Let's say that the consensus is that our species, being the higher primates, Homo Sapiens, has been on the planet for at least 100,000 years, maybe more. Francis Collins says maybe 100,000. Richard Dawkins thinks maybe a quarter-of-a-million. I'll take 100,000. In order to be a Christian, you have to believe that for 98,000 years, our species suffered and died, most of its children dying in childbirth, most other people having a life expectancy of about 25 years, dying of their teeth. Famine, struggle, bitterness, war, suffering, misery, all of that for 98,000 years.Heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then 2000 years ago, thinks 'That's enough of that. It's time to intervene,' and the best way to do this would be by condemning someone to a human sacrifice somewhere in the less literate parts of the Middle East. Don't lets appeal to the Chinese, for example, where people can read and study evidence and have a civilization. Let's go to the desert and have another revelation there. This is nonsense. It can't be believed by a thinking person.Why am I glad this is the case? To get to the point of the wrongness of Christianity, because I think the teachings of Christianity are immoral. The central one is the most immoral of all, and that is the one of vicarious redemption. You can throw your sins onto somebody else, vulgarly known as scapegoating. In fact, originating as scapegoating in the same area, the same desert. I can pay your debt if I love you. I can serve your term in prison if I love you very much. I can volunteer to do that. I can't take your sins away, because I can't abolish your responsibility, and I shouldn't offer to do so. Your responsibility has to stay with you. There's no vicarious redemption. There very probably, in fact, is no redemption at all. It's just a part of wish-thinking, and I don't think wish-thinking is good for people either.It even manages to pollute the central question, the word I just employed, the most important word of all: the word love, by making love compulsory, by saying you MUST love. You must love your neighbour as yourself, something you can't actually do. You'll always fall short, so you can always be found guilty. By saying you must love someone who you also must fear. That's to say a supreme being, an eternal father, someone of whom you must be afraid, but you must love him, too. If you fail in this duty, you're again a wretched sinner. This is not mentally or morally or intellectually healthy.And that brings me to the final objection - I'll condense it, Dr. Orlafsky - which is, this is a totalitarian system. If there was a God who could do these things and demand these things of us, and he was eternal and unchanging, we'd be living under a dictatorship from which there is no appeal, and one that can never change and one that knows our thoughts and can convict us of thought crime, and condemn us to eternal punishment for actions that we are condemned in advance to be taking. All this in the round, and I could say more, it's an excellent thing that we have absolutely no reason to believe any of it to be true.
Ultimately, totalitarianism is the only sort of politics that can truly serve the sky-god's purpose. Any movement of a liberal nature endangers his authority and that of his delegates on earth. One God, one King, one Pope, one master in the factory, one father-leader in the family at home.
History has seen many who claim to be deliverer and saviour of the people. They might come with force and violence and parade their might and splendour as conquerors. The pharaohs of Egypt, Sennacherib king of Assyria, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Darius of Persia, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Napoleon, Clive of India, Bismarck, the Kaiser, Hitler, Stalin. The story and scene is always the same. They claim to deliver the people from bondage and to establish justice, freedom and peace. They come in might, riding in splendour, dragging prisoners.
I saw exactly one picture of Marx and one of Lenin in my whole stay, but it's been a long time since ideology had anything to do with it. Not without cunning, Fat Man and Little Boy gradually mutated the whole state belief system into a debased form of Confucianism, in which traditional ancestor worship and respect for order become blended with extreme nationalism and xenophobia. Near the southernmost city of Kaesong, captured by the North in 1951, I was taken to see the beautifully preserved tombs of King and Queen Kongmin. Their significance in F.M.-L.B. cosmology is that they reigned over a then unified Korea in the 14th century, and that they were Confucian and dynastic and left many lavish memorials to themselves. The tombs are built on one hillside, and legend has it that the king sent one of his courtiers to pick the site. Second-guessing his underling, he then climbed the opposite hill. He gave instructions that if the chosen site did not please him he would wave his white handkerchief. On this signal, the courtier was to be slain. The king actually found that the site was ideal. But it was a warm day and he forgetfully mopped his brow with the white handkerchief. On coming downhill he was confronted with the courtier's fresh cadaver and exclaimed, 'Oh dear.' And ever since, my escorts told me, the opposite peak has been known as 'Oh Dear Hill.'I thought this was a perfect illustration of the caprice and cruelty of absolute leadership, and began to phrase a little pun about Kim Jong Il being the 'Oh Dear Leader,' but it died on my lips.
I agree with Abhijit Naskar that the path of tolerance is the only way—but it must be accompanied by continued pressure to break down barriers to access to information, so that our tolerance isn’t exploited to further the ends of totalitarian religious groups.
Most schooling is training for stupidity and conformity, and that's institutional, but occasionally you get a spark, somebody'll challenge your mind, make you think and so on, and that has a tremendous effect you just reach all sorts of people. Of course if you do it you may very have problems, you have to tread the narrow line. There are plenty of people who don't want students to think, they're afraid of the crisis of democracy. If people start thinking you get all these problems that I quoted before. They won't have enough humility to submit to a civil rule or they'll start trying to press their demands in the political arena and have ideas of their own, instead of beleiving what they're told. And privelage and power typically doesn't want that and so they react and the high school teacher that tries to get students to think may find oppression, firing and so on.
Politicians in our times feed their clichés to television, where even those who wish to disagree repeat them. Television purports to challenge political language by conveying images, but the succession from one frame to another can hinder a sense of resolution. Everything happens fast, but nothing actually happens. Each story on televised news is ”breaking” until it is displaced by the next one. So we are hit by wave upon wave but never see the ocean.The effort to define the shape and significance of events requires words and concepts that elude us when we are entranced by visual stimuli. Watching televised news is sometimes little more than looking at someone who is also looking at a picture. We take this collective trance to be normal. We have slowly fallen into it.More than half a century ago, the classic novels of totalitarianism warned of the domination of screens, the suppression of books, the narrowing of vocabularies, and the associated difficulties of thought. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, published in 1953, firemen find and burn books while most citizens watch interactive television. In George Orwell’s 1984, published in 1949, books are banned and television is two-way, allowing the government to observe citizens at all times. In 1984, the language of visual media is highly constrained, to starve the public of the concepts needed to think about the present, remember the past, and consider the future. One of the regime’s projects is to limit the language further by eliminating ever more words with each edition of the official dictionary.Staring at screens is perhaps unavoidable, but the two-dimensional world makes little sense unless we can draw upon a mental armory that we have developed somewhere else. When we repeat the same words and phrases that appear in the daily media, we accept the absence of a larger framework. To have such a framework requires more concepts, and having more concepts requires reading. So get the screens out of your room and surround yourself with books. The characters in Orwell’s and Bradbury’s books could not do this—but we still can.
At a time I used to think that in a world without guards people would walk differently from the way we do in our country. Where people are allowed to think and write differently, I thought, they will also walk differently.
A Stalin functionary admitted, Innocent people were arrested: naturally - otherwise no one would be frightened. If people, he said, were arrested only for specific misdemeanours, all the others would feel safe and so become ripe for treason.
Stalin’s Russia was a trap, in which even those running the system were caught. The leaders were trapped by fear of Stalin and even he was trapped by his fear of their desire to be rid of him. Everything he had to eat or drink had to be tasted by one of his colleagues first. Beria’s behavior at his death showed that his fear was only partly paranoia.
Our forefathers were heroes. But why were they heroes? Because they fought for democracy. They fought for the life and liberty of the Filipino people. They fought for our independence, our freedom. They fought against tyranny, totalitarianism, and dictatorship. They fought for us and that is something we must be grateful for.
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?
Despotic governments can stand 'moral force' till the cows come home, what they fear is physical force.
It was sometimes feebly argued, as the political and military war against this enemy ran into difficulties, that it was 'a war without end.' I never saw the point of this plaintive objection. The war against superstition and the totalitarian mentality is an endless war. In protean forms, it is fought and refought in every country and every generation. In bin Ladenism we confront again the awful combination of the highly authoritarian personality with the chaotically nihilist and anarchic one. Temporary victories can be registered against this, but not permanent ones. As Bertold Brecht's character says over the corpse of the terrible Arturo Ui, the bitch that bore him is always in heat. But it is in this struggle that we develop the muscles and sinews that enable us to defend civilization, and the moral courage to name it as something worth fighting for.
The entire stock of relationships which suited in war—militiae—was regarded as inadmissible and improper in peace—domi. We have the measure of how right the Romans were in this respect in the experience of the intellectual and moral impoverishment brought about by total mobilisation.
The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labour. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects, and its object is not victory over Eurasia or Eastasia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.Julia? Are you awake? There is truth, and there is untruth. To be in a minority of one doesn't make you mad.
The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country.
When enough people understand reality, tyrants can literally be ignored out of existence. They can't ever be voted out of existence.
Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disres
Technology is neutral. But the process of technology will cause a free world to become ever freer, and a totalitarian world to become ever more repressive.
Socialists seem to think George Orwell’s 1984 is a suggestion, or at least are unashamed of mimicking the methods of the totalitarian state Orwell depicted. Libertarians know it to be a warning, and a government that micro-manages all aspects of humanity an intolerable reality.
Democratic Socialism is simply Totalitarianism that allows you the illusion of a voice in the matter.
Government as we now know it in the USA and other economically advanced countries is so manifestly horrifying, so corrupt, counterproductive, and outright vicious, that one might well wonder how it continues to enjoy so much popular legitimacy and to be perceived so widely as not only tolerable but indispensable. The answer, in overwhelming part, may be reduced to a two-part formula: bribes and bamboozlement (classically bread and circuses). Under the former rubric falls the vast array of government benefits and goodies of all sorts, from corporate subsidies and privileges to professional grants and contracts to welfare payments and health care for low-income people and other members of the lumpenproletariat. Under the latter rubric fall such measures as the government schools, the government's lapdog news media, and the government's collaboration with the producers of professional sporting events and Hollywood films. Seen as a semi-integrated whole, these measures give current governments a strong hold on the public's allegiance and instill in the masses and the elites alike a deep fear of anything that seriously threatens the status quo.
Never has our future been more unpredictable, never have we depended so much on political forces that cannot be trusted to follow the rules of common sense and self-interest—forces that look like sheer insanity, if judged by the standards of other centuries. It is as though mankind had divided itself between those who believe in human omnipotence (who think that everything is possible if one knows how to organize masses for it) and those for whom powerlessness has become the major experience of their lives.
On the 'Celestial Seasonings' green tea packet there is a short explanation of its benefits: 'Green tea is a natural source of antioxidants, which neutralize harmful molecules in the body known as free radicals. By taming free radicals, antioxidants help the body maintain its natural health.' Mutatis mutandis, is not the notion of totalitarianism one of the main ideological antioxidants, whose function throughout its career was to tame free radicals, and thus to help the social body to maintain its politico-ideological good health?
I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that 'issue' I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity.
Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. Everyone writes of them in one guise or another. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows. And the more one is conscious of one's political bias, the more chance one has of acting politically without sacrificing one's aesthetic and intellectual integrity.
Such is the control, and such the public mentality, enjoyed by the Swedish planners. The rulers of the Soviet Union, although favoured by despotic power, are not so fortunate. Obstructively resentful of officialdom, the Russian, in the words of the Spanish saying, has always known how orders are 'to be obeyed but not carried out'. To the Swede, that sort of compromise is downright immoral. His elected leaders have received those political blessings denied the autocrats in the Kremlin: compliant citizens and an unopposed bureaucracy.
That unique Moscow mix of tackiness and menace. One time I see a poster advertising a new property development that captures the tone nicely. Got up in the style of Nazi propaganda, it shows two Germanic-looking youths against a glorious alpine mountain over the slogan Life is Getting Better. It would be wrong to say the ad is humorous, but it's not quite serious either. It's sort of both. It's saying this is the society we live in (a dictatorship), but we're just playing at it (we can make jokes about it), but playing in a serious way (we're making money playing it and won't let anyone subvert its rules).
I cannot, of course, prove that there is no supervising deity who invigilates my every momentand who will pursue me even after I am dead. (I can only be happy that there is no evidence forsuch a ghastly idea, which would resemble a celestial North Korea in which liberty was not justimpossible but inconceivable.) But nor has any theologian ever demonstrated the contrary. Thiswould perhaps make the believer and the doubter equal—except that the believer claims to know,not just that God exists, but that his most detailed wishes are not merely knowable but actuallyknown. Since religion drew its first breath when the species lived in utter ignorance andconsiderable fear, I hope I may be forgiven for declining to believe that another human being cantell me what to do, in the most intimate details of my life and mind, and to further dictate theseterms as if acting as proxy for a supernatural entity. This tyrannical idea is very much older than P a g e | 5 of 29Christianity, of course, but I do sometimes think that Christians have less excuse for believing, letalone wishing, that such a horrible thing could be true.
the believer claims to know, not just that God exists, but that his most detailed wishes are not merely knowable but actually known. Since religion drew its first breath when the species lived in utter ignorance and considerable fear, I hope I may be forgiven for declining to believe that another human being can tell me what to do, in the most intimate details of my life and mind, and to further dictate these terms as if acting as proxy for a supernatural entity.
Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.
The crisis of history in France, is a crisis of social bond, a crisis of citizenship. A citizen is the heir of a past more or less mythified, but he makes his own, whatever his personal genealogy. Today, under the pretext that the country has undergone considerable changes, some would like to transform the past in order to adopt it to the new face of France. Nothing, however, will make the past anything other than what it was. To pretend to change history is a totalitarian project: One who has control of the past has control over the future, one who has control over the present has control over the past, as George Orwell wrote in 1984.
The most striking difference between the ancient and modern sophists is that the ancients were satisfied with a passing victory of the argument at the expense of truth, whereas the moderns want a more lasting victory at the expense of reality. In other words, one destroyed the dignity of human thought whereas the others destroy the dignity of human action. The old manipulators of logic were the concern of the philosopher, whereas the modern manipulators of facts stand in the way of the historian. For history itself is destroyed, and its comprehensibility—based upon the fact that it is enacted by men and therefore can be understood by men—is in danger, whenever facts are no longer held to be part and parcel of the past and present world, and are misused to prove this or that opinion.