Philosophy of Freedom

According to F. A. Hayek’s social and political thought, the tradition of liberty is not the exclusive creation of any single country. Consequently, no nation or group of individuals have sole possession of the secret related to such tradition whose origins can be found in the ancient Greeks, the Italians of the early Renaissance, and also on the French and German contributions. Briefly, the tradition of liberty is an open system not bounded by particular institutions or policies taking place in specific and eventual circumstances.

Hayek also said that the principles of a philosophy of freedom extends far beyond technical economics or any other single discipline. This is a very crucial point of view, because without a theoretical vision it is not possible to understand the unity that must be found in every political, economic and cultural aspects of our society. This is also why there is a very important distinction to be made between freedom and liberty, the first concept being related to a transcendent principle that justifies, in all senses, the second one.

In other words, freedom is the principle that guarantees, by itself, that liberty cannot depend on discretionary authority stemming from social or political rulers, neither stemming from a previously defined framework of rights and duties that, somehow, enable the individual conduct in what respects his own fate or destiny. Going further, the principle of freedom is revealed by the Spirit, making its own appearance in human thought, then capable of bringing it to concrete and civilized existence.

The words freedom and liberty have been both distorted, intentionally or not. First of all because emotions and even noble sentiments have perverted the intellectual sphere capable of guaranteeing the real content of those words. Second because that same content has been disparaged to the point where vague terms are undermining all kind of clarification in what concerns conceptual guidance.

That´s the reason why Hayek insists, pertinently, in the interweaving of philosophy, jurisprudence and economics with the purpose of a better understanding of the value of freedom and, consequently, of a free society. Besides that, he also warns that freedom is not merely one particular value, but the source and chief condition of all moral and spiritual values. In this sense, Hayek, especially in his book The Constitution of Liberty, says: «What a free society offers to the individual is much more than what he would be able to do if only he were free».

In fact, Hayek´s terminology preference points tofreedom, being more related with the original meaning of the concept, this one regarding not the mere range of one person’s choice, but basically his own expectation regarding the course of action in accordance with present intentions. Besides, the original meaning of the word can also be described as “independence of the arbitrary will of another”, a more sharp but unquestionable expression.

Above all, it is important to clarify that freedom does not mean physical “ability to do what I want”, because, if so, we are contributing to a confusion that may become very dangerous, once it can, eventually, lead political and intellectual leaders to identify liberty with power. In this way, very common to socialist leaders, the word liberty, once perverted, can be used to destroy individual liberty, which, conceptually speaking, transcends most deeply the absence of obstacles to the realization of our desires. According to this, freedom does not means omnipotence, or a demand of power like it can be found, for example, in some “liberal” circles, in the United States.

These circles are, in some sense, inspired by intellectuals like John Dewey, whose ideology has been spread, not only in the United Sates, but also in European countries, like Portugal. In the last one, the high school students are, somehow, obliged to assimilate this ideology inserted in school programs, to not speak in whom, mentality conditioned by “university Marxism”, is responsible for officially teaching that same ideology. Moreover, the appeal of this false ideology is perfectly understandable in a socialist content, claiming as it is the redistribution of wealth in the name of liberty.

According to Hegel’s Principles of Philosophy of Law, the redistribution of wealth is, significantly, named as an abstract product of the “empty intellect”, or an “abstract idealism”. In another words, coming now from Orlando Vitorino, a Portuguese philosopher, the true question can be defined in the following terms: justice is not related with equal distribution of wealth according to socialism, but instead related with uneven disparity among men, things and the world itself.

To the philosophical conception of Orlando Vitorino, Freedom´s universal, being a different issue regarding Justice – whose real concept takes place only when it implies everyone -, does not prevent individual liberty in the presence of collective liberty, once freedom, in its absolute and universal meaning, is not realizable in extensive terms to the totality. Thus, property can be understood, more even as an economic relation, like an effective manifestation of freedom, where, through its substantial religiosity, is also the main basis of the personality and, above all, the perpetuation of the family and love relations.

Orlando VitorinoIn fact, Orlando Vitorino, inspired by the Aristotelian philosophy of Álvaro Ribeiro, could also see that human reason is always inscribed in the world relations between beings, souls and spirits. In this sense, human thought, more properly said, appears like a spiritual and rational movement capable of knowing the genuine world, and, by that process, guarantees that no longer principles like Freedom, Truth and Justice can be conceptually crystallized or, simply, determined by mere human subjectivity. According to this, the principle of Freedom, for example, is not, by essence, immediately related with action, in spite of, through it, being susceptible of revealing itself in deep and multiple ways.

It seems perfectly understandable that Freedom, characterized as a transcendental principle, cannot be either physically or conceptually conquerable. However, it must be possible the existence of conceptual thought without which Freedom can no longer exist among us. Despite all, we should be aware in the presence of empty and revolutionary ideologies which have been and still are preparing global’s serfdom.

In Portugal, political, economical and cultural serfdom is an indisputable fact, although most people, living as such, are not conscious of it. And the reason for their awareness can be accurately found in university structures practically dominated by materialistic ideologies, initially imposed under the consulship of the Marquis of Pombal, a tyrant of the eighteenth century. Just to have an idea of the pombaline structures impact in the last two centuries in Portugal education, we must say that the existence of private education institutions have just appeared after the Communist Revolution in 1974.

“Universidade Livre” (“Free University”) was, probably, the first private university institution coming from those days of revolutionary delirium. That can be explain by the fact that all teachers, methods or programs schools were being undermined by Marxism ideology, responsible for the breakthrough of institutions, financiers enterprises and private properties. As most similar institutions of the present, the “Free University” was, ironically, not free, or really independent from public education, because, implanted as an administrative extent of it, was simply keeping and promoting the same teachers and the same learning methods coming from school state institutions.

Orlando Vitorino was a vehement critic of this cultural centralization, especially when he was working as an inspector for the Gulbenkian Foundation, namely to the Gulbenkian Library Service. He mainly wished that a private institution, like this Foundation, could indeed take the opportunity to create an independent University, truly inspired by the Portuguese culture routs. Unfortunately, it was totally in vain because the Gulbenkian cultural policy was then, like it is in present days, adopting an official model practically dominated by state cultural institutions.

Orlando Vitorino, a classical liberal thinker, just knew very well how powerful socialism was, especially regarding to cultural activities, such as music, architecture, poetry, literature and, most of all, philosophy. Today, socialism continues to be very powerful not just in cultural activities, but also in political and economical ones. In conclusion, socialism is, specially today, a non-ideological combination of public and private sectors, but still projected by a powerful global movement whose historical existence is barely perceived by normal and common people.

19Miguel Bruno Duarte is a Fellow in Philosophy and Political Science at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

HOKA HEY! Part 2.

Inasmuch as human nature never changes, hardly surprising are the similarities between the oppression visited upon the Plains Indians and the oppression common Americans suffer today. For example:

(i) The Establishment of the late 1800s destroyed the Plains Indians’ economic independence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and security by killing off the buffalo and thereby rendering the nomadic hunters abjectly dependent on niggardly handouts from the Great Father in Washington’s corrupt Indian agents. This was economic subjugation through control of the actual physical resources necessary for the Indians’ survival.

Yet even before that era, the Establishment had already created institutions designed to deprive all common Americans of their economic independence, self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and security—as well as the ability to retain the real wealth they created and earned by dint of their own efforts. These institutions included the first and second Banks of the United States, numerous State banks, and the National Banks first set up during the Civil War. Eventually, these schemes for the incestuous coupling of bank and state matured into the modern Federal Reserve System, under the aegis of which bank and state now appear inseparable. This was—and remains—economic subjugation through control over so-called “financial” resources.

Control over “financial” resources does provide an extensive measure of control over physical resources of all kinds—otherwise, to modern men steeped in the sin of avarice, it would be pointless. But its great strength as a devious device for social control is that it is indirect, operating through the pseudo-intellectual and legalistic fictions called “currency” and “credit” that not one person in ten thousand understands. Contemporary “currency” purports to be a medium of exchange, a measure of value, a store of value, and even “legal tender” for all debts, public and private—although, in contradistinction to the “money” of the free market and the Constitution, it is not itself composed of silver, gold, or any other valuable physical substance, and is not redeemable in any such substance at a fixed rate of exchange guaranteed by law.

At base, such “currency” amounts to nothing more than the politicians’ trick of transmuting their naked command into an instrument for transferring real wealth. After all, translated from the Latin, the familiar term “fiat currency” means “let it be currency.” Such “currency” is not akin to true “money” by dint of its economic nature and free acceptance among people in the marketplace, but is required—by dint of the government’s physical compulsion when other means fail—to be taken or treated as “money” by everyone. And contemporary “credit” is even more ethereal, being nothing other than the creation of new “currency” out of new debt—the bankers’ alchemical trick of transforming liabilities into assets simply by saying it is so.

Moreover, modern “currency” and “credit” are not even necessary resources for contemporary Americans. The Plains Indians could not survive without food—if not buffalo meat, then whatever rations the Indian agents deigned to provide. Their dependency was physical, and eventually became insurmountable by any actions within their power. Contemporary Americans, conversely, could easily survive without today’s fictitious “currency” and “credit”—and would be far better off without them, and certainly without the parasitical politicians and special-interest groups that fatten off of them. Modern Americans’ dependency is psychopathological, and its continuation largely self-imposed, proving once again the truth in the wag’s dictum that “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time—and that’s good enough!.”

Yet, although ultimately derived from nothing more substantive than economic, political, and legal fictions and deceptions, the Establishment’s ability to create “currency” and “credit” ex nihilo and ad infinitum remains the primary source of its tremendous economic, political, and cultural power, both open and subterranean.

On the surface, that power dominates both the economy and the political process. The entire economic life of the United States has degenerated into servile dependence upon whether the Federal Reserve System increases or decreases interest rates (and by how much)—that is, upon how fast the banks create new “currency” and “credit” (because no significant overall contraction in the so-called “money supply” has occurred since the banking collapse of the early 1930s). The Constitution identifies “We the People of the United States” as its authors. The markets are composed of We the People in their capacity as free economic actors. Congress is the agent of We the People in their capacity as political sovereign. And the Board of Governors as well as the entire Federal Reserve System are the mere statutory creatures of Congress. Nonetheless, the markets await each announcement of the bankers’ pleasure with baited breath. Congress sits in awed silence as the various Chairmen of the Board of Governors lecture it. And We the People do nothing. Self-evidently, this state of affairs proves that, as a practical matter, where money and banking are concerned the free market is held captive by a special-interest group, the constitutionally empowered National legislature is not the actual lawgiver, and worst of all the titular National sovereign is subordinate to someone else.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the alliance among politicians, bankers, and their clients in high finance and big business to control America was widely known as “the Money Power.” As Frederick Townsend Martin observed in 1911, in his book Passing of the Idle Rich, [Also read the book; “The Coming Battle” originally published in 1899] [i]t matters not one iota what political party is in power or what President holds the reins of office. We are not politicians or public thinkers; we are the rich; we own America; we got it, God knows how, but we intend to keep it if we can by throwing the tremendous weight of our support, our influence, our money, our political connections, our purchased senators, our hungry congressmen, our public-speaking demagogues into the scale against any legislature, any political platform, any presidential campaign that threatens the dignity of our estate.

Nothing has changed since then. Today, perspicacious Americans can identify the people who “own America” economically and politically. The question is what can common Americans do about them.

Under the surface, too, the power over modern “financial” resources—the power to create “currency” and “credit” ad libitum—exercises an insidiously corrupting and self-reinforcing influence over Americans. This is no accident. Those seeking to exploit, dominate, and oppress others usually attempt, at an early stage of the process, to corrupt their victims, so that they can manipulate and control them through their vices. In the late 1800s, the Establishment corrupted the Plains Indians and undermined their personal self-respect and communal coherence by plying them with “fire water”. That was simple psychological corruption mediated through physical addiction. False prosperity generated through unlimited debt made possible by expanding supplies of new “currency” and “credit” emitted by the banks is the contemporary “fire water” on which the Establishment has hooked all too many Americans.

Importantly, whereas each Indian’s addiction to “fire water” was a personal predicament, and became a social problem only after sufficient numbers succumbed, Americans’ intoxication by contemporary “credit” is a socially destructive phenomenon from the inception in every instance in which it is involved. Traditional “credit” is simply a deferred execution of a contractual obligation, as when a buyer purchases some commodity today, but pays for it only later on. In such a transaction, the seller has extended “credit” to the buyer, in the form of time. The buyer may pay more for the commodity than the original price (if the “credit” incurs “interest” or some “service charge”); or the seller may receive less than that price in real terms (if the “credit” does not incur such a surcharge, and the seller has a positive time preference). But, in either event, the transaction involves just those two parties, and has no effect whatsoever on the so-called “money supply” of society as a whole. Different amounts of “money” change hands, depending on the terms of the transaction; but the total supply of “money” throughout society remains the same, whatever the terms.

Much contemporary “credit,” distinguishably, is made possible only through the creation of new “currency” when the “credit” is extended and for that purpose. A bank “credits” a client’s account with some amount of “currency” created in order to make that very loan. Thus, the transaction increases the total “money supply.” More consequentially, the new “currency” then enters the economy at a particular point and time, and then spreads through the market on some idiosyncratic path, changing the structure of prices and redistributing real wealth as the market realizes there has been an injection of new purchasing power, and reacts to it. Exactly who the losers in this process may be is difficult to predict. But the bank that generates the new “credit” and its client who employs it are always the winners. And surely society always loses overall. For if banks throughout the system create significant amounts of new “credit” in the capital markets—thereby imposing so-called “forced savings” on the rest of society—their actions set in motion the familiar “business” (or “boom and bust”) cycle, leading eventually to depression, or perhaps to hyperinflation followed by depression. And if the banks create new “credit” for the public treasury—that is, by “monetizing public debt”—their actions facilitate a particularly vicious species of “taxation without representation,” in which part of the present generation receives the benefits of governmental deficit spending, while future generations of taxpayers—who have cast no votes in the matter—are expected to pay for them.

Although socially destructive and politically abusive, the contemporary “currency” and “credit” scheme is self-reinforcing in its degeneracy. Its first stage involves simply the organization of avarice: providing the means by which some people can obtain something for nothing by redistributing other people’s wealth through spending new “currency” into circulation. This is bad enough. For the easy availability of “credit” convertible into new “currency” encourages an unbridled, debt-based consumerism, steeped in hedonism, materialism, and a mania for “economic growth” which inevitably results in a self-imposed serfdom of consumers to the creators of “credit” and “currency”—whether those consumers be private individuals or public treasuries.

The second stage is worse. It entails support by the clients of the creators of “credit” and “currency” for the entire economic, political, and ideological system that allows the latter to ply their trade—because that system is the only source of future “credit” to subsidize the clients’ on-going exorbitant life-styles that require spending beyond their real means. A never-ending cycle of overconsumption, financed with private and public debt floated by expansion of “credit” and “currency,” demands support for politicians who promote policies that grease the skids for such false prosperity. This turns voters hooked on debt-based consumerism into dependents of the politicians, rather than the politicians being servants of the voters. In their turn, the politicians become dependent on the bankers—so that political, as well as economic, power inexorably gravitates towards one special-interest group to a degree no free society would ever countenance.

The third stage is worse yet. For the types of politicians who support endless expansion of “credit” and “currency” tend to bring with them a compendious agenda of other economic, political, social, and cultural corruptions. For example, no politician who approves of Congress’s creation of the Federal Reserve System, and the System’s “monetization of public debt,” likely employs “original intent” in constitutional interpretation, opposes the delegation of governmental powers to private special-interest groups, believes in limited government, or wants to reduce to the minimum bureaucratic intervention in the free market. Rather, he most probably advocates “the living Constitution” (that is, the Constitution politicians and judges make up as they go along, to serve their immediate interests), political-cum-economic “partnerships” between government and influential private interests, and comprehensive political “management” of the market (what used to be called “central planning,” before the collapse of the East bloc finally discredited that rubric).

The fourth stage is worst of all. For, after this process has worked its insidious wiles on several generations, spiritual corruption takes over. Whatever they may believe, people act as if there were no god but Mammon, with Caesar his prophet and the bankers his priests.

In sum, contemporary “credit” and “currency” constitute a social narcotic more dangerous than the alcohol to which the Plains Indians became addicted. For chemical dependencies hardly ever approach the point at which so many people are affected that an entire society collapses. But a general breakdown has not infrequently afflicted countries hooked on the endless expansion of fictitious “currency” and “credit”1—such as Germany in the early 1920s, and Argentina and other major South American countries serially since World War II.

And this is not the only parallel in the history of oppression that contemporary Americans need to recognize as applicable to them.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published on April 9, 2012, on NewsWithViews.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

 

We Are Not in Kansas or Kiev Anymore

TThe entertainment industry in Hollywood is an influential world force.

When I am in my office, I am only about 45 miles north of the heart of the entertainment industry in Hollywood, California.  The drive takes an hour . . . or two or three, if there’s traffic.

Increasingly, I am called to speak around the world in far away places such as Poland, Ukraine, India, Japan, or the border of Laos.  When I step on the plane, I find Hollywood movies and television programs.  When I go into the jungle of the highlands of Thailand, Hollywood is still very close nearby—there are satellite dishes run by generators connected by exposed wires, which bring Hollywood entertainment into the flimsy grass huts of the people.  The children in these villages try to dress like the Hollywood stars they idolize and try to mimic their lives—right down to the smoking, drinking and sexual promiscuity. Hollywood is not just a geographic place anymore, but a huge entertainment industry that reaches the world, for good or ill.  Aided increasingly by foreign investments, it is the United States of America’s voice to people everywhere, especially the youth.  As Jesus told the leading spokespeople of His day, “It’s not what goes into the mouth that defiles a man, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man” (Matt. 15:11, CSB).  All too often, what comes out of the mouth of our entertainment-oriented culture are movies such as Hostel, Kill Bill, Sex and the City,and Saw IV.

Countless scientific studies of different kinds, including longitudinal studies of the effects of the media, have clearly shown the powerful influence that the entertainment media has on people’s cognitive development and behavior, especially children, teenagers and young people, who represent the biggest audience for entertainment programming from the mass media, including Hollywood.  In fact, according to media consumption statistics from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), by the time he is 17-years-old, the average child will have spent up to 63,835 hours watching movies, videos and TV programs, playing video games, or listening to music.  In comparison, by the time he is 17-years-old, the average child will have spent only 11,000 hours in school, 2,000 hours with their parents, or 900 hours in church if they regularly go to services.  Thus, in one year, the average child might spend about 3,755 hours watching movies and television, listening to music or consuming other media, but only about 52 hours in church (if they attend once a week).

In 2000, the Surgeon General of the United States agreed with four top medical groups, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as well as countless psychological and neurological experts, that violence in the mass media is contributing to increased violent behavior among children and teenagers (see “Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children,” Congressional Public Health Summit, July 26, 2000).  Not only that, but many scientific studies from other sources, such as education professor Diane Levin, author of Remote Control Childhood? Combating the Hazards of Media Culture, and psychologists like Dr. Victor Cline, Dr. Stanley Rachman, Dr. Judith Reisman, and Dr. W. Marshall (see pages 87-110 of The Media-Wise Family by Dr. Ted Baehr, Chariot Victor Publioshing, 1998), have found that viewing sexual images in the media has led to increased sexual activity among children and teenagers and increased deviant behavior, including rape.  Furthermore, a 2001 Dartmouth Medical School study of New England middle-school students, reported by the National Cancer Institute, found that viewing drug use in movies and TV programs leads to increased drug use among children (press release dated 03/23/01 by the National Cancer Institute).

A long-term study released in 2002 proved, once again, the negative effects of today’s popular visual media on children, teenagers and young adults.  Published in the journal Science, the study found that teenagers and young adults who watch more than one hour of television, including videos daily, are more likely to commit violent crimes and other forms of aggressive behavior.  The study, led by Dr. Jeffrey G. Johnson of Columbia University and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, followed children in 707 families in two counties in northern New York state for 17 years.  Adolescents and young adults who watched television for more than seven hours per week had an increased likelihood of between 16 and 200 percent of committing an aggressive act, including criminal behavior, in later years.  The study found a link between violence and viewing any television, not just violent programming.  This study is important not only because of its long-term nature but also because it proved a link between television viewing and violent criminal behavior apart from environmental characteristics such as low family income, living in an unsafe neighborhood and parental neglect (Jeffrey G. Johnson, Patricia Cohen, Elizabeth M. Smailes, Stephanie Kasen, and Judith S. Brook,  “Television Viewing and Aggressive Behavior During Adolescence and Adulthood,” Science, Vol. 295, No. 5567, 29 Mar. 2002, pp. 2468-2471).

“The evidence has gotten to the point where it’s overwhelming,” Dr. Johnson says.

A study by the Rand Corp. in 2001 and 2002 of American children aged 12 to 17, reported by the Associated Press, found that those children who watch a lot of television with sexual content are about twice as likely to start having unmarried intercourse during the subsequent years as those with little such exposure.  “Exposure to TV that included only talk about sex was associated with the same risks as exposure to TV depicting sexual behavior,” the Rand. Corp. said (Associated Press and Seattle Times, 09/08/04).  A more recent study led by Dr. Jane Brown of the University of North Carolina of children aged 12 to 17 had similar findings that exposure to media sex leads to increased sexual promiscuity among teenagers.  “The media are also important sources of sexual norms for youth,” this study reported (Reuters, 04/03/06).

All of these studies about the negative effects of the media are incredibly disturbing. This is especially true in light of studies by the Parents Television Council in 2006 and by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in 2005 showing that the amount of violence and sexual content on television has doubled since 1998 and a 2005 study by the think tank Third Way that the number of pornographic pages on the Internet has risen more than 3,000 percent since 1998 (Parents Television Council, 2006; Los Angeles Times, 11/10/05; and, Associated Press, 07/27/05)!

When I drive to Hollywood to preview a movie at a screening, I visit studio executives to help them understand this influence they are having on the children and grandchildren of the United States and the world.  The good news is that many of them are listening.  The type of entertainment being produced is gradually moving away from salacious, ultra-violent R-rated movies to family films with faith—movies such as Amazing Grace, Prince Caspian, The Nativity Story, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Even Rocky Balboa has found faith in Jesus Christ.  Now, every studio is pursuing the Christian faith-based audience.

Even so, there remains a large residue of movies with rotten values in the bloodstream of the culture, and the entertainment industry is still producing a significant number of rotten movies and television programs are still being produced.  So while so much contributes to establishing society’s mores, Hollywood no doubt has a secure foothold as the epicenter of what is popular and what is not.  Clearly, what happens in Hollywood does not stay in Hollywood.  What Lindsay Lohan wears, Justin Timberlake sings and George Clooney says will ripple its way not only to the heartland of America but well beyond.  Indeed, the culture clash thrives from Kansas to Kiev.

READY TO COLLIDE

Sometimes, the influence of the mass media of entertainment on far away places helps us to reflect on our own problems and vulnerabilities as well as our influence on the culture of the world.  For two years in a row recently, I spoke in Kiev, a city in Ukraine that’s emerging from totalitarian suppression.  The pastor of the church where I preached told me that his father had been tortured for his outspoken faith in Jesus Christ in the very hotel where I was staying.  Now this pastor has a megachurch of over 1,000 and a growing group of almost 200 churches.  The mayor of Kiev is his Spirit-filled Christian friend.  The president, whose wife is from America, is a thoughtful Christian.  Business is booming.

Yet on the other hand, Ukraine has the highest rate of AIDS/HIV, prostitutes and women sold into white slavery in Europe, and at night the streets are filled with empty alcohol bottles.  In 1994, there were only 183 registered cases of HIV, but by 2004 that number had grown to more than 68,000 (“Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2004,” UNAIDS, 2004, no. 52).  “Ukraine . . . has replaced Thailand and the Philippines as the epicenter of the global business in trafficking women,” an article from the New York Times noted (Michael Specter, “Traffickers’ New Cargo: Naïve Slavic Women,” The New York Times, January 11, 1998).  While sin was no stranger when communism reigned in Ukraine, one cannot help but notice how consumerism has adversely affected the nation’s youth.

So it is the best of times and the worst of times for the people of Kiev.  They asked me to teach them media wisdom to navigate the treacherous rapids of the changing culture—a culture that seems to be at war with itself.  The communist oppressor of the East has left in disgrace and the materialistic pornography of Hollywood has blatantly and seductively taken its place.  Two great rivers of conflicting cultural values have converged into a raging torrent of cultural confusion.  A churning flood threatens to sweep aside a bright future for the precious next generation.

How do people navigate the cultural rapids?  In Japan, a home-school conference has grown phenomenally in the past few years as families consider taking their children out of schools where materialism is so rapacious that young girls are selling themselves to buy iPods.  These Japanese flocked to listen to my talks on cultural wisdom in search of guidance.

What is happening, why is it happening, and how do the messages of the mass media of entertainment influence us, our children, each society and the world as a whole?  Is there any hope?  Can we navigate a safe passage to reach the still waters and green pastures of Christ’s kingdom?

THE DECLINE OF NATIONS

Observant pundits on all sides of the political spectrum have correctly noted a steady decline in the last century in the quality of culture.  There has been a weakening of faith, an abandonment of values and an eroding of civility in our culture.  The work of shaping our culture requires God’s wisdom to use the right tools so that He will be glorified.

In their CD The Decline of Nations, Dr. Ken Boa, a highly respected theologian and philosophy scholar, and Bible teacher Bill Ibsen point out three symptoms of decline: (1) social decay—the crisis of lawlessness, the loss of economic discipline and, finally, growing bureaucracy; (2) cultural decay—the decline of education, the weakening of cultural foundations, the increasing loss of respect for tradition, and the increase in materialism; and (3) moral decay—the rise in immorality, the decay of religious belief and the devaluation of human life (Dr. Ken Boa and Bill Ibsen, The Decline of Nations (Atlanta, GA: Reflections Ministries, 2005).

Dr. Ken Boa and Bill Ibsen state that “symptoms of decline synergistically rot a nation from the inside out, making it vulnerable to attack from a variety of enemies.”  Then they ask the critical question:  What objective measures of social and cultural health can be used to determine how America is doing? To answer this question, they cite a report published in 1993 by William J. Bennett, the former U.S. Secretary of Education, who notes that between the 1960s and the 1990s there was:

•   A 966 percent increase in the rate of cohabitation

•   A 523 percent increase in out-of-wedlock births

•   A 370 percent increase in violent crime

•   A 270 percent increase in children on welfare

•   A 215 percent increase in single-parent families

•   A 210 percent increase in teenage suicide

•   A 200 percent increase in the crime rate

•   A 130 percent increase in the divorce rate

•   A 75 point decrease in the average SAT score

“Improvements were made in the violent crime rate, welfare and teenage suicide in the 1990s,” Boa and Ibsen state.  “However, the breakdown of the family remains of particular concern.  Indicators point to nurturing relationships as a key factor to maintaining a stable society, while mass media entertainment often fills the voids left by family breakdown” (Dr. Ken Boa and Bill Ibsen, The Decline of Nations (Atlanta, GA: Reflections Ministries, 2005)).

SUCH A TIME AS THIS

All too often, the prosperity of God flows into fruitless endeavors as succeeding generations begin to disregard the root of their wealth.  America’s ancestors planted the seed of God’s blessing and left a rich inheritance in this land.  But God has no grandchildren.  He has only first-generation descendents who yield to His Spirit, live in His grace and enter His kingdom.  If those children become selfish, indolent or corrupt, they eventually stew in their own sin.  As God warned the Israelites:

Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God by failing to keep His command—the ordinances and statutes—I am giving you today.  When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, [be careful] that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery (Deut. 8:7-18, CSB).

It is true that God’s kingdom will never end and that it is advancing into the far reaches of the world.  But many cultures that once embraced the values of Christianity have turned away from the Word of God as the cornerstone of their civilization.  When this happens—when people forget to love God and follow after the false gods of selfish desire—they fall from His blessing.  Those familiar with the Word of God know that at the end of human history there is great news.  In the meantime, we will face trials and tribulations as Christian civilization ebbs and flows to all areas of the globe.

Yet in the midst of such cultural collapse, it is important to remember that God has called His people to go on His adventure into the entire world.  He has called them to preach the good news that will redirect the tidal wave of conflicting cultures.  His people constitute His Body, the Church, which has braved paganism and persecution to build hospitals, schools, orphanages and loving homes that have civilized societies.  The Church is here for such a time as this.

In Kiev, the church where I preached conducts street ministries to reach the unsaved, youth ministries to rescue the rebellious, and schools to lead the children out of darkness.  Other ministries at the church reach orphans and vagrants and bring the good news to performing artists.  This is the grand old story of Christian faith.  In the midst of cacophony, the people of God proclaim good news and restore lost souls.  Where the gospel takes root, faith and peace replace animosity.  Where God’s grace is lifted up, war-torn lands become green pastures where children and families can flourish.

To quote from a paper titled “Ethics in Communications” from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, “Viewed in the light of faith, the history of human communication can be seen as a long journey from Babel, site and symbol of communication’s collapse (cf. Gen. 11:4-8), to Pentecost and the gift of tongues (cf. Acts 2:5-11)—communication restored by the power of the Spirit sent by the Son. Sent forth into the world to announce the good news (cf. Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15), the Church has the mission of proclaiming the Gospel until the end of time. Today, she knows, that requires using media” (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican City, June 4, 2000, World Communications Day (cf. Vatican Council II, Inter Mirifica, 3; Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 45; Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 37; Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Communio et Progressio, 126-134, Aetatis Novae, 11)).

ENOUGH ALREADY!

For a few days, my e-mail box was deluged by reviews from so-called evangelical Christian sources touting a New Age occult movie called Conversations with God. This movie was produced and directed by a man named Stephen Simon, who is a relentless proponent of New Age movies through his organization called the Spiritual Cinema Circle.  What is strange is that this movie (to which Movieguide® gave only one star and a minus four) has received much praise from the reviewers of other evangelical movie sites.  These reviews raise the question:  Has the Evangelical Church gone the way of God’s frozen chosen mainline denominations?

When I was in a mainline seminary in New York in the mid 1970s, the ecumenical Thursday night service was led by Hilda the White Witch, who was introduced by the bishop of New York.  The Indian faker Sri Chinmoy, who claimed to be able to levitate, gave the Easter service, and the Lucifer Trust established their headquarters at the cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Most of the frozen chosen were oblivious to this occult takeover of the mainline churches.  Those with a modicum of faith came to realize 25 years later (and too late) that these denominations were dead.  They began to start splinter groups, which are now reviving the biblical faith.

The sea of e-mails I receive touting Luciferian movies such as Conversations with God is a heartbreaking déjà vu indicating that the Evangelical Church is turning into the Church of “do what you want” of Aleister Crowley.  Like Telemachus, all we can say is, “Stop! And, wake up to the Good News and to the deliverance that only comes through Jesus Christ and His holy Word written.”

WHAT CAN WE DO?

One of the primary building blocks of the culture, the mass media, is a tool of communication, entertainment and art.  Although anyone may misuse a tool, most people involved in the mass media as creators, regulators and consumers are conscientious individuals who want to do the right thing, as they understand it.  However, those who make up these groups often forget that their mass media choices have ethical weight and are subject to moral evaluation.  Therefore, to make the right entertainment choices, they need to develop discernment and understanding, especially in light of all the studies indicating the extremely negative effects of the mass media of entertainment, especially on children and teenagers.

Even many of the most astute Christians, however, have become desensitized to cultural degradation.  Many do not understand the consequences of different worldviews.  They also are ignorant of the persuasive power of the mass media of entertainment, which creates the culture in which we live and move. Consequently, they do not know how to develop the discernment, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to be more than conquerors within the cultural turbulence created by all the forms of mass media.  The good news is that there are effective ways for us and our families to learn how to be culture-wise and media-wise.

PILLARS OF MEDIA WISDOM

 As the director of the TV Center at City University of New York, I helped develop some of the first media literacy courses in the late 1970s.  Since then, years of research have produced a very clear understanding of the best way to teach media literacy.  Specifically, there are five pillars of media wisdom that will help build the culture-wise family.

1.   Pillar 1: Understand the influence of the media on your children. In the wake of the Columbine High School massacre, CBS president Leslie Moonves put it quite bluntly: “Anyone who thinks the media has nothing to do with this is an idiot”  (Leslie Moonves interview, Associated Press, May 19, 1999).  The major medical associations have concluded that there is absolutely no doubt that those who are heavy viewers of violence demonstrate increased acceptance of aggressive attitudes and aggressive behavior.  Of course, media is only one part of the problem—a problem that could be summed up with the sage biblical injunction, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Cor. 15:33).  As the results of thousands of studies on youth violence prove, watching media violence causes violence among children.  Bad company corrupts good character—whether that bad company is gangs, peer pressure or violent television programs.

2.   Pillar 2: Ascertain your children’s susceptibility at each stage of cognitive development. Not only do children see the media differently at each stage of development, but also different children are susceptible to different stimuli.  As the research of the National Institute of Mental Health revealed many years ago, some children want to copy media violence, some are susceptible to other media influences, some become afraid, and many become desensitized.  Just as an alcoholic would be inordinately tempted by a beer commercial, so certain types of media may tempt or influence your child at his or her specific stage of development.

3.   Pillar 3: Teach your children how the media communicates its message. Just as children spend the first 14 years of their lives learning grammar with respect to the written word, they also need to be taught the grammar of twenty-first-century mass media so that they can think critically about the messages being programmed for them.

4.   Pillar 4: Help your children know the fundamentals of Christian faith. Children need to be taught the fundamentals of Christian faith so that they can apply their beliefs and moral values to the culture and to the mass media of entertainment.  Of course, parents typically have an easier time than teachers with this pillar because they can freely discuss their personal beliefs.  Yet even so, it is interesting to note that cultural and media literacy and values education are two of the fastest growing areas in the academic community—a trend most likely due to the fact that educators are beginning to realize that something is amiss.

5.   Pillar 5: Help your children learn how to ask the right questions. When children know the right questions to ask, they can arrive at the right answers to the problems presented by the mass media of entertainment.  For instance, if the hero in the movie your child is watching wins by murdering and mutilating his victims, will your children be able to question this hero’s behavior, no matter how likable that character may be?

EDUCATING THE HEART

Theodore Roosevelt said that if we educate a person’s mind but not his heart, we create an educated barbarian.  Cultural and media wisdom involves educating the hearts of children and teenagers so that they will make the right decisions throughout their lives.

The truth of the secure hope available only in Jesus Christ is great news that needs to be shouted from the housetops.  The people of God have a wonderful opportunity to manifest His grace.  However, we first need to ascertain the state of cultural affairs.  The work of shaping our culture requires God’s wisdom to use the right tools so that He will be glorified.

In this regard, at the invitation of Oskar Gruenwald, Ph.D., JIS Editor and Globalization Symposium Coordinator, I gave a keynote speech on cultural and media wisdom at the symposium on Globalization & Its Discontents at the University of San Francisco on August 4, 2007.  At one point in the symposium, I had time to discuss with the Muslim participants the difference between Jesus Christ who loved everyone so much that He died to save even His enemies, while Mohammed killed scores of his enemies.

The Muslims in the audience of a panel on “Christian-Muslim Dialogue and Human Rights” agreed that Mohammed killed 3,000 people, but in a time of war.  I countered that argument by pointing out that Jesus could have gone to war against His enemies if He had been prideful, vengeful or cruel, but He refused to do so.  When the Muslims protested that, according to their religion, Jesus did not die, I showed that this “eccentric” belief contradicts the actual historical record (see The Case for Christ:  A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence For Jesus by Lee Strobel, Zondervan, 1998, and Myth Conceptions:  Joseph Campbell and the New Age by Tom Snyder, Baker Books, 1995).

Oskar Gruenwald, Ph.D., JIS Editor and Globalization Symposium Coordinator, emailed me:

“I wanted to thank you for your witness at the Symposium on ‘Globalization & Its Discontents: Modernization, Culture & Religion,’ hosted by the University of San Francisco, 2-5 August 2007, both the Keynote and the discussion during the Saturday afternoon Panel on: ‘Christian-Muslim Dialogue and Human Rights.’ Your witness was more important on Saturday than as originally scheduled for Thursday, and the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Truth—guided your participation.”

The Christian Film & Television Commission® has the tools to help families and churches defend their Christian faith from other religions, philosophies and worldview like Islam. We can even help families and churches strengthen their own Christian faith. Not only do we have books like The Culture-Wise Family, The Media-Wise Family and Frodo vs. Harry:  Understanding Visual Media And Its Impact On Our Lives, we also have excellent articles and teaching materials. Also, my staff and I are willing to come speak at any church, talk to people on the telephone and in person, or write letters and emails to help protect families and their children and grandchildren from toxic cultural messages like Islam and its violent doctrine of Jihad, and to help them defend the Christian faith.

Culture-Wise Family

Upholding Christian Values in a Mass Media World

This insightful article is an excerpt from Dr. Ted Baehr and Pat Boone’s new book Culture-Wise Family:  Upholding Christian Values in a Mass Media World.  It is available in a special section of www.movieguide.org.  Entertainment expert Dr. Ted Baehr and legendary musician Pat Boone think it’s time we began paying attention to our mass-media consumption.  They urge people to make wise choices for themselves and their families so they can protect their children from toxic messages in the culture.  The Culture-Wise Family offers a rich, authoritative analysis of the many perilous trends in a time when parents face challenges that are unprecedented in their intensity and detrimental influences.  This book builds on the firm foundation of a biblical worldview and analyzes the implications of other worldviews as they are expressed and promoted in media, entertainment, and public education, the three purveyors of the increasing secularization and pluralization of our times.  It will not only help you to protect your children and grandchildren, but also it will help you redeem the times and the culture!

REFERENCES

Baehr, Ted.  So You Want To Be in Pictures? Nashville, TN:  Broadman & Holman, 2005.

Baehr, Ted.  The Media-Wise Family.  Colorado Springs, CO:  Chariot Victor Publishing, 1998.

Boa, Dr. Ken and Ibsen, Bill.  The Decline of Nations.  Atlanta, GA:  Reflections Ministries, 2005.

Gabler, Neal.  An Empire Of Their Own.  New York:  Crown, 1988.

Egri, Lajos.  The Art of Dramatic Writing:  Its Basis in the Creative Interpretation of Human Motives.  New York:  Simon and Schuster, 1960.

Jeffrey G. Johnson, Patricia Cohen, Elizabeth M. Smailes, Stephanie Kasen, and Judith S. Brook.  “Television Viewing and Aggressive Behavior During Adolescence and Adulthood.”  Science, Vol. 295, No. 5567, 29 Mar. 2002, pp. 2468-2471.

Lowenthal, David. No Liberty for License:  The Forgotten Logic of the First Amendment.  Dallas:  Spence Publishing Company, 1997.

Leslie Moonves interview, Associated Press, May 19, 1999.

Niebuhr, H. Richard.  Christ And Culture.  London:  Faber and Faber, Ltd, 1952.

Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican City, June 4, 2000, World Communications Day (cf. Vatican Council II, Inter Mirifica, 3; Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 45; Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, 37; Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Communio et Progressio, 126-134, Aetatis Novae, 11).

“Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic 2004,” UNAIDS, 2004, no. 52.

Snyder, Tom.  Myth Conceptions:  Joseph Campbell and the New Age.  Ada, MI:  Baker Books, 1995.

Specter, Michael.  “Traffickers’ New Cargo:  Naïve Slavic Women,” The New York Times, January 11, 1998.

Strobel, Lee.  The Case for Christ:  A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence For Jesus.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1998.

Vizzard, Jack.  See No Evil.  New York:  Simon & Schuster, 1970.

11

Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including “The Culture-Wise Family” with legendary entertainer Pat Boone, and a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Study of Culture, Media, and Mass Entertainment at the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

‘How Evil Works’ Reveals America’s ‘Blind Spot’

Someday I do hope to meet David Kupelian in person.

I want to thank him.

I’ve eagerly read his blowout WND articles, and of course following “The Marketing of Evil,” I knew I liked and trusted him. In “How Evil Works,” in the lofty tradition of the veteran reporter, Kupelian connects the dots, compassionately and firmly taking us down the fast lane on a journey of inquiry through some very tough territory.

We privileged Americans have developed what Kupelian calls a “blind spot. … We don’t understand evil.” This means we cannot recognize its machinery despite the way judicial and political tyranny, sexual mayhem, political terrorism, and licit and illicit drug use victimize and ruin the lives of millions.

That is a serious “blind spot.”

I’m one of those people who cannot read a book without highlighting ideas and quotes I find important. My copy of Kupelian’s “Evil” is crammed with underlined passages, while I have disfigured his margins by scribbled stars, exclamation points and the words “good” and “great.”

Let me mention a few such “starred” items here.

Aristotle warned that big lies are more believable than little ones, since we ourselves might tell the little ones, but we cannot imagine telling whoppers. Kupelian reawakens us to the BIG liars in our midst, the liars who cause mass trauma.

Noting most governments, historically and cross culturally, “tend toward being tyrannical and predatory,” Kupelian provides a “whirlwind tour of the world’s governments” with solid statistics for his charge.

In North Korea, one man gets “torture and life in prison for possessing a radio.” In China, another communist “worker’s paradise,” bureaucrats enforce sterilization, abortion and infanticide, jailing roughly “500,000 people” without charge or trial and so on. Most governments, Kupelian notes, from the “Far East to Africa to South America are corrupt, predatory and power hungry.”

Here in the USA, government abuse grows daily. That is to be expected, says Kupelian. The closer we get to a vision of man without God, the closer we find ourselves without “strong moral principles.” Under those circumstances, humans are “free to lie, manipulate and steal in a multitude of obvious and subtle ways.”

I gave a large star to his William Penn quote: “If man is not governed by God, he will be ruled by tyrants.” After years of study, I know this to be well said and true.

It’s a roller-coaster ride in “Sexual Anarchy,” through teen “sexting” and middle-school hookups,” to the “ever increasing tolerance of adult-child sex.” I underlined the entire section documenting judicial insanity working its way into our courtrooms.

There are judges who express their personal delight with female teachers who sexually molest boys. Kupelian documents the reprehensible media glamorization of Mary Kay Letourneau who received glowing publicity and money after being impregnated by a boy student she later married.

One New Jersey judge ruled that a 43-year-old teacher who sexually violated a seventh-grade boy was guiltless because there was (illegal) “consent.” Another Kansas judge just wasn’t sure “sex with kids was really bad.” More and more of these kinds of “judges” are being trained by and funneled out of our law schools.

Such law-school graduates imply “evil” judicial decisions in our children’s future, indeed.

Kupelian rightly evaluates the “sexual misconduct in schools with the Catholic Church scandal.”

Why?

It turns out that the “physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more that 100 times the abuse by priests.” When it’s a female molester, too often the view is that the boy got lucky. One heartbreaking, stirring quote by Kupelian helps to clarify the subtle price paid by victims of a “sexy” teacher. The father of a boy molested by one such lawless woman reflected sorrowfully, she “took away my best friend, my hunting buddy. I can’t have him back now. He is gone.”

This father’s articulated grief is important for all of us to read, to know, to remember. For the potent emotions ensuing from such a crime usually go unspoken.

Tying up his argument for common sense and moral awareness, Kupelian quotes NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies founder Robert Jastrow, who summarized the nightmare for scientists with “faith in the power of reason.”

After having “scaled the mountain of ignorance,” says Jastrow, the scientist “pulls himself over the final rock” only to find “a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

Score 10 for that nightmare!

For centuries, theologians and commoners have largely understood the verity of evil and have struggled to circumvent its noxious consequences.

Kupelian offers hope, encouragement and practical advice. He tells of a Cherokee chief telling his grandson about a fight between two wolves. One wolf represents “fear, anger, pride, envy, lust, greed, arrogance, self pity, resentment, lies and cruelty.”

The other wolf “stands for honesty, kindness, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, friendship, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

This fight goes on inside everyone, including “you” he said.

The grandson pondered and then asked, “Which wolf will win?”

The old chief just answered, “The one you feed.”

Alongside that last line I wrote “Wonderful,” as is “How Evil Works.”

6Dr. Judith Reisman is a Distinguished Senior Fellow in the Study of Social Trends, Human Rights, and Media Forensics.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute. This article was originally published on WorldNetDaily on March 11, 2011. You can buy Dr. Reisman’s book Sexual Sabotage on her website.

Mind-Control vs. Education

In the late 1800’s, a new weapon was discovered for gaining control over those freedoms inspired by the three crown jewels—mind-control[1]. It is a much more effective way to subdue a people, and destroys much less of the infrastructure of the targeted society than does physical warfare. You persuade the gullible to like being controlled; you sell it to them as a necessity for their own protection, survival, and comfort.

Mind-control was begun by German psychologists in the late 1800’s with their new “behaviorist” psychology, largely at the University of Leipzig under Wilhelm Wundt, advanced by Pavlov under Stalin, and perfected (so to speak) by the Chinese and North Koreans in the 1950’s[2]. This absolute antithesis of honest commerce, politics, and education is now routinely being used by advertisers, politicians, and (especially government-controlled) educational institutions all over the world[3]. It is a staple of globalist-oriented politicians, and of their flagship institution, the United Nations.

It thus took no time at all for the control-minded to seize the opportunity to subjugate the population “peaceably” (as in Brave New World, or 1984, or Animal Farm), to render us all slaves on their government plantation. Brainwashing is effective precisely because ideas have consequences. Change a people’s ideas, and you change their goals and loyalties.

Once you have made the Church irrelevant by divide and conquer, it is an easy matter to control the mind of the public through coercive government education. A secure renewal of freedom will not come until there is a dispersion of power and authority such that the family is the center of both education (not the State) and religion (not the Church). The role of the State is to be the referee for society, and of the Church to be the conscience and worship leader. And all this to be done with a freemarket of ideas, not a market of ideas controlled by either Church or State. That, on the Biblical view, is God’s way of doing things.

A neo-pagan society, on the other hand, which openly advertises relative truth and relative morality has nothing in its worldview to deny that might makes right, that the powerful should rule the weak, and that survival of the fittest (where fittest means whoever gets the levers of control) is the rule of life. Control, then, not truth or freedom, is the way of life.

This new Dark Age (secular “Enlightenment”) was caused more by Judeo-Christian ignorance, incompetence, and cowardice than by the strengths of secularism. It led to the most brutal century in human history (the 20th), to the manipulative, deceitful destruction of truth and morality, to depersonalization of the human soul, and more recently, to impending total centralization of civil government, i.e., global tyranny. All three crown jewels are being subverted because the pagan worldview (including a secularized/paganized Church) cannot sustain any one of them.

The Christian community has only recently (late 20th and early 21st centuries) shown signs of recovering its intellectual integrity, with almost all of that recovery being well outside of the mostly oblivious institutional Church.

Most people do not think philosophically, let alone metaphysically. But ideas nevertheless have consequences, especially metaphysical ideas. The rejection of metaphysics for behaviorism was at least in part deliberate by those who wanted to get rid of God. As one philosopher candidly admitted, he did not want God to exist because God would get in the way of his sexual and political aspirations.

Those who do not think philosophically nevertheless most often look to those whom they consider experts at doing so. Christianity lost the war for the 19th century and following because they were perceived to have lost the intellectual war to the secular experts. They were incompetent to give good answers to Marx, Freud, Darwin, Dewey, and others.

They were perceived most of all to have lost the moral high ground. “Moral high ground” resonates with almost all persons. People will support that group which appears to hold the moral high ground. And everyone considers himself an expert on morality. They think they know right and wrong when they see them.

Either the Church will recover that moral high ground, or it will continue to fail. It will not recover moral credibility unless it also recovers its intellectual credibility. And that means an adequate response to Darwin and evolution as the explanation of why things are the way they are.

 


 

[1] For a history of mind-control, read Brainwashing: the Story of the Men Who Defied It, by Edward Hunter.The “three crown jewels” of western civilization are intellectual freedom (free market of ideas, science), political freedom (limited government for a free people), and economic freedom (freemarket economy).

[2] The Leipzig Connection, by Paolo Lionni gives an excellent introduction to the enormous (and devastating) effects of Wundt and his new behaviorism on American education.

[3] Read, for example, John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education; Thomas Sowell, Inside American Education; B. K.Eakman, Educating for the New World Order, and Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality through Education; Jill Carson, What are Your Kids Reading?; Samuel Blumenfeld, NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education, and Is Public Education Necessary?

 

Dr. Earle FoxDr. Earle Fox is IAI’s Senior Fellow in Philosophy of Science and the Worldview of Ethical Monotheism.

This article is an extract from the Preface (section A-2-g) of Dr. Fox’s book A Personalist Cosmology in Imago Dei: Personality, Empiricism & God, Vol. I. See also Dr. Fox’s new Book Abortion, the Bible and America.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.

HOKA HEY! Part 1.

An old adage warns us that “those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” This is not because of some inexorable, mysterious decree of Fate, but because (as the ancient Greek historian Thucydides observed) “the kind of events that once took place will by reason of human nature take place again.” One need not look to the distant past, either, to glean material predictive of the immediate future.

For an outstanding example, patriotic Americans can find many ominous, yet also instructive, parallels between their situation today and the predicament of the Plains Indians during the late 1800s. These parallels are particularly striking where money and banking are concerned. For example:

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s was intent on extending its version of “civilization” to—or, perhaps more descriptively, running it roughshod over—the Tribes, so too does the contemporary Establishment intend to bring to—or, perhaps more descriptively, to impose upon—common Americans a new and improved brand of “civilization,” under the trademark of “the New World Order.”

As to money and banking especially, this is an old song, as fallacious as it is familiar. Innovations in the manipulation of “currency” and “credit” are always touted as the products of advanced thought; whereas gold and silver are invariably derided as “barbarous relics” from a primitive age. And the Federal Reserve System—the apogee of modern central banking—is everywhere praised as the great exemplar of “scientific” management of money. Yet gold and silver are obviously no more “barbarous relics” than the free market itself, because they are the media of exchange that a truly free market always chooses (otherwise, their use as money would not so often have been inhibited, even prohibited, by governments and central banks). And the main tenets of central banking—(i) that the supplies of “currency” and “credit” must expand step by step with production of goods and services, so as to maintain a stable “price level;” and (ii) that the self-destructive tendencies of fractional-reserve banking can be fended off by cartelizing the banks under governmental aegis and supplying them with an open-handed “lender of last resort”—are no more “scientific” than the utterly discredited theories of “central economic planning,” of which central banking forms a subset. Or, for that matter, no more plausible than dialectical materialism, historical determinism, and the other assorted pseudo-intellectual claptrap of Marxism—which shares a mutual affinity with central banking, according to a key plank in The Communist Manifesto that calls for “[c]entralization of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.”

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s disparaged the Plains Indians as incorrigible “savages,” stubbornly and stupidly standing in the way of “progress,” so too does the contemporary Establishment dismiss average Americans as a culturally backward and politically reactionary booboisie whose outmoded ideas, traditions, and way of life retard social evolution.

In the field of money and banking as well, proponents of the precious metals as money are roundly derided as doctrinaire “gold bugs,” economic “Neanderthalsm,” or worse; whereas the Federal Reserve System’s touts are fulsomely described as “enlightened.” Yet, as a form of “central economic planning,” central banking is economically atavistic in theory and ultimately unworkable in practice, because it always operates on the basis of ignorance, in comparison to the wealth of relevant information available only to the free market. And, as a species of unrepresentative, elitist—and, if the truth be told in the bluntest possible terms, fascist—bureaucracy, politically privileged central banking is far removed from the “Republican Form of Government” that the Constitution requires the United States to “guarantee to every State in this Union” (Article IV, Section 4).

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s denuded the Indians of their Tribal sovereignties and degraded them to ill-treated “wards” of the General Government, so too does the present-day Establishment decry America’s National sovereignty as a ridiculous anachronism and a galling impediment to the New World Order, and plan to set it aside—first, through regionalization, involving the economic and political merger of the United States, Canada, and Mexico; then, through hemispheric to finally full-fledged global government.

Where money and banking are concerned, globalization is also an imperative. Indeed, the present push for globalization of national economies and then polities probably results more from what the Establishment perceives as the necessity to globalize the contemporary monetary and banking systems than from any other cause. The economic reason is that a global “lender of last resort,” and perhaps a source of some altogether new “currency” and “credit,” will be required to keep the major central banks of various countries—the Federal Reserve System included—afloat in a global liquidity crisis. After all, to stave off the collapse of major banks within various countries during domestic liquidity crises was the purpose of setting up independent central banks in each nation. And the same strategy applies in spades to an international liquidity crisis among national or regional central banks that now operate without an apex to their pyramid of “currency” and “credit” expansion.

The political reason for the globalization of money and banking is that, although the Federal Reserve System now functions as a de facto global central bank (at least to the extent that its “currency” is employed as a “reserve” by most other countries), a truly global central bank, functioning both de facto and de jure for the world as a whole, cannot be the instrument of only one nation or regional grouping of nations. For that nation or group could change its political views on money and banking at any time, throwing a money wrench into the globalist machinery. True enough, if a national central bank, operating as a de facto global central bank, returned to some form of free-market gold or silver standard, the common people of the whole world would eventually benefit. The Establishment, however, would lose out, because its position depends on monetary and banking systems utterly divorced from gold and silver, and thereby from the economic discipline of the free market. And, because the Establishment cannot take that chance, it must promote the globalization of money and banking.

The pressing legal reason for the globalization of money and banking is that the present de facto global central bank—the Federal Reserve System—is subject to the Constitution of the United States, which mandates “gold and silver Coin” as the only official “Money” and “Tender in Payment of Debts” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 and Article I, Section 10, Clause 1). An international liquidity crisis could easily turn into an American constitutional crisis, in which the illegality of the Federal Reserve System could be identified as the cause of the economic chaos, and the System’s political supporters the culprits. Such a situation could sweep into office a political movement that would reverse a century of monetary and banking policy, and return the economy of one major country—and, soon enough, the economy of every other country dependent upon it—to money bottomed on a specie standard and banking stripped of the abusive special privilege of “fractional reserves.”

For all these reasons, to maintain its power the Establishment must eventually separate and insulate the present systems of money and banking from each and every national sovereignty. That is, each and every national sovereignty must be denied jurisdiction over money and banking, even within its own territory. The monetary and banking systems must themselves become wholly independent—and, in fact, private—sovereignties, with global extraterritoriality allowing them to operate within every nation but subject to none. They must become totally unresponsive to (as well as unrepresentative of) the popular will everywhere, yet capable of imposing their will on the people anywhere.

Just as the Establishment of the late 1800s declared the Plains Indians to be “hostiles” if they dared to defend themselves and their homelands against economic, political, and cultural aggression, so too does the contemporary Establishment denounce Americans as “extremists” if they strenuously oppose—even only through force of argument, rather than force of arms—the systematic destruction of their country and impoverishment of her citizens.

Perhaps nowhere is the historical parallel more patent than with respect to money and banking. Today, of course, “gold bugs” are subjected only to ridicule in the mass media. In the early 1930s, though, Americans who resisted the General Government’s seizure of their gold were most definitely treated as “hostiles”—even to the extent of having President Franklin Roosevelt apply against them the Trading With the Enemy Act of World War I. Even now this statute remains on the books, providing that “[d]uring time of war, the President may, through any agency that he may designate, and under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, * * * investigate, regulate, or prohibit * * * the importing, exporting, hoarding, melting, or earmarking of gold or silver coin or bullion” (Title 12, United States Code, Section 95a(1)(A)). In this era of a perpetual (albeit undeclared and therefore unconstitutional) “war on terrorism,” during the course of a monetary and banking crisis this statute could be employed just as it was in the 1930s, on the strength of the precedent created at that time. And, once more, common Americans who held gold would be falsely designated their own country’s “enemy.”

Finally, just as the Establishment of the late 1800s employed certain historically proven techniques of oppression to beat the Plains Indians into submission, so too does today’s Establishment—albeit with far greater subtlety, sophistication, and sinister cynicism. The next part of this commentary will explain how.

vieiraDr. Edwin Vieira  is IAI’s Distinguished Senior Fellow in Jurisprudence and Constitutional and Monetary Law.

This article was originally published originally published at NewsWithViews.com on May 30, 2006.

The opinions published here are those of the writer and are not necessarily endorsed by the Institute.