Friday, September 24, 2010

Religion and Business

Glenn Beck will have a program on the toxic mix of religion and the state today. I think I will change my schedule around to watch it.

I've been critical of Beck in the past. In Beck's universe, progressivism started in 1900 (as if the US was some sort of paradise before Teddy Roosevelt). The 1800s had really big problems such as slavery and the Civil War.

I criticize Beck's view. I see modern progressivism forming in the 1800s. Many of the strategies and ideas of the progressives formed as defense for the peculiar institution of slavery.

Please note, the ideas of the modern progressive stretch back into antiquity. The modern mix of ideas was a creation of the complex of ideas formed by Kant, Hegel (1770-1831) and Marx and imported by American philosophers such as Dewey.

I happen to include Joseph Smith and Brigham Young among the progressives. The early Mormon Church took stabs at establishing a theocratic based commune. When the attempts to established communes failed, there continued to be a very close tie between Church, business and state.

Polygamy was a form of sexual revolution.

The book of Mormon (published 1830) seems to have some very interesting parallels to the works of Hegel (1770-1831) whose philosophy of history was widely discussed during the time of Smith's revelations.

Hegel's historicism had the world spirit evolving through a series of great clashes between civilizations and the Book of Mormon just happens to be about a great clash between two civilizations called the Nephites and Lamanites.

Just as Hegel tried to predict the future evolution of history from a conflict driven view of history. Joseph Smith appeared to be making predictions based on a conflict driven view of history.

Thankfully, the modern LDS Church has given up on many of the oddities of Smith and Young. I find it interesting that Beck (a member of the LDS Church) has tip toed around progressive history and carefully skipped discussion of the roots of modern progressivism in the 19th century.

After Notes

Rats, I watched the show and found it lacking substance. The example of the evil comingling of church and state was Nazi Germany with hints that Soviet Union was really bad and there are some disturbing trends here at home where those seeking power still ply Christianity (when it suits political objectives) or ply anti-religion (when anti-religion suits political objectives).

A substantive review would see good and bad in all groups and individuals.

History is a long chain of experiments where people will try one path ... have good or bad results ... then try another path.

Successful societies allows multiple concurrent experiments with mechanisms that let the successful experiments win and unsuccessful ones fade.

My view of history is that early Mormons tried the progressive path with collectivization of resources, polygamy, a tight relation between church, state and commerce. Their experiment did not work out all that great. Now they are on a more traditional Christian path with better results.

Anyway, I heard an ad for Beck's show earlier this week and actually looked forward to hearing a substantive talk on the good and bad within states and churches. I was left feeling that I wasted an hour.

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