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Ode to Cpl. Carlton B. Jones

Mr. Ta-Nehisi Coates recently added a National Book Award to his MacArthur Foundation “genius” award given to him in gratitude for telling rich white folks what they want to hear: unlike all other former slaves and their descendants in the world and throughout history, being black is a “struggle” that “black bodies” cannot survive without their help and noblesse oblige. In his acceptance speech, he dedicated the award to his deceased friend Prince C. Jones, Jr. with whom he has much in common. They both lived a life of privilege with little struggle in life (except for the beatings that Mr. Coates received from his father that he then dished out to the other kids in the neighborhood and his teachers); received much family, emotional, material, and financial support from their extended family and numerous friends all of whom were college educated; received excellent educational opportunities from their parents and the American education system; and then received a free ride to college. Mr. Coates spent five years of that free ride engaging in sexual conquests and then having a child (but at least stayed and continues to live with the mother) but never graduating. Prince Jones ended seven years of that free ride not by finally graduating but by intentionally ramming his jeep — that his mommy bought for him — into what he knew to be an unmarked police car resulting in his being shot to death by the police officer in the car. Prince Jones left behind a baby mama and a daughter — another fatherless black family. Given that Mr. Jones was twice arrested for beating the mother of his child including once when she was 8 months pregnant, with the addition of the multi-million dollar civil settlement from the offending police department some good may come out of his death after all.

 

What the “journalist” Mr. Coates almost always leaves out of his story about his friend Mr. Prince Jones, that he left out of his book except in a one-line passing side comment, and that he left out and always leaves out except as a cursory side comment in all of his discussions about Mr. Jones, as the Washington Post was at least honest enough to admit, is: “Black Victim, Black Cop, Black County.” The officer that shot Mr. Jones, Cpl. Carlton B. Jones, was a “black body”, the term that Mr. Coates uses in his book to refer to himself, to his son, to Mr. Jones, and to others of his “tribe” or “race”, terms that he uses despite claiming that such terms are the product or source of racism (he cannot make up his mind which). Cpl. Jones worked for and was trained by the “black elite” of Prince George’s County. This is one of the many dishonest exclusions if not outright distortions of Mr. Coates’ polemics that caused me to write the book Between the World and Us and that caused me to continue on into this blog.

 

But, to whom should I dedicate this blog? At first, as an act of irony, I was going to dedicate it to Mr. Coates’ grandmother who “cleaned white folks’ houses” in the same way that my poor, immigrant, uneducated white mother did after coming to this country as a refugee from communist Yugoslavia and a life of peasant farming going back generations. After cleaning their houses while also cleaning tables at restaurants for a few years, my mother was able to get a night job as an office cleaning lady that eventually led to the attainment of the holy grail of working class work: a union job (cleaning offices as part of the SEIU). When I was a younger man that could cry, it would bring tears to my eyes when I thought of how little I saw her during my high school years. By the time I got home from school, she had already gone to work. When I got up in the morning, she was sleeping having not gotten home until 2 or 3AM from work. I still remember a few nights when I was awake in my bed and she would quietly open my door and peak in just to see me. To this day, I do not know why I did not say anything or greet her. It just did not seem to be the right thing to do at the time. God, if I had a time machine, I would change those moments. Her cleaning lady job put food on the table, paid the mortgage, and avoided welfare for us during the years that my father was disabled from his construction laborer job and only able to find part-time work when he found any. She was glad to have the job and was good at her job.

 

The same must be true for Mr. Coates’s grandmother. Her hard work resulted in great success: his whole family including his parents and his siblings, except for Mr. Coates, are college educated and well off and thus have succeeded in the American Dream that he ridicules (his siblings work as engineers, lawyers, and business owners as did his father and mother).

 

As is true of all social elite especially writers going all the way back to Aristotle, Mr. Coates looks down on the menial, physical work done by his grandmother as demeaning. It is good enough for the likes of the poor such as my mother but not for his “gem of purest ray serene” to “waste [her] sweetness on the desert air.” Pride in one’s work and respecting the work of others, including the hard physical work in which the vast majority of humanity has toiled and is toiling, is to be restricted to the creative work of such geniuses as Mr. Coates and is not to be granted working stiffs with no hope in the present but only in the future.

 

However, I rejected such irony because such dedication would not be fair to his grandmother. If his story about her is true, which I doubt given Mr. Coates’ tendency to distort reality, no doubt she appreciates and wants her privacy in the same way my mother does. Though being a cleaning lady supporting your family is honorable work that should be a source of strength, social support, and an individual sense of worth as all work should be, it really is miserable work.

 

No, my dedication should be and is to the forgotten soul in need of much empathy in the Prince Jones half-story told by Mr. Coates: Cpl. Carlton B. Jones. Mr. Coates as with the vast majority of pundits these days gets rich sitting in the stands watching the gladiators fight life’s battles and then criticizes their technique, tactics, and strategy — another one of the privileges of life in the United States granted to Mr. Coates. This is a privilege not given to workingmen and women, white or black. This was not a privilege given to Cpl. Jones.

 

As a workingman, Cpl. Jones joined both the Army Reserve and became a police officer because according to his deposition he was “inspired by the vision of racial harmony invoked by Martin Luther King, Jr.” As many a workingman did throughout United States history, he joined the military and gave the rest of society a blank check for his life to use as it saw fit to defend the Constitution of which Mr. Coates is always invoking its protection — though never willing to risk anything to protect it. Regardless of how naive this inspiration was, I admire the willingness to do it as I did and am grateful personally that he as a “black body” did so regardless of the overall or ultimate ethical nature of the military. Having grown up in a segregated working class neighborhood that defended itself against all it perceived to be a danger to the little its residents had, all strangers or outsiders both white and black ones, the military was my first opportunity to work with and become shipmates with a “black body.” He and all other “black bodies” who joined the military throughout the years and became trusted shipmates and comrades did and do much to reduce racism in this country, vastly more than either pretend intellectual elites such as Mr. Coates or pretend warriors such as the Malcolm X’s and Black Panthers of the world too busy concentrating on their struggles for personal power to be mates or comrades to anyone else. Though I am not a fan of police officers, I do understand and admire his inspiration to become a police officer to put the bad guys away and to fight for truth, justice, and the American way of life.

 

Unfortunately, as young idealists such as Cpl. Jones soon learn, it is not always clear who the bad guys are, and truth, justice, and the American way of life are not what Martin Luther King nor any other politician, white or black, makes them appear to be. As Clarence Darrow once said, “there is no justice in life, in or out of court.” As Mr. Coates’ journalism, books, and awards establish, truth is what those in power say is true — most of the time, in the world of the blind, the one-eyed man is not king but a danger to be eliminated. That aspect of the American way of life consisting of the High Noon image of a solitary peace officer standing up against the bad guys is an idealistic one but also a delusional one. As many a military veteran has learned and as Cpl. Jones learned the night that Prince Jones decided to ram him with his jeep, despite intense training, the facing of death and danger with rational reserve and then spitting in their faces sounds nice and looks cool on television, movies, and in the books by writers such as Mr. Coates who have never faced such a situation and most likely never will, but it is a completely different matter to face in reality. Facing what appears to be an attempt to kill by someone willing to kill is scary, especially the first time. If John Wayne or Russell Crowe faced Prince Jones on the night that Cpl. Jones did, perhaps they would have been able to transfer their screen persona into life and everyone would have survived completely unharmed. Based on my life experience, I doubt it. As many a man or woman in similar circumstances throughout history have done, Cpl. Jones got scared, could not think straight, and began to shoot wildly at his attacker. A mistake with which he must live for the rest of his life.

 

The undisputed fact about life is that if one tries to work, to do things in life, to actually fight the battle and problem that is life, one will make mistakes about which the critics such as Mr. Coates sitting in the stands watching can then critique, ridicule, write about, and be rewarded. However, my hat and dedication is to those in the arena fighting the battle that is life. Cpl. Jones seems to have disappeared from the county police department and I have not been able to locate him anywhere. No doubt, if he still is or ever was the idealist that his court deposition makes him appear to be, he is somewhere still suffering from the guilt of his mistake. He is doing so without the empathy of public sympathy but with the public humiliation of having his mistake constantly marketed and publicized by Mr. Coates so that he can sell books. Wherever he is, I wish him good hope. As a military veteran and thus as a warrior, he should not need and I hope he succeeds in dealing with his guilt without the publicity and public sympathy that Mr. Coates needs and craves. At least, as a fellow workingman, I hope that we are comrades in the never ending struggle with the powers-that-be that we are destined to lose — in this life at least.

Why Does God Hate the Poor: Is God Moral?

If I thought of God as another being like myself, outside myself, only infinitely more powerful, then I would regard it as my duty to defy him.
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Is god moral? To contemplate this question, we must have some agreement on the meaning of the words “morality” and of “God”. For simplicity, I will usually use the classical “He” to reference God since I lose track of the present fad of grammatically cycling between “She” and “He” and  because “It” seems to lessen the seriousness of my contemplation. Personally, I do not care whether God is a He, She, or Whatever.

 
I submit the meaning of the word “God” is probably easier to agree upon existentially. We have to contemplate this question in the same way one would contemplate the ontological proof of God: from the perspective of the word “God”, that is of our definition and understanding of the existential meaning of the word “God”. Whatever meaning that word has for anyone regardless of whether they are a theist or an atheist or anything in between, its one necessary and universal attribute would be that the word “God” by definition means the reason for their being something instead of nothing — this is true even of a pantheistic version of God in which the universe and its existence occurs by necessity or simply by luck through the workings of universal scientific empirical laws and thus these laws are your God. Agnosticism is not rational; since this is a rational contemplation, I am not dealing with agnosticism. I am therefore I think — I think in particular and especially about my existence. If I think then I think of the reason for there being something instead of nothing including there being me. It is irrational, delusional, and cowardly to fail to take a position on the reason I or anything exists.

 
For morality, the only attribute for its meaning that is universally agreed upon is that it is an act of will. It is an act of will giving meaning to a meaningless universe. That we “will” may be an illusion and the choices we make pre-destined or pre-determined by empirical material reality but even if such is true, all moral, immoral, and amoral choices would still be called and are acts of will or choices — free or not. Morally, immorally, and even amorally, even if I am pre-determined or pre-destined to be something, I can still reject that something. If there is no free will other than the illusion of freedom, such rejection will only be nominal and a fight I cannot ever hope to win but it is still there as a choice and a powerful one at least existentially if not for anything else. It is a choice that will define me and give meaning to the meaninglessness of my life even if it is a predestined or predetermined life because morality as the absurd hero Meursault of Albert Camus’s The Stranger finally realized as he faced the gallows is “opening [one’s] heart to the benign indifference of the universe” and willing to give its meaninglessness meaning. There is a large existential difference between accepting one’s fate and fighting against it — even if the fight is destined to end in loss. Remember the last words of Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus; as Sisyphus looked down and contemplated his meaningless task and became conscious of his wretched condition, in this tragic moment he realized “[t]he struggle itself […] is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy”.  (For a more detailed analytic contemplation of the meaning of the words “free will”, please see Wittgenstein on the ‘Illusion’ of Free Will.)

 
As contemplated earlier, ethics, good, and evil are meaningless when discussing God. But what about morality? Despite His necessary nature, does it make sense to talk about God making moral, immoral, or amoral choices? Or, as Socrates asked, is something moral because God wants it or does She want it because it is moral? If the reason for there being something instead of nothing is simply the universe and you are an atheist or your God is pantheistic, it makes no sense to apply any concept of morality to God — the universe simply is, its meaning is to exist. Its existence precedes its essence and precedes language and thus any wordgame of morality. What if you have a personal God such as the Christian God Who is a Being? He is an infinite, omnipresent, and all-powerful Being but still a Being. As a Being, is He able to will the universe to have meaning and thus have a morality? At first impression, it appears that the concept of morality should apply to a personal God. However, in reaching this first impression, we forget what morality is: willing to give meaning to a meaningless universe. Even a personal God does not need to will anything nor does He need meaning; His existence is its own meaning. She is complete and whole, infinitely and completely in Himself or Herself or whatever your personal God may be and Existence is the meaning of God. Therefore, God is not moral or immoral but the best way to describe even a personal theistic God is to say He is completely amoral. I must say the “best way” or seems because as with the pantheistic God, this existence that is the essence of God also precedes language and thus logically and strictly speaking is something “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”.

 

God being amoral or the wordgame of morality not applying to God makes perfect sense as Wittgenstein’s famous quote above brings out. If God were really just another moral busybody or even the most powerful moral busybody of all telling me how I should be living my life in the short span I have in life, He is no better than any other moral busy body except in degree not in substance or essence.  He is no better in quality than any other existentially created morality that makes my life simply a mascot for its sense of morality; I might as well create my own morality and enjoy being a god myself.

 
That should answer the question as to whether God is moral for all concepts of God, except for Christianity and its Trinity or any equivalent form of theism or polytheism.  I suggest that the theologians of the early Church came up with the Trinity concept as a way around the amoral nature of God. As always, the ancients were a lot smarter than what we give them credit for being. Since the Trinity includes a person who is human, Jesus Christ, the question of His morality must continue. Given that Jesus Christ — the Jesus Christ Person in the Christian God — is human, is Jesus Christ moral? Regardless of what one might think of Him, there can be no dispute that He is moral. According to the Christian concept of what Jesus Christ is and then on to the Beatitudes and on to anything that can be ascribed to him, this Christ Person does want to give meaning to life and does not exist simply as having the power of His Existence be its own meaning and an end in itself. According to the Trinity dogma, there is a Third Person, the Holy Spirit, that is the relationship between God the Father and the Christ Person. So for a Christian with Faith, the answer is that God, through Jesus Christ, is moral. God loves us, wants us to be happy, will reward us in heaven for following his morality, so on, and so forth. At this point, we are leaving rationality and getting into Kierkegaard’s existential Leap to Faith and of Pascal’s Gamble that are beyond this essay.

 
However, the Trinity problem does not solve the initial question we are asking. So far, there is no problem with the use of words. Like the ontological proof, we are dealing with logically subtle and abstract but sound and valid reasoning derived from the very meaning of the words and concepts used. Morality is an act of the will, not of reason. Morality is an individual willing meaning into the world. And thus, evil is the opposite of whatever this good the individual defines to be. God, in the non-Christian sense is amoral because God just is. The Christian option seems to be that in exchange for accepting as a necessary part of God’s amoral nature all the suffering that has been, is, and will be part of humanity — in exchange for accepting that — we will be rewarded with happiness in heaven by the human person in God: Jesus Christ. By accepting the massacre of the innocents, I will be happy. Such beliefs do give meaning to life and thus are a morality.

 

But it is not one with which I want to be involved. Or, morally should be involved? Why not? Because it is unfair and unjust — it is not a fair and just way of getting results. So what? Again, it is God’s universe. He can do with it as He or She pleases. Why do I not want to be involved in it? Is it altruism on my part or arrogance and conceit? Is it because I want to have greater power than God? Since God is amoral, is He also unjust and unfair? I will consider these questions next.

Why does God hate the Poor? Prologue / Part III

This next essay dealing with this question was supposed to deal with the issue of whether God is moral. However, I’m going out of context for this essay because of comments that I have received. Some still say that the question of why God hates the poor is the same as asking why God allows good and evil. It is not the same question. I’m going to use the argument for “intelligent design” as a means to further explain and differentiate why my question is distinct from and is not the same as the question of why does God allow good and evil to exist.

 
The argument called intelligent design is made by its proponents as an argument for the existence of a personal God in opposition to some evolutionists who argue there is no such God. Logically, in terms of the nature and philosophy of science both arguments are essentially nonsense because neither argument is scientific. Statistical analysis and correlation are all modern science needs to be science. This essay series does not deal in the philosophy of science so I will not deal with the nature of evolution nor philosophy of science but only contemplate the intelligent design argument as a means to specify and clarify the relationship between God and the poor.  The argument from intelligent design is substantively unsound and a fallacy because there is no intelligent design in the universe. From the smallest part of reality and onto the largest and from the smallest event in history and onto the largest historical events, reality and history is ruled by arbitrary and random acts. Everything in life is essentially decided by luck, despite popular opinion to the contrary. For example, even supposed obvious differences in good and evil in popular opinion between a Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and an Adolf Hitler and the events of which they were a part are not the result of any inherent differences in the universe, in their nature, or any intelligent design, but of pure luck. With a change of birthplace, parents, education, and class upbringing, the places of even such obviously different individuals in history as hero or villain would easily have been exchanged. In fact, five hundred years from now historians will treat these three as equals. If anything, historians will investigate and write about how Churchill and Roosevelt got away with their many historical blunders and outright evil acts to cause human suffering that created the power of a Hitler.

 
Reading, writing, or crying about genocide, fascism, Nazism, or whatever the latest fad evil political -ism may be and dividing historical individuals into heroes or villains is a shallow understanding of the absurdity of life, history, and the universe. Only those ignorant of history divide history into the good and the bad and into heroes and villains, male or female, of one race or of no race. Regardless of the majestic greatness of one’s heroes or the despicableness of one’s villains — be it a Churchill, Hitler, Muhammad, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, or whoever — the historical good or evil of individuals and of social constructs is not the substance of reality. Such concepts of good and evil, hero and villain in history are purely results decided as a matter of luck and the roll of circumstantial dice. The winners in life need not ever worry about morality, ethics, or the law; such are concerns only for the losers. Simple creation of historical heroes and villains gives meaning to one’s life and creates a simple morality of good and evil that ignores the banality of evil and the haphazardness of both good and evil in daily existence — that is in individual life, the only reality of which an existentialist is certain. If Hitler had died in his youth in the trenches of the Western Front or during one of the first half-dozen assassination attempts upon him, he would be remembered as a courageous recipient of two Iron Crosses who died for his country and for workers’ rights — in fact, if he had died during one of those early assassination attempts upon him, he would probably to this day be remembered as a hero and martyr for socialism. In which case, Churchill — if remembered at all — would be remembered as he was known during World War I: a self-aggrandizing, dishonest, ambitious, political hack psychopath from a rich family whose fortunes he squandered and who was responsible for the Gallipoli Campaign disaster. Muhammad is essentially a 7th Century Hitler who succeeded in creating a one thousand year reich and thus as victor is a prophet instead of a villain. Dr. King and Mandela were lucky to have racism as their opponent. As exhibited by their sexual conquests of women, patrician personal ambitions, and political shrewdness to take credit for the work of others and to let others do their killing and dirty work for them, they would be just another 1984 O’Brien will-to-power conqueror if they had a more sympathetic opponent. Gandhi was a racist patrician wife-beater who was lucky to have others do is killing for him. Such individuals are not really individuals but social construct values created for marketing purposes by patricians.

 
The reality of history is that 90% to 95% of individual humans regardless of status in life as poor, rich, slave, free, beggar, worker, and so forth if put in the right circumstances would knowing and intentionally kill every other human being or watch idly as others knowing and intentionally kill every other human being — including eventually those watching. The only difference for the modern patricians of our Technological Society is the law allows them the power to have others do their killing for them. The individuals who make up each of these two classes of bound variables arbitrarily and randomly change each moment of life. The heroes who make up the 5% or 10% at any given moment who would rather be killed than kill another or watch another be killed will move over randomly and arbitrarily as a coincidence of sometimes insignificant changes in circumstances to the other set made up of killers. Meanwhile, some of the killers will at that same moment transfer over to become heroes. Thus, the existential reality is that 100% of individuals under the right circumstances would knowing and intentionally kill every other human as a matter of brute and irrational or even rational force.

 
It is pure luck that has made one set heroes and the other villain. And the same is true of all heroes and villains throughout history. The real intelligent design of the universe is more analogous to a poker game in which God is the dealer, calls the games, knows the players, and sets the antes, raises, and bets. Not only does He know the players and the cards, but He made the players, who are what they are because He made them in the same way that He made the cards and thus the probabilities are what they are because He made them. In theory, giving God the benefit of a doubt by assuming that He does not cheat and by assuming quantum randomness not deterministic classical randomness, we can say He does not control the outcome of each hand nor of the game. These are decided purely by the luck of the draw, the probabilities of the given deck, game, and hands, and on each player’s ability to read the probabilities and the other players. In theory, this game universe is an empirically just and fair universe in which there really is no good or evil. The best player wins and deserves to win. No one can say that it is an evil that the best player wins nor in any practical sense can we say that it is unjust that the best player wins and the loser loses.

 
It becomes unjust, unfair, and evil only when we bring morality into the mix and by that I mean we view the game from outside of the game. The best player, given his God-given abilities, at any given time can do nothing but win. And the worst player, given his God-given abilities, at any given time can do nothing but lose. The reality of this card game universe in which the winners and losers are set is really much worse. As the dealer, God is entitled to call the ante and to set the highest bets and raises. If He calls a big enough ante, bet, or raise, many people are excluded from playing, let alone having any chance of winning — even assuming they had all equal other abilities to win.

 
In the big picture of this card game universe, it does not really matter whether player A, B, C, or D wins, as long as they keep playing to keep the universe going. To make matters worse, God creates the players so that they will only play if there are winners and losers. No one who wants to play in this card game universe is going to keep playing if there are no winners or losers. Everyone wants and believes that they can be a winner until it is too late. Why would God design such a universe to favor some players over others? Of course, many noncompetitive altruistic types who may be reading this would see an easy solution to the problem: simply don’t play. But that is equivalent to saying simply do not play the game of life and ignore the way the game is designed. This is easy to say if you want to live the life of a hermit waiting for Christ to return in the Last Judgment, then it’s easy to say don’t play the game. You are essentially choosing death. However, if you want to live, prosper, or at least survive in the real world, you have to play the game, and you have to play to win. Or otherwise, those who only care about winning take everything you have: mind, body, and soul. God is God, so there’s nothing stopping him from creating such an unfair universe. But also, there’s nothing stopping Him from not creating this game, so why does He do it — instead of creating a different one that is fair? Is God moral?

 

In the perspective of my poker game example, it seems that this question is one of justice or fairness because He treats some creations better than others, but it really isn’t. Justice and fairness only have meaning in relation to a morality. Is the question of whether God is moral the same as asking whether He is just or fair? Now that you hopefully understand why I differentiate the question of good and evil from the question of why God hates the poor, I will go back to the intended next question in this series, is God moral?

Why Does God Hate the Poor? Prologue / Part II

Why does God hate the poor? It is not my intent to complain about this problem. Such would be a waste and equivalent to complaining about it becoming dark at night. I accept as an indisputable and unchanging fact of life that cannot be altered by human action that humanity always will be as George Orwell described it; I quote him from his book 1984:

Throughout recorded time and probably since the end of the Neolithic Age, there have been three kinds of people in the world. The high, the middle, and the low. They have been subdivided in many ways, they’ve born countless different names, and their relative numbers, as well as their attitude toward one another, have varied from age to age. But the essential structure of society is never altered. Even after enormous upheavals and seemingly irrevocable changes, the same pattern has always reasserted itself. Just as a gyroscope will always return to equilibrium however far it’s pushed one way or the other. The aims of these three groups are entirely irreconcilable. The aim of the high is to remain where they are. The aim of the middle is to change places with the high. The aim of the low, where they to have any aim, for it is an abiding characteristic of the low that they are too much crushed by drudgery, to be more than intermittently conscious of anything outside their daily lives, is to abolish all distinctions and create a society in which all men shall be equal. Thus throughout history’s struggle, which is the same in its main outlines, reoccurs over and over again. For long periods, the high seem to be securely in power, but sooner or later there always comes a moment when they lose either their belief in themselves, or their capacity to govern efficiently, or both. They are then overthrown by the middle, who enlist the low on their side by pretending to them that they are fighting for liberty and justice. As soon as they have reached their objective, the middle thrusts the low back into their old position of servitude, and themselves become the high. Presently a new middle group splits off from one of the other groups, or from both of them, and the struggle begins over again. Of the three groups, only the low are never even temporarily successful in achieving their aims.

 

Would it be an exaggeration to say that throughout history, there has been no progress of any material kind? Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago, but no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought humanity, human equality, any millimeter nearer. From the point of view of the low, no historical change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of their masters.

 

The only problem with this great description of reality by George Orwell is its limitation to recorded time. Even assuming there is such a thing as unrecorded time as distinct from recorded time, separation of humans into the lows and highs seems not to be limited to any social construct but seems to be an undisputed absolute truth of human nature. In all possible worlds in which there are human beings, this social construct will exist and thus it is not solely a social construct. All humans living and treating each other as equals and loving each other may be a vision of Heaven but would be a short, boring, mind-numbing, lazy, life on earth. Without struggle and battle for something, human life would be shallow, boring, cowardly, and short — unless you were self-centered enough to become an amoral god ignoring reality to live in the timeliness and thus the power of the moment throughout a shallow, cowardly, and passionless life.

 
Phrasing the problem as a matter of evil existing in the world misstates the nature of the problem. One of my philosophy professors phrased it as follows: evil exists in the world; if God exists, there are only two reasons for evil’s existence: either He wants it to exist, or He cannot stop it from existing; either way, He is not God. This phrasing of the problem is a fallacy, because the concepts of good and evil are human creations. God by definition is the reason there is something instead of nothing. The something can be whatever God wants it to be. If this something involves pain and suffering for His creations, so be it, it is His creation. He can do whatever He wants with it. It makes no sense to say that before creation there existed a requirement that God’s creation must be friendly and kind to any beings He creates. He created creation, it is what it is. As I discussed in an earlier essay, ethics is simply a set of rules created by those in power to stay in power. It makes no sense to demand that God be ethical. He is the ultimate power and source of all power. He makes whatever rules He wants. It makes no sense to talk as if He has a choice between good or evil or wills good or evil. The concept of choice and will necessarily involve an incomplete being that needs something. God is omnipresent, infinite, and complete by definition. He does not need anything, and thus there are no choices that He has to make nor for Him to want or will anything. He and His nature all exist by necessity. As the philosopher Spinosa described, we may just be moments in the infinite necessary existence of God contemplating Himself and thus we have the perception of time, choice, and will; but, it is simply human perception that sees choices and will. God’s existence and all aspects of His nature exist by necessity.

 

The problem as I have phrased it is a more accurate description because the issue is a bigger problem of morality. Given that God is the reason we exist, does He owe individual creations anything for giving us existence we never requested? Do we owe Him something for making us exist? Given all of the evil that has existed in the world, including evil inflicted on innocents such as infants and beasts of burden, even if God were to offer us eternal happiness in Heaven simply by accepting Him as He is, would it not be our moral burden to reject it? Why does God prefer certain people over others? You can call it divine predestination, class conflict, or whatever. The reality of human nature, for other than a completely solitary hermit existence, is that God prefers to have about 1% to at most 10% of humanity at any given time live much better than the remainder of humanity and to have the power of oppression over the remainder of humanity. For this small percentage of humanity, at any given time, life has meaning of their own creation. For the remainder of humanity at any given time, their meaning of life is purely to serve the meaning created by these few Powers-that-be. In the absence of such service, life is nothing but meaningless anguish. At best they are gifted with their life being short. Dostoevsky wrote a couple of great novels asking these questions, The Brothers Karamazov and The Possessed, but never answered these questions. These are questions that must be answered as part of trying to answer the overall question of why does God hate the poor.

 
Let us try to build on prior essays to approach this question, try to answer it, and try to see if there is an answer as philosophers not as polemics by self serving gods. The first issue that we must approach in trying to answer this question is whether the concept of morality even applies to God. Is God moral?

Why Does God Hate the Poor? Prologue / Part I

Why does God hate the poor? This is a question that is very difficult to analyze rationally because of the nature of reason. Other than for logical techniques such as mathematics and pure logic, reason seems only to be capable of expressing pragmatic truth about the subject matter of its reasoning. That is, it only serves as a tool for solving a given problem and that solution can only be proven false by the problem — when the solution fails. Reason can never provide solutions that are true in all possible worlds nor can it state a truth that is true in all possible worlds. I say “seems” because when reason expresses doubt about its ability for certainty, it disproves its own skepticism either by formally stating that it is true there is no truth or by stating it is absolutely true that all truth is contingent or relative. Using “seems” to try to get around or to describe this problem or limitation of human reason causes its own problems.

 
What does “seems” mean? Does rational thought necessarily lead to a phenomenological view of reality that is worthless for anything but allowing academics to generate endless verbiage saying nothing about “nothing” — since according to them there’s nothing except what they are saying about the nothing that is out there for which we need them to “deconstruct” it for us. If I do not know what is out there, how can it “seem” like something or anything? What does “seem” mean? What does any word mean? These are problems in the philosophy of language that are beyond the limitations of these essays.  We just need to be aware of these problems when we try to contemplate questions such as this dealing with the nature of God.

 

I am trying to deal here with a real problem that has troubled many philosophers and myself my whole life: why does God hate the poor? Trying to resolve this problem in any way through religious faith, especially by Christian faith, always fails me; so this problem continues to bother me. Responding to this problem by telling me that life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery or reality to be experienced only makes it worse by proving the severity of the problem. Why are there some people in life who have enough time on their hands and the opportunity not only to sit around and abstractly come up with bullshit such as this, but they also have the motive, opportunity, and ability then to go around and if not lecture at least to profess to others that life should be a mystery or what life should be while the majority of the world, including me, is simply trying to survive and are responding on a daily basis to problems and situations trying to destroy that survival. Sure, telling the poor that they should be poor in spirit as well as poor materially would solve their spiritual suffering, if not their physical suffering, but why should anyone be poor in spirit and poor in material wealth and poor in their options in life when it is just as possible to be wealthy and powerful and to be poor in spirit?

 
The so-called Church Father St. Augustine is a perfect example to what I am referring. He spends most of his life wealthy, carousing, fornicating, fathering and abandoning children, drinking, and generally having an overall great time, until he gets bored with such worldly pleasures and decides that he wants to possess outer- worldly pleasures. So, he decides to be saved by belief in Jesus Christ. And now with the certainty of eternal life in Heaven, he goes around lecturing to others to be poor and not to live life carousing, fornicating, fathering and abandoning children, drinking, and generally having an overall great time. Even with this conversion, he does not become poor in spirit or materially in any way. Instead of being a Power-that-be among the upper class of his native city of Hippo in North Africa, he becomes a Power-that-be among the new Power in antiquity, the Christian Church. It was perfect timing. If he had stayed a rich pagan, his class might have expected him to risk his life and to defend the city against the barbarian Vandals coming to destroy them. “Barbarian” is a word to describe ambitious poor people that are trying to become rich. Instead, by converting and becoming a church father, he avoided this personal and economic risk because the Vandals respected the Church, Church property, and its ministers. The rich always get away with such hypocrisy. President George W. Bush is a great modern example. Here is a dude that spends most of his life as a lazy, ignorant, cokehead; who wastes what little education his family paid for him to receive and wastes all the business opportunities he had; until one day he decides he wants to be president of the United States. At that point, he sees the light of Christianity and goes on to use preaching and his family connections to become President and start two wars in which others do his killing for him.

 

(Coates is another example of which I have written about extensively in prior essays.)

 
I’m fully aware that by making such complaints I come off as greedy, whiny, and spiteful, as the poor usually do when complaining about their lot in life — unless they reach the point of complete depression, desperation, or starving in the street, at which point they become a temporary object of pity and charity for the rich. If the poor materially try to fight their way out of hopelessness and material poverty, they are considered greedy and spiteful barbarians again. Unlike the rich and powerful whose greed, ambition, and aggressive competitiveness are the forces that move the economic world throughout history to be sustainable and evolve, regardless of whether you call it barter, mercantilism, imperialism, capitalism, or whatever the present day economic “-ism” may be. My intent here is not to complain about this as a problem. Such would be a waste and equivalent to complaining about it becoming dark at night. It is an undisputed and unchanging fact of life that cannot be altered by human action that humanity is and always will be divided into the powerful who can create meaning in life and the remainder of the powerless whose meaning in life is to serve the meaning created by the powerful with their only other choice being a lifetime of struggle, fight, and battle against that meaning — a meaningless struggle that they will always be destined to lose. The details of this division in human nature were best described by George Orwell in his book 1984 which I will contemplate.

 
For any amateur Christian theologians out there who may read this, I want to point out that this issue is also a Christian theological issue. The New Testament quotes Jesus several times as saying, “The poor, you will always have with you.” — Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, and John 12:8. So this is not only a philosophical issue, but also a significant theological issue.

Sympathia ( A Modern Socratic Dialogue )

 

 

CRITO:  You have arrived at a very opportune moment Socrates.
I was afraid you would be late.

SOCRATES: Has the festival started early?

C: No, there is plenty of time before it starts. I was worried you would miss an argument between Anytos and Phaidros regarding something closer to your heart, virtue. They were just about to end it, in order to avoid further antagonism, when I saw you were coming.

S: I hope I have arrived before the ending of the discussion, for I will learn from any discussion related to virtue, and after the ending of any anger that might have arisen.

C: I am sure they will be able to manage their differences and maintain a clear mind so that you can enter the discussion. It is a subject I want very much to hear your thoughts on, Socrates. Therefore, I ask them as a friend to explain the matter to you and I will listen and learn.

S: If it pleases them, I would willingly enter the discussion; not as a teacher, though, but as a student, one who has much to learn.

PHAIDROS: It is a simple matter. The discussion has been unnecessarily prolonged because of pride, on the part of Anytos

ANYTOS: Pride, perhaps, but it is not only on my part.

C: It seems I must lay the foundation for the renewal of the discussion. Phaidros has accused Anytos of practicing virtue to such an extreme that it has become an evil.

A: As if such a thing were possible; being virtuous has no limits.

P: My statements have been carried further than I intended. I have no hesitations about defending what I know to be true. I do not intend, though, to get entangled in abstract arguments involving the nature of virtue. To argue on such matters requires a special type of knowledge; one I do not really need for it would keep my head in the clouds much of the time. I am a practical man; I know the simple truths of life. Our argument involved a specific instance in which Anytos’ compassionate nature caused me a misfortune.

S: The nature of a virtue is a difficult topic. I have found, though, that there is no need to go too far from practical manners and simple ideas in order to find great difficulties. Since you do not have this problem, surely you will not deny me the chance to learn from you. If the matter is as clear and simple as you say, will not the knowledge you give me be also clear and simple?

P: I will make it as clear for you as I can.

A: Go on, tell Socrates the source of our disagreement.

P: A mutual friend of Anytos and mine owned me a monetary debt. Because he was suffering continuous misfortune, both personal and business, I was always anxious to have him repay it. Anytos, letting compassion rule him, advised me to give the man more time. The man left on a trading voyage some time ago and did not return at the designated time; nor will he ever return and neither will the payment of his debt.

S: Is compassion the virtue you claim Anytos has practiced blindly, without a consideration of practicality?

P: Compassion is only a virtue among women. It is a weakness among men. This instance clearly proves me right; it was compassion that made both of us look like fools.

S: When a physician fails to aid a sick man because he was called too late, the sick man was already dead or neat death, should the art of medicine be blamed?

P: No, it is the man’s fault or his friends for failing to summon the physician earlier.

S: When an animal trainer is called upon to train an old animal whose habits are already set, if he fails, should the art of animal training be blamed?

P: No, the animal is un-trainable.

S: If justice is served upon a criminal, but the man fails to reform his life, is justice at fault?

P: Of course not.

S: If compassion is used when dealing with an ignorant soul and it fails to achieve good results, would it be proper to blame compassion?

P: Perhaps I did make a hasty generalization. If we look at any acts of compassion, though, its consequences are always the same; it weakens the character of the man using it and leads to misfortune.

S: Before you assist someone in a search do you usually ask them what they are looking for?

P: Of course.

S: Before I look for acts of compassion with you to judge, I need to know what you define compassion to be.

P: Compassion is similar to pity. It is an act of the spirited part of the soul by which a person feels sorrow for an other’s troubles.

S: Are not brothers similar in many ways yet never the same person?

P: Of course not, they are two different people.

S: Galleys and trading ships are similar yet also very different, are they not?

P: They are different.

S: Then pity and compassion, though they are similar, could also be very different from each other.

P: Yes, but I think the difference is very small.

S: Is it harmful for a ruler to pity his people?

P: Yes. The ruler is harmed because he is letting himself be affected by his emotions instead of being guided by reason. The people are being harmed because they are seen as inferior, as unable to overcome their troubles without aid of the ruler. The citizens will look badly on the ruler for having this opinion of them and will try to take advantage of his pity for their own purposes. Chaos will result.

S: Should a general pity his troops?

P: No, for the same reasons.

S: Should pity exist among friends?

P: No.

S: Has it not been written, though, by many leaders and wise men, that a good general should have compassion for his troops, a good ruler for the citizens, and that compassion should exist between friends?

P: Yes, I have heard that said many times.

S: Then perhaps we should search more diligently for the difference between pity and compassion.

P: If you think the search will not run into the drama.

S: Did you say that pity was an act of the spirited part of the soul?

P: Yes.

S: Is that also true of foolhardiness; is it not an act of the spirited part of the soul by which the soul endangers its mortal life for unnecessary and meaningless causes?

P: Yes, that is true.

S: What happens when this spirited act becomes governed by reason?

P: I don’t understand.

S: If reason where to govern this spirited act, than there will be an understanding involved. Reason would enable the soul to understand what ideas are meaningful and necessary and worth risking one’s life for; would not foolhardiness then become courage?

P: Now I understand; yes, that would be the difference between foolhardiness and courage.

S: Is this true for any act of the spirited part? If reason is allowed to govern it than it is no longer a weakness but a virtue.

P: I agree.

S: If pity were to be governed by reason, what new nature would be created?

P: I am not sure.

S: An understanding would surely be added, for we agreed to that. In the case of pity, would this be an understanding of an other’s troubles and the feelings caused by these troubles, whether sorrow or cheering up is needed?

P: Yes, reason would add such an understanding.

S: Would this understanding be advantageous to a general for him to judge the morale of his troops, to a king for him to judge the mood of the citizens, and among friends so they may cheer one another up?

P: Yes, it certainly would be.

S: Could this understanding be the compassion spoken about and written about by so many men? Could this be the difference between the similar natures of pity and compassion?

P: It seems you have found it.

C: It is a very important difference. Such an understanding would greatly improve the social relations between men. I am glad you arrived in time to enter the discussion, Socrates.

S: Now we must go on to complete it.

A: What do you mean?

S: Now that we understand the nature of compassion, we must examine the original situation which created the need of defining it to see if it applies. Then, should we not go on to study if it is possible to practice it to an extreme?

P: Perhaps some other time, the drama is about to start.

A: I will look forward to it.

C: So will I.

S: So should we all, for we are all still students with much to learn.

The Ship of Theseus

The following essay was accepted for publication in a related blog at The Ship of Theseus /Knights of Thermopylae Inn of Court:

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

— George Orwell

As much as I hate giving Marxism credence for anything, so much in contemporary society forces me to credit as sound and pragmatically true both the Marxist disenchantment of morality and ethics concluding they are simply ruling class ideology and the socialist Upton Sinclair’s disenchantment of aesthetics as “all art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.” The zero sum wordgame that is patrician parlor game philosophy by sleight-of-hand wording has managed to take the analytic concept of social construct and change it to social and language deconstruction. Patrician academia and intelligentsia, solely through a will to power despite never having to take apart and rebuild anything except for rearranging verbiage for purely aesthetic reasons, continue to view themselves as individual mechanics viewing the social construct engine that is contemporary society as something they need to take apart and then reassemble in their image in order to “produce real progress”. The reality of individuality, perception, and any resulting social construct of contemporary society of which we are conscious and of which we can speak are that they are one-engine, and we do not view either from outside but we are it. There are no “illusions of trust”, there is either genuine pragmatic trust or there is no trust. We can no more deconstruct society, contemporary or otherwise, and its language than an engine can take itself apart — that is without destroying itself with nothing and no one remaining to reassemble it. No more can there be spoken “individual perception” than there can be a private language. Or better yet, to paraphrase the poetic propaganda of Delmore Schwartz, contemporary society is not that of a fire in which we burn, but we are the fire. This pragmatic reality should enchant morality and ethics with more than just ruling class ideology, but it never will.

 

The analytic concept of a social construct was fairly simple before post-modernism got a hold of it. Its simplicity is one reason post-modernism was able to grab onto it and turn it to entertaining fiction. Philosophy has argued knowledge as a pragmatic social construct since the Ancient Greeks. Science was grudgingly forced to accept pragmatic truth with the advent of quantum mechanics though it is still putting up a fight. The unfortunate epistemological reality is that sense perception is unavoidably intertwined with theory expressed by language that is itself laden with theory. Thus language often decides what facts we experience, observe, and use. As Albert Einstein stated, “whether you can observe a thing or not depends on the theory which you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.” Better yet is the description of Ludwig Wittgenstein: “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”

 
Simple enough. However, these conclusions are in no way equivalent to concluding that language is reality; that deconstructing language is equivalent to deconstructing reality; or that the more words we throw into the world pot the larger the limits of the pot. No, as with any real pot, the words simply overflow. In the pot of language, they simply overflow into an aesthetic world in which meaningless words are the reality. For example, nominally, one can change a word such as “small pox” to “butterfly bumps”, “God’s Will”, and a multiple of other names to make its reality more aesthetically pleasing and this aesthetic truth may make it easier to die of it, but such nominal change does not in any way change the reality of small pox or stop it from killing you. At the other end of the pot, empirically, one can do all the scientific experimentation possible on one’s or anyone’s visual field in all possible worlds viewed but in none of them will one ever find the inner limit or the point from which its contents are seen because the existential observer or individual consciousness is it; without the consciousness of the observer there is no visual field. The meaning of words and wordgames are not simply their use but their usefulness to that use in the activity of life.

 

 

The Ship of Theseus / Knights of Thermopylae Inn of Court

What’s My Class? Part II

The previous contemplated attributes of class and of working class posers are relatively minor, the big one is Doublethink ethics. Orwell’s Doublethink “means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them” as true. As contemplated previously, the ruling class in any social construct consists of those that can define what ought to be and force their normative reality on the remainder. However, they are not obvious in this use of force, it is hidden behind what they call ethics and its own Doublethink by which they hold two contradictory moral beliefs simultaneously, accept both of them as true, and force both normative realities upon others by violence if need be as true and moral. By belief here I am using Pragmatism’s definition of belief: beliefs are rules of action. The ruling classes in any given social construct come by Doublethink naturally and hide it naturally, so much so that usually they do not even know they are speaking Doublethink and would view anyone accusing them of speaking it as either insane or as immoral and unethical. The ruling class and posers pretending not to be in the ruling class of any given social construct use Doublethink ethics that can best be described by example.

 
I recently had the misfortune of being in a class at NYU in which Visiting Scholar Dawn Chan had the class read Dennis Cooper’s book review in Bookforum of Larry Clark’s book The Perfect Childhood as an example of good, ethical, aesthetically pleasing humanist writing. In this review, Mr. Cooper tells how this book reminded him of a young, “white-trash street-hustler”, homeless, derelict, young drug addict he used to pay for homosexual sex and how he can still taste him now in more recent casual sex he has. According to the book review, the white trash hustler died of an overdose at age 24. Not only did the class not see a problem with any of this, but they went on to examine how this “relationship” between the older Cooper and the young drug addict was probably important to both their lives and that it is more important to “have loved and lost” than never to have loved at all.

 
Now, imagine what would have happened if I had some old-school Asiatic fleet sailor write and read to the class a book review gloating about a young, Filipino, derelict, drug addicted, female, street hooker he used for sex who died of an overdose and how a book reminds him and gives him the taste of that sex? Would this be accepted as a relationship involving “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” or simply for what it was: an act of oppression and power but at least it was one occurring between two social equals in the misery of life. In Mr. Clark’s case it was an upper class older patrician using a young man he considered “white trash” purely for sexual purposes. Why is the former immoral and unethical oppression but the latter not? Not only was the latter acceptable, it was treated as a moral and ethical good.

 
Do not waste time trying to understand it; it cannot be understood. Contradictions held simultaneously allow for everything to be true and false simultaneously. There are an uncountable number of contradictions in this example and in ruling class morality and ethics that ultimately are simply ruling class ideology enforced by violence but that are all accepted and held as true. This Doublethink in ethics is not a sign of being insane but of being ruling class. One of the omnipresent contradictions in present ruling class ideology and ethics that they will enforce by violence whenever they can is that white males are by definition oppressors in all possible worlds unless they are gay in which case they are beautiful oppressed persons regardless of their acts and regardless of either the individual or social consequences of those acts.

 
Unfortunately, for the working class, most of our morals and ethics are inherited. It has to be. We are too busy trying to survive when we are young to start questioning the morality and ethics of the only persons who are trying to help us survive in life consisting of the small social group around us. As contemplated before, we cannot survive and battle the universe alone. Furthermore, we need to think rationally in order to survive; holding contradictions to be true so as to make everything true or false is great for aesthetic truth and its power but is worthless if you actually have work and a job to do that needs to solve problems and be done and accomplished at some point so that one can get paid. As the lyrics to the song “Working Class Hero” state, by the time you are old enough to do anything about your ethical inheritance, it is too late:

As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all
Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all

They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
Till you’re so fucking crazy you can’t follow their rules

When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear

 

The ruling class and its posers do not have this problem. For them, almost from their first acts of reason and language, they understand the world ought to be what they want it to be, and can have this understanding without it in anyway risking their chances of survival. So, for example, to our present ruling class the couple Barack and Michelle Obama represent an oppressed minority even though for eight years they were the most powerful couple in the world. Anyone that can Doublethink in this way and do it so naturally that they do not hesitate nor give any indication of doubt are truly either upper class posing as oppressed, completely class clueless, or one of their house servants kissing up to the Powers.