Christiantiy and its Followers

I have always had a very vague opinion on Christianity and its followers, but I have never been able to explain it well enough to my satisfaction.

I will not attempt here.

Instead, I will quote a passage from John Stuart Mill's On Liberty to which my beliefs correspond.

By Christianity I here mean what is accounted such by all churches and sects – the maxims and precepts contained in the New Testament. These are considered sacred, and accepted laws, by all professing Christians. Yet it is scarcely too much to say that not one Christian in a thousand guides or tests his individual conduct by reference to those laws. The standard to which he does refer it, is the custom of his nation, his class, or his religious profession. He has thus, on the one hand, a collection of ethical maxims, which he believes to have been vouchsafed to him by infallible wisdom as rules for his government; and on the other, a set of every-day judgments and practices, which go a certain length with some of those maxims, not so great a length with others, stand in direct opposition to some, and are, on the whole, a compromise between the Christian creed and the interests and suggestions of worldly life. To the first of these standards he gives his homage; to the other his real allegiance. All Christians believe that the blessed are the poor and humble, and those who are ill-used by the world; that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven; that they should judge not, lest they be judged; that they should swear not at all; that they should love their neighbor as themselves; that if one take their cloak, they should give him their coat also; that they should take no thought for the morrow; that if they would be perfect, they should sell all that they have and give it to the poor. They are not insincere when they say that they believe these things. They do believe them, as people believe what they have always heard lauded and never discussed. But in the sense of that living belief which regulates conduct, they believe these doctrines just up to the point to which it is usual to act upon them.

Delay

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Stephan Hawking:

Charlie Rose: Thinking about this universe that you think about, what worries you the most about the future of the universe?

Stephan Hawking: I am not worried about the future of the universe. The universe will continue whatever happens, but the future of the human race and of life on earth is much less certain. We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity...

...If we remain confined to planet Earth, sooner or later we will destroy ourselves. The only long term survival plan that works is to spread out into space. The sooner we start, the better.

Maybe my goal in life shouldn't be to “save the world” anymore, maybe it should be to delay our destruction long enough for us to move to a different planet.

Die NPD Parteiprogramm

The following are selected passages from The National Democratic Party of Germany's political platform, aka. the Neo-Nazi party.


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Wir stehen mit einem lebensrichtigen Menschenbild gegen Fremdherrschaft und Fremdbestimmung, gegen Überfremdung, Ausbeutung und Unterdrückung, für deutsche Freiheit, für Freiheit der Völker, für eine soziale Neuordnung in Deutschland, die unserem Menschenbild entspricht.

We stand with an idea of man against foreign rule, foreign infiltration, exploitation and oppression. We stand for German freedom, the people's freedom, and a new social order in Germany that corresponds with our idea of man.

Volkstum und Kultur sind die Grundlagen für die Würde des Menschen. Deswegen trägt der Staat, dessen Aufgabe der Schutz der Menschenwürde ist, Verantwortung für das Volk.

National traditions and culture are the basis of the dignity of man. Therefore, the state, whose duty is to protect the dignity of man, is responsible for the people.

„Multikulturelle“ Gesellschaften sind in Wirklichkeit kulturlose Gesellschaften.

Multicultural societies are in reality societies without culture.

Deutschland ist das Land der Deutschen und somit die Heimstatt unseres Volkes. Die Erhaltung unseres Volkes und der Schutz für alle seine Teile sind die höchsten Ziele deutscher Politik.Zu diesem Zweck strebt das deutsche Volk Freundschaft und gute Beziehungen zu allen gutwilligen Nationen an, um gemeinsam der Zerstörung der Lebensgrundlagen durch multikulturelle, imperialistische und gleichmacherische Kräfte zu begegnen.

Germany is the land of the Germans and thus, the home of our people. The preservation of our people and the protection of all of its constituents are the highest goals of German politics. For this purpose, the German people aim to have friendships and good relations with all good willing nations in order to confront the destruction of livelihood due to multicultural, imperial and egalitarian forces.

Die kleinste Gemeinschaft innerhalb unseres Volkes ist die Familie.

The smallest society within our people is the family.

Kindergeld als volkspolitische Maßnahme des Staates darf nur an deutsche Familien ausgezahlt werden.

Child benefits, as a national policy of the state, are only given to German families.

Die Tötung ungeborenen Lebens darf nur bei Gefahr der Gesundheit von Mutter und Kind sowie nach Vergewaltigungen erlaubt sein.

Abortions are only allowed when the health of the mother and child is endangered, and in cases of rape.

Der Präsident muß als Staatsoberhaupt über den Parteien und dem politischen Tageskampf stehen. Daher soll er nicht durch die Parteien, sondern unmittelbar durch das Volk gewählt werden.

The president, as the head of state, must stand above both the political parties and the daily political struggles. Therefore, the president should not be chosen by the parties, but rather directly elected by the people.

Die Industrie- und Dienstleistungsverlagerungen aus Deutschland und die Vergabe von Lohnarbeit in sogenannte Billiglohnländer ist moralisch zu ächten und steuerlich zu ahnden.

The outsourcing of industry and services from Germany and the benefits of wage labor in so called low wage countries are morally to be outlawed and financially to be punished.

Jeder Deutsche hat das Recht auf Arbeit. Arbeitsplätze sind zuerst an Deutsche zu vergeben. Männer und Frauen sind im Arbeitsleben unter Berücksichtigung des Leistungsprinzips gleich zu behandeln.

Every German has the right to a job. Jobs are given first to Germans. Men and women in the working life, under the consideration of the performance principle, are treated equally.

Ausländer sind aus dem deutschen Sozialversicherungswesen auszugliedern.

Foreigners are excluded from the German social welfare system.

Die Staatenwelt ordnet sich neu. Im Rahmen dieser Neuordnung muß Deutschland - in Übereinstimmung mit dem Völkerrecht und dem Abkommen von Helsinki – eine friedliche Politik zur Wiedervereinigung innerhalb seiner geschichtlich gewachsenen Grenzen betreiben.

The world of nations is rearranging itself. Under this reorganization, Germany must – in accordance with international law and the Helsinki Agreement – pursue reunification within its historical borders through peaceful politics.

Deutsche Landschaften sind Kulturlandschaften. Deshalb kann Umweltschutz grundsätzlich nicht getrennt von der kulturellen Entwicklung gesehen werden.

German landscapes are the landscapes of the culture. Therefore, the protection of the environment fundamentally cannot be seen as separate from the development of the culture.

Zum Schutz der Natur gehört auch der Schutz des Tieres und der Erhalt der Artenvielfalt in der Tier- und Pflanzenwelt. Zuwiderhandlungen sind strafrechtlich zu ahnden.

The protection of animals and the preservation of biodiversity are included under the protection of the environment. Violators will be criminally prosecuted.

Alle gentechnisch veränderten Waren müssen in Deutschland der Kennzeichnungspflicht unterliegen.

All genetically modified goods in Germany must be labeled as such.

Die NPD setzt sich fuer die nachfolgenden ein:

Abschiebung krimineller Ausländer. Die Feststellung, daß im Heimatland eines Asylbewerbers strengere Strafen als in Deutschland gelten, darf der Abschiebung nicht grundsätzlich im Wege stehen.

Wiedereinführung der Todesstrafe in besonders schweren Fällen bei wiederholtem Sexual-, Kindes-, Raub- und Massenmord und bei schwersten Fällen des Drogenhandels.

The NPD advocates the following:

The deportation of foreign criminals. The fact that the home country of a foreign criminal has harsher punishments than Germany should not in principle stand in the way of his deportation.

The reintroduction of the death penalty in extreme cases of repeated sexual and child abuse, rape, mass murder, and drug trafficking.

Verstärkter Umwelt- und Tierschutz durch härtere Maßnahmen gegen Umweltsünder vor allem in der Großindustrie und Tierquäler sowie die Einführung einer wirksam arbeitenden Umweltpolizei.

Increased environmental and animal protection through harder measures against violators especially in big industries. Also, the introduction of an effective environmental police.

Die Versorgung von Kriegsteilnehmern und deren Angehörigen ist eine Ehrenpflicht des deutschen Staates.

The supply of soldiers is an obligation of honor of the German state.

Criticism of On Liberty

The following is an excerpt from On Liberty by John Stuart Mill.

Those who are still in a state to require being taken care of by others, must be protected against their own actions as well as against external injury. For the same reason, we may leave out of consideration those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage. The early difficulties in the way of spontaneous progress are so great, that there is seldom any choice of means for overcoming them; and a ruler full of the spirit of improvement is warranted in the use of any expedients that will attain an end, perhaps otherwise unattainable.Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end.

Mill clearly expresses in this passage that liberty only applies to some, and he later mentions that that “some” is determined by their capability “of being improved by free and equal discussion." "Until then,” he states, ”there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one.”

The purpose of this short composition is to reveal a danger of the cited passage. The specific sentence that shall be focused on is the one in bold.

Even though Mill is a man of morality, his belief of despotism for barbarians merits both caution and restraint. The danger of his belief lies not in the falsity of its logic, but in the probability of its misuse. His belief in its foundation can be criticized in that there are no such barbarians that he speaks of. However, the benefit of the doubt shall be given to him for now. Let us assume that there are entire races of barbarians which have not yet “attained the capacity of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion.” For these societies, can despotism be “a legitimate mode of government”, “provided the end be their improvement”? The short answer is yes; it makes logical sense.

However, it should be stated again that the danger of his belief lies not in the falsity of its logic, but in the probability of its misuse. It is much more likely that his belief will be used unjustly to colonize other societies, that there will be an egocentric and greedy ruler, and that despots who truly believe themselves to be philosopher kings are, in reality, guilty of self-deception.

Response from Chomsky

Each of us has finite time, resources, energy. Even if we devoted 100% of it to helping the needy, relieving suffering, etc., we'd have to make very painful choices, ignoring a huge amount that ought to be done. And no one can spend anything remotely like 100%, so the choices are harder, but inevitable. There's no general answer possible as to how to make them.

I once drove to a protest demonstration in New Delhi with a woman who really had devoted something like 100% of her time and energy to these endeavors. She had given up a professorship at the university in New Delhi to live in a deeply impoverished village in Rajasthan, living in poverty of a kind we can barely imagine, trying to work mostly on women's issues in a region where the oppression of women is grotesque. In India, even in the richer parts, if your car stops for a traffic light, you're likely to be besieged by utterly miserable people pleading for a coin. I noticed that she sat completely stolid, not even looking out the window, and she advised me to do the same. It's not that her heart is made of stone. Quite the opposite. She knew that she couldn't give a fraction of them anything meaningful, had chosen to devote herself to their misery in different ways, and understood that unless you pretend you do not see, you'll tear yourself to shreds, helping no one. In other circumstances, she would have given everything she had to some beggar.


That doesn't answer your question. Nothing does. You'll just have to decide for yourself, as each of us must, which is the right way for you, of the many we have available to us.


Noam