Atheism and the Political Spectrum

From reader Darryl:

As atheists are quick to remind anyone who makes the mistake of referring to atheism as a religion, atheists unite around the disbelief in a god or gods. They are, quite literally, negative: they affirm what they do not believe rather than what they do. Their reasons for not believing may be varied, but they are in agreement on their disbelief.

Since there is no positive intellectual content necessarily shared by atheists, they may differ widely among themselves on any number of subjects, as this blog will amply attest. One area in which I have noticed a disparity of opinion among atheists is that of politics, or more precisely, political philosophy. There is nothing inherent in a simple disbelief in a god or gods that prevents one from being a Republican, a Libertarian, a Socialist, an Anarchist, a Green, or whatever.

My question is this: Do you see any connection whatsoever between atheism and political affiliation or philosophy; your own or someone else’s?


  • Jack

    Most atheists at Atheist Nexus are quite outspokenly liberal (in US terms).

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    Yes: I am an atheist (with respect to the “known” deities anyway) because my default position is to disbelieve anything if I have no evidence.

    So I’d say that my atheism is a consequence of my mathematical/scientific training.

    Politically I am a liberal though that doesn’t have much to do with atheism (e. g, if I saw the world differently I could easily be a economic conservative)

  • http://agnostiChicagOkie.blogspot.com DAM10N

    I’ve been active in atheist groups for years, and with the exception of the occasional Ayn Rand fan club they almost always range from left of center to far left of center on most social issues. This is probably because social convervatism is primarily if not entirely grounded in faith-based ethics rather than any sort of deliberate moral reasoning.

    Economic policy is another matter, but even then unbelievers are usually (though not nearly always) somewhere between leftish and leftist. I assume this is just groupthink, since I cannot see any logical relations between faith and fiscal policy, one way or another. The most coherent religionists I know are the Jesus People, who preach a very social(ist) gospel, just like their Dear and Fluffy Lord.

  • Me

    I don’t see how atheism is inherently “negative”. It carries implications that are baseless, for one. Such as “atheists are negative people”, or that since we “believe in the negative”, then the opposite is “the positive”, i.e. “there is a god”.

    “Affirming what we do not believe”? That’s a strange way of wording it. That’s like claiming that religious folk affirm that they do not believe there isn’t a god. We believe there isn’t. There is also, I would argue, a subtle (but in its own way, significant) difference between “disbelief” and “believing there isn’t”.

    Sorry to knock this off track, the wording of that just annoyed me. It’s like another subtle attempt at demonising atheism.

    But to answer the question, I’m fairly liberal, and most atheists I know fall along those lines. I know atheists who believe homosexuality is “wrong”, for example, but they believe that attempting to restrict their rights to BE homosexual is even more wrong.

  • Karen

    Most atheists I have encountered are politically liberal (in the U.S. sense). Some are moderately libertarian. Many seem to share a desire to keep government oversight out of private life, while expressing compassion for those people who don’t have adequate food, clothing, housing, and health care (whether they think government is the right vehicle to address those in need or not). What they really have in common is that they have given much careful thought to their political positions, much as they have done for their (non)belief positions.

  • http://www.cognitivedissident.org/ cognitive dissident

    I don’t know that there is a causative relationship between atheism and liberalism, but there does seem to be a correlation. Libertarian conservatives (especially of the Randian variety) will no doubt disagree, as they tend to be the most obvious exceptions (which Karen already mentioned).

  • Kwayera

    I’m an atheist libertarian (socially) conservative (economically), though here in Australia that’s not as much of an oxymoron as in the US.

  • Charles

    There is a distinct correlation between atheism and libertarian-style social policy ideals. I know very few atheists that are social policy conservatives. In fact, I’ve only ever really found one or two.

    Many atheists I know are also economically conservative.

    Many are liberal in the socialist authoritarian definition. But many are conservative, in the laizzes-faire / libertarian definition. I’d say it’s 50/50 there, or no strong correlation.

    Hmm, perhaps it’s time for a mass visit of the Political Compass?

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    I’ll chime in as well that most atheists I know fall on the liberal side of the spectrum. Of course, I live in a very liberal part of the country (Portland, OR), so that’s probably as much of a reason as atheism.

    But I think we all know that reality has a liberal bias, so I think it is natural that those who live in reality also have that bias.

  • chancelikely

    Broadly, it seems to me that atheists are either liberal or libertarian – meaning that there’s a variety of opinions about economic issues, but there seems to be a strong trend in favor of individual rights.

    Whether this is a result of atheism itself or just the natural consequence of being a group whose rights tend to get ignored or infringed upon, I can’t say.

  • The Unbrainwashed

    I’m a libertarian conservative. The only social issues I fall to the right on are ones such as affirmative action, diversity programs, limited immigration, others that I’d rather not go into for fear of starting an argument. There are probably other ones I’m forgetting. Although I must admit, I’m not the most knowledgable about politics because I just recently became interested in the various issues. I’ve spent most of the past 3 years (the time since I noticed a personal intellectual maturation) reading extensively on atheism and the ID debate.

    I too have noticed a very strong correlation between liberalism and atheism, especially on this website.

  • http://terahertzatheist.ca THz

    Most atheists I know, including myself, are social democrats. However, I do know a lot of atheist right-wing libertarians, who essentially believe any taxation is equivalent to unjust theft, and we should all be left to our own vices (this is from Canada).

  • Loren Petrich

    I’ve crunched the numbers for some political quizzes for several messageboards, including several notable atheist-oriented ones. Here are some results for the Political-Compass quiz.

    Many atheists are indeed US liberals, but there is also a significant contingent of right-libertarians or capitalist libertarians — the sort who admire Ayn Rand. They are often socially moderate or liberal, however, though they tend to be more authoritarian than the US-liberal contingent.

  • Miko

    Speaking from a worldwide viewpoint, there does seem to be a strong correlation between atheism and liberal politics. One possible cause is the connection of conservatism with “traditional” (aka religiosuperstitious) values.

    However, since a key component of atheism is often testing things out rather than accepting conventional or codified wisdom, I’d imagine that most atheists don’t fit cleanly into any political definition.

  • Samuel Skinner

    There are some issues that cannot be rationally supported. Needless to say, we have had communists support them.
    For the sane atheists, there is convergance- mainly because some of the issues are so bloody obvious.

  • sexorcista

    No
    How can anyone answer this question…except in their imagination or as some kind of guess work.
    I think its absurd to think everyone must have some kind of affiliation to either a political or philosophical stand point.

    I wonder if there is some kind of left over attachment by some Americans’ to the idea that all atheists are communists.

    Ridiculous!

  • http://friar-zero.blogspot.com Friar Zero

    I think the best answer to this question is to say that both Karl Marx and Ayn Rand were atheists.

    In other words, there’s a wide spectrum. ;)

  • Richard

    I am an Atheist, and a Democractic Socalist. I do not believe that there is nessisarily a correlation between atheism and political belief, however there are studies ( i dont remember where) that show that the smarter people, those with a Higher IQ, tend to be atheist more than those with a lower IQ.

    I have not seen any correlation between IQ and Political affiliation, however it would be nice to see more studies on the subject.

  • Pseudonym

    If it’s any help, I find that people who are religiously liberal tend to be politically liberal, people who are “evangelical” (in the true sense of the word) are also politically liberal, and fundies tend to be politically conservative.

    And yes, I do find that the Atheists that I know tend to be progressives, either liberal or libertarian.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    Among the things religious conservatives have spoiled (the meaning of “Christian, anyone?” intellectual Christianity?) is the chance of genuine secular conservatives allying themselves with the Republican Party, except by holding their noses.

    Mind you, as a radical leftist, I welcome that, but I have some conservative friends who are awfully perplexed.

  • http://darwinsdagger.blogspot.com Darwin’s Dagger

    George Will admits to being an agnostic, so not all unbelievers are liberal.

  • Michael
  • Adam

    From what I have seen. Atheists are liberals only because they only think of politics are left or right, because they disagree with the religious right. When you split the issues into social and economic, I have met a lot of atheists who are fellow libertarians. Then again, I am military so it might be a situational bias.

    My wife and I just bought a couple of bumper stickers from cafe press that say, “Libertarian & Atheist”

    Adam

  • http://vegatee.blogspot.com/ vegatee

    Since spirituality and political leanings have a genetic basis, it stands to reason that perhaps there is some overlap between the two sets of genes.

    Thus, it may be that the personality traits responsible for conservatism/liberalism are, at least in some part, responsible for levels of spirituality. This may explain why there are more religious conservatives than religious liberals, and more atheist liberals than atheist conservatives.

  • cipher

    George Will admits to being an agnostic, so not all unbelievers are liberal.

    I’ve been under the impression for years that Will is a devout Catholic.

  • Jessica

    I know atheists that are Libertarian (basically middle-of-the-road), but that’s about as conservative as they get. Most of them are more left of center.

  • http://www.purduenontheists.com Jennifurret

    If I had to generalize from just looking at our club members at Purdue (a definitely conservative leaning University), I’d guess 80% were liberal or very liberal, 15% were libertarian of some sort, and 5% were other – though the other is more likely to be anarchists and communists than conservatives.

  • Xeonicus

    Well, I’m somewhere at the intersection of libertarian, liberal, and centrist. I think I agree with what’s already been said here. Many atheists tend towards economic conservatism, even if they’re very left wing in other regards. Civil rights is probably up towards the top of the list of important issues.

  • justin jm

    I don’t know if there is a causation between atheism and liberalism, but shortly after I deconverted my political views took a left turn.

    Keep in mind I had not been interested in politics before and it was election season.

  • http://www.cognitivedissident.org/ cognitive dissident

    “I think the best answer to this question is to say that both Karl Marx and Ayn Rand were atheists.”

    Ding, ding, ding…I think Friar Zero wins this round!

  • Old Geezer

    Good Grief! Why does it have to be a “them and us” issue? I am red-headed, over six feet tall, thin, middlingly athletic, old and an atheist. I’ve just now accurately described all of the rest of you. Right?

    I know religious folk from all segments of the left/right spectrum. Ditto skeptics. It’s possible that followers of this blog fit into a more narrow niche, but that simply defines the characteristics of this microcosm.

    I think (were the truth to become obvious) that skeptics are well represented in all segments of society; well, with the exception of the radical fundie element.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    I would call myself a strong Capitalist, along the lines of Ayn Rand. And yes, I’m an atheist.

    Many on this board would call me a Conservative, and I don’t deny that. I tend to vote Republican or Libertarian, though I despise their (Republicans, that is) ties to the religious right, and sanctimonious social policies.

    I own guns and support the right to bear arms. I believe in low taxes and free markets. I believe in Julius Caesar’s motto, “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” (If you want peace, prepare for war). I support a strong military that’s not afraid to utterly crush our enemies (i.e., Islamic Theocracy).

    I believe “marriage” is between man and woman – but only because that’s how the term has been defined for the entire history of humanity. No need to go about redefining age-old terms. I have nothing against homosexuals, and I support their right to have domestic partnerships and raise children, not be discriminated against, have health insurance, etc.. Just don’t call it marriage, because it’s not. Maybe I’m being a bit too strict with definitions here, but that’s my 1.5 cents worth.

    Love the blog, BTW.

  • Gullwatcher

    ATL-Apostate, while I disagree with you on almost everything, I really like that you spelled out what you are for and against instead of using generic labels. I now know where you stand.

    For everyone else, the whole liberal/libertarian/leftist/conservative/social/fiscal multichotomy was really starting to confuse me.

    I would love to see a discussion of where atheists stand on the political spectrum, mentioning specific issues and without the labels, because it’s just not that simple. It would take a lot more time, but it would be more revealing.

    I’d do it now for my views but I have somewhere to be in a few minutes, and to do it right would take more time than I have right now. I’ll be back if I can (using someone else’s computer…)

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    If George Will really is agnostic, at least there’s something he isn’t wrong about. Or, when it comes to power, religion takes a back seat to ambition (viz. Rove calling religious conservatives nuts).

    Mind you, I also know lots of libertarian, Randian Misesian, etc atheists. Even one guy who sells Confederate flags. it’s just that the constellation called religious conservatism is probably losing mindshare from both ends, especially among people who have them (minds, not ends).

  • The Unbrainwashed

    George Will is definitely an agnostic. He said this much on The Colbert Report.

  • Lenin4Ever

    So my question is, are there any communist sympathizers in the house? Come on, don’t be shy! Raise those hands up high, comrades!

    (Lenin4Ever raises his hand up high, glances around and realizes that he is the only one with his hand raised, and slowly lowers his hand in shame…)

  • The Unbrainwashed

    I am surprised that many atheists, basically all of whom reject authoritarian institutions, support (big) government that injects itself into the lives of its constituents. It seems like many atheists see conservatism as the exclusive domain of Christians and thus reject every ideals associated with that political leaning.

    Any thoughts?

    Note: I equate liberalism with big government.

  • Amy Black

    Well, I’m still young so I expect my views will evolve as I gain life experience, but right now I think like ATL-Apostate on everything except gay marriage. I’m the president of my university’s Gay-Straight Alliance and and very pro-marriage equality. I don’t see allowing gay marriage as granting special rights, I see it as granting equal rights.

    I think if everyone got along it would be wonderful, but that’s not how the world works, so I am very pro-military and I believe that once someone (or a group of people) have proven themselves to be destructive, you can’t be nice to them.

    I think it’s unfair that there are different tax brackets. I don’t think the same $$ amount should be required of everyone but I think the same percent would be reasonable.

    I’m not crazy about goverment programs.

    I’m debating with myself about the death penalty, but I haven’t come up with a reason as to why it’s bad.

    So as of now, I guess that makes me somewhat republican and I’m okay with that.

  • Darryl

    Un, when’s the last time you saw small government in the last thirty years? We can now equate conservatism with big government.

    You are prejudicing the matter when you say that government “injects itself into the lives of its constituents.” You will find for every one of the programs that government runs a constituency–those that have an interest in the continuance of the program. Far from feeling that government is intruding into their private lives, these constituents have come to depend upon government services or contracts or assistance.

    Unlike the Libertarians, I am willing to accept the proposition that if you want a robust Federal system you’re going to have to put up with the management of government, and you’re going to have to pay taxes to run the damn thing. I am still of the opinion that some services that only government can perform must be provided to the people for their benefit. However, where we might agree is that I think our government is too big, too expensive, too wasteful, too corporatized and privatized.

    A government that is too big can become a drag on the people it was intended to serve. The taxpayers have been getting fleeced to some extent, but, for example, if you thought it was a good idea to invade Iraq, you really can’t bitch now about the grievous costs involved–money’s got to come from somewhere to go to all those private contractors and military manufacturers.

    I want to see a smaller government primarily to reduce its power. I, unlike the Republicans of late, am truly for States’ rights. I am more radical than most Americans: I want us to do what our first President advised us and avoid foreign entanglements and keep no standing army. Plus, I like what Ike said: to beware the military/industrial complex. If you’re one of those conservatives who thinks that everything gets better when you lower taxes, why don’t you start there; that’s 20% of the Federal budget.

    It takes a lot of money to run an empire.

  • Amy Black

    lol, that’s why I could never be president! I HATE spending money!

  • Pseudonym

    Lenin4Ever:

    So my question is, are there any communist sympathizers in the house?

    Back in the 1930s, it seemed to many thinking people that democracy had a limited future. The world seemed to be going either Fascist or Communist. If you truly believed that this was inevitable, then anyone with any sense of human dignity whatsoever bet on Communism. This is why it was trendy for a while for intellectuals to be Communists.

    I’m sympathetic to people who feel this way, but I believe they are wrong. Democracy is not dead. Even in the US, where democracy has been given a serious beating recently, it is not dead, and I have every confidence that it will recover.

  • Darryl

    Democracy is not dead. Even in the US, where democracy has been given a serious beating recently, it is not dead, and I have every confidence that it will recover.

    Our country will not return to what it was. Too many big changes are coming, and thankfully, most of them are completely out of our hands. This may be the end of an era for the U.S.

  • Gullwatcher

    I am surprised that many atheists, basically all of whom reject authoritarian institutions, support (big) government that injects itself into the lives of its constituents.

    From what I see, both sides are in favor of the government injecting itself into people’s lives – where they differ is in what part of people’s lives the government should have an interest. The current crop of conservatives who have hijacked the Republican party are all about having the government in people’s lives. Gay and want to get married? The government should forbid it. Need an abortion or birth control? The goverment should forbid it. Want to use medical marijuana? The government should continue to forbid it. They are every bit as bad as they claim the liberals are, just in different arenas.

    Sure, everybody’s in favor of low taxes, but what really seems to irk people about taxes is where the money goes, or rather where they think the money goes. The right says they are tired of having their pockets picked for welfare and useless social programs, and the left says they are tired of having their pockets picked for a huge military and their pricy military toys, and neither of them has a clue where all the money is really going as our conservative Republican government spends those tax dollars like a lottery winner on crack.

  • cipher

    Our country will not return to what it was. Too many big changes are coming, and thankfully, most of them are completely out of our hands. This may be the end of an era for the U.S.

    I agree, and I’m convinced that it is. Frankly, I don’t think our “global civilization” has much time left, but, even if we survive, I think America is finished as a world power – and it deserves to be. Start learning Chinese.

    So my question is, are there any communist sympathizers in the house?

    I am, actually, although I prefer to use the term “socialist”, because communism became synonymous with totalitarianism in the two best-known examples – China and the USSR. I’m rather enamored of the quasi-socialist countries – Europe in general, and the Scandinavian countries in particular. I’d probably include Canada in that list as well.

    lol, that’s why I could never be president! I HATE spending money!

    Amy, as Darryl pointed out, it takes a lot of money to run an empire. Republicans love to spend money – they just want to spend it on themselves and on programs and campaigns that that allow them to amass power. You say you don’t want to spend money on “government programs” (I assume you mean social welfare programs), but you’re in favor of military spending to defend us against people who have proven themselves to be “destructive”. You don’t really think that’s why we’re in Iraq?

  • Sheila

    My views and those of ATL-Apostate are pretty much identical, and I will add that I hate socialism and communism.

  • Darryl

    Republicans love to spend money – they just want to spend it on themselves and on programs and campaigns that that allow them to amass power. You say you don’t want to spend money on “government programs” (I assume you mean social welfare programs), but you’re in favor of military spending to defend us against people who have proven themselves to be “destructive”. You don’t really think that’s why we’re in Iraq?

    Amen!

    Consider also the trends in light of the knee-jerk propaganda of the hard Right: if we hollow out the middle class, and dismantle the social safety net, and if the rise of powerful markets in Asia continues, further driving down wages and inflating prices, where will the money come from to support even our bloated defense and security operations? What Americans will happily assent to seeing their taxes go to rich and influential corporations while they languish at home? An economy in shambles will not be functional.

    Unrest at home; wars abroad–ring any bells for anyone? I’m old enough to remember recent history. We should be prepared for rough times ahead. Maybe some Deus Ex Machina will emerge at the 11th hour and we’ll dodge a bullet, but don’t bet on it.

    Instead, let’s use what little credit and credibility we have left and try, against all odds, to reinvent ourselves one more time. Let’s restore a Constitutional Republic–of laws and not of men–and let’s become the world leaders in green technologies. Let’s get out front of everyone else on this and lead the way. All those poor Midwesterners thrown out of jobs by Globalism are going to need something to do. Let’s do something good for average people rather than for the rich and powerful–they’re doing just fine as I understand. Let’s admit that wholesale deregulation, privatization, and “trickle-down” economics is a failed ideology, and get real while we still can.

  • Darryl

    I hate socialism and communism.

    The theory or the practice? If the practice, where? In the U.S., in Europe, in China?

  • ryot

    ATL-Apostate’s view on marriage is possibly the dumbest thing ever said on this blog, appealing to tradition is the true atheist’s nightmare. The idea that because something is old it is valid is the same thing religious apologists use to try and validate their own religion and stupid ideas. It is completely and utterly irrational. Marriage has changed greatly in the past, from one man-many women to one man-one woman, and hopefully to whomever-whomever they love.

    If you want to see where I stand, I’d refer you to Darryl’s post. While I’d like a small government, at this point it’s virtually impossible, no president or congressperson or new policy will change that. I don’t think it’s possible with a country the size of the US to have a small government. The best we can do is make policy that will give people as much liberty as possible.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    Angela Merkel is pretty much the leader of the “free world” now.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    wt big government programs:

    http://www.truemajority.org/csba/priorities.php

    Starting with facts is often useful. It’s the Atheist Way.

    Their Oreo demonstration is also good.

  • Darryl

    Angela Merkel is pretty much the leader of the “free world” now.

    The Great Humbling has not even begun.

    Ah, I love the irony of our situation: the Christian Right parades its fidelity to God and Bible yet in its American Triumphalism has completely subverted the Judeo-Christian notion of humility as the chief virtue of God’s people.

    (Oh, I forgot . . . the Right has two Holy Books: the Bible and Atlas Shrugged)

    The Christian Righties love to quote Reagan who loved to quote Winthrop about America as a “shining city on a hill.” They would do well to recall what Winthrop was saying:

    For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.

    It is only my humble opinion, but I think a good case could be made that we have “dealt falsely with our God.”

    So, let the National Ass-Whoopin’ begin!

    For the time has come for judgement to begin, and to begin at the house of God . . .

    How I love quoting the Bible back to these hypocrites.

  • dave

    I usually label myself liberal-libertarian, and it seems that there are a lot of us in the skeptical community, at least more so than in the general population.

    I think both major parties now are in favor of broad governmental intrusion in people’s lives, but simply favor different kids of intervention, for different goals. I think some level of government intervention and therefore taxation is necessary, but it could be *far* less than current levels. A federal government that protected the borders and interstate commerce, and make sure states didn’t violate the federal constitution could be a tenth the size of the current bureaucracy.

    States could have social programs, single-payer healthcare, etc. That’s fine. They could have the high taxes to go along with it, and people could decide if it was a good tradeoff to live in those states.

    The idea of prosecuting victimless crimes has always struck me as odd. If a person wants to smoke a joint, why throw them in jail? It’s just senseless. Also, see george carlin’s questions about why prostitution is illegal.

    I think the free market works splendidly the vast majority of the time. The leftover cases often cost more to fix than the “damage” of the “market failure.” Economic externalities should be the taxable events in society.

  • Darryl

    Dave, I was with you until your last paragraph. I solace myself by reminding myself that we’re basically experimenting with a socio-economic system too big and too complex to control or really understand. I suppose we ought to be happy it works as well as it does, even with those faithless Americans who only think of themselves.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    @ryot:

    TL-Apostate’s view on marriage is possibly the dumbest thing ever said on this blog,

    The evidence is against you. Which makes your statement…?

  • Darryl

    The evidence is against you. Which makes your statement…?

    Rev., what evidence?

  • Pseudonym

    What a thread this has turned out to be.

    Just one comment:

    I believe “marriage” is between man and woman – but only because that’s how the term has been defined for the entire history of humanity. No need to go about redefining age-old terms.

    Linguists, who are the ones who compile your dictionaries, define words by how they are used. No more, no less.

    So. The first recorded use of the word word “marriage” in English is from 1297. Yes, it’s based on an Old French word, which is in turn based on a Latin word, which is in turn probably based on a Proto Indo-European word, but still, the word “marriage” only dates back to the 13th century. So we’re not exactly dealing with “the entire history of humanity”.

    As a concept, of course, marriage pre-dates recorded history, but even then, it’s meant different things at different times. Where would you place polygamy in “the entire history of humanity”? (I’m not an anthropologist, so that was a serious question.)

  • Darryl

    I’m leaning toward ryot’s view (and Pseudo’s) at this point.

    Just because someone is an atheist doesn’t mean they know shit about shit. As I have said before, atheism is not a virtue.

  • ryot

    The evidence is against you. Which makes your statement…?

    Which evidence specifically? I made sure to use the qualifier possibly, so you can’t really provide evidence against something that is not definite. I should say that’s possibly the dumbest opinion I’ve heard from someone who I’d imagine is an otherwise rational individual.

    Do you not think it’s an appeal to tradition? Because I assure you that if you look up “appeal to tradition” that exact argument is given as an example in at least a couple of sources. As is the argument that God must be real because the idea has been around so long.

    Or do you not think marriage has meant different things at different times? Because I’m fairly certain it has, just look at the old testament of the bible versus modern marriage. It’s changed in even more ways than that, instead of marrying to move up in class people do it for love, instead of strengthening the bloodline people now marry just because they feel like it after an all-night bender in Vegas. A daughter is no longer property to be married off for the right sum and men are not required to offer livestock to her father.

  • Steven

    “Lenin4Ever said,

    August 9, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    So my question is, are there any communist sympathizers in the house? Come on, don’t be shy! Raise those hands up high, comrades!

    (Lenin4Ever raises his hand up high, glances around and realizes that he is the only one with his hand raised, and slowly lowers his hand in shame…)”

    Nothing to be ashamed of Lenin4ever – Communism is an interesting theory which might work if human beings weren’t such greedy sorts always on the lookout for number one (cynical, well maybe a little).
    In Canada, being Liberal or Conservative has a slightly different meaning than the U.S. Basically, the Liberal party spends more tax money and is more dishonest about it and the Conservative party spends less tax money and is less dishonest about it.
    It nevers seems to make much of a difference to the “man on the street” who is in power. Unless of course the NDP (socialist party) is in power since they spend all the tax money and then some in an appallingly honest manner.
    I tend to vote for the Conservative party but only because they are the lesser of many evils. The only form of government that really works is a dictatorship and that’s only if I’m the dictator.
    How did this thread get into same-sex marriage by the way?
    It’s been a done deal in Canada for a while now (there was even a same-sex divorce – now that’s equality!). About the only useful thing former prime minister Pierre Trudeau ever said is that “the government does not belong in the bedrooms of the nation” (I’m paraphrasing) nor should it dictate the definition of marriage beyond requiring that the participants be of age.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    @ryot: I misspoke. My bad.I should have said the probabilities are against you.

    It is possible that we could all turn brilliant some day. But I wouldn’t bet on it. Not unless there’s a hell of a spread,

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    Re: language, marriage, and all that stuff, perhaps the words that will be on the California ballot for Prop 8 might be informative.

    “Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry.”

    Other state initiatives have been even more overt. “Changes the definition of ‘marriasge’ to be one man, one woman.” (reference required).

    It’s pretty clear who’s trying to change what.

  • Darryl

    Rev., don’t be coy; answer ryot’s question: “Which evidence specifically?”

  • Abendergo

    Hey Cipher and Darryl, post some addresses so the rest of us can show you how fractally wrong you are. Oh, and Cipher, socialism has always been synonymous with totalitarianism. Economists and philosophers saw it coming well before the soviets.

  • Polly

    @Lenin4ever,
    I sympathize with communism and communists. So, that makes two, I guess. I’m waiting for a book by Lenin, that I ordered from Amazon – it wasn’t in stock at any damn, imperialist-capitalist bookstores. Should be in today’s mail. However, I’m not a communist, myself…as I keep having to tell my wife.

    Rejecting the stupid notion of god has certainly made me more socially liberal. It hasn’t had much impact on my other politics except that the same skeptical attitude is now applied to politicians. This has turned me toward 3rd parties outside the duopoly of Dims/Repugnants.

  • dave

    A lot of people seem to have the idea that communism is a nice idea that just doesn’t work well in practice. I really don’t. It’s nice when people share voluntarily. It’s different when people are forced to share/can’t own anything. “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” presupposes that there is a moral and knowable equitable distribution, and that some person or persons has the right to enforce it. It presupposes that those with more ability -or- willingness to produce are obliged to give that up to those with less ability -or- desire. After all, we all know that if we were really motivated, we could do much more.

  • Pseudonym

    This discussion has made me wonder if there’s a link between antitheism and the political spectrum. I’m getting a bit of a vibe that antitheism is associated with a general pessimism about human nature. “Friendly atheism” seems more optimistic about what humans are able to achieve.

  • Darryl

    I’m getting a bit of a vibe that antitheism is associated with a general pessimism about human nature. “Friendly atheism” seems more optimistic about what humans are able to achieve.

    Pseudo, that’s a topic for a whole new thread: how atheists (and antitheists) or humanists, etc. see ‘human nature.’

    I recently watched a video of the journalists/author Chris Hedges discussing his recent book on the Neoatheists. He has what I consider to be a realistic view of humans: history shows that we can do great things, and that we can be evil, and that we can’t forget that we’re flawed. It’s not a lack of optimism that frightens Hedges about the Christian fundies and the neoatheists, it’s what he sees as their Utopian vision–the self-delusion that causes some to act in the world as if humans are not flawed.

    Too often in my view are ideological thinkers Utopian. The Communists had a Utopian vision that in Russia turned into a nightmare. The Communists were naive about sin. The Neocons are the same way. I’m still dumbfounded that these half-baked ideologues could have been seriously entertained in the halls of power. But, I’m even more disturbed that no one with real wisdom, who was in a position to do so, thought to stop them. Or, maybe I’m not aware of attempts that were made. I can’t believe these discredited chumps still have the balls to make public statements, or offer their opinions. Everything they’ve touched has turned to shit.

    That’s how you know when you’ve got a true ideologue on your hands: no matter how much and how bad they fuck up, they never let it slow them down.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Rev. Bob

    @Darryl: You’ve heard of the small sample size problem. There’s also the way too huge sample size problem.

    I’m not sure any of us can claim not to have said the stupidest thing evar, even in this discussion.

    Wrt socialism being a horrible failure, I’ll say 3 things: (a) I never was old left, but I’m still building up a pretty good bunch of anti-tightass allies, and (b) run-amok corporate capitalism sure has been a smashing success in America, hasn’t it?

  • Pseudonym

    Darryl, I so agree with you and Chris Hedges there. One of the reasons why Neoatheists are often referred to as “fundamentalists” (though not by me) is not because of any non-existent atheist fundamentals, but because some of them are perceived as acting like fundamentalists. Utopianism is one example.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    Most of my nation (England) are religiously disinterested. Some are atheist and some are raised to believe in a some sort of jolly nice God who is vaguely out there doing godly stuff. There are very evangelical or die hard religionists. At least in my experience.

    The political climate is not that far removed from the American Democratic party. Both main British parties (Conservative and Labour) vie for a middle ground that is neither right wing nor left wing. Traditionally the Tories have attracted the right wing parts of society while Labour has appealed to the left wing.

    There are some small differences but essentially the extreme political parties are supported by extreme views. The BNP attracts far right win, racists, the Greens attract people concerned with environmental issues above, say, economic realities. The Liberal democrats attract people that the Tories and Labour have managed to alienate in some way.

    I’m generalising, of course, but a secular nation has a wide range of political ideas beyond the religious stereotypes. One of the politicians who I personally have a lot of respect for is Tony Benn. He’s now retired but he’s always been outspokenly Christian. Despite that ;) he comes across as a caring and eminently reasonable man who I would have been happy to vote for.

    Contrast my current MP, David Willetts, who I have no idea what his religious views are although I think he is vaguely Christian. I find the Conservative politician to be changeable and reactionary and I find myself distrusting everything that he says.

    In England we vote for an MP rather than a party. The party with the most MPs elects a leader and holds power. MPs serve a constituency of more or less equal population with other MPs. At least in theory.

  • Darryl

    This may sound confusing to some of you, but here goes:

    I spent the better part of 5 hours today at the laundromat washing every damn piece of cloth I own. During this ordeal I had an encounter with a man with tattoos on his face about whether or not my two carts were fairly found or whether I had snatched one of his. Let me say that I was in no mood to be fucked with. I made it clear by my tone of voice and my gestures that I had fairly found my carts, and he should think twice about trying to intimidate yours truly.

    Now that my saga is through, as I listen to the news, I think to myself that America is filled with people that no government can control. That fella with the tattoos on his face–he’s not going to let you fuck with him. If you push him into a corner, he’s going to fight you with everything he’s got. There are a lot of people like him in this country. I’m one of them.

    If you push me too far, I’m going to rain down hell fire on you. I think the more grounded leaders of our country know this, and they know how far they can go.

    I like that about my country. We’re rambunctious. You don’t fuck with us. There are a whole lot of guns out there. I’m a peaceful person; but, don’t fuck with me and mine. I think that every one of us will agree on this.

    I don’t cling to life so much that I’m unwilling to go down in a blaze of glory.

    Give me liberty or give me death! Power to the people!

  • cipher

    Yeah, but Darryl – those people have political and theological opinions with which neither you nor I would agree, and envision a society (insofar as they’re capable) in which I would not want to live, and I suspect you wouldn’t want to either.

    And their “Don’t fuck with me” attitude can be manipulated and used against them – again, Iraq.

  • Darryl

    True, Cipher, but I’m depending upon all those people to buck tyranny–from the Right or the Left. It doesn’t take that many people with guns to threaten a regime. Too much to lose; too much to gain.

  • Pseudonym

    It doesn’t take that many people with guns to threaten a regime.

    I often wonder what would have happened if the Japanese-American citizens who were rounded up for internment in World War II had a) been armed, and b) used them against the obvious example of government out to destroy your civil liberties.

    Most likely, the government would have just used it as a demonstration that these people really did need to be rounded up after all, and the rest of society would have agreed.

    This is not an isolated incident. McCarthy, the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act… so far, Americans, their precious Second Amendment and their “don’t fuck with me” attitude have a pretty low success rate when it comes to fighting tyrrany at home.

  • Darryl

    McCarthy, the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act… so far, Americans, their precious Second Amendment and their “don’t fuck with me” attitude have a pretty low success rate when it comes to fighting tyrrany at home.

    True, it has been easier for Americans to look the other way many times, especially those times when it was some minority group being persecuted like African Americans, Japanese Americans, Mexican Americans, Arab Americans.

    But, when your average American is pressured–really pressured, like not able to work and buy food kind of pressured, as they were in the ’30′s, then anything can happen. There was some crazy shit that went down in the ’30′s.

    Economic collapse for the working poor would do it.


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