August 2008

            IDEAS AND THEIR TENUOUS                                          CONSEQUENCES

                                                 BY    Sy Schechtman


        It has been said that no army has been powerful enough to withstand the force of an idea whose time has come.  To which Joseph Stalin  is  said to have responded contemptuously, “Oh yes?  How many legions does the Pope have?”   And , in this very hypothetical dialogue,  another great villain of the last century,  Mao Tse Tung,  declaimed that   “justice is delivered from the barrel of a rifle”.   And  then there was Joseph Goebbels,  Hitler’s  minister of propgaganda,  who campaigned in print for Nordic, Aryan superiority  and the eugenic,  holy goal of  eliminating  inferior peoples  who were a threat to the purity of these noble people,  the “useless eaters”----Jews, gypsies, and other non heterosexuals and criminals.     Hundreds of millions of people lost their lives as part of the   foul, frightening   dialogue and reasoning  that swept thru the world  accompanying this most lethal last century.

        A  recent book   by  Benjamin Wiker, Ph.D, Ten Books that Screwed Up  the World, and 5 Others That Didn’t Help, deals directly with these noxious ideas causing so much mortal unhappiness—and mortal death and destruction.    Wiker’s  prime candidates for dishonorable indictment include  Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Lenin, Sanger,   Hitler, Freud, Mead, and Kinsey.   Atheists all, and according to Wiker  their prime fallacy is the spiritual degradation this has caused.  “… is man, not the world, that is fallen……There’s something profoundly wrong with us…..some crack or deep taint that is largely incurable  because it is invisible,   a temporal twist that begins in the soul and curls its way outward.  The cracks in the soul become more visible when they are ignored……(and are) most visible when the twisted soul  tries to rid the world of the very idea that each  individual has a soul  accountable to God.   The authors we’ve  examined who have taken a turn at twisting the screw that have screwed up the world all have this in common. They all deny sin.”     

        Niccolo Machiavelli,  whose book, The Prince  (1513),  is still admired and abhorred,   and  was on the night table of that first class atheist and revolutionary,  V.I. Lenin,  who installed successfully  the Communist state in Russia at the cost of multitudes of  millions of obdurate, opposing  people.   An appalling example of the ends justifying the means.   To be sure,  Machiavelli  does not advocate  open duplicity at first approach,  which Lenin carried  to an historic extreme, as did Hitler generations later, in the opposite political  direction.    Machiavelli stressed  a practical  dissembling in outward demeanor,  so that  he should “appear   all mercy, all  faith, all honesty,  all humanity.  all religion.   And nothing is more necessary to appear to have than this last quality.” “Everyone sees who you are--- few touch what you are”.

        Machiavelli  guides  the Prince in realpolitik.  One must be effective to be a successful leader.    A proper blend of realism and idealism at the proper time.  “For man  who wants to make a procession  of good in all regards  must come  to ruin among so many who are not good. Hence it is necessary  to a Prince, if he wants to maintain himself, to learn  to be able not to be good,   and to use this  and not use it according to necessity”.

        Still despairingly true today.    Sincerity  versus duplicity!  The necessary twist of the truth for the ultimate good.   Lyndon Johnson  escalating    the war in Vietnam despite decrying his opponent Goldwater  as the war monger;   Nixon going to Communist China  after his life long campaign of  anti communist vilification.  Hitler dissembling always as he broke treaty  after treaty that this  was his “last demand” for land restitution of the unjust World War I peace treaty.   First there was the Rhineland return,  then Alsace Lorraine,  then the Austro-German Anschlus,  or  actual German hegemony over Austria, then the return to Germany of part of the then existing  state of Czechoslavkia---the Sudetenland—and then the infamous Munich treaty  which ceded this to Germany guaranteeing “peace in our time”.(Or so Neville Chamberlain thought).   Which made hapless Czechoslavkia indefensible and   was indeed Hitler’s last demand before  his Nazi German hordes, already  much enlarged by the “last demand” entreaties,  declared war on an equally hapless   Poland,  which fell in about  three weeks,  as it was already  partially encircled  by Nazi hordes in newly acquired  Czechoslavkia. And thus began World  War II  with the two hitherto violently bitter enemies Nazi Gemany and Soviet Russia   peacefully dividing Poland between themselves.….

        Besides Lenin, Hitler, indeed,  must have had   copy of Machiavelli’s “the Prince”   on his night table.   And this “last demand”  of his finally produced the Western allies  desperate  response of retaliating and  starting the most catastrophic world wide war ever.  

        Several centuries later  Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) powerfully influenced humanity’s thinking not by suave and sophisticated duplicity  but by the siren song of humanities’  innate sensuality.   A born “nature boy”  he strongly advocated the  reversion to Edenic times and profound sweet simplicity of that pure, but  easy life.   “The first person, who having fenced off a plot of ground, took it into his head to say this is mine and people simple enough to  believe him, was the true founder of civil  society.   What crimes, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared by someone who,  uprooting the stakes or filling in the ditch, had shouted  to his fellow-men: beware of listening to this imposter;you are lost if you forget the fruits belong to all and the earth to no one!”      Rousseau’s message was distinctively anti technologic, and the impending industrial revolution that would provide more material wealth for rich and poor and an inevitable inequality in its sharing.

        “All ran to meet their chains thinking   they secured their freedom….Such was…the origin of society and its laws, which gave new fetters to the weak and new forces to the rich, destroyed natural freedom for all time , established forever the law of property and inequality, changed a clever usurpation  into an irrevocable right, and for the profit of a few ambitious men henceforth subjected the whole  human race to work, servitude and misery.” Back to the Garden of Eden,  when Adam the bucolic shepherd and gardener would live happily ever after  with Eve in peaceful male dominance.    Why not? Biblically speaking, she was engineered by God when Adam was in a deep sleep  from one of Adam’s ribs. 

         Many utopian ideas were inspired by the lure of the simple nature state and an uncomplicated  equal sharing   economic  system.   Sex with no lasting emotional entanglements.  And the care of infants not particularly stressed.     The worship of the human body  in its unclad state even unto select nude beaches.  

         As noted above Rousseau bemoaned the inequality created  by property rights growth and individual land owenership and retreated back to nature’s uncomplicated simplicity .    As the industrial revolution progressed and more wealth was created  the Roussean  naturism  ideal was supereceded for many with the Marxist Engels ideal of more equal wealth distribution--- Communism  and socialism.   Not retreating   into an a Garden of Eden paradise but going forward and harnessing  the growing  technologic beast for human needs. And ultimately a workers paradise free of the slavery of capitalistic exploitation, a proletarian production bonanza  for the hitherto oppressed worker.  Hence the rousing Marxist  exhortation  WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!

        Actually an enormous totalitarian bonanza  of oppression and long  term prison for those  who visibly objected and did not understand all the benefits the new workers paradise  offered.

        In more recent times,  modern echoes of these ideas  and the Darwinian survival of the fittest  credo, which we have not elaborated on because of time and space constraints,  have decidedly impinged on our thinking and choices.   Natural Selection, Darwin claimed,  was the way the weak or unfit species failed to survive in the extremely competitive life style of the struggle for existence.    From this it was not far to deduce the applied science of Eugenics,  the selective  breeding, and aborting, of weak or undesirable  offspring, animal or human. (As in Margaret Sanger’s  the Pivot of Civilization, l922)   Hailed most recently in this field  was the  was the much heralded mapping of the human genome.  Celebratory dances of elated molecular biologists were  front page news  as this event was finally accomplished  about ten years ago.   Just around the corner it was thought was the selective elimination of those human genes that controlled disease or character defects.     So far, however,  the hunt for specific gene defects corresponding to apparent genetic negative traits has been fruitless and it is becoming obvious that interaction of several or multiple genetic reactions occur to produce the manifestations of  a disease syndrome  or character trait.   Character  shaping or modeling  or intelligence improvement is not really as simplistic as the simple sum  of one’s genetic make up.    The favorite excuse for homosexual behavior  as a genetic mandate is simply not acceptable.  Loving care most probably still is a vital nourishing factor as is most probably peer influence, as well as the biologic  critical timing of many hormonal and metabolic bodily events.   A crucial, timely  blend of nature and nurture to produce the ultimate sentient human result.

        A most recent addition to the mix of dubious ideas of human motivation is the unsettling Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred Kinsey, published in l948.   This thoroughly documented case study volume of great length  was much more than the usual sleep inducing night time soporific.   Indeed it became a best seller over night.    Several years later his second  book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female  also attracted great interest.   And a good deal of dissent and unhappiness among many expert and lay people.      Perhaps the most controversial  statistic was the claim that about 10% of the population was homosexual.    (Many other experts today insist that the figure is about 3%. )  Most shocking, perhaps, was the claim that  50% of women  before marriage  had had sexual intercourse, and 25% indulged in extra marital sex. And masturbation   was very prevalent; about 90% male and 60% female.    

        The weight of professional criticism was the lack true random sampling.    The use of available volunteers, students and prisoners and selected middle class university employees.    The criticism of the clergy was that sex was viewed with no relation to soul.   Just another animal function.   Bestiality,  and homoerotic sex are also evident in the entire animal spectrum—including homo sapiens--  and all are judged equally  normal since all are evident in nature to some extent.   No good or evil. Procreation and child rearing not blessed,  holy virtues.

        And his personal life, as revealed in subsequent biographies,  was cluttered with all sorts of weird sexual homo erotic and bi sexual events.   To  his detractors  the total Kinsey package seemed to be a  leveling of the field of sexual morality to an uncomfortably  inappropriate  level.    As, of course,  most of the ideas  and events discussed herein seem to stimulate  and sanction.   But this total dour package  can also be therapeutic, too.   Facing reality and our inadequacies can be part of the corrective process.    

        But how do we “do unto others as we would wish them to do unto us” when, as with Hitler and Stalin, and most probably the Jihadists of Islam, they manifestly wish to destroy or completely dominate us?  How does humanity’s twisted soul  again “love Thy neighbor neighbor”?