Thursday, September 06, 2012

Hello darkness my old friend....

For my money the better speech last night was delivered by Elizabeth Warren.  Bill Clinton did what Bill Clinton does:  he eloquently defended the status quo.  Elizabeth Warren delivered the truly radical concept that whatever you do for the least, you do for all.  She noted that things weren't always like "this," that the game is, in fact, rigged.  She never mentioned Jeremiah, but she did mention Matthew.  And her thesis was rooted in the words of the prophet(s), which are still written on the subway walls and tenement halls.  And still whispered in the sounds of silence, because none dare speak of what is right, without speaking of what is possible through power.

It could be that Ms. Warren's argument is too religious, even with that one bare mention of a Sunday school lesson explicitly stated.  We are still  surprised that the religious can be interested in others. Maybe that's because politics is only about power, not about morality.  Concern for others is the foundation of morality.  How to wield power, is the foundation of politics.  Politics can be shaped toward moral ends, but most of us aren't really interested in that; we are interested in what's in it for us, as Tom Junod illustrates in that linked post.  Mr. Junod makes two fatal mistakes there:  1)  he assumes religion, especially orthodox varieties, are always about exclusion; and 2) he assumes that politics is about what is right, rather than about power.  Elizabeth Warren came closer than anyone at the DNC to talking about what is right; Bill Clinton talked about power.

And Bill Clinton is who everybody is talking about this morning.

Charlie Pierce said Elizabeth Warren finally became a politician last night. Ms. Warren is not a completely religious figure, but I hope Mr. Pierce is not completely right.


  1. Liberalism needs more religious content, from the Jewish justice laws, it depends on what those provide. Without that, liberalism is a decaying and unreliable vessel. The Democratic Party is not the government, and Democrats are the ones who can be relied on to maintain the wall of separation IN THE GOVERNMENT, but there is every reason for Democrats to cite those laws of justice and the reason for believing they are as real as a chair, a table or a large organic molecule. Warren needs a lot of help the "liberal" Boston based media has been slamming her all through the campaign. It's all turned Boston Herald level "reporting" on her.

    OT: Wrote about PZ again, thought you might get a few smiles from it.

  2. I didn't say it in the post, but Junod's post I linked to really bothered me the more I thought about it. First, because orthodox Jews can't possibly be Democrats (huh?). Second, because while their law tells them marriage is for a man and a woman, they don't seek to impose that law on Gentiles. They think we should follow it, but they don't force the issue.

    Junod tries to turn even that mild moral statement on its head, arguing same-sex marriage is "right," and therefore both just and good. He fails entirely to see that what is morally right (which is how he uses the term "right") is not a matter of a universal morality. Because either the orthodox Jews he speaks to are immoral, or they are unjust. But if they are neither, the question of same-sex marriage and the government is not a question of morality, but of law.

    Put more simply: should the law decide who can marry based on Jewish law (which is where Christianity gets the objection)? Or should it be decided based on the opinion of the larger, mostly Gentile, society? As this wouldn't impose on those who object to such marriages (no pastor or rabbi can be required to approve, conduct, etc., such a marriage), I think it is just.

    But that doesn't make it "right."

    I think it is right to care for the least and the last first; doing so, you take care of everyone. Jeremiah said that, without any explicit reference to God blessing such actions. It is right, absent any action by God. So you can take the position as an atheist, as a Christian, as an orthodox Jew, or as an adherent to any other religious practice. It can be a moral position; but it can also be about the correct use of power.

    Which takes us back, in some ways, to Aristotle's original observations on politics. And no one today would consider him a religious thinker, at all.

  3. I used to agree with the idea that some atheists have exhibited a practical belief in rights and morality, though materialism can't generate a compelling concept of them that I've read. But I think if they do it can't be on the basis of their materialism. My brother who is an atheist just takes rights and morality as a given without questioning them, he's not especially interested in first causes of such things.

    But, as I've observed blog atheism and have read informed atheism, I've grown more and more skeptical of the idea that my brother's kind of practical observation of rights and morality, that can operate on an individual level, is reliable in a political or social context. There are far too many popular atheists who undercut the reality of rights, free will and morality and the history of atheist, anti-religious government doesn't reassure me that it is a reliable basis for government or society. Atheists have too much of a tendency to deny the reality of those things they don't like or find inconvenient and observing rights is all about doing things you won't like. In politics, a belief in the reality of rights and justice can require quite a bit of self-sacrifice. Liberal atheism doesn't provide sufficient motive as it provides enervating skepticism.

    You might find my post giving Madison's entire Memorial and Remonstrance, pointing out how the one passage of it is used to completely distort what he said.

    It's something that has irritated me a long time, something that someone brought up on a political blog the other day.

  4. This is an amaging post. For information go Signs of Pregnancy