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 Stalinissaid 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”.  Andthen there was Joseph Goebbels,Hitler’sminister of propgaganda,who campaigned in print for Nordic, Aryan superiorityand the eugenic,holy goal ofeliminatinginferior peopleswho 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 reasoningthat swept thru the worldaccompanying this most lethal last century.

       Arecent book   byBenjamin Wiker, Ph.D, Ten Books that Screwed Upthe 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’sprime candidates for dishonorable indictment includeMachiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Marx, Darwin, Nietzsche, Lenin, Sanger,  Hitler, Freud, Mead, and Kinsey.  Atheists all, and according to Wikertheir 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 incurablebecause 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 soultries to rid the world of the very idea that eachindividual has a soulaccountable to God.  The authors we’veexamined 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,andwas on the night table of that first class atheist and revolutionary,V.I. Lenin,who installed successfullythe Communist state in Russia at the cost of multitudes ofmillions of obdurate, opposingpeople.  An appalling example of the ends justifying the means.  To be sure,Machiavellidoes not advocateopen duplicity at first approach,which Lenin carriedto an historic extreme, as did Hitler generations later, in the opposite political direction.    Machiavelli stresseda practical dissembling in outward demeanor,so thathe should “appear  all mercy, allfaith, 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”.

       Machiavelliguidesthe Prince in realpolitik.One must be effective to be a successful leader.    A proper blend of realism and idealism at the proper time.“For manwho wants to make a processionof good in all regardsmust cometo ruin among so many who are not good. Hence it is necessaryto a Prince, if he wants to maintain himself, to learnto be able not to be good,  and to use thisand not use it according to necessity”.

       Still despairingly true today.    Sincerityversus duplicity!The necessary twist of the truth for the ultimate good.  Lyndon Johnsonescalating    the war in Vietnam despite decrying his opponent Goldwateras the war monger;  Nixon going to Communist Chinaafter his life long campaign ofanti communist vilification.Hitler dissembling always as he broke treatyafter treaty that thiswas 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,oractual German hegemony over Austria, then the return to Germany of part of the then existingstate of Czechoslavkia---the Sudetenland—and then the infamous Munich treatywhich 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 beforehis Nazi German hordes, alreadymuch enlarged by the “last demand” entreaties,declared war on an equally hapless  Poland,which fell in aboutthree weeks,as it was alreadypartially encircledby Nazi hordes in newly acquiredCzechoslavkia. And thus began WorldWar IIwith 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 alliesdesperateresponse of retaliating andstarting the most catastrophic world wide war ever.  

       Several centuries laterJean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) powerfully influenced humanity’s thinking not by suave and sophisticated duplicitybut 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, buteasy 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 civilsociety.  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 usurpationinto an irrevocable right, and for the profit of a few ambitious men henceforth subjected the wholehuman race to work, servitude and misery.” Back to the Garden of Eden,when Adam the bucolic shepherd and gardener would live happily ever afterwith Eve in peaceful male dominance.   Why not? Biblically speaking, she was engineered by God when Adam was in a deep sleepfrom one of Adam’s ribs.

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

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

       Actually an enormous totalitarian bonanzaof oppression and longterm prison for thosewho visibly objected and did not understand all the benefits the new workers paradiseoffered.

       In more recent times,modern echoes of these ideasand the Darwinian survival of the fittestcredo, 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 selectivebreeding, and aborting, of weak or undesirableoffspring, animal or human. (As in Margaret Sanger’sthe Pivot of Civilization, l922)Hailed most recently in this fieldwas thewas the much heralded mapping of the human genome.Celebratory dances of elated molecular biologists werefront page newsas this event was finally accomplishedabout 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 ofa disease syndromeor character trait.Charactershaping or modelingor intelligence improvement is not really as simplistic as the simple sumof one’s genetic make up.   The favorite excuse for homosexual behavioras 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 biologiccritical timing of many hormonal and metabolic bodily events.   A crucial, timelyblend 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 lengthwas much more than the usual sleep inducing night time soporific.  Indeed it became a best seller over night.   Several years later his secondbook, Sexual Behavior in the Human Femalealso attracted great interest.  And a good deal of dissent and unhappiness among many expert and lay people.     Perhaps the most controversialstatistic 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 that50% of womenbefore marriagehad 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 equallynormal 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.  Tohis detractorsthe total Kinsey package seemed to be aleveling of the field of sexual morality to an uncomfortablyinappropriatelevel.    As, of course,most of the ideasand events discussed herein seem to stimulateand sanction.  But this total dour packagecan 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 soulagain “love Thy neighbor neighbor”?