Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

The Christian Right Was Right

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I confess that I was dead wrong about this. I have to hand it to the Christian Right, they knew what they were talking about all this time. They knew this was going to happen and predicted it with astounding accuracy, repeatedly. For decades, they tried to tell us that the sky was falling, that devils were walking among us, and that the end was so very nigh. For years and years, they lamented the approaching devastation and tried to prepare us as good prophets do. They pounded their pulpits with ferocity and thumped their Bibles with abandon, forecasting this country’s certain doom… and we didn’t listen. We rolled our eyes and dismissed them as out-of-touch, hypocritical, religious zealots whose hold on reality was tenuous at best. Yet, they had it right all along. It turns out that each one of their raw-throated brimstone-breathing prophecies was true:

  • That the wolves would come in sheep’s clothing to devour the innocent
  • That there would be a twisting of the Scriptures to justify vile evil of every kind
  • That people would do what was right in their own eyes and make themselves into the very God they most worshipped
  • That money, power, and pride would be too seductive to avoid for far too many
  • That the Church was in danger of being polluted to the point of death
  • That “the least of these” would be discarded and brutalised
  • That good people would be preyed upon by opportunistic monsters

These sage prognosticators had everything about the approaching disaster correct… except its source. They neglected to predict the actual genesis of this great decimation. Because it wouldn’t be the Gays, or the Muslims, or the Atheists, or celebrities, or street people, or tattooed women, or sexually active teenagers as they’d so foretold. It wouldn’t be transgender men lurking in bathrooms, or brown-skinned suicide bombers from some distant cave, or any of the countless bogeymen they told us were hiding in the shadows to bring terror. No, the encroaching danger was a lot closer than all that. For years, the far Christian Right warned us about Godless hordes coming to destroy America and it turns out this was true… it’s just that the words were autobiographical.

As a lifelong Christian, I’ve had a sick sense of déjà vu watching politicians professing to be followers of Jesus dismantling every programme designed to care for the vulnerable and the hurting, seeing the way the powerful gather ever-greater power, watching empathy vanishing, and hatred skyrocketing. I’ve heard this story a million times before; proclaimed on Sunday mornings from pulpits, unleashed in religious social media rants, and shouted through bullhorns on street corners. I knew this was coming, or at least I should have. We all should have. These harbingers of doom were right to warn us… ironically, they were the very ones they were warning us about. In the sickest kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, they were the plague of these days that they said would come. It’d be the preachers and the evangelists abandoning the heart of Jesus, perverting the words of the Bible for their agenda, selling their souls for a high place overlooking the world. They’d be the very false prophets they told us that we should like hell run from. These supposed disciples of Jesus would be the ones to betray him with a kiss and send him to a bloody, undignified end.

Yes, the Christian Right was right, evil was going to run amok through the world, terrorise the lives of ordinary people, and make a mockery of God. That’s what it’s surely doing in these days. I owe them an apology. I should’ve believed them. I once was blind, and now I see.

16 March 2018

John Pavlovitz

Stuff That Needs to Be Said

https://johnpavlovitz.com/2017/03/16/the-christian-right-was-right/

Putin: We’ll Never Extradite Russian Nationals Accused of Meddling With US Election

The situation hasn’t changed under Trump… the USA has no real leverage over Russia… a fact that infuriates the hubristical Anglo toddlers to no end.

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President Putin denied that Russian nationals accused of meddling with US presidential elections in 2016 were acting on behalf of the Russian government and vowed he’d never extradite them to the USA. He said in an interview with NBC TV, a portion of which aired on Sunday:

I know that they didn’t represent the Russian state, the Russian authorities. What they did specifically, I have no idea. I’m unaware of who could be behind those people and I call on the USA to provide reliable evidence that they did anything wrong. Let them just not talk to the press, let them provide some materials, specifics, and data. We’d be prepared to look at them and talk about them.

When asked whether he’d allow the extradition of the accused to the USA, Putin emphasised:

Never. Russia doesn’t extradite its citizens to anyone, just like the USA.

On 16 February 16, the US Department of Justice indicted 13 individuals and three organizations from Russia for allegedly interfering in the US presidential election in 2016. Special Counsel Robert Mueller filed charges that implicate businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and 12 staff members of the Internet Research Agency in St Petersburg, which Washington claims to have taken part in efforts “to defraud” the USA. US President Donald Trump and key players on his team repeatedly denied all suspicions of illegal contacts with Russian officials during the election campaign. Moscow, too, denied allegations that it tried to influence the US presidential election.

4 March 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/politics/992690

How Social Darwinism Destroyed America From the Inside: Or, What Happens When the Average Person Believes in the Survival of the Fittest

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Whenever I look at the USA today versus its rich-world peers, an observation leaps out at me. America’s built a society on a kind of furious single-minded dedication to one idea… Social Darwinism (or the survival of the fittest). Let’s begin with the obvious. Its economy is modern history’s greatest machine for the survival of the fittest. The winners deserve extreme fame, fortune, and power… Elon Musks’ 55 billion USD (3.11 trillion Roubles. 348.83 billion Renminbi. 3.58 trillion INR. 71.42 billion CAD. 70.87 billion AUD. 44.58 billion Euros. 39.71 billion UK Pounds) bonus… but the losers don’t even deserve to live. Forget healthcare, savings, incomes, and so on. I step over them on my way to the café. Now, if you’re an average American, perhaps you don’t see the problem with all this. “So what?”

The problem is that Social Darwinism can’t build a healthy economy for the very people who believe in it, ever, period, full stop… even though I’d bet most Americans probably still think “survival of the fittest” is the best form of social organisation in history. Once you see how I also bet you’ll think it’s both funny and sad. What does “survival of the fittest” mean? It means an erosion or elimination of the average, doesn’t it? It means that only the top percentage (whether it’s 20 percent or 1 percent) of some population really makes it. However, the average person who believes in it so fiercely isn’t in there, he’s at the 45th, maybe 50th percentile, if he’s lucky. LOL. Funny and sad, no? Survival of the fittest comes back to haunt even the average person, the one who’s become, somehow, at least in America, its staunchest global advocate.

That’s precisely what’s beginning to happen in America now. The average person now has less than 1,000 USD (56,557 Roubles. 6,343 Renminbi. 65,036 INR. 1,300 CAD. 1,288 AUD. 810 Euros. 722 UK Pounds) in savings, a shrinking real income, a falling life expectancy, and no possibility of retirement, ever. They are going to live a shorter, harder, meaner, dumber, nastier life… than their peers elsewhere, or their grandparents. The survival of the fittest that Americans champion is working perfectly at destroying them. Social Darwinism is giving “survival” to the “fittest”, those at the very top (let’s say the top 10 percent), while punishing the very average, at the 50th percentile. The average person who thought, strangely, that being average wouldn’t somehow get him selected out. However, that’s what “survival of the fittest” does… select out the average. Hence, a middle class collapsing in three ways:

  • becoming a smaller part of society
  • a falling quantity of life
  • a falling quality of life

Survival of the fittest is annihilating the average person in America, even though that very average person seems to admire and long for it… that’s Social Darwinism’s ghastly revenge. In fact, seeing all but super-rich millennials struggle to have kids and make families, one might even say that Social Darwinism is working perfectly in taking away the reproductive chances of the weakest. However, I don’t think we need to be quite so reductive to say it’s a failed way to think about organising a society.

How is American Social Darwinism annihilating the chances of the average person? Well, American society is an arena for the survival of the fittest… it doesn’t protect the vulnerable. By design, there are no real safety nets, social systems, or public goods, while all America’s peers enjoy these things. For example, it ties healthcare to a “job”, and only then to a dwindling number, because if you aren’t productive, you don’t deserve to live. However, even if you’re productive, your income is stagnant. That’s Social Darwinism tuned perfectly… being productive or efficient is barely enough to hang on, it’s having just enough “fitness” to live at the edge of “survival”. Therefore, the survival of the fittest has kept America from building the basic systems and goods that the rest of the world’s rising quality of life depends on… healthcare, education, transportation, public media, welfare, and so on.

Why should the average person enjoy any kind of investment in him? Why should the poor? They aren’t fit. Therefore, they beg corporations and hedge funds to provide the basics of life, as they laugh at him. Meanwhile, the average person in America doesn’t really cry out for these things, because he still believes in the survival of the fittest, yet all the while, the problem is that he isn’t the fittest. Maybe, he’s at the 50th percentile of fitness… shouting that only those at the very top are fit enough to survive. How funny. How sad. How’s one to prosper, then? Well, who defines “the fittest”, anyway? The fittest do. Therefore, our socio-economic problem soon becomes a cultural problem. Let me put that more clearly. Is “fittest” the top 30 percent? The top 10 percent? Who decides? If it’s the top .01 percent, they’d keep “fittest” as small as possible, won’t they? That’s what happened in America… once, “survival of the fittest” might have meant the top 40 percent of society; now, it’s barely the top 10 percent. How does that kind of erosion even within Social Darwinism happen?

Everywhere in America, the élite tell the average that they must bow down to this terrible god of Social Darwinism. It’s the only god. It’s the best god, who’ll one day reward them with… what? Flying cars? Immortality? They dangle all manner of things before them. However, the reality is simpler… by definition, the average person can’t win these things, ever, for that’s what “survival of the fittest means”. Still, every single day, the American élite tell average Americans the same thing, in newspaper columns, cable news segments, books, films. Self-help, the prosperity gospel, stock tips, home flips, Reality TV shows about the rich and powerful, bootstraps, fame, money, glory… “Live your best life!” … “You don’t owe anyone anything!” What’s the common thread? What’s it all really saying? It just recapitulates Social Darwinism, isn’t it? Until people are more or less indoctrinated, American culture really says something like this:

Social Darwinism is the greatest ideology the world has ever known! Have faith! Your reward is coming, too… you too can be one of the fittest!

Therefore, the élite parade celebrities and tycoons before Americans, exhorting them:

Be more like this!

The first problem, obviously, is that 90 percent of people in society aren’t ever going to be the fittest. Nevertheless, here’s the problem inside that one. The élite are themselves winners of a contest of survival of the fittest. They tell people what worked for them, but that’s all. They have no incentive whatsoever to look past their own biases and say, “Social Darwinism isn’t working for anyone but us!” Why would they? Do you see the cultural issue? There is a contest in which the “fitness” one needs to “survive” rises and keeps rising. Once, it was maybe 30 percent of Americans; now, it’s maybe 10 percent. Now, you can hardly blame the poor average person for succumbing to this furious onslaught of propaganda, but he’s a fool… an average person believing in an ideology that says he himself shouldn’t survive. Therefore, he doesn’t. How funny all this is. How ironic. How tragic, too.

America is discovering the hard way what happens when the average person supports his own self-destruction, economically, socially, and culturally. Social Darwinism has resulted in America becoming something like the modern world’s grimmest dystopia… a place where kids massacre each other every few days and no one cares enough to lift a finger to help them. Why is that? You see, the endpoint of Social Darwinism brings us to the darkest place of all. Being a more savage predator than the next person is the only guarantee of “fitness”. However, a predatory society isn’t a very nice place to be, is it? That’s why the countries in which it was born, and then used… Britain, Germany, Italy… rejected it and consider Social Darwinism now a stain upon history. Will America ever outgrow Social Darwinism? I doubt it. The forces above are difficult to change. When the average person believes he himself is nothing but a ritual sacrifice to the gods, dark ages fall upon us.

17 February 2018

Umar Haque

Eudaimonia

https://eand.co/how-social-darwinism-destroyed-america-from-the-inside-7909acc6e099

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