Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ignorant Republican Attacks "Existentialism"

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The GOP has run out of strawmen --"phony wars", "pot" "evolutionists", and "secular humanists" to demonize, attack and/or ridicule. Now they've taken aim at a mainstream philosophy with roots in the enlightenment, a philosophy defined by 'personal responsibility', an attribute with which goppers have precious little or no experience.

I expect nothing else, certainly nothing more, from a party whose existence depends upon blaming everyone and everything but itself for its own many crimes and failures --political and personal.

But --the GOP is not a political party, it's a cult, possibly a criminal conspiracy. It ought to be investigated by a Federal Grand Jury for the probable cause that it routinely violated anti-racketeering laws. It dares to attack a mainstream political philosophy with roots in Cartesianism ['I think, therefore I am!'] ; Voltaire's famous statement: "I have no name but the name that I have made for myself" and Satre's: "A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself!"

The GOP hates 'existentialism' because they have made of themselves 'crooks' and have no one but themselves to blame for it. Bertolt Brecht had their number: "A man who does not know the truth is just an idiot but a man who knows the truth and calls it a lie is a crook!"

The GOP are Crooks!

But --alas --I have grown accustomed to endemic stupidity and ignorance from a party that is also characterized by greed and arrogance.
Now Starting: The War on Existentialism
In a stirring speech yesterday, former Missouri Senator Jim Talent said that not only does global terrorism demand a stronger a more efficient military, but also that it is part of an "existential threat to America."

"These people are reading Jean-Paul Sartre to their children," the fiery Talent railed. "We cannot have that influence our society."

"American demands a philosophical undermining that is grounded, epistemologically-speaking, in a fervent belief in God and his infinite capacity to bless us at the same as damning half our citizens to hell. The Terrorists want to spread their message of mortal isolation, forlornness, and the accidental nature of existence upon us, but we must fight them!"

When asked if he had any experience with existentialism, Talent replied, "I read The Stranger once, and all I wanted to do was tell him he wasn't a stranger to Jesus."

Existentialist Noble Prize Winner Jose Saramago replied to Talent's ramblings saying, "Entre os fataés eventos desta presente guerra, entendo serà de V.m. sem duvida havido por digno de maior ponderaçaõ, o que aconteceo na Cidade de Genova, no dia dez do corrente; eu, que com horror vi o principio, e o fim delle, faltaria aos empenhos da nossa boa amizade se deixasse de participalo a V.m. com individuarlhe as cauzas de que se originou, e narrarlhe sinceramente os factos mais essenciaes de que se compoz."

To which Talent replied: "Yes, that is exactly the kind of filth I want to fight."
It will be a long struggle, defeating existentialism. We'll have to burn a lot of books. Killing philosophers should be easy, but what if Woody Allen has to go as well?

Either way, if the threat to America is, as Mr. Talent says, existential, I'm sure our brightest minds will find some way to fight it, just as we did that pesky War on Drugs that finally went away.
To start with, Talent used the term "existential" incorrectly. Most certainly, in context, he means "existentialist" threat. The quagmire of Bush's creation in Iraq is an "existential" threat whether Talent is an "Existentialist" or not.

Goppers, like Bush, "don't do nuance". But Talent's mistake can be dismissed. It's just a product of an inadequate education or willful stupidity. It's the GOP; take your pick. Remember, this is a party that waged war on public education. Education lost.

I find it incredible that Talent bothered to read 'a' book. That he might have read 'at' the Bible is not surprising. But it is strange that he would have attempted "L'etranger" or, for Talent, "The Stranger". Why does a fundie bother to read a book when it is so much easier to blame others or call them names?

I am frankly fed up with stupid people telling me and the nation what to do. As far as I am concerned, Talent can just fuck off! While defending Talent's right to be stupid and his First Amendment right to say stupid things, I likewise defend my own right to be intelligent and call him an idiot. So here goes: Talent is a typical GOP idiot, a typical GOP bigot, a typical GOP ignoramus, and, because he has chosen to be a gopper, he is responsible --existentially --for the choice that he has made. Talent and Talent alone is responsible for having chosen to be a part of an organization that appeals to crookedness, thrives on corruption and promotes lies. Absolutely unforgivable is the fact that the GOP is --at its black heart --elitist but ignorant, if not endemically stupid.

Existentialists are free because, by definition, they accept responsibility for what they are. By contrast, the GOP has defined itself by blaming black people, liberals, progressives, academics, writers, artists, actors, environmentalists, young people, rock n' roll, 'liberal media' (an oxymoron) a 'world wide communist conspiracy' recently replaced by an Islamic conspiracy to commit acts of 'terrorism' on American soil. Bush's theory of 911 was a 'conspiracy theory': 14 Arab hijackers --whose very existence cannot be proven --were said to have hijacked flights that did not exist causing the demolition of buildings that could not have been penetrated by any aircraft not made of hardened industrial steel. Clue: NO airliner aircraft is made of hardened industrial steel. On 911, Bush provided the GOP with a scapegoat --Muslims!

There is no freedom without choice, no choice without responsibility. Even concentration camp victims of Hitler found freedom in incarceration. Victor Frankl purposefully chose his own attitude in the face of death. Existentialism is the philosophy of freedom, courage and choice --the courage and freedom to make a choice and the courage to take responsibility for its effects. It takes great courage to accept responsibility for what you have made of yourself. It takes only cowardice of the GOP kind to blame everyone but themselves for the fuck ups they have made of both themselves and the nation.

Talent is not a free man; Talent is a tool!

Now --if you wish to become expert on Existentialism, you must start with Descartes' cogito: I think, therefore I am. In Southern parlance: if you ain't thinkin', you ain't livin'. Even a gopper has no choice but to admit his/her own existence, given that the gopper in question has a pulse. One's own existence cannot be doubted. Everything else follows from that. Then read Soren Kierkegaard, a "Christian" existentialist. What could Talent possibly have against a fellow Christian? Perhaps, the fact that Kierkegaard dared to be intelligent while Talent and his fellow minions dare to show themselves in public.

Then there is the monumental volume Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre, an atheist existentialist. If you have time for only one book about existentialism, read Existentialism and Human Emotions by Sartre. It can be summed up in a single clause:
A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.''

--Jean-Paul Sartre
It must surely be the many corollaries to that which bother idiots like Talent. It means simply that they --Republicans --can no longer get away with blaming others, indeed, the entire world for their failures as people, their failures as a party, their failures in positions of governmental responsibility for which they are singularly unsuited.

Let us assume that Talent was born with at least an average intelligence. In that case, Talent alone is responsible for the sorry mess that he has made of himself, the cesspool that his party made of Washington, the hell hole that it made of Iraq.

An addendum: 20 things you have to believe to be a Republican today
  1. 1. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.
  2. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.
  3. Government should relax regulation of Big Business and Big Money but crack down on individuals who use marijuana to relieve the pain of illness.
  4. "Standing Tall for America" means firing your workers and moving their jobs to India.
  5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational corporations can make decisions affecting all humankind without regulation.
  6. Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.
  7. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.
  8. Group sex and drug use are degenerate sins unless you someday run for governor of California as a Republican.
  9. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.
  10. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, then demand their cooperation and money.
  11. HMOs and insurance companies have the interest of the public at heart.
  12. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health care to all Americans is socialism.
  13. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.
  14. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.
  15. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense. A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is a solid defense policy.
  16. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.
  17. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.
  18. You support states' rights, which means Attorney General John Ashcroft can tell states what local voter initiatives they have a right to adopt.
  19. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the 1980s is irrelevant.
  20. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist; but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

    --20 things you have to believe to be a Republican today

The Ballad of the Existentialist


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