This essay says that human beings are aware of their finitude, the fact that they are born and must die (they actually start dying from the moment they are born). Human beings do not want to die. They are afraid of death. Their fear of death has ramifications on their behaviors. The essay explores some of those ramifications, especially conservative political ideologues’ emphasis on spending on national security at the expense of social spending. The essay says that whereas nation-states need to protect their people with military, police etc. that what gives human beings security is love. The essay may not appeal to those not oriented to political philosophy and or psychology.
The Political Conservative Is Driven By Fear Hence His Emphasis On Spending On The Military; What He Needs Is Love To Give Him The Security That Arms Alone Do Not Give Him
Today (August 27, 2012), the American Republican Party opens its Convention at Tampa, Florida. We will hear speeches on how to improve America’s national security, the need to spend more money to booster America’s military. The military must be made the most powerful in the world to make sure that Americans safety is guaranteed. What we will not hear are speeches on spending on America’s social issues such as providing all Americans with publicly paid health insurance. Indeed, we shall be told how social security is bankrupting the nation and the need to privatize social security or do something about it. Members of the Republican Party and other conservatives essentially want to spend as much money as they could on national security (America’s annual military Budget is more than the rest of the world spends on the military) but not on social programs. Why is this the case?
Conservatives, beginning from Thomas Hobbes (Leviathan), believe that the only proper function of government is to provide the people with protection via military, police, judicial system, penal system etc. They want to maximize military spending and spending on the judicial system and law enforcement. They do not want to spend on welfare issues (and want to gut the little spending there is for social security).
They do it because they are driven by fear of harm and death and want to protect themselves. They perceive human beings as living in a situation where each of us is a threat to each other. In Nature, Hobbes (a paranoid personality driven by fear) told us that people warred with each other and life was nasty, brutish and short. Folks killed each other, the powerful expropriating the properties of the weak and a band of the weak doing the same to the powerful; so that all lived in perpetual insecurity.
Tired of living in insecurity people set up governments and gave them the power to protect them via force (that is passing laws and enforcing them with violence). Hobbes advocated an absolute monarchy for he felt that people are so unruly that it took draconian powers to rein them in and prevent them from threatening other folk’s safety.
John Locke (Second Treaty on Government) while accepting Hobbes thesis as to why we need government ameliorated Hobbes over emphasis on total power and sought limited power for rulers; he advocated limited government that ruled only in the areas that the people mandated it to rule and otherwise left the people alone. Limited government would prevent the tendency for governments to become authoritarian and totalitarian. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
If you give one man total power to rule the people the chances are that he would be tempted to become dictatorial. Charles Montesquieu (The Spirit of Laws) says that to make sure that power is not concentrated in one hand and tempt him with dictatorial rule we have to divide powers into the three natural branches of governance (legislative, executive and judicial).
The founders of the American polity learned well from Montesquieu and divided their government into three branches and built into it adversarial relationship between the persons occupying those three branches (Hamilton, Madison and Jay provided the rationale for the Federal and divided government in the American constitution in the Federalist Papers).
For our present purpose, the salient point is that as political conservatives (members of the American Republican Party, British Conservative Party and German Christian Democratic Party etc.) see it, the primary function of government is to provide the people with national security, but not to help them with their economic issues.
Until the 1930s (Roosevelt’s New Deal in America and Ramsey McDonald’s Labor Government in Britain) political and economic conservatives did not believe that the government should play any kind of role in the economy. They agreed with Adam Smith (Wealth of Nations) that the government should hands off the economy and let market forces allocate goods and services. Smith believed that the unseen hands of the market, with each individual pursuing his self-interests and making rational decisions as to what is good for him, is the best allocator of resources in the political economy. Planned economies (as Marxists advocated) were seen as inherently stifling of individual creativity and not able to efficiently allocate resources in the economy.
People are driven by fear of death and political conservatives embrace this reality and build their political ideology on it: they want a government that safeguards the safety of their bodies and selves and otherwise leave them alone to do as they please with their lives (social conservatives interestingly do not mind using the power of governments to tell women what to do with their bodies, such as not have abortion, a contradiction to conservative ideology of limited government).
AN INTERESTING METAPHYSICS
Helen Schucman, in her metaphysical poem, “A course in miracles”, said that all people are driven by fear of death (which she says is rooted in people’s fear of returning to union, and their desire to stay in separated ego state, in body). Human beings, A course in miracles tell us, are driven by desire to live in body and fear of death of bodies. They want to live in bodies because to live in bodies is to be separated from their true self, unified spirit. The world, it teaches, came into being because people want to experience the opposite of their true self, unified spirit self, by being separated from each other and from their creator.
To make separated self-seem possible people invented the world of space, time and matter (the three illusions) and used matter to construct bodies for themselves and now seem to live in bodies.
They made body vulnerable and easily hurt and ultimately to die. Thus, those living in bodies would die. Now that they live in bodies they believe that they would die. They then fear death. Their whole world is centered on efforts to prevent the death of their bodies. We eat food, take medications, wear clothes, live in shelter all to make sure that our bodies survived and lived. We literally enslave ourselves to doing all kinds of stupid work to earn a living for our bodies. Yet those bodies that we labored so much for in time would die, rot and smell worse than feces.
Seriously, think about it, everything we do on planet earth is motivated by our struggle to survive in bodies. Surviving in bodies’ means that we do not die. It seems rational for us to struggle to live in body for body is the only self that we know that we have.
A course in miracles teaches that we have a different self, a spirit self that live eternally. It says that what is really going on in our lives is that we know that we are eternal and do not die and that all that happens when we seem to die is that we awaken in our true self, eternal unified spirit. But we do not want to be in unified spirit state, we want to seem separated from each other and to avoid union we live in body. We made body vulnerable to harm and death and fear those.
It is impossible for those who live in bodies to accept that they have eternal spirit selves. Only those people, such as William James, see his Variety of Religious Experiences, also see Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism, and Richard Maurice Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness, who have had mystical experiences and know for sure that unified spirit self- exists and is immortal do not fear death.
Helen Schucman’s metaphysics should be taken with skepticism until one experiences what it teaches and know from such experience that it is true; religion has a tendency to appeal to people’s desire for eternal life and in the process deceive them.
As agnostic, one has open mind towards spiritual matters but accept that science is our only demonstrated path to understanding the material world and coping with its exigencies.
EXPLOITATION OF HUMAN FEARFULNESS
Certain human beings understand the nature of human fear; they do so from their own fearfulness. Understanding the nature of human fearfulness and the fact that people are afraid to die and would do whatever those who threaten them with death ask them to do, they exploit that knowledge. They hold guns over folks and intimidate them, terrorize them and arouse fear in them, and from so doing get them to do as asked to do, including working as slaves, serfs and industrial wage slaves.
Africans, like all human beings, are afraid of death. Because they are afraid of death they were easily enslaved by their fellow Africans, Arabs and white folks. In contemporary Africa, the thugs that rule the place point guns at the people and threaten to kill them, and occasionally kill some of them, and thus get the people to do as asked to do.
Fearful Nigerians do not challenge the terrorist thugs that rule them for they know that they do not hesitate in killing people. Nigerians are intimidated people doing what their terrorist rulers ask them to do. The ruling thugs appropriate the country’s moneys for themselves.
If you understand the nature of fear and the fact that the average person is a fearful person, a person who would do anything to stay alive, you could hold a gun over his head and threaten to kill him, make your threat real by occasionally killing a few persons. If you do so the people would allow you to rule them and do whatever you asked them to do.
Slave masters understood the nature of human fearfulness; they lived in fear and knew that most people also live in fear. They exploited people’s fearfulness. They pointed guns (or any weapon that could kill people) at people and the people’s fear of harm and death made them do as the slave masters asked them to do, become slaves (or serfs for European Aristocrats, or industrial wage slaves in contemporary America).
The slave master, be it European, Arab and African use force to enslave people; therefore, he is a terrorist and a sadistic character. In personality structure slave masters, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, are anti-social personalities.
Only human beings who understand that people are fearful and that you could get them to do whatever you want them to do but refuse to manipulate that fear in people are admirable human beings.
LOVE ALL HUMAN BEINGS; DO NOT EXPLOIT THEIR FEARFULNESS
What is love? Love is union. Love is a state of mind where one knows that one and all people share one life, one spirit self.
That one unified spirit is itself and simultaneously infinite in numbers; all the parts of the whole are unified with it and it with them. Where one self ends and another begins is nowhere; there is no space between them. (A course in miracles says that we are in each other and that all of us are in God and God is in each of us; the whole is in the part and the part is in the whole; both whole and parts are one self, one life.)
In spirit we all share one spirit and mind. In truth there is only one self and one mind. Each of us is part of that unified self and its unified mind.
Folks traditionally called that unified- self God. Call it what you like; it has no name. What is salient is that there is one life, one self, one mind and we are all part of it. Where that one self-starts and ends is nowhere; it is everywhere and we are all parts of it.
Love is the glue that unifies the infinite parts of eternal self into one self. Love is our true self.
When the individual loves himself and all selves (black and white) he is being his real self.
If you hate another human being, since he is part of you, you must necessarily hate you. What you do to other people you do to you.
Giving is receiving. If you give love to other people you receive love from them; if you give hate to other people you receive hate from them (those you hate will hate you hence you give to them what you receive from them).
Political conservatives in Europe and North America emphasize the need for public spending on national security. This is predicated on their underlying philosophy that human nature is self-centered and capable of tremendous evil. They believe that given the opportunity people would fight and kill each other and the powerful take from the weak. They want a law and order state where we use the coercive power of the state to make sure that people behave socially appropriately and do not harm each other. They want the state to provide all with national security but otherwise leave people to go about satisfying their economic needs unaided by the state.
A course in miracles points out that what is really going on is that the conservative (as well as the liberal and socialist) is motivated by fear. All human beings live in fear. They are afraid because they are aware that people around them could harm or kill them. They set up governments to minimize other people killing them. Folks can still kill them. America arms itself to the teeth; there are police everywhere and security guards tooting guns in most public building but those really do not protect the people.
The fact is that if you want to kill me you can do so and if I want to kill you I can do so. We live in bodies and bodies are vulnerable to harm and ultimately will die and rot. We live in fear and seek security.
Clearly, governments and their guns do give us some security. When I am in Harlem or South Central Los Angeles or South Chicago (the ghetto) and see dangerous looking persons hanging around street corners I feel insecure; during such moments I appreciate a police car that drives by for I feel reassured that the police man can protect me.
One is not naïve; I am not knocking the efforts society makes to protect people. People can be dangerous. If you removed the police from any big city the people would loot the properties of the rich and even kill them.
If Europe and America does not have a powerful military, predatory Muslim Arabs would immediately attack them and use the sword to convert the people to their religion (what a strange religion, I mean this insistence of forcing people to become Muslims, not by free choice but under the threat of death).
Make no mistake about it: we need America and Europe to be powerful if we want to prevent Orientals from imposing their barbaric dictatorship on us.
That reality recognized we still need love to feel truly secure. Helen Schucman, a Jewish, Columbia University professor of psychology writes that the source of our fear is that we separated from God. She defines God as the state of union. She said that our nature is eternal union but that we wanted to experience the opposite of union hence seem separated from it. We then housed our seeming separated selves in bodies. We thereafter make our bodies vulnerable to pain and death so that we would live in fear. Afraid that other people could harm or kill us we avoid them, and thus perpetuate separation from them. The world is a place where the parts of unified spirit come to seem separated from each other; they arrange things to make separation seem real. Space, time and matter are all means of making separation seem real.
I am over here and you are over there; we have space between us; we need time to get to each other; we live in bodies (matter). It therefore seems that we are separated from each other. In truth, Schucman says that there is no such thing as space, time and matter, that those are illusions, that we are unified, even now.
Love is that which unifies the infinite parts of eternity into one whole self (Holy Self). On earth we place obstacles to the awareness of union (love). When we remove those blocks to union we experience love.
Forgiveness, Dr. Schucman tells us, is what removes the veil we placed over love. When we forgive each other our mistakes we experience the always there unified self. We unify with those we love.
In the world of the here and now, we must, of course, still have our police and military for since most people live as separated selves, egos, they could harm people. We need those carrying guns to check those who use guns to harm people. At any point in time perhaps a handful people can be trusted to love all people.
People have existential freedom to do as they please; some persons choose to be good and some choose to be evil. There are always those who choose to be evil. We must, therefore, be prepared to defend ourselves from those who chose to be evil.
We should live loving lives but carry guns to kill those who want to kill us (this is my variant of Teddy Roosevelt’s famous injunction: he said that in international politics Americans should speak softly but carry big sticks... and whack to break the heads of their enemies).
Those who want to take away our freedom and convert us to their slavish religion, such as Muslims, ought to be prevented from doing so, and if this means killing them so be it.
This essay says that human beings are aware of their finitude, the fact that they are born and must die (they actually start dying from the moment they are born). Human beings do not want to die. They are afraid of death. Their fear of death has ramifications on their social behavior. The essay explores some of those ramifications, especially conservative political ideologues’ emphasis on spending on national security at the expense of social spending.
The essay says that whereas nation-states need to protect their people with military, police etc. that what gives human beings security is love.
The essay may not appeal to those not oriented to political philosophy and or psychology.
August 27, 2012