COMPLETE SEPARATION: A View From The Outside

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Albert Camus draws from his own experience in Algeria and the horrors of WWII to lay the framework for Absurdist philosophy and challenge traditional views on morality. by: Thomas Vastine

In the context of world war, Albert Camus’ The Stranger brings to life a manifestation of the jaded spirit that grew among the population out of a grim reality that offered little in the way of vindication for those who suffered it. The protagonist’s callused nature and cold indifference to those around him symbolizes the mindset of many from that era. The people of Europe had suffered under corrupt regimes which lead to a growing detachment with conventional societal notions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Religion seemed to offer only false hope to many who viewed the brutality of the 20th century as confirmation that the loving God of the Bible could not exist.

Camus’ writings, including The Stranger, would be linked to existentialist philosophy though more specifically he would come to define the absurdist belief system. Though closely related to existentialism and nihilism, absurdism set itself apart by calling the search for meaning and value to be absurd. In the backdrop of WWII, it is not hard to imagine how many would come to accept this viewpoint when searching for reasons why world war had come to devastate their reality. Out of pure frustration and anger, it becomes apparent why one would reject this search as absurd. There is a point in which many a man can no longer hold onto a conception of right and wrong, and a morally relativistic outlook could become a more attractive option. From my own experience, a view such as this was accompanied by some of the darkest periods in my life.

Camus argues that we construct our own meaning and assign our own value to the things in this world which is made apparent by the interaction at the end of the story between Meursault and the priest. When the priest asks why Meursault had not addressed him as father, the response he receives is quite revealing as to the irritation Meursault feels toward this practice. The priest had earlier expressed disbelief in Meursault’s defiant rejection of the soul, or God, and a complete unwillingness to even consider these in the face of his impending execution. The priest proclaims, “I refuse to believe it. I’m sure you’ve often wished there was an afterlife” in what appears to be frustrated desperation. This mirrors the reaction of the magistrate in Meursault’s murder trial in the face of such clinical disregard for the death of his mother and total lack of remorse in the coldblooded murder of the Arab. It says the magistrate was, “absolutely sure” that all men believe in God and that “if ever he came to doubt it, his life would lose all meaning”. These characters symbolize society’s repellent reaction to such blatant contempt toward accepted moral standards; it was unthinkable. Camus later wrote, “Now the only moral value is courage, which is useful here for judging the puppets and chatterboxes who pretend to speak in the name of the people.” (Todd, 2000)

How could Meursault rationalize such apathy toward other people? He saw the “benign indifference of the universe” as a sort of vindication for his own outlook on humanity. He says, “To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still.” Meursault now felt a kinship with the universe because of this revelation. Instead of looking at external forces for abstract meaning, Camus looked inward to his own life experiences as the only true source of gratification. He saw life experience as a gift to be respected. He says, “Every man alive was privileged; there was only one class of men, the privileged class.”

When reading Albert Camus’ The Stranger, it would be easy to dismiss the protagonist, Meursault, as a sociopathic amoral being of subhuman status. In reading Meursault’s trial, it is difficult not to be reminded of the BTK killer’s trial where he displayed a level of detached disregard for his victims not seen before by our American culture. In my opinion, it would be arbitrary to link Meursault with such depravity. One cannot simply dismiss the idea that Meursault was more a product, even a cautionary warning, of the darkest period in human history. Being surrounded by hypocritical power structures and perpetual violence can hollow out even the most faithful man’s soul.

Works Cited:
Todd, O. (2000). Albert Camus: A Life. Boston: Da Capo Press.

Satan’s Seat on Earth

faithinamericablog:

The pagan god Zeus has been conjured during times of great persecution to Christians. This article makes a strong biblically based case that he is in fact satan and his altar is for the devil. Also of note, The only religious icon at the United Nations is a statue of Zeus.

Originally posted on Mystery of the Iniquity:

The Great Alter of Zeus

There is a cryptic reference to satan in Revelation 2:13, which demands our attention…

Jesus had John to pass along one of His prophetic letters to Pergamos (also referred to as Pergamum), in which He says: “I know thy works, and where you dwell, even where satan’s seat is.”

While commending the Christians at Pergamos for their faithfulness in trying times, Jesus plainly states that the Great Alter to Zeus at Pergamos was the “seat” or throne of satan.

It was built in the second-century BC, not as a temple, but as an open-air alter.

Eumenes II, king of Pergamos, was probably the one who built it. He was the person who appointed Antiochus IV Epiphanes as king of the Seleucid Syrian Empire.

Antiochus IV went to Pergamos and worshiped at the Alter of Zeus.

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PIRACY AND EXTORTION IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

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America’s first war was with Islamic Pirates – Why didn’t we learn from Jefferson? – by: BY STEPHEN ROGERSON

For centuries the Muslim pirates had cruised the Mediterranean Sea, capturing ships and taking prisoners, forcing Christian nations to pay tribute for freedom of passage. To avoid such confrontations, some Christian nations were willing to appease the Islamic enemy by signing treaties requiring them to pay a certain amount of tribute each year. It was a form of extortion that Muslims could impose on frightened Christians.

The pirates also raided coastline villages and took prisoners. The reason why so many Christian Greek coastal villages were built up in the hills was to provide protection against the depredations of the Muslims. Millions of Africans and thousands of Christian Europeans and Americans were enslaved by these raiders, who killed many non-Muslim older men and women and kidnapped young women and children to be sold as concubines.

In 1786, Jefferson, then the American ambassador to France, and John Adams, then the American ambassador to Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the Tripolitan ambassador to Britain. American merchant ships had been captured by the Barbary corsairs and their crews and passengers imprisoned. They could only by freed by the payment of large ransoms. The Americans wanted to negotiate a peace treaty to spare their ships these piratical attacks. Congress was willing to appease the Barbary pirates if only they could gain peace at a reasonable price.

During the meeting, Jefferson and Adams asked the ambassador why Muslims held such hostility toward America, a nation with which they had had no previous contacts. Jefferson later reported to John Jay what the ambassador had told them: the reason for the Muslims’ enmity was that “It was written in their Koran that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman (Muslim) who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to [P]aradise.”

What was Paradise like? George Sale, the translator of the English edition of the Quran that Jefferson had purchased, wrote in his commentary:

[T]he very meanest in paradise will have eighty thousand servants, seventy-two wives of the girls of paradise, besides the wives he had in this world, and a tent erected for him of pearls, jacinths, and emeralds, of a very large extent; and, according to another tradition, will be waited on by three hundred attendants while he eats, will be served in dishes of gold, whereof three hundred shall be set before him at once, containing each a different kind of food . . . [T]here will be no want of wine, which, though forbidden in this life, will yet be freely allowed to be drunk in the next, and without danger, since the wine of paradise will not inebriate, as that we drink here. . . . .[T]he inhabitants of paradise will not need to ease themselves, nor even to blow their nose, for that all superfluities will be discharged and carried off by perspiration, or a sweat as odoriferous as musk, after which their appetite shall return afresh.

So Jefferson was well aware of the superstitious lunacy and irrationality that motivated the Muslims willing to die as martyrs for Mohammed. And when he became President, he resolved to repel force by force. Within days of his inauguration, Jefferson ordered four warships to sail to the Barbary Coast and blockade and attack any Barbary State that was at war with the United States. Jefferson and his Cabinet all agreed that American power was needed to protect the young nation’s commercial interests in the Mediterranean.

Joseph Wheelan writes in Jefferson’s War that the third U.S. President “pitted a modern republic with a free-trade, entrepreneurial creed against a medieval autocracy whose credo was piracy and terror. It matched an ostensibly Christian nation against an avowed Islamic one that professed to despise Christians…. Jefferson was willing to send a largely untried squadron across the Atlantic to go to war with a people whose customs, history, and religion were alien to the early American experience.”

The new President did not have a CIA to tell him what the enemy was like. He found that out by reading the Quran he had bought for his own edification. In other words, Jefferson’s copy of the Quran helped him understand the nature and mentality of the Muslim enemy. He was wise enough to do his own research long before the United States government had any intelligence apparatus.

The Barbary War was the first foreign war fought and won by the newly independent United States. After many attempts to appease the duplicitous Barbary Muslims, the U.S. finally decided that force was the only way to put an end to the piracy. And thanks to Jefferson, a new U.S. Navy was created to fight and win this war.

The result was that the United States and the Christian nations of Europe were then able to keep the Muslims at bay for over a hundred years. The French went so far as to invade Algeria and colonize it with Europeans. But in 1960, Charles de Gaulle undid it all — and now there are over five million Muslims in France. Indeed, the loss of Christian nerve has once more opened the gates of the West to a barbaric Muslim offensive.

It’s hard to believe that all this history is unknown to President Obama, who knows full well what is in the Quran and what motivates the global jihadists. He doesn’t need the CIA to tell him what we are up against in this new phase of our never-ending war with Islam, for as long as the religion of Islam exists it will never disobey its Prophet’s command to conquer unbelievers and dominate the world.

THE NATURAL MARKETPLACE: Sublime Design Trumps Central Planning

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Adam Smith uses his influence from the Physiocrats to explain why a limited government and unrestricted free-trade is the path to promoting prosperity for society as a whole: by Thomas Vastine

In An Inquiry into the Value and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith focuses on personal responsibility of the individual, to be a productive member of society, as a key component to promoting the best interests of society at large, or the ‘social good’. He also draws inspiration from the French economic theory, Physiocracy, conceding to a natural order that is superior to any of man’s flawed attempts at interventionism. This faith in the free market is in stark contrast to most philosophical viewpoints that assume there is an artificial system which can ultimately be of increased benefit to the poor and working class.

Smith argues that, “man has almost constant occasion for the help of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their benevolence only.” People need one another to survive, and thrive, and Smith says that it is human nature to, “truck, barter and exchange one thing for another…” It is during these mutually beneficial exchanges that each party, in satisfying their own self-love, is concurrently benefitting the interests of the other. In appealing to people’s self-love, we are far more likely to have success in achieving our goals than if we promoted “our own necessities” as the primary reason for another free individual to enter into an exchange agreement. It seems logical that when you appeal to someone’s interests, you are more likely to get a positive response. Even if it is not the motivation of the other individual to help you satisfy your necessities, the positive end-result remains.

When it comes to the government, Adam Smith is very clear, the less intervention into the market, and our lives, the better. He says, “I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.” The government meddling in the market does not promote the ‘social good’ sufficiently like free individuals appealing to each other’s self-love for “those mutual good offices which we stand in need of”. The division of labor is not the responsibility of central planners in the government but instead a natural consequence of the free market. Private industry is able to provide public service at a smaller cost and more efficiently than government bureaucrats ever could. Under this model, the government would provide national defense, local protections and courts of law.

This natural tendency of the market “encourages every man to apply himself to a particular occupation and to cultivate and bring to perfection whatever talent or genius he may possess”, fostering personal responsibility in the individual. Division of labor is how we enjoy such excellence and diversity in the marketplace. Without it, Smith argues, everyone would be required to have “the same duties to perform, and the same work to do, and there could have been no such difference of employment..[to] give occasion to any great difference of talents”, and the incentive for innovative technology would be null. Division of labor is not ‘created’ to push a certain class of people down, as is often suggested, but a natural product when free individuals create a complex marketplace to satisfy their wants and needs. Any restrictions upon trade would only be an unnatural hindrance toward promoting the social good.

http://www.amazon.com/Wealth-Nations-Adam-Smith/dp/161382081X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1367717015&sr=1-1&keywords=adam+smith+the+wealth+of+nations

PERNICIOUS TACTICS: Subverting Civilized Society

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When political extremism takes center stage, it rarely ends in the desired result: by Thomas Vastine

Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent is a cautionary tale born out of a tumultuous time of social uproar and violent revolution that surrounded Great Britain and threatened to corrupt the moral fabric of society. Sweeping social reforms and the spread of literacy gave birth to a movement called mass politics, that cut like a double edged sword. Increased focus on free speech rights, a free press and reading galvanized the resolve of working class people to demand better working conditions and a voice in the political realm. Unfortunately, Marxist ideology and romanticized revolutionary movements inspired violence and envy among the people, diverting attention from the social manipulators.

Mr. Verloc, an anarchist and subversive, has some revealing interactions with shady characters of low regard. Recently released from prison, Michaelis is having a political rant, “Capitalism has made socialism, and the laws made by capitalism for the protection of property are responsible for anarchism”. The demonization of capitalism and private property is a central theme to Marxism and socialism in its various formations. This kind of ideology is extremely useful to the anarchist looking to destroy every trace of law and order. When the rules are formed to fit the whim of an angry mob, the original motivation behind the movement becomes an inconsequential detail. In modern times, there are groups using similar ideology to stir up resentment and strife among the people, masking their true intention of global anarchy. Disinformation is often used to manipulate the emotions of well meaning people. Michaelis argues, “revolutionary propaganda was a delicate work of high conscience. It was the education of the masters of the world”. Masters of the world could only come through great suffering and death for many people as history has shown.

In the 20th century, the National Socialists in Germany and the communists in the USSR systematically exterminated people that were seen as a burden on society. First it was the mentally ill, then the old, and then whoever they decided would not be sustainable under this radical progressive movement. Darwinism would inspire and promote the perception of racial superiority and be used by social engineers to stamp out poverty, like the surgical sterilizations of the American Eugenics movement. The Professor, speaking to Comrade Ossipon says, “Exterminate, exterminate! That is the only way to progress… First the great multitude of the weak must go, then the relatively strong”. Categorizing humans as ‘the weak’ and ‘the strong’ is an unnatural selection of the Social Darwinists.

Stevie in this story represents the innocence that is threatened by violent actions of political extremism. One could even say that Stevie represents Mr. Verloc as a young boy, still innocent to the evil of the world. When Stevie is killed in the bomb blast that Mr. Verloc helped to plan and execute, this foreshadows Mr. Verloc’s impending demise and eventual death at the hands of his wife Winnie, Stevie’s mother. Mr. Verloc is observing “innocent Stevie, seated very good and quiet at a deal table, drawing circles, circles, innumerable circles” and thinks to himself this represents cosmic chaos. This could also represent the tragic cycle of revolution, war and brutal tyranny that was parading through Europe for a century. As each nation attempted radical change, they seemed doomed to repeat the same vicious cycle of those who came before.

Mr. Verloc’s dedicated and obedient wife, Winnie, faces the worst fate of the story. Upon learning of her son’s death, she is forced to face the horror of her situation. In her radical response, she murders her husband before taking her own life. Conrad seems to be severely punishing Winnie for conforming to the traditional social roles set for women of the time. Her dutiful dedication to her husband and love for her son is rewarded with deception and death that ultimately pushes her to become the most extreme radical of the story, climaxing with her suicide. This raw and gritty saga leaves no romantic notions about life on the isle in the late 19th century.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Secret-Agent-Penguin-Classics/dp/0141441585/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1367776313&sr=1-1

UNIVERSAL FAIRNESS: The Quest For Utopia

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The French, inspired by events in the New World and England, would attempt unprecedented revolutionary change to topple the old regime and install their own republic. As it goes, this bold movement would push too far, too fast and end up suffering under ambitious men drunk with power. by Thomas Vastine

When looking at the French Revolution, the ideas and values appear quite similar to those of America’s foundation. Upon closer inspection, the class warfare and social justice aspect differentiates itself from the colonies’ fight against British tyranny. Liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression are the “natural and inalienable rights of man”, according to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (Declaration). Inspired by John Locke, these fundamental ideas would reshape the way people thought about government.

“Free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man.”

What Is The Third Estate?, gives us insight into ideas that propelled the sans culottes to rise up against a ‘privileged class’, even if not the explicitly stated intent of the author, Abbe Emmanuel Sieyes. As he lays out his case against the privileged order, Sieyes makes some astute observations. The most profound is when describing the role of the Third Estate in relation to the will of the First and Second. He makes this statement as if speaking for the higher orders to the Third Estate:

“Whatever be your services, whatever your talents, you shall go thus far and no farther”.

Sieyes is pointing out the hypocrisy of a situation in which these higher orders dictate all future prospects of the middle class. They remove competition from the market and conscript workers and their descendants to specific tasks, for life. The Third Estate though represented in the Estates General had ‘political nullity’ against the power structure. Sieyes describes nobility as a “burden upon the nation”.

Property in the Declaration is described as a “sacred and inviolable right” but quickly amended to property of the State when “public necessity obviously requires it”. The critical reader is most likely asking, obvious to whom? We quickly find out that ‘public necessity’, the excuse paraded by warmongers and financiers, is capitalized upon by power seeking opportunists to build a massive army and institute their ideology through brute force and terror tactics. Promoting fear of invasion and ‘counterrevolutionary’ hysteria, the manipulators were able to rally people around this war-effort excuse. Seizing of property and arms, conscripted labor and military service would all become part of accepted, everyday life after the Levee en Mass Edict.

Slavery was in stark contrast to the stated values of the revolution in the Declaration. The Society of the Friends of Blacks spoke out against the use of slavery in French colonies in the Address to the National Assembly in Favor of the Abolition of the Slave Trade. In this revealing address, we see that public opinion was already turning against the slave trade, only hindered by unfounded fears of ‘public necessity’ and possible chaotic freed-slave retaliations.

Gender inequality was another topic of discussion in the atmosphere of the French Revolution. Olympe de Gouges attempted to address this in her Declaration of the Rights of Women. Calling the disregard for women’s rights the “sole cause of public misfortunes and governmental corruption”, Gouges lays out her radical view on gender roles in society. Speaking out against the “perpetual tyranny of man”, her position is that oppressed women, suffering under the dictatorial rule of their husbands and fathers, should have equality in the political realm as well as the court system. Gouges uses the free speech argument to highlight a societal tendency at the time, to suppress mistresses from claiming illegitimate children’s fathers, so to avoid the inevitable scandal. Her ideas were so revolutionary that she was arrested and executed in 1793 as a counterrevolutionary.

While it is plain to see that personal liberty was an essential ideal to the French Revolution, the radical and brutal methods that disregarded the right-to-life of any dissenters would open the gates for schemers to destroy their opposition and seize the reins of power.

FREEDOM PERVERTED: From Enlightenment to Emperor

King Louis XVI

The French Revolutionary quest for liberty attempts to replace God with hollow and deceptive philosophy but descends into a ritualistic and brutal society resembling the ancient Romans by Thomas Vastine.

In the years following the American Revolution, France was undergoing radical changes based upon Enlightenment ideas of liberty and universal rights for all. This revolutionary movement was popularized upon thoughts of resisting tyranny and increased civil liberties for the working class. As events unfolded, cries for a republican government were perverted for the collectivist purposes of power-hungry men. The constitutional monarchy established was framed as a “rational” government, drawing from the philosophes for inspiration. The Revolution showed a dark side to Enlightenment ideology, linking it to the all-out atheist assault, not just on church corruption, but Christ Himself. In the Oligarchs’ grasp for ultimate-power, reminiscent of Julius Caesar and his legions in Rome, the struggle of the people follows a tragic series of events plunging Europe into perpetual warfare and bloodshed.

“A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and wherever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting its government.”- Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

Many great ideas were inspired by the French Revolutionary spirit throughout Europe and America during the early 1790s. In a quest to “remake” the government, society and to abolish the nobility, people rallied around revolutionary factions that were popping up around France at the time. After a fiscal cliff fiasco, judges and deputies began their power grab using anti-royalist spirit to descend a mob on Bastille prison, brutally killing the helpless guards and inmates. This would set an ominous tone for the consequences of enflaming the radical revolutionary fever of the French “Third Estate” mobs.

Hunt points out “secret societies” formed in 1788 would play a role in the Jacobin clubs that had become a new political network for the select class. Jacobins’ influence increased leading up to the Second Revolution of August, 1792. The Lodges promoted radical republican ideas to the professional men that joined in every major city. Now, morality was truly going to be thrown to the wind as the Committee of Public Safety (CPS) set in motion a reign of terror. From Robespierre to Napoleon, a series of despotic dictators would institute a military police state using radical revolutionary tactics that would set the framework for regime takeovers throughout the 19th and 20th century.

The Jacobins and CPS spread propaganda through art, news and required education. The church and Christianity as a whole would come to suffer, like under Nero after the Great Fire of Rome. Philosophy and paganism replaced traditional religion with a Cult of Reason. There was a romantic movement toward ancient Roman culture; people were replacing Biblical names like David and Peter with Roman names like Brutus and Maximilian. During De-Christianization, 83 priests were shot in one day in the Vendee Revolt and the Revolutionary Army installed a “Roman Republic” in the Papal States, chasing the pope and the Catholics out of Rome.

There are important lessons to be drawn from the French Revolution. Bloody regimes would develop under a shockingly similar deceptive guise; dictators like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao rallied the people around utopian ideologies of progressive change and universal fairness, only to end up trading one evil for something far worse, total rule under a brutal tyrant.

“There is a satanic element in the French Revolution which distinguishes it from any other revolution known or perhaps that will be known. Remember the great occasions – Robespierre’s speech against the priesthood, the solemn apostasy of the priests, the desecration of objects of worship, the inauguration of the goddess of Reason, and the many outrageous acts by which the provinces tried to surpass Paris: these all leave the ordinary sphere of crimes and seem to belong to a different world.” Joseph de Maistre, ‘Considerations on France’