Good And Evil

We live in a world of mental habits. Whatever we formulate, create and conceptualize, we do so according to intellectual conventions that we live by and through which we give meaning to the physical reality around us – and within us. If we stop to examine how we think, the habits, or perhaps attitudes become readily discernible.

For example, we perceive nature as being governed by laws, and through science we seek to define these laws. We recognize the body as a living machine, which requires the right kind of fuel, the proper method of operation, to keep it from breaking down.

And we have come full circle and now see the earth as a living organism that must not be used for our own benefit, but cared for, nurtured: Humanity is now slowly becoming the warden of the earth, the caretaker, the gardener – slowly we are breaking from the earlier master-slave relationship, where humankind’s sole purpose was to exploit and use, and dump what was useless in the form of garbage.

In a slow fashion, humanity is losing its hubris, its pride of ownership of nature. Rather, we now see that it is nature that owns us.

All of these formulations (and they are that, since, for example, the earth or the universe hardly cares what we think) are states of mind, mental attitudes that allow us to create the kind of world we want to live in.

Here, it is important to distinguish between the earth and the world: The earth is our physical planet, over which we have little control, and the world is what we have made of the plant (countries, markets, business, wealth, and poverty).

Thus, we humans are creatures of habit. We cling to concepts and mental habits that define us as nations, tribes, clans, or individuals. How many wars have been fought purely for the sake of identity? Take away our tribalism, our virulent embrace of difference, and we suddenly become merely human beings – no better, no worse than the next man or woman. Identity too is a mental habit.

Aristotle defined human beings as political animals, and certainly whenever we veer into dealing with the world, we do so by way of a political response (war, trade, services, movement of people).

However, to paraphrase Plato (Aristotle’s teacher), we can also define human beings as moral animals. We are addicted to morality – so much so that all of our non-political actions are governed by morality.

Indeed, we cannot define nature as inherently moral, since it consistently shows us signs of aggressive survival. Nature functions on a model of reciprocity: A perpetual, perhaps eternal, chain of interdependence.

Morality on the other hand does not require reciprocity, for it operates on the ideal of perfection: An unending desire to participate in beneficence. And to justify this moral habit, we imbue it with great religious overtones and label it as “divine law.” Thus, our world is governed by two types of law – political and moral.

We can define the political as the behavior between nation states. And the moral we can construe as the behavior between one human being and another. In short, how we treat each other, as individuals, is the realm of morality, and how one country treats another is the ambit of the political.

For our discussion, we now need to abandon the political and focus entirely on morality. Leaving aside the question of whether morality is biological (“in our very bones”), or our own creation, we now must proceed to examine what it is that allows morality to exist. In other words, how does it acquire identity? What is moral?

Whenever we seek to define morality, we fall into a peculiar habit of thought. We begin to think along dualistic lines, or polarities, if you will; we begin to think by way of opposites.

Thus, we place one opposite against another, and arrive at concepts such as the sacred and the profane, innocence and guilt, purity and impurity, honesty and dishonesty, order and chaos, meaning and meaninglessness, reality and illusion, reality and illusion, light and dark, truth and falsehood.

As we can readily see, these dualities conform to a pattern of positive and negative (another duality), and they are stacked in such a way that we are forced to make a moral choice – we “naturally” choose concepts that are positive. Why?

Given our mental habit, we have come to believe that such opposites are in conflict with each other, and we are duty-bound morally to take sides in this conflict. By choosing the positive, we are making a moral choice. And this choice has a very long history in human consciousness, and it is this history that we will go on to explore.

We make a choice because we understand that these polarities cannot exist peacefully, side-by-side; they are not coefficient or coeval; they are embodiment of extremes, and one extreme cannot bleed into another. So much of our moral rebellion stems from precisely this denial of coexistence. We seek to assert that opposites do bleed together, and magnetically, opposites attract. Moral rebellion is based on not choosing sides, on insisting that one category is just as valid as its opposite, and there is no conflict between the two.

However, the positive-negative model pervades even this rebellion. How? By suggesting that the extreme can be pacified, that the two opposites can take on the characteristics of the other – by dragging the positive into the negative, or the negative into the positive. Despite the rebellion, we are still thinking within the confines of duality. It is a habit very hard to break. Try as we might.

The photo shows, “Landscape with a Rainbow,” By Joseph Wright of Derby, painted 1794.

Shusaku Endo: Some Thoughts

Shusaku Endo’s short story, “The War Generation” explores the various facets of conflict that have become part of the human condition. Given that the thrust of the short story is an investigation into conflict, the theme of the story is humanity’s overcoming of hardship. Let us explore these concepts further.

Conflict takes various forms in the story. Primarily, we have the conflict between man and man. The Second World War, and the appearance of the B-29s that fly over the skies of Tokyo raining down death best exemplify this. We also have the conflict of man against nature in that there is an innate ferocity that nature possesses against which mankind must struggle. Thus, when Ono Mari first enters the restaurant, Konishi notes that the rain looks like “needles.” Also, Konishi loses his friend, Inami, to disease in Korea. Plus, there is the image of the sky looking like stuffed with “tattered cotton swabs.” This certainly mirrors the larger conflict of the War. Further, there is the conflict of man against himself. Thus, Konishi must struggle to overcome his own fear at being drafted into the army, and when his friend Inami is drafted, he can only comfort him saying that he will be getting his notice soon as well. This sort of resignation highlights the entire notion of death living side-by-side with the “war generation.” Death is all around them – in nature, in the air-raids, in the their struggle to eat and to survive. As well, the war has also dehumanized them. Konishi and his co-workers are merely cogs in the great machinery of the F. Heavy Industries factory. All the young workers yearn to be human; they yearn for human contact in the form of books and food, and then women. But the factory denies them their humanity; they are merely components that keep the war industry churning – while the recruits themselves supply the raw fodder on which the war industry runs.

The point of view of the story is the first person, with the narrator being Konishi. The point of view is his associative recollections, and observation. Thus, sitting in the restaurant, he sees Ino Mari walking in, and this opens the floodgates of memory about the war years. Of course, the first person narration calls into question the reliability of Konishi’s point of view, especially at the end, when we see the great gap that lies between his wife and his daughters. Konishi is extremely alienated from his family, symbolized by the fact that he cannot understand why his daughters like electric guitar music. Characterization depends on description. Thus for example, Ino Mari’s fine features are highlighted.

The setting of the story is two-fold. First, we have the restaurant where Konishi sits drinking sake, and when he sees Ino Mari, his mind wanders back to the war years and the days of his youth. There is frequent use of symbolism in the story. For example, we have Ino Mari’s violin, which captures the idea of all that is best in humanity, despite the fact that it is being handled by a young woman whose house had just been bombed, and it is playing to an audience who does not know if they will be bombed next. This further suggests the theme of humanity’s overcoming of hardship. Despite the hardships of the war, and the death of imminent death, Konishi and the music lovers gather to hear Ino Mari play Western music. And Ino Mari herself makes a supreme to make sure she shows up for the concert. Thus, there is a great redemptive quality of music in that it frees us from our hardships and unites us all in one as humanity. Despite the bombs, the people of Tokyo find time to sit down and listen to Fauré, Saint-Saens, and Beethoven. Thus, music transcends conflict, and allows us to become decent human beings.

Therefore, we see that Shusaku Endo’s short story “The War Generation” explores the idea of conflict, and comes to the conclusion that despite our differences there are things that unite us all as humanity.


The photo shows a print of the Sino-Japanese War, dated ca. 1904.

Tales Of The Brothers Grimm

Once upon a time, in a place not so far away, a black shadow spread across the land, slipping its long, inky fingers into every castle and cottage. Like a Midas of misery, everything it touched turned to wrack and ruin.

Children starved, mothers lay ill, fathers slain in battle, crops destroyed, houses burned. Nothing the people did could spare them from the evil and pestilence, and many believed the end of the world had come.

That time was the early 17th century. That place, Germany; and that shadow of darkness and destruction, the Thirty Years War. Yet, this bleak epoch gave rise to the fairy tale, a genre of fiction, which modern readers immediately associate with innocent enjoyment and far-fetched fantasy.

They frequently borrow Biblical themes such as resurrection (Sleeping Beauty) and numerology (threes, sevens and twelves abound in Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood).

And the tales of the Brothers Grimm are a grim collection of tales that embody the harsh realities of life such as death, but also the bonds that make life sweet, namely, love. Thus, the tales of Brothers Grimm move between these two eternal themes.

No place on the Continent was ravaged as brutally as Germany during the three ruinous decades collectively known as the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), which cut a broad swath of disease, death and demoralization through the country.

One-third of the German population was dead, leaving the survivors without parents, offspring, homes, livelihoods, health, hence the harshness with which the Grimm tales unfold.

Fairy tales of the period reflect the uncertainty and staggering losses of war. Rampaging disease – the worst Europe had seen since the Black Death of the 13th century – brought with it the reality of wicked stepparents and -siblings (Cinderella), hunger and life-threatening poverty (Hansel and Gretel), and early death (Sleeping Beauty).

Theft, abduction, mutilation, and murder are common themes in the Brothers Grimm, from Rotkäppchen to Rumpelstilzchen – hardly our idea of child-appropriate entertainment, but story tellers of the day were more occupied with keeping their children clothed and fed than making good citizens of them.

Society generally regarded children as small adults, unlikely to survive to actual adulthood, and therefore took little care to coddle their emotional development. Fairy tales were intended to amuse parents as much as offspring, and the harshness of life is not clothed in sentimentality or euphemism.

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm (1786-1859), set about to produce a comprehensive printed version of European fairy tales, with an eye to adapting them for a younger audience. That we now refer to Snow White and Cinderella as “Grimm’s fairy tales” attests to the personal stamp they left on this hitherto collective cultural property.

They also made a significant contribution to the shaping of the genre by naming their collection, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (1812) and redirecting the tales towards a – physically – smaller audience. Their work has gone on to become the single most translated German book throughout the world.

By today’s standards, even the Grimms’ fairy tales are brutal. If you grew up thinking Cinderella’s prince came around after the ball, blithely passing that left-behind slipper from one genteel foot to the next in search of its rightful owner, it may surprise you to read the version in circulation circa 1820.

The self-absorbed step-mother, keen on winning the reflected glories of royalty by marrying off her daughters to the eligible heir, cuts off part of each girl’s foot in order to get a proper fit and triumphantly jams on the shoe.

Both times the (apparently blind) prince rides off with the bleeding bride-to-be, saved from his mistake only a by a few helpful birds who clue the prince in to what has happened. The gore goes on in Snow White, where the wicked Queen summons a huntsman not merely to kill the young beauty, but to tear out her lungs and liver as well.

The Queen then boils this bounty and devours it with fiendish enjoyment. Rapunzel’s handsome rescuer also meets a nasty end. After his eyes are gorged out, his body, too, is pierced by the giant thorns, which flourish on the rose bushes surrounding poor Rapunzel’s tower.

Grimm’s fairy tales speak universally and directly to children in a way, which empowers and delights, terrifies and tickles, enabling children to recognize themselves and their place in the world. As Märchen scholar Max Luthi has noted, fairy tales draw in readers and listeners of all ages because they present the world in miniature.

The blossom of love and the thorn of death, the proverbial battle between good and evil, are presented in a form, which fits within the span of a bedtime story. Objects such as gold, water, iron and straw symbolize power, purity, strength, and industry.

Fairy tales reflect the hard injustices and grinding poverty of peasant life along with the rarefied, but no less suffocating limitations of royal existence. Dreary toil, illness, and hunger are as much a part of fairy tales as kissing frogs and spinning straw into gold.

The realm of dreams is represented by abundant food (Tischlein deck dich), luxuries such as soft beds and warmth (Hansel and Gretel) and wealth in the form of jewels and gold. The fairytale reached the zenith of its popularity in the mid-to-late 19th century, when Gothic revivalism swept the Continent. The tales spread from page to stage, be it puppet theater or grand opera (Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel was first produced in 1893).

Allegorically, children are presented with a first glimpse of the wide world beyond their bedroom walls. Fairy tale princes and paupers all tread the same path to adulthood, overcoming fears, resolving conflicts, and building friendships.

By confronting evil in the form of granny-devouring wolves or witches who roast children, children can explore the vivid fantasy side of fear. Wicked stepmothers, jealous siblings, and lost fathers are more realistic worries, which children confront through fairy tales.

Coming to terms with these anxieties emboldens children to master their fears, bringing them closer to adulthood, when they will close the circle and pass the magic onto their own children.

Thus the theme of love and death in the works of the Brothers Grimm derive from the harsh realities of the seventeenth in Germany, during the Thirty Years War.

The catalog of death and harshness that appears in these fairy tales is an account of the evil that is found in the world. Yet, despite this grim reality, there is love, which triumphs despite adversity, for Cinderella does marry her handsome prince.


The photo shows, “Snow White,” by Paul Hey, litho published in 1939.

The Idea Of Technology

Whenever people are trying to define the modern age, there’s an inevitable phrase that gets tossed around. We hear it all the time – “We are an age of technology.”

And when people are asked what this phrase means, they invariably generate a list – cars, televisions, space probes, computers, the microchip – all things that were mostly science fiction just a hundred years ago. How did we come so far, so quickly?

But are we technological because we have more gadgets than, say, the ancient Egyptians who, after all, did build the pyramids? But our culture is different from the ancient Egyptians. How so?

Our age is technological not because of gadgets, but because of the idea of technology. The gadgets are a mere by-product. The way we think is profoundly different from all previous human civilizations. We perceive things in a systematic way. We like to build conceptual structures. We like to investigate and get at the root causes of things.

We like to figure out how things work. We see nature, the earth, the universe, as a series of intersecting systems. And this difference is the result of technology.

Essentially, we are dealing with two Greek words: techne and logia. Techne means “art,” “craft,” or “handiwork.” But logia is more interesting. It means “account,” “word,” “description,” and even “story.” It is the root of other important words in English, such as “logistics” and “logical.” And it even reaches into the spiritual realm, where “Logos” is intimately connected with the mystery of God in Christianity, where God (Logos) is made flesh in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, technology is not really about gadgets. The word actually means “a description of art,” or “a story of craft, handiwork.” Anything we create is technology. Be it the microchip, a film, a novel, an airplane, or a poem.

But this is only the first layer. We need to dig further. Why do we use a Greek word in the first place? This question lets us dig right down to the foundations.

The word is Greek because the idea is Greek. This is not to say that other cultures did not have technology; they certainly did; the Pyramids are certain proof of that, as are the Nascan lines in the desert. However, we have already established that technology is not about gadgets, or objects that we create. It is a particular mind-set.

Technology is visualizing the result, or perhaps uncovering that which lies hidden within our imagination. It really is still about giving an account of art, about what we can do with our minds.

But how is all this Greek?

The idea of technology was given to us by one specific person – the Greek philosopher, Aristotle(384-322 BC).

At the age of twenty, Aristotle found himself in Athens, listening to the already famous Plato (428 B.C. to 348 B.C.). But the pupil would become greater than the master. Interestingly enough, Aristotle too had a famous pupil – Alexander the Great. Aristotle certainly had the ability to transform the way people thought – down to the present.

It was Aristotle who stressed the need not only for science, but a conceptual understanding of science. It was not enough just to be able to do things, such as craftsmanship that was passed down from father-to-son in his own day, and in many parts of the world today.

It was important to understand how things were; how they functioned the way they did. It was Aristotle who taught us to break down an object into its smallest part so we can understand how it is built and how it operates. Where would science be today without this insight – which we now take as common sense.

But before Aristotle, it was not common sense. The common sense before his time was to accept things the way they were, because the gods had made them that way, and who were we to question the will of the gods. This was the pre-technological mindset.

Aristotle, like Plato before him, taught that nature and human beings behave according to systems that can be recorded and then classified, and understood and then applied. These categories provided mental frameworks within which we could house our ideas.

Therefore, if nature is a system (and not mysterious and unknowable), then it can be understood. And if it can be understood, it can be controlled. And if it can be controlled, then we can avoid being its victims.

Our ability to classify, categorize, and explain – in short, our technology – is the invention of Aristotle. Before he came along, we were only groping in the dark – if we dared grope, that is.



The photo shows, “Toronto Rolling Mills,” by William Armstrong, painted in 1864.

Morality In Psychology: An Assessment of Benjamin Libet’s Thought

The neurophysiological work of Benjamin Libet coalesces the methodology of physics with an important philosophical question – namely, a description, or map, of consciousness.

Thus, through his investigation of neurophysiological behavior, Libet strives to determine not only the properties, but the role, of consciousness itself. Consequently, his investigation extends firmly into the realm of philosophy, especially since it involves questions of the mind and the brain, space and time, and ethics.

The question of consciousness implies determining what things real therefore exist in the world, and how we perceive, interact with, define, and understand these things. As well, consciousness concerns knowing those things that exist beyond appearance (such as ideas). Consequently, consciousness implies that the realm of reality is knowable on both the perceptual and cognitive levels.

It is within the dual concepts of cognition and perception that Libet grounds his investigation; however, his procedure is neither strictly phenomenological nor metaphysical. Rather, he deploys the methodology of quantum physics in order to gauge and record the workings of human consciousness.

This means that both time and phenomena play crucial roles in not only the process of consciousness, but also in the explanation of it. Libet contends that an action in time brings about an awareness only after we become aware of it. Thus, a specific mechanism in the brain determines the protrusion of the event into space and time. For Libet this double projection is the delay-and-antedating hypothesis/paradox.

Libet’s work involved two sets of experiments, which centered on the question of an act, or external stimulation, and its conscious awareness. In other words, how does the brain internalize external reality? Thus, Libet’s concern was with knowing the features and attributes of the space of time within which an external stimulation was converted into an internal experience by the brain.

His first experiment involved the stimulation of a brain region until the subject felt a tickle in the left hand. At the same time, the subject’s right hand was stimulated. Thus, the subject had to determine in which hand the stimulation was felt first; or was the stimulation evident in both hands simultaneously. Much to his surprise, Libet found that the stimulation of the brain, and the stimulation of the skin were both experienced simultaneously, if the stimulation of the brain began half a second earlier.

As a result, Libet calculated that there was a delay of 500 milliseconds before a conscious response was triggered. In other words, our conscious mind subtracts half-a-second from the stimulation, and predates the subject’s experience of that stimulation by that amount of time, thus affecting a balance between experienced consciousness and realized consciousness.

Because of this predating, we end up experiencing the world in an accurate way, since our conscious mind allows us to think that we experience the world at the temporally correct moment.

Embedded within this experiment was the essential concept of Readiness Potential (RP), which is the correlation between bodily movement and electrical activity in the brain. In effect, there is electrical activity in the brain one full second a bodily movement or action is effected.

Thus, before an action takes place, the brain prepares us for it. Given this delay, at what time does consciousness come into play? In other words, when do we consciously decide to act?

What ramifications does this delay have in regards to free will, because our conscious decision to act is determined before we carry out the act? From the neurophysiological realm, Libet’s investigation launched into a philosophical one, with the correlation between free will and consciousness – and even the freedom of our will.

Libet’s next experiment sought to determine the connection between timing and decision-making.

The premise of this experiment was to investigate when it was that individuals thought or believed that they made their decisions as opposed to when activity in the brain occurred that led to these decisions.

The experiment gauged electromyogram of muscles (when the subject actually performed an action), when the subject believed or thought that the action was performed, and what electrical activity occurred in the brain during this time.

Libet found that the cortex became active, with a Readiness Potential 350 milliseconds before the subject reported awareness of a desire to perform the action. This suggested that our subjective awareness of decisions takes place much later than the actual process of decision-making.

The brain, then, unconsciously sets off a voluntary action, which begins as an unconscious process. And it takes 200 milliseconds for the Readiness Potential to become an action. Thus, our consciousness is untrue; perhaps even deceptive, because once the volitional process begins, do we have enough time to consciously stop an action? Again, we are in the realm of free will and consciousness.

This latter experiment demonstrates that we only have 100 milliseconds in which our consciousness can change or stop the final outcome of the volitional process. For Libet, this is enough time to stop or veto the final progress of the volitional process. In his experiments, he found evidence for this veto, since his subjects reported that they had a conscious wish, which they curbed, or vetoed.

In other words, Readiness Potential proceeded the veto, and while the subject made ready for the action, even though the action itself was vetoed and aborted by the subject.

What this suggests is that consciousness is not a higher authority that determines the final implementation of an action. Rather, consciousness is a process of selection – the determination of what is the best of various and perhaps equal potentialities suggested by unconscious processes.

In this regard, the veto is a control mechanism, which is entirely different from a conscious desire to act. Consequently, conscious free will does not implement a voluntary action; instead it controls whether this action will take place or not. This means that there is an ethical connotation, as well.

These investigations provide insight into the structure of consciousness. Libet shows that a Readiness Potential that takes place 500 milliseconds before the action itself takes place, and some 200 milliseconds before the conscious recording of an action precedes voluntary acts. In effect, then, consciousness is primarily a construct, and its construction comes markedly after the event.

This calls into question the ultimate relevance of consciousness itself. Libet, however, suggests a relevance when he states that the role of consciousness is not to initiate action – but rather to control and influence actions.

Thus, consciousness remains in its traditional, or classical, role as arbiter of ethical actions, in that the function of consciousness is to veto actions that are unconsciously initiated.

We are not far from what the philosophers understood as Moral Natural Law.


The photo shows, “The View of Krivooserski Monastery,” by Isaac Levitan, painted in 1890.

The Left And The Right Are Dead – Finally!

The left and the right originated in 1789, on the eve of the French Revolution. The members of the National Assembly began to congregate on separate sides of the Legislative Assembly.

Those who sought liberal reform and the decentralization of political power sat on the left of the assembly, while the opposing camp gave their sympathies to the King, and sat to the right.

But can we still imagine the left united by a desire to bring down big government, and save the individual from the crushing weight of the Leviathan? Is it possible to recall the right’s collective desire to protect the people from themselves?

No man descends into the same assembly twice, and we are left asking ourselves if there is anything consistently sacred to the right or the left?

Both are hardly recognizable from their origins. Throughout their history, the left and right could not really be divided because of their stance on civil rights, war, religion, or even economics.

The contemporary view of the left as the defender of civil rights is not substantiated by their history. Far from being rooted in a long-standing tradition, the left had often countered the struggle of civil rights movements.

Rather, it was the Republicans who liberated the slaves and gave them the vote, not the Democrats.

If socialism is the defining feature of the left, then the left is dead

It was almost a century later that the left took up the cause of the blacks in America, in The Civil Rights Act of 1964. Even women’s suffrage was the result of the Republican agenda. The Dixiecrats of the left understood themselves as the moral defenders; hence, they resisted the change of the social order.

It was not until the Obama administration, that a Democratic President openly backed gay rights. Thus, the political adoption of such rights by the left is a novelty and by no means a central dogma of leftist thought.

Further, the left and the right can hardly be differentiated by their allegiance to civil rights. Considering that the left is united by various rights agendas, arguably more so than the “socialism” they halfheartedly support, their past seems so far behind them.

It is hard now to imagine the identity-politics-driven left not opposing anything that might trigger someone. This is all the more reason to remember that civil rights were hardly a leftist cause. Thus, rights may be dropped by the left as easily as they were picked up by them.

The perception of the left as peaceful and the right as warlike is also an illusion. Historically, the left has been just as willing to beat the war drum. It was the Democrats that rallied America into both World Wars, contrary to the contemporary perception of the party as doves.

America’s favorite pastimes – bombing countries into democracy

The notion of the right as the party of hawks is a legacy of the Cold War, since they were the antithesis of the Communist menace.

Besides the fact that Hillary, Kerry, Biden, and other prominent Democrats voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2002, the left has eagerly taken up one of America’s favorite pastimes – bombing countries into democracy.

Both the left and the right are possessed by the idea that if they bomb away some Middle Eastern regime, then little “westernizers” will come out of the ruins and joyfully establish a democracy. The bombing is too familiar, but the democracy never seems to follow.

In fact, once the smoke clears, we find only two major factions: militant remnants of the old regime and Islamic radicals, not pro-Western Democrats. Libya knows this story all too well.

What remains is demagoguery and political opportunism

And as the bombing continues, its plain to see that neither the left nor the right cares for peace more than the other.

As for religion, once again there is no central divide. Although the left was secular from the start, and is perceived to be such still, it has also been avowedly Christian. Remember that is was the South, the Southern Baptist Bible Belt, which stood as the fortress of the left in America.

The reason why this Democratic stronghold became Republican was because President Ronald Reagan appealed to their moral conservatism.

In the 1980s, Reagan swayed the morally conservative Democrats, known as the Boll weevils, into the arms of the laissez-faire Republican Party. Thus, neo-conservatives grew out of both the right and the left.

Moreover, with evangelical Ted Cruz getting booed off stage for telling people to vote their conscience during the Trump campaign, it is no surprise that the right is distancing itself from Christ, their favorite hippie. In fact, it was Clinton who ended her concession speech quoting scripture.

As the left and right keep forsaking their religious orientations, it’s easy to see that not much remains sacred. The divide is almost indistinguishable when both are viewed through the eyes of the Almighty, i.e., the U.S. Dollar.

The Red Scare of the 1950s has its roots in liberals seeking to purge away socialists

Perhaps one of the greatest differences between the left and the right is their perceived socialist and capitalist orientation.

In the words of Gore Vidal, “there is only one party in the United States, the Property Party…and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt – until recently…and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.”

Throughout the history of the United States, the liberal left aided the right in purging away socialism from its ranks. The left’s relationship with socialism picks up at the turn of the century.

Remember that the Democrats did not have the best reputation towards slaves or labor, but they began to find allies amongst the industrial workers in their struggle against the party of big business. They were not the loudest saber- rattlers against the capitalist menace; the socialists and anarchists were.

Instead of getting along in their struggle against big business, the groups descended into fighting each other for power over the labor movements. Liberal reformers sought to oust socialists from within their ranks, and they continued to do so throughout U.S. history.

This is all the more reason to remember that civil rights were hardly a leftist cause

In early labor struggles, liberals often sold out the socialists amongst them. The Red Scare of the 1950s has its roots in liberals seeking to purge away socialists.

As usual, the liberal (Hillary Clinton) who stiff-armed the socialist (Bernie Sanders) was on the pay roll of the U.S. Capitalist elite. Since Clinton obtained her funds from banks like, J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs, then is she really a socialist?

Real socialism (whatever that might be) is not likely to come from the Democrats. If socialism is the defining feature of the left, then the left is dead.

Contemporary “socialism,” therefore, is an illusion which has forgotten what it really was.

Socialism is a metaphor, entirely worn out, and without sensuous power; a coin which has lost both its sides and now is only metal. The truth is both the left and the right only really answer to crony capitalism.

Ultimately, there is nothing really separating the “left” and the “right.” What remains is demagoguery and political opportunism.

It must now be time to transcend this false dichotomy and build something new from its ashes. Just as Nietzsche saw beyond the moral dichotomy of his day, we must see past the political dichotomy of ours.

Remember, a group of men also stood above the left-right divide of the revolutionary French Legislative Assembly who, like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, were men of the mountain.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred
While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked.
(Bob Dylan, “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding”)


[The photo is of a political cartoon by Isaac Cruikshank, from 1792, showing Thomas Paine and Joseph Priestley, plotting murder and mayhem].