Connecting the Spiritual to the Political: Are Demons the Gods of the Nations?

Demons

Over the past couple of days, LewRockwell.com has been publishing stories that have dealt with, in one form or another, the Satanic. Today’s edition includes an excerpt from Murray Rothbard’s An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, in which he discussed, among other things, Karl Marx’s youthful poetry that contained Satanic themes or imagery. Yesterday, the site carried an RT News article discusses the disturbing rise of Satanic worship in America.

The timing of these articles is interesting, especially because they coincide with a fascinating series of posts by Richard Beck, a progressive theologian. In these posts, entitled “Idolatory, Oppression, and the Development of Demons”, Beck explores the development of demons in the Bible.

Beck begins these posts by writing:

In my book Reviving Old Scratch I make the claim that spirituality and politics have to be looked at together.

It seems hard for us to do that. When it comes to evil conservatives tend to spiritualize the issue, looking for demons behind every door and under every rock. Liberals, by contrast, tend to politicize evil, reducing spiritual warfare to the political fight for social justice.

And yet, throughout the Bible the spiritual and the political are interconnected and woven together. The political and the spiritual form a gestalt, a bigger picture greater than the sum of the individual parts. And as I argue in Reviving Old Scratch, when we miss the bigger picture we compromise our ability to become agents of light in a dark world.

One way to see the interconnection between the spiritual and the political is to examine the way demons develop in the Bible. In Chapter 11 of Reviving Old Scratch I tell a bit of this story, but I wanted to devote a series to this topic to bring in other material that I didn’t include in the book.

Specifically, I want to show how idolatry and oppression are woven together in how we see demons develop across the pages of the Old and New Testaments.

As a Catholic and libertarian, Beck’s claim that spirituality and politics are interconnected is fascinating to me. On the surface, it makes a lot of sense. If a person is healthy spiritually, he or she will interact with others in a healthy way. The inverse (i.e., if a person is not spiritually healthy) is also true.

While I’m not going through the specifics of Beck’s arguments, I’ll use this post to list all of Beck’s posts on this topic.

If you’re interested in how spirituarlity and politics intersect, I encourage you to read Beck’s posts.

Hillary uses campaign finance technique that she would outlaw once in office

In July, Hillary Clinton promised to introduce a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision within 30 days in office. As her spokesman put it:

“The amendment would allow Americans to establish common sense rules to protect against the undue influence of billionaires and special interests and to restore the role of average voters in elections.”

However, her promise doesn’t appear to be stopping Hillary from taking advantage of that undue influence while the getting is good.

ZeroHedge highlighted a Bloomberg study indicating that the Hillary Victory Fund is using state democratic committees to launder donations from wealthy individuals to the Democratic National Committee. In essence, wealthy donors can take advantage of the current framework of campaign finance laws to donate up to $366,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund. The fund then sends the maximum contributions to the Hillary For President campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and state democratic committees. The funding diagram looks like this:

Hillary Victory Fund

The beauty of this arrangement is that once the state democratic committees receive the funds, they have the flexibility to send it to the DNC, which can then decide which state and national campaigns, including Hillary’s, to finance.

Bloomberg also shows that 83% of all money distributed by state democratic committees to the DNC originated from donors that had already maxed out their $33,400 contributions to the DNC.

In other words, it appears that Hillary is taking advantage of the very loopholes she wishes to close once she becomes President.

How convenient.

Clinton preparing to link Trump to the alt-Right

The Washington Post is reporting that Hillary Clinton is preparing to link Donald Trump to the alt-Right:

A news release from the Hillary Clinton campaign on Tuesday morning contained a phrase that would have baffled those paying only casual attention to the presidential election — and baffled nearly everyone if it had been used 24 months ago.

“On Thursday, August 25,” it read, “Hillary Clinton will campaign in Reno, Nevada, and deliver a speech to address Donald Trump and his advisors’ embrace of the disturbing ‘alt-right’ political philosophy.” Understanding that “alt-right” might not immediately be understood by readers, the campaign offered a brief definition: “This ‘alt-right’ brand is embracing extremism and presenting a divisive and dystopian view of America which should concern all Americans, regardless of party.”

Superficially, this may make sense. It’s a great way to galvanize its base, which can be whipped up into a frenzy if their ever-increasing number of manufactured rights are questioned in any way.

On the other hand, this could easily backfire for two reasons.

First, one of the main criticisms of Trump is that he makes it up as he is going along. Trump’s speeches are target-rich environments of platitudes, fallacies, inconsistencies, and flat-out contradictions. However, by indicating that Trump is aligned to a political movement that actually believes something, then he just looks like any other idiotic politician.

Second, and most importantly, the move may backfire because it gives inadvertent legitimacy to ideas Hillary wants to discredit. As the Anonymous Conservative puts it:

Now Hillary is calling attention to the most K-selected corner of the internet, at the very moment that the nation is increasingly turning K. Turning more people into Stefan Molyneux fans, or exposing more people to Castalia House Publishing, just as the nation is turning K, is not going to help Hillary. I think it a good sign that her persuasion specialists are so blinded by the rabbit-like psychology of the r-strategy that they are so completely out of touch with both the nation and reality.

AC is writing from the perspective of what he calls “evolutionary psychology”, so I would like to translate what he is saying in plain English.

What Hillary’s psycho-political specialists are trying to do is frighten those psychologically beholden to the progressive status quo and encourage them to direct their venom towards Trump and his supporters. However, increasing numbers of Americans have become concerned, particularly since the financial crisis of 2008, that progressive policies are sucking dry our limited resources, yet many of them haven’t fully developed their thoughts in a way to articulate them. If Hillary’s advisers were smart, which they’re not, the last thing that should be done is to inform Americans that there is a political ideology, and political and cultural actors, that provide a voice to their concerns. Therefore, the ironic result of such a move would be to not only solidify, but also increase, support for Trump.

Meanwhile, the alt-Right is in the process of developing a coherent political philosophy. Vox Day recently documented 16 elements of an alt-Right philosophy that would be “an alternative to libertarianism”.

So at a time when progressive politics increasingly mean whatever the powers-that-be want it to mean at that moment in time, Hillary may inadvertently point Americans to a developing philosophy that speaks directly to their concerns.

Sounds like a winning plan to me.

 

 

Hillary Clinton was on the Jimmy Kimmel show last night

Because this election is a joke.

Never mind she hasn’t held a press conference for over 260 days. Clinton brushed aside any criticism as a laughing matter.

Of course, such an attitude fits The Narrative. She is the President-to-be. Trump is merely a clown.

Given Hillary’s haughty attitude and tremendous efforts to keep away from anything remotely resembling a tough question, this election might as well occur in some third-world backwater.

I used to think Jimmy Kimmel was funny. Now he’s just a tool.

Meanwhile, there has been no discussion about:

  • The empire
  • The risk of unnecessarily prodding Russia and China into conflict
  • The relationship between U.S. foreign policy and the refugee crisis
  • The national security state’s spying on Americans
  • The ever-rising debt
  • The ever-declining purchasing power of the dollar
  • The increasingly suffocating regulatory burden
  • The impact the war on drugs has on police behavior
  • The manufactured race crisis
  • The celebration of abortion
  • The demonization of religion
  • The stranglehold of the left on college campuses
  • The toxic consequences of a $15 minimum wage
  • The increasing unemployment among the youth
  • The funding gap in state-sponsored defined benefit plans
  • The non-existent wage gap between the sexes

Go ahead and watch the interview if you want. I can’t. I’m too angry.

If you do, do me a favor. Let me know if you think the pickle jar has been pre-opened or if that’s any way to check a pulse.

h/t ZeroHedge

 

Is Obamacare the Welfare State’s Requiem?

Jeffrey Tucker wrote an overly emotional essay in which he argued that the failure of Obamacare may bring about the collapse of the welfare state. It begins with the following, foreboding words:

In the hymn for the dead for the Catholic Mass, the text of “Dies Irae” starts, “The day of wrath, that day will dissolve the world in ashes.” For Obamacare, this is that day, and it could portend a future in which the mighty ambitions of the welfare-state shrivel and die.

Tucker recognizes that the welfare-state consists of “a long history of slow-motion crises that took a long time to unfold”. However, he claims that Obamacare is different because it became apparent rather quickly that none of the predictions will come true.

Millions lost their coverage and premiums have soared for nearly everyone. These days it seems like everything is covered but nothing is covered. It is harder than ever to get insurers to cough up what they are supposed to pay, and the deductibles are frighteningly high.

Among Tucker’s conclusions is that “the Obamacare meltdown has destroyed the conceit that government can improve society through expansion and mandate. It turns out that large stacks of paper don’t automatically bring justice, equality, efficiency, and universal provision.”

As much as I agree with Tucker on his analysis of the shortcomings of Obamacare, there are three reasons why its failure won’t lead to the welfare state’s demise.

First, I don’t see the political narrative regarding Obamacare changing significantly. Yes, premiums have skyrocketed, and there are fewer insurance companies offering coverage. However,  to expect Republicans, who are in the midst of a civil war, to have sufficient power after the election to repeal Obamacare is hilarious. Morever, I simply don’t see increasing pushback against the Democratic fairy tale that Obamacare is working. Unless the Democratic base itself tells its leadership that they don’t believe them, the narrative will continue.

Second, the conceit that government can improve society through mandate was destroyed long before Obamacare. Its failure alone isn’t going to change that many minds. As a result, the narrative will continue.

Third, never underestimate the holders of power when their authority is challenged. All one has to do is look at the historical examples of the Soviet Union and Zimbabwe, as well as the current tragedy in Venezuela, to see the depths to which rulers will go to maintain power. It is not suprising that liberals are blaming insurance companies for Obamacare’s demise. They will merely shift their narrative rather than concede the obvious.

Therefore, unless there’s a significant change in how the public pushes back against the Obamacare narrative, I don’t see it, let alone the welfare state, falling down anytime soon.

 

When cultural crime leads to cultural apartheid

There was a time in Western civilization when its culture celebrated not only the familiar but also the exotic.

Just look at rock and roll, which was built on the blues of the American south. Some of the most popular bands were English. The Beatles wrote several songs heavily influenced by Indian music. Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir is a homage to north Africa. Graceland, one of Paul Simon’s most popular albums, featured South African music.

One can even go back farther and see a taste for the exotic. In the mid- to late-19th century, as European composers began incorporating local folk music into their works, primarily for nationalist reasons, they were also fascinated by the music of other cultures. The German composer Johannes Brahms was a “Hungarophile” who loved gypsy music. The Frenchman Georges Bizet wrote an opera, “Carmen”, set in Seville. Antonin Dvořák, a Czech composer, built Native American and African American themes into his “New World” Symphony.

Nowadays, however, such use of foreign culture in music is anathema to cultural Marxists, who scan the artistic landscape to identify and condemn its presumed exploitation. Through the concept of social construction, they believe that human nature is defined by politics. (This is similar to classical Marxism, which believes that a society’s ideas are defined by its means of production.) The culture of a people belongs to that people. Any foreigner who uses someone else’s culture in a work of art is guilty of “cultural appropriation”. For example, in an article on the website For Harriet, “an online community for women of African ancestry”, cultural appropriation is defined as “when one person from a race or culture borrows other racial or cultural tropes for personal gain”.

What do you mean Beyoncé isn’t Indian???

How cultural Marxists apply cultural appropriation run from the banal to the dangerous.

To find an example of the banal, all one needs to do is look at National Public Radio. Consider the following exchange between NPR host Rachel Martin and Justin Charity of the magazine Complex, in which they discuss a video of the Coldplay/Beyoncé song “Hymn for the Weekend”:

JUSTIN CHARITY: Basically, Coldplay and Beyoncé went to Mumbai, and the music video is shot with a lot of imagery from the Hindu Holi festival of colors. The music video features Chris Martin running around with local children and sort of throwing dry coloring and dye. And Beyoncé’s also in it, and she is basically a Bollywood actress. And she’s adorned in lace and bangles and henna, and this is all somewhat strange imagery to associate with either Beyoncé or Coldplay.

MARTIN: Neither of them are Indian.

CHARITY: Right. We should note that Chris Martin is a white man.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

CHARITY: Beyoncé is a black woman from Houston, Texas.

They said all of this to be insightful.

Fighting appropriation, one kimono at a time

Sometimes how cultural appropriation is applied can be downright silly. For example, an article in Spiked discussed how The Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg:

started a Twitterspat with reality-TV personality Kylie Jenner, saying Jenner’s donning of corn rows was ‘appropriation of black features’, before going on to accuse other white artists of adopting hip-hop culture ‘as a way of being edgy and gaining attention’.

Then there was the case of the misappropriated kimonos:

In early July [2015], protesters took against the Boston Museum of Fine Arts for hosting ‘Kimono Wednesdays’, a gimmicky promotion to advertise the display of Monet’s La Japonaise. Visitors were encouraged to don kimonos and imitate the pose of Monet’s wife and muse Camille. But irate white and Asian-American protesters turned out to complain about the ‘exotification’ of Asian people – much to the puzzlement of the Japanese-American organisers of ‘Kimono Wednesdays’.

How culture becomes a crime

Unfortunately, some writers dare to go further and accuse artist of committing “cultural crimes”, which is what Amy Zimmerman accused Australian rapper Iggy Azalea of committing. Zimmerman’s J’accuse consists of one race-based claim after another, beginning with her downplaying Azalea’s talent:

[T]he 24-year-old Aussie doesn’t do much more than mimic the identifiably black spitting style of the American South.

To her disdain for white rappers:

White rappers are always difficult to comprehend, difficult to deal with. Eminem pissed off a lot of people by using the N-word, and you’re not a real hip-hop fan if you’re not still processing Kendrick Lamar’s 2013 Grammy defeat at the extremely white hands of Macklemore.

To her condescending pretense of feeling empathy for Azalea:

But Iggy Azalea is a special case: her story falls at the intersection of race, gender, commodification and co-option, and speaks to a history of black erasure that many artists feel they can no longer afford to ignore. Iggy Azalea herself might not even understand how polarizing and important a figure Iggy Azalea has become.

To her disdain for fans who like white rappers:

An artist like Macklemore receiving recognition over a black artist might strike many as deeply prejudiced and unfair—it’s hard to ignore the fact that his whiteness, his “palatability” to certain audiences, is a huge component of his profitability and appeal. Still, at least Macklemore sounds like a white guy from the Pacific Northwest.

Before getting to the heart…finally…of Azalea’s alleged crime:

Iggy’s alleged crime is twofold: she gets to profit off of her white appeal while simultaneously selling a black sound. She is making a huge career for herself by mimicking the vocal patterns and phrases of a Southern black girl—in effect, as Banks is arguing, stealing that nameless black girl’s own success in the process.

Only through apartheid will we be free

As ridiculous as the idea of cultural crime sounds on the surface, there is a logic underneath it. If rap music belongs to people of African American descent, only they have the right to create any more rap songs.

While this reasoning raises a myriad of questions, I’ll focus on three. Who decides which group “owns” which culture? Who decides whether a culture has been appropriated? And what type of enforcement mechanism needs to be in place to make sure one group’s culture stays in its proper place?

None of these are cultural questions. All of them are political questions. They require a political framework to answer them. And if cultural Marxists are truly concerned about appropriation, any crimes identified through these questions must be resolved by force. Therefore, the only way to make sure that culture is used “properly” is through a politically-designed cultural apartheid.

Cultural Marxism, like classical Marxism, is inherently vicious. It must destroy in vain hope that something new will be created. And in the name of protecting the exotic, cultural Marxism will make the exotic disappear.

 

Why Say’s law is always true

Alasdair Macleod has written an elegant essay on why Say’s law is always true.

In essense, Say’s law states that an economy comprises equally of buyers and sellers. On the surface, this may seem obvious. Unfortunately, John Maynard Keynes, in his influential work The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money  mischaracterized Say’s law so as to imply that the law assumes the economy operates at full employment. By knocking down that strawman, Keynes uses the rest of The General Theory  to argue that government should stimulate demand by increasing spending. As Macleod shows, however, Keynes built his policies on a fundamental fallacy. Current government and central bank policies will fail for no other reason than they deny the validity of Say’s law.

It would be worthwhile to take your time to read this essay.

The End of Stoning: Jesus and the Personhood Revolution

By David Ganorski:

I see true liberty as the absence of fear: the fear of death and lack of fullness of being that drives people to limitless envy and violence to find release from said tension. But it also includes the liberty movement as popularly conceived today: a movement of people animated by desire to no longer participate in collective violence against their neighbors.

Well said. Very well said.

You can read this excellent essay here.