It requires no cynicism to see that the first purpose of government is to make large numbers of people governable. It requires only realism.
Similarly, it requires no cynicism to see that the first purpose of religion is to make large numbers of people submissive. This too requires only realism.
When we see either of those two realities, a healthy response is anger because anger supplies the energy a protest requires.
Why this discussion now?
Because in the recent elections, some of the batcrap crazy religious wingnuts put a lot of effort into making their religion the law of the land. In some of the states they won and are doing it, and I am again feeling bits and pieces of the anger I felt decades ago when I was freeing myself from the effects of twelve years in Catholic schools.
Let's get angry, but not at each other. And preferably, unless it's necessary, not in a way that attracts the sheriff's attention.
How effective has the theocrats' anger been toward getting you to fall into line with their plan? You will not mobilize many people with anger - and the people you attract will disappoint you.
Mark, where did you see any mention of theocrats' anger? I'm referring to my anger.
The theocrats I knew used fear and guilt to make schoolkids fall into line with their plans. They taught that anger is wrong ("Turn thje other cheek.") because they knew it produces the energy people need to get out of their line.
Have you not seen or heard these words: He who carves the Buddha does not worship the Buddha? I'll leave you to apply those words to Xianity, especially to Catholicism.
You say I will not mobilize many people with anger.
I might not; I prefer to use information. Some political leaders fear an informed populace.
Many political leaders use fear or anger; they are powerful political organizing tools.
In money-raising efforts, conservative leaders use fear; progressive leaders use anger, and liberal leaders use guilt.
To foment the violence necessary for rapid change, conservative leaders use fear and progressive leaders use anger.
My expertise in these matters is a result of forty years in politics, some of it hardball.
Mahatma Gandhi described hardball politics well: First they ignore you; then they ridicule you; when they try to kill you, you know you are winning.
Try again, Mark.
Dominionists do show a lot of anger. Also the quasi-religious pundits on Fox. Attend a Tea Party rally or Republican convention - you'll hear them using anger and hatred to motivate people.
It is amusing that you want to use anger to motivate people and then quote M.G.
You're getting good responses from folks here. Give 'em a listen.
Good luck in you efforts to change the world.
Mark, I direct my efforts to changing only part of the world--the part of it where I live.
Yeah, I like the responses too. 'Tis easier to give them a read, than a listen.
I too once confused anger with the expression of anger. They differ, you know. Think on it a bit.
Fear? Anger? Guilt, too.
I get political fund-raising mail from three directions. (Note the word "political"; I get non-political fund-raising mail too.)
1. When mail tries to stir fear (fear of gays, fear of change, fear of slippery slopes, et cetera), it has been from conservative organizations. Maybe conservative Dems.
2. When mail tries to stir anger (anger at past actions or present conditions), it has been from progressive organizations.
3. When mail tries to stir guilt (guilt because I'm relatively well off), it has been from liberal organizations, usually Amnesty International.
Give some thought to how fear and anger differ. The first time someone threatens you, you MIGHT feel fear. The third time, you MIGHT feel anger. What differs?
Tom I am disappointed and sad in the way things are going for us too.
Yeah, Steph, at some of it I'm disappointed or saddened.
At others of it, Obama's win for instance, I'm pleased as can be...except I consider both parties corrupted by their major donors' money.
For years I saw Dems as soft-headed and Repubs as hard-hearted. When I'd had enough of the one, I voted for the other. I distrusted both parties enough to be wary.
When some Repubs started calling Pres. Eisenhower a communist, I asked "Why?" I didn't know those Repubs had begun expelling moderate Repubs until I became an economic activist (which resulted in my becoming an environmental activist too).
When those Repubs refilled their ranks with southern, and racist, Dems I became more wary.
When Pres. Reagan invited the evangelicals to join the Repub Party, I resolved to vote Dem and became a Dem activist.
Only then did I begin to see how progressives differed from liberals. Though I like liberals (they fund some of the progressive stuff I do), I tell people I'm way out to their left.
When working folks own (yes, OWN) the companies they work for, America will have few if any labor-management battles, and few businesses wrecking the environment.
Do you know, more than 11,000 companies in the USofA are now owned by their employees? Federal tax law encourages retiring owners to sell their businesses to their employees. I find optimism possible.
Have some wonderful holidays, Steph.
Anger implies loss of self control. I certainly understand frustration. Hell, I live in a place where atheists are equated with father-rapers. I could be justifiably angry with most of my neighbors, and sometimes am, but all that gets me is high blood pressure and social reaction that tends opposite to what I'd wish. There probably is some tipping point in some societies where judicial application of anger moves things in what you and I might consider a good direction, but most often not. I can rail at my fundamentalist neighbors and imply that they are stupid, and in doing so get a load off my chest. But then I become the misanthrope because society is consensus of local opinion.
I don't know how things are where you live, but around here if a house catches fire all the neighbors run over to help put it out -- fire trucks being an hour away. I can be disappointed in how most of those neighbors think most of the time, but expressing anger about that seems not only inappropriate but socially detrimental. Yeah, if you see someone doing something you view as harmful, tell the motherfucker what you think. But realize that giving credence to anger is suborning reason to emotion exactly as the dogmatic religionists do.
Peace is the important goal, and expression of idignation a luxury available within a society already peaceful enough to absorb and make something useful of it. Those of us with views not quite mainstream may well have something to add to a society, but we can expect and should accept retaliation in proportion to our local social dissonance. Getting angry about it does little for others and much to us.
Thanks much, Ted. You expressed more interest-stirring thoughts than I can answer now.
I've always lived in large cities or college towns and worked with science-minded people. Very few ever spoke of religion so I haven't had to hide first my agnosticism, and now don't have to hide my atheism. During my agnostic decades, an event resulted in my seeing religion as a mind-altering drug that can help people deal with pain. If they're lucky, their pain doesn't drive them to within the reach of charlatans who want their money or demagogues who want their political power. These predators find much of their prey among Republicans.
I now live in a large veterans retirement home (1100+ residents) and there are a few extremely conservative vets here. I'm active enough that my manner (not my intent) intimidates most of them.
There is a tipping point, and when a chat about religion does not reach it I say that if I hadn't spent 12 years in Catholic schools I might still believe a god exists. When a chat passes the tipping point, I say religion is the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on humankind.
One man told me I would again be on my knees before jesus and I ignored him. I later asked his very outspoken Jewish wife about his remark and she said he began saying things like that after his stroke. A long-ago Monopoly player, I gave him a get-out-of-trouble-with-me-for-free card.
My limited experience in small communities, confirmed in chats with sociology majors, leaves me me believing there is more cooperation in lightly populated areas. I like such cooperation, but I need the stimulation common in large cities.
I see anger (the emotion, with its heightened blood pressure, increased pulse, etc) as differing from the expression of anger (words or actions) so for me, giving credence to anger differs from giving credence to the expression of anger.
What I've learned about the workings of the amygdala and nearby brain structures supports my experience that I feel and, depending on the amount of danger, act before I think. I'm okay with the idea that emotions motivate me and reason helps me stay out of trouble.
Peace is indeed an important goal. In the election debacle in Florida in 2000, America's relative peacefulness kept us from using guns to decide the issue. In many nations, a similar debacle would have resulted in killings.
Anger, fear and various other emotions, love among them, provide me with energy. How I use this energy makes a difference.
Ted, what are your thoughts about guilt and shame?
I've heard anthropologists/sociologists refer to America as a guilt society and to Japan as a shame society. The Catholicism I knew used guilt to govern its believers.
I attracted the sheriff's attention the other day. My wife and I needed legal paperwork witnessed and the lawyer did not have anyone in his office that could do it.
So we trooped over to Sheriff Milo's office to get witnesses. The Sheriff peered across his desk at the long-haired hippie type standing in his office and said, "I know you, I saw your picture in the paper." (I was on the front page for executing the affirmation of office for my village government as a trustee.)
I assured the sheriff I was not a criminal, I was a respectable village politician.
That said, I would question the idea that "the purpose of government is to make people governable." In that case, both our village and county, with its part-time governments could only make people governable part-time.
Everyone in the village knows my phone number now, so I get all manners of calls about all manners of things. (The latest was to baby-sit a plumbing mechanic at the village hall who never called me to tell me he was here, and I lost a whole day just waiting.)
The purpose of religion, on the other hand, is to convert. To use a mechanism like government, which has the power to coerce, is a marvelous tool for that. But it is not the tool's fault if the user abuses the tool.
As you put it, the batshit crazy things some of the theocrats plumped for is bat-shit theocratic stuff, not government. It is interesting to note that Rick Santorum, a batshit crazy conservative Catholic, when running in the primary of the very conservative Catholic Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Primary, managed to piss them off so much Mitt Romney won.
Even the religious can discern (with proper guidance) who their batshit crazy members are, and it didn't help that Santorum went into Puerto Rico's GOP primary with a nice anti-statehood message for Puerto Rico to boot. (You can't become a state in my administration unless you go to English only. Nevermind the treaty under which Puerto Rico was transferred from Spanish to US administration saying their culture, religion, traditions, and language would be protected.)
(Never mind the Constitution has no clause allowing the Government to dictate language to a territory - the Evangelical Elect are not much about preserving the Constitution except where it supports them.)