Thursday, February 09, 2012

Jean-Paul Sartre vs the Pod People

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

'Mormanism' is a cult which believes Joseph Smith is a prophet! But believing Joseph Smith a prohet is no 'kookier' than any number of unquestioned shibbboleths and ideology that define the GOP just as many articles of 'faith' and/or superstitions define most if not all the world's religions. And the world's kooky cults!

By any definition, Christianity is, likewise, a cult just as it was considered to be by 'free Romans' during the long Roman Empire. Rome, especially during the post-Republican period was full of cults to include, prominently, various flavors of Mithraism. The Christians were just one of possibly hundreds of kooky cults of various persuasions, convictions and delusions.

Today it is not only Mitt Romney who is a cultist!

The GOP has seemingly deified Ronald Reagan! The GOP rank and file still worship Reagan's economic legacy, though it is, in fact, a sorry tail of inequities, slow growth, the 'export' of American industries, and recession/depression. In practice, the GOP clearly loathes any education which insists upon rigorous, skeptical science, objective inquiry, logic and/or empirical observation. All of those things threaten both cults --Christianity as well as the cult of Republicans.

Not all groups that could in one way or another be defined sociologically as cults are necessarily destructive. For instance, not every group requires its members to cut off normal contact with friends and family.

To be fair, cults are not always evil, kooky or destructive! But I am hard-pressed to name an entirely benevolent 'cult' offhand. In fact, I defend a persons right to be a 'cult-member' for so long as he/she does not harm others, commit or try to justify crimes in the name of the name of the cult, or, in any other way, deny the right of others to believe as they choose. I am tempted to write that most cults, however, are intolerant of dissent and, if not intolerant, may 'persuade' but in ugly, overly aggressive manners.

That said, I am of the opinion that cultism of any sort is 'anti-freedom'. A cult seems to me to be the ulitmate Faustian bargain in which an individual surrenders or concedes his/her individualty (soul?) to the larger social group. Just as a member of any 'armed force' or military surrenders his/her autonomy, a cult-member may no longer act autonomously.

“Existence Precedes Essence”: How May One be Free Today?

It was Jean-Paul Sartre's slogan—“existence precedes essence”—which defined 'existentialism'. With this phrase, Sartre made the point that it may be impossible to define or describe precisely what it means to be 'human'. It was, rather, a matter that is defined in the act of living itself. The human being may be alone in this respect, the inanimate world being the result of universal 'laws of physics' or 'evolution' in which 'essential properties' seem to be fixed from without, by forces exterior to the individual. Hence, Satre's famous declaration: "A man is nothing else but what he makes of himself".

Sunday, February 05, 2012

It Takes Courage to Leave the GOP Cult

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The GOP is not a political party. It is a crime syndicate, to be sure, but also evinces characterisitcs of a kooky cult. I say that based upon my experience as a young man who got an education from 'inside the GOP'. I consulted them but stopped for reasons of conscience. I can relate to comments by John P. Judis, who chose to leave the cult.
"Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today's Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery." U.S. Fascism Will Have TX Origins
--John P. Judis, quote found at Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis
The GOP --sponsored as it is by exceedingly huge corporations which now presume to be persons --is an existential threat to American Democracy. The recent decision re: corporate personhood will prove to have been the piece de resistance! Either the GOP is in the pocket of the huge corporations or it is the other way around. The distinctions are as blurred as is the term 'corporate moraltiy' --an oxymoron.

The fact is corporations are mere 'legal abstractions'; they are NOT people. The definition of 'people' may be found in biology and/or psychology textbooks; I deny that politicians, old men, liars in robes can redefine with a mere decree some several million years of evolution over which they had no control or input. Robed judges are not 'God'! They cannot --with a mere decree --change the laws of evolution and/or physics. That some on the 'court' think so is evidence of insane and myopic arrogance!
I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country's future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and "shareholder value," the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP's decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.

--John P. Judis, quote found at Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult, Mike Lofgren, Truthout | News Analysis
That the GOP has gone too far may be good news! GOP extremes, crimes, lie and absuridties have, at last, awakened some Democrats to the danger. At the same time, some Republicans have grown uncomfortable playing Faust to to the GOP's Mephistopheles, i.e, Satan. To them --I say: too late! You may have already sold your soul! And --as they say in Hollywood: what else you got?