Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kurt Vonnegut and George W. Bush: Two people directly responsible for my Socialism

With all the talk on health care reform, I feel like Socialism is being used with a harshly negative connotation, to try and conjure images of Stalin and the like. You could fill volumes with what a typical American doesn't understand about Socialism. Hell, you could fill volumes with what I don't know about Socialism, and the reason is this: There are a ton of different kinds of Socialism. And just like Capitalism, its been used for good and evil.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about why I consider myself a Socialist. First off, I don't think that any reasonable person would consider themselves 100% affiliated with any political party. I would hope that Democrats and Republicans can find, at least, some merit in the other side. Second off, I should mention that I have a job that provides a health insurance benefit for my family, so we're very lucky. I say that so you know that I don't necessarily have a vested interest in a social health care program.

But what I don't understand is why people are so scared of Socialism. We already have several social programs that are huge parts of our culture that I doubt anyone wants to move into the private sector. The next time you need a cop, would you rather have to look through the phone book to hire the most affordable one? No, of course not. Everyone needs police, so everyone should own the police. The same is said for firemen, public schools, public libraries, etc. Hopefully, you'll never need a cop or a fireman, but I bet you're willing to pay taxes to make sure they're there if you ever do need them. I don't see a difference with health care. I may never need a doctor, but I'd be willing to pay taxes to make sure that they're there if I do need them. Every time I see a Socialist program in America, it seems to be improving life, not hindering it. They create jobs and they provide services, ideally, that don't discriminate against any human beings. Personally, that's the kind of America that I want to live in.

I don't vote Socialist Party though, or at least, I never have. Partly because a socialist candidate has no chance of even getting on the ballot in Texas, and partly because voting third party (especially in Texas) is effectively throwing your vote away. What I do do is vote for the candidate that seems most likely to share the principles of Socialism.

Its not about government controlling your life, its about putting power into the hands of the people and having a government that provides for, represents, and is accountable to its people...all of its people. Its about class free democracy and workers having control of their lives and doing away with wage-slavery. Its about equality. "From every man according to his ability, to every man according to his need." Or in other words, "we're all in this together, let's act like it." Doesn't anything Socialist just make you sick?!?

Is it perfect? Hell, no. But people aren't perfect, so how can anything we make be? But at the core of it are principles that I value, so I consider myself a Socialist. After all, "as long as there is a lower class, I am in it." And, after all, somebody has to help the meek inherit the earth. I'll part with a story from the "Socialism in America" Wikipedia about good ol' Eugene Debs.

In June 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Espionage Act, which included a clause providing prison sentences for up to twenty years for “Whoever, when the United States is at war, shall willfully cause or attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty… or willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment of service of the United States”. The Socialists, with their talk of draft dodging and war-opposition, found themselves the target of persecution. Scores were convicted of treason and jailed.

After visiting three Socialists imprisoned in Canton, Ohio, Eugene V. Debs crossed the street and made a two-hour speech to a crowd in which he condemned the war. "Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder… The master class has always declared the war and the subject class has always fought the battles," Debs told the crowd.

He was immediately arrested and soon convicted under the Espionage Act. During his trial, he did not take the stand, nor call a witness in his defense. However, before the trial began, and after his sentencing, he made speeches to the jury: "I have been accused of obstructing the war. I admit it. Gentlemen, I abhor war… I have sympathy with the suffering, struggling people everywhere…" He also uttered what would become his most famous words: "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." Debs was sentenced to ten years in prison, stripped of his citizenship, and disenfranchised for life.


  1. "We already have several social programs that are huge parts of our culture..."

    Don't forget the military!

  2. That one's my fave cuz Republicans/Conservatives/What Have You love the military to the nth degree & would say (and I agree pretty much) that it is one of the best in the world. But doing the same thing with health care?! It would NEVER work! It would be awful! ;)

  3. Taylor,

    I wish to respond to your review of Surprised by Faith but am just now able to do so. Please forgive the delay and the length of this post. It is because of my love for you that I write this.

    First, if you or anyone would like to hear Dr. Bierle speak on the topic of "Without Excuse: Discovering the fingerprints of God in the world around us” go to this link:
    Dr. Bierle, as you mentioned, holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in life sciences and an M.A. in New Testament studies. This qualifies him as a scientist and makes him a credible source. Because he seemed to have taken the same journey that you are currently experiencing is the reason that I asked you to read his book. It had nothing to do with the fact that I read Ishmael. I asked to read that book so that I could better understand your thoughts. After which, I do not understand how a work of fiction could have turned your beliefs 180 degrees. You wrote, “If there is a viable reason out there to jump back into the fold, I’d love to hear it.” Believing that you are remaining open-minded gives me hope and reason to search for material to share with you. I also feel that because of the many sacrifices your dad and me have made throughout your lifetime to provide your needs and support your dreams gives me the right to request you read this book. By the way, no charge for that, like the song says. No guilt trip intended. Even so, I think that I have remained reasonable and not bombarded you with tons of stuff.

    Second, you mentioned purpose in life. Your dad and I have always taught that you do not have to be in full time church/mission work to have purpose. Purpose can be found in everyday life as God intends. Several years ago, you gave me a book titled, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. He writes, “ The golden rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience. If a man wants scientific knowledge, intellectual curiosity is his guide; but if he WANTS insight into what Jesus Christ teaches, he can only get it by obedience. Intellectual darkness comes through ignorance; spiritual darkness comes because of something I do not intend to obey.” The things that you listed as being passionate about are true blessings of God. But purpose comes from depending on God and His power. It is the process of obeying not the end that gives us purpose.

    Third, I was impressed with Dr. Bierle’s research on the historical reliability of the New Testament. True the other ancient writings were not trying to convince us to worship another but I believe that the evidence used is proof that God has protected the integrity of His book throughout the years and the eye witness accounts of the life of Jesus are by far the best preserved than any other literature in the world. This makes the New Testament a valid source of the life and miracles of Christ. According to these eyewitness accounts, Jesus demonstrated his authority over every domain and no other religion can claim that.

  4. Sorry! Told you this was long. Had to divide it into 2 posts.

    And last, I chuckled when I read your thoughts concerning Dr. Bierle’s wife. Based on your conclusions, Dr. B.’s only reason for becoming a Christian is because of woman. Wow! Really! His tons of education and years of research took a back seat to his manly desire for a woman! That doesn’t speak well for your gender and gives women credit for a lot of power over the male! LOL! So am I to conclude that Leah is responsible for your choices as well? Certainly not! Dr. B. spent 1-½ years searching & asking questions of science professors, and researching historical and scientific data. You wrote that science is not a religion. I agree. And that it is not a place for blind faith. I do not feel that Dr. B became a man of faith blindly. There are many doctors and scientists who are people of faith. Darwin himself admitted that his theory could be replaced with more discoveries and revelations. There is evidence of an intelligent designer. Science, while “not a place of blind faith” should be a place of open-mindedness, always seeking and searching. In the case of Dr. B, his search led him to believe in an intelligent designer who sent His son, Jesus to this earth. Other scientists of today also believe there is evidence to support the theory of intelligent design. For some reason they are being silenced by other scientists and even governments. Open-mindedness?? I don’t think so!

    I have no problem believing in the message of Surprised by Faith and I am thankful for the research that Dr. Bierle provided. I do not consider myself ignorant or arrogant for those beliefs. I would love for all to know the personal, loving God that I know. And so would He.

    Always your loving mother

  5. All I was saying was that for a scientist to make such a leap of faith in spite of huge logical holes and evidence that is, at best, inconclusive, he would need a reason to want to believe it. A motive, if you will. To me, its not hard to imagine that the love of a woman would give him ample reason to want to, even if it meant sacrificing his skepticism. Leah's not solely responsible for my decissions but she's had a huge influence on me, and me on her, I'm sure.

    Ishmael is a work of fiction only in the sense that Daniel Quinn wrote out his philosophy as a dialouge between two fictional characters. Everything they talk about is true, so I don't know why it would be hard to imagine it having a huge influence on me. Kurt Vonnegut's books are all fiction too but they've certainly changed my life and I'm sure the lives of many others.

    As in my review, I remain impressed by the "reliability" (for lack of a better word) of the New Testament. But there is a lot of doubt about whether or not these are actually "eyewitness" accounts. So who knows?

    As far as intelligent design goes, I would encourage you to look a little further than Ben Stein's Expelled. I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy to watch yet but I've been reading up on it and I think that man should be ashamed of himself. They lied to scientists to get their involvement among other shady dealings. I watched Ben Stein on Hannity and Colmes talking about the movie and he flat out said "we don't have any scientific evidence for Intelligent Design." His words. So why does it belong in a science classroom? There's a huge lapse in logic when you say, "we don't understand something so God MUST have done it." "God" just becomes a word for whatever we don't understand and not something real. If a scientist can discover a gene with irreducible complexity then you would have something to work with, until then, keep it in the church. The reason people are being "silenced" is because they're trying to give their religious views undeserved scientific merit. If Scientologists tried to get their version of Creation taught on equal footing in the science classroom what would you, honestly, think about that? If you were a biology teacher having to teach it as a real, viable, possibility, how would you feel?