The "Moral Values" That Got Bush Re-Elected are Neither - Moral or Ethical
By Dr. Gerry Lower
Dec 7, 2004, 12:48
A Christian Ethical Morality is a Rejection of Religious "Morality"
The conservative American electorate has loyally and faithfully returned the Bush administration to the White House for another term of dominion by right wing religious capitalism. The notion of "moral values" is credited with playing a significant role in this outcome, the American electorate apparently holding a percent or two excess of those who favor George Bush's conservative religious "morals" over John Kerry's "liberal" secular morals.
More than any other characteristic, these two competing moralities define the "Two Americas" created by the Bush administration's religious agenda, in spite of Bush's promise to be "a uniter, not a divider," and in spite of the religious freedom guaranteed to Americans by the separation of church and state.
As employed, however, the terms, "moral values," reflect a rather awkward conservative American grasp of concepts like "morals" and "values" and their relationships to each other. The conservative right wing is in favor of values, but only as long as those values are "moral," i.e., codified in religious law and enforced with fear of punishment. In other words, the religious right sees morality and legality as essentially the same thing (which they are not).
Morals have little to do with law and everything to do with values. Indeed, all moralities are based upon and derived from values, and it is with values that discussions of morality properly begin. In the interest of tangible unity, there would be almost certain merit in examining America's two moralities and their relationships to each other and to the values of democracy. It comes down to a morality based in law or a morality based in human rights.
MORALITY BASED IN LAW
Religious morality is based in legalism and penalism to provide an absolute, negative "morality" consisting of things "thou shalt not" do, a "tit-for-tat" morality designed from the start to maintain itself and the status quo of the 2-dimensional cultural world of "good" and "evil" it produces. Old Testament morality has little to say about things "thou shalt" do in the interest of human morality (which properly derives itself from the values of nascent Christianity and democracy, e. g., honesty and compassion).
As the complementary opposite of eastern ethics and "goodness," western law and "morality" is symbolic for behavior that ostensibly has moral content if obeyed. Yet, when taken to its own extreme, when religious ideology is taken as a value, when the law and punishment becomes more important than honesty and decency, a legal "morality" can easily have no moral content in principle and no ethical content in action (e.g., capital punishment, preemptive war, Abu Ghraib).
The entire program of western religious morality is based, not upon empirical or experiential fact, but upon several Biblical era assumptions that were flatly rejected 2,500 years ago with the emergence of science, natural philosophy and democracy in ancient Greece. It would take the western cultural world over 2 millennia to begin to comprehend this knowledge-based approach to ethics, all the while sinning and suffering under the dominion of religious Roman imperialism, European colonialism and "American" capitalism.
In other words, a legal/penal "morality," when taken religiously, has very little to do with being ethical or moral and, therefore, very little to do with values-based concepts of justice. It has traditionally had more to do with vengeance-based "justice" and self-righteous conquest and control (albeit in the name of nascent Christian values).
This is how absolute religious legalism has justified itself for 1700 years, during which time it has played the driving evolutionary role in moving "the people" from tribal to national to global levels of human organization. Having largely fulfilled its cultural evolutionary role, the need for global political unification under the auspices of democracy is apparent and this can only be accomplished by exposing the false assumptions that have sustained religious legalism.
1) Religion assumes that it is possible (and necessary) to legislate morality.
It is not possible to legislate morality, an experiential fact known since ancient Greece. If this religious assumption were true, after millennia of religious legal dominion, the world ought be an exemplar of legislated morality and peace by now, but it is not. Instead, the world is being torn apart by religious "morality" with its embrace of vengeance, self-righteousness and preemptive violence. In this regard, it is difficult to distinguish between the major branches of Abrahamic religion, i.e., Judaism, JudeoRomanism's "Christianity" and Islamism.
Under the dominion of religious capitalism, it is only possible to "legislate" legality and loyalty, and only then by coercing and imposing obedience through the use of fear, fabrication and threats of punishment. Law thusly imposed has little to do with the values of democracy and nascent Christianity.
2) Religion assumes that it is possible to codify a law that is appropriate to all people in all times and all places.
General applicability (leave alone universal applicability) has never been a characteristic of the law. An example comes from the Mosaic Decalogue's "Thou shalt not kill," ostensibly the direct dictate of God. With every declaration of war, this is the first law to be abandoned in the name of both self-righteous conquest and self-defense. While religions take the law absolutely, there is no such thing as an absolute law, particularly when the rich and powerful are able to circumvent the general applicability of the law.
This is in contrast to the world of human knowledge and natural philosophy in which there are many concepts that are universally applicable. Consider, for example, the fact that all people on earth were delivered here via the feminine half of humanity. All people on earth began their journey as a fertilized human ovum. All people on earth have participated in the beyond-breath-taking internal processes of genomic information expression that code for a human baby.
3) Religion assumes that obedience and morality are the same thing.
Obedience and morality cannot be the same thing. In being obedient to law, the best that can be consistently achieved is obedience. People oppressed by unfair laws, imposed religiously under threat of retribution, have always managed to survive by being obedient (at least in public), even if that stance required obedience to liars, scoundrels and tyrants. Without this obedience, feigned or blind, absolute legalism could not have served imperialism, colonialism and capitalism.
Recognition that legality and morality are not the same thing was central to the emergence of science and democracy in ancient Greece. Five hundred years later, this recognition was central to the emergence of nascent Christianity as a rejection of absolute legalism, vengeance-based moralities, self-righteousness and marketplace values. Eighteen hundred years later, this same recognition was central to the emergence of Jefferson's nascent Christian democracy in America. Obedience for obedience's sake is slavery.
4) Religion assumes that there is no such thing as a bad law.
It is true, of course, that the bulk of western cultural evolution, in moving from absolute religious law to human rights as a political bottom line, has involved the elimination of bad laws. These are the laws that would exile those with disease, laws that would imprison those in debt, laws that would punish those who dissent, laws that would discriminate against the working poor and laws that would favor the already-too-rich rich. Taken together, religious despotism produces a legal "morality" that mocks the values of honesty and compassion and human rights.
There is, of course, ample precedent for good laws consistent with the values of democracy. Religious laws are a posteriori (after the horrible fact), looking for a smoking gun and someone to punish in the name of "justice." The laws of choice in a democracy are a priori laws (before the horrible fact), designed to mend the social fabric, nourish fairness and prevent the people from falling through those holes that lead to disenfranchisement and self-denigration.
5) Religion assumes that the absence of law and order is anarchy.
Anarchy is not the opposite of law and order. Anarchy is the reciprocal of tyranny. Anarchy is visited when individuals "lord" it over society and its justifiable needs (e.g., "The Lord of the Flies"). Tyranny is visited when society "lords" it over individuals and their justifiable needs (e.g., Judeo-Roman imperialism, European colonialism, "compassionate" conservatism and crony capitalism). Either way, "the people" are out of the equation.
Jefferson and his revolutionary peers declared open war, not on anarchy, but on all forms of "tyranny over the human mind." To place the highest emphasis on human values and human knowledge, to place the highest value on the nourishment of human rights rather than law, is not to open the doors to anarchy, it is to close the doors to tyranny. It is to open the doors to Democracy, as a proud example of a collective anarchy, when the people take control of their own government.
While the agenda of "compassionate" conservatism would maintain a religious tyranny in the name of a "controlled society," its operational arm, crony capitalism, is about as close to an individual anarchy as is possible to achieve. In other words, a religious tyranny has, at its core, an individual anarchy comprised of "tin god" individuals in service primarily to themselves (e.g., Kenneth Lay and Enronomics).
Taken together, it is clear that the very foundations of law, as an approach to societal order, are mere assumptions that have never born the test of time. It comes down to the difference between employing fear and fabrication to coerce obedience in and loyalty from the people or employing human values and knowledge to help the people think and decide for themselves, help them find common sense and common agreement in the knowledgeable human truth.
It is the difference between seeing the people as children who need to be told what is right and wrong and seeing the people as citizens able to make their own decisions about right and wrong if provided the honest truth. It is the difference between religion and nascent Christianity. It is the difference between despotism and democracy.
The emergence of nascent Christianity was a rejection of the values of both ancient Judaism and ancient Romanism (which together provided the millennial exemplar of a legal "morality" steeped in immorality). The legal morality of Judaism and the imperial morality of Romanism saw it necessary to imprison and execute the first Christian as a political dissident. For promoting human rights and a compassion-based ethical morality, the Savior of today's religious right was silenced by those promoting the same religious agenda that the religious right now promotes.
Three centuries post-crucifixion, during Constantine's reign over Rome, the universal authority of Judaism was assigned to Roman law and the values of nascent Christianity were held high to justify Roman imperialism. The result was the emergence of Old Testament Roman "Christianity" which, from the onset, employed its defense of nascent Christian values to pardon its self-righteous imperialism, as it would later employ the same defense to pardon colonialism and capitalism.
MORALITY BASED IN HUMAN RIGHTS
Within a democracy, the only legitimate basis for morality resides not in law but in human rights as set forth in nascent Christian doctrine and as employed by Jefferson's Declaration in defining American values. Human rights (in the interest of honesty) transcend both western law (in the interest of control) and eastern ethics (in the interest of acceptance), being derived logically by dialectic synthesis of complementary opposites, in this case the values of western religious and eastern ethical systems (www.jeffersonseyes.com/dialectics.html).
Establishing a political theory based in nascent Christian human rights and, at the same time, based upon the separation of church and state, was the genius of America's Revolutionary founders. It produced, for the first time, a nation based in human values divorced entirely from religious supernaturalism and absolutism. Religious differences were no longer justifiable as a basis for conflict, except as played out on the Sunday afternoon softball diamond. This is the miracle of America, the miracle that made America the envy of all people longing for freedom.
That Christian miracle is precisely what the Bush administration has destroyed in America, by re-establishing the same religious self-righteousness that silenced the first Christian, the same religious self-righteousness that conquered the western world at the tip of a double-edged sword, the same religious self-righteousness that held the American colonies in bondage. Breaking away from that religion-based bondage in the name of human rights is what set America apart from the western world.
The Bush administration has destroyed the dialectic human values of democracy in America, largely in the name of religious capitalism. This is seen by a philosophically-challenged American press and right-wing public as being somehow a perfectly natural progression of Jefferson's democracy. It is not.
The Bush administration has lumped all of western Christendom into one despotic Old Testament heap as if the Protestant reformations had never occurred, as if America was founded by Catholics on behalf of the Papacy. This is seen by a compromised American press and right wing public as being somehow a perfectly natural progression of western religion, from conservatism to liberalism to conservatism. It is not.
The Bush administration is not mildly disliked but outrightly detested by about half of the American electorate and the bulk of the people in the educated world, but not because of its religiosity per se. The Bush administration is detested because it has broken the freedom contract and it has imposed its religiosity on the people to justify itself, its despotic policies at home and its unilateralist policies in the world. In doing so, it has compromised America's image as a democracy and perverted America's involvement in providing global leadership.
Moral failures ultimately cause the downfall of all despotic regimes, as they will cause the downfall of George W. Bush's administration. This is the only possible outcome when the values of the regime become more important than human values, when the regime itself becomes more important than the people it governs.
The beauty of Jefferson's Democracy is its basis in nascent Christian human rights and in religious freedom. As long as we accept and honor the dialectic human values of natural philosophy and democracy, then we are free to believe as we see appropriate in the spiritual realm and the realm of personal "Why" questions, as long as we impose those beliefs upon no one else.
Several native American tribes in the southwestern U.S. believed that if a couple loses an infant in childbirth, they could bury that infant in the earth beneath their home and the next child that they conceived would be the one that they had lost. Today, of course, we do not bury infants beneath our homes and science tells us that this belief could not be true. Even so, it remains a potentially healing concept for a bereaved couple to accept, as long as they do not propose making their belief into a law.
Natural philosophy necessarily provides a natural theology with a great deal of room in it for individual belief. As Jefferson knew, we each have our own personal relationships with deity. We each have our own personal origins and purpose in life, our own reasons for being here. In natural theology, it is our agreed upon collective values that count the most, and not so much our individual beliefs with regard to personal "why" questions.
Old Testament Roman religion has had its day in the sun, wrong about most everything empirical, even wrong about the nature of the Christ and the Christian message, as Jefferson and Franklin well knew. With religion's "end of man" and natural philosophy's "beginning of human," we must all learn to live with our own God, the God of all people. We must learn to live with ourselves. Our only moral obligation is to be honest and caring, to think for ourselves, to make our own judgments of other's "moral" judgments and to be true to ourselves in word and action.
The human values of nascent Christianity, natural philosophy and democracy are neither liberal or conservative, they are neither male or female. They are human values, and human is the only way God can be.
Dr. Gerry Lower lives in the shadow of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota. His website is an introduction to postmodern natural philosophy and can be explored at www.jeffersonseyes.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This Christmas ... Next Christmas
Dr. Gerry Lower, Keystone, South Dakota
"We are, I believe, among countries, the least Christian, the least decent, the least compassionate, the least kind government on the globe. Nowhere else can I think of does greed, power, corruption, vengeance, bigotry, and hatred more rule the day under the guise of Christianity and democracy than in the United States. Other nations with "Christian" traditions, like Germany, France, Italy, and England, at least have basic health care for their people and abhor the death penalty." - Elaine Cassels, "This Christmas," December 24, 2003 (www.counterpunch.com)
The above statement is a remarkable example of human honesty in the face of Roman religion's millennial lie - self-righteous conquest in the name of the enlightened one - whom the Greeks referred to as the "Christos." In keeping with Judeo-Roman tradition, America under George Bush is dishonesty, ignorance, self-righteousness and belligerence personified. We are like the guy who has conquered dozens of women ... proud of himself in the midst of sin, thinking he is on top of manhood while residing on the very bottom. What is this, if not uneducated adolescence?
For all his meritless pomp and power, George is nothing but a puppet "anti-Christ" in the strings of right wing religious fundamentalists, who in turn maintain Constantine's JudeoRoman lie, his perverted fusion of Old Testament and Roman legalism with nascent Christianity to produce New Testament self-righteous conquest in the name of compassion. It is this millennial religious duping of the people that has brought us to where we are, from tribal to national to global human organization, good people doing bad things in the name of a larger good. That lie was an evolutionary inevitability with the emergence of nascent Christian philosophy in a ancient despotic world. That lie, and the conquest-bent attitudes it has nourished, have blindly promoted the exponential economic unification of the world's people and set the stage for the emergence of a global political philosophy.
George Bush and his puppeteers and followers are religiously incorrigible, transcendent of human knowledge and logic, above rethinking anything which they already know with religious certainty. There will be no stopping the cultural imperative which they have currently put in place. It will be George the Burning Bush who will blindly fulfill religious prophecy, to end by discrediting absolute legalism (which has traditionally linked JudeoRoman theology and state economics and braced up imperialism, colonialism and capitalism).
Thanks to George, religious legalism and crony capitalism will be discredited from the global political arena ... forever, and the doors will be fully open to a global democracy, a global human village and world peace. We have an awakening American citizenry and a more highly-practiced European citizenry to make it happen as the dust of apocalypse settles back to earth.
Ours is not to stop Judgement Day. Ours is to survive it. We must, so as to be around for the judging and able, for the first time, to actually learn some things about morality and justice that transcend the despotic rules of Abraham's primitive religion. There can be no other justification for America's complete and total fall from Jefferson and Franklin's Democracy and its roots in nascent Christian human rights.
To Elaine Cassels' trenchant analysis, we can add that capitalism's America is, among the western democracies, the least well-educated, most shallow, least intellectual, most ignorant, least thoughtful, most self-righteous, least honest, most deceitful, least spiritual and most destructive. We are the least family-oriented, least community-oriented, least democracy-oriented nation in the western world. We have become, under Bush's watch, just another wretched religious nation, justifying whatever we please by employing the authority of capitalism's Abrahamic god in the name of nascent Christian values. We look to be truly bad, too bad for religious capitalism to ever recover from what it is certain to do in the name of preserving itself.
Because the people have not yet found their global voice, and because we still abide a script written millennia ago, we (and our hopes for freedom and fairness and decency in the world) are trapped in an American JudeoRoman world that understands nothing and fears everything. We are caught up in a cultural evolutionary program that embraces all people on earth, a program to which most of us must remain blind most of the time, in order for the ancient western cultural program to complete itself, EOD, end of data. The only possible outcomes are the fulfillment of religious prophecy and, at the same time, the redirection of cultural evolution toward global human self-comprehension and the emergence of humankind.
Think about it. There will be global singing and dancing. It will be calmly rapturous. It will be honestly glorious. It will be heavenly in scope to participate in the creation of an entirely new entity on the face of the earth, an entity with infinite capacity for honesty and compassion and doing good on this planet, an entity soon outstripping our current abilities to foresee its capabilities and purposes.
Life is inherently complementary. The next millennia of cultural evolution will be the flip-side of past millennia. It will involve turning the traditional world upside down, so it is finally pointing up. With that accomplished, cultural evolution will be in our own hands and dedicated to the emergence of a global human village, a global earth garden and a global embrace of deity on earth. We have come so far and we have yet so far to go.
Life is, in fact, just beginning. Life is always just beginning. Life is all that Life knows. Life comes of itself - from the inside out.
That is why Jesus and Jefferson taught us to think for ourselves.
The world is still running according to plan, with no where to go but up. Think about it, and have a meaningful next Christmas, a nascent Christian Christmas, as all Christmas's were meant to be.
? Copyright 2004 by AxisofLogic.com
Dr. Lower can be reached at: email@example.com.
Biography and more articles by Dr. Gerry Lower