Analogies – analogies are great. They are a powerful teaching tool to which educators, debaters, authors, or anyone attempting to convey a basic message can turn to in an attempt to clarify their speech. Analogies can bridge intellectual jargon and put a complicated idea in layman’s terms. In neuroscience, for example, instead of talking about the intricacies of the brain’s development of neural pathways when one performs a particular activity over and over again, one might describe it as crossing a wheat field using the same path repeatedly. After crossing the wheat field enough times, a path will begin to appear through the wheat field which can then be more easily traversed. That’s how practicing an activity works in our brain: particular neural pathways become more developed the more we harness them.
These days, however, the analogy as an instructive tool is threatened. “That sounds ridiculous,” you say. Well, it does, I agree. But the media, the PC-police, and the university campus environment have declared war on the analogy. Instead of allowing an analogy to convey a basic principle, these insidious, totalitarian anti-analogists now interpret analogies to be synonymous with “comparing” one thing to another. In our example above, a neural pathway thus becomes just like a wheat field. “But that doesn’t make sense,” you say, and you are correct. But these enemies of free speech are not interested in common sense. They care about their agenda.
How does this manifest itself using real examples? Let us take the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), for instance. In an attempt to explain to critics that it should be a Christian baker’s personal right to refuse to cater a gay wedding, he/she might argue: would you force an African-American to cater a KKK rally? Sensible people would be able to discern the basic message here, which is that individuals who operate their own private businesses should not be forced to be complicit in the propagation of a message that they find morally objectionable. The media and the PC-police, however, will simply interpret such a logical and well-reasoned defense as follows: “Christian baker compares LGBT community to the KKK.”
Another example comes from Dr. Ben Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon and lover of analogies. When speaking to the danger of losing our sense of purpose and our patriotic passion as a nation, he contrasted the United States with ISIS. He contended that what makes ISIS dangerous is that they are so passionate about their evil cause that they are willing to die for it. To reinforce his point about the power of passion, patriotism, and a sense of purpose, Carson then referenced our Founding Fathers, who also had that same sort of passion; they, too, were willing to die for what they believed in, and that is why they succeeded in winning their independence. Instead of understanding Carson’s analogy about the importance of a fiery, passionate patriotism and a profound sense of purpose, however, PC-obsessed critics and ignorant haters of analogies simply accused Carson of “favorably comparing ISIS to our Founding Fathers.”
If you treasure the use of analogies as a communicative tool, I implore you: don’t be silenced by the simple-minded PC-crowd that routinely lacks the discernment to recognize the fundamental principle to which an analogy points. Speak loudly and resolutely. Bullying you into silence is what they want; don’t let them win, save the analogy.
The University of Minnesota puts on a “Golden Condom Scavenger Hunt;” Vanderbilt offers sex-ed classes designed to make you a more dynamic lover; Harvard hosts sex-week and anal sex workshops; The University of New Mexico boasts threesome workshops with extensive how-to’s; we’ve also seen the appearance of porn-funded scholarships, and now even the University of Utah is distributing free birth control pills and vasectomies. It is indisputable that America’s universities have become overtly sexualized environments. Some people would take issue with the programs and events mentioned above, but then again, many people would not. Especially on campus, many would consider them completely normal, harmless, even fascinating and exhilarating. Perhaps some would even point to them as manifestations of the irrepressible force of “progress.”
Regardless of what one thinks of the sexualization of the university campus however, it is impossible to deny that this movement has a powerful effect on the campus culture – overt sexuality becomes normalized. More importantly, however, it affects how men view women. When men are constantly receiving messages about how trivial, commonplace, and acceptable unrestrained sexual activity is, when sex is depicted as nothing more than carnal pleasure to be maximized through bondage, anal sex, and threesomes, it has a real, tangible influence on men’s mentalities. This discourse completely severs the intangibles from the physical sexual act – selfless love, affection, and emotional intimacy are no longer part of the equation. Sex becomes purely about the physical, carnal act of pleasure. These messages inadvertently train men to believe that female bodies are merely the source of this sublime carnal pleasure. In essence, women are depicted as objects of sexual pleasure for men. What this also serves to do is to blur the lines between “sex” and “love” to such a degree that people begin to view the two as synonymous. What immediately comes to mind, of course, is the release of Fifty Shades of Grey on Valentine’s Day. This is tragic because of how it confuses young people and conflates love with sex. Like the campus sex workshops, this sends a terribly destructive and misleading message.
At the same time, the notion of a “campus rape culture” has never been more prominent, spurring a host of anti-sexual assault campus movements and official policies that seek to publicly condemn and combat it. All across the country – nowhere more recent or prominent than the President himself in a public address during the Grammys – people are launching campaigns that malign men for objectifying women’s bodies; the “it’s on us” movement has gained a number of prominent spokesmen. But isn’t that precisely what these sex workshops are all about? Promoting sexual adventurism and completely dismissing the idea that sex belongs in a loving, committed relationship, isn’t objectifying bodies in an overtly and exclusively sexual manner exactly what they do?
This begs the question – how do these sex-events relate to sexual violence? How does encouraging men to view women as mere bodies that have the potential to provide them with sexual pleasure influence men’s willingness or likelihood to commit sexual assault? I would argue that just as it is psychologically easier to kill another human being who has been dehumanized (figuratively robbed of his human qualities – think of any example of genocide in history and its accompanying propaganda campaign), it is much easier to commit sexual assault against a woman whose primary attribute has become, in the eyes of her attacker, her sexual potential. One recent study claims that male college students have a “distorted understanding of rape;” in the survey, a frighteningly substantial minority believed that “forcing a woman to have sexual intercourse” and ”raping a woman” were two different things. With the mixed messages these young, endlessly impressionable, and still developing brains are simultaneously receiving from these sexualization and anti-sexual assault campaigns, should that come as a surprise?
What is most ironic – and hypocritical – about this all is that those people who are advocating these sex workshops and pretending like sex is a trivial matter – generally sexually liberal progressives – are often the same people who are most vocal about maligning men and the oft-cited culture of rape on university campuses. Do people not recognize the fundamental conflict in what they are doing here? When we trivialize the seriousness of sex by hosting anal, threesome, and sexual creativity events in a glamorizing fashion, we are sending the message that sex is impersonal and that we can freely detach the human elements from the bodies from which we are gaining our sexual pleasure. It is precisely this sort of mentality that contributes to men’s perception of women as mere sexual objects, which in turn is fundamental to the “rape culture” and, ultimately, the crime of sexual assault. If we are genuinely committed to combating sexual assault and the perception of women as sexual objects, we should consider the inadvertent yet powerful and subtle effect these events have on people’s mentalities, psychologies, and perceptions of other human beings.
For anyone reading:
I have joined the crew at the Carolina Review and am now posting to their blog page at CRDaily.com.
I've recently written a new post. Come check it out!
This will be a short post, but I felt compelled to put something out there given the recent events in Paris and reactions to what is deemed religiously motivated violence in general. I've been reading some comments on news articles (primarily on Facebook), and the top comment on each of these posts seems to be something along the lines of, "religion is the scourge of mankind" or "until we get rid of religion, this will never stop."
As a Christian, I find this extremely frustrating. There's no denying that people have committed heinous crimes claiming to act in the name of religion throughout history. This does not mean, however, that religion is fundamentally bad. Quite the contrary, even for you materialists out there, but that's another issue.
It also does not mean that religion is the cause of all of this violence. Such an assumption constitutes a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature. "Religion" is not the reason people fly planes into skyscrapers, blow up train stations, run amok in newspaper magazine headquarters, or commit mass murder in general.
One glance at the twentieth century reveals as much. The Communist regimes of Mao and Stalin that sought to eliminate God from their societies? They murdered around 60 million of their own people. Hitler's Nazi Germany? Let's just say the Holocaust was hardly perpetrated in the name of God.
Faith isn't what causes people to do these things. It is a perversion, misappropriation, or exploitation of an ideology that drives people to commit mass murders such as the above. This ideology does not have to be theistic in nature, as Mao, Stalin, and Hitler demonstrate. It also does not have to be related to faith or religious belief, as it is commonly understood. As long as beliefs, opinions, and ideologies of any kind exist - theistic or secular - in other words, as long as humans continue to think, some people will find ways to abuse these ideas and justify committing terrible crimes in their name.
No, religion is not the problem. Human nature is the problem. And until we collectively understand that, this oversimplified and endless blaming and maligning of vast collectives of people - which only serves to produce more anger, hostility, and hatred - will unfortunately continue.
Yesterday, I was watching Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless debate Cowboys starting running back DeMarco Murray's injury, its impact on the Cowboys playoff aspirations, the extent to which backups Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle can fill his shoes, and the fact that if Muray does not play or is inhibited by his hand injury, much of the pressure rests on Tony Romo's shoulders.
Smith, in his typically smug, Cowboy-hating manner, saw this as a reason to point out how Tony Romo is an "accident waiting to happen" and how this scenario sets up the Dallas Cowboys for failure because they will somehow, someway, but inevitably, find a way to lose. Now, aside from the faulty logic of assuming that any mistake a Cowboy of the Cowboys make inevitably proves his "prediction" of their failure correct, I find it difficult to understand how Smith can continue to cultivate such a pessimistic view of Tony Romo. Even Skip Bayless, who never misses an opportunity to counter Smith and rave about "my Cowboys," openly admits a healthy amount of anxiety at the thought of Murray missing the game and the Cowboys having to rely on Romo to win them the game.
My question is - on what basis? In what reality are these pessimistic assumptions grounded?
To make matters worse, ESPN posted an article on its website today offering the opinions of five NFL "experts" as to who should be the NFL MVP. Among those considered were Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, J.J. Watt, and DeMarco Murray. But what about Tony Romo, just a shade (1 point) behind Aaron Rodgers for the best passer rating in the NFL this season? Nowhere in sight. Without seeking to take anything away from what Murray has accomplished this season, I have to ask: why does most of America not recognize how good Tony Romo really is?
The reason the Cowboys have been even competitive for most of the last eight years has been, more than anyone else, one man: Tony Romo.
But Romo chokes in the fourth quarter! Actually, he leads the NFL in game-winning drives since 2006 with 27.
But he always throws fourth quarter interceptions! Well, so do all QB's from time to time. Fact is, however, that Romo's career 4th quarter passer rating is 102. That's best in NFL history.
But Romo doesn't win games! Well, that depends on how you define "winning games." Unless you think the other 52 players on an NFL roster are irrelevant and that therefore, a QB can only be defined by how many games "he wins:" a good way to measure how valuable a QB is to his team - and how important he is to winning games - is the team's record with vs. without him:
Tony Romo is 83-51 as a starter. That's actually pretty good! Without Romo? The Cowboys are 6-9, including the offensive debacle that was the Arizona game earlier this year.
The reason the Dallas Cowboys have only had limited success as a team with Romo at the helm for the last eight years is because the team itself simply hasn't been all that good. An article from the folks at Bloggingtheboys.com from August of 2014 demonstrated as much. In games in which Romo played "poorly" (defined as a passer rating of 66.7 or less), the Cowboys went 2-12 (though if this season were added, he would be 2-14) for a win percentage of just 14%. The only QB's on the list with a worse record were Ryan Fitzpatrick (2-24), Derek Anderson (1-14), and Matthew Stafford (0-14). Compared to other QB's who have had success with their teams even when they have played poorly: Eli Manning (34.1% of "poor" games won), Peyton Manning (23.3%), Tom Brady (38.1%), Ben Roethlisberger (28.6%). All of those QB's have won Super Bowls. Think there might be something to the idea that it's not necessarily solely because of them that their teams have had success, but also because of the team and coaching staff around them? I'll let you contemplate that.
What may actually be most impressive is the small percentage of games in which Romo plays "poorly:" just 13%. For comparison, Eli Manning clocks in at 29%, Joe Flacco at 24%, and Matthew Stafford at 23%. Upon closer inspection, Romo plays poorly less frequently than widely proclaimed superstar QB's Drew Brees (15%), Ben Roethlisberger (15%), and is just a hair above Peyton Manning (12.6%).
To further illustrate this point, in Tony Romo's 124 games as a starter, the Cowboys have only won seven games in which the offense scored fewer than 20 points. In other words, if Romo's offense doesn't put up points, the Cowboys lose. The team is not good enough to compensate for a poor performance by their QB, very much unlike the Pittsburgh Steeler, NY Giant, and New England Patriot teams that won Super Bowls with their respective QB's.
To return to Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, who both seem to hold this belief that Romo throws an inordinate number of interceptions (much like the rest of America, as a quick "Tony Romo meme" Google search should sufficiently illustrate): for his career, 2.6% of Romo's pass attempts end up in interceptions. That is the exact same as Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, and Steve Young. In fact, only 17 QB's in NFL history have lower INT rates.
So why the Tony Romo pessimism? Why the paranoia? Regardless of how this Cowboys season pans out, it cannot be reasonably justified. To Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith: DeMarco Murray's injury hurts, but it doesn't change the fundamental reality that is the Dallas Cowboys. They will go as Tony Romo goes. In Romo's best 9 games this year, the Cowboys are 9-0. In his worst 4 (only 2 of which were truly poor), they are 1-3. If Romo plays well, the Cowboys have a good chance to beat Indianapolis and Washington in their last two games and win the NFC East. In the rare event that he does not play well, this team is generally not good enough to overcome that - with or without Murray - and the Cowboys will probably be watching the playoffs from their sofas for the fifth straight year. Romo has been one of the best QB's in the NFL this year (2nd in passer rating behind Aaron Rodgers, 3rd in QBR), and he's been very, very good for a number of years now. If it's not meant to be and the Cowboys miss the playoffs, then so be it. But there are few QB's I'd rather have at the helm of this team than Tony Touchdown. And THAT, unlike ESPN's refusal to recognize his MVP candidacy at this point, Skip Bayless' inordinate fear of a Romo-INT, and Stephen A. Smith's conviction that the QB with the third highest career passer rating in NFL history is inordinately mistake-prone, is a rational position.
I missed a teaching opportunity today.
In my class [that I teach], we were talking about the writings of early European explorers around 1500 and their descriptions of the Native Americans they encountered. One student accurately observed that these Europeans considered themselves to be superior to the Natives, physically, mentally, intellectually, spiritually, and culturally. The student added, however, that these European cultures were of course “not better than” the Native American cultures.
And this points to the basic principle of our 21st-century American university mentality: we must be all-accepting, all-embracing, and all-equating when it comes to different cultures (our own exempted).
Underlying that basic principle, however, is a subtle yet extremely powerful assumption: that we cannot at the same time proclaim one culture to be in any way “better” than another culture. Such a belief, we are told, would make us bigoted. To declare that one culture or way of life is “superior” to another would make us racist, xenophobic, closed-minded, intolerant and backward.
My question is: why must we necessarily operate at such extremes? Why is the respecting of other cultures and ways of life mutually exclusive with valuing one more highly than another or proclaiming that one is, indeed, “better” than another? Can I not hypothetically express, without insulting the legacy of these peoples and without indicating that Native Americans today are somehow inherently inferior or no longer deserve to exist, that the European way of life around 1500 was indeed better? Can I not openly exclaim today that the United States of America and the basic societal structure and culture that prevail here (political correctness excepted) are better than, for instance, the Shariah Law that dominates certain Muslim countries – without automatically expressing my hatred for everything associated with Islam?
Of course I can. Those who would have you believe that you have to value all cultures and points of view equally (except…you know the drill) in order for you to not be closed-minded and xenophobic are bullying you into accepting their completely relativistic worldview.
It is possible to be a devout Christian and to still treat people of other religions with dignity and respect. It is possible to be a patriotic American who loves his country and who thinks its history and its culture are better than those of another country while still retaining respect for other countries and their peoples.
Shockingly, it is also possible to vehemently disapprove of facets of another culture, and yet to not be overcome with an irrepressible compulsion to mercilessly eradicate from the planet the entire people who practice this culture. An ideological or philosophical preference or pronouncement of superiority does not necessarily have to be rooted in hatred and hostility.
Yes, of course we should encourage tolerance, respect, mutual understanding, and we should certainly value the expression of different perspectives. In fact, the guiding principle in all interactions is that we should do our best to love our neighbors as ourselves.
But this does not mean that we can’t have sensible positions that prioritize one way of life or system of belief over another because we believe it to be superior based on a given standard of evaluation. We shouldn't be afraid to espouse a particular set of beliefs as superior, as long as we do so fairly, gently, benevolently, and sensibly. We don't have to subscribe to relativism.
If you are having trouble picturing the idea of relativism, imagine thousands of particles (representing different cultures) buzzing indiscriminately and without purpose through space. They are all of equal value, regardless of their shape, size, or content, and they are all similarly bereft of transcendent meaning. The particles that are buzzing through space have no referent and anyone trying to make sense of them all will be utterly confounded.
A philosophy such as this, one that declares all cultures equal and dictates that we cannot assign values to cultures based on moral reasoning, lacks a foundation of principles. It lacks a structure which would help sort the particles and allow us to align them in a particular order.
This leads us back to the mentality described at the beginning of this post: that we must be all-accepting, all-embracing, and all-equating. In other words, it is the notion that we shall have no foundation by which we can differentiate between right [cultures] and wrong [cultures], between good [ways of life] and bad [ways of life].
Without such a foundation to guide us, everything – including what cultures are better – becomes relative. To which worldview you subscribe becomes merely a meaningless matter of personal preference. What you live out in your own life and which culture you prefer can then be ascribed to how you feel. You do what you feel is good. You do what you feel is right. Thus, to quote Ravi Zacharias:
"In some cultures they love their neighbors; in others they eat them, both on the basis of feeling. Do you have any preference?"
Note: Before anyone who has a penchant for misinterpreting the things they read jumps down my throat – I am writing here about the choices we make, the beliefs we hold, the ways of life we cultivate, and the values we assign to those. I am not talking about physical characteristics with which we are born, such as our complexion or the amount of hair we possess. God has made us all in His image, and only in His eyes we do possess true, transcendent, triumphant equality.
“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
John Adams, the second President of the United States, penned these words to a friend in 1814.
If we look at the United States today, should we be worried about impending doom, as John Adams foretold in 1814? Amidst the seemingly daily discovery of government corruption, the unprecedented extent of government interference in the freedom of the press, accusations of fraud in the democratic process, and the ever-growing reach and power of the federal government – could we be witnessing the demise of our beloved democratic republic?
In 1887, the Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh wrote about the nature of democracies:
"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."
Confronted with this prospect, I feel compelled to return to our Founding Fathers and examine the vision they had for the United States of America.
Benjamin Franklin: "Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters."
Samuel Adams: "Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt."
Richard Henry Lee: “It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people.”
John Adams: “I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading?"
Thomas Jefferson: “I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.”
Put more eloquently and in more detail, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
"Whereas it appears that however certain forms of government are better calculated than others to protect individuals in the free exercise of their natural rights, and are at the same time themselves better guarded against degeneracy, yet experience has shown, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibits, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes."
When Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French thinker of the early nineteenth century, visited the United States, he wrote:
“It cannot be doubted that, in the United States, the instruction of the people powerfully contributes to the support of a democratic republic; and such must always be the case, I believe, where instruction which awakens the understanding is not separated from moral education which amends the heart.”
What are the Founding Fathers and Tocqueville telling us? Their statements revolve around two principles: the importance of a virtuous people and the importance of an educated people. Without these, democracy as developed by our ancestors and as we know it today cannot exist.
But how is this relevant today?
Well, while this may be surprising to some, Studies and a shocking variety of anecdotal evidence indicate that the American people – particularly teenagers and young adults – are very poorly educated when it comes to the fundamentals of American history and the basic processes and characteristics of our governmental system and founding document, the Constitution. Take these for example:
Given the statements of our Founders quoted above and the common sensical reality that a population that has the freedom to choose its own leaders should be well educated, the historical illiteracy of our people should be unsettling. Popular culture has hijacked our minds, convincing us that “keeping up with the Kardashians” and knowing to whom Brad Pitt is married, who is on the latest edition of Dancing with the Stars, and what is the latest drama on the Jersey Shore (okay, that one is a little outdated, but so is my familiarity with popular culture) are more important than knowing truly important things such as the basic tenets of the two parties that dominate our political system or the long-term significance of our $17 trillion dollar national debt. If we continue to prioritize popular culture and neglect American history, government, politics, and contemporary international issues, we will become a people wholly unfit for the system our Founders created.
So what about the second part of the quotes I listed above? What about virtue? This indicates another problem I would like to highlight. Our public school system has abdicated its responsibility to provide its people with a civic education. Instead of teaching our kids to cultivate manners and respect, we grant them ever more individual freedoms and privileges at younger and younger ages for which they are not ready. Instead of instilling in them a sense of gratitude and humility, we present to them a growing list of “entitlements.” Instead of offering our kids a vision, ideals for which they can strive and role models they can try to emulate, we teach them that there is no “right” or “wrong” way and abandon them to their youthfully impetuous whims. Instead of emphasizing to them the importance of performing our civic duties and being productive citizens of a democratic society, we tell them that they are powerless victims of an oppressive system. Instead of revealing to our kids what a great fortune and a blessing it is to live in these United States of America, we increasingly tell them merely how incomparably horrifying and disgraceful our past is and how ashamed we should be of it.
While the cultural currents that have led to this pedagogical and cultural decay are infinitely complicated and multifaceted, there is one unifying thread to it all: the exclusion of God from public life. We have taken Him out of our education curricula, banished Him from the public sphere, and locked Him away in the churches across our nation, as if to say: “in there you can stay, God, but don’t you dare show your ugly head outside of those church doors!” As a result, we have lost our moral compass; we have lost our vision; we have lost our sense of what is good and what is not. In God’s place, we have erected a culture of self-worship that exalts a relativism that can only lead to confusion, emptiness, and self-destruction.
But more on that another time…the point is, to return to the beginning of this post: we are rapidly transforming into a people wholly unfit for the system our founding document set up for us. Uneducated, uninformed, uninterested, devoid of a solid moral conscience, and cultivating the wrong priorities – we are becoming unfit for the privilege of choosing our leaders and holding them accountable. We are becoming unsuitable for a democratic system, and as we continue traveling down this dark and ominous road that is littered with frightening historical precedents, we may yet, as Benjamin Franklin said, “have more need of masters” than individual liberty.
 I don’t deem it necessary to provide links for this accusation. Whatever your political leanings, hopefully it is sufficiently clear to you that whether it is the Center for Disease Control spreading misinformation, the IRS targeting specific people, the Department of Justice and its wealth of scandals, Republican or Democratic officials, or the White House itself – our government is rife with corruption.
 http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/02/the-united-states-just-finished-46th-in-a-press-freedom-contest/283798/; http://nypost.com/2014/10/27/ex-cbs-reporter-government-related-entity-bugged-my-computer/; http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/10/27/usa-todays-susan-page-obama-administration-most-dangerous-to-media-in-history/
 http://www.nationalreview.com/article/391474/non-citizens-are-voting-john-fund; http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/10/29/massive-non-citizen-voting-uncovered-in-maryland/; http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3607682.shtml#.VFcXqvnF-_U; http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/10/28/voting-machine-in-maryland-changes-votes-for-republicans-to-votes-for-democrats-n1910991
 I cross-checked these statements to verify their historical veracity and to ensure that they did not end up on “Snopes” or a website dedicated to quotations falsely attributed to our Founders.
Because I have – for whatever odd reason – encountered so many self-described socialists in academia, I was jotting down some thoughts about why the entire concept of socialism is untenable, illogical, and entirely unreasonable. I’ve come up with three flawed assumptions or neglected truths that cause the ideal that is socialism to collapse upon itself.
Let me know what you think.
1. The reality that man is not inherently good:
Even lacking a religious perspective, a quick glance at the history of mankind should demonstrate quite vividly that human beings are selfish, prideful, and ambitious creatures with a capacity for cruelty that is unrivaled on this Earth (think torture). These selfish impulses, personal egos, and often ruthless ambitions precipitate a willingness to engage in deliberate dishonesty, which forms the backdrop of most of mankind’s evil deeds (consider: almost all of the evils committed human history have been rooted either in selfish ambition or a simple, yet powerful lie).
Further, it is not without reason that we routinely speak of honesty, selflessness, accountability, and compassion as virtues, and that such characteristics are extolled in every major religion - even among secular humanists. That is because these values are inherently good and universally desirable, making them elusive for humans and comparatively scarce in the world.
If man is not inherently good, a utopian Socialist society becomes unattainable, because the traits noted above would prevent the maintenance of a community consisting solely of equals and characterized by universal harmony. Ambitions, pride, envy, and greed would inevitably sow division and discontent, leading to the downfall of the socialist community. Thus, given the inherent flaws of humanity, Socialism remains an idea that is entirely unrealistic.
2. The negligence of unintended consequences and the human variable - human emotions, psychologies, and mentalities:
What many fail to consider is that a Socialist system that continuously redistributes wealth will have an unintended although inevitable impact on the psychologies of those contributing to the system. Contributors will gradually recognize that no matter how hard they work, regardless of how much time and effort they put into their craft, their career, their everyday tasks, they are not rewarded with more freedoms, privileges, or resources. They will discern that no matter their amount of input, the output [to them] will remain the same. Given that most human beings are not sufficiently motivated by the intangible value of personal fulfillment, this realization will act as a disincentive to work to contribute to the Socialist system.
This disincentive will directly manifest itself in a number of ways. It will result in the demotivation of the individual, and considering it is a well established fact that an unmotivated work force is less productive, this will create a problem for the overall Socialist community – particularly if [when] the population as a whole comes to this realization. Concomitant with a lack of motivation, people in the Socialist community will become complacent. They will lack individual assertiveness and shun hard work upon seeing that they are not tangibly rewarded for it anyway. Finally, upon recognizing that their individual input is meaningless, people will lose their sense of accountability and responsibility. Their work becomes trivial, indicating to them that they are not personally responsible for their own (or eventually perhaps, their family’s) well-being.
Ultimately, this means that Socialism produces a population that is not only unmotivated and complacent, but also lacks a sense of accountability and responsibility. This also means that it will produce less wealth, meaning the wealth to be distributed will continually decrease until one reaches a point at which everyone is economically less prosperous than even the poor of a capitalist system.
About the further consequences of such a shift in mentalities, one can only speculate. Ultimately, however, it becomes very clear that a Socialist system creates a degenerate people.
One idealistic counter-argument might be that the community as a whole will recognize the worth of their individual enterprises and will be motivated to work hard for the good of the community. What is inevitable, however – unless you have been living somewhere other than on this Earth and fail to take into account the human psyche– is that a certain segment of the population will either not come to this realization or they will decide that it is preferable to benefit from other people’s hard work while indulging themselves in perpetual laziness. This, in turn, will breed resentment and foster division(s) within the Socialist community, ultimately, once again, breaking the community apart.
3. The failure to realize that in order to create and maintain a socialist community, one has to continuously redistribute wealth, and in order to continuously redistribute wealth, someone will have to do the distributing – someone will have power:
If you have someone who has power in a supposedly socialist community, it is no longer a socialist utopia. Furthermore, even if you can find the most virtuous, honest, just, selfless, and committed individual or group of people who can perform the role of wealth distributor without abusing this power by exploiting the people and thereby creating additional advantages or luxuries for himself/themselves, a generation will pass, and you will once again have to find such individual(s). The chances of finding such perfect (let’s be honest: divine) people even once are, even for the most optimistic, just about nonexistent, but doing so repeatedly, over multiple generations? Only an extreme case of self-delusion would compel anyone to believe that that is possible.
Conversely, one might argue that the community as a whole will do the redistributing. Unfortunately, it is again extremely likely (or inevitable...) that some people in this community will not want to give up their extra wealth and/or resources. What to do with these people? Execute them? That is not only immoral, but tyrannical, and will produce bitterness, division, and, eventually, rebellion, once again (I sense a pattern here) destroying the Socialist community. Exile them? You will end up exiling so many people from the community that these exiled people will form their own communities and very likely either simply a) outperform your Socialist community or b) violently destroy or enslave your Socialist community. Thus, the prospects of long-term survival for such a community, unless it lives in complete and utter isolation (also largely impossible in today’s world) are nonexistent.
Having established the tripartite foolishness of Socialism, we have to offer an alternative. The obvious alternative is capitalism. The problem with extreme and entirely unregulated capitalism, however, is that this system itself depends on the existence of competition between parties. Unrestrained, however, the end result of capitalism is that one group outcompetes the other group(s), resulting in the creation of monopolies. With monopolies, there is no competition, meaning capitalism will have run its course, self-destructed, and created a corporate dictatorship in which the power lies in the hands of the innovative and fortunate few (or one?).
So how do we prevent this from happening? Putting into place a system of regulations that, without strangling businesses or discouraging creative entrepreneurship, prevents the capitalist system from running its full course. A system that continues to foster competition and to encourage individual enterprise. A system that does not oppress large and established businesses and at the same time offers additional incentives to the founding of new ones. Implemented effectively, such a system of regulations would maintain a capitalist system that produces the maximum amount of wealth for the maximum number of people and still maintains the intangible advantage of fostering traits like diligence, accountability, and individual initiative.
The moral of the story? As with so many things on this Earth, the key is – everything (including various forms of public welfare for those in desperate need, but except loving Jesus and loving our neighbors as ourselves) in moderation.
Thanks for stopping by - have a blessed day!
A few days ago, I read about an English slave-trading captain’s voyage to West Africa to the court of the King of Dahomey, an African slave-trading kingdom in the 18th century. There, utterly appalled, the Englishman noticed an 18-month old baby boy chained to a pole. Upon inquiring why this child was being held in this manner, he recounts, “it was to be sacrificed that night to the god Egbo, for his prosperity.”
Sacrificing a child for the prosperity of the one we worship. Does that sound familiar at all?
In our hedonistic age that is driven by self-fulfillment, self-realization, self-advancement, and the unashamed prioritization of individualism, whom do we worship? Take a minute to look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: "whom do I worship?"
For most people, the answer will not be “God.” On the contrary, for many, the honest, self-reflecting, self-aware answer will be “some form of material wealth” or “myself.” Even if it is the former – material wealth – can we not ultimately tie this desire for and worship of material things back to our deep, personal longing to enrich our own lives, our own selves? For whose sake do we desire wealth? In most cases, it is for our own. Why do we want that new pair of sneakers? Why do we so desperately need that new iPhone? Why do we desire a fancy new car? Because we believe that these material things will make us more desirable and bring us pleasure.
Inextricably linked with the pleasure-seeking love of material wealth and the rejection of God is the adulation of the means through which we acquire this wealth: our own talents, our intellectual capacities, our reputations, and our individual achievements. Realizing this, can we then conclude that, in reality, if we are not worshiping God, we are most likely worshiping our own self and all of its attendant parts? I believe that we can and I believe that we are.
Which leads me to my main point.
The overwhelming majority of abortions happen because we decide that a child would be inconvenient, would interfere with our own aspirations, or would be unsustainable at this point in our lives. In short, we decide for abortion because we are concerned, first and foremost, with how a child would detrimentally affect our lives (or we convince ourselves that we are not at a point in our lives where we could offer a child much in the way of material comforts and that therefore, it is better for the child that it is never born in the first place – in this instance of warped moral reasoning, death triumphs over life and opportunity).
This begs the question: are we not opting for abortion in order to enrich our own lives? Are we not sacrificing our own children for our own prosperity?
You see, we in the West tend to think that our sense of morality and our level of civilization are superior to that of past cultures and societies. We subscribe to a notion of inevitable “progress,” and so we believe that whatever is new and “progressive” is moral and good. Plus, after all, peoples as civilized as we are would never engage in something as barbarically evil as sacrificing an innocent child in the name of the individual or public good.
Yet that line of thinking serves to obscure a fundamental and immutable truth: the human capacity for evil. As the English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge said: “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”
Our redefinition of infanticide and child sacrifice as “abortion” or somehow meaning that one is “in favor of women’s reproductive rights” demonstrates the deeply engrained selfishness, deviousness, and callousness of our human nature. This should compel us to question the rationales and the euphemisms we routinely employ to veil and yet justify our own wickedness.
If we do not, like the King of Dahomey, we recklessly rationalize ourselves into hopeless delusion, ultimately convincing ourselves in our self-worship that to kill our own children will bring us prosperity and that it is therefore morally justifiable.
Note: This post is not intended to demean, insult, condemn, or shame anyone. Its goal is to compel the assumption of an alternative perspective and to serve as a reminder that the everyday things we take for granted may not be so self-evident after all.
We have all made mistakes in our lives that would comprise a list too long for any human hand to complete in a lifetime. Fortunately, we serve a merciful God whose grace is inexhaustible and readily available to each and every one of us.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Christopher is a student in the Ph.D. program in History at the University of North Carolina. He enjoys following sports, going to church on Sundays, and discussing contemporary issues in American society.