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. “…..it 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.”
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
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”.
despairingly true today.
Sincerity versus duplicity! The necessary twist of the truth for the
ultimate good. Lyndon Johnson escalating
the war in
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.
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,
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”?