Environmentalism, Tony Abbot, and Satan.

11 October, 2017

A friend asked me for my perspective on this:

“Primitive people once killed goats to appease the volcano gods. We’re more sophisticated now but are still sacrificing our industries and our living standards to the climate gods to little more effect,”

Tony Abbot, reported by The Age.

My reply (which could stand a little editing):

I expect you are asking me specifically because of my past religious background, so I’ll add a perspective from that POV.

Some fundamentalist Christians see in environmentalism a strand of nature-worship. This may be understood as a philosophical pantheism, or a more naive tree-worship. There’s also an equivocation between the “paganism” of the modern hippie and ancient greco-roman “paganism”. They aren’t really the same thing at all, but we call them the same thing. And a person who isn’t a terribly clear thinker easily conflates pantheism with worship of the greek god Pan.

But so what? So what if Greenies think trees are nice? So what if some of ’em have Viking rune tattoos?

It’s important to understand that a fundamentalist christian believes that demonic spirits are literally real. Jesus cast demons out of people. Now, either Jesus was wrong, or demons are actually a thing. There a story of Jesus fasting for 40 days in the desert and being personally tempted by Satan. The story is clearly, clearly allegorical, but the biblical literalist takes the position that if this story was meant to be understood allegorically, God would have told us so.

The ancient Christians believed that the miracles of the pagans were perfectly real, and accomplished by demonic power. Fundies more-or-less regard anything in the least bit “spiritual” that isn’t christian to be of the devil. Whether the gods of Greece and Rome, or the vague woo-woo of the hippies, it’s all demons. When a hippie talks about a sense of connection with nature, they are being connected to the devil.

Fundamentalist Christians see “spirits” everywhere. This modern notion that we ought have a care for the natural world is probably spirits, which is to say demons. It’s all part of the same old big ball of wax that Jesus came to deliver us from. We know it’s spiritual because it’s about values. The abstract idea that values like environmentalism are spiritual and the more concrete idea that the Druids were in literally contact with actual, real demons gets all muddled up and stuck together in a big tangled mess of worrying ideas. (A person who believes in devils is afraid all the time, despite their protestations that their faith in Jesus keeps them safe from them. It’s a constant undercurrent of worry, especially for parents.)

The general notion that science is a good thing, also, is a spiritual force in our society. “Science” itself is a spirit, perhaps. Or perhaps blind trust in science – scientism, if you like – is a spirit, a great evil spirit sort of hovering in the air over humanity. An evil spirit clearly of the devil, because we should be putting our trust in Jesus alone. From it springs a multitude of lies, perhaps the greatest being that we don’t really have eternal spirits and that the devil is not real.

I appreciate that none of this makes much sense, that there’s a truckload of non sequitur in all this mess. But it doesn’t have to make sense. These are fragmentary ideas in the minds of (many? most?) Christians and especially fundamentalist Christians. Remember that most people are not terribly bright. [edit – perhaps what I really meant here was that most people are intellectually lazy, and perhaps what I mean by that is that I was]

This next bit is important, and perhaps I should edit this mail to make it more central:

Fundamentalist, biblical literalist Christians are creationists. The bible says what it says about where the world came from. In order to believe in creationism, you must conclude that the theory of evolution is wrong, or a lie. Consequently, creationists must and do believe that the scientific community is committing a fraud against all of humanity. And has been for hundreds of years. The idea that “science” is actually a vast conspiracy to deceive humanity is not new. It was not invented recently in reply to this latest climate science business. It’s as old as Gallileo and Newton. I mean, sure – not every scientist is an active conspirator. Some are misinformed by other scientsts (we all know that those white-coats are intelligent only in their specific area, and outside that they are absent-minded fools, unlike us reglar folks who have common sense). Some are mistaken. Most are just going along with the general consensus. But “the general consensus” is, of course, a spirit. The bible speaks of a “spirit of the age”. And it all comes back to The Devil.

Now, not all fundies take the whole thing as seriously as all that. And many who do literally belive this stuff don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about the implications of it all. But these ideas are all part of the package, the big old mess of ideas sloshing around in the Hillsonger’s brain pan.

So we get to Tony Abbot, who is not a Hillsonger but is a Roman Catholic. There’s what the americans call a “dog-whistle” in this message – something that is heard by the people that it’s intended for, and is inaudible to anyone else. And that dog-whistle is the charge that environmentalism and the climate science establishment is literally Satanic. Literally motivated and orchestrated by The Devil. Ol’ Scratch. Lucifer himself. Really.

Sure, it’s a long stretch to cast coal-fired electricity plants as fighting the good fight on the side of God against the general corruption of the age. Ludicrous, when you think about it, particularly given Jesus’ views on excessive wealth. The trick, as always, is not to think about it, but to know it. What Orwell called “bellyfeel”, what Steve Colbert calls “truthiness”, what the average Christian calls “knowing it in your heart”. You just know by faith that those greenie ideas are all from the devil, and so we should dig up and burn more coal just to spit in the devil’s eye as much as for any other reason.

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Freedom and Democracy

16 June, 2017

So. James T Hodgkinson attacked a basketball practice and shot some republican congressmen. I don’t condone this. But the american right is in paroxysms of outrage over the fact that he’s a leftie – a BernieBro.

The thing that shits me is this: ever since Clinton, ever since 1980, the american right has been dribbling on about how the Second Amendment is what protects American freedoms. According to them, the rock-solid, foundational guarantee of freedom is that any citizen, no matter how stupid or ill-informed, can choose to engage in armed revolt against the government if he is willing to risk his life to do it. Blah blah blah “totalitarianism is when people are afraid of the government; freedom is when the government is afraid of the people”. You maybe know the drill.

Suddenly some leftist actually does it – actually does the thing that every libertarian and right-wing bore in the USA has been dribbling on about for 35 years. Shoots at some congressmen at the cost of his own life. And all those right-wing bores are shocked, shocked, shocked.

It’s enough to make your eyeballs bleed. Maybe what they hate most is that some overweight not-a-real-man librul has done what they themselves could never quite sack up and do, despite all their chest-beatings and threats.

Maybe now they’ll realise that “government by whichever whackjob is most ready to shoot a congressman” is actually a *bad* idea. That government by armed mob is actually the opposite of freedom. That – for instance – Somalia is not a paradise.

Maybe. Probably not. But my God, don’t a whole lot of old tweets by right-wing american blowhards suddenly look dated and ill-judged.


Weird and difficult to explain

29 July, 2016

Here’s some refugees from war-torn Syria, or something:

Now ain’t that the oddest collection of war refugees you ever saw? The more you think about it, the stranger it appears.

Where are the missing limbs and eyes, the shrapnel injuries? Where are the wives and little babies? Where are the carts or bags with the pitiful remains of what’s left of their lost home, gone forever? Where are the pleading eyes, the ribs visible from hunger?

Why are all of these refugees well-fed, fit, healthy young men of military age?

Remember, kids: ‘jihad’ is simply the Arabic word for ‘crusade’. That’s what the word means. It means ‘crusade’. There’s a crusade going on right now as we speak, and these fit young men are crusaders. They have traveled to Europe to demonstrate their faith in God and submission to his will by carrying out the holy work of killing the infidel.

That’s what’s going on. It really is that simple. This is not a crowd of refugees. This is an invading army. That’s why – for instance – there is so much rape going on in Sweden at the hands of these refugees. Rape is what armies do. Like looting, it’s a perk of the job.

The nation that doesn’t shoot these young men at the border (or at the very least turn them back) will get and are getting exactly what you would expect.


Human trafficked sex slaves.

29 November, 2015

This: Religious sisters to expand fight against slavery to 140 nations

LONDON, Nov 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – An army of religious sisters who rescue victims of human trafficking by posing as prostitutes to infiltrate brothels and buying children being sold into slavery, is expanding to 140 countries, its chairman said on Wednesday.

John Studzinski, an investment banker and philanthropist who chairs Talitha Kum, said the network of 1,100 sisters currently operates in about 80 countries but the demand for efforts to combat trafficking and slavery was rising globally.

The group, set up in 2004, estimates one percent of the world’s population is trafficked in some form, which translates into some 73 million people. Of those, 70 percent are women and half are aged 16 or younger.

“I’m not trying to be sensational but I’m trying to underscore the fact this is a world that has lost innocence … where dark forces are active,” said Studzinski, a vice chairman of U.S. asset manager The Blackstone Group.

Dark forces indeed.

The sheer innumeracy of these hysterics is mind boggling. (Innumeracy is hallmark of people who believe in Noah’s ark and the exodus).

Of course, there’s weasel words here – 1% is trafficked “in some form”. But the sly intent of this dudes speech is to gloss over that and to suggest that 1% are trafficked for sex.

So let’s run with this. Let’s say 1% of all people – on average – are human trafficked sex slaves. The sex-slavery hysterics typically quote impossible figures for how many clients these sex slaves see: five a night or some nonsense. That means that every night, 5% of the world’s population are having sex with a human trafficked sex slave. Assuming it’s mainly men who do this, we are talking 10% of all males. Since we are talking only about 1) adult men; with 2) at least some money, we are talking – say – 20% of that subgroup.

In other words: if a) 1% of the worlds population is a human-trafficked sex slave; b) servicing five clients a night; and c) adult blokes with jobs are maybe 25% of the world’s population; then every adult bloke with a job IN THE WORLD is seeing a human trafficked, probably underaged, sex-slave in a suburban dungeon somewhere about once a week.

And that’s not including the regular hookers. It’s a mystery how the porn sites stay in business, considering that between the underaged human trafficked sex slaves, the regular hookers, and the wife, every man in the world must be pretty much tapped out most of the time.

It’s ludicrous.

Oh, and a thousand or so nuns are going to fix this. Why not start with something easier, like poverty and disease in Calcutta? I hear that even with an actual catholic saint on the job, it’s still as bad as ever.


On the Crimean (repost)

8 August, 2015

This is reposted from here: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/paul-murray/54826/on-the-current-kerfuffle-in-the-crimea . Smirkingchimp is always threatening to run out of money, so in case it goes dark here is this piece on my blog. It’s not currently in the news, but the topic is perennial.


I think I might weigh in on the topic of the recent kerfuffle in the Crimean peninsula.

But before I do, I am going to talk about Panama.

CAVEAT: I am not a defence person, I know nothing about these topics other than general knowledge and access to Google maps.

The USA is and always has been a naval power. It’s simple. To the west, over the Pacific Ocean, is Asia and civilisation. To the east, over the Atlantic Ocean, is Europe and civilisation. While europeans can fight with each other using land armies, the only way the USA can make war is over the ocean. The USA, in fact, has an entire corps of armed servicemen alongside the navy, army, and air force whose entire reason for being is “soldiers who go to places on ships”.

The USA has two coastal frontages – east and west. There are four ways to get a navy from one side of the USA to the other.

First, put the ships on rollers and haul them down the interstate. Good luck with that.

Second, and just as impractical, sail them through north around Canada through the arctic sea, which only recently has not been icebound in summer.
Third, sail them around the tip of south america – a quarter of the circumference of the world away – and through the Southern Ocean.

Fourthly, the ditch. The Panama Canal.

The military importance of the ditch to the USA cannot be overstated. I mean literally – try overstating it, try coming up with a form of words that is maybe a bit much. Can’t do it, right? The permits the USA to threaten both China and also Europe/Africa/The middle east with the full force of its naval power. The USA can field all of its carriers, all of its subs, all of its marines against the enemy du jour in either hemisphere in a matter of days. Without the ditch, the USA would have to run two navies, or only be able to field half a navy to each.

The USA will never, never, never cede control over the ditch to anyone. Ever. Oh, it may be technically in the hands of a foreign power, Panama may be a whole ‘nother country to the USA, but you know and I know and everyone in the world knows that that’s bullshit. It’s a US asset. And the USA would, if it had to, fight WWIII over it.

I am not exaggerating.

What do you think the Cuban Missile Crisis was really about? Nukes striking the American mainland? Pfft. A nuke will take out several square miles of a city – but there’s plenty of those. It will kill a bunch of people – there’s millions more. It will destroy an ammo dump (Dr Strangelove reference there) or a military base. So what? Miami is simply not a military target. Military targets (missile silos, airfields, command centers) are dispersed all over the US exactly in order to make the US military capability more nuke-proof.

But nuking the ditch would be a serious and unacceptable game-changer. It would not only maim the Navy, it would throw the armed forces into chaos for days. No freaking way will the USA permit it, or even the possibility that it might be done. Kennedy would have pressed the button over it.

At this point, dial up google maps, zoom out, and have a look at Russia.

Actually – this is really the main point that this post is trying to make. None of this makes sense unless you look at a freaking map and get an idea of where everything is. It’s all about geography. Look at a goddamn mapnot opinion pieces about gay rights, not comparisons of Putin to Hitler, not blatherings about ethnic russians – you need to look at the damn map. That’s what it’s all about. People are talking about the Crimean business like it’s a battle of words and ideas, probably because that’s what they mainly know about. The Crimean Kerfuffle is not about words and ideas. It’s about ships and troops.

Russia has three naval frontages. In the east, access to the Pacific. In the north and west, access to the Arctic Ocean. Good luck sailing out of that in winter – although I suppose its ok for submarines (and this is why subs are important to Russia).

The third naval frontage is access to the Black Sea. The Black Sea is connected to the Agean Sea and the Mediterranean via the Bosphorus, and from there to the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Suez canal to the south east.

As you can see because you are looking at the map, Russia has a fair bit of the coast of the Black Sea on the east. But you can see that it’s all mountains – the Caucasus I think. Useless. The land is inhabited by wild, hairy tribes of barbarous inbred wogs, many of whom don’t much like Russians (with, admittedly, excellent reason). You can’t build a road there, and if you could you couldn’t march troops down it to the transports.

However:

At the north of the Black Sea is a booger of land about a hundred miles across. This is the Crimean Peninsula. And at the southern tip of it, on the west coast, a little place called Seavastopol. This place was put there by the Tsars to serve as Russia’s port and access to the Mediterranean. The Crimean Peninsula is Russia’s Panama, and that port is Russia’s panama canal. Thanks to some stuff that went down late last century, that booger of land is technically part of a whole ‘nother country called “The Ukraine”. But you know and I know and everyone in the world who pays attention knows that that’s bullshit. It is a Russian asset.

The kerfuffle in the Crimea has go nothing to do with gays, or ethnic russians (although obviously the Crimea is as full of them as Panama is full of americans), or even Putin. It is 100% about The Great Game. There is no way in hell that Russia will lose control of that port. No freaking way. They will fight WWIII over it, if they have to. They would rather not, but like Kennedy and Panama, Putin will press the button rather than lose that asset.

And that’s what this is about.

Perhaps the main question remaining is: why is this blowing up now? That is a whole new topic, and the answer is probably (as in: you know and I know and everybody else in the world knows) that the Pentagon and the security state of the USA are fomenting trouble there in response to the budget squeeze at home. It’s a fund-raiser.

And a lunatic dangerous one. Russia will not, will not, will not lose control of Svestapol without a fight, and they will escalate as far as it takes, whatever it takes. They are not bluffing. They still have nukes. If they have to, they will march the Red Army south right through the middle of the Ukraine, and to hell with anyone who gets in the way. If Kiev doesn’t like it, fuck them. If anyone wants to help out Kiev, fuck them too.

And it’s all down to the pentagon having a hissy-fit over their trillion-dollar budget taking a haircut, the military establishment wanting to remind the world that warmaking is still relevant.


On Gay marriage and the SCOTUS

29 June, 2015

This is a post I made on AVfM on the recent gay marriage decision in the USA, in reply to “keep your dirty government fingers out of my marriage!” fools. I think it sums up my opinions.


Family members have legal status. Should we do away with the notion that – in the eyes of the law – one’s brothers, sisters, parents and children have a status that strangers do not? That they should not be able to see us when we are in hospital on our deatbeds? That if we die intestate, there should be no presumption that our estate descends to them? Should the day come – God forbid – that someone must decide whether or not to turn the respirator off, should this decision not be in the hands of someone we love, and who we believe loves us? Doing this makes the government, or our employers, or the hospital, the only “family” we have. It’s the opposite of what most libertarians and suchlike would want.

Family means something, and it should mean something in law.

Marriage is a declaration to the world at large, and therefore yes – to the state: “We two are family now. This other person is closer to me than my brothers and sisters, and is first in line in my life.” By its very nature, it is not a private act. That’s why it is done in front of witnesses. Its public-ness is the entire point of it, it’s the difference between a marriage, specifically, and just sleeping with someone you like.

Gay people, pleading equal protection (rightly in the eyes of the SCOTUS) have won the right for their partnerships to be legally recognised in this way. It’s not “tyranny” or anything like it: if anything, it’s the reverse – someone who can rightfully stand between oneself and the uncaring mechanisms of state and medical industry when we are incapacitated. It’s an issue particularly poignant for people who, so often, are rejected by their own natural families. The state now recognises that, for gay people, the person they love and care about more than any other person in the world has some sort of legal status in their life.


For @AndreVltchek

21 June, 2015

For @AndreVltchek, in response to In the USA – “I Cannot Write!”.

“During those two weeks I met some of the greatest thinkers living in the United States: Michael Parenti, and John Cobb. Some time ago I worked with Michael on two books, one his and one mine, but this was our first face-to-face encounter. I discussed Christianity with John Cobb, trying to define what is encoded in it that allows the most horrid atrocities to be committed in the name of the Cross. It was deep, philosophical discussion, and we will convert it into a book, soon.”

What do we know about Jehovah, god of the earliest parts of the bible?

Well, he is slow to anger, but his anger is very terrible. When he becomes angry, he shakes the pillars of the earth. He punishes people by making the earth open up and swallow them. Smoke issues from his nostrils. His eyes are a flame of fire, and his mouth is a consuming fire. The radiance of his immediate presence is so great that no man can look directly upon him and live. He led his people across the desert with a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night. Moses received the law by ascending a mountain that smoked and shook.

He kills almost indiscriminately – human lives are nothing to him. His anger against all humanity is so great that he can only be placated by sacrifice. And not just any sacrifice, but one that is pure and unblemished. Innocent. The key to the redemption of man is a human sacrifice, and not just of any human, but of a sinlessly perfect one. But people still anger him even so, so he will cast them into a lake of fire that wil burn and burn forever. His rage is bottomless, limitless. For his enemies (anyone that does not prostrate themselves to him) no vengeance, no matter how extravagant, is enough.

According to the bible, all of humanity is descended from a tribe of people from the region of Mt Ararat. I would wager a considerable amount that 10,000 years ago or so, those mountains were active volcanoes.

What is encoded in christianity that permits atrocities? Only the most fearsome, violent and unpredictable phenomenon in all nature, one that must be placated, pleased, flattered by any means necessary, at any cost, and not always with much success. Jehovah is a volcano god – he is as as frightening and cruel as every other volcano god like him.