04-21-2012, 10:11 AM
Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012
In memoriam: After years of health problems, Facts has finally died.
April 19, 2012|By Rex W. Huppke, Chicago Tribune (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-19/news/ct-talk-huppke-obit-facts-20120419_1_facts-philosopher-opinion) reporter
A quick review of the long and illustrious career of Facts reveals some of the world's most cherished absolutes: Gravity makes things fall down; 2 + 2 = 4; the sky is blue.
But for many, Facts' most memorable moments came in simple day-to-day realities, from a child's certainty of its mother's love to the comforting knowledge that a favorite television show would start promptly at 8 p.m.
Over the centuries, Facts became such a prevalent part of most people's lives that Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said: "Facts are to the mind what food is to the body."
To the shock of most sentient beings, Facts died Wednesday, April 18, after a long battle for relevancy with the 24-hour news cycle, blogs and the Internet. Though few expected Facts to pull out of its years-long downward spiral, the official cause of death was from injuries suffered last week when Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of theU.S. House of Representatives are communists.
Facts held on for several days after that assault — brought on without a scrap of evidence or reason — before expiring peacefully at its home in a high school physics book. Facts was 2,372.
"It's very depressing," said Mary Poovey, a professor of English at New York University and author of "A History of the Modern Fact." "I think the thing Americans ought to miss most about facts is the lack of agreement that there are facts. This means we will never reach consensus about anything. Tax policies, presidential candidates. We'll never agree on anything."
Facts was born in ancient Greece, the brainchild of famed philosopher Aristotle. Poovey said that in its youth, Facts was viewed as "universal principles that everybody agrees on" or "shared assumptions."
But in the late 16th century, English philosopher and scientist Sir Francis Bacon took Facts under his wing and began to develop a new way of thinking.
"There was a shift of the word 'fact' to refer to empirical observations," Poovey said.
Facts became concrete observations based on evidence. It was growing up.
Through the 19th and 20th centuries, Facts reached adulthood as the world underwent a shift toward proving things true through the principles of physics and mathematical modeling. There was respect for scientists as arbiters of the truth, and Facts itself reached the peak of its power.
But those halcyon days would not last.
People unable to understand how science works began to question Facts. And at the same time there was a rise in political partisanship and a growth in the number of media outlets that would disseminate information, rarely relying on feedback from Facts.
"There was an erosion of any kind of collective sense of what's true or how you would go about verifying any truth claims," Poovey said. "Opinion has become the new truth. And many people who already have opinions see in the 'news' an affirmation of the opinion they already had, and that confirms their opinion as fact."
Though weakened, Facts managed to persevere through the last two decades, despite historic setbacks that included President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, the justification for President George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq and the debate over President Barack Obama's American citizenship.
04-21-2012, 04:07 PM
One topic of discussion which comes up every so often is the connection between fervent evangelical Christianity and equally fervent anti-communism. In the minds of many Americans, atheism and communism are indelibly linked and political actions opposed to communism have long taken the form of strengthening America's public Christianity.
It was thus that the American government made “In God We Trust” the national motto and put it on all money in the 1950s. It was also for this reason that “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance around the same time.
Because of all this, one gets the impression that the Bible is some sort of treatise on capitalism and Jesus an early venture capitalist. The fact that just the opposite appears to be true is thus very surprising. The book of Acts has two explicit passages depicting the very communistic nature of the early Christian community:
All that believed were together, and had all things in common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Is it possible that Marx’s famous line “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” took its inspiration directly from the New Testament? Immediately following this second passage is a very interesting story about a couple, Ananias and Sapphira, who sold a piece of property but only gave the community a portion of the proceeds, keeping some of it for themselves. When Peter confronts them with this, they both fall down and die - leaving the impression (for many people) that they were struck dead.
Killing bourgeoisie land owners who fail to give all of their money to the community? That’s not merely communism, that’s Stalinism.
Of course, in addition to the above, there are many, many statements attributed to Jesus which emphasize doing all that you can to help the poor — even to the point of him recommending that a rich man sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor if he really wishes to get into heaven. The Old Testament also indicates that something akin to communism is the preferable way to live:
This is what the Lord has commanded: Gather of it, every man of you, as much as he can eat; you shall take an omer apiece, according to the number of persons who each of you has in his tent. And the people of Israel did so; they gathered some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; each gathered according to what he could eat
It is no wonder, then, that any number of Christian groups have adopted ways of living which, while explicitly based upon biblical stories, are also expressions of communist ideals. Such groups include the Shakers, Mormons, Hutterites and more.
In summary, this isn’t so much a problem with the Bible as it is a problem with the people who claim to follow the Bible and use it as their primary guide to how they should live their lives. Some certainly take passages like the above to heart — witness the strong social ethic of many Catholics and the very communistic Liberation Theology which has developed out of Catholicism.
Most, however, simply ignore the above passages - just as they ignore so much else which is politically or morally inconvenient.
04-21-2012, 04:12 PM
by Darren Pedigo Guest Writer Dandelion Salad The Red Star Journal July 13, 2009
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“Capitalism is the way of the devil and exploitation. If you really want to look at things through the eyes of Jesus Christ – who I think was the first socialist – only socialism can really create a genuine society.” – Hugo Chavez
Personally, I don’t think Jesus ever existed. I do not say this to hurt my Comrades of the Christian, Muslim, or Messianic Jewish faiths, but rather because I just haven’t seen enough evidence. I personally think Jesus was a collection of Mediterranean myths, from Horus to Zeus, culminating in St. Paul’s church. And if he did exist, I seriously have doubts about his divinity. But regardless of existence or divinity, if the quotes and records of him are accurate, he remains one of the better role models humans have strive to emulate and probably the first and most profound Socialist/Communist ever. More so in relevance and in direct content than any other religious figure or deity. Possessing a wider span of Communism than many or most Socialist thinkers.
Socialism is often associated with Atheistic tendencies, and as an Atheist-Socialist it’s ironic I have to remind people that many Socialist grassroots groups, especially originating in France, were Christian Socialists. Determined and sure that the general philosophy of Marx was the practice of the divine philosophy laid down by Jesus so many centuries ago. One only has to look in the Bible itself to reinforce such ideas:
Acts 2:42 – 45: 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Acts 4:32-37: 32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts 5:1-10, is perhaps the most blatant and relevant evidence that the Apostles and early Christians did not view Communism as something optional:
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. 6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
Luke 1:49-53: 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
One of Jesus’ most famous remarks regarding the wealthy can be found in Matthew 19:16-24 (the same event is also described in Mark 10:17-25 and Luke 18:18-25, and the metaphor of a camel going through the eye of a needle is common to both Matthew and Luke).
16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why do you ask me about what is good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19 Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. 22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Jesus also described “money changers” (i.e. those engaged in currency exchange) as “thieves” and chased them out of the Temple in Jerusalem. This is described in Matthew 21:12-14, Mark 11:15, and John 2:14-16. The text in Matthew reads as follows:
12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
People often attribute altruism to Communism & Socialism. I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case as a willful contribution to the whole is in one’s own rational self-interest. But certainly Socialism is the guarantee of protecting one’s own liberty by defending everyone’s liberty, no person excluded. This reinforced in the book of Mark 12:28-31:
28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? 29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Jesus gave an account of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25:31-46, in which he identifies himself with the hungry, the poor and the sick, and states that good or evil done upon “the least of [God's] brethren” will be counted as good or evil done upon God himself. It is argued that Jesus is saying that nations, rather than individuals, would be judged according to the characteristics of their societies. If that is the case, this could imply that political and economic systems were being heavily critiqued as well (an argument I happen to agree with) :
31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats; 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 For I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 Naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal.
Even in the Old Testament there are hints of such a coming critique of man’s social and economic predicament:
Leviticus 25:35-38: “If one [...] becomes poor [...] help him [...] so he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God [...] You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.”
So clearly there is a spiritual foundation in non Dogmatic Christianity for those striving for a Socialist world free of injustice or tyranny. Combined with the pragmatic and logical economic and sociological revelations of Karl Marx, I dare say you have the ingredients for a World Revolution. I strongly urge my Christian Comrades to take back the image of Christ as some Militant Redneck or a product to be pushed on television for the highest possible advertising buck. A stage prop for the hateful, bigoted Right Wing agenda of terror and genocide we’ve seen unleashed globally for over 500 years. But instead show Jesus, whether he be savior, prophet, or just a character, as an anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, radical, peace loving Liberal with a Revolutionary bent. It’s not much of a stretch.
It is so easy to find blatant hypocrisy in any authoritarian institution man creates, secular or otherwise, but it is also just as easy to find a commonality in a wide range ideological, political, or religious dogmas that might have small variations in their will toward one another. Yet they all share a prerequisite and need for the adherents to have the liberty to learn, grow, and find the most conducive environment for developing their own human being. We will not find such a place in the dog eat dog world Capitalism and all its form has presented with starving, competing masses and wage slaves, but rather the sane, simple, and humane methods of self-governing and self-determination that Socialism embodies. And none more so than those great minds that come once and awhile and show us just how simple, natural, and plausible the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind can be. From Jesus to Marx to Martin Luther King.
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