviour, (whom, in his life and in his writings he had desired to glorify,) he shall rise in the resurrection of the just.

  49. 49
    ET says:

    What context makes it right to own another human, and because you own that human makes it right for you to beat that human without consequences?

    Crimes against you and humanity. Prisons are full of people who are owned by the State.

  50. 50
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    First, it has been satisfactorily shown that rationality itself is inescapably morally governed through duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc.

    No it has not. Rationality informs our moral values. It is not governed by them.

    Your attempts to argue against the Bible, appealing to the right in respect of slavery simply illustrates the point: you must appeal to what you would subvert, which points to its being undeniably true.

    Now you are guilty of the assign motives fallacy. I use examples from the bible when discussing morality because it is a fairly accurate record of what the reigning moral values of the day were. And, by comparing to our current moral values, demonstrating that they have changed o we time. Unless, of course, you think it is morally right to beat your slave as long as he doesn’t die.

  51. 51
    john_a_designer says:

    How can you have an honest discussion or debate about morality and ethics with someone who has no obligation to be honest?

    Most of our regular interlocutors describe themselves as moral relativists or subjectivists. Moral subjectivists don’t believe in moral obligations because moral obligations require real moral standards. So how can they be trusted to be honest?

    They rationalize that in a democracy they can reach a consensus but how can you reach a consensus when there is no standard to judge which arbitrary moral ideas are right or wrong, or distinguish between good, bad, better or best?

    Human rights are moral obligations writ large. In other words, human rights must be universal and morally binding across cultures and throughout history. They cannot exist under a worldview which embraces moral relativism or subjectivism.

    Your being played kf by an incorrigible self-righteous egotist who is motivated by intolerance for anyone who accepts traditional time tested moral values grounded in natural moral law.

    Whatever happened to UD’s standards? It’s time to start telling certain individuals where to go– Somewhere else.

  52. 52
    Brother Brian says:

    Jad

    How can you have an honest discussion or debate about morality and ethics with someone who has no obligation to be honest?

    I have an obligation to myself, my family, my friends and our desire to live within a society, to be honest. That is something that was “beaten” into me by my parents and teachers as a kid, and continually reinforced throughout my life. Why you would need some supernatural being to tell you this is a mystery.

    Moral subjectivists don’t believe in moral obligations because moral obligations require real moral standards. So how can they be trusted to be honest?

    Of course we believe in moral obligations. Standards can be subjective and consensus based. In fact, an internationally respected organization (ISO) that makes its living developing consensus standards.

  53. 53
    ET says:

    Rationality informs our moral values.

    That was from an irrational person. So how would that person know?

  54. 54
    ET says:

    I have an obligation to myself, my family, my friends and our desire to live within a society, to be honest.

    Baloney. There isn’t any such obligation. If evolutionism is true then your only obligation is to survive, reproduce and perhaps help your family do the same- by any means possible.

    In fact, an internationally respected organization (ISO) that makes its living developing consensus standards.

    Not when it comes to how to properly live your life.

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:

    PPPS to 46: Helene Guerber in her Story of Modern France, recalls Robespierre:

    . . . since the Republic had been declared, even worship had undergone sundry changes. Still, the Goddess of Reason did not long maintain her fantastic sway, and when Hebert, the author of this cult, ceased to be popular, he, too, was guillotined, after being jeered at by the people for the cowardice he displayed. Robespierre, who was now the controlling spirit of the Revolution, carried through a decree that the people should henceforth worship the Supreme Being.”

    On June 8, therefore, the Parisians assembled on the Field of Mars, to see Robespierre in a sky-blue coat, bearing flowers, fruit, and grain in his hand, officiate as high priest, after announcing, “To-day let us enjoy ourselves, to-morrow begin afresh to fight the enemies of the Republic.” His main weapon for fighting French foes was the guillotine, which, for the first time in many months, stood idle for a whole day, shrouded in festive purple hangings! But it was by means of the “Holy Guillotine”—as it was sacrilegiously called—that the Republic now coined money, the property of all victims being confiscated for the benefit of the state. The “Supreme Being” ceremonies, arranged by the painter David, proved very stagy, for they concluded with the public burning of two straw figures, “Atheism” and “Egotism,” out of which, at a signal from Robespierre, arose “Wisdom,” badly blackened by the smoke!

    Robespierre, “more despotic than any Bourbon,” proved the most bloodthirsty of all the Revolutionary leaders, for he made such changes in the Revolutionary Tribunal that nearly every prisoner tried was quickly condemned to death . . . .

    one month after winning the battle of Fleurus (1794), the Convention, feeling it could no longer stand Robespierre’s tyranny, had him arrested with his brother and principal helpers. In the Convention Robespierre argued and defended himself, until he fairly choked, when a man in the background cried out tauntingly, “It is the blood of Danton which chokes you!” This tragic reminder of the way in which Robespierre had abandoned a former ally, decided his fate . . . . Over Robespierre’s grave was found one day the following inscription, expressing a great deal of truth:—

    “Lament not, that I lie in my last bed, For, were I living, friend, you would be dead.”

    The death of Robespierre marks the end of the Reign of Terror in Paris, during which nearly 3000 persons had been guillotined.

    In his own words, in Report on the Principles of Political Morality, February 5th 1794:

    If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during a revolution is virtue combined with terror: virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country . . . The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.

    Again replying to Danton’s plea for an end to the Terror:

    The theory of the revolutionary government is as new as the revolution that created it. We must not look for it in the books of political writers, who have not foreseen this revolution [–> thus, he locked out the sobering lessons of history], nor in the laws of tyrants who, content to abuse their power, do little to seek its legitimacy . . . the Government has to defend itself . . . to the enemies of the people it owes only death.

    The absurdities and nihilism obviously escaped him.

    This sickening pattern, of course, has played out again and again and again since the 1790’s; costing well over 100 million their lives in the past 100 years.

    Contrast, the US DoI, 1776:

    When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 – 21, 2:14 – 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .

    While the American Revolution had many flaws, excesses and compromises with entrenched evils (and was itself viewed by the American leaders as a scourge brought on by the sins of both the Colonists and the Motherland), it did not collapse into a Terror. Of course, later, hard hearted intransigence and polarisation in reaction to needed reform led to a needless civil war that cost 600,000 their lives.

    Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is a sobering lesson, drawn by a soul anguished by the scourge of a strictly needless and bloody, brutally costly war brought on by our darker passions:

    . . . On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

    One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

    With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

    We have much that we yet need to learn.

    [–> Delayed, power cut]

  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:

    BB,

    I am between two duties, so I will briefly snip and comment on what particularly caught my eye on a quick glance:

    [KF:] First, it has been satisfactorily shown that rationality itself is inescapably morally governed through duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc.

    [BB:] No it has not. Rationality informs our moral values. It is not governed by them.

    Even to object, you are forced to implicitly acknowledge the governing power of — not our mere “values” — but out plain DUTIES to the truth, to right reason, to prudence (implying warrant), to sound conscience, to justice etc. This is yet another illustration of the force of undeniable first principles, here the governing principles that rule the life of reason.

    What becomes interesting is why do you find it so hard to acknowledge the self-evident, manifest even in the structure of your own objections.

    The answer comes back, because it cuts across deep worldview and cultural agenda commitments, so you find yourself clinging to a crooked yardstick posed as standard of straight, upright and accurate, even as the message of the plumb line is plain, the crooked yardstick has failed.

    Further to this, of course lies the issue that our rationality inescapably operates on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap (which you have sharply objected to earlier) , which therefore must be bridged. That points to the only place, post Hume, where that is possible — on pain of ungrounded ought. The world root.

    Where, the world root must not just be causally adequate to a physical world that can have computational entities, but it must ground responsibly rationally free morally governed minds. That points to its being necessary, necessarily inherently good and utterly wise.

    Very familiar characteristics, which cut clean across the confident manner rhetoric of atheism as default and the like.

    Where, again, cultural relativism as root of moral government and principles has been exposed as utterly absurd, reducing to the nihilism of power.

    Listen to the ghost of Robespierre.

    KF

  57. 57
    kairosfocus says:

    JaD, the exposing of the self referential incoherence and reduction to the absurdities of nihilism are themselves important results. We can say this all we want, it is the actual from the horse’s mouth admission and the implications that have been a major contribution to progress. So, even though he did not intend the gift or the service, BB has done something for the good in the end. KF

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: ISO, is an international expression of the justice principle of fair weights and measures. Again, inescapably morally governed. KF

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