Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Debate: My Reflections On Science Vs. Faith

                                                        (Photo from www.richarddawkins.net)

            Recently I enjoyed the debate, online, between Bill Nye and Ken Ham held at Mr. Ham’s Creation Museum.  It was intended to be a debate about whether creationism, which Mr. Ham supports, is a viable scientific model.  In fact, the debate was more about evolution versus creationism.
            
            I suspect a lot of folks had strong feelings towards one side or the other.  I do not believe that God created the world in six days only six thousand years ago.  In fact, I cannot stress enough how preposterous that viewpoint truly is.  Just as many are amazed that Mr. Ham believes that man coexisted with dinosaurs, I likely amaze religious fanatics when I say believe in both God and in evolution. 
            
           There really are quite a few of us “intelligent design” folks out here but you wouldn't know it from all the discussion lately. The folks that interpret Genesis literally in spite of geological and biological evidence to the contrary seem to be multiplying and giving faith in God a really bad name.
           
           Throughout history, it seems mankind has been compelled by institutional forces and dogmas to embrace either faith or science but not both.  Charles Darwin, who once considered becoming a priest, was attacked in life and in death for his work by religious fanatics.  The fact is that so long as you are faithful to the scientific method and remain objective, you can be a good Christian, Agnostic, Atheist, or Muslim scientist.  In fact it was Muslim scholars who brought us the amazing advancements in science and mathematics that without which, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and later the Industrial Revolution might have never happened.
           
           I think one of the most powerful quotes that illustrates how people can have a belief in both God and science is from the father of evolution himself.
           
          “In my most extreme fluctuations, I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God.  I feel most deeply that the entire subject is too profound for the human intellect.  A dog may just as well speculate on the mind of Newton.”  ~Charles Darwin

          
          Darwin hit the nail on the head.  I once heard a priest-can’t remember his name-say that if you think you’re starting to understand God or presume to know his will, then you know very little about him.  Understanding the world around us is complicated enough and we are still learning more about it every day.  In my opinion, we are a long way from being ready, if ever, to debate the role of God in the nuts and bolts of the universe.  In reality, we should probably keep our relationship with God on a deeply personal level and leave our presumptions about him out of the overall scientific debate of predictable and observable facts.      

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fickleness Of Life In An Amazing World


            If there is one thing that my twelve years of law enforcement has taught me, through all of the tragic things I’ve seen, it is that life is very fickle.  Any one of us can be snuffed out in the blink of an eye.  Many here on this planet experience this fate each day, often due to seemingly insignificant factors.

            In understanding the true mortality of our own being, I find myself pondering the fickleness of humanity itself.  To be honest, I often do this when I read of things such as the recent discovery of a four hundred sixty mile long canyon underneath the ice cap in Greenland.  To contemplate the shifts in tectonic plates and/or the degree of climate change needed to allow a liquid river to flow the many centuries needed to carve out such a canyon illustrates just how much force our planet and our universe can muster against the candlewick flame  that is life on Earth.

            What awes me most about such discoveries is that they are a clear reminder of how easily all life can fade into oblivion.  Just ask the dinosaurs, they’ll attest to this.  It is also a reminder of how lucky we are to have existed and evolved for millions of years to become what we are today.  It is a reminder that we must all remain eternally thankful for each and every day our universe-our God-allows us to exist. 

 -The Progressive Cop

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gun Control, Science, And The 2nd Amendment: Breaking My Silence


            Soon after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, tempers and emotionally charged words began to fly on both sides of the gun control issue.  Readers of this blog already know that my views most issues are almost always slightly left to far left of center.  Gun control is one issue, however, in which my views are somewhat ambiguous.  You see, I am a gun owner who enjoys shooting guns and I did not want to weigh in on the issue until now.
            
            

            
            Despite the fact I am a gun owner, I do not believe America’s founding fathers intended for everyone from gang bangers to white supremacist and drunken rednecks shooting road signs, to have a right to bear arms.  The text of the second amendment of the US Constitution reads “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed.”  What this means to me is that at a time when the US did not have a strong standing army, the founding fathers deemed it necessary to have a force of minutemen who could respond to any sudden threats to national security.  In stating this purpose-the only amendment to state a purpose-the founding fathers use clear and concise language when they say “A well regulated militia.”  Regulation, in this verbiage, is the key.
            
           Currently in the public square we are seeing the gun rights crowd trying everything under the sun to explain why we need to be armed.  Some communities have actually proposed local laws requiring all citizens to be armed.  Many of these people are the same ones who argued that requiring individuals to have health insurance was unconstitutional.  Preventing any form of regulation against the gun industry is their main objective. This is an industry that has made record profits off of gun owners unsubstantiated fears of gun roundups.


 Recognizing the need to regulate an industry and overcoming stiff corporate resistance and powerful lobbyist is nothing new.  For decades car manufacturers argued that traffic fatalities were to be blamed on the driver not the car; kind of a “cars don’t kill people, people kill people” argument. It wasn’t until the 1960’s, when we began to force safety regulation on the automobile industry that we learned it was the cars that greatly contributed to deaths when drivers made mistakes.  Today drivers still make mistakes but the cars they drive are safer and in turn there are fewer overall traffic fatalities.

Many of the safety breakthroughs in the auto industry came about after research into traffic safety.  The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration continues to this day to conduct research into how to improve traffic safety but what they do not do is try and take our cars away.  Many have suggested that the US Government would be prudent to sponsor research into gun violence and how to make guns safer.  The Centers for Disease Control actually did conduct research on gun violence but after they announced that evidence suggested the risk of death by gunfire increased threefold for those who had a gun in their home, the National Rifle Association went berserk and one of their Republican buddies, then Representative Jay Dickey of Arkansas, shut the CDC study down.



Since the Sandy Hook massacre, President Barrack Obama has instructed the CDC to resume gun violence research. The NRA will no doubt do everything they can to stop this just as they did in the mid 1990’s.  It is up to each of us who care about safe and responsible gun ownership let our representatives know that we want research to continue unabated.  Ultimately, finding a way to make gun ownership safer is the only rational choice we have since the US Supreme Court continues to interpret the second amendment to mean that a “well regulated militia” is anyone with the money to buy a firearm, a case of beer, and has the time to blast a deer crossing sign on a rural highway.  

                                                                    -The Progressive Cop

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman Changes His Stance On Marriage Equality


            Republican Ohio Senator Rob Portman, thought by many to have been a possible running mate for Mitt Romney’s 2012 Presidential bid, officially changed his position on marriage equality on Thursday after his twenty-one year old son came out as gay.  Before I get ahead of myself, I would like to commend Senator Portman for his recent use of reason and understanding pertaining to this human rights issue.
    
        
            It’s easy to stand against a group of people when they have been dehumanized and ridiculed by virtually every level of society for generations.  It's made easier when you don’t have a close personal relationship with someone who is a member of the group.  Governments have often intentionally used similar methods by using propaganda to turn their own populace against the people and governments of their enemies. 

            What Senator Portman now seems to understand is that members of the LBGT community are just as human as the son knows and loves.  He now understands that they have families who love them too and that they do lead honorable and worthy lives.  Most importantly, Senator Portman now seems to understand that they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect to include the right to fall in love with someone, marry them, and spend a lifetime of happiness with them just like he can.

            Senator Portman’s epiphany is proof that awareness combined with close personal relationships can change the world.  It takes more than just awareness and relationships though.  With an estimated eight of of ten people already knowing someone who is LBGT, it takes courage and a willingness to speak out for what is right.  Senator Portman displayed tremendous courage in changing his political stance.

          I encourage each of you to write to Senator Portman and let him know you support his decision to stand for equality.  His mailing address is 338 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510.  His office telephone number is  (202) 224-3353.  You can reach him by email at https://www.portman.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact-form.


       I'm sure he’s going to receive a lot of correspondence, both supportive and condemning his new stance.  Let’s do our part to make sure the support far exceeds the negative.

         

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's 2013 And Yes That's Dennis Rodman Elbowing His Way Back Into The News.


             For starters, I would like to apologize to all of my readers for my recent hiatus.   I’ve been fulfilling an obligation with the National Guard and have been quite busy.  To be honest, I haven’t really been able to keep up with the news and have found myself joining the ranks of the uninformed.  I can’t stand not knowing what is going on in the world.
           
           So, what did I see when I started scrolling through current news stories from my undisclosed location?  I found none other than Dennis Rodman.  I must admit I was at first somewhat perplexed.  I mean, is the twenty teens or the nineteen nineties?  I've always like Dennis Rodman and I even enjoyed his book.  It was insightful in that it gave a good account of the experiences that have made the man.  I've always felt Dennis was simply misunderstood by the world and now I can say that I no longer get him either.
          
           I’m sure we all know the story I’m referring to; his interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos.  In case you didn't see it, Rodman visited North Korean leader Kim Jung Un and came back praising the guy.
           
          Look, I don’t know if Kim Jung Un is a cool guy to hang out with or not.  Maybe he’s the coolest but the fact remains that he continues to head a repressive regime that is the scourge of the world.  I’m not here to help spread American propaganda against the North Korean regime the way a lot of folks do against more reputable people like Hugo Chavez.  Heck, the US Government doesn’t even need to make Kim Jung Un’s government look bad; the North Korean dictator does a good enough job of doing that himself.
          
         I admire people like former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson who have visited North Korea in hopes of establishing some type of diplomacy.  I could have admired Rodman for visiting a dictator who clearly has a crush on American celebrities, in hopes of convincing the guy that we in the west aren’t so bad after all.  We are going to have to deal with Kim Jung Un whether we like him or not and we may as well start by letting him rub elbows with stars.
       
       What rubs me wrong is that Dennis Rodman has the gall to return to the US and tell us all that Kim Jung Un is a really cool guy that was led down the wrong path by his father.  Perhaps there is a lot of truth in that statement.  I get what Rodman was saying about Kim Jung Un being a human being and a young leader too.  What Dennis doesn't get is that we know the regime and we know it well.  This is a regime that has blackmailed the world time and time again with its nuclear weapons program in exchange for food and fuel which is given but never quite makes it to the North Korean people.
  
        Dennis, you could have done some great things with this visit but you've destroyed any hopes of your efforts bearing fruit when you thought you could convince us that Kim Jung Un is a “good” and “honest” guy.  Perhaps the word I would use to describe you, Dennis Rodman, is gullible. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Senate Reaches Agreement On Tax Revenues But What Of Spending Cuts?




       The latest Tea Party talking point seems to be that the Senate deal reached late last night will raise only $60 billion whereas the deficit is actually $1.1 Trillion or something like that.  The numbers seem to vary depending on whether it’s an educated opinion or a Fox News opinion that you are hearing.  Anyway, the point they are trying to make is that this proves the solution isn't tax hikes but spending cuts. Perhaps in at least one area they are right.

       I have said it once and I’ll say it again; the United States makes up roughly 44% of all money spent on armed forces.  The next biggest spender, China, makes up only about 7% of global military spending.  Together with our NATO allies, we account for nearly 3/4 of all global defense spending.  Maybe it's time we lefty's surprise the Tea Party by adopting one of their planks and demand we cut the heck out of defense.  We’ll all be just as safe and save a heck of a lot of money in the meantime.  Maybe then their rich contributors like Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers can keep their tax cuts too!  

                     While figures change from year to year they have remained very close to this graph for at least the past decade. 
       
       Alas, the Tea Party is not for cutting handouts to defense contractors, the oil company fat cats, or the investment bankers.  They only want to cut assistance for struggling working families and those even less fortunate.  This New Years morning agreement reached in the Senate returns tax rates back to the prosperous years of the Clinton Administration only on those making over $450,000 a year.  I don't know about you dear reader but I do not know of any struggling middle class workers making $300,000 a year.  It is very telling that the Republicans seem to thing that such an income is middle class. 

       In any event, if the House passes this bill then I guess it's on towards finding cuts.  I think it's time for progressives to insist that the bulk of the cuts come from places such as defense, where we are clearly overspending to support the military industrial complex that Ike first warned us about.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Arkansas Police Chief To Mandate All Pedestrians Provide ID Or Be Jailed



            Every so often some cop comes up with a boneheaded idea that is destined to make the lot of us look like would be tyrants on a power trip.  I would like to think that in most cases this is done with the best of intentions despite poor judgment.  What troubles me more than boneheaded moves is when a police officer decides to go and write his own version of constitutional law.  This is made even worse when the officer is a top administrator.
            
           In the Northeast Arkansas town of Paragould, Police Chief Todd Stovall has found his community plagued with a higher than usual crime rate; at least statistically speaking.  It seems that crime in Paragould is higher than the national average and Stovall claims his citizens are scared.  Stovall’s answer is to start new street crimes unit which will patrol the streets of this community of 26,000 on foot, in SWAT gear, and bearing AR-15 assault rifles slung around their necks.  According to Stovall this unit will confront anyone out walking and make them identify themselves.  Sounds scary right? That’s because for most Americans, having a SWAT team lurking in the neighborhood poised to make you identify yourself on a Sunday evening stroll is downright frightful!  
            
           Stovall takes things a step further.  He says this team will not only get out and identify anyone out walking but if someone fails to identify them self, they could be arrested for the offense of obstructing government operations.  This is a charge that is commonly used in Arkansas against anyone who refuses to identify him/her self or misidentifies themselves when legally ordered to provide identification to a police officer conducting a legitimate investigation.  In order to be a legitimate investigation, there has to be at least reasonable suspicion present to even justify the temporary seizure of a persons liberty.  Stovall however, claims that the fact his town’s crime rate is high is reasonable suspicion enough. 
            
            Let’s look at something that would amount to reasonable suspicion to get a better understanding of what the police must have to stop and identify you against your will.  Imagine its 2:00 A.M., and you are on patrol as a police officer.  You venture into a shopping center that has been closed since 10:00 P.M. and will not reopen until 8:00 A.M.  Furthermore there have been actual documented cases of commercial burglaries in the area.  You have located a person loitering near one of those closed businesses. Are you justified to make them identify them self to you?  Yes, you would have satisfied the requirement of reasonable suspicion to stop this person, compel them to identify them self in the course of your investigation.  After all, there are few legitimate reasons for this person to be in the area when these businesses are closed so you can reasonably believe that a crime either has or is about to take place and that this person is worthy of further investigation.  On the other hand, if I am out jogging or walking my dog down the sidewalks of town at any time of day or night and such circumstances are not present, no reasonable suspicion exist to deprive me of my liberty for even a moment.  You as a police officer can request that I talk to you in what are commonly referred to as a consensual encounters but if I ignore you or tell you I don’t want to talk then you are left with no choice but to let me be.
            
            What Stovall is suggesting is that because his town’s crime rate is higher than he deems acceptable, he has this same level of justification to stop anyone walking in the town and he doesn't care if they are walking their dog, "they will have to prove it” he says.  In a newspaper article in the Paragould Daily Press, Stovall is quoted as saying the statistics actually justify the even more stringent level of probable cause.  Probable cause usually exists when there is a belief that a crime has been or is being committed and that a particular person(s) committed that crime.  For anyone in law enforcement administration to say that statistics alone justify probable cause to stop random pedestrians is laughable.
            
             If I were an attorney in Northeast Arkansas rather than a police officer in Northwest Arkansas, I would be literally salivating at the Christmas gift Stovall was wrapping for me. For the sake of the average taxpayer, pedestrian, or just someone passing through Paragould, let’s hope someone gets through to Stovall and gets him to rethink his strategy.  A lesson in constitutional law might just be the best gift someone could give Stovall this holiday season.

-The Progressive Cop

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Conservatives Want Secession? Thoughts From A Proud Loyalist Progressive.

   
           You may have heard that some conservatives are so miffed over the outcome of the recent presidential election and they have started petitions in twenty-two states calling for secession.  I've spent a lifetime growing up in the south listening to ignorant rednecks spout off about how the "south is going to rise again."  Rise again and do what?  Those of us who went to school know that the causes of our nation's first post revolution experience with secession weren't very honorable and the results were disastrous for the seceding states.  

            Those poor of the south who did not volunteer were often drafted and forced to fight the rich man's treasonous war of slavery and involuntary servitude.  Conditions were harsh and many of them never returned home.  Those who did often did not return whole.  The State of Mississippi for instance, once one of the richest states in the Union, was forced to harvest its pristine hardwood forests in the years after the war because there was no other way to pay for the cost of prosthetic limbs for its veterans.  Remember they weren't U.S. veterans and therefore rightly weren't the U.S. Government's responsibility.  Mississippi, like many of the southern states, still has not recovered economically.  

            It is not the potential cost of war that should make us scratch our heads at conservatives calling for secession however.  We have to take a step back and ask why they want to secede.  Is it simply because their guy lost the election or is it because they can't stand the thought of a black guy living in the White House?  Is it because all of this tolerance and progress that we on the left strive for is just too much for their bigoted and compartmentalized minds to take?  The motives for their cries for secession are likely far more sickening than the thought that they would actually want to bring secession to our land once again.

          Regardless of the reasons for wanting to secede, the fact remains that such an act is traitorous and such acts should be viewed as a threat to national security.  As a veteran and a police officer, I have given an oath to support and defend our constitution more than once in my life.  While some may have repeated those words without pondering the true meaning, I did not.  I understood precisely what I was swearing and I understood the potential consequences for making such a commitment.  

         Should the conservative secessionists manage to bring their ridiculous petition movement to the level of physical unrest, I honestly won't feel one bit of regret in fulfilling my oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America.  If this is what the bigots and conservatives want then bring it on I say!  Just let me get my family moved to a blue state first.  


          
              -The Progressive Cop

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Some Final Thoughts This Election Night

Look. I'm not going to tell you who to vote for. I'm not going to threaten or cajole you, beg or belittle. Just let me have some final thoughts as this election night unfolds.

Four years ago I voted for McCain. I was conservative, and hardcore at that. I couldn't stand Obama. I thought his ideas were a poison for the country. Honestly, after the election I didn't give politics much thought until about two and a half years ago.

Back then, I still worked as a civil servant. The pay wasn't great, but my wife and I both worked full time, and we got by. We had a budget, and our needs were met. We planned for a child, fit it within our budget, and thought we would be fine. We found out we were pregnant, and we were happy.

Then my wife lost her job. I can cry and complain all I want. I know it was because she was pregnant, but there's no way we'll ever be able to prove it. Call it the benefits of living in a "right to work" state. Call it what you will, but we can't change it.

That was 4 months before our son was to be born. Honestly, that was the first time I truly felt unbridled fear. How would we get by on just my salary? How would we afford the birth of our son? We had been putting money aside for the delivery (I couldn't afford to put my wife on my insurance with the county), but with the loss of her income, we would come up severely short of our planned budget.

How could I raise a family like this? How could I protect them from disease or injury if I couldn't afford a hospital or clinic bill? These questions kept me up late at nights. They made me cold with fear and worry.

I understand there are flaws with Obamacare. Honestly, I hate that it doesn't do enough. However, what it does is help people who find themselves in situations like I was. To be completely honest: we were lucky. Damned lucky. My heart breaks at the thought of families that have it worse than we did. How do they survive?

I've heard a lot of talk about repealing Obamacare this election. Too much. It sends chills up my spine. For the first time in history, we have the chance to give a little bit of opportunity to those who need it most. For the first time in this country, we can look at the weary and downtrodden and tell them "It's ok. Don't worry about getting sick. All of us taxpayers? We got your back."

For the first time, we can be the people our Christian nation claims to be.

I hear all this talk about repealing Obamacare, and all I can think is "What if that had been me?" I got lucky, but there are many, many more who don't have that chance, and all the politicians can say is "let's take that away?"

One thing that has shocked me more than anything else this election is the sheer amount of people who claim to be Christian yet willingly attack a measure to help others. I realize it's flawed. A repeal doesn't solve that. All that does is twist the knife in the hearts Christ commanded us to heal. You can talk about social issues all you want (and most of you know my position), but the heart of the matter is this: There are millions of people in this country - men, women, and so many children - that have next to nothing, and all I hear is whining about helping them. That makes me sick. I can spout scripture, I can quote facts and statistics, and it doesn't seem to matter. The rhetoric is so strong and laced with hatred that reason and compassion fails to pierce through.

So do this for me. I won't tell you who to vote for, but please. For the love of all of us, think. Use your head. Use your heart. Vote responsibly.

-Brandon "Innocence Jaded" Nolan

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Right Continues With Tactics Of Fear And Fallacies



Once again I have come across propaganda claiming President Obama is a Muslim.  It seems this stuff is out there no matter where you turn.  What does it matter whether he is or isn't?  For that matter what does it matter that his challenger is of the Mormon faith?  The people who continue to make this election about a candidate’s faith are no better than the Taliban we are fighting and in fact, have more in common with them than they can fathom.

If we adhere to the separation of church and state that founding father and President Thomas Jefferson felt so strongly in favor of, then it should not matter whether the president is Mormon, Church of Christ, or even Muslim.  Personally, I believe it is about the policies and vision for our collective future and not their belief in what happens when we die, that should determine which candidate we support.  It is this vision for our collective future that every American voter should concern themselves with and not whether a candidate prays or to whom they pray.



Speaking as a Catholic, neither of the presidential candidates shares my faith yet I have the utmost faith that they both love this country dearly and wish to see it succeed.  I simply believe that President Obama’s vision is in line with mine and that Governor Romney’s vision was proven unsuccessful from 2001-2009.   Their faiths do not and should not have any bearing upon my vote.    Governor Romney being Mormon or President Obama being Church of Christ has no more bearing on their qualifications or patriotism than it would if one or both both of them were Muslim, Hindu or Atheist for that matter.

For your entertainment, here is a links to the video and website that inspired me to vent in the form of this post:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HkjFc3S21nY;  http://www.infiltratednation.com/2012/10/the-obama-timeline-can-it-all-be.html?spref=fb

-The Progressive Cop

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Presidential Politics, The Oath Of Office, And Islamophobia


               

          I recently came across a post online that said something to the effect of how the mere fact that every American president going back to George Washington having sworn the oath of office on a bible is “proof that America was founded as and is a Christian nation.  The poster went on to conclude that with a perceived pursuit of Sharia law by our courts under the administration of a supposedly undercover Islamic president that the tradition could change at the next inauguration if our president is reelected.  The implication was that President Obama would shock the world by swearing into a second term with his hand on a Koran.  My reply to this post was that if tradition were to be broken it would be far more likely that it would be someone swearing in with their hand on a Book of Mormon.  In doing this, I wasn't trying to stir angst against any religion or political figure but instead I was simply trying to keep it real for the radical right.  By the way, I cannot remember where this post was and all attempts I have made to re-locate it for this blog post have failed.

 In reality a person’s religious beliefs generally should not matter in a presidential election unless that candidate intends to govern the nation by imposing their religious beliefs on the nation.  Vice President Biden said it best in the VP debate when he said about his faith and belief on abortion, that his Catholic faith “defined” him but that he did not believe he should impose his faith on Americans of other faiths.  I proudly share Vice President Biden’s Catholic faith and his belief on the role that our shared faith should play the public arena.

Islamophobia like many other phobias, irrational by definition, has no business in our political process.  Those who profess such irrational fears should be ignored and pushed out of every political discussion.  To those on the right who continue to think that being Muslim is somehow a disqualifier to the Office of President of the United States of America and that our current president is a latent Muslim, I have to ask then, did you believe President Obama to be a Muslim when you tried to stress the years he and the first family spent sitting in Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ?

Irrational fear of something the very definition of a phobia.  It is irrational to fear other religions, other sexual identities, other nations, other ideologies, and other people in general, simply because they are different from us.  I suspect that it is not a matter of religious beliefs but appearance, melanin in the skin, that is the difference between the first family and the majority of Americans, particularly right wing Americans, and that is the source of this irrational fear of our president.  

In the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”  I ask you all to fear not but instead to vote and to vote to continue progress!

-The Progressive Cop

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Critical Theory Part 9: "The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism"

This is the ninth entry of an extended series outlining capitalism, it's history, oppressive nature, and the fundamental problems with modern Western Christianity as its champion. This post explores the origin of the Christian/Capitalist ethic, specifically referencing Max Weber's works. Cited sources can be found here.

How then, did Christianity become the standard-bearer for capitalism? Weber suggests that this came about after the Protestant Reformation, during the rise of Calvinism. As Calvinism took hold and gained popularity in multiple Protestant sects, rational capitalism was also picking up speed (Weber, 1905). The core doctrine of Calvinism is predestination, which is the doctrine “that God eternally decreed the salvation of some and the damnation of others, not in view of the good or evil deeds they would do, but simply ‘because he willed it’” (Kilcullen, 1996). Salvation was not guaranteed based on strength of faith or on deeds performed. Rather, salvation was dependent upon the mystery of God’s will. This meant that “part of humanity is saved, the rest damned” (Weber, 1905, p. 742). This posed a crisis for Calvinists. How were they to know that they were predestined for salvation? For Christians, “God’s grace is, since His decrees cannot change, as impossible for those to whom He has granted it to lose as it is unattainable for those to whom He has denied it” (Weber, 1905, p. 751).

Since it is impossible to fully understand or know the will of God, Calvinists sought to alleviation from their “salvation anxiety.” A Calvinist cannot be “certain of his own election, he has at bottom only the answer that we should be content with the knowledge that God has chosen and depend further only… in Christ which is the result of true faith” (Weber, 1905, p. 827). There is no external difference between those predestined for salvation and those who are destined for eternal suffering. Therefore, Calvinists were forced to look for signs in their own existence as verification of salvation. The led Calvinists to “seek reassurance in… the belief that God signifies his favor by giving prosperity to the undertakings of the elect” (Kilcullen, 1996). According to Weber (1905), “In order to attain that self-confidence, intense worldly activity is recommended as the most suitable means… it alone disperses religious doubts and gives the certainty of grace” (p. 850).

The Protestant faith was experiencing a debacle that had never quite been encountered before the Reformation. Members, especially those of the Calvinist persuasion, could not be reassured of their salvation by means of the priesthood. Instead, the only guarantee of salvation was through the divine will and foresight of God, which was unknown to the mortals. To alleviate this anxiety felt by believers for not knowing their eternal fate, they took cues from the world. It was deemed that material wealth was a sign of God’s good graces, a blessing bestowed upon the elect. Wealth became the measure of salvation, and spurred its accumulation. Thus, “In practice this means that God helps those who help themselves” (Weber, 1905, p. 867). By their warped thinking, the accumulation of material was a sign from the almighty that their salvation was assured (Weber, 1905).

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Have You Forgotten?



In the early 2000’s a hit song by Darryl Worley, Have You Forgotten, became the rallying cry for the right against those of us who thought from the very beginning that invading Iraq was the greatest blunder in the War on Terror.  Crowds took to the streets in cities across the world in protest to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq under the premise that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and either had shared or planned to share them with Al Qaeda. 



Bush was miraculously successful in connecting Hussein, a secular dictator who stood for the very principles Osama Bin Laden railed against, to Bin Laden by making us fear that the next 9/11 would come in the form of the infamous “mushroom cloud.”  The Bush administration and their supporters began to publicly question the patriotism of any American who dared to ask what Hussein had to do with the 9/11 attacks.  Bill O'Reilly of Fox News even advocated renaming the "french" fry the "freedom" fry as a slight to our NATO ally to whom we owe our very independence and who gave us our Statue of Liberty, after France suggested invading Iraq was a bad idea and irrelevant to the War on Terror.  Remember seeing all of those "Boycott France" bumper stickers?

Watching our nation be led by the likes of Bush into an unnecessary war for bogus reasons while letting the real culprit of 9/11 slip away in the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan was a sickening time for me and for most rational Americans.  This disgust was fueled into downright hatred every time I heard Worley sing "don't you tell me not to worry about Bin Laden" after the song had just addressed the public angst over the invasion of Iraq as if Hussein and Bin Laden, Iraq and Afghanistan were interchangeable names.

Worley, like a huge chunk of Nashville stars of the early 2000's operated as de facto Bush Administration propagandists.  Remember what happened to the Dixie Chicks' Nashville career when they dared to speak out against Bush's war?  Nashville would have rather had Americans encouraged by Toby Keith to "put a boot in your ass" because "it's the American way."  That is precisely why, in disgust, I quite listening to contemporary country music during this time.  For my wife Ali, this was a time of stress in that when she would listen to country stations and clowns like Keith or Worley came on the radio, I would go into a tirade about the topics these clowns were carrying on about.  I cannot stress enough, even now, how much I hate these songs!

Now, as I see support for Mitt Romney and the Republicans running pretty much dead even with the President, I am brought back to Worley's question, "Have You Forgotten?"  Have we forgotten the waning years of the last GOP White House, when the economy was in free fall and the future looked so bleak?  Have we forgotten the damage done from eight years of fighting two wars completely on credit as the taxes needed to pay for those wars had been cut?  Have we forgotten the stress that many of our fellow Americans felt each day as they drove to work wondering if today would be the day they would face a lay off or have their position outsourced?  Have we forgotten the sights of house after house boarded up and foreclosed on in cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Orlando?  Have we forgotten how our property values across the nation, the only investment many Americans own, dropped by half in the wake of those foreclosures? 


Today, for completely different reasons, Darryl Worley's words echo like nails on a chalkboard in my ears into yet another decade.  To think that after four short years in which we have come so far from the bleak outlook we faced in 2008 that we would ever want to look back and give Bush's policies another chance is simply as outrageous as ignoring the people who attacked us on 9/11 and attacking a third party who was not involved, under the guise of fighting a War on Terror.  I plead for you to wake up America or have you forgotten?

-The Progressive Cop

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Critical Theory Part 8: The Christian Ethic (Continued)

This is the eighth entry of an extended series outlining capitalism, it's history, oppressive nature, and the fundamental problems with modern Western Christianity as its champion. This entry continues to take a critical approach to Christianity in America and related Christian economic ethic. Cited sources can be found here.


Biblical text presents a church similar to what I imagine Jesus had envisioned of his followers. In the book of Acts, the early church described a setting very similar to following the “golden rule” and other teachings of Jesus. Members of the church “were together, and had all things common; and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need” (Acts 2:44-45). This phrasing may seem familiar. In fact, Marx used a phrase similar to this description, a common socialist slogan in the nineteenth century: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (Marx, 1875). Those that had material possessions, and the means (ability) to attain them sold those possessions to those that had none (need). The members of the early church did this “day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord… they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart” Acts 2:46).

This is not an isolated incident, either. Another chapter explains that “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one [of them] said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32). This is another instance where the members shared every possession, not keeping private property to themselves. Again it strikes familiar tones with the works of Marx, who stated “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 212). It should be noted that Marx is proclaiming the abolition of private property regarding the capital structure, allowing it to be shared among the working class, just as members of the early church shared property amongst themselves (Marx & Engels, 1848).

There are distinct differences between the model of the early Christian church and the prominent modern Protestant church. While different denominations perform different rituals and have different interpretations of the scriptures, most still identify themselves as part of the larger whole of the Protestant faith (McGuire, 2002). Interestingly, however, different denominations tend to draw members of society from certain classes more than others. For example, “Episcopalians and Congregationalists (i.e., United Church of Christ) draw members disproportionately from the upper classes, while Holiness and Pentecostal groups draw relatively large proportions of members from the lower classes (McGuire, 2002, p. 238). Religion also seems to relieve the “tension of economic deprivation by substituting the value of religious achievement for economic achievement” (McGuire, 2002, p. 239). Perhaps this is the reason Marx considered religion to be an “opiate of the masses” preventing the lower classes from seeking revolution (Coser, 1977). Religion also plays a heavy factor in maintaining oppression of others in the social structure. Especially in a capitalist state that is built upon growth through oppression, religion serves to “legitimate existing social arrangements, especially the stratification system” (McGuire, 2002, p. 240). Religion has “historically explained and justified why the powerful and privileged should have God’s approval of their hard work and moral uprightness” (McGuire, 2002, p. 240). These two factors combined allow capitalism to continue to exploit and oppress the masses without fear of revolution.

A 2011 Gallup poll on religious identity found that “78% of American adults identify with some form of a Christian religion” (Newport, 2011). 15% of American adults did not identify with any religion, which means that “95% of all Americans who have a religious identity are Christians” (Newport, 2011). Of those that identified themselves as Christian, 52.5% identify themselves as Protestant. According to Gallup, “in two separate surveys conducted… an average of 55% of Americans said religion is very important in their lives” (Newport, 2011). Gallup also did a study to measure Christians’ “love of neighbor” as stated in Jesus’ Great Commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27b). Regarding the statement “I believe all people are loved by God, therefore I should love them too, regardless of race, creed, wealth or place in life,” 76% of respondents agreed that the statement applied completely to them (Gallup Jr, 2003). The statement “I believe that a Christian should live a sacrificial life, not driven by pursuit of material things,” received a positive response of only 50%. Only 44% identified with the statement that "God calls me to be involved in the lives of the poor and suffering," and only 31% agreed that their "first priority in spending money is to support God's work" (Gallup Jr, 2003).

While a majority of Americans profess to maintain Christian beliefs, "there appears to be a fall off on survey items dealing with Christian 'practices'" (Gallup Jr, 2003). This is interesting, as it provides perhaps clear insight into the reason capitalism, though it contradicts core Christian ideology, still remains prevalent among a nation that has a strong Christian majority. The Christian church is strongly alienated from its doctrine, even though the scriptures are available en masse. One Protestant church theorized that “since [Jesus] never required disciples to surrender all wealth to the poor, modern Christians should not surrender theirs either. Rather, they should strive for wealth and put it to good use” (Ribuffo, 1981, p. 209). There is a strong disconnect between the early church and the one that practices its particular brand of religion on American soil, even though the two share the same God and the same commandments.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Critical Theory Part 7: The Christian Ethic

This is the seventh entry of an extended series outlining capitalism, it's history, oppressive nature, and the fundamental problems with modern Western Christianity as its champion. This entry begins a critical approach to Christianity in America and related Christian economic ethic. Cited sources can be found here.



While there are many interpretations of the Protestant Bible, this report will use one of the more recent interpretations: the American Standard Version (ASV). This version is similar in wording to the classical interpretation of the King James Version (KJV). Christian doctrine, from its inception during the life of Christ to the present day church, has changed countless times. Biblical interpretations and doctrine vary between both Protestant and Catholic sects, and there are approximately two hundred Christian groups in America alone, and “each of these maintains some peculiar attitude in faith or in practice” (Moehlmann, 1922, p. 17). This study will attempt to examine a generalized version of Christianity in America. Moehlmann (1922) argues that instead of attempting to make distinction between the varying doctrinal interpretations of Christianity, “it is easier and more worth-while to interpret the New Testament” (p. 26). He contends that the church’s attempt throughout history to interpret and summarize the text has created a superficial replacement for faith (Moehlmann, 1922).

One basic point of traditional Protestant doctrine is that “the wealthy have no more access to heaven than anyone else” (Paul, 2011). To understand the contradictions between modern Protestant ideology and traditional teaching, I will examine several instances in scripture that illustrate a strictly anti-capitalist attitude. In the book of Matthew, chapter nineteen, Jesus is approached by a wealthy man who asks what must be done to enter the kingdom of heaven. After Jesus commands the man to ensure that he follows all the commandments set in the Old Testament. The man acknowledges that he has complied thus far with the commandments, so Jesus instructs the man to “sell that which thou hast, and give to the poor, and… come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). Scripture mentions that when the man heard this, he “went away sorrowful; for he was one that had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22). Jesus then announces to his followers that “It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And… it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Matthew 19:23-24). What Jesus is trying to point out to his followers is that living a life devoted to God required sacrifice, and that the wealth of individuals was a hindrance to following his commands.

In Matthew chapter twenty-five, Jesus illustrates the coming of heaven to his followers, mentioning that “I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:35-36). When his followers question when these things happened to him, Jesus answered, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, [even] these least, ye did it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus’ emphasis on the “least” individuals is an important distinction. He calls on his followers to treat others as if they were treating him. This is an extension of the “golden rule” that he presents in an earlier sermon. This rule instructs “All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). This distinction is important, especially considering the oppression experienced by impoverished individuals in the United States, and the stigma that maintains an air of indifference regarding their welfare (Russell Sage Foundation, 2006). In both of these instances, Jesus is appealing to the values and moral sets of his disciples, instructing them to treat all men as if they were either Jesus, or as if they were in the same position. With that logic presented, it would seem the church would be focused toward a more socialist-style environment that consisted of sharing of material possession with others and equal treatment regardless of social, political, or economical status. While this is the case in the early church, as evidenced in New Testament scripture, the modern Christian church tends to slant toward capitalistic values while reinterpreting the teachings of Jesus and the early church (Ribuffo, 1981).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Critical Theory Part 6: Other Critical Theorists

This is the sixth entry of an extended series outlining capitalism, it's history, oppressive nature, and the fundamental problems with modern Western Christianity as its champion. This entry examines three other popular Critical Theorists: Adorno, Marcus, and Habermas. This concludes the entries following the historical thinkers. Tomorrow begins the critical examination of Christianity. Cited sources can be found here.



T. W. Adorno
T.W. Adorno worked closely with Horkheimer on Critical Thinking, especially in regards to critique of capitalism and fascism during the height of World War II (Kellner, 1989). During this time, Horkheimer and Adorno shifted their focus to extending their “critique of fascism and capitalism, [and] they distanced themselves from the Marxian theory of history and critique of political economy” (Kellner, 1989, p. 83). Adorno focused his theories on philosophical models of modern society that didn’t rely on definitions put in place by reigning institutions (Held, 1980). Adorno believed that “the struggle for emancipation depends upon particular material and historical conditions, which… are less and less favorable to its success” (Held, 1980, p. 212).

Adorno and Horkheimer worked together to write Dialect of Enlightenment, which sought to discover “why humanity, instead of entering into a truly human condition, is sinking into a new kind of barbarism” (Kellner, 1989, p. 85). This work is a turn from the disciplinary sciences in favor of a more philosophical stance because they believed the scientific method and thought “had become increasingly formalist, conformist, instrumental and in thrall to the interests of the existing social system” (Kellner, 1989, p. 85). They argued that current thought had shifted to accommodate the dominant ways of thought, which devalued their critique. Because the language and symbols themselves had begun to shift in favor of the oppressive capitalist state, a scientific critique on the system would be subject to scrutiny. According to Kellner (1989), Adorno argued “There is no longer any available form of linguistic expression which has not tended toward accommodation to dominant currents of thought; and what a devalued language does not do automatically is proficiently executed by societal mechanisms” (p. 85-86). The current social structure had put in place a series of systems that limited expressions of Critical Theory as a factually based argument, and this caused a shift toward philosophical discourse (Kellner, 1989).

Dialect of Enlightenment was an attempt to present a new method of presenting the facets of Critical Theory without relying upon foundations that had become engulfed by dominant culture and bureaucracy. The work presented a massive philosophy of history “which encompasses the history and pre-history of the bourgeois subject and its attempts to dominate nature” (Kellner, 1989, p. 87). Adorno introduces the stage of enlightenment (an event similar to the historic period), where humanity is emancipated from domination (Kellner, 1989). Dialect of Enlightenment also contends that to “comprehend society we must know it from the inside; we must know its formative processes” (Held, 1980, p. 218). Adorno argues that “if society is treated as a ‘neutral object’, these processes will not be grasped” (Held, 1980, p. 218) and qualities of society will not be understood properly.

Herbert Marcuse

Herbert Marcuse stressed a greater value in the early writings of Marx, focusing on a general theory of labor and alienation as a common element in his writing. He emphasized the role of politics as a key structure in examining the current social stratus (Held, 1980). He also emphasized the utopian objectives of classical Marx, attempting to defend and reconstruct the socialist movement and objectives (Held, 1980). Held (1980) argues “The goals of his critical approach to society are the emancipation of consciousness, the nurturing of a decentralized political movement and the reconciliation of humanity and nature” (p. 224).

Regarding Critical Theory, Marcuse argued that the theory is oriented “toward the understanding of all forms of social practice and the factors which hinder their self-consciousness and free development” (Held, 1980, p. 224). He was aware that contemporary social structure had changed since Marxian theory on class conditions had first been introduced, and Marcuse stressed a rethinking of Marxian formula (Kellner, 1989). He argued that “the full weight of exploitation was falling more and more on marginal and nonintegrated groups: ‘outsiders’, unorganized and unskilled workers, agricultural workers, minorities, colonial groups and regions, prisoners, and so on” (Kellner, 1989, p. 111). Marcuse’s obstinate commitment to Marxian revolutionary politics, along with his growing insistence that the Institute take specific political positions, caused a growing ideological rift between himself and Adorno and Horkheimer (Kellner, 1989).

Marcuse also argued that one “should not criticize consumption and mass culture without also criticizing capitalism” (Kellner, 1989, p. 157), and that “one could say that according to Critical Theory one should not critique the consumer society without critiquing the capitalist mode of production of which it is an expression” (Kellner, 1989, p. 157). He claimed that mass productions, along with mass consumption, demand the entirety of an individual. Marcuse argued that “the production of commodity needs is the key to social integration in contemporary society” (Kellner, 1989, p. 157). With this in mind, it seems Marcuse was trying to connect consumerism with the oppressive nature of capitalism.

Jürgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas was brought up in Nazi Germany, and did not become a leading thinker in Critical Theory until the late 1950’s (Held, 1980). With the goal of self-emancipation from domination, “Habermas’s Critical Theory aims to further the self-understanding of social groups capable of transforming society” (Held, 1980, p. 250). Habermas argues that the recent course of history, particularly in early twentieth century with the major developments in socialist and capitalist societies, demands reformulation of Marxian theories.

Habermas argued that increasing interdependence between the state and economics could lead to “an ever greater involvement of administrators and technicians in social and economic affairs” (Held, 1980, p. 251). As capitalist society expands, it also fuses with science, technology, and industry, “to the emergence of a new form of ideology; ideology is no longer simply based on notions of just exchange but also on a technocratic justification of social order” (Held, 1980, p. 251). The more capitalist-centric the state becomes, the more intertwined the state becomes with economic institutions. Habermas argues that “demands of advanced capitalism restrict the scope and significance of democracy… [and] the state is ‘crisis ridden’ and unable to solve structural problems of unemployment, economic growth, and environmental destruction” (Bohman, 2005). He explored the notion that “growing pressures on the capitalist state to provide crisis management which will produce economic policies that will enhance capitalist accumulation” (Kellner, 1989, p. 191). As social institutions experience decline, the state, while interwoven with capitalist interests, will push forward policies that benefit the capitalist structure rather than the masses of society. Habermas was concerned that because of this social crises would remain unresolved in a capitalistic state because of social contradictions (Kellner, 1989).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Critical Theory Part 5: The Frankfurt School and Horkheimer

This is the fifth entry of an extended series outlining capitalism, it's history, oppressive nature, and the fundamental problems with modern Western Christianity as its champion. This post discusses the origin of the Frankfurt School and one of its top thinkers: Max Horkheimer. Cited sources can be found here.

Critical Theory traces its origin back to early twentieth century Germany. As Marxism began to see widespread teaching throughout German universities, it was realized that an institute for Marxist-oriented research would be highly beneficial (Kellner, 1989). In 1923, the Institute of Social Research was founded at the University of Frankfurt by Felix Weil. According to Seiler (2006), “One of the major purposes of the institute was to study (and eventually explain) the dynamics of social change,” especially in regards to the oppression of members of society. Horkheimer became the head of the Institute in 1930, and it was under his guidance that members fled to other countries ahead of the fascist uprising in Germany (Kellner, 1989). Members of the Institute fled first to Geneva, and then to New York to the Department of Sociology at Columbia University. Members of the Institute settled throughout the United States during World War II, and continued their work on Critical Theory. These members are known as the Frankfurt School (Seiler, 2006).

Max Horkheimer

Max Horkheimer was director of the Institute until 1958. Horkheimer agreed with Grunberg’s concern for theoretical analysis and empirical investigation of society, but he also “sought to discuss the role of theory and social research in a more radically historical and theoretical mode” (Held, 1980, p. 32). Horkheimer rejected the traditional purely philosophical approach to social context. Horkheimer “stressed the necessity of a program of interdisciplinary study in which ‘philosophers, sociologists, economists, historians and psychologists must unite in a lasting working partnership’” (Held, 1980, p. 33). Horkheimer also rejected the notion that economy was the single influence of society. He argued that the focus should be on interconnection between other institutions in society, along with the economy (Kellner, 1989). He claimed this would “result in a better understanding of the complexities of modern social life” (Seiler, 2006).

Horkheimer’s works examine the “concepts of metaphysics, character, morality, personality and the value of the human being” (Kellner, 1989, p. 15) as they appeared in capitalism during the 1930’s. He attacked bourgeois society, capitalism and imperialism in his early work Dammerung. He argued, “The capitalist system in the current phase is a world-wide system of organized exploitation. Its maintenance is the condition of immeasurable suffering” (Kellner, 1989, p. 15). It is important to note that while Horkheimer was critical of capitalism, he made an effort to distance his study of Critical Theory from politics “for fear that this would endanger the status of the Institute” (Kellner, 1989, p. 84).

Horkheimer stated that the goal of Critical Theory was to “assess the breach between ideas and reality” (Held, 1980, p. 183). To do this, he argued that immanent criticism, which “confronts the existent, in its historical context, with the claim of its conceptual principles, in order to criticize the relation between the two and thus transcend them” (Held, 1980, p. 183). An example of immanent criticism would be a later section of this paper that outlines the conflict that arises between Christian doctrine and the present support for capitalism by the modern Protestant church. Immanent criticism looks at the ideas presented by a particular group and society, and compares them to the effects and practices of members of that group, highlighting the inconsistencies that separate the idea and the practice (Held, 1980). Immanent criticism looks at the object of scrutiny, examining the conceptual ideas. It then examines the consequences of the ideas held by the object, and re-examines the conceptual principles of the object in consideration with those consequences. By examining an object this way, “a new understanding of the object is generated – a new comprehension of contradictions and possibilities” (Held, 1980, p. 184). Horkheimer notes that immanent critique, while useful, is bound to the cultural and chronological constraints within society. While this does not prevent maintaining a general critique of contradiction between ideals and their consequences, it is important to note that “justified positions for critique will not be justified ‘for all time,’ and will not have the same connotation ‘for all time’” (Held, 1980, p. 187). Standards of critique are mostly contextually and chronologically relative.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Critical Theory Part 4: Marx

This is the fourth entry of an extended series outlining capitalism, it's history, oppressive nature, and the fundamental problems with modern Western Christianity as its champion. This post covers perhaps the most brilliant and provocative (not to mention misunderstood) thinker of this age: Karl Marx. Cited sources can be found here.

Marx is a major figure in the economic and philosophical thought, and his work as a sociological theorist provided the basis for the Institute of Social Research. According to Marx, society “comprised a moving balance of antithetical forces that generate social change by their tension and struggle” (Coser, 1977, p. 43). He emphasized that struggle was the “engine of progress,” rather than peaceful growth. The manner in which men relate to one another in the “continuous struggle to wrest their livelihood from nature” (Coser, 1977, p. 43) is the motivating drive in human history. In order to satisfy both basic (food, water, shelter) and secondary (property, capital) needs, men engage in “antagonistic cooperation.” This is what forms the basis for the division of labor present in capitalistic society, and that division is what provides antagonism between the classes (Coser, 1977). In a capitalist society, oppression is implemented by the class that controls the means of material production. Control of material production allows for a simultaneous control of the means of mental production, prescribing a role of subjugation for the classes that are oppressed (Coser, 1977).

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels collaborated to author The Communist Manifesto: a blazing propaganda piece directed to the working class (the proletariat) to make them aware of the Communist Party’s platform against the wealthy (the bourgeois). The Communist Manifesto is a call to arms, so to speak for the proletariat to rise up against the bourgeois (Coser, 1977). According to Marx (1848), “The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggles” (p. 9). He argues that the modern bourgeois society has created “new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 12). Society has split into two classes, the proletariat and the bourgeois, and the bourgeois has maintained a state of oppression over the proletariat. This is done by “constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 46). This has allowed the bourgeois to manufacture a market for products to fulfill their ever-enlarging business structure. This expanse of the capital structure requires independence upon the market that, in turn, continues to expand the market (Marx & Engels, 1848).

According to Marx (1848), “the bourgeois has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population” (p. 65). The bourgeois established a vacuum by creating an urban empire of production. To better afford means of life the rural populations were drawn in. This made them dependent on the production of the bourgeois, maintaining a steady local workforce to supplement growing production facilities. In an attempt to further the avalanche of production, “differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class. All are instruments of labor, more of less expensive to use, according to their age and sex” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 112). As soon as the worker receives their compensation for labor, they are subject to “other portions of the bourgeois, the landlord, the shopkeeper, the pawnbroker” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 112).

Everywhere the proletariat turns, there are forces of oppression made present and controlled by the ruling class. Meanwhile, the lower and lower-middle class businesses and individuals find themselves in a situation of diminished profit, “partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which modern industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 122). Marx (1848) also contends that the specialized skill of these laborers is rendered useless by the massive productions methods by the bourgeois. Marx (1848) states that “Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 179). This is the basis of Critical Theory. As industry rises from the experience of a free market and a consumerist society, the laborer “sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 179). The proletariat finds itself in a vicious cycle of poverty and oppression that fuels further poverty and oppression. Marx contends that this is the reason the bourgeois is no longer fit to be the “ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law” (Marx & Engels, 1848, p. 188). Marx argued that this continuing state of oppression, coupled with increasing suffering of the proletariat, will lead to revolution and the eventual downfall of the bourgeois. He presented the notion of Communism as the answer to the class conflict presented by the capitalist structure. Communism would remove from the bourgeois the right to the property they use to subjugate others. It also promotes equal liability to labor, expecting equal work from all individuals to progress industry and society in a more equal fashion (Marx & Engels, 1848).