Religion in society; poverty; The end of Progress in NY State?

13 Mar

What is the function of religion in society?

Religion is cultural indoctrination into the morals and rituals of ancient communities. The community eventually became a nation-state (e.g, The Roman city-state eventually evolved into the Kingdom of Italy). Hence conformity to the ideology and practices of religion means sharing in the community belief-system which helped it grow into a larger social organism.

“Faith means, not wanting to know what is true.” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Following are some arguments against religion.

1. Religion appeals mainly to the weak-minded, women, and the ill.

2. It promises relief from suffering.

3. It promises a reward up in the ‘next life.’

4. It plays on peoples’ fears.

5. It tries to control and direct human behavior.

6. It advocates for the family unit, the unit of patriarchal society.

7. It is the cell, as mentioned, of larger social organisms, the underpinning of civilization. Along with the state and the army, it is an institution that props up civil society, but at a tremendous price: free-thinking.

8. Its rituals appeal to the ‘mystical’ and ‘magical,’ qualities which we would associate with pre-scientific stages in thinking.

9. It calls for respect for authority at all costs.

10. It promotes the human conscience.

11. It exploits obsessive fears about death and guilt, which will paid for in the ‘next world.’

12. It imposes a strict model of morality on society.

13. It intersects with and influences public policy of secular governments.

14. It is basically an organized method of controlling the minds of the masses.

15. It mediates between the rich and poor, both of whom you have with you always.

16. It appeals to the irrational, not the rational, in human psychology.

17. It appeals to the feminine sense of morality, right and wrong.

18. It appeals to the masculine sense of morality, family,

authority and law.

19. It imposes patriarchal dictates upon otherwise free individuals.

20. It offers the illusion that we can communicate with someone up in the sky.

21. Religious conformism controls human impulses and subjects us to mythological-based belief-systems.

22. Religion exploits our darkest fears that we are not fully in control here on earth.

23. It is the ‘big lie’ that supposedly gives life meaning.

24. It is a connection with mankind’s past, which is something that must be overcome.

25. It appeals to the lower classes, who believe they will receive some kind of reward in another world, since they do not receive it in this one.

26. It exploits our need for social organization and order, and is the cultural superstructure built upon economic practices, which are the substructure.

27. It gives us ‘leaders’ whom we can look up to.

28. It promotes systems of charity, so that tax-free religious organizations can self-organize far from the scrutiny of media and the  government. It prevents greater levels of taxation and social spending — in other words, it is fundamentally anti-democratic.

29. Religion is the hold of the past over the present, and over the future.

30. Christian rituals celebrate ‘rebirth’ among the cold, snowbound peoples of the North, and hence help forge an ‘identity‘ among them, hence they hold onto religion out of sentiment.

31. Religion is basically a relic of prior centuries. Let us not forget, that the vast majority of people are not and never shall be philosophers.

32. It is ‘the opiate of the masses,’ Marx.

33. It keeps the rich feeling good when they give to philanthropy, and the poor happy when they receive it!

34. Religion is basically a form of brainwashing people into conforming with the social order, a form of ‘soft coercion,’a perverse idea of education which preaches that basic human needs are morally ‘wrong.’ For as Blake wrote, “Brothels are built with the bricks of religion.”

35. The more that a society becomes liberal, scientific and educated, the more likely it is to reject religious belief.

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For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we’d have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic — and, until this past month, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it.

Michael Moore, 3/2011

The problem of liberalism is that in the US – and this is true of all advanced industrial societies – there has been no significant reform of the existing of economic system for decades.

Stanley Aronowitz, CUNY

3/11

But the old compact of labour relations is breaking down, because the right is attacking it. The right is engaging in its own symbolic politics, and right now, they’re winning.

(ibid)

The government says there are 35 million people in this country who are poor; I would double that. There are 70 million people who are making less than $50,000 for a family of four. US income inequality is among the highest in the developed nations, and the middle class and the working class are bearing the overwhelming burden of taxation.

Liberalism has no agenda to tackle any of this. That is why this is a watershed moment, which only structural reform of the system can address.

(ibid, The Guardian)

Far more corporate executives, not known for their leftist inclinations, appear on Rose’s show than do leaders of environmental, consumer, labor and poverty organizations.

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The end of “progress?”

Postindustrial America seems to have given up on “Progress” — at least within the state of N.Y. All of the cities above the Catskill mountains are dying, economically, due to the end of the Industrial Age. Albany, Saratoga, New Paltz, Kingston, are quaint places without much economic growth, and harsh, harsh winters. The western regions of N.Y. are faring even worse. Utica, Syracuse, Buffalo, are principally places from which people leave.

There’s neither economic development nor new industry to attract people to live in the area. Hence, there are no new jobs for migrants to the region. All of the growth seems to have ended in 1973-4, when the oil crisis revealed America’s vulnerability, its lack of a coherent energy strategy, which had a devastating impact on Upstate NY. While Governor Rockefeller did many good things that kept NY State from absolute decline, no one today could claim that the Empire State is in optimum economic health. The “Environmentalist  Movement” succeeded in cleaning up natural resources in Upstate NY, but has also made corporations wary of investing in its future.

In 1974, NY City newsmen summarized Gerald R. Ford’s attitude to the city in the immortal header,  “Ford to NY, Drop Dead.” The state and city had requested money from Uncle Sam, who refused to bail out the welfare state. Pork and politics helped to kill NY State from that point on, as Republican Presidential administrations blew off the state entirely in terms of infrastructure and economic development. California was looked to as the model for growth, rather than the East and Midwest which became a ‘Rust Belt.’ Education replaced industry, as state Universities expanded, but the regions could not keep and attract many young people, who looked elsewhere for greener pastures. Rents were cheap  but jobs and prospects were few.

The 19th Century, by contrast, saw progress in the development of the Erie canal and Erie-Lackawanna Railroad systems. NY State was then thriving, its population bulging at the seams, its cities growing in all respects. NY State attracted emigrants of all types. These industrial and commercial forces created the powerhouse that was the Empire State.

But today, Upstate NY is in precipitous decline, having lost population to the Sun Belt. The beginning of this decline occurred during the early ‘70’s. The Opec Oil ‘crisis’, Watergate, and the Vietnam debacle helped to fuel protests. Racial conflicts took their toll as a violent upheaval broke out in the prison, “Attica.” The City ‘s financial crisis turned NY City into the “rotten Apple,” instead of the Big Apple. In 1977,  a serial killer who called himself “Son of Sam” made headlines. John Lennon was shot dead in front of his apartment, tragically, in 1979.

NY’s hegemony seemed to have come to an end. An inglorious end to a great state and city, littered with gangs, “disco music,” epidemics, maffia killings, and a general mood of apocalyptic chaos. White flight to the suburbs spoiled NY’s livability in terms of its loss of so many middle-class families. The left-wing protests against Vietnam and racism helped create an atmosphere of ‘outrage the middle-class’ which has not yet left us.

The suburbs, including Long Island, absorbed the bulk of the population, and NY City became a giant experiment in welfare ruled over by socialistic government and NYPD. “Big liberalism,” as enunciated by the Kennedy clan, seemed to become the butt of jokes. Ronald Reagan’s election fostered a right-wing discourse that inflames liberal opinion to this day. Meanwhile drug abuse exploded under his plutocratic reign. What will save NY city and State?

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