Friday, March 5, 2010

What is the Fundamentalist War Against "Materialism" Really About?

Nowadays it is virtually universal among right wing authoritarians, creationists and Intelligent Design proponents to say that there is a religion called "materialism" that is supposedly adhered to by all scientists that believe in evolution (which is to say, 99.99% of scientists.) They can't argue about the evidence for theories like evolution, global warming or whatever it is that makes life less cushy for their leadership. So they basically pull a 'tu quoque': "That's just your religion!"

Right wing fundamentalists blame this alleged religion "materialism" for inspiring fascism and its opposite, communism, global warming and its opposite, global cooling, racism and its opposite one-worldism, atheism and its opposites, satanism and Islam (yeah, those too) and several other mutually exclusive philosophies.

In my previous post I described how right wing authoritarians make coffee-spittingly funny errors (or outright lies) about the most basic science as part of their fake war against this so-called "Materialism".

Now let's ask: when right wing authoritarians say that the great threat nowadays is "materialism", what do they mean by "materialism"? They will tell you that it's atheism, or the belief that matter is all that exists. However, they're not being honest; even their terminology is fake. Let's try to figure out what this campaign is really promoting.

Since Rebecca Bynum wrote this article describing how "materialism" supposedly diminishes the value of human beings, let's try and figure out what that really means.

Here comes the money shot! This next quote is the whole reason why Bynum wrote her article. In this statement, Bynum knows she's being dishonest, so she tries to sneak it past us like a shoplifting teenager with a Sony Playstation under her sweater:
Islam is, in essence, an extremely materialistic religion with many similarities to secular materialism: both remove human dignity and envision man as a slave. [Source.]
Excuse me young lady, what do have under your sweater!? Oh, we see what you did there! An equation of "secular materialism" with Islamic terrorism! Now Bynum knows this statement is logically incoherent, and she knows she has no facts to back it up.

Nevertheless, note that she is now defining "materialism" so that it includes Muslims, who believe in Abraham's God, Jesus' virgin birth and eternal Paradise. tell me again what do right wing authoritarians mean when they say "materialism", anyway?

(Back on round Earth, Muslim extremists and terrorists in their own words say they hate "materialism" and "secularism" with the same fervor as Christian fundamentalists, and directly copy the language and arguments of US Christian fundamentalists (just substitute Yahweh-->Allah). This point is important enough that I'll detail it in a later blog post.)

But, to underscore that the war against fake "materialism" is not really against the belief that matter is all that exists, consider what fundamentalists say about the many scientists who believe in evolution and in God--famous ones include Ken Miller, Harold Varmus, Francis Collins (head of the NIH), and whole organizations like the American Scientific Affiliation.

Right wing anti-science authoritarians hate evolutionists who believe in God even more than they hate the atheists. Collins' pro-evolution faith tank, BioLogos, is a target at the anti-evolution website Uncommon Descent.

And the Creation Society of Mid-America (CSAMA), led by Tom 'death camp' Willis, tell us that evolutionists must be denied the right to vote and violently expelled from society, especially if they believe in God: a sane society, evolutionists should not be allowed to vote, or influence laws or people in any way! They should, perhaps, make bricks to earn enough to eat.

...the theistic evolutionist must look squarely at us and declare "I believe in God, but the Bible, real empirical and theoretical science are all wrong..." This is even worse than the atheists. Historically, those who claim belief in God, but elevate human opinion or tradition over the Bible, have always performed as badly any atheist. If you had any say, would you allow such a person to influence, in any way, what citizens ought, by law, to do?

...The arrogance displayed by the evolutionist class is totally unwarrented [sic]. The facts warrent [sic] the violent expulsion of all evolutionists from civilized society. I am quite serious...

[Source: Should Evolutionists Be Allowed to Vote? CSAMA Newsletter Volume 25(4) July-Aug, 2008. Emphasis mine.]
Consciously mimicking Hitler, Willis and CSAMA now say that all evolutionists, whether they believe in God or not, can live as long as their slave labor is productive in creationists' death camps: "Labor camps...their life should continue only as long as they can support themselves in the camps."

Let's be clear: this is not about atheism. They use science as a scapegoat in a political, materialist agenda of their own. If you believe in God, it is not enough to get you protection from right wing authoritarians and corporatist fundamentalists.

So if the right wing Christian (and Muslim) fake campaigns against "materialism" aren't really against the belief that matter is all that exists--then what are they about?

People who are pro-science (not necessarily scientists, nor atheists) tend to judge people by consistent standards: Do they make obviously, factually false statements? Are their predictions always wrong? Do they support mass killing or prejudice? What leaders do they put in power? Have they been held accountable for past false statements or false prophecies or outright crimes?

This cannot be tolerated. If judged by consistent standards, right wing fundamentalist leaders would simply be revealed as cruel, heartless bigots and calculating defenders of corporate plutocracy. So, to rationalize their cruelest agendas and most dishonest statements, right wing fundamentalist leaders require a unique right, exclusive to them, to invoke their "infallible" authority-- their "absolute authority", as creationist Ken Ham (of Answers in Genesis fame) calls the purple robe he endlessly wraps himself in.

So fundamentalist leaders have two political, material objectives here: preserve their own infallible "absolute authority", a tool they use to inoculate themselves and to enable big corporations and the rich to escape accountability for whatever they steal or whatever damage they cause-- to distract your attention away from what the powerful and rich have been up to ('Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!')

So fundamentalists launched a marketing campaign in the material world with materialist objectives, and they call it "anti-materialism"!

That takes chutzpah.

Tom 'creationist Nazi' Willis is clear about his real priorities: "God the Father and Jesus are both capitalists."

He considers all public schools to be the first, number one form of what he calls "Antichrist/Socialism". Considering that Thomas Jefferson founded the public education movement in the USA, and James Madison promoted it, this would make the US Declaration of Independence a Satanic document.

Evolutionists gravitate to employment positions where knowledge, truth, character, logic, etc., are not needed, typically education and media. Antichrist/Socialists convinced most "modern" societies that the first activity that required state ownership and operation (socialism) was education, insuring incompetents had safe havens and that most children were raised by people who owe their income to socialism and had jobs where their religion was endorsed by the state.
[Source: CSAMA Newsletter, Volume 25(5) Sept-Oct, 2008. Emphasis mine.]

The abolition of public schools is CSAMA's number one goal, even ahead of death camps. 'Screw you, poor kids/Antichrists! Ghetto trash/Antichrists don't need to read!'

At the Intelligent Design website Uncommon Descent, Denyse O'Leary explains her deep hatred for "materialism": "If this is a culture war, I plead innocent for starting it. It was started by entrenched tax burdens."

Don't worry O'Leary, your tax burden will be lighter after the Creation Society of Mid-America gets rid of public schools for ghetto trash/Antichrists.

They say that their "worldview" and their "metaphysics" are essential, not just to their morality, but to any conceivable system of morality. Therefore, "materialism" supposedly leads to amorality.

But what the hell are their values? What values follow from their "worldview"?

If you do simple Google searches on creationist web sites (AIG or CMI), you find countless screeds against enemies and bogeymen and scapegoats that are way outside their supposed purview--the gays, premarital sex, Muslims, the scientists.

But nothing, nothing about rich corporations that commit crimes, or fraud, or engage in de facto pyramid schemes, or sell defective products that kill people.

Nothing about Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers, Countrywide Financial, nothing. Nobody rich. Ever.

As long as you believe in Christ, you can enrich yourself in any way possible, both with taxpayers' money through the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, or with African blood diamonds, or any which way you can get your hands on it, like Pat Robertson does.

I only found one--one--reference to corporate malfeasance among the anti-evolution, anti-science fundamentalists: Chuck Colson, convicted felon. Colson was part of the Watergate conspiracy, and said he was "valuable to the President ... because I was willing ... to be ruthless in getting things done."

In the 1970's, Colson encouraged vandalism and terrorism for Nixon. He proposed firebombing the Brookings Institution and stealing their documents, and was given the job of arranging the murder of peace protesters.

When it comes to anti-evolution, he is in favor of free speech:

I suggest you ignore the forces that would stifle all dissent, and take a look at [Michael] Behe’s book The Edge of Evolution. Even if you do not agree with everything in it, as I do not, you do not need to follow the Darwinist line that everything you disagree with must be squashed. Dare to think for yourself. You just might learn what the Darwinists and the anti-theists do not want you to know. [Source: The Christian Post. Emphasis mine.]
This is a little different from his behavior in the 1970's, when Colson was given the job of arranging Teamster thugs to murder peace protesters. From the Nixon tapes:

Haldeman: Colson’s gonna…do it with the Teamsters.

Nixon: They’ve got guys who’ll go in and knock their heads off.

Haldeman: Sure. Murderers... They’re gonna beat the [expletive deleted] out of some of those people. And, uh, and hope they really hurt’em.

[Source: The Family by Jeff Sharlet, p. 231. Emphasis mine.]

When it comes to people protesting for peace, he'll hire paid killers. But when it comes to anti-science, Mr. Free Thought complains about "the Darwinist line that everything you disagree with must be squashed."

Now let's see what Mr. Free Thought says about moral values for corporations, in this case, Enron. Again, this is the only reference to corporate malfeasance I can find among the anti-evolutionists:
...Has value-free post-modernity -- the fruit of modern secularism -- undermined the moral foundation essential for democratic capitalism?

...Now mind you, Enron's leaders were the best and the brightest, pillars of the community. Enron's chairman, Kenneth Lay, boasted he hired only graduates of the top business schools.

What Enron's collapse exposes is the glaring failure of these business schools. Ethics, you see, historically rests on absolute truth, which our top schools have systematically assaulted for four decades. And business school graduates leave the schools, as I discovered when I lectured at Harvard Business School ten years ago, without a clue about ethics.

But the Enron debacle does offer a good chance for Christians to contend for the Biblical worldview in the economic marketplace. The Scriptures endorse concepts like private property, contract rights, and the discharge of debts -- all essential to free markets...

...The lesson of history, which our neighbors need to understand, is that capitalism is healthy only when subject to moral restraints derived ultimately from religious truth. [Source. Emphasis mine.]

Notice that Colson is blaming Enron's malfeasance on "secularism". Our schools are to blame, he implies, for not being right wing enough. Our business schools--which (along with economics departments) are the only part of modern universities dominated by right wing professors. But for Colson, the solution to problems caused by right wing values is... more extreme right wing values.

I got a couple questions about this:

First, what "moral constraints" was Colson subject to when he wanted to engage in terrorism, theft and murder in the 1970's?

Second, how'd that project of using the Enron collapse to contend for Biblical morality in the marketplace turn out?

Not very well, apparently, considering what happened in September 2008. Or, maybe that was the kind of success they wanted after all.

A few people got rich from the destruction of the economy, after all. So, success, by the standards of right wing fundamentalists.

Anyway, Colson gets lots of money from you and me and other US taxpayers through the Office of Faith-Based intitiatives. We pay for his fame and self-aggrandizement.

Thanks to this US taxpayer-funded fame, the Templeton Foundation gave him their $1 million prize.

Compare the anti-scientists' near-complete silence regarding corporate malfeasance, against their deafening screeches about gay sex.

Creationist Jonathan Sarfati, pro-infanticide genocidalist asshole of Creation Ministries International, calls gays "homonazis", "sodomofascists" and the "Gay-stapo" in this post.

No corporation, no rich person, ever has been, or ever will be compared by fundamentalists to the Nazis, no matter how many people they impoverish, no matter how many pension funds are destroyed.

Sarfati calls the gays "the Gay-stapo" because he wishes to compound the murder of a young gay man, Matthew Shepard, by slandering him after he is dead these many years:

How precious can you get? Homosexuals are now a politically protected victim group, about which it is verboten to say anything negative. And certain homonazis want Christians punished if they quote from the Bible against homosexual behavior...

...the vile murder of the 21-year-old homosexual Matthew Shepard by young thugs he had propositioned was front page news as an alleged anti-gay ‘hate crime’, and blamed on conservative Christians...

(Actually, six years after the murder, the media finally researched the case properly and found that Shepard’s killers were motivated by money and drugs, while the savagery was fueled by methamphetamine abuse not anti-gay hate.)

[Source: Creation Ministries International. Emphasis mine.]

Whenever Sarfati writes "Actually, reasearchers found...", you should sure as hell double-check his sources. He's wrong, of course. Shepard did not proposition his killers, according to police detectives who handled the case.

Note Sarfati's logic: he does trust the murderers when they said at trial that a gay attacked them sexually-- the murderers being the only source of that story. But then Sarfati does not trust the murderers when in 1999 they said that Shepard did not proposition them. And again Sarfati does not trust the murderers when they said under oath at the 1998 trial that they killed him because he was gay. But then, Sarfati is back to trusting the murderers again when in 2004 they change their story and say they didn't hate gays after all. Is there any logic to this? For Sarfati, sure, asshole logic: he believes anything and everything that makes gays look perverted, and makes Christians look like the real oppressed class.

Yes, even after gay people get murdered, are dead and presumably can do no harm to fundamentalists, Sarfati has to lie about them and slander them to compound the crime.

But corporations get a free pass, even after they destroy our financial system and drive the economy into the ground.

No matter what they call it, what the right wing authoritarians push here is a marketing campaign with materialist motives, and they call it anti-materialism.

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