Dude, where’s my progressivism?! Why I no longer identify as progressive.

For many years I self identified as a proud progressive. I identified as such because I believed in such things as secularism, universal healthcare, affordable education, various other social safety net programs,  gay rights, gender and racial egalitarianism, I was pro-choice, etc. I didn’t always fall directly in line with mainstream progressive views, but I generally did. While my political self-description has changed, my values really haven’t.  Continue reading

Whose death would stun the Western World?

A month ago I asked readers What is the most misunderstood idea of all time?Image

My next big (slightly morbid) question is Whose death would stun the Western World?

A few years ago when Michael Jackson unexpectedly died, it felt like the world sort of skipped a few beats. I was in South Korea at the time. I tended to go to foreigner bars that catered to Canadians, Americans, Brits, Aussies and New Zealanders. My main bar was essentially running a several day long Michael Jackson marathon. He may well have been the most famous person in the world. Continue reading

Credit to Lupe Fiasco for Obama Criticisms

Praise to rapper Lupe Fiasco, who let loose on President Barack Obama during an invited appearance at a Washington DC pre-inauguration celebration yesterday. As per Australian website News.Com.Au, Fiasco spoke against war for 30 minutes, with some criticism directed specifically at the President. Later, in a song, he rapped

“Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist, Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say sh*t, That’s why I ain’t vote for him, Next one either, I’m part of the problem, My problem is I’m peaceful”

Good for Lupe.

Signed,

A rationalist progressive who at one time believed in Obama.

PS: Every President leaves a legacy in their wake. Alongside being the first Black President and converting what were previously extreme right wing “War on Terror” policies into bipartisan Washington standard operating procedures,  I predict that Obama will be remembered as the President who turned more than half of a generation of Americans into lifelong political cynics. Congratulations..

Society is handcuffed in the Prisoner’s Dilemma: How fear, distrust and a lack of organization continually does us in

From Wikipedia:

The prisoner’s dilemma is a canonical example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. Continue reading

What issue do you wish you cared more about?

There are a lot of important moral/political/pragmatic issues. Far too many for one person to even be aware of, let alone be informed on and/or personally active in addressing.

I believe that you cannot choose your interests or your passions. You can decide to try to get into something -e.g., by talking to people who are interested in the issue, watching a documentary, etc. But ultimately, whether you come to care or not will not be the result of a conscious choice to care.

Of all the issues that I recognize as being very important but have never been significantly impassioned about – a vast collection that includes such heavyweights as climate change, Syria, Darfur, etc. – the domain that I most wish that I could choose to be passionate about is the politics of where I live.

I am Canadian but, despite a few attempts, I’ve never managed to get engrossed or active in Canadian politics. Nor have I ever taken even a fleeting interest in the politics of my city or province.  Meanwhile, I’m tremendously interested in US politics…

Is there a cause or issue that you wish that you were actively passionate about?

 

Tell me in the comment section!

Massive Republican Revival On Horizon?

Please indulge a bit of educated speculation.

Throughout President Obama’s first term many economists have predicted another major economic crisis as big or bigger than 2008 in the not-too-distant future. Proposed contributing factors include the massive debt held be several European countries and toothless financial reform in America. Regarding the latter, long story short, investment banks are still allowed to engage in pretty well the same highly risky trades as they were before the crash. These risky trades offer the potential for large profits and large – even devastating – losses. When the trades work out, the profits are entirely privatized – going to investment firm executives and professionals and to investors. But when the trades flop, the losses can be so massive and diffuse as to threaten broad swaths of the greater economy. As a result, the investment firm may end up receiving a government bail out so as to stave off a broader collapse. So while profits are entirely privatized, risks and losses may be significantly socialized.

It should be no surprise that a President – and indeed an entire political system – that is disproportionately funded by Wall Street donors, continues to allow institutional investors to do what they want – take big risks where, if they win, they win big, and if they lose, they don’t really lose that much, but everyone else does. Meanwhile, as this has been happening, what have the Republicans been doing and saying? They’ve been painting Obama as a radical liberal Democrat (notwithstanding the fact that his policies have been largely un-progressive, very corporate-friendly, and much more inline with Republican platforms than liberal Democratic values). What’s more, no matter how much Obama has conceded to Republican negotiation demands, filling up his proposals with one Republican provision after another,  they have continued to vote against his initiatives.

As Obama & Co. have advanced corporatist economic policies, Republicans have painted him as a radical leftist. If the economy crashes under his watch, Republicans will blame him and liberal Democratic ideas. Continue reading

I Support Occupy Wall Street Because…..

 

  • I don’t want wealthy, well-connected individuals, corporations and lobbies buying politicians;
  • A large and secure middle class is vital to a democracy; vast wealth inequality creates vast political inequality and exploitation;
  • By reducing the role of corrupting private influences in politics (e.g., big banks, insurance, pharmaceuticals, defense, private prisons), America could possibly lower its taxes while also improving its financial stability, healthcare, education and social security systems, domestic and international security and international reputation.
  • Crony Capitalism is not Capitalism.
  • I want America to be this:

and not this:

– Signed, a Canadian in solidarity with OWS.

Atheists are Differently Religious – and No, Atheism is not the/a Religion

A main focus of this blog is to consider and compare different political and ethical philosophies so as to promote better understanding of one’s own worldview and those of others. I frequently focus on progressivism/liberalism and libertarian conservativism, arguing that these incompletely overlapping moral/political philosophies each have their own internal logic and validity, but that when viewed from the perspective of the other, each is libel to look stupid and/or even evil.

Close to a year ago, I posted Atheists are Religious. Here I re-post it with modifications. In this article, I argue that while lack of a belief in this or that God is not itself a religion, any value system that an atheist may hold is ultimately ungrounded in any sort of empiricism. Rather, these and all value systems rely on circular self-validation and assumptions and assertions that are themselves unscientific. As I will argue below, this doesn’t make them wrong or deserving of dismissal; it just means that subscribers cannot claim that their values are rooted in nothing but reason and logic. Reason and logic, in these value systems, are applied based on unempirical values, which can be conceived of as faith claims about an implied moral/existential reality. Continue reading

Mental Health Risks For Political Activists

We’ve heard of mental health risks for trauma victims, models, high-performance athletes, people in the public eye, soldiers, executives, people living in poverty, and many other social demographics. As a political activist who studies and works in healthcare, is currently on a placement in a mental health unit, and has had personal struggles with mental health issues linked to depression, anxiety and emotion regulation, I have come to believe that political activists may represent another identifiable group at elevated risk for a series of  mental health issues. Continue reading

Where do Observant Jews and Conservative Christians get their Morals, Theologically Speaking?

Bill Maher pointed out the irony of American Right Wing Christianity when he said that if Jesus were a Presidential candidate, the Christian Right would NEVER elect him because he’s a long-haired, sandal-wearing liberal hippie Jew. Uncomfortable with the conflicting tasks of reconciling their Christianity with charges to cut social safety net funding to the barest of bones, the honesty-impaired crew over at Conservapedia have taken it upon themselves to literally begin re-writing the Bible, claiming that previous translations have packed it full of liberal spin. Of course, the Conservapedia answer to this alleged problem is not to create a balanced Bible, but to create a Conservative Bible – hence the name of the project, the Conservative Bible Project.

Daniel Florien, ex-Christian turned atheist, recently posted some of the more liberal, socialist New Testament passages on his blog, Unreasonable Faith. Here are a few of them:

44 And all that believed were together, and had all things in common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 2: 44, 45

13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you.
14 You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.

Luke 14:13, 14

If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.

Matthew 19:21

24 You cannot serve both God and Money.

Matthew 6:24.

In addition to these quotes are Jesus’ famous endorsements of forgiveness, compassion and acceptance, rather than grudge-holding, retribution-seeking and judging (e.g., Let he who is without sin cast the first stone; judge not lest ye be judged; turn the other cheek).

When you look at these sorts of quotes, it is perplexing to fathom how Conservative Christians could see themselves in Christ and how they could appreciate let alone revere him. How do they square their widespread antipathy for government assistance programs and homosexuality with these iconic passages? Now, it’s true that the Bible may well be the most cherry-picked, quote-mined text of all time. Given this,

Are there New Testament passages that Conservative Christians can interpret as endorsing their political values?

We’ve all seen Conservative Christians site verses from the Old Testament, perhaps none more so than Leviticus 20:13 (“If a man lies with another man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood is on their own hands.”). Indeed, the more grim, authoritarian theme of the Old Testament appears – to me, at least – to jive far better with modern day American Conservative values of respect for authority, tradition, corporal punishment, capital punishment, and thoroughly retributive justice. The New Testament, judging by mainstream cultural folklore, sounds to be far more liberal, socialist, egalitarian, compassionate, and forgiving. Am I wrong? I’ll admit that I’ve only read parts of the Old Testament and none of the New, so my question is not rhetorical. What exactly is the Right taking from the New Testament?

What About Jewish Moral Theology?

The Old Testament is often viewed as hellishly harsh and unforgiving. If a country today were to use it as a strict policy guide, said country would rightly be considered to be a stunningly cruel, vicious, totalitarian state. Many Christians today, in my limited experience, seem to downplay the moral significance of the Old Testament, pointing to the New Testament as the relevant Christian moral framework. Accepting this, I can’t help but ask:

Where is the warmer, more humane side of Jewish Theology?

For Christianity, it’s the New Testament. The New Testament gives license to Christians to move past authoritarian barbarism toward less judgmental forgiveness and acceptance. Where does that come in within Judaism? Where is the feel good part of Jewish Moral Theology? It’s got to be in there somewhere. Is it burried within the OT, or in a sister scripture? I don’t for a minute buy that people get their morals from scripture. But there are plenty of people who do. So from this perspective,

Where do observant Jews get their morals?

Share your views and knowledge in the Comment section!