On upholding inhumanity and some ethical implications

A friend of mine called my attention to an article which made me shudder.

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David Clapson

‘The coroner said that when David Clapson died he had no food in his stomach.’ Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian

The coroner said that when David Clapson died he had no food in his stomach. Clapson’s benefits had been stopped as a result of missing one meeting at the jobcentre. He was diabetic, and without the £71.70 a week from his jobseeker’s allowance he couldn’t afford to eat or put credit on his electricity card to keep the fridge where he kept his insulin working. Three weeks later Clapson died from diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by a severe lack of insulin. A pile of CVs was found next to his body.

I’ll resist calling Clapson’s death a tragedy. Tragedy suggests a one-off incident, a rarity that couldn’t be prevented. What was done to Clapson – and it was done, not something that simply happened – is a particularly horrific example of what has, almost silently, turned into a widespread crisis. More than a million people in this country have had their benefits stopped over the past year. Sanctions against chronically ill and disabled people have risen by 580% in a year. This is a system out of control.

A petition for an inquiry into benefit sanctions, started by Clapson’s sister, Gill Thompson, is now on the verge of its 200,000th signature. This Thursday there will be a day of action against benefit sanctions across the country. If inspiration is required, you need look no further than the latest Department for Work and Pensions pilot scheme launched last week. The unemployed are set to have their benefits stopped if they don’t sign in at a jobcentre in the morning and spend the whole day there, every day. Breach the rules once and you’ll lose four weeks’ worth of benefits; twice and you won’t be able to feed your kids for three months.

Yes, some reasons for sanctions are almost laughable: going to a job interview rather than a meeting at the jobcentre that it clashes with; not completing an assessment because you had a heart attack during it. But let’s not convince ourselves the rest are credible – punishment sensibly bestowed on the scrounging unemployed. A government that deems it a success to stop the money someone needs to eat is a government of the grotesque.

Sanctions are a product of an attitude towards benefit claimants that says they are not people struggling to find work but suspects: lazy, stupid and in need of a DWP-kick to get them out of bed. The lazy are going hungry. Eight in 10 Trussell Trust food banks report that benefit sanctions are causing more people to need emergency food parcels. This, I suppose, is what Conservatives call motivation.

It doesn’t matter that sanctions are disproportionately hitting the most vulnerable. Nor that the DWP’s own commissioned report says that they are being imposed in such a way that vulnerable people often don’t understand what is happening to them, and are left uninformed of the hardship payments to which they are entitled. Six out of 10 employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants who have had their benefits stopped have a mental-health condition or learning difficulty. Are these the chosen victims of austerity now? By definition of being in receipt of ESA, many will struggle to do things such as be punctual for meetings or complete work placements with strangers in environments they don’t know. It is setting people up to fail and then punishing them for it.

Sanctions are not an anomaly. Rather, they are emblematic of the wider Tory record on welfare: one of incompetence and, at best, indifference. The work programme fails to find work for 95% of disabled people, but enforced, unpaid labour or loss of benefits is the DWP’s answer. More than a quarter of a million people are still waiting for PIP, the benefit needed to help cover the extra costs of disability. Seven hundred thousand people have been left waiting for an ESA assessment. Locking people out of their rightful benefits is becoming a theme for this government. The consequences are human; the response from the government is inhumane.

Clapson had only left his last job to care for his elderly mum, and before that had worked for 29 years. On the day he died he had £3.44 to his name and six tea bags, a tin of soup and an out-of-date can of sardines in his kitchen cupboards. Benefit sanctions are aimed at ending the “something for nothing” culture, as the DWP’s press release brags. I vote for ending the demonisation of the unemployed, disabled and poor.

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What happened to him is truly gruesome and absolutely shameful.

This is why I reject free market capitalism for (Christian) socialism.
In the first system, MONEY is the measure of all things which naturally leads to a very small minority of incredibly rich people and an exponentially higher number of poor ones.

In socialism, free competition is encouraged AS LONG AS the welfare of human beings is not threatened, in which case the State intervenes.
Comparisons between the well being of poor people in hyper-capitalistic countries such as the United States and socialistic countries such as Sweden let us recognize a stark contrast which looks all the more tragic when glancing at children.

https://lotharlorraine.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/ceefe-baby-beggar.jpg

I think that the UK is drifting more and more towards wild capitalism and actually it has always hindered us from building up a “social Europe”. So we’d probably be much more successful if they had left us, presumably deprived of Scotland.

But their departure from the EU would likely have dire consequences on many sectors of British economy and employment as Obama himself pointed out.

Some implications for Christians

All Christians agree that a starving child is a horrendous evil. Actually this is agreed upon by the large majority of human beings regardless of their worldview.

So should we not work together towards constructing a society where this kind of evil is MINIMIZED?

While reading these lines, many Conservative Christians would doubtlessly answer me that while we are taught by our Master to care for the poor, the solution doesn’t have to be political.

But many of them couldn’t tell me that with a straight face, that is without either cognitive dissonances or a hypocritical tongue. When abortion and homosexuality are concerned, they certainly believe that a political solution is not only in order but also the most Christian thing anyone could do.

Let us suppose that we know that option A (status quo) will uphold the suffering of poor children whereas option B will considerably reduce it.

What kind of human beings are we if we refuse to engage B out of convenience or love for abstract political ideals?

 

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53 thoughts on “On upholding inhumanity and some ethical implications

  1. the church does not care simple as. Before I left the Methodist Church pretty much everyone at the ‘church’ BUILDING I went to and the circuit, thought conservatives were second (or even comparable) to God and adored capitalism and that people who were poor, homeless etc were their own fault. So much SCUM in the world – many are found in churches!

      • “I have a feeling the church you left was better for your departure from it.”

        I really think you should refrain from such ungrounded remarks. This uselessly hurts people and hinders any meaningful and mutually profitable dialog.

      • I really think you should refrain from such ungrounded remarks. This uselessly hurts people and hinders any meaningful and mutually profitable dialog.

        I’d accept that if the suggestion that conservatives, or even the conservatives in that particular church, were ‘SCUM’ wasn’t met with approval.

        • Hi.
          Applying the principle of charity , I didn’t consider he was talking about ALL Conservatives but about specific people really holding these reprehensible views.
          I certainly know they exist because I encountered some myself.

          Perhaps scum is a too strong word, I don’t obviously perceive things the same way as a native English speaker.

          It goes without saying I completely and unequivocally reject the claim that Conservatives in general are villains or bad people.
          I would have hoped you knew this.

          Asserting such a thing would be outrageously silly. And while I often criticize Conservative Evangelicals, I’m well aware that some of them are nice and harmless folks. Actually whole denominations of them.

          Now I understand the reason of your anger. But I think you should better hold it in check and first try to understand your “enemy” and build bridges towards him or her.

          43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

          I think that reacting harshly and aggressively is ONLY justified if you know that the person you’re facing constantly act like an asshole despite all your attempts to reach out to him or her:

          “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

          It is revealing that Christ only threatened with irreversible destruction self-righteous bigots who were utterly unwilling to call themselves into question. This should be our criterion too.

          Of course I’m far from being perfect in that respect. But I’m working towards this ideal.
          And I sincerely think you should too.

          Cheers.

  2. What happened to him is truly gruesome and absolutely shameful.

    This is why I reject free market capitalism for (Christian) socialism.
    In the first system, MONEY is the measure of all things which naturally leads to a very small minority of incredibly rich people and an exponentially higher number of poor ones.

    Let’s take note of something: If I’m reading this right, Clapson died in that hotbed of right-wing free-market conservatism, the UK. A European country with that much-celebrated ‘Universal Health Care’ and a whole lot of state services. What’s being railed against in that article is the failed welfare system itself.

    So much for “(Christian) socialism”.

    And if Clapson was starving to death, here’s a thought: he didn’t need a massive government program to save him. He needed charity from a single individual around him. Charity, in a European country with some considerable welfare services.

    I wonder how many thought, ‘let the government take care of him, it’s not my responsibility.’ And I wonder what choices Clapson made in his life too. Regardless, Clapson’s death is an indictment of, if anything, socialism.

    I think that the UK is drifting more and more towards wild capitalism and actually it has always hindered us from building up a “social Europe”. So we’d probably be much more successful if they had left us, presumably deprived of Scotland.

    Of course. It was their fault all along. France, Italy, Spain, Greece… stellar performance there. Especially economically and culturally. No looming problems on the horizon there.

    While reading these lines, many Conservative Christians would doubtlessly answer me that while we are taught by our Master to care for the poor, the solution doesn’t have to be political.

    But many of them couldn’t tell me that with a straight face, that is without either cognitive dissonances or a hypocritical tongue. When abortion and homosexuality are concerned, they certainly believe that a political solution is not only in order but also the most Christian thing anyone could do.

    ‘You’re in favor of making murder illegal! That means you’re logically bound to full-blown socialism and can’t disagree with it at all!’

    Please. Not even you believe this – yet that’s what you’re saying. Worse, you’re saying it while – from what I know – actively encouraging state *support* for both abortion and same-sex relationships.

    And ‘most christian thing anyone can do’? Useless hyperbole. They believe laws against abortion are the right thing to do. ‘Most Christian’ is not the metric. They may believe the most Christian thing they can do in that situation is start an adoption agency that upholds Christian ideals – but oops, that’s not allowed anymore, because LGBT jackboots would rather shut those places down if they won’t place children with gay couples.

    Likewise, they typically aren’t in favor of passing laws against ‘homosexuality’ either. Those laws were in force back when the APA regarded it as a flat out sign of mental illness and threat to public health – which, I suppose, meant they subscribed to what passed for science at the time, as you encourage.

    Let us suppose that we know that option A (status quo) will uphold the suffering of poor children whereas option B will considerably reduce it.

    What kind of human beings are we if we refuse to engage B out of convenience or love for abstract political ideals?

    Considering the routine failures of the economies and societies engaging in Option A, we not only fail to ‘know’ it will considerably reduce it, we have evidence that it can fail catastrophically, and often does.

    And if you slide back to arguing that while your system has many failures, but you see ways to improve it, keep in mind – your opponents can say the same thing about THEIR preferred system.

    Many, and I mean many, conservative Christians run and promote many charities, they open food banks, they give to the poor. They see socialism as a bad idea, especially since “(Christian) socialism” flat out isn’t an option for most of them, as opposed to “secular/preferential” socialism. I’m sure plenty suck, and they certainly haven’t wiped out problems. But neither have other countries, as you who feel the bite of necessary austerity should finally accept.

    But to admit this is to admit that you don’t occupy the clear and singular right political viewpoint, and that those evil ‘conservatives’ may actually have valid points.

    • I’ve heard it said that only people can show compassion, that governments cannot. This makes some intuitive sense to me, although I’d like to see some data as well (comparing the average compassion of your government social worker to your average charity worker). I do know that government tends to operate on rules that work really well for most cases but don’t for some; the only solution here is to let people override the rules on their good judgment, but if we cannot trust their judgment, we have to go back to the rules.

      Have you pushed the criticism that getting the government to take care of charity is in effect washing your hands of the need to get down and dirty with the hurting and poor and oppressed? I’ve simply not explored it myself, but it seems like a powerful criticism. It seems like [certain aspects of] socialism are a response to failure of humans to care. And yet, if that’s the state of affairs, your pool of possible government workers are these failed (in ability to successfully take care of those in need) human beings. So often, government workers seem assumed to be angels instead of regular people, taken from the stock of society and not from storks from heaven.

      • Labreuer,

        I’ve heard it said that only people can show compassion, that governments cannot. This makes some intuitive sense to me, although I’d like to see some data as well (comparing the average compassion of your government social worker to your average charity worker)

        I don’t think that claim is meant to apply to government employees, but governments, period. Though I can see some license to believe it there too.

        Here’s another way to think about it. Can you name one person who’s grateful to you for paying your taxes? Do people on the dole ever feel the tiniest sliver of gratitude towards the people who pay their taxes? Or do they feel loyalty to the guy who made sure they get what they need/want?

        “Thanks Obama.” etc.

        Have you pushed the criticism that getting the government to take care of charity is in effect washing your hands of the need to get down and dirty with the hurting and poor and oppressed? I’ve simply not explored it myself, but it seems like a powerful criticism.

        I go further, actually. I’m not even very hot on indirect charitable giving. I think as personal a connection is needed as possible. I’m not opposed to charity, or even some amount of government assistance – but I wanted it limited, and as local as possible. What’s the name for it? Principle of subsidiarity?

        It seems like [certain aspects of] socialism are a response to failure of humans to care.

        I go further here too. Socialism finds individuals caring for others, or even themselves, threatening. I have actually had some people (Cult of Gnu atheists, naturally) cheering on the idea of governments making it impossible for churches to do charity because ‘the state should do all of that.’ They see others engaging in charity as a threat to their precious power base. All of them? I suppose not. But some.

        Keep in mind, one difference between capitalism and socialism is that, by and large, capitalism isn’t a ‘policy’ or even a political answer. It’s just ‘how economic situations sort themselves out naturally’, and insofar as that goes, it’s still present with socialists. (It’s just adorable that people think that people will be self-serving in a capitalist system, but oh, they’d never be self-serving in a socialist one.) Nor am I particularly enamored with unrestrained free market capitalism – I have strong protectionist leanings, and certainly am opposed to excessive immigration, which is tied up in capitalism too.

        I suppose mostly what has me annoyed here is the usual condemnation. THere’s no ‘I think you’re wrong, here’s why, what’s your reply?’, there’s just ‘You are WRONG and EVIL and you HATE CHILDREN and want them to DIE because you’re not on board with my political/economic policy that is absolutely fraught with problems, current and historical.’

        Great, just what we needed.

        • ” I’m not opposed to charity, or even some amount of government assistance – but I wanted it limited, and as local as possible. What’s the name for it? Principle of subsidiarity?”
          If humans are truly in a fallen state (or however one might call it), this is never going to work.
          C.S. Lewis said he believes in democracy because he believes in the fall.
          I think the same thing can be said about the Welfare State.

          • C.S. Lewis said he believes in democracy because he believes in the fall.
            I think the same thing can be said about the Welfare State.

            Do you think C.S. Lewis would believe in the Welfare State? It strikes me that the Welfare State has two functions: (1) to make up for human failure in compassion; (2) to redistribute wealth further than human relationships tend to stretch. Crude’s [admittedly anecdotal] evidence has gratitude being less prevalent in the Welfare State, which shows the dual to compassion also taking a hit. In essence, human–human relationships take a hit as the State takes over caring for human needs. If this is truly what happens, it seems like Lewis would be violently opposed to it. The second issue is trickier; I’m reminded of poorer states vs. richer states in the US. I would need to be convinced that a Welfare State is the best solution, here.

            Let’s look at the Lewis quote in context: Lewis was against concentration of power. A big State, however, is precisely that. If too many people are dependent on the State, then they actually don’t have power to act, as individuals. Now, I’m not well-versed in politics and governance so I’m largely guessing from what I have read. That being said, you give no evidence of being better-read. So: do you really think a Welfare State was something Lewis would have liked? Do you really believe that it helps people become more fully human? This might be a terrible caricature, but I am reminded of the Israelites wandering around after escaping Egypt, and wanting to return to the security of slavery. Full, personal responsibility is really scary! And yet, wasn’t this something Lewis wanted?

        • Of course, it’s going to work for some, perhaps MANY people.

          But as in the case of this young man, you’re going to find evil people NOT caring for the poor in their midst.
          This is why we need an instance doing it systematically and setting rules about this.

          In the same way that societies with laws work (extremely) better than societies without laws (owing to the existence of evil, mentally ill or foolish people), societies with State organized systematic healthcare are much more human that societies deprived of those.

          Of course, we should ALSO care for poor in our midst, and this is something many left-wing folks (including myself) should do much more.

      • If humans are truly in a fallen state (or however one might call it), this is never going to work.

        Sure it won’t, if by ‘work’ you mean ‘will be a perfect solution’. In which case, guess what: those aren’t available anyway. The UK has quite a nice welfare state – this guy still died, and frankly, for all I know his story is a much-ballyhooed load of crap being put out by people trying to fend off austerity cuts. Like I said earlier, railing about the evils of unfeeling capitalism isn’t very convincing when your example is a European nanny-state.

        By the way – what was Christ’s opinion on the idea of ‘Well humanity is fallen, but if you just give them systematic and exacting rules to follow then everything will be great for them’?

        In the same way that societies with laws work (extremely) better than societies without laws (owing to the existence of evil, mentally ill or foolish people), societies with State organized systematic healthcare are much more human that societies deprived of those.

        According to who? Your personal opinion? An idealized world that doesn’t exist? The belief that everything will be A-OK if the state just aims enough guns at enough heads and claims enough money ‘for the good of the lesser’, even when so often the ‘lesser’ turn out to be one more group working the politicians?

        That’s what’s really amazing here. You go from talking about how the world is a fallen place and that means you can’t rely on encouraging people to give to the poor, encouraging charity, trying to make charity as local as possible… but oh, somehow governments and laws and socialism are immune to the ills of a fallen world. No, we’ll never see abuses of that system. Somehow, the fallen world doesn’t matter with socialists, despite – you know – the multitude of failed economies, and brutal governments.

        All this disputes the idea that your socialist model is better at all. But what’s more, I will come right out and say: just because people die more often in one system doesn’t mean it’s automatically and totally superior to the alternative. I’ve read about how Africans supposedly lived longer and healthier under slaveowners than in Africa. If so, was that a superior system?

        • A Christian anarchist believing there should be no law at all against violence could argue as follows:

          “That’s what’s really amazing here. You go from talking about how the world is a fallen place and that means you can’t rely on encouraging people to refrain from violent actions… but oh, somehow governments and laws are immune to the ills of a fallen world. No, we’ll never see abuses of that system. Somehow, the fallen world doesn’t matter with anti-anarchists, despite – you know – the multitude of oppressive regimes, and brutal governments.”

          Would that be persuasive?

      • By the by, let me answer your post with one by Theodore Dalrymple:

        Just as it is easier to recognize ill health in someone you haven’t seen for some time rather than in someone you meet daily, so a visitor coming into a society from elsewhere often can see its character more clearly than those who live in it. Every few months, doctors from countries like the Philippines and India arrive fresh from the airport to work for a year’s stint at my hospital. It is fascinating to observe their evolving response to British squalor.

        At the start, they are uniformly enthusiastic about the care that we unsparingly and unhesitatingly give to everyone, regardless of economic status. They themselves come from cities—Manila, Bombay, Madras—where many of the cases we see in our hospital would simply be left to die, often without succor of any kind. And they are impressed that our care extends beyond the merely medical: that no one goes without food or clothing or shelter, or even entertainment. There seems to be a public agency to deal with every conceivable problem. For a couple of weeks, they think this all represents the acme of civilization, especially when they recall the horrors at home. Poverty—as they know it— has been abolished.

        Before very long, though, they start to feel a vague unease. A Filipina doctor, for example, asked me why so few people seemed grateful for what was done for them. What prompted her question was an addict who, having collapsed from an accidental overdose of heroin, was brought to our hospital. He required intensive care to revive him, with doctors and nurses tending him all night. His first words to the doctor when he suddenly regained consciousness were, “Get me a fucking roll-up” (a hand-rolled cigarette). His imperious rudeness didn’t arise from mere confusion: he continued to treat the staff as if they had kidnapped him and held him in the hospital against his will to perform experiments upon him. “Get me the fuck out of here!” There was no acknowledgment of what had been done for him, let alone gratitude for it. If he considered that he had received any benefit from his stay at all, well, it was simply his due.

        My doctors from Bombay, Madras, or Manila observe this kind of conduct open- mouthed. At first they assume that the cases they see are a statistical quirk, a kind of sampling error, and that given time they will encounter a better, more representative cross section of the population. Gradually, however, it dawns upon them that what they have seen is representative. When every benefit received is a right, there is no place for good manners, let alone for gratitude.

        Now, that’s one anecdote against another, basically. Take it with salt. But I will say – this tracks with my experience.

        • Thanks for this. It does make sense as the dual to lacking compassion. An overarching theological model of mine is that God has given to us so that we can give to others, and he has created needs in us which are meant to be satisfied by himself and the specific gifts he has given others. This binds us together in wonderful community, if we admit our needs and gifts and the personal uses of them. However, personal community means we bump into each other and that our rough edges will chafe and need mutual sanding. It seems that people prefer distance to this, and thus impersonality increases in scope.

          Here comes the theological rub, at least for me. If God wants true human-human relationship instead of the joke of it which often exists, he will have set up reality to mess with any simulacra. This predicts destabilizing forces of stuff like welfare states, if safety nets become hammocks (I came up with that myself, I did not steal it from Mr Ryan). However, the Bible also teaches that people will do all they can to patch over evidence of destabilization, doing everything they can do ameliorate the symptoms instead of attacking the core problem: failure to live in proper community.

          Something I fear is that we could get very deep into a socialism which replaces human–human interactions with impersonal simulacra, on and on until people have completely lost the idea of what true friendship and true community looks like. Of course, the words will continue to describe evolving realities; it reminds me of the scene in Star Wars when the Millennium Falcon lands in an asteroid cave and they don’t realize the ground can move beneath their feet until it is almost too late. Or will we think we have built our house on a rock, when it is actually sand held together by sweet honey of the kind ostensibly used by Lord Blackwood in Sherlock Holmes (2009) to escape from his tomb? A bit of rain and stone turns to sand—awfully biblical if one knows the allusion.

          • This predicts destabilizing forces of stuff like welfare states, if safety nets become hammocks (I came up with that myself, I did not steal it from Mr Ryan).

            Why do you say that but link to an article dedicated to refuting this very idea without further comment?

          • First, I said “if safety nets become hammocks”, not “when“. Second, I’m well aware that differing philosophies greatly impact how the evidence is interpreted and put together in a synthesized whole. Republicans are caricatured as thinking that most of a person’s problems are deficiencies of the will, while Democrats are caricatured as thinking that all most people need are a bit of help. Without a significant investment in research, I’m unwilling to believe either, and unwilling to believe that there is no significant danger to creating dependence with social welfare programs.

            A few years ago, I decided to dive deeply into the minimum wage debate. I read a ton of research papers, starting out from the position that minimum wage distorts the real market value of labor and seems to be an inefficient response to monopsony of the labor market. However, the research shows that MW increases don’t adversely affect unemployment all that much. What gives? Many people I encountered claimed that this means MW increase is a good thing; I was suspicious. As it turns out, the people who really get screwed are those who are unskilled and really need the jobs as some kind of income. When the MW is increased, the labor force shifts to the better-off, second and tertiary household earners (e.g. high school students of middle-class families). What happens is that the barrier to entry to your first job goes up: you have to be more valuable to be worth employing. And yet, among those promoting MW, I never saw this admitted. You wouldn’t know that it possibly happens without some basic reasoning and reading the research.

            So yeah, I’m not going to be swayed by a few selectively chosen research studies. I’m going to stay pretty damn neutral until I can really pit the two different sides against each other, comparing their philosophies and the available data in a rigorous fashion. Until then I know too well how easy it is to selectively quite the evidence to support your position on such politically charged issues. Until then, I will continue to say “if”.

            P.S. Why not include some Ellul. I find the following thinking from the famous French sociologist to be quite compelling, given what I have seen in life:

                There is also another element that is intolerable for different reasons, namely, freedom. It is true that people claim to want freedom. In good faith attempts are made to set up political freedom. People also proclaim metaphysical freedom. They struggle to free slaves. They make liberty a supreme value. The loss of freedom by imprisonment is a punishment that is hard to bear. Liberty is cherished. How many crimes, too, are committed in its name? Impressive Greek myths tell the story of human freedom triumphing over the gods. In one interpretation of Genesis 3 Adam is praised as one who made a bold stroke for freedom, asserting his independence in face of a malignant, authoritarian, tormenting God who imposed prohibitions so as to prevent his child from doing wrong.
                Adam was bold enough to act as a free man before God, disobeying him and transgressing. In so doing he inaugurated human history, which is in truth, the history of freedom. How beautiful all this is! But this fervor, passion, desire, and teaching are all false. It is not true that people want to be free. They want the advantages of independence without the duties or difficulties of freedom.[5] Freedom is hard to live with. It is terrible. It is a venture. It devours and demands. It is a constant battle, for around us there are always traps to rob us of it. But in particular freedom itself allows us no rest. It requires incessant emulation and questioning. it presupposes alert attention, ruling out habit or institution. It demands that I be always fresh, always ready, never hiding behind precedents or past defeats. It brings breaks and conflicts. It yields to no constraint and exercises no constraint. For there is freedom only in permanent self-control and in love of neighbor.
                Love presupposes freedom and freedom expands only in love.[6] This is why de Sade is the supreme liar of the ages. What he showed and taught others is the way of slavery under he banner of freedom. Freedom can never exert power. There is full coincidence between weakness and freedom. Similarly, freedom can never mean possession. There is an exact coincidence between freedom and non possession. Freedom, then, is not merely a merry childish romp in a garden of flowers. It is this too, for it generates great waves of joy, but these cannot be separated from severe asceticism, conflict, and the absence of arms and conquests. This is why those who suddenly find themselves in a situation of freedom lose their heads or soon want to return to bondage. (The Subversion of Christianity, 166–167)

            If Ellul is right, this is a powerful reason to doubt that all people need is a leg up. I am deeply suspicious of people’s view of human nature given stuff like Donald E. Polkinghorne’s Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences and F.A. Hayek’s Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason. Perhaps this betrays some Austrian thought in me? Add this to what I see as continual denial in folks online of stuff like Milgram experiment § Results, and I’m not sure how much I trust articles like the liberal-leaning NYT article I linked. Neither do I trust conservative sources. I feel like I’m mostly in a no-man’s-land, to be honest. Not enough truth is respected. 😦

  3. So should we not work together towards constructing a society where this kind of evil is MINIMIZED?

    While reading these lines, many Conservative Christians would doubtlessly answer me that while we are taught by our Master to care for the poor, the solution doesn’t have to be political.

    But many of them couldn’t tell me that with a straight face, that is without either cognitive dissonances or a hypocritical tongue. When abortion and homosexuality are concerned, they certainly believe that a political solution is not only in order but also the most Christian thing anyone could do.

    Yes, because it is totally logical to think one thing should be illegal and not another.

  4. Now, according to people like Sheila, whose comments you frequently defend and who you numerous times have enthusiastically endorsed, I, a conservative, “probably don’t even care about raped and suicidal women”.

    You also think that conservatives don’t care about the poor.

    And yet here I am, one of the founders of a charity that runs out of a Catholic Church, that donates its money to organizations that help teenagers suffering from depression, tendency to self-harm, and/or suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

    But I guess my charity doesn’t specifically cater to women or the poor, right?

    I’m also one of the evil people who feels that legalization of mass murder is actually completely different from legally compelling people to give other people money.

    • “You also think that conservatives don’t care about the poor.”

      How do you ground this claim?

      In a recent response to Crude here, I explicitly said that left-wing folks (including MYSELF) should care more for the poor in their MIDST.

      So I do believe many Conservatives outshine me in that respect and this is something I should feel ashamed of.

      • Well, in this post you accused conservatives of caring more about abortion and gay marriage than helping the poor, then specifically clarified that you believed they KNEW they weren’t caring enough about the poor and didn’t care, and thus were hypocrites. How was I supposed to take that?

        • Hmmm…maybe I should humbly recognize I’m human too and make some mistakes as well 🙂

          I certainly knew there are compassionate Conservatives out there who are actually MORE caring for those in their midst than liberals such as myself. Studies strongly indicate this social fact.

          Still, there are also plenty of Conservatives who really focus their energy on abortion and homosexuality while neglecting caring for the poor and these are the ones I had in mind while writing these infuriating lines.

          The first group of Conservatives might be great people and they’re entirely right to do what they do towards those in need in their vicinity.
          BUT they’re terribly misguided when thinking it’s sufficient for the reasons I’ve mentioned.

      • BUT they’re terribly misguided when thinking it’s sufficient for the reasons I’ve mentioned.

        What I find funny is that – and you haven’t acknowledged this – your OP example of a dramatic failure… was a socialist one. I mean, that’s putting aside the fact that the whole article seems geared towards fear-mongering against any austerity cuts (which aren’t exactly implemented for -fun-, you realize?)

        As for ‘sufficient’ – when is it ever? There’s always improvement to be had, there are tradeoffs. I’ve already named some tradeoffs -I- make! I don’t regard even local government involvement as idyllic, but I can concede that much.

        Yet for you, apparently, nothing less than the largest possible program, at the highest possible level, is acceptable. And if a country that has that has a single death, you talk about how it’s an evil capitalist failure.

        This is what started me down the road of ‘disagreeing with progressive Christians’ to ‘actively disliking them tremendously’. The whole movement is predicated on this sort of thinking. The very idea that there’s even an intellectual alternative to this kind of socialist nanny-state concept for helping people is treated as unthinkable, with the sides divided into ‘People who care about the poor’ and ‘People who want them all to die, die, die / People who do not care about them at ALL’.

        You’re different in that if you get some reasonable pushback, you can talk. But that’s actually what makes you tremendously exceptional on this front. Most other places would just keep up the narrative, because ‘narrative’ is all they understand. Possibilities that don’t fit the narrative aren’t even treated as possibilities.

        A bit like how the UK (once again, a nice big nanny state) recently had a scandal where child sex abuse was covered up en masse because no one wanted to look racist. How much noise do the progressives make? Hardly any. Female children (which, frankly, are forever more precious than males, unless the males happen to wear dresses) getting sexually abused, complete with a coverup? Can’t talk about that. The villains are all wrong. They’re supposed to be priests or at least religious people. Not good secular workers. Why, that may cause people to distrust socialism, and we can’t have that.

  5. This is why I reject free market capitalism for (Christian) socialism.

    I don´t think you can blame this story on free market capitalism. The way many european countries, including and especially the UK, nowadays deal with unemployment in most respects runs counter to the idea of a free market. In a free market, your salary would be determined by how much demand there is for your particular skills. But for a significant fraction of the working class (those that have no savings to speak of), this principle doesn´t apply at all – a jobcenter nowadays can force them to take practically any job, even if it pays so little that no one can live from it without the government chipping in some additional taxpayer money. So, what this leads to in practice is taxpayer-subsidized wage dumping – the middle class pays for it, the unemployed and the working poor suffer and the 1% profit.

      • I should have just said that the most important values are human worth and quality of life and that the economy ought to serve mankind rather the reverse.

        I could not agree more with that ;-).
        In case you are not familiar with the concept of a “soziale Marktwirtschaft”:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_market_economy (unfortunately, the german economy can no longer be reasonably called a social market economy after the “Agenda 2010” reforms – a real shame if you ask me)

      • I should have just said that the most important values are human worth and quality of life and that the economy ought to serve mankind rather the reverse.

        Most important? Since when?

        Nevertheless, the moment you accept that you can value humans and quality of life and believe economy serves mankind rather than the reverse – and reject socialism – we’ll have had some nice and actual progress.

      • Nevertheless, the moment you accept that you can value humans and quality of life and believe economy serves mankind rather than the reverse – and reject socialism – we’ll have had some nice and actual progress.

        That depends on what “reject socialism” means. Example: the UK tried both extremes wrt worker´s rights – the employee side / worker´s unions being way too strong pre-Thatcher and the employer side being way too strong post-Thatcher. Both extremes suck, for very different reasons and with very different problems, but they are pretty much equally bad. An aristotelian golden mean – both sides being able to negotiate on eye level (i.e. the only thing that would guarantee that wages are set according to the rules of a free market instead of one side constantly screwing the other over) is frequently being labelled as “socialism”. That´s obviously not what the word means, “socialism” was never a well-defined term but it sure as hell doesn´t mean that. But the examples of the word “socialism” being used in such a way vastly outnumber the examples of this word being used accurately.

      • An aristotelian golden mean – both sides being able to negotiate on eye level (i.e. the only thing that would guarantee that wages are set according to the rules of a free market instead of one side constantly screwing the other over) is frequently being labelled as “socialism”.

        That’s not ‘aristotelian’, and the free market has no fairness ‘rules’. And your answer underlines the problem here. Your guarantee is not even a guarantee, and it’s not the only option.

      • That’s not ‘aristotelian’[1], and the free market has no fairness ‘rules’[2]. And your answer underlines the problem here. Your guarantee is not even a guarantee, and it’s not the only option [3].

        1. “In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the ‘golden mean’ is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_mean_(philosophy)
        2. I didn´t talk about “fairness”. What I said was “rules of a free market”, and that means that wages are set according to supply and demand of particular skills instead of either employers screwing over employees or vice versa because one side has the power to impose its will on the other and get away with it.
        3. So which other option would you have in mind for assuring that labour is governed by a free market instead of either employees or employers exploiting the other side?

      • 1. “In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle

        And it’s still not that. Maybe you meant “the result I like the best”.

        2. I didn´t talk about “fairness”. What I said was “rules of a free market”, and that means that wages are set according to supply and demand of particular skills instead of either employers screwing over employees or vice versa

        “Someone got screwed” is as compatible with a free market as it is with socialism, and complaining that the free market sans-regulation results in screwing over and thus we must stop that is as clear an appeal to ‘fairness’ as any can be.

        So which other option would you have in mind for assuring that labour is governed by a free market instead of either employees or employers exploiting the other side

        Assurances don’t exist in any system, your definition of ‘free market’ is too idiosyncratic to discuss, but most of all – I’m not offering assurances. I’m not even opposing state intervention as a rule. I’m pointing out there are alternatives.

        Let’s have fun with this. Party A and Party B wish to negotiate an exchange. Can you name a way – a merely possible, quite realistic way, sans-guarantee – for Party A and Party B to achieve a mutually satisfactory exchange that does not involve a law or state action?

        I want to see if these options are even perceptible to you anymore.

  6. And it’s still not that. Maybe you meant “the result I like the best”.

    An aristotelian golden mean refers to a middle ground between too much or too little of a morally relevant thing. If you think that there cannot be an aristotelian golden mean in labor rights issues, then this logically means that you either a) do not consider these issues to be morally relevant or b) consider it obvious that one extreme – workers having no rights at all or getting *whatever* they want from their employers – is the desirable option. Which one is it?

    “Someone got screwed” is as compatible with a free market as it is with socialism, and complaining that the free market sans-regulation results in screwing over and thus we must stop that is as clear an appeal to ‘fairness’ as any can be.

    1. I am not arguing for a “socialist” position.
    2. A free market without *any* regulation whatsoever pretty much immediately ceases to be a free market because people start gaming the system and creating conditions that are everything but a free market. One example was the stuff I talked about in my first comment in this thread. What I am criticizing is not the idea of a free market, what I criticize is the absence of it. And the only regulation I support is that which prohibits people from creating loopholes and sidestepping the supply-demand principle.

    Assurances don’t exist in any system, your definition of ‘free market’ is too idiosyncratic to discuss

    “A free market is a market system in which the prices for goods and services are set freely by consent between sellers and consumers, in which the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government, price-setting monopoly, or other authority.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_market
    That is my definition of “free market” but maybe you disagree with wikipedia yet again.

    I’m not offering assurances. I’m not even opposing state intervention as a rule. I’m pointing out there are alternatives.

    That is not what you are doing at all. Those are the “alternatives” that you have pointed out so far:
    []

    Let’s have fun with this. Party A and Party B wish to negotiate an exchange. Can you name a way – a merely possible, quite realistic way, sans-guarantee – for Party A and Party B to achieve a mutually satisfactory exchange that does not involve a law or state action?

    That has literally nothing whatsoever to do with what I am arguing for. I have neither explicitly nor implicitly mentioned that either side has to be satisfied with the outcome – the only thing I argued for is that they should be able to negotiate on eye level.

    • Ugh, textwalls filled with ‘I know this is wrong but it’ll wear him out to correct all of this that’s obviously wrong’ as usual. No thanks.

      That has literally nothing whatsoever to do with what I am arguing for. I have neither explicitly nor implicitly mentioned that either side has to be satisfied with the outcome – the only thing I argued for is that they should be able to negotiate on eye level.

      And why do they? Because, and therefore, etc, etc. Textwall, obvious Andy misunderstanding, patient Crude correction, boring counterclaim, holy fuck it’s December already?

      No thanks.

      Let’s have fun with this. Party A and Party B wish to negotiate an exchange. Can you name a way – a merely possible, quite realistic way, sans-guarantee – for Party A and Party B to achieve a mutually satisfactory exchange that does not involve a law or state action?

      If you’ve got nothing, we can put the fork in this one early. I’ve got work to do, games to play and more.

      • Ugh, textwalls filled with ‘I know this is wrong but it’ll wear him out to correct all of this that’s obviously wrong’ as usual. No thanks.
        ….
        Because, and therefore, etc, etc. Textwall, obvious Andy misunderstanding, patient Crude correction, boring counterclaim, holy fuck it’s December already?

        You know, when this moment comes where you realize that you have no more sophistry cards in your sleeve, and you try to insult me in your usual juvenile, hypocritical and self-righteous manner before running away with your tail between your legs – I read your comment out loud and finish with a “what would Jesus do?”. That always cracks me up ;-).

      • You know, when this moment comes where you realize that you have no more sophistry cards in your sleeve, and you try to insult me in your usual juvenile,

        Quick, tell us again about how the free market is that thing which requires government regulation so everyone can negotiate on “equal terms”. 😉 Like I said, not interested in the usual Andy bullshit-textwall.

        Still, the great thing about cutting through the bullshit? We can all see how a simple questions from me will go unanswered by you out of fear. Which both justifies my response to you, and aptly explains just -why- you always insist on dense responses, filled with cutesy bits of re-definitions, intentional misunderstandings, and more.

        I asked a simple question, Andy – and you fled. But don’t worry; both dishonesty and cowardice are totally acceptable in your worldview. In fact, when facing arguments you dislike and can’t cope with, they are apparently mandatory. 😉

        Time for fun!

        • Quick, tell us again about how the free market is that thing which requires government regulation so everyone can negotiate on “equal terms”. 😉 Like I said, not interested in the usual Andy bullshit-textwall.

          Government regulation to prevent the formation of monopolies, for example, does not violate the idea of a free market because it is regulation not aimed at controlling supply and demand but rather regulation to guarantee that the market *does* in fact follow supply and demand principles. What I am talking about follows the exact same principle, it is aimed at guaranteeing that labor is reimbursed based on supply and demand principles.

          Still, the great thing about cutting through the bullshit? We can all see how a simple questions from me will go unanswered by you out of fear.
          ….
          I asked a simple question, Andy – and you fled.

          Wow, you are getting really desperate aren´t you?
          To reiterate, this is what crude said:
          “Let’s have fun with this. Party A and Party B wish to negotiate an exchange. Can you name a way – a merely possible, quite realistic way, sans-guarantee – for Party A and Party B to achieve a mutually satisfactory exchange that does not involve a law or state action?”
          and this is what I answered:
          “That has literally nothing whatsoever to do with what I am arguing for. I have neither explicitly nor implicitly mentioned that either side has to be satisfied with the outcome – the only thing I argued for is that they should be able to negotiate on eye level.”
          Hint: lying is a sin! (yes, really, your holy book says so quite explicitly)
          Also, “we can all see” – after such a thread has been going on for a few days, you can count the number of people who actually still follow new comments probably on one hand. If you are worried that you are embarrassing yourself publicly (that would certainly explain why you always have to lash out in such a juvenile manner when you are unable to defend your position intellectually), don´t worry – this is at least approximately between the two of us (and I guess 2-3 spectators, at most…).

          But don’t worry; both dishonesty and cowardice are totally acceptable in your worldview. In fact, when facing arguments you dislike and can’t cope with, they are apparently mandatory. 😉

          I literally laughed out loud after reading this because you wrote it right after lying so shamelessly, transparently and gratuitously just seconds(!) before in the same comment – you are becoming your own parody dude 😉
          Really, your holier-than-thou schtick would only be half as funny if you wouldn´t be such a hypocrite.

        • “Like I said, not interested in the usual Andy bullshit-textwall.

          Still, the great thing about cutting through the bullshit? ”

          Do you really believe you’re honoring Christ while using such words?
          Are we not called to be humble peace-makers ?

          And you’re relying on plenty of UNGROUNDED and pretty uncharitable assumptions.

          What evidence do you have he’s using INTENTIONAL misunderstandings? Do you dispose of some secret means for prying into his mind?

          Unlike other people (such as Tildeb), it’s quite possible and even easy to have a reasonable and friendly conversation with Andy.

          “But don’t worry; both dishonesty and cowardice are totally acceptable in your worldview. ”

          That’s extraordinarily offensive.

          It is obvious that your aggressive behavior would cause almost everyone to stay light-years away from the faith of the person displaying it.

          As I told you in a comment you didn’t answer to: keep a harsh rhetoric for people who keep bullying despite all attempts at stopping the conflicts.

          Look, I completely accept that you disagree with me on Gay marriage and socialism. I entirely respect your right to hold these views and I’d oppose anyone trying to silence you through political means.
          It is your very attitude I find deeply shabby, both on my blog and (as a staunch follower of Christ) anywhere else.

          Could you not FOR GOD’S SAKE drop down your armor of reckless Culture Warrior for a while and sincerely ask yourself if you’re not running off the rails as far as your BEHAVIOR is concerned?

          You should medidate on these words of Randal Rauser:

          “Martin Marty has observed that the new division which will define our age is not between conservative and liberal, or religious and irreligious, but rather between mean and non-mean.”
          http://randalrauser.com/2011/02/atheists-without-anger/

          On which side would you like to stand?

          Cheers.

          • Unlike other people (such as Tildeb), it’s quite possible and even easy to have a reasonable and friendly conversation with Andy.

            Thanks! 😉 I can be a huge dick sometimes but for this escalation with crude, I don´t feel very guilty – I usually have no problems at all to discuss in a respectful and amicable fashion with people who have very similar beliefs to the ones that crude holds (e.g. the discussions I had with Malcolm on this blog).

          • And I can even have nice and sometimes pleasant discussions with kind fundamentalists.

            To my stage, the attitude and heart of a person is most of the time far more important than his or beliefs.

      • Lothar,

        You, I’ll talk with. More intellectually honest. Shorter dialogue.

        Do you really believe you’re honoring Christ while using such words?
        Are we not called to be humble peace-makers ?

        Oh, please. Like Andy even gives a shit. This gives him an opportunity to huff and puff and whine, which is like cocaine for people of his particular cultural niche. 😉

        And you’re relying on plenty of UNGROUNDED and pretty uncharitable assumptions.

        What evidence do you have he’s using INTENTIONAL misunderstandings? Do you dispose of some secret means for prying into his mind?

        Man, I always see this criticism, and it’s always so loopy to me. I do, indeed, have some means for prying into his mind: it’s called ‘reading his posts for months, interacting with him at length, and coming to what seems like a reasonable conclusion’. Fallible? Sure. But so what? I have less time for a 3 week back and forth conversation where Andy redefines things into goddamn oblivion, all while snarking passive-aggressively for an audience of probably four. Writings like his are going to herald the Singularity, because the first sentient thought from a robot is going to be a web-crawling bot writing ‘Oh shit, this is monotonous, I can’t keep reading this.’ in the debugger.

        That’s extraordinarily offensive.

        It is obvious that your aggressive behavior would cause almost everyone to stay light-years away from the faith of the person displaying it.

        Then they’re lost causes anyway, because there is absolutely no shortage of atheists, jews, muslims, Christians, conservatives, liberals, women and men who are offensive. Do you think anyone to the right of Hollande is going to be particularly enamored with Christianity as you offer it? More likely the libertarian atheists would go ‘Well, Ayn Rand was right. Christianity really IS a parasite religion.’

        I’ve got a very long track record of having long, neutral-toned conversations with Andy, even while he engages in a whole lot of passive-aggressive baiting (tip: count how many times he starts talking about ‘bible thumpers’ in a pretty obvious attempt to provoke a reaction, even when I’m being entirely civil.) Likewise, Andy fires back with guns a-blazing, but that’s okay because… I don’t know, he’s in your political corner and he sprechen sie kostbar deutsch, so he gets a pass?

        Not a concern. Do as thou wilt.

        Could you not FOR GOD’S SAKE drop down your armor of reckless Culture Warrior for a while and sincerely ask yourself if you’re not running off the rails as far as your BEHAVIOR is concerned?

        Culture warrior? When I’m not going after socialists and progressives here, I’m over at What’s Wrong With the World going after the conservatives for all their failings, including with regards to abortion, gay rights, and otherwise. I’ve gotten kicked off of Triablogue for attacking them for attacking gays, lesbians, etc. And do you think most conservatives are particularly enamored with my view that business and mishandling of capitalism have done considerable damage to the culture and to Christianity both? Or with my view that conservatives need to ramp up the cultural and personal pressure to be charitable community builders?

        If I’m a culture warrior, Lothar, it’s in the service of the culture of Crude – not a big team, I assure you. You seem to think that if I’m not on Team Progressive, I’m on Team Conservative. While I have conservative sympathies, I also have a whole lot of criticisms. You, meanwhile, put on the Team Progressive armor unabashedly. I warn you: it won’t last. You’re not cut out for that kind of group-think, and what they demand of followers.

        As for Andy, I just had no desire to blow several weeks of conversation time chasing him down his rabbit holes, which inevitably leads to his rabbits being butchered – but at the cost of my time.

        On which side would you like to stand?

        Ask someone who cares desperately about being part of a team. I got over that particular worry many moons ago. As I’ve said, Randal Rauser – and I like Randal – is cut from the same clothes as James McGrath, where he supports prison and fines for people who so much as refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding. I’m pretty sure Randal wouldn’t define that as “mean”, which rather illustrates how useless his metric is.

        Anyway, here, let me do you a favor: you disapprove of my tone? Then I simply won’t display it here. Not even a hard feeling to be had! I’m sure tildeb and Sheila will be overjoyed, and you can all get back to the important thing without my distraction: promoting Christianity*.

        (* Defined as ‘promoting gay marriage, showing pictures of hyperidealized monogamous gay couples and pretending no other type of LGBT person exists, cheering on this or that progressive cause, complaining about the wickedness and shame and evil of everyone to the right of Tillich, especially people who vote for conservatives, whom we all know are really worshiping the Devil without realizing it.’)

        • 1. 846 words with quotes, 744 without. Hypocrisy thy name is crude.

          2. “This gives him an opportunity to huff and puff and whine” – Danger, danger! Hypocrisy reaching critical level!

          3. “where Andy redefines things into goddamn oblivion” – translation: “Andy quotes the definitions from the dictionary or wikipedia and sticks by them, while crude does not like that because he feels really strongly that the words should mean whatever he feels they should mean at that given moment”

          4.”I’ve got a very long track record of having long, neutral-toned conversations with Andy, even while he engages in a whole lot of passive-aggressive baiting” – I had to read that several times and I can still barely believe what I see – the guy who has yet to write a single sentence that doesn´t contain at least one potshot and drips with smug contempt directed at everyone who is not exactly like him in every respect, and who can´t resist the urge to overtly and covertly assert his moral and intellectual superiority at literally every opportunity, also prides himself of writing in a “neutral-toned” fashion.
          You can´t make this shit up, you really can´t.

          5. “tip: count how many times he starts talking about ‘bible thumpers’ in a pretty obvious attempt to provoke a reaction, even when I’m being entirely civil”
          – Yeah, lets do that! Counting…. still counting…. alright, the results are in: the number of times where I explicitly called crude a Bible thumper or insinuated that he was one is *drumroll* – one. Yes, you heard that right – one. I actually sincerely apologized for this one (my words were “you know what, you´re right, that was indeed completely uncalled for” IIRC) but crude as a follower of Christ obviously can´t accept an apology, no, he is rather bound by commandments like:
          “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, you are a pussy and your heavenly Father will disown you. If your brother asks for forgiveness, he is showing weakness and you should exploit this opportunity to utterly destroy him because you ought to be perfect like your father in heaven is perfect.”
          Matthew 6:14-16 (yeah… paraphrased, but you should trust crude, this is the intended meaning of those verses).
          Btw, this is literally the *only actual example* of my bad behaviour that you refer to instead of providing nothing but vague insinuations pulled out of your nether regions. An example where I did something exactly once and apologized for that. That´s a pretty good performance compared to what you are delivering – and if I were like you, I now would be unable to resist the urge to point out how much better than you this makes me.

          6. “I don’t know, he’s in your political corner and he sprechen sie kostbar deutsch, so he gets a pass?” – You don´t even know what political corner I´m in because you are too busy stereotyping. Also, it would be “spricht”, not “sprechen” in that sentence and the word “kostbar” makes no sense whatsoever in that context – I can only guess that you thought that “kostbar” has multiple meanings and can be used like the english “precious”, which is not the case, “kostbar” just refers to something being very valuable (or maybe you confused “kostbar” with “köstlich”, but using that would also only make slightly more sense than that trainwreck of a sentence you came up with).

          7. “As for Andy, I just had no desire to blow several weeks of conversation time chasing him down his rabbit holes, which inevitably leads to his rabbits being butchered” – yeah, that´s one of way of saying that you got your ass handed to you and ran away with your tail between your legs after a final tirade of juvenile insults, and that literally every single time you tried to engage me with your repertoire of bad arguments that barely reach the level of sophistry, smug contempt, potshots based on pigeonholing everyone who is not exactly like you, and insults that are not nearly as creative and amusing as you think they are.

          8. “Anyway, here, let me do you a favor: you disapprove of my tone? Then I simply won’t display it here. Not even a hard feeling to be had! I’m sure tildeb and Sheila will be overjoyed” – I doubt that, they probably don´t hate you at all or not nearly as much as you hate them, because both of them – including atheist tildeb – are better christians than you in that sense (“sense” = how to deal with people that you think have wronged you), I know very few people who wouldn´t be better christians than you in that sense.

          • drips with smug contempt

            Woot, fireworks! Unfortunately, Andy, you’re a pot calling the kettle black on this one. For example, you just recent entered a conversation between The Thinker and me on a blog where you rarely post, didn’t pay attention to what was being said, and then said the following:

            AS: You still seem to believe that the is-ought problem is actually a logical proof that demonstrates that moral truth cannot possibly be grounded in anything. Why don´t you actually try reading the article on the is ought problem that you´ve linked to probably at least two hundred times, it doesn´t say what you think it is saying.

            If that isn’t smug, I’m not sure what is. Furthermore, you probably know that “cannot possibly be grounded” is a useless term in this context: it is well-known that the naturalistic fallacy isn’t necessarily a fallacy, but no non-fallacy form is known. If you think we can ground morality in something non-evidence, like reason, you’ll need to overcome the observation of UCSD law prof Steven D. Smith’s The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse:

            No one expects that anything called “reason” will dispel such pluralism by leading people to converge on a unified truth—certainly not about ultimate or cosmic matters such as “the nature of the universe” or “the end and the object of life.” Indeed, unity on such matters could be achieved only by state coercion: Rawls calls this the “fact of oppression.”[36] So a central function of “public reason” today is precisely to keep such matters out of public deliberation (subject to various qualifications and exceptions that Rawls conceded as his thinking developed). And citizens practice Rawlsian public reason when they refrain from invoking or acting on their “comprehensive doctrines”—that is, their deepest convictions about what is really true—and consent to work only with a scaled-down set of beliefs or methods that claim the support of an ostensible “overlapping consensus“.[Political Liberalism, 133-172, 223-227] (14–15)

            Now, I don’t really want to totally derail this conversation here (I wonder if it’s over at this point between you and Crude anyhow), but if you’re going to whip out the hypocrisy card, then prepare to have it used against you.

            Your apparent belief that grounding is simple, which I think lies behind your discussion of a “golden mean” above, seems to be a faith in some Reason or Rationality that we can all agree upon. If I’m wrong, please let me know. However, if you think this, you’ll need to actually support it, given what Alasdair MacIntyre has written on the issue, in After Virtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality?. Some of what Crude has been doing, if I understand him correctly, is get you to understand that there is not just one Reason, not just one Rationality.

          • Luke,

            1. “if you’re going to whip out the hypocrisy card, then prepare to have it used against you” – knock yourself out. But before that, you might want to check what the word “hypocrite” actually means. If I call you a “hypocrite”, this doesn´t mean that you do x while I never do x, it means that you criticized / mocked / insulted me (or someone else) for doing x while you either do the same or are even worse wrt x. Yes, saying “you might want to check what the word “hypocrite” actually means” was smug, sue me.

            2. Thanks for reminding me of the work of UCSD law prof Steven D. Smith and linking to it yet again – I totally forgot that UCSD law prof Steven D. Smith is a law prof at UCSD and I know that I only wrote my opinion of the NYT article where his book is discussed 2 or 3 times, which means that I obviously can´t expect you to remember what I said about it or even that I addressed it at all.
            Yes, that was sarcasm – sorry but I´m not really interested in warming this issue up with you yet again because we always have to start at zero since you remember little if anything of what I had been saying before, and I don´t have the impression that you or I learn anything while doing it.

          • Do you see your behavior here as promoting the thriving of sentient beings? You called Crude a hypocrite based on his professed moral standard; I am curious about your professed moral standard. Are you exemplifying it, now? In our discussion of what grounds morality, it would be good to see what you mean by the word. In my experience, the differences between moralities show up not in the idea of thriving, but in who counts as a person and what happens when resources are scarce, whether physical or mental. When the screws are turned, is one person/group preferred over the other?

            As to the rest, perhaps I really need to set up a tool to scrape all of our discussions to make it easily searchable. Would you be up for somehow trying harder, yourself? If you’re merely going to continue has you have been, I’m not sure it would be worth the effort. One way you could contribute more is to be more willing to articulate your own position, instead of mostly critiquing others’. This is because it is easier to critique, and especially easy to hold others’ ideas to standards one cannot, oneself. This asymmetry is often hidden by refusing to articulate one’s own position.

            >

          • Luke,

            You called Crude a hypocrite based on his professed moral standard

            No, I did not. If you accuse someone of being callous, vindictive and petty while being callous, vindictive and petty yourself – then you are a hypocrite completely independent of whether your “professed moral standard” is cool with being callous, vindictive and petty. Me calling crude a hypocrite has nothing to do with his professed moral standards and everything to do with him accusing others of things for which he is a prime example himself.

            As to the rest, perhaps I really need to set up a tool to scrape all of our discussions to make it easily searchable. Would you be up for somehow trying harder, yourself? If you’re merely going to continue has you have been, I’m not sure it would be worth the effort. One way you could contribute more is to be more willing to articulate your own position, instead of mostly critiquing others’. This is because it is easier to critique, and especially easy to hold others’ ideas to standards one cannot, oneself. This asymmetry is often hidden by refusing to articulate one’s own position.

            Not interested. Not with you – not because I dislike you or have no respect for your intelligence but rather because you have a terrible memory (or maybe you are just engaging way too many people in parallel – just on DISQUS based formats you seem to reach something like 5000 comments per annum) and the expected gain stands in no proportion to the required effort. If you go back to the discussions we had, check if you asked me to clarify or elaborate anything which I then failed to do – example: go back to the last time we discussed the issue of abortion both here on Marc´s and on Johnatan´s blog, do that and look for instances of you asking questions which I failed to answer or failing to go into details where you ask me to. While you´re at it, look for a specific instance where I expect you to do something that I would be unwilling to do myself in the same situation.

          • It is not hypocritical to call someone X if you are X, even if you treat X as bad. It is hypocritical to pretend you are not X when you are, and then condemn others for being X. To condemn, you must have some sort of moral standard. Thus, to be hypocritical, you must have some sort of moral standard. So was Crude actually being hypocritical? If not, and if he were doing X, then the proper response is: “Perhaps X is wrong, but you apparently cannot help me not do X as you haven’t figured out how not to do it yourself, so… why point that out?”

            As to my apparent forgetfulness, as far as I can tell this is an extremely asymmetrical situation, with me doing the best to put forth coherent models, with you offering largely negative criticism, in the sense that you don’t contrast your own model to mine. And so, you have something much more coherent and whole to remember, whereas I have a thousand little details not connected in any easy-to-remember fashion. If, instead, I had a model of approximately similar complexity with which to compare mine, I could probably remember your position a lot better. While we did start talking about how to ground moral responsibility, in other situations I recall you refusing to articulate your own position, saying something like “I probably don’t believe any things you don’t, it’s just that you believe things I don’t.” It is much, much harder to build things than to tear things down. I don’t recall you doing much in the way of building, while I have attempted quite a lot of it.

            Or perhaps your memory is better than mine. I do really well with the ability to easily search; your private Disqus history makes that very hard. It’s odd that when I suggest doing precisely the thing which would alleviate the problem you rightly complain about, you say no thanks. Perhaps you thrive on your good memory and your via negativa? Were I to have easy systematic access to lots of your thought, maybe you wouldn’t come out as good as you believe. Alas, it appears I will never know, and given how few people are up for such long interactions, maybe nobody will ever know or be able to tell. Even if that hurdle were to be surpassed, all you have to do is turn up the acid/smug/whatever level and you drive all such knowledge far away from yourself.

            >

          • Be specific,
            1. You think I was out of line in one or more of my responses to crude (if not, then what the hell are you doing here?) – quote the part where you think I was out of line, quote what I was responding to, and optionally say why you think I was out of line. If you cannot do that, then, again, what the hell are you doing here?

            2. I asked you to look for specific instances where I refused to answer something you asked me / clarify a position or go into detail / make implicit assumptions or presuppositions explicit etc.pp., and / or specific instances of me expecting something from you that I was unwilling to do in a comparable situations. You completely misremember the one example you mention – “I recall you… saying something like “I probably don’t believe any things you don’t, it’s just that you believe things I don’t.”” – I didn´t say something like that wrt what we believe about “how to ground moral responsibility” and I sure as hell didn´t refuse to answer any of your questions, this was much more general, this was about the most basic background beliefs that we rarely (if at all) further question and rarely make explicit, but rather simply silently presuppose them in a conversation. And I asked you what you think would be an example of such background beliefs that I hold but you don´t because my guess would be that we are much more similar in that respect than you thought – you didn´t answer that.
            I´ll give you a specific example of you not clarifying your position after I asked you to, when we talked about your “moral entropy” idea here:
            http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2014/07/04/secularism-breeds-equality/#comment-1493416971
            Where have I been doing that?

            3. Re “I don’t recall you doing much in the way of building, while I have attempted quite a lot of it” – yes, because I have little interest in reinventing the wheel over and over again and because most of the stuff you “build” does not require an “alternative model” in my worldview because you build it simply for apologetics purposes (e.g. your idea about the *actual* cause of natural evils – I have no alternative model to your model here because I don´t need to make one up in order to reconcile natural evils with other beliefs I hold about what the world is like).

          • I wrote a long response which I still have, but I’ll give you a short version for now.

            1. I thought you were using “drips with smug contempt” as something morally condemnatory; was this an incorrect inference?

            2. Two questions I recall being unanswered (search functionality would be helpful, here) are: (i) Why do humans gain full rights at/around birth instead of e.g. when they can fear death? (ii) What makes interaction with other humans coercive vs. not coercive? The second is relevant to what Crude asked about two parties interacting and the role of government, given your use of the word “exploiting”, and later “on eye level”. You gave your seemingly becoming-standard “has nothing whatsoever to do with”, even though surely Crude’s “mutually satisfactory” assumed rational satisfaction and not e.g. insane/evil actors. A helpful example might be extreme food shortages and whether one jacks up prices inordinately as a result: supply/demand allows that, but we still tend to think of such things as “exploiting”.

            3. You certainly don’t feel the need to establish what I have called “moral rationality”; that is unsurprising due to your belief that the world started out with impersonal matter–energy (or a quantum landscape, whatever), making unique-to-mind attributes incredibly unlikely to obtain. That being said, your model of personhood is quite relevant, as well as your model of what is fair and just, as well as your model of free will, where I still don’t understand how choosing works. What it means to be a person could be seen as a center around which many of our discussions orbit; even Jonathan sees the matter as relevant, with his “discontinuous ‘I'” and The “I”, personhood and abstract objects.

            We did start teasing out bits about what you think about personhood with how moral responsibility is grounded; I would be happy to continue that discussion, although I think I’d want to build version next of my thread enhancement tool, along with some commitment from you that the time spent building such a tool would be worth it. I really don’t like forgetting relevant bits of what you’ve said, and I bet if we both could easily search what has been said before, that issue could be ameliorated.

            I still don’t have a good grasp on why you continue to participate in discussions like this. Is it not to come up with a better understanding of how the world works and how certain other people think? To the extent that it is the former, I should think that you would want to open your conceptions up to critique. I doubt the mere existence of our conversations will change the world much, and I don’t want to think that you merely have fun convincing yourself that you’re right and some random people on the internet are wrong.

        • Hi.

          It’s up to you to choose to never comment on my blog again.
          Several people did complain about your tone but not one of them had a problem with your defending your positions.

          So you’ll always be free to support whatever idea you wish here, as long as you don’t talk aggressively to other commentators according to the following rule:

          ************************
          “If your brother sins against you, ngo and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have ogained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established pby the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, qtell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, rlet him be to you as sa Gentile and sa tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, twhatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed6 in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you uagree on earth about anything they ask, vit will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are wgathered in my name, xthere am I among them.”
          “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

          22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”
          **********************

          Having tried to consistently applied these principles has allowed me to overcome many conflicts and win unlikely friends.

          We’re called to be better than the World, aren’t we?

          My first interactions with Andy weren’t amicable at all but I contacted him privately and tried to really understand his positions and build a human relationship with him.
          I think that an aggressive tone is only warranted once you realize that the other person isn’t willing at all to let go of his or her unfriendliness.

          “Culture warrior? When I’m not going after socialists and progressives here, I’m over at What’s Wrong With the World going after the conservatives for all their failings, including with regards to abortion, gay rights, and otherwise. I’ve gotten kicked off of Triablogue for attacking them for attacking gays, lesbians, etc. And do you think most conservatives are particularly enamored with my view that business and mishandling of capitalism have done considerable damage to the culture and to Christianity both? Or with my view that conservatives need to ramp up the cultural and personal pressure to be charitable community builders?”

          That’s really interesting. Could you perhaps send me privately or here links towards these posts?
          I also had agitated discussions with “Progressives” concerning abortion, Gay marriage, anti-white racism and feminism.

          I don’t see how abortion is a good thing and think it should always be avoided except in extreme cases. It really infuriated me to read a politician describing it as a “human right”.
          I’m for Gay marriage but I believe that folks refusing to take part in a Gay wedding shouldn’t be punished. I also don’t think that these issues should be given the priority in comparison to social and economical problems and harshly criticized the French pseudo-socialist government for using this as a way to mask its failures in this domain.
          I believe that anti-white racism is as much a problem as the racism of white people.
          I think that feminism all too often turns into female supremacism and that we need an “Equalism” based on the fundamental equality of human worth and dignity.

          Believe me or not, I had quite a few discussions with unfriendly “Progressives” who truly didn’t like what I had to say.

          So I wish you all the best in all your endeavors and sincerely hope you’ll try to earnestly follow Christ’s commands.

          Lovely greetings.

      • @labreuer:

        Just noticed that I completely missed this comment of yours:

        1. I thought you were using “drips with smug contempt” as something morally condemnatory; was this an incorrect inference?

        No. Why are you avoiding my question? Quote what I said, quote what I was replying to, and tell me how my words were out of line / uncalled for.

        2. Two questions I recall being unanswered (search functionality would be helpful, here) are: (i) Why do humans gain full rights at/around birth….

        That is false, I did answer that, almost immediately after you asked me. And my answer shouldn´t be too hard to find for you given that the thread in question is not very old.

        (ii) What makes interaction with other humans coercive vs. not coercive?

        I cannot recall you asking me that before.

        The second is relevant to what Crude asked about two parties interacting and the role of government, given your use of the word “exploiting”, and later “on eye level”. You gave your seemingly becoming-standard “has nothing whatsoever to do with”, even though surely Crude’s “mutually satisfactory” assumed rational satisfaction and not e.g. insane/evil actors.

        What you say before “even though” has nothing to do with what you write after it – crude´s question had nothing to do with what I was talking about and if you disagree, quote what I said and explain how crude´s question makes any sense of it.

        ….that is unsurprising due to your belief that the world started out with impersonal matter–energy (or a quantum landscape, whatever), making unique-to-mind attributes incredibly unlikely to obtain.

        A claim that you pulled out of your nether regions. Once you can explain how minds work, you can start developing arguments for which backgrounds would make the emergence of “unique-to-mind attributes” incredibly unlikely to obtain. Until then, what you say here is based 100% on personal preference and 0% on evidence and / or logic.

        That being said, your model of personhood is quite relevant, as well as your model of what is fair and just, as well as your model of free will, where I still don’t understand how choosing works.

        That´s cool, you can´t blame me for not trying to explain it to you though because I wrote three very long comments on Jonathan´s blog where I replied to your questions about this – you didn´t even ask for further clarification after my last comment (where I used artificial neural networks as an analogy), you just dropped out. Particularly wrt this topic, I went into much more detail than you did – you cannot even begin to explain what it means to make a “choice” within your LFW “model” (or rather, I asked you countless times to explain how a LFW “choice” / “decision” could not be a self-refuting idea – and you can´t).

        I still don’t have a good grasp on why you continue to participate in discussions like this. Is it not to come up with a better understanding of how the world works and how certain other people think? To the extent that it is the former, I should think that you would want to open your conceptions up to critique.

        Which presumably means that I am not open to criticism – which you think I am because……[insert *specific* example(s)] here.

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