Sunday, April 09, 2006



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And here a few quotes from C. S. Lewis ( 1898-1963) on Democracy , Tyrants & Theocracy:

Democracy demands that little men should not take big ones too seriously; it dies when it is full of little men who think they are big themselves.

Nothing gives one a more spuriously good conscience than keeping rules, even if there has been a total absence of all real charity and faith.

Unpublished letter (20 February 1955).

Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst. Of all created beings the wickedest is one who originally stood in the immediate presence of God.

Reflections on the Psalms, ch. 3.

Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.

The Great Divorce, ch. 9.

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment, Res Judicatae (June 1953).

I am a democrat because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to the rulers and to the subjects. Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber baron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point be sated; and since he dimly knows he is going wrong he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations. And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic, held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated.

Of Other Worlds, p. 81.

Being a democrat, I am opposed to all very drastic and sudden changes of direction (in whatever direction) because they never in fact take place except by a particular technique. That technique involves the seizure of power by a small, highly disciplined group of people; the terror and the secret police follow, it would seem, automatically. I do not think any group good enough to have such power. They are men of like passions with ourselves. The secrecy and discipline of their organisation will have already inflamed in them that passion for the inner ring which I think at least as corrupting as avarice; and their high ideological pretensions will have lent all their passions the dangerous prestige of the Cause. Hence, in whatever direction the change is made, it is for me damned by its modus operandi...

I must, of course, admit that the actual state of affairs may sometimes be so bad that a man is tempted to risk change even by revolutionary methods; to say that desperate diseases require desperate remedies and that necessity knows no law. But to yield to this temptation is, I think, fatal. It is under that pretext that every abomination enters. Hitler, the Machiavellian Prince, the Inquisition, the Witch Doctor, all claimed to be necessary.

see article : Why C. S. Lewis Is Not a Culture Warrior by Ralph C. Wood

And also see:
Friday, March 03, 2006
PURPLE PATCH: I am a democrat... — Cs Lewis

And on Materialism & Reductionism see article at Discovery Institute website
C. S. Lewis and the Materialist Menace
By: John G. West
July 15, 1996

So anyway that brings me to where my discussion ended in my last post & continues with idea of Journalistic Integrity . One wonders if almost anyone in the profession of journalism can have integrity since they appear to be too close & chummy with those in power. They appear to be too easily manipulated by those in power. Up until the election of Stephen Harper as Prime Minister of Canada this applied more to the United States than to Canada but it seems our journalists are trying very hard to catch up. Now more & more journalist will have to take more seriously the more radical Neo-Conservatives & the angry & militant Religious & Christian Right who see everything in black & white terms of good versus evil & there are no grey area. To them our civilization is on the brink of disaster & only they have been able to see how all of this is playing itself out & only they have moral fibre & integrity & are aware of the dangers facing our society & only they have the vision to stop the destruction of our civilization ; that is Western democratic capitalist Christian society. This will be interesting to watch with Prime Minister Harper appearing to mimic George Bush’s style & possibly his militarism & expansionist agenda .

In my last blog I focused on the broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow who was a journalist of personal integrity & had the courage of his convictions to take on powerful individuals like Joseph McCarthy whom Murrow believed was abusing his position of power to destroy the careers of individuals based on rumor, hearsay & innuendo. To some even now Edward R. Murrow & other like minded journalists should be impartial & objective in their reporting .
It is also believed that journalists , for instance, should not be using anonymous insiders in governments or in private corporations as whistle blowers to discover whether governments or corporations are being completely truthful to the public.

For instance when representatives of the federal government of a nation like the united States or Great Britain or Canada tells people that they want the people of their country to support the government & its military in their plan for going to war according to many journalist & the public in general should accept what those in power tell them as the “ Gospel Truth” & have “ Faith “ in those in power.
When the Bush administration presented their argument for going to war & invading Iraq they claimed their decision was based upon certain intelligence which had been gathered which those in authority claimed left them with no other option except to invade Iraq.
The Neo-Conservatives & the Christian Right telling us over & over again that we are involved in a Global Conflict with Terrorist call anyone who dares question those in power in the United States or Great Britain & Canada as being “unpatriotic ” “ soft on terrorism” “ anti-democracy” “ anti-Christian ” “anti-Capitalism ” “ anti-Western ” & part of the “ Great Secular Humanist Conspiracy ”
Others like Edward R. Murrow would argue that one should question those in authority & investigate to discover if what is being told to the public has some basis in fact .

There is this odd notion that journalist when reporting on a story they should be impartial & objective. It is claimed that both sides of a story should be given a fair hearing. It is contended that all sides be represented that each be given credibility . In many disputes or controversial events current or historical this approach may be appropriate. My contention ,as it were, is that this is not always the case. For instance Edward R. Murrow believed that Joseph McCarthy was abusing his position of power & Murrow made a judgement call. He believed there were important values at stake. There are certain instances in which one is forced to judge the merits of both sides & then render a judgement. Being fair-minded or open minded does not mean that one is simply “empty headed “ or that we do not hold to certain moral values. It is in this reluctance to make such judgements based upon certain moral principles that liberals & moderates & even those on the left have, at times, done a great disservice to themselves & to our society. It has left them without articulated principles or a comprehensible world view which can compete in the market place of ideas with those to the far right,& with the Neo-conservatives & the followers of Ayn Rand's " Objectivism" or the Christian Right or other fundamentalist religious groups be they Islamic or Hindu or some small fanatical cult . What is needed is a more comprehensive well thought out liberal philosophy which can be rigorously defended.

To digress for a moment consider some historical event like the Holocaust which sent six million Jews to their deaths. This was not a matter of opinion , it was & is not a matter to be resolved by public debate. First it is an historical fact. Secondly it was an act of horrifying proportion; if any act can be called “ evil” then it surely was an evil act. It was a crime against humanity since it was a deliberate attempt to wipe off of the face of the earth a particular group of people. Hitler & the Nazi party & millions of Germans focused all of their fear, resentment & hatred on the Jews of Europe claiming they were the cause of Germany’s & the world’s ills. My contention is that the extermination of six million people was morally wrong. Millions of other people stood by as the Holocaust took place & did nothing & did not speak up. Some because of indifference to Human Suffering while others did not speak up out of fear & others because they themselves were anti-Semitic & others did not believe it was happening or who could not imagine the extent of the tragedy .

Given the facts of the Holocaust ( SHOAH) if a journalist at that time had discovered Hitler’s plans for THE FINAL SOLUTION should the journalist keep quiet or should the journalist present “ both sides of the case ” entering into a debate that can not be debated. My belief is of course the journalist should speak up & report it without hesitation because it is his/ her duty as a journalist & as a human being to do so.
The Nuremberg Trials conducted after WWII attempted to bring about at least some form of justice to punish at least a few of those who took part in this horrendous event. This further led to the creation of a set of international laws to deal with any cases that might occur in the future .
The same I would argue applies to other similar situations such as the Genocide in Rawanda in the 1990's & the world then stood by & did nothing even though the world was told about it as it was happening.
So journalist at times are forced to speak out & to take sides.
This also applies to other atrocities committed in any part of the world whether it was committed by the Soviet Union in Tibet or a dozen other countries or the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (1975-1979)or the more public attack on America by Al Qeda on 9/11 or the War Crimes of Saddam Hussein or those committed by American soldiers at My Lai ( or the hundred other villages wiped out in Vietnam by US soldiers) or by American soldiers Special Forces or C.I.A. in El Salvador, Chile, Gautemala or Honduras or at ABU Ghraib Or Quantanamo .
Torture, for instance, is not a relative term though Bush Rumsfeld et al think it is.. It along with Genocide & other Crimes Against Humanity are well defined by International Law though George W. Bush and his friends see themselves as the true & only & final interpreters of law since they are God’s Messengers & enforcers.
The Bush administration supported by Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair & now by the new Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper claim that they will not be ham-strung by what they consider to be antiquated & “ quaint” international laws. They therefore reject all such international laws including those regarding the rules of engagement & Crimes against humanity and the prohibition on torture & inhumane treatment of combatants, prisoners of war & non-combatants & the requirements on nations to protect non-combatants in a war zone & to take on the responsibility to look after the basic needs of the civilian population i.e. food, water, medical needs, clothing & adequate shelter etc. once they have replaced the regime that was in power when they attacked that country .

( In future blogs I will discuus further on the need for articulated values as we venture into the Death of God, Reductionism, & Relativism C.S. Lewis meets Immanuel Kant & Ludwig Wittgenstein for Tea at a nuclear test site - see you there - )

Anyway here are a couple of examples of how the Bush administration & its friends have misled the public as they changed their story about the threat Iraq & Saddam Huesein presented to the world as the agenda of the Bush administration changed from 2001 to the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 .
These examples show that the decisions of those in power ought to be questioned & investigated. How does this sort of “ Flip-Flop” actually take place ? Are these the sorts of leaders that the American, British & Canadian populace should put their trust in ?

2001: Powell & Rice Declare Iraq Has No WMD and Is Not a Threat
from the website THE MEMORY HOLE

During the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, we were repeatedly told by US leaders that Iraq absolutely, positively had weapons of mass destruction [read more]. The country was an immediate threat not only to its neighbors but to the entire world. It had the capability of launching WMDs within 45 minutes.

In August 2002, Cheney insisted: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction."

In a March 2003 address to the nation, Bush said: "Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised."

In April 2003, Fleischer claimed: "But make no mistake--as I said earlier--we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about."

In February 2003, Powell said: "We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more."

But two years earlier, Powell said just the opposite. The occasion was a press conference on 24 February 2001 during Powell's visit to Cairo, Egypt. Answering a question about the US-led sanctions against Iraq, the Secretary of State said:

We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq...

[See the page on the State Department Website with Powell's Cairo press conference. The Memory Hole's mirror of the page.]

AND further:

But Powell wasn't the only senior administration official telling the truth before the truth became highly inconvenient. On 29 July 2001, Condoleezza Rice appeared on CNN Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer (an anonymous reader sent me the full transcript from Lexis-Nexis). Guest host John King asked Rice about the fact that Iraq had recently fired on US planes enforcing the "no-fly zones" in Iraq. Rice craftily responds:

Well, the president has made very clear that he considers Saddam Hussein to be a threat to his neighbors, a threat to security in the region, in fact a threat to international security more broadly.

Notice that she makes it clear that Bush is the one who considers Hussein a threat. She doesn't say, "I consider..." or even, "We consider..."

Then King asks her about the sanctions against Iraq. She replies:

But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.

In this news item we are told that much of what has happened in Iraq since the United States invaded the country the administration had been forewarned but refused to heed the warnings since they already had a plan & believed it to be workable & so refused to listen to any who doubted their plans & forecasts.

Common Dreams NewsCenter
Published on Sunday, October 19, 2003 by the New York Times
State Dept. Study Foresaw Trouble Now Plaguing Iraq
by Eric Schmitt and Joel Brinkley

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 — A yearlong State Department study predicted many of the problems that have plagued the American-led occupation of Iraq, according to internal State Department documents and interviews with administration and Congressional officials.

Beginning in April 2002, the State Department project assembled more than 200 Iraqi lawyers, engineers, business people and other experts into 17 working groups to study topics ranging from creating a new justice system to reorganizing the military to revamping the economy.

Their findings included a much more dire assessment of Iraq's dilapidated electrical and water systems than many Pentagon officials assumed. They warned of a society so brutalized by Saddam Hussein's rule that many Iraqis might react coolly to Americans' notion of quickly rebuilding civil society.

Several officials said that many of the findings in the $5 million study were ignored by Pentagon officials until recently, although the Pentagon said they took the findings into account. The work is now being relied on heavily as occupation forces struggle to impose stability in Iraq.

The working group studying transitional justice was eerily prescient in forecasting the widespread looting in the aftermath of the fall of Mr. Hussein's government, caused in part by thousands of criminals set free from prison, and it recommended force to prevent the chaos.

"The period immediately after regime change might offer these criminals the opportunity to engage in acts of killing, plunder and looting," the report warned, urging American officials to "organize military patrols by coalition forces in all major cities to prevent lawlessness, especially against vital utilities and key government facilities."

Despite the scope of the project, the military office initially charged with rebuilding Iraq did not learn of it until a major government drill for the postwar mission was held in Washington in late February, less than a month before the conflict began, said Ron Adams, the office's deputy director...

So see you later,

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