So, Obama won pretty big the other day, and overall the Democrats had their day of victory. Now, in my opinion the Democratic party is not very liberal, but they are certainly the better option of the two major parties. I like Obama, think he has been a fairly good president, and realize that having a truly progressive president is not a reality in today’s cultural climate.
We live in a culture which is largely conservative and pragmatic. Even many of the liberal friends and acquaintances I have are pretty moderate, much like Obama is. And of course there are some radically-minded people I know, who argue for socialism, communism, etc, but I only sometimes agree with them. I think our culture needs some radical change, but that change does not have to be political in nature. That is, we don’t have to become a socialist nation, but we need to be more aware aspects of history, philosophy, and psychology which most people are almost completely ignorant of.
What do we need? Well, to name a few things I think are important, I’ll list skepticism first. Skepticism is the methodology which we should be using to determine the truth of some claim. We need science, critical thinking, and a willingness to listen to perspectives from outside your own to grow beyond our narrow views. That is, we need to be aware of things like privilege, biases (whether cognitive or ideological), and tribalism. We need to educate ourselves in pragmatic ways as well as in academic or philosophical ways. Mere pragmatism is not sufficient to offer us a means towards improving our culture, as it takes the most efficient and traditional routes, rather than the best routes. We need our pragmatism tempered by skeptical inquiry into the harms and benefits of that pragmatism.
But how can we do this in the context of such comments as this, from a comment from someone named ‘Doc’ over at a post called “Dresden in DC“:
Being the opportunist that I am, I started the night at a Romney party – because I hoped he would win. But when it became apparent he wouldn’t, I headed over to an Obama party that I knew of, met a sweet young thing who was happy to have turned 18 early enough to vote in this election. I took her home so that I could add to her night of firsts…
I learned long ago – hope for the best, but always take advantage of the situation. So I’ll continue to take advantage of the situation which is this train-wreck.
Over the last 4 years, I’ve moved more and more of my assets overseas – taking advantage of every tax loop-hole this administration created to be sure I paid zero in the US due to “losses” and “expenses” – of course all of my real profits were “elsewhere”… I’ve done quite well, although in the US I’ve been losing money left and right… I will continue this, but now I think I’ll leave the US at some point for good.
It is no longer “my country” since I believe in hard-work, opportunity, and succeeding by your own effort – rather than looting others. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to take advantage of the stupidity of this administration (Government) – so if I can get guarantees that I can go bank-rupt on to hurry the inevitable destruction along, I will – especially if it is beneficial to me. Just like the young lady last night, whom I’ll be seeing this coming weekend to continue enjoying what she can “give me”…
Ugh, that poor woman….
Granted, this is just one comment from a conservative blog, and it is certainly non-representative of conservative ideas, but it’s also a fairly common worldview which stands in the way of progress. And it’s not going anywhere soon, so the culture wars will continue.
The post itself, from which that comment was quoted, was not much better:
The Obama economy, poised to hit the young in urban population centers very hard, might be their Dresden. Make it rain. . .fire.
How lovely. There is a real cultural war out there in American culture (also elsewhere, I know), and those who side with this guy are my enemies.
But there is reason to believe that the future will be an improvement. Younger people lean towards the liberal as well as non-religious end of things, the last election brought in gay marriage, legalization of marijuana (not my thing, really, but it really should be legal), and Arizona has a bisexual atheist representative! (Too bad about Pete Stark though…).
So, yes, we have a lot of work to do yet. But in the free marketplace of ideas, skepticism reigns and progressive social policy wins. I am not afraid of going toe-to-toe with such people as hiddenleaves, pictured above, or his misogynistic cronies.
7 thoughts on “The Culture Wars will continue”
Younger generations are not leaning toward atheism so much as remaining unaffiliated. http://www.pewforum.org/age/religion-among-the-millennials.aspx
There are also inconvenient examples such as religion-free Mao, not exactly a champion of individual rights, and the work of churches in the civil rights movement. Many modern mainline churches, such as the Episcopal Church, share your views on sexuality. Theists aren’t uniformly as hostile to your aims as you may assume.
Well, the atheist community is growing, but my claim is that the “nons” are growing, which is basically the unaffiliated.
Ah, good ol’ Mao, as if atheism=communism. The civil rights was popularized by the churches, due to their ability to get the word out, but much of the early civil rights movement was driven by socialists and other non-religious people.
And yes, there are liberal churches. I’m glad I have those allies, even if their theology is equally silly and conservative churches. I have quite a few theist (even Christian!) friends. We disagree on some things, but get along fine.
I don’t have any socially conservative friends anymore, however. Family, yes, but not friends.
Communism doesn’t equal atheism, but atheism doesn’t preclude humans from doing atrocious things in the name of something else. People rationalize.
The nons and atheists have some overlap, but age and tradition often catch up. It’s the South Park libertarian evolution.
Too bad about the friends. I’m actually quite charming. I have many very liberal friends, some in places like gentrified Brooklyn neighborhoods and San Francisco to get to your earlier assertion about who I know and where. We get along well and have spirited discussions.
“Communism doesn’t equal atheism, but atheism doesn’t preclude humans from doing atrocious things in the name of something else. People rationalize.”
theism does not preclude humans from doing atrocious things either. When it comes to morality, (dis)belief in a god is irrelevant.
And yes, people rationalize, but they also compartmentalize. Many concepts of god involve atrocities (like the Bible and the Koran for example), and yet many good people believe in them. Amazing what the mind can do!
Progress sometimes isn’t, and thus prudence is a political virtue. Perge, sed caute.
Personally, I disagree with supply-side economics as executed: I think it leads to malinvestment and subsequent economic collapse. I am against bailouts for big business, and for college students who’ve over-leveraged themselves with student loans. I don’t want to see my tax dollars used to support illegal immigrants, who depress wages and drive ethnic Balkanization in America.
I may not agree with everything the conservatives have to say, and I’ve voted mostly Democratic. But they have some well-argued points about the sustainability of LBJ’s “Great Society.” Namely, that it isn’t.
“Over the last 4 years, I’ve moved more and more of my assets overseas – taking advantage of every tax loop-hole this administration created to be sure I paid zero in the US due to “losses” and “expenses” – of course all of my real profits were “elsewhere”… I’ve done quite well, although in the US I’ve been losing money left and right… ”
So, a looter.
“It is no longer “my country” since I believe in hard-work, opportunity, and succeeding by your own effort – rather than looting others. ”
And a hypocrite.
Yeah, we’re always going to have trouble with people like this, who are described in behavioral ecology as “cheaters”, or in common terms as “evil”. What’s really weird is that they’ve developed an entire hypocritical belief system under which they think they believe in hard work. Which they don’t. I wonder how the cognitive dissonance is possible.
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