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April 2002 - February 2009 Archive
Reflections on Religion, Current Events, and Other Subjects

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Tuesday,July 20,2004

Can a pro-life person be opposed to socialized medicine? Seems as though most of them are. Isn't that inconsistent?

posted at 08:47:58 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,July 19,2004

>>However, from my own less than scientific view of it I believe that all genes are selfish in that they try to replicate and strive to persist.<<

Perhaps in a way. However, I think that calling genes "selfish" is a bit anthropomorphic.

>>So a slight embalance is okay with you?<<

I am interested in fairness more than balance. Fairness would include, as I said before, a consideration of needs.

>>I did not think it unfair that some in this city sent theirs to private schools and hired private tutors.<<

I do. Disparities between (some) public and (some) private schools perpetuate classism. Unless the best education is available to everyone who is intellectually qualified, no one should be able to get it.

>>There is actually more work being done on it. There is a professor at Ohio State that has published a list of 16 motivators but they are easy to quibble with as overlapping.<<

A number of people have tried. However, Maslow's approach is a model, not a theory. Also, intuitively, I find it to be problematic.

If one follows his model, then anyone who is extremely poor would be unable to experience either self-actualization or transcendence. What about those in Third World countries?

Is there no "self-actualization" until people are economically secure?

>>As a proponent of an esoteric philosophy, scientificly unproven why would you disqualify others of a similar bent?<<

Marxism is a philosophy, but it does contain testable propositions. Some of those have been refuted. Others, such as the importance of social class (which has more predictability than any other sociological or demographic variable), have been supported.

>>And by the way what motivates you to put up with questioning as you receive from folks like me in a forum like this.<<

You mean aside from being a section leader? ;-) I enjoy discussion. I actually seek out people with whom I disagree for dialogue.

>>Maslow studied for years before promulgating his list of 8 items as well. In fairness if you can dismiss his studies why should I not dismiss yours.<<

You certainly can.

>>No chance. Remove the kinship concern from our species and it ceases to be a social species. Beware what you wish of the Jinn.<<

I never advocated removing "the kinship concern."

>>Perhaps in your esoteric philosophy but not in reality.<<

How, in reality, does the state abandon kinship? I live in a nation state, and I just returned from helping my sister care for my mother (who, without my sister's help, would be in a nursing home).

>>You may have devised a method in your mind about how the state could suppress and oppress me to the point of foregoing all that I have gleaned from my experience in life but I thik you have underestimated the willingness of the population to comply.<<

No, I haven't. Most Americans were just duped by the powers that be with respect to Iraq. Those of us that questioned it from the beginning were constantly attacked as unpatriotic. (That happened to me right on this forum.)

>>The state already has *some* authority over the parent. It would seem you would prefer to increase that authority ....<<

I would like to see the state promote social justice and to eliminate "privilege" with respect to education, medical care, legal aid, etc.

>>They sent people to prison in the 40's for abusing their child.<<

If they caught them. However, more often, the police would try to avoid getting involved in domestic disputes. Mainstream psychoanalysts argued that girls who claimed to be abused were probably victims of an electra complex.

>>Besides there is real evidence emerging that children placed in foster homes to escape abuse do not fair much better.<<

That is often true.

>>Then the child will pattern on the parent and continue to foster the kinship thing well into the future. Do you have a solution to that?<<

I have no objection to kinship relations or to most of the patterns promoted by them. I do object to the "family rights" movement. Anything else would be speculative.

>>You leave me to guess at how you intend to gain this "balance".<<

I am careful to avoid making out-of-context statements. As I see it, the sorts of questions you are asking me can only be answered in their own social context.

Some have wondered why Marx did not carefully specify the precise conditions of socialism and communism, but how could he? He provided a model of social change along with some general objectives. He could do no more.

>>Considerble socializaton occurs in the first 5 years of life and you seem willing to leave that to the parents already socialized to continue kinship socialization.<<

Not leave it to them, no.

posted at 02:16:40 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,July 17,2004

>>Smith's "invisible hand" depends on a pragmatic "selfish gene".<<

Do you mean "selfish gene" literally?

>>I suppose there will be a day out there in the future when a quadriplegic will play professional fooball as the first "3 million dollar man" but on the whole disability is limiting or they would not call it a disability.<<

Fairness doesn't require equivalence.

>>I suppose you have a plan to overcome Maslow's 8 motivating categories for humans?<<

There is no empirical evidence to support his hierarchy of needs. Some therapists and philosophers like it, but it is widely regarded as untestable and mostly ignored by serious researchers.

>>Not nearly sufficient to demonstrate that you have considered the associated problems to any depth.<<

I have been examining these issues for many years.

>>Yes, that would pretty much assure that it is necessary to eliminate that kinship thing from the species.<<

It would certainly further reduce nepotism.

>>Mechanical establishment of pay scales? "I, Robot" or some other computerized calculation process requiring no further input from humans once devised.<<

I am not being Asmovian, though I knew and respected the man.

>>Let's see. Family breaks down at a 50% rate in the population as a whole and at higher rates in some demographics. The economy is cyclical and fails often. Religion is the greatest variable on the planet after the weather. Education is for the most part a division of Government and Government is almost as variable as religion swinging back and forth constantly attempting corrections. Government should be the most formal organization on the planet but I will accept your word for the fact that this falls to Corporations. They are certainly more rigid and less reactive if one considers the numbers of them that have failed and disappeared from the planet of their own inflexibility and poor planning.<<

I never said anything like what you wrote. I was simply defining a word.

>>I once read a text titled "The Sociology of Cities" and do not recall the author(s).<<

I don't know. There are a number of books with that title. It is a common name for urban sociology texts.

>>In your education as a Sociologist I suspect you have also read it or something similar.<<

I used to teach the course. (I also took it as a graduate student.)

>>As I recall cities have been forming since well before recorded hsitory and all have fallen victim to similar maladies due to in migration of the least able (down trodden) in search of some security or sustenance.<<

It depends on how one defines "cities." I generally connect them with civilization (writing and living in cities) which began roughly 10.000 years ago in Mesopotamia, Egypt, etc.

>>If I do not abandon family I support it.<<

The state transcends the family. It does not abandon it.

>>If I support family then I favor it and as a family man I can not imagine abandoning a family member to the point of raising my neighbor above him in my considerations.<<

It depends on whether one's view of the family is closed or open.

>>Why would you believe the state more able than the parent?<<

The point is fairness. I do not necessarily regard the state as "more able than the parent," only that the state should have *some* authority over the parent.

I remember, as a kid, how my next door neighbor (around my age) was regularly beaten by his grandfather (who had custody). He turned into a monster and burned down a supermarket.

I used to hear the beatings, and I would go to my mother asking her to do something. She said, "It is none of our business." Of course, that was the normative way of thinking in the 1960s. One simply did not get involved.

Now, the tide has changed. Some might argue, perhaps with some justification, that the pendulum has gone too far in the other direction. Nonetheless, I suspect that it would be less likely that my neighors grandfather would be permitted to retain custody. He might have even gone to prison.

>>Would the state withdraw the child from the parents care at birth?<<

The only notable person who ever suggested such a thing, as far as I am aware, was Lenin, and he eventually rejected the idea.

>>How about just swapping new born babies between parents without revealing to which parent the child belongs?<<

I am referring to balance. You are arguing against what I said by taking the other side to an absurd extreme.

>>Then do you hope to cause the change by psychological means of reward and punishment? Education?<<

Socialization, yes. I do not believe, unlike Adam Smith, that we are naturally selfish.

>>Ah! A drag on the capitalist motivation that permeates the species.<<

It permeates capitalism, not the species.

>>I know, and in my Lakoffian metaphoric musings you have become a Pragmatist, sure of personal advantage.<<

In sociology, pragamatism is reflected in symbolic interactionism (influenced by Dewey et al.), and I am not much of a symbolic interactionist.

>>More than that if the story about Chalabi being an Iranian agent are true. It means that they not only got the US to attack their enemy but they also managed to withhold important information from us, i.e., the plans for insurgency.<<

That could be. What is becoming clear, if it wasn't previously, is that all the players had their own agendas, and that some of them successfully hid them from each other.

>>I have seen it stated that the Qabbala was written by a group known as the Ikhwan al Safa (Brethren of Sincerity) in Basra, along with the Tarot. This was a Sufi group who set out to write a universal encyclopedia.<<

The Ikhwan al Safa were a quasi-Sufi group. However, like many Sufi groups, their teachings incorporated elements of Neo-Platonism and Ghosticism.

Ikhwan al Safa did produce a philosophical and religious encyclopedia, _Epistles of the Brethren of Purity and Loyal Friends_. It is possible, I imagine, that the encyclopedia incluenced certain Kabbalists.

However, the Ikhwan al Safa could not have actually written the Kabbalah. The Kabbalah is a movement (like Sufism), not a book. There are many works, including the Zohar, which form a part of the Kabbalistic tradition.

That said, Kabbalism, which arose among the Sephardic Jews in medieval Spain, was likely influenced by Tasawwuf (Sufism) and the Spanish Moors who were, of course, Muslims.


Did you hear about the guy who turned the wrong way down a one-way street? He was stopped by a police officer who asked him where he was going. The man said, "Well, I don't know, but I must be late, because everyone else is going home."


>>But the true aspect of any such "meaning" can only be apprehended (especially by other "speakers") outside the subjective dimension of "mind", i.e. in the objective reality of society (i.e. human relationships).<<

I agree.

>>Yet we say them, type them out, write them. IOW, their _function_ in human communication is as real as the function of the phone you use to make a call.<<

IMO, regarding words as real is a type of linguistic reductionism, i.e., reducing meaning to the words used to symbolize it.

>>This would be ideal in a world where everyone was illiterate, blind, deaf and dumb. Communication would have to be carried on telepathetically.<<

No matter how communication is facilitated, the method is only a vehicle.

>>But didn't you have to base it on existing religious concepts?<<

Mostly psychological and parapsychological concepts. I was kind of precocious (in an idiot savant kind of way <grin>).

>>Such is the nature of reality: a state of constant flux.<<

That is what the process philosophers and process theologians believe. Me, I am not sure. However, I would say that reality can be in flux if God wills it to be so.

>>There are and have been cases where entire populations or nations have isolated themselves from the larger reality of the world.<<

Well, that was often the case before modernity.


Bahá'ís (those who follow the Light of God in services to others) are similar to bodhisattvas (those who following the EnLIGHTened One through service to other).


>>Sufism is not a religion, and is not a variety of Islam.<<

That is a complex issue which I doubt will be resolved in this forum. Certainly, there were pre-Islamic influences on certain forms of Sufism (such as Neo-Platonism).

However, there is no evidence that Sufism per se preceeded Muhammad, and, historically, all of the major Sufi sects regarded themselves as Muslims.

"Universal Sufism" (Inayat Khan et al.), which promoted a pre-Islamic origin to Islam originated in the 20th century.

What one can say, with a bit more of a basis, is that there is a certain amount of similarity between Sufism and other mystical traditions - especially Kabbalism which was, like Sufism, influenced by Neo-Platonism

posted at 10:16:58 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Friday,July 16,2004

>>Sounds like "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?" (Which came first? The meaning or the word?)<<

Well, structuralists are, generally speaking, linguistic determinists. My view is linguistic nominalism (that words are not real and have no inherent meaning). It is more or less the opposite position.

>>Such as?<<

Well, when I was a kid, about 11 years old, I started my own so-called religion called Soulology. I wrote a book on it, but I had no followers. It was just me. Sociologically, it was not a religion.

>>Which are written by people as a resource of meanings for the words we use.<<

Yes. And as people agree to attribute new meanings to words, dictionary definitions may change.

>>Sounds like it could potentially result in a form of verbal psychosis.<<

Generally, meanings are shared by populations, not just individual.

>>As far as Buddhism is concerned, the quite ordinary (our behavior as human beings as we go on about our daily lives) is *quite extra-ordinary (sacred, if you will).<<

Yes, I had a girlfriend who was a Buddhist.

>>Which would be this one?<<

You mean one of the branches of Buddhism? They would conform to Durkheim's definition of religion.

>>...which essentially defines the alphabet and not an integrated system expressive of human beliefs.<<

Which is all words are, collections of letters and sounds, until humans impose their meaning on them.

>>Budddhism, among other philosophies, has for nearly 3,000 years been such "an integrated system expressive of human beliefs". What other philosophies would you say conform to religion?<<

Almost all religions, as people generally use that term, would conform to Durkheim's definition. The only exception would be entirely personal belief systems.

>>What else is a "definition" but the "meaning" of the word in question?<<

Definitions come from general or specialized dictionaries. Meanings are in people's minds as they use words to express themselves.

>>In which case, a philosophy of daily life shared by many people throughout the world would constitute a religion.<<

Yes, assuming that it was expressed in behavior and focused on the sacred (something beyond the ordinary).


>>Sounds like a description of the alphabet. <s><<

Yes, which is all any collection of sounds or letters can be until they are combined in a certain way, and people project meanings, from their minds, on those arrangements.

>>And further, people *give meaning to words.<<

Yes, but the meaning remains in the minds of the speakers or writers. In other words, I am arguing against a Platonic (essentialist) approach to linguistic idealism or realism.

>>But words take on the role of *signifiers of pieces and bits of reality, and in this sense are their own special category of "reality".<<

Yes, they are signifiers or, as I might prefer, indicants of meaning. However, I would never want to say that words are real - even to a limited degree.

>>behavior associated with high tech would be things like you and I are doing right now: relying on the internet to communicate.<<

Yes, that is what I meant by praxis.

>>In the case of science, its practice would be methods of research and categorization.<<

Sure, taxonomies and the like. Methodology, of course, is the scientific application of epistemology.

posted at 01:26:59 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Thursday,July 15,2004

Kerry continues to support the Iraqi war, so how is he any different from Bush? The Democrats are simply Republicans with smiles on their faces.

>>Apparently my education is too limited in this area. If Socialism "does not economically penalize people for their differences" then it must follow that there should be no economical difference in the pay of an adjunct professor and a full professor.<<

There are many different socialisms. As I said before, I am a pragmatic (market-oriented) socialist.

>>Of course, I am a capitalist and may not understand the lengths one must go to as a Neo-Marxist to set as a full professor and draw more pay than an adjunct professor on the same faculty and feel justified in doing so.<<

The key is not an equalization of pay but a collectivization of corporate ownership and economic justice.

As far as small companies are concerned, like many market socialists, I have no objection to limited private ownership - as long as there is strict regulation by a community labor board. Collectivization would occur in the event of improprieties.

>>In past posts you have justified the need for the identification of the fellow faculty member as adjunct because they tend to be part time participants and are possessed of other employment.<<


>>That stance seems to recognize that there is a "difference" between the two designations that justifies a lower pay scale for the lower class professor.<<

You appear to be generalizing about the socialisms. I have nowhere said there should be no pay scales.

>>Justifying a lower pay scale for any " "difference" seems to be at odds with "does not economically penalize people for their differences".<<

Justice (not penalizing people) is not the same as equalization. Again, I favor economic justice, not the elimination of differences (including differences in pay).

>>Perhaps you alter the phrase " "does not economically penalize people for their differences" in your mind to -does reward greater effort in the endeavor- when you are personally involved and of a higher class of contributor.<<

I would allow pay scales to be determined by society - perhaps different minimum wages for different professions, white collar occupations, and trades. The variation in salary and wages would also be influenced by "needs factors" (e.g., large vs. small families).

>>I could see that a person who had lived under a capitalist system for their entire life being a bit susceptable to such rationalizations.<<

As a socialist, I oppose the corporatocracy and all unregulated business activities.

>>I probably have mis-understood your intent here but as a member of two demograpic lower classes (ill-educate and hillbilly) in this capitalist system no college would consider employing me at any rate of pay to teach Sociology.<<

That doesn't mean you would not be paid fairly and sufficiently in some other area.

>>However, in a Socialist system that was not class conscious I would be employable as a Sociology Professor at the same pay scale as those better educated in the field due to the fact that Neo-Marxism "does not economically penalize people for their differences".<<

As I said, not penalizing people is not the same as equalization. The key factors are corporate ownership (the workers or, in some cases, the public) and business regulation.

>>Granting you the concept of the potential of living in a capitalist system corrupting one's perceptions toward classism I must report that most Black folks do not consider themselves members of a ghettoe culture even though they do assign some of their fellows to such a class.<<

I never disagreed with you. As I said, in the last 20 years, class has gradually become more important than race. Of course, this is not to say that insitutionalized racism is not a significant problem.

>>Or one could more positively state (as a white person) that 'race as a factor has been reduced to the point that Socialists can more easily point to classism than racist reasons to justify their distrust of capitalism'.<<

Classism has always been a major factor. However, until recently, it was more closely connected with racism than it is presently. The association continues, but not to the same degree.

>>Perspective seems to be paramount here. Blacks in my two discussion groups in town do not subscribe to any marked lowering of racism in society. They still attribute what you prefer to see as classism being full blown racism.<<

The point is that the emergence of the Black middle and professional classes have set much of the African American community against itself, not that institutionalized racism no longer exists.

>>Then none can be chastized for differing understandings of the world as it is known.<<

Words have defintions, not meaning. Only people have meaning. From my perspective, it is important to distinguish revolution from coup d'etat.

>>Nature itself is an oppressor, Mark, and we tend to band together to forefend against its vagaries.<<

As humans, we should do what we can to transcend nature.

>>Do you really believe you can transend kinship as the first bonding of a social species?<<

That is precisely what the state has accomplished. However, I never said that the family was not "the first bonding of a social species."

>>As a Sociologist I believe you may even be aware that the Bushmen of the Kalihari even had social regulation that expanded a feeling of kinship to permit their society to work more evenly.<<

Exogany is not restricted to state societies.

>>That is one absolute that will not likely fall prey to eventual real evidence to the contrary. Even in kinship we find the _me and mine before thee and thine_ syndrome.<<


>>Is that an admission that we are not all motivated by the same altruism gene?<<

Did I ever say that there was an "altruism gene" or that most people are motivated by altruism?

>>In my view we are not all smart enough to be doctors even if we were so motivated.<<


>>That limits the numbers to begin with.<<

Also - personal interests and financial resources.

>>Could you flesh that out for me?<<

IOW, government policies in Canada have discouraged the construction of MRIs.

>>Then it must have been an appeal to the tendency in others to give your argument more currency. If a person or gathering of persons are better at a thing than all otehrs then they are in a "Class" by themselves. Classism is a sneaky little thing that slips out of anyone classified as human.<<

Class is not the same as classism.


>>Which brings up the obvious question:

What exactly _is_ "religion"?<<

Religion is a collection of letters or sounds which can be used to designate what one chooses.

I prefer sociologist Emile Durkheim's definition: a collection of beliefs and praxes (practices), focused on the sacred (the extraordinary), which unites people into a moral community (a community which shares social norms and values).

>>These days it seems almost anything can "conform to various definitions of the word".<<

Well, words have definitions. Only people, not words, have meaning. People can only ascribe or project meaning from their minds on words. (In other words, words are not real.)

>>Science immediately comes to mind. The phenomena of people placing "faith" in money, high tech, even WMD's may fall into the category of praxis.<<

I would just call that faith. Praxis, would be the associated behavior.


>>The Vedas do not speak of Avatars, it is the puranic tradition which came much later, and changed Vishnu, a pretty minor deity in the Vedic pantheon, into the greatest deity in the world.<<

I was using "Vedas" in the general sense. However, I accept your specification.

>>I am deeply uncomfortable with this entire avatar concept. Really and truly, each one of us is endowed with enormous divine energy. We should not be looking out for avatars to enlighten us.<<

Nonetheless, it is a part of certain Indian traditions.

>>Regarding exegesis vs. eisegesis, seems to me that is semantics; one person's eisegesis, once published in a book or a journal, then becomes an exegesis. <s><<

Not as I am using the terms. Exegesis would require some competence in the original languages and a familiarity with the formal methods of hermeneutic theory or philosophy.

Eisegeis, on the other hand, assumes no linguistic proficiency. Eisegetes often claim to receive their textual understandings through supernatural means.

For instance, many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians argue that one cannot really understand the Bible unless one is guided by the Holy Spirit. A knowledge of Hebrew, Greek, etc. is not regarded as essential (especially with the King James only folks). That is also eisegesis.

>>Mark, each religion with its myth, has a very special meaning, implication and interpretation.<<

My point exactly. One cannot discuss eisegetical textual interpretations outside the particularistic context of that religious tradition, sect, denomination, etc.

>>It takes away from the uniqueness of that myth to artificially superimpose it on another myth.<<

I do not agree - as long as one is clear where the interpretation originates from.

The books of the New Testament interpret certain Tanakhian stories (which certain Jews find objectionable). Likewise, the Qur'an changes certain stories from both the Tanakh and the New Testament.

It is inevitable that certain founders of religions, and some of their members, will attempt to place other religious texts and teachings into the context of their own beliefs.

>>I've been reading and also watching lots of videos of the work of the great mythologist Joseph Campbell.<<

Campbell is interesting, yes. However, I do not find his Jungian approach to be particularly useful. Well, I am not a Jungian (or a Platonist) and I suspect that archetypes or ideal forms are really creations of a person's imagination.

>>Outstanding, most enlightening work. He truly was a guru. All religion is based on myth.<<

Well, mythopoeia is story-telling, and certainly the world's major religions have mythic components.

>>All of it. Including Islam which is said to be a direct dictation from God to Muhammad. That, while not myth in the usual sense, is also just inspired literary creation attributed to dictation by God.<<

IMO, the Qur'an is mythopoeic as well. I do not accept the common Islamic view that the Qur'an, or any scripture, is an infallible or perfect text. Religious literature is, at best, spiritual contextualization.

>>THe Vedas are said to be dictated by God, heard (called Shruthi) and memorized. Their purport is entirely different from Islam. They are all inspired literary/spiritual work. Ultimately, there never has been one single word that "God said." Its all inspired writing and verse.<<

I agree.


>>How about from a Neo-Marxist stand point. Especially one who undoubtedly holds himslef above the adjunct professors and certainly above the students he teaches? Even a hyper-aware Neo-Marxist can not avoid knowing he is more educated in some fields than any he comes into contact with.<<

I do not know where you have gotten this stuff. Certainly, it has not come from my postings.

Economic justice does not require the elimination of difference and individuality. It is capitalism which encourages conformity. Socialism celebrates individuality and does not economically penalize people for their differences.

>>Ill-educated hillbillies for instance.<<

The solution is class consciousness, not a conformity to some bourgeois ideal.

>>Neither could the Neo-Marxist ignore the difference in class between himself and the ghettoe culture of a black neighborhood.<<

Again, socialism celebrates differences. The concept of a "color blind society," to which your comments appear to allude, is a right-wing euphemism for the elimination of affirmative action.

>>... and is as likely to snipe at them as he is at the "White Power Structure."<<

Sure, because in the last 20 years or so class has become a more divisive factor in the U.S. than race.

>>Read "What's Going On" by Nathan McCall<<

Okay, I just ordered a used copy through Amazon. (Apparently, it is out of print.)

>>Very narrow and almost sure to permit denial of a revolution ever having occurred.<<

I would agree that an anti-capitalist revolution, in Marxian terms, has not occurred. Other people are free to define the term differently.

>>Short of complete anarchy someone is always oppressed by government and even in anarchy the strong man will dictate to the weak man.<<

The process of eliminating oppression would require that no one dictates to anyone.

>>More oppression.<<

Well, a hypothetical, either yours or mine, is not evidence.

>>And here I thought we were looking for your view of revolution.<<

Unclear what you are saying here. I gave you my view of revolution. As I said, it is broader than Marx's. (I would include race and gender liberation, for instance, as well.)

>>The black barber is sure the White Power structure is holding him down.<<

It is more complex than that. However, the white power structure may play a role.

>>But you did not approve of him attempting to hold all the provinces of his Yugoslavia together.<<

Tito did not have the power to do otherwise. He was, to that extent, under the thumb of the Soviet Union.

>>Had you lived in that region and expressed that mis-giving publicly and long enough you probably would have been oppressed and suppressed.<<

I have no idea.

>>So forming alliances to assure security for your family is not fair play? No two clans on the savannahs should ever have aligned against a third because it was not fair? I did read once that "Life is not fair".<<

One of the functions of the state is to transcend kinship as a primary mode of governance. As to life not being fair, that is a given, but we can and should attempt to make it better.

>>That is the path he chooses to generate the additve effect he would require to execute his vision of the future and a smooth path to anarchy.<<

Yes, but anarchy is a form of communism.

>>Suffer it! All will suffer equally. Resources are limited and will never be shared equally.<<

Never is a long time. I wouldn't be so sure.

>>I'm almost positive that there will eventually be a failure of the US. No other nation has persisted indefinitely. I suggest that we will eventually become more like a Central American country with alternate dictators and strong men running the place.<<

Well, King George is already in office.

>>Too few doctors? Do you suppose that the Canadians are too limited in intellect to become doctors or just not interested in serving others for a common wage?<<

There are too few physicians in the U.S., too, especially in rural areas. Medicine is really not a very attractive field (unless you are really committed to helping people in that way).

>>Industrialists to inept to build more MRI machines?<<

Just bad social policy.

>>I've noticed your careful nuance in several areas. It does provide a fine cloak of deniability.<<

That is ad hominem, Jim. If you don't think so, please look it up. For the record, I nuance my statement because I am an academic, not in order to provide myself with a "cloak of deniability."

>>Yet you are sure the US can do it better??? That sort of statement borders on classism. Next thing we know you will be a nationalist. You have a bit of a conflict in your position.<<

I am definitely not a nationalist.


You quoted:

>>"For Bahá'ís of Hindu background, Bahá'u'lláh comes as the new incarnation of Krishna, the "Tenth Avatar" and the "Most Great Spirit." He is "the birthless, the deathless," the One who, "when goodness grows weak," returns "in every age" to "establish righteousness" as promised in the Bhagavad-Gita."<<

From a Baha'i perspective, an Avatar or divine Messenger comes in each age. There is, of course, a similar teaching in the Vedas (with respect to Krishna).

>>For Hindus, however, Vishnu's Tenth Avatar Kalki comes at the end of this age, Kali Yuga, which is to last another 427,000 years. Kalki has not come yet, because we're still around.<<

My own approach to texts is to consider them from two perspectives:

1. exegesis: what the text itself, perhaps informed by source criticism, actually appears to say

2. eisegesis: the interpretation of a text by a (sometimes purportedly inspired) person.

I look at the Baha'i interpretation of the Kalki Avatar, etc. in the light of eisegesis, and I do not expect it to necessarily agree with various exegeses. IMO, different approaches yield different sorts of information. One may learn from many, perhaps all, of them.

>>If someone believes that Vishnu has incarnated as Baha'ullah, I'd say they kind of got their theologies mixed up...but hmmmm, I guess that's what makes them to be Baha'is for sure...<<

Well, it isn't a question of mixing up theologies. Rather, it is the juxtaposition of different theologies. I always start out with the particularistic assumption that religious traditions, and branches of each of those traditions, will differ in their understandings.

After all, there is, really, no such thing as "religion" except as a convenient shorthand for various phenomena which conform to various definitions of the word. In other words, there is no "religion." There are only differing systems of faith and praxis (*religions*) which we have decided to call "religions."

posted at 04:41:50 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Wednesday,July 14,2004

heresy: from a Greek word signifying (1) a choice, (2) the opinion chosen, and (3) the sect holding the opinion. In the Acts of the Apostles (5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 26:5) it denotes a sect, without reference to its character. Elsewhere, however, in the New Testament it has a different meaning attached to it. Paul ranks "heresies" with crimes and seditions (Gal. 5:20). This word also denotes divisions or schisms in the church (1 Cor. 11:19). In Titus 3:10 a "heretical person" is one who follows his own self-willed "questions," and who is to be avoided. Heresies thus came to signify self-chosen doctrines not emanating from God (2 Pet. 2:1).
-- Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

With the above in mind, heresy may be regarded as encompassing both heteropraxy and heterodoxy. It is valid in the former, not so in the latter.

The Iraqis who are "in charge' are U.S. surrogates. Some, like Karzai in Afghanistan, were CIA operatives.


>>There is control and then there is control.<<

In the sense of social control (control by social norms), I agree with you.

>>Splain how "counter-revolution" differs from revolution?<<

From a Marxist standpoint, counter-revolutonary activity refers to behavior which works against the development of class consciousness among the proletariat and which discourages revolution.

>>A semantic difference perhaps.<<

More than semantic.

>>I do not care if a particular scientist is wrong in his findings but rather asked if a paradigm shift in thought about a subject is a revolution?<<

Sorry, when I think of "paradigm shifts," I immediate associate them with Kuhn. However, in a more general sense, I would say that, in most Western countries, the idea of revolution (in a Marxian sense) has not been in the public consciousness since the late 60s or early 70s.

>>I did not ask what Marx thought. Are you bereft of an opinion and only able to parrot Marx?<<

No, my views, however, are influenced by Marx. I am not a strict, or orthodox, Marxist, but I do understand revolution in a Marxian sense. As I see it, a revolution is an activity which results in the structural liberation of the oppressed.

For instance, I would not consider the liberal feminist movement of the 1970s to be a form of liberation. Rather than challenging the capitalist structure, the liberal feminists merely succeeded at placing women in positions of power within them.

>>Are you aligned with what Marx though or will you in some future piece of this exchange deny holding the same position as Marx on this subject.<<

No, my view of oppression is much broader than Marx's. However, the foundation is still Marxian.

>>How would you set about leading such a revolution?<<

I don't think that a revolution can be led unless there has been a cultivation of class consciousness among the oppressed (where has not happened).

>>And you stll admire Tito for attempting a thing of which you did not approve?<<

I *do* approve of Tito. In fact, Tito's socialism approximates my own view. As I suggested, Tito did his best given existing ethnic tensions.

>>Indigenous is a time sensitive concept. Especially when one culture is expanding in its population and encroaching on the other for its own survival.<<

Sure. However, one population (the Israelis) excluding another (the Palestinians), with the support from the "world's superpower," is certainly not fair play.

>>Chomsky is sure we must first adopt Socialism for a time. Christians await the second coming. And the lion shall lay down with the lamb.<<

Chomsky calls himself an anarchist, but I see him as a democratic socialist.

>>When most Americans favor it they will suffer it.<<

Suffer it? Well, not as long as the pharmaceutical industry has anything to say about it.

>>A depoliticized America portends anarchy. Then who would enact and administer your social medicine system? Or are you expecting a paradigm shift in political thinking?<<

I don't expect socialized medicine or national health insurance in the U.S. until there is a complete financial collapse of the institution (which is coming, IMO).

>>Why the delay in getting in to see a doctor in Canada then?<<

Bad planning and resource allocation. Has nothing to do with national health insurance per se.

>>You will need to demonstrate that the US can do anything better given your current view of their inability to make any rational judgment or plan.<<

I never made such a sweeping generalization. My comments were much more nuanced.

>>How would you suggest they correct that situation?<<

In Canada? Don't know. Although I visit the country on a fairly regular basis, I am not sufficiently familiar with the situation there to comment intelligently on it.


Parables are ways of breaking our association of words with the literal and encouraging the spirituality of materiality, including language


>>Control does not necessarily equate to leadership. A well led group is in control but all controlled people are not well led.<<

Well, you seem to be agreeing with me, more or less. However, I still object to your association of control with good leadership.

>>Were the Black Boycotts of the 60's a revolution?<<

I would call them counter-revolutionary. The U.S. had an opportunity for a genuine revolution back in the 1960s. (I was a part of those efforts.) The song, "We're Gonna have a Revolution" deeply resonated with many people. Unfortunately, most of the leaders and troops seemed to lose their guts in the 1970s.

>>Are paradigm shifts in academic thought about a particular discipline revolutionalry?<<

I strongly disagree with Kuhn's model of paradigm shifts (which, in a subsequent work. he renamed a change exemplars). His philosophy of science is itself based on a flawed example, e.g., that the theory of relativity *replaced* the "normal science" of Newtonian (mechanistic) physics. Any physicist knows that is simply not true.

>>That would be dependent on your particular mental picture of "revolution".<<

Perhaps. However, I don't think that your model applies to biological or social evolutionary changes either.

>>It is one most revolutionaries fully understand. What sort of revolution do you suppose would be required to cause raging Capitalists to adopt Socialism as their mode of thought?<<

According to Marx, the revolution would be a result of the contradictions in capitalism. He *hoped* that violent social and political action would not be necessary.

>>Could such a change be made instantly or would some physical alteration of the population be required?<<

I don't know. There is no complete precedent for it.

>>Each election day for the last 10 years I sit next to the same Serbian lady in a polling place for 12 hours and hear stories of the discontent of the Serbs with Tito and Croats.<<

There is always discontent with government. Nonetheless, as I suggested before, Tito did the best he could with what was placed on his table, and I deeply admire his form of socialism. Yugoslavia should never have been a single country in the first place.

>>And Many in Israel think their Likud leader is a hero. Perception for one is not always reality for a second.<<

That is true, but the Yugoslavs are not preventing an indigenous ethnic population from living there.

>>Mental abstractions almost always get in the way of our exchange it seems. the image of Anarchy to one is Nirvana and to the second is Chaos.<<

I see anarchy as a worthy goal. However, I think that the methods advocated by most anarchists, if practiced, would result in a considerable loss of proletarian blood.

>>And most Americans would not choose to live under Communism regardless of their perceptions of the problems with this nation.<<

True. However, most Americans do favor national health insurance (which is what they have in Canada).

>>And on average the English have worse teeth than Americans even with their socialized medical plan and all that plan could offer Stephen Hawking was a room at a minimum care facility.<<

There are problems with all systems. I think that the U.S., assuming the issue can ever be depoliticized, can do better - learn from the mistakes of other countries and produce a more efficient system.

>>The weathy of England are not limited to health care in that system and one generally finds the better doctors tending to them alone.<<

That is true. I would favor enacting laws which would prevent anyone from doing so.

>>That would indicate that you may not have noticed how many doctors in our hospitals have English as a second language.<<

I was talking about Canadian, not Japanese, physicians leaving for the U.S. It has not been a significant problem (brain drain).

>>Just for the exercise, tell me, would you rather be treated by a doctor in our VA medical system or your own private physicians?<<

My father has received pretty good treatment by the VA system. They recently gave him two hearing aids (he is 85) which actually restored hearing to his left side. He was previously told, by his own physician, that this would be impossible. However, I do not know if my father's experience is typical.

>>Do you suppose I would have been able to shop for the best surgeon in the region to operate on my son's eyes when he was a year and a half old if we had changed to a social medicine method of delivery?<<

As I said, I think that the U.S. could do better. Is it fair that a poor or lower middle class person would not be able to seek out the same physician?

>>How long do you wait to get an appointment with your doctor for a non-life threatening problem? How long would you wait in Canada?<<

That is one of the main problems in Canada - long waits and a lack of equipment (such as MRIs).

posted at 10:18:46 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Tuesday,July 13,2004

>>An attempt alone certainly does not speak of any great leadership.<<

My point is that "great leadership" has nothing to do with controling people.

>>If 30% of a population is able to bring about change and do so through violent revolution then they have subtracted from the number of those opposed by their violence and caused the less than committed to fall in line.<<

How does that relate to revolution?

>>Ergo a minor subtraction leads to a grand addition to their number.<<

Again, I don't think you have demonstrated a connection between your arithmetic formulae and revolution.

>>As youhave so adroitly pointed out society does not react as does a hard number in an equation.<<

Thanks, and yes.

>>I understand that it is two diverse concepts but metaphorically it works as well as your firset mention of the additive factor.<<

IMO, it is a very weak metaphor.

>>He did not hold it together. As I have pointed out many Serbs and Croats fled to this country.<<

The fact that some Serbs and Croats didn't want to get along with each other doesn't support the proposition that he was unsuccessful with those (the vast majority) who remained.

>>He was just a lesser tyrant.<<

IMO, he was a hero, not a lesser tyrant.

>>My two grandmothers owned a small town in the Appalachias. What ammounted to wealth there was poverty here.<<

IC. I lived in Southern Appalachia (Wise, Virginia) for four years.

>>For all intents and purposes it is impossible to eliminate inefficiency.<<

If you want to speak in absolute terms, yes. However, there is no such thing, except as mental abstractions (Weberian ideal types), as pure efficiency or inefficiency.

>>And it would be no better in that regard in a single payer system or any other form of social medicine.<<

Most Canadians, according to surveys, would, whatever the problems with their own system (and there are many), never choose to live under the commoditized health care system of the U.S.

>>Quite likely those who finish at the top of their medical classes today would fine a more profitable endeavor for their intellect and the care provided would be worse.<<

After all expenses are deducted (including malpractice insurance and office expenses), physicians do not, on average, make as much money as is often assumed in either the U.S. or Canada.

>>The migration of the better doctors from other shores would certainly slacken. Higher case loads and more errors<<

That hasn't happened.

>>Being a great leader should endow one with all the means necessary to attract followers or else one is not as great as one might think.<<

Yes, but to return to your earlier equasion of leadership with "control," I would suggest that someone who attempts to control others is not too great a leader.

>>Certainly not as exact a science as math but then few things are. Society is dynamic and not static.<<

Right, which raises questions about your arithmetic view of social change.

>>And that would explain the large population of Serbs and Croats in this city how? Oh, yea, Those opposed to the tyrant vacated the place leaving it to those who were in favor.<<

Only a leader as brilliant as Tito could have successfully held Yugoslavia together. That is not to say that, in the best of possible worlds, Yugoslavia should have been a country in the first place. However, Tito did the best with what he had been given.

>>In the hills of my birth I was a prince of the gentry. A short drive of 425 miles to another state and surround and I fit right in with the poor.<<

Interesting. Can you elaborate?

>>Yes they do and that is part of the reason they put up with the lack of employment. Very unproductive. Keeps the poor, poor.<<

It indicates some inefficiency. However, I would rather see inefficiency than a society which surrenders itself to unrestrained market forces.

>>Social medicine is not free Mark. It, too, has a fee. One small part of that fee can be seen in many American hospitals. You know, those doctors and nurses from other countries with social medicine programs.<<

Price is not the entire issue. American health care providers are too overworked to be effective, or they are so underpaid that there is little incentive to try very hard. Even if fired, they can walk down the street and get the same job somewhere else (and the hospitals know it). I have seen this problem first hand as my mother has suffered at the hands of the medical establishment in, supposedly, one of the best medical centers in the United States.


>>True but irrelevant.<<

My point is that ethnocentrism is not necessarily arrogance (your term).

>>Calling us arrogant is an attempt to cause us to conform to world opinion without the risk of real confrontation.<<

Sometimes. However, personally speaking, I wish that the United States were more responsive to global public opinion (as with the Iraq war). As a world federalist, I do not have warm fuzzies when I think of national sovereignty.

If it were up to me, Bush and his pals would be put before the International War Crimes Tribunal.

>>You place your thoughts at competition with mine in this forum and revel in the competition.<<

The competitions which may be found in some debates has almost nothing in common with the Social Darwinism advocated by economic liberals and neoliberals.

>>One must wonder then why so many of the colonists not in favor of that Revolution left for Canada at the time?<<

My guess would be fear of the unknown. The British were not exactly tyrants.

>>Did you find the French Revolution more benign?<<

Perhaps a bit more revolutionary. However, I would still say it closer to a coup d'etat. Revolutions are not simply changes in leadership. If they do not specifically focus on bringing greater economic equity to the oppressed, I would not call them revolutions. True revolutions are *led* by the oppressed, the Proletariat and Lumpenproletariat.

>>Do they not hope to reduce resistance by subtraction?<<

A degree of subtraction may be the result (especially of women's power). However, the object is structural change, not simply a rerrangement of existing culture traits.

>>Then why identify your frame of mind by invoking the name of one philosopher? Marx?<<

There are many Marxisms. Some orthodox (fundamentalist) Marxists, like fundamentalist Christians, regularly attack each other as revisionists or heretics.

The term "Marxism" is just a convenient shorthand for philosophies which, in some way, are connected to certain of the ideas introduced by Marx.

>>Certainly not in their totality in any single instance. As I said, a good mixture of all philosophical thought is necessary.<<

That is too general. I don't know how to respond. What is "all philosophical thought"?

>>Plato's "Philosopher King" would be the reality.<<

That is about the only aspect of Platonism with which I have any affinity. My view of the dictatorship of the proletariat approximates Plato's philosopher king.

>>Addition by subtraction and the competition of ideas is invoked again. Then rule by tyrant.<<

IMO, that is too simplistic. Meaningful changes produce move that arithmatic. Not all results can be anticipated. However, arithmatic is quite predictable.

>>Our proliferation dictates the need for government.<<

Anarchism does not necessarily mean the elimination of government. It *does* imply the elimination of certain types of governance.

>>I find the word "failing" to be a very subjective term of no real absolute value.<<

That is my point, yes.

>>All societies fail in some regard but are not necessarily a failed society.<<

Again, my point.

>>Some say that the US fails in supporting its poor while we are reported to have the wealthiest poor in the world.<<

The wealthiest poor in the world? What criteria are you using? Are you only comparing the U.S. to Third World nations or also to other Western nations?

Does the fact that the U.S. is the only Western country without some form of national health insurance (single payer system) or socialized medicine figure in?

>>France is reported to be most protective of their poor but lost 15,000 to a heat wave while the rest of the nation went on holiday last year.<<

And the U.S. loses many more poor each year due to inadequate health care.

>>That would pretty well ignore our huge trade defficit.<<

The trade deficit is a chimera. I am talking about American multinationals, some of which may do business offshore, for instance, in order to escape American taxation. It still puts money in the pockets of the American corporate elite.

>>Most here long for tenure and full professorships.<<

Sure, if they don't already have full-time jobs. Most of our sociology adjuncts are not looking for full-time professorships.

(Four out of the five full-time sociology professors where I work, myself included, are full professors. I would like to see us introduce some new blood, but the current economy does not permit it.)

>>Even the emeritus folks here feel the need for a representative to assure more respect from the administration.<<

That we have. A representative of the adjunct faculty attends all of our sociology meetings.

posted at 10:29:18 AM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Monday,July 12,2004

>>As has been pointed out by many in this forum "Americans are arrogant."<<

Well, Americans are, on average, more ethnocentric than those in other societies. However, the U.S. is not alone in that regard (Germany, France, Japan, etc.).

What singles out Americans, and the U.S., for special concern is the extraordinary political power of the country. Not many countries could get away with what the U.S. did (invade a sovereign country on false pretenses) with relative impunity.

>>All societies are conflictive because we are competative and gathered in groups larger than those found on the savannahs in the beginning.<<

Competition is a part of it.

>>The American Revolution certainly was not a movement of the majority. Had it been the war would have been much shorter.<<

Yes, the average American was not sufficiently moved by what some of those in power perceived to be abuses. In that respect, Americans were not that different from Canadians.

>>Nevertheless it was a process of addition and there was subtraction involved.<<

In the American "Revolution," yes. It was really a coup d'etat.

>>I'm sure the Wahabi will consider it "reform" if they are allowed prevail.<<

The Taliban Islamists were staging a right-wing theocratic revolution. In fact, the Taliban consider to exert significant control ourside of Kabal.

>>All Philosophies have an "Ideal" as their reason for existing.<<

At least ideationally.

>>Any single Philosophy imposed as the only Philosophy is taking the Philosophy to its extreme.<<

Well, again, I disagree. Philosophies are arbitrary constructs. Because I call one philosophy by one name and another by another name may have little or no significance. Therefore, combining supposedly different philosophies may be no different than taking a single philosophy (depending on what it is) to an extreme.

>>IMO a good mixture of of all philosophical thought is necessary to a successful society.<<

Depends on what you mean by "all." Not all philosophical ideas may be worthy of consideration.

>>The Russian Revolution was about instituting Marxism as the Ideal system.<<

Revisionist Marxism.

>>I'm sure that you will assure me that the Bolshevics screwed it up but they started off with the right idea.<<

Some of them did.

>>The one anarchist I am aware of here would assure you that anarchy is the only way. Any other form of government is corrupt.<<

Anarchism, esp. under Mikail Bukanin, was really an offshoot of Marxism. The anarchists disagreed with the Marxists about the necessity of the dictatorship of the proletariat.

>>Probably why there are so many of little note.<<

I am not convinced that is the major reason.

>>A society in turmoil is not necessarily a failing society.<<

The term "failing society" is too absolutist - like Oswald Stengler. Failing in what aspects? No society I know of fails in everything.

>>The US has been experiencing one turmoil or another for at least the length of my life and has still prospered.<<

By living off of the backs of the rest of the world.

>>Then grant them a full professorship. Or continue to apply the lable and keep them at arms length ... fairly.<<

First there has to be an opening. In any event, the majority of our adjuncts have no desire to be full-time professors. Most have full-time jobs and teach one or two courses for us at night.

In any event, we treat our adjuncts quite well (including with respect to salary), and internal surveys indicate that most of them are very satisfied.

>>Not if you were possessed of great leadership.<<

Great leadership is influence, not control. Lifton's model of thought reform (brainwashing) has since been rejected by social scientists.

By *claiming* to have pursued Usama aggressively, Bush has also done him a favor. The more the American rhetoric, the better Usama looks to certain Arabs and Muslims.


>>The "I hold myself different" perspective conotes a feeling of superiority in the individual so motivated.<<

Not necessarily. Aren't we each somewhat unique and different? I think you are, without having provided any evidence, conflating assertions of individuality with feelings of superiority.

>>Certainly one would not hold a position he knew to be inferior and profess it to the world.<<

How about if one does so because one identifies with one's profession? In any event, I did not "Dr." myself. As a section leader, my name was set by the forum sysops (who knew I have a Ph.D.). However, in order to avoid appearances of "bragging," I have removed it.

>>Sounds as if your entire department together equates to one Noam Chomsky.<<

Well, we are all, to use the 60s and 70s term, radical sociologists.

>>In my model of it there is no equivalence but rather necessity and a natural distribution of talent required to generate a functional society.<<

I am not sure what a "functional society" would look like. From my observations, most societies are largely dysfunctional and conflictive.

>>Revolutiion amounts to addition by subtraction.<<

That is what I would call reform, not revolution. If one merely subtracts without without transforming the basic structure, one is left with something closer to the so-called American Revolution, which, in the eyes of many American historicans, was more a coup d'etat than a revolution.

>>By the subtraction of those opposed to an idea or concept through violent means we cause the core of the bell curve to add our culture/view of things in concern for their own well being.<<

Again, that sounds more like what I would call reform than revolution.

>>Social concern is laudable but as with all philosophies any taken to the extreme are counter productive.<<

A couple of points:

1. The idea of taking a philosophy to an extreme commits the fallacy of naming. It assumes that names or words have an automatic association with what they are used to designate by a speaker or writer.

2. What is extreme to one person is moderate (or something else) to another. To me, Kerry and Edwards are, like the Clintons, right-wingers. Many conservatives would find that statement laughable.

>>The law of unintended consequence steps in everytime to deminish progress.<<

Not always to diminish it. However, I agree with the basic point.

>>Amost any who think they possess the whole truth in any segment of the populace is prone to the disease. I do not exclude myself.<<

Any academic who believes she or he possesses the whole truth is not going to be very successful.

>>I have found none of any model who denies the need for all types in a properly functioning society.<<

Again, I am not sure what a "properly functioning society" would look like. Who determines what is proper, and for whom?

>>Your own collective department of Marxists and anarchist intelligentsia might well welcome me to your company for the skill I possess while denying me full membership due to a conflicting view of the order of the world not deemed equivalently as studied as your own.<<

Well, many of our adjuncts are not radicals. We are all fair-minded people.

>>The anti-simites are not always so circumspective. Some might even appeal to your brand of dislike to increase their own numbers in opposition to what they really dislike. An additive strategy.<<

What other people do is largely outside of my control.

>>you would like I can post a URL the next time an essay of his is in the paper.<<

Yes, please do.

posted at 02:14:08 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Sunday,July 11,2004

>>Quite frankly it would even appear that you invoke your relationship to it here to generate friction and heat.<<

Not at all. I am just providing information on my perspective. To me, it is no big deal. Four out of the five full-time sociologists in my department (including me) are Marxists. The fifth is an anarchist.

>>My own personaly philosophy finds the "additive model" to be the real answer.<<

The problem with the additive model is that it assumes equivalence (almost as a first principle) without presenting any real evidence. For instance, double and triple jeopardy are additive approaches; they assume that one can combine oppressions in order to determine matters of degree.

>>A practicle impossibility but it would be the answer if it were possible. How does one eliminate the possessive nature of the Capitalist to coexist with a Marxist wanting to share everything if not by an additive process.<<

Revolution is not additive. It is based on the relational differences between social classes, i.e., what many conservatives call class warfare.

>>The Bushmen of the Kalihari were the quinticential Marxists in that they owned nothing and were continually stripped of self pride by their own culture in order to preserve order in their daily interchanges. Their culture fell victim to the additive effects of the impinging Bantu in the 1960's.<<

Well, economically, I am a pragmatic (profit-oriented) market socialist. My Marxism is largely restricted to social theory.

>>I identify myself as an ill-educated hillbilly in this forum (the truth) quite often to lower the temperature of the friction of ideas exchanged. Considering your self proclaimed "Neo-Marxist" leanings and your apparent pride of possession of an advanced degree you would not have managed well in the pure Marxism of the Bushmen.<<

I have a fair degree of class consciousness (the intellegentsia), which is what Marx enjoined on all of us. (Intelligentsia is not a matter of pride or an indication of "intelligence." It is merely descriptive.)

>>They certainly do not deal with it well. The tribal nature of the species splains that and one can even see in Ayn Rands writings fear of a loss of individuality to an additive model.<<

The additive model ignores individuality or particularity. Not sure if it threatens it - unless it is used for social policy making.

>>You can say that given the extant anti-semitism in Europe today?<<

Snti-Zionism is entirely disconnected from anti-Semitism in my mind. However, I recognize that is not true with some others.

>>The first crime was in the "Carving out" and was sure to lead to more crime. The world is complicit. All with the best of intentions you understand.<<

Israel has gone well beyond the intentions of the UN leaders in the 1940s.

I agree with you about a terrorist attack helping Bush. However, it would probably depend on the timing. If the attack takes place this summer, the Democrats might be able to use it to attack Bush and help themselves. But if it happens right before the elections, the Democrats would not have sufficient time to capitalize on it, and the Republicans would likely be helped.

In any event, I think it is good to keep in mind that al-Qa'ida is more a social movement or ideology than an organization.



>>Buber's philosophy of dialogue was spot on but that which holds a group separate from another will always result in friction at some juncture.

The Likud Party could learn a great deal from Buber's neo-Chasidic existentialism (I and Thou).

>>The "Melting Pot" metaphor was supposed to encourage a melding of diverse groups here and seemed successful to me in my youth but the older I get the less effective it has been.

Speaking as a neo-Marxist, the problem with the melting pot metaphor is that it is based on the additive model. I prefer a more relational (structural) model which gives priority to the permutations of relationships between sets of rules and cultures.

>>Relegated to the rubbish now in hope of assuring everyone's right to be different and proud of it.

Well, additive models, ignoring multiplicative elements, do not account for friction.

>>Israel was on of the first mistakes the UN made and probably should not have been carved out of any place.

Perhaps. However, if any nation deserved to make the sacrifice, it was Israel. It would surely have caused problems, but, given that the Ashkenazic and Sepahardic Jews were also Europeans, I would suspect that the tension would have been considerably less.

>>Having said that, do not doubt that I fully support the retention of Israel and remaining their ally.

I would support war crimes charges to be leveled at Israel, the U.S., and Britain. I can't say that I support the Zionist entity.

posted at 12:04:30 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

Saturday,July 10,2004

Problem with universal salvation: It is Platonic - places God's prerogative to choose under limitations. God can save anyone He wants.

posted at 01:55:37 PM by Dr. Mark A. Foster

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