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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Do not answer fools according to their folly

Do not answer fools according to their folly,
or you will be a fool yourself.
Answer fools according to their folly,
or they will be wise in their own eyes.
Proverbs  26: 4-5

I generally resist getting drawn into the puerile spats that characterize so much of what passes for discussion forums on the Internet.  Proverbs provides the rationale for avoiding such exchanges.   But on occasion, the scurrility makes factual assertions that are too maliciously false not to address.  

A raging soul full of  sound and fury visited the Beacon and left  one of those messages that cause both derision and despair.  I hesitate to answer that sound and fury and the false accusations spewed forth, but falseness must be identified and refuted lest the more discerning souls think I assent to the foolery.

The comments were provoked by the posting of a link to a story about the unlimited and often secret spending by corporations on election campaigns.  My position is that corporations are given unbridled rights, while individuals have severe restrictions put on the donations they make.  Individuals do not have protection under the law any where near what corporations do.  If individuals behave like corporations in their spending on corporations, they are under severe penalties of law.  

The main bone of contention is that corporations can pour unlimited funds into campaigns in order to dominate the media.  And there are a multitude of loopholes by which corporate money can be kept secret.  They have rights that the rest of us don't.

Timothy Egan succinctly and clearly defines the inequalities created by the recent Supreme Court decision to regard corporations as individuals:

Your average voter can dash off a letter to the editor, or fire up a blog, or put up a yard sign — a nice fantasy of citizen democracy. Your corporate equal can spend $23 million (the outsider amount spent so far in Colorado) to bludgeon the electorate. And, with loopholes in the tax system, they can do it while making it virtually impossible to know who they are.

The comment argues that corporations are created,owned, and supported by people.  So are the Mafia and Mexican drug cartels.  And they are run for the same purposes:  to acquire money and power over other people.   

The comment begins by stating that I have the same rights endowed by the creator and acknowledged by the Declaration.  We are still struggling to make equality, equal justice for all, and liberty available to all people.  Corporations and political factions, however, stand in the way.  The declaration of our inalienable rights did not make them manifest or factually inalienable.  We have had to fight for those rights every step of the way, had a civil war over them, and now face a quickly emerging plutarchy which flaunts the Declaration at every opportunity.   

This is not to say that there are no corporations who regard themselves as having the same rights and obligations as citizens, and who strive to be good citizens.  But then, there are those exemplified by the ones I list below.  

I distrust corporations.  Big corporations fall heir to the same dangers as  government, because they, too, are bureaucracies.  I name a few of the reasons for my distrust:  Enron, World Com., AIG, Lehman Brothers, BP,  Massey Energy, and all those fine corporate entities who created the recession we are struggling out of.  

 The  comment goes on to assert that my mind is clogged with Marxism and preoccupied with Marxist class war. It does not pay to engage someone who uses a word only as cudgel and has not the slightest knowledge of my history and thinking in regard to the many brands of Marxism or any but the crudest notion of what the word means.

First of all, I have a long history of opposing Marxism.  It began during the Cold War when I was assigned as part of my duties in West Germany to analyze propaganda.  I was among a group given training in order to monitor the communities where we had installations for any indications of communist organization.  The post I was  on had some unused barracks which housed a task force that was putting together a study under the direct order of President Eisenhower.  When the Korean War ended with a truce, he was very concerned and disturbed that a number of prisoners of war held by the North Koreans chose not to remain in North Korea rather than be repatriated to the U.S.  He wanted to know why Americans would make that choice.  The conclusions of the study resulted in an intensification of the desegregation of the military services and informed the background of Eisenhower's decision to send troops to Little Rock in September 1957 to desegregate the schools.  The study revealed the motive of the turn coats.  It was simple:  they were treated in the North Korean prison camps as prisoners of war with more respect, dignity, and a sense of equality than they were in their own country and in the service of their country's military.  The civil rights movement was in its early stages and the researchers who wrote the report warned that inequalities and oppression were setting up a form of alienation that made communism a more attractive prospect than the oppression under which minorities and the poor lived.  Marx did not invent the concept of alienation and class struggle; he defined on economic terms.  Some latter day disciples of Marx had developed a way to exploit these factors psychologically.  

The first order of business was to eliminate prejudice and racial discrimination in the military, and the second was to be alert for indications that people who felt alienated from their defeat in World War II might be politically exploited.  Put simply, this meant displaying America's best face.

However, beyond the political dangers of Marxist-based agitation was the fact that dialectical materialism operated on the corollary psychological theory of behaviorism.  This theory was even reflected in literary theory and criticism.  For a quarter of a century in America it was the dominant theory in education.  I have spent much of my professional life criticizing and opposing this brand of Marxism.  

Words have meaning.  The biggest danger to our world right now is people who use words only as weapons to incite hatred and create unbridgeable schisms among humankind.

I know and understand what Marxism is and how it is applied, and the accusation that I am immersed in theories of class envy malevolent presumption.  Being against slavery, oppression, lynching,  concentration camps and gas ovens, and exploitation of humans in any form is not a matter of class envy.  It is a matter of morality that transcends the dog pack theology of people like the errant visitor to this web log. 

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States