Category : capitalism

So apparently I have a blog or something. Wouldn’t it be nice if I updated it every now and then?

Sorry for the nearly-a-month gap between updates. I’ve been busy, depressed, sick, busy and exhausted. And busy.

A lot has changed, but much more hasn’t. I get sick of the same old shit. It’s just depressing to have to contend with the fact that we’ve got a crew of fascists in the White House and no one seems to care, especially not Congress.

Similar to Hitler and Nazis we may have to wait for them to cause their own undoing. That seems like the way things are going: The Fed and Bush admin have completely fucked our economy to the point where I’m wondering whether I should move somewhere the hell else.

They said an emergency cut by the US Federal Reserve to its discount rate and a weekend deal for JPMorgan Chase to buy Bear Stearns at a fire-sale price had added to a sense of crisis sweeping through global financial markets.

The volatility spilled over into commodities Monday as oil prices soared to fresh highs and gold prices jumped as investors looked to safe-havens.

The fact that the government is bailing out mega-rich corporations at the expense of regular-joe taxpayers almost doesn’t even register in my mind. We’ve got bigger fish to fry: The stability of the economy as a whole is threatened.

It’s important to realize that the US dollar is a fiat currency, backed by nothing but promises. There’s no gold backing, no silver; nothing. It’s paper. It’s backed only by the promise of the government that its citizens will continue being productive and paying their taxes. But if the economy goes even lower into the pit of doom it’s falling in, then the American taxpayer will have trouble paying for much of anything. Houses are foreclosing and jobs are dwindling. There’s no end in sight so we don’t know whether this will be just a minor correction (read: recession) or a major depression.

It’s looking more and more like a depression.

There’s a lot of baggage here. The dollar has been inflated in value for years and now the cows are coming home to roost ontop of the chickens who wanted to be elsewhere but couldn’t afford transport because of high gas prices.

But’s the subprime mortgage mess that’s really triggering this downfall. Those same loans kept the economy afloat a few years ago, but now they’re acting more like a millstone. So, in order to save us from economic ruin, the Bush admin is robbing us of our own money. This money will be sent to the enormous banks who fucked us in the first place:

This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.

Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.

The Spitzer scandal proves once again that the most horrible thing any politician can ever do is have sex.

You can start illegal wars, violate every American’s 4th amendment rights simultaneously, give away billions to rich cronies, display utter incompetence and total hypocrisy, but God help you if you have sex with somebody who’s not your wife! (the solution is obvious)

Oh well. Spitzer was a hypocrite, too. He should’ve moved for legalized prostitution when he had the chance. But what really burns me is how we hold (or don’t hold) politicians accountable. Spitzer’s indiscretions are mostly a matter of concern for his wife; it’s none of our fucking business (ha!). Bush’s crimes are at a war-crime level or higher. Yet he is protected by the Democratic Congress as if he were one of their own.

Well, I guess he is.

The truth is that the ruling class looks after their own. Spitzer was standing in the way of economic progress so he had to go. Of course “economic progress” is just a euphemism for wealth redistribution; from the poor to the rich.

In the end, we’re on our own. The rich will look after themselves/each other, but they will only think about us insofar as we are necessary to their survival. It’s foolish naivety to believe otherwise, I’m afraid. They’ll save their servents before us, simply because they want someone to serve them hot toddies in the underground bunkers.

So my advice is: watch the markets. If there’s a run on the banks you’ll want to be first in line to get your cash. Remember, only the first 10% will get their money out. Everybody else is completely fucked if the FDIC doesn’t have a couple trillion laying around.

Of course what do I know? I’m just a simple peasant giving advice to other peasants on how to deal with an economic system invented by the nobles for the benefit of the nobles. There’s really not much we can do.

But you might be wise to avoid listening to the mouthpieces of the nobles. Their advice is usually self-serving at best. Perhaps even scarier is the idea that the high priests of the economy have no fucking idea what’s happening or how to stop it.

Sounds like a good time for a deus ex machina. Somebody must’ve seen this debacle coming, right? We need a white knight but all I see are charlatans, jokers and sycophants. Hoping for a miracle doesn’t seem like a very good strategy, but what other choice do we have?

The pyramid scheme that is our economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. The subprime loan disaster is looking more and more like the detanator that will nuke the dollar, the banking industry and our economy as a whole.

When US homeowners default on their mortgages en-mass, they destroy money faster than the Fed can replace it through normal channels. The result is a liquidity crisis which deflates asset prices and reduces monetized wealth, says economist Henry Liu.

The debt-securitization process is in a state of collapse. The market for structured investments, MBSs, CDOs, and Commercial Paper—has evaporated leaving the banks with astronomical losses. They are incapable of rolling over their their short-term debt or finding new revenue streams to buoy them through the hard times ahead. As the foreclosure-avalanche intensifies; bank collateral continues to be down-graded which is likely to trigger a wave of bank failures.

Henry Liu sums it up like this: Proposed government plans to bail out distressed home owners can slow down the destruction of money, but it would shift the destruction of money as expressed by falling home prices to the destruction of wealth through inflation masking falling home value. (The Road to Hyperinflation, Henry Liu, Asia Times) It’s a vicious cycle. The Fed is caught between the dual millstones of hyperinflation and mass defaults. There’s no way out.

We are so fucked.

Unless somebody has a new economic system waiting in the wings I’ll have to start learning how to survive on rats, rabbits, squirrels … and probably human flesh at this rate. And that is not my idea of a good time.

The worst part is the feeling of helplessness. I can only watch these “financial experts” make one stupid decision after another. They’re only really experts at making themselves massive short-term profits. They don’t care about the damage they’ve done to the economy, which affects all of us.

The whole affair is depressing and maddening, but if you want to learn more, visit the Market Oracle.

As for me, I’ll be learning to hunt small suburban mammals.

I like to learn a thing or two every day, and today I learned a very interesting thing indeed.

Many people know that alcohol can be used as fuel for cars and farm equipment. It’s popular today in the guise of ethanol, but ethanol is largely a red herring. Ethanol is a ghost of what could have been had the Prohibition movement not killed alcohol fuel in its infancy.

Most people are not aware that Henry Ford’s Model T came in a variation that allowed the driver to switch the carburetor to run the engine on farm-made ethyl acohol [sic]. This allowed the operator to stop at local farms (equipped with stills) to refuel his/her car during long trips through the backcountry. After all- the gas station wasn’t exactly as ubiquitous in those days, as it is now. The Standard Oil Company and its industrialist-founder John D. Rockefeller wasn’t too happy with this arrangement. After all, Rockefeller’s company had a virtual monoploly on gasoline at this time in our nation’s development.

It kind of makes me wonder why we’re fighting an illegal war over oil in the desert, thousands of miles away, when we could probably retrofit our cars to run on domestically produced alcohol fuels (which does not have to be corn-based like ethanol).

Like William Randolph Hearst’s campaign against cannabis (marijuana), Rockefeller’s campaign against alcohol was ultimately successful… for him. Hearst and Rockefeller’s respective campaigns were horrible crimes perpetrated against America, the environment and truth, but both men were personally enriched through their scheming.

Since the late 1800′s there had been a growing Alcohol Temperance Movement developing among reformers. Rockefeller saw an opportunity in this. It is well-documented that local efforts to curb alcohol consumption were expanded to the national level when high-profile figures like Rockefeller joined in the anti-alcohol efforts. Was he so concerned with the social problems that abuse of alcohol was said to cause?

No… John D. Rockefeller was not concerned with family dynamics in the working classes. But he was influential in changing the goals of the movement from temperance to prohibition. As we know, his contribution to the outlawing of the production and sale of alcohol was successful. Of course, Rockefeller and the oil companies reaped tremendous profits as a result. Remember that the period covered by the 18th Amendment (1919-1933) coincided with the huge rise in the sale and operation of automobiles. America was on the move, and all of these cars were now operated solely on gasoline. By the time that the 21st Amendment was passed, ending the prohibition of alcohol, the standard was already set and worked completely in the favor of the Rockefeller family.

While this is an excellent example of a conspiracy against the American people that is both provable and successful, there is one problem with calling it a conspiracy: Conspiracies require illegal acts, and lying to the American people is not necessarily illegal. Unethical, yes, but unless you were personally slandered there’s no chance of legal recourse against such conspiratorial campaigns.

In the end, this is an example of how rich men can ride roughshod over the Constitution and the democratic process and there’s not a damn thing anybody can do about it.

Merry Capitalismas!

Express your love for Jesus by buying shit at Walmart! It’s capitalism-mass!

Don’t forget to worship Satan’s Claws, er, … I mean “Santa Claus”, the pagan god of materialism! He gives big, expensive gifts to the rich kids and tiny, crappy gifts to the poor kids… ’cause he’s, like, holy or something. Yay! This holiday makes total sense! Nothing strange or satanic about it!

Merry Capitalismas!

I would like to sincerely thank David Rockefeller, chairman of every internationalist organization you can think of, for coming out and admiting that there is a global conspiracy to unite the world under a one world government.

It gets annoying, you know, constantly explaining this to people, only to receive blank stares or mockery in response. I’ve long wished the Establishment (or “Illuminati” if you prefer) would just come out and admit it. It’s not like we’re in a position to do anything about it anyway. Well David Rockefeller (or D-Rock, as his friends in the international finanace ‘hood call him) has finally cleared the air:

“For more than a century, ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that is the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.” – From Rockefeller’s “Memoirs”, (p.405).

Uh, yes, that is the charge, Rockie, and what’s more we charge you with using any and every means at your disposal to accomplish this, including bribery, murder, lying, fraud, coups, mind-control, and, ironically, belligerent nationalism.

He continues with an even more revealing passage:

“The anti-Rockefeller focus of these otherwise incompatible political positions owes much to Populism. ‘Populists’ believe in conspiracies, and one of the most enduring is that a secret group of international bankers and capitalists, and their minions, control the world’s economy. Because of my name and prominence as the head of the Chase for many years, I have earned the distinction of ‘conspirator in chief’ from some of these people.

“Populists and isolationists ignore the tangible benefits that have resulted from our active international role during the past half-century. Not only was the very real threat posed by Soviet Communism overcome, but there have been fundamental improvements in societies around the world, particularly in the United States, as a result of global trade, improved communications, and the heightened interaction of people from different cultures. Populists rarely mention these positive consequences, nor can they cogently explain how they would have sustained American economic growth and the expansion of our political power without them.”

You will notice that he does not deny it. If anything he has confirmed that their is a “secret group of international bankers and capitalists, and their minions, [who] control the world’s economy”. What more is there to say?

Just this: Certainly we all appreciate the many benefits of modern capitalism and the technological goodies we’ve gotten our hands on. But at what cost? Politically, economically and ecologically it’s a loser for those of us who aren’t moguls. Who is going to control the one-world government he so fervently desires? If past performance is any indication of future performance, we can expect these internationalists to keep all the power to themselves. Democracy is simply “incompatible” with his smooth, orderly, one-world utopia.

The scary thing here is the idea, now realized before our eyes, that not all people who want to conquer the world are madmen. Some of them, clearly, know exactly what they’re doing; they plan decades ahead, carefully lay the groundwork and, with considerable patience, skill and cunning, achieve their goals through whatever methods required.

The whole affair is amazingly complex, but then again, so is collecting stamps, memorizing Tolkein or learning to program in C++. I suppose when you’re the billionaire son of a billionaire you need to have a hobby to keep occupied.

I love Wikipedia! Join us for our first episode of Electric Monkeypedia in which I quote a small passage of Wikipedia and, thereby, it becometh funny. All you have to do is read the following with a British accent:

The most distinct product of the joint is the roach, or unburnt unconsumed butt end. Roaches are typically either consumed with the aid of a roach clip which offers a narrow grip without the risk of burning one’s fingers, or are saved to be combined with other roaches and rerolled into a composite or second generation roach joint. Roaches are also sometimes finished by being smoked in a pipe, or (in rare cases) consumed by eating. This is sometimes referred to as “eating the peanut”, “popping the roach” or “Wu Tang-ing it”.

Ah, so funny. This is a real Wikipedia article, folks. I just found this today — don’t ask what I was doing — and had a laugh. It was clearly written by stoners, or by a nonsmoker who went deep undercover.

Another reason I love Wikipedia? Pictures like this:

I like how it’s simply labeled: Joint.

Man, all the tools are right there for you. Kids these days have it easy. (Get off my lawn!)

This is where you’re supposed to put the obligatory anti-drug message, where I get down on one knee and look the kids straight in the eye and tell’em all they really need to know about drugs: Kids, if you grow up and become a drug dealer, watch out for the CIA — the dirty spooks will want a cut of your profits or they’ll send in the DEA to ice you like a two bit hood. It’s even worse if you play along and sell your soul to the devil and Dick Cheney. The only smart thing to do is to become a real drug dealer by peddling expensive drugs like Prozac and Ritalin to fretful, always-absent mothers and fathers who just want their child to be “normal.” You can manipulate the political and economic systems of every last country to extract maximum profits with no hard feelings… ‘Cause it’s all legal.

There ya go kids. Remember what Uncle Vemrion told you.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Electric Monkeypedia!

If you’ve ever felt like you’re a slave to money, this video will explain quite simply how that is in fact true. It’s the best video on money creation I’ve ever seen.

Be sure to check out all five sections. Here’s part 2.

This blog is your leading pants-related resource. Okay, so this is the first time I’ve blogged about pants, but dammit, with a name like Electric Monkey Pants I better have some pants turf staked out, ya heard?

The Threat
Okay, so some uptight folks are trying to introduce stringent pants regulations when we don’t even have decent electronic voting regulations. I guess it’s easier to legislate against somebody who can’t fight back. Pretty much everybody who wears saggy pants is not in a position to pass laws, which is probably part of why they’re wearing the damn saggy-ass pants in the first place.

Check out this article in the Trib:

Proposals to ban saggy pants are starting to ride up in several places. At the extreme end, wearing pants low enough to show boxers or bare buttocks in one small Louisiana town means six months in jail and a $500 fine. A crackdown also is being pushed in Atlanta. And in Trenton, getting caught with your pants down may soon result in not only a fine, but a city worker assessing where your life is headed.

“Are they employed? Do they have a high school diploma? It’s a wonderful way to redirect at that point,” said Trenton Councilwoman Annette Lartigue, who is drafting a law to outlaw saggy pants. “The message is clear: We don’t want to see your backside.”

The bare-your-britches fashion is believed to have started in prisons, where inmates aren’t given belts with their baggy uniform pants to prevent hangings and beatings. By the late ’80s, the trend had made it to gangster rap videos, then went on to skateboarders in the suburbs and high school hallways.

I didn’t know that shit started in prison, but it makes sense: That’s where our (mostly minority) youth are spending a lot of time these days because of insane, pointless drug laws and a prison-state mentality, with GW as the crooked warden.

It’s worth noting that black people face harsher, less forgiving punishments from our draconian drug laws even though the percentage of white & black teens using pot is almost the same.

Shop owner Mack Murray said Trenton’s proposed ordinance unfairly targets blacks.

“Are they going to go after construction workers and plumbers, because their pants sag, too?” Murray asked. “They’re stereotyping us.”

The American Civil Liberties Union agrees.

“In Atlanta, we see this as racial profiling,” said Benetta Standly, statewide organizer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “It’s going to target African-American male youths. There’s a fear with people associating the way you dress with crimes being committed.”

A Few Questions
There are some questions that popped into my head after reading this story. Let me try to answer them as they come:

Are these laws targeted at blacks? Almost certainly.

Are saggy pants a real problem? Fuck no, it’s mostly a fear-based response by legislators who are terrified of their own kids.

Will there be more laws like this? Of course. Like I said, those wearing saggy pants are generally not in a position to legislate back.

Are these laws going after a deeper problem? Yes, but they’re attacking the symptoms rather than the core issues. The real problem is that our society requires an underclass to clean our toilets, mow our enormous lawns and serve us our drinks.

The Racial Divide
If you’re a rich, white person who has his or her Harvard graduation date marked on the calendar from the day you’re born, you probably have no idea why someone would hang around in the ‘hood all day selling drugs, listening to that “crunk” and sagging your damn pants.

Well guess what, elitists?! They don’t fucking want to live in the ‘hood and sell drugs to get by, but what other options do they have? Are you gonna hire’em? They’re not like you, are they? They speak differently and they have weird customs like the way they sag their pants. (OMG!)

Sagging pants are a way of fighting back against the uptight culture that demands conformity even as it espouses the (vague, far-off) concept of “freedom”. They look ridiculous precisely because that’s the goal. If it pisses off whitebread America, it’s cool. As a way of fighting against the system it’s pretty feeble, but that proves my larger point that the underclass has no other options available to them.

For my part, I would encourage people not to sag too low simply because it becomes hard to run from the cops when you’re sagging down to your ankles. Am I gonna create a law to fight this scourge? Fuck no; I would repeal laws, starting with our drug laws, which seem designed to permanently disenfranchise our poverty-stricken youth. The upper class can buy their kids out of jailtime, but if you’re living in the ‘hood you probably can’t afford Johnnie Cochran.

Black people are especially fucked these days since the elite is coming down on them harder than ever while the Mexicans are coming across the border anxious to take their jobs, eager to be the new underclass. Shit, due to this competition among the disadvantaged, rich people now get to watch labor costs drop even more than they dared dream; meaning they can get their landscaping done cheaply than before (“yay, Capitalism!”). Of course, that cheap landscaping doesn’t pay enough to enable the workers to buy a house and become citizens. Nope; gonna send that money back home (where things are just as stratified by race and class).

The Class Divide
Ah, race and class. Two things Americans hate to talk about, yet the problem stares us in the face every day. Who’s washing those dishes in the restaurant after dinner? Who’s cleaning those toilets? Instead of paying a living wage and giving the underclass a hand up so that they can join the middle class we seem to be focused on keeping them down.

Then we blame them for their position, as if it was all their fault.

The truth is that America wants an underclass. We need it. We need somebody to do the crappy jobs that nobody wants because we’re unwilling to pay a fair wage to the people who break their bodies doing hard physical labor. In many ways slavery, or at least some of the ideas that fed it, carries on today in that the rich like to set up pyramids with themselves at the top. If you’re gonna be on top of a pyramid, that means many, many more people have to be on the bottom, and (most important) you have to prevent them from getting up to the top.

The pyramid theory of society has been tried many times and it always fails. Weren’t we trying something new in America? Weren’t we trying to level the playing field and give everybody a shot? Somehow that got lost as the rich set up their system of control so that a free people became bonded by economic manipulation far beyond their control.

Political freedom means nothing if you have to work all the time just to keep food in your belly. What the underclass wants is economic freedom. It may be too late since the rich already control everything of value. What’s left but revolution?

We Know Best
If sagging pants are our biggest problem we should consider ourselves lucky. Surely there’s more important things to consider, but these laws against clothing point to some deeper issues. So, should we ban those baggy pants?

I’ll tell you what: We can ban saggy-ass pants if those who like their pants baggy also get to pass a few rules and regulations of their own. I foresee an ordinance that requires people wearing suits to loosen those ties. After all, if you wear your tie too tight you risk cutting off the circulation to your brain, leading to an increase of shitty laws like this one.

No, not cheapskates; they’re quite profligate with our money. I meant that as far as buying a politician’s support goes, they are well worth the money. I’m not just being my usual cynical self by saying that; studies back me up.

Companies that give money to political campaigns have better-performing stocks, according to a new study, than companies that don’t contribute. It’s no small gap, either. Corporations that give the most have beaten the market by 2.5 percentage points a year over the past 25 years.

“It doesn’t surprise me at all,” says Charles Gabriel, a longtime political analyst with Prudential Equity Group, a division of Prudential Financial. “Unfortunately, an investment in Washington pays off.”

What is surprising is how much companies get for so little money. The public companies that do give money, on average, fork out just $1,700 to $2,000 per campaign and support an average of 56 federal candidates in each two-year cycle.

For the low, low, low price of just $1999.99 you can walk away with a brand new Washington politician!!! Act now, before the good ones are taken! Don’t walk away from this deal, folks! Having a Congressperson in your pocket is always a safe investment! For less than 2 thousand dollars you can get a politician to write and vote for legislation that will bring your company millions of dollars of tax breaks and more! Act now! Supplies are limited!! [/infomercial pitchman]

Campaign contributions are just a form of legalized bribery. Anybody who tells you different is either a fool or complicit.

Warren Buffett is no stranger to money. He’s one of the richest men in the world; I think he’s in third place at the moment.When he says the tax code is more lenient to the ultra-rich I’m inclined to believe him. After all, it was a bunch of rich guys who bought the politicians who wrote it.

The very rich in America pay taxes at a lower rate than most working people, and, due to a wrinkle in the tax code, private-equity partners enjoy some of the lowest tax rates of all. At a Hillary Clinton fund-raiser in New York last month, Warren Buffett, no stranger to wealth, told an audience filled with bankers and real-estate developers the system was, in effect, rigged. “This is what Congress in its wisdom did: the 400 of us [here] pay a lower part of our income in taxes than our receptionists do, or our cleaning ladies, for that matter.” Buffett (who is a director of NEWSWEEK’s parent, The Washington Post Company) offered a million dollars to any fellow magnate who could prove he had higher tax rates than his secretary.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, but should be pissed off enough to fix it. It’s time to put some people in Congress who aren’t beholden to the rich. Right now there are two types of congress-critters: Those who were brought into office by rich men and those who are rich men. That’s not democracy; that’s oligarchy.

The creepy thing is that these people really do all know each other:

He [Steve Schwarzman] told The New York Times three years ago that he saw Averell Harriman, a financier who became an envoy to Russia and adviser to Democratic presidents, as a kind of role model. When Schwarzman was a brash young Yale student in 1969, he wrote Harriman, asking for an audience (the two had been in the same secret society, Skull and Bones; Schwarzman was a class behind George W. Bush).

Powerful folks all know each other. They keep tabs on each other. They help each other. They go to the same schools; they have access to the halls of power. They are the moneyed-elite. They are The Establishment, The Oligarchy: Your True Masters. Bow before them, peasant.

Batting Around the Mouse
I’ve always liked Scott Adams and Dilbert. He’s actually got a pretty good blog, too, and it’s a surprisingly combative one. You might expect that his blog is a lovefest if you’ve never been there: “omg Scot i totully luved dilbertt today! dogbert is my hero!’

Nope, Adams goes for the throat and his (many) commenters do too. It’s an intellectual and incendiary blog, and sort of a kindered blog to this one in many respects (I gotta recognize that he’s been doin’ it longer — he’s the Dogfather).

Speaking of the dyslexic agnostic (he stayed up all night wondering if dog exists) — Scott has gone after atheists in a big way lately, and caught plenty of reddit-hell for it. Good. He’s right: Full-on atheism is just as intellectually indefensible as religion.

This brings me to atheists. In order to be certain that God doesn’t exist, you have to possess a godlike mental capacity – the ability to be 100% certain. A human can’t be 100% certain about anything. Our brains aren’t that reliable. Therefore, to be a true atheist, you have to believe you are the very thing that you argue doesn’t exist: God.

I don’t particularly like the way he frames his argument as a percentage; it seems too much like gambling on Heaven (but that’s what it is, at least according to western religion). This is known as Pascal’s Wager:

Chief among the alleged flaws in Pascal’s argument is that you still have to pick the correct religion among many, or else you go to Hell anyway.Sure. But picking any religion that promises salvation slightly improves your odds over picking an option that doesn’t. You’re still probably doomed, given your bad religion-picking skills, but a one-in-a-million chance of reducing the risk of eternal Hell is a move worth taking, mathmatically speaking.

I don’t subscribe to this theory since I’m an asshole — an asshole who thinks it’s more important to find out the truth than to assure yourself a slot in heaven at the good table. In that respect I have a lot in common with the atheists who are eviscerating Scott all over the internet.

But why should they care?

If they were so secure in their position they wouldn’t be calling for his head, would they?

Many atheists claimed to be “weak atheists”, which is sort of like saying you prefer a shade of whitish-black. Just say “gray”, okay? The word “agnostic” already exists; use it.

So, much of the argument is semantics-based bickering. Tiring of this, Scott moved in for the kill — or so it seems. Like a cat batting around a mouse he’s just torturing these people and mocking their cognitive dissonance (ah… a man after my own heart).

The phrase “weak atheist” is apparently nothing but a weasel self-label for agnostics who have picked a side and don’t want to be seen as giving any opening to religion. It is politics disguised as philosophy.

As Scott pointed out, we can know a priori that atheism is not logical: If you admit you are not omniscient or omnipotent how can you claim to know whether or not an omnipotent or omniscient being exists? Or put more simply: how can atheism be proven true when you can’t prove a negative? Doesn’t that make it a faith, a religion?!

Cult of Nothingness
Oh man, nothing gets atheists more pissed off then calling their movement a religion. First they get angry, then they gather in communities like chatrooms and reinforce each others’ beliefs, hand out matching T-shirts and start setting up temples dedicated to their faith.

Oops.

They even have their high priests and holy writ. I guess atheism is big business — if you can get enough people to buy into it.

And that’s the problem, isn’t it? Aren’t most of us fed up with organized religion and all the attendant bullshit? No offense to the believers out there, but much of what is known about early Christianity, for example, reveals its modern branches as spawned from hoaxes, lies and ignorance. The Bible was not written by “God.” It was written by men, who say that it was written by God. Big difference, that.

Semantic Saṃsāra
Well, the natural reaction to the bullshit of Christianity is atheism. But wait a minute; how do you know atheism is any better? Well for all the reasons above, you don’t. Furthermore, you’re following an “-ism” — a meme, a movement, a faith, an order. And isn’t that what got you neck deep in Popeshit in the first place?

So what’s the answer?

Well, look at the atheist Scott got all riled up:

Perhaps if he had spent even a small amount of time researching the matter, he’d have learned what the difference between weak atheism and agnosticism is — and at the same time, he might have even learned how and why everything he wrote in his post was either factually incorrect or logically incoherent.

He makes a fair point in his link about atheists merely denying belief in a god rather than asserting gods don’t exist. Fair enough, but it’s a semantics game, buddy! Agnosticism staked out that turf long ago.

His rejoinder:

Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge — it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not.

Splitting hairs! None of us can claim to know for certain, except for the specious claims of religious zealots… and a few atheist zealots in the other direction as well. If we accept his argument that:

An agnostic atheist won’t claim to know for sure that nothing warranting the label “god” exists or that such cannot exist, but they also don’t actively believe that such an entity does indeed exist.

How is such a belief different from just saying “I’m agnostic”? It’s 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. His semantic games probably help to win arguments, but his tactic of dividing people up into lots of different sects sounds a lot like religion to me. It’s the natural recourse of a zealot who’s experiencing cognitive dissonance.

It’s also a way of dissociating yourself from the truly nutball atheists — the “strong atheists” or whatever he would call’em. Fair enough, those people are stupid. But it seems to me like a lot of atheists are actually agnostics who have taken an atheistic stance until such a time as god is proved one way or another.

Why not just call’em what they are: fence-sitters. Agnostics. Agnosticism, by the way, generally outweighs belief, at least among the logical. Most of us are not ready to believe in a god we
don’t know. How can you tell it’s a good god if you don’t know its properties? Saying you don’t worship something you don’t know seems redundant, but I’ll grant that there are probably crazy people out there who worship gigantic invisible hammers or something.

The Stain of Christianity

To me, saying you’re an agnostic is sensible, but taking it one step further and saying you’re an agnostic atheist is presumptuous. Given that, to date, humanity has proven the existence of exactly zero gods, doesn’t it seem like putting the cart before the horse to say you don’t honor any of the thousands of gods that may or may not be out there? If, for example, humans knew of the existence of 1, 2, 10 or 2000 gods, then fine. You can say, “All of these gods suck. I’m an atheist.” That would be logical, but dismissing the panoply of possible gods beforehand is a logical leap that rigorous thinkers should not make. Perhaps there’s a big-tittied goddess out there who has no worship requirement, but has lots of great advice for lovemaking, thoughtful advice for living happily and the promise of eternal life. Many of the greco-roman gods were totally horny, and pretty tolerant, too. Don’t forget those Vedic gods who were into tantric sex rites. Are you gonna pass that shit up?

Atheists are, ironically, letting the blinders of Judeo-Christian tradition blind them and limit their imagination. I, for instance, don’t accept the notion that there can only be one god and he must be male (…somehow), omnipotent and omniscient. One can be extremely powerful without being all-powerful. Atheists are too concerned with the Christian conception of god and are letting those assumptions fuck with their logic. I would encourage so called atheists to explore eastern religions, many of which are more properly called “philosophies”, to get a good feel for belief outside of the Judeo-Christian deathgrip. Some suggestions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Confucianism.

Subdivisions
There’s that “-ism” suffix again. Atheists are as guilty of it as anybody. Isn’t that a lot of busywork, subdividing yourself down to a certain sect, all so you can feel some sense of belonging, of having that “god” thing squared away? Done. Full stop. Finished. Problem solved.

But it isn’t quite that easy, isn’t it? Atheism is making alliances with other groups, such as hardcore fans of evolution and science in general. It’s growing and becoming a money-making venture and it’s increasingly gaining clout, especially on the internet. Atheism, in its way, affects all of us, and will do so even more in the future. In time it could become a political force and when that happens atheism will become just as corrupt and controlling as Christianity.

Atheists have a stigma — right or wrong — of being close-minded, of having decided something. That, to me, is the most dangerous part. Faith, god, reality, truth — these things are too important to just put in some box. Then again, maybe I’m just a contrarian or a purist because I wouldn’t call myself a Christian simply because some fellow ‘Christians’ would include Hitler and G.W. Bush.

Seeker of Truth
So now that I’ve criticized everybody else, what do I think? Fair question. I think that what’s important is not who or what you believe in, but that you try to find some truth. Life is a quest, and as long as you keep searching for truth or a clue or whatever, you’ll be okay. I believe that ‘seekers’ are safe in the eyes of any benevolent god.

Given a malevolent one, you’re fucked either way.

If there’s no god, oh well, at least you looked. If you’re not going to search how can you really mock the religious folks? Shit, that’s every atheists’ hobby, isn’t it? Their true tenet, their sacrament, I think, is to mock religious dumbshits. And god bless’em for that. I enjoy doing the same. But if you’re gonna talk the talk, you should walk the walk.

Ultimately, it about responsibility. If you’re labeling yourself with a convenient “-ism” you’re not really thinking. Take responsibility for your own faith or lack thereof and try to improve your level of knowledge. Lumping yourself in with a group is too easy. Everybody has different beliefs, so why do we gotta keep making these walls, these sects and strictly delineated sets of believers?

It just makes it easier for people to manipulate us, and isn’t that what atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers have tried to escape for centuries?

What I think we need is 6.5 billion people courageous enough to believe in 6.5 billion personal religions without killing each other, or amassing followers. … Yeah right. A guy can dream.

In the meantime, I guess we’ll have to get used to atheism as a legitimate “faith” in this country. There’s just one problem: I don’t believe atheism really exists! Haha, okay, I’m joking, but the point is that most so-called atheists are actually more agnostic when you come right down to it. But who knows, I could be wrong and as such I’m keeping my options open.

The only thing I know for sure is that people who claim they know “The One True Path” are full of shit. Fuck them. Find your own path.

There’s a great article in the NY Times about those Americans who did not support the American Revolution in 1776. The author’s guess is that around 20% of the population did not support the revolution. It should not be surprising; people are rarely in harmonious, unanimous agreement about… anything. But it’s worth bearing in mind.

During three days in November 1776, this petition sat in Scott’s Tavern, on Wall Street, to be signed by anyone who wished. A frank declaration of dependence, it completely lacks the revolutionary genius and rhetorical grace of our hallowed July 4 document. Yet in all, more than 700 people put their names to the parchment — 12 times the number who signed the Declaration of Independence. Among the signatories were pillars of New York society: wealthy merchants like Hugh Wallace, who commanded vast tracts of land and capital; members of some of New York’s most prominent families, the DeLanceys, the Livingstons and the Philipses; and the clergymen Charles Inglis and Samuel Seabury, who published articulate rebuttals to rebel pamphlets like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.”

I’m probably the only person on the planet who thinks the American Revolution was ultimately a failure…. because we were reconquered by the British a hundred years ago. Notice that the petition was situated on Wall Street. Well, some things haven’t changed. Wall Street was then and is now, home to the “Royalists”, if you will. The “moneyed interests” were defeated in 1776, but the wealth and power Britain wielded was immense. In time, Britain was able to get a toehold in her former colony using that most diabolic of weapons: Money. As a young nation we were starved for it and didn’t really care where it came from.

A certain class formed, primarily on the east coast, right around New York (the “Empire State”), whose allegiance was to power; not America. I suppose it wasn’t the British reconquering us so much as the old guard reasserting its power against a young upstart.

Still, the British connection is worth looking into. Why do we care about the Queen or Princess Diana? Wall Street is associated with the CIA, and the CIA is closely tied with MI6. Our intelligence apparatus is intrinsically bound with that of Britain and her other wayward colony, Australia. The UK/USA axis is currently the strongest in the world. It does seem a bit odd that our closest ally (in Iraq and other places) is our old colonial master, doesn’t it? I suppose after WWII some old wounds were forgotten (or forgiven, anyway). But it is curious that we have such enmity in this country for France, the nation that gave us the Statue of Liberty and helped us fight against the British.

Here we are, in a nation that is clearly ruled for the rich, by the rich. Are we independent from the British? Perhaps, but what does it matter if we’re not independent of tyranny? A new tyranny rules these lands, and it’s called crypto-fascism. We wouldn’t be much better off under the thumb of the British police state. Freedom seems to slip away over time, as cowards have their say and convenience trumps idealism time and time again. It’s true what Jefferson said:

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

But the hard part, as always, is figuring out who’s a patriot and who’s a tyrant. I can give you a few hints, though: In a hierarchical society whose class system is based on accumulated wealth the poor folks certainly do not have a chance to be tyrants, whereas those sitting at the top of the pyramid might behave like aristocrats without even realizing it.

Let’s hope Thomas Jefferson doesn’t rise from the dead anytime soon. We’ll feel like the Native American tribes who sold vast tracts of land for nothing more than beads, trinkets and gunpowder. I doubt Jefferson will be nearly as impressed with our high-definition TVs as we might be.

“You exchanged your God-given Freedom for WHAT?!!” he’ll say.

“Hey, c’mon — these beads are really shiny!”