November 13th, 2012


Rendering Unto Caesar: Vectors of Corruption

During a discussion of US intervention in Southeast Asia, one of our students made the observation that where the US military goes, corruption follows. Another student raised the objection that corruption existed in Vietnam before American involvement. The French were a vector of corruption and before them Mandarins were a corrupting influence. The other student commented that she did not deny the previous corruption, but that the US involvement did nothing to correct the situation. In some regards, it made things worse.

A third student commented that the French and Americans shared the common fate of being below the material Creator of the flat and immobile Earth. People with a corrupt consciousness cannot easily transcend corruption. They are indoctrinated into its dehumanizing precepts from an early age. A fourth student confirmed this observation with a comment from Tacitus that described the Brits as being enslaved by luxury. The description of American activity in Southeast Asia during the '50s reflects an imprisonment into a luxurious lifestyle of cocktail parties and low cost domestic servants. Academics from East Lansing Michigan lived much higher on the hog in Vietnam than they could back home.

The material Creator itself was crafted by the most corrupt clerics of the early Church. They were bishops from affluent families who led lives of luxury far removed from the hardships of life experienced by the hoi polloi. Many of them were promoted to their positions without working their way up the ladder of clerical promotion. Their family connections and material assets made them prime candidates for Church leadership. Rich kids with no share in primogeniture inheritance often dropped out of school to join the Church. It was less intellectually demanding than pursuing philosophy. The bishops of the fourth century were the Bill Gateses of their times.

A fifth student mentioned the corruption of Buddhism in Vietnam. Cleric Thich Tri Quang was seduced by the idea of waging war in order to achieve peace. The student pointed to an ossification in the Buddhist intellectual discipline that stifled scientific inquiry. Buddhist training continues to depend on a classical paradigm of physics that has long since been transcended by the West. Even Roman academics have come to embrace modern physics.

Finally, yet another student chimed in with a description of intellectual corruption in the ranks of the Maoists. She pointed out that they used dialectical materialism as a dogmatic religion. This type of thing can also be seen in Marxists in the US. She made a reference to my own encounter with a Marxist who accused me of blasphemy when I referred to Marx as "Uncle Karl."

What role does corruption play in US policy decisions today? How long do you expect it will take for Americans to transcend the material Creator?

Links: Tacitus on the Roman province of Britain. Lederer and Burdick on the American lifestyle in Southeast Asia. Ramparts article on American academics in Vietnam. Eusebius on Church history. James McAllister on Thich Tri Quang.
Godzilla, default

I have to ask here:

What exactly do the Palestinians firing rockets into Israel expect to accomplish? Palestinian leadership has yet to show the ability to win a battle against the Israelis, and until they have that, all this does is confirm them as too menacing to negotiate with but not menacing enough to actually pose a threat. Admittedly it's interesting that the West Bank seems to have fallen into a geopolitical black hole in terms of coverage and chaos in a time of revolution, and that the Gaza Strip has magically become the entirety of 'Palestine' but even with that, if there is any lesson of this endless firing rockets off it's to confirm the old rule that force should only be used where it is guaranteed to bring a decisive victory, otherwise it's wallowing in self-indulgent idiocy.

At the same time it's clear that Israel leveling entire neighborhoods in retaliation for a missile blowing up a bus or a single building is not working for the Israelis, either, so why they keep doing something that's not working is an interesting question in its own right. Personally I think that the real lesson here is that Charles de Gaulle should have been listened to in 1967 and Israel is going to keep paying for that mistake no matter what it does. I'm also not sure why they're exhuming Yasser Arafat to see if he was poisoned or not:

As when he was alive that man could take the goose that laid the golden egg and turn it into a gander with constipation. I would think Palestinians would have just let him rot. But that's just me.
Godzilla, default

And now for the Monthly Topic:

The topic for today is Dispensational Premillenialism.
[Spoiler link with deliberate irony]
If this term means nothing to most people, it is that way for a reason. This is, after all, about the fringe, not the norm. The concept here is one of Christian eschatology, i.e. a belief system in the end of the world and the Second Coming/Parousia of Jesus Christ. This is the view offered in the Christ Clone Trilogy (the actually frightening take on it) and Left Behind (which should be left behind on all bookshelves). Specifically this particular ideology is one with a great deal more influence on U.S. conservatism than it should rightfully have, with all kinds of disastrous impacts.

^This is your basic summary of what this movement is all about, namely the belief that starting with the establishment of Israel in 1948 there is some kind of cosmic Doomsday clock ticking. This movement has the ironic aspect of wanting to make the state of Israel the world's largest, most grotesque ghetto in literally wanting to uproot every last Jew on the planet into Israel so that Jesus will beam them up into Heaven and they get a front-row seat for the Apocalypse. This movement also believes that Russia, Ethiopia, and a few other states will randomly launch a massive, suicidal attack on Israel for no real reason (as is portrayed in the Left Behind series).

The concept of Dispensationalism gets into a lot of estoceric takes on Christian concepts of salvation that amount to randomly picking verses from the Bible and making them mean more what they want them to mean than they actually mean, so I'm not going to cover the actual Dispensations. This is, after all, a political community, not a religious one. The primary danger the Dispensationalists pose in political terms is that these are the people who view the USA as having some kind of mandate to back Israel no matter what it does, and no matter why it does it, because that way they make the world's largest Ghetto and ensure the end of the world.

Put another way, if Dispensationalist ideas on foreign policy were in a movie, they'd be the ideas of supervillains: create massive geopolitical upheaval to induce black magic that summons an entity that will slaughter 99% of the human race. Including, of course, those Jews who decide to stay Jews and not follow Jesus. One can imagine how conflating foreign policy on a particular issue with the clash of God and the Devil might tend to constrict options and lead to outbreaks of curious paranoia in the United States over threats to Israel that seem to indicate a surprising inability to see the IDF as capable of defending itself.

If this particular analysis sounds U.S. exclusive, there is a reason for it: outside the United States this particular bunch of wackadoodles has no real existence or staying power in the First World. What it says about the United States that people like this have that kind of influence on both the Democrats and the Republicans is another question. Personally I think it's an instance of people attributing to Christianity a twisted interpretation of the Golden Mean fallacy that would never fly with any other religion, including Judaism.
  • ddstory

The high school of hypocrisy

In the wake of the Petraeus scandal, I saw a comment somewhere around the Webz, asking "What the hell is happening to America? What's going on in the heads of those men in politics? What's their major malfunction? Or maybe the malfunction is elsewhere? How come wealthy, educated, influential men are ready to risk everything for the sake of some shagging?"

One of the most influential men in the world, a wealthy, educated guy with serious presidential aspirations in his country France, was accused of raping an African chambermaid. It destroyed his entire career. Roughly at the same time the now former California governor Schwarzenegger also admitted he had made an illegal child to his chambermaid, a fact he had kept secret from his wife for years. Now that kid is 12 years old. The boy had lived with his mother in Schwarzi's home for years. Then the former presidential candidate John Edwards was accused of misusing campaign funds to hide his mistress and their secret child.

And then, there's Anthony Weiner who remained true to his (in)famous name in quite a spectacular way. That Twitter pic of his... um, Weiner, and all that. He was unfortunate to forget the fact that once you've posted something online it's no longer your possession alone. So a conservative fan eventually found out about the spicy pic and then shit hit the fan. Almost weeping, Weiner had to admit he had kept such sort of "correspondence" with several female aides of his for three years. And he had just married a very hot employee of Hillary Clinton. Before resigning, he stated, "I don't know what I was thinking". This statement should probably sum up what's going on in the heads of all those men: nothing.

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