The French pandemonium (three) 3

Today we post under Pages (listed at the top of our margin), essay number 13 in Part Two of the series titled The Darkness of This World, by Jillian Becker.

It continues the discussion of French writers whose works are concerned with Evil, praise it, and argue passionately that it should be done.

The title of this essay is The French Pandemonium (Three). Its subjects are the twentieth century writers Michel Foucault and –  to a lesser extent – Jean Genet 

Here is part of the essay:

When the Second World War was over in Europe in 1945, and the enormities perpetrated by the Nazis had been fully revealed à tout le monde, Evil did not lose any of its popularity among the anti-bourgeois intelligentsia of France. If those who had survived war and occupation, deprivation and terror, and in some cases confinement, had a sense of being supped full with horrors, it seems to have been short-lived. Their appetite for blood, for torture, and even for mass murder, soon revived.

Most of the novels and plays of Jean Genet – works in which he “explored the potentialities of evil” – were published or performed after the war. He wrote fascinatingly about criminals. His play Haute Surveillance, first performed in 1949, is about a prisoner who, sentenced for committing only small crimes, murders a fellow convict in order to be recognized as someone capable of doing far worse. The bourgeois audiences found it shocking, but not the intellectual elite. In 1952 Jean-Paul Sartre published an essay about him titled Saint Genet. What made Genet a saint in Sartre’s eyes was his criminality. He was a saint because he was a thief. And – even more glamorously romantic – he was a homosexual prostitute in the days when that too could land a man in jail.

All convicted prisoners were victims of the bourgeois and his civilization, in the opinion of Michel Foucault, another of our demons. He declared: “Delinquency, solidified by a penal system centered upon the prison, thus represents a diversion of illegality for the illicit circuits of profit and power of the dominant class.” …

Foucault, the French demon par excellence, was a disciple of Georges Bataille. Their tastes were the same. Foucault endorsed the master’s praise for “erotic transgression”, rhapsodized over “the joy of torture”, and longed to assist his hero in carrying out human sacrifice as a holy act and a thrilling work of art. Together they schemed – but did not institute – a “theatre of cruelty” (as had the clinically mad Antonin Artaud before them), in which actual murder would be performed for an audience. They saw a profound moral value in murder – if the murderer gets a buzz out of it.

Some ideas emerge from Foucault’s writings distinctly enough to be examined. Among them, that the law-abiding bourgeois should be punished with violent oppression; mass reprisals are preferable to individual trials; and cruelty should be a normal way of life. Yet he is praised for being “always ready to protest the fate of the wretched and powerless”.

Even if some of his works can be interpreted as “protesting the fate” of the criminal, the lunatic and the sadist, “always” is going much too far. The mass of his oeuvres proclaims his enthusiasm for rendering anybody and everybody wretched and powerless, preferably maimed, and best of all dead.  

He did not except himself. To “redeem existence” from “unbearable banality”, he hankered to be caught up in what he called “limit experiences” of pain, terror, madness, and fatal illness: “the overwhelming, the unspeakable, the creepy, the stupefying, the ecstatic”, embracing “a pure violence, a wordless gesture”. All this he sought for himself, and – though an intensely self-obsessed man – generously desired for others too; and if others did not want it, well, they should be forced to endure it. And even if the victims could not raise their consciousness so as to be overjoyed, the inflictions would not be wasted, because Foucault could wring for himself from their suffering, the last drop of excruciating pleasure.

And this pleasure should not – he fantasized – be only an occasional treat. A demon such as he should not have to perform acts of torture and life-endangerment only for a rare thrill, but such experience should be continually on tap. He believed, like Bataille, that cruelty should be a way of life – the only way of life, a constant part of everybody’s everyday life. “We can and must,” he wrote, “make of man a negative experience, lived in the form of hate and aggression.” …

Foucault sought pleasure in the pain of both body and mind. He mutilated his body and terrified his mind. As nothing was more terrible than death, he desired it most passionately. “Complete, total pleasure,” he declared, “is related to death.” He contemplated suicide, thought of it often through the greater part of his life, and claimed to have “attempted” it many times. He expected and intended that suicide would be the way he’d die. He made “lifelong preparation for it”. It would be “a simple pleasure”, a “suffering pleasure”. It would be a way of “exploring experience in its negativity”.

To take his death into his own hands would not only hasten that crowning moment of “complete, total pleasure”, it might also bring about, at last, the release of his other Self. The “other” Michel Foucault would be emancipated in his own death-throes, to experience “moment of free existence in suicide”.

He fantasized about participating in a “suicide orgy”, and eventually, in full consistency, that was the way he chose. He went, equipped with instruments – or “toys” – of torture, to orgies of sex, drugs, pain, cruelty, and terror, knowing that they were a way to his death, and intending that that’s what they should be. He endured and wallowed in them in the bathhouses of San Francisco where homosexual men congregated, many of them infected with the HIV virus. And when he knew he had AIDS – incurable at that time – he returned to the bathhouses deliberately to infect as many other men as he could. It was slow suicide and slow murder; according to his philosophy, the transcendent “limit experience”. How much he really enjoyed the prolonged period of slow physical disintegration to which he condemned himself no one of course can know. But he did not try to cut it short by some swifter means to death in order to achieve that moment of exquisite agony in which he expected to feel himself – or his hidden Self – liberated by death. …

Absurdly hyperbolic praise has been heaped upon him. Paul Veyne, professor of History at Vincennes, said of Foucault that he was “the most important event in the thought of this [20th] century”. Yet far from contributing to the advancement of mankind, his example was atavistic: to live by the dictates of the instincts, the appetites, and the emotions – in other words to be savage. …

The immense popularity of Bataille and Foucault, the rapturous reception accorded their demonic works, could only mean that France itself was turning away – continuing to turn away – from reason and civilized values.

On the European battlefields of literature, philosophy, and politics, Romanticism has won an overwhelming victory. The “horrible workers” predicted by Rimbaud, have been elevated by public (bourgeois!) taste into the intellectual giants of contemporary thought. And they have influenced taste everywhere in the pan-European world. Now, in the early twenty-first century, in most of the faculties of the humanities, in most of the academies of the West, the French cult of Evil is virtually an orthodoxy – even in America.

You can find all of it here.

Posted under Commentary, communism, Ethics, Europe, France, Germany, Gnosticism, History, Leftism, Literature, Marxism, nazism, Philosophy, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 8, 2015

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What’s the Republican Party for? 19

We’re not just wondering what the Republican Party stands for. We’re also wondering why it exists at all.

An entirely different conservative party is badly needed to oppose the evil Left. (It would be splendid if a conservative party came to power that would exclude religion from its political thinking, but to wish for that – we fully realize – is to be far too unrealistic.)

John Hinderaker at Powerline writes:

It is almost unbelievable how badly Congressional Republicans have botched their opposition to President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty and the funding of the Department of Homeland Security. The House, under John Boehner’s direction, did the right thing: it passed a bill that fully funded DHS, but barred spending to implement the amnesty that has now been declared illegal by a federal court. The action then moved to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried repeatedly to bring the House measure to the floor for a vote. Four times, the Democrats filibustered the DHS funding bill.

As a result of the Democrats’ filibuster, DHS was in danger of running out of money. That put Republicans in a strong position. All they had to do was … nothing. If they didn’t blink, pressure on the Democrats to fund DHS would prove irresistible. It’s not for nothing the voters gave the GOP a majority, right?

Instead, Mitch McConnell backed off. He gave in to Harry Reid’s demands, even though Reid was surely bluffing, and the Senate passed a “clean” DHS funding bill that did nothing to block the illegal amnesty. That put the House in an untenable position. With the clock ticking down to the last hours before DHS ran out of money, it was now Republicans–not Democrats–who were standing in the way of funding the Department.

Having been sold out by the Senate, House Republicans bowed to the inevitable. John Boehner tried to pass a three-week funding extension, but didn’t have the votes. At the last possible moment, the House fell back to a seven-day extension, with Democrats providing the needed margin of support. The seven-day extension can have no possible purpose other than to give Republicans an opportunity to beat an orderly retreat.

If the Republicans wanted to arm their enemies, they couldn’t have done a better job. This is the New York Times triumphant account:

Republicans vowing to govern effectively as a congressional majority failed a fundamental test Friday, when House leaders managed to narrowly pass only a seven-day funding extension to avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security just hours before money was to run out.

That’s a news story, not an opinion column. But it’s hard to blame the Democrats for exulting. They were in a corner; they had no cards to play; the voters have ejected them from the majority in both chambers; their objective was to keep alive a patently illegal program that had already been declared so by a federal judge. And the Republicans still couldn’t manage to pull out a victory.

Politics is like anything else: if you want to succeed, you have to be good at it. As best I can tell, Washington Republicans aren’t.

We need new leadership, and we need it now.

Posted under Christianity, Conservatism, Religion general, United States by Jillian Becker on Sunday, March 1, 2015

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Darkness looms over us 3

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In the picture above, an IS member unsheathes his sword as he prepares to behead an ancient Babylonian statue.  His sheath is the Koran and the sword is covered with verses from the Koran. The caption states: “With this sword is civilization and humanity slaughtered.”

We quote Raymond Ibrahim, above and below:

The Daily Mail reports:

Islamic State thugs have destroyed a collection of priceless statues and sculptures in Iraq dating back thousands of years.

Extremists used sledgehammers and power drills to smash ancient artwork as they rampaged through a museum in the northern city of Mosul.

Video footage shows a group of bearded men in the Nineveh Museum using tools to wreck 3,000-year-old statues after pushing them over.

Extremists used sledgehammers and power drills to smash ancient artifacts at a museum in the northern city of Mosul 

Extremists used sledgehammers and power drills to smash ancient artifacts at a museum in the northern city of Mosul

Militant uses a power tool to destroy a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity at the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. The statue dates back to the 9th century B.C.

Militant uses a power tool to destroy a winged-bull Assyrian protective deity at the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq. The statue dates back to the 9th century B.C.

A man shown in the video said the items were being destroyed because they promoted idolatry.

“The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him,” the unidentified man said.

The articles destroyed appeared to come from an antiquities museum in the northern city of Mosul, which was overrun by Islamic State last June, a former employee at the museum told Reuters.

The extremist group has destroyed a number of shrines – including Muslim holy sites – in a bid to eliminate what it views as heresy.

Militants are also believed to have sold ancient artwork on the black market in order to finance their bloody campaign across the region.

ISIS destroy artifacts with sledgehammers at Mosul museum

A man shown in the video said the items were being destroyed because they promoted idolatry

 

Yesterday it was revealed how terrorists had blown up the Mosul Public Library, sending 10,000 books and more than 700 rare manuscripts up in flames.

Leading members of Mosul society reportedly tried to stop the fanatics destroying the building, but failed.

The director of the library, Ghanim al-Ta’an, said that the extremists used homemade bombs in the attack, which took place on Sunday.

He told Middle Eastern website Geran: “ISIS militants bombed the Mosul Public Library. They used improvised explosive devices.”

Presumed destroyed are the Central Library’s collection of Iraqi newspapers dating to the early 20th century, maps and books from the Ottoman Empire and book collections contributed by around 100 of Mosul’s establishment families.

Large segments of the priceless winged-bull Assyrian protective deity are hurled to the ground as militants smash it to pieces

Large segments of the priceless winged-bull Assyrian protective deity are hurled to the ground as militants smash it to pieces

Isis first invaded the Central Library in January. Residents say the extremists smashed the locks that had protected the biggest repository of learning in the northern Iraq town, and loaded around 2,000 books – including children’s stories, poetry, philosophy and tomes on sports, health, culture and science – into six pickup trucks. They left only Islamic texts.

“These books promote infidelity and call for disobeying Allah. So they will be burned,” a bearded militant in traditional Afghani two-piece clothing told residents, according to one man living nearby who spoke to The Associated Press.

The enlightened West is doing nothing to stop them.

“Our evening is over us; our night whelms, whelms and will end us.”

- Gerard Manley Hopkins: Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves. ( He was a Jesuit. But even so, a very good poet.)

Christopher Hitchens: a missionary against religion 6

One doesn’t have to like everything Christopher Hitchens says in this medley of his arguments to enjoy it.

The nice thing is that he speaks well for atheism, and puts down his religious opponents, on every point they raise, briskly and thoroughly.

Posted under Atheism, Christianity, Judaism, Religion general, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, February 22, 2015

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A man who wouldn’t want to go to heaven 6

Stephen Fry (fellow atheist) is urged by Gay Byrne to entertain the idea of an omnipotent, good, creator God, and speak to him at the gates of heaven.

So he tells the imaginary being, in blistering terms, that he is a monster of evil.

 

(Hat-tip to our reader and commenter Frank)

 

 

Posted under Religion general, Theology, Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, February 17, 2015

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The perpetual church bizarre 4

The Left has long wanted government to act as a nanny or better still a parent to the people it governs.

Millions, perhaps billions, of people want to be kept like children by governments: housed, fed, taught, nursed, cared for, from the cradle to the grave. For this supreme benefit – having all their needs supplied by the Grown-Ups in the Castle – they are willing to give up their freedom; to do as they’re told; to keep their heads down, their hands out. Oh, and more. Much more. They will love Big Father and Big Mother.

Their bodies will be tended. Even their minds will be fed – just adequately, enough to keep them obedient.

Could glorification of government be taken any further?

Why, yes! It could. It is.

Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) goes much further. He  wants government to be the people’s god.

CNS news reports that Cummings, addressing the Legislative Conference of the National Treasury Employees Union on February 4, said:  

So many people come to government knowing that they are not going to make the kind of money they would make in the private sector but they come to government to feed their souls.

There’s a gap in his message. He must be meaning to say:

So many people come to government knowing that they are not going to make the kind of money they would make in the private sector but it is not just money they want, not just the means to feed their bodies. They are not gross materialists! They are not greedy like bankers, conservatives, rich people, big donors to the Republican Party, entrepreneurs, businessmen, capitalists, free marketeers, and people who voted for Bush. No: they come to government to feed their souls.

His assertion on behalf of “so many people” frankly confirms our contention that Leftism is a religion.

Debunking the “fine-tuning” argument for the existence of a creator god 5

Fun to watch.

Posted under Religion general, Science, Videos by Jillian Becker on Sunday, February 8, 2015

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Islam must be criticized 2

Muslims dread criticism of Islam, whether as mockery, reasoned argument, or distaste however expressed.

Some Muslims who spoke against the recent murder, by Muslims, of French satirists who mocked Muhammad, are – it appears, to no one’s surprise –  far more earnestly against free speech.

They spoke at a conference convened by a Muslim organization to examine ideas: Are there limits to freedom of speech? Is it immoral to mock a religion? Should it be made criminal to mock or in any way criticize a religion (especially Islam)?

Andrew Harrod writes at Front Page:

“Freedom of speech is not total,” proclaimed the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy’s (CSID) William Lawrence at its January 22 panel on the Muslim Response to Charlie Hebdo:  Understanding the Root Causes of Radicalization. Lawrence’s caveat disturbingly introduced false justifications for non-violently achieving the very sharia censorship sought by Charlie Hebdo’s jihadist murderers before a National Press Club audience of about fifty. …

Lawrence’s opening condemnation of the globally infamous January 7 Paris massacre as a “complete aberration” of “Islamic teachings” quickly gave way to criticism of the satire magazine’s victims. Their murders were “orgies of violence unleashed on . . . purveyors” of “bigoted provocations,” making Charlie Hebdo’s satire not just irreverent, but immoral in Lawrence’s estimation. “When did bigotry get so needy” that it sheltered behind free speech claims, Lawrence later asked while quoting an article criticizing cartoon racism, as if criticizing Islamic ideas equaled individual prejudice. Accordingly, Lawrence cited the legally discredited phrase from American Supreme Court history that “you can’t shout fire in a crowded theater,” a universal talking point of censors.

One’s race is not a choice. A race is not a set of ideas. A race cannot be “wrong”.

Ideas can be wrong. To determine how wrong an idea is, it obviously needs to be criticially examined.

Religious ideas are apodictic – established beyond all doubt –  to their believers. They brook no contradiction. Each religion believes it has the monopoly of “truth”, though none agrees with any other.

And in the name of this or that religious “truth”, uncountable millions have been persecuted, tormented, and killed.

Islamist and sharia apologist Dalia Mogahed [picked by Obama for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships – ed], continued Lawrence’s use of the Muslim “race” card implicitly blaming the Charlie Hebdo victims and focused on Europe’s “limits and boundaries of tolerance”. “Certain things will not be said” in the United States, “not because it’s illegal, but because it’s immoral,” she noted without defining Charlie Hebdo’s immorality.

It is immoral (though not necessarily always bad) to lie. It is immoral to make false accusation. It is immoral not to examine ideas. 

The lady goes on to confuse ideology with race:

Historic “offensive cartoons” of African-Americans make modern Americans “rightly cringe”.  Mogahed’s equivalence between racists and Charlie Hebdo entailed that the French should “hurry up and get enlightened” about satirists. Yet Mogahed bemoaned how many instead sought merely to “reassert our right to offend”.

If someone feels offended when reasonable fault is found with an idea of his, he has no one to blame but himself. If he cannot find cogent argument to support his contention, he stands corrected whether he likes it or not.

CSID President Radwan Masmoudi, like his fellow panelists, wrongly equated religious ideas with individuals as worthy of protection. He emphasized that “every freedom also has limits” and excluded a “right to transgress on others” during audience questioning.

Should freedom have limits? We say in our Articles of Reason: My liberty should be limited by nothing but everyone else’s liberty. 

 Masmoudi described a “big debate” over whether free speech includes a right to “insult others” or “religion”. …

Asked about speech restrictions in Muslim-majority countries … Masmoudi referenced a supposed “right not to be insulted’. “It is dangerous to insult people based upon their race or . . . religion,” Masmoudi elaborated with once again a race/religion conflation. Such offenses are “not . . . conducive to peace or a democratic society” …

A statement, that, in which a threat is only very lightly veiled.

Such is the analysis of CSID, described by Lawrence as the world’s “preeminent NGO” for the “study of democratic and Islamic thought” and their “modern synthesis”. Not free speech under murderous assault, but offense to Muslim religious sensibilities, falsely equated with prejudices like racism, formed the panel’s main concern demanding, where possible, legal restrictions.

*

Every idea needs to be tested by critical examination. It is the only way to arrive at the truth. Truth is elusive, and absolute certainty (outside of abstract systems such as mathematics and logic) impossible. But the pursuit of truth is the most important mission of mankind.

It is because absolute certainty is impossible that every idea needs to be subjected to critical examination.

Ideas that are propounded with the most certainty are the ones that most certainly need to be criticized.

Religious ideas are propounded with the most certainty, so religious ideas most need to be criticized.

Yet it is widely considered specially wrong to criticize a religion. To do so is called disrespectful at the very least. At worst it is called “blasphemy” and in some societies the “blasphemer” is severely punished, even executed.

The West has grown powerful, prosperous, and ever more inventive by criticizing ideas. Doubt is the cause, the secret, the trick of its power, prosperity and inventiveness.

Science is the most fruitful application of doubt. A scientist tries continually to prove his ideas wrong. If he fails in that, he succeeds in establishing a truth. Philosophically that truth may remain forever provisional, but it will serve us well. The blood does circulate. The earth does go round the sun.

At present there is a clamor swelling in the forums – physical or electronic – where religious and political panjandrums meet, to demand protection of religion from criticism. The loudest demand comes from Islamic leaders. Though they say religion as such should be protected, they mean only one religion, their own. They want the world to agree that to criticize Islam is a criminal offense. They want laws laid down in every country to make criticism of Islam a crime. Why? Because they recognize that criticism is the most lethal weapon that could be used against them. Words can destroy Islam.

As we say in our Articles of Reason: Many a belief can survive persecution but not critical examination.

Lamentably, powerful Western politicians on the sinister side of Western thought, the political Left, are helping the Muslims achieve their aim. Already most Western European countries have laws sheltering Islam from any criticism, and critics of Islam have been prosecuted and convicted. (Go here to read an ex-Muslim’s condemnation of these prosecutions.)

A counter-clamor is needed: millions of Western voices raised, daily, hourly, continually, against the ideas that constitute the religion of Islam.

Against God and Socialism (repeat) 15

This article in praise of Capitalism was first posted in 2011. We reproduce it now because our recent post Communism is secular Christianity (January 14, 2015) reminded us of it

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It is human nature to be selfish. If we weren’t selfish we wouldn’t survive. If we didn’t eat when we were hungry, warm ourselves when we were cold, seek cures for our illnesses, defend ourselves (and our children and our life-sustaining property), we’d die out pretty damn quick. Or rather, we would never have come into existence as a species at all.

We are most of us capable of sympathy with others, and we often willingly give away a thing we own to another person. Some are altruistic. A few will even give up their lives to save the lives of others. Nevertheless, we are all naturally and necessarily selfish.

Christianity and Communism require human nature to change. As it can’t, Christianity’s commandments to love our enemies and forgive those who do us harm turn many a person of good will and high aspiration into a hypocrite if not a corpse. Communist theorists have never settled the question of whether human nature must change so that the Revolution can take place, or whether the Revolution must take place in order for human nature to change. Of course it will never change, but there’s no stopping the collectivist dolts arguing about it.

Capitalism works well because it is in tune with our nature. Adam Smith called it “the natural order of liberty”. Everyone selfishly desires to provide for his needs. To pay for what he wants from others – services and goods – he has to provide something that others will pay him for. Millions do it, and the result is prosperity. Capitalism is an abstract machine most beautiful to behold in the wonder of its workings. When individuals have the incentive to achieve, acquire, and enjoy something for themselves, they’ll go to great lengths to afford it. They’ll compete with each other to provide what others want, toil to make it the better product, and set the price of it lower. The best is made available at the least cost. Everyone is both a taker and a giver, and everyone benefits. True, not everyone’s effort always succeeds, but nothing stops anyone from trying again.

Of course capitalism isn’t a remedy for every ill and discontent. But a capitalist society offers the best chance to an individual to make the best of his condition – being alive – which presents him with a tough challenge – to stay alive for a few score years, and make those years as good as his energy, cunning, and adaptability to conditions outside of his control (plus his statistically likely share of luck), can help them to be.

In a capitalist society no one has a fixed place, whether below, in the middle, or on top. A person can rise, sink, or stay. A truly capitalist society is necessarily a free society in which no one is prevented, by some ruler or ruling clique, from bettering his lot, striving, succeeding, or failing.

Capitalism is the enemy of that God of whom all the children in the British Empire used to sing at morning prayers in school assemblies before the Second World War:

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small;

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all. …

The rich man in his castle,

The poor man at his gate,

He made them high and lowly,

He ordered their estate.

The children were being taught to be content with everything as it was, trusting that God the ruler up there, all wise, permanent and unchallengeable had ordained how everyone had his fixed place and should stay in it, and because He had ordained it, it must be perfect. The recognition that such a God was an indefensible authoritarian, a whim-driven cosmic dictator, an unjust and arrogant tyrant, came – perhaps unconsciously – to the choosers of Anglican hymns only after a few of the earth’s dictators had been trounced in a prolonged and terrible blood-letting.

But then Socialists took over from God. They decided what was best for humanity. They established the Welfare State. No rich men in castles, no poor men at gates. The State would provide every citizen with depressing accommodation, dull food, health care if he were judged worthy of being kept alive, indoctrination in schools. Though the Socialist State is a slave society, the citizens are not called slaves but Social Security Recipients, National Health Patients, Students, Workers. The belief of their rulers is that they’ll be content because the State provides them with “everything”; they’ll be grateful for the food however poor, the unit in the tower block however depressing, the bed in the hospital however filthy, the indoctrination however boring. The great thing about it, to the collectivist mind, is they won’t have to strive to keep alive. And no one will have cause to pity or envy anyone else, since no one will have less or worse, or more or better – except of course the rulers up there, all wise, permanent and unchallengeable who ordain that everyone else has his fixed place. They reserve plenty, choice, comfort, luxury, information, and power to themselves.

The recognition that such a State is counter to the human instinct for freedom – call it “selfishness “ if you will – should have come to every sane adult the world over when the Soviet Empire crashed. The idea of Socialism should have died then. But if it did, it was only for a short time. Like the Christian God, it rose again, and lives now in the White House, an administration indefensibly authoritarian, whim-driven, unjust, and arrogant.

Selfish human nature with its instinct for liberty, its impelling desire to possess what is good for it materially and mentally, is the force that can and must defeat it.

Lashings of Allah 8

Horrible news from Gatestone by Valentina Colombo:

Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger, has been sentenced to 1000 lashes, ten years in jail and a fine of $270,000 for a blog regarded by Saudi Arabia’s regime as insulting Islam.

The lashing was due to be carried out today, so we are assuming that it was, at least in part. So many lashes have been ordered, the torturer will probably need several sessions to complete his assignment. After which, of course, Reason itself will have learnt its lesson and never dare utter a word in Saudi Arabia again.

Badawi was condemned, according to Amnesty International, for having co-founded a website, “Saudi Arabian Liberals,” and for having written and published on it … as well as on Facebook and Twitter …

He criticized and made fun of Saudi institutions such as the Commission for the Promotion of Goodness and the Prohibition of Vice (also known as “the religious police”), the Saudi Grand Mufti, other Saudi ulema [religious scholars].

The long sentence of the Criminal Court of the district of Jeddah stated that he had undermined the “public order”.

In an interview published in August 2007 by the liberal website Afaaq, Badawi stated that “liberals in Saudi Arabia live between the anvil of State and the hammer of the religious police”.

He also said this:

My commitment is to the advancement of civil society in my country, to reject any repression in the name of religion, to promote liberal* enlightened Saudis whose primary objective is being active in civil society, a goal that we will reach in a peaceful and law-abiding way.


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Saudi blogger Raif Badawi (left) and his lawyer Walid Abu al-Khayr

We can only hope that this intelligent and brave young man, a secularist and probably an atheist, survives his appalling ordeal, and his ten years in a notoriously hellish Arab prison.

It would be going too far to hope that his fate will persuade the political leaders of the Western world that Islam is a primitive savage cruel ideology rather than the “beautiful religion” they insistently tell us it is.

* We think and hope he means “liberal” in the true sense of the word: favoring freedom. Not in the contemporary American sense: not favoring freedom.

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