2012

2012 February 9, 2008

Imagine this hypothetical.

Of course it fictional. But there is a point to it.

The Church has declared genocide to be intrinsically evil.

In 2012, two historical leaders have been brought back to life. Each one has found their political party of choice and has, somehow, become a candidate for President of the United States.

The Democrats have Adolf Hitler as their candidate. He wants to help the United States get out of its economic slump. He wants to make sure the poor are able to get better jobs, the health care they need, and a greater sense of personal dignity than they have had in the past. He wants the nation to feel proud of itself through a new cultural renaissance. However, he points out the problem with the US is that the Jews have hindered the nation, and the only way to make sure the nation is able to attain a new era of prosperity is if we get rid of all the Jews. Once and for all. The final solution must be put into effect.

The Republicans have chosen Joseph Stalin as their candidate. Because of his historical ability to oppose Hitler, he is their man. He wants the United States to be a military power with sufficient strength to oppose all threats to the nation, external or internal. He promises to make sure the United States takes indirect control over Mexico and Canada as satellite nations. He also wants the general populace to be more prosperous than they have been in the past. This, he says, will be done in part by reinforcing current laws and helping to re-establish a perfectly ordered state. But he thinks there is a major problem: there are too many enemies of the state within the nation. They are destroying the nation, making sure it cannot be as great as it should be. They are not the Jews. They are not of any one race. They are all over the nation. They must be removed. So he proposes that he will find them and put them in prison camps. He will force them to engage in extreme, even dehumanizing, manual labor which will quickly kill them off. But their labor will help create a better nation and provide material support for those not in the camps.

The Democrats point out that Stalin’s plans would result in far more deaths, over three times as many deaths as Hitler’s plan. And they also say he would bring us into an unprovoked war with Canada.

The Republicans point out that the deaths are a sad but necessary evil. Enemies of the state cannot be left in the state, because they are a cancer to society and will only destroy the nation from within. The United States has fallen into hard times because of them. The United States can re-emerge as a respected and feared world power once its internal threats are dealt with. And since it is not genocide, and the people are not being directly executed, it can’t be said that Stalin supports an intrinsic evil. Even if it is clear that he intends the deaths of more people than Hitler, what he is doing cannot be said to be murder because their death would only be indirectly accomplished by the state. Biological failure would be the primary cause of their death. Some people might even be able to survive and thrive in the camps.

Would you accept the Stalinist propaganda in these circumstances? Would you vote for him because his policy is the lesser of the two evils, and one must, after all, make sure Hitler doesn’t get into power?

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Donald R. McClarey

    The most bizarre thing I’ve yet seen posted on Vox Nova and that is saying something.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    The most bizarre thing I’ve yet seen posted on Vox Nova and that is saying something.

  • Odd it might be. It is, however, a thought experiment. Such things tend to be odd.

    Now please answer the question. What would you do? Who would you vote for? How would you deal with this situation?

  • Odd it might be. It is, however, a thought experiment. Such things tend to be odd.

    Now please answer the question. What would you do? Who would you vote for? How would you deal with this situation?

  • Phil

    Henry, The major issue with such a hypothetical is twofold
    (1) Mentioning Hitler is like invoking Satan, once done all possibility of rational debate is lost because your interlocutors will very likely immediately leap to irrationalism rather than attempt to deal with the issues you have raised
    (2) The evil involved in both plans would make it impossible for a Christian to support either.

    It seems to me that the current debate in American politics – as far as it relates to Christian voting intentions – is a mass of deceptions pivoting on the fulcrum of abandoning anything that is genuinely Christian. That is why republicans can pretend that G. W. Bush’s prevarications about abortion are somehow more Christian than Hillary Clinton’s apparent pro-choice view. The truth is that both the democrats and republicans are effectively supportive of abortions – at least in some circumstances. So making a voting choice based on a presidential candidate’s stance on abortion is engaging in self-deception.

  • Phil

    Henry, The major issue with such a hypothetical is twofold
    (1) Mentioning Hitler is like invoking Satan, once done all possibility of rational debate is lost because your interlocutors will very likely immediately leap to irrationalism rather than attempt to deal with the issues you have raised
    (2) The evil involved in both plans would make it impossible for a Christian to support either.

    It seems to me that the current debate in American politics – as far as it relates to Christian voting intentions – is a mass of deceptions pivoting on the fulcrum of abandoning anything that is genuinely Christian. That is why republicans can pretend that G. W. Bush’s prevarications about abortion are somehow more Christian than Hillary Clinton’s apparent pro-choice view. The truth is that both the democrats and republicans are effectively supportive of abortions – at least in some circumstances. So making a voting choice based on a presidential candidate’s stance on abortion is engaging in self-deception.

  • TeutonicTim

    Oh, just go ahead and vote for Hitler. That is some twisted way to try to justify voting for democrats.

  • TeutonicTim

    Oh, just go ahead and vote for Hitler. That is some twisted way to try to justify voting for democrats.

  • Carole

    Without giving any approbation to this analogy whatsoever, you’ve got your metaphors backwards–Stalin was Godless and extremely leftist (akin to tendencies in the Democratic party that tend towards socialism and economic leveling); Hitler was Godless and right-ist (at least in terms of his nationalism, which may resonate on some levels with the Republican party’s attention to national defense).

    After that, it seems that the analogy breaks down, because both Hitler and Stalin, right and left, socialist and nationalist, devolved into fascism. As far as I can tell that hasn’t happened ‘yet’ with the republicans and democrats. Regardless, from what I can see, the party that tends to champion Godlessness is the Democratic party. Which is not to say that the Republican party is made up of saints, but in general, it seems aethieism and religious liberalism are more at home with the democrats.

  • Carole

    Without giving any approbation to this analogy whatsoever, you’ve got your metaphors backwards–Stalin was Godless and extremely leftist (akin to tendencies in the Democratic party that tend towards socialism and economic leveling); Hitler was Godless and right-ist (at least in terms of his nationalism, which may resonate on some levels with the Republican party’s attention to national defense).

    After that, it seems that the analogy breaks down, because both Hitler and Stalin, right and left, socialist and nationalist, devolved into fascism. As far as I can tell that hasn’t happened ‘yet’ with the republicans and democrats. Regardless, from what I can see, the party that tends to champion Godlessness is the Democratic party. Which is not to say that the Republican party is made up of saints, but in general, it seems aethieism and religious liberalism are more at home with the democrats.

  • Blackadder

    The hypothetical has no answer. Any world in which Hitler and Stalin are the nominees of the two major political parties in America is a world so radically different from our own, that no sensible answer can be given as to how one would or should act in such circumstances.

  • Blackadder

    The hypothetical has no answer. Any world in which Hitler and Stalin are the nominees of the two major political parties in America is a world so radically different from our own, that no sensible answer can be given as to how one would or should act in such circumstances.

  • BA

    It is a thought experiment. And yes, things like this could happen, especially if people don’t consider the situation in advance.

    Instead of shrugging and saying “there is no answer,” there ARE answers one can give.

    I think people are afraid of giving answers because — it derails some of their own political rhetoric. For any answer 1) Hitler 2)Stalin or 3) neither would in result have reasons for it. And those reasons one must ask — do they match how they deal with the political situation today — or do they contradict one’s normal political rhetoric? It’s reasons like this that the question is invaluable — for people not too afraid to deal with the difficulties.

  • BA

    It is a thought experiment. And yes, things like this could happen, especially if people don’t consider the situation in advance.

    Instead of shrugging and saying “there is no answer,” there ARE answers one can give.

    I think people are afraid of giving answers because — it derails some of their own political rhetoric. For any answer 1) Hitler 2)Stalin or 3) neither would in result have reasons for it. And those reasons one must ask — do they match how they deal with the political situation today — or do they contradict one’s normal political rhetoric? It’s reasons like this that the question is invaluable — for people not too afraid to deal with the difficulties.

  • Carole

    Many things wrong with what you have said. First, I know a great number of atheists who are Republicans. But even if that is not the case, it would be guilt by association. Neither Obama nor Clinton are atheists. They are not Godless.

    Now back to the question. How would you vote? What would you do? The question is not “do these people meet the present candidates” but “this is what happened, DEAL WITH IT IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.”

    People: answer the question. Don’t avoid it. Answer it. Show how consistent you are to your rhetoric in the current campaign. Yes, the people are different. But if your rhetoric is logical, consistent, and valid — then it should be able to pick out an answer here.

    Or does this inability show that people are afraid that answering the question DOES expose the weakness of their current political rhetoric?

  • Carole

    Many things wrong with what you have said. First, I know a great number of atheists who are Republicans. But even if that is not the case, it would be guilt by association. Neither Obama nor Clinton are atheists. They are not Godless.

    Now back to the question. How would you vote? What would you do? The question is not “do these people meet the present candidates” but “this is what happened, DEAL WITH IT IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.”

    People: answer the question. Don’t avoid it. Answer it. Show how consistent you are to your rhetoric in the current campaign. Yes, the people are different. But if your rhetoric is logical, consistent, and valid — then it should be able to pick out an answer here.

    Or does this inability show that people are afraid that answering the question DOES expose the weakness of their current political rhetoric?

  • Phil

    I know so many people who claim the Democrats are like Nazis. So I thought I would give them a nod for the sake of the thought experiment. Unlike some, I don’t care which party represents which candidate. The experiment as you know goes further, to see what logical results one’s current political strategies one would bring to this situation and use it to determine the validity of one’s own arguments in the current situation. Of course, there are deeper issues involved here, as well, but at least I would hope people would take a risk and show where their political logic would lead them in this situation.

  • Phil

    I know so many people who claim the Democrats are like Nazis. So I thought I would give them a nod for the sake of the thought experiment. Unlike some, I don’t care which party represents which candidate. The experiment as you know goes further, to see what logical results one’s current political strategies one would bring to this situation and use it to determine the validity of one’s own arguments in the current situation. Of course, there are deeper issues involved here, as well, but at least I would hope people would take a risk and show where their political logic would lead them in this situation.

  • [post deleted because it was only a personal insult, and did not engage the discussion]

  • [post deleted because it was only a personal insult, and did not engage the discussion]

  • Darwin

    If you can’t offer anything other than insults, please, go away.

  • Darwin

    If you can’t offer anything other than insults, please, go away.

  • Sigh… If you think this is a question worth answering:

    The correct answer is of course to support neither candidate and work actively against both.

    Given the way you’ve laid it out, that’s not a bit surprising.

    The good news is that in this situation a Buchanan/Keyes ticket running as a third party could sweep, because both would look wonderfully mainstream and reasonable.

  • Sigh… If you think this is a question worth answering:

    The correct answer is of course to support neither candidate and work actively against both.

    Given the way you’ve laid it out, that’s not a bit surprising.

    The good news is that in this situation a Buchanan/Keyes ticket running as a third party could sweep, because both would look wonderfully mainstream and reasonable.

  • Darwin

    Good. You provided an answer.

    Now take it to the current election. If both candidates support an intrinsic evil, would you vote third candidate, even if it meant Evil A or Evil B would get in power? Or would you go for “the evil I can accept better” even though it is an intrinsic evil? Or what?

    The thing is — if you can see a situation where both candidates would support evil and you can’t vote for them, then the problem is — the situation is here and now.

  • Darwin

    Good. You provided an answer.

    Now take it to the current election. If both candidates support an intrinsic evil, would you vote third candidate, even if it meant Evil A or Evil B would get in power? Or would you go for “the evil I can accept better” even though it is an intrinsic evil? Or what?

    The thing is — if you can see a situation where both candidates would support evil and you can’t vote for them, then the problem is — the situation is here and now.

  • Blackadder

    Henry,

    I understand that it’s a thought experiment. That doesn’t mean it has an answer.

    Let’s say you have two candidates X and Y. Which of the two would you vote for? Obviously, the question has no answer. Too much vital information is missing from the thought experiment to give any sort of sensible answer.

    The same is true for your hypothetical. A world in which Hitler and Stalin were the Republican and Democratic nominees is obviously very different from our world, yet how it is different is not specified. If we were to assume that, per impossibilia, Stalin and Hitler were to gain the major party nominations but that everything else were to remain unchanged, then what would happen is that a third party would form over night, win 99% of the vote, and as its first official act would have Hitler and Stalin arrested and tried for crimes against humanity. Presumably, though, you would want to rule out such possibilities, and say that in your hypothetical Stalin and Hitler are somehow representative of the two major political parties (otherwise any attempt to analogize the hypothetical to the current situation would be in vain). Such a world, however, is one about which I know next to nothing, and so I cannot speak intelligently about what one would or should do in such a world.

  • Blackadder

    Henry,

    I understand that it’s a thought experiment. That doesn’t mean it has an answer.

    Let’s say you have two candidates X and Y. Which of the two would you vote for? Obviously, the question has no answer. Too much vital information is missing from the thought experiment to give any sort of sensible answer.

    The same is true for your hypothetical. A world in which Hitler and Stalin were the Republican and Democratic nominees is obviously very different from our world, yet how it is different is not specified. If we were to assume that, per impossibilia, Stalin and Hitler were to gain the major party nominations but that everything else were to remain unchanged, then what would happen is that a third party would form over night, win 99% of the vote, and as its first official act would have Hitler and Stalin arrested and tried for crimes against humanity. Presumably, though, you would want to rule out such possibilities, and say that in your hypothetical Stalin and Hitler are somehow representative of the two major political parties (otherwise any attempt to analogize the hypothetical to the current situation would be in vain). Such a world, however, is one about which I know next to nothing, and so I cannot speak intelligently about what one would or should do in such a world.

  • BA

    Of course one could think of an answer. Darwin has already shown one — the two-party system is not the way we have to view things. I agree with him on that. Indeed, I think we have reached that point today. Both parties support intrinsic evils. The problem is some people think that the other party’s intrinsic evil is more of a concern than their own; and so people DO choose between two monsters and give excuses like “choose the lesser evil” so “to make sure the other monster doesn’t get in.”

    Get out of the system and get out of the two party system trap and you can think and make answers. As long as one is trapped in it, then you are doomed with Stalin and Hitler. They are there now.

  • BA

    Of course one could think of an answer. Darwin has already shown one — the two-party system is not the way we have to view things. I agree with him on that. Indeed, I think we have reached that point today. Both parties support intrinsic evils. The problem is some people think that the other party’s intrinsic evil is more of a concern than their own; and so people DO choose between two monsters and give excuses like “choose the lesser evil” so “to make sure the other monster doesn’t get in.”

    Get out of the system and get out of the two party system trap and you can think and make answers. As long as one is trapped in it, then you are doomed with Stalin and Hitler. They are there now.

  • Blackadder

    Henry,

    Of course one could think of an answer. I could think of several. But that doesn’t mean that there is an answer to the hypothetical.

    Maybe working for the defeat of both candidates through a third party, or a military coup, or through some other means. But if Hitler and Stalin are supposed to be as popular in this scenario as your typical Democrat or Republican, then such tactics would probably be futile and might very well get you and your family killed. My first instinct if faced with such a situation would be to leave the country. But in a world where Hitler and Stalin are the major political figures in the United States, who can say what other countries would be like. Perhaps the thing to do in such a situation is just to keep your head down and pray that it passes quickly. Who knows? It might even be the case that the thing to do in such a case is to support one or another of the candidates. This is unthinkable for us, and rightly so, because the situation is so alien to us. But there have been people who have been faced with something like the situation you describe (Ukraine during WWII, for example), and many of the people who were actually in that situation thought it important enough to stop one side from coming to power that they were willing to support the other side. It would be easy for me, sitting in my heated apartment half a world and half a century away, to sit in condemnation of such people, and say that they should have, what, supported a third party candidate instead of Hitler or Stalin, but the truth is that I don’t really know enough to comment intelligently on the matter.

  • Blackadder

    Henry,

    Of course one could think of an answer. I could think of several. But that doesn’t mean that there is an answer to the hypothetical.

    Maybe working for the defeat of both candidates through a third party, or a military coup, or through some other means. But if Hitler and Stalin are supposed to be as popular in this scenario as your typical Democrat or Republican, then such tactics would probably be futile and might very well get you and your family killed. My first instinct if faced with such a situation would be to leave the country. But in a world where Hitler and Stalin are the major political figures in the United States, who can say what other countries would be like. Perhaps the thing to do in such a situation is just to keep your head down and pray that it passes quickly. Who knows? It might even be the case that the thing to do in such a case is to support one or another of the candidates. This is unthinkable for us, and rightly so, because the situation is so alien to us. But there have been people who have been faced with something like the situation you describe (Ukraine during WWII, for example), and many of the people who were actually in that situation thought it important enough to stop one side from coming to power that they were willing to support the other side. It would be easy for me, sitting in my heated apartment half a world and half a century away, to sit in condemnation of such people, and say that they should have, what, supported a third party candidate instead of Hitler or Stalin, but the truth is that I don’t really know enough to comment intelligently on the matter.

  • BA

    Willingness to “flee” a country in the midst of such a troublesome time is a possible answer. It might even be morally acceptable. But is it the best answer?

    I can only think of how the early Christians dealt with these issues and showed their fortitude by resisting the powers that be when the powers wanted them to do wrong, while working from within in the areas they thought Christians could still work with the powers that be. They weren’t going against the world, or even the emperor, just abuses of that position. And yes, it cost them their life sometimes. And it might have seemed “hopeless” if one looks at it with a limited perspective. “We won’t ever have anything change, so give in” was the way many people dealt with the problem. One can understand why they did. But was it defendable? No. It is defendable to show them forgiveness if they came back, but that is something else.

  • BA

    Willingness to “flee” a country in the midst of such a troublesome time is a possible answer. It might even be morally acceptable. But is it the best answer?

    I can only think of how the early Christians dealt with these issues and showed their fortitude by resisting the powers that be when the powers wanted them to do wrong, while working from within in the areas they thought Christians could still work with the powers that be. They weren’t going against the world, or even the emperor, just abuses of that position. And yes, it cost them their life sometimes. And it might have seemed “hopeless” if one looks at it with a limited perspective. “We won’t ever have anything change, so give in” was the way many people dealt with the problem. One can understand why they did. But was it defendable? No. It is defendable to show them forgiveness if they came back, but that is something else.

  • Blackadder

    Henry,

    Is it the best answer? I don’t know. That’s precisely my point. I do know that it’s the answer chosen by a lot of people in such situations, including a number of saints. St. Thomas More, for example, didn’t speak out against the abuses of Henry the Eighth. He tried as best he could to keep his head down and hope that the whole thing would boil over. True, he wasn’t willing to swear an oath he didn’t believe in, but he did everything in his power short of this to avoid provoking the King and to keep from losing his head. Likewise, the early Christians were willing to sacrifice their lives rather than renounce their faith if put to the sticking point, but they generally did their best to avoid having to make that choice. Remember, St. Paul’s advice to Christians suffering persecution was not to agitate for chance within or without the system, but to be subject to the higher powers. If you want to find a model for political action outside the two party system, the early Christians are probably not the best place to look, for in the words of Dr. Zaius, you may not like what you find.

  • Blackadder

    Henry,

    Is it the best answer? I don’t know. That’s precisely my point. I do know that it’s the answer chosen by a lot of people in such situations, including a number of saints. St. Thomas More, for example, didn’t speak out against the abuses of Henry the Eighth. He tried as best he could to keep his head down and hope that the whole thing would boil over. True, he wasn’t willing to swear an oath he didn’t believe in, but he did everything in his power short of this to avoid provoking the King and to keep from losing his head. Likewise, the early Christians were willing to sacrifice their lives rather than renounce their faith if put to the sticking point, but they generally did their best to avoid having to make that choice. Remember, St. Paul’s advice to Christians suffering persecution was not to agitate for chance within or without the system, but to be subject to the higher powers. If you want to find a model for political action outside the two party system, the early Christians are probably not the best place to look, for in the words of Dr. Zaius, you may not like what you find.

  • BA

    Who said anything about agitation? I have made it clear one can work with someone else and if that means sacrifice it means sacrifice, but I didn’t say one should be looking for sacrifice.

    Now — you really don’t want to act like I don’t know what I find in the early Church. You really don’t.

    And “not knowing what is best” might be a good way to look at the situation now and realize that people on all political spectrums are finding the political debates difficult. As such, perhaps humility is in order instead of accusing people of all kinds of sins if they vote for someone you don’t support (I am not saying you in particular, but you in general here). Thus — people are all trying to make prudential judgments following the Church’s dictates when making their choice; and while their ways of coming to a resolution might be different from yours, if they make it clear they are trying to work within the system AND still follow the Church’s guidance, people should respect it (even if they disagree with the conclusion) and stop some of the “you are pro-abortion” or “you are pro-torture” or the like arguments if the person is clearly not.

  • BA

    Who said anything about agitation? I have made it clear one can work with someone else and if that means sacrifice it means sacrifice, but I didn’t say one should be looking for sacrifice.

    Now — you really don’t want to act like I don’t know what I find in the early Church. You really don’t.

    And “not knowing what is best” might be a good way to look at the situation now and realize that people on all political spectrums are finding the political debates difficult. As such, perhaps humility is in order instead of accusing people of all kinds of sins if they vote for someone you don’t support (I am not saying you in particular, but you in general here). Thus — people are all trying to make prudential judgments following the Church’s dictates when making their choice; and while their ways of coming to a resolution might be different from yours, if they make it clear they are trying to work within the system AND still follow the Church’s guidance, people should respect it (even if they disagree with the conclusion) and stop some of the “you are pro-abortion” or “you are pro-torture” or the like arguments if the person is clearly not.

  • Tim

    What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?

  • Tim

    What if Eleanor Roosevelt could fly?

  • [I said, if you want to insult, go away]

  • [I said, if you want to insult, go away]

  • david

    What if Stalin’s running mate was Chairman Mao and Hitler’s Nero?

    No seriously, Hitler in 2012.

  • david

    What if Stalin’s running mate was Chairman Mao and Hitler’s Nero?

    No seriously, Hitler in 2012.

  • Tim,
    What he is saying, and what others who bother you have been saying, is NOT
    “vote Democrat.”
    It is, quite simply, STOP voting Republican.
    It is understood why you won’t vote Democrat. Good. Agreed. More power to you.
    But if you don’t vote for murderous Democrats, and then turn around and vote for Republicans who are equally murderous, it is hard to take you seriously.

  • Tim,
    What he is saying, and what others who bother you have been saying, is NOT
    “vote Democrat.”
    It is, quite simply, STOP voting Republican.
    It is understood why you won’t vote Democrat. Good. Agreed. More power to you.
    But if you don’t vote for murderous Democrats, and then turn around and vote for Republicans who are equally murderous, it is hard to take you seriously.

  • I love the people here who are digging at Henry’s hypothetical scenario…. and who nevertheless will vote for the Republicans and their hypothetical “pro-life” fantasy platform. A laugh riot!

  • I love the people here who are digging at Henry’s hypothetical scenario…. and who nevertheless will vote for the Republicans and their hypothetical “pro-life” fantasy platform. A laugh riot!

  • Blackadder

    Thanks, Michael. I love you too.

  • Blackadder

    Thanks, Michael. I love you too.

  • The Hitler scenario I’d like to see examined would be a case where a Hitler figure has been in power for decades and casual extermination is taken for granted.

    However, politics is relatively free and democratic.

    Do your spend your time working to “change the culture”? How? What would success look like?

    Do you enter politics, knowing you’ll be co-operating with co-operators in evil? How do you justify running parts of an evil system of government?

    Do you retreat to a monastery and wait for the end of the world?

  • The Hitler scenario I’d like to see examined would be a case where a Hitler figure has been in power for decades and casual extermination is taken for granted.

    However, politics is relatively free and democratic.

    Do your spend your time working to “change the culture”? How? What would success look like?

    Do you enter politics, knowing you’ll be co-operating with co-operators in evil? How do you justify running parts of an evil system of government?

    Do you retreat to a monastery and wait for the end of the world?

  • Kevin

    Isn’t that what is the case right now? Don’t we have all kinds on intrinsic evils taken for granted in our culture?

  • Kevin

    Isn’t that what is the case right now? Don’t we have all kinds on intrinsic evils taken for granted in our culture?

  • Michael

    Clearly they didn’t like how this scenario calls into question many of their rhetorical, sophistic talking points.

  • Michael

    Clearly they didn’t like how this scenario calls into question many of their rhetorical, sophistic talking points.

  • Bill H

    So the point is that liberals ARE fascists? 😉

    Seriously, if we get to a point where a vote for any viable candidate is going to cause great evil, I don’t know why we have to encourage them by voting. I think the big problem is that most people have come to see democracy as the ultimate political value, and as a corollary, that voting is the most important political act that an ordinary citizen can do.

  • Bill H

    So the point is that liberals ARE fascists? 😉

    Seriously, if we get to a point where a vote for any viable candidate is going to cause great evil, I don’t know why we have to encourage them by voting. I think the big problem is that most people have come to see democracy as the ultimate political value, and as a corollary, that voting is the most important political act that an ordinary citizen can do.

  • Bill

    Don’t you see we ARE at that point. Candidates on both sides support intrinsic evils. They might not be involved in the quantity of evil as Hitler or Stalin (that, of course, one can argue with), but that doesn’t matter. Both parties are working for such evils and the promotion of theses evils in such a way that will help evil continue its parasitic existence in our society.

    However, what you say at the end I fully agree with. I think too many people put their hopes in the political process and candidates, put all their energy there, and then… do nothing else. If you read my series on utopia here, you will see my views on this in great detail.

  • Bill

    Don’t you see we ARE at that point. Candidates on both sides support intrinsic evils. They might not be involved in the quantity of evil as Hitler or Stalin (that, of course, one can argue with), but that doesn’t matter. Both parties are working for such evils and the promotion of theses evils in such a way that will help evil continue its parasitic existence in our society.

    However, what you say at the end I fully agree with. I think too many people put their hopes in the political process and candidates, put all their energy there, and then… do nothing else. If you read my series on utopia here, you will see my views on this in great detail.

  • Henry,

    Your 2012 post, and the ensuing dialogue, has been brilliant. The last comment to Bill, “WE ARE AT THAT POINT” says it all.

    The sad truth is few recognize what is happening to this country. While some are concerned with the “behaviors of death” the real threat is the “culture of death” in its intellectual and moral formulation. For too long, we have been thinking on a small scale. It is time to recognize the extent of the challenge.

    Since I first read The Theory and Practice of Hell by Eugene Kogen in high school, I’ve wondered how the Germany of Goethe could become the Germany of Buchenwald. In general, I’ve concluded it was a slow descent predicated on too great a confidence in arbitrary will and mechanistic reason.

    The same intellectual framework that led to the demise of Germany and Holy Russia informs this country: Arbitrary Will and Mechanistic Reason. These are the intellectual underpinnings of the culture of death that has America in its grip.

    If we’re not careful, America could easily become the next victim of an awful human tragedy. It is not merely the unborn that are at risk. It is all of us. To quote Churchill, we are in danger of “sinking into the abyss of a new dark age, made more sinister and more protracted by the lights of perverted science.” But our danger goes beyond science. It goes to a radical repudiation of Truth itself.

    Pope Benedict XVI Regensberg speech is a call to reason and truth. It is this call that must light our way forward. It — not emotivism — must be the basis of our response.

  • Henry,

    Your 2012 post, and the ensuing dialogue, has been brilliant. The last comment to Bill, “WE ARE AT THAT POINT” says it all.

    The sad truth is few recognize what is happening to this country. While some are concerned with the “behaviors of death” the real threat is the “culture of death” in its intellectual and moral formulation. For too long, we have been thinking on a small scale. It is time to recognize the extent of the challenge.

    Since I first read The Theory and Practice of Hell by Eugene Kogen in high school, I’ve wondered how the Germany of Goethe could become the Germany of Buchenwald. In general, I’ve concluded it was a slow descent predicated on too great a confidence in arbitrary will and mechanistic reason.

    The same intellectual framework that led to the demise of Germany and Holy Russia informs this country: Arbitrary Will and Mechanistic Reason. These are the intellectual underpinnings of the culture of death that has America in its grip.

    If we’re not careful, America could easily become the next victim of an awful human tragedy. It is not merely the unborn that are at risk. It is all of us. To quote Churchill, we are in danger of “sinking into the abyss of a new dark age, made more sinister and more protracted by the lights of perverted science.” But our danger goes beyond science. It goes to a radical repudiation of Truth itself.

    Pope Benedict XVI Regensberg speech is a call to reason and truth. It is this call that must light our way forward. It — not emotivism — must be the basis of our response.

  • Exactly, Gerald.

    Who was it that said, “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”?

  • Exactly, Gerald.

    Who was it that said, “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”?

  • “Who was it that said, “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”?”

    I don’t know. But he deserves a Merit Badge!

  • “Who was it that said, “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”?”

    I don’t know. But he deserves a Merit Badge!

  • Donald R. McClarey

    “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”?
    Sinclair Lewis-decent novelist, socialist, and alcoholic. He wrote a novel about a fascist America called It Can’t Happen Here. Pretty good novel actually, although it demonstrated that the author knew as much about the American political system and how it works as he did about temperance.

  • Donald R. McClarey

    “When Fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross”?
    Sinclair Lewis-decent novelist, socialist, and alcoholic. He wrote a novel about a fascist America called It Can’t Happen Here. Pretty good novel actually, although it demonstrated that the author knew as much about the American political system and how it works as he did about temperance.

  • Don’t you see we ARE at that point. Candidates on both sides support intrinsic evils.

    I agree, but I would also add that the United States has been at that point for some time now. The entire American project is founded on the colonization of peoples, and has been sustained by the deaths of millions since that founding.

  • Don’t you see we ARE at that point. Candidates on both sides support intrinsic evils.

    I agree, but I would also add that the United States has been at that point for some time now. The entire American project is founded on the colonization of peoples, and has been sustained by the deaths of millions since that founding.

  • HA

    Don’t you see we ARE at that point.

    To which I say, when were we NOT at that point? Did I blink and miss some historical golden day where most any party with a chance of being elected wasn’t engaged in some evil or another — and likewise, where just about any effort to “rise above” all that wasn’t recognized as equally duplicitous once it began to get any serious traction?

    And really, if you think it’s come down to a choice between Hitler and Stalin, the only thing that’s clear from that is that you’ve never made much of an effort to find out what went on in either pre-war Germany or Russia. If you did, your proper response in that situation would be fairly obvious, but if you follow it through and no one tosses you into a gulag or a concentration camp, it’ll be a sign that your initial assumptions were over-reaching.

  • HA

    Don’t you see we ARE at that point.

    To which I say, when were we NOT at that point? Did I blink and miss some historical golden day where most any party with a chance of being elected wasn’t engaged in some evil or another — and likewise, where just about any effort to “rise above” all that wasn’t recognized as equally duplicitous once it began to get any serious traction?

    And really, if you think it’s come down to a choice between Hitler and Stalin, the only thing that’s clear from that is that you’ve never made much of an effort to find out what went on in either pre-war Germany or Russia. If you did, your proper response in that situation would be fairly obvious, but if you follow it through and no one tosses you into a gulag or a concentration camp, it’ll be a sign that your initial assumptions were over-reaching.

  • Blackadder

    Donald,

    The quote actually appears to have come from Halford E. Luccock, not Lewis:

    http://gcaw.blogspot.com/2007/12/sinclair-lewis-quote.html

    Personally, I think that if fascism comes to America, it’s as likely to be accompanied by music videos of celebrities singing “Yes we can!” over and over as by the cross and the flag. But you never know.

  • Blackadder

    Donald,

    The quote actually appears to have come from Halford E. Luccock, not Lewis:

    http://gcaw.blogspot.com/2007/12/sinclair-lewis-quote.html

    Personally, I think that if fascism comes to America, it’s as likely to be accompanied by music videos of celebrities singing “Yes we can!” over and over as by the cross and the flag. But you never know.

  • Michael J, Oafrate.

    Have you finished David’s book having to do with the Heart and the Center?

  • Michael J, Oafrate.

    Have you finished David’s book having to do with the Heart and the Center?

  • Gerald

    Thanks — I really wish people would realize the situation we live in. The sad thing is people will say “you can’t vote for someone who supports an intrinsic evil without being culpable for that evil” as a way to say “you can’t vote for candidate X because they support evil.” Then they will go and vote for candidate Y, who also supports an intrinsic evil, which means, from their own viewpoint, they are the ones who support an intrinsic evil. And that tells me more about them than anything else.

  • Gerald

    Thanks — I really wish people would realize the situation we live in. The sad thing is people will say “you can’t vote for someone who supports an intrinsic evil without being culpable for that evil” as a way to say “you can’t vote for candidate X because they support evil.” Then they will go and vote for candidate Y, who also supports an intrinsic evil, which means, from their own viewpoint, they are the ones who support an intrinsic evil. And that tells me more about them than anything else.

  • Gerald – No, I got through about a third of it, but w/ schoolwork I had to put it down. From the third that I read, I liked a lot of what he has to say (reminds me of Michael Baxter a bit), but I was frustrated as well with how he discusses (and dismisses) liberation theology without actually citing ANY works of liberation theology. Not one. Not sure how he could get away with talking a lot about liberation theology without once citing a text. 🙂

  • Gerald – No, I got through about a third of it, but w/ schoolwork I had to put it down. From the third that I read, I liked a lot of what he has to say (reminds me of Michael Baxter a bit), but I was frustrated as well with how he discusses (and dismisses) liberation theology without actually citing ANY works of liberation theology. Not one. Not sure how he could get away with talking a lot about liberation theology without once citing a text. 🙂

  • David’s great strength is to unmask fundamental weaknesses. We’ve talked at length about the Neocon agenda of Novak, Weigel, and Neuhaus. He challenged them to a public debate which they refused. His criticism extends to John Courtney Murray and Liberalism in America.

    At the same time, he has not developed how the merits of such flawed positions can be incorporated within a solid metaphysical context. This may be what you’re talking about with regard to Liberation theology.

    David is aware he has not developed a complete view. His books are compiled articles and, as such, can be seen as fragmented. But he is an extremely solid — and open — thinker. He is now recovering from heart surgery.

  • David’s great strength is to unmask fundamental weaknesses. We’ve talked at length about the Neocon agenda of Novak, Weigel, and Neuhaus. He challenged them to a public debate which they refused. His criticism extends to John Courtney Murray and Liberalism in America.

    At the same time, he has not developed how the merits of such flawed positions can be incorporated within a solid metaphysical context. This may be what you’re talking about with regard to Liberation theology.

    David is aware he has not developed a complete view. His books are compiled articles and, as such, can be seen as fragmented. But he is an extremely solid — and open — thinker. He is now recovering from heart surgery.

  • Gerald – I’m looking forward to finishing the book sometime this semester! Thanks for reminding me about it.

  • Gerald – I’m looking forward to finishing the book sometime this semester! Thanks for reminding me about it.

  • Eddie

    lol. ‘There is a point to it’…to SUBTLY get past our defenses and view the current political arrangements in a different light. But does such a hyperbolic example accomplish this goal?

  • Eddie

    lol. ‘There is a point to it’…to SUBTLY get past our defenses and view the current political arrangements in a different light. But does such a hyperbolic example accomplish this goal?

  • Eddie

    It is a logical method to test one’s political stand and positions, to take them to the extreme and see if they still work. If they don’t, then it is obvious something is wrong.

  • Eddie

    It is a logical method to test one’s political stand and positions, to take them to the extreme and see if they still work. If they don’t, then it is obvious something is wrong.

  • Eddie

    Why is something obviously wrong with a view just because it is unworkable taken to the extreme? I value my own life; taken to the extreme that might cause me to refuse to act in defense of others or run away from someone that is drowning. That does not mean that having any regard for my own life is wrong. It’s a matter of balancing that concern with the concerns of others.

    Environmental regulations are another example. I support moderate efforts to curb CO2 emissions, but not extreme environmental regulations that would paralyze the economy and likely cause more suffering than they are designed to avoid. That I don’t support the extreme does not mean I can’t support a more moderate view; indeed the effects of the extreme are precisely why I support a more moderate view.

    Politics always involves a balancing of choices based on the best good available. The thought experiment above seems like an unnecessarily elaborate attempt to make the simple point that neither political party is perfect (or close to it). That neither is perfect does not mean that one cannot be better than the other on balance. If your argument is that the evils in both parties require a third party, then (in my view) it would be better to make that argument in a straight-forward manner. As many of the commenters have noted, the thought experiment’s use of such an extreme analogy obscures the point because politics is inherently about compromise, and neither of the compromises in the hypothetical are remotely likely. As set up, the thought experiment is condescending to readers becuase the desired outcome of the experiment is plainly in view.

  • Eddie

    Why is something obviously wrong with a view just because it is unworkable taken to the extreme? I value my own life; taken to the extreme that might cause me to refuse to act in defense of others or run away from someone that is drowning. That does not mean that having any regard for my own life is wrong. It’s a matter of balancing that concern with the concerns of others.

    Environmental regulations are another example. I support moderate efforts to curb CO2 emissions, but not extreme environmental regulations that would paralyze the economy and likely cause more suffering than they are designed to avoid. That I don’t support the extreme does not mean I can’t support a more moderate view; indeed the effects of the extreme are precisely why I support a more moderate view.

    Politics always involves a balancing of choices based on the best good available. The thought experiment above seems like an unnecessarily elaborate attempt to make the simple point that neither political party is perfect (or close to it). That neither is perfect does not mean that one cannot be better than the other on balance. If your argument is that the evils in both parties require a third party, then (in my view) it would be better to make that argument in a straight-forward manner. As many of the commenters have noted, the thought experiment’s use of such an extreme analogy obscures the point because politics is inherently about compromise, and neither of the compromises in the hypothetical are remotely likely. As set up, the thought experiment is condescending to readers becuase the desired outcome of the experiment is plainly in view.

  • Eddie

    Reductio ad absurdum. Look it up.

    On the other hand, really there were many options which were possible with this thought experiment. The problem, it seems to me, is many people do not like the light this experiment sheds on their thought processes. So they just go to insult mode.

  • Eddie

    Reductio ad absurdum. Look it up.

    On the other hand, really there were many options which were possible with this thought experiment. The problem, it seems to me, is many people do not like the light this experiment sheds on their thought processes. So they just go to insult mode.

  • Eddie

    I guess there are two hypotheses in play as to why the thought experiment didn’t work:

    1) ‘People don’t like the light the light it sheds on their thought processes.’

    2) It was transparent and condescending (like, I might add, your suggestion that I ‘look up’ the definition of a reductio). May I note that option 1 is condescending also ? You are accusing people of some sort of intellectual cowardice.

    The point you were trying to make with the thought experiment is fine: both parties are objectionable for different reasons. I don’t see why you need to insist that anyone finds the thought experiment a clumsy way to express this idea were really just upset by the idea rather than the manner in which it was expressed.

  • Eddie

    I guess there are two hypotheses in play as to why the thought experiment didn’t work:

    1) ‘People don’t like the light the light it sheds on their thought processes.’

    2) It was transparent and condescending (like, I might add, your suggestion that I ‘look up’ the definition of a reductio). May I note that option 1 is condescending also ? You are accusing people of some sort of intellectual cowardice.

    The point you were trying to make with the thought experiment is fine: both parties are objectionable for different reasons. I don’t see why you need to insist that anyone finds the thought experiment a clumsy way to express this idea were really just upset by the idea rather than the manner in which it was expressed.

  • “Why is something obviously wrong with a view just because it is unworkable taken to the extreme?”

    You asked the question. I responded.

  • “Why is something obviously wrong with a view just because it is unworkable taken to the extreme?”

    You asked the question. I responded.

  • Eddie

    Right, I asked the question rhetoricaly. Then I provided examples of cases in which a reductio is not an effective argument (e.g. regard for self is fine in moderation but not to the extreme, Extreme positions on environmental issues). Then I said that politics involves a balancing of goods, indicating as did many of the commenters that a reductio is not particularly illuminating in these circumstances.

    You have responded not by arguing that a reductio is appropriate here, but rather by sarcastically referring me to the defnition of a reductio and accusing those that made similar observations of intellectual cowardice or dishonesty (they just don’t like the light it sheds on their thought processes).

    Are there any reasons why you think a reductio is particularly effective here, or reasons why you really think a third party is necessary? Straight forward arguments are often more effective than condescending comments and accusations of intellectual cowardice/dishonesty.

  • Eddie

    Right, I asked the question rhetoricaly. Then I provided examples of cases in which a reductio is not an effective argument (e.g. regard for self is fine in moderation but not to the extreme, Extreme positions on environmental issues). Then I said that politics involves a balancing of goods, indicating as did many of the commenters that a reductio is not particularly illuminating in these circumstances.

    You have responded not by arguing that a reductio is appropriate here, but rather by sarcastically referring me to the defnition of a reductio and accusing those that made similar observations of intellectual cowardice or dishonesty (they just don’t like the light it sheds on their thought processes).

    Are there any reasons why you think a reductio is particularly effective here, or reasons why you really think a third party is necessary? Straight forward arguments are often more effective than condescending comments and accusations of intellectual cowardice/dishonesty.