Moral figures without moral authority

There is a story that Josef Stalin, hearing mention of the Pope, asked dismissively ““How many divisions does the Pope have?”  The quotation, if true, is compelling, because it perfectly illustrates the Leftist viewpoint that the only power is that which comes at the point of a gun.  The notion of moral behavior and moral authority is utterly alien to the statist.

An interesting question, therefore is what happens to a figure of supposed moral authority who is the product of a statist society?  JKB sent me the answer to that question, which is that the person recognizes that moral dimensions exist in a given situation, but is utterly incapable of believing that there is a way to use his authority to enforce that morality.  The following quotation comes from a long, stream-of-consciousness description a British man of the cloth wrote about the riots in Salford:

My clothes stink of smoke and I want to weep with rage at a society that has disenfranchised so many for so long whilst brainwashing two/three generations of children to want, want, want!  I can still hear the sheer joy in that lads voice, ‘X-boxes! iPhones! You can get whatever you want!’  All of his empty dreams being fulfilled – well temporarily anyway.

I also feel a kind of empty, shocked sorrow that I heard young children being taught to hate the police as they arrived, that parents would send them into dark, dangerous buildings to loot to feed their own greed, happy to teach them that stealing and looting and robbing and mindless waste and destruction are ‘funny’, because if I heard that once I heard it a thousand times tonight.  ’I just think it’s funny!’

I saw the faces of police personnel, hardened with concentration for the task at hand, while people laughed at the potential damage they would inflict on somebody else’s wife, son, daughter, mother.

The trouble is, we do have a two tier society without a doubt, and while bankers have been allowed their bonuses having stitched us up every which way, we will continue to pay for this in more ways than one, and tonight is just one of them.  With the cuts aimed primarily at the poor and the needy and the disenfranchised, things can only get worse.

And what will we do?  Continue to promulgate the values that have created this deadly cocktail of haves and have-nots, faithless, hopeless people who have been taught that consumerism is a recreational right and all moral and religious education completely nonsensical?  Surely THIS is nonsensical?!  [Emphasis mine.]

I don’t doubt at all the despair or moral decency of the person who wrote that plaintive cry.  What concerned JKB, and what concerns me, is his helplessness. Even as he carries on him the smoke from his burning country, and even though he is a man of the cloth, he sees the problem solely in statist terms.  While he mentions the words “moral” and “religion,” he doesn’t seem to see either morality or religion as answers.  Instead, the problem, in his mind, is the usual pap about “haves and have-nots,” with the answer being to use his moral authority, not to inculcate morality, but simply to decrease consumerism. Without inculcating values in people, though, the only way to decrease consumerism is the Stalinist way — at the point of the gun, and we’ve seen lately just how well that works.

 

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  • Charles Martel

    Actually, the Brit authorities are in a bit of a tizzy over the possible use of frickin’ rubber bullets, so I don’t think we need to worry about a Stalinesque response.

    Do you remember Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet? In one scene Robby is commanded to destroy an invisible menace that is attacking his master, Dr. Morbius. Robby freezes, unable to carry out the order because it would violate Asimov’s First Rule of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being. Unbeknownst to Morbius, the invisible monster is actually a projection of his own id, the beastly part of our psyches. Robby cannot kill his own master.

    I mention to illustrate the “Robby Dilemma: in the UK, and soon in the US, find themselves in: How do you obey an order to discipline your own constituency? How do you rein in the people you are depending on to vote for your runaway pensions, salaries, and gold-plated benefits, and who approve of your campaign to oppress people who =gasp= defend themselves and their poroperty with guns and fists? These people are your master!

  • Mike Devx

    That fellow that Book brilliantly described is precisely the problem in Great Britain.
    This is why there is little doubt that civilization is in decline in that country, and indeed throughout most of Europe.
    When you will not fight for what you love, when you just murmur pathetically at the passing away of what you love, guess what?  IT WILL PASS AWAY.

    There are those in England who are beginning (finally) to question the wisdom of leaving their law abiding citizenry defenseless against the hoodlums, criminals, predators, forces of chaos.  The police are responders, not preventers of crime.  More and more, from what I hear, it appears they are well trained sociologists, and poorly trained lawmen. It would be ludicrous and laughable, if it weren’t instead so totally depressing.  I hate to see this happening.

    Will that poor British gentleman discover his spine… will he discover that what he CLAIMS to love is worth actually loving, which means caring deeply about… which means: defending?  Will he defend what he claims to love?  Or will he let it all go gently into the dark, dark night?  Civilizations are fragile.  They can, and do, disappear.

     

  • jj

    Max Hastings sees the problem in statist terms, too.  He has a somewhat different slant on what it is the state’s actually accomplished, though.    

    http://nation.foxnews.com/london-riots/2011/08/10/max-hastings-years-liberal-dogma-have-spawned-generation-rioters

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    At the point of a gun, when you have not yet disarmed the population? Probably not wise.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I agree with Devx. People who say they love their country, yet wish to loot their country for self-aggrandizement and greed, don’t really love much of anything other than themselves.

     

  • shirleyelizabeth

    What a sad time in a once beautiful place. A few quotations from a story I read recently (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8693536/Raised-to-rampage.html):
     
    “We wanted to show the police we could do what we wanted,” explained another looter moralist. “It’s the Government’s fault. Conservatives or something like that, yeah.”
     
    “Criminally ill-educated, they seem to lack the mental capacity to feel simple compassion.”
     
    “A report by the Centre for Social Justice found that the UK excels in the three D’s of family breakdown – divorce, dysfunction and dadlessness.”
     
    “They need police to police, teachers to teach, parents to parent, politicians and clergy to give moral leadership…”

  • Charles Martel

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, a scholarly man who is vastly out of his moral depth, said that he could see the British co-existing with sharia law in whatever self-segregated communities that decide to impose it on themselves and their women.

    Keep in mind that RW is considered one of Britain’s great intellects. Yet with a straight face he can pretend that a savage moral system should somehow co-exist with a legal system that once was among the finest that men have ever created.

    Multiply this hapless, clueless coward by hundreds of thousands and you have Britain’s academy and ruling class.

    When you go to clean out termites and expose the rot they’ve brought to your house, you can’t hide your eyes or pretend that the damage is less than what you bring to light. These riots may be a godsend, a final chance for Britain to really bsee what its termites have done to it and shake off the stupor of welfarism and the incredibly demeaning racism of multi-culturalism.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Speaking as an Anglican /Episcopalian, I can assure you that Rowan Williams is a moral idiot.

  • Gringo

    Danny Lamieux
    Speaking as an Anglican /Episcopalian, I can assure you that Rowan Williams is a moral idiot.
     
    Perhaps Rowan Atkinson has been  performing as Rowan Williams. His TV show “The Thin Blue Line” is perhaps appropriate in light of the recent riots.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rowan_Atkinson

  • Mike Devx

    Our federalist system is what may save us here in America – but only just in time, if that.

    We may see cities or municipalities go bankrupt first, due to pension debt or bond debt.  How different states handle that will be a lesson to other states soon to follow.  Or, as riots and rampages spread (in say, Chicago, or Philadelphia, or other liberal bastions), other states are free to act independently based on lessons learned.

    And when the first state goes bankrupt?  Then we’ll have a true test.  California, Illinois, Michigan, or ???

    There are golden, wonderful lessons to be learned from Wisconsin, currently.  What a laboratory in which great successes have occurred.  And not just recently: welfare reform under Clinton and the Republican Congress actually began with the successful “laboratory experiment” of Tommy Thompson’s Wisconsin.  Ohio may also prove to be a significant laboratory, as liberals/labor focus their ire next there.
     

  • jj

    I said a couple of months ago in a post about crazy archbishops of Canterbury that England would be better off with Atkinson than they are with Williams.  I’m not sure Williams even believes in God, and there’s certainly no danger of anyone every drowning at his moral depth.  Great voice, though – which I suspect is why he got the job.  Nobody on earth intones better.

  • SADIE

    A look back five years ago (July 2009)
    Cameron softens crime image in ‘hug a hoodie’ call

    Cameron will repeat pledges to help deal with such problems by expanding charities and social enterprises rather than state services, arguing they can provide the love missing for such children and that no child is beyond redemption. The think-tank report argues that while official figures show that one in 30 crimes end in a conviction, many more – particularly sexual offences – are not reported. Counting these, the conviction rate would be ‘a fraction of 1 per cent’.
     
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/jul/09/conservatives.ukcrime
     

    What a maroon – a Cameroon!

  • SADIE

    Danny


    On the topic of idiots and since you live in the state, care to comment on the Law of Unintended Consequences.





    ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) – The city of Rockford is getting a little darker under a plan to save $500,000 by removing 2,400 streetlights.
     
    http://www.wlsam.com/Article.asp?id=2260122&spid
     

    So..I checked around the net and Rockford is 9 out of 10.


    http://gwopmagazine.com/2011-top-10-most-dangerous-cities/

  • Danny Lemieux

    SADIE – Rockford – a harbinger of hope and change, soon coming to a neighborhood near you. 

    A state of morons, run by morons, for the morons. Help! 

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    If you’re walking on the streets at night, go towards the noise and the lights. The moment you are in some dark corner, you create the opportunity for criminals to do their dirty deed or ambush methods.

    This was the rather critical mistake that couple in Lousiana made after they exited the Republican fund raiser in Orleans or so. Never keep going into the dark, around the corner, away from the lights, when suspicious people are following you. Either turn into the threat and destroy it, or force them to attack you where people are looking and when you are going towards potential help or active buildings.

     Of course, some people are more dangerous in the dark than in the light of day. And I’m not talking about criminals.

     What I see is a lot of buildings and schools with “lights” on even when nobody is there. That’s not saving power is it… so Obama and the feds will make a law demanding lights down at 8 PM.

     

  • Charles Martel

    I remember one of the iconic photos from the 1992 Rodney King riots in Los Angeles showed a group of Korean store owners standing side by side in profile, each of them holding a pistol or a shotgun. That show of determination saved their neighborhoods and freed the cops to focus elsewhere.

    The photos of Turkish and Kurdish shopkeepers in London massing to resist attacks on their turf was a good thing. Yes, they are a politically correct group that the ruling elites have grudgingly given the right to self defense (they’re white, but not really white enough, therefore PC) and, yes, they are segregated into their neighborhoods under multi-culti, but what the hell: They were ready to kick ass no matter what the ruling fops think. Me likey.

    Fortunately, we’re not as deballed here in America as the Brits. As Rick Blaine told Major Strasser in Casablanca, “Well, there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.” It will be interesting to see which neighborhoods, if things continue going south in this great country, summon up their own versions of those determined Korean grocers.

  • SADIE

    If you’re walking on the streets at night, go towards the noise and the lights. The moment you are in some dark corner, you create the opportunity for criminals to do their dirty deed or ambush methods.
     
    Not if you live in Illinois, the elected crooks do their dirty deeds in front of the camera.


    http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/bill-kellys-truth-squad/2011/aug/11/media-cover-up-durbin-confrontation-reporter/

  • pst314

    “The photos of Turkish and Kurdish shopkeepers in London massing to resist attacks on their turf was a good thing.”
    Except in the minds of the British police, who <i>have no tolerance</i> for free citizens exercising their fundamental right to self-defense.

  • pst314

    “I want to weep with rage at a society that has disenfranchised so many for so long”

    Poor JKB doesn’t know what “disenfranchised” means. He doesn’t think. He only parrots the brain-dead cliches of the Left.

    I suspect that this “man of the cloth” spent far more time studying left-wing philosophy than the Bible.

  • http://bookwormroom.com Bookworm

    pst314:  I have to apologize for muddled writing that left a confused impression.  JKB isn’t the author of that foolish British lament.  He is a regular friend and commenter at this blog, and as strong and wise a conservative thinker as you’ll find.

  • pst314

    Book: No, I should apologize for careless reading! I clicked the link and read the article, but did not retain the name of the clergyman. Then, when I wanted to type his name, I scanned your post in an all-too-hasty fashion rather than making the effort to follow the link again. (Insert image of Homer Simpson slapping his head.) Sorry about that!!!

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Martel, America, no. But California? Probably yes.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    JKB is an ally. No blue on blue here. Leave that for the trigger happy untrained union police in Mexifornia or something.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    One of the things you will notice is that police officers are put in more danger the more unionized they become. Why? Because how much money can the city pay for police when each LEO costs as much as one of Saddam’s gold plated toilets? Instead of paying one cop a bunch of bennies, instead they could reduce the pay and increase the number, and thus ease the load and danger for everyone else. Instead of one LEO needing 12 in backup to stomp a guy into the mud because of “resisting arrest”, proper training and control methods won’t require more than 2 or 3 officers, working as a team, to subdue even the most crazy people on the streets, without unreasonable force.

     You get more cover, you get more bang for your luck, and the LEOs get less work load and less risk because they always have backup right in their squad car.

    Would officers of the law really want to go it lone wolf? Are they really that confident in their H2H skills and firearm shooting skills, when the unions don’t allow live ammunition practice and when the unions take away numbers for an increase in the salary and benefits of a single officer? Certainly if they are so confident, they wouldn’t need 12 officers to stomp down on this one guy resisting arrest…

     Key word “if”.

     Too much insider knowledge about what really goes on with SWAT and city/town police forces have trickled down to me on this matter for me to assume the Left hasn’t influenced our police forces.