Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Ron Paul”

Pro-choice and pro-life

At first sight, the use of the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” to represent opposing ethical viewpoints seems a little strange. Are “choice” and “life” necessarily opposed to each other?

When they first came into general use I assumed (on no evidence) that people settled on those terms in order to avoid negative stereotyping in debate. Saying someone is “anti-” something sounds so negative, and it is generally better to say what one was for rather than what one was against.

The illogicality of the implication that “choice” and “life” were antithetical was regarded as the price one had to pay to avoid negative stereotyping.

Or at least so I assumed thirty years ago when “pro-choice” and “pro-life” first began to be bandied about in public debate.

But now I am not so sure.

It seems from recent debates that they really are antithetical. There’s this US Senator Ron Paul. I know nothing about him except that American libertarians (or at least those American libertarians whose blogs I sometimes read) seem to like him.

Now if there is one thing that seems to characterise American libertarians, it is that they are pro-choice. They seem to elevate choice to a supreme value. The essential freedom is the freedom to make choices (provided, of course, that you are rich — but that is an unspoken condition).

And in a recent TV debate, it seems that “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are indeed antithetical. GOP Tea Party Debate: Audience Cheers, Says Society Should Let Uninsured Patient Die:

“What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn’t have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage? Are you saying society should just let him die?” Wolf Blitzer asked.

“Yeah!” several members of the crowd yelled out.

Paul interjected to offer an explanation for how this was, more-or-less, the root choice of a free society. He added that communities and non-government institutions can fill the void that the public sector is currently playing.

This has led to an interesting discussion in the Progressive Orthodox Christianity forum on Facebook, where I first learnt about the incident.

And in that discussion I suggested that if Christians were to adopt the “let them die” attitude, then the story that Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) would have to be modified to the effect that the rich man, in Abraham’s bosom, seeing Lazarus burning in hell, would say to him “it’s all your fault — you didn’t have health insurance.”

I’ve written about that aspect of it in more detail in other blog posts, so I won’t repeat all that here.

But what I have discovered from this recent incident is that pro-choice and pro-life are indeed antithetical, and that “pro-choice” is mainly about the inalienable right of the rich and powerful to choose when those poorer and weaker than they are should die.

What is a libertarian?

What is a libertarian?

I read the blogs of people who claim to be libertarians, and it’s really hard to tell.

  1. Some sound like libertines.
  2. Some sound like liberals on steroids.
  3. Some sound as though they believe the universe has given them the right to grind the face of the poor into the dirt, forever, and they are just longing for the opportunity to do it.

And some sound like all three, switching from one to the other in as many sentences.

Hat-tip to Ron Paul Is Not a Libertarian | Clarissa’s Blog — I originally posted the above as a comment in response to Clarissa’s post, but thought I would also post it separately as well.

There is a chain or restaurants here in South Africa that advertises by saying “You can’t have too much of a good thing.”

It is an invitation to gluttony, saying, in effect, that over-eating is not a vice.

I am a liberal, and I generally think that liberalism is a good thing.

I think that liberty, human freedom, is a good thing.

But when I read blogs by people who claim to be libertarians, I get the impression that what they are after is not so much liberty as licence. That is why I say that they are like liberals on steroids.

Liberals think that liberty is important, it is an important value, and the lack of it should be remedied as quickly as possible. Libertarians seem to believe that personal liberty is the only value, and that everything else must be subordinated to it.

Someone once asked me how, as an Orthodox Christian, I could say that I was a liberal. They thought that liberalism was the essence of everything that is evil and wrong with the world.

Yet Orthodox writers assume that freedom and love are essential characteristics of being human. For example, Christos Yannaras (1984:33) writes


Man’s insistence on his individuality is an indication of his failure to realize his personal distinctiveness and freedom, of his falling away from the fulness of existence which is the life of the Trinity, personal coinherence and communion in love. This falling away is sin, amartia, which means missing the mark as to existential truth and authenticity. The patristic tradition insists on this interpretation of sin as failure and ‘missing the mark,’ as the loss of that ‘end’ or aim which for human nature is its existential self-transcendence, taking it into the limitless realm of personal distinctiveness and freedom.

But making freedom the main thing, or even the only thing, as libertarians seem to do, is to turn freedom into an idol. It turns liberty into an ideology, a kind of binding principle, so that in embracing the idea of freedom, and bowing down and worshipping it, one actually loses one’s freedom. When one makes liberty a principle and a rule by which everything is judged, one loses one’s freedom to live and to act; freedom as a false god is anything but free.

______

References

Yannaras, Christos. 1984. The freedom of morality. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press.

Iran war speculation and oil prices

Ron Paul, the US senator who was running for the Republican Party’s presidential candidate has said that speculation about an Iran War is driving the oil price up.

Informed Comment: Paul: Iran and Energy Crisis:

Ron Paul on Iran and the energy crisis. He argues that speculation about a US or Israeli strike on Iran is driving some of the increase in oil prices.

The OPEC president should know a thing or two about what drives oil prices and he agrees.

The speculation has been going on a long time ago — according to some, the war should have started two years ago or more, so it can’t be the only thing that’s driving the oil price up.

Hat-tip to Mard.

Notes from underground: US Presidential candidates redux

A couple of weeks ago I did one of those tests to see which of the US presidential hopefuls I should vote for if I were a US citizen: Notes from underground: US Presidential candidates unravelled

The answer was a tie between Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

Today I found another such quiz, and tried it to see if it would confirm the first one.

But this time the top candidates were Dennis Kucinich, Rudi Giuliani and Mike Gravel.

I remember Giuliani was pretty near the bottom of the previous quiz, and Kucinich has come top on both. So it looks like Kucinich is the one I should be rooting for, even if he didn’t push off the top searches on Technorati.

Political Compass shows that all of them, except Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, belong to the authoritarian right.

US Presidential candidates unravelled

I get bewildered by discussions on blogs, newsgroups and elsewhere on the various US presidential hopefuls. I’ve no idea what most of them stand for or whether I should agree with people who laud them to the heavens or denounce them for their evil policies.

But then I found one of those web sides that asks about policies and links them to candidates, so now I can at least have an idea of who the good guys are (the ones who agree with me, natch!)

So if I was in the US and was a US citizen, these are the two guys I’d be tossing the coin between:

Ron Paul
Score: 28
Agree
Iraq
Stem-Cell Research
Abortion
Social Security
Energy
Death Penalty
Disagree
Immigration
Taxes
Health Care
Line-Item Veto
Marriage
Dennis Kucinich
Score: 28
Agree
Iraq
Immigration
Taxes
Health Care
Social Security
Death Penalty
Disagree
Stem-Cell Research
Abortion
Line-Item Veto
Energy
Marriage

— Take the Quiz! —

And if you can’t see it properly because it spills over into the sidebar, check it on MySpace.

Post Navigation