FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #18: “Man-given rights are only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - June 15th, 2010

JESUS CHRIST!  You’ll hear that in a foxhole.  When hunkered down as bullets and shrapnel fly thick overhead.  By theist and atheist alike.  Of course, one is most probably in prayer while the other in vain.  Considering the circumstances, though, the Lord would probably forgive the latter. As long as you’re fighting on the side of good, that is.

When emotions are running high, people tend to say things.  Sometimes bad things.  Sometimes, even philosophically inconsistent things.  What’s that joke?  At the height of confusion someone shouts out, “Thank God I’m an atheist!”

People tend to get more intimate with God when they are about to personally find out the answer to that age-old question – is there an afterlife?  Can’t blame them.  Your own mortality can be a scary thing.  And no one wants to rush that.  That’s why, in the age of the Enlightenment, people thought of government not as a force of coercion, but as protection from coercion.  People wanted to live as long as they could.  And as free as they could.  So people made governments that would function within the Rule of Law.  To better their lives.

England made great strides in protecting its citizens from the arbitrary use of force.  After some un-English-like treatment in the New World, the British America colonies broke from the mother country.  But they would build on the English ideals.  The Declaration of Independence stated:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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….

The key here is that rights are God-given.  That meant kings could be wrong.  As well as Parliament.  Even the Church.  Kings, aristocracies, bishops, etc., are positions created and held by men.  Nature/God did not grant them this power.  They granted it to themselves.  And once some have power, it’s not long before some use it to oppress those who don’t.

So when it comes to determining the origin of rights, the atheists should thank God he or she is an atheist.  For if God gives them that right (to be an atheist), no man can take it away.  But if rights are not God-given, then they must be man-given.  And whatever man giveth, he can taketh away.  Especially if you piss off the powers that be.

DRUNKEN FARMER JONES was oppressing the animals on Manor Farm.  Having had enough, the animals rose up and seized power.  They renamed the farm Animal Farm.  The pigs Snowball and Napoleon were the leaders of the revolution.  They created a new political doctrine called Animalism.  It rested on the following 7 commandments painted on the side of the barn:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

Snowball wanted to do good.  The new farm started out as an anarcho-syndicalist commune.  Sort of.  Then Napoleon seized power.  He and his pigs became the ruling elite for the benefit of animal kind on Animal Farm.  And life was good.  For the pigs.

Napoleon fabricated lies about Snowball.  With the animals turned against him as planned, Napoleon had his dogs chase him off of Animal Farm. 

The animals worked harder.  But there were setbacks.  And at every setback, Boxer, the old workhorse, lamented that he would have to work harder.  And he did.  Until his strength failed him and he collapsed while working.   The pigs then sent him to the vet.  Only the side of the vet’s wagon said ‘Horse Slaughterer and Glue Boiler’.  Most of the animals couldn’t read.  Benjamin could.  He told them what the van said.  But it was too late. 

Benjamin, Boxer’s friend, was an old donkey.  And wise.  He saw a lot in his long life.  Little good, though.  Life was no different under the pigs than it was under the humans.  But he wasn’t surprised.  For that was life.  “Life will go on as it has always gone on—that is, badly.”

The pigs started to act more humanlike.  They started to walk on two legs so they could carry riding crops.  They began wearing clothes.  Slept in beds.  Drank alcohol.  And sent off Boxer to his death for some whiskey money.  The pigs slowly revised the 7 Commandments to agree with their new behavior.  Until, one day, there was but a single commandment remaining.  “All animals are equal.  But some animals are more equal than others.”  And life was good.  For the pigs.

GEORGE ORWELL WAS a socialist who volunteered to fight for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War.  He got shot in the throat and was declared medically unfit for further duty.  While healing, the political climate was deteriorating.  His socialist group, the Workers’ Party of Marxists Unification (or, in Spanish, Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista (POUM)) fell out of favor with the pro-Soviet Communists.  They accused the POUM of being affiliated with Joseph Stalin’s archenemy, Leon Trotsky.  So the Communists outlawed the POUM.  It’s complicated.  Suffice it to say that Orwell made it back to England.  And had no love for Stalin or Soviet Communism.

Then, of course, came World War II.  And the Hitler-Stalin Pact of Nonaggression, further increasing the love between Orwell and Stalin.  And by love I mean hate.  For Orwell hated totalitarianism.  And for all the Utopian talk, Communism had devolved into nothing more than an oppressive totalitarian regime. 

This is the story of Animal Farm.  Napoleon is Joseph Stalin.  Animal Farm becomes the police state of Soviet Communism.  At about a hundred pages, it’s the biggest little book you will ever read.  If you haven’t yet, do so.  And then pick up Orwell’s 1984.  It’s a little longer and a little darker but, wow, what a story.

SO THERE’RE TWO revolutions.  The American and the Russian.  Both ended up on ‘top ten’ lists.  One for liberty.  The other for genocide.  Can you guess which? 

As an ideology, Communism has killed more people than any other in history.  It killed more than the Nazis.  More than the Christian Crusades.  More than the Black Death even.  No other ideology (or plague) comes close. 

So why was one revolution so much bloodier than the other?  Well, the Americans were Christian.  The Russians were Orthodox Christians.  But the Soviets were atheists.  There were no God-given rights in the Soviet Union.  Only privileges allowed by the privileged elite.  And fear.  For people could disappear at someone’s slightest whim. 

That’s the down side of atheism.  And secularism.  It removes the fear of God from a people’s rulers.  And if they aren’t worrying about the afterlife, there’s not a whole lot to dissuade them from doing unspeakable things in the here and now.

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LESSONS LEARNED #6: “No one bitched about global warming when it ended the ice ages.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 25th, 2010

JUST AS FOOD surpluses gave life famine took it away.  Famine.  Few today can know the horror of the word.  In the U.S. obesity is epidemic.  Even among the poor.  Especially among the poor.  Quite a change from the days of feudalism.  In those days, the poor were never fat.  Only the wealthy had that luxury.

Famine exists today.  However, it is now the exception, not the rule.  Developed, capitalist countries don’t suffer famine.  (They have high farm yields.  And they are wealthy enough to import food when they need to.)  Under developed countries do.  And when they do, the developed countries send their food surpluses to them.  There were times, though, when suffering famine was far more commonplace and universal than a full stomach. 

There are many causes of famine.  War.  Pestilence.  And, of course, weather.  Cold weather.

THE GREAT FAMINE of 1315–1317 cut a swath of destruction through northern Europe from Great Britain to Poland.  The summer growing season was wet and cold.  Too wet.  Too cold.  Crops failed.  The once fertile but now soggy farmland simply could not bring grain to harvest.  And the rains kept coming.

Starve-crazed people did anything they could to eat.  They ate bark and roots and other things that did grow.  They stole food.  They murdered.  Seeing children as competition for the limited food supply, parents abandoned children.  Some quit eating and died so the children could eat.  There may have been cannibalism.  Many got sick.  And many died.  There were population reductions that would take centuries to recover.

The church couldn’t help.  Neither could government.  So people turned on both.  And on each other.  Civilization broke down.  Starved people resorted to animal behavior.   If you ever tried to take food away from a hungry dog, you get the picture.  These were very dangerous times.  And bleak.  There were many ways to die (hunger, disease, murder).  Nothing to look forward to.  Except for the return of warm, dry weather.

And that was just in the summer months.  The winters were colder.  There was hypothermia.  And death by cold weather.  Again, cold kills.

The weather did warm again.  Eventually.  And when the famine finally ended a weakened and stressed people could look forward to the future.  Unfortunately for them that future included the plague.  The Black Death.  It truly sucked to be them.  Thankfully, though, they persevered.  And, generations later, here we are.  No one today knows what suffering really is.  Not like they knew. 

THE LITTLE ICE AGE wasn’t an ice age.  It was a period of unusually cold weather.  Like a ‘little’ ice age.  Hence the name.  Some say the Great Famine of 1315-1317 was included in the Little Ice Age.  Some don’t.  Some say it ran from sometime in the 1500s to sometime in the 1800s.  Semantics.  You say tomato; I say tomato.  (That sounds better spoken than read.)  Maybe the Little Ice Age included the Great Famine.  Maybe it didn’t.  They were both cold, though.  And that’s the point.

There were three really, really cold periods during the Little Ice Age.  About midway through each of the centuries (1550ish, 1650ish and 1750ish).  It was like the Great Famine of 1315-1317 Lite.  Not as widespread or as devastating but there was famine.  And population decreases.  Mostly confined to colder climes (northern and mountain countries).

How cold was it?  To give you an idea, here are some well known bodies of water that aren’t known for freezing over that froze over in winter:  the Thames River, the Baltic Sea and New York Harbor.  You could walk from Sweden to Denmark (and Gustav’s armies did).  With the Dutch fleet frozen in ice, the French marched across ice to take the Netherlands.  Lake Superior still had ice in summer.  In a word the winters were cold.

FOR YOU BACKYARD gardeners, you have seen the affects of cooling.  A mild summer is enjoyable.  You can sleep without air conditioning.  You can open the windows for fresh air.  You can sit outside without sweating profusely in the heat and humidity.  Some enjoy that.  But maybe not the gardeners.  Why?  Well, speaking from personal experience, my garden just doesn’t grow in those mild summers.

I can fertilize.  I can water.  I can weed.  I can mulch.  But I can’t make it warmer.  And if the growing season isn’t long enough, if it isn’t warm enough, you’re just not going to get a whole lot of green peppers.

HISTORY IS FULL of famine and loss of life.  There are lots of reasons.  But this we know.  A warm and long growing season grows food.  The longer the growing season the greater the food surpluses.  Those areas hit by famine can be aided by the countries with the surpluses. 

If it’s cold, though, you have shorter growing seasons.  Shorter growing seasons produce smaller food surpluses.   If any.  There is less food to go around.  The less food there is the greater the chance that people will go hungry.  The shorter the growing season is, then, the greater the chance for famine.

So which is a greater risk to civilization as we know it?  Well, history has shown global cooling to kill more than global warming.  So I have to put my money on global cooling.  If I were a betting man.  Betting on the end of civilization as we know it.

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